Civil liberties

Effect Measure

Category archives for Civil liberties

Abortion and the world that is

When CBS-TV decided to run an anti-abortion ad during the Superbowl there was a lot of talk about the propriety of airing highly polarizing advocacy advertising in such a highly visible media slot. There has been less talk about the content of the ad beyond the obvious fact it was making an implied argument against…

Bad facts make bad law

I’m not sure I completely understand the legal adage, “bad facts make bad law,” but the Supreme Court may be about to give us all an object lesson in its meaning. If I do understand it, is that sometimes there are situations — “bad facts” — that are so unusual or so horrifying or both…

U.S., Hungary, 2010, 1989, 1956

Martin Luther King’s birthday is an official holiday in the US, but King’s example of non-violent resistance is not a US idea. So once again we have decided this non-traditional version of We Shall Overcome is appropriate. I’ve heard and sung this in churches, union halls, in the streets and in concerts for four decades…

People complain that ministers in the cabinet Iran’s recently selected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government will say things so outlandish no one else would even think of saying them, but Declan Butler over at the Nature blog, The Great Beyond, begs to differ. Take Iran’s Science Minister, Kamran Daneshjou. Daneshjou’s credentials had been questioned in an…

Swine flu: isolation and quarantine

As cases continue to accrue in different places we will hear more talk about quarantine and isolation. These are two terms that are frequently confused, which is too bad, because isolation makes sense for influenza and quarantine doesn’t. So what do they mean?

RIP: Odetta (1930 – 2008)

Another one gone. First Miriam Makeba. Now Odetta. It’s almost as if they waited for the election and then said, “It’s OK, now.” Odetta was 77 and her voice still powerful. It remains even more powerful in memory. This one has hit me hard. Two contrasting clips. The first, a studio recording from 1957 of…

Mass murder in Zimbabwe

Cholera is a vicious disease. It can take a healthy person and kill him or her in a day by rapidly dehydrating them from a massive, watery diarrhea. The resulting electrolyte imbalance can lead to vascular collapse or cardiac arrest. Cholera is usually spread by fecally contaminated drinking water, and hence is completely preventable. It…

The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) is one of the most maligned and hated federal agencies. And for good reason. They are worse than useless, performing uncounted acts of “security theater” (in Bruce Schneier’s apt coinage), like confiscating water bottles and making you take off your shoes. The TSA also has an active use of “behavior…

Proposition 8, a ballot initiative in California, would make marriage an institution confined to one man and one woman (as opposed to what? many men and one woman or one man and many women? Someone should tell the Mormon Church, the chief bankrollers of this vile initiative, about that!). It is appropriately called Proposition Hate.…

Data mining for fool’s gold by fools

The US government response to the bogus war on terrorism is a mixture of the stupid, the super stupid and the evil. Taking off our shoes at the airport isn’t evil but it is probably super stupid. So is the 3 oz. liquid ban. On reflection, maybe there are only two categories: super stupid and…