One of the few enjoyable things to emerge from the latest Wikileak is Cable #06MOSCOW9533. It’s an American diplomat’s experience of a wedding, and oh so much more. It could be Gary Shteyngart doing immersive reporting for Vanity Fair, but with so much real-life political intrigue, history, and stories of assassination attempts sprinkled among the sheer comedy, maybe it’s more Junot Díaz.
There’s the embassy staff taking a trip in a Rolls Royce with Kalashnikovs at their feet, choristers with little swords and shields, and a wedding singer shot days before his scheduled performance. Then Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov turns up with a gift of a five kilo lump of gold, people start showering dancers with benjamins, and the diplomat is offered protection by a drunk academic from a local university.
(The single article that you’ll want to read on the whole leak is “Cables Obtained by WikiLeaks Shine Light Into Secret Diplomatic Channels” in the Times.)
As Louis C.K says, “everything is amazing and nobody is happy.” Recent events have shown that politicians must never be so blunt.
British politician Lord Young had to step down from a high profile role after repeating the phrase of ’50s optimism when he said to the British public, ”You’ve Never Had it So Good.” No matter how true that claim is, it’s not a very clever thing to say as Britain and Europe continue to deal with multiple aftershocks of the Great Recession.
Similar thing in Japan where the justice minister had to quit after revealing that his job wasn’t very difficult. It’s nice when politicians tell it how it is, it’s just a shame that honesty gets you fired.
From a series on Europe’s growing anti-immigrant sentiment, a Guardian report from Little Wenzhou in Prato, Italy. 50,000 Chinese citizens, most from Wenzhou, produce cheap garments with ”Made in Italy” labels. Conditions in the workshops are poor, and China is encouraging the firms to return home, a sentiment shared by the Italian police and far-right politicians. The Times has also covered Little Wenzhou recently, with a revealing slideshow.
Having recently lost my day job, rising to fourth on the global highscore table of the iPhone game Space Miner Blast is the sort of quantitive validation of my abilities that I need right now.
Here are some other ways I’m quantifying (and validating) my day through imagined placings in fictional high-score lists:
- #6: Time Spent Reading Coetzee While Sat on a Toilet
- #1: Longest Article Published with a 50 Cent Pun
- #878: Time Spent listening to Girl Talk’s new album
- And I imagine a lot of people spent time scrubbing mold today, but not while assisted by two cats, so I’m definitely today’s champion of that particular spore & paw chore. (Coetzee makes hard labor involving animals feel very worthy.)
Despite all that it remains true, always and forever, that “the easier it is to quantify, the less it’s worth.” 2,766 followers on Twitter? Bigger than Jesus! 9 likes on Facebook? King of the Playground! Helping an elderly neighbor take out her garbage every Tuesday night and taking her to church when the bus doesn’t show? That’s more like it.
In that spirit I’d like to send notice to J.M. Coetzee, Girl Talk, and iPhone game developer Venan Entertainment Inc. that you all made another day of financial insecurity slightly more bearable. My mind has been expanded, stimulated, and engaged by each of you beyond what any high-score can reveal.
And yes, by “liking” this post on Tumblr you both validate me and you make me kinda sad. TMN’s Rosecrans Baldwin put it best in a recent feature:
…I don’t “like” you. I never did. I happen to like you much more than that and for reasons that exceed a character limit. But that crap doesn’t micro-blog and we shouldn’t let it.
When there’s a writer reviewing one concert for two different publications, the review will of course differ in tone and style, but it will surely come to the same conclusion. Not so when Ed Power reviewed a Gorillaz show in Dublin.
In the Irish Times he explained, “this charming irascible performance surely rates as one of the gigs of the year.” Slightly different review for the Telegraph: ”Headlining Glastonbury should have been final affirmation of Gorillaz progress from novelty ‘virtual’ band to pop contenders of genuine substance. Instead, it was a bit of a let-down.”
The LA Times has a great multimedia feature about the new big wave surfing season in the Pacific. But away from the Pacific there are many big waves to be enjoyed—in France, England, and most interestingly, Ireland.
My bodyboarding brother won’t tell you exactly where, but every year for the last few he’s been going to Ireland’s west coast. To get to the spot you go down some incredibly narrow goat-paths and along dangerous ledges that were dynamited so people wouldn’t be stupid enough to stand there and fish, what with the surge of big waves and all. It’s one of surfing’s least well-known big wave spots but it has huge potential. When the conditions are right it can top 50ft.
The surfers at these spots in Ireland have been likened to polar explorers for the breakthroughs being made. Big wave surfing won’t stop Ireland from needing an EU bailout, but it could wash a little surf-tourism gold onto the beaches.
Just don’t anger the locals. My brother had his tent thrown off a cliff by angry locals who friendly locals said were ex-IRA. They may have been kidding, but it’s a reminder when you’re out there without Billabong and Rip Curl picking up the tab or helicoptering you in, the risk of chasing the big waves begins long before you hit the water. And also long after the wave has peaked; the moment you leave a big wave, you’re in danger from the frothing fortress of water behind it. It’s important to have jet-skis to hand to pick you up and get you the hell out.
Remember the recession? Wasn’t it great. What a great recession. It was especially good for the repo-men at the executive, high-end of the repossession business. Jets, children, cars, sometimes even children in cars, are ripe for repossession when the money’s right.
And then there’s Max Hardberger who steals back stolen cargo ships. In one case, after Haitian port police tried to seize a vessel, he got them drunk and locked them in a cabin while the tanker quietly left Haitian waters. He later released the police in a lifeboat. Distraction seems to be Hardberger’s primary tactic, having used witch-doctors and prostitutes in similar situations.
He should team up with the ex-London taxi-driver Dahir Abdullahi Kadiye who helped organize this weekend’s release of the two Brits held hostage in Somalia for the last year. Together they could surely crash the Somalia Pirate Stock Exchange.
It’s no wonder that Hardberger explains, “There’s talk of a Hollywood movie and a videogame of my life.” You know what that movie and videogame should be called? HARDBERGER.
Aung San Suu Kyi is on the verge of release after spending most of the last 20 years under house-arrest. I make it 5,497 days.
It’s unlikely to be an unconditional release and Suu Kyi may even refuse release if her political activity is limited.
Changes are happening quickly in Myanmar. This month’s elections were the first in 20 years. Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, boycotted them and was subsequently made illegal. Just before the elections the military junta created a new national anthem and a new boring flag. The NLD’s flag (pictured) is much better, with the fighting peacock symbolizing the fight for democracy.
Yes, peacocks do fight. They even fight goats. The peacock will fight you for 5,497 days and the peacock will win.
Leaders of an international organ-trafficking scheme have been arrested for trafficking foreign nationals into Kosovo in order to cut out their organs. One of the accused is Illir Rrecag, a former senior health ministry official who is being prosecuted by EU justice workers helping get the country into shape.
The EU officials seem to be doing their job. Can’t say the same for Dr. Rrecaj, fired after suspicions were raised in 2008. A quick search reveals that Rrecaj appeared in the program for the UN conference helped establish PROVISIONAL INSTITUTIONS OF SELF-GOVERNMENT. Rrecaj’s job title? “Director of Department for Strategic Management, Ministry of Health.”