Economics and similar, for the sleep-deprived

A subtle change has been made to the comments links, so they no longer pop up. Does this in any way help with the problem about comments not appearing on permalinked posts, readers?

Update: seemingly not

Update: Oh yeah!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Poetry Corner

Coincidence? I suspect otherwise:

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass

We are the Diddymen
Doddy's dotty diddy men
We are the Diddymen
So let the cymbal crash
With diddy hats and diddy smocks
Money in our diddy box
We are the Diddymen
And we come from Knotty Ash

Update! Nick S, in comments, points out that it didn't stop there:

We are the cheeky girls
You are the cheeky boys
You are the cheeky boys
I never ever ask where do you go
I never ever ask what do you do
I never ever ask whats in your mind
I never ever ask if you’ll be mine
Come and smile don’t be shy
Touch my bum this is life.

12 comments this item posted by the management 8/31/2009 10:58:00 AM

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Ballad of Frederick Chiluba

This week in Zambian politics:

Monday, 9am: Former Prime Minister Chiluba facing prison, for embezzlement. Hurray for the new Africa, etc, fighting back against all that corruption that concern trolls like William Easterly tell us is their real problem, not starvation or cholera. Hear the mighty voice of neoliberal Decency:

"Today's dictator [sic - it is perhaps a little alarming that Sullivan remains unaware that Chiluba was actually Zambia's first elected Prime Minister] could be tomorrow's defendant," said Michael Sullivan QC, who led the successful civil action against Chiluba at the high court in London two years ago. "Politicians of all sorts are forever talking about the need to fight corruption; here is an historic example of the fight in action. It is widely believed that this trial will have great repercussions for the rest of Africa.

Chiluba, president between 1991 and 2001, was effectively the author of his own downfall when he anointed his successor, Levy Mwanawasa.

Mwanawasa smashed any sense of cosy patronage by launching an anti-corruption drive that investigated Chiluba's time in office. The outspoken Mwanawasa also strongly criticised Robert Mugabe, the president of neighbouring Zimbabwe.

Sullivan said: "He [Mwanawasa] was no puppet. He pursued the case as a lawyer, not for political reasons. He had a genuine feeling for the plight of his people."

Ahh, the legacy of Levy Mwanawasa. Perhaps the man nicknamed "The Cabbage", who achieved so heartbreakingly little in life, may find some vindication in death, as his crusade against Chiluba is proved to be the one thing he initiated that didn't end up going nowhere.

Monday, 4pm: Zambia clears ex-leader Chiluba. Ah well Levy, better luck next time round, eh?

Thursday: Chiluba asks Zambian parliament to restore his immunity from prosecution.

The point here is that convictions in complicated fraud trials are difficult to get, no less so in Africa than over here. This is another aspect of the neoliberal fantasies about "governance", a magic pony-driven system that roots out corrupt individuals and convicts them. The whole point being that if you've got a stable government and legal system that could deliver this sort of result, then you'd have a stable political economy in which far fewer people would bother to be corrupt because the rewards would be greater from legitimate business.

By the way, no, I have no idea why he's sitting in front of an Israeli flag at that press conference either; Chiluba did restore relations with Israel after Kaunda broke them in the 1970s, and he does appear to believe that Israel is a Christian country (and that Zambia was cursed by God for voting against it at the UN in the Kaunda era).
1 comments this item posted by the management 8/21/2009 07:10:00 AM

Saturday, August 08, 2009

But hey, what if we held a panel discussion on the future of paid content on the Web and everybody came?!?!

I see Matthew is considering "going paywall". Rest assured, readers, that D-Squared Digest still Gets It, is still Web 2.0 (perhaps even 2.1alpha), and will continue to participate in the linkospheric blogversation ecosphere of memefluence, thus continuing with the practices that made this blog so influential back in the days when I used to post regularly and there were only about six weblogs in the world anyway.

Instead, I will be leveraging my franchise by offering my corporate readers the opportunity to sponsor "salons" with D-Squared Digest contributors, thought leaders and assorted hangers-on and local tramps, to be held at the Constitution pub on Georgianna Street. These will offer an opportunity to gain from our insights and form relationships with key players in the blog, in an informal and non-confrontational setting. Yes, basically, what I am offering is the opportunity to pay £50 for the privilege of buying me drinks.

I obviously cannot promise that "sponsorship" of a "salon" will result in more favourable coverage for sponsors or their companies/political parties/institutes for the study of contemporary antisemitism, but well (tongue-click, wink, inclines head) we're all grown-ups here aren't we? A nod's as good as a wink, eh, eh? Come on Denis, you've got my phone number.
7 comments this item posted by the management 8/08/2009 05:55:00 AM

Friday, August 07, 2009

Secret Society Blogging - E Clampus Vitus

One of the more colourful of the drinking societies which were a key part of the secret society craze. Note the parodies of Freemasonry, initial base in the mining industry, etc.

What's interesting about the Argus writeup of the Clampers is that it demonstrates a tension that was always there in the "burlesque fraternities"; the tension between the members for whom it was always just a raucous gang getting drunk and wearing silly hats, and the ones who wanted to make it something more serious. Clampus Vitus came down squarely on the drinking-club side of things, but quite a few societies started out in the same way but tilted in the opposite direction into mysticism or politics. Motorcycle clubs often also show some of the same dynamics; there was a tipping point when the Booze Fighters (basically a bunch of ex-servicemen who liked getting drunk and riding motorbikes) turned into the Hell's Angels (which provided its members with an entire lifestyle). I'd be in the market for a good introductory textbook on anthropology which discussed the extent to which these male-only secret societies are a cultural universal. Robert Anton Wilson fans will also note the clear historical antecendents of Discordianism.

As Ponzi schemes go, the E Clampus Vitus program of forcing new members to buy a round of drinks, on the understanding that they could then profit from drinks bought by future recruits, has a certain charm to it. I rate them a 6/10 on the secret society scale - basically harmless, but they keep showing tendencies toward turning into a historical re-enactment society, which I regard as evidence of fundamental unsoundness (plus you have to watch it with these Californian fraternal orders; a lot of them have quite nasty streaks of nativism, presumably dating back to the days of the Gold Rush, when it really did matter who was here first).

Bonus secrettyblogging: Probably stretching a definition to call the Objectivists a secret society, but Murray Rothbard's essay on "The Sociology Of The Ayn Rand Cult" and short play Mozart Was A Red are always worth a chuckle over.
4 comments this item posted by the management 8/07/2009 02:42:00 AM

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