the Blacklight Arrow

David Blacker’s Blog

Speeding on the Southern Expressway

Me, speeding past a kovil

So on my sixth trip down the E01, they nailed me for speeding. It was actually a bit of a relief. Like a serial killer giving up to the inevitable. And I have been speeding. Probably still will. The relief came from finally knowing how they were going to catch me. I had been told they were installing speed detecting cameras, and on my last trip down south, I even saw cops standing by the road, mostly under overpasses, aiming speed guns at me. If they were going to stop me, they would have, since I was doing variously 130kmph, 140kmph, and 150kmph when I saw them. Obviously, they saw me first. And let me go.

Mostly, I wondered how exactly they were going to stop me. Flagging me down seemed impossibly dangerous, and I didn’t think they were going to give chase. I thought I was going too fast for them to visually read my plates and radio ahead, and I doubted that they had the technology to take a high-speed photograph and upload it to cops at the exits. In the end, it proved to be a bit of both the latter two.

My first time on the E01, I stuck to the speed limit for a full ten minutes, while cars overtook me. Then I got up to 140kmph and stayed there as long as I could, except when traffic or the sight of cops slowed me down. After several trips with nothing happening to stop me speeding, I realised I was on average faster than everyone else; I overtook everything placed before me, and nothing overtook me. Going down to Unawatuna this weekend, I took the usual precautions and nothing happened. Again. Coming back, traffic was moderately heavy, and I just kept my foot planted, doing the trip in 47 minutes. My slowest is 53 minutes, my fastest 38.

When I got to the Kottawa exit last evening, I saw a cop checking number plates in front of me. I’d seen this before, but not noticed anyone being charged. This time he gave me the good new: 128kmph at the 27th mile post. Aside from that being an embarrassingly low speed to be copped for speeding (I’ve been nailed for doing 140 on Baseline Road), I wondered where the Hell the 27th mile post was. I had slowed down on spotting a parked patrol car, and hadn’t seen a speed gun, but I guess that was it.

While I was waiting my turn to have my fine sheet filled out, other offenders unrepentantly inquired from each other what speeds they had each been clocked at. 138kmph was the winner amongst the half-dozen there, the champ unjustifiably proud. I sneered. I had passed him close to the Horana exit like he was standing still.

That’s where I found out how they nailed me. The police radio kept crackling and a voice would say something like, “Vehicle HA-1242, 28th milepost, 130kmph, silver car.” The cops at the exit would then write this down. Obviously, this was happening at all the exits north of the 28th mile post. I wondered what would happen if I challenged the charge. I’m guessing that they have some sort of camera attached to the speed gun — ‘cos no way they can read a number plate going by at that speed — and this picture would be produced in court if needed.

One improvement over the old system of cops flagging you down for these violations, is you get charged at the point of exit; so I only needed to go back to Kottawa to pick up my license, and not Aluthgama or somewhere like it was before. The fine’s a thousand rupees plus a hundred-rupee stamp. I sent a three-wheel driver today with the fine to the post office, and then to Kottawa to collect my licence. He charged me 1,500 bucks. So, 2,600 all told.

Also saw an Army patrol crossing the expressway while I was doing 150kmph. I saw them three seconds before I passed them. Luckily they were still in the oncoming lanes. In my rearview mirror I glimpsed them vault the center barrier. They were carrying a small sign about a foot in diameter which said “STOP”. Probably Vijayabahu Regiment. They always were idiots.

January 23, 2012 Posted by | cars | , , , , | 32 Comments

My Frankfurt Motor Show

The full line-up

The Mini Coupe's black alloys

The Frankfurt Motor Show is arguably the best such event on the planet. Unlike Geneva in March, and Paris in October, Frankfurt happens only once in two years, and gives visitors a chance to see new concepts as well as models that have been launched over 24 months instead of just 12. For a Sri Lankan, rarely getting the opportunity to see the world’s best in the steel and carbon, it was petrolhead heaven.

To make the experience even more unique, I was accompanied by Petrolhead Junior, aged 8. This would be our first car event together, a moment of great importance, even without the prospect of checking out the new baby Jag or sitting in an Aventador.

With just three hours to explore the show, we both knew what we wanted to see; so this post isn’t a comprehensive article on the exhibition, but a breakdown of what the Wee Man and I liked.

BMW

The Bavarian giant easily had the largest area to itself, practically the whole of Hall 11, crowding Rolls Royce and Mini into two small corners at the back. Even the Italian capos of Ferrari and Lambo didn’t get that much space. Hall 11 even had a track running just below the ceiling, and visitors watched spellbound as Beamers pulled out of their raised parking slots and roared — or in the case of the hybrids, hummed — around the track, only pausing in formation on the wide banked section behind the presentation stage.

New 6 Series

While BMW was giving its new 1 Series — including the highly praised 1M and various hybrid versions — top billing, I wasn’t really interested. I think the 1 is the ugliest Beamer ever made, and not even the 1M’s flared wheel arches can change that. The last M3 was still pretty popular with the punters, as was the Z4, but for me the new M5-led 5 Series and the gorgeous new 6 Series stole all the attention. I still like the looks of the old 6, but the slightly retro lines of the new one are just perfect, though that’s one big car, mind you. Hopefully we’ll see an M6 soon.

Hybrid fleet drives past the i8. Teutons worship in awe.

This was also my first close up look at the i8 concept, and with it was BMW’s new urban concept, the i3. The i8 is a petrol/lithium-ion hybrid 2+2 sports car that promises 0-100kmph in under five seconds, while the i3 is a pure electric city car that can carry four. Both cars are planned for a 2013 launch.

i3 electric city car

i8 sports concept

 

 

Mini wall wasn't so mini

Mini

I was never one for the Mini, particularly the new rendition, but the kid liked them, and I must admit that the John Cooper Works Coupe and the Countryman WRC racer do look the business; just not pretty business. Coupes should look pretty and sporty, and the Mini Coupe just isn’t. It looks like someone’s squashed a baseball cap down over its ears. Hopefully, future versions could iron that out, but it’s hard to see that happening without changing the overall proportions; and then it just won’t be a Mini will it? The 17-in alloys looked pretty cool, though. Another nice touch was the display of Mini accessories going all the way up the pierced steel wall, giving the whole stand a kind of grunge-pop feel.

JCW coupe

Countryman WRC with mini me

Continue reading

October 6, 2011 Posted by | cars | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Holes in the Darusman Defence — Examining the Probable Events

Last week, I attended a seminar conducted by the Colombo-based Marga Institute, a think tank devoted to studying and influencing human development in Sri Lanka. Marga is in the process of putting together a review of the UN Secretary General’s advisory panel report on Sri Lanka (the well-known Darusman Report), which will analyze several aspects of this document, including its legal credibility; the manner in which it makes its allegations and narrates the series of events that made up the final stages of the war; the recommendations of the report; and, very importantly, the impact all of this will have on the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka, via accountability and restorative justice. The seminar itself was to elaborate on the thinking behind the review, discuss the draft, and possibly include the conclusions of such discussions in the final review.

The seminar was therefore conducted in a series of panel discussions, each looking at a different aspect of the Darusman Report, and each made up of experts in that area. I was there mostly because I was part of the panel looking at the allegations made against the Sri Lankan Armed Forces in their conduct of the final operations to defeat the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. With me was Arjuna Gunawardene, a defence analyst, writer, and expert in suicide terrorism, and the session was moderated by Asoka Gunawardene of the Marga Institute. While this session began with presentations by both Arjuna and I, it focused around a series of key questions that we had been asked to examine. What I’m now going to do in this blog post is present our view in the form of a Q&A that will include our presentations and the questions that were subsequently put to us by the moderator and the other participants.

In the Darusman Panel’s account of the last stages of the war, and the events that lead to the allegations of war crimes, is the panel’s account complete, or if not complete, adequate, and has it been able to access all sources of information that are essential for coming to fair and just conclusions concerning the events and actions?

The account is certainly not complete, nor adequate, if it is taken as an objective narration of the events. But I believe it isn’t meant to be so, and is a document comparable to a policeman’s request for a search warrant, which sets out to show sufficient suspicion of guilt. However, since the report has been released to the public and is being treated and used as a historical account, its biases and subjectivity must be brought into account.

To be fair and objective, the panel would have needed to interview combatants as well as eyewitnesses to ascertain motive for some of the acts which are alleged to be criminal. It would need to examine the actual scenes of the crimes instead of merely examining photographs. Therefore, in Part I of the report (Mandate, Composition, & Programme of Work), Section D (Interaction with the GoSL), paragraph 22, the panel says that visiting Sri Lanka “was not essential to its work”, thereby confirming that an actual investigation was never its intention.

In spite of this statement, the laying out of the events takes the form of a narrative or historical account, suggesting that it is fact rather than allegation. Footnotes are given to previously documented statements or reports, but there isn’t any indication of where the other information came from. It is, of course, understandable that witnesses cannot be named at this stage, but it is still necessary to indicate what the capacity of an eyewitness was. Was he or she a civilian IDP, an NGO worker, or a journalist? Often, allegations of the use of artillery, cluster munitions, white phosphorous, etc are made without any indication of the source, or what expertise that source may or may not have in determining whether these were indeed the weapons and munitions used.

This is compounded further in the Executive Summary of the report which, for example says in the section Allegations Found Credible by the Panel, “Some of those who were separated were summarily executed, and some of the women may have been raped. Others disappeared, as recounted by their wives and relatives during the LLRC hearings.” By lumping together the unattributed allegations of rape and execution with those made by identified witnesses before the LLRC, the report gives the rape and execution allegations a higher credence which they may not deserve. There are many such similar examples, and it is a strategy subsequently used by the Channel 4 “documentary” Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, in which footage of identifiable Sri Lankan soldiers committing shocking but non-criminal activities is shown alongside footage of unidentified persons committing obviously criminal acts, thereby implying that all the acts shown are criminal ones committed by identifiable SL Army personnel.

Has the panel examined all possible explanations and interpretations of the events and actions before coming to its conclusions?

The report analyzes certain events and draws conclusions which often do not take into account factors that the report itself acknowledges elsewhere. While legally, the actions of the Tigers may not have any effect on the culpability of the Government of Sri Lanka or the SL Army, in a report which must examine motive, this refusal to examine the impact of Tiger actions on those of the GoSL and the SL Army is indicative of an unwillingness to acknowledge the possibility that there might be motives other than those alleged by the report.

For instance, in the Executive Summary’s conclusion to the allegations, it says, “the Panel found credible allegations that comprise five core categories of potential serious violations committed by the Government of Sri Lanka: (i) killing of civilians through widespread shelling; (ii) shelling of hospitals and humanitarian objects; (iii)denial of humanitarian assistance; (iv) human rights violations suffered by victims and survivors of the conflict, including both IDPs and suspected LTTE cadre; and (v) human rights violations outside the conflict zone, including against the media and other critics of the Government.”

It then goes on to say, “The Panel’s determination of credible allegations against the LTTE associated with the final stages of the war reveal six core categories of potential serious violations: (i) using civilians as a human buffer; (ii) killing civilians attempting to flee LTTE control; (iii)using military equipment in the proximity of civilians; (iv) forced recruitment of children; (v)forced labour; and (vi) killing of civilians through suicide attacks.”

However, there is no attempt to acknowledge the fact that allegations against the Tiger such as “(i) using civilians as a human buffer” and “(iii) using military equipment in the proximity of civilians” would contribute hugely to “(i) killing of civilians through widespread shelling” and “(ii) shelling of hospitals and humanitarian objects”, as the SL Army is alleged to have done.

It is on very rare occasions that the Tiger actions are specifically mentioned in relation to SL Army action. For instance in paragraph 79 of the report it says, “During the ninth and tenth convoys, shells fell 200 metres from the road, and both the SLA and LTTE were using the cover of the convoys to advance their military positions,” and then goes on to say in paragraph 86, “The LTTE did fire artillery from approximately 500 metres away as well as from further back in the NFZ,” without acknowledging that it was this very tendency of the Tigers to fire artillery and other weapons from close proximity to the civilians that was bringing in counter-battery fire 200 metres away.

500 metres is not a huge distance in such a restricted battle space, and it is very possible for even a single shell, or two or three, that could have devastating effect on concentrated civilians, to fall 500 metres off target. One or two shells could kill and injure a hundred civilians, and seem to indicate deliberate intent even when it isn’t so intended. Continue reading

July 25, 2011 Posted by | government, Security, War | , , , , , | 23 Comments

Why does the Darusman Panel Ignore Evidence of War Crimes?

In June 2010, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon appointed a panel to investigate and and advise him on the possibility of large scale human rights violations in the closing stages of the war in Sri Lanka, primarily in the first quarter of 2009. This was done close on the heels of the UN Human Rights Council’s rejection of a call by advocacy groups for a full-scale international investigation. Ban appointed his Special Rights Investigator to North Korea, Marzuki Darusman, as the panel’s chair and, in April 2011, the panel released its report. This report has been variously viewed by the different parties. At one end of the spectrum it is seen as totally biased and unfair by the government of Sri Lanka, and at the other end as proof of genocide by the Tamil nationalists. Somewhere in the middle, most balanced observers have seen it as a scathing indictment against both the victorious Sri Lankan military and the defeated Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Certain international advocacy groups such as Amnesty International, the International Crisis Group, and Human Rights Watch, then immediately mounted a media campaign accusing the GoSL of war crimes, and one particularly contentious issue is that in this campaign, the panel’s use of the phrase “credible allegation” has been replaced by that of “credible evidence”, giving the impression that the panel has evidence of war crimes committed by the GoSL. The recently aired Channel 4 documentary, Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, opens with this lie.

In reality, the panel uses the phrase only twice; in the positive, saying that it had credible evidence that superiors in the Sri Lankan chain of command were responsible for any violations committed by their subordinates; and in the negative, claiming to have no credible evidence of the LTTE’s use of human shields. Everywhere else, the term used is that of credible allegations. At no point does the Darusman Report reveal what evidence it examined, which portions were deemed credible, and which portions were rejected. Nor does it explain how an allegation was deemed credible, and whether this credibility was based on actual evidence, eyewitness testimony, or both. In spite of this, legal minds contend that credible evidence is necessary for an allegation to be termed credible, though it is unclear as to how the Darusman panel adjudged credibility.

Let’s take the statement by the panel that they cannot find credible evidence of the Tigers using civilians as human shields. This is what the report says:

“…With respect to the credible allegations of the LTTE’s refusal to allow civilians to leave the combat zone, the Panel believes that these actions did not, in law, amount to the use of human shields insofar as it did not find credible evidence of the LTTE deliberately moving civilians towards military targets to protect the latter from attacks as is required by the customary definition of that war crime (Rule 97, ICRC Study).”

Rule 97 of the Customary International Humanitarian Law, as set out by the ICRC, prohibits the use of human shields, and is based on a number of customary practices, international conventions, military manuals, and state laws which are cited in support of Rule 97.

Now, given that in addition to eyewitness testimonies to the fact, there exists video footage shot by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of the Sri Lanka Air Force which clearly show violations of Rule 97, the Darusman report seems to fly in the face of the actual evidence. Continue reading

June 16, 2011 Posted by | government, Politics, Security, War | , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Use & Misuse of Special Forces in Sri Lanka — Does the SL Army Need to Rethink its Special Operations Doctrine?

One of the more interesting presentations at the recently concluded seminar, titled Defeating Terrorism: the Sri Lankan Experience, organised by the MoD and the SL Army, was done by Brig Nirmal Dharmaratne, the Special Forces Brigade commander, on the use of special operations forces in the defeat of the LTTE. The Sunday Times ran an excerpt of the paper on June 5th.

As with most of the seminar’s presentations, this too concentrated on the SL Army’s experience rather than that of the defence forces as a whole, and Brig Dharmaratne stuck to outlining the contribution of the SL Army’s two special operations units — the Commandos and the Special Forces, running through their missions and the tactics and strategies employed against the Tigers.

Although both the Commandos and the Special Forces were originally raised with very distinct and individual missions in mind, Brig Dharmaratne’s presentation seems to indicate that both formations were used in mutually interchangeable roles ranging from strategic deep penetration missions to direct infantry assaults on Tiger strongpoints. Therefore, I too am going to simply look at both these elite units together, examining the roles they were used in both in the North and East, before examining them individually and comparing them to similar foreign special operations units and their roles.

Before I do that, let’s take a quick look at the original missions these formations were raised to conduct. When the Commando Regiment was raised back in 1980, the SL Army was a totally different organisation from the one we see today, and more importantly, so were the Tamil militants. The SL army numbered around 10,000 troops, and the terrorists a tenth of that. The soldiers carried unweildy British rifles and obsolete submachine-guns, with little or no armour, artillery or air support. The terrorists were armed with little better than pistols and submachine-guns and rode around on bicycles.

The Commandos were formed as a direct action and counter-terror force, tasked with raiding terrorist bases deep in the jungle that could not be reached by regular infantry units. It was also envisaged that the Commandos would be the dedicated hostage rescue team in the event of a hostage crisis, regardless of whether it happened within the theater of military operations or not. For this purpose, the Commandos were initially trained by former members of the British Special Air Service (SAS), and the Commandos’ role was more or less that which the SAS had had been tasked with during WW2 and in the ’50s and ’60s in Oman, Malaya, and Borneo; basically small unit raids that could not be conducted by larger formations such as the British Commandos and Chindits.

The Special Forces were raised in 1985, and clearly a different role was planned for them that was distinct from the ranger/raider-oriented mission of the Commandos. This was articulated as unconventional warfare operations in both urban and remote rural environments. This was a role closer to that of the US Special Forces, and one which the SAS too had adapted to; that of fighting as guerrillas, saboteurs, and in fact “terrorists”. In WW2, this role had mostly been undertaken by civilian organisations such as the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS), mostly because there were no military units trained or ready to carry out such missions. By the ’60s, however, the fledgling US Special Forces and the reinstituted SAS had taken on this role.

In spite of the fact that both the Commandos and Special Forces had seemingly distinct and separate roles to each other, the leadership of both formations ambitiously expanded their roles in the early ’90s, competing with each other for MoD budget allocations, until by the end of the 20th century, both formations were virtually indistinguishable from each other when it came to mission role. The Special Forces had even usurped the SL Navy Special Boat Squadron’s amphibious specialisation, eventually relegating that unit to a support role, much as the Commandos had once done to the SL Air Force’s special operations unit which specialised in air mobility. Both units were running long range sabotage and assassination missions, strategic and tactical reconnaissance, training indigenous units like the National Guard Battalions and the Civil Defence Force, maintaining a hostage rescue capability, and operating with former separatist organisations like the Karuna Group and the EPRLF. They were also often misused as shock troops when regular infantry units were unable to overcome Tiger defences, and this often resulted in heavy casualties among these elite troops. This latter role was very similar to that carried out by the US Ranger Regiments in WW2. As Eelam War IV approached, both the Commandos and Special Forces, either by necessity or ambition, were covering every aspect of infantry warfare, both conventional and unconventional. Continue reading

June 7, 2011 Posted by | War | , , , , , | 29 Comments

Son the Father

I spent a considerable amount of time with my father recently. It’s something I’ve always wanted, but never really had. It wasn’t that he had no time for me. He did. But I didn’t. It wasn’t physical time that we lacked; it wasn’t even need. I think it was courage. We are both cowards; from a long line of cowards. Emotional cowards. He’s brave in many ways, in ways I cannot comprehend. He does things I could never do, I think. But he can’t talk to me. And I can’t talk to him. I’ve suspected this for a long time, and pretended it wasn’t true. But this time with him proved it. There was a time when I imagined what it would be like to talk to him, to really talk, man to man, as equals. But I think that time is past now. Equality is fleeting in relationships of time, and now that balance has swung right over.

I know he tries. He wants to pick that lock. But he doesn’t know how. And neither do I. And it’s frustrating and, ultimately, annoying. It makes me want to walk away as he did from his own father. I know I will regret it one day, as he himself regrets. I know I don’t have much time left. But still.

And I fear that history of cowardice; I fear that it will be the same with my own son. With the boy, there is so much time ahead, a lifetime. So much time, but so little will be spent together. And I know he is already comfortable with that.

April 22, 2011 Posted by | Love | , , , | 7 Comments

Pick Your Garage — the 25 Top Cars of all Time

OK, here are the rules. If you had unlimited money and space, which 25 cars (or jeeps, buses or whatever — 4 wheelers) of all time would you pick to own. You don’t have to pick 25, but what’s crucial is that you can only pick one from each marque (or badge), so if you pick an Audi TT, that’s it; no more Audi’s. All cars must be street legal production cars, so no race cars or concept cars or one-offs built in a shed. So think it through and have fun. You can add your 25 in the comments section, or write your own blog post and tag me and anyone else you think would enjoy this little game.

1.

Lamborghini Murcielago LP-670-4 SV

Engine: 661bhp 6.5ltr mid-mounted V12 Transmission: 6-speed semi-automatic paddle shift Performance: 0-100kmph in 2.7 seconds, 342kmph top speed Designer: Luc Donckerwolke

 

 

2.

Ferrari 599 GTO

Engine: 661bhp 6.0ltr front mid-mounted V12 Transmission: 6-speed F1 sequential Performance: 0-100kmph in 3.3 seconds, 335kmph top speed Designer: Frank Stephenson of Pininfarina

 

 

3.

Porsche Carrera GT

Engine: 612bhp 5.7ltr mid-mounted V10 Transmission: 6-speed manual Performance: 0-100kmph in 3.8 seconds, 330kmph top speed Continue reading

March 23, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Blacklight Manual BM-9876 “Counter Guerrilla Intellectual Operations”

"Guerrilla Board" by Golpeavisa/Deviant Art

Often when participating in heated online discussions we see commentators engaging in is what I like to call “guerrilla intellectualism”. This intellectualism is to true intellectualism what guerrilla warfare is to true conventional warfare — a sort of bastard little brother. However, while there is nothing dishonourable in guerrilla warfare, since it is necessitated by a lack of strength and not a lack of morality, the opposite is true with guerrilla intellectualism. While warfare is a clash of arms, the balance of which is irrelevant to morality or the idea behind it, in debate it is a direct clash of ideas. Therefore guerrilla intellectualism is a strategy grasped at by those who are lacking the intellect and/or morality to face off against an opposing idea on equal footing, just as guerrilla warfare is grasped at by forces who lack the force of arms to directly confront a more powerful enemy.

So as in guerrilla warfare, the guerrilla intellectual (not to be confused with the intellectual guerrilla) must flee when confronted with a direct assault (ie a direct question), he must avoid exposure and encirclement by superior numbers (ie a paraphrasing or outlining of his argument in order to give it clarity and reveal its failings), he must extricate himself from the battlefield when casualties mount (ie abandon the debate when proven wrong), choosing instead to return and make pinprick attacks in other engagements or launch totally new attacks in areas of his choosing, to give the impression of overall victory and frustrate the more powerful enemy who will begin to wonder why his superior arms and numbers (ie facts, stats, and historical evidence) cannot defeat the guerrilla intellectual.

Like the guerrilla soldier, the guerrilla intellectual cannot hope to defeat his more powerful enemy’s superior intellect (weapons and numbers) and morality (idea). His only hope is to demoralise the stronger enemy (ie break down his focus on his true idea) and entice him into committing his troops to small battles on the guerrilla intellectual’s territory where devoid of his true strengths his troops will be whittled away piecemeal.

Guerrilla intellectuals enter into this form of debate in several ways, but there are two most common paths. The first is born of necessity; I call this the Prabhakaran Model. Here the keyboard warrior initially believes his idea is strong enough to defeat an opposing idea in open battle; a battle that he has chosen by attacking an idea he disagrees with or by having his own idea attacked by an opponent. After several defeats at the hands of his superior opponent, he realises the weakness of his idea and is forced to resort to guerrilla intellectualism to avoid total defeat. Another path is what I call the Viet Cong Model. In this the keyboard warrior realises right from the outset that his idea stands no chance in direct combat, but he still decides to attack his opponent’s idea, choosing guerrilla intellectualism deliberately. While the Prabakharan Model user often honestly believes that his ideas are powerful, and that it’s simply his own inarticulateness that prevents him from being victorious in conventional debate, the user of the VC Model is quite aware that it is his idea that is flawed. He will only increase the intensity of his attacks if he sees that the true intellectual is prone to fall into ambushes and other traps. Continue reading

March 9, 2011 Posted by | Life, Uncategorized, War | , , | 6 Comments

Why I Boycotted the Galle Literary Festival

German university students give the Nazi salute in 1933 as they burn books by Freud, Einstein, Thomas Mann, Jack London, H.G. Wells and many others who were thought to have "un-German" ideas (www.thehistoryplace.com)

Two weeks ago, Reporters sans frontières (RSF), on the instigation of Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS), called for a boycott of the fifth Galle Literary Festival. They sent a petition around, and Noam Chomsky and Arundhati Roy signed up. So did a bunch of other idiots. In it, they called on international authors who had agreed to travel to Sri Lanka to abort their journeys, claiming that it was wrong for literature to be celebrated in a country that killed its journalists. Three authors did; South African Commonwealth Writers Prize winner Damon Galgut, Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, and Indian Man Booker winner Kiran Desai. The rest came.

It’s wrong to do many things in a country that kills its journalists. It’s wrong to laugh, it’s wrong to be happy, it’s wrong to have celebrations of any sort. Christmas, Avurudhu, and Valentine’s should be boycotted. But what is right is to celebrate literature. How could the RSF and JDS get this so wrong?

Supporters of the boycott variously claim that the Galle Literary Festival has failed to speak out against the Big Bad Wolf from Madamulana who likes to eat journalists for lunch. Him and his wolfpack of brothers. They say that participants at the festival haven’t done their bit to call attention to the disappearance of cartoonist and columnist Pradeep Eknaligoda, or the murder of Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickramatunge, or even the killing of that Tiger, Dharmaratnam Sivaram. Last June, Sri Lanka hosted the International Surfing Association’s Pro 2010 event at Arugam Bay on the island’s east coast, in an area once dominated by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Well, to paraphrase Colonel Kilgore, Tiger don’t surf, and he’s history now. Over a hundred and twenty international competitors from New Zealand to Germany and from the USA to South Africa participated. No one boycotted that. Next month sees the start of the Cricket World Cup, with Sri Lanka hosting several matches which will be watched by at least a billion fans worldwide. No one has boycotted that either. Perhaps the RSF and JDS think that surfers and cricket fans are too dumb to care about media rights. Continue reading

January 31, 2011 Posted by | government, Literature, Politics | , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 44,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 5 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, there were 11 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 81 posts. There were 61 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 10mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was May 7th with 310 views. The most popular post that day was Court Orders Chillies to Lift Ban on Phoenix Ogilvy.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, defencenet.blogspot.com, kottu.org, londonlanka.blogspot.com, and mini2.info.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for how to have sex, blacklight arrow, and g36e.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Court Orders Chillies to Lift Ban on Phoenix Ogilvy May 2010
18 comments

2

How to Have Sex in a Mini March 2008
33 comments

3

The Hollywood Gun March 2008
13 comments

4

How to Kill Innocent Women & Children February 2008
24 comments

5

One Shot, One Kill — Guaranteed? October 2010
19 comments

January 3, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment