Blogging in general, and a new project

It’s been a long time since I wrote here. In the past few months, I have moved across the country, and helped four other people do the same. It is exhausting and tiring but so rewarding to improve not only my own life but the lives of others by sharing in new experiences.

Enough of that, though. I am starting up a new Linux distribution, titled Adélie Linux, aimed at being very fast, very small, and fully POSIX® compliant. It’s almost meeting those three goals! Going forward, I think I will be starting a new blog specifically about my adventures with Adélie, which will probably take up a considerable amount of my writing time. This blog will stay around, though, not only for memories past but for non-Adélie related things in my life. I am still interested in Python, writing emulators, music, and other general geekiness; I just now have a new project that is taking up a large amount of my free time.

How trans-people are really people, like all of us

Having spent a considerable and unfortunate amount of time around bigoted people, I came to a rather interesting train of thought that I want to share widely.

Let me start by asking you a simple question: would you treat a woman differently based on whether or not she had an appendectomy performed? What about a man who was born with six toes; would it change your opinion of him whether or not he had it removed? For the vast majority of people, and even the bigoted crowd that inspired this train of thought, the answer would be a resounding no: who are we to judge someone based on a corrective procedure they had to repair a defect with their body?

Okay, now here’s a similar and still simple question: would you treat a woman differently based on whether or not she had her penis removed?

“Stop,” I hear some of you calling. “That is a completely separate subject,” you ration. Why?

What makes the correction of a birth defect involving sex organs any different from correcting birth defects or ailments with any other organ? Are we, as a culture and society, so hyperfocused on sexuality that we can’t accept some people have congenital genital defects?

I have begun to wonder why trans equality and trans rights are even being discussed or even exist; that is like stating we need kidney failure equality or diabetic rights. They are all life-long conditions, involve a part of the body being defective, and often require surgery. What is so offensive, so different, so awful about a person having incorrect sex organs? The fault lies with those people who ‘other’ people who suffer from transsexuality, labelling them and saying they are different or somehow less of a person due to a birth defect.

There have been numerous studies that have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the brain can develop independently of primary sex organs, and that the brain can and does sometimes end up with the wiring of the gender opposite that with which a person is born. It is not a “mental disorder” in that there is no psychological problem; the brain is that of a man or woman, in a woman or man’s body. Why should it matter what organs they have?

You can argue that reproduction is a factor, and you may even be right for a few years; but there are numerous research programmes being done as you read this to find a way to reproduction for people with all manner of reproductive organ troubles. Transsexuality is a subset of that; but some women are born without ovaries, some men are born with undescended testes, and so on. Why should we treat people who were born with the wrong set of organs any different from people born with any other problem?

The way I see it, the labelling itself – the fact that people who have this “condition” are considered a different kind of person – is the problem. It is a medical disorder akin to spina bifida or cleft palette, not a label or category of people. I would be hard-pressed to find anyone who would discriminate against a person for having cleft palette; after all, it isn’t their fault, they were born that way. Why should we treat transsexuals any differently?

To a final point, some may also claim that you must have the surgery performed to count as a “true” transsexual. This belief is wrong for a number of reasons. In the same way some people cannot have cleft palette corrected – their body may not be capable of undergoing surgery; they may be allergic to anaesthesia; they may not be able to afford the cost of surgery; and in some communities where healthcare is not readily accessible, they may not even know that a treatment even exists. The same factors can apply to a man with a vagina or a woman with a penis. Some of these people are still able to use hormonal therapy (also known as HRT) to correct at least some of their attributes to more correctly fit with their gender and feel better, while others are unable to obtain even that small amount of help. Instead of ostracising them, we should be embracing them. We must begin to acknowledge that we as a society should be caring for those who have real, physical ailments instead of antagonising them.

After all, wouldn’t you want compassion if you had a birth defect? What about a birth defect that perhaps even persisted in to adulthood or even beyond? Open your heart and mind, and show your fellow people dignity and respect.

 

Time moves too quickly

In memoriam of Telsa Gwynne. Continue reading Time moves too quickly

I have many things to blog about and ideas in my queue – a few half-written drafts and one almost finished final copy. But none of that is important right now.

I’m incredibly late in finding this out, perhaps a side-effect of spending the last two months of my life packing to move to a much better, happier place than where I live now. It was reason enough to drop off of some of the places I frequent, I thought, because it’s not like the same people won’t be there when I have finished my move.

But I’ve just learned that Telsa Gwynne has died. Possibly not a whole lot of people who read my blog will know her, but she was quite active in the open-source community when I was growing up. I loved to read her “diary entries“, what today we would call a blog. It was during a re-read of her diary last year that I became inspired to create this blog, and indeed, my musing posts are basically my own version of it. It is directly as a result of her writing that this blog exists, and that I have been able to help others whether it be in FreeBSD, Gentoo, Python, or elsewhere. I am grateful to her and I am quite sorry that I never was able to tell her about it. I had considered it, at one time, but felt it would be silly, especially since I am not very well known yet outside of some FreeBSD circles. Who am I to bother someone whom I greatly respect, with a silly story of a small blog? Regret does not begin to express the emotions I feel from not telling her anyway.

Fare thee well, Telsa. I did not know you personally, but your writing style would betray that in my heart and mind, and those of many like me. You may have been removed from the open source communities you were once a large part of, but your legacy lives on, and will always live on. Your perseverance inspired me. And I give all of my deepest condolences to your family and friends, who will surely miss you more than I ever could.

 

Musings: SSH key types, PayPal API documentation, and more

I have a few random musings to arf about today.

Sleep is miserable. I don’t know why I even bother pretending to have a schedule to myself. Between work demands, personal issues, and the fact that I tend to favour going to sleep around the 05:00 hour naturally, it’s impossible. Sure, I can hold a “normal person” schedule indefinitely… if I have no external factors. But my life is full of external factors that make it impossible. And there are some people in my life that try and make me feel guilty for not being able to hold a schedule. It feels miserable.

In other news, PayPal’s API documentation for their SetExpressCheckout call lies. They say the xsi:type for the SolutionType is “ebl:SolutionTypeType”, but I found out the hard way that passing that as the type causes a SOAP Fault (and leaks the API password and signature out in the error message)! The only way I can find to do it properly is to set xmlns=”urn:ebay:apis:eBLBaseComponents” on the SolutionType node and then set xsi:type=”SolutionTypeType” (no ebl: namespace). Then the API accepts it fine. Who knows why their systems do what they do.

I investigated making a new SSH key that would be stronger than my current one. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem I really have a choice in the matter. The only common denominator is RSA, as shown in this matrix:

Key Type Mac OS X NetBSD Debian
RSA Yes Yes Yes
DSA Yes Yes Yes
ed25519 No No No
ECDSA No Yes Yes
SSH Version / OS Version 5.6 / 10.8.5 5.9 / 6.1.5/i386. 6.0 / 8.0 “Jessie”.

Note that the following systems supported all listed key types:

  • Gentoo 20150623
  • FreeBSD 10.1
  • OpenBSD 5.6
  • Alpine Linux 3.2
  • Windows 2000

Truly a sad day when a 16 year old Windows OS has more SSH key types available (via mingw) than Mac OS X, NetBSD, and Debian combined. Looks like I’m sticking with RSA keys for the foreseeable future.