Ad fail : Ukrainian beauties

Maybe it was the 3am, maybe I’ve been watching comedy videos for too long, or maybe it’s genuinely funny – I’ll never know for sure.  But it made me smile.  While watching Andi Oslo stand-up comedy improvisation, I saw this ad popped up:

ukrainian beauties

Racist archbishop

Cyprus Mail covers interesting commentary from the archbishop Chrysostomos II:

Asked if he would consider backing left-wing AKEL’s candidate Stavros Malas – the Archbishop has openly spoken out against the government’s communist approach – Chrysostomos said, “They have plenty of supporters; they don’t need me; although they may have reduced in numbers now”.

Pressed further if he would ever back a left-wing president, provided they had the same views, the Archbishop replied: “I would even back a black man, if we had the same views.

I’d have to agree with AKEL here:

The statement was not well received by ruling party AKEL, which last night announced it was disappointed with the archbishop’s comments.

The party said it was of the impression that the head of the church should view all members of the flock equally, “whether they are right-wing, left-wing, black or white”.

That should be true for everyone, but especially so for the religious person, who’s lord created everyone equal.

Letter from a Birmingham Jail

Letter from a Birmingham Jail

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.

Very, very powerful words of Martin Luther King, Jr.

You are not welcome to Cyprus

Just a few days after I’ve posted “Welcome to Cyprus“, Cyprus News reports about the clash between the anti-racism festival goers and nationalist groups.

THE effects of last Friday’s fracas between nationalist groups and festival goers at the antiracist Rainbow Festival were still being felt across Cyprus.
With one Turkish Cypriot singer stabbed and at least 12 others – foreigners and locals alike – injured, it was commonly agreed that even this violent outcome was nowhere as bad as it could have been.

THE effects of last Friday’s fracas between nationalist groups and festival goers at the antiracist Rainbow Festival were still being felt across Cyprus.With one Turkish Cypriot singer stabbed and at least 12 others – foreigners and locals alike – injured, it was commonly agreed that even this violent outcome was nowhere as bad as it could have been.

The video, perhaps, can illustrate what happened a bit better (if you just want the action, skip to 5:35).

While I’ve seen nationalist and xenophobic Cypriots before, this is the first time I see so many of them at the same place, so organized, and so dangerous.  Actually, while I was watching this video, I had a strong feeling of deja vu.  I’ve seen this somewhere before.   Have you?  A crowd of young, aggressive guys, well organized, with drums and loudspeakers, with sticks and other weapons, throwing chairs and what not, and having no respect for police at all – sounds familiar? There is only one other group of people that I know in Cyprus that fits the description – football hooligans.

Is there really a connection between football hooligans and nationalist groups?  I don’t know.  But they do look quite similar to the outsider.  And what else worries me is the police.  It seems that at the state the police is in right now, it can’t really stand against either football hooligans or violent fascist raids.

Black people in science and innovation

It’s been a few times already that I heard the argument that “black people made no contribution to computer science“.  I’ve also heard a few alternative versions, which were less or more specific, varying from “African blacks” and “no innovations“, to “black women” and “no contribution to science“.

Depending on the overall direction of the discussion, variation of the argument, and sensibility of the opponent, it can be very easy or rather impossible to reason. For example, an argument like “there is not one black programmer in the world” is pretty trivial to destroy.  There are at least a few respectable Perl Monks of the black race.  Over the last few years, I personally have been in contact (IM, email, phone) with a few black programmers and system administrators.  On the other hand, a request for a name or a biography of a black computer scientist might be much harder.  I am not very good with names and biographies, and I don’t know many scientist by name at all.  Picking representatives of a certain race using my own memory is close to impossible.

So, I asked The Mighty Google for a few names and biographies, and it replied.  Here are a few links that I picked from the results:

I have to admit that I was a little bit surprised by the low number of results.  Finding the above weren’t very easy.  Also, many links were very outdated.  Sometimes I’d come across a quote that slowed me down before I could “sink it in”.  Here are a couple of such examples:

one quarter of one percent (.25%) of computer scientists are black

from the “Computer Scientists of the African Diaspora” page, which seems to be from the 1990s.

Throughout the United States, there are only 32 African-American computer science (CS) professors.

from the “A Model for Department Diversity” article, which was posted in 2004.

I think that the above references are enough to convince any sane person that both science and innovation have benefited from black people.  Whether the benefits were to the same degree as those of the other races is a totally different question.  I am not going to debate it now, but perhaps I will come back to it later.

(NOTE TO MYSELF for when and if I do: consider that most computer science innovation is happening in the USA [obviuos, but citation needed], and that black people make only about 12% of the USA population [Wikipedia]. )

Racism is like alcoholism

I’ve been thinking a lot about racism recently. Again.

One of the interesting thoughts that went through my head was that racism is a lot like alcoholism. It is a desease that needs to be cured. There are many stages, like in alcoholism – from very passive to very violent. And curing racism should probably start from the same point as curing alcoholism – realization of the problem. Like an alcholic should say to himself that he is an alcoholic, a racist should say to himself that he is a racist.

That last thing is, of course, a hard one to do.

There are just so many excuses for both racism and alcoholism, and there is so little information about both of those problems. Most people would agree that both alcoholism and racism are bad things. Realizing though that you are a racist or an alcoholic is difficult, because you try to be good so hard. You need extra proof. You have to be convinced that there is something bad about you. And all the information out there is so general and so remote. It’s not about yourself. It’s about those bad guys. You don’t go around drunk breaking things or killing black people. You are not an alcoholic. You are not a racist. No way.

There do exist many organizations that help alcoholics, Alcoholics Anonymous being the most famous one. There are clinics. There are doctors. There are pills. There are chapters in psychology books.

But I haven’t heard of Racist Anonymous. Yet.

Mississippi Burning

Mississippi Burning (1988)I almost went to bed, when I noticed a movie starting on TV. The opening titles mentioned Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe in main roles and Alan Parker in director chair. Titled “Mississippi Burning“. I was still considering, so I checked IMDB for the rating. It came up with 7.6, so I decided to watch it.

Directed by: Alan Parker
Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Cast: Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand, Brad Dourif, R. Lee Ermey, Gailard Sartain, Stephen Tobolowsky, Michael Rooker, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Badja Djola, Kevin Dunn, Frankie Faison, Tom Mason, Geoffrey Nauffts, Rick Zieff
IMDB raintg: 7.6
My rating: 8.0 ********

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