Sunday, September 5, 2021

Who let Texans make laws?

Certainly, from an ethical and medical point of view, in most cases self-restraint is a far better option than abortion. But there are cases where self-restraint simply was not an option. And because of those cases - and the impossibility to be certain that it might have factored in - the only sensible moral position is to allow for abortion at the woman's discretion. Counseling may or may not take place; but in the final analysis, only the pregnant woman (or her guardian) has the right to decide what is best for her.

In this light, the new law in Texas, which effectively outlaws abortion and makes anyone even tangentially involved with the process a target for bounty hunters, is most odious. It is an oppression of women, American puritanism at its worst.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

A tawdry end to a tawdry war

Afghanistan... By what right did the USA invade that country? By what right did it remain there? But having abused its power for so long, when leaving could the US not have fulfilled promises to local supporters and protected all its citizens? Yes, certainly it was the right move to leave. But there's a right way and a wrong way to do that. No amount of political pretense will change the fact that Biden's departure from Afghanistan was every bit as arrogant and presumptuous - every bit as cruel and unethical - as Bush's entry.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Modern Darwinism and herd Immunity

The nature of a pandemic is to threaten the existence of a species. Faced with extinction by a disease, the species must eventually achieve a state of herd immunity. This is as true today as it was hundreds, thousands, and even millions of years ago. The only difference today is that we have more scientific means of achieving immunity.

Against Covid-19, people may take recourse to a relatively safe vaccine. Or they may contract the disease and - if they survive - achieve a natural level of immunity. But one way or another, they will almost certainly contribute to the attainment of herd immunity. Either that will happen, or the human species is doomed.

As for those who prefer not to be vaccinated, who prefer to take their chances with the disease, society need not vilify them. Most people might not agree with their position, but that is their subjective truth... and so it is pointless to argue. But certainly society has every right to protect itself against those who pose a risk to its survival. Thus, as a security measure, society has the right to demand a certificate of either vaccination against or recovery from Covid... or of a very recent test negative for Covid. Any person who remains unvaccinated and lacks any proof of recovery or lack of infection by Covid may reasonably be shunned as a clear and present danger. Individual freedom must never eclipse the collective interest. An entire species cannot be held hostage to the whims of its individual members. The whole is never less than its parts.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

BoJo: A Trumpian idiot

Following in the footsteps of Donald Trump, a colossal nitwit, BoJo underestimated and misrepresented the risks of the Coronavirus (Covid-19). In short order, he has been compelled to shift course. Presumably, when asked, he will grade his response as a 10 out of 10.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

First female President of the USA?

Well, it's a long shot. But if Trump and Pence were to be impeached simultaneously (and they now both appear to be guilty of the same crime relating to misuse of power and the Ukraine), then - according to the line of succession - the Speaker of the House of Representatives takes the throne. Long live Nancy Pelosi.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Modifiers versus nouns and verbs

For once I must admit that a pope has made a fairly decent point. Maybe it's not perfect, but there are some merits to the position of Francis. CNN reports:
In a speech on Monday to the Dicastery for Communications, the Vatican's communications authority, Pope Francis urged people not to describe Christianity with qualifiers and adjectives. "We have fallen into the culture of adjectives and adverbs, and we have forgotten the strength of nouns," he said.
Instead of calling churches "small but authentic," or trying to distinguish things as "authentically Christian," he said people should call them simply "Christian." The term "Christian" is strong and authentic enough as it is, without the need for adjectives, he said.

"I am allergic to those words," he added.
Of course the problem with his argument... something that Francis seemed to realize in other reporting... is that the word, "Christian", in the context that he used it, is in fact an adjective. Yes, "Christian" may also be used as a noun, an adjectival noun... but fundamentally it is an adjective. When we describe a place of worship or a person as "Christian", then we use the word "Christian" as an adjective. If we say someone is a Christian, then the adjective takes on the form of a noun; but it is still fundamentally an adjective.

Leaving aside that relatively minor issue, the notion of a "culture of adjectives and adverbs" is indeed interesting. Certainly, the extensive use of adjectives and adverbs does tend to color a message in ways that are sometimes unpredictable and even unwanted or misleading. Adjectives and adverbs may, on occasion, blur the science of communication, even when they simultaneously enhance the art.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

An extraordinary loser

Boris Johnson managed to become the British Prime Minister, and within just days or weeks (not months) he has racked up an impressive, indeed an unprecedented, string of losses with no apparent wins along the way. He lost his parliamentary majority, he lost the support of even his own brother, and just minutes ago he lost a huge and historic case in the Supreme Court, in which a bench of 11 justices unanimously declared his prorogation of parliament to be unlawful and annulled. And we haven't even begun to talk about the underlying issue, Brexit. Well done, Boris... you stand first as the worst.