Small Amusements and Memories

 

I like cups with funny sayings on them – funny to me, mind. A source of very minor contention in my household is my tendency to accumulate mugs – lots of mugs, a lot of them with amusing little phrases (one has an old-fashioned poison logo on it). I also have some plain mugs, and a while back I saw on Pinterest that there was someone who took a sharpie to their plain mugs and wrote on them, then baked the mugs to make the writing permanent.

Well, to satisfy my wanting more funny mugs, I decided to write on my plain mugs and not bake them, so that when the writing washes away, I can put a new funny saying. David was saying he needed a mug that had little lines on the side, measuring “Don’t talk to me… don’t talk to me…” and at the bottom, “You may now speak.” I retorted that he would probably never put the last bit on his mug, and he laughed and said I was probably right.

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Mom told me today that she was unable to sleep because of memories triggered by a documentary about the Philippine Martial Law era. She remembered how my father came very close to being arrested along with one of his friends, who was also a student activist – like most of the students of the time. They were to meet at the University of Diliman campus, but Dad was a little late. By the time he got there, he saw his friend being hauled off by police. The friend, Vic Mendoza, was able to discreetly signal to my father to pretend that they didn’t know each other. So my father, heeding that, walked past him, looked past him, even though it likely hurt him deeply to pretend that he didn’t know his friend.

Vic Mendoza was detained for a long time. Just before my father and mother were married, he was finally released. One of the first people he visited after his release was my Dad. Previously a man with a mischievous sense of humour and intelligent wit, he and Dad were known as a pair of clowns. Afterward he was a rather changed man – quieter, my Mom remembers. When my father asked him how he was, and what happened, Vic said, “Let’s not talk about it.”

Mom says that he and my father were very popular with the girls back in their college years because of their love of bouncing repartee back and forth. They were popular because you spent a lot of time laughing at what they said and how they said it.

She says that Vic later became a doctor, and indications that he hadn’t completely lost his mischievous nature from what torments he suffered while imprisoned surfaced around then. He had an American classmate, and for one reason or another they needed photo IDs. Vic offered to obtain one for the fellow. When the friend agreed, Vic got him an ID… with Vic’s face on it!

This is how you do it

So, recent posts have been complaining about the “Made To Care” method of ‘supporting a cause’ – but I’m pleasantly surprised today by a more considerate method of this from a surprising source.

That link goes to the Australian Government’s informational site on the whole voting thing.

And you know what? I’m okay with that. Why?

Because I have the option of clicking on it. It’s not an obnoxious auto-redirect to pro-gay marriage sites, and the site it links to is the official government site about the matter, which is all that’s important on it. The rest of it is up to the people. Yes, I’m using screenshots because Google’s main homepage is regional and affected by where you are. So, I’m not sure how you’ll see this outside of Australia.

So, kudos to Google for being …oddly upstanding on that. Given Google’s history I’m actually surprised by the low key and neutral presentation, but it’s a pleasant surprise, and appreciated.

Still, I share the same concerns about increasing technological presence and monopoly mentioned here.

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In related news, this vote is important, not just for whether or not same sex marriage goes through. I think the Australian people have the awareness that this is not just as simple as so many pro SSM advocates make it out to be. In fact, from England is a great example of why it isn’t.

For one thing, since SSM was approved in England, there have been changes and proofs that the No voters have every reason to be validly concerned about a Yes to SSM being the start of a number of erosions to Australian rights, protections and society. After all, it has happened in the US and England – indeed, it’s been declared that ‘Same sex marriage won’t be ‘proper’ until Churches can no longer opt out.’ This is in direct conflict with the usual assurances that there would have been protections that would allow religious groups and people to opt out of ‘participating in SSM’ – but as WordPress.com’s stance and other pro-SSM groups and speakers have shown, “Acceptance Without Exception” is the full end goal – a truly Orwellian aim that seeks to remove any dissent.

It became clear, during this year’s general election, just how militant the LGBT lobby have become, following marriage redefinition. The primary target was Tim Farron, leader of England’s third largest political party, the Liberal Democrats. High-profile journalists had heard that Farron was a practising Christian. In every single interview thereafter, they demanded to know. Did he personally believe homosexual sex to be a sin? He practically begged the commentariat, to allow him to keep his personal faith and legislative convictions separate. For decades, he pointed out, he had out vocally and legislatively supported the LGBT Lobby. Likewise, he had long backed same-sex marriage, voting for it enthusiastically. This simply was no longer enough.

Support isn’t enough. You must march and agree. Example: Michigan Farmer prohibited from selling apples because of his stance against SSM.

Last December, Tennes, who owns the Country Mill Orchard and Cider Mill in Charlotte, wrote a Facebook post explaining his family’s Catholic views on marriage, and how their deeply held beliefs are why his farm won’t host same-sex weddings.

The city’s response — banning him from its farmers market — reminded the former Marine of the time he spent near the border of North Korea. Tennes could see into the country, and it impacted him how people there live their entire lives in fear of the government.

That’s how he felt when he got the letter from East Lansing.

“I felt it in my gut. This isn’t real,” Tennes recalls.“We have freedom of speech in this country.”

Tennes felt especially betrayed that he was being denied rights he fought to defend while serving his country. His wife Bridget is a former Army nurse.

The East Lansing government isn’t backing down. In fact, it broadened the definition of its civil rights ordinance specifically to ensure the couple wouldn’t have access to the farmers market this season. It applied the ordinance to all of a business’ practices: In this case, what the Tennes do on their personal property 22 miles from East Lansing.

“We require everybody to conform their business practices to the East Lansing ordinance in order to use East Lansing property to sell their goods so that is applied to everybody,” says East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows.

That slippery slope people were worried about isn’t just about ‘who else would then demand the ‘right’ to be married’ – it included things like these. It is becoming increasingly clear that the fight for SSM or against SSM isn’t just about marriage – it’s about who has the right to conduct business, live peacefully, and who is to be granted the protection of law, the ability to have opinions and thoughts, hold that personal life is separate from professional conduct, and how children are to be raised. “Marriage Equality”‘s intrusion into nearly all aspects of our lives is massively under-stated by pro-SSM advocates. The reality is, we weren’t the ones who turned this into a battleground – their advocacy isn’t for equality, it’s for their being placed as having more rights and privileges as the rest of us – because the reality is, homosexuals are still a minority, and a minority should not have power over the majority. Screaming epithets that people who are against it are haters and bigoted adds nothing to the discussion, and indeed, only highlights that people who push hard for SSM are only concerned with their own indulgence and desires, and in fact consider other valid concerns such as the various ones listed above as ‘trivial and unworthy of consideration.’

A survey in Australia held earlier this year gave this result:

a full 59 percent of LGBTI people said they would oppose a legal exemption allowing religious celebrants (priests, pastors, or other ministers) to refuse to marry two men or two women.

Nearly 60 percent of LGBTI Australians said it should be illegal for a pastor to refuse to marry a same-sex couple. But it got worse.

A full 94.3 percent said a church or a religious organization should not be allowed to deny the use of its property for a same-sex wedding. Australia has yet to legalize same-sex marriage. When LGBTI people were asked if they would allow churches to refuse to host same-sex weddings in exchange for making same-sex marriage legal in Australia, a full 90.6 percent still opposed it.

Ultimately it is that attitude of ‘me, me first! Me only!’ that has been a source of great disgust and served to turn people away from support of SSM.

 

A Cloudy Day

The sky over here where I live in Australia is overcast. In the US right now, it’s September 11, but because I’m ‘in the future’ it’s Sept 12. (For the humor-impaired, that’s a mild joke, the bit about being in the future.) Nevertheless it seems more fitting than the blue skies and warmer weather had for my yesterday.

 

Sept 11 has, over time, become a combination of meaning for me. I do remember the horrible day the biggest terrorist attack in the world happened in New York, and the day holds significance for me in that regard. Why wouldn’t it? That was the day our world changed forever. (And yes it did. We have farcical situations like this one that Sarah Hoyt describes, for example, and the more generalised one in her blog post, which goes more into the societal change.) Incredible stories of that day still hit hard, the heroism of United Airlines Flight 93, the willingness of this female pilot, and, for me the lingering horror and tragedy of the Falling Man and the 200 odd who jumped… for me that is the strongest memory of the Twin Tower Terror attack. Flight 93 makes me weep tears of gratitude and pride, a fierce feeling of wanting to honor the people who fought back. The people forced to jump make me weep in sorrow and sympathy…and understanding.

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Blockout

So, WordPress.com’s official position to people who don’t want that banner is “Fuck you, we do.” I’m not joking.

This is WordPress.com’s official stance, you are not allowed to remove it and requests to remove it will not be accommodated.

https://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/rainbow-banner-6?replies=10#post-3012709

Specifically, they say that: “We absolutely respect your right to publish the content you choose to your site, but the navigation bar styling reflects WordPress.com’s stance as a company, and can not be disabled on request. ”

One of the more hostile responses shows up here. Staff responses have been to pretty much say ‘this question has already been answered, and the thread will be closed.’ It is very clear that WordPress.com – which is in control of the ‘log in with WordPress’ part and includes the reader banner – considers that the rights of other people are not as worthy of consideration as a certain group’s. Here’s an example of staff response that pretty much is ‘get lost.’

As per Sight Magazine’s article on this matter:

The banner, which was spotted on sites over the weekend, appears at the top of sites when users are logged in. In comments sent to several WordPress users who raised the issue via the organisation’s online support service, ‘rootjosh’, described as a member of staff, said that to “show our support for marriage equality, we’re showing the rainbow bar to all our Australian visitors”. He added that it would remain in place until the survey results are released.

“We absolutely respect your right to publish the content you choose to your site, but the navigation bar styling reflects WordPress.com’s stance as a company…” he said. “If this causes you to choose to leave WordPress.com, we’re sorry to see you go.”

So in other words, ‘Fuck you, and feel free to fuck off.’ (Oh and if you are moving, they’ll help you move!)

Comments to the above article of note are as follows:

I was so confused, I thought it was my browser playing up. I personally fully support SSM but I really don’t think that this is what a commercial business should be imposing on their customers especially as I pay for my subscription. I would have thought a far better approach would have been to ask us to opt in to the scheme – how difficult would that have been?

Another comment says outright that this action will push them to vote ‘no’

I don’t intend to leave WordPress, but I may end up voting No *just because they did this* – because it shows the coercive and arrogant way in which these campaigns for social transformation are being conducted, and also the extent to which they emanate from outside Australia, which has been digitally colonized by the American “cloud”.

But you see, opting in is not an option that was ever wanted – Support or else! There are others opting to leave.

The irony is, the SSM supporters actually didn’t want the postal vote to happen. Some of the reasons include monetary concerns, while others include purely political ones. As I noted in my previous post, my own reason for not wanting the banner were actually physical – by straining my eyes and dragging it up involuntarily away from the text that I am either reading or typing, simply because the splash of unexpected and distracting color. I’ve been having such severe headaches and eyestrain that actually kept me from doing work, sleeping well, and eating properly for days. I’m only starting to get over it.

All because dissent is considered wrong, people with valid reasons that have nothing to do with politics or SSM will be driven away from any sort of support.

So the Housemate came up with a perfectly valid solution, for those of us – including myself – who are not versed in code wizardry.

No problem.
Do this to have that banner gone forever (or until they work out a way to stop this from working):
Get the Add-On called “Stylish” for Firefox or Chrome from here:
WordPress is a speech platform designed to empower its users to have their say online without knowledge of code or fear of censorship. It is not the place of WordPress – no matter their personal views – to impose their beliefs or banners on anyone.
You can’t be a speech provider and then take sides in a debate. If you exist to provide people with the right to speak, you have to accept they may say things you won’t like. By forcing this banner to appear over the top of sites such as Church groups or this one, you are saying that speech is only okay as long as you agree with it. If that’s the case, WordPress is not a speech provider. It’s a propaganda provider.
I wasn’t even going to bother voting in the plebiscite before (I didn’t really care) but I will certainly vote “no” now.
EDITED TO ADD GLORIOUS DESCRIPTIVE COMMENTARY FROM HOUSEMATE: “The actions of WordPress are as offensive as an arse-fisting while unconscious during a visit to the dentist. You didn’t consent, and you had no opportunity to decline. You came for a dental job and received an anal invasion.”
Certainly, it is the way that dissenting opinions and options have been denied that only proves John Howard’s point on the matter.

The former Prime Minister told The Australian any changes to the social institution of marriage will result in wider consequences for the country…

Howard believes marriage equality is not about a “single” right and has called for the proposed same-sex marriage legislation to be produced before the postal survey closes in November to ensure the protection of parents, religion and free speech.

“People are entitled to know there are sufficient protections for people affected by those changes and the public is entitled to know what those protections are,” Mr Howard told The Australian.

He warned proposed protections for the rights of other Australians would be given “scant regard” if the ‘Yes’ vote succeeded and legislation was pushed through parliament.

The attitude of the ‘Yes’ supporters are showing that he’s right about the scant regard being given to others.

Personally I’m somewhat surprised at how vocal the ‘No’ side is being – I rather thought that the whole thing would show who the actual majority is when the vote happens. From discussions happening RL I’m hearing more people say outright that they will vote no – and the implication is they don’t like the implicit thought policing, opinion denying, and screaming at people who do have valid objections. They don’t like being forced to care.

update:

One of the valid objections that have been held about SSM is that agreeing to it will open the doors to being forced to agree about other forms of relationships, such as voluntary group marriages and incestuous relationships. I remember being told that this was a fearmongering view, and that trying to argue even on cautionary terms was bigoted and wrong minded.

Well, funny how that works out because in the trend of all the cautionary discussions I’ve had, I’m being proven right yet again.

Christians are now being asked to accept polyamory.

Sooooo in other words, being made to accept Islam’s polygynous marriage? Oh wait, that’s not what they want, right? It’s just ‘equality’ – except that it’s not as easy as they make it out to be, and certainly far, far more complicated than they want us to think.

The thing that most people might find strange is I think the decision to have an open marriage is a decision a married couple should have on their own. I don’t think they should be legalised simply because it doesn’t just affect the adults involved, but also children and property – say, in the case of a divorce from a group, who are the parents? How is parenthood defined here? Etc. But with the current system, it’s clear that parenthood lies with the biological ties, unless one gives up custody (see, successful step-parenting for examples.)

Getting the legal system involved here would make it very, very messy, even messier than current divorces and custody disputes currently are.

Currently there is nothing to stop say, two married couples from moving in together and having whatever sexual arrangements they want. They are able to designate power of attorney if they so wish, to the other couple, but that’s just touching on the legal complications of having four people involved. This example is assuming that there are no children and they have no intention of having children, but I figure that will not remain true forever. Where does the individual’s legal status end, and the group one take over? And again, what about children, and properties, as well as custodial and inheritance issues?

They haven’t thought it through.

Godspeed, Dr. Pournelle

I learned today that Dr. Jerry Pournelle passed away shortly after returning home from DragonCon.

I’m… in shock. I was squeeing only yesterday about his being part of the concentrated awesome of DragonCon. 

His last post on Chaos Manor mentions that he wasn’t feeling well; but it seems that he had a lot of fun at DragonCon.

I’ve had the good fortune and honor to interact with him at Accordingtohoyt.com – Sarah Hoyt’s blog. He has always been upstanding, erudite and intelligent in his contributions to discussions there, and his presence will be missed.

Godspeed, Dr. Pournelle.

The Democratic People’s Republic of NCWest

Or, how to efficiently kill off your longest-running product in a single sentence.

This wasn’t going to be my next post, but I am still stunned by the breath-takingly bad example here, that I decided to write about this. This is about gaming, so feel free to skip, unless you’d like the entertainment of watching a gaming company burn themselves to the ground with a single catastrophic post, highlighted by a single epically horrible line.

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Inconsideracy

So, apparently, this rainbow banner is a thing WordPress likes to have up every year. Somehow I missed it in the last years, and was lucky to.

It’s fucking obnoxious, and not just because I have no way of freaking opting out without having to resort to messing with my browser code- code which I don’t understand, and am thus forced against my will to endure it…

No, the biggest reason why I hate that fucking banner is because it causes really fucking painful muscular-stress migraines.

My initial reaction to the banner was to ignore it. But eventually I noticed that my eyes would jerk up to the banner while I was reading blogs, simply because it’s bright and eyecatching. After fifteen minutes of trying to keep my eyes on the text I was reading, I noticed I was developing tension headaches – the kind brought on by muscular strain – either in strained muscles in the neck, or eyes. These are cripplingly painful, and the times I’ve had these, I am basically unable to do anything but lie in bed in agony, eyes covered because at that point I am light-sensitive and cannot handle even dim light.

Seeking to avoid injury I went to look for a way to try click on a button or a checkbox or SOMETHING to remove it. There isn’t one. Apparently, it’s just something we have to ‘put up with’ since it’s a ‘temporary’ thing and the general message is I get that WordPress wants to convey to its’ userbase is “We are celebrating something wonderful and if, for any reason you don’t want to put up with it, you are a hater fuck who needs to hurt and hopefully die.”

People who have a fundamentally non-discriminatory reason -such as ‘that’s distracting and hurts my eyes’ – to want to turn off the damn banner have no recourse to do so. No, I’m no coder, and frankly messing with that shit will likely result in me breaking my browser, for a temporary fix.

I just want to turn off the banner because it hurts my eyes, keeps pulling my gaze away repeatedly and quickly from the text I’m trying to read.

But no, apparently, non-participation is verboten. You don’t want to be ‘seen as a homophobe, right kamerade?

All I get from this shit is that whoever came up with this is okay with the following:

“Only support for gay people and other approved minorities and viewpoints is important.”

“You are not allowed to opt out or say no, because that might be construed as being against.”

“Free speech only applies to what is approved of by the Left – all other speech and choices are hateful and bigoted.”

“There are no good people except those whose beliefs conform to my own.”

“Since bad people think bad thoughts, they are not entitled to the protections of society, nor should be given treatment or consideration as human beings.”

“We, the morally righteous, are permitted to enforce our orthodoxy through violence and force. You, however, may not force your morality on me by even speaking of it.”

“If it is a choice I do not approve of, you are not allowed to make that choice. You are not allowed freedom or choices, because you, as a naysayer, are no longer considered human or equal.”

Clearly, simply because this Asian chick would like to avoid eyestrain, I’m not allowed to have a ‘turn this shit off’ button, because that would be unsupportive. Somehow.

For folks who are supposed to be all about the ‘equal rights as human beings’ and claim that “I don’t have to participate if I don’t want to,” why am I not allowed to figuratively walk away from the ‘celebration?’ Why are my rights suddenly, less than theirs? Why can’t I be allowed the option to turn that shit off?

Hypocrisy.