I should apologize for updating this blog so infrequently, I guess I’ve been intimidated since being described, along with Dave Winer and Doc Searl, as one of the most original thinkers on the internet. I mean, how do you follow a description like that?
Well how about tangentially? I’ve been trying to think of a way to address Simon McGarrs political video challenge on Tuppenceworth, where he’s attempted to elicit video contributions from ‘young people’ outlining their difficulties with, suggestions for, and perspective on contemporary Irish politics. My problem with Simon’s challenge in my best lit talking head on a felt black background fantasies, is that there is so much intrinsically wrong with the assumptions underlying our smug yet inadequate neoliberal eurotrash society that to select individual issues for criticism is to figuratively pick the scabs on a gunshot wound. From growing social inequality, to didactic employer orientated educational ‘reform’, from urban sprawl to public transport privatization.
Perhaps it’s easier to pick from real world examples. How handy this weeks Sunday Times in this regard, with three sensational announcements leaping from the pages of the news section alone. ‘Citizen tests for new settlers’ the front page stoically pronounces, outlining some relatively uncontroversial plans to create a basic citizenship test with linguistic and cultural requirements; while casually mentioning on paragraph seven, new immigration laws designed to pave the way for a ‘network of detention centers’ designed to hold individuals profiled – based on a history of unsuccessful asylum applications from their country of origin, as likely to be fraudulent; to allow time for the massive and elite corps of Irish refugee claim investigators to comb classified records on foreign shores for the merest whiff of evidence supporting a doubtless bogus claim by shifty persons of suspicious ethnicity. Now I’m as implicitly prejudiced and unconsciously inadequate as the next Fianna Fail voter, but when the minister for justice has to reassure us that ‘detention centers’ built to contain the hordes ‘will not be a prison’, I am troubled by the merest flash of Ellis Island, where the psychometric ‘idiocy test’ was pioneered. And why oh why am I reminded of the blindfold kneeling wretches of Guantanamo Bay? A nation descended from the dregs of emigration, we have apparently raised ourselves to the serried ranks of the ghetto builders.
Skipping to page five, we encounter a good news technology story. The plan to introduce biometric finger print scanning in up to ten Irish schools, which will we are assured, confine mitching to the encrypted uncrackable database of history. When students fingers are gently encouraged to sweep in soft technological magnificence across censors reminiscent of the iPhones hip and elegant interface, ‘Information’ is ‘encrypted immediately and isn’t stored’..a contradiction of such bafflingly reassuring illogic that apparently ‘the students think its cool’ and ‘even the parents who had objected eventually agreed to sign up for the technology’. Now I almost pride myself on the breath of my separation from your average Tim Bill O’ Reilly watching, Rush Limbaugh listening, semi literate Christian fundamentalist, with one eye on his gun rack and the other on the New World Order, but let me suggest we take a step back here and question for a moment the precedent we are laying down in suggesting our children (however ‘cool’ they might find the idea) provide their finger prints as proof of mandatory attendance at the state run institution in which they receive their government mandated six hours of daily employment preparation; even if, as enthusiastic school authorities reassure us, ‘childrens fingerprints could never be used again, even if there was a criminal investigation at the school’.
Skipping over a fright piece on the pandemic of shin snapping, wrist wrenching, senior shocking ‘Heelys’, and some eco hippy scare mongering daring to suggest we abandon our comfy SUVs for tofu powered, square wheeled bicycles, or face unstoppable climate change; we reach a little piece at the bottom of page ten. The apparent ‘puzzle’ of status related life expectancy. How is it, wonder ‘scientists’, (apparently ignorant of the decades old literature linking social inequality and labeling to a host of health, wealth and educational outcome differentiations, in populations from Bonobo apes to British civil servants, if the two can be effectively distinguished) that Nobel prize winners and Oscar victors live longer on average than their runner up rivals. Perhaps if we biometrically captured skin samples from these laudable individuals we could find the gene which doubtless explains their immutable difference. Then, with luck and effort we could apply it on mass to the ripe wombs of South county Dublin, and enhance the longevity of those sure to remain outside any detention center, those least likely to be pulled screaming from the pews of a cathedral, the ginger Celtic Irish whose ancient elimination of some bronze age eejit grants them the sacred and eternal right to this land.