When I got the news that the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday to a "quartet" of four Tunisian civil society groups, I was in the "AFOUFA" hair salon in La Marsa, an upscale suburb of Tunisia doing something I rarely do: getting my hair done.
One could argue that the only place where the revolutions of the Arab Spring have actually made a change for the better is Tunisia. The North African country has had its own issues since 2011, but perhaps Tunisia's downturn has much to do with its close proximity to terror hotbed Libya.
He wrote a poem. Recited it in his apartment to a group of seven people. Unknown to him, the poem was recorded and uploaded on YouTube. That was in 2011. Now he sits in prison in Qatar, serving a prison sentence of 15 years!
It's unusual to write about Ph.D. dissertations, but when the topic deals with digital firewalls and Internet censorship, it's an attention grabber in an era of disclosures on surveillance by countless governments.
While Tunisia has been spared the large-scale human rights abuses and chaotic turmoil of the other post-Arab Spring states, a growing al Qaeda presence threatens to destabilize the country and undermine the democratic aspirations that fueled the Jasmine Revolution.
Unfolding this month at the Boston Review is "China's Other Revolution" -- an essay by MIT political scientist Edward S. Steinfeld and a series of responses, all on the subject of whether and when real democratic reform will happen, in authoritarian, oligarchic China.
Everything that registers on China's international -- and, for that matter, domestic -- radar does so because it, directly or indirectly, impacts stability.
China's leaders can either begin political reforms on their own terms and try to guide the country into a more open system of government, or they can keep the lid on and risk an outbreak of protests.
From France to India, hunger and food production have long played a major role in revolutions and social upheaval. Food security, then and today, remains a trigger of conflict.
A self-taught lawyer in China who was recently released after years in prison has now been put in home detention -- isolated and beaten by authorities.
I met Tang Jitian and was impressed with his understanding of his role in pushing the Chinese government to truly commit to a rule of law.
Snorre Valen, the Norwegian Member of Parliament who nominated WikiLeaks, was probably on to something.
Watching Egypt from afar, we may not be able to help much, but at the very least we can pray that the extraordinary sacrifices of the most ordinary amongst us is not wasted.
You won't find it on Time Warner or Cablevision, but Al Jazeera's English language television service is laying claim to the viewing loyalty of news-hungry, media-obsessed Westerners.
Despite the massive protests and glorification of the democracy activists by the western media, a core aspect of sea-change is missing: leadership.
In light of Tunisia and Egypt, and the theory that it's "1989 in the Middle East," we must again be reminded that, as unhappy families are each unhappy in their own way, autocratic Arab regimes are each corrupt in their own way, and likely to respond to pressure in their own way, and hence likely to experience radically distinctive destinies. Democratization comes in many forms, slow and fast, civic and political, gradual and revolutionary, successful and unsuccessful. And of course, sometimes it does not come at all.