After reading my recent satire piece, a good friend of mine (and tech worker) asked if I had a list of books or other resources to learn more about labor history and capitalism in the United States, and how the tech industry operates in this broader context. I had been meaning to write about this, and I figured others would likely be interested, too. So, if you are interested in these topics then this is post for you!
Dear COMPANY NAME team:
Hello employees — or should I say independent contractors?! (More on that shortly.) I’m writing to you from my second mansion located in ECONOMICALLY DESTABILIZED COUNTRY IN THE GLOBAL SOUTH EXPLOITED BY UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM! I see the poor children here, and it just reminds me how privileged all of us are to live in a virtuous place like Silicon Valley (at least when I’m there, lol) where we pretend homeless people simply don’t exist. And if they do, it’s because they didn’t try hard enough to do a startup or they didn’t have enough generational wealth to do financial crimes.
I’m currently reading Marquis Bey’s Anarcho-Blackness: Notes Toward a Black Anarchism. These are some reflections on and excerpts from the fourth chapter, titled Unpropertied. This post comes against the backdrop of continued protests and uprisings here in Oakland and the rest of the Bay Area in solidarity with Minneapolis, Kenosha, and the broader fight against police violence.
I am infuriated. Yesterday morning I woke up to the news that in my hometown of Louisville, KY Breonna Taylor was murdered by the police while she was sleeping. Because she was Black. She was shot 8 times. I do not need to list the names of every innocent and unarmed (or sleeping!) Black human being who has been murdered on the streets or in their own homes by the police in this country. You already know them. This has happened so many times before, from the lynchings in the 1800s to LA in 1992 to Louisville today.
Updated: 14 Apr 2020
The Bay Area Council Economic Institute recently released a report titled Bay Area Homelessness: A Regional View of a Regional Crisis. Unfortunately, I did not have time to read the entire report, but the executive summary contains some interesting bits. If you have time to read at least that, I’d recommend it.
Notes and excerpts from The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin.
As some of you may know, I recently quit my job in San Francisco to pursue personal projects, freedom (sort of) from our collective capitalist nightmare, and self-determination. But I’ll write more on that later. This post is about dealing with health care as an independent software developer in the United States.
I’ve been eating vegetarian (and often vegan) for a decade now. I don’t talk about it much. This is a choice I’ve made for myself and my own reasons. What I never imagined happening is the growing popularity and wide availability of vegan/vegetarian food. It is simply remarkable.
I intend to start a new series of posts called Reading Notes where I publish notes, excerpts, and thoughts on what I’m currently reading. My goals are to better document my notes and thoughts on what I’m reading for my future self, and give myself a reason to write more blog posts (in general, but also more non-technical ones). I also hope to inspire you, dear reader, to read some of these books and essays.
Here’s the list of the books I read in 2018. There are 36 in total. At first it seemed like a small number to me. However, that averages to three books per month, which actually feels like a lot. In fact, I’m not sure I could read more than three books each month. There was never a time last year when I wasn’t reading something, and I often read multiple books at once.
The mayor of San Francisco called out feces on the sidewalks as a core problem to address in the city and wants homeless folks to “at least have respect” and “clean up after themselves”. It’s an unfortunate response, but I’m sure a lot of folks agree with the sentiment. No one relishes walking through the dirty streets in this city and it certainly is a concern, but this kind of rhetoric is actively harmful. It deliberately shifts responsibility for the problem onto the victims and away from the system that produced it. Homeless folks are among the most vulnerable in our society. In addition to their lack of housing, persistent precarity, mental health issues, and emotional struggles, the city is now going to ask them for respect and cleanliness?
I finished reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s new book, Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions. You should read it. As well as We Should All Be Feminists while you’re at it.
Data & Society recently released a stunning report, Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online. I highly suggest you read it if you care about understanding the rise of neo-fascism, the ‘fake news’ phenomenon, and manipulation of the media that plagued the 2016 US Presidential Election — and how Silicon Valley, particularly social media platforms, facilitated the rise of the alt-right movement and the spread of fascist propaganda. Don’t let the more than 100 pages deter you. The core report is only 50 pages, followed by a few pages of case studies, and finally a whopping 45 pages of citations and bibliography. (Direct download)
Earlier this week, the Tech Workers Coalition and UNITE HERE! in San Francisco hosted a panel discussion on how we can use our power as consumers to support hotel workers in the Bay Area and across the United States. The tech industry is full of remote workers, as well as conference organizers that host thousands of conferences each year — meaning thousands of programmers, designers, product managers, and others travel all the time to attend these conferences or attend their own company’s events. By choosing to stay at a fair hotel, you can make a significant impact on an industry where workers are struggling to negotiate fair wages and benefits.