There and Back Again: RPGing Life

There and Back Again: RPGing Life

On 29 July 2015 I flew away for what felt like a year and day, even though it was for only 3 weeks. I flew away from St Louis to Los Angeles and on to Honolulu, and each bit of this trip seemed a bit more surreal than the previous (and that says a lot, given that it felt like make believe from the very moment I left my house.) The day I left was one of those days when Twitter reflects some dystopian fiction made way too real. Looking at my Twitter feed, I saw folks struggling in St Louis, trying to figure out how to keep summer food programs going in the face of threats of violence. Looking at my Twitter feed, I saw Trump rising in popularity in a political field filled with prejudice. Looking at my Twitter feed, I saw trolls dancing merrily on the Hugos, and...

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Setting up a quick and dirty EC2 LAMP stack

Setting up a quick and dirty EC2 LAMP stack

Ok, sometimes you just need a tiny computer to sit there and do something undisturbed where no one is going to turn it off. The problem I have at the moment is I’m traveling so my laptop is on again off again, so it can’t be trusted to have nice things processes. While I could ssh into my work computer, the building I work on is under-construction, so the power is not to be trusted. My home computer can not be gotten to from here… so, there is an app EC2 node for that. I just launched a happy little EC2 micro instance using the default Ubuntu AMI. I’m about to turn it into a LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) and then use it to do so very slow data mining of twitter. Amazon has some pretty good documentation to get you started. Once I...

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Doing more with #scicomm

Doing more with #scicomm

Sometimes a confluence of events puts you in a position to think through how you can make what you do more meaningful. For me that confluence of events came last week when I sat down to prepare my presentation for the MAVEN New Media Workshop. I was slated to discuss “Doing Science Out Loud,” and as I opened Keynote in a window wedged beside a Twitter feed that twisted with far too many shame spirals toward hate, I realized that in articulating “Doing Science Out Loud” I needed to stress the importance of acknowledging the humans behind science. It isn’t enough to talk facts and figures. We need to talk jobs, dreams, and sometimes tears. My audience at that talk was filled with awesome humans, but it was a small gathering, and in...

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“What you don’t know would make a great book.”

“What you don’t know would make a great book.”

Over the past few weeks, several stories have hit the news that the average, mainstream/majority person has often struggled to fully understand and to discuss with sensitivity. Topics range from the mishandled coverage of Caitlyn Jenner’s eloquent coming out in Vogue, to bungled discussions of Rachel Dolezal’s behavior that horrifically convolve (among other things) acts of racism, white privilege, and injection of a not officially defined trans-racial mental illness.  Over and over in the social media discussions on these topics I’ve seen a consistent plea, “Go find someone in these communities and talk to them.” Yes, do this. But also, remember (especially relevant for introverts) the words of 18th century humorist Sydney Smith,...

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The problem with “Unbelievable”

The problem with “Unbelievable”

Lately, I’ve heard a lot of people say, “Did you see? Isn’t that so unbelievable?” These words have usually been uttered in reference to media coverage of authority figures acting in sexist, bigoted, racist, or otherwise intolerant or amoral ways. Basically, when members of the establishment fuck up, people want to label it as unbelievable. But, unfortunately, these things are really the norm. The last time someone said this to me (in reference to the horrible Dear Alice column discussed here), it was a senior white male I like and respect and learn from and trust, and I finally said what I’ve been thinking every time I hear those words. I said, “No, actually, it’s not unbelievable. It’s kind of normal. I’ve...

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