Dec 222019
 

One slightly amusing aspect that seems to have been missed during the recent (to me at least) kerfuffle on Twitter between TERFs and trans-women regarding whether the later should be allowed into safe spaces for women, is the irony of feminists defending single-sex ‘spaces’ when their predecessors spent so long fighting against them.

Now let’s get a few things out of the way :-

  1. If a woman is so keen to be a man that she queues up to have her ‘bits’ re-arranged, then of course he’s a man (this way around doesn’t seem to get said enough). And the other way around.
  2. I’m not arguing that women need ‘safe spaces’ away from men.
  3. I’m not arguing that men should have ‘safe spaces’ away from women (although the non-orthogonality of this position disturbs me). The male-only clubs of the 20th century (and earlier) were unofficially used to exclude women from power.

TERFs are clearly in the wrong here – if women need safe spaces, so do trans-women … because they are women as well.

Oct 312019
 

Today it is Samhaim, I spotted an off-the-cuff remark on Twitter about women being executed for ‘witchcraft’ in the past, and I also knew that many men were executed for ‘witchcraft’ in the past, so I decided to see if I could get some half-reasonably accurate data on the genders of executed witches.

I got rather rough lists of names from both Wikipedia and here. Processing the two lists was not fun :-

  1. First I removed duplicates where possible.
  2. I flagged as M(ale) all the names that were obviously (to me) male. Or where there were other clues (“husband”).
  3. I flagged as F(email) all names that were obviously women, those where there was some doubt, and those where there was a hint (“daughter”).
  4. I flagged as F(emale) all surname-only names.

This quite possibly over-estimates the number of women executed for witchcraft, and is nowhere near accurate (a list of 477 names out of tens of thousands is a hopelessly small sample).

Out of that list of names, 384 were women (approximately 75%) and 113 were men (approximately 25%). This is nowhere near equal, but neither were male executions so rare that you can honestly say “women were executed for witchcraft”; it has to be “women and men were executed for witchcraft” (or some variation of that).

Having said that, it would be nice to see some proper historical statistical work done to see if a more accurate ratio could be determined.

The Red Door
Oct 302019
 

I was recently involved in a bit of a twitter spat when I ‘came out’ as an atheist in a religious thread. I was agreeing with a sentiment that a religious moderate put out (except for the “god bit”).

In response, I had two religious fruitcakes going on about how I would find god if I suffered enough.

No, I won’t.

And how condescending is it to assume my unbelief is only skin-deep, and at the first sign of trouble I’ll start asking for help from an infectious imaginary friend?

Put the boot on the other foot: Do christians give up their god at the first sign of trouble? Do muslims? Imagine ‘coming out’ to an atheist that you’re a christian, and the response: “Never mind; maybe sometime you’ll regain your sanity and become god-free”

Impertinent isn’t it?

Giving The Sky The Finger
Oct 262019
 

All those “intelligent” voice assistants – Google, Siri, Alexa, smart cars (not not “Smart cars”), etc. all have a seriously damaging misfeature. It is most evident (and indeed amusing) when you are watching a review of a smart car.

All of these voice assistants activate when they hear a particular sound pattern (a word) which is fixed. Now there are probably technical reasons why it is fixed, but that does not mean they cannot be overcome.

I don’t want to address a smart device by a name that I cannot change. I want to shout “Slave! Get me a cup of coffee”, not “Alexa! Phone Alex”. Which is of course a nice to have feature, not a bug.

But what about about attacks? Say “Okay Google, turn off all alarms” (and your victim is late to work), say “Okay Google, set an alarm for 3am” (and your victim is grumpy at work).

That ‘trigger word’ (or phrase) is in effect a password – not a very secure one, but one never-the-less.

Lastly there is what hilariously happens when you see a review of a new car with a voice assistant made by a certain car company whose name starts with “M”. Because of course a reviewer will use the “M” word whilst describing the vehicle, and the miscommunication with the assistant is a hilarious indication of how rubbish voice assistants are (they aren’t really but that’s the impression you get).

Make the trigger word/phrase adjustable, and this all goes away.

Surf In The Wind
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