Historians of war and society would like to believe that military conflicts have fixed beginnings and ends. Conventional depictions of the Lebanese civil war are no exception and typically confine that conflict within the notional temporal parameters of 1975–90. But the key aggravating features generally identified with the events of the Lebanese civil war—class resentments, echoes of the Arab-Israeli conflict on a regional scale, domestic geographical inequalities, sectarian rancor, and political infighting across the Lebanese scene—had been accumulating since 1948, and even earlier. [more inside]
A Sunni-Shia Love Story Imperiled by al Qaeda (by Ruth Michaelson).
Sabrine and her soldier husband managed to marry against all odds, including her family’s wrath. Now, their love story faces an even bigger threat—his abduction by the Nusra Front.
"Before playing he explained the story behind the song, which was a journey – it was in 1993 as a 12 year old that he was able to return to Beirut alone for the first time (his parents having fled to Paris during the war) and he wandered the streets with his walkman, earphones plugged but playing no music, instead composing music in his mind and looking at the bullet marks in the walls of homes which had been rebuilt so many times over during the war that not much of the devastation was actually visible.. but after walking for a while, he sat and rested for some time.. and then suddenly when he got up again he noticed a street in front of him completely devastated and abandoned – something that he had actually been looking to see – but in that moment he was listening to (having just discovered) Led Zepplin and the combination of seeing the devastation and the music actually scared him and he ran away. And so this song tells that journey." The song is Beirut, and he is Ibrahim Maalouf. [more inside]
A recent XKCD comic charted the difficulty of various games for computers, from Tic Tac Toe and Nim being solved for all positions, to computers mastering the physical game of Beirut and mental game of chess (the 2006 Deep Fritz vs Vladimir Kramnikin games, previously). There are other games that are basic on the face, but whose potentials for move combinations is so vast as to be beyond the scope of computers. Marion Tinsley was the last great human checkers player, matching off against Chinook in the last 6 games of his life, each ending in a draw (previously). Checkers was finally solved in 2007 (Google quickview; original PDF), and is largest game that has been solved to date, at 8x8. Solving Othello might be possible, if the decision tree were truncated, as the 10x10 board game tree complexity is very huge. The 19x19 Go board is is often noted as one of the primary reasons why a strong program is hard to create, though some programs are getting better at optimizing move evaluations. More: computerized gaming solutions previously, and the Wikipedia page for solved games.
The CBC has launched an interactive web documentary with tonnes of videos that takes users inside Shatila refugee camp (pop. 12,000) in Beirut, where Palestinians have now lived for more than 60 years.
Out My Window (trailer) is the new web documentary from the Highrise project, one of the world's first interactive 360° documentaries. Delivered entirely on the web, it explores the state of our urban planet told by people who look out on the world from highrise windows. With more than 90 minutes of material, Out My Window features 49 stories from 13 cities, told in 13 languages.
In other news: prominent Iraq war supporter and atheist writer Christopher Hitchens caught in street brawl with Syrian nazis in Beirut, Lebanon, after defacing the group's poster with "No, no, Fuck You". The assault occurred on the eve of a lecture held by Mr. Hitchens at the American University of Beirut, on the subject of "Who are the revolutionaries in today's Middle East".
The band Beirut released the Flying Club Cup on October 9th, and La Blogothèque has filmed unique, one take, on the spot, mostly public 'music videos' of each track. [more inside]
Censored: The scariest news may be the stuff you haven’t seen yet. David Phinney thought he’d struck journalistic gold. The veteran reporter, who has done freelance work for PBS, ABC, The New York Times, and other news companies, learned from a disgusted American contractor that the Kuwaiti company hired to build the U.S. embassy in Iraq was using forced laborers trafficked in from Asia. [more inside]
Murder Update: "Syria's Lebanese allies are trying to undermine the Hariri investigation from within, and are expected to escalate their efforts very soon, maybe even this week."
Anthony Bourdain, chef, writer, and TV traveler, writes about his experience in Beirut and his escape to the USS Nashville. Via. Previously.
The Voyage of Terry Waite's Clogs I first saw this a couple of days ago and the more I think about the logistics and reasoning behind this the stranger it becomes. I like the fact this probably wouldn't happen in any other country than England, but all the same you do have to wonder why it happened. For those non-Brits Terry Waite was the Archbishop of Canterbury's envoy to Beirut in the 80s and was held hostage for 5 years by a militant islamic group.
American brands PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble and Western Union are advertising on Hezbollah television. The Iranian-backed and funded group has been implicated in the attacks against the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Americans in 1982.
Former Beiruit hostage Tom Sutherland is now more rich that Donald and his son combined (probably). . .
Former Beiruit hostage Tom Sutherland is now more rich that Donald and his son combined (probably). . . $53m comes from the US tax payers. The other $300m he was awarded to be sifted out Iran somehow. Granted, he and "cell-mate" Terry Anderson spent 70 months chained, gagged and probably unbathed, but can't they honestly say now, this was the best thing that could ever have happened to them? "We're not going to build any new houses or move away from Fort Collins . . .. We'll just be the same guys." Sutherland pooh-poohed the high falutin' rumors. What'd they expect teaching school in a den of lions?