Archive for February 5th, 2008

State-sponsored protection racket?

Last week police said they feared dissident republicans were preparing a series of firebomb attacks.

And the week before that, charges against dissident republicans (I am always wary of using the word dissident to describe these people since it implies a capacity to use reason) were dropped, because it looked as though there was a state-sponsored agent provocateur acting as their mastermind. The attacks were said at the time to have caused damage of £25 million.

Worth ignoring.

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Rough Trade

Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism, by Ha-Joon Chang, appears to be causing a bit of a stir at the minute. I finished it yesterday. It’s a punchy and confrontational engagement with dominant neo-liberal economic doctrine. His style at times strikes one as an wittily ironic imitation of the Big Idea economist-commentator. Basically, the book shows how rich nations -the US, the UK, Japan- developed their economies via protectionist measures, and how the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO -the tools of rich nations- shaft the world’s poor countries by forcing them to conform to economic policies that prevent them from developing their own economies.

This lecture above is a good and amusing overview of the book’s thesis.

Bag O’Shite

Within weeks, plastic bag use dropped 94 percent. Within a year, nearly everyone had bought reusable cloth bags, keeping them in offices and in the backs of cars. Plastic bags were not outlawed, but carrying them became socially unacceptable — on a par with wearing a fur coat or not cleaning up after one’s dog.

The New York Times visits Ireland. Since when was not cleaning up after one’s dog not socially acceptable in Ireland? I thought it was a national pastime. Every time I take the child out for a walk with the buggy it feels like I’m in a recording of It’s A Knockout.

When I used to clean up after a dog, I did so with a plastic bag and a very thick glove, since pooper-scoopers can cramp one’s dog walking style considerably. If the situation now obtaining in Ireland is as the NYT describes, I would have to wear an even thicker glove these days.


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