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Page Collection for ^2002-12

2002-12-02

Went to see St. Moritz and Zermatt with my girlfriend over the weekend; it was strange to make holidays in the country I have been living in for so long, and only now see the major tourist attractions.

http://www.zermatt.ch/graphics/180x270/ggb-winter-1.jpg

The hotels were all nice and clean and warm and breakfast was good and the people were friendly... Gotta talk about the good things in life, too.

In St. Moritz, we stayed at Sonne:

In Zermatt, we stayed at Testa Grigia:

And on the trip I dug out my old copy of Njals Saga (thanks, MeatBall:LarsAronsson, for mentioning it on Meatball). It is one of the books my father still brought along from Iceland. I was born in Reykjavík, Iceland, actually! :)

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2002-12-13

Reading the Net War book by John Arquila and David Ronfeldt (editors), see MeatBall:NetWar. Note that both Bruce Sterling and David Brin are in the ackneledgements... I like the article about the Battle of Seattle by Paul de Armond, untertitled "Netwar In The Emerald City: WTO Protest Strategy And Tactics". Important points they raise are how to organize in a decentralized way. This also comes up in the political work at Wilhelm Tux (where we are not doing that well) and in FreeSoftware development (where we need to attract and keep good developpers without being able to pay them). The key point is that you must give each and everyone the freedom to step in if they like, and you must make sure that the people with similar ideas and objectives hear you. Then, by sheer numbers, there will always be enough volunteers to do this or do that. And since you have similar ideas and objectives, many people will just do the right thing without being told. It is a kind of PreOrganization skill that you need: To communicate the goals and ideas so effectively, that you attract the right people who know what to do without being told -- because *they* want to do just as much as anybody else. Been watching "In The Mood For Love" by Wong Kar-Wai, too. Wonderful movie.

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2002-12-17

The behaviour of the US in the Iraq weapons inspection by the UN is so incredibly wrong and shameful and disgraceful -- there are just no words for this kind of injustice. It is not really understandable why this is not making headlines all over the civilized world, and why the US does not have to excuse itself profusely for the kinds of criminal behaviour we are seeing: The security council decided on the procedure of how to take care of the weapon inspection reports. But once Blix arrives at UN headquarters, he has to hand the report to US diplomats, according to orders given by the Colombian chief of security council Valdivieso. Note that Colombian government got a call on sunday by Powell. Last Wednesday Powell was in Colombia and promised more military aid. And a few days later Valdivieso changes the procedures in favor of the US -- eventhough the security council had unanimously decided upon different procedures beforehand. What happens next? The US gets to read the report on Sunday, remove whatever they like, and on Monday the French and the British get a copy of the report, and China and Russia only get the report on Tuesday. Is this the New World Order? The Mexican ambassador criticized this on, but had to take it back after Powell phoned his colleague Castañeda. Norway criticized this, and of course Syria. Annan is careful not to use strong language. But I feel like using strong language by now! And all this after weapons inspectors admitted that CIA agents were amongst the inspectors, that the US spied on Iraq while doing weapons inspections, after the US did not cooperate with the international chemical weapons inspections in the US (!), etc. This is very sad. Perhaps we should write a letter to the Whitehouse. See what happens. (Source: WOZ[1] Nr. 50, Dec. 12, 2002, p. 11, by Andreas Zumach)

hey, do you happen to have an English language reference on the US's non-cooperation with chemical weapons inspections? I don't know how to navigate the www.woz.ch site to find backissues. Thanks, MeatBall:BayleShanks

I found a reference to it in the UK Guardian. [2] -- AlexSchroeder

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2002-12-19

http://www.rootingoutevil.org/ – “A coalition of Canadian peace groups today announced their intention to send an international team of volunteer weapons inspectors into the United States later this winter. (…) demanding that the U.S. grant our inspectors immediate and unfettered access to any site in the country

  • including all presidential compounds - so that we can identify the weaponsof mass destruction in this rogue state”

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2002-12-20

“Raising the walls” – not only is Israel building a wall around itself (or around the Palestinians) (thereby enlarging their occupied territory even more and inprisoning the entire Palestinian population) – no, similar obstacles are being raised around other countries. Refugees spend years in camps (what would you call a camp where hundreds and thousands of refugees are kept?) in the middle of the desert in Australia. Refugees are being indirectly deported into other countries by Australia. And even here in Switzerland we barely managed (50.01%) to avoid new asylum laws that would send every refugee back if the refugee entered Switzerland via a safe country (hey, lucky we are in the middle of the European Union, all snug and safe!) – and the new law would hold the airlines responsible if they did not spend enough effort in preventing illegal immigration. We managed to avoid this by some 30’000 votes – only! My all-time favorite is how the US sent a Canadian citizen “back” to Syria. And, on an even lighter note, I just read an article saying that every day the attack on Iraq (originally planned for end of September, remember?) is a day won for the peace movements. An opportunety to grow stronger, to spread the word. Anyway, sent you email to the whitehouse, yet? Try mailto:president@whitehouse.gov, or better yet, your elected representatives if you are an US citizen. See http://www.house.gov/writerep/.

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2002-12-25

2002-12-25 -- Gave another $1250 to Amnesty International, and another $200 to the Electronic Intifada. I am using the ratpoison window manager, now. This window manager uses no windows; it works rather like Emacs' internal window management (which predates windowing systems such as X) and GNU screen: By default, windows are maximized and you switch between them using a key combo. You can split the display horizontally and vertically in smaller areas, which can show their own windows. This completely breaks down with applications using many small windows such as the Gimp. But it plays nicely with web browsers, Emacs, terminals. Yay! I wonder wether I will miss my windowmaker dock applications such as the phase of the moon, system load, etc. Guess not. The XML::RSS stuff for my rich site summary (RSS) has given me endless trouble with the webhosting of emacswiki.org, because their XML library does not play nicely with the version of Perl they have installed. So I wrote a patch, and complained, and due to my complaint, they switched the installed versions a few times, resulting in various down times of my entire wiki, or of the RSS feed (when I learnt that `require' works at run-time, while `use' works at compile-time). Oh well. I like the UTF-8 patches on UseModWiki -- but I would have to get a working terminal, first, that can handle UTF-8! Hm. At the moment I think I am still using wterm, the terminal emulator that comes with windowmaker, the window manager I used before switching to ratpoison. Notice the elegance with which this diary entry goes full circle.

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2002-12-28

The situation may be bad abroad, but when the situation is bad close to home, you could be doing something about it. Read the following Human Rights Watch Press release, New York, December 27, 2002: "United States: Reports of Torture of Al-Qaeda Suspects" -- http://www.hrw.org/press/2002/12/us1227.htm.

I also finished reading Njals Saga, and watched yet another movie by Wong Kar-Wei, Days Of Being Wild (IMDB:0101258).

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2002-12-30

A positive review of the past year by Gwynne Dyer, of GBN Global Perspectives, as distributed on the ViridianDesign mailing list:

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2002-12-31

Notice the zeitgeist: People deal with complex reality by looking at it from all sides -- at least from more sides than they used to in the past, no matter how ignorant our fellow humans still seem to those of us, who can look at compex issues from even more sides. And look where it led us: We are paralyzed. For every action there is a debate, and since all non-trivial issues are complex, and we have started to appreciate this complexity, our decision making fails. Young people (at least not many) have dreams of reshaping society, voters have no confidence in their politicians, and we practically never change our life in any significant ways, unless we found a family. This is one thing: We are paralyzed by complexity and unable to make decisions. The other is this: We deride all those too stupid to see through things as we do. We have become a cynical society, where making the right joke about Bush or Afghanistan is worth more than the a strong opinion on the issue. Whenever there is somebody with an opinion, it is ridiculously easy to dismantle its arguments, to pick it appart, and have some fun while doing it. We have become cynics, because we have no values. They just don't mean anything to us, because the future is uncertain, the villains are getting richer and more powerful, the NGOs are complaining, and the media is not telling us that life is getting better, it is telling us that life is getting worse. We are to smart for ourselves. We lost all values because we are paralyzed by complexity, and without values we have become cynics. And we can watch ourselves at it in the media! My girlfriend tells me (since my TV is only for video, DVD, and the consoles) that there is a show on German TV called "TV Total" where a very funny and clever moderator picks appart all the garbage that other people broadcast on TV, making fun of them and being incredibly funny. A true impersonation of the zeitgeist: He lives off media garbage, employs a host of clever people to rip it appart, and we think it is the funnies show on earth. Because we know that there is only garbage on TV. Because we know that nothing is going to change it. Because we can see through it all. Because we know no alternative, because we cannot imagine an alternative. And I am part of it, too. Because I cannot imagine an alternative.

alternative: accept that we are too stupid to make sense of things all of the time and that even our most carefully reasoned opinions will often be wrong. It is still better to try and work with those views than to do nothing at all. Don't punish people (by making fun of them) for being pathetically shortsighted because we all are. Laugh when someone else's (or your own) political argument is picked appart, but realize that said person might still be a smart guy and don't shame them for having what seems in retrospect to be a dumb argument. Be skeptical but not cynical.

Also, re: the villains are getting richer and more powerful, it seems that in the last century at least, the world has been getting nicer and more just, rather than the opposite. At least now concepts like peace and international human rights get profound lip service. It seems like in the past they were dismissed out of hand, at least by political leaders and commentators. -- MeatBall:BayleShanks

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