Not much time

I haven't had much time to read or write Livejournal, I'm a lot busier at work these days and a lot busier at home.

I have been following the Iranian protests, and things are continuing to look worse and worse for the reform people, I've heard a variety of things in the last little while that all point to the Iranian government slowly settling into their new role as religious tyrants.

Bad for the reformers:
The Iranian government has begun torturing some of the detainees into making false confessions which are being aired on National Television to "prove" that Britain and America orchestrated "fake" protests in Iran. Of course, this is nothing new, Iran has been using this tactic for many years to discredit anyone and anything they disagree with.

The most damning for the government was the start today of calls for the leaders of the reform movement to be put to death today because they are "fighting against God". That's clearly a bad sign for everyone. If they start following through on that action, it seems to me that one of two things must happen, either a coup or a civil war.

Good for the reformers:
The Iranian stock market has been mostly stable but only, it appears because the Iranian government has been spending a lot of money to keep it stable. As the crisis in Iran continues, the government has to spend more and more money to prop the market up. They can't do so indefinitely.

More than half of the Iranian MPs failed to show up for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's victory celebration.

My musings:
Religion and government are a poor mix. I'm not sure all religions are a bad match, but I am sure that at least any religion with monotheistic or absolute truths is. Once religion and government are intermingled, it becomes very easy for the government to believe that is the only legitimate representative of the religion, and that to question the government is to question the religion. And if it's easy, it will inevitably happen. The worst is that belief in absolute correctness means that the government can never back down once it has taken this position. To do so would be fail God and that can never be tolerated. It's an inevitable march towards totalitarian brutality from that point onward.


Moving can be a humbling experience, to see all the artifacts of your life bundled up into boxes and then put into temporary storage, is little like taking apart your life one piece at a time. Almost everything we own is going into storage until our new house is ready for us to move in. It all fits into two 10x10 storage units.

Of course our lives are more than just things, but it's still humbling.
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Canadian News

Harper intends to cut funding to political parties in Canada and/or bring down the Canadian government on Monday. Cynically, this is a good time for him to force an election, with the liberals just beginning the leadership selection process, they're in an even weaker position than the last time around. If that's not enough, the budget also refuses to engage in any "stimulus" activity to keep our economy running. I don't know whether that's absolutely vital to the country or not, but it looks like it was skipped deliberately to make sure that the budget wouldn't pass.

There's some hope, though. The Liberals, NDP and Bloc are in talks to form a coalition government to replace the conservatives on Monday after the confidence vote fails. If they can agree on an interim government, then they only need to show the Governor General that they have "the confidence of parliament" (a majority of votes) to replace the current Conservative minority.

That will be kind of weird, though, because that would, in theory, make Dion Prime Minister after he declared he was stepping down as the leader of his party. A situation which, as far as I am aware, is unprecedented. Additionally, it marks the second time this year that Harper will have intentionally brought down the government, after passing a law to prevent this type of cynical election timing. So far he hasn't broken the letter of the law, which shows that the law is a lame duck and should probably never have been passed in the first place.

Either way, I can only hope this opens some peoples eyes to Harper's utter failure as a leader and a statesman.

Fanaticism runs Rampant

There have been a pair of articles in the news recently that have caught my attention:

1) In India there has been a series of coordinated attacks on locations foreigners are likely to be and a particular attempt to single out American and British nationals during the attacks. The attacks have hit at least six different locations in Mumbai and the gunmen have taken hostages. Frankly, I don't understand the motivation for the attacks, but there are some interesting stories coming out. There's one about some South African bodyguards who rescued 120 hostages from one of the hotels (they even carried one elderly woman down 25 flights of stairs to safety).

2) In Britain some Muslim prisoners are forcing other prisoners to convert to Islam or face punishment ranging from beatings to torture.

I don't know what to say, I know most Muslims are probably nice civilized people, but these extremists are not only attacking groups they think are enemies of Islam, they're creating people who hate Muslims. They're isolating Muslims from other people and they're impoverishing Islamic communities. True when they're attacking foreigners it's less worse than when they're carrying out doctrinal genocide against other Muslims, but really, it has to stop and it has to be other Muslims who put an end to these hypocritical fanatics.

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Stardock (Wikipedia) is quickly becoming my favourite game company. They used to make games for OS/2, but moved to windows in 98 when OS/2 ended up going nowhere. Recently they've been in the news for their Gamer Bill of Rights which they announced at PAX.

As if that wasn't enough, they've tried to revive 3 of my all-time favorite computer game series:
Master of Magic
Master of Orion

Unfortunately, Atari owns the rights to those franchises and isn't interested in developing anything for them or letting anyone else develop anything for them.

It also doesn't hurt that Stardock made "Galactic Civilizations" which is a pretty awesome 4X game in it's own right. That reminds me that I need to get the latest expansion for GalCiv 2.

The key with Stardock is that these guys seem to get it. They seem to understand that it's never in your long term interests to piss off your customers. It's a lesson EA, for example, should learn. The mediocre reviews of Spore weren't enough to stop me from buying it, but the mediocre reviews plus draconian DRM was frankly made Spore not good enough for my money.

Movie Preview

I managed to get free passes to "Zack and Miri" for last night. It's a View Askew production so there was a lot of profanity and scatological humor. But over all the movie was one half hysterically funny and one half awkward bickering. Overall, a good movie. If you enjoy Kevin Smith's movies, you'll like it, if you don't you probably won't.
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Operations "Snow White" and "Freakout"

An interesting bit of Scientology history I stumbled across today:

Operation: Snow White

In the 1970s, Scientologists deliberately infiltrated and destroyed negative documents about their church held be government and international agencies. In Canada, they were found guilty of infiltrating the OPP, the RCMP and the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General.

Operation: Freakout

As a result of the investigations launched into Operation: Snow White, Operation: Freakout was discovered. It was a concerted attempt by Scientologists to frame their critics for serious crimes. For instance an author, Paulette Cooper, who had written a book critical of Scientology was consistently harassed for years by the Church culminating in a church member stealing Paulette Cooper's stationary and sending the Church fake bomb threats written on the paper. Paulette Cooper was actually indited on the charges and arraigned by a grand jury. However, it was the investigators who were looking into Operation: Snow White who found documents indicating that the Church had deliberately set her up. They'd neglected to destroy the status reports that the underlings had faithfully submitted to their leaders.

Additional methods of framing Paulette Cooper (who is Jewish) included impersonating her and delivering death threat to the embassies of various arab nations, and to the U.S. President.

So I guess, that's my bizarre history for the week.