Oh god, not another TMI post Fruzs!

TMI because fuck patriarchy… 

I just got off the phone with a debt collector, calling on behalf of Northwestern, and my anger is swelling in my throat and I don’t know if I will be able to swallow it in a timely manner. So hello, here is another TMI update on the health and money woes in my life. Yes yes, for people who have been following this blog for years (um, why?), I still have issues walking, sitting, eating. While that is more than enough reasons for me to angry — all the time, actually, so that my normal includes trying not to glare at the ease at which my co-workers walk around the office– this anger is quite different. Also, I cheat with my food now more often — for example, last night I ate some pizza and my raging heartburn, choking on my phlegm bullshit went away around 3am, so hey, not as bad as last year.

But wait, why would I do this? I needed some comfort, and it’s motherfucking PIZZA okay,  it is even more delicious now that it is forbidden. Also, sometimes I can eat it no problem. I digress.      

I currently owe roughly $600 for a 30 minute doctor’s visit with a specialist who did absolutely nothing except humiliate me.  It’s been more than six months now and I can still see the look of disgust in her face — I am tearing up right now as I type this, calling forth the memory. If I had insurance at the time, perhaps the price wouldn’t sting as much. (Last year BCBS canceled my insurance because they didn’t believe I was an American citizen, this year, because they stopped offering that plan through ObamaCare. Thanks for nothing, assholes!)

But on to the horrible healthcare professional part…Earlier this summer I went to visit a specialist downtown, as recommended by my doctor. The one I was originally referred to, the receptionist on the phone told me, only dealt with upper GI so she recommended I see a different doctor who also dealt with lower GI issues, which fit with my symptoms. What a mistake. I had to wait more than a month, and when the day arrived, waited again in her office for some more time.

The visit started normal enough. I told her of my symptoms, and mentioned sometimes it really hurts during sex, and to sit, and how the pain that sometimes goes down my right leg becomes numbness and weakness, coinciding with the pain in my ass/hip/lower back. I also told her how a year ago, when I took prednisone for a week, it was one of the best weeks of my life — I still think of that week and how little pain I had. She felt around on my stomach and uh huh-ed a bunch as if she was listening. When I finished, she said I probably have some mild IBS (I wish!), advised I continue taking PPI pills, and then, “And you should probably go see a gynecologist about…. that.” Her forehead wrinkled up in disgust when she said this, her “that” all flat as if she was judging me for something I did. “Make sure everything is okay down there.”

It’s hard enough to talk about some of my symptoms because they are already embarrassing enough, but that look of hers? Totally unnecessary. I remember getting immediately ashamed but still nodded affirmative. The problem is my ass not my vagina, I screamed in my head.

So off to the gynecologist I went, to Planned Parenthood, of course, the only affordable outfit out there that won’t charge me exorbitant fees for basic services. It took me a few weeks to get an appointment. The gynecologist there was a kind old lady that chatted with me while prodding deep into my pussy like it was no big deal. She found nothing to be alarmed about up there — it was all “perfect” and working and “many women would kill to have that pH.”

My urine sample, however, revealed I could be very dehydrated, as I had a large amount of ketones and blood in my urine. (I sometimes have blood in my poop, so hey, why not in my urine too amiright?) She prescribed some antibiotics and UTI meds which relieved some of my symptoms days later, and I donated a small amount to Planned Parenthood on the way out. Everyone there was professional and kind and took my concerns seriously and didn’t make me feel like I was gross subhuman.

But $600 for that horrible experience at Northwestern? I will never forget it. Further, I will be reminded of it for months to come now that I set up a payment plan to finally pay it all off. I am also never going back to Northwestern, as long as I can help it.

 

Epilogue of sorts:

I am hoping the next entry in this TMI series will be a definitive diagnosis. Before my insurance was canceled my primary healthcare physician referred me to a neurologist to investigate whether I have nerve damage in my leg related to that time I was hit by a car while on my bike many years ago.

I have insurance through work, now so come January 1st I will finally go to a neurologist NOT at Northwestern, as well as demand my doctor schedule me for an MRI or EMG. I still haven’t gotten one all this time. (X-rays years ago revealed sclerosis on my hips, both sides.) I really doubt I have nerve damage in my leg + depression + serious case of GERD + asthma at this point. I’ve been taking the Wellbutrin for more than a year now and I love it, but the extent of my tiredness doesn’t fit into depression. The constantly feeling like I am in a fog bit, ok that fits, but others, no.  I get out of breath way too easily, am constantly dizzy or nauseous, pass out on the couch immediately after any vaguely vigorous exercise that gets my heart rate up, have muscle spasms that are no longer just confined to my right leg, etc. I have mentally prepared myself for all sorts of possibilities like epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, some bullshit cancer or tumor, and even diabetes… sometimes I get into moods where I feel like I am running out of time, but maybe, oh please maybe, this is all in my head somehow.

Despite all this, I’ve been working on my moonwalk…and it’s not half bad.


can we remember Shanley

for when she got it right?

Because sure she was the PUSSY RIOT of silicon

Valley SJWs but no tits so GTFO

no really, where are the boobs–

but then also, Model View Culture.

new voices to renew, grow and subdue

men feartrembled in the spotlight

when she pointed her finger

INCOMING

so many expletives JESUS

the bombs and tears, wrung hair in hand

urge to pet her head chill sweetie,

empress grace rewound like cassette tape

into a yapping chihuahua

Go home you drunk

shock and awe reverb effect

but come on let’s be real,

the performance is taxing, it would make anyone crack

what do you think dating weev would do?

NOT inspire your inner extremest?

not every woman can be

your super poised princess

on the verge of being

a great warrior Queen,

feminist supreme


Suits & Spooks, Sexism and Sabu: Part 2

It’s been months now since I wrote part 1, and I am still blocked by Jeffrey Carr. This makes me think that he doesn’t get it… get the whole “don’t do all-male panels,” and don’t “speak so disrespectfully about (and to) women in the community” thing.

And this isn’t just about how he treated Jamie — immediately after my blog post, on Twitter Carr questioned my professionalism, implied I was crazy, told me how to do my job and how to blog. And then blocked me.

I didn’t want to write about his ineptitude at finding speakers for his controversial panel for an outlet, because, frankly, I am not a big fan of the whole shaming industry that exists online these days. I was hoping a silly, relatively low-key personal blog post pointing out how problematic his behavior was would be enough. There is something to be said about how clearly out of touch he is with the community he was looking for speakers in, but again, coverage like that is not really my style.

After I posted part 1, I had a few women — professionals — tell me in private their issues with Carr. This made me feel a little better about my blog post, but the silence that resonated from the rest of the women in the industry was really disheartening. I tried to justify their silence with thoughts like …maybe their silence was because Jaime, who is a goddamn legend in that scene, is also a known troll? And the people who came to her defense (and mine) were also trolls and satirists? But if you’re not a troll in infosec, or understand them, then you don’t understand infosec. (Troll here is not to be misconstrued with cyberbully or stalker.)

And then I thought… maybe it is because with trolls, and Anonymous, you have to take anything they say with a grain of salt. Trolls and Anonymous like to manipulate the press for their own agenda, and while I saw some of that in the initial outcry, the intentions were valid and sincere. Even YAN came to Jaime’s defense.

Maybe it is because Carr has been in the scene for what looks like decades, and has worked with the US government and is therefore too big to criticize? Or is it a combination of all three?

I tried to find reasons for this silence, and it made me question myself, until I remembered this is a pattern in this particular community. When that man accused another man of raping his wife, and purchased the domain name of the accused where he posted his plea to the community, there was very little outcry, and no press about it. When that favorite academic was accused of sexual misconduct with his student last year, the community also responded atrociously. The same men who helped organize those Anonymous anti-rape ops spread the name of the victim, and if that wasn’t bad enough, sent threats to the literally 3 women that called out their hypocritical behavior. These women got rape threats too. The most vocal one had semi-nude photos of her shared online to shame her. It was disgusting.

The “sexism in tech” discussion has been raging online for years now, with the mainstream focus on Silicon Valley and the video game community.  Both those sectors have vibrant and active women trying to make those industries better for women and minorities, and have made some substantial strides (even just in terms of public perception) in just a few years. The same could be said for the science community. And the men in those industries are actively listening, and trying.

But this community? Many don’t even want to hear it.


Suits and Spooks, Sexism and Sabu

In 2015, it is only a foolish man that organizes an all-male panel, rescinding a woman’s spot for fear of “drama.”

Yes, this is something akin to a call-out.

On Friday, it came to my attention hacker-troll-type Jaime “asshurtACKflags” Cochran had her speaking privileges at Suits and Spooks revoked. The organizer Jeffrey Carr changed his mind about her spot on the panel, now comprised entirely of males, because he feared potential “drama.” Carr then repeated this term in a comment on his own blog post, writing “I’m also not interested in gossip or drama around this panel.” The panel Cochran was to speak on included two other members of the same trolling crew she belonged to (Rustle League), along with the infamous FBI informant Sabu, now a pariah in the Anonymous community after radicalizing his teammates and then helping arrest them. Needless to say, gossip and drama has surrounded Sabu’s panel even before Cochran was to speak on it…in fact, the Anonymous community has been up in arms over the panel since it was announced last week. Members of the collective are harassing Sabu right now on Twitter as I type this.

Rescinding Cochran’s spot does nothing to alleviate the gossip and drama that surrounds the panel. Further, the choice of words he uses, “gossip and drama” are, no doubt about it, sexist. Gossip and drama are words commonly used to dismiss women, and are gendered words. Carr could have said “controversy” or “argument,” but he didn’t.

In an exchange of DMs between the two made public by Cochran, Carr appears to willfully misunderstand Cochran when she says her presence is the counterpoint to Sabu. You know, for the purpose of a balanced panel. He seems to take it as if Cochran would disrupt the panel and fight Sabu, which would cause …. oh no…..drama!!!!! Carr wants none of it, despite asking Sabu, the drama-llama on the panel, to speak.  Moreover, in the DM exchange Cochran implied no such thing. But but BUT even if she were to disrupt, this is a conference of hackers. Hackers disrupt. She is a troll. Good trolls troll. That’s what they do. Trolls and hackers belong together, they are of the same tree, the same family of internet trouble-makers.

one of the first image results when you google “drama”… notice how one is the opposite of the other?

We can’t give Carr the benefit of the doubt for rescinding Cochran because she was a “troll,” someone who by nature causes controversy… because the two other trolls on the panel, of the same trolling crew as Cochran who happen to be men, are allowed to speak. The only difference between Cochran and the other trolls is…. she is not a man.

The title of the panel in question, that Cochran was supposed to be a counterpoint of, is “Anonymous Operations and Techniques revealed by Former CabinCr3w and Anonymous Members.” When Anonymous affiliates are running operations, members need to watch out for Sabu-types. How can members of Anonymous protect themselves from being arrested, from being entrapped? From having their teammates turn on them? These questions, and thinking about them, are necessary if Anonymous wants to keep carrying out operations. Social engineering, and recognizing infiltrators, are just as important as technical skills. Cochran possesses both.

If her membership in the Anonymous community was any doubt — her being part of a trolling crew that was originally formed to make fun of Anonymous– the largest Anonymous Twitter account YourAnonNews proceeded to tweet support for Cochran. The account even called her the leader of Anonymous. This is, of course, a joke — there are no leaders, in the traditional sense, of Anonymous.

asshurt as leader

Carr did not respond to further questioning on Twitter, but he said in twitter conversation that Cochran was “lying” and “dishonest.” Cochran is trans, and perhaps this was unintentional and Carr didn’t realize how dismissing her by characterizing her as dishonest or deceptive comes across a tad transphobic.  Let’s stick with the “lying” and “dishonest” woman characterization for this post, which is already problematic. Or maybe he meant, because she is a troll, she is a liar and dishonest, but she’s never lied about being a troll … and then there’s the matter of the two other trolls on the panel…

There is something to be said for a troll playing a feminist, and using feminist language to get my attention (and if we were to doubt the outcry of “sexism” among the Anonymous community), but I’ve known Cochran for years now, and I’ve always thought of her as a feminist (in the most basic of ways, regarding equality). See, even in this blog post, I am trying to find ways to discredit Cochran in order to uphold Carr, a phenomenon feminists call internalized misogyny.

The infosec community has long been lambasted as a sexist industry unkind and unwelcoming to women, and Carr’s reasoning for revoking Cochran’s spot only reinforces that image. He can say it was because she was dishonest, and lying, and causing gossip and drama, but those words themselves reinforce said sexist image.

Carr doesn’t seem to be interested, or even care, about how sexist his language is, or about changing the industry to make it more inclusive. Near the end of his blog post, he wrote:

“The bottom line is that I have never and will never edit my choice of speakers for political correctness or to cater to my sponsors. I’ll shutter this event first.”

Women in the industry be damned.


Conversation with Gabriella Coleman about her latest book “Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous”

shelfie hibbard for twitter

Here is the unedited 30 minute conversation/interview with Coleman, three times the length as the one published on CSM’s Passcode

FE: I finally finished your book last night…. at 3 in the morning….  it’s a pretty long book… while I was reading it, it hit me that this book is really about everything that has to do with the modern Internet, so in that way it makes sense why it is so long… you have to provide context for all these different and new concepts that no one has really written about.

GC: that’s something that’s been interesting to see the reviews, a lot of them have been repetitive. It is about Anonymous, but it is about so much more….

FE: Like modern activism…

GC: yeah, and what it means for hackers… they’ve really coalesced into a major political force just in the last five or six years.

FE: I’m glad you brought the political activism angle, do you think there will ever be an Anonymous political party?

GC: I don’t think so, they’re going to continue in their guerrilla war fashion, but we will see more hackers in government, for sure. Anonymous has to be independent… there’s no way that they can overtly work with government…

FE: So, onto prepared questions… what does the media still get wrong about Anonymous?

GC: I am currently writing this article for this anthropology book about relationships with journalists, and how I came to see journalism differently over time, just as the same way Anonymous is not unanimous, the same can be said for journalism. There are much more local journalists, and some are fucked up, there are structural constraints, and it is the same for Anonymous.

GC:  But basically, I do think a lot of journalists get it, and initially there was three things that were really difficult. Read the rest of this entry »


Barrett Brown and the US Government’s war against journalists, PR reps, and bad videos on YouTube

barrett brown impression

the author above, engaged in an “unofficial PR campaign” for Barrett Brown. This is my impression of him. Here is a fantastic video impression of him. Full disclosure: I’ve been making fun of Barrett Brown since 2011, before it was cool. 

Since Barrett Brown’s sentencing in January, some security journalists are scared, saying the ruling in many ways criminalizes security journalism. Former WIRED journalist Quinn Norton, for one, has quit covering the field because she doesn’t want to be sent to prison for copy-pasting a link or analyzing stolen data. She wrote in more detail about why last month here. If you haven’t already, I suggest you read it. Now, I am freaking out — ok, that is a bit strong– I am quite upset by the ruling for two other reasons, ones that have hardly been discussed. Going to jail for viewing, or passing along, stolen e-documents is an alarming thing (and Brown didn’t even open the link!) but this has been covered extensively already. Brown’s ruling is alarming to me, and to PR reps, because it criminalizes PR,  in this case for a hacktivist group. Another alarming thing? Being charged for a video you made while mentally incapacitated. I’ve literally done every single thing Brown has done (I made Chanology posters in 2008!). Am I next?  

Rapists get away with their crimes using the “drunk” excuse, serial killers can plead insanity, but here we have the government saying that Brown, who was off his meds, coming down from a drug addiction and in a manic state (this is known and fact), is somehow responsible for statements he made in a rambling YouTube video. Great.

This is a man who friends have called “slightly autistic.” This is a man who makes videos drinking wine in a bathtub and yet when he makes an angry video directed at a federal agent, he is taken seriously.  Please. Brown has always been more kooky bravado than realized action. The government making an example out of him, pretending like Brown’s insults hurt their feelings and made them scared for their lives, is a cruel and misguided farce.  (It also makes the agents look like complete pansies… if they heard the shit talk competitive gamers sling at each other, would they be in tears?)

Just as concerning, is how Brown has been denying he was ever a spokesperson, whether official or unofficial, for Anonymous, despite ample evidence otherwise. Brown can say he was never the spokesperson for Anonymous all he wants but that won’t erase the fact that he actually was one.

A spokesperson by its very definition is someone who speaks on behalf of an organization, or in this case a collective, to the press. Spokespeople field questions, shape narratives, repackage and disseminate information. This is exactly what Brown did for Anonymous. Not only did he answer questions from the media, he guided and gave advice on Anonymous’ public relations strategies, helped write releases, and other PR rep stuff. Spokespersons tend to be former journalists, or PR reps.

We all know Brown is not in prison for hacking, because that wasn’t the charge and besides, Brown can’t hack his way out of a cardboard box. We also know he didn’t actually get “too close to the hackers,” because they hated him, mocked him constantly, held him at bay and strung him along. (And even if he did get close, he was doing his job as both a journalist and a PR rep so how close is too close exactly???)

Before Brown was incarcerated, he was a journalist, a heavily disrespected PR rep, and a guy who liked to talk shit and party on webcam when he should have been in bed. Are all three of these crimes now?

It certainly appears that way.


Thomas Hodgkin’s thoughts on Hungarian history and Attila are invalid

…and need to be removed from pertinent Wikipedia pages ASAP. Why? Because he has a clear anti-Hungarian bias and agenda.

Let me explain.

Tonight, while I was lost in a Wikipedia hole about Hungarian history,  I came across some of Thomas Hodgkin’s thoughts on Hungarian language and anthropology from 1892, printed as gospel on the Wikipedia page. Not the famous British scientist mind you, but his nephew, who was a Quaker minister and banker. Just like his uncle, Hodgkin’s hobby was also that of an armchair historian. The writings of both Hodgkins were trusted, printed and widely circulated.

The thoughts of his that enraged me, in his book “Italy and her Invaders,” are as follows:

“The Hungarian traditions no more fully illustrate the history of Attila than the Book of Mormon illustrates the history of the Jews.”

Besides being outright offensive, this is a false equivalence. The Hungarian traditions Hodgkin writes of were written by Hungarian scholars and writers living in Hungary, in the Carpathian Basin, where Atilla the Hun had a capital city. One of the texts in question, the medieval Gesta Hungarorum, was written in the 12th century, incorporated oral history motifs and made mention of minstrels rhymes and tales from peasants. The book of Mormon claiming ancestry with the Jews was written in the late 1800’s, in America, by a wealthy man who had visions in his backyard. They are not the same thing.

Hodgkin dismisses Hungarian traditions in his book because, he says, most were written 500+ years after Attila existed. His reasoning is people could have embellished stories, and this makes their tales problematic and unfit to be used. Fine. I understand this. The same argument can be used on Christianity too but whatever.

However, reading further, Hodgkin was more keen to entertain stories of Attila, also written 500 years later, if they came from countries that were not Hungary, but say France or Norway.

The Hungarian texts cannot be trusted though, he writes, because there is no evidence that these Hungarian scholars actually bothered to go outside, interview village-folk and write down tales of Attila and the Huns. Rather, Hodgkins argues, these Hungarian propagandists  were making it up because they wanted a “pedigree.”  To quote Hodgkin, “all this invented history should be sternly disregarded…”

Wait, so Hodgkin thinks texts written about a person by people living where said person lived are not to be trusted or considered, at all?

Attila the Hun’s empire, from Wikipedia

As if that wasn’t enough to convince you of Hodgkin’s anti-Hungarian bias, there are more blatant examples in the passages where he writes about Priscus, the Roman diplomat who actually met Attila. Hodgkin calls Priscus’ writings on the nomadic king the “true historic Attila.” (As well he should, because they are first hand accounts.)

He summarizes Priscus’ detailed account of ambassadors from Constantinople traveling to meet Attila. They have to go through what Hodgkin calls the “recesses of Hungary,” to “meeting in a dingy little village in Hungary” to get to Attila’s palace.

Hodgkin continues to display his seemingly random hatred of Hungary with this next line: “students have discussed whether this Hunnish capital is… the modern city of Pesth, by Tokay [Pesth is old spelling of Pest, as in Budapest the capital of Hungary] … but we may dismiss with absolute indifference the inquiry in what particular part of a dreary and treeless plain a barbarian reared his log-huts…”

Yes, according to Hodgkin, whatever city in Hungary was Attila the Hun’s capital is irrelevant, as is the writings of the people that lived there. The “dreary and treeless plain” Hodgkin describes is the Great Hungarian Plain, which has been the subject of numerous paintings depicting its size and beauty. Of the Great Hungarian Plain, the BBC calls it Europe’s “cowboy country” and writes in its first slideshow image caption:

For more than 2,000 years, the Great Hungarian Plain (known as the Alföld in Hungarian) has been home to a rich cultural tradition of pastoral living and animal husbandry techniques – from ancient nomadic tribes who left behind stone burial mounds known as kurgans, to the fierce Magyar warriors who arrived in the late 9th Century and founded a network of settlements along the Tisza River.

TL;DR: Historian Thomas Hodgkin clearly hates Hungary, as evident by how he describes the country, and dismisses all texts written by Hungarians. Maybe a Hungarian woman was mean to him once?


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