Wednesday, October 24, 2007

God is a Republican, Santa is a Democrat

I find myself least busy at exam times. i shut down - say no to kottu-parties, meetings, etc. and stay home with the noble intention of 'studying'. Instead, i find myself drifting away to useless blog-readeing, blogging, and all those books I haven't read..

one of them is Parliament of Whores by P.J O'Rourke. it's a brilliantly funny book and here's a great quote :
I have only one firm belief about the American political system, and that is this: God is a Republican and Santa Claus is a Democrat.

God is an elderly or, at any rate, middle-aged male, a stern fellow, patriarchal rather than paternal and a great believer in rules and regulations. He holds men strictly accountable for their actions. He has little apparent concern for the material well-being of the disadvantaged. He is politically connected, socially powerful and holds the mortgage on literally everything in the world. God is difficult. God is unsentimental. It is very hard to get invited into God's heavenly
country club.

Santa Claus is another matter. He's cute. He's nonthreatening. He's always cheerful. And he loves animals. He may know who's been naughty and who's been nice, but he never does anything about it. He gives everyone everything they want without thought of a quid pro quo. He works hard for charities, and he's famously generous to the poor. Santa Claus is preferable to God in every way but one: There is no such thing as Santa Claus

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bandulanomics : How to control Cost of Living.

Now why didn’t anyone think of this..

From the Daily Mirror:

Prison sentences without bail will be included in the new Consumer Affairs Act (CAA) due to be presented as an “Emergency Act” to Parliament soon.

The government announced these fresh measures yesterday in a bid tocurtail the rising cost of living by introducing “teeth” to the Act to prevent companies from arbitrarily increasing prices without prior permission from the government. While still in the formulation process, Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Bandula Gunawardena pledged to give more power to the revamped Act and ensure that legal measures can be taken against companies involved in production and sale of essential items. [..]

“We are working with the Prime Minister and officials from the Legal department to make sure that this Act does not just “bark” but has the power to “bite.” [..]

It was unclear what products would be included, but the Minister revealed that in addition to the fines that are presently imposed, prison sentences without bail could be imposed on the offenders.

The Minister asked people to notify fax number 2300516 if there was any scarcity. [link]

Once notified, the ministry will immediately email back all the necessary items.

It’s great to see this kind of creativity from a government minister, everyone’s been wrong all along. It’s not Oil stupid, and definitely not over spending or printing of money. It’s been those evil evil companies producing ‘essential items’. Now if we put them in jail – problem solved.

The only additional requirement, (as the minister has subtly articulated above) is to employ dogs to train the act to ‘bite’, not just ‘bark’. Assistance from the Prime Minister will be sought for this purpose.

As his next project, the Minister aims to eradicate poverty by shooting down poor people.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Shouting Match

With all the hype about Web 2.0, user-created content, 'technology empowering democratic participation' stuff.. you find only a few dissenting voices.

they ask :
Do you really need to read about the latest celebrity scandal or wacky animal antics? Aren't you sick of having to digg through articles until you find something that is actually important?

Sure, the "average user" may have reddit and thought it fit to post, but why should you care? Would you trust just anyone to fix your car? Or to operate on your heart? Or to write your list of rhetorical questions? No! Then why trust the masses to filter your links?

hmm interesting...

What’s free in free education?

Since the dead C.W.W. Kannangara recently celebrated his birthday, I thought I’ll recycle an old blogpost I never quite completed..
Sri Lanka is said to have a free education policy, the state providing education at primary, secondary, and undergraduate levels free of charge. But is that really what is meant by the term ‘free education’ ? after all its Sinhalese equivalent is ‘Nidahas Adhyapanaya’.

Now, the word ‘Nidahas’ – as people who speak Sinhalese would know – is a reference to freedom and not price. (See Free Software for a similar analogy)

That, I believe is the spirit in which education must be approached in this country. Instead of focusing on the provision of education, the government must shift its focus on making sure that education is received.

Sadly due to visionless and insecure set of politicians, and an even more insecure set of ‘undergraduates’, the freedom to learn in this country – at least when it comes to higher education – is non-existent. There is no real ‘free education’ in Sri Lanka.

Each year more than 200,000 odd Sri Lankans sit for the cursed A-Level examinations, out of which a bit more than 50% of come out on top, all of whom are eligible for University entry. Yet the 15 state universities in Sri Lanka can only accommodate roughly about 16000 of those students. A pathetic 14 % of those who are eligible.

Few who couldn’t get into the 14% find places in the professional courses, or external degree programs. Those who can afford it go abroad, to US, UK, Australia, India, Malaysia and increasingly places like Belarus, Bangladesh and China (yes, china. we got so hooked up on blaming everything on the ‘open market’, that in some ways we are now more communist than china! take that.) Still others who could afford private colleges here attend them, severely limiting their choice of courses.

The rest of them are told to farm, the Mahinda Chintana would give fertilizer for 350. After all we are an ‘agricultural country’, our ancestors have been doing it for 2500 years, and it also boosts the ‘national economy’ and help our country become ‘self-sustained’ by 2010. Joy.

Reality though, bites.

Some time ago, I was quoted by a friend of mine on a Daily Mirror Article on Higher Ed. Reform (this is sort of me):

“I feel that you need to let private players into the market, and actively promote them via tax holidays, provision of land etc. I also feel a public private partnership model where existing public universities become affiliated with certain private colleges like the BIT system should be adopted. This is what's happening in India. Its win-win situations where more people get higher education opportunities.”

Now, I’m a tad bit misquoted here. I never mentioned BIT, which is an external degree. I also didn’t explicitly mention PPP’s, a conept I’m usually not fond of.

I am more interested in seeing existing universities (in addition what they are already doing) be accreditation bodies and award not external degrees, but internal degrees with no difference being made whether students are internally studying in the university or not.

That’s what’s happening in India and here in colleges like APIIT, ACBT, ANC, etc. with internal degrees of Monash, Staffordshire, and Westminster offered here. Surely that can happen for local universities, and if these institutes are able to measure up to the standards of say, Monash, they can’t be far off from say um, Sabaragumwa.

This I’m afraid is the only way of increasing access, we can’t wait for the bright day when ‘corruption would stop, mismanagement would stop, and state become efficient’ like quasi-socialists or people in the JVP-backed ‘Antharey’ feels.

Its time to step out from moronic idealistic beliefs and face reality – higher education in this country sucks. Not enough people can access it. Just ask the President and plethora of ministers who send their kids to universities in the UK.

I won’t quarrel with Kannangara, he made a policy that might have suited his time. What’s clear now is that it’s no longer suited, certainly not in higher education. Changes quite simply must come and if anyone (or any party) has the balls to make it an issue, I think it can be done.

Time to put 'freedom' back in 'free' education.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Colbert for America

(Pic from AFP

I'm still for Ron Paul. But hey, 'President Colbert' sounds much better, besides he's not just running for president He's America ..and so can you.

NEW YORK (AP) — Stephen Colbert announced his candidacy for president on "The Colbert Report" on Tuesday night, tossing his satirical hat into the ring of an already crowded race.

"I shall seek the office of the President of the United States," announced Colbert on his Comedy Central show, as red, white and blue balloons fell around him.

Colbert had recently satirized the coyness of would-be presidential candidates by refusing to disclose whether he would seek the country's highest office — a refusal that often came without any prompting.

Shortly before making the announcement, Colbert appeared on "The Daily Show" (the show which spawned Colbert's spin-off) and played cagy, claiming he was only ready to consider a White House bid. He entered the studio set pulled by a bicycle pedaled by Uncle Sam and quickly pulled out a bale of hay and a bottle of beer to show that he was "an Average Joe."

Colbert said his final decision would be announced on a "more prestigeous show," which turned out to be his own.

"After nearly 15 minutes of soul-searching, I have heard the call," said Colbert. [link]

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Convenient untruths: Al Gore’s 9 Lies on climate change

Al Gore, the self-made poster boy for the OMG global warming! Movement has to face some ‘inconvenient truths’ himself, when a British high court judge ruled that some ‘truths’ in Gore’s Oscar winning documentary are actually convenient lies.

From the BBC:

The judge said nine statements in the film were not supported by mainstream scientific consensus.

The nine errors alleged by the judge included:

Mr Justice Burton told London's High Court that distributing the film without the guidance to counter its "one-sided" views would breach education laws. [..]

Mr Gore's assertion that a sea-level rise of up to 20 feet would be caused by melting of ice in either West Antarctica or Greenland "in the near future". The judge said this was "distinctly alarmist" and it was common ground that if Greenland's ice melted it would release this amount of water - "but only after, and over, millennia".

Mr Gore's assertion that the disappearance of snow on Mount Kilimanjaro in East Africa was expressly attributable to global warming - the court heard the scientific consensus was that it cannot be established the snow recession is mainly attributable to human-induced climate change.

Mr Gore's reference to a new scientific study showing that, for the first time, polar bears had actually drowned "swimming long distances - up to 60 miles - to find the ice". The judge said: "The only scientific study that either side before me can find is one which indicates that four polar bears have recently been found drowned because of a storm." [Link]

Global Warming enthusiasts like to ride on this apparent ‘scientific consensus’ on global warming, but According to the last UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) the ‘scientific consensus’ is that it is ‘very likely' that climate change is caused by human activity’ that’s it. All the fantastic CG effects of flooded Manhattan and Greenland melting like ice cream in Al Gore’s documentary are not based on any scientific consensus, at best it’s just science fiction bordering on Al Gore fantasies.

But hey, that’s all you need for a Nobel prize nowadays..

..these Norwegians!