From the desk of Sherif Soliman

2024.07.07 16:08 PDT / 23:08 UTC
My computer, CDs, and music library tending


2024.05.29 21:04 PDT / 04:04 UTC

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand —
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep — while I weep!
O God! Can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

Edgar Allan Poe, “A Dream Within a Dream”

2024.05.19 14:17 PDT / 21:17 UTC
Screenshot of the top of the blog post page

Remember Ello.co?

Andy Baio’s blog post The Quiet Death of Ello’s Big Dreams is a good, sad, predictable telling of what happened to the site. Predictable, although I think Paul Budnitz (initial founder and CEO) ends up looking way worse than I expected. Not surprising given his later NFT/metaverse ventures.

2024.05.12 12:36 PDT / 19:36 UTC

We know that the universe is infinite, expanding and strangely complete, that it lacks nothing we need, but in spite of that knowledge, the tragic paradigm of human life is lack, loss, finality, a primitive doomsaying that has not been repealed by technology or medical science. The arts stand in the way of this doomsaying. Art objects. The nouns become an active force not a collector’s item. Art objects.

Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery by Jeanette Winterson, 1996, p. 19.

2024.05.08 20:32 PDT / 03:32 UTC

You know, it hasn’t been the breeziest of weeks, but thankfully I’ve received my monthly email reassuring me that I’m “on a roll on LinkedIn!”, and boy does it make it all worth it.

2024.04.15 00:02 EDT / 04:02 UTC
Screenshot from music video of Aquamarine by Danger Mouse and Black Thought featuring Michael Kiwanuka

I’ve had Aquamarine by Danger Mouse and Black Thought (featuring a beautiful chorus by Michael Kiwanuka) on repeat for days. I’m stuck on the track, and I’m stuck on the music video, both of which I find very moving.

[Chorus: Michael Kiwanuka]

Everything’s burning down
When I close my eyes and pretend
Enemies all around
I don’t understand, my friend, my friend

[Black Thought]

Twilight is a message for me to write as a confession
The matrix, a dominatrix seeking to be served
Ever patiently waiting with the demons we deserve
Better be willing to pay with every dream that you deferred
If the vehicle should swerve, learn to lean into the curve

All of Cheat Codes is honestly… it’s very good.

2024.04.04 21:37 PDT / 04:37 UTC
Photo of a burrito in a paper bag.

Happy National Burrito Day to those who observe.

2024.03.19 12:15 PDT / 19:15 UTC

I wanted to be sure of the quiet gentle reason that I bear
And the honest waves of wonder, here lay gone
And in their place a sadness big and wide

So as to swallow up my joy, and long may be my life
This anger I can’t tame
And the fire that burns inside; yeah, I’m alive

So close up my eyes, cause I don’t want to see that I still feel the same after all this time
In the bathroom, in the mirror, in the light
Have you ever felt so bad you cannot cry?

I bear the mark, I am sigil to the spirits and the sprites
But I promised not to listen and stay in my life

2024.03.02 20:33 PST / 04:33 UTC

What is going on with the excessive fake Portrait mode-like blur in the new Tokyo Vice season? It looks ridiculous. This dude’s hair is blurry.

2024.02.25 14:41 PST / 22:41 UTC

We all feel the pull to be Rust. Truth is many of us are actually Marty. And the answer is probably being more Maggie.

Some thoughts on self-censorship

2024.02.09 22:50 PST / 06:50 UTC

This post is a response to Jason’s post on self-censorship.

I appreciate Jason writing out a clear and succinct post. I’m afraid I wasn’t as capable or restrained.

I think self-censorship is a real problem. I think there has to exist a fourth category (see Jason’s post for context), a super important category imho, of thoughts that when shared result in “having a pretty bad time”. But before I get there, we have to define what we mean when we say “censorship”.

I’ll use “free speech” as an analogy. “Free speech” has a legal interpretation and a practical one. Legally it’s codified in the First Amendment; it’s about what laws Congress can or can’t pass when it comes to expression, that’s it.1 Like people who like to mock others who invoke the idea of free speech online often say, the First Amendment says nothing about what private companies allow or prohibit on their networks/premises. But the practical meaning is about the spirit, the behavior of society in the main, practical consequences, the behavior of the mob (where mob is not used pejoratively, but to mean the behavior of a cohesive group that is unchecked in the current arena), and I think that’s a meaning that matters just as much as the legal one. To make the point with an extreme/straw-manny example, so what if the government won’t put you in jail if you say something if you become ostracized by your professional and personal tribes, shunned into a life of solitude? Is that a community where free speech thrives?

As with free speech, I think the “censorship” in – reasonable invocations of – “self-censorship” doesn’t refer to legal proceedings or redaction of speech. It refers to choosing silence to avoid not just “lots of people disagreeing with them”, but a collective mass of negative consequences that is disproportionate to the expression of a minority offensive opinion, even if it doesn’t mean jail or physically removing your speech from all publication. And that’s reasonable. If it means an employer might fire you, if it means people protest at your home or your job, if it means they harass your family, that still passes the threshold to me.

Okay, back to the presence of a fourth category. I think there surely is a fourth type of opinion not covered by Jason’s post that people share that results in “having a pretty bad time”, which is an opinion that is objectively or morally correct, but is considered blasphemous or corrupt or immoral by the current large majority. That’s the type of opinion that, once upon a time, claiming the Earth was round, denying the existence of a monotheistic god, and thinking gay people should be able to get married belonged to. All of those were opinions that when shared resulted in “having a pretty bad time” at a particular time. Now we think differently, but people had to die.

I hope it doesn’t seem like I’m splitting hairs here, because I think that fourth category is everything. It’s so important to our growth. And we have grown, in that in the West we no longer think anyone should die for saying something. That’s the legal side mostly solved. But – most? – people who complain about free speech or (self) censorship refer to the second meaning, a very real meaning. How do we as a society balance condemning abhorrent views while allowing for whatever today’s equivalent of “the Earth is round” to be said without drowning its sayer? How do we differentiate between when it’s right to think someone should be fired for saying something and when we should disagree – hotly if necessary – but as the quote goes, defend to death their right to say it?

All to say, I think self-censorship might be an idea invoked disingenuously by some, but is still real, and still worth thinking about.

  1. yes yes, this is US-centric. 

2024.02.02 22:31 PST / 06:31 UTC


Happy Bandcamp Friday.

2024.02.02 19:56 PST / 03:56 UTC

I wish OmmWriter wasn’t abandoned and buggy. There’s nothing else like it out there.

2024.01.30 20:45 PST / 04:45 UTC

Conscience do cost.

Butchie, The Wire