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28 November 2006

Phone Number

Three have stolen my dear phone number, that I've had since I was small. It stuck with me through many different companies and phones. Farewell 0402316116. You've been a good and loyal number.

Habyarimana’s Assassination

The papers are all talking about whether or not Paul Kagame assassinated the Rwandan president just before the genocide in 1994. It's generally believed that the assassination triggered the genocide, which strikes me as a little strange. The genocide literally started hours after the assassination. The president of Rwanda, who should have taken power after the prime minister was killed, was assassinated by government soldiers. The ten Belgian soldiers who were protecting the president were tortured and killed. The same UN Belgian peacekeeping force was the one attempting to protect Tutsis from Hutus during the first few weeks of the genocide (with only very limited success).

People have accepted that the genocide involved many months of preparation, and the UN saw evidence of these preparations three months in advance. In this context is it reasonable to say that the assassination "triggered" the genocide of 800,000 people? It seems to me that the genocide was going to happen regardless unless someone from outside had tried to stop it.

I don't know what Paul Kagame is like, although he has killed a lot of Hutus since he came to power. I'm not sure what circumstances that was done in, but it's hard to imagine an orderly blood-free transition after a genocide on that sort of scale. It's possible that there are all sorts of conspiracies involved and Paul Kagame is a cynical despot. But overseeing the relative calm of the last 10 years, after events like those has to count for a lot.

The French are the ones who have reignited the issue, and they obviously don't like him. They helped block the UN from becoming more involved before and during the genocide. A Belgian UN officer claimed that the French were supplying the Rwandan government with ammunition days before the genocide started, although the French deny it. I don't think the Tutsis have a particularly friendly history either, but it's difficult to argue they've done a bad job recently.

Maybe Paul Kagame orchestrated the entire genocide just so he could come to power as the glorious leader who ended the bloodshed. But you build a feasible character assassination of anyone who gains power because they deal effectively with the circumstances around them. People have argued that Xanana Gusmão is only interested in helping himself at the expense of East Timor. Presumably the 20 years of resistance and fighting, and the virtual withdrawal from politics after the election were masterfully orchestrated by him to boost his own popularity and power. Sure, it's possible. But given how unbelievably unlikely it is, I think the burden of proof is on the folk who believe it.

27 November 2006

Potatoes

It's amazing how much potato a small number of people can eat in a small amount of time if you add a few simple ingredients to it - chiefly salt and lard.

Rough

Rough Edges was pretty rough last night. The roughest I've had in years, and by far the roughest in my short history of team leading. One very bulky sort of fellow was threatening people (including me) most of the evening, and I had to decide if I should ask him to leave or not. In the end I didn't, although in retrospect I think I should have. He was abusing his physical power, and if he'd been smaller I probably would have asked him to go. You could say that any physical intimidation is too much, or that physical power shouldn't count. But it does count. I think that any sort of power needs to be treated with respect, even if you think it's illegitimate power and you're actively working to reduce it.

I think calling the police wasn't the right thing to do either, although I suspect a few people wouldn't have agreed. I never actually felt unsafe, and he was as angry at me as he was with anyone. He had quite a few friends there, at least one of who was trying to talk him down. He wasn't pursuing one individual, and the people he heckled mostly dealt with it calmly.

I probably should have tried to talk to him separately, because after a long night of talking loudly you can't really back down in front of everyone. I didn't really think he was a danger, but I was worried somebody would call his bluff. I had a chat with one of his friends at the end of the night, and she asked me if he'd threatened me with any weapons. I said he hadn't and she told me I didn't have anything to worry about then. That was oddly encouraging.

I think the other thing I've decided is that power is consistently difficult and unpleasant unless you want it. The minute someone else wants this job they can have it.

Overall, it was actually a really inspiring evening. No one else had any issues and virtually everyone dealt with what mess there was so peacefully. As one of the guys was leaving he was drinking a glass of fridge water and he said to me "One thing that is great about this place is that the water here is always so cold." That cheered me up a lot.

26 November 2006

Instant Cup Noodle

Cup Noodle is an easy to prepare instant noodle. Just pour hot water into the styrofoam cup, close the lid, wait for 3 minutes and its' ready to eat. Brands: Indomie, Popmie, Nissin, etc.

Wikitravel Indonesian on national Indonesian cuisine

25 November 2006

Borlat

Tom and I went to Borat tonight. Dendy put on side-by-side sessions because the demand was so enormous. We were both excited, and decided not to go to the rather classier Mexican film festival which was on tonight as well.

But I have to say I thought it was pretty disappointing. I haven't heard anyone really criticise it. All the reviewers think it's marvellous. Bits of it were very funny. But it was so nasty, and all I could really think about were all the people in it who thought the world was slightly worse for having met Borat. There were a lot of people who probably thought the world was better for having met him, but I'm sure they won't be thinking that anymore. The actor is an awful man. He's like an extreme Michael Moore but without the ambiguous redemption of Michael Moore's big picture idealism.

I would only recommend this film to people who think that humans they don't personally know count for less.

Large bowl

Having the entire bowl of pancake mix all to yourself isn't as fun as you would think.

24 November 2006

Nokia 1110

nokia-1110.gif I bought a new phone the other day. It was $90 and I got a free MP3 player with it. And an esky. It is an awesome phone. It doesn't do anything much at all. It's small. It doesn't try to open Word documents or send emails or take photos. The battery has lasted for longer than 24 hours, which I'm absolutely stoked about. Just tops.

Nicaraguan Abortions

Nicaragua's outgoing president signed into law a measure outlawing all abortions, including when a woman's life is in danger.

The Economist

According to the US, the new president, Daniel Ortega, is a billion times more horrible than the last guy, so I hate to think what's going to happen now.

Keating!

All of us good people went to Keating! last night at Belvoir. It was only our second play at the new theatre, and I still like it a bunch. They haven't changed any of the good things, and they have got rid of all the bad things. Like the floor that felt like it had been waxed with vegetable oil.

I, and I think all of us, loved Keating. It was so so funny. I laughed non-stop and after it had finished I kept chuckling to myself all evening. The writing of the music and the lyrics were really quality. Much better than most of the other plays I've seen this year. And it was really nice because they were making fun of Keating, but you could also tell that they loved him to bits. I doubt you'll enjoy it if you've ever voted for John Howard. But I liked Paul Keating a lot when I was little and he was in power, and as I've got older I've liked him more and more.

But it was all just beautiful. So many good songs and funny little pieces. And the guy who wrote it did a fabulous job of being Alexander Downer, although I suspect Downer would feel that they haven't fully captured and done justice to all the nuances of his character.

I wish I'd read more about his quotes before I went to see it. All the best lines from the musical we taken straight from Keating's days in parliament. I wish we had politicians like that still. He absolutely creamed John Hewson. Poor chap.

21 November 2006

Bished

Uni is all finished for the year, and I am well pleased.

Ruddock’s New Laws

Breaking Ruddock's new copyright laws can result in jail for 5 years, a $65,000 fine, or both. Luckily, if didn't know you were breaking the laws when you broke them, you only go to jail for 2 years.

The laws are bloody ridiculous. They have recently included exceptions to allow people to record shows on video to watch later. However, each individual can only watch the program once and are not allowed to keep the recording to watch the show over and over. However, rewinding a portion of the program to watch a short section is permitted. They cannot keep it on video for too long before watching it. They can lend the recording to other members of the family or household, but not outside the household. This seriously came from the revised and apparently less draconian legislation.

The one good thing is that once you have bought something, you can make copies of it in different formats. So it will be legal to put it onto iTunes and onto a MP3 player. You can have multiple "main copies" but they must all be in different formats. If there are multiple "main copies" in the same format then all copies become infringing copies. However, if the software that converts your CDs into MP3 has to make an extra copy before it converts it you won't be arrested. But you must destroy the intermediate copies immediately.

The stupid thing is that copies of music have no identity. The police would have no idea if you copied it from a CD or bought the MP3 directly or downloaded it illegally. Are they seriously going to arrest you for having MP3s and not having the matching CDs in your collection to prove you bought them? They must be mad. Don't our legislators have something better to do than decide which of our family members and friends are permitted to sit next to us while we watch a video?

Maybe music should be like software where the authors decide what the copyright conditions will be. People like Radiohead like us to illegally copy their music and bootleg it. What right does Ruddock have to prevent them? The software community has developed 10 or so basic licenses ranging from the totally flexible to totally not. People used to invent their own, but they've basically stopped because an existing one nearly always does the trick. There will be plenty of pressure on record companies not to pick weird sorts of licenses, and if they pick a license that is too strict people might just stop buying the music. The new Zune player lets you share music with another Zune which can be played for 3 days. Is every country in the world going to put that into their legislation? "You can't give music to your friend unless it is on a Zune and your friend promises to only listen to it for 3 days." Is every country going to change their legislation every time a company comes up with a new technically-copyright-violating way of selling music? Dumb and dumb.

19 November 2006

Nice One Pete

Howard was whinging about Bono and his buddies yesterday, but Costello said he'd be happy to meet with him. Howard said that with everyone talking about helping the poor, they were forgetting to talk about how good the poor really have it these days. Globalisation has apparently made billions of poor people happier, although I'm not sure if those billions he's referring to would agree with him.

But I reckon Howard just looks old and out of touch. He's not going to make any young people change their minds, and that's who Bono is mostly interested in. Costello has just made himself look far more palatable to a lot of young Australians. And I suspect there are more idealistic potential Liberal voters around than it appears. I'm a potential Liberal voter, but you probably wouldn't guess it. I'd find choosing between Costello and Beazley extremely difficult.

I suppose Howard doesn't have to appeal to young voters. By the time they count for anything he'll be retired.

18 November 2006

Cannabutter

Cannabutter can be used just like butter, or baked into anything that would require butter such as brownies in order to create a tasty and intoxicating treat. Recipes using this butter should avoid high temperatures (in excess of 300 degrees Fahrenheit) as this may damage the potency of the butter by causing the THC to be vapourized.

Wikipedia

Competencies

Life is so much easier and more pleasant if, as much as possible, you avoid doing things you aren't good at. I've heard the whole you-can-do-anything-you-set-your-mind-to argument, but I don't buy it.

Luckiest Taliban

In some ways, I'm the luckiest person in the world. I could have ended up in Guantanamo Bay. Instead I ended up at Yale.

Mr. Rahmatullah, former ambassador for the Taliban, who has recently matriculated from Yale

17 November 2006

35 Million Hungry Americans

Hunger ends, at least in name

Every year the US writes a report that measures the food security of American citizens. Every year it discovers that about 12% of the population can't afford to buy enough food at some point during the year. That seems like an enormous number for the richest country in the world. George Bush obviously thought it was a might touch too. In 1999, he said the report must be fabricated.

From this year on people who report that they have gone "hungry" in the past year will no longer be recorded as having gone hungry. Instead, they will have suffered from "very low food security". The authors of the report have decided that the term "hungry" was not accurate because "hungry" technically refers to "a potential consequence of food insecurity that, because of prolonged, involuntary lack of food, results in discomfort, illness, weakness, or pain that goes beyond the usual uneasy sensation".

16 November 2006

Glider pilots wanted

pilots-small.gif

8.3 degrees

It was 8 degrees this morning which is the coldest November morning since 1905. It was freezing and raining and windy. And then suddenly it was bright and sunny. And then in the last 5 minutes it's gone completely mad and starting pouring again. So exciting. Global warming and global crazy supercooling here we come.

Giant Adopted Families

I like the idea of adopting a giant family. Assuming I could look after them well. People seem to find lots of nasty things to say about it, but I don't understand any of those and I can't think of any better ones myself.

I would like to have a farm with a wooden house, and lots of adopted kids. Even if they did all have different skin colours. I wouldn't be upset if they were my own children, but it seems a bit silly to me to have more.

But if I do have kids and they don't already have a name of their own, I certainly won't give them a hippy name like Shiloh. Poor little bugger.

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