February 22nd, 2011

Semiformalishmaybe

Buildings Made of Poetry

A few days ago, I had my first barefoot run since Winter began; I'm looking forward to getting back in shape (yearly cycle). Of course, the day afterwards Pittsburgh saw an amazing snowstorm that shut down the bus system for the evening.

When British voters tossed Labour out of power, we saw a coalition between the Tories (under David Cameron) and the Liberals (Nick Clegg) take over. I've never been impressed by Cameron; he's an American-style politician, focused on appearance rather than substance. Clegg's more interesting because he has some substantial opinions and ideas (perhaps I'll write about him some other time). The Tory-Liberal alliance has been uncomfortable, with many Liberals unhappy at the need to temper their criticism of their senior partner. The issue of electoral reform is coming up, and it's one of the biggest priorities of the Liberal-Democratic Party. The difference within the coalition could hardly be more striking.Collapse )

It's been interesting to see Libya come apart as a state; when military and diplomats break with the state, and regions give central government forces the boot, what comes next? When a political or military person decides that they represent the people rather than the state, we no longer can predict their actions (and how do they get paid? What laws or priorities do they support?). For a terrible leader, Qadaffi has a lot of ideas, and the basic structure of governance he set up (popular councils) would've been a great experiment had he let them be instruments of local governance rather than having used them as tools to locate dissidents and squash them. It would be interesting if they turn out to be the one thing kept after the dust settles and his regime ends (provided it does). Unsurprisingly, the UN and US are providing the same terrible advice to everyone listening: "keep it civil and peaceful". Qadaffi is uniquely untrustworthy; the area won't be safe until he and his sons are either permanently out of the country or dead. It is unwise to negotiate with someone who uses his military to drop bombs on crowds of protesters.

A few comments relating to an event discussing the role of women in secular groupsCollapse )