Tom MacWright

tom@macwright.org

Recently

So here’s my suggestion, fellow cis people: stop obsessing over the genitals of people with a particular endocrine disorder. That’s all you’re doing!

Quinn Norton’s ‘Cis People, Stop Thinking About Other People’s Junk All The Damn Time’ was one of my reads. I’m still a fan of Norton, who writes in a candid, fluent way that sometimes feels less stilted but more risky than most writing on sensitive topics.

I’ve been listening to Portamento by The Drums because of this meme.

It was as if the postwar Detroit suburbs used the solvent of home ownership to create a ‘selective melting pot,’ dissolving European ethnics into a gruel called white, while leaving other groups out of the pot altogether–primarily blacks but to some extent Latinos, Asians, and Middle Easterners–to remain distinct in all their supposed inferiority.

I finished reading Driving Detroit, which I heard about from Alex Baca, who reliably gives great reading recommendations and is usually correct about housing and cities. It was a spectacular read, highly recommended as a view of a city with an entirely different illness than the coastal intellectual-labor-centric ones where I’ve lived – but contains vital insights about people and economics in general, as well as more fuel for my grudge against land-ownership.

Round, flat, designer-friendly pseudo-3D engine for canvas & SVG

In the world of programming, Zdog is one of the most fun new libraries I’ve encountered in a while – it makes 3D modeling and animation as intuitive as 2D, and lets you forget about all the materials and maths that you’d need for three.js or other 3D libraries.


I listened to Adam Conover’s ‘Factually!’ podcast - especially the episodes about Autonomous Cars and Homelessness, with Mark Horvath of Invisible People. Invisible People is a YouTube channel of interviews with homeless people, conducted by Horvath, who was previously a Hollywood insider and homeless himself. Many recent videos are from recognizable parts of San Francisco, like this one. It’s no substitute for actually treating homeless people as human, but it certainly helps build an understanding.

The dynamics of homelessness, and how such a ‘rich’ city could be so bad at it, has been a fascination since I moved to SF (and before, when I lived in DC). I came in with a strong sense of some of the things that tech has screwed up – privacy, safety, markets, so-called ethics.

But the discourse around ‘techies’ and the whole-hearted slamming of them as people simply doesn’t make sense. 29-year old techies aren’t the ones who limited housing supply by downzoning swaths of the city – that was Senator Feinstein in the 80s. They didn’t pass wildly regressive tax policy – that happened in 1978. The same tech critics hold uninformed views about housing, and think that upzoning is ‘deregulation’.

Anyway, problems with the tech industry are many. But it’s hard to see how the SF housing crisis is primarily their doing, when the critical mistakes the city made happened well before either tech boom, and since then tech and techies have made few major policy pushes. The analysis that leads you to tech-as-main-culprit-for-housing-crunch is aesthetic and ahistorical. And it’s jarring for people in the same cohort to paint each other as the villains in what’s obviously generational warfare. What some folks are doing is ignoring history, forgetting the real villains, and blaming their friends who just wanted to stop being baristas and maybe earn enough to support a family.

July 01, 2019   @tmcw