Human Rights Watch released their annual report today and focussed their criticism on governments in the US and EU for claiming to promote democracy but turning an eye when democracy is ignored by allies and key partners. The report, which naturally also criticises states failing in their duties to protect human rights, referred to the 'democracy charade' enacted by EU/US power, especially considering their dealings with countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Pakistan, Nigeria and Thailand. All of these countries have distinctly anti-democratic regimes in place and yet all are trusted allies or trade partners of the Western bloc which appears so violently pro-democracy in other countries.
The truth is that moral-relativism is the essence of both neo-conservative and traditional colonialist foreign policy. Women, gays and non-Muslims in Saudi Arabia have about as many rights as in Taleban-era Afghanistan. The right have done very well at tricking the less committed supporters of social justice and internationalism through movements like neo-conservatism (Hitchens, Amis et al) and the so called 'Euston Manifesto'. But when it comes to countries with very serious problems who are close allies, the moral-relativists stay silent.
I'm pleased to say that I've kicked the habit of reading and responding to one of the other English language blogs based here in Barcelona province. For several months, I read this blog, craved replying to one or many mistruths, resisted, read on, and gave in. You see, the skill of a contrarian blogger is to cause people to disagree with so many points in each post that their heads verge on explosion. So for more than a week (I didn't want to go public beforehand in case I relapsed), I've avoided looking at this blog. And you know what? My life is actually happier and therefore, according to Socrates, better.
So my advice is do what Socrates says and avoid the sophists: they'll only make you go mad.
Now this is a great song. Recorded originally as Palace, this is taken from Bonnie 'Prince' Billy Sings Palace Greatest Hits. Yeah, he covered himself. Great, huh?
The video was made by Scottish artist, David Shrigley.
An homage to truckers (but not in the way Mark E. Smith would have done it), Horses isn't my favourite Bonnie 'Prince' Billy song, but it's as good a place as any to start.
Music geek note: the video starts with the Domino Records logo. BPB is actually on Drag City Records (my all time favourite gang). Domino are the UK label.
OK so this is breaking news and there aren't many details out yet. But apparently, Microsoft has made an offer to buy Yahoo! for about $44.6bn. They're valuing the web firm at about 60% more per share than the current price, which obviously makes this a staggering move. If it goes ahead (would it be allowed?!), this is the biggest story to hit the web since forever.
It looks to me like this might just go ahead. They've obviously already talked about it.
By the way: I work in this industry and I'm genuinely worried by what this might mean. For various language-related reasons, there's a good chance that plenty of programmers could go jobless if this mega-monopoly deal goes through.
More news as it comes..
Update: Here's the text of the letter Steve Balmer wrote to Yahoo (after the fold):