Table of Contents

1 REVIEWING Publicity Isn't Always Good   @essay

Among a few of my associates who are also involved in the Iranian election aftermath, there has been some debate about whether or not we should be more open with our methods and information. Whenever it's mentioned, most people shoot the idea down immediately. After all, there's a lot of risks that go with showing who you are and what you do:

You put your tools at risk, since they may be subjected to a lot more scrutiny than they are now. So far we've been lucky enough to have a lot of our vital operations go unnoticed, so they've been able to live a lot longer than I thought they would. You put your clients at risk, since the tools they're using are now under harsher examination, and therefore their traffic might be tracked. You put other people making tools at risk, since their tools may get detected when yours are, or in the hunt for yours You put yourself at risk. Already there's been a fair amount of death threats going around to people who are helping the Iranian dissidents stay online. I'd much rather avoid some spotlight if it meant avoiding harassment

That said, there's also some good things about publicity:

Adoption. If your tool is written about frequently, you're going to have a much easier time getting it used inside Iran, most likely. However, this also means you're going to be a lot more well known to the Iranian government, which, as stated above, is a Bad Thing. Funding. No one wants to give money to someone if they don't know what it's going to. Well, almost no one. As Thursday and Friday showed, some people are willing to put aside disclosure, favoring trust to know where money is going. The plan is to, when Iran is over, get back to the people who have donated without being able to see to what, and get them a rundown of where their money went. Acknowledgement. As silly as it sounds, people do want to be acknowledged for the work they're doing. Being unable to discuss what you're working on on your blog, with your friends, and so on, isn't that fun. You see no direct benefit of the work, you just get reassured that it is being helpful.

1.1 Editorial Information

1.1.1 Change Log

  1. <2009-07-18 Sat>: Created as a Tumblr post
  2. <2018-11-05 Mon>: Added to Personal Record

2 Robert Mueller's Life and Career   @essay

> Disclaimer: Mueller was technically at the top of my chain-of-command for a brief period in 2011, though I was unaware of that when writing this.

Who Robert Mueller is will be a frequent discussion here soon. Here's a summary of his life & career, so you can sound smart in conversation. It may also persuade you against believing rumors that he has a "bad man" who wants to "destroy America."

He was born in 1944 in Manhattan but was raised outside Philidelphia. He was an athlete in high school, and after his grauation, he went to Princeton, where he earned an A.B. degree in Politics. In 1968, Mueller volunteered for the Marines, influenced by the death of a friend with whom he'd played lacrosse while at Princeton.

After enlistment, he attended officer training at Parris Island, as well as the Army Ranger and Army Jump schools. He served as a platoon commander in Vietnam, where he was shot in the thigh, but later returned to active duty. During his service, he earned a Bronze Star (w/ Combat V), Purple Heart, commendations from both the Navy and Marines, and the Gallantry Cross from the Republic of Vietnam.

When he returned to the United States, he attended Virginia Law School and earned a law degree. Afterward, he spent three years as an attorney in San Fransisco, before moving to the US Attorney's Office for Northern California. He was promoted to the chief of their criminal division before moving to Boston, to work as the Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.

After a stint there, he left to work as partner at a private legal firm, before joining the US Department of Justice to serve as assistant to the Attorney General and acting deputy Attorney General.

While working as the acting deputy Attorney General, Mueller oversaw the prosecutions of Manuel Noriega, the Lockerbie bombing, and John Gotti.

I'm skipping past the years of all this to keep this short, but everything from his graduation from Virginia to the prosecution of John Gotti was between 1976 and 1993.

After that, he moved back to the private sector, where he was again a partner at a firm in Boston, this time specializing in white-collar crime litigation. After a couple years, he returned to work as the senior homicide litigator for D.C.'s US Attorney's Office.

In '98, Mueller was appointed US Attorney for Northern California, where he worked until 2001, when George W. Bush nominated him for the position of FBI director. He was unanimously confirmed, and officially became the Director of the FBI on September 4th, 2001 - just before 9/11.

While serving as FBI Director, Mueller led the effort to curb domestic wiretapping, removed the FBI from participating in the CIA's enhanced interrogations, and more generally, but still worth noting, led the FBI through the years after 9/11, when we were forced to collectively ask a lot of questions about our intelligence community for the first time.

Mueller served as FBI Director for 12 years, a term long enough that it required explicit Senate Approval. In 2013, he was replaced by James Comey, and since that time has been teaching, speaking, and consulting… until he was asked to move back from the private sector, to help investigate our past presidential election.

Mueller played sports in high school. He volunteered to fight in Vietnam after a friend died. He's served in the public office for years but has also shown a keen interest in the private sector. But most importantly, he has around three decades of experience investigating white-collar crime, and despite having worked for employers from many parts of the political spectrum - and outside of politics entirely - has never been accused of any impropriety or bias.

2.1 Editorial Log

2.1.1 Change Log

  1. <2017-12-15 Fri>: Created as a Facebook post
  2. <2018-11-05 Mon>: Added to Personal Record

3 REVIEWING New Sam Jones House, The   @essay

Back in August, I moved into what was formerly Dr. Poplar's, and started calling it the Sam Jones House, after the property I lived at last summer.

The original Sam Jones House was intended to be an escape for musicians and other artists; it was where a lot of the conceptual meetings for Three Corners Collective happened. Unfortunately, I was involved in an accident which left me unable to properly maintain the space, plus my wheelchair wouldn't have fit in the bathroom. <_<

Annnyway, I'm again back in a house which I'd like to turn into Sam Jones House, 2!

It's much closer to town, slightly larger, and oh yeah, has its own recording studio, courtesy of Saman Khoujinian. Recording studio… oh yeah! We're also able to offer rehearsal space, and hushed tones maybe more musical services in the future.

Outside of the music stuff, I want to encourage artists of all mediums to get involved. There were be outdoor sculpture areas available, as well as wall-space for all you 2D sorts.

Beyond the arts, there's enough outdoor space here that I'm going to be able to clear more land than I'll be able to use. And that means a community garden! Details will be coming this spring, but already this fall my housemate and I have been establishing a hot compost pile, and I've been dipping my hand into vermiculture (composting w/ worms, which means I got'cher live bait, fisherfolk friends.)

For fans of the old Sam Jones, I'm again going to be producing yoghurt (the h means it's local & organic & crap), water kefir, beer, seasonal wines, a lot of pesto (hit me up if you're interested I've got a surplus ATM). New products this fall are various sprouts (bean sprout mixes for stir-frying and cooking, and salad sprouts for salads, and apparently sandwiches?!)), and red wiggler worms (very low supply in north carolina, and fish love 'em, google it).

This status is just to sum up what's happening here now. Expect some more posts to highlight what we're planning for the winter & spring.

3.1 Editorial Information

3.1.1 Change Log

  1. <2015-09-05 Sat>: Created as a Facebook post
  2. <2018-11-05 Mon>: Added to Personal Record

4 REVIEWING Unpaid Internships Are Bad   @essay

In a chat, I wrote up this explanation of why unpaid internships matter, even if both the employer and intern agree with the terms of the internship. tl;dr: the intern (and literally everyone except the internholder) loses.

Okay so let's say you're booking a wedding photographer. You interview 4, and all of them will produce an identical product, and all cost $100, except one, which is $50. So then you hire that one, because duh.

This happens to the three $100 photographs (Abe, Ben, and Chris) several times, so eventually, they start working harder, and drop their prices down. Now, there's Abe, Ben, and Chris charging $80 for photos which are slightly better than Darlene's $50 shots.

A, B, and C are now getting some amount of business, but still, Darlene rakes in most of the business. So they drop their prices even more - as much as they can and still get by - $75.

Now, it's been a year, and Abe, Ben, and Chris are all getting by, not well but y'know, they're doing what they love. Darlene suddenly closes up shop! Turns out, she'd been using an unpaid intern for the past season, and now that the internship is over, she can't afford to keep open. But, she made a decent profit, so is able to start a new firm. Maybe she'll do in-studio portraiture this season?

You see, Darlene had herself and an intern at every shoot, but pocketed the $50 all herself. Abe and Ben and Chris all had a second hand as well, a necessity for their quality of work. But because their secondhand was paid, AB&C each got $37.50 - 25% less than Darlene, for each client!

Now, sure, Darlene is gone, but clients are used to the new $75 rate. Chris bumps his up to $80, just to see, and he does alright - but because all the competitors are price matched (due to having to reach the lowest possible price to compete with Darlene,) he goes back down to $75.

So now, where once everyone was earning $50, they earn $37.50. And Darlene? She only walked away with as much as everyone else was before her - she didn't earn any extra income over had she just priced herself fairly and compensated her labor.

But nope, the market is broken, and the only methods for fixing it are illegal (price fixing through cartels,) so the cost of labor is now just lower than it was.

And what about the intern? They got all the knowledge necessary to get a job as a secondhand, and so start going out and applying for positions. Only, for some reason, wages for secondhands are now only $37.50, instead of $50? Why, that's significantly less than it was when she got into the field!

Over time, the lower value on income would result in lower supply (fewer new photographers because fuck that pay), which would enable the cost to rise again.

A single participant being willing to undervalue themselves has catastrophic and lasting effects on the entire market, which cascade out to every relevant industry. That's why the Department of Labor, and most economists, take such a skeptical, and on the surface, perhaps unfair, stance toward internships.

4.1 Editorial Information

4.1.1 Change Log

  1. <2016-01-21 Thu>: Created as a private chat message
  2. <2018-11-05 Mon>: Added to Personal Record

5 REVIEWING Was Neda Christian?   @essay

I've recently been asked by a lot of people, privately, if I think Neda was Muslim or Christian. Some showed me a picture of Neda, wearing a necklace that looked like a cross. (I'd link it, but I don't have it offhand.) After being asked around 10 times and saying "I'm not sure" or something to that effect, I figured I should go ask some Iranians for their take on things.

The response was unanimous: "Who cares?"

Not a single person I asked cared whether or not Neda was a Christian or Muslim*. They generally all were of the opinion that her death, and the protests, were not about religion. They were about the people, and the peoples' rights. Religion, though important in Iran, is not the defining feature of these protests. All Iranians want to be have their voices heard. They don't want to have the voices of the Muslims heard, they don't want to have the voices of the Christians heard. They want the voices of the people heard.

So was Neda a Christian? Maybe? Does it matter? Not at all.

  • Note that in Iran, Christian is sometimes used to refer to anyone who isn't Muslim or Jewish, such as atheists.

5.1 Editorial Information

5.1.1 Change Log

  1. <2009-07-19 Sun>: Created as a Tumblr post
  2. <2018-11-05 Mon>: Added to Personal Record

6 REVIEWING Prediction about Zuckerberg's Testimony   @essay

Zuckerberg & Congress are putting on a show to justify setting up regulation which will strengthen the connection between our state, data carriers, and data service providers.

The result of these hearings will be the establishment of new regulation, that will build on the framework our government has been building for the past decade, to formalize an Internet hegemony where service providers share data with data carriers, who in turn share it with the government.

Alternative service providers will be unable to meet the burden of these new regulations, as demonstrated already with the shutdown of services in response to the passage of SESTA/FOSTA.

We will see a further enclosure of our personal data into centralized siloes, with the justification that it is necessary for our privacy, while we continue to progress into a future where data is one of the principle elements of commerce.

Rentseeking has been an issue (or feature) of society through history. Now it has become an enshrined & codefied part of the Internet: we need everyone to be a perpetual customer.

This post isn't a call to action, or presenting any alternatives. This is a PSA: This is the Internet now; the regulations are in place & the economic wheels have been greased.

6.1 Editorial Information

6.1.1 Change Log

  1. <2018-04-11 Wed>: Wrote as a Facebook post
  2. <2018-11-05 Mon>: Added to Personal Record

7 REVIEWING Why emsenn is Lowercase   @essay

When I was 12 I joined a server where everyone's name was their first initial and the first four letters of their last name. So my username was "msenn."

After a while we migrated systems and the rule was relaxed, and many original members changed their names to be more phonetic - I added an e to the start of mine, to become "emsenn."

Because my name originated as a username, I always write it in lowercase: a nod to my "heritage."

(And yes, everyone calls me emsenn, even in real life.)/

7.1 Editorial Information

7.1.1 Change Log

  1. <2018-11-05 Mon>: Added to Personal Record

8 REVIEWING To Be Successful as an Independent Musician, Work a Lot   @essay

I write about a lot of musicians for my work and I've never been able to help but analogize it to the musicians I've known in my own life working in the music scene here in the Triangle.

Very frequently I can see the parallels between the opening days of a now-famous musician's career and those of my friends (and, more truthfully, my former friends.)

This has given me a pretty keen insight into where exactly these successful artists diverge from our contemporaries who have, let's say, failed to find similar success.

And to be reductionist, though not to the point of uselessness, the difference between the people whose albums have hit the Billboard charts and those whose albums sit and gather dust next to the checkout at your favorite cafe?

Manhours. Whether it's work done by the artist themselves or the community the artist built around themselves, the defining element, the continuity between those who find success can be boiled down to how much work they put into it.

It isn't whether or not your music is innovative, technically proficient, or culturally insightful. Those things help, but only if you've otherwise invested the labour into creating and curating your art.

And I don't mean "work" as in hours spent practicing or time in the studio but "work" in the pure business sense of it. Collecting potential clients and leads. Building marketing materials. Those things which you've viewed as secondary and tertiary to successful art? You're wrong - they're at the heart of it.

The story is frequently the same: A musician creates a song, or album, what have you. Then either they or someone who finds them puts the work into cultivating their art into a product. That's the use of getting discovered - not suddenly having some patron who can cut you a check for that week's groceries but having someone who can help (or help finance) the creation of a business around your art.

Notions of artistic integrity often sabotage that approach, though. In an effort to maintain some notion of "purity," artists cripple themselves out of the gate, ultimately limiting and removing any sense of control they might have had over their art had they been willing to "sell out."

Which is a shame; art shouldn't need to be created as a necessity for your survival but as a consequence of your life.

And if you're going to try and turn your life into art, and make a profit off that art, please, for the love of god, understand that you're an entrepreneur and businessperson at heart even if you don't feel like one. So expect to be required to invest as much time in your product as any other small-business owner - or paying someone else to invest their time for you.

8.1 Editorial Information

8.1.1 Change Log

  1. <2015-11-05 Thu>: Created as a Facebook post
  2. <2018-11-05 Mon>: Added to Personal Record

Created: 2019-04-29 Mon 00:39