Issachar's Musings

Putting my ideas online where I have to defend or change them.

March 19th, 2010

I find it faintly amusing when people can’t seem to grasp the fact that there is more than one version of “religious”. Sometimes I suspect that it’s rooted in anti-religious bigotry and boneheaded ignorance, but I can’t really prove it. Antonia Zerbisias’ piece in the star today isn’t particularly bad, but it’s a good sample of the problem.

Basically, she doesn’t like the Conservative’s position on maternal health care for the upcoming G8 summit. The Conservatives have been contradicting themselves, but that doesn’t really matter for this issue. Ms. Zerbisias claims that Mr. Harper is motivated by religious beliefs in the initial policy that they wouldn’t include contraception.

Quote: “This is just a Trojan horse for your religious beliefs.”   Wow. That’s scary stuff!

Except for one small detail.  Stephen Harper isn’t a Roman Catholic. He’s an evangelical Christian and a member of the Christian and Missionary Alliance church. They don’t oppose contraception.

So to buy Ms. Zerbisias’ argument you have to swallow the fallacy that all those “Christian types” are the same. It works if you’re just bigoted against Christians or religious people in general, or just plain uninformed, but the argument just doesn’t hold water.

The fact is that the issue is a lot more nuanced than the “Harper’s a misogynist” crowd wants to recognize.  Muddying the issue by lumping abortion in with family planning as Ms. Zerbisias makes the problem worse not better.

March 19th, 2010

I foolishly left my new blog open to comments from users who weren’t logged in when I installed WordPress.  As a result I ended up with over 6,000 comments on this post from spammers.  Apparently they have tools to automate the process of entering a name and an e-mail address which doesn’t really surprise me.  Spammers are annoying cretins, but one SQL query deleted them all.

So as a consequence I’m now requiring people to log in before they comment.  Of course I don’t actually have anyone commenting on my blog anymore, but a year without posts will do that.  I could have forced some kind of captcha system, but I find those irritating.

I’m managing logins with Google FriendConnect as well as WordPress accounts.  You don’t actually need an account with Google to log in with FriendConnect, any OpenID login will do.  As a bonus, Google FriendConnect has a few social networking features.  (All optional I believe.)

Out of curiosity, is there anyone reading this who doesn’t like FriendConnect?

March 7th, 2010

We’re finally getting the same kind of plastic bills that Australians use, and it’s about time!  Paper bills wear out quickly which is why we’ve been getting larger denominations of coins recently.  There was even talk about a $5 coin.  As a guy who doesn’t likes to use cash and doesn’t like to carry a man-purse around with me, coins are simply a pain.  On the other hand, we were simply wasting money by using paper bills for lower denominations.  The plastic currency is simply better.  It saves money like using coins, but without the hassle of having to carry around a small bag all the time.

Now all we need to do is get rid of the penny and have all transactions rounded to the nearest nickel.  And to the naysayers who might complain that it will raise prices, we always round off the amount due for almost every purchase we make.  Calculations of sales tax will almost always give you fractions of pennies and the price of gasoline is actually quoted in tenths of pennies.

Plastic money is the best news I’ve read on the internet all weekend.

March 6th, 2010

I missed it at the time, but The Globe and Mail published an opinion piece about a group of people that are upset about the hunting of spirit bears.  Given how rare they are I’d be upset too, except for the small detail that no one is hunting spirit bears.  Hunting spirit bears is illegal.  So what’s the issue?

The issue is that we allow people to hunt black bears which are not in any way endangered.  Spirit bears are of course really ordinary black bears except that they have an expressed recessive gene that makes their fut white.  So approximately 1 in 10 black bears carries the recessive gene without expressing it.  If two of these bears were to get together over some fresh salmon and some Barry White, we might get another spirit bear.  So the man quote in the article, Doug Neasloss, thinks the black bear hunt should be ended.


Assuming you don’t drive the population too low, hunting black bears and not spirit bears actually increases the survivability of spirit bears.  White fur now makes bears effectively bullet proof which you might say is a strong advantage in natural selection.

As a further irony, Mr. Neasloss’ eco-tours are making black bears more comfortable with humans and making them easier to hunt.  Not good…