WORLD CUPDATE: POLITICS EVERYWHERE, EVERYWHERE!

Look, by this point, you know that we can’t watch anything, let alone the World Cup, without seeing the hints, lessons, and reflections of global politics everywhere. So here are two quick musings from the past few days of play.


Referees, Strongmen, the Rule of Law

One-man rule. Inconsistent and arbitrary application of basic laws. Constant attempts by powerful elites to influence or evade the ruler’s judgment. The basic problems of autocratic governments are captured perfectly by… the referee.

Is Tech Offside?

Will computers replace human judgments or simply augment people’s productivity? Two examples from the Cup. Goal Line Technology determines whether 100% of the ball has crossed into the goal. No human judgment needed. Video Assisted Replay (VAR), meanwhile, permits referees to watch replays of certain kinds of plays in order to confirm or reverse calls on the field. VAR increases referees’ accuracy, but it’s a supplement to human judgements which can still be “wrong” — especially if they go against your team. But hey, no one wants technology to squeeze all the uncertainty out of the game, do they? The fallibility of the refs, and the subtle psychological dramas between them and the players, is part of the poetry of the game. Tell us what you think here.

It was inevitable that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would make India's elections a referendum on Narendra Modi, and now that the vast majority of 600 million votes cast have been counted, it's clear he made the right call.

More Show less

Among the 23 men and women now seeking the Democratic Party's nomination to take on Donald Trump in next year's election, the frontrunner, at least for now, has spent half a century in politics. Former Vice President Joe Biden, first elected to the US Senate in 1972, is the very epitome of the American political establishment.

Yet, the dominant political trend in many democracies today is public rejection of traditional candidates and parties of the center-right and center-left in favor of new movements, voices, and messages. Consider the evidence from some recent elections:

More Show less

It's Friday, and Signal readers deserve at least one entirely upbeat news story.

José Obdulio Gaviria, a Colombian senator for the rightwing Democratic Center party, is an outspoken opponent of government attempts to make peace with the FARC rebel group after 50 years of conflict.

On his way into a meeting earlier this week, Gaviria collapsed. It was later reported that he had fainted as a result of low blood pressure probably caused by complications following recent open heart surgery.

A political rival, Senator Julian Gallo, quickly came to his rescue and revived him using resuscitation skills he learned as—irony alert—a FARC guerrilla. CPR applied by Gallo helped Gaviria regain consciousness, before another senator, who is also professional doctor, took over. Gaviria was taken to hospital and appears to have recovered.

Because some things will always be more important than politics.