March 8, 2013

Narrative Paralysis

Filed under: a/b,interfaces,life — mhoye @ 9:33 am

Yesterday on the subway I watched a man write “KEY INSIGHTS” at the top of a page in his Moleskine, and then just stare at the page unmoving for the next six stops. He hadn’t budged when I stepped off to switch trains; I have to admit that as the minutes ticked by, I struggled not to start laughing right there. “ZOMG Thought Leadership Liek Woah”, I was thinking.

This morning I realized I’d been staring at an email window with a “To:” line, a title, and a cursor blinking away in an otherwise empty editor for at least five minutes, maybe more.

Sorry, key-insights-on-the-subway-guy. The inside of my head could have been a little more sympathetic, it turns out.

November 7, 2012

Flip All The Pronouns

Filed under: a/b,digital,hate,interfaces,parenting,toys,vendetta — mhoye @ 8:56 pm

On A Certain Island

Maya and I have been playing through Windwaker together; she likes sailing, scary birds and remembering to be brave, rescuing her little brother and finding out what’s happening to Medli and her dragon boat.

She’s the hero of the story, of course.

It’s annoying and awkward, to put it mildly, having to do gender-translation on the fly when Maya asks me to read what it says on the screen. You can pick your character’s name, of course – I always stick with Link, being a traditionalist – but all of the dialog insists that Link is a boy, and there’s apparently nothing to be done about it.

Well, there wasn’t anything to be done about it, certainly not anything easy, but as you might imagine I’m not having my daughter growing up thinking girls don’t get to be the hero and rescue their little brothers.

This isn’t particularly user-friendly; you’ll need to download the Dolphin emulator and find a Windwaker .GCM, the Gamecube disk image with this SHA-1 hash:

Original: 6b5f06c10d50ebb4099cded88217eb71e5bfbb4a

and then you’ll need to figure out how to use xdelta3 to apply a binary patch to that image.

This patch.

When you’re done the resulting disk image will have the following SHA-1 hash:

Result: 6a480ffd8ecb6c254f65c0eb8e0538f7b30cfaa7

… and all the dialog will now refer to Link as a young woman, rather than as a young man.

I think I’ve gotten this right – this was all done directly on the original disk image with a hex editor, so all the changes needed to be the same byte-for-byte length, in-place. I haven’t had time to play through the whole game to test it yet, and some of the constructions aren’t perfect. I’ve borrowed Donaldson’s “Swordmain” coinage to replace “Swordsman”, for example, and there’s lots of “milady” replacing “my lad” and “master”, because I couldn’t find a better way to rewrite them in exactly the amount of space allotted. If you come up with something better, I’m all ears.

I’m going to audit it shortly, and may update this post to reflect that. For now, though, here you go.

FemLink or you’re doing it wrong.

June 12, 2012

Bear Baiting (updated…)

Filed under: a/b,awesome,interfaces,vendetta — mhoye @ 7:45 pm

More Underground

You may have heard that the FunnyJunk website – no link, but it’s your typically garish stolen-content-to-sell-ads web-hovel – have tried to extort one of the people they stole stuff from, to the tune of about $20k.

The Tubes Were Displeased:

“I really did not expect that he would marshal an army of people who would beseech my website and send me a string of obscene emails,” he says.

“I’m completely unfamiliar really with this style of responding to a legal threat — I’ve never really seen it before,” Carreon explains. “I don’t like seeing anyone referring to my mother as a sexual deviant,” he added, referencing the drawing Inman posted.


In the meantime, Inman is trying to figure out how to explain that he needs to withdraw over $100,000 so that he can photograph it next to a drawing of someone’s mother attempting to sweet-talk a bear.

He raised the $20k for charity in one hour and four minutes. That number currently stands at just shy of $120,000.

God, I love the internet.

UPDATE: The situation has escalated.

May 10, 2012

On The Perpetual Threat Of Regressive Nonsense In Children’s Literature

Don't Interrupt

We took Arthur’s Science Fair Trouble out of the library for Maya the other day, and let me tell you: I had always suspected that most of what adults tell you is bullshit, but children’s books live at some horrible Venn overlap of Moore and Sturgeon’s respective Laws where 90% of everything is not only crap but getting twice as crappy every year and a half or so.

I had to go over this book carefully with Maya after I read it, to explain to her why every single part of it is wrong. The description from the dust cover reads:

Arthur has to do a science fair project, but all of the good ideas are taken: Buster is building a rocket, Muffy is growing crystals, and Francine is making a bird feeder. Arthur learns a valuable lesson when he finds his father’s old solar system project in the attic and tries to use it for his own science fair project.

That’s right: Arthur’s in a pickle, because all the good science ideas have been done by other children doing wholly original work. But when Arthur instead decides to update his father’s old solar system project (repainting it) and presenting that he feels, we are told, terribly guilty, finally breaking down after winning first prize to admit the work wasn’t wholly his. He is suitably chastised, of course.

I don’t think Maya understood my rant about why verifying old assumptions was incredibly valuable, not merely per se but particularly in light of Pluto’s redefined status and the inclusion of Eris and Ceres in the “Dwarf Planet” category as well.

I had to explain to her Arthur was explaining the evolution of cosmology by repurposing and updating older (handmade by his father!) demonstration materials, which is not only great on its own, but vastly better scientific and expository work than his classmates’ projects, who were showing no insight into why assembling premanufactured toys might not count as science.

“Maya, the people harassing Arthur for this are lazy, ignorant people saying dumb things to make Arthur feel bad, and Arthur is wrong to feel bad about his work. Building on top of each others’ work is the only reason we have this world of incredible, miraculous wonder we live in, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

I don’t think it stuck, but I’ll keep repeating it.

I was thinking about this today when this quote from Mark Twain on plagiarism started making the rounds:

Mark Twain, letter to Helen Keller, after she had been accused of plagiarism for one of her early stories (17 March 1903), published in Mark Twain’s Letters, Vol. 1 (1917) edited by Albert Bigelow Paine, p. 731:

Oh, dear me, how unspeakably funny and owlishly idiotic and grotesque was that “plagiarism” farce! As if there was much of anything in any human utterance, oral or written, except plagiarism! The kernal, the soul — let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances — is plagiarism. For substantially all ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily used by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them; whereas there is not a rag of originality about them anywhere except the little discoloration they get from his mental and moral calibre and his temperament, and which is revealed in characteristics of phrasing. When a great orator makes a great speech you are listening to ten centuries and ten thousand men — but we call it his speech, and really some exceedingly smail portion of it is his. But not enough to signify. It is merely a Waterloo. It is Wellington’s battle, in some degree, and we call it his; but there are others that contributed. It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph, or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a photograph, or a telephone or any other important thing—and the last man gets the credit and we forget the others. He added his little mite — that is all he did. These object lessons should teach us that ninety-nine parts of all things that proceed from the intellect are plagiarisms, pure and simple; and the lesson ought to make us modest. But nothing can do that.

Which is all to say: Constant vigilance!

April 3, 2012

“I ain’t in this for your revolution and I’m not in it for you, Princess.”

Filed under: a/b,arcade,digital,doom,fail,hate,interfaces,losers,vendetta — mhoye @ 9:54 am


It’s an old joke, with that wonderful undercurrent of bigoted misogyny that so many old jokes have: some creepy old dude propositions young woman by asking if she’d sleep with him for a million dollars, which she concedes she would. He follows that up asking if she’d sleep with him for a nickel; she replies, of course not, what kind of person do you think I am?

“We’ve established that”, he replies. “Now we’re just haggling about the price.”

The sort of horrid old joke told by horrid old people, to be sure, but there’s a tiny kernel of capital-T Truth in there: we should be honest with ourselves, at the very least, about when we’re talking about matters of principle or when we’re dickering over the price tag, and what that means about us.

Exhibit 1: George Lucas testifying before Congress in 1998 about copyright and the importance of artistic integrity.

“The destruction of our film heritage, which is the focus of concern today, is only the tip of the iceberg. American law does not protect our painters, sculptors, recording artists, authors, or filmmakers from having their lifework distorted, and their reputation ruined. If something is not done now to clearly state the moral rights of artists, current and future technologies will alter, mutilate, and destroy for future generations the subtle human truths and highest human feeling that talented individuals within our society have created.”

“[…] People who alter or destroy works of art and our cultural heritage for profit or as an exercise of power are barbarians, and if the laws of the United States continue to condone this behavior, history will surely classify us as a barbaric society. The preservation of our cultural heritage may not seem to be as politically sensitive an issue as “when life begins” or “when it should be appropriately terminated,” but it is important because it goes to the heart of what sets mankind apart. Creative expression is at the core of our humanness. Art is a distinctly human endeavor. We must have respect for it if we are to have any respect for the human race.”

“These current defacements are just the beginning. Today, engineers with their computers can add color to black-and-white movies, change the soundtrack, speed up the pace, and add or subtract material to the philosophical tastes of the copyright holder. Tomorrow, more advanced technology will be able to replace actors with “fresher faces,” or alter dialogue and change the movement of the actor’s lips to match. It will soon be possible to create a new “original” negative with whatever changes or alterations the copyright holder of the moment desires. The copyright holders, so far, have not been completely diligent in preserving the original negatives of films they control. In order to reconstruct old negatives, many archivists have had to go to Eastern bloc countries where American films have been better preserved.”

“In the future it will become even easier for old negatives to become lost and be “replaced” by new altered negatives. This would be a great loss to our society. Our cultural history must not be allowed to be rewritten.”

Exhibit 2: Dancing to “I’m Han Solo”, in the Kinect Star Wars video game, a rewritten version of Jason Derulo’s “Ridin’ Solo”

I’m feeling like a star,
You can’t stop my shine.
I’m lovin’ Cloud City,
My head’s in the sky.

I’m solo, I’m Han Solo.
I’m Han Solo.
I’m Han Solo, Solo.

Yeah, I’m feelin’ good tonight,
Finally feelin’ free and it feels so right, oh.
Time to do the things I like,
Gonna see a Princess, everything’s all right, oh.
No Jabba to answer to,
Ain’t a fixture in the palace zoo, no.
And since that carbonite’s off me,
I’m livin’ life now that I’m free, yeah.

Told me to get myself together,
Now I got myself together, yeah.
Now I made it through the weather,
Better days are gonna get better.
I’m so happy the carbonite is gone,
I’m movin’ on.
I’m so happy that it’s over now,
The pain is gone.

I’m puttin’ on my shades
to cover up my eyes.
I’m jumpin’ in my ride,
I’m heading out tonight

I’m solo, I’m Han Solo.
I’m Han Solo.
I’m Han Solo, Solo.

I’m pickin’ up my blaster,
Put it on my side,
I’m jumpin’ in my Falcon,
Wookie at my side.

I’m solo, I’m Han Solo.
I’m Han Solo.
I’m Han Solo, Solo.

Possibly the worst part being that this is actually an inoffensive, blandly-rehashed second-order derivative of a parody MC Chris did better.

March 31, 2012

Finished (Updated…)

Filed under: a/b,digital,documentation,doom,fail,hate,interfaces,losers,vendetta — mhoye @ 8:08 am

UPDATE: Scroll down. But they’re still finished, make no mistake about that.

I’ve mentioned in the past that RIM’s fundamental problem is that they’ve been shipping the same goddamn device, over and over again, since at least 2004. But check this out: on the heels of Blackberry’s recent announcements of collapsing financials and a management purge, I’ve just been informed that a new simulator is available for the upcoming Blackberry 9220, for developers to test on.

Noteworthy features include:

  • 320 x 240 resolution, 164 dpi
  • Memory: 512 MB Internal Persistent Storage, 512 MB RAM
  • 2 MP Camera, 5 X digital zoom
  • FM Radio

It apparently will play video, though at a maximum of 15 frames per second.

It’s got more memory, and adds wireless-N to the B/G (and, woo, an FM radio) but that’s the same screen and camera resolution that shipped in the Blackberry Curve 8320.

That shipped in 2007.

What. I. Do. Not. Even.

So, if you have RIM stock and haven’t gotten rid of it already, get out now.

UPDATE – Brought to me by Jasper in the comments: holy crap, check this out. The first mention of the 9220, dated 2008. Given that specs made perfect sense in 2008, this is craziness – Jasper rightly observes, it’s either been in development hell for four years, or they’ve just found a warehouse full of them somewhere and they’ve got to figure out how to get them out the door before RIM goes belly up for good.

I’m pretty sure – judging from the last of the comments – that this is just a numerical overlap. The first 9220 looks like the one they’re preparing to ship now, and the “9220 Curve” mentioned later in the comments (with specs that are significantly better than the 9220 of today, bizarrely) simply doesn’t exist.

Nevertheless – what a gong show.

February 26, 2012

The Tale Of The Tape

Filed under: a/b,awesome,documentation,parenting,toys — mhoye @ 11:57 pm

Kevin Gildea is hard to google.

He’s an English professor in the Ottawa area, part-time (from what I can tell) at both Ottawa U and Carleton. When I was in his class a decade ago, he never gave you the sense of being self-aggrandizing enough to have a web presence, much less the fan base he should. He’s the only professor I’ve ever had who in a single lecture managed to completely dismantle and rebuild my sense of self and place, and change the whole direction my life has taken.

He had Nietzsche’s help to do it, but hey, backstory time; I was having a shitty year at the tail end of a series of shitty years, partway through a degree I didn’t know if I wanted or cared about or not, staring down a future I didn’t know if I wanted or not, and not really having a sense of what I could do, or if there was anything I could do, about any of it. And what he said, approximately, was this:

Suppose, for a moment, that space is finite. Space is finite, matter is finite. Time is infinite. Take that as your axioms. What does that mean? A lot of things, but one of the things it means is that there’s a finite number of ways that the matter in all the space can all fit together. So eventually, everything will repeat itself: all of us are going to be here in this exact room, having this exact conversation, again. And again. And then he said, who’s responsible for your situation? Not who’s fault is it, but who is responsible for it? If not you, who else could it be? And if you’re unhappy, what’s keeping you unhappy, if not your choice to remain where you are?

If you don’t like where you are, what’s stopping you from changing that except you?

Nietzsche said it like this:

“What if a demon crept after thee into thy loneliest loneliness some day or night, and said to thee: “This life, as thou livest it at present, and hast lived it, thou must live it once more, and also innumerable times; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and every sigh, and all the unspeakably small and great in thy life must come to thee again, and all in the same series and sequence-and similarly this spider and this moonlight among the trees, and similarly this moment, and I myself. The eternal sand-glass of existence will ever be turned once more, and thou with it, thou speck of dust!”- Wouldst thou not throw thyself down and gnash thy teeth, and curse the demon that so spake? Or hast thou once experienced a tremendous moment in which thou wouldst answer him: “Thou art a God, and never did I hear anything so divine!”

It doesn’t matter if the postulates are scientifically true or not, because you are here, now. This is a way of thinking; what would you have to do, who would you have to become to own your choices without remorse or fear or nagging doubt, to be able to say honestly that you don’t fear being here in this moment, again and again, forever?

Longtime readers will note that I’ve mentioned it once or twice before; it made quite an impression. But I’ve occasionally had the sense that much like Nietzsche’s abyss, as I try to embrace the ideal, the ideal tries also to embrace me.

Wife has sudden back pains? Surprise early trip to the hospital? Yeah, I know this game.
Posted by mhoye at 11:56 PM – 22 Feb 12

That was Wednesday night: surprise, we’re doing it all over again. Except this time we’re a week pre-term.

At about 9:00 Wednesday night, Arlene went from feeling mildly uncomfortable to agonizing contractions in the space of twenty minutes. We called the hospital, and they say that when they start coming five minutes apart and lasting for twenty seconds, you should come in. So we start timing them, and for the next twenty minutes they’re three minutes apart and lasting for thirty seconds. We call them back, and this time we’re not asking. Maya’s mercifully asleep, and we called a friend over to keep an eye on the house while we pile the bags into the car and roll off to the hospital. Parking lot, wheelchair, triage, nice and chilly, keep moving.

Suppose for a moment that bed space is finite and time is of the essence. They booked us into the same room we were in last time, room 707.

Really world, I was thinking, that’s how we’re going to play this? Really?


I’ve done this before; I know I’m tooled up for this work. If that’s how it’s going to be, let’s get started.

Bring it.

I mentioned this last time: when I say things like that, the universe hears me. And that night, the universe obliged. In the broad strokes, we did the whole thing again: sudden onset labor, epidural, low progression, instrumentation, c-section, all of it. But to my surprise all of that happened on what looked for lack of a better term like Easy Mode; slower, more predictably, better-managed and almost entirely crisis-free.

I didn’t hear the words “crash”, “emergency” or “distress” mentioned even once.

We got triaged quickly and cleanly, on a night where the hospital wasn’t clearly overloaded and threatening to go off the rails. The epidural went in on the first try instead of the eighth. The labor took a long time, but didn’t fail out dramatically at any point. I got to track Arlene’s progress on the printed readouts over the day, and talk to the staff about hour-over-hour trends instead of hearing them mutter nervously about the last five minutes; one nurse complimented me on that, which was nice. The decision to go in for a caesarean section was made in a calm room full of people with the time to give the question its due consideration.

The long wait alone in the room after Arlene had been wheeled into the operating room to get prepped was about three times as long as the last one, and it was a hard wait; how could it be anything else? But it wasn’t the bone-charring nightmare fuel I very, very seriously expected. I have a lot of confidence in the East York General staff now; I know we’re getting through this.

Carter came out looking like a slightly smallish, slightly beat up and other wise utterly normal kid. I had him lying on my chest and my wife’s hand in the other when the only real excitement of the day started and my wife got very pale and started shaking uncontrollably. Because the Eternal Recurrence of the Same has a checklist and a schedule apparently, and time was moving on so chop chop let’s get it all in we have a deadline people.

So, funny story. And by funny I mean fuck you, universe.

The operating surgeon paged the anesthesiologist, but he was already answering another emergency page. So I’m the only person on this side of the curtain who can look at the relevant instrumentation, an appliance the size of a vending machine. As you might imagine this is the first time I’ve ever seen anything like it; the surgeon is asking for a blood pressure reading, everyone else in the room is busy helping her sew my shaking wife’s guts back together and here I am with my newborn son in one hand, my eyes skittering around the controls as I try to learn how to operate a brand new machine that’s wired directly into my wife’s anatomy through, fuck you universe, a series of tubes.

As moments go, it was perfect.

The old reflexes die hard, and the old intuitions never go away. I’ve never done this before, but I’ve done this before. I’m tooled up for this; let’s get started.

“Can we get pulse and a BP reading?”

“The, um… one second. The… The cuff’s deflated, I think. There’s a null reading on the screen where it says BP. Hang on… OK, there’s one button here that says NIBP; I’m pushing it, one moment.” *click*.

I’d guessed “non-something blood pressure”, and the button was just below the null readout I was looking at. The cuff started inflating immediately. Anyone who tells you that user interface design doesn’t matter is a fool, this stuff save lives.

“Pulse is… 109, BP looks like it’s going to take a minute.”

“Ok, thank you. Good work.”

“I told you we should keep him around to look at stuff”, one of the nurses said.

Black Eye

Carter Alan Hoye, born 6:30 or so Thursday, February 23rd, and if he looks like he’s been in a fight, that’s because he’s been in a fight.

Arlene was wheeled back to our recovery room, and after treating her shakes with some drugs and a heated blanket, she’s made a shocking recovery. She was lucid in hours, able to walk and eat solid foods in a day. She and Carter are back at the hospital today to treat him for some jaundice, but both of them are recovering from the ordeal surprisingly well. Carter is a cause for mild concern, because he’s lost a bit of weight since his birth, but my own belief is that’s only because he’s losing fluids as the swelling subside; the poor guy was bruised all over from the protracted labor. He looks much different now, and I’ll have more pictures on the way soon.

I’d honestly forgotten they make them that small.

Maya has been struggling a bit; she seems to like Carter but dislike not being the center of attention. And she got a bit scared during our absence at the hospital, so we’ve got to make it up to her over the next few days. We’ll have to figure that out, but we’ve got time.

I’ve received a lot of messages, via Twitter and email, wishing us well. I’m grateful for all of them; they mean a lot to me. When the universe decides to try to knock you around some, there’s no better feeling that knowing you’ve got great friends.

January 26, 2012

Ferris’ Wheel (Updated)

Filed under: a/b,awesome,doom,fail,hate,losers,weird — mhoye @ 4:53 pm

16:11 < colleague> if they do a sequel I so dearly hope ben stein and charlie sheen aren't invited
16:11 < mhoye> "... Drugs?"
16:11 < mhoye> I think they have to be.
16:14 < second_colleague> why no ben stein?
16:14 < other_colleague> cause he's gone INSANE
16:16  * mhoye thinks they should swap roles.
16:16 < colleague> yeah, ben stein took a leap off the pier of reason a few years ago
16:16 < colleague> what with that anti-evolution movie, etc.
16:17 < other_colleague> "who stole ben stein's brain?"
16:19 < mhoye> A beat down, leather-clad, exhausted looking Ben Stein, sitting in a police station, turns his bruised hangover towards Jennifer Grey, and mutters "... Drugs?"
16:19 < colleague> perfect
16:25 < mhoye> Earlier in the movie a pale, drawn Charlie Sheen, his skin drumhead-taut from years off staving off a sudden transformative collapse into becoming Keith Richards, stands in front of a class of middle-aged losers in an adult high-school trying desperately to act bored and boring and failing miserably. His eyes dart around the room like a cornered animals'; he practically vibrates in place, grinding his clenched teeth together as he slowly mutters the words "Beuller? Beuller? Beuller?" over and over, desperate to hear somebody, anybody say 'cut'.
16:28 < mhoye> Meanwhile in a trailer somewhere a resigned Jeffrey Jones sits with a half-empty bottle of rye, wearing a pre-tattered suit, a scorched bowtie and the black eye makeup grafted onto his cheeks three hours ago, waiting for the knock on the door that means he's going to get pulled through the thresher again.
16:29 < mhoye> Honestly, the making-of movie here could be far, far better than the movie itself.

Seriously. A documentary about the making of a middle-aged sequel to a much-loved teen movie has the potential to be some of the darkest comedy, the most grimly existential filmmaking the world has ever seen. “Ferris’ Wheel”, I’d call it, in the spirit of Jacob’s Ladder.

UPDATE: It’s just a super-bowl ad. That’s about as saddening as possible.

“By the way, if anyone here is in marketing or advertising, kill yourself.”

– Bill Hicks.

Added the “losers”, “hate” and “fail” tags.

September 14, 2011

Where The Rubber Meets The Road

Filed under: a/b,digital,doom,fail,hate,interfaces,losers,vendetta — mhoye @ 7:28 pm

Decrepit Controls

Exhibit 1: Eric Schmidt, on the Google+ “real name” policy.

“If you think about it, the Internet would be better if we had an accurate notion that you were a real person as opposed to a dog, or a fake person, or a spammer or what have you. […] If we knew that it was a real person, then we could sort of hold them accountable, we could check them… we could, you know, bill them.”

Exhibit 2: CNN, “Bodies hanging from bridge in Mexico are warning to social media users.

“A woman was hogtied and disemboweled, her intestines protruding from three deep cuts on her abdomen. Attackers left her topless, dangling by her feet and hands from a bridge in the border city of Nuevo Laredo. A bloodied man next to her was hanging by his hands, his right shoulder severed so deeply the bone was visible.”

“Signs left near the bodies declared the pair, both apparently in their early 20s, were killed for posting denouncements of drug cartel activities on a social network.”

“We could, you know, bill them.”

August 23, 2011

Google– (Updated)

Filed under: a/b,digital,fail,interfaces,life,losers,vendetta — mhoye @ 3:20 pm

I just deleted my Google+ profile. They asked me why, and I told them:

You’ve successfully deleted Google+ and associated social content

We’re sorry to see you leave! Please help us improve by telling us why you are leaving and what we can do better. This survey is optional but your feedback is much appreciated. Please tell us why you’re leaving:

Here’s what I said:

By disallowing pseudonyms, you’ve effectively cut me off from far too many of my friends. I have the luxury of using my real name for my communications, but that’s exactly what it is: a luxury.

I’m a white, middle class male, with socially-acceptable addictions and middle-of-the-road kinks. I live in a tolerant, cosmopolitan city and I wear collared shirts and khakis. And a few of my friends have none of that.

In some cases, their online identities are, in any respect that matters, their real names; the text on the driver’s license is just a minor formality. In some cases, associating their online identities with their real names would only get them hurt or ostracised. In some cases, admittedly rare ones, associating their online identities with their real names, and hence their real addresses, means that there’s a real possibility that somebody else will figure out who, what or where they are, come to their home and beat them up or kill them.

It’s a slim possibility, sure. But it’s real, and these are my friends; I can’t be a part of a system like Google+ that doesn’t let people manage that risk as they see fit.

Don’t be evil, guys, and don’t pretend it’s OK to impose these conditions on people struggling to manage risks you can barely imagine living with, every single day and night forever. You’re Google, and you’re supposed to be better than that.

A little dramatic? Maybe, maybe. But just staggeringly tone-deaf on Google’s part. It wasn’t long ago that Google did the right thing, and fast, when it came to comparable problems with Buzz. I really don’t understand why they’re digging their heels in with Google+, but I’m perfectly happy not to care, and walking away.

UPDATE: Google employee Bradley Horowitz notes:

MYTH: Not abiding by the Google+ common name policy can lead to wholesale suspension of one’s entire Google account.

When an account is suspended for violating the Google+ common name standards, access to Gmail or other products that don’t require a Google+ profile are not removed. Please help get the word out: if your Google+ Profile is suspended for not using a common name, you won’t be able to use Google services that require a Google+ Profile, but you’ll still be able to use Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Blogger, and so on.

According to this page “If your profile is suspended, you will not be able to make full use of Google services that require an active profile such as Google+, Buzz, Reader and Picasa.”

Except every last one of those services, that supposedly “require an active profile” antedate Google+ by years, prima facie evidence that they don’t “require” anything of the sort. As far as I can tell this is nothing more than a disingenuous attempt at covering for an arbitrary, punitive implementation of a misguided policy.

Dear Google: This is really weak, guys. I know you’re better than this.

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