strontium90’s den

August 14, 2006

3 Hours to Ceasefire

Filed under: Politics,War in Lebanon — strontium90 @ 5:00 am

Never crossed my mind that I’d see Israel this weak and desperate!

You see, even the most casual news reader can tell the huge inner turmoil between the IDF and the Israeli government and most noticeably in the goverment itself after yesterday’s happenings. Descending from pround promises to crush Hizbullah a month ago to considering negotiations today and the deputy prime minister’s questioning of the usefulness of military action after an entire month of full-fledged war are not things we’d expect from Israel, are they? Or are these “new rules to the game” some people have been talking about have been set indeed? I doubt that, although I hope and would be very pleased if they were set indeed. I think it’s just that “someone” wants to see “few” displacements in Israel including and beyond the cabinet..

Sure I wasn’t here in 1967, 1973 and 1982 but as I was growing up I, like everyone else, was aware of the “legacy” of the IDF, its power and tactical superiority over all armies in the area, so as much as I’m glad to see it being dragged through shit I’m still amazed at what I’m seeing.

In any case, ceasefire’s supposed to start in three hours hence, and we’d better prepare oursleves for a Sharon-style surprise.. though I doubt that too; the IDF seems to be capable of little beyond killing children.


August 8, 2006

Moving to Qt 4

Filed under: Programming — strontium90 @ 8:30 pm

This has been a long postponed endeavor that I just had the chance to pursuit, and let me tell you, it turned out much less troublesome and much more enjoyable than what I was expecting. Qt 4 is a wonderful product, hats off to software engineers at Trolltech. 🙂

Of course I cannot review the product featureset in this entry since several items (mentioned below) in Qt’s excellent documentation summarize the Qt class library and associated tools extensively. I’d like to mention several points that have made me most happy with the product so far and will give some hints to get fellow Qt 3 developers started. (more…)

July 28, 2006

Al-Qaeda! Stay away from our mountains!

Filed under: Politics,War in Lebanon — strontium90 @ 11:00 pm

I’m sure many of those who followed Al-Zawahiri’s speech (broadcast yesterday) in Lebanon, Palestine and Syria felt how awfully irrelevent his remarks were.

Addessing Hizbullah in particular he strived to use common language that would seemingly cast historical Sunni/Shiit hostilities aside in an attempt to picture Lebanese and Palestinian resistance as part of a “global Islamic rise” against a “brutal western civilization led by the US”, but he missed an important fact: His target audience just cannot relate to this, not only because more than %40 of Lebanese people aren’t Muslims in the first place but because Al-Qaeda and its ideologies inherently don’t have any social foundation and public support in this part of the Arab world. In fact, Al-Qaeda doesn’t have any substantial social background on any spot not even in those areas where it seems to be more active, and that’s what puts it in a rather weak position and questions the validity of its “mission”.

Recent polls released by the Beirut Center for Research and Information don’t surprise anyone; currently %87 of Lebanese people support Hizbullah’s resistance, and of non-Shiite and non-Muslim communities in Lebanon %89 of Sunnis along with %80 of Christians and %80 of Druze voted support for Hizbullah.

Filed under: War in Lebanon — strontium90 @ 5:00 pm

Only the dead have seen an end to war.
~George Santayana

March 9, 2006

Early Syrian Plaitwork and Celtic Knots

Filed under: Art,Syria — strontium90 @ 3:00 am

Several months ago I discovered about Celtic knotwork through an article by Andrew Glassner published in the September/October 1999 issue of IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications. Celtic knots are highly intricate decorative elements best known for their use by the Celts in the ornamentation of Christian monuments and manuscripts. The art reached its peak in the 9th century with the creation of lavishly illuminated manuscripts some of which survived the medieval period. The Book of Kells, produced by Celtic monks in around 800 AD, is a fine example.

While it has been suggested that pagan Celtic sources had strong influences on Christian Celtic artwork, history doesn’t hold much accounts of knots before the Christian influence on the Celts in about 450 AD, therefore the origin of Celtic knotwork remains uncertain.

Plaitwork, which is a pattern of interwoven unknotted cords, is the earliest known form of knotwork. Plaitwork is not unique to the Celts, examples are found in many cultures. By breaking the plait’s cords and reattaching them, knotwork patterns can be derived. The first examples of this practice can be observed in early 8th century in Italy, but many examples of plaitwork and primitive knots can be found in early Syrian art from Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods. I’d like to mention three instances.

On the right is a mosaic found in the museum of Palmyra depicting Asclepius, the god of medicine and healing, in a decorative frameork consisting of plaitworks and other decorative elements. It dates back to 1st century.

On the left is an excerpt from a Byzantine mosaic found in the museum of Ma’arat Al-No’oman. It dates back to early 5th century and features more complex plaitwork.

On the right is a mosaic found in the museum of the renowned Roman theatre in Bosra featuring a primitive knot. It dates back to 2nd century.

February 17, 2006

Religion, Ignorance, Intolerance and Freedom

Filed under: Politics,Religion — strontium90 @ 7:45 pm

I always tell my Muslim friends: The Islamic world has abandoned its Prophet, how can it expect others to welcome him?

History and Islamic tradition hold many accounts on how humanistic the Prophet was; he spared the lives of the ones who sought his head and did good and cared for the ones who hated him.

Abusing its influence and de facto position, Saudi Arabia chose the negative approach announcing a boycott followed by other Arab and Islamic countries only at a superficial level, and this culminated in insane mob action which burned down embassies in some countries further complicating the already saturated international attitude, where, instead of feeding the uproar from the street they could contain it and support the case with a variety of methods through media and diplomatic communications, cultural exchange and other civil activities that serve the ultimate purpose of showing the insignificance of the cartoons against the teachings and the message of the Prophet. None of these happened to any significant degree and Islamic countries are currently seeking international laws to protect religions against offense unbelievably overlooking the fact that what is considered offensive in one religion is sometimes not even pertinent to the teachings of another.

The reasons behind the current cultural status of Islamic countries that often brought shame and tarnished the image of Islam and Arabs are too many and too profound to be summarized in this column. However Europe and the US cannot get away with their fundamental role in it; modern history is cast-iron. Europeans in particular must stand up against the fact that Muslim Arabs and even non-Muslims originating from Middle-Eastern Arab countries, although officially citizens, suffer discrimination and live on the edge of society in many European countries. Jillands-Posten must stand up to the fact that it already set double standards publishing the cartoons of the Prophet where it had rejected similar cartoons of Jesus Christ in the past. The 2004 report by ENAR, the European Network Against Racism, already showed that the line between freedom of speech and intolerance had been crossed in Denmark.

The world is better without “freedoms” that spread controversy and hostility among nations.

February 4, 2006

Religion, Ignorance, Intolerance and Violence

Filed under: Politics,Religion,Syria — strontium90 @ 11:45 pm

Couldn’t believe my ears hearing that demonstrators in Damascus, the Syrian capital, set fire to the buildings that house the Danish, Norwegian and Swedish embassies and the European Commission this afternoon.

While it is unquestionable that such a reaction will undoubtedly harm the diplomatic relationships between Syria and these European countries and the EU, will put Syrian politicians in a difficult situation, will tarnish the image of Syrian people in the eyes of the world, it will serve the case of those who strive to depict Islam, a religion of peace and harmony, as a doctrine of terror and violence.

It was most unexpeced that such an extreme reaction would take place in Syria of all Islamic countries.

The failure of Syrian police and security forces to hold the furious crowd back is another unexplainable facet..

February 2, 2006

Religion, Ignorance, Intolerance and Irony

Filed under: Politics,Religion — strontium90 @ 10:00 pm

Let me first clarify that I am a Pantheist, and have respect for and generally sympathize with all religions and beliefs as long as they do not diverge from basic moralities inherent to good human nature.

I will not retell the the uproar and world-scale reactions to the publication of controversial cartoons of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, in the Danish daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten and in other European print media, nor I will mention the cultural facets of concerns arised.

I have two questions to both of the involved parties.
To the the leaders of Arab and Islamic countries and the Islamic world that has reacted with unpaired anger, the closing of the embassies of their countries in Denmark and by launching consumer boycotts against Danish goods: Where were you when US army personnel flushed copies of the Quran in the toilets of the Guantánamo Bay prison camp?
To Western politicians and media personnel, the ardent defenders of democracy and fervent proponents of freedom of speech who strived to depict the Islamic outrage to the cartoons as unnecessary reaction driven by fanaticism: Why would you condemn the statements of any politician or media worker who expresses an opinion that may not comply with the Holocaust?

January 27, 2006

Happy 250th birthday, Wolfgang!

Filed under: Music — strontium90 @ 9:03 pm

Emotions are much deeper than what can be expressed in mere words, my dear friend. You must be moved too seeing the world-wide celebrations.

You spark hope and bring hapiness to countless hearts. Thank you for being such an integral part of my life.

Wishing you all the best for the next 250 years! 🙂

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