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United States

Journal Journal: "After the Empire" by Emmanuel Todd (book review, part I)

I've come across a very interesting book that sheds some light on what's happening right now in the USA. I hope that the mere American Flag at top of this article won't have the same effect like it had in my previous entry about the USA: it just attracted like a magnet two or three American patriots, bringing in fact one only argument: "we are the best, the greatest and you won't stop us doing what we want to do".

The book I'm reading has the following data:

"Après l'Empire" (After the Empire) by Emmanuel Todd
Subtitle: "Essai sur la décomposition du système américain" (Essay about the decomposition of the American system).
Publisher: Gallimard, 2002
ISBN: 2-07-076710-8

I've just finished reading the first chapter, which is what he calls the "opening" of the book. One would just call that an introduction but I won't be picky on the words here.

He presents his thesis. Here it is in a few points:


  • The USA are the basis of modern democracy and liberty
  • They have developped their economyin the 19th and beginning of the 20th century based on immigration from the "corrupted" Europe, who brought manpower and capital
  • Until Pearl Harbour, the USA based it's policy on the fact that it's far away from Europe and doesn't rely on anything else than themselves

About war and peace

  • The 20th Century was aiming to turn down oligarchies, dictatorships, communism... anything which was not democratic. And that was a good thing.
  • The USA took the most important role in this endeavour
  • Now most of the countries are becoming democratic. There are still a very few "rogue states", which Todd considers as really minor actors and as not being a threat

The double change

  • The USA is no longer a country that doesn't need to rely on other countries.
  • It needs resources from all over the world
  • Democratic values in the USA are starting to decline
  • The USA is becoming an oligarchy

So basically - and this is really frightening - he is saying that since the USA is no longer auto-suficient, since it needs ressources from outside, and since the threats of undemocratic states are declining, they need to set up and maintain a situation of FUD about some minor states. So it changed its role: from the peace-generating country, it's now becoming the war-generating country.

Todd however thinks that there's no need to be alarmed by the US Army: the "rogue states" as defined by the USA are so minor that this proves that they are no longer able to fight a bigger power. Take North-Korea: South Korea told they are not feeling threated by their Neighboring country. How can the USA claim they are? Same for Iran who claims he sees no problem with Iraq.

Ok, let's see what the remaining 200 pages of this book contain. That will be part II of this review, with more personal comments, since right now, I don't have enough material for personal argumentation.

The Internet

Journal Journal: dot-name jungle

One year ago, by mid-December, I registered my dot-name address. I wanted to be the first to put hands on my name. By that time, I was clever enough not to give answer to those numerous spams of registrars wanting you to register your dot-name with them. I went directly to the ICANN to see which registrars are allowed to do that. Having heard of pseudo-registrars just wanting your money for pre-registering, I thought that would be a wise step. I still think it was. The ICANN directed me to dot-name nic which has a list of accredited registrars.

Sorry for the fellow US readers, I'm living in Europe, in Switzerland to be accurate, and I looked at the registrars for Europe. By that time, I found I.D.R Internet Domains Registry LTD to be the most interesting offer. But I was wrong. Their service is of a really really poor quality. Harvesting through my e-mails, I found this:

Due to technical difficulties we had delayed the lunch of the web page service.

I hope the "lunch" was delicious. Haven't tried eating web page services yet though...

And this:

Currently due to a technical problem you can not renew your domain names, you will be able to renew starting Friday.

That was several weeks after getting an e-mail that I could renew my domain name for the next year, by clicking on a given link. Of course, after clicking, I got an error message.

I don't want to extend on that, but you just see their style and of course you can understand why I'm not happy. And if I'm not happy, I'm starting over at dot-name nic in order to find a better registrar.

I've had a look at 16 registrar websites and... oh boy. That was a hard task. Where are the prices? what's the difference between this or that package? Some websites are a real mess. Not to mention that all failed to validate and only two had provided a doctype. For html 4.0x. But their page didn't validate nevertheless. 5 sites even failed to broadcast a character encoding. Sad but true: companies in the core of the web don't follow the specs.

Ok, so let's look at the prices. Most of the registrars have different prices for 1, 2 and 10 years, usually with a nice discount if you take 10 years. For me however, even if I don't have the discount, I prefer to take only a one year commitment with these companies. Until I find one that really satisfies me. Some registrars also have a 5-year discount, I disregarded this one since it's rather an exception. The prices are given in Euro, without VAT if applicable.

Also, most of the registrars have 3 different options: domain registration and web forwarding, domain registration and e-mail forwarding, both. I've only looked at domain registration and web forwarding, maybe if I find some time I will compare the other offers later on.

The used exchange rates are as follows:
1 CHF = 0.677 EUR
1 USD = 0.978 EUR
1 GBP = 1.554 EUR

  • speednames: 45 / 75 / 275
  • corenic: list of other registrars, of which I've looked at a Swiss one, webland (at the bottom of this list)
  • tmagnic: absolutely no information at all about prices. Or do you see anyting?
  • domaininfo: 67.48 / 101.22 / 370.65
  • gandi: 12 / 24 / 120
  • internetters: minimum 2 years / 62.16 / 195.86
  • domaindiscount24: 32 / 64 / 320
  • melbourneit: 34.22 / 68.44 / 342.21
  • gtld: minimum 2 years / 95.81 / 479.12
  • nominatia: 16.76 / 29.26 / 117.04
  • onlinenic: 9.77 / 16.99 / 78.15
  • register: absolutely no information at all about prices. Or do you see anything?
  • totalregistrations: 9.50 / 16.50 / 67.50
  • tucows: 9.78 / 19.56 / 97.78
  • idregister: 19.51 / 34.17 / 97.54
  • webland: 33.17 / 66.34 / 331.71

Well, tucows and onlinenic seem to be really very low. But it turns out their target customer is not me, but rather wholesellers who get those low prices if they find a lot of customers for them. Gandi looks really nice. I've just read some of their pages and they are really good IMHO: they are using only OpenSource or custom software. They provide redirection and DNS hosting for no additional cost. I think I don't have to look any further :)

/me stepping out of the .name jungle...


Journal Journal: HTML-Kit with wine

Since the school I am teaching at is still using Windows (we're going to switch to Linux really soon now), I decided to use HTML-Kit as a preferred HTML editor (for my web classes).

On their pages, I discovered an instruction about how to run HTML-Kit on Linux with Wine. The instructions are for RedHat, but since I'm running Mandrake 9.0 I think it won't be a big problem. Or maybe not? Here's what they say:

As of Build 292 Beta 4, Linux support is mostly experimental and recommended for expert users only.

  • Install RedHat Linux version 7.3+ and Wine build 20020801+. Other configurations may also work, however not covered in this document.
  • Install HTML-Kit Build 292 by running wine setup_file_name.exe
  • Change to the HTML-Kit/Bin directory and run: wine HTMLKit.exe /linux

Expert users... I am not. Let's give it a try anyways...

$ su
# urpmi wine
Prepairing ... ##################################################
1:wine ##################################################
2:libwine1 ##################################################

# mv HKSetup.exe /var/lib/wine/My\ Documents/

This was needed because for some reason wine couldn't find this file when located in my home directory

# exit
$ wine Program\ Files/Chami/HTML-Kit/Bin/HTMLKit.exe /linux

Usage: wine.bin [options] [--] program_name [arguments]
The -- has to be used if you specify arguments OR options

Oh well... Trying this way then:

$ wine Program\ Files/Chami/HTML-Kit/Bin/HTMLKit.exe

mcop warning: user defined signal handler found for SIG_PIPE, overriding
wine: Unhandled exception, starting debugger...

Never mind. Don't have the time to play around now.

$ su
# rpm -e wine libwine1
# rm -rvf /var/lib/wine/
# exit

Any suggestions welcome. Thanks.


Journal Journal: Connecting Windows 3.11 to the internet... (to the what?)

Another afternoon lost. Well not completely, but still, I couldn't achieve what I wanted to.

I have that old computer from 1993 or 1994. Connected to it is a Mikrotec ScanMaker II via SCSI. I use it occasionally, less since I have my digital camera. But still, it's annoying to have to start up Windows 3.11 just for scanning pictures. And then keep them small enough to be able to copy them on a floppy and take them over to my new computer.

So my goal today was to take the SCSI card out of that old box and put it into my new one. For sure I would find the appropriate driver for Linux. But... The SCSI card didn't match on my new computer: the card is bigger than the thing where I have to plug it into, and that same thing is not at the same distance from the back of the box. Ok, put it back to the old box.

Then I remembered I had somewhere an ethernet card. Hey, I could build it into the old box, so I could finally test Netscape 3.0 on it... Of course, that would also allow me to shift around data with much less pain.

Since I have only one ethernet cable, I couldn't yet try to connect the computers together, but I could try to connect them to the internet, alternatively.

Ok, so I figured out how to set up the network on Windows 3.11 ("for workgroups"). But wait, why doesn't it connect to the internet? Ah yes, TCP/IP is not configured. How do I do that? Well, I found the needed files on microsoft and figured out how to install them. Ok, but still no work.

What remains to do? backup the valuable data I still have on that old old box and then install some Linux on it. Let's see when I find another free afternoon to lose my time on.

United States

Journal Journal: US Warcrimes in Korean war 13

The war US-GB vs Iraq is coming closer and closer. It looks like nothing will stop Bush and Blair. A very good opportunity to look 50 years back and analyze what happened during the Korean War.

Warning: I don't mean to tell how great my country is (Switzerland), that it never made any mistakes (collaborated with Nazi Germany by sending them Jewish refugees), but I think that any country has to face its past even if it's hard to admit the truth.

The first time I've heard of this topic was on Swiss public radio (the French speaking one) and if you understand some French, go ahead and listen to the stuff. It starts around Minute 4 of the audio feed and lasts roughly 30 minutes. The last one contains some comments (in English) by the producer of a documentary film, Tom Roberts (US citizen).

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday (I don't know how long the files will be available)

I'm going to try to quote Tom Roberts here. I say "try" because there's a simultanous translation over his voice.

My name is Tom Roberts and I'm the director of a BBC Timewatch film "Kill them all", it's the story about war crimes during the Korean war. I'm also an American citizen, and have been living for almost 30 years in Great Britain as a producer of documentary films. Making this film, as an American, was a personal challenge and an exploration of the history of my country.

The main reason I felt that this film had to be done, even though there are a lot of things I love about my country, is that there's a big culture of isolationism, due probably of the Oceans on both sides, which make a big gap to the rest of the world. And I think, America sometimes has some difficulty to understand the impact of its own actions in the rest of the world. That's a big problem.

As an American I felt that it was important to not only watch the successes, but also face that every country is capable of committing atrocities. No matter what democracity it has, no matter what are its intentions. No matter what goals of their actions are. There's always a possibility of ugly errors. (...)

And unfortunately, American people don't realize that, while they are motivated to do the Good(TM), they are also able to do the Bad(TM). The isolationism can produce a kind of arrogance, a feeling of superiority, a complex of superiority even, which is absolutely inappropriate.

And he goes on like that. I won't quote the problems he had with the Pentagon and the CIA, that's obviously what you are faced to whenever you have another point of view than the government.

So... My point - and I keep on telling this to my American friends - is that the Good and the Bad is not like white and black. And that to be against some actions of the US does not mean we are on the dark side.

For all those who cannot understand why many countries are against the war in Iraq please understand that this does not mean that we are for Saddam Hussein. I for one care about the civilian people who are being manipulated by the regime, who are suffering because of that, who are suffering because of the UN embargo, and who definitely will suffer from the bombs. And it would be sad to have to find in 50 years some de-classified records proving the warcrimes of the USA in Iraq.


Journal Journal: First impression of SuSE Linux

I've been using Mandrake 8.1 on my personal computer for half a year now. Today, I had to install SuSE 8.0 at my school computer. Which is supposed to be more advanced than Mandrake 8.1.

Supposed to. Because for me, it's much inferior. To begin with, the setup tool, Yast2. Crap. Not transparent process. Partitioning made more complicated than you could imagine (do I know what a cylinder is?). Then I wanted to install Mozilla. From the packages I could find on the 7(!) CDs, no Mozilla. I guess it must be somewhere, but heck! Where did they hide it? Ok, no problem, I'll just download the newest and run it in my home. I even made a shortcut on my K-bar but it would not run. It does on Mandrake, why not on SuSE? And Finally, I wanted to setup and configure Apache, PHP and MySQL. I gave it up: where do I start the services? where are they? Have they been installed at all?

Ok... I have that Demo-CD of Mandrake 8.2. I'll take it to school and I'll install it on my computer. Much more straight forward and clear to me. At least I won't lose my time trying to figure out cryptographic stuff from the SuSE people. No thanks, I need the computer to work, not to play around.


Journal Journal: Mozilla advocacy in South Korea

I've been staying in South Korea for almost a month and here, more than anywhere else, Internet Explorer is just THE browser.

I installed Mozilla on a friend's computer and noticed some weird things:

Even if Mozilla is open and ready to be used, the friend clicked on the IE quick start button, waited for 15 seconds until it was ready for use (yes a slow Win98 machine...) and then started browsing.

I was surprized to see that the favorites were not being used. Sites accessed daily were accessed through the history list of the address field.

I am convinced that Mozilla is superior to IE. One big problem in South Korea which prevents Mozilla use on a regular basis is the very impressive number of sites which use bad javascript (sometimes even used for logging into a site...). Even IE regularly displays the yellow triangle in the bottom left. But it works... document.all & co. however don't work in Mozilla. Too bad.

Let's see what can be done. I'm really hoping that the Korean W3C office will work hard on evangelizing the W3C standards...

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"It says he made us all to be just like him. So if we're dumb, then god is dumb, and maybe even a little ugly on the side." -- Frank Zappa