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Future Human

by Limbic on April 21, 2014

future_humans

This is the average human face of 2050 (well for women anyway).

Lets hope the mixed humans of the future really are this beautiful!

More at National Geographic’s “Changing Faces of America

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Prisoners of Conscience in the The West

by Limbic on April 5, 2014

OKCupid.com with no javascript

“OKCupid needs JavaScript to function”. Why don’t OKCupid also boycott this technology
invented by Brendan Eich, the man they helped hound from his job as CEO of Mozilla?

TL;DR – The resignation of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich is another example of the erosion of civil liberties by those pursuing an ostensibly liberal agenda. They are gnawing at the roots of science and enlightenment values in the name of human rights. Thankfully principled members of minorities whose rights are being fought for are saying “Not in our name”. They understand that freedom – of choice, of belief, of speech – underscore minority rights and are appalled to see them undermined.

I have sitting on a draft post for months on this topic of contemporary Prisoners of Conscience, but have not found the time to write it. I will do a series of posts instead.

It was kicked off by something one of my favourite public intellectuals – Jonathan Rauch – said on an episode of On Being about a year ago (April 2013):

So gay people were the victims of majority intolerance for many, many decades, and public opinion in America is a ferocious thing. Tocqueville wrote about it — “Tyranny of the Majority,” he called it. Something very, very important happened around 2009. The Gallup poll for the first time showed a tie in people saying homosexual relationships were morally acceptable with people saying they were not morally acceptable. And the lines have now crossed. There is now I think it’s like a 9- or 10-point gap of a solid majority of Americans saying it’s OK to be gay. So this is new. This means we’re now the moral majority.

This means the burden of proof is now on the other side. And this means it’s going to be tempting for gay people to press our advantage and try to use the law to make it difficult for people who want to preserve religious traditions that are anti-gay to do so. And we have good reason for that. We have suffered very directly and very concretely and quite often with our lives from religious bigotry. It’s not to say all religion is bigotry. So it is very tempting for us to say let’s drive this out of society altogether. All forms of discrimination, whether religious or not, should be illegal and I’m saying to gay people, no, we’ve got to share the country.

There is a thing called the First Amendment. Religious liberty. We’ll get squashed like bugs on the windshield if we try to go against religious liberty, but more important, we want to be in a live-and-let-live society where no one gets treated as a prisoner of conscience and feels the need to stay in the closet, frightened because of what they believe.

That’s what we fought against all those years, long before marriage, and that’s what we will continue to fight against. And that’s why we need to be champions of all reasonable protections for religious people who may not agree with us and may not want to associate with us, but we need to let them share this country with us.

As a classic non-religious liberal who supports gay rights (including the right to marry and adopt) and all the other enlightenment liberties, Rauch’s comments really struck me hard.

Across the WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, And Democratic) countries, in almost every area of politico-social contention (immigration & race, gay rights, gender equality etc) we are creating prisoners of conscience, people “persecuted for the non-violent expression of their conscientiously held beliefs” or forcing people to self-censor out of fear of the consequences of free speech (being fired, prosecuted, publicly attacked, even murdered).

The latest victim of this illiberal enforcement of liberal values – my values – is Brendan Eich.

Eich is a gifted technologist and coder. He was forced to resign from his new position as new CEO of Mozilla because in 2008 he made a private financial donation to Proposition 8, the Californian law opposing gay marriage. Whilst some gay activists were crowing, and online dating site OKCupid was “credited” with being instrumental in forcing Eich to step down after blocking Mozilla Firefox browser (my favourite browser) on this site, many were outraged by the flagrant attack on Eich’s freedom of speech, livelihood, privacy and freedom of conscience.

OKCupid’s publicity stunt was a disgusting exercise in cynical populist bullying. I would boycott it except I would never go near such a site anyway, even if I were single.

Here is Rauch, again, commenting on the affair in the New York Times:

The online campaign that led to Brendan Eich’s resignation was intolerant and obnoxious. Also, stupid. But please don’t blame the gay community. Blame the people who did it and who do not represent or resemble mainstream gay America.

Two things are clear. One, a company is within its rights to dismiss a top executive who does not reflect its values or priorities. Two, activists are within their rights to criticize positions held by corporate executives. So what went wrong in the Mozilla/Eich case? A handful of hotheads forgot what the gay rights movement is fighting for: the embrace of diversity and the freedom for all Americans, gay and straight, to live publicly as who they truly are.

This is why the mainstream gay rights leadership supports free speech. L.G.B.T. people win when both we and our opponents can speak out. It is why most ordinary gay Americans want nothing to do with efforts to silence our adversaries. It is why Andrew Sullivan, a pioneer of the gay-marriage movement, was quick to say, “If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.” That is where gay America’s heart is, even if sometimes the hotheads are noisier.

Lest we forget, the campaign against Eich was not launched by gay rights groups. It was launched by an online dating company called OKCupid. Even OKCupid’s leaders had no plan other than to “raise awareness.” In other words, they were freelance activists engaging in moral grandstanding. Well intentioned? Maybe. Dumb? Assuredly. (Should we boycott every company whose leadership does not support gay marriage? Did these guys think for even 10 seconds?) But, whatever else this may have been, it was hardly the work of the “gay community.”

It’s a big country and there are intolerant and intemperate people on all sides of every issue. This won’t be the last time activists and publicity seekers call for the head of someone they don’t like. When gay-marriage opponents claim that a new reign of terror is abroad in the land, however, please remember that the large majority of gay and lesbian Americans share with the large majority of conservatives and Christians a desire to live and let live, and it is those large majorities that will prevail in our majoritarian country.

Brilliant and undeniably true. Time and again gay activists have shown tremendous integrity and consistency by coming to the moral and even legal defence of people who oppose their (e.g. Peter Tatchell supporting a man arrested for opposing gay marriage).

Rauch also mentions Andrew Sullivan, who I also read and admire. Sullivan was furious about Eich’s treatment at the hands of Mozilla, OKCupid and others.

“The guy who had the gall to express his First Amendment rights and favor Prop 8 in California by donating $1,000 has just been scalped by some gay activists. After an OKCupid decision to boycott Mozilla, the recently appointed Brendan Eich just resigned under pressure…Will he now be forced to walk through the streets in shame? Why not the stocks? The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out. If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.” – “The Hounding of a Heretic”

In a follow-up post

It turns out that Eich might have saved his job had he recanted, like all heretics must. But given the choice of recanting, he failed. Hence the lighting of the fires.

He did not understand that in order to be a CEO of a company, you have to renounce your heresy! There is only one permissible opinion at Mozilla, and all dissidents must be purged! Yep, that’s left-liberal tolerance in a nut-shell….what we’re talking about is the obvious and ugly intolerance of parts of the gay movement, who have reacted to years of being subjected to social obloquy by returning the favor

…It is also unbelievably stupid for the gay rights movement. You want to squander the real gains we have made by argument and engagement by becoming just as intolerant of others’ views as the Christianists? You’ve just found a great way to do this. It’s a bad, self-inflicted blow. And all of us will come to regret it.

The final post in the trilogy has the clincher

Of course Mozilla has the right to purge a CEO because of his incorrect political views. Of course Eich was not stripped of his First Amendment rights. I’d fight till my last breath for Mozilla to retain that right. What I’m concerned with is the substantive reason for purging him. When people’s lives and careers are subject to litmus tests, and fired if they do not publicly renounce what may well be their sincere conviction, we have crossed a line. This is McCarthyism applied by civil actors. This is the definition of intolerance. If a socially conservative private entity fired someone because they discovered he had donated against Prop 8, how would you feel? It’s staggering to me that a minority long persecuted for holding unpopular views can now turn around and persecute others for the exact same reason. If we cannot live and work alongside people with whom we deeply disagree, we are finished as a liberal society.

..What if an employee went to a demonstration that his company found objectionable? Would that be a reason to fire him? What we have here is a social pressure to keep your beliefs deeply private for fear of retribution. We are enforcing another sort of closet on others.

…There is not a scintilla of evidence that he has ever discriminated against a single gay person at Mozilla; he was dedicated to continuing Mozilla’s inclusive policies; he was prepared to prove that the accusations against him were unfair, and that his political views would not affect his performance as CEO. But this was not enough. He had to be publicly punished for supporting a Proposition that is no longer in effect. This is absolutely McCarthyism from an increasingly McCarthyite left.

..There you have the illiberal mindset. Morality trumps freedom. Our opponents must be humiliated, ridiculed and “isolated as perverts”. I mean “bigots”, excuse me.

Orwell wept.

Let me finish off this monster post with a video of Jonathan Rauch last year.

 

Also see:

The Mozilla controversy suggests that the sexual revolution is getting ugly » Spectator Blogs

Free Speech Now! | ‘Everything should be open to question’ | Free speech | Interviews | USA | spiked

Against the tyranny of the majority by John Stuart Mill

‘Live by the light of your own reason’ by John Locke

Mozilla’s Gay-Marriage Purge – Bloomberg View

Mozilla and Brendan Eich’s resignation: Why don’t conservatives want to protect ordinary people from discrimination?

Corrosive Conformity – National Review

Mozilla CEO “resigns” after uproar over his opposition to gay marriage « Hot Air

Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich Steps Down – WSJ.com

Bill Maher: “There Is A Gay Mafia — If You Cross Them, You Do Get Whacked” | Video | RealClearPolitics

FAQ on CEO Resignation | The Mozilla Blog

Mozilla’s Gay-Marriage Litmus Test Violates Liberal Values - Conor Friedersdorf – The Atlantic

Why Gay-Marriage Opponents Should Not Be Treated Like Racists - Conor Friedersdorf – The Atlantic

After Eich resigns, conservatives slam Mozilla—and call for boycott | Ars Technica

MOBZILLA. The Purging of Brendan Eich – The Wilderness

Lesbian Author Tammy Bruce: Mozilla ‘Caved to the Gay Gestapo’ - Truth Revolt

The Ideology Of Totalitarian Humanism  – Radix

 

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Avocado and Almond Butter

by Limbic on March 11, 2014

Absolutely love this snack. Fairy heavy in calories  (circa 225 kcal per half) but delicious.

Half of an avocado, 1 tablespoon of almond butter in the almond pit. Nom nom nom.

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Susan Sons on Girls and Tech

by Limbic on February 23, 2014

Great post on girls and tech by legendary hacker Susan Sons. At the age of 12 she became a respect member of an IRC channel where she was fully accepted despite her age and gender:

Open source was my refuge because it was a place were nobody cared what my pedigree was or what I looked like—they cared only about what I did. I ingratiated myself to people who could help me learn by doing dull scutwork: triaging issues to keep the issue queues neat and orderly, writing documentation and fixing code comments. I was the helpful kid, so when I needed help, the community was there. I’d never met another programmer in real life at this point, but I knew more about programming than some college students. 

Twelve-year-old girls today don’t generally get to have the experiences that I did. Parents are warned to keep kids off the computer lest they get lured away by child molesters or worse—become fat! That goes doubly for girls, who then grow up to be liberal arts majors. Then, in their late teens or early twenties, someone who feels the gender skew in technology communities is a problem drags them to a LUG meeting or an IRC channel. Shockingly, this doesn’t turn the young women into hackers.

Why does anyone, anywhere, think this will work? Start with a young woman who’s already formed her identity. Dump her in a situation that operates on different social scripts than she’s accustomed to, full of people talking about a subject she doesn’t yet understand. Then tell her the community is hostile toward women and therefore doesn’t have enough of them, all while showing her off like a prize poodle so you can feel good about recruiting a female. This is a recipe for failure.

Young women don’t magically become technologists at 22. Neither do young men. Hackers are born in childhood, because that’s when the addiction to solving the puzzle or building something kicks in to those who’ve experienced that “victory!” moment like I had when I imposed my will on a couple electronic primates.

Unfortunately, our society has set girls up to be anything but technologists. My son is in elementary school. Last year, his school offered a robotics class for girls only. When my son asked why he couldn’t join, it was explained to him that girls need special help to become interested in technology, and that if there are boys around, the girls will be too scared to try.

My son came home very confused. You see, he grew up with a mom who coded while she breastfed and brought him to his first LUG meeting at age seven weeks. The first time he saw a home-built robot, it was shown to him by a local hackerspace member, a woman who happens to administer one of the country’s biggest supercomputers. Why was his school acting like girls were dumb?

Thanks so much, modern-day “feminism”, for putting very unfeminist ideas in my son’s head. 

http://www.linuxjournal.com/content/girls-and-software

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Ape and Essence

by Limbic on February 16, 2014

In was recently reminded of one of my favourite books from my late teens – Aldous Huxley’s “Ape and Essence” (1948).

Here are some quotes:

Vertical stripes, horizontal stripes, noughts and crosses, eagles and hammers. Mere arbitrary signs. But every reality to which a sign has been attached is thereby made subject to its sign. Goswami and Ali used to live in peace. But I got a flag, you got a flag, all Baboon-God’s children got flags; and because of the flags it immediately became right and proper for the one with the foreskin to disembowel the one without a foreskin, and for the circumcised to shoot the uncircumcised, rape his wife and roast his children over slow fires.

“Love casts out fear; but conversely fear casts out love. And not only love. Fear also casts out intelligence, casts out goodness, casts out all thought of beauty and truth. What remains in the bum or studiedly jocular desperation of one who is aware of the obscene Presence in the corner of the room and knows that the door is locked, that there aren’t any windows. And now the thing bears down on him. He feels a hand on his sleeve, smells a stinking breath, as the executioner’s assistant leans almost amorously toward him. “Your turn next, brother. Kindly step this way.” And in an instant his quiet terror is transmuted into a frenzy as violent as it is futile. There is no longer a man among his fellow men, no longer a rational being speaking articulately to other rational beings; there is only a lacerated animal, screaming and struggling in the trap. For in the end fear casts out even a man’s humanity. And fear, my good friends, fear is the very basis and foundation of modern life. Fear of the much touted technology which, while it raises out standard of living, increases the probability of our violently dying. Fear of the science which takes away the one hand even more than what it so profusely gives with the other. Fear of the demonstrably fatal institutions for while, in our suicidal loyalty, we are ready to kill and die. Fear of the Great Men whom we have raised, and by popular acclaim, to a power which they use, inevitably, to murder and enslave us. Fear of the war we don’t want yet do everything we can to bring about.”

“The leech’s kiss, the squid’s embrace,
The prurient ape’s defiling touch:
And do you like the human race?
No, not much.

Wikipedia

Everything2 entry on “Ape and Essence”

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Satya Nadella–New CEO of Microsoft

by Limbic on February 6, 2014

I am very happy he has been chosen. I liked him from the first moment I saw him.

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/ceo/index.html

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Microsoft’s 2014 Super Bowl Ads

by Limbic on February 3, 2014

Make sure you watch the individual stories briefly touched on by the ad above below.

All the ads are here.

Meanwhile it seems these ads beat the competition by a mile.

[click to continue…]

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