Monday, June 29

Please Rephrase

Removing the hostiles
collateral damage
remove the target
hit a target
remove the threat
... and I'm tired of the bullshit.

If you happen to channel-surf over Discovery Channel (and some others) while documentaries on weapons are playing, you are bound to hear one or more of the expressions above.

These shows try to show you how cool new weapons are, how advanced their technology, and how they are superior, while glossing over a simple truth: they are perfected for killing people.

All of the euphemisms above mean the exact same thing: killing people. The problem we have here is "killing people" doesn't sound cool, and it's more difficult to have a show on how cool the weapons are, if we actually put on the table that they are better tools for killing people. Instead, it's "we protect our country" [that usually means the US, since the guys in the shows I've seen are American].

I'm not arguing here that these weapons are not helping in the protection of your country (whatever that may be). I'm sure they help, but cut the bullshit! They are killing instruments.

It's not cool that you have them, it's sad that you may need them.

Wednesday, June 24

A Letter from Bill Gates

BoycottNovell has a posting on a letter on strategy, written by Bill Gates. The spin they put on the story is on how Bill Gates is afraid of linux, but I want to focus on something else: is it interesting?

First, a small paranthesis: Is the letter authentic?

I'd say yes, for the following reasons:
1. I'm not very familiar with BoycottNovell and their sources of information, but from what I've read of the letter (provided in it's entirety in the article) I would say that it's either authentic, or whoever made it is very insightfull and has lots of "vision".

2. If they published a fake letter, they be very open to attacks (which would only serve them in the short run - publicity stunt/shock value/whatever).

The letter talks (among other things) about linux and java being Windows' largest competitors and the need to preventing commodization by linux (you may be too late on that) about taking good ideas for improvement from a variety of sources, about a major overhaul of the file/storage system (the points being made there sounded to me both revolutionary and obvious at the same time), about a need (stated explicitely) to improve system monitoring enough to be better than on linux, difficulty of setting up windows for a speciffic purpose, unifying the application platform technologies to win back Java and J2EE developers, improving Windows boot time and improving asynchronous communication (email, Gmail, CRM, scheduling, etc) - maybe they should take a look at Google Wave.

All in all it's an interesting letter, and if they manage to achieve all that, it will make for interesting times.

Monday, June 15

A Recipe I Tried Today

This is a recipe that I kind of stole, by watching while it was made, in La Bocca restaurant, in Limassol:

What you need (for two persons):
  • pasta
  • 200 grams of sour creme
  • 50 grams of smoked salmon
  • olive oil
  • one egg
  • a spoon-full of dill (preferably fresh)

First, the pasta is boiled separately, then dried.

For the sauce, use a big pan(preferably a wok).

First, dice the salmon into smaller pieces, and the dill into small pieces. Then heat the pan, pour the oil inside and drop the salmon in oil, to fry (it tends to stick to the pan, so you apparently need to stir it somewhat).

Once it's fried, drop the sour creme, then the dill, add a bit of salt and stir. Once it's homogeneous, you can leave it unattended for a few seconds, so it's a good time to separate the egg yoke, add it, and stir again.

About ten seconds after mixing in the egg yoke, add the pasta (that's why you needed a big pan :) ), stir, then turn off the heat and serve immediately.

I'm sure the recipe is not new or anything, but it's the first time I made it and it was great, so I thought I'd share.

Total time required: time to boil the pasta, plus two extra minutes.

Thursday, June 11

Going to the Park

Today we went to the park ... kind of.

D&R came home around six, and we decided we'd go to the park: they, to check out their mountain-bikes, me to check my brother's motorbike.

We got to the parking lot, mounted the MTBs on the car, I got the motorbike out, then we exited the parking lot and the rain started. We turned around, parked again, got the MTBs off the car and ran through the rain, back home.

D's comment: Welcome to Belgium!

In Blegium

I am in Belgium. I arrived yesterday after a tiring flight, and was half zombie for the whole day.

Things are a bit different here, but it's welcome change and I was looking forward to it:

The closest shop is a Carrefour. It's bigger than I was used to, and the product quality and range differs greatly. I am not one to spend my days in Carrefour or anything, but it was familiar and strange at the same time ... Also, food kiosks and non-stop shops are non-existent here (to the degree I was able to determine) as people buy food in bulk around here (cheaper to do so). As I said, it's welcome change.

When we landed, I was lucky to have packed a rain jacket with my cabin luggage, otherwise I'd have frozen. Now it's sunny outside, but not warm (I had forgotten this combination), and it's been raining for a while yesterday, for a while last night, and for a while today.

Otherwise, it's all good. I got a local simcard and I'm posting stuff on the net.

One last thing: Hoegaarden rocks!

An Interesting Drugs Report

It seems that a while ago, the World Health Organization performed a study on cocaine use (the source said it was the largest ever indepth study). Then, the results got dimissed and the report was never published, as it didn't conform with the myths propagated by the US anti-drug campaigns and political interests.

The report touched on unjustified stigmatization/vilification of cocaine users, exaggerations of the health damages cocaine produces and the fact that current approaches to stopping the use of cocaine are naive at best (among other things).

The US apparently threatened to withdraw funding from the WHO if the report was published (in the end it seems it was leaked[PDF], not published).

Disclaimer: This post is in no way an endorsement for the use of cocaine (or any other drugs for that matter). I am more interested in writing about the conclusions and the supression of the report, than drugs in general. Besides, IANAD.

Tuesday, June 9

Chopin and ... Djembe drums

I was just talking to a friend about playing Chopin on a Djembe drum.

We figured that, if we were to manage it, Chopin would be spinning in his grave to such a degree that if you were to put a magnet in his mouth and wrap the coffin in copper wire, you'd solve the energy needs of the whole of Europe for the next fifty years.

Sunday, June 7

On Moving, and the 90-90 Rule

My blog is in danger of becoming stale, as I haven't taken the time to post in a while. Here are some highlights:
  • I'm moving to Belgium

So, there!

Also, here are some ramblings on changing country: When moving your stuff from Cyprus, you can choose between plane and cargo.
I opted for cargo, because I absolutely hate going through airports with everything but the kitchen sink.
Even so, I couldn't get everything through cargo. It's the 90-90 rule:

When moving house, after you gather 90% of your crap lying around, you only have to gather the remaining 90%!

After I shipped my cargo with orbit I had the feeling I had an empty room. Once I started actually packing everything that was left (the small stuff), I couldn't believe how much I had left (the remaining 90%).

The good part is I should be in Belgium by the end of the week.