fivemack: (Default)
The United Russia party apparently secured a 99% majority in Chechnya, on a 99% turnout.

The Putinjugend are holding a victory rally in Moscow as I type.

It appears that the secrecy of the ballot was not universally respected; for example 'those voting for United Russia were entered into a prize lottery in the city of St Petersburg'. One wonders how they could tell.

It's always instructive to compare Russian and Chinese propaganda. At the moment, Chinese propaganda is filled with apologetic remarks about monetary policy and the need for action on climate change, and the occasional panda. The Russians seem not to bother with propaganda, the state of affairs is presented unapologetically by former KGBniks, with a very strong 'what are you going to do about it?' tone.

Modest-proposal mode: lift immigration restrictions against Russians, so at least they can get out. Get Ukraine into the EU as soon as can be arranged. Build nuclear power plants, fund ITER, insulate, conserve; and long for the day that we can tell the Russian government, as the Saudi despots, that they are welcome to drink their oil and breathe their natural gas, for we their former addicts have no need for it. In what-if mode, wish that Yeltsin had blasted the KGB to ash as thoroughly as the Stasi and Czech StB were dismantled.

In other news, Livejournal has been bought by СУП, 'an international online media company with established partnerships with businesses across the globe. It was founded in the summer of 2006 by an international management team with Russian seed capital'.
fivemack: (Default)
Going to Brussels from Cambridge by bus and plane, rather than by train, for the sake of a small monetary saving was completely daft; Brussels airport is well outside the city, and it took 9:15->6pm to get there and 10:30->5pm to get back. If I'm going to travel nine hours, I at least want to be the other side of the Alps or the Atlantic; if I'd taken the train, I'd have had time to see more of Brussels than the Grand Place and the tram route to the university where the conference was held.

FOSDEM 2006 was a gathering of free-software developers plus enormous numbers of hangers-on, in which number I count myself. Google was there, in small force handing out migraine-inducing polychrome flashing badges, but no other interesting-sounding employers; besides, I have a job now which I didn't when I planned my trip.

There were some interesting talks: Jon Haslam from Sun showing off DTrace, a not-very-free-software tool which lets you do amazing inspection of the details of running systems to watch the weird interactions and ask very directly where all your performance is going, an interesting-looking Gnome video editor. Jeff Waugh from Canonical talked about what Ubuntu was trying to do, but in absurdly broad terms, and taking the relevance of Free Software to the convention-of-human-rights Freedoms as read. The Grand Place in Brussels has some spectacular fret-work in stone. I was a bit surprised to realise that, in this country where everyone would understand you in either French or German, I gravitated to German.

But there was a general feeling that this was an excuse for a huge number of geeks to go and drink beer in Brussels. Brussels beer is undoubtedly good; I got through a fair amount of the temptingly cherry-flavoured Kriek. But there was an immense feeling of undirectedness; there's that traditional maxim that a nerd is a geek with a purpose, and there were many fewer nerds there than I'd have hoped for. Throughout the conference, I had St Peter's admonition to Tomlinson in my ears:

"By the worth of the body that once ye had,
give answer -- what ha' ye done?"

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