The rantings of a beautiful mind

On life, society, and computer technology.

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Monday, April 24, 2006

A few words from Microsoft's "friends"...

You and I don’t need to bash Microsoft. Let Microsoft’s friends do it...!!

Read the Linux-Watch article.

So, there you have it. A senior Microsoft employee saying that XP can be so thoroughly compromised that you may have no choice but to destroy and rebuild your PCs; a Windows expert's expert dismissing Vista as an "utter disaster"; and an extremely well-respected Microsoft integrator and MVP turning to open-source because it makes better financial sense.

I really don't have to say a thing about Microsoft, do I?

A Spy Speaks Out

Bush was a stinking liar. Rice, Rumsfeld and Cheney were complicit in the lie so they too were stinking liars. It was American policy to invade Iraq long before 9/11 and they were looking for any excuse to do so...

Read about the 60 Minutes program.

"The idea of going after Iraq was U.S. policy. It was going to happen one way or the other," says Drumheller.

Asked if that was his reaction, Drumheller says, "That was our reaction from the very beginning. The report didn't hold together."

However, Vice President Dick Cheney thought the story was worth investigating [of course, he did!! -Richard], and asked the CIA not to discount the story without first taking a closer look. So, in February 2002, the agency sent former ambassador Joseph Wilson to Niger to investigate.

"The policy was set," Drumheller says. "The war in Iraq was coming. And they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy, to justify the policy."

This confirms what I suspected right from the very beginning...

Friday, April 21, 2006

Apple's Future is Blazingly Bright!

I also believe that Apple will offer in OS X 10.5 the ability to run native Windows XP applications with no copy of XP installed on the machine at all. This will be accomplished not by using compatibility middleware like Wine, but rather by Apple implementing the Windows API directly in OS X 10.5.

I'm told Apple has long had this running in the Cupertino lab -- Intel Macs running OS X while mixing Apple and XP applications. This is not a guess or a rumor, this is something that has been demonstrated and observed by people who have since reported to me.

Think of the implications. A souped-up OS X kernel with native Windows API support and the prospect of mixing and matching Windows and Mac applications would be, for many users, the best of both worlds. There would be no copy of Windows XP to buy, no large overhead of emulation or compatibility middleware, no chance for Microsoft to ‘accidentally’ screw things up, substantially better security, and no need to even take a chance on Windows Vista.

Ooooh, this is so exciting!! I may have to upgrade to a Mactel one of these days!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Windows under OS X

Apple's Plan to Provide the Best Darned Windows Experience Anywhere -- Even Better Than Microsoft

Read I, Cringely.

The version of Boot Camp that will ship with OS X 10.5 will likely be very different from the version people are playing with today. The actual shipping version, I predict, will have full OS virtualization so that both operating systems can run side-by-side and a user can cut and paste data from one to the other. Apple may have already developed this capability, or maybe they'll license or buy it from outside. Parallel Workstation 2.1 sure looks nice from Parallels, Inc. Maybe Apple should buy the whole company.

So Apple will at least offer the option for users to run a virtualized version of Windows Vista atop OS X, which brings with it two HUGE advantages. First, the bad guys and script kiddies will have to get through OS X security before they even have a chance at cracking Vista security. Second, by running a virtual version of Windows Vista loaded from a read-only partition, Microsoft's recommended method of dealing with malware (periodically wipe the OS and application from your disk and load them anew) can be done in seconds instead of hours and can be done daily instead of monthly or quarterly or yearly.

By running Windows Vista this way, Apple can offer the most secure version of Vista available with the lowest Total Cost of Ownership, which could lead to a leadership change in business computing. Down with Dell and HP and up with Apple.

Microsoft engineers were convinced Vista would be so superior that nobody would need OS X again.

These same seven engineers must have stopped for a drink not long ago at John Dvorak's house because he's been making the same claim -- that Apple will drop OS X for Windows.

That's not at all what I think will happen. Apple isn't going to throw away its clearest point of differentiation and greatest technical advantage just to become another Windows OEM. That would make them little better than Sony and Sony can out-manufacture Apple any day.

Running Windows virtually under OS X is brilliant! Yes, I think Cringely is absolutely right on this one...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


I was listening to a story the other evening about Pope Benedict. They mentioned that the Roman Catholic Church has over a billion faithful and this got me thinking...

Not all of the billion “faithful” are truly spiritual people. Many people go to church regularly out of habit. I’ll bet that many churchgoers don’t even believe in God or don’t know whether to believe in God. And just because you believe in God doesn’t necessarily mean that you are spiritually connected to your fellow man or to the universe. This is very evident in our world where people routinely ignore the homeless or lack compassion and understanding for those who do us wrong. Is this not contrary to Christian teaching?

Another example: People routinely get married in a church, even if one or both of the couple are nonreligious or even non-spiritual. They do so out of meaningless tradition or ceremonial convention. They pay lip service to spirituality. (Just a heads up: there is something called a “civil marriage” that’s a perfectly good alternative.)

George Bush is a regular churchgoer and a born-again Christian. Yet, his political conduct and foreign policy decisions are contrary to Christ’s teachings and distinctly non-spiritual. This is the very definition of hypocrisy.

In our modern world, spirituality is always a secondary priority, second to whatever major practical concerns loom over us. (James and Norm would tell us, what’s the point in being spiritual if we’re killed by terrorists?) But if your spirituality is not the foremost guiding force in your life, then you are not de facto spiritual – you are a poseur. And therefore you are a hypocrite.

Being spiritual should infuse you with an attitude and a conduct that is always consistent with your connectedness to the universe and to your fellow man, whether he be your friend or your enemy. This is independent of any religion. This is true regardless of whether you are a Christian or a Jew or a Buddhist or a Hindu. (I am irreligious.)

Being spiritual should be your first priority, whether in your personal life or in your public life (i.e., with respect to social/judicial policy, foreign policy, economic policy, etc.).

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Are We Good?

On 4/17/06 11:22 AM, "Karasmanis, Tom" wrote:

A question, do you feel we should be “democratizing” the Islamic, Arab, or any other worlds?

Of course, this is James’ and George Bush’s position all along. They take it upon themselves to change other people, change the internal makeup of other countries, change the world order, as if this were their God-given right, their destiny, their prerogative. Such arrogance! Such hubris! Such righteousness!

Separating the need to defend ourselves in some way (another topic) from terrorism and related threats, do you feel we have the right to go into another country and impose a political or other such system?

Turn the question around: Does another country (say, the former Soviet Union) have the right to go into our country and impose their political/economic/religious system? However, James would say that WE have the moral right because WE are good, WE are just, WE stand for freedom. While you and I may believe that we are good, isn’t that just a point of view? Aren’t we being arrogant and righteous?

Well, here’s another question: Are we good? Mind you, we aren’t all bad...we do stand for freedom, we are progressive socially and technologically. But this does not obviate the bad.

And the bad is legion: we rape our environment for the sake of economic growth; we interfere in the internal affairs of other nations through propping up puppet governments (Saddam is a fine example), through inciting rebellion (Nicaragua is a fine example), through all-out war (the Vietnam War is a fine example); our multinational corporations go into Third World countries and exploit their workers, dump our garbage, rape their environment (they also improve the quality of life for many but there’s no question that a LOT of abuse and exploitation take place, as evidenced by numerous journalist stories); the United States, for all their economic and military might, are rotting from within – gun violence is way out of proportion to their population when compared to any other developed country, moral decay is evident everywhere, addictions of all kinds are rampant – they are our modern day Sodom and Gomorrah.

Fact: We are not good. We may take solace in believing that we are better than most, but evil runs through our veins. For us to take the moral high ground is enormously hypocritical. For us to take the role of shaping the world order is arrogant and patronizing. We have not earned the right to assume such a role. But we do so for one reason and one reason only:

Because we can. We have the might. And perhaps this is the ultimate message that James and Bush are giving us...”might makes right.”


Homo Hostilis

Indeed, we live in a very violent world. And when attacked, we need to defend ourselves. But at the same time, we need to try to follow the path of love and compassion.

Here’s a question to ponder: If the nature of our violent world compels us to continually wage war, how will Homo Hostilis ever evolve beyond his violent nature? Are we condemned to never-ending violence in our civilization? How do we break this vicious cycle?

We have learned nothing since the last just and necessary war (WWII). Was the Korean War necessary? Was the Vietnam War necessary? Was the war in Haiti necessary? The war in Grenada? Was the first Gulf War necessary? And now you argue that the Iraq War is necessary. My, my, so many necessary wars!

In your worldview, we are condemned to eternal violence. Somebody has to step up and be the hero. Somebody has to try and break the cycle. If not you, then who?


On 4/17/06 8:35 AM, "Sobotic Research" wrote:

While you are at it I would also love to hear what course you would suggest to stop the hordes of Atilla the Hun or Genghis Khan or Alexander or Pizarro?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Re: James Loney Speaks

You’re absolutely right, the practical problems of the world are very complex. You’re dealing with corruption, greed, special interest, racial/religious hatred...the list is endless. The real issue is, from what place do you deal with these complex problems? Do you deal with them from a place of violence and brute force, a place of intolerance and inflexibility? Or do you deal with them from a place of love and understanding, of positive spirit and pliability? Whichever way you go, your work is cut out for you. It is not easy. But you can come up with solutions that are unique to either philosophy.

James asked, has anyone come up with a workable solution using the approach of love and compassion? That’s a good question. Here’s another good one: Has anyone ever tried? In the long history of humankind, can James (or anyone) cite past attempts to solve these difficult problems using the peaceful and loving approach? James wants to see a solution where all the dots are connected. If he doesn’t see such a solution, he dismisses the approach as being wishy washy and pointless.

But consider the “solution” of the Bush administration. I don’t see all the connected dots, either. The most explanation that we have ever heard from Bush or Cheney or Rumsfeld or Rice is that establishing democracy in one or two Muslim countries will cause a domino effect and so democracy will spread throughout the Islamic world, thereby eliminating terrorism. Gee, does this not sound just a wee bit simplistic? Excuse me but I don’t see the dots connected. The “solution” is as much a wishy washy article of faith as any from the world’s spiritual leaders.

Tom, the “love and compassion” approach is neither naïve nor extreme. It is simply a different foundation upon which to seek solutions. The “solution set” will be entirely different from the one that exists today, as it should be. It will take a lot of work and there will be many missteps, but that’s no different from past history. The Americans’ foreign policy evolved over many decades of trial and error, failed and sometimes catastrophic attempts, and lots of muddling around. Only by virtue of long history does this approach appear in any way “clear” and practical. But imagine, just imagine, if the course of human history had benefited from centuries of peaceful and loving attempts to uplift our species. Along the way, we would also have suffered many setbacks, many tragedies. But our history has shown that an equally dear price has been paid. Progress is not without pain and suffering.

The people in power lack imagination. They lack faith. And that’s the point made by people like Gafni and Rimpoche and the Pope.

But whereas James’ approach condemns us to eternal violence, the spiritually based approach offers the hope that we can break the cycle. One offers the status quo, the other offers evolution. There’s an old saying that “madness is defined as doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting a different result every time.” The world we live in is indeed mad...


On 4/17/06 11:32 AM, "Karasmanis, Tom" wrote:

On the other hand, how will a peaceful non-violent solution achieve world peace? I am not convinced that a non-violent way is any better.

Question: are economic sanctions (which typically hurt the population) considered non-violent? Where is the line drawn?

After all, the US “aggression” so far (prior to the Gulf Wars) has been non-violent. Osama is upset over massive US and Western economic domination and exploitation – but these are not violent acts and yet he responded in a violent way. So the question is: how much do we have to back off? Are we not allowed to open businesses in other countries due to exploitation issues? What about the fact that much of the exploitation is by Arabs and Muslims themselves in positions of power, all in cahoots with US and international businesspeople? Money crosses nationality and race. It is the universal language. The issue is far greater and deeper than having a peaceful non-violent response.

Many people object to the West’s way of living. What do you do when the objection is educating women (which makes them think and talk back)? Do we stop educating women to promote peace?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

James Loney Speaks

"I'm always having to confront my own inability to love and my own inner poverty. But it's a way to live that makes sense. It seems to be a real and practical way to live as a Christian."
James Loney

Read this Toronto Star piece.

I am learning many things from my captivity, and have a universe of things to be grateful for. Among them is a new and deep appreciation for the women and men who wear the uniform of military service. I likely would not be writing this today if it were not for them. Thus, I am confronted with a great paradox. I, the Christian pacifist peacemaker, am alive, am free because of the very institutions I believe are contrary to Christian teaching.

Christ teaches us to love our enemies, do good to those who harm us, pray for those who persecute us. He calls us to accept suffering before we inflict injury. He calls us to pick up the cross and to lay down the sword.

We will most certainly fail in this call. I did. And I'll fail again. This does not change Christ's teaching that violence itself is the tomb, violence is the dead-end. Peace won through the barrel of a gun might be a victory but it is not peace. Our captors had guns and they ruled over us. Our rescuers had bigger guns and ruled over the captors. We were freed, but the rule of the gun stayed. The stone across the tomb of violence has not been rolled away.

James Loney reminds us that spirituality is not a destination, it’s a journey. And it’s a difficult one. Like he, I too wrestle with my own inability to love, my own inner poverty. But struggle we must, for this is the only way that we can hope for a better future, one that is free from violence and hate, one where we as a species grow and evolve into truly spiritual beings.

Yesterday I attended a lecture at U of T (Trinity College) given by Gehlek Rimpoche, the renown Tibetan Buddhist lama. It was entitled, “Spiritual Practice in Challenging Times.” He began by talking about the vain attempts by people to seek happiness in all the wrong places...through consumerism and economic greed, through addiction and violence. (This is consistent with what I’ve been learning from The Mystery of Love, that people pursue pseudo eros of all kinds in a vain attempt to live erotically.)

Then he discussed how everything in the world is interconnected. No person’s actions are isolated; we all contribute to the welfare, or disease, of the world through the spiritual interconnectedness that is recognized in nearly all religious faiths.

Towards the end, Rimpoche came to the key point of the talk. He said that all of our problems, both personally and globally, stem from our “egos,” not the psychological definition of ego but the aspect of ourselves that reveal our selfishness and negative human impulses. He urged people to rise above our own egos and to seek spiritual connectedness. We cannot be responsible for how others behave, we can only be responsible for ourselves. As individuals, we can contribute to the spiritual health of the world, and even if it seems that our own contributions pale in comparison to the evil that looms over us, at least we hew to our integrity, in particular, our spiritual integrity.

Like the “butterfly effect” that Marc Gafni alludes to in The Mystery of Love, each of us has an effect on the world, no matter how small. Rimpoche echoed this in his talk.

Two waves in the ocean were having a conversation as they flowed toward the shore. The larger wave was extremely depressed, and the small wave was peacefully flowing along. “If you could see what I see from up here,” says the larger wave to the small wave, “you would not be so happy.” “Well, what is it?” “In not too long we will crash into the shore and that will be the end of us.” “Oh that,” says the small wave. “That’s okay.” “What, are you crazy!?” “No. I know a little secret that tells me it’s all okay,” says the small wave. “Would you like me to share it with you?”

At this point our large wave friend is both curious and suspicious. “Will I have to pay a lot of money to learn this secret?” “No, not at all.” “Will I have to do zazen [sitting meditation] for thirty years in lotus position?” “No, not at all,” says the small wave. “Really, the whole thing is only eight words.” “Eight words!!! Well, tell me already!” So the small wave says ever so gently, “You are not a wave. You are water.”

You’re not a wave, you are water. This is why the symbol of love in Hebrew mysticism is water. For to love humanity is to get beyond the limited boundary of the wave that is bound to crash.

- The Mystery of Love

When I read this passage from the book, I was stunned. This exact same notion (and the same metaphor!) entered my mind independently several years ago, the same notion that essentially ignited my spiritual journey! At the spiritual level, you and I are not separate and distinct from the homeless man in the street, from the starving child in Africa, from the punk kid in high school carrying a firearm, from the terribly misguided head of state in the Oval Office, from the mugger who steals your wallet in the parking lot, from the crazy neighbour trying to remove your air conditioner, from the sex worker plying her trade in a seedy strip joint, from the Islamofascist trying to kill us, from the Scientologist movie star going on about antidepressants. At the spiritual level, we are all one. And when we fight against each other, we are fighting against ourselves. In the view of Gehlek Rimpoche, it is our egos that separate and divide us, that retard our spiritual evolution.

We begin with ourselves. We take responsibility for our own spiritual development. That’s all the individual can do; we have no control over others’ behaviours. But in doing our part to embrace love and compassion, we can expect positive change to percolate throughout the world. The process may not be obvious or visibly delineated but it has to be a matter of faith (just as the success of the current course of action by the Americans in democratizing the Islamic world is a matter of faith).

During the question and answer period after Rimpoche’s talk, a young student asked Rimpoche how the violence of the Second World War, which was considered necessary and just in stopping Hitler, could be reconciled with the idea of love and compassion. Rimpoche’s response was both unexpected and astonishing.

He said that the Second World War, as a matter of historical event, had a positive outcome – Europe was freed, the Jews were saved, the evil that was Hitler was eliminated – but we had learned nothing from that war. Violence continued to be a fact of life since WWII...Communism swept the world, numerous brutal dictatorships arose, and today we face terrorism. Without spiritual evolution, the war changed nothing in the human condition. We don’t know that a different course of action might not have eventually ended the Nazi threat; in fact, we will never know. But Rimpoche said that had he been in Churchill’s shoes, or Roosevelt’s shoes, he might have chosen a course other than war.

Following the path of love and compassion is a necessary requisite if we hope to ever eliminate violence and hate. It does not mean that we can always avoid the use of force, but it does mean that we must always try to embrace love and compassion, that we must hold to this attitude closely when we deal with the world. The problem with the Bush administration and all those who support the Iraq War is that, for them, it was an either-or proposition, mutually exclusive. Worse than that, it was never an either-or proposition, because they never had the capacity to follow the path of love. They never possessed the spiritual connectedness that was required. Such is the illness that holds our world it its grip.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Do We Deserve to Survive?

On this week’s Battlestar Galactica, a question was raised that I had never really given much thought to. The President of the Colonies told Commander Adama that he must have Admiral Cain (Michelle Forbes) killed in order to preserve the future of the Colonies. President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) had no doubt that Cain would try to kill Adama. And indeed this was true – unbeknownst to Adama, Cain had a plan in place to eliminate him.

Adama (Edward James Olmos) made a difficult choice: he arranged to have Admiral Cain assassinated. But at the last moment, a talk with a Cylon spy convinced him to “do the right thing.” The spy told him that, prior to the Cylon attack on the Colonies, she heard Adama give a speech at the decommissioning of the Galactica. Adama said that while mankind had struggled mightily to survive, not once did they ever ask themselves whether they deserved to survive. He finally decided that violating all ethical principles in order to continue was wrong.

The same question had been raised in my mind years earlier in an episode of Star Trek called “Mirror, Mirror.” But at the time I was not mature enough to fully comprehend the issue. In that show, Kirk, McCoy, Scotty and Uhura were accidentally transported to a parallel universe where Earth was imperialistic. The Empire was trying to force the Halkans to give up their dilithium crystals. Kirk was under orders to destroy the Halkans if they did not comply.

The Halkans decided that they would rather perish than violate their ethical principles. At the time I found this attitude rather strange but then, I was rather ignorant and unsophisticated and lacking in wisdom.

The question that both of these examples really asked was, How far must we go in order to survive? Must we sacrifice all ethical and moral values? And if we do so, have we earned the right to survive?

Survival at all costs is a principle that many people adhere to. This is the position of the animal kingdom, where no distinction is ever made on the basis of right and wrong. Survival is the biological and genetic imperative – it is the only thing that counts. Matters of the spirit are purely secondary, if they count at all.

(We won’t get into the discussion about right and wrong being based on logic and practicality. This is another story altogether and one that is distinctly non-humanistic.)

The survival-at-all-costs principle is predicated on the notion that if you don’t survive, how can you ever uphold your ethical principles. This question is actually ass-backwards... The real question should be: If you only uphold your ethical principles whenever you can afford to, then how are they “principles?” Man will always be able to come up with practical excuses for violating his ethics – it is simply the nature of the universe we live in. When survival is the only name of the game, ethical behaviour can never evolve and man can never rise above his animal relatives.

This, I think, is what the church has always taught us, as well. Although I am against organized religion, I do understand where they come from on this point. Are we man or animal? Are we creatures of spirit or creatures of instinct? We can be forgiven for doing evil, but we can never be excused.

“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children.”
Jimmy Carter

If someone puts a gun to my brother’s head and threatens to shoot him if I don’t use an axe to hack my dear friend Stan to pieces, do I use the axe? In the film Nick of Time, Johnny Depp is supposed to assassinate someone in order to save his daughter’s life. These are moral dilemmas we face all the time. We know what the right thing to do is in every case but because some of us are no better than animals, we often make the wrong decisions. If survival is the only name of the game, then there can be no morality, no ethics, no principles, only the cold logic of our biology.

If you ask a Shaolin monk what is the best way to deal with force, he will tell you that the preferred method is to run away. This, despite his skills in kung fu.

You do not meet a wave head-on; it is better to avoid it. You do not try to stop a force – you redirect it. Always try to preserve, rather than destroy. Avoid rather than check. Check rather than hurt. Hurt rather than maim. Maim rather than kill. It is vital to understand that all life is precious. Violence should always be the last recourse.

And even then, you must examine the ethics of it to determine whether it’s the right thing to do.