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2013 in review: headlines

It's been ages since we made an effort to report on the increasingly-happening discussion at the forum. And now that our discussions (newsgroups) are being replicated across the internet, reaching more and more users and readers, they are starting to take on a life of their own. So it's time to take a 30-mile high view of what's being discussed, and draw attention to some recent gems. Like what you see? Jump in - you're welcome to participate.

Almost as fun as the commentary by our nutso followers are some of the titles of news articles as reported by our dedicated News Feeder, clearly a bitter and wretched old man: Continue reading "2013 in review: headlines"

On Statues

Smashing Lenin

Quick: what do Saddam Hussein, Moammar Qadaffi, Pope Julius II,and Vladimir Lenin all have in common?

Their statues have all, at one point or another, been torn down and destroyed in piques of anger.

In Chapter 2: Inimitable You of the Dictator's Handbook, we wrote about statues, and how many autocrats seem to adore building and distributing bronze, marble, or ivory likenesses of themselves all over creation. Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, North Korea, and elsewhere: you can't escape the smiling, scowling, or meditating face of the local ruler. But that omnipresence of the leader — or equivalent — has a downside, too, and you read it here first: Continue reading "On Statues"

What if Brutal Dictators had Instagram?

Instagram: love it or hate it, and for the most part it seems that in 2013, people love it. Because what's not to love about over saturated, grainy shots taken with an $800 modern multi-megapixel digital camera and then reduced to something that looks like 1971 wants its look back?

But surely it can get better. And it can. How do you improve on Instagram?

Just add dictators. Ever wonder what kind of selfies Saddam Hussein would take if he'd had a hand free from its desperate clutch on the nation? Ever wonder if Fidel Castro had an artistic bent and a fetish for fat, phallic stogies? Ever wonder if the Ceaucescu family liked to whip out the BigShot on their family vacations?

Wonder no longer. It's Instagramology, and as far as I can tell, it's done by a Romanian: certainly a culture that knows something (awful) about autocracy.

Dictator Dislikes: Public Family Drama


Pity poor Islam Karimov, leader of the struggling, corrupt, and dynastic Uzbekistan, former pearl on the Silk Road, now site of incipient radical Islam insurgency and lackluster cotton. What's his problem? Maybe a problem you share yourself: a hottie daughter with intense political and financial ambitions who considers herself a singer, poet, "exotic beauty" and designer. She's also easy on the eyes.

But their family feud is being played out across the world's media: Twitter, radio, TV, and beyond. No one wants that. Continue reading "Dictator Dislikes: Public Family Drama"

Nicaragua's Ortega proposes new constitution sans term limits

I guess this was no surprise, right? I mean, Ortega has tried this on numerous occasions since coming (back) to power in Nicaragua in 2005.

The thing in question is the proposal of a new constitution, that(surprise, surprise) does away with all sense of term limits on the presidency. It's exactly the sort of thing he'd have railed against from 1991-2005 when he was on the outside, and would have fought against prior to 1979. But now that he's the one in power, staying there until his death seems the logical thing for him to do.

What do Nicaraguans think about it? They're generally appalled, and why shouldn't they be? Daniel Ortega has been ass-raping democracy since he took office, and it's been clear that his intentions are less-than-noble. But he's no fool, either. Nicaraguans are tired of war after an entire generation suffered mightily in the 1980s. He knows damned well they won't rise up in arms against him, and he knows that if he just keeps pushing the tip, a little more, a little more, he will eventually penetrate the pink fleshy ring of Nicaraguan democracy, and become a dictatorial "king" more avaricious than the one the Sandinistas overthrew in 1979.

Hypocrisy, you know no bounds. And that's why, Daniel Ortega, you are one of these things.

Spotting a Future Dictator

How to tell whether a youngster is going to grow up to eschew toys and games for the one game that matters? How to tell if the toddler busy crapping his pants at your feet is going to be responsible for a genocide that makes Auschwitz look like a weekend at Disneyworld?

Pay attention to the little signs. This kid, for example, might be worth keeping an eye on.
Rule the World (courtesy of Imgur).