I found an interesting banner today  where the author used a cell shading version of a picture panorama around his house, and based on a weather feed and some simulation of a flock of sheep, he generates a new panorama every day. Totally cool!
Anyway, I recommend reading the introduction to the original paper. Very reasonable discussion on all the possible effects music downloads can have, what they researched, and what they found.
TelePolis reports on the cruel attack on foreigners in Iraq  and talks about the power of images in asymmetric conflicts, lack of “courage civile”, the mob loosing control… Such is the Dark Side within humanity when we loose it. Decades of supression, violence, hope, frustration, more bombs, insecurity, kidnappings, and fear… As TelePolis puts it: “Murder, War, Violence, and Dispair.” And now it comes to this. I’m not sure what to recommend. How do we build civil society? Nation building such that we’d gladly be part of that nation? Something about law and order, police, trust, getting along, integrating forces…
Here in Switzerland we recently had a case of three young nazi who killed one of their own because he had “talked” about their secret society. Lured him to an old ruin, crushed his skull and brain with an iron tube, and dumped him into a lake. I think the instigator got life-long, the others sixteen years, but I can’t remember for certain.
Anyway… The TelePolis article ends with some references to Afghanistan and new unrest in Usbekistan, where the government violates human rights en masse, but is supported by the US, because they fight Al-Qaida, but muslim organizations claim that any muslim activists can be detained and tortured in Usbekistan… There’s another article on Afghanistan, in fact.  Political unrest, how to vote, Taliban in control of 20% of the country, poppy seeds being the only product that actually gets you some money, representation of women, …
I should read more about languages. While talking about porn on #emacs, I started a search on “single-sex discours” on Google and read the introduction of Female Discourse Patterns in an EFL Classroom Setting PDF, about Japanese women learning English and talking in the classroom. Very interesting summary.✎
OddMuse✎ should be fit for situational use – quick to use for special purpose short-term usage, install wiki, a few simple configurations, use for a project and a small number of people, throw away after a while.
Thanks to Clay Shirky’s essay on situational software.
I went to a “Balcan Evening” at a friend’s place. He’s Croatian and was showing two Slovenian movies. Unfortunately I was late, but I still got to see the second movie, and talk with the guests about Zatôichi (see 2004-02-15 Movies✎), other Takeshi Kitano movies, the violence in movies such as Kill Bill, comparing these movies to other Samurai movies such as The Last Samurai, Twilight Samurai (see 2004-01-10 Movies✎, recommended!), The Seven Samurai (recommended!), and Samurai Fantasy (intellectually interesting).
We also talked about Gori Vatra (IMDB:0347105✎, which I still have to see) bureaucracy under communist rule, the strength of communism in Italy, the image of Yugoslavians, the importance of everyday policy on a local level for national elections in America, Germany, and Sweden, etc.
It was a great evening. Since I also gave two of the guests the URL to my site, let me thank them here and now for the nice evening.
I ate dinner at a Persian restaurant here in Zürich with some of Claudia’s friends; two of them danced at the restaurant. Around half past eleven we continued to a Moroccon restaurant were the have private parties, ie. the front door is locked and curtains are drawn, but if you know the back entrance and the guys standing there, you will hear ear-shattering music played by the band, tables along the walls, cushions on the benches, candles glittering, warm light emitted by chandeliers overhead and moroccan lamps ✎, reflecting in towering shishas (water pipes), and whenever the beat picks up and singer raises his voice, men and women will get up and dance… I love it.
+1 for humor if you answer "blond!" I find it impossible to describe a person I could fall in love with in words. There are so many factors or facets to a person that it is near-impossible to "linearize" all the information into spoken words -- it would turn into endless rambling. There's looks, which is in turn proportions, and colors, but there's also movement, rhythm, talk, body language, and there's dress, and fashion, which leads to taste, and interests, and personality, dominance, wishing, the list goes on for ever.
In a way it seems to me one of the questions in life where your own life is the only way to express the answer. Only by doing and choosing and talking can you give expression to what you think is important in your partner. Saying it out loud doesn't help one bit.
Can't stare at the monitor for too long, however.
WorldChanging✎ talks about http://www.gapminder.org/ -- maybe I should check it out. The point is to make global statistics accessible. Reminds me of the effort by MondeDiplomatique✎, ISBN 3-9806917-6-4✎.
The chart showing world health (in children out of 1000 that live to be five years old) and money (purchasing power dollars) sure is interesting. Look at the exceptions: Cuba is poor but healthy -- as healthy as the USA, in fact! And look how many countries are poorer than the USA and are healthier. Also compare the position of Israel and the West Bank & Gaza. [PDF]
I took the Julius Caesar blog off PeopleUpdates. (Update: That was an old page listing all the people I read – I switched to dedicated news aggregators later on.) It was a wonderful idea, and at the time I was reading one of his books, the war in Gaul… Which reminds me. I should finally finish The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Argh!
And another one:
Feeling better already! Went to work 4h today, and to my Arabic course in the evening. There's a two-week break now, and I really must review the old stuff and start learning my vocab!
The GeoURL stuff is giving me some new referrals from time to time. Just found a fotoblog, for example, with a very nice picture of an important Swiss mountain. ✎ I should go see the mountains more often. I live in the flat northern parts of Switzerland. We see the Alps only when we’re standing on the right spot and the warm “Föhn” winds blow down from the Alps, pushing away all the mist and haze…
Riverbend✎ is talking about the Falloojeh Massacre. “Over 300 are dead in Falloojeh and they have taken to burying the dead in the town football field because they aren’t allowed near the cemetery.” Is this the right response? Riverbend feels that it sounds very much like group punishment. And a very cruel one. ✎
I try to apply the “Vegetarian Test” I use for this kind of stuff:
For the original problem, this was a good problem: Being the butcher, would you kill the cow, cut it up, hang it on steel hooks, make some sausages with the rest, rinse the floor and wipe of the blood sticking to your fingers? The answer is NO – and therefore I should not pay a butcher to do a job I would revile doing myself.
I can even apply it to border patrols trying to prevent migration: Being a border patrol, would you send a bunch of poor and desperate youngsters back to their home country, eventhough they spent their last money (and the last money of their relatives) on getting smuggled? The answer is NO – I’d feel like Swiss border patrol sending jewish refugees back to Nazi Germany.
But sometimes it is hard to say. In a war, would I be able to say NO after seing some of the things people see? Maybe hate and anger would change me. I sure hope I never need to find out. This is why I’m never sure what I’d do as a soldier or militia man in a war. But as we move away from the bloody action itself, as we return to the dogs of war in their comfortable offices, I’m reminded of my Vegetarian Test: Would they kill the 300 if they had to do it themselves and were able to, face-to-face? If not, how can they send in their troops to do the slaughtering for them?
Yes, “help please.” I wonder what they administration is trying to do now. Going for all-out war risking hundreds of Iraqis wounded, mutilated for life, or dead, is not going to work in the long run. Maybe the other plan is not going to work either.
I don’t know what to suggest. Did they try talking?
Sometimes it helps to just focus on basic human rights. It helps you get your priorities straight.
Riverbend says, for example:
;Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. ;Article 11: Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
Or maybe you feel that the country is at war. Is it? If so, how come Switzerland and others are still arms-trafficking with a warring nation? Anyway, here’s from the “Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War” ✎:
;Article 6: In the case of occupied territory, the application of the present Convention shall cease one year after the general close of military operations; however, the Occupying Power shall be bound, for the duration of the occupation, to the extent that such Power exercises the functions of government in such territory, by the provisions of the following Articles of the present Convention: I to 12, 27, 29 to 34, 47, 49, 51, 52, 53, 59, 61 to 77, and 143. ;Article 33: No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.
I think the US is making the same mistakes in Iraq like Israel is doing in its occupied territories.
A user on #wiki found that the Oddmuse:Rollback_Action✎ didn’t work, and I spent an hour or two writing test cases and fixing bugs. Eek! Two hours to change ten lines of code a few times. Well, on the other hand, I like to think of Oddmuse as a polished diamond. The reason I like it (compared to my day-job projects, for example) is that I can keep polishing it until I am happy. And today I did some polishing.
When I switched CSS files a few days (weeks?) ago, I didn’t consider that the new CSS had a theme which hid the footer – so for most people (mainly my dad who asked about it) it was impossible to edit pages. Sorry ‘bout that.✎
TelePolis✎ writes about the kill ratio of US soldiers ✎. If you want small groups of hightech soldiers to survive in hostile environments, they have to be prepared to kill. Remember Black Hawk Down✎? A few US soldiers wounded, 19 killed, and estimates for Somali deaths reaching up to 1000 dead. What we need is a new type of soldier: True Peace Keepers and Nation Builders. Good communicators, fluent in other languages, interested in other cultures, prepared for the strange and colorful world out there.
TelePolis✎ also writes about the failures of humanitarian war in Somalia and in the Kosovo, Afghanistan, and now Iraq. ✎ They claim that the US was unprepared, foolish, and naive. And I agree with that. They also say that we should have put more political and economical pressure on him, to have him removed from power by his own people.
Excuse me?! Are they saying perhaps, like Madam Albright did, that maybe those 500’000 dead children during the embargo were justified? Are they perhaps ignoring the humanitarian disaster in Iraq during the embargo?
They should have started much, much earlier: Not supporting a bastard like Saddam Hussein in the first place. And as TelePolis✎ says, since the US has lost all credibility in the Near East, all they can do is be allies with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. Now those are wonderful friends to have, unless you’re a freedom loving, human-rights respecting, free speech advocating person that is against torture (current technical term: “stress and duress techniques”) and the death penalty.
Where does that leave the American government? Actually, where does that leave most of the classe politique in the West!? Because America-bashing is not enough. Here in Europe we might point fingers accross the Atlantic, but let us not forget who helped Saddam build the bunkers (Switzerland), who built the chemical plants (Germany), who sold hims his first weapons of considerable destruction – my guess: France, Germany, the UK, and the US all did it. So thank you, too!
Which reminds me that the Swiss state-owned weapons producer RUAG is still dealing with the US and Israel. This is sad.
Back to Iraq. What now?
I should take the test.
Reminds me of Ken Newman I wrote about on 2004-03-26_Conferences✎. He's into narratives and story telling -- for a living. I mean, he gets to take six month rides with a motorcycle, be online every day, goes to conferences, and gets more money. Awesome job.
Played Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven and loved it. First mission: Failed twice, once by engaging all the guards at once because I mixed up attack and jump therefore jumping up and down in front of the evil guys, and once because I had no ninja-rebirth items and was cut up by the gun-wielding guy in the middle. So that part was rather fair. I finished the mission on my third attempt and got the title Grand Master – yay!
I also skipped my Aikido today… I have some lousy excuse made up, but in truth, my spirit was weak…
I added the stuff to my Wiki configuration:
$HtmlHeaders = '<meta name="ICBM" content="47.3787648948578, 8.52716503722805">' . '<meta name="DC.title" content="Home of Alex">';
Where did I get the numbers from? I visited http://www.travelgis.com/geocode/ and entered my address.
The seems to be absurd, however.
Let’s do some testing:
The next house number gets the following coordinates: 47.3787648948578 latitude, 8.52716503722805 longitude. The same numbers!
Hm. The house 10 numbers higher: 47.3791029892217 latitude, 8.52731103252156 longitude.
The distance: (sqrt (+ (sqr (- 47.3787648948578 47.3791029892217)) (sqr (- 8.52716503722805 8.52731103252156)))) => 0.00036826949999436975
Then consider that there are 10’000km per 90°:
(/ (* 0.00036826949999436975 10 1000 1000) 90) => 40.91883333270775
Well, 41m for 10 numbers (ie. five buildings) makes sense after all. Amazing.
Saw this year’s first bumblebee today!
I will be offline from Sunday to Wednesday. We have some meetings in Porto, Portugal. I also spent most of today fighting the Oracle Installer, and I can say from the bottom of my heart that it sucks. Actually, the Oracle Installer has sucked ever since the days of good ol’ 7.3. I think it started sucking when they started using Java.✎
Occupation Watch reports on US snipers shooting kids, women, the elderly, ambulance drivers, fugitives, people carrying white flags, you name it.
What happened to Human Rights Article 13.2:
The EI article is about Sharon’s visit to Bush, his statements just before he left, and comparing them with other statements people from the so-called “peace camp” made and the agreements reached in the Geneva Initiative.
I’m back. It seems that the cablemodem is working only sporadically, however, so not much connectivity on my side…
I also got over 500 mails (mostly spam).✎
I took some time to add more info to my FOAF file. See SocialNetworkSoftware✎ for more. In order to facilitate editing of the files (the files are uploaded instead of normal wiki text so that the rendered pages cannot confuse newbies…), I improved the Oddmuse:wikiupload✎ script a bit.
MurrayAltheim✎ offered a link to an Article on Prospect Magazine ✎ on #wiki, which he had received from SunirShah✎. In the article, we have a fictive dialogue between Osama Bin Laden and Gandhi by Bhikhu Parekh… I just started reading it, but am enjoying it.
We saw Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (IMDB:0068182✎) today. We were very impressed and watched the entire movie again, this time with audio commentary (something I rarely do). It seems that most of what we see in the movie actually happened to the crew: Inundations, Kinski hitting his own men with a sabre (luckily not a very sharp one), the mountain treck, … Very impressive.
Say it, brother!