Film Theory

There is theory. There is practice. And then there is praxis.

When I lived in Charlotte, NC many years ago, I got my hair done at a salon called Theory. It was not cheap. The owner was a woman. She was intense, with dark hair and blue eyes. We never talked much during those long visits at the beauty salon, but I always felt like we were friends.

A few years ago, I started working on a whitepaper. Eventually I put it online, but who’s to say whether it’s in its final form or not? Although I consulted with a few people during the authorship process, including my cofounders at Yes Exactly and Zappen and crypto luminary Gavin Andresen (also known as the “Bitcoin KIng”), the work was my own.

I have visited the San Francisco Bay area more times than I can count. It’s like a home away from home.  On one visit, some time in the last decade, I forget when — I went to a gathering for Bay Area women in tech. I didn’t keep in touch with any of them for long but at the time, these beautiful and smart women seemed like the most glamorous people I had ever seen or met.

One of them brushed her hair in the same way as Jennifer Lawrence in Red Sparrow:

It’s not a look that I can pull off.

Red Sparrow (2018) - IMDb

Now, me saying that a woman at a technology networking event in San Francisco brushed her hair in the same way as a movie star (most famous for her role as Katniss / Mockingjay in The Hunger Gamesdoes not mean that the real life woman was a spy! Far from it. And, uh, certainly it does not cast aspersions on actor Jennifer Lawrence. She seems wholesome, hardworking, and pretty much rocks my world.

I was only at the Bay Area women’s networking event for an hour or two. It was just another business networking event. Not the best or worst that I have been to. It didn’t change my life. What I do remember is that every woman there was gorgeous. I felt completely outranked and outclassed in their company.

We ate. We drank. We joked. We talked shop.

So back to that IRL woman at that San Francisco gathering who brushed her dark hair back from one shoulder and across to the other…

I know of nothing scandalous in her past.

She just had great hair.

Want to know what I do think is scandalous?

Men who pay women to write their cryptocurrency whitepapers for them. These women are paid good money — usually over $50 an hour! But their names are never listed. It’s not enough. And by the way, this goes for ghostwriters who are male and nonbinary as well as female. Cryptocurrency founders who can’t understand their vision well enough to express it in written form are not folks that yrs truly can ever endorse, understand, or respect.

I would not go in on these ICOs. Just sayin’.

My Encounter with a Real Life Red Sparrow at 32C3

She called herself Yana. I knew that was not her real name.

She was petite, wearing a peasant dress. She had light brown shoulder length hair. She looked similar to my old Williams College suitemate, Anna Bartow. But “Yana” had some problems. When I met her, she had a mark on her face.

She told me it was “BDSM.” To me, it just looked like a bruise from domestic violence.

She was widely known to be Jake Applebaum’s “main squeeze,” but several other people were very interested in getting to know this “Yana.” I know her Twitter account. I blocked it, several years ago, for a good reason. I was told by my friend who had rented our hotel room that Yana’s next assignment was to be Julian Assange’s personal secretary.

That raised every f***ing alarm bell for Yana being an Eastern European or Russian spy. Nevertheless, I try not to make assumptions about people.  I was concerned when Yana told me, in the hotel lobby, that she was bipolar and also that she had been raped.

Come to think about it, I was concerned by nearly every aspect of the situation in that space! Nevertheless it was a pleasant hacker convention, a very large assembly of talented computerfolk gathered from nearly every nation and land, in Hamburg, Germany. I was thrilled and amazed that some people stayed for my Lightning Talk and even laughed and applauded at the joke lines. That doesn’t usually happen.

Mostly, though — and this is my uncensored opinion — I am just hoping that Yana, real Yana, is okay. As in, safe and in her right mind and able to come and go. I do not know where she is.

This Is Art

I’ve been posting a lot about code in the last few months, so here for a change is a post about the “Art” part of “Art Meets Code.” And since Pi Day is not quite over here in the Pacific Time Zone, it seems like the perfect occasion…


If you have not seen the movie “Pi,” you really should. What else can I say?

Darren Aronofsky is a genius. Pure and simple.

The Black Swan and The Whale won Oscars. But it was nominees The Wrestler and Requiem for a Dream that for me will always be his most memorable works. Requiem is brilliant but so depressing I might caution you against it. It’s about drug dealers whose lives and families fall apart. The Wrestler is arguably just as tragic, but also hilarious at times. I love the scene where the protagonist briefly hooks up with this woman who owns ferrets and has a firefighter fetish!

If ferret and firefighter fetishes sound too weird to you, then you haven’t yet seen Pi.

A tale of one man’s obsession with geometry, it is almost indescribable. Just know in advance that it is not preachy pablum about “mental health” issues. Nothing even remotely similar to Silver Linings Playbook or the laughably bad Touched with Fire. The mathematician at the center of this story is never given a diagnosis. Instead, we see the world through his point of view. And thus, the movie becomes more than formulaic or tidy. It becomes art.

This Is Front Page News

It’s been five years since this article came out. I asked a geologist friend to evaluate its conclusions, because they were so striking as to seem almost unbelievable. The geologist agreed: climate change isn’t just about the world getting a little bit hotter, or a bad drought or hurricane here and there. It could actually render the planet uninhabitable by humans.

The Uninhabitable Earth

In the jungles of Costa Rica, where humidity routinely tops 90 percent, simply moving around outside when it’s over 105 degrees Fahrenheit would be lethal. And the effect would be fast: Within a few hours, a human body would be cooked to death from both inside and out.

Read the full article online…

How can we make things better? Hint, hint: politicians aren’t that interested in radical systemic change. They are trained to think in the short term (poll to poll, election cycle to election cycle) just like corporations. While ESG investing provides a lifeline for investors and even consumers to align their ideals with their pocketbooks, it’s not enough. Extinction Rebellion has some good ideas, but street theater is not enough. Constitutional challenges on behalf of future generations in the United States have gone exactly nowhere.

Let’s not leave Greta Thunberg on her own here.

What is needed? A radically new mindset. Solutions that allow individuals to pool their collective knowledge and resources and effect change quickly. We need to stay positive and respect human rights as well as economic justice. This is a fight that will be won or lost in the Global South.

Why We Need Blockchain and Open Source Technology to Guarantee Fair Elections

Let’s face it.

The American people have lost faith in the electoral process. Whether you’re on the right wing and a die-hard Trumper who truly believed that evil liberals conspired to steal the 2020 presidential election, or whether you’re a mainstream progressive and concerned about the fact that in the United States, candidates who win a majority of votes (like Hillary Clinton in 2016) actually cannot become President due to the weirdness of the Electoral College, you know that something is wrong in this country. There is also the huge problem that ballots can get lost in the mail, and that not everybody has time to get to the voting booths or wants to come out and vote in the age of COVID.

What if we just had an app, or a website, for voting? Wouldn’t that make things easier?

It absolutely would. Turnout would go through the roof. Open source election technology is already mainstream, as this PDF from the respected Open Invention Network (OIN) clearly shows. Existing voting machine technologies could certainly be adapted for remote use.

But then the risk of fraud becomes higher.

How could we keep our elections secure, yet enable everyone with a cell phone or a computer to participate?

The answer is another open source technology: blockchain.

I floated this idea to Jenee Desmond-Harris at The New York Times in the summer of 2020.We knew each other because she had read a few of my essays and considered them for the NYT op-ed page, even asking for revisions. I had discussed my essay idea with Dean Pierce at PDX Hackerspace (also known as Ctrl-H). The basic premise resides in the reason why blockchain (the technology behind Bitcoin, popularized by my old advisor, Gavin Andresen) works: it is analogous to BCC. You encrypt or do not store the identity of a person making transactions on a blockchain network, but you make many copies of the record of this transaction, so that it can be verified by independent third parties (and 4th parties, 5th parties, etc.)

My proposal is that we use the same blockchain technology to prevent fraud in US elections, and of course also elections anywhere else in the world.

Jenee kindly emailed me back within a day of me contacting her, but passed on the story. I believe that with the 2024 presidential election now on the horizon, we may want to reopen that discussion.

#opensource will lead the way.



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