maradydd: (Default)
Because the rent-a-coder websites become clogged with bullshit requests like this and this.

Protip: if you're so incompetent that you have to outsource your homework assignments to an Indian codemonkey for $50 a pop, maybe CS is not the major for you.
maradydd: (Default)
Worth exactly what you paid for it, so hey, if I piss you off, all you wasted was your time.

Anyway. I recently read some discussion in a trans* community about the following excerpt from an HRC newsletter:
Getting the truth in front of the American public is no small undertaking. Extremist groups are not only attacking equal rights we've already won – they are raising millions to shut down progress on victories yet to come.

Backed by supporters like you, here's how we're making a stand:

* In Maine, preparing to defend marriage equality at the ballot – sure to be a major fight;
* In California, rolling out a massive initiative to organize clergy and religious communities in support of marriage equality;
* In New Hampshire, building grassroots pressure behind the marriage bill now making its way to the governor's desk;
* In New York, working with state groups to organize support for a marriage bill scheduled for a vote in the state Assembly today;
* In Iowa, ensuring elected leaders continue standing strong against the radical right's relentless campaign to overturn the recent court ruling;
* In Connecticut and Vermont, ensuring that marriage equality is protected forever.

Every single one of these efforts is being threatened. The truth is on our side, but we need YOUR support to broadcast it, talk face-to-face with Americans, and win hearts and minds.

The discussion was critical of the fact that transgender rights were not being addressed by the HRC's efforts at all. Now, this is a thing worth being concerned about, because there are some major issues going on in the US with respect to access to health care, access to housing, fair treatment in the workplace, fair treatment by the State Department, &c with respect to trans* persons. As an organisation which deals with sexuality-based discrimination issues, it is reasonable to expect the HRC to engage with trans-rights issues.

The HRC also has a lot of money, and it is tempting to assume that it can take on any goal it wants to. Making this assumption can lead to the conclusion that HRC is therefore deliberately ignoring trans* issues in favour of same-sex marriage. However, I submit that it is flawed reasoning to assume that the HRC's resources are unlimited; in fact they most certainly are limited compared to, say, the aggregate resources of the Republican Party and its supporters. This means that the HRC must pick its battles.

It is presently the case that there is legislation related to gay rights, and in particular to same-sex marriage, being considered in several state legislatures at this time. It is also the case that there are ballot issues and judicial issues related to same-sex marriage coming up that immediate, decisive action -- often in a grassroots fashion, as in the case of making sure people get to the polls in order to vote on important issues, or encourage their friends in areas of important ballot measures to get to the polls -- can make a major difference on.

Now, here is my question. What are some major trans* issues currently in front of the courts or the legislatures that I can have some impact on?

I ask that in all seriousness as a US citizen who maintains a residence in California. Offhand I can think of several government issues that I can affect, in California and in the United States as a whole, some of which have to do with same-sex marriage, some of which have to do with other issues with which I concern myself (e.g., privacy, copyright, open-source biology). For instance, if the petition for a rehearing in Strauss v. Horton is granted, I can write an amicus curiae brief -- a "Friend of the Court" letter. Is there a trans-rights case currently going before a state or federal court that I can research and submit a brief about?

How about a trans-rights referendum in some upcoming municipal, county, or state election? Is there, say, a proposition in San Francisco to require the City and County to cover HRT and SRS for trans* government employees? If so, I could encourage all my San Francisco readers -- and there are a lot of them -- to get out the vote. And they'd do it. That's the kind of people I make friends with. I could do the same for Houston, Austin, Iowa City, Chicago, Washington DC, Seattle, Miami, NYC, Boston, just by speaking up and getting the word out, thanks to my diverse group of friends. I can also write letters and make phone calls to Congresscritters, state and local representatives, and ask people in all sorts of places to do the same and get the word out themselves.

So I ask you, what are some time-critical issues that I can help spread the word about? Because HRC is going to have to focus on things that it can affect immediately, and really, that's the kind of thing I can help with too.

Is there a website I can go to that tracks trans* issues before the courts or legislatures? When I go to GovTrack and search using the keyword "transgender", I get seven results for the current session of Congress, six of which are memorial resolutions of one kind or another, the other of which is the National Hate Crimes Hotline Act of 2009. That's nice, but GovTrack only follows the US Congress, not state issues, and it doesn't do elections or courts. Is there a centralised repository of up-to-the-minute (-day would be fine, actually) breaking trans* political issues? Preferably one where I can send emails to my representatives with a convenient dropdown menu?

And finally, if there aren't any trans* issues before the courts or on the ballots at the moment, I strongly recommend putting some there. The issues exist, but in order to get them the attention they need in order to be addressed, they're going to have to be forced in the spotlight by someone taking a discrimination issue to trial, or by getting a legislator to propose some form of legislation, or by grassroots effort to get a proposition on a ballot somewhere.
maradydd: (Default)
In which postmodernism and the decay of the modern university from the inside out drive a man to the brink of madness and ruin, and the one thing he has evaded for the whole of his academic career is the only thing that can bring him back.

Extended discussion later, maybe. I am tempted to start dissecting this beast right now, if only for the fact that if I go to sleep now I will likely have nightmares about it. This is horror of Lovecraftian magnitude, though it more properly follows in the footsteps of Poe. The young man from Providence wrote terror stories, in which the Unspeakable Elder Things are outside not only the ken of man but also of what man can know. In Kirn's tale, as in Poe, corruption and evil emerge from within -- they are born of man, they take root in the narrator, and they suffuse and pervert one of the greatest institutions of mankind. Yet these monstrosities are classic Yog-Sothothery, for they are demons of unreason, blind gibbering egregores that wreak havoc on the narrator's very grasp of sanity. Nyarlathotep walks the halls and eating-clubs of Princeton.

Oh, and by the way, it's nonfiction.

Pleasant dreams.

PSA

May. 23rd, 2008 06:31 am
maradydd: (Default)
If that was you calling me collect (three four times!) from the Baldwin County Jail just now, fucking state your name intelligibly so that I can decide whether I'm going to pay $4.84 plus $.89/minute for the privilege of finding out what landed your ass in the hoosegow, kthx.

I don't think I know anyone who (a) has my landline number and (b) is likely to randomly be imprisoned in Alabama or Georgia, but I'm not going to block collect calls on principle, because for all I know, someday one of the approximately five people who does know my landline number might be locked up for something absurd (e.g. Being Transgendered While In Alabama) and need my help. But if I can't make out your name, I'm going to assume you picked ten digits at random and somehow ended up with me, and won't answer. YHBW.

Small world

Jan. 2nd, 2008 07:52 pm
maradydd: (Default)
There's a post up on BoingBoing today (ok, yesterday for me) about open vs. closed search algorithms, suggesting that the search algorithms used by Google, Yahoo et al are bad because of their lack of transparency. It invokes a comparison to an important concept in computer security: "security through obscurity" is dangerous because an effective encryption scheme should be equally hard to break whether you know the internals of the algorithm that generated the ciphertext or whether you don't.

I think comparing this to search is a bad (or at best misleading) idea, and expounded on this in the comments. But I'm far more entertained by the fact that the two best comments on the post so far come from two sources with whom I am tangentially familiar, albeit from totally different directions: [livejournal.com profile] jrtom and [livejournal.com profile] radtea. Small damn world!
maradydd: (Default)
As usual I am probably the last one to notice, but just in case I'm not: Script.aculo.us fucking owns.

Sometime in the reasonably near future I want to arrange, um, everything I have been thinking about in the last week and a half into an essay, the thesis of which is: if you are a Web 2.0 coder, learning Lisp will make you a much better Web 2.0 coder. No, really. And not just because of what Paul Graham had to say about his experiences starting Viaweb (short version: back during the early days of Web 1.0, they built one of the first truly agile web applications -- hell, quite possibly the first web application full stop -- and one that could have justifiably been called a Web 2.0 app if we'd had AJAX back then). I do not have time to expound on this right now, but I leave you the following points to mull over while I get my house in order:
  1. Dynamic HTML lives and dies by the DOM. If your code spends a lot of time modifying innerHTML members, you are doing it wrong. Javascript makes it easy, blissfully easy, to manipulate your content by manipulating its structure -- adding, removing and altering elements and their attributes by type and value.

    The DOM is a tree, and here is the Big Secret Insight about trees: trees are lists. Trees are dead easy to represent as nested lists, and if you can think in Lisp then you think in trees all the time anyway. Use trees. Learn Lisp.
  2. Remember my enormous long rant about C++ functors from a few weeks ago? Remember the part where I talked about "functions as first-order data"? Javascript treats functions as first-order data. You can create, modify, assign and replace functions at runtime. Yes, you heard me right: self-modifying code. The hardest thing about self-modifying code is getting your head around the fact that yes, it exists, and yes, you can do it. Go get comfortable with it. Learn Lisp.
More later.

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