Daily Archives: March 9, 2009

Blog security — and my favourite blogging tool

Regulars will remember the vicissitudes I had last year, so I was immediately interested when I saw Lorelle has a post on Firewalling and Hack Proofing Your WordPress Blog. Even if much of it applies to rather than, it is still worth a look.

I do most of my blogging on Windows Live Writer, which covers all my blogs in one convenient place. It also can be used off line, and entries can be uploaded to be scheduled to appear at some later time. I can also vary fonts in it very easily, play with colour, and do almost amazing things with pictures. It is, in short, quite wonderful.

There is a kind of down side: it saves all your posts to your own hard disk in a folder called “My blog posts”. Now that can be handy, but they do rather accumulate. You need to flush them out from time to time – some of them at least. The more there are the slower Live Writer gets, not to mention that after a while there is a rather large part of your computer occupied – especially if your computer is a bit old as mine is.

Not all the available Live Writer plug-ins work with WordPress, but enough do. However, whenever I want to post a YouTube or upload a PDF to a post or do a poll I have to go through my WordPress interface instead – but that is not all that inconvenient. Perhaps someone out there has resolved those issues?

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Posted by on March 9, 2009 in blogging, computers, web stuff, www


Compass last night: Bridge Over the Wadi

logohand Given so much we see and read out of Israel/Palestine, it was good that Compass screened the documentary Bridge Over the Wadi last night. One reviewer writes:

… Although Hand in Hand is bi-lateral, this film isn’t. It’s Israeli. This will immediately scream ‘bias’ to some audiences. But hold on a minute – and I say that sincerely as I am the most sceptical of audiences on such matters. As an Israeli film, I still feel it bends over backwards to illustrate both sides. Often quite emotionally. And the sincerity of all concerned can be painfully moving to behold.

Views expressed are mostly of the children. Children educated in each other’s languages. Each other’s religious beliefs. Respecting their own culture, but partaking fully – yes, fully – in the opposite culture.

"I’m a total atheist," says one parent. "But I’m Jewish." She is not making some subtle academic point about the separation of Jewish culture and religion. As a parent who’s sent her child to Bridge over the Wadi school, she is already a ‘tolerant’ member of her community, and is consequently looked at askance by many of her neighbours. Yet her tolerance soon begins to waver. She exclaims that Arab parents must think she is "a sucker" for letting her Jewish kids say "Allah is great". We then hear from her the familiar, archetypal, emotional (if disingenuous) homilies about Exodus and about the Holocaust. She removes her child from school.

An Arab boy goes to lunch at his Jewish classmate’s home. The boys just want to relax. Grandma, however well meaningly, interrogates him over his ‘views’ on terrorists. He squirms. This is a five-year-old child being made to feel guilty. But it is normal and reasonable from the grandma’s perspective, with her look of fear and concern…

Bridge Over The Wadi packs a tremendous emotional punch. It doesn’t offer complete answers. It does show a significant attempt to move forward in reciprocal understanding rather than mutual narrow-mindedness. My main criticism is that it still seems a little smug. It fails to give any noticeable credit to the Initiatives on which the documentary is based. It simplifies facts. For instance, considering the vast lengths Hand In Hand go to for accuracy, it seems disrespectful that filmmakers round out the numbers of pupils – applications ‘doubled’ in the second year – they actually increased very significantly. Or, suffering the little children perhaps, should they have omitted to mention that Christianity is also taught alongside Islam and Judaism?

But Bridge Over The Wadi is an impressive piece. One I recommend. It succeeds in presenting issues in a captivating way, without assuming detailed prior knowledge of Israeli-Palestinian relations.

One of the extraordinary things about five-year-olds anywhere is their sense of discovery about the world. Their unaffected and unconscious grasp of what is before their eyes. When they put their cross-border friendships before age-old enmity, the reasoning out of their mouths puts the complex negotiations of adults to shame.

That really says it all, and I agree wholeheartedly.

See also my Vodpod on the right down the page.

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Posted by on March 9, 2009 in best viewing 2009, current affairs, education, humanity, inspiration, interfaith, Israel, Middle East, multiculturalism, peace, pluralism, religion, TV


Pungent quotes from my Blog Rollers

I decided to post a few gems this morning as I posted entries into my Google Reader.

1. Indigo Jo

Indigo Jo is a Muslim in England. He is writing about a demo in Trafalgar Square.

Most of the speakers were members of the WCPI "Central Committee", including Maryam Namazie, Fariborz Pooya, Bahram Soroush and Shiva Mahbobi. The latter was actually introduced as a member of said committee, but actually all four were; it begs the question of why the views of a small Iranian Marxist sect should be important in the debate over religion and state in the UK. I also wonder if any state they managed to establish in Iran would be much less repressive than the present régime, given that police states tend to recycle their old enemies’ secret police forces (this happened in both Iran and Russia); I had coined the slogan "Shari’ah, yes, Stasi, no" in case we managed to mount a counter-demo. AC Grayling, a popular philosopher, and Terry Sanderson of the National Secular Society, spoke as well. I wonder if they knew who their friends were.

2. Creative Spark

Creative Spark is an Australian expat in Singapore. He is writing about actor Sean Penn and writer Dustin Lance Black being censored on Singapore TV so the word “gay” did not sully any Singaporean ear.

…Am I living in a country full of bigots with no respect for human rights, who are so delicately composed in their moral values that an award speech that mentions the word “gay” freaks them out?

It certainly hasn’t been my impression of Singapore people, but maybe I just hang out in the wrong circles…

And the whole idea that controlling a country’s traditional mass media is still effective could only come from a government bureaucracy clinging to very old ways of doing things.

It’s just so far out of kilter with the realities of media, the citizens of the country and the attitudes of the world that it’s got to crack at many minute. The MDA must be feeling like an old dam with severe structural weakness now. Ten years ago you might have got away with it, but now it’s just making them seem irrelevant and kind of silly…

3. Heroes, not Zombies

This blog is by Bob Leckridge, a Scottish physician. The particular entry is part of a series on personal growth.

Different ways of understanding

There are different ways to understand. The physical way can be seen in science which, as Deleuze says, is a way of thinking about function, a way of trying to understand how things work. The relationship way is seen in storytelling and in philosophy, and that leads to the third way, the spiritual, which is a way of understanding the connectedness to that which is greater than the self. There is no one right way. We really all are unique. Our views, our memories, our consciousness are all unique and individual. But we are also connected. We share environments, we collaborate, we compete, we form and break relationships. We share. What we all do is try to make sense of our lives, of the world and of our daily reality. We need to understand, to see patterns, to grasp that reality. When we don’t do that, we feel scared, confused, alone. We are meaning seeking, meaning creating animals. Nihilistic thought, randomness, chance and powerlessness can be overwhelming, can become unbearable, closing doors, squeezing out hope and leaving us lonely and in pain. Why me? What have I done to deserve this? What’s happening? What’s going to happen? We’re full of questions, and always seeking answers. We do that by using our ability to understand.

But we mustn’t forget that our understanding is always unique and personal, and the we need to negotiate, in our spaces of meaning, to create our communal visions, our shared purposes. With understanding comes humility, a humility which should prompt us to ask others What sense do you make of this? What does it mean to you?

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Posted by on March 9, 2009 in blogging, other blogs