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January 7, 2008

Appreciation of marketing

This is the only article I've read on the US presidential elections which hasn't been a waste of time. Briefly, Obama is more fond of behavioral economics than Clinton. Therefore she wants small targeted changes that have the most effect cheaply; he is suspicious of policies which rely on everybody being a rational actor, fully informed about government policy. Why hasn't anybody else mentioned that?

On a vaguely-related topic, I find it fascinating watching the campaign idly from afar, and so being on the outer reaches of massive, smart media campaigns. They twist everything I read so thoroughly hat I end up with firm feelings about the candidates, without (barring the article above and maybe two or three others) having the faintest idea what they stand for. The only thing that comes close is Apple's marketing, which is perfectly capable of convincing me that I need an iWhatever even when the rational part of my head knows it's overpriced rubbish.

January 3, 2008

Sterling on Pakistan

Bruce Sterling:

Pakistan could very easily smash to bloody pieces in 2008. If it does, nobody anywhere is gonna try and stitch Pakistan back together. Pakistan has a bigger population than Russia. It is just too big for any of the other power-players to handle. So if it ignites, it'll burn.

I'm not entirely convinced - China benefits from Pakistan's existence, and a breakup of Pakistan would be '47-scale messy. But it's well-placed cynicism, nonetheless.