2010-01-31

Australia bans depictions of small breasts and female ejaculation

 
Incredible.

If the world is indeed overpopulated, then censors like these should be the first to go.

Protecting you from yourself, and from your obviously immoral curiosity about female ejaculation.

2010-01-30

"You... slut!"

In various shapes and forms, the following has been making the rounds:


This has a ring of truth to it, which is why people think it's funny. But it's false - unless the woman in question is failing to protect her fertility by getting tested and using condoms, or is failing to use birth control.

I think that the label "slut" for women who like sex is spread primarily by women who have a lower sex drive to begin with, and use sex as a means of manipulating their partners. If such women did not shun and discredit other women who genuinely like sex, then their undesirability would become apparent and their manipulativeness would lose power.

2010-01-26

St. Kitts election

The Labour party has been in power in St. Kitts & Nevis for 3 consecutive terms over the past 15 years. During Labour's reign, the islands first subsidized an ailing sugar industry, then retired it, improved as a tourist destination, and have seen much development in recent years. This would have been great, if it wasn't for an ominous and enormous dark side: the foreign debt has ballooned from several million USD when Labour began their first term, to now over US $1 billion. With a population of perhaps 50,000, this works out to $20,000 US per every adult or child - exceeding the islands' annual GDP.

Talk of corruption is endemic, and the amounts that have reportedly been spent on public projects, such as houses for laid off sugar workers, seem to be more than these projects should cost. Since St. Kitts has no external supervision and no Freedom of Information Act, it is hard to estimate how much of the more than $1 billion has been siphoned off to private accounts, but the word in the newspapers and on the street is that the people in power are living beyond their salaries, and own surprising amounts of expensive real estate, locally and abroad.

This year began with an election for the next 5-year governing term. The competition is for 11 seats of the National Assembly. 3 of those seats go to representatives from Nevis, while 8 seats go to representatives from St. Kitts.

The two islands are a federation, and the parties in St. Kitts are separate from those in Nevis. Since St. Kitts controls 8 seats, the main competition is in St. Kitts. The contenders here belong virtually exclusively to either Labour, led by PM Denzil Douglas, or to its antagonist PAM, led by Lindsay Grant. The election, which was held this Sunday, again gave Labour a decisive victory: it won 6 seats to PAM's 2.

But there's a twist.

The local democracy here has a peculiar rule that a candidate can only fail to run for office twice. Once you have been a candidate twice, and failed both times, you may no longer run for office. It so happens that the leader of PAM, Lindsay Grant, lost the previous time around. If he lost again, he would no longer be able to run for office; PAM would be decapitated.

So Labour set out to make this happen. They expected correctly that voters in Denzil Douglas's district would vote overwhelmingly for him. They therefore encouraged a large number of those voters to register in Mr. Grant's district instead, to turn the balance against him. These extra voters did not necessarily live in Mr. Grant's district, but it so happens that voter registration doesn't require anyone to prove where they live. So apparently, hundreds of people from Mr. Douglas's district went to the other district to vote against Mr. Grant. As a result, Mr. Grant lost the election by a total of 29 votes out of 2,661 in his district. If this is left to stand, he is no longer eligible for office.

The peculiar thing is that this is not considered blatantly illegal. My understanding is that Labour freely admits to having done this, and contends that this is quite alright according to the law.

You can imagine that the PAM supporters disagree, and that there is major tension about the issue. Mr. Grant will need to challenge this outcome in court, but the swearing in of the new representatives is this week.

The further unfolding of this story should be exciting. Not too exciting, hopefully.

2010-01-22

Obama is the man

It's been a year and I have to say that, so far, I am fairly pleased with the Obama presidency.

It is certainly much better than the dumb white guy that was in charge before.

I am particularly happy to hear about his plans for some serious bank reform that ought to prevent banks from getting too big to fail.

This is good news, and is something I've been advocating since a year ago.

2010-01-21

Violent genes

In the UK, two brothers, aged 10 and 11 at the time, beat two other boys almost to death, apparently unprovoked:
During police interview, the court heard the older brother said he attacked the boys because he had been bored and "there were nowt to do".

[...]

A BBC investigation has already revealed the two attackers were well-known troublemakers and that social services were heavily involved in their lives.
Compassion is a genetic trait.

Some people have more of it, some have less of it, and some people don't have it.

We aren't all the same.

Most people who lack traits that we take for granted don't make themselves visible like this. They live among us and have relatively normal lives, except for little or no compassion, and they show this in small ways rather than large.

I say this because some people have a fiction that there is such a thing as a "brotherhood of humankind", united in values that "virtually all" respect (or should respect) by default.

This is not true. Not only do we not appreciate the same ideals, we don't even share the ability to. Perhaps up to half the human population is evil. We are not united in our sensibilities and ideals. We come together as individuals who agree on a common set of laws to solve our various private concerns.

Societies that understand this, and build on the basis of everyone's self-interest, prosper. Societies that try to build on some non-existent, pre-supposed common idealism, fail.

2010-01-09

G-spots and squirting

There has recently been a lot of ruckus about a "study" having "proved" that there is "no such thing" as a G-spot.

The "study" basically involved asking a bunch of women who were twins whether they have a G-spot or not.

Since women in genetically identical pairs would differ on whether they have a G-spot, the study concluded that there must not be any such thing.

The study seems to have pretty much completely ignored relevant information such as the variety and sexual competence of these women's sexual partners.

I shudder to think that this sort of complete bullshit passes any sort of review and gets published worldwide as if it's meaningful.

If you want to know the truth about sexual topics, you need to go to people who have had a lot of sex and a variety of sexual partners.

You need to go to people who enjoy swinging, partner swapping, group sex, open relationships.

If you enter a community like that, you will quickly learn that:
  • Yes, there most definitely is a G-spot. Even if you think you don't have one, if you find the right partner, you may be surprised.
  • Yes, women most definitely have the capability to squirt (female ejaculation). Not all women are physically capable of it, but a very large proportion is. Even if you think you're not, if you find the right partner, you may be surprised.
You just can't get very reliable information about people's sexual potential by studying people who deliberately try to not have sex.

Addendum: Some readers have interpreted the above as boasting that I am "the right partner". This was not the intended at all.

I do believe that it may very well be possible to have a semi-objective ranking of people's sexual prowess; some ways of doing it are just universally lame, while others will receive a good response from most potential partners. However, it seems highly unlikely that we would ever have consensus on who is the best sex partner - or even who is "very good". This seems highly dependent on each person's biology, preferences, and past experience.

2010-01-08

PEBKAC

PEBKAC. Acronym for: Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair.

I have cofounded, and I run, a small software company that specializes in SSH client and server software for Windows.

SSH is a standardized protocol which specifies how a desktop program, called an SSH client, can connect to a back-end program running on another machine. The other program is called an SSH server, and the SSH standard specifies how the two programs can transmit files and information in a securely authenticated and encrypted manner.

If you have any experience with computers, I hope it's not too far fetched to expect that you have a vague understanding of what "client" and "server" means. A program that runs in a client role is proactive: it decides what server to connect to and what actions to request that server to perform. A program that runs in a server role is reactive: it waits expectantly to receive connections from clients, and responds to them as they arrive, in turn.

So, as I mentioned earlier, our company makes an SSH server, called WinSSHD, and an SSH client, which we call Tunnelier.

About a year ago, we introduced a built-in feedback feature into WinSSHD, which I hoped would make it easier for users to report any problems that they might experience, so that we can fix them.

And report they do.

Unfortunately, however, my expectations turned out to be... off the mark... about the quality of the feedback we would receive.

The very first thing that it became apparent we have to do was to introduce a minimal length requirement for the content of the feedback.

The feedback dialog, which is displayed automatically when a user uninstalls WinSSHD, has four components. There is text which explains that the user can provide feedback, but only if they want to. There is a text area for the feedback, and there are two buttons. One says "Send", the other says "Close". The instructions say that if you don't want to send feedback, just click "Close".

In the beginning, the only requirement to send feedback was that it's non-empty. This was insufficient. We got a barrage of feedbacks that said simply "blah" or "[expletive]" or "doesn't work". Such feedback, of course, is useless - and often just plain mean and insulting. So we now require that the feedback must have 40 or more characters.

The volume of useless feedback is now less, but even so, between 1/2 and 2/3 of all the feedback we receive is "abdfhkjghdfkjghfj..." - garbage characters repeated enough times to satisfy the 40 character minimum. Some feedback even seems angry because we "make" them type it in. Most of these people use an English version of Windows; and yet, they do not seem to realize that they could simply click Close.

Which brings me to the next most common type of frustrating feedback. These are people who have downloaded the SSH server instead of the SSH client, and do not realize their mistake. Here's one such case:
what is wrong with simple ftp transfers? This has a large learning curve, and I don't have a lot of time.

I uninstalled this before I even ran it.

Make it simple:
1. where do you want to connect
2. what is your login name
3. what is your password

That's about it.

terrible interface.
This is feedback from an apparently literate English speaker who has succeeded in downloading, installing, uninstalling, and forming a terrible opinion of WinSSHD, without even noticing the plentiful occurences of the word "server".

The sad thing, the tragedy, is that this is not exceptional. We get feedback like this every day. In combination with the people who send "abcdkjhkjshg" because they don't realize they can simply click Close, this constitutes the majority of our feedback.

Yes, we have also received feedback that was beneficial, and has helped us improve WinSSHD. The feature does help, despite the frustration. And even if all it did was let us know how many people were totally befuddled beyond our expectations - that would be helpful as well.

But still... there is so much of this.

I have already tried changing our download page to clearly identify which program is the server and which program is the client. The only thing that remains to be done is to physically separate the download pages, and attempt to lead the user to the right one.

Yet, I still have some doubts that it'll fix the problem completely.

2010-01-04

Why Kenzo died

Edit 2009-01-27: We learned Kenzo's pathology results today. It turns out Kenzo he had a tiny tumor that obstructed his bile. This resulted in the damage to the pancreas and liver that eventually led to his death. We are told that the tumor was very small and hard to identify even during the autopsy. It wasn't until they put the tissue into formalin that they were able to see it. Identifying it in the first place would have probably required a CT or an MRI, and removing it would have required a very involved procedure that would have been very high risk even in an otherwise still healthy cat. There is apparently no way he could have been saved on St. Kitts, and his chances would still have been poor even with state of the art skills and equipment.

When our cat Kenzo fell ill, and we were browsing the web for information and other people's experiences, we mostly found reports by people whose cats survived. It may however also be useful to hear failed accounts, so as to know what to look out for.

Kenzo was a big, gentle, adorable, 5-year old male cat who weighed 7.5 kg (16.5 lbs) before his illness. He was happy, playful and loving, and had a marvelous character. He had been overweight, but not obese; his stature was simply majestic for a cat. Genetically, he came from a prohibited liaison between a Turkish breed female and a Persian breed male.

In early December 2009, we left for a 10-day holiday and left Kenzo and Chanel (his female cat companion) in the care of a roommate. When we came back, we noticed that Kenzo had lost considerable weight. He went from 7.5 kg to 6.5, which the roommate had failed to notice. She merely observed the total food eaten by both cats, which remained normal, but did not notice Kenzo's loss of weight.

Mistake #1: Failure to spot the problem when it starts.

At this time, Kenzo showed no other signs of problems. He was cheerful and playful, and showed passion for chicken breast when we fed it to him. We therefore assumed that he might have simply not liked the food he was being given, or stopped eating due to stress of our absence. We thought this despite the fact that we had left for longer several times before, and the cats never had any problems.

Mistake #2: Failure to call a veterinarian as soon as noticing the problem.

Since Kenzo only lost weight but was still happy and playful, we thought perhaps a parasite might be involved. It was also time for the cats' monthly shot of Revolution, a parasite preventative, so we administered that just in case. A veterinarian later told us that this probably overburdened his liver.

Mistake #3: Failing to consult a veterinarian before administering medicine after noticing a problem.

Since Kenzo seemed relatively fine, and his toenails had grown long during our absence, I clipped them. He resisted, and my persistence added to his stress.

Mistake #4: Adding stress to a cat that already has a problem.

The next day, day 2, Kenzo didn't eat at all. On day 3, I noticed yellow color around his mouth. I raised this with my wife, but she thought it was from the food he was recently given. I was suspicious, since I had never before seen such discoloration after he ate, but did not pursue the matter further.

Mistake #5: Failure to recognize the onset of jaundice.

On day 4, I noticed that the yellow color around his mouth persisted. This time I suspected jaundice, and I checked the inside of his ears. They too were yellow. I conferred with my wife. We immediately called the emergency veterinarian and promptly brought Kenzo to them. He stayed with the veterinarian overnight.

On day 5, we came back to the vet to talk about results and see Kenzo. He was none too happy about the clinic environment and had not eaten much at all. They had done bloodwork and an ultrasound, but not a biopsy. His liver enzymes were all out of whack, his bilirubin was 9 where the normal is up to 0.9, but the rest of the bloodwork was fine, so they suspected that he has hepatic lipidosis. This is a dangerous liver condition in a cat that hasn't been eating. It is caused by the general inability of cats to process their stored fat. The treatment is to force the cat to eat enough for the liver to recover.

In the vast majority of cases, hepatic lipidosis is a consequence of another condition, but the underlying condition wasn't diagnosed. We all assumed Kenzo stopped eating due to stress of our absence, and/or due to the new person taking care of the cats.

This wasn't, in fact, the case. We didn't learn until the autopsy that Kenzo had pancreatitis.

Mistake #6: Failure to diagnose the underlying cause of hepatic lipidosis.

When we returned home, Kenzo showed some interest in food and ate a significant amount, but not enough given what the vet said he was supposed to. Jana took it upon herself to force-feed him over the next two weeks, which she did heroically. We did this in hope of avoiding him having to get a feeding tube, which would involve surgery to place it into his stomach through a hole in his throat.

The force feeding should have worked to help his liver. But what he really had was pancreatitis, and he needed an IV of fluids and electrolytes to keep him hydrated, as well as not that much feeding, to give rest to his pancreas. With oral feeding, he just wasn't getting (and keeping) enough fluids.

Mistake #7: Failure to hydrate the cat.

Mistake #8: Prolonged treatment based on an incorrect/incomplete diagnosis.

Kenzo didn't seem to be doing much better, so we called the vets, but were reassured that the treatment we were giving him was fine. We continued force feeding, even though we were worried because his energy level rose right up when he wasn't eating, and bottomed out when he was fed.

Mistake #9: Failure to reconsider diagnosis when treatment is not working.

Kenzo seemed to be getting worse, and the force feeding was very wearisome, so we finally insisted on bringing him in to get more tests and a feeding tube.

When we brought him in the second time, tests showed that his bilirubin was 19 - twice what it was the first time. He had lost more weight, and was down to 5.9 kg. They performed bloodwork and ultrasound again, but it was right before New Year's, so the people needed for a more detailed checkup were all off-island - celebrating in the US with their families, not having their cat die on them.

Tests showed that his gall bladder was enlarged and his bile flow was obstructed. He underwent surgery to receive a feeding tube. We were told to continue administering food, and now also antibiotics which they hoped would reduce internal swelling and remove the obstruction. What he would have really needed is more thorough tests and/or surgery, but the necessary people weren't on island.

We took him home December 31 and were told to bring him back on January 5.

He seemed to be improving slightly on antibiotics, and the feeding was much simpler with the feeding tube. (If your cat needs force feeding, definitely get a feeding tube.)

However, on the evening of January 3, he just seemed to fall of a cliff. He lost all energy - couldn't even climb out of the litter box after peeing - and looked like he was about to die. We brought him in first thing next morning.

We hoped they could still operate and do something, but it was apparent to the vet immediately that he was dying, that he wouldn't survive anaesthesia, and that euthanasia was the only remaining option. Reluctantly, this is what we did.

Autopsy showed that his bowel had ruptured, which was probably what caused the drastic decline the previous evening. The rupture itself was fatal and irreparable. The main problem, however, appeared to be severe pancreatitis, which had destroyed his liver in turn.

Autopsy also showed scarring of the intestines, which would point to Inflammatory Bowel Disease, but he didn't recently show any such symptoms. We suspect the scarring may have been from when he was younger, and was unrelated to the recent situation.

After the autopsy, the veterinarians reassured us that there was nothing we could have done. That given the state he was in, he would have died no matter what we did, even at the point when we first brought him.

We're not so sure that is the case. If none of the above mistakes had happened - and perhaps if this wasn't a godforsaken island which all the skilled people leave over New Year - then, maybe, Kenzo might have lived.

As it is, we are left with a tuft of his hair... his favorite toy... and the next 10 years without our beloved, special, irreplaceable companion.

In memoriam Kenzo, Sep 2004 - Jan 2010

Our cat, Kenzo, died today after 3 weeks of intensive home care. He was the sweetest, most graceful and majestic cat we've ever known.

Goodbye, Kenzo.