February 24th, 2011

The not-so revolution, let alone an Islamic revolution

In one of the new sources I follow, there was a review of “This is not an Islamic Revolution“. Allow me to be slightly lazy and copy here the fragments they choose too.

Our (read: Western) fear that any uprising in the middle east must resemble the devastating Iranian example is false.

Look at those involved in the uprisings, and it is clear that we are dealing with a post-Islamist generation. For them, the great revolutionary movements of the 1970s and 1980s are ancient history, their parents’ affair. The members of this young generation aren’t interested in ideology: their slogans are pragmatic and concrete – “Erhal!” or “Go now!”. Unlike their predecessors in Algeria in the 1980s, they make no appeal to Islam; rather, they are rejecting corrupt dictatorships and calling for democracy. This is not to say that the demonstrators are secular; but they are operating in a secular political space, and they do not see in Islam an ideology capable of creating a better world.

There is no link with terrorist groups. This is all about fighting repression and corrupt regimes.

Indeed, global jihad is completely detached from social movements and national struggles. Al-Qaeda tries to present itself as the vanguard of the global Muslim “umma” in its battle against western oppression, but without success. Al-Qaeda recruits deracinated young jihadists who have cut themselves off entirely from their families and communities. It remains stuck in the logic of the “propaganda of the deed” and has never bothered to try to build political structures inside Muslim societies.

Even more, thinking that  repressive, secular regime will somehow protect “us” against Islamic fundamentalism is flawed.

It is also a mistake to see the dictatorships as defending secularism against religious fanaticism. With the exception of Tunisia, authoritarian regimes in the Arab world have not made their societies secular; on the contrary, they have reached an accommodation with a neofundamentalist form of re-Islamisation in which the imposition of sharia law is called for without any discussion of the nature of political power.

It is a VERY compelling read. Recommended.

February 17th, 2011

Locked in a Vegas Hotel Room

Violating the laws of nature. Playing God. Capturing stuff we are not suppose to see. Potentially opening up a wormhole in the fabric of time.

These are a few of the things I think about while shooting with a Phantom High Speed Digital Cinema camera. The above video is a bunch of test footage I shot to get familiar with the new “Flex” version. I shot inside my Las Vegas Palms Casino hotel room between the hours of 2am and 6am. If you had a Phantom in your bedroom, you would stay up too!

Tom Guilmette is a professional camera man, and he got his hands on some cool high speed camera!



February 7th, 2011

The Dunning–Kruger effect

Enlightening isn’t it? Or am I too harsh here?

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled people make poor decisions and reach erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the metacognitive ability to appreciate their mistakes.[1] The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their ability as above average, much higher than it actually is, while the highly skilled underrate their own abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority.

February 6th, 2011
February 2nd, 2011

Real Media

If there is one thing I really detest, it is RealPlayer. I haven’t installed it in ages, as it is the sort of nagware you want to avoid (and thus, as we call it, vote with our feet: just don’t use it).

The other day, I was sent an audio link that was Real Media stream, with an inclination to listen. So, I had a deep sigh and mentally decided to reboot into Windows 7 (or maybe even create a new virtual machine for it), install Real Player and run. Just before doing that, I clicked the link anyway, just for fun, and actually, to see if Ubuntu would offer me to install “Real Media Player for Linux”. To my surprise, Totem (the standard media player) opened and happily played the stream without complaint.

I am happier ever day with my Ubuntu setup :)