Older blog entries for chalst (starting at number 5)

28 Sep 2001 (updated 6 Feb 2002 at 12:39 UTC) »

WTC bombing aftermath: It's been about two weeks since I last posted, and that was a number of entries about the WTO bombing and my fears about gung-ho American reprisals. I'm very happy to say that it looks like my early fears were wrong, and the US is taking a long term view, trying to repair relationships with muslim countries, and making sure it has multi-lateral support for its attack on Bin Laden and his peers. I'm very impressed. My opinion of Bush has gone from pretty much nothing to a very good measure of respect. My hopes now stretch to a resolution of the humanitarian horror in Iraq...

GCJ and Java: I'm thinking about a new project, splitting up a graph transformation engine written in Java to a UI part and a server part, allowing the Swing-less server part to be compiled with the new GCJ compiler (part of gcc 3.0; gcc is a really impressive achievement) to native code. I wonder if anyone has experience of similar projects. I wonder also if GCJ makes Java more interesting to open source developers?

Ironic postscript (06-02-2002): I see that Bush does have ideas about `resolving' the crisis in Iraq...

14 Sep 2001 (updated 14 Sep 2001 at 14:04 UTC) »

Just read the Economist leader on Tuesday's attack. A good summary, though I didn't think the Bush administration remitted themselves well: actually I thought they compared unfavourably with Mayor Guiliani and his administration. Also I think principles of justice are as important as principles of pragmatism in politics, though I suppose I seem to be in a minority with this view.

deekayen: Your views go from bad to worse. I cannot argue with this, I can only record my contempt and disgust for your defence of the Japanese holocaust.

Wednesday evening I and my girlfriend tried to find a suitable gathering at which to express solidarity with those who lost friends and loved ones in Tuesday's terrorist attack. There was a kitschy Church gathering at Alexanderplatz, and two small gatherings near the American Embassy (the streets around the Embassy were cordoned off: obviously there are fears that the Embassy is a target). None of them seemed right, so we left to go home after it became dark. Today there will be a big gathering at Brandenburg gate, but unfortunately I will not be able to go: our department has its 2nd international Petri Net workshop today, and I shall have to attend.

As a human tragedy, Americans have my complete sympathy and solidarity, but I don't like the direction the politics is taking. American politicians are saying "fine words are worthless: we want commitments", ie. unconditional support for whatever retributive acts the US chooses to take. I suppose the UK can be counted on to support the most disgusting acts of revenge, but it is not reasonable to make these political demands of self-respecting nations. I see Colin Powell is backing out of trying to cobble together a NATO response, presumably because NATO has its own command structure that is not controlled by the Bush administration, and might want to know the answers to tiresome questions like : "what is the *military* justification for this bombing?"

12 Sep 2001 (updated 12 Sep 2001 at 13:03 UTC) »

I have found yesterday and today emotionally exhasting, both in terms of worrying about friends and colleagues in the USA, and in composing messages of support I sent by email (leaving messages on mobile phones in the NY area is *still* difficult). Most of the news I have heard has been good news since the distress of yesterday: my sister, on a business trip to New York, is safe, as are two of my firend who work in the financial district of that city. I have friends in Washington for whom yesterday was a frightening day with the attack on the Pentagon.

I'm signing off early to go home (I plan to go to a gathering of Berliners as a gesture of solidarity for Americans whose lives have been touched by tragedy). I want to write a message that I hope some people in America will take to heart.

The case for measured justice in America's response

Many people in America feel that the USA has to make a show of strength, by making a military strike against some regime that might be responsible for the attack. This is immoral (see my previous post), unpragmatic and incompatible with the values that a civilised and democratic society should have.

Innecent people would die, and if any of the perpetrators should die among them, they will become martyrs whose death provides the "oxygen of publicity" to the groups who sponsored them without the cold light of truth that a proper judicial and diplomatic process would bring.

To many Americans, yesterday was a shocking horror without precedent in terms of its emotional impact on their lives. To people in some parts of the world, equally vile horrors are a commonplace. If you feel horror at the celebration of some people in Palestine at yesterday's horror, you should think about how you would feel about the horrors that Israel has perpetrated against these people, and reflect on the wisdom and justice of continuing the cycle of horror.

While the Afghan regime is a barbaric and cruel regime masquerading behind the Koran, it is salutary to reflect that the archiects of that regime were grown in religious schools in Pakistan that were funded by the CIA as part of their campaign against the USSR occupation of Afghanistan. If it turns out that twisted products of that Machievellian calculation are responsible for yesterday's human tragedy, I hope it will make those in power reflect on George Orwell's words that we should "doubt the wisdom of those `political realists' who rub their hands with glee" at the destruction of innocents that result from their immoral political strategems.

12 Sep 2001 (updated 12 Sep 2001 at 11:25 UTC) »

deekayen: In Europe the kind of blind retribution you appear to advocate is a particular horror, since just this retribution was used by Fascist regimes in the 1930s and 1940s. Especially in Vichy France, where there was a particularly active resistance, the typical response of the Nazi occupiers to deaths of German's was simply to round up ten times the number of German deaths in local civilians and publically execute them.

In moral terms the retribution advocated by many yourself and many fellow Americans, is equivalent to this horror of Fascism. The moral justification "they must see you can't fuck with us" is exactly identical.

Interesting discussion on GUIs and the UNIX way. A thought: it strikes me that the way KDE does interapplication communication through KParts is much closer to `the UNIX way' (ie. the ideals of the UNIX philosophy): it is pretty much signals and sockets. The cost of doing things this way is that you are no longer in the CORBA model.

I think the CORBA model isn't compatible with the UNIX philosophy, but then so is much of the standard UNIX runtime (eg. emacs, X). The question, though, is why does CORBA matter so much? Perhaps adherence to CORBA flows from a misplaced loyalty to a bad standard?

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