“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for January 2009

Firefox And The Basics.

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Anyone writing programming code makes small mistakes and often those errors go unnoticed for ages, that normally is not a problem with small projects or a quick hack, but it is an issue when that software is released to the public as a viable alternative to Microsoft’s bloatware.

Such is the case of Firefox, the open source adversary of M$’s Internet Explorer.

At one time Firefox even looked like a light weight contender to take IE’s crown, but no longer, recent releases have been comparatively slow and worse still, subject to excessive memory leaks.

Tests showed that Firefox was not the fastest by a long stretch and had stability problems.

I found that out when Firefox 3.0.5 would suddenly consume 98% of processor time and 40% of memory after being left for a few hours with a few tabs open, under several light weight Linux distributions.

That’s not the way it should be. It shows lazy programming and an inability to test to destruction the code. Sloppy.

But there is good news, Firefox seems to be getting its act together the 3.1 beta 2 is great, it uses a lot less memory and has not hung on me yet.

Good job, Firefox, but please try harder.

Written by modernityblog

24/01/2009 at 01:47

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Watching the BNP, Only If You’ve Got a Strong Stomach.

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Those fine people at Unity Anti-fascist Forum have pointed me towards an anti-BNP channel on Youtube, GHDF1.

It contains undercover videos of BNP activities, neo-Nazi skinheads, blood & honour gigs and clear indication that the BNP wish to transform themselves from a bunch of Hitler loving thugs into something with a veneer of respectability.


Watch the clip on Copeland and the BNP, only if you’ve got a strong stomach

Written by modernityblog

23/01/2009 at 17:28

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Johnny on Obama.

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Some shrewd comments on Obama by Johnny Guitar:

“Reihan Salam is not the first person to recognise Obama’s relatively conservative agenda yet hearing such a thing voiced out loud remains something of a rarity, especially on British television where the new President’s policies are conveniently ignored in favour of endless hours of news coverage on the historic nature of him assuming power. There are a lot of people, not all of whom are politically naïve impressionable youngsters, that have over the course of the past year or two been swept away by the Obama bandwagon. The whiff of radicalism created by the mix of their candidate’s race and eight years of the Republicans in power will in the coming months ebb away when it is slowly realised that he is not the revolutionary some seem to have taken him for.”

Written by modernityblog

23/01/2009 at 04:01

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Eric and Press TV.

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Eric Lee was on Press TV’s Debate on Gaza War and they offer a video clip of it.

I haven’t looked at it yet, but what interested me was their insistence on forcing people to use Microsoft’s Silverlight, which a bit of a pain for all LInux users.

Or it was, the Debian Multimedia repository now has a copy of Moonlight which offers basic functionality to support Silverlight under Linux.

As I am currently using AntiX M7.5 and Gnome’s Epiphany browser I haven’t had a chance to play with Moonlight and Firefox just yet, so we’ll see.


Nope, that didn’t work, seems as if the Debian version supports Silverlight 1.0 but not Silverlight 2.0, which I’ll bet Press TV are using. I’ll have to check it out when I am next using Arch Linux, their Repos are nearly always up to date, unlike Debian’s.

Update 2:

There is a way to see the streams and I suppose suck it down that way, needs the bad and very bad Gstreamer codecs, but works under Totem, quality of the video is none too good tho.

Written by modernityblog

22/01/2009 at 04:05

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From Little Rock Nine to DC.

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More than enough will be written of Obama’s inauguration, so I think it is worthwhile to look behind these contemporary events and remember the past, in this particular instance, the Little Rock Nine:

“The Little Rock Nine were the nine African-American students involved in the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School. Their entrance into the school in 1957 sparked a nationwide crisis when Arkansas governor Orval Faubus, in defiance of a federal court order, called out the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the Nine from entering. President Dwight D. Eisenhower responded by federalizing the National Guard and sending in units of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division to escort the Nine into the school on September 25, 1957. The military presence remained for the duration of the school year.

Before transferring to Central, the Nine attended segregated schools for black students in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Carlotta Walls, Jefferson Thomas, and Gloria Ray attended Paul Laurence Dunbar Junior High School, while Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford, Thelma Mothershed, Terrence Roberts, Minnijean Brown, and Melba Pattillo attended Horace Mann High School.

On May 24, 1955, the Little Rock School Board adopted a plan for gradual integration, known as the Blossom Plan (also known as the Little Rock Phase Program). The plan called for desegregation to begin in the fall of 1957 at Central and filter down to the lower grades over the next six years. Under the plan, students would be permitted to transfer from any school where their race was in the minority, thus ensuring that the black schools would remain racially segregated, because many people believed that few, if any, white students would opt to attend predominantly black schools. Federal courts upheld the Blossom Plan in response to a lawsuit by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

On September 4, 1957, the Nine attempted to enter Central but were turned away by Arkansas National Guard troops called out by the governor. When Elizabeth Eckford arrived at the campus at the intersection of 14th and Park Streets, she was confronted by an angry mob of segregationist protestors. She attempted to enter at the front of the school but was directed back out to the street by the guardsmen. Walking alone, surrounded by the crowd, she eventually reached the south end of Park Street and sat down on a bench to wait for a city bus to take her to her mother’s workplace. Of her experience, Eckford later said, “I tried to see a friendly face somewhere in the mob—someone who maybe would help. I looked into the face of an old woman and it seemed a kind face, but when I looked at her again, she spat on me.” Others of the Nine arrived the same day and gathered at the south, or 16th Street, corner where they and an integrated group of local ministers who were there to support them were also turned away by guardsmen.

The Nine remained at home for more than two weeks, trying to keep up with their schoolwork as best they could. When the federal court ordered Gov. Faubus to stop interfering with the court’s order, Faubus removed the guardsmen from in front of the school. On September 23, the Nine entered the school for the first time. The crowd outside chanted, “Two, four, six, eight…We ain’t gonna integrate!” and chased and beat black reporters who were covering the events. The Little Rock police, fearful that they could not control the increasingly unruly mob in front of the school, removed the Nine later that morning. They once again returned home and waited for further information on when they would be able to attend school.

Calling the mob’s actions “disgraceful,” Eisenhower called out 1,200 members of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division—the “Screaming Eagles” of Fort Campbell, Kentucky—and placed the Arkansas National Guard under federal orders. On September 25, 1957, under federal troop escort, the Nine were escorted back into Central for their first full day of classes. Melba Pattillo later wrote, “After three full days inside Central, I know that integration is a much bigger word than I thought.”

After the Nine suffered repeated harassment—such as kicking, shoving, and name calling—the military assigned guards to escort them to classes. The guards, however, could not go everywhere with the students, and harassment continued in places such as the restrooms and locker rooms. After the 101st Airborne soldiers returned to Ft. Campbell in November, leaving the National Guard troops in charge, segregationist students intensified their efforts to compel the Nine to leave Central. The Little Rock Nine did not have any classes together. They were not allowed to participate in extracurricular activities at Central. Nevertheless, they returned to school every day to persist in obtaining an equal education.

Although all of the Nine endured verbal and physical harassment during their year at Central, Minnijean Brown was the only one to respond; she was first suspended and then expelled for retaliating against the daily torment by dropping her lunch tray with a bowl of chili on two white boys and, later, by referring to a white girl who hit her as “white trash.” Of her experience, she later said, “I just can’t take everything they throw at me without fighting back.” Brown moved to New York City and graduated from New Lincoln High School in 1959.

The other eight students remained at Central until the end of the school year. On May 27, 1958, Ernest Green became Central’s first black graduate. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. attended his graduation ceremony. Green later told reporters, “It’s been an interesting year. I’ve had a course in human relations first hand.” The other eight, like their counterparts across the district, were forced to attend other schools or take correspondence classes the next year when voters opted to close all four of Little Rock’s high schools to prevent further desegregation efforts.”

Read more here, here and here.

Written by modernityblog

20/01/2009 at 00:31

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Tony Blair, Hamas and the Western Media.

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David Adams asks the right questions:

“West turned blind eye to Hamas until Israel hit back.

Why did rocket attacks from Gaza not register on the political or media radar screen before the current offensive,? asks David Adams

I AGREE entirely with the anti-Israeli lobby on one point. The invasion of Gaza, and the resultant death, destruction and misery, need never have happened.

Between the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in September 2005 and the start of the offensive last December 27th, Hamas and other Islamic fundamentalist groups launched about 5,600 indiscriminate rocket and mortar attacks on southern Israel.

Yet the international community stood by and did nothing. Where was the UN during this time (unfortunately, this is a frequently asked question where that organisation and conflict zones are concerned)? What did it do to try to stop the attacks? Goodness knows it had plenty of bargaining power if it had chosen to use it.

Then there is the western media, the vast majority of which (most particularly, and vitally, in television news and current affairs) hadn’t bothered reporting on the three-year barrage of rockets from Gaza into southern Israel.

Why was this, if, as they rightly tell us, stability in the Middle East is of global importance? After not having informed the public of thousands of Hamas terrorist attacks over the previous years, television news simply continued in the same vein, content from December 27th to present the Israeli offensive as though it had come entirely out of the blue.

It was only towards the end of the first week that the rocket attacks finally did begin to get a mention, but only in the context of a comparative headcount of the dead and injured on either side to stress how “disproportionate” was the Israeli response.

By then it hardly mattered: the damage was done, the Israelis had already been painted as the bloodthirsty villains of the piece.

Written by modernityblog

18/01/2009 at 18:28

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Random Samples.

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More random samples from the Guardian, this time from Elizabeth Wurtzel’s article.

Some 1087 comments of which approximately 159 were deleted, again we can’t be sure as to exactly why they were deleted but the article is essentially questioning the origins of the vitriol aimed at Israel, so it is a fair pick for our sampling.

That’s over 14% of comments deleted, of course we cannot be 100% sure as to why, but I suspect that the theme of the article has something to do with it.

Regrettably, we won’t know until the Guardian openly classifies why they delete particular comments, for example, for racial abuse etc., and we would need to compare these articles to other contentious political issues. That way we could see if a higher percentage of comments gets deleted when the article is perceived to be pro-Israeli, pro-Israel or just not another “bash Israel” screed, which are becoming increasingly common in some broad sheets.

Greater than 14% seems high.

Update: This is very relevant:

“Anglo-Jewry is in the middle of the worst outbreak of antisemitism in Britain since the Community Security Trust started keeping records a quarter of a century ago.

Since the start of the Israeli offensive into Gaza on December 27, more than 150 incidents across the country have been recorded.

CST director of communications Mark Gardner said: “Antisemites are using an overseas conflict as an excuse for their racism, and this should be clearly condemned by all sectors of society. In particular, we are seeing the inevitable antisemitic impact of many years of anti-Israel hysteria, in addition to an enraged response to TV and newspaper images of this conflict.”

Written by modernityblog

18/01/2009 at 01:49

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