Brazil is beating North Korea, 2-0. (Though the North Koreans made them work for it.)
Some odds and ends from the last day or two. Uganda grows a fair amount of corn (maize) -- something north of a million tons. About half of this is exported, some to Kenya, some to Sudan. This is a fairly impressive achievement given that (1) nobody uses irrigation, (2) almost nobody uses chemical fertilizer, (3) use of herbicides and pesticides is pretty limited, (4) almost all the corn is non-hybrid or very old (>30 years) hybrids, and (5) there are very few warehouses or grain silos, and (6) the transport links to Kenya are bad, and the ones to Sudan are worse... basically, corn gets carried in 50-kilo bags loaded on 10-ton trucks.
Watching the system work, my reaction is one part "holy crap, what will these people do if they ever get a proper Green Revolution with capital and inputs and modern seed and stuff", one part "wait, how the hell is a country as desperately poor as Uganda ever going to manage that?" and one part "well they better figure out how really soon, because the population here is going to double in the next 20 years".
Lake Victoria is in trouble, which is alarming. Fish yields seem to have peaked, and are likely to start declining soon -- overfishing, plus various environmental insults (pollution, silting from soil erosion, introduced species). Fish from the lake are a major source of protein for 20 or 30 million people in three countries; what will happen if they go away? Soybeans?
Everybody steals electricity here. It's worse than in Kosovo, which is saying something.
There's a Traders Association here in Kampala, and it's quite something. It started as an association of street traders, market vendors and small shopkeepers. But it turned out to be useful in lots of ways. The association handles disputes between its members, for instance, and is considered to be at least as fair as the courts, cheaper, and much much faster. It organizes its members against crime and some other nuisances. So, today it has nearly 200,000 (!) members.
But there's trouble brewing with the boda-boda drivers. Boda-bodas are motorcycle taxis. They're cheaper than real taxis, and much faster -- they can weave in and out through traffic. They're dangerous as hell, but who cares? If you're in a hurry, or have only a few shillings, you take a boda-boda.
The boda-boda drivers are a huge pest to shopkeepers and vendors. If they decide to set up a stop in front of your shop, you may wake up to find fifty motorcycles parked there, and fifty drivers hanging around playing music, spitting, and whistling at girls. Kiss your walk-in business goodbye... and don't get on their bad side, or things could get worse.
Well, the Traders Association decided to take on the motorcycle taxis. So they got a bunch of merchants together and organized a shoo-along squad to chase the boda-bodas away from the shops of members.
This didn't work so well. The boda-boda drivers pushed back, hard. I have the impression things got a little ugly. Then the traders got a nasty surprise: the cops and judges -- who you'd expect to support decent merchants against a bunch of scruffy motorbikers -- came down hard on the side of the boda-bodas.
Why? Because the boda-boda drivers are politically connected. They have their own internal organization, and their leaders sell their services to politicians: distributing flyers, putting up posters, waving banners, and maybe less savory stuff as well. And election season is coming up soon.
The trader I talked to said grimly that this wasn't over; the Association was planning to organize a [Swahili word I didn't catch]. "What's that?" "We're going to get a bunch of guys together and train them properly..."
Anyway. Bedtime here. Check the games...
Well, damn. 2-1 Brazil? Words I'm pretty sure have never been printed in the New York Times before: "Brave North Korea won our hearts tonight!"