If Putin is right about there being no discrimination against LGBT people in Russia, why would the US and the UK be condemning him for it, and why would crazy homophobic nutjobs like Scott Lively be praising him?
Putin’s claim that there is no discrimination against gay and lesbian people in Russia is turning him into a modern day version of Comical Ali, the Iraqi Information Minister, proclaiming “They will surrender! We will crush them!” as the American tanks storm through the centre of Baghdad.
Shanley has an excellent piece talking about her experience advocating for women in technology, specifically about the pushback she’s had from men. Go read it if you haven’t.
One of the key points about Shanley’s post is the talk-down-ish accusation that she’s actually angry all the time. I frequently write about homophobia and LGBT issues, both in the tech community and in wider society, both on a personal level, and for Wikipedia and Wikinews. Obviously, for the latter, I am a lot more objective than I am when I’m writing for my blog or grumbling privately to friends on Facebook. I have gotten angry. But anger is not my primary emotion when it comes to issues of sexuality. I’m usually bemused by how ridiculous opponents of LGBT rights are.
To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the reaction of the very people Shanley is talking about in her post is to brand her as an angry firebrand, beyond the realm of reason, who is doing more damage to her cause by being such an angry person. Yeah. Sexism will go away if the people who oppose sexism just calm down. Don’t cause a scene.
Alex Dunn has matched up the reactions of people to Shanley’s post with the very things Shanley was talking about in her post. It’s almost as if they didn’t read the damn post or something.
Anyway, what I wanted to say is this. Let’s grant for the sake of argument the suggestion that Shanley is angry.
So Fucking What?
Facts remain facts regardless of your emotional state. Illustration time. The Russian government are being pretty barbarous shitbags to gay people at the moment. If you are some douchebag at Focus on the Family, you are probably quite happy about Putin being mean to gay people. If you are a supporter of gay rights, or you are yourself gay, you might be quite angry and pissed off about what Putin is doing. Or you might just be a reporter, say, who is writing about this stuff for a newspaper. And you don’t have a strong opinion either way, perhaps because you’ve managed to successfully suppress your opinions while working.
Personally, whenever I read about Putin’s treatment of gay people, it pisses me the fuck off. If you are an idiot, you might conclude that I’m obviously “biased”. No. I’m looking at the facts and drawing a conclusion from them.
I’m angry about Putin’s treatment of gay people. That I’m angry about it is not a negative failing on my part. It’s a pretty natural reaction to Putin being a fucking shit. Putin is at fault, not me.
When someone does something awful, we should be angry. Women in technology have every right to be angry. When prominent tech industry pundits write utter horseshit about how there aren’t women programmers because their brains don’t work properly, women have every right to be angry.
And anger is okay. Anger can be a positive force. Anger drives protests and social change. If you read about Savita Halappanavar or Trayvon Martin or Matthew Shepard or Malala Yousafzai and you don’t get even a teensy bit angry, you probably need to get yourself medical attention to make sure you actually still have a pulse.
The reason that the “anger police” come out and accuse everyone of being angry is because they can then go on to say that people aren’t just angry, they are being shrill and unreasonable. They’ll call you angry regardless of whether you actually are angry or not. If you are angry, they’ll call you unreasonable and shrill regardless of how many footnotes you have giving the many good reasons why you are angry.
I’ve found few things more likely to inspire utter boredom than the words “pop-up shop”. Just go away.
I sent a request to the Cabinet Office regarding open data on the 25 February. I finally got a response today.
I don’t have anger issues. Other people have asshole issues.
I’ve redesigned my site. New fonts, bolder colours, a new strapline and a few little things you probably won’t notice.
It is still profoundly weird to see the BBC News website with adverts when one is in the United States.
Air travel: waiting to queue to wait to queue to wait to queue. At some point you actually get on a plane.
Was asked how my “security experience” was.
“I have numbed myself to the intrusions of the security state” was not an option.
Ron Paul says Syrian chemical attack is a false flag according to Iranian PressTV.
Standard Ron Paul solutions to Syrian concerns will involve the gold standard and arming yourself to defend against racial minorities.
BBC News: “Even back in the USSR, where homosexuality was a criminal offence, gays were treated better than they are now in Russia. Ordinary people see us as criminals.”
It’s been a while since I watched anime with any regularity. I used to watch some of the more fantastical and other worldly old animes, but haven’t been watching anime much recently.
This week, I saw something rather entertaining in the anime world. Let me tell you about it.
This is Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club, an anime produced by Kyoto Animation that started in July. It is about four teenage boys—Haruka, Makoto, Nagisa and Rin—who participated in competitive swimming when they were at elementary school. They meet a few years later in high school and then three of them start up a swimming club.
So far eight episodes have been broadcast, and there are plans to put out DVDs and Blu-Rays.
As you can see above, the characters are rather handsome if drawings of men with stereotypically anime-ish hair combined with lean, muscular physiques are your sort of thing. And, I’m told, it’s got a fair amount of fanservice—vaguely erotic or indeed homoerotic content to satisfy the fans.
Guy fanservice? Because the fans are girls mostly. Oh my. Girls. Watching anime. Whatever next?
That’s pretty much a mild version of the broad reaction from hardcore anime fans. Young men, looking attractive: OMG GAY, OMG GIRLZ!
The reaction has been hysterical. Mad about Free!—with the excellent URL mantearsflowingfree.tumblr.com—has documented the reactions of male anime fans who are posting long rambling rants littered with homophobia and sexism about how offended they are by the mere existence of an anime that very mildly eroticises young men by, well, showing them engaging in competitive swimming.
I mean, it is a major fucking liberty that Kyoto Animation are taking by sexually objectifying young men. It’s not like anime would sexually objectify young women.
(Also, the girls in the second picture? Their heads are bigger than their bodies, like some kind of freakshow Ralph Lauren model.)
The complaint from the otaku dudebros complaining about ‘Free!’ is… that it is invading their precious dude-only space. Anime isn’t for girls (or queers). I mean, the whole world is persecuting heterosexual men: stealing their sperm, accusing them of rape illegitimately, not to mention all those nasty cruel harridans friendzoning them while taking the piss out of their fedoras. Next we’ll all be forcing them to be gay by putting flouride in the drinking water or something.
The amazing thing when you start reading the ‘Free!’ threads is the participants in the threads are the same angry straight dudes keep coming back bitching about the gays and the fujoshi—”rotten women”, the term used for women who enjoy the thought and depiction of cute guys getting it on with one another. (Of course, there’s no “rotten men” terminology for the dudes who love girl-on-girl, because hypocrisy.) They keep coming back to repeatedly reassert that ‘Free!’ is not for them and berate Kyoto Animation for taking up valuable space in the world of anime with stuff that doesn’t satisfy their sexual cravings. Of course, all the guys watching creepy moe anime are watching it for the intriguing plots and well-developed characters.
Incidentally, I watched the first episode of ‘Free!’ just to see what all the fuss is about. Meh. It’s alright. I can see why people would want to see fanservice, but unless you actually care about high school swimming, I can’t really see the attraction. It might get better, but it’s not really my thing. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but it just doesn’t really fit what I enjoy in a show, in spite of the (apparently controversial) hot muscled swimmer dudes.
Unlike the very angry dudes, I’ll just… not watch any more episodes. But I’ll keep reading the angry responses from otaku, because that is some funny, funny shit.
I hope this picture of Tom Daley is annoying a man in a fedora somewhere.
Or an NFC reader, or whatever they are now called. Apparently, someone decided that we must rename ‘RFID’ to ‘NFC’ because the former is a scary acronym that will put consumers off while the latter is a non-scary acronym that won’t put consumers off, or something. I am not a marketer so what do I know?
One of the things one learns by building software is the importance of loose coupling. It’s better to build a system that conforms to a simple interface than one that requires a specific implementation behind it. This is the reason things like object relational mappers exist: so that all of the communication between application and database is made through a substitutable model class that conforms to an agreed contract (and if said contract is enforced by the type system, all the better).1 If you decide that you want to substitute out Postgres and use MySQL, you can. (Of course, it isn’t nearly as simple as that, as numerous production fuckups can attest.)
This is one of the things I like about software. I can abstract away the complexity and deal with a nice high level object. I can call the ‘save’ method on an object given to me by an ORM and the actual complexity of how that object is stored in the database is something that the ORM deals with.
This is one of the things I do not like about hardware. I have always sucked with hardware. I have something of a reverse Midas touch with electronics: if there is a way for me to fuck it up, I will. Unlike software, when you fuck up hardware, it costs money. If you blow up a microprocessor, you have to spend real world money fixing it; if your code doesn’t compile, you’ve wasted a few CPU cycles. Fixing it doesn’t require an RS catalogue.
I was looking at RFID briefly today. I’d love to piss about with RFID. I have pissed around with RFID actually: a couple of years ago, I played with a USB RFID reader, and managed to hook it up to a script, and I could wave a tag on the box and it would recognise it.
But there’s a problem there. USB. Let’s say I wanted to rig up an RFID reader somewhere in my house for some purpose or the other. I’d need a computer to process those USB signals. Now, computers are pretty small: Raspberry Pis are small and cheap, and it wouldn’t be too hard to write the software to run on something like a Pi to handle that. But effort. I’m not a hardware guy, I’m a software guy.
Imagine this instead: someone were to make an RFID reader that had built-in wi-fi and Ethernet. One would just hook them up via Ethernet to configure them—give it whatever credentials it needs to access the wifi. It then connects to the Internet (or just to the local LAN) via wifi or via the Ethernet port. On each scan, it would send an HTTP POST request to whatever URL you configured when setting it up. You’d obviously have to sort out some security on this: have some kind of request signing logic, so you can verify that an incoming HTTP POST request is actually coming from the tag reader rather than from a third-party.
You could charge a slight premium for these. If you usually sell a USB RFID tag reader for £30, you can charge £40 for one of these. Me not ever having to deal with soldering irons is well worth £10. China can build computers cheaper than I can, and the world’s technology market has worked out how to make low-power devices better than I could with a Raspberry Pi and some sticky tape.
You would probably find that hackers would lap them up. And they’d build useful shit with them often enough that they would start appearing inside companies, who would buy more of them. Want lightweight asset tracking or office checkin? It’d be worth the slight extra to make it so adding said checkin requires little more than a craptastic little Python script running on a web server somewhere.
As for marketing? Get yourself a blog and some social media accounts, and ask your users for stories. For each one you publish, send the user who told you about it a voucher that pays for part or all of another RFID tag reader. Offer a cheap cloud ‘pro’ service for like £10 a year which would give people premium support, more of a say on future features, and integration with services like Ifttt and Foursquare and so on. This means people who want to piss around with the devices can do so without needing to write code.
For RFID/NFC to become ubiquitous, people without soldering irons need the tools to hack with it: us software dorks. Reduce the barrier to pissing around with it and hackers will come up with lots of ideas that are currently unimaginable.
If you build this, do email me and send me half a dozen and I’ll build some cool shit with them, okay?
The Guardian is such a wonderful contradiction at times. I can read an article about how people are being drastically underpaid, how not only the working class are being completely fucked over but the middle class are too, and I can read articles daily that detail exactly how fucked the world economy truly is.
Then I can watch a video where a fashion journalist explains that a pair of trousers costing over £300 and a jumper costing over £600 represent a bold and exciting direction in everyday casual wear.
Today, people are rightly celebrating the anniversary of Dr. King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech.
I want you to compare and contrast.
Firstly, Martin Luther King Jr. in a 1967 speech entitled ‘Beyond Vietnam’.
As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.
Now here is a quote from Warren Ward, Air Force Global Strike Command Programming Division at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. archive.org, as the original is no longer on the web:
Dr. King would be proud to see our Global Strike team - comprised of Airmen, civilians and contractors from every race, creed, background and religion - standing side-by-side ensuring the most powerful weapons in the U.S. arsenal remain the credible bedrock of our national defense.
Maintaining our commitment to our Global Strike team, our families and our nation is a fitting tribute to Dr. King as we celebrate his legacy.
We must presume that Mr. Ward (his rank is not given) is a man of some intelligence, hence why he is writing press releases for the US Air Force’s Global Strike team. That he is unable to realise the absolute absurdity of suggesting that Martin Luther King—a man whose name is virtually synonymous with pacifism and non-violence, and who argued forcefully that the United States was “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” during the era of Vietnam—would be very keen on a “Global Strike team” able to use some of “the most powerful weapons” that man has ever constructed shows the absolute posthumous white-washing that King’s intellectual and moral legacy has been given by popular culture. A man who spoke out against militarism is now the icon of the sort of militarists who would run a ‘Global Strike team’, whatever one of those is.
You don’t have to agree with King’s pacifism to find the absolute dishonesty and ignorance towards King’s legacy to be disgusting. If you want to honour King’s legacy, how about we start by teaching people what King actually taught and believed? Not just the bits that make everyone want to pat themselves on the back about racial equality and progress, but the morally challenging bits about poverty and imperialism. There’s a lot more to King than the bits that the US Air Force find comfortable thinking about.
Okay, my turn.
As long as the mind is enslaved, the body can never be free. Psychological freedom, a firm sense of self-esteem, is the most powerful weapon against the long night of physical slavery. No Lincolnian emancipation proclamation or Johnsonian civil rights bill can totally bring this kind of freedom. The negro will only be free when he reaches down to the inner depths of his own being and signs with the pen and ink of assertive manhood his own emancipation proclamation. And, with a spirit straining toward true self-esteem, the Negro must boldly throw off the manacles of self-abegnation and say to himself and to the world, “I am somebody. I am a person. I am a man with dignity and honor. I have a rich and noble history, however painful and exploited that history has been. Yes, I was a slave through my foreparents, and now I’m not ashamed of that. I’m ashamed of the people who were so sinful to make me a slave.” Yes, yes, we must stand up and say, “I’m black, but I’m black and beautiful.”
In the following post, I’m going to be slightly vague about what I am enquiring about. It may not be apparent from my frequent blogorrhea, but there are certain things I wish to keep private, and my medical history is one of those. I would rather you didn’t speculate about the precise details of the following post but discuss only the general principle.
This week I made the mistake of attempting to use what used to be called NHS Direct and is now called 111. I wanted to check whether it was medically advisable to get a vaccination shot for an upcoming trip abroad. I had phoned my GP and they had told me the date of my last vaccination for this particular issue. (Incidentally, they did this with absolutely no security check. I spend £2.99 in the Apple App Store and my bank phones me to confirm that it is not a suspicious transaction, but if I phone up my GP, they’ll happily tell me what vaccinations I’ve had and when without me having to provide any verification of who am I beyond my name. So much for the privacy of medical records.)
Being a big fan of the general principle of Not Dying, I decided it might be worth actually making sure this particular vaccination is up-to-date.
I had heard a few years ago that NHS Direct was a very convenient service that let you phone up and get put through to a nurse, and potentially a doctor if necessary, to deal with non-emergency medical inquiries. I’d never used it before. This isn’t an emergency, so perhaps I’ll give it a try. I didn’t want to have to book a doctors appointment and take time off work if getting the vaccination was either something I couldn’t get done on the NHS or if there was no actual need for me to get it.
I phoned 111 on Monday afternoon. I had a nice chat with an operator. I explained my particular query. And they told me that a doctor would call me back in 48 hours and I asked them to phone me back on my mobile number. It is now Wednesday evening. No doctor has phoned me back.
I phoned again today but this time from my mobile. They worked out that I was in London, probably from cell tower triangulation. Except, I don’t live in London. I just work in London. Unless I told them that I was registered in a particular London borough, they would not put me through to anybody. So I now need to wait until I get home to call them again. Or I could just not bother and try to get an appointment with a GP. Which is kind of the point of calling NHS Direct or 111 or whatever it is now called: it is supposed to help me not have to book a possibly unnecessary appointment with a GP.
I don’t understand why they care where I am. If I need to get a vaccination, it doesn’t matter whether I’m in Eastbourne, Exeter or Edinburgh. This is surely the point of having a telephone health advice service: by calling a number, I can avoid wasting the face-time of the doctors and medical staff at my local clinic. Instead, the country can just load balance medical enquiries. A system that depends vitally on the location of where the caller is calling from is a silly system because mobile phones have the built-in capacity to be mobile.
Given that the service doesn’t actually help you quickly answer medical questions, but is as slow and unreliable as using GP services, I’m not sure what the point of it is. It seems like an eminently reasonable service in theory but an utterly useless service in practice.
Now, to give them the credit they are due, they did answer the phone on a Bank Holiday Monday. But if you say you are gong to phone back in 48 hours, it’s quite useful to actually phone back in 48 hours rather than leave a patient feeling increasingly impatient. But I’m travelling soon. If there is clinical justification for getting the vaccination before I travel, but it isn’t covered by the NHS, that is a very small amount of time to sort out getting it done through a private vaccination service. Even if it is done on the NHS, knowing quickly means I can make better plans.
The NHS is a wonderful service, although actually using the services it offers tends to be incompatible with having a job or a busy life.
You’ve heard all about two-factor authentication, right? Sounds like a massive improvement in security. But you’ve been wondering how to integrate it with your legacy enterprise systems.
The answer to all of your problems is fax. Two-factor authentication by fax. Go to log into a website, and the website will fax you your credentials, just like you currently have to fax signed contracts for no good reason at all.
Your fax machines are sitting there unused. Put them to use with enterprise two-factor FaxAuth. Integrates with your whole stack of awful enterprise buzzwords: WS-Security, Kerberos, SAML, WS-Trust etc.
1 in 3 Americans say gay people can turn straight. Probably quite a lot of overlap with the “velociraptors were on Noah’s Ark” crowd.