Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Seminar

Been working on a report for one of my seminars. I was asked to "Discuss the development of an operating system using an open-source platform as is used in the development of Linux. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of this approach as compared with an operating system owned and developed by a single company. Compare briefly Sun Solaris and Microsoft Windows with Linux. Which model do you think will come to dominate operating system development and why?"

Thanks to Google and Wikipedia, research is a lot easier nowadays. I must also acknowledge Matthew Barr. Below is what I am presenting tomorrow, it is 13 pages long...

Introduction to Operating Systems


If you have a computer, then you have heard about operating systems. Any desktop or laptop PC that you buy normally comes pre-loaded with Windows XP. Macintosh computers come pre-loaded with OS X. Many corporate servers use the Linux or UNIX operating systems. The operating system (OS) is the first thing loaded onto the computer -- without the operating system, a computer is useless.

What Kinds Are There?1

Within the broad family of operating systems, there are generally four types, categorized based on the types of computers they control and the sort of applications they support. The broad categories are:

* Real-time operating system (RTOS) - Real-time operating systems are used to control machinery, scientific instruments and industrial systems. An RTOS typically has very little user-interface capability, and no end-user utilities, since the system will be a "sealed box" when delivered for use. A very important part of an RTOS is managing the resources of the computer so that a particular operation executes in precisely the same amount of time every time it occurs. In a complex machine, having a part move more quickly just because system resources are available may be just as catastrophic as having it not move at all because the system is busy.

* Single-user, single task - As the name implies, this operating system is designed to manage the computer so that one user can effectively do one thing at a time. The Palm OS for Palm hand-held computers is a good example of a modern single-user, single-task operating system.

* Single-user, multi-tasking - This is the type of operating system most people use on their desktop and laptop computers today. Microsoft's Windows and Apple's Mac OS platforms are both examples of operating systems that will let a single user have several programs in operation at the same time. For example, it's entirely possible for a Windows user to be writing a note in a word processor while downloading a file from the Internet while printing the text of an e-mail message.

* Multi-user - A multi-user operating system allows many different users to take advantage of the computer's resources simultaneously. The operating system must make sure that the requirements of the various users are balanced, and that each of the programs they are using has sufficient and separate resources so that a problem with one user doesn't affect the entire community of users. Unix, VMS and mainframe operating systems, such as MVS, are examples of multi-user operating systems.

Within the broader context of the philosophy of how they are made, most software that you buy or download only comes in the compiled ready-to-run version. Compiled means that the actual program code that the developer created, (the source code), has run through a special program called a compiler that translates it into a form that the computer can understand. It is extremely difficult to modify the compiled version of most applications and nearly impossible to see exactly how the developer created different parts of the program. Most commercial software developers see this as an advantage that keeps other companies from copying their code and using it in a competing product. It also gives them control over the quality and features found in a particular product. This is the closed source or proprietary software philosophy.

Open source software is at the opposite end of the spectrum. The source code is included with the compiled version and modification or customization is actually encouraged. The software developers who support the open source concept believe that by allowing anyone who's interested to modify the source code, the application will be more useful and error-free.17

It is imperative at this point to differentiate between open source software and another widely-used term which is free software, where the free is short for freedom. The term free software is often confused with programs whose executables are given away at no charge, but whose source code cannot be viewed, modified, or redistributed. Conversely, the term open source is sometime used to mean software whose source code is visible, but for which there are limitations on use, modification, or redistribution. We use the term open source for its usual meaning, that is, software which has its source code freely available for use, viewing, modification, and redistribution.

Open source describes the principles and methodologies to promote open access to the production and design process for various goods, products and resources. The term is most commonly applied to the source code of software that is made available to the general public with either relaxed or non-existent intellectual property restrictions. This allows users to create user-generated software content through either incremental individual effort, or collaboration. The open source model can allow for the concurrent use of different agendas and approaches in production, in contrast with more centralized models of development such as those typically used in commercial software companies. Open source as applied to culture defines a culture in which fixations are made generally available. Participants in such a culture are able to modify those products and redistribute them back into the community. On the other hand, open-source software is an antonym for closed source software and refers to any computer software whose source code is available under a license or arrangement such as the public domain that permits users to study, change, and improve the software, and to redistribute it in modified or unmodified form. It is often developed in a public, collaborative manner.

Open source software development is the process by which open source software or similar software whose source is publicly available) is developed.


Linux and its development

To gain a better understanding of open source and its implications, it is useful to consider its origins. In 1984, Richard Stallman founded the Free Software Foundation and launched the GNU project, with the aim of producing a free operating system that would be entirely compatible with the proprietary Unix system. Stallman also laid down some new rules for the licensing of this software, based around that he calls "copyleft". Essentially, anyone has permission to run the software, copy it, modify it and distribute modified versions ­ so long as they do not add any restrictions of their own. In fact, selling modified versions of software licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL) for profit is also permitted. Herein lays the most common misconception surrounding "free" software. According to Stallman's own Free Software Foundation website, to properly understand this philosophy you should think of "free" as in "free speech" not "free beer". In other words, the GPL is about freedom.

By 1992, Stallman had completed almost all of the necessary components of his operating system ­ including a shell, editor, compiler and assembler ­ all except the kernel. The kernel is the program at the heart of the operating system that allocates resources to the other programs that you run ­ without it, the rest of the system is useless. However, around the same time, a Finnish student named Linus Torvalds ­ then running a system called Minix on his own machine ­ began work on his own operating system. Torvalds released version 0.02 of his work which he dubbed Linux under the GNU General Public License, which provides a good legal definition of open source software. A lot of people around the world downloaded Linux and began working with it. Many of these users were programmers in their own right and made modifications to the source code that Torvalds had included. Over the next three years, Torvalds received these modified versions from the other programmers and incorporated many of the changes into the baseline version and released Linux version 1.0 in 1994.6

A common concern for end-users who wish to use open source software is the lack of a warranty and technical support. Because the software's license encourages modification and customization, it is nearly impossible to support. This is why Red Hat Software, founded in 1994, created the "Official Red Hat Linux" and is able to sell this normally "free" software. The main value that Red Hat adds to the package is a warranty and technical support. For most businesses, the assurance of technical support has been a key factor in the decision to buy Linux instead of simply downloading it for free. In addition to Red Hat, there are several other companies that have packaged Linux, usually with additional software, for resale.

The fact that Torvalds' and Stallman's source code was freely available to other interested programmers ­ allowing them to improve upon it ­ is central to the open source philosophy. This idea is perhaps most succinctly expressed in the proposition: "Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow", coined by Eric Steven Raymond in his paper The Cathedral and the Bazaar7. This idea is also one of the most compelling arguments in favour of open source software. With an army of willing volunteers, from a wide range of technical backgrounds, bugs in open source applications are dealt with quickly and efficiently. Fixes are made available immediately, most commonly by means of the Internet, and at no cost to the end user. The fact that those developing open source software are doing so out of a personal interest, or need for a particular application themselves, means that they are extremely motivated to produce the best, most stable and secure software possible.


History and development of Sun Solaris

By contrast, commercial, proprietary software is produced by a selected group of developers with a much more narrow range of expertise. Their primary motivation is their salary. An example of where this approach may have resulted in less secure software might be the recurring problem of buffer overflow in Microsoft Windows products ­ such as those recently exposed in Windows' processing of JPEG images. Some proponents of the open source model of software development might argue that such a "blind spot" ­ which may be considered a security risk if the overflow condition can be exploited to execute malicious code ­ might never have arisen if Microsoft products were not developed in such a resolutely "closed source" environment.

Solaris for example, is a computer operating system developed by Sun Microsystems, which has been closed source for decades now. It is certified against the Single Unix Specification as a version of Unix. The next version of Solaris is scheduled to be open source.18

In the early 1990s Sun replaced the BSD-derived SunOS 4 with a version of UNIX System V Release 4 (SVR4), jointly developed with AT&T. The underlying release name was SunOS 5.0, but a new marketing name was introduced at the same time: Solaris 2. While SunOS 4.1.x micro releases were retroactively named Solaris 1 by Sun, the name Solaris is almost exclusively used to refer to SVR4-derived SunOS 5.0 and later.

Solaris is considered to be the SunOS operating system plus a graphical user environment, ONC+, and other components. The SunOS minor version is included in the Solaris release name; for example, Solaris 2.4 incorporated SunOS 5.4. After Solaris 2.6, Sun dropped the "2." from the name, so Solaris 7 incorporates SunOS 5.7, and the latest release SunOS 5.10 forms the core of Solaris 10.


Summary of the strengths of Open Source

The fact that Torvalds' source code was freely available to other interested programmers, allowing them to improve upon it, is central to the open source philosophy. This idea is also one of the most compelling arguments in favour of open source software. With an army of willing volunteers, from a wide range of technical backgrounds, bugs in open source applications are dealt with quickly and efficiently. Fixes are made available immediately, most commonly by means of the Internet, and at no cost to the end user. The fact that those developing open source software are doing so out of a personal interest, or need for a particular application themselves, means that they are extremely motivated to produce the best, most stable and secure software possible.3

By contrast, commercial, proprietary software is produced by a selected group of developers with a much more narrow range of expertise. Their primary motivation is their salary. An example of where this approach may have resulted in less secure software might be the recurring problem of buffer overflow in Microsoft Windows products, such as those recently exposed in Windows' processing of JPEG images. Some proponents of the open source model of software development argue that such a "blind spot", which may be considered a security risk if the overflow condition can be exploited to execute malicious code, might never have arisen if Microsoft products were not developed in such a resolutely "closed source" environment.4


Summary of the weaknesses of Open Source

Most closed source operating system users claim that open source products have an overall higher total cost of ownership (TCO) than closed source programs because of the 'ease of use of closed source software', resulting in less work and lower staff wages.2

As at mid-2006, closed source operating systems Microsoft Windows and Mac OSX between them accounted for an estimated 92.2% of the desktop operating system market. The advantage of this over open source is that naturally it would be a lot easier for a user to find support within his immediate environment.


Figure: Microsoft's dominance of the desktop operating system market.2

Because of legal issues, it is easier to get multimedia codecs for proprietary software. Most multimedia codecs available on the open source platform are reverse engineered.

Because of the dominance of Microsoft Windows in the desktop market, majority of hardware vendors tend to ignore open source Operating Systems such as Linux when they are creating drivers for their products. As a result, some hardware may not work out of the box with Linux and locating, configuring and then installing drivers for such hardware would consume valuable time and resources.9

Open Source vs Closed Source

In The Cathedral and the Bazaar, Raymond extols the virtues of open source development over more "traditional" methods. He proposes that "treating your users as co-developers is your least-hassle route to rapid code improvement and effective debugging". "Effective debugging" would include the detection and correction of security flaws as well as logical errors and other bugs, so does that make open source software more secure? Microsoft disagrees. By keeping its source code under lock and key, Microsoft claims that it is not exposed to hackers and is therefore more secure16. However, it may be argued that Microsoft's own jealously-guarded dominance over the home and business software market, coupled with its increasingly arrogant-looking insistence on closed source practices, make it an all-the-more attractive target for hackers, script kiddies and virus writers.4

Security considerations aside, another persuasive argument for open source software is the cost. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is an increasingly important factor to be considered when making any major software or hardware purchase. Simply put, the TCO should express not only the initial cost of purchasing the system, but also the ongoing costs incurred by continuing to maintain and support the system, the "lifecycle of costs". For any IT system, this will conceivably include training costs (for both end users and support staff), maintenance contracts with suppliers and future upgrade costs. The upfront licensing costs of proprietary software would appear to make open source software, which is essentially "free", unless there is a charge for distribution the clear winner in terms of cost of ownership. However, in practice, the advantage may not be so clear cut. Taking the broad example of making a choice between Linux and Windows operating systems in an enterprise environment, Microsoft would argue that choosing Windows, with its out-of-the-box functionality and familiar, consistent-looking GUI interface, results in a lower TOC in terms of IT staffing costs. This sentiment is echoed by many high profile business people, including Barclays Bank's Chief Technology Officer, Kevin Lloyd, who cites "terms of service" as the main reason behind his recent decision to choose a Microsoft desktop over Linux alternatives10. It must also be considered that, whilst there are free distributions of Linux available, most corporations will prefer to purchase theirs from one of the big players in the open source market, such as Red Hat, IBM and Novell, who provide product warranties and service agreements for a fee9.

Just as vocal, however, are those who believe that open source software offers a considerable saving over licensed proprietary software. Indeed, the UK government's October 2004 report also concluded that "adoption of Open Source software can generate significant savings in hardware and software costs"5. It was also suggested that a typical hardware refresh period for open source systems was 6-8 years (for a Linux system), compared with a 3-4 year period for Windows-based systems. If this is the case, the effects on the total cost of ownership for Linux systems are likely to be significant.

In reality though, there are several factors that may make it difficult to compare Open Source and Closed Source.

* There are so many Open Source variants, each with different functionalities.

* Price and support differ based on editions, distributors, and OEM products.

* Major OEM vendors of new computers may also choose to bundle additional useful software in addition to the operating system installed.

* There are often multiple programs to choose from that accomplish the same task within each operating system, each with a different range of functionalities.

* There are conflicting claims about each operating system based on the marketing and research done on the topic.


Installation

Linux distributions used to be criticized as being very involved and difficult for the average user to install. Today, some distributions have simplified the installation and offer a "LiveDistro"; this allows users to boot Linux directly from a CD or DVD17.

It is possible to do a Linux installation without any user interaction at all (except pressing the power button and usually one or two keys to start a network boot) by means such as the FAI (Fully Automatic Installation). However, this requires an install server, which is quite time expensive to create. This method of installation is only profitable when there are many similar computers to be installed, such as in a university or large enterprise.

The Windows install process for example, uses a wizard to guide users through the install process. Drivers are often installed separately.

Ease of use

It has been widely believed that usability is proportional to market share, although there are no credible statistics to back up this belief. The usability of Apple's Mac OS, Microsoft's Windows, and Linux, are comparable, though their market shares are disparate.

In light of this emphasis on convention, the strongest argument against Linux usually comes from the perspective of most non-technical Windows users. They tend to complain that it is not Windows. Any change, beneficial or not from a technical viewpoint, harms apparent usability. A recipe for success would therefore be to mimic Windows. Some distributions, such as Linspire and Kubuntu, have done that17.

Total cost of ownership

Closed source advocates suggest that their systems (mostly Microsoft Windows based systems) are better off in the long term because of their ease of use, resulting in less work and lower staff wages11.

However, those claims are disputed by open source advocates. They say that though higher staffing costs may result from the expense of employing Linux administrators, this ignores the fact that Linux system administration tends to be more efficient and each administrator is able to handle more servers. They also point out that an advert by Microsoft that claimed "Linux was [...] 10 times more expensive than Windows Server 2003", was "misleading", as the hardware chosen for the Linux server was needlessly expensive. Linux, in fact, has a much lower requirement for modern hardware than Windows. Most modern versions of Linux will still run on a Pentium 1 with 128 MB ram. Some distributions, such as Slackware or Damn Small Linux, will run on an i486 with 16 MB. RAM.

Stability

For an operating system to be subjectively 'stable', numerous components must operate synchronously. Not all of these components are under the control of OS vendor, so while Open Source and Closed kernels may be stable, poorly written applications and drivers can hamstring both. However, there have been a larger number of cases of such instability in closed source systems. Much of stability is inherent in the extent to which the operating system is structured to thwart the consequences of bad behaviour by third party installations.

Much of the reputation Windows has for instability can be traced to Windows 95, 98, and ME, which were notorious for displaying the blue screen of death (BSOD) upon crashing. Three weaknesses with these particular Windows versions increased the likelihood such a crash would occur17.

Security

In terms of security, it is important to remember that the ideal victim software for a malware piece is one that is as widely used as possible (to maximize spread), as slowly developed/patched as possible (to maximize damage time, and minimize malware development effort), and as monolithic as possible (to maximize potential damage extent inside the system, and minimize complexity of the malware program). Windows is a remarkable example of these three characteristics.

On the other hand, individual Open Source programs are very dynamic, so potential malware should evolve fast to keep up. Moreover, a Linux system for example, is very compartmentalized, both by separating user privileges among them and with the root user, and because very different software pieces coexist, without a central "backbone" to act as spread vector inside the OS.

Viruses have been written for Windows, many thousand have been propagated. Users are advised to install and run anti-virus programs, on the other hand, while viruses have been written for Linux, none have yet propagated successfully.

Closed source proponents claim that their platform is more secure because its code is hidden, thus providing security by obscurity. Only company programmers can fix bugs. The inherent weakness in this is that it may take such programmers a long time to fix such bugs. Open source proponents on the other hand claim that their platform is more secure because all of its code is reviewed by so many people that bugs become useless very quickly.

Figure: Web server share illustrating open source dominance12

The advantage that open source systems enjoy in terms of security means that Open Source systems run by far the larger share of the internet backbone.

Conclusion

In the final analysis, it may be argued that the merits of open source versus proprietary software are largely academic: what really matters is whether anyone uses them. Whilst market share is not an indication of quality, nor any vindication of dubious marketing techniques, it does serve to put the issue into perspective. It is clear that closed source in the form of Microsoft dominates the home PC and business workstation market with their operating systems and productivity software. However, there are a number of key areas in which open source alternatives have a significant or greater market share than that of any proprietary software. For example, the web browser market is entirely dominated by Microsoft, with its Internet Explorer accounting for between 80-85% of the most popular browsers over the last couple of years (quite clearly as a result of the company's bundling of IE with Windows and forcing the once dominant Netscape all but out of existence). However, the Mozilla Foundation spun off from the remains of Netscape has released the Firefox browser. Due perhaps to the combination of its small, fast, efficient design, fervent support from the open source community and a long list of security vulnerabilities in the comparatively bloated Internet Explorer, Firefox has already made significant gains and has overtaken another closed source browser, Mac Safari, to become the number two browser.

It is difficult to say what the future holds for open source software. On the one hand, the financial might and marketing scruples of the proprietary software giants, such as Microsoft, would seem to suggest that open source alternatives will remain just that ­ an alternative to the dominant proprietary offerings. On the other hand, the increased interest in, and awareness of, open source can only bode well for its future proliferation.



References

1. How Operating Systems Work

2. Study Shows That Windows Owns the Desktop Market---Windows IT Pro, May 16, 2001, Paul Thurrott

3. Stephen Weber. The Success Of Open Source, p47, Harvard University Press, 2004

4. Open invitation taken up at last, The Guardian, 1 December 2004

5. Open Source Software Trials in Government

6. Linus Torvalds on Wikipedia


7. Eric S. Raymond. The Cathedral & the Bazaar, O'Reilly, 2001

8. Microsoft Security Bulletin MS04-028 Buffer Overrun in JPEG Processing (GDI+) Could Allow Code Execution (833987)


9. IDC Puts Windows Ahead of Linux in TCO Study, December, 2002

10. Desktop Linux ­ no cost savings, says Barclays CTO


11. Study finds Linux has higher total cost of ownership than Windows, Computer Weekly, 7 April 2004

12. Netcraft December 2004 Web Server Survey


13. Microsoft vs the US Justice Department, BBC News

14. Further security alerts from Microsoft, silicon.com, May 2003

15. Firefox Web Browser Advocates to Buy Full-Page Ad in the New York Times


16. Microsoft's Get The Facts

17. Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia (Open Source vs Closed Source)

18. Indiana University Information Base: What is Sun Solaris?



Thursday, February 22, 2007

Good morning

School's in full gear now, so sitting down to seriously compose anything looks like becoming more of a weekend pastime...

Dell's Idea Storm

So Dell decided to let people submit and vote for ideas to be implemented at Dell. The result was Dell Idea Storm.

Now maybe Dell regrets it, just a wee bit. You see, the popular requests page right now is dominated by Linux-oriented requests. The most popular idea is for machines with Linux (Ubuntu/OpenSUSE/Fedora) pre-installed. Followed closely by an idea to distribute PCs with OpenOffice preinstalled. There are popular ideas that suggest PCs without Windows installed, PCs with open-source Linux drivers etc.

For Dell, it would be a publicity setback if they do not act on at least a few of these ideas - them being the most popular ideas. It will be interesting to see how it develops. I hope Dell does not just seem to be attentive to customers, and actually gives them what they demand.

I voted with my mouse for systems with any of the top three distros pre-installed.

In the meantime, Eric S Raymond (known in the open source community as ERS) has quit Fedora for Ubuntu. I don't like the man, but he is damned good at what he does. Micro$oft even tried to recruit him once. This can only cement Ubuntu's position as the number one distro.


Naija Politics

It is getting even more interesting. Like anyone with some sense would have guessed, Tuesday's Appeal Court ruling wasn't going to be the end of it, and according to today's Guardian, The FG has asked The Supreme Court to declare Atiku's seat vacant. Since Guardian's links expire after 24 hours, I will copy the story here (after all my own talk), with some emphases.

I gather that the Abia State government set up a judicial inquiry that has indicted Obj, Yar'Adua, Goodluck and some others for corrupt practices. Jeez! While serious people (you have to hand that to Atiku at least) are going about their fight as it should be dealt with, Kalu is giving us comedy. Has he declared his assets meanwhile?


Juve watch

Slow week this week, Milan are trying to offer Dida and Gilardino to us in exchange for Gigi.



Govt asks Supreme Court to declare Atiku's seat vacant (from today's Guardian)

The Federal Government yesterday urged the Supreme Court to declare the seat of Vice-President Atiku Abubakar vacant on account of his defection to the Action Congress (AC) from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The request was contained in a notice of appeal filed at the apex court, challenging the barely 24 hours old judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, wherein it held that Atiku must remain vice-president till May 29 without prejudice to his defection.

The government contends that a situation of anarchy and threat to national security would arise if for instance in the case of death, the leader of AC, a rival political party, were to head the government of PDP.

In the said notice of appeal filed by Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), the government identified errors in the decision of the appellate court. Specifically, the government perceived what it described as 19 errors in the said judgment, the basis for which it has asked the apex court to set it aside and consequently hold that the Vice President has "constructively resigned" from office.

According to the government, the judgment has created an absurd situation whereby a Vice President who has deserted the President and the sponsoring party (the PDP) to Action Congress (AC) would nevertheless continue to act as the Vice President from AC.

The notice of appeal, which was filed at the Registry of the Court of Appeal, reads:

"The judgment makes nonsense of the provisions of Section 142(1) and the obvious intention of the makers of the constitution when it decided that a Vice President shall be a co-pilot and not a counterpoise.

"The judgment ignores and makes nonsense of the plaintiff's position contained in the book tendered before the court written by the plaintiff's lead counsel, Prof. Ben Nwabueze (SAN).

"The court failed to consider the requirements of the law that in interpreting the constitution, the court must avoid creating absurdity."

The government contended that the inclusion of the requirement that a candidate as running mate must be from the same party was deliberate and was to ensure harmony.

It added that the requirement of harmony in S.142 (1) was expected to continue as long as the Vice President wished to remain in office.

The government's notice of appeal further reads: "A requirement for qualifying for nomination for an office cannot be lower than the requirement for remaining in that office. A vice- president who was qualified at the time of his election must maintain that qualification in order to retain his office. By joining another party, the vice-president has lost his right to remain as Vice President."

A requirement that a presidential candidate must select his associate from the sole political party was first inserted into the Constitution in 1999.

In the appeal, the government traced the origin of the 1999 Constitution to the report of the drafting committee. Quoting from the report, the government said to appreciate the strength of the companionship the court was under a duty to consider the historical antecedent as contained in the 1976 Constitution Drafting Committee Report which states as follows: "The relationship of the President of the Republic to that of his Vice-President should be one of pilot and co-pilot, rather than the latter being a counterpoise to the former."

According to the government, the Court of Appeal completely ignored the lawmakers' objective.

It further argued that Section 142(1) created a relationship of trust and confidence between the President and the Vice President.

The notice reads: "By requiring the Vice President to be an associate of the President, the drafters of the Constitution intended that the Vice President would act in the interest of the President at all times and would act for him when the President proceeds on vacation or he is unable to discharge the functions of the office or he is dead.

"By imposing a condition that the Vice-President must be an associate of the President and must be from the same political party as the President, the makers of the Constitution intended that the programme and policy of the sponsoring political party are duly implemented without interruption by an antagonist or a member of a rival party opposed to the President's party."

The government also picked holes in the allusion made by the Court of Appeal to the issue of freedom of expression, which was raised by the court suo motu.

It accused the court of confusing the personal rights of an individual to associate freely with the constitutionally circumscribed right of sitting Vice President to maintain allegiance to the ticket that brought him to power.

It noted that the issue of freedom of association was not raised or addressed by any of the parties.

"An elected Vice President has a choice either or not to remain as Vice-President or to pursue his ambition after dissolving the union between him and the President," the government added.

It further said that the right to freedom of association could not be exercised in a way as to defeat a clear provision of the Constitution.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

So beautiful, so disturbing

This is too good not to share. I'm on the way to class.

I wake. For a moment, I stare at the ceiling trying to remember something. Something important. Something important happened last night, but the details escape me. Something fascinating yet sinister, like touring the CIA offices. Something exotic yet somehow familiar, like putting hot sauce on meatloaf. I wonder if I have a hangover. I wonder why I am thinking about the CIA and meatloaf. I roll onto my side.


There is a strange woman in bed with me.

A lot of things happen at once. First, I realize that this is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, and I am a lucky, lucky man. Second, I realize that this is not my wife, and I panic. Third, I realize that she's awake, has been watching me sleep. Fourth, before I can really react to thoughts 1 and 2, she smiles at me and speaks with a lovely accent I can't quite place: "So. You like new wife, yes? Yes. Up now, I make breakfast."

She gets out of bed and stretches, perfect curves sliding under silky lingerie and momentarily making me forget about breakfast, meatloaf, and whoever it was I was married to before last night. She seems to know this, and smiles at me again, but apparently she's serious about making breakfast. She turns and strides confidently from the room. As she does, I see for the first time the large Microsoft logo splayed across her back. My stomach lurches as I suddenly remember everything.

Windows Vista. I bought a new computer yesterday... and it came with Windows Vista.

I feel sick, but there's nothing for it but to get up. I step into the hallway and realize that she has remodeled the entire house. I really like the bathroom, it's very modern and artistic. As I shower I discover that the acoustics are absolutely perfect. I dry off with a giant fluffy towel and think to myself that this can't be all bad.

I return to the bedroom to dress. She has set out clothes for me. I am startled to discover that they're fresh from the dryer, warm and soft and smelling faintly of fabric softener. The jeans and shirt are a new style for me, but they feel fantastic as I pull them on, comfortable and loose in all the right places. As I look myself up and down in the full-length mirror, I realize that I look really good dressed like this. You hardly even notice the logo.

It takes me five full minutes to realize that my wallet and glasses are missing. They're not on the nightstand or the dresser. Well, maybe she put them someplace when she exchanged my clothes. I head downstairs to ask her.

The question dies on my lips as I reach the foyer. First off, my house now has a foyer. Sunlight streams in through thousands of cut facets. There is so much glass I almost wonder if there are walls. White tile stretches across the floor, forming a beautiful backdrop for stunning furniture and art. My house now has art in it. And there, by the front door, stands my beautiful new bride, smiling fondly at me as she silently throttles the paperboy.

The world goes dark and my vision becomes a tunnel. I see the paperboy, pinned to the wall. Her impossibly strong hands around his throat, squeezing. His feet are kicking--she has lifted him off the floor by his neck. He looks desperately at me, eyes wide in terror, mouth opening and closing but unable to make a sound. My lovely wife smiles again and says, "This paperboy needs your permission to continue."

Numbly, I nod my head. Instantly she releases the paperboy. He coughs once, then stands up and smiles as if nothing has happened. He hands me the paper and leaves. Still dumbfounded, I watch silently as she pads softly to the kitchen and begins cooking.

After several minutes I realize that I am just standing there, watching her. I am still shaking, but she is so beautiful... so beautiful it makes my chest ache. I continue staring until the shaking goes away. Eventually I drag myself from my reverie, but it is not easy. I decide to try conversation.

"Oh, when I was dressing, I noticed that my wallet and glasses are gone. Did you move them? Where are they?"

"Glasses?" she asks in reply. "...wallet?"

"Yeah, so I can do stuff."

"I can do stuff," she says. "With me, you can do more."

"Uh, yeah... but I really need my glasses."

She smiles at me thoughtfully. I smile back, but slowly I realize that she's not going to answer me. After several seconds of standing there looking beautiful, she turns back to the stove and resumes cooking.

"Okay," I announce. "I'll find them myself." Immediately she jumps in front of me.

"You would like help finding something? I have many new ways to search."

Ooookay. Kind of creepy, but... "Yeah. Where are my glasses?"

"Glasses?"

"Yes. Oh, okay. Look, what I want is to see the screen resolution."

She turns and goes straight to a cupboard. "Resolution is in cupboard seven. Appearance and Personalization, Adjust screen resolution. Also in cupboard nine, Ease of Access Center, Adjust screen resolution for reading."

"Oh, I see. It used to be I just right-clicked anywhere on the desktop and chose Properties. Cupboard seven, I guess. I just want to see what the current resolution is."

She listens dutifully but stares at me blankly.

"Well? Let's have a look. What is the resolution?"

She looks into cupboard seven. "You are using Gateway Widescreen LCD monitor and Norwood Micro LCD. I have set best resolutions for them. Would you like breakfast?"

"No, I want to know what the resolution is."

"It is the best for these monitors. They are side by side now. I can duplicate the same image on both of them if you want--"

"No! Just tell me what the resolution is! It's a brand-new monitor and I want to know what the native LCD resolution is! I don't want to change anything, I just want to know what you're doing with it!"

She continues to smile beautifully at me, but does nothing. It's as if she doesn't realize how frustrated I am. Or perhaps she cannot conceive the possibility of not satisfying me, of not being beautiful enough. I realize this is getting nowhere. I march past her and peer into the cupboard.

It is full of beautifully polished tools and devices, laid out in an aesthetically pleasing pattern. The pattern is strange to me but I can see that once I learn it it will be easier to find and use the tools I use most. It's annoying now, but I can already start to see how I could get used to this. At last I see my glasses on a back shelf, tucked out of the way. I reach in and pull them out.

Suddenly the world goes dark again. She has turned me around, her beautiful gaze locked with mine. I cannot breathe, and realize with horror that her perfect hands are closed about my throat. The world, so full of sound, goes eerily silent. I claw at her hands but they are unyielding. She smiles, as beautifully as always, and says, "Display Properties needs your permission to continue." Somehow I manage to nod or squeak out an affirmation, and she lets go. Color and sound return to the world as I fall to me knees, gasping for breath.

I stay down for several minutes, not daring to look up at her. She resumes cooking. I don't look up until I hear her setting the table. At last I climb to my feet and ask the only question I can think of.

"What's for breakfast?"

She smiles that perfect smile at me again and replies, "Meatloaf."

I look at the meatloaf. I look at her. I rub my neck and think of the CIA. I look at her again. She really is gorgeous.

"Oh, what the hell," I say as I sit down and grab the hot sauce. "I can get used to this."


Sourced from Chalain via Dare Obasanjo.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Kalu's assets

Today is day one of the Orji Kalu asset list release countdown. Please let's keep our eyes open for it. If it comes out as a paid advert in a Naija newspaper, can we be informed? Thank you very much...


Juve watch

Poor Crotone, to be the team to visit us when we are angry. Result: they went home with a 0-5 bashing. Last week when we surrendered a 0-2 lead and drew (not lost), the Italian media were happily announcing the 'end of Juve as we know it' to the world. Going through today's Gazzetta, I notice that the Juve 'news' they seem interested in is that Cobolli said that Capello isn't Superman. Can these cunts get any more biased?

How not to be a millionaire

This just arrived in my email:

NEW YORK - Idaho resident Kathy Evans brought humiliation to her friends and family Tuesday when she set a new standard for stupidity with her appearance on the popular TV show, "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire."

It seems that Evans, a 32-year-old wife and mother of two, got stuck on the first question, and proceeded to make what fans of the show are dubbing "the absolute worst use of lifelines ever."
After being introduced to the show's host Meredith Vieira, Evans assured her that she was ready to play, whereupon she was posed with an extremely easy $100 question. The question was:
"Which of the following is the largest?"
A) A Peanut
B) An Elephant
C) The Moon
D) Hey, who you calling large?

Immediately Mrs. Evans was struck with an all consuming panic as she realized that this was a question to which she did not readily know the answer.
"Hmm, oh boy, that's a toughie," said Evans, as Vieira did her level best to hide her disbelief and disgust. "I mean, I'm sure I've heard of some of these things before, but I have no idea how large they would be."

Evans made the decision to use the first of her three lifelines, the 50/50. Answers A and D were removed, leaving her to decide which was bigger, an elephant or the moon. However, faced with an incredibly easy question, Evans still remained unsure.
"Oh! It removed the two I was leaning towards!" exclaimed Evans. "Darn I think I better phone a friend."

Using the second of her two lifelines on the first question, Mrs. Evans asked to be connected with her friend Betsy, who is an office assistant.
"Hi Betsy! How are you? This is Kathy! I'm on TV!" said Evans, wasting the first seven seconds of her call. "Ok, I got an important question. Which of the following is the largest? B, an elephant, or C, the moon. 15 seconds hun."
Betsy quickly replied that the answer was C, the moon. Evans proceeded to argue with her friend for the remaining ten seconds.
"Come on Betsy, are you sure?" said Evans. "How sure are you? Puh, that can't be it."
To everyone's astonishment, the moronic Evans declined to take her friend's advice and pick 'The Moon.'
"I just don't know if I can trust Betsy. She's not all that bright. So I think I'd like to ask the audience," said Evans.

Asked to vote on the correct answer, the audience returned 98% in favor of answer C, 'The Moon.' Having used up all her lifelines, Evans then made the dumbest choice of her life.
"Wow, seems like everybody is against what I'm thinking," said the too-stupid-to-live Evans. "But you know, sometimes you just got to go with your gut. So, let's see. For which is larger, an elephant or the moon, I'm going to have to go with B, an elephant. Final answer."

Evans sat before the dumbfounded audience, the only one waiting with bated breath, and was told that she was wrong, and that the answer was in fact, C, 'The Moon.'

Friday, February 16, 2007

That Kalu Interview

It would be too easy to seize on Orji Uzo Kalu's rather poor command of the English language as most people seem to have done (I sent the link to the video to my mailing list, and that was the overwhelming reaction). However, we have to remember that first, English is not Mr. Kalu's first language, second, he has excellent command of Igbo which is his first language, third, he speaks fluent Hausa. Chxta for example would be hard pressed to perform as well as Kalu did in Tuesday's interview, were such an interview to be conducted in the Igbo language. Sad state of affairs really...

One other thing we have to note lest I forget is that in focusing on Kalu's numerous 'fuses', we are distracting ourselves from the 'meat' of the entire interview which is what I hope to look at in this post.

I think that Nigerian journalists on the average are crap, and this interview further confirmed that sad opinion. You see, just on Saturday past, and interview of Atiku Abubakar who happens to be another candidate in the race, was aired on BEN TV, and in Chxta's opinion, the journo may well have gotten down on his knees and given Mr. Abubakar a blow job. What rubbish! There you have a man who wants to be president submitting himself to questioning, and instead of you to ask him some hard questions (the presidency isn't supposed to be an easy job!), you spend 10 out of 25 minutes calling him 'Sir' and 'Oga'! Remember how Uncle Sege would tell any Nigerian journalist that asked him a difficult question to shut up, and the journo would be cowed. But then again, maybe it is a Nigerian thing, because I remember watching the Presidential Media chat back in the day on NTA, and the people who came on air to ask questions always seemed ultra respectful, and sycophantic. I also remember when Donald Duke started his now deleted blog, I had to practically scream before people started asking him questions. The man gave himself into our hands, and what did the Nigerian blogosphere do? We began praising him. Jaizuz!!!

The Interview: My Take

I think Allan Little did a great job on Kalu, a job which in my opinion has done more damage to the man's ambition than any cooked up lists can ever do. However, something in me wishes that the interview had been done by Steve Sackur, or better still Tim Sebastian. Nkem what happened to them?

Little went straight to the point on the EFCC. Made it clear to Kalu that the organisation has a splendid reputation abroad, and then asked if Mazi Kalu accepted that reputation. Kalu didn't answer the question directly, instead he went: 'Well I have nothing against the EFCC, the only thing I have against the EFCC...'

Stop there! A few seconds ago you said you had nothing against the EFCC, then you turn around and say that the only thing you have against them??? Hello, nothing and only are two very different things last time I checked...

Sorry to have cut him short, let us hear the rest of what he has against the EFCC: '...there must be equal rules for everybody, there mustn't be different rules for Obasanjo (and friends) on the one hand, and other people on the other hand. I see it as one of the greatest achievement of Obasanjo's government. They started very well, but they are ending badly because when you take people that didn't do anything...'

I agree with the first part of what he has said. In trying to rid the country of the corruption that it has become notorious for, there has to be equality in the pursuit of justice. You shouldn't have a case of one rule for the geese, and another for the ganders. There are a lot of people whose records leave more than a lot to be desired, but whose names somehow didn't find their way into that list. I took the liberty of placing the list as a comment in one of my blog posts. That list cries out its omissions. Certain names which we have hammered on again and again are missing from it, but to be fair to the EFCC, the list is supposed to be a list of those who are running for office in the coming elections, so for the time being maybe, just maybe, we can close our eyes to the absence of Dr. Odili, and Messrs Igbinedion and Ibori. I still wonder how Lanre Tejuosho made the list though, but then I digress...

The only quarrel I have with Kalu's response to the first three or so questions which all involved the EFCC and the list, was his constant reference to Obasanjo. Why can't Nigerians learn to attack the issues instead of the persons? But then again, I think I am sometimes guilty of that as well, so why should I complain?

Back to the interview...

Kalu in response to the direct question thrown at him about his presence on the list claimed that he isn't corrupt. He claimed that he came from a private driven economy (whatever that is) before he became governor, then asked that a competent Court of Law indict him before he agrees that he is corrupt. He went on the claim that some Nigerian newspapers said that his name wasn't in the list, and that Obasanjo personally made sure that his name was put in there after looking at the initial list.
He claimed that he employed over 17 000 people before he became governor, and that he declared his assets before becoming governor. He then said that his recent asset declaration (so we could compare) would be published in newspapers next week.

Wow! Now it has gotten serious. First question: what company in Nigeria's private sector, owned by a Nigerian, employs up to 10 000 people? There is no documented answer to that as far as I know, but one thing I can say for certain is that the largest privately held employers of Nigerians would be in one of two sectors: Banking or Telecomms, and Kalu isn't a major player in either, or is there a possibility that I am not looking at, and he owns a chain of companies? We will deal with that later.
Now as to the allegation that Obasanjo personally included his name in the EFCC list, that is an extremely serious allegation no matter how you cut it. Firstly, I haven't seen an article in any newspaper including Kalu's own paper where it was stated in black and white that Obasanjo personally doctored the list. Is it because I read only the online versions nowadays? Or is it that I didn't look hard enough? Or is it that the man was just telling a barefaced lie?
Whichever one it is, that allegation is of such a magnitude that I expect the man to be taken to court for libel sooner or later.
Then there is the claim that he declared his assets before he came to office. Now, he made it quite clear that a list is coming out next week with his assets between 1999 and now in print for all of us to ogle at. Believe me when I say I am waiting for that list. No be next week here? As for the story about asset declaration before taking office, now that is one barefaced lie. The only governor who up until now has deemed it fit to declare his assets is Mr. Umaru Yar'Adua, who is currently the PDP presidential candidate, and even he didn't declare his assets before he became governor, he declared them shortly after he became governor.
I'd rather not dwell on his claim that Slok doesn't receive contracts from the Abia State government because that one would be too difficult for me to prove right or wrong. Let the EFCC prove their allegation. What I'd like to point out however, is that we didn't start seeing the Sun Newspaper until around 2004, so how does he explain that?
Which brings me to one little fact of life that seems to have escaped Nigerian politicians: when you take public office, you hands off your business lest there be a conflict of interest. It is called ethics.

Back to the interview...

Mr. Little asked him a question that I deem extremely important, 'Why do you not seek to clear your name?'
Response: 'To me I have not done anything and running will help me clear the Nigerian system.'

Err, HOW?

The next and probably the most irritating of all his statements was the one concerning his role in Obasanjo's election. Why start boasting on air? What is the relevance of that to the question? What are you trying to prove?

He then proceeds to ask why they haven't taken him to a court of competent jurisdiction. Huh? The answer to that is quite obvious (this is where I miss Tim Sebastian): you are governor, and you are protected by constitutional immunity. How can they take you to court when the very law you are asking to try you says that you can't be tried yet?

What is the source of your wealth?

Is it just me, or did anyone else notice the pause before he answered that question? The man actually had to think up something to say, then stammered before he responded. Imagine asking Jim Ovia that same question. How can a man not know the 'source' of his wealth? Even Al Capone would have answered that question without having to stammer.
Anyway, to be fair to Mr. Kalu, he gave his source of wealth as commerce (whatever that is), sugar, rice, manufacture of vegetable oil and shipping...and he employed 17 000 people eight years ago! Now that is a pure lie if I ever saw one. Maybe it is just me, but I think Mr. Little actually smirked at that point. I know I did.

So why the Obj fallout?

This is the second part of the talk that I agreed with (the first being the differing standards in EFCC activities). Obasanjo is an intolerant fellow. I have dealt with that before, no need to dwell on it again...

Oh! Add vindictive to the list of Uncle Sege's faults.

Your mother?

He claimed not to know that his mum is under investigation? Did I see his nose grow longer? EFCC's allegations about his mother have been open news for months now, and he claims not to know that his mum is under investigation? How. Then how can he say that court officials don't have authority to arrest someone before the person appears in a court of law. I thought it was the other way round. You are arrested first, then you appear in court. This man who is shouting about due process needs to take some lessons in due process.
He then says that he has never asked his mother about all these allegations because he doesn't take the allegations seriously! Damn! Why won't you take allegations that impinge on your own integrity serious? Why? What 'family matter' could be more important than something that is dragging the family name 'Kalu' through the mud?

And why did he at that point pronounce Aba as Ah-bar? (Okay, I couldn't resist that one)

Why do you want to be president?

I have a lot of contributions to make, and this is a time we have to make a change in Nigeria. Nigeria has reached a point that a new generation has to run 'the business'. The same people who are angling to run Nigeria I have known since I was a boy.

The tragedy of our country. Gerontocracy. Old men refusing to let go. Orji, you can take consolation that Chxta agrees with you 200% on that one. I still find it difficult to understand that people who have been in government since I was a toddler (and have left Nigeria far worse in the process) somehow refuse to let go, and we don't do anything about it.

But then, that seems to be one of the reasons why this 'democracy' thing may not be the solution Nigeria needs. We are too caught up in this our 'respect' thing. It percolates down to the village level. When an old man opens his mouth, the younger men are obliged to shut up even if the old geezer is talking absolute rubbish...

Now don't get me wrong, I think respect is a very good thing, and for the last few months, I have seen first hand how things can go terribly wrong in a society that has lost all the core values that respect instils. One of the things that I have found interesting staying here is the fact that all my uncles who have made this country their 'home' have no intentions of staying here in their old age. They all have (or are in the process of) built houses back home. When asked why, they all give similar reasons: this is not a country to grow old in...

That is a post for another day, back to Orji...

Do you accept Nuhu Ribadu's description of Nigeria's state of affairs?

He said NO!

Do I have to add anything, except to point out the fact that he then tried to turn the whole thing around to another anti-Obasanjo tirade, then he hanged himself by saying, 'Obasanjo has no respect for our constitution.' But this is a man that you earlier admitted to have helped into office. Why then did you help someone who has no respect for the constitution into office, TWICE?

As for Nuhu Ribadu's statement, every twit knows that it is true. One of Nigeria's greatest problems is neolithic kleptocracy which has resulted in the shameless and unbridled plunder of our country since 1960. Anyone who denies it (as Kalu just did) is either insane, or a shameless liar, or both.

I'd also like to point out that the EFCC actually started effective work at the start of Obasanjo's second term, long before the third term thing became an issue, so accusing the EFCC of being a tool purely to promote the third term agenda is in my opinion wrong.

Earlier in the interview, Mr. Kalu said that he had nothing personal against Rtd. Gen. Obasanjo, or the EFCC, but through the course of the interview, he kept bringing up Obasanjo's name. That to me is the act of a man who has a very large axe to grind.

Now comes the interesting part of the interview, the questions about his stewardship...

Abia is notorious. Nothing works, the infrastructure has collapsed, there are piles of rubbish feet high on major roads of the 'capital' Aba.

Now I got a little pissed that the whole governor of Abia couldn't even correct the bit of misinformation that Aba is the capital of Abia. The last time I checked that honour went to Umuahia.

Then what is this trying to shift the buck? The duty of clearing the rubbish is that of the local officials? Can't you call them to order? Then you turn around to tell us that they have been playing politics with census?

Why in God's name are you trying to appeal to people's sentiments? I have dealt with this census issue before, but it didn't make it less annoying to hear him say it. Since when did Google Earth start giving population figures?

On the issue of Aba's cleanliness, if I had never been to Aba myself, I'd not be in a position to speak, but I have been to Aba on more than one occasion, and the truth is that Aba (was) an eyesore. You are turning around to claim that it is the responsibility of the local councils, but I have with my own eyes seen Orji Uzo Kalu assisted wheel barrow scheme. In Abia state almost all the government schemes have been hijacked by one Orji Uzo Kalu assisted stuff or the other. He can't deny that, and he shouldn't.

I loved the way Little floored him there when he tried to preen himself about having cleaned Aba up since September last year, 'What happened to the previous seven years?' He didn't see that trap.

What was his response to that? Blame Obasanjo. Jaizuz!!!

On his plans for the Niger Delta, I won't dwell on this because he made no points at all, and frankly I am tired of this, like I think Alan Little was, given the abrupt way he ended the interview...

In my opinion, NEPA, not the Niger Delta is Nigeria's primary headache. He never answered the question on his relationship with the oil majors, instead he turned it into another anti Obasanjo tirade.

He has absolutely no ideas. How can you be talking of building new refineries when we have refineries that need to be revamped first?

On the whole, the man is an intellectual lightweight, and it showed so glowingly in the course of the entire interview. No one has to worry about him. He will face justice after May 29.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I will do this later


Thanks to Nkem for the link. I had a tough day at school today, so I want to crawl into bed. Would make my comments tomorrow.

Is Ubuntu the new Debian?

So Ubuntu and Linspire have declared their intention to work together toward their common goal of making Linux Universal. You can read the press release here.

Now that you are done reading with that, read the story at desktop linux.

I read them yesterday, and allowed myself a day to think about it. Here are some thoughts, in no specific order, and with no specific intention:

  1. I don’t think Linspire’s primary motivation is to make Desktop Linux popular. I think it is to make a profit. So the “popularize Linux” common goal stops with Freespire, Linspire’s step-brother
  2. Ubuntu is now “upstream” for a whole bunch of distros - each with a different kind of users. “Upstreaming” bugs from Ubuntu to Debian and to the individual packages’ bugtrackers is a really painful process and has been so. The upstreaming problem might get worse with Ubuntu having to deal with bugs from downstream too, about which little can be done except to upstream them to Debain, since that’s how Ubuntu tries to minimize the delta with Debian
  3. Linspire jsut seems to come out the winner in this deal. Ubuntu benefits only by having access to a not-yet-built CNR.com
  4. Mark says in the press release that the CNR system is open - well it is not entirely open source - only the client software is open source. I suppose he meant open as in open for access and use.
  5. Even without the agreement cnr.com would have been usable by Ubuntu users, if I am not missing anything big
  6. The fundamental assumption is that restricted decoders, plugins and apps will now be available “legally” after you pay some money. I’d like to see if this actually turns out that way - that is, to see if w32codecs, libdvdcss2 etc are made available. A cursory search of the current cnr website did not yield these packages - maybe they are just called something else
  7. Ubuntu will now have to face the problems that the software people installed using CNR will create - since the tie-up is official, one can’t say, “well, we don’t support packages from external repositories in the Ubuntu bug tracker

Yes, I am a pessimist, but in thinking about the worst case we find comfort in things that work out well. I hope this was the right decision to make. I can’t forget, however, that there is no way one can stop anyone from using the repositories that Ubuntu’s developers and users garden. It’s probably too early to say it, but I’ll say it anyway — Ubuntu is the New Debian.

Source

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Children in Britain

Let me reiterate what I wrote in my first discourse on the behaviour of British children after I was slapped a few months back:

How do you expect kids to be well behaved when going to a remand home is seen as a badge of honour? British teenagers are the most sexually active in Europe and are having sex younger. The findings of a report by the Institute for Public Policy research are prompting calls for youngsters to get sex education from the age of 10. Is that a solution? No. What these kids need is a bit of cane when they are much younger, not sex education. Chikena!

Looks like the world's eyes are opening to the problem. A UNICEF report rated the UK as bottom of a list of 21 developed nations in terms of the well being of children. Nick Ferrari and Steve Allen were going absolutely bonkers over it this morning (and their callers as well).

Nick said, 'A UNICEF report says that the UK is the worst place in the developed world to be a child. That's right- it turns out our education is terrible, our rates of child poverty are horrific, we have the highest number of teenage mums, we don't talk to our kids... the list goes on and on.'

But for someone like me, there is nothing to go bonkers over. It has been coming for a long time. Let's look at the key points of the report (thanks BBC) and see if we can compare it with some of the things that we've been seeing for ourselves since we moved this way...

UK child poverty has doubled since 1979

I beg to differ with that, and strongly. I think that their definition of poverty here is very subjective to say the least. The number of children I see with ipods and all sorts of mobile phones is somewhere approaching alarming. These kids have access to everything that they want (note the word want, as opposed to need). They should go to Naija and see children who have to go out to sell pure water in the streets in order to have their families. Like I said, I think that this particular category is purely subjective. According to the same UN which released the report, poverty is living on less than $1 a day. There is no human being (and that includes beggars) in the UK that lives on less than $1 a day.

Children rating their peers as "kind and helpful" - 43%

Now this is one that I can closely identify with. I see it amongst the undergraduates in school everyday. There is a selfishness (and coldness) here that is almost all pervasive, and frankly it is sickening.

Families eating a meal together "several times" a week - 66%

Well, I haven't been with any British family for up to a week, so I honestly can't comment on that. However, I think there is a relationship between the break down of the family and the current trend.

Children who admit being drunk on two or more occasions - 31%

Well, I have experienced the fall out of that. On a more serious note, it's not like kids in Nigeria don't experiment with drinking and all that, and it's not like kids in Nigeria don't stay out late, but out here, it's been taken to a whole new level. During my exams last month, I became a nocturnal animal of sorts as I spent a lot of the daylight hours asleep and read mostly at night. On some occasions, I would take a walk in order to clear my head (sorry, I'm old and the head is full of cobwebs). One thing that shocked me was the night life. Even during the week. Take a walk (about a mile) from my house to Hendon Central tube station at 0200 hours, and just notice the number of people who are moving about. It is absolutely heathen out there, and most of them are really young! How can you explain that? Not to talk about the number of people you see throwing up? Maestro had something to say about that (I wonder why the twit has abandoned his blog) when he said:

As at the time of typing this schools have closed (they close 12:45 on Fridays)so they can get a head start at preparing for the clubs tonight, their parents will join them later, Friday nights are uber rowdy, drinking, gbenshing, and a whole lot of noise...wow, police work triple time weekends, the drinking going on till Sunday night when half of the city would have passed out, if God wants to save them by finding only 10 sober men I tell you Sodom and Gomorrah will stand a better chance at redemption.

Then there is a new blogger in town, Omo Ibadan who touched on the drink thing in his very first post when he said:

The natives of this land are largely lazy, rowdy, and most times embarrassingly drunk...

Why just a few weeks ago, James O'Brien of the LBC complained about it. He said, 'in America, you can get arrested for walking the streets drunk, but here we see it as a badge of honour.'

Need I say more on the drink issue?

At the end of the day, I believe that the decline of the British child is due to a number of factors, the greatest of which is the apparent decline of the family here. It is a sad scenario, but it is happening. This country is headed for a meltdown in another generation if something is not done urgently to arrest the situation.

Orji Kalu

I gather that he appeared on HardTalk yesterday. When I watch it, I will talk my own. I wonder how he defended himself and his mother...

Meltdown at Barca?

Lady Luck can be a cruel wench at times, but when she likes someone she's not shy about showing it. Just ask Frank Rijkaard, the understandably content-looking Dutchman who was treated to some serious reverse cowgirl action by her three years ago when he was appointed Barcelona boss despite botching his two previous managerial jobs. His Holland side had been eliminated from Euro 2000 on home turf in comically inept fashion and he then inspired Sparta Rotterdam, his country's oldest professional club, to the first relegation in their history, yet he was somehow hired by new Barca president Joan Laporta.

And as if that wasn't jammy enough, Laporta then failed to keep his pre-election promise to bring David Beckham to the Camp Nou - and instead signed the 87-times-better Ronaldinho, leaving Frank with nothing more difficult to do than lie back and cry: "giddy up". Now, however, we learn that not only has Lady Luck dismounted, but Frank is locked in a feud with Laporta and, most worryingly of all as Barca prepare to resume their defence of the Champions League, has now lost the affection of star striker Samuel Eto'o.

The Cameroonian's return from injury was supposed to spur the team to new heights ahead of their elimination of Liverpool (sorry Boso, but that is a certainty), but instead it has triggered a ruckus, with the player reacting furiously to Rijkaard's claim that he refused to come on as a substitute towards the end of Sunday's 2-0 win over Santander. "You're a bad person if you go to a press conference and claim Samuel Eto'o didn't want to play," fumed Eto'o, joining legends like Pele, Ray Barneveld and George Costanza in referring to himself in the third person.

Eto'o, a known favourite of Laporta, then hinted that Rijkaard dissed him solely to score points against the president. "In Barcelona, there are two groups: one of the president and one of the other person," he explained, seemingly unable to bring to utter Rijkaard's name. "It's a war between two people and has nothing to do with me. If anyone has the balls to say something to my face, then let them spit it out." Rijkaard has yet to respond: perhaps Eto'o should grow a perm, Rudi Voller-style?

*Stolen from the Fiver*


Juve watch

We've had some 'bad' results, and for the Italian press, cunts that they are it is more than enough to report with glee that all is not well at la vecchia Signora. Xt! What is wrong with these geezers?

We draw 1-1 with Spezia, then 2-2 with Vicenza (granted we blew a 0-2 lead), and suddenly as far as the press are concerned there is panic in the Juve dressing room. All the players suddenly hate DD, the fans are calling for his head! Idiots!

Number one, no one seems to remember the minor fact that both draws were away. More importantly no one seems to remember that we are still topping the table even though we started the bloody season with a 17 point deficit! Some people just let their hate get the better of them. Arseholes.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Obj Factor

As far as all the figures available tell us, the Nigerian economy is performing better now than it was 10 years ago. Well, as far as the common man on the street in Nigeria can see, he has never had it so bad. Whether the common man is right, or whether he is a victim of the selective memory that afflicts people when things are going badly, is a topic I would broach in another discussion.

In any event, what is certain is that at the moment, Nigeria is in the throes of a major energy crisis. And as if that isn't enough, our president and his vice are involved in a serious case of bolekaja which is showing no signs of abating. This fight is gradually getting to its crescendo with neither party willing to back down for the other. I have discussed part of the vice's (Mr. Atiku Abubakar) involvement in this matter, and I am of the opinion that he has allowed his own ambition to get in the way of the interest of the Nigerian nation. I believe that were he really interested in Nigeria, he wouldn't keep making 'empty' promises such as, 'I will free Asari Dokubo if elected.' As far as Chxta is concerned, that promise (and a lot of other steps he has taken in recent weeks) are clear signs that Mr. Abubakar is desperate, and would stop at nothing to achieve his aim. Nigeria doesn't need another desperado in the highest office in the land and if given the opportunity to vote, Chxta would definitely not vote for Mr. Abubakar.

This brings me to the other desperado: Rtd. Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, outgoing president, Federal Republic of Nigeria.

In case it hasn't occurred to you, Obasanjo has exactly 106 days left as President. That means that by this time in just over 15 weeks, we should have a new man at the helm, all things being equal. Whether it would be Mr. Umaru Yar'Adua, Rtd. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (an erstwhile dictator), Mr. Atiku Abubakar, or in an extremely unlikely case, Prof. Pat Utomi, remains to be seen. What is clear at this moment however, is that of the above mentioned possibles, Yar'Adua is Obasanjo's choice to succeed him.

All well and good, everyone has a right to have an opinion and/or preference of his own. But when you start hearing statements such as, 'I won't hand over to criminals,' being credited to Obasanjo, you begin to wonder what he is playing at, and where he is headed.

Now let us make one thing abundantly clear here: despite the EFCC list which was released a few days ago implicating one of the candidates in corrupt practices, the said candidate, Mr. Abubakar has not been found guilty of said crimes by any court of law anywhere. This means that at the moment he is no criminal.

Let us now make an assumption. A known criminal back in the 1980s was Lawrence Anini. He was shot in 1986. What if Anini was still alive, and had had the 'sheer luck of being at the right place at the right time', and was now running for the position of president? Now, we all know that said man was indeed a criminal, and he was found guilty by the courts. But then maybe through his sheer luck was then pardoned, rehabilitated, was then at the right place at the right time, and was then voted in by the people. Does this mean that Obasanjo would then refuse to hand over to him? Because he is/was a criminal?

I think that like many other statements that Obasanjo has made over the last few years, this one is way out of line, and extremely undemocratic. What utter nonsense!

I am of the strong opinion that Obasanjo has something to hide, and he is of the view that Mr. Yar'Adua would be the best bet to cover his tracks for him. As we all know, Obasanjo and Yar'Adua's late brother were buddy buddies...

He has successfully made himself the de-facto leader of PDP. He calls the shots. He hijacked PDP from Atiku's hands with the help of Tony Anenih, Emeka Offor and Andy Uba.

It is a crucial fight for Obasanjo because he needs cover for the following after leaving office:

1. His dalliances with corruption such as the Sao Tome and Principe affair, the Transcorp scandal, and the endless allegations that senators were always bribed when he wanted something done.
2. His unholy alliances - Chris Uba and the destruction of Anambra State, Adedibu in Oyo State who despite his many apparent misdemeanours is still breathing the air of freedom, the case of Ibori who is rumoured to be bankrolling Yar'Adua's presidential campaign, and so many others that are too numerous to tabulate.
3. His shortchanging of his own kingmakers - IBB, Atiku and the other henchmen of the defunct PDM machinery
4. The many unsolved cases of political assassination of people who were perceived to stand in the way of the FG, including Bola Ige and Marshall Harry.
5. The rumoured (and proven) properties acquired by members of his family both within and outside Nigeria...

So many, and I would have to apologise for the lack of links to many 'anti-Obasanjo' stories. Most links are cold, while the 'hot' links are mainly in the Times of Nigeria, which is blatantly pro-Atiku. I like to be neutral.

It is important to Obasanjo that he midwives this election to an 'acceptable' end result or else it would not be an easy dance towards retirement and the statesmanship that he so craves. In that case, he isn't different from Atiku in the sense that he has placed his own interests above that of the Nigerian nation.

However, in another ironical twist, I believe that Nigeria will once again profit from yet another Obasanjo versus Atiku bolekaja.

A lot of people think that Yar'Adua as Obasanjo's choice would automatically be a crony. On the contrary I think he will not. The man for all his lack of flamboyance has a strong personality, and none of the articles I have read about him, including the advert in today's Vanguard, has put it as well as Oria has put it in his latest post:

'As for those who say Yar'Adua is a weakling and will only do the bidding of Baba, all I have to say is this:

Give a rat eba, and he will ask for a bowl of soup, bushmeat, stockfish, and cold beer to wash it down.'

For the avoidance of doubt, in a 'democracy' the final choice of who sits in office is resident on the people. If come April 17-19 the Nigerian people for a second time (the only other occasion being June 12, 1993) do find their voices and vote someone in regardless of ethnic affiliation, religious inclination, and any of the many other base sentiments that we tend to resort to, and that person happens to be Mr. Atiku Abubakar, then that is a choice that would have to be respected.