Percentage Votes

There were several claims about the maximum "percentage votes" obtained at the General Election. But I don't think that those calculations make sense.

Here is an example to show why: Let's say I make a one person party, find some names just to fill the nominations, and our unpopular party gets only 10 votes! Being the supreme leader of the party, all those voters have given me a preferential vote. ;-)

So here I am, getting 10 preferential votes out of 10 votes cast to my party. My percentage is 100%, even if there are tens of thousands of others who didn't vote for me! It only shows I am good at preferential vote fight in the party.

So obviously this is not a good way to calculate the "percentage preferential vote".

A better statistic is the number of preferential votes as a percentage of total valid votes. Otherwise, someone with a very low vote count can still claim a high "percentage vote" relative to the party votes.

Here are some percentage votes calculated with respect to total valid votes:

  • Basil Rajapaksa: 45.8%
  • Namal Rajakapsa: 53.0%
  • Ranil Wickramasinghe: 24.8%
  • Sajith Premadasa: 26.8%
  • Sarath Fonseka: 10.5%
  • Wimal Weerawansa: 29.9%



So where is this Change thing?

Results released so far indicates that the so called [un]believable change is not happening after all.

On the other hand, analysis at Sri Lankan Elections web site shows that there is is some change when compared to the 2005 Presidential election.

Another notable change is about almost all major candidates usually winning their "home" polling divisions.

Hopefully the last few months were only a simple pause of the progress our nation was making during the last four years.



SF Was Only Following Government Orders, Says Ranil

According to Mr Ranil Wickramasinghe, General Sarath Fonseka as the "service commander" was only "executing orders given by the government", and under a timeframe set by the government.

He made this comments during a recent interview with the Global Tamil Vision (GTV) TV channel.

This interview was covered in yesterday's Island Editorial. The Defence ministry web site also has an article.

Here is the Youtube link if you can't see the video below.



Using GIT to Manage Config Files

One thing I like about GIT, among others, is that it creates a repository locally. This makes simple things easy, still not disallowing complex things.

A good use of GIT is to manage the configuration files in a GNU/Linux system. This article describes the way I do it.

In this example, I will use the Squid proxy/cache server configuration as an example, but the principles apply to any configuration.

Ok, so here are the steps.

Zeroth step is to install GIT. ;-) On Debian/Ubuntu systems, install the "git-core" package.

First create a git repository in /etc/. On Ubuntu systems, you may have to use "sudo", or become root with "sudo -s" before running the following commands.

# cd /etc
# git init

This will create a GIT repository in /etc/.git/. This step needs to be done only once. Any recent version of GIT should accept the "init" command, otherwise run "git init-db".

Now add and commit a file, so GIT will create the "master" branch. We add the "hostname" file in this example.

# git add hostname
# git commit -m "Initial commit." hostname

If you don't use the "-m" option, GIT will start an editor to enter a comment.

I prefer to use three branches.

  • master: This is the branch that holds the working configuration of the running system.
  • stock: This branch contains the "default" configuration files as installed.
  • play: This branch is used for experimenting.
Now that the "master" branch is already created, let's create the other two.
# git branch stock
# git branch play

You can always use "git branch" command to see available branches with active branch highlighted.

In this example, we install Squid, and manage its configuration file /etc/squid/squid.conf using GIT.

Let us switch to the "stock" branch, install Squid, add the config file, commit it, and switch back to the "master" branch. Switching to a branch is called "checking out".

# git checkout stock
# apt-get install squid
# git add squid/squid.conf
# git commit -m "Adding stock config file." squid/squid.conf
# git checkout master

It is always a good idea to switch back quickly to the "master" branch, as we need to keep the "stock" branch clean without any of our changes going there accidentally.

Now you will notice that the "squid/squid.conf" file has gone missing, because we added it in the "stock" branch, not in "master".

To get the config file to the "master" branch, we need to merge it with the "stock" branch.

# git merge stock

I do all my experimenting, however small, in the "play" branch. Before starting an experiment, I switch to the "play" branch and merge it with "master", so both "master" and "play" will be identical at the beginning.

# git checkout play
# git merge master

Now the experimenting begins. I would change the config file, start/restart Squid, and 1001 other things.

During experimenting, it is very useful to view the changes I have done by using the "git diff" command.

Even if the experiments are not successful, I would still commit any partial work to continue later. There is nothing to worry as we are in the "play" branch. Use the "git branch" command to verify this.

# git commit -m "Partially finished experiment." squid/squid.conf

To get the system back to its previous state, we can always switch to the "master" branch.

# git checkout master

Make sure to commit the changes in the "play" branch before checking out the "master" branch. Otherwise, those changes will be lost.

Once the experimenting is successful in the "play" branch, we can merge them to the master branch.

# git checkout master
# git merge play

When backing up the system, make sure you include /etc/.git/ to save the history of your configurations.

Use "git log" to view the history of commits.

Happy gitting!



A Rare Video of SWRD

In this recent blog post, Sam reminds how S W R D Bandaranaike changed national language in 1956, something most people in the present generation [wrongly] call a "Sinhala-only" policy.

English was the Language in Sri Lanka until Bandaranayaka changed it in to Sinhala “with reasonable use of Tamil” (the part everyone forget to mention when they talk about this), and later on, Tamil also considered as national language.

This rare video on youtube is an interview with SWRD, where he states the "reasonable use of Tamil" part. He also admires Tamil as a "rich language with literature and so on".



How "Free" Media Create Hatred

Here are two reports on the resettlement of displaced people in Sri Lanka: one by the BBC, and another by the Associated Press.

The BBC report talks about "most of the 250,000 Tamils displaced", while AP talks about "the fate of the ethnic Tamil civilians".


In my eyes, they are Sri Lankan citizens, be it "Tamil" or not, our brothers and sisters who desperately need help after going through so much. I am sure that I am not alone.

But some media reports continue to highlight ethnic prefixes. Does someone, or more than one someone, want to stop our country from unifying under a single Sri Lankan identity?

Even if they have an excuse to add an ethnic prefix, how do they say for sure that all the 250,000 displaced people are in fact Tamil? It may be true, but can those reports be so authoritative without even a sample survey?

Here is another news item from Reuters, which talks about just "refugees". No prefixes.

Interestingly, BBC conveniently forgot the "Tamil" prefix when headlining the assassination of Lakshman Kadiragamar and Jeyaraj Fernandopulle but not when pro-LTTE persons got killed (e.g.: here, here and here).

The war is over, but we now have more reasons to be vigilant. Not just about LTTE sleeping sells, but also about those who subtly create and extend ethnic hatred to stop us from uniting as Sri Lankans.

I don't expect every media organization to positively contribute to peace and harmony in Sri Lanka; being neutral is just fine. But if they positively and systematically contribute to create hatred among us, that's where we need to take a stand. By "taking a stand", I don't mean that we should ban them here, but educating ourselves and peace-loving fellow citizens of perils much more dangerous than armed terrorist organizations will go a long way.



We Salute You!

Our country has finally become a truly unified sovereign. Last time it happened was in the 1500s (no, not in 1948).

I salute all our armed forces, those who have sacrificed their lives for the betterment of others in our nation, for making this happen!

Our country is lucky to be blessed with a President like Mahinda Rajapaksa, at the right time, if not later, complimented by great military leadership. A leadership that didn't become pawns of some other intrusive nations who call themselves the "International Community".

We also should be thankful to the nations who were with us during these hard times. Such times are invaluable to figure out who our true friends are.

In this defining moment of history, I think it is important for all of these to happen.

  • Victory celebrations. Peaceful celebrations is a good way to bring our nation together. It is important not to spend a lot of money, next two items in the list needs them. Serving milk rice, hoisting national flags, rallies are all good, as long as they don't grow violent. I noticed Police presence in most of these events, which is good, so things won't go out of control.
  • Helping disabled/fallen heroes, and their families.
  • Contributing to help displaced people.
  • Get rid of ethnic identities, and treat everyones as "Sri Lankans". Just getting rid of the adjectives marking ethnicity is all we need to do. We don't need "Sinhala Villages", "Tamil areas" etc. We have only Sri Lankan stuff. We may use "Sinhala-speaking" or "Tamil-speaking" when necessary, but there is no need to label people in ethnic terms anymore.

I am hopeful and optimistic that this will be the beginning of prosperity to our country!



How to become a Superhero

There is Superman. There is Catwoman. There is Spiderman. And a few others.

There was a time I could count the number of superheros with my fingers. Not anymore. They are now everywhere!

And you can become one, if you like; simple.

Join an NGO to become an "aid worker". Become a journalist. Become a doctor or anyone that can be called an "official", or just call yourself one.

That's all it takes to become a superhero these days. And you will be much more powerful than the handful or traditional superheros!

Whatever you say will be fully trusted by "international" media. Even if they hear your (claimed) voice over the phone, or an email. No cross checking. No verifications. How very convenient?

Your judgment powers will become objective all of a sudden. Your previous relationships, your religions and political beliefs and aspirations, your former affiliations, will never affect your decisions. All that will be past. If others can't make head or tail of something, they will ask you. You will always be treated as "independent".

You will never take sides. Even if you did so in the past, you will make sure to leave such allegiances in the past. You will not merely transform into a superhero; you will be re-born!

If harm comes your way, judgment will have be fast-tracked and accelerated. Justice for other human beings can wait. After all, you are super-human, right?

You will get full immunity. Since you are very objective in thinking, you will never do something wrong. So no one can arrest you. Even if they did, you will have a stream of fans who will do everything in their power, and possibly more, to set you free. Laws made by ordinary humans for themselves cannot apply to you, even when you are not acting in the capacity of a superhero.

And you will be allowed to go to any dangerous place, and any other place, too, for that matter. But unlike for Superman, you will not have to look after your own safety. Others will have to make sure that you are safe, even if that makes their job much more difficult and dangerous. It's their problem; not yours.

And last, but not least, Superman will feel very jealous of you, because he doesn't get paid! ;-)



iPhone 3G for 800+ USD?

In this WWDC 2008 keynote, Steve Jobs said that the iPhone 3G will sell at 199/299 USD in almost all countries around the world.

Today I saw an email passing around which said that Dialog is selling the iPhone 3G for Rs 89,000, more than 800 USD! Few months ago, BT Options, the local Apple agent, was selling iPhones at Rs 120,000!!!



Congratulations Shilpa Sayura

Sri Lanka's Shilpa Sayura project has won the Stockholm Challenge 2008.

The Jury had studies 400 projects from around the globe and selected 145 finalists in six categories. Shilpa Sayura won the first place in the Education category.

Congratulations Niranjan and the team for this great achievement!

I once had the opportunity to see a Shilpa Sayura event at Kandiyapitawewa village. Pictures from that event are here.


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