Learning how to hide and still be found

Today Austin Kleon posted about the challenge of balancing connection and disconnection in order to stay sane in today’s hyper connected world.

For me, that’s what this year has been about: Learning how to hide and still be found. How to stay connected overall, but how to disconnect in crucial ways that allow me to recover some calm, some privacy, some inner sense of self, so that I can make great things to share. Because if you don’t hide, at least a little bit, it’s hard to make something worth being found.

I’ve been slowly disconnecting from (or at least connecting less to) Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, while still allowing myself to be found here on my blog and by extension, micro.blog. In a way it’s nice to have a central location on the web for my interests, but I also worry that friends rely so much on the major platforms, that I will lose those connections over time. I guess that’s where real life comes in!

Source: How to hide and still be found – Austin Kleon

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Re-visiting RSS

Reading The Case for RSS on MacSparky today, I can’t help but agree.

For several years now, the trend among geeks has been to abandon the RSS format.

I abandoned it — mainly for the allure of Twitter, like everyone else. A couple months ago I re-installed my favorite RSS reader and started up small, building subscriptions again. It was seriously refreshing to come to the end of my article list and be done. No notification of 100 posts in the time it took to read through a portion of my timeline. No infinite queue of posts. No fear of missing something. It was great.

Now my “news habit” is a combination of RSS, where I keep my (mainly) high signal-to-noise subscriptions. Then Apple News for the “information overload” subscriptions. Apple News does a pretty good job surfacing the important stuff in my ‘For You’ feed — I very rarely venture directly into subscriptions. I typically only need to spend 5-15 minutes in the app and very rarely miss any story that comes up in real-life conversation.

Not sure if it’s related or not, but over this same time I’ve become less interested in Twitter too. There are plenty of reasons to be done with Twitter, but I feel like removing the reliance on the site for news has definitely helped me the most — at the very least it has curbed the need to open Twitterrific. My next step is to purge the accounts I follow on Twitter, to see if I can get any value out of the site. We’ll see.

No oppression in the last 100 years

Last weekend Mike Ditka dropped a hot take on the NFL player protests — one that I’ve seen many (generally older white) Americans make recently:

There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of.”

It’s 2017, willful ignorance is not an excuse. The internet exists, books exist, documentaries exist, podcasts exist, etc… there’s plenty of opportunity (that doesn’t even require you to actually talk to a person of color – imagine that) to learn and listen.

There’s no excuse to not do the work if you don’t understand what the fuck a large group of people are angry about — beyond a lack of empathy or, at worst, a lot of racism.

The insane part is most of these older, white Americans lived through the Civil Rights Movement. That alone is less than 100 years old — by a lot.

If you find yourself flummoxed by these protests, I’ll help you get started with a quick thirty minutes of work to find some resources (and there are SO many more) for you:





Bottom line, do some work to try to figure out what the issues are… no assumptions, no more “hey Black America, pull up your bootstraps and work harder — anything is possible in America, if you do this list of 10 things that work for white people” posts.

Why is economic and cultural anxiety an OK excuse for white America to elect an incompetent, narcissistic, racist liar and sexual predator (OR) an OK excuse for Nazis and the “alt-right” and the Confederate flag, but systemic injustice not an OK reason for black NFL players to kneel in protest? Where are the “hey, stop being so angry — pull up your bootstraps and work harder – anything is possible in America” posts for poor white Americans caught in a changing economy?

NFL Bullshit

I was going to write something about the NFL today, but quite honestly the four videos below did a better job than I ever could.

First up, Dallas sports anchor Dale Hansen:

Then Bob Costas on patriotism:

I’ve been to enough NFL games to experience the “bumper sticker patriotism” and jingoism the NFL plays up with the military (and tax payer money) before and during games. It is so thick at times, it comes off as borderline propaganda. It’s no wonder NFL fans have come to conflate the flag with the military.

I love that Costas acknowledges “Patriotism comes in many forms.” This includes peacefully (and quite honestly kneeling is respectful) protesting inequality and injustice within our country. To purposefully ignore those injustices is unpatriotic in my mind and that’s what makes teachers and social workers (and anyone selflessly working to serve others and improve our country) American patriots as well.

Next up, Nick Wright on the absurdity of the media referring to these acts as “protesting the anthem” versus having the real, difficult conversation:

Here’s a quote from the article he referenced re: Kap’s decision to kneel after consulting with a Green Beret.

After hours of careful consideration, and even a visit from Nate Boyer, a retired Green Beret and former N.F.L. player, we came to the conclusion that we should kneel, rather than sit, the next day during the anthem as a peaceful protest. We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.

It baffles me that our protest is still being misconstrued as disrespectful to the country, flag and military personnel. We chose it because it’s exactly the opposite. It has always been my understanding that the brave men and women who fought and died for our country did so to ensure that we could live in a fair and free society, which includes the right to speak out in protest.

And finally, Shannon Sharpe with an [honest look at the true motivation of NFL owners:

In capitalism, money speaks loudest to the holders of capital. While I’m glad the NFL stood up to Trump, I can’t help but believe it’s strictly a marketing ploy — even if the marketing is mainly directed at NFL players.

There is absolutely no way NFL owners fire any player, though what they are doing to Kap is essentially the same thing. The protests we saw this past weekend, combined with not hiring Kap, helps them speak from both sides of their mouth. Not hiring Kap sends a message to a vocal subset of their fans, while the act of firing would spark mass outrage among players — their product. The NFL owners had to put out that Trump-induced dumpster fire as quickly as possible.

As far as protesting the NFL goes, all I can say is go for it. There are many reasons the NFL should be penalized — whether it’s Kap’s unemployment, or CTE and the concussion scandals, or taxpayer-funded stadiums, or any of the seemingly many player scandals. The NFL certainly deserves some retribution.

However, if you are protesting the right to peacefully protest, I can’t find any love or support for you. Framing the players as protesting or disrespecting the troops, flag, or sacrifices made for this country is dishonest at best and racist at worst. You will be on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of morality and decency, and without a doubt not living up to what you claim this country and patriotism stands for…

I wish more people would just listen when people share their struggles or trauma or problems or the injustices they face day in and day out. Instead, we blame the victim or don’t believe them or try to solve the problem through the lens of our own life experiences. What we should do is acknowledge we hear them, show empathy, try to learn more, and then go do the work to make it better. Listen more, read books on the subject, do research, ask questions, volunteer, speak up and show support. That’s how you start to fix systemic problems.

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Syllabus for White People to Educate Themselves

A “difference of opinion” is how you like your coffee, or debates over trade and economic policy. Opinions that dehumanize others, that incite violence against them, cannot be treated as merely “opinions.” They must be called what they are: bigotry.

Source: Syllabus for White People to Educate Themselves

A great educational resource to learn about the issues that affect people of color. I highly recommend Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

(Re)Introducing Relic Scout

Over two years ago, I launched a site called Relic Scout. It was my first attempt at building a site using Ruby on Rails. Users could enter what they were looking for and the site would monitor eBay to find matches — it was basically eBay saved searches, but in our own walled garden. Turns out, that was a pretty poor idea and we quickly scrapped it.

Fast forward two years, through many talks and idea sessions and MANY late nights of coding, my partner Brian and I rebuilt the site (again using Ruby on Rails and two more years of hacking knowledge) to be open, but also more niche. For our initial launch, we focused strictly on comic book collectors.

So what is Relic Scout now? Relic Scout is the ultimate tool to track down the comics you want. The site allows you to build your want list, then see listings that match what you want, in the condition you want, at the right price. Collectors can buy with confidence.

Today, we’re officially announcing Relic Scout and encouraging people to sign up. If you are a comic collector, please check out the site — we’d love your feedback! If you collect sports cards or US coins & currency, please sign up for our mailing list. (We’re planning support for those areas in the future!) If you don’t collect, but know someone who does, we’d appreciate the word of mouth!

Finally, we are all over social media, so please follow our journey:

Thanks for reading and checking out the site! Extra special thanks to my wife, Melisa, for all of her support and encouragement — I couldn’t have done it without her.


You Can’t

Having three daughters has been particularly challenging lately, as the girls move into the pre-teen years. (Spoiler: I know it will get harder.)

Our recent challenge has been the transition out of co-ed sports. We aren’t to the girls-only stage yet, but we’ve been considering it more closely with every passing game day interaction.

Whether it’s the mundane “what are you doing here?” question for my hockey playing soon-to-be-9-year-old to the more problematic physical and verbal targeting of her (and her girl friends) on the ice. Or the casual “girls can’t play basketball” to my soon-to-be-10-year old during recess. (Which she told to me, ironically, as she hit a 12-foot jump shot in our back yard.) Regardless of the intensity, it’s getting more frequent and more frustrating for the girls. (And us, quite honestly.)

My wife and I had a great conversation the other night about this and what to do about the situations. My wife said something like “as women, they will need to learn how to handle people telling them they can’t do something” — how, as a woman, they can’t play a sport, do a job, get a promotion, earn as much, have control over their own health decisions, be President, say no, etc, etc.

That phrasing was the cold, hard slap of reality that I am white, male privilege. Doesn’t matter how liberal I am, how much empathy I have, how much money or time I’ve donated to good causes, or how hard I try to not perpetuate that privilege. The simple fact is, as a white male, I’ve never been told I can’t do something. That is mind-blowing, given how often women and young girls, people of color, people of non-Christian faith, and the LGBTQ community hear the exact opposite. (Or, in other words, the majority of our country.)

Never being told you can’t (for any reason other than pure safety) leads to Trump, to rape culture, to groups of old white men writing health care legislation without a single woman in the room, to white nationalism, border walls, bathroom legislation, slavery, voter ID laws, police brutality, etc. etc etc. I could go on for fucking ever.

Then I think of all the times I encouraged my hockey daughter to out work the boys. I know my heart was in the right place, as my intention was to encourage hard work in general, but my phrasing was problematic for sure… I was perpetuating my privilege. Teaching my daughter that she needs to work harder than boys to simply be considered equal, that she needs to compare herself to boys (or anyone for that matter), was wrong.

Then I read the How to raise a feminist son post on Kottke.org, which focused on a NY Time article of the same title. A key quote:

Even as we’ve given girls more choices for the roles they play, boys’ worlds are still confined, social scientists say. They’re discouraged from having interests that are considered feminine. They’re told to be tough at all costs, or else to tamp down their so-called boy energy.

If we want to create an equitable society, one in which everyone can thrive, we need to also give boys more choices. As Gloria Steinem says, “I’m glad we’ve begun to raise our daughters more like our sons, but it will never work until we raise our sons more like our daughters.”

The Times post also contained advice for raising boys (great advice for all children, btw), including encouraging friendships with girls:

Research at Arizona State University found that by the end of preschool, children start segregating by sex, and this reinforces gender stereotypes. But children who are encouraged to play with friends of the opposite sex learn better problem-solving and communication.

With all that said, we’re sticking with co-ed sports (for now), because we feel it will be a growth experience for our daughters. I hope we have better experiences next season and I hope that by our daughters (and their girl friends) showing up and competing, we’ll start to open more minds and spark more discussion between parents and their sons — at least locally. In the end, all it will take is a hard check to change our mind, I imagine.

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My Media Diet (June 9th edition)

I love Jason Kottke’s media diet posts, so I am going to bring the idea to my site. Some of my favorites from the last week or two:

  • The Leftovers (HBO)
    The series finale just aired and I was lucky to time my binge to match up with the finale day. This series was so, so good. Highly recommended.

  • Amber Coffman “City of No Reply”

  • “Chase Me” Danger Mouse (feat Run the Jewels and Big Boi)

  • Cayetana “New Kind of Normal”

  • girlpool “Powerplant”

TL:DR — the 1% are spending more on education, health, and retirement and less on luxury goods, while the rest of us are spending more on traditional luxury goods. Guess which helps quality of life and future generations?

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My Micro Blog Setup

Now that Manton Reece has Micro.blog up and running for Kickstarter backers, it’s time to fine tune my setup to take advantage of the site. I am looking forward to learning more from the micro.blog community (which looks great so far) and Manton’s upcoming book on microblogging.

Here’s what I have so far…

  • WordPress backend (Webmention and Semantic Linkbacks plugins installed)
  • IFTTT set to post Instagram photos to WordPress, as well as tweet all posts (formatting based on category)
  • The site is connected to my Micro.blog profile, so status posts made there flow to WordPress and eventually Twitter.

The Micro.blog service really has me excited to blog more and most importantly, helps return us to what made the web so freaking amazing in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Thanks Manton! Looking forward to see where this all goes…

Fixing journalism

This AM I backed Jimmy Wales’ WikiTribune project — a news platform that combines traditional journalism with the Wikipedia model.

We want to make sure that you read fact-based articles that have a real impact in both local and global events. And that stories can be easily verified and improved.

The best part is it will be 100% ad free (supported by contributions like mine) and no paywall. Meaning no click-bait or low value news — just real, evidence-based news for the masses.

By donating to our campaign, you’ll play a critical part in an energetic surge towards media honesty. It’s a movement that we believe will eventually obliterate low-rent, unreliable news for good. We want to raise enough money up front to get us started – but we need your regular commitment to make sure we can keep improving and delivering on giving you real news.

Check the campaign video:

Then head over and make a contribution: