Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"My bottom is tired"

Yet another choice quote from my three year old.

This one of course, delivered as I am carrying him from house to house at the end of a long evening of trick or treating.

Just for that, he owes me a few Peanut Butter Cups...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Objection Overruled

Or "Every sperm is sacred"

Alice pointed me to an article about the Pope pushing "conscientious objection" as what "true" Catholic pharmacists should use to prevent people from getting pharmaceuticals their doctors believe they should have. Numerous religious leaders have been pushing this as a religious freedom issue, but I believe this is another area where one person's rights can do serious harm to another person.

The drug most commonly brought up in this discussion is the morning after pill. This is often claimed by objecting pharmacists to be an abortion pill, but that is patently false. Here is a quick bio refresher. After sex, sperm survive at most seven days, in that time they have to find their way to the egg and fertilize it. This does not create a human being yet. There are several more things that must happen, and only rarely do, before this embryo can have a chance to become a child. After becoming fertilized, the egg needs to embed itself in the uterine lining. This happens in, on average, less than 25% of fertilized eggs.

The standard birth control pill does the following (from Go Ask Alice):

The synthetic estrogen in the combination pill works to prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg. If no egg is released, there is nothing to be fertilized by sperm and the woman cannot get pregnant. In addition, the synthetic estrogen works by suppressing the body's normal hormonal pattern (which involves one egg being developed per menstrual cycle and released for possible fertilization). The synthetic progestin (present in both types of pills) works to:
  1. thicken the cervical mucus which hinders the movement of sperm,
  2. inhibit the egg's ability to travel through the fallopian tubes,
  3. partially suppress the sperm's ability to unite with (and thereby fertilize) the egg, and
  4. alter the uterine lining so (in the event that an egg is released and fertilized) the egg will likely not be able to implant into the uterine wall. (A fertilized egg would then be discharged with the rest of the menstrual blood.)

The morning after pill is a much stronger dose of the synthetic progestin in order to rush the last effect. This causes the egg, like 75% of fertilized eggs, to fail to attach, thus preventing (not ending) a pregnancy.

As far as reasons for use of this, and the other drugs the Pope and others would like to see effectively banned from sale, they are legion. Many women aren't healthy enough for a pregnancy. Others have been raped or are in an abusive relationship. The pharmacists have no knowledge of this, and don't have a right to such knowledge. The prescribing doctor should have made all of the objections already. The doctor knows about the patient's living status, everything leading up to the prescription, and should have already discussed this with the patient. If the pharmacist has questions, feel free to call the doctor, but the doctor should be the arbiter of care, not the pharmacist.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Poli from the Latin means many, tics - little blood sucking insects

Figured I might as well start here (whats the worst that can happen?). Like I have said before I consider myself a proud liberal. However, I believe this word/label is over-used and no longer means what it is used to mean. I personally believe that the word should take from its Latin root - Liber. Thus I believe that a true liberal believes in their core in freedom. I also think that in order to allow such freedom, one must keep an open mind about other's beliefs.

If I say that I have the right to live my life as I choose, who am I to tell someone else how to live. Unfortunately, many who wear the liberal label these days, or are given it, are not willing to do that. This makes them fanatics, not liberals, no matter what causes they are fanatical about. As Nietzsche said "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster."

I believe, however, that with freedom comes responsibility, and this is where government comes in. Unfortunately, it is the (apparent) nature of man that when presented with total freedom, what emerges is anarchy. Society cannot survive true freedom. Thus rules and laws are put in place which, if done properly, curtail some freedoms, but enhance the lives of all. I believe that a government is the right entity to create and enforce these laws, not for authoritarian reasons, but to protect the members of the society. This is why I believe the government's sole purpose should be protection of its citizens, both from outside dangers and from one another. Anything else the government does should be in support of these two goals.

This means that I think the government has the right to impose taxes. It has the right to engage in diplomacy with other societies/governments. It has the right to create a military. It has the right to create statutes prohibiting harm between members of its society. It has the right to try and prosecute those who break those statutes. These are the only reasons for it to exist.

It does not, however, have the right to restrain society members' rights unless the exercise of those rights infringe on someone else's rights. This is where the real trickiness comes in. A good pair of examples of this are the current debates over gay marriage and public smoking bans.

In the gay marriage debate, I believe that government oversteps its bounds when it says two people who love each other cannot be allowed to take care of one another just because they happen to share the same sex. One's ability to sign a contract saying they will take care of another, in sickness and health and everything else has no bearing, whatsoever, on anyone else's ability to do the same for someone else. I view civil marriage, which is all the government should be dealing with, as a legal contract between two people. Religions can ban gay marriage all they like; that doesn't remove a person's rights.

Public smoking bans, however, are a different beast entirely. I believe that the government does have the right to institute these. This is because when you smoke in a public space, you are, according to a large body of scientific evidence (and personal experience), causing others harm. Smoking where it is not going to cause innocent bystanders harm is your own prerogative; I think you should be able to do most anything you like to yourself. But when you involve others, unwillingly, in your personal choice, to their detriment, it infringes on their rights and government has the duty to say whose right takes precedence.

This is only scratching the surface, but I think I have bored you enough.

Friday, October 26, 2007


It is generally agreed that "Hello" is an appropriate greeting because if you entered a room and said "Goodbye," it could confuse a lot of people

Welcome to the dusty corners of my brain. I am a mid/upper 20s programmer from the Midwest. Born and raised a Catholic, I am now an agnostic Taoist. Politically, I am a liberal (from the Latin liber – free), which includes an open mind for other ways of doing things.

My Family

I consider myself to be a very lucky man. I have a beautiful wife that I love more than anything. She is my better half. Our three year old son is one of the sweetest kids I have seen. And, if I do say so myself, he is brilliant. He started wanting to use my laptop before he was one. He became obsessed with Windows Media Player and iTunes by the time he was 18 months (he loved the visualizations, "flowers" as he called it). He now knows more about how to use them than I do. He knows how to read about 100 words, not just through memorization of the books.


As I said before, I am a programmer. I'm not just a programmer for a job, I enjoy it. If I am not reading, playing with my son, or playing a game, I'm likely hacking some small project together, studying a new programming language (how I met my wife), or reading up about other technologies. I believe in open source, although I am torn philosophically between free as in beer and free as in speech. I am a Linux user by choice and a Windows user by necessity; I don't use Macs for a number of reasons, which my wife harangues me about regularly...

My Blog

I have a number of reasons for starting this blog. A large part of it is peer pressure. Almost everyone I know is a blogger now. My wife has been doing it well (and much better than I'm sure I will) for a while now. Many of my friends have blogs. And most of the people I admire in the industry do as well. I also just need a place to rant sometimes and let other shoot me down and show me where I am being an idiot. I also try to keep up to date on what is happening in the world and sometimes I find something that needs to be echoed far and wide and I just don't have the vocal cords for that.

I want this blog to be an open place for people to talk. Like I said before, I try to be open minded. If you think what I am saying is wrong, please shoot me down and show me your point of view. My opinion is based on the knowledge I have; if you have better information, I will appreciate being enlightened. But please keep it civil. Too often these days what once could be civil discussions break down to "You're just a right-wing nut job/war mongerer/etc." "You're just a leftist snob/You hate our country/etc." That's not what this blog is for.