Inspired by <>, I've decided to write a sort of navel-gazey post about myself. Unfortunately, I am not as eloquent as the author of that post, but I'll try :).


  • I speak English fluently, I'm conversant in French, and I'm learning Mandarin.

  • I prefer IRC over email over other IM protocols over SMS over video over in-person over voice. Voice puts me in an awkward position where I don't have any of the cues I try to use to read other people's moods but have to devote a great deal of my mental bandwidth to signal processing - I can't really carry on a phone conversation and do anything else, while I can carry multiple IRC conversations at all times, even while working intensely.

  • I have a direct, blunt style of speaking that many people consider abrasive or outright rude. I'm working on moderating this but it's effort that I'd rather spend on other things. I have a very low tolerance for people who take a while to get to the point; I have been known to cut people off and ask them to get to the point even in casual conversation.

  • I have a low tolerance for sarcasm most of the time. I enjoy wordplay and wit in general, but I generally find sarcasm demeaning for both source and target. This might be related to occasional failures on my part to notice or correctly interpret sarcasm; I also think that a general disdain for sarcasm is part-and-parcel of communicating primarily over text (see "I prefer IRC", above).

  • I don't enjoy talking about myself much. I think that I lack breadth; there are a few things that I enjoy immensely (see 'Interests', below), and many things that I am just indifferent to. I cannot carry a useful conversation about wide ranges of subject areas, and would rather hear what you think about them than hold forth.

  • I have little respect for 'indirect communication' or anything similar; I say what I mean and prefer that people respond in kind (ala <>). I've gotten reprimanded for this at work and as a TA before but don't have any intention of changing it. *shrug*


  • URLs: "<" full-url ">". I use this format for IRC too (<irc://host/channel>) and email addresses (<>). This helps make identifiers stand out in plain text. I put some amount of weight on how pretty URLs are.

  • Times: YYYYMMDD-hhmmssZ?. Right now it's 20110802-231801. This format sorts lexicographically and is unambiguous. If there is a 'Z' at the end, the time is UTC; otherwise the time is 'local', which is deliberately ambiguous :). I also have my own date format, which is written as year "." day-of-year "." second-of-day, under which it is 2011.213.84312. I like this system because it makes adding and subtracting times easy and I find the kilosecond a reasonably natural unit (rule of thumb: 3ks = 50min). I sometimes use this internally but I try not to let it leak externally. I have a tool that emits the current time in this format. These times are always 'local', with no timezone appended, although in principle they ought to be UTC.

  • Structured data: Unless presented with a very good reason not to, I use S-expressions for data. This pervades my mind to the extent that I used to take notes in S-expressions at university.

  • Crypto: 256-bit AES, 4096-bit RSA for long-lived or valuable things, 2048-bit RSA for other things. SHA-256 or SHA-512 for hashing.

  • Version control: git.

  • Names: Case is significant. My name (in this context) is 'elly', not 'Elly'; the former is a username and the latter is not. It pains me to see names written in incorrect case to such an extent that I will restructure sentences to avoid doing so.

  • Quotes: logical. I can't understand the American style at all.


  • Languages: Scheme is the only language I've ever seen that is beautiful. C is one of the few other languages I can stand to write much code in because it has the decency to get out of my way. The vast majority of my code is written in C. In general, I disdain languages that believe they know better than I do or try to prevent me from doing clever things, which leads me to reject most statically-strongly-typed languages.

  • Tools: I use vim in general, although I am fluent enough with ed to write code in it. I use emacs for Scheme. I use git for version control and make for builds. I don't believe in the premises of configure and autotools; I ship code that requires the end-user to edit (this should tell you a bit about what kind of end-user I envision :).)

  • Libraries: very rarely. I have a terrible case of not-invented-here syndrome.

  • Correctness: assertions everywhere. No defensive programming; incorrect arguments to a function should result in an immediate program exit. This motivates the author to fix their broken code.

  • Subject matter: The lower-level the better.


  • Transgender. Male-to-female. Not as feminine as many women; not as masculine as many men. Somewhere in-between on the gender spectrum, but closer to the female side. I enjoy many stereotypically-masculine pursuits (software, mathematics, gaming) and some stereotypically-feminine ones (cleaning, cooking).

  • Asymmetric: I have an extra rib on one side of my body. This is genetic, I think (at any rate, my dad has it too). It is quite noticeable if you're touching my bare chest.

  • Sexually:

    • Poly: Multiple partners. I'm happy this way; a single partner (even one so wonderful as my fiancee) doesn't meet all my desires.

    • Kinky: The psychological aspects of D/s play are very appealing to me, and a constant source of enjoyment.

    • Sensual: Touch - specifically light touch on the arms, legs, neck, and so on - are incredibly pleasant for me.

    Yikes. There's more to write but it's getting late; I will come back to this later :).

A prayer

Jul. 30th, 2011 02:09 pm
May I never find peace.
I've been thinking about identities a bit lately, mostly catalyzed by friends of mine engaging me in discussion about the difference between pseudonyms and identities. As I see it, pseudonyms are separate names for the same underlying identity, whereas identities are actually separate _people_ somehow. Under this set of definitions, I go to some pains to maintain multiple separate _identities_, with each identity being more or less a logically separate person. In my head, identities are mapped one-to-one onto PGP keys, more or less; as a consequence, my work persona (and corresponding work public key) is literally a separate persona from my private personae (and their public keys).

I think that this is how all identities should work everywhere (including meatspace): identity is keypair, with new identities able to be conjured at will. Cryptography makes identities unforgeable (more or less) and non-repudiable, while still allowing different identities for different contexts. I think sometimes about what it would be like to have a coprocessor in my head that could do cryptographic operations and secure key storage for me - if I could store a few keypairs and various other cryptographic information in my head, I'd definitely do it.

Actually, that's sort of an interesting question: if you had a coprocessor in your head with reasonable amounts of storage and computational power (bearing in mind that you are dissipating heat into your own body, and drawing power from it or something), what would you do? I'd store keys first of all (identity keys, probably a half-dozen or so of the most important/regularly-used ones, then some symmetric keys for backup tarballs in well-known places), then probably an indexed, searchable survival manual (personal preservation :)) and a dump of as much of civilization's total knowledge as possible (how much *is* that, anyway?). Being able to write code without any external hardware would be _extremely_ neat.

To come back to my point, the idea I like here is voluntary, free, durable pseudonymity, backed up by a petname system (i.e., my key can have attached metadata saying "I desire to be known as redgirl", to be presented to a recipient for local name<->key binding, or overruled). Really, I think this is the way social interaction should be done.
I "finished" reading this a little while ago (maybe two weeks?) and it's been stuck in my head since then. I was struck by how profoundly Green embodies a particular pattern that I've seen from time to time among (mostly male) sci-fi/fantasy authors: the idea that whenever two or more women are left alone in a room together, it's all "forbidden desires" this and "heaving bosoms" that.

Green begins with the eponymous character (whose 'real' name is never known to us) as a child, being sold into slavery by her father (for no apparent reason). This part of the story is a cute (if somewhat tedious...) coming-of-age story, touching upon the intersection of feminism, imperialism, and slavery (although I found it quite jarring that the "six-year-old" Green writes with a decidedly adult perspective about many of the things that are happening to her). There's some somewhat interesting stuff about the place and role of women in society, focused through the lens of the hyper-misogynistic society that is raising Green. The first third of the book takes forever to get to a point, but when it does, it gets there fast; in the span of five or so pages, a longstanding conspiracy with little apparent motive is revealed (with Green as the central figure) and Green spontaneously decides to join with the conspirators and murder her target (which she does with no difficulty whatsoever, despite him having been set up as a main villain during the tedious first section). She then flees the city and returns to her home, confronting her father (and his new wife) and bringing closure to the first arc of the story.

Then, inexplicably, the book keeps going.

Green leaves her home town again (having seen that there is nothing for her there now) and meets up with a band of wandering assassins (I am not making this up) who in short order turn out to all be lesbian sadomasochists (still not making it up). An incredibly jarring transition happens: in less than ten pages, Green (aged fourteen) goes from completely asexual to snuggling with one of her comrades (also a lesbian) to full-on, tie-me-to-something-and-flog-me, oh-god-yes-more out-and-out S&M. At this point my ability to suspend disbelief vanished, and I had to put the book down. I still have not finished it.

Verdict: Don't read it. The suddenness of Green's, er, "sexual awakening" and the deus-ex-machina feeling of the first third of the book left me feeling upset and somewhat uncomfortable.

edit_0: mail -> male
Hello everyone.

I'm redgirl. I'm... well, as you can see from my bio, I'm trans, poly, kinky,
vegan, pansexual (attracted to all genders), female, and so on and so on. The list of labels is quite
tiresome, and frankly, none of them is really _me_, although they're all facets
of me.

I'm here because, to be blunt, I believe that social networks should behave like
Dreamwidth does, and I want to support that.

By the way, so that we can all get this out of the way right now: I often go by
'elly' in other social circles, and sometimes by 'redgirl' or 'inion'. All of
these are just different names for me.

-- redgirl

Since I feel like spreading this information as far as possible, my root gpg key's fingerprint is "4E411E592AD17B96E2A78DAD9FAC2E26AED161FF" :). I'll write about the odd scheme I use for gpg keys some other time.

August 2011

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