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    Archive of posts on rights and government

[Some posts pre-2008 also listed by topic at the end.]

Say a prayer for the hardworking people      November 6, 2020

Say a prayer for the salt of the earth. People working for little or no money to make this a real election.                          

So, now what?      January 31, 2020

The rule of law was taken off life support and euthanized in the US Senate on January 31st, 2020. What does this mean for the future?

Dancing and Assault Are Different      June 13, 2018

Avoid double standards and the distinction between rights and not-rights is easy.

And now for something completely different      May 19, 2018

Bitcoin is not money.

Does conservatism have a point?      March 15, 2018

At this point the word “conservative” has lost its meaning. The people it’s applied to have made it synonymous with moneygrubbing bullies who have the moral code of an earwig. But officially it’s supposed to be an actual political philosophy.

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.

Collected Links to Acid Test posts on democracy, and related blessays

[Earlier list. Not updated after 2007.]