As with many other people, I often find myself denigrating things that I consider ridiculous, and on my best days I’ll catch myself and ask myself ‘ok, but *why* is that ridiculous…?’. There’s that weird experience of being in two places at once, the Brian that’s experiencing the ridiculous and seeing it as the silliness that it is, and the second Brian that’s seeing the first and trying to understand their thought process.
Even though I have the advantage of being able to access the thought process of the first Brian, which I completely lack when dealing with the people who dwell outside of my head, those thought processes can still suffer from the problem of unintentionally making up explanations after the thought has occurred, rather than an actual explanation for the thought (confabulation). We all experience this (please pay attention to the “unintentionally” part of the definition), so this adds an additional layer of difficulty: not only do I not have access to the thoughts of other people, we oftentimes don’t have accurate access to our OWN thoughts.
Due to the recent rebranding of white supremacists, fascists, and nazis as “the alt-right” and their subsequent resurgence, there has been much hand wringing about ‘punching nazis’ as an appropriate response against those who are moving to enact genocide.
This hand wringing holds echoes of the “just ignore them and they’ll go away” nonsense that was often blathered in my direction when I was accosted with bullies throughout my life, and (as such) I have an opinion on this topic informed by long involvement with violent confrontation.
Punch them as hard as you can. Just the once. I don’t feel like burying this at the end of the essay, so I thought I’d just set it up at the start. Why? The answer to that is long.
There is just so much in this article (Every Voting Machine at This Hacking Conference Got Totally Pwned) that makes me extremely angry.
Some personal background: I am not a programmer. I am not an IT security specialist. I have, however, worked in the IT sector since roughly 1995, and have been employed at various levels from front-line technical support for internet service providers, to internal office support for a large, high pressure financial institution, to network administrator for some small startups. While my employment has not been continuous in that sector (I don’t find it interesting *at all*), it would be fair to say that I have 15 years experience and exposure to changing technologies, and have needed to keep up with them (and a lot of their vulnerabilities) since I started.
While I am not a programmer, by any stretch, I am familiar with a number of programming languages and am familiar with the thinking involved in conceptualising algorithms and how technology works.
With all that in mind, I’d like to draw attention to a few statements made by the people involved with these voting machines, and why the US voting system is currently fucked.
On the recommendation from someone outside my usual geeky friends, I started watching American Gods last night. It’s been on my radar for a bit, as all my usual geeky friends have been talking about it, but I’ve been holding off for reasons I’ll get into shortly.
Suffice it to say that I binged through all 8 episodes straight…..
It’s come to my attention that there’s an organization pushing for a monument to be raised here in Vancouver, in George Wainborn Park, “for the sole purpose of providing recognition to the significant contribution of Irish Canadians and Canadians of Irish descent to Canada”.
I object to this (and yes, I’m Irish) for a number of reasons that I’ve outlined in an email to that organization. I’ve included it below.
I’ve been thinking about the writing of philosophy, whose writing I enjoy the most, whose style I most wish to emulate, and I think that there isn’t just one philosopher who’s style I love. (all of the names that follow will be white and male, as I’ve been slowly going beyond what was available in my undergrad, but have not yet read enough of others to make a fair comparison)
[Note to reddit visitors from /r/prolife: I haven’t ‘run away’ from my attempt at discussion on your forum, your mods have simply decided that ye are too fragile to discuss this topic and have banned me. If you would like to continue the conversation, you’re welcome to comment below.]
I recently made the tactical error of engaging with some anti-choice folk on their Kelowna Right to Life facebook page. As this particular group seemed to laud themselves on their intellectual and academic rigor, while disparaging that of the pro-choice folk, I thought I’d see how they responded to Judith Jarvis Thompson’s seminal work, A Defense of Abortion.
The short answer to that is “poorly”. In addition to clearly either not reading or understanding the paper, they kept referring to this awful article by Greg Koukl. This article will be a dissection of Unstringing the Violinist. (If nothing else, the anti-choice people come up with some decent article titles)
I love showers. Hot showers. Just one tiny turn off from pain, so it’s just hitting the edge. Because when the shower hits that point, my brain has to focus on the most prominent pain, and turns off the rest, so it’s only in the shower that my body stops hurting. It’s glorious.
It also lets me get a sense of what else is going on in my body, like the near-constant flutter of butterflies-in-my-stomach. And my mind jumps back 25 years……
Scene: a coffee shop where two people are in a heated discussion over a complex topic.
Galina: “So you can see that, generally speaking, this is predominantly the case!”
Bob: “No! What about this one time, that thing happened! That shows that you’re completely wrong!”
Galina, confused: “I don’t understand what that has to do with this?”
Bob: “Hey, this isn’t my area of expertise. I’m just being a Devil’s Advocate….”
This scene is all too common, and it’s immensely frustrating for people who have spent time and energy learning about a topic to be “refuted” by someone who knows very little. “Refuted”, though, is not the same as refuted, because Bob hasn’t actually offered a useful counterargument. No, Bob is just being a contrarian jerk. And contrarian jerks love to claim that they’re “just being a Devil’s Advocate”.