27 May 2011 - 16:06Open thread for arguing about the iPad
Have at it people!
This is John A. Smolin's blog, serving as a spot for his miscellaneous ramblings.
Have at it people!
I saw this VW Bug parked at Mr.Bones BBQ in Bradenton, Florida. The vanity plate is just so wonderfully subversive. Apparently Florida allows you to get special “choose life” plates. I thought this incongruous with the car and other stickers until I read the plate itself. Perfect.
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Here’s hoping everyone has a great new year! And hey, if you’re this woman, say “hello” in the comments! Exclamation points for everyone!
I’m back from India, where I was for QIP2008. (click on the picture to see the full width until I figure out a wordpress setup that is wider)
Aram Harrow had a good bad idea when we were discussing the preference for boy children and the abortion of girls. We had just seen a sign advertising ultrasound imaging, and someone said they thought that had been made illegal in order to prevent such sex-based abortions. This doesn’t make much sense as the procedure is important for many other diagnostic reasons and I don’t think it’s true, based on a quick googling. Though it may be illegal for the doctor to tell you the sex of the fetus, something which is true in Korea anyway, coincidentally coming up in a New York Times article just today on how things are starting to balance out there.
Aram’s idea is to adapt technology used to blur out the naughty bits in airport screening X-rays which can see though your clothes to prenatal ultrasounds. Silly as it sounds, it might actually be a good idea. Though I doubt this could work–any blurring of the image would risk missing important diagnostic information. Of course, it is claimed that the airport security screeners won’t miss any concealed weapons compared to the unblurred images. This also seems unlikely. A penis shaped gun doesn’t seem like much of a stretch.
The confirmation of Michael Mukasey as attorney general gave me an idea. I propose that waterboarding be used as a regular part of the senate confirmation process. Mukasey hardly answered any questions and waterboarding should remedy this situation in the future. Surely if it’s important to get information out of people who may be plotting to take over or destroy our country, it is just as important to get it out of those who
already have are plotting to run it.
… and no parent is to know his own child, nor any child his parent. — Plato, 360 B.C.
Ok, when someone pointed out this idea of mine goes back 2400 years to Plato I felt a bit late to the party, but in good company. I had the thought when I had heard one too many times the “conservative” (feel the air quotes) idea that everyone stars off equal and the best rise to the top, while the same people push for elimination of the inheritance tax (the so-call “death tax”).
Obviously in our society (and probably all societies) children born into rich families have a huge leg up on those that aren’t. The true conservative ideal would be for everyone to start out really equal–i.e. a 100% inheritance tax. Thinking further, I had the idea of random reassignment of babies. All babies born in a certain period are simply given to other parents who also had babies during the same period. This has several good effects, to which no conservative should object, and which are universally appealing liberal values:
First, it serves to remove the inherent inequity of the correlation between genetics and inherited wealth. Secondly, it will reduce racist tendencies–any parent can end up with children of any race. Finally, imagine parents who for whatever reason are more interested in the well-being of their genetic offspring than of the children they are charged with raising. Since they cannot find their biological children, all they can do to improve their lot is to promote the general welfare, making sure there are things like good public education and health care.
A modification of this plan could also include parents unable to have children. The randomization also in effect isolating the chance of not having children from the biological inability to produce them. And unwanted children can be placed into the pool as well, automatically taking care of adoption.
I have found, despite the Platonic pedigree of this idea, that it is unpopular among those with children, and that it is quite unwise to try to discuss it with expectant mothers. But then, I am perhaps not wise.