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Archive for April, 2008

Stuff White People Like is hilarious.

“I like the guy in the white American Apparel shirt with the glasses.”

“Which one? there are eight.”

“The guy with the keffiyeh.”

“Oh yeah, you’re right.  He does look smarter and more political than the other guys.  He’s clearly more sensitive to wind, so he’s probably more sensitive in general.  You should totally date him.”

The full post.

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Is shown most starkly by the graph below.

(Source: NYCLU)

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This case is so absurd that it is difficult to take it seriously. Priya Venkatesan, who taught writing this year at Dartmouth College, is threatening to sue former students under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act for criticizing her in course feedbacks. This report has the details along with snippets of Ms Venkatesan’s own writing, which should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind why she got so poor evaluations.

Oh, and Title VII, for those who are unaware, is the primary federal law that prohibits discrimination in employment. For the life of me I don’t see how that can be used to sue the students, who are neither Ms Venkatesan’s employers nor her colleagues. Besides, as any lawyer would point out, they have an obvious first amendment right to censure their professor in evaluations. Maybe Ms Venkatesan has a postmodernist explanation for all this…

Here’s a link to the Dartmouth blog coverage on the matter. Also, my thoughts on Title VII and other anti-discrimination laws.

(Link via Instapundit)

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This is one of the most interesting ideas I have seen in a while.

Needless to say, I am excited. Yet a part of me tells me that it will result in something like what one commenter predicts:

It sounds like a great idea, seeing as anyone with a boat could hook up to whichever jurisdiction they wanted, giving them that almost zero cost of movement.

However, I guarantee–guarantee–that as soon as stuff like this was set up and people were going for drug holidays and cocaine was being moved through them and weapons were sold willy-nilly and gambling and prostitution and all of it, the big countries would just get together and come up with an Oppression Pact, change the maritime laws, and shut it all down.

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“Insanity in individuals is something rare – but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

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This is very depressing news.

The Dutch cabinet has proposed a ban on the sale of all hallucinogenic “magic” mushrooms because they could induce life-threatening behaviour.

A bill will now pass to the Dutch parliament, where a majority of lawmakers are expected to back a ban after a teenage French girl who had eaten mushrooms died jumping from a bridge in 2007.

Magic mushrooms are one of the safer drugs — they are non-addictive and less harmful than legal drugs like tobacco. Millions of people have tried them without doing anything remotely approaching jumping off a bridge, and in many cases have found the experience enriching. Yet a single isolated incident seems to be enough for the Dutch to ban it for all. Are the simple concepts of personal liberty and the individual bearing the consequences of his actions so hard to grasp?

As Andrew Sullivan, in whose blog I found this news, writes in this post

When even Amsterdam is becoming a center for extinguishing individual freedom, you know our age is getting darker.

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Apropos of nothing…I remembered myself from ten years back.

When I hated all mongerers of superstition; when I simply could not fathom why the government did not declare the practice of astrology, quackery, faith-healing and all related unscientific mumbo-jumbo illegal; when I would have liked all religious extremists and preachers of hate put behind bars; when the ultimate aim of the government to me was the advancement of a scientific spirit; when I truly believed that the world would be a better place if those who were caught in the warp of irrationality and actively spread dogmatism were silenced, by force if necessary; when I was fifteen.

Today, as then, I believe in the scientific spirit. But I no longer believe in coercion. Does that make me a wiser person?

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