Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bill of rights for scientists? No, thanks!

I just read the Scientists and Engineers for America's Bill of Rights for Scientists.

I really did not like the whole issue.

The proposed rights themselves are flawless. But I do not think that these should be special rights for scientists. Most of them should be standard citizen's rights, not tailored rights for an elite.

Here it is:

1. Public policy shall be made using the best available scientific, technical, and engineering knowledge.
2. No government organization shall knowingly distribute false or misleading information.
3. Government funding for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education shall only be used for evidence-based curricula.
4. No one should fear reprisals or intimidation because of the results of his or her research.
5. Scientists, technologists, and engineers conducting research or analysis with public funding shall be free of unreasonable restrictions in discussing and publishing their work, and the results of governmentally-funded research and analysis shall be made open to the public without unreasonable delay.
6. A clear, public, and transparent process shall be used to make decisions about restricting public access to information for reasons of national security. There shall be a process for challenging decisions, and remedial measures to correct mistakes and abuses of the classification system.
7. Employees exposing what they believe to be manipulation of research and analysis for political or ideological reasons shall be protected from intimidation, retribution, or adverse personnel action resulting from the decision to speak out.
8. Appointments to publicly funded advisory committees shall be based on professional and academic qualifications, not political affiliation or ideology.

1: Public policy affects us all, not only scientists and engineers. It must be a right of everybody that policy making is not affected by ideology and is ruled by fact and not by wishful thinking. Americans should know that this is not a Science-only issue.

2: Why should this be a right for scientists and engineers? This is a right of every person and those who act against this right deserve no place in any government.

3: This should be instead a children or student's right. A right to education based on facts, not on misconceptions.

4: Again, why only for scientists? What about journalists? Or bloggers, for that matter?

I won't keep commenting on each right by itself. I think that every single individual should have those basic rights. Not only scientists, but every government employee should have the right to speak about coercion and manipulation at their work caused by other officials or as a explicit government policy, as is needed here in Venezuela.

We need an educated and free society to keep building the future, we need boldness and creativity to beat the problems we face now. This is particularly important in these days when a skilled workforce is needed for further economic growth and social change. This is important, when issues like irrational fear of GMOs and/or creationism plague the policy making and the minds of the citizens of the most wealthy and developed countries on Earth. From another point of view, this is mere self-preservation. After all, if current technological giants stop developing Biotech or teaching evolution, others won't commit the same mistake. Having educated citizens (and not only scientists) is necessary for rationalism and democracy to succeed. Americans now are victims of their extremely dumb policy concerning university costs, forcing students to endure years of expenses and begin their working life in enormous debt, even though a skilled population is retiring and there are not enough personnel to replace them. They have also arrived at plain stupid situations, as debating whether to immunize school girls to prevent cancer, grounded on "moral" reasons. And now, thanks to paranoia and lousy health care, it is not such a good destination to live as it was decades before for skilled foreign people. So, policy making based on almost Libertarian and very conservative viewpoints, but not grounded in reality has contributed to the present day situation.

Is it really only a scientist's problem? I really do not think so, and the people of Sefora should know much better. These inquiry rights should be part of the rights for everybody, claiming them only for ourselves won't change a lot of things and will divorce us from reality.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What are you hiding, Julius Baer?

The Bank Julius Baer has sued Wikileaks in California. Wikileaks is a website that publishes documents leaked by whistblowers of governments and corporations. BJB was successful in shutting down one domain of Wikileaks that was registered in the US, while leaving intact many more. They were also successful in alerting the world that they have many ugly secrets, including harassing people and attracting lots of undoubtedly unwanted attention.

It is funny to see the failure of all the pathetic efforts to hide and censor. It is great to see how many of the corporate people are still living in the 20th century and acting in that way, only to have it backfire through their lack of vision and intelligence. Hopefully, they will give us more moments of pleasure and joy in the future before they finally understand this strategy does not work in this era and will never work again. And hopefully, once they understand that, we will have new tools and tactics to fight secrecy, oppression, ignorance and injustice.

This is the Technoliberation age, folks.
We are not the Lernaean Hydra, no. We have even more heads, we are more resilient. Coercion and censorship are not the way to deal with modern transparency.
Money laundering and tax evasion cause hurt to a lot of people and deserve to be punished. The Swiss are smart enough to thrive in a world where corrupt bastards no longer store their money in Swiss banks. Maybe the ones who are scared are just the ones who are not creative or smart enough to make a living off intellectual effort and hard labor, rather than just hiding other people's money from the legitimate owners, as many times is the case.

Thank you very much, gentlemen of the BJB. Now, thanks to you, a lot more people know about your practices and about the things you are trying to hide.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Isn't Islam a religion of peace?

That is the claim of a lot of Muslims.
Others just try to silence dissent, claim "Blasphemy" and threaten people who depicts images of the prophet. Others do the latter while claiming that Islam is peaceful. And many of them want to keep us quiet. No. What is going to happen is that we are going to post even more of this type of image and we are going to use our creativity to make fun of you and of your beliefs. I am sorry if moderate Muslims are offended by it, but we are are offended by all the oppression that non-Muslim, women and many people endures under Muslim fundamentalists. And few people seems to care in the Muslim world. If you really care about Islam's image problem, then help to fight that kind of people and make noise when they hurt innocent people.

Misquoting Depeche Mode:

I do want to start fucking
blasphemous rumors
and I don't think that God
has any sense of humor

And if I die
I expect to find
damn nothing

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