Thursday, March 09, 2006

down in the trenches of hell, digging madly: Part 2.

I'd like to blog a little about how fucked up my work is at the moment, but I'm working on a little ulcer to go with my 2 week old flu, so I'll hold in the bile for another night.

Tonight it's all about the census.

Or, more specifically, that question. You know, the controversial one.

Many, many people have lain on their backs and batted this around like a cat-toy; Tze-Ming's posts I thought we ethnic minorities were the ones who were meant to have the identity problems and Re-name in vain are required reading. Hell, I even tackled it a while back with the horribly mis-named speaking of sexual perversions ...

Let me be honest: when someone says that they should be able to put down New Zealander as their ethnicity I feel that it is kind of like saying "I'm not racist - some of my best friends are niggers/ chinks/ wops /dagos /democrats". Ethnicity these days takes on the appearance of a zero sum game - revenge against all the slights us white people have to endure everyday for everyone else flaunting their non-whiteness with impunity. Christ, even I'm not immune. I dearly wanted to put down my ethnicity as Pakeha but because the "We're New Zealanders" campaign had slacked me off I used the New Zealand European box as a gesture of defiance. Sad, I know.

But I still feel that the whole question is a little old fashioned; and if nothing else it's just not terribly precise. If you are going to put me in a box I'd like one that fits like a glove, ta muchly. So next census I'd like questions like this:

  • What country/region did you go to school (or were you home-schooled?)
  • Where were your parents born?
  • Where did you spend your formative years?
  • Were you raised by two parents, one parent, extended family (or combinations thereof)?
... you get the picture. Let's really build a picture of our people. An immigrant from Mainland China is different to an Immigrant from Hong Kong, is different from an immigrant who came here at 3 years old from Mainland China, is different to someone who was born in China, lived until they were 10 years old in UAE, and then came to live here.

And while we're at it, why not take a snapshot of our views as a society? Death penalty, abortion, tax levels, GE crops ... okay, phrasing those sort of questions would take great care, but wouldn't it make the census a more valuable data source?

Or are we afraid of the answers we might get?

Fuck it. Next census I'm going to stick it to the man and put down my ethnicity as Jedi.

A Snopes a Day; or, Shit You Should Stop Believing:
The average person needs to drink eight glasses of water per day to avoid being "chronically dehydrated."

Daily Science Fix:
Fat and Happy: Why Most People Don't Diet and Voice of Reason: Fact vs. Fiction on Obesity

Daily Onion fix:

White House Had Prior Knowledge Of Cheney Threat - Aug. 2005 Briefing Warned, 'Cheney Determined To Shoot Old Man In Face'

Daily Matthew Dentith quote fix:

Stolen from Broken Planet News:
Group challenges science on 'biblically correct' tours; or, why you shouldn't sleep with your sister.

Abortion debates are like watching a car crash in slow motion:
S.D. House approves sweeping abortion ban I'm warning you now - they're up to fricking page 20 on this discussion.


The Hand of Morthos said...

More blogs need a section entitled 'Daily Matthew Dentith Quote Fix.' Danke.

Rich said...

Can Stats NZ track people through multiple censuses? If so they could get a lot of that data without asking the question. The Ministry of Education should have the data on how people are being educated (and NZIS collect data on where people went to school overseas in order to asses the suitability of new immigrants).

Also, my understanding of the purpose of the census is that it is to create a baseline for more specific sample-based surveys. So you could do the research you wanted on a few hundred subjects and use census data to determine the validity.