Friday, October 31st, 2014 10:34 pm
...but we all know what happened to him, or, if you don't, try Luke 10:25-37.

I imagine everyone who's interested knows my views on the Samaritans Radar application and if you haven't heard them, you're lucky. Short version, suppose you imagine a committee of well-meaning Pharisees sitting at the top of the temple with a box, saying "Drop a note in here with your address if you want to be informed when travellers set off down to Jericho, so you can offer assistance with their robbery prevention strategies. Since we know all you prefer doing good by stealth, no other details about you will be taken by us, and no travellers will be informed their journeys are being monitored, so as to make the nice surprise when they find out all the greater."

But anyway, when various people pointed out (in great detail and with citations) that SamaritanRadar was pretty dubious legally as well as ethically,it got picked up by the likes of Slashdot, and a whole bunch of US based techno-libertarians came barrelling into the comments of people like Jon Baines to explain that none of us have understood how the internet works, DUMMY!

Whereas, to be honest, it's that the techno-libertarians simply don't have a clue about the legal and cultural background over which they are trampling rough-shod. Data Protection laws in Europe don't seem to have an analogue in the States and for a very good reason. Of the 28 Member States of the European Union, a frightening majority of them have been governed as actual, full-blown police states within living memory (a good many of them within my living memory) and that's leaving out worrying stuff like GCHQ and suchlike over here. Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Ceaucescu, Franco, Salazar...the list goes on.

So when the European Union wrote its data protection directives and regulations, at the back of their mind is the figure of the guy in the trench-coat, sitting at the cafe table in the corner, making notes and remembering. Which is why they focus not upon the inherently confidential nature of the data, but on the processing of that data - that is, what's been done with it. And if you look at the exhaustive and specific list of sensitive personal data which requires extra safeguards before it may be processed at all, you will note that a ready reckoner as to whether something's sensitive personal data or not, is "Have people been sent to prison camps [re-education centres, vanished, whatever] on the basis of someone knowing that type of data about them?"

Here's the list:

(a)the racial or ethnic origin of the data subject,

(b)his political opinions,

(c)his religious beliefs or other beliefs of a similar nature,

(d)whether he is a member of a trade union (within the meaning of the M1Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992),

(e)his physical or mental health or condition,

(f)his sexual life,

(g)the commission or alleged commission by him of any offence, or

(h)any proceedings for any offence committed or alleged to have been committed by him, the disposal of such proceedings or the sentence of any court in such proceedings.

Look at (e). What the Samaritans Radar app does is scan the twitter feeds of people who are being followed by the people who've signed up for it (there are 1.6million twitter feeds being scanned at present) and, if an algorithm is triggered by a key word which suggests the person being monitored might be sub-clinically depressed or, as a psychiatrist would put it, stark raving bonkers, it sends out an email to everyone who's monitoring that person wherever in the world they may be* and suggests that you DM or email (if you have the email or DM access) or if not tweet the person some concern. If the person ignores you, the Samaritans suggest you also contact their friends or family.

If that's not processing personal data by automated means (s.12 DPA) in a manner likely to cause substantial damage or distress (s. 10) colour me orange and call me a carrot.

So, please, anyone wanting to bob up and tell people concerned about this pestilential app that it's doing no more than draw attention to information the person reading it could easily have seen anyway, remember that guy in the corner table at the cafe, in the trench coat.

*Apparently there's been a big influx of Brazilians signing up to the app recently. That sound you heard was the eighth data protection principle being shattered into tiny little pieces.
Saturday, November 1st, 2014 06:46 am
There's a book I'm reading -- Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Ever-Ending Earth by Craig Childs. So far, the take away message to me is that the Earth is always changing, that in the past, things have sometimes changed slowly and sometimes changed in big, abrupt ways, and that things are changing now, probably in big, abrupt ways. The fact that humans are causing the changes that we are in the midst of isn't discussed much more than in a passing "this is so obvious that it's kindof of boring" way. He doesn't talk much about what we may be seeing in the future, he just looks at the environmental changes that are happening now, relates it to changes that other societies have faced, and talks about what happened to those societies. The prose is gorgeous; I get lost in it.

But I want something else. I want a "so, if this happens" book. I want to look at different scenarios, large and small. I want the book that's been playing in my head for the last ten years. And I've been wondering if perhaps I could write that book. But I think, you know, I'm only a fair writer. I'm not a published science writer. I don't have any connections, though Peter Wadhams wrote me back once so maybe I could get some response from other scientists. I'm somewhat clever, so maybe I could write something worthwhile. And, hey, I'm sure I could get crits from here. So I'm thinking that yeah, I'll do this.

My idea is to simply write it from my perspective, a middle-aged, working class woman. A mother and grandmother. A person who's studied a bit, and can read the papers and make sense of the science jargon. But mostly, a person who puts things together, who looks at all of this information, both scientific papers and my own senses, and sees a different reality than what most folks seem to be living in. Back in 2007 I wrote an essay, Torn Roots -- I think that my book will be something like that.

I've had ideas to work on this project or that, and sometimes I fiddle with it and sometimes it just sits there. But I've been thinking of this for a while and I have a great desire to do this. This is my declaration of intent.
Saturday, November 1st, 2014 06:31 am
I'm still kind of amazed that I spilled all that A Moment In Time all over everything (my office still smells like it) and yet I bought another bottle because I liked it so much and was so bummed I'd spilled the leftovers.

Behind the cut, reviews of: Muilearteach(*), A Moment In Time(*), Embalming Fluid, Smokestack, Strangler Fig, Evil, Nyarlathotep, Scherezade, Dragon's Blood, Autumn Cider (*), Stage Blood (*), Samhain (*), Magnificent Autumn (*), Visions of Autumn VII (*)

(*): discontinued or limited edition scents

Behind the cut: 14 reviews )
Saturday, November 1st, 2014 10:17 am
Hello! I have some postcards. Let me know in comments (all screened) if you would like one, and if so what your address is, or if you'd like to let me know your address generally (for example if you have moved recently)!
Saturday, November 1st, 2014 07:59 am
A Shaun Kenny-Dowall try five minutes from full-time seals a 14-12 New Zealand win over Samoa in the Four Nations.
Saturday, November 1st, 2014 08:36 am
Real Madrid eye Tottenham's Hugo Lloris, Napoli keen on Mario Balotelli, and Liverpool set for Steven Gerrard contract talks.
Saturday, November 1st, 2014 02:14 am
My brain feels half made of sludge these days, so it's really hard to concentrate on anything for very long or do anything really complicated. So, frustratingly, even though I want to write I basically can't.

There's this Sam/Bucky story that's been teasing the back of my brain. It's set in a world where Steve and Bucky are just Platonic best friends who would fucking die for each other, but aren't romantic or sexual together. Sam helped Steve track Bucky down and pitched in for the fight against Hydra to make sure Bucky's would-be captors were fucking finished, and Bucky's been living with Steve in New York and rehabilitating; and when Steve got stuck in a bad spot, Sam came without question to help Bucky get him back.

And it was in a moment when Bucky looked over at him the day before a final assault, saw Sam laying out the harnesses he would need to carry all of them out of there, that he pulled a Bucky Barnes classic of My God, how has the entire world not risen to its feet en masse to recognize your courage and generosity of spirit? and fell thunderingly in love.
Saturday, November 1st, 2014 02:00 am
Choose no more than two of the following: quick/convenient, inexpensive, Friendly Neighborhood Establishment. Which is to say, it was time for Vash to get his oil changed, and work vs. my sleep schedule vs. the need to either schedule or walk in hella early at the Friendly Neighborhood Establishment was not a good thing. So we went for the Not Actually Cheap place.

It was raining, which was lovely, although it did not give pause to the intermittent banging of various construction in and around my building.

I arrived in time for lunch. It was a smallish group, and fairly subdued. lb was home with what we hope isn't a broken butt; he had a bad fall while skating yesterday afternoon and one of the #adventuresofstnono crowd took him to the ER. (He's not part of Purple's regular lunch group, as he has a regular lunch group on his own floor.) So regardless of the rain, he wouldn't be out skating today.

Mr. Zune reported a hella awkward thing going on yesterday; I'll have to ask for an update at some point.

A lot of people were out, either working from home, on PTO, sick, or supervising small children partying hard.

I got the package from [personal profile] synecdochic! I have not fully explored it, but OH MY GOD THAT IS A LOT OF IMPS. HELLA DECANT CIRCLE IS HELLA. I can't remember just now whether I ordered the Pumpkin Spice Everything or whether it was an extra, but it plays rather better as BPAL on my skin than it does as variously edible confections. Clearly those spices are something I should look for in other blends. This is night and day vs. that one cinnamon one which smelled like hellfire and yelling on me. Also, All Saints was the perfect choice for a sniffie empty bottle in addition to the ordered imp -- it is exactly the kind of white florals which my skin loves so much. And the combination of adjacent All Saints and Pumpkin Spice Everything is something I'd like to explore further.

When we got to the possibly-social portion of the evening, I pinged IRC to see who was up for social. The only one who seemed to be around was Purple. I wrapped one bit of stuff, and wandered over with things. He'd been called into a nearby office. I left stuff on his desk and headed back to get a few more things done. Once he re-emerged, I came back over. We had popcorn, and rum in soda. Eventually his regular Friday night dinner buddy (a friend from his last workplace) called. He declared that he wasn't trick-or-treating (at which point I launched a well-timed, well-aimed bit of candy). He asked if I'd like to come along. Yes, I would.

It was good to meet his friend. She seems quiet, but really damn awesome, has the right kind of terrible sense of humor, and great at either not noticing or ignoring on purpose a host of irrelevant distractions. (Purple: "... wouldn't notice if a whole bunch of clowns marched into the workplace." Her: "I would notice; I would simply ignore them.") Knowing the likely size of the dessert, I asked for two spoons. Purple was still not up for dessert. I therefore took the other half home for later. (Yum.) (He would have claimed it for later had I not, however.)

Chatting on the side of the street between our cars is a somewhat different vibe than chatting in the cozy work parking lot. No hug, but that was all right. There doesn't always have to be a hug.

I had a candle quietly lit for a while after I got home.

Somewhat after midnight, I opened the traditional new text file for NaNo. Not sure what I'm doing this year, but it is what I do in November.