Faith and Reason

Awhile back, CBC Radio interviewed Sam Harris on his book, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason. I was actually shocked at how neutral the interviewer was: not once did he speak as though he assumed Mr Harris’ views had any validity whatsoever. All the same, I found myself finding bits and pieces of Harris’ message that were actually valuable.
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Sending the Proper Mime-Type

I am now sending browsers the “proper” mimetypes, using Neil Crosby’s PHP script, as suggested (demanded?) at XML.com and 456 Berea Street. Mr Crosby’s script was incredibly easy to implement, and appears to do exactly what it claims to. I’ll have to push it around a little bit, but if it continues to hold up, it may become necessary to find/create an ASP version so that I can begin using it at work.

I was sorely tempted to take Tim’s or Charl’s or Lachy’s approach and give IE the “double-deuce“… but my occupation doesn’t really permit me to take the easier, elitist, my-way-or-the-highway path. Besides, it’s kind of mean. Sure, I’d like to force everyone to use Firefox 1.0 on the Mac—who wouldn’t?—but hey, if God himself allows people free will, who am I to take it away?

I strongly prefer a balanced approach wherever possible, no matter how attractive the idealistic perfectionist’s perspective might be. That’s why Faruk Ates’ article The case for XHTML (or Vinnie’s rant) makes a lot more practical sense than Hickson’s or Mark Pilgrim’s approach. Yes, XHTML is imperfect. Yes, we’re not sending users the correct MimeType. Yes, people still do stupid things. Welcome to Planet Earth, man.

In the absence of perfection, “as best we can” will have to do. ‘Cause refusing to do anything if it isn’t perfect just means we’ll be staying back wiping our backsides with fig leaves another few thousand years. Me, I’d rather encourage people to invent toilet paper.

Why Libertarian Politics Would Lead to Peace, and Why Non-Libertarians Oppose Them So Violently

The mere mention of basic libertarian principles in most circles is enough to elicit red-cheeked, saliva-flying rage. One would think that a simple principle like the Zero Aggression Principle would be seen positively by rational minds.
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How to Make HTML Tables

or: The Art of HTML Tables

HTML Tables are hard to do. So hard, in fact, that visual, WYSIWYG tools do a terrible job of creating them.

But with a little help, you can create tables that look great and are also accessible to everyone.

The Basics

{code type=html}<table summary=""><!– the table begins –>
<caption></caption>
<tr><!– the first table row begins –>
<td><!– the first table cell begins –>
</td><!– the first table cell ends –>
</tr><!– the first table row ends –>
</table><!– the table ends –>{/code}

It’ll look a little something like this:



Caption!
First Cell!

This is the simplest possible table structure. It’s a table, with one row, containing one cell.

If this is the table you want, don’t use a table! There’s no point to it. Just leave the whole table out of there; it’s useless, empty code. You would only use a table if you have at least two columns of data to add. To add another column, add another cell in the row.

{code type=html}<table summary=""><!– the table begins –>
<caption></caption>
<tr><!– the first table row begins –>
<td><!– the first table cell begins –>
</td><!– the first table cell ends –>
<td><!– the second table cell begins –>
</td><!– the second table cell ends –>

</tr><!– the first table row ends –>
</table><!– the table ends –>{/code}

This gives us a second column:



Caption!
First Cell! Second Cell!

Headings

Headings are very important. They identify what each column or row signifies. Signify a heading cell by labelling it <th> (table heading). Often (but not always) table headings will appear in bold type.

Often, the headings are at the top of each column. E.g.:

{code type=html}<table summary="Pizzas and their toppings"><!– the table begins –>
<caption>Pizzas and their toppings</caption>
<tr><!– the first table row begins –>
<th>Pizza<!– the first table cell begins –>
</th><!– the first table cell ends –>
<th>Toppings<!– the second table cell begins –>
</th><!– the second table cell ends –>

</tr><!– the first table row ends –>
<tr><!– the second table row begins –>
<td>Hawaiian<!– the third table cell begins –>
</td><!– the third table cell ends –>
<td>Ham and Pineapple<!– the fourth table cell begins –>
</td><!– the fourth table cell ends –>
</tr><!– the first table row ends –>
<tr><!– the third table row begins –>
<td>Simple Bliss<!– the fifth table cell begins –>
</td><!– the fifth table cell ends –>
<td>Spinach and Feta<!– the sixth table cell begins –>
</td><!– the sixth table cell ends –>
</tr><!– the third table row ends –>
</table><!– the table ends –>{/code}





Pizzas and their toppings
Pizza Toppings
Hawaiian Ham and Pineapple
Simple Bliss Spinach and Feta

Sometimes the headings are down the left column.

{code type=html}<table summary="Events in 2009"><!– the table begins –>
<caption>Events in 2009</caption>
<tr><!– the first table row begins –>
<th>May<!– the first table header begins –>
</th><!– the first table header ends –>

<td>Amazing event<!– the second table cell begins –>
</td><!– the second table cell ends –>
</tr><!– the first table row ends –>
<tr><!– the second table row begins –>
<th>June<!– the third table header begins –>
</th><!– the third table header ends –>

<td>Amazing event<!– the fourth table cell begins –>
</td><!– the fourth table cell ends –>
</tr><!– the first table row ends –>
<tr><!– the third table row begins –>
<th>July<!– the fifth table header begins –>
</th><!– the fifth table header ends –>

<td>Amazing event<!– the sixth table cell begins –>
</td><!– the sixth table cell ends –>
</tr><!– the third table row ends –>
</table><!– the table ends –>{/code}

You’ll notice that the headings are the first cell in each row this time.





Events in 2009
May Amazing event
June Amazing event
July Amazing event

Sometimes the headings are along both the top row and the left side.

{code type=html}<table summary="Events in 2009"><!– the table begins –>
<caption>Events in 2009</caption>
<tr><!– the first table row begins –>
<th>May<!– the first top table header begins –>
</th><!– the first top table header ends –>

<th>Amazing event<!– the second top table header begins –>
</th><!– the second top table header ends –>
</tr><!– the first table row ends –>
<tr><!– the second table row begins –>
<th>June<!– the second left table header begins –>
</th><!– the second left table header ends –>

<td>Amazing thing!<!– the fourth table cell begins –>
</td><!– the fourth table cell ends –>
</tr><!– the first table row ends –>
<tr><!– the third table row begins –>
<th>July<!– the fifth table header begins –>
</th><!– the fifth table header ends –>

<td>Amazing thing!<!– the sixth table cell begins –>
</td><!– the sixth table cell ends –>
</tr><!– the third table row ends –>
</table><!– the table ends –>{/code}





Events in 2009
May Amazing event
June Amazing thing!
July Amazing thing!

Important components

The Summary is there to provide information for visually impaired users. It will read out to them exactly what the table is for. So, for example, you might say

{code type=html}<table summary="List of Courses in the Nursing Program">{/code}

or

{code type=html}<table summary="Tuition and Fees by Program">{/code}

Caption is used for a similar purpose, but for everyone. You can repeat the summary or add something different.

{code type=html}<caption>List of Courses in the Nursing Program</caption>{/code}

A Plan to Restore Local Hospitals

There has been a serious uproar in many of the local communities around my hometown. Many have had their hospitals downgraded to “emergency facilities” or eliminated altogether. Residents fear that a lack of 24-hour hospital service will inevitably lead to situations where the sick or injured will not be able to make it to a health facility quickly enough to prevent serious complications or even death.

This is a very valid concern.
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Christians and Israel: What Should Our Relationship Be to Them?

It is impossible to live in our modern world unfamiliar with the Nation of Israel, unless you are deliberately avoiding all contact with the outside world. At the time of this writing, there is only one nation in the world that has a national policy of support for the Nation of Israel: the United States. Every other nation is either condemning Israel or, at best, remaining neutral towards them, while fanatic religious terrorists attack her daily.
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Form of Baptism: What is the Real Issue?

Baptism is one of the few biblical imperatives that is agreed upon by all Christians — there is no question that Christians must be baptised. Of course, what is not agreed upon is form of baptism (how), appropriate age of a baptismal candidate (when), and “what happens” when a person is baptised.
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The Church vs the Local church


How Many Bodies Does Jesus Have, Anyway?

Some common biblical metaphors for the Church are “The Body of Christ”, “The Bride of Christ”, and, of course, Church. But sometimes I think we get a little confused about the difference between the Church and the local congregations that we like to call “churches”.

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