310 stories
·
5 followers

Flying Kites with Simone de Beauvoir

2 Comments and 11 Shares
PERSON:
Read the whole story
popular
8 days ago
reply
CrystalDave
8 days ago
reply
Seattle, WA
jepler
9 days ago
reply
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
Share this story
Delete
2 public comments
sness
8 days ago
reply
less than 3
milky way
tante
8 days ago
reply
Flying Kites with Simone De Beauvoir
Berlin/Germany

Letter of Recommendation: Get a Vasectomy

6 Comments and 11 Shares

Men in the US typically do not talk about or worry about birth control that much, to the detriment of the health and safety of women. In the spirit of trying to change that a little, I’m going to talk to you about my experience. About a decade ago, knowing that I did not want to have any more children, I had a vasectomy. And let me tell you, it’s been great. Quickly, here’s what a vasectomy is, via the Mayo Clinic:

Vasectomy is a form of male birth control that cuts the supply of sperm to your semen. It’s done by cutting and sealing the tubes that carry sperm. Vasectomy has a low risk of problems and can usually be performed in an outpatient setting under local anesthesia.

Whether you’re in a committed relationship or a more casual one, knowing that you’re rolling up to sexual encounters with the birth control handled is a really good feeling for everyone concerned.1 Women have typically (and unfairly) had to be the responsible ones about birth control, in large part because it’s ultimately their body, health, and well-being that’s on the line if a sexual act results in pregnancy, but there are benefits of birth control that accrue to both parties (and to society) and taking over that important responsibility from your sexual partner is way more than equitable.

(Here’s the part where I need to come clean: getting a vasectomy was not my idea. I had to be talked into it. It seemed scary and birth control was not something I thought about as much as I should have. I’m ashamed of this; I wish I’d been more proactive and taken more responsibility about it. Guys, we should be talking about and thinking about this shit just as much as women do! I hope you’ve figured this out earlier than I did. Ok, back to the matter at hand.)

Vasectomies are often covered by health insurance and are (somewhat) reversible. These issues can be legitimate dealbreakers for some people. Some folks cannot afford the cost of the procedure or can’t take the necessary time off of work to recover (heavy lifting is verboten for a few days afterwards). And if you get a vasectomy in your 20s for the purpose of 10-15 years of birth control before deciding to start a family, the lack of guarantee around reversal might be unappealing. Talk to your doctor, insurance company, and place of employment about these concerns!

Does the procedure hurt? This is a concern that many men have and the answer is yes: it hurts a little bit during and for a few days afterwards. For most people, you’re in and out in an hour or two, you ice your crotch, pop some Advil, take it easy for a few days, and you’re good to go.1 It’s a small price to pay and honestly if you don’t want to get a vasectomy because you’re worried about your balls aching for 48 hours, I’m going to suggest that you are a whiny little baby — and I’m telling you this as someone who is quite uncomfortable and sometimes faints during even routine medical procedures.

So, if you’re a sperm-producing person who has sex with people who can get pregnant and do not wish for pregnancy to occur, you should consider getting a vasectomy. It’s a minor procedure with few side effects that results in an almost iron-clad guarantee against unwanted pregnancy. At the very least, know that this is an option you have and that you can talk to your partner and doctor about it. Good luck!

  1. Just to be clear, you still have to worry about sexually transmitted infections — a vasectomy obviously does not provide any protection against that.

  2. There also is a follow-up about 6-12 weeks later to make sure the procedure worked. You masturbate into a cup and they check to see that there’s no sperm in the sample. Part of this follow-up, if my experience is any guide, includes checking that the doctor’s office bathroom door is locked about 50 times while watching very outdated porn on a small TV mounted up in the corner of the tiny room. It’s fine though! And you have a fun story to tell later.

Tags: medicine
Read the whole story
CrystalDave
12 days ago
reply
10/10, would do again
Seattle, WA
jepler
12 days ago
reply
My own vasectomy is 25+ years ago and it must have more than paid for itself by now. Consider it, yo.
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
jepler
12 days ago
Oh, and, I was allowed to 'produce' my sample at home. phew.
popular
11 days ago
reply
angelchrys
12 days ago
reply
Overland Park, KS
Share this story
Delete
4 public comments
trevorjackson
10 days ago
reply
I thought I would have to abstain from sex for a very long time, months, during recovery. It’s about a week!
Start, Not Having Passed Go
acdha
11 days ago
reply
“It’s a small price to pay and honestly if you don’t want to get a vasectomy because you’re worried about your balls aching for 48 hours, I’m going to suggest that you are a whiny little baby — and I’m telling you this as someone who is quite uncomfortable and sometimes faints during even routine medical procedures.”

“Ache” was only warranted for the first day, too. I’ve stubbed my toe worse.
Washington, DC
deezil
12 days ago
reply
I think I'm going to call the doc next week.
Louisville, Kentucky
cjheinz
12 days ago
reply
Ditto this.
I was vasectomized almost 40 years ago. No problems, no change in functionality (except for no pregnancy).

Legitimizing Blockchain

1 Comment and 4 Shares

Yesterday, 1Password made the following announcement:

I am very unhappy about this.

As of this writing, the replies to this announcement are, by my count, roughly 95% paying customers who are furious with them for doing this, 3% scammers who are jubilant that this is popularizing their scamming tool of choice, and about 2% blockchain-enthusiasts expressing confusion as to why everyone is so mad.

Scanning through that 2%’s twitter bios and timelines, I could see content other than memes and shilling, so it seemed at least plausible to me that these people are scam victims who haven’t gotten to the blow-off yet, and their confusion is genuine. Given that “why is everyone so mad” is a much less intense reaction than fury or jubilation, I assume that many others read through some of the vitriol and had this reaction, but then didn’t post anything themselves.

This post is for two audiences: that 2%, genuinely wondering what the big deal is, and also those who have a vague feeling that cryptocurrency is bad, but don’t see the point of making much of a fuss about it.

This is why we should make a fuss about it.


The objection most often raised in the comments went something like this:

This is just a feature that you don’t like; if it’s not for you, just don’t use it. Why yell at 1Password just for making a feature that makes someone else happy?

To begin with, the actual technical feature appears to be something related to auto-filling in browser-extension UI, which is fine. I don’t object to the feature. I don’t even object to features which explicitly help people store cryptocurrency more securely, as a harm reduction measure.

Also, to get this out of the way now: cryptocurrency is a scam. I’m not going to argue the case for that here. Others have made the argument far more exhaustively, and you can read literally hundreds of pages and watch hours of video explaining why by clicking here.

The issue is with the co-marketing effort: the fact that 1Password is using their well-respected brand to help advertise and legitimize scam-facilitation technology like Solana and Phantom.

Even if we were to accept all this, it’s a scam, 1Password is marketing it, etc, my hypothetical blockchain-curious interlocutor here might further object:

What’s the big deal about legitimizing these things, even if they are fraud? Surely you can just not get defrauded, and ignore the marketing?

That’s true, but it also misses the point: legitimizing and promoting these things does various kinds of harm.

More broadly, although I’m writing about 1Password’s specific announcement here, and a small amount of the reasoning will be specific to password management tools, most of the concerns I’ll describe are fairly general to any company promoting or co-marketing with cryptocurrency, and thus hopefully this post will serve for future instances where we should tell some other company to stop supporting blockchains as well.

So with all that out of the way, here are some of the harms that one might be concerned about, from the least selfish concern to the most.


Concern #1: the well-being of others

I don’t know how to explain to you that you should care about other people, but if you do care about other people, this could hurt them.

First and foremost, the entire scam of cryptocurrency rests upon making people believe that the assets are worth something. Most people are not steeped in the technical minutiae of blockchains, and tend to trust things based on institutional reputation. 1Password has a strong brand, related to information security, and they’re saying that cryptocurrencies are good, so it’s likely to convince a nonzero number of people to put their money into this technology that has enormous non-obvious risks. They could easily lose everything.

Advertising 1Password in this way additionally encourages users to maintain custody of their own blockchain assets on their own devices. Doing so with 1Password is considerably less risky than it might be otherwise, so if this were to only reach people who were already planning to store their wallets on their own computers, then great.

However, this might encourage users who had not previously thought to look at cryptocurrency at all to do so, and if they found it via 1Password they might start using 1Password to store their first few secrets. Storing them in this way, although less risky, is still unreasonably risky, given the lack of any kind of safety mechanisms on blockchain-backed transactions. Even if they’re savvy enough not to get scammed, nobody is savvy enough not to get hacked, particularly by sophisticated technical attacks which are worth leveraging against high-value targets like people with expensive crypto wallets on their computers.

To be clear, crypto exchanges are, on average, extremely bad at the job of not getting their users money stolen, but individual users are likely to be even worse at that job.

Concern #2: economic damage

If you don’t care about other people much, but you still care about living in a functioning society, then the promotion of blockchain based financial instruments is a huge destabilization risk. As Dan Olson explains in the devastating video essay / documentary Line Goes Up, blockchain-based financial instruments share a lot of extremely concerning properties that made mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations so financially toxic in the 2008 crash. Large-scale adoption of these things could lead to a similar crisis, or even worse, a global deflationary spiral in the style of the one that caused the great depression, setting off the kind of economic damage that could result in mass famine and mass death.

Of course, any individual company or celebrity advertising crypto is not going to trigger an immediate economic collapse. Each of these is a snowflake in an avalanche. I have no illusions that convincing just 1Password to stop this is going to turn the tide of the entire blockchain catastrophe that is unfolding all around us, or indeed that my one little post here is going to make the decisive difference between, 1Password stopping vs. not.

But that’s exactly why I’m trying to persuade you, dear reader, that this is a big deal and we should all try to work together to stop it.

Concern #3: environmental damage

While this specific blockchain is “greener” than others, but given the huge proportion of cryptocurrency generally that is backed by electrical waste, and the cultural and technical incentives that make trading one blockchain asset for another more common than cashing out to dollars, it’s still a legitimate concern that promoting blockchain in general will promote environmental destruction indirectly.

Furthermore, the way that Solana is less energy-intensive than other blockchains is by using proof-of-stake, so there’s a sliding scale here between economic and environmental damage, given that proof-of-stake is designed to accelerate wealth accumulation among non-productive participants, and thereby encourages hoarding. So the reduction in environmental damage just makes the previous point even worse.

Concern #4: increased targeting risk

Even if you’re a full blown sociopath with no concern for others and an iron-clad confidence that you can navigate the collapse of the financial system without any harm to you personally, there is still a pretty big negative here: increased risk from threat actors. Even if you like and use blockchain, and want to use this feature, this risk still affects you.

If 1Password happened to have some features that blockchain nerds could use to store their secrets, then attackers might have some interest in breaking in to 1Password, and could possibly work on tools to do so. That’s the risk of existing on the Internet at all. But if 1Password loudly advertises, repeatedly, that they are will be integrating with a variety of cryptocurrency providers, then this will let attackers know that 1Password is the preferred cryptocurrency storage mechanism.

This further means that attackers will start trying to figure out ways to target 1Password users, on the assumption that we’re more likely to have crypto assets lying around on our filesystems; not only developing tools to break in to 1Password but developing tools to fingerprint users who have the extension installed, who have accounts on the service, whose emails show up on the forum, etc.

Now, of course, 1Password users keep plenty of high-value information inside 1Password already; that’s the whole point. But cryptocurrency is special because of the irreversible nature of transactions, and the immediacy of the benefit to cybercriminals specifically.

If you steal all of someone’s bank passwords, you could potentially get a bunch of their money, but it is expensive and risky for the criminals. The transactions can be traced directly to actual human account holders immediately; anti-money-laundering regulations mean that this can usually be accomplished even across international borders. Transfers can be reversed.

This discrepancy between real money and cryptocurrency is exactly why ransomware was created by cryptocurrency. It makes cryptocurrency attractive specifically to the kinds of people who have expertise and resources to mount wide-spectrum digital attacks against whole populations.

Of course, if they develop tools to fingerprint and hack 1Password users, but they don’t luck out and find easy-to-steal crypto on your computer, they might as well try to steal other things of value, like your identity, credit information, and so on. These are higher-risk, but now that they’ve built all that infrastructure and hacked all these machines, there’s a big sunk cost that makes it more worthwhile.

Please Stop

I really hope that 1Password abandons this destructive scheme. Even if they fully walk this back, I will still find it much harder to recommend their product in the future; there will need to be some active effort to repair trust with their user community. If I’ve convinced you of the problems here, please let them know as a reply to the tweet, the email linked from their blog post, their community forum, or the Reddit post of the announcement, so that they can get a clear signal that this is unacceptable.

Read the whole story
CrystalDave
79 days ago
reply
Seattle, WA
jepler
81 days ago
reply
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
Share this story
Delete
1 public comment
bronzehedwick
79 days ago
reply
Shame on 1Password for piling on the #CryptoDisaster. Your reputation is your brand. Don’t ruin it.
Jersey City, NJ

Zeus, 2008 – 2022

2 Shares

A kitten came to us in January 2008, on what was one of the coldest nights of the year, in a manner that we would later learn was indicative of his personality: He snuck into our garage, walked up to the door to our kitchen, and meowed loudly to be let in. Athena was the first to hear him meow; she told Krissy, who did an inventory of our resident cats, all of whom were accounted for. The two of them opened the door, and there was the kitten, hungry and cold and indignant about both of those facts.

I found out about all of this when I was called downstairs and saw the two of them staring at the kitten, which they had placed on our kitchen table, along with a bowl of kibble, into which he was avidly snorkeling, purring as he did so. It was made clear to me we had a new pet. I didn’t fight the decision. What I did do was put him into my office for the night, along with a cat box, to see if he know how to use one. I stayed with him, sleeping on the office floor (much to the disapproval of my back), waking up every now and then to check on his progress. Turned out he could use a cat box just fine. A few days later, after inquires to neighbors to see if anyone was missing a cat, and a trip to the vet, the kitten, who we had been calling Temp Cat™, became permanent, and given an official name: Zeus.

Zeus was, in a word, rambunctious. He’d jump up on the fridge and patrol the top of the upper kitchen shelves; he’d tear around the house; he’d try to drink my hot chocolate and then get deeply offended when I’d tell him that hot chocolate was not for cats. He enjoyed burrowing under the covers to bite the toes he’d find there; on one memorable occasion he got more ambitious than that and bit my ass. He quickly learned that there were some body parts one should not bite, for all sorts of reasons. In time he stopped burrowing under the sheets, but he never stopped pawing me awake at 3 am to be let out of the house on inscrutable cat business: paw, paw, and then, if the pawing didn’t work, a single scrape of a claw between the shoulder blades. He was kind a jerk, Zeus was.

With the arrival of Zeus, we had what we thought of as the original trio of Scalzi Bradford Cats: Lopsided Cat, who arrived first by coming out of woods and hopping on the back of a toddler Athena, Ghlaghghee, who arrived when our neighbor came by, said “here’s your cat,” and give me a tiny kitten, and then Zeus (Rex, who came with us when we arrived in Bradford, stood aloof from the other cats and passed before Zeus came on the scene). The three of them made a good team: Lopsided Cat was the no-nonsense father figure of the cats, Ghlaghghgee the dainty princess cat, and Zeus the furry chaos engine. The three of their personalities are so memorable, in fact, that I immortalized them in my novel Fuzzy Nation, where Lopsided Cat became Papa Fuzzy, Ghlaghghee was Baby Fuzzy, and Zeus was Pinto. If you read that book, you’ve met this trio of cats.

Time passes, as it does, and both Ghlaghghee and Lopsided Cat went away, and in their place currently are Sugar and Spice and Smudge, a new trio in our minds. Zeus, no longer the chaos cat (Smudge fills that role, amply), found himself in the role of the Senior Cat, keeping the younger trio in line. I think at first he was annoyed that the job fell to him — it was not, shall we say, his natural métier — but in time he warmed to it, particularly in regard to Smudge, who like him was a tuxedo cat, and who he enjoyed smacking around. It was fun to watch the two of them go after each other; we called them the “Tusslin’ Tuxedo Brothers” and would occasionally capture their battles on video.

Athena also noted to me that Zeus was the only cat who knew all three of our dogs: Kodi, Daisy and now Charlie. Zeus liked Kodi the best, I think, and would cuddle up to her from time to time. He treated Daisy as a respected colleague the firm of Scalzi Pets, LLC. He tolerated Charlie, and was not above reminding her of her place in the pet hierarchy (i.e., the new hire) with an occasional bat of the nose.

All of which is to say that of all the Scalzi pets, Zeus spanned eras in the bottle universe of the Scalzis, not just of pets but of people as well. In the fourteen years that Zeus stayed with us, so much changed for us, and he walked through it all, doing his thing, being his particular brand of cat. Which was: Kind of a pain in the ass (sometimes literally, as noted above), but always in the middle of everything, the constant black and white thread in the Scalzi family tapestry.

Over the last few months age had been catching up to Zeus, and he’d become slower and quieter, and — this was a surprise — more affectionate. Most of his life, Zeus would tolerate being petted only in certain ways (scritching behind the ears) and only by certain people (Krissy and occasionally me). Everything and everyone else would be met with loud and indignant protest that his personhood was being violated so. But in the last few months he would come up to all three of the Scalzi humans and plop right down and accept being petted, and not just in one or two specific places, or for very short durations. We enjoyed this. We also knew it was one of several indications that Zeus’ time with us was shortening and would soon end.

Which it did, in the small hours of this morning. Last night Athena heard Zeus meowing lowly in the other room. Like we did fourteen years ago, we all came to him to be with him and to watch him. Like I did fourteen years ago, I stayed the night with him, lying with him on the floor so he wouldn’t be alone. This morning, we took him to his final resting place, underneath the same backyard tree where Lopsided Cat and Ghlaghghee lay, their trio finally and forever reunited.

Another era has passed in the Scalzi family timeline. Athena noted that Zeus was the last of her childhood pets, and that it made her sad. I agreed, it was sad, here in the moment. I also told her that Zeus’ life was a success story, and that success was because of her. He lived a whole life, loved and safe and cared for, and all of that was because, on one cold night in January, she had heard him call, and opened our door.

Another era has passed, with a circularity that I can’t feel is coincidence. Zeus called to us in the beginning, to let him in. He called to us at the end, to let him move on. We answered him both times. What was in between was everything.

— JS

Read the whole story
CrystalDave
97 days ago
reply
Seattle, WA
Share this story
Delete

In Case You Didn’t Notice, The Matrix Resurrections Is a Trans Love Story

4 Shares

The Matrix Resurrections

If you pay attention to a certain sphere of film criticism, you’ve likely already come across analysis of The Matrix that couches it in the transgender perspective of its filmmakers: a story about unplugging from a world that forces you to live how it sees fit, the focus on Thomas Anderson’s transformation into Neo and the importance of seizing that change within himself, the continual pressure from outside forces (particularly in the form in Agent Smith) to literally “rebox” himself into the Matrix and take on the path that machine overlords have chosen for him.

All those who exit the Matrix choose new names for themselves, but its story belongs to “the One.” Neo’s declaration of his true name against Agent Smith’s constant droning to the tune of “Mr. Anderson” serves as an exegesis on intent, selfhood, and personal power. It’s hard to find a more potent or direct metaphor for transness than that. Neo is remaking himself in full view of the world: that’s what transitioning is.

But the first Matrix trilogy was missing something from that equation.

[Spoilers for The Matrix Resurrections.]

While Keanu Reeves is never the wrong person to build a story around, the Matrix trilogy was hampered by its reliance on the “chosen one” narrative, which makes for great drama, but hackneyed messaging. The idea that one special person can save all of us, that it’s on their shoulders alone, can be as trite as it is false—as much as it might appeal to modern individualism, no one saves the world alone. The Matrix films worked to show this to audiences by surrounding Neo with people who were more than ready to act for the future they wanted: Morpheus and Niobe, Captain Mifune, Zee and Kid, Sati, the Oracle, legions of people living in Zion, and of course, Trinity.

Trinity. The woman whose love and belief powered Neo through any number of struggles, through impossible battles and hardships. The woman who brought Neo to his destiny at the expense of her own life, and then his.

It’s not wrong for epic stories to end on a bittersweet trill, but losing Trinity that way could only be disappointing. She always seemed underserved despite showing her worth over and over again. And while Neo was something of a cypher as main characters go, Trinity’s sharp characterization seemed to fall away as the films continued. It never struck right.

So it’s only fair that she received a resurrection on par with Neo’s creation. One that put her on footing equal to his, and crystalized the transgender allegory within the Matrix narrative.

The Matrix Resurrections re-ups its transgender thematics first through Neo; he was the origin story, after all, and his remaking needs a little extra something in the construction. Once he makes the decision to take his new red pill and exit the Matrix once again, Bugs reveals that he’d stayed hidden from them for so long because his “DSI” was altered—his appearance, in layman terms. We see his reflection once or twice in mirrors and find out that to others in the Matrix, Neo looks entirely different.

The Matrix Resurrections

Screenshot: Warner Bros.

Let me reiterate: the Matrix system forcibly altered Neo’s image so that he would appear as someone he wasn’t. Specifically the image of a “balding old man,” an outward appearance that would be particularly resonant and difficult for an older generation of trans woman who didn’t have the ability or resources to transition in their youth (or possibly ever). Neo has been effectively closeted by the Matrix in a manner that very specifically denotes transness.

(As an interesting sidenote, Bugs saw through this illusion; she exited the Matrix years ago when Neo “attempted suicide” after a party for his hit video game—in actuality, he was attempting to fly again. Bugs was washing windows on the building and saw the real Neo, prompting her rescue from the system. This might indicate that Bugs herself falls somewhere under the trans umbrella, perhaps as a nonbinary person.)

When Neo is rescued again, he’s plugged into his old training ground with the new iteration of Morpheus, a program he created as a game designer to aid in his escape. Back in the dojo again, Morpheus puts him on “The One Fitness Plan,” telling Neo that he’ll have to fight if he wants to live… but Neo has decided that he’s done fighting. Morpheus proceeds to beat him savagely, but not without purpose. “They taught you good,” he says, pacing toward his bruised and bloodied friend. “Made you believe that their world was all you deserved.”

That thought can apply to any intersection of marginalized identities, but there’s a laser-focused quality to it from a trans perspective. The exhausting act of being trained to behave as your assigned gender from the moment you’re born and slapped into a color-coded onesie. The knowledge of those gendered expectations permeating all facets of existence. Life as a pretense, pretending to be someone you’re not every single day, and only for the comfort of others, even people you don’t know.

Neo eventually fights back, but not for his own sake. Morpheus finally plays his high card, that he knows precisely why Neo agreed to take the red pill when he appeared reticent: he wants Trinity back.

***

Neo saw her at his coffee shop almost daily inside the Matrix, a woman named “Tiffany” who had two children and the most familiar face he’d ever seen. After being awkwardly introduced to her via a tactless and vile coworker, the two eventually got coffee together. Tiffany admitted that she’d looked “Thomas” up after finding out that he was a famous game designer. She told him that she liked the character of Trinity from his game, that they had a love of motorcycles in common. Then she admitted that she showed the game to her husband, and asked him: Don’t you think she looks like me?

Her husband laughed at her.

“And I laughed too,” she tells Neo, “like it was a joke—how could it not be, right? Made me so angry. I hated myself for laughing. I wanted to kick him, so hard. Not too hard, maybe just… hard enough to break his jaw off.”

The pain emanating from that anger is cutting and so real—being dismissed by someone close to you will do that. Being made to think of yourself as a punchline. Being denied when you think you’ve found a true expression that fits your self-image. A moment later, Tiffany is interrupted by a phone call, and reaches into her purse. Neo looks down and catches her reflection briefly in the glare of the tabletop… and he sees a completely different person.

The Matrix Resurrections

Screenshot: Warner Bros.

It’s then that you realize that Neo and Trinity have both been altered by the Matrix to appear different. Tiffany’s husband is laughing because the Matrix is working to deny her at each turn, but also because she genuinely doesn’t look like the video game’s Trinity to him. She looks like someone else. And it’s awful—or it would be, if this moment didn’t confirm something far more important:

Neo and Trinity can see each other. Exactly as they are.

The Matrix Resurrections

Screenshot: Warner Bros.

In many ways, I think that there is no joy more clarifying than being a trans person in love with another trans person. Because they can see you, and you can see them. Because you both know how it feels when the world glosses you over, gilds you in trappings that ache more each day, and punishes you when you don’t fit. When you’re a trans person in love with another trans person, there is no need to act anything out. Physical transition or not, with hormone replacement or without, dysphoria raging or mercifully quiet, it doesn’t make a whit of difference: they will always see the person you want to be.

And Neo can see Trinity. And she can see him.

***

Neo eventually learns how he and Trinity were resurrected in a talk with the Analyst, who explains how this new Matrix is balanced. The Analyst quickly found that keeping Neo and Trinity together led to disaster for his plans—but too far apart was an equally dangerous situation. Instead, he learned to keep them close, but never together: in each other’s periphery, but never near enough to touch.

The humans on the outside read Trinity’s code and find her to be pure “blue pill.” They’re worried she won’t make the choice to leave the Matrix, and it’s a choice they’ll have to respect, even if they enact their elaborate rescue plan. Lexi takes a quiet moment to ask Neo if perhaps the old Trinity is gone for good, and Neo replies: “I never believed I was The One. But she did. She believed in me. It’s my turn to believe in her.”

The Matrix Resurrections

Screenshot: Warner Bros.

The differences in Neo and Trinity’s journeys illustrate two distinct and common roads to transness: Neo doesn’t feel safe or powerful enough to claim ownership of himself. He needs the belief and love of others to find his power, but even then, it’s perhaps not as difficult as he’d like to shove him back into the program. Neo never quite believes that he lives up to that image he wants for himself. (And Trinity has always believed, of course, because Trinity can see always see him.) For Trinity, it’s less about safety or belief, and more about that niggling, gritty, horrifying feeling that something is wrong. She doesn’t remember choosing her life. She doesn’t see who other people see when they look at her. She doesn’t like the sound of her own name.

At one point, Neo tries to call her Trinity before she’s ready, and she replies, “You shouldn’t call me that.”

Not that she doesn’t want him to. But he shouldn’t.

Neo gets one chance to rescue the love of his resurrected life, and the choice lies with her. She sits with him at the same coffee shop table, and he tries to explain that the game he wrote was real, that they are the characters within it. She admits that she feels like she has been waiting her whole life for him, and wonders what took him so long. He tells her that he’s not sure, that maybe he was afraid of this very scenario, one that could end with him losing her.

The Matrix Resurrections

Screenshot: Warner Bros.

Like clockwork, the program kicks in hard, and Tiffany’s family come to retrieve her; their dog was hit by a car, and the dog was hit chasing after her. They drag her away, toward the door of the coffee shop, and she follows, unable to conceive of the reality where she is that person she longs to be so badly. But then she looks back to see Neo laid out before a firing squad as her husband begins shouting—she isn’t listening, so he calls to her. Tiffany, you have to come with us.

And there’s the breaking point: hearing that damn name one more time.

“I wish you would fucking stop calling that,” she gasps. “I hate that name. My name is Trinity. And you better take your hands off of me.”

The catharsis of that declaration is something that many trans people know intimately. And there are layers here for Trinity that Neo never had first time around; she is railing against the physical dysphoria of being seen as an entirely different person and being implicitly aware of that fact, of being a wife and mother when she never agreed to those roles, of being inundated with run-of-the-mill sexism every day. She is fighting against those rules and parameters because she knows something is wrong with the world she sees… but also because he believes in her.

The Analyst knew they couldn’t be left together. Because if transness is this powerful on its own, how much more powerful will it be to the power of two?

The Matrix Resurrections

Screenshot: Warner Bros.

It’s different this time. We’re not waiting for Trinity to dodge bullets—we’re waiting for her to reach Neo. The two of them fight their way toward each other, surrounded by a sea of SWAT cops that the Analyst hopes will hold them at bay. When they touch, light explodes all around and everyone is thrown aside… except for them. The fight isn’t over, so they hop on Trinity’s motorcycle to escape. Neo uses his newfound powers to shield them from everything the Matrix throws. And when it looks like they’re cornered on a rooftop, with Neo’s powers of flight still nowhere to be found, they make the choice to jump off the building anyway.

And it turns out that Trinity could fly this whole time, too.

The Matrix Resurrections is a movie about a lot of things. But if you think there’s any conceivable reality in which one of those things isn’t Neo and Trinity’s trans love saving the world? There’s nothing I can do for you. You’re taking the blue pill, sweetie.

“We can’t go back,” says Trinity of the Matrix and their lives within it, looking out over a city that doesn’t exist.

And Neo promises: “We won’t.”

The Matrix Resurrections

Screenshot: Warner Bros.

And The Matrix Resurrections takes the story of The One and makes it about two, about transformation and rebirth, and most importantly, about how it feels to be in love with someone who sees you… exactly as you truly are.

Emmet Asher-Perrin isn’t saying that this movie came out in the exact moment that they needed it, but they’re not not saying that. You can bug them on Twitter, and read more of their work here and elsewhere.

Read the whole story
CrystalDave
130 days ago
reply
Seattle, WA
jepler
130 days ago
reply
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
angelchrys
131 days ago
reply
Overland Park, KS
Share this story
Delete

jwz: Today on Sick Sad World: How The Cryptobros Have Fallen

jwz
5 Shares
Or, the through-line from Assassination Politics to monkey JPEGs.

The joke goes, "Stop saying you were promised flying cars. Unless you were born in 1935, you weren't promised flying cars, you were promised a cyberpunk corporate dystopia. You're welcome."

Or, in the immortal words of Blank Reg, "You know how we said 'No Future'? Well. This is it."

In the 80s and 90s, hacker culture was flush with tech utopians who thought that computer networks in general, and cryptography in particular, would allow them to route around the world's problems. These nerdy, young, sheltered, wealthy white men believed that you could code your way to freedom and good governance, and they could thereby avoid the yoke of whatever oppression they were suffering.

For many of these people, the oppression they felt seemed mainly to be paying taxes, or being told that they couldn't hoard guns, or that they simply couldn't get to do whatever they wanted to do whenever they wanted to do it. That latter particularly sociopathic part of hacker culture now calls itself "black hat", but the Libertarian end of it, that metastasized out of hacker culture and took over the tech industry in toto.

So there was this guy name Jim Bell.

He really, really hated paying taxes.

And in 1995, he published an essay on the "cypherpunks" mailing list called "Assassination Politics". It is long and rambling, but the gist of it is this:

I speculated on the question of whether an organization could be set up to legally announce that it would be awarding a cash prize to somebody who correctly "predicted" the death of one of a list of violators of rights, usually either government employees, officeholders, or appointees. It could ask for anonymous contributions from the public, and individuals would be able send those contributions using digital cash.

I also speculated that using modern methods of public-key encryption and anonymous "digital cash," it would be possible to make such awards in such a way so that nobody knows who is getting awarded the money, only that the award is being given. Even the organization itself would have no information that could help the authorities find the person responsible for the prediction, let alone the one who caused the death.

So basically, Silk Road meets Kickstarter but for freelance hit-men. It's the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory, but with sniper rifles.

And this wasn't satire! He really thought this was a good idea, a thing that should be built, and that only the "bad" people would suffer from an epidemic of 9mm tumors.

Remember, this is a guy who said things like, "Tax collection constitutes aggression, and anyone assisting in the effort or benefiting from the proceeds thereof is a criminal."

Later, Bell devoted his time to finding and publishing the home addresses of IRS employees. That's right, he pioneered doxxing! The FBI was not pleased with this, and it did not go well for him. The cypherpunks were also not pleased with this, because by their ethos, those addresses were a matter of public record, so how could doxxing be unethical or even illegal?

Fast-forward thirty years, and here we are now, in this, the Year Of Our Blade Runner, 2022. The infrastructure that this guy was fantasizing about has moved from its infancy to the mainstream. Public-key cryptography is widely accessible, and it's possible in practice to conspire and exchange value anonymously, if you do your OpSec right and don't post selfies from the scene of the crime. Theoretically. (It's a big "if", because there are no Moriartys.)

What have these Libertarian crypto-bro idealists built?

The cryptocurrency industry, whose business model would seem unrealistic and ham-handed if it was a villain on Captain Planet: they manufacture only POLLUTION, nothing else, and they turn that into money.

They call it a "currency" but the only thing you can do with it is pay ransom after your computer was hacked! You can't even use it to buy porn!

And make no mistake, if you can't use a thing to buy porn, that thing is not a currency. Cryptocurrencies are Itchy & Scratchy Money.

And their new product, the one that is getting all the press these days? They re-invented the "International" Star Registry con. "I am the Mayor of this 64 digit hash!" The new killer app is people speculating on receipts for links to automatically-recolored cartoon monkeys.

And people and organizations who absolutely should know better -- The Long Now Foundation, The Internet Archive (keep fucking that potato), Mozilla, and so many others -- are still adding cryptocurrencies to their checkout options like it's not a god damned planet killer.

But at least Bell's crackpot idea of turning every couch potato who feels victimized by what they saw on the teevee into a bargain basement Eric Prince didn't come to pass. At least being a school shooter isn't usually profitable for the shooter.

At least there are no Moriartys.

They promised us Bond villains with lasers and unhackable data centers in atmosphere-evacuated vaults in international waters. What they gave us was the banality of day-traders, armchair finance-bros with laser-eye avatars, who are unable to give up on the grift because the grift requires that they must always find the greater fool.

I sometimes joke that we deserve a better class of villain.

But I guess we don't. This is what we built, and we're getting exactly what we deserve.


Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

Tags: big brother, computers, conspiracies, corporations, doomed, dunning-krugerrands, firstperson, grim meathook future, security, the future

Read the whole story
CrystalDave
133 days ago
reply
Seattle, WA
jepler
133 days ago
reply
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
Share this story
Delete
Next Page of Stories