How May Day became a workers’ holiday

May Day is celebrated around the world as a labour holiday. One of the few countries that doesn’t celebrate it is the one where it all began, the USA. The origins of May Day as a workers’ holiday go back to strikes, police brutality, and a miscarriage of justice in the USA of the 1880s.

Interesting reading.


Marriage (word, action; name, deed): the significance and cultural understanding thereof

Any relationship you have might be good enough for civil unions, but not for marriage.

At Box Turtle Bulletin, Rob Tisinai talks about why having marriage, not just civil unions, is important:

I have to think segregation of straight and gay relationships has a detrimental effect on gays. It denotes the inferiority of gay relationships. It leaves gays with an attitude of futility when it comes to commitment.

Compare also the Supreme Court brief by Olson and Boies.

Add to this Timothy Kincaid’s remarks on how legally confusing the current patchwork of laws are:

This year Ireland, as part of its new civil partnerships law, decided to recognize marriages – and similar institutions – from other nations as civil partnerships within its borders.

Ireland didn’t miss any country which recognises same-sex marriage, but it did miss various other “civil union” and “domestic partnership” arrangements, even some which were identical to marriage in all but name. Terminology: it matters.


Robert George vs. Religious Freedom

Robert George does not believe in religious freedom. He believes that everyone should live by the rules of his extreme version of Christianity. He has tacitly approved gaol sentences for LGBT people, and thinks that “safe schools” schemes are a danger to children. All of which makes it somewhat baffling that he has been appointed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.


USA PATRIOT: Privacy and Politics in the EU

The EU Data Protection Directive protects your privacy by limiting what companies can do with the data they store about you. The USA PATRIOT Act (legislation which is theoretically to be used to prevent terrorism) mandates that companies violate users’ privacy whenever the US government asks them to. What if the company in question is an EU subsidiary of a US company? Or an EU company which stores its data on servers in the USA? Or even an EU company which stores its data on servers in the EU which are owned or operated by a company based in the USA? Many US companies, notably Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, store a lot of data about their users. And one of the biggest providers of “cloud computing” is Amazon, which is also a US company (though one of its data centres is in Ireland).

Zach Whittaker at ZDNet has an excellent series on the privacy concerns raised by the USA PATRIOT Act in Canada and the EU.

Meanwhile, many websites now allow you to “like” them on Facebook. To achieve this, a small amount of code from Facebook is embedded into the website. This means that when you visit that site, your browser also fetches information from Facebook. So Facebook knows that you have visited that site. If you happen to be signed into Facebook at the time, Facebook will know that you, personally, have visited that site. This is a problem, especially if the site in question is based in the EU: they have arguably violated your privacy. On Stack Overflow, a programmer asks for workarounds for this problem.


Enda Kenny on the Cloyne Report

The Cloyne Report into the cover-up of sexual abuse in Cloyne, Co. Cork, has rattled around the world. And so has the speech An Taoiseach Enda Kenny made in reaction to it. It may well be the most significant speech he’s ever made or ever will.