Quicklinks: Dissapointing world

Sometimes I just find the world incredibly disappointing. A Norwegian woman went to the police in Dubai to report being raped and instead found herself arrested for extramarital sex! She was later pardoned by the Sheik but the very fact that that can even happen is ridiculous. It’s not the 17th century but you could be forgiven for thinking so.

Then I hear the UK wants internet service providers to block porn by default. Naturally this is “for the children.” Of course I highly doubt there’s any evidence that it will improve children’s lives or that he’s taken into account the uncertainty that lurks in these situations. There better be very strong evidence to enact such a thing because the government has no business telling people what they can and can’t look at. This system should be opt-in only, unless maybe in the UK every single household and person has kids.

As if privacy weren’t muddied enough it seems retailers think it’s good to stomp all over it so they can track people and recognise celebrities. No. You shouldn’t be tracking people. Their defence is that it’s the same as what’s done on-line. That may be but that doesn’t mean it’s right. In this case they’re just copying a bad example.

This last one is not as bad as the others but a difference in what I think we are meant to achieve through justice system. Nazi hunters are putting up posters looking for information to convict those involved in the holocaust. The problem is that was 70 years ago and the people involved even older. Of course if your idea of justice is just to punish people then it makes sense to convict them. A more constructive form of justice would seek to rehabilitate and prevent recurrence of past events. The chances these people are going to repeat their crimes is infinitesimal so convicting them will serve no purpose.

India recognises dolphins as non-human persons

Dolphins (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Dolphins are one of a number of particularly special animals that are widely recognised to be highly intelligent. This makes them an ideal starting point to assign moral rights and personhood to non-humans. Rather than individuals with inherent value, most animals are currently seen as property and the effort to elevate their status has a lot of hard work ahead of it. That’s not to say that no one is trying, people are, although not always successfully. Continue reading

Playing violent video games doesn’t make you a bad person

It’s strange that people are still looking at this sort of thing because I thought it was fairly clear that playing violent video games doesn’t make you a violent person. I’m not aware of there being any sustained rise in violent behaviour that can be linked to video games, in fact I think there’s been a decrease in violence over the period video games have become popular. When I think of high-crime areas and the people who live there, they don’t seem to be the ones that play video games. It seems like it’s just a knee-jerk response to seeing violence in video games to blame them for societies ills. In any case a study has been published that shows that violent video games don’t diminish prosocial behaviour or, more simply, you aren’t less likely to help someone after playing a violent game. Continue reading

Worthwhile reading

I was updating my blogroll with new links when I realised that I had never actually made a post about them in the first place. You can see them along the side of this blog and it’s a collection of some of the sites that I follow. I’ve excluded news sites so these are usually blogs of individuals or small groups.

3 Quarks Daily
This is the closes to a news site of all of them but it’s not news. It shares a wide variety of posts from all over the internet, including some original pieces, covering science, art, philosophy and politics. chances are there will always be some content of interest here. Continue reading

Why South Africa is failing

It should be fairly obvious to any educated person but South Africa is failing because there is a complete absence of leadership. One might even go so far as to say the leadership that there is is actually detrimental to the country. I’d like to take this opportunity to vent my frustrations about the sheer idiocy I encounter every time I read the news.

At the start of the year we had an unemployment rate of 25% (Closer to 37% if you include the people who have given up looking) and we currently have more people on welfare than paying taxes! Ninety people are employed for every 100 on social welfare. This situation cannot go on for ever. Continue reading

Disgusting behaviour by Hawthorne police

There’s a story getting a lot of attention which I find shocking. Police in Hawthorne, California, while arresting a man shot and killed his dog in the street. You can read the story here and here (The second link contains a video of the incident which could be disturbing for some people). In a nutshell, Leon Rosby was watching the police with the music on his car playing loudly. He refused to turn it down, did not resist arrest but then his dog jumped out the car window to protect him. Supposedly to defend themselves, the police shot and killed it.

Obviously there are a couple of aspects to the story. If a policeman’s life is threatened he should be able to defend himself and that may require deadly force. Rosby should have turned down his radio when instructed. The question then is whether the actions taken were reasonable under the circumstances. I think they were not and constitute excessive use of force. Continue reading