Thanks to Joan Walsh, I read this piece by Thomas Dewar on Facebook, and felt strongly this point of view should be more widely circulated. He said it's okay to cross-post, so here goes. DW

My favorite two Democrats are Elizabeth Warren and Russ Feingold. I'm not a DNC-cheerleading company man who waves the blue pompoms at anything with a (D) next to it, and have said plenty of critical things about the Clintons, their ethical shortcuts and their transactional approach to politics.

What distinguishes Warren and Feingold isn't simply where they are on the progressive spectrum, but their rare integrity, honesty, intelligence, and competence at the job. And Tim Kaine possesses the latter four qualities in spades.

When I met the man, the first thing that struck me was his utter humility, and the complete absence of the "do you know who I am?!" airs that are ubiquitous in this town. He couldn't care less what it says on his business card, and actually uses his offices to help people who don't have many advocates in the corridors of power.

You don't use your Harvard Law degree to help people of color facing housing discrimination, and poor people in Honduras, if you're the Corporate Lucifer cartoon peddled by the Bernie-Or-Busters who don't have a clue about the man.

Do I trust the recent, alleged conversion to an anti-TPP position by Clinton and Kaine? Nope! And neither should you. They're saying the right things about it now, but I fear after the election they'll change a couple of commas and try to weasel this thing past us. It's why I'm glad there's an ascendant progressive Senate caucus of Warren, Sanders, Feingold (bank it), Sherrod Brown, Jeff Merkley et al. It will be incumbent upon us to contact our legislators when the time comes and keep the pressure on.

But that's how the fuck politics works. You elect people who are mostly great but need an occasional boot in the ass. The perfect, fully formed candidate who does everything we want on every issue, never needs any prodding from us, and can actually get elected doesn't exist. Even Feingold and Warren have occasionally caught flak from the left over things like Ashcroft's AG confirmation or support for Israel.

For that matter, Tim Kaine has shown far more courage and consistency in taking on the NRA--which is headquartered in his own state--than Bernie Sanders has in Vermont. That didn't keep me from voting for Bernie in the primaries, but let's get a fucking grip. Virginia is the home of the NRA, Big Tobacco, and the Falwell-Robertson religious right, and Kaine has taken on all three, every time, without batting an eye.

The stuff about reproductive rights? Ask yourself why advocates call ourselves "pro-choice" instead of "pro-abortion" (a right-wing tag we object to), and you have your answer. I guarantee you Cecile Richards has done more to defend women's health than you and I put together, so if she says the dude scores a 100% with Planned Parenthood and gives him a ringing endorsement, it's a tad obnoxious to suggest she doesn't know what she's talking about.

You have every right to use your vote as you see fit. But please don't use disingenuous, bullshit arguments to justify something you were going to do anyway. If you think the self-aggrandizing opportunist that is Jill Stein does anything but pop her head up once every four years to shake down the gullible for a vanity "campaign," you certainly have the right to help her elect Donald Trump.

But know this: Tim Kaine does more in a day here on Capitol Hill to help the people you claim to care about than Jill Stein has in her entire fucking "career."

What people don't get about Trump is that he's made his case to Republicans and independents and Bernie supporters. That's what the convention was for. That's it. We were worried it would be dark and ugly, and it was. And we're all still here. 

The man can sneer, but can he field an army? Really, seriously even the delegates are having second thoughts now that they're back home in their own reality. Conventions are a bubble. Reality feels very different.

And for the rest of us it was a TV show. I'm looking forward to watching Bojack Horseman. And a bunch of HBO stuff. And of course the DNC next week. I expect some great emotional politics coming out of there. Trump threw a fat pitch. Based on what we saw at today's rally the Dems know how to hit that pitch, and no one is going to help Trump get over that. Not the Republican Party, not the TV shows. He can rant and rave, but you know -- that was last season's hit. He needs a new thing.

Back in the late 90s we had a publishing system called ManilaThis was around the time Google was starting, and they weren't yet indexing blogs. We needed to have search working for our sites, so we wrote a search engine that ran inside Manila. It worked the way "real" search engines do. It crawled the pages and created an index. So it didn't have to do any actual searching when you queried it. 

Eventually we came to depend on Google, but now in 2016 Google is not very good at finding stuff in my archives. And it seems to be getting worse. Phrases I used many times over the years come up with zero hits. I know how to use Google, it became part of my publishing system. I still use it for lots of stuff, but it's getting ineffective at searching my blog.

So all this leads me to the question -- has anyone made a simple easy to set up search engine for Node? It should crawl sites over HTTP. It should have a ranking algorithm, so it returns more relevant hits first. Launch the app in Forever and use a browser-based interface to tell it what to crawl. Access the search engine through the web, of course.  

If it doesn't exist, we should create it. We need to have an existence independent of Google. Strategy taxes on our web, not good. 

Update: Simple-search.

Tim Kaine's intro speech was fantastic.

If you get a chance to watch it, do.

But one thing's for sure, the DNC is going to be incredible.

The Dems are prepared.

And of course Trump threw a huge fat pitch

Last week's RNC was a horror show.

It was certainly depressing to see all those Republican elite, Americans every one of them, signing on to third world politics. I don't want to repeat all that they said, but as a good American who has voted Republican more than Democratic, they had nothing to offer me. I would vote for anyone if the other choice is Trump. So Hillary has my vote. 

Next week a lot of Republicans will watch the DNC, esp good Americans who can't stand for what the Repubs are offering this year. And that's why the choice of Tim Kaine was so smart.

It's not him personally that's so impressive, but the Clinton/Kaine product. Because not only will the team appeal to Democrats, it's designed to make sense to Republicans too. 

And that's how you can understand it, if you're having trouble.

There's an opportunity to do more than win an election in 2016, although the Dems surely have to do that. There's an opportunity to create a governing party. One that might last past the mid-terms in the first Clinton/Kaine term. A chance to run the country intelligently for once, after the lunatic years of Bush and the deadlock years of McConnell. Not in the aftermath of a huge financial meltdown. And not for only two years.

There's a chance for the equivalent of Nixon's Southern Strategy, but not geographically, demographically. A chance for a lot of weary Republicans to decide that the Democratic Party is a better baseline for American government than the split government we've been trying to make work.

Smart Democratic strategists are thinking in terms of the state houses, governorships, gerrymandering, the courts, both houses of Congress. Governing. 

So when you see them on stage, imagine you are a Republican who just saw the nightmare in Cleveland, and imagine how good Clinton/Kaine must look.

As a user of Twitter, I appreciate that there are lines you can't cross and stay on Twitter. Leslie Jones is a great comedian, and actress, and more remarkable because of her vulnerability. She's an easy target for predators on Twitter, and I like that Twitter is keeping it safe for her to participate. 

On the other hand..

It highlights why we need an open alternative to Twitter.

Back in the beginning of the web, we observed its power was that it was the platform without a platform vendor. That's a defining characteristic. 

  • If there's a platform vendor, it's not the Internet.
  • If there is no platform vendor, it is.

So we need an Internet version of Twitter.

An individual with proper backing can do a Twitter, however it takes at least a small group of designers, architects and developers to create the Internet version of Twitter.

I would very much like to be part of such an effort. 

I want it to be friendly to Twitter, because as a user and a shareholder, and a developer who uses their platform, I want to see it thrive. But I also strongly believe we need the open system, the Central Park to Twitter's condo buildings on Fifth Ave and Central Park West.

If you agree, write a blog post on your vision for the Internet's Twitter, and send me a link. I look forward to reading it. 

Update: John Biesnecker says use XMPP. I've always wanted a simplified API for XMPP. Send a message, get a message. 

I didn't think last night after watching the Trump acceptance speech that there would be a post-convention bump for Trump in the polls. 

I thought it was a miserable speech. I kept thinking how people who know him say he has no attention span or curiosity. And there was a point in the speech where you could feel that he lost it. He had gone in pumped up. His coaches told him to take a long big breath between each sentence or phrase. You could hear him do it. 

It sounded like panic.

It felt to me as if a Little League player showed up at a World Series game. They gave him the ball and said "You pitch." 

There was no passion, no enthusiasm or presence or even a sense that he understood the words he was saying. He was reading off a teleprompter. Yes, he was better than he usually is, obviously he spent a lot of time practicing this speech. He was disciplined, for Trump, didn't veer off very often, when he did, I hoped, out loud "This is it" -- now he's going to show us True Unhinged Crooked Donald, but he got himself back on course. He either wants the job now, or he doesn't want to go crazy in front of all these people.

Ivanka's speech was masterful. She'll be back, win or lose in the fall. The Jon Voight commercial was beautifully produced, but was such an incomplete profile of a person. It felt like the newsreels in Zelig or Citizen Kane. Look here's Trump building the NY skyline (what bullshit) -- here's Trump with cute animals and with NYPD on 9/11. 

There's that moment at conventions where old friends stand up for the candidate and tell you about his or her heart. Mitt Romney, who felt stiff and awkward had lots of people to speak for him. As did Obama, and the Bushes. Presidents are gregarious people who touch a lot of people's lives. Not DJ Trump. It was remarkable how few people would speak for him, and when they did it was pretty arm's length stuff. You have to wonder, does he have any friends who will speak for him?

I want Trump to fail and fail big. Get this fascist thing out of the American system. We didn't see that last night. But he threw a really fat slow pitch down the middle. The Democrats know what they're doing and they're motivated. They know how to do conventions. I've been to two of the last three DNC's. I drove from Denver back to Berkeley after the 2008 convention. I stopped by the side of the road to hear John McCain introduce Sarah Palin and thought she must be a pretty amazing person. She gave a good speech. But after that, on the long drive across Utah and Nevada, I listened to the speeches from the DNC. They were gorgeous and poetic and make my eyes well up just to think about how beautiful they were. They have great writers, and they can deliver a great story. And they're going to pull out all the stops, because they totally get how impossibly bad it would be to elect the government that would come with Trump.

The Repubs have great writers too. Good at whipping up the emotion. I don't think Trump is Batman, as has been said elsewhere, I think he's The Joker. We need James Taylor, Carole King and Chuck D, Stevie Wonder, Beyonce, Jon Stewart and Uncle Sam. We need hope, love, humor, humanity, to come out, and provide the contrast. We're Americans and we're full of honor, hope, empathy, ambition.

It's a serious election but we're up to winning, so let's get out there and win. 

There's a big fat pitch coming over the plate... 

PS: I gave another $100 to Hillary last night after Ivanka's speech. I find it helps me feel better. You should try it too, if you're so inclined.. 

Early yesterday evening I pushed a picture to Twitter of two people, one black and one a cop, holding signs that respect each other.

Respect in the sense that each listened to and accepted the other's point of view. I know from listening to cops that they feel they live with danger every day in their jobs, and aren't appreciated for the risks they take. And that blacks are at risk of being killed by cops, and live in fear, and want people to hear them, and help them.

I wrote "Problem solved" on the picture. 

Not a good title because it could be misinterpreted to mean there is no more work to do. I don't believe that. 

What it actually meant is that this problem is solved, the one illustrated in the picture. 

In no way did I mean to say that the problem was solved or all problems are solved. 

It's not going to be that easy.


The first step on the road to equality, fairness, and support for those who live with extraordinary risks, is listening to and acceptance of other points of view. This picture is the answer to people who when they hear Black Lives Matter, come back with something inane that indicates they aren't listening. Not even going to repeat what they say.

There are many cops who take their jobs seriously and feel as strongly about black lives mattering as the people who rally around the slogan. Some because they are themselves black, and some because they have a strong sense of mission and right and wrong. The road to understanding and to solving the problem is recognizing them for their support. If you can't do that imho, then you're going for something other than acceptance and to make America safer for black people.

Thanks for listening.

I liked what Ted Cruz did last night at the RNC.

I had been turning the convention off and back on all evening, too grossed out by people who pretend that Crooked Donald Trump is fit to be President. I imagined on Election Day, with a Trump victory these people all feeling a huge hangover caused by Buyer's Remorse

The Joker caught the car. What's next?

So Crooked Ted Cruz gets up, gives a hellacious disgusting Ted Cruz speech. Then it turns. He talks about his father coming to the US with nothing, from Cuba, and I thought this is a sign. Remember in the last days of the campaign Trump was saying that Father Cruz was part of the JFK assassination. Maybe payback is coming. And it sure as hell did. Good for you Ted.

This morning the analysts are trying to figure out if this is good or bad for Cruz. They make it so complicated, when it isn't. Of course it's good for him, because he did something honorable and good for our country. 

Trump as President is a loss for everyone including Republicans. Either way win or lose, Cruz wins. At least he did something good for America when he had the chance. Who thought he had it in him. It took guts to do what he did. 

To people who say he's the only Repub to stand up for America, please. There are many. People I have trouble praising, but they deserve it. Notably John Kasich and Mitt Romney, who stuck their necks out earlier and more consistently than Cruz, who may well be self-serving. He's going to run in 2020 whether or not Trump is President. His speech last night was a classic declaration of a candidacy. A speech people will talk about as long as they talk about conventions (which is forever, they are historic events). The quieter protests, from Crooked Kasich and Crooked Romney and the Crooked Bush family, those are footnotes. Cruz grabbed the spotlight. Good for him, and good for America.

PS: Earlier in the evening an astronaut was supposed to endorse Crooked Donald, but didn't. So Ted's non-endorsement was not a first at this convention. 

PPS: As long as Repubs use the title "Crooked" for Hillary Clinton I'm going to use the title for Republicans. I encourage you to do it too. It's fun! And it might just possibly get someone's attention in RepubLand. They should grow the fuck up and stop playing stupid 5th grade games with people's reps. 

Crooked Donald Trump.

Crooked Melania Trump.

Crooked Mike Pence.

for (var i = 0; i < republicans.length; i++) {

console.log ("Crooked " + republicans [i].name + ".");


I'm using "Crooked" as if it were their title.

This might be fun!

I'm trying to think but nothing happens!

The Repubs ought to be ashamed of themselves.

It's one thing to nominate a grade school bully from a racist family with a potty mouth and an emotional age in the single digits. That's pretty bad, but to call for the other party's candidate to be jailed, that's over the top. To let those words come out of your mouth, even as an anonymous person in a crowd, you all have crossed a line that will be hard to come back from. You said those words Mr and Ms Republican Elite. You have to own them. You have to live with yourself. It's time for you to wake up and get a grip.

That was your chance to make a statement, with your feet. When the chants start, get out of your seat and get out of the room. Let them see your back. There are lines you won't cross. They want you to march in a fascist parade, and you said "Let's go!" 

What's next? Sending Jews to the gas chamber? Would you chant that too?

Someone needs to kick these people in the ass and remind them that they're Americans. Respecting the other guy is a central part of self respect. You all hopefully will wake up one day from this bad dream and realize you have behaved very badly. Behavior you would never in a million years tolerate from your children.

Wake the fuck up Republicans. 

What usually does it is being objectified -- spoken to as if I don't exist.

Muting has become an option on Twitter, but sometimes it doesn't work.

The take-away is this -- everyone is a person. Don't "speechify" at people.

If you have something to say to the world, say it to the world. If you put my name on it, then I have to read it whether or not I follow you. If it's sufficiently annoying, I use the tools I have to shut off the channel.

This is how I keep from getting mired in online "wars," which from my point of view are people wanting to get closer than is comfortable. Often in an abusive way. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about whether or not to use the tools, I just use them. 

Obviously Melania Trump was lying when she said she wrote her own speech. The speech she delivered, quite well, was obviously professionally written. It was written by someone who doesn't like Trump very much and wanted to embarrass him.  (The embedded Rickroll was a very good clue.)

What it said, cutting through all the bullshit, is that the Republicans are lying about President Obama. He a competent President, running a competent administration, fairly, and he's not a Muslim and he's not "leading from behind" nor is he destroying the military or the health care system. 

It's the worst possible news for the white supremacist Republican Party. A black woman, the President's wife, spoke words at a DNC that were so good that they stood up and cheered when a white woman from Slovenia who married the candidate said them on stage at the RNC eight years later.

So which is it? Are the Republicans inspired in admiration of Obama, or do they deride him as an inferior black man elected by weak liberals who don't love their country and secretly want to destroy it? 

If the Repubs had some truth on their side they might answer that question. But they're so corrupt, so dishonest, such easy liars and cheats, and are so far from the truth, so mired in their own incompetence that such questions simply don't have answers. 

Obviously some Republicans have a sense of honor, but you have to wonder how much of it will be left after the humiliation of the Trump candidacy.

PS: I would like to meet the speech writer and shake his or her hand. 

Here's proof that the 140-char limit is crippling Twitter.

In 2014 I wrote a blog post about why "coding" is the wrong word for what we do. This was at the beginning of a huge marketing campaign by the government and tech companies to teach "coding" to lots of young people. I said please, let's have them understand at the outset that there's romance where they're headed. A chance to be a maestro, or a creative star. A maker of history. Not a person who codes other people's ideas. Feh. If that's all it were, I probably would still have made it my profession, career, creative outlet, because I love the puzzles and the arrangement of the ideas so they flow more efficiently inside the computer. But there I go off on a flight of fancy, because a coder just codes up other people's ideas. 

I'm sure the execs at the big companies who write the checks hope that developers are so containable, manageable, docile. I've met many of them, and they seem to think that I shouldn't have ideas. Just do that thing we wanted you to do.

Mitch Kapor, a colleague of mine in the early days said we were like Morris the Cat to the VCs and managers. Morris says something, the execs say "nice kitty," give him some cat food and continue with the meeting

Anyway, back to my story.

When I wrote that post two years ago, nothing came back. Because even then no one clicks links. No. One. Clicks. Links. I didn't make that up, I don't wish it would be that way. It just is that way.

So then I had the idea to take a screen shot of a copy of that post, written in a plain text editor in a monospace font to make it look computerish, like an IETF draft or something. Maybe it would look ancient or wise? :-)

It worked. Damn it worked. It's got velocity. People are RTing. It's still nowhere near as famous as the puff pieces about new coders wearing cute hats "hanging" with President (also with a nice hat) being photographically interesting in a TV sitcom way. "Coders" may look like that, but I promise you developers do not. Please. 

Just want to say that Twitter has bottled lightning. The day  it can carry short stories, vignettes, gracefully without screen shots, really exciting things will happen. 

Governor John Kasich (R-Ohio) and I have very different politics, but I have to say I'm glad he's standing up for the country this week and staying away from the RNC, I hope as a way of signaling to other Republicans that support for the Republican nominee is not automatic.

I have already confessed to having voted Republican in most Presidential elections as long as I've been able to vote. I voted for Reagan twice. Bush I, Dole, Bush II. But then, after seeing what the Republicans did in Iraq, I worked hard for Kerry in 2004, and after wrecking the economy, for Obama in 2008 and 2012. I am not a Democrat, but will not consider voting Republican again until the party starts behaving responsibly. 

And btw, people who blame HRC for the war in Iraq are wrong. Colin Powell, a man we trusted, went to the UN and told the world that Iraq was about to get nuclear weapons. They talked about mushroom clouds. What are you going to do when the President, Secretary of State, head of the CIA and National Security Advisor all say this is the beginning of WW III? Say no? I guess that's one possible answer. But most people, myself included, shrugged and said we don't have a choice but to believe them. That's what HRC and a lot of other Senators, did when asked to give the President authority to go to war.

They were lying. I don't get why people still trust Colin Powell. He personally cashed in his chips when he did that. He should apologize and then disappear from national politics. 


Trump is so far over the line that I think any Republican who stands by and does and says nothing must have a very bad spiritual disease. 

There's nothing wrong with Hillary Clinton. She's totally prepared to be president. She's a standard US politician, but quite a bit smarter and more curious that most. We will get a competent continuous government. Sure it'll have all the problems American governments have. Too closely tied to big companies. An impulse to use military might, projecting our power in a way I often don't approve of. Spying on us. I believe we need to change. But Trump isn't change, Trump is madness. Trump will destroy what's left. And no one who's sane will like what comes from that.

So while Kasich might be under some pressure to make an appearance at the RNC in his own state, I am glad that at least one Republican American is willing to stand for America first. That's what it really means. We're better than that. We really are. We must be.

"Do what makes you happy. But if we end up in an American Auschwitz, I'll get to say I Told You So."

I saw the tech industry wrote a collective essay about Trump. 

Stars of the NBA at an award ceremony said that athletes should do more.

I wonder if that's the extent of their involvement?

For example, would Melo, LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul be willing to lead a one-week strike by NBA players in October, to make it clear that we have to get to the polls and make sure Trump doesn't get elected. Would the NBA be willing to go along with it?

Would the tech industry be willing to do something similar? Not sure what. I don't think Facebook should shut down for a week. But we should be willing to give up something to make sure the depth of your commitment is felt. 

Open letters and speeches at awards ceremonies are nice, but easy. 

What are you willing to give up?

At least 40% of Americans say they'll going to vote for Trump. 

That's a big story that needs to be covered. A phenomenon I want to understand. Another elephant in the room.

Maybe reporters should stop covering campaign events and instead do a Charles Kuralt type thing and drive around the country and get to know people and introduce us to them.

Let's take Fox out of the loop and make it two-way not just one-way.

We might find the bug?

There's certainly some kind of story out there, and it's not "people are angry." Imho of course.  

I'm going to say something to you that you might not like.

So be prepared!

People don't help spread the word.

An old friend the other day said he was sad that my outliners are gone.

I thought this really sucks, because I'm working on the outliner every day now. It's the current thing I'm doing. I'm writing about it on my blog. Yet no one knows.

I hear all the time people wish I would do another outliner.

And those people are weird too. Because it's pretty clear they don't actually mean what they say, because when I send them a link to LO2, they don't use it. So what was that all about? 

I have always tried to help friends promote their work. But I think most people don't do that.


Try an experiment. Next time you're going to Like something on Twitter, instead RT it. What really do you have to lose? 

Or on Facebook, share it. If it's worthwhile or if it's someone you like, or someone who's done you a favor. That's one way to have a positive impact on the world and it doesn't cost a thing.

Help your friends! These days that seems to be a foreign concept. Let's fix that. So many things we can't fix, but this is one we can. 

PS: I want to shout out to Joe Trippi. Now there's a man who RTs. It figures, he's in politics. So he understands that people remember a kindness. They really do. And Joe if you read this don't feel you have to RT, you've already done that so many times. Thank you.

PPS: Also to Jay Rosen. A champion RTer. Muchos gracias. ;-)

The truth about terrorism is that if you're willing to give up your life, as the truck driver in Nice was, there's not much anyone can do to stop you.

That's the nature of civilization. It depends people's basic goodness and their individual will to survive. If both those things go away all bets are off.

And the more advanced our civilization gets the more at-risk we are. If we didn't have trucks we couldn't be killed by trucks. If there were no jets they couldn't be crashed into skyscrapers. Etc. 

We have a lot of vulnerabilities that we simply can't safe-up. And we can't know who all the potential suicide drivers are. 

It's not a great idea to elect despots to solve the problem. You trade one problem for an even worse one. Although I'm sure they're thinking about exactly that in France, and we already know a fair number of Americans are thinking it too.

The first time the Message-of-the-Day feature in and LO2 snuck up on me, when I wasn't looking for it. Funny thing happened. My mind jumped immediately to the emoji for pile-of-poo.  :poop:

Obviously that's not good. Going to start thinking about other options. The bell is out. 

Update: I went with a star. Unlike the alternatives I considered it doesn't look jarring or puzzling. Doesn't mean a whole lot other than maybe "look here for something star like?" Whatever. There aren't a huge number of choices.

Listening to the B52's singing The Love Shack.

That song was out when I was in fantastic shape, spent a winter skiing in Utah and Colorado. This was before mobile devices, so I used my Walkman to listen to this song while schussing beautifully at Park City and Vail.

"The Love Shack is a little old place where we can get toooogether!"

A wonderful skiing song, when I was on top of the world in every way.

Lay Down Sally

Another song that really tugs at the heart is Lay Down Sally from Eric Clapton's Slow Hand album. I was in love, very young, and while I didn't know it at the time, this song was the theme song of that love affair. 

There's something wonderful about being young and in love. You have no idea what can go wrong. You're high on all kinds of great body chemistry. The world is beautiful, we can do anything. 

The feeling doesn't seem to last, however you can call it up with all the great rushes and goosebumps just by listening to the right song. 

Marc Benioff posted something on Twitter that's worth quoting.

No one I know predicted the @Pokemon/AR phenom. That's what I love about our industry: You never know what's next.

That's right.

That's like something I used to say as the web was first taking root.

None of the titans of the software industry saw it coming. 

I remember demoing blogging on Sand Hill Road in 1999 to blank stares. Why would we want to edit our own websites? Our secretaries do that. We hire designers, and programmers. 

So when they tell you they know for sure that the web is dead, or that everyone wants to host their blogs in locked-up silos, or that you can't build a great open social net on RSS, you might want to lower your glasses down your nose and look out over the top and ask Reallly? Are you sure?? ;-)

I've been through a bunch of generations of over-confident tech icons, and they all end up wrong in the end. They're never as smart as they imagine they are.

It struck me listening to NPR this morning when they talk about Donald Trump they ask questions about him as if they didn't know what was at stake. This is how they do their job. They're neutral. 

Does being neutral allow you to discard your intellect, to put aside your education, forget your humanity. We know what's going on. We're losing our minds as a country. And it's business as usual.

Wouldn't it be great if:

There were a lapel pin you could wear that simply meant Black Lives Matter.

Everyone could wear it. All races. All walks of life.

I'm not a lapel-pin designer but so I can't do the design, but here's what I had in mind. 

It should be small but not cheap. Not a tin button, something solid like the American flag lapel pins people wear. I could be an American flag lapel pin, with #BLM superimposed. 

We would wear where Americans congregate. On the subway. In baseball stadiums, on airplanes, when we go for a bike ride or a run in the park or a hike. At a company picnic. In the squad room and when we're on patrol. Everyone would wear this, ideally, to get it out of the realm of protest, to integrate the idea into all aspects of American life.

It's a way of saying thanks to our black brothers and sisters for putting up with the racist insanity of post-slavery US. A way overwhelm the problem with love, not just from the victims, but from everyone. To stand with our friends and fellow citizens, with dignity for everyone, to insist on there being no question of patriotism and civic pride. 

Putting America's racist past in the past is something every American should want. Someone not wearing the lapel pin should stand out as much as someone not standing for God Bless America at a baseball game (something I do, I detest that ritual).

There's a new Message of the Day feature in

When a new message is available -- an update, a review, an interesting application -- the bell icon goes black. The bulletin pops down like menu. As you can see it can have links.

BTW, it's possible, no matter how bad the RNC is, Trump's numbers will improve. Remember the only poll that matters is the one in November.

Like others I was fascinated by President Bush's dance at the funeral for the assassinated police officers in Dallas. 

I find it hard to watch. His wife, former First Lady Laura Bush, clearly didn't approve. Michelle Obama, who was holding his other hand, tried to play along. I watched his face, he seemed genuinely happy. Enjoying himself. I can't really blame a guy for feeling good. It is what it is. If he felt sad, that would have been okay too.

I wondered if perhaps he wasn't suffering from a form of dementia though, to be perfectly honest. He's aged a lot, doesn't look quite himself. He's been out of the spotlight for eight years, I guess. It's a lot of time. 

I wonder if he sees the connection between the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Iraq-like sniping incident that claimed the police lives?

There was a historic context to this event that has been, from what I've heard, largely unexplored. I wrote a piece on Monday about the connection between the war and the unrest in the US in the summer of 2016.

It's because the Supreme Court is the least political branch that Justice Ginsburg can say what everyone knows about Trump, including all Republicans. 

They can't say it, that's understable. 

She can, that's good. 

He's an incompetent phoney who isn't up to the most trivial job. He can't even read off a teleprompter. He's a total narcissist. It would be hard to imagine someone less up to the job than Donald Trump

Bless her for speaking the truth. 

He isn't even equal to the most corrupt and mentally ill President we've probably ever had. 

I'm working my way through Season 3 of Silicon Valley.

Something changed. I really enjoyed the previous two seasons but this one is seriously depressing. 

I recognize all the characters. I have different names for them. I knew the big VC as a partner at Kleiner Perkins

There's a guy who gets a $20 million windfall and blows through it in no time. I know that person too, only the character in the show isn't exhibiting the weirdness of someone who wants to destroy his or her own success. 

I played the role of a number of the characters. Usually the team leader who didn't fit in well with the business types. 

A lot of the systems didn't exist when I showed up in Palo Alto at 24, in 1979. I would have loved being part of an incubator with lots of other nerds to hang out with. There weren't enough independent developer types back then to pull something like that off. And the idea that programming was creative was pretty radical for the tech industry of the early 80s. I think at its core the VCs still don't get that it's creative. 

I once had a CEO tell me he could do my job better than I could. A VC once told me that too. I actually gave him the source code and told him to have fun. 

A lot of people who make big decisions in Silicon Valley think that having taken a comp sci class 20 years ago is the same thing as being a commercial developer. 

It's a lonely place. No social pulse. Everyone works all the time. It has its moments but usually it's not very much fun. 

I became part of it and it very much became  part of me.

One of the most depressing things is that they're still arguing over tabs vs spaces. It bothers me because I'm not a member of either school. I write code in an outliner. My editor takes care of that, I think it uses tabs, but I could easily change it to use spaces. They say, in the show, that it all gets compiled to the same thing when the machine runs it. True! But I've gotten even higher level. The code they edit by hand to me is object code. The depressing thing is the kids who inspired the characters in the show are having an argument that's much, much older than they are. It is resolvable. But they're still arguing about it! No one listens. Progress is made at a snail's pace. 

I am not able to get Google Voice under control.

My iPhone never rings when I get a call. I use T-Mobile.

And sometimes some app on my Mac will ring when I get a phone call and I can take the call there. But now this is not working either. I wish I understood what app this is, and how to view its settings. It seems to emanate from GMail. Not sure.

So when I get a call, I get no notification until a voicemail message appears in my Gmail inbox. This is really screwed up, I'm sitting at my computer, waiting for a return call, and it doesn't ring. So I call them back, leave a message, and round and round we go.

Does anyone know a sure-fire way to get Google Voice to actually ring something I can answer someone near where I am?

This shit used to work flawlessly.


At least part of the problem is that I had the ringer off on the iPhone. 

My todo list outline is public, at least for now.

It's an instant outlineThat means it updates in realtime as I make changes to it.

I don't work too fast, so don't expect it to blow you away.

But it might make a good demo of what you can do with LO2.

Here's a big post, as announced earlier today.

Two elephants in the room.

They started out as small baby elephants.

One was cute.

The other was hidden.

The cute one grew up and isn't so cute anymore.

And the hidden one stayed hidden for a long time, but now it's not hidden. Even so people don't want to see it.

The cute one

The cute one is Twitter. 

It's name is diminutive. It's just a twitter. The sound a little bird makes. A cute little bird. A blue one. 

In the beginning people made fun of it because people used it to broadcast what they were having for lunch. 

It's a fun cute little bird people make fun of.

Even today when someone says something on Twitter it's called a tweet.

I try to imagine my hippie uncle, who died in 2003, coming back for an afternoon, to learn who the Republican nominee for President is. 

Donald Trump, I'd say.

He'd look at me in disbelief.

How did that happen, he'd ask.

He tweeted well.

I think he just fell off his chair. 

But that is how he did it.

He routed around the gatekeepers. 


The press and the established leadership of the Republican Party.

My uncle would have had no trouble understanding the Citizens United ruling that allowed unlimited money to determine the outcome of the election. 

But Twitter? 

That's weird.

How is this like 1968?

In 1968 a new medium was just taking hold. 

It had started a few decades earlier.

But the generation that was coming of age in 1968 had grown up with TV. 

To us, learning about the world via TV wasn't new. It was the way it was done. Much the way learning about the world is done today via "social media."

Each medium imposes its own blueprint, because it determines how we communicate. TV enforced the power of gatekeepers because the infrastructure required to put a network on the air was so expensive and required a lot of different skills. You had to send reporters all over the world. Satellite links were just getting started. It seemed a miracle then that you could watch someone who was reporting from Europe or Asia in real time. The signal bounced off a satellite. That cost serious money.

TV centralized. Twitter does the opposite. Any fool with an iPhone can tweet. And if they're good at it, as Trump is, if they're good at grunts and snorts, putdowns and soundbites, and if what they say resonates with enough people, the message gets through. No gatekeepers have to approve. 

And of course just as TV didn't eliminate radio or printed news, Twitter doesn't eliminate TV or radio (it's now called podcasting) or news sites (what newspapers look like now). They all still exist, and feed off each other. But Twitter is the way the sources go direct, and route around the gatekeepers of the 20th century media.

Okay so that's the first elephant, what's the second?

The war

2016 is like 1968 also because the US is fighting an unwinnable war, in Afghanistan and Iraq. Unlike Vietnam, this war is hidden. There are no reporters in the jungle showing us atrocities. No body bags on the news. However, the war is an atrocity, both now and in 1968, and just because we don't see the body bags, that doesn't mean they aren't there. They are. The government got savvy between the wars, and realized that if they don't show us the bodies, visually, we won't see them. They were right.

This war is also different because there's no draft. So there were few protests in the streets of America about the war, because every American who went was a volunteer, in a way. This time the volunteers are coerced by the bad economy for young people, and by war promotion at places young people congregate, such as sporting events. We stand to sing God Bless America. At every sporting event there's a veteran for us to appreciate. Young people seeing this see a way to add meaning to their lives. The heroism appeals to them. We've learned how to market war to young people. So we don't have to draft the better-educated and richer kids. This time the body bags are filled mostly with the bodies of poor and uneducated Americans. 

But eventually the war comes home. We train young people to kill. We don't give them anything to do when they return. Most veterans, the ones who aren't so photogenic or amenable are forgotten. Until one of them snaps and becomes a sniper.

We have a lot of hubris thinking that we can unleash such chaos in other countries and have it not come home. The NY Post called the last week the start of a "civil war." What nonsense. And naive. This is not yet a civil war. Have a look at what life is like in Iraq for a preview of what that might be like, if it ever comes home. And if it does, we will totally deserve it, because we thought we could fight a war and have life go on undisrupted. When we fight, everyone must feel it. All our young people should have to fight and die. No volunteers. It should affect all classes of Americans equally. Of course when that happens wars wouldn't be so easy to start. That's an important principle.

2016 and 1968

So there are two big things in common between 1968 and 2016. A new medium with new properties is taking hold. And we're fighting an unwinnable and largely immoral war. 

What to do about it? 

Clearly we should be taking better care of veterans. That's an easy one. If we want to prevent more massacres like the one in Dallas. And if we want to do what's right, after doing so much that's wrong. 

End the volunteer army. Reinstate the draft.

Stop promoting war to young people. 

We should probably have some new laws governing how the US goes to war. And enforce the ones we have. 

We should punish Presidents who start wars based on lies. Make them fear for the retribution that will come when their lies are exposed. The punishment should be severe, because these are severe crimes with huge costs. (I hate this idea, btw -- but enough is enough.)

About Twitter, I've written about this a lot. It's all in the archive of my blog. If we want to communicate with rich ideas, the medium has to expand beyond 140 characters. Twitter, the company, is struggling. We should make sure that no longer is happening. We need it to be a strong medium. But we also need it to evolve, for the limits to go away. For new development to happen outside the confines of a single company. 

We, as a society should make a deal with Twitter, the company. In return for financial stability, you have to become a platform, and let other systems be implemented on your infrastructure. We can't tolerate losing it as a communication medium, it's too important. But we also can't tolerate the incredibly negative effect it has on our political life by optimizing for quick fixes, emotional argument and tyrants. 

Disclosure: I own a small amount of Twitter stock.

I have a big blog post planned for today.

A realization, a gestalt.

Why 2016 is like 1968.

There's an elephant in the room, so big you can't see it.

Actually two elephants. 

Just like 68.

This is a post about how we fail at news in 2016. But first a couple of stories about math and computer science.

I was a math major at Tulane University in New Orleans in the early 70s.

I remember once, a professor standing in front of a math class, probably differential equations or analysis, and he was angry.

"You're supposed to know when you have a proof," he said.

In other words, everyone in the class had turned in an assignment to prove something mathematical and we had all turned in proofs that didn't work.

Something similar happened a few years later when I was a computer science grad student at the UW-Madison. I was a teaching assistant, one of my jobs was to post example code for the students to use in their assignments. I had posted code that had a syntax error. It wouldn't make it through the C compiler. It would kick it back and say "fix this error and try again" or something like that.

A grad student who supervised my work got angry the same way the professor at Tulane had. "Check your work!" she said. I was embarrassed, and got the message. Ever since, before posting code, I run it through the system to make sure it does what I think it does. And of course a lot of errors get caught that way.

Okay, so how is this about news?

We don't have anything remotely like the answer to how news works in the age of the Internet. We're running around in circles, confused, ineffective, and all the while we need a good news system. Evidence: the way we're making political decisions. Also: we're going in reverse on race equity. 

My math professor, standing in the front of the room in 1974 might say: "You're supposed to know when you've solved the problem!"

We haven't solved the problem.

Try an exercise.

Get informed. 

You can't. All you get is sensation. Feelings. Pushes in this primal direction or another. Fear dominates. The people who do what we call news know how this works and they make fear. And that's a rush and it feels good, but what about when you really just want to know what's happening?

Facebook doesn't do that. Nor does Twitter. Facebook sounded like they were going to do something in this area, but they punted. And I think they're not ready for what happened in Minneapolis last week, when their Live service was used to broadcast the aftermath of a murder. They probably thought they'd get movies of cats, skateboarders, and people dumping ice buckets on each others' heads.

BTW, it's remarkable, to me, that Diamond Reynolds was aware of the Facebook Live service, knew how to use it, had the software on her phone, and thought in a moment of crisis (her life was at stake) to use it. Facebook Live is very new. Also incredibly impressed with how she kept her cool, while a cop was waving his gun at her and obviously freaking out because he had just shot the man next to her who was dying while she was broadcasting. 

Seriously: She should win a Pulitzer.

While all this is going on in the world, here's a screen shot of the news that Facebook presented to me today.

A picture named facebookNews.png

The only story in that list that was interesting to me was the one about Mark Zuckerberg. This is a company that says it uses an algorithm to customize the news for me based on my interests and those of my friends. I've given them lots of data to work with. And this is what they came up with?

The list of stories barely changes through the day. They are off-target, have nothing to do with me, I don't even know what some of them mean. Who is Amanda Nunes and what is T-Mobile Arena? I can't imagine I care. Same with Chaka Khan or Chewbacca Mom. I heard about the inmates who helped save the life of a guard, and didn't click on it the first time. It's JUNK. 

It doesn't matter if it makes anyone money, sorry -- but our world is being flushed down the toilet because all we're getting is emotion. Things that make us feel the world is a big family (it's not anything like a family). Bedtime stories. We bottle up what's real until it explodes on us. Then reality comes home. 

Sorry, if you think Facebook has figured this out -- they haven't.

We need to fix this. We need to get moving whether or not the tech industry is ready.

© 1994-2016 Dave Winer
Last update: Saturday, July 23rd, 2016; 7:28 PM.