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Writing


I went into a bit of a writing fugue finishing my October articles for the magazine I write for


https://kidscodecs.com


This time I was covering

How mathematicians have started programming to create proofs

A brief introduction to Forth

How data encodings, compression, and error correcting codes work


This was all written for a middle-grade audience so it doesn't get intensely technical, but with the proofs/theorem provers article I'm kinda proud of myself for creating what I think was a readable introduction to ideas most people don't see until grad school.


Depression and a city under attack


The writing fugue made me realize that my depression has been flaring up hard. It's not surprising. The pandemic times are hard on everyone. I work as a teacher which means my future feels uncertain and frightening. I also live in Portland OR which has kinda hit national news lately for how our local cops and federal agents have been working together to brutalize protestors, which in turn has meant protestors are fighting back harder to show they won't be cowed. I want to be super clear because narratives keep getting twisted: our local police started this by gassing, shooting, and beating unarmed protestors first. Things like the burning of the police building happened *after* a month of our cops putting people in the hospital.


We also have a bad history of our local police literally partnering with white supremacist groups to help them evade arrest, shooting unarmed people, and brutalizing homeless people. There's a lot of history here, is what I'm saying. Oh, also, don't trust our Mayor when he's talking about all this. He's not on our side.


A write-up from a local politico that's useful for people not from here


Maybe it's projection but the whole city feels tense right now, like we're waiting to see what happens. Huge numbers of people have been turning out to confront the cops & the feds, which is great, but Homeland Security keeps threatening to escalate. Are they going to turn to live ammo instead of just the less-lethal rounds they've been shooting people with for months? I don't know. I wish I did.


The future


I'm still trying to plan for and work towards a future. The digital divide has gone from a problem our local officials cared about in a "wouldn't this be nice" way and is now finally a big priority as they're realizing that we can't do anything at all without giving a lot of kids computers to use and a way to get on the internet. It might not be obvious from "Portlandia" stereotypes but this is actually a pretty poor city that just happens to have a few square miles of defense-contractor-startup rich kids playing around. That's a digression, though. The point is that it's looking like I'll get to have at least some kind of role in determining what closing the digital divide is going to look like here. I'm pushing against Chromebooks and other things that are just going to further solidify control by the huge tech companies. What I'm trying to pitch is just flat out giving as many kids raspberry pis or other small single board computers as we can & teaching them how to actually use them as computers that they can control, maintain, and work on. I've been writing a 'zine for kids on how to go from 0 technical knowledge to being able to use the command line like a pro.

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