My son was born almost 11 months ago and is just starting to walk on his own. Seeing him learn to stand on his own feet and the look of sheer glee on his face as explores his world is magical. Watching him and his big sister become more and more themselves is basically the best thing in my world. I think most parents experience something similar, having kids gives us a chance to see the world through new eyes and experience familiar things for the first time once again.
Like many parents I find myself reconsidering priorities and modes of thought. In my professional life I spend a lot of time thinking about metrics and key performance indicators (KPI’s) because so much of what I do revolves around tracking and reporting. It’s far too easy to get so caught up in the work that one loses sight of the KPI’s that really matter – things like being a decent human being, teaching my kids good values, leaving the world a better place than I found it. What I’ve come to realize is that fundamentally they all come back to one thing – adding beauty to the world.
In tech startup-land it’s common to frame actions in term of whether or not they “add value” to the company or to clients. It’s a useful shorthand and a good reminder that if a product or service isn’t adding value there’s no reason for people to consider paying for it. Being cool is nice, adding value is essential. As a professional, my interactions with customers and coworkers are determined by this simple metric: does what I am about to do add value? I find having a simple clean metric like this immensely helpful in cutting through the noise of office politics, my own ego, and anything else that can cloud the issue.
At the same time, it’s far too easy to get sucked into thinking about things only in terms of monetary value – we see the horrific impacts of such thinking in every clearcut forest, every destroyed fishery, and in the impending existential crisis of climate change. I’ll save the rant about capitalism for another day, for the purposes of this post it’s enough to say that these things are the result of an ideology that defines value in strictly monetary terms. For example when one works for a logging company a pristine old growth forest has no value but the lumber you could extract by clear cutting it does; and so we clear cut our forests with abandon and leave the natural world – the ecosystem that makes our existence possible – in ruins.
Several people have messaged me asking me for my recommendations for the upcoming election. Here’s my slate so far:
Delaine Easton for Governor. She’s the only candidate in the race who supports high speed rail + universal healthcare AND has realistic proposals to pay for them. She’s also a long time advocate for education and for kids in general, which I like.
Gayle McLaughlin for Lt. Governor. She is the former mayor of Richmond, a strong progressive and an independent, endorsed by both DSA and Our Revolution + lots of other progressive groups.
David Hildebrand (self-identified Libertarian Socialist) for Senate. He has solid positions on most of the key issues and a host of progressive endorsements.
I’m seeing good stuff about Pamela Price for Alameda County DA but haven’t done enough research to explicitly endorse her.
Jovanka Beckles is a strong candidate for State Assembly District 15 if you’re in her district.
No other candidate endorsements from me.
Prop 68 is a No – we should not be issuing Bonds to pay for Park maintenance. This is an absolutely terrible way to finance normal maintenance and unnecessarily adds to the State’s debt.
Prop 69 is a No – tying the legislature’s hands about where to spend tax revenue serves no purpose except to guarantee wasteful spending in some areas while other lower profile programs are under-funded.
Prop 70 is a hard No – this is another republican effort to cripple the legislature by requiring a 2/3 majority before spending revenues from cap and trade.
Prop 71 – No endorsement
Prop 72 is a Yes – People should be able to add rainwater capture systems without their property taxes going up. Especially in urban areas most rainwater drains directly to the ocean and is wasted. Catching and storing that water instead helps the whole State weather droughts more easily and should be encouraged.
Measure D in Oakland is also a Yes. This is a Parcel tax to fund libraries here in Oakland. Even if you never set foot in a Library they provide critical services – everything from free meeting space for community groups to internet access for low-income people to, you know, books.
I’ve been thinking about gender and culture a lot lately. Part of that is my daughter transforming practically overnight from an infant to a walking talking little person with her own ideas and opinions, part of that is the immanent arrival of her little brother, and part of it is the ongoing string of revelations around rape and sexual harassment. How can I raise my children to make sure that they are neither victims or abusers? Feminist writers have written at length about rape culture, and if you’re not already familiar with the term I would strongly recommend reading up. As I’ve thought about it over the years though I’ve become more and more convinced that the issue goes much deeper – right to the heart of culture’s like ours that normalize and glorify empire. I call it “conquest culture”. Continue reading →
So this last weekend my wife and I hosted a Burn’s Night dinner for a few of our friends. It was great and we’re planning to make it an annual tradition. My favorite part of the night was after dinner sitting in a circle drinking whiskey and having everyone recite their favorite poem (sometimes with a little help from google for folks who didn’t have something memorized). I used to go to poetry events all the time when I was writing and performing more regularly and didn’t realize how much I had missed it.
In any case, later that night I found myself inspired to write something new for the first time in a while. This one popped up in my head half-formed as I was tossing and turning and I just had to get out of bed and write it down, knowing it would be gone by morning if I did not.
I have a new article up on MediaPost looking at the various types of ad fraud in the mobile media space and how brands and their partners can combat them.
Media quality remains a top challenge for digital marketers. With mobile ad spending accounting for 70.3% of total U.S. digital advertising spending, many of the techniques used to perpetuate fraud as well as detect it have migrated from desktop to mobile. Mobile ad fraud comes in several varieties; let’s take a look at several of the most prominent.
Many brands struggle to prove ROI for their digital media spend. These 3 simple strategies can to tie real-world conversions to digital advertising.
Unlike TV and Radio advertising, digital media offers the possibility of tracking individual ad views to purchases. Many brands have made this leap for their online and in-app purchases, but a much smaller number have taken the next step and started tying digital media to real-world activity – or even realized that it’s possible!
That’s a huge missed opportunity – for modern advertisers being able to accurately link media to sales is an essential step in proving the value of campaigns. There are three main strategies that can be used to do this deterministically. Continue reading →
Like many Californians who grew up here, I have always considered myself a Californian more than an American. In my 20’s I spent years travelling back and forth across the United States as part of various environmental and social justice campaigns and that feeling only deepened. When outside the US I always tell people who ask that I am a Californian when they ask my nationality. My daughter is a ninth generation Californian and there is nowhere else in North America I would even consider living. As I have said for years – long before becoming involved in the independence movement – I am a Californian by birth, culture, and inclination and an American because they conquered us. As you might expect, identifying as a Californian first has an impact on how I view American politics.
A tremendous amount of ink has been spilled about the recent American elections. As tempting as it is to rant about everything the Democrats did wrong along the way, I’ll save that rant for another day. Instead, I want to talk a bit about why Californians voted the way they did and what that means for our future. Continue reading →
My daughter took her first steps this week and my heart almost exploded. Being a parent is something I was scared of for a long time but found myself wanting more and more. I find it’s changed the way I think in all sorts of unexpected ways. – for example I suddenly spend a lot more time thinking about children’s stories. I’ve believed for a long time that the stories we tell each other are one of the most powerful ways we transmit values and a sense of belonging as a culture.
I’ve taken to watching movies aimed at children, searching for positive messages I can feel good about sharing. On a flight recently they had the new “Pete’s Dragon” remake and I gave that a look, but quickly turned it off in dissapointment. Which is a shame, the original Pete’s Dragon was a family favorite when I was growing up. So I decided to re-watch it with a more critical father’s eye. Continue reading →
I was working on an article on the US presidential elections for another website earlier today and made an offhand remark that if the Democrats nominated a bag of Avocados for the presidency that California would faithfully line up and vote for it. And then it hit me – a bag of Avocados would actually be a better nominee than either American party’s candidates. Here’s 10 reasons you should join me in writing in a bag of avocados on your presidential ballot this fall. Continue reading →