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Showing posts from January, 2017

InfoSec 1: Information Security for Women Online

Women face special security challenges online that men do not typically deal with. We get sexually harassed and threatened. We get stalked. We also often engage in habits that can be part of the problem without us recognizing how we put ourselves at risk.My father and exhusband were both career military, so I spent much of my life exposed to ideas like "loose lips sink ships." I also worked in insurance for over five years and got annual information security training as part of my job. Yet, it still took me a lot of years to figure out how to both feel reasonably safe online and largely put a stop to things like harassment.Here are my opinions on some best practices:Stop Being "Gossipy"Men tend to invest their identity in their work. Women tend to invest their identity in their relationships. So, women are more prone than men to telling anecdotes about people. First, you should just do less of this generally. But when you do tell stories, tell them with an eye towa…

Defending My Enemies

I have a long history of promoting inclusive discussion in online forums. I don't actively and intentionally do that very much anymore. There are at least a couple of reasons: It made me a target and ended up benefitting other people at my expense.On at least three occasions, after I got fed up and left, the forum kind of died. So, I felt like a forum killer. One of the primary ways that I promoted civil, inclusive discussion was by defending people that I did not agree with and often did not even like. To be clear, I did not defend their points. I defended them in the face of name calling, personal attacks, being ganged up on, etc.

If you genuinely value civil discourse, then the rules need to apply to everyone, even those people you do not agree with or do not even particularly like. This is not remotely the norm, which is a big part of why the internet is such a shit show.

Most people who talk about wanting the world to be a better place are hypocritical asshats who very mu…

Politics

I didn't actually vote in the 2016 elections. I am chronically ill and homeless. I wanted to vote, but I am registered to vote in San Diego and I am far from there. I failed to get my act together enough to vote.

Had I voted, I would have voted for Hillary Clinton. It makes no real difference since I am in California and she won here anyway. So, meh.

Post election, I decided to take a wait-and-see attitude. Actions speak louder than words. I have been watching to see what Trump actually does, instead of listening to people argue their opinions of him.

As I wrote previously, I think so much drama has swirled around Trump in part because he is a political virgin. Whether this ultimately turns out to be for the best is yet to be seen.

We all know career politicians tend to be bad representatives because they fail to take a real stand. They mostly try to be inoffensive.

So far: Trump's cabinet picks have included a fair number of women and at least one African American an…

Industrial Revolution 2: Electronic Boogaloo

The UBI is a terrible solution to the problem of automation "taking our jobs." We have been through this once before. We call it The Industrial Revolution. This is just the robotics and computers variation of that. It isn't anything humans haven't dealt with before.

The problem with the idea that robots and automation will take all our jobs, so we should just issue everyone a check every month for existing is that humans create those machines. If humans do not remain capable of actively participating in the economy as producers, not just consumers, at some point, those machines will break down. With large numbers of people turned into useless sheeple who know how to do nothing but consume, we won't have the ability to fix it.

There is historic precedent for this. Certain historical cultures that were in largely desert climates and dependent on distributing river water for crop irrigation went through boom and bust cycles repeatedly. These boom and bust cycles …

Chain of Command

I have recently been reading some incredibly dumb and histrionic things on the internet regarding what people think will happen with President Trump clearing the boards of so many presidential appointees. And it aggravates me. Surely, you morons have seen Aliens?

The transcript of the scene is surprisingly long, but this is a truncated version of one of the more famous and quoted scenes from the movie: Ripley: I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure...

Burke: Hold on, hold on just a second. This installation has a substantial dollar value attached to it...

Burke: Look. I'm not blind to what's going on, but I cannot authorize that kind of action. I'm sorry.

Ripley: Well, I believe that Corporal Hicks... has authority here.

Burke: Corporal Hicks has...

Ripley: This operation is under military jurisdiction and Hicks is next in chain of command. Am I right, Corporal?

Corporal Hicks: Yeah... yeah, that's right.

Burke…

Call Your Dog, Dumbass

So, you live someplace with high rents, like California, and this means you probably live in a cramped little apartment. Thus, when you go for a walk in the park with your dog, you want to indulge Fido and let him off his leash, never mind that there is a leash law and you are now in violation of it.

When you run into someone like me who doesn't like dogs and is uncomfortable with your illegally unleashed mutt enthusiastically bounding towards them, don't engage me in conversation and start reassuring me that he is just friendly or similar verbiage. Just call your damn dog and keep him under control and away from me.

Just as you clearly do not give a shit how I feel or what my legal rights are to enjoy this public space without being harassed by unleashed mutts or their overly chatty idiot owners, I don't give a shit about your dumb ass opinions nor your dog's emotional needs. I also don't want to engage a jackass like you in any kind of conversation.

And you do…

Adventures In Perma-Camping

The evening of Thursday, January 5th, my son asked me if I wanted to camp at "Site C." I hurt my foot and ankle a few weeks back. It was really bothering me that night and he thought it would shorten my walk.

I said "No." It doesn't seriously shorten my walk and I don't remember the rest of my reasoning.

For various reasons, I leave ahead of my sons every morning, and I typically go a different route than them for the first leg of the journey. My route takes me past the river. Their usual route goes nowhere near the river.

As I walked past it the morning of Friday, January 6th, I realized it was already badly flooded. Weather predictions were for three more inches of rain over the weekend.

From where I was, I could not see Site C, but what I could see suggested that Site C was likely under water. Site B, a spot under the bridge, is where we have previously hunkered down to stay dry-ish in bad storms. It was very obviously under water. That whole area wa…

Faux Objective Style

I basically had a long argument with a mod on Metafilter not terribly long ago. I am still pissed off and that is leaking through in lots of different blog posts in various ways, not just on this site.

Supposedly, they only ban people for what you do on their site, not elsewhere. I don't actually trust all of the mods to ethically stick to that stance, but I trust Cortex a hair more than the rest of them to not be a total and complete dirtbag. So, hopefully their bullshit "The rules are the same for you as for everyone else" when they totally aren't won't come back to bite me in the ass for venting about their shit here.

So, at some point, I don't recall when, one of my FPPs got deleted and I asked the mod "Why?" And I got the usual shitty responses full of subtext of "God, you're an idiot" and "You evil piece of shit, how dare you desire to participate in our forum." (Because, bitch, I am medically handicapped and CANNOT …

Trying to Overcome "It Just Isn't Done" Syndrome

So, I wrote this piece a few months back called The Mist Principle. I wasn't really satisfied with it then, and I am still not really satisfied. I don't think it really expressed the thing I am trying to put my finger on for myself, and hopefully help others in the process by publishing those thoughts.

My sons and I have talked about the sexism in the game in question for a long time. So that wasn't new information for me, and it did not inspire the post per se.

What actually inspired me to write the above post is that I had learned that a publication called The Toast had closed down a few months earlier.

My familiarity with The Toast is largely through Metafilter. I was gifted a membership to Metafilter by a kind soul after I began perma-camping for health reasons -- aka after I chose to go be homeless. As touched on in some recent blog posts, my experiences of Metafilter have not been very warm-fuzzy. In fact, they have been downright toxic.

Metafilter is incredib…

Preventing CopyCat Suicides: An Opinion from the Trenches

Easter Sunday 1983. I was 17. I attempted suicide.

It was the culmination of a very long history of tragic events. In spite of having no legal right to self advocate, because I was not a legal adult, I had been trying valiantly to get help for a long time, to no avail. The system -- and callous adults -- blocked me at every turn.

I was not mentally ill. I was in an abusive situation and I was a good kid with good grades who did not smoke, drink or do drugs.

Yet, people were quick to assume that if I had problems, I must be a bad kid. When I attempted suicide, no real compassion was forthcoming. At least two of my teachers crabbed at me about how some kids had real problems and what a drama queen and spoiled brat I was and how I was obligated to be a role model for others (because I was one of the top three students of my graduating high school class -- so my life must be just peachy, and don't confuse them with the facts).

Given my firsthand experience with what callous unhel…

My Occupation

Lady Bracknell: Do you smoke?

Jack: Well, yes, I must admit I smoke.

Lady Bracknell: I am glad to hear it. A man should always have an occupation of some kind. There are far too many idle men in London as it is.

-- The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde I love this scene from this highly quotable play. When I studied it in high school, this play on words really tickled my fancy.

But I love it because it is more than a mere play on words. It plays with ideas: Whether you need to work for a living or not, we all need some means to occupy ourselves while we still draw breath. No matter how trivial it is, we all need an occupation.

At the age of 35, I spent about 3.5 months bedridden. Shortly thereafter, I was diagnosed with Atypical Cystic Fibrosis.

I was just shy of my 36th birthday. At the time, CF had an average life expectancy of 36.

What followed was a long, hard recovery from spending so much time at death's door. I am a lot healthier these days, but CF is …

Direct Primary Care

What is Direct Primary Care?
It is a membership system where you pay your doctor directly, much like your grandparents did. It is typically handled through a clinic. How does it work?
For a small monthly fee, you get basic services such as annual physicals, regular check ups and treatment for minor emergencies of the sort that can be handled in a doctor's office.Why would it have lower costs than the current model?
It achieves lower costs in large part by cutting out the middle man of health insurance for basic services. The fact that the U.S. relies on a third party payer system adds tremendous bureaucracy and expense for no actual gain of any sort. How does it achieve better health outcomes?
Doctors in DPC clinics spend substantially less time on paperwork, thus allowing them to spend more time with patients. They see their patients more frequently and patients are thus better able to stay on top of health maintenance issues, thereby reducing the incidence of serious complicatio…

Direct Primary Care: A real alternative under Obamacare

I have written about this before and I get endless flack over unimportant details while people miss my main point. I don't know what I did wrong or what I need to do differently, but I am trying again.I worked in insurance for over five years. I still do insurance related writing to earn money. I have a spiffy technical certificate in insurance stuff (making me a "Certified life and health insurance specialist," at least when I worked for Aflac). So, I think I know whereof I speak and understand this stuff better than most people.When combined with either a high deductible health insurance or health savings account (to cover surgery, hospitalization, etc), membership in a Direct Primary Care clinic is legally compliant under the ACA such that you will not be dinged with a tax penalty for not having regular health insurance.Unlike the rest of Obamacare, Direct Primary Care has a track record of actually a) lowering costs and b) improving health care received by patients. …

The 70 Year Old Political Virgin

According to Wikipedia: Trump considered the idea of running for president in 1988, 2004, and 2012, and for Governor of New York in 2006 and 2014, but did not enter those races.So, our President Elect Donald Trump has been researching and testing the waters for 29 years, but never actually ran for office. Google tells me that his lack of prior political experience is unusual for an American president.I am guessing this helps explain what a shit show this has been: Trump is a political virgin. This is his first time.Oh, he may think because he is rich and famous, he has experience dealing with the public. But it's different when you are a politician. Fame means people know your name. Elected to office means people care very deeply about every stupid little thing you do because they are trying to find coded messages in your choice of tie to help them prognosticate their own future. Fame means they have opinions about you, but they don't really care. It's mostly just for fun.…

The Emperor Penguin Principle

At some point, I watched a documentary on emperor penguins. I vividly recall the narrator making a dramatic statement about how they huddle together to survive the 70 below temperatures. The narrator pronounced the group as "one body now." Later, they talked about the fact that penguins on the outer edge of the group had to be rotated back into the group so they could get warm again. Presumably, if they did not rotate back in, they would eventually die. If this were allowed to happen, the group would gradually shrink. There would be a catastrophic domino effect until there weren't enough birds to be able to stay warm. At that point, they would all die.Humans seem to fail to grasp this concept. We generally do a poor job of helping our marginalized people get rotated back into the middle of the group so they can get their needs met. Then we wonder why society as a whole is increasingly becoming more frayed and threatening to fall apart entirely.We really need to get bette…

This Happens a Lot. WTF?

This is just the latest example and I am linking to it in part because they posted anonymously, but I don't get it. This person does a follow-up reply and calls me out by name to specifically rebut my advice and tell me how very wrong I am. And as is all too often the case, I am the only person called out by name.

This happens a lot and it really feels shitty and I find it baffling.

I don't feel like I have any real friends on Metafilter. I am on friendly-ish terms with a short list of people who will not be assholes to me via interactions on metafilter, but we don't email or hang out together IRL or whatever. We are civil to each other in the forum we both participate in and that is the closest thing to friendship I have on mefi.

I have gotten just a helluva lot of shit on mefi from classist assholes who seem to think that someone as destitute as I currently am has no right to have an opinion or try to give advice to anyone or whatever. And if that is what you thin…