Don’t get distracted by the shiny cross

Recovered from the Wayback Machine

Both Rox Populi and PZ Myers are outraged at a post by a “Christian Libertarian” weblogger who is, himself, outraged at a new mandate in Norway to open up executive positions for women and a new law to force men to help out with household chores in Spain. He writes:

Far too many women are fascists at heart. You can see this at work in almost every female-dominant organization and in the way that women’s organizations constantly attempt to force change on everyone, men and women, who don’t want it. Some people think the Founding Fathers had never even considered the thought of allowing women to vote, that it was just a historical oversight on the part of some unconsciously sexist men. I suspect that they knew perfectly well what they were doing, given the obvious connection between the female franchise and the West’s continental drift into socialism.

I adore Rox Populi and PZ, but in this case I just can’t share their anger. You see, writing like this doesn’t really make me angry. If anything I chuckled gleefully throughout the whole thing because it represents such an raw, blatantly open viewpoint, with absolutely no sly wit undermining good sense or logic; having no subtlety, it actually helps those it supposedly is meant to hurt, and hurts those who are meant to be helped.

For instance. I imagine that after reading this, libertarians like Glenn Reynolds are frantically waving their hands in negation and quickly saying, “Hey, he’s not my kind of Libertarian”, and good Christians like Michelle Malkin are going, “Hey, he’s not my kind of Christian–and let’s wall up the borders!”

(Oh, beg pardon–I forgot that Michelle is also a woman, and therefore fascist at heart.)

If I am peeved by the writing it’s not from the opinions expressed, but the fact that they’re based on historical misinformation. I mean if one is going to make such sweeping pronouncements, you would think that one would take a moment to actually check facts in Yahoo or Google before doing so.

Those who met to draft the Constitution and new government of the United States didn’t want to make a decision about who could and could not vote and set up a system whereby people from each state would vote for representatives who would then elect the leaders. By doing this, the federal government left the decision on who could, or could not, vote to the states.

Beginning with the very formation of the government of the US, women did have the right to vote. It was only after the formation of the new union was this right removed, state by state, with New Jersey removing it at the last, in 1807. However, as new states entered the union, women having the right to vote or not changed with each, and throughout much of our history women had the right to vote somewhere. It is only with the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment that the right to vote for women was made part of the Constitution, overriding whatever states rights existed at that time and since.

Frankly, before making the decision to deed voting rights to the states, the founding fathers spent more time discussing whether a voter should have real property than whether the voter should be a man.

As for Mr. Vox Popoli’s connection between women suffrage and fascism, as evidenced in the following statement:

There is a reason why a fascist demagogue like Benito Mussolini made suffragism the very first point in the Fascist Manifesto, after all.

Leaving aside such breathless leaps of inference, again if we look at history, we’ll see that women have campaigned vigorously against slavery, for free schools and libraries, accessible medical care, and for the rights of of workers. In fact, women were some of the most vocal anti-slavery campaigners, and the earliest union members. So if we are extrapolating from women’s activism to a specific political and financial system, women have historically favored a more *socialistic form of government and society.

In fact, Mr. Populi would seem to agree with this, and this gave cause for my injured neck this morning when the very sentence before the one I just quoted read (in reference to the Founding Fathers not giving women the vote):

I suspect that they knew perfectly well what they were doing, given the obvious connection between the female franchise and the West’s continental drift into socialism.

Whiplash such as this can cause permanent injury. Mr. Populi, you should provide warnings.

Really, the only reason I’m linking to this post at Vox Popoli is that the stories he linked to (the Norwegian executive mandate, and the new Spanish law requiring men to share housework) are fascinating discussion items worthy of much debate.

Once we find people capable of such a debate, of course.

*Before we sidetrack into a debate on ’socialism is fascism’, see the Wikipedia article comparing the two.

Technology Weblogging

First alpha release

Following the open source mantra of “release early, release often”, I’ve uploaded the first alpha release of Wordform. You can access it from SourceForge.

You’ll want to backup before using this, and install the application in a database separate from your production environment.

You’ll need to edit config.php to match your database information and also add in the siteurl for the URL of the weblog. If you move the installation, you’ll need to change this value.

The install files are in /admin/install and are pretty simple. If you’re making a copy of your existing WordPress database (not using your production one, of course), it should upgrade fine. But this is early alpha, so anything goes.

For creating static files, set the static subdirectory to world writable. To have the system manage your .htaccess file, make it writable by the world.

I recommend this release only for developers and those experienced with early releases. You can add bug reports at SourceForge, but if you have installation problems, you might want to add a comment here or send me an email.

A more stable release will go out at end of week, and I hope to make new releases weekly, as well as use the CVS facilities. When I release at the end of the week, I’ll release a separate package with just those files that have changed between alpha-01 and alpha-02.


My but I’m happy

That I have removed trackback support from Wordform. Today I was hit with over 1000 trackback posts that basically triggered a “Gone”, or 410 result. This was following several hundred requests yesterday, and who knows how many the day before.

Since I don’t support trackback, there’s no database access to check for blacklisted keywords or domains; no test to see if the trackback is from a friend. It simply bounces off my application, like a meteorite skipping off the earth’s atmosphere…just not as pretty.

Over 13,000 in my logfile and getting new requests every 5 seconds…

Just Shelley

I love to code

I love to code. Somehow, somewhere along the way, I forgot how much I love to create software.

As I added years of experience, companies would increasingly pull me away from the computer and put me into a suit and a room and tell me to tell them what to do and their ‘junior’ people would do the coding because I was too valuable ‘just to code’.

Infrastructure was the word and architecture was my game, and I was, and am, good at this. I can spot bad tech a mile away, and can speak ‘user’, as well as ‘programmer’ and ‘manager’–a multi-lingual capability that proved itself of high worth again and again. But these gifts of mine rarely gave me a chance to just sit and code; to create something born of inspiration and need.

Coders will understand when I mention the ‘Aha!’ moment; when you hear from the other side of a cubical wall a cry of triumph–usually followed by the person bouncing out of their chair and in a hyperkinetic frenzy, walking about, dancing about–rapid swoosh of slinky being balanced from hand to hand, and shit-eating grin wide across the face. There were no cubical walls around me, and I scared my cat I think, but today I had one of those moments. And I re-discovered that I love to code.

I never realized until recently how much my experience at had burned me out. It was the ultimate position someone like me dreams about: I had complete creative control of the architecture of the product, good rapport with the using community, a great team, and I still had time to code. I even had a CTO who I liked, though he was a pain in the butt at times.

But then the dot-com bust happened, and very nasty politics entered our game. The worry about our future and the anger at the power players, not to mention 16 hour days, eroded the joy so much, it’s taken me years to rediscover the person who sat down at a VAX terminal one day and typed in her first line of BASIC–and I’ll be damned, it worked!

I finished the metadata extension to Wordform today, and it works nicely and even though it’s not particularly fancy coding–using my code to glue together bits and pieces from others’ open source software–seeing it all come together, simply and with few moving parts, generated a rush of pure joy. That can’t be me, old, tired me that just experienced that moment. Can it?

We’ve been critical lately about ‘hackers and painters’, but this coder found the experience to be as satisfying as accomplishing a tough hike; as exhilarating as coming home from a day of shooting only to discover one perfect photo among the discards; as sure as knowing that something I’ve written is exactly right.

I did this. Whether people love it or hate it, doesn’t matter. The experience goes beyond money or, to use the coin of this realm, hypertext links; it even goes beyond being attractive to a member of the sex of preference and getting a mention in the New York Times. I did this.

Never take a coder for granted, or look at us with disdain or indifference; seeing in our aging bodies, the geeky children with vague ghosts of pocket protectors overlying whatever fashion sense we’ve learned to adopt as protective coloration. In moments like this, we almost have all the power of the universe in our fingertips because we make things work.

I love to code. That’s all. End of message.


Distributed digital diet

If you could see my profile, you would see that I’ve dropped a lot of excess weight. Yes, last night I pulled my photos sub-directory, my multimedia directory, closed down the separate account, and downgraded to a leaner, meaner account — with just enough room to work on, and finish, one project before moving on to the next.

I put my request in for the change with the Hosting Matters folks last night before going to bed, and it was all taken care of by the time I awoke this morning. Of course, some might say that if I went with one of the new ‘cheap/lots’ hosts that provided a lot more space for a lot less money, I wouldn’t have to do these changes. However, I’ve been with Hosting Matters for years, now–long enough to know that any request I put in is answered almost immediately. More, I’ve watched the folks at HM enough to know that they a) really know their stuff, and b) don’t host so many people that they’re overrun with trying to keep up. More importantly, they know me. They know my level of expertise, and what I can or cannot do, and respond to each request accordingly. Can’t do that when you’re hosting a thousand accounts on one server. Can’t do that if you hop from host to host on a whim, or because you’ve been enticed by thousands of megabytes of space for 1.95US.

Of course, once I pulled the photos, all those boys and girls who hotlinked my images are crying in their cocoa this morning. I had dropped hotlink protection a couple of months ago, curious to see what would happen with Google and Yahoo images. And I don’t begrudge people linking my images in newsgroups–after all, many of them are relatively inexperienced about concepts such as ‘bandwidth’ use, and think this is the right way to do it (i.e. give credit to the image creator by linking back to the person’s image directly); many are just kids having fun. I figured, as long as I had the bandwidth, I wasn’t going to be worried about a link here or there.

Well, some images proved fairly hot, such as the feminine pirate flag. It ended up being linked in what amounts to hundreds of discussion forums and various other locations. Now, all of these images will be crashed and broken, and though I feel a bit bad (”oh, so sorry”), I feel so much better now that I’m not carrying around 200+M of images. Not to mention no longer being jabbed and pricked and bled, drop by bandwidth drop, by the little hotlinking dears.

Now, the issue of hotlinking has been passed on to flickr, as has the issue of excess fat around the middle of my web site. Eventually flickr may have to deal with bandwidth issues, as well as copyright issues. (A simple approach could be to have owners register the domains that will link to their own images so that hotlinking can be restricted (though this does violate the spirit of the site, which is based on photo sharing).)

As it is, per the terms of use*, avatars and site graphics cannot be posted to the account so if I want to post the pirate flag, I’ll have to do so on my account, and add hotlink protections. Which I did — pointing all of my weblogs to one shared directory to keep things simple and clean. Since graphics either are reused in pages, or much less space intensive than photos, I have room for the odd image from time to time..

Jolly Roger Pirate Flag does pink

Best of all, as I go through my weblog posts and change the URLs to point to the image on flickr, I also use metadata to capture the original image name. Then, if for some reason I want to move the images locally again, it’s just a matter of running an application that will translate each flickr image URL into the appropriate local URL, and I’m ready to rock n’ roll without a break. Centralized storage with a distributed back door.

Speaking of which, back to work on the last metadata bit on Wordform before the release. After a nice afternoon walk that is.

*from the flickr TOS:

Your account will also be terminated if it is used for hosting graphic elements of web page designs, icons, smilies, buddy icons, forum avatars, badges and other non-photographic elements on external websites.