February 2008

And now for somewhere completely different

by Limbic on February 29, 2008

 The Financial Times has great story about that profoundly strange and beautiful country, Japan:

In Japan, the trees are blue. So are the traffic lights, even though they look decidedly green to uninitiated outsiders. The Japanese do have a word for green, but when it comes to foliage and traffic signals, blue is the preferred term.

Blue trees are not the only initially puzzling thing about Japan. In a hundred tiny gestures and assumptions, Japan can seem just slightly out of kilter. When Japanese people refer to themselves, they point to their nose, not their heart. Many restaurants have no chairs. The Japanese count in units of ten thousand, making the population of Japan one-thousand-two-hundred-and-fifty ten thousands, not 125 million as you might have thought. The calendar is different, too. Circular not linear, time tracks each imperial reign – I am sending this dispatch, not from the year 2008, but from Heisei 20.

These are superficial differences to be sure, tiny variations of the sort found in many places a western-centric observer might consider ”odd”. But even experienced Japanologists can find Japan a topsy-turvy place. Lafcadio Hearn, an Irish-Greek who pitched up in Japan in 1890, only a decade after the country opened to the west, wrote: ”The outward strangeness of things in Japan produces a queer thrill impossible to describe – a feeling of weirdness which comes to us only with the perception of the totally unfamiliar.”

I think I may have found the name for that strange breed of (mostly) men that find themselves in far flung places, marry locals and end their days there after going native: Lafcadios .

I have met many of these people. They are very often hybrid  Third Culture Kids that have grown up to be global nomads. They wander the world, falling in love with a succession of strange countries and peoples, eventually settling somewhere very far from where they started out. They are the “local foreigner” you find in may small towns or the source of red hair in a remote Nicaraguan village.

Look out for these people next time you find yourself far from home. They often have fascinating stories, and now they have  a name too….

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Podcasts

This American Life [ Website / iTunes / RSS feed ]

The joy of my Podcast life is the peerless weekly podcast of the award-winning radio show “This American Life.” First-person stories and short fiction pieces that are touching, funny, and surprising. Hosted by Ira Glass, from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio. In mp3 and updated Mondays.

Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett [ Website ]

“American Public Media’s Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett is public radio’s weekly conversation about religion, meaning, ethics, and ideas. Speaking of Faith does not always have religion itself as a subject. Week after week, it grapples with themes of civic life — asking how perspectives of faith might distinctively inform and illuminate our public reflection. The Speaking of Faith podcast contains each week’s program in its entirety and is updated every Thursday.

I am at best a secular Buddhist but pretty much an atheist yet I still love this brilliant show. It has destroyed my prejudice against “religious people” and introduced me to to some magnificent public figures.

Some recent episodes of note are:

Radio Lab with Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich [ Website ]

“On Radio Lab, science meets culture and information sounds like music. Each episode of Radio Lab® is an investigation — a patchwork of people, sounds, stories and experiences centered around One Big Idea. Hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, Radio Lab is produced by WNYC public radio.”

Zencast [ Website ]

Beautiful and brilliant lectures on Buddhism and the Buddhist life. Look out for Gil Fronsdal and the magnificent master, Thich Nhat Hanh

The Skeptics Guide to the Universe [Website]

The Skeptics Guide to the Universe is a weekly Podcast talkshow produced by the New England Skeptical Society (NESS) in association with the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) : discussing the latest news and topics from the world of the paranormal, fringe science, and controversial claims from a scientific point of view.

London School of Economics Public Lectures and Events [Website]

Some great content offered up at the LSE in the form of recorded lectures and talks, often with transcripts.

Streams and Radio Stations

David Byrne radio [ Website ]

My hero and role model Kevin Kelly explains:

When it came to music, I was an old fogie. I had a shelf full of Bob Dylan, Allman Brothers, Brian Eno, and more Bob Dylan. You know, old guy’s music. I actually liked a lot of the new popular music I overheard, I was just not up on it. Didn’t know what was what. Recently I’ve found [a] tool to keep me current with great contemporary music that wasn’t just top 40. My iPod is now full of some pretty hip music, which I thoroughly enjoy.

…For one or two days a month I queue up David Byrne’s Radio Station on the web and listen to his two-hour loop of new, wonderful, delicious tunes. Rock-star Byrne is a professional musical pioneer, admirably eclectic in his taste, yet astutely discriminating at the same time. Over years of listening to all kinds of music — experimental, indie, international, fringe, classical, pop — he’s heard enough to make some great recommendations. Given his reputation he is constantly asked what he is listening to. In answer he has generously turned his play list into a streaming audio station. When you tune in, you are hearing the music he plays in his office.

Each Radio David Byrne playlist runs a few hours long before it repeats; it keeps cycling the whole month. It’s kind of like listening to a 2-hour album over and over again.This gives you a chance to “master” the new music you are hearing. Past playlists have focused on “Icelandic Pop,” “Movie sound tracks,” “Opera highlights,” or, my favorite, “Eclectic Stuff.” This month (Feb 08) the theme is “African Fusion Pop” — Byrne’s favorites from two decades of exploring modern African hits.

I listen to each list for a few days as I work, slowly accumulating my favorites. There is a handy Amazon link near the tunes available for download, which makes adding a new song to your own collection a no-brainer. Or you can copy the metadata and hunt for it on iTunes or E-Music, etc. Byrne earns a few cents for each download, which keeps his bandwidth going. Over several years of listening a few hours per month I’ve gotten a great education in contemporary music. I know Dylan has a satellite radio show, but really, more legends should do this — stream what you love.

Besides the fact that Byrne’s Radio station has introduced me to fantastic artists (sometimes preempting my kids!), I also like the fact that it is demonstrating a workable, legal (at the moment) model for music exploration: Expert + Sharing + Purchase.

Proton Radio [Website]

The absolute best dance music radio station out there bar none. Superb intelligent dance mixes and for paid subscribers a permanent archive of mixes.

Audio Blogs

Public Radio Redux [ Website ]

“There’s way too much audio in the world to catch everything that comes out of your clock radio. Public Radio Redux shines a spotlight on stories that makes you turn and look at your speakers. It’s a curated list, a place to make comments, and a blog about making radio. Consider it the espresso in your daily public radio fix.”

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The Combat Consultant’s Toolkit

by Limbic on February 26, 2008

Welcome to the Combat Consultants Toolkit. This is a list of tools and services used by Combat Consultants. This is our “kit”, our battle tested set of old dependable’s . Some of the tools and software are not free (and in some cases downright expensive) but they tend to be either the best in their class or at the very least robust, dependable and secure. In some cases – like the Office Suite – it is used for convenience, great features and the fact it is a global standard.

Computer and Hardware

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MacBook Pro running OS X (Leopard) and Windows XP (via Parallels Desktop for Mac)

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Samsung D900 Mobile Phone – Doubles up as a Dictaphone. See this post for details.

Office Suite

Word Processing, Presentations, Spreadsheets

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Microsoft Office 2007 (Win / Mac)

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Google Apps (Web)

E-mail & Calendaring

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DataGate Hosted Exchange (Web)
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Gmail & Google Mail for Domains (Web)
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Microsoft Outlook (Win) – Primary e-mail and calendar client

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Mail.app (Mac)
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Thunderbird with Lightning (Mac / Win, Free) – Also see my list of essential Thunderbird add-ons.

Personal Task Management

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MyLifeOrganized (Win)

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Omnifocus (Mac)


Project Management

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Basecamp (Web)
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MindManager Pro 7
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JVC Gantt Pro MindManger add-in for Gantt charts

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JIRA from Atlassian

Notes and Knowledge Management

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Confluence Enterprise Wiki (Web – Free, personal license) – Corporate power free for individuals

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Wikidpad Personal Wiki (Win, Free) – superb personal wiki

Image Database & Management

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Flickr Pro (Web, $24 per annum) – great blogging aid and image database

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Fotki Pro (Web, $30 per annum) – great for albums

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iPhoto 8 – (Mac, usually bundled with Mac computers)
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FastStone Image Viewer (Win, Free) – It is faster than anything else on Windows and has tons of features including image editing

Web browsing

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Firefox 3 – (free, Win/Linux/Mac) – This is my primary browser. Please see my Essential Firefox Plug-ins and Greasemonkey scripts lists.
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Opera 9.26 – (Win/Mac/Linux, free) – I still adore the magnificent, memory efficient and blazing fast Opera

Billing and Invoicing

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Blinksale (Web) – Superb invoicing application

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E-Junkie – best online store

Desktop Blogging Application

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Windows Live Writer (Win. Free) – The best blogging client by far. Superb.

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MarsEdit (Mac)

Blogging Platform

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WordPress (Web, Free) – The best blogging platform. Simple, extendable through plug-ins, lovely themes and extremely easy to install

Online BackUp / Online Storage

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Amazon S3 (Web) – Amazon’s infinite hard disk is dirt cheap, fast and generally superb

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MediaMax (web) – Prior to Amazon, this was my web storage solution of choice

Technical Library

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Safari Library from Safari Books Online has unlimited access to the entire safari catalogue plus hundreds more. If I acquire e-books in PDF format, I upload them to my Confluence wiki.

Instant Messaging

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Adium (Mac, Free) – Superb multi-protocol Instant Messaging Client

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Pidgin (Win, Free) – Adium’s Windows brother. Lean and stable multi-protocol Instant Messaging Client

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Meebo (Web, Free) – Online multi-protocol Instant Messaging Client

Clipboard Recording

Text Shortcuts

Anti-Virus

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Nod 32 (Win) – The best AV of them all without doubt. Tiny, fast and never failed to detect a virus

FTP

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Filezilla (Win, Free)
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Transmit (Mac) – The best Mac FTP client.

Encryption & Passwords

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Keepass Password Safe (Win, Free)
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Truecrypt (Win/Mac/Linux, Free)
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1password (Mac)

PDF reading

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FoxIt Reader (Win, Free)

File management

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Pathfinder (Mac)

Screen Grabs

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Skitch (Mac, Free) – Amazing little screen snapping and touch-up tool

Screen recording

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Camtasia Studio (Win, expensive but superb)

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Camstudio (free, Win)

Folder Synchronisation

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Foldershare (Win/Mac)

Personal CRM & Contact Management

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Highrise (Web)
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LinkedIn (Web)
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Plaxo (Web)

Book Inventory

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LibraryThing (Web)

RSS / OPML

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Newsgator (Web)

Images Editing

ImageWell

Diagramming

Visio

Podcasting & Sound

Garageband

To add

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Kosovo Articles round-up

by Limbic on February 26, 2008

Julia Gorin questions whether Kosovo is an Islamist beachhead in Frontpage magazine .  Her long article on Kosovo – Ending the Balkan quagmire – is required reading if you value seeing both sides of an issue.

David McWilliams explains how How Serbia lost out in the EU numbers game in the Irish Independent

Marcus Gee warns us not to jump on the Kosovo bandwagon in the Globe and Mail

The Real Story Behind Kosovo’s Independence is revealed at Alternet

Abdus Sattar Ghazali speculates about The Oil factor in Kosovo independence at Urkunet

Justin Raimondo looks at the topic of Kosovo, the Kremlin, and the Kurds over at Antiwar.com

Two female looters filmed during last weeks city centre post-protest riots have been identified and arrested

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Kosovo Shmosovo

by Limbic on February 22, 2008

I have received a number of emails from friends curious to know the inside track on the Kosovo situation from their man on the ground in Serbia.

The problem is that when one is very close to the situation, and are disinterest enough to be able to see the complexities, it become very hard to summarise the story for those watching through the grossly distorted lenses of the infotainment industry (aka the media).

Even though I am not a Serbs, I am emotionally exhausted and drained by the whole topic. I just want it to be over now so the country can move on. That said I owe it to many of you to give you some insights that I have gleaned living in Serbia and having seen the situation close-up for three years. This is my position statement on Kosovo:

The Serbs are rightfully furious. Kosovo has, indeed, been illegally stolen from them by means of gross and illegal violence (the bombing) . They have been bullied by a strongly biased anti-Serb EU and America that cannot admit that they were duped by the terrorist KLA into illegally bombing a sovereign state in defence of Ethnic Nationalist separatists who mostly staged a humanitarian crisis (I say mostly becuase there is no doubt Milosevic’s forces did commit at least some atrocities). The EU and US are violating long-standing and fundamental principles of International Law and diplomacy – Sovereign Equality and Inviolable borders – two pillars of modern stability since World War 2.

States recognising Kosovo insisted that it is not a precedent because it is a “special case”. The reasoning is that supposed crimes committed by the Serbian government against Kosovars have removed Serbia’s right to govern this part of its own country. This reasoning is baseless in law and ignores the fact that those crimes were massively and deliberately exaggerated by orders of magnitude.

Additionally the appalling treatment of minorities by Albanians is ignored. Serbian, Roma and Gorani minorities have suffered much more ethnic violence and deracination than Albanians. By that logic of the EU/US they Albanians have ruled themselves out of governing the province too.

The democratic and pluralist Serbia of 2008 is being punished today for the actions of a deposed and dead dictator, himself an Ethnic Nationalist, acting without proper mandate in a country that violently opposed to him. It is like punishing the people of Iraq for the actions of Saddam Hussein.

The reasons and justifications for NATO intervening in Kosovo in 1999 were utterly baseless and illegal.

The reasons and justifications offered by the EU/US for granting Kosovo independence today are also baseless and illegal. They are desperate to be done with the mess they have created in Kosovo. They are also desperate not to establish a precedent – even though that is exactly exactly what Kosovo is: The intellectual, moral and legal justification that every separatist region of the world was waiting for.

With all that said, here is the shocker: I support Kosovo independence.

As a pro-Serb I find myself in the strange situation of being outraged by the way in which Kosovo was forced from Serbia but at the same time convinced that the best thing may now be to just let it go and move on. If the EU were trying to force Serbia to integrate Kosovo there would be war. When I ask Serbs the simple questions: “Do you really want to have over a million hostile Albanians as citizens of Serbia?” the answer is resoundingly “No”.

I believe you would have 500 year problem if you forced Kosovo back into Serbia. There would be massive community tensions, possibly insurrection and destabilising war. I believe Kosovo is economically untenable and would be a burden to the State of Serbia. I think there is better way, and this is what it is. Since the the people of Kosovo and the people of Serbia will be neighbours forever, some sort of accommodation must eventually be reached. I believe the best chance of that is when both regions are more prosperous and borders are completely open: both in the EU, for example.

If it were done to me (and it is not of course, I support the people of Serbia in what they decide) this is what I would do if I were president of Serbia.

I would endorse full independence and international recognition for the State of Kosovo with a commitment to mutual social and economic development, with the following conditions:

  • Financial compensation to be paid to Serbia for the illegal and wrongful bombing by NATO in 1999
  • EU sponsored recompense for the 400bn of Serbian State assets in Kosovo
  • Full acknowledgement that putative Serbian crimes in Kosovo – and the justifications for the bombing – were massively over stated
  • Full recognition that the Republic of Serbia is surrendering its rightful sovereignty over its province of Kosovo in the interests of peace and stability and with the understanding that its sovereignty and territory is henceforth fixed forever
  • Immediate fast-track accession status for Serbia AND Kosovo into the EU
  • Kosovo to remain a sovereign state until at least 2030, with no option for unifying with neighbours or other secessionist territories.
  • UN/NATO funded peacekeeping mission to guarantee the safety of minorities (Gorani, Roma and Serbs) until 2030 or until the Serbia Parliament agrees to end the mission.
  • World Heritage Status for remaining Serbian Churches and monasteries with permanent guards and protection
  • Harsh hate crime legislation to be part of the Kosovo law guaranteeing safety for all against ethnic violence and sectarian oppression
  • Right of return and/or full restitution for deracinated Serbs, Roma and Gorani
  • 20 year energy and mineral rights concessions for the Republic or Serbia in Kosovo mines
  • Guaranteed investments and structural loans to bootstrap Sustainable Economic Development (Business Process Outsourcing, Renewable Energy, Hi Tech Low Infrastructure Industries)
  • That the EU funds a full transport and infrastructure upgrade to Serbian sections of corridors 10 and 8 to include redundant fibre links to Timishoara, Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Budapest and Zagreb
  • Serbia to retain Free Trade Agreements with Russian Federation and the EU with the exclusive right to conduit trade for Serbian manufactured or produced goods
  • A UN/NATO funded Peace and Reconciliation Commission to resolve and finally account for 20th Century Balkan History and end the ludicrous anti-Serb bias in the narrative of the Yugoslav wars and super state institutions like ICTY

This is my best case scenario. Other scenarios – all of them ranging from very unlikely to ludicrous – include:

  • An orgy of separatism and unification, with Kosovo partitioned into Albanian south and Serbian north. Republika Srpska (Serbian part of Bosnia) secedes from Bosnia and formally joins up up with Serbia and Northern Kosovo to form the Greater Serbia of Milosevic’s dreams. Meanwhile Albanians in Macedonia and Montenegro secede and join with Albanian and Souther Kosovo to form a Greater Albania
  • A Cyprus like partitioning with a partly recognised southern Kosovo continuing in limbo for another 20 years
  • Kosovo slips into destitution as a failed mafia state and requests reunification with thriving Serbia
  • Kosovo merges with Albania
  • Russians assist Serbia in forcefully recapturing Kosovo

Here are some other things I have learned from the Kosovo situation:

Population is Destiny.

 

For at least 1000 years Kosovo has been considered by Serbs to be their spiritual heartland. The problem is that the Collins Atlas of World History is right: Half of history is human migration (the other half is mostly population fluctuations and conquest). In Kosovo, these factors went against the Serbs. Due to migration and rapid Albanian population growth, Kosovo’s population became overwhelmingly Albanian in the 20th century and that fact alone made its eventual separation from Serbia inevitable. Population is destiny, and the Serbs in Kosovo once outbred and outnumbered were eventually, and dare I say it, inevitably, deracinated. [NB. It is a little known fact that the biggest number of victims of Ethnic Cleansing are Serbs, with hundreds of thousands of Serbian refugees (or Internally Displaced People) from Croatia and Kosovo still crowded into emergency housing across Serbia.

You reap what is sown in your name

 

Human rights violations carried out in the name of Serbs inflicted enormous damage on the reputation of Serbs and Serbia. A perception took hold that Serbs were genocidal murderers and this (unfair) perception was exploited by Albanian propagandists to devastating effect. If Milosevic has not walked into the KLA trap with his over reacting in Kosovo, there could never have been any global support for Kosovo.

Passivity and learned helplessness blight Serbia

 

Unlike other Balkan peoples, overseas Serbs had no cohesive lobby and even today the Serbian Diaspora is muted and ineffectual. Overseas Serbs are the key to the future of Serbia not only as returnees, but also as global lobbyists and investors in Serbia (via remittances or bankrolling business opportunities). Are they helping? Not that I can see. Currently many overseas Serbs have a contemptuous attitude to their homeland. Those that consider themselves patriots damage the reputation of the country further by fighting at tennis championships or through online abuse. A major problem is resigned passivity, self-pity and Learned Helplessness.

People refuse to vote out corrupt politicians. They lament “Its Serbia brother”, or plead “What can we do”? The answer is “Plenty”. It may just be pure exhaustion and cynicism but Serbs today do not seem to have the energy to tackle their problems forcefully. People put their faith in “The Russians” or prayer or magic. The situation is aggravated by dreadful and self-serving local politicians and a harmful cultural artefact that can only be described as some sort of Martyr Syndrome, a national self-pity that blocks the nation’s healing and stops Serbs account for what happened to them and for what was done in their name. Serbs should stop being furious with Albanians or Americans and direct their fury at  the corrupt political elites who have inflicted disasters on them. The political classes continue to threaten their future with short-termism and political cowardice (i.e. refusing to state publicly what most know and believe, namely that Kosovo is irreversibly lost to Serbia). Until Serbs do something to help themselves , and stop wallowing in self-pity (however justified) , they will continue to languish in limbo.

We have amused ourselves to death

Kosovo has taught us that you do not need an army or nuclear missiles, you only need to fool those who do into taking your side. Neil Postman’s worst nightmare has come to pass. The infotainment industry now drives the world.

I think it may actually be worse, way worse and that William S. Burroughs is right:

“We have a new type of rule now. Not one man rule, or rule of aristocracy, or plutocracy, but of small groups elevated to positions of absolute power by random pressures and subject to political and economic factors that leave little room for decision. They are representatives of abstract forces who’ve reached power through surrender of self. The iron-willed dictator is a thing of the past. There will be no more Stalins, no more Hitlers. The rulers of this most insecure of all worlds are rulers by accident inept, frightened pilots at the controls of a vast machine they cannot understand, calling in experts to tell them which buttons to push” – William S. Burroughs

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Open Serb hatred must be answered

by Limbic on February 22, 2008

Belgrade Holocaust memorial
Belgrade’s Holocaust Memorial – one of several in a city populated by a people famed for their resistance to the Nazis

I am used to reading lies and vitriol about Serbs and Serbia but an article emailed to me today is one of the most racist, hateful and biased articles I have read in a serious publication.

The article is by Stephen Schwartz writing in Pajamas Media, a website I used to respect (mostly because of having superb writers like Victor Davis Hanson), but I am not so sure now.

Any friend of Serbia needs to read the article and respond to it forcefully. You need to comment, you need to write to the editor and you need to spread the word about it.

I want Mr Schwartz to rue the day he penned this disgusting and hateful piece of racist bunk.

This is my response to the article:

[Update: Pajamas media allowed me to publish a comprehensive response: Kosovo and the Myth  of Serbian Depravity]

Serbs are an heroic nation who suffered 500 years of brutal Turkish oppression. They were allied with Britain, America and France in both WW1 and WW2. During WW2 they fought a heroic campaign of resistance against the Nazis. 250,000 Serbs were murdered in death camps by the Nazis and their Croatian and Bulgarian allies.

The arson attack on the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade and similar violence against other embassies was the work of a tiny number of well organised football hooligans whose numbers are dwarfed by the 500,000 peaceful protestors who thronged the streets.

Embassies are symbols of their countries – as are flags – and they are routinely attacked in civil disturbances or protests directed at countries. Serbia has rightly been criticized for failing to adequately protect the embassies, but similar attacks by Iranians, Pakistanis and others on US and Danish embassies were not denounced in the security council emphasizing yet again the anti-Serb bias in the US, EU and Security Council.

In the article Mr Schwartz draws attention to the murder of Bosnian children by Serb snipers in Bosnia nearly 15 years ago as sarcastic evidence of Serbian “bravery”. He states that Serbs “interpret diplomacy as aggression and attempted genocide”. That is Serbs as in YOU my dear Serbian friends. This man is accusing you of believing this. The irony is that faux diplomacy, backed by bombs, has indeed led to the attempted genocide of Kosovo Serbs who live in fear and are subjected to near constant attack from the Albanian majority.

Schwartz believes that the actions of a few hundred hooligans somehow rebukes the unassailable facts of the situation: that the bombing was both utterly wrong and completely illegal; that Kosovo independence contravenes International law and established precedent; that that Serbia is remorselessly bullied by the US and that Kosovo is a dangerous precedent created by a duped West in support of quasi-fascist Albanian Ethnic Nationalism.

Schwartz believes the Albanians are merely securing their freedom from Serbian fascism, yet since 2000 a democratic Serbia has never shown even a trace of aggression against neighbours or minorities, whereas the Albanians of Kosovo have repeatedly demonstrated their fascistic and nationalist tendencies in unrelenting violence against minorities and the large scale ethnic cleansing of Serbs, Gorani and Roma from Kosovo.

Schwartz claims Serbs do not change. He states it. How dare he parade his bigotry like this? Imagine declaring this of any people of country. It is hate speech.

Schwartz castigates the saner voices in US politics for their pro-Serbian stance. He accuses them of being “deniers”, cunningly invoking the idea of Holocaust Deniers and all the opprobrium wearers of that label rightly deserve. He claims that they (pro-Serbs) deny the reality of Srebrenica and Racak. That is not true. Srebrenica is undeniable and a horror that must neevr be repeated. Racak is hotly disputed and for good reason, the evidence is contradictory.

What pro-Serbs find galling is that all we ever hear is about Srebrenica and Racak, yet we never hear about the hundreds of massacres of Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia and Kosovo. How many Americans know about the massacre of Serbs in and around Srebrenica in 1992-1993? Go and read the UN document “Memorandum on War Crimes and Crimes of Genocide in Eastern Bosnia (communes of Bratunac, Skelani and Srebrenica) committed against the Serbian population from April 1992 to April 1993.” That and other documents detail the massive scale of crimes against Serbs by Bosnians and Croats in Bosnian. Schwartz does not see fit to mention the genocide of Serbs by Croatian Ustase in WW2 nor Operation Storm – the largest ethnic cleaning of the Yugoslav Wars – where 500,000 Serbs were deracinated. Mr Schwartz, like so many Serb haters, only every discusses one side and draws attention on to the crimes of the Serbs never the equally vile crimes AGAINST the Serbs.

Schwartz goes on to state his most outrageous lies: that the Serbs sold out the Jews in WW2. He repeats the half-truth that Belgrade was the first “judenrein” city in Europe. He completely omits the fact that it was quisling pseudo-government that made that declaration. That a massive Serbian partisan movement fought the Nazis so hard that Hitler called the Serbia “The Cauldron”. He does not mention that 250,000 Serbs were killed in Nazi death camps along with ten of thousands of Jews and Roma. He does not mention that the Bosnians has their own SS division – the Handschar Division (see Hitler and the Mufti http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6OK1Pi3xV8 ) – manned by Bosnian Muslims and commanded by Croatian Ustase Nazis. He completely fails to mention the fact that numerous Nazi hunting and Holocaust memorial organisations have acknowledged and praised the Serbian people for their part on helping save Jews from Nazis.

He makes the ludicrous claim that the Partisans were mostly non-Serbs! This is a bald lie. He goes on to defame the Chetniks too, again offering neither argument nor support for his claims. Mr Schwartz loves to talk about Serbs slitting Bosnian throats, but what does he has to say about this video confession of a Bosnian Muslim soldier cut the throats of Serbian children, after raping them in front of their dying parents. See it for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZbp1PIkbAk

Schwartz then goes on to attack the Serb lobby in the US. He describes Serbs are “troglodytes”! since when did it become acceptable to describe entire nations as using words like this? He mocks the Serbs contributions to the WW2 war effort.

He then goes on to claim of Serbs (aka YOU) that “Serbs hate Muslims because Muslims wash before praying”. There you have it. No modifier. No conditionals. Bald, nutty assertion. Where does he get this? An unnamed Serbian “Theologian” said this once. Does this mean I can take the ranting of Jesse Jackson or Michael Moore or a street corner loon and make claims about ALL Americans now? Did you know that ALL Americans thing Europe is a country? Evidence: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o31GDLgDyD0 . Additionally, US Americans have no maps and “The Irak” needs our help: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj3iNxZ8Dww .

Mr Schwartz then goes on to state a series of lies, biased speculations and pure hate speech against Serbs and Serbia. As usual, it is free of evidence or logic.

He castigates the violence and asserts it is proof of Serbian rottenness, that the rioting is “Serbian statesmanship”. He ignores the riots and anti-US violence across the world. He seems blind to the frequent and much more deadly Albanian riots in Pristina, where UN and US property has been destroyed, hand grenades thrown and people killed.

He decries Lawrence Eagleburger – brilliant statesmen and experienced diplomat – as a Serbian apologist because he is merely neutral, and acknowledges that whilst the Serbs are not blameless, they are in no way responsible for the mess in Kosovo. He states that Eagleburger ” appeared surprised by the embassy attacks” when the opposite was true. On CNN Eagleburger explained that the attacks were inevitable and expected when you subject a people to bullying, aggression and bombardment.

Schwartz once again insults Serbian culture and civilisation by denying its links to Kosovo, and saying hat the mass rapes in Bosnia (carried out by all sides) and bombing of Dubrovnik (a crime carried out by the Yugoslav National Army NOT Serb, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Dubrovnik ) as examples of Serbian culture. I have never, ever met a single Serbs who does NOT deplore the crimes carried out in their name.

Why are the actions of armed forces of Yugoslavia suddenly Serbian actions? What about the Bosnian and Montenegrin and Kosovo Albanians soldiers who advanced to attack the surrounding area and occupied Prevlaka, Konavle, Cavtat? Are people of the USA to be judged on the actions of their armed forces too? Is Abu Graib American culture Mr Schwartz? My Lai? The illegal and unjustified bombing of Serbian civilians in 1999? The US support of Operation Storm? Is this American “culture”?

Schwartz states that the Serbs “tried to expel two million Albanians from their homes in Kosovo”. They did no such thing. They tried to suppress an insurgency. The KLA frightened their own people into fleeing. There were no massacres then, it was war – war started by Albanian terrorists. The talk of massacres and Bosnian style mass rape was all lies. Perhaps research from Israeli scholars will help convince Mr Schwartz? Read about how NATO framed the Serbs and how Albanians oppress Serbs: http://www.hirhome.com/yugo/freezer1.htm and http://www.hirhome.com/yugo/kosovo.htm

Mr Schwartz ends his tirade by saying “The whole world knows who the aggressors were in ex-Yugoslavia”. Not quite Mr Schwartz, they known the Myth of the Balkans wars. They know the simplistic propaganda supported version of Serbs as bad guys, everyone else as victims. They THINK they know what happened, but history is revealing the truth. Yes, Slobodan Milosevic was an ethnic nationalist out to save his communist are by adopting nationalism. But so was the Father of Croatia Franco Tudjman. They were all rotten: Slobo, Tudjman, – all murderous, lying, self-serving nationalist scum. Yet it is only the leaders of Serbia and the Bosnian Serbs called to account. Only their record is examined, their crimes publicised, their wrongs highlighted. Of course everyone THINKS they know what happened because they have been fed the usual media pap. Unfortunately for people like you Mr Schwartz, Iraq has made the people of the world much more cynical and wise to US lies and deceptions. Mere claim backed with “Trust me” or “Read my lips” no longer works. You and your kind – Lying hate-mongers – and dying off. Schwartz is a sentimental radical nationalist exactly like the thugs who attacked the US embassy. They are brethren and identical except Schwartz espouses freedom and hotdogs whilst the hooligans of Serbia are about Kosovo and Rakia.

America’s embassy in Belgrade is not burning. Your is flying again. The hooligans who rioted and looted are being rounded up. A minor incident is long over.

Serbs are now well on their way to a prosperous and peaceful future in the EU. It is Independent Kosovo that is likely to rot as the black hole of Europe, not Serbia. It has nothing but mafia money and aid, which is nit enough to sustain it. It is true it is a hub for slave trading women, arms selling and drug trafficking but even those “earnings” tend to find their way to Swiss bank accounts or the shops and bars of London.

Mr Schwartz and his snide tirade deserves to be answered fully. I would like to dance on the ashes of his career and reputation. Help make that happen by circulating this rebuttal to everyone you know.

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Aftermath time here in Belgrade. Serbs are furious with the hooligans who attacked the embassies last night, partly because people generally detest the thug element here and once again they have gifted the media an anti-Serb platform. Instead of reporting that hundreds of thousands of people staged the largest peaceful protest in Serbia’s history, the news today is all about a few hundred football hooligans who torched the US embassy (and in one grisly case, himself).

The UN security council has denounced the attacks. This is the same security council that did not say a word when the Danish embassies in Iran and Pakistan were torched by mobs, but hey, we all know Serbs and that Kosovo are a special case that demands special hypocrisy. That said there are very serious questions about how how and why the embassies came to be unguarded.

There is a near permanent riot police presence. Last Sunday (Feb 17th) there were hundreds of cops guarding the US embassy, which was attacked, but the attack was quickly repulsed (see the YouTube evidence). It looks to me that the police were withdrawn deliberately. They were not driven back by the mob, they were simply not deployed (as they usually are). When they eventually turned up in their Hummers they drove off the rioters with relative ease. They did not even have to dismount from their vehicles.  The Chief of Police will have some explaining to do today. The “reason” given, that the traffic obstructed police, is a sham.

Meanwhile incriminating videos of last nights looting are doing the rounds in Serbia, with two bimbos from the suburb of Batajnica have become unlikely figures of hate and mockery after being filmed looting. You can see their Affirmative Shopping spree on YouTube.

[UPDATE: The looting girls featured in the video above have been arrested and charged. See here ]

BBC NEWS | Europe | Serbia embassy attacks condemned

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"Its not Belgrade, its Beruit"

by Limbic on February 21, 2008

This was the comment from Fox News Serbia tonight. Mobs of football hooligans have attacked the embassies lining Kneza Milosa street, one of Belgrade’s main thoroughfares, and looted shops, a McDonalds restaurant and foreign banks in the city centre.

As of 22:00, it seems to be mostly over. Even at its worth it looked worse than it was. Trouble from Serbia’s well organized hooligan firms is nothing new. They riot regularly here in Belgrade. Every derby between Belgrade’s two main football teams requires a full call-up of police reserves.

The mob were encouraged by irresponsible politicians – like the head of Slobodan Milosevic’s party – who stated that stone throwing was a democratic right. They must have know that calling a huge protest days after similar riots, was dangerous. There has been a company of riots cops deployed outside every embassy on Knez Milosa for the last week. Their conspicuous absence when the mob attacked requires explanation.

The violence tonight was fully expected. Western embassies were texting and emailing their citizens all week warning us to stay away from the demonstrations. Since Monday, the day after rioters attacked the US and Slovenian embassies in response to Kosovo’s declaration of independence, Serbs have been warning foreign friends to avoid speaking foreign languages too loudly on the streets (although that is pure alarmism. In three years I have never once encountered serious xenophobia and the mobs are not attacking individuals). The city was tense today, but not threatening. On my was home from the office tonight the streets were abandoned. A police helicopter was circling over the city centre and occasionally the sound of riot could just be heard from the south.

President Tadic – on a state visit to Romania – has appealed for calm.

The state TV channels are as usual broadcasting their typical sentimental propaganda – slow motion flags, pictures of holy icons and “Kosovo is Serbia” in Serbian along the bottom of the screen. CNN is taking an uncharacteristly pro-Serb line. B92, the liberal channel, is reporting the trouble live, as is Fox News Serbia. Stratfor is worried about a possible coup, they are afraid the bulk of the protesters will join the hooligans. I very much doubt they will.

Just to let you know how decent and kind most Serbs are, I was called from Budapest by one of my best Serbian friends, who is on a business trip. He was calling to tell me that another friend who owns a luxury country hotel in Novi Sad (the absolutely magnificent Salas 137 Country Hotel) was offering to host my girlfriend, my Scottish business partner and myself free of charge in his hotel until the trouble dies down. They had a car ready to come and get us. Now THAT is typical Serb behaviour that I hve come to know and love. It is a great example of the warmth and kindness of the majority of the people in this lovely country.

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Audio tape cassette nostalgia at tapedeck.org

by Limbic on February 19, 2008

 

analog audio tape cassette nostalgia – tapedeck.org

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Deep Flight Submarine

by Limbic on February 12, 2008

Two things lurk deep in most men’s hearts as the ultimate boy’s toys: Personal flying devices (like jetpacks) and a mini-submarines.

After a recent discussion with a good friend about the perfect underwater filming platform* I found myself revisiting my old love of mini subs and  came across the Deep Flight Submarine.

 

Mini sub

Deep Flight I (DF I) was the prototype first stage in an attempt to navigate to the deepest reaches of the ocean and represents a radical new design approach for underwater vehicles. The submersible was launched in 1995. Instead of using a traditional ballast system to control dive and ascent, DF I uses stubby inverted wings to provide “negative” lift that pulls the small sub down. This downward force negates the slightly buoyant characteristics of the sub. At cruising speeds the sub is neutrally buoyant and depends on its thrusters to drive the sub up or down, the same principle used in airplanes. While traditional ballast systems emulate airships and HOT air balloons, this principle, along with DF I’s small size, allows the pilot to descend at a very fast rate to maximize bottom time. Since the overall aim is to get to 37,000 ft, it is critical to get to the bottom as quickly as possible to ensure the longest exploration time

This little beauty can explore the Mariana Trench!

*We settled on a rebreather (to stay down for hours), a motion detector (to find the big stuff), camera and lights mounted on a Farallon Mk8 twin torpedo underwater propulsion unit and a sharkshield (for defence)

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