Why donate to a non-profit with a hard-to-pronounce name?

Go to miraheze.org, and find the green “Donate!” button!
…or the purple “Donate Today!” button. Both work.

This could end up being more rambly than normal, so I’ll cut to the chase: there’s a few things I’d like you to do:

  1. Go to https://miraheze.org
  2. On the top right, you’ll see a green button with a gift icon labeled “Donate!” Click on it.
  3. Follow the instructions, and make a modest donation (e.g. $10 is truly appreciated; $20 will probably be appreciated more)

Since most folks that I know haven’t heard of Miraheze (and probably aren’t sure how to pronounce it), I’m not entirely going to blame you for not racing to donate. I might be quietly judging you, but I won’t be blaming you. 😉 Seriously, though, if you’re willing to trust me and donate to Miraheze, you don’t need to read the rest of this.

Why am I doing asking you to donate to Miraheze? Well, it’s a lo-o-o-n-n-ng story, full of tangents. That story goes back to 1994…

Continue reading “Why donate to a non-profit with a hard-to-pronounce name?”

End of a chapter…

I didn’t get a chance to publicly pontificate about Internet Archive while I was employed there. From March 2019 until very recently, I managed the Core Infrastructure team at Internet Archive.

I suppose I did take one notable opportunity to blog about it. I wrote a blog post for blog.archive.org titled “Two Thin Strands of Glass“, which was about the long outage we had due to a fiber cut. It happened the day before the manager of our operations team (and lead network engineer) Jonah Edwards and his spouse were planning to leave San Francisco for their new home address in Portland, Oregon. My role during the outage was to briefly be the remote hands at the colocation facility for our upstream connection the Internet the evening the site went out, and to reinforce the message Jonah was telling us: there is no situation so bad that a panicked response won’t make it worse. Thankfully, the team was really great at biding their time until the fiber repair was complete, and quickly restored service once the fiber connection was repaired.

I loved working with Internet Archive, and I wish the organization well. As a longtime Wikipedian, I’m looking forward to having better access to the books that show up in Wikipedia citations. The team that I managed (Internet Archive’s “Petabox” team) is an amazingly intelligent and capable group of people, and facilitated a lot of fantastic services (both directly, and indirectly though the larger staff). I learned a ton about how this scrappy non-profit provides such an important service to the world (over 50 Petabytes of storage!) with such a small budget.

As for what’s happening with me next: I’m not sure. There’s software I’ve been working on for the past few years that I’d like to make suitable for wider adoption. I’ll probably also return to working on electoral reform (e.g. re-engage in work on electowiki.org) and helping to ensure that what happened in 2016 doesn’t happen again.

Replacing the jungle primary, December edition

 photo via Wikimedia Commons by Rich Niewiroski Jr.

A few weeks ago, I posted “Replacing the jungle primary“, where I outlined a couple of proposals that seemed like plausible replacements for California’s current “top-two” primary system. I assigned both proposals jargon-y names, but I only want to highlight one of them: “Majority Approval Filter (MAF)”.  MAF is my preferred option, and has generated the most discussion.  I’ve been refining this option over the past few weeks, and I want to discuss the new version with a wider audience.

Continue reading “Replacing the jungle primary, December edition”

Replacing the jungle primary

(originally published November 20, edited November 25; see footnote)

I’m thrilled with the huge win for approval voting in Fargo, North Dakota, where voters overwhelmingly chose approval voting as their voting system for mayoral elections.

I’ve been jealous of Fargo since I learned of that effort. In our primaries here in California, we use a jungle primary to narrow down the field of candidates to the top two in our primary election in June (or rather, our primary in March), and then choose between them in November.

I’ve been mulling over an idea for replacing California’s jungle primary with an approval-based primary.  I think with the system I describe below, we can also replace our two-candidate general election with a approval-based system that occasionally offers a third choice, but I also offer an alternative that only replaces the jungle primary.

Continue reading “Replacing the jungle primary”

Voting Methods in The Perl Journal

tpj-vol1-3-coverBack in 1996, I wrote an article for The Perl Journal, which they published in the Volume 1, Issue 3 in Autumn 1996. There are several alternatives available for the article:

For years, I’ve wanted to have stable redistribution of this article, and a stable URL that I could refer to.  There have been many URLs over the years to refer to this, but nothing too stable.  Well, as of right now, there is a stable URL:

https://robla.net/1996/TPJ

….which, as of this writing, just redirects right back to this blog post.  That’s probably the URL I’ll redistribute from now on.

Debating Oprah

I managed to get into some wordy discussions with MikeMC over on Medium.  Here’s how it played out from my perspective:

I don’t think either of us has convinced one another of anything, but still, that’s where we left things.  I still think Oprah would be a perfectly acceptable choice by Democrats in 2020.  Not my favorite choice, but still, a powerful strategic move.  MikeMC still thinks its a terrible idea.

I’m offering this summary only because I have something vaguely related that I’d like to share, and I’d like to refer back to this discussion.  I hope you enjoyed this summary.

 

Jimmy Carter, populism and Donald Trump

Jimmy and Rosilyn Carter, surprising the crowd by walking instead of riding in a limo (image from Carter Library via National Archives)

In January 2016, before either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump had secured their nominations, I posted an article on Daily Kos titled “What Donald Trump and Jimmy Carter have in common”. Since Republicans hadn’t settled on Trump yet, many Democrats were not-so-secretly hoping that Trump would win the nomination. I felt pretty alone in suggesting that Trump might not merely win the primary, but he might even be able to win the general election. That filled me with dread, but took comfort in the conventional wisdom of the day that Trump couldn’t win.

The comparison of Carter to Trump in 2016 still holds true today in 2017. Though that gave me dread in 2016, it gives me hope looking forward to the 2018 election. Let’s revisit the topic, because the subsequent election of 1980 holds lessons about 2020 that feel less dreadful IF we learn from history.

The comparison:

  1. Departed deity that was in charge in the receding party’s glory days
    1976 : FDR (Democratic President: 1933–1945)
    2016 : Reagan (Republican President: 1981–1989)
  2. Party with receding wave
    1976 : Democrats (New Deal)
    2016 : Republicans (supply-side economics)
  3. Party with rising wave
    1976 : Republicans (“government is the problem”)
    2016 : Democrats (“we are the 99%”)
  4. “Obvious” safe choice for party
    1976: Gerald Ford (the White House incumbent)
    2016: Hillary Clinton (“realist” choice)
  5. Candidate riding rising wave
    1976: Reagan (narrowly lost 1976 nomination)
    2016: Sanders (narrowly lost 2016 nomination)
  6. Unlikely party outsider for receding party
    1976: Jimmy Carter
    2016: Trump

Now to explain:

Continue reading “Jimmy Carter, populism and Donald Trump”