Showing posts from 2016


I am grumpy as hell and trying to find some constructive means to deal with it. I submitted this story and it got completely ignored. Some rising star newly on the leaderboard submits it hours after me, and it is currently on the front page and generating discussion. I would like to know how in the hell a possession of a Y chromosome seems to confer immunity to the duplicate filter. This makes no logical sense. I see men get away with this stuff all the time. And I am having trouble tonight not feeling like I am being crapped on by rampant sexism on HN.So, I have refrained from answering this front page Ask: Ask HN: What do you want to learn in 2017?I wrote a reply and didn't post it because I figure it would just get downvoted or otherwise be a shitty social experience for me. I think my reply started out with "I would like to finally figure out how to care less." and went on to bitch about how I am tired of feeling crapped on by the world. Or something along those line…

A Different Drum

It is Christmas. I am in a hotel, so I have access to internet, I am tired and failing to work and trying to occupy myself. I ended up answering a few questions on Metafilter and reading some of the backlog of stuff I haven't seen. It feels pretty negative for me to do this. Here lately, when I do post on mefi, I feel a bit like a drunkard who fell off the wagon. It feels like a bad habit I am failing to give up. I really don't like seeing a community that way. I would like to believe there was a misunderstanding and I can eventually establish a healthy relationship to the site. But I increasingly have my doubts. And I don't think it's me. I think it is mefi. I am increasingly aware of how horribly toxic the place is and it doesn't seem to work to try to keep participating positively.Although I have had a few people memail me -- about my lack of activity or to thank me for something I said to them before I mostly stopped participating or whatever -- I don't fee…

So Called Women's Rights

I submitted my last blog post to Hacker News. It got no upvotes and one comment. The comment was incredibly dismissive. In part, it said: There's the boilerplate definition of feminism: the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men
And then there are articles like this. Each one invents their own take on the concept, and why they have a problem with it. That reminds me of this brilliantly dry observation: The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread.

― Anatole France The problem is that the comment about my blog post is not intended to be a dry witticism. It is merely dismissive of women who are trying to say "Here is what I think is wrong with feminism and why it does not work."

Presumably, we are merely supposed to unthinkingly embrace anything that labels itself feminism and be happy with that. Because women aspiring…

The Ugly F Word

No, not that one. I am talking about the word Feminist.

I get accused of being that. I have been accused of it for years and it's like "Hello? I was a full time mom and homemaker for a lot of years!"

And then when I say I am not, people come up with weird ideas about what motivates me to say that. I can't think of any examples, but I am always like "Um, no. I can't even."

The thing is this: Feminist seems to mean "I believe a woman -- ME -- is just as entitled to a serious career as a man." And here are my problems with that:

First of all, no one at all is entitled to a serious career. There are plenty of men out there that haven't had some spiffy, awesome, prestigious, well paid career. Most men just have a job, not a career. Get over yourself already.

Second, what about the children? You are off pursuing your hard-charging career for 40+ hours per week and so is your man because, obviously, your man needs to be even more accomplis…

Fruit of the Poison Seed

"Never attribute to malice that which can readily be explained by ignorance (or stupidity, lack of awareness, a blind spot, etc)" I prefer to chalk up most negative experiences in life to error, misunderstanding, tragic happenstance and so forth. But I feel quite poisoned by my experiences on Metafilter and the site seriously tests my ability to remain faithful to that non-accusatory framing.

People on Metafilter advocate "Punch up, not down," but the site as a whole does not practice what it preaches. The pattern of prejudice I have experienced there as a homeless person suggests that the mods frequently err on the side of what is comfortable for classist assholes there, at my expense, instead of insisting the assholes get off my back and stow it.

Never mind that "Punch up, not down." strikes me as an inherently broken model that assumes we must punch someone and the only decision is whom. The site is rife with these unquestioned assumptions and com…

Facebook Live: Power in your hand to capture national attention, for good or ill

Although this Washington Post article has a very sensationalized title focusing on a single recent tragic event, the title is incredibly deceptive. The article itself actually details multiple events, all very sensational, though each with its own character of either tragedy or fuel for moral outrage.

But the article touches on a larger issue, worthy of serious discussion. In the passages between the rubber necking sensational descriptions, there are these important details: Facebook Live launched in 2015 and allows users to stream live video to their Facebook pages, where others can watch in real time, or after the fact. The service is used in a variety of capacities, from broadcasting breaking news, protests and events to giving lectures or communicating with friends. Since Facebook Live launched in April, millions have used the service to offer a glimpse into the big moments and small details of their lives.

The view isn’t always pretty. The nascent live-streaming service is…

They Say Leia and Han Kissed

Some days back, I read an article about Carrie Fisher's new book "The Princess Diarist" in which she finally fesses up to having had an "intense" affair with Harrison Ford during the making of the original Star Wars movie. Although I don't recall hearing this before, the affair has purportedly been a long standing rumor. Presumably, no one is particularly shocked.

The first article I saw characterized the affair as a situation where Harrison was a 32 (or 33?) year old married man with two kids and Carrie was a "teenager." So, I went looking for data.

It took a bit to determine that Carrie was about 19.5 when Star Wars began filming. She turned 20 not long after filming wrapped up.

There are a number of things that bother me about this shitty, salacious framing of the situation:

It is the closest you can come to implying he was a pedophile and guilty of statutory rape without actually saying it.I cannot recall ever hearing any objection to the…

One FLOHN Over the Cuckoo's Nest

I have heard for years -- and witnessed for years -- that women (as a group) are our own worst enemy. I recall hearing the phrase "women eat their own" as a tldr of the issue.

I have longstanding, very back burner plans to try to talk about those social dynamics on this blog in the kindest way possible in hopes of empowering women to find a better way, but I do not have time for that right now. But things are getting a little crazy for me on Hacker News, so I need to do something sooner than I can get to that project.

This post is about the fact that I am seeing an uptick in remarks 1) by other women 2) in response to me 3) on Hacker News 4) that I feel are not very nice, in essence. In some cases, these women very clearly know who I am and I have absolutely no idea who they are.

I have been small time internet famous for a long time. For various reasons, I intentionally lowered my profile for a while and have recently begun reversing that process. Suffice it to say, a…

North American Aerial Photographs by Pablo López Luz

I tripped across these works a couple of weeks back and was intrigued by the GIS angle. They are beautiful photos and the artist intentionally framed them to make it difficult to tell which nation you are looking at. His work began in 2014 and he desired to capture the similarity of the landscape that unites the U.S. and Mexico in the this part of North America.

Unfortunately, due to the subject matter of the photos, I have been unable to find any articles about these photos that do not give it an explicitly political spin, and never mind that the works predate the U.S election by at least two years. So I give you the artist's site where the photos appear without commentary:

Pablo López Luz

I apologize for blogging about it. If his site had any kind of commentary or framing for the photos -- or if I could turn up any non-political article about it -- I would have far preferred to just post the link directly to HN. (Perhaps there is such an article, but I am not able to find it.)…

Site of Global Seed Vault sees shockingly warm temps near thawing point

Svalbard, site of the Global Seed Vault (also called the "doomsday vault") is suffering from record warm temperatures near the freezing point -- aka the thawing point. Svalbard was chosen as the site of the Global Seed Vault for a variety of reasons, but one critical factor is how cold it is:

"...Svalbard offers almost perfect conditions: it is remote and thus safer than other possible locations and it is naturally cold. We wanted to have a facility that would stay naturally frozen without the aid of mechanical freezing equipment. Inside the mountain in the permafrost, we get steady below-freezing temperatures. We mechanically lower the temperature further to about minus 18 C [0 F], but this is much easier to accomplish when you start at -5 C [23 F] rather than above freezing."

If the electricity goes out or the refrigeration fails, the seeds will also still stay cold due to their location.
Associated Press put out an article today about the "shocking"…

Imperfect Reflections Pt 2: The Women of Aflac

American Family Life Assurance Company -- AKA Aflac -- was founded in Columbus, GA in 1955. I was born ten years later in the same city.

After a brief detour to Germany at an early age, I returned to Columbus. The summer I turned 3 years old, my father bought a house there and retired from the Army. I graduated high school with some of the same kids with whom I had attended kindergarten.

A couple of weeks before high school graduation, I got romantically involved with a classmate. I married him about 18 months later and he then joined the military.

In the years that I was a military wife, I sometimes visited family and friends in my home town -- sometimes even for weeks or months at a time -- but I did not really live there again until I got divorced. At about age 40, I returned home and I got my first full time paid job at Aflac when I was 41.

Aflac is a Fortune 500 company and at that time it was supposedly the largest employer in Columbus, GA. So it is no real surprise that so…

Imperfect Reflections Pt 1: My Sister

Indian Soldier: Are you the Lord Buddha?

Dalai Lama (adult): I believe I am a reflection, like the moon on water. When you see me, and I try to be a good man, you see yourself.

-- Lines from the movie Kundun This multi-part series is not about reincarnation nor Buddhism. It is about women who cause me to reflect upon my life due to me seeing something similar about us, highlighted by differences in detail and outcome.

In some cases, these are women who have enough in common with me that it evokes that idea of "There but for the grace of God go I." Though I certainly don't mean it as a put down of them. I just don't know an equivalent phrase that lacks the unfortunate subtext. In other cases, these are women who have walked a path I want or wanted to walk (in some sense) but haven't.

I consider their lives to be good food for thought for my own journey. It is a somewhat rare opportunity to think in a meaty way about both the road taken and the road no…

When Women Need Support Post Election, Huff-Po Gets It Backwards

So, I was doing Bing searches and tripped across this article: The Great Female Post-Election Libido Crash

The title is not terrible. It made my short list of stuff to click into and check out.

The opening is not bad: As a sex educator and body empowerment coach for women, the results are in. Female Libidos have taken a big hit post election; my guess is that women are not alone. The reports that are coming in from between the sheets is well —-not much. With over 400 reports of violence since the election; the nation’s unrest has become the reason for a lot of "Not tonight Dear, I have a headache." Part of what the next paragraph says is In warring nations, one of the first things that usually happens is an attack on the opposing sides female genitals. Between the nation’s apparent dismissal of “Grab her pussy” and the threats against a woman’s reproductive rights — many women are feeling that fear deep in their DNA right now. Then that paragraph ends with a bunch of clap…

My Three Biggest Epiphanies in Life

I was molested and raped as a little girl. Unsurprisingly, I spent my teens and early twenties saying all kinds of ugly things about ALL MEN.

I got married at age 19 (to another 19 year old). A couple of days before our second wedding anniversary, I learned my birth control had failed and I was pregnant. We already knew we wanted kids, we just thought we would have them a little later.

So, the day after my 22nd birthday, I gave birth to a bouncing baby boy.

I really liked kids and I was happy to be a mom. It did not take me long to figure out that if I wanted him to grow up to be a healthy adult, I needed to stop spewing poison about ALL MEN.

Even if it didn't twist him up his first 18 years, the day he turned 18, he would legally be a man and he would have spent 18 years hearing what his mom thought of ALL MEN. It couldn't possibly be good for the kid.

So, that was my first big epiphany.

I had already done therapy in my teens and returned to therapy in my mid twen…

Compliments at work: Not too hot, not too cold, just right

I was one of the top students of my high school class. It helped isolate me socially. People were intimidated or whatever. So, at an early age, I got in the habit of using self deprecating humor to try to put other people at ease. When I was in my forties and working an entry level job at a Fortune 500 company, I ran into the highest ranked woman from my department in the bathroom. She made some remarks that had me going "Whoa! With all your success, your self esteem is still in the toilet?!" Then I suddenly realized she was probably doing to me what I had done to so many other people over the years: Using self deprecating humor to try to put me at ease. That's when I suddenly realized that doesn't read at all like I thought it did and I needed to find a new tactic.I asked around and a career woman I knew suggested complimenting other people instead of putting myself down. But, that didn't seem to really work either.My experience has been that when I compliment o…

Getting started in open source as a non-programmer

Yesterday, I got some really good answers to my questions in this HN discussion (thank you to the people who gave me those good answers) and I began compiling information on a page of this site called My Sandbox. That page is currently linked at the top of this site -- for my convenience, actually, but feel free to make use of it. That page includes direct links to the questions I asked and a short version of my two main questions.

I have been a member of Hacker News for some years. It was clear to me other people were figuring out how to make connections there and collaborate and so on, but, for the longest time, it largely escaped me. A recent watershed moment for me was setting up the Google Group Blind Dev Works.

I tend to be both quite sociable and very helpful. I have struggled for a lot of years with how to hit the right balance there.

Unfortunately, it is all too common that if you are helpful to other people and good at dealing with emotional and social stuff, people wil…

My "Agenda" for Hacker News

Years ago, I showed up on Hacker News wanting to engage people in conversation who are smart and interesting and talking about interesting things.

I showed up there as a divorced single mom with an entry level job I could not get myself promoted out of and I was all "Yay! A forum big enough and full of enough smart, accomplished people that no one will pay a lick of attention to little ole me. I can just TALK to people! As much as I want!!!! And no one will care at all!!!! This is totally awesome to the max!!!!"

I was pleased as punch.

And then things went sideways. It took me a really long time to figure out that I was "prominent" for a woman there and this was the source of a lot of the drama I was experiencing.

Now, it just so happens that I have a substantial skillset that left me unusually well equipped to combat the subtle sexism that was getting in the way of me being able to simply talk with people like I wanted to. I have spent a lot of time and effort…


If you just want contact info: talithamichele is my primary handle on both gmail and twitter and I now have a github account with that handle. You can call me talithamichele and I will respond to that, but if you want to shorten it, it is better to shorten it to Michele. Practical, busy people who just need to know a) how to contact me and b) what to call me can stop here.Folks who need to understand why for some reason can read on.This post is inspired by two recent events. For one, I started a new Github account because I could not remember the login credentials of my little used existing account. I ended up with the handle talithamichele because, of course, Michele was taken and the other thing I tried was taken and I figured I could easily remember talithamichele because it is my email address and I did not want to spend all day on setting this up, so I lazily went with that. The other thing that occurred is that a total stranger emailed me and opened the email with "Hi Talit…

Blind Dev Works

Three days ago on October 28th, I tripped across this discussion on Hacker News: Ask HN: Any other blind devs interested in working on dev tools for the blind?

By the time I found it, a number of people had already said "Shoot me an email." It struck me that a collaboration space would add a lot of value here. I felt that would be better than blinddev trying to wrangle a bunch of individual email discussions with a bunch of different people.

I took the liberty of setting up a Google Group called Blind Dev Works and announced it in the thread. I am a woman and not a programmer. I often feel I do not get taken seriously on Hacker News. I figured I would be totally ignored.

The following morning, I had an email requesting an invitation to the group. So, I sent the invitation. Later in the day, I was futzing around, not getting much of anything done -- which is often the case, due to my medical situation -- and it occurred to me that all the people who had said "shoot …

Being a woman on the internet

This week has been eventful and tumultuous. Such periods tend to include a lot of highs and lows and big feelings.One of the highlights of this week was a short email from a woman who called me brave for being openly a woman on the internet. There are plenty of women who are openly female online, so that seemed an odd statement to me. However, she had found my email address through Hacker News, and it is a known fact that some women that participate on HN actively hide their gender.I told her I don't think of myself as brave. I think it more likely I just have a background that makes it safer and easier for me.Part of that background is that my father and ex husband were both career military. I was a homemaker and military wife for a long time before becoming a divorced single mom. If you look at human history, highly militarized cultures and times of war tend to be good for women's rights. During World War I, women were asked to donate their corsets and many layers of skirts …

My Bugaboo about "Dating"

There is an older piece on my blog called No Dating Required where I talk about my personal "no dating" policy. It is one of the oldest pieces on the site. In fact, it was written before this blog existed, and it made the short list of posts that got republished here when I closed down several older sites of mine, moved the content, and restarted my various web projects.

At the time that it was written, my writing had a far more limited audience than is true today. I have reason to believe the piece in question was understood just fine by my audience at that time, but my audience has grown a bit and it seems to not be that clear to people reading it these days.

Early in the piece, I explicitly define what I mean by the term "dating." I define it as men spending money on women in hopes of getting laid.

I am very well aware that is not how most people would explicitly define the term. This is precisely why the term not only appears in quotation marks but then …

It is called Testifying

About 18 years ago, I joined my first email list. It was a gifted homeschoolers list. Parenting advice is touchy territory and gifted kids are edge cases to begin with. Over time, it became clear to me that the gifted homeschooler crowd tended to be even more edgy than average. Very often, either the kids are highly gifted, and thus they do not fit into the school gifted program, or they are twice exceptional and really, seriously do not fit (or both and then, yeah, good luck with that).So, the rules on list said in part "One size does not fit all" and "Either cite your sources or speak from firsthand experience." In other words, it was fine to say "When we had that issue, x worked for us" and it was also fine to say "According to X book, the best way to handle that is..." It was absolutely not fine to say "You should do x." Saying "You should do x" was invariably all kinds of drama. It was extremely problematic and it was ju…

The Fly in the Ointment

A couple of years ago, there was a MetaTalk on Metafilter about answers in medical asks. It was not actually inspired by this ask about someone being bitten by a feral cat, but that ended up getting discussed.

Ultimately, the individual who had posted the Ask about the feral cat ended up closing their account. The long and short of it is they ended up feeling pressured into getting rabies shots by people on Metafilter -- which contradicted the actual medical advice they had gotten from multiple doctors -- and they ended up regretting it.

Just days later, there was an Ask posted by someone whose friend had put out a fire the night before and was wondering if they needed to see a doctor or not. They had gotten a face full of smoke, but no serious burns. So far, they had not gone to see a doctor.

The answers generally struck me as a good deal less strident than they often are on AskMe. People seemed to be trying to hedge their bets and not sound pushy. I felt this was rooted in the …