Coded green.

Sunday 20 May 2001

Shop window

At first I thought: "They call that black? She's not black, she's just tan." Only later did I consider that they might mean the clothes, since it was a clothing store after all ... Heh, I guess I just don't have a very high clothes awareness. It fades fast without practice.

Black & White

Black and white are indeed quite useful for clothes. Black in particular, I think. I've heard that I look pretty good in black myself, and I agree that it generally improves my appearance. I wear black quite a bit at home, and on more festive occasions when I visit my best friend. But rarely at work. For reasons outside the scope of this entry, I don't particularly want to look too good at work.

White is not my style. Funny, since white is supposed to be the color of innocence. I sometimes wear off-white, though. :) Actually, it is quite rare that I wear white or almost white clothes. For some reason I feel that white is a bit feminine. Could be because brides often wear white, while the grooms wear black. (So much for the innocence theory.)


There are other aspects of "Black and White" than clothes. Most notably around here, the worldview. Some people see ethical choices or political questions in black and white: Either right or wrong. It should be no big surprise that these people tend to see their own stance as white and all others as black. Even when they have arrived at their understanding through more or less random events, such as being born into a certain culture or going to a certain school.

I guess some questions are more black and white than others. For instance, anything involving death is pretty sharp. Mostly people are either dead or alive. Mostly. But even there, you have some cases that defy definition. People who live on with no discernable brain function, but they are kept breathing with machines. Are they dead or alive? I suspect that in the future, the border lines will be moved, and many who are now considered alive will be considered dead and terminated. Purely economic reasons will force this into being. It will be possible to keep almost any patient "alive" for years or decades, but at enormous cost, even after all hope is lost of ever bringing back their mind. It will simply not be possible for the relatives to pay the cost of keeping the corpse breathing.

Over a time span of 40 years provoked abortion changed from being a worldwide recognized crime to being socially acceptable to a majority of populations in the rich world. There is no reason to believe that there will be more resistance to terminating lives that have no hope of ever regaining sentience. Euthanasia is becoming more and more accepted for each passing year. I think all we need is for the costs to be paid by the same person who has the power to pull the plug, and voila: Bye bye grandpa. Black becomes white. (Not saying this is a bad thing, but there is definitely a slippery slope further in that direction.)


In religion, black or white thinking is particularly common. In the old pagan religions, things were a bit more flexible: Each person worshipped different gods for different occasions, and the neighbor worshipped some other gods again. Cities had their favorite deities, but with commerce and migration gods spread from city to city and were generally accepted into the pantheon over time. There were still wars, supposedly supported by different gods. The god whose people won the war was considered to be the most powerful.

With monotheism, this is no longer so. Even though saints have at times taken on roles similar to pagan deities ... you had local favorite saints, and saints for various trades and so on. And it's not just christianity either ... the two main branches or sects of Islam, Shia and Sunni (not sure of the English spelling here) differ most sharply in their view of one martyr, Hussein, who one group consider very important and the other not.

But generally, either you follow the One God or you don't, in which case the One God (and not least his followers) will be very displeased with you. So far so good: Black or white. But once you worship the One God, there is suddenly a lot of different ideas about how to worship. Sabbath or Sunday? Christmas or no christmas? Pictures or no pictures? And so on. Every few years, someone gets an important revelation that most of his fellow worshippers are completely in the dark and on the road to eternal damnation, unless they do as he says. For each individual, it may be black and white. But seen from a bit higher above, it is very freckled indeed.


Back to my original thought about the girls with the clothes on. For some reason, I thought "black=negroid". Here in Norway it was until recently considered bad form to describe negroes as black, even though that's what the word means. But in Norwegian, calling someone black may also imply that they are dirty, unwashed. It is also in general a bad word, used several places as a swear word: "Svarte" ("black") is an oath implying the Devil, the Dark One, or his supposed dark abode. But thanks to relentless peer pressure from across the Atlantic, we have gradually come to call negroes blacks instead. Even though most of them are shades of brown. Then again, we are not exactly white either, more like pink to light brown...

Norway is not a very racist country. Intercolor dating is pretty common when circumstances allow. A main problem however is that the immigrants from far away are almost exclusively male. This leads to some resentment among the local men, who find that they now have to compete harder for the women. For most ethnic groups this resentment is kept at a moderate level, and this is the case with black Africans in general. There are however a couple other groups, most notably muslims, who have become seriously disliked. And with good reason. At first, they came alone. But eventually they have brought women from their homelands, and have children. These children grow up, and their parents apply double standards. The girls are hid away, while the boys are chasing the local girls. This is an extremely un-Norwegian attitude. You either share alike, or not at all. You don't bring your own beer and drink the host's beer too. Expect continuing conflict until they either mend their ways or bloody war erupts.

In marked contrast, non-muslim Africans seem to blend pretty well. I think a major reason for this is that unlike American blacks, many of the Africans here come directly from an African nation. They don't feel any particular affinity to another random African nation. Basically they don't feel closer to each other than to a Swede or Vietnamese or any other immigrant. There is no black subculture. And very importantly, non-muslim African women are not locked up. They go out, and they are quite popular. This improves the reputation of their ethnic group greatly. (And they tend to be really cute, too. Mmm.)


Finally, the cult hit computer game Black & White from Lionhead Studios (Peter Molyneux and friends). OK, so it is a cult hit mainly in the UK, where Molyneux has a superhero status similar to Sid Meier in the USA, even though almost no one can spell his name. I have been rather unimpressed by his earlier games, which were all very Amiga-like even when made for the PC. I guess they were sort of innovative, though. Black & White looks decent graphically. And it may set a new standard for "god games" in as far as it literally allows you to play a god, doing miracles etc to impress the local tribes. Expect a full report if I ever bother to play it for a while. Don't hold your breath, though.

Yesterday <-- This month --> Tomorrow?
One year ago
Two years ago

Visit the Diary Farm for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.

I welcome e-mail:
Back to my home page.