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another take on Getting into Devops as a Beginner
I really enjoyed m4nz's recent post: Getting into DevOps as a beginner is tricky - My 50 cents to help with it and wanted to do my own version of it, in hopes that it might help beginners as well. I agree with most of their advice and recommend folks check it out if you haven't yet, but I wanted to provide more of a simple list of things to learn and tools to use to compliment their solid advice.
While I went to college and got a degree, it wasn't in computer science. I simply developed an interest in Linux and Free & Open Source Software as a hobby. I set up a home server and home theater PC before smart TV's and Roku were really a thing simply because I thought it was cool and interesting and enjoyed the novelty of it. Fast forward a few years and basically I was just tired of being poor lol. I had heard on the now defunct Linux Action Show podcast about linuxacademy.com and how people had had success with getting Linux jobs despite not having a degree by taking the courses there and acquiring certifications. I took a course, got the basic LPI Linux Essentials Certification, then got lucky by landing literally the first Linux job I applied for at a consulting firm as a junior sysadmin. Without a CS degree, any real experience, and 1 measly certification, I figured I had to level up my skills as quickly as possible and this is where I really started to get into DevOps tools and methodologies. I now have 5 years experience in the IT world, most of it doing DevOps/SRE work.
People have varying opinions on the relevance and worth of certifications. If you already have a CS degree or experience then they're probably not needed unless their structure and challenge would be a good motivation for you to learn more. Without experience or a CS degree, you'll probably need a few to break into the IT world unless you know someone or have something else to prove your skills, like a github profile with lots of open source contributions, or a non-profit you built a website for or something like that. Regardless of their efficacy at judging a candidate's ability to actually do DevOps/sysadmin work, they can absolutely help you get hired in my experience. Right now, these are the certs I would recommend beginners pursue. You don't necessarily need all of them to get a job (I got started with just the first one on this list), and any real world experience you can get will be worth more than any number of certs imo (both in terms of knowledge gained and in increasing your prospects of getting hired), but this is a good starting place to help you plan out what certs you want to pursue. Some hiring managers and DevOps professionals don't care at all about certs, some folks will place way too much emphasis on them ... it all depends on the company and the person interviewing you. In my experience I feel that they absolutely helped me advance my career. If you feel you don't need them, that's cool too ... they're a lot of work so skip them if you can of course lol.
LPI Linux Essentials - basic multiple choice test on Linux basics. Fairly easy especially if you have nix experience, otherwise I'd recommend a taking a course like I did. linuxacademy worked for me, but there are other sites out there that can help. For this one, you can probably get by just searching youtube for the topics covered on the test.
Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator - This one is a hands on test which is great, you do a screen share with a proctor and ssh into their server; then you have a list of objectives to accomplish on the server pretty much however you see fit. Write a big bash script to do it all, do like 100 mv commands manually, write a small program in python lol, whatever you want so long as you accomplish the goals in time.
Amazon Web Services certs - I would go for the all 3 associate level certs if you can: Solutions Architect, SysOps Administrator, Developer. These are quite tedious to study for as they can be more a certification that you know which AWS products to get your client to use than they are a test of your cloud knowledge at times. For better or worse, AWS is the top cloud provider at the moment so showing you have knowledge there opens you up to the most jobs. If you know you want to work with another cloud provider then the Google certs can be swapped out here, for example. I know that with the AWS certs, I get offers all the time for companies that use GCP even though I have no real experience there. Folks with the google certs: is the reverse true for you? (genuinely asking, it would be useful for beginners to know).
Certified Kubernetes Administrator - I don't actually have this cert since at this point in my career I have real Kubernetes experience on my resume so it's kind of not needed, but if you wanted learn Kubernetes and prove it to prospective employers it can help.
Tools and Experimentation
While certs can help you get hired, they won't make you a good DevOps Engineer or Site Reliability Engineer. The only way to get good, just like with anything else, is to practice. There are a lot of sub-areas in the DevOps world to specialize in ... though in my experience, especially at smaller companies, you'll be asked to do a little (or a lot) of all of them. Though definitely not exhaustive, here's a list of tools you'll want to gain experience with both as points on a resume and as trusty tools in your tool belt you can call on to solve problems. While there is plenty of "resume driven development" in the DevOps world, these tools are solving real problems that people encounter and struggle with all the time, i.e., you're not just learning them because they are cool and flashy, but because not knowing and using them is a giant pain!
Linux! - Unless you want to only work with Windows for some reason, Linux is the most important thing you can learn to become a good DevOps professional in my view. Install it on your personal laptop, try a bunch of different distributions, develop an opinion on systemd vs. other init systems ;), get a few cloud servers on DigitalOcean or AWS to mess around with, set up a home server, try different desktop environments and window managers, master a cli text editor, break your install and try to fix it, customize your desktop until it's unrecognizable lol. Just get as much experience with Linux as possible!
git - Aside from general Linux knowledge, git is one of the most important tool for DevOps/SREs to know in my view. A good DevOps team will usually practice "git ops," i.e., making changes to your CI/CD pipeline, infrastructure, or server provisioning will involve making a pull request against the appropriate git repo.
terraform - terraform is the de facto "infrastructure as code" tool in the DevOps world. Personally, I love it despite it's pain points. It's a great place to start once you have a good Linux and cloud knowledge foundation as it will allow you to easily and quickly bring up infrastructure to practice with the other tools on this list.
packer - While not hugely popular or widely used, it's such a simple and useful tool that I recommend you check it out. Packer lets you build "immutable server images" with all of the tools and configuration you need baked in, so that your servers come online ready to start working immediately without any further provisioning needed. Combined with terraform, you can bring up Kubernetes clusters with a single command, or any other fancy DevOps tools you want to play with.
ansible - With the advent of Kubernetes and container orchestration, "configuration management" has become somewhat less relevant ... or at least less of a flashy and popular topic. It is still something you should be familiar with and it absolutely is in wide use at many companies. Personally, I love the combination of ansible + packer + terraform and find it very useful. Chef and Puppet are nice too, but Ansible is the most popular last I checked so unless you have a preference (or already know Ruby) then I'd go with that.
jenkins - despite it's many, many flaws and pain points lol, Jenkins is still incredibly useful and widely used as a CI/CD solution and it's fairly easy to get started with. EDIT: Upon further consideration, Jenkins may not be the best choice for beginners to learn. At this point, you’re probably better off with something like GitLab: it’s a more powerful and useful tool, you’ll learn YAML for its config, and it’s less of a pain to use. If you know Jenkins that’s great and it will help you get a job probably, but then you might implement Jenkins since it’s what you know ... but if you have the chance, choose another tool.
postgres - Knowledge of SQL databases is very useful, both from a DBA standpoint and the operations side of things. You might be helping developers develop a new service and helping with setting up schema (or doing so yourself for an internal tool), or you might be spinning up an instance for devs to access, or even pinpointing that a SQL query is the bottleneck in an app's performance. I put Postgres here because that's what I personally use and have seen a lot in the industry, but experience with any SQL database will be useful.
nginx - nginx is commonly used an http server for simple services or as an ingress option for kubernetes. Learn the basic config options, how to do TLS, etc.
docker - Ah, the buzzword of yesteryear. Docker and containerization is still incredibly dominant as a paradigm in the DevOps world right now and it is paramount that you learn it and master it. Be comfortable writing Dockerfiles, troubleshooting docker networking, the fundamentals of how linux containers work ... and definitely get familiar with Alpine Linux as it will most likely be the base image for most of your company's docker images.
kubernetes - At many companies, DevOps EngineeSite Reliability Engineer effectively translates to "Kubernetes Babysitter," especially if you're new on the job. Container orchestration, while no longer truly "cutting edge" is still fairly new and there is high demand for people with knowledge and experience with it. Work through Kubernetes The Hard Way to bring up a cluster manually. Learn and know the various "primitives" like pods and replicasets. Learn about ingress and how to expose services.
There are many, many other DevOps tools I left out that are worthwhile (I didn't even touch the tools in the kubernetes space like helm and spinnaker). Definitely don't stop at this list! A good DevOps engineer is always looking to add useful tools to their tool belt. This industry changes so quickly, it's hard to keep up. That's why it's important to also learn the "why" of each of these tools, so that you can determine which tool would best solve a particular problem. Nearly everything on this list could be swapped for another tool to accomplish the same goals. The ones I listed are simply the most common/popular and so are a good place to start for beginners.
Any language you learn will be useful and make you a better sysadmin/DevOps Eng/SRE, but these are the 3 I would recommend that beginners target first.
Bash - It's right there in your terminal and for better or worse, a scarily large amount of the world's IT infrastructure depends on ill-conceived and poorly commented bash scripts. It's bash scripts all the way down. I joke, but bash is an incredibly powerful tool and a great place to start learning programming basics like control flow and variables.
Python - It has a beautiful syntax, it's easy to learn, and the python shell makes it quick to learn the basics. Many companies have large repos of python scripts used by operations for automating all sorts of things. Also, many older DevOps tools (like ansible) are written in python.
Go - Go makes for a great first "systems language" in that it's quite powerful and gives you access to some low level functionality, but the syntax is simple, explicit and easy to understand. It's also fast, compiles to static binaries, has a strong type system and it's easier to learn than C or C++ or Rust. Also, most modern DevOps tools are written in Go. If the documentation isn't answering your question and the logs aren't clear enough, nothing beats being able to go to the source code of a tool for troubleshooting.
Expanding your knowledge
As m4nz correctly pointed out in their post, while knowledge of and experience with popular DevOps tools is important; nothing beats in-depth knowledge of the underlying systems. The more you can learn about Linux, operating system design, distributed systems, git concepts, language design, networking (it's always DNS ;) the better. Yes, all the tools listed above are extremely useful and will help you do your job, but it helps to know why we use those tools in the first place. What problems are they solving? The solutions to many production problems have already been automated away for the most part: kubernetes will restart a failed service automatically, automated testing catches many common bugs, etc. ... but that means that sometimes the solution to the issue you're troubleshooting will be quite esoteric. Occam's razor still applies, and it's usually the simplest explanation that works; but sometimes the problem really is at the kernel level. The biggest innovations in the IT world are generally ones of abstractions: config management abstracts away tedious server provisioning, cloud providers abstract away the data center, containers abstract away the OS level, container orchestration abstracts away the node and cluster level, etc. Understanding what it happening beneath each layer of abstraction is crucial. It gives you a "big picture" of how everything fits together and why things are the way they are; and it allows you to place new tools and information into the big picture so you'll know why they'd be useful or whether or not they'd work for your company and team before you've even looked in-depth at them. Anyway, I hope that helps. I'll be happy to answer any beginnegetting started questions that folks have! I don't care to argue about this or that point in my post, but if you have a better suggestion or additional advice then please just add it here in the comments or in your own post! A good DevOps Eng/SRE freely shares their knowledge so that we can all improve.
A trans person's measured take on the trans sports issue
So first of all this post was inspired by GGExMachina's brief statement on the issue:
For example, it is objectively the case that biological men have a physical advantage over women. Yet if someone points this out and suggests that transgender people shouldn’t be allowed to fight in women’s UFC, or women’s soccer or weightlifting competitions or whatever, suddenly you’re some kind of evil monster. Rather than saying that of course trans people shouldn’t be bullied and that we could perhaps have a trans olympics (like the Paralympics and Special Olympics), we are expected to lie.
I've found that this position is incredibly popular among liberals/left-leaning people, especially here on reddit. It seems like, once or twice a month, like clockwork, a thread stating more or less the same thing on /unpopularopinion or /offmychest will get thousands of upvotes. And while I completely understand the thought process that leads otherwise left-leaning people to come to such conclusions, I feel like the issue has been, broadly speaking, dishonestly presented to the general public by a mixture of bad-faith actors and people who have succumbed to the moral panic. And, as I've seen, there are plenty of people in this subreddit and elsewhere who are itching to be as supportive as they possibly can to the trans community but find themselves becoming very disillusioned by this particular issue. By making this post I hope to present a more nuanced take on the issue, not only in regards to my personal beliefs on what kinds of policies are best to preserve fairness in women's sports but also in regards to shining a light on how this issue is often times dishonestly presented in an attempt to impede the progression of pro-trans sentiments in the cultural zeitgeist.
Sex & Gender
The word "transgender" is an umbrella term that refers to people whose gender identities differ from those typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, the approximate composition of "the trans community" in the United States is 29% Transgender men (Female-to-Male), 33% Transgender women (Male-to-Female), and 35% non-binary. (The remaining 3% were survey respondents who self-identified as "crossdressers", who were still included in the survey on the grounds of being gender non-conforming) While non-binary people, as a group, are probably deserving of their own separate post. the focus of this post will be on trans men and trans women. I will also be primarily focusing on transgender people who pursue medical transition with Hormone-Replacement-Therapy, as they are most relevant to the issue of sports. (Mind that while the majority of binary trans people fit into this camp, there is a sizable minority of trans people who do not feel the need to medically transition.) What do trans people believe about Gender? The views of transgender people in regards to Gender are actually pretty varied, although the most prominent positions that I've personally seen are best summed up into two different camps:
The "Trans-Medical" camp
Transgender people who fall into this camp usually consider Gender Dysphoria to be the defining factor of what makes somebody trans. The best way I can describe this camp is that they sort of view being transgender akin to being intersex. Only whereas an intersex person would be born with a disorder that affects the body, a trans person is born with a disorder that affects the brain. Trans people in this camp often times put an emphasis on a clinical course for treatment. For example, a person goes to a psychologist, gets diagnosed with gender dysphoria, starts hormone replacement therapy, pursues surgery, then emerges from this process of either cured of the gender dysphoria or, at the very least, treated to the fullest extent of medical intervention. This position is more or less the original position held by trans activists, back in the day when the word "transsexual" was used instead of "transgender". Though many younger trans people, notably YouTuber Blaire White, also hold this position. Under this position, sex and gender are still quite intertwined, but a trans man can still be considered a man, and a trans woman a woman, under the belief that sex/gender doesn't just refer to chromosomal sex and reproductive organs, but also to neurobiology, genitalia, and secondary sex characteristics. So someone who is transgender, according to this view, is born with the physical characteristics of one sex/gender but the neurobiology of another, and will change their physical characteristics, to the fullest extent medically possible, to match the neurobiology and therefore cure the individual of gender dysphoria. Critics of this position argue that this mentality is problematic due to being inherently exclusive to transgender people who do not pursue medical transition, whom are often times deemed as "transtrenders" by people within this camp. Many people find it additionally problematic because it is also inherently exclusive to poorer trans people, particularly those in developing nations, who may not have access to trans-related medical care. Note that there are plenty of trans people who *do* have access to medical transition, but nevertheless feel as if the trans community shouldn't gatekeep people who cannot afford or do not desire medical transition, thus believing in the latter camp.
The "Gender Identity" camp
I feel like this camp is the one most popularly criticized by people on the right, but is also probably the most mainstream. It is the viewpoint held by many more left-wing trans people, (Note that in the aforementioned 2015 survey, only 1% of trans respondents voted Republican, so trans people are largely a pretty left-wing group, therefore it makes sense that this position would be the most mainstream) but also notably held by American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, GLAAD, and other mainstream health organizations and activist groups. While people in this camp still acknowledge that medical transition to treat gender dysphoria can still be a very important aspect of the transgender experience, it's believed that the *defining* experience is simply having a gender identity different from the one they were assigned at birth. "Gender identity" simply being the internal, personal sense of being a man, a woman, or outside the gender binary. Many people in this camp, though, still often maintain that gender identity is (at least partially) neurobiological, but differ from the first camp in regards to acknowledging that the issue is less black & white than an individual simply having a "male brain" or a "female brain", but rather that the neurological characteristics associated with gender exist on more of a spectrum, thus leaving the door open to gender non-conforming people who do not identify as trans, as well as to non-binary people. This is where the "gender is a spectrum" phrase comes from. "52 genders" is a popular right-wing meme that makes fun of this viewpoint, however it is important to note that many trans and non-binary people disagree with the idea of quantifying gender identity to such an absurd amount of individual genders, rather more simply maintaining that there are men, women, and a small portion of people in-between, with a few words such as "agender" or "genderqueer" being used to describe specific identities/presentations within this category. It's also noteworthy that not all people in this camp believe that neurobiology is the be-all-end-all of gender identity, as many believe that the performativity of gender also plays an integral role in one's identity. (That gender identity is a mixture of neurobiology and performativity is a position held by YouTuber Contrapoints) Trans people and biological sex So while the aforementioned "Gender Identity" viewpoint has become quite popularized among liberals and leftists, I have noticed a certain rhetorical mentality/assumption become prevalent alongside it, especially among cisgender people who consider themselves trans-allies: "Sex and Gender are different. A trans woman is a woman who is biologically male. A trans man is a man who is biologically female" When "Sex" is defined by someone's chromosomes, or the sex organs they were born with, this is correct. However, there is a pretty good reason why the trans community tends to prefer terms like "Assigned Male at Birth" rather than "Biologically Male". This is done not only for the inclusion of people who are both intersex and transgender (For example, someone can be born intersex but assigned male based on the existence of a penis or micropenis), but also due to the aforementioned viewpoint on divergent neurobiology being the cause for gender dysphoria. Those reasons are why the word "Assigned" is used. But the reason why it's "Assigned Male/Female At Birth" instead of just "Assigned Male/Female" is because among the trans community there exists an understanding of the mutability of sexually dimorphic biology that the general population is often ignorant to. For example, often times people (especially older folks) don't even know of the existence of Hormone Replacement Therapy, and simply assume that trans people get a single "sex change operation" that, (for a trans woman) would just entail the removal of the penis and getting breast implants. Therefore they imagine the process to be "medically sculpting a male to look female" instead of a more natural biological process of switching the endocrine system form male to female or vice versa and letting the body change over the course of multiple years. It doesn't help that, for a lot of older trans people (namely Caitlyn Jenner, who is probably the most high profile trans person sadly), the body can be a lot more resistant to change even with hormones so they *do* need to rely on plastic surgery a lot more to get obvious results) So what sexually dimorphic bodily characteristics can one expect to change from Hormone Replacement Therapy? (Note that there is a surprising lack of studies done on some of the more intricate changes that HRT can, so I've put a "*" next to the changes that are anecdotal, but still commonly and universally observed enough among trans people [including myself for the MTF stuff] to consider factual. I've also put a "✝" next to the changes that only occur when people transition before or during puberty) Male to Female:
Breast development and nipple/areolar enlargement, including in some people, the development of mammary glands and the ability to breastfeed
Thinning/slowed growth of facial/body hair
Cessation/reversal of male-pattern scalp hair loss
Softening of skin/decreased oiliness and acne
Decreased muscle mass/strength
Widening and rounding of the pelvis
Changes in mood, emotionality, and behavior (anecdotally crying is way easier to do)
Decreased sex drive (anecdotally, taking progesterone helps a lot in regards to regaining sex drive, though attraction is often noted as being experienced a bit differently than how it feels with testosterone)
Decreased sperm production/fertility
Decreased testicle size
Decreased penis size
Decreased prostate gland size
Voice changes (As far as I've heard, most people only experience minor changes from transitioning in adulthood, so it's common to do vocal training on top of everything to actually get a female-passing voice. I'll add a ✝ here since vocal changes seem to be a lot stronger in people who transition before/during puberty)
Changes in body odor (It's been documented that men and women often times have different smelling body odor, and trans people commonly notice a change in this regard) *
Changes in how arousal, sexual pleasure, and orgasms are experienced *
Changes in facial complexion *
Slight changes in hair color, texture, or curl *
Slight changes in eye color *
Changes in alcohol/drug tolerance *
Experiencing pubescent skeletal development and bodily growth along female-typical lines, including both bodily size/shape and facial bone/cartilage features ✝
Female to Male:
Growth of facial/body hair
male pattern scalp hair loss (in some individuals)
Roughening of the skin and prominence of veins
Increased muscle mass/strength
Changes in mood, emotionality, and behavior (I forget the source for this sadly but I remember reading that trans men are significantly more likely to commit crimes and get into fights after starting HRT)
Increased sex drive
Cessation of ovulation and menstruation
Acne (especially in the first few years of therapy)
Alterations in blood lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides)
Increased red blood cell count
Deepening of the voice
Enlargement of the clitoris
Changes in body odor *
Changes in how arousal, sexual pleasure, and orgasms are experienced *
Changes in facial complexion *
Slight changes in hair color, texture, or curl *
Slight changes in eye color *
Changes in alcohol/drug tolerance *
Experiencing male pubescent skeletal development and bodily growth along male-typical lines, and closure of growth plates ✝
Often times, when the whole "transgender people in sports" discussion arises, a logical error is made when *all* transgender people are assumed to be "biologically" their birth sex. For example, when talking about trans women participating in female sports, these instances will be referred to as cases of "Biological males competing against females". As mentioned before, calling a trans woman "biologically male" strictly in regards to chromosomes or sex organs at birth would be correct. However, not only can it be considered derogatory (the word "male" is colloquially a shorthand for "man", after all), but there are many instances where calling a post-HRT transgender person "biologically [sex assigned at birth]" is downright misleading. For example, hospitals have, given transgender patients improper or erroneous medical care by assuming treatment based on birth sex where treatment based on their current endocrinological sex would have been more adequate. Acute Clinical Care of Transgender Patients: A Review
Conclusions and relevance: Clinicians should learn how to engage with transgender patients, appreciate that unique anatomy or the use of gender-affirming hormones may affect the prevalence of certain disease (eg, cardiovascular disease, venous thromboembolism, and osteoporosis), and be prepared to manage specific issues, including those related to hormone therapy. Health care facilities should work toward providing inclusive systems of care that correctly identify and integrate information about transgender patients into the electronic health record, account for the unique needs of these patients within the facility, and through education and policy create a welcoming environment for their care.
Some hosptials have taken to labeling the biological sex of transgender patients as "MTF" (for post-HRT trans women) and "FTM" (for post-HRT trans men), which is a much more medically useful identifier compared to their sex assigned at birth. In regards to the sports discussion, I've seen *multiple threads* where redditors have backed up their opinions on the subject of trans people in sports with studies demonstrating that cis men are, on average, more athletically capable than cis women. Which I personally find to be a pathetic misunderstanding of the entire issue. Because we're not supposed to be comparing the athletic capabilities of natal males to natal females, here. We're supposed to comparing the athletic capabilities of *post-HRT male-to-females* to natal females. And, if we're going to really have a fact-based discussion on the matter, we need to have separate categories for pre-pubescent and post-pubescent transitioners. Since, as mentioned earlier, the former will likely have different skeletal characteristics compared to the latter. The currentInternational Olympic Committee(IOC) model for trans participation, and criticisms of said model (I quoted the specific guidelines from the International Cycling Union, but similar guidelines exist for all Olympic sports)
Elite Competition At elite competition levels, members may have the opportunity to represent the United States and participate in international competition. They may therefore be subject to the policies and regulations of the International Cycling Union (UCI) and International Olympic Committee (IOC). USA Cycling therefore follows the IOC guidelines on transgender athletes at these elite competition levels. For purposes of this policy, international competition means competition sanctioned by the UCI or competition taking place outside the United States in which USA Cycling’s competition rules do not apply. The IOC revised its guidelines on transgender athlete participation in 2015, to focus on hormone levels and medical monitoring. The main points of the guidelines are: Those who transition from female to male are eligible to compete in the male category without restriction. It is the responsibility of athletes to be aware of current WADA/USADA policies and file for appropriate therapeutic use exemptions. Those who transition from male to female are eligible to compete in the female category under the following conditions: The athlete has declared that her gender identity is female. The declaration cannot be changed, for sporting purposes, for a minimum of four years. The athlete must demonstrate that her total testosterone level in serum has been below 10 nmol/L for at least 12 months prior to her first competition (with the requirement for any longer period to be based on a confidential case-by-case evaluation, considering whether or not 12 months is a sufficient length of time to minimize any advantage in women’s competition). The athlete's total testosterone level in serum must remain below 10 nmol/L throughout the period of desired eligibility to compete in the female category. Compliance with these conditions may be monitored by random or for-cause testing. In the event of non-compliance, the athlete’s eligibility for female competition will be suspended for 12 months.
Valid criticisms of the IOC model are usually based on the fact that, even though hormone replacement therapy provokes changes to muscle mass, it does *not* shrink the size of someone's skeleton or cardiovascular system. Therefore an adult-transitioned trans woman could, even after losing all levels of male-typical muscle mass, still have an advantage in certain sports if she had an excessively large skeletal frame, and was participating in a sport where such a thing would be advantageous. Additionally, the guidelines only require that athletes be able to demonstrate having had female hormone levels for 12-24 months, which isn't necessarily long enough to completely lose musculature gained from training on testosterone (anecdotally it can take 2-4 years to completely lose male-typical muscle mass) So the IOC guidelines don't have any safeguard against, for example, a trans woman training with testosterone as the dominant hormone in her body, and then taking hormones for the bare minimum time period and still having some of the advantage left. Note that, while lower level sports have had (to the glee of right-wing publications sensationalizing the issue) instances of this exact thing happening, in the 16 years since these IOC guidelines were established, not a single transgender individual has won an Olympic medal Also note that none of the above criticisms of the IOC policy would apply in regards to the participation of pre-pubescent-transitioned trans women. After all, male-pubescent bone structure and cardiovascular size, and male-typical muscle levels, can't possibly exist if you never went through male puberty to begin with. What could better guidelines entail, to best preserve fairness in female sports while avoiding succumbing to anti-trans moral panic?
The most extreme way for female sports to reasonably go about addressing this issue would be to only allow for the participation of transgender women who are documented to have, with puberty blockers, carried out their transitions without having gone past Tanner Stage II or III of male puberty.
Sports leagues willing to be a bit looser could accept adult transitioners under the stipulation that their bodily measurements in regards to certain skeletal features fit within a standard deviation of the cis-female average
Sports leagues willing to be even looser could copy the IOC guidelines, but require documentation of having gone through HRT for a greater period of time rather than just the 12 months, (3 years would probably be better) to guarantee full loss of male muscle mass
In my personal opinion, sports leagues should pick one of the three above options depending on what best fits the nature of the sport and the eliteness of the competition. For example, extremely competitive contact sports might be better off going with the first option, but an aerobic sport such as marathon running would probably be fine with the third option.
How this issue has been misrepresented by The Right
Right-wing rhetoric surrounding this issue assumes that the issue exists as an innate consequence of trans activism (Ie. "This is what the left is pushing!") rather than as a result of individual sports leagues failing to have solid rules for participation. Often times, certain low-level sports leagues have failed to even measure trans athlete's hormone levels, and have, in some cases, let completely male-bodied athletes participate as women. This is obviously the fault of these specific sports leagues failing to implement or enforce reasonable rules for participation, but right-wing articles surrounding such instances will act as if these occurrences are an ideological goal of the pro-trans left. This runs off of the assumption that a majority of trans people and "the left" are specifically pushing for muscular males (who merely "identify" as women, and nothing more) to dominate female sports. When, in reality, we really had nothing to do with these occurrences, and the majority of trans people would even likely agree with the sentiments expressed in this post. Additionally, accepting the gender identities of trans people is something you can do irregardless of your opinion on the sports issue.
Over-exaggeration of the problem. The issue is often sensationalized to the extent of coming off as a call to action, to stop the trans activists and their SJW bullies from ruining female sports! They're coming after your daughter's lacrosse team! In reality, out of the hundreds of thousands (perhaps even more) of sports competitions that exist in the United States and throughout the world, an incredibly small percentage of them are actually ruined by trans participants. You hear the stories of the 6'5'' trans woman with the broad frame winning a weightlifting competition, but not of the hundreds of more average-sized trans-female athletes turning out more mediocre performances. This isn't to say that the niche cases don't present a problem that indeed needs to be fixed, but presenting the problem as more prevalent than it actually is acts as a rhetorical strategy meant to provoke anger as well as a more dramatic response. Buying into this rhetorical strategy, especially if you're is already somewhat ignorant to the issue to begin with, will make it much easier to convince you of accepting drastic solutions to the problems. Ie. "ONLY XX CHROMOSOMES ALLOWED IN FEMALE SPORTS", instead of any of the three more measured approaches suggested above. The provoked response of anger is also meant to turn people off of accepting trans rights in general.
Infuriatingly, I've noticed that right-wing rhetoric usually doesn't even mention pre-pubescent transitioners at all. Like, these people are fine with acknowledging the existence of puberty blockers when they're trying to make them illegal, but they refuse to talk about them in regards to the sports issue. There have been cases where conservative jurisdictions have banned the participation of all transgender students in girl's sports, period. Meaning a transgender girl who never went through male puberty at all, and has pre-pubescent hormone levels as a result of puberty blockers, could be banned from participating in girl's sports, while in reality said trans girl could possibly even be at a disadvantage compared to the cis girls, as a result of not even having started puberty yet. Nonsensical. And liberal allies are at fault of this too, I've noticed. I've seen countless reddit threads where left-leaning people voice their take on the trans sports issue without mentioning the existence of pre-pubescent transitioners. It's honestly ridiculous.
The sports issue is also used as an excuse to say derogatory things about trans women that would be less justifiable in other instances.
I'll use Joe Rogan as an example of this last thing:
She calls herself a woman but... I tend to disagree. And, uh, she, um... she used to be a man but now she has had, she's a transgender which is (the) official term that means you've gone through it, right? And she wants to be able to fight women in MMA. I say no f***ing way. I say if you had a dick at one point in time, you also have all the bone structure that comes with having a dick. You have bigger hands, you have bigger shoulder joints. You're a f***ing man. That's a man, OK? You can't have... that's... I don't care if you don't have a dick any more... If you want to be a woman in the bedroom and you know you want to play house and all of that other s*** and you feel like you have, your body is really a woman's body trapped inside a man's frame and so you got a operation, that's all good in the hood. But you can't fight chicks. Get the f*** out of here. You're out of your mind. You need to fight men, you know? Period. You need to fight men your size because you're a man. You're a man without a dick. I'm not trying to discriminate against women in any way, shape, or form and I'm a big supporter of women's fighting. I loved watching that Ronda Rousey/Liz Carmouche fight. But those are actual women. Those are actual women. And as strong as Ronda Rousey looks, she's still looks to me like a pretty girl. She's a beautiful girl who happens to be strong. She's a girl! [Fallon Fox] is not a girl, OK? This is a [transgender] woman. It's a totally different specification.
Calling a trans woman a "man", and equating transitioning to merely removal of the dick, and equating trans women's experiences as women as "playing house" and "being a woman in the bedroom". These things are obviously pretty transphobic, and if Rogan had said these things about just any random trans woman his statements would have likely been more widely seen in that light. But when it's someone having an unfair advantage in sports, and the audience is supposed to be angry with you, it's much more socially acceptable thing to say such things. But the problem is, when you say these kinds of things about one trans woman, you're essentially saying those derogatory things about all trans women by extension. It's the equivalent of using an article about a black home invader who murdered a family as an excuse to use a racial slur. Now, I'm not saying that Rogan necessarily did this on purpose, in fact I'm more inclined to believe that it was done moreso due to ignorance rather than having an actual ideological agenda. But since then, many right wing ideologues who do have an ideological agenda have used this issue as an excuse to voice their opinions on trans people while appearing to be less bigoted. Ie. "I'm not trying to be a bigot or anything and I accept people's rights to live their lives as they see fit, but we NEED to keep men out of women's sports", as a sly way to call trans women "men". Additionally, doing this allows them to slip in untrue statements about the biology of trans women. I mean, first of all in regards to the statement "You have bigger hands, you have bigger shoulder joints", obviously even in regards to post-pubescent transitioners, not every trans woman is going to have bigger hands and shoulder joints than every cis woman (My hands are actually smaller than my aunt's!). It's just that people who go through male puberty on average tend to have bigger hands and shoulder joints compared to people who go through female puberty. But over-exaggerating the breadth of sexual dimorphism, as if males and females are entirely different species to each-other, helps to paint the idea of transitioning in a more nonsensical light. I hope this thread has presented this issue in a better light for anyone reading it. Let me know if you have any thoughts/criticisms of my stances or the ways I went about this issue.
The Sun Rises as Usual: My thoughts on the enactment of the national security law in Hong Kong
July 1st, 2020 shall be remembered as the day Hong Kong completed its second Handover to China. A strong sense of despair clouds over the city as Beijing nuked us with the National Security Law (NSL). The thought of losing the authenticity of Hong Kong forever is ingrained in many of us. The same day, the sun rises in the east as usual.The rule of thumb to survive this era of turmoil is to maintain control of your mental state. Remain unflappable by the ongoing absurdity. You live your life at your own pace with no restrictions. And that is how you win in society, at the workplace, on campus, and in marriage. As to how we could achieve that, I hope my two-cents would give you some ideas. The officials expected us to be overwhelmed, terrified, and occupied by NSL. Nevertheless, the clauses of the law have never been the main course of this extravagant meal. What truly awaits for us is the complete makeover of the Hong Kong ruling. Abolishing the standard procedure inherited from British Hong Kong, rationality and logical decision-making are soon replaced by the ambiguity of the authoritarian “rule of law” of China. Hong Kong has lost its place in the globe at the mercy of NSL; that is, to show a lucid message: Beijing could withdraw the “One Country, Two Systems” principle however it sees fit. Moreover, it is the re-education training CCP set up for Hongkongers to make them know their place and accept the “Mainland ideology,” which includes tolerating laws and regulations that are more “lenient” to serve the Chinese political agenda. Placing the national interests in heart, it is farewell to “Rule of Law,” and the common understanding of right and wrong and dos and don’ts. This is the textbook example of authoritarian ruling. Perhaps people would be seeing some form of democracy and freedom; however, those were merely decoys in which the supreme power vested afar. 23 years after the Handover, pro-Beijing population remains small by default. The young generation rebukes Chinese identity even more than before. The enactment of NSL indicates the failure of CCP’s strategic approaches to entice Hongkongers. If the regular and United Front approaches failed through, they might as well execute eradication instead. It may appear as China is calling for enticement, but the underlying measures/gimmicks are showing something else. The grand Unity of Mainland and Hong Kong is nothing more than a hoax. In this new Hong Kong, measurements taken to appease public backlash or allow people to express their frustration toward politicians or policies are stored in the past. Furthermore, the Hong Kong government has adopted more extreme approaches—severing Hong Kong into the pro-democracy camp and the pro-Beijing camp; bringing back Cultural Revolution tactics to effectively counteract dissentance; and activating 24/7 monitorization of the population. The propaganda of the CCP regime is to increasingly disintegrate the mutual trust between people by ratting and spying. Building the new norm where the civil society crumbles and espionage is normalized. People with malicious intent may find this new world rather exciting. Without the checks and balances or supervision in the system, the escalating waves of purging the “impure” in the next 2 years are anticipated. The hostile public opinion of Hong Kong toward Beijing’s decisions have always been a throne in the flesh for the ruling party which led to it prioritizing the disunification of the Hong Kong civil society in the following 2 years—gathering the elites from all professions, alternating the policies of media regulations, reforming education to be more CCP-interests-oriented, and emphasizing the governmental compliance of all departments for effective executions of the new laws. The small population that is most affected by NSL would be those who are in the “Four Black Categories,” including the influencers and KOLs. The two major key points for Hong Kong government’s guidelines are “rule by law” and “always have the national interests at heart.” Regardless of NSL, Public Order Ordinance(POO) per se or any other laws could be used to incriminate the dissidents. Even a world-renowned Chinese artist such as Ai Weiwei was accused of Tax Evasion. Apolitical celebrities with millions of fans and could also be targeted; e.g. Fan Bingbing. Over time, people would adapt to self-censorship. As their minds slowly die of a thousand cuts to circumvent trespassing the political “bottom-line”, it includes avoiding dissenting the propaganda and minimizing exposure that may attract unwanted attention. Oddly enough, if you were to be a tourist, you probably would not be able to capture the post-NSL nuances of this hollow Hong Kong. You would see all business continue, stock market arises, and the real estate market thrives as usual. It is as if the script written for the second Handover would play out successfully, as long as the basic needs of Hongkongers are satisfied. Amidst of this turmoil, Hongkongers wouldn’t need me to elaborate more; however, we should ask ourselves if there is something else that we could do. Do you still remember how we were like before all of these occur? What are the options we have aside from obeying to the laws, immigrating out of our homeland, or starting riots? How should we live in the middle of this mess? From the anti-extradition law protest to the ongoing movement we have today—disregarding the variations in the slogans—we are a part of the global transformation which is beyond politics and may very well be a segment of the fourth industrial revolution. Moving forward from now, with AI replacing brain-power taxing positions, it would be unlikely for anyone to have a stable job and their retirement secured. With that being said, we are facing a tomorrow where people could no longer rely on a singular path for career planning. The younglings are determined and flexible about making chances. They are independent individuals who seek for autonomy in life without relying on governmental entities, pro-establishment units, and consortiums, for their survival which tie into a global trend. The “ultrastable system” of the good old times Hong Kong is in the past. The young generation is calling for “Laam Chau.” (self-destruction to counterbalance Hong Kong government) Acknowledging the fact that enduring injustice would not secure any job positions, the young generation tends to take on entrepreneurship and minimizing their political dependency. Many friends started talking about immigration. A decade ago, the media were hyping the topic regarding whether or not I would be immigrating to Singapore. I have been repeating myself—the concept of immigration is obsolete. Over the past year, would you say that the overseas Hongkongers contributed more to the movement or the apolitical Hongkongers? Even if we hold multiple citizenships, travel around the world, send our children to study abroad, or hold investments in another country, what would it matter? Any of those would not affect our Hongkonger identity. When online classes are given remotely on Zoom, would it matter if you are in Hong Kong or in Congo? The physical location of Hong Kong shouldn’t tie us down. We should sever ourselves from the idea of leaving or staying and make the world our home. By stitching the virtual world to the real world, we are undefeated by constant change. To me, that is what Hong Kong really is. All censorship from the authoritarian regime have one in common; that is, the oppressions could never be reasoned with the Common Law. If the pro-democracy anthem, “Glory to Hong Kong,” is prohibited to be sung on campuses, what about the 80’s Cantopop hit, “Boundless Oceans, Vast Skies” or “Blowing in the Wind” which both hint liberation in the lyrics? As the movement slogan, “Five Demands, Not One Less,” was banned, could the protesters express their dissent by raising their hands to point out 5 and 1 or having the number 5 and 1 written over their tops? Does everything related to the number 5 and 1 need to be a politically sensitive topic? Could we still talk about the Labor Day that falls on May 1st? The rebellious ideology is embedded in the mind of Hong Kong protesters, as people have witnessed the incompetence of our government on a daily basis. This movement has been embodying innovation in various ways. No extra commentaries are needed. This is the true essence of “be water.” Similarly, Poland and the Czech Republic in the 60s were under greater oppression than what we have been seeing in recent Hong Kong; however, “life always finds a way.” We now live in a globalized world where “colluding foreign forces” is unnecessary, with the help of our overseas brothers and sisters to amplify the pro-democracy messages to the international community. We shall acknowledge the fact that dwelling on the past does no one any good for sustaining this movement. You could be someone who lacks the courage to venture out of the comfort zone, refuses to adapt to having multiple careers, resists leaving the physical location of Hong Kong, fears to put on a yellow helmet (a pro-democracy symbol), and chooses to be enslaved by the ruling party. Even if you are a Blue Ribbon ( pro-established or pro-Beijing person), as long as you are not a part of the most extreme 20% of the deep Blue Ribbon community, I say you are still a very valuable asset to Hong Kong. In this NSL-enacted Hong Kong, you should give it some thoughts about what advantages you hold that the “new Hongkongers” cannot offer. If you cannot answer this question, then no matter how patriotic you are, you will be eliminated in the next wave of selection. “Survival the fittest.” Even in Chinese companies, they still need Hongkongers to do the due diligence for them. In bureaucratic institutions, the Chinese would still need someone with a creative spirit and an international perspective while putting on a nationalist front. Many have expressed their concerns toward the implementation of “Indoctrination” in Hong Kong, including some of the pro-Beijing parents. By sending their children to non-state-owned schools, their actions speak louder than their words. The new trend of education has confirmed that the traditional classroom model inherited from the 19th century Prussian teaching is outdated. Through big data, the teaching materials are personalized for individuals; moreover, students may build up their unique libraries of knowledge via their personal experience and curiosity. Regretfully, the new Hong Kong under authoritarian ruling embraces a rigid education system where syllabi and marking scheme is key to grooming the next generation of nationalists. The instructors would be under surveillance, school principals would bend to state-interests policies, and households would monitor each other for anti-government speeches or actions. Apparently, CCP would not succeed in brainwashing anyone with these educational reformations. Perhaps, Tik Tok may be more effective. Personalized education is an irreversible global trend. The authoritarian Hong Kong could butcher education but it could not prevent people from adapting to other alternatives. I would like to believe that the younger generations would harness the power of the internet and seize the opportunities given by an international community that has become more amiable to Hong Kong. NSL’s main target is those who are “in collusion with foreign forces. How ironic is it to see how the strong connections between Hong Kong and the global community came back to bite per se? I recall reading from a research report, stating that on average every 1 out of 3 to 4 Hongkongers have connections overseas—overseas relatives, holding foreign qualifications or degrees, overseas working experience, having international investments, or having work contacts with foreign employees. Hongkongers have been colluding with the foreign forces before NSL made it a crime. The 2020 Hong Kong is suffering from cultural discontinuity created by the conflicts between the Chinese authoritarian system and the Western democracy system. Soon enough, “mass surveillance enabled by Big Data” vs. “A.I. regulated by privacy concerns” could be a multiple choice question for all Hongkongers. As long as Hongkongers are connected to the global network, we shall not lose our resilience against oppression. To sum it up, Hongkongers have incorporated the world into “the revolution of our time.” March on and be water. The world we are facing is no longer black and white or binary of any sort. We may not reap what we sow. This is a long-term fight that requires us to be resourceful, as well as being mentally and physically prepared. You may ask if I have ever wanted to leave Hong Kong. Ironically, since my 18th birthday, I have never stayed in Hong Kong for so long. The past 6 months, aside from pandemic, I have been sentimental toward this land. My profession and residences require me to travel a lot of places. I hardly stayed in Hong Kong for long as I made that decision deliberately 10 years ago. Now you may understand where I am coming from. Thus, I would not change for this NSL-enacted Hong Kong. I would not stay to make a statement, nor would I leave this land to make a stance. To my dear friends out there, my piece of advice has been the same—live like a digital nomad and have your footstep stamped locally and globally. No need to start from scratch. You may join a community that is well-established. Should I self-censor for my safety? I’ve never been an editorial writer. My rationally words and videos are merely personal expressions of a Hongkonger. I honestly can’t get any more cautious. I am the same Simon Shen, now and always. We should not take any form of harassment or attacks personally. Before the extradition law and the NSL, CCP had been effectively silencing dissents by sending them on one-way trips to Mainland China (i.e. Causeway Bay Books disappearances). The regime needed no bills to aid its attempt of kidnapping those who dare to voice up. Hong Kong has fallen too fast that no one bothers to attack or criticize the kidnaps. There is no such thing as making something less absurd by talking about it more. The systematic oppression of Hong Kong’s civil freedom does not only come from the without but also the within; especially when nowadays all we could talk about is “safety” and “survival.” It is exactly what CCP wanted for us to believe—we are trapped and our lives depends on our compliance. Hongkongers are being tested for our resilience. If we couldn’t pass this challenge together, how could we stand up tall as proud Hongkongers? As to making ends meet, I’ve always believed that the global Hongkonger network is a large enough of encomany to support, expand, and give back to Hong Kong. We are all at its mercy, including me becoming a KOL. Within the Hongkonger community, I wish to be more practical and strategic; especially, in terms of elevating our quality of living. CCP is extremely calculative and different from us. It is my deepest belief that when the world sees how irreplaceable Hongkongers are that is the day when we can anticipate change. Before then, we will keep a low profile and prepare for this long battle. Do expect the next two years to be a long rollercoaster ride with plenty of ups and downs. Hongkongers will only thrive through the hardships. Buckle up, winter is coming.
Trying to rekindle an old and tumultuous relationship with a friend
Hey Reddit, I hope this doesn't get buried because I'd genuinely like a little help with this. Sorry it's so long but I think the it's important to understand our history as friends. Also WARNING, I do mention that I was assaulted so if you're sensitive to that, I suggest you don't read any further. I (24F) have been trying to reconnect with an old friend (23 Non-binary [NB?]) from my childhood. We were extremely close as friends from the ages of 7 or 8 to 12. I put the cut off at age 12 because some things changed in our relationship that would eventually lead to our relationship being rocky. We're from Canada and in our school system we have to learn French but there is an option to be in English immersion [with one French class] or French immersion [All classes except English in French]. We were both in French immersion from the beginning. We were the weird kids and I was bullied/ostracized for being weird, chubby and Black [I'm adopted and from a predominantly white area]. They struggled a lot as well in school and we bonded because of this and our shared interests in story telling. I loved Red (not real name of course) and in the early years I had no trouble showing this affection. We were together 24/7 and even had to be separated to different classrooms in grade 5. I liked their family and they got along well with mine and eventually a few others joined our group. I'll call them Flora, Alexa, Felix and Natasha. However in grade 8 we had to go to separate schools because I was struggling with comprehension in academic studies and learning in French was a bit difficult for me. I went to a separate school for a year and I could sense Red felt abandoned by that. In grade 8 I was raped by my classmate and while I'd made new friends, I felt like they wouldn't support me like Red would. I really wanted our relationship to work because I missed seeing them daily and while I never voiced it, I needed them. So I switched to the Highschool Red and the others attended for grade 9 and 10. Our relationship wasn't the same. I was in therapy for depression and this has followed even into adulthood. Red also suffered with situations relating to their mental health but more on that later. I began feeling unwanted and disposable in our friend circle. Alexa seemed to have also become the group leader in the time that I'd been at an English school and she started sharing her interests with the others. Now all they talked about was Doctor Who, Supernatural and a few other nerdy TV shows. I'm a nerd too but I wasn't a fan of those shows. I tried to make conversation in school but Red and the others seemed more interested in those conversations. In fact, Red seemed to prefer Alexa's company more. So I stopped sitting with them at lunch and instead connected with some old kids I went to Elementary school with and made new friends as well. Red and I fought about stupid things more and more. I was still being bullied and I felt so lonely all the time. We all hung out separately and together outside of school but I learned that they occasionally got together without me. I was and still am a lover of my own company but that fact stung. Red was also going through Dysmorphia and they were struggling with their gender. I didn't know or understand at the time and we had some pretty bad fights that if I look back probably stemmed from their issues with their appearance and identity. Some of the issues also stemmed from Red being diagnosed Bi-polar. I wish I'd known this at the time and could have helped. In the end, I left that Highschool with Red's group to pursue an AP Art course at another school for grade 11-12. We were still pretty good friends and while we fought, the confrontations rarely lasted long. We spent ever weekend together and still had sleepovers and ever roleplayed [like D and D but our own stories with no rules]. When we graduated, Red left the city to go to Uni. They lasted a year there and in that time they came out as Non-Binary, a term I did not understand but accepted. I'm Pansexual so I was very open to more LGBTQIA identities. Throughout all of this we still had a pretty close bond but I think emotionally I started to withdraw further. There's so much more but I'm already making a long story long. Two years later, I moved to Toronto to pursue an Illustration degree and naturally I was far from home. We kept in contact for the first few months. Throughout this whole time I was also in close contact with Flora as she's only a day older than me. I sort of considered her Red's friend but I really REALLY liked her and we got along great as she's a very calm person. In late October I was raped once again at a Halloween party. I began feeling very suicidal and I felt as though Red was asking a lot of me. They wanted me to respond to text quickly and be more communicative but between Uni, my deteriorating mental health and our past, I decided to go no contact. I still regret this decision to this day. University was hard. I missed being able to talk openly with someone in the way I did with Red. Eventually I did meet my current best friend Eliza but that took time. Eliza and I are both artist and I love her but we're not as close yet as Red and I were. Red also struggled as their family was not supportive of their gender identity/sexuality and they even battle with a period of homelessness living on our mutual friend Flora's family couch. It was bad. I ended up returning home because of health and safety concerns and reconnected with Red. They seemed thrilled at first. We had a few arguments but ultimately I felt I had my friend back. We'd both changed and I know I was colder in many regards. And I always looked to them for answers surrounding my own sadness and was upset when their responses were not what I was looking for. We talked through that however and we established boundaries. Skip forward almost two years and this past August Red stopped talking to me. Maybe I should have left it alone at this point but I don't have any of my University friends or ever our mutual friend Flora to talk to. Flora's still around but I know she's closer to Red so I don't feel right making her have to divide her attention. I left them alone for a few months, periodically checking in. They were no longer interested in seeing me in person and since then most of our interactions have been through text. Only a week ago did I reach out one last time and they seemed receptive to talked. I apologized for the grief I caused them and told them I want to talk again now that I'm more stable. I promised to take it slow and that I wouldn't push anything too far. I don't know how to take it slow however! I want to tell them everything that's happened to me in the time we've been apart and smother them in love and affection like the way I did when we were kids. But I know this time I have to really slow down if I want to really show them that I've matured and desire a good relationship. How do I talk to them now? They seem to be avoiding conversations about family which I respect and I just want to know how I should be communication with them and really build back some trust. On the other hand, after all the information above...do you think I should just back away completely? My therapist thinks I should try communication to make me feel whole again but I'm not sure. What do I do? TL;DR I'm trying to mend my long term tumultuous friendship and be a better person. How do I do it? Edit: I don't want to go into detail about my assaults. I can talk openly about the fact that they happened but not much more than that. Sorry for the long story.
An Introspection into My Complicity to Racism as a Person of Color
(tl;dr at the bottom) I made myself willfully ignorant to the strife that is at the forefront of the media today. It wasn’t until Treyvon Martin was killed while carrying a bag of skittles, Michael Brown was shot dead, and the subsequent furor that erupted from each of those instances, that I realized I was living a willfully ignorant and privileged life. And now, I regret ostracizing myself from the things that made me that ignorant person. I obfuscated anything that had to do with my African-American side of my multiracial self, out of anger towards my father. My dad grew up in the projects in New Jersey. Growing up poor, my dad made something of himself and enlisted in the US Air Force. After 20 years, he retired from serving his country in 2000. During his time in service, he met my mother (an immigrant from northern Europe) they traveled the world, and raised my brother and I. Personality conflicts and other family matters brought about a rift between him and I, and is reserved for a conversation on another day. Full anger and resentment, I did all that I could to distance myself from anything that I could that would relate the two of us. I ignored him. I avoided sports, most especially football and basketball. I stood clear of conversations about airplanes and cars, and resisted learning how to change the oil in my car. I talked disparagingly about the military and fought vehemently against his desire for me to take ROTC instead of civics. I avoided recognizing myself a person of color in a society where your skin color determines almost everything. I’d see civil rights activists and champions, race-based organizations, or leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus in the media and think, “They’re only self-segregating and making race an issue more than it really is. Not everything is about being Black.” I avoided taking African-American politics and history courses in college because I did not want to sit through what I saw as race-baiting courses. During the student organization fair my first semester, I was approached to join the multicultural student association, which I declined; I scoffed at and trashed an award for superior performance among the university’s multicultural students I received from them. I saw myself as Firstname Middlename Lastname and that’s it. Today even, I see myself as person who just so happens to be from a multicultural background, and that is not going to be the only thing outwardly rewards me and defines who I am. I want to be rewarded and recognized for being me. I am more than a statistic of a box that gets checked on forms. Every school year, by September 30, Delaware public schools had to collect and aggregate information from cards we had to fill out with demographic and emergency contact information, so they could get their state and federal dollars. For the longest time, there was never an option for “Other” or “Multiracial,” or the option to select more than one race on those cards. I never checked a box. Based on her experience in the school system, my mom told me that when schools received cards without a race identified, they would consider the student to be the race of the mother. I was not white, nor was I black. All of this infuriated me because I did not want to be delineated to a statistic and I was being forced, sometimes not given the option, to make a social construct decision that not representative of me. My dad was fortunate to get back-to-back orders for Germany and England. When his final set of orders came up, my family chose Dover Air Force Base. One of his options was a base in Georgia; my parents decided that because of our family make-up — interracial marriage, biracial children — that Georgia may not be the best option to raise a family. Although it isn't a radiant bouquet of heterogeneity, Dover, Delaware is pretty diverse compared to the surrounding cities and towns. Being the capital of the state, the second largest city, and hosting an important military base helps to bring social diversity to the city. I grew up, as I perceived, like most middle-class Americans — my brother and I were able to go to good schools; our parents were able to buy a house in the suburbs and held good jobs that afforded us simple luxuries. Even though our development was less than half of a mile from a low socioeconomic and historically black neighborhood, we never felt threatened by that neighborhood’s purported high crime rate, and we lived on as such. Most of my childhood friends were white, mostly because of my dad’s job and where we were living, both abroad and in Delaware. The American school I attended in Germany was fairly diverse, from what I can remember, but at that age, I never saw people based on their race — we were just American kids, going to school in Germany. When we moved to Dover, my perception and experience of living and going to school on base was pretty much the same as Germany, except, we could go to the local stores and not worry about speaking German, badly. And I would say it was the same once we moved off base and I was attending civilian schools It was around fifth and sixth grade when I started to notice differences in socialization — more social segregation based on likes and interests, that was sometimes correlated to race. This was also the early, early stages of conflict between my dad and I. I tried to be friends with everyone, but I found myself gravitating and socializing with the white kids because I felt like we had more in common: music, Pokemon, soccer. Maybe it was the shared commonalities that brought about my friends. Or was I able to make those friendships because my light skin made me passable for being a white kid? I mean, I liked what they liked and schools may have assumed I was since multiracialism wasn’t thing. I don’t want to ruin the few close friendships I have, so I’ll abstain from learning my friends’ honest answers, and hope that we are friends because of my character, personality, and interests. I had never felt more ostracized by peers than in middle school. For me, middle school was the Hogwarts Sorting Hat for social stratification that would define me for life. Maybe it was just the negative and hormonal culture of middle school, but if you didn’t walk, talk, or do the unwritten norms and expectations of a social stratum, you were shunned and/or ridiculed. I felt it most among my black peers who would scoff me because I wasn’t “black enough” to be social with them. In eighth grade, a light-skinned kid, who identified as black, said to me, “We look the same, but why don’t you talk or act black? Are you even black?” When I told him I was biracial, my mom is white, from EuropeanCountry, and my dad is black, from New Jersey, his response was, “maybe you should act more like yo daddy.” By this time, my dad and I were always arguing over the littlest things, so a comment like that infuriated me all the more because he was the last person with whom I wanted to be associated. I vehemently resent the notion that because my skin color is of a certain shade, I had to conform to certain social norms or it qualified me for rewards. I just wanted to be seen as and to be me. When I was applying for colleges and universities, it was suggested that I apply to Delaware State University, the local (and only) HBCU in the state. That suggestion came with a caveat that I should apply as a white student to qualify for a minority scholarship. When I heard that, it was an automatic no. I didn’t look into whether it was merit-based or if it was based on which bubble I colored in on the application, but I assumed it was the latter. To me, it was just another example of life giving me socially-imposed binary options because options for multiracial or other still weren’t a thing, and I would be just another statistic that was lauded about to reap benefits. The only overt and intentional act of racism I can honestly say I ever experienced was from a camo-wearing, white kid on the bus going home from school in sixth grade. I don’t remember the context, but I remember the offense: “Shut up, you stupid piece of caramel.” Knowing full-well what he called me, I “clapped back,” playing dumb and asking him why he called me a piece of cardboard. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it; he transferred to another school and I let it pass. A few years later, as a high school freshman, I saw the same kid walking around the hallways almost always donning an oversized white t-shirt and jeans barely covering his backside; him and a few other white students hung out with the black kids during lunch and after school. He was colloquially identified as a “wigger.” I took English in the spring semester and learned the literary term “juxtaposition.” The very first thing that I associated that word to was an image of the camo kid calling me a piece of caramel, next to his older self (possibly) appropriating the culture of people who are caramel-skinned and darker. The mental image is still something that comes to mind and I taught at it. I have not had any animosity towards him and appreciate that he had gained respect across the social strata. His comment didn’t hurt me then and doesn’t pain me now. What does pain me now, however, is my unchallenged and unchecked privilege to be able to walk away from that incident in sixth grade, see the same kid again in ninth, then go on living my life unscathed by it or any other overtly intentional action of racism or discrimination directed at me. I knew racism had not been eradicated in the 1960s, but I thought it was subdued, hush hush, and only happened in rare instances, like on the bus coming home, or whenever the media caught footage of a Klan rally. I didn’t know or think to know that African-Americans and people of color were likely harassed, arrested, or killed in the neighborhood nearby at a higher rate than their white neighbors. How privileged was I to be able to reject a scholarship and admonish an award based on my skin color, when, because of how broken the system is, sometimes that is the only way people of color are able to afford to get a college education or get recognized for their successes and achievements? How privileged am I to only slightly fear that my life may be at risk while walking or driving in the South, when there is no doubt that someone darker than me has fear gauge that is always on the high end of the scale?. How privileged was I to brush off the pain and suffering of others, near and far, all because I didn’t want to be associated with my dad? How privileged was I to treat race relations the same way white people did? How privileged I was to be so racist. As I was writing this, I thought about some of my students and the school district where I did my student teaching in Pennsylvania in 2014. Majority of the students were white, from mid- to upper-middle class families and neighborhoods. During my time in the district, I noticed that more than a few of my African-American and other low-socioeconomic status students were from one neighborhood within the district, one that was identified as having a low-SES. This all came to mind because I asked myself, “Is it possible that those students' families wound up living there due to to redlining?” I only learned about redlining within the last two years. So thinking back to 2014, there I was, a senior studying at a four-year university, about to graduate, teaching American government, and I did not even fully know or understand possible reasons for some of my students’ situations because of my own willful, self-imposed ignorance. How privileged is that? If I had looked inward to see that my both my mother and father worked so hard, and spent so much money and time to provide for my brother and I, so we would not live in a neighborhood like my students did. I was so blinded and insensitive to see that my dad made something of himself so we, his family, did not have to live in similar conditions as his upbringing, which enabled me to not ignore the realities of other people of the same world I lived in. Although a lot of my ignorance is of my own doing, I’d be remised not to acknowledge how white-washed the public education curriculum was, looking back. African-American history was relegated, almost entirely to the month of February. I recall a couple instances where prominent figures were discussed outside of the 28- or 29-day window, like Jesse Owens during the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Not once in my elementary or secondary education did we cover Juneteenth and the significance of June 19, 1865. I didn’t learn about the Black Wall Street Massacre, or that contemporary Pride Month celebrations are attributed to the activism of Marsha P. Johnson and other African-Americans and people of color, or what the underlying systemic issues were that fueled the Rodney King riots. It was as if that part of the history and civics curriculum stops after 1968, then picks picks up again in 2008. It’s even worse regarding Native American history: Pocahontas, false Thanksgiving narratives, the good parts of manifest destiny and Sacajawea, “the Trail of Tears was wrong, now moving on.” I didn’t learn about Europeans intentionally gifting Native Americans blankets, laden with smallpox until I took American History I in college, and that was within the first week of class. I’m not blaming education system for my own faults, but it contributed in my lack of initial awareness of issues. I can only imagine how much more I would have learned, then, if I had opened myself up to a new, different perspective perspective, instead of being resentful and selfish. What if I had taken African-American History or African-American Politics? I would have been enlightened to, acknowledged, recognized, and reacted to the pain and injustice, and I, for sure, would not be feeling as remorseful and disappointed in myself as I am. I’m “woke” now, and I regret, deeply regret being so naive and incredulous I used to think, “Not everything is about race or being black,” whenever Rev. Al Sharpton or others were on TV. Hearing them continually saying that there are still problems of racism and discrimination in America, made me uneasy. But now, looking back, that was the point. Almost all of the struggles of African-Americans and other people of color are due implicitly or explicitly to their race. Challenging racism and discrimination is undoing something that is so deeply woven into the fabric of our society; that uneasy, uncomfortable feeling is the loose stitching that could potentially reveal the ugly, harsh truth that is paramount across this country, and is our unwillingness and reluctance to want to change the narrative or the system. I attempted, and succeeded for the most part, in disassociating myself from my dad. In turn, I disassociated my identity from a pseudoscience, a social construct of taxonomy rooted in the United States on hatred of the other because of the natural, immutable circumstance that happens to be largely based on someone’s skin color. My resentment and disassociation was fueled by my own opinions, incited my racism. This social construct is built on hatred, whether unconscious or overt, systemic or extrinsic, and it reigns unchecked. When it is challenged, others have retorted with cries of “don’t do that like that,” demanding conformity to the status quo. The protestors change tactics to continue demanding changes to the system because it is horribly broken. However, it seems that no matter what form of protest is used, it’s not the “right way” to fix the problem. People of all walks of life took to the streets to protest the murder of George Floyd,another black man at the hands of an institution of the state, an institution that was created for entrapping and returning black people who were deemed property of white people — that is not the proper way. Colin Kaepernick loves his country so much, he knelt during its national anthem because it is harming its own and doing nothing about it; seems that was too vile and negatively effected revenue, because that was also the wrong way to protest. “Protest like MLK.” Okay… Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. advocated for active, non-violent, peaceful protesting for justice and equality until the day he was assassinated — assassinated because what he professed, was not the right way to go about getting change. Our nation’s founders wrote that when the government infringes upon the natural rights of its people, the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, it justifies the right of the people to revolt in an effort to alter or abolish it. Although he advocated nonviolence in his pursuit of racial justice, he acknowledged “…that a riot is the language of the unheard.” Some of protests of today have turned riotous; that means that the cries of racial injustice are still unheard, 54 years after Dr. King said those words. So, what is the right way to elicit change? I have changed my thought process because I recognize, see, and feel the pain and disenfranchisement of Black/African-Americans, Indigenous, and People of Color. I see that, now more than ever, there is a need to address and take concerted action to bring about justice and equality, and heal this 400-year old wound of our country. Thanks for reading. tl;dr: I'm a person of color who was complicit in systemic racism and used racist rhetoric as part my attempt to disassociate myself from my African-American dad.
It’s time for MAME 0.218, the first MAME release of 2020! We’ve added a couple of very interesting alternate versions of systems this month. One is a location test version of NMK’s GunNail, with different stage order, wider player shot patterns, a larger player hitbox, and lots of other differences from the final release. The other is The Last Apostle Puppetshow, an incredibly rare export version of Home Data’s Reikai Doushi. Also significant is a newer version Valadon Automation’s Super Bagman. There’s been enough progress made on Konami’s medal games for a number of them to be considered working, including Buttobi Striker, Dam Dam Boy, Korokoro Pensuke, Shuriken Boy and Yu-Gi-Oh Monster Capsule. Don’t expect too much in terms of gameplay though — they’re essentially gambling games for children. There are several major computer emulation advances in this release, in completely different areas. Possibly most exciting is the ability to install and run Windows NT on the MIPS Magnum R4000 “Jazz” workstation, with working networking. With the assistance of Ash Wolf, MAME now emulates the Psion Series 5mx PDA. Psion’s EPOC32 operating system is the direct ancestor of the Symbian operating system, that powered a generation of smartphones. IDE and SCSI hard disk support for Acorn 8-bit systems has been added, the latter being one of the components of the BBC Domesday Project system. In PC emulation, Windows 3.1 is now usable with S3 ViRGE accelerated 2D video drivers. F.Ulivi has contributed microcode-level emulation of the iSBC-202 floppy controller for the Intel Intellec MDS-II system, adding 8" floppy disk support. Of course there are plenty of other improvements and additions, including re-dumps of all the incorrectly dumped GameKing cartridges, disassemblers for PACE, WE32100 and “RipFire” 88000, better Geneve 9640 emulation, and plenty of working software list additions. You can get the source and 64-bit Windows binary packages from the download page (note that 32-bit Windows binaries and “zip-in-zip” source code are no longer supplied).
MAME Testers Bugs Fixed
04300: [DIP/Input] (cliffhgr.cpp) cliffhgr, cliffhnga: DIP switch values are reversed for “Short Scenes”. (italiandoh)
06897: [Graphics] (stfight.cpp) empcity: Red screen during scene transitions. (sasuke)
07336: [Sound] (intv.cpp) intv, intvoice [b17bomb]: No speech in Mattel Intellivision games. [iwilliamson]
07516: [Crash/Freeze] (twins.cpp) twins, twinsed2: Games lock up or reset after level 1-5. (Angelo Salese)
07530: [Crash/Freeze] (apollo.cpp) dn3000, dn3500, dn5500: Resetting via typing RE crashes the emulator. (Ivan Vangelista)
07531: [Crash/Freeze] (pong.cpp) breakout: MAME crashes with exception with -video bgfx. (Couriersud)
07533: [Graphics] (bnstars.cpp) bnstars1: Broken sprites and missing graphics. (cam900)
07534: [Timing] (apple2e.cpp) apple2ee: Time advances too quickly when using Thunderclock. (R. Belmont)
07554: [Graphics] (m68705prg.cpp) All machines in m68705prg.cpp no longer show LED values (default 000) when booting. (hap)
New working machines
The Apprentice (Senario, Plug and Play) [Sean Riddle, David Haywood]
Big Bonus Slots (Senario, Plug and Play) [Sead Riddle, David Haywood]
Conny PDC100 - Pocket Dream Console [Sean Riddle, David Haywood]
Cosmo Girl (Senario, Plug and Play) [Sean Riddle, David Haywood]
Takara / SSD Company LTD / newgent e-kara (Spain, includes 3 songs) [Sean Riddle, ClawGrip]
VS Computer Mahjong [ShouTime]
Wild Cat 3 (CMV4 hardware) [Ioannis Bampoulas]
ZIDA 4DVS [rfka01]
New working software list additions
Air Navigation Trainer (cleanly cracked), Barron's Computer SAT Study Program (Version 1.0) (cleanly cracked), The Boy Jesus (cleanly cracked), Diascriptive Reading I (cleanly cracked), Green Globs and Graphing Equations (cleanly cracked), In Search of the Most Amazing Thing (First Revision) (cleanly cracked), Instant Recall (Version 1.1) (cleanly cracked), Magic Mailer (Version 1.1) (cleanly cracked), MicroChess (Version 2.0) (cleanly cracked), Mind Over Minors (cleanly cracked), The Spy's Adventures in North America (Version 1987-10-31) (cleanly cracked), Temple of Apshai (cleanly cracked), What's My Logic? (Version 1.0) (cleanly cracked), Wiziprint (Version 2.01) (cleanly cracked) [4am, Firehawke]
Adventure Creator (cleanly cracked), Construct-A-Word II (cleanly cracked), Life Science (cleanly cracked), MIDI/4 (Revision 5) (cleanly cracked), The Quarter Mile (Version 4.0) (800K 3.5") (cleanly cracked) [4am, san, Firehawke]
apple2_flop_orig: The Abyssal Zone, Adventure, Adventure Construction Set, Alien Typhoon, The Alpine Encounter, Amazon, Amnesia, The Ancient Art of War, Arthur: The Quest for Excalibur, The Bard's Tale, Borg, The Breckenridge Caper of 1798, Chess (Odesta) (Version 7.0), Crown of Arthain, Cuban Fantasy, The Dark Heart of Uukrul, Dave Winfield's Batter Up!, Diamond Mine, Dinosaur Days Plus!, Drug Alert!, Dunjonquest: Hellfire Warrior (Version 1), Dunjonquest: Hellfire Warrior (Version 2), Dunjonquest: Hellfire Warrior (Version 3), Dunjonquest: The Temple of Apshai (Revision 1), Dunjonquest: The Temple of Apshai (Revision 2), Dunjonquest: The Temple of Apshai (Revision 3), Dunjonquest: The Temple of Apshai (Revision 4), Earth Orbit Stations, Ecology Simulations II, Galactic Attack, Gears, Gold Rush! (Version 1.0M), Green Globs and Graphing Equations, Horizon V, The Hunt for Red October, In Search of the Most Amazing Thing, Interpreting Graphs, Into The Eagle's Nest, Journey (version 16), King's Bounty, Koronis Rift, Lords of Karma, Neuromancer, New World, Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It (Release 19 / 870722), Now You See It, Now You Don't - Was it there? Was it missing?, Portal, Quest for the Scarlet Letter, Questprobe featuring The Hulk (Version 2.3/127), Rambo: First Blood Part II, Shogun, Southern Command, Space Quest: The Sarien Encounter, Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator, SwordThrust, Tangled Tales, Thrilogy, Wizardry II: The Knight of Diamonds (Version PV3S2V1/10-MAR-82), Wizardry IV: The Return of Werdna, Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord (Version 2.1), Wiziprint (Version 2.1), Xyphus, Zork Zero [4am, Firehawke]
bbcb_flop: AMX Stop Press, BBC-Z88 Transfer Link, Beeb OPL: AdLib Christmas Carols, Beeb OPL: AdLib Classical Favourites #1, Beeb OPL: AdLib Jukebox, Beeb OPL: AdLib Jukebox Bonus Disc, Beeb OPL: AdLib Pop/Rock Grooves, Beeb OPL: Brix, Beeb OPL: Droplay, Beeb OPL: DynaBlaster, Beeb OPL: Jill of the Jungle, Beeb OPL: KiloBlaster, Beeb OPL: Solar Winds, Beeb OPL: Wacky Wheels, Beeb OPL: Xargon, Beeb OPL: Zone 66, BeebSID 19 - Classical, Chauffeur, Christmas Crackers, Enigma, EV1 Camera Interface, Harston ADFS System Disk 6.10, Icon Art Master, The Krystal Connection, MagScan - The Beebug Bibliography Disc v1.31, MEDL Tracker Ball Utilities, Mountain Panic, MR4200 32K RAM Board, Paranoid, UTILRAM: The Utility RAM, Video Camera Interface, VideoNuLA Support Disc, The Wapping Editor Utilities 1.21, The Wapping Editor Utilities 1.30, White Light, Zap! [Nigel Barnes]
BMX Racers (set 4, Visiload loaders), The CF Power Pack Tape 5, Hero of the Golden Talisman, Match Point (set 2), Mermaid Madness, On Court Tennis, On Field Football, Outlaws, Rad Ramp Racer, Run the Gauntlet, Short Circuit, Skate Rock Simulator, Space Hunter, Spellbound, Sweep, Talladega, Yogi's Great Escape (set 2) [FakeShemp]
Hole In One [FakeShemp, c64tapes.org]
Emit Vol. 3 - Watashi ni Sayonara o, The New Zealand Story (HMA-213) [redump.org, r09]
Shooting Towns [rockleevk, r09]
gameking: 4 in 1 - SeaGuard + Whirlybird + Spectask + Captain (set 2), 4 in 1 - Three Battles + Light Sword + Risker + Metal Deform (1MB cartridge), 4 in 1 Vol. 10 - Soldier + Seatercel + General + Seafight (1MB cartridge), [TeamEurope, SSJ]
gmaster: Finite Zone [SSJ, Maxime Cohin, PeT]
UCSD p-System [Davide Cavalca]
Apogee Software Bonus Disk (Jumpman Lives!, Commander Keen in Invasion of the Vorticons) [Justin Kerk]
ibm5170: Goal!, Street Fighter II [ArcadeShadow]
jupace_cass: Forth Surround, Superchess II [Robbbert]
jupace_snap: Casse Briques, Champs De Mines, Millipede, Pacman, Valkyr [Robbbert]
megadriv: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (World, prototype 19920821), Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (World, prototype 19920914) [drx, FakeShemp]
n64: 007 - The World Is Not Enough (prototype, version 21) [Paulweeze71, FakeShemp]
casloopy: Little Romance, Video Seal Wordprocessor [SSJ, TeamEurope]
gmaster: Space Warrior [SSJ, Maxime Cohin, PeT]
iqunlim_cart: Englisch für Anfänger [TeamEurope]
pi_storyreader_cart: Toy Story 2 [Sean Riddle, ClawGrip]
pi_storyreader_v2_cart: Toy Story 2 [Sean Riddle, ClawGrip]
sega_beena_cart: Kazoku Minna no Nouryoku Trainer, Meet Bub-Bub to Eigo Tanken, Oshare Majo Love and Berry-Cute ni Oshare, Oshare ni Henshin HeartCatch PreCure!, Pocket Monsters Best Wishes! Chinou Ikusei Pokémon Daiundoukai [TeamEurope]
telestory_cart: La Cenicienta - Bellezas en Flor / Cinderella - Beauties in Bloom (Spain), El Rey León II - El orgullo de Simba / The Lion King II - Simba's Pride (Spain), Winnie the Pooh - Salta, Tigger, Salta / Winnie the Pooh - Bounce, Tigger, Bounce (Spain) [Sean Riddle, ClawGrip]
vbaby_cart: El Jardín de los Sueños... (Spain) [Sean Riddle, ClawGrip]
bus/ss50/dc5.cpp: Added configuration option to force ready when motor is enabled. [68bit]
Allows SWTBUG to boot without patching the ROM to ignore the ready status.
formats/ap2_dsk.cpp: Don’t use symbolic names in the options specification, as the values are used as preprocessor tokens. [68bit]
cpu/t11: Changed disassembler and register display to use octal number format, and fixed disassembly of SOB instruction. [AJR]
cpu/v60: Sign-extend displacements for various addressing modes and DB/TB instructions. [AJR, Tahg]
Added disassembler and preliminary emulation for National Semiconductor PACE CPU architecture. [AJR]
Added disassembler AT&T WE32100 CPU architecture. [AJR]
rendebgfx: Fixed incorrect swapping of red and blue components of screen tint. [AJR]