Friday, March 31, 2006

local government election results 2006

people searching for online election results have started visiting this blog due to my posts on 2005 presidential election.
unfortunately of the sites i linked then none only one seems to be carrying results tonight.

election department website's result section which did not work earlier in the night, seems to have fixed whatever problem it had. so the results are available now. however their website became very slow and utterly useless by morning last november.
here is the link

election department website.

other sources that are carrying results of this election ,

department of government information (official results only- latest)

here are the sites that are not carrying results this time even though they carried results last november

election department website.
the lanka academic result page
upali newspaper group election website.
lanka newspapers election site ( linked above is part of this)

however they might start later in day.

2002 local government results.
here is a pdf(433kb) (from elections department ) that carries 2002 results

my thoughts
as for what i think of this election and some speculation on its outcome see here

Friday, March 24, 2006

can religious be tolerant?

i hoped to write this after reading keshi's faithless-journey posted last week but due to my illness and then work had to put it off till today.
like most people who discuss religion she says,
I believe that no 'Religion' teaches you to kill or make a mockery out of others (not that I have heard of such religions). But if you cant tolerate another person's faith or you harm people just 'cos they are different, then I reckon you haven't realised what faith is all about. Such people I believe have no faith whatsoever and are doing shame to their own so-called 'Religion'. 'Cos a 'Religion' should bring peace to you and others around you.
is it correct to assume that religions should bring peace and truly religious should be tolerant?

imo these are wrong assumptions. opposites are true in fact. only the fact that most people are not religious and don't really care much about religion prevents the world from turning into one unending war zone.

religions and their true followers are and should be unable to tolerate other beliefs. this is intrinsic to all belief systems based on irrational foundations.

all religions are based on such irrational supernatural foundations; god, karmic cycle, reincarnation, etc. they must, because the questions that religions give solutions to cannot be solved through reason alone. main ones being how to separate good from bad, and what comes after death. most people due to various reasons are unable to accept that there is no universal standard moral system and that there is nothing after death. luckily for the world most of these people follow their inherited arbitrary beliefs and associated morality without thinking too much about them and happily transgress them whenever their selfish needs 'tempt' them to.

problems arise when people really try to live by principles of their religion. then they cannot but fail to understand that their religion's fundamental beliefs are not compatible with other religions'. god of old testament, allah, jesus the son of god, and reincarnation are mutually exclusive for instance, in spite of some claims to the contrary. since their lives are based on their religions (in some cases nothing but religion) religious people run headon into two mutually exclusive choices. either they have to accept that 'truth' and thus morality is relative and there are no universal standards, in effect abandoning their religion or to defend their 'truth' and religion to the best of their ability.

in other words truly religious cannot but be intolerant.

one can object that founders of religions for the most part preached to their followers to be tolerant. if they were men of peace it would have been far better if these founders never created religions based on irrationality in the first place, because irrational faith invariably collides with other faiths. when the core of their teaching is at stake their followers are correct to pay scant heed to their secondary teachings on tolerance.

intolerance does not mean violence even with religious people. most are non violent. only the least intelligent or the most excitable turn violent. most priests and monks are men of 'peace' but if you probe you will see they are all of them intolerant at the core and quite willing to use whatever socially acceptable methods available to respectfully suppress any opposition. anti conversion bill in front of sri lanka parliament is just one such method. this is just an example one can find such things in every country and in every religion.

hopefully most people will continue to be selfish nonobservant sinners in the future as they are now.

Friday, March 17, 2006

in sickness, commonwealth games

i have been feeling sick since wednesday. had to come home early yesterday and see a doctor. i don't remember the last time i went to see a doctor due to a decease. must have been at least 10 years ago. by rights i should fall ill more often. i never exercise and my interest in sports is limited to watching them. i eat whatever i want when i want. luckily for me i probably have a high metabolism rate otherwise i would be a fat pig by now. it's more than likely i will be a wreck in ten years time. oh well.

anyway i don't feel like doing anything today. at least the commonwealth games are on in tv. sri lanka may have a medal chance in boxing. we seem to be winning some badminton games as well though didn't see any visuals. other than that we are probably hopeless. yesterdays rugby was embarrassing. i was glad i was not there. rupavahini broadcast is rather unprofessional. hope they will learn on the job and give priority to the actual games and cut down on the discussions. they should also realize that people watch the games not just to see sri lankans but because they enjoy it even when no sri lankan are involved.

forgot all the rest i wanted to write so this will have to do.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

odds and ends - three

it seems there is going to be a 24 hour token strike by public sector workers starting midnight today unless last minute negotiations bear fruit. no doubt buffalo will do his best to get his pals in trade unions to be flexible but there is a chance they may go ahead anyway. not that it matters much to economy, it is questionable anybody will even notice.
given the options we will have to live with this sort of thing for sometime to come until somebody reintroduce something like the voluntary retirement scheme that unp proposed in 2003 which would have got rid of most of the public servants.

peace talks
ltte is threatening not to participate in second round of peace talks unless 'sri lanka government refuses to disarm tamil paramilitary organisations and continues allowing them to launch offensive military operations against our military positions' according to balasingham. this was expected and they will eventually drive the country to inevitable war. buffalo must not to feed them and even better wrongfoot them by reversing his position and proposing a federal solution, perhaps even before the second round.

local elections
they are a mess and the result will be a mess. they are turning out to be the most violent elections since 2001, if you do not count pussies enforcing the tamil boycott in 2005 presidential election as violence. i will probably write a full post soon.

british cowardice
british monitors of a palestinian jail withdrew after tipping the israel, so that israel army can attack and arrest unarmed unconvicted prisoners (including probably some terrorists) with heavy armor. israel's action is understandable, british one was spineless and cowardly. they certainly deserve whatever anger they are receiving for such a betrayal. this could lead to escalation of violence with suicide bombings in the near future, breaking the relative calm that prevailed in the recent past in spite or because of hamas victory at the elections.
inexplicable nature of the british action has already given rise to a host of conspiracy theories, to the effect that u.k. and u.s. are deliberately trying to destabilize the situation and hamas government. i am skeptical about conspiracy theories in general, i hope i can remain so in the future.

google and privacy
google is likely to be told by an u.s. court to handover some of the search data requested by u.s. the government in connection with a statistical study about child pornography, after the government reduced it's demands drastically from billions of web addresses to just fifty thousand. tellingly only google stood on principle and challenged the original demand. others yahoo, msn, aol, have reportedly handed over whatever was was requested in full. so next time you use any other search engine remember big brother has easy access to whatever you type.

127th royal thomian
royal won. was going to write a post but since it seems almost all sri lankan bloggers were there and have written about it, i refrained. here is a nice roundup of other posts.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

victor's injustice

slobodan milosevic the so called 'butcher of belgrade' died yesterday in his jail cell in hague. he had been defending himself before the international war crimes tribunal against i don't know how many number of charges including genocide for the past four years or so. i don't know to what degree he was personally responsible for various atrocities that were carried out in former yugoslavia by his fellow serbs while he was president in turn of both serbia and rump of yugoslavia. it is quite possible he was responsible. however even if he was eventually convicted would that be really justice? would conviction of saddam hussein at his trial mean he and his victims received justice?

justice in essence means fairness.

would trials conducted by victors against losers ever be fair? even when there is no doubt about the guilt of the defendant?

wouldn't it be more honest and even fair to punish the losers straight away?

for one thing it would be less messy and certainly less frustrating for the victims and their families. then there would not have been autopsies and accusations and counter accusations about who is responsible for milosevic’s death. there would not have been almost comic antics at the trial in iraq.

such punishment would be revenge pure and simple. can modern democratic societies justify revenge honestly?

some might argue that it is best to know the truth about historical events in details so that victims get 'closure' and history its record, instead of festering wounds and nagging doubts. question is whether courts can ever get to truth. wouldn't something like south africa's truth and reconciliation commission be better at this?

fact is we will not get to truth and fairness unless both losers and victors go through the same scrutiny and process.

they say history is written by the victors. unfortunately for victors they too will lose someday. twenty five years ago soviet historians writing about russian revolution would have been convinced that history will judge it as a glorious victory for proletariat. now we know it was an ignominious coup by a few power hungry people with no mass support.

world will eventually get to a point when fate of present victors and losers will not materially affect those who examine the issue. perhaps then justice will be done. at that point people may perhaps judge that nato bombing of bosnian serbs was a worse atrocity than anything that happened during siege of sarajevo. perhaps they may not. they may judge that george bush was right to invade even though it cost thousands of innocent iraqi lives because he got rid of a worse criminal. perhaps they may not.

who are we to judge even if we win? better be selfish and get rid of the loser for revenge or for profit and be honest about it, if only to ourselves.

Friday, March 10, 2006

farmer beggars

sri lankan farmers once (long time ago) so proud have turned in to militant beggars. according to reports we are going to get a record breaking maha harvest. needless to say this will mean drastic reduction in prices. farmers will be reduced to selling below cost and we are probably in for a rash of suicides from april on. protests have already started with police batten charging a protest organized by jvp in polonnaruwa yesterday.

this is the inevitable consequence of granting subsides to rice farmers. in sri lanka subsides to rice farmers comes in two forms, below market price for fertilizer and guaranteed buying price for rice produced. in both cases government has neither the mechanism nor the resources to satisfy even a plurality of farmers, let alone every one of them.

however farmers have fallen for the promise of subsides consistently in both voting for the politicians who promise most and in cultivating rice in places that can only make profit if those subsidy promises are kept, if at all. according to reports this maha season had the largest land area under paddy cultivation.

even if the government can afford subsidies (paid by taxing and mortgaging more productive sri lankans), situation will only worsen because it will only encourage more people into rice farming and more land will go under the plow. an imaginary reference to paddy fields being turned into more productive uses in the ranil's manifesto was enough to effectively ridicule him during the last election. unfortunately neither ranil or unp or anybody else had enough backbone to confront the issue head on and say that growing rice is hardly the best use for the land, for instance in colombo district. as for mahinda buffalo and herd, they probably believe in subsides like a bunch of idiots or farmers. even the treasury secretary who is not a complete idiot went so far as to say that fertilizer subsidy should be considered an investment. nobody asked, least of all what goes here as the press, how 'an investment' that results in overproduction that cannot be sold here or abroad unless at a huge loss is good for the country.

in reality sri lankan rice production destroys economic value. value of inputs including subsides, now exceed the value of output.

nobody is willing to admit this reality. it is much easier to blame the private mill owners who buy at rock bottom prices, or the government bureaucracy for inefficiency, or in the case of opposition government politicians for not allocating money.

well i suppose some people have to learn it the hard way. so when you see farmer suicides, protesters getting beaten up, or fasts unto 'death', remember those beggars brought this upon themselves and do not deserve sympathy.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

hollywood not liberal enough?

(this post is a day late but i was busy. btw word liberal is used here in the american sense which means, as far left as one can go while remaining respectable. american liberals being scared stiff to be honest and accept the fact that their views are more or less socialist).

to judge by the almost hysterical reaction from assorted liberals to upset caused by crash beating liberal darling brokeback mountain to the best film oscar, hollywood had suddenly turned conservative. it's almost laughable. to read them we are going to see a gay bashing cowboy as governor of california when the present idiot's term ends.

according to them crash won because,
  • members of academy are still not advanced enough to accept gays (forget the fact academy members are disproportionately gay, as was repeatedly remarked on before the ceremony),
  • crash is set locally in los angeles and it's car culture (forget that l.a. in the film is lot more shittier than it actually is),
  • crash had a large number of actors (as if that is not a reason not to vote for it, as well as to forget history and the fact that it had the lowest budget),
  • crash's studio sent out huge number of film's dvds to academy members at a cost reportedly of 4 million dollars on the theory that if they see it they will vote for it (imo well done, given that the movie, unlike the others, was handicapped because it opened way too early for oscar consideration and was backed by a studio- lionsgate films - that makes money mainly by producing bad horror movies),
  • academy members were tired of seeing brokeback winning so many other awards (this is only from really desperate but only half jokingly).

crash won because it was the better film and academy chose to judge the nominees on their merits instead of their theme. i am glad they did so and proved my assumptions wrong.

btw crash consistently held the lead in imdb ratings (it has been in top 250 at no 75 for sometime, a feat none of the other four achieved) though like almost everywhere else brokeback was the favorite to win in specific oscar poll at imdb.

people who think brokeback was the better film should recall any other good film with a tragic love story (a surprisingly rare breed among quality films btw) and do a comparison. they will then hopefully understand that there was something missing in brokeback.

in addition oscars clearly confirmed that jon stewart is a bit player. his usual toothless uncontroversial jokes (as i have remarked in passing earlier) only capable of appealing to the limited sensibilities of political liberals who watch his show. as a washington post columnist said he should have kept his 'daily' job. that he fell flat on his nose should not have come as a surprise, but media chose overlook his forgettable record as a grammy host in the run up to the oscars. instead speculating that his presence will attract 'young and hip' to the oscars, as if 2 million people (at most) who regularly watch his show, are not the same kind of people who watch the oscars already. it's curious how american media can be blind to the obvious when in hype mode.

Monday, March 06, 2006

brokeback mountain, crash, and the oscar

after spending my days and nights at other people's homes and hotel rooms with minimal sleep for most of last week i got home on friday and had one of my 12 hour sleeps (from 8am to 8pm saturday). to fill the 36 hour hole that then appeared in my life i decided on a movie marathon and chose to re watch four of the five films nominated for best motion picture (i don't have and haven't seen capote). i must say i had a great time watching all of them while drinking pots and pots of tea interspersed with random browsing and emailings. they are all good enough films though none of them are great imo. since then i had a nap, read the news, had a great dinner, and probably landed on earth. this post will get rid of whatever levitation still with me.

there is minimum amount of spoilers here, but i always recommend that people watch the films before they read any comments (this is not a review) or reviews. that is a courtesy to the film maker.

one of the curious facts about this year's oscar nominated feature films is that they all did less business than one (probable winner) of the nominated documentary features, namely la marche de l'empereur (march of the penguins). here are latest available figures for u.s.a. with budget for each film (courtesy imdb).
gross income
gross as at date
estimated budget for film
la marche de l'empereur
27 november 2005
brokeback mountain
19 february 2006
19 february 2006
11 september 2005
good night, and good luck
19 february 2006
19 february 2006

it's probable that some of these movies will go past the penguins (especially if they win) but then they may not (penguins will probably win too). however one has to ask; were these films really that good that they deserve to be nominated even though they seem to have made only respectable amounts of money (and munich a loss)?

with the exception of crash (and capote since i have not seen it) imo the answer is no. if hollywood cannot find very good high grossing films to compete in best film category and most of the films actually nominated are mediocre then either the hollywood or the nomination body of the american acedemy has a problem.

who will win?
most people will know by the time they read this. at the time of writing brokeback is considered almost certain to win (with one dollar futures contracts in betting sites going at 80 cents to the dollar and increasing). frankly i cannot see why. i don't think ang lee did justice to himself in this film. it is moving alright but not as much as one can imagine it to be. it is as some people have said a tragic love story and heath ledger and others do a great job but i have seen enough love stories to know that this comes short. when jack twist says 'god, i wish i knew how to quit you!' i for one did not feel his feelings were that strong before that. in other words there was a feeling that i was told explicitly what to feel and think, instead of letting the cinematic language letting me feel it. for instance, does the fact ennis del mar hardly opens his mouth, need to be remarked by other characters repeatedly?

imo main reason this film was nominated was because of its gay theme. that is all very good if oscars are humanitarian awards. i thought they were for cinematic achievements, maybe i am wrong.

crash also have a humanitarian purpose but unlike brokeback it makes better use of cinema. tightly drawn in your face plots compressed in time and place (compression always works in dramatic plots from ancient greece down) with some help from sharp editing, make the characters and viewers confront their own racist prejudices normally covered up by political correctness. as we crash our way towards the unconventional resolution of rather sentimental (almost mawkish, made bearable by humor) non tragedies and one tragedy with liberal dose of improbable coincidences, we do learn something and derive no small amount of pleasure. at least i did. acting was impeccable from almost everyone in the large cast, with matt dillon standing out.

that is why i would have voted for crash if i was member of academy, but i wasn't. thank god. collective responsibility is a curse.

as for the others, munich is bearable and one with forgettable name is forgettable, capote i have not watched.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

extend firefox contest has announced winners of extend firefox contest.

firefox extensions are addons that enhance the functionality of firefox browser.

contest was for extensions to firefox 1.5. overall winner was an extension called reveal.

it displays web pages in browser's tabs and/or history as thumbnails for easy selection. when one has twenty or so tabs open this is very useful. it also has a search function and a magnifier.
here is a pic of reveal at work in my firefox.

Friday, March 03, 2006

100 days of mahinda buffalo, how sensible was he?

in my post what mahinda buffalo would do if he has any sense dated 21st november 2005, i enumerated several adverse impressions that buffalo has created on various groups of people and listed what he (if sensible) would do to get rid of those impressions. now that we have passed 100 days of his presidency, it's time to evaluate his progress and speculate on his possible future course of action.

1. give no opportunity to ltte to go back to war.
he has been fairly successful in this. by being patient and refusing to be provoked by tiger's cowardly killing of soldiers he was able to force them to talks. he has more or less ignored the jvp/jhu mutterings. he has to keep going in this route and not let the pussies find an excuse for walking away from talks and restarting the war. they are trying their best to do that by insisting on full implementation of cfa (especially with regard to disarming of paramilitaries). in order to wrong foot them buffalo should propose a federal solution and insist that peace talks deal with that too. that way when war comes (i still believe war is inevitable) government will escape the blame.

2.appoint a centrist opposed to jvp as the prime minister and if there are unp defections get some in to cabinet in prominent positions. release s.b. to encourage defections and generally make trouble for unp.
has appointed a nonentity pm based on seniority (effect zero),
has encouraged defections (only partially successful. he should ignore the jvp objections. jvp won't leave because of unp turncoats so he has nothing to fear on that account),
has released s.b (but too late, ranil has regained control of unp).

3.make jvp realize who is the boss immediately. give them ministries, but ones he wants, not ones they demand......
he tried to do that, jvp refused. he was right not to give in. buffalo should realize that jvp wants power without responsibility and intend to leave him when it suit them.
he must prepare for that from now on. he should make clear to jvp that if they want power they have to shoulder responsibilities of government on his terms and they are not going to get a free ride now. he has been rather soft on jvp in this regard. if he is sensible he should be tougher.

4. stick with the budget presented at the beginning of the month as much as possible...
he is doing that for the most part. however the subsides removed in that budget were reintroduced in the buffalo's budget and will soon come to haunt him.

5. cut the cabinet to 20
failed completely. cabinet includes all the governing party mps. in addition to waste this also fails in its intended purpose of keeping the loyalty of mps during an internal political coup. rewards for loyalty should not be commonplace.

6. give every thing the minorities demand that can be given. get cwc and slmc in to government...
mostly successful. with cwc contesting local government polls with the upfa in some local councils. again he should override jvp objections.

7. do not dissolve parliament.
so far so good. he should dissolve parliament only if he can get jvp to contest under upfa on his terms (these terms should include limiting their number of mps to more or less the same proportion as now). a possible (though not certain) humiliation of jvp at the local government elections will help.

on balance buffalo has been sensible and broken most of his election promises, surprisingly enough. will he continue?