Tag Archives: politics

Snoopers charter and so forth

Okay so with the upcoming snoopers charter thingy (by which I mean the Investigatory Powers Act) going on in the UK a few people have asked for some thoughts on security and the net.  Now I’m a sysadmin, I’m not a security expert, I’ve got a working knowledge of things so I can give an overview but may wind up wrong on some points. Continue reading

Running games and politics

So I was rambling recently to Jazz about politics and was talking about my politics (lefty socialist with anarchist tendencies) and then I sort of drifted sideways into talking about organising LARPs and actually they kind of tick my boxes in politics.

No really let me explain.  I totally love running LARPs because it involves organising into a group voluntarily, you maybe have a hierarchy within the group but its volunteered and agreed.  You delegate jobs out to people that they agree too, you can leave the group at any time that your sense of honour dictates you can (or should).

And you come together to create a work of art, an event, a thing that influences and gives people feelings, then you shake hands, part ways – perhaps to work together later, but perhaps not.

Visability and Graduations

As several of you know I get to go sit on the stage and wear a silly hat for other peoples graduations, and these are graduations I really quite like for various reasons.  I was never much of a fan of my own graduations, because during the first one I was just all bleh for public appearances in general for reasons that made no sense to me at that time, during the second I knew I was trans and was just filled with dislike for inhabiting my body or my social role at that point, however when you’re on the stage its quite fun as you’re not the centre of attention so much its not about focusing on you, also I’m way more comfortable in myself than I used to be I think, at least in some ways.

Interestingly I quite like going to graduations because it helps remind me why I’m where I am, and why I do what I do.  A lot of the time working for the Uni its easy to lose sight of the awesome good work we do, we educate students in all kinds of things, we do kick ass research, we improve the state of human knowledge at least in some ways – however in the day to day grind of projects and support its easy to get lost from this and instead just throw up your hands at all the politics that floods the place.  So graduations are nice for in some ways fulfilling the promise of the establishment, a time we can come together across departments and do our act as formal academics (processing in is nice, because everyone does their best formal and proper thing, we present a professional front, also you never know who you’ll be lined up next to so a nice point for a chat with new people in the queue) and present a united front to celebrate the achievements of the students.

Also it’s a more personal thing, in that not only does it give an institutional/group celebration but I tend to mostly come and sit on the stage for students I know through various societies, so its also a personal thing of celebrating the achievements of friends and giving them a grand sending off as yup – you are now officially recognised as more awesome in some specific manner, its nice to sit on the stage and try not to grin too much to be improper while applauding them :)

The final point, which is kind of what spurred me on to post this (being as I’ve just come back from watching the Manchester Pride Parade at the weekend) is the visibility aspect of it.  Whenever I go to graduations I make sure to flag with at least a small rainbow pin, if not a trans one as well, and also while I tend to blend into crowds in direct or focused interactions I get read as trans pretty easily – and this is one of those cases where I don’t mind.  By being there, being in a group of academics and walking formally with them as a colleague and academic doctor and making myself obviously visible I aim to get some subtle exposure – to help say to people that hey it’s okay to be trans or queer, I’m here, looking respectable and not hiding.  And hopefully I’m helping out closeted students, and I’m helping normalise various minorities as a thing that exists for visiting friends and family who are in the hall, and those who watch the remote streams or for times I’m caught in pictures (amusingly I was grabbed for pics out of the line with some students this year, I’m not sure what I was doing beyond featuring as an academic to pose with, I have no idea how they were even reading me, and I don’t really mind).

While it’s true this could be said to be in some ways being over obvious with my sinister dark agenda (okay I’m maybe being snarky), or “rubbing their faces in it” I like to think I’m striking a balance between being too obvious (on a day that’s about the students), and being too hidden.  All I’m doing is wearing a small rainbow badge in my outfit and just existing and being there which is the part I think is important, physically being there and in front of people and being comfortable – and I can do this because the University is an accepting place, I know that 99% of the staff and students wouldn’t give me shit, so based on the work of others (standing on the shoulders of giants) I can help continue that work by being there, by normalising things, by being visible and wearing small subtle symbols to help make it okay for others to come out and be themselves.

Mawwage is wot bwings us togeffer

Okay so it was kind of weird tuning into the debating that occurred yesterday, over the second reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. It was one of those events with a mix of fine oratory and interesting points (on both sides of the debate) along with some truly touching moments, and a healthy dose of flat out bigotry from the opposition.

The weird thing was (a) that some of these arguments were being advanced by otherwise reasonable people and (b) that I actually gave a shit about the whole thing.

As someone whose had a long and healthy opposition to the current surroundings of marriage (cultural, legal, etc) I’d historically been non-plussed by the rush of the mainstream gay community towards it. It wasn’t something that really spoke to me as a person. It’s possibly because I’m young(er) and also I don’t neatly fit into monogamy (although I mostly get read as straight) that I just didn’t feel the vibe from marriage.

Anyway, so it was kind of weird to tune in, and actually connect with it — to feel that this was actually an important issue being debated. Weird stuff the brain :)

Oracle buyout of Sun may be good for OpenOffice

Well as some of you may have heard Oracle bought Sun Microsystems. Now apparently Oracle will be “examining” OpenOffice, to which Sun is the biggest contributor.

Now that’s all the background out of the way here’s why I think this may be good for OpenOffice. The rumours I hear is that Sun keep the codebase of OO.org horrifically complex and do their best to keep it locked up and controlled from outside contributors, now if Oracle loosen the controls (or just drop it) it opens the place up for someone else with cash (IBM?) to swoop in, reengineer the horrific bits and make it easier for outside contributors to actually do some work.

Time for a fishing trip

Interesting after part of the EU determined the UK DNA database is a breach of human rights another part of it is authorising warrentless hacking of private computers by the state.

Apparently all it requires is: a senior officer says he “believes” that it is “proportionate” and necessary to prevent or detect serious crime — defined as any offence attracting a jail sentence of more than three years (emphasis mine)

Which surely opens the floodgates to fishing expiditions searching for anything really, since both copyright infringement and “eXXXtreme pr0n!” will surely carry sentences this long as maximums, and it can be claimed anyone connected to the net may be participating in these activities.

Surreal series of bits of information

So this morning I heard that The Catholic Pope has suggested that “saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behavior was just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction” (also reuters article).

Dispite rumours that hes been an item with his secretary for years

Now whilst I’m happy for this to be the case, and for him to keep whatever sex or sexuality he might have as private as he wants (since its his business) you’d have thought that if the rumour is in any way true he might actually be showing a little more sympathy? I mean the last Pope wasn’t so bad on this front was he?


Sword ban, final version (allegedly)

The To-Ken society of Great Britain have got a document posted which is the proposed amendment to the offensive weapons act 1988.

It seems that they’re banning any curved sword 50cm or longer, you’ll be able to import/buy/sell/loan/trade/lend/transport (I think all them, I need to re-read the original act) provided that one of the following is true:

  1. It was made in Japan before 1954
  2. It was made in Japan later than 1954 and is traditionally forged
  3. You are using it in relation to the organisation or holding of an allowed event, which includes:
    1. “historical re-enactment” which is re-enacting an event of the past or illustrating conduct from a particular time and place in the past
    2. “sporting activity” means the practicing of a sport which requires such a weapon

So it looks like collectors are going to be faffed about (unless they start buying pricey properly forged blades from Japan) they’ll need to take up some form of re-enactment, martial art or putting on of informative museum style displays to keep buying regular blades if I’m reading this right (ignore my summary, read the actual thing).

Anyone know if its legal under EU laws to restrict the supply of an item like that? I mean valid Japanese-style blades are produced in the UK, Europe, China and America from memory, can they really just ban them all and establish a monopoly on Japanese blades?

Its an interesting one as AFAIK getting a blade into Japan is a several day paperchase nightmare, so its not like you could bounce bare blades through there for fittings and claim they were “made” there.

A Ruritanian Parable

There was once a far away land called Ruritania, and in Ruritania there was a strange phenonmenon — all the trees that grew in Ruritainia were transparent. Now, in the days when people had lived in mud huts, this had not been a problem, but now high-tech wood technology had been developed, and in the new age of wood, everyone in Ruritania found that their homes were all 100% see through. Now, until this point, no one ever thought of allowing the police to spy on someone’s home, but the new technology made this tempting. This being a civilized country, however, warrants were required to use binoculars and watch someone in their home. The police, taking advantage of this, would get warrants to use binoculars and peer in to see what was going on. Occassionally, they would use binoculars without a warrant, but everyone pretended that this didn’t happen.

Ahh those wacky Cypherpunks, its an old one 1993 but I’ve not seen it before.