Pinned toot

The thing I would most hate to lose at this point from a Twitter implosion is this:

Can I tell you about Charles S L Baker? He was the founder of the Friction Heating Co, incorporated in 1904 and I've just learned of him today.

To give you an idea of how much more a billion is than a million:

A million minutes ago was April, 2021 โ€” a year into the COVID 19 pandemic.
A billion minutes ago it was November 121 CE โ€” the height of the Roman empire.

Billionaires. Shouldnโ€™t. Exist.

I am the Director of my own life.

But one of those first-time Directors where everyone on the set realizes he doesnโ€™t know what heโ€™s doing and start calling their agents to see if they can get out of this impending flop before it ruins their careers.

If you’re trying to find music that is engaging without being disruptive, music you can play during creative work that won’t take you out of your flow state, I highly recommend music in a language you don’t understand.

I stumbled on this album thanks to @cambraca earlier this week, and it turns out Korean shoegaze is exactly the genre I needed, and Parannoul is exactly the band to give it to me. I have no idea what they’re saying, because I refuse to click the links on the Bandcamp site to show me the English translation of the lyrics. The tone and energy of the music is all I want to know right now. I mean, the first song is called ์•„โ€‹๋ฆ„โ€‹๋‹คโ€‹์šด ์„ธ์ƒ, which I’m told means “Beautiful World.” That’s fine, that’s all the info I need.

It’s been my background music during work, my driving music, and I’ve sent this link to a few people already. Now I pass it along to all of you. Happy Friday! Spend your weekend enjoying this excellent Korean shoegaze album from 2021, and maybe next week I’ll check out one of the two albums they’ve put out since–or maybe not.

I canโ€™t stop thinking about something @pluralistic said to @adamconover in this one-minute video clip.

To paraphrase, optimism and pessimism are both rooted in fatalism, because they presume that nothing we do matters.

Instead we choose Hope. We do things to make life better at every opportunity, to move toward the world we Hope to see, and what we do matters whether it lines up with a big-picture plan or not. We move forward in Hope, and then we see new ways to move forward in Hope, and then we do it again and again.

What else can we do?

I interviewed Michelle Yeoh a few years ago about #StarTrekDiscovery and I mentioned offhand that I'd written an article about what seeing her use her accent on the bridge of a starship meant to me.

She stopped and said "Wait, that was YOU?"

And then proceeded to talk about how much that article had meant to HER and how it contributed to the success of the show.

I can't think about it without crying.

(The original article:

#MichelleYeoh #StarTrek #Oscars

Today is March 14th or 3/14 or 3-14 or 3.14 which means it's Pi Day!

So to all of you who celebrate, and everyone should be celebrating, HAPPY PI DAY!

#PiDay #MarchFourteenth #HappyPiDay

Wow, the 13th annual Pi Day video? That's so many!

At least some things stay constant...

or do they?

Ella Fitzgerald was barred from performing at the Mocambo club in the 1950s due to her race. Marilyn Monroe, a fan of Ella's music, intervened and promised to attend nightly if they booked Ella. The owner agreed, & Marilyn kept her promise. Ella's career skyrocketed.


Another Great Debate...
๐Ÿ’ ๐Ÿ’ ๐Ÿ’ ๐Ÿ’ ๐Ÿ’ ๐Ÿ’ ๐Ÿ’ ๐Ÿ’ ๐Ÿ’ ๐Ÿ’ 
Does mayonnaise belong on a hamburger?
๐Ÿ’ ๐Ÿ’ ๐Ÿ’ ๐Ÿ’ ๐Ÿ’ ๐Ÿ’ ๐Ÿ’ ๐Ÿ’ ๐Ÿ’ ๐Ÿ’ 

Please boost for more votes!

#foodie #food #mayo #hamburger #burger

new collective noun dropped: A Bailout of Libertarians

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I read an essay last week so bizarre I can’t even classify it as “wrong.” If I didn’t recognize the author, I would have thought it parody, but it had none of the hallmarks of good parody other than being consistently ridiculous. On a scale of right to wrong, it runs perpendicular to the scale. It is orthogonal to the concept of truth.

Most of all, it seems to have aged incredible poorly since it was published nine days ago.

Anyone who has read about the Luddites knows that they were right, so using them as an example of silly fears sets the wrong tone from the start. Claiming that outsourcing and automation were also examples of things people feared needlessly begins to build the foundation for something so bizarre and counter-factual it must be the result of a dare.

But all of that fades away to background noise when the author charts a collection of things that have gone up in price against things that have gone down in price and claims, absent evidence or reason, that the difference is government control. Average hourly wages rising since 2000? Government control! (Reality: the last federal minimum wage increase was in 2009) Housing prices? Government control! (Reality: a decrease in regulation led to the 2008 housing crisis) Food and beverages? Government control! (Reality: Huh? Is he mad about… food safety laws?)

Oh, how I wish for such government control as he imagines!

Meanwhile the price of ephemeral things like cellphone service and software are down, along with the sorts of things that are built via outsourcing and automation, like TVs and toys. And while toys and electronics are more regulated in the US than, say, food and beverages, or childcare and nursery school, somehow the color-coding says otherwise. Beware the government control boogeyman!

Anyway, I don’t know nor care whether AI is going to cause unemployment. I mean, sure, it clearly is going to replace some jobs while creating others, generally shifting still more options out of reach of a certain class of workers, so the comparison to outsourcing and automation is apt, but really, that’s not the point of the essay.

The point of the essay is to argue that government control is The Problemโ„ข, literally days before Silicon Valley Bank went under and had to be rescued by the government using government control of the banking industry. One of SVB’s biggest clients? The author of the essay. I guess he’s pretty glad of government control today!

It was bizarrely, weirdly Wrong with a capital W, T, and F the day he published it, and it has gotten even more Fd in the days since.

You would think the author would have better things to do than write such nonsense, like try to get some kind of return on the $400 million he invested into the recent purchase of Twitter with seemingly zero due diligence or common sense. But hey, he’s rich, and there are two different economies, apparently.

It doesn't matter if a refugee turns out to be Albert Einstein or Mo Farah.

Refugees are individually valuable because they are *people*, not because the country could potentially use their talents.

I don’t have well-polished arguments for anything related to the fediverse, but I have some impulses and instincts. They might be wrong, of course. But I see fears and concerns popping up that seem to be borne from some common fallacies, so I suspect those fears and concerns are not well-founded.

One example I keep seeing is resistance to large mastodon instances, that they’re antithetical to federation, that it is just re-inventing centralized social media to use them. We’d all be better off, some claim, with single-user instances! In this case, I get the concern about concentration of control, truly. Google seems to have damaged email as they’ve grown to more than a quarter of email use. That said, the nature of federation is complex, and it is not clear that very large instances are going to cause more problems than the fediverse already has. Which is not saying they won’t cause problems, just that avoiding them hasn’t helped avoid problems.

Already some of the largest servers around are blocked by a large number of smaller servers. For example, is the largest server currently, and it’s widely blocked. There are even a couple of well-known mastodon servers out there that make no attempt to federate with others whatsoever, for which most people are grateful. As I’ve posted before, some server admins are very, very quick to block and very, very unwilling to ever consider the possibility that they’ve misjudged a server. That’s their right! It’s frustrating to people aware of the issue, but has no known effect on people unaware of the issue, so that’s the system working as designed.

Let’s consider two hypothetical futures. One is a future in which the fediverse grows to more than 100 million active users, but no server has more than 200,000 active users, a number I picked as slightly higher than’s current active users. In this potential future, most people are on very small servers, even individual servers. There are at least a half-million servers, maybe millions. Each of them federates with… well, only with servers used by people someone follows, right? Which would make timelines seem desolate, since that’s the weakness of smaller servers. In fact, very smaller servers often rely on relays to deliver the wider fediverse, instead of having to rely solely on the follow list of a few users, or one. Of course, that puts quite a bit of load on the relay servers, making them somewhat expensive to operate, so I suspect there would be only a few very large relay servers, operated by larger organizations, and… wait a minute! Doesn’t this just shift the problem of control and concentration to the operators of relay servers? I think it does. What they choose to relay or not becomes near-synonymous with “what is mastodon,” and the fact that some smaller servers use smaller relays, or eschew relays altogether, won’t matter. Once the majority of servers uses relays, relays are the norm, and once one of those reliable and well-moderated relays grows to, say, 25% of servers, that’s the same position Google is in with email now. Call that scenario 1A.

The alternative scenario 1B might be that even with most of us on smaller servers, we don’t use relays. Instead, every server relies solely on federation with other servers. Of course, since popular users are spread around many different servers, that means each smaller server federates with a long list of popular servers, which eventually results in articles written in breathless tones about how mastodon has finally eclipsed pirated and adult content in terms of bandwidth, because now there are thousands of copies of all popular posts and images and videos, tens of thousands! The scaling issue and administration work involved would be incredibly limiting, with an obvious solution at hand: relay servers. Now we’re back to scenario 1A again, and back to similar issues to what we face today, with some relay servers attempting to provide every possible post from every possible server, while others are essentially opt-in and very focused, with a variety of relay servers in between the two extremes.

There’s another future, though! The future that some are afraid of is that companies like Medium and Mozilla and worse come along and build up gigantic servers. That more than 100 million active users means not 5 million servers, but 50,000 at most, with more than 10 million users each at a few of the biggest servers. To support more than 10 million users takes a lot of resources, so only large companies can afford that, and now, in scenario 2, we have most users using one of Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Medium, and Mozilla. Together they support more than half of the 100 million active fediverse users, giving them outsize control over the fediverse. What they say goes. It’s a disaster, right?

I think to answer that question, it might server to explain what’s wrong with Google’s outsized impact on email. It has definitely made some things easier! For example, a gmail address is so common that “” is an option on some kiosks. I don’t have to repeat or spell out anything after the at sign with a gmail address. People know what I mean. Google keeps most spam at bay, although the junk mail that sneaks through ebbs and flows, despite Google’s extensive efforts. They deliver a decent service that most people don’t have to think about, and they do it at no out-of-pocket cost to most users. Of course, there are downsides. If Google decides your mail server doesn’t take spam seriously in exactly they way they do, no more and no less, they may decide not to deliver your email to any gmail user. You’re a peer, but not really a peer, since Google is so much larger. If Google decides they don’t like you as a user, you’re hosed. You lose access to everything, not just your email, and there is basically no recourse or appeal. You do have alternatives, of course. You can start over with a or address, for example. Or you can upgrade to or take a step sideways with But it’s not pretty, and the more services they bundle together, and the more users they have, the uglier it gets.

So if Google’s hypothetical future mastodon server decides your server doesn’t do something in exactly the way they want, no more and no less, they may silence or block your server, so your posts don’t reach any “” user. If Google decides they don’t like you as a user, on either this or any other service they offer, you are very thoroughly hosed. You lose access to everything, email and mastodon included, without recourse or appeal. It’s really ugly.


But you do still have alternatives. If your favorite mastodon server focused on artists blocks the Google mastodon server, and they definitely would, you can create an account directly with that favorite mastodon server focused on artists, or any other non-Google mastodon server they don’t block. You can switch every time they block a server you’re on, and they do love to block servers.

This is how the fediverse is unlike single companies such as twitter, or facebook, or even spoutible. Even large servers aren’t re-inventing centralized social media, not as long as federation still exists. If the owner of twitter decides you don’t belong on twitter, that’s it. The same is true of facebook or spoutible. Some might be more or less likely to kick you off, but once you’re kicked off, that’s it. In contrast, there is no owner of the fediverse, nor of mastodon. If the primary developer of mastodon decides you don’t belong on the server he controls, then you’re kicked off of But you have currently tens of thousands of other options, and you can spin up a new one just for yourself at any of a number of hosting companies for around $6 or โ‚ฌ5 per month. I could even install one on the NAS in my house, and might eventually. That will still be true even if the server you’re kicked off of serves more than 20% of the entire fediverse. That still leaves another nearly 80% for you, which is 80% more than you have with a centralized option.

I fear less a future in which big companies operate big fediverse servers, and more a future in which mastodon growth is limited by scaling issues with network bandwidth (in the case of too many servers trying to federate) or human bandwidth (because server moderation is a thankless job, and currently largely unpaid), or both.

Bring on the big players. I will probably stick with smaller servers that federate with the big players. The good news is that you have a choice! If you hate the very idea of the fediverse being for everyone, and want it to stop growing already, you can easily block any new servers that come online and start to grow. You can use your server-wide blocklist to maintain a tiny little bubble not much larger than those of gab or the server associated with the insurrectionist former POTUS. You can make your view of the fediverse as small as you want it to be, but you can’t stop others from making it ever-larger. It’s a great wide world out there, and I’m looking forward to seeing it.

I observe without additional comment that my two most-downvoted recent comments on Hacker News are first, a suggestion that a commenters complaint about Tik-Tok showing him underage girls is related to a common desire to idealize youth but avoid illegal or troublesome activity, and second, a statement that kindness never goes out of style.

Anyone keeping track of the puzzle-solving adventures at my house, I did eventually finish all 2000 pieces.

I think Google’s current behavior is finally enough for me to commit fully to the @fastmail account I’ve been using for years now. I’ve been using @DuckDuckGo for years as well, and everything sent to my gmail address ends up in my Fastmail account, but email still goes through their servers first, because that’s the address I give people to reach me.

The thing that’s hard to give up is Google Docs. Buying Writely and XL2Web, then extending both products, they seem to be far and away above all competition in the space. But my loathing for Google keeps growing, maybe I’ll accept less to avoid them completely.

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