Much ado about cyber-nothing

I’ve been drowned in the world of tech over this holiday season. It is, after all, my lifeblood, as well as my hobby — it’s how I pay the bills and help keep this family afloat. So time has been in short supply for anything but work, and I’ve been choosing (as I mentioned recently) to spend most of my free time either playing Starbound (an absolutely incredible space sandbox game that’s still in pre-release — I’m going to write up a review ASAP), or working on learning Java and creating a procedurally generated platform game that will probably never see market because I suck at art.

Pictured: wanted cyber-criminal "The Hamburgler"

Pictured: wanted cyber-criminal “The Hamburgler”

Being drowned in tech as I am, the things I’ve been reading are mostly technology-related as of late. That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped being a skeptic or atheist — just that they haven’t been topics on my must-read list.

This particular piece in All Tech Considered made my skeptical and security-minded tech parts of my brain flip the hell out, and I figured I should share that feeling with you. The piece starts appropriately doomsday, extrapolating from the actual information at hand in a manner that makes me think the piece was written by a very experienced science journalist:

If your computer is infected with a virus or other forms of malware, disconnecting the machine from the Internet is one of the first steps security experts say you should take. But someday, even physically separating your laptop from a network may not be enough to protect it from cyber evildoers.

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What Does the Donkey Say

Some Christians just can’t leave well enough alone, apparently. They have to Jesusify even weird meme songs like What Does The Fox Say. The River Christian Reformed Church is responsible for this particular mess.

Wow. Really, wow. May your god have mercy on your souls and not throw you in the pits of eternal suffering for making bad things worse.

If you want to see the equally ridiculous but less offensively Christified version, go here instead. Hat tip to Christian Nightmares.

Happy holidays, everyone!

A Dynasty Falls

And good riddance.

Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty reality television show, recently did an interview in GQ — yes, Gentlemen’s Quarterly — wherein he described how his evangelical Christian beliefs come into conflict with the idea that some people might be gay in an absolutely offensive display of what many Christians really do believe. His TV show on A&E about his family of conservative rednecks — who became rich after he built an empire on the Duck Commander duck lures — now faces the terrible wrath of public opinion.

When my sister heard the news that he’d given his interview in GQ, and that GLAAD had publicly denounced his words, she posted a link on her Facebook wall. One of her friends — an ex co-worker apparently — swanned in to drop this steaming pile of opinion on her wall about how terrible it was… that anyone was asking A&E to reconsider hosting this douchenozzle’s opinion.
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Twitter: Fixed it for you

Dear Twitter,

I noticed you’re having a hard time balancing user issues with dealing with harassment and dealing with privacy. I further noticed you had a good idea for a change to a function that solves one class of issues, but that had side-effects that made another class of issues dramatically worse.

I think I have found a reasonable solution for your problem.

Do both.

Oh, and there are some more tweaks I can offer to help fix other outstanding problems, if you’ll listen.

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The reason for the season: persecution complexes

Everything Is Terrible found a video about the persecution complex Christians have about Christmas, and they want you all to watch it.

Let’s count up the implausibilities. First, that anyone would make laws forbidding Christmas or Christian personal effects under any circumstances. Second, that someone would actually get fired for violating the Establishment Clause in a country that seems to love having public figures flout it publicly. Third, that anyone is actually attacking Christmas as a public holiday. Fourth, that a biker gang would be necessary to help lift a cardboard cross up to a building, or that lifting a five foot cross up the side of a building is even the best way of getting it to the top. Fifth, that a video ending with the main subject of the video getting blown up, and the cameraman too, would somehow be considered acceptable to display unscreened at a nativity play. Sixth, that Aron Ra would play God.

Okay, that last one, he might do it tongue-in-cheek.

You poor Christians, making up the majority of your country, are being persecuted, just by being forced to acknowledge that you don’t make up the ENTIRETY of your country and that forcing your religion on the rest undermines the whole reason your country was founded? Hah.

Nobody’s preventing you from worshipping privately however you want. The Establishment Clause just means you can’t do it on government grounds, using government taxpayer-derived funds, or in a way that encourages your religion over any others while doing work that nets you government pay, to steal Crip Dyke’s wording in comments. That’s not an abrogation of your rights — it’s a protection of them. And I know you get this, viscerally, because you absolutely hate the idea of a Muslim or, heavens forbid, an atheist in office. If you try to allow your government to enshrine your religion within it, that’s when you risk losing the most should some other person of some other religion comes into power.

Ascension of the Jackdaw

So, Assassin’s Creed 4. You’re a pirate. It’s kinda awesome, though I’ve mostly so far only watched Ben play it rather than playing it myself. But like all games, there are glitches.

This one was amazing.

Yes, the choral music was added as a joke.

I love glitches like these in games because they illustrate a topic I always find interesting: emergent behaviour. These actions were not specifically programmed, but came out of something askew being input in some variable in all the existing equations that under normal circumstances worked perfectly sanely. It’s like how Newtonian physics works in most cases, until you get into cases near light-speed or around black holes, where you need special relativity because something wacky happens to the calculations. This was something very wacky happening to the calculations despite all the calculations working perfectly elsewhere.

The whole damn universe is a set of emergent properties for a very simple and very fundamental ruleset that probably is itself a result of some other extradimensional brane-collision or fold in the fabric of the multiverse. Time itself is an emergent property of the existence of our universe. Physics and chemistry and life, all emergent. This sort of complexity emerging from simpler rulesets is exactly why people are so frequently inclined to assume Goddidit.
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UN classifies lack of abortion access as a form of torture

PolicyMic reports:

Last year, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Reproductive Rights, Anand Grover, broke major ground by demanding the removal, without delay, of all barriers with regard to reproductive access globally, as well as granted access to contraception. In his report, Grover declared denial of access to abortion as discriminatory. Coupled with the new report from the Special Rapporteur on Torture, women’s rights activists worldwide are cheering.

In his report, Méndez, too, holds that denial of reproductive justice is discrimination on the basis of gender and denial of that right can cause “tremendous and lasting physical and emotional suffering” to women. According to the Special Rapporteur’s report, such violations include:

Abusive treatment and humiliation in institutional settings; involuntary sterilization; denial of legally available health services such as abortion and post-abortion care; forced abortions and sterilizations; female genital mutilation; violations of medical secrecy and confidentiality in health-care settings, such as denunciations of women by medical personnel when evidence of illegal abortion is found; and the practice of attempting to obtain confessions as a condition of potentially life-saving medical treatment after abortion.

I absolutely agree that every aspect condemned as torture would, if done to a man under apposite circumstances, count as torture — as cruel and unusual punishment, as discriminatory. That it takes the United Nations to declare it such suggests to me that people do not realize this fact; that people do not realize this fact suggests further that the people claiming “patriarchy is a lie” are incapable of seeing torture of women as actual torture, because the evidence is right there in their faces that these torturous circumstances exist only for and disadvantage only women, and that men are using the fact of women’s ability to become pregnant to control them utterly.

Does this declaration mean we can frog-march people attempting to restrict abortion access in, say, Texas and elsewhere, off to The Hague? A guy can dream…

Skepticon video: Greta Christina – Avoiding Activist Burnout

I absolutely loved the shorter version of this speech that she did at another con a while back, and was pleased to get to see it live. Unfortunately for me, though, Dave Muscato of American Atheists had put out a call to the intertubes asking whether or not anyone had a flash card reader and the ability to transfer a movie file to him by email. I happened to be on my laptop with a flash card reader and an internet connection, so I swept out to be the big damn hero and ended up missing a significant chunk of this speech. I’m happy this video exists so I can fill in the missing bits.

At the moment, I am actively attempting to control my activist burnout by learning Java programming, learning LibGDX, and generally pursuing my pipe dream of building a rogue-like Castlevania-alike platform game with retraversal and RPG stats*. It seems like a more immediately attainable goal, to me, than expunging sexist sentiment from a community whose members often prioritize getting along in a big-tent fashion rather than actually fixing the systematic empathy failures entrenched in some quarters.

* If you don’t get this, and care, ask me. I’ll explain. At length.

Mock The Movie: The Indestructible Man transcript

We were originally going to mock Brain Twisters, a hacksploitation classic, but Hulu pulled the movie the week before we were going to mock. That, coupled with the fact that we’d begun scheduling Mock The Movie for the first Wednesday of every month after realizing our core participation was experiencing something like mockery burn-out, and we had to start spacing it out a bit more.

The replacement that Stephanie picked out from the Youtube public domain archives was a grand choice, quite frankly. A movie with Lon Chaney as a monster, mediocre acting, but just enough of a plot that we could poke holes in it and pacing such that we weren’t particularly bored trying to do it. I think this movie hit a lot of our sweet spots. And there was some new blood in the mockery mix! Welcome aboard, folks!

Next movie up is Slugs: The Movie on New Year’s Day. Check out the calendar and past transcripts (provided by the ineffable CompulsoryAccount7746 as always) right here. Here. CLICK HERE. GODS JUST CLICK ALREADY.
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