Outdated Voting Machines and Hacking

crapitalism, politics Leave a reply

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.

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Objection to the George Wainborn Park Ireland Canada Monument

culture, History, personal, politics, Rhetoric Leave a reply

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.

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The Writing of Philosophy

personal, philosophy Leave a reply

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)

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Koukl’s Anti-Abortion Nonsense

civil rights, politics Leave a reply

[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)

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Shower Thoughts

health, Mental Health, personal Leave a reply

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……

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Being an Effective Devil’s Advocate

Education, philosophy Leave a reply

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”.

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Anxiety, an Internal Struggle

Mental Health, personal Leave a reply

I wish I understood the mechanisms of anxiety, at least within myself. I believe, perhaps mistakenly, that understanding these mechanisms would make it easier to resolve them, to overcome them. So that they’d stop ruling my life.

I had intended to leave my apartment about 5 hours ago to go get a haircut. It still hasn’t happened. Or, more accurately, I still haven’t gotten up and left.

It’s a bizarre feeling. It’s like that if I “decide” to do something, that decision gets consciously processed in the usual way and then….. nothing happens. I don’t rise out of my chair. My legs don’t move into position to lift me up. But if my legs are uncomfortable in their current position, I can move them just fine.

I can decide to type, or not to type, or to think about pretty much anything, but once I start thinking about “going outside”, suddenly there’s a *crowd* of other thoughts that urgently need my attention. Like I should take a shower. Or I should check my email. Or read an article. Or just play 15min of a game.

Looking at the door doesn’t cause me any consternation or fear. I’ve opened the door several times today to step out to get some air. That’s a non-issue. But once I decide that this move is to leave? Nope, nothing happens. Or, more accurately, something that *isn’t* me getting up to leave happens. E.g. this article.

There’s no obvious cause in my consciousness for this, no “nope, let’s do something else”-thought, I’m just suddenly flipping through twitter, or facebook, or doing a random search for details on my insurance, or….. So there’s nothing to discuss or argue against, to make my case in favour of a months-overdue haircut. The haircut is cheap, so the cost isn’t an issue.

And I am on edge, anxious. And I know that the moment I decide “ok, fine, not today”, I’ll feel my entire body relax, as if it were bracing for a massive burst of muscle-energy that is now no longer needed.

And it’ll be another day without a haircut. And if I can’t handle going outside, 100m from my home, for that, what fucking hope does the rest of my life have?

Maximize Charitible Giving on Humble Bundle (A Guide)

Charity, civil rights, Gaming Leave a reply

There’s been a crisis in the US for a number of years, and Trump’s administration is expanding and worsening it. As we’ve seen over the last few days, the response of the American people (and around the world) has been a large rejection of his policies, largely through donations to charitable organisations working for human rights (e.g. the ACLU raised 6 years worth of donations over a single weekend).

But let’s say you’re kinda, sorta interested in donating, but worried about whether your money will be well spent. Perhaps you’re just a bit skeptical of charity work in general, your budget is a bit tight and you want to make sure every penny counts, or you’d like to see something tangible in exchange for your donation? These are not unreasonable positions, and this post is for you.

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Retraction of “The Irrelevance of the American Presidential Race”

Uncategorized Leave a reply

Given what’s happening in the USA, I’m retracting the article I titled “The Irrelevance of the American Presidential Race“. I was completely wrong on this point, and am leaving the article online (though completely struckthrough) as a reminder.

While only time will tell whether these orders will be completely overturned, and I’m completely shocked that the various departments would just robotically enforce the executive orders, the thrust of my previous argument was that the President simply didn’t have the power to do what Trump is currently doing. Again: I’m completely wrong.

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