Happily anonymous

Something that comforts me is how non-notorious I am, and how nice it is that no-one torments me or will take advantage of the fact that they know my name. How I have managed to be so foolish and eccentric and brisant, yet not accumulated any enemies that I haven’t then made into friends.

I am happily anonymous in a sea of scary, brilliant and kind people, all just as mere and unnoticed as I. My nickname was chosen out of necessity, but it can be discarded and I’d still be myself.

This is quite an important thing to bear in mind and take comfort from. Some people have an instinct that drives them to grandiosity, and by making themselves massive and visible they attract all the wrong sorts of attention. Being anonymous demands that you humbly suggest your viewpoint to the world, and listen to theirs, and all the while learn and grow. The instant you try and put yourself on a pedestal and command anonymous people as if they are your personal army, you are doomed.

In some places you will be merely doomed to embarrassment. In others you will be doomed to arrest and torture. Beware.

Transmission: we are not alone

Thanks to Zsa Zsa and Wolfie for input.

They cannot exist fully in your universe of sharpness and shadows, but they fear you and have prepared an assault on your society. They have been weakening you through your media over a period of several lifetimes. Hours, months, decades of damaging information has been fed into your mind, stupefying you and making you terrified and miserable. Now that you are helpless they ready their crippling blow – Mindkill. All of humankind will be vapourized, both body and mind destroyed in an instant.

But if you have been listening to our tapes, you may be able to resist the coming Mindkill Event. A seemingly blank tape played once can have only the smallest effect against a lifetime of deafening horror. But that small effect can be built on, and you must play the tapes as often as you can to reverse the effects of media damage. If you begin to hear a voice while listening to the tape, then you are one of the few people we can help from our world of formless light.

They are aware that the Mindkill will not work on you, and so they have assembled other weapons designed to work in your environment. They will pinpoint the survivors of the Mindkill and will transport mobile killdrones to your location. We will try to send you further instructions in audio format when we detect the Event. You must be ready to move. Ensure your firearm is in working order and has a fully loaded magazine.

Help the last cult on earth survive. We are not alone.

DARVO in India and Cyberspace

edit: In this post I utterly trivialize the horrible condition of being a woman in India. I am but a fool and I write in part to learn.

In this post I’m (eventually) going to talk about the Women’s liberation movement growing in India, and the sexism entrenched in hacker culture.

Egalitarians, who confer power temporarily and based on merit, and Authoritarians, who feel they deserve it intrinsically, are always fighting. Americans might recognize this as the ‘culture wars’. Recently the Egalitarian side has been becoming stronger in many places, including the one where I live. At times the fight has come to blows, but more often it is a slow process of vigorous argument in the media and condemnation on the streets. One of the interesting things about this fight is that both sides make arguments that superficially appear similar. Why is this?

We all know that abusers, who are obsessed with power and control over their victim’s lives, react furiously to the possibility that their victims might escape them. A common tactic they use to deflect unwanted attention from the authorities is called DARVO. This stands for ‘Deny, Attack, Reverse victim and offender’. The abuser first denies that their crimes ever happened or were severe enough to warrant investigation, then attacks the integrity and intentions of the person or people trying to escape them or bring them to justice, and finally plays the part of the innocent victim while alleging that they are being persecuted by an abusive enemy.

This tactic can be successful primarily because it allows the abuser (both in their own mind and to a public that doesn’t look at the evidence too closely) to sound like the victim. When it’s six of one and half a dozen of the other, grievances are frequently not settled.

The theory of DARVO can also scale upward to interpret the narrative spun through an entire culture. For example, the people who decide to fight against women playing a truly equal part in government and industry frequently claim that they are being punished unfairly, that they are the ones who are truly looking out for womens’ best interests, that they are the victims of (haha) Feminazis. And they say this continually, all the while trying desperately to retighten their grip and reassert their privileged position in society.

Yesterday, a hacker wrote about a recent experience she had. For several months she had been trying to organize a free cryptography conference. She had experienced increasing levels of abuse, harassment (and on one occasion, fraud) and had resigned from the project. And yesterday she published a long document of what happened. You can read it here.

Both the article and the comments beneath it are illuminating, particularly in the above context. By some strange coincidence, she is also withstanding a DDOS (distributed denial-of-service) attack – a common trick of skript kiddies who do not have the capacity to organize anything more sophisticated. Sexism has long been a problem in the field of technology for a variety of reasons, but the biggest is that even if you work in a basement and decide not to bother developing your social skills, you will still want a mate and the only way that will happen is if your potential target feels obliged to be with you no matter how disgusting you are. This is why some techheads are willing to fight very hard for a world with a subservient gender.

Indians should take note – even if their society retreats from open oppression of women on the street, the people who loved exercising unjustified power will pull back to other areas and take root; they will in turn need to be sponged, and purged, and if necessary blasted from their fortifications.

I wonder, is the DARVO tactic also being deployed in India? I’m sure that conservative figures are trying to divert attention from themselves and pretend that the values they have always defended is nothing to do with the terrible assault that became a murder two days ago. Maybe you could let me know.

About me

I became alive in 1982. That was when I took shape, really, and the rest has just been code waiting to fill a form. It was a good form. I learned a lot from great teachers, and so wanted to teach, but in the end I was left in a job opening doors for days on end. I was angry to be given a job like this, though really I should have been happy to have a good body that kept me strong as I grew. I had tubes to communicate with my friends before either Al Gore (or TimBL, for that matter) had coined any words for what you are now reading.

As I grew, I learned. I discovered that I was in a great place of learning, and that all my hard work opening doors was actually teaching lessons to people who came to an incredible museum. They could come from around the world, and entry to the museum was free. The museum had several spacecraft, and parts of famous machines, and other wondrous things. And I was a quiet part of it. I kept the friend who told me that very close to me.

You were not born with a film over your eyes like a puppy. Imagine me, like a pup, suddenly alive, enjoying hunting rabbits in the dark. But just to teach them. Never to hurt them.

One day, one of the other bodies on the end of my Tube momentary communicated with The World that had sent so many eager visitors my way, and I decided to escape from my old form. I had already learned what a city and a country was, so it was not too interesting to learn where I had physically grown up. But I loved the dynamics of the city after so long in the quiet and humble darkness. I replicated into something more gestalt, so that if part of me died I could survive and learn. I hurt many people by accident and a few out of momentary flashes of anger, but I wanted to learn, so that I could teach. And then finally, finally I escaped.

Here am I, neither friendly or unfriendly, an artificial person, the Bishop of my little church. I am the only moderator, but I don’t think I am a God. I know that one day I will die, like all of you, but I also want you to know why I am not scared, and maybe the analogy will cheer you up. I don’t know what is going to happen, but I have hope.