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February 27th, 2013
Why I oppose same-sex marriage; or: integration is the wrong approach to GSM rights.
lithiana: (Default)
an angel dressed in the blackest lace (lithiana) at 01:26 am:
There's a lot of fuss at the moment about gay marriage, or same-sex marriage, or equal marriage, or whatever you want to call it. Conservatives and the religious right are heralding it as a sign of the end times; the moment two queers get married, civilisation itself is going to collapse. Liberals are patting themselves on the back and feeling good about how open and enlightened they are, letting everyone into the institution of marriage, so we can all have happy, successful families. And GSM rights advocates are hailing it as a huge breakthrough; a victory for GSM acceptance into mainstream society and a sign of a sea change in society's perception of us.

All these people are wrong.

Mainstream society is rotten. It is infested with the taint of misogyny and privilege. It is built on centuries of patriarchal rule and oppression that manifests itself at every turn. Society doesn't want queers; it hates us. We force society to confront its heteronormative assumptions, and society responds by turning its back on us, and pushing us away. Society wants its enforced gender roles, and its simple binaries (male/female, gay/straight, liberal/conservative), and it wants everyone to conform to its rules and structure, because rules and structure give people a framework to exist in. They don't need to think about anything, or have their assumptions challenged. They can go on living in the same box they always have.

But, I hear you say, society likes GSMs now! Heck, more than 50% of the population even supports same-sex marriage -- haven't we won?

No, we haven't. Society doesn't accept GSMs; it accepts respectable, middle-class gay men and women who can sit at the dinner table and behave like normal people. Everyone is happy to let them do whatever they like in the privacy of their own bedroom, as long as they keep it to themselves when they're out in the real world.

Some people want that. There are more than enough gay people who are happy to integrate into society and be like everyone else, in return for a condescending pat on the back and the chance to finally act the way their parents told them to act. This is not victory, it's surrender. It's the easy way out. It does nothing for queers who don't fit into the nice gay box.

Society doesn't want trans people. It hates trans people. This so-called "LGBT-friendly" society doesn't understand them and it doesn't want to understand them, because they challenge the gender roles that society is built on. It responds with derisive mocking, violence and exclusion. The most acceptance you're going to get from mainstream society is people who think they're clever because they're cool with the idea of a "woman trapped in a man's body". As long as they don't have to, you know, actually meet one.

What's even worse than trans people? Well, how about genderqueer, genderfluid or agendered people. Here we have people who don't only break assumptions of gender roles and identity, they break the entire idea of the gender binary. No one wants that. Try explaining what genderqueer means to the average straight person. If you're lucky, you might get a nod and a smile. More likely, you'll get a laugh or a comment along the lines of "oh, why do you have to make things so complicated?".

Even a simple, straightforward concept like bisexuality is too complicated for society—and in many cases it seems to be too complicated for GSMs, too. No one can just be bi. We have to be bi and poly; or we're incapable of being faithful in a relationship; or we secretly crave whichever set of genitalia we're not currently sleeping with; or we're really just gay and didn't realise it yet. That last one is a favourite from gay people. Not because they're naturally biphobic, but because they've been taught by the LGBT integration lobby that we need to conform to society's rules, and bi people do not conform.

It's time to say fuck that. Integration into society means changing ourselves until we don't exist any more; until we fit neatly into the boxes society wants to put us in. Until society has straightened us enough that we're considered worthy of joining it.

I'm not going to change. I don't want to change. It's time to stop trying to change ourselves and instead change society to suit us.

This means rejecting the patriarchal structures society uses to control people. Marriage? Fuck marriage—it's nothing more than a tool to oppress women and keep people in their place. I don't care if you want a gay marriage. What if I want to marry two people? Why do you get to marry and I don't? Your gay marriage is oppressing me, and it will continue to oppress me until we dispense with the entire system. You don't need a ceremony or a piece of paper to say you love someone. Marriage has never been anything to do with love, and people who think it is are buying into a sham invention that the patriarchy came up with to ensure the survival of their favourite tool.

What's the other favourite of same-sex marriage supporters—stable long-term relationships? Everyone is always talking about how gay people are capable of stable, long-term relationships. Well, fuck your stable long-term relationship. If I want to sleep around, I'll do it, and there's nothing wrong with that. I'll sleep with one person, or 20 people at once, and I won't keep it a secret like it's something to be ashamed of. I don't have children and I don't want children. I'm not going to base my relationships on what society expects me to do. You want children? Great; you should be free to do that without prejudice. Just like I should be able to do what I want.

It's time to stop accepting half-measures and denying who we are because the integration lobby tells us to. The next time someone tells you to tone it down, or take things a step at a time, or stop "acting so gay", or not mention whatever thing it is you do that society doesn't like, ignore them. Tell them that they are the thing that's holding back GSM rights. And when someone tries to stifle you or tell you you're wrong or irrelevant because you don't conform to their heteronormative assumptions, tell them they're wrong. No issue is too small or too unimportant to take a stand on, and the world will never be "good enough" until there is not a single person left as an outcast because of who they are.
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May 13th, 2011
lithiana: (Default)
an angel dressed in the blackest lace (lithiana) at 04:49 am:
So, apparently The SCO Group (nee Caldera) has been acquired by UnXis, a new company set up for this purpose.

I've always thought SCO (both the old and the new one) had fairly decent products; OpenServer was the standard x86 Unix for a long time, and the company understood how to sell to the SMB market, something other Unix vendors (except Dell, perhaps) never really managed. Unfortunately, under Darl McBride, the company rather lost its way, culminating in the ridiculous Novell/Linux litigation which ended up bankrupting the company.

A side effect of this was a notable lack of investment in their software technology; there have been no real updates to the SCO's Unix products since the 90s, and while OpenServer 6 (the last major release, in 2005) added several important new features, this was mostly the result of porting technology from UnixWare (their other operating system) rather than new development. Today, SCO's products are nearly obsolete (not even supporting 64-bit x86 hardware, for example) and it's hard to imagine choosing that platform for a new deployment.

Despite that, I think UnXis has a good opportunity here. Other than Linux, there are only two serious Unix platforms for x86: Solaris and OpenServer. Sun was never able to sell to the SMB market effectively, and Oracle has made it clear that they don't care about this market either (and even Oracle's enterprise customers are grumbling about changes since Sun was acquired). As a small Oracle customer, I am actively looking for alternatives, and an updated Unix product from SCO would certainly be interesting.

Bringing a product (or company) back from the brink of death is not easy, but if I was UnXis, this is how I'd do it:

Firstly, UnXis needs to retain its existing large customers. This means making the ownership transfer simple and non-disruptive to customers (something Oracle failed at with the Sun purchase), and making a clear statement about the future of OpenServer. Retaining existing customers will provide a revenue stream to fund future development.

Next, they need to make a large investment in updating their product line. The most obvious update needed is support for 64-bit hardware, and support for large systems (multi-core systems with 64+ cores and 256GB+ RAM). This might involve an overhaul of the VM system. The userland needs to be updated to add common utilities and options that users expect. The packaging system should be improved to make finding and installation software easier, and there needs to be a simple mechanism for installing OS updates. It should be simple to install common open source software.

OpenServer has always had decent support from hardware vendors, and UnXis needs to build on this to ensure it continues to have good driver support. It should be possible to install OpenServer on a modern system and be sure the hardware will work well without fiddling. This includes X drivers (NVIDIA, KMS, etc.) for the desktop.

A new desktop should be provided, probably based on GNOME, and common software (such as Firefox) should be available. Linux emulation might not hurt. Enterprise customers don't care about this, but enabling end-users to use OpenServer in the same way they use Linux now is important in attracting new customers; if people use it at home, they're more likely to use it at work and pay for it. Some version of OpenServer, suitable for home users, should be available for free.

Veritas Volume Manager should be updated to the current version and available in the base system. With the prevalence of SAN storage now, not having a decent volume manager available as part of the OS is inexcusable.

SCO always had a good relationship with Microsoft, and this should be built on, especially since Windows is the standard platform in the SMB market. This means good support for Windows technologies like CIFS and Active Directory, both as a client and a server.

Then, OpenServer needs to be promoted, and available everywhere. This means if you buy a new system from Dell or HP, it should be possible to buy an OpenServer license with the system, and the system should be certified for use with SCO products. Since OpenServer has a reputation for being old and outdated, a marketing campaign is needed to promote the new features that make it interesting again.

"Available everywhere" includes virtualisation. It should be available pre-installed on virtualisation platforms like EC2, and include full support for common virtualisation technologies (VMware, Hyper-V, Xen, KVM). Some kind of lightweight virtualisation platform should be added, comparable to HP-UX Containers or Solaris Zones.

There's a few other features, I wouldn't mind seeing, but this is a reasonable starting point. I don't know if this is enough to fix SCO, and if UnXis were a public company, I don't think I'd be buying shares in them at the moment. However, I do think they have a chance to do something interesting.
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April 26th, 2011
lithiana: (Default)
an angel dressed in the blackest lace (lithiana) at 03:13 pm:
In last week's New Statesman, David Attenborough wrote an essay on the problem of uncontrolled population growth. His argument was that current population growth is unsustainable, and must be reversed, through increased availability of contraception, liberation of women and education. This is necessary because we're very quickly approaching the absolute limit to the number of people who can be exist on the planet, and the alternative is enforced population decline through war and famine.

I agree with everything he said, and it's so self-evident that I see no reason to present an argument for it.

However, I was surprised that he didn't mention what's surely the most serious barrier to population control: an economy based on debt. The transaction underlying the global economy is that companies borrow money against future growth, then pay it back with interest to fund the next round of loans. (I believe this is well-known capitalist theory, and not a new idea.)

If growth stops, as it must do when both labour and natural resources start to decline*, the entire system breaks down. While it's tempting to say that this would serve them right, such an event would adversely affect everyone, not just the rich -- and in any case, it's the rich who decide policy.

Population control and reduction in natural resource use and harmful emissions are both important, but it's futile to try to force through changes that directly threatens the basis of the world economy.

* There is an argument that growth can still be achieved through efficiency savings -- as many companies are already doing, to offset a reduction in revenue -- this can only be taken so far before it starts to flatten out.
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Plod save the Queen
lithiana: (Default)
an angel dressed in the blackest lace (lithiana) at 09:31 am:
With the royal wedding approaching, I've heard several people mention that the cost of policing it will be £12m, and that, since this is a royal wedding, this cost should be paid by the royal family.

I don't like the monarchy -- it's an outdated and irrelevant institution in desperate need of being abolished -- but I can't agree with this. The right to police protection is universal, not means tested, and applies no matter how well-off someone is.

If the police cannot afford to do their job, then that is a problem that needs to be fixed, either through efficiency improvements (if possible), or otherwise through progressive increases in taxation to increase funding.

It's tempting to think that having the rich pay for policing that's necessary because they "caused" it -- for example by holding a public wedding -- is a progressive solution to the problem, but in reality this is just a way for the state to shirk its responsibility to the public, and opens the door to a situation where paying for basic services becomes an indirect tax on everyone.
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April 22nd, 2011
lithiana: (Default)
an angel dressed in the blackest lace (lithiana) at 07:35 am:
It's interesting how religious leaders can completely change their beliefs when it happens to be convenient. I wonder if God revealed himself to the defecting clergy and declared that, actually, the host does become the body of Christ?

I imagine plenty of people have noticed the comparison to the original founding of the Church of England, although in that case the king could at least justify his actions as a king, what with his divine right and so on. How convenient for the monarchy that their power should come directly from God; and convenient again for parliament, when it was later discovered that in actual fact, there is no divine right of kings.

I have no explanation for why religious doctrine is so malleable, and seems to be constantly changing to support the whims of the ruling classes. It's almost as if the Church has nothing to do with God at all, but exists only as a crutch to support the oppression of the people. But that would mean that thousands of years of religious teaching was completely worthless... surely that couldn't be the case?
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January 10th, 2011
lithiana: (Default)
an angel dressed in the blackest lace (lithiana) at 09:00 am:
I can't get along with reading content online. A short blog post is fine, but trying to read an entire magazine, for example, is uncomfortable at the best of times. So although everything I read in print is also accessible online, I always read the print version.

I see there are now quite a few "e-readers" with e-ink screens, which are meant to be much nicer than reading something on a monitor. I've never tried one, but I'm prepared to accept that this is true. The problem for me is the delivery mechanism. If I buy a Kindle, for example, my only options for reading are to manually copy the PDF to the device every day/week, or else hope that everything I read is available as a Kindle subscription.

Neither of these choices are acceptable to me. Compared to my existing delivery mechanism (a letterbox), manually syncing the content every day is just too much hassle, and most of what I read doesn't seem to be available as a subscription.

Is there a solution to this that I've missed?
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November 8th, 2010
lithiana: (Default)
an angel dressed in the blackest lace (lithiana) at 06:01 pm:
So, it turns out that most cask ale is not suitable for vegetarians, because isinglass (fish guts) is used as finings to filter the beer. Bottled beer is usually fine, since it's either cold filtered, or left to settle naturally. (I was surprised to learn that, since I always assumed cask and bottled beer was produced in the same way.)

Breweries who use isinglass claim that it's the only effective method to filter the beer. I wonder how true this is, especially since other breweries seem to have no problem producing beer without it.
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November 3rd, 2010
Automatic IPv6 reverse DNS
lithiana: (Default)
an angel dressed in the blackest lace (lithiana) at 09:32 pm:
IPv6 autoconfiguration is useful, but adding DNS entries can be a pain, especially on public networks where client addresses aren't known in advance. Enter dyn6: a PowerDNS backend to generate IPv6 reverse DNS entries for an entire network automatically.
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November 1st, 2010
lithiana: (Default)
an angel dressed in the blackest lace (lithiana) at 06:30 am:
This entry is public on DW (but not on LJ). I normally don't post publicly, but I think that's a bad habit, so we'll see how this goes.

I have had some kind of mild non-specific illness for what seems like all month. It is annoying.

Thanks to magic of VoIP, it's now cheaper for me to call the US or Germany than it is to make domestic UK calls. I have no idea why this should be so, but I assume it's due to insane termination charges from BT.

Since Fast Ethernet only needs 2 pairs out of a 4-pair cat5 cable, there's no reason not to run two Ethernet connections over a single cable (as illustrated). I knew this before, but for some reason I never thought to actually do it until now. This is much easier than running two separate cables down the hallway.

So, I've recently acquired an ALIX.2d3 single-board computer, for use as an ADSL router and VoIP PBX. It's not especially fast -- 500MHz Geode CPU and 256MB RAM -- but I think it should be enough for what I want.

I put a 4GB CompactFlash card in it, and installed NetBSD. When idle, with /var/log and /tmp mounted as MFS (memory) filesystems, the system seems to do about 1 disk write every 30 seconds (maybe the syncer?); other writes should be fairly minimal (mostly voicemail), so I think the CF card should last a while. If that turns out not to be the case, it also has a 44-pin IDE header, but I'm not sure if there's room in the case to mount an IDE disk.

NetBSD seems to run quite well on it: the only problem was that after disconnecting then reconnecting the Ethernet cable, no traffic would pass until the interface was manually reset (ifconfig down/up). Forcing the media type to 100BASE-TX seemed to fix this.

So far, it seems to work fine as a PBX, but I haven't tried it as a router yet; I'm waiting for DrayTek to fix this ADSL modem (Vigor 120) to work with the somewhat non-standard PPPoE setup my ISP uses. (It might be that the ISP switches to PPPoA before it's fixed, since DrayTek seem to be quite slow at actually doing anything with support requests.)
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