Latin Americans always complain that their region is sidelined in world politics. But the problem is that they never try to take the lead. No matter what happens – a global economic crisis, COVID, a war in Europe – Latin America can’t be bothered to care because it’s replaying on a loop its eternal obsession with trying out a socialist option. It’s like an elderly relative with dementia who sits in a corner, convinced it’s still 1959, completely incapable of noticing the new generations who are figuring out today’s problems right there in the living room.

Latin American politics is completely geriatric.

Soldiers for Sale

As much as I’d like to attribute the exceptional precision of Ukraine’s airstrikes to the excellent performance of Ukrainian intelligence services, the truth is that senior Russian officers often sell the intel about the location of their troops. For cash. To the enemy. This is a link in English but there have been many of these stories. The really interesting part is that the Russian troops and their family members are so overwhelmingly convinced this is true yet they do nothing. The only soldiers who have turned on their corrupt commanders are… not ethnically Russian, let’s put it that way.

Book Notes: Ruth Rendell’s Dark Corners

This was Rendell’s last novel, and I didn’t read it when it first came out because the books Rendell wrote in the closing years of her life weren’t good. You can’t keep writing a book a year in your eighties and maintain high quality. Now I finally read Dark Corners, and it’s not all that bad. The quirky, weird characters Rendell is famous for are all there. What’s absent, unfortunately, is the writer’s capacity to tie them together within a functioning plot. As a result, weird things happen that are not explained. A character gets kidnapped but then the kidnapping is suddenly aborted, and readers never get an explanation of who wanted to kidnap that character, for what purpose, and why the kidnapping just ends. Inexplicably, the victim never reports the crime and kind of forgets about it, so there’s no investigation.

To resume, unless you are a hardcore fan, I don’t see the point of reading the novel.

What is curious, though, is that Dark Corners, as well as several other novels by Rendell, is driven by the terrible housing crisis in London. I wonder why so much of the mystery genre reflects such daily realities as housing shortages or unemployment while none of the serious fiction ever does. Is anybody capable of understanding art automatically assumed to be so wealthy as to be completely unaware of economic hardship?

Manufacturing Murderers

One aspect of school shootings that never gets discussed is how often the shooters were on psychiatric drugs that have violent side effects.

We keep hearing about the supposedly ultra powerful gun lobby. But the pharma lobby is much larger and stronger. That’s probably precisely why nobody talks about it.

The Highland Park shooting wasn’t a school shooting but what are the chances the killer wasn’t on something? Or probably a bunch of things. What are the chances he wasn’t a habitual pot user? Very low, I’d say.