To “lift oneself up by the bootstraps” is technically an impossible task*, but here in America we don’t care too much for the confines of reality. The term “bootstrapping” has found its way into the popular vernacular in discourse as disparate as that concerning computer science and class mobility. The idea’s that with just a small amount of activation energy–a little bit of cash, a smattering of tools, and a few motivated souls (or in the former case, a few transistors and a couple of lines of machine code)–you’ve got the spark you need to set the tinder of your little campfire alight, and if you continue to carefully stoke that growing flame, with a little determination and due diligence you, too, can turn it into a roaring bonfire! Or analogously, you can flip a billion other transistors on [and off and on and off again, ad infinitum] and run a monolithic kernel supporting a full-fledged operating system. Yippee.
Molasses–especially on a cold January morning–is offered proverbially as an example of something which moves very slowly. Molasses is the by-product of sugar cane juice after the extraction of its sugar. Blackstrap molasses is what’s left over after they’ve got as much sugar out of the mix as they can, and it’s considered to be waste. Junk. Cattle feed. Then again, it’s full of vitamins and minerals, so it’ll nourish you while you eat it–unlike table sugar. It’s the same sort of logic that led to the ubiquity of white bread, but the US food system’s a story for another day. The point is cold molasses is highly viscous and moves very slowly, but get your blackstrap good and hot with the heat from your bootstrapped bonfire, and now you’ve got a force to be reckoned with (poor, poor early 20th-century Bostonians).
I guess that leaves this website. Basically, it’s a small corner of the Interwebs where I record my endeavors to build little somethings from nothing. Will the results be sticky, sweet, and full of micronutrients? Sometimes. Hopefully some of these projects will get a little momentum of their own, and I invite you to help me stoke the fire as they do–you know, all in a very creative commons, share-alike-y, attribution-ey, non-commercial kind of way–unless, of course, one of these things blows up: in which case, sell, baby, sell! But, y’know, in an equitable kind of way–because, after all, we wouldn’t want one of these things to blow up like a giant tank of hot molasses.
*Do you remain skeptical of the impossibility of this phrase? Do you have boots on? Do they have straps? Good. Grab a hold of them and pull upwards. Are you getting anywhere? Hmm. Looks like we’ve got ourselves an adynaton on our hands.