I Hitchiked 20 Years To Ask You A Question

You were the only person I had to look up to when it came to programming. We spent days working, talking, and exploring the world of compute, before the Internet ever came along. By the time we got the Internet we were already so high. We still played, explored, but it was in its infancy, and we were so, so lost. We couldn’t even make the keys work within hours of being together, were were in another universe, in a separate space. Out of this world. Out of our minds.

Honestly, I don’t remember being the first one to give it to you, but your wife, and your mother told me at your funeral that I did. They wouldn’t turn me in to the police for what we did. For helping you, when you couldn’t do the work yourself. I still have the smell in my nose. You were my brother. I would do it again. Knowing that I was the first to get you hooked would be my sentence. I would be doing life without you. I can’t ask you questions about programming anymore. I had to figure out all the answers for myself. Doing it all alone.

I’m sorry, Manny. I’m sorry I got you hooked. I wish we could go back to Mt. Rose and do it all over again. I wish we could keep programming. We would rock this Internet world together. We’d own this shit. In the last five years I’ve finally have found a handful of folks who I look up to when it comes to programming and software architecture, but it took me 20 years. It was a long and lonely search. I’ve also found a partner who I can talk to about what happened. I have never shared this story with anyone along the way, I just hit the road. Doing what I needed to do.

In the last year I’ve also found my true voice. It is the first time I’ve been able to talk about you. Last summer was the first story, and this is the second. I think that this is how I will be able to resurrect you. Have you along my side again. Telling the stories that I would want to share with you. Talk to you about what I’m building, and the challenges I’m facing. Ask you the questions which I don’t know the answer to. I remember hitchiking 1,000 miles just so I could ask you a question in person. I just hitchiked 20 years so I can ask you a question. I think I’ll keep visiting. Maybe I’ll remember that day I first got you hooked, and who knows what else I’ll remember along the way.

Stop Thief And Thinking I Am Talking About You

I am constantly reworking and reusing stories that are in my notebook for publishing across my network of sites. While doing my monitoring of the world of technology and how it is impacting our world I am constantly taking notes about a variety of personalities and characters I come across, which I use across my stories to drive home specific points. I’d say that 70% of what I write about is not directly about anyone in the real world, it is a mashup up people I’ve met and read about, rooted in a narrative about how I see the world, and rooted in my experiences. Making some of my stories seem very true, relevant, and timely. When in reality it’s fantasy, based upon reality, driven by my personal story.

The effect of this type of storytelling is that there are a number of people who reach out to me, thinking I’m talking about them. I’d consider this to be a form of “stop thief!” syndrome. Where a police officer yells “stop thief” on the streets, and you stop. What are you? I’m always fascinated by the folks who think I’m talking about them, and even more amazed by the folks who feel they need to reach out to me. I know that many people silently brood about this and do not reach out to me as well. Mission accomplished. If you think I’m talking about you, then yes, I probably am. When in reality, I’m rarely ever talking about a specific person. If I am, I’m referencing them by name. I tend to not beat around the bush.

This is an intentional part of the performance that is Kin Lane, and the API Evangelist. I purposely have developed a pantheon of API characters to reflect all of you. All of us. I purposely make them relatable, recognizable, likeable, and hateable. I add to their personality traits when I can, and develop new characters when I have to. I evolve them based upon my real word conversations, and what I’m reading each day. I keep my characters in sync with the current business and politics of how technology is impacting the world around us. This helps me make my stories more relatable to the level where people think I’m talking about them. Then after I root them in my own experiences, tell stories in my voice, people are usually convinced I’m talking about them. They know me. The characters I’m talking about reflect them, so I must be talking about them.

So, if you are reading anything on Kin Lane or API Evangelist and you think I’m talking about you. I am. Even though I am not. I’m just regularly yelling “stop thief” into the digital crowd to see who stops and turns around. I find it is the best way to get folks to self select, and put themselves into buckets. I find that people rarely are honest about who they are, and what they are up to. In my experience, people respond to stories. This is what makes the whole Facebook ad targeting, media cards, and psychological profiles such a powerful thing. You post a series of stories that fit a range of profiles, then you can target these folks with whatever message you want. I do this with API related things like design, security, privacy, monetization, data ownership, programming language dogma, and other illnesses that plague our sector. I appreciate you reading my work, tuning in, and assisting me in better understanding who you are, and where you stand in all of this.

I Am A Tech Bro

Some of my friends in the tech space tend to get upset at my usage of “tech bro”, when I wield it in negative ways, showcasing some of the illnesses that exist in the space. I wanted to shine a light on my views on the phrase, how I feel about it, and why I wield it like I do. First, I have to state that I am a tech bro. I am one, and see myself as one, although it is not really as a positive thing, but it isn’t something I can’t just shed, or just say that it is good, or magically make it become something positive, even though I tend to view myself and what I do in a positive light.

I am a tech bro because I am male. I am a tech bro because I am white. I am a tech bro because I am a software architect and programmer. I am a tech bro because I have taken venture capital, and I have done startups. I am a tech bro because I have aggressive tendencies. I am a tech bro because I have tendencies to talk over people, including women. I am a tech bro because I tend to respond to swinging dick situations with an equal response. I am a tech bro because there is significant portion of society I do not see because of my privileged position, and because I am generally a pretty clueless dude, despite (and because of) me being very tuned into technology. I am a tech bro because I still get stupidly excited over (some) new technology. I am a tech bro because I still think technology will do good, even though I’ve seen it do a lot of bad things (and that is only what I see). I am a tech bro because when a VC tells me that if I have any interesting startups or ideas that they would be willing to talk more, I still get excited, even though I know better.

Sure, I’m a nice guy too! However, whether I like it or not I am tech bro. When I walk into many government meeting room I’m seen as a tech bro. When I tell a group of women, or people of color what I do for a living, I am seen as a tech bro. I have done some work to try and redeem my tech bro status, pushing back on my fellow tech bros for giving us a bad name, but it will never change the way I’m viewed entirely. It is because we have done a significant amount of damage to many other people’s world. We’ve willfully gone around disruptive people’s world, and whether it was the right or wrong to do in each situation, we are still disrupting. Just because we don’t see all the damage, and are often in denial of it, and it doesn’t make us immune from what we’ve been labeled, and that is has become something negative. I wield the term tech bro in a fight fire with fire sort of way. I know that I personally do not response to many subtle signs, and I miss many cues, so I leverage this phrase because I know if will make some of my friends stop and think, even if it pisses them off. There are a number of friends who are not bothered by my usage at all, as they see nothing wrong it.

At this point I wish I wasn’t a tech bro. I wish I could undo my upbringing and career choices, but I can’t. I have tried to think of other things that I could do for my career, but I am good at what I do. I wish all my fellow tech bros would do more good than harm, but I know that the majority of them will never change, but it doesn’t stop me from pushing back, and trying. If you are still reading my work, and find yourself bothered by my usage of this term, chances are you are my friend. Chances are you think along similar lines to me. I’m not using it in a way to say, “you over there”. I’m using it in a way that says, “hey look at how we are behaving, let’s think about how we can change it”. I don’t think tech bros are all bad, but there is a large portion of our society who do. Let’s think some more about how we can change it, and push back on some of tech bro friends and collaborators and help open their eyes, so that maybe we won’t be seen in such a negative way across the industries we are working to make change in. We are working to make change, right?

White Supremacists Deplatforming Is Only A Slippery Slope Because You ONLY Defend The Worst

I’ve been simmering on the slippery slope argument that is the default out of tech bros when any freedom of speech argument emerges on the landscape lately. As some meaningful deplatforming of white supremacy is occurring, where tech companies are removing the accounts, data, content, and media of white supremacists, we see the predictable wave(s) of slippery slope arguments in response–if you start targeting the free speech of the worst, you are potentially damaging the free speech of everyone.

This is an argument I ignorantly made for many years, taking the messaging I’d heard around me, and parroted it out as requested by the machine around me. From my current vantage point, I can’t help but see this behavior as being in the service of the white dominated machine, and I am just doing my part to defend white supremacy, and working faithfully in service of the machine and the defense it provides me. All of this leaves me thinking: Why can’t we move the line back? Why does deplatforming hate speech from white supremacists a slippery slope?

It is only a slippery slope because us white dudes do not defend anywhere else along the slope. When you have friends of color up and down the slope, which you are defending free speech in the name of, the slope isn’t slippery at all–you have allies, and people you love all along the way. Because you have their back when it comes to free speech each and every day, they have your back. It is the fact that you only spend time defending the worst of the worst at the top, and do not have any friends you are defending regularly along the way, that the slope becomes slippery, and terrifying for you.

Why is the worst free speech white supremacy? What about sexual predators? Are you defending the free speech of sexual predators? To talk online about what they do? No. Because you have drawn the line between being a sexual predators as bad, and white supremacy speech as well, not that bad, because I’m white, or I need to perform for my white community because I need to remain part of what is going on. The worst free speech isn’t white supremacy, you have just made the decision to draw the line there, based upon where you feel comfortable, or do not feel comfortable. The fact that you don’t have any friends of color up and down the slope, is what makes you feel comfortable drawing the line here. The more friends of color you have, the less you will make this argument.

If you are making a slippery slope argument around the deplatforming of white supremacists lately have you thought deeply about why you feel it is a slippery slope? Do you know where you originally got this argument? I do. My racists, gun-toting, libertarian step-father. The current wave of deplatforming is only bad if we aren’t transparent about it, and do not engage in conversation with our platform communities around the deplatforming that is occurring. I think Paypal has done a fine job of making the language precise, and we can do this without it being a slipper slope. I feel that arguments against transparent, communicative, observable technology deplatforming is just in service of the current white dominated machine, which us white bros are programmed from an early age to defend.

An Escalation In The Deplatforming Of Hate

We’ve seen an escalation in the deplatforming of nazi and white supremacists hate groups lately, with companies like GoDaddy, Apple, Twitter, Facebook, Discord, Spotify, Cloudflare, Google, Squarespace, Paypal, Airbnb, GoFundMe, OkCupid, Twilio, SendGrid, Zoho, Reddit, Uber, Kickstarter, WordPress, LinkedIn, MailChimp, EventBrite, SoundCloud, Bumble, Instagram, Namecheap, Discover Financial Services, Visa, and Youtube denying them a place to spread their hate online, and off.

This deplatforming goes beyond just speech and involves hosting, dns, social network, credit cards, payments, fundraising, messaging, SMS, email, dating, music, audio, voice, video, images, newsletters, events, documents, links, comments, transportation, and lodging. Removing the digital components that are allowing hate groups to spread their message online, and radicalize others along the way.

This is not a slippery slope. This is just one adjustment on a single front along numerous frontline skirmishes across the cyber warfare landscape–hit them in the supply chain. I feel that Paypal’s message is pretty straightforward, and doesn’t open up any slippery slopes with, “this includes organizations that advocate racist views, such as the KKK, white supremacist groups or Nazi groups.” Let’s just all adjust our terms of service to reflect this and move on. We will discuss the next situation when it comes along, for now we just want to keep “organizations that advocate racist views, such as the KKK, white supremacist groups or Nazi groups” out of our communities, both on and offline.

The Connection Between My Brain, Fingers, and The Keyboard

I hear a lot of noise about voice as an interface. I don’t doubt that voice enablement will have it’s place, and be used in a variety of situations, I’m just not convinced that it will end be everything everybody is thinking it will be. My feelings on the subject are mostly because of how I see the world, but come to thinking about, all my feelings are this way. Hmmmm? While the API aspects of voice enablement like Alexa are interesting, I seriously doubt that it will become the primary interface for how folks engage with the web, and move too far beyond a novelty, because of the existing deal we’ve established between our brain and the keyboard.

There is an connection the exists between my brain, fingers, and the keyboard. This exists on my laptop, as well as my iPhone and iPad. I’m just not a talker. I just don’t talk on the phone. I make most conversations straight forward and to the point, and enjoy talking with people, not much else. I can’t even take audio notes. As I said, I recognize that this is completely from my perspective, and there are other folks who will adopt a voice enabled way of doing things, and be just find talking to get things done. I just don’t think it will be as many people as we think, and I don’t think it will be practical for much of what we need to get done. We need more connection, privacy, and isolation with our thoughts to accomplish what we need on the Internet each day.

Having a conversation, or verbally giving commands to my computer and devices just doesn’t seem as elegant as typing, with a combination of mouse or finger gestures via a trackpad. I’ve become pretty skilled with generating a pretty significant amount of content via a MacBook keyboard and trackpad. There are plenty of ways to optimize my output in this environment, I just don’t see going voice will bring me any benefits, efficiencies, or even be obtainable in the environment(s) I regularly work. I know many folks are looking to push forward technology, but there are some things I think just work, and will continue to work for sometime. I’ll keep experimenting with new technology that comes out, but I don’t see anything on the horizon that will disrupt the connection that exists between me and the keyboard, doing what I do online each day.

Fake News Is Just The Beginning

in the area of fake news](http://boingboing.net/2017/08/04/fbi-tracked-fake-news.html), but I wanted to explore some of the other fake I’m coming across in my regular monitoring of the news.

We’ve seen folks having an increasing number of conversations with fake accounts, and services working to tackle fake influencers on their platforms. Facebook is working hard to tackle fake ads using AI, and Google is busy running tests to identify fake advertising. Wells Fargo is artfully crafting a fake world where customers get fake bank accounts they never wanted, and receiving fake insurance they don’t know they have. You come across fake photos, fake customers, fake dating, and fake currencies.

Fake news is just one symptom in a fast spreading epidemic. The Internet excels at everything fake. A small portion of world has figured out how to amplify their message with everything fake online. Opposing forces are lining up to assist us with fake literacy, developing courses on how to spot all the fake things, and helping us developer strategies, frameworks, and processes for identifying and dealing with fake news and other aspects of our digital world. Both sides of the coin are gearing up to wage a fake war, with much of it funded by a fundamental component of the web these days–advertising. Google, Twitter, and Facebook are all tailored for this type of behavior, allowing everything fake to morph, evolve, and continuing to make a negative impact online.

Reducing Developers To A Transaction With APIs, Microservices, Serverless, Devops, and the Blockchain

A topic that keeps coming up in discussions with my partner in crime Audrey Watters (@audreywatters) about our podcast is around the future of labor in an API world. I have not written anything about this, which means I’m still in early stages of any research into this area, but it has come up in conversation, and reflected regularly in my monitoring of the API space, I need to begin working through my ideas in this area. A process that helps me better see what is coming down the API pipes, and fill the gaps in what I do not know.

Audrey has long joked about my API world using a simple phrase: “reducing everything to a transaction”. She says it mostly in jest, but other times I feel like she wields it as the Cassandra she channels. I actually bring up the phrase more than she does, because it is something I regularly find myself working in the service of as the API Evangelist. By taking a pro API stance I am actively working to reduce legacy business, institutional, and government processes down and breaking them down into a variety of individual tasks, or if you see things through a commercial lens, transactions.

A microservices philosophy is all about breaking down monoliths into small bite size chunks, so they can be transacted independently, scaled, evolved, and deprecated in isolation. Microservices should do one thing, and do it well (no backtalk). Microservices should do what it does as efficiently as possible, with as few dependencies as possible. Microservices are self-contained, self-sufficient, and have everything they need to get the job done under a single definition of a service (a real John Wayne of compute). And of course, everything has an API. Microservices aren’t just about decoupling the technology, they are are about decoupling the business, and the politics of doing business within SMB, SME, enterprises, institutions, and government agencies–the philosophy for reducing everything to a transaction.

A microservice way of thinking about software that is born in the clouds, a bi-product of virtualization and API-ization of IT resources like storage and compute. In the last decade, as IT services moved from the basement of companies into the cloud, a new approach to delivering the compute, storage, and scalability needed to drive this new microservices way of doing business emerged that was called containers. In 2017 businesses are being containerized. The enterprise monolith is being reduced down to small transactions, putting the technology, business, and politics of each business transaction into a single container, for more efficient development, deployment, scaling, and management. Containers are the vehicle moving the microservices philosophy forward–the virtualized embodiment of reducing everything to a transaction.

Alongside a microservice way of life, driven by containerization, is another technological trend (undertow) called serverless. With the entire IT backend being virtualized in the cloud, the notion of the server is disappearing, lightening the load for developers in their quest for containerizing everything, turning the business landscape into microservices, than can be distilled down to a single, simple, executable, scalable function. Serverless is the codified conveyor belt of transactions rolling by each worker on the factory floor. Each slot on a containerized, serverless, microservices factory floor possessing a single script or function, allowing each transaction to be executed, and replicated allowing it to be applied over and over, scaled, and fixed as needed. Serverless is the big metal stamping station along a multidimensional digital factory assembly line.

Living in microservices land, with everything neatly in containers, being assembled, developed, and wrenched on by developers, you are increasingly given more (or less) control over the conveyor belt that rolls by you on the factory floor. As a transaction developer you are given the ability to change direction of your conveyor belt, speed things up, apply one or many metal stamp templates, and orchestrate as much, or as little of the transaction supply chain as you can keep up with (meritocracy 5.3.4). Some transaction developers will be closer to the title of architect, understanding larger portions of the transaction supply chain, while most will be specialized, applying one or a handful of transaction templates, with no training or awareness of the bigger picture, simply pulling the Devops knobs and levers within their reach.

Another trend (undertow) that has been building for sometime, that I have managed to ignore as much as I can (until recently) is the blockchain. Blockchain and the emergence of API driven smart contracts has brought the technology front and center for me, making it something i can ignore, as I see signs that each API transaction will soon be put in the blockchain. The blockchain appears to becoming the decentralized (ha!) and encrypted manifestation of what many of us has been calling the API contract for years. I am seeing movements from all the major cloud providers, and lesser known API providers to ensure that all transactions are put into the blockchain, providing a record of everything that flows through API pipes, and has been decoupled, containerized, rendered as serverless, and available for devops orchestration.

Ignorance of Labor
I am not an expert in labor, unions, and markets. Hell, I still haven’t even finished my Marx and Engels Reader. But, I know enough to be able to see that us developers are fucking ourselves right now. Our quest to reduce everything to a transaction, decouple all the things, and containerize and render them serverless makes us the perfect tool(s) for some pretty dark working conditions. Sure, some of us will have the bigger picture, and make a decent living being architects. The rest of us will become digital assembly line workers, stamping, maintaining a handful of services that do one thing and do it well. We will be completely unaware of dependencies, or how things are orchestrated, barely able to stay afloat, pay the bills, leaving us thankful for any transactions sent our way.

Think of this frontline in terms of Amazon Mechanical Turk + API + Microservices + Containers + Serverless + Blockhain. There is a reason young developers make for good soldiers on this front line. Lack of awareness of history. Lack of awareness of labor. Makes great digital factory floor workers, stamping transactions for reuse elsewhere in the digital assembly line process. This model will fit well with current Silicon Valley culture. There will still be enough opportunity in this environment for architects and cybersecurity theater conductors to make money, exploit, and generate wealth. Without the defense of unions, government or institutions, us developers will find ourselves reduced to transactions, stamping out other transactions on the digital assembly line floor.

I know you think your savvy. I used to think this too. Then after having the rug pulled out from under me, and the game changed around me by business partners, investors, and other actors who were playing a game I’m not familiar with, I have become more critical. You can look around the landscape right now and see numerous ways in which power has set its sights on the web, and completely distorting any notion of the web being democratic, open, inclusive, or safe environment. Why do us developers think it will be any different wit us? Oh yeah, privilege.

Randomize IoT Device Username And Password By Default

I am totally hooked on POLITICO’s Morning Cybersecurity email. I’m not an email newsletter guy, but this is government cybersecurity wonky enough to keep me engaged each day. One of the bits that recently grabbed my attention was regarding what should be considered Internet of Things common sense.

New America’s Open Technology Institute argued that IoT device makers should start equipping their products with basic security from the start - including by randomizing each device’s default username and password, making it much harder for hackers to locate and take over poorly configured devices. “The ability to modify login credentials should not be taken as a replacement for the implementation, where possible, of unique passwords for every device sold,” OTI wrote. Also on the common-sense front, OTI said that IoT devices “must be designed in such a way that they can be patched or updated.”

I wish this was the default for ANYTHING we connect to the Internet. I wish that IoT manufacturers would make this the default without the government stepping in. I’m guessing there is more money in selling insecure devices, and defending against them, then actually securing Internet connected devices in the first place. From the number of breaches I’m tracking on each week, I’m guessing business will be good for a small handful of Internet of Things manufacturers in this climate.

The Reliability Of Government Data Over Externally Managed Data Sets

When I worked at the Department of Veterans affairs I was approached by a number of folks, external to the federal government, who wanted to help clean up, work with, and improve public data sets when it came to open data efforts in the federal government. As I was working on specific datasets about veteran facilities, organizations, programs, services, and other datasets that would make a potential impact on a veterans lives I would often suggest publishing CSVs to Github, and solicit the help of the public to validate, and manage data out in the open. Something that was almost always shut down when I brought the topic up within anyone in leadership.

The common stance regarding the public participating in acquiring, managing, and cleaning up data using Github was–NO! The federal government was the authority when it came providing data. It would own the entire process, and would be the only gatekeeper for accessing it. A couple of datasets that came up were the information for suicide assistance, and substance abuse clinic support, which I had on the ground local folks at clinics, and veteran support groups wanting to help. I was told there would be no way I could get approval to help crowdsource the evolution of data sets, that all data would be stored, maintained, and made available via VA servers.

As I waded through a significant number of links that returned 404, as part of my talk about the state of APIs in federal government last week, I’m reminded once again of the reliability of federal government datasets. I’m finding a significant number of APIs, datasets, and supporting documentation go missing. This has me looking for any existing examples of how the federal government can better publish, share, syndicate, and manage data in an interoperable way. Efforts like the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM), which “is a common vocabulary that enables efficient information exchange across diverse public and private organizations. NIEM can save time and money by providing consistent, reusable data terms and definitions, and repeatable processes.”

Another aspect of this conversation I’ll be exploring further, is the role Github plays in all this. There are 130+ federal agency Github users / organizations on the platform, and I’d like to see how this usage might contribute to federal agencies being more engaged, and managing the uptime, availability, and reliability of data, code, APIs, and other resources coming out of the federal government. I am looking for any positive examples of federal agencies leveraging external cloud services, and private sector partnership opportunities to make data, content, and other resources more available and reliable for public consumption. Let me know any other angles you’d like to see highlighted as part of my federal government data and API research.

The Bungee Cord Connecting The Cult Of Always Being Ahead To Always Being Left Behind

</p>I sit at a fascinating vantage point of our reality, where my career is centered around highlighting the unrealistic stories that arise around our use of technology, and my personal life is still very much connected with my rural upbringing where I am seeing many side effects of a population that has been “left behind”. I spend my days studying technology and how it is being wielded to influence and control people, while pushing back some guilt, and many frustrations about how this world is impacting my friends and family.

Audrey and I call the umbrella company for Hack Education and API Evangelist, Contrafabulists – the definition for fabulists is, “a person who composes or relates fables. a liar, especially a person who invents elaborate, dishonest stories”. We work to be contra-fabulists for technology. Pushing back on the stories, myths, and outright lies that get told around what is possible with Internet technology. We spend each day trying to understand how technology is being used to mislead and obfuscate much of what is going on across almost every industry, including how our government operates, or more importantly does not operate on behalf of the people. While there is a number of interesting things going on in the world of technology, there are also a number of forces growing in strength, who have less than honorably intention regarding how technology is used.

When it comes to technology we often feel like we are on this fast moving conveyor belt enabled by technology changing everything around us in ways that we’ve never seen before! The world is moving fast! You have to keep up! Or you will be left behind! When you actually step off the conveyor belt, step back on, step back off, and repeat for a number of years, you kind of see that the conveyor belt is just a tech themed amusement park ride that is bullshitting you in almost every area. Don’t get me wrong, the ride is moving, but it is moving in circles, often around a pre-planned paths, with heavy amounts of storytelling and smoke blowing–you know VR, AR, AI. Everything is moving, but much of what we are experiencing is just a carefully crafted theme park experience.

When I return to the personal side of my world, and begin think about make the long trek back home to hang with friends and family, I’m reminded of the rural effects of this theme park ride we’ve put everyone on. When I switch back and forth between these realities the bungee cord tying the two worlds becomes more apparent. The lies about social, artificial intelligence, algorithms, and the all knowing qualities of code on what side, pushing, pulling, confusing, and manipulating those on the other side of the spectrum. You fabricate a grand story of what algorithms and artificial intelligence can do on one side to sell some amazing new advertising services to your customers, and you are messing with people’s realities, feeding them false information on top of of an already information starved diet at the other end–allowing old and new stereotypes, prejudices, and myths to flourish in this magical new world we’ve created for ourselves.

I am working to shine a light into the algorithmic black boxes that are driving much of world, helping distill down the magic of VR, AR, AI, and API into meaningful things that business can actually invest in and depend upon, minimizing the damage of snake oil salesman peddling their warez. While on the other side of my reality I am faced wit having to have discussions about whether wifi is not more damaging than the metropolitan area networks (MAN) wireless technologies that are already around your house, that those shootings in Florida, Paris, and 20 miles down the road from you were real, as well as that Auschwitz place in Germany as well the moon are both actually very, very real things. While miles apart, there is a bungee cord connecting these two worlds, and as some folks are cashing in, others realities are closing in on them and becoming a very, very scary place.

Photo Credits: Alessandro Caproni (pre algorotoscope filter)

Internet Connectivity As A Poster Child For How Markets Work Things Out

I have a number of friends who worship markets, and love to tell me that we should be allowing them to just work things out. They truly believe in the magical powers of markets, that they are great equalizers, and work out all the worlds problems each day. ALL the folks who tell me this are dudes, with 90% being white dudes. From their privileged vantage point, markets are what brings balance and truth to everything–may the best man win. Survival of the fittest. May the best product win, and all that that delusion.

From my vantage point markets work things out for business leaders. Markets do not work things out for people. Markets don’t care about people with disabilities. Markets don’t see education and healthcare any differently than it sees financial products and commodities–it just works to find the most profit it possibly can. Markets work so diligent and blindly towards this goal, it will even do this to its own detriment, while believers think this is just how things should be–the markets decided.

I see Internet connectivity as a great example of markets working things out. We’ve seen consolidation of network connections into the hands of a few cable and telco giants. These market forces are looking to work things out and squeeze every bit of profit out of it’s networks that it can, completely ignoring the opportunities that are available when the networks operate at scale, and freely operate to protect everyone’s benefits. Instead of paying attention to the bigger picture, these Internet gatekeepers are all about squeezing every nickel they can for every bit of bandwidth that is currently being transmitted over the network.

The markets that are working the Internet out do not care if the bits on the network are from a school, a hospital, or you playing an online game and watching videos–it just wants to meter and throttle them. It may care just enough to understand where it can possible charge more because it is a matter of life or death, or it is your child’s education, so you are willing to pay more, but as far as actually equipping our world with quality Internet–it could care less. Cable providers and telco operators are in the profit making business, using the network that drives the Internet, even at the cost of the future–this is how short sighted markets are.

AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast do not care about the United States remaining competitive in a global environment. They care about profits. AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast do not care about folks in rural areas possessing quality broadband to remain competitive with metropolitan areas. They care about profits. In these games, markets may work things out between big companies, deciding who wins and loses, but markets do not work things out for people who live in rural areas, or depend on Internet for education and healthcare. Markets do not work things out for people, they work things out for businesses, and the handful of people who operate these businesses.

So, when you tell me that I should trust that markets will work things out, you are showing me that you do not care about people. Except for those handful of business owners who are hoping you will some day be in the club with. Markets rarely ever work things out for average people, let alone people of color, with disabilities, and beyond. When you tell me about the magic of markets, you are demonstrating to me that you don’t see these layers of society. Which demonstrates your privilege, your lack of empathy for the humans around you, while also demonstrating how truly sad your life must be, because it is lacking in meaningful interactions with a diverse slice of the life we are living on this amazing planet.

Opting In/Out To Sharing Our Data Through Partnerships

I was logging into the Twitter web application for my @apievangelist account, and got a popup about their terms of service changes regarding sharing data with partners. While far from the world of privacy and data ownership I see in my head, it is a step in the right direction.

If you go under your Twitter privacy and safety, then scroll down until you see personalization and data, then click on edit–you will find a section about how they use your data to personalize, and share data with partners. The page just gives you a list of six checkbox you can turn off, or on, one of which let’s you have a say in whether or not Twitter shares your data with select partners. It is an important look into how we need to be seeing people’s digital data, and asking them if it is ok to share with partners.

I’d like to see a full dashboard, with more detail about EVERY way our data is used, and even some revenue share opportunities for users who do opt in. I know I’m crazy, but I think it makes sense if we want healthier online ecosystem. End users need to be included in the conversation. They need to be made aware of the data we track on them, and how we are sharing, selling, or doing anything else with our personal data. It is just the right thing to be doing.

Anyways, I went in and turned off all my settings. I’m not really interested in having Twitter personalize ads, personalize based on your apps, personalize across all your devices, personalize based on the places you’ve been, track where you see Twitter content across the web, or share data through select partnerships without me getting a piece of the action. Sorry I’m running a business here. Tweets are the exhaust from my business performance on the web each day, and it is important to me to retain as much control over my work.

I’m hoping Twitter keeps investing in this area of their settings. Maybe the personalization and data section can expand and even gain a more prominent place in the Twitter settings area. I’m thankful they have given me this settings, and it is something I would like to see from EVERY platform that I use, giving me more awareness and control over how my data is used. Maybe we could also start sharing notes on how to do it, so that we can expect consistent things from the tools we depend on each day–that would be way cool!

I Deleted All My Tweets Before 2017

Continuing the grooming of my digital self, I’ve deleted all my Tweets prior to 2017. These tweets offer almost no beneft to my traffic to my site, or the sales of my content, products, and services. They do contain many things that could be taken out of context, and potentially be used as leverage against me when it comes to potential legal cases, insurance prices, credit decisions, job or project prospects, and many other negative things that I just do not need in my world.

So far I’ve deleted my Gmail, and my Facebook history for anything @kinlane. I’ve also cleaned up my storage units for Amazon S3 and Dropbox, putting anything historical on a local drive, and secondarily on an SD card that is stored in separate location. I’m not deleting my accounts, or taking unrealistic stances with my digital presence, I’m just cleaning up things and keeping my house in order. Having these massive archives out there don’t do me any good, and only really benefit the platforms, and 3rd parties who are looking to enrich their data sets.

This is a practice I’m only applying to my personal accounts. If it is @apievangelist, or another one of my professional productions I am keeping the history in place as it brings benefits to the table, and tends to be more business focused. I’m also not cleaning up my personal blogging on kinlane.com, and my other personal domains, as this archive is within my control to clean up and delete at any time I desire. I consider this practice something I am calling reclaim. It is just the regular practice of maintaining my personal digital presence, assert control over what the web says about me, and limiting potential damage to my online, and offline worlds.

I wish that I had more trust in these service providers, but in the current online climate I just don’t trust that they have my back, and are being honest with me regarding who they are sharing my information with. I also don’t trust the ENTIRE online world these days. There are too many folks looking to troll, incite mayhem, and chaos. With this effort, I am just looking to minimize the surface in which they have access to when it comes to stirring their cyber(in)security pots, and limit any potential damage in my life.

Update: I never shared the tool I used - TweetDeleter. I purposely used this instead of the API, because I wanted others to be able to do it without any coding skills.

Showing What Algorithmic Influence On Markets Leaves Out

I’ve been playing with different ways of visualizing the impact that algorithms are making on our lives. How they are being used to distort the immigration debate, and how the current administration is being influenced and p0wned by Russian propaganda. I find shedding light on how algorithms are directly influencing a variety of conversations using machine learning a fun pastime. I’m also interested in finding ways to shine a light on what gets filtered out, omitted, censored, or completely forgotten by algorithms, and their authors.

One of my latest filters I’ve trained using TensorFlow is called “Feed the People”. It is an early 20th century Soviet propaganda poster that I do not know much history behind, but I feel provides a compelling point, while also providing an attractive and usable color palette and textures–I will have to do more research on the back story. I took this propaganda poster and trained a TensorFlow machine learning model for about 24 hours on an AWS EC2 GPU instance, which cost me about $18.00 for the entire process–leaving me with a ML model I can apply to any image.

Once I had my trained machine learning model I applied to a handful of images, including one I took of the economist Adam Smith statue in Edinburgh, Scotland–which interestingly was commissioned by the Adam Smith Institute (ASI), a neoliberal (formerly libertarian) think tank and lobbying group based in the United Kingdom, named after Adam Smith, a Scottish moral philosopher and classical economist in 2003. Taking the essence of the “feed the people” propaganda and algorithmically transferring it an image of the famous economist from the 18th century that was installed on the city streets by a neoliberal think tank in 2003.

I’m super fascinated by how algorithms influence markets, from high speed trading, all the way to how stories about markets are spread on Facebook by investors, and libertarian and neoliberal influencers. Algorithms are being used to distort, contort, p0wn, influence and create new markets. I am continuing to trying to understand how propaganda and ideology is influencing these algorithms, but more importantly highlighting the conversations, and people that are ultimately left behind in the cracks as algorithms continue to consume our digital and physical worlds, and disrupt everything along the way.

I Flushed The Last 9 Years Of My Facebook Profile

I flushed the the last 9 years of my Facebook profile over the last couple of days. Instead of deleting my account, I just cleaned up everything except what I have posted in 2017. In the future I will make it a yearly ritual to flush the previous year of my Facebook profile–something including an altar, candles, and Mark Zuckerberg picture. After watching the last nine years flash by before my eyes, slowly over the last 4 days–I feel confident that I’m not going to need ANY of this social media diarrhea.

This work is part of a larger effort to go through all layers of my digital self and clean house. I recently delete all but the last year of my Gmail, and deleted my central MySQL database, which has been up for the last decade in some instance. Of course, I have downloaded my Facebook archive, and created backups of my Gmail and MySQL databases–which I zip up and store locally on SD cards. Along the way I managed to also cleaned up my Amazon S3 storage which has been up since 2006, and stored what I wanted to keep from their on the same SD cards.

Why am I doing this? I am just just asserting control over my digital self. Gmail and Facebook provide an unprecedented look into our lives–my life. I’m thankful (sometimes) for the tools they provide, but I’m not convinced that they need to possess this intimiate look into my life for an entire decade. I’m not naive enough to think they don’t have some sort of backup, cache, or at least some sort of algorithm trained on my data. But asserting control, and cleaning it up makes me feel like I am a little more in control of my digital self in a time where I feel like I’m increasingly losing control of who I am it this surveillance economy.

I did not manually clean up my Facebook profile manually. I could have automated it using the Facebook API, but I wanted to use a tool that would be available for my readers to use. I’m following the lead of my partner in crime Audrey Watters, who is using F___book Post Manager to delete her network. I took many hours to delete some years, but I just tackled it year by year going back from 2016 until 2007, until it had done its job. I had to rerun it couple times to get some more stragglers, and there are still a handful of things that won’t go away no matter what–not sure what is going on here. However, the majority of my Facebook profile has now been removed, except for anything in 2017.

When you clean up your digital profile this scale, you always think twice about it–what if I need something in here at some point? However, once you are done, this feeling fades away, and you realize you will almost never need any of it, and the one or two items you do, will end up being just fine. Somewhere along the way we were convinced that all of this matters. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter at all, it just doesn’t matter as much as we’ve convinced ourselves that it does, and we do not need a record of everything that has gone on in the past at this scale. We don’t.

Having the last decade of my Facebook doesn’t benefit me. It benefits Facebook. It benefits Facebook partners and advertisers. They want us to think it benefits us, but rarely will it actually serve us better ads, or surface that amazing news article or video. However, the chances that someone will be targeting you, surveilling you, or use a piece of your Facebook out of context to negatively impact your life is pretty great. In this modern digital world we’ve created for ourselves, the more companies and governments have on our behavior, the bigger target we will become–for advertising, surveilling, and p0wning.

I didn’t want to delete my Facebook profile. I like keeping my network, because I enjoy sharing news I curate, and publishing the stories I write here. I also like staying in tune with my friends or families lives on Facebook. However, all of this has an expiration date, which I’ve identified as 1 year. The last year of my life is all I need on there. Once it rolls over a year, I archive it, and move on. Facebook has already aggregated the data, and trained their ML models. Keeping all this data does me no good, and just allows application integrations, advertisers, and other digital actors to look into my life, as well as my past. MY past.

I’m going to move on to Twitter next, cleaning it up just like I have done with my Facebook. I’ll continue to work through all of my personal accounts in this way. I won’t be doing this to any of my business accounts, or my personal blogs, because I see more value in keeping a history of my business activity out there, and happy to maintain a more personal view of my world that gets published within my own domain. As I learn more about my digital self, and develop a deeper awareness of the digital bits of mine that are floating around out there–the more I want to take control, curate, clean, and assert control over these bits. They are mine. It is me.

I Deleted My MySQL Database

I just deleted my primary MySQL database. Of course, I backed up everything, but it is the first time since 2011 I’ve cleaned up my entire database backend to the point where I could delete the entire instance (with confidence). I was motivated to do this mostly because I couldn’t downsize the AWS RDS instance to a smaller instance due to a variety of constraints. The situation gave me the opportunity to clean house, and rethink my next moves.

Instead of setting up a new MySQL instance, I went with the new MySQL compatible Amazon Aurora. I setup a smaller instance that was more affordable, and I was able to easily import the database backups I had made in my previous setup, but now I had a cleaner, more modern Amazon Aurora situation. Which as Amazon claims, “provides up to five times better performance than MySQL with the security, availability, and reliability of a commercial database at one tenth the cost”. Time will tell…

I like cleaning up my database and migrating to a new solution, even if the solution is still with the same provider. It helps me think through things, shed unnecessary databases, tables, and hopefully costs. Everywhere I’ve worked, and within all the businesses I have owned the database is always the hardest thing to manage, and migrate. I want that to be a thing of the past. Now that I have things cleaned up, I’m going to keep my databases small, modular, and using standardized solutions that top tier providers support. This means I can migrate my data wherever I need to, and wherever it makes sense to my business.

Another thing that has also allowed me to migrate my data in this way is that I have offloaded a significant portion of the data I manage, which drives my public research to Google Sheets. This approach helps me simplify, and modularize my data, again using a common tool (spreadsheet / CSV), but in a way that I can easily collaborate with others, and publish to Jekyll and GIthub using YAML. This shift in my world is all about helping me reduce the bulk on the backend of my business, and making sure I spread out my business data, content, and algorithms across a variety of solutions. While making sure all the services I use have APIs that allow me to automate, orchestrate, and of course migrate my data whenever I need to.

The Algorithmic Undertow On Our Reality

After this last election I have concluded that we have severely underestimating the grip the average U.S. citizen has on reality, and the dangers of the algorithmic undertow that has been sweeping us off our feet on a regular basis. These dangers become even more life threatening when you consider the pharmaceutically-charged, doorstep delivered assaults on our reality–something that can become pretty isolating and damaging when you lived in a rural environment.

Ok, what is reality though? This is definitely up for grabs. Your view from middle America, to the coasts, or the north to the south will vary widely. Left wing, right wing, rich, or poor, we will have different views on what actually is reality. Religious–reality shifts even further. However, I think we underestimated the power of the collective reality we had when it was just newspapers, radio, and a choice between NBC, CBS, ABC, or PBS nightly news. I kind of feel like some people were a little better off with less information, or at least a more editorially controlled drip of information each day.

I speak on this grip on reality from a very real place. I struggle with reality myself. From 1988 to 1996 I was pretty high all the time. Ingesting professional levels of LSD, DMT, mushrooms, and any other hallucinogen I could get my hands on, then ultimately doing Heroin to be able to come down and stabilize–yeah, I know. I know. Beginning in 1997 I began to get to work on the heavy lifting involved with reconstructing my reality, taking back my life, finding a career, and eventually building a family. A significant portion of this was about stabilizing myself, and the world immediately around me in way that was conducive to living a sane life–it took me some time for me to craft a working version of reality, something that is still very much a work in progress today.

Another front I struggle with reality on is when it comes to my rural upbringing. I know a number of pretty “out there christians”, but I know even more “out there hippies”. Honestly, I can’t tell the difference between them anymore, they’ve seemed to have merged at some point. I know many people who are anti-vaccine, believe in chem-trails, Jesus, and believe the government is completely incapable of doing anything, but can also pull off some pretty amazing conspiracies without missing a beat. These are cousins, friends, and my immediate family, who really do not have a firm grip on reality, for a variety of reasons. Ultimately we are talking about mental illness, isolation, and the effects of our environment, which includes heavy doses of poverty–I’m not excluding myself from this group, I grew up in this, and suffer daily from its effects.

I know people who are deathly afraid of brown people, because they do not know any. I know people who truly believe in the illuminati and the deep state–it is their greatest fear, and their answer to why everything is the way it is, in the world “out there”. In the last decade I think we have focused on the benefits of the Internet when it comes to the mainstream world, but have significantly underestimated what a slippery slope it would be for isolated folks who do not have a decent grip on reality, and honestly are increasingly on pharmaceutical and other legal, and illegal body and mind altering substances. I’ve seen the effects of Internet culture on these folks first hand. I’ve tried to dive in and understand the information diet they’ve subscribed to, but it is something that is too toxic for even me to endure–no wonder they are so afraid. They’ve created this prison for themselves, and then signed up for a digital mainlining of information that keeps their prison walls in tact.

I know people who are selling herbal concoctions locally and regionally to people, who believe this is proven science, and that they are actively defying the government regulators, and completely unaware that herbal supplements is just one of many affiliate programs of Alex Jones, and the other alt-right evangelists. God, politics, and herbal supplements all swirled together with legal or illegal weed, pharmaceuticals, and good old fashion black tar, with a heavy algorithmic undertow to sweep you off your feet during each election–or on demand, as needed mid election. While many people are on surer footing and can handle the daily algorithmic tides swirling around under their feet, I think a significant portion of our society cannot. While you are all focused on your tech startups, or advertising revenue generation, I’m seeing an increasing number of people left spinning, unsure which way is up, left, right, north or south. Not only are we not having an open conversation about addiction and mental illness in this country, we are not being honest with ourselves about the dangerous effects algorithms are having as an undertow on the reality of many of our citizens.

I Deleted All But The Last Six Months Of My Gmail

I continuing my effort to take control over my data, and digital presence and the next target on my list is Gmail. I have been using Gmail heavily since early 2007, and the application contained a significant amount of my data in its archives. I didn’t need any tools to delete my email, as Gmail provides some easy “select all” options for folders, which easily allows me to delete from inbox, archives, and anywhere else.

I’m not fooling myself to think that Google has some index of my history, or that they’ve already enriched their machine learning models using my data, but cleaning up my past feels good, and is something I will be repeating every six months. Before I got started, I downloaded my archive using Google Takeout, which I’ve put in a backup location for possible future reference.

What was difficult for me is getting over the notion that somehow I needed access to my Gmail history. I can count on both hands the number of times I’ve had to search the archives for anything historically important, and in all of the situations I would have been fine if I did not find what I was looking for. The stories we’ve told ourselves about needing this history is powerful, and something that is very difficult to overcome–I do not know where this has originated, but is something I’ll explore further in future stories.

When I copied the downloaded Gmail archive to my backup location I saw the Outlook .pst files for 2000 through 2006, before I switched to Google–something I have never cracked open. I question the need to even keep these archives–what the hell am I going to do with them? I’m going through each of the other digital services that I use and will be setting up a similar strategy for cleaning up my history and archives on each platform. As I do this work I keep having concerns about the algorithms not treating me the same, my ranking and scoring taking a dive, and other worries. These are all concerns that are made up, and are in place to protect platforms interests, and really have nothing to do with me, except to ensure that I keep giving away my data, and the digital exhaust from my daily work.

Tightly Coupled To Our Mobile Phones

I had ditched my phone last year after being with AT&T for just shy of 20 years. Not having a phone made me realize how much you need a phone number to exist online these days. Facebook, Twitter, Google, all needed me to have a phone number which I can verify from time to time, to keep my accounts active.

In addition to just needing it for an account, I also need it regularly to secure my world via two-factor authentication. Sometimes I need it for SMS, but mostly I just need the authenticator app–both requiring at least having the mobile device in my presence. I’m not very tightly coupled with my phone, but it feels like it increasingly like it is always coupled to me.

I’m guessing that if it isn’t our mobile phones, in the future there will always be at least one device we will be required to have as part of our identity, and be helping us secure both our physical and digital worlds. It isn’t something I enjoy but like pretty everyone else, it is not a cord I am going to be able to cut anytime soon.

Patents As A Measure Of Individual Success

I read a lot of patents as part of my work as the API Evangelist, and I tend to stalk and tune into the social media accounts of some of the authors. I have noticed that some of them work at large companies, and are counting each patent they file and are announcing each one like it is a badge of honor. I’m fascinated by this. Each company’s approach to showcasing or downplaying their patent portfolio tells a lot about the company, something that I feel trickles down to each individual author.

The theater of showcasing the number of patents is fascinating to me. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, just something I think is worthy of more discussion in the modern age. I don’t showcase the number of patents I have filed because 1) I don’t have any patents 2) I cannot afford to file any patents 3) I don’t showcase my ideas, I showcase things I do and the stories I tell. Ok, maybe a patent is a story right? A story about what is possible, that you’ve paid a fee to file with the government, and convinced them that the story is true? I’m just trying to get at the thinking behind this theater production, and why some folks feel that it is a badge of honor.

The biggest differentiator here for me is that I cannot afford to file patents. It is a rich man’s game. Is this why people showcase? To declare they are part of the elite? Even if I could afford to file one patent, I definitely cannot afford to file many patents, and I cannot ever afford to litigate and defend a patent in a court of law. Making patents completely useless to me, even if I wanted to legally define my stories and ideas like this. Another thing that I notice is that there are no individuals filing patents, it is always an individual filing on behalf of a large company who has the money to file, and to litigate on behalf of the patent portfolio, which for me diminishes the individual merit of showcasing–look ma, I got a new patent (for my company)!!

A patent feels like one of those carrots that get dangled in front of individuals to get them to perform while on the hamster wheel. You get told in high school and college by your mentors that the number of patents you have is a badge of honor. However, you never get told that it is your organization that owns the portfolio, and made aware of the closed door dealings or litigation that will occur around your patent portfolio. IDK, it could be that I’m naive and uneducated about the wider world of patents, and how revenue is generated from patent portfolios–it won’t be the first time I’ve spouted off about something I don’t get, nor will it be the last. I write to understand.

Ultimately I think patents are a rich person game, and how a significant amount of ideas are locked up and made part of larger flows of power, or rendered a non-threat. It isn’t a game I’m part of because I don’t operate at that level, which is why it is foreign to me. I’ve never heard someone tell me that they respect someone for their patent portfolio, or that they were an author on a patent. I think patents are one of those legacy stories that used to have meaning and purpose in the industrial world, and long ago became the game of rich folks, while also becoming pretty distorted in the translation from the physical to the digital. It is a game people still showcase as a badge of honor because of mythical stories they have heard those in power tell–they have little to do with your own success or the value of your ideas.

For me, I measure my success based on the stories I tell about my ideas, and the stories others retell about my ideas. I also measure my success based upon the number of my ideas that become real, and are part of everyday practice in an industry, even if I do not receive royalty checks, or able to litigate and make deals based upon my idea portfolio…but, this is just me. I’m an oddball like that.

In The Future Our Current Views Of Personal Data Will Be Shocking

The way we view personal data in this early Internet age will continue to change and evolve, until one day we are looking back at this period and find we are shocked regarding how we didn’t see people’s digital bits as their own, and something we should respect and protect the privacy and security of.

Right now my private, network shared, or even public posts are widely viewed as a commodity, something the platform operator, and other companies have every right to buy, sell, mine, extract, and generally do as they wish. Very few startups see these posts as my personal thoughts, they simply see the opportunity for generating value and revenue as part of their interests. Sure, there are exceptions, but this is the general view of personal data in this Internet age.

We are barely 20 years into the web being mainstream, and barely over five years into mobile phones being mainstream. We are only beginning to enter even more immersions of Internet in our lives via our cars, televisions, appliances, and much more. We are only getting going when it comes to generating and understanding personal data, and the impacts of technology on our privacy, security, and overall human well-being. What is going on right now will not stay the norm, and we are already seeing signs of pushback from humans regarding ownership of their data, as well as our privacy and security.

While technology companies and their investors seem all powerful right now, and many humans seem oblivious to what is going, the landscape is shifting, and I’m confident that humans will prevail, and there will be pushback that begins helping us all define our digital self, and reclaiming the privacy and security we are entitled to. When we look back on this period in 50 years we will not look favorably on companies and government agencies who exploited human’s personal data. We will see the frenzy over big data generation, accumulation, and treating it like a commodity, over something that belongs to a human as deeply troubling.

Which side of history are you going to be on?

The Stories We Tell Our Children

As I contemplate the world on this Memorial day, I am thinking about the father I never had a chance to know, and thinking deeply about the stories we tell on these holidays, as well as the cracks in between. This was one of the only photos I had of my father while growing up. As a young impressionable male, I wanted to join the military, fill my void with service and days spent fighting “the enemy”–a fire that was stoked daily by the adults in my life. After hearing the 6:00 news, from the radio out in the shop, and around the dining room table, my friends and I would spend our weekends at the river, running military exercises to prepare us for when the Russians invaded–WOLVERINES!!!!

The adults around me would tell us stories, purchase us backpacks, guns, and knives, all fueled by their own fears–completely unaware of what this was doing to us. I now hear these same adults telling stories about how Russia has a strong leader, and we should be afraid of those brown people over there, that we should go to war with them, and that we should not let them into our country. They are letting their fears be stoked, be used (yet again) to make the world a more hostile place, and ensuring that the next generation will be just afraid of the world as they are, and where societal and financial collapse becomes the only hope you have (you spend your days waiting, hoping for the next collapse, all the data points to it being October 5th)–this becomes the light at the end of the tunnel.

On this day I think about what my life would have been like if I had not got that hit of album cover acid at the Dylan & The Dead concert in 1987 and found my own way out. I found my own way out of rural poverty (thumb on the freeway), away from the stories of fear that were rooted in generations of racism and isolation. I’m thankful that I was able to break the cycle of stories that are told in rural parts this country, where boys do not know their fathers, they worship their guns, fear brown people, and never trust those people over there in the city, or in that other country I have never actually ever been to.