Sunday, 25 February 2007

Blogging in a medieval theocracy

Today came the sad news from Egypt that a blogger, Abdel Kareem Soliman, was jailed for a total of 4 years after a 5 minute hearing. His "Crimes"? Insulting Islam by suggesting that the al-Azhar university in Cairo was a "the university of terrorism" and that it suppressed free thought (really!). He also stated that the president for life Mr Mubarak was a dictator (never!).

Apart from the fact that all these accusations can be easily thought of as true, it's still somewhat ironic that in order to prove him guilty of a crime, they suppressed his freedom to think these thoughts by locking him up, thus proving that he was correct in his assertion that they were suppressing free thought, and thus not guilty of any crime, or perhaps just guilty of telling the truth.

Of course, bloggers around the world, from China to Africa get locked up or even killed, but there is a particular brand of Islamic Theocracy running across the world, which uses "Islamic values" with which to suppress anyone who disagrees with it, and this is maybe the most frightening aspect to the brand of Islam that is abroad in the world at the moment.
The fact that Islamic based regimes see no contradiction in locking people up, for saying that they lock people up, just shows how dangerous a creed it is upon which to base a country. The bleeding heart Left, who have spent the last 20 years telling us all that 'all value systems are of equal weight' and that we should 'embrace Islam as a "peaceful" religion', must be finally getting slightly nervous as they watch this particular value system threaten, and wipe out free thought, where ever it gets a grip, ...... or probably not.

The Left has always had a blind spot for certain types of dictators and their crimes, hence the apologists for Stalin in the 1930's, or Mao in the 1960's, or even for Saddam Hussein in the 1990's. Now we have the apologists for Islam, who despite the murders, bombings, terrorist outrages, and a very large volume of evidence to the contrary, still believe that you can "cut a deal" with the Mullahs of the world. So they ignore the daily broadcasts of "Death to Israel, death to the US, and death to the rest of us 'unbelievers'", that come out on state radio across the middle east, and tell the rest of us to "embrace" the endless stream of "true believers" who arrive in Europe every year.

A recent television program in the UK showed Mosques that Mr Blair (our beloved, soon to be Ex PM) had praised as the "moderate peaceful face of Islam", advocating "marrying eight year old girls" (because that's what their prophet had done), "beating women" who disagreed with a man (although somewhat liberally, you were only to use a small stick), and forcing "all women to wear the face veil". Sitting on while these views were aired, were Mullahs who had been invited to Number 10 because they were "moderates" .... well if these are the "moderates" that the Left hope to cut a deal with, then God help us. It's not hard to imagine the form of government that these moderate Mullahs would usher in if they ever got real political power, it surely wouldn't be an advocate of the enlightenment.

Actually, like a lot of people, I am beginning to wonder what really is going to happen in Europe over the next 20-30 years. Will any country sit by and allow itself to become a "Muslim state", simply by the numbers of Muslim immigrants out voting them, or are we going to see some sort of reaction?

Admittedly, apart from France, with its 12-15% Muslim population, the rest of the the major European countries have Muslim populations of between 2 and 5%, but as that was from a base of well under 1% less than 30 years ago, it does seem that somethings gotta give sooner or later. It's hard to see any countries non Muslim population just PC'ing itself to its own demise, so something will happen but what?

Are we about to see a wave of right wing governments, voted in as a 'defenders' of "traditional European values", sweep across Europe as public fear is expressed in the ballot box? I ask this because the recent new entrants to the EU have a number of states where "traditional" values are being espoused e.g. Poland, and there is some evidence in the UK, that at street level the British National Party (BNP) has gained support. It could even be argued that the success of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) is linked partly to this uneasiness over immigration (as well as to an English distrust of the EU).

If this is the case, and I admit it may be only marginally more likely than a Muslim takeover of some small European country, then ironically the Left will have brought about its own demise by continuing to advocate "multiculturalism", long after the population at large had decided that the Muslim immigration model had been a complete failure. It's not hard to imagine that another few 9/11's, Madrid's, or 7/7's, would tip public opinion against any government that was still crying "Islam is peaceful" in the face of Muslim terrorist attacks.

A model for this kind of reaction can be seen in the wave of right wing governments in Europe in the 1930's, when the depression brought "strongmen", and nationalist governments into many countries, as mass unemployment took hold. This appears to go against the logic which says that left leaning governments, with state ownership policies and public works, would have swept the board, but largely this did not occur. I don't regard the US Democrats under Roosevelt as left leaning in the European sense, because they are only 'left' of the Republicans, but still centre right in European political terms. Roosevelt was as much a economic 'protectionist' as any of the governments of Europe during the depression so not really a leftist.
The Analogy is not exact, but it's something the Left would do well to ponder over the next couple of decades, because the issue of Islamic vrs Western Christian/Secular values will only get greater over the next two decades.

Thursday, 22 February 2007

Gun Crimes and Ethnic groups

The news in the UK has been dominated for the last week by two items, Muslim issues, and Gun crime. I will leave Islam and the West for another Blog, because its still going to be an issue for years.

Fact: In the UK last year there were 58 gun related murders (That's less than in Los Angeles).

Myth: "Gun crimes are sweeping the UK, with teenage gangs and ghettos everywhere you look".

Perspective: Over 3,000 people died of MRS in UK hospitals last year.

Issue: How to stop the myth overtaking the facts and removing the Politically Correct element from the discussion.

The first problem in discussing gun murders in the UK, is the tendency of the politicians to pussyfoot around and say "Teenage gun crimes are across all the cities and ethnic groups of the country".

It's a fact that the vast majority of teenage gun crimes are by blacks on blacks, and those white youths who are involved, live largely in black majority areas and are associated with mixed race gangs. This fact is the same in every country where there are large African descent or Afro Caribbean communities. In the US, most gun related murders take place in black populated ghettos, and the same applies in other countries. I am sure that any reader of this blog will be able to find exceptions to this rule, but these are the exceptions that prove the rule, so taking this as a fact, I have to consider why this may be the case.

The Perception Of Gun Criminality .....

Friday, 16 February 2007

Dell Hell

Well, where to start. At the beginning seems a good place. I bought a new laptop before Christmas after my old one appeared to die an inglorious death. A Dell seemed to be a good idea (I was relying on their old reputation) and so I ordered one. 15 days later it arrived, but with a couple of faults.

This was the start of a wonderful adventure via a very polite, but totally inept, help and support sections in Bangalore. I soon discovered that being able to speak 'Inglish' and understand English are two completely separate matters. They listened and thanked me for my custom, which apparently was "valued", but they then proceeded along the line of least discomfort for them. i.e. They resolved nothing.

Four or Five phone calls and well over 35 emails later, I finally snapped and started hunting for someone in Dell Europe or US who could possibly take responsibility for the issues and resolve them. It took a while but eventually I found a customer advocate in the US (there being no such thing for UK customers) named Todd, who, whilst he couldn't do anything himself as I was a non US customer, passed me over to a lovely lady in Eire, who took matters in hand. I am now awaiting a replacement machine.

Of course it means I have had to clean out all my work and documents from the machine, wipe the unused memory and restore to factory settings (Ctrl F11 on Dell screen if you are interested). I did this mainly because one never knows where the machines are going to end up, and there are some cunning West Africans out there.

Anyway, whinging aside, this set me thinking on the predictions of the growth of the Indian economy based on "IT" and call centres. I discussed this with a beer buddy, who also works in IT and we both easily came up with examples of out sourced programming sent to India, and then requiring a full time UK team to 'fix it' when it comes back from the Indian programmers. Couple this with the anecdotal stories about call centre problems similar to the one I have just detailed, and one begins to suspect that the Indian dream economy is based on smoke and mirrors.

The motivations for work being sent to India (and other similar sites) is the low cost, the availability of English speakers and the number of "graduates" (BA Calcutta failed?). Accountants love this, and proudly claim their bonuses based on the number of job losses in the UK, US or other Western economies. However the real costs e.g. the lost customer goodwill of anyone having problems getting themselves understood, or the hidden project costs of having to correct all the work in the UK when it arrives from these sites, are never shown against the "savings" made by low wage costs.

In reality there are actually no savings, and the fact that many of these call centres are being returned to the UK or US, indicates that firms are beginning to twig that "all the glitters is not gold". One bank in the UK is now advertising the fact that its call centres are in the UK, in order to capitalise on the general ill will that these overseas call centres have created with those firms who persist in using them.

The IT work in India will persist for a while, because Corporation bean counters use formulas that indicate the these divisions are "Gold Rated" because they hit all the check points, whilst the western staff are "always late delivering". The fact that they are late because they are having to correct the work done in India, in order to deliver the product, does not show up on these formula charts and is therefore not obvious.

I will give an example: A large multinational corporation (who I can't name for legal reasons), out sourced their code development for a particular project to a third world country. They told them that they had to meet a list of criteria and benchmarks, such as documentation standards, reviews, walk throughs, feedback etc etc. Every couple of weeks they asked the developers if they had performed this task, or met that check point, and the answer was always "Yes". Rave reviews of this Gold rated division were passed around the organisation as all the check points, and benchmarks, were met or exceeded. After three months the product delivery date was approaching and the product was to be passed over for user testing, so the head office rang up the development division and said "we are really pleased with your performance in meeting all our criteria, and we want to know when you can pass the product over for testing" ... and it was at this point that the developers said "it's not ready".

After further discussion it turned out that they had not written one line of code. They had spent the whole three months meeting the document standards and had done nothing else. Gold Star, gold star, crap! The contract was cancelled, and the multinational had to buy in UK Contractors to do a rush job, so that they could deliver something to the customer. There is a moral to this tale but I leave that for the accountants out there to explain.

This was a bit of a digression, but I think that there are indications that the Indian Economy is being built on a quick sand of delusions concerning the quality of their work, and the cultural differences that speaking a similar language can't hide. Unlike China, were the work ethic far exceeds many western economies, and things work, the Indian model is just a facade built on top of a crumbling infrastructure.

I am aware that this thought is based upon nothing more than an observation of a couple of instances but I suspect that I am not the only one to have come across these types of examples. Of course until the small child pointed out that he was stark naked, the emperors "New Clothes" were being praised, so until someone points out the flaws, the Indian economy will be praised as a "miracle".


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A middle aged orange male ... So 'un' PC it's not true....