Saturday, July 21, 2007

Weekend News Roundup

My personal favorite from this week has got to be: TSA Moron Mistakes iPod Charger for Bomb Equipment.  This just displays the intellectual capacity of the average TSA worker and, just leads us deeper into the Stupid Well.  On the other hand, who would be so insane, and so addicted to their iPod that the normal battery time isn't enough?  With TSA questioning geeks and their inventions at a regular pace, our lives are invariably going to be more frustrating.  I like people who can make their own stuff like at, but just like I say to the fat lady in the bikini - put it in the backyard.  Nobody wants to see that shit, especially at security in an airport.   You're doing nobody service making us miserable having to live with your addictions / ego.  And to the TSA workers, "go back to working at KMART!"

More on Marbles in Motion
This is called architecture as moral pressure. 

Fashionable Fundies / Hijab:
The New Swimsuit Issue
Move over, Tankini. Since the full-coverage swimsuit dubbed the Burqini (as in burqa plus bikini) hit the international market in January, devout Muslim women have been snapping them up. T

The Stupid Well aka Passports / Gate Rape:
TSA Moron Mistakes Ipod Charger For Bomb Equipment

U.S. Will Allow Most Types of Lighters on Planes
Aviation authorities concluded that it was a waste of time to search for the lighters before passengers boarded.

Lawmakers said that if Mr. Reid had used a lighter, instead of matches, he might have been able to ignite the bomb, but Kip Hawley, assistant secretary for the Transportation Security Administration, said in an interview on Thursday that the ban had done little to improve aviation security because small batteries could be used to set off a bomb.

Matches have never been prohibited on flights.

“Taking lighters away is security theater,” Mr. Hawley said. “It trivializes the security process.” The policy change, which is to go into effect on Aug. 4, applies to disposable butane lighters, like Bics, and refillable lighters, like Zippos. Torch lighters, which have thin, hotter flames, will continue to be banned. A ban on liquids in containers greater than three ounces, which was imposed last summer after the disruption of a plot based in London to blow up planes headed to the United States, will remain in effect, but the security agency will modify its rules related to breast milk. Passengers will be allowed to carry breast milk in quantities greater than three ounces as long as it is declared for inspection at the security checkpoint. Currently, breast milk is allowed only if a passenger is traveling with an infant. In late 2005, security officials lifted a ban on small scissors, screwdrivers and other small tools, making a similar argument that searching for them was a waste of time. 

In the coming months, the agency will install new equipment intended to improve its ability to intercept explosives. The new equipment will include advanced X-ray machines that rapidly examine carry-on bags from many angles, making it easier to identify bomb components, and hand-held devices that can determine whether a liquid might be explosive. 

International Politics: 
To the uninitiated, Cairo traffic is ferocious and dangerous. (The July 17 New York Times described it as "chaos.") Yet Cairenes think nothing of walking in the street (unavoidable, given the dilapidated or nonexistent state of sidewalks in many areas), darting across four lanes of traffic, and wading into masses of oncoming cars, buses, and trucks. Although Egypt has its share of traffic deaths (about 6,000 per year, not too much more than Turkey—a country of roughly comparable population—which averages 4,500 traffic fatalities a year), most Cairenes seem fearless. After a few months, even I had no problem ambling through traffic along Cairo's central axes. Why? Well, I didn't go to Egyptian driving school, and I didn't study Cairo's traffic laws, because they don't matter much. Instead, like most Cairenes, I became habituated to the informal rules of the road. I eventually grew to learn—after quite a few near misses—when to cross a busy street, when to stay put, when a car would swerve, and when it wouldn't. As a result, Cairo traffic doesn't look so menacing to me anymore. 

The point of all this is not simply to reminisce, but to point out one of the least understood but critically important factors that influence politics: informal institutions. These uncodified rules shape people's behaviors and expectations and contrast with formal institutions—such as constitutions, laws, decrees, and regulations—that also frame the way people think and act.

Muslims in America: 
Participants at Unprecedented Summit With U.S. Officials Confront Extremist Images Attending what Muslim American activists say is the highest-level meeting ever between Muslim American youths and U.S. officials, Mohamed Sabur couldn't help but notice a frustrating paradox. Part of what motivated the 23-year-old to leave computer science for politics was anger at seeing his community constantly defined by extreme topics such as religious violence. And yet Sabur sat last week through unprecedented meetings with officials from the departments of Homeland Security, State and Justice, and one subject kept coming up: Muslim American youth radicalization. A video accessible on same page, as well. 

Articles On Egypt:
Like Arthur Koestler's "Darkness at Noon" or Victor Serge's "The Case of Comrade Tulayev," this fierce yet subtle novel lays bare the worst evil of totalitarian states. The evil lies not solely in the sudden arrests, the interrogations, and tortures, all of which are conveyed in stammered disclosures in "Café Karnak" — a device that gives them the impact of testimony — but in the way in which state terror contaminates its victims. Friendship becomes suspect and love is riddled with mistrust. In the characters of Qurunfula, the retired dancer who runs the café (and whose name means "clove," a fragrant but biting spice), the young dreamers Isma'il and Zaynab, as well as the sinister Khalid Safwan, we witness the relentless extinction of hope. 

Cairo: To Sayeda, a mother of three girls, the Egyptian authorities' high-profile campaign to eradicate the age-old practice of female circumcision is due to "Western pressure". "My three girls have already been circumcised because this protects their chastity and is in line with our religious teachings," says Sayeda, a 38-year-old Muslim, who lives in a slum on the outskirts of Cairo. "My neighbours have circumcised their girls too. I have been told that only Jews do not circumcise their girls." 

Egypt: Inside the school of the Egyptian blogosphere
In other words, the Egyptians aren't merely sitting in front of their computer screens, blogging about the change they'd like to see happen — they are deeply committed to being a part of the process. By acting as watchdogs on the government and on the country's mainstream media, they have gained credibility beyond their local audience and attracted the attention of regional and international media that is following their every move.

Egypt: Inside the school of the Egyptian blogosphere (Part 2)
In order to better understand this highly organized Egyptian blogosphere and how bloggers perceive their role in this new, turbulent phase in their country's history, on March 15, 2007, I talked to three young Egyptian bloggers and activists: Rami Siam, Arabesque and Amr Gharbeia.

Internet Anonymity (Not!):
On the Internet, everyone may find you're a dog
Anonymity on the Web may seem attractive, but how you use it raises interesting ethical dilemmas.

There is also that nasty ethical issue: Just because you can write under a pseudonym doesn't mean you should, especially if it compromises your integrity or threatens your company.

Avoiding the use of pseudonyms online is not just good advice for public figures, it works for everyone. The freedom of the Internet doesn't mean you can do whatever you want without consequence. Many ways exist to trace "anonymous" posts. The Los Angeles Times, for example, used Internet addresses to trace Hiltzik's postings back to his work computer.

When speaking about the Internet at conferences or seminars, I give this advice about e-mail, posting comments in a forum, or sending instant messages: Don't write anything online that you would not like to see on the front page of The New York Times. Ask Bill Gates: That's where his e-mails ended up during the Microsoft antitrust case in the late 1990s.

On the Internet nobody may know you're a dog. But don't count on the fact that someone won't be able to find out where that dog lives.


Mubarak's obsession with Muslim Brotherhood deals blow to multiparty politics


  1. hey! i'm going to cali this weekend and won't be back until is the website i was talking about where i made extra summer cash. Later! the website is here