Austerity and hope in South Shields

I’ve never been to South Shields. In fact, I’ve never been to the north of England at all. Well, Manchester and Hull for h2g2 meets, and Marsden in Yorkshire, where I have family history. But South Shields is much further north than these.

It is a town with a mining history. It is a town with a union history. It is a town with high unemployment. And, according to a lovely profile in the New Statesman, it’s doing pretty well, thank you.

South Shields remains the only parliamentary constituency since the Great Reform Act of 1832 … never to have elected a Conservative MP.

TRiG.

Japanese Addresses: ways of thinking

Recently I was rereading Joel Spolsky’s introduction to distributed version control, Hg Init. (To be precise, it’s an introduction to Mercurial, but it also functions fairly well as an introduction to git or to distributed version control in general.) Of course, Joel is writing about this partly because he built a product around it, so he has something to sell, but Hg Init isn’t commercial.

Anyway, Joel’s tutorial begins with some reeducation for people used to other forms of version control, notably Subversion (svn). To illustrate different ways of thinking, different ways of looking at the same problem, he uses the example of Japanese and American addresses. The same problem — uniquely identifying buildings — is solved in notably different ways in Japan and the US. In the west, we think in terms of streets; Japan thinks in terms of blocks. A different conceptual model.

Interesting.

TRiG.

Christian Horror Films: Horrific Christian Culture?

Any time people get worked up about a menace they believe in but can’t actually see – demons, Commies, jihadis, hordes of hoodie-wearing thugs — they’re likely to take it out on the weakest and most vulnerable people in society.
— Andrew O’Heihr, at Salon, reviewing the film The Conjuring.

And this is why I read Slacktivist, because he takes wonderful quotes like that and examines them.

This wholesome demonization of marginalized women is expected to “appeal to faith-minded audiences.” And it does.

Oops.

Here’s Fred Clark on Christianity, horror films, and conservative social roles:

  1. The Amityville Horror is not based on a true story.
  2. The Conjuring reminds us that the only way to stop Satanic baby-killers is to punish women.

This film is a pep rally for a witch hunt. Witch hunts do not lead people toward God. Witch hunts and witch-hunters lead people, instead, toward the lethal notion that it is their job to identify and destroy the enemies of God. The stories witch-hunters tell are never true stories, but the victims those stories produce are all too real. And there is nothing “wholesome” about that.

And so it goes.

TRiG.

How May Day became a workers’ holiday

May Day is celebrated around the world as a labour holiday. One of the few countries that doesn’t celebrate it is the one where it all began, the USA. The origins of May Day as a workers’ holiday go back to strikes, police brutality, and a miscarriage of justice in the USA of the 1880s.

Interesting reading.

TRiG.

Marriage (word, action; name, deed): the significance and cultural understanding thereof

Any relationship you have might be good enough for civil unions, but not for marriage.

At Box Turtle Bulletin, Rob Tisinai talks about why having marriage, not just civil unions, is important:

I have to think segregation of straight and gay relationships has a detrimental effect on gays. It denotes the inferiority of gay relationships. It leaves gays with an attitude of futility when it comes to commitment.

Compare also the Supreme Court brief by Olson and Boies.

Add to this Timothy Kincaid’s remarks on how legally confusing the current patchwork of laws are:

This year Ireland, as part of its new civil partnerships law, decided to recognize marriages – and similar institutions – from other nations as civil partnerships within its borders.

Ireland didn’t miss any country which recognises same-sex marriage, but it did miss various other “civil union” and “domestic partnership” arrangements, even some which were identical to marriage in all but name. Terminology: it matters.

TRiG.

Celebration thwarted at the end of an era

The calendar ticked over on the 21st of December. The end of one era; the start of a new. And perhaps the new will be better:

“This is the ending of an era for the Maya, an era which has been very intense for us, in which we have had suffering and pain,” said Manrique Esquivel, adding “we are praying the wars, the conflicts, the hunger to end.”

Be that as it may, the Mexican government refused to let Mayans hold traditional celebrations in their traditional sites, preferring to open the sites to the massive numbers of tourists drawn by lurid tales of doom which have little or nothing to do with any actual Mayan predictions.

TRiG.