TLS why; just, why?

So there’s this handy service called TLS check, which will scan a site for various security vulnerabilities. A useful tool. TLS is “transport layer security”, and is the protocol which underlies a lot of the secure stuff on the Internet. TLS check scans for security on both the web and e-mail services.

Here’s their logo.

TLS check logo: shows the text "TLS check" and a silhouette of a sexily posed woman


Why? Just, why? Was that really necessary?


I know nothing about Morrissey

I really do know nothing about Morrissey. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard his music. Apparently, it’s powerful stuff, and Morrissey himself is a powerfully controversial figure, whose public statements are often deeply problematic and at contrast with the nature of his work. This is a very good article, and it’s an interesting look at our interaction with and appreciation of problematic art, but I’m linking to it also because the writing is awesome:

I don’t know Morrissey’s motivation for writing the Smiths tune “Accept Yourself,” in which he sings “Anything is hard to find, when you will not open your eyes, when will you accept yourself?” I may never know what he intended when he wrote “Dial-a-Cliche,” but I know when I heard the lyric “You find that you’ve organized your feelings for people who didn’t like you then and don’t like you now,” it made me consider how, in remaining closeted, I was performing for an audience most of whom hadn’t paid a dime to get into the show.

Wow. Now that is art.


British Bankers (and their wives!) tell you how to save money

In what Melissa McEwan described as “the greatest thing you will ever read“, some London bankers and hedge fund managers (and their wives, because all bankers are straight men, dontchaknow), shared some tips on how to save money. It is absolutely hillarious, well beyond the dreams of parody.

The more money you have in your pocket, the more you will want to spend it. “Stop carrying a wedge of cash around with you,” said the ex-Goldman banker. “It reduces the temptation to tip people so much.”

Yes, because when you’re forced to cut back on your spending, the tipping should be the first to go. Do these people hear themselves? Are they actually asking to be put on a tumbrel?

The comments (both on Shakesville and on the original article) are a dream, too. Here’s my favourite, from Mr. Moneybags:

Kudos on finding that delicate balance between classism and sexism.


NOM: Willing, deliberate liars

The National Organization for Marriage has been spreading a host of falsehoods about research into same-sex parenting. Every so I often I lob a tweet about this to Thomas Peters, NOM’s Communications Director. He never replies, which is a shame, because I’ve always wanted to know what he’d say when confronted with these blatant…inaccuracies.

Well, Rob Tisinai finally managed to get through to Thomas Peters. Anyone want three guesses on how he reacted? Well, here’s the answer:

So now I know what Thomas Peters will do when confronted with NOM’s falsehoods: He’ll act like facts don’t matter.

My my, what a surprise!

Peters’s response isn’t surprising either.


Google Glass: Privacy, Surveillance, Technology, Data

Google’s new product, Glass, will enable secret video recording.

Now pretend you don’t know a single person who wears Google Glass… and take a walk outside. Anywhere you go in public – any store, any sidewalk, any bus or subway – you’re liable to be recorded: audio and video. Fifty people on the bus might be Glassless, but if a single person wearing Glass gets on, you – and all 49 other passengers – could be recorded. Not just for a temporary throwaway video buffer, like a security camera, but recorded, stored permanently, and shared to the world.

Recorded video will be stored not on users’ own computers, but in Google’s data-centres. With Google’s excellent technology, indexing such videos using face recognition and voice transcription many not be too far behind. And who will have access to that data?

This is, of course, one of those things that, in general, matters far more to the margenilised  (who are often poor) than it does to the early adopters (who, in the case of this expensive product, must be rich). And so, as ever, the concerns of the margenalised are not heard in the public debate.

Someone in Seattle has been deliberately annoying people by videoing them in an intrusive fashion. His actual purpose is unknown (he’s anonymous), but it seems he’s trying to make a point:

In most cases, people become agitated and tell him to stop. That’s when the cameraman makes his point: Cameras are everywhere already. This one just happens to be held by a person instead of mounted on a wall or traffic light.

That said, surveillance cameras are often not reviewed, and the footage is usually deleted unless there’s a crime to investigate. What will happen with Google Glass footage is anyone’s guess: it probably won’t follow existing proven solutions.

One possiblitity, of course, is strong social shaming of people who use such technology. Physical assault is probably going a bit too far, though it has been attempted.

I mentioned recently that I am mystified by right-wingers. One of our many points of difference is that they’re more scared of powerful government, and I’m more scared of powerful corporations. Governments are scary too, but at least we get a chance to vote on them. Monopolies, less so.

And monopolies really are a problem. Putting all surveillance into the hands of the “authorities” (be they the police, transport authorities, or simply business owners) isn’t safe either. Citizen recording of police action has helped out in more than one incident of violent assault by police officers, and CCTV footage does have a tendency to go missing when it shows police in a bad light. Steve Mann refers to this citizen check on authorities’ actions as sousveillance, and he does have a point. So where does, and where should, the power ballance lie?


Marriage (word, action; name, deed): the significance and cultural understanding thereof

Any relationship you have might be good enough for civil unions, but not for marriage.

At Box Turtle Bulletin, Rob Tisinai talks about why having marriage, not just civil unions, is important:

I have to think segregation of straight and gay relationships has a detrimental effect on gays. It denotes the inferiority of gay relationships. It leaves gays with an attitude of futility when it comes to commitment.

Compare also the Supreme Court brief by Olson and Boies.

Add to this Timothy Kincaid’s remarks on how legally confusing the current patchwork of laws are:

This year Ireland, as part of its new civil partnerships law, decided to recognize marriages – and similar institutions – from other nations as civil partnerships within its borders.

Ireland didn’t miss any country which recognises same-sex marriage, but it did miss various other “civil union” and “domestic partnership” arrangements, even some which were identical to marriage in all but name. Terminology: it matters.


Elderly trans* people in Indonesia

I have no idea what it’s like to be a trans* person in Indonesia. According to this report from the BBC, many of them are prostitutes. This can happen when prejudice against trans* people is so harsh that it’s all but impossible for them to get any other job. But it’s not a job for life. And that is why Yulianus Rettoblaut (known as ‘Mami Yuli’) has set up a home which provides food, shelter and skills training for elderly transgender people.


“sexiness is feminine-coded”

This is a righteous rant.

What do women who like guys want in their porn? Well, it varies (women: not a hive mind), but here’s a reasonably common desire:

‘smiling dudes’, ‘dudes giving bedroom eyes’, ‘cock’

Seems reasonable to me.

And here’s what the patriarchy thinks women want:

tough, aloof-looking shirtless guys with power muscles and weapons

Which some women definitely do want, of course (see: not a hive mind), but in many ways it’s also a masculine power fantasy:

  • Men in comic books/movies/TV/video games/etc. are who men want to be.
  • Women in those same media are who men want to fuck.

Which is a problem. It’s a problem which is addressed head-on in this rant by moniquill:

We could probably use this as a really interesting launching point for the fundamental disconnect between ‘what people actually find hot’ and ‘what society/patriarchy presumes is hot’ and how the assignations of gender roles and sexuality fuck with that.

Go read the full thing.


Note: These links are to Tumblr, which means it’s impossible to work out what’s going on. The thought process behind Tumblr seems to have been, “Let’s take a blogging platform, and remove all the features which make it usable, such as understandable navigation, and release it on the world. And let’s replace the comment system with a strange system of reposting stuff you like onto your own blog, and adding a note there. Or simply reposting without adding a note. Which means that anything popular will be duplicated a few hundred times and you’d usually have to follow a very very long chain of links to find the original.”

If that’s what the thought process was, well, congratulations, because that’s what they produced.

I do not like Tumblr. I do not understand why Tumblr is popular. At least the Tumblr blog “Sex Is Not the Enemy” tends to reformat and tidy up the stuff they repost, rather than just hitting the “reblog” button, so their Tumblr is readable, unlike most others. So read the article there.

No, I’m not going to be polite about it

And I see no reason why I should be.

Many many people have pointed out that a call for politeness, for some kind of superficial niceness, actually rarely serves to make the world a better place, or to deal with any kind of injustice. Often, in fact, it is a form of victim blaming, and/or an excuse to maintain the status quo.

Martin Luther King:

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

… the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice ….

Letter from Birmingham Jail.

Dianna E. Anderson:

How can I not take that personally?

For me, the discussion can never be abstract. ….

Because for me, it’s not just for funsies. It never will be. It is too real, and too personal for me to discuss it “for fun.”

The Theological Is Personal.

Fred Clark:

Scott wants you to understand that she’s not at all like the infamous homophobic preacher Worley. She’s totally different.

Worley wants to deny LGBT people their basic civil rights and legal equality because he hates them. Scott wants to deny LGBT people their basic civil rights and legal equality for other reasons.

See? See how very different they are? Same result. Same vote. Same fundamental discrimination enshrined in law. But Worley is mean. Scott is nice.

Look, here’s the deal: It doesn’t matter if you think you’re a nice person. And it doesn’t matter if your tone, attitude, sentiments and facial expressions are all very sweet, kindly and sympathetic-seeming. If you’re opposing legal equality, then you don’t get to be nice. Opposing legal equality is not nice and it cannot be done nicely.

You can’t deny people their rights and be nice about it.