I didn’t get a chance to publicly pontificate about Internet Archive while I was employed there. From March 2019 until very recently, I managed the Core Infrastructure team at Internet Archive.
I suppose I did take one notable opportunity to blog about it. I wrote a blog post for blog.archive.org titled “Two Thin Strands of Glass“, which was about the long outage we had due to a fiber cut. It happened the day before the manager of our operations team (and lead network engineer) Jonah Edwards and his spouse were planning to leave San Francisco for their new home address in Portland, Oregon. My role during the outage was to briefly be the remote hands at the colocation facility for our upstream connection the Internet the evening the site went out, and to reinforce the message Jonah was telling us: there is no situation so bad that a panicked response won’t make it worse. Thankfully, the team was really great at biding their time until the fiber repair was complete, and quickly restored service once the fiber connection was repaired.
I loved working with Internet Archive, and I wish the organization well. As a longtime Wikipedian, I’m looking forward to having better access to the books that show up in Wikipedia citations. The team that I managed (Internet Archive’s “Petabox” team) is an amazingly intelligent and capable group of people, and facilitated a lot of fantastic services (both directly, and indirectly though the larger staff). I learned a ton about how this scrappy non-profit provides such an important service to the world (over 50 Petabytes of storage!) with such a small budget.
A few weeks ago, I posted “Replacing the jungle primary“, where I outlined a couple of proposals that seemed like plausible replacements for California’s current “top-two” primary system. I assigned both proposals jargon-y names, but I only want to highlight one of them: “Majority Approval Filter (MAF)”. MAF is my preferred option, and has generated the most discussion. I’ve been refining this option over the past few weeks, and I want to discuss the new version with a wider audience.
I’ve been jealous of Fargo since I learned of that effort. In our primaries here in California, we use a jungle primary to narrow down the field of candidates to the top two in our primary election in June (or rather, our primary in March), and then choose between them in November.
I’ve been mulling over an idea for replacing California’s jungle primary with an approval-based primary. I think with the system I describe below, we can also replace our two-candidate general election with a approval-based system that occasionally offers a third choice, but I also offer an alternative that only replaces the jungle primary.
For years, I’ve wanted to have stable redistribution of this article, and a stable URL that I could refer to. There have been many URLs over the years to refer to this, but nothing too stable. Well, as of right now, there is a stable URL:
I don’t think either of us has convinced one another of anything, but still, that’s where we left things. I still think Oprah would be a perfectly acceptable choice by Democrats in 2020. Not my favorite choice, but still, a powerful strategic move. MikeMC still thinks its a terrible idea.
I’m offering this summary only because I have something vaguely related that I’d like to share, and I’d like to refer back to this discussion. I hope you enjoyed this summary.
Last year, in the early buildup to the election (January 2016), I posted an article on Daily Kos titled “What Donald Trump and Jimmy Carter have in common”. At that time, the Republicans hadn’t settled on Trump yet. Only a contrarian (like me) would suggest that Trump might not merely win the primary, but he might even be able to win the general election. That filled me with dread, but took comfort in the conventional wisdom of the day that Trump couldn’t win.
The comparison of Carter to Trump in 2016 still holds true today in 2017. Though that gave me dread in 2016, it gives me hope in 2017. Let’s revisit the topic, because the subsequent election of 1980 holds lessons about 2020 that feel less dreadful IF we learn from history.
Departed deity that was in charge in the receding party’s glory days 1976 : FDR (Democratic President: 1933–1945)
2016 : Reagan (Republican President: 1981–1989)
Party with receding wave 1976 : Democrats (New Deal)
2016 : Republicans (supply-side economics)
With Smarsh, it’s different. She grew up in Kansas, which is culturally/linguistically not much different from where I grew up (all over the U.S. west), where my mom grew up (midway between Omaha and Kansas City), and where much of my extended family still is (Kansas City area). As my mom would point out, modern newscasters (of the day) treated the Nebraska accent as a “neutral” accent — and many TV celebrities like Johnny Carson and David Letterman benefited from their upbringing in neutral accent territory.
It may be that my western upbringing is the reason why I don’t detect an appreciable accent, but others would. The only regional aspects of my younger accent that I’m aware of dropping is referring to carbonated beverage as “pop” (I say “soda” now) and treating “pen” and “pin” as homophones (not anymore). Given how minor the changes to my speech have been since moving to the west coast (living in either Seattle or San Francisco since 1993), I haven’t considered my accent to have changed much since I was young.
In the past few years, I’ve gotten more comfortable speaking warmly of my humble-ish upbringing. Further more, I’ve happily adopted “y’all” in spite of not growing up using the phrase. Some of my fondest memories of my dad were of his cowboy-culture way of talking, which wasn’t that different than the cattle cop highlighted on Planet Money a few years ago. Whenever something would splash all over the place, Dad frequently said it “splattered like a cow pissing on a rock”. He implored me to be more mindful by telling me to “get your head out of your ass”. He frequently claimed that many politicians were “crookeder than a dog’s hind leg”. I’ve carried some of his cowboy-isms forward, but I don’t have the same cowboy cred that he did. Plus, I’m prouder of the fact that I was occasionally able to beat Mom at Scrabble in her prime, and pretty sure that anyone reading this would have had about as tough of a time doing it as I did, no matter how much of a smartypants you think you are.
Listening to Smarsh talk about the assumptions that people seemed to make about her that she ascribed to her accent, it makes me wonder: am I deaf to her accent because of my similar upbringing? Do I have a “western” or “midwestern” accent that might have caused the kinds of discrimination they discuss in this show? Have I just been luckier than Smarsh, or am I just blind to being treated like I just fell off the turnip truck?