Monday, December 31, 2007

Debacle Aftermath Interview: Dutugemunu, 10 Giants, Underworld and I

Yesterday's Sunday Times had an interesting debacle aftermath interview with MP Dr Silva. It is reproduced here for comic relief of a wider audience and for a broader appreciation the doctor's views. The Times online edition has the full article:

Those who hit me will garland me – Mervyn

Says that like religious leaders he also is being persecuted

By Asif Fuard, Pix by Saman Kariyawasam

Controversial Labour Minister Mervyn Silva remained defiant despite the barrage of allegations levelled against him over last Thursday’s dramatic Rupavahini riot. In an interview with The Sunday Times from his hospital room at the National Hospital Merchants Ward, he said last Thursday’s attack on him at the Rupavahini Corporation was a cowardly act where some 1000 people surrounded and assaulted a single individual but despite the attack he said he remained strong.

These are excerpts from the interview:

* Mr. Silva the incident that took place last Thursday was widely publicised. What is your side of the story?

First I like to thank The Sunday Times for listening to my side of the story. I didn’t go there for war and I never expected one. I know how to wage wars. I went there as a Minister who had minimal security to find out why they didn’t carry my speech which I made at Matara. So I spoke to the news director who walked away from me while I was talking. Then I went and spoke to the Chairman.

At that time a mob that had gathered there held me hostage in the chairman’s room. I would like to know if this is journalistic ethics. If I wanted to wage a war I would have brought 5,000 people from Colombo Central.

* It is alleged that you attacked the news director?

I did nothing of the sort the reports have been blown out of proportion. I am not a person who commits such acts of violence. If the person in question can prove I assaulted him, I will quit my job as Minister. The people behind these reports work for a private television station which does the dirty work of the opposition with the ulterior motive of toppling the government.

* Mr. Silva you said a private television station is behind this. What proof have you got? Haven’t you previously harassed and openly made threatening gestures to journalists and this particular private television station?

I have never threatened any journalist. Most of what I say has been misinterpreted. I have proof of their involvement in putting the country down and they will be exposed soon.

* You speak of journalistic ethics. How about parliamentary ethics? Is this a good example to the people? Don’t you think you are embarrassing the government and the president?

No I don’t think so. Humility is part of life. Christ was stoned while preaching, so was Prophet Mohammed. Lord Buddha also had a lot of obstacles to face. But those who gave them trouble eventually followed them even to the extent of garlanding them with flowers. Likewise those who assaulted me will do the same so I am not deterred by such incidents.

* Several MPs of your party have condemned your behaviour. I understand there is to be a disciplinary inquiry against you. What can you tell me about this?

I stand up against social injustice. People in my area know this. I can only say that they should first hold a disciplinary inquiry against those who suggest holding a disciplinary inquiry against me.

* There are allegations that you are involved in peddling narcotics and associating with drug barons. What do you say about this?

Once again this is false propaganda to tarnish my image. I have no involvement in such illegal activities.

* Can you prove this?

Of course I can.

* If so then how do you justify your connection to drug kingpin Kudu Nuwan who was with you and was later arrested by the police? It was also revealed that he is wanted by the police for dealing in narcotics and he is also linked to several high profile murders.

I am a servant of the people. I don’t go around checking people’s backgrounds. I help any one who comes to me. To my knowledge that boy Nuwan has no such criminal record. If he had a criminal record it is the duty of the authorities to take necessary action against him.

* What can you tell me about your alleged involvement with key underworld figures?

There is no truth of my being involved with underworld figures. The people around me are a courageous group who will do anything for me. If my associates are classed as underworld figures then what do you say about King Dutugamunu’s ten giants or people like Puran Appu or Keppetipola.

* Do you claim to be a national hero like those whom you just mentioned?

I do not have to prove myself to you or to any one else, the people know who I am. Who Mervyn Silva is.

For the full article, refer here.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Doctoral Thesis

The doctor's porsche cayenne. My car, my petrol, my president, country, etc., etc, 'Ouch!'

Yesterday was the day the woodpecker decided to have a go at the banana bush. Got entangled, beaten up and dyed as well. At last the people have got hold of one of the biggest thugs in history. One of the dirty thugs of the ruling party got it and nicely.

If this was a honorable country, as it is much falsely reputed to be, the first time the guy did anything like this he'd have gotten in jail and treated like the common thug and tried properly. But being Sri Lanka, there's a thousand and one ways for people like this to elude the rule of law and get the slip, and boast about it as well later. But this time it all got foiled. Where the judiciary and the executive were failing to take action, the commoner took. It was a big mistake to go into Rupavahini Corporation and beat up a director, and a big bravo, hurrah and hallelujah goes for everyone at SLRC that took part in it: but I daresay that big trouble will follow regarding this is SRI Lanka.
There's a second part to it. We all know the attributes of governments of Paradise Island, just to consist of people ike this. The president has one final, absolutely last and THE last chance to show the people what stuff he and his government are made of. If it was proper, the firing letter would've left the presidential secretariat well within yesterday. So far doesn't look like it, and I don't expect, too. This is the government of the thugs’ n thieves, elected by them in corruption and governed by them, so Sri Lanka doesn't have any hope left for justice, unless the people catch them like this and become the judiciary even to get fired later. Just think of the Peter Hill drama.

Mervyn will go home spitting filth, wash, shower up, perhaps watch his toes with his hands behind his back at Temple Trees, file a rights petition for getting beaten, make batches get fired at SLRC, while his friends at SLFP delay and make forgotten the party inquiry against him. Another bomb, another match, a coupla price and tax hikes to fund Mahinda, and everything will be forgotten.

And the good Doctor will continue to thug around happily.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

"I Can't Filter Out the Terrorist!"

Yesterday I was watching evening news and was greeted by Parliamentary chaos over the Tamil arrest scene last Sunday. The Tamil representatives were outraged stating that a large number of Tamil citizens were being held in custody, sometimes with children, while they had full papers of identification and reasons of stay. But the most interesting one statement was made by a governing parliamentarian defending the issue: "If you can explain out who is LTTE and who isn't, we'll release them in 24 hours".

Now this asks for thinking. Does this mean that the government and the forces are still operating on the assumption that 'Tamil = LTTEer'? Well that was the situation in the mass deportation which happened last June. The people were simply deported without concrete evidence, which was echoed by the successful and unchallenged Supreme Court order reversing the deportation. Of course, if the police forces had concrete evidence that they were LTTE operatives, then arrest and press charges. Then they'd have been able to challenge the court decision even Just deportation of Sri Lanka's own citizens is simply outrageous.

It has been crystal clear whatever the GOSL is saying about its military operation in the NorthEast, it has been very lapse on the southern security. Almost all major targets in Colombo were unashamedly been attacked since the start of insurgencies, and the best the government can do is simply choke the south with massive and useless road checks once something happens, and let everything be forgotten in a matter of weeks before start trumpeting about NorthEasteren military operations [and blaming everything from cost of living to the size of the Cabinet over it]. The GOSL forces are simply at a loss of finding out and thwarting LTTE undercover operations in south. By current developments what we can see is either they can put a majority of the southern Tamil population behind bars, or let the bombs go on. To echo the government's own words, the southern security situation is utterly lapse. I seriously doubt if the LTTE aircraft were to infiltrate into Colombo skies once more, there's anything much more the air force can do than the two previous times. We need a better structured defense plan down here, not just stupid policemen who cannot even properly thwart a bomb threat or evacuate the scene properly after an incident as demonstrated about a week back, not to mention identifying the terrorist from the Tamil.

The government is very vocal about the country having a terrorist problem which is solvable via a military approach. If anybody in the government had even a little bit of brains, they should've noticed that almost 100% of the terrorists are Tamil. In fact, they 'cannot even distinguish who's the terrorist and who isn't', as was admitted in Parliament yesterday. There definitely is a problem about it. If almost all the LTTE are Tamil [well any stupid idiot knows], then surely there's something deeper than "a simple terrorist problem", isn't it?

The LTTE are terrorists and shit, there's no doubt about it. They should be destroyed as much as that was their choice; they thwarted peace efforts every time. But there should be a distinction between the Tamil citizen and the terrorist, an absence of which the current GOSL actions seem to show. Unless more care is practiced, there'll be a time when there indeed IS NO such distinction. Such times may be the ones the real LTTE is eagerly looking forward to.

In short, the GOSL need a broader perspective on the problem definitely. As well as a true pointed military approach to destroy terrorism [not one which is just there to justify every shit going on in the country, the president personally did it in Parliament], an elite and intelligence-based long sighted southern defense plan, we need a solution to the fact that 'every LTTEr is a Tamil'. That's what would complete a true mission to end this chaos.

On a happier term, I also heard last evening that the Supreme Court has outlawed permanent search barriers [i hope it includes utterly useless, traffic-choking road checks] and VIP road-choking at ruch hour. Thank goodness, there are some people in the country with sense.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Reaping the Choice

So here we are, going about our usual business along a sunny, seemingly usual morning, just cause we didn't get shaven by yesterday's department-store bomb. We’ve been lucky, and heaven knows, as things are, for how long. Life has hit record time uncertainty on the paradise island.

This, of course, is our own choice. Ours means the majority (something like of 51-2%). We've chosen this path of violence, this path of all-out war, this path of 'crushing-it-out' in 2005. We had a clear choice between a better option [of course, relatively], and this. Simply, Sri Lankans have sowed the wind, and are now reaping the whirlwind, so is to say.

I’m not saying that a UNP executive government would have been a godsend. Of course, you and I have lived in paradise for long enough to understand that the thief is the thief regardless whether he's blue or green in color. But honestly, we had a selection between a country torn apart and broke by war, and a better choice, where the government would seek a solution by staying on a higher plane than terrorism, an economy where it would make sense to bank my money for future security, and a place where we could work towards a hopeful future. But now it's too late, we've made the selection, and we're doomed.

This will not be the first. We are returning to the era of rush hour bombs, targeting civilians. And we seem to think that the solution is also a rush hour bomb, a bit higher up the country. This way, no almighty would be able to stop the country from tearing apart. This ain't a problem to be solved by street thugs and Dons: time had long come for solving this problem via intelligence.

As a Sri Lankan who hopes for a future in this country, not an unthinkable expatriate one, i need a country to be in. A home to come back. A place to return and stay. Until now we had it, albeit sometimes 'almost'. SL, what ever troubles she had, was one pf the best places, perhaps the best, home, for people like us in the whole world. But now it seems like her end is nigh. She’s been torn apart by the pack of wolves she has been entrusted into by her own children. I only hope that this is hallucination, a bad dream, from which I’d be able to wake up ASAP and sigh a breather.

But it won't come by just sitting along.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

freedom of choice

how many more?

I can't believe that Sri Lankans are this mad. We had a peace process. We had it under control. People died less. At least we had a sane man's way outta this melee where everyone had to have a real big reason not to participate. We had a way to save the country.

But the public, maybe apparently, opted out. They voted for a goverment and a president whom they, with certainity, knew would abandon the peace process. Perhaps the option wasn't apparent. Or they got away with the 'Peace with Honor' badge, where the real analogy should've been a parent trying to take the knife away from her 5-year old who's having a tantrum. An un-ignorable majority of Sri Lankans seem to believe that 'crush'em out' would bring a viable solution to this problem. In that they've earned themselves an utterly unstable and insecure present, and for their children, a total loss of hope. Not to mention the millions the warmongers earn though the exchange..

Clearly, this has to stop. We can't wait foir another 6 or 12 years or sometimes, 'forever' as they predict. Do we wait for saner decisions til we have to wheelbarrow rupees to buy bread? We have been doing this for years and surely the government can not hope for 'total annihilation'. If they truly believe it, then they're a bunch of fools themselves (yes they are), which I believe not. I believe they know this sure wouldn't end this way, but know it'd provide an eternal excuse to keep doing whatever they're doing as of presence. Easy, isn't it? We're at war. This is Emergency. Simple as that.

Sri Lanka has made some darn mistakes but none like the ones made in the last public elections. They've literally selected between war and peace, and now it is destroying the country. Yeah, there are factors like the 'liberated East' cause. But I'd like to see how many of our MPs would like to take a vacation in the Liberated East, let alone the public.

In short, Sri Lanka need drastic action. The sane public should urge the government for alternate solutions, but I don't think these fools can be convinced. Like they want to. It just sucks that Sri Lanka had done so much so for a proper solution, only to see it all go down in vain. If we go on like this.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Because It Can Be Your Friend..

World map of suicide rates per 100,000 (Wikipedia)

What a queer day at work. B walks around in the wee early morning, handing out a suspiciously sticky fruit toffee. I'm eating it and text L anyway so she can catch the culprit if something happens :-). Moments later, Mr S hops about giving out a leaflet and a sticker. I suspect it's the ubiquitous parking/speeding ticket, but it's something about the World Suicide Prevention Day thing. Hmm.., behavioral patterns to identify a suicidal person, great. Oh god, everybody stares after him, suppressing snickers and guffaws. Is this what we look like? Poor D comes last, and Mr S whizzes out the last leaflet at him. We exchange knowing snickers again. D's dumbfounded.

It almost seems funny now. I never thought I had much to do with it, but once I had a close shave with it. One of my best [i mean bestest] friends, attempted it. She was out of the country at that time, abroad in university. She had undergone a recent emotional tragedy and was so depressed about it. I knew it, and tried to be there for her, keeping touch with her every now and then. But somehow she went so near and attempted it, almost. She had a lucky escape, a really 'lucky' escape, cause another friend had phoned her just about in time [all her hostel friends had been sleeping when she tried it]. If it had not been that phonecall, all would've been over. Thank heavens things turned better, and now stuff is fine, but still, it came so close. It could've cost me my pallie. If her colleagues there took a bit more care of her, if they had been a bit more aware of the behavior, she might not have had to rely on her 'luck' to escape. Actually no one should. She told me afterwards that it had not been a planned act. It had been spontaneous, and she said her intention was only 'to get away'. She said afterwards that she herself was surprised that she didn't even think about her parents. Her focus only had been to get away from her burning emotions.

I think we all should be more careful about this. Cause it might lurk quietly down under and raise its ugly head when no one expects it. Careful about friends or acquaintances who have undergone similar circumstances. Keep your eyes open for them. It can be someone you really care about.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Is My Membership Due?

Dijkstra's Algorithm by riggzy

Here's an algorithm puzzle I came across this morning. It requires simple logic but is harder than it seems. Check how long does it take you to do it:

You have two dates, both in mm/dd/yyyy format. One is the day you last renewed your library membership and the other is today. Write an algorithm [using simple pseudocode] to determine whether your library membership has expired or not. Remember, the only variables you can use are the mm, dd and yyyy values of the two dates.

Membership renewal date : mm1 / dd1 / yyyy1
Today's date : mm2 / dd2 / yyyy2

No PLs what-so-ever. Simple English.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Rain Rain and Rain

Yahoo! Weather is mad..

It's another great rainy day. Woow! Yesterday evening only had a very close shave without getting soaked. Rainy days at office are great, whilst at home (and even school maybe) they suck. They have their own appeal. Anyways I'd always prefer a downpour day than a dark, gloomy day. Maybe because I prefer action. Last few day's kinda made me mad although I always dragged along that behemoth umbrella with me, never got a chance to use it. Haha! Got one today. I always like to savor the feeling to sit at an empty office in a rainy morning whilst all the engineers still are out in the traffic or still in bed [thinking it's yesterday]. One thing I hate about rain are wet shoes. They can make the whole day a nightmare. But if you make it though without getting the H2O in, then you're it.

I prefer a rainy evening than a morning. A morning it way too bustling to have the fun outof it. The evening you can do what-not like watching your poor colleagues worry without having umbrellas and like.. Another thing I've seen, there's a marked supply of high water pressure in the mornings when it's raining: means half the people are missing showers? Lazy scoundrels. One thing I can't miss however it storms is a shower.

I hope that darn drain at the top of my street hasn't overflown, else I'll have to swim again of detour with shame. Ohh.. and the washing?? Oh god the washing. Though it's not my prob directly it kinda bothers me: I'd hate to find myself outof fresh sweats in the evening.

Well it already looks like clearing up a bit. Oh well, let battle commence. But still half the guys are out. How so? As I remember the traffic was a bit decent today. Perhaps they're thinking it's still yesterday.

Monday, August 27, 2007

My Workout Routine

Recently I've started working out proper. Perhaps I'm after the physique after watching too much U.S. Marine films. Still I didn't use the subsidized gym membership. Will go for it shortly: for now, this is what I go through every morning:

01. Stretch [try to make your crotch kiss the concrete: I'm doin' pretty well!]
02. Two (sometimes) sets of sqats, each of 30 reps.
03. 2 sets of feet-up push-ups, each of 30 reps.
04. Two sets of curls, each of 10 reps.
05. Two sets of pull-ups, each 10-12 reps.
06. Two sets of close-hands push-ups, each of 10 reps.
07. That's it.

This works. For a start it's giving me amazing results. Try it, and if you survive, comment.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Banking in Sri Lanka

Good-bye Williamsburg Bank

As I’d mentioned in a previous post, now I know why NSB is the richest public bank in Sri Lanka. It’s fucking hard to get money out once you’ve put in. Well not due to some irritable cashier or something, but their ATM anyway used to suck. Their business rules are kaput and like those of say 100 years back when you couldn’t connect the branches. They’re very branch-centric. I’ve got my account in Branch X and I can’t event update my book in another. I dunno about the ATM cause the last time I tried it sucked in my card and still I didn’t get one. I think they’re only good for long term fixed deposits. I dunno about interest rates cause anyway as I know about the inflation rates here putting your money in bank makes it less valuable. By putting in bank what I really expect is to stop myself from keeping the bundle of cash in my drawer. Like you can buy a cheeseburger today for 200Rs: if you put it in bank and get what’s in there in say a year and try to do the same, it won’t buy you the burger. Atleast at the present inflation rates. (how much is it now? Think was like 19% something last time I checked.) So better use it altogether today to buy something worthwhile than putting in bank all in all. I consider banking in elsewhere or buying US$s even. Or keeping the wad in my drawer. Atleast I’d have better access.

Right now what I need is a proper bank. I think I’ll walk outta the richest bank thing and try something more humble like Sampath, NTB (their AMEX service is pretty good) or HSBC even. Atleaset they’ve got a better spread ATM net.

Friday, July 6, 2007

I wish Ranil was president..

Would stuff've been any better?

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Star-Spangled Banner Yet Waves

O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Police and the Human Rights Situation

US Customs and Border Protection. Police, but a different breed.

Yesterday while watching News First [after Swarnawahini got 'converted' I have no choice, and it's good] I saw a ridiculous statement made by the chairman of some presidential committee to investigate killings and abductions etc., etc. saying that most police officers complain that they cannot perform their duty because of the constant prodding of human rights organizations, which visit police stations to see how many people are in illegal [over-time without warrant] custody, and being tortured etc. What I think is if the police seem to think that their duty is to keep people in while they don't have enough evidence for a warrant and pick up people and torture them to get forced confessions. I was surprised that this chairman person is a retired judge. But then I got reminded that he was heading a 'Presidential Commission'. Devil's advocate.

It is widely known that although they pretend to protect the law and order, police are a prime source of human rights violations in the country regardless of what administration. It happened all the time. People have frequently died while in police custody, with the police giving faint excuses such as sudden pneumonia, heart attack, and sometimes the story of the suspect suddenly whipping out a weapon from nowhere, which was the latest thing. People do not get served by the police the way they deserve, but the police thinks that they are to push people around. In Sri Lanka, anyone visiting a police station cannot expect more than a 'dog's treatment' 99.99% of the time. That's anyone, and suspects usually get badly beaten, if they are kept overnight at the police station: the policemen just come in drunk and beat the suspects senseless to get over with their day's grudges with someone. This situation must change. That's why the human rights commission is visiting police stations and investigating the crimes being committed by the guardians of the law themselves. If the only thing the police can then say is "we can't do our duty because human rights people are walking in upon", then that has serious problem to go with it. Basically that is "keep outta our way so we can do keep people in illegal custody, torture them and accept/prompt bribes, which is mainly our duty."

I dream of a day we have a proper police force. A day when law and order really will be here. The police isn't a trusted institution here, but is generally regarded as consisting of 'thugs n thieves'. The main reason there's no law and order is the police themselves, who now blame the human rights watchers. They catch the culprits [when they can], get a bribe and let them go, be it a traffic offense or perhaps a murder, especially if someone from high above is involved. It is a bunch of constables like this who are mumbling that human rights are coming between them and their so-called 'duty' .

What does this mean? Only one thing, that the police is utterly incapable, and constantly violate human rights. They can't decide who's the culprit so they catch someone and beat him down to get a confession. Basically it. I get reminded of the posters that were all around Colombo sometime ago saying that we do not need to regard human rights when fighting terror. If we do not regard people's basic rights in an exercise to protect their very existence, then what the hell is the use of it?

Human rights are not something exotic which came into being yesterday. They are basic rights and needs of you and me, what we deserve as humans, and what we get hurt when taken away from us. We do not feel this until we get them violated on us ourselves or at least on someone close. Til then it is even easy to say that things like expelling people from their dwellings just because the police cannot pinpoint the suspects are 'unavoidable and necessary'. It was pathetic to hear such a irresponsible statement from someone like a former justice, like they doesn't know the grade of the police here.

I hope the retired judge thought more rationally when he was on the bench. If the judge also thinks that it is right to get beaten up by the police just because you were taken in, then what's the deal?

This is the big deal 'human rights' situation in Sri Lanka.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Would Paying for it Make State Universities Better?

A University

There has been a lot of controversy about private education in Sri Lanka, especially on university level. The government universities exclusively educate recipients of full-tuition state university grants. Those are selected based on the Z-score gained in the GCE A level examination. The selection has other proportion-wise subselection criteria included, but the total number of students in all 14 or so state universities in Sri Lanka do not exceed 20,000. The exact intake every year counts around 15000 maximum, leaving a large percentage of students qualified for university entrance stranded. Even in the existing university system, the level of research and graduate schools are not at all adequate and there's virtually no PhD level teaching.

But the brains, subject-wise, are good. The brightest students in the country gain entrance into engineering and medical schools every year, and most of the top and specialist students go overseas to graduate schools and then employment. Still the medical profession has a kind of prestigious feeling in the country and nowadays most students, who miss university here, go abroad to countries like Russia or India for instance, and then practice here as doctors after taking a medical council test. There's controversy and shouting here and there from time to time, but things are generally settled now.

There's constant pressure against active government sponsorship to open private universities in Sri Lanka, mainly from the leftist-based student unions in state universities. This is not understandable at all. Today it is well possible to gain a degree in subjects like IT and computer engineering from private sector, and the degrees have very high demand and reputation among employers in SL. In the above subjects, there's a very healthy competition between state and private university graduates, and state university graduates are indeed under constant pressure to come out more and more polished in workable skills, not just out-dated book knowledge. Currently quality graduates, with well-marketable skills, are produced only by medical, law and engineering schools of the state universities. Most students prefer to keep away from arts faculties. More and more students prefer not to go to physical science faculties as well. Perhaps cause it's kinda hard to find something to do with some real science involved if you come with a three year degree in physics and chemistry, but there are other concerns about currency and quality of what you get at school. The alternative is to go into some private school for a professional qualification. By now the graduates seem intelligent enough not to go on protests asking government to conjure up bigwig jobs just because they've come out of a state university.

Another thing is, state universities has to 'grow up'. They should stop from being entirely dependent on government, and start being more liberal in enrollment. Ok now don't start shouting. The government should keep the [meager amount of ] state university grants given each year constant. Perhaps this way they'd be able to increase the number of full-tuition grants in a greater rate even. When the universities are earning up something they can link up more with the industry and entities like the world bank [scary, eh?], and would be able to collect up more cash to offer a more modern and more real-word courses to students. Right now the state of the state universities is mostly 'sorry'. This might be the only way to revive them, else they can stay stuck in the rut of a few people opposing reforms. I don't know how long things can go on like this in a fast-paced world out there.

I come from a private university. I know friends from government universities and even have worked with them. One thing a majority of state university graduates have here is wrong attitude. I have seen them fail to apply a more analytical and-broad minded view to life problems. Most seem to be locked with ideas like "World Bank is evil!", "education reforms (of any kind) are evil!", "Tamils are united against Sinhalese!" and "Scandinavians are evil!". Perhaps this is the work of a few leftist people in there, but it has spread kinda evenly among the system. Perhaps it doesn't work very well on people from educated and urban backgrounds, but people who work hard and get in from rural areas with little exposure get spoiled in a bad way.

None of these are among private university students. The one I am from has around 4000+ students, and we only have one students' union, the default one the university has, and people hardly are aware of it. Most people work to help pay for their education. Others work hard to gain a scholarship and maintain it. There's absolutely zero political activity and 'ragging', and rules are rules: if you kick a youngster's butt you get in police and chucked outta school [once I heard from a state undergrad that police can't intervene in internal affairs of their uni!]. The difference is that people are paying for what they get and they know the worth of it. That's a very important thing. If, instead of completely free university, the government only paid part of it and got students into student loans or industrial placements or something to get them pay even a modest amount of their fee, they would know the worth of it. It'd help the universities to give them a better education in turn, help them behave more responsibly, have a broader perspective and as a result be more employable upon graduation. They would be able to serve the country better. What retards Sri Lanka mostly from development is the less-than perfect attitude of the citizens, whatever is being said and done. If the government could stop being selfish for power and do this one reform in education here, it would help more than any other step taken in order to shape the future of our country as a developed one.

We would have a generation with attitude. That may be the change Sri Lanka so badly needs.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Reaching for a love that seem so far..

An empty street
An empty house
A hole inside my heart
I'm all alone,
and the rooms are getting smaller

I wonder how, I wonder why
I wonder where they are
The days we had, the songs we sang together
And oh my love
I'm holding on forever
Reaching for a love that seem so far..

So I say a little prayer
And hope my dreams will take me there
Where the skies are blue
To see you once again, my love
Overseas from coast to coast
To find the place I love the most
Where the fields are green
To see you once again, my love.

I try to read
I go to work
I'm laughing with my friends
But I can't stop to keep myself from thinking

I wonder how, I wonder why
I wonder where they are
The days we had, the songs we sang together
And oh my love
I'm holding on forever
Reaching for a love that seem so far..

To hold you in my arms
To promise you my love
To tell you from the heart
You're all I'm thinking of

I'm reaching for a love that seem so far....

"My Love" is a single from Westlife's album Coast to Coast.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Ape aathala moothala..

Basically mala, from Wikipedia

Yesterday I heard this song [probably by Jaya Sri] which went "Ape aathala moothala reggae aanawa boolee!" Today during the lazy afternoon I texted this to one of my expat pals out of pure witticism, and his reply made me double with laughter. He said:

"Umba ehenan Malak adinna dennathi. Apo umba.."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My Girlfriend Wishlist

- Looks sweet and innocent.
- Is sweet and innocent.
- Quiet and talkative.
- Serious and fun.
- Fair and slim [but slightly chubbier, small girls sometime seem more lovable].
- Down-to-earth.
- Can feel how I feel.
- Tells the truth.
- Sensible.
- Capable.
- Has a child's heart.
- Intelligent, well-read and good at school.
- Loves me the same way I love her.
- Caring.
- Takes care of herself, self-conscious.

Friday, May 25, 2007

November Rain

November Rain by 'morena7

One day, anyways this had to happen. Been expectin this. Been tryin to get used to it. So what difference it makes that it happened now?

Just it happened..

Thursday, May 24, 2007

What do you think of eticket?

I've been hearing a lot of fiasco has been happening cause Dialog's 444 MTicket service isn't working. Yesterday I heard angry moviegoers had even been a bit unrest at movie theaters. Whatever, before plunging into it, I'd like to ask you people who have used it [either Dialog's mticket or etickets, the system behind]. What do you think of the service? Is it reliable? Or are all rumors I hear [that although you book your name doesn't appear on the database] true?

C3: Preventing a MiG make an Airbus (or his own wingman) go "Mayday!"

United States Department of Defense photograph of an F-8 Crusader intercepting a Tu-95 'Bear-B' over USS Oriskany, dated May 25, 1974 [Wikipedia]

Last weekend I read in a national defense column that the most important reconnaissance asset of the Sri Lanka Air Force, a Beechcraft aircraft [probably carrying a HISAR system] had come under attack by our own Navy who erroneously identified it as an LTTE aircraft while it was on a routine patrol off Trincomalee. The same scenario of the guy who dropped from the tree and got attacked by a bull as well. As usual however, for the luck of AF and Navy both, the aircraft wasn’t hit. What this event shows is the lack of command, control and communication coordination between the security forces of Sri Lanka. No point buying $20 million jets [I hear the same amount was spent to send Mahinda administration (mob) to watch finals at West Indies, dunno whether Rs or $s] if you can’t effectively guide them to their targets. Either they’d get shot down [mind you, we didn’t know LTTE had night bombing capability till they bombed us and we still don’t know what sorta A-to-A capability they have] or will shoot at someone else. This is a very real threat.

Imagine the Navy patrol mentioned above had some serious anti-aircraft capability? What would’ve happened? The SLAF would be deaf and blind by now, if they can be more so. The real threat is, having sophisticated weaponry, and shooting down an airliner on finals to Bandaranaike International by mistaking it for a Tiger aircraft. This was, and is, a very real threat and I was really relieved when they decided to close down the place at night. Already at least one commercial aircraft has come under fire already, suspected as a fleeing LTTE aircraft. Luckily it was way out of range, but again, anyway we shot at it.

This is the scenario of placing weapons, not systems. What we need is not something that shoots, but does it effectively. For that, we need to field a weapons system, and man it with guys who are at the bottom of a command chain on top of which would be the executive president. What we need is a National Military Command Center kinda thing. I guess the Joint Operations HQs can play the role, but it doesn’t seem implemented by the way things are going on.

In a real life scenario, this command center would be the nerve center of defense command in the country, with direct access to Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense and finally, the President. It would have at least one back-up. This command center would have weapons officers and interception directors directly in contact with all ‘live’ defense patrols in sea and in the air. The weapons officers would be able to positively confirm a target acquisition by a Kfir pilot or a Dvora gunner [for instance], and then authorize interception and weapons release. They would be in contact with especially the commercial air traffic control at Bandaranaike International and Colombo Airport, and commercial naval movement at maritime traffic control center in order to avoid confusion with commercial movements. The command center would be the upper point of reconnaissance data input by reconnaissance radars, patrols and watchpoints in the sea and on battlefront. This way they would be able to trace a threat’s movement in minutes, and authorize an already moving patrol to intercept, or to scramble an alert mission at any time of the day. The command center would have a general officer commanding, to whom weapons directors would be able to look up in a crucial situation. He, in turn, would have direct secure access to high level defense staff at the Defense Ministry and in turn, to the president. If a MiG-29, say, has to carry out a night radar-guided attack against an LTTE aircraft, the target would have to be acquired, designated and identified to be friend or foe in surgical precision. Else our inexperienced pilots [or the heartless former Soviet mercenaries] would sure down a commercial jet. This would be a tragedy and a crime, with irrevocable consequences.

This is the vital requirement of proper Command, Control and Communications coordination as we go towards increasingly complex weapons. If someone says it would be a useless spend, or don’t have cash to do that, then it would be better not to buy complex weapons. First we need a proper coordination of command and proper communications. If we had something like this, the incident I mentioned at the top of the post would never have happened.

Better drop two of the Fulcrums to buy support systems alone. That would pay up, and would help to get the best out of those two without getting stuck in more shit.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ghost of A Machine: ATM Blues

Last Saturday was going to be the quintessential super Saturday. I planned thus. First thing in the morning, I'd get the hell outta house, goto university labs, meet up with the top engineer in my project team, talk, get stuff done, by which time another top man from another campus would've joined us. Then we'd go out and spend the better part of the day doing life-is-good stuff like gadget shopping, eating out and going to movies. But ole Murph was to raise 'is ugly head.

To do stuff, one needs money. So I headed up the small hill towards Sri Lanka's richest state-owned bank, where I proudly bank my fortunes. Pant upto the ATM. No one in sight cause it's still a bit early. Pop in my card. Aaah, life is good.

The ATM asked me to punch in my PIN, which I sleepily did. Then, it asked me the service and the amount, which I promptly punched in. Then, after all this, it suddenly says, “Transaction Cannot Be Completed: Invalid PIN!!”

Now wait one darn minute. Wrong PIN? Okay, but why not tell me the second I punch it in? why say after all this? Typical girl. I'm a Web engineer by day job, and my code would tell you the second you enter wrong authentication information. Period. That's the way I've used to get machines work. Are ATM's engineered along a different philosophy? or is this darn slimeball broken? I punch cancel, get the card out, and then try again. The same story. Did I change my PIN? Negative, if yeh ask me. I don't remember changing the PIN, not really. Actually, once in a blue moon I've used that ATM system. What could be wrong? And my super Saturday was tapping its foot impatiently.

OK, this might be broken. I didn't like the look of the machine even. It was, well.. hah. Even the by-screen buttons were out of alignment with the screen. I had to count the options from bottom, and again count the buttons from the bottom to find the right button for an option. Fine, try the next town.

There stuff look like a bit matching to the Richest State Bank thing. The ATM machine is crisp and new, there's music blaring in the cubicle, and I pop in the card. Grr. Same story. Get my card, show me her everything, ask me everything, and then say the PIN is wrong. Try a second time, and super Grr. She decided to retain my card.

I'm positive for about 99.9% that I didn't change the PIN. Usually I don't use the card. The account was operated by my dad usually, and I know he doesn't know how to change the PIN and let's face it, dads aren't that tech savvy. What he does everytime he forgets it is ask me the number and I give it.

From all state banks like Peoples' and Ceylon, NSB is humane. The service is better markedly I think. But the ATM is kaput I think. Perhaps the database is corrupt. I wonder what they use. Perhaps the IBM iSeries and DB2? Most banks use it. It's reliable, but I can't be too sure till I go pit my wits one-on-one against their IT division and get the thing sorted out. Let battle commence!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Big MiG Deal

Latest MiG-29 version, OVT.

I've been thinking about this MiG-29 deal which seems inevitable now, and looks like would happen within weeks considering the situation. If the reports I hear are correct, the GoSL is to purchase upto 4 MiG-29 Fulcrum jets along with a lease option of a trainer. Thinking of the cost of a Fulcrum which is around US$15-20 million, this is no bullock-cart purchase. This purchase is vital to national security, and air defence fighters and associated weaponry cost. A lot. And currently I don't think US$s is the thing SL has got most of. That exactly is why the AF people should have spent several nights up analyzing all options before stumbling upon this. I hope they did so.

I'm not against the MiG-29 as a jet. It's an awesome piece of military jet. But the thing is MiG's have not been put against this kind of challenge anywhere in the world yet. Actually, NO Fulcrum has shot down another aircraft in anger for all these years [service entry 1983], but it's considerable that 12 MiG-29's have been so far shot down in various theaters [by F-15s and 16s, most]. Soundbite for people who chant about it's superiority. We can't afford to test aircraft, but that's only one point of the story.

If I were given the chance, what I would spend money mainly on is, getting the thing done with available assets and very importantly, keeping the aircraft at at least 10-15 minute high alert status. This costs serious money. And that was what we didn't have or the last four times we got bombed. Keep aside air-to-air combat, we couldn't scramble even a kite atleast to track down the terrorist aircrafts' operating bases. And I'm serious when talking about 'available assets'. We already have aircraft with more-than enough performance to counter the threat posed. I would see about upgrading Kfirs and F-7's Since we're short of time as well, being able to field the weapons fast is VERY important. And we've been flying these jets for ages. Kfirs are combat proven and have confirmed arial kills to their credit in South American hands. Our pilots know how to waltz them upstairs, and our engineering wings know how to maintain them. By talking with Pakistan about F-7's and Israel Aircraft Industries about the Kfir, we could've got it done. Was that an option?, or was that simply wasn't cause it wouldn't pour commissions into someone's pocket? Now this advantage can't be won with a completely new and sophisticated type like Fulcrum without putting a lot of cash and mistakes down the drain. And for crying out loud, WE NEED THAT CASH and we can't afford MISTAKES!!

There's one issue though. It might prove difficult, or almost impossible to use guns and heat homing missiles against Tiger aircraft respectively because they operate very close to ground at night at very low speeds and the thermal signature of a light aircraft piston engine is very low. The missile would be VERY confused if they use any kind of IR countermeasures. So some kind of radar-guided weaponry is required. In this sense the Fulcrum has got what the doctor ordered. But I think the best option we'd have bought is upgrading the Kfirs. It could've been cheaper still even we bought four dedicatedly air-to air configured Kfirs from IAI, who would've gotten it done easily [I wonder whether the Palestine-keen Mahinda administration got the Israelis sour as well]. If someone thought Kfirs and F-7 fleets were aging, why not opt for less sophisticated, low-cost and to-the-point Chinese defence interceptors like JF-17 of JHC-7 Flying Leopard? The rest of the money can be well spent on better ground-based radar-aided fire control systems and most importantly, keeping the bought jets in at least a 10-minute scramble-ready status.

All in all, what can be seen is that the MiG deal is just overweight. I just wonder how long we'd be able to keep them operational. Remember Bangladesh buying Sukhois [-24s I guess]? Perhaps the Tigers would wait till we run about mad and run out of money, and then resume their night visits. And sensing the AF disregarded the well-valued option of upgrading/buying already combat proven and familiar Kfirs, perhaps there's a big under-hand deal here as well, as the case was for all military deals in the past. I don't think under-hand, big-commission deals are easy if you deal straight with Israel Aircraft Industries or Chinese state aircraft corporations.

US$ 80 million. Better used mending Colombo's overflowing gutter system than wasted on unmanageable ultra-sophisticated Fulcrums. And what about the peace process now? Are we going to finish this by war, or what? Mahinda, PLEASE stop and think if you're for the country truly.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Just Unjust: Story of an Innocent in Death Row

Today while watching CNN I saw the touching story about a young girl in Baghdad death row. She had been convicted for a crime she had not committed. Her boyfriend had killed her wealthy uncle and her cousin, and the police had arrested her and tortured her and taken a forced statement out of her. Her parents were also interviewed by CNN. Her dad has sold everything he had in the battle to save his daughter. Previously also Iraqi police had taken forced statements out of women, after torturing them and raping them. In this girl's case, the court had refused even to listen to what she had to say, and just convicted her guilty only by the statement the police had gotten out of her. She had been having a cordial relationship with the cousin she is convicted to have murdered. Afterwards she had started an affair with this boy, and he had done the murders when she had visited her uncle with him. And after the forced conviction of her, today she is in an Iraqi prison in death row, unsure whether she'd be able to see sunrise tomorrow.

Her parents have done almost everything they can, and even written to Iraqi president asking for a pardon. Her lawyer says now everything legally possible is closed, and unless any new groundbreaking evidence surface, her fate is technically sealed.

It's so so tragic, to get hold of someone and torture them senseless and get some statement out of them, and then convict them even without hearing what they have to say and send them to death. This is practically the situation here in Sri Lanka as well, only here the person sometimes faces death even before producing before courts, like in that situation when an innocent balloonman was convicted by police to have called a school. This is the peril of having the death sentence in force, cause there always will be the risk of convicting an innocent person to an irrevocable punishment. I think the death penalty is the ultimate state-induced violation of human rights. Any country with death penalty in force has a regime which fundamentally refuses human rights. Killing a person who has killed doesn't do any good, if you ask me. There should indeed be another perspective to look at other than this pre-human ape-like one. There should always be another solution.

Until such humane solution is universal, until we ourselves tame and become humans, stories like the one of the Iraqi girl I mentioned will always be heard. This is only one: there must be many other innocents who were wrongly convicted and executed, cause them and only them would have know that they're innocent. There should be a stop to this. A judicial system cannot 'see-through' a person, just rely on evidence, which can prove very wrong.

Still her parents have hope. She has hope, till her heart beats. Womens' Rights Organizations there are working hard to get her verdict reconsidered. But in reality it's uncertain, cause she has already been convicted.

I wish she would be ok. I sincerely do. I hope you would, too.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

State of the Air Force

Now the Air Force has been caught practically 'pants down'. The Tiger air wing has bombed four times and got away safely, and SLAF couldn't scramble as much of a firework rocket to intercept. If the Air Force was proper, Tigers would have been detected and shot down the first time they got airborne. But now they have attacked four times with a high degree of success. What is the AF doing?

The Air Force has been spending or improper arms deals, focusing only on commissions and not proper equipment of force for years. The Air Force was recommended to obtain night flying capabilities about 5 years back, but nobody had looked into it. But we have invested in huge amounts on now non-flying assets such as the two C-130 transport jets. Obtaining MiG-27's was also a pathetic wastage of cash, which could've gone in proper upgrading of effective Kfir jets, perhaps getting night and some air-to-air capability. It was known from years that the Tigers were building airstrips and were obtaining air force capabilities. To say the AF was 'not ready' is, again, pathetic, isn't it? I wonder what the hell they were doing. And now, after years of corrupt deals and doing nothings, what we're left with is an Air Force that cannot protect Sri Lankan airspace.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Lazy Sunday

Well can hardly call it that. I'm just sitting here in front of an HP Compaq cause all my schedules got postponed until late afternoon. Pathetic.., but atleast I'm not alone. And being Sunday, you can't do any serious shopping too or else I'd have gone out and bought a DCU-11 or a mountain bike helmet. Been looking for one but still couldn't find any decent store which sells them. Leave a note if you know somewhere.

I feel like hungry and it might be a good idea to duck into McDi but since Galle Road is one-way I really don't know where to get down from Duplication Road. And besides, I've got a boxful of seenisambol sandwiches I guess. But can manage a muffin of two.

Woke up to the news of Tiger air raid. Don't know exactly, but now people are saying even the harbor was bombed. This is pure shit: we should've acquired at least some A-to-A and night capability so we could've scrambled a jet, but still we don't seem like able to do it. oh well..

Just great.

Got Bombed Thrice

While the Sri Lankan cricket team battled it off with Australians in World Cup finals, woke up to news of the unbeatables of Tamil Tiger Rebels' Air Wing launching another air attack on Colombo in the early hours of today morning. As usual, has only a sweeping statement, but Yahoo! News says that the targets were vital oil installations at Kolonnawa and Kerawalapitiya. Although the damages done are still not clear, it seems that there were some damage at Kerawalapitiya.

This Is Pathetic

Indeed. That is the only word. As usual, the aircraft came, bombed, and flew back. The air force didn't even scratch some paint outof their kites. At last now the capabilities of the air force has come into public light. For sure they still can't fight it out in air. The fast jets, unless armed with sophisticated air-to-air weapons systems, cannot 'gun down' slow and low moving propeller driven aircraft, especially at night. Only hope is a helicopter gunship, but last Thursday one of them got crashed when one was scrambled to check on an air attack report. I don't know why we pay taxes.

Now the Tiger Air Wing has totally defeated SLAF in their own skies. Still the AF people issue statements wearing combat pants. The arms procurement has been utterly ineffective. Although it is reported that the US Pacific Command recommended that SLAF acquire night capabilities almost 5 years back, what the air force and the GoSL have paid for were lambchops and 52-member cabinets. Non of the government procurement committee members seem to have any idea about what the AF really need. What happened was AF officials misleading government funds [even the meagre available], and buying obsolete purchases adding a definite zero to air force capability. I'd eat my hat if these aren't millionaires now.

And we still get bombed the shit outof us.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Futile Check Point

Today also got caught in one of Mahinda's painstakingly time-eating but totally useless security checks. I first wondered whether World Cup finals have been shifted overnight to Premadasa Stadium from Barbados. The whole Galle Road was literally blocked for all types of traffic. The check? simply your ID. They look at your national ID card only!! What a check. Any guy with a decent printer could print one. And for heaven's sake how can you tell whether a guy's a terrorist or not just by looking at their ID? The bag check was there again for the sake of it, but purely useless. I bet I could've smuggled an ICBM in my backpack without them noticing. I don't think the sleepy policeman who pretended to look at my ID even saw my name. I also don't think they bagged any suspects either. What I saw was they are just stopping people and looking at their ID's just because they were ordered to, and those who ordered just did it so they can say "we've got security in this country!" at evening news.

The thing is, the government wants to prevent the people from panicking by making them feel a false sense of safety. I don't know whether the public are still dumb enough to feel safe just because some slumberjacks in uniforms are stopping morning traffic and pretending to check people's IDs. I walk into one of the high security zones in the country on a fairly routine basis and mostly they look at whatever ID I present, 80% of the time don't check my bag however heaving it is, and ask where I'm going. You don't need extremely big IQ to figure out that anything could be smuggled in if anyone really needs to. And on the other hand, LTTE has already struck at almost all the targets they wanted so we might as well go on with the futile checks.

The government has failed to safeguard the country and it's people from LTTE air attacks. GoSL has a full fledged air force but got bombed twice and almost thrice by light propeller-driven aircraft carrying homemade bombs. And now Mahinda and the whole mob are in Barbados to watch cricket, with their propaganda posters here hailing the Rajapakse Brothers. Just excellent.

Friday, April 27, 2007

SL Anthem Instrumental

Found this nice instrumental of Sri Lanka Matha from Wikipedia. It's an OGG file, but better than MP3 anyways I think. If you've only got Windows Media Player, you won't be able to play it so I recommend VLC. It is a worthy install cause it can play almost all the media types in existence, and really is nice.

The anthem copy is here, and the player is here. Enjoy!