Thursday, October 18, 2007

I Love Radiohead

If you're into alternative music do yourself a favor and check Radiohead out. If you visit the website don't expect a "normal" band website, the website name, content, and even url change periodically. I only became aware of Radiohead, wikipediad, through their hit first released single Creep, sampled. But I thankfully was able to look beyond Creep, I never did get why idiotic rock radio stations couldn't though, it's the only Radiohead song played as if they're a one hit wonder, which is absolutely not the case.

Anyway, back to the point of this post, yes, there's a point, Radiohead have just released their new album. At the time nearing the album completion the band wasn't affiliated with any record label, there were a lot of speculation about how the band would market the new release. Everyone knows that record labels get most of the money out of album sales, the artists usually make their money from concerts and merchandise sales. Radiohead is sticking it to the man and selling their record themselves, and I applaud them for it. But wait, it gets better, scroll down to see how.

New Record
New Record

Buying Options
Buying Options


Price for Download?

Up to You

Really Up to You
Really Up to You!!!

*No pixels were hurt in the making of this post.
**This post benefits greatly from pressing the Ctrl or Shift buttons while clicking links (or whatever you Mac crazies equivalent buttons are).

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Friday, October 12, 2007

How Saudi Arabia Screwed ISNA: The Never Ending Ramadan and Eid Saga

Today was Eid El Fitr in much of the Islamic and Arabic world, however, Muslims in North America following the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) have to wait until tomorrow to celebrate the Eid.

This really isn't anything new, as Islamic countries never seem able to agree on anything including their calendar. This year though presents a whole new level of disparity. See, a couple of years ago ISNA made the rather forward thinking decision of establishing the Islamic lunar calendar based on astronomical calculations, the way they adopted it though was rather retarded, where they decided to use the calculation to establish whether or not the new moon can be seen with the naked eye rather than whether the new moon is born. Regardless, it was a step forward where the calendar for the year was pre-announced and everyone knew when Ramadan and the Eids are and could plan accordingly. This year ISNA sought to pursue unity with the equivalent body in Europe, where they jointly agreed to follow the same calculation practice I described above, but with the twist of doing the calculations based on whether the new moon will be seen in Mecca.

Based on the new decision, the calendar was changed, and the Eid was pushed back from Friday to Saturday, because the new moon could not be sighted in Mecca. So what does Saudi Arabia do? They go and announce that several trusted witnesses have seen the impossible-to-see new moon in several areas of the kingdom, and hence Eid is on Friday.

The one extra day really isn't that big of a deal for someone who fasted 29. But I remember growing up the 29 day Ramadan was always a nice surprise of sorts, if memory serves me right, based on ISNA we haven't had a 29 day Ramadan since 1998.

It's just the principle of it that bugs me!! Happy Eid.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Prince Hassan on the Middle East

A very interesting conversation with Prince Hassan published on the Time Middle East blog. The Prince talks about the current affairs in which he describes the region as a black hole, and his thoughts on how to avoid yet another future disaster. A very good read.

Some excerpts:

Why a “black hole”?

It has no institutional structure. It has no systemic representation. Anywhere you go in this part of the world, corruption is the first thing that comes to peoples’ minds. What I see is that there was a time when public opinion mattered in this part of the world. Remember, What does the street think? They were hungry, they were deprived, they were marginalized. But they would demonstrate and express their views. Now, public opinion since the Global War on Terrorism, has been contained by the polarity of the confrontation between the state security services and the militants.

Is the Middle East’s problem too much religion?

Separation of church and state is crucial, if you put it in the right terminology. In this region, you need to elevate a moral authority of Jews, Christians and Muslims above politics.

Here's the link to the full article again.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Dick Cheney, the Genious

Dick Cheney in a 1994 post first Iraq war interview displays astonishing foresight and states why occupying Iraq would be a wrong move.

Transcript, via Editor & Publisher:
Q: Do you think the U.S., or U.N. forces, should have moved into Baghdad?

A: No.

Q: Why not?

A: Because if we'd gone to Baghdad we would have been all alone. There wouldn't have been anybody else with us. There would have been a U.S. occupation of Iraq. None of the Arab forces that were willing to fight with us in Kuwait were willing to invade Iraq.

Once you got to Iraq and took it over, took down Saddam Hussein's government, then what are you going to put in its place? That's a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq, you could very easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off: part of it, the Syrians would like to have to the west, part of it -- eastern Iraq -- the Iranians would like to claim, they fought over it for eight years. In the north you've got the Kurds, and if the Kurds spin loose and join with the Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey.

It's a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq.

The other thing was casualties. Everyone was impressed with the fact we were able to do our job with as few casualties as we had. But for the 146 Americans killed in action, and for their families -- it wasn't a cheap war. And the question for the president, in terms of whether or not we went on to Baghdad, took additional casualties in an effort to get Saddam Hussein, was how many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth?

Our judgment was, not very many, and I think we got it right.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

مشكلة تلوث، هدر، وطخ المياه

على لسان محمد ابوطه رئيس لجنة المياه بنقابة المهندسين الذي قال في تعليق لجريدة
الدستور الصادرة اليوم على موضوع تلوث المياه " أنا أضع اللوم الكبير على سكان المنطقة، السبب الحقيقي وراء انتشار ظاهرة تلوث المياه في هذه المنطقة يعود إلى التصرف الخاطئ من قبل البعض، توقعاتي الشخصية أن ممارسات بعض المواطنين بإطلاق الرصاص باتجاه الأنابيب لتشرب المواشي ومثل هذا التصرف يؤدي إلى تلوث المياه ، وأعود وأكرر لابد من ابتعاد السكان عن التصرفات الخاطئ

بطء الحكومة وتخبطها في مواجهة المشكلة أمر غير مقبول.
لكن التصرف اللذي أشار اليه المسؤول ايضاً غير مقبول، وهو تصرف يمارس بالمنطقة منذ فترة طويلة، واذا مش مصدقني اسأل اي شخص يعيش او يعمل هناك. لدي صديق كان يعمل معلم في المنطقة في نهاية العقد الماضي وكان يلحظ ان انبوب المياه المطخوخ كان يبقي ينوفر (فعل مضارع من نافوره) لمدة اسابيع.
لا احد يستطيع ان يجزم بسبب التلوث بعد، لكن هدر المئات وربما الاف الامتار المكعبة من مياه الشرب بسبب اطلاق النار على انابيب المياة كان يمكن ان يتفادا من خلال تخصيص برك لسقي المواشي، واذا برك السقي امر لايمكن تحصيله المشكلة كلها كان يمكن تنحل بحنفيه وبربيش مي!!
سوء تصرف وعدم مسؤولية متابادلة.

رسم توضيحي، كلفة توفير المياه مجاناً كانت ستكون اقل بكثير من كلفة اصلاح الانبوب والهدر المائي المفرط

Friday, June 08, 2007

Seadragon and Photosynth

Two amazing imaging software endeavors at Microsoft.

Seadragon is a tool for super smooth navigation of images.
Photosynth is a tool for the creation of a global photographic consciousness.

Check out a video demo here, mind blowing!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

رمز الرجولة

عشان هيك حرية التعبير مش دائماً اشي كويس، والقمع فش احلى منّه.
احسن جزء الفهمان اللي بحكي ما فيها اشي ولو خطر عاللأرواح ...

Friday, February 16, 2007

A Taste of Local and National Politics

All you democracy deprived people in the Middle East, know that democracy has a dark side. Check out this piece of legislation that has recently made it through the North Dakota congress, here are some notable highlights:

Bill OKs shooting burglars
By Dale Wetzel, Associated Press
Published Tuesday, February 13, 2007

BISMARCK – Opposition from prosecutors and law enforcement officers could not derail legislation giving North Dakotans the right to shoot a burglar or carjacker with protection from criminal prosecution or civil lawsuits if they do.

“This bill is simply a citizen’s version of homeland security,” said Representive Ron Carlisle, Republican-Bismarck.

The measure, which the National Rifle Association (NRA) is promoting in other states, has drawn fierce resistance from police and county prosecutors who say North Dakotans already have the right to defend themselves in their homes and workplaces.

Rep. Al Carlson, Republican-Fargo, said homeowners should not be obliged to try to find out whether a burglar is a potential danger before they defend themselves. I’d tell you what would happen in my house. I would shoot that person, and I would shoot them enough times that I knew he wasn’t going to do any danger to me, or my family,” Carlson said. “He’d leak like a watering can when I was done with him.”

One of the many reasons to love living in a Red State, Yee Haa!
This isn't, by far, the only display of democratic absurdity. Anyone following the current hotly debated issue in the US congress, that of the non-biding resolution opposing Bush's troop surge plan, can be treated to gems from both sides of the isle... again some lowlights:

Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO): Could you picture Davy Crockett at the Alamo looking at his Blackberry getting a message from Congress? Davy Crockett, we support you. The only thing is we are not going to send any troops. I’m sure that would really be impressive to Davy Crockett.
Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL): In the South, we have a wonderful saying and it goes like this: Get ‘er done. Our soldiers want to get it done and come home, and our President wants the same thing, and this Congress should demand the exact same thing. Let’s get out there and get ‘er done.
Rep. Fortenberry (R-NB): Madam Speaker, when I left home this week for Washington, my 6-year-old Kathryn became very sad. See, she has big, beautiful brown eyes and they welled up with tears at the prospect of my leaving again for Washington. And she said to me, Daddy, why do you have to be a Congressman?
Rep. Keller (R-FL): Let me give you an analogy. Imagine your next-door neighbor refuses to mow his lawn and the weeds are all the way up to his waist. You decide you are going to mow his lawn for him every single week. The neighbor never says thank you, he hates you, and sometimes he takes out a gun and shoots at you.

And people say C-SPAN isn't entertaining!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

An answer to an American question

A question that has been prominent in American media and US political speech in the last few years has been, "Why do they [terrorists] hate us?". Which is a very valid question, because to fight terrorism you should know its roots and causes and start the fight there. But the problem is that these politicians and analysts have stopped short of seeking (or admitting) the real answer.

The following paragraph is an excerpt from an interview with Michael Scheuer, a very colorful person who's a 22-year CIA veteran that served as the Chief of Alec Station, the Osama bin Laden Unit at the Counterterrorist Center.

Q: Where does the major danger lie now?

A: For America? That we could very well be defeated oversees and at home. And the source of it is clearly that we have yet to find a politician in either party who's willing to tell the American people the truth. We continue to be harangued by President Bush and Senator Clinton and former President Clinton and Senator McCain about how Americans must fight this war because we're being attacked because we have freedoms and liberties and women in the workplace and a whole list of ephemera that have nothing to do with this war at all.

We're being attacked, Britain is being attacked, our allies are being attacked because we've installed and backed and implemented a set of policies in the Middle East for the last 30 years or more. And we're being attacked because of what we do, not because of who we are. And by refusing to talk about that, I'm afraid the American people, at least, don't have a good idea of just how dangerous the threat is that we face.

The interview was part of PBS' program Frontline, the episode was titled The Cell Next Door. It talks about an alleged terrorist cell in Toronto that was uncovered, its members arrested and are awaiting trial thanks to information from a self-described Muslim fundamentalist, dubbed the Radical Informant. Quite interesting. But I digress.

To fight terrorism one must eliminate the conditions that breed it, that might be a process that will take some time, and it certainly will not be an awe-inspiring show of force that some want it to be, but it's the only way real and lasting results can be achieved. The US needs to rethink its foreign policy and address two particularly fundamental issues; the injustice the Palestinians are subjected to, and the US support of the tyrannical Arab regimes.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

He Pulled What Out of Her?!!

K#$ OKHT EL TAKHALOF (initial reaction, had to be said).

But here's what LBC has to say about the show this was on:

تقدّم الفضائية اللبنانية برنامجا جديدا يهمّ المشاهد العربي، ويحيط بجوانب
حياته الإجتماعية والمعيشية والإقتصادية كافة بعنوان عيشوا معنا
عيشوا معنابرنامج سعودي خليجي يتضمّن فقرات يومية منوّعة، برنامج حواري مباشر
يناقش القضايا الإجتماعية والشبابية الحسّاسة في السعودية والخليج، من خلال تقارير ميدانية، وأراء من الشارع العربي وضيوف واتصالات

I don't know what to say.. maybe I'm going about this the wrong way, I should be happy that there's a show to discuss such important "sensitive social issues". Apparently, issues such as child abuse and molestation don't qualify.

We live in the dark ages, what I can't get over is maybe this is acceptable in a remote Saudi village in the middle of nowhere because enlightenment might've not reached people there yet. But to have such a person on TV, allowing him to broadcast such filth, unchallenged, unchecked, and of all places on a hip channel that brought us such advances as Star Academy... Allah be praised.