Letter to my MP on racism in the US and UK

Here is the text of a letter I wrote to my MP today via writetothem.com:

Dear [],

I am writing to you to express my growing horror at the ongoing police violence and brutality Black protesters are facing in the US, and the UK’s disturbing silence on the matter.

These protests, begun as peaceful demonstrations against the state-enabled murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department, have been escalated by the US police, who are using excessive force against protesters practising their civic rights. If this were a non-white country, Western countries would have denounced this brutality; instead, the UK has elected to remain silent.

I am painfully aware that the UK itself suffers from many racist structures. Thanks to systematic injustice, the recent pandemic has impacted BAME people at a vastly higher rate than white people. The death of Belly Mujinga, caused by a racist attack and by her presence at work despite underlying conditions that should have resulted in paid leave, was horrifying and preventable, and the dropped inquiry utterly disgraceful.

I ask you personally to:
– write to the Foreign Secretary asking for a strong statement of condemnation of police brutality in the US,
– make it a personal priority to address the systematic injustice of unfair outcomes for BAME people in the UK,
– ensure that the government responds materially to the report on BAME COVID-19 deaths,
– insist on a full enquiry into the circumstances surrounding Belly Mujinga’s death.

Yours sincerely,
[]

Inspired by: @anahitrooz.

New home page design

After years of getting around to it, I have redesigned my home page at artificialworlds.net.

It’s basically intended to make me look clever or productive or interesting or something. Alternatively, it gives you somewhere to find that thing you know I made but can’t find the link:

Screenshot of artificialworlds.net - colourful boxes with rich-coloured picture of drawers behind.

The background image is “Read where you are” by delaram bayat.

I am pleased with the page’s responsive design, clarity, fast page-load, and colourfulness.

What do you think?

Poor performance in Chrome (especially on mobile) – caused by SVG background images

I have spent the last few hours investigating abysmal performance in my latest little game project Cross The Road. Firefox was fine, but Chromium and Chrome, especially on mobile, was rendering at about three frames per second.

When I stopped using SVGs as background-images for my elements, and used PNGs instead, it improved to about 20-30 FPS.

It seems fine to use SVGs as normal images, but for background-image, it really hurt performance.

Out-of-school education settings

Here is the comment I sent to the Government consultation on out-of-school education settings. Feel free to re-use, modify, distribute as you like.

I am writing to express my opposition to the government’s plans to regulate the content of out-of-school education.

I volunteer on an annual residential Christian holiday for young people which includes teaching on Christianity and the Bible. I am concerned that the work of this holiday would be regulated under these proposals. However, my concern is much wider than simply this and similar work.

I want to defend people I disagree with, as well as those with whom I agree.

I do not believe it is beneficial to society for governments to control the content of education provided outside of the state education system. In fact, I think it is a dangerous path to take, since while we may trust our current government and inspection regime, we have no reason to suppose it will always be tolerant and respectful of diverse views.

The use of terms such as “British values”, “emotional harm” and “tolerance” in the proposals is concerning since these are open to widely-varying interpretations. In recent history, it could certainly have been considered “un-British” to lobby for the legalisation of homosexuality or the enfranchisement of women, or to support a communist political party.

Personally, I interpret “British values” to mean being tolerant of views very different from my own, and keeping state interference in individual decisions to a minimum. In that context, I believe these proposals are in conflict with British values, and my own values.

I believe that the best way to counteract violent religious extremism is to practice the tolerance that we preach: to demonstrate in words and actions that we respect individual freedom of speech and action. Where children are being taught values with which we disagree, we should argue in public against those values, not ban them from being taught.