The Rants of Issachar

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Gasoline Prices...

Last week I finally had to buy gas at more than $1 per liter. $1.089 to be precise. I was lucky for a while I guess. Now with the damage to US oil refining in New Orleans, the price at the pump is expected to rise again.

So will this make any difference at all? I don't think so... Don't get me wrong, I like cheap gas, (I remember filling up a few years ago for 29.5cents per liter), but I'm still going to keep driving. Driving is still superior to the other ways of getting around. I've got no objections to a more fuel efficient car, but it'll be a while before I can justify the cost.

So a couple of side issues have come up. I heard on the news that the NDP wants government regulated gas prices... Say what?!? I thought this was the party of reduced oil consumption and the environmental movement. Keeping the price of gas low fits in with this how exactly? I may not be driving less, but I'm probably less likely to buy a big SUV with the price of gas going nowhere but up...

And apparently some people in Ontario want Albertans to share their oil wealth with the rest of Canada. (Meaning with them). What's the justification for this exactly? Hint: I want more money is not a good justification. Hey, I'd like it if BC was heading for a big surplus as well, but making a grab for Alberta's is just stealing.

:: posted by issachar, 4:59 PM | Permalink | 13 comments | Links to this post

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Why the NARAL position on abortion makes no sense...

I've been meaning to write this post for a long time. My first posting on abortion back in February got a few comments on it and I think some people offended some other people. So I stayed away from this for a while. It also got difficult to follow the conversations. Sixty-nine comments with no threading is not easy to read.

But this is my board, so I'm adding another post.

My opinion on abortion is in that original post, and I'm going to assume that everyone's reading below this point has read that post. Also, please comment here rather than in the February discussion. That discussion's been finished for a while now.

By the NARAL position, I mean the position that states that abortion should be completely legal without restriction. That the decision to abort or not to abort should rest entirely with the expectant mother and that abortion should be framed exclusively as an issue of choice.

So here's the problem with this position: It does not contain a coherent or defensible belief on the beginning of human life. (And by that I mean the beginning of a creature with "human rights").

Choice is fundamentally secondary to Human Rights. A black man has the right to live as a free man. He is not subject to any other man's "choice" to make him a slave. A woman has the right to say no to sexual advances. She is not subject to any man's "choice" to have sex. All human beings have the right to live. They are not subject to any other human beings choice to terminate their life.

Human Rights are called such for a reason. All humans have them. They are not dependent on intelligence, age or like that. They are subject only to other human rights. The right to life is regarded as the ultimate human right.

The NARAL position makes one of two assumptions. It either the assumes that human life begins at birth or that some human beings are superior to others and that their choices can overrule the human rights of inferior humans. I'm going to dispense with the second possibility because I don't think that NARAL or anyone else is going to try to defend it. So the NARAL position depends on the assumption that life begins at birth. For NARAL life has to begin at birth or else a woman's choice would always be secondary to a unborn child's right to life.

So does anyone want to actually defend the idea that human life and rights begin at birth?

It's not a coherent postion.
Fetus' are dependent on the mother. Infants are wholly dependent on others as are the very ill and a whole host of others. Dependency is not a determinant of human rights. A fetus' dependency on the mother is therefore irrelevent to when life begins. Next...

Biological differences. The counter argument to every biological argument is that a fetus one day before birth is not different from a newborn in any way of consequence.

So how else can the foundation to the NARAL position on abortion be defended? I don't think it can be.

If anyone wants to make a case for the NARAL position, please do. I'd be interested to discuss it. I want to hear from pro-choice people in particular. Can you defend unrestricted abortion in light of it's assumptions about human rights? If you can't, what restrictions on abortion do you think are necessary to reconcile human rights with the beginning of human life?

Update: Sept 1st 3:50PM

Please do not turn this into a flame war on abortion. I want discussion and learning, not pontificating. (I can do that all by myself). :)

Also there's only one pro-choice person in this discussion. It would be very nice if another pro-choice person could join in.

Also, some suggested ground rules. Please do not use the phrases "anti-choice", or "pro-abortion". Stick with pro-life and pro-choice. They're the commonly accepted terms anyway. (See discussion within as to why I added this).

Oh, and please don't turn this into round two of the last discussion.

:: posted by issachar, 4:47 PM | Permalink | 117 comments | Links to this post

Monday, August 22, 2005

Go-Karts in Langley on my birthday

Aaron sent me the photos of the go-karting we did on the 13th. Thanks again Aaron!

Alanna missed the corner and decided to keep going. End over end rolls are fun!

After Alanna Rolled it end over end.

After Alanna Rolled it end over end.

They go pretty fast. Although goggles would be a good thing.
Andrew Driving

Noland is definitely an enthusiastic driver.
Noland Driving

:: posted by issachar, 10:46 AM | Permalink | 8 comments | Links to this post
Thanks to Zanebee for the comments on the Rule of Law discussion. We got a little off topic.

:: posted by issachar, 10:01 AM | Permalink | 1 comments | Links to this post

Friday, August 19, 2005

Saying Goodbye...

Last weekend was a weekend of goodbyes. Four of them. Goodbye to Ian, Dave, Dave & Alanna...

I'll miss you.

Saying goodbye can be harder than you think...

:: posted by issachar, 12:30 PM | Permalink | Links to this post

Thursday, August 18, 2005

It does rain in the Okanagan...

This was the view from our deck at 6am Tuesday morning.

A rainy morning on Okanagan Lake

You can't tell, but it was still raining. Of course we've had nothing but sun recently, so I was sleeping on the dock, (without a tent) between the chairs and the boat. Normally it's pretty nice, but that morning I woke up with 3am to realize that my dream about water wasn't a dream after all.

I figured the rain couldn't last long, so I pulled my cell phone inside my sleeping bag and pulled the covers over my head. The rain woke me up again at 5:30...

Gorgeous view though...

:: posted by issachar, 4:35 PM | Permalink | 2 comments | Links to this post

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Centre Right?

Two days ago I heard the Liberal Party of Canada described as "Centre-Right".

The NDP was left, the Conservatives were right and the Liberals were "Centre-Right"...

I laughed.

:: posted by issachar, 9:26 AM | Permalink | 1 comments | Links to this post

Friday, August 12, 2005

Discussion continues...

The Rule of Law discussion continues... (I hope)

I'm going to the lake...

:: posted by issachar, 5:02 PM | Permalink | Links to this post

It's a birthday card...

I'm turning 29 tomorow, and westcoastloon made a card for me.


This is not a Teachable Moment

:: posted by issachar, 4:42 PM | Permalink | 5 comments | Links to this post

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Why don't we care about the Rule of Law anymore?

This post has been simmering for a while now. It's still not terribly well phrased. My concern has been that in writing about issues that some people are very passionate about, I will be labelled as a bigot. But there's not much I can do about it if people label me unfairly, and as Marco pointed out, that's never stopped me before. So here it is...

What does the Rule of Law mean?

Well it means a lot of things, but I want to talk about one meaning in particular. I'm probably stretching the meaning of the phrase, so if anyone knows of a better way to phrase what I'm talking about, please suggest it.

I'm talking about the fact that if we don't like a law, we can use legal means to change it. Everyone is bound by that law until such time as it is changed. If we think it should be illegal to sell junk food in schools, we can pass a law against it. If we think it should be legal to sell alcohol to ten year olds, we can change the laws restricting alcohol sales to minors.

I believe that North America has largely given up on this part of the Rule of Law. People want something to be allowed, (or stopped), and they don't bother with the legal means of changing the applicable laws. I can see why they do it. They think that problem X is so important that it needs to be solved immediately. Following the Rule of Law would be too slow, and the problem needs to be fixed NOW! The problem is that in the long term this is extremely unhealthy for the legal system. Short term good (from some perspectives), and long term bad. Of course that may be a bit generous. There's also the possibility that they're selfish people who don't care about larger issues at all. They only care about getting their own way on issues they care about. You tell me what you think is more likely explanation...

A few examples:
These are examples of "law" that has been established in defiance of the Rule of Law.

Marijuana laws: It is illegal to sell, smoke or posess marijuna in Canada. That is the written law. This law is only enforced sporadically these days. I'm not sure who this happened, somewhere along the line we forgot to actually have a debate about marijuana laws. For the record, I want pot to be illegal, and for there to be actual legal consequences for breaking the law. Medical usage of pot is a canard that has nothing to do with the issue. Contrast marijuana activists demands with the usage of morphine in the medical system. But it seems we're going to end up with de-facto legalized marijuana without actually bothering to change the law.

Roe vs. Wade: Calling the US Supreme's Court's decision in that case "shaky" is putting it mildly. The right to abortion almost certainly doesn't exist in the US constitution. Intellectual honesty demands that this rather obvious fact be recognized. This is not the same as saying that abortion should be illegal. I am disappointed that pro-choice activists don't have the courage to admit that Roe vs. Wade is bad law even as they argue that abortion should be legal. Benjamin Wittes wrote a very good article on this in the Atlantic Monthly, and I really suggest you read it. (Sorry, the link requires a subscription).

Sexual Orientation Discrimination: A few years ago, the Supreme Court of Canada determined that sexual orientation was one of the forms of discrimination prohibited by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This was in spite of the fact that the words "sexual orientation" do not appear in the Charter. It was also in spite of the fact that MP Svend Robinson attempted to get sexual orientation included in the list of prohibited forms of discrimination when the Charter was before the House of Commons and failed. (This might lead one to conclude that that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was not prohibited by the Charter. Certainly Mr. Robinso thought so at the time.

The court acknowledged these facts and then announced that the words "sexual orientation" should be "read-in". Simply put, the Court altered the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in defiance of the legal methods for ammending the Charter. There is a method for ammending the charter, but it doesn't involve the Supreme Court deciding that things ought to have been included.

It would have been far better for our countries if abortion rights activists in the US and gay rights activists in Canada had had the courage to pursue legal means to advance their goals. (I'm not sure what to say about pot smokers...) When we simply pretend that the law says what we think it should say, rather than actually changing the law using the democratic system, the Rule of Law is diminished. And that's bad for us all in the end.

Update: August 12th 2005. Added a link to the Charter, and one to the relevent section. (Section 15 - Equality Rights) (See above)

:: posted by issachar, 12:36 PM | Permalink | 55 comments | Links to this post

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Pot smokers...

So a guy who sells marijuana seeds gets arrested. Last I checked, selling marijuana seeds was still illegal in Canada, but that's one of the laws we apparently don't enforce anymore. However, the bulk of his seeds were sold to Americans and the US authorities cared slightly more than the Canadian ones. (And they don't like their postal system being used to sell illegal drugs). The conducted a sting operation, gathered the necessary evidence then asked us to arrest the guy under the terms of our treaty on the matter.

End of a mildly interesting story as far as I care, but some see this a serious assault on Canadian sovereignty. (More serious than the Danes trying to steal our island?!?) In their perspective, since we don't enforce our marijuana laws, we shouldn't extradite the guy to the Americans. Alternately, if we do extradite him, we should first extract promises that limit possible sentences he might face in the US.

That's just silly. The man knowingly violated American law when he ran a business exporting illegal substances into the US. Therefore he should face the American legal system.

Consider the following scenario. An American named Bob runs a nice business out of Seattle shipping handguns into Canada by mail. There's nothing wrong with selling hand guns in the US, but we don't like them being shipped to Canada. I think it would perfectly reasonable for us to demand that Bob be extradited to Canada to face our legal system. It would be most unreasonable for the Americans to try to dictate to us the sentences that our legal system might impose on Bob. He broke our laws, it's our business.

Same deal with the guy selling weed seeds to Americans by mail.

:: posted by issachar, 8:30 PM | Permalink | 6 comments | Links to this post

iCal Calendars...

I've got a new feature on the website. My online calendar thanks to the Mozilla Calendar Extension for Firefox and PHP iCalendar. I'm not sure if I want to put my daily calendar online for anyone to have a look at, but the point is that I can. Actually, I think as long as I remember to mark somethings private or just keep the private things out of the public calendar, this is going to be very useful. iCalShare has a few useful calendars. Here's hoping Trinity puts the Spartan events in iCal format.

Thanks to Kotyk for changing my mind about plug-ins. (And he doesn't even know he did it).

For the record, I'm using:
Enigmail extension for Thunderbird.
Mozilla Calendar for Firefox.
Googlebar for Firefox.
Session Saver for Firefox.
Download Manager Tweak for Firefox.
BookMarks Synchronizer for Firefox.

You can get good descriptions for the last four from Kotyk.

:: posted by issachar, 5:06 PM | Permalink | 2 comments | Links to this post

Encrypted e-mail...

Thanks to Enigmail, a useful plug-in for Mozilla Thunderbird, I'm now able to encrypt and digitally sign my e-mail. Thanks to the people who made GnuPG as well.

If anyone else has got a public key they'd like to send me, please do. If you want some help with setting up your own, just send me an e-mail.

Here's my key. (It's supposed to look like gibberish)

Version: GnuPG v1.4.2 (MingW32)


:: posted by issachar, 4:51 PM | Permalink | 2 comments | Links to this post