Thursday, May 18, 2006

Eve's Market

I tuned in to the JRTV website last Thursday to see first hand the confessions of alleged Hamas members on the 8 o'clock news cast, and at the end of the cast there was a story about a new market in Mafraq, Jordan. What makes this market special is that it's available exclusively to females, see an Alghad article about it. All the shops in the market are run by women, men are not allowed into the market and those men who insist on accompanying a woman until she gets to the "safety" of Eve's Market, will have to wait outside the market in a room clearly marked with a sign that says Men's Rest Area.

Those interviewed for the story, both men and women, expressed their support for the market and stated that it's a great idea for our conservative society. Now I grew up in Irbid, which is a very conservative society and I'd like to make two notes. Firstly, I find this idea to be too extreme, what harm can come from some interaction between males and females in a place like a market? I'm aware that females are often subjected to comments that are unpleasant in nature to say the least, but you do not solve this problem by further separation. All the separation does is make the interactions even more awkward in the future, because the scene of a woman in a market that is not designated as for women only, will be seen as something out of place. A healthy level of gender integration can go a long way. Take our educational system as an example, public schools are gender segregated, and more often than not when teenagers start school on our co-ed colleges they've had very little contact with people of the opposite gender outside their family circle. That led to very awkward situations that I as a proud public school graduate, have witnessed first hand, things that would make you go what was s/he thinking?!

The other note I want to make is on a topic that has been on the minds, and blogs, of many Jordanians, the issue of the huge economical and social differences between Amman and the rest of the Kingdom. I can't imagine an idea like Eve's Market flying in Amman, I remember an Amr Diab concert in The Orthodox Club in Amman circa 1994, I was 17 at the time, and when I saw guys and girls greeting each other with kisses on the cheek I thought that I was on a different planet rather than a different city. The Ammanite society has gotten much more liberal since 1994, while the rest of Jordan is where it has been for the last 30 years for the most part. It's normal for any country to have differences between its people and regions, but I wonder how healthy is it for the differences to be so stark in a country so small?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Tool: The Band


If you're not familiar with the band Tool, allow me to introduce you to one of the greatest rock bands of our time, if you're a Tool fan, let's rejoice in the release of their album 10,000 Days. Tool's fourth offering that came 5 years after their masterpiece Lateralus, which led some people to call them "The slowest tempoed Progressive band ever!" especially with the fact that Lateralus followed their second album Ænima after another 5 year hiatus. (Follow the album links for track samples, for Tool virgins I suggest starting with Schism off Lateralus, and Eulogy from AEnema, and from their first full length album Undertow, check out Sober).

To say it was well worth the wait is an understatement, I've been listening extensively to the album for about a week now, all I can say is MIND BLOWING. Tool's music is the high intensity type that grabs hold of your very being and shakes you to the core, the gripping music is accompanied by a powerful message that explores the human psyche and tackles controversial issues such as organized religion. This album delivers big time on both of these fronts, the title of the album 10,000 Days is in reference to the 27 years that Maynard James Keenan(Tool's front man)'s mother spent in a wheelchair before passing away,
10000 days in the fire is long enough.
You're going home...

You're the only one who can hold your head up high,
Shake your fist at the gates saying,
"I have come home now!"

Fetch me the spirit, the son and the father,
Tell them their pillar of faith has ascended.

I'll probably revisit Tool and the 10,000 Days album in other posts, but I want to share some quick excerpts about the album, and tell anyone who enjoys rock music that this as good as rock gets, buy the CD.

Kelefa Sanneh in a NY Times article said:
"..."10,000 Days" is full of grand, heavy, slightly mysterious progressive rock."

"Certainly "10,000 Days" evokes a bygone time when musicians expected listeners to swallow their albums whole, and in order"

"So "10,000 Days" (Volcano/Zomba/Sony BMG) is purely a CD, though it's a pretty elaborate one. Along with those 77 minutes of music, you get a wraparound hardcover case; the booklet is printed stereoscopically, with lenses built into the cover."

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Spring pictures

Thought I'd share some pictures from last weekend's biking trip to Itasca State Park in Minnesota, 32,000 acres or 130 squared km of gorgeous nature that includes more than a 100 lakes and the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

The spring, green pictures, to go with the blog's new colors. It was time for the winter blues to go. Banner designed by a person much more artsy than myself, thanks :)

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Faith issues

I came upon some sort of a news report while channel surfing last night, it talked about how the American Embassy building in Tehran is being used as a recruiting station for suicide bombers. It turned out that the report was for The 700 Club, Wikipedia'd, when the report ended they cut to the reporter back in the studio stateside with Pat Robertson where the two had the most interesting and "informing" exchange.

The reporter mentioned that Iran's president Ahmadinejad believed that The Mahdi's return to Qom is imminent, and that the right conditions for his return call for the world to be in chaos, which according to them explains Iran's nuclear ambitions. Robertson's reaction was to call Ahmadinejad a nut, a statement that I've personally uttered more than once. The idea of a figure that existed some 2000 years ago returning to Earth from a well, to lead the forces of Good in a great battle against Evil, and eventually bringing peace to the world? I mean COME ON.. a well? Have you said, for example, this figure will be returning from Heaven into the fields of Armageddon... oh wait, Mr. Robertson, you're also a nut.

I'm not aiming to favor one story over the other, but to point out an important issue that is a requirement and a major flaw in all the religions I'm familiar with, it's the issue of blind belief that calls upon the followers of a religion to believe everything the religion preaches as the absolute truth, and to reject everything preached by other religions, even in such a case where the two stories are so ridiculously similar. I strongly believe that absolutes are very rare; there is no absolute truth, love, hate, etc. And I said "very rare" and not nonexistent because that would've been too absolute a statement.

Another very informative piece of information that the 700 Club provided was about the black Hatta, or traditional Arab head dress that comes in the black and white configuration, now associated with Palestine. But that's a story for another post.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Digital activism

I'll admit that I've never read the Egyptian blogger Alaa until I heard about the story of his and other bloggers imprisonment by the Egyptian authorities. But the story is all too familiar, and everyone in the region personally knows someone who went through something of a similar nature. So everyone should speak out against this injustice, this is my Egypt Google bomb for Alaa.

Please add your own bomb.

Tags: Egypt

Friday, May 05, 2006

How to give yourself a heart attack

Caution, not for the weak of heart, all puns intended. Follow these steps:

1. stay late at work, make sure you’re in a quiet office with all lights turned off. An office can be replaced by any dark quiet place, but the results may vary.
2. make sure your computer speakers are turned on and the volume is fairly high.
3. open

God damn... that was a good scare!