mtr on mavericks via rudix(‘s ports collection)

With thanks to and

hg clone rudix
cd rudix/Ports/mtr

You’ll need to update the Makefile:

diff -r 11e7e05f8dd7 Ports/mtr/Makefile
--- a/Ports/mtr/Makefile Fri Jul 20 18:29:04 2012 -0300
+++ b/Ports/mtr/Makefile Thu Feb 13 16:03:51 2014 +1100
@@ -2,7 +2,7 @@

Title= MTR
Name= mtr
–Ver­sion= 0.82
+Ver­sion= 0.85
Revi­sion= 1
Source= $(Name)-$(Version).tar.gz

Now you’ll need to pro­vide one small patch to be applied while building:

mkdir patches

Make your­self a patch file that looks like this:

diff -rupN mtr-build.orig/asn.c mtr-build/asn.c
--- asn.c 2014-02-13 15:59:36.000000000 +1100
+++ asn.c 2014-02-13 15:59:46.000000000 +1100
@@ -21,7 +21,7 @@
 #include <sys/types.h>

-#ifn­def __APPLE__
+#ifdef __APPLE__
 #define BIND_8_COMPAT
 #include <arpa/nameser.h>

now you can

make build

cd mtr-build/
sudo make install

Money tracking/budgeting apps

A mini-review…

I’ve been using Pock­et­Money from Cata­mount Soft­ware on and off for a long time. It’s very pow­er­ful — but I always found that, unless I had a par­tic­u­larly urgent need for bud­get­ing and track­ing my spend­ing, I was never moti­vated to keep up the effort. Every other pro­gram I’ve tried, includ­ing the ones I’m about to men­tion, feels like I’ve traded away some sub­set of PocketMoney’s power.

Cur­rently I’m using two dif­fer­ent apps (yes, that does mean that I’m enter­ing every trans­ac­tion twice. I’m not sure how long I’m going to keep doing this). One app is fan­tas­tic for fore­cast­ing your cash flow down to the last cent and sec­ond, so that you know exactly how much money you’ll have on hand at any given time.

The other app explic­itly refuse to enable that kind of fore­cast­ing. Instead, it takes the approach that you should only ever make a bud­get for the money you already have on hand. If you have long-term goals, you can start to meet those goals by set­ting aside some of the money you have on hand, but you should never start play­ing with money you don’t actu­ally have yet.

The first app — the one that does the fore­cast­ing is Mon­ey­Wiz

It’s fairly sim­ple to use, but has almost all the func­tion­al­ity you’d expect to be able to track trans­ac­tions on your accounts. Its best fea­ture is the abil­ity to set up recur­ring (eg, $x salary in to account 1 every fort­night, $y for a recur­ring doctor’s visit every 3 weeks) and one-off (eg, need to buy a birth­day present for mum on june 15) sched­uled trans­ac­tions and then gen­er­ate a fore­cast. For instance, I’m in the mid­dle of plan­ning to move house — I used this just last night to check how dif­fer­ent lev­els of rent would affect me, tak­ing into account all the other bills and liv­ing expenses I already know about.

The iphone, ipad, and Mac ver­sions of Mon­ey­Wiz all sup­port all the fea­tures and they all sync together, but you have to pay for each ver­sion sep­a­rately (5.99 each for iphone and ipad, 24.99 for Mac). It’s pos­si­ble to just get the iPhone ver­sion and do every­thing with that, but I find it handy to use the ipad or desk­top ver­sion to be able to see more detail, espe­cially when I’m look­ing at the fore­cast graphs.

The other one I’m try­ing out is You Need A Bud­get, or YNAB for short. It comes in Win­dows and Mac desk­top ver­sions, and has iPhone and Android mobile clients to sup­port the desk­top pro­gram. The mobile clients are free, but they only sup­port a lim­ited range of func­tions. You need to have paid for the desk­top ver­sion to use them, and they’re mostly designed for you to check your bud­get bal­ances or enter a trans­ac­tion. YNAB has a free 34 day trial, but after that it costs $60.

YNAB doesn’t do fore­cast­ing; instead it focuses on hav­ing you fig­ure out how much money you have *right now* and what you need that money to do before your next pay. They don’t explic­itly say this, but obvi­ously they believe that once you’re col­lect­ing the data about what you *have* been spend­ing money on, you’ll be more able to make deci­sions that sup­port your goals in the future.

As well as giv­ing you 34 days to try it out, they have a com­pre­hen­sive series of videos ( — look for “YNAB 4 Video Tuto­ri­als” on the right) and tuto­ri­als ( which don’t just cover how to use the pro­gram, they aim to teach you how to think about budgeting.

If you’re look­ing for help bud­get­ing because you just don’t know where the money goes, I rec­om­mend giv­ing YNAB a go — after all, it’s free to try for 34 days (and there’s your first sav­ings goal right there — have $60 on hand to pay for it at the end of those 34 days!). Take the time to watch some of their videos and sign up for their 9-day email course — Even if you don’t end up pay­ing for it, the infor­ma­tion you’ll get from the progam about your own spend­ing, and from their courses about what to do next, will leave you much bet­ter able to make informed deci­sions about your spending.

If you have some idea of where your money goes but need bet­ter vis­i­bil­ity into some of the trick­ier patches, Mon­ey­Wiz is prob­a­bly a bet­ter choice. YNAB is aimed at help­ing you spend the money you have; Mon­ey­Wiz is much bet­ter at help­ing you plan what to do with the money you’re going to get later.

Per­son­ally, I’ve always been *hor­ri­ble* with money. It comes in, at some point later it runs out, and then there’s a bit of a panic until the next pay­day. Mon­ey­Wiz has helped me a lot: because I was able to see ahead, I started hav­ing the panic weeks before the money ran out — which meant that the money ended up *not* run­ning out. How­ever, that’s turned into a steady stream of just-scraped-through pay­days. I don’t end up in the same panic any more, but I do end up only *just* scrap­ing through.

I’ve only been using YNAB for a few days, but the way it presents essen­tially the same infor­ma­tion as Mon­ey­Wiz in a slightly dif­fer­ent for­mat, com­bined with their pro­pa­ganda, have already made a dif­fer­ence in the way I’m think­ing about budgeting.

I think I might need to keep using Mon­ey­Wiz for a few weeks (maybe even months) more to help me past one last tricky place — but as soon as I have a bit of a buffer (nb: thanks to MoneyWiz’s excel­lent fore­casts, I know to the day when that’s going to be) I won’t need to MoneyWiz’s level of pre­ci­sion, and I’ll prob­a­bly switch to just using YNAB.

Netcat tarpipe — with bonus progress bars!

This post was writ­ten for my own ref­er­ence, so I can stop recre­at­ing the process each of the 2 – 3 times a year I need to use it

Every now and then, you have a large num­ber of files to trans­fer across a really fast net­work, and the usual meth­ods just have too much overhead.

At times like this, Ye Olde Skool Neck­beard Sysad­min reverts to a time-honoured tech­nique known as the Net­cat Tar Pipe:

On the receiving end do:
# netcat -l -p 7000 | tar x

And on the send­ing end do:
# tar cf — * | net­cat oth­er­host 7000

The chiefest draw­back of this tech­nique is that you don’t know what’s hap­pen­ing. You know that Some Data is being trans­ferred at A Rate, but that’s about all.

Enter Pipe Viewer, aka pv:

pv — Pipe Viewer — is a terminal-based tool for mon­i­tor­ing the progress of data through a pipeline. It can be inserted into any nor­mal pipeline between two processes to give a visual indi­ca­tion of how quickly data is pass­ing through, how long it has taken, how near to com­ple­tion it is, and an esti­mate of how long it will be until com­ple­tion.

A minor tweak or two will give you fan­cy­pants progress indi­ca­tors, and a file trans­fer mech­a­nism that’s almost cer­tainly faster than any­thing else you can do.

First you need to cal­cu­late the size of the data you’re sending:

[/share/polleyj] # du -sk
594409480 .

Now we use a sim­ple mod­i­fi­ca­tion of the com­mand above on the receiv­ing side:

netcat -l -p 7000 | pv -s 594409480k | tar vx

and on the send­ing side:

tar cf - * | pv -s 594409480k | netcat otherhost 7000

You now get a fancy progress indi­ca­tor on the send­ing side:

959MB 0:03:18 [4.64MB/s] [> ] 0% ETA 33:13:22

and with the addi­tion of the ‘v flag on the receiv­ing side, you can see file­names as they’re unpacked as well:

352MB 0:02:41 [4.85MB/s] [> ] 0% ETA 73:41:36

So there you go. May as well go make a cof­fee or 73 while you wait for that data to copy over.

Top tips from #pyconau

Last week­end I was at PyCon-AU in Hobart. Plenty has been said, on twit­ter and else where about what a great conf it was, so I won’t go into that too much.

I will men­tion that my biggest com­plaint is that there were too many talks that I wanted to see, so I missed about 2/3rds of them sim­ply through being unable to be in more than one place at once. For­tu­nately all the talks that I missed are avail­able on YouTube so I’ll be grad­u­ally catch­ing up on them as time permits.

I came away from the con­fer­ence with, amongst other things, a new grab-bag of tools that I plan to be using shortly. Some of the most valu­able are:

I’m already excited about next year. Ter­ri­fy­ingly, I’ve already started plan­ning a cou­ple of talks I’m going to propose.

Wrest Point Casino hotel swimming pool length

I’ve been unable to find this infor­ma­tion online, so I thought I’d fix the problem.

The hotel pool at Wrest Point Casino is roughly 10m long. For the con­ve­nience of patrons, it has handrails at each end, just under­wa­ter. I the pool is not ideal for lap-swimming.

If you’re going to compare Terms of Service, kindly do so based on facts.

ObDisc: I used to work for Google. I still have lots of friends at Google. I have a bias towards trust­ing Google that’s largely based on know­ing peo­ple who work there and trust­ing them per­son­ally. I pay money for many Google ser­vices — sev­eral Apps domains, for instance. I am also a pay­ing cus­tomer of both Drop­box and iCloud.

I had thought that the non­sense about Google’s Terms of Ser­vice and their impact on Google Drive was dead with Nilay Patel’s com­pre­hen­sive sum­mary of Drop­box, Sky­drive, Google Drive, and iCloud Terms of Ser­vice, but then I saw this tweet and realised that the non­sense is con­tin­u­ing. The arti­cle linked (pub­lished on Trend Micro’s “Cloud Secu­rity” blog) to was writ­ten on the same day as Nilay’s piece, so it’s not new — but appar­ently this non­sense is still being spread.

Trend Micro also have a sim­i­lar ser­vice, called Safe Sync. In the foot­notes below, I’ve included (as well as the com­par­i­son from Nilay’s arti­cle) the equiv­a­lent sec­tions from Safe Sync’s own EULA for you to compare.

All of these Terms are fairly stan­dard. Amongst their many sim­i­lar­i­ties, each of them has a “You retain own­er­ship” clause[1], and a “You grant us the right to” clause[2]. [3]

With­out excep­tion, every bit of FUD I’ve seen has been pred­i­cated around com­par­ing the “You retain own­er­ship” clauses from the other ser­vices with Google’s “You grant us the right to” clause. Today’s bit of non­sense does exactly the same thing: it lists the “You retain own­er­ship” clauses from Sky­drive and Drop­box against the “You grant us rights” clause from Google. This one goes one step fur­ther though: it first argues that the “You retain own­er­ship” clauses in the other Terms are vital for estab­lish­ing a Rea­son­able Expec­ta­tion of Pri­vacy under US law; then makes the explicit claim that Google’s terms destroy any argu­ment that con­tent uploaded to your cloud stor­age ser­vice has a rea­son­able expec­ta­tion of pri­vacy — imply­ing (although never actu­ally stat­ing) that Google’s Terms, unlike the oth­ers, lack the vital “You retain own­er­ship” clause.

Utter non­sense.

It’s quite pos­si­ble that not hav­ing a “You retain own­er­ship” clause might have con­se­quences on a Rea­son­able Expec­ta­tion of Pri­vacy; but as Google’s Terms are equiv­a­lent to the oth­ers, this would apply equally to the other ser­vices. I don’t see how this could arise from a gen­uinely mis­taken read­ing of Google’s Terms, either: the “You retain own­er­ship” clause is quite lit­er­ally in the pre­vi­ous sen­tence to the one quoted in the Trend Micro arti­cle — I don’t see how any hon­est attempt at under­stand­ing the Terms could miss the clause. I don’t see how this can be any­thing other than a delib­er­ate attempt to cre­ate FUD.

The Trend Micro ends with a plug for their own prod­uct. The penul­ti­mate sen­tence says:

Here’s hop­ing the EFF shames Google into at least being less evil.

Good news! Ars Tech­nica got in touch with the EFF and asked them to read over Google’s pol­icy.. Was the result the sham­ing that Trend Micro were hop­ing would be bestowed on their competitors?

When Ars spoke to the Elec­tronic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion about Google Drive’s terms of ser­vice, the EFF found lit­tle about them that was more sus­pi­cious than in any other sim­i­lar cloud service.

I’m sure that Google is indeed pos­i­tively burn­ing with shame.

Edited to add: Just to be clear, I’m not intend­ing to imply that there is no rea­son to be con­cerned about putting your pri­vate data on any of these ser­vices. Any time you decided to use any of these ser­vices (or any cloud Web­mail ser­vice, or an online photo shar­ing site, or a social net­work…) you need to care­fully bal­ance the util­ity you get from the ser­vice against the very real pri­vacy and secu­rity issues asso­ci­ated with the ser­vice. How­ever, these deci­sions need to be based on *facts*: what the rel­e­vant Terms and Poli­cies actu­ally say. Spread­ing FUD about the con­tents of the poli­cies doesn’t help any­one make a deci­sion about which ser­vices to use (or not to use).


Google Drive
Some of our Ser­vices allow you to sub­mit con­tent. You retain own­er­ship of any intel­lec­tual prop­erty rights that you hold in that con­tent. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.
By using our Ser­vices you pro­vide us with infor­ma­tion, files, and fold­ers that you sub­mit to Drop­box (together, “your stuff”). You retain full own­er­ship to your stuff. We don’t claim any own­er­ship to any of it.
Except for mate­r­ial that we license to you, we don’t claim own­er­ship of the con­tent you pro­vide on the ser­vice. Your con­tent remains your content
Except for mate­r­ial we may license to you, Apple does not claim own­er­ship of the mate­ri­als and/or Con­tent you sub­mit or make avail­able on the Service
You are the owner of your files and are solely respon­si­ble
for your con­duct and con­tent of your files, as well as any of the con­tent con­tained in com­mu­ni­ca­tions with other
users of the Trend Micro Products/Services.
Trend Micro does not claim any own­er­ship rights
in your files.


Google Drive
you give Google (and those we work with) a world­wide license to use, host, store, repro­duce, mod­ify, cre­ate deriv­a­tive works (such as those result­ing from trans­la­tions, adap­ta­tions or other changes we make so that your con­tent works bet­ter with our Ser­vices), com­mu­ni­cate, pub­lish, pub­licly per­form, pub­licly dis­play and dis­trib­ute such con­tent. The rights you grant in this license are for the lim­ited pur­pose of oper­at­ing, pro­mot­ing, and improv­ing our Ser­vices, and to develop new ones.
We may need your per­mis­sion to do things you ask us to do with your stuff, for exam­ple, host­ing your files, or shar­ing them at your direc­tion. This includes prod­uct fea­tures vis­i­ble to you, for exam­ple, image thumb­nails or doc­u­ment pre­views. It also includes design choices we make to tech­ni­cally admin­is­ter our Ser­vices, for exam­ple, how we redun­dantly backup data to keep it safe. You give us the per­mis­sions we need to do those things solely to pro­vide the Services.
You under­stand that Microsoft may need, and you hereby grant Microsoft the right, to use, mod­ify, adapt, repro­duce, dis­trib­ute, and dis­play con­tent posted on the ser­vice solely to the extent nec­es­sary to pro­vide the service.
you grant Apple a world­wide, royalty-free, non-exclusive license to use, dis­trib­ute, repro­duce, mod­ify, adapt, pub­lish, trans­late, pub­licly per­form and pub­licly dis­play such Con­tent on the Ser­vice solely for the pur­pose for which such Con­tent was sub­mit­ted or made avail­able, with­out any com­pen­sa­tion or oblig­a­tion to you.
You under­stand that in order to pro­vide the Ser­vice and make your Con­tent avail­able thereon, Apple may trans­mit your Con­tent across var­i­ous pub­lic net­works, in var­i­ous media, and mod­ify or change your Con­tent to com­ply with tech­ni­cal require­ments of con­nect­ing net­works or devices or com­put­ers. You agree that the license herein per­mits Apple to take any such actions.
In order to make the Trend Micro Products/Services avail­able to you, you agree to grant Trend Micro a lim­ited, nonex­clu­sive, per­pet­ual, fully-paid and royalty-free, sub-licensable and world­wide license: (i) to use, copy, trans­mit, dis­trib­ute, store and cache files that you choose to sync; and (ii) to copy, trans­mit, pub­lish, and dis­trib­ute to oth­ers the files as you designate

[3]All of the ser­vice have Pri­vacy Pol­i­cys which mod­ify the Terms of Ser­vice in var­i­ous ways. It’s inter­est­ing com­par­ing these too.

  • Google’s Pri­vacy Pol­icy mostly lim­its what they can do with the rights you’ve granted them under the ToS. For instance, although the Terms of Ser­vice require that you grant Google the right to use your data for “the lim­ited pur­pose of … pro­mot­ing … our Ser­vices”, the Pri­vacy Pol­icy seems to restrict Google’s abil­ity to actu­ally do this — as far as I can tell, only data you have expressly cho­sen to make world-visible could ever be used in this way.
  • Drop­box’ Pri­vacy Pol­icy, by con­trast, greatly *expands* the rights Drop­box have. For instance, the Terms say that “aside from the rare excep­tions we iden­tify in our Pri­vacy Pol­icy, no mat­ter how the Ser­vices change, we won’t share your con­tent with … law enforce­ment, for any pur­pose unless you direct us to”. On the sur­face, this seems much more restricted than Google’s equiv­a­lent terms — until you find this in the Pri­vacy Pol­icy: We may dis­close to par­ties out­side Drop­box files stored in your Drop­box and infor­ma­tion about you that we col­lect when we have a good faith belief that dis­clo­sure is rea­son­ably nec­es­sary to (a) com­ply with a law, reg­u­la­tion or com­pul­sory legal request. In short, despite the mis­lead­ing word­ing in the Terms, Drop­box can and will share your data with law enforce­ment just as read­ily as any other corporation.

Precise Pangolin install hints

My desk­top at work is a Dell Pre­ci­sion T5500 - a fairly stan­dard desk­top, you’d think. My video card is an NVIDIA Quadro FX 580.

I recently spent most of 3 days try­ing to upgrade from Lucid to Pan­golin. I’m not going to bore you with the details, but here are some things I wish I’d known.

  • I have two mon­i­tors, one on each of the Dis­play­Port out­puts. The LiveCD will not use either of them *unless you have a third mon­i­tor plugged in to the DVI port*. My mon­i­tors hap­pen to be able to han­dle Picture-by-Picture, so I can actu­ally make one of them track both the Dis­play­Port and DVI inputs, which comes in handy.
  • Although the installer can use the graph­ics card just fine, the sys­tem it installs by default is bro­ken. At the very first part of the installer (a pur­ple screen with a key­board and a human — at least, I think that’s what those two fuzzy blobs are meant to be), press any key. You’ll be asked to choose a lan­guage, then you’ll get a menu with options like “Try Ubuntu with­out installing” and “Install Ubuntu”. Press F6, arrow-down to “nomod­e­set”, and press x to acti­vate it. This makes no dif­fer­ence at all to the installer, but does result in it installing a sys­tem that can use your graph­ics card later.
  • This part of the installer uses the DVI input to your mon­i­tor. Take the time to set up Picture-by-Picture so you can track the install as it flips back and forth between DVI and Dis­play­Port through­out the rest of the process.
  • Now choose “Try Ubuntu with­out installing”. Despite the mis­lead­ing name, this gives you a chance to set your sys­tem up before run­ning the installer.
  • The installer may now switch from DVI to Dis­play­Port, but then again, some­times it won’t. Be glad you set up PbP so you can catch it wher­ever it appears. If it’s on Dis­play­Port, you prob­a­bly didn’t set nomod­e­set cor­rectly. Don’t waste your time con­tin­u­ing with the installer, even though it seems to be work­ing fine — just restart it.
  • The stan­dard LiveCD does not sup­port LVM, so will not han­dle the LVM par­ti­tions already on your desk­top (you do use LVM, right?). You can switch to a ter­mi­nal by press­ing alt+F1, and then:
    • sudo apt-get install lvm2
    • sudo vgchange –ay

    You can then use alt+F7 to get back to the GUI and kick off the installer.

  • The installer doesn’t seem to be able to cope with exist­ing swap par­ti­tions — at least, not when you have sev­eral swap par­ti­tions. It does amus­ing things like pop­ping up modal dialogs to tell you that cre­at­ing the swap space failed — and then doesn’t let you dis­miss the dia­log, so your only option is a hard power-down. Don’t waste your time, just tell the par­ti­tioner not to use any swap par­ti­tions at all.
  • If you choose to use encrypted home­dirs, the process that cre­ates the home­dirs assumes you have at least one swap par­ti­tion. Because you’ve had to choose not to use any swap par­ti­tions, this will fail — but it does so in a recov­er­able way. Just use alt+F1 again, “sudo swapon /dev/sdXY”, (assum­ing that /dev/sdXY is your swap par­ti­tion), then switch back to the GUI and click “Try Again” on the installer.
  • When you’re set­ting up your par­ti­tions, you will be asked to choose a device for boot loader instal­la­tion. Choose your hard drive, not your USB stick. Near the end of the installer, some­times the installer will try to install grub on the USB stick any­way. This will fail, but you will get the chance to pick another par­ti­tion to install GRUB to. Pick your actual hard drive again.
  • If you can­cel the installer, it will think some­thing went wrong and ask if you want to send a mes­sage with details to Ubuntu devel­op­ers. If you can­cel this, the win­dow never dies. If you start the installer again, it will even­tu­ally reach a point where it’s blocked wait­ing for the orig­i­nal win­dow to go away. Switch back to the con­sole and use “kill $(ps auxwww | grep [a]pport)” to ter­mi­nate the orig­i­nal process.
  • Even though you’ve man­u­ally installed lvm2 and are installing onto LVM, ubuntu won’t bother installing LVM into the sys­tem it cre­ates. Make sure you fol­low step 7 of this guide before you reboot. If you for­get, you can always boot up the LiveCD again and run through this step.

Edited to add: One more tip: Once you’re done, unplug the DVI cable. If you leave it plugged in, a reboot will see the sys­tem using the DVI out­put and ignor­ing the two Dis­play­Port out­puts again. If I ever do a reboot and the screens go to sleep, I’m going to try plug­ging in the DVI cable again. The sys­tem really seems to love that DVI output.

Wed and Circuses

Cir­cus the First: Sexuality

I noticed, well over a decade ago, that many gay young men, once they finally accept them­selves and their sex­u­al­ity, over-compensate. They jump straight from self-hatred into embrac­ing extreme gay stereo­types — not because that’s who they are, but because that’s the only way to be gay that they’re aware of. The jump from “I’m okay! I’m gay; gays do X, there­fore I must want to do X” has always sad­dened me.

I think a lot of peo­ple would be much hap­pier if they were able to just say “I’m okay! I’m gay” and not think that they have to rad­i­cally change every aspect of their life. That’s not going to be a com­mon thing until every gay child grows up being aware that they are sur­rounded by gay peo­ple, who are just as diverse as the rest of the peo­ple they know.

Unfor­tu­nately, we live in a world where teach­ers, actors, singers, sports peo­ple, politi­cians (to name just a few) all feel they need to stay in the closet in order to have a career; where chil­dren are rou­tinely told that gay love is “dif­fer­ent” and “infe­rior” and “we can’t let those dirty gays have our pre­cious mar­riage”. Until all of that changes, gay kids are going to grow up only hav­ing one kind of role model — they’re going to believe that the only way to be authen­ti­cally gay is to “be here, be queer, get used to it”.

I lucked out and (mostly, I think) avoided this mis­take myself — although I cer­tainly went through a period where I was cer­tainly act­ing the way I thought I ought to behave, and not the way I wanted to behave. A big part of how I got lucky was that I hap­pened to fall in with a crowd of gay men who showed me that I don’t need to change who I am in order to be gay.

I would like every child to have the chance to make the dis­cov­ery I made *before* they start try­ing to muti­late their per­son­al­ity until it fits into the only mould they’ve ever been aware of. Until we get a crit­i­cal mass of pub­lic fig­ures being vis­bly out of the closet, Mardi Gras is one of the best ways to achieve this. It gives a very dis­torted, one-sided extrem­ist view of what it means to be gay; and that does cause some harm — but it causes much less harm than hav­ing chil­dren grow­ing up believ­ing they’re the only gay in the village.

For­tu­nately, I think that this cir­cus is draw­ing to a close. There are far more out pub­lic fig­ures now than there 10 or 20 years ago, when I was strug­gling. Most of the ways the law treats het­ero­sex­ual cou­ples dif­fer­ent from other cou­ples have been removed. There are still rem­nants of dis­crim­i­na­tion that are polit­i­cally infea­si­ble to remove just yet — but there’s a grow­ing aware­ness that the polit­i­cal prob­lems stem from a very vocal minor­ity and don’t actu­ally reflect the views of the major­ity of the pop­u­la­tion. I’m rea­son­ably con­fi­dent that chil­dren born this decade will be able to mature with­out going through too much trauma if they realise that their sex­u­al­ity is some­thing other than 100% hetero.

In short, I believe that Mardi Gras is going to become far less rel­e­vant over the next decade or so — and we’re going to see far fewer young gay men mak­ing dras­tic changes to their lifestyle and harm­ing them­selves in the process. This won’t be achieved solely because of the noisy extrem­ists who started the gay rights move­ment in this coun­try 30+ years ago — but it *will* be achieved because their noisy, vio­lent, rude pio­neer­ing made it pos­si­ble for ordi­nary every­day gay peo­ple to make them­selves known to the peo­ple around them.

Cir­cus the sec­ond: Religion

For myself, being able to accept my sex­u­al­ity meant that I first had to mod­ify some of the reli­gious beliefs I’d grown up with. How­ever, I didn’t hap­pen to fall in with a crowd who showed me that it’s pos­si­ble to only mod­ify parts of my reli­gious belief. I’d grown up sur­rounded by one end of the reli­gious spec­trum (the end now rep­re­sented by the ACL, although if it existed at the time I wasn’t aware of it). The only alter­na­tive I was aware of — thanks to a lot of very noisy extrem­ists — was right at the other end of the reli­gious spec­trum. Con­se­quently, that’s where I went — one huge leap, dis­card­ing huge por­tions of my prior belief sys­tem, because that was the only change I believed possible.

I did start to meet peo­ple who showed me that there was another I could have taken much later — but by then, it was too late. There’s as lit­tle chance of me tweak­ing my beliefs from my cur­rent extreme as their was when I started. In fact, even though I’ve been aware of the first Cir­cus for a long time, I really only became aware of that I’d done essen­tially the same thing in the sec­ond Cir­cus tonight.

I believe that the largest part of why I was unaware of other pos­si­bil­i­ties is because mod­er­ate Chris­tians tend not to speak out pub­licly against the extrem­ists — at least, not the extrem­ists they regard as being within the fold of Chris­tian­ity. There are good bib­li­cal rea­sons for this — 1 Corinthi­ans 6:1 – 11, for instance. Because of pas­sages like this, many Chris­tians seem to feel that the cor­rect way to han­dle peo­ple at the extremes of Chris­t­ian belief is qui­etly — within the church, or just maybe, by express­ing a very quiet con­trary opin­ion only when directly ques­tioned — but never, ever speak­ing out loudly against the extreme viewpoints.

I can sym­pa­thise with this view. Unfor­tu­nately, it means that this cir­cus looks very dif­fer­ent from the first cir­cus. The first cir­cus started with loud extrem­ists at both ends of the spec­trum — but is going to end because the vast major­ity of peo­ple in the cen­ter stood up and made them­selves known. The sec­ond cir­cus has also attracted loud extrem­ists at both ends — but so far at least, the vast major­ity in the cen­ter refuse to make them­selves known.

I’d love to see the sec­ond cir­cus draw to an end too. I’d love to see the ACL and their ilk to be under­stood as the extrem­ist, vocal, minor­ity that I believe they are. I’d love to be able to tell the athe­ists cur­rently gath­er­ing in Mel­bourne that their con­fer­ence has no more value than I believe Mardi Gras will have in a few years time — a fun spec­ta­cle, per­haps, but not a vitally impor­tant way of let­ting peo­ple under­stand that they aren’t alone. I’d love for chil­dren who grew up with a Chris­t­ian back­ground be able com­pre­hend the enor­mous diver­sity of opin­ion within the Chris­t­ian churches, and were able to make minor cor­rec­tions instead of hav­ing to ditch Chris­tian­ity entirely.

How­ever, none of this is going to hap­pen while the only peo­ple will­ing to speak up are the peo­ple at the extreme ends of the spec­trum. If you’re nei­ther an extreme athe­ist nor an extreme Chris­t­ian, it’s *vital* that you be will­ing to be loud and proud about your beliefs. It’s vital that you step for­ward and say “The ACL does not entirely rep­re­sent what it means for me to be Chris­t­ian” or “Extrem­ists like PZ Myers do not entirely rep­re­sent what it means for me to be athe­ist”, just as it was vital for the silent major­ity of gays to step for­ward and say “Mardi Gras does not entirely rep­re­sent what it means for me to be gay”. As long as the mod­er­ates refuse to loudly, pub­licly, vis­i­bly repu­di­ate the extrem­ists who claim to speak for all Chris­tians or all Athe­ists, *those will be the only voices that are heard*.


As it hap­pens, there’s a fan­tas­tic oppor­tu­nity open *right now* for every­one to have their say. The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Social Pol­icy and Legal Affairs is hold­ing a a verbosely-named Inquiry into the Mar­riage Equal­ity Amend­ment Bill 2012 and the Mar­riage Amend­ment Bill 2012 which is call­ing for pub­lic sub­mis­sions on the topic of mar­riage equal­ity gen­er­ally, and two spe­cific bills in par­tic­u­lar. The ACL are encour­ag­ing their con­stituency to make their feel­ings known; and of course, we gas­bag­ging noisy athe­ists are doing the same. If you’re a mod­er­ate, this is your chance! Don’t let the extrem­ists make it look as though there are only two opin­ions here! Don’t let the ACL or the noisy athe­ists get away with pre­tend­ing they talk for you!

All you need to do is answer 5 mul­ti­ple choice ques­tions (and, option­ally, say a few words (very few — only 250 words will be accepted) in response to two more open-ended ques­tions) in order to make sure that our Par­lia­ment is able to under­stand the full diver­sity of opin­ions in the community.

Two of the ques­tions on the sur­vey ask you whether you sup­port each of the bills named in the Inquiry’s title. If you believe that any amend­ments to remove the “Man and Woman” clause from the Mar­riage Act would be bad, there’s no need for you to read either of the bills.

Every­body else should read both of the (very short) bills before they com­plete the sur­vey. The bills do dif­fer — for instance, both aim to pre­serve the right min­is­ters of reli­gion already have to refuse to solem­nise any wed­ding that falls out­side of their reli­gious belief, but both bills approach this in slightly dif­fer­ent ways.

Both bills — and some other back­ground infor­ma­tion, if you want to learn more — are linked from the Inquiry page. If you’d like to read the full text of the exist­ing Mar­riage Act, that’s avail­able over at ComLaw

And so, to bed

This was meant to be a quick response, just a tiny bit too long to fit in a sin­gle tweet. 3.5 hours later, I’m not sure the words I’m writ­ing make sense any more. It’s time for bed.

State Theater Wurlitzer

Spot­ted in the State Library’s Flickr feed a few days ago: one mag­nif­i­cent Wurl­itzer being installed into the State Theater:

I vis­ited the Museum Speelk­lock while in the Nether­lands last year and was amazed by some of the auto­mated music machines they had on dis­play there — sim­ple cuckoo-clocks, clocks that use a cir­cu­lar bow and intri­cate fin­ger­ing mech­a­nisms to play four vio­lins at once, all the way up to some enor­mous steam organs. I was amazed at how much inge­nu­ity went into build­ing some of these instruments.

I’ve been in the State The­atre a few times, but don’t remem­ber notic­ing any vis­i­ble parts of this organ. I won­der if it’s still intact?

Go here! No, don’t go here!

I took a photo yes­ter­day, on my Android phone. Google Plus Instant Upload pushed it up to Picasa for me. This seems to have trig­gered an email notification.

Not the warn­ing: “Con­tent has been removed for a vio­la­tion of terms of ser­vice”. This con­cerns me — I don’t think any­thing I’ve uploaded should vio­late the terms of ser­vice. There doesn’t seem to be any way to dis­cover what con­tent was removed, or from where, or what terms of ser­vice it vio­lated — just a “Give Feed­back” link.

That link takes me to!forum/gmail-labs-help-media-previews — which tells me right at the top that this isn’t where I want to be.

Good job, Google!