Monday, June 30, 2008


Pink Floyd accompanies us on a tour of some of the marvels of the molecular machines that purely purposeless forces like blind chance and natural selection have teamed up to, er, engineer. Two of the prominent simulations are the production of messenger RNA from DNA, ATP synthesis, and the construction of a bacterial flagellum:

HT: Guts at Telic Thoughts


Hell on Earth

Zimbabwe used to be called Rhodesia. When it was Rhodesia it was the object of global outrage because it was a mostly black nation ruled by a minority white regime. The country was prosperous and largely well-governed, but blacks were second class citizens and the global community insisted that white rule was therefore unjust. Rhodesia became an international pariah, civil war broke out, and the government eventually succumbed, amidst the violence of the war, to international pressure and ushered in open elections. That was in 1980.

Since then Robert Mugabe has ruled the country. He has taken farms that whites had owned for generations, killed the whites if they resisted, and gave the land to his cronies thereby despoiling agriculture in this formerly highly productive land. He has driven the country to bankruptcy, inflation is currently around 100,580%, and the people live in fear, oppression, and squalor. The life expectancy for males has dropped from the mid-sixties to 37. For women it's 34. Sixty percent of the nation's wildlife has died off since 2000. White farmers who remain in the country have been told to leave or face jail, or worse. It's perhaps the most hellish place on a continent full of hellish places.

Nicholas Kristoff writes in the New York Times:

When I grew up in the 1970s, a central truth was that Ian Smith [Rhodesia's white president]was evil and Mugabe heroic. So it was jolting on my last visit to Zimbabwe, in 2005, to see how many Zimbabweans looked back on oppressive white rule with nostalgia. They offered a refrain: "Back then, at least parents could feed their children."

Recently, opposition to Mugabe mobilized and sought to unseat him in an election last week which the whole world has judged to be bogus. The opposition candidate dropped out of the race because the violence against him and his supporters made it impossible to continue.

FrontPage Mag has a good summary of conditions in the country, and this news item gives a sense of the day to day horror the people of Zimbabwe are living with under Mugabe and his thugs.

The Smith regime was oppressive and unjust, but justice involves much more than making sure that the tyrant is from the majority race. One hopes that those who campaigned so vigorously for the end of white rule in Rhodesia have learned at least that lesson from the catastrophe they've helped unleash.