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Archives for : March2011

Politics and Religion: What does it mean for them to mix?

With the NSW State election just gone (and a landslide Coalition win,) I started to look around at some of the other candidates that didn’t make it in, especially those from the Christian Democratic Party. The way I see it is, CDP are extremely unlikely to get any seat, but how bad is it?

After reading an article on Christian Today about Peter Madden, the local CDP member for Sydney (I’m not in the Sydney electorate,) I thought it’d be interesting to see how he actually went. Turns out, he was absolutely slaughtered.

After doing some Googling to find out what policies he actually stood for, to try and find out where it went so wrong, I came across a news.com.au article about what he stood for. Upon reading the comments, I was reminded once and once again what the view of many secularists out there is: politics and religion shouldn’t mix. My attention suddenly turned from one man’s loss to “what does it mean for politics and religion to mix?”

The question has to be raised, because there are many scenarios in which it can be said to “mix.”

  • A particular religion or religious group is in control of a country or area. Modern day examples are Islamic dominated countries, where the law, for all intensive purposes, says you have to be Islamic. A historical example is the Catholic church throughout history that had more power than a single church should, and mis-used that power.
  • A single religious group has a majority in the number of representatives in a democratic government.
  • A Member of Parliament who is of a particular religion, and because the person is of a particular religion, their conscious vote issues are different from the majority.
The first one in the list I am dead set against: no government should be completely controlled by a religion, a government is there to represent everyone. It should never force that religion upon people, as what happens still today in many Islamic dominated countries.
The second one I don’t think it likely to happen (especially in Australia). If it ever did happen somewhere, I wouldn’t be against it: those people have been voted in by the people, so if that’s what the result is, it’s what the people want. (Of course, it does rely on a completely fair election, which may not always happen in certain countries.)
The third one is what happens the most in developed countries such as Australia, and are what people call a mix of politics and religion. Though I am struggling to see what is wrong with it. The way I see it is, if a Member of Parliament is Christian, and because of this votes against key issues such as abortion, euthanasia, legalised prostitution, and many other key issues, should they be told they’re not allowed to because they’re “mixing politics and religion?” They aren’t bringing their religion to politics, but their conscious votes are likely to be influenced by the fact that, for example, they are Christian (granted, there may quite well be Christian MP’s who have different views, but I think the majority would share fairly common views.)
The way I see it is, people who yell “Politics and Religion shouldn’t mix” are scared. Their underlying motives for saying that is: they don’t want to see a Christian MP get elected. Of course they don’t, it’s completely understandable, but it seems to be almost forgetting one thing. We live in a democratic country: if a Christian MP get’s elected in, they were elected because members of the public elected them in. Why should a single person be able to yell “politics and religion shouldn’t mix,” when the MP was elected by the public?
Just because someone is religion shouldn’t exclude them from running for parliament. If they were excluded, then MP’s wouldn’t evenly represent the whole country or state, they’d just be representing the people that claim that politics and religion shouldn’t mix.

Apple on standard hardware: is it anti-competitive?

With the school responsible for computing subjects at my University recently getting a Mac lab, with Windows and Linux virtual machines, I’ve realised what Apple has known all along: if you want all 3 OS’, you need to purchase Apple hardware. Windows is licensed in such a way that you can put it on pretty much any hardware you want, and Linux, is well, licensed in such a way you can do pretty much whatever you want with it (or at least you can compared to Windows and Mac OS X.)

I want to pose the question, should Apple be made by competition watchdogs to license Mac OS X on standard, non-Apple hardware? Is forcing someone, who may need access to Mac OS X for whatever reason, have to purchase expensive hardware* from Apple themselves? Some may say that it’s a bit extreme, but there are more extreme antitrust cases that are actually ridiculous and have gone ahead.

I can of course understand Apple’s concerns, the latter of which is valid. Firstly, they’d lose heaps of money. Secondly, they’d have to increase support. The first one is just something I think they’d have to deal with (especially in light of the Microsoft antitrust incident). Personally, I think what they are doing is anti-competitive. With the second point, they can of course do what Microsoft does and delegate support over to the hardware manufacturer.

I’m just saying, I’ve lowered my prejudice against Apple quite a lot in the past year, and (as per the asterisk below) am fine with them selling expensive hardware (it’s the customers choice if they want to buy it or not,) and I wouldn’t mind running Mac OS X, but I simply can’t afford to buy a Mac just for that purpose when I already have a good desktop and 2 laptops.

* Admittedly, Apple hardware is quite good quality, so in some aspects I can understand the hardware been a little more expensive, I’m not criticising them for that, but there are cases when people just don’t need that hardware.

VoIP on Android in Australia

With all honest, a little while ago I thought that VoIP on a mobile device was quite simply too much effort, and would ultimately cost more in maintaining it than the savings you would get. Whilst I still think there is some truth to this, I did start to take a serious look at getting VoIP on my Android handset.

Why? Well, my contract with Optus expired yesterday, and I thought it’s time to move. Currently, I haven’t made a switch (though have changed from the grandfathered $59 cap that was quite bad value these days to a new $29 cap) to another provider, but do plan to. Basically, I want more data (on the $59 cap I had 500MB, remembering that it was an old plan and $350 calls, and on the $29 I get 200MB and $180 calls), and I don’t care as much about calls, though I at least want to be able to make some calls. So I had a look around, and saw that Virgin Mobile (who use the Optus network) have a $29 cap with 1GB of data, though only $60 worth of calls and unlimited texts, and they have a special on at the moment where you get $10 off for the first 10 months (and it’s not on contract, but if you leave before the 10 months you have to pay the discount back, or at least that’s the way I read the conditions.) I thought, with that much data, it’d be more viable to use VoIP for outgoing calls most of the time, and it has it’s advantages because I can put $10 on, and it won’t expire after a month (maybe 6 months or a year, depending on the provider.) So, I played around with VoIP applicatons on my phone

Unfortunately, I didn’t really get anywhere with any of the VoIP. I tried to use sipdroid to link in with my home VoIP provider PennyTel, and whilst I could make a call, there was no audio (apparently a known issue of sipdroid, but it doesn’t really help me that it’s just known, if it’s not fixed then it’s no good to me.) Sipdroid would have been really nice, as it integrates nicely with the dialer: dial the number as you normally would, if VoIP is available, it will intercept the call and make it using your VoIP service, otherwise it will just use the normal mobile service.

The second application I tried was fring. A bit like Skype, but cheaper, and no desktop app. They had a test call service (very similar to skype test call,) so I thought I’d give it ago. It worked, not heaps well, but well enough that I’d be happy to pay for fringout credit and give it ago on a real phone. Bad move it was, fringout did not work well at all. When I did some test calls at home, I could sort of hear the other person (though there was a lot of echo, even when we were in different rooms,) but they couldn’t hear me at all. Definitely a lot worse than the test call that I made, and a waste of $10 as I have nothing to do with the fringout credit now.

Finally, the last thing I tried was to use my SIP provider that I used with sipdroid in fring, as the fring app supports other networks. This was the most successful I’ve been. I got it working with a friend at Uni, but with a 3 second delay (at least,) and sub-par voice quality. What was worse, was that it would only work with his phone, and calling other people didn’t get any audio at all.

So, here I am, $10 poorer from purchasing practically useless fringout credit, and still no VoIP on my phone. It was worth a try, but on the other hand, I actually probably wouldn’t use $60 in a month for voice calls if I went with the Virgin cap with 1GB of data, and that particularly cap rolls over unused credit (except data) to the next month, which is quite unusual for mobile caps.