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Where Ari Was and How She Got There

You should probably read this before going any further.

I am the someone who read the Parable of the Gronkulated Fleebwanger. I want to say it was palecur who sent it my way but it might have just been Facebook or something. I believe we were at my girlfriend in the Bay Area's place last summer when I found it, and I handed it to thequux, who remembers binging on Ari's entire blog hardcore while we were there, a decision which I had independently made I think an hour or two before sending the post to thequux. So there's where the initial connexion came from.

I am sort of bad at starting conversations with people whose writing I admire, but if there is somebody who is really really good at starting conversations, it is my friend Willow Brugh, who came up with the idea behind this event uh, a few months ago I think?, and who talked about it with me fairly early on. I wasn't physically there — thequux had a business meeting in Berlin and I went with him because fuck yeah working remotely anyway — but I was ready and willing to remote in if that could be arranged. About three days before the workshop, in the middle of talking about how it could be (the notion of borrowing a telepresence robot from the MIT Media Lab was floated, but we ended up using Google Hangouts and that worked out well enough), I facepalmed mid-chat conversation and brought up the fleebwanger post.

"She's in Boston," I said. "Boston's not that far from NYC, a train would be easy, I could ask Pilo if she could stay at the Pilopad," the Pilopad being where thequux and I lived in downtown Manhattan when we were there for like six months in 2012 (aka the end of my tenure at Red Lambda and the start of my current gig at Nuance), by quirk of the universe's sense of humour also the time when we were housemates with weev.

I went and talked to Pilo, and showed him the workshop announcement and the fleebwanger post and explained the situation, and he said "of course" because he's also friends with Willow, so this was basically just the social graph doing its thing, announcing itself in apparently kinda strange enough of a way (i.e., last-minute) as to be eyebrow-raising (for, I mean, perfectly understandable reasons) but turning out to be yes actually a genuine workshop being done on the cheap. This is sort of how hackers roll.

I would probably not have had the "ask Pilo for crash space" intuition had I not read Ari's blog back to front last summer; I'd have to hunt to find them, but the indexing algorithm that my brain apparently has for things I read brings up a couple of hits on observations of hacker culture that registered as accurate to me, and I mean she is a sociologist and everything and it was fucking amazing to finally get to talk with her some about how brains tell us things about other people, which is apparently a subject of great interest to us both.

I am kind of a machine for solving logistics problems sometimes, and apparently I have some decent intuitions about what kinds of trust are transitive, I'm just kind of bad at doing the social parts of executing on them myself on occasion. This can be awkward except when you can delegate, which happened because Willow is awesome, and yeah, it was actually pretty great to be in a hotel room all day for two of the days I was in Berlin, being "The Internet" (along with thequux and another fellow — pics eventually) in a workshop about social dynamics and game theory and other stuff that is Highly Relevant To My Interests. Delegation can work. Whoda thunk.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 19th, 2015 02:18 am (UTC)
So so glad it worked out the way it did. Glad for the notes to go live soon!
Feb. 19th, 2015 02:53 am (UTC)

can't wait to see two of my favorite people in the world
Feb. 19th, 2015 05:01 am (UTC)
I heard about a "Weev" person. A lot. In a meta sort of way. Like, I heard the name "Weev" several times, but nobody told me why this person was being mentioned, they just did the mentioning in that tone of voice that means there is a Noodle Incident (link removed for despammination -- it's on TV Tropes) I do not know about that everyone else does.

I'm normally good at context, but I spent most of my time with Pilo (пило?) having a very pleasant three-hour argument about absolutely nothing over bowls of apple crisp, and being sad that I would not be around long enough to make him teach me some Tajik. It sounds much easier to tackle than standard Farsi. I always appreciate it when a language leaves its vowels lying around out in the open, in front of God and everybody.
Feb. 19th, 2015 01:02 pm (UTC)
He commented just above. Under his walletnym, Andrew Auernheimer, he was prosecuted and went to prison under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act a couple years ago, and is otherwise pretty notorious as an internet troll. He was released on appeal (because the prosecution tried to pull some straight-up unconstitutional bullshit with respect to venue; the courts didn't address the "and the CFAA rationale is suuuuuuper sketchy with regard to the facts" angle I helped bring up in an amicus brief, but hey, we got it brought up) and lives in Lebanon now. That's probably the Noodle Incident he's best known for, but as is the case with trolls, there are many other Noodle Incidents as well. Which probably explains the meta.

I knew exactly none of this when I woke up from a jetlag nap in Pilo's apartment one evening in 2012 (on my way to a conference) to find a short beardy redhead sitting on the couch playing Skyrim, the apartment otherwise empty. Somehow we got to talking about Erlang and we've been friends since. Others' experiences are ... different.
Feb. 27th, 2015 05:43 pm (UTC)
This is not the first time I've been introduced to someone, or at least the idea of someone, under some perfectly normal-human-style name or nickname, only to find out later that they have their own Wikipedia article, which is even mostly accurate! I hung around a guy named Michael for many moons before someone remembered to tell me he was Mookie, of webcomic fame. One of these days I'll get used to this, I swear.
Feb. 19th, 2015 06:05 am (UTC)
Unrelated question: What is the thing decorating the top right corner of your LJ? It looks like a map of someone's subway, but it isn't Boston, doesn't look like the MTA maps I saw of Manhattan, and doesn't seem to match up to the Métro in Paris or Bruges. The U-Bahn in Berlin?
Feb. 19th, 2015 01:07 pm (UTC)
I think it is an abstract design meant to evoke a subway map but not actually represent any particular real-world one; other people have asked this before. (Though, now that you mention Berlin, what actually comes to mind is the tram map; I'll have to take a look at that.) I grabbed it out of a catalogue of LJ themes somewhere, long enough ago that I have forgotten where exactly I found it. I've been thinking about doing a redesign or at least some tweaking, but I'm kind of attached to it; maybe I should play around with the Brussels metro map and see what falls out.
Feb. 19th, 2015 06:55 pm (UTC)
It's almost certainly not any real subway map; the dark turquoise, blue, and green lines are unlikely on their own due to looping back on themselves, and I can't see any reason to have *that* much redundant east/west capacity on very similar lines without more north/south connections in the middle. Even Manhattan, which has a highly anisotropic transit layout, has lots of ways to get across the island the short way (23ACE in the south, BDFM around Houston, L at 14th, 7 at 42nd, and various Bronx connections between 2BD and the 5).

Further, the scale doesn't make sense. Consider the Washington D.C.-esque cluster in the middle (from the red vertical above the left side of the profile picture to the green vertical in the middle of the profile picture). In any reasonable design, that cluster would be at least 8x8 city blocks; any smaller and stations would be merged, which would result in the map being drawn much differently (eg, the ne/sw yellow line would be drawn *below* the light green line.
Feb. 27th, 2015 05:39 pm (UTC)
It does look a bit odd with the loopbacks and such, but 1) subways grow organically and what they do and do not choose to dynamite when revamping the lines doesn't always make sense, because humans are weird; and 2) if it's a topological map and not a topographical one, it's not necessarily to scale.

Your point about stations being close enough to merge is valid in a newly-built system, but it happens on occasion in organically evolved ones. Two of the major downtown stations in Boston, Park St and Downtown Crossing, are so close together that there's a tunnel between them, running under a pedestrian arcade topside on Winter Street. Park is where Red/Green cross and DTX is where Red/Orange cross, but both stations have signs and arrows for all three lines saying "for transfer to X line, go this way". The "to Orange" signs in Park and the "to Green" signs in DTX just point down the walkway.

There was also the possibility that it was a combined map of subway and street-level tram or el service. The T maps look almost that mad when they depict all four subway lines (Red, Orange, Green, Blue) plus the express bus service (Silver) and the commuter rail trains (Purple). I know Berlin has both S-Bahn and U-Bahn service, some of which overlap and loop back in places.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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