Egypt '11 Recalls ... Iowa '08?
February 14, 2011

[Guest post by Noam Scheiber:] Clearly I'm going to catch a lot of flack for this--much of it deserved, since the analogy is flawed in too many ways to list (though I feel some obligation to list the biggest one: Obviously turning out to protest an autocratic regime is an almost infinitely greater act of courage than showing up to vote for a presidential candidate in a liberal democracy). Still, if you followed the way the Obama campaign organized for the Iowa caucuses, it's hard not to think of that episode when you read this excellent New York Times piece about the origins of the Egyptian p

The Reality of Revolution
February 14, 2011

In both the euphoria and the apprehension that have accompanied the popular uprisings in the Arab Middle East that, no matter who succeeds them, have already resulted in the fall of two tyrants and the first credible threats to several more, there has been much talk about freedom and democracy and about secularism versus Islamism. Predictably, if also dishearteningly, there has been an avalanche of the usual cyber-utopian techno-babble about the emancipatory potential of the Bluetooth devices and Twitter feeds for which authoritarian tyrannies are said to be no match.

Table Setting
February 10, 2011

I am always falling in love when I have work to do. But there are other distractions, if you don’t pull through: roll of red ribbon, green candle on a crystal stand, orange cup of unground salt, violets with furry leaves. Map of the north cape with tunnel directions. And there are finer pairs than you and I would make: pale tablecloth with pink flowers, pale sky with pink sky at mountain height, brown teacup and saucer, golden honey jar and golden space between one mountain and another. A golden green night field.

Head Out on the Highway
February 10, 2011

The search for a likely place to pull over gets more difficult each day, as cloverleaf and cloverleaf give way to fast food exits and unlikely outlets. We get better at doing something, so we do it every day. Every day, we do the something, even if it kills us. Which it does. There’s nothing at the package store that we can’t get on the internet. And it’s not like the price of gas goes down. Nor anything else. I’ve been wanting a lonely lane that’s off the map.

Is It 1989 All Over Again?
February 04, 2011

History does not enable us to predict the future, but it does help us to prepare for it. It therefore makes sense that commentators are searching for historical precedents to the dramatic events in Egypt. History might help shed light on where the potentially revolutionary developments are heading. It is important to get the history right, however. Some commentators have suggested that the world might be witnessing a repetition of the events of 1979, when an Islamic revolution overthrew the Shah of Iran.

The Persecution Of Rush Limbaugh
February 04, 2011

The newest issue of Commentary has an ode to the goodness of Rush Limbaugh, authored by Wilfred M. McClay.

Understanding Egypt's Protests
February 01, 2011

Cairo, Egypt—For years, analysts and journalists have described the Egyptian masses as apathetic and embattled. But, after the last five days, it’s impossible to say this anymore. Since January 25, protesters have taken to the streets in Egypt’s major cities, demanding an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s almost 30-year reign. Here is an explainer of the main actors in Egypt today and what they may be thinking. The protesters. Egyptian men and women of all ages and social classes are amassed in central squares in major cities, including Cairo, Alexandria, Mansoura, Suez, and Aswan.

I Desired You, I Didn’t
January 27, 2011

I desired you, I didn’t. I desired what’s coming of the past. The roads will open for us. Life will take us to its nature. We’ll forget our shadows under the ancient pine tree, and leave them there seated in shadows. A new day will rise over our roads. We have two separate shadows that don’t embrace or return the swallows’ greetings. I said: Think of the shadow if you want to remember. She said: Be strong and realistic, forget my shadow. On two roads life will take us to its new nature. The dove won’t herald peace or safety. We won’t be as we wished to be.

Mother Superior
January 27, 2011

Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, a memoir about raising children “the Chinese way,” has provoked, well, a reaction.

Connectivity Conundrum
January 26, 2011

The night I lost my digital virginity, I was sixteen, visiting family in Paris. One evening, my cousin and I decided to go to a movie. Before I could reach for the newspaper listings, he switched on a box the size of a small television that sat on a living room shelf, unnoticed by me until that moment. The screen glowed blue as he typed in a sequence of numbers. Voilà! The desired information appeared in a flash of light that seemed nothing less than magical.