Tag Archives: news

Native and Colonial

Yes, it was dumb for Prince Harry to wear Nazi uniform to a party. However, I encourage you to look at the one-sentence paragraph buried near the end of the article:

Harry’s older brother, Prince William, also was said to have attended, dressed in a homemade lion and leopard outfit to fit the theme of Native and Colonial.

So it is insensitive to wear Nazi stuff (a sentiment with which I whole-heartedly agree) but it’s perfectly OK for the royal family to attend a party in the theme of “Native and Colonial,” celebrating the role that Great Britain, and the rest of Europe, played in subjugating the continents of Africa, Asia, and South America, destroying cultures, and, yes, killing many “natives” for the sake of creating “colonies.”

Just wanted to point that out.

“To turn that into a jokey idea for a fancy dress is an absolute disgrace.”

Indeed, it is. Oh. They meant the Nazi uniform. My mistake.

Back to feeling horrified about Harry’s costume choice.

Brother don’t you walk away

As I may have mentioned, my “alarm clock” is a Perl script which chooses one of my digitized CDs, in either MP3 or Ogg Vorbis, and plays it to wake me up.

This morning’s wake-up music was very appropriate, as we continue to mourn with our brothers and sisters on the other side of the planet.

Brother, Don’t You Walk Away, The Hooters.

He’s about my size and about my age
Down a different road, might’ve been my friend
But you never know how the road will bend

Now the wind blows hard through the holes in your cap
While I’m safe inside here in luxury’s lap

So you look at me with a look so real
As I turn away from the things I feel
Even here and now as I lie awake
Tell me how much difference can one man make

… Brother, don’t you walk away

So, while you think that you can’t make much difference, do something anyway, because together we can make a difference as our insignificant little bits add up.

I’ve rather intentionally avoided watching most of the footage from the areas affected by the tsunami. It’s just too heartbreaking. But to see the faces of the children is more than I can really bear. I don’t know how people can stand to watch this stuff night after night in their luxuriant livingrooms on their 54″ televisions. I realize that some folks become immune to the effects. I don’t think I ever can become that way, and, in a sense, for the sake of my very soul, I hope that I never do.

Nominees must be without faults

I found Kerik’s reasons for withdrawing to be very strange and sad. The implication is that anyone with any flaws, or who has ever made a mistake – even one they were not aware of – should be inelligible for a role in government. Even if they publically acknowledge that mistake.

I’m not saying he’s necessarily the right person for the job. Just that his reason for withdrawing indicates something deeply wrong with the way that we do things.

Closed-source legislation

This is exactly what I’m talking about when I complain about closed-source legislation. The idea that something could get inserted into a bill, and nobody knows where it came from is completely absurd, particularly given the fact that there are *dozens* of software solutions available to prevent precisely that problem.

I firmly believe that legislation should be developed in public CVS/SVN repositories. Diffs could be clearly seen, and clearly attributed. Sure, almost nobody (statistically speaking) would follow the mailing list. But it would be there, and it would be archived, and there would be at least *some* accountability.

It would also increase the chances that changes like this could be caught before they were voted into law. And it would mean that long before a law was voted on, people would actually know what was in it. Instead, we have 1,000-page bills being voted into law which *NOBODY* has actually read. Think about that. We have laws on the books that nobody has read. If that doesn’t seem like a bit of a deviation from “government of the people, by the people, for the people”, then I’m misunderstanding the intent of that phrase.

ApacheCon Cometh

We’re coming down to the last few days before ApacheCon. We’ve broken the mystical 300 barrier on registrations, but there’s still room for a lot more of you. I’m starting to get a little bit excited/nervous about the conference. I’m speaking 6 times, which, I assure you, is a clear sign of insanity. Or at least will lead to it.

You also should take a look at the ApacheCon Wiki, which should be picking up steam in the next few days. And you can probably virtually “attend” the conference on IRC, on #apachecon, on freenode.net. Not the same as being there, but still pretty fun.

Oh, and if you want to go GeoCaching at the conference, please, please, please let me know. It would be great to have some company.

Election day

I’m about to walk out the door and go to the polling booth. This is a very strange election day, because, for the first time, I don’t feel good about voting for anyone. And yet, I’m not considering not voting. Politicians, we all know, make promises in order to get elected, and when they are elected, they don’t have a free hand to make good on those promises, even if they happened to mean what they said. This time, it is even hard to believe that they mean what they said. Better, cheaper health care? Not likely. Purge the world of evil? Bah. Find and capture Osama Bin Laden? Did it occur to you that he might not want to be found? Or, perhaps, that not finding him has its own political bright side?

And, of course, that’s just the presidential race. The local races are even more irritating, because they have been made about a single stupid issue. For those of you outside this area, the issue is this. Should the city government spend money it doesn’t have in order to buy the water company?

A tad of back-story is needed. A german company (that’s right, those evil germans) wanted to buy the water company. And, naturally, as good brave red-blooded americans, we couldn’t have that. We didn’t storm the beaches at Normandy to have any germans owning the water company, no sir! So, being logical, if somewhat narrow-minded, our city council condemned the water company – that’s right, the whole thing – so that it could buy it at bargain basement prices. This would have worked, except for two tiny details. One, it’s illegal, and two, the company in question didn’t actually want to sell, at any price. *sigh*. Capitalism is *SO* inconvenient.

Rephrasing the issue as being about protecting our future (whatever that means), this became the one issue in the city council elections.

I don’t know how it is in other cities, but here in Lexington, the City Council is an old-boys’ club where the members vote comfort for themselves, and keep the populace as much in ignorance as possible so that they can get re-elected the next year.

And so I have the choice of voting in the bum from last year, or voting for a completely unknown bum. Not much of a choice.

Well, folks, if you haven’t voted, you need ot go vote. It’s the most important thing you’ll do today. Try really hard to choose the least of all available evils. And may God have mercy on us, and on the generations who will inherit our bad decisions.

Opinion polls invalid if you don’t agree

I’ve long mocked the opinion polls that are run on places like CNN. Asking people their opinion about things like the whereabouts of Osama Bin Ladin, or whether Prince William cheated on his tests in school, does not constitute real journalism.

Anyways, that’s probably a topic for another time. Here’s a *real* opinion poll which has been deemed invalid because the results were controversial. And that’s just as bogus.

A television show in South Africa conducted a poll to determine who the 100 greatest South Africans of all time were, in the opinion of the viewers. The show was then forced off the air because the results contained some officially unsavory characters, such as Hendrik Verwoerd.

So, presumably, democracy and public opinion are good things, unless they are politically incorrect. And if it turns out that public opinion isn’t what you thought it *should* be, the best thing to do, obviously, is to suppress that public opinion.

It’s things like this that make me wonder whether the American Way of forcing democratic governments on the entire world is really such a good thing after all. Some nations don’t think the way that we do. (I know, that’s a shock to some people.) Some cultures value different things than we do. And it’s entirely possible that if we force democracy on some nations, the preponderance of their public opinion just might not be what we think it *should* be.

It also demonstrates that it is predominately the minorities, rather than the majorities, who tend to rule in many modern societies. This is clearly the case in the USA, where it is the minority groups and special interest groups which form a huge number of the policies that come out of Washington. And, of course, folks who happen to be in the majority can’t speak out against those minorities, even though that would be democracy, in the traditional definition, because to do so would be discriminatory. Indeed, if you can wave the discrimination flag, or the oppression flag, or the victim flag, your political battle is 90% won. Logic need play only the smallest part.

One wonders how long, in some parts of the world, the oppression by the oppressed will be tolerated.

In line with our mandate of creating unity among South Africans, we would like to see a national debate around this issue.

The undertones of that statement are just a little weird to me. Does it mean that it’s important to educate people as to how they *should* think?

By the way, before you label me as an apartheid supporter … I’m not. But I do tend to agree that for some definition of “greatness” (ie, overall influence on the history of the world) Hendrik Verwoerd would certainly have to be considered as one of the great figures of the history of Africa. For the record, Shaka Zulu wasn’t a real nice guy either.

Papers please!

If you don’t know who your congresscritter is, here’s a good opportunity to find out. Remember the jokes from the 80s about being stopped for your papers on the streets of Moscow? Not so funny any more once this law passes. And if you think it won’t pass, you haven’t been paying attention.

Presidential debates

Two interesting stories today

Cnn.com – TV networks say that they don’t intend to comply with the utterly absurd requirements of the presidential debate agreement.


eMediaWire – a debate including those other candidates. We’re not *just* a two-party system, you know.

Regarding the first article … the agreement says that if any moderator is unwilling to sign the agreement, they can be replaced. I sincerely hope that they are unable to find any potential moderators who are willing to sign the agreement. That kind of solidarity and integrity would be a wonderfully refreshing thing.

But, doubtless, they’ll find sufficiently many folks sans backbone. Pity, that.