Colin's Journal

Colin's Journal: A place for thoughts about politics, software, and daily life.

February 13th, 2003

On the differences between libertarianism and liberalism

Matthew Yglesias has an excellent post on why liberals should not use libertarian arguments, and so helps, at least for me, to define the differences between them. The example subject he chooses is that of government policy discouraging homosexuality, and how libertarians think that the state should not be attempting to influence peoples sexuality, whereas liberals would argue that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality.

The argument that liberals should not use the libertarian position is for me difficult. The problem is that I agree with both positions, so supporting the libertarian view is not in anyway a dilution of my liberal views. I imagine that a large number of people, who would describe themselves as liberal, would also tend to agree that it’s not the governments place to regulate relationships in this way. While politics inevitably ends up dealing with issues of morality, it should be clear by now, that there is no place for legislation on the nature of relationships between consenting adults.

The social issue of reducing, and it could be hoped eliminating, discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is not harmed by stating that it is not the governments role to regulate adult relationships. Legislation that criminalise such discrimination can be supported by those that argue against the government trying to regulate relationships, on the basis that the legislation is extending that argument of non-interference into the world of work. A company discriminating in hiring, is in effect, the same as a government discouraging homosexuality through legislation, in that both acts create a society that is intolerant and harmful to gays. The scale of the effect is certainly different, with the government legislation being far more damaging, but it’s essentially the same question of imposing a particular moralistic view of relationships on others.

February 12th, 2003

Frozen hair & radio stations

It was rather cold this morning. So cold in fact that, within the short time it takes me to walk down the road, any dampness that might have been at room temperature before would freeze. It is a strange feeling to find sharp, crispy, strands of hair upon your head while waiting for a street car, although thankfully no damage seems to have resulted…

A couple of recommendations for anyone looking for radio stations to listen to on-line. Advert free and good listening:

February 10th, 2003

The long road to valid HTML

On the seventh day he rested, for what he created seemed OK, at least as far as he could tell. The next day was a work day however, so it wasn’t until he got home and updated his weblog software to produce validating HTML that he was reminded, once again, of the perils of releasing software.

Despite my confident pronouncements that version 2.1 of SimpleTAL would output valid HTML, I had, I’m sorry to admit, made an omission. You see for HTML to be valid it requires a document type declaration, and version 2.1 of SimpleTAL, like all those before it, would swallow any document type declaration present in the template.

The good news is that the fix was trivial, and so I also took the opportunity to fix a few other oversights, like comments in HTML, and processing instructions in XML. The new release, version 2.2, does now definitely outputs valid HTML; I’m using it for this very weblog, and this weblog now validates.

February 9th, 2003

Bug fix release of SimpleTAL

I’ve just uploaded a new release, version 2.1, of SimpleTAL. This release fixes a defect in the HTML compilation that meant that some HTML templates could never be valid HTML, and that the output of those templates would never be valid HTML.

The problem was that, prior to this release, all open tags that had TAL attributes had to always have a corresponding close tag. In HTML 4.01 there are several elements (e.g. img) that are forbidden to have close tags, and so the choice was either use invalid HTML that contained close tags, or not use TAL in those elements.

In SimpleTAL version 2.1, HTML templates can now have TAL attributes on open tags, for elements that are forbidden to have close tags, that have no corresponding close tags. Additionally HTML elements that are not allowed to have close tags will have them removed from the template output. More details can be found in the notes, and the new version obtained from the download page.

February 8th, 2003

Flaming marshmallow balrogs

I saw this on the Why Do They Call Me Mr Happy weblog, and thought no more of it. Last night I mentioned in passing, and no-one else had seen it. So, as a service to all sugar coated balrog fans, here’s the competition you wish you had entered.

February 7th, 2003

Attempt to fix display problems in IE 5.5

I’ve updated my XSLT templates to now include <pre> tags around code samples. This should make the code examples mentioned throughout the SimpleTAL pages render correctly in IE 5.5, and possibly other browsers that don’t implement style sheets fully.

February 5th, 2003

EU Tax harmonisation explained

Every few months the issue of harmonising taxation across the EU crops up, and when ever it does it usually gets denounced pretty quickly from most sides. It’s one of those subjects that no-one seems to be in favour of, and yet it still keeps coming back.

I’ve finally found someone putting forward a good reason as to why tax harmonisation may be a good thing, and it has nothing to do with the usual reason given, that of unfair tax competition. Written by the Edward Troup, the head of tax strategy at Simmons & Simmons, this article in the FT explains the problems with the current situation.

Although there is freedom of movement across the EU most people end up a resident of one country, and if they move to another country they become residents there, and so pay income tax there. Most people don’t change residency from one country to another very often, and there are rules in place in each country that determine when you class as a resident for tax purposes. If you are a company however it’s very common to have different parts of you in different EU countries on a permanent basis. It’s also not clear, especially if your customers are also in multiple EU states, where you earn the profit that countries wish to tax. The EU has a common market, so in theory it shouldn’t matter where you are in the EU, you can conduct business everywhere. The European Court has the task of ensuring that this fundamental right of access to the free market is upheld, and so (borrowing from the article) when Germany says that you can not pay interest owed on loans in an another country out of earnings from Germany, it acts and limits this ruling to only countries outside the EU.

I’m a strong supporter of the common market. It is an important part of securing the peaceful future of Europe. It gives us more choices, in things to purchase, places to work and live, and brings a greater variety to life. So when the issue of tax harmonisation comes up again I’m going try and find out exactly what kind of tax harmonisation is being proposed, because it might turn out that I don’t appose it after all.

February 5th, 2003

More SimpleTAL news

It’s been at the back of my mind to change how local variables are implemented in SimpleTAL/ES for a while now. The implementation used in 2.0 goes back to my first ever version of SimpleTAL, and was a bit of a hack. I’ve changed it to work the way it should have done from the beginning, and I’m now seeing a 5% improvement on the basic performance test and 10% on the deeply nested test.

I’ll included this in the next release, whenever that turns out to be.

February 4th, 2003

Version 2.0 of SimpleTAL released

I’ve just upload the new version of SimpleTAL. This is the version that brings with it significant performance improvements thanks to the refactoring. It also brings some changes to the API, so if you are using an earlier version please take a look at the notes on migrating from an older version. Feedback, as always, is much appreciated.

For anyone reading this and wondering just what SimpleTAL is, here’s a quick description. SimpleTAL is a Python library that provides an easy to use template language for HTML (and XML) documents. By using SimpleTAL it becomes easy to separate the look and feel of a page from it’s content, which makes it very useful for powering interactive web pages. SimpleTAL is a standalone piece of software, so you can use it to produce HTML or XML content from any Python program.

This weblog is produced using SimpleTAL, and is also the reason that I wrote it in first place.

February 4th, 2003

A public service announcement

There’s a wonderful little restaurant near us called Citron, which for those living in Toronto who haven’t found it yet, is at 813 Queen Street West. We were there last night (Pear Salad, Coconut Pumpkin Stew, and Melted Chocolate Truffle Cake now that you ask) and discovered that it is going to be temporarily closing for renovation.

The good news is that they will only be closed for a couple of weeks starting shortly after Valentines day, and of course we’ll have to go back to see what the new decor is like…

Copyright 2015 Colin Stewart

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