An Automatic Progress Prevention System

Classroom.[or “How to Make Sure a Society doesn’t Advance too Fast“]

Modern societies, especially capitalistic ones, revolve around the concept of money, and more specifically, profit. People chase profit to secure resources (buyable with money) necessary to survive, enjoy luxury etc. This has many consequences, but one of the most obvious ones is that almost all available resources – time, attention and focus – are directed towards goals which are between a few hours and a few months away. That, in turn, has many consequences of its own and one of them is that such extreme focus on the immediate future hides and therefore facilitates a severely debilitating effect on a society because its consequences become obvious decades after the damage has already been done. It works something like this…

Continue reading “An Automatic Progress Prevention System”


ACTA: an Exercise in Totalitarianism

Bansky ACTAOn the heels of SOPA and PIPA, two widely criticised US law proposals – comes an international agreement called ACTA, the “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement”. Quotes are in this case most appropriate as ACTA is an extremely far reaching general agreement with massive consequences for privacy, freedom of speech, due process, the Internet and global health – among other things. ACTA confirms once again that a massive legal and lobbying campaign is in progress and the world’s biggest corporate publishers and content producers are behind it. They are fighting tooth and nail against allowing the world to drag them into the 21st century, a century of unprecedented free flow of information with the Internet and the electronics revolution as its main engines. The similarity to the outcries of Hollywood when video recorders took off is striking, but because of today’s pervasiveness of digital technology and its general purpose nature, the conflict is becoming much more serious and bitter.

There are many reasons to throw ACTA out the window Continue reading “ACTA: an Exercise in Totalitarianism”

To EU, or not to EU

A united Europe is as a pure goal to strive for as any other I can think of. This Sunday, Croatian citizens decide if they want to join the EU. The first thing to make absolutely clear is that the referendum is not some kind of a general question of attitude (like the one expressed in the introductory statement), but acceptance or rejection of very specific and complex package of political and economic changes. Make no mistake, it is complex: if it was not, the Government and all its ministries would not have needed several years to complete the preparations. It defines the split of legislative power between Croatian and EU institutions and sets a large number of very specific constraints on the Croatian economy. Not surprisingly, after (what has generally been seen as) quite a secretive preparation process, people overwhelmingly (87%) say they don’t know enough to make an informed decision.

At the same time, the referendum is not just or not even mainly about Croatia joining the EU. The former Government signed an accord with a group of 5 labour unions which requires the Government to add a second referendum question:

Do you want to make a referendum mandatory if 200 000 [instead of 450 000] registered voters asks for it and their signatures are collected within 30 days [instead of 15]?

This is the most important democracy and governance issue taken up since the country’s independence. It is the main reason why Continue reading “To EU, or not to EU”

Resilience to Reason

The Croatian flagThe Croatian parliamentary elections are over and the party which lead the country for 17 out of 21 years of our independence has been dethroned. I believe a few words of reflection on the past 8 years are in order because they cast a very specific shadow on this election’s results.

The economy is as good a place to start as any. During the last two terms, the party in power (HDZ) made multiple budget rebalances per year common practice, putting Croatia in the company of countries like Zimbabwe and Uganda. This should come as no surprise since the person previously in charge of finance – I.Suker, the former minister of finance – went so far as to lie that he got his economics degree no less than 14 years earlier than he actually managed it. Over the years, the government poured mind-boggling amounts of money – billions of Euro – into our shipyards, none of which still function properly today. The immensity of the mistake is probably best illustrated by the fact that the shipyards would have lost much less money if they simply paid the employees to stay at home and didn’t build anything. What the government was doing was Continue reading “Resilience to Reason”

To the Future Croatian Prime Minister – Part 2

Information and Communication TechnologiesDear Sir/Madam,

as announced in part 1, in this letter I would like to draw your attention to a few country-level, ICT-related issues I have stumbled across over the years. Once more, this is just a sampling of all ICT issues: I am afraid we have amassed many during decades of all but ignoring computing technology. The elections are just around the corner so I better get started…

Allow me to start with education as I cannot overstate its importance in my eyes or my concern with how it appears to be developing. The state has the last (only?) word on which text books can be used in schools (and rightfully so). However, it refuses to let the education system into the 21st century: this is roughly what happens… Continue reading “To the Future Croatian Prime Minister – Part 2”

To the Future Croatian Prime Minister – Part 1

Dear Sir/Madam,

to begin with, it is my sincere hope that you have no problems reading this little wish-list in English as I can’t imagine how you could otherwise keep track of world events, learn from other countries’ experiences and apply the knowledge at home. Normally, I would not make a point of it, but it seems that this requirement is not easily met by all our candidates. Having said that, as a Croatian citizen (and in the sequel, as an IT professional), I would like to draw your attention to some issues we have been having: the list is by no means exhaustive, but could be nutritious food for thought.

It might be frowned upon to digress from the political topics de jour, but it seems to me that while we have a fighting force deployed outside of our borders (on a non-UN mandate, I should add), that is the first thing to address. The immediate withdrawal of our armed forces from what used to be the sovereign country of Afghanistan followed by a sincere apology to the Afghan people would be a sign of a government which considers ethics more than a motive to flash at media to sway a few votes its way. As an aside, we would save over 30 million Euro every year, easily covering the damage done by 25 corruption cases like the one our former minister of defence Rončević was found guilty in.

While we are on the subject of the military, Continue reading “To the Future Croatian Prime Minister – Part 1”