Tag Archives: terrorism

After the Arab Spring: How Islamists Hijacked the Middle East Revolts

Some guy named Kyle commented favorably on my Good Reads review of John R. Bradley’s After the Arab Spring: How Islamists Hijacked the Middle East Revolts, which inspired a response from me, but perhaps more importantly also reminded me how interesting and important a book this is.

I love the hell out of John R. Bradley’s books; I think he’s the best English language writer on the Middle East currently working. The guy is also terrifyingly young, by the way — according to the Wikipedia page about him, he was born in June, 1970.

Anyway, it turns out the commenter, Kyle, aka Kyle Williams, has a bio that says he’s a Harvard-educated counterterrorism analyst, and has his own book about terrorism, available free online, and a blog by the same name that on first glance seems pretty balanced and engaging.

That also reminds me that I haven’t been keeping up with my favorite international affairs blog, The Coming Anarchy, which was inspired by Robert Kaplan‘s book of the same name (about the post-Soviet collapse). The bad news is, apparently the folks at The Coming Anarchy haven’t been keeping up with themselves; their most recent update is from last October.

I’ve never been entirely clear on whether the TCA blog is Robert Kaplan fan service for international relations nerds, or simply a thematic riff on a Kaplan-esque theme; as far as I can tell, there’s no affiliation between Kaplan and The Coming Anarchy Blog. The latter tends to run a little more conservative than my own politics are, but then, I tend to run more conservative when it comes to international affairs than I am in most other matters, so I’d frankly rather enjoy a bout of conversational fisticuffs with some well-informed Tories than a Kumbaya fest with some of my fellow peace-and-love hippies who want to talk about how great Iran and Cuba are.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s my return comment to Kyle on interesting books about other regions that hint at what John R. Bradley does with the Middle East and North Africa. It’s worth saying, though, that as Bradley is probably, currently, my favorite English-language writer on the politics and culture of any international region, no other author comes close to him on such topics. I don’t find anybody as irresistibly readable as Bradley.


Celebrate Black Friday with the Playmobil Airline Screening Playset

Daniel Solove at Concurring Opinions has a hilarious comic about the recent TSA screening uproar. It’s a follow-up to his post five years ago about the Playmobil Airline Screening Playset, which you can buy for your very own at Amazon.com. Maybe if we all get together and buy a lot of them, Playmobil will be inspired to expand that product line. I, for one, would love to spend hours playing with the Fallujah Checkpoint Playlist, the Kabul Suicide Bomber Interdiction Kit, the Blackwater Maritime Security Somali Piracy Prevention Gunboat, and of course DEA Humbolt: Midnight Helicopter Raid!

The comments at Amazon are so bizarre and uproarious that I’m left utterly convinced that the Playset is a hoax. And yet? There it is, manipulated by Daniel into illustrative cautionary tales about the dangers of unchecked government.


Man Loses Twitter “Joke” Appeal for Threatening to Blow Up Robin Hood

Stephen Fry from Happy Birthday to GNU

The man convicted of “menace” after he Tweeted a “joke” threat about blowing up Doncaster-Sheffield’s Robin Hood Airport has lost his appeal. (Yes!!! It’s really called Robin Hood Airport!!). Don’t worry, though; Oscar Wilde agreed to pay his fine.

That’s not the real Oscar Wilde — he’s still dead, last I heard — but actor Stephen Fry, who played Wilde in Wilde and quit Twitter recently after suggesting women don’t enjoy sex, which pissed a few of them off (and surely some men who felt obliged to differ).


Bombs+Fake Cocaine=LOLZ

Creative Commons Photo by John Manoogian III.

Dreading those long security lines during your wild-blue-yonder forays this holiday season?

Well, y’know what makes that shoes-off-laptop-out-belt-off-did-I-forget-my-cell-phone shit fly right by?!?

A little thing called panic!

And you know what? In that regard, the Transportation Safety Administration ishere to help!

That’s right, the Smoking Gun details a the wacky hijinks of a Philadelphia TSA agent who got bored looking for explosives and decided to prank passengers. The Bomb Appraisal Officer (BAO) — whose name has been redacted — was using creatine as a test substance in the evaluation of bomb-detection equipment.