Wasn’t supposed to happen

From an anonymous student, in the NYT:

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Until last week, Mr. Moussavi was a nondescript, if competent, politician — as one of his campaign advisers put it to me, he was meant only to be an instrument for making Iran a tiny bit better, nothing more. Iranians knew that’s what they were getting when they cast their votes for him. Now, like us, Mr. Mousavi finds himself caught up in events that were unimaginable, each day’s march and protest more unthinkable than the one that came before.

Is this the hallmark of a revolution? That events sweep away intentions, that actions inspired by old models have unexpected consequences (and become new models themselves), that the people involved are thrust into roles that seem only afterward to have been cut for them like gloves? Continue reading →

Why burn the meals on wheels?

Berlin is a safe city, by American standards. I’ve never felt particularly threatened here; even Kotbusser Tor, the corner/U-bahn station that until recently served as the city’s recognized open-air drug market, never felt anything like as threatening as walking in various streets in San Francisco late at night. Race violence is an issue in some neighborhoods, but even this is relatively minor.

What Berlin does is fires. Cars, for the most part, often as many as one a night. It’s a kind of sport for the left wing, what they call autonomous left groups. While not exactly supporting this, I’ve had a hard time feeling sorry for people who have had their Mercedes or BMWs burned in the middle of the night here. This isn’t a particularly supportable reaction — a childish one, even, and easy for me as I don’t depend on a car for a job, to drive a child to school, etc. — but people who have their Mercedes or Audis burned in a city that offers such excellent public transportation haven’t drawn any tears. There’s insurance, and it’s a message not to get too attached to things. Continue reading →

Watching Iran

A road to Damascus moment for me with Twitter this morning. Obsessed with watching the protests and post-stolen-election ripples in Iran, I found my way to #IranElection, and realized how much more information, direct from people on the ground, was there.

It’s ongoing now, if slowing down. It’s modern, unfiltered news, which means rumors and speculation. But it is a way to be in the stream of events that CNN or a newspaper can never be (though the YouTube BBC video, filmed like a hidden camera because the authorities apparently arrested the reporters and took their earlier tapes, gives some sense for this.)

Despite what some Twitterers are proclaiming, this is not a substitute for mainstream media, even if some outlets are doing a terrible job. Apparently CNN in the US dropped the ball on this story badly, though overseas seems good, and I’m still reading the NYT, BBC and the Guardian. However, this real-time info scratches any itch that cable news ever did. Fast information, and the sense for what it’s like on the ground, to *live* an event instead of read about it, is coming from Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube today.

Here’s a list of twitterers worth following, when the #IranELection flow gets to be too much: http://tr.im/or5k.

This Flickr set is unmissable, though the photos on blogs and other sets are outstanding too.