Thursday, May 26, 2005

"Potty Parity" or, "How People Pick and Choose Equality"

Moronic "potty party" laws have been around for awhile, the latest in New York City: Story in New York Daily News.

Basically, it goes something like this: Women tend to visit restrooms in packs, plus they take longer than men. Therefore, the answer to this problem is not to tell them to go one at a time or hurry up, but to give them twice the number of toilets as men (this is on top of things like locks on all the stalls, while men often get the equivalent of a trought to go in).

Call me crazy, but I'm of the opinion that you can't pick and choose equality. A more fair solution would be to make all of the bathrooms unisex with locks on the stalls -- remember the cry "separate but equal is not equal" -- or have equal-sized men's and women's bathrooms plus a unisex one for whomever wants to use it (this would also solve to problem of which bathroom transexuals and transvestites use).

Frankly, the unisex version would be fairer. For those that worry about privacy -- well, men would probably be pretty proactive if they found a camera peeping at them, up to broken equipment if not broken bones. The difference in safety would be minimal, since as it is those with a screw loose can hide in the women's restroom anyway (and if attacked in a unisex restroom, there's always the chance some burly trucker is going to come through the door to pummel the assailaint).

I think the thing that bothers me most about such proposals is the whole "We want equality here, here, and here, but since we are women we should still keep the privileges here, here, and here" idea. If you are going to make the whole claim of biological necessity, well, men on average die several years earlier than women, but I don't see groups rushing to double the funding for male medical problems to rectify that particular issue.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Smallpox-infected blankets, and other blather on Slashdot

A person on Slashdot made that unsubstatiated argument that the U.S. passed out smallpox-infected blankets to native Americans. Here is my response:

I won't comment on your other blather, but the United States did not pass out smallpox infected blankets. Lord Jeffrey Amherst, commanding general of British forces in North America during the French & Indian war, may have. It is also reported that the British fort commander in Quebec -- you know, that place in Canada -- tried to infect the American Revolutionary army after the capture of Montreal.

In fact, George Washington himself developed a severe case of smallpox when he was 19, which probably led to his decision to have the American Army be the first to try wholesale vaccination against the disease. It was definitely not something he would want used as a weapon of war.

Of course, diseases like smallpox and cholera did pass from the colonists to the native Americans, but I have yet to see a single credible story that the United States deliberately infected the natives with the disease.

BTW, as an interesting side fact, did you know that Asians (Crimean Tatars) deliberately spread bubonic plague to Europeans by catapulting dead bodies over the wall of Kaffa, leading to the death of perhaps a third of the population in the "Black Death"? IIRC, the Tatars were Muslim, which means that in the clash of civilizations, Islam isn't always the innocent victim of Christianity

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A question on capital punishment

This question has bothered me for awhile (most recently in the "Nazi scientists [brought] to the US" thread) since I'm apparently missing some argument that some people apparently feel is compelling: Why is it considered less morally objectionable to execute someone who is intelligent than it is to execute a moron?

Comparing retarded adults to children is flawed because children can grow up and contribute something to society. Intelligent people can also (theoretically at least) pay part of their debt to society as well. If there is a death penalty anyway, shouldn't there be some calculation like (potential contribution to society) - (potential threat to society) > 0 or something?

/Something is wrong when people try to feign stupidity or craziness to lessen their punishment. Let them pretend to be smart and coherent instead.