Everything counts in large amounts

This just in: Seems like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Via Boingboing I find out that the son of Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi, Saif, has a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics. It now turns out parts of the thesis might be plagiarized, and a wiki is already set up to comb through it in search of more. Internet, you make me proud.

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Dissenters

Paul Mason of BBC makes some interesting points about what makes political dissent more feasible in modern autocracies than before. Of course, one of his main points is that Internet Changes Everything, a claim so common that I always become suspicious when I see it: what lazy thinking is this trope hiding? But in this case there are real truths here, albeit somewhat overblown. And he is careful to qualify his point:

What happens to this new, fluffy global zeitgeist when it runs up against the old-style hierarchical dictatorship in a death match, where the latter has about 300 Abrams tanks? We may be about to find out.

One other interesting idea is that the demographics in these autocracies are now beginning to look like those of the “Western” world fifty years ago: larger middle class, better-educated youth. One should be careful in drawing historical analogies too far, but it is interesting to consider. Also, remember that here the middle-class and the well-educated are facing a much worse situation than the baby boomers, with a large percentage not really having a secure future.