Not much is available regarding Chiheb Esseghaier, the man charged with conspiring to derail a VIA passenger train in Canada. That is, until we began researching the Arabic and discovered a Tunisian Al-Qaeda operative’s facebook page in Arabic, all with the chilling details.
From western sources, the man’s Internet activities are summarized thusly, via National Post:
“[His] professional networking site LinkedIn that is illustrated with the black flag of the Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella group of Iraqi insurgent groups affiliated with al Qaeda.”
That’s hardly a dossier.
Yet, his facebook page which was deleted minutes after our discovery (and after we saved it) is a different story. At the top is a detailed flowchart on Al-Qaeda’s plans, command and control, and methodology – from leadership to cell creation.
His favorites include several links to some of the most notorious terror groups including a facebook dedicated for the famed Abu Mus’ab Zarkawi. On that facebook page, it gives a glimpse of the Al-Qaeda recruitment in the Levant (Syria).
I had such a wonderful time yesterday talking to John Phillips, the Los Angeles correspondent for Next Generation TV, the newest wing of the PJ Media family. Click here or on the screen shot above to watch our 11 minute conversation at PJTV on the future of Twitter, the challenges of juggling ideological friends on Facebook, and social media’s role in the political culture today.
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
“Grow a pair.”
We really have returned to junior high. Welcome to Barack Obama’s America in 2013.
Somebody ought to write a book about progressive bullying…
But when it came time to book the show, Morgan’s team refused to tell Shapiro what the format of the show would be. When Shapiro said that he expected balance — a second one-on-one interview with Morgan — Morgan’s producers balked. They did insist strongly, however, that Shapiro appear on the show, where he would be “in for the entire show” and “have a huge part.” When Shapiro again reiterated that balance would be a one-on-one, and asked for more details on what his role would be, Morgan’s producers went silent.
“This is how the left manipulates media situations to ambush conservatives,” Shapiro said. “Piers and I had a good conversation last week about gun control; if he wants a rematch, I’m always game.”
Related at PJ Lifestyle on the childish mentality of mainstream culture today:
“It must be him, it must be him, oh dear God, it must be him or I shall die.”
Before the advent of answering machines, and decades before mobile communications and social media, waiting by the phone for your man to call was an ancient mating tradition that single women of all ages thankfully will never again have to endure.
I was reminded of this dating ritual since we are on the cusp of celebrating what is traditionally known as the greatest date night of all, New Year’s Eve.
While wracking my brain thinking of a suitable baby boomer topic applicable to this holiday, it hit me… New Year’s Eve, 1971, when I was a high school sophomore and my boyfriend was a senior.
All that stands out about that evening was my having to wait by the phone for my boyfriend to call to tell me the time he was coming by to take me to a house party (where someone’s parents were out of town).
As 5 pm turned into 6 pm, turned into 7 pm, turned into 8 pm, I became extremely anxious, especially when my mother said, “Would it be so bad if you stayed home?” (Yea mom, how about the end of the world as I know it.)
When Mr. Considerate finally called at 8 pm the trauma ceased. But thinking back upon that 1971 New Year’s Eve, it was how waiting by the phone helped form five positive personality traits that women like me did not even realize we were developing. Eventually these five traits served baby boomer women extremely well as we made our way through the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s taking advantage of all the new career opportunities that the women’s movement afforded.
Here are the five personality traits aging baby boomer women learned while waiting by the phone.
When you were forced to accept someone else’s timetable you learned it was not just all about you. Waiting by the phone developed patience and was superb training for almost any career and life in general.
This feeling was experienced when you finally realized that he was not going to call after he said (or you assumed) he would. Learning to cope with rejection without feeling like a complete loser was an important life lesson. The key was to think about all your positive attributes that this man was obviously missing. Then move ahead and don’t look back. This concept was easily applied to the professional world, especially if you were a business owner or involved in sales of any kind. Women of a certain age who experienced sitting by the phone waiting for him to call learned how to be resilient in the face of rejection.
3. Self worth/Self esteem
You waited by the phone and he did call. High five! You were on top of your game. All your flirting skills worked and you were the master of the feminine universe. (But sometimes you discovered that he was not worth waiting for!)
Later in life this same initial exhilaration was experienced when you landed a new job or a new client/contract/project was won. But you never let it go to your head. One learned early on that you must never be cocky because rejection in love or life could be lurking right around the corner.
He called, (maybe even weeks after he said he would) and you refrained from telling him that he was an insensitive jerk. But since you were really glad to hear from him you said no such thing. Later in the business world this skill came in handy when “the customer was always right” even if he/she was not.
5. Playing the Game
Once while chatting with some guy friends in my high school classes they admitted to me that often they did not call a girl after they said they would because they did not want to appear “pussy whipped.” (Yes, that was the operative term at the time.) So from this conversation I learned that there was a lot of game playing going on when it came to the timing of “the call.”
As a result, my friends and I would discuss when it was time to stop waiting and time to start living. (However, flirting with his friends was always an appropriate response.) The lesson “stop waiting and start living” developed into positive personality traits that were applicable to many future life situations.
But alas, girls/women today don’t have to deal with any of this waiting by the phone. In fact, waiting is a thing of the past since now there is no stigma attached to calling a boy before he calls you. Girls today will call, text, tweet, Facebook, or email and if that does not get his attention they will have their friends call, text, email, Facebook or tweet. From what I have heard about today’s dating habits, “whatever it takes” to catch the attention of the man of the moment seems to be acceptable behavior.
This behavior is a result of both the instant communications revolution and the women’s movement which generally has made the girls/women of today much more aggressive than my friends or I ever were in high school and college.
Perhaps this more aggressive behavior is cultural “payback” for all the countless hours their baby boomer mothers and grandmothers spent waiting by the phone especially in the weeks leading up to important date nights like New Year’s Eve. For around that time whenever the phone rang, teenage girls and young women were conditioned into thinking, “It must be him, it must be him, please be him or I will die.”
Happy New Year’s everyone!
More on generations at PJ Lifestyle:
Prescient philosopher of the media Marshall McLuhan once famously remarked that “the future of the book is the blurb.” Had he lived long enough to witness the ubiquity of the personal computer and social media, he might have said that “the future of the book is the tweet.”
As both a longtime James Bond fan and a contributor to Acculturated’s symposium on “Language in the Digital Age,” I was amused to read about how author and comedian Charlie Higson recently reduced twelve of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels into 140-character tweets, just in time for the release of the new 007 movie Skyfall.
Here is Higson’s take on Dr. No, for example, the first Bond book to be made into a film, the one in which original Bond girl Ursula “Honey Rider” Andress made her iconic appearance in a white bikini: “Jamaica? Yes. Dead agent? Yes. Honeychile Rider like a naked Venus from the sea? Yes. Steel hands? Yes. Radioactive pool? No. Death by guano”
This is not the first time compressing novels into a single tweet has been undertaken on Twitter. Writers like Tim Collins have boiled down the classics at least as far back as 2009. Here is his summary of The Catcher in the Rye: “jdsalinger: Rich kid thinks everyone is fake except for his little sister. Has breakdown. @markchapman is now following @johnlennon”
Related at PJ Lifestyle on social networking and the internet:
Designers have come up with a jacket that actively gives you a cuddle when someone says they like you on the social network site.
The “Like-A-Hug” jacket inflates when someone clicks on the “Like” button putting a little more reality into virtual reality.
Designed by MIT student Melissa Chow, who said it “allows us to feel the warmth, encouragement, support, or love that we feel when we receive hugs”.
Hugs can also be sent back to the original sender by squeezing the vest and deflating it.
Hat tip: Jon Bishop
More visions of the future at PJ Lifestyle:
It’s official: Facebook is forcing us all to switch our profiles to the new “Timeline” format, whether we want it or not. I can assure you that, empirically, it sucks.
Back when I was studying journalism, rather than making fun of journalists, they taught us that a newspaper or magazine layout should follow a Z pattern. A reader’s eyes quite naturally start at the top left corner, scan right, zip down and to the left, then right again — so your layout should work with human nature to make the sale.
They taught us to put the newest and most important information — the item that would get readers to spend a quarter — on the top left corner. (A quarter? Yeah, I was learning this a long time ago. But it’s a timeless lesson.) If the big item was big enough, give it the whole top line of the Z. The second biggest story follows on the next part of the Z, followed by the third, and then the fourth — if there’s room for four. Three, they told us, was more or less ideal. Too much information, and the reader loses focus before he ponies up the 25¢.
Here’s the layout for Timeline.
What dominates the top third of the screen? Static information. Your name, your banner (I don’t have a banner yet, so just a headshot), and some personal data like job and where you went to school. You know, stuff that doesn’t change very much, or at all. In other words, the first thing a visitor to your profile sees is a bunch of crap they already know. And lots of people are putting up big, busy banners which dominate your eyeballs. Timeline isn’t as bad as MySpace, but only because Facebook doesn’t let you use a zillion different fonts or animated GIFs. But let’s keep that quiet, before Zuckerberg gets any more bright ideas.
The next place your eyeballs travel is to the status update box. That’s fine for you, lousy for visitors. After that, something called “Activity.” Well, I know who I just friended, and you’re probably not all that interested. So… why the prominence?
Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Indeed, for men aged 20-44 and women between 15 and 34, it is the leading cause of death. The rate equates to about 26 deaths per 100,00 people. By contrast, the rate in the US is just 11 per 100,000.
Which is why the Japanese government has invested heavily in programs to understand the causes of suicide and reduce the number of resulting deaths. Its plan is to cut the rate by 20 per cent by 2017.
Psychologists have studied suicide for many years. One focus of research is identifying and studying people who have regular thoughts about suicide, so-called suicide ideation. The evidence gathered to date suggests that people with suicidal thoughts tend to be socially isolated, meaning they have not just fewer friends but are also less likely to be members of friendship triangles in which three people are mutual friends.
However, these types of studies have been difficult to do accurately. For young people, the data comes largely from questionnaires filled out by students at a particular school or university. The problem here is that when students have friends outside this environment, the outsiders’ role in the social network cannot be properly accounted for.
This doesn’t influence the data for the total number of friends for each person but it may well influence the calculation of the number friendship triangles.
Today, Naoki Masuda at the University of Tokyo in Japan and a couple of pals address this problem. Instead of studying suicide ideation at a school or university, these guys looked at in an online social network called Mixi, a major Japanese network with over 25 million members.
Just when you think it’s safe to log on to the most overrated social media platform in history…
Hey, here’s something really stupid and annoying: Facebook abruptly switched everyone’s default email address to the @facebook.com account you’ve never used. Here’s how to switch back Facebook’s obnoxious overreach right now. So people can actually, you know, contact you.
Of course, Facebook’s standard operating procedure is to constantly make changes that either compromise security or provide users with something they never wanted. It’s most stunning achievement is that every “improvement” seems to make the site worse yet people keep flocking to it.
Cue is a new iPhone app aimed at making our increasingly complex, daily online lives form an orderly queue of events and reminders.
That’s a difficult nut to crack, but the startup has the confidence and financial backing of Bret Taylor, the departing chief technology officer of Facebook. He was also a co-founder of Friendfeed with Gmail creator Paul Buchheit – another Cue investor.
There are similarities. Friendfeed, which influenced and then was bought by Facebook, aggregates dozens of social feeds into personal streams, but Cue is taking on the tougher task of combining such feeds with other services such as email and diary items to predict what your day is going to be like.
The founders – ex-Y Combinator twentysomethings Daniel Gross and Robby Walker – told me the main idea was to reduce information overload. But I found a beta version of the iPhone app, which is now available in the App Store, was actually guilty of TMI – too much information.
It’s also possible that even the craziest speculators are still undervaluing Facebook’s ultimate worth. That’s where a media theorist like me can venture an opinion — and I’d have to say no, they’re not. Facebook is certainly the best of the social media apps to come along, just as Google was the best search engine. Similarly, however, the social media playpen constituted by Facebook is temporary. Just as we are moving away from Web search into a world of applications running on smartphones, we will move away from our single Web-based social media platform toward more ad-hoc social apps on our handheld devices.
It’s hard for us to imagine right now, but we won’t be logging into Facebook to find out what’s going on; we’ll work and play in an ecology of apps that tell us where people are and what they are doing.
Yes, Facebook may have a role in that next-generation social media universe, but it will need what tech industry people like to call “a second act.” Apple’s second act is the iPhone. Google is hoping for “augmented reality” eyeglasses and network-controlled automobiles.
Facebook’s second act is far from clear. It wants to become the platform on which everybody else builds social media apps. But if all this activity is happening on smartphones, then Facebook is dangerously dependent on Android and iPhone for everything, a layer on top of Apple and Google’s systems. Facebook’s inability to generate income on the smartphone has led to some desperate moves, such as its billion-dollar acquisition of photo-sharing app Instagram and off-putting products like “sponsored stories.”
1. Crowd-source your followers
Asking your followers to recommend restaurants/bars/tourist hot spots to you is the new Google, by which I mean: Why don’t you just use Google? Twitter-sourcing is the laziest form of research. It’s like going to the library, lying down on the floor, and asking relevant books to jump off the shelves onto your face. I don’t know. It’s fine. Just keep it to a minimum – like once a year, maybe. For example, I just asked MY followers what Twitter behavior they found annoying. If, in the next twelve months, I find myself wondering where the best Sasquatch hotspots in the Midwest are located, tough luck. I will be doing that woods-wandering unadvised.
“Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning.”
It’s arguably the most famous opening line in 20th century fiction. The predicament in which Franz Kafka’s “Joseph K.” finds himself is even more chillingly relevant today than it was in 1920.
Not only was Kafka lucky enough to have died before the Holocaust he’d intuited was on the horizon, but he missed far, far lesser scourges, like internet trolls and slanderers.
If Kafka were alive and writing on the web today, he’d have dozens of online stalkers, making fun of him for living with his parents and having really big ears.
He might even be subject to “lawfare” for his “controversial” blogging.
A while back I wrote about the particular abuse women in general — and conservative women in particular — attract on the web. The good news is that there are ways to dial down this annoying din, and these methods work for everybody.
Although Google+ continues to grow (it now has 100 million users, according to Larry Page) I’m afraid that while the stats may be on the rise the quality of the platform itself is going downhill.
When I signed up for Google+ in July of last year, it was like a breath of fresh air. It was inhabited by ‘early adopters’: people who are the first to sign up for new websites and to participate on them. Luckily for Google, these early adopters are also the world’s ‘influencers’ and they were positive and hopeful about this new social media baby.
That was then, this is now: like others I’m starting to lose faith in Google’s ability to turn G+ into a network where people come to discuss serious issues. Increasingly, it’s becoming a carbon copy of Facebook. People are reduced to sharing cat gifs and other fancy images (often with so-called ‘inspiring’ oneliners accompanying them).
The reason? I’m afraid that G+ lost most of its appeal when it opened to the public at large. The masses don’t care about quality conversations; they want fluff. To keep up with the trend, even influencers (with, again like me, many thousands of followers) change their posting behavior. We’re now at a point where I wonder why I’m logging in; sure there still are some good and interesting posts published on G+, but I can find their authors also at other social networking sites that are more focused on professionals.
It became even worse when Google+ got a complete redesign that actually emphasizes images and photos. That’s great for the visually oriented, I guess, but for those of us who want to learn something from other people, it isn’t useless but frustrating. We suddenly see “trending topics,”"what’s hot” and posts that consist of a gigantic image, with no or little thoughts offered with it.
How that is supposed to inspire interesting conversations is beyond me.
Can Page et al. turn it around? Can G+ once again become the place on the Net for me to talk about technology and social media, and of course politics?
Perhaps. But I’m losing faith.
A few days ago, I took my kids to one of those places with giant inflatable slides that sane people avoid. My best friend was in town for her once-a-year visit home and in order to show the kids a “good time” took them to inflatable kid heaven, otherwise known as the Jump Zone.
It’s always a mistake, with the noise level and the creeping panic attacks (“Is my kid ever going to come out of there and if not, will I fit because I didn’t squeeze into my Spanx today?”) This time was no exception. I had a truth-moment that will be forever etched on my soul that announced over the loudspeaker in my brain, “Society is doomed. Most people are idiots.” My father says he came to this conclusion many years ago and there’s no big news in it. I always held out hope that the majority of the idiots were the ones who landed on the news for tattooing their ex with depictions of excrement or on the Maury Povich show with a 200 pound eight-year-old. Most people, I thought, are your neighbors who are sane, decent folks. Not so! It turns out the world is littered with mopes and I have proof.
The Jump Zone is a terrible place to go if you want to catch up with a girlfriend. First of all, the noise level is deafening, but more importantly, the children roam free to create destruction like crazed Cornish Pixies and if you don’t keep up with them they could bloody a nose or worse, walk out the door never to be seen again. (Don’t get me started on the lack of proper caging structures.) Because of these dangers, my girlfriend and I exchanged about twenty words in an hour which all started with, “Did you see…?” or “Where is…?” And so we followed and searched and scolded and directed and assisted the way one must as a mother. Or I should say, should.
We all know, because we’re Internet savvy, all about twitter, right? And of course football players have used twitter to poke at opponents and get themselves in a lot of trouble for a while now. But I was still surprised to see this on the landing page of the 49ers NFL.com page:
Twitter, it seems, has become the institutionalized way of rallying fans, at least for the recently “blue collar” San Francisco 49ers.
And for those of you thinking, huh? What is she talking about? The # before “Saints” “49ers” and “beatthesaints” are called “hash tags” and are used to organize tweets (twitter posts). You can search on a hash tag, and if you want a lot of people talking about your subject you tell them to use a specific hash tag. So if you want to hear 49ers fans trash-taking about the Saints you’d search for #beatthesaints. If you want your tweet found, you insert that hash tag into your tweet.
Oh, and yes, please, beat the Saints. It’s been a long dry season for the 49er faithful.
My interview with Advice Goddess Amy Alkon on men’s issues is now up at Blog Talk Radio. You can listen to us discuss paternity fraud, men’s reproductive rights (or lack thereof), domestic violence, and how men can learn to survive in a female-centered world:
If you haven’t seen or heard of OnLive yet, prepare to have your mind blown. OnLive may be the most interesting innovation in video games of the past year. Here’s a brief taste of what it does.
Gaming in the Clouds
OnLive is cloud streaming video games. That means that it delivers quality video game entertainment while mostly doing away with going to the local game store, with the need for an expensive game console, or with being locked into gaming on a single PC. OnLive plays where you are, on your PC, Mac or TV. Instantly.
The way it works is simple. OnLive’s game library is installed in the cloud. You access that cloud in a variety of ways through your internet connection. First you create an account for free at OnLive’s web site. Then you download and install a small app to your computer, or you hook up the “microconsole” to your TV. Once installed, sign in to your account and you have instant access to hundreds of video games. You can install the app on as many devices as you want, and when you buy and play a game, your saves and progress get tied to your login account. So your game progress goes to whatever device you happen to be on at the moment.
OnLive also does away with the need to download the games or their demos, at all. In this respect, it gains an advantage over its most obvious competitor, the Steam game network, which requires local downloads for all the content you choose to access. So where, in the Steam universe, you might wait hours just to sample a demo of a game you’re considering purchasing, with OnLive, once you click on the Game Trial button, you’re automatically and instantly allowed to demo the game.
OnLive’s optional microconsole also gives it an edge over the more expensive XBox360 and PS3 consoles, in cost, portability and ease of use. Because the games are installed in the cloud, there is no need for discs, and therefore no moving parts inside OnLive’s tiny box. No red rings of death, no DVD readers that suddenly die. And at just a bit larger than an iPhone, the OnLive console will fit anywhere, while at $129 off Amazon for the box and a wireless controller, it fits just about any budget too. Apple fans will appreciate the packaging in which the console arrives; it’s a sleek black box reminiscent of the packaging in which Apple places the iPhone.
Thirty-two years ago when I was a sophomore in college I found myself sitting in the student lounge one evening with little to do. It was after 8 PM and I was hoping that a certain young lady (whom I had my eye on at the time) would make an appearance and join me for a drink. Alas, she was a no-show. In fact, there was no one in the lounge aside from Bob, an accounting student whom I had only spoken to superficially in the past. Bob appeared to be about 10 years older than me, wore a beat up army jacket, and carried a black messenger bag full of books and loose papers.
As Bob seemed to be in no particular hurry to go anywhere either, we struck up a conversation and before we knew it an hour and a half had passed. I have no recollection of what it was we talked about, but I do remember that we decided to continue our chat over a cup of coffee. In those days, there wasn’t a Starbucks conveniently located on every college campus, and our only option was a vending machine located in the cafeteria (by now closed for hours), which dispensed a vile concoction which was coffee in name only. The cafeteria was located at the other end of the hall from the student lounge. We gathered our things and began walking. Although I didn’t know it at the time, it was a walk that would change my life.
By this time, the hallways were deserted except for the cleaning staff. We came upon a classroom where a woman was straightening out the desks. I remember thinking about how her dyed, red hair clashed with her light green uniform. As we walked by, she recognized Bob immediately and gave him a warm greeting. He answered her back and they carried on for a few moments. I had no idea what it was they were saying to each other because they were speaking in a language that I had never heard before. After they said goodbye, we continued on our way.
“Bob, what language was that?” I asked him.
“That was Polish,” he replied casually.
I don’t remember saying anything after that, but as we continued on our walk down the empty corridor, we came upon another classroom being cleaned, this time by an elderly man wearing the same light green uniform as the Polish woman. The same scene as before played itself out. The old man lit up at the sight of Bob, spoke to him in the same type of gibberish, and afterward seemed genuinely sad to see him go.
We finally reached our destination, inserted our coins into the machine and received our beverages. As expected, the coffee tasted like swill, but at least it was hot. Attempting to ease us back into conversation, I remarked to Bob that I was not aware that there were so many Polish people employed as cleaning staff by the school. He seemed somewhat puzzled. “The woman,” he said, “was Polish. The man was Russian.”
Did I just hear him correctly?
Late last month, I spoke with Michael Anton, former speechwriter for Rupert Murdoch, George W. Bush and Condi Rice, and deputy foreign policy advisor for the 2008 Giuliani presidential campaign, on The Suit: A Machiavellian Approach to Men’s Style, his sartorially-oriented parody of Machiavelli’s The Prince, written in 2006 under the pen name of Nicholas Antongiavanni. As its subtitle and nom de fashion hints, it’s a book aimed towards businessmen, professionals and those entering the political arena on how to use the business suit to their advantage. I spoke with Michael in 2006 when the book first came out for a Tech Central Station article, and it seemed like a natural fit to do a follow-up here at the Lifestyle blog.
- How a man can improve his style while making a minimum of aesthetic and financial disasters.
- How does a businessman square looking sharp with the trend towards business casual?
- How does a politician use the rules of fashion to his advantage?
- Anton’s take on the no-tie look that seems to be catching on amongst the on-air talent on TV channels such as ESPN, CNN and MSNBC.
- The continuing influence of the artwork created for Apparel Arts, an otherwise forgotten 1930s-era publication (later spun-off into both GQ and Esquire), on menswear.
- We also discuss the fashion styles of Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. Unfortunately, we recorded this interview before Herman Cain’s recent rise in the polls, and I very much regret not getting Anton’s take on Cain’s sartorial choices. (Good excuse for a possible follow-up interview next year though.)
16 minutes long; click here to listen:
If your browser is unhappy with our MP3 player, a YouTube version is also available:
For our previous podcasts at the Lifestyle blog, click here and keep scrolling.
By Michael van der Galien
Facebook is supposed to be one of the most innovative social networking websites on the Net. It is, at the very least, the biggest — by far.
But for how long will Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard project remain number one? It’s a fair question to ask now that the changes Facebook announced Thursday at its f8 conference are being criticized by virtually everybody — except for Zuckerberg himself, that is.
When Google+, the new social network of Google, was launched, many were critical. The criticism disappeared at the very moment people starting using it, however: all its new users fell in love with it immediately. This wasn’t just a “social network,” it was truly a new home on the Internet, especially for those who had grown tired of Facebook’s clutter and arrogance.
Facebook knew it had to strike back. First came video chat, which is a partnership with Skype. Then, this week, other innovations were rolled out: the biggest changes were a new news stream and the possibility to subscribe to users’ public posts. Then, Thursday, other changes were introduced that, Zuckerberg announced, would truly revolutionize your Internet experience.
But are these changes in the best interest of Facebook’s 800 million users? No. Not even almost.