Monthly Archives: maj 2008

Some sort of 5 year aniversary ….

Today it is exactly 5 years since I bought my very own computer. Before then, the ones I had been using were family computers, which were pre-built machines. But on the 31st of May 2003, the day after my confirmation (Which in my opinion, is just a silly tradition, without any real meaning, because like I wrote in an earlier post, I have always been skeptical of the whole Christianity thing), having gotten a bunch of money as gifts, my mother, my uncle, my friend Mathias and myself went to Århus to get parts for a brand new computer for me. After that we went to a Pizza Hut for lunch, and then we went on home, and Mathias helped me put the machine together. Very special day for me, because it culminated into something much larger today.

Nepal becomes a republic

I’ve been following the events happening in Nepal, for a little while now. Not just because I don’t like monarchies in general, but I especially love when “bad and evil” monarchies are simply abolished, rather than turned into a constitutional monarchy. If you ask me, we ought to do the same in Denmark (I love the idea of “Republic of Denmark”), so that we can spend the millions of Danish kroner, that we waste on maintaining our silly (constitutional) monarchy, on education, healthcare, public transport, infrastructure and many other things, that they would be better spent on! Instead of sponsoring a group of rich people having a big circle jerk year in, and year out, for the newspapers and tabloid reporters to write about !!!

Anyway, that was a side-issue …

Congratulations to the people of Nepal!

Concluding reality for oneself …

It’s been quite a few years since I decided for myself, that I really was not a Christian, because I did not (And still does not) believe in what Christianity teaches, about the “alwise” and “almighty” God of Abraham.

I have always put a great deal of energy and effort, into conclusions that I make for myself about things in life. Because doing so, in my opinion, makes my chances of making, what for me would be, the right conclusion better. I spent a lot of time thinking about the concept of God, which I had been lightly told about since I was adopted by my Danish parent(s). Even though I was confirmed at the age of 14 (Which in my opinion, is really is more of a tradition in society, among the majority of Danes, than an act of actual faith), I always had my doubts about the whole thing in general. I think that a few months after my 15th birthday (Which was on September 24th of 2003), I realized that I really did not believe in what the bible said at all. And since then, I have further enhanced that conclusion because of the enormous amount of violence and human rights violations, described in the bible.

When my mother (Along with the man, I once used to see as my father) was in Sri Lanka to adopt me, they bought some small statues and figurines of one of the Hindu gods, Krishna, and the Buddha, Siddhattha Gotama. I guess as keepsakes and souvenirs. I always thought they seemed quite fascinating, and definitely well made. Unlike many people I know, I have always found other cultures interesting and fascinating, rather than weird, strange or alien.

Throughout the last couple of years, I have occasionally come in contact with small aspects of Buddhism, like sayings or quotes/statements by people such as the Dalai Lama. Those coming out of a different culture than my own, seemed interesting to me, so I took notice of them.
Last year when deciding what classes I was gonna take, I decided, among others, on religion, in the hope that I could learn about Buddhism (And also Shinto, the native religion of Japan) in detail. On the first day of class, our teacher asked us, whether there were any topics we wanted to get into during the year, once we were finished with the obligatory stuff stated in the curriculum. I think about eight people, including myself, mentioned Buddhism, and another guy, and myself, mentioned Shinto. Our teacher said that if we were to get into a far-eastern religion like Buddhism or Hinduism, she wanted to do those toward the end of the school year, because she thought they were more challenging to understand, and at the end of the school year, we would have more tools of analysis to work with. I thought “OK, fair enough”, even though I doubted that I, personally, would have difficulty understanding concepts in Buddhism if they were explained properly. To make a long story short, we never got to Buddhism, because my teacher decided to prioritize medical ethics and criticism of religion, instead of my, and other’s requests for a topic on Buddhism. That really frustrated me quite a bit, because when chugging through Christianity, I almost fell asleep at times, and I just kept telling myself “Don’t worry, we’ll get to something interesting soon …”, but we never did, and boy was that frustrating.
So, I rolled up my sleeves, and took matters into my own hands, and in the middle of the night some time last year, I brought up Wikipedia, and various sites, such as Buddhanet and ReligionFacts and started reading. After having digested the information I had obtained by my first round of study, as I like to call it, I really thought it was fascinating, and a very interesting view on the world, the universe and reality in general.

Since then, it has reached the point, where I decided that this might be something that I could get into. Especially after I read this (Which is part of a larger Q&A on Buddhanet):

Question:
What you said so far is very interesting to me. How do I become a Buddhist?

Answer:
Once there was a man called Upali. He was the follower of another religion and he went to the Buddha in order to argue with him and try to convert him. But after talking to the Buddha, he was so impressed that he decided to become a follower of the Buddha. But the Buddha said:

“Make a proper investigation first. Proper investigation is good for a well-known person like yourself.”
“Now I am even more pleased and satisfied when the Lord says to me: ‘Make a proper investigation first.’ For if members of another religion had secured me as a disciple they would have paraded a banner all around the town saying: ‘Upali has joined our religion.’ But the Lord says to me: ‘Make a proper investigation first. Proper investigation is good for a well known person like yourself.”
MII 379

In Buddhism, understanding is the most important thing and understanding takes time. So do not impulsively rush into Buddhism. Take your time, ask questions, consider carefully, and then make your decision. The Buddha was not interested in having large numbers of disciples. He was concerned that people should follow his teachings as a result of a careful investigation and consideration of facts.

Source: A Basic Buddhism Guide: What is Buddhism? – Becoming a Buddhist.

The reason this pushed me through the door, so to speak, was because the last part of it, pretty much sums up how I have always viewed life in general, “Take your time, ask questions, consider carefully, and then make your decision.”, and since reading the above, I have run across other things, which I through some careful thought, have found that I agreed with. Some of these, I will mention at a later time …

Edit: In the comments section, somebody pointed out that my reference to “enormous amount of violence and human rights violations, described in the bible.” was too vague for the general reader, so here’s a few direct examples (Among many many others) of incitement of hatred, prejudice, violence and murder:

It’s OK to sell your daughter into slavery:

“If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as menservants do.”
(Exodus 21:7 NIV)

People of other religions must be put to death:

“Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the LORD must be destroyed.”
(Exodus 22:20 NIV)

Anybody working on the sabbath must be put to death:

“Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people. For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.”
(Exodus 31:12-17 NIV)

Gays must be put to death:

“If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”
(Leviticus 20:13 NIV)

Women who are not virgins when they get married must be stoned to death:

“If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you.”
(Deuteronomy 22:20-21 NIV)

A “rebellious” son (Which would include children, since no age is specified as being exempted) must be put do death:

“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.” Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.”
(Deuteronomy 21:18-21 NIV)

Enough!!!

Before I say anything, let me warn you that while writing this, I am about to explode out of frustration and anger.

In my opinion, the responsibility of a government is to insure it’s people’s well being, and to work in the people’s best interests. But look at what is happening out there: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHar0wJn4VA.
This military junta in Burma is doing, what I would consider high treasonous against it’s people. It is not caring one bit about their lives and well being, and simple letting them die, by preventing aid from coming in as fast as possible. I consider this indirect genocide, because by not allowing aid to come in, they are letting people die. So it makes no difference that they aren’t killing people themselves, because the result is the same, oh and they actually were killing their own people only months ago!!
This has been going on since the cyclone happened at the beginning of this month.

We already know this government does not serve the people, it serves it’s own greed and corruption. We saw this during the pro-democracy protests led by Buddhist monks some months back. And for over a decade now, they have gone against the wishes of the people and prevented Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, National League for Democracy, to form a government, despite the fact that they were elected by the people to govern. And for several decades they have repressed the people.

The military junta’s mouth-piece media outlet, is saying that they won’t allow American, British and French warships loaded with aid supplies to bring that to the people who need it, because that assisted “comes with strings attached”, in the form of an American invasion to take control of their oil resources etc. etc.

Alright, ENOUGH!!! of this nonsense! If they’re afraid of an invasion, that’s exactly what we, the international community, should give them! UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has stated that he is “frustrated” (Source: UN Chief Criticizes Burma’s ‘Slow’ Response to Cyclone) with the military junta’s unwillingness to let aid come in. The UN is obviously useless in this case, thanks to a hopelessly old and crusty system of decision making, because Russia and China is obviously gonna veto any proposal of military action against the military junta, that the US, UK or France might come up with.

The article I linked to above mentions that the US already have four warships stationed outside of Burma, with aid supplies and a thousand US marines. It also means that ships from Great Britain and France are also there. Well, I think the right thing to do right now is to bring in armed warships, and escort that aid to the devastated areas. Bring in fighter jets if needed to make sure the aid gets to the people who need it. If the military junta attempts to fight such efforts, I think they should be overthrown militarily, and the people responsible for the violent repression of the peaceful demonstrations a few months back, and the people responsible for blocking aid from coming in (These are like the same bastards) should be put on trial for crimes against humanity.

And to those of you who might say “Ohh no, if you do that this will turn into another Afghanistan!”, well, let’s lay the scenario than the UN or NATO takes military action, and successfully removes the military junta from power, and take control of their armed forces (And NOT disbanding it, which is what really made Iraq go down the gutter), at this point, I think Burma is a very different beast to deal with than Afghanistan. One, in my opinion, very good argument is that it’s a largely Buddhist country, okay. Theravada Buddhism (Which is what you find in Burma) advocates dialog and non-violence, so I don’t think you would have influential spiritual leaders saying “My follows go fight those evil crusaders!” or whatever. On top of that, remember the big-ass protests against the repressive military regime? There’s clearly resentment towards the military junta, but like Poland during the cold war, it’s next to impossible to get rid of such a regime, through violent means, when you’re surrounded by a large military. In Burma’s case, any rebellion would be up against, I mentioned it earlier, a military with over 500,000 available troops (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myanmar_Military), or in the example of Poland, the Solidarity movement in Poland (Which persued non-violent means to fight the Soviet regime) was surrounded by 200,000 Red Army troops armed to the teeth … yeah, good luck fighting against that with violence.
Also, another contrast to Afghanistan is that if you got rid of the military junta, there already are people, who are qualified and EVEN freaking elected by the people to govern!! Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won 392 out of 492 seats during the 1990 parliamentary elections (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_League_for_Democracy), yet the military junta never allowed them to form a government. This is a huge-ass contrast to Afghanistan, for which the operation itself was extremely poorly done, and it was non-obvious what to do after that. Of course, military action against the military junta in Burma could be poorly done as well, but if we can wait weeks not doing anything, I think it’s relatively trivial to get some aid in by escorting the carrying vessels by warships or fighter planes, and then spending sometime to potentially plan a fullscale invasion.

Sun releases OpenSolaris … and I am not very interested!

Sun just announced the launch of their new OpenSolaris operating system distribution, formerly known under the code name of Project Indiana. This is supposedly a new “Way”, as people in Zen Buddhism say, of Solaris, that is meant to reach out to advanced users and developers of GNU/Linux to get them to take a look at OpenSolaris. At least that’s how I understand it.

From the screenshots I have seen, Sun has essentially taken a page out of Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE and others’ books of a of a 1-CD installable LiveCD, a new package management system for Solaris and a bunch of other things, and created a version of Solaris based around those ideas.

On paper it all sounds cool, you’ve got ZFS in there, along with D-Trace and other good stuff that Sun has come up with.

BUT, there’s a big but here, I am not very impressed with OpenSolaris at all. I admit I have not tried it, and I don’t really intend to (For reasons that I will explain in a moment), but if you go and take a look at the “License Terms” section of this page: http://www.opensolaris.com/get/index.html
You see this (Emphasis is mine):

License Terms
The contents of the OpenSolaris™ 2008.05 Live Media Image are governed by the Common Development and Distribution License Version 1.0, with the exception of certain portions under other licenses (such as the OpenSolaris Binary License) as provided in the OpenSolaris Live Media License file included with the software and displayed when booting the Live Media Image. The additional software available from the OpenSolaris Package Repository and not included on the Live Media Image is governed by the licenses provided in the OpenSolaris Package Repository License file and/or in the individual software packages.
All of these licenses permit use, copying and redistribution of the software.”

Obviously that means the GPL and other free software licenses like it, since Sun uses GNOME as the desktop, they obviously have GPLed software in there, which is DEFINITELY not CDDL licensed. However, it also means a staggering amount of proprietary drivers and components. Sun has been quite honest about it, and there’s a detailed page, showing what parts are proprietary: http://www.opensolaris.org/os/about/no_source/
However, what makes the hairs on my neck rise is stuff like this:

“uata driver (B) IDE HBA driver
rtls driver (B) Realtek Fast Ethernet device driver
sbpro driver Creative Labs Sound Blaster Audio device driver”

Über basic hardware that have free software drivers in every other free (Read: liberty) OS out there such as GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD etc. Yet they are proprietary in “Open”Solaris. They ought to call this thing something like “semi-Open_Solaris”, because that’s what the thing is.
I’m sure some Sun fanboy is gonna accuse med of zealotry or whatever, because I want a completely free software operating system (A few exceptions can be made, but not with drivers), and tell me to write my own drivers. However let me rebuff you right now! Sun’s goal with OpenSolaris is to get GNU/Linux guys to use Solaris, which would create a bigger potential customer base for their supported Solaris, and increase chances, by a very small margin, that people buy a computer from Sun. Fair enough, that’s more or less what Red Hat and Novell does, that’s all fine. However, a GNU/Linux distribution such as Fedora gives me a very very good OS, with no proprietary drivers, or major proprietary components, and a freaking huge amount of supported hardware. ZFS is very cool, and I do have some real uses for it, but a file system is worthless without an operating system, and proprietary software is simple not an option for me, and even more so with supposedly free (Read: liberty) systems that one would need to use a proprietary driver in to be able to use it at all on one’s machine …. if it was supported!

That’s another thing about Solaris, AFAIK, the amount of well supported hardware is miniscule compared to that of GNU/Linux. Hell, even OpenBSD, supports more hardware than Solaris does, and they have absolutely N O proprietary drivers, hell, when people write songs (http://www.openbsd.org/lyrics.html#39) about why proprietary drivers (blobs) are bad, you really start thinking “Man, these guys are either really weird, or very serious!” and I am of the opinion of the latter, that they are really serious!

Also, I don’t have any bias towards Solaris, I would really like to give it a serious, real-world try for some storage stuff, but I only use operating systems that are fully free, and OpenSolaris, as it is today, is just right out inadequate, to be frank and honest. Anybody who values software freedom to such a degree that he or she, either uses no proprietary software at all, or minimizes their use of proprietary software to very minimal things, would be wasting their time messing with OpenSolaris in my opinion, they ought to go grab Fedora 9 (When it comes out in 8 days! YAY!) or OpenBSD (A truly free operating system).