The sexist assumptions of geeks
It's been a running joke here on Slashdot: "no one here has a girlfriend", "anyone who's that geeky is clearly single", "I believed him until he said he had a wife", etc.. I used to find it funny, but the more I see it, the more it bugs me.
See, most of my friends are women. Many of those female friends are geeks; and all of them like geeks (obviously: the set "my friends" self-selects for liking geeks). The majority of my female, geek-liking friends are single.
The most common complaint these women have is not that the geeks they meet are "too geeky". In fact, a good number of them are actively attracted to extremely geeky guys. They like shy, they can put up with a lack of social skill, and they are turned on by intelligence.
No, the most common complaints these women have are:
- Lack of personal hygiene. You don't need social skills to know that you need to bathe regularly, brush your teeth, and wear clothes that are clean and in good condition. These women aren't looking for fancy clothes, just ones that aren't filthy and in disrepair.
- Posturing. There are plenty of single women who like geeks; but these women do not like geeks who try to pretend that they have social skills when they don't. You'd not hang out with some guy who faked his geek skills, what makes you think a woman wants to hang out with you when you're faking your social skills? You don't want any woman so dumb that she can't tell you're a geek, right?
- Egomania. It doesn't matter that most of these women know perfectly well that the geek guys are covering their social awkwardness with self-centered behavior; what matters is that behavior. Stop it! Make a habit of answering people's questions concisely (you're a geek, you've used Usenet, this shouldn't be a problem), and asking more questions than you answer. Make those questions you ask be things that require a bit of an answer, and/or that show you've paid attention to the other person: "so, you're a reader; reading anything good? Tell me about it." See? Not hard.
- Lack of courtesy. Courtesy is an incredibly easy social skill to acquire. I'm aspy, I should know. It does not require the more difficult interpersonal skills -- all you have to do is constantly think "how can I make the other person more comfortable?". It's OK to open a door for a woman (and for a guy, for that matter); it's essential to send someone a nice thank-you note when they've invited you out (it's not hard: "I had a great time, thanks for inviting me!" -> SEND). Hell, just think about it, and you'll probably do better than 90% of geek guys.
To suggest that no woman would ever fall for a geek -- or that all women want the same type of guy -- is sexism, plain and simple.
I hate the anti-Fanboys
Every time there's a /. article pointing out something MS did that was inappropriate or whatnot, there are the usual MS-hater comments and the usual MS-fanboy comments.
Recently, though, there's a new class of anti-Fanboys. These are people that say something to the effect of "yes, we all hate MS, but aren't we being a little hard on them just because they're MS?" Well, maybe occasionally they are right.
BUT, it seems like lately these people pop up and raise strawmen every time MS is criticized. "Why should MS be sued over including Media Player with their OS, when Ubuntu does the same?" They aren't being sued for including software, they're being sued for including software that cannot be replaced by competitors without causing damage. That's anticompetitive. Anti-competitive behavior is illegal in most capitalist countries, and for good reason.
Christ! I'm not an MS-hater, but when they do stupid monopolistic things, they should be punished. This isn't hard to grasp, but the anti-Fanboys are so obsessed with being the voice of reason that they disengage their capacity for rational thought, if it even existed in the first place.
The travesty of the Electorate
Bush has just declared victory, and John Kerry has conceded defeat. Despite my distaste for the outcome, the current race has every appearance of being run fairly, and without any serious claims (so far) of voter fraud or underhanded disenfranchisement. Bush appears to have won not only the Electoral College, but the popular vote as well. The system has worked, even if I don't like the result.
But it isn't the outcome so much as the reasons behind it that triggers the host of emotions -- from sadness on through motivated anger -- that I've experinced in the past few days. It's not the President, but the mindest of the Electorate that has plunged to new lows. We can see this in the exit polls: the reasons why voters made the choices they made.
Of course, there are many legitimate reasons to vote for Bush. There are those who believe that the War in Iraq is going well, and was justified, and that Bush is the best man to lead our troops to stabilize Iraq. There are those who think that Bush is tougher on terrorism than Kerry would have been. And, there are those who think that Bush's tax cuts truly helped the middle class, and will help the economy recover. While I disagree with all of those positions, they are legitimate and defensible. If Bush had been elected because he and his campaign managed to convince people of such positions, I would be content -- not happy, but content.
But Bush was elected for two reasons: his stance on "Social Morality" issues -- namely, gay marriage, reproductive rights, and stem-cell research -- and the perception of Bush as a "godly" and "devout Christian" president. Because of this, I have lost faith in and hope for the Electorate.
It isn't that the positions that Bush supports are necessarily indefensible. There are those with well-articluated reasons to believe in eliminating the right to marriage for people based on sexual orientation, classing the elimination of foetal tissue as "murder", and severely restricting important medical research. Yes, I'm biased. But, when people can support their positions, I'm willing to respect them, even when I disagree. But that's not what happened here.
People were asked to vote for Bush by churches -- oh, sure, indirectly in many cases, but still in fairly obvious ways. And all of this based on the premise that, because of a handful of issues, Bush is the "moral choice". Now, I'm somewhat an expert on Christian morality: I was an ordained minister before leaving my church. The issues in question are very much moral "gray areas", open to interpretation, yet churches felt they were important enough to elect Bush over.
I'll tell you what the vast majority of Bible translations espouse as absolutely immoral, though: lying, greed, the wonton destruction of human life, and intolerance. Even if we presume that Bush has taken the moral highroad on gay marriage, abortion, and stem-cell research, he certainly has not done so on more important matters.
Anyone who followed FactCheck.org is well aware of the lies and deceptions propagated by the Bush campaign, with GW Bush's full knowledge and approval. There is ample evidence to suggest that Bush knowingly lied about the presence of WMD's in Iraq (there were none), and about Hussein's connection to the events of Sept. 11, 2001 (there was no connection). Is deliberately lying to the American people a "moral", "Christan" thing to do?
The War in Iraq is extremly profitable for GW Bush and for Dick Cheney's friends at Haliburton. Even if we ignore evidence that strongly suggests the whole fiasco is a war over oil resources, to award the VP's former company (and huge donators to your campaign) a lucrative, exclusive contract without a competitive bid process smacks of greed and dishonesty. In most of our country, those attributes are antithetical to the concept of "morality".
Destruction of Human Life
Reliable journals have estimated the civilian mortality related to the Iraq war to be between 10,000 and 100,000. It bears repeating: these are numbers for civilian mortality. Even if we go with the most conservative estimate of 10,000 civilians killed, that is far more than were killed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. But the death toll continues to go up. Over 1,000 more US citizens have died in the Iraq conflict; and their deaths have resulted in reducing our security, increasing the risk of terrorism, and failing to bring the acknowledged perpetrator of the WTC attacks (Usama bin Laden) to justice. Our soldiers are sent into battle without proper equipment, and our National Guard -- who are charged with protecting US borders -- are being killed in a foreign war.
President Bush's anti-abortion platform is predicated on respect for human life, but the lack of consideration for human life demonstrated in Iraq makes this utter hypocrisy.
Bush has publicly expressed tremendous intolerance. His faith supposedly tells him to be tolerant, to "love thy neighbor". But, when he stood up to say that those who practice Wicca or other neo-pagan faiths aren't part of a "real religion", he lay bare his intolerance. When those who disagree werre relegated to "free speech zones", and garbage trucks were run for the sole purpose of drowning out the voice of peaceful dissenters -- all with Bush's knowledge and support, he removed all doubt about his view of democracy. Failure to tolerate opposing points of view is not democratic, not Christian, and most certainly not moral.
Yet, despite all of this, Bush has been elected to serve a second term on the basis of morality. I have mixture of pity for and anger towards the Electorate. All I can feel for our great Nation is a great and heavy sadness born from the realization that an administration so immoral can position itself as a great bastion of morality. I can only hope and pray that those who see the hypocrisy and immorality of the Bush administration work hard to use their power as citizens of this great nation to mobilize their representatives. Bush may be President, but the laws and direction of this country are still guided by the people.
So, I admonish everyone to educate themselves on the issues, make their will known to their representatives, and demonstrate to this immoral administration that the people have the ability, desire, and will to run this country. Let's rekindle the power of our "Government of the People, by the People, and for the People"!
Back in the Slash
Apparently kuro5hin.org is dead. Well, dying. No new user registrations. So I'm back in the Slash -- no more simple skimming, but actually enjoying the place.
I got frustrated a while back with the S/N ratio and went into serious lurk mode... but things really seem to have gotten better; new tools to filter out idiots, and such. :)