January 26th, 2011 § § permalink
Issandr El Amrani on managing protest:
My own experience is that elite Egyptians tend to think in terms of getaway plans, because they are either deeply in bed with the regime or because they expect an uprising to become a class war
[doh: it’d be interesting to map the world in terms of how much consideration elites give to escape plans. You’d come out with some combination of physical insecurity, political insecurity, and paranoia. Who in Europe has a second passport ‘just in case’? Or realy, really wants one? Almost nobody. But in Egypt? In Israel? In China?]
There has been a dramatic state failure to maintain basic health services and deliver good education. This is perhaps Egypt’s biggest failure. And as in all Arab countries, autocratic political systems have de-intermediated citizens from their rulers. What I mean by this is that the channels to relay popular grievances to governments have been deeply eroded by money and power. This is dangerous, because in the end it blindsides the regimes to the popular mood, and means there are people at the local level who have the moral authority to calm the situation should there be an outburst of anger.
July 31st, 2010 § § permalink
I’m interested in the superhero in real life, but not the comic book version. I’ve had some distancing thoughts about them recently. I’ve come to the conclusion that what superheroes might be — in their current incarnation, at least — is a symbol of American reluctance to involve themselves in any kind of conflict without massive tactical superiority. I think this is the same whether you have the advantage of carpet bombing from altitude or if you come from the planet Krypton as a baby and have increased powers in Earth’s lower gravity. That’s not what superheroes meant to me when I was a kid. To me, they represented a wellspring of the imagination. Superman had a dog in a cape! He had a city in a bottle! It was wonderful stuff for a seven-year-old boy to think about. But I suspect that a lot of superheroes now are basically about the unfair fight. You know: people wouldn’t bully me if I could turn into the Hulk.
January 11th, 2010 § § permalink
Even the New York Times is getting in on the Paris-bashing party
November 25th, 2009 § § permalink
From Art Goldhammer’s lecture on French culture:
A Jew, Sartre said, is one who is a Jew for the anti-Semite. So let us say that Culture is that which is Culture
for the Other. And let us stipulate further that the Other of Culture is Power, with which it is
locked in mutual embrace