Thu, 25 Mar 2004

Life of a Palestinian boy

Continuing the thread in my post on Palestine and aj's and DanielS's followups, we've had a short talk on the subject on IRC. It's worth stating it here though, to more or less continue the thread.

I'm not trying to justify or support the Palestinian suicide bombings, but we need to understand what Palestinians are going through to see why they go ahead and blow themselves up, killing dozens near them. For decades, the Palestinians have been opressed and their land occupied by the Israeli army.

Someone must be quite desperate and have no horizons at all in their future to decide that they want to stick an explosive belt around their body. I don't know the exact figures, but there was a study done on the young population of Cisjordania and Gaza, and in both territories, but specially Gaza, the children were found to be depressed, with difficulties to sleep during nights, and easily frightened whenever they hear a loud noise (airplanes, hellicopters) outside their houses. Palestinian kids, instead of having an infance, grow up in dry, dusty refugee camps. Their favourite games are running around the tanks, and throwing stones at them, to annoy soldiers, who everyone and then shoot back. These kids have been born and raised outside their real homes, in overpopulated guettos, have seen how soldiers randomly raid their camp, beat or kill their older brothers, fathers, or uncles, have seen how their best friend was killed by a "lost" bullet, they have seen a bulldozer destroy their home without prior notice, because their neighbour went out with a bomb the night before. These kids see and live these things with even less than 10 years. They have no future other than one day becoming martyrs themselves, making their families and neighbours proud.

If this isn't enough, Israel is now building a horrific wall to aisle Israel from Palestine completely, even if that means that Palestinians can't cross to Israel to go to their working places. Unemployment is over 60% in some cities of Cisjordania and most of the population depends on international aid. If this isn't enough, Israel sends fighters which fire missiles at their "enemies", and if 10 innocent citizens are killed as well, too bad. When a bomb goes off in a Israeli city, it's a unacceptable terrorist attack, when it's an American missile fired by a Israeli soldier, US leaders say "Israel has a right to defend itself".

As long as Israel and the US keep denying Palestine their most basic rights, they will be fuelling the hate of these people, which will have less and less reasons to not stick a bomb to their chests. Just go away from Palestine, stop stealing the small bits of worthy land they have while building your fucked wall, stop the random killings, and help finance the rebuilding of Gaza and Cisjordania. Give Palestinian kids a chance to go to school, learn to be normal children and in a few years your problem will be gone. Keep your current policy and you'll get weekly bloodbaths in both sides of the wall.

Tue, 23 Mar 2004

That's not the way to go...

I very much agree with what Daniel said about the latest Israeli terrorist attack (yes, it's as terrorist as any suicide bombing a Palestinian might do in Israel). Killing Hamas' leaders won't get you anywhere. This morning, I read in an online newspaper that one of the Israeli military heads warns that this is only the beginning, the leader of Hezbola and Yasir Arafat himself are next in the list. Listen guys: if you kill Arafat be sure there will be no peaceful ending for your local conflict. What Ariel Sharon is doing is state terrorism, and compares quite well to what one country did to the Jews only 60 years ago. It's incredible how fast humans forget.

Moving to other subjects, Debian is having serious problems with the current implementation of our SVN server. It is currently blocking much of the development in two big internal fronts: Debian Installer and the colective effort to package GNOME 2.6. I hope something can be done about this soon. I hear joeyh sent quite a harsh mail to debian-devel about the situation, and I wouldn't be surprised if d-i moved to another server soon.

As many people know, just after the terrorist attacks in Madrid nearly two weeks ago, there were elections to the Parliament and Senate in Spain. The right-wing party paid their very obvious manipulation of the news about the bombings, and on Saturday, people went out on the streets to protest against the "informative blackout". The outcome of the election was quite surprising: not only the right wind didn't retain their comfortable absolute majority of 2000, they ended up losing the election entirely. While it makes me and many others happy, it must be noted that the socialist party has received many votes that don't really belong to them. Many people that vote other left-wing parties voted for them this time, just to get rid of Aznar and his gang. In other words, millions probably didn't vote for Zapatero and the Socialist Party, but against Aznar and their war, which is quite different. Madrid's IMC has a very nice editorial (in Spanish) about this.

Finally, Fallas are over. If you want to visit Valencia during the most annoying week of the year, with closed streets, kids throwing fireworks at your feet, very loud music just below your window all night non-stop and a sudden rise of the most right-wingish nationalist sentiments, listen to your travel agent and come to Valencia during Fallas. You won't be deceived, we have loads of annoying stuff to annoy millions of visitors.

Motivation to work on stuff is slowly rising again, but very low still. I committed some pending bits of the Catalan translations for GNOME 2.6 (due tomorrow) a day late, and some stuff won't be available until 2.6.1 is out. I suck, but this is what you get when you're a bit burnt.

Tue, 16 Mar 2004

Debian's non-free vote

This last week, I've tried to get into Debian stuff a bit, after a few weeks of mostly nothing except for small d-i translation updates. One of the big things in the Debian planet is the ongoing vote on removing the non-free section.

I, as a supporter of the original GR of three or four years ago by John Goerzen, voted for the removal, mostly for philosophic reasons. I really think the place for most of those packages should be outside Debian mirrors, and would really like to see it continued in or whatever.

There has been some discussion about the issue on PlanetDebian, started by Joey Hess, who explains that he voted in favour of the proposal for both a practical reason and another one more political. The first is that Debian Installer won't even ask new users if they want to use it (in Woody, it was still asked, defaulting to no), and users will be able to add it just editing their sources list. If they do this, they can just add a unofficial apt line which picks the non-free pieces. I agree with this. The second reason is that Debian, which is many times seen as the "most pure" free software collection, lately is having more and more issues with other big Free Software organizations like the FSF, which I feel is quite bad, because our goals are just the same. Of course, one of the roughest "issues" is our view on their free documentation license, but that's another story.

Following up to joeyh's post, I found Scott's post about this, where he explains that he voted against because some of the packages in non-free are there not for their non-DFSG compliant license, but because they are patent-encumbered material which cannot go in main. Well, I feel we should have this stuff in a separate section not called non-free, because it doesn't reflect what the problem is with those packages. For example, the GIMP stuff that creates LWZ-compressed .gif files could go in this category, while the rest of really non-free packages go away to It'd be the user's responsability to read about the legal issues with the packages in this section before deciding if it's legal for them to use it, just like they need to do with non-free licenses before they start using a non-free package.

On a related note: does anyone know if voting "1-2" and "132" in this GR gives the same points to the "keep non-free option"?

Some of the Debian GNOME maintainers are starting to package the imminent GNOME 2.6 in experimental, as it's probably too late to drop it in Sarge. Who knows, if we manage to get it in shape and tested quickly and other Sarge bits get delayed, we might try to drop it in unstable, but I don't count on having 2.6 in Sarge at this point. It also depends quite a bit on Marillat agreeing to upload 2.6 versions of his packages to experimental, which I'm not too sure about. Maybe our KDE folks are a bit more lucky and manage to stick their KDE 3.2.1 packages in Sarge in time. We'll see.

I finally got my new ATI Radeon 9200, and installed a few minutes ago. I had no problems to get X, DRI & friends to like it, but I think the display is slightly blurry. Maybe it's the monitor, but I don't think this happened with the Voodoo3.

I discovered that Wesnoth is quite a nice game, and quite addictive too... you've been warned.

Thu, 11 Mar 2004

Madrid bombings

So everybody knows by now that three trains were bombed early this morning in the Spanish capital Madrid. The bombs went off at rush hour, when the trains were packed with workers, students and kids that were on their way to work, school or uni.

The footage on TV is quite horrible, but most of the info coming from the TV station sounds like unconfirmed rumours. As time passes, more and more officials talk about ETA being behind this mass murder, even if it's not their "style" (when they place bombs on public places, they use to call some newspaper to notify where the bomb is and at what time it's programmed to go off). On Sunday, there's a presidential election in Spain, so who knows if this is their way of doing their campaigning. Others talk about some Al Qaeda-like organization doing this, but as I said, nothing is clear right now, besides the number of dead (173 at this time) which will keep rising as hours pass.

Terrible :(

One week later...

After my little crisis of last week (this blog entry I wrote last Wednesday, but in the last moment I decided not to publish it, just to see how it evolutioned), I spent the last 7 or 8 days basically ignoring most of my mail, and it was a relief. Ok, in the last day I've had to do a lot of cleanup, but it felt quite good.

I unsubscribed from many of the Debian lists I still followed, as well as some minor non-Debian ones. I still need to talk to many people to see how I distribute my work load with others, but I guess I'll find plenty of volunteers to help me with some stuff.

The Softcatalà people are organizing some conferences in Barcelona in April. I'll be doing a brief introduction to the GNOME translation effort, while Guillem will be talking about the Debian Catalan team. Other Softcatalà members will be talking about Fedora, OpenOffice and Mozilla, and the KDE translators will be around too. Sounds very interesting. Also, in July, the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya will be hosting a Free Software congress, with plenty of Debian presence.

The duathlon season keeps going. Last week we had a very nice race, and I luckily discovered that my ankle pain was caused by my new training shoes. Since I went back to use the old ones, the problem is gone, so I hope I'll be able to run normally again.

Wed, 03 Mar 2004

Too much stress

I'm too stressed again.

I think this new crisis started on Monday, after a long duathlon weekend (which was fun). My inbox was overflowing, I had lots of mailing-list mboxes with zillions of unread mail waiting for me to ^D over, and my TODO was insane still. The GNOME 2.6.0 deadline has been putting some pressure on me lately, and I currently lack the motivation to fight that front (just when I seem to be motivated to keep up with the d-i translation changes...). I have this feeling that I'm betraying the whole Catalan GNOME team, because the good folks in there are translating like hell lately, and I even find it difficult to find the time to do the corresponding commits. Many Desktop & Developer Platform modules have translations to update. In short, I think I got burnt, and need to have a rest...

I decided I had to pick between triathlon and my big involvement in Free Software stuff. Triathlon is a central part of my life right now (it's the group of friends I've been seeing more regularly in the last 18 months). Some of my tasks in the Free Software community places a lot of pressure on my shoulders, some of them are boring and unpleasant.

I'm going to ask Guillem to take care of debian-l10n-catalan for a while, and see if either Xavi or Aleix want to get a GNOME CVS account so they can do commits too. I guess the Catalan team at the Translation Project I can manage, as it's not time consuming at all (well, maybe I'm just not doing my job correctly ;) and need to have a look at my $HOME to see what other independent translations (e.g. XMMS) I am currently responsible for, and find new homes for them.

As for Debian packages, I'm going to try to get rid of whatever I wanted to get rid already, and keep whatever I was happy with maintaining until now. None of the packages take much of my time lately, as thankfully most of them have slowed down their release cycles a lot.

Another activity that is probably going away RSN is IRC. While it's useful in some cases, it's a time trap. I guess I'll log in when I *really* need to talk to someone. Sorry folks :(

In all, this should give me the necessary time to properly concentrate on my studies, which are a bit stalled lately, and in general... see my old non-triathlon friends again, etc.