At the weekend I set up a ticketmaster account, and added my payment details, this morning I confirmed I could sign in from work, was able to navigate to the performance I wanted and see how the ticket options would go, but not to order until noon, and waited. I hit reload a few minutes before noon, and got the Ticketmaster "you are in a queue" page, which thankfully cleared not long after I'd tweeted:
For speed purposes, I didn't try to choose seats but just asked for Best Tickets, and am delighted to have got row C stalls! I think I benefited from being near the end of the booking period, and having as much as possible pre-filled. Now I just need to wait till next June ....
From Deep State To Islamic State: The Arab Counter-Revolution And Its Jihadi Legacy, Jean-Pierre Filiu, ISBN 978-1-84904-546-9
This book analyses the background to, and aftermath, of the Arab Spring: the military despotisms in Algeria, Egypt, Syria and Yemen, with a lesser amount of material on Tunisia and Libya.
The question the book asks, essentially, is how the contests between military oligarchies, street protesters, political Islam and violent ‘jihadi’ movements ended with the first of the above remaining in charge, the middle two components crushed, and the latter successful and destructive. Filiu’s answer is essentially that the jihadists were indirectly, and in some cases directly, supported by the governments they supposedly oppose, both as a warning of chaos and as “my enemy’s enemy”.
The most blatant example is Bashar al-Assad, initially providing support for Iraqi enemies of the USA (including the local precursors of IS) and subsequently emptying its jails of jihadists in order to support its own propaganda once popular protests erupted in Syria.
The author also touches on Tunisia and Libya. In both cases the dictator fell, but the outcomes were very different. The reasons can be found both in the pre-revolutionary structure of the two countries and in the subsequent political processes.
The military oligarchies are characterised as ‘modern Mamluks’, alluding to historical military rulers. In their modern form, the author finds them excellent manipulators of both world powers and their regional neighbours, successfully extracting support in the form of money, weapons and oil; and vigorous defenders of their own privileges; but poor rulers of their countries.
This is a pretty depressing book. The only remotely successful entities in places like Syria are those that are prepared to burn the country to the ground to keep or take control, and when compared with the similar situation in Algeria in the 1990s, neither the ferocity of the conflict nor the negligible Western response seem particularly surprising.
you know that thing that firefox on linux does, where if you click on the scrollbar it doesn’t just take you up or down a page like every scrollbar in the past thirty-odd years, but instead moves the scrollbar slider to where you clicked?
this is a gtk+3 thing, because GNOME’s UI team are relentless desktop innovators.
workaround: add this to ~/.config/gtk-3.0/settings.ini :
then restart firefox.
this being GNOME they will doubtless tch at people evading their superlative user interface vision and break it. until then, though, gtk+3 apps will work properly once more.
3 short works by Rebecca Fraimow, consisting of:
- 2 very funny short stories dealing with the supernatural with some characters in common:
- 1 novella about immortality, trade routes and unexpected long-term consequences. Very different in both setting and feel to the previous two; also highly recommended. Suradanna and the Sea
What I've read: long fiction
Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows by Dan Slott & Adam Kubert
A belated present for my brother from his wishlist, which I may have sneaked a read of before handing over. One of the n million Battleworld AUs, this has Peter and MJ and their spider-powered offspring in a dystopia where almost all the superheroes have been killed off by the tyrant in charge, and Peter spends his time hiding his and his daughter's powers and definitely not being a hero ever. I am a bit meh about the morality that sets Protecting One's Family over and above everything else (especially as ( spoiler )) but the art is to my taste and I liked seeing Peter in something like a healthy and functioning relationship.
The Alpha's Home by Dessa Lux. Book 5 of The Protection of the Pack series, which I continue to find enjoyable and comforting reading.
Just the Dessa Lux. (The Spider-Man doesn't count because it's not mine.)