Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday Mad Science: Ham-Handed Basketball Diplomacy

I wanna be in favor of this crazy “basketball diplomacy” thing that Dennis Rodman is doing in North Korea, but try as I might, I just can’t.  
I mean, you can see the point, right?  North Korea is such an isolated, backward country that whatever we can do to open the place up is probably a good idea.  I have this theory that the best thing America can do to put an end to all the asshole dictatorships of the world is to just send in as manyCokes and DVD box-sets of the Jersey Shore as we can get onto a container ship.  Forget embargoes.  Send in Snooki and the Situation, and when all those poor oppressed bastards realize that even dumb fuckers like those two can become instant millionaires for no reason, revolt is virtually guaranteed.

That’s my theory, anyway.
And on its face, it would seem like Rodman would be a good fit for this theory.  I mean, yeah, he is without doubt a world-class athlete.  But he’s also so flamboyant and wacky that I think he shows off both the best and the worst that this country has to offer—in a way that’s totally unmistakable.  That’s good.  
But, I mean, come on, man.  Even if you’re Rodman, you can’t go expressing eternal love to Kim Jong Eun.  The Kim family are the most ruthless dictators on the planet; they enslave, torture, and murder their own people.  I doubt strongly that Rodman meant to endorse slavery and murder, but by pledging allegiance to Kim, that is what he has effectively done.
As it is, this visit looks like just one more bizarre perk in the bizarre life of North Korea’s crazy but undeniably powerful royal family.  Rather than being basketball “diplomacy”, this visit has become proof that North Korea’s leader can flout the desires of both American and Chinese leadership, endanger its neighbors via nuclear weapons, and in the midst of some of the worst sanctions in history, he can still have premier American athletic talent on tap and at his beck and call for a personal tour.
Sergey Brin is one of Google’s founders.  He is the one, apparently, who is behind the Google Glass project, which means, I think, that he wants to turn you into a Borg.
Word leaked out this week that Mozilla is trying to develop a web-based phone OS for emerging markets.  Which is interesting because an OS like that would be essentially similar to Google’s Chrome OS, although obviously on a truly mobile platform rather than on a small-sized netbook.  But it does make you wonder how soon Google will try to ditch Android in favor of a mobile version of Chrome.  
I say that because word also leaked this week that Google’s executives are apparently somewhat uncomfortable with the success that Samsung is currently enjoying via the Android platform, and they’re afraid that if Samsung gets any more successful with it, the company will have market power in the industry.  That would allow Samsung to negotiate contracts on Android and other Google services from a position of strength rather than having Google stay in the driver’s seat on handset makers who run one of its operating systems.  Samsung, in return, has been said to be more than willing to leave Android and at least offer products that run competing systems—one could imagine a Galaxy phone running Windows 8 mobile—although it’s probably just as likely that they’d simply open their own app store and continue running Android since it’s open source code.
Anyway.  The interesting thing about the development of a Mozilla OS is that it would encourage developers to develop more purely web-based apps, which would in turn help Google quite a lot.  As I’ve said before, I love my Chromebook, but as is, it’s a distinctly limited system.  And while working purely off the web may indeed be the way of the future, it’s not yet a truly mature technology.  However, Mozilla has a good chance of changing that, especially if it can achieve dominance in emerging markets.
I hope you don’t mind, but I’m gonna try to keep it short this week.  First off, I think last week’s column ran for damn-near three-thousand words, and barely anybody read it.  So if you want something to read, go back and check out last week’s discussion of China and nuclear deterrence theory.  And then, too, I started reading the last book in the Wheel of Time series, and while I love the series, the book itself is more than 900-pages, and that requires real commitment.
We’re gonna try to ride tomorrow at Tri Practice.  Wish us luck!  Hopefully we can manage to stay relatively warm and dry!

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