Thousand Splendid Suns

Over the holiday I read A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (author of The Kite Runner) the book tells the tale of the horrors faced by women in Afghanistan. It’s the kind of book which is impossible to put down – so filled with tragedy and misery that compells you to read on.

There were some small sparks of optimism among which is the wonderful quote of a woman being led to her execution after a life of total misery. The spark of positivism is probably an exaggeration of reality but it was necessary to enable the reader to carry on…

Miriam wished for so much in those final moments. Yet as she closed her eyes, it was not regret any longer but a sensation of abundant peace that washed over her. She thought of her entry into this world, the harami child of a lowly villager, an unintended thing , a pitiable, regrettable accident. A weed. And yet she was leaving the world as a woman who had loved and been loved back. She was leaving it as a friend, a companion, a guardian. A mother. A person of consequence at last. No. It was not so bad, Miriam thought, that she should die this way. Not so bad. This was a legitimate end to a life of illegitimate belongings.

Cannot explain the value of this quote – just read the book.

What comes after atheism?

Just finished reading Richard Dawkins‘ “The God Delusion” – what an excellent book! My main reason for waiting before reading it was that I doubted that it would be different from other atheist literature. I was wrong! Dawkins makes a brilliant argument for independent thought and the need to question everything – including atheism itself.

So in the spirit of the book and spending some time on a beach I obviously needed to ask myself about my beliefs – what else should you do between tanning and swimming?

Formally I was a Lutheran but I grew up in a catholic country attending a Roman Catholic all boys school. Since I was a protestant I did not need to take religion – interesting that the name of the subject was religion since it had nothing to do with anything other than Roman Catholic beliefs.

The mix of relaxed, disinterested Lutheranism and strict Catholic schooling gave me an aversion to my own Christianity. So I searched haphazardly among theoretical approaches to Buddhism, Islam & Hinduism. They were all interesting as historical and cultural topics but not as faiths. Even the laid back philosophical Buddhism was too much. Why label yourself a Buddhist? Why not include, Vegetarian, Existentialist, Marxist, Neo Capitalist when labels only constrain ideas.

So for a long time I decided that I was an agnostic. I thought that the problem was that there was not enough proof. Then I realized when I formally left the Swedish church, which I was automatically enrolled into by the state that it was not a question of proof. I was, I realized, an atheist.

The problem is that after reading Dawkins book not that I don’t agree with him – I really like most of his arguments (well almost all). The problem is that even if proof could be found that proves the existence of a God beyond a shadow of a doubt – I still would not believe.

I would believe the proof. That he/she/it exists as much as my laptop, myself and my blog exists (albeit in different ways) but I would not “believe” in the sense of faith (would it still be called faith if we had proof?). It was not religion I was struggling against. It is not that I do not believe today, I have no need for faith and would not have any even if there were a God.

What comes after atheism?

File Sharing in Britain

Virtual Law@LSE writes that BT, Virgin, Orange, Tiscali, BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse have all signed up to the Government’s new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on File Sharing. [BBC, Guardian, Telegraph]

The MOU means that the companies have to work to create a “significant reduction” in illegal filesharing. This may sound easy enough but spying on customers and accusing them of violating copyright law is not really good business – especially for companies whose business it is to sell faster (and more expensive) broadband. The ISP’s have in the MoU agreed to send out “informative letters” to customers whose accounts have been identified as being used for potential file sharing. But as Virtual Law@LSE writes:

It would appear many thousands of people will get letters from their ISPs telling them that the BPI has identified them as potentially being in breach of copyright. The ISPs should be careful here in terms of customer relations. It is never a good idea to tell a customer of your that someone believes them to be a copyright infringer. It will (a) suggest you are snooping on them (which to an extent is true), (b) suggests you are entitled to lecture them on their activities online and (c) suggests you are serving the interests of the BPI not their own customers.

In order to be able to send the letters to suspected file sharers the ISP’s must either monitor all data traffic or only monitor those who use unusually high amounts of broadband. Either way the ISP’s are uncomfortably close to violating peoples privacy. Maybe not in a legal sense and maybe they are acting within the limitations of their customer contracts but still tantamount to surveillence and a violation of privacy.

It is also a form of privatized regulation through technology which sits uncomfortably with the potential freedom that the technology enables…

WordPress client for iPhone

This snappy little application means that you could blog anywhere anytime… all I need now is an iPhone… Strangely enough I still don’t feel the desire to own one…

Excellent news for bloggers came…when WordPress announced that they’re developing a client application for the iPhone.

The WordPress client for iPhone is available in the App Store and in iTunes.

World of Warcraft EULA violation

Technollama has his finger on the pulse of the recent World of Warcraft EULA case – read all about it!

The suit involved cheating autopilot exploit which allows a player to gather gold automatically by using intelligent agents and bots to control an avatar. MDY distributes software advertised specifically to serve as an exploit, which represents a serious problem for WoW developers Blizzard Entertainment because it affects legitimate players who put time and effort into levelling and gathering gold.

Seriously the results are important far beyond gaming – as if that was not an important topic

I must say that I do not like MDY, and my initial reaction was to wish Blizzard the best. However, this is a diabolical ruling. The actual effect of the court’s argument is that if you any user is in breach of the Terms of Use, they will also be liable for copyright infringement. To put this in other terms, if I let you into my house, I am giving you a permission to enter. I cannot just decide to revoke my permission unilaterally (which is what Blizzard’s EULA says), and while you’re inside call the police alleging that you broke in. No wonder EFF have flipped over the story (although I do not agree with their provoking title). William Partry is also beffudled by the strange decision.