Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Morning Blog

For the record, I have not been ignoring the terrible crackdown in Syria. Well, maybe I have a little. Frankly, there are only so many Arab insurrections one can cover. And these days, there seem to be quite a few. However, I am glad to say that what with the whole killing of civilians and shelling of cities, they've decided that now isn't the best time to look for a spot on the UN Human Rights Council. Sort of a shame actually. When the other members were investigating human rights violations, I'm sure the Syrians could give them excellent pointers on what to look for.

Speaking of things that have distracted me, the sons of Bin Laden have denounced his killing. Having frequently denounced the (to say it mildly), "extra-judicial" killings sponsored by their father, I think they have a right to denounce an extra-judicial killing sponsored by the President. Even though, Lord o Lord did he deserve it.

But hey; live by the sword, die by the son.

Which leads us nicely to Afghanistan and the horrible corruption that feeds the Taliban. Last night, the Girlfriend asked me why some Afghani support the Taliban. Unfortunately, the answer is that why they may be murderous thugs, at least they're not murderous, kleptomaniac thugs:

Unfortunately, both Din Mohammad's and Sherzai's enthusiasm for the anti-narcotics campaign was a function of the huge profit opportunity it represented. Opium prices in the country surged, making both governors' reportedly considerable opium interests more profitable for their proxies and supporters. But price control was not the only intent. Eradication itself was a corrupt venture: Governors who were good performers attracted more Western aid, which was all too easily siphoned off. The other half of the game was soliciting bribes and protection payments from poppy farmers, while only eradicating the crops of those who couldn't afford to pay. The advisors I was with knew all this, but their interests rested with eradication and cultivation targets, not with the perverse system of power and profit their targets created.

Which leads us to other state sponsors of terrorism.

And sadly, one more state sponsor of terrorism. And yes, making sex between consenting adults a capital offense is most definitely and profoundly terrorism. Hopefully, Uganda's bill will die. Failing that, I sincerely hope they are utterly boycotted. I would hope that any company doing business with them would feel the effects of supporting such a government.

Sadly, much of the anti-gay violence in Uganda has been fueled by American Evangelicals. While it's easy for me to attack the religious and paint them with a rather broad brush as intolerant, that isn't always the case. Here for example, is a group that recognizes that if God hates homosexuals, he strangely seems to make quite a few of them.

Maybe we can wrap things up and go home, then?

How do you say 'band-aid' in Japanese? He might as well have announced that he wouldn't wear black socks until the nuclear crisis is resolved. It'd have the exact same effect.

In tech news, the Navy is looking for innovative ways to respond to piracy. That's right: Piracy on the web is now officially encouraged by the government. In all seriousness though, while I think that this is certainly an interesting way to look for solutions to what is a serious issue, I can't help but think that there are some moral issues involved. Essentially, isn't the Navy crowdsourcing war? Does this not encourage people with no stakes in the situation to make decisions that can lead to people being killed?

The Peace Corp is facing scrutiny as a result of providing poor services to female volunteers that suffered sexual assault while serving over-seas. It strikes me that the Peace Corp did what it could to keep incidences quiet. Ultimately, it's in the business of luring people to go forth and help the world (and spread the word that Americans are lovely as well, for that matter). It would have a much more difficult time doing that if along with pictures of people teaching children to read, it also stressed that some of these countries are quite dangerous. To be honest, their failure to make this clear and provide appropriate support is pretty irresponsible to say the least:

But whether such a bill would pass Congress is unclear. Representative Niki Tsongas, Democrat of Massachusetts, is co-sponsoring Mr. Poe’s bill, but other Democrats are skittish about it. They worry that the legislation, and Wednesday’s hearing, might be used to undermine the Peace Corps — the legacy of a Democratic president — and cut its funding.

John Stewart has done his part to encourage internet filth. Personally, I think it's hilarious. I find it amazing that Dan Savage has managed to cause such a headache for presidential wanna-be Rick (you know where this is going) Santorum.

In other 2012 news, it looks as though Donald "I Am Not Amused" Trump is down for the count. I never accepted that he was actually running. I think that it was just an advertising schtick, which probably says something terrible about the gray area between politics and sales.

Because he's always awesome, let's read an interview with Stan "The Man" Lee. I'd be happy if someone would ask him for grooming tips. It seems that some men can pull of mustaches (he clearly can), and some simply can't (hello, there!). I want to know the secret.

Jack Kirby was of course, awesome as well. This might not be one of his better works but hey, who wouldn't want to read about the diabolical activities of the evil Hotsky Trotsky.

Vegas is dead. Long live Macau! I think they'll really get things going when they realize that it's better to serve complementary cocktails rather than tea. Last thing they want is to give a lot of gamblers a reason to leave the tables for the bathroom.

Given the way that casino owners love kitsch, I'm just going to assume these are headed for Macau.

Papers, please.

Your daily dose of awesome.

More video fun here: Your daily dose of emosewa.

Yes, that's weird. And so are these.

Drink up!

Unintended Consequences: London has made efforts to control the overpopulation of vile and disgusting pigeons. One method for controlling these pests has been to introduce hawks to the city. What could possibly go wrong with that? Interesting note: The article states that the natural predators of these hawks are prairie dogs. Say what now? Have prairie dogs developed flight capabilities that I'm unaware of?

It's cheaper than buying a book: The collected Vanity Fair columns of Christopher Hitchens.

Here's some music to round out your day. Linked to only because I have a cat named Moby (for the whale, mind you).

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