“A person who is nice to you but is not nice to the waiter is not a nice person.”

A person who is nice to you but is not nice to the waiter is not a nice person.
Found via Occupy Wall Street’s photos on Facebook, which refers back to MR.H’s share on Banoosh, but who knows where it came from first!


For real though. It pisses me off when people treat service workers like shit, which happens SO often. Also obnoxious: when people go on about how “IT’S THEIR JOB” for service workers to be nice to their customers. I get that to a degree — when I worked at McDonalds and other food spots I prided myself on how polite and cheerful I usually was. But with the shit folks have to put up with from most customers and with the paltry pay they’re getting for their hard work, I don’t blame any service worker for not constantly providing service with a smile.

Next time you want to complain about service workers’ attitudes, I’d urge you to reflect on what they might have put up with already today, and be EXTRA nice to them in the hopes that you might help them feel the value and respect they deserve.

Owning our work

I worry when I see that the brilliant words, images, and other creative works of so many folks are only posted on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other corporately-owned services. Posting such content to those services only, and nowhere else, has two worrisome consequences.

First, whenever we post our words, photos, videos, or other things that constitute intellectual property to these services, we’re automatically giving these for-profit corporations various rights and licenses to store, use, reproduce, display, modify, and share our work. We agree to that when we accept the Terms of Service (ToS) when signing up for a new account; these Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr ToS are examples that many of us have accepted. They’re all a little different and some are better constrained, better written, or better explained than others; the Tumblr ToS seemed particularly clear to me. In each case we still retain ownership of all intellectual property rights for our content, but the companies still gain a good deal of freedom over what they do with our content and how they can make a profit from it. (Profit that we’ll never see a cent of, of course.)

That squicks me out, but I worry more that many of these services — Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr in particular — make it difficult to transfer all of that content out of their systems and into other ones, including systems that we have way more ownership or control over: our own hosted blogs or websites or our own computers. It takes a fair amount of time and tech know-how to set up any automated system for pushing content from those services to something else that we control more. And some of those systems don’t make it very easy to get to your older content, either.

So to me, it always feels like my content is disappearing into the cloud, a very dark cloud, perhaps never to be seen again. I don’t know how it will be used exactly, I don’t know how long it will be around for, and I don’t have any easy way to get back to it later.

That’s one of the motivations for this blog: it’s a WordPress blog hosted on servers maintained by a web host that I know and trust well with my data. I’m able to back up the whole thing automatically and redundantly (I’ve got a few backup systems so my backups are backed up). I can do that in part because free WordPress plugins like BackUpWordPress make it really easy for anyone to do, and in part because my tech knowledge of things like git gives me easy options for having multiple copies of my site and data stored in many physical locations, including my own computer and backup drives.

I’m trying to always copy the more thoughtful, interesting, meaningful or funny things I post on Facebook or Twitter to this blog, too. That doesn’t undo the fact that Facebook and Twitter both have somewhat creepy rights to what I’ve posted there, but it does make sure that my content is also stored in many places where I can truly own, control, and trust what’s going to happen to it.

It also turns out to be a good way to get me to write more; this post started out as something that was Facebook-ready, meaning short — three sentences, maybe. Even though Facebook status updates can now be more than 60,000 characters long, Facebook still seems to work better with short posts, in part because folks are more likely to read, “Like,” and comment on shorter things. But after getting used to writing for Facebook and the 140-character-tops Twitter, I’m really enjoying having some more room to stretch out into with my posts.

If other folks are wondering what they could do to deal with problems like the ones I’ve brought up here, I’ve got a few suggestions (and would welcome more from others!)

  • Learn how to get set up with your own website or blog using self-hosted open source software. That’s a daunting task, but it’s doable, and there may be resources in your own communities — friends, fellow activists and organizers, fellow students, family members, etc — that can help you get started. I highly recommend WordPress for getting started and rather like WordPress for blogging, even though I love building websites in Drupal.
  • Use online services that give you better options for exporting or re-publishing your content. WordPress.com and Drupal Gardens let you get started with your own free site without setting up your own web hosting or buying a domain name. If you want to move to your own self-hosted solution later, both services make it pretty easy to move your whole site off their servers and onto your own. You can also use services like Twitter and Tumblr that provide RSS feeds and APIs that let you re-publish your content automatically to other websites and services.
  • Cross-post your content. I really like using Facebook and Twitter; they make it easy to share content with tons of people. But I still want to be able to own and keep track of my content, so if it’s good I post it to this WordPress blog, too. Soon I’ll get around to setting up automated feeds from Twitter (and maybe Facebook, if that is possible?) to this blog in a way that actually creates posts on the site (rather than simply displaying content that’s still trapped in Twitter or Facebook.)
  • Save your content on your own computer. This is a really easy way to make sure that you’ve always got a copy of your content under your own control. Save all your photos locally instead of only leaving them up on Twitpic or Instagram; copy and paste your good Tumblr, Facebook, or Twitter content into text files or documents on your own computer. (For bonus points, learn how to do regular backups of your own computer, too!)

Any other good solutions out there?

La piratería y el pillaje y los hot dogs: reflections on July 4th

Bandera de Estados Unidos, yo no te saludo, porque aunque sea cierto que tú eres símbolo de una patria libra y soberana, en Puerto Rico representas la piratería y el pillaje. -- Pedro Albizu Campos
English translation of Pedro Albizu Campos’ words: “Flag of the United States, I do not salute you, because while it is true that you are a symbol of a free and sovereign country, in Puerto Rico you represent piracy and pillage.”

Right when I was starting to wrap up work today, I saw Maegan post this image of Pedro Albizu Campos on Facebook. Her accompanying words: “It’s hard to celebrate the freedom of a country that prevents the freedom of so many others.” (See Maegan’s post on VivirLatino for more of her July 4th reflections as a Puerto Rican born in Queens — they resonate with me & my own experience deeply.)

I shared it on my wall as well, even though I was a little nervous about what some of my Puerto Rican family members, born both stateside and on the island, might think of it.

An aside: the May First/People Link server that this site is hosted on a server named “albizu.” Makes me happy.

I emerged from our office/library/storage space/dumping ground/guestroom to find that M. had already done laundry, gone to the grocery store, taken out both grills so we could choose which one would work best, set up the plastic chairs, prepped food, and cleaned up the house a bit. All in the first few hours of her day off. I started trying to hustle to try to do something resembling my fair share, which of course meant calming the fuck down first. I get unreasonably stressed out about throwing any event that involves prepping or cooking food. Rock Band, beer & ordering food in, now that I can handle.

Any excuse to gather with friends is good by me, though. Even if it’s a fraught excuse like July 4th. Sometimes you take advantage of this sort of holiday (we could all be off!) and try to tune the bad shit out. Sometimes little symbolic and entirely inconsequential rituals of rebellion can help. “Imma wear a black t-shirt today, damn it!”

A successful barbecue (besides melting part of the grill, oops) and at least five mosquito bites later, we migrated back inside and into the cool, soothing arms of air conditioning. When you sit on our couch, the big, beautiful flatscreen — product of my Dad’s jubilant slot machine jackpot at the beginning of the year that he died — beckons. It was only a matter of time. Two of our friends are Katy Perry fans, and she was performing on the Macy’s Fireworks Extravaganza or whatever they call it, so on it went.

First Kenny Chesney was on, so we got to keep it on mute. Then Katy Perry came on, and she was performing especially for The Troops™. She was wearing a sparkly flag dress so I made my usual snarky remark about how a real patriot would never desecrate the flag like that. There were some very excited Marines jumping up and down for her and we created a gay narrative about how they could now be openly gay agents of imperialism, capitalism and death soldiers. But even with the sarcasm, there was some sort of recognition, some teeny, tenuous connection formed.That’s how they get you — you start identifying with it even just a little and it starts worming into your head. I wanted to tweet or FB post “WHY IS THE PROPAGANDA ON MY TV” but didn’t.

An aside: M.2 reminded us that more than 80% of the US military is under the age of 21. I felt shocked, which is pretty silly. Of course. But damn. So young.

Luckily the fireworks started pretty soon thereafter.

It reminded me of one July 4th that we spent at my Tio Bobby’s place. I was really little. It felt like the party went on forever but I’m still pretty sure it was the 4th and not New Year’s because I remember the fireworks on the TV and being told how close we were to them in Englewood, but no ball dropping.

I had a lot more fun watching the fireworks show then than I did today. Don’t get me wrong; I love fireworks. They give me chills every time in person, but it’s just not the same on TV. (Even the magical jackpot TV.) Whenever the fireworks were accompanied by patriotic songs I occupied myself elsewhere. The armed forces medley made me positively flee and when I heard the words “I’m proud to be an American” blare from the speakers I thought I might need to cleanse my house afterward or something. They did sucker me in twice, though: once with Ray Charles’ rendition of “America,” and once with Whitney Houston’s “One Moment In Time.” Yeah, that one got chills from me, as always happens when Whitney hits the high points of her crescendos.

All in all, not so comfy for me. But I didn’t want to be a rude self-righteous little shit and I didn’t want to make my friends uncomfortable or spoil folks’ fun so I only let a little of my disdain and grump leak out while it was going on.

Because that’s apparently what I’ve been taught to think I’d be if I said “nah, this stuff is making my skin crawl and I feel uncomfortable in my own home and I think I actually have good reason to ask that we not watch it.” I’d be a rude self-righteous little shit.

Damn. Their tricks are good.

When you watch television without DVR, you get to see the stupidity they’re putting in commercials these days. But then your DVR lets you take great photos of the stupidity for the world to see.

This one is from a heinously awful commercial from McDonalds where a white artist gets so inspired by eating a spicy chicken nugget thing that he starts painting a mural in homage on the wall of his huge loft. He invites his cool-looking queer-ish friends of color over to admire his work and eat some more spicy chicken nugget things. It’s all about the BIG SPICE. Or is that…

McDonalds ad for Big Spic... hey wtf!Thanks to OMG (one of the few people in the room to whom that particular slur would NOT be applied, amusingly) for exclaiming over what he’d seen so we could rewind and laugh at it. It happens a few times in the commercial, actually.

Then this came up. This is apparently some new show on NBC. By the chaste, barely affectionate way they’re holding hands we can only assume that those two homosexuals on the left are legally married.

Ad for The New Normal, a TV show
A bunch of very white people front and center with one blonde Black woman in an outfit reminiscent of a uniform hidden in the background. Nah, that’s the OLD normal. Plus some gays. #pinkwashing

My notes from the 2012 Allied Media Conference

I’m a bit of an obsessive note-taker. I actually count note-taking as one of my unique skills and I love to practice it. Good thing the Allied Media Conference gave me plenty of opportunities to do so! Every session had an Etherpad set up for it for folks to do collaborative note-taking in real time; here are all of the notes to which I contributed, with links to the original session info and some annotation here and there.


  • May First/People Link Network Gathering: notes and session info
    A MF/PL People’s Movement Assembly to discuss our movements’ priorities for the Internet


  • Healthy Organizational Communications: notes and session info
    AMAZING session from the AORTA collective, so I took copious notes for Palante to study
  • We+Design = Collaborative Design: notes and session info
    Brilliant designers & artists showing us their work and how they do it.
  • “Secret Survivors” Documentary Premiere: session info
    Neither I nor anyone else took notes. I was too busy watching and being utterly blown away (again) by the beauty, bravery, and fierceness of my friends & comrades who are part of the Secret Survivors project.
  • DiscoTechs UNITE! Part 1: notes and session info
    Now I’ve got schemes about a DiscoTech (short for Discover Technology) in NYC…


  • Son Jarocho: Iniciando un Movimiento: notes and session info
    Conquering fear of dancing in public while sober, part 1. Plus I got to learn to play some basic chords on a jarana!
  • DJ Geekout: notes and session info
    Conquering fear of dancing in public while sober, part 2. Never have so many people had so much fun dancing to slideshow presentations.
  • Worker-Owned Webmaking: Tech Co-ops: notes and session info
    I didn’t take any of these notes, because I was one of the presenters! But these notes ROCK and I <3 all the people who contributed to them.
  • Securing Our Online Communications: notes and session info
    Tons of practical information and resources.


  • Science of the Oppressed as Artivism: notes and session info
    MINDBLOWING. For real though. I can’t even. Seriously, read the notes and click those links and find these brilliant minds and KNOW THEM. I couldn’t take any notes on Micha’s part because she had us out of our seats for my first ever participation in Theater of the Oppressed.
  • Keeping Track: Surveillance and Organizing: notes and session info
    I loved this session because I learned so much about our communities’ needs around tech, privacy, and security.
  • Wrap-Up Session for the Webmaking Track: notes and session info
    I didn’t take these notes because I was facilitating, w00t! Such a valuable session for me as one of the Webmaking track coordinators!

Note that I didn’t miss attending one session block the whole conference. This despite running on 5 hours or less of sleep per night, no naps. Running on fumes of fabulousness!


I left the Allied Media Conference with a fire in my belly and blog posts gestating in my brain. It’s been a long time coming; let’s see what comes of it.

Dotster is inexplicably taking it’s time getting my access to my new domain name, but thanks to May First/People Link and their handy auto-generated mayfirst.org subdomains, a little thing like a mysterious PENDING status need not stop all the action.

Now, needing to be functional at a decent hour tomorrow, that will stop all the action.