Adam Isacson

Defense, security, borders, migration, and human rights in Latin America and the United States. May not reflect my employer’s consensus view.

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Young Fathers Live on KEXP

I was enjoying Young Fathers’ latest album. Then last night, I watched this and immediately got on my phone and bought tickets for when they come through Washington in April.

Photo

Saturday afternoon, holiday market in downtown Washington DC.

Photo

A lamppost with its light on, even though it's daytime. Cloudless sky, trees with yellow and browning leaves on a city street.
Late fall in Washington, DC’s LeDroit Park neighborhood.

Where I’m Posting These Days (Not Twitter)

My Twitter account is now dormant. It’s not fun walking away from a platform where more than 16,000 people follow you. But remaining on that platform is even less fun, and no longer defensible.

The thought process behind my decision to leave is in the table at the bottom of this post. From now on, I’ll still check Twitter for news that I might not see elsewhere, mainly the accounts on a private “news posters” list that I maintain. But I don’t plan to post content, or to like or retweet content that I see.

I’m still posting lots of things, though. I’m just doing it elsewhere.

Here’s where you can find me.

  • This site, which I’ll be improving over the coming months.
  • At Mastodon, I post very often on a micro-small instance that I pay for myself (using masto.host): elefanti.co/@adam.
  • On Threads, where I’m getting into the habit of sharing things, but so far, with little original content that can’t be found elsewhere: threads.net/@adamisacson.
  • On post.news, again with very little original content unavailable elsewhere: post.news/@/adamisacson
  • On Tumblr, where I’ve been at adam-wola.tumblr.com/ for many years. That’s mostly reposts of things I’ve put here.
  • On Bluesky, where I’m infrequently posting what passes for humor, little of it work-related: adamisacson.bsky.social.
  • On Medium, where I’ll occasionally share longer-form things that usually appear here first: medium.com/@adam_wola.
  • At WOLA’s web page, where links to recent work are at the bottom of this page, under “Adam’s Work.”
  • WOLA’s Border Oversight page also has constantly updated sections documenting abuses, sharing infographics, and linking to reports.

I’m trying to do it as much as possible on platforms I own, and copying it elsewhere. (What the IndieWeb folks call POSSE, “Publish [on your] Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere.”) At those “elsewhere” platforms, I’m still figuring out what makes them different, if anything.

I’ve also been posting a bunch of shorter videos over the past several weeks. I’m sharing them at some experimental accounts for video content:

Then there are some platforms I’m neglecting but where I at least try to “keep the lights on” from time to time:

Why leave Twitter?

Reasons to stay Reasons to go
  • I have a good follower count that includes a lot of people who I’d want to read and be aware of my work.
  • No other platform has anywhere near the same follower count or view count for most of my posts.
  • Journalists, government officials, and NGO colleagues do continue to use it. While this is declining, reporters will still often get in touch because they saw a tweet.
  • Some argument along the lines of “we can’t let the bad billionaire win, we need to protect this space.” (This particular train may have left the station by now.)
  • Elon Musk’s promotion of abhorrent views is intolerable. The “ick factor” is off the charts. What am I contributing content to here? I should’ve gone when he was attacking trans people, and I’m sorry for staying. Attacking the Anti-Defamation League is the final straw for me.
  • Elon Musk’s treatment of people who work for the company he purchased is vile.
  • Probably because I don’t pay $8 per month, the number of people who see my tweets has declined sharply. I have 16,900 followers but tweets routinely get less than 1,000 views. Why stay when you’re being throttled?
  • I don’t own or control my space at Twitter, which makes it less worth my time.
  • Barriers to third-party API access have made Twitter much less useful. For work-related activity, shutting off RSS access made Twitter a lot less useful.
  • It’s just not “cool,” you know? I’m far from the coolest person in the world, but I like to spend my scarce time in places that have that ineffable quality. And Twitter today is the opposite of that. Not cool at all.

The Beths, 9:30 Club, Washington DC, March 4

Great to see New Zealand’s The Beths, an indie-pop group at the height of their powers, at a sold-out 9:30 Club in Washington.

A much larger space than where I last saw them, in October 2018 at the Songbyrd Music Hall basement in Adams Morgan, which has since moved to a bigger and far better space. Here, my view of lead singer / guitarist Elizabeth Stokes was obscured by a post.

“Eight Marvelous & Melancholy Things I’ve Learned About Creativity”

From Mathew Inman, creater of the webcomic The Oatmeal, a wonderful set of illustrated reflections about what’s worked for him over 10 years of creative work.

The advice here is equally applicable to those of us whose work may be less “creative” but still involves a rapid tempo of trying to explain and illustrate things to people, and a lot of online communication. (Work like, for instance, trying to make people care about Title 42, aerial herbicide fumigation, or military aid to authoritarian-trending governments.)

Highly recommended, and as funny as Inman’s snarky comic.

2 weeks of vacation

I’m out until after U.S. Labor Day (until September 6). Because there’s a lot to do during these weeks—a major wedding anniversary, dropping my only child off to start college, giving my first class at GW University—I’ll be difficult to reach. Unless it’s really screamingly urgent, I’d appreciate you waiting until September 6 to contact me. Thanks!

In the classroom this fall

By the end of this weekend, I’ll have completed a draft syllabus for Security in the Americas, a course I’ll be teaching every Monday evening this fall at George Washington University.

There is a lot to talk about: the list of topics I want to cover is about 50% longer than the number of class sessions. Also, I’ve got so much great work archived in my database, it will take me a while to select just a few readings for each session. I also have to figure out how to engage and evaluate everyone.

I’ve guest-lectured countless classes, but have never taught an entire course. In fact, I haven’t been affiliated with a university since I received my M.A. in 1994. So, apologies in advance to the students who’ll be watching me figure things out in real time.

Quote

If we must all agree, all work together, we’re no better than a machine. If an individual can’t work in solidarity with his fellows, it’s his duty to work alone. His duty and his right. We have been denying people that right. We’ve been saying, more and more often, you must work with the others, you must accept the rule of the majority. But any rule is tyranny. The duty of the individual is to accept no rule, to be the initiator of his own acts, to be responsible. Only if he does so will the society live, and change, and adapt, and survive. We are not subjects of a State founded upon law, but members of a society founded upon revolution. Revolution is our obligation: our hope of evolution.

Ursula K. LeGuin, The Dispossessed

Well that sucks

Well, that’s it. I’m officially the first in my immediate family to get COVID. Though I was one of the 20% or so of passengers to keep his mask on, I blame my flights home from the San Diego border region last Friday.

Symptoms are very mild so far: no fever, some stuffy nose, infrequent cough. Like a moderate cold. I plan to continue much work remotely, but with more rest breaks, as long as it remains this mild.

San Diego Yesterday

Had a good day of meetings in San Diego yesterday with border rights and migration advocates, none of whom I’d seen in person since before the pandemic, and some whom I was very happy to meet for the first time.

No interesting photos of me sitting in meetings, so here’s a photo of the Pacific Ocean instead. It was also my first glimpse of the Pacific since before the pandemic.

We’re spending today in Tijuana.

Makes sense

90% of everything is crap. If you think you don’t like opera, romance novels, TikTok, country music, vegan food, NFTs, keep trying to see if you can find the 10% that is not crap.

Kevin Kelly’s “103 Bits of Advice I Wish I Had Known

Back to the Border

I’m writing on a plane to San Diego. I’ll be spending the rest of the week there and in Tijuana, meeting lots of people whom I either haven’t seen in a long time or am looking forward to meeting for the first time.

There’s a lot to talk about here.

  • Border Patrol and CBP accountability issues
  • How might asylum processing work if Title 42 ends
  • Lessons from the rapid processing of 20,000 Ukrainians
    • Situation of remaining Ukrainians
  • What is happening with all other nationalities who are awaiting a chance to seek asylum?
    • What became of those cleared from the Chaparral Plaza encampment?
    • What is becoming of those forced to “Remain in Mexico” in Tijuana?
    • What nationalities are coming to Tijuana in greatest numbers now?
    • Are shelters keeping up / coping?
  • There are now long-term immigrant communities in Tijuana, especially the Haitians who settled starting in 2016. How are they faring?
  • The security situation in Tijuana seems dire. Lots more military being deployed. What is happening?

Big WOLA border project drops tomorrow

Tomorrow we’re launching a big new WOLA oversight resource about the border. I’ve been working on it for a while. It’s a site presenting a database of hundreds of recent credible allegations of human rights abuse and other improper law enforcement behavior at the U.S.-Mexico border.

It will also include a library of recommended reports and reading about the border, and 50 infographics about the border that I’ve produced over the past couple of years.

No link yet—I’m spending the day doing finishing touches and combing for errors. Stay tuned for more tomorrow.

I’m writing this in a space not owned by a billionaire

  • If I write something on this site and it gets mediocre traffic, 200 people will see it.
  • If I record a podcast for my employer (I prefer “chosen community of colleagues”) and it gets a mediocre number of downloads, 800 people will download it.
  • If I write something on the website of my chosen community of colleagues, and it gets mediocre traffic, 1,000 people will see it.
  • If I post something to my Twitter account and it performs in a mediocre way, 2,000 people will see it. (If it does well, a quarter million people might see it.)

That’s badly backwards, isn’t it? The platform that does the best for me, in terms of “reaching audiences,” is the one that neither I nor my colleagues own.

Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter for $44 billion (imagine how thoroughly infant mortality could be eradicated with $44 billion) is a bright, flashing reminder of how that needs to change.

We should be creating in spaces that we own, not in spaces run by oligarchs for marketers. Those others’ spaces should be more for conversations (hopefully constructive ones) about what we’ve developed elsewhere, in our own spaces.

My personal goal from this point forward to even out the imbalance between the numbers in that bulleted list above. A lot of that means being less lazy: sending a tweet is easier, by design, than writing an open-ended bunch of words like I’m doing now.

I guess I’m just repeating the now overplayed advice to “bring back the blog.” (The format doesn’t necessarily need to be a textual blog, of course.) But I think that advice is still generally right. We should own our ideas and words, and limit Elon Musk’s and Mark Zuckerberg’s properties to being places where we point to, and discuss, ideas and words developed elsewhere.

That’s all to say, expect to see more of me here and less of me on Twitter. Thanks, Elon, for the reminder.

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