Every January, Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky take to the WELL's public "Inkwell" conference for a "State of the World" discussion that ranges far and wide over the previous year and the year to come. Reading this is one of the highlights of my new year, every year, and this year is no exception.
I happen to be in Belgrade again -- I'll be here a few more days --
and things certainly have gone swimmingly for the current Serbian
government. I don't know anyone anywhere who expected the "Radikalni"
to do so well, once in power. Who would have thought that a political
party called "Radicals" would actually be radicals?
The Radikalni do genuinely radical things, by local standards. They
make people pay taxes. They inspect things. They punish corruption.
They negotiate with former enemies, sign treaties and build
infrastructure. They feed the living and they bury the dead, and boy
do they ever win elections.
I've never before been in a Serbia with an actual government running
it. I mean, Serbia is basically a small ethnic chunk from a
not-very-big failed state of the 1990s. The region didn't much seem to
need a national government at all, as far as I could see.
But the Radikalni are like some long-postponed 1989 new-broom thing
happening. They've become a newfangled national regime. It's like they
know how to run a country, even.
It's not like the Radikalni are nice 89er hippie liberation guys or
anything, but I've never seen Serbia in such a state of public
contentment and apparent stability. It's truly startling.
This development gives me the conviction that pessimism is public
affairs is just a kind of arrogance. It's just flat-out impossible to
know what people may be capable of, and even Mr Scrooge, that cramped
and miserable man who was one bent, splintered mass of crooked-timber,
can wake up one fine Christmas morning, mystically transformed into
whatever the hell Mr Scrooge was after that.
Topic 473: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014
People who fear the TSA’s airport body scanners might start driving more instead of flying, and that will raise the number of traffic deaths. That’s the argument behind a new legal challenge filed against the Transportation Security Administration today over the much-loathed airport security scanning machines. We have blogged about them zillion times here at […]
A state judge in the Brazilian state of Sergipe has ordered all mobile phone operators in the country to block Facebook-owned WhatsApp for 72 hours, nationwide. Those five telecom providers put the ban into effect today, and it affects about 100 million people. In Brazil, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll found that more than 50% of U.S. voters believe the system that American political parties use to select their candidates for President is “rigged.” Over two-thirds of those polled want to see the process changed.
Almost everyone has their smartphone in a case of one kind or another. Beyond simple protection, finding a case that can charge your phone on its own, but doesn’t feel like it’s also adding a couple pounds to the phone’s weight is the tricky part. Billed as the world’s thinnest battery case, the ThinCharge iPhone […]
You never know when new projects, ideas or opportunities can drop into your lap at a moment’s notice. That may require you to learn a new programming language like Python. Or maybe you need a primer on 3D game development. Or you might realize you could use a serious brush-up on iOS mobile creation.Point is, […]
Isn’t it about time to stretch what your Mac can do? I mean, you’ve got plenty of great programs now…but don’t you think you could use some new tools to get your creative, analytical and organizational juices really flowing? It’s spring, so we cleaned up a whole bunch of super-cool apps lying around and packaged […]