Thursday, January 9, 2003

Well, Blogger, ain't perfect. The so-called "bloggerTags" could be a bit more flexible, and the template update pages need to be re-written so they can recognize when they are receiving UTF-7. It was a pain in the rear end to have to figure out why things like <$BlogItemAuthor$> were showing up on my blog page. :-P

But it works okay once you learn to accomodate its weaknesses and it is kinda neat. I think I shall keep on using it for now - at least until I feel the urge two write my own CGIs to do all this. :-)

Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Here is the text of a Second Opinion article of mine (basically, an extra long letter to the editor) that appeared in October 2001 in my local news paper, The Record. little over a year later, this article seems especially topical to me.

I must strongly disagree with Amy Moses who wote in a letter to the editor on Saturday, September 22 that U.S. policy is not to blame for being one of the root causes of terrorist actions. U.S. foreign policy is to blame, at least partially, as is Canadian foreign policy and polices of all the rich Western nations.

As a group, we in the Western world have not treated the rest of the people on this planet very kindly or respectfully. It started with traditional colonialism by the European powers a few centuries back and turned in the economic colonialism of today.

During colonial times the indigenous peoples in colonised lands were at best viewed as ignorant savages who only needed to be educated in the proper civilised European way of doing things — a form of racism. At worst the natural resources of their lands were taken without recompense and they were turned into slaves.

We Westerners wanted our clothes and shoes at cheaper and cheaper prices, so we set up sweatshops in Third World countries, making the employees work brutally long shifts with no breaks for wages less than what they needed to support their families. We wanted our bananas and coffee cheaply, too, so we set up plantations which again payed the workers unfairly low wages, sometimes less than what the plantation owners charged for rent of the slums on plantation property.

We used their countries as pawns and proxies during the Cold War, sending billions of dollars for weaponry to governments whom we knew were corrupt and just as likely to turn those weapons on their own citizens as well as their enemies. We set up the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund ostensibly to help Third World nations buy food or improve their infrastructures, and they are forced to pay these "preferred creditors" in full, on time and without any possibility of relief. These institutions have refused to write off bad debts and have chosen instead to extend more credit, driving poor countries deeper and deeper into debt.

Is it any wonder that people in these nations are so resentful of the Western World? The situation forced upon Germany after it lost World War I produced a fertile ground for the seeds of hatred spread by the Nazi Party and resulted in World War II. Similarly, the actions of we rich Western countries have produced a fertile ground or the seeds spread by Osama Bin Laden and others like him. Similarly, blaming all of Islam for terrorist attacks is an act of bigotry that will only make resentful people even more resentful and give credence in their minds to Bin Laden's claim of a Christian-Jewish crusade against the Muslim world.

The attacks in Washington D.C. and New York City were terrible tragedies and cannot be condoned. Justice must happen and it must be appropriate justice, not revenge. However, the only way that we can truly get rid of terrorism is by getting rid of the global inequities and injustices that helped to spawn it. Bombing countries that support terrorists might get rid of individuals like Bin Laden, but then again it might not. It's a chancy thing that doesn't seem to have made Saddam Hussein a fan of the West. What military action will produce is more resentment and hatred of the West in innocent people, giving those people stronger reasons to follow the next Bin Laden that comes along.

Well, as I read through rec.arts.startrek.* and all the posts that seem to have degenerated into a discussion on politics and Iraq, I remember my thoughts on the whole thing before the UN inspection teams ent to Iraq this time.

If the teams found anything, then George W Bush would appear on TV saying "See? I told you they had this stuff! Now we have to go in and remove Saddam!"

If the teams found nothing, then President Bush would appear on TV saying "See? I told you they wouldn't cooperate or reveal that stuff! Now we have to go in and remove Saddam and uncover all the weapons!"

It just seems so painfully obvious to me that this "Iraq Crisis" is a manufactured one, designed to divert peoples' attention away from the fact that Bin Laden was never caught and that Al Quaeda was never shut down.

So how come I've seen those same conclusions reached on BBC World News, CBC Newsworld and other Canadian political debate shows, but never on American TV?

So, this is my weblog, eh. However, I doubt that anybody will want to hear about my boring life. :-)

But I will try to update it on a regular basis. God knows I have the time to do that. :-P