Unrest in Tunisia; paralysis in Egypt. The common political structure across the autocratic middle-east is the strong, western-oriented state on the one hand and the Islamic masses on the other. In the centre is a more-or-less squeezed proto-bourgeois civil society: secular, modernist and Internet-using.
Something like this has always been the story in underdeveloped countries. Up to now the ideology of the masses has been some combination of socialism and communism. It has finally dawned on people, however, that the 's and c' route is simply a recipe for stagnation and corruption. Islam as a theocratic political force will come down to the same thing in the end (cf. its present Iranian form).
The path out of poverty lies with the increasing growth, power and influence of that thin bourgeois segment: it will have to win its own battle for civil institutions against the strong-state. Hopefully the Islam of the masses can make an evolution similar to that of bourgeois Christianity. There are precedents.
Between the Scylla of Autocracy and the Charybdis of Theocracy we can only wish the twitterers the best. It will be hard in Egypt.
So first there was the Physics StackExchange from which I continue to learn a lot. Then I discovered there is a science-fiction version: I haven't dared invest any further time on that or I will be glued to the computer.
At the moment I am reviewing the quantum mechanics I did a couple of years ago, just reminding myself of how atoms and molecules are modelled and going a bit beyond (mixed states). Then I plan to take another look at quantum field theory where I need to understand better things like how forces are modelled, and how the Higgs field works. Beyond that I have a book on general relativity which seems at the right level (Einstein's field equations come at the end rather than the beginning!).
Today the weather has warmed up and its damper. We're off to the library later. It's apparently escaped the cuts.