Egyptian elections

Issandr el Amrani is pessimistic about the Egyptian presidential election, saying the process “

appears to have been rigged to put an end to a transformation of Egyptian politics that was the hope of the January 25 revolution

“. He points out that parliament passed a law which would have exluded leading candidate Ahmed Shafiq, and were then ovverruled by the Presidential Election Commission.

el Amrani also has a helpful chart to show roughly the positions of the candidates:

In Counterpunch, Esam Al-Amin argues that the US is backing Amr Moussa as a safe continuity candidate.

On The Road

The beats are my not-really-guilty pleasure. However much I know I should feel bad about my enthusiasm for them, I just can’t bring myself to. Sure, they’re long-winded, self-satisfied, sexist, blind to their own privilege. Sorry, just this once, I don’t care.

Two beat sacred texts,



On The Road

, have recently been transposed to film. Howl, in the form of a documentary, was premiered in Berlin while I was living there. I’d just spent a manic winter treating the poem as some kind of talisman, mouthing it to myself as I dashed about through the snow.

Nonetheless, I never saw the film. I didn’t want to jinx my euphoria, and besides, I’m not good at seeing films I care about. Sitting through too-slow hours of footage is inherently painful, doubly so when I care about the subject. I’d much rather admire the ripple-effect of the film on culture, as it moves through the media propelled by PR. I’m glad it’s there, and glad to have it nudging us all in a particular direction. Still, I’ll leave it to others to actually watch the film.

Now comes the film version of

On the Road

— Kerouac’s novel of bums drifting across the US, the countercultural cliche that’s simultaneously so American it hurts. The cultural ripples are already showing their effect among my friends, winkling out people who I never would have imagined having an interestin Kerouac.

On the Road

has been showing at Cannes, with the result of this entertaining article in

Le Monde

. OK, OK, partly because of how I started cackling to myself at encountering the phrase “

l’American way of life


But then we hear about the ‘monastic discipline’ of the director preparing to shoot the film. It’s on one level ludicrous — learned exegesis of a text on drifting. Cue awkward self-recognition; I’m the kind of person who would write a PhD on how to chill out, only to emerge tenser than ever. But sometimes you


to try to hard, especially when it’s the only tool you’ve got. And the same tension between working and experiencing was certainly present for Kerouac, Kesey, Ginsberg — eulogizing the wildness of Neal Cassady and others, while retaining enough distance from the party to write and create. So maybe the correct remembrance of them is an earnest film in praise of carelessness.


The Economist has what seems at first to be a gloomy outlook on antisocial Britons staying at home:

The decline in visiting friends and family at home is harder to explain. Inflation-busting petrol prices may have deterred people from making social trips, whereas they have to keep shopping and going to work. Because new cars are more fuel-efficient than old ones, and because their price has risen less than other items, the cost of motoring has actually fallen in real terms. But, since many people focus on the cost per litre of petrol, rather than the cost per mile, rising pump prices may have had some effect on travel patterns.