Lawrence Ren

The following extraordinary letter appeared in The Economist this week:

“SIR – You seem to support various accusations made by exiled Tibetans (“Torch song trilogy”, April 12th). You could also explore opinions that are more in line with the majority of the Chinese people. Tibet has been a protectorate of China (and later under formal Chinese jurisdiction) since the Qing Dynasty 300 years ago. It will always remain a formal part of China. The Chinese people should migrate to Tibet in massive numbers. Then maybe 20 years from now we can hold a formal free referendum in Tibet to decide its fate and satisfy the international standard for democracy.

Lawrence Ren

Guangzhou, China


Let us deconstruct his letter:

“You seem to support various accusations made by exiled Tibetans (“Torch song trilogy”, April 12th).”

OK, an accusation, fair enough.

“You could also explore opinions that are more in line with the majority of the Chinese people.”

The majority opinion of The Chinese are irrelevant for two reasons:

Firstly, nobody likes their neighbours dictating what they do. The opinions of myself or Mr. Ren have no bearing on how the people of Tibetan run their affairs.

Secondly, as a true patriot Mr. Ren must be a “communist” and should therefore know that supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses. Since the Chinese communist party have no mandate they are an illegitimate government and maintain their hold on power in China and Tibet by force. To assit in maintaining their grip on power the Chinese Communist party controls the flow of information to all it’s citizens. The Chinese people therefore have no way of knowing the true state of affairs.

This is clearly evidenced by the fact that Mr. Ren’s letter offers no original opinion and merely parrots the propaganda force fed to all Chinese citizens.

“Tibet has been a protectorate of China (and later under formal Chinese jurisdiction) since the Qing Dynasty 300 years ago.”

Possibly, I’m no expert but I don’t see China doing much “protecting” of Tibet. Is Mr. Ren suggesting that if land was once held by one power it should always be? Would he support the return of Hong Kong to The British Empire.

“It will always remain a formal part of China.”

This is purely an opinion. A similar opinion might be: “The Chinese people will always be ruled by a corrupt and repressive elite” or “Mr. Ren will never be able to think for himself”. Let’s hope that none of these opinions are true.

“The Chinese people should migrate to Tibet in massive numbers. Then maybe 20 years from now we can hold a formal free referendum in Tibet to decide its fate and satisfy the international standard for democracy”

It is this last statement that is so telling as it shows either a complete ignorance of freedom and democracy or a ruthless and selfish wish to impose the ways of one community upon another.

I believe that Mr. Ren’s letter shows him to be ……….


Stupid MR. Ren

Is The UK a “country of immigration”?

World population density map

Population density per square kilometre – Source: Wikipedia

It’s fashionable for British politicians to side with the argument that immigration to The UK should be on some kind of points system according to the potential immigrant’s skills. Along with this usually goes the argument that Britain is a “country of immigration”. I heard this argument just today on The Week in Westminster on BBC Radio 4.

A country of immigration. What does that mean? Well, let’s consider what other countries are COIs. There’s The United States of course and Australia. I’m not aware of any other country that deems itself a country of immigration.

I don’t expect the native Americans or Australian aboriginals consider their land a country of immigration but as modern countries both The USA and Australia were both initially Anglos Saxon so that is one thing that they have in common with the UK. All three countries are democracies and all have English as the predominant language.

However, I’d argue that what makes Australia and The USA countries of immigration is their low population density. In short they have loads of space. The USA has 25 to 49 people per square kilometre and Australia only 0 to 9 people per square kilometre. By contrast, the UK has 150 to 299. Figures according to Wikipedia.

The house prices in the UK are astronomical, the traffic is heading toward gridlock, getting a seat on a train is a miracle. The UK is full yet Keith Vaz, MP thinks that The UK is a Country of Immigration so none of this matters. He is of course…….


All countries accept some degree of immigration and immigration has made a huge and positive contribution to The UK but The UK has no special designation as a Country of Immigration. The term is put about by the pro-immigration lobby to somehow establish immigration as an ongoing part of British culture.

Let me make it clear that I have no preference which races or religions do not come to The UK. We should accept asylum seekers and EU citizens of course but the idea of opening up The UK to immigration by ability is merely part of New Labour’s project to turn a sovereign country into the first corporate state. It may increases GDP and make Gordon Brown’s spreadsheet look good but individually, black, white, Christian, Moslem or atheist, we all lose out to overcrowding.

My little poll seems to be slighlty weighted one way but almost even.

If you voted in the poll please also leave a comment and explain why you hold your opinion.

Infosec 2008

I attended the Information Security exhibition “Infosec” at Olympia yesterday. Infosec

This was very popular this year and was packed out. The vendors presented the usual mix of boxes with button, diagrams, gorgeous young women and pushy bald salesmen.

In my purely subjective opinion vulnerability scanning seems to have grown in popularity and there were some good products in this line. End point security was being pushed though perhaps not as hard as last year.

I attended one pretty good seminar where some guy had worked out the value lost for each record of data which had been stolen by hackers. He claimed this worked out at £ 43 per record.

Infosec, Olympia, London, April 2008He also claimed that industry takes a big hit from fraud committed by System Administrators and to my mind this is now emerging as a very weak link in the security chain.

All computer and application systems that I am aware of (and I’m aware of a lot) have the concept of an Administrator. The name may vary (eg root, supervisor or admin) but function is the same. They allow the user to do ANYTHING on the system.

Traditionally this has been necessary to allow the technicians to install and manage the system but in this era of ubiquitous networked computing this emerges as a gaping hole in security.

Manufacturers are starting to address this though not as quickly or thoroughly as the should. Oracle have a product called Digital Vault which bolts on to their Database Management System (DBMS) to segregate the role of the manager of a database from the security administration. Other Intruder Detection/Prevention Systems provide monitoring of administration activity from outside.

However, these are all separate products and Operating Systems, DBMSs and applications all require an overhaul of their administrative role architecture. The role of the administrator needs splitting out into multiple roles to deliver segregation of duties. Interestingly Novell made moves in this direction with the auditor role starting  in Netware 4 as I recall.

Cross site scripting raised it’s ugly head again and I don’t think users are well enough informed of just how dangerous this can be. Opening a link sent by a hacker can inadvertently provide that hacker with administrative access to your PC and anything else your PC has access to. All without a user knowing.

Do not open links in Emails from unknown sources. – This can’t be stressed enough!

Qualys Vulnerability Scanning / Policy COmpliance 

A company named Qualys had an interesting scanner which allowed vulnerabilities and policies to be mapped into a framework such as COBIT. This is an excellent idea as it allows IT governance practitioners a way of interfacing with the technical aspects of systems.

The image of IT workers is of introverted nerds. Some are of course but this was the old days. IT has become big business and by turning over so much money the IT industry now attracts salesmen. Hoards of them, lounging around in suits balling into their blackberries.

I had intended to spend two or three days at Infosec but after one day I’d had enough.  By the time I left the sun had come out and London looked pretty good.


NASA are obtaining incredible images of the area of space between The Earth and The Sun using two solar orbiting satelites named STEREO. One satellite orbits the sun behind Earth’s orbit and one in front. As with the eyes of an animal two views gives stereo, 3 dimensional information. STEREO is therefore able to get amazing images of solar flares erupting.

As well as observing the sun the satellites are able to observe the space nearer the sun and one particularly impressive sequence shows when a comet enters the field of view and has it’s tail ripped off by a solar flare.

Check out the movie at:

Stereo solar observeration of comet with it\'s tail ripped off


If you are really into this stuff then you might like to know that STEREO is now receiving images of the space near the sun that have not been possible before. These images may contain near sun objects such as asteroids. Traditionally astronomers were able to spot non-stellar objects by taking two pictures at a given time interval and then looking for differences against the star background.

A web site has been created that allows you to select two images and quickly flick between them and search for objects. I think there is also a competition by the British TV program The Sky at Night to spot something or other.

If you are the first to find a object then maybe they will name it after you as that is the convention.

The Link below is for the tool to allow you to compare two images.

Nuclear Tests

While the “International Community” puts pressure on North Korea and Iran to stop working on nuclear technology it is interesting to see what members of the IC have done to parts of the planet themselves. U.S. nuke craters in Nevada









This is the nuclear testing ground in Nevada and according to Wikipedia these are  subsidence craters. During the 1950s, mushroom clouds could be seen from the city of Las Vegas and Americans headed for Vegas to witness the distant mushroom clouds that could be seen from the downtown hotels. It must have been amazing! Sitting on a hotel balcony on a hot Nevada night with a cold beer in your hand and watching the bombs go off! And no adverts!

Operation Hardtack II

I guess it is no surprise that these craters lay around 20kn southwest of the infamous Area 51.

Google Earth

Unusually cold year in the antarctic

The media recently reported that due to an unusually cold year the coverage of ice in the antarctic is quite good. For once the “unusal” weather was not blamed on global warming. It seems to me that scientists are becoming a little selective with their causality. If we blame an unusally warm year on climate change then we must also blame an unusually cold year.


There are not two conflicting forces in  action here, there is just the climate changing in response to any number of drivers. One of these drivers is human driven green house gas emmissions. 

On the whole I go along with the theory of global warming but, as with anything, when people forsake their reason and start to believe in something as an article of faith I become skeptical.




Russian Imperialism

Russian Empire Coat Of Arms

Russian Empire Coat Of Arms

The Russian government has decided that The British Council is some kind of spy organisations so they’ve closed down it’s offices in Russia.  Maybe they are right. I don’t know.

The excitable Russian on the radio (EROTR) said that the British were treating Russia like a colony and behaving in an imperialist manner. – Yawn, yawn, yawn.

This business of the West behaving in an imperialist manner can be understood with regard to Africa and the Middle East. But Russia?! 

The former Soviet Union? The totalitarian regime that overran half of Europe and then maintained it as a greater Russian Empire?

The regime that arrested people for saying that the U.S.A. had nice big roads. The regime that injected political prisoners with sulfazine – yes I read Solzhenitsyn’s Warning To The West.

And prior to The U.S.S.R, Russia was not a little victim state it was The Russian Empire that took part in The Great Game of rivalry with The British Empire in Central Asia.

Thanks to the Russians for reminding us that TALKING BOLLOCKS is an international pass time.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, not keen on sulfazine

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, not keen on sulfazine