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Archive for June, 2007

Saturday, June 30th, 2007

BREZHNEVIAN IRAN


The Soviet Khameini ?

Dr. Barnett has often used the analogy of the Soviet Union under the long rule of Leonid Brezhnev to describe the current Iranian regime:

“This article aptly captures what I saw similarly in the USSR in the summer of 1985: most people simply opt out. They’ve figured out how to make their private lives decent through a thriving black market and off-line alternative lifestyle and in their public lives they pretend to obey so the mullahs can pretend to rule.

This is the dropped-out mentality Gorby ran into in the USSR with his perestroika: basically everyone told him to go shove it cause they weren’t in the mood and there was nothing he could offer them. Thus, the Sovs’ sad decline pushed that train right off the tracks.

Watch Ahmadinejad’s hard-liner-approved reformist successor try to revitalize the masses through such tactics after Ahmadinejad’s crackdown tactics achieve nothing but more opting out in the face of the accelerating economic collapse.

Then watch the real change begin.”

I’m not up to date on the details of the Iranian economy, which is ( at a minimum) riven by underemployment, a youth demographic bulge, systemic corruption and underinvestment in critical sectors. Chances are, the Iranian economy, despite it’s problems and governmental mismanagement, have not reached the craptacular proportions of decreptitude that prevailed prior to the Soviet implosion. Nevertheless, some of the Soviet-Iranian parallels are striking:

Highly factionalized, undemocratic, leadership
Trend toward gerontocratic ruling class
Opaque decision-making process for strategic problems
Power is both centralized in government hands yet diffused at top levels, creating paralysis
Increasing reliance upon (and expansion of) paramilitary security forces to secure rule
Tightening of political censorship and “public morals” campaigns to appease ideological hardliners
Public alienation from and cynicism toward official state ideology
Rising nationalism separate from state ideology that both supports and undermines the regime
Rampant corruption at all levels of society
Diplomatic isolation
Dual centers of power in foreign affairs
Ideological hardliners in key positions to control security services rather than pragmatists
Critical economic questions are repeatedly ignored in favor of factional interests or ideological concerns
Increasing reliance on raw material commodity exports for government revenue

I’d be interested to know how Iranian towns and cities in the interior compare to Teheran in terms of services, material goods, poverty and like indicators.

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Saturday, June 30th, 2007

TWITTER….TWITTER

At the behest of Critt, I’m now on twitter as a complement to the blog. Sean and Dan are with me so at least I’m not out there shouting into the wind.

I’ll give twitter a fair trial. The geek world, of which I claim no membership in due to technical incompetence and sheer lack of time to fully investigate, seems to be very excited about this app ( though not everybody). Rick Klau (previous link) called it “micro blogging” which I think is probably a sustainable, cognitive format for holding attention, moreso than “hey…I’m going to take a shower now” type messages, which would become a tyranny of the mundane once the novelty of using twitter wears off.

We get a mental “charge” or arousal from connectivity with another personwith the social networking aspect but without some kind of interesting content to sustain the connection, our attention is apt to wander.

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Friday, June 29th, 2007

RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER

Going to take the kiddies to see this one on Saturday or Sunday. I’m wondering how the movie handles the world-devouring Galactus that I remember from my childhood of thumbing through Marvel comic books.

It occurred to me that Stan Lee ( along with the late sci-fi writer, Philip K. Dick, another example)may go down as one of the great, unintentionally prolific, screenplay writers.

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Friday, June 29th, 2007

ZENPUNDIT GOES “LIJIT”

Back from vacation.

This will mostly be of true interest to the geeky set, but I’ve addded a new widget, search engine app called Lijit to the blog, which can be found in the upper margin above the archives. For more information, see this post by Ross Mayfield.

Hopefully, it will help readers find information more easily that is buried in my information junkyard of a blog.

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Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

GONE FISHING

On a short trip with the family. Internet connectivity with the new laptop isn’t quite what I hoped it would be so I will be offline for the next few days, enjoying the beach, the children, some good books and a few cold ones.

Be back Thursday or Friday. Cheers !

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