Family planning is now easier for women: Plan C Pills + Telemedicine + Internet

Three technology changes are helping give women an easier option with an unwanted pregnancy: Plan C Pills + telemedicine + Internet.  These constitute a breakthrough that has safely helped many women through a difficult time that often involves unwanted pressures and confusion. How might this be used more widely?

Well, it is happening, but can happen more.  For instance, “Plan C pills”(mifepristone/RU-486; Misoprostol) constitutes the majority of abortions in many parts of Europe: 70 percent in Switzerland, 83 percent in Sweden, and 94 percent in Finland.

Plan C Pills have been legal in the United States for years, but may not be leveraged as much because of the combination of restrictive laws, our clinic structure, and education.  Some are rethinking this.

Maybe we could think of Plan C Pills as a birth control pill.  Plan B pills, or the “morning-after pills”, are a form of that.  Plan C Pills certainly control birth, and some of the other terms, like “medical abortion” may lead to confusion with surgical procedures needing clinics.  Like Plan B, Plan C was first developed by women without pharmaceutical company support– I would like to find the full histories of these– it is fascinating that they came from below.  But the point is, that these come from women trying to help women.

Many are using Plan C Pills with a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach, not requiring a clinic, and indeed it is done quite a bit (numbers are hard to come by).  The medicated approach has been found to be safer than giving birth.  And doing it yourself can also be less expensive than taking pills at a clinic for $490 in the United States since the pills are often delivered for $65 (in other countries), and cost more like $5 to manufacture.

With smart phones or Internet connections becoming more common, telemedicine access, via skype or similar systems, to doctors could help women and doalas (helpers). When a woman has questions, having a secure, private connection to a trusted doctor could avoid a trip to the hospital.

Internet websites are starting to provide useful information such as Plan C Pills , and women on the webFree classes over the Internet could also help train doulas and other professionals.  More can be done to help spread reliable information at a time when “fake news” abounds especially for women seeking family planning information.  In the past, novels, graphic novels, popular songs, AA-like workshops, after school classes have helped get information to those in need, with or without institutional support.

How this all plays out in different states and countries will depend on access to information/education (both official and non-official), support networks (again both official and non-official), and access to pills (yes, again, both official and non-official).   Legal aid groups are starting to appear to help when it comes to that.

I find it interesting that new and existing support structures are leveraging this opportunity to help women have even better options than they had 40 years ago.


Thank you, Ebersblog.

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Collector or Digital Librarian?

Do you think more often of your date of birth or date of death?
Do you think of the start or the end?
Do you think of the project or the deadline?
Do you think of your journey or your legacy?
How much substance is there in your soul verses value in your impact on others?

I imagine these are the differences between the Collector and the Digital Librarian. The collector seems to want to experience, to learn and also to share. The collector discovers, understands and reveals to others.

The digital librarian has no long term memory other than what is captured in the library. Where the collector lives for life’s expressive expanses, a digital librarian is designing for not-being-here-anymore. When a doctor says, as the end nears, “you should get your affairs in order…” it is gloomy, foreboding, and tragic to the collector. The Digital Librarian says, “That is all I ever do.”

It is not that the Digital Librarian does not want to live forever—in fact that may be the driving emotion—it is just the method to live forever is not corporal, it is informational. We fight mortality through trying to share, and share permanently.

In creating the Great 78 Project, I have wanted to keep the notes of what records were in whose collections. I believe this may be the most important thing—more important than the recordings—what records were together?

If we want to understand a time or a life, it is made up of those groupings. As a Digital Librarian I want to illuminate for others those lives, those perspectives — I want to not lose those past lives through reorganization. But I don’t think I will be the one to learn from these lives, those choices, those perspectives. It will be other people, or even machines that will learn from these assemblies.

Bill Dunn said in the mid 1980s, “The metadata is more important than the data itself.” Astonishing—how did he know? He came up with the term “metadata” with Mitch Kapor around that time.

Collections are metadata and metadata of great value if these reflect a life’s choices. Those life’s choices may be the most valuable part of the Great 78 collection.

As a Digital Librarian, I feel I should, I must preserve this, share this.

But it is not for me, it passes through me. I am a Digital Librarian, not a collector.

I hope I do a good job during my brief stay on this earth.

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The Great 78 Project

Announced a month ago with 15,000 digitized “sides” of 78 RPM records, I am trying to understand it and to understand myself through it. B George of the Archive of Contemporary music is also the Internet Archive’s music curator but he does not know as much about 78s because he specializes in LPs — mostly from the 1980s on. So we have donated collections and he is going through them and picking large sections to be digitized. The slant on our contribution of recordings to this project really comes from the collections that have come in.

Barrie Thorpe collected and donated to the Batavia Public Library in Illinois decades go, we have that collection of maybe 40,000 records. “Tercat” is from Rhode Island. A collection of polka, others…

I am interested in keeping the collections together because I think that is where much of the value is, but I am not sure. Maybe these are not original collections but remixes by the next generation.

I want to know what the early 20th century sounded like. Midwest, different countries, different social classes, different immigrant communities and their loves and fears. I am not looking for the great record, the unfound gem, I don’t think. At this point I am looking for ‘discovery’, for inspiration, for leads I can follow up on, maybe I am looking for a rationale for spending time and money digitizing this stuff.

As a librarian, I see justification through others — is it useful? Did someone say “thank you” or “I love what you do”? But what is this collection or collection of collections? “Selection” is easily muted if you go for “comprehensive” — an easy out.

But what is this? How about a “modern discography”? A reference collection that is more than a listing in a book of the releases of a particular label — more than one that has pictures of the labels. This one has the digitized sound recordings.

This “reference collection” moniker works because we do not really care if we have the physical disc (though that is nice because we can go back to it to re-record or study it, or at least know it is safe). What we want is it to be findable with a click.

For instance, I am reading a book called, “Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records” by Amanda Petrusich. In it, she talks of many records, performers, labels, collectors, re-issues. I want to click on the paper page and hear it. I want citations to turn into blue links so I can more deeply understand what she is talking about. Is this weird? I don’t think so. Footnotes were always supposed to be hyperlinks, we just did not have the tech with paper. But now we have ebooks — let’s bring the citations to life. To do this we need a reference collection, ta-da.

But there is something more for me personally — I get a thrill as the materials come online. Each disk is a revelation. It feels like when I was in college and I would buy a used record for $3 and bring it home and play it — “retail therapy.” Ownership and discovery and possession. We just made a Twitter feed out of the newly available digitized 78s… we will see if anyone else likes it.

I also like playing a list of 78s based on a search — all hillbilly, all yodeling, all by a performer. It is less curated than a compilation LP or CD. It is serendipitous. It is kind of random. It has discovery feelings. Maybe if it is a new way to find things more like how Youtube goes from one video to the next. A new thing?

So what is this? A reference collection? A collector’s dream? A discovery radio station? The soundtrack of the early 20th century? All Good. All Fun.

All told, I would say the Great 78 Project is building a reference collection.

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Upgraded Secure Communications Applications I am Now Using

I am upgrading the security of my communications while still being easy to use. I thought I would share what I currently use in case it is helpful to copy and I would appreciate comments.

I want end-to-end encryption so nobody can intercept what I am saying (unless they have infected my phone or computer, but that is another issue), and bonus points for making it so that it is unknown who I am communicating with and when (private metadata and traffic). Skype, phonecalls, sms/texts, slack and email are now known to not be private (at least by default) thanks to Edward Snowden. This is too bad since I still use these.  (Slack is not end-to-end encrypted even for direct messages, which it could and should.) So far I have only partially achieved the first step: end-to-end encryption. I am migrating to:

  • Signal for point-to-point instant messaging replacing sms and skype. Free software, free of cost, and open source, works on smart phones, and with a chrome-based desktop Signal app on my Mac (which is what I mostly use).   It uses phone numbers as identifiers, which is kind of a pain.  EFF friend called this “best of breed” for security. Small development staff. I have donated.
  • for 1-on-1 and small group video chat that is end-to-end encrypted replacing Skype. This does not require a download or an account. Go to the homepage, type a bunch of characters to make a meeting room, then send the resulting url to someone and they can use that throw-away meeting room.  Super easy. Uses webrtc (now standard in browsers), and https with it, they say it is end-to-end encrypted.   They have a iphone app as well, but don’t know about security. This does not seemed designed for super high security, but seems to be pretty good.
  • for larger group video chats replacing Webex. Free of cost for most of my uses, easy to use (requires download, but is super easy) . It says it is end-to-end encrypted with a little lock icon when in use and encrypted.
  • Facetime occasionally on my iphone replacing cellphone calls to friends with an iphone.  Apple says that it is end-to-end encrypted.
  • Thunderbird + Enigmail to sign all email, receive encrypted email, and sometimes sending encypted Email, with an organizational email server ( not gmail).  Enigmail is moderately hard to set up, I had help in a meetup.  Cost free, and I believe free and open source software. I am donating.
  • encrypted notes file (the mac Notes app) on my mac for high priority secure notes. It syncs the encrypted file with my iphone via icloud.
  • Breadwallet, bitcoin wallet on my iphone, for small amounts of bitcoin for casual purchases.  Super easy and a full wallet (does not hang off a server). Love this wallet. Cost free.  I invested a tiny amount of money in the company– great guys.
  • Torbrowser for private web browsing beyond Firefox’s Private browsing feature.  Free and open source software, cost free. I have donated.

Any comments or ideas are welcome. I realize have traded off security for ease of use.  I hope stronger tools get easier and I suggest we all invest in tools based on donations and development help.  I wish I knew my mac and iphone were not compromised.  Not sure how to do that.

I have tried ricochet as an instant messaging client that secures who I am talking to via Tor, easy to use, but few I know use it, so I don’t use it often.  I have tried encrypting my email using pgp via enigmail but have run into trouble with others being able to read it, so I do not encrypt email by default. As an aside, encryption is related in a funny way to content-addressible systems, which is a different subject, but this is magic and the future.

—– From a commenter: —–

Web search:  DuckDuckGo or     (thank you, Reinout)

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Using for Supplies Globally– uh, Not Yet

amazon-unhappyI thought I was so clever– instead of buying all the parts for our books scanners from industrial vendors then assembling&testing&reshipping from Richmond California, we could send many parts to where they were needed and assemble in our scanning centers.  We wanted to buy all the parts through, all on one amazon business account, which would make it easy to track.  We thought we could try this for a scanning center in Hong Kong.

Well, here are the problems we encountered:
1) the prices for cameras and lenses were 30% more than if we bought from selected stores we could bargain with,
2) some vendors would not ship internationally,
3) most electronics vendors had limits on how many you could buy, like 2 or 4 or 5. What a pain. Even “amazon basics” were limited,
4) a couple of the vendors only had a couple in stock,
5) shipping to Hong Kong means deliveries take at least 9-10 days because they come from the US,
6) shipping to Hong Kong is expensive because there is no Prime or free shipping or local delivery.

All in all it took hours after we had figured out which ones we wanted.  (thank you Salem!)

So we ended up making many sub-accounts for our business account to get around some limits, have to wait for restocking from others, and shifting around vendors. On the positive side, we could use our business credit card to get a kickback in miles, and we also used to try to get a kickback to Internet Archive.   We should have used the affiliate code, which would might have given us a bit more of a kickback.

Oh, well. is meant for individual consumers– and for that it works well.   For this application, not so much.


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Content Addressing is Magic

It is conjuring from the ether, it is wishing things into your hands, it is just saying its name and it will appear. It is pure magic. And it may become a very important part of our future– in the Decentralized Web and beyond.

“The great thing of the web is that now knowledge has an address,” said Peter Lyman, the University Librarian of UC Berkeley 20 years ago of the URL, which means that people can build easily on other’s knowledge. Now we can add something: “Content addressibility means that knowledge has a name.” A name can be better than an address because addresses sometimes become obsolete. (Peter Lyman was one of the first board members of the Internet Archive and, I believe, came up with the term “Born-Digital” to describe materials had never been printed– a new thing in 1996).

What am I talking about? This might sound to simple to stand up these big claims, but bear with me. This is one of the big things I have learned from the Decentralized Web work.

Content Addressing starts by processing a digital file into a “hash” which is roughly 64Bytes, or 64 character long string of numbers (using sha256). This hash is has amazing properties– given a hash you can confirm that a digital file matches it, further given a hash it is very very difficult to create the digital file. And, here is the kicker, given a hash it is almost impossible to create a second digital file that matches it, but was not exactly the same as the original.

Therefore, a “hash” is a name for a file in the sense that if you have a hash you are looking for, and someone hands you a file, you can confirm it, and you do not have to trust who gave it to you– they can not fake or counterfeit the file. The file either has the same hash or not.

That the hash is very short, like 64 characters, and can name a multigigabyte file means that moving around these hashes is very efficient. The Internet Archive has 17 petabytes of web data, but all of the hashes are only 22terabytes. Therefore to give every web object a unique name, it only takes 0.1% of the size.

So, with a hash, one can address content directly, ask for it by name, and confirm if what you are given matches. The most common application of this is in the BitTorrent system, but it is widely used. In bittorrent, one can start with a “magnet link”, which is a hash, and asked the “decentralized hash table” DHT, and it will help you retrieve the file that matches that hash, in this case a “torrent” file. A torrent file, in turn, contains a list of hashes of pieces of files that can then be retrieved through the bittorrent protocol, and after this magic is done, then you will have a set of files on our hard drive that came from 10s or thousands of others all over the net.

Therefore, if there are others on the peer-to-peer network that are serving files, and you have a hash, then you can ask the network to give you that matching file or piece of a file, and there can be no counterfeiting.


Why this can be important that materials can be served from many places, served from libraries and archives, and keep permanently available long after the original server is gone. I think of it as a way to have the same book be in many libraries, and even if the publisher goes away, and several of the libraries merge, you still have a chance to get the book. This is different from a website, where if the website goes away, you are either out of luck or if something like the Wayback Machine has a copy, you are saved, but you have to trust us. So in a way, this hash idea is bringing back some nice features back from the printed era. A much more reliable system of digital publishing is possible in this way.

(This is how IPFS, Zeronet, DAT, and just about every decentralized system works, but I think still it is under-appreciated magic. Next miracle I will describe is how cryptographically signed files can bring us the next step: updatable digital files that are served from everywhere and nowhere.)

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Successful German Model for Permanently Tenant-Friendly Housing

Started in 1989 and now made up of 107 apartment buildings in Germany, a network of housing projects called Mietshäuser Syndikat, have locked themselves into a structure that allows almost complete autonomy for each housing project, with a couple of exceptions: the building can not be sold or condo-ized without the permission of a central organization.

This form of “some rights reserved” housing provides more security for the tenants from market-based rent fluctuations and evictions.    It also provides a structure and advice network for those wanting to build tenant housing associations that will own and control their buildings over a long term.

In the United States, I have seen people drawn to the urban land trust structure for some of these advantages.   This German model has the advantage of a fixed, and low, fee structure (2.5 cents per square foot per month) and a transparent and very limited set of rights reserved for the central entity.   In this way, the central entity is deliberately limited to a small function to keep autonomy in the housing projects themselves.

I have been interested in restricting new debt being put a member building, but that is a step further than this model does.   In the case of Foundation Housing, the benefits are allocated to non-profit use, either by accumulating assets or lower-than-market usage fees.    So this German system is a step in these directions, and given their rapid uptake, a successful step.

I hope this ideas spreads!

Thank you to Ben Woosley for pointing this out to me.


The joint venture



Posted in Housing, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Custom School Short Video Description and Short Video by Kid having done it



And, for more good news, Logan got into Cornell a year earlier than his years would suggest, and he is doing well there.   So custom schooling has been working well.

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Paper on systems like Foundation Housing

Housing for non-profit workers does not seem to be represented in this paper, but union housing, or permanently affordable housing is.   And hence, I suggest worth reading.

The paper from 1996 usefully describes experiences with Community Land Trusts in urban areas and Mutual Homes Association (which I have loved since discovering Richmond’s successful Atchison Village). 

This paper brings context to those working on a “third sector” (not public housing, or for-profit housing).

I liked this paper because it gave real examples of success and failures and tried to draw conclusions and trends.  Unfortunately, most of the groups they studied were under 10 years old.   I hope they update this study, or if anyone knows of an update, I would like to see it.    Unvarnished experience is valuable.




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Divertissement for Warming Orchestra #D4

Having just gone to the symphony tonight, I would like to propose a new piece of music, called Divertissement for Warming Orchestra.

Here is the “score”: It is a form of call-and-response.  When the orchestra is warming up, any player plays a short segment of a familiar tune.  Then someone else in the orchestra responds, maybe with the next part, maybe something as a riff.  For instance a small part of twinkle twinkle, or Alice’s Restaurant, or Gilligan’s Island theme, or Star Wars, or …

The little back and forth can go on for no longer than 30 seconds, and not be obvious.  It has to just tickle the ear, fire a neuron, and then be gone.  If the conductor looks like she might come on, then it is to stop.  The musicians are not to show any indication they are doing this, so this piece is to be heard but not seen.

Anonymous, crowd sourced, guerrilla music might just make being in the audience before the performance really fun.

If you believe this piece has been played, maybe tweet about it with hashtag #D4   (as in “Divertissement for”).  If your orchestra is banned from playing this piece, then also tweet #D4.

We will know this piece is successful if it is banned in symphonies in several cities beginning with C.

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