Archive of posts on rights and government
[Some posts pre-2008 also listed by topic at the end.]
We’re having a slo-mo Kristallnacht January 11, 2018
The parallels have moved on from words to deeds. – Targeting racial groups. Then: Jews, gypsies, Slavs. Also: gays. Now: brown people, Muslims. Also: gays, trans. (I know Judaism and Islam are religions, not races. But the people doing the targeting don’t see it that way.) Children bullied. Places of worship defaced, burned. Street harassment. – Sending members of the groups to their deaths. Then: … well, we all know what they did then. Now: rounding up brown people. Deporting brown people to places where they are killed. The link refers to the murders when Obama promoted such actions. Now […]
How to stop weaponized speech? May 4, 2017
A Chatbot sits in the White House. It’s not a theoretical question anymore whether the marketplace of ideas works and whether good ideas win out over bad ones. It all just got real and the answer is no.
Punching Nazis and the Rule of Law February 11, 2017
Punching nazis is a meme already. It’s a way of performing virtue at each other.
In Case Anyone Wonders Why Communism Fell November 9, 2016
[Update Nov. 9: I’ve been working on a post about free speech and its limits since forever. 2009? Anyway. There’s hardly any point now, since the limits we so desperately needed — not that I know how to implement them — we didn’t figure out in time. Freedom of lying has given us the actual Cheeto-topped Dogpile as Head Bully, so anything about free speech is even more theoretical than it was before. Oh well. I guess it’ll keep me busy and off the streets. For a while. Where was I? Why communism fell.] It’s called a lethal inability to […]
Ginsburg is right July 13, 2016
Trump is so unfit for office, he would be so bad for so many billions of people, that if you don’t point that out you are complicit in his vicious buffoonery. Ginsburg is well-versed enough in right and wrong to know that. So she says it. As she must.
The sound of freedom June 6, 2015
Fighter jets roared by above our yoga studio. Breaks the ambience, right? One woman put it in context by murmuring, “The sound of freedom.” And I thought Dear God, where do you even start? I spent the rest of the class absentmindedly bent into various shapes and thinking non-serene thoughts. If weapons were the sound of freedom, there’d be no such thing as dictators. The sound of freedom is the woman yelling about underpaid janitors at Speakers’ Corner. The sound of freedom is the boy pushing his little sister in her stroller, walking through the quiet park filled with bird […]
Vaccination (like everything else) is about rights February 3, 2015
Comments used to resemble “It’s My Right To Decide What Eliminated Diseases Come Roaring Back” (The Onion). Now that there’s an outbreak, people want to jail the unvaccinated. They’ve have gone straight from loony libertarian to jackbooted totalitarian. Both are wrong.
Hah. I’m way ahead of Carlos Slim. July 20, 2014
He’s making the news because he’s a gazillionaire and he thinks people shouldn’t work so much. I made that point years ago. The only thing he does wrong is not take it far enough.
About that lack of little green aliens April 30, 2014
Artist’s conception of most earth-like planet so far (Illustration: NASA, SETI, JPL, via APOD) The Drake Equation (written out at the end of the post) was invented as a way to think about the probability of meeting aliens as we go about our business. One big factor is of course how many habitable planets there are to begin with. If we refuse to assume we’re special, hundreds of civilizations per galaxy looks like a rather conservative guess, given how many billions of stars there are to work with. But that dumps us straight into the next question. If there are […]
Not so cynical about Afghanistan April 5, 2014
Afghanistan is corrupt and war-torn and sexist and poor. They know that. They know that no election is going to make a big difference all at once. And yet they carry ballot boxes up mountains to small villages because they can see a better world even if they don’t live there.
Search and social: You are for sale January 31, 2014
The web isn’t free any more than the supermarket is free for the soap being sold. Google made sixty billion dollars last year. Using you. If you mattered at all you’d be getting a cut of the proceeds.
The roots of war November 18, 2013
People who go to war always say they do it to serve — their country, an ideal, their way of life, always something outside themselves. But then when the fighting is obviously destroying everything they or anyone cares about, they would stop, wouldn’t they?
Getting rights wrong: the example from Rand Paul April 15, 2013
Being a good Randian, he believes property rights trump everything, which means that there would be no real civil rights at all. If the only place you have rights is in government buildings, you may as well use the Bill of Rights for bird cage liner.
The Supreme Court doesn’t understand the Constitution March 28, 2013
I don’t spend a lot of time keeping up with what passes for thinking in the legal system, so I’ve merely been aware that gay marriage rights have been toiling their way through the system. I haven’t paid attention to the arguments. MoDo’s article came as a bit of a surprise to me. (Yes, I know, she can be a twit. But she can also write and sometimes I read her. So sue me.) This is what stopped me short: “Same-sex marriage is very new,” Justice Samuel Alito whinged, noting that “it may turn out to be a good thing; […]
The economy is not a dippy duck March 20, 2013
Politicians make pious noises about governments “living within their budgets.” According to them, this is how “families” do it. The water goes only one way for a dippy duck Intelligent economists — Martin Wolf and Krugman to take just two — are rightly incensed at that self-serving nonsense (whose real point is to prevent tax hikes on the wealthy, but that’s a ‘nother whole mess). Unfortunately, they don’t provide an easy way to visualize the difference between citizen and government finances. Krugman, for instance, otherwise one of the best examples of lucidity, uses the analogy of a babysitters club. It’s […]
If it costs money, it’s dumb March 16, 2013
Even more so if it costs anyone who’s already comfortable. From Krugman, this priceless proof They are always, always, trotting out the same claptrap. Spending anything for the common good is weak, namby-pamby, woolly-minded unwillingness to face hard choices. [W]hat The Economist said, in 1848, about proposals for a London sewer system: Suffering and evil are nature’s admonitions; they cannot be got rid of; and the impatient efforts of benevolence to banish them from the world by legislation, before benevolence has learned their object and their end, have always been more productive of evil than good. Sewers are socialism! It […]