Hi, I’m pho4cexa. I know it’s a strange pseudonym.

I make software.
AGPL3+ forever but not an rms fan.
I love the craft of software; I loathe the software industry.
40s, bi, married, linux, atheist, cis dad.
I use he, him, etc. pronouns.
Present location: Southern California, USA.


I spend most of my time making software. It’s my job, and my hobby.

Other stuff I’ve done:


I like mathematics and I regret not studying more of it in university. I was in Math Club and one year managed to place #10 in a statewide mathematics contest. :not_bad:

I wish my job forced me to improve my mathematics skills. Happily, my most recent employer makes more use of them than any other has previously. Which is a bit ironic because all the other employers were tech sector, and my current employer is not.


I think I’m “left-leaning” politically, but I don’t know what precise label I should adopt.I used to call myself simply “liberal” but I’m often bewildered by the characteristics that people ascribe to that label. So I’ll just enumerate and let you decide what to call me.

I’m -7.5/-7.85 on the political compass. I believe in:

On the other hand, I have little confidence in our ability to fix the voting mechanism that entrenches a same-y flip-flopping two-party political system, in my lifetime. Maybe progress is too slow and drastic change is the only option?

Many people say capitalism should end, and, while I don’t disagree, I think strong regulation, welfare systems, universal healthcare, and universal basic income could arrest most of the suffering that capitalism inflicts while being more achievable in the USA.


I’m an atheist; I strongly believe that no gods exist.

  1. No evidence has convinced me that anything supernatural exists (which would make me technically agnostic), but moreover
  2. I find those gods described by dominant religions to be highly unethical, so I wouldn’t revere them even if I somehow became convinced of their existence.

I think most of our religions are unhealthy, as is most belief in the supernatural.

I tend not to wear atheism on my sleeve because the community and recent “movement” (which, for a moment, felt good) turned super toxic: The train wreck that was the New Atheism. Also, I don’t think it’s productive to harangue people about their religious beliefs, as long as they’re not using them as a cudgel. But since things seem to be constantly improving it feels less important to me than it did years ago to be vocal about it.

Likewise: I use Linux everywhere. Work, play, desktop, laptop, router, containers, cloud computers. I hate Microsoft Windows, I hate macOS, and I avoid situations that would have me endure using them. But I tend not to wear linux on my sleeve because its more vocal advocates are a toxic bunch and I wouldn’t want someone to think I behave like they do.

Likewise: I like free and open source software. I dislike closed-source, proprietary software. But I tend not to wear “foss” on my sleeve because its more vocal advocates are a toxic bunch and I wouldn’t want someone to lump me in with them.


I like hard science fiction with transhumanist themes by feminist authors.

I am remiss for not reading more diverse authors. To address that, a while ago I declared a moratorium on any (new) fiction by straight white cis men, and packed my to-read pile with women authors. That was a fantastic choice that worked out better than I had hoped. I may not even lift that moratorium after balancing out the demographics of who I read.

Some say one shouldn’t consider the politics of creators of art or fiction when considering their work; I strongly disagree. Especially in works of fiction, narratives are vastly improved when an author’s constructed universe takes for granted ideas like: women are people, queer people are people, and trans people are people.


I think veganism is indisputably the healthiest and most ethical diet for almost all humans, for the reduction of global warming, and for the reduction of suffering of animal life.

I don’t think it’s useful to be purist about it, or to make it an identity instead of a diet. There’s some interesting parallels between veganism, free software, and feminism: I think all three movements are hindered by their tendency to become an identity that one must strictly adhere to or else be called hypocritical.

It’s counterproductive to criticize vegetarians, pescafarians, etc., for not being ethical enough. The closer to a vegan diet the better, but it would be better still to get many people to eat less meat than to get fewer to go strict-vegan.

I really loathe vocal anti-vegans though. I’ve literally never met the stereotypical “pushy vegan” but I’ve heard the jokes about them too many times. In my country, meat culture is tied into toxic masculinity as well.

Having said all these things: I’m not vegan, or even vegetarian. This cognitive dissonance—consciously behaving in a way that I fully understand to be less ethical—might mean I’m a bad person…

I’d be healthier if I were. I try not to eat too much meat, I try to choose the vegan or vegetarian option when it’s easily available, that’s about the extent of my willpower on the subject.


I’ve lived in Atlanta before and Southern California now, but I complain about it a lot. I spent my formative years between the Adirondacks and the Catskills and dearly miss green forested hills on every horizon, colorful autumns, rain, rivers and lakes, and snowy winters. I hope I’m lucky enough to live among trees and snow again someday.


I struggle badly with time management. It never feels like I have enough time to do anything I want to. Estimating how long it will take to build a piece of software is supposed to be a core skill for us programmers, something you figure out by the time you graduate from junior to associate. But I’ve been at this decades and it’s still the most anxiety-inducing part of the job for me.

Computer-toucher opinions


I’m most experienced with Python but my latest employment has thrown me into Elixir and ClojureScript and I’m really enjoying all three.

I’ve dabbled with Chicken Scheme, Rust, Haskell, Guile Scheme, Forth, and uxntal but I’d like to learn them better.

I’m excited by efforts to replace the corporate-centric world-wide-web with light, indie, distributed, peer-to-peer, technology.

Operating System

Debian is the operating system I prefer for work and play. I’m also very interested in Guix.

Every OS project that I’ve encountered that I’m interested in from a technical perspective insists stridently on permissive licensing. I don’t want to help any OS project succeed that allows my contributions to be captured and proprietarized by some greedy corporation.

I wish an operating system kernel existed that both had a healthy community and used the (A)GPLv3 license.

I have an infuriating Windows partition around for some video games.

Nerd politics

Until copyright ceases to existor is drastically reformed (and I doubt this will happen in my lifetime)

, I believe copyleft is essential to freedom, and that we would be better off if more software were AGPLv3-licensed. As such I’m a huge fan of the Software Freedom Conservancy.

I used to be a money-donating supporter of the Free Software Foundation but I’ve soured on them due to poor decisions and behavior by its board of directors.

Despite being a fan of Free Software, I strongly dislike permissive licensing. I believe it enriches already-too-powerful corporations at the expense of individual programmers and users. I suspect it is directly responsible for Silicon Valley “pump and dump” startup culture.


I used Vim for two decades, but I envied Emacs users for their lispy extension language, their built-in shell, and org-mode. So a few years ago I switched to Emacs by way of Spacemacs, and more recently I switched to Doom Emacs.

I still envy people who a Good At Emacs or especially Good At Org-Mode, and I often miss things I could do better with vim: large files, editing diffs, 3-way diffs, quick startup, per-project configuration and extension.

I’m interested in other editor projects like the Xi Editor or guile-emacs. I’m not interested in any IDEs.