June 2009 Archives
June 16, 2009

Aniversary of the June 1990 Mineriada in Bucharest, elections in Iran


I don't usually post about politics on my blog, but today's circumstances are special. 19 years ago on June 13th, Ion Iliescu, the newly elected president of Romania, called on the miners to impose the civil order in Bucharest, the capital of the country. For more than 2 months students and other people demonstrated against election irregularities and the manipulations of FSN, that lead to the Iliescu's election as president. FSN was the organization formed by Ion Iliescu shortly after the December 1989 Revolution to temporarily rule Romania while elections were arranged.

Prior to these events, Iliescu gradually built his power. Following the December 1989 Revolution in which the former communist regime was thrown out and its president hastily killed, Iliescu became the head of FSN. This was an organization formed from all the independents and later political parties interested in helping out organize the first free elections in Romania after 45 years of communism.

Using the political clout gained by being the head of FSN, Iliescu decided in January to run for president. Using a still entrenched media, Iliescu and his party manipulated the media by presenting only their side of the story. With this and what appeared to be massive irregularities during the election, he won a detached victory in the April elections. This prompted massive demonstrations in Piata Universitatii, one of the main squares in Bucharest. These demonstrations were lead by the students of the University.

At the time I was student at the University, and so I was present. This demonstration went on every day for almost 2 months, gathering tens of thousands of people every day. The center of the city was shutdown, including at night. People set up tents in the square and effectively camped out for weeks. Those were great times: as an energetic young person you felt you could really influence the outcome of politics. It was incredible!

On June 13th, various diversions were set up and what was until then a peaceful demonstration turned violent. Cars were set on fire and shops destroyed by instigators that had nothing to do with the demonstration. The next day, Iliescu called on the miners to travel to Bucharest and "reinstate the social order". Thousand of them came to Bucharest. They beat and killed people in the streets, attacked and destroyed the University, the headquarters of the opposition parties. This was all done in the name of the Revolution and under the guidance of Iliescu's men. He even thanked them publicly on television for a job well done!

Despite all these Iliescu went on to be president, and was even re-elected 2 times. This goes on to show how strong the media manipulation can be, and the importance of a politically educated electorate.

You can see some videos from the Mineriada events in Bucharest here. Unfortunately most of them do not have an English translation.

An unfortunate strange and sad coincidence, but similar events appear to be happening in Iran. Media manipulation, fear, uncertainty, and doubt, and possible election fraud contributed to the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Massive demonstrations in Tehran happened for the past two days to protest the falsification of the election. I'm afraid the powers to be in Iran will use a similar strategy to impose the social order in Tehran. I'm hopeful though that a better and peaceful solution will be found.

Posted by ovidiu at 12:54 AM | Comments (2) |
June 02, 2009

Maker Faire 2009 - the best festival so far

Cool gadgets | Hardware

I finally had some time to go through the pictures from this year's Maker Faire. By far this was the best one so far! Lots of people participated with very interesting projects, and the variety was huge.

What was striking this year was the quality of the projects and how much time people put in them. The list of projects, sorted by type can be found at the Maker Faire's web site.

Here are some of the cool projects I liked:

  • Bike wheel display. Uses LEDs controlled by a small computer to show images on a moving wheel. By Monkeylectric.
  • Bill Buzbee's Magic-1 computer. The CPU is built entirely from 74 series TTL chips. Bill now works at Google on the Android team.
  • Kinetic sculptures. These were incredibly detailed mechanical assemblies custom made from metal by few talented artists. Though artist in this context is an understatement: these guys have knowledge of mechanics, electronics, and are very good at building things.

There were a lot more interesting projects that I won't talk about in this post. Check out the Maker Fair's website for a list of participants. Also check out my Picasa album containing more pictures from the event.

Posted by ovidiu at 11:17 PM | Comments (1) |
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