Category Archives: Politics

The Russian democracy

Russian politics is a strange beast. The elected leader is a strongman who rules with an iron grip, and is in the process of subverting the constitution to remain as de facto ruler. It calls itself a democracy, but then you have this:

Opposition leader and chess legend Garry Kasparov was jailed for five days Saturday after being arrested during a protest against President Vladimir Putin a week before parliamentary elections.

He was sentenced for organising an unsanctioned march and refusing to obey police orders, but told reporters the charges were “unfounded”.

And what if the pro-Putin marches had been unsanctioned? Would there have been a similar crackdown? I think you know the answer to that one.

Che: The icon and the ad

In the forty years since Che Guevara was executed, his image has become a global phenomenon.

Or as BBC puts it: “The most reproduced, recycled and ripped off image of the 20th century” (the company seems to be living in the past, lol).

Before we go any further, here’s Alberto Korda’s photograph:


And Jim Fitzpatrick’s reworking:


It’s one of the most recognisable images in existence, even if it’s not necessarily tied to Guevara’s communist ideals. His rebel/revolutionary persona has given it credence, and his death in such mysterious circumstances added to the mythology. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez wears a T-shirt with a small portrait (tis here, bottom right of the search).

The image has also been adapted by religious groups such as the Churches Advertising Network:


Trisha Ziff, the curator of a touring exhibition on the iconography of Che, told BBC:

“There is no other image like it. What other image has been sustained in this way?” asks Trisha Ziff, the curator of a touring exhibition on the iconography of Che.

“Che Guevara has become a brand. And the brand’s logo is the image, which represents change. It has becomes the icon of the outside thinker, at whatever level – whether it is anti-war, pro-green or anti-globalisation,” she says.

Its presence – everywhere from walls in the Palestinian territories to Parisian boutiques – makes it an image that is “out of control”, she adds.

“It has become a corporation, an empire, at this point.”

He has to be spinning in his grave at that last comment. Were his revolution to be more widespread — and it is an icon for indigenous peoples in South America — he might accept this cult status as a useful political and ideological tool. But to call it a corporation? An empire?

Am I missing something?

Links o' the day

Finally, a Democratic sex scandal! Matthew Barrett shows porn to students. (Mr Angry)

Aussie scientists make diabetes breakthrough. The cause of type-2 diabetes has been found. (ABC News)

US adds 100,000 jobs in August. Good economic news from the States for once. (AFP)

China blocking RSS feeds. Unsurprising given the level of internet censorship. (Techcrunch)

Cities are key to greentech progress. Local authorities in the US are proving to be catalysts for the cleantech industry. (Earth2Tech)

Bush says US ‘does not do torture’. That’s not what the New York Times says. (AP)

US army is embedding anthropologists. The programme “enlists the help of cultural anthropologists to help tackle the tricky cultural nuances the military is confronting in Iraq and Afghanistan”. (

Links o' the day


O’Dea denies offering to fight in pub row. Said offer was allegedly declined because of the minister’s short stature. The latest screw-up from Wonder Willie the Great Defence Minister, his most prominent being posing with a pistol. (Irish Examiner)

Toy manufacture in China. The hands that make the dolls you pay too much for. (Mazm, via Crooked Timber)

13 scifi mental illnesses. I think I suffer from vacuuphobia. I’m not the only one… am I? (

Group renames asteroid for George Takei. Sulu is an asteroid! (MSNBC)

Mary-Kate Olsen is seven lattes tall. She does not look well. (UnaRocks)

Last survivor of the War of Independence dies at 105. I hope I don’t get fired for linking to this. (The Irish Times)

Single case could reignite ebola epidemic in DRCongo: WHO. We never seem to catch a break. (AFP)