Wednesday, February 23, 2005


I really like this photo I took a few days ago. I finally got around to reading the manual for my digital camera and managed to take this macro shot of the flowers I gave Michelle for Valentine's day.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Worst Dictator Ever

In case you missed it, America's most hard-hitting news magazine published its annual list of the world's 10 worst dictators this week. You may have missed the article because it was featured in none other than Parade Magazine. You know, that little magazine that probably comes in your Sunday paper sandwiched between 15 lbs of ads. Believe it or not, this is now an annual feature. Dictators of the world, you have been put on alert. America's senior citizens and homemakers will no longer be vacationing in your countries, depriving your regimes of valuable hard currency. Take that, Equatorial Guinea.

While there are no indications that anyone on this year's top 10 list is a tireless champion of human rights and/or transparent governance, the list is kind of strange. For one, Fidel Castro didn't manage to crack the top 10 this year (he did, however, receive a dishonorable mention). China's Hu Jintao, who has been in power for just over two years, came in fourth place, which was actually an improvement over last year's third place finish, but still out in front of notable de facto presidents-for-life, like Muammar Quaddafi (6th), Robert Mugabe (9th), and Turkmenistan's inscrutable Saparmurat Niyazov (8th). I'm not saying that China should be praised for its treatment of its citizens, but for them to finish fourth behind a failed state rife with civil war, the world's most repressive Stalinist regime, and a rural Southeast Asian country ruled by a ruthless military junta seems a little ridiculous.

Maybe journalistic cross-overs like this are the wave of the future. Perhaps local news networks across the country will start airing segments about the foibles of failed state autocrats between car chases and stories about how linoleum may be hazardous to your health. Some people might see this as progress, but I am not so sure. I have a feeling that compressing complicated geopolitical situations into easy to digest top 10 lists and other eye-catching forms of journalism is going to more harm than good. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go finish the "Are you a good dictator in bed?" quiz in this month's issue of Cosmo.