The Samovar


What should I write next?

I haven’t written much on this blog for a long time, and I have five planned entries to write so I’m soliciting opinions about which people would prefer to read. Let me know what you think if you have any preferences. In rough order of which I think would be more interesting or more likely to complete:

  1. Nobody believes in God. In which I will argue that hardly any people who identify as religious behave in a way that is consistent with their really believing in God.
  2. Democracy. In which I will describe two somewhat uncommon (but by no means wholly original) views I have about what democracy means: democracy as a word without a fixed meaning but with Wittgensteinian ‘family resemblances’; democracy as a historical phenomenon designed to exclude tyranny rather than as a way to guarantee good or representative government.
  3.  Arationality and Honesty. In which I’ll talk about what it means to be rational, put forward the hypothesis that it’s impossible to be completely rational, relate this to the epistemological theory of pragmatism, then turn to ethics and the idea of coming to terms with our own inconsistency, and taking responsibility for your actions rather than trying to act according to a moral code, and finally talk about propaganda, cognitive dissonance and this alternative ethical theory.
  4. Capitalism. My eight reasons/meta-reasons for being opposed to capitalism.
  5. Religion and Politics. I’ve had this sitting in my WordPress drafts folder for over a year now so it’s fairly unlikely I’ll ever actually finish it. In it I’ll talk about terrorism, Islam, authority, hierarchy, democracy, politics and the possibility of irresolvable differences of opinion, and finally a suggestion that politics is much more important to talk about than religion.

Alternatively, if you have any suggestions for what I ought to write about instead – let me know…

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Double standards
October 6, 2007, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , , , , , ,

The BBC reports:

Schoolchildren in the US state of Ohio were left bemused after images of nude women were shown in a politician’s lecture on the legislative process.

State representative Matthew Barrett was giving a computerised presentation at Norwalk High School when the images flashed up on the screen.

He said he had no idea where the images came from, adding that he took them down after a few seconds.

Mr Barrett was “embarrassed and apologetic”, police said.

“I believe this was an unfortunate and unintended incident,” Superintendent Wayne Babcanec told local media.

All fairly innocent no doubt. Maybe the guy had been downloading this porn and saving it on his USB stick, maybe not, who really cares? So far, so meh. But, compare with the case of Julie Amero:

On October 19, 2004 Julie Amero was substituting for a seventh-grade language class at Kelly Middle School in Norwich, Connecticut. The teacher’s computer was accessed by pupils while the regular teacher, Matthew Napp, was out of the room. When Julie took charge, the computer started showing pornographic images.

On January 5, 2007 Amero was convicted in Norwich Superior Court on four counts of risk of injury to a minor, or impairing the morals of a child. Her sentencing was delayed four times after her conviction, with both the prosecution and judge not satisfied that all aspects of the case had been assessed.[1] The felony charges for which she was originally convicted carry a maximum prison sentence of 40 years.

A detailed look at the facts of the case strongly suggest – as does common sense – that it is much less likely that Amero was intentionally downloading porn than Barrett. But, whereas in the case of Barrett police said “I believe this was an unfortunate and unintended incident”, Amero has been going through the courts for three years, trying to save herself from a possible 40 years in jail.

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