Listen, I know you like the Cavaliers a lot. A lot a lot. But that is no way to cheer. Simply put, it sounded like you were having an autistic orgasm 3 feet from Jon Barry. And it creeped me out to have to listen to it for the whole fourth quarter.
The news continues to filter in as the triumph of Hamas in the Gaza strip becomes apparent, culminating with the Palestinian government being dissolved by President Mahmoud Abbas this past hour. Fatah is running with its tail between its legs (quite literally – 40 Executive Force soldiers loyal to Abbas had to blow up a section of the Israeli-constructed Gaza-Egyptian wall to escape into Egypt), much to the dismay of the Western governments who trumpeted Abbas as the heralded moderate in post-Arafat Palestine. It seems his time is dwindling as a serious power broker in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict or in Palestinian internal affairs (the tally for Abbas brokered cease-fires to be consequently ignored the next day is in the teens).
The casual observer will be quick to judge on lines of the media-fueled zero-sum game between Islamist Hamas and Moderate Fatah (capitalized due to caricatures). The adjectives may be comfortingly simple, the reality has always been faith-based militants with a panache for service and charity against white mustaches primarily interested in diverting funds to Swiss bank accounts and sending their children to Paris. Though not nearly as popular as reported, Hamas has succeeded in creating a following extremely devoted to their principles, while Fatah generated support primarily by bullying and defacto generational transposition. The common thread of allegiance to Fatah is that of Palestinian antiquities — tribes, elders, local militias — compared to the grassroots organization of Hamas.
While Fatah was birthed out of the loins of the pan-Arab, Nassir-led movement, it was reared by the slimy hands of Yasser Arafat, who personally siphoned off over one billion dollars of international aid and lined the pockets of those around him. The bleakest moment came on the international stage as the world recoiled at the actions of an over-militarized, second-world dictator: Arafat openly cheered on the sideline as Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1991. For years, Fatah became synonymous with the delusional old crank who only had friends because of internationally funded hand outs.
Arafat’s malignant spirit still casts a dark shadow over a group that has further mimiced his policies of graft and kleptocracy. While the money laundering continued as the Palestinian infastructure collapsed, Fatah sunk in a cesspool of its own political bankruptcy, leading to the dismal showing in the 2006 parliamentary elections that may be regarded in the future as the institutional revolution of Hamas. Some claimed a philosophical victory for Hamas in the territories, but the truth was a poorly coached game, mired by political infighting over spoils within Fatah while the populace grew more disaffected with the habits of corrupted old elites.
In the short run, the collapse of the Palestinian government and the split between a Fatah dominated West Bank and a Hamas dominated Gaza will be disastrous. The West’s worst fears of an isolated Islamic state in Palestine and guerrilla warfare against Israel won’t be realized. However, this rupture will not only take a significant portion of time to heal, but certainly speeds up the process of decline for Fatah that began in 1993 at the Oslo agreements and the proceeding failed peace negotiations.
In the long term, this may speed up the precipitous decline of Fatah, a shell of a party that long ago abandoned its platform of secular socialism in favor of an unhealthy dose of bureaucracy and corruption. The only hope can be that a true moderate party, more responsive to the Palestinian people, will arise during the slow bleed of Fatah’s death.
Hamas: Documents from GSS HQ prove Fatah links to CIA by Terresa Monroe-Hamilton
Things worth checking out, internationally speaking: Coming Anarchy has one of their best posts in a while with On Demographics, Part 3: Why the Gap will conquer the Core. To summarize, it is about the convergence of the third world with the first, and how this will be achieved without the world turning into an over-polluted, under-educated, disease ridden planet. My further comments (serious for once!) can be followed on the post itself.
Joerg at the Atlantic Review talks about the American-rightist cultivated fear of an Islamicized Europe. Largely a product of fear rather than reality, this is the Le Pen’s of America projecting their fear of an increasingly non-white world onto others. You can be assured that the same people sounding the alarms about Europe are the same crying out dey took der jobs (or, no to immigrants, for you non-South Park viewers).
In the international irony scene, a Russian who spent some serious time in the Gulag for criticizing Stalin was recently given an award by none other than Putin himself! Putin then had him shot.
Continuing on this theme in the good ol’ US of A, Marginal Revolution has a post on Norman Finkelstein being denied tenure at Depaul. Somehow, the fact that Crazed Plagarist / Zionist Crusader Alan Dershowitz spent his time since being called out by Finkelstein trying to ruin him eludes everyone there. And also, somehow a majority of Americans believe in creationism AND evolution? It’s like choosing between Sunjaya and some other androgynous male to impregnate my teenage daughter! I just don’t know which one I want.
Tiny Revolution also has a great post about Bernie Aronson, one of the figures in a documentary about unions titled Harlan County USA. He was actually a union laborer around these times. And now? He’s on the board of trustees for Freedom House and writes op-eds on how much he hates Hugo Chavez. Quel dommage.
Other things that make me go ooooooooh: There are 586 days until the election. 586 mother fucking days. Seth Godin asks the important question: how can someone be in favor of the impeachment of Bill Clinton but not of George Bush? A U.S. soldier was beaten and tased at McCarran Airport. And for your wonderful governmentsponsored action of the day: “The Army secretly dumped 64 million pounds of nerve and mustard agents into the sea, along with 400,000 chemical-filled bombs, land mines and rockets and more than 500 tons of radioactive waste.” (what, they couldn’t apparently your family gets sweet coloring books! Sign me up!
Via BC, I came across Note to (Black) Men: No Such Thing as “Free Head” on Jim Izraels blog. This may be the greatest article I’ve read in a long, long time, and I suggest you check it out right fucking now, along with the rest of his blog. I will give you a snippet, which should encourage you to read this article:
You gotta know that, going to Shaker Hts High School, this was the kind of thing that happened a lot. I mean, every-day, every-other week, with alarming frequency. Young white girls would invite brothers off into a corner, a stairwell, a car or a bathroom, or home and service them. They’d get busted, and then the Bros were getting suspended for getting their dick sucked. Like clockwork. The girls always got off madd-light, if they got any punishment at all. The girls never cried rape. In fact, they bragged about it, as they were being sent away to private school. One white girl was sucking her (black) dude’s dick on a band trip, with a teacher sitting about a seat and a half away. Now, I don’t want to make it like only white girls were sucking dick at my school. There was Cujo ( who wore a Buckwheat hair-style and was dog-ugly) and the Legendary Beefeater, both of whom were sisters pros at the duck-sick game. Problem was, they would often burn you (as in, with Da Clap, Da Herps or worse), and word spread quickly. There were other sisters, including Anita, who was the first girl off the block to known as a “strawberry” (e.g. she would have sex for drugs). There was D.P. Nicky, Handey Andrea, Stinkbomb (don’t ask) and All Booty Judy just to name a few sisters. The thing about the sisters was, that for better or worse, they’d be pulling trains, more often than not. It wasn’t about getting a Bj, it was about paper, rock, scissors to see who would get on first. In some ways, it’s all very progressive and sex-positive, because the woman is the one being served, having her needs met, as opposed to merely serving the male. Mostly, though, it’s dog-shit nasty.
It only gets better, and I insist you go and read this article right now.
The Article: Good vibrations? Bad? None at all? by Angela Haupt in (shudder) USA Today.
The Text: Some call it “phantom vibration syndrome.” Others prefer “vibranxiety” — the feeling when you answer your vibrating cellphone, only to find it never vibrated at all.
“It started happening about three years ago, when I first got a cellphone,” says Canadian Steven Garrity, 28, of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. “I’d be sitting on the couch and feel my phone start to vibrate, so I’d reach down and pull it out of my pocket. But the only thing ringing was my thigh.”
Though no known studies have analyzed what may cause spontaneous buzzing, anecdotes such as Garrity’s ring true with the public.
Spurred by curiosity, Garrity, a Web developer, described the recurring false alarms on his blog. The response was not imaginary: More than 30 cellphone users reported that they, too, experienced phantom vibrations.
“I ended up hearing from a lot of people who said, ‘Hey, the exact same thing happens to me,’ ” Garrity says. “And it was somewhat comforting, because it made me think I wasn’t insane, after all.”
Some who experienced recurring phantom vibrations wondered whether the phenomenon had physical roots: Was it caused by nerve damage or muscle memory?
But experts say the false alarms simply demonstrate how easily habits are developed.
Psychologically, the key to deciphering phantom vibrations is “hypothesis-guided search,” a theory that describes the selective monitoring of physical sensations, says Jeffrey Janata, director of the behavioral medicine program at University Hospitals in Cleveland. It suggests that when cellphone users are alert to vibrations, they are likely to experience sporadic false alarms, he says.
“You come armed with this template that leads you to be attentive to sensations that represent a cellphone vibrating,” Janata says. “And it leads you to over-incorporate non-vibratory sensations and attribute them to the idea that you’re receiving a phone call.”
Alejandro Lleras, a sensation and perception professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, adds that learning to detect rings and vibrations is part of a perceptual learning process.
“When we learn to respond to a cellphone, we’re setting perceptual filters so that we can pick out that (ring or vibration), even under noisy conditions,” Lleras says. “As the filter is created, it is imperfect, and false alarms will occur. Random noise is interpreted as a real signal, when in fact, it isn’t.”
Phantom cellphone vibrations also can be explained by neuroplasticity — the brain’s ability to form new connections in response to changes in the environment.
When cellphone users regularly experience sensations, such as vibrating, their brains become wired to those sensations, Janata says.
“Neurological connections that have been used or formed by the sensation of vibrating are easily activated,” he says. “They’re over-solidified, and similar sensations are incorporated into that template. They become a habit of the brain.”
Cellphone company spokesmen, meanwhile, say they are not aware of any consumer complaints about phantom vibrations. Cellphones cannot sporadically vibrate on their own, says Mark Siegel of AT&T, formerly Cingular Wireless.
“Perhaps in the mind of the cellphone user only,” he says.
But Rob Whitehouse, vice president of communications at University Hospitals, insists the phantom vibrations he experiences each day are simply proof of how important constant communication is.
“It’s some psychological expression of my need to always be connected,” he says. “It’s like when e-mail first came out, and we constantly checked our inboxes, because getting a new message was so exciting.
“I like that better than ‘I’m crazy,’ anyway.”
The Analysis: I’m really, really sorry for liking a USA Today article. No seriously, I’m so sorry. Seriously.