This website was archived on July 21, 2019. It is frozen in time on that date.

Sonya Mann's active website is Sonya, Supposedly.


I am releasing a handful of #YangGang designs into the public domain, using the license CC0 1.0 Universal. The art was originally intended for T-shirts, so the full-size files are large and high-resolution.

Because of the CC0 license, you can distribute the designs, edit them, remix them, use them in products, incorporate them into advertising… whatever you want. Attribution is not required, although it would be appreciated 😊

All of the third-party visual assets that I used were available with equivalent permissive licenses (on websites like Unsplash) or were created by me. (For example, I drew the portrait of Yang’s face.) My primary tool was Pixelmator, with a splash of PhotoMosh for flavor.

Full-size files, plus the Pixelmator versions, are available for download in a Dropbox folder. WordPress wouldn’t let me upload huge images, so the ones below are edited to be smaller.

"Secure the Bag" Andrew Yang 2020 #YangGang design, public domain
full size // Pixelmator file
"Neetbux Nation" Andrew Yang 2020 #YangGang design, public domain, variation 2
full size // Pixelmator file
"Neetbux Nation" Andrew Yang 2020 #YangGang design, public domain, variation 1
full size // Pixelmator file
"Neetbux Nation" Andrew Yang 2020 #YangGang design, public domain, variation 3
full size // Pixelmator file
"$1k Neetbux 2020" Andrew Yang #YangGang design, public domain, dark version
full size // Pixelmator file
"$1k Neetbux 2020" Andrew Yang #YangGang design, public domain, light version
full size // Pixelmator file

In case you’re wondering, I have no affiliation with presidential candidate Andrew Yang or his campaign. I don’t even support his agenda, which I consider to be woefully underspecified. The memes are what got me excited 😜

Granted, the other presidential wannabes don’t impress me either. It’s probably impossible to be a viable candidate while also living up to my standards. That said, I did donate like $5 to help Andrew Yang qualify for the primary debates, and I attended a rally that he held in San Francisco.

What If History But Darkly Amusing

“The writing down of history turned out to be a self-perpetuating activity. Anytime kids asked questions, adults would yell, ‘READ THE FUCKING MANUAL!’ (later shortened to ‘BECAUSE I SAID SO’). These kids, when they grew up, tended to reproduce this behavior. This was called culture.”

“Armed with priestly justifications, and supported by good people, political leaders could finally begin going beyond mere intentions and retcons and actually begin inventing history. They were no longer limited to merely encountering it in the form of unpleasant surprises, and reacting to it on an improvised case-by-case basis. The ability to separately define ‘good’ and ‘people’ allowed history writing to become truly predictable, proactive, scalable and deployable to large populations. Sometimes history could even be written before it happened.”

Quotes from Venkatesh Rao’s very entertaining satirical history of history.

Favorite Quotes from “Shuffleboard At McMurdo”

“Shuffleboard At McMurdo” is a charmingly biting essay about visiting the National Science Foundation’s research station in Antarctica. It was written by Maciej Cegłowski, the entrepreneur behind no-nonsense bookmarking service Pinboard. Cegłowski raised $37,936 on Kickstarter in August, 2015, to fund his journey to the South Pole.

Even those of us who didn’t contribute to the Kickstarter (or weren’t aware of it at the time) can enjoy the written results. Here are my favorite quotes from “Shuffleboard At McMurdo”:

“The point of building McMurdo was to get Americans to the South Pole, part of an unpublicized Antarctic base race with the Soviet Union. No one had been back to the Pole since the Amundsen and Scott expeditions of 1911, and it was the obvious prestige location in Antarctica. Whoever controlled the Pole would control — well, a tiny area of featureless ice cap.”

“The courteous Russians have hoisted an American flag, which the wind is trying to send back to New Zealand. Like blasting your car defroster on a cold day, wind is the price you pay for ice removal in Antarctica. Anywhere there are bare rocks, you’ll find unspeakable gales keeping them that way.”

Photo of Antarctica's McMurdo Station by Eli Duke.
Photo of Antarctica’s McMurdo Station by Eli Duke.

“I have learned that people willing to spend a fortune on Ross Sea travel share a love of grandeur, remoteness, and filling out forms. During our trip south, the passengers have sometimes seemed more interested in the official names of things than in the things themselves. They fight over the map instead of looking out the window. Their idea of heaven would be completing a tax return on Mars.”

“There is a profound connection between Antarctica and space, not just because polar exploration is a great analogue for the space program, but because all kinds of stuff falls onto the ice cap and then gets caught on promontories of rock as the ice narrows and flows down glaciers into the sea. Like bacon bits scraped off a griddle, space rocks accumulate at glacier edges and make life a breeze for collectors, except for the part where they have to come to Antarctica.”

If you enjoyed those quotes, go read the full essay. I also recommend another piece that Cegłowski wrote about the coldest continent, “Scott and Scurvy”:

“Somehow a highly-trained group of scientists at the start of the 20th century knew less about scurvy than the average sea captain in Napoleonic times. Scott left a base abundantly stocked with fresh meat, fruits, apples, and lime juice, and headed out on the ice for five months with no protection against scurvy, all the while confident he was not at risk. What happened?”

Bots Should Punch Up

I came across another delightful Creative Commons post! (The last one was “Just Your Typical Startup Acquisition Announcement”.) It’s called “Bots Should Punch Up”, written by Leonard Richardson, and Beau Gunderson is the person who linked me to it. I’m republishing the essay here, unedited except for one set of punctuation marks. My comments are in brackets. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Over the weekend I went up to Boston for Darius Kazemi’s “bot summit”. You can see the four-hour video if you’re inclined. I talked about @RealHumanPraise with Rob, and I also went on a long-winded rant that suggested a model of extreme bot self-reliance. If you take your bots seriously as works of art, you should be prepared to continue or at least preserve them once you’re inevitably shut off from your data sources and your platform.

We spent a fair amount of time discussing the ethical issues surrounding bot construction, but there was quite a bit of conflation of what’s “ethical” with what’s allowed by the Twitter platform in particular, and website Terms of Service in general. I agree you shouldn’t needlessly antagonize your data sources or your platform, but what’s “ethical” and what’s “allowed” can be very different things. However, I do have one big piece of ethical guidance that I had to learn gradually and through osmosis. Since bots are many hackers’ first foray into the creative arts, it might help if I spell it out explicitly. Continue reading “Bots Should Punch Up”

Aggregating The Aggregation Aggravation

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight dinged Vox for stealing content. Basically, the beef is that Vox reposts infographics from other websites, adding insult to injury by not linking back. Cue media kerfuffle on Twitter (my favorite regular internet occurrence). Ezra Klein, the ego behind Vox, responded with an imitation of an apology called “How Vox aggregates”. Twitchy rounded up some entertaining tweets, but didn’t include all of the best ones, possibly because they hadn’t been posted yet. Here are my favorites, starting with a pun from Jay Rosen:

Jay Rosen aggregation pun
Tweet by Jay Rosen.
Comment by Rusty Foster.
Tweet by Rusty Foster. Hat tip for the title of this post.
let he who is without aggregation throw the first monetized stone
Tweet by Joshua Benton.

Adam Schweigert chimed in, “If you aggregate by posting things without attribution, it’s not on the person you stole from to complain, it’s on you to not be an asshole.” True. Schweigert also accused Vox of aggregating by “taking screenshots and not giving credit.”

if a great deal of your publishing involves aggregating other work and you forget to link back, that's a failure in your editing process
Tweet by Dan Sinker.

In response to Sinker, Brian Boyer said, “Fuck links back. Let’s talk about copyright.” That whole thread is interesting in its discussion of intellectual property and fair use, concepts that the internet has shaken up considerably. But hey, let’s get back to the jokes!

i'm launching a new media company that only publishes apologies for fucking up. i'm gonna be RICH
Tweet by Jessica Roy.

Roy followed up with, “we also delete the apologies and then apologize for deleting them”. (This was a reference to the BuzzFeed nonsense: 1, 2, 3, 4.) Anil Dash claimed that his publication had already “disrupted” her proposed business with a list of ridiculous apologies, to which Roy responded, “my company will aggregate this apology”. Near the end Dash quipped, “We were hacked! And our intern did it. Our intern has been fired, and our next hacking is scheduled for Thursday.”

Explaining Journo Twitter in-jokes is difficult, and everything is less funny out of the stream. Hmm. ONWARD!

i want to just post that entire post copy pasted onto my blog
Tweet by Ed Zitron.

I was extremely tempted to go ahead and enact Zitron’s threat. But I settled for what I’m currently doing. [Update: I copy-pasted Klein’s post on Medium.]

Matt Boggie: “The strawmanning and equivocation in [Vox’s post] is astounding. Apologize, pledge to do better, and get on with it.”

Felix Salmon and others on the need to contribute something substantive.

Alan McLean: “It’s worth asking yourself why everyone else creating [graphics] thinks you’re stealing, but you don’t…”

Adam Steinbaugh, satirizing Vox: “An explainer on how those charts ended up on our website: it saves money.”

Derek Mead: “Pretty impressive when your defense of aggregation is ‘we totally like it when people share our videos!'”

That’s all the Twitter I combed through. Stay tuned for slightly longer #HotTakes.

UPDATE: Tom Gara being snarky:

Sure, Vox may have lifted a couple of 538 charts. But the good news is this means at least two and maybe even three people have read 538.
Tweet by Tom Gara.

And this comment on Politico that made me snort:

“Well, what do you expect from those who bring you the spectacular irony of a publication that is named with the Latin word for ‘voice,’ but doesn’t allow comments?”

Sign up for my newsletter to stay abreast of my new writing and projects.

I am a member of the Amazon Associates program. If you click on an Amazon link from this site and subsequently buy something, I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you).