Cape Town made world headlines a couple of weeks ago, when police impounded over 30 driver-owned vehicles operating under the Uber ride-sharing brand. At issue, supposedly, were taxi operator permits required by the Western Cape government.
A company in San Francisco wants to give customers free rein to design creatures with synthetic DNA. This is what progress is all about! I want a glow-in-the-dark attack cat! As ever, especially when it involves genetic engineering, we can expect fear and hand-wringing as the half-informed imagine the worst instead of cheering those who strive for progress.
Another aircraft accident, another opportunity for hysterical sensationalism. Everything has to be scary. It is worse than last year, and perhaps even the worst ever. If it isn’t, your story had better be a banal listicle, because otherwise you just won’t get read. The result? Widespread fears masquerading as common knowledge.
The pilot of the original Star Trek series was copyright 1964. In an attempt to get in before the noise of the official 50th anniversary in 2016, I watched the entire original series, which aired in the late 1960s, again. In this, the second of a two-parter, we’ll consider its politics and economics.
The agreement reached deep in overtime at the recent Lima climate conference was pitched as having saved the summit from disaster. But if every country agrees, you can be sure whatever they agree on is watery gruel. As the questions mount over the validity of climate models, the utility of global warming mitigation policies, and the cost of renewable energy, Lima may spell the beginning of the end of the climate change movement.
Every year, almost ten thousand professional vacationeers gather in some exotic holiday location, like Cancún, Buenos Aires, Bali, Durban or, most recently, Lima, Peru. They do so at the expense of the taxpayers and the people who donate their hard-earned income to supposedly worthy environmental lobby groups like Greenpeace, the Worldwatch Institute, 350.org, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the National Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club.
Part of the war against censorship during the Apartheid era was fought over pop music and pin-up girls. These fights might have looked petty, or even misplaced, but they were important in the struggle for freedom and human rights in South Africa. Now, the ANC wants to apply the old laws about what we may and may not publish to the internet.
The tobacco industry is not unique. Both it and the pharmaceutical industry would like to monopolise the e-cigarette action. And government is only too happy to sacrifice public health to big business lobbyists. The truth is that they are safe to use and effective to quit smoking. If governments were consistent, they’d hand e-cigarettes out like condoms.
It’s a dark day indeed when a monopoly industry lobby and a media-sponsored organisation collude, and both agree with draconian government policy. That happened when Crime Line, an initiative of the Primedia Group, publicly supported the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa during its conference about the fight against “illicit” cigarettes.
Beneath all the hype of Bitcoin, a true revolution is happening. It isn’t about quick profits and market speculation, but about the technology that makes it all possible: the blockchain. It has the potential to transform society and free people from the constraints imposed on them by government and big business.
Whenever government officials talk about gambling, they spout pure hypocrisy. They act like mobsters running a protection racket. Meanwhile, the government itself viciously exploits the poor and the desperate in order to subsidise sport and arts. If you really wanted to protect punters, you should want more competition, not less.