Monthly Archives: March 2011

Food, Culture and War

Question I

When I saw these pictures of the “kill team” who went on a shooting spree, killing at least four unarmed civilian Afghans, mutilating several of the corpses and chronicle their savage killing by taking scores of photos I was so enraged. I wanted to vent out loud. I wanted to analyze and condemn the American soldiers’ violence behavior. I wanted to call it an ethnic or a religious cleansing or whatever an angry person would say out of disbelieves. But then I watched some YouTube videos, that I wish I have not saw,  of people of the same race, religion, language, and same everything kill their own countrymen in a cold blood. What is happening in Libya and Syria is far more inhumane and cruel than what those American soldiers are doing to people of different race, religion, language and culture.

If group killing is not based on ethnic or religion cleansing then what is the purpose of this irrational killing of unarmed people?

Question II

During the British colonization in Africa, an English lieutenant accompanied with his soldiers entered a village of cannibals and asked to meet with the chief. When they meet the lieutenant commanded the chief to surrender but he noticed a rejection and some kind of hostility from the chief and the villagers. To look more convincing of his request, the lieutenant told the chief that his soldiers brutally killed all the people in the neighboring village. The chief reaction was something unexpected and out of this world. He said surprised “did you eat them all?”

The question now is who are more evil people who kill for land or those who kill for food?

Question III

This question comes from one of my favorite TV personality, Anthony Bourdain. His show, No Reservation, is not just about travel and food it is about culture. If you don’t watch this show then start watching it you will not regret it. Anyway, when he visited Laos he ate with a family and had this to say:

I think Americans, every American, should see the results of war.

You know, it’s not a movie…

Well, what do you say to this?

What do you talk about with a guy who lost his arm, his leg, his self-image, his livelihood, his pride to a bomb that your country dropped over 30 years ago?

“Sorry about the limbs”? “Pass the fish”?

Answer

I believe that evil has no race or religion but I came to conclusion that man is evil.

 

Peace

عيب عليكم يا أردنيين

شفت فيديو على موقع حبر خلاني عصبت ونرفزت بطريقه مش طبيعيه. شفت رجال أردنيين كنت مفكر انه عاداتهم من عاداتي وتقاليدهم من تقاليدي. بس لما حكوا فتحت ثمي لأنه هاذا اللي بصيرعادة لما تسمع أو تشوف شيء صعب تصديقه. كيف رجال من أبناء بلدي بسمحوا لحالهم ينزلوا لمستوى من الوقاحه بهذا الشكل؟ الفيديو فيه مسبات مخزيه لأقصى درجه.ـ

في أمريكا في غرف تغيير الملابس بصالات الألعاب الرجال بشلحوا قدام بعض زق لأنه ما في اشي عيب عندهم. ولما أقول زق يعني كما ولدتهم أمهاتهم.  الواحد فيهم بشلح ملط وبمشي يتمختر لغرف الشّور بدون ما يستر عورته ببشكير. حتى بعض غرف الشور بتكون عباره عن غرفه كبير مفتوحه وفيها دوشات بس، لا أبواب ولا ستائر. هم هيك تربوا وتعودوا. مع ذلك ما سمعت حد فيهم بسب بشكل بذيئ وبالطريقه الجماعيه المخزيه زي ما عملوا رجال بلدي اللي الواحد فيهم عنده شنب كثافة الشعر فيه اكثر من شعر راسي ويمكن يذبح أخته اذا شافها طلعت من البيت بدون إشار (حجاب). وين المرؤه ووين الرجوله لما الواحد يسب مسبات الواحد بستحي يسمعها مش يحكيها بس مع العلم انهم كانوا عارفين انه في نساء بالمكان.ـ

حتى أنه موقع حبر اضطر شاكرا ان يضع تنويها (تنويه: يحتوي الفيديو التالي على هتافات خادشة للحياء) من قسوة الشتائم الجارحه. وحتى يخربوها بزياده احتفلوا لما الناس اللي حابه تطالب بالاصلاح ما قدرت تتصدى للحجاره اللي نازله على روسها وتتحمل تسمع مسبات وقحه زي هاي ولما عرفوا انه الواحد يمكن يموت اذا قال رأيه. حتى احتفالهم كان مخزي وكأنهم انتصروا في حرب على اعداء الوطن.ـ

أنا عارف انه في ناس ما حبت كلامي في المدرجه السابقه انه الديمقراطيه بكير عليها.  كيف بتتوقعوا من الأردنيين انهم ينتخبوا الرجل المناسب لاصلاح الوطن؟ ما دام انا ببنظر للشخص انه اردني او فلسطيني، اخوان او مش اخوان، شمالي او جنوبي  مش اردني وبس معناته في عنا مشكله. أنا ما بقول لازم نحل مشكلة العنصريه اللي موجوده عند بعض الناس قبل ما نقدر ننتخب هذا مش قصدي. انا بقول انه لازم نحل مشكلة عويصه جدا في مجتمعنا وهي تقبل الرأي الآخر دون استخدام العنف. هذا رأي وقد أكون مخطيء فيه واذا كان رأيك غير هيك اوعدك اني مش راح أراجد (تعني رمي بلغة اهل اربد) عليك حجار او اسب عليك او أطاوش معاك.ـ

كتبت بالعاميه لأني منرفز ومعصب. شيء مؤسف ومخجل جدا ما حدث في تاريخ 25 مارس (آذار).ـ

نسأل الله أن يديم علينا نعمة الأمن والأمان وأن يوحد قلوبنا الى ما فيه خير

Reform, yes but keep the matchstick away

I have been following the news about the #March24 demonstration, happening in Jordan, since yesterday. The people responsible for this demonstration are asking for a reform in the country which is something noble. It is the right for every FREE citizen to have an opinion and not punished for the sake of it. Unfortunately, there is another opposing group to the demonstrators who, naively, think that such demonstration is not patriotic. For this reason, they are mistakenly called “loyalists”. There is nothing loyal about vulgarly cussing people let alone throwing stones at them. By doing so they lost legitimacy. And since when loud patriotic songs go louder than the call of prayer (Athan) in Jordan?

The word “reform” is a positive word. Hence, we all like reform, who doesn’t? But before we ask how to achieve this reform we need to know what we want first. I strongly believe that demonstrators in Jordan should be clear with their demands. In Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya it is clear; to get rid of the regime. In Jordan, it is different. Most Jordanian citizens, as far as I know, are not against the monarchy and hence demands need to be clearer to everyone. I am not sure what this demonstration is exactly for. I know they want reform but what exactly they are asking for I am not so sure. For this reason in order for this reform to success they need to contact the local media and objectively list their demands.

As a Jordanian, I believe that the government is not the only one to be blamed for any political or economical failure. If this list in Wikipedia is authentic then since 1921 there was hardly any government that lasted more than two years. A period that is unrealistic for achieving any promises. As far as I know, these short lived governments are excused from their tasks or resigned upon the citizens’ disapproval of the government. Neither King Hussein nor King Abdullah of Jordan forced any of these governments to stay against the citizens’ will.

I believe that our biggest disappointment is our parliament which is elected by the citizens. Until we truly elect a parliament member that we believe is a good fit not because he or she is from our tribe we will never achieve the reform we are looking for.

Yes, we need more transparency in Jordan and we need to fix our economy today not tomorrow. But having a new government and a new parliament will fix nothing because I don’t think we are going to elect a better parliament this time just because we believe so. However, if we are talking about electing our government then the situation is different. Against all odds I think we are not ready yet for such responsibility. Yes, may be it is more appealing to elect our prime minister but we need a transition period. We first need to accept that Jordan is not defined only as a tribal country or only as one political party. Unfortunately, we are not educated enough to accept the opinion of others.

No one like it and no one like to talk about it but the fact is one matchstick can cause even a bigger gap between Easterners and Westerners residents of Jordan. We all know that when economy goes down racism goes up. And economy in Jordan now is very bad! It is imperative to every Jordanian to believe that asking for reform has nothing to do with East or West. Calling one group loyalists means that the other is not.  Thus we need to be clear what reform entitles. For those who started #March24 they need to set the record straight with their demands and not leave others to their speculations.

Dear Jordanian twitter community please think twice before you type those 140 characters or click on Retweet. Be proactive not active. Be wise and rationale not furious and ignorance. When a human life is at stake it is not about how many tweet you can send. Social media is to concur not diverge.

Dear Jordanian, please be wise!

Peace

Why do great nations fail?

I was shocked when I saw the ad below on TV this morning. Although, it seems it was on the internet since October 2010 but this is the first time I watch it. This type of propaganda exists in many countries but mainly in the Arab world. Name a problem in the Middle East and someone will tell you it is because of Israel or that Israel is behind it. Israel became our coat rack for our problems.

Enforcing fear among citizens to convince them to accept an idea is not something new. Although, this ad is not supported by the government but the message is the same. You must fear to act. In America, there are two major types of fear that I see  almost every day on TV; existential fear caused by American Muslims* and economical fear caused by the rise of China as an economic power.

* Tune in to watch CNN’s special, “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door.” Sunday March 27th, 8 pm ET.

 

UCLA Chancellor uses YouTube to Respond to a student’s video

Last week, a UCLA student’s YouTube video went viral with more than 4.5 million views. The video is very derogatory to Asians were she mocks them and claims they lack manners.

Obviously, the young female student lacks both manner and common sense and she is of course not alone. Rush Limbaugh mocked Japan quake refugees and the comedian Gilbert Gottfried was fired as Aflac duck after tweeting many bad Japanese tsunami jokes. Hatred exist everywhere, it is not something new. But the new thing here is that UCLA chancellor used YouTube to respond to the controversial student’s video [read more].

A UCLA campus spokesman said:

If it’s a response to something that was seen by people in a new-media format, it’s important that the response be made in a new-media format

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Asians in the Library – UCLA Girl going wild on Asians [watch video]

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[watch video]

I am not sure if the chancellor’s video respond was necessary or effective but I think it is something UCLA deserves a credit for. Using facial expressions and voice tone maybe more effective than just words.

Chancellors in American universities are hired by the university board of curators not appointed by the country’s ruler. They strive to do their best or else they will lose their job. They need to prove  themselves because after all they are employees.  Students very often receive emails from the chancellor to welcome them for the new semester, send condolence for catastrophes like in case of Japan’s tsunami and Haiti’s earthquake, or send greeting for holiday breaks. I have seen our chancellor many times WALKING on campus ALONE; no security or entourage. Although, we never spoke but when we see each other we smile and nod our heads.

During my four years in Yarmouk university I saw our chancellor ONCE. He was surrounded by a huge entourage. I think he left his office to attend national kind of event. In Jordanian universities, it is … [after 10 minutes of thinking I decided to self censor what I wrote]. If you live or studied in Jordan you already know the situation in the universities.

Japan’s Tsunami

There are few different numbers of how high were the waves caused by the recent Japanese tsunami. But I think the first picture below explains the devastation very well. When you see cars sit on top of three-story buildings you stop pondering how high the waves were. And when you see a jet pushed away you know how strong and powerful this tsunami was.

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[via  national post]

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[via  national post]

After you see big trucks pushed with the stream of water like a tree leaf swimming on a creek and cities leveled to the ground you become certain that this tsunami thing is something beyond humans’ comprehension. But then again you see a picture of a four-month-old baby who survived this out-of—human-control tsunami and ponder how this tiny fragile creature managed to endure and survive what made an entire city leveled to the ground.

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[via  national post]

Believe NOT what you see

Both CNN and NBC recently posted a story about how some hotels fake photos and reviews to lure tourists. CNN photos and NBC video are both worth checking out for those planning to take a vacation. The fact is not all beaches are equal. Everyone imagines how his perfect beach would be. Some beaches are good for families others are for partying and getting drunk. But also there are other beaches that are perfect for escaping the city noise and to enjoy the sound of waves and seagulls. Regardless of what is your dream beach, photos of beaches you see in brochures or in some travel websites may not depict the real beach you plan to visit in your next vacation.

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Both photos are for the same beach in the Dominica Republic [via CNN]

Here are some of my own bad experiences with advertisements:

Promotion girls

I once worked as a computer lab technician at one of the private Jordanian universities. The 25 computers in each of the labs were usually used by Computer Science and some Engineering students who are mostly male.  While at one of the labs a man came to me accompanied with a university staff and asked if he can shoot some pictures of the lab while students are working. He explained to me that he is making an advertisement for the university. I told him I don’t mind but he also needs to get the students permission. At that time there were may be less than ten male students working. After the students agreed the man went outside the lab and brought with him a flock of beautiful female students. The girls were seated between the male students and asked to pretend working on the computers. Not only the lab was almost full but the majority of the “supposedly” engineering students were beautiful female students. The pictures of course were to be used in the university brochures and website to promote our private university. Seeing beautiful girls working on computers is supposed to increase enrollment.

Adding more colors

Before going to Malaysia to do my masters I received some brochures from different Malaysian universities. A picture in one of the brochures captivated me and may be affected my decision to study at that university. The picture was for a very beautiful “blue” lake surrounded by a sea of green grass and big trees. The trees branches over the lake in a heavenly-like scene. To my disappointment the lake was not blue like the sky, it was brownish at the edge and greenish in the middle. Although there was a big lake but it is not like those magical lakes we see in the movies. Besides, the photo in the brochure didn’t mention that the lake is also a home for creepy lizards. So, during my three years in that university I almost never enjoyed sitting at the lake. Did I mention it is impossible to do that while fighting 100 plus mosquitos in a very hot and humid weather.

Killing a teenage boy dream

Of course it is not always that photos in brochures do not depict the reality. But sometime such photos are not for everyone to see and indulge. Here is why:

When I was 13 or 14 years old (some time in the 80s) my parents planned to spend the summer vacation in Europe. Eastern Europe to be specific since these countries were much cheaper than western European countries during the Communist era. Of course before the internet the only way to know about tourist places is to go to a travel agency and collect as much brochures as possible. So, my father one day brought with him all kind of brochures. After seeing pictures of topless women on beaches in countries like Poland, Hungary, and Yugoslavia my parents made their mind to go to Istanbul. Of course the decision killed the dream of a 14 year old teenager to see what no one at his age have seen before (things were not as accessible before the internet). Apparently, pictures of topless women on the beach are not necessarily a good way to promote beaches at least not to my parents.

 

To enjoy a place other factors should be considered as well beside the beautiful scene. Would you enjoy a place if the smell is bad or if it is too cold? Avoid Chicago in the winter, trust me. It is not called the windy city for nothing. There are beautiful beaches in Kuwait but never go there during summer when a temperature may reach 60 °C (140 °F).

أغلى ما نملك

كنت قد تعرفت عليه قبل الغربة. كانت معرفتي به لا تتعدى تحية مصحوبة بابتسامة لزوم المجاملة. وشاء القدر أن نلتقي ثانية في الغربة. ولكن في الغربة تبني صداقات قد لا يستطيع المرء العيش بدونها. فصديق الغربة يحل محل الأخ والقريب. ذات يوم إتصل بي وطلب لقائي في مكان نتحدث به لوحدنا. فهمت أن الموضوع خاص ولا يريد أحدا أخر في المكتب ان يسمع حديثنا. إتفقنا أن نلتقي في مطعم قريب من كليتنا والذي كانت تديره سيدة اسيوية مسلمة. كنت أتردد على هذا المطعم دائما للطافة هذه السيده وربما لأنها في احدى المرات ابدت إعجابها الشديد بالملكة رانيا وذلك عندما عرفت أني من الأردن. قالت لي أنها – أي الملكة – جميلة جدا وانها معجبة بأناقتها.ـ

كعادتي دوما وصلت عشرة دقائق مبكرا على موعدنا. كان المطعم كمطاعم الأردن الشعبية. طلبت شرابا باردا -وهو عبارة عن شوكولاته بالحليب مع مكعبات الثلج- فقد كان الجو حارا رطبا. ولأن المطعم كان شعبيا فلم يكن هناك مكيفات وانما مراوح في السقف قد تؤدي الى حدوث غثيان لمن يجلس تحتها اكثر من ساعه. ولكن لهذه المراوح كانت هناك فائدة اخرى غير تلطيف الجو وهي ابعاد الذباب. لم تمض دقائق بعد طلبي الشراب حتى جاء صديقي.ـ

عندما طلب صديقي لقائي كنت فرحا جدا فقبل يومين من لقائنا حصل خلاف بينه وبين صديق لنا اخر. كنت اتوقع انه أراد الحديث بخصوص الخلاف الدائر بينهما . اعتقدت أنها فرصة مناسبة حتى اسمع منه وجهة نظره عن  سبب الخلاف وأحاول اقناعه بالعدول عن رأيه حول صديقنا. أردت أن أقول له أن ما جرى ما هو إلا لحظة غضب عارمه كان قد انتصر فيها الشيطان مؤقتا وان الصداقة أجمل شيء في هذه الدنيا.ـ

عندما حضر الى المطعم بدى مختلفا،  فأنا لم أره هكذا من قبل، بدى حزينا جدا. سألته إن أراد أن يشرب شيئا فطلب  كشرابي. بدأت أنا الحديث بالسؤال عن الحال والدراسة والأمور المعتادة. بعد الانتهاء من احاديث حالة الطقس والدراسة واحاديث المجاملات كان هناك لحظة صمت. شعرت بعدم الارتياح فأنا لست من أولئك الذين يظهرون مشاعرهم وخصوصا ليست مشاعر الحزن والألم. لم أعلم ماذا يجب ان أقول او ماذا علي أن أفعل. بدى لي واضحا أنه لم يكن سبب لقائنا للحديث عن خلافه مع صديقنا. ولأني لست من اولئك الذين يقولون ما يفكرون به في لحظة كهذه، او بالأحرى لست من الذين يعرفون ما يقولون في لحظة كهذه، كنت اكسر لحظات الصمت برشفة من شرابي وابدي اعجابي بلذة الشراب وأثره على ترطيب فمي. كانت مجرد محاولات فاشله لوضع ابتسامه او حتى ليبدأ صديقي بالكلام دون ان ابدأ انا بسؤاله.ـ

بعد انتهاء فترة احاديث المجاملات وحديثي عن مدى امتناني لاكتشاف شراب الشكولاته بالحليب مع مكعبات الثلج كان هو مازال لم يشرب شيئا من كأسه. كان واضحا أنه مشغول في أمر ما. ولكنها لحظات بعد ذلك حتى كسر الصمت وقال “صارلنا خمس سنين بنحاول”.ـ

لم أفهم شيئا حينها. ما علاقة هذا الكلام بما يدور بينه وبين صديقنا. فجميعنا تعرفنا على بعض في الغربة والتي لم يمض عليها أكثر من ثلاث سنوات وقبل ان اسال اي سؤال أتبع كلامه وقال “أنا وساره” وكان هذا اسم زوجته. فزدادت غرابة الموقف فما الذي يحاولان أن يفعلاه منذ خمس سنوات.ـ

خلال استهجاني للموقف وعدم معرفة ما يدوروأنا الذي عادة “بفهمها وهي طايره” كما يقولون أو بالأحرى كما اعتقد. كنت حائرا من كلام صديقي، لا أعلم ان كان دوري في الحديث ام انه سوف يتابع حديثه. وخلال تسرعي في البحث عن ما يجب ان اقول كانت قد بدت عليه علامات الحزن والألم. بدى وكأنه أراد البكاء، كانت عيناه حمراوتين. عرفت من خلال متابعته لحديثه أنه وزوجته يحاولان منذ زواجهما والذي مضى عليه خمس سنوات انجاب طفل ولكن محاولاتهم باءت بالفشل. فقد ذكر لي أنه ذهب الى عدة أطباء وجميعهم قالوا له انه لا مشكلة في الانجاب.ـ

ربما حينها كنت قد شعرت بألمه من شدة ما كان واضحا عليه مدى الحزن. ولكني لم أعرف ماذا أفعل أو أقول له،  كنت مذهولا. ماذا عساني أن أقول في لحظة كهذه حتى أخفف عنه. لم أفهم حينها لماذا يخبرني بذلك. كنت انظر واستمع له اما هو فكان يحاول ان لا ينظر الي وهو يتحدث. كانت بالنسبة له لحظة ضعف لم يشأ ان يريها احد. بالنسبة له كانت هذه لحظة خنوع واستسلام.ـ

حينها لم امسك يده كما تفعل النساء حين يواسين صديقة لهم ولم اضع يدي على كتفه كما يفعل بعض الرجال. كنت في منتصف العشرينات حينها انظر الى الأحداث بعين مختلفة تماما عنها وانا الآن في نهاية العقد الثالث. أعتقد اني الآن سوف اضمه واقول له اعرف تمام ما تعني.ـ

غريبة هذه الدنيا. فهناك من لم يتزوج ويتمنى الزواج. وهناك من تزوج ويتمنى الطلاق. وهناك من لم ينجب ويتمنى لو ينجب. وهناك من انجب ويتمنى لو لم ينجب. هناك من لم يسافر ويتمنى لو يسافر. وهناك من سافر ويتمنى لو لم يسافر.ـ