As everybody and his brother has said today, Nelson Mandela was a great man, one of the greatest of the 20th century. I’d like to point out that, unlike many great men, Nelson Mandela was also by almost any measure a good man.
I’ve been too busy elsewhere to blog here much, but did not want to let the story of Ladar Levison and his secure email service Lavabit go unremarked. Edward Snowden isn’t the only good guy who refuses to let an overreaching government dictate terms to him and try to prevent him from telling his tale.
I had planned to wait to post about Edward Snowden, because my feelings about him and what he exposed are too strong at the moment. I don’t want to talk rationally. I want to scream: not at Snowden, but at my own government. Even more, I want to scream at a rather large number of lazy, disinterested, scared, cowardly U.S. citizens who tacitly approved while the government of the United States created an intolerable mass surveillance apparatus and regimen in the (former?) “land of the free”.
According to SpaceREF.com, American investment manager Dennis Tito (who caused a huge kerfluffle at NASA in 2001 when he paid the Russian Federal Space Agency to fly him to the International Space Station as a tourist) has now announced that he will shortly be announcing plans for a trip to Mars in 2018. The press conference is scheduled for next Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 1:00 PM at the National Press Club in Washington D.C.
This sounds so ambitious as to be insane, but Tito has managed to do things in the past that “the experts” thought could not or should not be done. Unfortunately there appear to be no plans to stream the press conference, but I’ll be watching for the accompanying press release and stories.
Washington Post columnist George Will, a politically conservative columnist whom I often agree with about limited government and fiscal responsibility, but often disagree with on human rights issues, today posted a thoughtful and quite pointed op-ed on the use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. He clearly considers it a type of torture. If I had not already come to the same conclusion previously, I think he would have convinced me in this article.
People tend to be generous in the wake of a disaster, whether it be a hurricane (Sandy) or a massacre (Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut). Unfortunately criminals know this, and take advantage of it. Neil Schwartzman, a friend and fellow antispammer, blogged today on CircleID on how to give to charity safely, without feeding the criminals. I’ll have some detailed things to say about the spammers who do this over on the MainSleaze Spam blog later today. Meanwhile, I recommend reading, and heeding, Neil’s post.
After a young man who reportedly had autism spectrum disorder (Asperger’s Syndrome) and a personality disorder shot his mother and a Connecticut school full of five-to-ten year old children, their teachers and their principle, voices are being heard all over demanding stricter gun laws. This is understandable: we prefer easy answers to difficult, complex ones, and guns are the easier target. They would just require banning a few “assault weapons” and we can all feel better. A few people are making the harder, but better, call: we *must* fix this country’s abysmal failure to deal with mental illness.
Just seen on the Telegraph: a story about a woman convicted of a crime for downloading a banned magazine that promotes Islamicist terror. Her story, which the judge believed: she wanted to see what had convinced her brothers (both convicted terrorists) to become terrorists. She was given a short jail sentence, just a month after the time she has spent awaiting trial.
I have a problem with this. Thought crime is NOT crime. Acting on what she read would almost certainly have been criminal, but reading it? I’ve downloaded and read a bunch of terror material, starting with the Turner Diaries and Mein Kampf. I had no interest in becoming a Nazi: quite the contrary. I was merely interested in these documents that convinced people to support Hitler and led to the Holocaust. I wanted to understand what could cause people to do such things.
I guess, in the UK, I’d be looking at a “custodial sentence”, as they call it. :/
Elisabeth and Stephen Alderman lost a son in the terror attacks on 9/11. It’s tempting to call it the worst thing imaginable, but (of course) it isn’t. Their son Peter was by all accounts a wonderful, loving, decent human being who packed more life into his 25 years than most people manage in 75. His parents grieve for him, but are extremely proud of him and have every reason to be so.
Orson Scott Card is one of the best writers alive today. He’s also a devout (if atypical) Mormon who has a conscience formed by his faith. His religious beliefs and mine differ significantly (I’m an Orthodox Christian), but we both read the Bible and –despite having very different theologies — we both believe that Jesus Christ speaks God’s words. Jesus had certain rather strong things to say about punishing children for the sins of their parents, or (for that matter) any innocent person for the sins of the guilty. (He doesn’t approve.) So it shouldn’t surprise me that Card said what I believe about underage illegal immigrants better than I could say it, here: