Monday, September 06, 2010

Potpourri CLII

Let's get to it, shall we? I've got a lot of junk clogging up the arteries of my inbox.

This one came to me via Lin and Father Dan. Food for thought as we continue to debate the Ground Zero Mosque.

From Greg: It's a little old (2008 or so), but this story purports to cover Spain's efforts to give apes and similar non-human hominids "human rights." Assuming the story is true (and one wonders about anything one sees on the internet these days), I think it's a bit of a legalistic stretch regardless. Can laws be made to protect animals or punish crimes against animals more severely? No doubt a convincing case can be made. However, granting animals the same "rights" as humans presumes the capacity of said animals to accept, appreciate, and act upon such rights. Can animals enter into legally binding contracts, for instance? Would they know how to sue if that contract was violated? Can animals be held liable for crimes if they commit them? Oh, they're not liable? Why is that? Are we going to give them special status without any strings attached? Rights also have responsibilities attached to them. Or don't we believe that anymore?

Also from Greg: deep-fried beer. Really.

A few items I found while surfing:
Karen in Bay Hill sent me an interesting bit of political thought. I've deleted the extra rambling around it so that you can focus on the heart of the matter:

This law (or amendment) makes eminent sense to me. Which means that someone with a J.D. will probably tell me why such a law would be a BAD idea and shouldn't even be considered. I read somewhere awhile back that 90% of the Politburo of the People's Republic of China has an education in science or engineering, vs. the U.S. Congress, where I'm pretty certain that a large chunk of them have degrees in law (actually, it's 179 members of the House and 57 senators). Food for thought.
Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution:

"Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States .."

What's the biggest threat to our national defenses? Al-Qaeda? North Korea? China? Nope. Guess again.

This is now old news, and the perpetrator has since been moved on to his eternal fate, but here are the demands of the man who held employees at Discovery Communications hostage last week. As with the equal-rights-for-apes story, this begs a serious question: are some of these folks really serious about elevating respect for the Earth and other living creatures in it, or is their real purpose to denigrate the value of human beings--and if so, to what end? If you downgrade the value of human beings individually or collectively, who stands to gain from that stance? My guess: anyone who wants to reduce the freedoms of said human beings in the name of "the planet" or some other equally general notion. It's a shame, really. Some of my favorite people are human beings.

From Lin:
  • What now passes for "scandal" if you're a conservative. Wow. Some reporters need to get a life.
  • A Charles Krauthammer editorial on governing liberalism and its reactions to (or against) the people it means to rule. One of the most difficult things about interacting on the internet is the knee-jerk reactions of some folks if you politely state that you are for one position or against another. The assumption is not that you disagree and therefore have a worthy point of view but that you are OBVIOUSLY evil, corrupt, stupid, bigoted, etc. I find this method of attack (which seeks to humble, humiliate, or beat back, not argument, which would seek to convince) offensive. As I've said before, disagreeing with the President does not automatically make you a racist. If liberals want to win more of the electorate's hearts and minds, they might stop assuming or baldly stating that this is so.
  • A TED video on the cultural roots and effects of choice. Caveat visor: I haven't watched this yet.
From Martin:
  • A "manly" reading list. Great. More stuff for my Amazon wish list. On the plus side, I have at least read some of these already...oh, well. I've got another 40 years or so. Certainly the time will come up, right?
  • An argument against the X-20 spaceplane.

From Gwen: a Star Wars shower curtain.

From Twila: a discussion of the effects of NASA stimulus spending.

Speaking of the stimulus, government spending on such things has now exceeded the seven years of the Iraq War, which certain friends of mine assured me would destroy or bankrupt the country.

Some amateur rocketeers in Denmark want to launch a human being into space on their rocket. Um, eek?

This interested me: how faculty authors can implement an open access policy (to reading their papers) at their institutions.
From D2: another TED talk on civilizational ethics.
From Father Dan: the world's top 50 resorts.
Okay, that'll do for now. Have a good, short, week.


Unknown said...

Two minor points:

I'm with you on the "rights for apes" business, but the arguments you present against are not compelling, as human children are incapable of contracts, etc, and are still understood to have rights. I'm sure there are myriad other arguments against it (though I confess, other than the "well, duh" common sense ones, I can't conjure one that doesn't apply to kids).

Re: political divisiveness. Disagreeing with the president makes you a racist in exactly the same way that disagreeing with the previous one made you a traitor and a terrorist. Both arguments are nonsense and are made by professional pundits to sell books, then parroted back by the less thoughtful members of the party base. As with many things, I blame Beck and Karl Rove. :P

lin said...

Florida's pig amendment conferred Constitutional rights to the porcine community in this state. Although spokesmen for the "Four legs good, two legs bad" crowd have yet to offer their thoughts on the immediate effects of this legislation, humans have been grateful for one of its unintended consequences. It is now exponentially more difficult to amend Florida's Constitution via citizen initiative. Human rights for feral cats! Alligators are not meat!