Friday, December 22, 2006

How Vista plans to steal the christmas

I read an analysis on what Vista does to achieve the goal of content protection, i.e. preventing you from copying e.t.c. of all those movies on Blue-ray and HD-DVD, and I am stumped. Things will go wrong by design. Before you yourself do anything wrong. To make things clear, there is a critical difference between concepts of secure computer and content managed computer. Former is designed to protect our computers from access by an unauthorised party. Later is designed to protect our computer from access by an authorized party. Us. This is of course very hard. How does one achieves it? Analogy to what MS approach comes down to, is filling our every single little pocket with a grenade to "protect" us from reaching into those pockets as long as even one of them might have "managed content".

There are two direct consequences to this. First, managed content becomes a Trojan horse that robes us of control over our own computer, and then benevolently lets us use it's resources, until we reach into one of the pockets and accidentally pull one of the grenade pins. Second, managed content robes us of our security, for it is not hard to imagine what can happen to a person on a crowded street (which is Internet) with pockets filled with grenade pins. Eventually someone will pull one out.

Read all about it here.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Return of the Gas Chambers

Seems like somebody in the Russian city Pskov wants the 1940's back. Some evildoers spread gas during Hanuka celebration dinner inside a Jewish community center. Apparently, the community center is located right next to a technical institution. Students are suspected, as this is not the first act of aggression on their side.
Now this wouldn't be much of a deal on it's own, if not for the fact that this is part of a growing wave of violence against Jews in Europe. I don't give a damn about political correctness, and I will say what needs to be said here loud and clear. In western Europe it is the growing Muslim communities, bundled with the ignorance and self deception of the press and politicians which is bordering on criminal. Incidents, and there are many, are either not reported at all, or made seem like a criminal acts, while in fact they are expression of growing religious intolerance. Mark my word, Christians are next.
In Russia, biggest part of eastern Europe, this has become federal policy, sanctioned on the highest levels (yes, Putin) to keep people's attention away from real problems, and serve political interests. The discrimination against Georgians is the biggest right now, but the undercurrents are growing in many directions.
Think USA is immune? Think twice. Violence happens here as well, and there is more to come. Many people saw Sasha Baron Cohen's stunt when he started singing an antisemitic song in some bar. At least half the people, to my count, were readily singing along "throw the Jew down the well". They only need a good push.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

How Microsoft plans to appropriate Linux

The state of affairs right now is that Linux is a highly desirable and free technology, and any Microsoft of this world would love to "embrace, extend, extinguish" it from the landscape. This however is problematic because Linux, including the kernel, are licensed under GPL, and GPL says "if you agree to this license you agree to distribute the source code of YOUR programs you distribute with this product [in our case Linux] under GPL as well. if you do not agree, you may not distribute this product." This is the biggest obstacle for Microsoft, because they are too afraid to open source their code.

Or is it? Turns out, not so much. What would happen if customer Z to whom company X wants to sell a closed-sourse product running on Linux, already had Linux? Then company X could get away with not distributing Linux, but still selling their product on top of it. Now, what would happen if Z obtained a copy of Linux just for that purpose from another company Y? The scheme would still work, except that two companies are now involved with Z which means double responsibility for the final product for X and Y (and Z does not likes this), and split profits for X and Y (and X does not likes this). Now assume that X and Y enter into agreement, under which they promise to "integrate" their technology (but not bundle it together), and integrate their customer support (keeping it technically separate, but providing the customer with a single "phone number") as well as advocate each other when negotiating a deal. Now Z is happy, the proprietary product is effectively distributed with Linux but not GPLed, and X and Y are laughing all the way to the bank. The one thing remains? For either X or Y to try to screw the other over the profits.

Unlikely scenario? If you think about it, this is pretty much what Microsoft just did with their deals with Xen and Novell, and you can guess which one is X yourself. Welcome to the New Order.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Stealing from the honey pot

So, in face of Apple's wildly succesful iPod, Microsoft, as always trying to get a piece of action anywere there is money, ditched it's old strategy of developing software for an "ecosystem" of 3rd party devices, and built one itself. The device is called Zune, has nice touches, but is generally infirior to similarly priced iPods. What's really interesting though is that Microsoft stroke a deal with Universal, to distribute their music (much like Apple) and agreed to pay Universal royalties on each Zune player sold. Not just on each song (which is a given) but on each device. Universal's reasoning? Quoting Times,
"it is only fair to receive payment on devices that may be repositories for stolen music".
Excuse me?! First, this assumes that any customer is a pirate. Nicely done, Universal and Microsoft. Second, if I am not pirating, should I get a refund? Third, and most critical, what about my personal computer? My cellphone? They all may serve as repositories for stolen music. Should music industry get to tax me for owning a computer? What about the movie industry? The software industry (hello Microsoft)? Ah, my bad. That last one we already paying, every time we buy a new computer and shell out cash for copy of Windows we already have at home or don't need.

Finally, there is a good idea I want to give Universal. People also have memory to reposit stolen music in, and lips to reproduce it. In the spirit of things, you should be taxing our heads.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

War of Intellects

As is already known, Kerry made his first self-described joke compaigning for Democrats:
"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

Mr. Kerry should know better. In his freshmen year in Yale he got four (4) D grades out of 10 curses, but look at him now, a US senator getting to joke about how dum Bush is. Incidentally, the "dum" G.W.Bush, also Yale graduate, had a higher GPA.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Joking at guest's expense

A creepy and revealing glimpse into Mr. Putin's psycho was allowed by his remark by the end of press conference with Israel's prime minister visiting Moscow, Ehud Olmert. Remark referred to involvement of Israeli president in several sex scandals. Toned down English translation you are likely to see (quoting The Jerusalem Post) is:
'He surprised us,' Putin said of Katsav in words picked up by a microphone before the sound was shut off.
Then, according to one official who heard the rest of the exchange, Putin said: 'We didn't know he could deal with 10 women.' To which Olmert reportedly replied, 'I wouldn't be jealous of him.'"

Wondering why Olmert thought Puting was jealous? Ministry of offence brings you an authentic, rather then "politically correct" translation. Read and admire both the difference and the substance:
"Say 'hi' to your president! [He] turned out to be a very mighty man. Raped ten women! I never expected of him! We are all jealous of him!".

What does this say about Putin? That he is in a habit of stepping on honor of his guests? That he would like to rape ten women? This cynical assault, masquerading as a supportive joke, is the true face of today's Kremlin. Remember it. We will soon see it again.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Silence of the Infidels

I really like reading articles by Yashiko Sagamori. They are always sharp, uncompromising, and revealing. This time I want to share two observations she made in "Silence of the Sheep", both in the same paragraph:

What genius will be able to explain to us that the term Islamofascism is absurd because Islam itself, in its entirety, is a form of fascism? Islam is the ideology of jihad. Take jihad out of Islam and all that's left will be an elaborate set of absolutely meaningless rituals. And when someone tells you that the word jihad means the internal strife of the faithful for spiritual perfection rather than genocide waged by evil savages against the rest of humanity, keep in mind that the title of the world famous classical work on humanism that enjoys ever increasing popularity among the Muslims, Meine Kampf, translates into Arabic as My Jihad.

So, what about my Muslim friends you wonder? Probably following a recent suggestion by some professor in a university in Cairo, or maybe a calling of similar sorts, they cherry-pick what they want to follow from their religion and ignore the rest. What keeps them floating are justifications like "the parts about murdering non-Muslims were written in different times".

To me, this is similar to praising a cook book written by Hannibal Lector. "It is not all bad" they say. "Some recipes are outstanding."

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Hello? Yes, this is the Bomb speaking.

Remember that guy who was found with a car full of cell phones, not so long ago, in US? Remember the terror attack in Bangladesh, when 350 bombs exploded at the same time? Here is the thing. To do that terror attack Al-Kaeda used 350 cell phones, with skype with different accounts installed on each. All it took to activate all bombs was give them all a call. Since this is VOIP, they can do it in many counties at the same time, too, and still remain untraceable. And to top it all, the "invention" of this thing was subsidized by Al Zarkauwi. The one US recently killed in their "unjust" war in Iraq.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The True victory...

...of Hezbollah in the recent war is that the number of people wanting to leave Israel for good has grown tremendously. Number of inquires with Canadian embassy alone has grown 5-fold. It's not just the new immigrants, but people that made aliya 10 - 15 years ago. If anything can dismantle the country, this is it. On personal level I am very confused about the situation. After all, I also made aliya 16 years ago, and now I live in Miami. What right do I have to blame them? And so I do not. There are many reasons to leave, enough to circle the globe 3 times. And only one reason to stay. When Israel is gone, we shall never go home again. I hope I will be coming back.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

This is how it's done

If you read this blog you know I am not against Bush. But sometimes this fella just drops me on the floor. This time it is a 6-year old phrase:

I am mindful of the difference between the executive branch and the legislative branch. I assured all four of these leaders that I know the difference, and that difference is they pass the laws and I execute them.

--George w. Bush

Washington, DC
12/20/2000

Monday, August 14, 2006

Not that mistake again!

In his new speech Bibi said that "unilateral disengagement" is "bad" and "bilateral" is "good". Now, unilateral is sure not a solution, we got Gaza and Lebanon after that, but bilateral is even worse. It's back to the times of Oslo and Arafat, only without Arafat (thank God) and not in Oslo. We all know how that ended too.

So, what's the solution? Here are some words of wisdom from the Ministry of Offence. Step back from semantics and realize: mortal enemies are still mortal, on our side of the border and on theirs. Mortal enemies, wherever they are, means mortal danger. And mortal danger is always first on the priority lists. There is but one choice then. Crash the enemy first, disengage later.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Pallywood: all you never wanted to know

In this hard to believe footage about PA "journalism" you will witness staged battles, healthy people playing dead and wounded, and even fake baby delivery.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Next time it will be the air force

Let me make another grim prophecy here... When I first heard about Israeli tank being hit in Lebanon I tried to find out if it was Magah, or Merkava. See, if it was Magah everything is self explanatory: the tank is old and not very protected. However, Merkava is a very well protected vehicle, one of the best in the world. To my surprise it turned out to be Merkava. Since than many tanks have been hit in Lebanon, and we already know the reason: Hezbollah is using very advanced Russian anti-tank rocket launchers Vampire. Where do all those Vampires come from? They are produced by a Russian firm "Bazalt" and are delivered via Syria. Moreover, all the famous "Iranian" rockets fired at Israeli cities are also either produced or engineered in Russia: Fajr-3 is Russian Uragan, Fajr-5 is Russian Smerch, Zeizal-2 is Russian Luna-M.

And now to the prediction. Apparently, Russian army is replacing it's older but still very potent anti-aircraft rocket systems C-300. One of those took down a passenger plain with a bunch of Israelies over the Black Sea some years ago (that one was Ukrainian C-300). The new systems coming in are C-400, but it is the C-300 that worry me. Russian army includes 35 regiments (!) of those little toys on big tracks, and they are all going to be replaced in a process that starts now. Where will the C-300s go? I won't be surprised if in the next war IAF will start suffering losses from ground fire, just like today Merkava do.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Introducing: Zionist Death Snipers

IDF has called upon snipers that made aliya from Russia and fought the Chechen and Afghan wars. For those who do no know, war in Chechnia, like any war in that region by far outstrips in it's brutality daily encounters with Palestinian terrorists by IDF soldiers. Same true about war in Afghanistan. To say in addition that those people are snipers immediately makes them the military elite in any army in the world.

If IDF lets them fight, the results will be substantial. It is a shame however they are only being called upon now, many weeks after the fighting started. Their presence in the battlefield could have saved many lives. Even worse is the fact that they are no longer used in confrontations with Palestinian terrorists, even though there was a pilot period during which they were deployed. Such disregard for highly motivated, highly professional force in a time of dire need shows poor judgment and lack of leadership skills on part of the army top officers. Inexcusable for an officer, especially in a time of war.

It would be wise to make a better use of those people in the future. I would suggest to use them as intructors in sniper courses. But I doubt anybody is listening.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Why Lebanese war can be neither won nor lost

Hezbolah was organized in 1982 from a coalition of Lebanese Shia clericals, each with his own sphere of influence. Sheih Muhamad Husein Fadula, the principal founder, from the very beginning made a tight relationship with Iran, and, to a lesser degree with Syria the foundation of Hezbolah's prosperity and continuous support. The support hurried up to arrive: financial, military and political – for the acceptable price of Hezbolah leadership answering to the Iranian ayatollahs. It is important to understand that Hezbolah was not created “because of” but rather “for the purpose of”. The situation that permitted creation of Hezbolah was the handiwork of Yasser Arafat that started in Lebanon civil war and gave Syria a reason to "liberate" Lebanon, while in effect occupying it. The reason behind creation of Hezbolah became it's hidden purpose of existence: to establish in Lebanon an Islamic republic answering to Iran. The official goal, designed to garner wide public support and divert attention from it's true intentions (which wouldn't make Lebanese non-Muslims particularly happy) was declared as "resistance to Israeli occupation". “Occupation” can of course mean different things, depending on what is assumed to be occupied. After Israel left south Lebanon in 2000 Hezbolah started to prepare for future confrontation, while keeping the border on low burner with occasional rockets into civilian population. To justify this new status quo an originally Syrian region called the "Shebaa farms" ("mount Dov" on Israeli maps) was declared the yet to be liberated Lebanese territory. As of today, driving Israel out of Lebanon is but the last step on the road to the true goal of the organization: extending the reach of the Iranian regime to the shores of the Mediterranean sea. Meanwhile confrontation with Israel serves Iran well on it's way to the bigger prize. A prize which can in turn serve Iran as a perfect starting point to deliver on Ahmadi-Nejad's promise: the end of what he likes to call "Zionist regime" – Israel.

It is obvious that in the current war in Lebanon Hezbolah will not be destroyed. As to victory, both Israel and Hezbolah are likely to claim it in the end, and both are likely to be wrong. Hezbolah already lost much in men, weapons, real estate e.t.c.. They have also already used up most of their “surprises” prepared for many years, most important of which is the illusion of many in Israel that Hezbolah no longer poses a serious threat. The price of failure of Israeli intelligence with respect to secret bunkers in south Lebanon, secret weapon smuggling routs, Chinese and Russian anti-ship and anti-tank missiles is high but is already paid up. Moreover, this war caused Israeli population and Knesset unite to an unprecedented degree – a very positive development in light of recent rim in the society. On it's part, Israel is not going to gain anything worth the loses. International force, if it enters south Lebanon, is likely to be as useless as the UNIFIL soldiers are today. Hezbolah will stay around in civilian clothes. The threat of missiles will remain as potent as ever: longer range rockets can easily hit Israeli cities even from beyond Litany river, and they regularly will. The kidnapped soldiers will not be returned, forcing Israel to engage in secret negotiations for their return – and for a big price. Most importantly, Hezbolah, the underdog, will have a claim at not being broken by the strongest army in the middle east. The perception of IDF and IAF strength, being even more important then their actual strength in keeping Israel's enemies from charging the borders today, will be damaged. That perception is one hell of a thing to build up, and very easy to loose. Finally, the Lebanon is going to enjoy wide international financial support in rebuilding. Israel will stand alone in rebuilding it's wounded northern cities.

The unlimited resources at Hezbolah's disposal, men and money (including Iran's oil money and Hezbolah's money making machine in South Africa, South America, Lebanon, e.t.c) will not be easily depleted. We must conclude then that destruction of Hezbolah, executed as a separate task, removed from the realities of the Bigger Picture is not only impossible, but more importantly absolutely irrelevant. Such forces such as Syrian Bashar Assad, Iranian Ayatollahs, Al-Kaeda, Hizbalah, and many many others can not be defeated unless we recognize them as part of the same machine. Ignorance of this fact is the main cause of USA's inability to stabilize Afghanistan or Iraq, Israel's failure with Hezbolah in Lebanon, and Fatah and Hamas in Israel itself, or Egypt's failure with Al-Kaeda in Sinai peninsula, and many others. Achieving success in just one of those places is similar to fencing out portion of an ocean. Until the world leaders start thinking big instead of only in terms of their own keep, something that requires a great deal of honesty and courage, the wars will continue, drawing us into an ever bleaker future. There can be no half-hearted victory.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Hezbollah and it's new-found friends

I have been censored here: http://pvanhoof.be/blog/ and it's been an honor. The reasons given: I am "writing six-page opinions", "post 3 comments in a row" (it was a comment and 1 short clarification) and "starting a fight". I am really surprised and disgusted by the behavior of the blog owner, especially given the fact that he is considering himself a proponent of freedom. Apparently, not as in "speech".

The answer was in response to a commenter named "raphael" who claimed things like "Hezbollah cannot be defeated", "Israel is killing way too many civilians" and "talks are the only way to peace".

...

Israel is only targeting military-purpose constructions (infrustructure, weapons, e.t.c). Civilians die because Hezbollah - just like Hamas and Fatah before them - is using civilian population as a human shield. Have you ever heard of multi-apartment buildings in which the entire upper floor is dedicated to a missile launching stations? If people choose to live in those buildings it means that they approve of Hezbollah actions, and people that don't evacuate the buildings even after all this started cannot be even called civilians because they put themselves in harms way on purpose. In the same way Hezbollah are keeping their weapon stockpiles inside civilian houses, in the basements or bunkers beneath. Same story. Just recently I read on a blog of some journalist that stays in Beirut in a hotel full of journalists how one morning he woke up and discovered a rocket launcher in the hotel's parking lot. Interesting, isn't it? Now if Israel chooses to destroy it, bunch of journalists will start reporting "the atrocities they witnessed". And if Israel doesn't, well then, they can start launching rockets at Haifa. I am also interested to know where is Beirut's law enforcement in all of this. Don't you think they should be responsible for not having a frackin' rocket launcher in the middle of the city?! Apparently not. Finally, I will not be surprised if not all the civilians reported as killed are in fact, ahem, civilians. Have you noticed any reports about Hezbollah-proper casualties? One here, two there. After all this time? I don't think so. Reported numbers are definitely funny, and there is no way to verify them.

Now to possibility of defeating Hezbollah. War is an unpredictable thing. You cannot say "we can't win" because nobody can. You try to depict Hezbollah as some sort of Borg or Terminator III, and in the same breath of air say "so lets let them advance their cube of death on earth because there is nothing we can do. Instead, let's negotiate with Borg about how they are not going to assimilate us". Not going to happen. Hezbollah is created to fight and destroy (with help from other countries I suppose) the state of Israel. Not drive it out of Lebanon (Israel been out for 6 years now). There is nothing to talk with them about. Finally, I hope you are not suggesting that the entire Lebanese population supports Hezbollah, or even have inclination to. Besides, nobody is trying to kill all their supporters, just the Hezbollah proper. So, enough with the exaggerations.

Also funny you should mention Syria, since they are not even the first problem. The problem is that Israel is fighting Iranian revolutionary guard in Lebanon and gets hit by Iranian rockets. That same Iran who's president calls for destruction of Israel on every occasion. Do you want Israel to negotiate with his people maybe? I am sure any first bullet point in an agreeable document will be "... and the Zionist entity is no more".

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Outsourcing myself

A post on a different blog, by your's truly. Go and read. I am as facinating as always :)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Honey... Am I Home?

Recently a fellow blogger Irina talked about her experiences of visiting Israel. Even though it is her first visit she talks about amazing feeling of returning home, one that cannot be matched by any other place in the world, for there can only be one home. I was surprised to hear this because I myself always had the same, very unambiguous feeling about Israel, but always though it was just my imagination or a consequence of growing up in Israel. Of course, I had this feeling even when I just came to live there, so I guess you caught me. Now not only I hear the same sentiment from someone else (not for the first time too) but turns out many readers of Irina's blog had the exact same feeling. I am amazed. What's going on here? Does it works the same way for all Jews? Only Jews? What is the reason? Genetic memory? Some sort of collective magnetic field created by the people who live there? I know that whenever I am in a large Jewish crowd, even in United States, I get a glimpse of that feeling again.

Something is going on, but that is not the subject of this post. Instead I want to pose a simple question to all the people who feel the same way, and in particular to Irina's readers since they already expressed their opinion, and of course to myself. If you are so in awe of the land, if it is such a great experience to even visit there for a short while, let alone for a long while... What are you all doing in diaspora? Seriously, what? Is it money? Is it comfort? Is it security? Is it "I will get there eventually, just give me 2.. no 10... no 20 years" ? If it is Home, how can you live away from it? Who are you kidding? Remember, today you can go ahead and feel all you want at home in Israel for one reason only: some people are already living there, and making it feel home for you. But if they fail, if they fail because so many of us chose to be guests in our own home, we will loose it. This time maybe forever.

Who's Prime-Minister is this?

Apperently, Ehud Olmert considers "zionism" a bad word, and forgets which side he should be negotiating for:

"There are no zionist considerations behind this, as you claim. On my part this is a fair, real desire to give a lot and recieve very little in return"*

*note: this is a translation from russian which is a translation from english. I couldn't find the english original.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Israelis want disengagement / consolidation?

Latest poll done by Haaretz-dialoge shows that the absolute majority is against the consolidation plan. Namely, 56% are against and only 37% are in favor. Yes, statistics are lies, and dynamics change. But it is a known fact that in Israel poll results are biased in direction of the left and lately of Kadima and disengagement. Mr. Shimon Peres is a good example of this effect: he always wins all the polls and always looses all the elections. So I would say that the conclusion that can be made from this poll is that as of today at least 56% and at most 37% are against and in favor respectively. This, my dear readers, is called "a crushing defeat".

Monday, May 15, 2006

Theory of modular politics

Software world and politics have many parallels, but one in particular is of great educational capacity. In software there is a concept of platform, and of a plug-in. For example, any operating system, like Windows or Linux, is a platform. So is Internet. Other programs can be considered platforms in a more narrow sense - for example Photoshop is image manipulation platform. Biology, surprisingly, also works the same way. In every tissue there are so called HK (house keeping) genes, and TS (tissue specific) genes. HKs are a platform, and TS are modules specific for every tissue (or several). What makes Photoshop or HK genes a platform are two things:

1. Breadth of coverage: they provide all the necessary basics for performing set of "house keeping" tasks. For example, operating system talks to hardware, manages memory, communication over network, security, e.t.c.

2. Depth extensibility: they allow easy plugging of additional components that are designed to help perform very specific tasks. In operating systems world this means applications, in photoshop - special effects plug-ins.

This second part, and it's design, are very important. Every user wants something different from the system, and those interests overlap in some parts, and don't overlap in others. If one was to take the union (in Venn diagram sense) of those interests and try to integrate them all into a platform it would quickly become apparent that the system is capable of much more then any single user needs. This comes at a price: the system becomes much more difficult to manage and use. Another reason this is important is that no single group can hope to unite everyone to work on the same project - the platform, because people's priorities and agendas are too different, and so we naturally tend to modularize our efforts.

This is how all this relates to politics. A ruling party can be looked upon as a platform. It provides the breadth coverage of all basic ideas of how to manage a state. In dictatorial regimes the ruling party is also integrated with all it's modules. In a democracy there is a possibility of appearance of modularization: smaller parties that defend specific agendas but only marginally step on each other's turf. Those parties form the ecosystem of the platform: the ruling party. If two small parties try to address similar problems in dramatically different ways they are usually flocking to different platforms. This ecosystem is absolutely essential and without it the platform becomes irrelevant. Party that alienates it's ecosystem by attempting to build modular functionality into it's own core is going to loose on two fronts: it will become harder to manage, will be teared by internal conflicts, and will confuse voters as to what the agenda is, loosing those who do not support the new agenda in it's entirety. But most importantly the alienated ecosystem will go to a different platform, or unite around brand new one, taking all the alienated voters with them. In essence, attempt to integrate ecosystem makes the platform less, not more attractive for voters.

This is a crucial point, contradicting the idea that ruling party needs to be as big as possible and have a say on every issue. The opposite is true: the best platform is party that represents the smallest common denominator of a given cluster of ideas.

Lets take a look at a recent example in Israeli politics. In previous elections Shinui positioned themselves as a cross-platform modular party. The reason for the rise of Shinui was specificity and unambiguousness of their agenda. One of the reasons for their subsequent downfall was their ambition to become a platform party while still carrying most of the properties of a module. The voters were confused and left.

There are two platforms in Israel: Avoda and Likud. Each has an ecosystem of parties that support them. Compared to Likud, Avoda has a small ecosystem because they keep cannibalizing it, integrating every successful party that appears on horizon into Avoda itself. Meretz, the lone holdout, is the only hope for Avoda to ever come to power. If they ever integrate Meretz into Avoda it will be the end of both parties. In fact, the perceived weakness of the right wing camp, multiplicity of parties, is also their biggest advantage - unrecognized and unleveraged.

Kadima, the new platform in town, suffers from near absolute absence of ecosystem. Their only true ally is Gil party, but Gil is a fashion party, and like any fashion will soon go away (that said, the reason for their rise is, again, narrow agenda). After beating every other party in the elections they got a chance to create their own ecosystem by stealing it from Avoda and Likud. But greed for power closed their minds to reason, and instead they did the unthinkable: they accepted another platform into their ecosystem. This is the equivalent of running Linux inside Windows, or, if you will, using house keeping genes for tissue specific tasks. Those misused genes will keep trying to step on the turf of house keeping, until eventually something will break because 2nd task is unmanaged and first uncoordinated. In other words, Avoda will try to act as the ruling party, eventually bringing the coalition down, and all the mismanaged ministries into stupor. It is, well, in their genes. The future of Kadima is bleak. They will not be able to form loyal ecosystem because there is nothing to form it around.

The optimal political system is one of competing platforms, each pestering their own ecosystem of satellite parties. The most important point here is that a platform party and module party have very different purpose and architecture. One can't just grow or shrink one into another. Winning platform will be the one with the best ecosystem. That means making a right decision about what not to include in the platform. It also means creating interfaces for coordination with modular parties: a plug-and-play architecture. Public statements like "we are delegating task X to a satellite party that is designed specifically for X and proves it has the public support in the elections" can go a long way. In fact, this opens the door for true technocratic governments where every party specializes in specific areas, and fights for specific ministries. For example, party with military expertise can fight for ministry of defense, and one filled with businessmen for the ministry of trade. In addition to cases mentioned above there are many examples how public claims for specific office bring a lot of popular vote: it happened with IBA when they claimed ministry of internal affairs (the famous "MVD pod nash control"), and recently with Lieberman who proclaimed he fights for ministry of internal security. Finally, such plug-and-play architecture (and it's fair and consistent use) can create a lot of confidence in a satellite parties that the platform is not going to monopolize them away, and hence grow the ecosystem to be very large, diverse, and competitive. This will in turn up the quality of the parties and give voters more flexible choice. Such a platform will inevitably carry the elections, essentially turning them into battle of ecosystems instead of battle of fat men with 5 funny arms.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Trends in Israeli news sources

There is a new service from google, called "Trends". It allows you to compare frequencies of searches for different things on the internet. So, I thought it would be an interesting idea to compare israeli online news media. Lets take a look:



Legend: Blue: haaretz, red: maariv, orange: a7 (I didn't pick it, I promise!), green: jerusalem post, violet: ynet.

Notice how the a7, the right wing portal of the seventh channel radio in israel, beats or on par with any other news source except the very popular ynet. However, if we take a look at region distribution we see that in israel itself a7 is merely a blip on a radar - not unread, but not a significant presence either. Conclusion: it's popularity comes from the overseas. Indeed, in several countries, like (surprise) France, Germany, Italy e.t.c it is much more popular then any other news source. In germany in particular it's popularity is overwhelming. One would think that since a7 has a russian version of their portal, and germany is filled with russian jews, that has to be the reason. However, google claims that the queries were made in german and dutch. How is a7 in german? Hm... can this be attributed to ambiguity of a7 query? I wouldn't rush to this conclusion, since google is very good at guessing what you mean (trust me, I know the algorithm, and saw the stats). The mystery however, remains.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Popularity contest: round 1

On Facebook.com, website were all the students hang out, there are some interesting statistics on student's preferences. Here is one of them: nationwide preference in books among students:

1. The Da Vinci Code
2. Harry Potter
3. The Bible
4. Catcher in the Rye
5. Angels and Demons
6. To Kill a Mockingbird
7. The Great Gatsby
8. 1984
9. Lord of the Rings
10. Pride and Prejudice

Hm... Da Vinci Code and Harry Potter giving the Bible a run for it's money. Interesting days we live in.

Overall not such a bad choice of books. Of course, only students that actually read books pitched in on this survey.

Friday, May 05, 2006

It's the intentions, stupid

The new Israeli government has signed in. How does it look?

First, we have 25 ministers, and no deputy ministers. With 66 coalition members (yes, *that* number) there are 2 ministers per every 5 people. Olmert says the government is not too big because there are no deputy ministers, but it doesn't takes much to remember that before Barak changed the law it stated that there can be no more then *18* ministers. That is in a country with 7 million people. US government is quite content with 14 ministers serving 300 million people, thank you very much. Expenses aside, it does not even matter what is the size of the government as long as there is solid logic behind every ministry. Is there? Lets see...

1) Ehud Olmert - Minister of Social Welfare
Yes, he is that too, in addition to being prime minister. Just in case anyone forgets who is the champion of the poor. Be careful Mr. Olmert. Instead, people might blame you for a thing or two. Like prices going up on bread, for example.

2) Shimon Peres - Minister for the Development of the Negev and Galillee
Mr. Peres needed a ministry, doesn't matter what it is. So, let there be ministry of development of negev and galillee. Why not? Maybe next American president Mrs. Clinton can make the first man of the state, Mr. Bill Clinton, secretary of development of Alaska.

3) Yitzhak Cohen - Minister (responsible for the religious councils)
I hope Mr. Cohen is a responsible man. If he proves himself, maybe next time we can merge his ministry with the one responsible for chess clubs.

4) Rafi Eitan - Minister (responsible for pensioners)
When an entire age group gets it's own minister, something *must* be wrong with the country. What about minister responsible for students? Minister responsible for married couples with only daughters? Minister responsible for housewives? Unfortunately, the only ministry for which Mr. Eitan *is* qualified for is ministry of millionaires.

5) Ya'akov Edery - Minister, responsible for liaison with the Knesset
In a Knesset where every 2.6-th member of coalition is a minister, and every minister is a member of Knesset, this must be a very important role. Can I say "minister responsible for ministers" ?

6) Meshulam Nahari - Minister without Portfolio
apparently, this is the "non responsible minister". He has no responsibilities. None whatsoever. He just is. Like the weather.

7) Eitan Cabel - Minister (responsible for the Israel Broadcasting Authority)
This is actually a very important ministry, just the name is wrong. They used to call it much more intuitively: "Minister of Propaganda". But we will know that things got really bad when the name changes to "Israel Broadcasting, Multicasting, Unicasting, and Receiving Authority". (broadcasting = 1 to all, multicasting = 1 to many, unicasting = 1 to 1).

Until the next time,
Minister of Offence

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Emergency product placement

CNN: "trapped miners got food, water, and iPods".

Can somebody tell me why they need food and water? Couldn't authorities just get them couple of DELL laptops with WiFi, so they could order in?

Russian Knesset

I thought it will be interesting to how is the Russian-speaking community in Israel is represented in politics. Although this is by no means a definitive measure, taking a look at Knesset members might give us a clue. Let see. The first year and the city are the year and city of birth. The second year is the year of aliyah. There are 12 people:

_____________________________________
Kadima:

Zeev Elkin (Kharkov 1971, 1990)
Marina Solodkina (Moscow 1952, 1991)
Michael Nudelman (Kiev 1938, 1991)

_____________________________________
Likud:

Natan Sharansky (Moscow 1948, 1986)

_____________________________________
Israel Beitainu (Israel Our Home):

Avigdor Liberman (Kishinev 1958, 1978)
Robert Ilatov (Andizhan 1971, 1985)
Sofa Landver (? 1949, 1979)
Alex Miller (Moscow 1977, 1992)
Stas Misezhnikov (Moscow 1969, 1982)
Yosef Shagal (Baku 1949, 1990)
Yuri Shtern (Moscow 1949, 1981)

_____________________________________
Meretz

Zahava Gal-On (? 1956, 1960)

---

What can we learn from this list? First, that Russian-speaking Israelis are underrepresented: only 12 members, even if one counts Zahava Gal-On, who is hardly in touch with her russian self. The reason is that many Russians vote for not Russian candidates. While this is definitely a good thing, the underrepresentation would never have happened if non-Russian voters voted to the same extent for the Russian candidates. And that is not such a good thing.

Second thing to notice is that Moscow is over-represented. Why is that?

Third, is that russian street is not represented in Avoda (Labor) at all. Can it be the influence of Peretz? Or that Kadima and Israel Beiteiny sucked all the russians out of the system? Is it because they know russian street won't vote Avoda even if you bring back Sofa Landver and put her in charge?

Finally, the big and most recent alia of 90's is severely underrepresented - only 5 out of 12 members. It is interesting that 3 out of 5 are members of Kadima - beating even Israel Beiteinu. Moreover, Kadima's list was hand-picked by Olmert - which means those 3 people didn't go through the usual scrutiny of internal elections. They are riding the popularity of the party itself. One of the remaining two - Alex Miller - is representative of Israel Beiteinu's youth, and simply had to be from the alia of 90's if he were to be born outside of Israel and be young both at the same time.
What does it say about alia of 90's, to which, by the way, I also belong? Is it that the older Russian Israelis are not letting the newer Russian Israelis into politics? Is it that the new ones are not interested in politics? Is it because they are simply not popular enough? I don't know, but if you do, pray say.

Separated at birth?


Israeli left wing politician Yossi Beilin


Russian comic Yevgeni Petrosian.

Now I know why every time I hear Beilin speak I feel like laughing, and every time I see Petrosian I loose my sense of humor.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

True to their principles?

Hamas is ready to negotiate with terrorists

"if you are willing to accept the principle of a long-term truce, we are prepared to negotiate the terms. Hamas is extending a hand of peace to those who are really interested in peace based on justice."

even after Hezbollah has set the record straight...

"Instead of labeling us terrorist groups..the US should label (US president) George Bush and his aides as terrorists"

Can Hezbollah say 'hypocrites' to Hamas?

Friday, April 28, 2006

Weeee!

This is just so funny...



By the way, Firefox is here.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Quote of the day: Neturei Karta

From an interview of neturie karta rabbi with an iranian newspaper:

"Dr. Majid Goudarzi: Would you like to be eliminated the Israelian government or not?

Rabbi Cohen: Would I not... pardon?

Dr. Majid Goudarzi: Would you like to be eliminated?"

What I think Dr. Goudarzi meant to say was "Would you like the Israelian (sic) government to be eliminated or not?" but his poor english prevented him from delivering his meaning to the rabbi (probably because this is the more natural sentence structure in farci). What heppened next would make Freud proud.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Art of Naming

I am wondering, why "Computer Science" ? It makes sense to be a "software engineer" (you engineer = write software) or "computer engineer" (you engineer = design computer hardware), but what does computer science mean? Science that explores computers? But computers are artificial creations, you don't explore them, you design, build, program, and use them. After all, nobody calls biology "microscope science", astronomy "telescope science", or physics "particle accelerator science". It's just silly. Not to mention that computers are no longer the only devices around that perform computation. I think the neatest thing would be simply call your science "science", but, damn, mathematicians already got away with it (mathematics is "science" in Greek) and will fight for the turf.

So, what are we, the bastard children of mathematics to do? The name is incorrect to the point of hordes of casual computer users being tricked into thinking that a "computer scientist" should know something about computers. Not so. What computer science studies is computation. As a result, we get chased around by people with broken computers, people with broken computers get upset because nothing gets fixed, and all this while people that should be doing the fixing are hiding behind some obscure "software developer in test" title.

Should "computing science" be used instead? Not really, since mathematicians are no less involved in the study of computation. The difference is that if mathematicians study the mountain, computer scientists study how to climb it, and then sometimes climb it, just to prove the point in practice (to extend the metaphor, programmers are "professional mountain climbers" who mostly climb on charted territory).

My personal favorites would be "Algorithm Science" or "Dynamic Mathematics". But then again, who is asking me?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

It's getting better

Abramovich still has 18,3 billion $$$. That's not much, but it is only the clean part of the money. So, don't judge. It's not easy to be a billioner. It's not easy to be the richest Russian with a name like Abramovich either.

Forbes has published the list of 100 richest Russians. The cumulative this year is by 107 Billion $$$ more then the last. That's a juicy 75% growth from last year's 141, up to 248 Billion for anybody who is counting. The most successful #2 in the list made a wooping 8.6 Billion $$$ in just one year, increasing his fortune by more the 200%. Like #1, he is first and foremost in the oil business. The list also features 14 brand new Billioners (20 new names in total), up from last year's 30 - 46% more happy people, totaling 44.

Now, I am not the one to look in someone else's pocket. But I have to ask. What about the people in the government? Personally, I would really like to know how much is Putin worth. Because methinks, he could give this list a boost. I would also like to know how much money is really in those people's pockets. Finally, I would like to know how does one makes so much money so fast in a country that claims to have capitalistic economy and an average salary of 1200$ a year?

At least, for some people it is getting better.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Amazing World of Windows

I am not a big fan of Windows and nowadays Linux is my fancy. The last time I used Mac was about 10 years ago. So, obviously, I am pretty biased in this regard, even though I think justifiably so. Yesterday I was very amused to find an interesting discussion on the web about the benefits of Windows. It all started from a user of Mac who never used Windows before (people like that exist it turns out) being excited about a new program created by Apple called Boot Camp. Boot Camp allows to dual boot OSX and Windows on Macintosh computer (dual boot means being able to choose between working in Windows or OSX when computer starts). This guy finaly got a chance to try Windows without having to buy a new computer to do it, and wanted to know what new exciting applications will become available to him in the Windows world. The question was asked on slashdot.org, which means he was answered by a very big and very technical crowd. What did people came up with? Here is grouping of different types of answers:

1. Games
2. Antivirus e.t.c applications (this is not exciting, this is the grim reality of a Windows user)
3. Applications that came from or are available on Mac (iTunes, Photoshop ...)
4. Applications that came from Linux
5. Games

That's it. Obviously, there are crucial things that are not available on Mac that are not mentioned here. But almost all of them are professional applications, like Visual Studio. Non-professionals don't care about them. So, I guess, games then. Makes it much more clear why Microsoft is ready to loose billions (and it does) in a war with Sony's PlayStation. PlayStation is not using Windows (PlayStation 3 uses Linux) and in effect takes away the last reason for the casual user to ever touch Windows computer.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

21

My 21st year in the prison is getting near, and unless a miracle happens, here is what awaits me during the week of Hag Herut:

* Hunger
* Overheating
* Slave labor
* Loneliness and depression
* Sickness
* Betrayal

Hunger:

In the prison, during Pessah, there is constant lack of food, and so my hunger is my constant companion. This year will be worse, because kosher for Pessah food that could be bought in prison's stall is stolen by other prisoners. So, now I can't imagine what will happen.

Overheating:

This is a name for all sort of sicknesses that appear as a consequence of constantly staying in overheated premises. Although nowadays the temperature in North Carolina is warn, the prison keeps heating the section in which I live. The section turned into a warm sauna, and my cell - into a pressure cooker.

Slave labor:

I won't have Seder Pessah. I won't have matza. I won't have wine. I won't be sitting, leaning my elbows. Like any other week, during the entire week of Pessah I will be cleaning windows and bathrooms. It is nothing personal. I am just a symbol of Jewish nation.

Loneliness and depression:

Completely alone. No family. No friends. No meetings. I am very worried about my beloved wife Ester, who is now in Jerusalem fighting for my freedom, despite her broken health, absence of money, and absolutely no support from the government of Israel. I miss her more then one can describe in words. My heart tears into shreds with the thought that again we will be spending this celebration of freedom as prisoners.

Sickness:

21 years of constant asperity in extremely hard prison conditions have destroyed my immune system. My blood pressure maxes out measurement devices. I have high cholesterol, chronic rheumatic arthritis, symptoms of approaching glaucoma, brutal cholecystitis attacks, chronic sinusitis, that is often accompanied by nose bleeding, head spinning, nausea, and blinding headaches. Additional stress in a form of lack of food and Pessah asperities will only make the matters worse.

Betrayal:

My service for Israel wasn't for some political party, or a specific leader. I came forward for the welfare of the people. I never asked for thanks or medals. But even in my worst nightmare I couldn't imagine that my people will care so little about fulfillment of commandment of "pidion shvuim", and that they will raise to the heights of power the same man who betrayed me 21 years ago. Instead of an outcry to bring me back home in time for Pessah, my people voted for Rafi Eitan, my ex-commander, to be a member of Knesset.

While I am rotting in prison, Eitan is celebrating his victory. That man not only did not provide me with a plan of escape, he came up with the idea to throw me out of the embassy, then falsely testified against me, and then didn't move his finger for 21 years to help me. Worse, for the past 21 years Eitan is sitting on the only copy of a document of supreme importance that could be the key in negotiations about my release. Election of Rafi Eitan is unpleasant for Americans, and I am paying for that with my life.

Don't rely on miracles

Our tradition teaches us not to rest our hopes on miracles. It says that we need to do "hishtadlut", do our best, and the God will do the rest. This message is my "hishtadlut". It is my last outcry from my very heart, from the depth of my soul (min ha amakim), from the depth of desperation (min ha meitzar), a cry from hell tearing apart the insides and shaking the ground, an outcry of heart directed to my brothers and sisters, the entire House of Israel.

For the past 21 years I am bleeding to death in front of the eyes of all the people of Israel. For the past 21 years my cries for help fall on death ears. If, God forbid, time will run out, nothing will pay for this sin of indifferently standing on the blood of a brother.

Hear Israel! Our God! One God! It is time to make teshuva. It is time to repent. It is time for the entire House of Israel to unite in the name of fulfilling one commandment: pidion shvuim, the returning of the imprisoned! Time to act! Time to pray! Time to use the influence! Time to demand!

Only with the unity of Israel we can show the creator of universe that the people of Israel will not be silent any more, will not stand indifferently on the blood of a brother. Through saving one single prisoner the entire nation of Israel can save and reborn itself.

Celebration of freedom is nearing by. The nation should not wait! With the help of God the salvation can come in a blink of an eye! Let this Pessah be the Pessah of our salvation - collective and personal - and let this Pessah bring the miracle of salvation to all Jewish prisoners. Amen!

Jonathan Pollard,
April 2006

Translated by Yury Puzis from Russian version. All errors are the responsibility of translator. This translation is not official.

This letter was recently published in Israeli newspapers. On April 10 Ester Pollard was interviewed by Israeli Channel 2 on TV. Ester said that she just received information from a high-ranking American source that President Bush is seriously considering freeing Pollard right now, in time for Seder Pessah. However, President Bush is reluctant to sign the pardon without official request from the government of Israel. No government of Israel has ever made such a request.

Ester is urging people to contact the office of Ehud Olmert and demand that such an official request be urgently made. This appeal is to you, my dear reader.

There are people in Israel that will try to jeopardize this unique opportunity. One of them is Rafi Eitan, the leader of the Pensioners party. Right now he is sitting in Olmert's office, getting ready to become a minister.

Please, mention this on your blog, and consider contacting Ehud Olmert yourself.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Price of 1 vote: Part 2

In the previous post I talked about the effect of the soldier's vote on the right-wing parties in Israel. And what about the left? Before the vote left parties were numbering 59 seats, 2 short of critical 61, a blocking number in a 120 seats Knesset. After the votes were counted Kadima and Meretz gained one seat each, turning the power into the hands of the left parties. At the same time one of Arab parties lost 1 seat, getting the Arab total down to 9. However, it turns out that one of the Arab parties claims there was an error in count, and a small number of it's votes went to Herut. The issue is still under consideration, but if it turns out to be true, Arabs will take one seat from... Avoda. This will bring the total left-wing seats to 60, costing left-wing parties the short-lived dominance.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Price of 1 vote

I think people learned from the 2000 US presidential elections and the Florida incident that every vote counts. Recent elections in Israel provided one more prove to that effect.

Before the voting of soldiers was taken into account Likud had 11 seats and Israel Our Home 12 seats. As a consequence It because 4th largest party in Knesset, and potentially the largest party in opposition. Which is actually a big deal, because the opposition leader has special privileges, and special status according to law, and is the one expected to run for prime minister in the next elections.

Parties by size before soldiers voted:

Kadima
Avoda
Shas
Israel Our Home
Likud

It was not meant to be. After soldier's votes have been accounted for, it turned out that Israel Our Home has exactly 220 votes less then Likud. As a consequence 1 of their seats went to Likud, getting their total down to 11, and getting Likud up to 12. Now Likud is the 3 largest party, as the ex-3rd largest party Shas also lost one seat and came down to 12 from 13.

Parties by size after soldiers voted:

Kadima
Avoda
Shas, Likud
Israel Our Home

That's not all however. The person who got so lucky and got the 12th seat from Likud is Israel Katz. Israel Katz belongs to group of internal opposition to Netaniahu, also featuring Silvan Shalom, Limor Livnat and Dani Nave. In Israel there is a law that a party has officially split if at least 1/3 of it's members leave it to create a new parliamentary block. Without Katz the opposition was 3/11 which is less then 1/3. With him it is 4/12 which is exactly 1/3. Which means that those 220 votes gave Shalom & co. the power to threaten Netaniahu with splitting up the party (again). Or actually do it.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Back to the future

And the second elections in Israel are over, we get a terrorist attack. Hamas is back, now that it's favorite candidate has won the Israeli elections, and it's safe to kill again. In other news, new rocket lunchers are developed in Gaza. They will reach as far as Ashdod.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Can we still ship a ship?

Microsoft can't ship a new operating system since 2001. NASA can't lunch a ship since 2003 (and can't land one for even longer). That's 3 years for anyone who is counting. What's next? US government unable to reorganize homeland security since 2001? Oh wait...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Quote of the day 2

Tom Maurstad on "V for Vendetta": "it was better the first time around, when it was called The Matrix".

Quote of the day

Kadima's official, on his party's failure to convince the russian-speaking voters to support Kadima: "A little too late we understood that the approach for Russian speakers must be rational"

Monday, March 27, 2006

Other World

Yesterday I went to Indian Festival in Fort Lauderdale, and had a chance to converse with an interesting Indian. He was dressed in traditional Indian outfit, with different symbols from the Hindu religion. For anyone not familiar with Hinduism seeing this dress could come as a shock. There were 3 most prominent symbols drawn on the surface of his outfit: the "OM" symbol, a six-edged star (Star of David in Judaism) and the Swastika. Although I knew about the origin of those symbols, it still felt very strange to see swastika neighboring star of David on Hindu dress. A reminder of how fast people twist the world around us into it's complete opposite, and how quickly we (especially the Europeans / Americans) forget our history.
Another thing that surprised me, if not in content (because I already knew about this) then in delivery was his mention of Christ. Leaving no room for doubt, as if we were speaking of a widely known and non-disputed fact he informed me that Christ spent a dozen years of his life in India (starting from age 13, point after which Bible is skipping right to his 30s), and that he died in India, returning there after crucifixion.
There was also another thing he mentioned, one that really took me by surprise. Religion, he said, was European invention. Before Europeans came to India and explained to everyone that they are religious, and are practicing this or that religion, the concept itself did not exist in that society. There was no religion, and one couldn't be religious, atheist, or agnostic. There was simply a way of life. One or another. That's it. And now that I think of it, the concept does seems very artificial. Nations that today preach religious tolerance are partly responsible for creating the need for it in the first place. How ironic is that.
Just a small chat with someone raised in a different culture, and the world stands on it's head, and truth, whatever it is, is banging on the door.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Magician
I'm not telling your actual score. Hmph!
The Magician is free and full of energety. Magicians like to entertain. They like to change things. They seem driven by some invisible force. Things that never change quickly become boring to them, as they live fast-paced lives. They are very creative and able; many successful people are Magicians. Magicians, as the name implies, are often very talented and capable of performing feats that seem impossible. Although they are very artistic, they aren't usually introspective or philosophical. Magicians prefer to live in the minute. Although they really like people and even devote a portion of themselves to the world, they need their space. You can't corner a magician. He'll disappear in a puff of smoke.



The Magician's complement is the kind and generous King.



My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 60% on Confidence
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 81% on Creativity
Link: The Medieval Archetype Test written by isayso on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

State of Affairs

Lets talk about today's geopolitical landscape, and trends. There are several important things happening today, that will have far-reaching consequences in the future, and it is important to understand them. This post is not so much my own conclusions, as it is a digest of several analytical articles.

Retreat on Hamas Front
First, there is the Hamas victory in Palestinian general elections. The trends that will set the course of events for the next few years are evident already. Hamas was able to bring 88 parliamentarians under their flag (more then two thirds), and immediately took away from Abbas ability to block parliament's decisions. The rule in PA is now parliamentary (belongs to Hamas), and not presidential (belongs to Fatah). All western powers dealing with Hamas - Israel, US, EU, Russia showed submission, are on retreat, and talk in split tongue. Israel gave Hamas ~45 million dollars. US government cannot give Hamas money, but cheered EU's decision to do just that. Finally, Russia invited Hamas to Kremlin. Despite popular belief, this is not going to hurt Russia. On the contrary, they are setting the stage for EU and US future talks with Hamas, quite possibly with EU and US blessing. This will result in further submissions and pressure on Israel to cave in to more demands. Hamas will try to remain "a good international citizen" while this retreat continues, getting ready to start a war the second it stops. The biggest threat to Hamas is, surprisingly, coming from Al Qaida which recently started pressuring Hamas to turn Gaza, and then West Bunk into Taliban-style state. Given Hamas's Muslim roots, it will be very hard for them to balance between being a good international citizen, and not upsetting their own supporters or provoking Al Qaida retaliation against them.

Retreat on Iraq Front
Whether or not going into Iraq was a good idea, Bush's handling of subsequent war in Iraq, that developed between Suni militia, Iranian agents and Zarkawis Al Qaida on one side, and US, British, and Iraqi regular army on another, is a failure. US army, despite winning nearly all battles it fought, is loosing the war. Despite having unlimited financial and (Iraqi) human resources, is failing to create a fight-worthy regular army of Iraq. High rate of desertions, Al Qaida infiltration, poor training are making Iraqi army a useless body of firearms bearers. The second coalition forces retreat from Iraq this army will face impossible odds and either crumble or will be completely taken over by Al Qaida. And retreat is exactly what US and British forces are starting to do. By 2007/8 Iraq will be free of western armies, and split, if not in name then in practice, into 3 entities: Kurds under US influence in north, Sunis + Al Qaida on West, Shiits under Iranian influence in South. 2 out of 3 parts of Iraq (excluding the Kurds) will become terrorist states. Oil production will soar, as different forces will start cashing in on their new-found fortune. US's credibility among the common men in the middle east, shaken after the early 90's retreat, will be shattered. Next time US will need local cooperation in the region they will face a huge problem of mistrust.

Israeli Elections
Kadima led by Olmert will win the elections. The threat to Olmert's rule will come from within. Kadima is made up of people that united around a specific man and a specific idea. The man, Ariel Sharon, is now on his death bed, and idea, unilateral disengagement, is becoming more and more controversial, now that the Hamas has won the elections in PA. Already there are two camps forming in Kadima around this issue. Which means simple thing really - the government will be heavily influenced by the second biggest party in coalition. I expect the results of nearing general elections to be strongly underwhelming for Kadima, making it even more dependent on other coalition members. In all probability Olmert will choose to go with Avoda and not Likud, since caving in to social demands of Amir Peretz will be less intrusive then caving in to political demands of Netaniahu. Given Mr. Peretz's track record, it is as good as tossing the economy out of the window, in slow motion. The government will not live long (a year or two) but long enough to cause some major strategic and economical damage. Olmert's indecisiveness and lack of clear strategy will become more and more apparent, and Kadima will disappear from political map within several years, torn apart by both inside and outside forces.


And what are your thoughts of the situation?

Monday, March 06, 2006




You Are Italian Food



Comforting yet overwhelming.

People love you, but sometimes you're just too much.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Manifesto against Islamism

Taken from Irina Tsukerman

MANIFESTO: Together facing the new totalitarianism

After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism.

We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.

The recent events, which occurred after the publication of drawings of Muhammed in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values. This struggle will not be won by arms, but in the ideological field. It is not a clash of civilisations nor an antagonism of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.

Like all totalitarianisms, Islamism is nurtured by fears and frustrations. The hate preachers bet on these feelings in order to form battalions destined to impose a liberticidal and unegalitarian world. But we clearly and firmly state: nothing, not even despair, justifies the choice of obscurantism, totalitarianism and hatred. Islamism is a reactionary ideology which kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present. Its success can only lead to a world of domination: man's domination of woman, the Islamists' domination of all the others. To counter this, we must assure universal rights to oppressed or discriminated people.

We reject cultural relativism, which consists in accepting that men and women of Muslim culture should be deprived of the right to equality, freedom and secular values in the name of respect for cultures and traditions. We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of "Islamophobia", an unfortunate concept which confuses criticism of Islam as a religion with stigmatisation of its believers.

We plead for the universality of freedom of expression, so that a critical spirit may be exercised on all continents, against all abuses and all dogmas.

We appeal to democrats and free spirits of all countries that our century should be one of Enlightenment, not of obscurantism.

12 signatures

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Chahla Chafiq
Caroline Fourest
Bernard-Henri Lévy
Irshad Manji
Mehdi Mozaffari
Maryam Namazie
Taslima Nasreen
Salman Rushdie
Antoine Sfeir
Philippe Val
Ibn Warraq


Copy this manifesto, spread the word!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Synagogeu destroyed in Tajikistan

As it says in the headline, on Feb. 26, 2006 a synagogeu was destroyed in Tajikistan. It wasn't simply central, it was the only synagogue in the country. It wasn't an accident or even a terrorist attack. It was destroyed by order of the government. The newspapers are quiet. The world is busy with the Iraqi mosque.

Keep reading here.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Dirty mice


Meet Prof. Hasan Bolkhari, a cultural advisor to the Iranian Education Ministry:

"If you study European history, you will see who was the main power to hoard money and wealth, in the 19th century. In most cases, it is the Jews. Perhaps that was one of the reasons which caused Hitler to begin the anti-Semitic trend, and then the extensive propaganda about the crematoria began... Some of this is true. We do not deny all of it.

Watch Schindler's List. Every Jew was forced to wear a yellow star on his clothing. The Jews were degraded and termed "dirty mice." Tom and Jerry was made in order to change the Europeans' perception of mice. One of terms used was "dirty mice." I'd like to tell you that... It should be noted that mice are very cunning...and dirty.

No ethnic group or people operates in such a clandestine manner as the Jews."


Hasan Bolkhari by the way, holds a Ph.D in Islamic philosophy. However, if you just thought there is probably no big difference between the nazis and the professors of Islamic philosophy, you are gravely mistaken. Nazis never had so much electricity:

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Fisking Hamas

Today Ministry of Offence looks at the charter of the organization now in control of Palestinian Autonomy, deemed to turn State, as decided by president of United States and prime-minister of Israel. The Hamas Charter. The Introduction has the most specific information as to the purpose of the document:

"This is the Charter of the Islamic Resistance (Hamas) which will reveal its face, unveil its identity, state its position, clarify its purpose, discuss its hopes, call for support to its cause and reinforcement, and for joining its ranks. For our struggle against the Jews is extremely wide-ranging and grave..."

Today we will be doing some revealing of our own:

"And if the People of the Scripture had believed, it had been better for them. Some of them are believers; but most of them are evil-doers."

First, the People of the Scripture (notice the capitalization, the Tora evidently commands respect) are Jews of course, not nerds. But maybe nerds need to be careful too. Who knows what the authors were thinking. The interesting thing here is however the "some but not all" sentiment. Does it means that in the eyes of the Allah one can be Jewish and not evil?

"They have incurred anger from their Lord, and wretchedness is laid upon them."

Maybe not. Ok, so sue us. But what's up with the "their" Lord? I thought Muslims are monotheistic? Or maybe they only worship one lord, but don't dispute their plurality? Isn't that polytheism?

"Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors."

There is only one problem. Eleminating predcessors? Never really happened. In fact, arabs pretty much lost every single war they fought. Ever. Does it has anything to do with the fact that...

"The Islamic Resistance Movement draws its guidelines from Islam; derives from it its thinking, interpretations and views about existence, life and humanity; refers back to it for its conduct; and is inspired by it in whatever step it takes."

Maybe building extrimist religion based on the "Art Of War" would be more productive? If they weren't so numerouse, it could mean trouble...

"The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine."

Apperently, Hamas is not a regional organization, but a branch of international network!

"I have created Man and Devil for the purpose of their worship"

What about the women? Was it Jewish god who created them? Or, maybe they mean to say that Woman is the Devil? This is getting interesting...

"The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine has been an Islamic Waqf throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection, no one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it. .... This is the status [of the land] in Islamic Sharia, and it is similar to all lands conquered by Islam by force, and made thereby Waqf lands upon their conquest, for all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection."

And so, any land ever touched by Muslim army belongs to Islam forever. What's that you said about peace... ?

"[Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement. For renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion"

Gotcha!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Cartoon World War: Act 3.

Synopsis: In an unprovoked and unannounced act of cartoon violence Danish government attacks Muslim cleric Muhammad. Following self-restraint period of half a year, Muslim world strikes back with a case of severe cartoon Holocaust denial syndrome. Today Israel is taking the fight back were it belongs.

Once again Ministry of Offence is bringing you exclusive news from the battlefront. Following recently announced Iranian contest for best Holocaust-defying cartoon, Israeli artists decided to take matters into their own hands, and launch a creative counter strike.
In a gravity-defying act of courageous search for the inner peace, proactive self deprecation,, and selfless self promotion, Israeli painter Amitai Sendy jump-started an "anti-Semitic cartoon contest", designed to show the world who hates Jews the most. According to Amitai:


"We thought it would be a much braver thing to do to publish cartoons about ourselves, rather than our adversaries"


In a related act of self deprecation, Danish cartoonists have recently pronounced their support for muslim retatliation against Danish cartoonists, and agreed to publish the best Holocaust-denying cartoons in their newspaper.

President of Iran, Danish cartoonists, were unavailable for comment at the time of publishing of this article. So, to help our readers understand most recent developments our War Experts drafted a map of current offensives:

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The seating torture

Here, at the Ministry of Offence, we are forever committed to holding strong bounds with fellow colleagues. Recently, the Russian minister of defense, Mr. Sergey Ivanov, has been taking a beating on the issue of an obscure Russian soldier Andrei Sichov. We decided to go on an offensive of our own.

The story of private Sichov is an ordinary one, one of many. Got recruited. Did not show promise as a soldier. Consequently was subjected to severe and repeated disciplining by more experienced soldiers. Instead of thanking his comrades, Sichov stubbornly refused to acknowledge his mistakes and developed gidronefroz of left kidney and gangrene in lower part of body. As a consequece both legs and reproductive organs had to be amputated. The private is currently fighting for his alleged life in one of the best hospitals of Russia, thus continuing to fuel a campaign of disinformation and astroturfing against the minister of defense Ivanov. It is time now, to finaly give Ivanov a fighting chance to defend his good name. Ivanov:

"In case of Andrei Sichov, if we can trust preliminary results of an investigation, the reason for the infliction of severe harm to his health became prolonged, compulsory seating"

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Still here

Anti-semitism I mean. Not in some distant land, but in civilized Chicago. Europe is still much worse, but things don't look good right now. And we all know what this keeps leading to over the past two thousand years...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Fruits of "Labor"

Today Israel's party Kadima, in a noble impulse, planted 100 pine trees on government land.
Some might still remember that they promised to plant one tree for each new member of party. Maybe the party is not as big as claim the polls? Or Olmert's team simply meant to plant one tree for each new member of Kadima in next Knesset? Either way, Haim Ramon promised that one thing is for sure: "Kadima is an imperishable movement, it is like a tree that will bear fruits f or many years". And now we know what those fruits are.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Golem of Jerusalem

"They are Nazgul. Neither living nor dead"
Aragorn, "Lord of the Rings"

A comatose prime minister is maintaining a significant lead in the polls on national elections. Does anything seems wrong with this picture? As newspapers describe it, the life of Israel's prime minister is once again out of danger. After undergoing a life-saving operation while remaining in a comatose state, Ariel Sharon's condition continues to be stable and comatose. I wish I could wish him well, but right now, every time I write his name I have to stay my hand not to add "zihrono le braha" as they do in Hebrew when mentioning the dead. It is pretty obvious what's happening. Sharon's body is kept animated by machines until the 28 of march, the day of elections, despite the fact that there is no life left in that body. A Golem of national significance. This is wrong, and immoral. Let the man go. I am not talking about euthanasia. There is nothing left for that. Just let him go, and stop this circus of death.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Oslo Extreme Edition

It seems like many people underestimate the geopolitical significance of Hamas wining the elections in PA. Lets recollect the results of Oslo accords. They are easy to enumerate:

1. Fatah was given legitimacy
2. given control of today's PA territory
3. given autonomy
4. given billions of dollars (over next 13 years)
5. 30 000 kalashnikov machine guns
6. But most importantly they got license to kill. And kill they did. Since 1993 thousands of Jews have been murdered, and many times that number injured, or lost their relatives.

Hamas is now repeating Fatah's infamous road to fame. On the surface, it would appear there is not much in common between Oslo accords and election of Hamas to PA's parliament. Fatah leaders were brought from abroad; Hamas came from Gaza. Fatah signed an accord. Hamas has won elections. But that's were differences begin to fade:

1. Hamas is getting legitimacy. Putin, then Shirak, then Erdogan, and no doubt soon many more leaders are on track with the goal.

2. Hamas got control of PA. Only this time, they didn't had to sign any accords to get it. This time, they did it while saying *we want Israel destroyed*.

3. Hamas got now more then a promise of autonomy, they inherited the promise of their own country. Made by no one else then president of US, and prime minister of Israel. Again, no accords needed to be signed.

4. Hamas is starting to get the money that used to go to Fatah. And Ehud Olmer, prime minister of Israel, was the first to push that shovel. Only this time the money will be used more efficiently, as Hamas is less rotten organization then Fatah.

5. Hamas got it's weapons. Only now they don't need kalashnikovs. Now they are importing rockets through the Gaza - Egypt border, another present of Israeli government.

6. They not only inherited the license to kill. Now they are asking for - and getting - license to talk about it in all honesty.

We are in the beginning of the same old spiral now, but on a new level. Similar sequence of events is about to take place, only this time the ride will be faster and more violent.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Short version of my blog

Power Games


The Austrian DerStandard took an interview from Ilka Schröder, an ex EU parlamentarian. In it Ilka gives her explanation to EU willingness to finance PA, and, despite well known facts of misuse of the money, refusal to investigate the money trail. Her explanation comes down to EU's desire to stick it to the Man, by failing US attempts to solve middle-eastern conflicts. This is a fight for spheres of influence. In her words, the policy is supported by very wide range of countries in EU. Which makes me ask. Would they still do the same, if US did not involved itself in Israel's troubles? Whatever Europe did, US, despite good intentions has been doing more harm then good.

And any way you put it, this makes me wonder: didn't momie told them that killing people is evil?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Mr. Olmert's Black List

I decided to make a list of all Olmert's recent strategic mistakes, and/or really illegal actions while serving as a *temporary* replacement for a prime minister:

1. Allowing Marwan Barguti to participate in elections, and to turn his jail cell into elections office.

2. Allowing Hamas to participate in elections

3. Allowing Arabs living in Jerusalem to participate in elections (division of Jerusalem anyone?)

4. Transferring money to PA with not just Fatah, but now Hamas also in power

5. Letting the resolution about disarming Iran from WMD go to UN security council with a quote about creating a WMD free Middle East (how about just disarming Israel, without ever disarming anyone else?)

6. Creating an unnecessary and brutal confrontation between Israeli police and Israeli citizens in Amona

7. Refusing to create an independent investigation comeete to investigate Amona events

Update 1:
8. Failure to prevent wold-wide legitimization of Hamas

Just for fun. Did I forget anything important? Made a mistake? Let me know.
I have a feeling I will update this list in the future.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Economy of Terror

My fellow blogger Woland, makes an important observation: construction of fusion reactors is stalling because that would collapse oil economies, as fusion reactors do not consume as much oil compared to pressurized or Boiling Water Nuclear Reactors, which in turn account for 2/3 of all oil consumption. Then, he concludes that oil-based economies as well as sponsorship of terror will deteriorate. I agree with the former, but want to argue against the later.

1. Oil Barons will still be selling oil, even if not as much as before, because other sectors of economy will still need oil (cars?) and fusion reactors will not replace existing ones that fast.

2. Even if the money river starts to dry out, oil Barons are still filthy reach. They made investments of many billions of dollars into western economies, and that money is still a very big pile, and delivering profit.

3. No matter how much economy will suffer, leaders of terrorist states will always put financing of terror as a priority. Which means that if there will be any money at all (and in any economy there is always at least some money) it will go south.

4. Eventually Western world will start sending money to those failing economies. Not enough to revive the economy, especially given the corruption, but more then enough to take some more western lives.

5. Financing terror is not *that* expensive. For example, Iran is spending in the order of several 100 million dollars a year on support of various external terrorist organizations. Even for a failing economy this sum is not out of rich.

In short, it will make a dent. It will not make any difference.

Yet another twist

Here is a funny quote from Ehud Olmert:

"They did amazing things for the country, and we do not want to make them fell like they don't belong. Part of the responsibility for the hard feelings for them is on their spiritual and political leaders, but I am not releasing the government from trying to negotiate with them".

If I didn't know what country he is talking about, I would have thought he is talking about Palestinians. Of course, Mr. Olmert refers to his own subjects, the settlers. Instead, Olmert is transferring to Hamas 45 million dollars - right after attack in Petah Tikva, and bombing of Kibutz (should I call it a settlement?). The decision is now final. And here is the twist. Just 2 weeks ago, Israeli court made a decision that Hamas must pay 20 million dollars to a family for murdering some of their relatives in Alon More. Now that the 45 million belong to Hamas, isn't Olmert obligated to act on court decision, and transfer 20 million to terror victims? By not doing so, the state of Israel is not only breaking all moral laws there are to break, not only sponsoring terror, but also doing so with the money that belongs to victims of that terror, and doing it morning after yet another terror attack.

Mr. Olmert, if you are reading this (as I am sure you are) remember this: I have family in Petah Tikva; If they got hurt, I am going to sue you.
How is that for a twist?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Beauty and the Beast

Now, that the Hamas won the elections, the situation in Israel has changed once more. Each side has new difficulties and goals. Lets take a quick look at them.

Hamas

1. Budget. PA's annual budget is 1.3 billion $, most of which coming from Europe, some from US and some from taxes Israel is charging for PA. There are 130,000 people sitting on PA's payroll, 40,000 - 60,000 of which are occationally armed and angry.

2. Economy. Hamas promised better future. Now they need to deliver. But how can one build an economy in a state of permanent warfare (the fundamental purpose for Hamas's existence), corruption (which will continue), monopolies (that are too powerful to be dismantled) and economic dependencies?

Israel and Kadima (the ruling party).

1. Conception. The conception was that Hamas cannot win the elections. They did. All intelligence was wrong, all predictions were of track, all decisions were misguided. Who is to blame? What to do to prevent this from happening again?

2. Elections. Still on track for March 28, with Kadima holding a solid lead. How to prevent the public from finding out what role played Kadima-lead government in not preventing Hamas's victory? How to prevent crumbling of the party?

3. Politics. With Hamas at the helm of PA, how can Israeli government justify unilateral disengagement, given that now it can't claim the PA will take care of things? On the other side, how can they negotiate with Hamas?

Europe

1. Hamas. How to give PA more money, now that terrorist organization is in charge? How to justify all those years of mistakes otherwise? Same goes for Israeli government.

Prediction.

Hamas is like the bastard child. You can't love it, you can't hate it. It's outlaw, but now it came back to remind of past sins and ask for money. Worse, it killed the firstborn bastard child, and wants the Estate to itself. What to do? How to save face, now that the bastard child threatens to tell the world who he is, or even light up the Mansion?

Here is what will happen. Europe and Israel will slip Hamas in pretty dresses, and try to sell that to the public. Hamas, in need of piles of euros and dollars, will play along, but only just. They will never stop calling for destruction of Israel, or blow people up. It's in their blood. They will only hold out until Israeli elections are over, and Olmert, the disengagement champion, won the race. European newspapers will start writing about reformed Hamas, and all those people that were surprised and terrified by Hamas's win, will start getting used to the fact that Hamas is the new Fatah. The going argument will be "if Fatah could reform, so can Hamas". Of course, Fatah never did, but it wont matter. In Israel Olmert already agreed to negotiate with Hamas. Of course, he mentioned some conditions. But the basics are there. He is ready. Not that Hamas would of course. Getting their hands dirty like that. But that is not the point. The point is, the message to Israeli voter: it is business as usual. Vote. For. Us. Of course, not that giving money to Hamas will make Europe and Israel terrorist sponsoring states. They been sponsoring terrorism for a while now, in form of Fatah. The only holdouts will be US and Arab countries. Iran (technically speaking, not an Arab country) will start sending Hamas new rockets. And maybe a nuclear bomb in a couple of years. Hamas will start diverting public attention from economics to war. Of course, Fatah been doing it for years, so obviously, the war will need to be bigger this time, not to loose anyone's attention. And it is possible. Hamas will take over PA's security forces (he who pays the money is the boss after all), and merge them with their own forces. This will be done under the flag of "putting all militias under one rule" - something that EU and US actually demanded from Fatah to do. This will provide future proof that Hamas is reforming. Instead, they will simply be putting even more terrorists on PA's payroll. This unified army, that can go up to 100,000, will be more then enough to do something atrocious. For example, conquer Jerusalem. Just one city. And then stop, and open negotiations, holding the Jewish citizens hostage.