Jesurgislac’s Journal

June 6, 2010

Privacy Matters

I blog, and comment on blogs, under a pseudonym.

(To answer the question everyone asks: Je surgis lac is a Monty Python joke, meaning “I rise from the Lake” in bastard French: it is also, with a couple of letters changed, an anagram of my real name. I invented it because I wanted a unique handle: I accept that it’s hard to spell and I take no offense if it is mis-spelt. But most people call me Jes, if they want to shorten it.)

Reasons people may prefer pseudonyms or limited personal disclosure on the Internet, to quote CoffeeandInk on this topic:

  • Because it is a standard identity- and privacy-protection precaution
  • Because they have experienced online or offline stalking, harassment, or political or domestic violence
  • Because they wish to discuss sexual abuse, sexuality, domestic abuse, assault, politics, health, or mental illness, and do not wish some subset of family, friends, strangers, aquaintances, employers, or potential employers to know about it
  • Because they wish to keep their private lives, activities, and tastes separate from their professional lives, employers, or potential employers
  • Because they fear threats to their employment or the custody of their children
  • Because it’s the custom among their Internet cohort
  • Because it’s no one else’s business

Whether you are my friend, my enemy, a chance acquaintance or a casual commenter, I support your right to be as private or as public as you choose on the Internet.

The last time this came up was February: Google had decided they wanted to set up a social network like Facebook, and in order to get one fast, they opted all Gmail users into Google Buzz. The reaction to this from many users was prompt and angry: opt out of Buzz and warn others about it. As Jona at Mozilla labs said: Social networks should always be opt in, never opt out.

My point is that I’m one of the lucky ones; privacy concerns are far from trivial for many, many people. When someone with privilege and power says things like “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place…” (Eric Schmidt) or “You have zero privacy anyway; get over it.” (Scott McNealy), they show an astounding lack of empathy. They’re obviously not considering things from the point of view of the woman who is the target of violence, or the citizen of an oppressive regime, or the whistleblower, or… anyone other than themselves, basically.

(Also see Fugitivus, now shut down, quite possibly by Google Buzz.)

Now Yahoo have decided to try the same thing – and once again, they’ve made it opt-out rather than opt-in. As of next week, if you have a yahoo mail account, and you haven’t opted out of Updates, information you post may be pushed onto the screens of everyone who has your yahoo mail account listed in their contacts. You yourself will have no control whatsoever over who gets to see your updates.

Your only choice is to opt out completely. Here’s how. Electronic Frontier Foundation:

To opt-out of the new program, go to and uncheck the box next to Share My Updates. In addition, to opt out of sharing authorized by your friends, you need to go to, and uncheck “Allow my connections to share my information labeled ‘My Connections’ with third-party applications.” While on this page, you should review your settings, and adjust the privacy levels as appropriate.

That fixes the immediate problem. But more than that: we need to make understood that anyone starting a new social networking system must make it opt-in, not opt-out. Corporations that have possession of our e-mail addresses and can jumpstart a social network system by involuntarily joining us up to it, must learn that this is counterproductive as well as wrong.

Opt out of Yahoo’s attempt to use our info. Then, please, post the link to EFF’s page somewhere public: say you opted out, say why, and ask other people to do the same thing and pass the word along. Let us make clear to these corporations that we will frustrate their attempts to make use of us in this way.

April 4, 2009

I love you.

Filed under: Dragons,Good Stuff Happens,Internet — jesurgislac @ 7:16 pm
Tags: ,

In the name of love.

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

(nobody like you…)

Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love…

It came upon the noontide clear,
That glorious song of Pride,
And marchers bending near the Clyde
Their rainbow banners steer.
“Peace on the earth, good will to all”,
From queens and dykes drag-king
The streets and traffic do not stay
To hear the marchers sing.

Still through the traffic’d streets they come,
With rainbow banners unfurl’d
And still their whistles blow the noise
O’er all the straightly world.
Above its grim and stony roads
They march with song and Pride
And ever o’er its Babel sounds,
The Prideful marchers sing.

Yet with the woes of gay-hating
The world has suffered long;
Before the march of Pride has rolled,
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not,
The love song which we bring:
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the marchers sing.

And ye, beneath hate’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow
Look now! for gay and rainbow hours
Come swiftly on the wing
O rest beside the weary road
And hear the marchers sing.

For lo! the days are hastening on,
by dykes and queens descried
When, with the ever-circling years,
Shall come the Age of Pride;
When Pride shall over all the earth,
Its rainbow splendors fling,
And all the world give back the song,
Which now the marchers sing.

March 16, 2009

Collective noun cats

Filed under: Dragons,Polls — jesurgislac @ 3:59 pm
Tags: , , , ,

What collective noun should be in use for cats?
( surveys)

(Collective nouns from Rinkworks: the only one I’ve never seen in use is dout, which I find is more commonly used for wildcats – I didn’t include “a destruction of cats” as that is properly only used for wildcats. Oddly enough.)

March 13, 2009

Kathryn Cramer reminds me of fail

Filed under: Internet — jesurgislac @ 12:15 am
Tags: , , , ,

I got a “cease and desist” e-mail from Kathryn Cramer (whose public writings have been referenced on this blog in Stupid Things People Say On The Internet 4960, Kathryn Cramer: fail, fail, and fail, and Verb Noire: this matters) – subject line Ordover, which I presume is something meaningful to her, though damned if I can figure out what. [Update: someone tagged in a previous post because he was mentioned by name.] Nor can I reply, really, since she repeats her request that I “never contact her again”.

I have e-mailed her exactly twice. The second time, in response to an e-mail instructing me to never contact her again (March 4th), I wrote:

Dear Kathryn,

I will certainly never contact you again.

Your request that the name “Kathryn Cramer” should not be used when blogging about you will be given all the consideration it deserves.


Je Surgis Lac

She also claims that I have been “harassing her friends” (at the moment, I have no idea who they might be) and “those who speak positively about her”.

Kathryn, for what it’s worth: while I doubt I would bother to harass someone for speaking positively about you, it’s also true that ever since you outed Coffeeandink, demanded an apology from her for telling people you’d outed her, talked a lot of racist crap about the ‘lizardoid minions’, threatened to sue her for talking about your threats and harassment, and above all since [Update: correction. From a comment Ann Somerville linked to below, it appears Kathryn Cramer is not the person John Scalzi excoriated and banned from his blog for trying again to out Coffeeandink: I withdraw the accusation, and delete it.] you tried to use John Scalzi’s blog to out Coffeeandink again– I truly haven’t seen a single person anywhere who is speaking positively about you. I’m sorry. Even I think that makes you a pathetic toad of a person, in Scalzi’s memorable phrase. [Second update, 14th March: Okay, I take that back. Will Shetterly, who also outed Coffeeandink, but then seemed to regret what he’d done and want to atone for it, has changed his mind and decided that Coffeeandink deserved to be outed against her will and Kathryn Cramer was “falsely accused”. In Will Shetterly‘s world, apparently, being “falsely accused” means (a) you did exactly what you were accused of doing but (b) the person whom you did it to was a lying slut who deserved it and (c) she therefore owes you an apology for telling other people about what you were doing to her, she ought to have shut up and acted properly shamed. This, Will Shetterly identifies as being “unsexist” and “chivalrous”. So I take it back: there is one other person speaking positively about you, Kathryn Cramer, and that’s the person who joined you in outing Coffeeandink.]

Nevertheless, Kathryn: I have not been in touch with you since March 4th. That I persist in using your real name when I blog about the things you do, is your own choice. Indeed, you have been very emphatic in the the recent past that the only name you want to use on the Internet is Kathryn Cramer. So you are and remain: Kathryn Cramer, Kathryn Cramer, Kathryn Cramer, Kathryn Cramer, Kathryn Cramer, Kathryn Cramer, Kathryn Cramer, Kathryn Cramer, Kathryn Cramer. Your problem. Not mine.

February 8, 2009

Stupid Things People Say On The Internet 4960

Kathryn Cramer, if that is the name her parents wrote on her birth certificate, claims Aliases Are for People on Wanted Posters. (Via; via)

Or serving soldiers.

Or philosophers and pundits.

Or bastard logic.

Or bitches with PhDs.

Or perfect perverts with NSFW blogs.

Or wrecked wretched hilarious cakes.

Or cupcake spies finding the best bakeries in America!

Or feministes feministing.

Or, at Shakesville, Arkades, Elle, The Heretik, Misty, Mustang Bobby, Paul the Spud, Petulant, The Portly Dyke, Quixote, Shark-fu, SKM, Space Cowboy, Todd, and any of the other citizens I’ve missed.

Or a Pioneer Woman.

Or any of these philosophers, pirates, and pundits.

If I’ve never said before: I’m pleased and proud to have all of you on my blog-roll. Ms Cramer thinks we are con-men and crooks, because we don’t choose to use our real names.

What an ass.

January 29, 2009


from this week’s Savage Love

And now… without further delay… the winning definition of “saddleback“… by a gaping margin… definition number 5: “Saddlebacking: the phenomenon of Christian teens engaging in unprotected anal sex in order to preserve their virginities.” After attending the Purity Ball, Heather and Bill saddlebacked all night because she’s saving herself for marriage.

Here’s why this definition is perfect: Saddlebacking, like barebacking, involves one person riding up on another’s backside. But in this case, it’s not the bare-naked cock-in-ass that’s the most important feature of the ride, but the fact that the person being ridden has been saddled—thanks to the efforts of the Rick Warrens of this world—with religious hang-ups and serious misconceptions about sex. Like the barebacker who casually tosses away his health—or his partner’s health—because he believes, quite erroneously, that “risky = sexy,” the saddlebacker offers up her ass because she believes, quite erroneously, that she can get fucked in the ass—vigorously, religiously—and still be considered a virgin on her wedding night.

I’ve set up a website——to popularize the new definition. (Get to work, Google bombers!) Now let’s get this term into common usage as quickly as possible.

Let’s go!

December 19, 2008

Message to heterosexual supporters of Barack Obama

Telling us you don’t think it’s a big deal that a homophobic bigot has been invited to give the invocation at Barack Obama’s inaugeration?

Because Barack Obama has got to reach out to those homophobic, sexist, racist evangelical Christians. And it’s not a big deal when in doing so he insults LGBT people.

What else are we good for, if not to be the group that people of all religions can insult? It’s not as if Obama needs to treat LGBT people with any respect: the sane ones know he’s better than any Republican alternative, the insane ones suck John Hagee’s dick in airport restrooms and thank him for the privilege.

Members of the Lesbian and Gay Band Association are going to have to stand there politely and listen to Rick Warren, who thinks their having the freedom to marry is like incest or paedophila. I bet they weren’t warned in advance that they would be required to do that.

I hope Nancy Sutley can arrange to be absent. It would be ugly for Obama to force her to attend as Rick Warren prays.

Now why didn’t Obama invite John Hagee? Hagee could have insulted Barack Obama, too, and then we’d all be even.

November 19, 2008

The universe doesn’t care what you believe

XKCD on science and religion

XKCD on science and religion

I find this strangely reassuring.

November 16, 2008

Banned again…

You know, it’s one of those peculiarities of right-wing blogs; they complain a lot (a lot!) about how “liberals can’t tolerate dissent”… yet the one thing, routinely, they cannot tolerate is people showing up in their comment threads who don’t agree with them and can say why. I got banned from Family Scholars Blog back when they were still accepting comments; Maggie Gallagher shut down comments on her blog at least partly because I just kept showing up and pointing out she was talking nonsense: recently, I noticed, multiple threads just happened to get closed to comments because, er… I showed up! and

I’ve been banned again. I think that means I won the argument, since the loser I was debating can’t cope with it…


November 2, 2008

Yes to freedom of belief: no to Proposition 8

I’ve just had an interesting conversation about freedom of belief with Mark at A Deo Lumen. Mark is responding here to Thomas Sowell’s Conflict of Visions. He asked me: Don’t we all want our own preferences and convictions enshrined as the law for all to obey?

Well, yes and no. I have a whole bunch of personal preferences and convictions, which I do not especially want “all to obey” however much I think they’re good. I’m vegetarian, lesbian, atheist, etc – I do not want the government to make other people copy me!

But I do have some wider preferences and convictions that I do believe are something that should be enshrined as law: I believe in religious freedom, liberty of the mind – the right of everyone to believe – or not believe – what they choose. (I’ve just been discussing on another blog (to John at Have I Told You Lately?) why I think everyone in California who supports religious freedom ought to oppose Proposition 8, regardless of their personal views on same-sex marriage, because this is an attempt to get religious discrimination into the state constitution.)

I wrote to Mark “I don’t want ‘everybody to be an atheist’ – I want my right to be an atheist respected as much as your right to be a Christian. And I would fight for your right to practice your faith without infringing on other’s liberties, regardless of whether you felt the need to fight for mine. Because that is a conviction of mine that yes, I do think should be enshrined in law – because if it is, in countries where it is, such law maximises freedom of belief.”

I don’t believe that you can simply say “Well, I believe in freedom of belief, but my opponent believes that one religion should be imposed on all people, so we must be tolerant of each other’s beliefs”. “My opponent” in such a case is arguing for “tolerance” of their belief only because it suits their end – and their end is absolute intolerance of all beliefs but their own.

And that, I think, is the classic problem of the Sowell doctrine (which I may be misunderstanding completely, of course: I haven’t read his book): in a free society, in order to safeguard that freedom, there are some things that must not be tolerated: and any attempt to enforce religion on others by law is one of those things.

A religious blogger recently and with admirable sincerity responded to the query: “Why oppose same-sex marriage?” – “Because God says so!” I think too many people whose first instinctive response was “God says so!” have been unwilling to take the obvious next step – “Because I believe God opposes same-sex marriage is exactly why my opposition to same-sex marriage ought not to become law.”

(A couple of rather good anti-Prop8 videos follow under the cut.)

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