Tuesday, September 27, 2005

odds and ends - two


was going to write a full post about this but since electra, scourge, prem(dreamwizard) and yes lastnode has written brilliantly about it, i thought mine will be just superfluous, especially since unlike most of them i attended only on the final day. in addition to above, check out the fantastic photos at dreamwizard's flicker set.

anyway it was a great show. venue(galle face green) was great. there were great beautiful flags decorating the place. crowd was great and went wild and even the food ...well tasted great. all round great.
the finale was just unbelievable.
we want more of this.

international elections cont.

poland has joined others (see odds and ends one) in electing a crunchy reform minded center right government. even though like in germany the reform parties lost votes because of their radical program(which again like in germany included a flat tax) they bravely stuck to it. in poland luckily those lost votes went to a soggy center right party. so all is well. who will be next?

sulaga anu pinisa

with film corporation supposedly withdrawing this film from its theaters and the producer withdrawing it completely in protest on the day i was going to watch it, have i lost my last chance to see it for several years? or was all of it a bad publicity stunt?

comedy of lastnode

the blogger lastnode/mahagu/... is also a journalist , undergrad and a geek ( at least trying to be in all three cases). he also has a rather interesting ( or more correctly hilarious ) past (probably some of it unknown to his numerous blogger friends) hidden in the internet. i will probably write a post on that but since the fellow is acting in a unstable way towards me at present will wait a little. if any body is impatient, try some specific googling it won't take long to find the relevant results i am talking about. 10 minutes at most.
anyway to explain the present comic situation. after reading his post about underage alcohol laws and the first few comments i felt i had to post a dissenting opinion to all that moralistic gibberish. it eventually developed in to a regular debate. and they probably were having the better of it( you be the judge).
but lastnode in an effort to give authority to some of his arguments cited a reference to one of plato's works. but since this reference was probably taken from some second rated text book he is studying at present and not from the original source(which he probably haven't even read then) it was plain wrong. he probably thought that because most people are not interested in philosophy or ancient greek politics everyone is not interested too. this btw is a common mistake among socialists. lawmakers, judges, moralists , priests and other type of generalizers.
to continue i pointed out the mistake but the fellow continued to make other references to ancient athens and its democracy in order to show off his knowledge but almost all of them were wrong. you can judge for yourself here. when i in turn pointed out these errors the whole thing became more personal and finally the thread was closed by him with a personal insult to me.
i of course protested this at a another thread in a relevant way. then the fellow completely lost it and is at present actively trashing his own blog under the names (Fact Libertarian, libertarian-2, lanka-libertarian2, liberty machan, Lanka-libertarian-too, Fuckwit, nit-wit, etc) in an effort to .... actually i have no idea what the silly boy wants by such activity. even the anon nutters at nittewa act more sensibly.

q & a with ranil

attended a forum featuring ranil wickremasinghe yesterday.

he came across as open, articulate, intelligent and knowledgeable (in some depth too). i was duly impressed. fellow seems to have dropped his weird mannerisms too.

q & a ranged widely from cfa to industry policy, to law and order, to short term help to farmers, to housing needs, to civil liberties, to somawansa's recent comments about the army, to effective pr for unp. i am not going to recount any of that here. better get yourself invited to one of those forums. consider it as a job interview. they are certainly better than one sided boring speeches and even more boring manifestos.

unp manifesto will be out today. will write a more detailed policy comparison when all manifestos are out.

besides the situation is still fluid. it seems some surprises may be in store for us. ranging from unexpected third party candidates to a general election.

but as things stand now i will probably end up voting for the unp even though their policies are far from being libertarian.

my reasons are,

  • in broad economic policy at least unp is following libertarian reforms. (less regulations, more privatization, less tax, less interference all around.)
  • unp has the best shot at peace.
  • about civil liberties i am not so sure but what other alternative are there? anyway yesterday ranil answered a question about this (which btw partially concerned drinking alcohol on poya days :-) ). he gave a rather positive (for libertarians) reply in that he asked the people who want more such rights to be more assertive.
  • unp politicians in general are more competent.
  • and finally because ranil is the only viable option. or are we to vote for an ignorant thief to replace a ignorant drunk?

any way there is enough time to decide.

Friday, September 23, 2005

handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents from reporters without borders

it seems reporters without borders has published a handbook for 'bloggers and cyber-dissidents'. i haven't read it as yet but it seems useful to all bloggers including newbies not just 'cyber-dissidents', after a quick skim.

from rsf website:

Reporters Without Borders has produced this handbook to help them, with handy tips and technical advice on how to to remain anonymous and to get round censorship, by choosing the most suitable method for each situation. It also explains how to set up and make the most of a blog, to publicise it (getting it picked up efficiently by search-engines) and to establish its credibility through observing basic ethical and journalistic principles.

links rsf website and pdf 1.7 mb

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

another september ritual?

sri lankan blogosphere is at the moment full of posts about people going away or being left behind (some of them truly heartbreaking) after summer to continue their studies abroad. i wouldn't be surprised if within the next two months we will have a new crop of bloggers making use of their university facilities. is this the start of a new september ritual?

one is reminded of pre 1993 internet when the newbies flooded in every september with the start of the college year. that of course ended with aol offering usenet access, resulting in eternal september.

anyway september bloggers (if any) welcome!

btw why is it that there are comparatively less sri lankan bloggers from states than from say uk, australia or canada?

Monday, September 19, 2005

odds and ends

sudu kalu saha alu (shades of ash)

after putting it off for a long time i finally went to see this film last monday. it is one of the most depressing i have seen. we are treated to a group of people wallowing in self pity and victimhood who don't even make the slightest effort to get out of it. at the end one feels zero sympathy for them. everybody who tries to make something out of themselves are portrayed as criminals capable of committing every crime under the sun, from child abuse downwards. (that is every one of them is accused of every crime. really).
some people trash hindi films as fairy tales removed from reality, well this is the opposite. it's a story about a hell wholly removed from reality. that is a pity because it features the sri lanka's top of the line acting talent.
people in it are not really humans because humans even when the world is a chaotic hell have hope. this film doesn't.

war of the worlds

here spielberg has managed to emulate the original novel so well that we are left with a completely forgettable pedestrian film. i have been trying to remember the original novel (which i read long time ago) for some time and apart from the fact aliens there came from mars by way of a cannon i didn't remember anything. this in spite of it being the mother of all alien invasion stories (h g wells however got the correct formula for the genre. if you think about it they all follow the same path down to the defeat of the aliens by a virus(whether biological or artificial). anyway i am sure i will remember nothing of this film two year from now. well done spielberg!


it seems angela merkel has won the german election. last week koizumi won the japanese election. soon we will have nicolas sarkozy as president of france. and republicans are set to control at least two of the three branches of u.s. government for years to come. see the pattern! we are witnessing crunchy reform minded center right governments replacing either soggy center right or center left governments all over the place. are we at the threshold of a paradigm shift in the world's ideological politics? hope so.

flat tax

german election campaign was full of it, british tories are debating it, what was decade ago considered a wacky idea, is now in the political mainstream. all of this is due of course to the highly successful implementation of flat taxes across the eastern and central europe.
it's an idea that should be taken seriously here too. but with a general population that seem not to be aware and incapable of understanding even the simple fact that our national debt is higher than the national income, will any debate on this feasible?


some teachers were sentenced to jail for punishing a student. about time too.
our schools seem to be designed to crush out creativity, individuality and independence from students. recent intake of those useless job-beggar graduates as teachers will only make it worse. what can and will such people teach?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

why knockouts are better.

i am going to argue that the present presidential election presents an unique opportunity to defeat the warmongers among us completely and in a way that will make future anti peace campaigns impotent for a very long time.

perhaps for the first time in recent history all the anti peace elements (jvp, jhu, and pro war elements in slfp etc.) have united behind a single candidate. some may see this as a strength but it is a sign of weakness. their perception of their own weakness made them unite behind mahinda rajapakse.

fact is pro peace candidates have won almost all the elections held since 1994 general election, when other issues did not interfere with the election. objection can be made that 2004 general election proved this wrong. but let us remember that election's deciding factor was not the peace process but the supposed indifference of the unf government to the suffering of rural masses. but then a further objection can be made that jhu, standing on an almost exclusively anti peace platform did very well. that may be true, but it also showed the extent of the anti peace support to be confined almost exclusively to the pseudo middle class sinhala buddhist voters living in suburbs of colombo.

now let us look at some numbers. figures taken from election department website indicate that upfa (45.6%) and jhu (6.84%) together got 52.44 % in the 2004 election. in 2001 election(where the war figured more prominently) same parties (pa-37.19%, jvp -9.10% , su - 0.56%) got 46.85%. given the disillusionment with the upfa government (mainly due to to its complete incompetence and non fulfillment of promises), declining popularity of the jvp(as evidenced by utter collapse of it protests against p-toms and privatization of education, in spite of very expensive propaganda campaigns) and the disintegration of the jhu (can the monks who remain really draw crowds like the ones who left?) total vote count for the united warmongers in the next election will be closer to the 2001 result, if not lower. 47.5% will not a president make. and as long as these people stay united and are explicit about their policies it would be hard to imagine anybody else voting for them either as first or second preference.

but a question can be asked: can the other side get over 50%? if every body else got united, sure they will. but that may be not be the case. if minority parties have any sense they will realize they have no choice but then with some people one can never quite say. but even if they are not united in the presidential election there is the second preference option. that would be enough to give ranil a victory.

such a outcome will break the back of anti peace campaign. it will show for once and for all that even with complete unity they will still be in the minority. any aspiring politician (whether out to change the world for better or to make a fortune) will soon realize that this is a dead end. it will give a post election government a free hand to continue with the peace process. that is why the peace lovers of this country should hope that ALL the warmongers are united and are explicit about their policies when they go down in defeat. nothing is more clear than a knockout.

i purposely did not consider the effect that cbk's intervention will have on this election because the above outcome will result even without her. but if the manager of the warmongers corner wants a defeat so much the better.

so its time to put on the gloves and enjoy the sound of leather cutting flesh and the salty taste of blood.