Tuesday, November 22, 2005

$100 laptop, One Laptop per Child


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.
Simply genius.

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

Al Qaeda is desperate

Reading into the latest rediculus Al Zarqwi's audio recording Al-Zarqawi Threatens to Kill Jordan's King and Zarqawi: Amman bombs weren't aimed at Muslims, makes me wonder how stupid this "organization" really is? Did they actually expect the Jordanian reaction to be any different? To these senseless killings? To these attacks on Jordan's stability and well being? What the hell did they expect?

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

Amman, the day after...

It still hasn't been 24 hours since the attacks on Amman took place, but it feels like an eternity has passed.. after the initial shock, sad realization of the scope, painful details revealed, knowing how close it hit to family and loved ones, and gripping to every bit and piece of news.. it's just a day that I wouldn't wish on anyone.

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

Amman in the Heart


May God protect our Jordan and help those who were affected by these horrible events

Latest from Amman via Roba

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Are Muslims less susceptible to naturalization?

The rioting in France brought up an issue that I've often thought about, that of the lack of integration of Muslims into the western communities they migrate into. Looking at America as an example since the country was basically formed by immigrants, although there were some clashes between the different ethnicities, the country became a true melting pot. The ethnic groups maintained aspects of their home countries' identities, but all adopted an American identity and more importantly all had the country's best interest as their common goal, they truly embraced their new home as their new home.

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.