Global Quickies: 07/12/13

This week’s links come with a little bit of everything. Check them out!

A German newspaper reports the case of an atheist coma patient who was given the “extreme unction” by a priest, and, upon recovery and finding out about this, sued the hospital for disrespecting his freedom of conscience. The Supreme Court agreed with him and a lower court will now decide if he’ll get the 21,000 euro he’s asking for compensation for “immaterial damages”.

ISRAEL (From criticaldragon1177)
Commenting on a bill in parliament that seeks to extend civil partnerships to same-sex couples, president Shimon Peres publicly backed marriage rights for same-sex couples.

An Iraqi refugee is fighting for basic rights for secular humanists around the world.

The oldest hominid DNA found to date raises intriguing questions about hominid populations. The mitochondrial DNA from the 400,000 year-old bones is, contrary to what was expected, closer to Denisovians than to Neanderthals, from which they separated 700,000 years ago.

AUSTRALIA (From Psyche)
The Lower House of New South Wales voted in favor of Zoe’s Law, which gives personhood to fetuses over 20 weeks. The name Zoe’s Law comes from a case where a 8-month-pregnant woman was hit by a car and lost the baby, but the driver could not be charged with murder. People in favor of this law say it does not interfere with reproductive rights of women, yet there are concerns that the law does not ensure the protection of those rights. (Background info here).

In the state of Rio Grande do Sul, victims of domestic violence have a patrol squad dedicated exclusively to protecting them. The Patrulha Maria da Penha responds to emergencies, informs women of their rights and the support networks available.

AUSTRALIA (From Jack99)
The 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is out and lots of countries are lamenting the state of their education. In this article, Australians are not too happy with their results on math and reading skills. The article includes an interactive map where you can see how your country ranked.

Featrued image from MSF FILMS/Javier Trueba at Museo de la Evolución Humana


Born and raised in Mexico City, Daniela has finally decided to abdicate her post as an armchair skeptic and start doing some skeptical activism. She is currently living in Spain after having lived in the US, Brazil and Italy. You can also find her blogging in Spanish at

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  1. I’ve come up with a highly accurate generalization: Any law named after a person is a bad law.
    These laws use an emotive response to a particular tragedy to enact some measure which allegedly would have prevented that tragedy had it been in place earlier. No thought is given to whether the costs of the law are commensurate with the benefit, and often the benefit is illusary anyhow. They’re driven by distraught relatives trying to get some ‘meaning’ out of the tragedy, plus politicians who want to be seen to be doing something.

    1. Nerdiness requires me to mention Boyle’s Law, Newton’s Laws, Kepler’s Laws, and Godwin’s Law. (Moore’s Law, on the other hand, I have some doubts about.)

      I think we should create Filias’s Law: “Any law named after an innocent victim is a bad law.”

      There’s an old legal adage “hard cases make bad law”. In this case, it certainly seems to demolish logic and reason. The pregnant women, who says she is pro-choice, is supporting it strongly, and the sponsor said ‘[It] is only contentious if you agree with those who are arguing against the bill.’ WTF?

      P.S. That was weird! I decided to check the various laws I cited above to avoid embarrassing spelling and memory errors (that’s Skitt’s Law, I think), and the first link (after Wikipedia) for Moore’s Law was this Fox News article from yesterday about a possible failure of it. Being Fox News, I didn’t trust it much, but it turned out they had just plagiarized the 1st 5 paragraphs of a 2-week-old Wall Street Journal article.

      Talk about a Pyrrhic victory, being right about something but the proof is Fox News :-(

      1. About 6 years ago or so, British Columbia passed ‘Grant’s Law’ named for Grant DePattie, an 18yo who was dragged to death trying to stop a gas-and-go at the gas station where he worked. The law requires all gasoline purchases in BC to be prepaid. It has virtually eliminated gas theft, with no down side.

  2. Buzz, I enjoyed surfing your links, there were a few Laws there that I had not seen before.
    I always enjoyed Mrs Murphy’s Corollary, that you cannot tell in advance which side to butter the toast.

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