Monthly Archives: April 2013

Picture America: Freedom of Speech

In America, the president of the country is a government employee. Citizens can freely criticize him. Neither the government nor citizens who support the president can harm anyone who speaks against the president’s services or policies.

Car sticker “DEFEAT OBAMA”

When do Americans read newspapers?

An Arab friend of mine delivers one of the local daily newspapers. Here is a conversation that took a place one day around 5:30 pm after he was done with his route.

Me: I still don’t understand your business. Did you just deliver today’s newspapers or tomorrow’s?
Him: Today.
Me: Who reads newspapers after 5 pm?
Him: You still think of the Arab culture. There employees buy newspapers in the morning and read it at work.
Me: I see. I have never seen an American reads newspaper at work. And this makes sense now since you deliver newspapers after midnight during the weekends.

Of course not all American newspapers are delivered after noon but at least I know of one and I know why now.

American employees, in general, work from 8 am to 5 pm. If their productivity level is measured in hours, the majority of them have a productivity level of 8 hours a day. That is, from 8 am to 5 pm, except the lunch hour, they work very hard. Because they know they may lose their job any day if they slack. America is no place for slackers or lazy people.

In Jordan and many other Arab countries, the productivity of many employees is definitely way less than 8 hours a day. Unless, we make sure that we all work as hard as possible and do our best no Arab Spring or whatnot can help us advance and be among the industrial countries.

Early Happy International Workers’ Day!

p.s. International Workers’ Day or Labors’ Day as know in the U.S. is celebrated on May 1st. In the USA it is observed on the first Monday in September.

The etiquette of correcting others

I overheard the following conversation at our workplace:

Woman 1: I think I need a cleaning lady in the house.
Woman 2: If I have extra money I will definitely call a cleaning service.
Woman 1: I shouldn’t have said cleaning lady, it is probably sexist. I should have said cleaning service.

You have to admit how intelligent both women are. I am fortunate to be working in such an open minded environment.

This story reminds me of Prophet Muhammad’s grandsons, Al-Hassan and Al-Hussain. While both were performing Wudu’ they noticed an old man performing Wudu’ incorrectly. Because of their young age they thought it might be insulting to the old man to be corrected in public and may be out of respect to older people. They went to the old man and said, “My brother and I disagree over who amongst us performs wudu’ the best. Would you mind watching us make wudu’ and be the judge to see which one of us indeed performs wudu’ more correctly? Could you please correct us wherever we are wrong?” The man watched carefully trying to judge who is better. In the end he understood what was going on and said “By Allah, I did not know how to perform wudu’ before this. You have both taught me how to do it correctly.”

Knowledge is power. We should use this power for good. If we find someone wrong there is always a good way to correct this person. Insulting is not one of them. We are not supposed to think alike. Can you imagine if we all do? There is a reason God created us this way. We are not robots. One can really learn more from the mistakes of others.

How to correct a ‘Serial Error-Prone’?

Last week, our Computer Science Department hosted a guest speaker. The speaker is a Chief Cyber Security at one of the biggest laboratories in the nation.  His presentation was very interesting and useful. He told us a funny story that I am going to share with you. But it is not the story itself that I find worth sharing it is what he said at the end of the story.

So, one of the employees received an email with a web address, also known as a URL link. After he clicked on the link the institute ended up being off the grid for two weeks. They had to go off line because of the sensitivity of the research this big national institute is working on.

After two weeks of hard work making sure their data and network is secure they went online again. Of course before going online all employees were told not to click on URL links because it may be linked to a malware (malicious code). For extra security they edited URL addresses received via email by replacing “tt” with “xx” in http. So, when someone clicks on “hxxp://” it will show a broken link.

The speaker told us that new employees are trained about safety of using the internet and emails and how they should be cautious about email attachments and clicking on URL links. So, it was funny when he told us that the same person who caused the two weeks shut down of the internet in their organization did it again. The same person, received an email with a URL but since clicking on the link doesn’t work he copied the address and changed the “xx” to “tt”. Viola! Smart huh?

The audience laughed when the speaker called the person “Serial Clicker.” He said “we train our employees and send emails about not clicking on URL links but some people out there are serial clicker.”

I doubt the story is fully true but I think it might be based on an incident that happened in this organization or another institution. Regardless, I have to commend on our speaker’s ability not to make his audience bored.

Anyway, here is what he said that made me thinking. He said “I don’t think the ‘serial clicker’ is only to blame. We train people we tell them not to click on the links but they still do. There has to be something wrong with our training. Everyone knows that if you do the same thing you will get the same result.”

I find Americans, or to be more accurate,  I find some Americans to be very mature when it comes to admitting wrong doing or thinking out of the box. I might be wrong but in the short period I worked in Jordan I can’t say that I can imagine a Jordanian boss would say something similar to the quote above. The boss shares the blame even when he knows that the employee is very wrong.

One might say they should fire this stupid employee. If this story is true as it is told I am sure they did. But this speaker is thinking ahead. He knows they will always be people who will make the same mistake again and again even after one shows them the correct way to do it many times.

As a teacher I can relate to this. Many times, I find few students in my class repeat the same mistake again and again no matter how many times I say not to. People think and analyze differently so we have to be more creative in the way we teach or approach a dead end in a discussion.

So, the next time you find someone repeats the same mistake again and again and you do care about him maybe it is time for you to think of another approach or way to correct his behavior. According to the author of “buy.ology” warning labels on cigarette packs have no effect on suppressing the number of smokers.

“Warning labels on the sides, fronts, and backs of cigarette packs had no effect on suppressing the smokers’ cravings at all. Zero. In other words, all those gruesome photographs, government regulations, billions of dollars some 123 countries had invested in nonsmoking campaigns, all amounted, at the end of a day, to, well, a big waste of money.”  [NPR]

There are so many examples of the ineffective warning labels on cigarette packs. A very critical one is the way we try to solve the Arab World problems. We forgot the principle rule “if you do what you have always done you will get what you have always gotten.”  It is time to change but it should be done wisely.

مراجعة رواية قبل السفر

beforeleavingالأسبوع الماضي قرأت رواية “قبل السفر” للمدونة الأردنية علا عليوات. عندما سمعت عن الرواية لأول مرة لم أعر الأمر إنتباها لأني لست من محبي قراءة الروايات. ولكن مؤخراً حصلت على ايباد ووجدت انه من السهل شراء الكتب العربية وقراءتها على الجهاز، فكان ان اشتريت نسخة الكترونية من كتاب “قبل السفر” وذلك بعد ان سمعت الكثير عنه.

لم أكن أتوقع أن استمتع بقراءة الرواية بهذا الشكل. كان أسلوب الكاتبة سهلا سلسا ومشوقا. أكثر ما أعجبني في أسلوب الكتابة هو تقسيم الكتاب الى ستة عشر فصلا، كل فصل يصلح أن يكون قصة قصيرة. كل فصل أفرد لموضوع منفصل عن بقية الفصول ولكن جميعها تشتبك لسرد قصة أمل، الفتاة الأردنية التي ترغب بالسفر.

معظم المراجعات التي قرأتها عن الرواية أنها وصف للحياة في عمان. ولكن الكتاب يتعدى كونه قصة فتاة من عمان تريد البحث عن هويتها خارج بلدها. رواية “قبل السفر” هو قصة الأردن الدولة. من يقرأ الكتاب يلاحظ سردا لتفاصيل كثيرة هي في الحقيقة تاريخ الأردن وواقعه الحالي. من قصة أصول الأردنيين قديما الى لجوء أخوانه من دول الجوار حديثا. كذلك يجد القارئ سردا لكثير من الأحداث السياسية التي مرت وتمر بها الأردن.

ما من قارئ أردني خاصة وعربي عامة يقرأ قصة أمل الا ويلحظ أن هناك تشابها كبيرا في حياته إما مع أمل أو مع أحد من أفراد العائلة. فالأردن تكاد تخلو من عائلة ليس بها فرد مهاجر لأي سبب كان.

أمل او آمال كما يدعوها البعض تروي لنا قصتها قبل سفرها. تشاركتا في كل صغيرة وكبيرة تدور في خلدها وعن الأشخاص الذين قابلتهم قبل السفر. لكلٍ حكاية، تختصرها لنا آمال في بضع سطور او في بضع صفحات.  لبعضهم أحداث مؤلمه ولكن حديث آمال لا يخلو من الطرافات في العديد من المناسبات. واحده من هذه الطرافات هي حديث عمتها معها قبل سفرها:

“لا تقوليلي زي ولادي، فش حدا زي ولادك. أي نعم بحبكم زي ولادي، بس في الآخر كل واحد الحياة بتاخده ويلتهي بحاله وبعياله. مرات ببقى قاعدة لحالي بالدار ما بلاقي حالي غير صرت أبكي، بتصير المسكينة تسونامي -الخادمه السيريلانكيه-  تعبطني وتقولي “خلص ماما، خلص”، وبتصير تبكي معي المسخمة، حنونة هالتسونامي… ما هي الثانية راحوا ولادها في هذاك الاعصار أبصر شو اسمه… يا ويلي عليها وعليهم!”

سعدت جدا بقراءة الرواية وفخور بأن هذا العمل لكاتبة أردنية نأمل أن نقرأ لها المزيد.