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Welcome to my blog, which was once a mailing list of the same name and is still generated by mail. Please reply via the "comment" links.

Always interested in offers/projects/new ideas. Eclectic experience in fields like: numerical computing; Python web; Java enterprise; functional languages; GPGPU; SQL databases; etc. Based in Santiago, Chile; telecommute worldwide. CV; email.

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© 2006-2017 Andrew Cooke (site) / post authors (content).

I think I know what I dislike so much about Metafilter

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Fri, 11 Sep 2015 17:12:25 -0300

It's finding out that people don't become better when they switch politics.

You see the world and all the crassness in it, and it's run by groups that
exclude you, or others.  And my response to that has always been to hate the

In contrast, Mefi is a group that is, or wants to be, or sympathises with, the
others.  But it's still a group.

And it's hard to deny them a certain logic.  Why not be like that?  Why not
fight back?


Mefi Quotes

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Mon, 5 Oct 2015 06:18:58 -0300

just since you seem to be keeping score, i too am mocking them.

poffin boffin -

in the majority of threads in the blue I would never comment simply because I
lack the nuanced knowledge of what terminology might be offensive.

15L06 -

it's already difficult for non-native English speakers to comment in English
here due to the specific sensitivities of the (mostly) US culture of the
site. There's no way this could work if other languages were used.

elgilito -

Can't Help Thinking It's Thoughtcrime

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Mon, 5 Oct 2015 21:41:37 -0300


On The Other Hand

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Thu, 15 Oct 2015 09:40:58 -0300

This thread from 2007
is eye-opening in how bad Mefi was(?).


The Negative Of Positive

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Thu, 22 Oct 2015 20:11:06 -0300

I just read and
my heart sank.  I've removed myself from the book club I subscribed to, and I
guess I will avoid discussions.

I tried writing a reply in thread, but struggled.  I'm going to try here, with
less pressure from anyone actually reading what I say...

For me, using mefi is like walking on egg-shells.  Often my comments are
deleted.  This happens without any feedback.  Later, going through history, I
notice a gap, and my stomach sinks: I've done it wrong again.

I've tried questioning the mods.  They are invariably polite and never budge
an inch.  There is no concession or apology - just a very polite, completely
inflexible wall.

I know myself well enough to realize that what I find interesting is new
ideas; alternative viewpoints.  What people on Mefi see as fun conversation
seems to me like an echo chamber.  What I think of as an interesting contrast
was just characterized as a turd dropped in the bowl.

Part of this is me.  OK.  I know I am a bit odd.

But not all of it is.  Part of it is a culture of extreme conflict avoidance,
which I think is "American".  And so it feels unfair - particularly so on a
site with people that pride themselves on being so culturally inclusive - that
this is enforced so rigidly, as an absolute standard, with no acknowledgment
of it's arbitrary, cultural nature.

Looking in more detail at Jessamyn's reply, it feels, from this viewpoint,
like a deliberate, political act - an attempt to frame the question to exclude
any discussion.

First, the absolute standard.  Again, there is no recognition that this is
arbitrary or chosen.  Everything starts with the idea that anything outside
the positive echo chamber is abnormal; that it must be made to fit.

Second, the emphasis on dissent as being odd - a personal opinion.  Mindless
chatter and positive acceptance is the general state; disagreement and
negativity is you.  This isn't some neutral place for discussing the pros and
cons of literature; it's somewhere where negative opinions are personalized

Third, the dismissal of these very arguments.  "Truth to power" is mocked and

Yes, I can try to wrap things up in "conversation".  Maybe I will try.  Yes, I
am not a great communicator or the friendliest person around.  But I do try,
and I don't think I am *that* bad.  Yet, to me, Mefi seems unfriendly and
inflexible, protecting a social standard that is skewed and unreasonable.


It's Nuanced, And I Tried, So Back Off

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Sun, 25 Oct 2015 09:06:17 -0300

One take-away from this thread - in practicular, from this comment
(which is a good comment) - is that at some point it's OK, to say:

    Look, I tried to understand things, I tried to be nuanced, I've explained
    my reasoning.  You still think I am wrong, and I am sorry about that, but
    life is complicated, I disagree, and I am moving on.

More and more I'm thinking that there's a bogey-man white person that isn't
necessarily me.


Interesting Link On Marginality

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Mon, 26 Oct 2015 18:39:53 -0300 from
helps explain my own experience (as does the phrase "foreigner's advantage".

Very useful to see the constructive marginality so explicitly described.
Compare with what I was trying to explain at


I can see straight men watching this conversation and laffing

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Thu, 12 Nov 2015 08:23:38 -0300 the dumb SJW libruls who are getting twisted in pretzels trying
not to offend each other while they wage their war against the white

(nope, not laughing here)


Musical Chairs - Who's The Privileged White Guy

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Thu, 12 Nov 2015 13:59:10 -0300

This thread, from roughly
down, is really interesting.  At least one person is so used to the
rehetoric of identifying the bogeyman white straight male that, when
there isn't one, they thrash around trying to force someone into that
role.  Musical chairs.  Person who's not a minority loses.

Also, Conspire taking the line that men shouldn't be angry is, well, I
guess it's relying strongly on context.

(Maybe I should clarify - I'm not laughing at them.  I'm vaguely
amused, sure, but also honestly interested.  It reminds me of picking
sides at football - straight white guy is last to be chosen.)


Good Explanation of Difference Between Majority + Minority

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Thu, 12 Nov 2015 18:04:08 -0300


Would This Have Been OK?

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2015 18:13:39 -0300

I almost posted the following in reply to
but then decided I was complaining too much about too small a thing
(particularly in a thread "dedicated" to a particular community).  I'm
saving it here because (1) I might want to refer to it and (2) I'd
love feedback on whether it's reasonable.

  "to not have to teach every new white person how to aspirate a vowel."

  errr.  this is just a living in another culture thing.  i am a white
  guy who has to explain (or not) to all the "brown" people i live
  with how to pronounce my name.  and i wouldn't even think of
  criticising them for it.  there's a difference between white
  supremacy and having a name from some "other" culture.

  (i'm sorry if i'm wrong.  i almost didn't post this, because i
  thought "come on, they have to live with a lot of shit, let this
  slide".  but at the same time, i've been reading threads here and my
  impression is that POC want to be addressed as "real people", who
  understand complexity and individual experiences.  and i live in a
  place that is not "where i come from" and honestly, what you said
  just sounds unfair to me.  i absolutely understand it's annoying - i
  also understand the difficulty in "choosing" how much to "fit in".
  it sucks and i can never get it right.  but to expect others to
  somehow know how to pronounce your name without you telling them is
  asking too much)


Adding Reverb To The Echo Chamber

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Tue, 24 Nov 2015 08:56:40 -0300


We Have Both Kinds Of Contributors

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Tue, 5 Jan 2016 17:39:33 -0300

Women AND women.

And then a 50 yo male posts this...

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Fri, 8 Jan 2016 17:15:40 -0300

Why are the people on my team so crap?  Has nothing changed since
football at school?


Deleted Obit Post

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Sat, 9 Jan 2016 10:38:08 -0300

It would be good to follow this up at some point:

Currently this is the only update / analysis I can find:


Visibilty / Public Comments / Domestic Violence

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Wed, 13 Jan 2016 07:29:20 -0300

I admit my first reaction to this thread was that it's a storm in a
teacup, but a member I really respect ended up leaving.  I don't want
to mention her username here, so this is even more of "intended for
me" than everything else.  But reading her comments gives some idea of
the fears involved with domestic abuse.


Misplaced Intuition and Online Communities

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Mon, 18 Jan 2016 20:34:15 -0300

I spent ages writing
and am still unhappy with how it came out.

This isn't a new concern.  I think my post from when I left Quora
describes something similar - that social sites play on our instincts
and desires in ways that we poorly understand.

So, it seems to me, a "socially responsible" site shoukd somehow try
to balance the temptation to "confess to close friends" with a
constant reminder of the dangers.

While I obviously can't imagine what it's like to be scared of being
traced online, I can imagine the lulling effects of familiarity.  This
is why online anonymity is so damn hard.

And so there's a conflict.  The value of obscuring more information is
easy to see.  But the cost in making the site more appealing is hard
to imagine.

I have no idea what the right choice is myself.  I hope the community
has gone with the right one.


Was This Mansplaining?

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Fri, 22 Jan 2016 15:27:10 -0300

I'm worried now it was mansplaining.  FML.

I am actually good at computers

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Fri, 22 Jan 2016 15:51:38 -0300

Apprehension confirmed :o(

The Best Of All Possible Worlds

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Sat, 6 Feb 2016 13:04:23 -0300

When it comes to paying politicians.

Intellectual Variety

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Mon, 15 Feb 2016 21:11:41 -0300

You need intellectual variety there if for no other reason than to
  force the justices to up their games. Otherwise it becomes an echo

In the middle of this thread:


Death By Bean

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Sun, 21 Feb 2016 09:45:57 -0300

In which OP forces themselves to vomit because they ate a day old bean.


Deserving Trump

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Sun, 1 May 2016 17:32:25 -0300

Not sure I will hit post on this.

In reply to

  sure, but at the same time there seems to be (and i realise you're
  in canada fffm - this isn't a personal shot at you) no sign of any
  collective responsibility for what is happening.  couldn't the
  coverage by the american media - the obsession with entertainment -
  be partly to blame?  isn't that media (sans fox) largely centre/left
  (see wh dinner)?  shouldn't america - collectively - take some kind
  of responsibility for that?  yet what i hear (here, on mefi) is
  almost always rhetoric that paints trump as the other.  a tactic
  that lets "left wing" america off the hook.  from outside it looks a
  little odd: #notallamericans.

  maybe the argument is that this is still an internal issue; that the
  time for talk of collective responsibility is after the election.
  or that i am placing unfair restrictions on what is, essentially, a
  discussion between americans, on a site for americans; one not
  intended for outside consumption.  or it's a tactical move intended
  to win the election.  i guess i am partly trying to square what i
  read about trump with what i have learnt here about punching up and
  down: when the rest of the world says to the usa "fix your shit,"
  will the americans i know here turn round and say "not my fault?"
  if so, how does that work?

  maybe all i am saying is that my remark was intended more as an
  observation on american culpability than a statement that anyone in
  particular deserves a racist, misogynist, queerphobic, president.


Your diamond is a beaten up mess

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Tue, 24 May 2016 15:02:44 -0400

While I am sure there's a germ of truth in this answer, I can't help
but suspect that the reason it's receiving so many upvotes is that it
is reassuring all the Mefite that buy engagement rings that there's a
*reason* why they devalue so quickly.

Just like the politics threads, all people want to hear is that they
did OK, that their version of the world is correct.

And here I am like some frustrated teenager, staring at them and
wondering why is has to be like this.  What's wrong with me?



From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Thu, 16 Jun 2016 17:00:29 -0400

Just wanted to make a note of a deleted comment from oneswellfoop,
claiming that McCain (the US Senator) was pro-torture because it
worked on him.


Hit Me

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Sat, 16 Jul 2016 10:43:46 -0400

this post, and the previous one on transgender people, have a certain
irony.  both only make sense within a context that already gives
certain privileges to the people complaining.

here we've got someone in turkey wanting posts about turkey,
complaining that others are being insular.  wtf?  wouldn't the
argument would carry a whole lot more weight if they were asking for
posts about somewhere else?  how are americans posting about america
worse than turks that want posts about turkey?

the context, of course, is that americans - more accurately, mefites -
aspire to being multi-cultural.  so even if the complaining turk wants
to focus (myopically) on their own news, they have some kind of right
to criticise those that aspire to be better.

and there's something similar in the previous thread where - again -
there are angry posts criticising allies for being lazy, bad people.
again, this only works from a position of privilege that has allies.

i guess there are lots of mefites with "hit me" tattooed across their



From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Sun, 13 Nov 2016 20:28:32 -0300

Oh god...  this is a match just made in heaven / hell

I don't agree with everything (most) of the following link, but I
understand the characterisation of Mefi:


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