Today's attack

So my commetns on A Pinch of Salt were deleted (by me), for the simple reason that as soon as I realized the authors had no intention of engaging in an honest discussion, I did not want them to remain.

The author has chosen, however, to continue to beat up on me. Today, we have People living in stone houses throwing glasses. See? I'm in a "stone house" and I'm "throwing glasses". Isn't that clever?

I'm supposedly the same as some other person, because I have the same ideas. "The deletion looked very suspicious to me, especially since I remember having read this story before on weblogs which we can deem near to us. I could not find them back, though. Maybe the interventions were not by mr. Bushnell, or under another name." Nope, I think this is just a matter of different people having similar opinions.

And I must be a bad person, because "he comment was given rather late - it could have gone unnoticed in fact." I first heard about A Pinch of Salt from Alexandre Christoyannopoulos' new book, and thought I'd check it out. I read old posts, and comment on one. Nothing nefarious.

When I said that it is not true that all porn is "embedded with the oppression of women", this was simply because--contrary to the blog's assumption--there is porn which has nothing to do with women. What is suspicious is indeed, any view which AdR doesn't accept. "I do not believe in any liberating form of pornography of any kind." And nothing, absolutely nothing, will get through that. How can we hear from the experiences of other people if we do not listen?

I said that AdR was "unable to hear the voices of gay people in love", which AdR misunderstood. It is AdR who cannot hear with love. (That is, "in love" was intendend as a modifier of "hear", not of "people".) I stand by the statement. AdR's suspicion and labelling of me.

"I did feel forcibly outed, as I thought it necessary to jump to the defense of comrade Mott...Probably the wish to defend a woman against attack will be labeled as heterosexism again. If so, sir, I am a proud heterosexist. You will quote me on that again possibly. " Yes, indeed I will. Since I wasn't attacking "comrade Mott" at all; I have nothing to challenger her words. She spoke of heterosexual porn, and I had nothing--and have nothing--to say on that topic. I wanted to say only that the world is bigger than people may think who are fixated on heterosuxual pornography to the exclusion of all else.

But AdR's habit of attacking me because of the group I'm in knows no bounds. I'm a "white man living on stolen land." AdR's narrative has captured him with some powerful assumptions about the world, assumptions which the big complex world are challenging at every stroke. There is a wonderful send-up of this sort of attitude in C.S. Peirce's "The Fixation of Belief".

What is striking is that this isn't the least bit anarchist. It's good old Marxist: a narrative is constructed, with oppressors and oppressed, and the earnest need to determine with suspicion what is supposed underlying what others say:it cannot be simply that they mean what they say, and they have a point of view we should hear. They must be saying what the say as an attempt to oppress and harm us. In this case, coupled with the usual Marxist nonsense which sees all non-normative sexuality as deviant.

A Pinch of Salt

Over at the blog A Pinch of Salt I have been labelled a predator for the crime of suggesting that the experience of pornography among gay men is different from heterosexual porn. This from an anonymous editor, "AdR" at the blog. (My suggestion was about one sentence long, and simply said that the social context of gay male pornography is quite different, and that for many gay men, porn has more to do with liberation than oppression.)

The post Sequel and finish describes either a sexual assault, or a badly made drunken pass coupled with the author's homosexual panic. Indeed, many straight men report receiving an unwanted pass from another man as if it were an assault, and react as if it were an assault. We do not know, from our author's description, what exactly occurred, except that it was clearly at a drinking establishment of some kind, and that the author's friends--many of them--were all present. I have no doubt that for the straight people who feel assaulted by a pass from a gay man, the experience is traumatic. If it were not traumatic, it would not motivate as many gay-bashings as it does. (Recall that those who killed Matthew Shepherd used the same excuse.) So, traumatic it obviously was, but whether the trauma was caused by the other, or by our author's own homophobia, his post does not make clear. It does, however, make clear the depth of his homophobic response system.

The unwanted advance comes from someone who doesn't talk; he "lisped". Mention of the writer's girlfriend was supposed to "scare him off". (Why? Are gay people scared of heterosexuality the way some straight people are scared of homosexuality? Our writer had to run away from a crowded bar. Our writer "thought it necessary" to explain how he got a sprained ankle to the doctor. (Why? "I was running and I sprained my ankle" seems fully sufficient for the doctor.) The doctor asks an inappropriate question back: "are you sure you're not gay?" Our writer apparently responds that he has a girlfriend.

This is the usual homophobic response, by the way: not just "I'm straight", but "I'm straight and I can prove it to you." Trust me, gay people don't need to have a partner to count as gay, why do straight people think that having a steady date of the opposite sex somehow is more "confirming"?) If our author were not dripping with homophobia, would not the answer be, "does it matter?" Does our author think that what happened to him is worse because he's straight? And then there is the commonplace of the lady who doth protest too much. The only character in Avenue Q who keeps bringing up his off-stage girlfriend, is of course Rod.

The doctor is fine with this response, but our writer is confused by that: "And why the g.p. was completely at ease with my answer that I was going steady with a girl - I don't know." Why shouldn't the doctor be at ease with such an answer? Since the author's sexual preference is entirely irrelevant to the treatment of a sprained ankle (and the doctor was truly a fool for asking the inappropriate question in the first place), it is not surprising that the doctor should drop it. So why is our author confused by the doctor's ease with that reply? Easy: because the doctor is supposed to be much more upset when he finds out that his patient is truly straight. But alas for our author, the doctor returns to treating the actual medical condition before him, and doesn't take the bait that somehow what happened to the author must be worse because he is straight.

Then we have this one, Was Tolstoy right with his Kreutzer sonata?. Here we are told that gay men "are not naturally saints." Are these our only two options? We are either saints or predators? Because in the writer's country (the Netherlands), "the official gay movement is advocating the xenophobic proto-nazis who are making NL infamous," I guess this American queer is automatically suspect. No, worse than that. I'm a "predator". Recall that the author knew one and only one thing about me: that I reported that the gay male experience of pornography has had a liberative aspect for many, and that I used the pronoun "we" so that he knew I was in the category "gay male".

On this basis--and this basis alone--our author describes me as a "predator". The homophobia drips off the screen.

We hear that it is "simply incredible" that the actors in gay porn are acting completely voluntarily. Well, I can't speak about all--unlike the author of the blog, I don't have the hubris to declare what is always the case about such a thing. I do know that I have personally met models (that's the term, actaully, in a nice nod to the reality that the job isn't really about acting) who struck me--at least, the ones I met, at a party at my house, for example, or a nice potluck dinner at a friend's--as singularly healthy individuals, both mentally and physically. One was a computer engineer from Illinois for whom this other job was a part-time gig. He said that, for him, it was an experience he greatly enjoyed. I make no claims about what is typical, or usual, or anything of the kind. I speak only of that experience.

If the narrative of the author at A Pinch of Salt were correct, then what do we make of Tom of Finland? Paul Morris? Or the recently in-the-news Hawaii Speedo Student? How should we understand the not infrequent occurrence where models end up as producers and directors?

What is most striking is that gay men are all suspect, because "They are human males, socialised with the idea of domination." Whatever we do, must therefore be all about domination.

This is anarchism? Not by any definition I've ever read. Please, give us some Emma Goldman!

CS Problem

Just corrected the Wikipedia article on radix sort, which contained the (incorrect) statement that radix sort's linear performance is illusory, because there is also a factor for the number of digits. (It's incorrect, because comparison sorts also have the same factor, so radix sort is still better by a factor of log n.)

And that got me to remembering "funny sort" which was offered in the UNM CS curriculum's algorithms class back in the day (where "day" is about 1986).

It's a recursive algorithm, that, according to the lore, was created accidentally by a student who wanted to figure out a way to domerge sort and not require extra space. It works like this, on an array X of n elements:

1. Let p be about n/2.
2. Funny sort X[0..p-1].
3. Funny sort X[p..n]. So far, just like merge sort.
4. If X[0] > X[p], then swap them.
5. Funny sort X[1..n].

Step 4 is justified because either X[0] or X[p] must be the least element of the whole X, thanks to steps 2 and 3. So we clearly have a correct algorithm.

So the problem is: what's the time complexity of this algorithm in terms of comparisons? How many times is step 4 executed? It's pretty bad, but I can't recall the derivation. The recurrence is pretty weird.

[I found a reference!
I'm delighted that it's still there twenty years later. And, to boot, it is apparently "silly sort". Either the name changed, or my memory is incorrect. Any how, there is an argument there that the time complexity is "roughly O(n^(log n))".]

security/privacy conundrum

Let's suppose I have a significant number of correspondents. Some of them wish to share a bit of information with me, and some do not. I want a secure way for those who wish to share with me to do so, in such a way that I know who has shared with me, but I cannot match up the data shared with the particular sharer.

Clearly this can be done with the assistance of a trust third-party escrow. Is there a way without that?

Is there a way to run a voting protocol such that I can know all the votes, and a voter can prove to me they voted, but it is impossible for me to match the votes with the voters?

Or: is there a way for someone to give me a datum in exchange for a receipt, such that the receipt cannot be forged but also cannot be matched up with the particular datum I was given?

Or is there a way for someone to give me a datum anonymously, and then later be able to prove to me that they did so, without me being able to match them up with the particular datum they provided?

a prerequisite for biblical scholarship

modern biblical scholarship is a weird thing.

some of the people who do it aren't religious believers. this is a new thing, and in many ways, it's a particularly good thing. it keeps the religious believers honest when they talk about the texts. :)

on the other hand, all of them--whether believers or not--share a sort of respect for the text, an interest in entering into the world-view, even the psyche, of the writers, a desire to see the world as they do, and a general sympathy with them. and, indeed, not just a sympathy for authors, but a sympathy for communities, for religion, for the kinds of folks who write these kinds of texts.

and that, i think, turns out to be necessary. it's not religious faith that's necessary; rather, it's a kind of basic sympathy with the project. it's reasonable to have a distanced suspicion of the text, but only to a point. at some point, suspicion of the text impedes the ability to read it, and the result is bizzare and unfruitful interpretation.

this is especially so when the suspicion of the text arises from some external concern. if a suspicion of religion, or a rigid marxist analysis of class, or an ossified world-view prevents seeing things in a new way, then texts as challenging as the bible are going to be impossible to enter.

this isn't unique to the bible or other religious texts. i think it is shared by the classics of philosophy, or epic poetry, and certain sorts of novels too. it's why i can understand and resonate with theravada buddhist literature, even as i am not a believer in that context, and by contrast, why some people dominated by a master narrative understanding hostile to religion may be unable to understand any of them.

NLDS ends

The Phillies won again tonight, ending their NLDS against Colorado, with Philadelphia up 3-1.

The NLCS begins Thursday as Los Angeles hosts Philadelphia; the ALCS on Friday with New York hosting Los Angeles.

Game Three

The Dodgers won Saturday, and the Angels and Yankees won Sunday. That ends those three series 3-0. Philadelphia beat Colorado, so they are up 2-1 in their NLDS.

The American League Championship Series begins Friday, with New York hosting Los Angeles.

Series advance

The ALDS between Boston and Los Angeles opened with LA beating Boston; series stands 1-0 Los Angeles.

In the NLDS, Colorado won, tying with Philadelphia 1-1, and Los Angeles defeated St. Louis again, putting them at 2-0 and within striking distance.