Mr Gene Sharp: Why Dictators and Despots Fear His Name Everywhere

Gene Sharp
Gene Sharp -- photo: Evan McGlinn for The New York Times

Gene Sharp is relatively unknown to the American public. Around the world he is held in high esteem by activists and is regarded with fear and animosity by many authoritarian leaders.

This humble, shy 83-year-old intellectual, through his practical writings on non-violent revolution, has had a broad influence on international events for two decades. Though he is quick to dismiss his role, his ideas are credited with helping to advance a global democratic awakening.

In 2005, two Moscow bookstores selling Russian translations of a book written by Mr. Sharp were mysteriously burnt down. In June 2007, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez accused Mr. Sharp of stirring unrest in Venezuela. In 2010 in Vietnam opposition activists were arrested for distributing a book written by Mr. Sharp.

Most recently his 102 page pdf document, “From Dictatorship to Democracy,” which is available in 28 languages, has inspired dissidents in Tunisia and Egypt Continue reading “Mr Gene Sharp: Why Dictators and Despots Fear His Name Everywhere”

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Revolution Comes to Egypt and Sweeps Across The Arab World

Mohamed Bouazizi
Mohamed Bouazizi, a humble vegetable vendor started the revolution in Tunisia when he set himself alight as a sign of protest

Tonight as I write this a revolution of change is sweeping the Arab countries of Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Yemen.

The revolution was started in Tunisia by Mohamed Bouazizi (26), a humble vegetable vendor. He set himself alight in December as a sign of protest. Mohamed had endured police bullying that resulted in the “last straw” confiscation of his vegetable cart. He died of his wounds in early January and instantly became a martyr to students and the unemployed. A wave of protests against poor living conditions began. Three weeks ago the country’s dictatorship fell sending a spark to ignite the unrest that is now burning out of control in this region of autocratic rulers.

The next dictator to feel the pain of revolution was Hosni Mubarak of Egypt after a 30 year autocratic rule which subjected Egyptian citizens to the suppression of political opposition, detention without trial and torture. Continue reading “Revolution Comes to Egypt and Sweeps Across The Arab World”

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The Grande Hotel in Beira Mozambique is Squatter Heaven

Grande Hotel
The Grande Hotel in Beira, Mozambique

On the North-Eastern border of South Africa lies the country of Mozambique. Here, in the port city of Beira, the magnificent Grande Hotel was built in the mid 1950’s when the country was still under Portuguese colonial control. It was by far the most luxurious Hotel in Africa. Continue reading “The Grande Hotel in Beira Mozambique is Squatter Heaven”

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RAM How To Boot Test Diagnose and Replace It — Part-2

RAM Card 2GB DDR2
Fig.1. RAM Card, 2GB DDR2 800MHz. You should avoid touching the gold connectors.
In this post we do a walk-through of the process of installing new RAM. The first post explored how to diagnose faulty RAM.

RAM that is faulty will occasionally cause your system to reboot. To correct this problem the RAM must be replaced.

Now, if you’ve got this far then you you know that my system occasionally reboots without warning. You know that I have established that malware is not to blame. No known driver issues and I’ve even made peace with the fact that my RAM failed me.

In Fig.1 at right is a top and bottom view of the replacement RAM card, 2GB DDR2 rated at 800MHz. You should take care not to touch the gold connectors, and rather handle the card by it’s short edges. For the replacement RAM I went to a local supplier here in Hermanus. You can find them online here.

Juan-Pierre of Matrix Wharehouse says: “It’s a 2GB DDR2 PC6400 RAM module that runs at an effective speed of 800Mhz. The actual speed of the memory is 400Mhz, but because it is DDR RAM, it is doubled as the transfer rate is doubled as well. Also, you will get a higher transfer rate if you connect two of the same memory modules, therefore giving you dual channel transfer speeds.”

Continue reading “RAM How To Boot Test Diagnose and Replace It — Part-2”

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RAM How To Boot Test Diagnose and Replace It

Grub menu
Fig.1 Dual boot Windows / Ubuntu + Memtest 86
You will hear these words, or at least think about them, when next you experience faulty RAM components. This can happen to you.

Random and without warning are four words that you do not want to hear used with computing terms like “shutdown” and particularly and ironically not together with the words “Random Access Memory” or RAM.

Just recently my computer has started occasionally rebooting spontaneously without perceivable cause. My motivation for fixing this problem is based on Van Haelen’s 3rd proposition, which, as you are no doubt aware, is based on premise that this reboot will happen right before you have saved your work and right after you have entered some critically important data, which will now be gone. The well known rider to this proposition is that the random reboot will never happen when you are playing Spider Solitaire or similar. Here’s my experience with diagnosing the problem and replacing the faulty RAM. Continue reading “RAM How To Boot Test Diagnose and Replace It”

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Deepest Sea Shoot for Avatar Sequel in the Marianas Trench

Trieste-in-the-Marianas-Trench
Artists impression: the bathyscaphe 'Trieste' in the Marianas Trench, the deepest ocean on earth (click to enlarge)

The author of Avatar, James Cameron, is assembling a team to dive to the bottom of the deepest sea. He is planning to shoot footage for a sequel to Avatar. The movie is set in the turbulent waters of Pandora, an alien moon, and it’s expected to hit the circuit in 2014. Cameron has commissioned Australian engineers to build a deep sea submersible to reach the bottom of the Marianas Trench.

“We are building a vehicle to do the dive. It’s about half-completed in Australia,” said Cameron.

Camerons destination is an area known as “Challenger Deep”. At 10 916 meters (35 813 feet) below sea level, this is the deepest surveyed point on earth. It lies in the hadopelagic or Hadal zone so named from the greek word ” Hades” for the “underworld.”

This deepest part of the ocean floor has been visited only once before, in January of 1960, and never since.   Continue reading “Deepest Sea Shoot for Avatar Sequel in the Marianas Trench”

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The Beautiful Bot River Estuary

Bot-River-Estuary
The Bot River Estuary (click to enlarge)

Last year I took this photo of the lovely Bot River estuary. We are privileged to live within walking distance of its shores. You may notice, if you look up at the top of this page, the banner-header of this website is cropped from the same photograph.

Time and time again I am drawn to try and capture the most astonishing variety of moods and vistas that are on display throughout the year as the seasons change.

This estuary is situated in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve on the southern coast of South Africa. It lies at the bottom of a broad and fertile valley and measures about six by two kilometres.  It is quite shallow with an average depth of 1 – 2 metres (3 – 6 feet).  The Bot and Afdaks rivers feed this estuary which seasonally opens to the sea. This ensures a rich variety of fauna, some 32 species of fish and over 50 kinds of birds including pelicans, flamingos and the other waders. Most are migratory and so are seen at different times of the year. Occasionally a herd of wild horses grazes on the grassy banks (12 images, click here for Flickr slide show). Continue reading “The Beautiful Bot River Estuary”

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Quotation Mark And Space After Period: Rules You Should Know About

Punctuation
Punctuation Rules You Need to Know

Have you ever wondered, like me, if one or two spaces should come after a period in a sentence?

Well, we are not alone. Apparently there is a dichotomy of opinion on this issue. Strongly held views are asserted by each camp.

For the one-spacers, Farhad Manjoo puts it best:

“Typing two spaces after a period is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong.”

Well, alright then. Not long ago, mere hundreds of years back, inconsistency reigned regarding spelling, punctuation and print design. In the early 20th century typesetting eventually became more widespread. Typesetters began to settle on a single space after the “full stop.” Europe was first to adopt this and America followed soon after. Then came a now virtually extinct technology — the manual typewriter.

The first typewriters had mono-space type. The introduction of the two-space rule was to accomodate the aesthetic shortcomings of the mono-space typewriter. Continue reading “Quotation Mark And Space After Period: Rules You Should Know About”

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The Hunter Gatherer Diet and How to Fast Your Way to Better Health

Caveman-diet
The Hunter Gatherer's diet was not like our modern diet

Last night I was up at midnight with my better half indulging in what is known as “the midnight snack.” Why am I telling you this? Because we spontaneously decided to commence with what will henceforth be known as our first thirty-hour-fast. Right after the midnight snack, that is. As I write this to you now, I’m fasting. We will not be eating anything at all, today. Or tonight. Not till tomorrow morning will anything but liquid pass these lips of ours. So far so good. Watch this space for a follow-on as to how this went.

Lately I have been reading about how to “stimulate the caveman” in you. Before the start of the agricultural period about 10,000 years ago man was a hunter-gatherer. Before this period, for the almost unimaginably long time of three million years, our diet contained an enormous variety of plant foods and was high in protein. There was nearly a complete absence of grains and simple carbohydrates in the hunter-gatherer diet. The closest thing to a carbohydrate was honey, Continue reading “The Hunter Gatherer Diet and How to Fast Your Way to Better Health”

10 Things I Have Done That You Probably Haven’t

South-African-Karoo
South African Karoo

This is a meme doing the internet rounds at the moment. Feel free to leave your own list in the comments below. In no particular order, here is my contribution:

1. Shot a running wild peacock at 300 meters
At the age of thirteen I hunted and shot a running ‘Po’, a type of wild peacock, in the Karoo desert of South Africa with a .222 Remington Swift rifle. It was 300 meters (about 1 000 feet) away and running away from me, dodging from side to side. With that single shot I instantly achieved a reputation with the locals as “die Engelsman wat kan skiet”. Translated this means “the Englishman that can shoot”.

2. Bungi jumped off the Gouritz River Bridge
This bone-chilling 22 storey high Bungi jump is on the beautiful east-coast Garden Route near Knysna, South Africa. Continue reading “10 Things I Have Done That You Probably Haven’t”

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