The What's Not To Like Rant (Things Are Lookin' Up)

Are you one of those people who after reading one too many of my rants feels like saying: "Hey, don't be so bloody pessimistic, the world may seem to be a giant house of horrors at times, but really it's not all that bad"? Well, you may be surprised to hear that I totally agree with you. So many countries have indeed been moving forward and progressing in so many different ways recently. Things are looking up the world over. Let's count the ways.


In Pakistan, for starters, they just changed the law so that in cases of consensual premarital sex the perpetrators will no longer be flogged and then put to death, but will instead, as of this month, receive just 5 years in prison. Also in Pakistan - now this is a country really moving forward - a woman will no longer be sent to prison for adultery when she is raped, at least not most of the time. No word on the thousands of women rotting away in prison there at the moment for the crime of being raped, but things are certainly lookin' up for many, if not most, future rapees. Of course, most women are still expected to commit suicide after being raped, since they've brought shame on the family and all, but that's a whole other topic.


Next door in Afghanistan the good news is that girls are now allowed to go to school, even if in most regions of the country they still must wear the burqa once they hit a certain age.


Then in Chechnya the Russians have largely subdued the restless colonials... and at a cost of only 200,000 Chechen lives too.


In Britain, meanwhile, Blair has finally admitted that the war in Iraq has been a disaster, even if at the same time he has vowed to stay the course; communication lines clearly must be down across the Atlantic, as even the White House has given up on that silly "stay the course" message of late. But, either way, The Poodle has landed (back on earth) and has at last admitted what the entire world, and he himself of course, has known for a long, long time now.


In the U.S. of A we've recently seen some good news in the form of O.J. The Killer's long-overdue confession. In order to make a few million bucks off of a book deal (and TV interview), good ol' O.J. has all but confessed to those murders he committed a few years back; but - and here's the really good news - the U.S. media, embarrassed by their pathetic, frenzied and obsessive coverage of the case back in the '90s, has thankfully, and tastefully, completely ignored the story. Or, wait, ignoring the story completely, perhaps that was the slaughter in Darfur I was thinking of? Forget about that then, how about this: In America they've recently outlawed some forms of torture, meaning that those in the American gulags will now thankfully only have to endure a few different forms of cruel, inhumane treatment at a time.


And let's not forget Palestine, where things are clearly looking up, as is demonstrated by the fact that a) the financial blackmail has finally paid off and the democratically-elected-yet-unacceptable Palestinian government has finally been forced to step down; and b) the Israelis are now only killing, on average, a few dozen Palestinians a week these days, way down from the peak killing days of a few years back. And nearby in Iraq the good news is that things are much more fair and egalitarian nowadays, with both the Shiite and Sunni death squads scoring an equal number of kidnap/torture/murders in recent months. It used to be a bit lopsided.


Meanwhile, in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa the HIV/AIDS infection rate has leveled off at 20-25% of the population and the big pharmaceutical companies have finally, after years of fighting tooth and nail, allowed the production of cheap generic antiviral drugs. Some would say years too late, but those who say that are just, as the Brits would say, snivelers and nitpickers. And in the Congo, where HIV/AIDS has been the least of their worries over the past few years as the civil war has ravaged the country and left between three and four million dead, most of the fighting has now stopped, at least for the time being. And in Zimbabwe Mugabe may have taken one of the great success stories of Africa and turned it into a basket case, but at least he's let up a bit on the intentional starvation of those regions of the country that voted strongly for the opposition in recent elections.


In Thailand the good news is that no one died this time when the army decided to once again overthrow the elected-by-a-landslide government. Also, the police have been carrying out a few more token raids on child sex slave dens there, freeing a handful of the tens of thousands of kids held as prisoners and sex slaves.


Next door in Burma, more than 16 years after having won a massive electoral victory, Aung San Suu Kyi may remain locked away under house arrest in near-solitary confinement, but recently she was allowed by the ruling military junta to see a U.N. envoy for a few hours.


Up in Tibet, meanwhile, the Chinese have completed a beautiful new railway that directly connects the region to China. It may mean that Chinese settlers will soon outnumber Tibetans in Tibet, but damnit if that railway isn't one of the finest feats of engineering ever! In China itself the happy news includes the fact that the thousands of people being put to death each year, for such things as embezzlement and auto theft, will, from now on, have their cases reviewed by the top court before getting a bullet to the back of the head; and, furthermore, the number of those being held indefinitely in Chinese re-education camps is clearly down from previous decades.


And next door in North Korea Kim Jong Mentally-il, Dear Leader that he is, has decided to spend only 90% of the nation's budget on the military next year, down from this year's 92%, thus freeing up an extra 1% for the starving population and 1% to refurbish his personal cinema in the Palace Of The People's Victories, where he resides. Clearly The People would stand for nothing less than such an equal distribution of the wealth (just like Stalin, Mao and all the other Heroes of The People had always envisioned). The People, of course, are all equal owners of the country's shiny new nukes too. But that goes without saying.


And, finally, here in Canada we're still #1. Even if being the worst per capita polluters of the environment in the world isn't something everyone may be proud of, you really just can't argue with success. And it simply must be noted how successful we are at contributing to global warming. We alone are #1. And that doesn't look to change any time soon, what with our present government basically opting out of Kyoto and all. That's right, we shall remain the undisputed world champions for the foreseeable future. We're #1! We're #1! We're #1!


So, as you can see, things in our world are progressing quite nicely, so we should all be really happy and rejoiceful, right? No room for cynicism, pessimism or negativity. But, still, even with all this uplifting, positive news, for some strange reason I don't feel fully satisfied. Not sure why. Perhaps it's all the rain we've been enduring here recently. Or maybe it's just that Britney and K-Fed have called it quits. I thought they'd be together forever.


Mike Cowie (Oredakedo)
Sunday, November 19th, 2006