October 18, 2006
I wish, just once, a damn country doing a “military intervention” would do it right so we could see if it could work. Before the Iraq war I was a supporter of the idea as I support the idea of spreading democracy. Although I am a firm believer that democracy needs a lot of tweaking around the nipples to work properly, as the USA is currently finding out, it’s still the best system of managing human society we have come up with to date. A benevolent dictatorship might work better but that depends on you acquiring an intelligent, benevolent dictator. Fat chance.
So I supported it on the basis of deposing a dictator and bringing democracy to the country, something I would sorely have loved to happen in Zimbabwe, the DRC and Sudan. The people of the invading country, and they are that- invaders, have to be willing to make certain, large sacrifices.
First, to minimize civilian casualties thay have o be willing to lose more of their own soldiers. The US alone have lost 2,700 troops so far and a further 20,000 are injured. A country caring enough about others is hard to see these days but there have been times in our world where we have all been encouraged to care about what was happening beyond our borders, I am sure those days will return even stronger. In the future. Possibly, after this debacle, really rather far into the future.
Second, those countries that take it upon themselves have to be honest about the economic sacrifice. It will cost a fortune and every person in the country will be paying for it. Iraq has cost America alone $251 billion dollars. Lets do that in numbers, shall we. That’s $251 000 000 000. That’s almost $1000 per living person in America. And that’s just to cock it up completely, not make a success.
Third, army engineers need to come in directly behind the troops: within 24 hours. They need to make sure the people have (a) water and (b) power of some description. This is step one of hearts and minds, surely?
Fourth, it is about letting the country’s residents know you, as a country, give a shit. Paying taxes at home doesn’t make the poor think you care about them and neither does letting the civilian population of another country know how much money it cost you personally. It’s probably cost them relatives, possibly even ones they liked. You need civilian volunteers, at least some with a knowledge of the local language, who will be risking their lives to bring food and medical supplies. Approaching the happy, moderate Islamic populations of the USA and UK to help out might have been an intelligent idea. This is step two of hearts and minds.
Fifth, democracy. Democracy starts from the ground up, not from the top down. Ask anyone who is forming a company and they will tell you you need to pay attention to each division and then insert management structures to communicate between divisions once the divisions are working effectively. Electing a Sheriff and a three deputies per block to represent the needs of those people to the invaders/ interim government/ cabinet and nationally elected officials gives people a say. Then give the necessary funds to those blocks through their elected officials and have auditing teams.
Let the people learn on the ground how useless a democratic governance system is. You need to lower their expectations as soon as possible. Once they spend a month in “block meetings” at local hallswith no street lamps ordered because everyone is fightin over what colour they should be painted and whether a “pooper-scooper” ordinance should be higher on the agenda they won’t expect too much from a national government.
So: really, really expensive.
If you had taken that $251 billion dollars and used it in Afghanistan you would have a thriving, happy democracy by now. Possibly. I think. Or at least everyone on both sides would have better guns.
It would be nice to find out.
One last point: you have to let the people know what a democracy is: It’s a system that splits power between a group of not-particularily-intelligent people (to limit the damage they might do) who you hire for 4-5 years to do a job and get rid of if they fail to deliver. I always wished we had done that here in Sunny South Africa, we would be a more potimistic country for it.
After all, democracy is slow, annoying and often stupid but it’s better than having a guy in charge who can order people to shoot you in the head because you wore the same sequined ball-gown he did to the Opera.
Would love comments on this one.
A man, worth (prosecuters believed) around 43 billion dollars which the Enron Chief screwed out of his employees, clients and the world in general, facing the rest of his life in jail, dies while on holiday in a small community where he is well known and has his autopsy, funeral and cremation all happen within 4 days. The coroner’s report states there was a “Visual and physical identification.” but doesn’t state what “physical identification.” We presume his wife identified the body.
Then the conviction of the Key man in the Enron scandal gets abated (it never existed, not even the indictment- isn’t that sweet) because the poor boy did not have a chance to exhaust the appeal process. So his wife gets to keep all the money barring a civil suite where they will be unable to point to the criminal conviction as part of their evidence. Although we must grant that Kenneth Lay, well known to us all for being a scrupulously honest, down to earth man had declared that his actual wealth was in the negative to the amount of $250,000. Yes Kenny, we believe you.
Not being a conspiracy nut I do want to state that here a conspiracy is all too plausible. If I was a state coroner I wouldn’t say no to a quick couple of million back handed to me. It’s not the best paid job in the world, after all. Then Kenny, alive again just like in South Park, get’s to run off to have fun in the sun somewhere without extradition. Just to make sure.
Let’s find him. I would love to see Kenny die over and over again.
South Park lives!
October 17, 2006
The “crap scientific theory du jour” is that the human species could eventually split into two subspecies of the beautiful rich and the fugly poor. On the surface of it, in a capitalist society, you can get where they are coming from. But it doesn’t make it a sound theory yet “Time”, “BBC” and all our local newspapers report it verbatim.
The theory: With the rich and highly educated marrying the beautiful (which I do not deny) you get a genetic run of thin, tall, pretty, rich and (supposedly) well-educated people. The rest of the ‘tat’ shag each other senseless producing ugly, dumpy, thick offspring. I don’t really care about the egotism or snobbery involved here so I won’t bother hammering on about that.
Also, no qualified scientist I, but immediately a theory hole big enough for an articulated truck, the international space station and Oprah on one of her binges to pass through simultaneously presents itself: plastic surgery. As the ability to change radically one’s appearance continues to decrease so the concept of this perfect gene pool becomes sulied and ultimately no big difference occur. Add to this that more and more surveys indicate that both spouses cheat, producing illegitimate children all over the place and the theory bubbles over the edge of the pot and douses any sort of sensible flame keeping it going.
Typical reporting: that will make a great headline, to buggery that it’s a load of old toot by an idiot with a qualification and a lust for limelight. Dr. Curry should be ashamed or at least well paid for producing it.
At least the BBC mentined in their piece who the report was commissioned for: mens satellite TV channel “Bravo”. Well known for their scientific credentials and insightful programming. These are the people who bring you “Project Runway”, “Top Chef” and “Celebrity Poker Showdown”.
October 16, 2006
I find this guy’s stuff hysterical, even the physics stuff. Someone should really be giving him a lot of money. But they probably aren’t.
So, proof positive that I have the soul of a nerd to go along the the head of a frat kind in my fridge and the two dead hookers I loaded in my trunk.
Ah.. what a world.
October 16, 2006
I am a complete athiest and one of the most ‘spiritual’ people I know. It’s a paradox that would haunt me in my sleep, keeping me from rest and turning my days into that of a living zombie if I didn’t drink so very much. Fortunately the genius of man (and, occasionally, woman) that as brought us aviation, whoopee cushions, nuclear weapons and opera felt fit to provide me with a sleeping pill that provides endless hours of fuzzy entertainment before plunging me into darkness and (occasionally) a gutter.
The thing that most recently got my goat (I find myself replacing my goat more often these days) is the definition of ‘poverty’ and the assumption that people who are living in poverty are miserable, helpless, feckless idiots who need help and guidance. Sort of like politicians but without the suits and large men with dark sunglasses surrounding them all the time.
Why are we all so obsessed with economic indicators when an international survey on happiness (new scientist) puts many of the worlds poor countries at the top of the list, and not one of the G8 nations in the top 10. The things that make people happy, it seems, are a full stomach, a roof over their head, a mate and good friends. Oddly enough, this is what i was brought up to believe, but then I was brought up by my parents in a country that didn’t get TV till the 1970s and a house that barely got one before the 80′s.
So I failed to be woo’d by MTV, bling and P.Diddy (or whatever his name is this week). In fact i went through my teens in an era where you could not walk down the street clad in fur for fear of an attack of red paint and aggressive vitriol from a large lesbian or member of the clergy. Adverts were something to laugh at and didn’t actually manage to convince us of anything much.
Then someone with intelligence who was promoted within a marketing firm despite his handicap of speaking in full sentances and realised that you don’t try to sell in the little breaks between the programs anymore, you sell while the programs are on and people aren’t having a quick shag with the babysitter or in the kitchen trying making tea (yes, this was a more innocent time before starbucks and the coffe invasion and yes, honest, there was a time when people made it al on their own).
It was probably when people actually started wearing leather pants (somewhere in ’84) because of David Hasselhof in Knight Rider (he still wears them and it breeds such sadness in my soul) that they twigged that if the famous were doing it so would every half wit in christendom (and bits of islamadom, buddhisadom but not the guys in orange robes or the beardy ones in utah) no matter how demented, ridiculous, callous, hypocritical and obviously unhealthy it was.
Poor countires are spared most of this and are still restricted to a couple of hours in front of a TV a day/week/year (delete as applicably lucky) and are forced to spend time with friends and family being active, social and getting laid. Okay, mostly with friends because, let’s face it, sometimes family can be a bit much.
Note that the happiest countries: Nigeria, Mexico, Venezuela, El Salvador, Puerto Rico have crap infrastructure, no money and don’t speak english very well so it’s hard to bombard them with ideas of what they do not have but should. The unhappiest countries: Russia, Armenia, Romania all have good communications infrastructure, no money and don’t speak english very well but you can at least get at them to remind them how miserable they should be because they don’t own leather pants. And a new Lexus.
Sod this- anyone fancy a pint. (Fast Show) (Irony)
This column was brought to you by Lexus. Or, perhaps, not.