A pre-emptive happy birthday to the Jamahiriya

I’m going to go out on a prediction limb here and wish a pre-emptive merry 42nd birthday to the absurdly named Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya on September the 1st.  This is not motivated by any particular desire for the continuation of Gaddafite rule beyond or up to that date – indeed, I’m publishing this partly in order to tempt fate and ensure that, Sod’s Law, as soon as I publicly state that I think Gaddafi will remain in hiding for a good while longer yet, he is instantly and miraculously captured.  But, rationally, as Cameron and Obama declare … Continue reading A pre-emptive happy birthday to the Jamahiriya

Rioters, Terrorists, and Zombies

In the aftermath of any major event, certain tropes crop up in the speech of politicians and unimaginative journalists, tropes which can often provide the key to understanding the deeper significance of that event.  In the case of the riots across England two weeks ago, the politicking slogan became “mindless violence”.  This gem was of course intimately linked to the belief that there was no socio-economic reason behind the riots, that they were not a political act. Leaving aside the debate about all this (although I have my own opinions), let us engage in a bit of hypothesis.  If there … Continue reading Rioters, Terrorists, and Zombies

The Graveyard of Empires

A few days ago I read a very surprising article by Robert Fisk, usually a journalist I admire and respect (as much for his political analysis as for his references to Tony Blair as ‘Lord Blair of Esfahan’), which essentially called for intervention in Syria. Thankfully, the Western appetite for yet another Middle Eastern military excursion seems to have been whetted for quite a considerable time – Hague et al. are, with a shocking self-awareness, saying that there is a limited amount they can do – with no thanks to our steadfast refusal to look at the lessons of history.  … Continue reading The Graveyard of Empires

Dan Savage in a Burqa

A friend of mine pointed me today to the fact that Italy, in its infinite Berlusconiesque wisdom, has drafted a law to ban the burqa, dragging it that little bit further from tolerant sanity and closer to France, Belgium, and the city of Lleida (Lérida) in Spanish Catalunya. The major argument against the ban on the veil is two-fold, half of which is alluded to in the Guardian article linked above.  It is an accepted fact that there are women in Europe who are forced to wear the burqa by their husbands, families, brothers, or societies.  This, I will agree, … Continue reading Dan Savage in a Burqa

Cloud-Cuckoo Land

Now, I don’t often devote that much thought to economics, much less try to crystallise my thoughts into words, so I’m free to be proven wrong on this one.  But let’s have a quick look at the following sentence, taken from CNN’s report on yesterday’s economic plummeting: In their single worst day since the 2008 financial crisis, stocks plunged Thursday, with the Dow tumbling 512 points, as fear about the global economy spooked investors. If we focus on the important parts of this statement, we get two facts: the stocks plunged, and this was sparked by fears about the state … Continue reading Cloud-Cuckoo Land