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User Journal

Journal: An Open Letter to the Adults and Leadership of Iran

Journal by DumbSwede

An Open Letter to the Adults and Leadership of Iran,

The Ayatolla Sayyed Ali Khamenei, Leader to The Islamic Republic of Iran, has sent an open letter to the Youth of Europe and North America - a direct appeal to them to learn more about Islam. The wording is all very friendly, but sends chills up my spine nonetheless. One must assume his eminence would be thrilled if our Youth upon hearing about the greatness of Islam decided to convert. So since this is a friendly exchange you must be considering encouraging the Leaders of Israel to send open letters to your youth extolling the virtues of Judaism, and the Pope to extol the virtues of Christianity. Perhaps your youth may want to consider a different path? Oh wait, in Iran apostasy a crime, one punishable by death.

This does pose a problem, in Iran and many other Islamic states religious tolerance seems to be a one way street. When pictures of the Prophet Mohammad are depicted by cartoonists, Iran's response is to fight back with a Holocaust cartoon contest. So an insult to Islam demands an insult to some other faith (and not even the faith of the provocateurs)? Islam demands respect, but seems to offer none in kind.

Though I myself am an Agnostic, you might as well consider me an Atheist in that while the question of God is open, there is no doubt in my mind all the organized religions of the world are based on silly, childish, fairy tales and wishful thinking. This is my opinion, sorry if you find it distasteful. I believe that it is a basic human right for people to believe what they wish and express it without fear. You have my full considered consent to believe in Islam - you can say whatever you want about my beliefs and that of others without fear of retaliation. The opposite appears not to be true. Ahmed Salman Rushdie wrote a work of fiction called "The Satanic Verses." Since this is a work of fiction its meanings are up for interpretation, however your then ruler Ayatollah Fuhollah Knomeini issued a fatwa calling for the killing of Mr. Rushdie. The fatwa has since then been rescinded in weak fashion - Iran no longer calls for the killing of Mr. Rushdie, nor would it condemn his killing should it occur (and only came to this weakened stance to reopen trade with the west).

My own country is going to great pains to declare terrorism and Islam separate. Our leaders constantly remind us that there are many peaceful followers of Islam (and there are). There is however a great deal of hatred growing here. But it isn't just the terrorists that are fomenting this hate. When virtually every Islamic state of note restricts freedom of speech and religion, then in my opinion they are not much above the terrorists they so wish to be differentiated from, and it is this restriction of freedoms regardless of sect, Sunni or Shiite, that leads to the fomenting of terror in general. Can you cite current great Christian conflicts between Protestant and Catholic sects? A great portion of Islam is not only at war with the west, but at war with itself, largely because many (most?) regional Islamic powers only view their own interpretations of Islam as acceptable. Of course perhaps insistence on enforcing Islamic dogma is merely a blunt tool for use by those in power to retain control by hypocritical means.

It is hard to have compassion for and care about the suffering of people who would cheer for killing those for speaking ill of their Prophet. I say this because I stand with those that ridicule Mohammad (and so must consider myself at peril). Let me be clear on this point; I have no respect at all for Mohammad, he was a rapist, a murder, and a torturer. If you worship him, you worship a false Prophet. I would be among those who many of you would have my bones broken, my body burned, my head severed - if not restrained by international agreements so as to be able to do business with the kafirs. For those Muslims among you who would not wish this fate upon me and respect my right to my thoughts and my speech (as well as those of all others), then peace be unto you. If not, then why should I care about you? Will you really tell me there is not a multitude among you that wouldn't have me pay a dear price for what I have just said? Have not many Muslims said similar or worse words about most other faiths? What should be their punishment? Under our system - none - so who shows true compassion? The leaders of Iran and other Islamic countries have condemned people to death for words. I would be proud if my words merited such attention and opprobrium.

Islam must either evolve to embrace secular tolerance or it is doomed to an eternal war it cannot win with the west. This is not Christianity and Judaism versus Islam it is modern enlightenment and civilization versus the barbarism of the past. Let me state most emphatically; if Islam cannot abide freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of association, and freedom to enjoy all rights equally regardless of race, religion, or gender - then Islam is not a religion of peace and the theocracies based upon it will never truly be considered equal by the rest of the world.

I can have tolerance for a believer of Islam especially if he observes it in a way that does not restrict the freedoms of those around him. But I have no tolerance for regimes and political systems that build upon Islam (or any religion for that matter) as their foundation, because as far as I can see this leads invariably to the oppression of their people and coerces them into follow the national faith. If Islam is not coercive - then why are there laws against apostasy? Shouldn't a person's thoughts on religion and how to practice it be their business and not the government's? While Islam in many cases allows a person to practice another faith (if born into it and with many caveats), it seems being born into Islam is to give up any free choice in the matter.

Our freedoms here in the west have allowed you to talk to our youth; there are no government restrictions against them seeing your words. Are your youth open to our words, especially those critical of Islam? How hypocritical of you to use our freedoms to promote your message when you restrict so many other views under your system. Of the top 500 websites visited around the world, Iran restricts viewing by censorship of almost 50%. I am unaware of ANY official Iranian websites being so censored here in America. I guess you fear our words more than we fear yours.

User Journal

Journal: Parents aren't perfect 7

Journal by squiggleslash

Seen rather a lot of the "Parents are evil because they did something wrong because they believed that something was right" meme that's going around at the moment.

Worst case: massive harassment and threats against the parents of a trans teenager who killed herself blaming their insistence on "Christian" therapy. Horrible case, entirely the wrong approach by the parents, but at the same time if the parents hadn't cared, there wouldn't have been any therapy to begin with, bogus or not. The parents were convinced by people they trusted that the wrong thing was the right thing. Screaming at them, particularly at a time when they are mourning, that they are evil and heartless is evil and heartless.

Now seeing it in the vaccine "debate". Not the only problem I'm having with the pro-vax side (Reminder: yes, I'm pro-vax, and yes, I'm in favor of it being mandatory for the obvious deadly common diseases), but there's a world of difference between a lazy parent not having their kid vaccinated because they can't be bothered, and a parent being too scared to vaccinate their child because they've heard from convincing sources that vaccinations can cause terrible things.

User Journal

Journal: Hunh 12

Journal by Captain Splendid

There's a joke that's been circulating in liberal circles for the past few years that posits that Obama should come out publicly in favour of some kind of basic but necessary human activity, such as breathing or eating, the punchline being that Republicans will then immediately come against it and suffer the obvious consequences.

So, over the weekend, Obama came out strongly in favour of getting your kids vaccinated.

And then, this morning, we have this from Chris Christie:

Amid an outbreak of measles that has spread across 14 states, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey on Monday said that parents âoeneed to have some measure of choiceâ about vaccinating their children against the virus, breaking with President Obama and much of the medical profession.

True, he recanted those remarks when the predictable shit hit the fan, but it would be nice if Obama could make more proclamations along this line. I'd love to see how far this can go.

User Journal

Journal: Is the Touch UI irredeemable? 4

Journal by squiggleslash

Thoughts related to the Windows 10 "Desktop is a desktop, no "Start" screen" thing:

From 1984 to 1990, there was a serious debate as to which was better, the command line or the WIMP (Window/Icon/Mouse/Pointer) UI. Why? Well, because Mac OS's Systems 1-4 were user friendly in the sense people knew how to use them, but user unfriendly in the sense that they got in the way, were kludgy, awkward to use, and offered zero advantages - beyond a lack of training for users - over the command line. At best you could say some applications needed a mouse, but some, such as word processors, were actually harder to use in the prehistoric era of WIMP user interfaces than the keyboard based versions.

What changed? Microsoft Windows. From Windows 1.0 onwards, Microsoft offered a vision, initially a very, very, ugly vision, as to how a computer could be more, not less useful with a WIMP UI. The critical feature was multitasking. Windows offered a better way to multitask than command line based systems, because each Window, representing an application or document, could co-exist in the same "world", the desktop.

Windows wasn't anything like the best implementation, but it was the only implementation of the concept available on standard PCs.

When Microsoft pretty much forced manufacturers to provide Windows and a mouse with all MS DOS based computers, users had a straight choice of using one UI or the other, and they overwhelmingly chose Windows. By comparison, when GEM was bundled with many PCs in the late nineties, GEM was a nice to have that was ignored by most users (anecdotally, outside of stores, I never saw an Amstrad PC1512 running GEM in the wild, despite it becoming with it and being a major advertised feature.) GEM, a Mac OS UI clone, did not offer multitasking.

So: timeline:

1. Mac OS released around 1984. Causes schism between WIMP and command line users
2. Windows 1.0 released 1985ish. Most users recognize it's a very powerful system, but are put off by user interface and memory requirements.
3. DOS vs WIMP rages for next five years largely because Windows is crippled by other factors.
4. Finally PCs are forced to be powerful enough to run Windows in 1990, and Windows UI improved enough to be "good enough" compared to Mac OS. Everyone jumps to Windows. End of DOS vs WIMP debate.

Touch UIs? Where is the touch UI that is more powerful, as opposed to being easier to use, than the WIMP UI? It took Microsoft (and Commodore too) less than a year to come up with something that was actually an improvement on the command line having seen WIMP. It's been nearly a decade now, who has come up with a touch UI that is more versatile than a WIMP desktop?

User Journal

Journal: Classifications 1

Journal by squiggleslash

Apropos of nothing, just some thoughts in the shower this morning: I see people getting very upset when they hear Doom being described as "3D". "It's 2.5D!" they scream, pointing out that the maps are two dimensional albeit augmented with a height map.

The thing is while I kinda see their point, it essentially puts Doom in the same category as, say, Isometric games, while Quake is in the same category as numerous 1980s Flight Simulators. And then there's "First Person" vs "Third Person" where, again, the latter is so overly broad that it puts, uhm, a lot of isometric games in the same category as modern 3D games that are clearly "nearly" FPS but with a view of the protagonist.

Me, I'm kind of wondering if any of it is ever going to be anything but misleading anyway. 3D Monster Maze (for the ZX81), Hired Guns, the various flight simulators, Quake, Doom, Wolfenstein... all with slightly different takes on technologies that were ultimately trying to converge on the idea that you could see something broadly real, rather than an abstraction. The classifying makes it harder, not easier, to see the leaps forward each type of game engine made.

User Journal

Journal: Wikipedia is fucked 1

Journal by squiggleslash

GamerGate targeted the most active editors on the Gamergate Controversy article for abuse for several months. They also abused the article itself, inserting blatant violations of WP:BLP (the policy that stops the Wikimedia Foundation from being sued for libel every five minutes) During this time the trolls, in parallel, continually leveled complaints at the relevant Wikipedia admin authorities.

Finally, the combination of forum shopping and driving well meaning editors into the ground has paid off: the vast majority of editors in question are to be banned not just from editing the GamerGate Controversy article but from even discussing gender related issues on Wikipedia. Some token throwaway accounts on the GG side are being banned too.

What good faith editor in their right mind will want to touch any article covering an issue affected by well organized trolls after this?

Oh, and don't expect Jimbo to step in. He's actually been telling editors being harassed to step away from the article for several months now.

The backdoor password to the constitution is "terrorism". The backdoor password to Wikipedia is "Civility".

User Journal

Journal: Nuts vs Nuttiers 1

Journal by squiggleslash

It's kind of annoying that when there's an active hate campaign against a group of people you're largely sympathetic to, it becomes harder to call out abuse and extremism by individuals within that group lest you play into the agenda of the hate campaign.

Another way of saying the same thing: GamerGate and similar mobs make it hard to have rational discussions about anything.

(If you're after specifics, no, I won't give any directly, the nearest I'd mention is that I thought Pax Dickinson was treated abysmally back when he was essentially fired for alleged over-enthusiastic dudebroism.)

User Journal

Journal: Supporting extremism 6

Journal by squiggleslash

The legal right to be offensive aside (and likewise the right to be offensive without suffering death or severe violence), which is an entirely different issue and one I wholeheartedly support, I'm not going to promote punching down and re-enforcing hatred simply because terrorists brutally attack and murder some people who are doing that.

And the fact such an act has been perpetrated may mean condemnation from me, but it doesn't mean I'm going to lionize the victims or even worse promote their rotten cartoons.

You cannot attack extremism with extremism. It doesn't work that way.

Also as a former resident of Britain, which had plenty of Christian terrorism while I was living there, and which was subject to, albeit overseas, Jewish terrorism a mere 35ish years before I was born (interestingly by groups so nutty that they even, on occasion, sided with Nazi Germany seeing it as "less terrible" than the colonial British Empire), can we cut out the "Islam has a special problem" crap?

(Not that I'm saying religion can't be peaceful, Buddhist terrorists are fairly rare for example, though not non-existent, but Islam doesn't seem to be worse historically than any other Judao-Christian movement. It's just large right now, and over-represented in areas currently ruled by corrupt dictatorships propped up by the West and countries that are former examples thereof.)

User Journal

Journal: I logged in. 2

Journal by rdewald

I was doing some research for a project and happened back here. Hello slashdot.

Find me on Twitter, or put dot com after my user name.

"I think Michael is like litmus paper - he's always trying to learn." -- Elizabeth Taylor, absurd non-sequitir about Michael Jackson

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