Monthly Archives: July 2006

Rally Against Terrorism

I went to a rally in Blue Ash yesterday sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati.

One report estimated 1000 people were there, which sounds right. I’d say half were Jews, 25% were non-jewish supporters of Israel, and the other 25% were the counter protesters. This last group was almost universally pro Palestine, with plenty of Palestinian flags to be seen. There were about 3 young white kids wearing white-supremacist stuff standing near (but not with) the pro-Palestine group.

Slogans on the pro-Israel side ranged from “Israel must defend herself” to “Hezbollah out of Lebanon and Israel” to “stop terrorism everywhere.” I didn’t see much openly confrontational stuff, if any, although a few people seemed to be taunting the counter protestors and waving flags at them.

The counter-protestors were just there to distract and demoralize. Nearly every sign I saw was negative and offensive. There were plenty of pictures of mutilated bodies. The worst was orange posterboard held by a high school aged girl with [star of david] = [swastika] on it. How out of touch is that? I saw maybe a couple pro-peace signs on that side.

I don’t think they did themselves any favors by being there with no other agenda than to disrupt. I hoped to see some Lebanese presence to stand in solidarity against the hezbollah terrorism. There were a few, but not many. It’s unfortunate that the loud and hateful are the ones who always get the press.

The rally consisted of a opening remarks and several speakers. Congress members Jean Schmidt and Steve Chabot were there. Chabot was pretty intelligent, but Schmidt mostly just said whatever would get cheers. Several members of the Jewish community spoke, and a Hindu priest spoke briefly. There were a few first-hand stories about anti-jewish terrorism in Israel.

I was most impressed by Arna Poupko Fisher, president of the Jewish Community Relations Council, who spoke last. She was the only one to acknowledge the counter-protestors. She said “shame on you for heckling during the national anthem,” which was exactly how I felt. She went on to challenge them to give up the hatred, say enough is enough and stand with the jews against terrorism. Whatever Lebanon has against Israel, harboring Hezbollah isn’t helping.

Personally it was a new experience. I’ve been to DC during the first gulf war, so I’ve seen protests, but this was different. I got a bit of the sense of what it means to be jewish in America. There were police with machine guns and grenade launchers (probably tear gas). There were guys on roofs with camoflage and sniper rifles. Things were under control, but there was a sense that things could go very bad very quickly.

I understand terrorism has been committed by Israelis against Palestinians. I don’t think that’s a reason to justify what’s happening now. Israel is in a bad situation, surrounded by enemies. They want to live in peace, but they have neighbors who want to see them all dead. I’d love to see anyone who stands for hatred brought to justice, Jewish or Palestinian. It was good to be able to stand with Israel and support their right to have a place to live in peace without fear.

Writing Jokosher Documentation

I’ve been working on writing documentation and organizing a documentation team for Jokosher these past few weeks. Jokosher is truly a “scratch your own itch” type of project, conceived to fill a need for a simple, usable, intuitive audio editor on Linux. It is by musicians, for musicians (and other audio artists).

Open source projects are always in need of more help, and documentation is usually lacking or lags behind the software. I thought I’d say a bit from a documenter’s standpoint on why I got involved with Jokosher in a world full of projects needing docs help.

  • They made me care – I know the people behind Jokosher and I trust them. I heard about what they were doing and thought it was going somewhere. So many projects start and go nowhere. From an idea over a year ago to the first commits in February, Jokosher has come together and generated excitement. In a few days it will make its first release. It’s V0.1, but it works. It’s a project I can care about that fills a real need. There’s a community around it that shares a vision to do something different and better.
  • They made it easy – I’ve tried to contribute to an open source project before where I had to fight just to help people. Questions did’t get answered, information on getting involved wasn’t easily available, bug reports sat forever without action. I submitted a patch and didn’t hear anything for weeks. With Jokosher, there’s a good mailing list, the website has up to date info on getting involved, and the developer’s site has lots of information. For the most part, information on what needs done and how the project is moving forward is easy to discover.
  • They rewarded me – Once I started writing and submitted a patch for the User’s Guide, I got an E-mail saying thanks immediately. For an hour’s work I got a thank you. I never failed to feel appreciated. When I dropped into the IRC channel (#jokosher on freenode), people said Hi and where quick to answer questions. Jono even mentioned me in his blog and gave me credit for my work. My name is now in the credits in the Jokosher Help menu. The other project I worked on included my work, but I was never given credit anywhere.
  • They lowered the bar – The documentation for Jokosher was opened up for editing on the Wiki. The documentation itself is all in HTML, which is far easier to deal with then Docbook/XML. That’s not to say we won’t go to Docbook eventually, but to get a project off the ground, making it easy makes a difference. If I had to sit down and edit Docbook on my home system, validate it, then submit a patch I don’t know if I would have bothered. With the docs on a Wiki available on the internet, I could work anywhere at anytime.
  • They gave up control – Having documentation that can be edited by anybody is a leap of faith. Sure, with a Wiki you can roll back changes, but you still have to give up an element of control. What if someone writes reams and it’s just horrid? My first patch was committed within hours. No one stood over my shoulder and told me what to do, they just let me roll. I got helpful feedback, but I never felt like I was a puppet just doing someone else’s work.
  • They challenged me – I have a friend who studies leadership in a small to mid-size group context. He told me there are a small but significant (~15% of population) number of people with leadership ability who will show up a couple times and if you don’t challenge them they’ll go elsewhere. Some people need something to do or they won’t stick around. I think a lot of geeks are this way. Once I started submitting work, Jono sent an E-mail thanking me and asking me if I could work on revamping the documentation pages on the Wiki and fleshing out a “Getting Involved” page. It was a bit more than I had planned on, but it was the push I needed to move to a deeper level of commitment. To me, that’s what team building is about. That’s what makes community – getting people involved and committed to the project so it means something to them.

I’m dwowning!

There is a leak in the roof in the building where I work. Rain has apparently found a way from that leak through a couple floors and started to drip into the ceiling directly above my cubicle. The folks who deal with those things tell me it will be a couple days before this can be fixed, and it’s raining right now.

So here I sit, with water dripping into my cubicle from 3 or 4 different places. Piles of paper towels catch drips in a couple spots. If I sit real still I don’t get hit by the drip coming down right between my knees.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.  🙂

The theme that sucks least

Finally got around to messing with the available WordPress themes for this blog. Seems like they all suck in some way, but I’ve decided this one sucks least. As you may suspect if you’ve seen my site, I like simple stuff with an emphasis on content, preferably in blue. =) All the themes waste space in some way, or include graphics I don’t like or find confusing. I’ll go with this one for a while until I get tired of it.

I’ve still not found a way to create my own styles. The files for the blog are somewhere on the server that I can’t hack directly. I’ll work on it one of these days.


Update: I’ve switched back to the WordPress default. I hate wasting screen real-estate on crap, using unreadable fonts and still haven’t invested time in building me own theme. One day…