Marriage Woos

Apparently in Nepal, it’s okay to simply kidnap a woman from her family, take her home, and marry her. This sounds simple enough, but there are a lot of rules.

“Boy’s family members whisk away the girl of their liking for marriage,” concedes a senior citizen of Chepuwa. Fearing social stigma, the snatched girls accept the ‘marriage’. The girls can go to maternal homes shortly after marriage on the condition that they return. According to local people, the boy must compensate the girl’s family if he marries someone else during the girl’s stay at maternal home. The girl’s family must pay the boy’s if she elopes.

It seems that India has a simpler system. Just install indoor plumbing, and the brides come to you.

Courtship can be an intricate business in India, but the mothers of the northern state of Haryana have a simple message for men who call on their daughters: “No toilet, no bride.”

The slogan – often lengthened in Hindi to “If you don’t have a proper lavatory in your house, don’t even think about marrying my daughter” – has been plastered across villages in the region as part of a drive to boost the number of pukka facilities. In a country where more households have TV sets than lavatories, it is one of the most successful efforts to combat the chronic shortage of proper plumbing.


Mythbusting: The Big Bang

Bet you thought this was gonna be another post on Creationism, dintja? PSYCH!

The folks in Yolo County, California felt the wrath of Jamie and Adam, when filming for an upcoming episode of Mythbusters got a little carried away. The once great show has taken to ever increasing gratuitous explosions as a weekly staple. Apparently this week, they got a little carried away.

The ammonium nitrate explosion literally shook the whole town and shattered several windows. Residents were shocked as no one had warned them the explosion was going to take place. In retrospect, that probably was a good thing as if a notice had gone out then there would have been a crowd at the blast site and someone would have gotten hurt.

Maybe this is an opportunity for the show to reassess itself. I used to like it a lot more when it was an entertaining science show as opposed to a show where the quest for science is used mostly as an excuse to blow stuff up. Nonetheless, my son Doug prefers it this way, so I guess however it goes, one of us is happy.


This Just In!

A new study shows that women are more attracted to men based on wealth and status. The study concluded that:

“It’s not a recent phenomenon. It is very ingrained and the evidence is not just anecdotal.

“Females focus on questions of wealth and status because if the male possesses those, that male would be in a better condition to rear healthy offspring.”

The researcher, Dr. Michael Dunn, exhibiting that he has no fear of death or loneliness, went on to admit that his research could also be interpreted as evidence that women are shallower than men. He said: “Let’s face it – there’s evidence to support it.” Dr. Dunn went on to demonstrate his contrasting male complexity and depth by remarking about the waitress who had just taken his drink order, “Get a load of the hooters on her!”

Also in the news, the Pope is Catholic, and bear poops in woods.


CS Needs Women

The good news is that majoring in computer science, information technology, or software engineering is cool again. Which means that it was cool once before… a cultural high point for my field that I clearly slept through. Still, it’s comforting to know that I was once one of the cool kids, even if I didn’t realize it at the time.

Undergrad Computer Science majors are up 8.1% in 2008. Of course just like last time, the uptick only includes males who are white or Asian. There still doesn’t seem to be much of an allure for other minorities or girls as those numbers are flat. As a consequence, there are apparently lots of scholarships available if you are from one of the under represented demographics. Which is great if you’re a geeky Hispanic woman looking for a free ride to a good school, but does kind of raise the specter of reverse discrimination. It’s also pretty inequitable as short guys are pretty under represented on Division I basketball teams, yet you don’t see a lot of recruitment and scholarship efforts going on there.

And no, I’m not suggesting that women or minorities are genetically less capable technogeeks. Just that there may be reasons (biological, sociological, cultural, or other) that draw people to certain fields. This notion that every way we slice society that it needs to look uniform is not just goofy, but damaging in it’s own right.

But I digress… we were celebrating how cool my kids will be. Dateless, but cool.


Abortion Akin to Slavery – Not

The Huffington Post took a bit too much sensationalistic license when it characterized Mike Huckabee as comparing abortion to slavery in a recent speech at a fundraiser for an anti-abortion group. Per the article, what was said was:

…when it abolished slavery, the U.S. debated and decided it was immoral for one person to have complete, life-or-death power over another.

While Huckabee is trying to reuse the logic and argument behind the abolition of slavery for abortion, it’s pretty clear he’s not saying abortion is slavery. Nor do I think he was trying to characterize the relationship of parent to child as analogous to that between slave owner and slave. Although that’s a more direct line of reasoning than the sensationalistic one the article chose to go with.

It’s certainly hard to argue that one person should have complete life or death power over another. But that statement is predicated on two things. First, that both parties involved are people. Prior to the abolition of slavery there were already laws against murder and such that cemented the notion of one person not having life or death control over another into law. The legal transition that abolished slavery was the recognition of slaves as people rather than property. This is essentially what Huckabee is proposing, and he says as much later on. He thinks that fertilized eggs are people, and wants that codified into law. The rest just follows.

The trouble with fertilized eggs being people, as opposed to slaves, is that slaves are autonomous. When slavery ended, there was no requirement for owners to educate and endow slaves with anything as they left. They just cut them loose. But this is not possible for eggs and embryos. Even if it were medically simple to transplant fertilized eggs and embryos out of the mother, to where are they sent? Do we raise them in labs? Do we employ surrogate mothers?

What if this were two adults with such a dependent relationship? What if I’m identified as being one in a million who has a particular tissue match with a person who will die without one of my kidneys? Should the law obligate me to donate the organ? I suspect most of the pro-life lobby would say no. Yet I think this is a way more analogous situation than slavery.

Curiously the political camp that seems the most determined to garner persondom on cell clusters is also the group that is most adamant about dismantling the social safety net pushed by more progressive politicians. They oppose any form of government subsidy (medicine, housing, welfare, etc.) that confers a minimum environment for a person to live. Why then does it make sense that they want the government to mandate that a woman must provide a minimum environment for a fertilized egg, but the government shouldn’t require that once that baby is born that any taxpayer should be obligated to provide for its welfare?

If pro-life is really about celebrating and preserving life, shouldn’t it be worried more about improving the quality of life for existing people rather than just increasing the number of lives born and allowing them to fend for themselves on the streets?