I have highly detailed opinions on a lot of things. Most things probably. Here is one about presents.

The ideal present is one that:
1) has a use or practical purpose, but is something someone is unlikely to purchase for themselves. (This can also include helping someone ‘level up’ something they are purchasing/planning on purchasing.)
2) experiential
3) consumables

1) A new backpack, when you have a less than ideal one that still works. A solid chef’s knife. A nice bag/business card case/etc for the new grad.
2) cooking classes, amusement park trip, babysitting.
3) ice cream, pie, fruit, special honey or maple syrup, home made root beer.

One thing to make this easier is to listen to what people say. These are words of wisdom from my dad, and I’ve heard it from other people as well. If your friend makes an off handed comment about how they have bad bike lights, file that away and know you can get them a cool bike light and that it will be appreciated.

It’s more work than wish lists, but more fun for me anyway.


Here they are. The files are named not with their actual names out of laziness.


My birthday is in May. Like everyone, I have thoughts on age and time and meaning. I’ll share them with you if you’d like. Just ask.

As part of this, I am getting rid of some stuff I’ve made in the past year. This contains approximately seventeen paintings and two photosets. I am giving things away; anything left by the end of the month is going to be destroyed.

If you want a painting, you can have it. If you’d like it shipped to you, you pay shipping. If you’re local, I’ll deliver it to you by bicycle. I’ll even wear a hat. You are welcome to come pick up things.

Paintings are on canvas, unstretched and unframed. I can arrange for framing if you’d like (at cost to you.) I will retain photographs of paintings.

On photos: I have some photosets. These were done in collaboration with two local photographers. As far as I know, they have copies of the photos. If you would like a photo (or photos), you have the following options: 1) I will get them printed (at cost to you) and/or 2) I will give you a copy of the files. Any of these given away will then be deleted from my computer. Photographers may still retain copies. If you would like to see the complete photosets, drop me a line and we can meet up.

As photos of everything become available, I will post them. (Photo will be removed once a piece is claimed if the claimer requests it.) You can get a peek by browsing through the “art” tag. If you claim a piece, I will tell you about it if you’d like.

Wikipedia Day NYC

I was lucky enough to be invited too Wikipedia Day NYC to talk about some of my favorite stuff with really great people.

I was on a panel called “Free Culture Alliance,” and an alliance we were. Between the five of us (and a surprise guest panelist!), we had five different backgrounds, five difference specialities, and a singular goal of supporting freedom and knowledge. The panel was moderated by Jennifer Baek, an NYU law student and member (leader?) of their Students for Free Culture branch, who was a solid participant in her own right.

What I really loved about the panel was the great group of people on it. Wesley Chen (OpenITP), John Randall (the Roosevelt Institute), and Lane Rasberry (bluerasberry, and Wikipedian in Residence at Consumer Reports). This means we had someone working in reliable and secure internet communication, someone working towards broadband access all across America, and someone working on accessible, reliable knowledge (and outreach, specifically in the medical field.) This really was a group of people all over supporting free culture–from actual access to the internet, to safe communication, to reliable information. When faced with a question about Larry Lessig, we were pleased to discover that Eric Eldred was in the audience. He was willing to join us on stage and fill in the gaps.

I’d like to thank Pharos for first inviting me here, Jennifer for her great work, and my co-panelists for their projects and sharing their time and knowledge with me.

Aaron Swartz Memorial Ice Cream Social Hour

A photo of Aaron Swartz, SJ Klein, and Benj. Mako Hill at a Boston Wikipedia Meetup.

Photo courtesy of ragesoss on Flickr. CC-BY-SA

Friday, January 18th, 5:30-7pm at the Media Lab, 75 Amherst St, Cambridge, MA.

Aaron Swartz was a friend, a Bostonian, and a Mystery Hunter. Codex would like to invite members of the community and participants in the Mystery Hunt (that’s you!) to remember our friend, collaborator, and teammate with stories, jokes, discussions, and pictures. He touched many who did not know him personally, and we hope you join us to celebrate his life and mourn his death. Ice cream generously provided with the help of the Free Software Foundation.

(This takes place at the same time as the MIT Mystery Hunt. Though it is unaffiliated, it is hosted by Aaron’s Mystery Hunt team.)


Fellow Iron Blogger Madeleing Price Ball is also a research scientist with Personal Genome Project (PGP). She recently put up a post about diversity in PGP. In short, they’re looking for more.

PG is a “self-recruiting” project. That is to say, “all participants have enrolled in our project through word of mouth, finding our website and enrolling online.” In short, educated white men who are interested in understanding their genes and don’t mind sharing. There is a test required to participate in PGP. This is good, because rather than just signing a waver, you are making it clear that you understand what you’re getting yourself into. This present another barrier for entry.

PGP is cool because they make their data publicly available. It’s under a CC0 license, which is CC’s answer to public domain. This data is helping science do what it’s supposed to: help us understand the world. Seriously. Scientific research can be unreasonably cutthroat and competitive. Things like this, the sharing of data, the public ownership of it, is a reminder that with science we’re trying to understand and interact with our world in new ways. More people can do more things with this vast bank of meaningless information and turn it into knowledge we can do real things with. A thousand researchers can do a lot more than ten, and with a thousand perspectives, we have the chance to learn so much more.

I’ve not participated in PGP yet. I think about it, but I’m not sure. Committing your genome to the public is a big deal. One of the things PGP is hoping to have is families participating. If mine decides to throw their genes into the ring, I’d happily swab my mouth and hand the saliva over.

*Ball, M.P. “Seeking Diversity.” Personal Genome Project Blog. November, 29, 2012.


After living with T, in Mongolia, and alongside Korean pop culture, I grew to love pop music. I am by no means an aficionado, but I am quite capable of singing along to One Direction, spitting out most of the words to some Nicki Minaj, and arguing about which of the Beibs’s songs is the best. (I actually think it might be Baby. The one he does with the little Smith boy from Karate Kid is also pretty cute.)

In order to share my love of pop music with some of my friends, I am putting together a Powerful Women of Pop Music dance mix.

Criteria, in order of importance

  • Sung by a woman (or women)
  • Danceable
  • Powerful voice
  • Empowering/not disempowering to women
  • In the Billboard Top 50 sometime over the past 10 years (album it’s from is also acceptable, but not preferable)
  • I know at least 30% of the words
  • Original song

Why these criteria?

  • Obviously, a powerful women of pop mix needs to be done by women
  • It’s a dance mix. Side note: “dance mix” in this case means “things I will dance to in my kitchen,” not things I expect to hear in da club.
  • The powerful voice was inspired by listening to Xtina. She’s all about the talented ladies with powerful voices. I think this fits well into pop music, but also fits in with this theme of “power” I want to put into the mix.
  • Jessie J, Xtina, and Kelly (Clarkson) have a lot of songs that are empowering to women. Sure, a lot of this empowerment is based around “I don’t -need- you, I’m strong/powerful/capable without you.” There is also lots of stuff about individual success and strength/competence on their own. Feeling good about yourself. I’m not going to even pretend that all these songs will be empowering, but my goal is to have none of them be disempowering. (My favorite danceable Jessie J is “Domino,” which is not as empowering as her songs about making it even when people say she can’t. Oh yeah, and Ke$ha is so in.)
  • Pop music. Okay, when I start making lists of music I like, I have a tendency to drift to not-Top 40 stuff pretty quickly. I might have a dance I do to Call Me Maybe, but most of what I listen to isn’t Top 40. (explain top 40 When I start just putting music I like–in general–into mixes, even music I like to dance to, it’s a lot less beaty than Top 40.
  • This is about sharing music I like with people. I need to know the songs.
  • Anyone can do a cover of House of the Rising Sun or Brown Eyed Girl or anything by a Beatle, but that’s not what a powerful pop woman should be known for singing. Even if she is.

I present lists:

Definite Songs (in no particular order)

  1. We R Who We R, Ke$ha
  2. Call Your Girlfriend, Robyn
  3. What Doesn’t Kill You, Kelly Clarkson
  4. Starships, Nicki Minaj
  5. Raise Your Glass, P!nk
  6. S&M, Rhianna
  7. Beautiful, Dirty, Rich, Lady Gaga*
  8. Till The World Ends, Britney Spears
  9. Hot N Cold, Katy Perry
  10. Party in the USA, Miley Cyrus**
  11. Lady Marmalade, Christina, Lil’Kim, Mya, and P!nk***
  12. Call Me Maybe, Carly Rae Jepsen

*I am not sold on this, but I want a Gaga song.

**There’s a very specific story about why this is included. Someone I know once blew out his speakers playing this at a party.

***This is a cover, but the super group overwhelmed my sensibilities.

Maybe Ladies (in no particular order)

  1. Jessie J
  2. Adele
  3. Taylor Swift
  4. Amy Winehouse
  5. Florence + the Machine

The list of Maybe Ladies are people I would like to include, but I can’t find the right song of theirs.


Dear friends,
Thanks! Now, let’s see if I get a call on Tuesday.
Faithfully yours,


Thank you for your emails. I apologize for the delay in responding to you. Typically in situations like yours the delay in response is due either to a miscommunication on our end or conflicting schedules on the part of faculty that precludes full discussion of your case.

I am pleased to say that we have overcome those issues and are ready to move forward. Dr. James Hanley, AssociateDean for Clinical Affairs, will be contacting you next Tuesday to set up an appointment for you to be seen in our clinic.

Once again I apologize for the misstep and I look forward to hearing of a speedy resolution to your concern.


Huw F. Thomas


My fetishism of Mormons begins and ends with housewives and this idyllic view of a simple, purposeful lifestyle. In reality, I have no interest in being Mormon and a lot of what that now culturally entails. Like not cursing.

I love the word fuck. Seriously, I do. It’s great. I don’t love it for some deep philosophical reason, I just like how it feels in my mouth. There are…other words I do not like, but not for any meaningful or arguable reason.

Rather than saying things like hell and…other words, Mormons have taken on “shiz” and “heck.” Battlestar uses “frack.”

Farscape, an important part of my childhood, gave us “frell” and “dren.”

In the Farscape video, we hear “‘frell’…opened up a whole new world for us.”

Mormon Matters talks about why Mormons don’t swear.

  • Religious – because taking the Lord’s name in vain is specificially prohibited in the Bible; practicing Mormons avoid this one like the plague.
  • Sexual – presumably because our bodies are sacred; speaking lightly or debasingly of sex acts diminishes them.
  • Excretory – I suppose to some extent related to treating the body with respect; this seems like the least offensive to me unless directed at another person.  The words, I mean.

I would argue that hate speech is the worst of all since it is directed at another person in anger.  Of course, within each category, some words are considered more severe than others.  So you may think a very mild religious based word like “damn” or “hell” is okay, but would not even think to use the grand Mother of all American swear-words (in the sexual category).

This is just conjecture. While television shows abstain from swearing due to FCC regulations, Mormons seem to do it out of a sense of decency or perhaps even a form of modesty or denial. I think this is silly because, much like with television, we really know what they mean. They are not actually giving anything up.

I mean, seriously people, we all know that when Ellen Ty says “don’t frack with me, Bill” she means “don’t fuck with me, Bill.” When a BYU girl says “fetching heck” or “well, shiz” we all know what she means too.

It might just be my post modern tendencies, but I stopped viewing fuck as a sexual activity. Frack helps us see this, removing it from any sexy context and putting it into a purely expletive form. However, there are times when it is also a contextual replacement–not just an interjection. “Frack me” said in a sexy voice and “don’t crask with me” give frack the same meaning as fuck. Similarly, when heck so obviously stands in for Hell, it is functionally the same word.

It’s not just limited to these “forbidden words.” Caffeine is forbidden and Mountain Dew is the equivalent thrilling taboo of youthful alcohol consumption.

“Giving things up” is something we love to do to demonstrate dedication, suffer in solidarity, and make personal statements. Some vegetarians really like fake leather and fake fur. There are so many ways to approximate chametz and kitniot during Passover that people use. There are so many beautiful hijabi. I frequently think these make the wearers even more beautiful. I cannot conceive of how this adds to modesty. Unless it’s like a challenge: how can I be so beautiful and still be modest?

The real effort, the show of faith and solidarity and principal must come from the challenge to have things as much like the things people are giving up. Do you know how hard it is to make a delicious fluffy sponge cake during Passover? A vegan cheesecake? If you make that happen, you basically deserve the cake. You know what sort of suffering your ancestors went through in fleeing Egypt.