No posthumous pardon for Alan Turing, the gay man who made your computer possible

Alan Turing

If Alan Turing isn’t already the patron saint of gay geeks he should be. The British Turing was a cryptologist during War World II,  conducting work crucial to the Allied effort to decode German messages, but it’s his pioneering contributions to early computing systems that really make Turing stand out. In 1946 Turing presented the first detailed plans for a stored-memory computer, creating the basic theory on which all modern computers are based. His innovations often outstripped the technology of his day. In 1948 Turing, working with a colleague, wrote the world’s first computer chess program, the only problem being that there wasn’t yet a machine powerful enough to run it. After his death, once computers became more powerful, the program was put into action and proved capable of beating amateur players.

Turing’s genius and skill didn’t save him from the institutionalized homophobia of his day, however. In 1952 his boyfriend broke into his house and robbed it. When Turing reported the crime to the police and explained his relationship to the perpetrator he was arrested and convicted under Britain’s laws prohibiting “homosexual acts.” The conviction led to Turing being stripped of his security clearance and barred from further government work.

The court gave Turing the choice of a prison sentence or chemical castration through estrogen injections. To avoid prison he agreed to the injections. Turing fell into a deep depression, partially attributable to the hormone imbalance caused by the injections. In 1952 his maid found him dead in bed, the victim of a self-inflicted cyanide overdose. The half eaten apple found on his nightstand fueled rumors that Turing administered the poison via the apple as an homage to the movie Snow White, but the apple was never tested. (Urban legend has it that Apple Computer’s logo, an apple with a bite taken out of it, is an homage to Turing.)

In preparation for the 100th anniversary of Turing’s birth in 2012 groups in the UK started a petition asking the government to issue a posthumous pardon to the war hero and pioneer last year. A similar effort in 2009 led to then Prime Minister Gordon Brown issuing an official apology for the British government’s treatment of Turing, but the pardon effort seems doomed to be unsuccessful. This week Britain’s Justice Minister, Lord McNally, issued a statement that Turing’s pardon would not be forthcoming:

“The question of granting a posthumous pardon to Mr Turing was considered by the previous Government in 2009… a posthumous pardon was not considered appropriate as Alan Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offence. He would have known that his offence was against the law and that he would be prosecuted.

“It is tragic that Alan Turing was convicted of an offence which now seems both cruel and absurd -particularly poignant given his outstanding contribution to the war effort.”

—  admin

Texas: A not-so-great state

As Perry eyes the presidency and Dewhurst makes a bid for the Senate, let’s look at the story the numbers really tell

Phyllis Guest | Taking NoteGuest.Phyllis.2

It seems that while David Dewhurst is running for the U.S. Senate, Rick Perry — otherwise known as Gov. Goodhair — is planning to run for president. I wonder what numbers they will use to show how well they have run Texas.

Could they cite $16 million? That’s the sum Perry distributed from our state’s Emerging Technology Fund to his campaign contributors.

Or maybe it is $4.1 billion. That’s the best estimate of the fees and taxes our state collects for dedicated purposes — but diverts to other uses.

Then again, it could be $28 billion. That’s the last published number for the state’s budget deficit, although Perry denied any deficit during his last campaign.

But let’s not get bogged down with dollar amounts. Let’s consider some of the state’s other numbers.

There’s the fact that Texas ranks worst in at least three key measures:

We are the most illiterate, with more than 10 percent of our state’s population unable to read a word. LIFT — Literacy Instruction for Texas — recently reported that half of Dallas residents cannot read a newspaper.

We also have the lowest percentage of persons covered by health insurance and the highest number of teenage repeat pregnancies.

Not to mention that 12,000 children have spent at least three years in the state welfare system, waiting for a foster parent. That’s the number reported in the Texas-loving Dallas Morning News.

Meanwhile, the Legislature has agreed to put several amendments to the Texas Constitution before the voters. HJR 63, HJR 109 plus SJR 4, SJR 16, and SJR 50 all appear to either authorize the shifting of discretionary funds or the issuance of bonds to cover expenses.

Duh. As if we did not know that bonds represent debt, and that we will be paying interest on those bonds long after Dewhurst and Perry leave office.

Further, this spring, the Lege decided that all voters — except, I believe, the elderly — must show proof of citizenship to obtain a state ID or to get or renew a driver’s license. As they did not provide any funds for the issuance of those ID cards or for updating computer systems to accommodate the new requirement, it seems those IDs will be far from free.

Also far from free is Perry’s travel. The Lege decided that the governor does not have to report what he and his entourage spend on travel, which is convenient for him because we taxpayers foot the bill for his security — even when he is making obviously political trips. Or taking along his wife and his golf clubs.

And surely neither Rick Perry nor David Dewhurst will mention the fact that a big portion of our state’s money comes from the federal government. One report I saw stated that our state received $17 billion in stimulus money, although the gov and his lieutenant berated the Democratic president for providing the stimulus.

And the gov turned down $6 billion in education funds, then accepted the funds but did not use them to educate Texans.

The whole thing — Dewhurst’s campaign and Perry’s possible campaign, the 2012-2013 budget, the recent biannual session of the Texas Legislature — seems like something Mark Twain might have written at his tongue-in-cheek best.

We have huge problems in public school education, higher education, health care, air pollution and water resources, to mention just a few of our more notable failures.

Yet our elected officials are defunding public education and thus punishing children, parents, and teachers. They are limiting women’s health care so drastically that our own Parkland Hospital will be unable to provide appropriate care to 30,000 women.

They are seeking a Medicaid “pilot program” that will pave the way for privatized medical services, which will erode health care for all but the wealthiest among us. They are fighting tooth and nail to keep the EPA from dealing with our polluted environment. They are doing absolutely nothing to ensure that Texas continues to have plenty of safe drinking water.

They are most certainly not creating good jobs.

So David Dewhurst and his wife Tricia prayed together and apparently learned that he should run for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Senate seat. Now Rick Perry is planning a huge prayer rally Saturday, Aug. 6, at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.

God help us.

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Jeopardy: Humans Lose To Computer

Joe. My. God.

—  David Taffet

Dela-What?! How to help defeat Christine O’Donnell from your computer

Christine O'Donnell

She crusaded to ‘cure’ gays through prayer, insinuated her primary opponent was gay, supported a group who smeared an openly gay Ambassador candidate, thinks the government spent too much fighting AIDS, and called homosexuality an “identity disorder.”  She’s Christine O’Donnell, the Republican nominee for Senate in Delaware – and Chris Coons is the only person standing in her way.

Chris Coons is an innovative, twice-elected county executive and a steadfast supporter of equality who has pledged to be a voice for fairness in the Senate. We can’t afford for him to lose.

In the 1990’s, O’Donnell founded an organization which sought to cure homosexuality and “sexual brokenness” through prayer – a practice debunked as harmful by the American Psychological Association. And only four years ago, she said, “Homosexuality is an identity adopted through societal factors. It’s an identity disorder.”

Mitch Crane, U.S. Senate candidate Chris Coons and HRC organizer Karl Bach

With every step she takes toward the United States Senate, Christine O’Donnell’s fringe, hateful views threaten to become more legitimized. What’s worse, she could win: In the two weeks since she upset a popular incumbent congressman in the Republican primary, she’s raised .6 million.

Heard enough? Click here to help Chris Coons.

Make 50 Calls For Chris Coons from Home

The Coons campaign has setup an online tool for you to contact priority voters in Delaware and encourage them to cast their ballots this year.  Click here to sign up.

Paid for by Human Rights Campaign PAC and authorized by Chris Coons for Senate.

Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

Dear Senate Aides: Leave Hateful Comments On Gay Blogs From Your Home Computer

A staffer at Sen. Saxby Chambliss' office posted the comment "All fags must die" on the gay blog Joe.My.God, something that was easily traced thanks to the user's IP address and technological stupidity.

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—  John Wright