pseudonymous amab nonbinary geek | fyiad | social justice technomancer | mdd && anxiety | they/them/their | blood bound to @LazerCrazy
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So you could consider maybe not playing House Party

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Let’s make this clear: of course there’s nothing wrong with games about sex, nor games about people trying to pair up with others to have sex. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with games being used to turn someone on. What remains the case is that it’s absolutely fine to criticise such games for being utterly terrible at it, and indeed comment on their representations of people. To loudly point out that a game is a misogynistic pile of shit is not to call for it to be banned, but simply to observe the fact. Everyone good with that? Great.

House Party [official site] is a misogynistic pile of shit. But first and foremost, it’s a terrible game. (NSFW warning: There’s some nudity in the pics below.) (more…)

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xowx
8 days ago
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Refresh Types

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The hardest refresh requires both a Mac keyboard and a Windows keyboard as a security measure, like how missile launch systems require two keys to be turned at once.
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xowx
29 days ago
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3 public comments
tdarby
29 days ago
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lo
Baltimore, MD
Covarr
29 days ago
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Hard Reset - PC reset button - causes SEGA to fight SOPA.
Moses Lake, WA
alt_text_bot
29 days ago
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The hardest refresh requires both a Mac keyboard and a Windows keyboard as a security measure, like how missile launch systems require two keys to be turned at once.

The (Deep) Time Of Your Life

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So one of the things that I keep getting asked about is when I refer to my past and my future as different people. I speak of the intents of my past, the situations she’s left me in and the struggles I face because of her.

I do this because past-aurynn is a real force in my life, a person who had hopes and goals and dreams but with whom I cannot hold a conversation. I can’t talk to her, share my triumphs or my failures, can’t ask her if it’s everything we hoped it would be.

She can’t ever know if we succeeded, all she can do is hope that things got better.

I speak of the aspects of my future, all the things I don’t and can’t know, only that my choices affect her choices and set the road upon which she treads.

My actions, or lack thereof, change her life. I am her past-aurynn, and I cannot know what our successes and triumphs will be. She will never be able to talk to me. All I can do is do, and hope for the best.

Communication is Key

One of the things that this worldview strongly reminds me of is the idea of four-dimensional teams. My past self is trying to have a conversation with me, sharing her ideals and desires with me through the actions and artefacts that are left behind. Within the bounds of a fallible memory I can remember her triumphs and joys, share in her sorrows and disappointments, and burn with the shame of those past decisions.

By the same token, I’m trying to have a conversation with my future self. I’m trying to communicate what I think we should do, lay out a future in which she’ll be happy, or content, or able to reach more of our goals.

But conversation isn’t the right word, not that there is even a right word. I can’t converse with the future, but I can leave artefacts and ideas, open some doors and close others and try to communicate my intent.

Try to make it obvious what I wanted to have happen.

Try, Try, Try Again

Try is the key word, and calls back to why I talk about deep” time. Deep Time was an idea put forward about how to perform intentional communication with our far future selves, people who wouldn’t speak our language or have our symbols, would be outside of anything resembling our context.

In the context of the book, trying to describe how to communicate that we’ve left radioactive waste in certain locations, and that digging it up would be, well, perhaps not ideal.

Within my own life I often face the same ideas. I can only partially rely on my own memory, and even that is often suspect and illusory. Who I am and what I want shifts as the years pass by, must shift as I grow and learn and discover nuance, that I have lost interest, or that what I thought was truly important didn’t work the way I expected it to.

The only way I can reliably understand what I wanted from the past is to ask the present and the surroundings I find myself in, find the artefacts that brought me to where I am.

I live in New Zealand because a very young girl saw Jurassic Park and wanted to be one of the people who did that, who made amazing dinosaurs happen on screen, got a job in visual effects, and got to move across the world. It was a memory, a feeling, a desire, a path that past-aurynn had put the present on, and I found myself walking those steps across the world.

It wasn’t what I’d dreamed it would be.

Not bad, not by a long shot, but not what I dreamed it would be. Dreams are by their very nature unrealistic, and holding that kind of dream, anything would have a hard time living up to it.

Access Control

This was the first brush of needing to learn a new skill, a new way of thinking about how the past and the present and what I should or shouldn’t do. I’d had a goal that the past had set for me, an aspiration that I should be doing this. That I had an obligation to that child to keep on with her dreams without introspection because, once, I had wanted that.

But I changed. I had to change as I grew and learned and who I was shifted. But what I hadn’t learned was that I had to give myself permission to not do what I thought I wanted to do, to try new things, to be someone other than what I had once wanted.

I had to learn that maybe that wasn’t what I wanted anymore.

Most critically, I had to learn that that wasn’t a bad thing. Past-aurynn is a suggestion, not a requirement. An option, not the only option.

Her choices and desires may no longer be mine. I get to choose.

Fail

Learning this enabled me to learn that it was okay to lose interest in things I loved, okay to find out that things maybe weren’t as much fun as I thought they would be.

It was okay to fail. Failure no longer meant that I was unable to fulfil the goals that I’d set for myself, that I was a disappointment to my past self, unworthy of my dreams, goals and aspirations. Instead I was able to let go and enjoy setting up a world for my future where she could experiment more, explore more, and try more things.

A world where I could start to see the culture of achievement, passion” and merit” in tech was toxic, because it gave no space to admit that your past choices may no longer be correct. If we question, it means we weren’t really passionate about tech or programming. Real programmers just knew and kept on knowing. They never questioned, never had to question.

In Contempt Culture, not knowing something means you don’t belong, you aren’t part of the group.

Tomorrow, Tomorrow

For right now, photography is one of the important factors in my life. It is an art form I adore, a unique worldview that could only be mine, and an entire wealth of interesting kit to drool over. I have tens of thousands of photos as a result, three published books and I expect to take tens of thousands more photos.

But I also may not. One day, I’ll be past-aurynn, I’ll be a suggestion and a series of choices that I made to focus on photography and writing this blog. It’s time that future-me won’t have again, but as far as she must be concerned all of this, everything I have done?

It’s a suggestion. An option.

Tomorrow, future me becomes present me, and she gets the choice I get, to continue or not, to change or not, to decide something new.

She doesn’t know, and neither do I, if the choices we made before were the right choices. We’ll never know. The passion may fade, and that?

That’ll be okay.

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xowx
122 days ago
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Human computers

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The history of black women working for Nasa goes back much further than the 1960s - the period of the film Hidden Figures - and their struggles continued afterwards.
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xowx
154 days ago
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rebel-timelord: wetwareproblem: wetwareproblem: Unfriendly fucking reminder that the best...

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rebel-timelord:

wetwareproblem:

wetwareproblem:

Unfriendly fucking reminder that the best predictor of mass shootings is not mental illness, but being an angry young white man who has recently experienced rejection and has easy access to guns.

Bringing this back because it makes terrible people angry. And I’ll add a note to all the people saying “But you’d have to be mentally ill to do that!”: Mental illness is, by definition, abnormal. Does “mediocre white boy is so entitled that he resorts to violence when told no” really sound particularly unusual to you?

I devoted my entire graduate studies and thesis on mass school shootings, multiple murderers, and criminal psychology and I can tell you that this is in fact completely true and is suported by an unbelievable amount of emperical, quantifiable data that I slaved over for years. 💯

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xowx
200 days ago
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California, USA
popular
211 days ago
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quad
211 days ago
I want this to be true; but, [citation needed]
wmorrell
210 days ago
Not that hard to find: https://davinasquirrel.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/school-shootings/ School shootings: overwhelmingly by white males.
codersquid
210 days ago
The person's tumbler profile lists their name as Megan, and their age as 26. Searching scholar.google.com for articles since around 2012 keywords school mass shootings pulls up author names containing an M initial. I got impatient and stopped searching there. I'm not confident I picked the right date range either. I'm guessing >22 years old would be post-grad work.
codersquid
210 days ago
I totally wouldn't have posted my comment if I saw yours first. woot.
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dukeofwulf
211 days ago
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Exhibit 15372 on why Trump won: Hypocrisy. Stereotypes are bad, except when applied to white males. I don't care if you're right, you're alienating a lot of people, and you won't win the culture battle that way. Use some tact.
sirshannon
211 days ago
Heh.

That PHP Graph

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So by now you’ve probably seen this graph bouncing around the tech conversation in the last couple of days. It’s interesting data science! It’s a great way to see the sorts of trends around how people program and how people are learning to program.

You may have also encountered this idea of contempt culture that I’ve spoken about earlier, where tech communities use on demonstrating contempt towards tools outside what’s acceptable” in their group as a proxy for belonging to that group.

One of the biggest ways that’s manifested in my career has been a vicious contempt of PHP.

You should be able to see where I’m going with this. Contempt culture tells us to hate PHP, everyone knows” that PHP is bad and that PHP programmers are bad, and now we have some data science that backs it all up!

I haven’t seen it directly, yet, but this sort of data science is exactly what participants in a contempt culture thrive on. It’s data. It demonstrates that people who write PHP really are worse or less intelligent but most definitely don’t belong, and we have every right to be contemptuous and cruel towards them.

The data supports it, after all.

There’s a wonderful saying that covers this beautifully:

Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong

  • H.L.Mencken

Well, Actually

So there’s a couple of things about people in tech that are relevant here, namely that we are blazingly incompetent at cause analysis and understanding the consequences of our actions.

Let me explain.

What are you even doing

The one is the most bizarre to me. As a programmer, my entire job is doing cause analysis through debugging and finding out why things are failing, and asking very specific why”’s as a service.

But using that same set of skills and abilities to examine the cultures around us is apparently so horrifying to even consider that it is rejected out of hand, even where we have an oral record of misery and despair, like dysfunctional employment environments.

We know these tools are powerful, because we use them every day. We know we can do amazing things, because we do amazing things every day, but we refuse to just use the tools.

Action begets Reaction

The second one is the strongly held belief in tech that we don’t need to examine or consider the consequences of our actions. This is visible with an example that came out today, where Hacker News openly admits to censoring anything related to diversity.

In a culture where it’s already normal to not care what our technical choices will do to others, this provides reinforcement that we will never have to.

ASK WHY ALREADY

So the major question with that data that I have is why. Not why are they asking on Stack Overflow”, or why are they using PHP, but why did they learn to code this way”.

That is the giant neon sign question that comes out of this data, the fiery inferno of something is very wrong here.

So, why?

Well, let’s add some framings. One, tech culture is highly contemptuous of PHP, a state that traces itself back to Perl’s CGI/Web dominance and relevance being eroded, and the attendant contempt culture that reinforced. This has the effect that if one is trying to learn PHP, either to make their own website, or learn what they need to work with Wordpress, they are made to feel awful by anyone they discuss it with.

So, they’ll tend to puzzle it out on their own, working with some tutorial material they find online.

Ah-hah!” I imagine you saying, preparing to stop and tell me that the tutorials are awful and that these new programmers should know better.

And I have one response.

 How?

These people are making a rational choice to learn to work with, to take one example, Wordpress, which is one of the biggest projects around. There’s a huge market for making themes and providing plugins for Wordpress, why would I not want to be a part of that?

But we’re not considering the consequences of our actions. We act like contemptuous jerks, they wisely disengage, and then we use that disengagement and attendant insecure practises to reinforce our own contempt.

We don’t consider why people do what they do, and take into account all the inputs, and I say that because this has been happening to PHP users since the 90s.

We, technologists, programmers, all of us, through the adherence and perpetuation of contempt culture, drove early PHP programmers out by making them feel bad. So they built their own communities, and wrote tutorials, and learned on their own. Those cultural artefacts are still around, and we can see their effect in the data in front of us.

People don’t want to learn from us because they don’t want to be around us, and we mock them when they ask us for help. To this day.

Better Consequences

This data is a wake-up call. It’s a canary that tells us that our culture is poisonous, that we are not teaching people how to act securely, that we are pushing people outside our ability to help.

We are not making a better world. We are refusing to look at the consequences of our actions.

When we try to say we’re nice now, that we’re approachable and won’t bite is hollow and meaningless, because we’ve spent a lifetime being proactive with our contempt and hostility.

Which means we have to be proactive to fix it. We have to care and reach out, we have to do the work, because ultimately we’re responsible for the situation we’re in.

Call to Action

Our culture is to blame, our culture of me, of you, of everyone who’s ever bashed PHP or its users.

But pointing fingers doesn’t help, we just get into another cycle of demonstrative contempt where I can assert that I am better than you because I didn’t do it as much.

It also doesn’t make the code secure, or help that they made these mistakes.

So how do we become proactive? How do we actually help?

Programming, tech as a whole, is a service entity. We exist to support and enable. You have knowledge on how this is harmful, and they don’t. You can help fix it, but not by being an ass about it.

So there’s a three step process to doing something constructive.

  1. find all the people around you who work with PHP, who have had to endure contempt culture, and apologise for perpetuating it. Really mean it.
  2. Humbly offer to help.
  3. Humbly actually help

You’re not here to show your superior knowledge or to shame people for not knowing what you know. You’re here to help others learn and grow, to show them that they’re not bad for not knowing, but that it can be harmful.

That there can be consequences.

So do the work. Reach out. Help your friends, acquaintances, neighbours. We can make the world better.

We can be better than what we are.

We just have to try.

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xowx
217 days ago
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