Give me a freaking break

Compare and contrast the following real things that really happened, and tell me what the difference is between them:

  • A West Virginia Senate candidate compares having to put ‘smoke-free’ signs on public buildings to Nazi-era Jews being forced to wear the Star of David.
  • The Governor of Mississippi says of the Democratic Party: “their one mission in life is to abort children, is to kill children in the womb”. Their one mission.
  • The executive vice president of the NRA believes that, by not making any attempt at introducing gun control laws, the president of the United States is secretly trying to lull gun owners into letting him win a second term, wherein he will immediately introduce a raft of gun-control laws.
  • A plurality of Republican voters still believe that the President was not born in the United States. Despite all evidence to the contrary, and despite him being the most scrutinized political figure in the history of the world.
  • Here in New Zealand, a proposal to offer free long-term birth-control to welfare beneficiaries is being met with howls of consternation and cries of ‘eugenics!’.

Which one of these is the odd one out?

There is no odd one out, all of them are bugfuck insane.

The common thread between them is a political position so blinded by hatred that it sees every single action of the “other side” as an evil conspiracy, and a contrariness so ingrained that you’ve started to define your position as “the opposite of the other guy”.

Look, I’m not a fan of National. I didn’t vote for them, I don’t want them in government, I think they’re selling us out on a grand scale for short term gain and I think the Prime Minister is probably a slimeball.

There’s a lot of stupid shit going on in the world. In the United States, women are having to re-fight a battle over their own bodies that was won and over in the 60s. Caused by the dying convulsions of a conservative movement that’s being demographically wiped out through aging populations, immigration, and education.

Women’s choices are being restricted all over the place. So when the fuck did offering more choice to women become evil?

Eugenics has a horrid, ugly history. Every once in a while it rears its head. In developed and undeveloped countries.

Do you know what the difference is between offering contraception; and coercing or forcing sterilization?

Fucking everything.

Some people are saying that the policy is deliberately targeting the poor. They’re not wrong, and admittedly that could sound suspicious if you choose to ignore the fact that that’s what benefits are for. Benefits are for the people who otherwise couldn’t afford them.

I can’t believe I have to do this, but I beg you to have the intellectual honesty to think it through: It would be great if our healthcare provided free, fully-paid for contraception to everybody. Sounds great, but let’s say it’s too expensive, and you can only offer it to some people. Do you offer it to the people who could afford it anyway, or the people who otherwise couldn’t? Does that mean you’re targeting them? Yes! You are! Because they’re poor! That’s the point.

One more time, very slowly: there is no world in which giving women more control and choice over their bodies is a bad thing. If you want to fight, fight the parts that are reducing choices, like the punitive measures against women if they don’t go back to work while their baby is still completely helpless. Fight that stuff. Fight for choice, not against it.

Westmorland is a Filipino gangster haven!

Oh crap, what’s happened? It’s unusual enough for Ngaira to message me, something horrific must have happened.

(For some reason my first guess was that someone must have been arrested, I wonder if that is a reflection of myself, or of Ngaira…)

Wow! That’s terrible! But… what on earth were they doing in Manila instead of Christchurch? When could they have snuck off for that little trip?

Also, since Ngaira would probably claw her own eyes out sooner than write “at the gunpoint”, the credibility of this story is really starting to plummet.

At this point, I call Ngaira’s cellphone, and it gets answered by her husband, who informs me that she’s out in the back gardening. So irresponsible, he clearly needs to keep better track of his wife.

Now I’m trying to work out exactly what the angle is. Where does the money pitch come in?

…and this is the point where The Real Ngaira hits the ‘disable account button’, so sadly I was never to know where to send the money.

This is the first time I’ve seen this kind of scam, but not the first time I’ve seen someone’s Facebook chat taken over. If you get surprising messages like this, I highly recommend you make sure your friends pass a Turing Test of some kind before you continue. Ask them something that the real person would know (and not something that’s easily gleaned from Facebook or email since they probably have access).

The scammer in this case was obviously a real person, and even had good English skills, but it was clearly a second language. Good spelling but bad word choices.

Facebook obviously sees this sort of thing a lot, and has a very clear procedure when someone hacks an account for a money scam.

What I’m most interested in is how the account was hijacked. Maybe a compromised computer, or an easily guessed password.

Pro tips:

  • Seriously, make your password unguessable. Letters and numbers and symbols and NOT birthdays or kids’ names or anything like that.
  • If you worry your password is too hard to remember, don’t try. It is okay to write down your passwords, that transforms them from “something you know” to “something you have”. Just like a house key or an ID card. Just don’t leave it out for people to see or grab, and don’t leave it on a post-it note stuck to your goddamn computer screen.
  • I use Keepass to keep track of over a hundred passwords. I don’t know a single one of them. The best part is I don’t need to use the same password in multiple places, so next time Dropbox or whatever service is compromised, I don’t have to change my password in lots of places.

Finally, if you live in Christchurch, especially out in the outer ghettos like Westmorland, watch out for Filipino gangsters!

Group hug

I just took the Depression Screening Test at PsychCentral. The simple quiz is intended to measure your tendency for depression, and recommends that in the event of a high score or a dramatic change in score, that you seek help from a mental health professional.

It’s a simple test, you rate yourself against statements such as:

  • I do things slowly.
  • My future seems hopeless.
  • I have difficulty making decisions.
  • I feel fatigued.

However,  I re-worded all the questions to replace the personal pronouns with collective ones. So I was answering “We do things slowly”, “Our future seems hopeless”, “We have difficulty making decisions” and “We feel fatigued”.

Well, the results are in, and I’m afraid we score about 68 on the depressive scale:

Based upon your responses to this depression quiz, you appear to be suffering from a severe depression. People who have answered similarly to you typically qualify for a diagnosis of major depression and have sought professional treatment for this disorder.

You should not take this as a diagnosis of any sort, or a recommendation for treatment. However, it would be advisable and likely beneficial for you to seek further diagnosis from a trained mental health professional immediately.

I’ve checked the numbers. Seems legit. Don’t feel bad, at least now we know.

(not a cry for help, just an amusing reflection of my cynical take on the current state of humanity)

Are you even *listening* to me?

Okay, just to recap for those with better things to do: New Zealand elected its first profoundly deaf minister of parliament. Mojo Mathers. Profoundly deaf means that seriously, nothing is going to get through, hearing aids won’t cut it. She is a member of the Green Party, who aren’t exactly flush with cash. Being in a minor party is actually a position of some power and influence in New Zealand (unlike fundamentally broken and corrupt two-party systems), but it’s still no cakewalk.

The controversy has come from the government’s refusal to accommodate her disability in the debating chamber. They have refused to finance the cost of either note-takers or live closed-captioning, and have told her that her party will have to pay the expense out of their own ‘allowance’. The cost of which would apparently consume roughly 100% of that budget.

Yadda yadda etc etc. I’m not the news. Look it up for more details.

I just have one thought on this I’d like to share. The government seem to have their priorities exactly backwards on this. It’s not in Mojo’s best interest that she be able to hear the whining, tedious drivel that goes on in parliament day after day. It’s theirs.

Mojo can communicate just fine. I assume she’s perfectly fluent in written word and sign language, and in fact can speak extraordinarily eloquently for someone who has never in her life heard a human voice. I was stunned when I heard her give her maiden speech. She must have spent, well, her whole life, working on her speaking to get to that point.

So: She’s fine. She can communicate her message to the whole country elegantly and clearly, not to mention sympathetically. How are the other members of parliament going to convince her to vote their way when they need her vote? That’s the point of the debating chamber, after all, convince your opponents of your argument. In her case, I guess they’re just going to have to send her an email.