katsaris: "Where is THEIR vote?" (Default)
This is one of the best optical illusions I've yet seen: http://www.patmedia.net/marklevinson/cool/cool_illusion.html Focusing on the central cross, a moving green circle appears, and if one really focuses, all the purple ones gradually disappear.


The beta of Inform 7 was released a day or two ago. And it is such a radical redesign over what Inform 6 used to provide that it may very well actually push me back to writing Interactive Fiction after some years' absence. Besides the unified GUI enviroment so that I won't need to struggle with compiler/interpreter/editor, the language itself has been redesigned to the point that its source reads like natural English..

Really it's so amazingly radical a redesign that it feels inappropriate that they didn't change the name "Inform" completely... Or atleast call it "Inform++" or something.


I dunno what I was thinking but I signed myself up for the femgenficathon orchestrated by [livejournal.com profile] gehayi The prompt I was given has already sparked some ideas. The deadline is far enough ahead that I'll probably have the time to turn them into a story too. Probably.


Iraq is #4 in the most failed states of the world listing. Same ranking as last year but the numerical score has actually worsened. Not much surprise there, just more bitter validation of the stupidity of invading it in the first place.

Greece is in the 26th *best* place -- while Scandinavia tops the list.
katsaris: "Where is THEIR vote?" (Default)
Two somewhat cute/interesting dreams, one last night, and the other a few days previously, both mildly political relevant.

Dream #1: Diplomatic envoy )

Dream #2: Iraqi conscript )

I know where in my mind both of the dreams came from. The one about India and Pakistan -- the previous night I had found the opportunity to fill in some tidbits of info on Wikipedia about the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, one of them being that Russia supports Pakistan's membership only if India joins at the same time. This thought, combined with the recent Iran nukes thingy, led to the dream.

And the other dream -- that's more solemn and creepy, and it was the Nepal situation that brought it forward, not anything happening in Iraq itself. I kept wondering what could lead an army to be loyal to a dictator even against their own people's wishes. Not just in Nepal, but also in Belarus recently, and ofcourse all over the world in different times.

My dream seems to have answered this with the guess of loyalty/admiration/liking at the mere fact of *not being hurt at the time*. I'm not sure how relevant it actually is in real life, but the more I think about it the creepier (and sadder) I find it. Battered wife syndrome on a whole national scale. Ugh.
katsaris: "Where is THEIR vote?" (Politics)
Belarus moves.

But I'm much more pessimistic about this one than I was concerning Ukraine. NOT in the sense that I was pessimistic (and turned out right) about Kyrgyzstan -- the one in Kyrgyzstan was a mere power-play between parliamentarians/regional forces versus the central presidency of Akayev, rather than any drive towards democracy. That was first shown by the fact that the very first action taken after Akayev's de factor exile was the transfer of power to the parliament whose fraudulent election the protesters were supposedly protesting! It was later proven even more clearly by the support given by Kyrgyzstan to their fellow tyrants in Uzbekistan. (Here comes the new boss, same as the old boss.)

In Belarus the situation is different: I don't doubt the democratic beliefs of the protesters. It's just that the balance of power is against them much more strongly than it ever was in Ukraine. Even if the votes *had* been counted correctly, likely Lukashenko would still be the victor. And he controls the state apparatus even more strongly than Kuchma did back in Ukraine.

It's good that the opposition is atleast making a show of force. Or of weakness perhaps, but even a show of weakness is better than a show of indifference. The few can be made many, in good time, the weak strong. It's just that I'm pessimistic that it's gonna happen *now*.


And my other source of consternation: the possible reversal and near-nullification of the Orange Revolution of Ukraine this coming Sunday. Petty ambitions and infighting have divided the formerly united Yushchenko-Tymoshenko front, leaving *Yanukovych* likely to take the lead. Almost certainly not with enough of a majority to rule alone. But who knows what vile accomodations may take place...


Playing around with maps recently:

The creations of boredom... oy.
katsaris: "Where is THEIR vote?" (Politics)
The issue of the day(s) is ofcourse the civil war brewing in Iraq at the combined instigation of the Islamofascist Sadr and SCIRI and with the excuse of the recent Shi'a holy site bombing, all coincidentally as the secular Sunni and Kurdish parties were moving jointly to decrease the power of the philo-Iranian Islamofascist parties...

... but I must discuss another issue first.

We get enough anti-American propaganda in Greece that I rarely find the need to add to it. Even when the arguments are perfectly good and the facts perfectly accurate, it still happens that the selective reporting thereof ends up tilting the balance of public opinion askew -- the things we'd need to hear in Greece far more are the ones we rarely do: the stories of Eastern and Balkan fascisms...

But this time I've been recently challenged in my description of the current US administration as a bunch of moral cretins (and murderers and torturers besides), so I've spent a little bit of time collecting a brief list of links, supporting this characterization. It made my job a little harder that I tend to absorb information but not really collect links. It made my job a little easier that the issue was again current in the blogosphere and the news just a few days ago.

Here you go, George )
Are these enough? I could probably dig up some more. In truth the Bush administration's fierce reaction against the McCain amendment would have *alone* been enough to convince me of their guilt and responsibility where torture is concerned.

But on the whole I think the above collection of links quite suffices to justify my characterization of the US administration as a bunch of torturers and murderers and all-around moral cretins. Abu Ghraib was not incidental -- it was official policy, first established in Guantanamo and authorized at the highest levels. Humiliation, abuse, savagery -- all check. The only thing exceptional about Abu Ghraib was the extensive photographic archive that *showed* to the world the moral degradation taking place.

The "defense of cleverness" that my brother used (aka "they couldn't have been so stupid as to authorize this") becomes irrelevant when it is shown that, yes, they could. Yes, they did. I'm not really interested in psychoanalyzing their reasons for being so "stupid". Truly nothing could surprise me concerning how far the current administration's stupidity can take them.

(I have my theories about such stupidity, ofcourse, as I have my theories about everything. One such theory is that machismo, which seems to be the current American conservativism's defining theme (certainly more so that financial attitudes or religious beliefs are) is after all almost by definition the glorification of mindless bullying. Other theories of mine range from the classical hubris, to plain racism, to plain psychopathy, but they are all just guesswork and largely irrelevant in determining the facts. )
katsaris: "Where is THEIR vote?" (Politics)
This actually just reaffirms once more the folly of promising to write future entries concerning this-or-that. Whenever I make such a promise, the mood never actually strikes me as right. I kept on trying to write the calm-to-the-point-of-Zen and complete-to-the-point-of-ideological-manifesto rebuttal to the arguments and analogies that [livejournal.com profile] bellatrys brought forward in her own lj...

...turns out my mood wasn't into it. I actually ended up writing and saving two separate half-complete drafts, but whenever I glanced back to read what I had written I felt the need to trash the whole thing and start all over again for the sheer discrepancy in the way I felt and the way I tried to express it. Such a composition might have been proper and good back when the situation was limited to the *threat* of violence and death, not now when such threats have been transformed to reality.

Heartsickness was on me, and in many ways still is, and if I couldn't express it in rage (albeit a coherent one), attempts at calm would seem more like phoniness to my own eyes. So here goes instead a much more disjointed post, not attempting either fullness or calm or anything of the sort -- just random spewing of points I think need be made.

'Solidarity with the oppressed' doesn't justify everything )

And the protesters aren't the actual oppressed anyway! )

'But...but...but... the Nazi literature is banned! Hypocricy alert!?' )

I think that my next posts will be more lighthearted, and probably fandom-related instead of having to do with politics. *g* There are enough books and series I need to comment on anyway...
katsaris: "Where is THEIR vote?" (Politics)
You know, I don't think that there has ever been a time where the verses of my "politics" icon above have been more relevant (I really need to thank [livejournal.com profile] homasse again for creating it for me -- thanks a bunch, j-chan!)

For that matter I don't think that there has ever been a time, where *blasphemy* has been more of a moral obligation than it is right now. If I had artistic skills enough to draw a cartoon where Mohammed, Jesus, Moses are all, I dunno, having a drunken orgy or something, I'd be drawing it right now. I'd be inclusive in my blasphemy: After all Greek *Christian* fascists have several times attempted to ban books (or indeed even *cartoons*) that they considered insulting to Jesus - Μν, the "Life of Jesus", so forth, so forth.

Anyway my only concern about it is that I've let enough time pass before commenting here over it that my first rage over the situation has passed, having mostly gotten expressed in a friend's journal instead of here. So now follows a much calmer post.

Analysis, part I: The core of the issue )

In order not to delay posting even more, I'll be breaking this up in sections. Two more sections remain to this analysis that I have already thought over. In section II I'll offer a more calm and full rebuttal to the points that [livejournal.com profile] bellatrys raised in her own posts. In section III I'll comment on the various international reactions, and their various seeming paradoxes.
katsaris: "Where is THEIR vote?" (Politics)
I've not seen anyone yet make the obvious comparison: Anglican crisis vs. Greek Orthodox crisis.

Read more... )


As I predicted, the Central Asian elections fizzled out uselessly so far -- Kyrgyzstan and even more so Tajikistan. Token weak opposition to not-really-free-and-definitely-unfair elections, ho hum, ho hum, regime and authoritarian rule survives.

But Lebanon's on the other hand getting interesting indeed -- again as I predicted (yay me!). Not only has the PM and his government there resigned (Lebanese President still remains in his place though, so that's not as huge an event as it'd be in more PM-centric countries) but now the Lebanese mass opposition turns itself against the Syrian troops presence itself.

The Red-and-White revolution has begun in earnest. Not Kyrgyzstan but Lebanon is the new Ukraine! :-)


Plus, I need to catch up to my email. Several emails by friends, to whom I've been too late to respond back. Sorry, everyone!
katsaris: "Where is THEIR vote?" (Politics)
Since I'll be dropping my Otenet account in a couple months, I got a new email address at gmail, courtesy of Philosopher at Large -- thanks again [livejournal.com profile] bellatrys! My otenet address will still be valid for a while, but after a month or two it'd probably be safer if people mailed me at katsaris@gmail.com instead.


This past week I read "A Game of Thrones" the first book in George R. R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" trilogy. Great book but what it primarily made me think about and be eager to talk of, was the issue of national identities in fantasy -- comparing this fantasy world with what we see in J.R.R. Tolkien's and Robin Hobb's fantasy universes, and the political development in each.

But I started writing, and then what I had to say kept on getting bigger and bigger, especially as I talked about Tolkien and the nations there -- so this essay is just half-done at this point. Next week when I have a bit more time.

And some much shorter, but long-overdue, commentary on "Three Colours: Blue", hopefully tomorrow.


On recent news developments, I am wondering if the liberation of Lebanon from Syria will go "Orange Revolution"-style, or "Operation Iraqi Freedom"-style. Here's hoping on the former, because the latter brings with it way too many dozens of thousands dead innocents to be cheerful about such a development.

But I have to say, and I know that some of my friends will bitterly disagree with this, if Bush's war plans had directed themselves against Syria from the start (instead of Iraq), I'd have almost certainly supported such a war. Because such things as the occupation of Lebanon, and the *huge* support Syria's been giving too some truly nasty terrorist and genocidal organizations of the "destroy Israel and throw all the Jews into the sea" variety, truly make me think that Syria's is a regime that the whole region would do well without. (one of the many reasons I opposed the Iraq War was that I didn't believe Iraq had a good chance to navigate its way to freedom and democracy twixt the twin monsters of Skylla and Charibdys, Syria and Iran) Syria was not a contained tyrant as Saddam's Iraq was after the first Gulf War -- it was a tyrant who's imperialism was undefeated.

Anyway, first things first -- Lebanon: what'll possibly (hopefully!) become a Ukraine to Syria's Russia. Between the assasination of the leading opposition figure, the Lebanon opposition calling for a Orange-revolution style uprising, elections there coming up in May (I believe)... things are moving. We'll see. To tell the truth I have more hope for Lebanon than I do for Kyrgyzstan (which is where the eyes of most of the rest of the revolution-watch afficionados had seemed to be primarily focused on up until recently atleast)


What icon to use, what icon to use... Ah, well, probably the politics one. I spoke more about that topic than about George R.R. Martin... :-)

And on that point, I really need to start sleeping before 8 AM. (It's amusing when one considers how once upon a time I needed to *wake up* before 8 AM :-)
katsaris: "Where is THEIR vote?" (Politics)
About a week ago Freedom House released its survey results concerning global freedom for the year 2004. The most shifts in freedom ratings occur NOT in the "Greater Middle East" (there we have minor 1-point shifts for the better in a couple countries) -- they happen instead right on the boundary where the EU sphere meets the CIS sphere. As I expected.

Here's the map for the area as I had coloured and posted it a couple months back when I first talked about Ukraine and the CIS/EU boundary, and also the new map, according to the new freedom ratings. The greener the better, the dark-red the worse.


This is a *big* change. Back when I'd posted the first map I had remarked on the clear distinguishing line between the EU+Romania+Bulgaria on one hand and the CIS world on the other -- Such a clear distinguishing line no longer exists, not because the two geopolitical spheres have moved closer together (they have not), but rather because the CIS world has itself split -- with a significant chunk (namely Ukraine and Georgia) moving a bit towards European levels of freedom, while the other CIS countries moved instead to the consolidation of their respective tyrannies.

Georgia went through the Rose Revolution late last year -- now Ukraine has gone through the Orange Revolution. Turkey's rating (not in the CIS) has likewise improved a bit with the continuation of the EU-instigated reforms. In EU itself freedom and democracy has consolidated to 1/1 levels in most of the new member states. Bosnia itself seems to show a hint of improvement, but since I'm not very informed about the situation there I'll wait for the analytic country-by-country reports.

Not including the deteriotating Kosovo situation, there are only two minor setbacks in the entire west-of-the-CIS freedom ratings -- namely in Lithuania and Romania. Both of these seem however temporary from what I know of the respective situations -- in Lithuania this concerned some scandals and political instability which I believe has by now largely been resolved. In Romania the ratings don't take into account its December elections (ratings go from November to November) which brought in a new more liberal government and removed the previous and (from what I gather) largely corrupt and authoritarian previous administration.

And ofcourse where the bad is concerned, we have the consolidation of tyranny in Russia (falls to "Not Free", and the worst rating since before the collapse of the Soviet Union), in the even worse Belarus, and lastly in Armenia.

But because of Georgia and (more importantly) Ukraine, the new Iron Curtain seems to be falling a bit to the east of what had been seen as the case just a while back.

Some predict that a "Tulip Revolution" in Kyrgyzstan will be the next step, to be taken in 2005, after the Rose and Orange revolutions, for the overthrow of the various tyrannies in the formerly Soviet world. But to tell the truth: I doubt it. There have always been the occasional cases of lone democracies surrounded by tyrannies but on the whole they are *rare*. Surrounded by China on one side, Russia (Kazakhstan but same thing really) on the other, and other remaining tyrannies on the other sides, I don't see where the democrats of Kyrgyzstan will get the strength.

I hope I'm wrong -- for the sake of Kyrgyzstan's freedom.


I went Tuesday and finally ordered the graduation photographs. Friends (and enemies :-) will have to wait for next week before I have and can post them though.
katsaris: "Where is THEIR vote?" (Politics)
A friend of mine, [livejournal.com profile] skaly recently said in his livejournal: "..if "marriage" is such a holy institution, then make up a word that encompasses everything that marriage encompasses, but make it a gay thing. If you call it something else, you'll fool all the idiotic rednecks and religious wackos that they've won, that the sanctity of marriage has been preserved. Give the gays what they want, just call it something different. Again, this is an ideological problem. People are looking at marriage as some kind of ideal, some abstract and meaningful symbol. Look instead at the physical--the real--aspects of marriage and give the gay people what they want. If the symbol of marriage is so holy, then don't call it marriage. Call it a "partnership" or whatever. A "merger." A "union." I don't care. It's just a name."

I disagree. If "marriage" is such a holy institutions, that's all the *more* reason for gay people to want to have the right to it. "Give the gays what they want, just call it something different" is not the solution, because it's also the *name* of marriage that is desired. Civil unions are better than nothing but *neither side* considers civil union an acceptable solution, because both sides tend to see what the real issue is. The real issue is acceptance of homosexuality by society. And same-sex marriage goes hand in hand with that. And *names* are important about that.

Read more... )

Anyway, that was just a minor ramble.
katsaris: "Where is THEIR vote?" (Politics)
Another fine article about Ukraine: http://www.guardian.co.uk/ukraine/story/0,15569,1359099,00.html: "Actually, it's in places like Kiev, rather than in Brussels, that you see what a great story Europe has to tell, if only we knew how to tell it. It's the story of a rolling enlargement of freedom, from a position 60 years ago when there was just a handful of perilously free countries in Europe, and virtually the whole continent was at war, to a position today where there are only two or three seriously unfree countries in Europe, and almost the whole continent is at peace. Today, the front line of that forward march is in Ukraine."

There may be hints that the tide keeps on turning in favour of Yushchenko. Ukrainian state TV came out in favour of the demonstrations.

Also the eastern province of Luhansk has declared itself independent and requests to be annexed by Russia. Over at Postmodern clog our Ukrainian blogger reports that the nearby region of Donetsk (Yanukovich stronghold) is likewise contemplating secession.

So it seems we're reached the "sepatist" phase, which I described about a month ago as the one of only two possibilities for the countries of the CIS: "If you don't have a Russia-supporting dictatorship, a separatist movement will come along, Russian army will intervene to create "peace" between it and the central government, and the regions it controls will be Russia-supporting dictatorships."

Still these declarations and talk of separatism seem to be a *good* indication (relatively), as they would probably only come to be if the greater game of controlling the whole of Ukraine seemed lost.
katsaris: "Where is THEIR vote?" (Politics)
The Ukrainian struggle is continuing: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4042019.stm.

Court freezes decision.

Blogging from the front lines, the Le Sabot Post-Moderne.

The USA-centric folk out there, forgive me if I consider the struggle there as important and much less discussed than the Bush-Kerry thing. I see it as nothing less than a war of independence for a whole nation of 50 millions.


I also wanted to discuss the status of gay marriages across Europe and the world, instigated by a friend's lj post -- but later.
katsaris: "Where is THEIR vote?" (Politics)

There are elections coming up which, the way I see it, may very well end up determining the fate of a nation in the century that is to come.

I'm NOT talking about the United States.

Many other people have talked about the United States, and if I had any way of knowing that Kerry's policies will be significantly better than Bush's, I might comment on them also: So far Kerry's chief advantage seems to be not in actual policy described, but rather in that he's not so offensively obviously stupid, and he doesn't seem to consider arrogance a virtue in its own right. If this will translate to anything better on the ground, your guess is as good as mine.

But no more on the United States -- I don't consider the elections there to be the end of the world no matter the result. Few things really are the end of the world. In the choice between Bush and Kerry I'm not sure it's even a crossroads -- more like a choice of lanes all heading in the same direction, and you only try to choose which one has fewer bumps and less traffic, and which one will help you get off in the right place, rather than have to go another 10 kilometers because you missed your exit.

The election in Ukraine tomorrow Sunday won't be the end of the world either. But from what I hear, it has more of a feel of crossroads than any other election I ever remember hearing about. But to talk about this, I'll have to talk first about the whole global neighbourhood.

Read more... )
katsaris: "Where is THEIR vote?" (Politics)
A meme, not like most others, on a thing worth remembering -- taken from [livejournal.com profile] bellatrys.

From A Man For All Seasons, winner of the 1966 Oscar for Best Picture:

Lady Alice More:
Arrest him!

Sir Thomas More:
For what?

Lady Alice:
He's dangerous!

Will Roper:
For all we know he's a spy!

Margaret More:
Father, that man's bad!

There's no law against that.

There is - God's law!

Then let God arrest him.

Lady Alice:
While you talk he's gone!

And go he should, if he were the Devil himself, until he broke the law.

So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down - and you're just the man to do it! - do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

Pass it on.
katsaris: "Where is THEIR vote?" (Politics)
It's been way too long since I last updated my journal... So on various topics:

Head over to [livejournal.com profile] bellatrys (aka Philosopher at Large) ' livejournal for a perspective on the war in Iraq that's at the same time deeper and much more detailed, informed, comprehensive and multi-aspected than mine has been. Just on the last few days she's included a comparison between real-life and fictional orcs (the latter are much nicer characters all around), conspiracy theories on what's been happening with Chalabi, and a view on Fallujah which has actually managed to make me just a tiny bit more hopeful of the situation on Iraq.

Speaking of politics, I partook in an exceptionally exhausting flamewar over at Rantburg, on Sunday. I think it's the first time in my life that I've ever been called a goatfucker. Or a communist for that matter. But even more annoying than that were the two-three times that people were asking me questions and were assuming in advance (and wrongly for that matter) that I wouldn't be able to answer.

I think my participation at Rantburg is swiftly approaching its end. It was useful as a source of hard information, but the fanatical idiocy there is way too rampant, and seems to be becoming worse with each passing week.

Check out www.jkrowling.com -- it used to be a boring thing about publishers, I believe, but last few days she's updated it to be this huge Flash experience, with delightful pieces of info, hidden items if you dig in deep enough, so forth.

I've already gotten three such items, and I'm sure there must be atleast one more, if I could figure out how to open the door that says "do not disturb". :-)


I have seen the bellybutton of the world.

It is an outie.

And for those of you who don't know what the bellybutton of the world is -- shame, shame on you! ;-) You'll just have to wait for a more detailed post one of these days. Cheers.
katsaris: "Where is THEIR vote?" (Politics)
Click for funny flash movie: The Olympics


On a more serious issue, the shit have hit the fan in Iraq. And in Cyprus also ofcourse, to a lesser extent, and I have a lot to say about that one also and about Papadopoulos' speech -- but it'll have to wait for tomorrow.

As for Iraq, phase 2 of the Iraq War has begun in the last few days, that phase which everyone expected except possibly the Bush administration itself -- the Islamofascists' bid for power. (now whether "Islamofascist" is a truly accurate expression doesn't concern me that much -- it's a very useful shorthand for "group of religious Muslim fanatics who want to impose Sharia law on their nations or even the entire world by force")

Anyway, there was a rather nice discussion in a recent Rantburg thread, and especially polite given Rantburg standards, and there's probably no need to spend time rephrasing what I already said there, especially since it's 5:30 AM here in Greece, so, and hoping that it's not exceptionally wanky, allow me to just duplicate some of my own comments from there which synopsize what I feel the situation is.

Read more... )

I opposed the war on Iraq, not because of moral, but because of practical reasons. Sadr is the perfect example of why I opposed it.

Edit: Though now that I think of it, "because if you go in there, you'll make a mess that you are unlikely to be able to solve, leaving the lives of the people there no better than what you found them, and possibly worse" probably does qualify as a moral reason. But because of practical rather than ideological concerns.

Anyway, let us hope that I'm wrong, and that Sadr will prove but a minor temporary inconvenience for the people of Iraq. But I somehow doubt it.
katsaris: "Where is THEIR vote?" (Politics)
Over at rantburg.com (political forum, largely populated by American warhawks and conservatives), had a brief funny exchange today which I will save here for posterity:

My first Lj-cut - Yay! )

Yeah, not the most argument-laden political position I've ever taken, but still... :-)


katsaris: "Where is THEIR vote?" (Default)
Aris Katsaris

July 2011

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