I’m the ginger bread man, n you cant catch me
It does make sense to have analogous terms which are offensive to nobody, though thats quite ‘a tall order’
Oh shit did I just upset someone tall?
The results are in for an IBM initiative launched last June to find and replace internal outdated and biased IT terminology. A GitHub post from Dale Davis Jones, vice president and Distinguished Engineer at IBM Global Technical Services, reveals which terms will be switched out. The changed terms include: old term new …
I've been aware of "Chinese walls" being used in financial institutions where one part of a company can't (or isn't supposed to) talk to another part due to conflict of interest/insider dealing/etc, which I guess would cover the ethical wall thing. But I've never heard it being used in reference to a firewall.
Is this related to the (what, 2 decades old?) analogy by Prof John Searle about the Chinese Room? He was talking about AI but I can sort of see an analogy to an process / department that does stuff without full knowledge of the relevance of their actions outside the room. Like homomorphic encryption ...?
Hmm, and you know what's much older than even that? Great big fortified walls that English speakers already knew about: built hundreds of years before even the oldest parts of the GWoC and known about for at least a thousand.
So I suspect "Chinese" has got to mean something additional to "Great Big" in this context. I'm not sure the GWoC impinged much on Anglophone consciousness before the 1980s, so I'd be interested to know if you can dig out an earlier metaphorical usage.
The GWoC was being used to make historical, political and societal points well back into the 19th century, perhaps most famously by Marx (e.g. in 1850) but by others too. It variously represented a country being closed and mysterious, or a barrier between barbarism and civilisation, or a line between nomadism and pastoralism, or a resistance to capitalism and progress – the list goes on. By the 1930s when "Chinese walls" came into use in the US following the financial crash, the GWoC was well-known world wide, far more so than Offa's Dyke or Hadrian's Wall (are you overestimating American interest in those?), and a frequent member of any updated list of the seven wonders of the world.
Indeed, the first moon landing was about 200 years after one early claim that the GWoC is visible from space, by which time the claim had been repeated so often it was simply a well-known fact that could then be used as a metaphor for monumental human achievement. That was still only slowly being debunked by the 1980s.
"... historical, political and societal points ... closed and mysterious ... between barbarism and civilisation ... between nomadism and pastoralism ... capitalism and progress – the list goes on."
It does rather, and with every item you reinforce my point that the use of the adjective means more than "Great Big" especially as the one item obviously missing from that list is its sheer size :-D
It's a symbolic wall, like the painted screens that are used to divide rooms in traditional Chinese architecture. People had heard about these. It's a wall that is respected by mutual consent, rather than because it is too solid to get through. The team working on a contract for company X will not discuss their project with the team working on a contract for company Y (a competitor of company X). They may meet in the halls or have lunch, but everyone agrees that a wall exists with respect to information regarding the two projects. No person will work on both.
I think you get one of the El Reg BS awards for that.
Offa's dyke was not a wall and it was build around 700*AD* (like, when Offa was around). The chinese fortification was started 700*BC*, got joined together over time and, does actually consist of stone work; like a wall, as opposed to a fence, or a dyke or, indeed, a ha-ha.
IRC from the time when the UK government embraced the term (a time when BoJo was a Murdoch hack in amour of Lady Ratchett) the term was coined because the walls in question were paper thin; as in the sub-dividers sometimes used in Chinese buildings where you can hear every word from the other side but you just don't listen. Honest.
Not sure why it's offensive; effective walls are Chinese = good, yes?
When they came for the Chinese walls, I said nothing, because I'm not Chinese.
When they came for the Damascus steel, I said nothing, because I'm not Damascian.
When they came for the French toast, I opened a café.
I think this is one of those Mandela-effect things: that's the only reason I can see for Trump supporters posing thereupon with "Walls Work!" posters. I mean, they might just be as thick as said wall: after all, they are there supporting a literally communist country's tourist industry whilst failing to read the few paragraphs of information on the tourist posters. Which explain clearly that the idea thot the GWoC was particularly effective as a defensive structure is not quite completely true (although, unlike the persistent falsehood that it is 'visible from space', also not entirely false).
This post has been deleted by its author
>> I am a grandfather. What the hell do I call myself now?
> "Person with descendants having descendants"
Sorry - Descendants discriminates against those adopted or gained from social bonding partnerships. Probably best not mentioning any form of ownership, relationship or descendance as this could imply an unintended hierarchy or age discrimination.
"Person Known to Another Being" is acceptable, possibly.
"I am a grandfather. What the hell do I call myself now?"
How about "Old Fart".
Disclaimer: The above statement is meant to disparage everyone all the time because it can. And, it's just plain fun to do.
Signed: Old Fart
Any bets on moderator deletion of this politically incorrect comment, then they can blacklist me.
Like I'm going to care anytime soon.
"I am a grandfather. What the hell do I call myself now?"
You call yourself "me". Your grandkids call you whatever the eldest amongst them decided your name is. (That's how it works in my family, anyway. I'm "grandad", my father was Granpa,and my grandad was either Granpa or Pop. A simple "hey you" also works. We're pretty informal around here.)
I wondered the same thing when this last came up. TIL the concept of the 'grandfather clause' has origins in the United States that seem pretty racist:
From late 19th-century legislation and constitutional amendments passed by a number of U.S. Southern states, which created new literacy and property restrictions on voting, but exempted those whose grandfathers had the right to vote before the Civil War. The intent and effect of such rules was to prevent poor and illiterate African American former slaves and their descendants from voting, but without denying poor and illiterate whites the right to vote.
...isn't being scrapped. They seem to be acknowledging the origins of using 'grandfathering' to mean an exemption for pre-existing situations/clients/privileges, as in the original grandfather clause.
Context matters; this appears to be too close to the bone.
I guess I better get rid of the Grandfather Clock that stands in my hall ... It's a Master Clock that makes sure a dozen or so slave clocks dotted around the place stay on time.(Acquired in an auction from an about to be demolished hospital. Lovely piece of furniture, built in the 1930s.)
Having been a white hat hacker, I think I find being called "offensive" more offensive than any negative correlation of the existing name. Besides an "offensive security researcher" sounds more like someone trying to do damage than not. Perhaps a "defensive security researcher" would be better.
Also, from what I remember the terms white hat and black hat don't have racial origins at all, they come from the old Hollywood westerns where the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black hats. Both sides were almost always white men.
> Having been a white hat hacker
You make a living hacking hats of white color?... I guess they won't let you anywhere near Ascot on racing days...
Seriously now, I thought exactly the same thing, an "offensive security researcher" is a security researcher who is somehow offensive: Constantly cussing, or running around without pants, or whatever. I'd rather stick with "penetration tester" (even if some people think it's pr0n related).
Also the "gray hats", what are we supposed to call those? "Gray" isn't yet considered offensive (AFAIK), but without the black/white hats on both ends, their name becomes totally incomprehensible.
I don't just find it offensive in that context, I find it fucking stupid.
It's not "black and white", per se, it's light and dark. Think about a small group of proto-humans a couple million years ago. Fearing the dark of night, because that's when the nocturnal predators hunted. The light of day brought relative safety. In other words "dark == bad, light == better" is embedded in our very genetics.
And let's not forget that those first early humans were undoubtedly dark skinned. The entire concept of black vs white being a racist thing is laughable.
By and large, I have no problem with evolution of the language to make it less prejudiced (and, hopefully, clearer too). Plug and Socket are much clearer and more sensible than male and female, for example. White box and Black box made no sense anyway since it doesn’t matter what colour it is, I can’t see into it unless it’s transparent. But Ethical Wall? That really does strike me as comedy nonsense of the highest order. What’s ethical about a firewall? Ethics have nothing to do with it.
Agreed. In which case the terms ‘male’ and ‘female’ are doubly pointless. Such connectors though, in every case I can think of, are interchangeable - i.e. there’s no concept of needing a particular type of plug for a given socket. They do both duties. So we can just call them Connector - and everyone can be happy.
Well, one does get those keyed bi-directional connectors which are half pins, half holes... anyway, the whole terminology did give rise to those fantastic port adaptors which converted sockets to pins and pins to sockets... gender benders they were known as. That'll be right out nowadays! I've still got a little line of them on the shelf in office - stencilled with the manufacturer designation too. Wonder if that offends any visitors? Maybe I should get rid of them into a box? Barely see a parallel or serial socket in use now.
Language itself can not be "prejudiced". The problem is people using language in certain ways that demonstrate their prejudice. This is clearly shown by some words being perceived as legitimately usable by certain people but not by others.
There is a great danger that language will be progressively purged of useful words and meanings because some influential people assume that users of those words are automatically "demonstrating prejudice", whereas in most cases the user is entirely innocent of any such intent. Indeed we should ask whether the self appointed language police are themselves demonstrating prejudice.
However, increasingly it seems that language is having prejuidice imposed on it by people who want to use this as a means of exerting power over others by deeming existing forms of language as "unacceptable" and by extension labelling anyone using that language as "unacceptable" as well.
A means of exerting power, eh? A quick look around the Western World shows that those really holding power aren't really champions of social justice. The idea that there is some left-leaning illuminati behind everything is just the 'cultural marxism' trope, itself verging on a conspiracy theory, which far too many people seem to have forgotten was originally invented from whole cloth by the Nazis. In fact this is such a prevalent view, there even seems to be a determined effort to misremember the Nazis as socialists of some kind.
> language will be progressively purged of useful words and meanings because some influential people assume that users of those words are automatically "demonstrating prejudice"
No, language will be purged because it's way easier to ban the name of a problem than fix the problem itself. If you can't name a problem , it officially disappears: You can't possibly be accused of XYZ discrimination if there officially is no XYZ (gender, skin color, age, whatever)...
Not to mention some people are desperately looking for something to be offended about, because it validates them, gives them a meaning in life. They will always find something new to be offended about (like this post for instance...).
Indeed we should ask whether the self appointed language police are themselves demonstrating prejudice.
And to put the icing on the cake, those wokes just about never belong to the group that is supposed to be a victim of that prejudice. The worst protestors against "black" somehow always are melanin deficient.
Here we go again.
Some things are ok (allow, deny convey the same meaning generally as whitelist and blacklist and have been in use for many years) but a lot of this is utter madness.
So when will the chess associations get involved? "White moves first..."
I have noted elsewhere that the term master / slave in the context of electronics (including device drivers) has a very specific meaning that is not particularly well conveyed by any other 'suggestion' I have seen. In this context it is utilitarian and has no 'racial / socio-economic' connotations at all.
Are the old westerns going to get colourised so that the good guys (in white hats) and the bad guys (in black hats) get some other colour? Can't do blue hats (offensive to smurfs, surely) and can't do red hat (IBM will fling a sueball).
Dear woke idiots: Get a life.
Are the old westerns going to get colourised so that the good guys (in white hats) and the bad guys (in black hats) get some other colour?
I was going to suggest copying pool and making them stripes and spots but someone would complain it discriminated against people with acne.
"at no cost to ourselves"
No cost, eh? Are YOU volunteering to pay for the reprinting and distribution of all the textbooks containing the words that must be sanitized/purified by this hyper politically correct insanity? Just to appease a small handful of hand-wringing namby-pambys who find insult around every bush, even (or especially!) if it's not there.
Here's a little story, written in common UNIX terminology:
gawk, grep, unzip, touch, strip, init, uncompress, finger, find, route, whereis, which, mount, fsck, nice, more, yes, umount, head, expand, renice, restore, touch, whereis, which, route, mount, more, yes, umount, ping, make clean, sleep
Presumably you are planning on making this kind of thing impossible, right? No? Then what's the fucking point?
What a fucking waste of time. The mind absolutely boggles.
Given all this, it does seem a little odd that they have no objection to "red team", as the team colours originated in (or were certainly popularised by) the US military, which used red to represent the the enemy (definitely not the USSR, a pure coincidence), and blue to represent themselves (definitely not related to their own flag).
(And then you have the rather bizarre scenario that the US Republican Party is red (when, from the perspective of commonly used meanings of political colours, it should probably really be blue).)
A firewall is for filtering data going in or out of a network. I remember the term "Chinese wall" being used in news stories related to IBM, but it referred to the wall between the people who read the BIOS listing to figure out what it did and the people who were writing a BIOS to do the same thing on your PC clone, so that's probably what the term "ethical wall" is for.
Chinese wall goes back a long time, and probably didn't originate with IBM. The term likely referenced the Great Wall of China and is used in business to denote a segregation of information with-in the company. Often for regulatory purposes.
The case you are talking about, at least the second half, I have always heard called a Clean Room Implementation. Although I guess they could work in parallel. You get the requirements (headers, API definition) and write your own implementation. There have been a number of JVMs built this way. Clean Room's purpose is to negate lawsuits, but doesn't always work.
There's another word that has been hijacked by taking one of the many contextual meanings and suggesting it means only that.
One can find discriminating diners; is that offensive to crappy food (or more to the point the people who put it together).
Then there are the discriminating opera lovers (who may find Puccini somewhat gauche - another word that can have some people in a rage),
I am not suggesting that illegal discrimination (choosing something based on a view of a particular person's <skin colour / lifestyle choice here> for whatever reason) should be the norm; what I would like is for these people (who seem to have far too much time on their hands) to understand the nuance of language.
When I choose a software tool I discriminate based on features and price, and that is as it should be.
>No, then it would be in a 'second' language. I would still have a native language, it would just be a different one.
Yes, that was the point. If 'native' was being used as the default language it might not be 'native' to everyone. But don't see how anyone could object to 'native' resolution = the resolution the screen was born with
Whether used as a firewall or in the financial world sense of completely separating parts of the business, it is used in the sense of a "really big and hopefully impossible wall to pass". Donald Trump's wet dream, basically. It is quite obvious it came from the Great Wall of China, not because Chinese people themselves are a wall or some type of obstacle in this sense.
I would imagine that the Chinese people are rightly proud of the Great Wall of China, which was an engineering marvel when built and still is even when measured against modern technology. Are any Chinese people offended by the "Chinese wall" reference as used by IBM or investment banks?
I guess their remit was to eliminate anything that represents a particular race, nationality, sexual orientation etc. and not worry about letting the people running this effort make any value judgments about whether something should or should not be offensive to those referenced by the a particular word/phrase. I'm struggling to think of a positive phrase (think "German engineering") that might be used in software and wondering if it would have been eliminated as well.
The Chinese cake?
Actually, I LOVE all the cakes that you can get from that bakery in Chinatown in London on Lisle Street. Oh no... I'm remembering them now... bugger. Want CAKE!!!!
Just checked... seems to have gone now. Sods. It was a marvellous experience there. And the eat-in bit... the staff were enjoyably rude; kept hurrying you up to get out of the place, it was a great laugh.
A Chinese wall is not big and impossible to pass. Quite the opposite in fact. It comes from the use of paper screens which everybody then pretends are impossible to go through, and usually refers to artificial divisions to keep information about two areas separated. e.g. A company doing work for two clients who are competitors which each other.
On the basis that it refers to a purely language based construct with no physical presence that stops you from doing something I am surprised it is not praised rather than rejected by reformists of woke or SJW flavours.
'Apple, GitHub, and OpenZFS have also tweaked their internal language policies following 2020's Black Lives Matter protests'
While I agree that some terminology could be changed so as not to cause offence, I doubt even one of the people who took part in the BLM protest were doing so because of the IT terms such as Master/Slave or White/Black hats.
And if they were protesting against such things they REALLY have their priorities out of whack.
And yet again, someone uses the ambiguous term 'blocklist' to replace 'blacklist'. Is it a list of blocks (like in a file), or a list of things to be blocked? It is not obviously the latter. I would prefer the use of 'allowlist' for 'whitelist' and 'denylist' for 'blacklist'. If you are looking to make a usage change, I would have thought people would want to use a term that is phonetically very distinct from the less-preferred term; and 'blocklist' sounds, and looks, very similar to blacklist. Perhaps some think that this similarity is an advantage?
I really hope we can generally agree on a set of neutral technical terms so that everyone who wishes to can contribute to IT without fear or favour - it seems to be the decent thing to do.
If everywhere in your field the word 'black' is used to mean a negative outcome and 'white' is used for a positive outcome = it's a problem.
Replace them with white = Catholic and black = protestant or white = christian / black = Jewish everywhere and see if seems 'ok'
Presumably, IBM's new rules force them to not translate their documentation into any language that mandates grammatical gender. That's roughly a quarter of all human languages. They will also no longer be doing business in any country that uses such languages. That would include most of Europe.
Or, more likely, none of the above will happen, because IBM is run by a bunch of hypocrites looking to score brownie points with North American hand-wringer and namby-pamby loudmouths, who seem to get off on being offended on the behalf of others and enjoy forcing everybody else to march in lock-step with their self-imposed offendedness.
Only English will be singled out for this mistreatment, and only English speakers will be harassed for using the language as she is spoke.. What do you call harassing someone based purely on the language he speaks?
Giving in to crybabys throwing a tantrum only reinforces the notion that tantrums work. It's basic animal training, innit. Well done, IBM, well done. Fucking idiots.
"Only English will be singled out for this mistreatment"
And to rub salt into the wounds it will only be the American usage of "English". A lot of people will be scratching their heads and wondering what the hell is going on. Given English is - in most of the world - the default business/IT language, how is someone for whom English isn't their native tongue going to adapt to these changes?
Given English is - in most of the world - the default business/IT language, how is someone for whom English isn't their native tongue going to adapt to these changes?
If and when applicable, I will pay these changes lip service. If clear and unambiguous communication is necessary and English prevents it because of these changes, I will try to find another language I have in common with whoever I am communicating with and switch to that. With colleagues there is a good chance that other language will be Dutch (yup, my mother tongue), with others it might be German. If necessary, I can fall back on French, Spanish, Portugese and Italian, though it may have to be in writing as I will need a dictionary.
In engineering, precise terminology matters a great deal. Wishy washy (because something can apparently be taken as offensive when taken out of context) stuff doesn't cut it when a precise description is required.
That is the reason we have accepted names for many things as those names convey a great deal of information.
If you are going to propose new names you need to show why these new names are just as effective as the ones currently in common use.
In control theory, we talk of servo control of a feedback system (servo has the same root as slave, incidentally). Try suggesting a name that is both widely used and also precisely describes what is being done.
In SPI, we refer to master / slave because that identifies very precisely how it operates.
I am old enough to remember that we used to refer to frequency in terms of cycles per second; this was renamed to Hertz (abbreviated Hz) in 1960 and took about 15 years to catch on widely not because anyone objected to Mr Hertz being honoured by have a unit named after him but because it takes time to collectively agree that a new term is universally understood.
Even if you could come up with new names for these (among the name and alphabet soup that pervades engineering) it would take several years for it to catch on and in the meantime there would be wide confusion over the new terms.
Spelling matters as well, incidentally; it is not elitist to expect correct spelling.
The last thing I need in design is confusion over what a particular term implies.
Some terms are appropriate and have been in use for decades (hosts.allow and hosts.deny were names used in IRIX systems back in the 90s for instance and can, in many cases, replace blacklist and whitelist, but not all).
You want us to use different terms? Then propose them with a full explanation of why they can convey the same very precise meaning as the existing terms rather than sitting around and just being offended on other people's behalf.
In control theory, we talk of servo control of a feedback system (servo has the same root as slave, incidentally).
As it is the concept of slavery that is objectionable, then it follows that servo is suspect, and also robot, which comes from the Czech word robota*, meaning serfdom, villeinage, or corvée with an original etymological root from a word meaning slave/slavery. Adoption of alternative forms might take a while.
Finding useful and usable neutral terms to use that are also sufficiently precise and nuanced is a challenge. You only need to look at the history of nomenclature in chemistry to see how long change takes to embed.
*Famously brought into English via Karel Čapek's play Rossum's Universal Robots (R.U.R.) (Rossumovi Univerzální Roboti)
Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021