Lawrence v. Texas

Frank Boosman has a piece about the oral arguments before the supreme court concerning a challenge to Texas’ outlawing of sodomy by homosexuals.

A previous NPR article to the one Frank mentions (either earlier in the same day or the previous day) also included an interview with a member of the religious right wing movement. He was being pursued about his belief that sodomy between homosexuals propagates the spread of AIDS which is in turn a burden on tax payers due to increased health costs – thus there is not only a moral argument but also a financial one too. The interviewer went on to remind the commentator that AIDS is also passed by sex between heterosexuals and as such shouldn’t the same argument be applied to them too. I swear I heard the right wing commentator retort that sex between heterosexuals should be outlawed too.

There we have it – the end is in sight for the right wing christian conservatives !

Posted under Personal

This post was written by awk on March 31, 2003

SARS in Hong Kong

Asia Times has a good article on the progression of SARS in Hong Kong and some background too.

I have a friend who was visiting Hong Kong last week, but I haven’t had a chance to speak to him yet (as far as I know he’s not unwell). I also lived in Hong Kong for two years.

I suspect that Hong Kong is undergoing quite a lot of what can probably only be described as panic. It’s always been a very nervous and jumpy community. Whilst I was living there a local bakery chain which offered people coupons with each purchase towards a future purchase of a wedding cake experience what can only be described as a ‘run on its bank’ when customers heard a rumour the bakery was going out of business. Hordes of people showed up at the outlets to redeem their vouchers for products immediately in case they became worthless. This even meant some people ended up with boxes of cakes they could not eat and would undoubtedly be stale before they could be consumed. The panic even spread to other business (which also had similar coupon practices) owned by the same holding group . The company was actually in fine shape – or at least it was until they had to start handing out free cake.

It’s equally absolutely no surprise that the PRC media has suppressed any reporting of SARS in Guangdong province to north of Hong Kong. It’s often been observed that Chinese agricultural practices of close proximity between humans, pigs and chickens (pigs & chickens being the main meat source for most Chinese) is a fine breeding ground for hybrid avian viruses to make the leap between species. Poverty in mainland China means farms are small to the extent of one building/yard area housing both humans and animals. I also can’t imagine a Chinese tradition for dealing with sickness; that of ‘hawking’ and spitting large amounts of phlegm on to the ground (better out than in ?) is doing anything to hinder the spread of the virus amongst PRC communities. Conversely most (particularly well to do) Hong Kong chinese are fastidious in the extreme when it comes to personal hygene and are undoubtedly doing all they can to avoid infection.

Posted under Personal

This post was written by awk on March 28, 2003

The fog of war

Good BBC article on Wartime Journalism

Posted under Personal

This post was written by awk on March 27, 2003

Grammar

My mother reads my blog and has from time to time had to correct my grammar – clearly the president needs my mother :

“We cannot know the duration of this war; yet, we know it’s outcome,” Bush said. “We will prevail. The Iraqi regime will be disarmed. The Iraqi regime will be ended. The Iraqi people will be free. And our world will be more secure and peaceful.

…regime will be ended ??? is either the president (or heaven forbid the American public) unable to comprehend the following alternative :

The reign of the Iraqi regime will be finished. Or
The Iraqi regime will be destroyed.

Not to mention that the delivery of this line was so stilted and broken (I’m guessing the gaps were where the lines were broken on the small cue cards in front of the president). For example the first sentence was more like

“We cannot know the …. pause … duration of this war”

Regardless of whether you agree with him or not Tony Blair has both finer delivery talents and far better writers c.f.. his speech to parliament last week.

Posted under Personal

This post was written by awk on March 25, 2003

Look To Windward

I pulled my copy of Iain M. Banks Look To Windward from my bookshelf last night for ‘bedtime reading’. I had never noticed until last night that it is dedicated ‘To the veterans of the Gulf War’

Posted under Personal

This post was written by awk on March 22, 2003

Ready for Peace ?

Bob Herbert’s op-ed piece in the New York Times is well worth a read.

Posted under Personal

This post was written by awk on March 19, 2003

The British Parliamentary System

Robin Cooks resignation from the British Cabinet today is an interesting time to contrast the different systems of democracy between the UK & US.

The US cabinet consists largely of nominated individuals who are called upon to serve the country by the president and generally do not hold any other elected office (or if they did they resigned it as was the case with Tom Ridge). The British cabinet however consists almost exclusively of elected members of parliament who retain their seats whilst continuing to serve in the cabinet.

Disagreement between UK Cabinet members is not uncommon and is often concluded in public (even if it didn’t start that way) with the resignations of one or more members. However having given up their cabinet position they continue to sit in Parliament and can often remain a ‘thorn in the side’ of the government – even if they are members of the same party (It remains to be seen how much of thorn Robin Cook will be – however he’s well respected in the House of Commons).

Here in the US such dissension seems to be less public and in any case the ‘retiring’ member of the cabinet rarely retains a highly public position from which they can continue to attack the administration. There were some rumors a few months ago that Colin Powell was a ‘dove’ in the administration in contrast to Rumsfelds more ‘hawkish’ position. From todays viewpoints such comments seem either :

a) Untrue
b) The positions have changed (i.e. Powell is now more of a hawk – since I see no dove-like tendencies from Donald Rumsfeld)
c) Colin Powell remains unhappy with the prospect of war with Iraq but remains silent

So does disagreement exist within the Bush administration but nobody wants to return to a ‘quiet civilian’ life ? Or does the President manage to rule his henhouse with such selection that he’s surround by ‘yes’ ‘men’ (and what does that mean for policy making) ?

Posted under Personal

This post was written by awk on March 17, 2003

Collar & Tie

Courtesy of the BBC “Man wins tie sex ruling”

Dress codes are pretty (ok very) relaxed in the software industry in most places. However working in Hong Kong for two years meant that I did see the ‘other side’. All of my colleagues wore a collar and tie (usually a suit & tie) all of the time – casual Fridays didn’t exist either. Whilst I’m fine with more formal attire when the situation demands it (say customer visits) I really wasn’t too keen to wire suit & tie in the office five days a week.

My compromise was to wear ‘french collar’ shirts (i.e.. a banded collar) which don’t ‘support’ the ‘attachment’ of a tie, and waistcoats (usually bright ones – I have quite a collection 8-) It was either appropriate or my management just couldn’t quite work out how to say anything since no-one ever commented.

Posted under Work

This post was written by awk on March 11, 2003

Toolbars

I’ve been wanting to improve the preferences dialogs in Deck so that instead of 3 (or more) individual dialogs with lots of options there is one dialog with a toolbar. Something similar to the Preferences in most other Mac OS X apps (such as Mail or System Prefs). However I can’t just use Cocoa since Deck is an entirely Carbon C/C++ app and integrating this much Cocoa would be a pain. And besides the Jaguar HIView classes include a fully customizable toolbar view you can use from Carbon.

It took a little bit of headscratching but I got there in the end, and I created a sample app you can download here. It’s based on the Carbon Toolbar sample Apple ships with their developer tools.

Posted under Work

This post was written by awk on March 8, 2003

Sakoman joins Apple

Widely reported around the place this morning is the fact that Steve Sakoman (part of my management chain when I was at Be) has now rejoined Apple. He’s not alone at Apple, there are at least three other former Be employees (or former close associates) who’ve been at Apple for between 1-2 years.

Of course now we’ll have lots more wild speculation about what Apple’s up to, mostly I predict it’ll be centered around handhelds since Steve most recently worked at Palm, and during his last tenure was part of the original Newton team. However we should not forget that Steve’s time at Palm was after the initial development of Palms current crop of handhelds and we’ve yet to see what product will be directly developed from the technology Be developed, furthermore Steve’s original vision of the Newton was not the Newton that eventually shipped. He also spent some time at Zenith, and SGI working on the N64 project.

It’ll be interesting to see if other former Be employees who moved to Palm now feel it’s not the place for them either and also leave (either to join Steve or simply to do something else new).

Posted under Work

This post was written by awk on March 5, 2003