Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
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Mon Apr 5 12:24:04 2004
Weltanschauung und Schrieb

One of the cats, about 2 weeks ago, decided to stampede over my laptop, knocking off the Tab key in a way that I can't reattach it. I've made do by pressing the little plastic thing over the centre of where the key was, but it just fell off. This is inconvenient, because I need a tab key to switch between windows in the same workspace, and to do tab-completion. So, Pat thinks to himself, "I shall use xmodmap". After all, I've used it to make the sound keys do something useful for me, and have bound the windows keys to useful ends. So, I decide to sacrifice the caps lock key, which previously was being an extra Control key, for this end, and open up my .xmodmaprc to find what to do. Hmm, perhaps a keysym will work. xmodmap -e 'keysym Caps_Lock = Tab' No, that still gives me a control. I whip out xev, and find that it still is seeing caps lock as a control key. Hmm.. I could comment out my prior mapping and restart X, but I have some useful programs already running, so I'd like to fix this without that. I then remember that I need to disable the special mapping for modifier keys before I change their real mapping. xmodmap -e "remove Control = Control_L" There, now neither capslock nor control work as a control key. Let's.. xmodmap -e "keycode 66 = Tab" xmodmap -e "add Control = Control_L" All good. Tab completion is happy.. except then I find that WindowMaker, my window manager, doesn't seem to see my new tab key as valid for alt-tab window cycling. Conveniently, it doesn't allow me to choose any other combo. I restart it -- maybe it hasn't picked up the change yet .. no dice. Hmm. I doubt it would hardcode the keycodes -- it after all does work on a number of different platforms, and I doubt it would special-case every platform that handles keyboards differently. It's probably asking X for the keycode when it starts up. Hmm.. let's see xmodmap -pk | grep Tab I have both tab keys' keycodes in there (the original, and my left caps lock). I wonder.. maybe it only gets the first tab keycode (which happens to be the original one, keycode 23). So, perhaps if I remove that keymap.. xmodmap -e "keycode 23 =" I then restart windowmaker, and all is good. So, I now have my caps lock key acting as a replacement for my dead Tab key. It's all good, although, thinking about it, what I did is really pretty crappy if an end-user were to want to do it. I had to deal with one very poorly-documented and complex section of the windowing system, and intuit how undocumented parts of the window manager work. On the other hand, I've heard about people who want to disable keys on window in a similar way need to tweak with the system registry in ways that might break it.

Behold the mighty works, and despair.

Seriously, about that last link, it really strikes me as odd, and horrifying (although I can't put my finger on why, exactly) when people who are mentally disturbed in some way end up deciding their disturbance is a good thing. I'm always tempted to pop their bubble. I'd like to think it's because it's because people who take that tack have effectively ruled out getting better. However, if there's anything I've learned about the way people think recently, it's that people don't really understand their emotions and how they think very well. Societally, we expect people to be authoritative sources of information for themselves, but in reality, they're only playing with a few cards that their closer friends can't see, and often, to survive looking into themselves, they might need to become blind to things that their ego cannot stomach.

I found a new webcomic to read. It's funny.

Apparently, in town there's a 15-year old who was arrested for taking nude photos of herself in sexual activities and posting them on the net. She's to be charged with sexual abuse of children (herself, presumably), possession of child porn, and distribution of child porn. This is an interesting topic -- it's clear that there's great societal harm in many other kinds of crime, but child porn is just something that just makes us feel disgusted -- coming up with a reason why it's harmful to society and should be prohibited that doesn't feel like a pathetic attempt to justify our gut feelings is difficult. I'll try, though. I'll try to stick to the moral values, and leave the ethical and pragma framework things out. Understand that this means that you're not hearing me speak with a unity of something being bad and something being immoral.

The reason child porn is problematic, I'll start out by saying, is that it derives from an initial act which is problematic -- the sexual explotation of children.

Query: Some people like watching films or news of real people being brutalized or being beaten up. Is that a problem? Answer: No, unless the film was made with a tie to the production of said violence. To make it concrete, it would be immoral to watch films from an organized crime group that made the films while performing the violence. News organizations and the like, unlike propganda or similar, do not do this.

Query: Is it possible to say that she sexually abused herself? Answer: I don't think self-abuse should bear any kind of legal weight, and so, no, I don't think she's sexually abusing anyone. As to the nature of the concept of sexual abuse that's consentual, that's another discussion for another time.

Query: Is it morally problematic for her to be making or distributing this stuff? Answer: From what I understand, the rationale against producing child porn is mainly aimed at stopping adults from coercing, tricking, enticing, or similar, children into sexual circumstances (other adults are fair game). Analysis of that on moral grounds can wait for another time. This doesn't seem to fall into that category -- if she wasn't put into the situation by others, then the traditional rationale falls apart. If that falls apart, then the distribution prohibitation, which is chained from this, falls apart too.

Query: Is it possible to make a public policy argument to close this? Answer: Probably. It would not, by my system, be philosophically just, so I would not morally judge people on the basis of ignoring public policy loophole closers, but also would not oppose the existence of the law. The rationale is that it's enormously difficult to tell the nature of someone's participation in porn, and to serve the greater good, it's worth blocking some morally neutral activity to block a lot more morally bad activity.

Query: So by this line of reasoning, the people who are working on making, using Computer Graphics Generated porn of various types of porn and other things would not be on morally risky ground for creating such models that look like children, and using them to depict child porn acts? Answer: By this line of reasoning, such acts are not morally significant, so the assertion is correct.

This answer is somehow dissatisfying. Why is the concept so disturbing? Why does it make our stomach turn? I think that it is likely that we have two concepts about children, firstly that they're pure, and second, that they're very vulnerable to being pushed around. The first, if we think back to our childhoods, is false. The second is a good claim -- children are protected from a number of situations that would be disadvantageous to them, including (I think) contracts and similar. Further, and this is I think a cultural thing, in American society, there's an expectation (or at least was, probably still is for some of the more stuffy parts) that sex is to be saved, especially the first time, for someone special. The idea of that 'cultural ritual' being taken away is threatening. Of course, many historical cultures had no such ritual, and in fact had very different ideas about sex.