Category Archives: I don’t know why, it just is!

International Mens Day

Yesterday was International Mens Day.  Google had 13 important Men who have made contributions to the world and to society in a special Google Doodle.  The TV had some short shows throughout the day celebrating several Men who stand out in the world for having made tremendous contributions to western society.  People were talking about the day at work and taking an interest in the people highlighted, some of them were long dead but still respected over 100 years later.

It would have been very nice.  Except it didn’t happen!  International Mens Day happened but in a deathly silence.

There was a podcast that got released though.  It pretty much covers it.

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Something

Something I’ve noticed while being in the States is that people talk in polemics.  Brief statements presented as facts.  Mostly, facts that are presented as things not to be challenged.  This is the American way of communicating.  If you want examples you can turn on the TV and watch any American TV show.  You’ll see statements and not discussions.  Very few questions and very few explanations.  The very seed of this post is that it appears that the word ‘because’ is not in the American vocabulary.  At least, I’ve noticed that it almost never appears in conversations.

I wonder why this is?   Maybe it’s beca..

Is society going to change what has been accepted for millennia?

 

There are people who for whatever reason feel that they are born in the wrong body.  At some point in their life they might go through operations to change their genitals from male to female or vice versa.  They might use hormones to alter the way that their body behaves, they might grow breasts or body hair depending on the sex they want to change from.  There are people who are born with both sets of male and female genitals and a bone structure somewhere between what is generally considered to be normal for both sexes.  This over my lifetime at least has generally come to be accepted by the majority of society.  This I think is a good thing.

There appears to be a movement developing to give Gender identity more importance than the Sex identity.  The people in the movement want to create changes in society to “allow them freedom of expression” in terms of their gender.

This manifests itself in the desire to have third toilets in all public establishments or allow people who identify as a sex other than what they physically are to use the toilet that they wish to use.  Target managed to become embroiled in this recently.  The people involved in this movement appear to be generally under 25, have the opinion that the world is against their freedom of expression and that everyone else needs to shut-up and they should come first.   Things that people within this movement believe include:

“My gender depends how I feel on the day”
“We are trying to find ways to live outside the Binary (male/female)”
“My pronouns” use of we/they singular pronouns as a way to avoid he or she in speech – with explicit desire to own the pronouns personally.
“Doctors looking at a babies genitalia when they are born and deciding what sex/gender they are from that point is an act of violence”
We are “living outside the norm and having different experiences than the norm”
Saying anything contrary to what we feel is to “miss-gender”

Apparently one person has committed suicide because they were being miss-gendered by the very people trying to help them while in psychiatric care.  Obviously this is very sad.  Anyone who attempts to get help should obviously be treated with every respect.

I remember being in class one day and being told that we should use the word Gender rather than Sex when designing questionnaires and discussing the responses in our essays.  I asked what the difference was between Sex and Gender and the response I was given was that it was difficult to explain but gender is to do with your identity and how you identify yourself in the world and sex is to do with the sexual organs that you were born with.  A reasonable response from someone who at the time was the Head of Education and is now the Dean of Education in the school.  So your Sex and your Gender are two different things.  One is the way the doctor identifies you at birth for the most part Male or Female or where there is physical differences from the norm the doctor makes an educated guess based on what they see.  This has resulted in people growing up and feeling that they are in the wrong body and requiring assistance often to have physical alterations carried out to make them feel more able to go about their lives.  The secondary aspect of this is that it conversely helps society accept them too.

This movement to use (Non-Binary) Gender as the primary way to identify people over the (Binary) Sex method of identification seems to be giving people license to live in a fantasy world where they get to tell people that they are neither male nor female.  The videos I have seen on YouTube show people who appear to be attempting to mix how they feel with their Sex.  In many examples they are so young that their bodies haven’t fully developed yet.  There are several people on you tube who are claiming to be Non-Binary yet clearly show the tell-tale signs of being either a man or a woman.

I think it is very sad that people feel the need to politicize their “Gender” and entangle it with their actual “Sex” to the point of denying their sex openly to the world, in most cases even though the world watching can easily figure out what sex they are.

The thing that bothers me the most about this is that these people are crying out for attention.  It’s appalling and offensive to those who have a genuine physical problem that needs addressing and to those who feel that they have been born in the wrong body who may wish to go through sex re-assignment surgery.

 

(As an aside I do not feel the need for gender lables in my life and I find people who need them strange.  However, I have taken every step to write this article in a manner that gets my message across clearly, explores the differences between sex and gender succinctly and in no way attempts to be offensive.  The quotes are from TV interviews and YouTube videos spoken by people active in the movement.)

 

 

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God Bless America

It’s thirteen days until the Presidential Election in the United States.  It’s clear to me that Hillary Clinton is going to win.  Trump is showing signs that he has given up and decided to focus on getting the most out of a bad job.  He is focusing on Trump TV and attracting his supporters to subscriptions to his service, rather than getting more people to vote for him and taking more steps to ensure that he wins.  Even a cock-sure megalomaniac like him needs to ensure that he wins in this kind of competition, over confidence would be a weakness.  Otherwise the rigging that is going on and the bought-and-paid-for media will ensure that Clinton wins.  That’s a given and always has been since the primaries.  We’ve seen how Sanders was basically removed from the race, we’re at least aware that Clinton has had dissenters killed.  So now he’s given it a shot and stroked his ego he’s turning the race into a money-maker in true Trump style.  I think it’s a clever move on his part too.  The bit that rubs me the wrong way about it is that from the beginning, this race has been run by Trump on the platform of “the media is corrupt, all you people (the journalists at his events) are corrupt”.  So this message has been drilled into the psyche of the american people.  The cat is out of the bag now.  In reality the bag was already empty, approval of the media is down from 35% in 1993 to 18% in 2014 (Big Think, 10/27/16).  So 82% of Americans do not approve of the media, Sadly 96.7% still have own a TV and cable subscription (New York Times, 10/27/16) which tells you a lot about the apathy towards change to Alternative Media outlets.  It looks like from all the way back in the beginning his plan was to make money from this.  His investment is the money that he has put into running for president.  You might think ‘well, he has probably made a loss there, if he loses’ but think about it this way, if he had accepted donations and then decided to use this opportunity to hoover-up subscriptions while he has all his followers, then the donators would probably have sued him or at least he would probably owe them money?  This way he gets to turn what he has spent so far on at least pretending that he’s running for president into a profit from all the suckers who will buy a subscription from his service.  He’s been putting the media down for months only to join their ranks!  It’s pretty clever really, but pretty despicable all at the same time.  Much like Hillary Clintons antics.  What will Americans do on Voting day?  I am sure that the decision will be made by millions with a very heavy heart.

(Big Think, 10/27/16,  http://bigthink.com/ideafeed/the-american-medias-approval-ratings-hit-a-pathetic-new-low)

(New York Times, 10/27/16, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/03/business/media/03television.html?_r=0)

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Is there a way to avoid the NSA Equation?

News from Kaspersky labs that the NSA has covertly infected the firmware of hard drive manufacturers such as Western Digital, Toshiba, IBM, Seagate, Maxtor, Micron, Maxtor and Samsung is a shock to the tech world.

During the early 1990’s Hard Disk Drives became staple storage mediums in personal computer systems, reflecting their use in the mainframe environment that dominated industrial use of computers prior to the explosion of the use of the Personal Computer in the working environment. Since then the use of computers has become omnipresent in both the work and home life of billions of people around the world reaching the farthest corners of the modern world.

According to the sources at Reuters who formerly worked in connection with the NSA, the NSA confirmed that they had infiltrated the above manufacturers and modified the drive firmware to run spyware for the NSA without indication to the companies or their knowledge. This situation has apparently been in place for at least the last fourteen years. A detailed account of the exact issues can be found here: http://arstechnica.com/security/2015/02/how-omnipotent-hackers-tied-to-the-nsa-hid-for-14-years-and-were-found-at-last/

When you read around the story you find that in fact twelve categories of hard drives are involved. A list of these categories isn’t reported at this time or at least I am unable to find a list. It is also unclear as to whether this is restricted to platter based drives or includes SSD drives, USB media and CDRom/DVD media. It would be very interesting to find this out.

When you look at the diagrams found at http://theregister.co.uk/2015/02/17/kaspersky_labs_equation_group/ it becomes evident that Windows operating systems are the primary target. Maybe they are the only target. This is the worlds favourite operating system so this makes sense.

In the context of privacy on your own computer, it occurred to me that ways around the NSA funded Equation Groups work with hard disk drive firmware might be:

  1. Continue to use your drives but boot from a Unix or Linux system and use VirtualBox to boot your Windows OS. Maybe this would avoid the Crayfish element of the system?
  2. Stop using your hard disk drives and take them out of your system. Instead use USB media to store your data and a Live CD to boot your operating system. This assumes that CD drive firmware is not modified.

Just thoughts. If you have a different angle on this topic I’d like to hear it.

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Generation Y

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There has been a lot of articles in the press recently about the latest generation who are coming of age and entering the workforce at this point in time.  Most of the comments being made are negative in nature and are composed of stereotyped statements such as:

They are entitled to it all
They expect to have their cake and eat it
They want less hours and more pay
Lots of leisure time (or at least a balance)
They reject overtime
They are clock watchers
Work is just a way to get money to pay the bills with
They believe high salary and status is important
They don’t wish to dress smartly
They lack discipline in all aspects of their life
The desire to do meaningful work is not important

These things I have picked out from an article from the UK’s notorious Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1257083/Hard-work-No-thanks-Meet-Generation-Y.html

It’s an interesting list to review.  As someone who works in education I am one of the many who have experienced the change in attitudes first hand.  When I started teaching I found that students would bring a folder, paper, pens and everything they might need.  Some still do.  But the majority do not.  Even in classes where most things are learnt digitally, expecting a student to bring their USB drive is a high expectation.  Expecting students to take handouts away with them or even take their own notes with them is a simple expectation that has fallen by the wayside.  Yet the students want the highest grades for the smallest amount of work done in the poorest quality.  Tardiness is standard too.  

My personal concern is that if you mix just a few of these suggested traits together and think about this generation financially then storm clouds appear on the horizon. What happens when someone who has a poor work ethic gets a job where they feel they can afford a mortgage – a house is a strong status symbol in many countries. They are likely to be high users of credit because they will feel entitled to use it because they have a job.  They are likely to rack up their debts quickly as they enjoy a comfortable lifestyle that they knew all along they should have.  Unfortunately their employer sees them as expendable Human Resources rather than people, isn’t this true of all generations now, and at some point they will lose their job.  They might be able to quickly gain new employment.  They may not.  But fret they won’t! Bankruptcy is there to save them.  Mum and Dad are there to save them.

I know that these are very sweeping statements that won’t apply to everyone, hopefully very few.  But isn’t this a time bomb waiting to go off?  The economy is already struggling under the weight of the mismanagement of debt by the banking system.  Maybe this generation has witnessed this and realised that integrity and personal responsibility mean nothing as there is always someone there to bail them out?

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Four years of credit card debt freedom

It’s been four years since I last carried a debt on my credit card.  I’ve lost my job, which used to be a large personal fear for me and I still haven’t used it due to good circumstances.  I’m pretty sure that I’ll be getting rid of it soon.

I Love The Internet

This week many UK Internet Service Providers blocked access to a range of Torrent sites because a court order requesting that they block the sites finally came through.
I googled: “How to access Kick Ass Torrents through Virgin Media” and got to this article:

http://news.softpedia.com/news/How-to-Access-KickassTorrents-and-Other-Censored-Sites-in-the-UK-339313.shtml

Now, the “come.in” link is a bit touch and go as to whether it works on my first use, but it does load the site eventually making a complete mockery of the court system.  The secondary effect of this court order is that it pushes the users of these sites further underground, all be it slightly.  It means that there are many more access points to places like Kick Ass Torrents that will actually get traffic.  Rendering the court order totally ineffective other than blocking the main entrance URL.

Totally pointless!  I’m sure the judges think that they just need to be keeping everyone thinking that they are doing their job and upholding the law.  I’m glad that the way the internet works means that peoples freedoms will remain intact even if a piece of paper with someones forced wish upon you arrives in the mail.

I used to curse the Internet Service Providers, not anymore.

A lot of people still access all sorts of sites that someone else says they shouldn’t.  It’s the Nanny State!  Mr Judge – we are not your kids!

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Love

Love has entered my life.  After several years of wondering whether I was invisible to the rest of the world, dealing with the depression of the troubles of last year at last there is positivity flowing towards me.  It is truly wonderful.

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