Jason Becker
June 9, 2023

I wonder how likely it is that my corneal scarring will mess up Apple’s VisionPro eye tracking.

There is no technology invented that is remarkably useful for something that isn’t immediately hyped as useful for everything and derided for being terrible at other things before years later it remains highly valuable and useful at exactly the targeted thing it was meant for.

Oh yeah, that’s why I like Portland. Random place on Yelp 3 mins from me.

A Greek chopped salad in a small white bowel on a marble-like surface. A lamb gyro in a pita held in a metal rack for pitas or tacos on a marble-like surface.

If Hebrew school wanted to prepare me for the actual threats against Jews, it would have spent less time telling me that we’re targeted for membership in cults and more time discussing IBS and lactose-intolerance.

June 8, 2023

I really need my dogs to stop getting sick at 3am and waking me up. I never get back to sleep.

If you’re in Portland, OR this weekend and want to hang out let me know.

I’m actually packing one of my larger bags because… well you know Portland.

I have an all too expensive Kindle and those Sony ANC headphones but the 2 instead of the current M4 or 5. Every time I’m about to go for a trip (something I do 20-30 times a year most years) I think “I have got to sell these last two micro USB devices.”

June 7, 2023

Four hours of sleep last night and 8am “cardio day” at the gym = I’m going to go lie down in the shower for 50 minutes until my first meeting.

I haven’t read the new CREDO study, but the results are not all that surprising.

Taken from Kevin Drum’s summary:

Generally speaking, the study shows positive charter results for:
  • Black and Hispanic students
  • Students in poverty
  • Urban students
  • Schools in northeastern states
  • Charter Management Organizations (CMOs)

… It’s not clear why the results line up this way. Poor urban charters are probably almost entirely Black and Hispanic, so the strong results for these groups are likely because urban charters are systemically different from suburban charters in some way. The report doesn’t speculate about what this difference might be, and I don’t have any guesses myself.

I’m more than willing to speculate.

  1. Charter management organizations professionalize central office functions like school districts spread over multiple schools versus replicating administrative functions at a single site at high cost. This leads to both higher quality staff and operations and lower operational costs that allow for greater investment in student learning. Also, expansion as a CMO, in at least some states, requires a track record of success generally.
  2. Northeastern states have more robust charter authorizing policies from the perspective of ensuring quality. They tend to be stricter about opening new charters and likely disproportionately have oversubscribed charters only.
  3. Urban students are coming from school systems with lower absolute performance and growth is asymmetric. It’s likely that it’s easier to grow from low baselines (we see this with “most improved” on absolute scores for things like NAEP or international comparisons like PISA almost always happening in lower, absolute, performers). So improvements should be more pronounced from lower baselines.
  4. The same argument for urban students applies to students in poverty and Black and Hispanic students, all being highly correlated. There’s also (in Northeastern urban charters) a reasonable likelihood of a more diverse teaching force and more direct focus on improving achievement for these specific subgroups of students (sometimes it’s a part of the process of getting a charter!).

Places like Ohio look bad because Ohio lets lots of people who have no idea how to run schools run schools with no meaningful consequences. The charters there seem to routinely go bust on financial mismanagement. Bad charter law (re: no accountability, few limits) results in bad charters.

I find discussing “charters” frustrating because the term itself lacks a universal definition. The legal structures governing charter schools vary greatly from state to state. Some of these structures are effective at producing higher quality charter schools, others, not so much. Unfortunately, each interest group involved in the charter school debate has their own agenda. As a result, their assessments of high or low-quality charter laws are often misguided. I believe charter school success should be measured by the educational outcomes they provide for students in underperforming school systems. However, the focus of groups assessing charter authorizing laws tends to be on factors like sector expansion, alternative notions of “choice” or “competition,” or even a desire to eliminate charter schools altogether.

One more thought– suburban charter schools primarily cater to students already enrolled in well-performing schools. These charter schools are established to address the specific preferences of relatively affluent parents who, for various reasons, feel that their needs are not being met by traditional neighborhood schools. For instance, in certain states (which will remain unnamed), it appears that the charter school sector exists with the purpose of segregating white students from their Black counterparts. These schools serve students who are already academically successful and, in many cases, prioritize fulfilling parental preferences that are unrelated or even contrary to educational outcomes.

June 6, 2023

I haven’t even watched the Vision Pro part of Apple’s announcement video yesterday, but this morning I cannot shake one thought.

I really hate how central our television is in our main living area. We absolutely could rearrange our household to have it be a more communal living space oriented around people and not a screen, but it would not reflect the way the members of my household live in practice today. I acknowledge that.

But I am now wondering, are we just a few years away from an experience with Apple Vision that leads to a television being largely replaced?

My living room is the best home theater I can afford, because while I’m not a fan of the casual daily television experience, I do want to turn off the lights on a Saturday night and watch Dune. Maybe some combination of Apple Vision and iPads means no one needs that television in the living room for any of our practical viewing experiences.

It is tempting to jump in now and say, “But with Apple Vision strapped to each of our faces, aren’t we even more disconnected than watching TV? Does this actually solve the problem?” To that I say that I’m unconvinced that the experience of Apple Vision won’t permit the same level of presence as shared television watching. And importantly, the fact that you can easily put it away and reorient the whole room can help adjust viewing to more of an appointment than a fallback. When the whole room is not setup to encourage falling into television, behavior change becomes just a bit easier.

I’m having a lot of difficulty winding down tonight. Just one of those days where there are too many little things I can’t quite put to rest.

June 5, 2023

Feeling like the Ultimate Monday with a super long week ahead.

June 4, 2023

Federation is an interesting technology that is a good choice for solving some problems, just like “peer to peer” was. But in truth, most of the problems in “social” (surprise!) are not technical. Reddit, for example, just has a bad business model.

My complete WWDC Wishlist:

macOS Notification Center syncs dismissed notifications (which actually works) and notifications have actual buttons/targets like they used to.

I often take pictures in a city I love and then see all the cars and think about how they ruin everything.

June 3, 2023

Here’s a thing you should totally not do.

Manton has made an archive of the posts from App.Net (App Dot Net?) available.

Normally I’d download my own posts with something simple and fast like wget. But since I’ve been trying to write more code in Elixir, I decided to write a small script to download my posts using that.

This script is a .exs file, meaning it is not compiled, and is meant to be run as elixir adn_download.exs with one argument, your user name.

For me, it’s elixir adn_download.exs jbecker.

This will create a folder in your current directory called posts with a JSON file for each post.

I’ll probably do something to parse and make that JSON useful in Elixir later too, but for now, my Saturday-morning-avoiding-responsibilities computer time is over.

Code below in line, and also here in a gist.

Mix.install([{:httpoison, "~> 2.0"}])

defmodule ADNDownloader do
  require HTTPoison

  @base_url "https://adn.micro.blog/"

  def get_posts(user_name) do
    url = @base_url <> "users/" <> String.at(user_name, 0) <> "/" <> user_name <> ".txt"

    %HTTPoison.Response{body: body} = HTTPoison.get!(url)

    post_urls =
      |> String.split("\n")

    |> Enum.reject(fn post_url -> !String.match?(post_url, ~r/json$/) end)
    |> Enum.map(fn post_url -> @base_url <> post_url end)

  def get_json(url) do
    %HTTPoison.Response{body: body} = HTTPoison.get!(url)

    file =
      Regex.named_captures(~r/\/(?<post>[0-9]*\.json$)/, url)
      |> Map.get("post")

    filepath = File.cwd!() <> "/posts/" <> file
    {filepath, body}

[user_name] = System.argv()
posts = ADNDownloader.get_posts(user_name)

File.mkdir!(File.cwd!() <> "/posts")

|> Enum.map(&ADNDownloader.get_json(&1)) 
|> Enum.map(fn {filename, contents} -> File.write!(filename, contents) end) 
June 2, 2023

Hi Jason,

Friday night, the TV’s on in the background, and I’m wondering where to start.

I first came across your “Letters Project” via previous participant Robb Knight. At the time I was craving conversation and if letters back-and-forth are not conversation, what are they? That seems as good a place to start as any.

As a 50+ year old (mid-early-50’s lol), I’ve been exposed to many concepts. Some resonate strongly and immediately feel right because of their ability to explain my world experiences. The importance of conversations in our life is one of those.

Just now my attention has been taken by the Ben Robert-Smith story on TV. He’s Australia’s most decorated living war-veteran who has lost a defamation case against three newspapers for claims they made that he is a war criminal. The stories are all “He’s guilty! Strip him of his medals! Take him to criminal court!”. The last I agree with as it is the only way to get beyond allegations to evidence.

The media leaves no place for conversation - no place to explore - no place to learn - no place for grey nuance.

I assume the case was thrown out of court because the newspapers had sufficient justification to make the claims they did and so, it’s not defamation. That does not equate to criminal proof. I can’t be sure of that, because it’s not being reported anywhere. Just the result for everybody to lay judgement on.

I see the same in the workplace, in families, on-line. We are not taking the time to sit in conversation. In my training as an ontological coach, we were told conversation is a dance. How much conversation is not a dance but a toe-to-toe fist-fight? The closest it gets to a dance is the gang fight in West Side Story.

I’m confident in saying we’ve forgotten how to listen, but I also think there is a big time factor in there. We don’t leave ourselves time to ask questions, to sit quietly and think, to consider what we’ve heard, or to consider our reaction to it and what that may teach us about ourselves.

That’s the conversation I crave. That’s what I hope you and I can engage with over the coming weeks.

I’ve written enough. Time for me to listen.

Best regards, David

Hi David,

I am also craving conversations, having come to the same set of conclusions as a mid-late-30s year old.

There’s little room for nuance, and so often cries for nuance are made in bad faith. One of the most difficult things about online conversation and media narratives is that they’re so often, fundamentally dishonest. The questions being asked are about framing the debate, not curiosity. Introducing complexity is genuinely seized upon by bad actors to support ideas that are not at all a part of the goal of the initial speaker.

You can’t dance with someone who walks on the floor with the purpose of making you look bad. There has to be some agreement on the basics, and so often these days our dance partners aren’t even listening to the same music we are.

I don’t think individuals have forgotten how to listen. I think this is why in person conversation and face to face interactions are so different from online interactions, especially synchronous or near synchronous, short form, broadcasted “conversations”. 1 One of the reasons I like podcasts so much is that the human voice can generate a level of empathy and compassion for each other that is missing during online sniping. Folks I feel are abhorrent with views that cause my blood to boil become possible to hear from when they are speaking in their own voice in the room with people who disagree. There’s something about having to face other people impacted by your own argument that softens, expands, and explains to a different degree than the online world or even the written word that’s not built in conversation.

Op/Eds are not conversations, they’re screeds.

I enjoy the long form, asynchronous conversations that Letters has provided. It’s a different type of communication that feels like it was common and now, not so much.

Thanks for jumping in this month.


  1. How often do we forget that a conversation in public has audiences besides the interlocutor? ↩︎

I like subscriptions. It doesn’t bother me as a model for buying software or media. But I’m realizing that I’m hitting subscription fatigue as there are quite a number of subscriptions I know I’d like to have that I just can’t bring myself to commit to.

There’s more to listen to, more to read, more to watch, and more to support than ever. And even if I could technically afford it, the idea of adding yet another $50 a year feels… rough.

Maybe I need to just review all of my spending, subscription-based or not, and make some choices to feel better about things. But it’s getting to be a lot.

Maybe I’m just one of the 1000 true fans far less often than I imagined.

May 31, 2023

Everything has more details than they appear to have.

May 28, 2023

Places I’ve been, defined as having stayed over night or having been there as a destination versus passing through or simply touching the ground.

United States


  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington

Territories and DC

  • Washington, D.C.
  • Puerto Rico
  • US Virgin Islands


  • Aruba
  • Bahamas
  • Canada
  • Cuba
  • Germany
  • Haiti
  • Hong Kong
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Mexico
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • USA

To say that I am disappointed in my level of international travel would be an understatement. I wait too long, think about it too much, worry about money far too much, and have stopped myself far too often. Somethign to resolve in the future.

Just sitting here thinking about how unhinged 2113 by Coheed and Cambria is.