Results of the 2009 elections in Germany

The federal elections in Germany held past sunday have seen some provisionally official results published. The result is, as was expected by many, a sufficient victory for the liberal FDP to allow a coalition with the conservatives of the CDU/CSU, especially after the major collapse of the votes for the social-democratic SPD, which suffered its worst result since 1953. This is not surprising, since the SPD campaign led by Frank-Walter Steinmeier was possibly the first in which the social-democrats no longer even bothered talking about improving the welfare of the workers, but instead focused on sniping away at the ruling party, implying that the task of running liberal capitalism should be left to them instead.

The German voters rejected this out of hand. Continue reading “Results of the 2009 elections in Germany”

Orthodoxy Prevails in Academia

Notre Dame University has announced the closure of their long-standing department of “economics and policy studies”, to which it had condemned heterodox economists after splitting the formerly mixed Economics department in two. The university was so frightened of the pervasive discussions about ideology and methodology in this supposed social science that instead of fostering an atmosphere of debate, it wanted to separate the orthodox and the unorthodox as much as possible. Of course it has now used the situation as an occasion to get rid of the unorthodox entirely, as reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education. (1) Continue reading “Orthodoxy Prevails in Academia”

The Prodigal Son Returns to Honduras?

The press agency Reuters has reported that Zelaya, the President of Honduras who was deposed by a rightist military coup, has finally returned to his home country.(1) This has not wholly been confirmed, but we may assume it true. Zelaya was deposed by the army with the connivance of the Supreme Court of Honduras and the ruling majority of its Congress after the latter accused him of attempting to change the country’s Constitution to allow multiple terms for the Presidency. The Constitution itself, bizarrely, forbids such attempts at altering it. Perhaps this was initially conceived as a democratic measure to prevent the caudillo style of ‘strong man’ government prevalent in the weak countries of Latin America, but the real effect has been precisely the opposite. A Constitution that does not permit its own alteration is not a democratic framework, but a chain that fetters the people, and is equally hateful to progress as is living by a covenant with God. In creating this clause, which is founded in the country’s 1982 Constitution following, its framers irrevokably planted a seed that could not but bloom into a political crisis at some later point.

That is not to say that Zelaya’s actions are themselves to be encouraged. Continue reading “The Prodigal Son Returns to Honduras?”

The Case of Caster Semenya

Recently some controversy has erupted around the person of Caster Semenya, a very succesful athlete from South Africa who has broken world records and was poised to compete in the 800 meter finals in Berlin when doubts were raised about her sex, and thereby her eligibility to compete in the female olympics. There are conflicting and uncertain sources as to the results of the subsequent tests for sex, but it looks like there may be a case of hermaphroditism or pseudo-hermaphroditism involved. In this case, the person has high testosterone levels and a Y chromosome, yet has developed as a woman, possibly due to insensitivity to testosterone in the phase of physical development.(1) This would make her a ‘genetic male’, yet for all social purposes a female (female-gendered), for which the term ‘intersexed’ could be used (but need not necessarily).

Of course, there is some argument about her eligibility, not in the last place because of her excellent performance so far – she won the gold medal in the aforementioned Berlin race. Continue reading “The Case of Caster Semenya”

Alan Turing Vindicated

The British government led by Prime Minister Brown has today apologized for the murderous treatment of the famous gay computer scientist Alan Turing, following a petitition by a number of well-known British public figures, among whom Sir Ian McKellen and Richard Dawkins. Not only has it indicated regret for the events, but it has in no uncertain terms rejected the attitude underlying the persecution of Turing as well.

This is an important fact, since the British government had maintained anti-homosexual laws on the books until 2003 (2000 in Scotland). Similarly, in the United States a significant number of states banned homosexual sex, until the Supreme Court of the United States voided these laws in the decision Lawrence vs. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003). Just very recently, even the High Court in Delhi has voided the colonial-era Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which prohibited “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”. Even nations such as China and Singapore are becoming more lax on this topic. Continue reading “Alan Turing Vindicated”