بلاگ کی سالگرہ

آج میرے بلاگ کو تین سال ہو گئے ہیں-

آج میرے بلاگ کو تین سال ہو گئے ہیں-

Today marks three years since I started this blog on Blogspot. I didn’t post muh the first few months and the blog took off only around November 2002. Since then, there have been many changes. I blog a lot less than I used to, from a few posts a day at the peak to 1—2 posts every week now. I also post less about politics now. It’s not that I am less interested in politics, it’s just that I am frustrated and I don’t want all my political posts to sound like rants.

One reason for my blogging less is that I have become more involved in other stuff. I am a daddy blogger too, i.e. I have a weblog where I post about Michelle’s antics and pictures etc. In fact, that blog is updated more often than this one. Plus I have gotten involved in a small but growing community of Urdu bloggers. We are trying to setup resources for the use of Urdu on the Internet especially for blogging. The latest development is the setting up of a new website at Urduweb.org. We are now working to move our different Urdu-related resources to this site.

The Twilight Samurai

The Twilight Samurai is a very different samurai movie. I rate it 8/10.

The Twilight Samurai is a good movie. It is very different from the regular samurai fare. Its main character is much more human and the movie depicts his hard life as a low-level samurai barely surviving very well. There is also a much better depiction of the feudal system prevalent there in the 19th century, unlike for example “The Last Samurai.” What really makes this movie good is the plot about personal life, his daughters and his love interest.

It’s worth watching; I am rating it 8/10.

Treo Blogging

I forgot to mention that the previous entry was written on my new Treo 650. Typing on its small keyboard takes a little getting used to.

I typed the previous post using the standard Movable Type interface in the Blazer web browser. That is not the best idea since the MT interface is not good for the small PDA screen. I also ran into a character limit (2000?) in the text box for entry body in Blazer.

I am exploring other options for blogging on the Treo and would appreciate any suggestions.

Let’s test if I can post a photo I took from my Treo. The “Upload File” thing doesn’t do anything in Blazer and the Javascript buttons on top of the Entry Body textarea don’t appear at all. Does this thing have Javascript?

Postscript: Publishing an entry in Blazer works but the pings are not sent because of the way page refresh is used by MT.

Dell Trouble

In the last couple of months, my Dell Inspiron laptop has had trouble with the processor fan, AC adapter, motherboard and hard disk.

I have had some horrendous luck recently with my Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop which I bought in 2003. I had heard stories of them failing but mine was doing fine until a couple of months ago.

At that time, the computer started switching off whenever I was running Matlab or doing any video encoding. I was able to turn it back on after 10—15 minutes. It was a fan problem and since I had bought 3 years at-home service, the processor fan was replaced within a few days.

Then a couple of weeks ago, the AC adaptor cord started acting up. I had to wiggle it to get it to work. That was replaced last week.

A week ago, the computer started turning off immediately after switching it on. Dell Technical Support found out that one of the memory slots on the motherboard was bad. So the whole motherboard was replaced on Thursday.

Then the mother of all problems happened. Booting up, I got a registry error. Then Chkdsk was run automatically on the next reboot. It found some file system errors but Windows XP refused to start giving an error about missing registry hive. I found how to fix that on the Microsoft website, but then Windows complained about another missing file. I made an Ultimate Boot CD for Windows and was able to check the contents of the hard disk. Some files and folders were corrupt or missing while others seemed ok. A call to Dell Technical Support was useless since he wanted me to install stuff on the hard disk which would have made data recovery impossible. After trying the Ontrack EasyRecovery software and a few other tricks, I decided that professional data recovery was needed. So my hard disk is with data recovery right now and I am having trouble coping without my laptop.

Unlike the complaints I have heard about Dell Support, I had a good experience. I did not have to wait too long on hold and the guys had reasonable accents. However, I am extremely disappointed in Dell quality. In addition to the stuff I mentioned above, the laptop battery lasts only 50 minutes now instead of 2.5 hours, but its warranty was only for a year. It seems that Dell’s Quality people have their work cut out for them.

یوم والد مبارک

یوم والد مبارک ابو۔

ابو آپ کو یوم والد مبارک ہو۔

میرے ابو دنیا کے بہترین والدوں میں سے ہیں۔ ابھی پچھلے سال تک میرے والد دنیا کے بہترین باپ تھے مگر ایک بچے کی پیدائش سے ان کا اعزاز چھن گیا۔ آپ لوگوں کو مجھے معاف کرنا پڑے گا چونکہ باپ کی حیثیت سے یہ میرا پہلا یوم والد ہے۔

Happy father’s day, Dad.

My dad is one of the best dads in the world. To be precise, he used to be the best dad in the world until last year when some punk became a dad and snatched that title. (You’ll have to forgive me, this is my first Father’s day as a dad.)

Reaction to Criticism

The Bush administration responds to Amnesty International’s cataloging of abuses in Gitmo and beyond by tarnishing Amnesty’s name. The Musharraf regime saves Pakistan’s reputation by not allowing Mukhtaran Bibi, a gang rape victim, to go abroad.

Amnesty recently came out with a report detailing the US practices violating human rights in Guantanamo and beyond. Most conservative and Republic commentary has focused on the word “gulag” used by Irene Khan in the press conference instead of the torture and other activities of the US government. Here is Bush expressing his opinion about the report.

I’m aware of the Amnesty International report, and it’s absurd. […] It seemed like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of — and the allegations — by people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble — that means not tell the truth. And so it was an absurd report.

Cheney:

Dick Cheney said Monday he was offended by Amnesty International’s condemnation of the United States for what it called “serious human rights violations” at Guantanamo Bay.

“For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don’t take them seriously.”

“Guantanamo’s been operated, I think, in a very sane and sound fashion by the U.S. military. … I think these people have been well treated, treated humanely and decently,” Cheney said. “Occasionally there are allegations of mistreatment.

“But if you trace those back, in nearly every case, it turns out to come from somebody who has been inside and been released … to their home country and now are peddling lies about how they were treated.”

On the other side of the world, via Dad, Mukhtaran Bibi is not being allowed to move about freely while the people who raped her have been freed by the courts.

Mukhtaran, the Meerwala gang-rape victim, has accused the government of forcibly restricting her movement so that she could not meet her lawyers and sympathizers.

[…] Mukhtaran said some federal government officials had recently visited her and advised her not to talk to journalists and rights activists if she wanted the government to be on her back. Their logic was that her media exposure painted a bad image of the country in the international community. “No one will have to seek help of the media and the rights activists if police and courts in the country dispense justice without any prejudice,” she remarked.

And to save the national reputation, she is not allowed to go abroad, after all she got the invitation from that “disgusting” and “absurd” organization, Amnesty International.

The interior ministry has placed Mukhtaran Mai’s name on the Exit Control List (ECL).

Sources in the ministry told Dawn on Friday that Mukhtaran Mai had been scheduled to leave for London in a day or two on an invitation from the Amnesty International.

“Her name has been placed on the ECL with a directive to the Federal Investigation Agency to ensure compliance,” an officer of the FIA said.

The official said the government had taken the decision on reports that her visit could ‘tarnish’ the image of the country abroad.

Wow! Her going abroad and talking about what happened to her would tarnish the country’s reputation but the gang rape and acquittal of the rapists didn’t?

Don’t Bush and Cheney wish they could do freely what Musharraf, the “enlightened moderate,” so easily can?

POSTSCRIPT: Chapati Mystery is right and Kristof is wrong. This is what Musharraf is. He is doing what dictators do.

“Collapse: Why Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed” By Jared Diamond

Overall, Diamond’s latest book lacks the strength of Guns, Germs and Steel. With statements about getting to things later laced throughout the text, he seems rushed. His discussions about societies that executed face-plants are quite interesting, but the picture he …

Overall, Diamond’s latest book lacks the strength of Guns, Germs and Steel. With statements about getting to things later laced throughout the text, he seems rushed. His discussions about societies that executed face-plants are quite interesting, but the picture he paints of the underlying forces leaves something to be desired. Given that my research relates to this line of thought, many of his observations were not new for me. Injunctions to curb and halt population growth, prevent deforestation and avoid farming marginal land did not surprise me. Most failed civilizations deforested marginal land to feed unrestrained population expansion.

After identifying the positive feedback loop, one must identify the governing negative feedback loop(s) that failed in each instance. It is not sufficient, for example, to tell Brazilian soybean farmers with growing families to stop slash and burn agriculture in the Amazon because their new plots of marginal land will be exhausted in 5 years. They have families to feed, and the ever-growing Chinese population is willing to pay for soy. While informing the farmers might help, changes in societal and economic signals would prove more effective. For instance, strong societal traditions of small families working ancestral plots of land discourages slash and burn agriculture, and placing a high economic value on the rainforest (natural capital) discourages destroying it. Diamond does not explore such signals at length. He repeatedly mentions the importance of adjusting social values but stops short of discussing the important question of how.