I run a loose organization of human rights advocates and volunteers, many of whom are young — high school or college — and from all over the world. Doing human rights work can be clear: no one should be detained without trial, regardless of who they are. And generally we try to keep our focus on these clear lines.

However, we work in the context of bigger pictures, and the narratives around those bigger pictures can be diametrically opposed, even among those of us committed to individual human rights. …


ICE and CBP are out of control. The evidence for this is overwhelming:

When they realized that I wasn’t going to sign, they called over ICE Supervisor Dover who lunged at me and put his hand on my neck” — The Southern Poverty Law Center has filed detailed complaints regarding ICE officers’ pattern and practice of physical and verbal coercion, which they found unlawful and tantamount to torture.

Doctors who were able to access CBP facilities have described horrific conditions for children. …


“You must die.” The woman spoke dispassionately, her face blank.

The jowly man chained at the ankle squinted across the room at her. His glasses had broken in the struggle, so were there subtle clues to read he might have missed them anyway. His face betrayed a racing chain of emotions, flickering from fear to contempt to calculation. Which of his enemies sent her? He decided to respond with mild obsequiousness, to buy time and gather information. Perhaps he could win her over, convert her to his side.

“Hold on miss — I don’t even know your name? Why must…


Our pool had turned into a swamp. On July 23, 2020, we’d finished draining, cleaning and painting it, and were just starting to fill it back up when the thunder came…and with it, the toads. About 8–10 smallish spotted toads frolic’d through the night, and in the morning when we moved them to safer locales, they left behind a lovely gelatinous mass of floating eggs.

And thus, began our saga.

By Aug 1, not only did we have hundreds of tadpoles…

…but we already had our first batch of toadlets. Nine days from sparkle in a toads eye to toadlet hopping away in the Santa Cruz. (We drove the first batch…


I wrote this piece several years ago but never posted it. Posting it now in case any of the ideas here are useful.

Statement of Problem:

False information presented as fact and shared on social media is obviously a serious problem.

Popularity of an item does not generally equate to truthfulness. So ‘like’s, even pagerank, is not a reliable indicator of actual truth. We need some sort of score that does a best-effort attempt to estimate the real world truthfulness of any given statement.

First, what do we mean by statement? A statement for this purpose is a blob of text + some…


On December 11, 2019, @jack of Twitter posted a commitment to fund an open source team to decentralize social media. Lots of folks have already been working towards this: @arcalinea wrote an excellent review of the state of the decentralized web in January 2020. I also wrote a backgrounder RFC 1 with sample user stories, outlining the major challenges and my initial evaluation of the existing efforts. Now, I’d like to make an initial proposal how to tackle the problem. Critical comments welcome!

Let’s start with some abstractions.

First off, let’s recognize that some problems require scale to solve well…


Telling bad policy, bad political theories or models, from good is not hard — does it harm innocent people? Ah, you say, but at a certain level of goverment all policy harms someone.

The test is, when we find a particular innocent person harmed, what is the response?

A good model will include value for transparency and investigation into the harm done, will try to rectify it both in a case by case and on a more general level.

A bad one will try to shut up the person and the reporter, stonewalling and then attacking, perhaps retaliating and in…


“They had a quota. This is common knowledge in Xinjiang.” These words struck a chilling resonance with me, when I was speaking this morning to someone close to one of the young men in the Uyghur labor camps. I had asked how he had been taken.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote about the Communist Party’s system of quotas in Russia, in which political prisoners would be arrested by the numbers.

“Send 200!” — meant make 200 arrests. “Ship 240 boxes of soap” referred to a requirement of 240 prisoners to be sent. …


Happy birthday, America! Or if not happy, then at least in pursuit of it. The inspirational sentiments in the Declaration of Independence have always been aspirational — that is, things we aspire to even if they are not current reality. We declared that “all men are created equal” while slavery was still a reality. Now we celebrate the “inalienable right” to Liberty while some refugees are detained without trial for months in unspeakable conditions. Yet the hope for Liberty and the opportunity to live freely, still draws people to America from all over the world.

We have a republic worth…

Golda Velez

Mom, Software Engineer, Tucsonan. Like connection, community, fun and algorithms for increasing opportunity. Also for identifying bullshit. @gvelez17

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