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The Devil's Advocate | Speaking of salaries

(04/29/14 10:37pm)

T he very first act President Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was designed to correct a failing of previous pay equality legislation that prevented women from filing anti-discrimination claims more than 180 days after the discriminatory decision had been made. To me, this provision seems fairly straightforward and uncontroversial, but the vote split along party lines with a very few exceptions. Why the opposition?

Collin Boots | Hiding our history

(03/19/14 12:04am)

W h en the ARCH building reopened this year, a small pane of stained glass sparked a controversy. The building was the former home of the Christian Student Association and contains 15 glass coats of arms representing international missionary destinations for the CSA. The one in question portrays the Rising Sun Flag, Japan’s military flag. Originally a symbol of good fortune, the flag has come to be associated with Japanese imperialism and conquest in South Korea and China. Obscured by construction barriers for years, the sudden reintroduction of the symbol to Locust Walk understandably caused quite a stir among Penn’s Korean students.

Collin Boots | Freedom from discrimination

(03/06/14 1:20am)

F o r my last column, I wanted to describe why the laws being introduced around the country allowing discrimination on religious grounds were wrong. While writing though, I found myself struggling to come to terms with exactly why I thought that. I was unable to resolve my inner conflict between my desire to protect religious liberty and freedom of conscience and my desire to see discrimination of all kinds relegated to the dustbin of history.

Collin Boots | Robots don't kill people

(02/25/14 11:19pm)

Last week I attended a seminar entitled “How to NOT build a Terminator” by Ronald Arkin, director of the Mobile Robot Laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology . The talk explored how roboticists should approach the ethics of robots with lethal autonomy, especially in light of increased military interest in robotics. Advocacy groups around the world are calling for preemptive actions ranging from a moratorium on robots capable of deadly force to a total ban on robotics research.

Collin Boots | Papal Bull

(01/23/14 10:44pm)

During his Christmas address in Vatican City, Pope Francis reached out to atheists, saying, “I invite even nonbelievers to desire peace. [Join us] with your desire, a desire that widens the heart. Let us all unite, either with prayer or with desire, but everyone, for peace.” The line received an uproarious ovation, but I wish to withhold my applause.