The Online Journal of Insight, Satire, Desire, Wit and Observation

Beloved Malala

Around the world, something quite extraordinary is happening. Muslim and Hindu, Shiite and Sunni and Sufi, religious and secular, Pakistani and Afghan, are united in praying for the swift and complete recovery of Malala, who is called, “beloved,” “The Ambassador of Peace and Education,” “braveheart,” “the brilliant brain,” “saviour of girls.” Pakistan and Afghanistan have both held special ceremonies and a national day of prayer. People have been photographed in the streets with tears running down their faces. We see pictures of girls holding up signs saying, “I am Malala.”

Though she has been transformed by myth and the coincidence of her name to the national heroine of Afghanistan, Malalai of Marwand, we should not forget that Malala is a 14-year-old girl with dear friends and a loving family whose hearts ache for her.

My Malalai is living, and they praise others’ beauty.
Though they have eyes, they are blind.

–Ajmal Khattak

“When gun-toting men stopped their school wagon in Mingora last Tuesday around 12.45 p.m. asking for Malala Yousafzai, none of the three girls inside spoke. This, despite the terrorists threatening to shoot all of them if they did not identify Malala.

Today, stirred by the braveheart, who dared to stand up to the Taliban, and her friends, Shazia and Kainat, who refused to identify her even under threat, girls across Pakistan are saying ‘I am Malala.’

This is happening not just on the social media – which offers a degree of anonymity and security – but also on television and on the streets; some with their faces uncovered. ‘I-am-Malala’ has been trending not just in Pakistan but also in Afghanistan where girls’ education is equally at risk from the very same elements.

On Saturday, the Afghanistan Education Ministry organised a nationwide prayer for her at schools. She is being likened to ‘Malalai of Maiwand,’ the ‘Afghan Joan of Arc’ who rallied the Pashtun army against the British in 1880.”

Malala wave sweeps Pakistan

see also:
Friends of Pakistani girl shot by Taliban vow ‘never to be subdued by militants
Malala Yousafzai: a young Pakistani heroine
OVER A COFFEE : Attacking Malala: the soul of Pakistan — Dr Haider Shah

Copyright © 2012 Henry Edward Hardy

13 October, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, courage, education, Malala, Malalai of Maiwand, news, Pakistan, politics, scanlyze | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nasty UNdispatch blog attack on One Laptop per Child — a response

Nasty UNdispatch blog attack on One Laptop per Child — a response

Children Using the OLPC XO image copyright (C) Henry Edward Hardy 2008, 2009
image copyright (C) Henry Edward Hardy 2008, 2009

Undispatch, which says it receives part of its funding from the United Nations Foundation, has published an attack on the One Laptop per Child project on its website titled “One Laptop per Child – The Dream is Over” at

The blog, which says it is by Alanna Shaikh, makes several criticisms of the OLPC project.

I served as systems administrator for OLPC from February 2008 until January 2009 and continue to volunteer for the project because I think it is one of the most wonderful and laudable development projects ever attempted, despite the many setbacks and disappointments it has endured in trying to fundamentally change world-wide education, development, and the laptop market.

I wrote a response to UNDispatch two days ago on their blog site. My response did not appear. I wrote to UNDispatch to ask for them to approve my post, and provided them with a copy. It still did not appear.

A response from OLPC Chairman and founder Nicholas Negroponte was published on the UNDispatch site today.

Here is my initial response which I submitted to Alanna Sheikh’s blog post on UNdispatch (with slight editing for typos and to add live links):

This blog post makes several questionable and false statements. And it has a generally nasty and condescending tone which makes me rather sad.

OLPC did not “abandon” human power sources, however conventional wired electricity, generators or in some cases, solar power are much more efficient. Making children do hard physical labor to power their computer is not such a great idea. The hand crank was fragile and did not provide enough power. However, foot-treadle devices such as can be used to power a truck battery work reasonably well.

OLPC has not “abandoned the special child-friendly OS”. It has shipped approximately 700,000+ units with Sugar and perhaps 7,000 with Windows (my unofficial estimates). OLPC has provided funding and support for SugarLabs to continue this free software development work, and Sugar is available as a desktop on any Fedora or Red Hat desktop post Fedora 10. The number of XO laptops sold for poor countries is about ten times the total number sold though the several “Give One Get One” promotions in North America and Europe.

The idea that the laptops were developed without end user input is patently false. There is an active and vocal community of OLPC users thoughout the world who participate — see through the OLPC wiki at and many locally-based organizations. Among these are Plan Ceibal in Uruguay, Open Learning Exchange Nepal, and OLPC Rwanda. A partial list of regional groups can be found at . There are many local grassroots small deployments in dozens of countries. Last night at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society Open House we heard about a local grassroots deployment in Haiti spearheaded by Kevin Wallen(sp?) and Helene Dietrich(sp?) and the tremendous empowerment and social transformation and pride it has brought in that community.

The phrase “to call a spade a spade” has rather unfortunate racist connotations and seems singularly inappropriate on this UN blog.

OLPC pioneered the netbook market. It has set an unequaled standard in simplicity of maintenance, low power consumption, ruggedness and durability, high quality screen, long-range dual wireless capability, use of free and open source software, and openness to community collaboration. Designing and developing the hardware, software, applications, distributing the computers, and coordinating the hundreds of local initiatives was done by no more than 23 employees (at one time) including me.

Hundreds of volunteers work on the OLPC project through developing applications, answering end-user tickets via the support gang, helping administer the back-end infrastructure through the Volunteer Infrastructure Group and many other initiatives.

The XO has brought joy, pride and a window on the world for hundreds of thousands of children in poor and working class communities throughout the world. Although I left OLPC in January, I am very proud of the work we have done and consider the year that I spent there as systems administrator to have been the high point of my life intellectually, educationally, and morally.


Henry Edward Hardy
speaking only for myself

My letter to the editor of UNDispatch:

To whom it may concern,

I am the former senior systems administrator for One Laptop per Child. I am writing to draw your attention to a very problematic post appearing on your site, “One Laptop per Child – The Dream is Over”. I posted a response and correction two days ago, but your moderators have not yet approved it.

While a OLPC employee, I had the privilege of working with UNICEF at the UN in New York on the “our stories” project on March 29-30 2008 and the UN staff could not have been more supportive, cordial, or helpful. See

So it is very disappointing to see such a vindictive, hostile, and inaccurate report appearing on a blog financed at least in part by the United Nations Foundation.

I look forward to my response as submitted two days ago being approved and appearing on the site today.


Henry Edward Hardy
senior systems administrator, One Laptop per Child 2008-2009
speaking only for myself

As of this posting, I have yet to receive a response from UNDispatch or to see my response posted on their site.

In Defense of OLPC and the XO Laptop
Negroponte’s Response to UN Dispatch: Dream is Alive
Computer Error?
Could One Laptop Per Child be a bad thing?
Debate About Computer Program for Impoverished Students
OLPC: criticisms and a defense

Copyright © 2009 Henry Edward Hardy

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11 September, 2009 Posted by | Alanna Shaikh, criticism, development, education, One Laptop Per Child, scanlyze, United Nations | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Computerized Internet Censorship is Morally Wrong

This is taken from a response I made on a mailing list discussing technical means of implementing “filtering”, or computerized censorship, of children’s access to the internet in a school environment.

I’m a bit disturbed when I hear people using the euphemism “filtering” for automated, computerized censorship. I understand there may be legislative or political mandates. However, we should never talk about this as though it is a good or desirable or acceptable thing.

I realize this may be seen as off topic from the merely technical discussion of how to implement computerized censorship, but when we calmly discuss technicalities of something which is obviously wrong without questioning it, then the discussion needs to be aired.

“Filtering” is what you do to the water in a fish tank. “Censorship” is when a state or quasi-state agency proscribes and limits access to certain classes of written material.

Here are a few tests we should apply to any such proposed system.

Does it allow access to information about “Romeo and Juliet”? (Underage sex, gang-oriented violence, suicide, murder)

Does it allow access to “Huckleberry Finn” (Slavery, frequent use of the word “nigger”)

Does it allow access to “The Catcher in the Rye” (Use of “fuck”, blasphemy, drinking, smoking, lying, promiscuity, implied pederasty)

Does it allow access to “Heather has Two Mommies” (Lesbianism)

Does it allow access to “Our Bodies, Ourselves” (Information about human health, sex and sexuality)

Does it allow access to “Slaughterhouse-Five” (Genocide, strategic bombing, sex)

Does it allow access to “Of Mice and Men” (Retardation, sex, rape, murder)

Does it allow access to “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Sexual roles, patriarchy, racism, and theocracy)

Does it allow access to “The Kite Runner” (Homosexuality, rape)

Does it allow access to “His Dark Materials” (Anti-state, anti-catholic, magic and witchcraft)

Does it allow access to “One Hundred Years of Solitude” (Alchemy, murder, debauchery)

Does it allow access to “1984” (Torture, illicit sex, anti-state and anti-party politics)

Does it allow access to “Canterbury Tales” (Promiscuity, anti-clericalism)

Does it allow access to “The Decameron” (Anti-state, anti-Catholic and general ribaldry, such as the Third Day, Tenth Story, “How to put the Devil in Hell”)

And in terms of websites particularly,






Sites which criticize the ruling party or government.

Sites which criticize or parody the predominant religion.

Blogs, in general

And classes of internet services such as



Peer-to-peer file-sharing services such as Bittorrent, EMule, Gnutella

In general, censorship is bad and morally wrong; and automated, computerized censorship especially so; and we should never refer to it by a purpose-made and innocuous-sounding term like “filtering” or treat it as though it is morally or pedagogically acceptable.

What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books.

–Sigmund Freud, 1933

See: Filtering / Censorship

Copyright © 2009 Henry Edward Hardy

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27 April, 2009 Posted by | books, censorship, culture, education, file-sharing, filtering, literature, scanlyze | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does politics belong in the classroom?

Prof. Stanley Fish has been discussing on his nytimes blog whether or how freely political opinions should be expressed by a teacher in the college or university classroom.

His initial blog entry is, Yet Once More: Political Correctness on Campus and the followup to which I have responded is, George W. Bush and Melville’s Ahab: Discuss!

Fish’s first post was a long response to Evan Coyne Maloney’s Indoctrinate U.

The basic thrust of Fish’s post seems to be that,

Academics often bridle at the picture of their activities presented by Maloney and other conservative critics, and accuse them of grossly caricaturing and exaggerating what goes on in the classroom. Maybe so, but so long as there are those who confuse advocacy with teaching, and so long as faculty colleagues and university administrators look the other way, the academy invites the criticism it receives in this documentary. In 1915, the American Association of University Professors warned that if we didn’t clean up our own shop, external constituencies, with motives more political than educational, would step in and do it for us. Now they’re doing it in the movies and it’s our own fault.

Yet Once More: Political Correctness on Campus

My response follows:

I would not entirely agree with the thesis that politics has no place in the Academy.

As teachers, can we not state that, for instance, “Torture is antithetical to every basic principle of the American democratic system”? Or contrariwise, “Corporal punishment has been a feature of the American system of justice since its inception, and even killing a prisoner who has been condemned to death after due process is held to be judicially and legally acceptable under federal and most state jurisdictions today”?

Can we not say, “The evidence for global warming is regarded as conclusive by an overwhelming international consensus of scientists” as well as, “Solar incident radiation is the principle contributing factor to global warming in accordance with Boltzmann’s Law and the primary factor mediating this is the albedo of the earth, and any radiative forcing from CO2 in the atmosphere is negligible by comparison”?

Is it not precisely so that such opinions can be voiced without fear of retribution that we have tenured positions in the academic structure? If one prevailing political, scientific, or social view is defined culturally as “objective” and no other views are permitted to be advanced or advocated by a teacher in a classroom setting, then where is the great “marketplace of ideas” of which the classroom is a preeminent exemplar? As the Supreme Court held in Keyishian v. Board of Regents, (385 U.S. 589, 605-606 [1967], ):

‘Our Nation is deeply committed to safeguarding academic freedom, which is of transcendent value to all of us and not merely to the teachers concerned. That freedom is therefore a special concern of the First Amendment, which does not tolerate laws that cast a pall of orthodoxy over the classroom. “The vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms is nowhere more vital than in the community of American schools.” Shelton v. Tucker, supra, at 487. The classroom is peculiarly the “marketplace of ideas.” The Nation’s future depends upon leaders trained through wide exposure to that robust exchange of ideas which discovers truth “out of a multitude of tongues, [rather] than through any kind of authoritative selection.”‘

Thank you for your interesting post and enjoyable and weighty blog, Prof. Fish.

See also: The Universities Under Attack …

I would further note that after 1915 the political “cleaning up” of leftist radicals such as Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman took the unpleasant form of the Palmer Raids in 1919, indeed an interesting and fraught comparison to draw with our present political situation.

Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy

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23 October, 2007 Posted by | 1915, 1919, 1967, Alexander Berkman, anarchism, anarchy, censorship, classroom, education, Emma Goldman, Evan Coyne Maloney, free market of ideas, freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, Indoctrinate U, Keyishian v. Board of Regents, law, marketplace of ideas, movie, movies, New York Times, objectivity, Palmer Raids, political correctness, politics, radicals, repression, Shelton v. Tucker, Stanley Fish | 2 Comments

Deconstructing Miss Teen South Carolina

Miss Teen USA 2007 – South Carolina answers a question

Q (Aimee Teegarden): Recent polls have shown that a fifth of Americans polled can’t locate the US on a world map. Why do you think this is?

A (Miss Teen South Carolina, Lauren Caitlin Upton): I personally believe the U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don’t have maps and I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and the Iraq everywhere like such as and I believe they should our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future for uh.


I personally believe

…but don’t be offended if you don’t agree…

the U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don’t have maps

Why can’t the “US Americans” locate the US on a map? They don’t have maps! Brilliant!

This next part is strange and difficult.

and I believe that our education

She seems to be rallying here…

like such as in South Africa and the Iraq everywhere

Those are countries, on maps, somewhere, everywhere… good…

like such as and I believe they should our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S.

but they are foreigners, we should help educate our own people first (?)

or should help South Africa

Or maybe not, maybe we should help African nations like such as… South Africa… that’s like such as in Africa, right?

and should help The Iraq and Asian countries

The Iraq is another country on maps, I know because there’s a war there in The Iraq called “The Iraq War”, and its on maps, and, like such as, the Asian countries like such as, um, the Asian countries…

so we will be able to build up our future for uh.

Time is running out, end on a positive and inclusive note. Don’t forget to smile at the camera!

This video has been viewed around the world more than 12 million times. US Americans, the world isn’t laughing with us, they are laughing *at* us.

This girl clearly has all it takes to be President!

Tube Map for Miss South Carolina

See also: Google on Bush and “Miss Teen South Carolina” (581,000 entries)
Song for Miss Teen USA 2007 South Carolina- Andy Hide

Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy

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5 September, 2007 Posted by | Aimee Teegarden, deconstruction, education, fool, laughingstock, Lauren Caitlin Upton, like such as, maps, media, Miss Teen USA, news, politics, scanlyze, South carolina, teen, US, USA, video | 2 Comments