Chicken soup!

It’s that time of year where chicken soup is very comforting. But you should know:

Commercial chicken soup ain’t shit.

Here’s how to do it right for you and yours. This will produce quite a bit of soup, which you can freeze for later enjoyment.

This is under an hour of total labor and four hours of boiling and simmering. It’s perfect for a cozy Sunday afternoon project and meal.


Two roasted hens

Two bunches of green onion

Two big-ass onions

A big shallot

As many garlic gloves as you like

Big handful of fresh, diced parsley

Hot New Mexico green chiles—fresh, jarred or canned

Soup pasta: Ditalini, Orzo or even spaghetti broken into small pieces

Salt and pepper


First, get all the chicken meat off the bones and set aside.

Everything that isn’t meat—skin, bones, connective tissue—goes in a large stock pot filled with enough water to completely submerge the parts. They should be swimming comfortably.

Boil the bones for 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, get to choppin’: dice all your veggies according to your preferences.

Take your chicken meat and cut into small, spoon-size chunks.

Once the bones are done boiling, use a colander to strain the broth.

Add veggies, but not chiles, to the strained broth and simmer on low for an hour.

Add salt and pepper until it tastes right.

Add half of your chicken and simmer for another hour.

Taste the broth. If it’s too salty from reduction, add water. If it’s too bland, keep seasoning.

Now it’s time to add the green chile. Add a small handful and simmer for 5 minutes. Repeat until broth is spicy enough for your liking.

Add the last of your chicken and half a box of pasta, then simmer until pasta hits your ideal firmness. Want chunkier soup? Add more pasta.

Energize your chickenshit filter

There’s a survival strategy for outsiders I want to tell you about. I like to call it the chickenshit filter.

The best defense is offensive authenticity1

Let’s say you join a new industry. To infiltrate its network, you need to go in with your filter powered down. Go in hot and you’re going to bounce right off again, making no progress.

Once you’re inside, you need to prove your talent and value to a few nodes in the network. Then a few more after that, still, enmeshing yourself and steadying your grip.

If you’re in a marginalized position but you’re getting your feet under you, now it’s time to begin diverting power to your chickenshit filter.

This is your shield against bad actors.

You power the filter by being authentic about your values and your experiences. Telling your truth will unsettle and antagonize people with a stake in the status quo.

Those nodes in the network will recede from you, closing some immediate paths. This is going to be scary at first, since your survival depends on making connections.

It’s for the best: those nodes are poisoned.

It’s better for you to know that ahead of time, instead of when you’re too close and connected to those nodes to cleanly escape their toxic effects.

In their anxiety to defend the existing order, these poisoned nodes will send tremors reverberating around the network. While this behavior can, and far too often does, have abusive expression, it also draws the attention of other nodes who share your values.

Some will negotiate to open a connection and share their support. Others may be reluctant to act openly, but be more receptive to connecting when a safe opportunity presents itself.

More art than science

Calibrating and energizing your filter is tricky work. The  unexpected harmonics of a particularly contentious truth can bring the rage of thousands of hateful, child-like entities. While the network trade for this may include becoming a sort of internet folk hero, you’d be perfectly in your rights to want to avoid it.

You also have to be delicate about how much power you dump into the filter, and over what timeframe. Closing too many paths too fast can leave you scrambling for your next connection.

On the other hand, being too ginger in powering your filter will deprive you of important information. You want to know a given company is full of toxic fuckers well before you walk into their doors. Echoes from your chickenshit filter will help you map the dark unknowns around you.

It’s not easy and it can be pretty scary.

But I think a world where you never get to be honest about your story is even scarier.

  1. Not necessarily. Your mileage may vary, but I thought that would play well on twitter. 

Reddit gives powerful discussion software to everyone—even hate groups

I got this out in a hurry, reframing some previous thoughts I had about how reddit’s re-engagement mechanics let it succeed.

While I stand behind the analysis of the product’s UX for redditors, I wish I’d given the post a little more time to cook. I think there are issues around the culture of reddit’s community, along with issues around the moderator experience, that don’t neatly resolve with the structural twiddling I’ve described.

Still, it worries the shit out of me that reddit uncritically hands hate groups such powerful community software. So read on for an incomplete discussion about how effective design helps in the recruiting of gross crowds on reddit, and how it’s probably both important and possible to fix that. I’ve re-titled the piece in recognition of this limited scope. For transparency, the original title remains in the URL.


Ellen Pao is out at reddit.

Her ouster is unsettling, coming on the heels of a campaign of misogyny that makes me queasy.

Smarter minds than mine will give you analysis of the cultural implications to her tenure and exit. But it’s over and that’s unlikely to change.

Meanwhile, a hive of internet activity lives on. 160 million monthly users is a lot of attention. On the internet, attention is power.1

Power overwhelming

Attention is the power to rebuild an orphanage.

Attention is also the power to demand redress of grievances.

Attention sells products, shapes culture and delivers elections. Attention is a currency—the central currency of the internet.

Reddit is an attention fire hydrant.

In human history, from an engagement perspective, no more effective discussion platform has ever been built. Reddit excels at surfacing interesting content and active discussions: Continue reading Reddit gives powerful discussion software to everyone—even hate groups

  1. I’m not terribly well qualified to address the deeper sociological issues of how reddit was built. This discussion is limited, both by intent and in value, to how to address the parts of reddit that have become superfund sites. 

Orlando to Oregon

or: the implausible story of how I earned my career in technology

“Do you think think I could ever really be somebody? Do something important with my life?”

Jessica paused. My friend and mentor, to her eternal credit, considered my question without any outward reaction to its earnestness or vulnerability.

After a beat she said, “yeah. But only if you get out of here.”

Here was Orlando, Florida. A place of toll highways, endless traffic, humidity and strip malls. I nodded. I understood her immediately. Agreed. I’m pretty sure that’s all we said on the subject.

But in my mind, a new program was allocating memory and processing resources to consider how I might escape.

Stuck in the mud

I was in Orlando because I’d followed the marketing of a diploma mill all the way across the country. I’d been told my entire childhood that I had to go to college. I hated the rigidity of school but I couldn’t see my way out of this expectation.

A glossy catalog told stories of film cameras, sound stages, editing bays and beautiful, sunny weather. It also told of a different way to do higher education: hands-on, full of practical experience.

So I signed myself up for the sort of crippling debt only a private college can offer. Two years later, I had a dubious bachelor’s degree and no career prospects. But in the freewheeling days of 2005, retail was always hiring.

Days before I began my job at an Apple Store, the school where I’d studied gave me an offer to work in their marketing department.

With Sallie Mae asking for $1,100 each month, I needed the money.

But I watched my dreams die.

My work wasn’t creative and didn’t engage my passions. Gaps one or two generations wide left me unable to persuade my superiors of how the business could use the crazy power of the internet to further its brand and glitzy propaganda.1

Instead, I wrote reports, built spreadsheets, allocated budgets and optimized landing page copy.

Slowly, all the hopes I had for my future faded. I could make a respectable living. But it didn’t feel like I was living.

Continue reading Orlando to Oregon

  1. Jesus, we could have owned YouTube. It was brand new, ripe for the plucking and no one could have touched us. Could have made that lead source sing

Quora: What careers won’t exist in 30+ years?

I’ve been thinking a lot about automation, capital and social impact, so I couldn’t resist answering:

Meanwhile, anything related to taking orders or taking money will be gone within the decade as well. Cashiering is a holdover from the days of physical money and physical trust. Today, a smartphone or touchscreen kiosk can do all the work of transferring money to a business, along with passing orders to a kitchen or updating an inventory control system.

Computer kiosks don’t demand paid overtime, don’t call in sick and don’t need smoke breaks.