Posted by Adam @ 6:29 pm on July 3rd 2013

The treatment of Evo Morales

I posted yesterday about Evo Morales’ plane being refused overfly permission and/or refuelling permission because it was thought that Edward Snowden was on board (he wasn’t, incidentally). I’ve been thinking about this over the last day and I actually find the way Morales was treated to be outrageous. I don’t like him — he’s a dodgy pinko populist with authoritarian tendencies — but Jesus wept, he’s a godamned head of state headed home after a meeting in another country, not a bloody criminal.

I don’t know whether France and Portugal (and Spain, potentially) acted of their own accord or were asked to do this by the USA, but I can understand why Latin American countries in particular are so damn angry about this. If the US did ask for this then for me this actually constitutes a new low in the administration’s anti-leaker campaign, but I really don’t know if that’s true.

This is not a case where the pursuit of the cover-up is worse than the story, for me, but the bloody-mindedness of the pursuit of Snowden isn’t making anyone look any better.

Posted by Adam @ 6:02 pm on July 3rd 2013

Egyptian elections, the buses of the Nile

There is a saying in the UK — and probably in other places as well, places that didn’t appreciate the awesomeness of being British and who yearly celebrate their vulgar rebellion with fireworks and cheap beer — that with buses, you wait for ages and then two come along at once.

Egyptians may be feeling somewhat similar, having waited a very long time for anything approximating a democratic election and then toppling two leaders — one of whom was actually elected — via popular protest and a transition via a period of military rule. There will apparently follow, soon, another election — until then, the constitution is dissolved and the Chief Justice is running the show (although presumably with military help) — and, one would hope, a longer period of democratic, elected rule before the next time people protest and the military step in.

Despite the tone of my comments above, I don’t think that this is some sort of calamity; Morsi was highly unpopular and any route to him remaining in power in the face of massive and growing protests was probably going to have been brutal (too brutal for the military to allow, presumably). My concern, rather, is the handwringing sanctimony of how we encourage everyone else to be democracies in our image when we actually care about different issues — stability, a friendly foreign policy towards us, beneficial business relationships, etc — and other than neocons and a few other idealists we probably don’t really believe that a western-ish democracy is actually best for those countries or even for the issues about which we really care, particularly not if they elect a genuine Islamist.

Sometimes it’s better to walk than to catch the bus.

Posted by Brad @ 11:53 am on July 3rd 2013

Tweet of the Day

Posted by Adam @ 9:00 pm on July 2nd 2013

Taking the long view

It might be, like cockroaches and Chicago Cubs fans, that bees will be hard to stamp out in spite of all that is done to them. We may control their numbers by ensuring they never win a World Series or by spraying both them and their environs with pesticide, but they’ll always be there in the shadows dreaming of baseball success or a particularly tasty pile of food refuse, or possibly both.

I think you get my point.

Anyhow, looking ahead a billion years, the sun is going to get much more luminous and as a result the earth is going to get much, much hotter. The seas will evaporate, producing a thicker mantle of heat-trapping water vapour in our atmosphere until only the microbes can survive.

I just hope I live long enough to see the bees fry.

Posted by Adam @ 7:09 pm on July 2nd 2013

Where’s Edward? Is he on a plane?

Evo Morales’ jet has been refused the right to cross French and Portuguese airspace over suspicions that Edward Snowden is on board.

This is getting pretty weird. Also, France in particular seem to be expressing outrage that the US has been spying on EU nations (faked outrage, mind you) but is happy to help the US stop him leaking.

Posted by Brad @ 4:43 pm on July 1st 2013

List of inventors killed by their own inventions

I love the AV Club, the Onion’s sister pop culture site. Anyway, they have a feature called Wiki Wormhole where they patrol for the most deliciously weird wikipedia pages. Here is their entry for the above topic.

The great thing about wiki wormholes? Well, going down wiki wormholes. For instance, this lead me to Zhao Gao, “one of the most corrupt, villainous, violent and powerful eunuchs in Chinese history”, and goddammit if there isn’t a movie there THEN IM FRESH OUT OF IDEAS*

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