No ads? Contribute with BitCoins: 16hQid2ddoCwHDWN9NdSnARAfdXc2Shnoa
Sep 162017
 

My Facebook news feed came up with a post with this embedded within it :-

Now I’m not in the business of telling someone they should own a smartphone, but taking some of the objections in turn …

Firstly if you are letting your smartphone boss you around and letting it overwhelm you, you’re using it wrong. You decide when to use your smartphone as a communications tool; most of those messages and emails that your phone is constantly pinging and burbling to you about can wait until it is convenient for you to answer.

Do any of your friends get annoyed when you don’t respond to their messages within seconds? Tell them to grow up and get a life.

To give you an idea of how I use my smartphone, here’s a typical day :-

  1. The phone is charging downstairs in the front room where it has been since the evening. If it is ringing, bleeping, throbbing, burbling madly, I won’t know until I’ve finished getting up.
  2. If I am curious about the reaction to some photos I posted the previous night I might pick it up and take a quick look at the notifications, or I might not.
  3. As I head out the door for work, I’ll pick it up and put it straight into my pocket. On the way into work I might hear phone calls, or I might not.
  4. may as I approach work, pull out the phone and take a quick look at the agenda screen (particularly if I recall an early meeting).
  5. If I remember, I’ll switch the phone to silent before I sit down to work. If not, and the notifications get annoying, I’ll remember then.
  6. If I get a phonecall whilst I’m working, I’ll pull out the phone, check who is calling, and slide to red (to reject the phonecall) if I don’t recognise the caller.
  7. When I take a break from work, and I’m not chatting to anyone, I’ll pull out the phone and have a quick look at Facebook, home email, etc.
  8. When I head home from work. the phone stays in my pocket. I’ll check the phone on getting home to see if I missed anything.

You might be wondering why I have a smartphone given I use it so little. Well first of all I do use it more than is implied here – particularly whilst travelling (having train timetables and maps in your pocket is really handy).

In terms of ethical production, not all smartphones are the same. There are even places which score phones based on the ethics of their production; there is even a smartphone whose whole purpose in existence is to be an ethically produced phone – the Fairphone.

So giving up your smartphone is the lazy way of ensuring you have an ethically produced phone that you don’t get bossed around by. No harm in being lazy here of course!

Sep 072017
 

Well of course it is.

To give a bit of context, this came up in reaction to an article on Hollywood picking a director for a Star Wars film, and the possibility of the chosen director being someone other than a white male. Of course the comments kept bouncing back and forth between declaring the comment above to be racist and sexist, and claiming that it wasn’t.

Highlighting that Hollywood seems to have an exclusive club of candidates to direct big budget films which exclude anyone who isn’t white and male, is perfectly reasonable. Or at the very least, turning a blind eye (as far as “industry recognition” (like the Oscars)) to female directors when they do get to direct (and there are plenty of talented female film directors). In fact there are also plenty of talented non-white film directors too.

Which is a bit of a surprise – you would expect the famously liberal Hollywood to be gender and ethnic background blind when it came to picking talent. You might have assumed (as I did) that the career path for film directors favours rich white dudes – perhaps with “internships” (slavery for rich youngsters) amongst other things.

So it would appear that Hollywood is actually being sexist and racist in selecting film directors for major films. And it needs to fix this.

In other words the sentiment of the statement was anti-racist and anti-sexist.

But the way that comment was expressed was racist.

Any time you say something like “must choose ${ethnic group}” or “must not pick ${gender}” you are being racist and sexist. Even if it is in a good cause.

It is better to come up with a better way of saying the same thing: “It would be a surprise to see Hollywood select a director from any background rather than it’s usual pool of directors that give the impression that Hollywood is racist and sexist.”

Apart from anything else, the comments following such an article might be a bit more interesting.

Contemplating The Sea

Aug 132017
 

It wouldn’t surprise me if I have ranted about this before, but I just don’t understand how people decide how some animals are food, and others are “cute” and shouldn’t be harmed. In the later case, there are all sorts of stories on Facebook (and presumably similar places elsewhere) about some sort of animal cruelty to “cute” animals.

Yet most of us ignore the cruelty to food animals, and indeed wild animals. Admittedly most of that cruelty happens behind closed doors with only the occasional peek behind the curtain.

But what really determines whether one species is looked upon as food and another is looked upon as a pet? It cannot be as simple as being cute is the deciding factor, or those of us seen as ugly would also be considered to be a food source.

You could argue that pet animals were formerly work animals of one kind or another, and that certainly applies to dogs and horses, but there are plenty of pet animals it doesn’t apply to – cats (admittedly cats were sometimes tolerated as pest control animals), hamsters, birds, tortoises, reptiles, etc. So that isn’t a good argument.

It is possible to argue that some animals – in particular dogs and horses – have a special place because our partnership with the animal is inherently linked to our survival. But even that doesn’t work – both horses and dogs are eaten all over the world (including Europe).

I have hunted the Internet for possible reasons why we should not eat pets, and whilst there are plenty of pages out there trying to rationalise why we should not, there is nothing that really makes sense. So it might as well be that pets are cute and food animals are not.

Essentially we have a non-rational position on eating pets which is fine. But the rational position is to eat any animal you like the taste of, or to eat none.

Aug 092017
 

It is a bit of an exaggeration to proclaim the death of Youtube, but given the recent changes in how advertising revenue is shared out amongst content creators it is entirely possible. At least in the long term.

For those who have not been made aware, Google has changed how advertising revenue is shared out to content creators, which has resulted in many creators losing incoming; sometimes significant amounts. The intention appears to be to pay advertising revenue to those content creators that advertisers like, which sounds fair enough. But the unintended consequences :-

  1. New content creators will be discouraged because their advertising revenue is likely to be so low as to make it seem impossible to make money with youtube.
  2. Existing content creators who are not ridiculously popular will also be discouraged, and are likely to look for alternatives to youtube that will maintain their income.
  3. Content creators will be encouraged to make middle-of-the-road content that nobody finds offensive, advertisers like, and is popular with the overwhelming majority; in other words just like ordinary TV. Essentially this discourages the kind of content that makes youtube interesting (or at least not as boring as broadcast TV).

Now would be a great time for a competitor to jump in, and encourage content creators to jump ship with a revenue payout mechanism to encourage creative content producers – the small ones and the innovative ones – yes this will mean the larger content creators will lose out, but perhaps they can afford to.

Jul 132017
 

The BBC is celebrating the decriminalisation of “homosexuality” 50 years after the relevant law was repealed with a series of programmes entitled “Gay Britannia” which is fair enough. It’s certainly worth celebrating.

But there is one strange fact that you will not often hear mentioned: The trailers for Gay Britannia don’t mention it, and you have to look hard at Wikipedia articles to find it. And that is the fact that same-sex relationships between women have never been illegal in the UK.

This is of course a good thing. And neither is it any kind of accusation that lesbian couples had it easy – there would have been plenty of persecutions both large and small.

But it is also worth remembering that it was homosexual men who were executed, imprisoned, and chemically castrated.

In addition there is an interesting point made during the trial of James Pratt and John Smith (the last two men executed for being gay) – that the poor suffered disproportionately because the rich could afford privacy. We don’t tend to think of it today, but in the past it was only the rich who could afford privacy.

May 232017
 

I woke up this morning to the news of the Manchester bombing this morning; learning about what was going on from a forum that had attracted some of the more rancid members of the far right. Who were busy blaming this atrocity on all muslims, but also on Syrian refugees; all this of course before anyone knew any facts because facts are irrelevant to the bigoted far right.

And a particularly nasty piece of work has labelled the victims “sluts” and “whores” (I’ve linked to a site that discusses his comments in order not to give him any extra ad revenue).

Now I am not in the habit of being sympathetic to any religious group – they all believe in imaginary friends. But they’re people and in many cases my fellow countrymen, so when a gang of pathetic little chickenshit cowards labels all muslims as terrorists, it is time to call them out on their bigoted bullshit.

Yes the evil scum who set off the bomb was a muslim; one born in Britain and not a Syrian refugee.

But :-

  1. It is almost certain that some of the 60 ambulances that attended were crewed by a muslim or two.
  2. It is almost certain that some of the police who were there helping people out were muslims.
  3. It is almost certain that some of those who opened their homes to accommodate stranded
  4. Some of the taxi drivers who turned off their meters and offered free lifts to those stranded were muslims.

Of course Mancunians of all faiths and none rallied around and helped out, but as muslims were being painted with the terrorism brush, it seems reasonable to highlight that many of those helping out were muslims.

Apr 202017
 

Today I pointed out that persuading teenagers to stop thinking “filthy” thoughts is roughly comparable to the task of emptying the ocean with a teaspoon, and someone retorted that the later was possible. Well perhaps, but until we’ve worked out a rough calculation we don’t really know do we?

And yes I am weird enough to have gone ahead and worked it out.

 

 

Swirling Sea

According to the wonder that is Wikipedia, the average teaspoon can contain approximately 5ml of liquid – not often ocean but the type of liquid is irrelevant.

According to a handy table, there are approximately 1.3 billion square kilometres of water in the world’s oceans. And according to a handy units calculator this equates to 1.3e21 litres of water. Dividing this figure by the volume of our teaspoon, we get the value 2.6e+23 teaspoons of water in the ocean.

Assuming that it takes 10s (we could argue about how accurate that is, but trust me it doesn’t make too much of a difference to the final conclusion) to move a teaspoon of seawater into a truly ginormous container that magically appears to contain it all, it will take approximately 2.6e+24 seconds to empty the oceans.

Now you could work on this non-stop, but I’m no Victorian factory owner, so I will be assuming an 8-hour working day, and a 5 day working week. Admittedly no paid holiday (you want pay for this? I don’t think so).

So dividing the stupendously large number of seconds by 60 (to get minutes) by 60 (to get hours) by 8 (to get days) by 5 (to get weeks) by 52 (to get years) we get approximately 3.5e+17 years. Good! We’ve reduced the E numbers somewhat!

Now if we divide this number of years by the expected lifetime of the sun (10 billion years – and ignoring the fact that we’re approximately half-way through the sun’s lifetime), we get a much more manageable figure of 34,722,222 sun lifetimes.

However it is not unreasonable to assume that something will happen to the oceans before we get anywhere near completing this little task.

Apr 182017
 

BBC Breakfast had a story this morning covering Prince William’s struggle with mental health, together with an interview with a counsellor and a mental health patient (both women – and this becomes relevant shortly). All very interesting and worthwhile – those with problems should be encouraged to seek assistance.

Yet what was missing?

The fact that William went public about his need for counselling in support of CALM which is an organisation trying to do something useful about the level of suicide amongst young men.

Whilst generalising the short piece to encourage everyone who needs help to seek it, it seems odd that the mysteriously high rate of suicide amongst young men and CALMs efforts to tackle it should really have gotten a mention.

 

Apr 162017
 

I am a racist.

I am prejudiced in favour of the human race.

Of course it is more common to find people who use the word race in reference to sub-divisions of humans, but you usually find that that as you look closer at each sub-division, it has less and less meaning. For instance, “white” in Europe is sub-divided into French, German, Italian, Scandinavian, Birtish, English, Irish, Welsh, … And as you look closer at those sub-sub-divisions, they are also divided up. At the lowest level, there is “family” and “not family”.

The imperative to categorise people into “races” comes from a useful trait for problem solving, but if it doesn’t tell you anything useful, why categorise “race”? There are plenty of more useful categories to put people into.

This was kicked off by a sudden surge in the number of YouTube videos on DNA results that show up for me. Which of course showed the entirely predictable result that almost everyone is a mixture of different ancestors. And people are shocked, distressed, or annoyed about the fact that that their perceived racial identity is smaller than expected.

A DNA test for me will show no shocking results – I know with certainty that all my ancestors for well over 10,000 years were human. As a rough guess, 75% of my ancestors were from somewhere in northwest Europe, with 25% from all sorts of surprising places. The proportions may change, and the higher the proportion of surprising places, the more interesting a story some of my ancestors have to tell.

Feb 122017
 

Now this blog posting is not intended to defend the wrongs of colonialism; we all now accept that territorial expansion by conquest (except apparently Russia) is wrong. In fact it could be argued that Britain conquered India for commercial and not colonial reasons – for example no penal transportation to India occurred. Yes, British people went to live in India, but chiefly to do specific jobs – colonial administration, soldiering, or commercial activities.

Not mass migration.

We need to be wary of judging the past with the moral standards of today; it was not until the 20th century that conquest for territorial expansion was universally condemned. And the evils of the British Raj (and earlier) because it successfully conquered India; earlier (and there were many) attempts failed, although some were close. The very presence of islam within the Indian sub-continent is indicative of attempts to conquer.

And as for the notion that only the British Empire acted in evil ways in India, just take a look through the list of massacres in India; many of those listed had nothing to do with the British.

Does that excuse the excesses of British colonial rule? No of course it doesn’t.

But even if Europeans had not become involved with India, the evils of attempted conquest would still have occurred as they did occur before.

Facebook Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close