"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen

"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont

"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister

"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Saturday, July 31, 2004

The Group of 20 extracts concessions from the "Capitalist Center"

Do I detect a change of direction in the winds? Ever since the Battle of Seattle, respectable opinion has focused on American, European, and Japanese agricultural subsidies - to a tune of $300 billion a year - as the great injustice of the global economic system. Almost 5 years later, the poor nations of the world, led by Brazil, China and India, have convinced the US and EU to confront their powerful agriculture lobbies.
Although the proposed deal would only create a framework for further talks, it would for the first time commit the European Union to eliminating its controversial farm export subsidies


The United States yielded to pressure from developing countries on Friday and agreed to make a 20 percent cut in some of the $19 billion in subsidies it pays to American farmers each year.

This during an election year, no less.

Not everyone was satisfied with the concessions. A delegate from the Dominican Republic said the proposed framework agreement was still a betrayal of developing countries. And Celine Charveriat, head of Oxfam International in Geneva, said that the rich countries could create new subsidies by using loopholes in the agreement.

Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, the Dutch economy minister and chairman of a delegation of ministers from the European Union, disagreed. He argued that the proposed agreement reflected the growing muscle of the developing world, especially of countries like Brazil, China and India.

"The world has changed; we now live in a truly global world,'' he said, adding that these developing nations had changed the geopolitical boundaries of the talks and forced the new agreement.

I thought the Bush administration was chronically unilateralist. What gives? Even the hated WTO is impinging on our beloved rogue state's sovereignty:

Since the failure of the talks in CancĂșn, the United States lost a case brought by Brazil that challenged its cotton subsidies as illegal. That case, before the World Trade Organization's dispute body, could force the United States to lower its cotton subsidies even without these negotiations.

The trade talks aren't a done deal, however.

But talks could run aground on such issues as how much Japan can protect its rice or Norway its dairy products. Celso Amorim, the top trade negotiator for Brazil and an important negotiator here, said there were still several disputes to be resolved.

If the talks succeed, they are expected to lead to as much as a $3 trillion gain in the world economy.

Oh, is that all?

Friday, July 30, 2004

"... rallying a nation of television viewers to hysteria, to sweep us up into the White House with powers that will make martial law seem like anarchy!"

Hard to believe I was unfamiliar with this line from the orginal Manchurian Candidate until I came across it reading about the remake. It has a little more "umph" now that government officials regularly predict another atrocity on US soil before the Presidential election.

What always struck me about the original was the brainwashing sequences in the Soviet/Chinese military hospital. The white, brainwashed American soldier saw a room full of white women in place of the Chinese and Soviet brass, whereas the black soldier saw a room full of black women.

This reminded me of the Xenophanes quote about religion:

Ethiopians imagine their gods as black and snub-nosed; Thracians blue-eyed and red-haired. But if horses or lions had hands, or could draw and fashion works as men do, horses would draw the gods shaped like horses and lions like lions, making the gods resemble themselves.

A film about Che Guevara is in development. Steven Soderbergh will direct and Benicio Del Toro is rumored to be playing Guevara, which gives me chills. Remember Del Toro's Academy Award winning performance as a Mexican cop in Traffic? He was also memorably intense in China Moon and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Not to mention 21 Grams.

The excellent actor Javier Bardem will also be in the cast. He starred in the wonderful films The Dancer Upstairs and Before Night Falls.