Saturday, December 31, 2005
What we woke up to this morning..
And how it looked tonight...
Technorati tags: Winter, Wonderland, Snow
Friday, December 30, 2005
"It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small."
"The first day or so we all pointed to our countries. The third or fourth day we were pointing to our continents. By the fifth day we were aware of only one Earth."
Sultan Bin Salman al-Saud
"Now I know why I’m here, not for a closer look at the moon, but to look back at our home, the Earth."
"During the eight days I spent in space, I realized that mankind needs height. Primarily to better know our long suffering Earth — to see what cannot be seen close up. Not just to love her dearly, but also to ensure that we do not bring the slightest harm to the natural world."
"We were flying over America and suddenly I saw snow, the first snow we ever saw from orbit. I have never visited America, but I imagined that the arrival of autumn and winter is the same there as in other places, and the process of getting ready for them is the same. And then it struck me that we are all children of our Earth."
"When I circled the moon and looked back at the Earth, my outlook on life and viewpoint of the Earth changed. You don't see Los Angels, or Boston, or even New York. You don't see boundaries or people, no Whites or Blacks, Christians, Jews or Muslims. The Earth looks completely uninhabited and yet you know that on Spaceship Earth there lives over six billion astronauts - all seeking the same things from life. We are all the crew of Spaceship Earth. Just like Apollo, the crew must work and learn together and manage the resources of this world with new imagination. The future is up to you."
since there is no chance of getting everyone of earth's 6 billion inhabitants into outer space to see that deeper/higher level truth, all we need now is a Martian attack. You know what I'm talking about, all these Hollywood movies when earth is on the brink of oblivion on the hands of some invading alien force, how peoples of the world unite to fend off the danger threatening their mother planet.
Best wishes for a happy and peaceful new year for all the people of the world.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
The picture above is not of a laser show nor is it of spotlights pointed to the sky, it's one of a northland oddity. When the right conditions are present; a cold night, calm winds, ice crystals in the atmosphere cause every light source to shoot out a vertical beam into the sky.
Taken at 7:33PM CST/0133 GMT, Temp: 6.8 °F/-14.0 °C, Humidity: 79%, Wind: 8.1 mph/13.0 km/h
Friday, December 16, 2005
Mr. Za'atreh comes back with an analysis about the recent Fateh elections this time. The peculiar thing about both of these analyses, and the reason for this post is the signature of Za'atreh at the end of both articles, in the analysis about Zarqawi and the Amman explosions he's a Jordanian writer. In the analysis about the Fateh elections, he's a Palestinian writer.
Excluding the remote possibility that Al Jazeera has two Yaser Za'atrehs working for them, one Jordanian and one Palestinian, leads me to believe that the nationality of Mr. Za'atreh is chosen based on the story, and the affiliation that gives the story more credence is used. Quite shameful. My curiosity got the best of me and I did a search for Za'atreh on Al Jazeera's website, I checked the signature at the end of his articles, turns out he's only a Jordanian writer when he talks about Jordan or Zarqawi, all other articles about other issues, including Iraq, he's a Palestinian writer.
Technorati tags: Al Jazeera, Arab News, Arab Media
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
The MIT Media Lab unveiled a working prototype of their $100 laptop at WSIS in Tunis last week. The project has been in the works for a few years now and it's the brain child of Nicholas Negroponte, the lab's chairman and co-founder. I encourage those of you who are interested, to browse through the website especially the FAQ section.
Mr. Negroponte has done work in places including Cambodia where a pilot laptop program was done in 2001. The idea for the $100 laptop came to him, when he realized the possibility for profound change, to the better, such a thing could bring to the lives and future of children in developing countries.
The laptops are made rugged to withstand heavy use, they do away with hard drives and their moving parts and use flash memory for storage instead. A new display had to be developed to replace LCD display technology that is both expensive and power inefficient, best of all the laptops can be powered by a crank handle! The laptops can be configured in tablet PC setup as well. They have Wi-Fi connectivity, and 4 USB ports. They will run Linux operating system, and use Open Source software.
Initially, the laptops will be available to 6 countries that each needs to commit $100 million for a mass purchase of around 1 million units, the exact number will depend on the final production cost which can be slightly under/over $100. The lucky countries are Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Nigeria, and Thailand. Distribution is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2006 and then availability to other countries to come 6 months after that. The laptops are to be distributed to children just like textbooks, and the agreement with the participating countries insists that the children have ownership over the laptops rather than being given as loaners.
I really do hope Jordan jumps on this for the next batch of laptops when they will become available for smaller countries, it could be the best 50 or so million dollars Jordan ever spent.
Friday, November 18, 2005
Well obviously they're feeling the crunch, that's the only justification I see for issuing such a statement with a lame attempt to appease Jordanians by claiming the wedding wasn't a target. Now the other question is, how stupid do they think we, Jordanians, are?! They have such nerve to suggest that there was another target and the wedding was collateral damage, anyway that's beside the issue, as I said in the previous post, it was an attack against Jordan. Period.
The good news is that people's support matters a great deal to them, and their support is dwindling. I want to point to this Al Jazeera analysis in Arabic, published a few days ago titled "Jordan explosions.. their mistakes and their effects on Al Qaeda's path", the analysis is simply signed with Yaser Za'etreh, a Jordanian writer. The writer goes into a lengthy explanation about how the Amman attacks were a mistake, a political, religious, and media mistake. The article is written in a very pro-Al Qaeda tone that was painful to read, but the author mentions something that's interesting, when he talks about how the attacks were a media/PR and a security mistake because they announced the number of perpetrators and specifically mentioned one of them was a woman, which lead to the capture of the fourth would be bomber. The author goes on to say that because of this a strong Al Qaeda supporter asked Zarqawi to execute his spokesperson/media official and show the pictures of his execution on the web.
This is such a desperate attempt at damage control, while at the same time it's an attempt to destabilize the country and terrorize the people by asking them to stay away from hotels and embassies, it will not work. The Jordanian resilient response had its intended effect, as did their unity in saying No to Terrorism, and no to Zarqawi. I hope this will be the first of many blows to Al Qaeda, they cannot exist without the people's support, and more and more people are seeing the light.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
It's so hard to have a coherent thought, but I do want to try to make a few points.
Firstly, the media coverage. All you could hear on the US cable news networks (FOX, CNBC, CNN) was an attack on 3 US owned hotels in Amman, and how this is likely the result of Jordan being an ally to the US. I managed to catch a live feed from Al Arabiya and the report they kept running between their endless analyses and interviews started with: an attack on 3 hotels that are frequented by Israelis and other westerners. It pissed the hell out me!! I know it's naive to say this, but I wish that for once news networks would just state the facts without trying to spin the story one way or another. The story was Jordan being attacked, ownership of the hotels doesn't matter the least bit! And they even got that part wrong, check out Natasha's post about that. Al Arabiya in that stupid report they played over and over sounded like it's a justification, heck these hotels are frequented by Israelis, bomb them!
While I'm on the issue of justification, the other point I want to make is about a segment of the Jordanian society that, outwardly or inwardly, supported such actions when they took place around us. When it happened to the west, serves them right for what they did to our brethren in Palestine and Iraq. When it's happening in Iraq, that's legitimate resistance against occupation. Now that it sadly hit home I just pray that they'd see the light and realize that terror is NEVER a method, it's never the answer. I won't hold my breath for that though, I know that sadly many of them will echo similar rhetoric to that of Al Arabiya (Israelis and westerners), and Al Zarqawi (infidels). I just hope that every Jordanian will take a look deep down inside and realize what truly matters. Hopefully this will clip any wings extremist had in Jordan.
What really worries me is that we've been through this drill before, we've seen how events cascade after something like this. Look at the September 11 2001 events in the US, the ramifications of that day are still unfolding. I pray that Jordan won't be too adversely affected by what happened yesterday. I pray that Jordan will still be a free, open, and welcoming country. I pray that the economy will continue to grow to the boom that we all were anticipating.
Finally I want to allude to the awesome job that follow planeteers (names gathered from various websites: Haitham, Issam, Natasha, and Roba) did keeping the world updated on the Global Voices website, thank you guys. I'd also like to acknowledge all JP bloggers, reading your posts made me feel a little closer to home in these hard times. I'm proud to be a part of JP.
May God have mercy on those lost, help those who are suffering, and watch over our beloved Jordan.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Many Muslims do not fully understand the ramifications of accepting a foreign nationality, either that or they choose to ignore them completely. It's a given that situations in their home countries are less than favorable, but they need to look beyond the immediate improvements to their circumstances, they need to look at the responsibilities that are expected from them with their new affiliations. Taking America as an example once more, look at World War II and how the US military included young men from different ethnicities, many were 1st and 2nd generation immigrants, they fought and sacrificed together for their country. Now Muslim American parents have trouble registering their sons in the required Military Selective Service System, which will be used if there is to be a draft, the military is currently a volunteer force. That's very hypocritical, because when they became citizens they've pledged their allegiance to the US. The issue of Muslims in the military came to surface soon after the September 11th 2001 events.
So what is it that the rioters in France are after? Is it truly an issue of raging against inequality and isolation? Or is it the fact that the rioters simply don't belong to a country that is so different from their belief system? These issues were always there, but with the current rise of extremist Islam and renewed confrontation with the west, the issues surfaced in the violent matter that has been seen on the streets of France for the past couple of weeks. Hopefully that's not a hint of what's to come.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Amidst increased fears of the possible breakout of a bird flu pandemic, it was only a matter of time before someone's capitalistic instincts kicked in to attempt and make the most amount of money out of the whole ordeal.
When news first came out about the disease, it was pointed out that a single drug, Tamiflu produced by the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche, can be effective in fighting the flu. If you check the date on the Tamiflu link above, you can see that information about the drug's effectiveness was known since early last year. When worries about the disease escalated this fall, many reports came out about the lack of readiness of many countries, including the US, in terms of appropriate stockpiles of the known effective drug to fight the flu. Roche was still the only man
ufacturer and the news simply said that they cannot keep up with the large demand for the drug, that countries were on a waiting list, and the drug would be delivered on a first come first served basis.
Now kudos to Roche for owning Tamiflu, I'm all for them making large profits from their products, heck I even wish I would've bought some Roche stocks back in early 2004... but you need to supply enough drugs for the demand! It's only now that Roche is in negotiations to license production of the drug by other companies. But Taiwan, in true East Asian disregard to patent laws, took matters into their own hands and decided to copy the drug. "Taiwan officials said they had applied for the right to copy the drug - but the priority was to protect the public." I say, good for them.
The story won't be complete without mentioning the eBay connection, yes you've guessed it listings started to appear on ebay for selling the drug, it's the wonderful world we live in.
And to close on an even grimmer note, Tamiflu is not an answer-all drug for the flu, there have been reported cases of the virus resisting the drug.
Monday, October 17, 2005
What Dreams May Come is a movie that I first saw about 6 months ago, and again tonight. All you ever wanted to know about life, death, the afterlife, family, and of course love. The film has a couple of things working against it, but overall it's a stunning visual feast of wild imagined ingenuity. If you're in the mood for a different film, I highly recommend it.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
I never really was that good and it's been ages since I've played regularly, think back to the early 90s in Jordan. But I did play a few games maybe 6 or 7 years ago with a follow graduate student, she'd let me see a slither of hope of winning a game before going all ninja on me and beating me to submission, did I mention she was from Taiwan? So luck (or lack thereof) had me paired with the only Asian player in the tourney. Ever wonder why us, West Asians aren't as good as our continental neighbors to the East in sports like Ping Pong and martial arts?
So this post is in keeping with the Jordanian sports tradition of providing the excuse for losing before the match, and as always hadafna al mosharaka w al i7tikak lel khibrah! (our goal is participation for the experience).
Disclaimer: the soul intent of this post is humor, I'm aware of the racial stigma the post falls into, and I hold nothing but respect and intrigue for and in the diversity of human races.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Below are some pictures of Maplewood state park in Minnesota, you can find the full set on my flickr, enjoy :)
The results of the survey are interesting, of course the survey results speak more to the nature of a family who is a dedicated to a regular family dinner, rather than to the meal itself. Growing up in Jordan in the 80s, the family lunch (the main meal in Jordan) was considered something sacred, you'd only miss it if there were some extraordinary circumstances. People today are on such hectic schedules with working late, working multiple jobs, kids activities, that such an important daily event is often overlooked. This leads me to wonder, is the Jordanian family structure still as tightly knit as it used to be? Especially in the ever diminishing middle-class families.
Monday, October 10, 2005
| You are a |
You are best described as a:
Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test
Sunday, October 09, 2005
The moon whose crescent was so elusive while watched with so much anticipation last week, has been making brilliant yet quiet appearances every evening now. This is a shot of the moon Sunday evening, it's clearly a big moon looks like more than half a moon to the naked eye, which would mean that it's more likely that tomorrow is the 7th of Ramadan rather than the 6th. Big surprise, ISNA got it wrong..
The month is 1/4 done, and has taken a turn to the better for me, several Iftars with the family and homemade gatayef yesterday (notice the emphasis on food :)
What I'm about to say is probably one of the most overused statements, but man is time flying or what?!
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Maybe I'll write a more appropriate Ramadan post later in the month :) Happy Ramadan everyone.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
To all the tech savvy people who's this is old news for, I apologize :)
Monday, July 25, 2005
Saturday, July 23, 2005
Friday, July 22, 2005
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Last night's episode (it was actually a re-run) was to have a 33 year old Christian man live as a Muslim in Dearborn, Michigan known for being the largest Arab/Muslim community in the US. You can read more about the episode by visiting the 30 Days website and clicking on Episode Guide, then choosing Muslims and America. On the website you can read the episode's synopsis, character profiles, and see gallery images along with a short video clip. Now I'll leave things you can check on the website out of this post :) The subject, David, travels from West Virginia, moves in with a young Pakistani couple, grows a beard, and on some days, even dresses in traditional Pakistani attire. For 30 days, David follows Halal (Kosher) eating habits (no pork and no alcohol) and even observes the daily five prayers. He didn't actually pray but had to "roll out his prayer mat and be physically there for the duration of the prayer". He also went to the mosque during the congregate weekly prayer on Fridays. Now these things that David had to do are more than a lot of Muslims, including yours truly, actually do. But it really managed to give a much needed rare insight into the daily lives of Muslims.
Towards the end of the 30 day period, David appeared on a radio call-in show and answered questions about Muslims and their association with terrorism, he also tried to get people to sign a petition to stop legislation that would allow racial profiling. It was during these two events that David, and hopefully the viewers, got an understanding for the position that many Arabs and Muslims living in the states are in. The majority of the Arab/Muslim community are good American citizens, striving to live the American dream of prosperity while serving their country by excelling in their fields, and they certainly do not identify with the terrorist bunch.
As an Arab and a Muslim living in the US I've always felt a responsibility to reflect a true positive image (not a fake one) and to attempt to engage Americans and answer their questions and curiosities, not shy away into a cocoon. I believe this is the responsibility of every Arab and every Muslim living here, especially after 9/11 because dialogue and information are the best cure for guilt-by-association and the villainizing of a whole religion or race based on the acts of a few.
Edit (7/20 2:09PM):I've found more about this episode of 30 Days via blogger Palforce, here.
Palforce also provides a link to an Al Jazeera article about the same topic.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
was having a great time.
The weekend after that, the Air Show came to town. Planes from old World War II propellers to state of the art fighter jets brought excitement to the little town's sky.
And like that wasn't enough excitement, this weekend the town had a street fair. Vendors from all around the country lined the old downtown streets showing their goods to the public, the turn out was excellent. Live music was playing and lots of good food was enjoyed.
Each of the last 3 weekends has been a true taste of Americana.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Monday, July 11, 2005
1. Lack of the traffic concept of lanes.. let's just say that sticking to a lane and following proper lane changing maneuvers is considered optional and quite rarely practiced.
2. IF proper laning exists, it will all go to hell at the first sign of a traffic light.. a 2 lane street would become a 3 or 4 lane intersection. Oh, and you can count on someone in the right most lane wanting to make a left turn, or someone in the left turn lane wanting to go through they're just stopping there because the queue was shorter than that in the through lanes.
3. Pedestrians can be found Anywhere on the roadway at any time. At least one kid will have a life or death race with you, attempting to cheat time-space principles and occupy the space that would naturally be your vehicle's with his own body.
4. You will be caught in a jam at least once on a roundabout and find yourself cursing out loud either some fellow driver, the roundabout itself, or any random thing that was pissing you off that day.
5. If you do get pissed off enough over the behavior of a fellow driver, and you follow the standard operating procedure of pissed-offness while driving in the US, you will be faced with one of 2 possible outcomes; you will learn/re-remember how the Arabic finger looks like, or someone will genuinely and whole heartedly attempt to beat you up.
6. Oh, you will get more use out of your horn in the 1 month vacation in Jordan than 2 years worth in Small Town USA.
7. The use of turn signals is optional.
I know I'm being very negative but there are some things to consider. One important issue is the heavily burdened road infrastructure in Jordan, there are simply too many vehicles for the existing streets capacity. It's by the grace of God, and the skill of Jordanian drivers that the accidents rate is not double or triple what it is, and that the whole system does not come to a total gridlock. In Amman, the Amaneh (Amman Municipality) does a great job with the tunnels and bridges to relieve traffic jams, however outside of Amman that effort is nonexistent. Another positive thing is an intensive traffic awareness campaign using signs on the streets and local media. Something that I really appreciate is that Jordanian drivers know how to use their hazard lights (Flasharat) and also hand signals! You don't see that much in the states. One last remark I'll make is that this summer I witnessed the return of the traffic policeman with the lightning rod hat! Those things were out of commission way back and it was a real treat seeing them again :) I'm attaching an old picture of one, too bad you can't see the whole rod.. but you get the idea :)
In Fall 2003 I remember my professor in a graduate class about office information systems asking if the students knew what a Blog is when we were discussing collaborative work. After a few seconds pause waiting for someone to speak up.. I provided a rather clumsy answer based on my understanding of a blog at the time, only to have a typical know-it-all, smart, experienced, in-his-mid-40's student speak up from the back of class with a proper definition.. and it was the fist time I knew blog stands for web log :) I kind of took issue with blogs.. I felt that they sort of crept and snuck on me as I consider myself to be semi-computer savvy. And I believed the media and technology that was in place at the time, such as good ole websites, discussion boards and forums, negated the need for this new kid on the block. Probably the real reason for this stance is the fact I was getting old :) change and newfangledness were getting harder for me to accept.
Fast forward to late 2004 someone very close to me started their own blog, that blog became part of Jordan Planet bloggers community which I quickly became addicted to reading every single post and comment published there, and occasionally adding a comment of my own. In May 2005 I signed up for a blogspot account, and after much contemplation this is my first official post. The blog will not have a set theme, it will contain observations on current happenings as well as random scribbles and thoughts. The blog needs a lot of work as I've done none whatsoever on it :) but at this point I just wanted to get it started I will be adding and fixing things up as I go along. Incase anyone's wondering, Doflah (or deflah/defleh in other dialects) is the Arabic word for Oleander :) an abundant shrub in my home country, Jordan.