Gender should not be a relevant criteria.

What kind of connection can I make from Calvin and Hobbes?

That’s the setup. Here’s the payoff:


Girls need protection from the actions of adults. Boys don’t need that protection because they’re tougher and can handle anything. Even a scalpel to the genitals, right?

Yes, I understand the humor, but I don’t find the extreme version of this thinking funny or compelling. Believing that the recipient’s gender determines the acceptability of a specific action is indefensible sexism. Equality considers human beings, not different standards based on whether the person has a penis or a vagina. This is as true with circumcision as it is with equal pay.

The government doesn’t stimulate competition.

Today’s Congressional hearings into the proposed Sirius-XM Merger will go well:

He can expect resistance. “What I’m concerned about now is whether we’re creating a monopolistic situation,” Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), who will chair the task force hearing, said in an interview yesterday. “I don’t think it will stimulate competition, and it could very well take away from the competition taking place now in the industry.”

With FCC hearings yet to be scheduled, the new Democratic-controlled Congress will get the first public whack at the debate. Conyers, a champion of liberal causes and a 42-year House veteran, called it “a great discussion, because it gets into the whole question of where the consumer comes in when these mergers take place. And too often recently, they’ve been taking place with too little concern for the people who are paying the freight.”

Of course. Business is all about screwing the little guy. Companies have unfettered control over customers. You and I are just pawns in the global game played by the few capitalist elites. Evidence to the contrary doesn’t matter. Because a situation might arise in which politicians customers could deem themselves harmed, we must prevent that slight chance from occurring. Guilty with no chance of proving innocence.

Such a champion of liberal causes is exactly the target audience for the guy I saw today wearing a “Say ‘No’ to a satellite radio monopoly” button. Simple enough to ignore facts.

It’s back? It was gone?

Does Rep. Greg Walden have a split personality?

Speaking to broadcasters yesterday, Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) of the House Telecommunications Subcommittee said he could envision the Supreme Court taking away the FCC’s powers over indecency on the airwaves. The FCC’s recent decisions on indecency are being challenged in court by three of the major TV networks.

Walden says that he supports an increase in FCC fines and the Commission’s powers, but says that the vague nature of past indecency rulings could give the courts the opening they need. …

At the NAB-sponsored conference in Washington D.C., Walden also said to expect more government control over ad content and pressure on TV violence. “Keep your hand next to the panic button. Advertising is likely to get blamed for everything. Forget personal responsibility. Paternal government is back.”

The First Amendment gives the Supreme Court all the opening it should need to fight censors like Rep. Walden. That it ignores its duty is only a symptom of the larger problem with government. He warns broadcasters that they need to be more proactive against paternal government while seeking to expand the power of that paternal government. How complicated is “Congress shall make no law…“?

Via: Fark

I reject evolution.

Not really, but my veganism could be perceived that way based on new research:

A drink of milk was off the menu for Europeans until only a few thousand years ago, say researchers from London.

Analysis of Neolithic remains, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests no European adults could digest the drink at that time.

University College London scientists say that the rapid spread of a gene which lets us reap the benefits of milk shows evolution in action.

If true, it demonstrates how adaptive biology is to one of the stranger ideas of the human mind, nursing after infancy, from the milk of another species.

Via: Boing Boing

How is answering the question avoiding it?

I’m not sure I understand the furor here.

President Bush encouraged governors Monday to support his call for changing the tax code to help more people buy private healthcare insurance, but did not address their pleas to increase funding for a healthcare program that insures millions of children of the working poor.

Bush avoided the question. Except, not so much.

“I’m looking forward to working with Congress on health care. I firmly believe … that states are often times the best place to reform systems and work on programs that meet needs,” he said.

I don’t think he believes, or at least his actions do not support that statement. However, his statement in this context is correct. National reform is necessary, but in the opposite direction from what I suspect the governors want. Sure, it’d be nice to get all of the benefits of covering people for your state without paying the bill yourself, at least not directly. (I’m ignoring the public vs. private debate for the moment.) But that’s not happening without taking from one to give to another. If it’s appropriate at all, the state is the highest level where it should be done with this issue.

Essentially, it comes down to this statement, but understood through reality instead of wishful thinking:

Gov. Jon Corzine, a New Jersey Democrat, warned that the administration’s budget promised illusory savings. “You end up paying for this in other ways — uncompensated care, emergency rooms,” Corzine said. “This is pay me now or pay me later.”

Every spending decision faces the same test. The only issue at stake is who is willing to face that truth. Gov. Corzine should look at his own budget rather than pawning blame onto the Bush administration.

Don’t steal the free.

I have no idea what the law would say, but if an organization leaves its WiFi connection unprotected, it should not be surprised that someone uses it. But should police confiscate computers from anyone using that connection outside of the property and/or outside of normal business hours?

Brian Tanner was sitting in his Acura Integra recently outside the Palmer Library playing online games when a Palmer police pulled up behind him.

The officer asked him what he was doing.

Tanner, 21, was using the library’s wireless Internet connection. He was told that his activity constituted theft of services and was told to leave. The next day, Sunday, police spotted him there again.

“It was kind of like, ‘Well gee whiz, come on,’ ” police Lt. Tom Remaley said.

The police officer confiscated Tanner’s laptop in order to inspect what he may have been downloading, Remaley said. Remaley on Friday said he hasn’t looked inside the computer yet; he’s putting together a search warrant application.

Okay, right or wrong, Mr. Tanner doesn’t take clues well. Does that justify taking his laptop without a warrant, to hold onto it until a warrant can be granted? I think not, particularly given the obvious fact that the library can track its usage through its log files. There is no need to search the computer to find out where he went and what he might’ve downloaded. This is not complicated.

More to the larger fact, the wireless connection was broadcast from a library. The library leaves the WiFi open during the day. It left it on at night. Is it reasonable for Mr. Tanner to assume that the connection was not left on intentionally, with the library’s administration unconcerned about his use? By mistake, it wasn’t turned off, and the library is (was?) in the process of putting the router on a timer. I don’t think it’s reasonable to believe Mr. Tanner could know this, absent some posted policy at the library or shown on the startup page for the library’s connection, as is common in hotels, for example. The burden to protect the connection when administrators don’t want it used is on the library’s staff.

Lt. Remaley offered one interesting quote regarding criminal prosecution:

But, “in this particular case you know he’s feeding off something that we know the city of Palmer pays for and there are requirements to use it,” Remaley said.

Again, I concede that the requirements might’ve been clear. The article does not say. But the city of Palmer pays for the service. How public is public? This might be a different analysis if the library was private, as it should be. But the taxpayers are funding this wireless. Barring some stated policy that he knowingly violated, and I don’t consider a police officer telling him to scram sufficient from what the article doesn’t state, Mr. Tanner has taught the city of Palmer a lesson in competence, not committed a crime.

For consideration, if the city of Palmer can’t correctly manage its WiFi connection, what makes anyone believe it can handle more important tasks better than private industry?

Source: Boing Boing

I love competition and choice.

I’m committed to the Xbox 360, but I’m not generally left lacking some title because of market pressure. (And with Gears of War, I win by committing to the 360.) This article explains that game publishers are responding to competition in the next gen console wars:

Screen Digest’s Next Generation Consoles: Games publishing, hardware analysis and forecasts to 2010 surveyed a number of major video game publishers and found that they’re taking different approaches to survive the tough video game landscape. “Publishers have responded by employing risk reduction strategies, including outsourcing, releasing games on as many platforms as possible (including handheld and last generation consoles), making sequels to popular titles and producing games based on popular movies,” states Screen Digest.

I wonder how a central planner would assess the next generation video game console market. Am I screwed by too many (3) choices so much that I’m paralyzed? No, but I don’t think that would stop a central planner from offering one and only one video game console, if I got a video game console at all. Still, even after betting on one, I’m left with the choices that gamers with other systems get because the market demands it. I’m not forced to buy anything, but if I want a particular game, I’m probably going to get it because publishers want to survive and make money, not screw me with the highest possible price. I love capitalism.

The law must protect the outliers.

I missed this last week, but the Virginia General Assembly passed what should be a thought-provoking bill:

Virginia lawmakers passed a bill called “Abraham’s Law” yesterday after agreeing that 14 is the appropriate age for a teenager with a life-threatening condition to have a hand in making medical decisions.

The bill is named after Starchild Abraham Cherrix, 16, who won a court battle last summer to forgo chemotherapy and instead treat his lymphatic cancer with alternative medicine.

A judge had threatened to force Abraham to take conventional treatments and to take him away from his parents, who faced jail for allowing him to end chemotherapy and use alternative treatments. A compromise allowed Abraham to give up chemotherapy as long as he was treated by an oncologist who is board-certified in radiation therapy and interested in alternative treatment.

A 14-year-old is legally allowed to reject conventional medical treatment for a life-threatening illness. This is wholly appropriate, in my opinion, when viewed with the reality that minors are not automatically incompetent and the perspective of Mr. Cherrix’s battle last year. I’m glad to see the General Assembly acknowledging such rights.

Looking forward, if a 14-year-old can reject treatment in a life-threatening situation, how can we continue to assume that infants not facing a life threatening illness, or any illness at all to be more specific, should not be protected by default from circumcision? Essentially, the General Assembly seems to be saying that neither parents nor the state own the body of a minor. So what gives? Clearly parental “rights” have limits. Why is there a limit when there is a life-threatening illness but not when there is no illness?

Supporters of routine infant circumcision, or rather supporters of permitting parents to make their son’s decision for him, believe this issue rests on the child’s willingness and ability to consent. If the child is unable to consent, as would apparently be the case for a 13-year-old under this new legislation, the parents may make his decision they believe is in his best interest. But the standard focus should be on what a reasonable person would choose, if he could choose for himself. If nothing else, the existence of someone like Mr. Cherrix proves that common opinion does not mean universal. We could assume what he wants, but we’d be wrong. If individual liberty is to mean anything where the body is involved, it must be protected in all permanent medical decisions. This is particularly essential when the intervention is in no way medically indicated.

We can assume what an infant male would choose based on society, but there’s a significant chance we’d be wrong. The low incidence of adults choosing circumcision if they were spared as children should demonstrate that. Society was 100% wrong in my case. The law was wrong to allow it then. It is wrong to allow it today. It will be wrong to allow it tomorrow.

Source: Below the Beltway, via Kip

Only Evil Empires Choose Those Colors

This is the attitude I like to see going into the start of Spring Training games:

“I hate the Mets,” said Brett Myers, who made it clear it was more about the uniform than individual players. “I want to beat them more than anyone else. What we need to do is make sure none of their fans get in our building. We shouldn’t sell tickets to Mets fans.”

I second that notion. I have extra reasons to hate the dreadful orange and blue combination, of course. But, yeah, I hate the Mets more than anyone.

I also think it’s a splendid idea for the Phillies to not sell tickets to Mets fans. If you show up at the ballpark wearing Mets gear, no tickets for you. If you call from a New York metro area code, no tickets for you. If your credit card has a New York metro zip code, no tickets for you. Just like there are local blackout restrictions for television, teams should be able to implement targeted non-local blackout restrictions on ticket sales.

Major League Baseball would never allow it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a brilliant idea. Wonderful thinking, Brett.

Via Balls, Sticks, & Stuff

Recycling December’s news only promotes an agenda.

John Gray, of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus fame, on circumcision:

Dear John: I would like to know how you feel about circumcision. Do you think we should allow this society to continue to mutilate our babies? How does that affect them later in life? – Cutting Remarks, in Seattle, Wash.

Dear Cutting: Current research shows there is no valid health reason for circumcision. I am unaware, however, of any research on circumcision that demonstrates traumatic effects.

He’s correct, of course, that there is no valid health reason for (pre-emptive) circumcision (on a non-consenting individual). He doesn’t imply this, so I’m merely extending beyond his words, but the lack of research on traumatic effects does not mean they don’t exist. This seems obvious to me, but I’ve engaged in enough conversations in which someone has said something like “if it caused harm, they would’ve studied it by now.” Not if you’re convinced through years of hearing nothing but glowing reviews, with negative consequences dismissed as fringe inaccuracies.

For example:

Circumcision may provide even more protection against AIDS than was realized when two clinical trials in Africa were stopped two months ago because the results were so clear, according to studies being published today.

Read the rest of the article and you’ll find nothing about potential negative consequences of this announcement. There isn’t even a mention that the study did not involve men circumcised as infants. It’s amazing that the story even mentions the original announcement in December of the trial’s tentative results. The first version¹ published on Friday did not include it, instead leaving the impression that this was more good news about the supposed wonders of circumcision. That’s different than a fuller evaluation of the actual results. That puts the decision to breathlessly announce the trial findings irresponsible. Anyone want to suggest that further evaluation revealing a lower “protection” than previously thought wouldn’t be buried on page A-27?

When reading or hearing these stories, remember two key points. Infants are not having sex. Circumcision only provides potential protection from HIV if the male is having unprotected sex with an HIV-positive woman. No sane person would argue that infants should start having sex or that circumcised men do not need to worry about their sexual practices. This news, however interesting, is irrelevant to the reality of what we should and will teach our children. There is a debate to be had about Africa, where HIV is a true epidemic, but that is exclusive to that situation. From what I’ve read, I still contend that education and economic development are more important. However, if some think circumcision is useful, I can accept that, as long as it’s offered exclusively to adult men who consent. Anything else is unethical.

¹ Unfortunately, I did not save a copy of that article. The New York Times has since updated the article to include a reference to December’s news.