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February 16, 2011

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And now let's hear some more about how relevant David Pryce-Jones is, and how nothing changes in the shame culture of the Mideast, and how much better informed he is about Arab culture.

And how irrelevant technology is.

Hmm?

This is a wonderful photomontage, Gary.

Great stuff Gary, I hope to burrow into the links this pm. Via LGM is this link to Robert Fisk's piece in the Independent and they highlight this.

But the critical moment came on the evening of 30 January when, it is now clear, Mubarak ordered the Egyptian Third Army to crush the demonstrators in Tahrir Square with their tanks after flying F-16 fighter bombers at low level over the protesters.

Many of the senior tank commanders could be seen tearing off their headsets – over which they had received the fatal orders – to use their mobile phones. They were, it now transpires, calling their own military families for advice. Fathers who had spent their lives serving the Egyptian army told their sons to disobey, that they must never kill their own people.

The thing that I'd point out here is how a mundane technology like cell phones can impact and effect events.

Thanks, Von. That's very kind of you, although it's all swiped, of course.

I'd like to claim that I was there snapping the shots, but, alas, my feet hurt too much to walk that far.

Besides, notice that I cleverly avoid writing very much. :-)

I actually have a ton more links and comments, but as usual, this was already Long Enough.

But I have a lot more to go on Bahrain, what's going on on Yemen, the off-switches, and a lot of related stuff, but figure I'll wait until tomorrow, and as usual, I feel like crap, and it can wait. Sort of.

But I'm tweeting now, and even there I feel like it's too easy to Do Too Much.

Sometimes I wish I didn't read so much so fast. I know that sounds like a brag, and I suppose it is, but it really makes conversation difficult for me when I want to add about 4000 relevant bits, and 300 pieces of fascinating news item from the last two hours. :-)

For me the downside of Teh Information Revolution is that I think too much is too interesting, and I want to share it all, but....

Anyway, thanks muchly for the compliment. And, yeah, I loved the pictures, and thought they made the point.

The notion that somehow Arabs are all tribal, and that they're primitive people is just racist garbage, and moreover it's in complete contradiction to one George W. Bush's philosophy and words and acts, so folks who revert to that sort of ancient Bernard Lewis/David Pryce-Jones stuff from fifty years ago might as well be citing Lawrence of Arabia as if it were relevant to a cometary probe, or nanotech.

This is what's been going on, and will be, not stuff from forty or fifty years ago.

And, oops, I only just noticed that I directly contradicted this title of this post by Doctor Science, and all I can do is apologize, Dr. S., and tell you the straight truth, which is that I totally forgot that you'd used the song title, too.

Wasn't trying to sound like I was trying to contradict or refute you. Drat! I just plumb forgot.

What I did have in mind was that set of exchanges starting here and below, but mostly because what I write here has the virtue of being true, and what was said by some about Pryce-Jones and company was, in my view, um, not so much.

I also want to go into why I think Obama and company have handled this pretty well, but will save that for another post, or not get to it. Etc., etc.

Also, as a student of Mideast politics since at least the Six Day War, I think this whole thing is f*cking awesome, and I meant every word about it being glorious, and I know that I'm over-emotional, but I also know that a story means a lot to me when I start crying when I'm writing it, no matter how few of my own words I use.

And that's what I do when I think about what I think this means.

No, I'm not making any hard predictions, and yes, there will be awfulness, and yes, revolutions eat their young, and yes, there may be the equivalents of Iran, but also: hey, revolutions can take place in the Middle East without America bombing the sh*t out of people, killing [pick your damn number and argue about it, I. Don't. Care], and invading a country.

Hey, who knew?

Oh, wait, I know who knew! (Was aware of the possibilities, at least).

Donald Rumsfeld. (This deserves a whole bunch of posts by itself.)

Read THIS FREAKING CLASSIFIED DOCUMENT by The Donald.

Then vomit.

But I'll say this. I think the dominos are very likely to now fall as fast as fricking Eastern Europe collapsed.

And we'll see some hangings, just like Ceauşescu.

This is apt to be the Mideast in the next few months, to some large extent, I strongly suspect. Not all, and not likely Saudi Arabia.

I also want to go into the way the net can be cut off, the ways this can be resisted, and all the other complications.

But. Still.

And we shall see. I've certainly been wrong before.

Thanks, LJ; good link and valuable point.

Some of the stuff I didn't quote pointed to Gamal Mubarak as fighting to get his father to crack down. That's totally plausible, since it was his own place as successor at risk, and, of course, now we're seeing, BIG SURPRISE, all the endless reports on the corruption, the mass arrests, the freezing of assets, and other good stuff like that.

And that's why I see dominoes, and I think anyone paying attention can, via Twitter and the web and the various aggragation sites, and so forth, watch it happening as fast as you can absorb it; not to mention YouTube, etc.

The information revolution simply means that until we get brainjacks and additional RAM in our heads, we have more info in livetime than we can possibly process.

It's. All. Happening. Live. In front of us.

And people need to open their eyes, and their browsers, to it, those who haven't. (A lot of this is an age thing, but it's as much a matter of comfort level with the internet as anything else; lots of younger people aren't, and lots of older people are, too.)

CBS video report the use of Twitter, FB, etc.

The impact of instant, mass communication available to an educated, technologically sophisticated population is yet to be fully appreciated. I suspect it means the eventual end of autocracy. Good call, GF.

Non-Violence Fail

I have never understood the visceral thrill so many on the center-left get at watching women and children get beaten to death by cops. Patton said it best:You win by making the dumb poor bastards die.

This martyr fetish sickens me.

This is fantastic, thank you.

"I have never understood the visceral thrill so many on the center-left get at watching women and children get beaten to death by cops"

WTF?

WTF?

Ah, this I think I can explain. Bob wants direct action and he wants it last week. From bob's perspective, lefties talking about non-violence are just longing to send innocent people to their death. After all, anytime people try non-violence, there's a good chance that the security forces will simply execute them. He sees any happy talk about the power of non-violence as a fetish in much the same way that some violent Islamists fetishize martyrdom. The fact that we haven't all risen up in revolution over the AIG bail outs proves that we're a bunch of losers, or something.

Ordinarily, I wouldn't explain on someone else's behalf (especially when the explanation sounds kind of nutty), but bob shows up so infrequently.... I hope that makes, er, sense.

2:28:I hope that makes, er, sense.

Works for me, turb.

Now I have to get back to Kita Ikka and the Feb 26th Incident

Mcmanus!

Yes.

And its been so quiet around here in recent days.

Works for me, turb.

Awesome. In all sincerity, it is nice to have you back. I hope you can stick around.

I just dropped in mostly to congratulate lj, express appreciation to Jacob Davies and the other newish posters; and otherwise let the community know I've never stopped reading the blog. Everyone is doing good.

It's always hard to tell what GF has not linked to recently, and easy to presume the answer is "everything", but I thought this academic lady (h/t Digby) was interesting on
Social Media and Revolution.

As far as the above comments, consider it just my usual ironic stinkbomb tossing, sent from the heart and not at all serious. We wait and will see whether these are bourgeois or social revolutions, and whether the 44.4 per cent of Egyptians in poverty get better lives or if it is just "meet the new boss." on his Facebook page.

I am of course, hoping these Revolutions succeed and spread to the managed democracies (Sheldon Wolin;Hardt & Negri), like the USA, but remain skeptical and pessimistic.

On the violent/nonviolent thing, the Egyptian revolt wasn't completely nonviolent--

link

The NYT article above doesn't describe a bunch of Gandhian pacifists standing there as the police beat them. They threw stones, from what I can recall in some TV reports, and battled police and burned down police stations and that was before the counterattack by Mubarak's thugs.

Not that I'm saying it was a very violent revolution--far from it. But some people set the bar for nonviolence fairly strictly, at least sometimes--

link

Thanks for stopping by and the kind words, Bob. While I can't encourage stinkbomb tossing, I think that the occasional one adds to the inimitable ObWi bouquet

Speaking of stinkbombs, this one was a beaut.

If you want to see a really trollish response to that, go not further than Jeffrey Goldberg

Any number of ways to go with this, and if you choose one, you'll be accused of ignoring the others. Any takers?

Rosen's brutal and disgusting remark really depressed me--I hate it when someone whose politics I like says something awful. At least he seems to be realizing it in that interview, because I'd seen other quotes where he was still clueless.. But his career is done.

Goldberg, of course, is only a warmonger so he continues to have a bright future in American journalism.

Hi bob! It looks like the revolution in Egypt has inspired one in Wisconsin. My brother is out on the barracades.

Annoyingly, I wrote a long comment back about all of the above, full of links, and the the computer crashed completely.

Not rewriting it now. Drat.

But I commented on you all, at length.

Drat.

"It looks like the revolution in Egypt has inspired one in Wisconsin."

You wouldn't know this, but plenty of people have said variants of this on Twitter, and a whole lot of Egyptian people on Twitter are freaking furious. Nobody in Wisconsin is being shot, beaten bloody, disappeared, or tortured, and they're really really angry at remarks like this from Americans.

This, too, is part of what being part of a global network is about.

Bob, it's great to see you come by, I hope you won't be a stranger, and will come back, though it's useful when you make it a bit clearer when your stinkbombs are more or less serious; I, for one, often can't tell, and I sometimes have the suspicion you can't entirely tell, depending on your mood. :-)

I hadn't seen your link, though I've posted about Clay Shirky's power laws a zillion times (we first "met" when I first went online, back on panix.chat, in '95, which was a terrific place to learn online), and it's a fantastic piece, and I may swipe from it in a big way.

And, of course there's been plenty of violence in Egypt, will be more, and, well, that's stuff I should save for a post, which I'd really hope to get to early today, but first arthritis had my hands locked up, then other stuff jammed my bandwidth, then my computer crashed, and lots of spiffy excuses. Damn it.

But tomorrow is another day, though... I hate to sound like a broken record, but I also really have to get back to Highland Hospital again in the next few days, so my appearances will continue to be catch-as-catch-can. There's no lack of stuff to blog about, as ever!

Wanna cover Wisc-- well, no point in announcing stuff I may not get to, and there's always more.

Any number of ways to go with this, and if you choose one, you'll be accused of ignoring the others. Any takers?
Speaking as someone who is famous, in my tiny way, to many as an assh*le, to others as "wise," to others as someone who alternates (closer to the truth, I think), and as someone who has witnessed a fair number of famous people up close and personal since very young, paid a lot of attention to the media, and for a variety of other reasons, I think... several things. As usual.

In no particular order:

1) We all say stupid things. Some of us just say them more publically than others, and some of us much more frequently than others, and some both.

2) The more well-known you are, and the larger your megaphone is, the more an off-hand or casual remark or sentence or stupid paragraph will spread.

3) Stories of someone being stupid, saying something offensive, being an assh*le*, spread and stick around 100k faster and last 100k longer than all the wise, sensitive, insightful, and good things you ever say. You can undo years of good work in two minutes, if you're caught on camera, or instantly transmitted around the world by modern global media. I'd say "particularly social media," but it's all social media now. Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and the tv networks, and the major newspapers, and their blogs, are all inextricably mingled and intertwined now, with all reporting on each other, in a hall of mirrors.

4) There's nothing you can say that won't offend some set of people. And usually for very good reasons.

5) You can't keep your mouth shut all the time, particularly if you're a politician, writer, commentator, or otherwise public in some fashion.

6) Nobody should say stupid and offensive things. It's inexcusable.

7) I'm a man; I'm not trying to make excuses for a man saying terribly sexist things, but I'm a man, and no matter how much I may like to think I'm a feminist ally, I'm a man, and no matter how much I may read, talk, empathize, imagine, I'm not going to be a woman. At least I know that. But I still don't know that.

8) Nobody knows what it's like to walk in the shoes of another until you do. (I have a lot to say about this from the experience of someone recently learning a lot about what it's like to be disabled in some ways I previously wasn't, and how educational it's been.)

9) This is all no win.

10) Eventually, almost everyone will realize, when it dawns on everyone that privacy is a largely obsolete concept, that we're all in this no-win situation, unless we bury ourselves in 500 feet mineshafts on desert islands with no outside communications.

11) Shirkey's power laws apply to how the power of words are amplified, and we'll never all be equal, so #10 is only partially true at best.

12) Technology and the rate of change will continue to increase, so #11 is only partially true at best.

13. We're all better off keeping our mouths shut, and therefore no one should write, blog, or twitter.

14. Those of us with something to say won't do that.

15. We all need to be careful, and we'll all fail.

16. This is why I believe in extending good faith to people, and why I think that Nir Rosen said some awful things, didn't realize at the time what the context was, and I believe his apologies are sincere, and moreover, he's suffering now, and will suffer for a long time a direct hit to his career and life, and thus he's being punished for what he said, and it's not for me to speak for anyone else, but I think that's punishment enough. But that's just myself speaking for myself, not for anyone else, not for any women, nor for anyone appalled at what he said, and neither do I disagree with anyone who is appalled or has a harsher conclusion.

17. My heart goes out to Lara Logan. I tweeted this on the 15th, when I heard the news, which was when it was first breaking: "16 Feb GaryFarberKnows Gary Farber
CBS News' Lara Logan: http://t.co/uyeSSSU via @cbsnews Surrounded, brutal sustain sexual assault beating b4 saved women&soldiers. Horrible.
15 Feb

18. Everyone gets to have their own reaction.

19. That's mine at the moment, and it may be different in an hour when I read something else that influences me, or in five minutes when something else occurs to me.

20. There is no #20, but it's a nice round number.

Donald: "But his career is done."

I don't believe that for a moment. He damaged himself. Life goes on. Writers still write. It's hardly as if he was universally beloved for his points of view before this, as witness Goldberg.

About whom I also have somewhat mixed feelings. Really, one of the ways I drive people crazy is that I can see some good in almost everyone, or at least, the reasons why they're insane kooks, and often genuinely think they're doing some good, and even the kooks do some good. Yes, even Mr. Hitler did some good, even Mao, Stalin, Charlie Manson, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, you name your figure of evil and hate, and they've all at one time or another helped some people.

But the larger a figure you are, the more good or evil you are able to do, and do do. This is not moral equivocation on my part, nor am I trying to make any moral equivalencies. I'm hardly defending any of the above, either.

But nobody can be fully reduced to a bumper sticker, not if we truly want to understand them, and I believe understanding is valuable, and doesn't require forgiveness, or even lack of hatred.

But emotion isn't a substitue for reason, and yet we're, again, all human, and would be sociopathic if we didn't feel passionately abou those who we believe do evil.

Bottom line is that there are always second, third, fourth, and twentieth acts, and that when F. Scott Fitzgerald declared: "There are no second acts in American lives," he was being an idiot.

I also believe in redemption. Nir Rosen has, in my opinion, written invaluable journalism, and he's often had views I don't agree with at all. This is no contradiction: there are few people, if any, I agree with entirely. Goldberg offends me often, and yet, he, too, has had some valuable things to say at times.

When you write a lot, you end up saying a lot of things both stupid and smart. It's the percentages that matter, not the bits and pieces.

And that's where I end up at this tonight, where I usually do: taking the long view, and looking at the big picture, but not missing the close-up that people have been terribly hurt, and I'm very sorry this all happened.

Oh, and Bob? Wanna do a guest post?

Really. I've seriously been meaning to ask you.

We would have to discuss it, but I'd like to see you throw a bomb or two, so long as you're willing to accept some feedback, and then decide whether you want it to be posted, or not.

Oh, and Bob? Wanna do a guest post?

Really. I've seriously been meaning to ask you.

We would have to discuss it, but I'd like to see you throw a bomb or two, so long as you're willing to accept some feedback, and then decide whether you want it to be posted, or not.

How 480 characters unraveled my career.

He was better off not turning defensive. This part was also rather dumb:

There's probably some larger lesson about social media to be drawn here, and how its immediacy can be great in its power to connect us, but also a liability because something blurted out and not meant to be serious acquires a greater power. Then, an offensive joke can be seen as an ideological manifesto, gallows humor can be seen as a serious support for sexual assault. I only wish this had been apparent to me before I hit enter.
Dumb. Now if he'd stuck with the earlier part, fine, but not having figured out the above prior to this is just an announcement that he Doesn't Get and still doesn't get, the entire essence of how every casual remark being able to be played up like this is the issue, not the details of this specific incident.

But it's also natural he wouldn't have perspective on this, both because he was the center of this incident, and also that this isn't his area of expertise at all: understanding and have a perspective on Iraq, American imperialism, and so on, are.

GF:You wouldn't know this, but plenty of people have said variants of this on Twitter, and a whole lot of Egyptian people on Twitter are freaking furious. Nobody in Wisconsin is being shot, beaten bloody, disappeared, or tortured, and they're really really angry at remarks like this from Americans.

This, too, is part of what being part of a global network is about.

Richard Seymour "Class Struggle in America" ...from Great Britain, about Wisconsin, 2/17

Seymour:"I've just heard that one of the key teaching union organisers spent a week in Egypt studying the movement there recently, just to get an idea of how successful struggles work."

"Phil":"He's actually a member of the Teaching Assistants Association--the grad student union on campus."

Angry Arab News Service

Certain members of the Arab world have been vocally opposed to the idea that he deserves any—after the Times mentioned Sharp in passing earlier this week, the Angry Arab News Service “complained that Western journalists were looking for a ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ to explain Egyptians’ success, in a colonialist attempt to deny credit to Egyptians.” But it is clear that Sharp himself has no such intention:
...As'ad AbuKhalil

After generations of American/Western support for brutal dictators, including the Obama/Clinton attempt to protect Mubarek/Suleiman until their exit was inevitable; and after the last decade of US invasions and attempted re-colonization of the ME and South Asia; and the ongoing Obama reluctance to support the freedom movements in places like Bahrain and Jordan...I certainly can understand their resentment and suspicion. And of course, the movement in Egypt is not monolithic, and the labor/union aspects of it may be more "International" in outlook.

But Solidarity can be useful, and as shown above, Tunisia & Egypt etc can help Americans with technical advice and the benefit of their experience.

(Gary, I am pretty busy reading, and as always, feel better linking to those smarter and more knowledgeable than myself. And if resistance to Obama's "Grand Bargain" or any opportunities arise in Texas to protest the Global Neo-Liberal "Shock Therapy"...well, I may be otherwise busy)

GF:Nobody in Wisconsin is being shot, beaten bloody, disappeared, or tortured

It's very early, but it isn't as if the US gov'ts haven't had a lot of practice with the above in the last decade. Even American citizens, the consensus among rights groups is that Bradley Manning is being tortured.

Well, that was extremely annoying.

Long story short, is I wrote what I think was very good post this a.m. on Egypt, information tech, Arab world, combination of things, but all very time-dependent, and in the end, computer problems made it into dust in the wind.

Arthritis interfering with hands, typing, posting, other crap in life, just feeling like sh*t right now. Too much suck in life.

And can't even get good post posted without it destroying self.

Shouldn't comment here for a while until things are better.

But that frustrates me, too.

Life sucks and then you die. What's it all matter, anyway?

Certain members of the Arab world have been vocally opposed to the idea that he deserves any—after the Times mentioned Sharp in passing earlier this week, the Angry Arab News Service “complained that Western journalists were looking for a ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ to explain Egyptians’ success, in a colonialist attempt to deny credit to Egyptians.” But it is clear that Sharp himself has no such intention [....]
read that earlier, was part of intended piece. Too many pieces in head, don't have fingers, health, enough, to get them out. Grr.

Must go work on being philosophical happy fun guy again. Having Depressed Guy Moments, or day. Everything is making me cranky, grey day outside everywhere, okay, am going away now.

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