Monthly Archives: June 2002

religion and law

It seems as though religious issues are the topic of the courts today.

In Florida, a Muslim woman’s drivers license was revoked because she refused to do a full facial photograph because it was against her religion. I’m sure she’s going to love the retinal scanners and digital finger prints… Ah, the poor Amish must hate us.

True to my heart, a San Francisco court ruled that the pledge of allegiance was a violation of separation of church and state. Do you realize how many times i had to sit in the hallway because i refused to recite that damn allegiance? And when i did, i made up my own versions that never appeased 6th grade teachers… “One nation, under beaurocracy with violence and hatred for all…”

[cypherpunk login for nytimes: c1ph3rpunk/c1ph3rpunk]


While doing research on transgender issues, i ran across a lot of surgery images (like this one). I always saw these images and smiled, because i knew that their owners were finally in a position where they were proud of what they saw in the mirror. But, as most of these folks are going through the Benjamin Standards of Care, they are seeking out genetalia that looks like what is portrayed in their daily images (although not all). Even though i support trans folks in their right to seek a body that reflects who they are, i’ve also always supported ISNA’s fight to let intersex folks keep the genetalia that they are born with. I have a problem with the medical and social normative functions that force young children into outcast roles. Yet, while i had run across tons and tons of research on intersex kids and trans folks, i had never run across such a wide range of genital differentiation as i found in this medical literature. On one hand, i feel badly for many of the owners of these genitals, particularly those that cause other major medical problems. At the same time, it makes me so angry that we live in a society that can’t honor these differences – c’mon now, i can think of a few women that would very much appreciate penile duplication. But again, i do believe in personal choice.. i just wish that society wouldn’t be so full of pressure..

access to websites

Ok… so, i’ve never been a fan of web profiling by corporations for advertising agencies. So, for most sites, i use one of two tricks. Either, i use cypherpunk [most sites can be accessed with cypherpunk/cypherpunk or something similar, allowing you to go in as a group]. The other thing that i tend to do is choose the top choice of all items, with 20500 as my zipcode (White House). So, often i am a male executive in the financial sector, living at 20500 making <$20,000 a year. I don't want their adverts; i will not comply; i am not a sheep. Well, today i heard about another way to get to NYTimes (since i keep having to make new cypherpunk accounts - latest is c1ph3rpunk): random account generator.

Also, on a related note, i really like one of the cypherpunk links, an interesting old research bit on using crowds to create privacy online… If you are part of a group, you’re activities become the conglomerate.

minority report

Although i didn’t make it to opening night, i did get to see Minority Report on opening weekend. Although i am not the biggest Tom Cruise fan and i get quite annoyed by Steven Spielberg, i was quite pleasantly surprised. The digital cinematography was fab – good lighting tricks, great filters, perfect layout, good use of fisheye and smart irregular dropping of frames. The plot was well done, although it had a bit of that A.I., let’s-add-on-extra-30-minutes feel, but this was much more bearable. I was quite psyched by the perfect timing of the release of a surveillance film, particularly with it’s thought-provoking take on how the public feels about it. There was a great homage to Stanley Milgram, where everyone stopped what they are doing to be accounted for – obedience to authority at its best. Given some of the corporate systems for eyescanning and finger printing, the big question is: how long until this is a reality? [The better question is, of course, will people rise up to say that this is unacceptable?]

Plus, of course, i appreciated the use of technology, mostly thanks to John Underkoffler. I have to imagine that Hiroshi was shitting his pants on Friday, watching all of his tangible research be pertified for the screen. Plus, i caught a neat little use of Ben Fry‘s Valence piece in an early scene. Yay for Media Lab work looking fab!

For those who are curious about the ML-related work, check out:
electronic paper (i.e. the animated newspapers)
laser wall (using lasers to detect hand motion mid-air)
tangible media (sensor-based objects like the memory chips and balls, gesture work, etc.)
… there are more but this is what comes to mind… it’s just so great to see the research prettified…

All and all, i was quite entertained! [as was roger ebert]

privacy by microsoft (palladium)

Microsoft is at it again… only this time, they have support fron all the big players (Intel, AMD, Dell, Gateway, etc.). it seems as though they’ve got a plan to make systems full of privacy and security, which seems fab, right? but of course, i’m worried, because somehow i have a feeling that it’s going to be about surveillance of behavior with complete authentication rather than simply making certain that no one gets to your machine that shouldn’t. but maybe i should be a little be more optimistic – this is after all one of the first public announcements…

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please explain

I need an explanation on this one… what did i do recently? Normally, i go about my day, kinda ignored by people that i pass on the street, minding all of our own business, la la la… it is Boston afterall. But in the last week, something changed and i keep getting noticed. I was walking down Highland at noon and some guy stopped to ask me what time the T closed and after looking at him oddly, he went into a soliloquy about how he was from Georgia and … Weird pickup line. Which i shrugged off. And then, an hour later, a guy decided to pick me up on the lawn of the Media Lab by telling me about his work with 802.11 after he realized that i knew what the protocols meant, of course getting closer and closer with every statement. Ok, it was a weird day so i looked at my clothing (typically hippie, non-descript, hair a wreck, writing up my arms as i was deep in thought). Strange. But it kept happening – the waiter at Denny’s wanted me to go out with him, i got smiles outta people’s cars, etc. And i’m still at a loss – is it the orange hair? Did my phermones change with this new round of medication? Why have i gone from non-descript to being noticed in under a week? And shit, i still don’t know how to respond to pick-up lines…

Hmm.. or should i just explain it by this week’s Village Voice horoscope?
Life is totally unfair, and you will soon be living proof of that, Sagittarius-in reverse, that is! Wild cards and X factors will fall at your feet, in your lap, and on your head. You’re likely to attract a kind of extravagant, unpredictable luck that will almost make no sense. You’ll have such incisive intuition and impeccable timing that it may almost seem as if there’s a cosmic conspiracy working behind the scenes to make you happy and fulfilled. The only potential downside is that envious people may accuse you of having an unnatural advantage or reaping more than your rightful share. Fortunately, your charm levels will be so high that you can probably disarm their resentment.

Personally, i still believe that the only horoscope that i can listen to is The Onion’s:
The race does not always go to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but the job of lead singer always goes to the guy with the best hair.

ecclectic scribbles

Somehow, i’m just not inclined to stay on one topic, ever. So, why try in this format? I think that i just need to stop that..

Accepted the job with V-Day officially today. Computer arrives next week. Health insurance will be taken care of quite soon. Yippeeeee!!

I’m going to a conference this weekend on the Grassroots Use of the Internet – should be absolutely fascinating – activitists & tech geeks!

This week was full of many good good realizations – some emotionally painful, some quite healing after months and years of pain and frustration. Let’s just say that i actually smiled coming in to work today… it’s been a while!

Speaking of which, my advisor sent me a review of a book about eBay since we actually talked for quite a while yesterday about the affects of the dot.bomb and what it meant for companies and communities. And for whateve reason, it made me re-read the notes on the crash of ArsDigita.

[cypherpunk login for nytimes: c1ph3rpunk/c1ph3rpunk]

On the weird medical side, there’s a funny report about how tampons may protect against endometriosis (as does hetero sex during menstruation). Does that mean that i should give up my keeper? Grrrr….

Fusion finally announced their festival lineup! Now, i’m not overwhelmed by the lineup, but i would not miss such a fun event, especially given the venue!