Monday, May 11, 2009

Enemy Of All Mankind



Pirates  are a universally agreen upon evil; the harm they cause is obvious, the need to deter them is urgent. And yet they are not deterred by the "world community"; piracy is rising rapidly and is all the rage in Somalia nowadays.

Easy to understand, really. If you succeed you stand to become a millionaire; if you fail, well, a walk down Bakaara Market on a good day is much more hazardous. And yet when the esteemed magazine Economist raises the inefficiency of deterrence, no mention of the traditional cure for piracy is made.

Throwing easily replaceable guns overboard is a good start. Sending their owners down to Davy Jones and treating pirates as what they are - hostis humani generis - is the only reasonabe way to go about it.

How long before the first batch of 21 century pirates are publicly made to walk the plank by some Chinese or Russians?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Musings on Lebanon: Beavers VS Tsunamis

Part of my comment in Good Neighbors (a peaceblog) on a thread discussing Lebanon's "cold war", increasing tribalization, Hizballah encroachment and so on:

Lebanon is interesting in that it’s the “demo” battleground for various regional and occasionally global powers. By analyzing the endless multi-faction marionettes’ war in Lebanon one can infer the interests, desires, resources and a whole lot more about the puppeteers. On the results of my feeble understanding of the situation I can but quote the oft-used verse by Yeats:


Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

But no rough beast slouches towards Bethlehem; this turmoil is the natural and inevitable result of tremendous historical processes. The societies of the Missile East were, in brief 70 years, yanked from pre-industrial (and in some cases pre-Iron Age) tribal existence straight into post-industrial nationhood; most of the nation-states these nations inhabit were concocted by decomposing Colonial powers, with borders and national systems slapped carelessly on at the whim of drunk European nobles; the unrealistic but fundamental Arab world view was shattered repeatedly by reality (and hastily patched by idiocy) in the same period; the impact of Western ideas - nigh-impossible to understand without the cultural basis - on Missile East was akin to an autobahn car pile-up at 300kph.

The pressures created by all of the above, the poor pressure valves of Arab culture (being mostly violent since the clampdown on independent thought a few centuries ago) and the increasing pace of progress (exacerbating the cultural gaps and resultant problems) dictate that a massive change is inevitable. China and Japan went through similar processes for different reasons and with different manifestations in the past century. Some systems just no longer fit and are too rigid to be fixed. So they break and are eventually rebuilt as something more viable. I wonder what the collapse of the Arab world will look like. I wonder what the eventual new system to emerge from it will look like.


PS

Peaceblogs to peace are like beaver dams to tsunami.




Monday, May 4, 2009

Barcelona is Yaffo!

A coworker describing Barcelona after a work trip there:

"It's exactly like Israel, but without the atmosphere of war. Imagine Israel, but without the Arabs. Beautiful land, good food, interesting old architecture... Barcelona is like Yaffo without Arabs"


Monday, April 20, 2009

Warning: emotional post! The Swiss dog & pony show

Canada, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Germany, Israel, Poland and USA.

These are the countries not deserving to be run over by a barbarian horde and enslaved for twenty generations.

As for the rest of the world...




Participation in Durban II, the amazing Swiss dog & pony show with the bombastic name of "World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and
Related Intolerance", is tantamount to declaring yourself an enemy of humanism and human rights - and much more important, an enemy of me. What are they  going to talk about, the best way to re-implement the Final Solution?

A conference on racism and human rights led by Lybia, Iran and Cuba is like a conference on Jewish health led by Dr. Joseph Mengele.

To start an anti-semitic hate-fest led by a monkey who openly wants to genocide the Jews on the eve of Holocaust Memorial day... well, it's like a world-wide White Power meeting chaired by David Duke and titled "Victims of nigger racism" starting on Emancipation Day.

Walla, if Geneva got nuked right now I would perhaps be tempted to give out candy and fire live ammunition into the air from my AK-47.

PS

I am happy that the Kingdom of the Netherlands - much to my surprise - chose sanity this once. Would be a pity to see Amsterdam fall completely to barbarians.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

LTNS!

Walla, it has been a long and eventful couple of years. I bred, changed jobs and houses a few times, started a few businesses (none succeeded so far), got significantly wealthier, seen my predictions fail and succeed, started an affair with Classical music. Technology continued its rapid rise to transhumanism. (Foreign) Politics continued as usual, with Olmert faring significantly better than I expected. Here's a brief positive summary of his premiership:

Some of his failures were positive: he failed to throw away our security (Golan and suicidal overtures to Palestinians). He (almost) failed to prevent the military from winning in Cast Lead.

Some of the successes were positive, even: leaving the economy and privatization reforms alone. Giving the green light to a number of difficult and potentially risky military strikes abroad. The reforms in the judiciary system might be a good thing. And he managed to cling to power far longer than expected.

But frankly, I lost interest in short-term politics. I concluded that the Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular are a lost cause for a couple of generations at the very least. Cultural, demographic, ecological, economic and geopolitical trends all point in the same direction: the Arab world will become insignificant in the next 20 years tops. Pakistan, assorted Stans in Russia's imperial area of influence, Iran, Turkey... that's somewhat more interesting, but certainly not the most interesting issues at hand.

Long-term trends in culture and technology will be the determining factors of my and my children's lives. For all practical purposes (with the notable aside of nuclear/biological annihilation), Israel has attained security. We will continue to be attacked, but the damages from these attacks are insignificant when compared to, say, road accidents. Or cigarette smoke.

So, technology and culture. We are in the middle of a paradigm shift, a massive movement of human consciousness brought about by new ways of thinking (enabled, in turn, by technological advances). I am trying to guess where we'll be in 50 years from now culturally and technologically... and I can't. So many breakthroughs. So many exciting developments. So many promising advances, each of which can change the world by itself: genetic engineering. Bionics. Nanobots. Bizarre artificial materials - even new periodic tables. New energy sources. Space Elevator. Direct neural interface. AI. 20 years ago these seemed impossible. 50 years ago these things were hardly imaginable, if at all. And these are merely few manifestations, as well as causes (as is appropriate for Humans 2.0) of the paradigm shift.

Each of the above can alone create a revolution greater than the Industrial one. It's like the dawn of sentience all over again. The difference between a human and an immortal super-being genetically engineered from humans, enhanced with sentient nano-bots... reminds me of The Watchmen and Mr. Moore's fascinating discussion on transhumanist divinity.

But that's all decades away from fruition. For now, two things are on my mind: education and economics. I am learning about both, but not yet enough to provide proper analysis. Politics merely provides the background for these. And I think that figuring all three out to a reasonable degree is the right way to prepare for the future and present.

I will again use this forum to spew the effluvium of my cognitive process. Hey, it's got to go somewhere, right? :)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Shana Tova and Ramadan Kareem!

Happy New Year, people! May it be one of prosperity, peace, interesting things and lots of tasty food!

And in case you're Muslim - Ramadan Kareem!

This is shaping up to be yet another turbulent year. Could be the herald of disaster or the early breeze of good change; too early to know, but it's always good to ponder.

So, what presents did we get for the New Year/Ramadan?

The most relevant to your truly is the IAF bombing targets in Syria and all the brouhaha around it.

The bombed site was, apparently, a joint North Korean-Iranian installation. The Syrians had no idea what was going on there (the place was "leased" to Iran) and were extremely surprised both by the bombing and by the fact that the site was, apparently, some sort of a nuclear installation.

Another interesting bit about this incident is the Turkish reaction and involvement - apparently, Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) assisted IAF in this operation without the knowledge of the government. I'd say that this was a message more than anything - to Syria that Turkey is ever vigilant, to Israel and USA that Turkey is a staunch ally, to the Turkish government that they're at TAF's mercy. All in all, from TAF's and IAF's point of view, this was a huge success.

Combine this with the reports of USA preparing for a massive strike against Iran, various high-up members of the Knesset urging for such and the recent mewlings of ElBaradei... the picture becomes very interesting indeed.

On the other hand, we have Olmert (AKA The Chief Worm) apparently planning something even more horrible than the Oslo Disaster. According to the reports, he wants to give our dear Arab cousins everything; the only question remaining is whether we'll build concentration/extermination camps for ourselves or tie ourselves down so that our dear cousins can have some fun with us before we die.

Will this cretin be able to implement his mad plan before his Government of Worms is removed from power? Will something else happen before this mad capitulation can occur - such as our dear cousins jumping the gun again, a massive war in the Middle East, a nuclear/chemical/biological strike against Israel, the people of Israel waking up and hanging the worms?

No way of knowing. But it sure shapes up to be an interesting year :)

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Interesting times - in new and exciting edition!

Life often does the strangest flip-flops.

Let me tell you about the last few peculiar days...

It all started when I was sitting with a friend and discussing a game we think of making. Gameplay - graphics - time tables - levels - funding - publishers - target audiences - investors - coders - animators... In the middle of it all, I discovered that I was out of smokes and went down to the street to get some.

That was when my life became a Tarantino movie.

A really weird guy was with me at the convenience store, smiling like a baboon on acid and inquiring about weed smoking implements (Do you have any bongs? - no. How about glass tubes? -no. How about...). With every question the man glanced at me and grinned a deranged grin. I bought my smokes, got back home, finished discussing the potential game and went to sleep.

That is when the pains started, like someone lighting matches in my shoulder, growing stronger and stronger. I took two Advils. I tried every conceivable position to lessen the pain, but to no avail - it only got worse. Eventually I was in too much pain to think. I woke up my wife, asked for help and tried not to scream. The most beloved decided it's time to get me to the hospital when we could not think of anything better and I was crying like a baby - it was probably the worst pain I have ever felt with such a duration, and I have felt quite a lot of pain over the years. There was one problem with this plan, though... we didn't have any cash and a huge minus at the bank (a temporary cash flow problem with a very bad timing). We decided to convince a cabbie to accept a cheque and went down to the street again.

It was 4 in the morning, however, with no cabs in sight. A guy working late shift at a nearby cafe noticed me squirming and sweating - Gods bless him. He gave us enough cash to get to the hospital and back, helped us get a cab... and here were were at the emergency ward. I was too far gone to notice much by then. People in hospital coats running around. Me on a hospital bed. A nurse commenting on my muscular buttocks before injecting a horse-sized doze of painkillers into them. Getting X-rayed and biting hard as the doctor arranged my shoulder before the scanner. Another doctor, red-eyed and bleary, examining me and declaring that I have apparently had a partial tear between one of my shoulder tendons and a muscle, along with a nice inflammation in that area. Listening to a junkie gibber in the bed next to mine about the broken needle in her arm. Nurses quizzing a guy in another bed about how he managed to get deep cuts all over his body and apparently not buying his story of falling on a glass table. I had a glass of liquid painkiller, a proscription for the inflammation and the pain and we were on our way, with me too fucked up on agony and drugs to understand anything at all.

I woke up the next evening, confused. My shoulder hurt, but not horribly. I had some 20 unanswered calls on my phone. The cats were sleeping on my chest and head. A glass of water, a bite to eat, a pill (thank you, bleary-eyed doctor!) and I started calling people back. First of all I have discovered that me and the lead programmer were fired. Apparently the CTO was unofficially accusing us of sabotaging the project and selling company secrets. Arranging a meeting with the guys from work, listening to all the perplexing details, wondering what to do next. Since the company owes me a month's notice, I have a month's worth of paid vacation. Setting up a work interview for the next day, taking more painkillers, going to sleep.

The interview - for a position as QA manager in a company making an MMORPG - went swell. Right after it I got a call and an offer for a job as senior QA at Oberon (the company publishing my first game). In the evening, meeting up with two different people about the possibility of starting a new project with them. That was when I discovered that apparently a whole bunch of my friends I wanted to start these projects with were offered extremely well-paying jobs in yet another project someone else was starting. Half a year long... and they might be looking for a QA manager/level designer/content writer (a Raccoon, in other words). Wife, in the meanwhile, got absolutely fascinating and lucrative offers for freelance work in her area. And I have realized, while walking around a friend's wedding in the woods, that had I wanted I could start my own project. In the same wedding another friend reminded me to finish writing the script for a movie we're doing. And in a phone call with the owner of the company that fired me, it was agreed we'll meet and he'll get some explanations about the real reasons we were fired. The pain in my shoulder subsided to a mere throb, but the assorted options remained.

Life is weird. Two years ago, I was a penniless student getting by; four years ago, I was a backpacker working for the Yakuza; six years ago I was a soldier being shot at. I can't imagine where and what I'll be in two years more.