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Chronos Tachyon
San Francisco, CA
Gay atheist computer geek
Recent Activity
If you pay close attention to the lessons of recent centuries, you learn that the most powerful weapon in the service of discrimination has been shame. The first step in destroying discrimination, whichever guise it takes, is to blunt the impact of shame so that the weapon is rendered harmless. With this threat removed, the way is paved for a social movement to arise, one that will transform the broader society and shine light on the discrimination, which can only survive in the shadows of the mind where it is protected from reason and reflection. In the specific case of discrimination against gay men, it was once illegal to serve alcohol to a homosexual, and at that time it was common practice for the police to extort money out of a gay bar's owners. If the money didn't come through, or some zealous vice cop decided to skip the extortion and bring down the hammer of judgment, then the police would raid the bar, arrest all the patrons, and publish their names in the newspaper for the sake of public shaming. In those days, the bars (an outgrowth of British "Molly Houses") were the only place where gay men could come together and socialize -- to form a community -- yet this threat of arrest and public shame was enough to frighten many gay men away from the bars, isolating them in a prison of secrecy. The Stonewall Riots, sparked when patrons of the Stonewall Inn refused arrest and violently took to the streets, burned in the minds of the frightened, isolated gay men who had previously avoided the bars. They received a taste of community, one that wasn't confined to shadowy places where the public did not look, but instead one that could spread like wildfire through the very newspapers that had frightened them so deeply. That spark of hope ignited a fire of defiance and solidarity: on the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, people burst out of their hiding places and formed the first Pride Parade, an defiant act that reveled in the sheer audacity of being *openly homosexual in public*. The threat of arrest and public shaming, once the most powerful threat to keep gay men disorganized, instantly became a slap on the wrist. Now that gay men had revealed themselves *in public* for who they truly were, they could form communities openly, without the cloak-and-dagger secrecy of the bars, and no amount of scolding could prevent them from organizing. People lost their jobs, were disowned by their families, and were harassed by their neighbors, yet the solidarity of community was enough to keep hope burning and persevere.
Toggle Commented Nov 14, 2010 on A shameful assertion of 'pride' at Change of Subject
For what it's worth, I'd recommend weighing daily but keeping a moving average. Don't pay any attention to the daily numbers, and watch the moving average instead. The Wikipedia page on "Moving average" has some math-y bits on the different kinds of moving average that are out there, but an easy one is the exponential moving average. To keep one of those up to day, you simply take [0.90 times yesterday's moving average] and add it to [0.10 times today's weight]. "Exponential" makes it sound complicated, but it's really grade-school math. It turns out that, if you use those multipliers (0.90 and 0.10), then data from today is roughly twice as important as data from one week ago. This means the average is always fairly up-to-date, mostly based on the last few days, but today's data can't move the average very much by itself. Only a real, sustained trend over multiple days (in either direction) can budge the average. That lets you ignore the stress over daily ups-and-downs, and concentrate on the actual trends.
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