Friday, January 1, 2010

Oxford 1

So this is the end of day three for Oxford 2010. Thus far I have been to London, gone grocery shopping (3 times), fought with a boiler, forced out of the shower by a fire alarm, and offended the Taxi guild in these parts. Overall? Pretty productive by my standards.

To begin, the boiler in our apartment has been kinky (not in a good way) since we arrived. The first day the shower was scalding hot. The second day the hot water was gone. The third day it was scalding hot again. Matt managed to pry the apparently stuck knob and has fixed the shower, he reports. It should be noted that I had posted on Facebook just minutes before that I would sell my soul for a decent shower so it may already have a taker. Faster than my best eBay auction. I should have asked for more. One of the OSAP guys talked us through fixing the boiler from our own tampering (the washer still won't work).

As for the Taxi guild. This was our first mistake in England. We approached the third taxi in a row and asked for a ride. Why? Because the first taxi was empty and the second had a guy leaning halfway through the window talking to some man. Turns out that man was another taxi driver from car 1. The third guy, instead of being greedy and fearing the wrath of the taxi guild, asked us, "what's the matter with that taxi?" To which I replied, "He's talking to some guy." To which he replied, "He's a taxi driver too!" To which I replied, "Oh."

London is worth a separate post. Since I did it today I should wait for it to ferment in my head. That way I can obscure the facts and blame it on memory.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Health Pandemics and Dissent

In light of the hell breaking loose on Mexican soil over the last few
days I thought I'd pose a question that occurred to me while listening
to the BBC in my car, "Could fear of a possible pandemic give a
government sufficient weight to stamp out dissent?" It seems highly
probable and I'm curious to find out if it has been tried in the past.
After all, an unpopular regime, especially one with some kind of germ
theory, could announce a new disease and then prohibit groups of 4 or
more. For those conspiracy nuts out there, I'm not accusing the
Mexican government of doing this, but I recognize the potential. Fear
is a prime motivator to sacrifice your rights, after all you can
always try and get back your rights, right?

Fwd: Column about US torture policy

An early edition of my dad's weekly column: 

Veterans News and Views


Justifying the Means


Jack Dragoni


In the discussions about the use of "harsh techniques"/torture by US interrogators, former Vice President Cheney and others have claimed that the use of these methods did result in the US gaining valuable information from terror suspects. That defense is, in effect, saying that the ends justify the means. The question this raises is whether we want a government that will utilize any methods to accomplish its goals? Further, what levels of government should we allow to do this and under what justification?


Should the police be allowed to use these methods on suspected violent criminals to extract confessions? After all, if these suspects are guilty, putting them in prison is in the public interest. Remember also that we prosecuted Japanese for war crimes after WW II for using waterboarding on US POWs.


The reply to this point is often that the terror suspects are not American citizens and their rights are not protected. Really? In other words, the statements that governments do not bestow rights and that rights are granted by the Creator are not true? Or is it that US government officials are permitted to refuse to honor rights granted by God? It also does not matter if members of congress were informed of government actions that restrict rights. If government actions are in violation of the US Constitution, congress cannot authorize a change in the US Constitution to legalize them. This must be done by amendment.


The individual rights we proclaim and celebrate make it more difficult to guarantee protection from all threats. That is the reason that some governments have limited those rights for the "greater good"/ national security. Fascist and communist governments have long allowed no limitations of searches and have denied legal representation and legal due process, prohibited the ownership of weapons, prohibited dissent, and restricted religious activities all in the name of national security. Are we to believe that justification is acceptable? What individual rights are protected from government restriction?


This is a serious issue that rises above partisan politics, and it deserves to be debated. Those who make the discussions about this a partisan issue ignore the fact that it is a legitimate constitutional question.