Thursday, July 4, 2013

bits of news

In the news ...

-- Doug Englebart, inventor of the computer mouse and a lot of other way-ahead-of-their-time creations, died Tuesday at 88.

Sometimes it is hard to recall that there was a time when someone had to invent it, whatever 'it' might be. Religious fundamentalists may use this as an exhausted realm in which to posit a god, but that just begs the question.

Someone had to invent it, be it mouse or god.

Who and why?

-- In what everyone seems to be careful not to call a "coup," the democratically-elected president of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi, was ousted Wednesday by the army and replaced 'temporarily' by a judge. The ouster came after days and days of popular and populous demonstrations. The ouster seems to be considered a better demonstration of democracy than the democracy that elevated Morsi about a year ago.

The U.S. likes to be seen as a supporter of democracy. But Egypt is a ticklish matter for the State Department, I imagine. On the one hand, "democracy" sounds nifty. But in 2010, the U.S. pumped about $1.5 billion in aid into Egypt. $1.3 billion was in military aid and, if I am not mistaken, about one half of that amount is given under the proviso that Egypt buy its weaponry from the United States. That's a lot of money for a lot of American defense contractors. So perhaps it is a delicate matter, deciding how much 'democracy' the U.S. will support and how much its economic well-being may be conflated with 'democracy.'

-- And in Peru, a 4,000-year-old pyramid has been destroyed by developers who were, perhaps, in search of the same buck American defense contractors have targeted.

-- British babies fortunate enough to be born on the same day as the child expected in mid-July by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will each receive a commemorative silver penny from the government. The  Royal Mint announced today that it had minted 2,013 such coins. What I want to know is who decided on that very specific number and how they reached their decision. Was there a hushed-but-intense debate between those favoring 2,013 and 2,014? What happens to No. 2014? In 2007, births per day averaged out to 1,890 in the UK. In which case, what happens to the extra coins?