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Thursday, May 10, 2001
self-determination (via arts&letters)

Mogadishu has the closest thing to an Ayn Rand-style economy that the world has ever seen—no bureaucracy or regulation at all. The city has had no government since 1991, when the much despised President Mohammed Siad Barre was overthrown; his regime was replaced not by another one but by civil war. The northern regions of Somaliland and Puntland have stabilized under autonomous governments, but southern Somalia, with Mogadishu at its core, has remained a Mad Max zone carved up by warlords for whom fighting seems as necessary as oxygen. The prospect of stability is a curious miracle, not simply because the kind of business development that is happening tends to require the presence of a government, but because the very absence of a government may have helped to nurture an African oddity—a lean and efficient business sector that does not feed at a public trough controlled by corrupt officials.

Similarly, the lack of large-scale (and often corrupting) foreign aid might have benefits as well as drawbacks. Somali investors are making things happen, not waiting for them to happen. For example, on the outskirts of town, on a plot of land the size of several football fields and surrounded by twenty-foot-high walls, workers recently completed a $2 million bottling plant. Everyone refers to it as "the Pepsi factory," even though Pepsi is not involved. The project's investors say the plant will become a Pepsi factory: they figure that if they begin producing soft drinks, Pepsi or some other international company will want to get in on the market.

Wednesday, May 9, 2001
bob"new school"kerrey's account disputed by witnesses (via drudge)

Until a week ago, nobody talked much about what happened in February 1969. "This sort of thing was very common during the war," said Vo Ngoc Chau, a fisherman and former Viet Cong guerrilla who still walks around with a green military helmet. "There were so many innocent people who were killed."

No one here spoke angrily about the United States. "There was a time when I wanted to take revenge on Americans," Luom said. "I bore a lot of hatred toward them." Now, she said, she would just like an acknowledgment of responsibility. "They should admit what they did," she said. "And they should apologize to us."

jeff"MoT"dorchen's take on the thanh phong massacre (via robotwisdom)

If we don't remember this key aspect of the war against Indochina we run the risk of slipping into the complacent stance that 'all people really just want to do what's right-- like in the Vietnam War, our good intentions just got totally out of hand, and it just kept snowballing into this monster no one could stop.' No, there are people who have no such desire to do what's right, they're perfectly happy to do what they know to be so horrible that they'd rather kill innocent people than let it be discovered.

I mean some people-- they'd rather force others into poverty, misery, death, than give up a cent of potential profit. Chevron would rather help the Nigerian government kill some upstart villagers with concerns about their land than even negotiate with them. Just bring in the helicopters and mow 'em down.

also scientists discover sense of self! it's in the right frontal lobe, up there with mentalizing i guess (right prefrontal cortex :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2001
the empire that was russia (via wood s lot :)

also a new ancient civilization! (zoroastrian oasis cities :)

oh and counterfactual research news referenced by synthetic zero (apr. 26 #2) and suck recently

Monday, May 7, 2001
castles full of air

Cartoonist cranks, to be sure, are nothing new. Daily comics were midwifed by one of America's great cranks, William Randolph Hearst, the media tycoon who started wars, baited commies, and held Hollywood hostage for decades with a gossip columnist to get his actress-girlfriend a job. Hearst, a Harvard Lampoon alum, had a taste for building whimsical castles and ranches full of odd relics and creatures. Hearst used cartoons for comic relief from the wars and flu epidemics that raged throughout his sensationalist papers. The argument that Hearst made up the world for his readers is valid, too, but it was more obvious in the comics.

And Cartooning, more than any other art form, is the crank's paradise. It's the art of perfecting our imperfect world. Filmmakers mold reality, taking what's actually here and making us see it their way. Novelists give impressions of reality, but impressions that we have to finish with our imaginations. Cartoonists get to create everything — people, houses, dogs, bottles, mud, God — and they get to do it their way. Or, as one titan of crankdom, Mr. Rush Limbaugh, might put it, "the way things ought to be."

Sunday, May 6, 2001

greens in pennsylvania

smokin riceboys

Saturday, May 5, 2001
gaea girls

saw this when i was in san francisco. it has some of the nicest, toughest women you'll ever see on the big screen. afterwards there was a q&a with takeuchi saika and nagayo chigusa! they were really cool, it was pretty awesome :)

Friday, May 4, 2001
stoned on the lawn
stoned in the grass
the tombstones rise up
like chess pieces in glass

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