Thoughts from the Loo

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Sunday, September 25, 2005

[E] Moving...

I am, at least temporarily, moving my infrequent blogging efforts to LiveJournal, entirely for the purpose of experimentation. I will quite possibly be back here, in which case you will probably not see this entry anyway... :)

Sunday, May 29, 2005

[E][P] The Constitution

Preliminary results from French referendum on European Constitution are in: Chirac and Europe have lost, 55%:45%. Who has won? Nobody, probably...

Mr. Chirac did not have to put the Constitution to referendum; National Assembly has authority to pass the law ratifying it. However, he wanted to show he has strong support, whatever his policy. Europe is paying for this hubris.

Analysts claim that anti-Constitution mood has very little to do with The Union and its proposed Constitution; "no" vote is simply a message to the government is question. This is probably so. However, I don't think I am in a mood to support those who only want subsidies from Europe: I think my next car will be of Czeck manufacture.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

[E] Hot Air

When American energy lobby and their tame scientists and Presidents deny dangers of global warming (or, more PC put, climate change), that's not news. But when a widely respected senior scientist, a botanist David Bellamy joins them (in a letter to New Scientist, a reputable British weekly for amateur science fans), that is something completely different.

George Monbiot of AlterNet did an excellent job of tracing Bellamy's sources. It would be highly entertaining were it not sad.

See IceAgeNow, an amusing site of a charlatan or fraud peddling his book on incoming ice age.

Not all people giving space to climate change skeptics are cuckoos or frauds; see, for example, here.

Actual climatologists debunk most outrageous "sceptics'" claims, comment recent news and generally conduct a lively discussion here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

[E][P] Food, Oil and Words

Mr. George Galloway, a rogue British ex-Labour PM, testified before US House Committee on Unameric... oops, no, this was Senate sub-committee, on his alleged role in scams around Iraq oil for food program. Well, the guy simply destroyed poor clueless senators (you see, no use of lobbyist-prepared statements in a real debate). Excerpts, CNN comment, BBC comment and full video.

The guy is probably generally not blameless, but this is a gem, if only for entertainment value of its brilliant rhetoric.

Monday, May 16, 2005

[E][P] Populism

This one is from Croatia, but all of my compatriots who perhaps might read this speak English, anyway... So:

We had local elections yesterday. The party I actively support (for the lack of anything better) (SDP) got 40% votes in Zagreb, bringing it to a single seat short of absolute majority in municipal assembly. The results in boroughs are even better. So, why am I depressed?

There it this guy who was instrumental in bringing Zagreb SDP from the dead a decade ago. The man is incorrigible populist: he appears everywhere, has quick solutions for all problems, taking shortcuts and openly ignoring laws. When he was "demoted" to deputy-mayor after a drunk driving incident, he somehow managed to continue to "rule" totally ignoring the new (incompetent) mayor. He had his successes, but also undertook several grandiose project of dubious values.

So, SDP conducted a number of low-profile opinion polls and concluded that electorate wants its bombastic, corner-cutting and scandal prone former mayor. Yesterday's results confirmed that. Sigh...

Saturday, May 14, 2005

[E][P] Church and Holocaust

There's an op-ed text in NYT on failure of The Holy See to admit and apologize for its failure to use its moral authority to stop the Holocaust. (As usually, the author only mentions six millions Jewish victims; others, like Romany, are forgotten again.) It is mentioned that bishops in France and Germany did issue statements expressing regret for their passivity.

In Croatia, priests, monks and nuns played very mixed role. Some were rabid nazis, some very actively helped Partisans (including actual combat); most were in between. Head of Church in Croatia, Archbishop of Zagreb and later cardinal Alojzije Stepinac was tried and sentenced to long prison term as collaborator; the trial left a bit to be desired in impartiality and judicial correctness department. Stepinac is now considered a victim of Communist tyranny, but I am not so sure...

Anyway, I think that the Catholic Church in Croatia would do well to express its regret it did not do more to stop the slaughter of Jews, Romany, Serbs and Communists and others opposing the occupiers and the puppet regime in wartime Croatia. It could have probably have done more to temper the post-war regime excesses, too.

Monday, May 09, 2005

[E][P] Europe 25, a year later

Cheap labour from 'the East' has not swamped the West (except for jobs Germans and French don't think about taking for decades now). Eastern economies did not collapse under the pressure of competition once barriers got dismantled (though some, like pampered Slovenian food industry, did feel the heat). All said, the enlargement went surprisingly smoothly.

And yet, people in some of 'core' EU countries, France and Netherlands, are very unlikely to approve the new European Constitution. What is the problem they have with it? Most, of course, never read it, and don't have a clue what's in there. I won't rehash analyses of what the voters are protesting against (mostly having nothing to do with Europe). I will just say I am sad that their petty nationalism and xenophobia (and they are so quick to accuse us 'lesser nations' of that), their fear of change and their domestic quarrels will lead them to betray the European dream.

Today, when China and the rest of Asia is growing at astonishing rate, and that supposedly friendly giant across the Atlantic has grown positively mad, we need strong Europe more that ever. Perhaps not the United States of Europe, but certainly not the bunch of quarreling, suspicious neighbours of the second millenium.

[E][P] Another Europe Day

60 years ago an era of unthinkable evil ended, hopefully for good. During the last 15 years new Croatian politicians tried to distance themselves from anything remotely smacking of Communism (and some of them received hefty contributions from extreme right wing emigration), so the theme of Croatian antifascism was rarely brought up. This year, however, I see it more on places like public TV, and finally young people indoctrinated in right propaganda can catch a glimpse of the fact that my little country, through struggle of Communist-led Partisans, did more to defeat fascism than all of occupied Western and Central Europe combined (including France).

Somehow, people in power from 1990 managed to make the puppet Ustaše regime in Zagreb more visible to the world than the fact the Partisans kept half of the country free in the middle of the war, even before any help from Allies began to trickle in. That perception, no doubt, helped to introduce 'balanced approach' to war crimes in ex-Yugoslavia (the primary reason for which is, of course, to justify almost total indifference 'the world', Europe included, displayed towards murderous fascism that differed from that of sixty-something years ago only in size and lack ofphysicall power, discipline and technical sophistication).

For some of my readers (if there indeed are such creatures at all) the fact that strong Partisan movement in what was Yugoslavia was Croat-led, or that 'Balkan war' 1990-1995 was not result of 'centuries of hatred' with all sides being more or less alike but the case of a fascist regime (masquerading as socialist, but that is nothing new, either) gripping to power through expansionist wars and virulent ultra-nationalism might be new. If so, I will be happy to provide more arguments and proof. But I have wandered way beyond the intended theme of this post.

Happy Europe Day!

Sunday, March 06, 2005

[E] Not in mood for blogging yet...

I have returned from Paris, New Year holidays have come and gone, likewise Croatian presidential elections (both rounds of them) with all the folly that goes with them. The world is no more intelligent, honest or diligent than before, be it local politicians and 'businessmen' or the favourite target of my interest and comments, Americans. Still, I somehow don't have energy to comment... Sigh. Maybe later.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

[H][P] Pritisak

Iz "Briefinga":
Ponudu uprave T-HT-a da prihvate stimulativne otpremnine za odlazak iz tvrtke prihvatilo je 2.300 zaposlenika, izvijestio je T-HT. Otpremnine iznose od 129.000 do 221.000 kuna neto za one koji su u T-HT-u proveli više od pet godina, a Republički sindikat radnika hrvatske pošte i telekomunikacija tvrdi da je dio zaposlenika ponudu prihvatio pod velikim pritiskom.
Da, pritiskalu su ih tiskajući im u ruke otpremninu o kakvoj "obični" radnici koji ostanu bez posla mogu samo sanjati. Zašto se sindikati nekadašnjih (i sadašnjih) državnih monopola ponašaju kao svete krave?

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

[E][A] Metro full of Da Vinci

Allas, the Dan Brown's novel, not the Italian master's works. The fact that the novel which, in my opinion, does not deserve special attention, manages to comprise perhaps half of Paris comuters' current library is really a tribute to literary marketing.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

[E][A] On Graphomania

My current book for the metro is Milan Kundera’s “The Book of Laughter and Forgetting” (“Kniha Smichu a Zapomneni”) from 1978. It’s interesting that the English translation I am reading was done in 1995 from “the authentic French edition”, as Kundera put it, not from the Check original. Anyway, instead of a review (which I might yet attempt), I am noting here several thoughts the author had about writing:
That conversation with the taxi driver [who said he was writing a book but his children weren't interested in what he was doing] suddenly made clear to me the essence of the writer’s occupation. We write books because our children aren’t interested in us. We address ourselves to an anonymous world because our wives plus their ears when we speak to them.
The paragraphs that follow this might very well be applied to weblogs and bloggers who write them (except, perhaps, the bit about there being no dramatic social changes), and therefore, to myself:

You might say that the taxi driver was not a writer but a graphomaniac. So we need to be precise about our concepts. A woman who writes her lover four letters a day is not a graphomaniac. She is a lover. But my friend who makes photocopies of his love letters to publish them someday is a graphomaniac. Graphomania is not a desire to write letters (to write for oneself or one’s close relations) but a desire to write books (to have a public of unknown readers). In that sense, the taxi driver and Goethe share the same passion. What distinguishes Goethe from the taxi driver is not a difference n passion but one passion’s different results.

Graphomania (a mania for writing books) inevitably takes on epidemic proportions when a society develops to the point of creating three basic conditions:
  1. an elevated level of general well-being, which allows people to devote themselves to useless activities;

  2. a high degree of social atomization and, as a consequence, a general isolation of individuals;

  3. the absence of dramatic social changes in the nation’s internal life. (From this point of view, it seems to me symptomatic that in France, where practically nothing happens, the percentage of writers is twenty-one times higher than in Israel. Bibi [a young woman intending to write “a book about the world as she sees it”] is, moreover, right to say that looked as from the outside, she hasn’t experienced anything. The mainspring that drives her to write is just that absence of vital content, that void.)
But by a backlash, the effect affects the cause. General isolation breeds graphomania, and generalized graphomania in turn intensifies and worsens isolation. The invention of printing formerly enabled people to understand one another. In the era of universal graphomania, the writing of books has an opposite meaning: everyone surrounded by his own words as by a wall of mirrors, which allows no voice to filter through from outside.
[Quoted from Milan Kundera: “The Book of Laughter and Forgetting”, translation by Aaron Asher, Faber and Faber, 2000; used without permission]

Thursday, November 04, 2004

[E][P] Yes, 'Daily Mirror', sadly, ...

... 59 million people really can be so dumb! (Go here, look for Nov 4 2004 at the bottom if it fell off the page.) It's not so simple, of course, and it did help that Karl Rove is clearly a genius, but still....

So, it is over now, and no post can change anything (as if anybody reads this), but I will nevertheless post the list of Dubya's accomplishments that I got (via multiple forwards) from one of Democrats' "flying lawyers". Some on the items are slightly tongue-in-cheek, some might not even be completely true, and some, most frighteningly, will be considered real accomplishments by those 59 million. But at least they won't be able to say in four years that somebody else screwed them...

Anyway, here it goes:

  • I attacked and took over 2 countries.

  • I spent the U.S. surplus and bankrupted the US Treasury.

  • I shattered the record for the biggest annual deficit in history (not easy!).

  • I set an economic record for the most personal bankruptcies filed in a 12 month period.

  • I set all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the stock market.

  • I am the first president in decades to execute a federal prisoner.

  • In my first year in office I set the all-time record for most days on vacation by any president. (Tough to beat dad's, but I did).

  • After taking the entire month of August off for vacation, I presided over the worst security failure in US history.

  • I set the record for most campaign fund raising trips by any president in US history.

  • In my first two years in office over 2 million Americans lost their jobs.

  • I cut unemployment benefits for more out-of-work Americans than any other president in US history.

  • I set the all-time record for most real estate foreclosures in a 12-month period.

  • I appointed more convicted criminals to administration positions than any president in US history.

  • I set the record for the fewest press conferences of any president, since the advent of TV.

  • I signed more laws and executive orders amending the Constitution than any other US president in history.

  • I presided over the biggest energy crises in US history and refused to intervene when corruption was revealed.

  • I cut health care benefits for war veterans.

  • I set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously take to the streets to protest me (15 million people), shattering the record for protest against any person in the history of mankind.

  • I dissolved more international treaties than any president in US history.

  • I've made my presidency the most secretive and unaccountable of any in US history.

  • Members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in US history. (The poorest multimillionaire, Condoleezza Rice, has a Chevron oil tanker named after her.)

  • I am the first president in US history to have all 50 states of the Union simultaneously struggle against bankruptcy.

  • I presided over the biggest corporate stock market fraud in any market in any country in the history of the world.

  • I am the first president in US history to order a US attack AND military occupation of a sovereign nation, and I did so against the will of the United Nations and the vast majority of the international community.

  • I have created the largest government department bureaucracy in the history of the United States, called the "Bureau of Homeland Security"(only one letter away from BS).

  • I set the all-time record for biggest annual budget spending increases, more than any other president in US history (Ronnie was tough to beat,but I did it!!).

  • I am the first president in US history to compel the United Nations remove the US from the Human Rights Commission.

  • I am the first president in US history to have the United Nations remove the US from the Elections Monitoring Board.

  • I removed more checks and balances, and have the least amount of congressional oversight than any presidential administration in US history.

  • I rendered the entire United Nations irrelevant. I withdrew from the World Court of Law.

  • I refused to allow inspectors access to US prisoners of war and by default no longer abide by the Geneva Conventions.

  • I am the first president in US history to refuse United Nations election inspectors access during the 2002 US elections.

  • I am the all-time US (and world) record holder for most corporate campaign donations.

  • The biggest lifetime contributor to my campaign, who is also one of my best friends, presided over one of the largest corporate bankruptcy frauds in world history (Kenneth Lay, former CEO of Enron Corporation).

  • I spent more money on polls and focus groups than any president in US history.

  • I am the first US president to establish a secret shadow government.

  • I took the world's sympathy for the US after 9/11, and in less than a year made the US the most resented country in the world (possibly the biggest diplomatic failure in US and world history).

  • I am the first US president in history to have a majority of the people of Europe (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and stability.

  • I changed US policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts.

  • I set the all-time record for the number of administration appointees who violated US law by not selling their huge investments in corporations bidding for gov't contracts.

  • I have removed more freedoms and civil liberties for Americans than any other president in US history.

  • I entered office with the strongest economy in US history and in less than two years turned every single economic category heading straight down.


    • I have at least one conviction for drunk driving in Maine (Texas driving record has been erased and is not available).

    • I was AWOL from the National Guard and deserted the military during time of war.

    • I refuse to take a drug test or even answer any questions about drug use.

    • All records of my tenure as governor of Texas have been spirited away to my fathers library, sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

    • All records of any SEC investigations into my insider trading or bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

    • All minutes of meetings of any public corporation for which I served on the board are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

    • Any records or minutes from meetings I (or my VP) attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

[E][P] The Incompetent or the Incoherent?

That's The Economist's cover story title. OK, the incompetent is easy; but I was a bit surprised at the magazine labeling Kerry incoherent.

Perhaps is has something to do with a world according to a conservative talk-radio host featured on CNN:
There are not many liberal talk-radio hosts. They are not interesting. They see everything in shades of gray. We see the world black and white, as all conservatives tend to do.
In other words, a talk show host must be an opinionated moron, because his audience is. And, apparently, so should a presidential candidate, at least American one. Sad.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

[E][P] Bin Laden Jumps Into Campaign

The new Bin Laden's tape appeared some three days before American presidendial elections. Bin Laden look almost academical, sitting at the lectern, "clean shaved, as far as these folks get", as Walter Cronkite put it at CNN. Naturally, Bin Laden attcked Bush. Also naturally, this helped Dubya (although just slightly, judging by polls). Again, in paraphrased Cronkite's words, "this is as if Karl Rove got him to reappear". One can draw one of two conclusions:

1) Bush is actually better for Bin Laden that Kerry. OK, no surprises there, we knew that.

2) Now, the other possibility is too terrible to contemplate, because it would mean that the most radical conspiracy theorists were right. I refuse to even think about it.

Friday, October 29, 2004

[E][P] The Buttiglione Affair

Two weeks ago "Charlemagne", a columnist for "The Economist" wrote that European Parliament is playing "an intoxicating game of 'let's pretend'", pretending that is was a real parliament, deciding about a real cabinet. Of course, the matter at hand was confirmation hearings before parliamentary commitees, which Rocco Buttiglione, nominated for justice and home portfolio, failed. ("The Economist" thinks that nomination of José Manuel Barroso for Commission president was also result of such pretension games.) Charlemagne noted that the Parliament has no power to reject individual commissioners, and that "the nuclear option" of rejecting the whole commission was unthinkable. Buttiglione was almost a random victim, said Charlemagne; what about a handful of other nominees with very checkered track record, or being too close to industry and various lobying groups, or simply not looking all that competent?

Well, Mr. Barroso withdrew his cabinet from confirmation vote when he realized the Parliament would go for the "nuclear option". Mr. Buttiglione decided to stand aside (although his national government, i.e. Mr. Berlusconi, stood behind him, and Catholic Church mounted quite a campaign in his support), but Barroso was told this would not be enough. It seems MEPs really do have concerns about some of those other commissioner nominees.

What is "Charlemagne's" comment now? This migth be a case of elected politicians asserting themselves against the bureaucrats (and their own governments), and the Parliament might have gained new admirers, but perhaps they should stick to benefits of quiet obscurity... It seems that European Parliament can do no right, in "Charlemagne's" opinion.

News outfits like CNN reacted to this development with assorted worried noises about "the future" of the Union, "credibility" of the Commission, even the Parliament, things like that. Is it so strange for an elected body to do its job? Apparently so, for many.

BTW, I agree that a guy with Kirche, Kueche, Kinder outlook at women's place in the world who thinks about other people's behaviour in their bedrooms in terms like "sin" has no place in Europe's executive branch. I thought that his sincereness during confirmation hearing about his beliefs was quite commendable and unusual for your typical politician. However, he soon returned to business as usual, trying to paint himself a kind of martyr (see here). Perhaps he was sincere because he misjudged commitee's "balance of power", and then again, perhaps I am just cynical.

Anyway, this incident can be interpreted as a part of long struggle the smallest European (and world's, I think) country, that is, Vatican, leads to stop decline of its influence on the continent. It is said that Margaret Thatcher considered all this EU affair a "Catholic conspiracy". Indeed, it looked as if the Church has good shot at cramming a line on "Christian foundations" of Europe into preamble of the new Constitution. But I think that, after the wave of fresh Catholics who all of sudden found their faith in coutries like Poland or Slovenia subides and only actually religious people are left in churches, such efforts at "de-secularization" of Europe will gradually cease. In the meantime, the Buttiglione affair is sure not to be the last we have heard about the place of "official religion" Vatican would like to be has in the continent's political life.

Wow, this started as a one-liner about Buttiglione's honesty; then "The European's" take was added, and look at it now....

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

[E][P] Dr. Hebrang, Everything is Forgiven

I read another day an article (I lost the link) about more and more US veterans not having health insurance. The article also complained that those who are covered through VA enjoy less than stellar level of care. An VA official retorted along these lines:
Veterans insured through VA enjoy approximately same level of service as general population on a HMO plan: for example, they rarely wait for a primary care physician appointment for more that 30 days.
I felt that systematic destruction of Croatian health care system done during last decade by our homegrown right-wing morons put as at something like 189. place among world nations. However, there seems to be long way to go to catch the most powerful country in the world. Dr. Hebrang, everything is forgiven, you weren't so effective.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

[E] Boom again? (I hope not!)

Down the short Rue Greuze in which I temporarily live are embassies of Spain and Thailand. For the last week or so in front of the later are those omnipresent (in Paris) barricades used for corraling pedestrians for the purpose of avoiding falling into a hole in the pavement, making show ticket queues more orderly, keeping streets free for Tour de France competitors or trying to keep protesting students in check. Barricades are manned by half a dozen soldiers and few police officers; two military 4WDs are always here. But, as pedestrians (i.e. me) are not stopped, I was not nervous about that. However, two days ago soldiers and police began regular sweeps of the street, looking under cars, poking at trash bags, removing cardoard boxes left out for garbage collectors, chatting with staff of the corner bistro. Looking for bombs, in other words. Now I am nervous a slight bit.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

[E][P] War's a Bitch!

Some American reservists are discovering that war is, generally speaking, dangerous, and that military discipline on the frontline is not always a pleasant thing. Perhaps their parents, friends and relatives will have that in mind before being too gung-ho about going to the next war. (See, for example, here, or Google for 'Iraq mutiny' or something like that - it will be all over the Web.)

Friday, October 15, 2004

[E][A] I'll Skip This One

I like a good thriller, mystery, police procedural novel, whatever these are called. The best authors seem to be women: P.D.James, Minette Walters, Elisabeth George. I will also gladly read a competent techno-thriller, like those from an old reactionary Tom Clancy (but emphatically not those thom "his workshop"). Recently I tried to add another one to the trio of my favorite lady writers, a quite popular Patricia Cornwell. I was a bit doubtful after reading her short work, a kind of truncated Dr. Scarpetta'a cookbook. The recipies were incomplete and quite uninspiring - nothing to learn there. Anyway, there was nothing new from my favourite reliable authors at the place I was browsing and 'Cause of Death' is a full novel, so perhaps it's worth a try... Well, it wasn't.

I don't know much about forensic pathology and post-mortems, but do a bit about computers, technology in general and physics (all of which play a part in the novel). I can warn you that Cornwell has done a very poor job at research. She obviously has no first idea how a computer works (which is not a big deal - you ask someone who does), but decides to impress the reader by phrases such as "programming discs of his 486 computer". Of course, it did not occur to her that "486 computer" has no meaning (for the purpose of placing the machine as ancient, mainstream or bleeding-edge, which was the intention) without knowing the timeframe within monthts (and being computer history buff). Scarpetta's wunderkind niece designs databases and pattern-recognition software FBI uses for forensic ballistics, constructs robots, writes telepresence software for them and operates them (a piece of dialogue between her and one of colegues about robot's software is particulatly laughable), all while being 23 year old self-destructive alcoholic. Very realistic. Cornell commits more writers' mortal sins, like develping a sub-plot and then simply forgetting it, because the main one concludes. Et cetera. Nuclear physics parts are no better (though power plant bits seem to be at least perfunctorily researched).

But I have another gripe: for Scarpetta (and, I am affraid, Conwell) those who cannot afford to live in "mansions" or at least gated-in communities are sub-human. Scarpetta is divorced without children, but finds it necessary to build a two-story house inside one of those guarded compounds. She does not know her immediate neighbours, and considers that a virtue. Very exceptionally, in someone consistently and reliably does Scarpetta's bidding (like a police captain who follows her like a puppy) can be reluctantly granted human status. Only "mansions" are called "homes" by Cornwell; anything where people have actual neighbours is a "project", something to be avoided at all costs and populated with drug addicts at bests and dealers and other criminals more probably; they are just Scarpetta's "cases". For example:
Century-old row houses and Greek Revival homes had been brilliantly restored by people bold enough to reclaim a historic section of the city from the clutches of decay and crime. For most residents, the chance they took had turned out fine, but I knew I could not live near housing projects and depressed areas where the major industry was drugs.
Therefore, live in the "project", and you are doomed to a early death from a bullet, stab or overdose.


[E][A] Speaking of 'Projects'

Jenny Barchfield writes in "Newsweek" about debut novel "Kiffe Kiffe Demain" by Faize Guene, a 19 year old French girl of Algerian origin. By the second paraghraph we read:
In "Kiffe Kiffe", Guene takes readers across the proverbial tracks - in this case, the superhighway that divides Paris proper from the sparawling ghettos that surround it - to her home in projects. Not since director Matthieu Kassovitz's 1995 hit film "Hate" has there been such a compelling portrait of the Parisian suburbs: drug-dealers on the street corners amid massive, dilapidated housing projects.
I havan't read the novel nor wathched the film, but I am pretty sure that for discrepancy between these few sentences and what I see in Paris Barchfield is to blame, not Guene and Kassowitz. Paris (including its 20 'inner' arrondissements) is full of "housing projects" with very colorful tenants, all very well kept, clean (maybe cleaner that "old Paris", at least doue to less dog poo all over the pavements), without much grafitty, with functioning street lighting and unvadalized playgrounds. Periferique (not a particularly "super" highway) rarely makes a border between sharply contrasting neighborhoods; more often you don't even notice it, as it goes through series of tunnels and over viaducts, and the neighborhoods on both sides are very similar, although administratively different cities. This not to say that everything in Paris is idylic: I currently work in Saint-Denis, really not a very nice place; pretty depresive, actually. But even here the "bad" part is derelict old town core, not "the projects" of which there are quite a few (and revitalization seems to be working, including the parts of the centre).

What is it with Americans that they cannot imagine normal life in an appartment building (except if it very expensive, in which case it ia not a "project" any more and becomes a "condo")? As if the problem is in city administration trying to provide housing (especially for lower-income population) without paving over the whole country. I suggest that they try and see for themselves how it works in Paris (or, for example, Vienna; even Zagreb's southern "projects" seem to be heaven compared to what Americans expect).

Thursday, October 14, 2004

[E][P] Supreme Revenge

As you probably know, a country cannot be a member of Council of Europe (not to be confused with European Council) if it practices capital punishment; the organization is meant only for relatively civilized nations. (Admidetly, savages such as USA (see further) are sometimes granted observer status.)

Curently in the USA there are 73 people on 'death row' who commited their crimes when under 18 years old. 'The Boston Globe' has an article on Supreme Court's recent deliberations on constitutiality of death penatlies for minors (who are deemed not mature enough to have a beer or consent to sex). According to the article, one of the Justices, "Anthony Kennedy, appeared to be skeptical about banning death sentences for 16- and 17-year-olds, citing ''chilling" examples of gruesome murders committed by 17-year-olds." Obviously, the Justice (and not only he, alas) does not comprehend the difference between justice, penalty and Old Testamen-style revenge.

Deliberations were witnessed by Chinese Chief Justice. He was pleased to anounce that the People's Republic has renounced this barbaric practice (Somalia did that some time ago), leaving the USA the last country in the world to institutionally kill people for crimes they commited as children (they gave up on retarded criminals two years ago).

Let me also remind you that more than 100 death row inmates were recently exonerated by DNA tests. If you are USA citizen due to vote soon, please also remember how your half-wit extremely poor excuse for President gloated describing how a female Texan awaiting lethal injection begged for mercy, which he, as a Governor, naturally denied. He found it very funny. (Speaking of injections, AFAIK a physician has some role in conducting death penalty; have they forgotten their Oath of Hippocrates?)

[E][P] The Worst Mexican President Ever

Rafael Barajas (El Fisgón) writes:

The typical Mexican political boss has an inclination toward violence and cruelty; he despises legality and intellectual activity, has a personal history of alcoholism and dissipation and lies systematically. Sound familiar?

He goes on to note how in this age of globalization one of truly global-impact processes, that of American presidential elections, is, regretably, not globalized.

I kind of feel similar: I am affraid I will be thoroughly affected by the result of what passes for elections in the US of A. That's why you will probably find several more posts here on the topic geographically over an ocean, but potentially almost as important for everyone as our own elections.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

[E] Boom! (again)

My friend Zvonči was leaving Paris for Zagreb today, so I went with her to the CDG airport. We were walking down the lenght of long and narrow terminal 2B concourse trying to locate appropriate passport control booth (this particular terminal is organised so that you first go through passport check, and only then to check-in), when we encountered several police or airport security guys clearing an area of the concourse perhaps 10 meters long. As luck would have it, that area contained the booths we were after. Lukcily, there was plenty of time - Zvonči likes to leave herself wide margins. Anyway, we went outside for a smoke and saw wide assorment of uniformed and armed guys (local police, airport security, gendarmes, army, CRS (but not funny-looking ones like Asterix and Obelix here) clearing the segment of sidewalk and directing buses and taxis to stop a bit further down the access road. All this was done firmly, but at leisurely pace and without a bit of nervousness.

We thought at first they were preparing for arrival of some dignitary or celebrity whose VIP status would warrant keeping public at bay, but after a while a guy with 'Civil Security - Bomb Squad' (actually, 'Deminage' or something like that) on his jacket walked in. After nothing further happened for twenty minutes or so, we went in search of other passport checking booth, located it, verified that Croatian's check-in can be reached from there, and I waved Zvonči good-by. When I exited, the length of blocked sidewalk still stood between me and RER station. Instead of taking a local shuttle bus, I decided to wait. After a minute of so a muted 'bang' was heard from the building. Another minute later the blocade of the area was lifted.

The cause of this was probably an abandoned piece of luggage, which French police handles (I learned later) by covering it with something like huge armored garbage bin and detonating a small explosive charge inside. The point is, no terminal evacuation, no dramatic PA announcements, no three-hour delay, no 8 o'clock news. Routine reaction to routine potential threat, exactly as drastic aa necessary, no less, no more. Those black-clad CRS guys and their brethern seen to know their job, and nobody is trying to collect political or professional bownie points by overreacting.

Friday, October 08, 2004

[E][P] Who Gets Hit on the Head

'Forbes' has an article on steroids being more harmful than useful in treating head injuries. While mildly interesting as kind of medical trivia I like to read about, what makes the article appearing in the blog is this:
In general, Roberts said, "there is little clinical research in brain injuries. Most treatments for brain injuries are unproven. They may be useless or harmful as well."
Roberts contended there is a lack of interest in head injury research because "the people who suffer these injuries tend to be poor." Many of the injuries are caused by person-to-person violence, he said, and "there is a strong relationship between pedestrian injuries and poverty. Poor people are the ones who walk around, and they are the ones most likely to by hit by an automobile."
In other words, better to spend research money on something important, like liposuction.

[E] Boom!

Apparently, a medium-sized bomb detonated this morning in front of the Indonesian embassy in Paris, barely three blocks from the appartment where I stay (no serious injuries reported, luckily; only some flying glass cuts). I did not hear a thing, despite one of my bedroom windows facing in the direction of the embassy. I must be working too hard...

Saturday, October 02, 2004

[H] Stigla je Zvonči

Danas je stigla Zvonči, i ostaje oko tjedan dana. Nisam je dočekao na aerodromu, nego na aerodromskom autobusu, što mi Jaca ne kani zaboraviti. Odmah smo se dali u veliko šetanje, od kojeg se još oporavljam. Slike po svoj prilici tek po povratku u Zagreb.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

[E][A] Da Vinci without a Codebook

I saw yesterday on CNN's pretentiously called "Insight" program a segment on Dan Brown's incredibly well selling novel "Da Vinci Code", "controversy" surrounding it and what the Church has to say. Hordes of "codehunters" visiting the book's locales were also covered. Here is an article that contains perhaps half of the program (that is, almost everything except the most interesting parts where actual specialists talk about early history of Christianity). BTW, to see what kind of industry has sprung around the novel, just search for it on Amazon.

(Warning: mild spoilers ahead) Now, I don't think too high of the novel: research is sloppy, style so-so, the "code-breaking" part almost childish. As for research, if the author is too lazy to learn how GPS locators work, describe Louvre's Great Galery accurately or invest more that one sentence in claim that Dead Sea Scrolls contain New Testament texts, it will somehow make suspension of disbelief harder. OTOH, it in not necessary to repeat twenty times that the Church changed quite radically in its early centuries, that authentic apocryphal (so to say) gospels exist or that religion is not "naturaly male-dominated" (though, judging by the novel's success, it seems to actually be news to many).

Anyway, what I wanted to harp about is this CNN's sentence: "The book supposes that [...] one of the fastest growing movements in the church, Opus Dei, is populated with plotters and assassins." Well, it does not. Actually, one of my main complaints to the novel is that it depicts the Church in general and Opus Dei in particular as angels at best and well-meaning but missguided sincere believers and victims of knowledge-seeking vilains at worst. Give me a break! (BTW, the elided part of the sentence is about quite popular theory of Mary Magdalene being Jesus wife - nothing new here, either.)

Update: I just saw Da Vinci's "Madonna of the Rocks", the Louvre version (in the Grand Galery packed like a metro car - it was the first Sunday of the month, meaning free admission). Well, Brown's interpretation might have something to it...

Sunday, September 26, 2004

[E] Good Samaritan

I went today to Paris Autoshow. Entering metro, I saw a tall young black guy sprawled on the floor. He looked asleep. He probably was asleep, as Paris homeless people sometimes are on metro benches. Perhaps he was dead, in which case there was nothing to be done. But he might, just might, had been in some kind of trouble (drunkenness, overdose, stroke...), and not beyond help.

Nobody paid any attention; actually, everybody pretended not to notice him; myself included. On next station I saw several RATP emploees chatting; I did not exit and alert them, although half a minute before I thought "If I see someone...". On my destination there were people from RATP security and police; I did not alert them, either. I can't say why.

The young guy is probably OK, if a bit hung over. But I, instead of feeling like a good Samaritan for a trivial act of tugging some guard's sleeve and pointing to the lying figure, I feel ashamed.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

[E][P] Sic transit gloria mundi (or something like that)

CNN has an article about a judge questioning former Chilean dictator Pinochet. Too little, too late, of course, but there is an encouraging element in the article: Pinochet's supporters staged a demonstration; all four of them.

[E] Living in Harmony with Nature

Can somebody please explain to me why don't Americans build proper houses, at least in hurricane-prone areas? I mean, I understand Japanese houses made of bamboo sticks and paper: nothing heavy to fall on one's head when the next earthquake decides to make face of the earth wart-free. But that is appropriate. This Florida stuff is anything but.

I am watching on CNN some poor soul boarding up his windows for the fourth time in six weeks. Hasn't it occured to him to install solid hinged blinds like those used in the Mediterranean? Does his roof have to be made of light shingle or sheet aluminum? How about flat concrete, or (again Mediterranean-style) ceramic tiles or slate embedded in hard mortar?

People hit by a hurricane (or snowstorm or freezing rain, for that matter) are likely to be without power and telephone for days, sometimes weeks. Is puting power and telecom cables underground (as is done everywhere in Europe, for example, except sometimes for 110kV+ transmission lines) so far from reason (and so expensive, compared to recurrent repairs and cost to consumers)? Perhaps consumers should start requiring service level agreements from their utilities (without 'act of God' clauses)...

[E][P] Breaking news

I read on CNN teletext, as one of about ten top news from the world, about several American students punished for installing in their on-campus apartment a 'stripper-pole' and holding a dance competition among their (clothed) female colleagues. Somehow, I dont think there were only nine more important things happening in the world at the moment. Or did CNN publish this as an illustration of the state of citizen rights in the USA (in which case it would be important, but very old news)?

Friday, September 24, 2004

[E][P] Inervention

Sickening images of hurricane survivors in Haiti fighting for food and water reminded me that USA does not tend to intervene in situations like this quite as easily as when a little regime change is called for. Then again, considering the track record (say, in Somalia), this is perhaps as well....

Thursday, September 23, 2004

[E] Real Stuff

I saw another day on one satelite Travel channel or another an ad for something called "RealTV". It goes like this:
In a dirty alley two policamen, hunkered behind a squad car, are exchanging fire with a young 'bag guy'. The guy runs out of ammunition, reloads, wounds one of cops, and then the third policeman appears with a machine gun and cuts the 'bad guy' down. The twist is that the machine gun is a broom or something, sidearms are fingers, and people go "pow, pow, ratatata, ka-pow" at each other. After the "battle" is finished, a voice-over says: "It is better when it's real, isn't it?" over the cut to quick succession of scenes of cars crashing, shootouts filmed from a chopper, bungee jumps with the cord too long... You get the idea.

My late friend Darko used to call this kind of programs the most morbid pornography. Sickening.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

[H][P] Nagibanje

Jučer je "Vjesnik" donio člančić o jugomasonskoj judeokomunističkoj zavjeri da se svo hrvatstvo istrijebi nagibnim vlakovima. Te mišljeni su za kraće pruge (da, kraće od transsibirske), te svima je u njima muka (vidi dolje), te putnici više vole odjeljke (oni s demižonima i pečenim picekima koji odmah stave noge na vaše sjedalo, možda; ja ne).

Danas se mogla pročitati i vidjeti vijest o tome kako Bransonov 'Virgin Trains' ponosno uvodi nagibne vlakove (i obara rekorde) na mnogim prugama, između ostalog u brdovitu Škotsku (gdje pruge još nisu popravljene, nakon desetljeća zapuštenosti poslije privatizacije). Tony Blair je uvođenje nagibnih vlakova nazvao "velikim danom za britanske željeznice". CNN je imao prilog o istome; novinar se čudio kako mu je vino mirno u čaši, i jedva da osjeća ikakvo kretanje. (Cijela ideja nagibnih vlakova je da se u zavojima naginju tako da je rezultanta gravitacije i centrifugalne sile uvijek okomita na pod - tako čine i avioni. Rezultat je da vas ništa ne bacaka uokolo. To ih čini naročito pogodnim za zavojite, brdske pruge, kao u Italiji i Španjolskoj, i kod nas na prugama za more.)

Sunday, September 19, 2004

[E] In Paris again

Have I told you yet that I arrived in Paris, for the second part for consulting stint at SNCF? Well, here I am! No much time for sightseeing, but I will do my best! Semiorganised photos (mostly from the first tour) here.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

[H] Bonzi u Parizu, 2. dio - update

Sutra doista idem u Pariz. Nije to tako jednostavno - prekjučer sam nazvao ljude od kojih Prolifics unajmljuje stanove, tek da čujem gdje će mi ostaviti ključeve, jer nedjeljom ne rade. Umjesto toga sam saznao kako s Prolificsom nisu imali kontakt od preliminarne rezervacije prije mjesec dana. Nako mnogo emailanja, IM-anja i telefoniranja uspjelo je sve skrpiti (ali nisam u stanu koji je izvorno bio rezerviran). Oh, well...

Monday, September 13, 2004

[H] Bonzi u Parizu, 2. dio

Izgleda da za tjedan dana opet idem u Pariz. Pokušat ću se javljati redovnije...

Thursday, August 05, 2004

[H] Eto me natrag

Vratio sam se (privremeno) iz Pariza. Dočekali su me (kao obično) Vesna i Grunf (i Andrija). Lijepo je biti doma, ali teško se navići na ideju da me Darko više neće dočekivati.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

[H] Gdje ste dosad gledali?

Krešimir Fijačko, Darkov urednik i nekad dobar novinar, iskoristio je priliku Darkovog ispraćaja da primijeti što je imao u "kući" (izvor) :

Dobri duh Vjesnika

Novinari odlaze uz čuđenje svijeta: gotovo uvijek je to »već«, uvijek neočekivano, prečesto - prerano, i tek iznimno u krevetu. U ovoj se profesiji umire prije roka i s nogu, kao što se i živi na nogama, u vječitoj jurnjavi za rokovima. Odlaze tako i oni koji su s novinama i za novine živjeli naizgled mirno, smireno i staloženo. Poput Darka Brdarića, čiji nas odlazak tako bolno podsjeća da sve više ljudi koje smo voljeli, nisu više s nama, ovdje gdje ih trebamo, nego tamo negdje gore, recimo. Ako »tamo gore« ima interneta, onda možemo misliti što Brdarić sada radi. Novina, vjerujemo, tamo gore nema, jer, kakav bi to inače bio raj. Ali onda opet, malo pakla neće škoditi ni u raju, rekao bi Darko. Zvali smo ga »hodajuća enciklopedija«, premda bi možda prikladnije bilo reći: »Enciklopedija na biciklu«. Ali, njegova silna erudicija bila je tek jedna od stvari koje su ga činile drukčijim, zapravo iznimnim. U ovom novinarskom poslu koji melje, toliko je toga teško sačuvati. Čast i dostojanstvo, primjerice, ali i duh i dušu. Zadržati humor - nešto je lakše, a Brdarić je sve to skupio pod jednom kapom. Bio je toliko drukčiji od onih općih mjesta koja tako površno opisuju novinarstvo, novine i novinare. U poslu u kojem se žurba i utrka s vremenom često doimaju poput grubosti, prijatelji i kolege pamtit će Brdarića kao profinjenog profesionalca, šarmantnog i duhovitog erudita: dobri duh Vjesnika!

U profesiji u kojoj su riječi - alat, Brdarić je bio sjajan majstor u disciplini »igre riječima«, ne bježeći ni od sarkazma i ponekad grubih šala, dakako, najradije na svoj račun.

Zašto nije češće pisao svoje »Žalce«? Vjerojatno zato što ga je previše toga zanimalo i okupiralo. A one koje je napisao, u pravilu je pisao u zadnji čas, u »cajtnotu«, mora da je, vrag jedan, znao da tako ispadnu najbolje stvari i najbolji tekstovi. Nekoliko njegovih »Žalaca« ponovo objavljujemo kao dokaz i podsjetnik na jedan »otkvačeni« duh, koji je, znajući toliko toga, morao ponekad potražiti utočište u smiješnomu, u (auto)ironiji, sarkazmu.

Evo što je rekao izdavač Damir Mikuličić, za koga je Darko često prevodio "u fušu" (njemu nikako ne mogu prigovoriti da je tek sada primijetio Darkove kvalitete):
Dragi Darko,

Često smo naše razgovore začinjali s nama dragim satiričnim Murphyjevim zakonima života, a među kojima je i onaj: „što vrijeme više prolazi, prijatelja je sve manje, a neprijatelji se gomilaju“.

Zašto je tome tako, pitame se. Kakvi su to zlodusi, križanci kaosa i biologije, koji nam napakoste kada to oni požele, pa ispada onako kako nije po želji čovjeka. Zašto su napakostili tebi, a time i svima nama, tvojoj obitelji, tvojim prijateljima. A samo si živio i radio, i nikada se od toga dvoga ne bi umorio. No oni su umorili tebe, nakon što su te mjesecima umarali po bolničkim posteljama.

Kada sam saznao za vijest o tvome odlasku bio sam prvo bijesan, pa tek onda tužan. Bijesan na njih, na one kaotične elemente u tkivima tvoga tijela, koji su svojim slijepim divljanjem razorili nježnu i bogatu građu tvojih osjećaja i uma.

Dugo sam se družio s tobom, dugo smo radili zajedno mnogo toga, do gotovo posljednjeg tvog radnog atoma surađivali na knjigama koje ćeš, rekli smo, dovršiti čim ozdraviš. Zato znam. Da se nekim čudom probudiš, možda bi dodao: Da, tako ti je to. Netko na ruletu život prođe bolje, netko lošije. Slučajnost. Statistika boleština. Tako bi možda nekako rekao.

Da, i zato sam bio bjesotužan. Po čemu si baš TI zaslužio takvo ponašanje bezumnog, bezdušnog biokemizma koji je rastočio sklad tvog duha? Zato da bude zadovoljen Moloh slučajnosti? Ali zašto onda ti, Molohu slučaja, ipak najslađe i najbrže gutaš one najbolje među nama? To ne može biti slučajno! Baš zato, baš zato što su najbolji, podsmjehuješ mi se! Eto, zašto sam bio bjesotužan na to ruganje sila usuda.

Pa ipak, život uvijek iznova pobjeđuje, ne predajući se. Ostaju mladice tvoje obitelji, tvoji dragi, tvoji prijatelji, ostaju tvoje riječi. Ostaje naše sječanje na tebe kao naš nemoćan, ali ponositi odgovor na nepravdu koja te je odnijela od nas, ni krivog ni dužnog. Samo dobrog i umnog. Kakav si bio, i kakv ćeš ostati u uspomeni svima koji su dijelili vrijeme i zrak s tobom. Spavaj stoga spokojno u svom novom bezvremerju. U mislima smo s tobom.

A ja i dalje nemam riječi. Zapravo, ne vjerujem baš "zapravo" u sve ovo s Darkom, i dalje s iščekivanjem klikam na "send/receive mail"....

Monday, July 12, 2004

[H] Darko

Danas je umro Darko. Ne znam što bih rekao - sve zvuči šuplje i otrcano. On bi znao.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

[H] Postao sam domaći

Mislio sam da ću stići često postnuti neku cvebicu narodu za uveseljavanje, ali nekako ne stignem. Na poslu doista ne stignem, laptop mi često tamo i ostane preko tjedna, doma sam malo, a i tada me živcira spora (i skupa) analogna veza. Slikam dosta, ali ne stignem sve odmah staviti na web.

Ipak jedan detaljčić: postao sam toliko domaći da su mi lokani sindikalci počeli uvaljivati svoje biltene (počeli su CGT-ovci; ti su komunistički); mahanje rukama i uvjeravanje na engleskom da nisam odavde ne pomaže.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

[H] Propao sam!

Propao sam! Nakon dva tjedna ću morati živjeti na kruhu i vodi, ili fušariti kod onih što sviraju harmoniku u metrou na radnom mjestu medvjeda koji pleše.

Naimakaje: odmah iza drugog ugla su, osim običnog špeceraja (koji je iza prvog ugla), mesnica s raznim paštetama i 'terinama', trgovina sirevima i pekara s uvijek vrućim bagetima. Rade i nedjeljom. Našao sam ih slijedeći trag ljudi s nagriženim mirišljavim pola metra dugačkim kruhekima. Dosad probane đakonije uključuju: meko kuhano jaje u hladetini, s nogu obarajuća guščja pašteta, terina od šunke u hladetini, nešto kao vrlo smrdljivi kozji kajmak, nešto slično mozzareli u finom maslinovom ulju s bosiljkom kojeg ti obilato nagrabe u posudicu da se nađe za tunjkanje... Što god probaš je od finog do nevjerovatnog. Ali jeftino nije.

[E] I am ruined!

There is conspiracy against me running here in 16th Parisien district. They have installed shops selling all kinds of pates, mind boggling choice of cheeses and warm, crispy baguettes right around the corner, and they are open even on Sundays. I will soon be ruined both financially and calorie intake-wise.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

[H] Bonzi u Parizu

U četvrtak sam stigao u Pariz, na dvomjesečni 'gastarbeit' u SNCF-u, francuskim državnim željeznicama. O poslu, na žalost, ne smijem pričati (NDA i to), premda bi bilo vrlo zanimljivo :-)

Smješten sam u stančiću kod Trocadera. Par slika i prvi dojmovi ovdje.

[E] Bonzi in Paris

I am in Paris for a two-month consulting assignment with SNCF. A beginnings of a photo album (comments in Croatian) here.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

[E][P] Happy Europe Day!

Today is 59th anniversary of capitulation of Nazi Germany, the day fittingly chosen as Europe Day. The day before was the anniversary of liberation of my city, Zagreb, by Partisans of 10th Zagreb corps. Congratulations, my fellow continent dwellers!

Yesterday was also 20th birthday of Radio 101, a station that continue bringing urban spirit and liberal thought into local ether.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

[E][P] Eu25

Viennese daily Kurier tries to acquaint their readers with new members of the Union. Part of the effort is a series of slightly naughty tongue-in-cheek cartoons. Here is how they see Slovenia.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

[E] I am baaack!

I somehow never got around to take some time and transcribe numerous thoughts from the loo from scraps of paper, several 'to do' files, notes in the phone or my unreliable memory to blog entries in the last several months. Well, perhaps this time I will preserve...

Monday, September 15, 2003

[H][C/P] I ja sam bez teksta
Predstojnik Vladinog ureda za internetizaciju misli kako je Web zastarjela tehnologija kojom se njegov ured ne treba baviti, a glasnogovornica dodaje da to graane ionako ne zanima: Bug On Line - Vijesti!

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

[E][P] Imagine this insider trading

From Slate:

"Just a day after two Democratic senators reported the existence of the Policy Analysis Market, the Pentagon pulled the plug on it. The PAM was intended to be a kind of turmoil exchange. Investors would place bets on events in the Middle East occurring by a certain time—say, a biochemical attack on Israel before June 2004—and collect real money if they happened."

The only predictive power markets have by themselves (if any at all) is that of self fulfilling prophecy. Imagine "investors" on PAM trying to "influence" events they have bet on by subtle persuasion of campaign cotributions and old boys networks (a'la "reconstruction" of Iraq). Absolutely scary!

Thursday, July 17, 2003

[H][C/P] San

Prije par dana sam bio na skupu korisnika jednog velikog, skupog, po svijetu i kod nas raširenog "standardnog" ERP paketa. Tamo nam je čovjek zadužen za hrvatsku inačicu tog paketa rekao kako je san svakog knjigovođe automatsko učitavanje izvoda (sada iz banaka, nekada iz ZAP-a u nekoj od njegovih inkarnacija) i isto tako automatsko "zatvaranje stavaka", te zašto je taj san neostvariv, ili bar neostvaren za korisnike dotičnog paketa. (Pojednostavljeno, za neupućene: platite nešto, banka vam za dan-dva javi da je plaćanje doista obavljeno, vi odgovarajuću stavku 'zacajhate' u svojoj evidenciji.)

Moj je neostvareni i posve neostvariv san da mogu prodavati programske pakete kojima na sličan način nedostaje posve elementarna fukcionalnost po cijenama sličnim onim spomenutog ERP paketa, i da mi korisnici samo mudro kimaju glavom kad im objasnim da tu nužnu i jednostavnu funkcionalnost neće imati, jer, eto, moj je proizvod standard, a ne tamo neki zakoni tamo neke državice u kojoj oni slučajno žive.

[H][P] eVlada

Nekidan je Vlada izvela PR cirkus s prijenosom sjednice preko weba (usput, stream je bio neupotrebljivo spor ili uopće nije radio). Gledanje snimke zahtijeva punih 128 kb/s što, valjda, svako kućanstvo ima, zar ne?

Da ne bih ovdje dalje brabonjao, evo člančića što ga je jedan moj prijatelj napisao kad mu je urednik naručio panegirik na ovu temu (članak, dakako, nije objavljen):

Što je povijesno u prvoj virtualnoj sjednici Vlade

Nije to »događaj za povijest«

Ničega nema »povijesnog« u »prvoj virtualnoj sjednici Vlade« u kojoj je hrvatski premijer sudjelovao s dodjele nagrada za web stranice u jednom zagrebačkom hotelu. Tehnološki gledano, njegovo »virtualno« vođenje sjednice nije nikakvo veliko čudo i moguće je svakom poduzetniku koji za održavanje takvih sjednica ima kakav interes i dovoljno novca. Od tehnoloških izazova tu je samo zaštita od vanjskih upada - a ona bi ionako trebala biti riješena za bilo što što se događa u računalnim mrežama.

Ničega povijesnog nema ni u tome što je ta sjednica navodno prva sjednica neke vlade koja se izravno prenosila na Internetu. Ako je premijer time htio pokazati predanost svoje Vlade načelu »otvorene vlade«, promašio je. Streaming prijenos sjednice vlade može u najboljem slučaju biti samo kuriozitet; zapravo je samo nepotrebno opterećenje mreže zbog kojega je i satima poslije sjednice pristup Vladinim web stranicama bio otežan. Da od takvih prijenosa ima ikakve koristi, ne bi se na to čekalo do današnjeg dana; streaming prijenosi događaja postoje već godinama.

»Otvorena vlada« nisu izravni streaming prijenosi niti premijerovi nastupi u ulozi manekena jednoga (ne najuglednijega) izbora web stranica, jednoga zagrebačkog hotela i nekoliko informatičkih tvrtki. Otvorena vlada bila bi kad bi državni organi sve svoje dokumente objavljivali i izdavali na Internetu u oblicima i na način koji je običnom građaninu najjednostavniji; otvorena bi bila vlada kad bi građanin mogao s državom komunicirati na jednostavan brz i što izravniji način i kad bi što više svojih poslova s državom mogao obaviti »online«.

Veći bi korak prema otvorenoj vladi bio kad bi natječaji za informatizaciju državnih organa bili transparentni i s jasnim kriterijima; bliže bismo došli da ova država nije platila svoj ulazak u podređeni odnos s monopolistima iz Redmonda (Indija, Peru, Austrija i neke druge zemlje bar su nešto dobile za pristanak na takav odnos); veći bi korak u XXI. stoljeće vlada učinila kad bi financirala objavljivanje nekih temeljnih stvari na Internetu i prenosivim medijima, recimo najvažnijih rječnika, pravopisa, nekih priručnika, materijala za školske programe.

A ovaj je »povijesni događaj« bio samo još jedna u nizu malih informatičkih blamaža ove vlade, koja ne zna oglasiti ono u čemu je doista uspješna, ali na sva zvona daje ono u čemu redovito ispada smiješna ili rastrošna.

Svog prijatelja nisam ovdje potpisao, ni naveo novine o kojima se radi, za svaki slučaj. Molim, dakle, autora da se, ako želi, potpiše u komentaru.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

[E] I am still alive, don't worry...

...and I am not out of things that drive me mad. It's just that, shall we say, my focus was elsewhere for a while. I will resume my irrelevant comments of this maddening world soon, honest!

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

[H][P] Sve za ostanak na vlasti

Keine Zeitung piše o planovima za produljenje Jadranske autoceste do Dubrovnika, i kako su Dubrovčani protiv toga (oni bi da im gosti dolaze čarterima ako već ne vlastitim avionima, a još bolje da pošalju novce iz Zagreba ili veće daljine; most preko Rijeke Dubrovačke im ipak dobro dođe za šoping u Neumu - neće valjda plaćati PDV!). KZ dalje nastavlje da vladajuća garnitura gradi ceste iz političkih razloga. Pretpostavljam da je tako i sa smanjenjem nezaposlenosti, povećanjem industrijske proizvodnje, poboljšanjem kupovne moći.... Prokleti političari, sve će učiniti da ostanu na vlasti!

[H][P] Mafiozi svih zemalja

Nedavno smo čuli da je jedan od sudionika u atentatu na premijera Srbije i Crne Gore (ili kako se to već sad zove) Đinđića imao hrvatsku putovnicu, jednu od oko 930 "nestalih" iz našeg konzulata u Mostaru. Zašto me to ne čudi?

[H][P] Rad!?

Čini se da je nadbiskupu Bozaniću, nekim sindikalnim "čelnicima" i drugim ovisnicima o tuđem radu nesvatljivo da ima ljudi koji doista rade tokom tjedna (g. Bozaniću je također, čini se, strana ideja da je Hrvatska sekularna demokracija kojoj se trenutni poglavar zove Mesić, a ne Wojtyla). Keine Zeitung je nedavno posvetio gotovo cijelu treću stranicu peticiji koju su pokrenuli spomenuti, a kojom se od vlade traži zabranu rada nedjeljom (na svoj uobičajeno nesuvisli način KZ donosi "anketu" iz koje se ne vidi ništa, osim da građani kupuju nedjeljom i da su glavna meta akcije veliki maloprodajni lanci, tj. oni s najbolje uređenim radnim odnosima, najnižim cijenama i najboljom ponudom).

Ja kupujem gotovo svake nedjelje, najčešće u dva velika supermarketa i nekoliko malih "dućana na ćošku", uglavnom zato što preko tjedna ne stignem. Ne znam (a čini se, ne znaju ni organizatori peticije) provjera li dovoljno nadležna inspekcija jesu li radnici za svoj rad plaćeni prema zakonu i kolektivnom ugovoru, imaju li odgovarajuće slobodne dane i sl, ali to ne znam ni za rad, recimo, četvrtkom u podne. Meni su mali dućani dragi i često odem u nekog od njih i kad je u susjednom supermarketu roba nešto jeftinija, ali, shvatit ćete, od interesa trgovaca, velikih i malih, važniji mi je interes potrošača, tj. mene.

Ako predlagačima glavni motiv nije briga za korektno plaćanje radnika, nego za pridržavanje kršćanskih običaja, što ćemo sa židovskom subotom i muslimanskim petkom? Ponavljam, u Hrvatskoj je vjera odvojena od države i, bar prema Ustavu, nijedna nema privilegirani položaj (premda rimska Katolička crkva (Darko, kako tu idu velika slova?) stvarno jest privilegirana, protiv moje volje). Nemam, dakako, ništa protiv da nadbiskup Bozanić apelira ili čak traži od svoga stada da nedjeljom ide samo u crkvu, ali neka, molim lijepo, u to ne petlja moju državu.

[E][P] Family Values

I recently found this article on Bush administration health information policy that is (policy, not article) either formulated by utter morons or intended to facilitate spread of AIDS and other STDs, teenage pregnancies and abortions. While this is something to be expected by Dubya and his handlers, the source of the article is surprising: CONSCIENCE, A Newsjournal of Catholic Opinion. I would certainly be glad to find similar open-minded publication by Croatian Catholics, but I am not holding my breath....

Sunday, April 13, 2003

[E] CRM SW Makes Great Strides

It was my bithday a few days ago. More then half of cards in my mailbox and SMS messages waking me up in the middle of the night with congratulations are from my cell phone operator, bank, insurer, the guys from whom I bought my car....
(Note to myself: I must stop using my GSM phone as alarm clock, so that I can switch it off at night.)

[E][P] Bad News All Over (but we expected them, didn't we?)

In Israel/Palestine fanatical Moslem suicide bombers (whose victims are mostly those who have nothing to do with Israeli occupation forces except perhaps by voting for Mr. Sharon) and IDF 'surgical strike' helicopters, bulldozers and demolition squads (who also mostly target civilians and an occasional Western peace activist) are joined by an oldfashioned Jewish terrorist group.

India borrows from US book: Defence Minister George Fernandes said he endorsed Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha's recent comments that India had "a much better case to go for pre-emptive action against Pakistan than the United States has in Iraq."

US occupation troops in Iraq seem to guard only weapons caches and oil production facilities and infrastructure need to operate them (like power plants). Meanwhile, looters have moved from palaces and villas to government offices, shops, museums, schools and hospitals. The Fourth Geneva Convention makes it responsibility of occupying power to ensure some resemblance of normal life to civilian population under its control. See here for a partucularly vitriolic view on how 'The Coalition of Willing' is faring in sticking to the Convention.
In the meantime, Secretary Powell repeats 'warnings' to Syria (and handwaving about missing WMD), while infighting within southern Iraqi Shiite community continues.

US administration keeps busy trying to strip Americans of as much of their civil liberties as they can get away with (see here, here, here....).

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

[E][P] Is It Vietnam Yet?

Although I stole this title from a cartoon by Slate's political cartoonist Daryl Cagle, there is nothing to laugh about. GWII is transforming from a three-day cakewalk to another Vietnam, one bridge at a time (an article by Mark Franchetti of The Times; not for faint of heart or stomach). Everybody except Cheney/Wolfowitz/Perle cabal and their imbecile puppet expected (or at least feared) that, of course, but there is little satisfaction in 'I told you so' at the price like this.

If I happened to be religious, I would say 'God help us all!'.

Monday, March 31, 2003

[E][P] Iraq

I am speechless, more or less. I did manage to post few times here, on BBS for owners of an exotic audio device. Their Off Topic forum, however, is an excellent place for good discussion.
I guess I will soon be able to tear myself from both work and alternative news sites long enough to post something half coherent here.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

[E][P] A Presidential Candidate I Could Vote For

I have often read posts by Americans rejecting UN right to influence USA policy, since 'they did not elect them [UN]'. A friend of mine turned the argument upside down: if a country pretends to be a global power or 'influence', the whole world should have a say in choosing its leadership.

Well, should I be given such a right to vote for American president, Dennis Kucinich, Democratic member of Congress from Ohio, is a candidate I would vote for. His presidency would offer hope for internally strong and cohesive America, not the one stumbling from crisis to crisis and covering them up by bullying everybody else, America more respected and less resented, more cooperated with and less plotted against. There is much more to building a great nation than likes of Mr. Wolfowitz can imagine, and Rep. Kucinich looks as if he might have what it takes.

Since I don't have a say in it, I can only hope our American friends will see past hollow propaganda of best politicians money can buy and finally vote for a guy who seems to genuinly have their collective interest in mind. Besides, his last name sounds as if his familly might have roots on these shores :-)

I will not miss the opportunity to turn your attention to another fine publication, the one where I found the article on Mr. Kucinich.

[E][C] Enough Specs Already!

An Evil Empire (a.k.a. Microsoft) engeneer Don Box, one of the original authors of SOAP spcecification, said another day something I can certainly agree with:

"The software industry has become so fixated on new specifications [relating to SOAP et al] that it has lost sight of the fundamental goal: using XML to link software applications together. While some new specs that have been proposed are important and useful, others are too complex and still others will probably never be used, including some from Microsoft."

IDG article

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

[E][P] The Price of War

I finally saw an American cartoon whose author understands the real price of war.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

[E][P] Things are Rarely Simple...

I have discovered an interesting online magazine, AlterNet, with quite ambitious mission and certain to attract every Republican's favourite curseword liberal. Google news led me to an article there titled The Two Faces of France which reminds that things in politics, diplomacy and war are rarely clear-cut. The article is brief; read it, rather than relying on my summary in poor English :-)

Monday, February 24, 2003

[H] Financijski interesi

U današnjem izdanju "Keine Zeitung" donosi uobičajeno nepismen razgovor s glasnogovornikom HRT-a Krešimirom Macanom o "neopravdanim razlozima daljnjeg prikazivanja i snimanja 'Turbo limach showa'", kako se izrazila Iva Stilinović. Kako u našim "novinama" uglavnom nemaju ni najosnovnijeg pojma o novinarstvu, ne treba čuditi da se iz teksta ne da vidjeti kakvo je to skandalozno ponašanje Siniše Cmrka koje je zaslužilo da "razlozi daljnjeg prikazivanja" budu "neopravdani".

No, pažnju mi je privuklo nešto drugo: u istaknutom tekstu g. Macan tvrdi: "Apsolutno nije istina da HTV u ovom primjeru kroz Cmrka brani svoje financijske interese". Dakle, doista se nadam da HTV, kako u ovom, tako i ostalim "primjerima" brani svoje financijske interese, jer je financirana od poreza (pardon, pretplate) koju plaćam samo zato što imam televizor. Komercijalna televizije ima pravo ne braniti svoje financijske interese; ona koju ja financiram nema.

Saturday, February 22, 2003

[H][P] A da Sabor biramo kao porotu?

Oduvijek sam tvrdio da je problem s politikom i političarima negativna selekcija: u Saboru, vladi, pa i najmanjem mjesnom odboru često završavaju upravo ljudi čije bi ambicije i ljubav prema vlasti trebali biti diskvalicirajući. Ako znate engleski, pogledajte ovaj člančić Charlesa Strossa, škotskog pisca. Za ostale, ideja je da se Gornji dom britanskog Parlamenta (kojeg Blair pokušava reformirati, ali mu ne ide) niti imenuje niti bira, već da se, jednom godišnje, jedna petina sastava izabere nasumce, iz biračkih spiskova. Tako "izabrani" zastupnici bi dobili godinu dana školovanja o osnovama prava, zakonodavstva, uprave i sl, kao i tehničku podršku "stručnih službi" (o čemu naši zastupnici mogu samo sanjati), nakon čega bi pet godina služili manje-više za obuzdavanje profesionalnih političara u Donjem domu. Plaća i pravo na mirovinu bi bili takvi da čovjek nije na šteti ako ga zapadne zastupnička dužnost.

Što mislite?

[E][P] Parliament as Jury

I have always maintained that the problem with politics is negative selection: we tend to be governed by exactly those people whose misguided amibition and love for power should be disqalifying. Charlie Stross explains his idea similar to one I had some time ago - select representatives randomly.

[E][C] Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

There has recently been a fair number of articles (e.g. this one) on problems besetting Agilent Technologies, not the smallest of which is one of visibility, or lack thereof. If you don't know who are they, I don't blame you. Agilent was born when Hewlett-Packard spun off its core business (whatever Carly Fiorina might think what their core business is supposed to be), that is that of measurement and instrumentation. During 70's and 80's (and earlier, but I don't remember that) HP was synonymous with top quality instruments from multimeters to digital oscilloscopes and logic analyzers, and later medical insrumentation and that for semiconductor and chemical industry. First digital electrocardiographs, ultrasound diagnostic equipment and such were born in HP Laboratories, a research establishment probably surpased only by those belonging to AT&T and IBM. About the time the revenue from computers (which began as mesurement automation tools) reached half the corporate total, the company decided to gamble and consolidate its many hardware and software lines on its own RISC architecture and UNIX, another industry first.

And now? HP is just HP, not Hewlett-Packard any more, lives on comodity items such as cheap printers, and talks about trying to start attracting not only home PC users, but corporate customers too. Bill and Dave must be spinning in their graves...*

*) Is that correct phrase in English, too?

[H][C] Spada li Konzum u tekstilnu industriju?

Prije tjedan-dva primili smo iz Hrvatske gospodarske komore poziv na "prvi poslovni susret gospodarstvenika IT sektora Hrvatske i Srbije i Crne Gore".* Osim što se, čini se, nije imalo što vidjeti, zanimljiva je tvrdnja u pozivu da u nas ima 1800 informatičkih tvrtki. Sad, ja sam u ovom poslu dvadesetak godina i znam mnogo kolega, ali imao bih problema nabrojiti ih 100. Bio sam malo zbunjen dok mi nije sinulo: komora svakog trgovca koji je ikad prodao rupčić za čišćenje monitora, i svako 'društvo za građevinarstvo, proizvodnju, trgovinu, usluge i informatički inžinjering' smatra informatičkom tvrtkom.

Ako je tako, onda je Konzum doista u tekstilnoj industriji. Znam to dobro, jer sam u nuždi kod njih nekidan kupio dva para čarapa.

Donekle na istu temu: u novinama koje su 'nove cijele i darove dijele', poznatima i kao 'Keine Zeitung', pisalo je nekidan kako se jedna takva 'vodeća informatička tvrtka' preselila u novu 'glamuroznu zgradu' (bez parkirališta, kaže mi njihov susjed), i da je 'domijenak' trebao uveličati predsjednik Mesić (ali se, na žalost, u zadnji čas ispričao zbog zauzetosti...) Ja sam pomalo zbunjen (ili novinskim izvještavanjem, ili predsjedničkim prioritetima).

*) Jeste li već vidjeki moj rant na temu 'privreda' vs. 'gospodarstvo'? Ne? Dakle, ukratko: vlastodršci od prije desetak godina su protjerali riječ 'privreda' jer im je neshvatljivo da novac treba privrijediti, a ne naprosto gospodariti tuđim...

[E][P] Some Thoughts on Prospect of Gulf War II (not mine)

One I did not quite expect:
John le Carré: The United States of America has gone mad

This one is a bit more expected.

[E][P] US Academia on Gulf War II

I recently got into posession of several interesting bits of correspodence on and around a mailing list for professional diplomats, run by a prestigious US university (I am not a member, and I am not sure what their, er, reposting policy is, so I will not tell you the source)*:


A 'moderated-out' post:

"It is no reflection on American universities that sometimes a person of minimal intelligence slips through a decent university and walks away with a sheepskin that is -well- somewhat inaccurate. It happens everywhere. But it surely is a reflection on the educational system, when the vast majority of American academics sit silently while a President, claiming to speak for the free world, speaks the way Mr. Bush does. With all dues respect this man's rhetoric - cant really - and hypocrisy or rank ignorance embarrasses and puzzles.
More particularly, is it unreasonable to ask a supposedly educated man who wishes to speak about evil that he at least be aware of the problematics of such language? Was it evil when the United States used a weapon of mass destruction to destroy two Japanese cities, when it was fully known that the government was seeking to end the war and after the United States told the Vatican to stay out ? Was it evil when the United States made widespread use of Napalm and fragmentation bombs against one side in a civil war? Is it evil when the United States helps arm Israel to the hilt and then turns its back on the way Israel uses those weapons and the purposes to which it applies them ? If it was evil for Hussein to attempt to seize Kuwait, was it evil when President Polk marched his armies into a sister republic and stripped away the most valuable half of its territory? I do not claim to have the answers, but if you do not have answers to such questions, then should you be using that language ? I can't imagine any university letting a student graduate without at least alerting him to these questions.
Then there is the problem of the President's consistency. If what goes on in Iraqi prisons is criminal why does he refuse to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to inspect the holding pens at Guantanamo ?
If Iraqi generals are to be tried as war criminals, why does this President oppose the establishment of an international war crimes court ? Then there is the question of this President's "love" of every people whose leader marches into the oval office for ceremonial obeisance to the President. The epistemology of his welcoming remarks puzzles me. To "love" has always implied some knowledge and understanding. How did he acquire this knowledge of so many people of so many different cultures, enough so that he is moved, in everything he does, by love of them ? It's not much better when one examines the President's use of the term "friend".
Then there is question of his peace rhetoric. Why does he always say war will keep the peace, and never once has said that diplomacy will keep the peace ?
If American intellectuals do not have the intestinal fortitude to speak up and ask that he clean up his rhetoric, fine, but should American intellectuals be surprised and hurt when the rest of the world respects American power and only American power ?
Or to put this matter more succinctly: Might as well have Archie Bunker as President. (This comment is meant to be a reflection not so much on the man but on the society and more particularly on that society's educators.)

Moderator's response:

"Dear B.- As you probbaly suspect, this message may cause a storm on the list, which is OK, but I have some reservations about large scale generalizations about national populations. [This list] has many critics of Bush-ite policies, so at least some academics and intellectuals are trying to stand up to Washington. Maybe it would be better to indict Yale rather than the entire US education system? Maybe too it would be better to give some examples of intellectuals as examples of those who have failed in their duty- who in your opinion are some of the worst talking heads from TV? (Note that David Frum is particularly shameless in his arguments, and he is a product of the UofT). It might also be good to pay heed to the anti-war movement in the states (which is trong on campuses). In short, some more details and qualifications to generalizations, and we have game."

To be fair, the moderator is right when he says that the list contains some decidedly 'non-gung-ho' views on prospect of war. For example, a post almost six months old:

"Colleagues: I have decided (not that any of you are interested in my inner turmoil, or should be) that the detachment I have tried to retain visavis [the list] debates in general is irresponsible in regard to the current one on Iraq. No discussion on [the list] will influence the course of American policy, yet anyone who feels as I do that this decision for war would represent a decisive turning point for our nation and the world has the responsibility to try to use every available means to influence it, even in a local and peripheral way.
That said, I felt David Silbey's most recent intervention as a current of fresh air. What his particular points do more broadly is suggest various points not being made in the current national debate (precisely what historians and other academic analysts are supposed to look for): (1) that Saddam Hussein is homicidal, not suicidal, which means that he is in principle deterrable; (2) that he has actually been deterred from aggressions he could conceivably have launched over the past decade, which means that the West's policies of deterrence and containment have essentially succeeded, not failed; (3) that Iraq, as everyone knows, has been drastically weakened by eleven years of drastic sanctions and Anglo-American attacks under UN sanction and that UN inspectors, as a Carnegie Endowment report of last March established,. did find and destroy far more of Iraq's weapons than the Gulf War did,. so that Iraq is simply not the menace it once was and the policy of sanctions,. though extremely brutal in its effects, has in power-political terms been working, not failing; (4) that even paranoid sociopaths, which Saddam Hussein is, may have real enemies and will naturally try to find ways to deter them--indeed Hussein would be crazy not to recognize that he is threatened--and that therefore everything they do must not automatically be interpreted as a preparation for aggression; and (5), that to deal with a problem politically, as opposed to using mere brute force, requires one to presume a minimum of purposive rationality on the part of one's opponents sufficient to enable one to use their own calculus of interests to convince them not to do the actions one wants to deter. Therefore to assert categorically as a first principle that this presumption of minimum purposive rationality cannot hold for one's opponent in this case is simply to rule out a negotiated settlement or management of a quarrel from the outset and to reduce the possible outcomes to either total surrender by one side or war--which of course is exactly what the Bush administration is doing.
I may have gone further in exegesis of Silbey's arguments than he would agree with. In any case, the list of important considerations that are not being talked about but treated like the crazy aunt in the attic can and should be extended. A constant theme of the administration case, its centerpiece before the UN and the world,. is that Iraq has for 11 years defied UN resolutions and got away with it, and that if the UN and the world community do not wish to be permanently discredited they must act now to bring Iraq into full compliance. No one mentions that there is another state in the Middle East that has defied UN resolutions for 35 years, that unlike Iraq it has never been punished at all for this, and that unlike Iraq it has grown considerably larger and stronger as a result of this successful defiance. The central argument for war on Iraq for domestic consumption is that it is necessary to prosecute the war on terrorism. Never mind the innumerable weaknesses and contradictions in that argument, which have been repeatedly pointed out without deterring the administration and its supporters from continuing to assert it. What is not being said is that there are currently two grave conflicts, in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza and in Kashmir, both of low intensity but huge potential danger, both involving terrorist activity, and that the administration is studiously avoiding both in order to push for war on Iraq. A key argument made by Colin Powell is that only regime change in Iraq can bring peace and stability to the region, and that every one of Iraq's neighbors would breathe easier if Hussein fell from power. No one mentions that there is another state in the region whose leader has a record even longer than Hussein's of reliance on force as a solution to problems, and that every one of that state's neighbors would be relieved if that leader fell, except for their justified apprehension that he would only be replaced by someone worse. Finally, the absolutely central, indispensable element of the administration's case is the contention that Iraq might be (according to some, certainly is) developing weapons of mass destruction and that Iraq might (certainly would, according to these same prophets) use them under certain circumstances. No one mentions that another state in the region certainly possesses nuclear weapons and both biological and chemical warfare programs, and that no one doubts that this state would under certain circumstances use them.
To mention these unmentionable facts is to invite the charge of being anti-Israeli and even anti-Semitic. Believe it if you like; I am confident that the latter is false. As for the former, since for years I have believed and said that the first thing the United States should do to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to negotiate a full, formal military security alliance with Israel, including a territorial guarantee of an extent to be negotiated, I rest easy on the former count as well. But both are irrelevant. This debate is not mainly about Israel or what its government and its hawkish American supporters are trying to do, though that factor cannot be ignored. It is about what the American government is really trying to achieve in its relentless drive for war on Iraq, and what can be inferred as to its real agenda both from the arguments it uses and the considerations and arguments it ignores or sweeps under the rug. Analyzing this is what historians and other scholars are supposed to do on the basis of their special knowledge, and this, I contend,. is what they have not by and large done in this debate, either generally or in [the list].
But actually we no longer need to in this case. The administration has spared us the trouble of inferring from various statements, actions, and other indicators what its real agenda is and laid it out openly in a 33-page report to Congress on the Bush administration's foreign policy strategy and goals. Read the story on it by Peter Sanger in today's NY Times [Friday]. I will not try to summarize it; that would only weaken its impact. I will say only that I have spent a long lifetime being frequently dismayed, worried, and even frightened by things our government has proposed--often, in retrospect, needlessly--but have never encountered anything quite so terrifying as this. This represents a frank, clear statement, rationale, and program for American world domination now and into the indefinite future, and for a system of international law and practices designed specifically to maintain and enforce that American empire.
This statement of goals and strategy must therefore become the focus of any discussion of the war on Iraq or any other administration foreign policy stance and action. In April 2001, well before 9/11, Lawrence Kaplan published a lead article in the New Republic, a liberal journal, entitled (approximately-[-I am giving this from memory), "The Missile Defense Initiative is not About Defense'; It is About American World Domination--and That is Why We Need It." He was simply being admirably frank about the obvious, and endorsing it. We need that same candor from everyone, especially from supporters of the war on Iraq, right now. This war is not about the defense of America and its allies. It is about American world domination - those who believe in the war must do so with the understanding that they are thereby endorsing that goal. The administration is being admirably frank in making clear that it seeks a new world order and system with drastically changed rules and practices, all designed to achieve that end--which of course it insists will bring benefits to everyone. Its rationale for this revolutionary agenda can be summarized in two words: terrorism and technology. These have so changed the world and made it so uniquely dangerous that the old rules and measures will no longer do. They form a sufficient ground for discarding five centuries of the evolution of the current international system, and ignoring millennia of experience on what bids for universal empire usually lead to. Debating this central point must be what historians and other scholars now concentrate on. We know that active politicians under the gun of electoral campaigns, polls, and constituent pressures will not do so (the pitiful failure of the Democratic party to do so in this case proves it); we know that the broad public, and even the educated lay public, simply are not equipped to do so.
I confess to feeling a certain passion on this subject (though I try to keep a sense of humor and proportion about it--a sister of mine reminds me that righteous indignation is the family curse). But historians have a long, abysmal record of failing even to try to curb national passions in times of crisis, even and especially in democracies; all too often they aid and abet them. I think we have a chance to do a little better this time. --
Paul W. Schroeder
Professor Emeritus of History and Political Science
University of Illinois (Urbana)"

*) I am not sure should I attribute those posts or not, given that I reporoduce them without permission. On balance, I probably should, so I do (except for the moderator).

Saturday, February 15, 2003

[E] On My Blogging

When my first company bought one of the first Sun Netra computers in order to establish 'web presence', facilitate communication with customers (mostly banks at the time) and, if possible, offer some kind of 'e-services' to local businesses, we had contract #7 with our friendly local monopoly backbone provider. So, you could safely call us early adopters. Part of our presence were to be employee's personal pages (everybody was expected to make one, if only 'Hi there, I am Joe' kind of page).
I clobbered together a few rudimentary pages (still over here, nothing much to be seen), with intention to eventually experiment with various presentation techniques. I was also to post (again, mostly as a technical experiment) random thoughts and proverbial rants and raves.
Some bad things happened, one of them being loss of our company through criminal extortion. I forgot about my personal home on the web, having more pressing worries.
Time passed, we built another company, but I did not revisit my home page. I occasionally took part in various newsgroups, but was disapointed by signal to noise ratio there. Then, an Italian lady I occasionally exchange e-mails with started her weblog, and I was reminded of my ancient 'rants and raves' idea. Add to that a frequent need to scream at incompetent or corrupt politicians, moronic jurnalists or thick clients, wish to share a word or two on a good book or movie, and availability of no-brainer blogging services that eliminate any excuse stemming from lazyness, and there you are....

I don't know whether this will be my permanent web log site. I would like to be able to separate posts by theme and language, and make possible for visitors (if any) to comment. In fullness of time I might even revisit idea of setting up something of my own :-). In the meantime, thanks for the visit!

Note to native (and other good) English speakers: I do appologize for any mistakes, and kindly ask you to point them out to me.

Friday, February 14, 2003

[H] Another Test

Da vidim kako se vide naša slovca:
Pa, vide se nekako.....

[E] Test

OK, this is the obligatory first test post. Let it be in English (I intend to post about things that only my compatriots could possibly find of any interest in Croatian, others in English; this is not to say that anything here is guaranteed to be of any interest to anybody whatsoever, of course).

Anyway, let's post!