Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

New T-Shirt: Hell, Yes, I'm a Feminist

30 December 2014

Hell, Yes, I'm a Feminist T-shirt

T-Shirts

Redbubble has American Apparel shirts. I totally get why some people won’t buy them, especially in this context, but Dov Charney’s out and the new CEO, Paula Schneider, is a woman. This doesn’t magically fix things, of course.
Zazzle has Hanes shirts (as well as other brands). Zazzle has more sizes, more types of shirts, and so on.

A Note on How the Glitter Prints

I thought I’d mention: this isn’t actually glitter, it’s a glitter-like effect. It prints as different hues, but is more subdued when printed on fiber. (I already knew the color would be, which is why I blew it out.)
I used that same effect when printing my purple 100 Countries pillow. Here’s a photograph:
2014-12-30 08.26.32

Other Products

Redbubble also has prints and posters and cards and stickers and stuff.
flat,800x800,070,f.u1
And there are also man purses tote bags.
tb,1200x1200,small.2u1
If you’d like some other format, let me know. Duvet cover, shower curtain, tech gadget covers, all possible.

Design Element Credits

Top to bottom:

  1. Heart: Out of a big pack o’ vector art from Callie Hegstrom over at Make Media, which I got several times over, including in a Design Cuts bundle. Here’s an interview with Callie.
  2. Background ribbon: from the same vector pack.
  3. “Hell” and “I’m A” are from the Nexa Rust type family, which was designed by four Bulgarian designers, Fontfabric, including Ani Petrova. Here’s a blurb about her.
  4. The flourishes around “Yes” are from Showcase, a type family from Chilean foundry Latinotype, and co-designed by Paula Nazal Selaive. I love this family. Here’s a profile of her.
  5. “Yes” is Nicky Laatz’s typeface, Stringfellows. She’s a South African designer.
  6. “Feminist” is Laura Worthington’s amazing Voltage typeface.
  7. Venus symbol is from Jolly Icons. I use their icons for my Twitter, Facebook, and email icons on my site. They’re a team of two, and Jucke’s female, but I don’t know if she drew this particular symbol.
  8. Glitter! Is from Nicky Laatz.
  9. (print only) Paper textures from Jennifer Howland at Joyful Heart Designs.
  10. (print only) Damask overlay from Designious.. They don’t credit individual designers for these, though. Also, not sure which of the many hundreds of damask patterns I have from them that I used….

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What to Do With a Rusty Dumpster

29 December 2014

What-to-Do-With-a-Rusty-Dumpster
Note: this is a much simpler form of this tutorial from Spoongraphics.
The other night, a friend of mine and I were chatting, and she complimented something I’ve been working on (but haven’t yet posted). And I said, “ehh, it’s just a dumpster.”
She replied, “I would not have assumed dumpster.”
So, here’s my dumpster space scene mini-tutorial.

  1. Acquire a photo of a rusty dumpster. I used this one ($3), but many others are out there. Or—take your own! I used a blue (sea) + rust (land) combo, but there are many other combinations that work. Scratches, however, make it seem unrealistic (though you can mend those in Photoshop).
  2. Cut out a circular piece that you like the water/land shapes on. Spherize (in Photoshop: Filter > Distort > Spherize). Rotate it, if desired, to put the elements where you most like them. (I didn’t bother with this.)
  3. Create a black area the same size. Gaussian blur it with a big blur. Then blur it again. This is the most fiddly part, and you’ll need to fuss with it to make it look realistic.
  4. Expand the shadow region until it looks right.
  5. Add inner and outer glow to the planet so it has atmosphere.
  6. Find a good lens flare photo. I used one from Photography planet I had lying around and used it at 80% normal blend mode.
  7. A good background is black or near-black, and has stars. I happened to use one from here. You can use brushes to make star patterns, or use photos of sky or nebulae—whatever.
  8. I added a different layer above the lens flare, set it to lighten 70%, then filled in a few places (atmosphere, flare itself) with 50%, 70%, or 100% black to keep the stars from peeking through.

From there, the Spoon Graphics tutorial has lovely ideas on how to make the whole thing more realistic, including adding clouds and stuff.

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Some Thoughts on Defamation

28 December 2014

photo-01-sm
Yesterday, I posted a link on Twitter and Facebook to a recent John Scalzi blog post:

So THIS is how adults handle being defamed. http://t.co/sEzyenaP6B #notchilled

— Deirdre Saoirse Moen (@deirdresm) December 27, 2014

But some people misunderstood what I actually meant partly because a) one can’t show a lot of context in a tweet, and b) lots of people who read my tweets or FB aren’t following the Ellora’s Cave case, and I meant my tweet partly as commentary on the existence of that case.
I went through a period in the nineties where I was being harassed (and defamed) by Scientology, and I had to consider what I wanted to do about it. Some of what was being posted was true but unflattering (and hence not defamation). Some of it was that was partly true, but not substantially true. And some of it was unflattering but not defamatory (e.g., bullying me about my weight). It was all done with the intent to harass and make me lose status, but, weirdly, I gained status with some people, too.
My own experience made me think a lot about defamation. Scalzi’s viewpoint, as expressed in his blog post, meshes pretty well with my own.

When You File a Lawsuit for Defamation, You’re Saying

  1. The other party has more power and more respect than you do, and they had that both before and after the alleged defamation occurred. (Though not necessarily in cases of defamation per se.)
    Think about it. If they didn’t have more respect, then how could what they say actually damage you?
    As Scalzi says in his own post: > However, I would also need to show that Beale’s actions have caused me harm, economically and/or emotionally. Aside from annoyance, which does not rise to actionable levels, I’m not seeing the harm to me personally. Essentially, Beale escapes punishment here because he’s failed to be important enough to be harmful.

    The act of being involved in a lawsuit will also change your reputation, and not always for the better. Some people will respect you more, some will respect you less, and some will lose all respect for you—just because you filed the lawsuit.

  2. You believe you know what the alleged defamer’s motivations were.
    Granted, there’s a difference of degree between private person, limited purpose public figure, and public figure here. But how much do we really know about other people’s motivations?
    Even proving negligence (for a private person’s statements) is tricky. I remember having to go over the elements of a negligence claim when I took paralegal classes. The elements are:

    1. Duty of care: one has to show that they had a duty of care.
    2. Breach of duty: one has to so that that duty was breached.
    3. Factual causation: one has to show that that breach of duty actually caused the harm done.
    4. How proximate was the causation to the harm?
    5. There was actual harm done.

    It’s not an easy task, and that’s the easiest of them. You might be surprised how many negligence cases fail to show the required elements of negligence. Three and four are particularly tricky as I recall from the case law I’ve read.

  3. You’re willing to remain involved with your alleged defamer for years.
    Cases can go on for 2, 3, 5 years. Not all cases will settle quickly—or ever.
    What does it say about you that you think remaining in relatively constant contact over the course of years is what you feel is your best option?
  4. Since you have to file over what the alleged defamatory statements are, you will be dragging your own name through the mud in the course of the lawsuit.
    Further, it’ll all be a part of a permanent, public record. Rulings may be published in federal or state law books.
    A lawsuit creates a tangible, fixed record of what may have otherwise been lost to time.
  5. You believe a judge can rescue you.
    I mean no disrespect for judges—or lawyers—here. Judges do have a lot of power within their purview, but one thing a judge can’t do is rewind time to prevent the defamation from happening in the first place. You’ll never get that state back.
    It’s also relatively rare for plaintiffs to get what they expect to or hope to.

The David Beckham Case (So Far)

Let’s look at an example defamation case: David Beckham v. Bauer Publishing (California’s Central District federal case # 2:10-cv-07980-R-SS). It was filed in October, 2010, and is still ongoing (the most recent docket item is less than a week old). It’s had three appeals to the 9th circuit.
The lawsuit stems from In Touch magazine publishing a story saying that Beckham had cheated on his wife with a prostitute.
There was a settlement last year, but there had been an outstanding issue that the appeal couldn’t be heard on until there was a final order. That is still ongoing.
This article from 2011 sure makes it sound like it would be a slam dunk case:

The Los Angeles Galaxy star argued in a court filing in January that he was visiting his ailing father in London during one of the alleged trysts with the purported call girl Irma Nici.
Kendall said a basic investigation by the magazine would have shown that Beckham was elsewhere when the alleged trysts occurred. He asked the judge to allow the case to proceed so that he could conduct depositions that would bolster Beckham’s case, but Real refused.

Part of the problem, though, was that Bauer filed an Anti-SLAPP motion against Beckham. So this article neatly glosses over some of the case’s complications.

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An Awesome Resource for Free Website Backgrounds

27 December 2014

A few years ago, I came across an awesome resource for seamless patterns, far more professional than most I’d seen before. Best of all, these website backgrounds are free for both personal and commercial use!
These are free for both personal and commercial use, and someone asked about using them in products for sale and was told that was fine. So—knock yourselves out. I know I will. 🙂
The Webtreats site has some truly awesome resources. There’s a lot of broken image links, the search function is dodgy, and it can be frustrating figuring out what you want, but it’s almost certainly in there. Somewhere.
I don’t know how much they have posted, but I know that, over the years, I’ve downloaded 3.3 gigs of images. I’m trying to see what holes I have in my collection even as I write this.
The starry blog background for deirdre.net is from this set.
The almost-black wood background on Ryan Johnson’s fan site came from either the 270 or the 504 set I mention below. I have changed that one a couple of times, keeping within the same color range.
If you truly can’t decide, I’d suggest starting with two collections: 270 tileable backgrounds and 504 additional website backgrounds. These were designed to work with their Awake theme, but can be used with any website where you can change the background and/or control the CSS.

Not Sure You’ll Like It? Preview It!

First, remember that, like paint or wallpaper, the overall effect will be much more pronounced than it is in a small swatch.
Let me show you a trick.
Visit this page of smoky blue seamless patterns.
Some of the free website backgrounds
Click on the middle pattern.
You’ll be redirected to a page that shows that pattern used as the background for the page.
smokey-blue-lights
It won’t look the same as it would on your own site, but it will give you a sense of what the style looks like as a background.

Another Trick: Save Directly to Dropbox

If you have a Dropbox account (note: affiliate link), you can save the downloaded files to your Dropbox. The filenames end with:
.zip?dl=1
Cut off everything after .zip (the last five characters), and Dropbox will ask you if you want to save it. I find Dropbox’s mechanism for syncing with a dodgy network far more reliable than a browser download, so that’s what I would recommend if you have any problems.

Still Another Trick: Finding the Image’s Blog Post Again

So you’ve got these great backgrounds, right? And they’re all neatly in numbered folders. A friend asks you where you got it, but you can’t remember the link and God knows it can be hard to find something on a site with so much stuff.
Let’s take my space scene. Maybe your friend wants to check out some of the other color variations.
The file name is: 857-tileable-classic-nebula-space-patterns.zip
Take the numeric part in the front, and that’s the WordPress post number. So, http://webtreats.mysitemyway.com/?p=857 will get you to that package.

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Ellora's Cave: Courtney Milan Pwns the Preposterous Peanut

26 December 2014

yogs-law-post-header

Hey @pubnt if your number includes a lawyer, when does the law assume that all eighty-year-old woman can have children?

— Courtney Milan (@courtneymilan) December 18, 2014

@ataglanceRMC @tejasjulia @julainestone @deirdresm What did she say? We didn’t see. #nothchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 25, 2014

Hey @pubnt, same question. Since you know law, when are eighty year old women presumed fertile? #notchilled

— Courtney Milan (@courtneymilan) December 24, 2014

Meanwhile, Pubnt Ignores the Question and Spouts The Following…

Here are some posts in between those where pubnt claimed to know the law:

@ataglanceRMC Thanks. We like to pretend we’re counsel for the side we pick. #notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 19, 2014

@trista_michaels ID request just needs to be in the claim. The proper motion will be made at the right point in the proceedings. #notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 19, 2014

@trista_michaels It is, stupid. The Claim is the brief statement of the ful case you intend to run. #notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 20, 2014

@trista_michaels Properly drafted motions for specific actions in the case are filed at the right pints in the proceedings. #notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 20, 2014

@ataglanceRMC @trista_michaels Other relevant parties will be enjoined with motions at the right point in the proceedings. #notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 20, 2014

@ataglanceRMC @trista_michaels Pointless repeating. The proper motions can & will be made at the right point in the proceedings. #notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 20, 2014

Note that Pubnt’s commenting about what Ellora’s Cave’s legal strategy on the DA case will be.

@ataglanceRMC The only “analysis” that will stop it is a law saying that EC cannot file that motion any time in the proceedings. #notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 20, 2014

@ataglanceRMC @deirdresm @trista_michaels There is no MOTION yet, stupid. There is a Claim. The MOTION will come. #notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 20, 2014

@ataglanceRMC We know. We are not going to publicly comment on these at the moment lest we coincidentally reveal EC strategy. #notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 21, 2014

::cough::

@ataglanceRMC Yeah, we’re not getting involved except where a lawsuit is involved. Not our interest. #notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 21, 2014

@ataglanceRMC We know this. This is from that Times case whereby the US constitutionalized the previously English libel law… #notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 21, 2014

“…the US constitutionalized the previously English libel law…”? That is a serious misreading of New York Times v. Sullivan. Courtney Milan talks about the case in this post on the EC lawsuit.

@ataglanceRMC .. that previously placed the burden of proof of not defaming on the defendant. #notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 21, 2014

Again, a serious misreading of New York Times v. Sullivan. In the US, the person making the claim (i.e., the Plaintiff) has the burden of proof. Instead, what Sullivan did was change the standard of proof required. As the NY Times published on the 50th anniversary of the decision:

The ruling was revolutionary, because the court for the first time rejected virtually any attempt to squelch criticism of public officials—even if false—as antithetical to “the central meaning of the First Amendment.” Today, our understanding of freedom of the press comes in large part from the Sullivan case. Its core observations and principles remain unchallenged, even as the Internet has turned everyone into a worldwide publisher—capable of calling public officials instantly to account for their actions, and also of ruining reputations with the click of a mouse.

Pubnt’s Claim About When DA’s Article Was Published

@ataglanceRMC We honestly think that EC was in the middle of some staff reorganization from a somewhat bloated structure,…#notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 21, 2014

@ataglanceRMC … and DA/Jane Litte made a mountain out of a molehill before the process was completed and organized again… #notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 21, 2014

@ataglanceRMC … into the new lean & mean structure. In that way we believe that the Defendants defamed the Publisher. #notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 21, 2014

@ataglanceRMC But not to loose sight of the forest for the trees… we still think there was Defamation of the Publisher here… #notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 21, 2014

@ataglanceRMC … possibly through reckless disregard by not doing enough investigation to find out the truth behind the rumors. #notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 21, 2014

@ataglanceRMC …and Reckless Disregard by advancing an interpretation significantly more dire than reality to the extent … #notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 21, 2014

@ataglanceRMC …that it’s untrue, where there are other interpretations to the situation that was still in flux and settling. #notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 21, 2014

@ataglanceRMC …because corporate re-organizations of such a big beast takes about 4 to 6 months to settle back into a rhythm. #notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 21, 2014

Pubnt’s claiming that EC had a bad transition period and DA’s article hit at the worst of that time, and unfairly exaggerated the situation. But that’s not what “reckless disregard” actually means in this context. From Sullivan:

Factual error, content defamatory of official reputation, or both, are insufficient to warrant an award of damages for false statements unless “actual malice”–knowledge that statements are false or in reckless disregard of the truth–is alleged and proved.

Let’s see:

  1. Those editors who said they weren’t paid still say they’re not paid. Here’s one.
  2. Authors are still claiming not to receive timely royalties. Here’s one. Here’s another.

Doesn’t look like either conscious falsity or reckless disregard of the truth from here.

@julainestone @jaidblack As legal bloggers we present valid legal arguments. Only the Judge determines if our legal arg. applies.#notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 24, 2014

Legal bloggers, huh? Sans blog.

@deirdresm @tejasjulia @courtneymilan We like arguing cases on the Internet for the party we support. It’s a great way to learn..#notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 24, 2014

@deirdresm @tejasjulia @courtneymilan … the law as a law student. (One of us) #notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 24, 2014

And, my personal favorite, TinaNut’s fascination with dissing hybrid authors (including myself) and self-published people as “slush pilers,” especially given that Tina Engler was basically only self-published for years. In this tweet, Pubnt’s dissing Courtney Milan, who not only went to law school, she’s clerked with some pretty amazing people. Also, Courtney’s been on the New York Times Bestseller list, where Jaid Black/Tina Engler has not.

@ataglanceRMC @tejasjulia Nonsense. Current lawyer beats ex-lawyer turned slush piler. #nothchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 25, 2014

Pubnt Finally Answers Courtney’s Question

@ataglanceRMC @tejasjulia @julainestone @deirdresm Is it something to do with abortion rights law? #notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 27, 2014

Bzzt. Admittedly, I know more than the average person about that area of law, but even if I hadn’t, I’d have guessed it related to probate law (which isn’t entirely accurate, but it’s at least in the ballpark).

Background: I asked the Nut this question. https://t.co/9MuOIB3zW4 This is a reference to a VERY PAINFUL legal fiction inflicted on all 1Ls.

— Courtney Milan (@courtneymilan) December 27, 2014

I got a ton of DMs/messages from people saying “AUGH rule against perpetuity flashbacks!”

— Courtney Milan (@courtneymilan) December 27, 2014

The Fertile Octogenarian is a fairly decent litmus test. If someone doesn’t know it, they’re unlikely to have legally training in the US.

— Courtney Milan (@courtneymilan) December 27, 2014

By the way—asking about fertile eighty-year-olds is the way to frame the question. That yields basically zero useful google results.

— Courtney Milan (@courtneymilan) December 27, 2014

Not sure of the point of this exercise, since obviously the Nut has no legal background. But for the 1 person who doubted, HERE YOU ARE.

— Courtney Milan (@courtneymilan) December 27, 2014

@nadialee TBF, I really feel like Tina should have a better understanding of basic law than the Nut has exhibited.

— Courtney Milan (@courtneymilan) December 27, 2014

Deirdre Surveys the Husband

Rick just woke up from a nap when I was starting to write this post, so I asked him Courtney’s question.
He gestured at the air a couple of times, and, within thirty seconds came up with “Rule Against Perpetuities.” Which is correct. Also, not bad for someone still half-asleep. Here’s the Wikipedia page about the scenario.
Oh, and Rick hasn’t gone to law school either.

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This Blog Gets Around

25 December 2014

Some time in the past, I was sad that no one from Greenland had ever visited my blog. I am no longer sad.
Here’s how much of the world visited so far in 2014 (very light grey means no visits):
2014-visits-map
Not only did I get a single visit from Greenland, I got two from Cuba. Here are some others at the end of the long tail:
end-of-the-long-tail
North America: everyone visited!
Central America: everyone visited!
South America: everyone but French Guiana.
Europe: missing a few Balkan states.
Middle East: Most countries, though I’m kind of disappointed about missing Yemen. I have Yemeni coffee every morning.
Africa: I count 24 countries (on the map, which means I may have missed smaller countries). Far from all of them, but that’s far more than I expected. Helloooooo, Africa!
Asia: Missing Iran, Turkmenistan, and North Korea. Two of those were a given.
Here’s the full list of the 178 (by ISO country code count) visiting countries and territories. Italics means I haven’t been there yet.
Afghanistan, Åland Islands, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Faroe Islands, Fiji, Finland, France, French Polynesia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Grenada, Guam, Guatemala, Guernsey, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jersey, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyszstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Palestine, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Réunion, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turks and Caicos, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vatican City, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Virgin Islands, British, Virgin Islands, US, Zimbabwe
Folks: I’m floored. Gobsmacked.
Thank you so much for visiting. I’ve been to 101 countries and territories by the Travelers Century Club list, which translates to 85 ISO countries/territories and 66 UN member nations (plus the Vatican).
I never dreamed that so many more countries than that would visit my humble little corner of the internet.
Thank you. Every one of you.

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Homejoy: Another Silicon Valley Tech Startup Cult

25 December 2014

no-just-no

This job ad, posted on HN on Christmas eve, is one of the most depressing job ads I’ve ever read https://t.co/gQfciKjzu7

— Dan Nguyen (@dancow) December 25, 2014

It is. It really truly is.
On Christmas Eve around 5 pm San Francisco time, Adora posted the this piece looking for future employees.

  1. i can’t be 100% sure but i think people choose to work here because they believe homejoy is not just another cool startup; it’s a mission; it’s a passion. we’re building things that enable and will change the way people live and work. this is not an overnight venture; we know it’ll take a long time, and we’re all committed to it.

    First: they work there because a) they are (presumably) paid, and b) they believed that your offer was less odious than the other choices they had at the time. It’s not a mission, it’s a company. For your employees, the expected added benefits exceed the expected added costs. And bay area engineers will put up with massive crap if they think they might get rich. Even when the actual outcome is a million-to-one reverse split on the stock.
    Homejoy’s business model is to find cleaning services. They’ve had three rounds of funding comprising about forty million dollars. I don’t want to be in any way disrespectful to the industry, but they’re entering a market segment with several other established competitors.
    It’s just an educated guess, but I’d guess that they’re not generating venture outcomes.

  2. Words of Wisdom from Mackieman:

    Being die-hard loyal to a company is like being in an intimate relationship with a brick. The brick cares nothing for you. Do not love the brick; the brick will only cause you pain when it forgets about you. The brick serves only its interests and nothing else is of consequence.
    The brick does not love you.

    He’s right. When push comes to shove, everyone’s expendable, even founders and CEOs. I’ve seen it happen. Organizations value themselves more than the people that make up the company. Growth is expensive, and that’s when control gets dodgy.
    But you’re probably feeling that brick-like pressure from those venture rounds, aren’t you?

  3. “so it’s xmas eve and i’m in the office with several other folks who didn’t have plans for xmas either.”
    It’s all about the poor me, isn’t it? Except in this case, you’re the one doling it out, ensuring those other people couldn’t have plans. Look, you and your brother founded the place and head it up. If you don’t have plans for Christmas, who’s fault is that, exactly?
  4. “don’t get me wrong, many other homejoy folks are back home celebrating a proper xmas with family as they should definitely do!”
    ::rolls eyes::
    So “they should” celebrate a “proper xmas”? Now it’s sounding like you’re insulting both groups.
  5. Never, ever, get a job interview with a company that uses private domain registration.

Look, a job ad would have been fine posted at 9:01 am on January 5th.
On Christmas Eve, it’s just pathetic.
The company’s about cleaning services. It’s not about the timing of some rocket launch that has a narrow window or you’ll miss it until the next time the comet comes around on the guitar.
Remember: When you raise venture, you narrow your options. Rachel explains:

The purpose of life is not to raise venture capital. Not raising venture capital doesn’t make you a failure. And the purpose of venture capital is not to reward the clever or the good. It’s to (say it with me!) redeploy resources from a lower- to a higher-performing asset class.

Working in a Tech Startup isn’t a mission. It’s about being part of a higher-performing asset class no matter what else that costs you. Whether that “you” is a CEO or the engineer the CEO’s looking to hire.

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Merry Christmas!

24 December 2014

[![Cute cartoon Christmas reindeer ](/images/2014/12/deer_fly2_sm-700x700.jpg)](/images/2014/12/deer_fly2_sm.jpg)Illustration by [Anna Alekseeva](https://creativemarket.com/kostolom3ooo/16863-Merry-Christmas-illustrations).

Hope you and yours have the best day possible.

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2014: Year in Review

24 December 2014

2014-year-in-review
This post doesn’t link to every post I’ve written, but a significant selection of them.

  1. Wrote about my problematic relationship with Spanish. I started writing it before the great taxi driver incident where we couldn’t remember the word “fifteen” in Spanish, but I believe I posted it after.
  2. Easter Island pic. Easter Island, in case you ever need to know this, is five days of cruising westward from Valparaiso, Chile. Three of those days without Internet.
  3. Pitcairn Island pic. Pitcairn is three days west of Easter Island and one of the remotest places on Earth.
  4. Mo’orea pic. Mo’orea, in French Polynesia, is two days west of Pitcairn and very close (a few miles/kms) to Tahiti.
  5. Bora Bora pic. My favorite picture taken this year. Bora Bora’s about an hour’s flying time from Tahiti, and is a gobsmackingly beautiful descent at sunset. Rick saw it; I didn’t get to because I was seated on the wrong side of the plane.
  6. 2-1/2 Years of E-Book Sales Data, which I like to trot out every time someone asks about the reasons not to make their book exclusive at Amazon. I’ve softened a bit: periods of exclusivity are one thing, but exclusive there all the time just strikes me as punting on sales. See also: Sell to Where the Reader Reads (and Shops)
  7. Village Voice on Writers of the Future, where I discover I’d made the Village Voice a couple of years ago. I also reposted to my own blog a comment I’d left on someone else’s.
  8. Asking for What You Want: My Letter to Steve Jobs. Before I was hired at Apple, I wrote SJ asking for a job. While it didn’t get me the job per se, what it did get me was calls from recruiters. The job I did get turned out to be one I hadn’t applied for. So, it worked, after a fashion, just not immediately.
  9. Sochi: A Visit. We visited Sochi in 2013. At the time, I thought it was kind of a rush to see a city prepping for the Olympics instead of seeing long-past history (though there was some of that too. If Russia ever gets its LGBT act together, it’s actually quite a lovely place to visit.
  10. Rick’s favorite mongoose joke.
  11. I write about my shift in understanding about trans people and pronoun use. In which I come out publicly about my trans ex (still a good friend, and in fact, I worked for her brother at Apple).
  12. My senior year of high school and why I took Independent Study Table Tennis. For real.
  13. Pinboard WordPress theme icons for Instagram and iMDB. Pinboard’s a great free WordPress theme, and I consistently get several hits a day on this post offering up two more social media icons. It only just occurred to me a few days ago to maybe write the people who make the theme and offer up my changes to them. Doh.
  14. Two Lava photos I took in 2011 and 2012. Here’s two more from 2011.
  15. Four Hugo recommendations. Hey! Randall Munroe did finally win a Hugo! My work is done. Not in the category I proposed, but that’s okay by me. Note: this was for the Hugos that have already been awarded, btw.
  16. That Odd Moment. When you suddenly realize that you’re more likely to have been places that erupt into chaos than not. Contains pictures of Odessa, Ukraine.
  17. Random Photoshop Things I’ve Learned Recently. I learned how to composite several night sky photos into one cooler image. Among other things.
  18. Two Alhambra Photos. A friend was expressing envy that we’d be going to the Alhambra again, so these photos from 2011 were for her.
  19. My short rant about the erasure of indigenous languages from dictionary derivations. A longer rant from earlier in the year.
  20. Apple’s Treatment of Mobility-Impaired Employees. In which I detail some of the WTFery I had to put up with after getting a handicap placard.
  21. Norilana Books Again. This, along with a few other posts, sheds light onto the problems of Norilana books, which I first posted about in late 2013.
  22. How much time it takes to set up a new pseudonym from scratch. Including book cover. Assuming one has all the requisite skills, of course. Related: Building a Brand: Object Lessons.
  23. What I learned about myself by making a fan site for my favorite actor.
  24. After several decades, I finally get an accurate diagnosis (and medication) for my chronic pain.
  25. After I called them out, Box.com changed their “Working at Box” page to be more respectful of women. That page is even better now than it was in April. Initially, it was just a photo swap out, but the page has since been redesigned.
  26. Our heartbreaking road trip to Canada. Which, in the long run, turned out okay.
  27. “Traitor to the Mens” t-shirts I designed for John Scalzi.
  28. Programming Sucks and Why I Quit.
  29. A Letter to My Sister-in-Law Written for extended family (and no doubt painful to read for those not in the family), but I get significant Google hits on this every day.
  30. The Seventies: Getting into Programming. My experiences back in the day.
  31. Author Media Kits.
  32. Mockups, the power of 3D.
  33. Typecon, in which I discover another group of “my people.”
  34. Jay Lake, RIP.
  35. Welsh countryside photo I took in 2013. Rick and I went back to the exact same point this year.
  36. My First Science Fiction Convention. Or: How I met Mark Hamill before anyone really knew who he was.
  37. A frustrating conversation with Amazon support. I’m amazed I don’t still have a dent in my forehead.
  38. Marion Zimmer Bradley Gave Us New Perspectives, All Right. My snarky response to a Tor.com puff piece. After being challenged in the comments, I contacted MZB’s daughter, Moira, leading to Marion Zimmer Bradley: It’s Worse than I Knew. and other MZB-related blog posts. This led to pieces in The Guardian, The Washington Post, and Entertainment Weekly. Here’s the complete series of posts. Tough stuff.
  39. Kitten, Morocco, 2011. Because Kitten.
  40. Doing the Right Thing. Design, but a great reminder of why suckage occurs.
  41. Some Thoughts on the Missing Stair Analogy.
  42. My birthday lookback at favorite things from the past year.
  43. The Great Namaste, aka I helped set a Guinness World Record.
  44. Rejecting Bad Writing Advice.
  45. My ode to OVERWERK.
  46. Branding Done Right. Typecon rocked it on so many levels.
  47. All the Important Stuff. I’m deeply honored that Michael Hyatt gave me permission to use his saying for my poster. It’s one I heard when I attended the World Domination Summit.
  48. Falling Back in Love With One’s Own Book. A few tips to get back in the groove.
  49. Reading Audiobooks. How my usage of the verb “to read” changed after a conversation.
  50. Delia Derbyshire, Overlooked Musician and Composer. Amazing woman best known for her performance—and some of the composition—of the Dr. Who theme.
  51. How to Get to Helsinki from Pitcairn. Fun post for the 2017 Worldcon bid.
  52. Ellora’s Cave Author Exodus Support Thread. My Ellora’s Cave post series has been the second most popular on the blog this year. Book Reversion Game Theory & Consent is one of the popular posts as is Proving Substantial Truth.
  53. How I Became a Romance Reader.
  54. I’m on Writing Excuses!
  55. World Music Break: Tarkan.
  56. New Adult Romance: A Few Books. I need to write an update on this with more titles.
  57. My Day in Federal Court.
  58. My Favorite Indie Type Foundries. For all you type/font people.
  59. 100 Countries (and Territories). Made it!

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Twenty Years Ago Today: Scientology vs. the Internet

23 December 2014

scn-vs-the-internet-blog-header
Twenty years ago today, the battle of Scientology vs. the Internet leveled up with the anonymous posting of secret Scientology scriptures to the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology. Here’s what the Wikipedia page says:

On December 24, 1994, the first of a large number of anonymous messages was posted to alt.religion.scientology, containing the text of the “secret” writings of Scientology known as the OT Levels (OT stands for “Operating Thetan”).

There were five posts.
Large numbers of anonymous posts came months (and even years) later. The initial anon volley, however, was small.
As Wikipedia says:

Included among these postings was OT III (Operating Thetan Level Three), which gave L. Ron Hubbard’s description of the “Xenu story”.

Incorrect.
First, for those who don’t know the Xenu story, the tl;dr version is that due to overpopulation, Xenu ordered people brought in for an income tax audit, froze them, then brought them en masse to Earth where they were blown up in a volcano (Hawaii and Las Palmas, among others) with hydrogen bombs, sticking those spiritually frozen beings to others. And that, in order to be free, one has to audit all those beings stuck to you using Scientology’s expensive and confidential procedures.
In fact, a Class VIII course (which covers the materials of OT III) tape transcript had previously been posted non-anonymously to alt.religion.scientology by Dennis Erlich: tape 6810C03, titled Assists, that included information about Xemu. You can find a transcript linked from this page.
When Erlich posted the transcript, what did Scientology do?
Crickets.
That’s right. Nothing at all.
The first person to write anything publicly about Xenu was Robert Kaufman in his 1972 book, Inside Scientology: How I Joined Scientology and Became Superhuman. Links to the actual book: PDF and HTML

There were no offices available in which to discuss highly dangerous data, so we used a bathroom, Cramming perched on the edge of the tub, myself astride the throne.
“What don’t you understand about these instructions?” she asked.
“I can’t even begin to tell you. For one thing, it says, ‘First locate a body thetan.’ Now, how in hell do you locate a body thetan?”

Thetan, in Scientology parlance, means the spirit as distinct from the body and the mind. They don’t mean brain when they say mind. It’s more the spiritual mechanics of the thetan/body interface.
The space opera antics comprising OT III meant that normal people had been so traumatized, what with being shipped all the way over here and blown up, that they no longer were capable of running bodies on their own. Some of them banded together in clusters and others as individuals, and they basically hang around less messed-up beings—like you and me—and make up our body, not to mention numerous ailments.
In 1981, Richard Leiby of the Clearwater Sun became the first journalist to publish a piece describing OT III, including an excerpt from Hubbard’s writings. The article opens:

At the Fort Harrison Hotel in downtown Clearwater, Scientologists are learning to leave their bodies, control other people’s thoughts and communicate with plant life. They learn this by reliving a galactic holocaust carried out by space creatures millions of years ago.

(Note: insert here a Reader’s Digest article from 1981. See notes at bottom.)
A summary of OT III and the whole Xenu thing had previously been printed in the Los Angeles Times in 1985:

Documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times show that members of the Church of Scientology believe that mankind’s ills were caused by an evil ruler named Xemu who lived 75 million years ago.

Erlich’s posting wasn’t the first post about OT III or the widest audience. It was simply the first where part of the source materials had been made broadly available on the Internet.
I’ve always thought that Scientology’s embarrassed about the contents, because Scientology’s reaction after the LA Times piece was to deny that these were the materials of OT III. Hubbard was still alive at that point.
Nevertheless, OT III involved the introduction of the concept of “body thetans” in OT III—those pestiferous beings-who-are-not-you clogging up your space and misbehaving on your behalf.
OT III had been covered before, in print and on the internet, several times. It wasn’t new, and thus the CofS wouldn’t go crazy over its revelation. Hence, I hope I’ve debunked the idea that this was a part of 1994’s Christmas Eve “revelation.”

The Christmas Eve Docs

Each of the five Christmas Eve docs consisted of the confidential levels after the state of Clear is attained and after OT III.
These five documents were posted anonymously to alt.religion.scientology through a replay.com crypto remailer. What specifically was posted has been misreported, partly because the source postings have been vaporized from the ‘net.
Here’s the correct document list. They are all still on Wikileaks if you’d like to read them. Source is Dennis Ehrlich’s 1995 declaration.

  1. NED for OTs RD, Theory Of. (HCOB 15 September 1978 I, NOTs Series 1)
    NOTs, or “New Era Dianetics (NED) for Operating Thetans (OTs)” was introduced in 1978 as a special rundown. Eventually, the older OT IV, V, VI, and VII levels were canceled and replaced with various NOTs rundowns.
    This document is an introduction to the theory of NOTs. Until this was posted, the specific contents of NOTs had never been made public. One of the interesting quirks is that, for telepathy between body thetans, “there is a proximity factor.” Except thetans are supposed to exist outside of Matter, Energy, Space, and Time (aka the MEST universe). Anyhow, it talks about telepathy between BTs, how clusters of BTs work, how they create the person’s “thoughts,” how they affect memory, how they create illness, etc. For a single issue, it basically lays out what the post-1982 Scientology levels from OT IV through OT VII consist of: years of this stuff.
  2. The Sequence for Handling a Physical Condition. (HCOB 14 November 1978, NOTs series 34)
    This particular issue is of interest because Scientology often claims that of course Scientology doesn’t fix illness and that people should see their physicians, yada yada yada. As anyone who’s been in any period of time can tell you, that’s not the actual practice. Oh, sure, you can go to a doctor—after you go through the Medical Liaison Officer (if you’re staff) or Ethics (if you’re not). You may be threatened with a Purification Rundown if you take any drugs, including antibiotics. This particular issue gives the order of addressing physical illness.
  3. Notes on PTS. (HCOB 29 October 1978 III, NOTs Series 35)
    One of the fundamental theories of Scientology is that people can be a Potential Trouble Source (PTS) because they are under the thumb of a Suppressive Person (SP). This short issue talks about body thetans (the beings stuck to you) and how they can be PTS to successive persons and how you can get into trouble by mis-auditing these imaginary beings.
  4. Rockslams. (HCOB 22 September 1978 I, NOTs Series 36)
    Rockslams are an e-meter phenomenon, described thus:

    A Rock slam is a crazy, irregular, unequal, jerky motion of the needle, narrow as one inch or as wide as three inches happening several times a second. The needle ‘goes crazy’, slamming back and forth, narrowly, widely, over on the left, over on the right, in a mad war dance or as if it were frantically trying to escape. (EME, p. 17)

    LRH called it “the most important needle manifestation” (HCOB 10 August 1976, R/Ses, What They Mean), and went on to say:

    A rockslam means a hidden evil intention on the subject or question under discussion or auditing.

    So this particular NOTs document talks about auditing rockslams on body thetans. Because of course some of them have evil purposes. Scientology’s big on finding out secret evil things.

  5. Amends and Clarifies NED for OTs Series 27. (HCOB 31 January 1979, NOTs Series 43)
    This is a short and weirdly technical thing to post, but it addresses some of what was being discussed in ARS at the time. Namely, that in the lower levels of Scientology (before Clear), an auditor generally asks if the person is interested in running a specific process. This one, however, says:

    Step 4 of the NED for OTs Rundown (Series 27) is subdivided into 9 actions (4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E, 4F, 4G, 4H, 4I). The instruction to check interest only applies to Step 4F, (Repair of Past Auditing). All the other steps, (4A – 4E, 4F – 4I) are done without checking interest.
    The usual rules of not running anything that doesn’t read, and checking for false read or protest if the pc is not interested or protesty, apply to all steps.

    In Scientology, sometimes an auditor asks if a person is interested in “running” (addressing) a question. The e-meter “reading” (acting in a particular way) is assumed to indicate interest.
    The rest of the issue is about adding an additional step at the end of each category of items if there are any problems at that point.

NOTs Basic Theory, A Summary

To be clear, I don’t believe any of this. It’s just the theory.
Dianetics doesn’t work (well) on Clears or above because it asks for components of the reactive mind, which a Clear no longer has. However, a Clear still has body thetans, so when one tries to audit Dianetics questions on a Clear, the person comes up with answers from their body thetans or clusters (of body thetans) and can go into a tailspin. Because there are lots more body thetans, and they’re constantly chattering and complaining.
Further, NOTs theory says that body thetans copy bits of case from other body thetans, kind of the way bacteria exchange DNA with each other (and thus build up antibiotic resistance). Except in this case, it means that problems keep coming back. (Convenient, no?)
Most of these BTs are below the level of conscious awareness, and irritating them, well, “it does affect the body—severely.” (HCOB 15 September 1978 II, NOTs Series 2, Why You Can’t Run Engrams After Clear)
To someone who is an Operating Thetan, the body appears transparent. Anywhere it does not, well, that’s because of body thetans and clusters making it appear solid.
Well, that’s the theory.

Here’s What I Think

Scientology’s a long con with a lot of carnival hucksterism thrown in for good measure.
It’s never produced all of what Dianetics (the book, aka Book 1) promised a Clear was. In 1950. After years and years of spinning new auditing processes, in 1965, L. Ron Hubbard released the Clearing Course. Then after you’d done a boatload of different processes (like a pachinko machine), you finally got rid of enough bad stuff to get to Clear.
Except that you still weren’t a Clear by the Book 1 definition.
So there had to be theories about what was still going on—other than the processes hadn’t worked, of course!
I’m really not sure about what Hubbard did and did not believe of his own con. It’s revealed in the Epilogue of Lawrence Wright’s excellent book Going Clear that LRH pestered one of his underlings to rig an e-meter to kill Hubbard. (That didn’t happen.)
However, at some point, Hubbard realized that NOTs was a big level. Before NOTs, the levels OT IV-VII were a few weeks to a few months, at most. NOTs, however, people are commonly on for years. It became a huge cash cow for people who’d essentially topped out on all that Scientology had to offer, but still hadn’t solved their problems. The same is still true after NOTs, but at least Scientology has more money, right?
And when OT VII and, later, OT VIII weren’t enough to do placate people, the CofS saw to it that people were busted all the way back down to the start with the Purification rundown. Some people have done the whole thing, ground up, two or three times.
I can’t imagine.
One of the things that keeps people in line is the promise of future OT levels. Hubbard died in 1986, so I’m not exactly sure how long they’re going to draw this out before revealing what some upper-level ex-execs have said: there is nothing else.
It’s just one big mystery-in-a-circus-tent after another, and each level isn’t actually what was promised.
Scientology can’t make up its mind if it’s all about the quasi-gnostic concept of the material universe is crap or if the material universe is the real universe. Given that I heard over and over that thetans aren’t bound by matter, energy, space, and time, why should distance in the physical universe have anything to do with anything? Why must telepathic transmission depend on that?
It’s all crap.

Notes:

  1. Tony Ortega, who runs the Underground Bunker, a Scientology news site, gave me a heads up about the Kaufman book (which I’m surprised I’ve never read) and the Clearwater Sun article, as well as fact checked the next note. Since the Kaufman book isn’t available in EPUB or Kindle format, I’ll be converting it so it’s more readable on e-readers.
  2. Jim Lippard said he first read about OT III in Readers Digest. This article, written by Eugene M. Methvin, was published in October, 1981, is about other Scientology mythology, the Helatrobus implants.

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