Archives for: "July 2006"

The real Superman

I am fed up with Superman this and Superman that. If Superman is so super why does he suck?

What does he suck compared to? The real super-"thing", he only takes a man-form when it suits him.

This is something so super he is can appear as god, can travel back in time billions of years, shift the whole universe around with a thought, change history of billions of planets with a snap of his fingers, or destroy the entire universe, or create a whole new one.

So behold your true Superman... Q.

Q as God
Q appearing to Picard as God Almighty.

This guy doesn't need to use his body to stop an aircraft from hitting the ground, who knows if he even has a body. With a single thought he can send that aircraft crossing the billions of light years to the other side of the universe and back again safe and sound before Superman had even finished putting his costume on.

What does real democracy look like?

In any revolutionary period we see the masses mobalise into their own organisations. Today in Latin America they're called Bolivarian Circles, in Russia they were called Soviets (literally meaning workers' councils), these same councils sprung up in France, Germany and across Eastern Europe in times of advanced class struggle.

In Russia in 1905, the trade unionists understood that only by strengthening solidarity beyond their own interests, would they be able to wage a successful struggle. In the past, several strike committees would form in a single city, and the secret police would arrest one group one day, and move to the next the day after. The workers of Ivanovo-Voznesensk knew that only by uniting all the workers throughout the city, despite their various differences and needs, could a broad struggle be successful. In the truest sense of the word, these workers were Russia's first Communists. Thus, spontaneously arising from the masses of striking workers, without guidance from any political party, came the Soviets.

A council of the workers, representing the broad interests of all the working people. These spread rapidly across Imperial Russia. Reaching their peak over 10 years later, when the soviets themselves demanded they should be the state. Replacing the old Tsarist institutions and the useless parliament, with organisations made, occupied and controlled by ordinary people. The Bolshevik's who had only a small minority in the soviets at the start of 1917 won the majority over on a program of "all power to the soviets".

"The Soviet was the axis of all events, every thread ran towards it, every call to action emanated from it." 1905, by Leon Trotsky.

Petrograd Soviet

This is what a soviet looked like in action, this is the Petrograd Soviet, there were over 10000 such councils across the whole of Russia before October took place. In this particular soviet some 20000 workers had been elected to it in just 4 years.

This is what democracy looks like in action. Not one parliament in the country where maybe 500 people get elected every 5 years. Thousands of such parliaments where thousands upon thousands of ordinary people are elected, and importantly can be instantly recalled when they don't do what their electorate want them to. They manage all affairs, from production of the steal mill where they work, or how much they should spend on welfare, or how many buses they need running on this route at that time and so on.

So the next time you hear someone on £150 000 a year talk about democracy, and elections every few years just remember how hollow such a democracy is, a democracy where the masses don't participate at all, someone rich, someone powerful, someone who "understands" how things should be done is running it all on your behalf, almost in secret. That isn't democracy, that isn't even close.

Internet Explorer 7 pushed over Auto Update

Microsoft have made the right choice and have announced that shortly after Internet Explorer 7 is released it will be pushed down over Automatic Updates as a high priority item.

For enterprises Microsoft will offer a tool to prevent IE7 being downloaded, individuals can also decline installation simply by pressing the don't install button on the installer.

Hopefully this will rapidly update the user-base. Unlike IE6's release which took years to trickle down to everyone.

What is that Galloway thing doing now?

George Galloway made a recent speech at a Stop the War Coalition demonstration against the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. He said one thing that caught my attention (thanks to Take back the voice):

I am here to glorify the resistance, Hezbollah. I am here to glorify the leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah is a bourgeois scumbag who should be locked up, with his Israeli opposites.

Socialists support the actions of the people in defending themselves from aggressive expansionist regimes. But we do not support individual bourgeois, nationalist or fundamentalist groups, we support the people of Lebanon and Israel in their struggle for peace.

I suppose when the revolution sweeps across the middle east and the fundamentalists will directly engage the workers that idiot Galloway will be on the side of Islamic fundamentalism and bourgeois nationalism?

What are the Israeli military doing now?

Heavy shelling around Khiam on Tuesday had forced the four observers into the bomb shelters. At about 1.20pm, officials say, a jet dropped a bomb only 300 metres away. The observers contacted the Unifil headquarters.

The observers warned Israel that their aircraft were dropping bombs dangerously close to a UN position. The Israelis said that they would check the situation and make any necessary adjustments. But jets then dropped ten bombs between 100 and 300 metres from the UN position and fired 12 artillery rounds within 150 metres, UN officials said. The fatal strike — using a "precision-guided weapon", said UN military personnel — hit the post at about 7.20pm.

Now this was a building, not close to any other buildings, It's an obvious building, it was white with two black letters 'UN' written on the sides of it. It's been there for years and the Israelis were well aware of it's position.

So why did an F-16 fly over and use a precision guided bomb against it, just after the UN had contacted Israel telling them, again, that their observers were at that position? What don't the Israeli military want the UN to see?

More on HD DVD victories

From Post Gazette:

Q: I read your Blu-ray/HD-DVD article and was staggered at some of your comments. You do not seem to understand digital media at all. Digital media is the same regardless of device. Files and films on HD-DVD and Blu-ray discs are identical; what differs are technical details such as the type of laser used, etc. Comparing the quality of two digital media formats is ridiculous. In fact, it's completely irrelevant. The only difference between HD-DVD and Blu-ray is capacity.

The reply:

A: I had planned on writing about HD-DVD and Blu-ray this week, so I can provide you with some simple, easy-to-grasp information on how these two formats differ and why HD-DVD currently offers far superior picture quality than Blu-ray.

Blu-ray video is encoded in MPEG-2, an older digital video format. HD-DVD uses VC-1, a much newer format developed by Microsoft. The digital files on Blu-ray discs and HD-DVDs are mastered with different equipment and are as different as apples and oranges.

The VC-1 format provides better image quality in less space than MPEG-2. Current Blu-ray movies are single-layer with a capacity of 25GB total. HD-DVDs are composed of two 15GB layers, for a total of 30GB. HD-DVD's greater capacity and its far superior video format yields much better looking movies.

I saw a production Blu-ray movie and I am sorry to report that the near-universal negativity is well deserved. The movie, "The Fifth Element,'' looked soft and fuzzy, with a hint of digital noise that reminded me of an image taken with an old digital camera. It's an insult to consumers' intelligence to expect us to accept it as quality.

Spot on. Where's the promised 50GB? Come on Sony you only got the support you did because you promised larger capacity, now we're told we have to wait until much later, next year and hope that spending $1000 on a player today will be able to play dual-layer discs. No thanks. Blu-ray is a yet another Sony flop. It's also time for those "one-format" people to stop campaigning for a single format and just support HD DVD.

Countering the Apple propaganda machine

Another political thread? Nah back to the geek wars. Just came across this Windows Vista Beta: A lot like Mac OS X.

Well no, not really.

I'll deal with the whole Widget and Gadget thing first. Microsoft announced the sidebar before Apple copied Konfabulator, yes that is right they copied Konfabulator almost exactly. Microsoft's sidebar (which hosts the gadget platform) existed prior to Apple copying it, don't believe me go check out the early PDC videos.

The home directory, well that's nothing new for either Apple or Microsoft, it's been that way for decades with Unix - which Apple had to adopt as they can't afford to employ kernel architects anymore.

Here's a screenshot of the document structure from Windows XP:

Windows XP documents

Now this is Vista:

Windows Vista user folder

Sure they moved pictures and things out of documents and into the same directory that documents lies in. Wow some serious copying!

But this isn't really what the article is trying to get at, more on that later.

Calendar applications, the article implies that Microsoft is copying because they have the month on the left side of the window.... Hmmm well let's look at another Microsoft application, that pre-dates Mac OS X. It's called Outlook and it's used by hundreds of millions of people.

Outlook calendar

So who's copying who?

Search. We all know Apple had that first right? Wrong. Microsoft announced the search functions prior to Apple announcing their search functions. Windows XP was also the first client to have the indexed search on, sure it was provided by an add-on (because we can't go back in time and add things). So don't claim Apple invented that, or that Microsoft were copying. If anyone was copying it was Apple. Again see the PDC videos from like 3 years ago. A lot of things Microsoft announced then strangely got added in Mac OS 10.4.

The whole article sets up Windows Vista to look like Mac OS X. From not using glass (one of the key features) to using an old build with a grey theme. Which has been replaced by a more Windows-like blue theme.

For example using these screenshots:

Vista comparison

Vista comparison

Clearly attempting to outline the fact that Microsoft even copy Mac OS X's disgusting grey look.

This is what the basic theme actually looks like out of the box:

Vista theme basic

It's blue, not grey. Sure it was a recent change, but everyone knew the old theme was just a placeholder and yes there will be even more changes later on.

If anybody is copying anyone else, it sure isn't Microsoft who's doing the bulk of it.

Peace, Propaganda & The Promised Land

Many of my American readers really have little knowledge of the situation with Israel, the territories they're occupying and the recent invasion of Lebanon, they regard all who fight against the illegal Israeli occupation as "terrorists" because it's always presented as Israel defending itself - which is nonsense as Israel is the aggressor which has tens of thousands of troops in foreign countries that it is occupying.

Although this video pre-dates the current conflict with Lebanon, a lot of it can be applied and is recommended viewing Peace, Propaganda & The Promised Land.

Of course many of my left-wing readers will be well aware of all of this in advance as the media is privately owned it reflects private interests, however I still recommend you to pass this video on to others.

The loss of Ted Grant

This morning Ted Grant, aged 93, died. I'll borrow some stuff about him from Wikipedia:

He formed a new, small tendency in the Labour Party, called the Revolutionary Socialist League which in 1957 was recognised at the official British section of the Fourth International and in 1964 founded the paper Militant. The group at first grew only very slowly, but by 1983, when it was known as the Militant Tendency, it was a significant force in British politics, and Grant was expelled from the Labour Party.

Throughout this time Grant and his colleagues denied that the Militant/RSL was any sort of political organisation, instead claiming it was merely a group of supporters of the newspaper (also called Militant). In the atmosphere of Labour's long shift to the left in the 1970s, all attempts to take action against the Militant/RSL were successfully resisted and even Michael Foot's action against Grant in 1982 (he was expelled along with the so-called "Editorial Board" - actually the Militant/RSL executive committee) was half-hearted.

But by 1985 the atmosphere had changed - Militant/RSL were effectively running Liverpool City Council as well as having 3 MPs. The grouping was aggressively advancing within the Labour Party but also faced a new leader, Neil Kinnock who was determined to smash the Militant/RSL as a force within the party.

The resulting confrontation saw many leading Militant/RSL members expelled from Labour and created a dynamic within the organisation that led many to question Grant's commitment to entryism. They argued that Militant/RSL was able to grow outside Labour and that the Labour Party's position on the poll tax revealed it to be out of touch with working class opinion. Despite the purges organised by the Labour bureaucracy, only a handful of leading Militant/RSL members were ever expelled, and most of the organisation's thousands of members and their three Labour-elected Members of Parliament could not be expelled.

Ted Grant obituary on Marxist.com.

Ted Grant appealing to the Labour Party conference 1983

In a defiant speech to the Labour Party conference in 1983, Ted said: "We'll be back!" He told them that there is no way Marxism can be separated from the labour movement. How right he was, now just a week before his death, socialism is stirring once more within Labour.

I'd like to think the splintered "socialist" sects on the left would learn the lesson, the most successful Marxist organisation in British history was not itself a party but was a part of the Labour Party, and an extremely powerful and influential part that could only be dealt with by extreme actions. The way forward in Britain is with the labour movement as a whole, and not with a sect of 20 members who are totally disconnected to the working masses.

Yes I'm talking about the SWP, SSP, BSP, SLP, CPB, etc and whatever fronts they throw together, the Socialist Alliance or Respect. They're all doomed to failure because they're disconnected from the mass. Learn the lesson from this comrade's life and experience.

HD DVD racing ahead

This won't be a technical rant (we all know Blu-ray has 5GB less storage has much more fragile discs and doesn't use the VC-1 advanced codec as often), everyone who's seen an HD DVD against Blu-ray instore will know if one of them is better it is HD DVD, of course there's not much difference between them, until you look at the price tags, Blu-ray media being 3 times more expensive and the players being twice as expensive.

HD DVD

Most importantly in retail HD DVD is storming ahead:

Amazon top 10 HiDef software sales rank for 7/1/06
1. Syriana HD-DVD #949
2. Serenity HD-DVD #974
3. The Bourne Supremacy HD-DVD #1242
4. The Last Samurai HD-DVD #1610
5. Apollo 13 HD-DVD #2021
6. Swordfish HD-DVD #2130
7. Pitch Black (Unrated) HD-DVD #2347
8. Ultraviolet Blu-Ray #2644
9. Unforgiven HD-DVD #2862
10. Firewall HD-DVD #2921

In the top ten of high definition discs there is just one Blu-ray film.

In a recent Ipsos-Vantis survey:

1. In response to the question “Which statement best describes how likely you would be to buy an HD DVD player,” respondents were over seven times more likely to buy an HD DVD player vs. a Blu-Ray player when all studios support both formats.

a. 57% would definitely or probably buy an HD DVD player vs. 8% for Blu-Ray.

b. 25% would definitely buy HD DVD vs. 2% for Blu-Ray.

2. Purchase interest in HD DVD remains three times higher than Blu-Ray -- even without HD DVD studio support from Disney and Fox.

a. 56% of respondents would definitely or probably buy an HD DVD player vs. 18% for Blu-Ray.

b. 20% would definitely buy HD DVD vs. 6% for Blu-Ray.

3. The main reason consumers prefer HD DVD over Blu-Ray is its superior value.

a. In response to the question, “Which statement best describes how you feel about the value of an HD DVD player,” nearly 57% of respondents indicated that HD DVD was a “very good” or “fairly good” value vs. 14% for Blu-Ray.

b. Conversely, 68% indicated that Blu-Ray was a “somewhat poor” or “very poor” value vs. 19% for HD DVD.

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