* LA boycotts Arizona. Arizona threatens to cut off power LA invades Arizona, rounds up supporters of draconian anti-immigrant law and deports them to Mexico. Ok, so I'm making that last part up (though, as Grumpy Owl points out, LA already has their marching music).
On another note, the fight over Arizona's law illustrates a number of interesting breaking points and important shifts. The first is how ill-equipped state lines mostly drawn in the 19th century are to dealing with today's environmental and resource issues. One of the major things states fight about is resources: who's stealing whose water, power, etc. Part of this is because environmental regions are hacked up, pie-style, between any number of arbitrary boundaries. The basic support system for a modern city stretches across many political jurisdictions, something that makes tackling disagreements or problems extremely difficult.
Also, notice that it's LA fighting Arizona: a city versus a state. Within Arizona, Phoenix is notable as a hot-bed of opposition to the law. As more and more people move to cities, they become greater centers of political power, often deeply at odds with the surrounding territory. Forget Red States and Blue States (one of the dumbest political memes of the past decade), look at a more accurate map and you'll see that the biggest political divide is urban-rural.
* New Social Networking Site Changing the Way, Oh, Christ, Forget It "Let someone else report on this bullshit." The Onion goes there. Spectacularly.
* Is the Drug War more militarized than the military? A soldier argues that raids in Afghanistan and Iraq often have more restrictions than SWAT teams busting in the doors of suspected drug traffickers. An interesting read.
* Robot conducts wedding in Tokyo No word yet on if the infernal machine seduced the bride beforehand.
An interesting example of how culture can drive technology as much as the other way around. Japan has more (and often more sophisticated) robots than anywhere else in the world. This is partly because Japan's is a first-world industrial power with the resources to build such devices. However, there's also a cultural fascination that shapes what it builds with that capability, and what ends it's put to.
* Because Every Country is the Best at Something Yes, Japan actually is number 1 in the world in the robotics department. The US leads in, uh, serial killers (send them to fight the robots, I smell a hit movie here). The UK leads in CCTV cameras and France in sugar beets. It's a strange world.
* The French Anti-Burqa Jihad An excellent column by Indian atheist Shikha Dalmia on the crusading and dictatorial impulses behind France's new law. Includes this passage, which could stand to be repeated often:
Nor will it do to justify this ban on grounds that it will save women from having to make painful personal choices. It is not the job of liberal governments to make personal tradeoffs painless--just possible. Giving individuals the right to exit without fearing physical retaliation provides an automatic check on oppressive traditions without taking away the crucial tool that minority communities in liberal polities have to perpetuate themselves: moral suasion. Banning the burqa or the Sikh turban or the Jewish yarmulke is tantamount to telling observant Muslims, Sikhs and Jews that they don't have a right to exist.
Despite years of sectarian
bloodletting, if Indians still intuitively understand this and take a
benign view of the burqa, it is hardly because they are inherently
more rational. It is because their secularism has been shaped by
India's dominant religion--Hinduism--whose non-monotheistic ethos
allows the space for multiple faiths. In this sense, Hinduism is
perhaps more profoundly in sync with liberal tolerance than
More crucially, however, there is nothing in Hinduism that makes an individual's spiritual salvation anyone's business except the individual herself. By contrast, Hitchens, et al, who have been raised in the cradle of a Christian civilization, have imbibed a certain comfort level with the crusading notion that people can--and ought to--be saved even against their will. Hence, it does not matter if Muslim women don't regard the burqa as oppressive. They have to be given sartorial liberation in the same way that the heathens need to be given spiritual liberation.
This is a profoundly anti-liberal and anti-secular idea. Indeed, if the French and Hitchens were serious about either secularism or liberalism, instead of asking Muslim women to shed the burqa, they would be shedding their own proselytizing prejudice against it.
Amen. I've always found it interesting that the anti-Roman Christian sects ended up becoming the heir to the Roman Empire. Similarly, I can't help but wonder if a certain strand of atheism won't end up embodying the crusading and socially meddlesome mentality of its worst foes. The wheel turns...