The Sweetest Coup…Egypt. 11.2.11

A selection of tweets i favourited in the 24 hours leading up 11.2.11 Egypt’s day of reckoning….

Data visualization of Egypt's Tweets:

So the Egyptians got their Friday of Departure after all–congratulations to them! This is a heady moment for all of us, Egyptian or not–

What a rollercoaster of a few days! 11.2.11 has proved to be unforgettable for all Egyptians except one: ex-President Hosni Mobarak who probably wants to erase all memories of Jan 25 and its ineluctable aftermath.

I found Pioneer editor Kanchan Gupta’s analysis of the tumultuous events in the Middle East to be comprehensive and useful (though i don’t share his fear of a Muslim alliance):

…As Egypt burst into celebrations, a bitter realisation began to sink in: If the US could abandon Mubarak, it could also say goodbye to others without allowing friendships of the past to weigh too heavily on its conscience.

Ironically, it is this perceived callous indifference of the US towards a beleaguered Mubarak in his last days in office that has left many flummoxed in Arabia. Egypt under the Mubarak dispensation, backed by the Army, was the best bet for peace in the region, especially in regard to Israel. It was also the best defence against the rise of radical Islamism whose practitioners see themselves as the alternative to incumbent Arab regimes. With Mubarak gone, the Muslim Brotherhood is preparing to make a dramatic appearance either through collaboration or alone in Egyptian politics; through Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamists have seized power in Gaza; in Lebanon, the Hizbullah, which has toppled the Hariri Government and put into place a regime controlled by Islamists, increasingly and frighteningly calls the shots; in Tunisia, dormant Islamism has come alive after the long-exiled leader of the till recently outlawed Islamist party Ennahdha, Rachid Ghanouchi, made a triumphant return home; in Jordan, the Friday street protests are being led by Islamists sustained by the Ikhwan’s ideology; in Yemen, Islamists are waiting for the palace to fall under their assault; in Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait, a deep undercurrent of radical Islamism is waiting to burst forth.

A gleeful Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has described the Egyptian uprising as the unleashing of an “Islamic wave”. His protégé and Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has described the Egyptian uprising and the collapse of the Mubarak regime exactly 32 years to the day of the fall of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi on February 11, 1979, as the “emergence of a new Middle East that will doom Israel and break free of American interference”.

A clickable map of Tahrir Square, courtesy the BBC

On the subject of social media’s role in the recent ‘revolutions’ I found Global Voices Online co-founder Ethan Zuckerman’s comments thought-provoking:

– While there’s been extensive debate about whether social media helped organize or promote the protests in Egypt, I think the interesting story to watch will be whether social media can help Egypt in the transition to democracy. Power now rests with a council of military leaders, and there have been suggestions that this group could be complemented by a council of civilian “wise men”, giving a seat at the table to figures like Mohamed El-Baradei.

If this process were to work, it would need to include voices of the youth, the people who led this revolt. One likely spokesman for Egyptian youth is Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who created the We Are All Khaled Said page on Facebook, widely credited as helping rally the original protests on January 25th. After his emotional televised interview on Dream TV, hundreds of thousands have joined a Facebook page authorizing Ghonim to speak on behalf of the protesters. Speaking to CNN today, asked what’s next in revolutions in the Arab world, Ghonim said, “Ask Facebook.”

In lieu of having anything compelling to say myself I’ve decided to put up tweets I ‘favourited’ it in the last 24 hours or so (Twitter’s ‘favourite’ feature is a phenomenal tool which i use with abandon). Some of them reference Egyptian events and some don’t, but for what they’re worth here they are…with the most recent ones from this morning leading…

Sonali Ranade
In Egypt, the military is a ruling caste http://bit.ly/dSM4Ed
»
Sultan Al Qassemi
Hats off to Egyptians, Al Jazeera is showing images of doctors, university students & civilians from all walks of life cleaning the streets.
»
Sidin Vadukut
sidin Sidin Vadukut
During my ‘Punjabi’ wedding I was made a Kashyap. Is this upper caste? Can I get reservation of some kind? Movie tickets?
»
Kellie Magnus
Eleven speakers. Eleven men. Apparently, in the future there are no women in the Caribbean.
»
Kellie Magnus
The average age of the panelists looks like 65. On a conf about the future of CARICOM. Sigh
»
Al Jazeera English
AJEnglish Al Jazeera English
#AlJazeera looks back at the 18-day-old revolution that remade Egypt and the wider Middle East: http://aje.me/eZjHzV #mubarak #jan25 #tahrir
»
Sree Sreenivasan
sree Sree Sreenivasan
Great recap video: 18 days in Cairo in 3 mins by WashPo (via @rajunarisetti): http://bit.ly/e3oOOG #egypt #jan25
»
Damien King
damienwking Damien King
The whole point of a National Water Commission is to have water when it doesn’t rain. Nobody needs water management during the rainy season.
»
Sagarika Ghose
Mubarak quits and Twitter creates history. ‘A moment comes..when an age ends..when the soul of a nation..finds utterance..”
»
WikiLeaks
Assassination of Julian Assange (supporter video) http://youtube.com/watch?v=3Fab1IsCZzY
»
Evgeny Morozov
evgenymorozov Evgeny Morozov
Good first academic study on “slacktivism” http://goo.gl/VNJPn
»
keri m.
MzArebel keri m.
OMG *faints* RT @mamachell: My daddy is on twitter *bawls running *
»
Wayne Jones Jnr
A look at Jamaica’s influence on British Music: A look at Jamaica’s influence on British Music http://bit.ly/hcyGua (via @dancehallusa)
»
Gady Epstein
gadyepstein Gady Epstein
Just asked on Quora: When a dictator opens a Swiss bank account, can he buy “deposed-regime” insurance?
»
Iniva
Talk on the role of #archives in documenting #art history now available online: http://bit.ly/hzLqtG #library
»
Open Magazine
Openthemag Open Magazine
Yoga not as old or Hindu as you think: http://is.gd/z7s8aG
»
Jonathan Shainin
jonathanshainin Jonathan Shainin
Paging Hartosh Singh Bal! One British toff’s shallow impressions of the Jaipur Litfest, on the Paris Review blog: http://bit.ly/gSGBYd
»
Priya Singh
rimeswithcya Priya Singh
Off to my daughter’s school concert in a while…hope I don’t have to deal with any Tiger Mothers.
»
Terry McMillan
MsTerryMcMillan Terry McMillan
Power is a drug. Mubarek has been strung out for 30 years.
»
Gabriel Esler
TheDevilSaint Gabriel Esler
RT @ConvoNation The Revolution WILL be televised, Tweeted YouTubed Facebooked DIGG’d texted, emailed and aired #Egypt #Revolution #Mubarak
»
Nicholas Laughlin
nplaughlin Nicholas Laughlin
“An anthropologist’s diary of the Egyptian revolution”: http://bit.ly/gTDm4j

Buju: Voice of Jamaica?

The lighter side of the Buju Banton saga

Clovis, Jamaica Observer

*Please note that God as portrayed by Clovis in the cartoon above does not appear to be black. #justsaying

Well, Tropical Storm Nicole tittupped across the length and breadth of Jamaica like a woman scorned, ripping the country’s attention away from it’s favourite Rasta to matters of life and death. But not before a couple of hilarious Buju-inspired exchanges on Twitter that ranged from the sublimely funny to the ridiculous. The latter first. I got into a lengthy exchange with Queen Sheba1302 who was sending out anguished tweets from Germany asking why there was a worldwide ‘media blackout’ on Buju. Perhaps the rest of the world had more urgent matters to attend to i suggested? To which i got this response:

  1. FREE BUJU Banton queensheba1302
    No, only jamaican newspaper report about Buju, there is a worldwide mediablackout, and i dont know why….
  2. FREE BUJU Banton queensheba1302
    yes, there is a media blackout worldwide, why?? Do u know why only local newspaper report about Buju Banton?
    12:30 PM Sep 27th via web in reply to JamaicaGleaner.

Well, it’s a pressing matter here in Jamaica where Buju comes from i said, so naturally he would receive coverage here, the rest of the world however… No, no, insisted Queen Sheba, he’s an international celebrity, why they even devoted so much time to the likes of Dudus, and Buju is much bigger, much bigger.

But 73 people died in the process of extraditing Dudus, that’s why he was awarded so much international coverage, I tried to suggest, but the Queen wouldn’t be persuaded. The Jamaican media doesn’t cover Bollywood i said, but i can assure you it’s not because of a ‘media blackout’, its just lack of interest, after which i gave up because it was clear that nothing would appease Queen Sheba. I urged her to organize a worldwide Twitter campaign on Buju’s behalf and left it at that.

Of course the other fallout from the Buju saga is a certain amount of nervous paranoia expressed in jokes about the situation (A key piece of evidence produced against the singer was a conversation he had had with the passenger seated next to him on a flight from Madrid to Miami in which he bragged about his coke deals). Peter Dean Rickards, headed to the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival, vouchsafed on Twitter that he was keeping his lips zipped on his flight to Trinidad and Tobago; another tweep @Grindacologist found himself trapped on a bus next to a garrulous Israeli. The following flock of tweets he issued that morning had us convulsed with laughter:

  1. Grindacologist Grindacologist
    Bredda a chat aff mi ears bout all di inventions that israelis did… Thu Sep 30 07:53:14 2010
  2. Grindacologist Grindacologist
    …wtf do I care…u see me bragging bout how blacks invented the hot comb & s curls kit… Thu Sep 30 07:54:31 2010
  3. Grindacologist Grindacologist
    …brown man invented mathematics enuh… Thu Sep 30 07:56:21 2010
  4. Grindacologist Grindacologist
    Wonda if dah bredda yah a Feds? Why him ah ask mi bout Jolly Roger’s Cookbook… Thu Sep 30 08:17:03 2010
  5. Grindacologist Grindacologist
    Dem a try get mi out like Buju… Thu Sep 30 08:17:30 2010
  6. Grindacologist Grindacologist
    Nooo…him a talk bout El Al airlines now…gad help me… Thu Sep 30 08:18:28 2010
  7. Grindacologist Grindacologist
    Mek mi jus gwaan smile and nad mi head… Thu Sep 30 08:24:05 2010
  8. Grindacologist Grindacologist
    RT @djflashTRINITY: @Grindacologist an him a jew it a setup grinda, dont tell him anything <— bredda a mossad enuh…him a try draw mi out Thu Sep 30 08:23:07 2010

Meanwhile the US courts seem determined to keep the Voice of Jamaica captive even though the jury was split down the middle (like Barbican Road) and couldn’t deliver a verdict. A new trial is slated for December. Sigh. It doesn’t look good for Jamaica’s beloved Rasta. He seems to have bad kismat. Hope he lives to rule his destiny once again.

Channeling Arundhati Roy…*Twirl*

The story behind the Twitter account in Arundhati Roy’s name…as told by the operator of the account.



So @arundhati_roy is no more. Today a Twitter campaign is afoot asking @Twitter how come twitter.com/Arundhati_Roy was suspended. The answer is simple. It was suspended because the account was set up and operated by someone other than the famous writer. A New York City based-graphic artist has claimed she was the one tweeting in Roy’s name and as she herself put it “I wish @arundhati_roy was coming back, too…but being too much like her is misleading apparently…”

I don’t remember exactly when the Twitter account in the novelist’s name began transmitting but when I started following her she had less than 50 followers. She surprised me with how adept she seemed to be at manipulating the medium for I had always imagined that Roy might be somewhat hostile to new technologies, considering her sustained and caustic critique of the exigencies of market capitalism.

After all wasn’t it she, in the astoundingly successful God of Small Things, who had lamented the Procrustean packaging of Kathakali, Kerala’s epic performance artform, into byte-sized morsels that tourists could fit into their schedules?

In the evenings (for that Regional Flavor) the tourists were treated to truncated kathakali performances (`Small attention spans,” the Hotel People explained to the dancers). So ancient stories were collapsed and amputated. Six-hour classics were slashed to twenty-minute cameos.

But there was something about @arundhati_roy’s tweets that made me certain this was the writer herself. I actually quoted her tweets in 3 different posts. Her bio read: I’m bored with globalisation. You can see it in my face. I, alone, am Moral, lest, Moral-Less, More or Less. Amor, alas… It was her way with words, her verbal economy, her taut, tart wit that I imagined I recognized; it made me write the following, now eminently cringeworthy, paragraph:

People seemed to doubt that it was really her but i didn’t need persuading, I recognized her voice immediately. “Flags are bits of coloured cloth that governments use to first, shrink wrap people’s brains and then as ceremonial shrouds to bury the dead.” “Little events, ordinary things, smashed and reconstituted. Imbued with new meaning. Suddenly they become the bleached bones of a story.” And something i profoundly agree with her on: “Democracy is the biggest scam in the world.” Last week Thursday Roy only had 75 or so followers, today its 905. Let’s see how many more she attracts by the time she really gets going.

That was in April. By the time the account was suspended in August it had approximately 9000 followers.

I wanted to get 10k…then I was going to quit it and say, Up yours, @KanchanGupta. I don’t even know who he is, but he’s just been an ass@JonBenetRamsey told me via Twitter’s direct message (DM) feature saying that she, or the person behind her pseudonym (Twitter bio: If you love me *twirl* with me. No pageantry here. Just high fashion sheeit *smacks ass and stomps away* *twirl* and *wink*), was the one who had operated the account. She DM-ed me after my post  ‘A Voice for the Voiceless’: @Arundhati_Roy vs Arundhati Roy was published.

In the days leading up to the account’s suspension @KanchanGupta (editor of North Indian newspaper The Pioneer) had been ferocious: @Arundhati_Roy Pakistan wants you. Pakistan needs you. Won’t you rise to the occasion and buy a one-way ticket to the promised land? Another tweeter who relentlessly hounded @arundhati_roy was @Shonatwits.

Funnily enough it was one of @arundhati_roy’s tweets featuring Kanchan Gupta that had previously persuaded me that this was actually the writer Arundhati Roy. Months ago the crusty editor had engaged in an exchange of tweets with @arundhati_roy that sounded positively flirtatious by the end of it. There was talk of meeting up for drinks with @Arundhati_Roy purring We must. You look like a dark liquor on the rocks kind of man…

It was her, i thought, she’s trying to disarm her critics; for no one could have been a harsher and more dismissive anti-Roy voice than Kanchan Gupta. And here he was seemingly eating out of her hands. I was filled with admiration.

“She’s a fake,” urged the sensible voice of Bombay-based @rimeswithcya, “though she does have a sense of humour”. How do you know i asked? One of her tweets was a quote from Bono, she replied.

Well, @rimeswithcya was right. When i eventually got to interrogate @arundhati_roy’s author about some of the mystifying non sequiturs she tweeted in the waning days of the account she admitted: I made a habit of quoting pop/rock songs in the final stages of that account…What Roy writes I see in America, where I live. I’m in NYC…

So, thank you for all your kind words about @Arundhati_Roy…She was truly my finest creation…*twirl* said @JonBenetRamsey when i first heard directly from her via Twitter. Her trademark aside–*twirl*–is an ironic reference to the modelling career of the precocious American child beauty queen, Jon Benet Ramsey, brutally murdered at her Colorado home in 1996.

I asked her to tell me more about why she chose @Arundhati_Roy as her Twitter handle. I have read everything by Arundhati Roy…She’s fantastic. But when I started the account, I wanted to make it more of a tribute… When the initial hate mail came in, it was a little unexpected. I was kind of alarmed, and didn’t know how to respond, except obviously… But, yes, I did quote U2 Sunday, Bloody Sunday. It was genius. And thanks for saying I was good at being Roy’s twitterer. I honestly thought she wouldn’t mind, to be honest. And I refused to say anything too off the mark.

Twitter just suspended the account. It was pretty clear I wasn’t her & she probably had a lawyer communicate impersonation. It’s upsetting. It’s interesting bc I was gonna do inspirational quotes, but I discovered a perspective that alarmed me, & the accnt became an experiment. The Naxal Movement is new to me for the most part.

I particularly like watching her on YouTube. She’s beautiful and intelligent. And generous. And a little haughty. Thus the bio line.

I asked @JonBenetRamsey about the mysterious image she had tweeted the link to one day. Was it tiny children’s toys on a chapati? an appam? a dosa? as various tweeters had speculated at the time?

…the image is of a family farm in Pakistan after the flood…So sad… I saw the image, and I wanted to just put it out there. We got such a reaction to Haiti’s earthquake, but this ended up having three times more damage…but where were the televised charities and such? Nothing here, really. Just more anti-Muslim rhetoric…which sickens me…

How did she manage to get the tone so right so often, i asked.

If i wanted to reply to someone, and sound accurate, i would refurbish a quote from her. Because she’s always very consistent. Easy, too… I love Arundhati Roy. I don’t think people understand how she thinks because people aren’t ready to admit their own privileges happen to…..exist at the expense of another person, or group of people. That’s why she said that the American way of life is unsustainable……and that way of life, democracy, is becoming synonymous with so many terms, including capitalism and sometimes christian……It’s a new way of waging war & creating empires…by allying yourself with like nations…and that’s why some injustices go unreported…

…She’s very consistent. And I can usually apply things she’s written about, say, Palestine to the Maoist conflict. I mean, ultimately…that dialogue is going to be an even more religiously based conversation between the indian public and the media. Anti-Muslim rhetoric… Have you read The Family? It’s amazing, I suggest it. It’s about evangelical Christianity and American Democracy…

I asked if the hostile tweets that came pouring in were responses to @arundhati_roy’s tweets or to the real life position and actions of the Indian writer and activist (see here for some of these tweets). Roy’s engagement with Maoists and Pakistan, which she visited in 2009, have earned her the wrath of quite a few Indians.

The hostile comments I received were usually responses to things people had heard about her, whether from the news or other bloggers……I always received things like, “What if your mother was on that train the Maoists bombed?” or something similar, and I’d routinely be……villified. People weren’t ever satisfied. Why are you worrying about Pakistan when this happened in Kashmir? She had to point out……every wrong, or she seemed like a fake activist. & that’s a lot of responsibility 2 put on 1 person, who isn’t even into policy making…

Did she feel a sense of loss at losing the account so suddenly? Did she have an account in her own name as well?

…And I don’t feel loss really for the account. I never suspected it’d get suspended, tho. It was an experiment in language. I loved it. i also have a twitter account in my own name…it’s kept private…few private details…@JonBenetRamsey is my release…Since I’m like a little girl…

*Twirl* i could almost add…

Well, there you have it, @arundhati_roy was certainly a fake, but the most empathetic, persuasive fake you could come across, a fascinating character in her own right. The woman who operated the account seemed to be performing Arundhati Roy, channeling her even. And I for one miss her tweets.

Immediately below are three tweets in which she quoted song lyrics along with info on the songs themselves. They’re great songs, I enjoyed listening to them, especially Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights…

I am in love with what we are, and not what we “should” be. And I am. I am starstruck with every part of this whole story.
Kesha (Animal)

Lost inside.
Adorable illusion and I cannot hide.
I’m the one you’re using, please don’t push me aside.

Blondie (Heart of Glass)

Bad dreams in the night, they told me I was going to lose the fight. Leave behind my wuthering heights
Kate Bush (Wuthering Heights)

When I feel like I don’t belong, draw the strength from the words when you said, Hey, It’s about you, baby. Look deeper inside you, baby
Janet Jackson, (Together Again)

POSTSCRIPT:

Since posting this @jonbenetramsey has informed me that she’s a guy. ok, this is entirely my fault, I leapt to the conclusion that the account holder was a woman–social conditioning? myopia? who knows why?–and never actually posed that question. I like that you think i’m a girl. lols. he tweeted after reading my post. To my chagrined response he tweeted the following:

Lol…I’m a gay man…But a young one. That’s why I think the flirtation between me and Kanchan Gupta was hilarious…he’s so Brokeback…

What can i say? Everyday i learn a hundred new things through Twitter! Highly recommend, it’s the twenty-first century version of a free education.

Patty Bandits in Paradise…#ironymuch

Robbery at Juici Patties in Kingston, Jamaica, hostage situation defused, how it was discussed on Twitter

Juici sent patties to Haiti after the earthquake

What an irony that the very day after Playboy magazine asked me to expand on my statement “In Jamaica farce, intrigue and tragedy remain inextricably intertwined” (Don’t worry–re Playboy–ALL will be revealed in due course) another farcical scenario played itself out in downtown Kingston when armed men took over the Juici Patty outlet on West Street.

@pd_rickards was tickled. lol who would rob a patty shop? <Pattybandits he tweeted. When I was a kid they used to call me Patty Bandit..and seet deh now it come to pass. 8:48 PM Sep 4th. they would bring box of patty home and bam..3 gone..ppl seh..’Is peter dean dweet uno..him is the patty bandit. 9:03 PM Sep 4th.

Meanwhile @JustSherman joined in the commentary: Hostage situation at A Patty Shop, Sounds like something written by @PD_Rickards but sadly true, Lord deliver us.

Details are still sketchy; it was only last night that what rapidly became known as “the hostage situation” developed like a hurriedly-formed hurricane which huffed and puffed but ultimately kept from blowing the house down. I was up in Stony Hill listening to Kate Bush sing Wuthering Heights over and over when i saw the first tweet about hostages being released in downtown Kingston.

I blinked. Had i fallen asleep and woken up in a Bollywood film? Or was this a nightmare in which life was trying to invade the reality show we’ve become? In response to my query as to whether this might be a b-grade Bollywood flick @ drewonline said: that would involve a dance routine on king street ma’am so no it’s not a Bollywood movie it’s a Jamaican farce–:-(

Turn on the TV, turn on the TV, everyone yelled when i announced that my Twitter feed was indicating that people were being held hostage at Juici Patty on West Street. Of course once again real life was quick to intrude. We were in Kingston, Jamaica, not some place with real television stations that report what’s occurring AS it’s occurring around us. Both major local stations were replaying American TV series and there was no live coverage of the potentially deadly drama. As @ArnoldKer said in disbelief: #nowwatching Gossip Girl on TVJ while hostages are being held downtown. How awesome is this!

The inevitable reference to the erstwhile reign of Dudus was made: Likkle bwoy cyan manage bigman work. Now dem know how Presi work did hard and Dem waan do Don work and cyan manage it. They should have tried to co-op the System into regular governance and then use an diffuse it. The latter makes eminent sense for as the same tweeter pointed out: Tivoli was the only “ghetto” with Moneygram, Claro, Digicel, Lime and numerous small and large businesses that were profitable and safe.

Hopefully the international media won’t get hold of this, someone said. I thought events in Barbados where six people were killed in the process of a robbery in Bridgetown were likely to distract attention away from Kingston, where nobody has been killed after all. The farce continued to unfurl; after a tense standoff police orchestrated an invasion of the building only to find the armed men long gone by the time they broke in. Said @DLee876: Welcome to #Jamaica, where police surround a building and yet ALL the criminals inside escape. hahahahah #sadbutfunny.

So the gunmen freed themselves under the guise of being hostages? asked @cucumberjuice.

That was when @drewonline memorably declared: Sometimes i believe we are all hostages inna patty shop (that has a beach, a soundtrack and people who run really fast) #ironymuch

Interestingly it was only a few days ago that there was a situation at another patty shop, Sugar & Spice, in Liguanea. I don’t think it even made the local news because i never did hear the details of it tho’ my twitter feed showed photos of police cars blocking one of the Liguanea plazas and there were rumours of bullets being fired. It is said that a woman who had gone to the bank next door before deciding on a patty for lunch was robbed of J$800,000. But honestly who knows for sure? In the information age crucial information is frequently withheld in Jamaica; its like wading through a perpetual smog.

The hashtag in front of words means that the tweet in question will be filed under those terms in the global twitter feed. For example #nowwatching is usually appended to tweets announcing what movie, TV show or video the person is watching at the time. #sadbutfunny had one quite poignant tweet: hard enough being the slow kid but needing a reminder for drivers not to run you over is just #sadbutfunny http://twitpic.com/2lf035. Another example, this one from Sept 1 @rpugh Discovery Channel gunman James Jay Lee called 4 TV shows promoting war be removed. Holding hostages at gunpoint. #ironymuch

Alas it’s true, we’re all hostages in a patty shop. There’s no escaping it. Jamaica 2010. #ironymuch

‘A Voice for the Voiceless’: @Arundhati_Roy vs Arundhati Roy

A look at campaigns of different sorts from political, to personal, to religious to hate…also a focused look at @Arundhati_Roy’s late, great Twitter account which has been suspended for reasons unknown.

I like the way the author of this virtual poster has co-opted former US President Bush into such a neatly executed visual sabotage rescue mission. The USA’s political shenanigans. Will Obama survive the concerted effort to derail him? Waiting and watching…

Meanwhile the following terse message arrived by email this morning:

i am Mrs. Bintu Mahmud. Please contact my lawyer Ramli Sariman (barr_ramli_sariman09@gala.net) for a very important thing ALLAH wants you to do for Him. May ALLAH be with you always.

Surely no practising Muslim would be foolish enough to circulate such a message in today’s climate. Is it part of some anti-Islam campaign? All i know is that Yahoo has been really good about catching all such Spam messages with its filters, i wonder how this one escaped?

And by snail mail i received a tiny envelope, the kind the postman leaves for you before Christmas, postmarked Trinidad and Tobago. Inside: two business card-sized cards. You are not who we thought you were, says one, and We are not who you had in mind proclaims the other in 14-point serif type. On the back of each card is a green star in the upper left corner and –Les Argotieres, in the bottom right corner. My address is written in ink on the envelope in chiselled letters by a calligraphic hand. Is this a new company? an advertising campaign of some sort? What? Who? One awaits full revelations at the earliest.

Finally @Arundhati_Roy whom many believed to be the author of The God of Small Things has had her Twitter account suspended. I had written about the purported Roy account in its early days. More recently Roy’s Twitter avatar has been proclaimed a fake, something i find hard to believe, the tweets were so typical of Roy’s taut, tart x-ray observations on life in the late capitalist lane. What we do know is that before the account was suspended @Arundhati_Roy came under attack for views the activist had expressed on Pakistan and India’s Maoists among other things. Below are her/his last few tweets and some tweets from Roy’s critics. For convenience I have prefixed @Arundhati_Roy’s tweets with the label ARoy:

ARoy: As long as your heart beats, make sure it’s with good intentions… RT @vjlive: @Arundhati_Roy Should a good heart need contours to beat…
Wed 18 Aug. 12.46

ARoy: “Businesses resist ‘conflict minerals’ law.” First the Congo, then where? Who will mine the bauxite? http://bit.ly/dA9bAB
Wed 18 Aug. 2.31

ARoy: Glad you have that philosophy. Suiting you well? RT @krishnakacker: Unfortunately, the way to hell is also paved with good intentions!
19 Aug 14.14

ARoy: When I feel like I don’t belong, draw the strength from the words when you said, Hey, It’s about you, baby. Look deeper inside you, baby…
19 Aug 14.17

@KanchanGupta @Arundhati_Roy Pakistan wants you. Pakistan needs you. Won’t you rise to the occasion and buy a one-way ticket to the promised land?
19 Aug 14.19

ARoy: @KanchanGupta tickets i find are never one way. I have places to go. This WORLD is my home…Go be antagonistic to someone who cares for it.
19 Aug 14.20

@KanchanGupta @Arundhati_Roy I wouldn’t dare antagonise you, what with your bum-chums with big-big guns.
19 Aug 14.23

@Arundhati_Roy By the way, Maomata recently told me you are a “claash owan frawd” and a “tormooj” — green outside, red inside.
19 Aug 14.28

@Dilir123 @Arundhati_Roy earlier asked you a question. Just saw myself how an indian j0urno hates you! you were very calm. i’m not paki nor indi just
19 Aug 15.21

@Arundhati_Roy just a bangladeshi want to knw what did you do/write that these ppl r so mad about?
19 Aug 15.26

ARoy: @Dilir123 I think that one whom you’re speaking of is just jealous that I have a few more followers than him. Just ignore him… #noisemaker
19 Aug 15.51

ARoy: maybe in US RT @aurosan: Up to 10% of Pakistanis might die due to cholera in water http://bit.ly/9bhAZH Why isn’t anyone talking about this?
19 Aug 14.35

ARoy: Bad dreams in the night, they told me I was going to lose the fight. Leave behind my wuthering heights…
20 Aug 8.39

ARoy: http://bit.ly/bV0F1j
20 Aug 10.04

ARoy: I family on their lot in Pakistan, yes. RT @Libraryben: Pakistan? RT @Arundhati_Roy: http://bit.ly/bV0F1j
20 Aug 13.04

ARoy: If caring for ppl not part of a political agenda makes me one, so be it RT @mahasamant: @Arundhati_Roy PAKISTAN GIVES YOU POPULARITY#TRAITOR
20 Aug 13.04

@Shonatwits @Arundhati_Roy When you can serve people at your door step what will you serve in Pakistan? Stop this hypocrisy u r just losing ur respect!
20 Aug 13.19

ARoy: @Shonatwits Statements have been stated. Press releases have been released…Criticize policy makers, not a voice for the voiceless…
20 Aug 13.22

ARoy: Lost inside adorable illusion, and I cannot hide. I’m the one you’re using, please don’t push me aside…
20 Aug 13.26

@Arundhati_Roy Ms. Roy, you ROCK.
20 Aug 13.57

ARoy: @aseemvadehra what “rocks” is reading the critics disassemble that one…
20 Aug 14.02

ARoy:  I am in love with what we are, and not what we “should” be. And I am. I am starstruck with every part of this whole story…
23 Aug 03.07

I echo the question asked by one of the tweeple quoted above: Arundhati Roy what did you do/write that these ppl r so mad about? Because their questions were addressed to the author and activist regardless of who was tweeting in her name…

Scoop! State of Urgency–Reggae Sumfest 2010 rocked!

First account of Dancehall Night Reggae Sumfest 2010. Vybz Kartel appears in prison suit and handcuffs. Bounty Killer calls for State of Urgency from government, as opposed to State of Emergency and vuvuzelas abounded…

DESERT CLARKS, EVRY CREP A GET FLING WEH!! Photo: @SugaTwitts

Right about now people are waking up and wondering how Sumfest 2010 went last night. Were there any brawls? Did Vybz destroy it? Was Bounty Killer cross, angry and miserable enough? Well folks i wasn’t there but i can give you the scoop on all this and more…

Actually i was supposed to be there. I even got as far as Falmouth with my par Hubert but the relentless rain got on our nerves and we decided to beat it back to Kingston. Luckily various attempts to buy tickets in advance had failed so it wasn’t an expensive decision (what’s with York Pharmacy insisting on cash only and then not having VIP tickets?? And why use Acropolis as a ticket outlet when it doesn’t open before lunchtime?)

Badd Girl Cecile at Sumfest. Photo: Marcia Forbes

Anyway i hit my comfortable bed in Kingston around 11 pm last night after seeing a tweet or two about Cecile’s performance. @marciaforbes reported that there was also a “Sumfest Lighter Tribute to O’Neil of Voicemail. About a dozen young men in white sing for O’Neil–Very touching!!” Woke up this morning and tuned in to find out that Miss Fluffy Kitty and Spice had had a “fluffy versus slim gal wining contest” with some help from Pamputtae. According to @marciaforbes “Spice [was] led on stage by Tivoli Demonstration ‘caz ppl are deading’ ‘Bruce me just want to ask u if Tivoli duppy dem don’t haunt u’.

Remaining two members of Voicemail, Craig Jackson, Kevin Blaire Photo: @itscraigyo
Craig Jackson @itscraigyo!!: @SugaTwitts

One of the highlights of the show was Kartel’s appearance dressed as a prisoner complete with handcuffs which had to be unlocked before he could perform, a literal reference to his arrest and two-week detention by security forces who claimed he was a ‘person of interest’ during the State of Emergency that ended at midnight last night. All i want to say on the SOE is that it’s remarkable that it’s always a DJ or some hapless individual from downtown that’s arrested as a person of interest, apparently the Jamaican middle classes and elites are composed exclusively of saints and angels.

Kartel Vybz Kartel in bright orange 'prison clothes' complete with handcuff. Photo: Marcia Forbes

According to @marciaforbes “Pure Police n Soldiers surround[ed] the entire backstage during Kartel’s performance ” and pandemonium and vuvuzelas greeted Kartel as he entered the Sumfest stage. She went on to tweet that the backstage security during Kartel’s performance was unprecedented. You have to wonder what exactly they were worried might happen!

Morning light, @iamthekartel closing the show. Oh! Ahoe! #sumfest Photo: @SugaTwitts

Bounty Killer (whose night it undoubtedly was) put it well when he said that the government needed ‘a state of urgency’ rather than a State of Emergency. Reggae Sumfest 2010 is mourning the untimely passing of pioneer Sugar Minott and Oniel Edwards of Voice Mail; Dancehall Night also celebrated the career of the redoubtable Bounty Killer, the paradigmatic Warlord of dancehall, the voice of the soil of Jamaica as he is sometimes called, a veteran who has not only towered over the landscape of dancehall for two decades but also launched the careers of a platoon of younger DJs including Vybz Kartel and Mavado.

Warlord a talk di tings tonight!!! #sumfest tunnnn upppp!!! Photo: @SugaTwitts
GULLY GAADDDD!! #mavado #sumfest Photo: @SugaTwitts
Mavado and Wayne Marshall doing You're Messing with my Heart Photo: @SugaTwitts
Movado shellin down di place! Photo: KueSound
Reggae Sumfest (Vybz Kartel and Russian) Photo: NotniceRecords

All in all it looks like it was a stellar Dancehall Night. I missed it but i lived it vicariously via Twitter. Special thanks to @SugaTwitts for the best photos, @marciaforbes and @DougiePlatinum for providing me with fodder for this post. @marciaforbes was womanning the Phase3 production centre below.

Phase 3 console

My Favourite tweet:

anthonyhaley Just put @ladymycherie to bed. She & our son-to-be did Dancehall night all the way through Adi Teacha. Teach them young they say! #sumfest

Picks of the week

Just sharing a potpourri of articles from the web i found compelling/interesting over the last week…

Twitter’s #dearpublisher hashtag takes off

Readers and publishers engage in new medium for debate

A Twitter page

A Twitter page. Photograph: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

Twitter is not to everyone’s taste – it’s no secret that many readers
of this blog suspect that the Guardian gives the microblogging service
far more attention than it deserves and might agree with Oyl
Miller’s stream of consciousness piece in McSweeney’s
this week that
begins: “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by brevity,
over-connectedness, emotionally starving for attention.”


Haiti at 6 months|Managing expectations by not naming them?

Posted on July 16, 2010 by Carla Murphy
A tree is a rare sight at a camp and here, in Tabarre, residents use the shade for community meetings.

When I nearly fainted in the second camp we visited in Tabarre this Monday, some of the women leaders who live there brought me a Tampico juice right quick.  It was sweating, ice cold. How do they get ice? And where do they keep it? Then I thought, Great. They’re running to bring me juice while the 250 families that live here get by on 500 gallons of water a day. That’s the same amount of water in a luxe hotel’s fish tank.

Op-Ed Columnist, New York Times
Can We Talk?
THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: July 16, 2010
On July 7, CNN fired its senior editor of Middle East affairs, Octavia Nasr, after she published a Twitter message saying, “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah,” one of the most prominent Lebanese Shiite spiritual leaders who was involved in the founding of the Hezbollah militia. Nasr described him as “one of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.”


The unpublished journal of a successful entrepreneur

by neo

One year ago, I spent an entire night dreaming that I was a giant fly. When I awoke, I was startled to discover that I was myself. I decided that this was a vision, and asked my Guruji (from Better Living through Conscious Snoring) what I should do with it.

Guruji told me to stop depending on other people to tell me what to do, become an entrepreneur, and document my journey and daily achievements in a journal.

This is the journal:


And finally:

Ataklan flavours up The Mix

Gillian Moore

Published: 10 Jul 2010

Audience members dance and wave during Ataklan’s performance. Photos: Gillian Moore

The crowd went crazy for Ataklan on July 3, at the T&T launch of The Mix at Casa de Ibiza on Tragarete Road in Woodbrook.

Ataklan has been coming to Jamaica frequently over the last year to record songs for his next album here. Identified as the “Trinidadian friend” in the photo below when it appeared in a Jamaican blogpost, Klan even penned a Dudus song called Kingston Town (“Man, so many of dead bodies, so few recovered guns…Tell me what a gwaan roun here, is there no love for life roun here…“) while here in June. I’m indebted to Corve Dacosta who took the photo for his blogpost on the Jamaica Pegasus tweetup.

L-R (@hubertnealjr @anniepaul and a Trinidadian friend