Archive for the ‘legal’ Category

It was not an April Fool Day news item

Sunday, May 7th, 2006

How to suppress display of the Israeli flag in Israel turned out to have been a serious news item.

According to news item in today’s Yediot Aharonot, the Israeli Ministry of Interior is still planning those imbecile regulations under misguided attempt to promote respect for the Israeli flag. The only change is that they are going to impose a fine rather than one year imprisonment.

There are fascist traits in some of the regulations. It was also mentioned that people are upset by incidents of flag burning by Haredi Jews.

My suggestion:

  1. Subject only government and organizations getting government funds to regulations.
  2. Everyone else is to be free to celebrate Freedom of Expression by burning the Israeli flag.
  3. Remove altogether regulations, which have fascist traits such as standing to attention when the flag is raised, or “proper disposal” of old flags.

One possible dystopian future for Israel

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

A brief letter from the future to the United States outlines a possible future of the USA. Israel is mentioned there as another country, which might share similar future.

As an antidote, visit and support http://www.hofesh.org.il/ (an Hebrew language Web site)!

The grave danger to the deaf from 'kosher' cellphones

Friday, April 21st, 2006

‘Kosher’ phone merges technology, faith describes an alarming development, which may adversely influence the quality of life of deaf persons in certain communities.

Basically, some communities, which practice religion in a strict way (such as some of the Haredi Jews and some Moslem communities), are bothered by the technology of cellphones, which make it easier for young people to form “improper” relationships.

Therefore, those communities would like to have cellphones, which allow only voice conversations - no text messages, no video, no Internet, no camera. Such cellphones have been developed.

However, there is a problem:

Text messages are an essential function of a cellphone, which makes it accessible to deaf persons. Thanks to this function, deaf persons have at last gained the ability to directly contact anyone via phone, without needing special help from sympathetic hearing persons or from relay services. This function is useful only as long as most, or all, cellphones used by the deaf person’s associates have text messaging capability.

Therefore, a community, which bans text messaging, in effect bans an accessibility provision needed by its deaf members.

Even if the religious leaders allow the deaf alone to have cellphones with text message capability, this feature would be useless if the other members of their community are not allowed to use it.

Therefore, a consequence of introduction of kosher cellphones in communities is the re-marginalization of the deaf in those communities. Those deaf persons would again be cut off from their hearing family members, friends and co-workers.

Visualize a community, which has ordinance prohibiting the use of TTYs.

I think that cellphones without text messaging capability should be as illegal as cellphones without ability to dial to the police, emergency medical service (such as Magen David Adom, Red Cross or Red Crescent) or firefighters.

The ideal of democracy is relevant to countries, not to groups

Tuesday, April 11th, 2006

Recently I had a discussion with someone, who bemoaned the loss of the principles of equality and democracy in Wikipedia, after cases of disputes and vandalism. I did not feel easy with the principles which he expounded. While democracy and personal liberty are usually related, there are some cases, in which they conflict. The Nazis came to power in Germany through democratic means. The Palestinians elected Hamas in certifiably democratic elections, as evidenced by the fact that Hamas got much less than 97% of the votes.

I was also involved with a nonprofit, which was formed to pursue certain goals. The nonprofit had a member, who used to troll the nonprofit’s mailing lists, and to advocate goals different from the nonprofit’s goals. Eventually he resigned from membership in the nonprofit, but his actions and claims need to be dealt with on a philosophical basis.

One day, I read A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy and now I can better express the premises behind the apparent loss of equality and democracy in groups of people formed to achieve a certain objective.

In Wikipedia, once upon a time, everyone was equal. Now, some people are more equal than others. My friend was not happy with this state of affairs. Personally I had no problems with this, because opinions, which oppose those of the “equal-more” people in Wikipedia, can be voiced in the wide Internet - only not necessarily in Wikipedia’s own Web pages.

When setting up a regime in a country, it should respect individual freedoms, and be as democratic as possible as long as it does not conflict individual freedoms. However, inside that country (and even across its borders), one of the freedoms is the freedom of association. It is the freedom of people to form a group to achieve a goal desirable by them (as long as it does not violate individual freedoms).

However! Once a group has been formed, if it has more than few tens of people, it needs some sort of government. It needs to be able to keep out people, who are opposed to the goal of the group’s organizers. It needs a mechanism for dispute resolution, to resolve disputes among people who agree about the ends but argue about the appropriate means for attaining those ends. It needs a mechanism for delegating certain tasks and responsibilities from all group’s members to some members, so that other members can concentrate upon other tasks (delegated to them).

All those mechanisms together conspire to discriminate among insiders and outsiders. Those people, who support the group’s goal, are insiders. People, who oppose the group’s goal or are ambivalent about it, are outsiders. All serious groups discriminate among them.

The dispute resolution and delegation mechanisms have the result of stratifying the group. Some people become leaders and make decisions in behalf of the entire group. Then equality among the group’s members gets lost.

BUT! If the group was properly formed, is properly managed, and its members understand the philosophy and the goals - the group achieves its goal. The group’s major purpose was not to practice democracy and equality. The group’s purpose was to achieve the goal, for whose attainment it was formed.

While acting inside the group, the personal freedoms of the group’s members are subordinated to the group’s goal. On the other hand, if they ever feel uncomfortable with the group, they are free to leave it any time (a group, which does not allow its members to leave it, is or should be illegal). Therefore this is not a real loss of freedom.

Broken Windows, Broken Patents

Saturday, March 11th, 2006

This article in the Right To Create blog likens broken patent systems (and I’ll add that by extension - also broken copyright legislation) to broken windows (the fallacy of economic benefit caused by a small boy who throws a stone through the shopkeeper’s window, causing money to be spent by the keeper to pay a glazier to replace the window).

How to suppress display of the Israeli flag in Israel

Wednesday, March 8th, 2006

According to a news item, the government is planning to impose regulations about the proper way to display and handle the Israeli flag, in the name of paying it respect as a national symbol.

The only consequence of those very strict regulations will be that several Israelis will cease displaying the Israeli flag.

There is also the issue of Freedom of Expression, which is celebrated by ceremonially burning one’s country flag.

(Before anyone calls for my arrest:
The ideal ceremony for celebrating Freedom of Expression is to prepare two identical flags. One flag will be displayed proudly, to symbolize pride in one’s country which is free, strong and confident to allow Freedom of Expression; and the other flag will be burned.)

The Talkback Quality Paradox

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

Ever since Web news sites and forums made it possible for the random readers to post talkbacks, I have been noticing the abysmal quality and thought which went into several of the talkbacks.

Given that most of those talkbackists have the right to vote and given that they demonstrated their lack of wisdom, the question is: how do democracies get managed in a more or less reasonable way?

Seems that good democracies have filters between the random opinions at whim and actual action. First of all, you must care enough about your opinion to discuss it with your relatives and friends, trying to win them over to your point of view. Several big mouths seem just not to care about their own utterances.

Then, as you argue with your closest and dearest ones, their objections get you to check and polish your idea. Blatantly silly ideas fall on the side at this time.

Finally, to actually lobby in support of your idea, you need funds. To have funds you need to be successful in business or persuade people, who have been successful in making money. Since it requires rationality in one’s brain to make money in our world, this is yet another filter, which makes it difficult for crackpots to get their agenda across.

We can improve the process further by refusing to elect people to political positions, unless they have proven that they know to bring an idea to fruition, to manage an operation, to explain why their ideas are sound. This is important especially in small non-profit organizations, in which the membership elect the governing bodies. We also should be less serious about people, who did not prove themselves to be doers rather than big-mouths.

The dilemma of using illegally-obtained information

Monday, February 20th, 2006

yozzman discusses in Illegally obtained information the problem and proposes a solution to the problem.

In the first Dirty Harry movie and in real life in Israel, the problem is one of preventing a crime which is happening right now or going to happen soon. In Israel, it is called “the ticking bomb” dilemma. What do you do if you know that a terrorist put a ticking bomb somewhere, which will kill several people when it explodes; or when you know that a suicide bomber is on his way and you must stop him before he explodes bringing several lives down with his own life?

In my opinion, resolution of the dilemma begins with identification of possible ways for authorities to abuse the system and harass innocent civilians. After all, the original motivation for the complicated and convoluted procedures of the court systems all around the world, and to the principle of suppression of illegally-obtained information, is to prevent framing up innocent people, who ran afoul (or otherwise are not conducive to the interests) of people in power.

What human rights should convicted murderers have?

Sunday, February 12th, 2006

The present system, which grants convicted murderers like Yigal Amir some rights, looks to me like broken one. In principle, the proper punishment for murderers (especially those, who deny you your franchise right by voting for you by means of a pistol rather than by ballot) is death. However, in practice they should be sentenced to life term. This is because of the possibility that the convicted person was framed - a possibility which is too real when police forces do not have adequate budgets or professionalism.

This is in contrast to people, who committed less serious crimes and do not deserve to be executed because of those crimes. While they are imprisoned, they are entitled to some rights, which will allow them to return to society in more or less sane frame of mind and become contributing members of society.

What rights should convicted and imprisoned murderers have?

My position is that they should be granted the right to run their own investigations and evidence collection, which can lead to their exoneration. They should have unlimited access to lawyers and to law libraries. They should have access to forensic textbooks and other sources of information. After all, the reason they were kept alive is to allow for the possibility that they were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned. Except for the right to collect evidence of their innocence and appeal their conviction, they should have no rights.

This applies, in principle, even to Yigal Amir. This covers the hypothetical case, in which he was framed AND hypnotized (brainwashed) to believe that Itzhak Rabin had to be murdered.

A Nightmare

Sunday, February 12th, 2006

I had a nightmare, which leads to a puzzle.

In my nightmare, I parked my car in a parking lot and went to carry out my errands. As I returned, a woman came in her car and parked her car in the empty parking space next to my car, got out and started talking in agitated way on her cellphone. She parked her car in such a way that I could not get my car out without rubbing her car and leaving scratches on both cars. So I needed her to come back to the car, and re-park it in a better position.

In my nightmare (as in real life) I am deaf so I had no idea what she was talking about and did not know if it is a real emergency or just extreme Blond inconvenience. I tapped her shoulder and started asking her to re-park her car. She pushed me aside and continued talking into her cellphone. I needed to get out urgently and could not afford to wait 20 minutes until she finishes her personal business. Nevertheless I waited 5 minutes just in case she really has a problem.

As I was pondering what to do now, I woke up.

Now, children, what courses of action were open to me?

  1. Violate her personal space by taking her cellphone from her until she moves her car to let me out.
  2. Be aggressive and scratch both of our cars.
  3. Honk my car’s horn (after having entered it from the right front door).
  4. Visually bother her by flashing or pissing in front of her.
  5. Write down her car’s license plate number and take pictures of her car and her face using my camera-cellphone.
  6. Bottle up my annoyance and take a cab to my destination and try not to feel like schmuck (”frayer”) afterwards.
  7. Look for the parking lot’s guard and lodge a complaint with him.
  8. Start with (5), continue with (3) and then (2).