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Fri, Sep 28 2001

Nothing much to write of today since I've been pretty busy at work but there is something that kind of amused me and yet made me realize again how much people's prejudices and preconceptions are at work. Scope got mentioned on a bulletin board a couple of days ago and one of the people there mentioned the fact that Scope was last updated in July and then they went on to make a remark about whether I was in hiding :p I assume that this is because I have an Arabic name (of course, it's beside the point that I am not even from the Middle East but from Sri Lanka which is in South Asia ...) and can only wonder at how easily people jump to conclusions and are prone to smear others with a universal tar brush. But then again, I guess what can you expect? People will be people :p
posted at 08:30:09 AM  link  comment

Thu, Sep 27 2001

I was all set to do a nice, low-stress, no-rant entry about the new Star Trek series "Enterprise" today when I heard something on the radio while driving to work which started me boiling up all over again :p Am I being very sensitive about how America (or rather certain Americans) react to certain events after the recent events? Yes I am but that's only because I have a hope (or should that be dream?) to which America - an open, great, non-arrogant America - is integral. My dream is for a united world under one government - a world where we wouldn't have the national conflicts that we face today because there would be only one nation, one government and a world where even the racial boundaries would slowly begin to fade. A world which would share all its resources so that all the citizens of the world will have the same quality (or almost the same quality) of life. My friend jugg tells me that this will never happen and when I wear my realist hat, I don't think so either but then again, I don't wear that hat much - I usually wear the optimist hat and I hope that one day, not in my life time but perhaps in a few hundred years or maybe even a thousand, that this would indeed come to pass.

To fulfill this dream, I believe that America is crucial. Because I believe that America is the one nation on Earth that can lead the other nations of the world towards achieving this goal. But not an America which is arrogant and introverted! Not an America where some of its citizens don't even know there is a world outside its shores and doesn't even care about that world in particular!! Not an America whose citizens are seen as arrogant and boorish by quite a bit of the rest of the world!!! That is why I have higher expectations from Americans. So let me rant on :p

Today on the radio the people in the morning show that I normally listen to were all upset because they had one of their guys distributing red, white and blue stickers at a school and the principal (who had earlier given permission BTW) had asked the guy to leave and tore up one of the stickers. The people on the show were mad about it but they kept it restrained whereas some of the people who called in equated the principal's actions to burning the flag and even called him anti-American! I have to say that patriotism is all good and well but there is a point when patriotism (or any -ism for that matter ...) becomes fanaticism and things seem to be reaching that point. Come on! Yes, the stickers were red, white and blue but does that mean that the guy was tearing up the flag! This sounds like just how the McCarthy era (or the Spanish Inquisition) began - you begin something like that and pretty soon you'll be scrutinizing the actions of everybody around you and trying to decide whether they are un-American! People need to take a good look at themselves and reanalyze their perspectives!!

OK, I'm done with that :p To talk of what I really wanted to talk about today, "Enterprise" turned out to be pretty good! I don't know other people will react to the show but I thought Scott Bakula's Captain Jonathan Archer hearkened back to the early days of Captain James T. Kirk. Here was a man who exemplified all the qualities that make us humans who we are and always showcased those qualities. The first Star Trek series was like that whereas the later ones didn't concentrate so much on humanity and what makes us human. I also liked the fact that Vulcan's were shown in a slightly negative light since we had never seen them in that particular light in the original series. I enjoyed the tension between Captain Archer and his Vulcan science office which was directly in contrast to the camaraderie between Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock :-) All in all, a good show and one which I'm looking forward to seeing more of!
posted at 08:28:01 AM  link  comment

Wed, Sep 26 2001

I am supposed to attend a seminar held by StarDock to unveil WindowBlinds XP today so probably won't have time to write too much. Thankfully, that will mean that I'll keep things brief :p I did quite a bit of coding on Blog yesterday and the next release is turning out pretty well. I've already added some stuff that the users requested like the ability to detect database changes when Blog starts up and automatically do the changes (instead of the user having to download an extra utility and do it manually), new Blog tags to specify the system date and time when the journal was published (as opposed to when a specific entry was made ...), syntax highlighting for the template editor and a few other minor tweaks. I still need to add a few other options in and then the next release should be ready to go :-)

At the same time, I've been trying to get back to work with Scope and downloaded Mozilla 0.9.4 (those Mozilla folk seem to be really churning out the builds these days ...) so that I could figure out why Scope won't work with the latest builds of Mozilla. Unfortunately, I couldn't even get Mozilla to compile. I don't know whether the problem is with the Mozilla tarball I downloaded or my particular setup. Guess I'll have to go back and take a look at that later ... Oh well ...
posted at 08:02:53 AM  link  comment

Tue, Sep 25 2001

I normally am not a fan of American football since any sport where there's a possibility of people being maimed or seriously injured for the entertainment of the masses smacks too much of the old days of gladiatorial combat for me but I really enjoyed "The Replacements" - an American football movie starring Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman - yesterday! What appealed to me was the fact that the movie was about teamwork, courage, heart and the will to succeed against all odds - traits that *I* think are some of the best in the human race. It was an enjoyable movie and I think I spent quite a bit of the movie eitehr sitting at the edge of my seat, cheering or dancing to "I Will Survive" along with the characters :p

It was an evening for good movies since I saw another movie that both appealed to me and made me feel good "The American President". Now Michael Douglas' Andrew Shepherd is a president that I'd be proud to follow and to vote for! Yes, I agree that movies are idealistic and don't always show the real view of the world and that real people can't always take the kind of decisions that tug at your heart strings that characters in movies always do but how I wish it could be so! This Andrew Shepherd is a president with character and integrity - a person who will put what he believes is right before everything else - even his hopes of another term as president! This is the kind of president from the golden days of America when the nation was a true giant and not just a country full of people who are content to lay back on the successes of their ancestors and bask on their reflected glory!! (Is that harsh? I guess so but again, I personally believe that that is the truth about at least 80% of Americans - unfortunately, perhaps 90% of that 80% isn't online since the online community by far seems to represent the most enlightened and world-aware part of the the American population ...)

One of the most moving moments in the movie for me (besides the penultimate moment when Andrew Shepherd makes his stand against his opponent) was the dialog between Lewis and Shepherd where Lewis says "People want leadership. And in the absence of genuine leadership, they will listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership, Mr. President. They're so thirsty for it, they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand." and Shepherd responds "Lewis, we've had Presidents who were beloved, who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don't drink the sand because they're thirsty, Lewis. They drink it because they don't know the difference." Funnily enough, I can understand and relate to both points of view. Yes people do want leadership and sometimes no, they don't know the difference - I hope that we will learn to discern the difference between good and bad and not just follow blindly anybody who claims to be a leader ...

I had a rant about the recent changes in the US where a lot of "big brother"-like changes have been made (or are proposed) to the system under cover of the recent tragedies but I think I've gone on enough for one day and so I will save it for perhaps tomorrow :p Oh yes, did I mention that I've started work on Blog again and that future database changes will be automatically carried out by the application itself instead of you having to download an extra utility?
posted at 08:04:56 AM  link  comment

Mon, Sep 24 2001

Yes, I've been silent for a long time ... It's partly been due to a desire to let things heal and settle down and partly because I wasn't sure that I wasn't doing more harm than good with my rants with the current emotional climate - at least in the US. But I've heard from several people (including Kurt Rosencrants who was personally affected by the tragedy at the WTC and yet hasn't descended to hatred like so many of those around us) and I have realized that I do need to keep on saying what I feel in the hope that I might be able to make a difference in some small measure in these troubled times.

I had planned to write something about healing and rebuilding instead of my usual rants last Monday or Tuesday but then I heard on the radio that there was a list of songs that at least some of the radio stations had been asked to refrain from playing. This list includes songs like John Lennon's "Imagine" and Elton John's "Rocket Man"! This put me in the mood for a rant and I decided not to post at all that day but I feel I should speak about it now - what the heck are we trying to do? Bury our heads in the sand and say that it never happened? Or go into Vietnam-mode and try to change history to make it seem that things happened differently? It was a great catastrophe and many innocents lost their lives due to the stupidity of a few shortsighted individuals - we should remember it and learn what we can from it ... not try to bury it all as if it never happened! I don't know how the people affected by this personally would feel and so can't say that I speak for them, but personally I think all this sudden scramble to remove WTC references from movies, games etc. is a completely meaningless act!

Speaking of stupidity, let me move onto something a bit less nationally or globally significant ... I saw what must be one of the stupidest tech-tricks today :p I was driving to work and I suddenly noticed that there was this woman in the next lane who was turned almost ninety degrees towards the right-hand window while driving. I was curious and looked a bit more and saw that she was reading something and for a few moments I thought that she was reading from a notepad but then it occurred to me that the notepad must be really well lit because I could see the writing on it from my car! I then realized that she was actually looking at a notebook computer while driving ... it was an Excel spreadsheet and she was working on it while driving in heavy Monday morning traffic!! Even more scarier, she got on my lane right behind me moments later and I can tell you that I was constantly checking my rear-view mirror till she got on the next lane :p
posted at 08:13:10 AM  link  comment

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