The Rants of Issachar

Friday, May 26, 2006

No, the internet isn't always anonymous...

LGF claims they're getting death threats from people at Reuters. (via Daimnation) No, the internet isn't always that private. So don't make stupid posts at work...

:: posted by issachar, 10:10 PM | Permalink | 0 comments | Links to this post

Saturday, May 20, 2006

National Post gets egg on their face...

Yesterday the National Post published a news story and column by Iranian born analyst Amir Taheri claiming that Iran was passing a national dress code that included yellow strips of cloths for Jews with red for Christians and blue for Zoroastrians. The story was supported by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Iranian expatriates in Canada.

Today, the Post has printed a front page story saying that the Iranian embassy, the lone Jewish member of the Iranian parliament and the small Jewish community in Iran are all denying the story. OUCH.

This is three days after the post publishes Warren Kinsella's attack on the Globe and Mail over their own front page error.

I can't actually find the original story on the National Post's website. If they've taken it offline, that's a definite no-no. The appropriate response to accidentally publishing a false report is to add an update to to the page correcting your error, not to try to "unpublish" it. I'll see if I can find the story in the electronic edition after I get my account registered on Tuesday.

I must admit I found the story surprising, but not unbelievable. This is the same regime that's busy trying to build a nuclear bomb and taking the stance of "try to stop us and the Jews get it". This is the same regime that sent waves of youths as young as 12 out to clear minefields (by rolling around until they set off a mine and killed themselves), during their war with Iraq. (They did give them little plastic "keys to paradise"). This is the same regime whose President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad supposedly served as a Basij instructor during that war. This is the same President who says that Israel should be wiped off the map.

The story may not be true, but it's not out of character either...

:: posted by issachar, 1:09 PM | Permalink | 10 comments | Links to this post

The Da Vinci Dode movie...

In two words, I'm disappointed. Not terribly surprised, but disappointed. Taking a book to the screen is always fraught with difficulty, and it seems Dan Brown's novel was no exception.

Not a terribly good movie I think...

Still, I'd like to say a couple of things about the whole "Fact or Fiction" controversy.

While the story's exciting, (or at least it was in the book), it's definitely fiction. People prone to believing in a world wide Jewish conspiracy just might find the whole Catholic Church conspiracy angle convincing, but a world-wide Christian conspiracy is about as plausible.

A letter in Friday's National Post talks about the views of Christ; "the [Christian] image, is a divine being who was born of a virgin impregnated by God, who was crucified and resurrected", and the novel's view of a "philosopher who was born of a human woman, got married and had a son". The writer then asks which view is more plausible.

Good question. Is it plausible to believe that the early Christians decided to lie and say that Christ was never married and had no children? Why would they do this? Out of a desire to oppress women? Why would misogynists follow Jesus in the first place? (It is true that Jesus had a very high regard for women). Would they not have opposed Jesus? Is it plausible to believe that they succeeded in convincing the entire Christian world of this? Is it plausible to believe any of this when the history says otherwise and when at least some the facts presented in defense of this hypothesis are demonstrably false?

I wouldn't think so...

Separately, is it plausible to believe in the divinity of Christ and the resurection? That depends on your assumptions. The historical record of the divinity of Christ and the resurection is necessarily religious. People who believe Christ is divine are called Christians. Discounting records of Christ's divinity because they're not secular records, (as some do), doesn't make any sense because it is a logical impossibility to have a secular document claim that Christ was divine.

If you start from the assumption that the divine does not exist, then Christ as divine is implausible, but that's begging the question.

If you take out that assumption start with the premise that the divine may exist, then Christ as divine is at least plausible. Then you look at what Christ said and did to determine if he's divine. The letter to the editor says more about the writer's unspoken assumption than it does about the divinity of Christ.

Unexamined assumptions... Bad for discussions.

Image from Wikipedia. The image is copyrighted, although I believe my use of the scaled down image constitutes fair use as does Wikipedia's use of the image.

:: posted by issachar, 9:50 AM | Permalink | 6 comments | Links to this post

The Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci Code opens tonight in theatres. Here's hoping it doesn't suffer from the typi problems that film adaptations of books have. I enjoyed the book too much to sit through a bad movie.

But of course there's the controversy about it.

Yesterday a friend told me she was writing the the Campus Crusade blog response to Cineplex Odion's cancellation of their Da Vinci ad. (Allegedly for planning to "stalk" theatre patrons, and for a general "no advertising of any kind from religious groups" policy).

Tsk tsk... If only they were kidding. No advertising from religious groups no matter the content? That's a bit extreme don't you think? I mean, if you don't want to run the ads from certain groups, I guess that's up to you, but it does reveal a certain intolerance.

As for stalking, the Toronto Star's claim that Campus Crusade had "mobilized a small army of volunteers from Toronto to Vancouver willing to stalk movie-goers" seems a bit much. First of all, anyone who thinks an ad for a website constitutes a biblical tract has never actually seen a biblical tract. Let's just say subtle isn't a word you'd associate with a tract. "In your face obvious approach" would be more apt.

More importantly, if someone is harrassing your patrons, you tell them to leave. Cancelling an ad for a website isn't going to achieve anything. If groups of students are in fact planning to hand out promotional material for Crusade's website, only the unsophisticated would believe that cancelling the ad is going to cause them to reconsider whether they're being organized by Campus Crusade or not.

However, Cineplex Odeon spokesperson Pat Marshall is saying that the e-mail they sent to Crusade mentioning the Toronto Star article was a mistake and that they don't think that Campus Crusade was planning to "stalk" their patrons. I'm unconvinced. I am convinced that's what Cineplex Odeon has chosen as their official line, but if the Toronto Star had nothing to do with the decision making, I find it doubtful it would have been mentioned an e-mail.

Neither explanation reflects terribly well on Cineplex Odeon and I'm disappointed that they're sticking to their "we choose to discriminate against religious people" defence.

Image from Wikipedia. The image is copyrighted, although I believe my use of the scaled down image constitutes fair use as does Wikipedia's use of the image.

:: posted by issachar, 8:14 AM | Permalink | 5 comments | Links to this post

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Stupid attitudes in South Africa

From the Daily Telegraph...

The Zulu deputy leader of the ANC was aquitted of charges he raped a family friend who is HIV positive. I obviously don't know anything about the case, so I can't comment on the verdict, but here's some really contemptible quotes...
Mr Zuma, who has two wives, as well as one divorced wife and another who died, admitted having sex with the woman. But he said she consented and had encouraged him, notably by wearing a knee-length skirt and failing to cross her legs when she sat down.

Mr Zuma's followers vented their rage at his accuser. "She is an enemy of all patriotic South Africans," Carlson Mekoena, 47, said. "She will be killed if she stays here." The woman, who is under police protection and was pelted with stones when she attended court during the trial, is expected to leave South Africa.

(Mr. Zuma has said that his accuser should not be vilified).

Mr Zuma had told the court that he took a shower after having sexual intercourse to "minimise" the risk of infection. He once chaired the National Aids Council and was in charge of public education about the epidemic.
That's disgusting.

:: posted by issachar, 5:07 PM | Permalink | 2 comments | Links to this post

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Being a teacher with a blog...

Someone told me the other day that more of my students are reading my blog than I thought. I'm not that hard to find on the web, so it's not a big shock that they've found it, the only thing I find surprising is that they'd want to read it... :P

Anyway this post has no purpose other than to say "Hi" to any of my current or former students reading this. Feel free to leave a comment.

I'll miss you all next year.

:: posted by issachar, 3:03 PM | Permalink | 7 comments | Links to this post

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Supreme Court update: Kirpans in schools...

I wrote about this back in April, and now the Supreme Court has come down with a decision. (Why does the Supreme Court link to the University of Montreal rather than hosting it's own decisions?)

At first glance I think they made the right call. They did not say that Sikh's have the right to carry Kirpan's without restrictions, and they left the door open to school's imposing restrictions on carrying Kirpans for safety reasons.

From the text:
The school board sent G’s parents a letter in which, as a reasonable accommodation, it authorized their son to wear his kirpan to school provided that he complied with certain conditions to ensure that it was sealed inside his clothing.
The governing board of the school disagreed with the school board and said that he could use a fake Kirpan instead. [Edit: I forgot to include the word "fake"]

Depending on what those "certain conditions" are, it seems that the school board's original compromise seems very reasonable.

:: posted by issachar, 1:53 PM | Permalink | 0 comments | Links to this post

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Bears in Canada...

It seems that bears in Peace River go grocery shopping just like everyone else. The only difference is they don't pay for anything.

The bear wandered in through the automatic doors, perused the ailes and sat down at the bakery case to eat his way through more than a dozen cakes, then got up and left. One silly guy got himself slightly injured. (The bear bit him when he tried to sneak up to take a picture). Apparently, it's not safe to sneak up on bears to take pictures even if you're packing a camera phone.

Now of course the bear will get put down if he gets caught. (Automatic death sentence for any bear that injures a person). Stay away from the bears people...

Photo courtesy of B.M. Wolitski - Copyright: B.M. Wolitski,

:: posted by issachar, 6:36 PM | Permalink | 3 comments | Links to this post

Monday, May 01, 2006

A barenaked guide to copyright reform

Steven Page of the Barenaked Ladies has an interesting article in the National Post today. Also available here). He, (along with several other Canadian musicians) has founded a group called the Canadian Music Creators Coalition. They're holding their first public meeting today in Toronto.
What I'm saying is I think that looking at sharing music, (which is not a new phenomenon), as some kind of crime that should be sued or punished by law is wrong.

I think that suing our fans is the wrong attitude to take when we're trying to nurture our fan bases.

-Steven Page on Canada AM

It's an interesting development. They oppose the recording industry practice of suing music fans over downloads, and they oppose using "digital locks". They oppose so called "digital rights management" technology and iTMS' DRM is listed as a bad thing. Finally they want government cultural policies to support Canadian artists in the form of programs such as the Canadian Music Fund and FACTOR.

Their opposition to digital rights management is certainly different from the overall trend in music south of the border, and that's a very good thing.

Still, it would seem to make it very difficult to run any sort of Napster-like music "leasing" service without some DRM. On the other hand, people do keep paying for cable even without any sort of DRM on television, so it might well work. (And Napster-style services are going to die anyway if they can't get the copyright holders to stop making some of the tracks "buy only". If I wanted to buy music, I'd buy it. I subscribe to Napster because I want to lease it. Leasing only works if you've got everything.

I'd also be interested to know what the CMCC think of our Canadian Content laws. They're a fairly coercive system for promoting Canadian music and they do restrict consumer choice.

:: posted by issachar, 8:43 AM | Permalink | 0 comments | Links to this post