Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Bruce Sterling reactions

Generally I think Bruce Sterling's books stink. He has a weblog now, and hopefully this new medium will work out better for him.

2 reactions to the blog.

1) If you are into Brazilian techno, I recommend Sao Paulo Confessions (Suba--who I believe later died in a fire), Caipirissima: Batucada Electronica (various), and Tanto Tempo (Bebel Gilberto -- disappointing in concert btw).

2) He spends a lot of time discussing modern India, Pakistan, and Dubai -- places which don't often make the news in the US (at least not their contemporary culture). I grew up in Dubai, and the nearest I ever got to see it's name in print was when Garfield tried to mail Nermal the Kitten to Abu Dhabi (which is just up the road). It's become much more common, and is considered to be a luxury retreat, which I find quite odd.

His flip comment regarding the US, not Pakistan, "crawling with armed religious fanatics and the pitiful remnants of democracy have been captured by feudalistic gangs of spymaster profiteers who can't run a real economy for the life of them" betrays a deep ignorance of both countries. Getting Pakistan wrong I understand -- it's far away and poorly covered, but his lousy characterization of the US can only come from *just* having lived here and therefore having no experience of what the real comparisons (namely, everywhere else) are like.

The number #1 issue in Pakistan right now, IMHO, is that it has done a poor job of controlling it's Muslim fanatics. Traditionally it's taken a sort of benign neglect posture, since generally people there are not fundamentalist and are more concerned with the petty travails of everyday life (unlike Saudi, which is a totalitarian state). Post-Sept 11th, fanatic Muslims started to make life much harder for regular Muslims by bringing their religion into disrepute and so burdening everyone with long lines at airports, extra legal paperwork, deferred investment, added scrutiny, etc. etc. To date, the main regular Muslim reaction I've noticed has been "hey -- no fair singling us out!" This is sad, because it illustrated how far they remain from tackling the real problem, which is that Islam has been hijacked by crazy people.

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