IT, AI, and Us

Like thousands of people, I recently received a message from Google:
On May 30, you may lose access to apps that are using
less secure sign-in technology

To help keep your account secure, Google will no longer support the use of third-party apps or devices which ask you to sign in to your Google Account using only your username and password. Instead, you’ll need to sign in using Sign in with Google or other more secure technologies, like OAuth 2.0. Learn more

What do you need to do?
Email software, like Outlook 2016 or earlier, has less secure access to your Gmail. Switch to Office 365, Outlook 2019 or newer, or any other email software where you can sign in using Sign in with Google. Learn more.

Hm. Okay then. I wanted to keep my gmail address, so I’d update to Outlook 2019. End of story. Right. Not by a looooooooooooooooooooong shot.

First, I had to upgrade to Windows 10, because Outlook 2019 doesn’t work on Windows 7. Upgrading to Windows 10 took several days because I hadn’t kept up to date with the Windows 7 updates. (Why? Because every time I installed an update, something stopped working or some setting got changed and it took me forever to figure out how to change it back.)

Upgrading to Outlook 2019 also took several days. Why? Because I didn’t realize I had to ‘compact’ my pst file before it would upload. Go figure.

But once I had Outlook 2019, I figured I’d turn off the ‘Allow less secure apps’ (which I’d had turned on, to allow Outlook 2007 to send and receive) and be good to go.

No. I did that (though it took ten minutes to find the oh-so-critical ‘allow less secure apps’ setting at the gmail site), but what happened was the same thing that had happened when I’d turned it off with my previous version of Outlook: a pop-up message appeared asking for my password (even though it was right there); I’d enter it (again), then click okay; it would ask again; I’d enter it again, click okay; it would ask again …

So now what? I thought having Outlook 2019 was supposed to solve the problem.

I went back to the original message from Google and clicked on the ‘Learn more’ links. They were not helpful. One of them said “If ‘Less secure app access’ is still on for your account, we recommend turning it off now and switching to more secure apps. … If ‘Less secure app access’ is turned off for your account, you can turn it back on. We recommend switching to more secure apps instead.” What? (Besides which, I’d already changed to a more secure app, Outlook 2019.)

Any instructions as to how to use those more secure apps (since just installing them was apparently not sufficient)? Nope. Following the other link just gave me a list of benefits are of using more secure apps.

I eventually found these instructions:
1. Go to an app or service you trust.
2. On the sign in page, select Sign in with Google, Log in with Google, or Join with Google.
You should only grant permission if you trust the app or service. The app or service may also automatically sign you in the next time you use it.

I don’t have a smartphone. I live where internet access is unreliable and even so, costs $60 for 7GB at the speed of 1.2mbps. So I don’t use apps. I have a laptop. I use programs. (Are programs now called apps?) I trust Outlook (or used to). But it has no sign in page. So now what?

What happened next was an week-long day journey through hell. I did dozens of searches, clicked on dozens of supposedly helpful websites … Eventually I found a couple chat sites, full of people as mystified as me, and as angry and as frustrated … the blind leading the blind …

Eventually I realized that I needed a Google Password. Okay …

But before that, I needed to engage the 2-factor authorization. (Great. So now whenever I log in to my gmail account directly at the gmail site, I have to also use my phone? To get the code that will enable me to use my email?) No matter. It didn’t work. The gmail site told me that my phone number couldn’t be called. I have no idea why. No explanation was given. (Surprise.) Three days later, it decided my phone number could be called.

Okay, back to getting a Google Password. I followed the instructions and got a password. So far, so good. Next, I was supposed to replace my current Outlook account password with the Google password. Okay, I can do that.

No, I can’t. Where are my account settings in Outlook 2019? In Outook 2007, they were in ‘Tools’. In Outlook 2019, there is no ‘Tools’. No ‘Accounts’. No ‘Settings’ …

Back to an internet search to find out where my account settings are. They’re in ‘File’. What? ‘File’ means ‘to arrange, to categorize’. ‘File’ is where I’d expect to find tasks like save, move, delete … Not account settings. Bloody hell. This is what happens when it’s our C students, our incompetents, who go into IT …

Regardless, I go to ‘File’, then ‘Account Settings’, and am thrilled to see that there’s a link to ‘Change settings for this account’. I click on it. And cannot change the password. It’s just a one-stop something—you click ‘Okay’ and it tells you something’s been updated. I have no idea what. So apparently the guys at Google don’t know what ‘change’ means either.

I eventually found account settings where I could actually change the password. Guess where. No, guess again. No, guess again. They’re in ‘Send/Receive’, then ‘Send/Receive Groups’, then ‘Define send/receive groups’, then ‘Edit’, then ‘Account properties’. I replace my current password with the Google password. Didn’t work. WTF!

So I search the internet again and discover that I can find my email account settings on Windows 10 (Search, Control Panel, Mail, Outlook), bypassing Outlook altogether. Okay. I find them, change the password, and … damn near toss my laptop out the window. Because that didn’t solve the problem either.

However, I did discover that I could set up a new email account (not at Outlook, silly; at Windows, Search, Control Panel, Mail, Outlook), which worked without any hassle, but I noticed it was an imap account (Windows/Google set it up automatically—all I had to do was enter a [new] email address), whereas my current account is a pop account. Does that matter? Who knows? Apparently no one at Google. Because there is no mention of this anywhere in relation to any of this. But setting up that imap account DID get me to the critical ‘Sign in with Google’ step, and from there, it did its thing on its own in less than a minute. So I tried reconfiguring my current pop account into an imap account. Couldn’t.

Back to another internet search. I find another blind-leading-the-blind chat site and on page six, I see that someone says they clicked Send/Receive in Outlook and when the failure-indicating pop-up window appeared asking them to (re)enter their password, they entered their new Google password. Ah. So I did that. AND IT WORKED! IT WORKED! I CAN NOW SEND AND RECEIVE EMAIL THROUGH OUTLOOK 2019 WITH THE ‘ENABLE LESS SECURE APPS’ SETTING TURNED OFF!!! I AM NOW READY FOR MAY 30!!!!!!!!!!

Now. I’m not an unintelligent person. It shouldn’t have been this hard. (To accommodate Google’s new security requirements.) But it was. It took NINE FUCKING HOURS!!!!! Over the course of SEVEN FUCKING DAYS. (And that was AFTER the several days it took to upgrade to Windows 10 and install Outlook 2019.)

There must be thousands of people like me, wanting to keep their gmail addresses, wanting to be able to file email messages in folders, but using what is now considered a ‘less secure’ version of Outlook. Why wasn’t there a simple, and complete, list of instructions provided by Google or Windows or Outlook or somebody?

At one point, I decided I’d just call Google Support and ask someone to walk me through, but such assistance is available only to those with a 365 subscription. So is that why? They want to make it near impossible so we’ll change to 365 and pay the subscription? Maybe.

But I suspect, instead, it’s because no one at Google can provide a simple, and complete, list of instructions. They’re C students, remember? More than that, they’re male.

Think about it. What do you want in a programmer?

You want someone who’s fussy, someone who pays attention to detail, someone who sweats the small stuff. Who did I just describe? Women. (This is not exactly small stuff, but I’m reminded of a comment by a male politician, quoted by Sieghart in The Authority Gap, indicating that incumbent women are typically far more prepared than incumbent men—they actually read the briefs ahead of time.)

You also want someone who’s neat, someone who knows where things go and puts them there. I’d call this being organized, but it’s just as appropriately called being logical. Logic is all about relationships: categorical logic is about the relationships between things, between categories; propositional logic is about relationship between premise and conclusion, between propositions (often involving cause and effect). Either way, you want women.

You also want someone who’s good at language. Again, women.

And you want someone who thinks of others (or, as the male mentality identifies them, users) (interesting, that). You want someone who anticipates what others need and provides it.

Men are not fussy, they don’t pay attention to detail, they don’t sweat the small stuff. They give broad stroke orders to their subordinates (typically, women) and expect them to deal with the details. ‘Set up a conference for April’; ‘I need to be in Boston next week, take care of that.’ Men may make a few swipes in the bathroom, but they don’t scrape around the faucets or clean behind the toilet. All those updates we keep getting? They used to be called ‘patches’. For holes, for mistakes made in previous programming, for the little things that got missed. Wonder no more why there’s an endless stream of updates.

Men toss their stuff wherever and expect others, typically women, to clean up after them. It’s not logical to put account settings in File. It’s not logical to make changing the password when actually sending/receive work, but not changing it in the actual account settings. As for relationships? Cause and effect? They’re not very good at that either. From engaging in sex without a condom to dumping hazardous waste into the oceans …

Men are not good with language. (File. Change.)

Men don’t think of others. It wouldn’t even occur to them to be helpful. They wouldn’t be able to empathize, to imagine what help is needed. When the pst file wouldn’t upload in Outlook 2019, it would’ve been helpful to have a pop-up message appear explaining why and what to do about it. It would be even more helpful to provide a link to ‘The ten most common reasons for Outlook 2019 failing to install are …’ followed by solutions for each. And of course, it would have been helpful to have been provided with a step-by-step list of instructions for dealing with the new security—a list that is clear, coherent, and complete.
And why is all of this a concern? After all, most fields are full of men. I mean incompetents.

Yes, but programmers create programs. And incompetent programmers create incompetent programs. (So AI no longer stands for Artificial Intelligence, but Artificial Idiocy.)

And that’s a concern because we are increasingly turning over our work, our lives, to such programs. Algorithms are making important decisions. Algorithms designed by incompetents. So not only are such programs annoying and frustrating, they can be downright dangerous.

I recently decided to change my auto insurance to CAA, and the first broker I dealt with made so many mistakes, I changed brokers; the last straw on this camel’s back was that even though I’d told her more than once that the distance to the nearest fire hall was 13 km, the policy indicated 2 km. Curiously, the next broker made the very same mistake. What are the odds, I wondered? Then I noticed a little box in the bottom corner of page three titled ‘Fire Hall Survey Tool’ or some such, with the distance to the nearest fire hall indicated as 1.694 km. That’s awfully exact, I thought. And that’s when I hypothesized that both brokers had been using an algorithm that hadn’t been programmed to distinguish between ‘road’ and ‘drive’ (the distance to the nearest fire hall from 38 Allen Road may well be 2 km [perhaps even 1.694 km]; the distance from 38 Allen Drive is 13 km). Turns out my hypothesis was correct. So it wasn’t the broker who was framing me for insurance fraud; it was the idiot algorithm. Fortunately, the second broker’s supervisor was able to over-ride the program (which, I now think, probably over-rode the brokers who initially entered the correct information) (and trusted the program and so didn’t check its results) (or didn’t even realize it was over-riding their work); she manually entered the correct distance and made it ‘stick’ (which, as suspected, increased my premium) (but at least now I’ll be covered when the forest fires reach my house).

Consider the algorithm (mentioned by Sieghart) that shortlists applicants for a job by cutting those who have not graduated from the schools from which current employees have graduated. The workplace continued to be white male dominated. Duh.

Consider the algorithms that limit our freedom of speech by recognizing key words but not context. And so an online discussion about breastfeeding is deemed pornographic and prevented.

Or consider any one of the thousands of customer service interactions you’ve had. (AI has not improved the quality of customer service; my guess is it was never intended to; it was intended to increase revenue by reducing labour costs.) For example, I recently sent an email to ZTE asking which wifi router model had an input for an external antenna. I received a reply asking for the model number of the unit, when I purchased it, and where. I replied ‘Did you even read my query? I don’t have one. I want to buy one. I’d like to know which one has an input for an external antenna so I know which one to buy.’ I received a reply asking for the model number of the unit, when I purchased it, and where. ‘How stupid are you? Did you even READ my message?’ I eventually realized there probably wasn’t a ‘you’ on the other end. It was an AI program that recognized a few key words and selected response #6.

What’s worse is that humans are told to act like programs. So when you finally get to talk to a real human being, the result is no different; they’ve been instructed to limit their responses to the same incomplete and error-ridden list (sorry, menu—at its base, his is all about consumption) used by the program. They’ve been instructed to act like idiot programs, not like human beings. They’ve been instructed not to think, not to actually take the initiative and solve the problem at hand.

My overall point? The greater our use of idiot programs (created by idiot programmers), the more likely our world will be full of frustrations and injustices—and bereft of human agency.


So much time advocating heterosexual marriage

There’s a reason we devote so much time to getting little girls invested in the idea of heterosexual marriage. Imagine if we told them that there is a single life choice that will: -shorten their life expectancy -lower their earning power -immediately increase their household labor -erode their mental health and make them less happy -cause their libido to decline, and mean that they have fewer orgasms -weaken relationships with family and friends -increase their risk of abuse and violence -increase their risk of depression, anxiety, and trauma That choice is marriage. Marriage is a great deal for heterosexual men. They earn more, have more leisure time, live longer, become healthier. Heterosexual women sacrifice their quality of life, their well-being, and their very lives at the altar of men’s happiness. That’s not an opinion. There is an avalanche of scientific data showing that marriage is bad for women and great for men. That’s why we have to indoctrinate little girls from a young age. Because the objective material circumstances of marriage are not something most women would willingly choose. Not all marriages are like this, of course. It is possible to have an egalitarian, joyful marriage. And we must emphasize this fact. We must emphasize that men do not inevitably force women to carry an unfair load of work. This is not inevitable. It is a choice. Men make the choice to buy their leisure, their time, their happiness and well-being on the backs of women they claim to love. We tell women to accept this, that it’s normal, that he’s a good guy as long as he doesn’t beat her. It doesn’t have to be this way. Household inequity is a form of abuse with real and long-lasting consequences for women’s well-being. Not all men are this way. Not all marriages are this way. None of them have to be. Demand better. And stop telling girls to look forward to marriage. They probably shouldn’t. Give them tools and books and crafts, not princesses and fairytales. Zawn reposted from Share

something fundamentally male about escaping to Mars…

“And there is something fundamentally male about this narrative of exit [establishing colonies on Mars, for example], of escape as a means toward the nobility of self-determination.  The cultural critic Sarah Sharma has argued for an understanding of exit as an exercise of patriarchal power, ‘a privilege that occurs at the expense of cultivating and sustaining conditions of collective autonomy.’  It’s a force that she places in opposition to the more traditionally maternal value of ‘care.’  The politics of exit are pursued, she insists, at the expense of pa politics of care.  ‘Care,’ she writes, ‘is that which responds to the uncompromisingly tethered nature of human dependency and the contingency of life, the mutual precariousness of the human condition.  Women’s exit is hardly ever on the table, given that women have historically been unable to choose when to leave or enter inequitable power relations, let alone enter and exist in a carefree manner.'”  (p.131, italics mine) from Mark O’Connell, Notes from an Apocalypse Share

Kathleen Stock, Material Girls – a few quotes and notes

“So: it follows from the logic of [Judith] Butler’s worldview [social constructionism] not only that there are not two naturally pre-given, stable biological sexes, but also that there are no pre-given facts about natural selection. There is no sexual reproduction. There are no pre-given chemical elements or biological species. There is no climate change, at least not as commonly understood. There are no molecules, atoms, or quarks. There are no viruses and no bacteria; no successful drugs nor placebos. … ” (p63)

No wonder social constructionism is so appealing: knowledge doesn’t matter; learning about anything is useless—don’t bother.

“And an advertisement for the American Mariposa Health clinic, which provides ‘gender-affirming hormone therapy, from anywhere’, exhorts prospective clients to ‘Live your authentic life’. (p113)

Imagine that slogan for Prozac: live your authentic life.

“In this context, treating males with female gender identities as women in every possible context … sends a contemptuously dismissive message to women already conscious of unequal treatment of their interests. This messages says: the interests of males with female gender identities are more important than yours.” (p160)


“As trans scholar Jack (then Judith) Halberstam wrote in 1998: ‘If adolescence for boys represents a rite of passage … and an ascension to some version (however attenuated) of social power, for girls, adolescence is a lesson in restraint, punishment, and repression.'” (p192).

Indeed. (And no wonder girls don’t want to be girls.)

“A 2015 survey found the average sixteen-to twenty-five-year-old woman spends over five hours a week taking selfies.” (p233)

Seriously? We used to call such women airheads.


from Dark Orbit, Carolyn Ives Gilman – God is watching and buzzwords

“His belief system teaches that God is watching him every second, literally. Can you imagine the invasion of privacy?” (p32)

“That’s what buzzwords are. Tranquilizers.”
“Thought suppressants, you mean.” (p33)


Can’t decide which is more appalling …

While reading Laura Bates’ Men Who Hate Women, a scene from a movie based on a true story about a young woman who was captured by a man and kept imprisoned/enslaved by him for years popped into my head: at one point, she was allowed outside to help him wash his car or something and at great risk, she turned away from him and covertly held up her chained hands so a watching neighbour, an older man, could see. The look on the neighbour man’s face has stayed with me: one part ‘none of my business’ and one part confusion (because why is she showing him that she’s into some kind of kinky stuff?). I can’t decide which is more appalling.


And the production of porn is not a hate crime


A sexy pout??

So I read the phrase “a sexy pout” and realized yes! That’s what that look is, when women thrust out their lips and look so sad. They’re pouting. And they do it to look sexy. Wait, what? Why is a pout sexy?  Children pout.  So if a pout is sexy, that means that men are sexually aroused by children.  Well, we know that, I guess. Is it hard-wired? Well, that wouldn’t make evolutionary sense. It doesn’t ‘contribute to reproductive sex’ to ejaculate into a female child; she can’t get pregnant. Is it because sex is all about conquest for men, and children are easily conquered? And, but, why is sex all about conquest? Why is ‘power over’ sexually arousing? Is that hard-wired? Or socially conditioned? Whatever, women who pout to be sexy are encouraging child abuse. So just stop it. And men? Oh, what’s the point. They won’t listen. They don’t care. They’ll just carry on hurting children. Share

Men Who Hate Men: the extremism nobody is talking about, Laura Bates

I highly recommend this book! (Laura Bates is the person behind “Everyday Sexism” for those of you who don’t know …)

A few quotes and notes …

About all the pick-up artist sites (p79) teaching men what to say and do, how to trick a woman into having sex with him – They must not believe that a woman could actually like them, want to be with them, want to have sex with them. And they’re probably right.

“… one recent study [found] that just a quarter of young people were ever taught about consent at school” (p87). You have to be taught not to force someone to do something??

Maybe it’s not that women lie about rape (p98); maybe it’s that their definition of rape differs from that of men’s. Maybe many men think that forced sex is just sex. Such men have likely never had unforced sex.

Re trolls (p144) – When they say they’re just trying to provoke a reaction, I think that’s just a cover, like saying it was just a joke. They’re lying. They really mean it.

Saying that a non sequitur is an intentional derailment (which is what Bates and many others claim) is often giving too much credit. A non sequitur is almost always the result of not understanding the presented argument and so not understanding what’s relevant and what’s not. Happens all the time. (And it’s pretty much why I’ve stopped talking to people. No one can follow an argument any more. Let alone make an argument.)

Re ‘she cheated on me’ (some guy’s wife had sex with someone else) – I never really considered that before, calling it ‘cheating’. To cheat is to do something unfair. I guess it’s unfair in that it’s breaking the rules, the rules being no extra-marital sex. But incels also invoke fairness when talking about sexual access. So it might not be ‘Unfair, you’re breaking the rules’ but ‘Unfair, you’re supposed to provide sexual access only to me’—which the incels then turn into ‘Unfair, you’re supposed to provide sexual access to anyone who wants it.’ Presumably they mean only unmarried ‘you’ people, because otherwise they’d have a war on their hands with married men.

“He has advised men to expose themselves and start masturbating in front of women, in an attempt to harass them into having sex” (p155-6). Yeah. That’ll make me want you.

Re women’s purpose is to have babies and care for those children (p180) – Ah. I just realized why some men are so insistent about that. It’s because they don’t want to take care of those children. They could, of course, just stop making them (or support the provision of contraception and abortion), but their masculinity (which they stupidly continue to accept) depends on them having children. (And as their sperm continues to become less and less viable, they’ll more and more blame the women …)

Re women ‘have the upper hand when it comes to deciding who can and cannot have sex’ (p226) – Like men never say ‘no’? Hm. Guess not. (They’ll fuck anything that moves. Actually, they’ll even fuck it if it’s not moving.) So if not for women, our evolution would be the result of men’s choices, which are completely indiscriminate. Yeah, that’s a good alternative.

Re ‘Sorry ladies, but a clumsy pass over dinner is NOT a sex assault’ (Daily Mail headline) (p241) – What was that clumsy pass—a pat on the bum? Why not just use your words? Ah. Because men are linguistically challenged. (And note the sport metaphor. It’s all a game, is it? And you just want to win? Though apparently they’re cognitively challenged as well, because one passes to someone on the same team.)

And ‘the idea of a woman playing hard to get’ (p242) – I’ve always thought that meant she’s being a tease. Now I’m thinking it means she’s saying no. And maybe it’s meant that all along … A lot of the time.)

Re “‘Time to stop being ‘charming’ to waitresses. Time to stop trying to make women laugh … One misfired flirt and I could be out of a job …'” (p246-7) – Yes! Stop it all! Be nice, like you are to other men, that’s it! If you want to get to know someone better, man or woman, ask them out for coffee or whatever it is you typically do.

“But this argument goes up in a puff of smoke when you point out the curious fact that these men, who claim to have no idea these behaviours are sexual or inappropriate, are nonetheless not acting in this manner towards other men” (p258). YES!!!

“When I visit schools, extraordinary though it sounds, I frequently hear young people say that ‘rape is a compliment really’ or ‘crying is part of foreplay’. At one school, at which they had had a rape case involving a 14-year-old boy, a teacher asked: ‘Why didn’t you stop when she was crying?’ The boy looked back at her, bewildered, and said: ‘because it’s normal for girls to cry during sex.'” (p271). What? WHAT??? (And does he get that from porn or from his parents’ bedroom?) (Or both?) So … we need to flood the internet with videos of joyous sex, sex that makes you smile?

Re ‘When did rape become a crime?’ (p279) – Um, when physical assault became a crime? ‘Men used to go around raping bishes all the time.’ Good god, how does a man here and now actually honestly believe this shit???

“It is ironic that so much pressure is brought to bear on women to allow for the humanity and individuality of fallible men when it is precisely this courtesy that incels unfailingly refuse to pay to women” (p316). Well-said.

“I’m reminded of David Sherratt, whose journey out of the manosphere was so simply facilitated by meeting a girl who talked to him” (p318) – What, boys don’t usually talk to girls? And yet, and yet, remembering my own school years, hell, even in my own family, no, they don’t. There was this invisible wall. No boy ever spoke to me. And I certainly never had the courage to speak to a boy. (Yes, it would have required courage. Because they were so … superior … to me.) (I’ve come a long way.) My own brother never spoke to me. Incredible. Well, the good news is this is something schools could easily remedy (now that girls are allowed to attend school…)


God and Abortion

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is godbaby.jpg