Whenever unrest breaks out in the Middle East, the first thing protesters do is start throwing stones. From the pictures and video, you'd think they have a never-ending supply of stones that fit perfectly into the palm of one's hand. It seems amid all the chaos and uncertainty in Egypt and elsewhere in the region, one question is more pressing than the others: Where do all these stones come from?
Are they the same stones that were thrown the last time? Are they just lying around in piles, waiting for some unrest? Are there bins kept in strategic locations, for your protesting convenience? Can you rent stones on short notice? If so, how do they know the stone you're returning is the same one you rented? If not, is there a potential business opportunity there?
Egyptians don't seem to think so. The New York Times reports that "many ordinary Egyptians" are "beginning to complain about the economic toll of the protests." I guess decades of oppression can really stifle the entrepreneurial spirit. Come on, guys, there's money out there for the taking! Picture the billboards...
"Frank's Stone Rentals: You won't protest our prices."
"Zip Stone: Because everybody must get stoned... By us!"
Or how about "Enterprise Rent-a-Stone: We'll pick you up...and give you a bunch of stones."
Now if you'd rather side with the establishment, there are career options for you too. Why not offer to clean up the stones? If I became a Middle Eastern dictator, my first decree would be, "No more stones." I'd replace the secret police with a fleet of Roombas. My opposition would be rendered impotent!
With all the talk about the role that technology is playing in the protests, the media seems to have neglected the stone's role entirely. Let's not forget, it is the world's oldest portable device. And it's a renewable protesting resource. The same can't be said for the iPhone. Throw one of those things at the cops, and I don't think the Apple Store will let you return it.