Cogito, Ergo Sumana

picture of Sumana's head

Sumana Harihareswara's journal

: Compassion Heist: I just devoured All the Young Men, a memoir by Ruth Coker Burks with Kevin Carr O'Leary. In just a few years, in 1980s and 1990s Hot Springs, Arkansas, a young single mother became the hub of a mutual aid network to help gay men dying of AIDS. You may have read a 2015 article in the Arkansas Times about her work.

In 1986, 26-year old Ruth visits a friend at the hospital when she notices that the door to one of the hospital rooms is painted red. She witnesses nurses drawing straws to see who would tend to the patient inside, all of them reluctant to enter the room. Out of impulse, Ruth herself enters the quarantined space and immediately begins to care for the young man who cries for his mother in the last moments of his life. Before she can even process what she's done, word spreads in the community that Ruth is the only person willing to help these young men afflicted by AIDS, and is called upon to nurse them.

That bit in the middle of Huckleberry Finn, where Huck tears up the letter. You know?

As she forges deep friendships with the men she helps, she works tirelessly to find them housing and jobs, even searching for funeral homes willing to take their bodies -- often in the middle of the night. She cooks meals for tens of people out of discarded food found in the dumpsters behind supermarkets, stores rare medications for her most urgent patients, teaches sex ed to drag queens after hours at secret bars, and becomes a beacon of hope to an otherwise spurned group of ailing gay men on the fringes of a deeply conservative state.

Throughout the years, Ruth defies local pastors and nurses to help the men she cares for: Paul and Billy, Angel, Chip, Todd and Luke.

This book is of course a moving story about love and care. But also it's -- as Leonard put it -- a compassion heist.

When her work with AIDS patients started, Burks was selling time-share vacation homes. And she brought that same persuasiveness, resourcefulness, and stubbornness to her volunteer work. No one willing to draw blood for tests? She learned to do it, and literally came through the back door into the government health department to drop it off for anonymous testing. She weaponized her straight-white-Southern-lady privilege whenever necessary and possible to get her guys treated fairly by landlords, doctors, and bureaucrats.

And after the federal government finally started funding work, Burks started getting pushed out. Agencies wouldn't hire her because she didn't have a college degree, and of course out of sexist discrimination as well.

I'm a little bit used to the story of scrappy activists raising money with drag shows and concerts and bake sales -- the exemplary depiction may be the film Pride, and if you haven't seen it, you're in for a treat. But the next act of the story, where institutional funders start to show up but bypass the folks on the ground -- if there are movies about that I'd like to know.

Most of All The Young Men isn't about that. It's about carework, love, witty retorts, raising a daughter with a found family of drag queens as her uncles, battling stigma and prejudice, and Burks calling on her huge network of neighbors and friends to get things done. Recommended.

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: New Free Ebook Sampler from "Getting Unstuck: Advice for Open Source Projects": I've written and released a sampler from my upcoming book on rejuvenating open source projects: Getting Unstuck: Advice for Open Source Projects. It's like a lengthy trailer in text form.

You can get this 38-page ebook for free when you subscribe to Changeset Consulting's email newsletter (1-10 updates per year).

Getting Unstuck sampler cover

Who this book is for and what you should get out of it:

You are about to get an open source project unstuck.

Maybe a bunch of work is piling up in the repository and users are getting worried, waiting for a release. Maybe developers have gotten bogged down, trying to finish a big rewrite while maintaining the stable release. Maybe the project's suffering for lack of infrastructure — testing, money, an institutional home.

You noticed the problem. So that means it's up to you to fix it. Or you're getting paid to fix it, even though you didn't start this thing.

A while ago I blurted out the phrase "dammit-driven leadership." Because sometimes you look around, and you realize something needs doing, and you're the only one who really gets why, so you say, "Dammit, okay, I'll do it, then."

After reading this book, you should be prepared to:

  1. Assess a legacy project to decide whether you should get involved.
  2. Settle into a legacy project and become a competent and credible contributor.
  3. Take charge of a legacy project on a project, people, and financial level.
  4. Execute transformative change in a legacy project.
  5. Make a legacy project more sustainable, and pass leadership on to someone else.

This sampler is a free 38-page ebook (PDF, ePub, and MOBI available) that includes:

  • Introduction (including my controversial? "Basic assumptions about open source and the tech industries")
  • Conducting a SWOT analysis (assessing a project's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, with example analysis of the pip project)
  • How to start thinking about budgets and money (including two exercises)
  • Teaching and including unskilled volunteers (with twelve specific tactics)
  • An outline of the full forthcoming book

Thanks to Julia Rios for paid services editing and producing this book, including the cover! Julia is a Hugo Award-winning editor as well as a writer, narrator, and podcaster, and is available for freelance work!

A special note for my blog readers: I'm keenly interested in your feedback once you read the sampler. Have you solved any of these problems in a different way? Would a different structure, for each chapter or for the book, help you better? Did any of my examples or phrasings particularly ring true? Are there things I've written that you have found useful and that you hope I will incorporate into this book? Email me with "Unstuck" in the subject line.

Next: In 2021 I'm looking forward to finishing this book and either self-publishing or working with a publisher. And I will likely bring this sampler from behind the subscribewall once I produce a new edition of it that can have a "the full book is coming on [date] from [publisher]!" line. In order to do that, I need to finish the book proposal, submit it to publishers, and get cracking on the rest of the book.

Get the sampler for free when you subscribe to Changeset's email newsletter (1-10 updates per year).

: Graduating From The I-Didn't-Graduate Dream: I used to have dreams that, oh no, I didn't actually finish high school and need to go back and finish a class or exam. I hear this is pretty common.

I thought I'd graduated from college with a bachelor's, found out I'd actually made an administrative mistake that meant I needed to take one more summer class, and took my diploma home and tacked it onto my wall near my bed. I have not had "oh no I didn't really graduate from college" dreams; I figure this is because the memory of actually going through that incident and its aftermath cemented into my head that I really do have the degree. (However, when I recently got a fundraising email with a subject line like "A Message From The Chair of the Political Science Department at UC Berkeley," my reflexive reaction was "oh no they're taking my degree back!" So I suppose I still have issues, just differently configured.)

Then I got my master's degree a few years later. By then I was an adult, and school only took up part of my time (it was a nights-and-weekends program); I figure that's why less anxiety has clung to those memories, and thus why I don't think I've ever dreamed that "oh no, I didn't actually finish and need to go back."

This is all preface. My brain still scrabbles to provide me with anxiety dreams involving having to do more school, but with a twist. Like: some time ago, I dreamed that I had made some commitment to go through high school AGAIN, for the sake of some kind of experiment or similar, and was gritting my teeth and doing it all over again. I didn't want to, and I knew I already had postsecondary credentials, but still!

Or last night, when my dream included -- all mushed up with other stuff, like losing my cell phone (one that I last used in like 2016), trying to get a membership at a zoo using a coupon that wasn't cutting the price as much as I'd been told, seeing Jay Blades from The Repair Shop in an outdoors production of Hamilton while crossing a small river on a boat that was falling apart -- me fretting over whether to complete my second bachelor's degree. Dream Sumana knew that she already had a bachelor's and a master's, yet had at some point nearly completed a second bachelor's in some other major and at some other college. But not completely! So I was trying to figure out: should I finish those last few classes to get that second bachelor's? I don't need it at all! And yet I was nearly done with it, why quit when I was nearly done?!

I woke up and talked about this one with Leonard, and with my mom when I called her. Often my dreams are ways of processing things I'm dealing with. What was this new twist on the "need to finish school" dream doing? Maybe a few things.

It's about the frustration of being "nearly done," as I am with a few work projects, and as so many of us are with the pandemic. We hope.

It's about the frustration with wasting something that I have put a lot of work into, in opposition to the danger of the sunk cost fallacy. Which is something that comes up for me fairly frequently, though I don't often articulate it.

It's about the aspects of college life I do miss: narrower concerns, a time mostly before the September 11th attacks (which happened my senior year), frequently seeing and chatting with lots of friends and acquaintances. And it's about the unrequitable desire to do those four years over again, better, with the wisdom I have now about who I am and what I need. I feel that desire especially keenly when I've been admiring people younger than me who are accomplishing great things, which is only going to happen more and more as I age. The way I can counter it, when I have my head on properly, is to be grateful for and proud of where I am now and what I've done and what I'm doing, and the people I've snagged into my life along the way.

It's about a longing for a more structured endeavor with clear, externally-set win conditions. Right now I run my own business within a new market category that I am defining, I am writing a book and I am deciding how and with whom I will publish it, and the end of 2020 is coming up soon and no one but me can define whether I have used this year well. Sure would be a relief if someone else could authoritatively tell me whether I'd succeeded. But perhaps maturity is accepting that you are the only person who gets to decide that.

And perhaps this is a transitional stage towards my brain finally taking "but you still need to do more school" out of rotation on what Leonard calls my "golden oldies" of anxiety dreams. Turn the dial to something new.

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: Two Upcoming Sumana-Talks-At-You Events: Most urgently: You have just over 24 hours to back the Mermaids Monthly project on Kickstarter, supporting a fun, independent speculative fiction magazine for 2021. If you back at the $100 “Subscription, Pin, and Poetry” pledge level, you'll get invited to a special Zoom party where I'll perform stand-up comedy.

And: in late January, I'll speak for the first time at Linux.Conf.Au, on "How To Get A Project Unstuck -- And Fixing The Skill Gaps That Got Us Here". You'll come away from this talk with steps you can take, in the short term and in the long run, to address this for projects you care about. Ticket sales are now open for LCA (which will of course be a virtual convention). Buy a ticket if you'd like to see my talk live and participate in questions-and-answers!

This talk will draw from the same material as the book I'm writing on getting open source projects unstuck. I aim to teach the skills open source software maintainers need, aimed at working scientists and other contributors who have never managed public-facing projects before. And I hope to have more news about that project soon!

: On Realizing There Was Still Some American Exceptionalism Lurking In My Brain: One of the most valuable things I treasure about the Internet is that I can have a glimpse into the lives of people who live a very different life from mine. I regularly read the blogs/journals of people who live in Israel, Singapore, India, the UK, Australia, Malaysia, and more, not to mention other parts of my own country. The people whose lives I follow include clergy, therapists, parents, medical workers, students, lawyers, and more. I attempt to read at least a little by people I disagree with, or I'm not sure I agree with, or who hold jobs that in a better world might not exist; Granola Shotgun, Patrick Skinner (context), and LadyLovesTaft are thought-provoking, entertaining, edifying. And I appreciate getting geographical breadth in my feed.

Because of this mix, some of my info feed includes blogs by people who live in countries that have effectively controlled COVID-19. Reading one of their "what I did this week" posts is like reading a blog by someone who is rich, or by a man going on a long solitary hike as a fun vacation (while women get advised to never go alone). Their world and mine have diverged; the sphere of my capability is as a marble next to their planet.

We talk so much about the Constitution but our constitution was so weak.

I am a patriot but I thought I was a thoughtful one. This year has brought home to me how much American exceptionalism was still lurking in the corners of my head.

The bigotry I can notice in myself always has this fuzzy shadowy aspect -- it's in the gaps, the moments where I subconsciously think that I don't have to take [person, news, idea, work, etc.] properly seriously, the assumptions I make about what categories someone or some country's going to fit. Or, I learn individual facts -- that trains are cheaper and more frequent and more convenient in many countries I've visited, that my colleague in Norway has used easy electronic transfers to receive and pay money all his life and has never seen a paper check, that folks in Melbourne just call an ambulance for a stranger in trouble and don't worry about cost, that a bunch of people I know in Europe or Australia make their livings working part-time and don't have to figure out how to pay for health insurance -- but I have a mental block stopping me from adding up that two and two are four.

For several years, in conversation, whenever a foreigner complained about some aspect of the US, I would jump in, get ahead of them, get the crowd cracking up by reciting a litany of my country's deficiencies, apologizing for them on behalf of us all. Our utterly insufficient transit network, imperial measurements, all our paper money is the same size and shape and color, the health care disaster, the wars ... I've lost track, it's been a little while since I've given the spiel, since this sort of thing was usually something I said to tourists. But, I realize now, on some level it was always superficial and I did not take to heart how deeply my country was behind, was worse.

"We're number one!" No, we're not. To claim superiority without first assessing whether you're right, or on flimsy grounds, is arrogance. We are arrogant. I am arrogant. Wish I could say "was" but this is not the Rumpelstiltskin story and naming the problem does not make it vanish.

I am not a man and I am not white, but I think the particular bouquet of feelings I am feeling is like feelings a thoughtful white person or man might feel -- thinking that I knew that I was not the center of the world, but stumbling and noticing, in my disorientation, that clearly I had not yet decolonized my mind as thoroughly as I'd thought.

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: Reflecting on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: The other night I watched two films in a row: Knock Down The House, the documentary about four progressive candidates running to unseat Democratic incumbents in the 2018 US election, and Douglas, Hannah Gadsby's comedy special.

They're both very interesting, and afterwards I read and thought a bunch in particular about what's striking about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's political career.*

Making expectations explicit

In Douglas, Gadsby starts the show with a lengthy table of contents, telling you what she is going to do, saying that she would like for everyone to have their expectations properly set. She calls her shot.

In Knock Down the House I noticed a related thing that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did -- talking explicitly about expectations. When Crowley tried to tie her to scandalous local politician Hiram Monserrate, her retort included an explicit refutation of the de facto way that "women tend to be made responsible for the actions of every man in the room". She brings to light an implicit expectation that underlies the smear, which makes it possible for her to explicitly refuse to meet it.

In this exchange Ocasio-Cortez demonstrates one of the skills that makes her an aspirational figure, a role model for so many marginalized people: live and in the moment, she can notice an unfair or misleading criticism coming her way, refute the specific criticism, and then name and categorize what's illegitimate about the criticism so as to defuse it and get the upper hand (and point out the problem to all watching).

This is such a powerful skill. I see it in Ocasio-Cortez, in Sarah Taber, in Rep. Katie Porter, in Alexandra Erin, in Tressie McMillan Cottom, in siderea, and in some other public intellectuals and activists and politicians (often women) who are unapologetic and sharp in their fast-paced analysis of illegitimate criticism. It's like they don't just deflect the object coming their way, but they also X-ray it and show everyone the schematics so we can build our own shields too.

I don't think I have this skill. I think it really helps to have gone through the school of hard knocks, which they have way more than I have. And it helps to have a ton of practice in fast-paced live oral argument, which I've probably atrophied in recent years since so much of my work is in written conversation.

But, in organic conversation, when conflicts crop up, I think I do a tolerable job of stepping back and asking (to myself or out loud): what mismatch of expectations brought us here? Which is definitely useful.

Analytical and organizing skill

You can watch the part of Knock Down the House where Ocasio-Cortez analyzes the difference between two campaign mailers and predicts their effectiveness. This is an example of the level of skill in analysis and organizing that Ocasio-Cortez brings to her job. Which is less surprising when you remember not only that she was a promising researcher as early as high school, and that she worked as an organizer for the Sanders campaign in 2016 and got a bunch of experience in on-the-ground political work.*** The skill she demonstrates in articulating progressive arguments in compelling ways is not just a general gift of gab; it comes hand-in-hand with wonky behind-the-scenes research and thinking that brought her to those positions, and deep and specific expertise in what disengaged voters need to hear to get them to turn out at the polls.

Ocasio-Cortez's college peers remember her as brilliant and driven, often calling her "the smartest person I know" -- which reminds me of similar phrases frequently popping up in people's recollections of Hillary Rodham. The first time Elizabeth Warren met Hillary Clinton (in May 1998) she had a similar experience.

Back in October 2008 I wrote about Obama's success and noted: "people used to think the Clinton machine was the best there was. But with the right tools, investment in time, and leadership, a networked/egalitarian group will beat a linear, top-down group." Hillary Rodham went to law school instead of taking a job with Saul Alinsky's new training institute. What if she'd leaned harder into the organizing model? I think with Ocasio-Cortez you get a glimpse of what kind of independent political force she might have been.


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is conventionally beautiful. She is not only pretty, she frequently deconstructs beauty standards, and she has choice words for haters who think she is only pretty, but, as Tressie McMillan Cottom writes, you need to acknowledge her beauty to understand some of the dynamics around her place in politics:

I believe the right’s attacks on AOC (and a few of the left’s to be honest) are a visceral reaction to their inability to control what they see is her only legitimate source of power.....

We also feel icky about pointing out that someone is attractive and that is a certain kind of power because powerful women make us squeamish. And beauty as power makes us deeply afraid for our own self-worth.

Gadsby would probably agree with something Ocasio-Cortez says in the Vogue video (hat tip to kristi for highlighting it):

Our culture is so predicated on diminishing women and preying on our self-esteem, and so it's quite a radical act - and it's almost like a mini protest - to love yourself in a society that's always telling you you're not the right weight, you're not the right color, you're not the right, you know, whatever it is ... When you stand up and say, 'You know what? You don't make that decision. I make that decision,' it's very powerful. But that doesn’t mean we can't have fun.

Trusting one's own judgment

And, to reinforce that point about figuring out what expectations of you are legitimate, and tying that to authenticity, the Vogue article continues:

Just over two years ago, after defeating a 20-year incumbent and winning what was seen as the biggest upset of the 2018 midterm election primaries, Ocasio-Cortez was thrust into the spotlight at just 28 years old. "I went from working in a restaurant to being on cable news all the time," she recalls. "I initially really struggled with that. At a certain point, I just learned that you cannot get your feelings of beauty and confidence from anyone but yourself ... If I'm going to spend an hour in the morning doing my glam, it's not going to be because I'm afraid of what some Republican photo is going to look like ... It's because I feel like it," she says with a smile. Here, she picks up Fenty Beauty's Contour Stick, which she glides lightly down her cheekbones, over her forehead, and around her jawline. "I'm not trying to change my features or shape-shift -- I'm just trying to accentuate my existing features," she says as she adds a touch of the cream-to-powder pigment to her nose. "I'm not trying to make it look bigger. I'm not trying to make it look smaller ... I'm just trying to show people what I got."

When I get past reticence to advertise my company's services, to realistically say "I am one of the world's experts on [thing]," I too am just trying to show people what I've got. I remember N.K. Jemisin's articulation, for fiction writers: better. I think the shift from extrinsic to intrinsic valuation .... is a fundamental part of the transition from amateur to professional, perhaps even more than pay rates and book deals and awards and such. .... How do you know your judgment of yourself is sound? .... But for pro writers -- and I include aspiring pros along with established ones in this designation -- it's an absolutely necessary transition. Otherwise you spend all your time caring about the wrong things.

The incentives you can see, the appealing and obvious ones, will often try to make you care about the wrong things. This means that integrity comes with inherent discomfort -- but by demonstrating integrity in public you can reduce the difficulty others run into when following your path. We've only gotten to see Ocasio-Cortez's integrity in action for a few years of public service so far. I look forward to seeing who follows her path.

* I have a caveat for Knock Down The House; it seems like the filmmakers made some misleading choices in the sequence of scenes in the NY-14 primary race.

In particular: The film makes it seem like Crowley fails to show up for a candidate forum in the Bronx (instead sending Councilwoman Palma as a surrogate), and then, maybe weeks later, he calls the Ocasio-Cortez campaign and agrees to appear on a TV debate with her. The implication is that her growing popularity, and news attention to his surrogate gaffe, have possibly shamed or scared him into agreeing to a fresh debate.

But in actual fact, the TV debate was on June 15th, and the in-person debate that Crowley skipped was a few days later, on June 18th. Here's the order things happened in, as far as I can reconstruct**:

  1. [not sure when]: Crowley does not attend a debate; this is not shown or mentioned in the film, but here's a tweet about it
  2. May 17th: AOC shows up at a Crowley office to request a debate
  3. May 24th: agreement to a debate on NY1
  4. June 15th: NY1 televised debate
  5. June 18th: Crowley sends a surrogate to an in-person debate in the Bronx; we see this at some length in the film
  6. June 21st: a somewhat quickly organized additional in-person debate (which we see briefly in the film) at the Jackson Heights Jewish Community Center (since Crowley was the chair of Queens's Democratic organization, Ocasio-Cortez wrote: "Not a single local Dem club would host a primary debate (my opponent is their Chairman). These organizers took it upon themselves to host their own."
  7. June 26th: Election Day

This is particularly difficult to reconcile with a bit of audio the filmmaker uses, where Ocasio-Cortez wryly says (just after we are shown footage of a Pride event from June 17th) that Crowley didn't show up to a 100-person event, but now wants to debate her on NY1.

The way I can sort of square the circle is if the filmmakers are using audio recorded before June 15th, and the skipped debate Ocasio-Cortez is referring to is the first debate that Crowley skipped (and which the filmmakers have no footage of).

In any case, the filmmakers are compressing and reordering stuff to strongly imply a particular narrative that is not congruent with the chronological record, and once I come across a discrepancy like this I gotta wonder what else in the film I should question.

** Twitter's advanced search options are helpful here, especially daterange search. Here's a search to get all of Ocasio-Cortez's tweets between May 1st and May 31st of 2018.

As long as I'm talking about the research I ended up doing for this post: Reddit user lpetrich seems to be a solid contributor to the world of AOC fandom. Thank you for your posts, lpetrich!

*** When and how did she choose to run? There's a little confusion on this point. In college she took an interest in politics as an intern for Senator Kennedy but then, as she put it, switched to more work that would have a more direct impact. She never thought she would get back into politics or policy again. So, what's the sequence of her brother nominating her to Brand New Congress, BNC's six-month vetting process, and her deciding to take that nomination? Did she hear from BNC before her road trip, or after?

: Ashwatthama (The Elephant): I read the comic book version of the Mahabharata as a kid (thank you, Amar Chitra Katha!) and many of its stories stayed with me. As I recollected in a newspaper column in 2005:

Yudhisthira is an incredibly virtuous man, and is in fact the son of the god of dharma (righteousness and duty).

Yudhisthira has never spoken a lie. The gods so smile upon him that his chariot floats an inch above the ground, never touching the dust.

But, as the days of war drag on, he knows that he must get a psychological edge on his opponent. So Yudhisthira has an elephant bought and named Ashwattama, the name of his opponent's beloved son. Yudhisthira has the elephant killed so that he can honestly say, with his opponent listening, "Ashwattama is dead."

As planned, this breaks the other warrior's heart, and he recedes from the battle.

But because he lied, Yudhisthira's chariot falls upon the ground, never to float again.

In the comic book version (Issue 36, "The Battle At Midnight", page 29):

battle scene, text in accompanying post

So now, he replied: "Ashwatthama is dead." Adding in an inaudible aside -- "Ashwatthama the elephant." As soon as the lie was uttered Yudhisthira's chariot touched the ground.* [We see Yudhisthira standing in a chariot in the background, and Drona in the foreground, visibly overcome.]

Hearing the news from Yudhisthira, Drona fainted. Dhrishtadyumna rushed toward him. When Drona gained consciousness, he could not gain his earlier strength. Yet he killed Dhrishtadyumna's horses. [We see him take aim at some horses with his bow and arrow.]

* Because of his righteous conduct Yudhisthira's chariot was always four fingers' breadth above the ground.

It surprised me to see this, going back to the comic, because I honestly remembered the speech bubble looking like:


Anyway, now you know one particular reason why Four Seasons Total Landscaping reverberates inside my being like a perfect joke outside of time.

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: Getting Autoconf Unstuck: For most of this year, Zack Weinberg and I have been working on a pretty ambitious project:

  1. to make a fresh release of GNU Autoconf, a crucial free and open source build tool that hadn't had a new release since 2012
  2. to get paid for that
  3. to help put Autoconf on a more sustainable footing so it doesn't have to get rescued again a little while down the road

Autoconf 2.70 is due out this month; if you use Autoconf, check out the 2.69e beta and test it soon since Zack aims to make the release on December 8th.

If you hear "Autoconf" and think "I don't even know what that is or why it is important", you can read my LWN story about the rejuvenation & what's next.

(I am proud that a person said "That's one of the best pieces of technical writing that I've read in a long time." about my article.)

Several companies use/depend on Autoconf internally and would like for Autoconf and the entire Autotools toolchain to get back on track. There's lots of code out there already depending on autoconf. Converting it would be risky and expensive. Plus, competing build systems don't cover all the edge cases Autoconf does. If this makes you nod, check out the 2.69e beta and test it.

But also, the funding we got has run out, so we're trying to get some corporate sponsorship to make 2.71 even better (including building out a robust continuous integration system), and get the project on a sustainable footing. We'd like to:

  • test Autoconf with complicated autoconf scripts and find and fix more regressions
  • set up proper CI so we can find regressions on lots of OSes
  • get the hundreds of disorganized patches and bug reports filed, so we can prioritize and assess our backlog

Even a donation as small as USD $5,000 could help make substantial progress. If you want to directly pay Changeset to work on this, email me and let's talk. Or: the Free Software Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, collects donations on behalf of the GNU Toolchain (see their list of Working Together for Free Software Fund project areas), and your organization can make a tax-deductible donation to the FSF targeted at GNU Toolchain maintenance.

: Frances, Thanksgiving, And Potatoes: Because it's World AIDS Day, today I want to tell you a story about Thanksgiving, food, breaking and remaking tradition, and family. Caution: death because of AIDS.

Back in 2005, when my now-spouse Leonard and I lived in San Francisco, one year a bunch of Leonard's family drove north from Bakersfield for Thanksgiving. I was Leonard's girlfriend and they always tried to make me feel welcome at these things.

We were all going to have Thanksgiving at Uncle L's place in SF, hosted by Uncle L and his partner J, another man. Leonard's mom, Frances, was a Mormon, but a feminist one; the fact that her brother was gay was a complete non-issue.

J ran his kitchen and finished cooking and didn't let any of us help; L played Trivial Pursuit with us. And then we sat down to a heaping table of Thanksgiving goodies. Including a kugel J had made! But....


Mashed? Scalloped? Roasted? Fried? Au gratin? Baked-from-frozen tater tots? Zip, nada, zero. No potatoes of any kind.

Of course we had asked ahead of time about what we could bring. Martinelli's apple cider, rolls, dessert maybe. There had been no mention of this fundamental lacuna, this chasm of carbs.

Someone delicately mentioned/asked about the taterlessness, and we were redirected to the kugel. The kugel was fine! But many of us shared a glance.

Frances's contemporaneous blog post does not mince words: "We had a lovely Thanksgiving, but there was no mashed potatoes and gravy, which horrified me."

And on the ride back to Leonard's place, Leonard, his sisters, his mom, and his brother-in-law began to plan the next day's meal. Which would include potatoes. It was early in a new tradition: Backup Thanksgiving.

Leonard delicately wrote (later): "In recent years I made Backup Thanksgiving because I was learning to cook, or because of the absence of certain foods from the official Thanksgiving table." (By now you know what "certain foods" means.)

I'm glad we had both those Thanksgivings with Frances in 2005. That was her last Thanksgiving. She died of AIDS in May 2006. In her last days others took over updating her blog.

Today Leonard made Backup Thanksgiving food, including some fantastic scalloped potatoes. I loved Frances and I miss her. My government's failed at containing a pandemic. So many people Thanksgave apart this year to increase the odds we can come together next year. I'm emotional.

I wish I could tell Frances that I'm writing a book, that the new pip just came out, that Leonard's book got a great review. I wish I could have had more than a few weeks of being her daughter-in-law. She was only 54.

If you broke your traditions this year to keep everyone safer, to reduce the number of people who will feel the way I do fifteen years from now, thank you so much. I hope the Backup Thanksgivings you have in mid-2021 are fantastic and joyous.

Frances saw what was important. The love is essential and the nourishment is essential. I wish you love and nourishment.

(Especially potatoes, if you love potatoes.)

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(2) : Potomac Jokes: When my spouse Leonard was young, his mother told him a joke about President Richard Nixon:

Nixon fell into the Potomac River and was in danger of drowning. A local kid jumped in to save him.

Nixon, grateful, said, "Is there anything I can do for you? A tour of the White House? An official commendation?"

The kid said: "When I die, can you make sure I get buried in Arlington National Cemetery?"

Nixon said: "I think so, but why is that on your mind? You have your whole life ahead of you!"

The kid replied: "But when my mom find out I saved you, she's gonna kill me!"

This is a great joke but it is not specific enough for my taste; it is a joke template into which you could insert the name of any particularly hated President. As a comedian I find it enticingly inadequate to my desires.

Our household owns a copy of a decades-old edition of Scholastic's 101 President Jokes For Kids. I went through it a few days ago and found perhaps 3 Potomac jokes, none of which were particularly funny or felt President-specific.

I do not have time for another project* but it would be neat to try to write a bespoke Potomac joke for each US President. Gerald Ford tripping, fallling into the Potomac, and dealing with a mermaid who's angry at him about the Nixon pardon. Millard Fillmore trying to use the Union Wagon as some sort of amphibious vehicle. I've already come up with one FDR joke and two Biden jokes. Ask me about them if we're chatting. Or share a joke in the comments. Child-friendly, please!

* but I may do it anyway

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: Situation Normal Giveaway, Preview, and Pre-order: Situation Normal book cover My spouse Leonard Richardson has written a second novel, Situation Normal! Publishing house Candlemark & Gleam will publish it on December 14th, 2020. You can preorder it now in ebook (Kobo, Nook, Chapters Indigo, Kindle) or in paperback (Bookshop, Amazon, Barnes & Noble)! And there's a worldwide giveaway right now, till December 13th, for a free ebook copy!

Leonard says:

My elevator pitch for Situation Normal is "the Coen brothers do Star Trek". It's a military SF story where no one is incompetent but everything goes wrong.
Situation Normal is a direct sequel to Leonard's short story "Four Kinds of Cargo", published in Strange Horizons eight years ago. Leonard's now posted a retconned version of "Four Kinds of Cargo" to make everything line up with the sequel. He notes:

but the crew of the smuggling starship Sour Candy is now only one thread of a plot that includes weaponized marketing, sentient parasites, horny alien teenagers, and cosplaying monks.

Kobo and Indigo have a free preview up, so you can see the content notes and start to meet Becky, Hiroko, Myrus, Churryhoof, Dwap-Jac-Dac, Arun, and the Chief.

"The Fist of Joy," said Dad. Just the name took him back to the previous war.

"Nuh-uh. An Outreach Light Combat Platform. Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka."

"That's us, Jiankang," said Dad. "They're the good guys. Why are we running? This is insane."

"Who knows what they want," said the mayor in a tone that was either flat or full of adult emotions Myrus didn't understand. "They've been sending us urgent messages, but the Navy drafted our comm tech last month, so we're not that good at decrypting."

"Who made this decision?" said Dad. "Why wasn't the council consulted before we committed treason?"

Cory Doctorow likes Situation Normal even better than he liked Leonard's first novel, Constellation Games, which he called "an underappreciated masterpiece" and "one of the best political books I've ever read, an account of the poison chalice of societies based on coercion that puts great works of anarchist fiction to shame". Doctorow calls Situation Normal:

A triumph: madcap and trenchant, dancing on the precise meridian between funny and weird, with a wild, imaginative boldness that reinvents space-opera from the gravity well up.

And the American Library Association's Booklist gave Situation Normal a starred review, calling it "A fast-paced romp reminiscent of Kurt Vonnegut channeled through the wild inventiveness of Charles Stross and the irreverent political attitude of Cory Doctorow" - again with the Cory comparisons.

Enter the giveaway today, or preorder in ebook (Kobo, Nook, Chapters Indigo, Kindle) or in paperback (Bookshop, Amazon, Barnes & Noble)!

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: Thank You: Today I finally fiddled with the Universal Access settings in GNOME to:

  • make the mouse cursor bigger, and add a contrasting outline, so it's easier to see where it is
  • add a visible alert every time there's a sound/audio alert
  • increase default text size everywhere
It took maybe 90 seconds total and was really easy. I went through some internalized ageism and ableism as I did this. Now I've done it and my computer is easier to use, and I am grateful to all the people who came before me and laid this path to make it easier for me to use. Thank you to everyone who has ever worked on desktop usability and accessibility.

: It Goes On One At A Time: I want to tell you a story. It's about this year's election results, and it's about hope.

Just a few days after Election Day last week, with only 58% of the vote total reported, the New York Times was already comfortable projecting that Democratic incumbent Jerry McNerney will hold his seat in California's 9th Congressional District.

I used to live in that district, in the 1990s. I spent my early teen years in Stockton, an agricultural and shipping city. And that seat was Republican, Norman Shumway holding it 1978-1992 and then Richard Pombo winning and holding it after that.

In the mid-90s I came across an ad recruiting volunteers in the local alternative newspaper. I was a young teen and I was intrigued by the ad that said even people as young as 13 could volunteer for 2 hours per week, Wednesday afternoons, to do camerawork at a local cable access TV show. That's how I started volunteering with the Peace & Justice Network of San Joaquin County.

I met folks who had gotten in serious trouble for protesting the Vietnam War, for anti-nuke actions at Livermore Lab, and for various other acts of conscience. I ran the camera, then served as tech director, as a philosophy professor-turned-carpenter interviewed activists, journalists, politicians, scientists, poets, teachers, clergy, old folks with interesting stories to tell.

Every Congressional cycle they organized to try to beat Pombo. He seemed glued to that seat.

Then, years after I left, in 2004, someone ran unopposed as a write-in candidate for the Democratic nomination, and got 39% of the vote in the general election.

Then, in the 2006 election -- which I will always associate with this witty, angry, upsetting, didactic political music video set to "Freedom! '90" (content note for images from Abu Ghraib, Hurricane Katrina, and the 9/11 attacks) -- he WON! Jerry McNerney, who literally used to run a wind energy company and has a Ph.D. in math, won against a guy who was one of the worst politicians in America on environmental issues. Didn't hurt that by now Pombo was tied to the Abramoff corruption scandals.

My friends helped. They helped elect McNerney in 2006, and I think they had helped lay the groundwork, with decades of on-the-ground organizing, huge Rolodexes, media and fundraising experience.... All those years, trying and trying again, growing their networks. It's like Marge Piercy said. And now McNerney has been re-elected over and over, as a solid Democrat, and again this year.

There are candidates who lost last year and won this year. Activists, teachers, clergy. There are seats and chambers we came close to flipping this year, laying the groundwork for future efforts. Whatever those efforts need to be, whatever tomorrow brings.

(originally posted as a comment on MetaFilter)

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: Inclines and Declinations: A while ago, a friend of mine who lives in Manhattan contacted me to say that she and her spouse would have some time off this week, and suggested that they come to visit us in Queens. We would of course be outdoors and masked and physically distant. We made plans.

And then we canceled them and did a Jitsi videocall instead. Because my friend had just spent half a day in a hospital for various tests, because they'd have to take a cab or subway trip to get here and back, because the COVID case numbers are going up. Everyone understood -- there's no shame or blame attaching to anyone here, just trying to mitigate risks.

We had a great chat about Star Trek: The Next Generation (which they just started watching several months ago), about adaptations and abridgements and what they elide, about writing and publishing and writer's block, about where we were on Saturday when jubilation erupted in response to the announcement of Biden's victory.

I will not be going anywhere for Diwali, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. I will be taking care of my friends and family by keeping them safe -- by doing my bit to keep them safe.

Maybe you have friends or family in pandemic-affected areas who don't really listen to legitimate statistics and are inclined to (disastrously) follow their own intuitions and personal anecdotes when deciding that they're fine with unmasked, indoor get-togethers. People who don't listen to your reasoned arguments.

I once learned -- of course via disabled folks swapping tips on social media -- that doctors often look askance at a patient saying "I did some research and these peer-reviewed papers suggest [x] diagnosis/treatment might be applicable" but are very open to a patient saying "a friend of mine had these problems and [x] helped -- could we check that?" There's something there, I suppose, about how the dominant person in the room is willing to humor you, as a parent does a child, as long as you aren't stepping onto their turf, challenging their expertise. You're acting like a normal, social person, more familiar with your friends' worries than with how your own body works, grasping for the concrete rather than abstractly reasoning.

So I wonder whether a similar approach might work this year, with some of the folks to whom "but it's Christmas" and "don't you want to see your family?" are imperviable rejoinders. Say that your friend is really worried about what'll happen if you go (I can serve as your friend for this purpose). Tell them about your friend-of-a-friend who caught COVID six months ago and still hasn't recovered (I have at least one friend in this category).

And, readers in countries where the pandemic is under control and you can live a reasonably standard life: I'm glad y'all have been sensible. Someday we'll join you. I hope.

: Stand-Up Comedy Today: I'll perform 20 minutes of stand-up comedy about open source software today (Friday), 3:30-3:50pm PT, 6:30-6:50pm ET, at SeaGL [as I did at GUADEC].

Watch for free, no registration.

: Plain Language Choices: Pro Publica published a story in a few translations, including plain language, for accessibility reasons. It's interesting to read the default and plain language English versions of the stories, and to reflect on my own sometimes-negative immediate reactions when reading a plain-language piece: are they condescending to me? What are they hiding from me? but also how refreshing it is to see writers explicitly call things "bad".

I tried to write the Sunsetting Python 2 FAQ in very accessible English, because some audiences don't read English very well, or are executives who get scared off by programmer jargon. I saw some reactions that applauded this choice, and some that found that the effect was condescending, scolding, or otherwise offputting. Then, this year, I scripted the video we made about the changes coming to pip, using a somewhat similar plain-language approach -- but it's a video, with smiling people telling you these things, and it's far more about a change than about an ending (specifically "you should give up this thing you are used to"), so it affects the viewer differently.

And of course -- who are the audiences? What should we assume and what should we try to find out first? This connects back to the concision-nuance tradeoff in one-to-many documents which is, like so many other contested spectra, a ground churned over with centuries of thought and argument.

(Pro Publica news via Jason Kottke)

: Quite A Weekend: All the news networks and newspapers have analyzed the ballots counted so far and predicted that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have won the US Presidential election. We have so much work ahead, yes, but the RELIEF of this result is tremendous. Those spontaneous jubilant gatherings in the streets would have been much larger if it weren't for COVID (I stayed home and I'm guessing a ton of other rejoicers did too). As a friend said, it's like we juuuuuust made the last offramp.

My citizenship is safer (I'm the daughter of immigrants). My property is safer. My health is safer. My neighbors are safer. It's easier to make plans and have them feel meaningful. To feel purpose.

As I've seen some folks point out on social media: there are no red states, only voter suppression states. One of the corollaries here is: states that you think of as reliably Democratic would and could turn Republican if bad actors suppress enough of the vote. Great user experience for voter registration, voter notification, citizen engagement and turnout, and voting matter everywhere. If you want to see how this could work, read America, Inc. by Andrea Phillips -- it's a near-future science fiction novel with a lot of design thinking about US elections. And then if you want to start getting involved in those issues in your area, adults of all genders are welcome to help out with the League of Women Voters.

Leonard finished reading Vikram Seth's monumental novel A Suitable Boy and we talked about it at some length. Soon we'll probably start watching the BBC adaptation. It's such a generous and loving book, so many people doing so many human things. Shoemaking! Electoral politics! Music! Love! Poetry, farming, sex work, riots, parenting, teaching, healing, gardening, romance.... and did I mention the shoe manufacturing?!?!?! I'm so glad he's read it now so it's a part of both our internal worlds, together.

Alex Trebek died. I am sad about this; I grew up watching Jeopardy! and the older I get the more I appreciate all the little rituals and institutions that, together, make a culture.

The brilliant leaves on the trees outside are so gorgeous and, in their own way, lush.

I kept on adding at least 400 words per day to the git repository where I work on my book. It's like a hike. I look up at an intimidatingly high peak in the morning, and then I walk a step at a time for long enough, and then it's lunchtime at the vista. The height is a kind of mirage. What's important is the path.

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: Nonfiction Book Writing in November, and Daily Wordcount Posting: I am writing a book about open source maintainership. I had planned to get the book to editors/agents by the end of this year; I have made very little progress on it this year so now my goal is to have a small self-published early version of the book available by the end of the year.

Recently I wrote up a blog post about how the hobby writing project I did Sept-Oct felt doable for me, and how to apply those lessons to my book project I've been procrastinating on. Having a little writing prompt every day feels like it will help. I'm also planning on blogging stuff as I write it, or posting it publicly somewhere. Maybe a GitLab repo to start?

November -- there's NaNoWriMo. It's for novels. I saw that there are some rebels who use it for nonfiction, but I don't want to deliberately contravene the goals of NaNoWriMo so I'm not signing up for it formally, but I am committing to writing each day in November as a way to accumulate a lot of progress and momentum for the book.

Today I sat down with Leonard and he helped me restore my faith in my current outline, and I developed a template for each chapter which will make it easier for me to write them, and I wrote seven writing prompts so now I have writing exercises/chapters to start for each day in the coming week.

I also signed up for a daily words community on Dreamwidth to give myself people I am accountable to. I will also tell y'all: I want to write 400 words per day in November, as a minimal goal. On good days I know I will blow way past that! But just -- every day I want to write at least 400 words.

Any of you doing daily writing in November? If you're posting daily "I wrote [number] words!" then where are you doing that? I'd like to join in.

: Short Story Recommendations, And Hobby Project Lessons: Recommending short fiction is important for discovery, and to help us talk about things we like (and not just criticize things we don't).

Recently I've been posting to MetaFilter each day to recommend short stories, mostly scifi/fantasy but not always. For example, I pointed to Brishti Guha's translation of a (wacky, in my opinion) 11th-century Sanskrit piece by Kshemendra about language misunderstandings and an angry scholar. "...the reason the meat was so poor was because hunters couldn’t get hold of any well-fed animals. All the animals wanted to listen to Gunadhya’s story even more than they wanted to eat!" I enjoyed this fragment so much that I called my mom and read it aloud to her, and she told me cool stuff about the Sanskrit in-jokes in the story.

Other MetaFilter participants said nice things about how much they like the series which is nice to hear. Lots of people have said, in comments in that thread or on individual posts or in private mail to me, that they value getting these recommendations, that they are eager for links to good short fiction to help them read great stuff instead of getting sucked into the whirlpool of reading distressing news. Similarly, I have found it nice to have a wee research project, and to have a little template for bite-size things to write and publish that people enjoy. And I've discovered some cool magazines I hadn't known about before, such as Compelling Science Fiction and Cossmass Infinities.

I started posting these in late August. I decided that I'll stop at the end of this month, and suggested sources for folks who want to keep going.

And I've learned some things about what I found motivating about this project, and am working on adapting those lessons to my book project so I can get more traction.

  • Leverage a pre-existing audience
  • People comment and say thank you, especially with specific praise/compliments
  • Daily action with a bit of a deadline, but externally enforced limit that I can only post once per day (because of MetaFilter's rules)
  • Separation between writing and posting (prewriting is asynchronous; I have a little private queue of posts to publish)
  • Each chunk of work is short (often 50-100 words, with extended lengths primarily being quotes from others; often takes under 10 minutes for me to read and do research; I'm mostly reading and synthesizing what past folks have already made)
  • A clear specification/template/writing prompt for what that little chunk of work is supposed to be
  • Leverage and lifting up other people with hyperlinks

Overall, I seem to benefit from having consistent frequent but delayed publication/gratification (which suggests a drip marketing approach as Julia Evans has just blogged about), having a clear vision for what each little chunk of work is supposed to be like (which suggests I need to bear down on outlining work), and external validation from eager readers (which suggests I should set up a few oral conversations sometime soon with people who need a book about brownfield maintainership).

: "Useful Music": The content management platform Cargo makes Soundcloud mixes of "Useful Music": "Mixes to support your production(s)." These generally have no English lyrics and I've been finding them pretty chill and nice as work background.

I think they may be using some kind of natural language generator to write their blog. Or they've hired George Lazenby.

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: Dappling: The light through the window is still beautiful.

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: Autumn and Reckoning: In late September, I took a one-week vacation. Which is to say, I took several days off from my client work, and I did a lot of biking around to different New York City parks. I contacted a few friends I hadn't seen in a super long time and we met and talked (distanced, masked except for short periods while someone was eating -- and I kept my mask on while my friends were eating, and vice versa) in parks in Queens and Brooklyn. Or I sat on a bench and sketched while listening to a podcast, or I lay down on a picnic blanket (a staff gift from when I worked at Wikimedia) and I read. (I've just started Laurie J. Marks's Elemental Logic fantasy quartet and I like it a lot.) The weather was dry and crisp-to-warm and I had a very nice time. It was amazing to see and chat with multiple non-Leonard people in a week. By Friday afternoon my brain felt freshly full in a way that reminded me of going to in-person conferences.

I had read guidance on COVID-19 transmission and how to prevent it, and I reasoned (and my friends did too, of course) that it was safe enough to do this. On Saturday a few days ago I repeated this and went to Brooklyn to see two other friends this way.

Recently the plateau of safety has been eroding. The case count in New York City is trending up. Just now I checked New York City's COVID-19 milestones/goals page and the New York Times's NYC COVID case count tracker. New cases started rising in September and are still going up. The NYT reports: "Over the past week, there have been an average of 553 cases per day, an increase of 59 percent from the average two weeks earlier."

I talked with Leonard briefly. Given the stats, we ought to cut down on the risky things we're doing. But .... there's nearly nothing to cut.

I recognize that anyone can say "we have been cautious" and you have no way of checking their actual discipline level against your standards without fairly extensive surveillance and logging, but perhaps these broad strokes help you assess our assiduity. There's a growing consensus that it's key to reduce exposure to aerosol transmission -- but we were already wearing cloth masks at all times outside the apartment, avoiding crowds and unmasked people, and avoiding indoors spaces as much as possible (our local corner shop for 5 minutes once a week or so; the in-building laundromat, early in the morning, about every 5 weeks; in-and-out of the local post office to check my PO Box every few weeks). We've bought an air purifier. We have not eaten in a restaurant, indoors or outdoors, since March.

But there is one thing I can cut. This "seeing friends" thing, even though it's always outdoors. I can be stricter if I see friends -- stricter on distance (more like 10 feet, and using a measuring tape to make sure), no eating (and thus no mask removal), shorter durations. And I could limit the number of households I see to just one, going into a proper pod. Or we could just dial it all the way down to zero. Figuring that out.

I have been trying out different ways to motivate myself to exercise, and I found "you get to see a friend!" pretty motivating for the bike rides (sometimes about 90-120 minutes each way). And I got to see my friends and talk with them, learn new stuff, explore things through that digressive figuring-things-out kind of conversation. I know researchers for ages have been looking into in-person conversation and how to make online stuff a better simulacrum of it, and a zillion more people became citizen scientists in this field this year, especially in work and education. My experience right now is: there exists no replacement for in-person socializing, for me, that gives me all the same stuff that I value, that I think I need.

My sadness at losing this is just one of the many sadnesses of this pandemic. It's a small one, comparatively. But it's there.

It's autumn here, a season of transformation and of reckoning with the growing darkness. In many faith traditions, sometime soon we'll get to the rituals about bringing the sun back. I suppose that's something we're doing already, donning our masks, waving at our friends instead of hugging, stewarding our own little flames.

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: Changes Coming To Pip In October 2020: People who deal with Python: Changes are coming to pip, Python's package installation tool, in October 2020. Please share this migration guide and our video with your circles.


I'm working on improving the Python packaging toolchain, foundational work that will (in the long run) make the whole Python experience way less confusing. In the short term this may mess with some people's workflows, so we want lots of people to hear about it now.

The pip team made a 2-minute video to explain what's up:

We are also doing user experience studies, and want you to sign up if you ever do anything with Python (whatever your level of skill/experience).

Please boost this toot or retweet this tweet if you want to help us get the word out.


Computers need to know the right order to install pieces of software ("to install x, you need to install y first"). So, when Python programmers share software, like when they publish packages on the Python Package Index or internally in large companies, they have to precisely describe those installation prerequisites. And then pip needs to navigate tricky situations when it gets conflicting instructions.

Up until now, pip's been very inconsistent in handling this stuff, which makes it easy for your Python environment to get messed up. That's why we successfully applied for $407K in funding from Mozilla and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to finish and roll out a proper dependency resolver for pip. The goal is that pip will get better at handling that tricky logic, and easier for you to use and troubleshoot.

You can test the new behavior (in beta) right now by using an optional flag in pip 20.2. And in pip 20.3, coming in October, the new behavior will be the default.

Once you're using the new resolver, pip is going to be stricter and more consistent. So things won't mysteriously break as much, and we can add more features that lots of people want.

But! Right now, a ton of people unknowingly have Jenga towers of wobbly dependencies in their environments and will run into pain when we make the resolver stricter and more consistent. And this may lead to you getting stuck in troubleshooting, assuming that pip caused the problem, when actually the deeper cause is conflicts among how your upstreams specify requirements (TensorFlow just fixed a related thing, for example).

So: We're trying to get Python users to try out the beta of the new resolver that's available in the current stable release of pip (20.2), fix your own environments, report bugs in your upstreams in advance, and report bugs to us so we can fix them in the next couple weeks. We started spreading the word about this a few months ago. And now: video! People watch videos, I hear? I hope this helps.

: Availability This Week: Heads-up about availability: I'm attempting to take this week (Sept 21-25) off from client/Changeset work, doing lots of biking and reading and writing. Letting you know in case you email me about anything.

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: Some Followups From LibrePlanet 2017: I see that back in March 2017, I made a draft of some followup notes for my LibrePlanet 2017 keynote "Lessons, Myths, and Lenses: What I Wish I'd Known in 1998" (schedule description, video, in-progress transcript). I'm going to barely annotate/format this and post it as more of a found artifact and less of a designed communications instrument.

Wampanoag people

The Infinite Wrench

Mel Chua, Alex Bayley, Ashe Dryden, Christie Koehler

Open Source Bridge 2012

Kevin Gorman & Chip Deubner

Geek Feminism

Hans Reiser

Jupyter, Library Simplified, Zulip & zulipbot & good code review, Software Carpentry (save a day of work a week for the rest of their working lives), Dreamwidth and dw-dev, Beautiful Soup, Archive of Our Own, GNU Mailman and what's new in Mailman 3

Seth Schoen


Joseph Reagle


Vajra Chandrasekera

about Sumana Harihareswara

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