There are many things that I like (what I will for now call good) and many things that I do not like (what I will for now call bad). And occasionally I decide to comment on one or the other here. I originally planned comment on an item which I found distressing; but before I started writing a couple of other items came to my attention so I am going to sandwich things so that there is what I consider a good-bad-good sandwich. This way I can ease the gentle reader in with something good then deal with the bad and then let them exist with a reflection on something good.
My friend Brad Templeton has a great wit and I find it amusing when he encounters some person or organization which has gotten a bit big for its britches. As you probably know for months various people have been taking a short clip of the scene where Hitler is ranting from the movie Downfall and adding humorous English subtitles. Brad has a long time interest in issues related to free expression and has done great work in that area including serving for many years as Chair of the Board of Directors of the EFF. A while back Brad put together his version with a focus on the issue of take down notices. And then Constantin, the studio which made the movie Downfall issued a take down notice to YouTube concerning the Brad's work. Brad's web page about this is great reading and has links to the work. Take a look and support the EFF.
Now to some thing bad and sad. Iran has experienced earthquakes some leading to great loss of life in the past few years and likely there will be more due to the tectonic faults in Iran. What I would consider a reasonable response to this situation would be to work on improving understanding of earthquakes, to be careful where buildings are built, use best practices for building design and construction and to educate people about how to survive an earthquake and to be prepared. Instead of working to educate people about why earthquakes happen the BBC reports that the acting Friday prayer leader in Tehran Hojjat ol-eslam Kazem Sediqi said "Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes." This represents a confusion at a deep and fundamental level; earthquakes are a natural geological phenomenon. And just so that no one thinks I am picking just on Islam let me remind everyone that when the great Lisbon earthquake hit in 1755 it is reported that many Christians running around claiming that it was due to divine anger. We as human need to realize that geology and the rest of the sciences are the province of science and should not be used to spread some non-scientific message. It is long past time to get rid of superstitions.
And now back to something good. Or at least bittersweet since the person I am going to refer to next was treated very badly in his later years but who even though remembered by few still stands a person who worked for human liberty. That person is Moses Harman. My friend Wendy MacElroy has written a fine summary of the life and work of Moses Harman. Moses Harman is one of those people who deserve to be better known and should be taught it every high school history class. Harman was a champion of the rights of women and an early advocate of an open discussion of birth control, sex and the role of women of society. In the periodical that Harman found one could find discussion of these and other important matters. That he was sentenced to hard labor in prison at the age of 75 for openly publishing these discussion is shocking. I highly recommend the biographical summary that Wendy has written.