Jul 192021

Of course it does.

But let us go a little deeper.

First of all, does race really exist? It is notable that the Wikipedia articles on race (1 and 2) distinguish between biological race and the definition of race as it applies to humans. The later seems to be a rather vague term defined differently in different places or circumstances and as someone who likes clearly defined terms the temptation is to go with the biological definition of race and declare that humans are all one race.

But people do insist it exists. So lets take a look at the “white” race; a supposedly monolithic race. But in reality it subdivides up into different “racial” subgroups – the Irish, Finns, Arabs, Jews, and the Romani have all been at times classified as non-white. At what proportion does non-white ancestry qualify one as non-white? In the US, the standard varied from 1/4, to 1/16, or any African ancestry at all (which excludes every single person from being classified as “white”).

Nothing illustrates that US “whiteness” is a qualification for a privileged position (“white privilege”) more than the one-way one-drop rule which although no longer part of the law is still widely accepted socially. If you have one drop of non-white “blood” (ancestry), you are non-white; yet the opposite doesn’t apply – one drop of white “blood” doesn’t disqualify a person from being black.

Which means that racism is little more than an excuse to divide us all into “them” and “us”. Which neatly leads on to the second point.

Many of these ‘isms – racism, excessive nationalism (and xenophobia), … – are just means to an end. To divide us up into “them” and “us” so we can blame “them” for everything that is wrong. Just like the school bullies, we can pick anything to divide people into “them” and “us” – wear glasses, be too tall or too short, gender, a built-in tan, … just about any stupid reason can be used.

With this in mind, racism is using an invented means to divide people just to bully one category. Silly isn’t it?

Lastly some of us have a suspicion that the fires of racism are stoked by those in power as a means of distracting the proles from the real enemy – unrestrained capitalism. Next time you wonder why that immigrant is allowed to steal a well-paid job from you, instead wonder why there aren’t well-paid jobs for both of you.

Standing On The Board

Yes racism exists, but it is as childish as schoolyard bullying and based on little more than the arbitrary grouping of people. And those who promote racism might just have a hidden agenda.

May 192013

Executive summary: No.

According to some, the introduction of Google’s latest product – the Glass(es) – will undoubtedly herald the end of civilisation as the we know it and the survivors will be skittering from bunker to bunker in a forlorn hope of evading surveillance. Actually the biggest threat Google’s Glass(es) have to the world, is the threat to proper grammar – they’re glasses!

The strange thing about the lists of problems encountered with Google’s Glass(es) is that they are “problems” that are already here. Google has done something nifty with their product, which is basically to integrate possibilities into something a non-geek can use. And it is not as if it is particularly revolutionary – people have been looking at augmented reality on smartphones for years and thinking that it was pretty cool, but wouldn’t it be better if you didn’t have to hold up your smartphone all the time?

The big problem is the threat of pervasive surveillance, and threats that come about as a result of that pervasive surveillance. If Google were never to have invented these things, we would still have a problem with pervasive surveillance. As other have pointed out, the use of video (and still) recording on smartphones is already bring in an age of pervasive surveillance; or at least pervasive surveillance under the control of individuals as we already have pervasive surveillance by corporations and government.

It is true that there are negative aspects to pervasive surveillance, but it is also true that there are positive aspects too. Street crime becomes a far riskier proposition if everyone around can just say “Ok. Start recording video.”. People getting up to foolish activities being “outed” on Youtube? The more it happens, the less the pain.

And of course make laws to punish the publication of privacy invading video but not the recording of it; with a proper public interest imminity. That is what the public should be interested in, not what it wants to be interested in.

There are those who say that publication of embarrassing activities onto social media sites may make it harder for people to get employment. The fault here is not what is published to social media sites nor people who take part in such activities, but with the employers who insist on having employees so squeaky clean. If you never employ people who have danced naked on top of a table, you’ll end up with boring employees.

And I’ll bet that there is a high incidence of naked table-top dancing in the past of anyone whose thinking is inventive, creative, and out-of-the-box. Or in other words, employers should be going out of their way to hunt down and employ the naked table-top dancers (No I probably haven’t).

There are those who say that it will somehow increase bullying. It is true that this will be an extra tool in the arsenal of bullies, but in can also be an extra tool in the arsenal of those targeted by bullies. To stop what happened to Amanda Todd (and others), we need to stop bullying whether assisted by technology or the old-fashioned kind.

And of course we have the argument that Google is powerful enough already, and Glass(es) will make that worse. Well, first of all Google Glass(es) won’t be the only product of this kind out there. And if Google is too powerful, it is time to chop them down to size rather than blocking this product.

At least the hysterical reaction of some businesses is giving me a new retirement fund possibility. When I eventually get around to getting some, mine will have prescription lenses in, and any business that wants to ban me will get sued for discrimination against the “disabled”.

We need to be careful of condemning a technology for the poor behaviour of people, when it is the poor behaviour that is at fault.

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