Is Kosovo indepedence sui generis?

February 18, 2008

I invited some guests to our home. It was obvious they were not well off but neither was I. I had not expected them to stay on – overstay is the correct word – but they lingered. At a family powwow we came to the decision that we can´t very well chuck the guests out after all, but we must let them know that they really have to leave otherwise, well otherwise. They have nowhere to go other than the miserable shed down the road. So we let them stay. That  is now several decades. The matter continues unresolved but in the meantime many more guests seem to be moving in though it is unclear who invited them. Then one fine day the uninvited guests decided to declare the kitchen independent and sure enough grandma remained stranded sitting in the corner. They were nice enough to offer her to stay in the corner as long as she didn´t make a fuss.

When I complained and tried to evict these people I … well nothing happened. Finally I got some help from a neighbour but his fear was palpable because he was having a similar squatting problem. Down the block a man of wide-ish proportions inveigled his way into negotiating a solution to my problem. I thought, good, any sensible man should be able to untie this Gordian knot.

Later, much too late, it became clear that he agreed to an abridged version of the squatters’ declared independence and there I was, stuck. He did agree to send in a few squaddies to make sure grandma was not maltreated. He also made sure that the squatters had a bit of pocket change for the odd Mars bar. In the meantime, the neighbours to the far west, beyond Vienna, wait for me to explain why I am to blame for my own misery. I am, according to the prevailing opinion of my neigbours to the west, a pariah, a misfit and evil. I don’t mind the former two but the evil thing is difficult to swallow when you consider how it all came about.


Anodyne Happy Holidays from Canada

December 16, 2007

It seems that Canada is moving ever closer to the secular paradise of non-believers, atheists, buggered humanists, amoral and immoral liberals, fagged-out leftists and schizophrenic agnostics. To be PC is so darn holy to the chattering classes of t his great country that even my own family members have fallen prey. Some of them have become finger-wagging  intolerant berks.

Christmas is the next victim of the holier-than-thou claque. In my youth, growing up in the Kensington market, what the new arrivals called the Jewish Market, Christmastime was just that. Our landlord, a rabbi, did not interject “Happy Hanukah” whenever a Merry Christmas was thrown his way. He smiled broadly when invited to inspect our manger scene. Even the synagogue on St Andrew Street put up a meek-ish ostentation by pinning something green at his doors. Today, we have turned away from the cheerful Merry Christmas to the innocuous “Happy Holidays”. Anodyne and irritating.

Watching Michael Coren on CTS cable network (Dec. 19) I began to appreciate that perhaps it is a conspiracy promulgated by the high and mighty like MacDonalds, the über-managers at the Gap, in cahoots with a multitude of national and multi-national firms which do not want to be seen to be pandering to the Christian majority – the same majority to which they belong, the same which spends the filthy lucre at their emporia. Why, you may well ask, the Christian element from Christmas? Clearly, their businesses might well belly flop with too much Christian content. But I wonder if the lowly small café down the street is in on the same conspiracy. The owner goes to the same church as I do but, yes, Happy Holidays on the front window. No, I suspect it is a much deeper process going on in North America and indeed the industrialized west. One theory may well be that the very processes set in motion by the Renaissance and French Revolution – the very same processes’s which shape our world view are, unfortunately the same processes which are helping us devour ourselves. We are the Ouroboros.

Perhaps the reason the Christmas is going the way of the dodo is because of the myriad of incredibly aggravating apologists like Marilyn Churley,(1) a former cabinet minister in one provincial government or other is to blame. She blames the Christians themselves for all the ills of mankind. Everyone, according to her, born after Christ, and carrying a cross around his neck, is in league with the devil. OK, perhaps I have injected a little too much intelligence in her thought process but the thing is that her anti-Christian bias is shared by well meaning social activists who shed crocodile tears whenever they see a child from a Muslim family subjected to onslaughts of “Merry Christmas” from his Christian classmates. Insensitive, you bet. The children, I mean. Let’s not ponce about – children are a mean savages, and most especially Christian children.

But back to the likes of Marilyn (may I be this familiar?) She claims that we have brought it on ourselves, what with all the raping and pillaging we have done since the time of my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great -great -great -great grandfathers. She, in her twit-ish twitter means that because Christians have been raping and pillaging non-Christians and other-Christians alike, immediately after the death of Christ, have no one but ourselves to blame for this anti-Christmas backlash.

As Mr Coren rightly points out – she is free to verbalize her petty and indeed incomplete thoughts, precisely because Christianity gave birth to the society in which she lives, the same society which permits her the freedom to express herself publicly – no matter how silly she sounds. This is the same religion which has taught me to turn the other cheek when the Churleys of this world slap me hard. She has a point though, the Christianized west is very much an Ouroboros?

The anti-Christmas hysteria took on a new twist yesterday when a teacher in Ottawa managed to dislodge the word “Christmas” from a Christmas carol because she, in her unfathomable wisdom, thought it might offend the other non-Christian children in her class. The Ottawa School Board was quick to point out on national television that Christmas was indeed alive and well in Ottawa schools but was quick to add as was all other faith-holidays. My comforting words to the teacher are: chins up – you were born in the wrong place and time – had this been post WWII Russia, you would have received a medal of some kind from the Ministry of Pravda.

Frankly, I have not noticed this anti-Christmas backlash (probably because I live in northern Europe) simmering in North America. Sure I notice that every time I come back to visit family, how Christmas is not what it use to be.Then again, nothing is.

Unfortunately, public agencies too are out to remove Christianity form Christmas. A few days ago, my inattention turned to irritation when, during the CBC broadcast on Radio 2, a singer belted out a well  known Christmas Carol which has never included “Happy Hanukah” as part of the libretto – until then. This programme featured Christmas concerts from several European countries and Canada. As you might have guessed, the Europeans put forward and true formulae of religious music with a few good does of Bach and Händel. The odd man out was Canada with a collection of Christmas carols in a modern jazzy rendition with a flair of a je ne sais quoi. Fair enough and well-meaning, no doubt. However the singer’s forceful rendition were meant to highlight that Canucks are not high-brow Alleluia Chorus ponce Europeans – nay, we are a peace-loving, multi-cultural, racially harmonious hyphenated citizenry which is firmly  entrenched in the present globalized world with no time for the sentimental claptrap of the distant past. No, unlike the Europeans, we are not stuck in the baroque world of Händel. My question to the CBC though is: do Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, or pagans, for that matter, interpolate Christian text into their music – for the sake of keeping Christians sweet?

Emasculating our own beliefs and traditions -the phrase “cut off your nose to spite your face” comes to mind – is not the way to show our respect to non-Christians.  Muslims did not come to Canada because they thought, “Gosh, gee, that will be a good place to emigrate to because Canada is good Muslim god-fearing country, full of mosques and …oh shops are closed on Friday and oh..oh … they use the Muslim calendar…” Jews did not come to Canada with the conspiratorial aim of transforming this into a second land of David. They all came here with eyes open. I suspect that they even like the fact that this is (or was) a Christian country where they have are free to bow to their own god without fear.

Maybe we should just get rid of Christmas. It will avoid all this embarrassment and hand-wringing at this time of the year. Non-Christians and those who feel guilty about being born into a Christian family will have no reason to feel left out. Then there would be no danger of offending anyone, including especially, ourselves. Oh, the children. Bah, humbug. Ah well, they will get over it. All you have to do is sing them a ditty : “You better not pout, you better not cry.”

For my part I say, have a Merry Christmas(1), a Happy Christmas, a joyous Christmas! Celebrate the true meaning of this gladsome festival. Lest you have forgotten; Christmas is the celebration of Christ’ birth in the tiny village of Bethlehem – the same Christ who came to save wretches like you and me.

And remember that Christmas is indeed about faith, hope and charity.

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(1) She brought to mind the old phrase: one brick short of a outside loo.

(2) Christmas is a contraction of Christ’s Mass, Middle English, Christemasse and Old English Cristes mæsse


¿Por qué no te callas?

November 18, 2007

While King Juan Carlos of Spain was up to his nose in Hugo, his wife, Queen Sofia, was enjoying a souvlaki in Athens. Losing your wick is very human – he showed frustration at a man who was harassing his boss, the Prime Minister of Spain.
The international media reported the king’s retort to the haranguing coming from the Venezuelan corner was akin to a command a frustrated father hurls at his son. "Why don’t you shut up?" could be construed as rude (in English) but in Spanish there are subtleties at work. Spanish has the second person singular (te) and the second person plural (Usted) but it also has the honorific (Te). For strangers and acquaintances "Usted" is used. But the  pronoun "Te" is also used. The problem now is whether the king meant to use "Te" or "te". The latter is used when addressing small children, horses and asses. The context is the determining factor. It was  a formal environment and so surely the king was using the "Te" pronoun suggesting that even in botheration the king was respectful. This, for Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela, will not do. The king insulted the President of Venezuela and not the man, he claims.

Hugo Chavez waits for an apology knowing full well that an apology from the king of Spain is not a simple matter. Surely, anyone who has been through a comedy that is the Spanish political scene, is capable of a discrete phone. The king would coo a few soft mea culpas and that would be that. Hugo will have none of it. In an television interview last Saturday, on the eve of a foreign visit tot the OPEC summit in Riyadh, the populist Chavez made dulcet clucking noises that some kind of apology was to be expected. He is sure to bring up the incident up with his host in Tehran, that is Iran’s lover of hate. The Iranian President will gloat behind his beard and discuss how Iran can help with Venezuela’s nuclear programme. Hugo will fly to Paris to and meet up with Europe’s shortest President, Sarkozy. Surely the French President is aware of the delicious historical ironies at Hugo’s disposal. Will he take the bait? Will king Juan Carlos rudeness come up?

Anyone watching the Chavez interview last Saturday would have lulled into believing that he, man with the dulcet tones, was the victim. Had he been using such tones at the Ibero-American plenary session, the king would not have been aroused from armchair siesta. The exchange leading up to the king’s interjection shows us that Chavez is anything but a choir boy. He was intent on knuckledusting the Spaniards. Instead he got a shellacking; it was unexpected because he is usually the one doing the shellacking. Indeed, the king probably surprised himself with his outburst. The Venezuelan President admitted, however, that he had not seen the king because he was too busy verbally mugging Spain’s Prime Minister Zapatero. "If I had heard him … I would have stared him down like an Indian, because I am an Indian and a little bit black and white." Hugo is clever. He knows that there is nothing quite as effective as the the racial card to silence liberals who waddle about with an imprecise moral compass. Why the hissing at Zapatero? Why the galled king? Why the flummoxed Spanish Prime Minister? It all stemmed from Hugo’s belief that Spain’s former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar was behind his short eviction from Venezuelan presidential palace. Should we have been surprised at the brouhaha? Let us be frank, the Ibero-American conference is a forum for old colonial masters and their protegé to cock snooks at each other and do a spot of business. Hugo’s has a penchant for mixing snook cocking with business. A good time was had by all, objectives achieved.

Hugo Chavez is not very deft at playing the game. He tilts at the wrong windmills. His anti-liberal rhetoric is really an anti-USA rally cry.  The state leaders of of Latin America who share Hugo’s anti-liberal stand should appreciate that he is one egg short of a dozen. I suspect they don’t care because he is the one going out on the parapet. They understand the nature of the game: any concessions he gets from the oil companies, the French, OPEC, investment banks, the Spaniards (second largest investors in Latin America after the USA), the Canadians, hell the shy Finns, they can claim as their own. When it is their turn to play hardball, they can thank Hugo because he has already softened up the competition. The hard men from INCO, the World Bank, United Fruit, Metsä Botnia and all imperialist lap-dogs. They should also be aware that he can a silly berk whose piques give no returns – other than guffaws from would be friends. During the Ibero-American conference he showed just how silly he can be. One of the summit’s declarations included a statement on social cohesion, an EU invention, but well understood to mean social justice. Hugo Chavez rejects social cohesion outright as a liberal construct. Instead wants to see social justice in place of the social inequalities the continent faces. I say tomato you say tomato.

What will be Chavez’ next step? Or more precisely, on what will Chavez step?
It is hard to tell. If the king does not apologize, that is to say the Spanish state, he may well declare war on Spain.


Will Nokia nobble Google?

October 3, 2007

I am in the unfortunate position of running several OSes. I say unfortunately because synchronizing my work amongst Linux, OsX and MSWin is cumbersome and sometimes just boring. I have come to the belated conclusion that Google got it right, some time back, by offering users off-site or off-computer storage. So, now I am doing what millions are doing: moving all my docs to my Google account. What will I do when Google goes belly up or worse still, decides to charge me for its services?
No worries! … yet. I may do what many will also do – buy a Nokia Communicator, and go back to running my own server – at home. After all, with my Communicator I can do what we will all be doing in the near future: get to my data, anywhere.
But who am I fooling? The truth is I hate running my own server. How many can run their own server? This is what Google counts on. However, it is not enough that Google hosts my data. It is missing one important technology link in its attempt to conquer the world. Nokia has this link.
Nokia, my former employer and contracting partner, is doing what Google is doing but from another end of the wire: it is offering every individual complete freedom from wires. The problem which Nokia has solved and Google is yet to solve is the wire-wireless divide. It is one thing to offer Gigs of hard drive space to me but it i s another for me to access my data, even when I cycling somewhere in southern Mexico, far from a library or an Internet connection. (Note 1) This is the edge.
One cannot say that it is Nokia alone which has created this edge but it is true that Nokia was and has been instrumental in getting wireless technology implanted in the most remote locations in the world. It is with thanks to this ubiqutous technology that everyone and anyone can talk to anyone else, anytime, from almost anywhere. Ask Osama bin Laden. What is salient is that Nokia will give me the tools to access the data which Google is hosting.
Am I not comparing apples or oranges? These two companies use two very different marketing and commercial models. Surely their objectives are different. The first is that their objectives are the same: to make as much money as possible. The fact is that the lines are blurring and sooner or later, Google’s model will be usurped because Nokia will come up with a catchy, cutsy, off-the-wall name for a service which the boffins in Espoo are this very moment hatching. It will attract us – like flies to a cow pat. Google will be nobbled just as it nobbled Yahoo.
To meet its objective of conquering the world, Nokia announced yesterday that it has bought NavTeq for cool 8.1 billion € or 10 thousand million US dollars or .. a lot of money. This is only one in a slew of half a dozen buy-outs in the past year.
Why did it do this? To meet customer expectations that Google and other Internet companies have created by allowing off-site blogs, satellite pics, photoalbums and everything mankind can do with all the new-fangled electronic, digital, wireless, wired gadgets popping up every few weeks – usually from the "un-inventive" Chnese and Japanese minds. Lest we take our patronizing throw away remarks to be the truth, we should appreciate that two factors point out that Nokia is making the right moves and Google is not (yet). One: the world is urbanizing at a alarming rate. Two: although the poverty gap is wide, a computer in every pot, everywhere (except Afghanistan), will be a reality in five years time. This means that we can forget about the tera, peta and exabytes and jump right to the yottabytes. Where will we put all of our inconsequential octets in the future? In Googles servers? How? With our wired Nokia devices, of course.
Nokia is aiming very high. Whereas Karimo was aiming to get Nokia out of its wellies and into tranistors, the new Nokia chief, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, will position Nokia into one of the top five companies in the world. Wherefrom will this business come? From a goggle-eyed Google, of course. From you, the google generation.(1)
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(1) Lest you think that Nokia has forgotten that mobile phones are for making calls, then watch out when it buys Skype and then gives us the opportunity to call each other, anywhere in the world, for local mobile phone rates.

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Terrorised on the Internet

September 17, 2007

While researching on an Vilks brouhaha for my blog I came across this site: Chimes of Freedom,the diary of a Western Dissident (nice poetic name for a site!) The author(s) are the guardians of — I don’t really know. Who are these defenders of the Left The Right? Not my left surely.
At the end of the site there was a congratulatory note to Brussel’s favourite strong-arm mayor, the man with stainless steel balls and a indecent hatred of the late Pope, Freddy Thielemans: for setting the police upon a small band of protesters. The video of the affair showed us that the Brussels police are very effective indeed… against grey-haired octogenarians, no less. The disturbing scenes of violence did not necessarily put me in mind to send off email of protest to the Mayor’s office but then I read this dire mesage(sic): ("Warning: any racist scumbags reading this who think they can send abuse by email, just watch it! Your emails can be traced back to you.) Gosh, I have never really thought of myself as a a racist scumbag especially with my history in the anti-racist struggle over the years in the several countries I have lived. But as luck would have it, the threat stuck because I do not want to be labelled something I am not, not especially that very un-PC thing. Oh, by the way, the admonition by Chimes of Freedom to keep quiet led me to the seek out the video of the demo in Brussels. (I also found links to a few other sites which they claim to be nests of racist vipers. Odd they should have links to these sites. Some of these scenes are from the Vlaamsbelang part of the demo but no less disturbing for that. As I understand it some of the arrested and manhandled are MEPs. That too should be not be a cloak of protection however, I wonder if these same MEPs are allowed to voice their opinions in the European Parliament chamber? The p
olice batons were not enough though. Even those far off in Strasbourg who should know better, were non-nonchalantly adding petrol to the flames. According to a report by AFP, Terry Davis, the head of the Council of Europe, the demonstrators deserved their cracked skulls: "It is very important to remember that the freedom of assembly and expression can be restricted to protect the rights and freedoms of others, including the freedom of thought, conscience and religion," adding "this applies to everyone in Europe including the millions of Europeans of Islamic faith, who were the main target of today’s shameful display of bigotry and intolerance."
Then I thought about the whole thing once again. We humans are more than clever, we are more than disingenuous. God is helpless in the face of our abilities to justify our actions, beyond the reach of reason. We can commit barbarities against our neighbours and then blame them for being on the wrong side of the baton. The more cynical readers will surely put a different spin on Freddie’s decision.  Could it not be that Freddie is thinking: ‘Now I have carte blanche on Islamic demos…  I can forbid them and have the police beat the A***h out of them. Nice. I can not be blamed for acting anything less than Solomon himself.’ Too far fetched.
Although Freddie is a rabid anti-Christian, it is clear he does adhere to some Christian principals: do onto others as you would do unto them.
I have been bullied into silence.

Nota Bene:

Some of the links are to sites which promote ideas which I do not support. It is up to you, the reader, to discern what is true, and sensible. It may not be clearly obvious, on first reading, what a site is promoting but it becomes clear from the links which it carries. Having said that, I will read almost anything because I trust my radar. Bu****t always smells.

The subjects which are the most emotion laden in our present society is homosexuality, Islam or more generally, religion, and racism. Writing on any one or all of these subjects is difficult – not least because the reader may misunderstand the position of the writer, purposefully, maliciously or even stupidly.


Häkämies, Jyri, the Minister of Defence in the Finnish government

September 9, 2007

Jyri Häkämies is Minister of Defence with a long record in the civil service and public sector travails. As a life-long member of the conservative National Coalition Party of Finland (Kokoomus) he should know better. He recently raised a storm in a teacup. Last week (Sept 9) on his visit to the USA, he raised a few eyebrows by summing up Finland”s three defence worries as being Russia, Russia, Russia.

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The EU is the best place for a bit of horse-trading

June 25, 2007

At the time Poland sought accession into the EU, I was skeptical about the communitarian spirit of the Polish state hence if I had bee in a position to make a decision I would not have  negotiated with Poland, at all. In casual discussions I had with friends during the accession negotiations (winter 2004) my position was oddly unbending. I thought that Poland would bring hard feelings to the surface whenever difficult negotiations on matters of substance were discussed: especially if there was any matter where Germany was concerned. The Danzig corridor, war reparations –  for both sides – to name just two.  My feeling was that the negotiations had shown how difficult it was to involve Poland in civilized horse trading. The last minute fiasco in which Poland threatened to scupper the whole accession process was unseemly having sought out the aid of the Iberian countries – and getting it albeit with cold feet on both sides. The whipping boy – er – red flag – for Poland is Germany. In a nutshell Poland’s problem is Germany.

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