For the record: I got the Final Cut Edition of Blade Runner. I really liked the movie beforehand, but this is simply one of the most extraordinary sci-fi movies ever made. I cannot recommend it enough. Plus, remember those light-up umbrellas everyone in the super-rainy LA carried around? Yeah, someone makes those. Cool.
- The most important unknown battle of World War II—between the USSR and Japan along the Mongolian border in 1939.
- Steppe Magazine ran an article by neweurasia.net’s Ben Paarmann on blogging in Central Asia. Both Nathan and I are quoted in the piece, discussing the rise of blogs in the region and in my case the growing development of local blogs in Afghanistan. It’s a neat look into the rise of citizen’s media in one of the most under-reported, yet vitally important, regions of the planet.
- Another under-reported trend the last year was the crippling rise in food prices. This was partially driven by the growing U.S. focus on ethanol fuels, but also by several failed crops. It has been particularly acute in Tajikistan, but apparently also in Pakistan. It is interesting to see the “Feudal Lords” implicated in Pakistan’s food crisis—think failed Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto—and that the elite anger over Musharraf’s autocracy might spill over into popular anger against his highly ineffective (in so many ways) government. But hey, only the liberal media hates Uncle Pervy, right?
- Interestingly, 40 years ago a U.S. diplomat was warning that close collaboration with Pakistan’s military would be “our greatest blunder. How disturbingly prescient. And how annoying these voices of caution were ignored in the blind zeal to “bleed” the Soviets, among other short-term regional concerns. This is my worry behind arming the NWFP tribes: short term decisions with no long-term framework.
- Moises Naím begs America to come back as the only effective instrument of combating anarchy. The key bit: “the America that the world wants back is not the one that preemptively invades potential enemies, bullies allies, or disdains international law… The demand is for an America that enforces the rules that facilitate international commerce and works effectively to stabilize an accident-prone global economy.” The current field of presidential contenders leaves me unhappy about the prospect of this return.
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