“my rights end where yours begin”

That’s the whole conundrum of invoking God as the singular rationale for or against public policy—God says lots of different things to lots of different people, and all of them think that they’re right.
Melissa McEwan, “MREWYB“, Shakesville.

Yup. Melissa McEwan is there talking specifically about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, but her point is broadly applicable.

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.

Google Glass: Privacy, Surveillance, Technology, Data

Google’s new product, Glass, will enable secret video recording.

Now pretend you don’t know a single person who wears Google Glass… and take a walk outside. Anywhere you go in public – any store, any sidewalk, any bus or subway – you’re liable to be recorded: audio and video. Fifty people on the bus might be Glassless, but if a single person wearing Glass gets on, you – and all 49 other passengers – could be recorded. Not just for a temporary throwaway video buffer, like a security camera, but recorded, stored permanently, and shared to the world.

Recorded video will be stored not on users’ own computers, but in Google’s data-centres. With Google’s excellent technology, indexing such videos using face recognition and voice transcription many not be too far behind. And who will have access to that data?

This is, of course, one of those things that, in general, matters far more to the margenilised  (who are often poor) than it does to the early adopters (who, in the case of this expensive product, must be rich). And so, as ever, the concerns of the margenalised are not heard in the public debate.

Someone in Seattle has been deliberately annoying people by videoing them in an intrusive fashion. His actual purpose is unknown (he’s anonymous), but it seems he’s trying to make a point:

In most cases, people become agitated and tell him to stop. That’s when the cameraman makes his point: Cameras are everywhere already. This one just happens to be held by a person instead of mounted on a wall or traffic light.

That said, surveillance cameras are often not reviewed, and the footage is usually deleted unless there’s a crime to investigate. What will happen with Google Glass footage is anyone’s guess: it probably won’t follow existing proven solutions.

One possiblitity, of course, is strong social shaming of people who use such technology. Physical assault is probably going a bit too far, though it has been attempted.

I mentioned recently that I am mystified by right-wingers. One of our many points of difference is that they’re more scared of powerful government, and I’m more scared of powerful corporations. Governments are scary too, but at least we get a chance to vote on them. Monopolies, less so.

And monopolies really are a problem. Putting all surveillance into the hands of the “authorities” (be they the police, transport authorities, or simply business owners) isn’t safe either. Citizen recording of police action has helped out in more than one incident of violent assault by police officers, and CCTV footage does have a tendency to go missing when it shows police in a bad light. Steve Mann refers to this citizen check on authorities’ actions as sousveillance, and he does have a point. So where does, and where should, the power ballance lie?

TRiG.

Elderly trans* people in Indonesia

I have no idea what it’s like to be a trans* person in Indonesia. According to this report from the BBC, many of them are prostitutes. This can happen when prejudice against trans* people is so harsh that it’s all but impossible for them to get any other job. But it’s not a job for life. And that is why Yulianus Rettoblaut (known as ‘Mami Yuli’) has set up a home which provides food, shelter and skills training for elderly transgender people.

TRiG.

No, I’m not going to be polite about it

And I see no reason why I should be.

Many many people have pointed out that a call for politeness, for some kind of superficial niceness, actually rarely serves to make the world a better place, or to deal with any kind of injustice. Often, in fact, it is a form of victim blaming, and/or an excuse to maintain the status quo.

Martin Luther King:

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

… the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice ….

Letter from Birmingham Jail.

Dianna E. Anderson:

How can I not take that personally?

For me, the discussion can never be abstract. ….

Because for me, it’s not just for funsies. It never will be. It is too real, and too personal for me to discuss it “for fun.”

The Theological Is Personal.

Fred Clark:

Scott wants you to understand that she’s not at all like the infamous homophobic preacher Worley. She’s totally different.

Worley wants to deny LGBT people their basic civil rights and legal equality because he hates them. Scott wants to deny LGBT people their basic civil rights and legal equality for other reasons.

See? See how very different they are? Same result. Same vote. Same fundamental discrimination enshrined in law. But Worley is mean. Scott is nice.

Look, here’s the deal: It doesn’t matter if you think you’re a nice person. And it doesn’t matter if your tone, attitude, sentiments and facial expressions are all very sweet, kindly and sympathetic-seeming. If you’re opposing legal equality, then you don’t get to be nice. Opposing legal equality is not nice and it cannot be done nicely.

You can’t deny people their rights and be nice about it.

TRiG.