Reading The South Through the Lens of Caste

I recently finished reading Adolph L. Reed, Jr’s memoir of life in the Jim Crow South and afterwards.  Having read Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste just before (and The Warmth of Other Suns years earlier), I went into Reed’s slim volume looking for points of agreement and points of conflict  between it and Wilkerson’s previous works.

I hadn’t read any of Reed’s book-length work prior to The South: Jim Crow and Its Afterlives, but from a few of his articles I understand him to be a left-wing critic of anti-racism and identity politics.  The memoir focuses far more on the way Jim Crow functioned in practice than on criticism of anti-racism and identity politics in the present.  Like Wilkerson’s previous works, Reed’s memoir highlights the arbitrary nature of the penalties to blacks people for challenging the social and legal structures of Jim Crow.  The capriciousness of enforcement is heightened by Reed’s stories of travel from points north to places where Jim Crow governed expectations of behavior even after it was officially repudiated.  As depicted by Reed, the level of effort black people had to go through to comply with the strictures of Jim Crow was substantial, and a thing he only realized in retrospect. 

Reed doesn’t soft pedal the apartheid system Jim Crow was in the least, nor the nature of the chattel slavery system that preceded it. He quotes at length from the infamous Cornerstone Speech, references other ordinances of secession from southern states,  and makes clear that the South shot first with the aim of preserving slavery.  White supremacy clearly undergirds both slavery and Jim Crow in Reed’s telling.  But ultimately, Reed’s memoir reinforces his “class-first” worldview and that of others on the left (including his preferred presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders). 

Reed’s account of life under Jim Crow and afterwards is very enlightening. His lived experiences across decades and regions of the United States are both broad and deep, including New York City, DC, and parts of Louisiana (including New Orleans), Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Georgia. That said, I think there are limits to the power of the Jim Crow experience to explain the present. Reed’s book was published just last year, in the wake of a Trump presidency (a direct repudiation of the nation’s only black president) Trump’s role in encouraging an insurrection to remain in power, and the continuing engagement in overt appeals to white nationalism by numerous GOP pols and those in their orbit. I find it difficult to square these facts with assertions that “race essentialism” on the part of black folks is the real problem.

Wilkerson’s Caste, published in the summer of 2020, does a better job of capturing the subtleties and nuances of how we engage with each other by broadening our vision beyond race (race and class, instead of race or class). I still remember her interview with Terry Gross, and being initially skeptical of the book because of her response to the question of why the apartheid system in South Africa was not included in the book.

My response on Twitter in a thread with Thomas Chatterton Williams regarding Wilkerson’s Caste

Actually reading the book revealed not only a larger number of commonalities between the way race and class interact in the U.S. and the way caste works in India than I realized, but a wealth of research in the U.S. during Jim Crow which studied it from the inside and called it a caste system. Some of the takeaways on Caste I took note of separately (so as to keep the copy I borrowed from the public library as pristine as possible):

  • Dalits had an equivalent to the sharecropping system some black farmers endured
  • W.E.B. DuBois and Bhimrao Ambedkar corresponded at least once regarding the similarity of the position of their people in their respective countries
  • Madison Grant (a popular eugenicist of the early 20th century) saw India’s caste system as a model to be emulated
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was seen by Indian untouchables as an American untouchable
  • Among the earliest of the people to use the term “caste” to describe segregated schools in Boston was abolitionist and U.S. senator Charles Sumner.
  • Gunnar Myrdal (Swedish social economist) and Ashley Montagu (British-American anthropologist) used the term “caste” to describe the the way black people (and others) were treated in the U.S.

While I have seen pushback elsewhere regarding aspects of Wilkerson’s book (mainly people attributing causes other than racism to the personal experiences she recounts in the book), the only place I really disagreed with Wilkerson’s book was the suggestion that the indigenous people of America were exiled from the caste system. From reading The Great Oklahoma Swindle, I learned (among other things) that the Five Civilized Tribes fought on the side of the Confederacy during the Civil War and owned black people as slaves.

Wilkerson’s book is a lot longer than Reed’s, but no less valuable to the reader attempting to increase their understanding of the American experience for black people. Reading them close together in time provoked thoughts and revealed insights I suspect I would not otherwise have had. Moves to Amazon Lightsail, A Follow-Up

One change I missed after migrating to Lightsail, was ensuring that all the posts with images in them were displaying those images on the new site the way they were on the old. A scroll backward through previous posts revealed the problem quickly enough, but life is busy so it took awhile until I had enough time fix it. The steps I expected I would need to take to resolve the missing images issue were roughly the following:

  • Start up the old EC2 instance
  • Download the old images
  • Upload the old images to the new instance on Lightsail

Because I only stopped the previous EC2 instance instead of terminating it, I was able to re-start it. To download the old images, I’d have to find them first. Having self-hosted WordPress for awhile, I knew the images would be in subfolders under wp-content/uploads, so the only real question remaining was where exactly the old Bitnami image rooted the install. Once I “sshed” into the instance, that location turned out to be ~/stack/apps/wordpress/htdocs/wp-content/uploads. Images were further organized by year and month of blog posts. To simplify the downloading of old images, I had to knock the rust off my usage of the tar command. Once I’d compressed all those years of images into a few archive files it was time to get them off the machine. I used this Medium post to figure out the right syntax for my scp commands.

Once the archive files were on my local machine, I needed to get them onto the Lightsail instance (and expand them into its uploads folder). But just as I did compressing and pulling the files down from the EC2 instance, I had to figure out where they were in the new Bitnami image. As it turned out, the path was slightly different in the Lightsail image: ~/stack/wordpress/wp-content/uploads. Once I uploaded the files with scp, I had to figure out how to move them into the years and months structure that would match my existing blog posts. Using the in-brower terminal, I was reminded that the tar command wouldn’t let me expand the files into an existing folder structure, so I created an uploads-old folder and expanded them there. Then I had to figure out how to recursively copy the files there into uploads. It took a few tries but the command that ultimately got me the result I wanted was this:

sudo cp -R ./uploads-old/<year>/* ./<year>

Now, every post with images has them back again.

Salman Rushdie Talks Writing, Democracy, History & More

I recently listened to David Remnick’s interview of Salman Rushdie–his first since barely surviving attempted murder by a young man not even born at the time Ayatollah Khomeini issued his fatwa calling for Rushdie’s assassination in 1989. He took the opportunity primarily to talk about his latest book, Victory City, but along the way talked about the attack on him, the impact of the fatwa on him, and democracy and history in India, England, and the United States. There are many places to listen to and/or watch the full interview, as well as reading Remnick’s piece in The New Yorker

Toward the end of the interview, Rushdie’s response to one of Remnick’s questions did an excellent job of summarizing the danger democracy faces in all the places he is connected to by birth, education, and citizenship. I’ve attempted to transcribe Rushdie’s spoken words below, emphasizing what stood out most to me:

The problem in India is this, that the current government, which to people of my way of thinking is alarming, is very popular. It’s the difference for example between India and Trump. Trump was only just about popular. And his level of unpopularity was at least as high as his popularity, that’s not so in India because the Modi government is very popular in India, has huge support. And that makes it possible for them to get away with it.  To create this very autocratic state which is unkind to minorities, which is fantastically oppressive of journalists, where people are very afraid. Which in a way it’s getting to be difficult to call it a democracy.

A democracy is not just who wins the election, it’s whether you feel safe in the country whether you voted for the government or not. India has a problem. The way in which this book just marginally engages with it is that it takes on the subject of sectarianism, and tries to say this is not the history of India. The history of India is much more complicated than that.  It’s not that there was an ancient culture that another culture came in and destroyed, that’s a false description of the past.

And as we know we live in a world in which false descriptions of the past are being used everywhere to justify terrible behavior in the present. England pretending there’s a golden age before any foreigners showed up, and completing ignoring the fact that they were <expletive> over foreigners in their countries in order to make possible their wealth and affluence at home.  America, talking about being great again. I want to know when was that? What was the date? It was obviously before the Civil Rights Act. Was it before women had the vote? Was it when there was still slavery? What are we hark[en]ing back to? A fantasy past becomes a way of justifying bad behavior today.

David Remnick interview with Salman Rushdie from February 6, 2023

India’s Ministry of Finance searching the offices of the BBC in New Delhi and Mumbai and accusing them of tax evasion so soon after their airing of a show critical of Prime Minister Modi is exactly the point Rushdie was making about oppression of journalists. Shireen Abu Aqla was shot in the head and killed in the West Bank, likely by a soldier in the Israeli military (according to their own investigation). Here in the U.S., police arrested, shot, and tear-gassed numerous journalists covering protests that occurred in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police. Ali Velshi and his team of journalists were shot by rubber bullets from police during a live broadcast. A photojournalist named Lindo Tirado was shot by police with a non-lethal round and lost sight in one eye as a result. At least one journalist was arrested, handcuffed, and taken away while in the middle of a live broadcast. Nearly three years later, I haven’t seen any evidence of disciplinary action against the cops who did all this shooting.

Rushdie’s definition of democracy was an especially interesting one to me. My parents’ native Jamaica has a long history of political violence where the party you supported could have the most serious consequences for your physical well-being. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has written about mob violence and vigilantism occurring w/ the knowledge and consent of political parties not just in India, but elsewhere in southern Asia ( Here in the U.S., video from some of these school board meetings, heavily-armed people protesting COVID restrictions, threats and harassment of election workers, voter intimidation, and the insurrection at the Capitol in 2021 make me worry that we’re returning to the sort of political violence which was once the stuff of history books.  

What Rushdie says about false or fantasy pasts being used to justify bad behavior in the present resonated the most strongly with me because of how much present bad behavior it explains. Putin comparing himself to Peter the Great as he rationalizes his continuing invasion of Ukraine is a present example. The MAGA movement led by Donald Trump (though leadership of that movement is being quite vigorously contested now) is certainly another. The conservative Christian groups I’ve written about previously are certainly harkening back to a pre-Civil Rights Movement point in American history as the place to which they want the entire country to return. In retrospect, even some of the rulings of the conservative majority on the Supreme Court are explained by this framing. As I wrote last year after the leak of Alito’s draft opinion which would ultimately overturn Roe vs Wade, black men and women had no rights the government was bound to respect and (white) women were scarcely better off than that. I’m old enough now to remember a culture warrior from decades earlier, Pat Buchanan, harkening back to what (in my memory at least) was probably the Revolutionary War with his “ride to the sound of the guns” catchphrase.

Beyond Rushdie’s clear-eyed views of India, England, and the United States, his life speaks volumes regarding how petty and small what we call “cancel culture” today really is. The list of detractors regarding his novel The Satanic Verses is quite long, and included Prince (now King) Charles, John le Carré, Roald Dahl, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the British Foreign Secretary, and Jimmy Carter, among others. Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam) agreed with the fatwa calling for Rushdie to be murdered. Remnick’s piece includes the following shameful remark from the historian Hugh Trevor-Roper:

I would not shed a tear if some British Muslims, deploring his manners, should waylay him in a dark street and seek to improve them. If that should cause him thereafter to control his pen, society would benefit, and literature would not suffer.”

The Defiance of Salman Rushdie, by David Remnick, The New Yorker, February 13 & 20, 2023 Issue

Trevor-Roper’s remark can only be seen as more gruesome in the light of attempted and successful murders of translators of the book into Italian and Japanese, the attempted murder of the book’s Norwegian publisher, and the firebombing of bookstores that carried it. In light of the rough reception his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid would receive less than two decades later, I wonder if former president Carter ever revisited and revised his opinion of Rushdie’s book. Rushdie proves far more gracious to at least one of his critics than they were to him:

Meanwhile, the New York Times published a defense of J.K. Rowling–using Rushdie as an example of what could happen to her if she continued to be criticized–just a day after hundreds of current and former New York Times contributors published an open letter critical of the paper’s coverage of trans people. Rowling, like Rushdie, was a signatory of the Letter on Justice and Open Debate published in Harper’s Magazine a couple of years ago. The ways in which the two signatories choose to use their free speech (one to attack trans people, the other to write novels) couldn’t be more different, but the New York Times (predictably, in my view) treats them as the same. I still believe, as I wrote then, that the signatories of the Harper’s letter were asking that “controversial” speech be somehow more privileged than other speech. But Rushdie has paid a far higher price for his art–from other artists and his own government (beyond the one that actually issued the fatwa)–than Rowling has paid (or will ever pay) for using her substantial platform to punch down at a community that has been, and continues to be under siege.

Exploring Mastodon Continued: Moving to

After almost 4 months of using Mastodon, I found the community on (and its administrator, Kris Nóva) so interesting that I decided to move from the larger instance I initially joined ( The advice in my first post about sticking with a larger server unless you come across a particular server/community that really interests you still holds. The specific way I applied it is tied to a Mastodon feature I didn’t fully grasp the utility of back then: the Local timeline. I wrote about timelines later, but what only became clear after creating an account on and using Local timeline was that because the vast majority of people there are techies like me, there was a much higher volume of interesting toots there than on a large instance like

One of my Mastodon mutuals switched from to due to racist harassment being directed at his account from a domain they don’t block. Not only does proactively block that domain, they do things like give you a chance to review certain follow requests even if your account isn’t locked, as shown below:

Screenshot of follow request approval on

The actual steps I followed to migrate were a combination of this article, and this post from Eugen Rochko (in that order). Migrating doesn’t delete the old account, but it does disable the old account so it looks like this:

My disabled account on

Migrating to a new account meant updating my account metadata as well to verify that new account belongs to me.

Only the posts from my original Mastodon account can’t make the move to–but only because I don’t control the instance. If I were willing to run my own Mastodon server, it might be possible to import the archive I downloaded from my previous account and republish them there.

In addition to migrating to, I provided a small donation to the administrator through In addition to the charitable giving I’m doing this year, I’ll be putting more into these tip jars for online services that I find valuable. I contribute a bit to the main Mastodon project through Patreon.

From “Quiet Quitting” to Loud Layoffs

One of the more loathsome inventions of the business press in this pandemic-impacted era of work is the term “quiet quitting”. Ed Zitron is far more eloquent than I in expressing his fury regarding the term. But here is my own response to an article about a CEO complaining about the backlash he received to a LinkedIn post about firing 2 engineers who were working multiple full-time jobs:

“The Business Insider piece is kinda trash because they let the CEO posture and moralize. There’s an obvious double standard for what CEOs are allowed to do versus regular workers and they didn’t interrogate that at all. Perhaps some people work parallel jobs to make ends meet, but there are definitely folks taking advantage as well. The collusion of the press with business to invent this concept of “quiet quitting” still makes me angry. Having seen and been subject to layoffs [myself], stingy benefits, and being underpaid relative to my experience and skillset for a good chunk of my career, it’s laughable to me that these companies expect loyalty for how little they offer in return. Even though I wouldn’t do the parallel jobs thing myself, I can see how people rationalize it. They’re just being as transactional with employers as employers have been with workers for decades now.

me in an online chat with friends from October 2022

Fast-forward to today and the news is filled with layoff announcements. PagerDuty literally quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr as part of a blog post laying off some 7% of their workforce. Friends of mine at 2 other companies regularly in the news are now out of work. My own employer laid off a little over 2% of the workforce. While I am still employed, a number of people I’ve done great work with over the past 5 years are now out of jobs. As far as I can see, these layoffs do not have a thing to do with performance. And given the profit numbers some of the most prominent companies in layoff news have posted over the past couple of years, these are not cuts needed to ensure the survival of these companies.

Ed Zitron’s take on what should happen to the CEOs laying off all these people seems extreme at first, but is it really? Microsoft posted record results for fiscal 2022, but they’re still laying off thousands. Is it really the fault of all those workers Google, Facebook, and others hired during the depths of the pandemic (as if consumer habits were going to remain that way forever) that the pandemic loosened its grip and consumer behavior moved back toward pre-pandemic norms? Perhaps we aren’t being skeptical enough, or critical enough of cuts of this size and scale. As often as we’ve heard about and/or read about “the business cycle”, CEOs who make the kind of money they do ought to know better than to assume that

I survived more than a few layoffs back when the internet bubble burst (leaving an internet consulting firm for a new role just months before it declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy). The company I joined, a telecom equipment manufacturer, turned out to be at the height of its headcount. Over the 4 years I was there, they shed well over half their workforce (even as they acquired failing competitors). The friends of mine at those companies that lost jobs never seemed to lose them because of performance. The RIFs I would be on the wrong side of in later years never seemed to be either. In a world of work that long ago replaced pensions with 401(k)s, we are just numbers when push comes to shove.

Not every company is as honest as Netflix in modeling themselves after a professional sports team, and all that entails about the short shelf life of the average player. I’ve been working more than long enough to know that any company that refers to itself as a “family” is a company not to be trusted. This season of layoffs is just the latest reminder that what matters most in life are the people who matter to you and the people who treat you like you matter in return–regardless of the work you do for a living, be they family or friends. When it comes to work, we should enjoy it and do it well, but not at the expense of what matters most. If we’re going to give loyalty, let it be to people who have earned it and reciprocate it, not to institutions. Moves to Amazon Lightsail

Before last year ended, I moved this blog off its EC2 instance running a too-old version of PHP to an Amazon Lightsail instance in a new region. The original rationale for hosting on EC2 was to have a project and a reason to do things in AWS other than whatever a certification course might teach. But having finally earned that AWS Certified Solution Architect Associate certification last spring (and paid more in hosting fees than a blog as small as this really merits), the switch to a simpler user experience and lower cost for hosting was overdue.

Lightsail made it simple to launch a single self-contained instance running the latest version of WordPress. The real work was getting that new instance to look like the old one. Getting my posts moved over wasn’t hard, since I make a regular habit of using Tools > Export > All Content from the dashboard to ensure I have a WordPress-compatible copy of my posts available. The theme I use however (Tropicana) recommends far more plugins than I remember when I first chose it. The Site Health widget nags you about using a persistent object cache, so I tried getting the W3 Total Cache plugin working. I kept seeing an error about FTP permissions that I couldn’t resolve so I got rid of the plugin and Site Health said the server response time was ok without it. Another plugin I got rid of was AMP. Something about how I had AMP configured was seemed to prevent the header image from loading properly. With AMP gone, everything worked as before. Akismet Anti-Spam and JetPack are probably the most important plugins of any WordPress install so I made sure to get those configured and running as soon as possible.

The last change I needed to make was the SSL certificate. The Lightsail blueprint for WordPress (the official image from Bitnami and Automattic) has a script which automatically generates certs using Let’s Encrypt. When the script didn’t work the first time (because I’d neglected to update my domain’s A record first), I went back and made that change then shut down the (now) old EC2 instance.

GenXJamerican 2.0 still needs some more changes. I used to have a separate blog just for photos, years ago when one of my best friends was hosting WordPress instances. The Social Slider Feed plugin lets you pull in content from Instagram and other social media sites, so I’ve added those to a Photos page. Once I figure out the photo gallery plugin, that should be the next update. I’ll also be looking into the ActivityPub and WebFinger plugins as part of my growing interest in Mastodon.

Insurrection Anniversary

On this day, the second anniversary of the attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, I took a look back through what I posted on Facebook on that day, as well as some of what my friends posted in response.

I shared the following from my friend Brian:
“I just heard that the police are slowly, peacefully, and methodically dispersing these insurrections that breached our capitol, vandalized it, and desecrated it. Now compare that to how the police acted when they were dispersing BLM supporters in front of Lafayette Square so Trump could get a photo opp in front of a church while holding a bible upside down. Do not tell me that there is no such thing as white privilege. It cannot be more vividly illustrated than it has today.”

I appreciated Brian’s comment a lot because he’s white, but especially because he’s written at length about just how conservative he used to be. The two years that have elapsed since Brian posted this comment have only reinforced his point. Police in the U.S. set a record for the number of people they killed last year. Two years after the murder of George Floyd by 4 Minneapolis police officers and all the talk of racial reckoning, the police are just as unreformed as before and black and brown people remain in just as much danger.

I posted the following myself:
“Right after they finish certifying Biden’s Electoral College victory, Congress should impeach Trump again.”

This sentiment found a fair amount of agreement among my friends (as well as some whataboutism from a former classmate who also works in tech).

My last post on January 6, 2021:
“By the way, Ted Cruz is still going to object to the certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory after all this. On behalf of a man who called his wife ugly, and called his father a murderer. To call this man spineless is an insult to actual invertebrates.”

As it turned out, Ted Cruz had a lot of company–5 other senators and 121 House members (all Republicans) challenged the electoral results in Arizona (a state first called for Biden–correctly–by Fox News). Additional GOP senators and House members also challenged the Pennsylvania results.

Fast-forward to the current day, and as I write this the House has started the 12th round of voting for the next Speaker of the House. All three GOP nominees for speaker (Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, and Kevin Hern) are among the 147 Republicans who voted in favor of overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election–the very objective of the insurrectionists who invaded the U.S. Capitol and sent them running and hiding for their lives. In the wake of a 2022 election which gave the GOP control of the US House of Representatives, twice-impeached Donald Trump is once again running for president (an outcome which would have been avoided had he been removed from office and disqualified from holding future office).

The continued absence of accountability for any elected officials who gave rhetorical aid and comfort to the insurrectionists 2 years after it took place is sad, but unsurprising unfortunately. Also unsurprising is accountability (when it has landed) landing most heavily on the foot-soldiers of the insurrection. Particularly for former members of the military who participated in this attempted coup, the punishments meted out have not been sufficiently severe from my perspective.

Also lost in the coverage of the U.S. Capitol insurrection is a similar incident at another state capitol–Olympia, Washington. Even if there weren’t other such incidents at state capitols 2 years ago, the comfort level on the political right with threatening and/or enacting anti-government violence, whether by those who plotted to kidnap the governor of Michigan over COVID restrictions, or the Bundy clan and their abuses of federal land is far too high.

Jamaicans Doing Big Things in America: Susan M. Collins

Susan M. Collins is the new president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Per the bank’s press release, Collins is just the second woman to lead the organization as well as the first person of color. I didn’t know until reading the Bloomberg piece that 1969 was the year Jamaica put their own dollar into circulation, replacing the pound. That’s also the year both my parents left the island to immigrate to the U.S. Another thing that stood out to me in the Bloomberg profile is her parents–particularly her father. His work for the United Nations reminds me of my own father’s work for another international organization–The World Bank. The bit about his challenges winning arguments against economists (his Ph.D. was in social anthropology) also reminds me of my dad, in that I saw (and would later participate in) many a debate on the issues of the day with family members and friends.

Owning My Words, Revisited

A few years ago, I wrote this brief post, after Scott Hanselman re-tweeted one of his blog posts from 2012. In the wake of last year’s takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk, I’ve been pointing people to Hanselman’s decade+ old advice because I’m seeing it repeated in various forms by others (Monique Judge of The Verge is the most recent example I’ve read). In the time since that November 2019 post, I’ve published at least 60 posts (with a couple dozen more still in drafts). But the best-written and fiercest piece I’ve read on the subject is this Substack post by Catherynne M. Valente.

Her piece is well worth reading in full and sharing with friends. I’m just 5 years older than Valente, and reading it gave me a flashback to the very first page I ever put on the web. It was probably back in 1994, since the Mosaic browser had just come out the year before. I was a sophomore computer science major at University of Maryland then, so it would have been wherever they let students host their own pages. It was just some fan page for the team they used to call the Washington Redskins.  I somehow figured out how to take an image of the team’s helmet and make it look debossed under everything else I put on the page.  It was the first time I got compliments from strangers for something I did on the internet (in a Usenet newsgroup for fans of the team).  Usenet is how I joined my first fantasy football league.  Many of the guys I met online in that league back in 1993 are still friends of mine today. I later met a number of them in-person when I visited the Pacific Northwest for the first time (and I’ve been back a couple more times since).  Usenet is how dozens of us Redskins fans ultimately met in-person and attended a Redskins game together in San Diego (LaDainian Tomlinson’s rookie debut in 2001, and Jeff George’s debut as Redskins starting QB).  So much life has happened since then that until I read a post like Valente’s, it’s very easy to forget all the different ways in which much less sophisticated tech than we have today proved to be very, very good at helping us make meaningful, durable connections with each other.

The 12-point plan of how online communities are created and ultimately destroyed is the heart of her piece. A lot of the friends I first made on on Usenet, or even email distros have migrated through a lot of the same sites Valente listed as having fallen victim to that plan. The migrations to Mastodon (or Instagram, or Slack, or Discord, or Reddit, or SMS groupchats, etc) sparked by Twitter turning into $8chan (as some only half-joking call it now) is a reminder of many previous site & app migrations. Personally, I’m splitting the difference–spending a bit more time on Slack with friends, an ongoing chat with my cousins via GroupMe, and more time on Mastodon in favor of a bit less time on Twitter (less doomscrolling at least). Particularly in the depths of the pandemic (which sadly still seems far from over), some of my Twitter mutuals found and formed a real community in a direct message group. There are nearly 20 of us, all black, in business, tech, academia, science, and journalism among other fields. They’ve been some of the most encouraging people regarding my writing beyond my own family. One of them gave me the opportunity to be a panelist on a discussion of diversity in tech. I continue to learn from them through our ongoing conversations and value our connections enough to have shared other contact info with them if Twitter does go down.

Some of us have already learned that the grass isn’t always greener elsewhere when it comes to social media. What’s being done to Twitter by Elon Musk right now–as much value as I still personally gain from using it–has been an opportunity to reconsider how I engage with social media. I’ve been much more selective about who I follow on Mastodon (just 85 people vs over 800 on Twitter) and am seeing a lot more technical content as a result. This change in my social media experience is intriguing enough that by this time next year I may be one of those people who went from having just a basic grasp of how Mastodon worked to self-hosting an instance and writing all about the experience.

2022 Year in Review

Some highlights from this year:

  • Very strong year-end review (best ever at my current employer)
    • Substantial pay raise
    • RSUs added to my compensation package for the first time in my career
  • Promoted to senior manager at mid-year
  • Returned to the office
    • Hybrid model of Tuesday-Thursday in-office with Mondays and Fridays still remote
  • 11th wedding anniversary
  • Twins turned 7 years old
  • I lost about 10 pounds
  • Wrote 22 blog posts (including this one)
    • Moved this site to Amazon Lightsail (more on that in a future post)
  • Finally updated my library card so I can borrow books with Libby and in-person
  • Completed some reading for pleasure, including:
    • Defining Moments in Black History: Reading Between the Lies (by Dick Gregory)
      • Borrowed physically from the library
    • The first three books of Mick Herron’s Slough House books
      • Slow Horses
      • Dead Lions
      • Real Tigers (borrowed via Libby)
    • They Called Us Enemy: Expanded Edition (by George Takei)
    • Black Cop’s Kid: An Essay (by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar)
  • Completed Building Microservices (by Sam Newman) in technical book club at work
  • Took an actual solo vacation (Philadelphia)
  • Moved this blog from AWS to Amazon Lightsail

Some lowlights from this year:

  • Ending contractor terms early for performance reasons
  • Navigating a headcount freeze (which will persist into 2023)
  • Not enough exercise