Friday, April 16, 2010

Why Are Cars Still Being Manufactured With Cassete Radios?

Why are cars still being manufactured with cassete radios?

Is it an admission that this simple old technology works? In spite of our iPODs with those infernal little radio transmitter thingies (that disconnect at the slightest bump). The cassette was simple, robust, and lasted. Yet no-one uses them anymore, and car manufacturers still install it as standard!

There's also the possibility that, like so many things that we buy, it's an add-on to validate our need for a certain amenity that is expected as of right. Even if it is useless. Sort of like showers in Africa, when there is no running water!

Which bring me to the incorrigibility of Hamid Karzai. Karzai is the political equivalent of a cassette radio.

He leads a government that cannot maintain its writ or territorial integrity, fails to provide social services without outside help, and he shamelessly depends almost entirely on outside help for everything. The pride of Afghanistan is an outstretched hand, palm-side up.

What he has that no cassette radio has is the gall to bite the hands that continue feeding him!
Afghanistan is a concept. An intoxicating concept of what should be, a dizzying liaison amidst a mess of destruction and misery.

The old cliche, 'who is the fool, the fool or the fool who follows him?' aptly describes Bush-then-Obama's excursions in Afghanistan.

Following Karzai down a rabbit hole and through the looking-glass. We have fancy names for it now - reconciliation, governance, counter-insurgency or 'COIN', and many colourful turns of phrase that omit the bare fact that Karzai and his government are a chimera.

Bush had his weekly phone confab with Karzai, the world's most powerful man indulging his sense of adventure, keeping it close-by, stroking it like a pet python. Then Obama enters the frame; no more phone convos - time for Tough Love.. Deploy 47,000 more troops, nab a Nobel, send in the best and brightest (Holbrooke, Farrow). Time for tough love is it?

Karzai is the dubious leader of an impecunious state that cannot pay its bills, is forever embroiled in bloodshed, and until recently had strategic importance until even al Qaida decided enough was enough. Farcical elections, a poppy-fuelled civil war, rampant fraud, and this mad hatter is still the doyen of international largesse. You either love him or hate him depending on whether you're Republican or Democrat. Whichever is the case, you still pick up the tab. While, I might add, the folks back home are getting retrenched and booted out of emergency!

Even when the enemy ups sticks and leaves the melee (al Qaida), US/NATO decides it may as well keep fighting the Taliban. Participating in a civil war in order to win hearts and minds is the new strategy, 'COIN' it's called (mind you, Karzai's understanding of 'coin' may be little less violent and a lot more mercantilist).

Karzai is an old warlord that no-one really needs, but he came with the purchase, so we keep thinking we need him. Like that cassette radio. He is utterly useless, except for those old tapes you insist on playing, hoping that the right time will come around when someone wants to listen to Neil Diamond. He belongs to the past, yet we keep him in there for the sake of verisimultude.

Again, why are cars still being manufactured with cassete radios?

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