Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Wanderers 2008.12.9

Making a Point
:: Carol Urner @ Linus Pauling House ::
Tomorrow is the 60th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Carol came to Pauling House fresh from some celebrations, involving former Oregon Governor Victor Atiyah, Mayor Tom Potter, other dignitaries.

"I spend most of my time staring into the heart of darkness" she began, referring to her studies of militarism, not unlike Linda Richards' studies of nuclearism.

WWII was no picnic, though referred to as "the good war" (Don), so inevitably the backlash was significant, leading to said Declaration, Eleanor Roosevelt referring to it as "the Magna Carta for all humankind". Carol expressed her admiration for the text, which covers a lot of ground, isn't namby-pamby or written in corporate BS. It's also quite a hodge-podge.

In attempting to cover so many bases, the Declaration provides for private ownership of real property, however it doesn't suggest all cultures must adopt the same model of exactly what that means. She gave a detailed case study of property management patterns in Lesotho, not at all what some Anglos are used to, but why should that surprise anyone? Anglos are a minority on Planet Earth, always will be most likely.

Patrick had a great question: could an individual American take the inclusive approach and say her gay marriage trumps any US prohibition thereof, thanks to verbiage in this Declaration? Likewise (me): could a so-called "mixed race" couple escape persecution by pointing out the local sovereignty is duty-bound, if a signatory, to honor these guarantees of civil liberties (assuming some countries still enforce apartheid like strictures)?

The answer was quite complicated. Sovereignties sign on with reservations, plus local governments come forward with "shadow reports", basically blowing the whistle on more regional governments, and so on up the line. Having evidence of violations motivates reporting, is what it comes down to, meaning the UN must have many warehouses of full of such reporting by now, in many languages, mostly awaiting translation.

Bill Sheppard was having coffee from my Axis Clinical mug, a souvenir from a previous job. David Feinstein, Jim Buxton, David DiNucci... Tara, Aldona. Lynne and Linda sent their regrets, as I did to CubeSpace via the PPUG list (hey, we can't all do everything).

We joked about Kagan's little necon tract (the Mars / Venus manifesto). Neocons don't get much respect in our neck of the woods, never have. We also laughed when she explained how "signed" means "intending to ratify" i.e. you sign to mean you'll eventually sign. DiNucci asked if there were signing with the intent to sign before signing. These are engineers remember, we think of lawyers as kinda slow sometimes.

Dr. Feinstein
asked some rather deep questions about whether agitating for declarations is the most effective way of adding to the wealth of nations, starting with a clever speech about the ephemeral nature of said wealth (citing the Wall Street Journal). Carol invoked World Game as a part of her reply, which I thought was interesting.

Don mentioned Charlie Wilson's War, which he'd just seen. Mom didn't mention her organizing a speaking engagement for Chalmers Johnson in Whittier, closer to the action than these screenwriters. She did mention Ghaffar Khan however, a life she's studied quite a bit. Buxton: Three Cups of Tea.