happy pi day!

Today is March 14th, which is often written in the west as 3/14. Looking at it this way, the date bears a striking resemblance to a common approximation for pi, the mathematical constant which expresses the ratio of any Euclidean circle’s circumference to its diameter. For this reason, today is celebrated by math enthusiasts the world over as Pi Day, a day on which the wonders of pi (and usually also pie) can be shared by one and all. There is even a website dedicated to pi day (and of course associated merchandising: check out this awesome clock). On the occasion of this delightful holiday, I would like to remind the reader about several interesting things about pi.

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contraception, gay marriage, and global warming

In absolute defiance of common sense, the contraception “debate” that I was hesitant to write about — twice — seems to continue, at least by proxy. On leap day, Rush Limbaugh weighed in on that woman who was denied to speak at the House panel ostensibly about birth control. As is usual, Rush Limbaugh had nothing valuable to add to the discussion, but his particular word choice led to controversy and an incredible flight of advertisers from his so-called Excellence In Broadcasting network. His joke of an apology was summarily dismissed and Jon Stewart brilliantly ridiculed the whole mess. It’s so bad that now other right-wing talk radio stars are being targeted for sponsorship withholding.

But while Rush’s particular comments appear to be a lightning rod for focused criticism, the spirit of his remarks forms the cornerstone of conservative opposition to publicly underwritten or otherwise widely accessible birth control. It cannot be that the right protests government spending per se, since it tends as a rule to support robust defense spending, foreign intervention, big oil subsides along with increased and oversight-free drilling, expensive tax cuts for the wealthy, and so on. The BBC has a lovely summary of the major arguments against contraception:

  • Contraception is inherently wrong because it is unnatural, anti-life, and separates sex from reproduction.
  • Contraception leads to negative consequences since it prevents potentially useful individuals from being born, can be used for social engineering or eugenics, and carries health risks.
  • Contraception promotes “immoral behaviour” by encouraging marriage-free sex primarily for pleasure.

Let’s consider these points in turn.

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why Ron Paul should win the primary

Let’s face it: no republican will become president in 2013.

That’s quite a bold claim, so allow me to defend it. The contentious republican nomination race continues without an obvious winner emerging as yet. There is still talk of a white knight coming to the rescue at the last minute, and this idea isn’t new: popular New Jersey governor Chris Christie was shamelessly pestered despite emphatic refusal to enter the race last summer, but he’s more likely to join the Romney ticket as VP; Indiana governor Mitch Daniels has been the target of speculation to fill this role, but he has also explicitly declined, and his official GOP response to Obama’s State of the Union speech in January, while popular on the far right, was quite frankly horrible in both content and presentation; even former Florida governor Jeb Bush is getting the eye, but it seems inconceivable that the republicans would risk their shot on a third Bush four years after the second one left office with the lowest approval rating in Gallup history. In short, the white knight scenario is not happening.

So four republicans remain in the presidential primary, and one of them will be named at his party’s convention in August for the general election barring some unlikely brokered convention scenario. But whom?

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