Egypt: The revolution will not be Twitterized

A plainclothes policeman runs to attack a foreign journalist as others beat a protester during a demonstration in Cairo. (Photo: Reuters via the New York Post)

UPDATED BELOW:

Or, um, tweeted. But y’know trying to play off that Gil Scott-Heron classic…..

Anyway. Enough, already, with the social media self-congratulations.

It ain’t about Facebook, and it ain’t about Twitter. It’s not an app that makes someone jump into a phalanx of armed, shielded riot cops, or to deal with the thug in the picture above.

Indian filmmaker Parvez Sharma’s post on Mondoweiss makes the point well:

[T]his “revolution” is not about social networking and its success. The majority of the 80 million people of Egypt live in abject poverty. They do not even have cell-phones let alone smartphones like the iPhone or the Droid. They go to kiosks to make calls. A pretty substantial number of them have NEVER used the internet and do not have email accounts: the complicated mechanisms of self-promotion and information gathering and sharing on social networks is not a part of their lives—they have never had the money or the resources to get access to this other world which often lives in the relatively more affluent neighborhoods like Zamalek or Garden City or Mohandaseen—all within some walking distance of where the dissent started in Tahrir Square.

The majority of the protesters in Cairo, in Suez, in Alexandria, in Luxor, in Mahla, in Manoura and all over this ancient land which is the very heart of what it means to be Arab—are not “twittering” or “facebooking” or “emailing”  or even watching the landmark live coverage that Al-Jazeera is providing. They are out on the streets—and yes, without phone access—risking their lives and giving vent to three decades and perhaps more, of anger.

Note: At the moment that link seems not to be working. Mondoweiss is down. I actually linked from this cached page.

UPDATE:  Sharma is unable to post on Mondoweiss, still down as I type (12:30 ET), so he has offered this update on Brian Whitaker’s blog:

My friend Fouad was able to get on the landline again. His body and soul are still bruised and yet he has never been more hopeful. His severe anger at Hosni Mubarak’s speech full of lies and his ambivalence about the appointment of Omar Soliman, the head of intelligence as the new vice president.

It a fragmented conversation on a still functioning landline. And as bullets do rain all around him, here are his bullet points. The thoughts and experiences of an ordinary citizen, not a reporter.

  • Mohandaseen is burning—we are surrounded by looters, and the army is just watching
  • They are looting houses and we have no idea who these looters are
  • My parents asked army tank guys and they said we cannot intervene!
  • Everyone here is saying that Mubarak is being spiteful-he wants looters so that he can say: “Look, I gave you calm for 30 years.
    OK now you want to get rid of me? Well see the chaos my going can bring. Enjoy the unrest and the looting. Only I could have protected all of you!”
  • I was driving and 3 men with knives attacked me near Sudan street—I had to sort of run them over
  • Big rumor that Mubarak is releasing prisoners and arming them so that they can infiltrate neighbourhoods and loot them
    Maadi, Street number nine-huge vandalism happening—There is looting everywhere in Rihab city, in Mohandasin, in Shubra. In Heliopolis there are plainsclothes police
  • My parents are organizing all the baobabs in our street and making blockades to stop the looters
  • There are Balkageyah (thugs) everywhere—all rich neighborhoods are being attacked
  • I think he is fucked up yaani–He didnt resign—his speech instigated the violence—now looters and the poor think that when you know there is no hope you might as well get as much as you can as long as the chaos lasts–people were hopeful that he would go
  • Maybe in other governates — people are more organized and closer to each other as community members … so they will organize better, perhaps — In Cairo it is difficult to control the chaos and disorder—there are 19 million people in this city who often don’t talk to each other and are so separated by class and money — I am wondering how they can organize together?
  • The people in Cairo are fighting two things–they are fighting police forces but also now fighting looters
  • People prayed the Salat ul Genaza, the funeral prayer after the evening prayers in Tahrir—we carried a body through the crush of thousands—I was crying, so many of us were crying

Trivial things like bee extinction can’t get in the way of our industry-friendly EPA

Tom Philpott, writing in Grist, on the crazymaking consensus that Obama echoed this week in the WSJ, that there is TOO MUCH regulation in the United States.

Echoing this classic right-wing talking point seems an odd move in the wake of Wall Street meltdown, the Upper Big Branch mining disaster, and the BP oil spill — all directly related to excessive de-regulation. And let’s not forget the sad saga of the EPA’s attempts to reckon with clothianidin, the agrichemical giant Bayer’s blockbuster pesticide that the EPA’s own scientists think may be harming our extremely fragile honeybee population.

As many of you know, I keep bees, and it is a more-than-occasionally futile endeavor. This big infographic at the, ah, dailyinfographic.com (is there another word for these things?) leaves me with mixed emotions. Slightly relieved that it is not (entirely) my own incompetence that is holding me back. But appalled at the numerous threats–pests, pesticides, weather, radiation, and stress from overworking–interacting together in evil synergistic combinations, to drive the honeybee to extinction.

The video below comes from Tom Theobald, a Colorado beekeeper, the recipient of a leaked EPA memo. He is a new personal hero of mine.

You really should take the time to watch it.

Oh, well, it’s only bees. Just another species. Only a third of our food supply.

Next time anybody tells you there’s TOO MUCH regulation, show them this video.

Ole Ole

Were you familiar with Ole Rasmussen and His Nebraska  Cornhuskers? I was not, not really.

Maybe I’m guilty of being sentimental, but stumbling upon something like this, a shit-hot version of “Stay a little longer” by a band I had never heard of, except an accidental glance at the liner notes on the Swing West! compilation I borrowed from the library, ripped, and then forgot about…. well, it just makes me think that there was a time in America when there were acts this good playing in bars and nightclubs across the country, in small towns and medium-sized meccas like Bakersfield. Once upon a time, America really rocked, and there were dozens if not hundreds of regional scenes. All featuring musicians with major choppage.

Now, by way of contrast,I present to you Exhibit B, the great Willie sharing the stage with a pair of, shall we say, lesser talents. I think a case can be made for Mr. Keith, but the other guy…. check out from 1:00 to 1:10 and, well, that’s just how far we’ve fallen….

Waiting for the dead truck


In the last year I’ve become a little too familiar with DARS, the Dead Animal Removal Service. The Dead Truck, in local parlance. The dispatcher always calls you “hon” on the phone. The driver of the truck hauling the trailer with stiff limbs sticking out the top is a college kid who navigates with GPS on his IPhone. A great service. I’m glad it’s there. Just wish I never had to use it.

But I do today. Again. Number 23, a cow I really could never stand, got sick suddenly, and now she’s gone.

On Sunday I watched her drinking from the tank and thought she looked great. On Monday I found her wandering far from the herd and had a weird wild look in her eyes. Tuesday she laid down and couldn’t get up. This morning, Wednesday, I had my neighbor Dave come shoot her and drag her out for the dead truck.

Tuesday might have been the day to do something, but can’t really beat myself up about it. I had no way to get her loaded onto a trailer, and the vet would have charged a fortune, if I could have gotten him to come out. Standing a 1200-pound animal up in the mud on a slope would have been a hell of a chore.

So she is gone. She was from the original five cow/calf pairs I bought a couple years back, and she was by far the worst. Nervous and unpredictable, I could never walk near her without being on my guard. She had very low status in the herd, and always ate last. And something happened to her calf this summer. Either she miscarried, or had it and lost it in the tall grass to coyotes. Whatever happened, she didn’t “clean up” well, and dragged that placenta around for a couple of weeks. I speculate that she slipped the calf she was carrying this winter, but my neighbors don’t think that is likely. Her udders were massive, and would have led to problems down the road. I was going to see if she could calf one more time and then sell her, but never got the chance.

I allow myself sometimes to indulge in anthropomorphic comparisons with my cows. Number 19 is a fearless, intelligent cow, but as a mother leaves much to be desired. She is a fallen woman from a country western song, in love with dim lights, thick smoke, and loud loud music. Or to bring things up to date, would be most likely to become a crack whore. Numbers 25 and 119 are solid citizen cows, even temperament, attentive mothers.  Number 23, may she rest in peace, was a good mother cow, fiercely protective of her calves, but nervous to a fault. She would be the mother most likely to develop a Zoloft habit.  Her calf from last year inherited her crabby disposition and her propensity for causing trouble. She managed to get pregnant by a bull that was left with the herd a little too long, and actually became an underage mother, delivering a runty calf in September to the surprise of everyone, including (I think) herself. She would have nothing to do with that calf.

All this trouble I trace back to the problematic Number 23. And yet I feel like I’ve done her a bad karmic turn. I was pretty much helpless to do much of anything, but I still feel awful about leaving her in the mud to die.

So, I will say that I  am deeply sorry.

Here’s hoping DARS comes in a timely manner. Last year, when my donkeys died, it took five days for the dead truck to come.

Girly Show: My 2010 Best Of music list

This whole Best of the Year thing strikes me as a little contrived.

As with any year, my ITunes was as likely to be playing Serge Gainsbourg or June Christie, Johnny Burnett or Wynn Stewart, as anything released in the current year. But for some reason, in 2010 I got to sample what Everyone Was Talking About. Thank the Internet, my Emusic subscription (still *this* close to canceling – as ever), worthwhile music sites like Stereogum and Music For Ants mixtapes, not to mention Amazon’s selling many of the year’s top albums for $3.99 or less for a few weeks before Christmas. (For that last counterintuitive marketing ploy, thanks and praise to the vanity of musicians obsessing over units sold, regardless of price).

Anyway … no! I am not a professional music critic, if such a profession still exists–nor do I play one on TV. But here are 10 or so good songs and/or albums, just in case you’ve run out of lists to scan.

This is the first time I’ve compiled such a list. And attention, Jezebel editors! Nearly all of my picks feature women! Either as singers, distaff halves of duets (not sure I used “distaff” right there), or … um … bands with girl bass players. I mean nothing by this, or I don’t think I do. (And my record collection in high school was, like, ALL dudes. So maybe I’m evolving.)

Herewith, in no particular order, a mix of song choices and album choices with a couple of just-because-they’re-cool-videos at the end.



PJ Harvey, The Last Living Rose. I love the video as much as the song, ever so English and elegaic. Another new direction for the mercurial Polly.

Cradle, The first of two in my series featuring Welsh women of song, from the aptly named Joy Formidable!

… and the second, Marina and the Diamonds. This is probably the least watched of Marina’s many videos this year, and perhaps not the best song from her altogether amazing album … but this video! Lingerie! Zombies! Thriller homage!

Matt & Kim, AM/FM Sound. I very much enjoyed the Lessons Learned video, where they frolicked naked through Times Square. (“Tourists walk through Times Square inappropriately dressed for the weather.”) Just in case they are stuck for ideas: DO THAT ONE AGAIN!

Best Coast, I Wish I Was Your Boyfriend. I liked some other songs from Crazy for You better, but what a sweet video! The album is great top to bottom, and for me stayed that way for many months after I first heard it. Very high concept, though. As with Sleigh Bells, I imagine there will be whisperings about what they will do for an encore. As with Sleigh Bells, I think it will be something terrific.

Arcade Fire, Sprawl II Mountains Beyond Mountains. OK. Everyone liked this one, but occasionally everyone gets it right.

Superchunk, Digging for Something. Liked ’em, but didn’t love ’em in their heyday, but I played this song more times in my 1995 Camry Wagon this summer than any other except for Rill Rill. Seriously LOL video.

Cults, Go Outside. Ew, that icky Jim Jones intro–what is the point of that?–but what a beautiful tune. More cowbell? Nay! More GLOCKENSPIEL!

‘Allo Darlin’ – I adore the self-titled album as a whole more than this, or any, particular song. Unashamedly emotion-laden, a tad on the twee side, and wise beyond their years. I am also in love with the singer’s Queensland inflections. Lips. Silly. Telephone. Teddy Bear. Bondi Beach and Coogee Bay. (“I like the sound of their names”). I also turn slightly morose at an earlier song of theirs, a simple uke-strumalong called Tallulah. “I’m wondering if/I’ve already heard /All the songs that’ll mean something.”

You should not be thinking such thoughts at such a young age. And the answer is no.

Lykke Li, Get Some. At first underwhelmed by the line “I’m your prostitute. You’re gonna get some.” But then just gave in to the thumping drive of this song, her awkward yet intense body language, and the way she bites her lip with such determination. This girl is scary talented. A whole album coming this year!

Sleigh Bells, Infinity Guitars. I’ve seen a few reviews stating that the Sleigh Bells sound is not a lot more than an audacious, jokey gimmick, but the staying power of that sound is impossible to overstate. Favorite album of the year.

Weepies, Please Speak Well of Me. Special guest appearance by a pair of grownups. Gorgeously understated, modest in scope and sentiment, this song resonated hugely with me in a year where I had to deal with some major people in my life not being there anymore. That might not entirely be what it’s about, but I took it that way….



Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffitti, Round and Round
. The only dude singer in this whole bunch, and it would have to be a guy who elsewhere sings “Make me maternal, fertile woman/Make me menstrual, menopause man/Rape me, castrate me, make me gay/Lady, I’m a lady from today.” This song diddles around for nearly two minutes, then becomes a thing of beauty. The two-minute mark is also where this inspired unofficial vid kicks into high gear.

Bonus videos:

Scissors Sisters, Invisible Light.
Dream logic writ large. Buñuel-esque. Memorable jodhpurs.


Yeasayer, Madder Red.
This will gross you out a little, and might make you cry. It also might give you newfound admiration for Kristen Bell’s acting chops.