Dec 282010

The Washington Post finally took notice: not one but two articles, an opinion piece and an editorial about my country of birth, the latter titled The Putinization of Hungary.

Once again, I wish I could disagree but I cannot. Hungary may have been ruled by the Socialist Party for the past eight years, but even though they are the formal successors of the once all-powerful Hungarian Socialist Workers Party, it’s not them but Orban’s Fidesz who carry the real legacy of the Kadar era.

Or perhaps both do (I certainly have few illusions about the purity of the Socialists), but the Socialists didn’t have the two-thirds parliamentary majority that Orban enjoys. Which gives Orban effectively unlimited power: with his two thirds majority, he can dismantle independent institutions and rewrite the country’s constitution.

Both of which he’s busy doing.

And I keep thinking that it was good that Hungary once had democratic government… too bad it didn’t last very long. Or am I succumbing to hype and writing democracy’s epitaph prematurely? This is one instance when I desperately, sincerely hope that I am badly wrong.

 Posted by at 2:19 am
Dec 242010

My Linux systems are all configured with an ages old program, fortune, giving me a “fortune cookie”, a random greeting or quotation from a database with thousands of entries, every time I log on.

This morning, I logged on to one of my Linux machines and I saw this quote from the immortal Sam Clemens, aka. Mark Twain:

“The difference between a Miracle and a Fact is exactly the difference between a mermaid and a seal.”

If I didn’t know any better, I’d be tempted to think that the computer has a twisted sense of atheist humor and chose this greeting after looking at the calendar. Not that Mr. Clemens was wrong!

Anyhow, although I am an atheist, I hope I am not twisted, so I just wish a Merry Christmas to all my family and friends, and indeed, all good people.

 Posted by at 2:37 pm
Dec 222010

Here’s a wonderful quote from Saturday Night Live’s impersonation of Julian Assange talking about Mark Zuckerberg: “What are the differences between Mark Zuckerberg and me? Let’s take a look. I give you private information about corporations for free. And I’m a villain. Mark Zuckerberg gives your private information to corporations for money and he’s Man of the Year.”

SNL’s Assange also praised Time magazine for being on top of things, discovering Facebook “only weeks after your grandmother”.

 Posted by at 3:07 pm
Dec 162010

It’s official: the work we are doing about the Pioneer Anomaly qualifies as popular science according to Popular Science, as they just published a featured article about it.

I admit that it was with a strong sense of apprehension that I began reading the piece. What you say to a journalist and what appears in print are often not very well correlated, as politicians know all too well. My apprehension was not completely unjustified, as the article contains some (minor) technical errors, misquotes us slightly in places, and what is perhaps most troubling, some of the work that it attributes to us was done by others (e.g., thermal engineers at JPL). These flaws notwithstanding (and this article fares better than most that appeared in recent years, I think), it is nice to have one’s efforts recognized.

 Posted by at 12:20 am
Dec 132010

In the pre-Internet days, when I traveled to a city that I never visited before, the first thing I did was to buy a copy of the local newspaper, and then read the local pages and some of the classifieds.

Now, thanks to the Internet, I can time travel the same way, without leaving my chair. For instance, I can browse the pages of the Ottawa citizen from 1973, the year my Mom and I visited this fine city. Not sure what is weirder… how much has changed or how much remained the same.

 Posted by at 4:55 pm
Dec 112010

A sad anniversary: it was 38 years ago today that a human being landed on the Moon for the last time. Who’d have thought back then that nearly half a century (!) later we have yet to venture beyond low Earth orbit again?

 Posted by at 3:59 am
Dec 082010

Conspiracy theorists, rejoice: Paypal apparently admitted that the decision to freeze the Paypal account of Wikileaks was due to US government pressure. Long live freedom and democracy. No wonder some folks are comparing our treatment of Assange to China’s treatment of Nobel laureate Xiaobo. We are, after all, doing the same thing China is doing: we are trying to suppress information, and we threaten and intimidate those who release it. I find myself in strong agreement with the writer of an article that appeared in the Vancouver Sun: we are forced to ask questions (about torture, detentions, intimidation, death threats and worse) that ten years ago none of us thought we’d be asking.

There is, though, a silver lining. Perhaps all this evil has always been part of our “civilized” society, and it’s only now, in the era of the Internet, that we can so easily find out.

 Posted by at 3:52 pm
Dec 072010

I’ve done it: I donated to Wikileaks. While I still could, at least using a credit card, now that the Paypal option is gone.

Does this mean that I am now on somebody’s list as a supporter of Mr. “rapist, worse than a terrorist” Assange and that I can expect to be sexually assaulted, er, I mean, strip searched when I next go through an airport?

And isn’t this something that only denizens of evil police states should have to be worrying about?

 Posted by at 1:23 pm
Dec 042010

News flash: Paypal blocks Wikileaks.

But no, we’re not like the evil Chinese. We don’t do censorship. It’s strictly for legal reasons, you see.

I wanted to send money to Wikileaks yesterday. Perhaps it’s better that I didn’t, because for all I know, monies in Wikileaks’ account may be frozen by Paypal. I’m sure there will be other ways. Hopefully I won’t be charged one day as a supporter of terrorism because of a $20 contribution.

Yes, I’ll continue to use Paypal and buy books from Amazon. I just have a worse opinion than ever about our commitment to our cherished Western values.

 Posted by at 2:22 pm
Dec 032010

No, we don’t do censorship. This is the West, after all. We are civilized, democratic, and we deplore evil regimes that prevent their citizens from prying into the secrets of the almighty State.


Except when said secrets are a little too inconvenient. We then stop pretending and issue an international arrest warrant against the founder of a Web site for a crime that, even if it was really committed, was likely little more than an unwarranted sexual advance; we “convince” a large hosting provider to stop hosting the unpleasant content; and we convince the DNS provider to stop servicing the name of the domain in question. This is so much more civilized than running a state censorship establishment!

My arse.

For the record, Wikileaks mirrors can be located by looking them up at As of this morning, the following information was provided there:

Wikileaks Mirrors

Find all the current Wikileaks Mirrors here. Helpful, if the main site – – is down.

Real mirrors on different IP Addresses

  • – Mirror hosted in Switzerland []
  • – Mirror hosted in Sweden []
  • – Mirror hosted in the United States []

Important Wikileaks Links

Contrary to what is being said above, the domain name works this morning; it points to, which seems up to date, including the “cablegate” releases.

Bleeping hypocrisy. At least the Chinese are honest about what they are doing.

 Posted by at 1:25 pm