Friday, 11 March 2011

Do you have the right to abandon your rights?

I'm presently engaged in a number of writing projects and a question has occurred to me that I have not yet answered, so this post effectively represents an attempt to answer the relevant question, namely, do you have a right to abandon your rights?

This question may seem to take an obvious "yes" answer, but I am not so sure.

Let's take some cases, just to make the problem clear:

Armien Meiwes, a German, ate his (male) lover. His lover, you must understand, VOLUNTEERED to be eaten. Meiwes was charged with manslaughter rather than murder, and given eight years. I find this case exceptionally disturbing. In fact, I've not yet encountered something more disturbing. Not even "muti murders", because at least in those cases, the victim does not assent.

Muslim women are subjected to a wide range of forms of gender discrimination. This list that follows strictly applies to those living under Shariah law, but let's use an extreme example so that my case is clearer. To list but a few of them: Muslim women must not go in public unattended by a male family member, even if it is their own toddler son; they must not show any part of their body except perhaps their hands and eyes; they may not sit or worship with men in mosque; they may not travel alone; they may not drive; they may not have male friends; they may not vote; their opinion is irrelevant; household decisions are made by men, as are national decisions. If they commit adultery, they are to be killed. They must be "circumcised" (undergo female genital mutilation), in order that they do not enjoy intercourse. They may not be literate, read, or go to school. And lastly, honour killings: if a father, brother or cousin deems a woman to have disgraced the family, usually by marrying out of her own free-will rather than within the approval of the patriarchy, she must be killed to restore the family honour. Of course, it's mainly Taliban Afghanistan, Somalia, and Saudi Arabia and places like that, that have these sorts of oppressive rules. But this is my case: I believe that most women in these countries voluntarily submit to these rules and do not consider them inappropriate, unfair or wrong in any way. After all, they're decreed by the Imams, who ultimately get the ideas from the Koran.

In a certain South American country, whose name escapes me now, and the Philippines, people VOLUNTEER to be crucified at Easter. Yes, complete with nails.

So here's the question. Assuming we agree that Muslim women ought to be given more freedom, and assuming we agree that Meiwes' lover ought to have not assented to being cannibalised, and that Christians ought to not volunteer to be crucified, can we not argue that sometimes people ought to not have the right to abandon their human rights? Ought we to not enforce that people accept, adhere to, and defend, human rights, at ALL times, even in regards to themselves? We can imagine any number of other bizarre or fetishist behaviours which may constitute an abdication of one's rights. Should people be allowed to harm themselves and deliberately discard their rights? I am not so sure. What about class consciousness? Is it the duty of more "enlightened" people to "educate" or "liberate" people who discard their own rights?

What about the right to not be assaulted? Let's take that case. Some people like sadomasochism. So, a masochist or "sub" in the parlance of the culture volunteers to be beaten into submission (hence "sub"), by the dominant person (the "dom"). Assuming people do not have the right to assault each other, ought we to ban sadomasochism?

What are peoples' intuitions on this?

PS sorry for the repeated edits; I keep making errors.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Reasons to be Positive about South Africa

- 80% of the population are no longer assaulted daily and given an education that consists entirely of housekeeping and gardening (also known as "Bantu Education")

- freedom of speech


- no more Christian National Education that tells us what we can and can't read or learn about (eg Evolution), and that black people are descended from the Sons of Ham, destined to be 'hewers of wood and drawers of water'

- no longer internationally ostracised, but a moral voice of authority in international politics

- trusted by the international community with nuclear power: no longer has to be covert operations, no threats from IAEA

- no statistically significant violence during the political changeover occurred

- a govt that is at least aware of the problems in the country and trying to do something about it

- an opposition that is actively aware of the govt's failings and actively trying to do something about it

- an entrepreneurial spirit and 'can do' attitude, with lots of opportunities for business and new ideas

- the taxman answers email!!!!!!!!!

- no longer are 18-year-old white boys conscripted to go die in Angola or the townships to fight the cause of oppressing their fellow citizens and to support a fascist neonazi Christian regime.

- great weather, friendly people, lots of tourist stuff to do, even for our own citizens.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Stopping spam on web page forms

I've finally found a cure for bots. Normally, one uses a captcha image or a simple maths sum or somesuch. That's all very well and good, but even so, some bots get past it. So I've added a new thing. A Sender Address Verification module. Basically, the email address supplied has to be legitimate before the form is accepted. This forces the bot programmers to tell the bot to post spam onto forms using actual email addresses. It also forces stupid people who mis-type their email addresses to type them properly, because the form does not accept an email address that does not check out.


http://www.professionalhosting.co.za/index.php?bodyhtml=contact.php

I do it simply by passing a call to a function that runs the commandline utility vrfy99 (Linux). If vrfy99 returns "Unknown user", then the form submission is rejected. If it returns null, the form is accepted.

How does SAV work? Simple. It opens an SMTP connection to the MX server of the purported From email address. It asks to send mail To that email address. If the SMTP server returns OK, then the connection is closed, and SAV returns OK. If the server responds "Unknown user", then the SAV returns the same.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Right as usual; 10.7 is like iOS

As I predicted, 10.7 copies iOS - the iPad/iPhone.

If you go to Apple's site, you'll see that I'm right. Notice how only legacy apps have a menubar; all the new apps do not.

I wrote this in June 2001. This is why I am a prophet and a genius. Because Apple have now started to do this for Mac OS X 10.7 and iOS - TEN YEARS after I predicted it.

Menus

The next problem, namely the menu bars, is primarily a problem of access and identifiability as well as variety. In other words, menus need to be fewer in variety, more easily identifiable as menus, and appear in the right contexts. I would go so far as to suggest that menu bars and popup menus should be eliminated completely in favour of contextual menus. So no matter which object you click on, it must come up with a relevant list of menu commands. When you click on a window’s close box, it must ask for a series of options on a dialog, each of which can be checked so as to not make them mutually exclusive: viz., save, print, close - plus a confirm and a cancel button. The concept “quit” is unnecessary since people don’t understand the difference between that and closing the document. People are document-centric. But more on this later, let us focus on menu commands. Effectively, if you survey any application program’s menus, it has two main sorts: commands relevant to changing document contents, or commands relevant to the document as a whole. Other commands, like “Preferences” or “Quit” or “About”, are relevant to the program itself and aren’t really important to the user who only cares about their document. Now: to make a set of relevant contextual menus, you would have to interpret the clicks of the mouse. I would suggest that a single deliberate (long mousedown) click should cause a contextual menu to appear, a short click move the insertion point, and a double-click either select, open or offer some other options. It would depend on the object. In other words, menus only appear when an object is selected or clicked on. The problem with current models, apart from the wide variety of menu types, is that you have to typically move the mouse a lot when dealing with an object the mouse just clicked on. Eg., you double-click a word, then go to “Format > Font > Times”. It would be better if you double-clicked the word and it immediately came up with a contextual menu of “Font/Edit” with submenus having “Style, Font, Kerning/Leading, Size, Colour” etc. and under “Edit” the usual “Copy, Cut, Paste-and-replace” etc., as well as “Send to” for piping the selected word or phrase into an email or Post-It note on screen, etc. Floating palettes are acceptable in my view, but to a large extent perform the same function as menus: issuing commands. So where a command appears on a floating palette, it must not appear in contextual menus, and vice versa. Also, floating palettes must do what PhotoShop does on the Mac: when you switch away from the program, the palettes must automatically hide; otherwise a user may get confused and think their commands can be used to affect the new front document, which may belong to a different program. IE., the Classic Mac behaviour of keeping the commands and the documents together must be adhered to at all costs. Windows, Mac OS X and Linux all violate this one.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The sound of silence

Can anyone tell me why atheists have to shut up, for fear of being told they're "aggressive" or "angry"? Why do you think we're aggressive or angry? Could it be because we've had to shut up for 1700 years? Why should YOU be allowed to speak out about your beliefs and gush about them and how wonderful it is that God loves you or Jesus loves you or the Divine has touched you or whatever, but we have to shut up? Why is it that you can talk at barbecues about how great your church is but we can't say what we think of religion?

I'll tell you why. It's because you're scared of us - because you know deep down inside that we have a point, but it's not surfaced to your consciousness yet. In your heart you know we have a point. And you're scared to dredge up your misgivings in case your flowery world of imaginary fairies and happy shiny people with lights around their heads are all dispelled and you have to face the world as it is: blunt, merciless, arbitrary, neither good nor bad, just THERE, sans purpose, sans deeper meaning.

We have to shut up because we offend, because we burst your bubbles, because we hurt your sensitivities, because we show your tardy lazy sloppy thinking up to be nothing more than the fantasies of a six-year-old with an imaginary friend. You don't want Smurfland to disappear, that's why we make your skin crawl. That's why you find us aggressive. Because you know we're going to destroy your illusions, your false happiness, your false consciousness.

Why else? What other reason would you have to fear us? Because we, like, y'know, give off bad vibes, man? Because we have, like, y'know, a negative, like aura, man? Is that what you call the happy comfortable feeling of living in a delusion? Like some kind of princess in white silk cushions, who doesn't want to know that her people are starving? Are you just afraid of the ugliness in the world? That it has no meaning? That God didn't make it, or if he did make it, he made it ugly?

What about the fact that most of the ugliness in the world is because of religion? By their fruit ye shall know them - Jesus.

Fame at last

On this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Josephus_on_Jesus - the Anointed - my novel about the origins of Jesus - is referenced. Thanks apparently to Bruce Grubb.

List of useful mac apps

This is mostly a note to self so that I can share with others when they ask which apps I recommend. Android File Transfer.app (*) get file...