April 23, 2009

Politicans and Pirates

I was reading this excellent interview that Lynda Hurst from The Star conducted with Joshua Cooper Ramo the other day. Nah, I didn't know who he was either. But the man has done a mighty fine job of explaining perhaps the main reason our world is going to hell. And not just behind our backs, but with a healthy assist from our sorely misguided ways.

"What's happening today is that our intentions don't just fail, they backfire on us," says the Beijing-based geo-strategy analyst. "We deliver the opposite of what we intend because we so misunderstand the way the system now works."

Politicians, economists, religious leaders, everyone. Grand bang-ups because everything - everything - has changed. And his warning? It will now continue to change at warp speed. There is no going back, and we are seriously deluded if we believe it might. Victors will be those who process information immediately, change focus and turn ship in the blink of an eye. It's like if Darwin met up with Captain Kirk. And if he has in some episode, I never watched that show, so don't remind me.

As I was mulling over this concept (and trying to gauge how quickly I could process the ideas), I read the latest missive from my favourite Vanity Fair contributor, William Langewiesche. He's written on the Somali pirates. As always, it's a riveting piece.

But. I tripped over this part, as Langewiesche describes the behaviour of these pirates who have been repeatedly represented in the press as ragtag cutthroats:

"A warship coming at you is supposed to present an intimidating sight. But it was as if the pirates inhabited a different dimension from that of the governments confronting them. With nothing but a group of French nationals as a shield, they were enjoying meals, going back and forth between ship and shore, and negotiating directly with the Saad├ęs in Marseille, as if the French Navy did not even exist. The pattern was unusually frustrating to French authorities, as more recent piracy cases have been to American, Russian, and Chinese authorities. It raised disturbing questions about the relevance of governments and the exercise of power. More specifically, a suspicion crept in that these pirates knew exactly what they were doing, and that they understood the forces at play with more sophistication than had been assumed."

And the interview with Ramo came back. This is a perfect example of what he's talking about - that people we think will know what to do, don't. And perhaps its long past time that we look to someone - anyone - to lead. We're going to need people who have developed their views outside of the political process, which has become so corrupt and inbred that parties matter little, and promises matter less.

It's also time we quit feeding ourselves a steady stream of McNews and garbage because we're too lazy to realize that Hollywood is entertainment, Nancy Grace is a moron, CNN can only write headlines, and our newscasts have been reduced to 40% content about the local weather which we can figure out for ourselves by opening the damned door.

The Hurst piece is eye-opening; the pirate one is a fabulous read. It's the weekend - what else are you gonna do?

Found this the day after I wrote the above. In Salon. More commentary on how to (not) handle the pirate problem. Where's Johnny Depp when you need him?


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