Skepchick Quickies, 4.14


Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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  1. “EU names internet access a ‘basic human right’.”

    The government cutting people off from the internet is repressive, but this statement is absurd.

    If you don’t pay your ISP bill and internet connection is cut off, who exactly is stomping on your rights?

  2. Well, I for one am glad to see someone finally standing up for the rights of every individual for access to the basic necessities of life; food, water, shelter, clothing, access to standardized health care, and free porn.

  3. That UPS thing was cool, when ever I have choice in the future I’ll choose them, but I don’t think it is exactly practical for everyone else, unless they start making GPS’s with an option that does something similar.

  4. Drivers for UPS use a route-cutting technology that minimizes left turns. Last year that enabled the company to save 3 million gallons of gas and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32,000 metric tons—the equivalent of taking 5,300 passenger cars off the road for a year.

    See, in New Jersey, as Rebecca no doubt remembers, we/they have “jughandles.” No left turns required, even when turning left!

  5. @TheCzech
    I guess that is more like: nobody has the right to take it away from you for any other reason than not paying your bill.

    In Germany, for example, nobody is allowed to take away your TV (even if you didn’t pay your bills for months) because nobody is allowed to cut you off of access to basic information. I guess this direction is meant much in the same way. (Still, in Germany your PC can be taken away.)

  6. it’s certainly Monday morning

    I think a Monday work day that starts at noon should be a basic human right, too.

    I think that access to global information helps inform oppressed populations, and may accelerate the process of opening closed societies. That said, I feel like we should worry first about making sure everyone has food, shelter and clean water.

    Then again, ubiquitous Internet access probably helps with identifying areas where basic needs aren’t being met, and targeting relief to those people. Maybe we need to get everyone set up with wireless brain-meat web surfing, and let the global hive-mind take care of everyone.

  7. “In Germany, for example, nobody is allowed to take away your TV (even if you didn’t pay your bills for months) because nobody is allowed to cut you off of access to basic information. I guess this direction is meant much in the same way. (Still, in Germany your PC can be taken away.)”

    So TV is now a basic human right too? Nice.

    Funny how we seem to discover “basic human rights” at such a rapid pace these days…and how so many of them seem to require other people to provide goods and services to us for free.

  8. “It’s not too much different from calling electricity and running water basic human rights, except that internet is still a new technology.”

    You’re right. It’s no different at all. It’s total nonsense in all those cases.

    So if I don’t pay the electricity bill or the water bill and my service is cut off, my basic human rights have been violated? At its essence, that is the equivalent of saying that we are all owed free electricity and free water.

  9. I’m with TheCzech on this one – why should I pay for something that’s a ‘basic human right’? I don’t pay for my life or my liberty. Though I do pay for my pursuit of happiness (sometimes).

    Actually what really annoys me about this is how the fat-cat, over-paid and under-worked politicians at the EU can get away with these types of directives when millions *still* don’t have even access to clean water.

    How about we fix that shit first before we start worrying about Internet access.

    I say we put Nojoud Muhammed Nasser in charge. She seems to know how to get stuff done.

  10. So wait… you agree that running water and internet access are equivalent, but you think we should worry about getting people water, not internet? Did I miss something here?

  11. “I say we put Nojoud Muhammed Nasser in charge. She seems to know how to get stuff done.”

    I admit that I am a little confused over what position you are taking, NoAstronomer, but these two stories do make for an interesting juxtaposition don’t they? Shit like that is going on in the world, and people are pontificating on their “basic human right” to a goddamn internet connection.

    I bet even 8-year-old Najoud would be saying “What the fuck?!” about now.

  12. That “no left turns” stretegy might save driving time, but it isn’t going to make a difference for fuel consumption in a Hybrid vehicle. (Hybrids don’t idle; they let the engine turn off completely.)

  13. OK, before we get all silly here … ;)

    I think we’re saying the same thing from different angles, which is that there ought to be some intelligent way of prioritizing “basic human rights”, so that we don’t end up with African villages with DSL but no drinking water. (What, you don’t think that would actually happen? If you give a loony a grant …)

    I don’t think that TV is a basic human right. I don’t have television (i.e. I have a TV but no cable and no accessible channels, so it’s only usable for videos), and I don’t feel particularly deprived. It seems to me like a functional definition of “basic human right” might be in order. “Things we have gotten used to and can’t imagine living without” isn’t a very good one, since it’s a moving target and it has quite a lot to do with whether or not the speaker lives in an industrialized nation or not.

    Is there a standard definition out there, does anyone know? The UN, the EU, the Red Cross, has anybody like that come up with something that is generally accepted, or is it just whatever the politician of the moment says it is?

  14. The stumbling point, I think is the distinction between a human right and an essential service.

    Human rights are simple; life, liberty, dignity, security, access to employment, and so forth.

    Things like heat, electricity, running water, aren’t human rights. They’re essential services.

    Here in Canada, there are regulations against shutting off someone’s heat for not paying their bill in the winter for one simple reason; it’s cold up here, and people will freeze to death. But once spring comes, you can shut them down, and not hook them back up again until they pay. Heat is an essential service. So is electricity, running water, and the telephone service. But it’s not a human right. There are regulations and laws in place to define exactly when they can be disconnected, but you can’t disconnect them for frivolous reasons.

    Internet is quickly becoming an essential service. People use Internet, in many cases, as a complete replacement for phone and television services. So maybe there should be regulations in place to define if and when someone can be disconnected. If someone is bedridden, and the only means of communication they have with relatives on the other side of the country is e-mail, then turning off their Internet for something frivolous like downloading copyrighted materials is a dirty rotten thing to do.

    But I wouldn’t call it a human right.

    Unless you mean something like connecting people to the Internet as a community. If you disconnect or restrict an entire community or country, like what went on in Burma last year, then you could argue that that’s a violation of human rights. But providing the service to an individual is not.

    Somebody probably said human right when they meant to say something like essential service. You make that correction, and the whole thing makes a bit more sense.

  15. Actually,

    As someone unfortunate enough to have not been able to afford a car, while in college, I’d like to state that left turns are responsible for 75% of all motor-cycle fatalities.

    Three quarters of us, that die, die turning left.

    Even now, (after 300K miles on bikes), that I have a car, I avoid left turns. It’s a good habit. They’re simply dangerous during “rush hour” and usually completely unnecessary.

    (Before you “macho” types start jumping on me, I’ve had Five accidents and I’m still walking on the mutha Fukin’ concrete, K?)

    The rule is simple, plan your trip around right turns.

    You’ll get were you’re going safer and less frazzled, even if you’re lucky enough to be in a car. Lefts are to be taken only when you have no choice.

    It should be noted that our English brothers (and sisters) have eliminated their equivalent to the left turn (i.e. the right turn) with there wonderful “roundabouts”.

    You can see one in action, here in Long Beach, at the “PCH five points”. They work pretty good.

    You miss your street? You just go around again. You catch it eventually.

    I guess I’m saying, even in a car, it’s good to avoid lefts.


  16. “The stumbling point, I think is the distinction between a human right and an essential service.”

    Try as I might, I can’t find anything wrong with this. Damn, that’s no fun.

  17. Resolving things in a way that leaves everyone happy with the outcome? That goes against everything I stand for! Ok, my new stance is that Pac-Man is a basic human right, and every home in the world should be outfitted with an arcade machine at government expense.

  18. Resolving things in a way that leaves everyone happy with the outcome? That goes against everything I stand for! Ok, my new stance is that Pac-Man is a basic human right, and every home in the world should be outfitted with an arcade machine at government expense.

    What total sexist arrogance! Why not MS. Pacman, huh? Some people … *stomps away muttering to self*

  19. Because Ms.Pac-Man is the exact same game with a bow tied on it. in a feeble attempt to attract females to video games. The whole thing is a sexist, mysoginistic gambit to try to take money from women.

  20. Right, it moves, so if it’s in a hard-to-get place, you don’t have to be good at the game. They didn’t think girls could possibly play video games at the same level as boys.

  21. Resolving things in a way that leaves everyone happy with the outcome?

    Sorry man. Next time I have a revelation, I’ll just keep it to myself.

    And besides, Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man are completely different games. For one thing, the mazes are completely different, and Ms. Pac-Man even has a female ghost.

  22. “They didn’t think girls could possibly play video games at the same level as boys.”

    Actually Ms. Pacman is noticably faster and more challenging than the original.

    I remember this because my sister would spend countless hours locked away in her room, music blaring, playing Ms. Pacman on her Atari. To this day I can’t see a Pacman or Ms. Pacman machine without instantly getting a Teena Marie song stuck in my head.

    I’m talkin square biz to ya baby. Square, Square Biz.

  23. Pfft, beyond the first few levels, it doesn’t matterwhich one starts faster… It’s not like anyone actually fails to clear four five levels with their first guy, right?

    Anyone with a modicum of gaming experience or a passable memory will swiftly realize that the ghost movement is predetermined anyway, so once you memorize the correct pattern of turns and the timing of the pauses, adjusted for the relative speed of the ghosts and the fact that if you change your move, the ghosts change theirs, you’re pretty well unstoppable.

  24. Actually, we should probably explore the philosophical implications of declaring either Pacman game to be a basic human right, since the game requires the character to move through its environment in a systematic and merciless attempt to strip it of every possible resource, leaving behind a denuded skeleton of the original ecosystem.

    And while we’re engaged in serious debate here, would someone please explain to me why it’s Ms. Pacman instead of simply Pacwoman? Why does she have to take his name? The “Ms.” is a nice little nod toward her option of whether or not to define herself by her marital status, and of course she could be his sister, but I don’t know …

  25. If you strip the environment in a game, you have a valuable outlet to the natural instinct to take, and are less likely to feel the need to do it in real life.

    Also, I think “Ms. Pac-Man” was really the same guy. I mean, they look EXACTLY the same except for the bow, right? Pac just went tranny, and didn’t change his name about it.

  26. Wow. From internet access to tranny Pac-Man. You guys are awesome.

    We aim to please. ;)

    And Rystefn, gods, you’re right! It IS Pacman with a bow. Is s/he really just going to get the environmental rape out of his/her system, do you think, or will it inspire him/her to go-thou-and-do-likewise in the Real World? Because, you know, I’ve TOTALLY seen computer geeks go through the grocery store like that at 1 a.m. on food runs. I can’t help but think they’re taking their gaming experiences and overlaying them on the real world, which might explain why I don’t like riding in cars with them …

  27. This, of course, leads to the question of whether Pacman is an actual transexual or just a transvestite. I’m not even really sure I want to contemplate how we c0uld research this.

  28. Well… Pac never wears clothes (except the bow)…. If you really want to know, just zoom in… enhance… zoom in.. enhance…

    Mountain Dew is, I think, an essential service. You should have to pay for it if you want it, but it should be a crime to cut you off for nonpayment in the middle of an all-night gaming session.

    Also, those 1am grocery runs aren’t stripping the land so much as harvest season, when you take into account how rarely said geeks actually leave their homes.

  29. Yeah, I kind of wondered about the transsexual/transvestite thing. If s/he is androgynous to begin with it might be a moot point, but without further testing I am hesitant to speculate. The presence or absence of pellets would certainly be a good indicator.

    I agree about Mountain Dew being classified as an essential service, with your additional clause regarding the all-night gaming session. Would this apply to Code Red as well, or is that considered a luxury item? It does seem that at some point, a discussion of chips (“crisps” for our friends across the sea) as a essential or luxury item would be in order. The food group as a whole should probably be considered an essential service, but there is so much variety within the “chip-type food-like item” category that it’s difficult to see how that could be regulated.

    I will also concede your point regarding harvest season and the rarity of actually sighting a gaming geek outside of its natural habitat. I am convinced that without the existence of female geeks, the subspecies would die out in the late 2070’s. In my experience with this group, procreation with non-gaming geek females is the exception to the rule.

  30. Mountain Dew: The only substance on Earth that can be declared an essential service, whilst simultaneously being banned by the Geneva Convention as cruel and unusual punishment. Truly a marvel of contradictions.

  31. Code Red is a travesty (interestingly, my little brother invented a virtually identical product ten years before its release by mixing fountain sodas in the style of a “suicide”). In fact, most variation of the Dew are just cheap bastardizations (orange is ok, but that might just be because of my inordinate fondness for orange soda).

    As for chips and related snack items, most are luxuries, but Funions and pretzels are essential services, and all things Frito are basic human rights. Yes, I am aware that PepsiCo is the evil empire, but they make uch wonderful prducts, I give them my money anyway. Such is life, no?

  32. You know, I’m just assuming here that everybody in the whole world has access to Coca-Cola and Cheetos, including people living in rural China, the heart of the middle East, and recently discovered South American jungle tribes. Cheetos are a human right, aren’t they? Because if they aren’t, something is truly wrong with the world.

    And *snicker* at Mountain Dew and the Geneva Convention. My inability to drink more than a swallow of vodka-free Mountain Dew is one of the primary reasons I can still declare myself not to be a complete geek. (And yes, I know what that drink is called.) (And yes, I think it’s a waste of good vodka.)

  33. I think it’s caffeinated in the states, but up here it’s not. Which just means one less reason to willingly subject oneself to it.

    I used to drink it occasionally in my teens and early 20s, but I haven’t had any in close to 10 or 12 years. About the same time, there were reports of kids younger than me drinking way too much of the stuff, and rotting their teeth out. One of my coworkers actually referred to it as “sugar piss”.

    I pretty much left it behind in my childhood shortly after that.

  34. Running water, heat, electricity, phone and cable TV, high speed Internet access in all but the most remote rural areas, paved roads, Pac-man for those who want it, even Cheetos. but no caffeine in Mountain Dew.

    We have to get our fix the old school way; from coffee, tea, and cola, and occasionally, in emergency situations only, Red Bull.

    But we have Tim Hortons, so I figure that makes us even.

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