Archive for April, 2007

Churches Should not have Carte Blanche

Friday, April 27th, 2007

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Some Christians in Vancouver are objecting to the requirement that a church obtain a social services permit in order to operate a drop-in lunch program (Canadian Christianity Today). Their argument is that allowing only activities like worship services without a permit while requiring a permit for social services constitutes an improper implicit definition of Christianity by the government. This is a flawed argument.

This argument assumes that freedom of religion allows religious organizations to engage in any activity that they consider an aspect of their religion, exempt from regulation that is applicable to non-religious organizations. This is neither good policy nor the law. Freedom of religion allows people to believe and profess whatever they like, without restriction, but activities are subject to regulation since they potentially interfere with the rights of others. To take an extreme example, a religion whose ritual involves human sacrifice is not exempt from the laws against homicide, even if its adherents sincerely believe in the centrality of human sacrifice. Religious organizations are entitled to have their activities regulated on the same basis as everyone else - that is, they are entitled not to be discriminated against because they are religious or because they adhere to one religion and not another - but the mere fact that their purpose is religious does not exempt them from regulation.

Is it Microsoft or the New YorK Times?

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

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The New York Times has a
on the negotiations between Microsoft and the European Commission, which has found Microsoft to be an illegal monopoly. The article reports that Microsoft is defending its demand that it receive royalties for the use of its “”confidential server software code”, which, the article claims, Microsoft has been ordered to disclose to competitors.

This is at least the second time that the New York Times has got this wrong. What the EU ordered in its March 2004 ruling was that Microsoft disclose the protocols for its servers so that others could write software that would interoperate with Microsoft’s. They did not order Microsoft to disclose any software. Microsoft has tried to muddle the issue by claiming that the only way to provide this information is to disclose its source code, but everyone knowledgable about computer networks, including the European Commission, knows that that is a bald-faced lie.

What I wonder is, are the New York Times’ technology writers so ignorant that they do not understand the difference between source code and documentation of protocols, or have they never read anything other than Microsoft press releases?