Doing Twitter Wrong

Guy Kawasaki, co-founder of and former chief evangelist of Apple, has a pretty active twitter profile. He has over a million followers and I’ve seen his profile turn up on a few “recommended Tweeters” lists. That said, this week I realized his feed is little more than robo-spam.

For context, understand that this is the week that the United States faced bombings at the Boston marathon and had to deal with a deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas. As far as national news goes, it was a rough week. Through it all, Guy’s feed just keep spitting out gems like “Instagram your next pair of Nikes” and “Deadly bird flu in China. Some info.” To his credit, he did eventually start tweeting Boston bombing news, but that’s not the point. What I’m getting at is that his feed now seems to me to be very unnatural, as though it’s programmed well ahead of time and that his only objective is to raise his Klout score (or something similar). He’s free to do that, but it turned me off.

The slideshow below lists some errors in Twitter marketing, one of which I’m at least somewhat guilty (self-promotion). What do you think about these? Any you disagree with? Any to add?

The Flatiron School: Teaching Ruby on Rails in NYC

One of my new favorite places in Manhattan is just a couple of buildings down from the first place I worked in the city. Presently located at 33 W 26th St (I’ve heard a rumor they’re moving this summer), The Flatiron School offers a 12 week course in web development that’s based on Ruby on Rails. Although I couldn’t take a hiatus from work that long to study, it’s a great option for young people looking to get into the field, and for people more my age to make a career change.

My connection to the school is solely in events hosted there. Last week I attended two meetups there, one for the Ruby Blind group (for newbie Rubyists) and also a talk by Lucas Mazza. The Ruby Blind meetup featured David Black, author of “The Well-Grounded Rubyist,” who provided examples of changes coming in the move from Ruby 1.9 to 2.0. Mazza, for his part, talked about the features that make São Paulo based Plataformatec, the company he works for, so great.

If you’re into Ruby, live or work in NYC and have a chance to attend a meetup at The Flatiron School, go for it. And if you’re looking to get into developing and have 12 weeks and whatever the tuition fee is to spare, go for that too.

Forced Evictions Continue In Rio de Janeiro

There seems to be quite a bit of negativity in the international press about Brazil’s ability to be ready for the two upcoming mega-events  the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. Indeed, recent reports of big delays in a few building projects raise valid concerns. With all this pressure to make the deadline, poor homeowners in favelas who ordinarily would have a defined (albeit hellishly bureaucratic  path to obtain legal title to their land are finding themselves forcibly evicted. As you can see in the video below, many are so unprepared for it when it comes that they lose most of their belongings when the home is demolished.

We know this happened in China leading up to the 2008 Summer Olympics, but I doubt the full extent of the human toll of evictions and demolisions will ever be known. We’re only hearing about it from people in Brazil because that nation has a democratic state that has free speech guarantees in place. Yet, individuals merely having a voice isn’t saving people’s homes.

Hats off to those, such as CatComm, standing up to the powers that be in defense of homes and families.

See Also:

CatComm and the Rio Olympics
The Road to Rio – Brazil’s Forced Removals
Providência: 115 Years of Struggle

Brazil’s Ongoing Immigration Crisis

The immigration crisis that began within the past couple of years ago in a Brazilian border town continues. This fresh influx of immigrants was composed of Haitians, likely compelled to look for options due to the 2010 earthquake that devastated major urban areas of their small country. It made sense that they would look to Brazil, given the positive image many Haitians have because of the Brazilian U.N. Peacekeepers that have helped maintain order in their nation for several years. So far the Brazilian government has kept the door open to these new immigrants, offering a path to legalization. The inevitable consequence to this openness is that now people from other nations are trying their luck at crossing into Brazil, following the same route as that taken by the Haitians. The BBC report below features a pregnant woman from the Dominican Republic, although people are also arriving from places as far away as African and Asian nations.

It’s hard to say how this will play out. Brazil has well-defined immigration laws and no particular motivation (such as the humanitarian reasons with regard to Haitians) to legalize immigrants arriving illegally from other nations. At the same time, Brazil is a nation of immigrants that has historically done well in integrating newcomers. I guess we’ll see.

See also:
Haitians in Brazil: A Potential Crisis

Is why the lucky stiff Back?

I don’t know if why the lucky stiff, of Why’s (poignant) Guide to Ruby fame, is back for real. Apparently, no one does. The guy seemingly wants to be left along, and the fact that he renewed a domain and has engaged in other activities online recently don’t necessarily mean he wants a lot of attention. He made great contributions to the Ruby community and then stepped away from the public eye for a time. If he’s back, then great! If not, then all the best to him.

I’d certainly be glad to see his guide to Ruby updated, as it is now not maintained. I hit a problem in chapter four that no forum online could resolve, leading me to believe it’s possibly an issue of deprecated code (granted, I’m also still a somewhat a newbie, so who knows).

In the meantime, I’m following along in Zed Shaw’s “Learn Ruby the Hard Way” and am pleased with the course and my own progress through it. There’s even a built-in comments section that functions as a forum to resolve difficulties, and Zed is active in responding where needed.

See Also:
Wikipedia article on why the lucky stiff
_why’s site is back up (Hacker News thread)
After Disappearing For More Than 3 Years, Why The Lucky Stiff Returns To The Internet (TechCrunch)

Franciscan Benediction

Franciscan Benediction
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

Book Review: The Irresistible Revolution

“If by evangelical we mean one who spreads the good news that there is another kingdom or superpower, an economy and a peace other than that of the nations, a savior other than Caesar, then yes, I am an evangelical." Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution.

Having heard Shane Claiborne speak at The Justice Conference this year, and also not long ago at an event at Park Avenue Christian Church in Manhattan, I thought I should also read his well-known book, “The Irresistible Revolution.” It was a good book, and very much what I take to be his “style.” In this book he shares his experiences as an Christian activist, an “ordinary radical.” It’s story after story from his life, all driving at certain key points.

There is one issue I’d like to address up front. Shane seems to be making the case that Jesus’ command to the rich young ruler to sell all he had, give it to the poor and then become a disciple is a universal command, one that well-meaning Christians avoid by reasoning it away. That really doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Although I get that he thinks this is somehow a universal command for all who would follow Jesus, Shane’s subsequent comments in the book that demonstrate respect and acceptance for Christians who do not sell all and embrace of life of poverty (or perhaps more aptly said, “sufficiency”). Further it seems to me abundantly clear that Jesus command to that man was truly personal, and not universal. Elsewhere in the New Testament we read about rich and poor Christians (and their divisions) in the church without specific criticism being given to the rich for not embracing poverty. If anything, they are chastised for not being humble and for not treating the poor with genuine respect and concern.

Beyond that, this was an encouraging and engaging book, one that gave me pause often with thought-provoking observations. The question after a book like this is whether those thoughts will turn into action.

It’s easy as well to see some of the major influences in Shane’s thinking through what he wrote. Aside from Gandhi and Mother Teresa (and, of course, Jesus!), I also saw clearly the marks of Walter Wink and Walter Brueggemann. The myth of redemptive violence is repeatedly called out in this book, and Shane calls for the church to engage in prophetic imagination.

There were many quotes I’d love to share here from The Irresistible Revolution, but space (and your attention span) will not permit. I’ll close here with one of my favorites, one I shared in a sermon a couple of weeks ago before I’d finished reading. I encourage you to pick up a copy of this title and give it a read.

"But I began to discover ‘the greater things.’ It was not just miracles. I started to see that the miracles were an expression not so much of Jesus’ mighty power as of his love. In fact, the power of miraculous spectacle was the temptation he faced in the desert—to turn stones to bread or to fling himself from the temple. But what had lasting significance were not the miracles themselves but Jesus’ love. Jesus raised his friend Lazarus from the dead, and a few years later, Lazarus died again. Jesus healed the sick, but they eventually caught some other disease. He fed the thousands, and the next day they were hungry again. But we remember his love. It wasn’t that Jesus healed a leper but that he touched a leper, because no one touched lepers. And the incredible thing about that love is that it now lives inside of us. In the verses just after the one about the greater things, Jesus assures us that the Spirit now lives in us. Jesus says that he is going to the Father but will also remain inside of us, and we in him. We are the body of Christ, the hands and feet of Jesus to the world. Christ is living inside of you and me, walking the earth. We shall do even greater things because the love that lived in the radical Christ now lives within millions of ordinary radicals all over the planet.”

See also:
Shane Claiborne At The Justice Conference 2013