Thursday, 9 October 2008

Rhetorical question time!

How come, in D&D type games, you can successfully poison creatures made out of stone, fire and wind?

Religion: Warping rational thought for millenia

This particularly execrable piece of news came to my attention courtesy of, and it has been stewing since Monday as I wondered if I had the energy to say anything about it.

But dammit, it pisses me off far too much to pass up.

Abortion bill's rights 'breach' (The Age) (Take a few moments to work through the grammatical structure of that headline. I'm not going anywhere).

It opens thisly:

"THE Catholic lobby has escalated the pressure on Victoria's lawmakers by claiming the bill that proposes to decriminalise abortion is in breach of the State Government's charter of human rights."

Now, you could be forgiven for assuming that they are claiming that it breaches the human rights of the unborn embryo.

Uh, no. Nothing so selfless, I'm afraid.

They are claiming that it breaches the human rights of

There is a clause in the bill which requires doctors who have a conscientious objection to performing abortions, to refer pregnant patients to doctors who are fine with that.

Now, this to me is entirely sensible, and reinforces the right to self-determination and informed decision making of the patient, while neatly stepping around forcing doctors to do something they object to.

I will, for the moment, give the doctors a free pass on the question of whether or not they should be allowed to object to performing standard medical procedures and still be allowed to practice as doctors. We'll waive that objection, and move on.

Because the Catholic lobby believes that requiring a doctor to make the entirely sensible and professional decision to refer a patient on if they are unable to make a medical decision in the face of personal issues, is depriving them of their right to religion, conscience and opinion.

In case you haven't worked out by now, I don't agree, and my opinion on abortion is entirely irrelevant. Let's examine that statement in detail:

First of all, it claims that religion requires doctors to enforce their own standards of behaviour and morality upon other people, regardless of good medical advice. Now, this is hardly surprising, although it's a bit surprising to hear them actually admit to it, but I put it to you that this behaviour is depriving the
patient of their right to opinion, conscience and self-determination. Resolve that conflict, you bigotted fucks.

Secondly, their claim is that forcing a doctor to refer a patient to a doctor who will perform a treatment that they find morally objectional is depriving them of their right to conscience. No, it doesn't, it deprives them of their right to enforce their conscience upon other people. It says nothing about their right to
hold that conscience. If you can't practice medicine without letting your stone-age beliefs in a giant invisible sky-fairy get in the way: Suffer.

Thirdly and finally, they are claiming that forcing a doctor, etc., is depriving them of their right to an opinion. I am gobsmacked by the thought that they may actually be serious about that claim. I can barely even begin to imagine the chain of reasoning which lead up to that claim. I sincerely doubt that there is anything in that bill saying "You can't say 'I don't agree with abortion, so I'm going to have to ask you to see another doctor' ". Which would satifsy their right to
express the opinion which they hold. You can even hold an opinion and remain absolutely quiet about it. Forcing you to act in a way which is mildly contrary to it, instead of flagrantly contrary to it, does not impact upon your right to hold it, and if legal advice is contrary, I have even less opinion for legal common sense than I already do.

In fact, this bears sickening premonition-of-doom resemblances to pharmacists in the US who refuse to dispense contraceptive pills, and islamic medical students in the UK who refuse to touch female patients.

In both cases, as several writers with more experience in the field than I pointed out at the times, these behaviours prevent the medical professionals involved from
doing their jobs. You cannot refuse to dispense a legal prescription on religious grounds and still call yourself a pharmacist. You cannot refuse to tough 51% percent of your patients and even be a doctor.

Furthermore, Catholic Health Australia's spokesman has this to say:

""We hope the upper house does not put Catholic hospitals in the position whereby we will be forced by law to operate in contradiction to our code of ethical standards," he said."

Fuck off. They're not your
ethical standards, they're your moral standards, and morality is not something that has been settled by long and careful debate between professional peers. It's something handed down to you from a pulpit by someone who had to go to a college to get indoctrinated into having their capacity for rational and logical thought warped, so that they can accept the spoutings of an anachronistic institution in Rome which holds sacred a book which has, over the centuries, had most of the good bits excised and core points of current dogma conveniently added.

It's just not good enough.

But heark, there is light in the tunnel, and this time it's not an oncoming dragon:

"Some doctors at Catholic hospitals have told
The Age they supported the clause because it was needed to protect women from fanatics."

Cheer to the hills! The actual medical professionals, instead of just the league of old, biggoted, bitter men in skirts, shows some sense!

Even better:

""The clause is there to stop the random fanatic sabotaging a woman's access to abortion," he said. "Most doctors are decent and honourable, and work around (a conscientious objection) to find a way that patients' needs are met. But some allow their consciences to trample over the rights of women, and it can lead to horrible outcomes.""

Well yes, exactly!

And, much further on (bad way to construct the article, in my pre-professional opinion), this gem:

"Health Minister Daniel Andrews said "effective referral" was medical best practice, as determined by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and recommended by the Victorian Law Reform Commission."

yes, it is. If you are unnable to perform a needed or requested service that is legal and does not violate other medical best practices, then refer on. Fundamental rule in psychology, medicine, you name it.

There is a large section of the community which is still trying to act as though the Enlightenment never happened, and "secular" is a concept that doesn't exist.

Can't we just have them declared a dangerous sect, and be done with it?

You don't have to be mad to listen to this, but it helps

Over at Mind Hacks, Vaughan has a very entertaining post on the mental health associations of heavy metal album covers.

Now, I'm not a big fan of this: It tends to trivialise some quite serious suffering and confuse the issue. But, then again, I'm not a big fan of heavy metal either.

What does really depress me (not-pun intended) is that there are some extremely cool album covers there, but the music will undeniably be shit. I used to have a
Cradle of Filth album cover as a desktop background, but got rid of it when I actually listened to some of their stuff. I couldn't look at it the same way again.

But, then there's Fields of The Nephillim to make up for it.

The unfortunate results of not proof-reading official communications

"The recycling bin has been introduced to help investigate ways to reduce costs and the environment"

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

It takes a dog owner to really understand

My partner and I daily play a game called "The Wolfhound test", in which we walk or drive past any station wagon or similar load-carrying vehicle, look at it critically and ask "Can you fit Wolfhounds in that?"

We currently have three, including the puppy, and the middle aged one, who is pure-blood, is abou 32" (if I remember correctly) at the shoulder, and is pressed hard by the current Commodore wagon.

And Holden have now released a range of "Sportwagon" Commodore wagons which would barely pass a Border Collie test. Bastards!

We're thinking that we'll be stuck with a small van.

You see, here's the thing: A station wagon is for what, exactly?

Answer: Carrying big loads, and other people, while driving a vehicle with car dynamics and car comforts. A ute is okay for loads that can get wet or withstand wind, and you only have one friend. A van is okay for bigger loads that need to be covered, but you can still only have one, maybe two, friends. 

And a 4WD vehicle, of the traditional kind like a Discovery or Land Cruiser, is just plain crap.

I mean, honestly: It's too tall to have decent dynamics and braking, it's so tall that it's fucking rude to other road users, who can't see past you, which makes you dangerous, it's too heavy and with aerodynamics too crap to not drain your wallet for fuel,  and it's got a small load space anyway, because it's short because it's supposed to be able to go off-road. A 4WD has two purposes, and two only: Going heavily off-road, or revealing to the world that you're arrogant, insecure and a bit thick.

So where does that leave the big dog owner who has friends and doesn't want to leave their dogs out in the open on a dual-cab ute because they're just stupid enough to try and jump off? Commodore or Falcon, and I'm worrying about Commodore these days. Even the halfway vehicles like Subaru Outback/Forester or Volvo XC90 suffer from load spaces too short. And height-wise? 

Yep, we're going to end up with a van.

Random comment...

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnamese national hero, was a pastry sous-chef in Paris and London!

I have just been watching The Hairy Biker's Cookbook and damn I want to ride around Vietnam eating everything in sight, now!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

How to solve the world's problems with one simple personality bug-fix.

I am seriously beginning to think that one of the biggest problems with the world today is the "I don't, so why should you?" mentality, also known as the "I do, so you bloody well will as well!" mentality. Can be referred to as the "I refuse to live and let live, because I'm a nosy, self-righteous, biggoted prick" mentality as well.

There are no shortage of examples:
  • Homophobes who try and get homosexuality outlawed or branded.
  • "Right-to-life" activists who refuse to honour the right of abortion clinic doctors to life.
  • Any door-to-door evangelist.
  • Any evangelist, actually.
  • Pretty much anybody who ever uses the phrase "family values" to justify anything.
  • And so on.
But nowhere, surely, is this illustrated in such a petty fashion as in a quote at the bottom of this article: iPod use causes rage amongst fellow commuters. (Courier Mail)

Although the title might suggest that too much sound leaking out is pissing people off, the actual point of the article is far more bafflingly WTF than that:

" "The non-users in this study, while understanding the need to 'escape'... seem to resent or take issue with this use because the PMD user fails to communally experience the aural soundscape," Mr Walsh said."

(Personal Music Device, in case you were wondering)

Communally... experience... aural... soundscape... YOU FECKING WHAT???

Now, honestly, apart from the tautology of "aural soundscape", are you seriously saying that people are annoyed because they're sitting on public transport and somebody doesn't want to listen to their conversation? I don't know if I'm experiencing more incredulous bafflement or depressing doom-of-the-human-race disappointment.

Commuter was quoted:

"I don't want to have a couple of things welded to my f---ing ears (so) that I can't hear anything else that's going on."

Fair enough, sir, that's your opinion and clearly you are a man of opinions at least as strong as my own, but... Your point?

You don't want to be cut off from everyone else, so iPods shit you, but this is relevant to everyone else how?

If someone started to groove along to the music and elbowed me in the floating ribs, I would be ticked off. If they started singing along, I may be moved to express an opinion on that point. If I could hear their personal choice and didn't agree with it, I would be annoyed if it was loud enough to be inescapable, but my first choice would be to grab my own headphones.

But being annoyed because somebody is sitting down, by themselves, and chooses to tune out? That's just petty.

This is, I strongly suspect, illustrative of why ideologies, predominantly religions but with a strong recent showing from anti-theistic political belief systems, have tried so very hard to fuck up the planet for the rest of us.

Link to Courier Mail article

N.B.: None of this is to be confused with anti-smoking or pro-helmet laws. These are based upon public health debate, not private interests.

Never let the bastards know you exist.

This is really unpleasantly sneakily nasty.

I get a lot of spam at my job number 2. A lot. As in, I had spam coming in between my email address being created and my computer being configured, a process of about five minutes.

I have sent literally nobody an email using that address, because I can't access it remotely, so I just use my gmail address.

And this morning, after a week of not being here, I had 85 "spam" and 25 "junk", or thereabouts.

So I'm quite aware of spam at the moment, and then I delete one message, and get a note saying that the sender has requested a read receipt, and do I want to send one?

For those of you who may not know: Spam doesn't just get sent to legitimate addresses. It gets shot-gunned to addresses, based upon likely addresses built up out of name databases. If you ever reply, however, or in some way confirm that this address actually works, then your address goes from being a may-as-well to a very valuable commodity, and you will never be free of spam for as long as you use that account.

The good part here is that receipts like this appear to be a Microsoft invention, or at least something that I have only ever encountered using Outlook. If you use a different program, particularly a web-based system, you probably don't need to worry.

Which basically means that the most vulnerable people are those in a uniform corporate IT environment.

As they didn't already have enough pain to be going on with.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Would it be too much to ask...

To be able to specify a national spelling dictionary on mobile phones? Hell, with Nokia being so networked, you should be able to connect to a Nokia server and download a different spelling, if they don't want to include all options. I'm sick of having to teach it words like "tyre" just because the Scandinavians appear to prefer USglish.

Search This Blog