Saudi Arabia as a tourist destination

Well, who wouldn’t want to watch a public execution by beheading?

Well, OK, perhaps lots of people actually. But there’s nothing like niche marketing these days, is there? Actually, you could probably (do I mean probably? No, certainly) make a very pretty penny indeed by charging exorbitant sums and guaranteeing that there will indeed be the fun at the mosque, Friday after prayers. 5 day trip to Dubai for the booze and the hookers, Friday arvo’ off in the copter to whichever Saudi town is having one.

Depending on how much the Saudis want to go for this tourist thing you might even get them to schedule for you. Possibly even arrange to up the rate. Well, maybe not that last but I bet ISIS would….

How to read a Russian news story

Authorities in Moscow have threatened to finally outlaw the city’s beloved shawarma kebabs, claiming that the stalls that sell them have repeatedly failed to comply with sanitation standards.

“We are ridding the streets of all shawarma. It’s going to disappear completely,” city official Alexey Nemeryuk told Russian radio station Komsomolskaya Pravda.

The head of the Moscow department of trade and services added that kiosk owners had refused “to bear even the slightest costs of maintaining proper sanitation standards”.

Those slightest costs being a few readies as backhanders to the inspectors. That’s just how the place works.

This just in from Glenn Greenwald’s boyfriend

The story of Brazil’s political crisis, and the rapidly changing global perception of it, begins with its national media. The country’s dominant broadcast and print outlets are owned by a tiny handful of Brazil’s richest families, and are steadfastly conservative. For decades, those media outlets have been used to agitate for the Brazilian rich, ensuring that severe wealth inequality (and the political inequality that results) remains firmly in place.

Indeed, most of today’s largest media outlets – that appear respectable to outsiders – supported the 1964 military coup that ushered in two decades of rightwing dictatorship and further enriched the nation’s oligarchs. This key historical event still casts a shadow over the country’s identity and politics. Those corporations – led by the multiple media arms of the Globo organisation – heralded that coup as a noble blow against a corrupt, democratically elected liberal government. Sound familiar?

Trying to impeach the President over the mass looting of the state oil company, Petrobras, is all something cooked up by the plutocrat owned media.

Well, yes, it’s a view I suppose.

Canadians sure are weird

The Internet was abuzz with praise for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Saturday after clips showing him schooling an reporter on quantum computing went viral.

Trudeau was a maths teacher. What a weird damn society when teachers actually know something about their own subject. It’ll never catch on.

Slightly difficult about Czechia

When citizens of the Czech Republic awake on Friday morning – perhaps from uneasy dreams – they are likely to find that things have changed.

But unlike the bodily transformations undergone by Gregor Samsa, the protagonist in Czech novelist Franz Kafka’s best-known work, they may be about to witness a metamorphosis of national magnitude.

Czech leaders, fed up with their country’s long and complicated full name, have proposed changing it to a single word with just three syllables: Czechia.

In a joint statement, the president, prime minister and other senior officials said they would ask the UN to update its database of geographical names with the new title, in the hope that it might take root before the country competes in the Olympics this summer.

Because inside the country there’s something of a dual meaning. Bohemia and Moravia (and a very small slice of the old Silesia) make up the Czech Republic. And sure, we could say Czechia for the whole. But within the country, at least to the Bohemians, Czechs are Bohemians and Moravians are Moravians. The meaning can slide around a bit: depends a bit upon context.

But I have noted what I thought to be rather amusing, a sign in a wine shop window. “We have Moravian wine” and another one by it “We have Czech wine”. When I asked, well, obviously, Czech means Bohemian and Moravian, Moravian. But, but, Moravia is in Czech! Well, yes and no…..

A thought about Red Indians

Descendants of a bison herd captured and sent to Canada more than a century ago will be relocated to a Montana Native American reservation next month, in what tribal leaders bill as a homecoming for a species emblematic of their traditions.

The shipment of animals from Alberta’s Elk Island National Park to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation follows a 2014 treaty among tribes in the United States and Canada. That agreement aims to restore bison to areas of the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains where millions once roamed.

“For thousands of years the Blackfeet lived among the buffalo here. The buffalo sustained our way of life, provided our food, clothing, shelter,” Blackfeet chairman Harry Barnes said. “It became part of our spiritual being. We want to return the buffalo.”

Is that actually true though? This is one of those things that I just don’t know and I have a feeling that going and looking it up would lead to rather a lot of propaganda and not much clarity.

OK, Plains Indians. Definitely there when the Whites started pushing West. There when Lewis and Clark went out 50 odd years earlier. But were they there 300 years before that?

The Plains technology of the time, when the whites got there, depended upon the horse. But the native American horse had been extinct for 10,000 years. Those mustangs and all were descendants of horses that escaped from the Spanish, further South and perhaps also right over on the West Coast. And thus there just weren’t any pre-1500.

Yes, there were very definitely Indians around, settled agricultural communities in the South, fishing and shellfish based ones on the West Coast, farming ones in Nevada, Arizona etc, people all over the East Coast. But out on the plains? Were there really foot based (the largest pack animal was the dog) tribes trying to live off the buffalo out on the plains?

I don’t know and I could imagine it either way. The horse provided the technology to be able to exploit that ecological niche. Or perhaps there really were people doing it on foot. Thing is, does anyone know?

A related question: have there been extensive DNA studies of the different tribes? Do we have a family tree of who split off from whom and when? We are, after all, pretty sure that there was just the one irruption through Alaska (may have been more, but we think only one survived) so it would be rather like that irruption of the Germanic tribes into Europe, sorting themselves out into Lombards, Vandals, Visigoths, Franks, Angles and Saxons and so on. Bit earlier to be sure but……has this ever been done?

Handbags Gentlemen, Handbags

But what we want to know is who won?

They have faced each other in battle many times, but the rivalry between the Royal Navy and French Marine Nationale on Wednesday night erupted in pitched fighting not on the sea, but the rugby field.
A match between the two navies in the southern French city of Toulon was marred by a large punch up which at one time appeared to involve almost all the players on the pitch and several on the touchline.
Video of the fight showed many of the Royal Navy, in grey, and French navy, in blue, trading blows and grappling during the melee in the centre of the field in an annual match nicknamed Le Crunch.

Two props were sent off after the clash, one from each side, and the match continued, but the combat failed to inspire the British side captained by Ben Priddey and the match ended in a heavy 28-6 defeat.
Match officials said last night (Thurs) they were compiling a report into the brawl. Naval sources said it was a yet unclear who threw the first punch, but players could face disciplinary action.
One Naval source said: “It kicked off a bit during the match, but they calmed down and the match was finished. They all went for a drink afterwards and there were no hard feelings.”

Ah, the game of rugby won then.

One ancient French business now under more pressure

France’s MPs have voted to reduce the country’s legal quota of French songs played on the radio amid complaints the rule forces DJs to repeatedly play ‘boring’ old French ballads.
Imposed in 1994 to protect France from what the government saw as the “Anglo-Saxon cultural invasion”, the 40 per cent quota is increasingly making life difficult for programmers because a high proportion of young French artists such as Daft Punk are now singing in English to attract a more international audience. The quota will now be lowered to 35 per cent.

That ancient business being to manufacture popette records to fill that quota. Find something vaguely popular in English. Re-record the backing track with session musos, translate the lyrics, get some unemployed teenager to sing it, collect the money. Most of which is in the radio play royalties for the lyrics because the actual track hardly ever sells a bean.

With careful control of costs and a reasonable ear for what will play a nice little earner.

Black footie bags go out of style

To keep pace with the changing times, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is giving itself the biggest makeover in its history — its unique khaki knickers will make way for trousers to help the organization achieve resonance with the youth.
Increasing its cadre base, understandably has emerged as the prime objective of the RSS at its three-day Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS)—annual conclave of the RSS at Nagaur in Rajasthan, which began on 11 March.
Though the colour of trousers has not yet been finalized, it is expected to be either grey or blue. There has been churning going on within the Sangh for replacing its age-old traditional khaki knickers (flared knee-length shorts) with full length trousers.

Wodehouse was joking about the fascists using shorts as their uniform.

Nowt odd about this

For the guardians of French gastronomy, the prospect of being served something as unsophisticated as a slab of mincemeat with a bap and slice of cheese would long have been considered sacrilegious.
Today, however, the tables have turned. In a culinary revolution, three quarters of French restaurants now sell hamburgers and 80 per cent of these say it has become their top-selling dish, according to a new study.
“Le burger” – as the French dub the quintessentially American invention to the despair of linguistic purists of the Académie Française – has become a feature of even the most illustrious eateries.

Hache au pain avec fromage sounds rather more sophisticated though, doesn’t it?

Of course, as Rincewind always notes, it’s the having it with avec that makes is so posh.

Spark a renewed sense of pride in India’s manufacturing

Well, yes, sparked something at least.

makeinindia

Ahem:

All aspects including sabotage angle will be investigated while ascertaining the cause of the massive fire that gutted the stage during a cultural programme at the Make in India Week event in Mumbai on Sunday night attended by many VIPs, an official said on Monday.
Fire brigade authority has begun an inquiry into the blaze. “We will probe all aspects, including finding out if there was a sabotage angle involved,” a fire brigade official said. No casualties were reported as the venue at the Girgaum Chowpatty area was emptied within minutes.
As the audience scrambled to safety, Firstpost reporter Sanjay Sawant heard strains of soundbites like these: “Maharashtra ki barah baj gayi” which, loosely translated, means the State’s image has taken a good beating.

That Swedish paradise

The Swedish state has a dark history of persecuting the Sami, banning the Sami languages from schools, while Sweden’s National Institute for Race Biology from 1922 spearheaded a sterilisation programme which saw many Sami women rendered infertile.

Well, yes, Stalin faced much the same problem. How are you going to make happy little government campers of people who camp without government?

Those who would have an ordered society do tend to try to wipe out the nomads.

There’s a reason for this

Government spending is 97.8% of GDP.

By 2008 unemployment had risen to 94%

That being:

A white Zimbabwean farmer has been handcuffed and forcibly removed from his farm after police stormed the property to enforce a claim made by a British doctor.
Phillip Rankin was first ordered off his tobacco farm in September last year following a claim for land made by Dr Sylvester Nyatsuro, who was born in Zimbabwe but now has British citizenship.
….
Dr Nyatsuro, a 45-year-old GP who runs a slimming clinic in Nottingham, arrived at the tobacco farm, Kingston Deverill, in September with a letter from the government allocating the land to him.
Political sources in Harare suggested the doctor – whom Mr Rankin said was accompanied by his wife, Veronica and government officials, had family connections to Grace Mugabe, the president’s wife.

It’s not all that difficult. Take productive assets from those who use them productively and hand them over to those who have no fucking clue and your economy goes down the toilet.

This is true whatever we want to say about race, colonialism, socialism, or Uncle Tom Cobbleigh. It’s just fucking lunacy.

Not something I’d really thought about

The University of California has acknowledged that its negligence was a substantial factor in the death of former California football player Ted Agu.

The 21-year-old defensive lineman from Bakersfield died nearly two years ago after a strenuous team workout. His family filed a wrongful death lawsuit, arguing that Agu had sickle cell trait and should not have been put through an exercise in which players sprinted up and down a hill while holding a rope together.

Given the degree to which African American descent is from West Africa and the subsequent mixing of genes all over the place the US must be one of the few wealthy countries where sickle cell is a significant (as opposed to a distinctly minority, it’s always significant for those who have it) health danger in this manner.

Just never really thought about it before.

I mean we could write this story the other way around, parts of America are still driving unpaid young black men to their deaths through overwork. But that would be unkind.