Weaponised Language

I’m faintly concerned about the use of language as a weapon in society in contentious issues. As if the very words themselves depict the entirety of a position.

In our local politics it was always used by Unionist politicians in descriptions of their idealogical enemies. They couldn’t just say “Sinn Fein”, it had to be “Sinn Fein/IRA” as it was ideologically important to tie the political party to murder and mayhem. This sort of talking only serves to delay inevitable change. But that’s okay because the individuals involved gain nothing from the change and the delays just serve to reduce the amount of important work going on. Recent news that our local legislature has passed only 200 bills indicates that not enough is going on for our continued investment. It’s a little bit daft because we now have a government consisting of a coalition of two ideologically opposed parties. Is it any wonder nothing gets done on the hill?

It’s widely publicised that “Pro Choice” is the polar opposite of “Pro Life” but obviously “Pro Choice” is not “Anti Life” at all; quite the opposite. They just value the life of the mother potentially as much as the life of the unborn child. But it suits the political agenda of those opposed to abortion to paint “Pro Choice” activists as murderers. I can tell you categorically that I’m not “Pro Death”. I can also state categorically that I’m not in favour of abortion. I will say that if you ask me to choose between the life of a human adult and a small clump of cells, I will pick the human adult every day. If you ask me to potentially subject a new human being to a life of being unloved, a life of abject poverty and abuse, I will absolutely reject that notion. And if you try to convince me that a human female loses the rights to her own body because a human male wants a child, then I’m diametrically opposed to you.

My degree subject, Genetics, is a contentious issue in itself. During my final year, a group led by the university Christian Union attempted to have a debate on the moral legitimacy of genetics and invited many of my lecturers. They all turned up. What was meant to be a debate turned into a series of tracts being read from a book and punctuated with character attacks. Then the subject strayed to Human Genetics and the moral absolutism of religion, one example of such was “My son has a genetic disease, if it was up to you he wouldn’t exist”. To which the reply from the genetics panel was “Sure he would, but he wouldn’t have a genetic disease”. I don’t know if the bigger tragedy was that this had been pulled together by educated young people or that some of those young people later became teachers.

Similarly, I’m a secularist which means I support the separation of Church and State. I do not believe that the Church (any church) should be allowed into our schools. I believe that if a parent wishes to ensure their Church has new followers, then they should fund that themselves. I’m not “anti religion”, I’m very much “religion neutral” (and for these purposes I also include atheism and agnosticism). So every prayer in a state-funded school is an oppression on anyone who does not subscribe to that sect. But it’s important to note that while I may be fundamentally an atheist, I do not want to see the suppression of the Church (or any religion). I believe that religion is a personal choice and not an aspect of policy or politics. I’m not suggesting we should knock down the chapels at all, but we may have to stop starting every political session in Northern Ireland with “Prayers”.

As I write this, a Northern Ireland ministerial advisory group has stated that schools in Northern Ireland should be made legally accountable for promoting equality and good relations. That won’t, of course, make it any further.

I’m tired of saying “Someone needs to do something”. The only way to take our country out of the hands of bigots and pulpits is to vote them out of government.

Aide Memoire

Night Blindness – inspired by Slender and Silent Hill, the player only has limited light and must manoeuvre through a 3D environment. Each step creates noise and that attracts the Enemies. The player can avoid noise hazards using more light but with only a box of matches and a failing battery in his smartphone, his limitations are obvious. The Enemies are white lamprey-like creatures attracted to sound.

Dawn of Mars – at first glance it’s a simple app that tells you what time it is and how many days are passing on the Red Planet. If kept, it starts to tell a story. Imagine if your smartphone was cloned to Mars. Inspired by the Martian Chronicles.

Richer interfaces

XBOX Live was down last night which meant that a lot of services which don’t specifically need the service were also down. It’s a bit daft that you can’t watch Netflix when the games matching service is down. An XBOX manager was recently canned for saying that it was ok for the next XBOX to require an always-on Internet connection because everyone important had an always-on Internet connection.

Other devices (like Macs, Windows PCs, Androids, iDevices, the Wii) don’t require the vendor service to be online as long as you have an Internet connection (I haven’t checked my PS3).

  • This is broken. I wish I had a non broken thing.
  • Aha, but when it works it is better.

But William’s response was interesting because it wasn’t about the outage but rather a partisan response on, all things being equal, which was the better device. Yes, the XBOX has a richer interface but comparing the XBOX to an Apple TV is a little like comparing an electric carving knife to a vegetable peeler. The electric knife is sharper, cuts through stuff incredibly well and can make a long job much shorter. But you’d lose a lot of blood using it to peel a potato.

We also recently gave an Apple TV to my mother in law so she could watch Netflix. At £76 it was marginally the cheapest way to get her access on her existing television and with a simple, no nonsense interface that wasn’t about how rich it needed to be, but how to easily get her into Netflix.

My son, on the other hand, loves his XBOX. He doesn’t need a ‘richer’ interface, he needs the additional functions of the XBOX. The sorts of things that a device that has a 100W PSU (compared to a 6W on the Apple TV) is designed to do. The sorts of things that need discs, that require 117 buttons on a remote, or three high end processors.

But for Netflix, the mobile-phone-in-a-hockey-puck Apple TV, is excellent.

The Final Frontier

From Dolphins Under my Bed, by Sandra Clayton:

And for the present at least the great oceans of the world are still an unpredictable, ungovernable environment that is largely unrestricted, un-nationalised, unmonitored, untaxed, unprotected by social legislation, unrepresented by quangos, impervious to 24-hour news media, untrammelled by lawyers and emotional trauma counsellors or health and safety directives and not remotely politically correct.

I respect…

Brendan Behan:

I respect kindness in human beings first of all, and kindness to animals. I don’t respect the law; I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer.

when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand

Lewis Rothschild: People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they’ll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They’re so thirsty for it they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.
President Andrew Shepherd: Lewis, we’ve had Presidents who were beloved who couldn’t find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don’t drink the sand ’cause they’re thirsty. They drink the sand ’cause they don’t know the difference.

It’s absolutely no surprise that Aaron Sorkin wrote “The American President”. I’ve been working my way through The West Wing since I started watching it in January. And if you liked that, you’re going to fucking love this.

I’ve been wrong for a very long time. I’ve not exercised my democratic voting rights in over a decade. I may have some good reasons for this but this year I’m changing my future.

We get the politicians we deserve. My own years of apathy towards Northern Ireland politics have contributed to the terrible state of affairs we have here. I realise now that it’s not enough to just be a voter, you have to be an active participant.