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Diary
By xth again (Mon Jul 18, 2022 at 05:02:15 AM EST) (all tags)
Blockchain Chicken Farm, Spain, Draghi, Meat Grinders


(Not quite) Read: Blockchain Chicken Farm (Wang)

The title sounds much more evocative than what it is. I imagined a 21st Chinese version of Microserfs. In reality it's a collection of Wired-like essays on "new tech" in China. Including companies using blockchain for proving the provenance of chicken. I tend to forget that food safety (or lack thereof) is a big thing over there. Those parts are interesting, but sadly there are not enough of them.
Most of the book is given over to Wang's political musings. She's your typical woke Silicon Valley twitterati. So there are a lot of discussions on gender which are totally irrelevant to the matter at hand. A whole chapter on black post-colonial thinkers like Sylvia Wynter. Which, again, while interesting in other contexts, have fuck all to do with China and technology. I like e-readers but they deny you the biggest pleasure when faced with a bad book, i.e. tossing it in the fireplace. I left a scathing review in the appropriate websites instead. Not the same. Shame because the good parts are rather good, and I like her understated, concise style.

Holidaying: Spain

Spent a week in Andalusia with The Boy before joining the rest of the family in Madrid. What better place to spend a record breaking heatwave than Southern Spain! I always have a fantastic time there, I find it easy to click with the people. The Boy is old enough to stay in the hotel by himself at night, but not old enough to party with the grown ups. So it worked out. The only issue with Spain, as usual, the food. The current popularity of veganism made things slightly better in the cities. But in small places there was still too much "I thought you said it had no meat" "But that's not meat, that's ham" :roll-eyes: One can only eat so much patatas bravas / cheese / spanish tortilla. Still, restaurants had installed little devices that would spray cold water mist on customers eating outside, so there's that.
We were also disappointed we couldn't take our planned day trip to Morocco. I said "planned", but had we planned it we would have known it was Eid and everything was shut for three days. It's only the biggest festival in the Muslim calendar... Oh well. On the plus side the Alhambra, and Granada. I never tire of visiting them. What a magnificent historical monument! Makes a mockery of those who say Islam is inherently backward. Especially if compared to the equivalent Christian palaces of the time. I mean at the end of the day they are both Abrahamic religions so fundamentally flawed. But Islam's Golden Age wasn't worse than Christianity's. Admittedly, that was a long time ago. Anyway, the Boy was suitably impressed, even though we struggled with the heat.

Despairing: Draghi

Bojos' chaotic ending to a chaotic premiership made global news. Many commentators lamented that British politics had sunk to the level of the Italians. Who, fearing they were about to be outdone, decided to end their government too. Take that, Perfidious Albionians! So much for "government of national unity".
Draghi, formerly head of the European Central Bank, isn't a politician. The Italian President appointed him as there was no working majority in parliament. The EU demanded the country for once put a grown up in charge and got some shit done. All the large parties agreed to support his getting-shit-done-without-haggling program. Including the populist Five Stars Movement.
A web marketing firm created the 5* Movement back in 2009, following the Pirate Party template. But behind the Pirate's "direct democracy" façade they installed a strong, authoritarian leadership. Which allowed them to flourish and do very well at the last elections. Unlike Europe's various Pirate Parties who disappeared because of infighting and a lack of direction. It's an interesting social experiment. They recruited from the Left and ecologists (who never had a party) and governed with the Right. They rubbed shoulders with Steve Bannon. Who has been living in Rome for a while, and who claims he has learned a lot from them.
Activists would vote for policies on their boards. Using closed source software written by the marketing firm, running on their servers. The Leadership decides when an issue is important enough to warrant a vote. Then manage the votes and count the results. To nobody's surprise, the results always match the Leadership's wishes. The reward for being active on the discussion boards is the prospect to be hand-picked as candidates in the general elections. The chance of a lifetime for people with few qualifications and little work experience. Join the Movement, and you can win a job in Parliament! Rich pension for life! It's a deranged version of reality TV.
The last elections in 2018 came at the peak of their popularity. About 200 of them got elected. They took part in a coalition government. The guy who became interior minister was a law student who had dropped out and never qualified. His only real world experience a sunday job selling sandwiches at local football matches. This is the lot who just refuse to vote in support of the government of which they themselves are part. Without actually resigning from it. Yes, they are that bright. There is also the issue that many of them are pro-Putin. Draghi had enough and resigned. It's still touch and go whether the resignation is final, but it looks pretty bad at the moment.
Being in government broke them, they did abysmally at the latest local elections. They look likely to become extinct as a party. Politics is not as much fun as they thought from the inside. Now they just want to go home, the poor darlings. But they also kind of don't because they don't have jobs to go back to. The coming elections are almost certain to give us a far right coalition. With two flavour of fascists - the Steve Bannon protégé, on the rise, and potential first female PM ever. And the Putin protégé, in decline, who was already in government with the 5* before Draghi. Plus Berlusconi, by now senile, but still able to command enough boomers votes to be essential for a majority. He's now the voice the reason - sounds absurd, but then again George Bush sounded reasonable under Trump... The only good thing about the Bannon protégé is that she's staunchly pro-NATO, hence anti-Putin. Interesting times ahead.

Not as bad as: Meat Grinders

That sounds bad, but not half as bad as what is allegedly going on across the Adriatic Sea in Serbia. I was reading on Twitter about the exploits of the president and the foreign minister there. Heavily involved with drug trafficking, they have been known to torture people. The put them through a meat grinder and distribute the mince to local restaurants. Jesus F Christ. I can see why they are the Russians' darlings.
And that is all.
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