Kanthan's Blog

Should some religious groups be barred from foster care because of their beliefs?

Supreme Court of the United States - Roberts Court 2018
Supreme Court of the United States - Roberts Court 2018

A fascinating case has made its way to the US Supreme Court. 

In 2018, Catholic Social Services, an arm of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, took the city to court accusing it of violating the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and religion.

This came about because the city of Philadelphia refused to place children for foster care with Catholic Social Services because the agency bars same-sex couples from serving as foster parents.

RIP, Shaun Johnson

Shaun Johnson conversation

Woke up to the news that founding editor of the Sunday Independent, Shaun Johnson, had passed away and was momentarily incredulous. Born November 1959, he is just two years older than I am. 

I have a flashback now to sitting across from him at his desk circa October 1999; he as Managing Director of Independent Newspapers Cape, I as Managing Editor of the Cape Times.

"Shaun," I said to him, "this is the third year I am drawing up budgets for the Cape Times, and this is the third year that I am asked to make cutbacks. When does it stop? When do we reinvest in journalism?"

Who guards The Guardian?

Guardian screenshots from Twitter

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? This Latin phrase traces back to the work of the Roman poet Juvenal, written around the late first or early second century, It translates to "who will guard the guardians?"

Surprisingly, the original context was not in the sense of the modern meaning of who will police those in power; it rather dealt with marital infidelity.

The original text: audio quid ueteres olim moneatis amici, "pone seram, cohibe." sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes? cauta est et ab illis incipit uxor.

Corona versus Ebola: some stats

Ebola in DRC

The Democratic Republic of Congo announced their tenth outbreak of Ebola in 40 years on 1 August 2018. The number of cases has exceeded 3 000, making it the country's largest-ever Ebola outbreak. It is the second-largest Ebola outbreak after one which hit West Africa from 2014-2016.

Key stats from then to date via Doctors WIthout Borders:

  • 3423 total cases
  • 3304 confirmed cases
  • 2244 deaths

Contrast this with Covid-19, as the Corona virus is more formally known.

Free speech versus the right to bear arms?

The Liberator 3D-printed hand gun

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents government passing laws prohibiting freedom of speech.

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the individual right to keep and bear arms.

But what if they are in fact the same thing?

Cody Wilson is a self-styled American crypto-anarchist, free-market anarchist, and gun-rights activist. In 2012, he founded Defense Distributed, a non-profit organization that develops and publishes open source gun designs, so-called "wiki weapons", suitable for 3D printing and digital manufacture.

Cognitive bias holding you back?

Karikatur von Gerhard Mester zum Thema: Klima und Zukunft

A quick listicle from the World Economic Forum on cognitive biases that could be holding some of us back at work.

Reading into India's GDP growth

Growth in IT Revenue

Quite a bit of buzz today around the fact that India has overtaken the UK as the world's fifth largest economy.

India's GDP has clocked $2,94 trillion. The UK sits at $2,83 trillion followed by France at $2,71 trillion.

There's been a lot of grumbling from India's opposition Congress party who've pointed out that manufacturing has declined in its overall contribution to GDP (in spite of Prime Minister Modi's much-hyped "Make in India" campaign).

A plague on both your houses!


"And I miss you... Like the deserts miss the rain..." went the 90s track from Everything But The Girl.

Desert rains also bring chaos. An abundance of rain leads to an abundance of foliage, which encourages breeding of locusts.

These have wreaked havoc around the Horn of Africa.

A "small" swarm contains about 40 million insects, and they can eat as much food in a day as 35 000 people.

Not that there's anything unusual about this. Plagues of locusts have been documented in the Bible and the Quran among other sources for centuries.

Looking for the elevator in the gym?

Donald Trung Quoc Don (Chữ Hán: 徵國單) - Wikimedia Commons

Ever stop to observe the behaviour of vehicles entering a shopping center parking lot?

They will generally circle close to the entrance of the shop they want to go to. Frequently, they will stop in a row, hazards flashing, waiting for someone to leave their space.

Eventually, when someone does leave and another vehicle approaches from the other side, our driver waiting for the parking space will furiously flash lights or honk or wave or all of the above.

Here's my strategy for parking lots: I will generally grab the first unoccupied parking I find.