You didn't forget Samir Ragab, did you? Well, he's finally starting to criticize Hosni Mubarak. Now I know that the path to democracy has started. Here's his harsh criticism:
اسمح لي أن أختلف معك ـ ربما للمرة الأولي منذ أن توليت قيادة هذا البلد عام 1981 ـ لأن إنجازاتك هي كتابك الذي حملته بيمينك ودونت في كل صفحة من صفحاته المضيئة بالعمل. والعلم. والاجتهاد. والتعب.. سجلاً حافلاً يشهد التاريخ بعظمته وروعته.
كيف تقدم برنامجاً انتخابياً.. والناس في عصرك لم يتمتعوا بالأمان والأمن. والاستقرار.. إلا وأنت معهم وهم معك.. طعامك طعامهم.. شرابهم شرابك.. مصيركما واحد.. وآمالكمـا مشـتركة.. إذا جاءهم يوماً من يحاول أن يقض مضاجعهم.. تكون أول من يبادر باجتثاث جذور الشر من أجل أن يعم الخير.. وأن يهنأ المجتمع.. صغيره قبل كبيره.. ومعارضه قبل مؤيده.. وفقيره قبل ثريه
بقلم: سمير رجب
Here's the translation for those who don't know what criticism means.
I say to President Mubarak today:
Allow me to disagree with you, maybe for the first time since you took responsibility to lead this country in 1981, because your achievements is your book that you held with your right hand, [b]logging in every page of its pages that is shinning with knowledge, hard work, and effort, a record that history will witness its greatness and awesomeness.
How can you provide an elections campaign program, and people in your era did not enjoy safety, security, and stability, except with you being with them and they with you.. your food is their food.. their drink is your drink.. one destiny for both of you.. shared hopes.. If someone tries to disrupt their peace of mind, you are the first to dismantle the roots of evil in order for goodness to spread.. and for the society to become joyous.. its weak before its powerful.. and its opposition before its allies.. and its poor before its rich.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
You didn't forget Samir Ragab, did you? Well, he's finally starting to criticize Hosni Mubarak. Now I know that the path to democracy has started. Here's his harsh criticism:
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Hosni's sitcom is actually pretty entertaining. I watched snapshots of the second episode last night, and it wasn't bad. Full of wrong and misleading information about the October war, but it wasn't bad still. Its definetely a shift, having the interviews so casual. They tried so hard actually, and it showed. Was pretty funny. I'm sure it will have the desired effect on many people however. Yesterday's episode was particularly interesting because it was the first time to mention the Deversoir gap so bluntly on an Egyptian public media. Other than the annoying attempts to show that the war was not possible without Hosni Mubarak and his air force. Claiming that the solution to finish off the Israeli gap and presence on the west side of the canal was to retreat is a blatant twist of facts. The solution proposed cannot be considered a retreat in any way. The solution to beat the gap was to take back a single (one) brigade west of the canal to fight the few tanks that started the infiltration. This is not a retreat, this is not armies pulling back, this is not air defence operators abandoning their posts. Give me a break Mr. President, enough lies. Like Saad ElShazly says (who proposed this solution at the beginning of the gap and was let go mostly because of it), this is war, war is dynamic, you have to expect to maneuver your forces, and handle unexpected situations. What was Sadat's response to that solution, "not a single Egyptian soldier will take a step back!" A great military leader indeed!!
I will give Hosni credit for the role of the air force in the war, but by no mean was it the key to the victory as he says and as his media plays it out. The key to our victory, as well as to the turn of events in that war, were the SAM-6 air defence missiles.
I have to say that the October war is one of the very rare things that make me proud that I'm Egyptian. For years as a kid, I was taught that it was a perfect war, was never told about the Deversoir or of how close Sharon was to Cairo. It was a shocker to read about that later on in some of the books that were banned. Was it all a big lie? Did we actually lose that war? For a while I thought that maybe we did. Isn't el3ebra belnehaya, and this is how the war ended. Our Third Army surrounded not capable of even getting food, and Sharon 100Km away from Cairo.
That is not how to measure victory however. It was not a complete victory, but it was a true victory. Our soldiers didn't reach Jerusalem or even Taba, but that was not the plan, nor the intention (not the political nor the military, but maybe it was just our wishful thinking).
A few facts are in order here. The military war plan was not to take over Sinai in the first few days of the war, not even the first weeks of it. It was to cross the canal and take over 10 kilometers (or until the madaye'a) east of the canal were the forces are sufficiently covered by the SAM missiles. The advancement of the forces farther east was not planned until another 6 months later, when the SAM artillary batteries can be moved over and installed east of the canal to cover the advancement of the forces. However, this is not the plan that Sadat communicated with the Syrians. He told them the plan did not involve a halt of advancement of the forces in order to convince them to join in the war. After the awesome blow to the Israeli forces in the first few days of the war, Sadat made the mistake of not sticking to the military plan in order to "save the Syrians" and decided to advance the forces, against the advice of the military leaders. The forces advanced without cover from the SAM missiles, and we started taking losses, and the gap started to open between the Second and Third armies, and cunning Sharon made it through.
Unexpected turn of events. That's war. The infiltration started with less than a handful of tanks, but no forces were on the west side of the canal to battle those tanks, and hence the proposed solution to take a brigade from the east side to deal with the infiltration. I was looking for an answer as to why our air forces never just took those tanks out, which seems a pretty obvious thing to do. The answer I found that it wasn't possible to use our airplanes on the west side resulting in parallelizing the SAM missles, and hence openning our space to the Israeli jets to get into the battle.
Stubborn Sadat wouldn't listen to the sharp solution of pulling a brigade back early on, so the gap widened, more Israeli tanks went through surrounding our Third Army, and Sharon was 100Km away from Cairo. Does that constitute a loss of the war. No.
The initial military plan was indeed perfect. However, the US would've never allowed for a Soviet-armed army to beat a US-armed army. But it would also never allow an Israeli soldier to reach Cairo, where the Nile is. Being in Damascus on the other side, how far would that make them from the Euphrates? Why did the Israelis stop their advancement were they did? How much of the way to Jerusalem can they expose by pushing more of their forces west of the canal?
We would've never been allowed to have a complete victory in that war, and that is what Sadat realized --and that is what scared him to hell, making him want to end the war immediately. The initial plan was damn good, but it would've not worked politically I believe. So were is the victory? The whole war was a victory regardless of the stalemate at the end, the war plan was a victory, the cunning surprise attack was a victory, crossing the canal was a victory, the engineering ingenuity and destroying the Barlev line was a victory, the battles led by Egyptian soldiers was a victory, beating the Israeli myth was a victory, and even the decision to go to war was a victory.
If there is one thing that I'll give credit to Sadat for, its the decision to go to war. And if there is one thing that I'll shoot Nasser for, its the 1967 war loss, but I'll give him credit for the pre-73 estinzaf war. The only thing I'll give Mubarak credit for however, is last night's funny episode of his new sitcom.
Oh, and I thought it was pretty funny that he called Saad ElShazly, esmo eih dah ("what's his name").
Posted by Mohamed at 4:25 PM
Monday, April 25, 2005
Lousy vacation. Six days off from work, and I can't believe I actually want to go back! Get my previous routine back. Vacation wasted. Over-blogged. The black hole didn't just suck what I write this time, but took me along with it. Pounding feeling in my head. Not good.
Can't wait for next weekend, better plans, something different. New strategy. Stick to your blog. Get a life!
Posted by Mohamed at 12:46 PM
I know many people have different opinions about Iqra'a TV. Some think of it as fitting the general trend in our society of herds' brain washing, and attempting too hard at making Islam hip in most of those stupid kids programs. I think overall its a good channel however. Quite diverse in its presentation of Islam. The reason I'm writing this post is I'm watching Moez Masoud's program now, and I just love this kid.
He's well informed, perfect English (with no accent), excellent Arabic, recites Quran properly. Has an interesting perspective, and really connects. Pretty modern guy talking about traditional stuff. Right now talking about Imam Ghazali's book, alarba3een fee usul aldeen, and fiqh albaten, and quoting Pearl Jam for God's sake. I love this guy.
Here's some random realtime captioning of what he's saying right now:
"You love to the point that you become enslaved to the one you love. yashtagheloon belta3a. The output manifestation of this is obediance. Worship is based on love. When you read suret Taha, wa ma a3jalaka 3an kawmeka ya mousa, ha'aola'a 3ala athary, they're right there, wa 3ajelta elayka rabby letarda
The translation is a big burden. I can't translate to you what Allah is saying
Anyways, wa 3ajelta elayka rabby letarda.. I've rushed to you my lord letarda. how do we see ppl going early to prayer? .. the point is, how do ppl go to prayer on time. Obviously all this worship is based on the heart.. loving God
Ghazali brings out that verse. yo7ebohom wa ye7oboohom. All you who believe, if u turn away from ur religion
I don't believe the people who are non-muslims should be called non-muslims. I don't think they got the Islam message properly. I don't like to call them non-muslims.
Kafar in arabic is cover. Prayer in language is communication. Kafar is covering up something. Covering up truth. To be a Kafer you need to know that Muhammad is Allah's messenger, and then cover that up.
You guys should put the 'fun' back in 'fundamental'"
Posted by Mohamed at 12:59 AM
Sunday, April 24, 2005
The book touches briefly on how the Hadiths are collected and the rules for classifying hadiths, the different sciences of hadiths, types of hadith tellers (rowah), how to categorize a hadith, types of hadiths, levels of some types of hadiths (marateb alhadith), rules of working by the different types of hadiths, identifying faults with hadiths, and some other stuff that I don't understand. Actually there's alot that I don't understand, including some words that require me to consult a mo3gam to get its meaning. This book is taught to students with no religious studies background, so I wish those students the best of luck.
I'm trying to go through the book to figure out how many types of hadiths there are. From the table of contents, I've been able to count 32 types (categories and subcategories) of hadiths. I don't know how to do this and how to translate this, but I want to list some sample categories of hadiths as a teaser.
One main categorization of hadiths is, Saheeh, Hassan, and Da'eef. That would be Correct, OK, and Weak (did i really translate Hassan to mean OK!).
Saheeh, is a hadith that has continuous "good" references from the first reference to the last, and is not "weird" or "faulty". This is really terrible translation. The guy spends 32 pages describing different aspects of the hadith saheeh, so there is no way I can summarize or translate here. But there are elaborations as to the means used back then to identify a good reference, a group of references versus a single reference, and the definition of "faulty" and "weird", as well as how to handle doubt in a hadith for example. The two main agreed upon (by the scholars) collection of hadiths are the Bokhary and Moslem collection of hadiths. AlBokhary has 1,600 hadith Saheeh in his collection, and Moslem has 4,000 in his.
There are also another classification of hadiths, classifying them into motawater and a7ad. Motawater is continuous by groups of references, with the impossibility of such groups to be lying or to have agreed to lie. There is a syntactic motawater hadith and a semantic motawater hadith. The a7ad hadith does not have as many solid references, as well as some other factors.
Here are some nice sounding Hadith types, mo3an3an, mo'annan, makloub, mottareb, marfou3, mawkouf, maktou3, matrou7, modallas, shaz.
I probably did more ill than good by writing this post. I myself would like to get more details about those two main types of hadiths I mention saheeh and motawater. I attended a lecture once focusing on what a motawater hadith is. Was pretty interesting, but unfortunately don't remember much of it. In any case, I'm not going to answer any questions about Hadiths here, because I have no clue how to.
TIC raises some good points in the comments below making me want to distinguish between who should learn what in Islam. I made an analogy here before between Islamic scholars and physicists, comparing the similarities between how a physicist deciphers nature and how a scholar deciphers the word of God. The analogy is worth mentioning in this context as well.
An Islamic scholar interprets the word of God to facilitate a faith for the users (Muslims faithfuls) of that religion. Let's think of a modern day familiar scientific researcher, say wireless communication researcher. Such a scientist would research the best way to use the air interface (God's medium) to facilitate wireless communication between mobile phone users. Now, mobile users may use that technology in a proper way or can misuse it. It doesn't make the technology bad, and it doesn't mean that the scientist that facilitated such technology was wrong or at fault either. Now, everyone wants to learn how to use their mobile phone, and make use of all the cool gadgets and features that come with it (that would be similar to non-scholastic Muslims learning about their religion). Some people even read their phone manual and think they know everything about mobile technologies. But for me to use my mobile phone and benefit from the wireless communication technology I don't have to understand how my voice and data travels over the air, which was thankfully achieved by that scientist and his colleagues.
Another interesting analogy is the modern Islamic preachers. I can think of them like those companies advertising SMS services. There are companies that encourage people to make good use of the technologies at hand, and others that push for misuse of the technology.
I know that all the spiritual muslims will hate me for this analogy. But this is how I think of it.
Posted by Mohamed at 3:20 PM
Friday, April 22, 2005
Yesterday's post about Abu Heif encouraged me to write more about sports, and in particular about a sport that is very dear to me, Squash. This is one rare sport that Egyptians have been over achieving in for a very long time, especially recently.
Writing Egyptian Sports history started with Abd ElFattah Amr Bey in the 1930s whom I don't know much about except that he started the Egyptian Squash legend by winning the British Open 6 times (that's alot), and that he is a Bey.
Mahmoud Abdel Kerim, whom I was saddened by his death a few years ago. He won the British Open four times, and led a coaching career in Canada. A pleasant person, classical and elegant Squash style. Only met him after he reached 70 years of age, but had the pleasure of being with him in court twice to teach me that its all in the wrist.
I have no clue how those guys were able to play with long pants and long-sleeve shirts in those old days. Weired generation!
Gamal Awad, love to watch him play. Real fighter, for'o3 loz. Longest match ever recorded in Squash history. Almost 3 hours in court with one of the Squash legends, Jahanger Khan. That's a long time to spend in such a small room with one guy!
Ahmed Barada, by all means the most achieved Egyptian athelete in current times in my view (hmm, who's Karam Gaber?!). He reached world ranking #3, and he won too many championships to count. He did that with a strong body which was not made for the game. However, he was ruined by fame and is now an idiot hip hop singer and actor.
Omar ElBorlosy, one of the most decent players I've seen, getting old but still keeping it going. Won many tournaments, and was world ranked #14 in 2002.
Amr Shabana and Karim Darwish, these guys are the top Egyptian players right now. Doing awesomely well, fighting hard, and keeping our heads high. Amr is currenly #5 in the world ranking, and he sure seems to be getting there. Karim is #12.
Shahier Abdel Razik, a good friend from the good old days at the club whom I've lost contact with now though. One hell of a smooth player whose slow style kills the game, and typically kicks my ass in the court because I keep running like the court has no walls. Shahier is ranked number 2 in Canada after Jonathan Power (who was #1 in the world ranking, now #6).
Omneyya Abdel Awy, world junior champion. Looks like she has great potential. And it sure is something to have such a great Egyptian female sportswoman. Really proud of her. Wish that would encourage more Egyptian girls to take up some serious sports.
Omar ElBorlosy's wife. Sorry I don't remember her name, not being sexist or anything, but her picture is on the top left here. She was a better player before she met Omar however!
And there really are many many more, especially junior players coming out since a few years back. I'm not sure what happened, but Egypt has been breeding some amazing Squash players lately, and in bulk quantities. Both females and males. Just awesome. Here's the world ranking. Keep checking it and notice the Egyptian flags creeping up top.
I truly wish they could abolish that sport called Football in Egypt all together, and let go of all the players and admins. Football is definetely a great game, but its just not for us. Once they abolish it, I'll know that there might be hope for this country. And by the way, I quit following football (except for this once) for the same reasons that I quit politics.They're both disgusting here.
On second thoughts, they should abolish all team games (yes, including handball). We ain't team players nor team makers.
Posted by Mohamed at 4:53 PM
Thursday, April 21, 2005
The Swimmer of the Century, and the Crocodile of the Nile, Abdel Latif Abu Heif, is definetely a great sportsman. Crossed the English Channel 3 times in his youth, a 41Km distance, and is still living in the water in his old age, but youthful soul.
Everytime I go swimming and find myself swimming next to him, I feel very proud. One of those cold winter days I was enjoying a solo swim with only the two of us in the pool. Standing in the shallow part of the pool, he was standing there drinking a steamy hot glass of milk, and I was staring. He turned to me and offered to bring me one. I politely said, no thanks, but I was feeling like taking a dive into his warm glass. Another day, there was this guy who was taking endless laps back and forth in the pool. I was standing again in the shallow part of the pool breathing my lungs out, Abu Heif turns to me and praises the guy who wouldn't rest, for his excellent swimming. I said, sure, you two can praise each other all you want, I'm just trying to catch my breath here. He's the one that would initiate a conversation every time. I'm not good at talking with famous people.
Today, he was finning in the water backwards while reading AlWafd newspaper. That was one cool sight. I made sure not to splash while swimming so that I don't wet his paper. Its his pool really. He owns the water. Hip hip hooray, Abu Heif.
Okay, I had a lousy run today. Expected I suppose. I'm gaining weight, not as dedicated, losing sleep, and the weather is not helping. Need to take some time off from work and focus on my health again.
Posted by Mohamed at 3:35 PM
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
I think everyone who blogs will admit that blogging is addictive. I won't say anything sophisticated or deep here (because that's not really me) about blogging, on how it gives a voice to the voiceless, and how freedom of speech is so great that once you get it you can't let go. But I simply think it can be summed up in this quote that I read when I was 16 and don't remember who said it: "I write to know what I think".
Going into three months of blogging now, and surprisingly, I'm still enjoying it. Its taking more and more of my time everyday. You're supposed to blog in the free time you have, but I end up doing everything else in my life in my blogging left over time! The blogger in me is certainly evolving.
There are two people who know who I am in real life (met me in person). The first, is a good friend of mine that I told her of my blog the first day I started it because I was abit excited maybe, and I tend to do stupid things when I'm excited, so I told her. At the beginning we never mentioned the blog in our conversations, but now, she calls me, keeps on laughing, and then we end up talking about the blog. I realized that I don't like mixing my blogging life with my real life. (Yes, I know you're reading this). The interesting part is that in the rare times when she comments here, she does it anonymously, while she's like the only one who knows who I am! The other person who knows me in real life is a girl I met a while ago and went out with for a few times. She was a really fine girl, and I thought that this (us) might turn into something, so I pointed her to my blog. I thought that this is the best (and fastest) way for her to get to know me. Would save us alot of time trying to figure out who I really am, and how I think (would've sure liked it the other way around too). Well, we didn't go too far before she dumped me. I doubt it was because of this blog though, but I think it was abit too soon to reveal my blogging habit. I know she's not reading this anymore (actually I don't even know if she ever did), so I should be fine. This was my best line to her about blogging: "I'm having a problem with spending too much time blogging, so you should help me; by going out with me as much as you can in order to take me away from blogging"! How dull.
As few as they are, I don't really know how many read this blog, and how many like or dislike it (those visitor statistics don't really tell). I'd like to say that I don't care, but I can't help it. I shouldn't care however, because that's not really why I'm blogging, and if I think of who reads it, I might steer my writing for a certain "audience", and I don't want that. That's not why I'm blogging. And Mona, if you're still listening (I doubt it), I still believe that thinking of blogging as a mean to reform the Middle East is taking it too far. I don't think blogging is useless however. Which doesn't mean that most of what I write isn't silly, but its not necessarily useless. Just talking is good, and letting things out is good, and communicating is even better. And sometimes this is a really good mean of communication. Communicating with people you would've never had the chance to meet. Opens up your mind really and brings you new ideas. Its communicating about interesting topics too.
It does feel good however when someone praises what you do. Another journalist whom I like reading her stuff emailed me the other day praising my blog (that was before that sex post though). I thought that was cool coming from someone that I have high regard for.
Having your own blog is not that bad (especially if you don't have many readers), but surfing the blogosphere and commenting on others' is the real killer. I mean, I'd really rather read a good book, and blog about it, then read another blog and blog about it! The most interesting blogs to me are the ones with a personal touch, even if they're political or technical or whatever. This is how blogging creates that separate new life for me. I'm even starting to know those bloggers so well its scary. I haven't met any, and I don't think its a good idea to meet any. Not because of who they are, but because it would ruin my blogging experience. I like blogging in a Black Hole.
I like to control the blog comments I write though. Its too much if I go write a comment that's longer than the author's initial post. If I have that much to write, I'll come to my blog and write about it. That'll make me satisfied, and then I won't have the urge to keep on arguing. Those comment discussions can really become an overkill. Why do many people think they have an obligation to convince those who disagree with them?! I like to say my thing and leave. Usually I'm not clear enough, so I keep explaining my point, but the best thing about blogging is I don't have to convince anyone, and I don't care if everyone disagreed with me. I'm not trying to win anyone over, and I know this will not change the world. So that makes it more comfortable and fun.
Posted by Mohamed at 9:17 PM
Monday, April 18, 2005
Considering what's happening with the Judges in Egypt (Baheyya talks more about what the Judges are up to here) and all the protests going on these days. Is something like this possible in Egypt?!
Far off in Ecuador (excerpts from NYT):
the crisis, caused by simmering anger over the firing in December of the Supreme Court by the president's allies in Congress, appeared to have no end in sight.
A day after Mr. Gutiérrez revoked a state of emergency to quell days of protests, Congress convened in a special session Sunday to discuss a judicial crisis amid repeated calls for the president's resignation. The tumult has left Mr. Gutiérrez, whose austere economic policies and heavy-handed governing style had already antagonized many Ecuadoreans, on shaky political footing.
Mr. Gutiérrez said it was not he who was strong-arming the judiciary, but rather the political dinosaurs who would not permit reforms that would take the courts out of the hands of crooked politicians. Mr. Gutiérrez cast himself as an honest servant of the people, improving the economy and battling vested interests.
But the president faced determined opponents, from middle-class homemakers to leftist student groups and indigenous organizations angered by what they view as a corrupt government interested more in consolidating power than in improving their lives.
Many of the protesters - part of a loose, disorganized force that is leaderless but potent - say they do not want just Mr. Gutiérrez out, but all the politicians and parties.
Ecuador has been racked by strife since December, when the president's supporters in Congress fired 27 of the 31 judges on the court, which had earlier backed a failed effort to impeach Mr. Gutiérrez on corruption charges.
Sounds like good stuff. If only our judges could get themselves fired. I'm sure we'll all go protesting in the streets pushing Mr. President to step down!
Posted by Mohamed at 11:30 AM
Finally, the drug problem is coming to an end in Egypt. They are starting to arrest those who sell t-shirts that display weed leaves on them, for advocating drug use. That'll end drug addiction in Egypt. That'll show those drug dealers.
I think it has gotten really better in Egypt. Atleast I don't hear that much of those hardcore drugs in high circulation anymore, Cocaine and the like. Weed has become very popular instead, replacing that dangerous and highly addictive Cocaine stuff, which was consuming alot of our national income --really expensive stuff. So, druggies are getting smarter, and patriotic. The cheap druggies go for Bango, that's the lousy kind of weed for those who want to make a cheap head. The guys with quality heads go for the more expensive Marijuana (Hashish). They're (weed) actually so popular, you can sometimes smell them while walking peacefully in any street in Cairo (and you were wondering what else you can do on Cairo streets).
I'm not sure what's so great about drugs, and why its becoming (or has been) so popular here. Maybe its an escape mechanism, people hiding from their problems and their depressions. I think it makes one feels worse, unless you're always high, which seems like a possible thing in Egypt. But its such a waste and a drag, really. People who do drugs start out seeming to be cool and fun, but they end up with their problems doubled, and a big part of their lives wasted, if not all of it. Yes, even with those light drugs, like hashish and bango. That bango crap is just terrible, it doesn't even get the user high, it scraps your head off bLaNk. You become a complete idiot, and I'm almost sure it eats away your brain cells (or what's left of it anyway). Atleast its cheap and convenient to get (yeah right, bloody idiots). Hashish is another story, they have nothing but praise about this fine leaf. You don't get stoned (literally rocky stone feeling in your head) like with that other crappy leaf, but you get really high, a quality float. And its not haram too --atleast that's what some of those guys who use it claim (no need for the sheikhs with these guys around)! I won't even say what their argument is.
You know what, if we're gonna have people use drugs, lets scrap all the dangerous and crappy stuff, Cocaine, Heroin, Bango, and all those needles drugs, and push for the good stuff, Hashish. You know what else, if we start accepting Hashish, we may have a better chance in ending the Emergency Law, which was in effect since 1952 (with a few months off every now and then). The government argues that the Emergency law is only to fight terrorism and drugs. I wonder if those guys who were arrested for selling those "space shirts" were protected (or is it screwed) under the Emergency Law.
Can you imagine how much good legalizing Hashish would do to our country? One, we'll be that closer to getting rid of the Emergeny Laws. Two, it'll get much cheaper so druggies won't have to resort to that lousy bango alternative. Three, our GDP will increase drastically if we support those Sinai bedouins who grow those plants, encouraging its export, setting up QIZ zones for free-trade with the US, and saving all that money from police raids in the rough Sinai desert. Four, Egyptians will really appreciate it, be thankful to the government resulting in a politically stable country, and we'll all be high and happy. We're already stoned, so better do it right I guess.
If this sounds logical to you, then drop that joint right now. Cities that are legalizing marijuana or facilitating safe-injection spots are resorting to a last resort of handling a problem that has gotten out of hand.
Its not that bad in Egypt, I don't think so. Kids have drugs to try it out and for fun. They end up hooked on it for a while, but many grow out of it. Grown-ups take it to forget and get high I suppose. They can sure find something better to get high on. Its better than alcohol though, with alcohol, your blood pressure goes up and you get a boost of mindless courage, and we're really not short of either of those here. Those truck drivers who drive for hours non-stop would not be able to do such a job without a good dose of smoke before and during their long trips. Well, that's what they say. But atleast they're not drinking and driving!
In any case, keep it up Cairo police. We're definetely safer now that those space shirts are off the streets.
Posted by Mohamed at 3:24 AM
Saturday, April 16, 2005
Here's a piece of information I didn't know before. Kefaya's coordinator is a Christian, George Ishaq.
AbulEla Mady, main founder of the three-times rejected AlWasat (considered Islamic) party and member of the Kefaya movement, has a piece in this week's Dostour newspaper praising George as a respectable, patriotic, and political educator who leads the lines with courage, and explains why he was the best person to take this role. George took the initiative to communicate with the group, and to follow-up since the initial group's meetings in November 2003. Back then, everyone suggested George to to be the main coordinator of the group. No one was thinking of the religion of the people, but only of their patriotism and competency.
This explanation, coming from Mady who is an active Islamist that is working hard to found a party apparently represents the views of many like him. Josh Stacher from the Arabist group have written a very good study about AlWasat party (it can be found here). This study should be read by anyone who is making generalizations about Islamists.
Mady states his position, which he says reflects those he represents from the wasateyya vision of Islam, saying that it is based on a concept called mowatna (citizenship i believe). From a mature Islamic understanding, mowatna, among other things, is the basis for public work, and hence public leadership roles should be based on qualifications and patriotism, nothing else.
It seems that this mowatna concept is being adopted by Islamists who consider themselves moderate. I've heard Dr. Selim ElAwa talk before about mowatna, adopting it as the proper way of classifying the citizens. For those who don't know Selim ElAwa, he is the head (not sure of the title) of the World Union of Muslim Scholars (among other things that he is). This Union also has Dr. Yusuf AlQaradawy in a leading role.
This mowatna concept is one that needs to be studied carefully by those who advocate that Islamists are dangerous for non-Muslims, classifying them as dhimmis and making them pay gizzya, which are both nulled with the adoption of mowatna as the basis for viewing citizens.
Now, aside from the main point of this post, I think I fall in line with Kefaya --Egyptian Movement for Change-- in one thing atleast, and that's that I'd also like to see some real change, any change.
Posted by Mohamed at 2:38 PM
Friday, April 15, 2005
Unless you're the door man, you're not hearing the knocking. No one is knocking hard enough as far as I'm concerned. The only people who are claiming there's change going on, are the usual political observers. I'm sorry, but unless that change affects my life, it doesn't count.
Maybe its just starting and I just don't feel it, but if most of the political analysts are pessimistic, how can I not be. What's a constitution amendment, which some say that it serves Hosni even better. What's a few demonstrations. What's a few superficial pressures from the U.S. Even last week's bomb didn't change a thing.
Baheyya (from Masr yamma), captures the different classes of our society that have been actively playing out in the presumed undergoing 'political change'. I won't go as far as her in relating this to the events preceding the 1919 uprising, and the political changes that happened afterwards (I've written about that abit). I'll just say that I don't see this as 1919 part II, and here's why.
Baheyya's account of the alleged change is interesting as she's looking at it from different angles of the Egyptian political spectrum; Students, University Professors, Judges, Exiles, The Regime, and the Armed Forces. Of all those, non interest me except Judges.
Student's have been protesting for years, against everything. The regime have been successfully using tactics to crush any demonstration the students are cooking, and confining them within the fences of the campus and detention centers. The tiny, but frequent demonstrations by Kefaya don't count as a real change (its something new, but its not change). The Muslim Brotherhood are too scared to get out there, and become the state enemy number one again. They're letting others take the heat for a change. All those demonstrations put together are in no way a match to the previous demonstrations after The Hebron (AlKhalil) Massacre and the Iraq War III. Those demonstrations were for an external cause, yes, but were in fact against the regime.
I find university professors irrelevant in that alleged movement of change. The regime did make sure to put them under its control a while ago. The law that was passed in 1994 to have the faculty deans appointed instead of elected did kill any independance for our public educational system, and it ensured that no politically active professor can have any influence over the educational system. That law has certainly added more damage to our educational system more than anything else. Most university professors would not get involved in political activism. Those who tend to be involved have been there for a long time, and quite a number of professors are already sympathetic to the Muslims Brotherhood. It doesn't count if a political science professor is involved in politics, criticising the government. And having a few Cairo University professors creating a movement to attempt to curb the regime's intervention in the University is well and good, but I won't hold my breath.
The notion of exiles is very new in Egypt. Not a single Egyptian (Egyptian singles can speak below) will accept a group of exiles trying to get external powers meddling in the political scene. Trying to associate themselves with local movements such as Kefaya, will achieve nothing more than hurt Kefaya itself. As long as they call themselves "exiles" they will not be accepted by the Egyptian public, and will be considered un-Egyptian.
The regime, as Baheyya explains, is playing their usual games, enjoying their controlled dialogue with the so-called opposition, creating a National Council for Human Rights to watch over itself, headed by Kamal Abul Magd who's constantly under fire for his role (I respect him however), and sending its citizens glossy Party promotional material. Nothing new there. If we're looking for dissent among members of the regime however, none is obvious. Examples of real dissent among members of the regime can only be drawn from Sadat's era (Saad ElShazly and Ibrahim Kamel), not from our current time.
As for the armed forces. No one knows what's happening within the military. My guess would be that the military is stable, and officers are content, with no "bad" intentions. If there is a game that Mubarak masters, it is the one with the military. How he sidelined Abu Ghazala, who could've taken over the country if he wished, proves that Mubarak knows how to play that game --unfortunately, costing us our national security.
Compared to the military, the Police (even State Security, "Amn ElDawla") is a pussycat. After the Amn Markazy riots in the late 80's breaked out, the regime has ensured that no similar incidents may reoccur, and is always ensuring that the Police might is always under tight control. As an example, even in the peak of the Police might, fighting terrorism in Upper Egypt, they were not allowed to use helicopters, which would've probably ended battles faster and saved a number of police lives.
Therefore, I find nothing new in all the assumed friction happening in those classes of our society. What's interesting to me though is what I read of the Judges. When I heard of Mubarak's decision to amend that clause in the constitution, I thougt that the burden to follow-up mainly falls on law makers and civil activists (not street demonstrators). But Judges are a critical factor there too. If they go through with their threat of boycotting the supervision of the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, that would put the regime in a very unpleasantly awkward position. Police supervision of the elections is not an option, and I wish international supervision is an option, but it isn't. So I think Judges can in fact exert pressure on the regime, and can in fact push the regime to give in more.
One other group of our society --which I shouldn't miss-- that's involved in that political change, and is getting a boost lately are NGOs that are getting funding from the US. The US just announced giving $1 million in grants to five local democracy groups in Egypt. Naturally, everyone should be very skeptical of such a move. Democracy will be a goal of the US only if it serves its interests, and so far it doesn't. If such a policy is changing for the sake of a better image of the US, then we can't hope for any results from such an initiative. However, if such a move (seeming to promote democracy) is a result of the US belief that democracy can now serve the US interests in the region, then I would reluctantly welcome it. Sure, most people in Egypt would call them American agents, and most of them probably are. Yet as long as they do not serve a hidden American agenda, and do not reach power as a result of their activism, I am fine with what they're doing, and would even encourage it. If they will be a factor in a potential change, yet not end up being part of it, then they should ask for more money from the US.
Real change would do Egypt alot of good. Any change (positive or negative) will take us a long way in a better direction. A massive shake-up would do Egyptians well, and maybe we, Egyptians, will change as a result. Be it the Muslims Brotherhood take over or some other American stooges (which I dislike both), it would be better than the current state of impotency and dire stagnation that we're suffering.
I am the kind of person who strives for change, yet am very uncomfortable with it. So I should notice when there is change in the air. I am not feeling anything yet.
Posted by Mohamed at 1:35 PM
Thursday, April 14, 2005
That's actually a drink. A Brazilian one I think (atleast the first time I saw it was in a Brazilian bar). And you wonder why Brazil is such a great place! I don't mind drinking that, if it'll make me do that. Seriously, this is one of my dreams. To have sex on the beach in a deserted island. Hopefully that will happen one day.
Being the smart and unique character that she is, Haal pointed to some of our earlier discussions and claimed that any guys discussions always turn into a talk about sex. Jeff, an American wannabe journalist who's learning Arabic, is starting to come out of his protective shell and interact with some real Egyptians. He described me as a sex-obsessed creature. I didn't think it showed, but since its out in the open now, I'd better start blogging about it.
No claims of being a macho man on my part, and no conclusions about my sex life on your part please. I'm speaking my mind here, not my .. [something else]. I think sex obsession could be a good thing. Its a sign of being alive. Yeah, just having sex is enough to be alive. But being obsessed with it, is something else. I think Freud was stupid, and he took it too far. You can be sex-obsessed while putting it in the right perspective, and equally important is to control your libido when it should be under control.
There's one thing that I like more than sex, and that's food. Yes, we eat to live, not live to eat, blah blah blah. But when you eat, you should enjoy it, not do it as a duty. You don't have to eat too much to enjoy it. As a matter of fact, when you eat too much, you end up hating food. But good food is a sign of good life. Good food brings pleasure to a life. I don't know why some people use food in sex? I think that's disgusting. Shouldn't mix two pleasures together, I'll end up distracted by both, and won't enjoy either. Good food and a good partner jealous of each other, spoiling each other; not my definition of fun. That would be a waste. If given the choice between food and sex, I'll choose food first. Have to get my energy, and then sex can be earned.
Why does sex have to be such a bad thing?! It could be if you're having sex for the sex (heck) of it. Without love, and real feelings, this would be just like masturbating. Where's the joy in that. Real joy from sex comes from the joy of having it with the person you love. Have you ever felt that you love your partner so much, just being together is not enough, talking is not enough, hugging and cuddling is not enough. Each of those are endless activities. I could talk forever (literally forever) with the person I love, and its a pleasure, but they're unpractical. Sex is a practical mean of expressing love. You spend time together, it gets endless, you talk, it gets endless, you touch and cuddle, it gets endless, you have sex, snap, that's it! You're both satisfied and relieved. See you in the morning baby. How many people can actually have a decent conversation after sex? can cuddle and hold each other after sex? Its all hypocrisy. You can have another round, but you can't cuddle and talk (clean talk).
The real fun is not in sex itself. Its in everything that surrounds it. Getting turned on, sweet talk, dirty talk, inventing new approaches, new strategies, new adventures; that's fun. Feeling and breathing your partner, integrating and being one with each other is the real fun. Can you do that on your own? No, but you can have sex on your own.
Are men more sexually driven than women? I hope not, and I think not. Each gender just expresses their sexual desires differently. I'll make a claim that most women care more as to who their sexual partner is. That tells me that women are smarter in bed than men, and appreciate sex more. Which tells me that they're more sexual than men. Is it true that most women have to be in love with their sexual partner? If yes, than they're smarter than men in bed, and they get it, they get what sex is about.
Posted by Mohamed at 1:26 AM
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
I'll start off, and end off this post by saying, that I really don't mind it --being called Mo. Its just that I'm not very fond of nicknames, Mido, Hamada, Abuhmeid, Mo, ugh.
At one point of my teenage life I was actually enjoying being called Mo. Its more of an American nickname than anything. You know how Americans like to shorten everything, using acronyms and abbreviations. So Mo was a natural nickname for Mohamed, shorter, easier to pronounce, and sounds American. But the problem with it being American, is that Moe stooge from The Three Stooges. I don't think its a compliment to be nicknamed after this guy (I think he was the dumbest of the three).
I grew out of it though. I grew out of all nicknames actually. You know that IRC chatting thing, I tried it out when I was in college, and used to use one of those silly nicknames. Some of my college friends still call me that till now! One of them is a big shot Managing Director in a fast growing company. I bump into him, and he calls out my stupid historical nickname outloud! Don't know how to erase that from his memory. He actually sounds silly saying it.
My nephews call me Mo, but they're little kids. Couldn't pronounce my full name as little babies, so they learnt to call me with the shorter version of the name. I hope that changes as they grow up.
You know how in Egypt friends call you with your last name or your father's name, especially when your first name is so common. That happens to me ofcourse, and I'm perfectly fine with it. Just happens that some group of friends use my last name, and some others use my father's name, and sometimes it gets abit confusing. A friend of mine makes a point of calling me with my first name when he's annoyed with me, and wants it to sound like its a formal conversation. I actually enjoy it when he does that. "Hello Mohamed. Good morning Mohamed. How do you do Mohamed."
I heard a Muslim scholar once say, that our prophet encourages us to call people by what they'd like to be called by. This was said in the context of what to call Egyptian Christians. I'm not sure, but I guess they don't like being called "Nasara", but rather be called "Copts". Although Nasara means, those who nasaro (stood by) the prophet and his companions during the early days of Islam, so its like calling them "buddies". Anyway, so he was saying, if they like to be called "Copts", they should be called "Copts". So I like to call people with what they prefer, nickname or real name. Whatever you prefer, I'll call you by it.
It is also an Islamic duty on parents to pick good names for their new-borns. I think my parents picked an okay name for me, Mohamed. Its not really my favorite, having the same name as half of the country --when in Egypt, and implying that I am a terrorist --when abroad. It is a great name, same as our prophet's. But I'd rather follow him in many other significant actions and deeds, rather than just simply have the same name. I don't think God will count my name on the balance of my good deeds in the day of judgement. I wish He would, I know I'll need all the support I can get, but this just won't count.
I've learnt to live with it though, and enjoy it. Doesn't really serve its purpose, the name, of uniquely identifying me. But maybe that's better.
I used to really like it when my ex would write my name as "M7amad" when she emailed me. You know, mimicking the Arabic literals to make the Arabic pronounciation of the name, with the 7ah. Felt like she was sitting infront of me and speaking right to my face. Felt good. All my friends would call me with my father's name or last name, and she would call me M7amad. Felt very intimate from her. If she did once call me with my father's name, she sounded like one of them. So see how it goes. Strangers call me Mohamed, Mr. Mohamed. Friends call me with my father's or family name. Intimates call me with my first name again.
I think the proper spelling of my name in English is Muhammad, that's how I spell the prophet's name. But when I spell my name, I like to simplify it as much as possible, make it sound familiar to English speakers, so ignore the heavy diacritics, make it light and smooth for the smooth Westerners, Mohammed.
I think the right spelling should have a double 'm', but I like to spell it with one 'm' to shorten it abit, Mohamed. Its already long enough, and my last name is even longer, so I think shortening my first one is a good idea. Plus, you end up pronouncing it the same way with one or two m's.
Some people don't care much as to how they're called, or how their names are spelled. I don't know if we should care or not, but isn't it a part of our identity.
Then again, you can call me whatever (just not Mido or Hamada).
Posted by Mohamed at 6:27 PM
Monday, April 11, 2005
I admit. I love this city. You have to get beyond what's on the surface, get to know it, and overlook all the insanity to love it.
If you want to live in Cairo, the only way to do it is by loving it. And you have to believe in God. Your life is hanging by a thread with every step you take, even inside your house. You don't know when it will crumble and fall apart. Yet people live till they're 80, and some are healthy as a 30 year old. They cling to life here and would never emigrate. You have to believe in God here, let go, He owns your life.
What do you wanna do here. Have sex in the street, sure, in a public bus, sure. Any adventure is doable here.
But really, this is were I was born, this is were I was raised, this is were I have friends from when I was 5 years old. These are the streets were I can never feel lost. Everyday you bump into people you know that you might not have seen in years (you even bump into bloggers that you don't know how they look like). Cairo is part of me, and I am shaped by her, the good and the bad in me. I get annoyed for being searched by security in a public place two days after a bomb exploded in the heart of Cairo, "how can you search me in my home?"!
Cairo is not the city of the conquerer, nor a victorious city. Yet it hasn't been defeated, and most likely will never be.
Living in a perfect city ruined me, made me doubt my love. I always loved Cairo, could always find that mysterious thing about it that kept me going. That other perfect city ruined me. But why do I want Cairo to be perfect?! I should treat her like a partner, know how to handle her, take her as she is, not try to change her, and love her for who she is (everyone says they can, but no one does apparently). I ain't never gonna have a perfect partner. Just accept it and look for the goods in her. She's got plenty.
No its not the human contact (like someone here said before), this is the worst part about her. Cairo is not an old city, she's just had too many experiences, with mean men. So she won't embrace you easily, has to trust you first before giving in.
Take a peak at her beauty, by driving around on a Friday morning, by looking at her from up top on the 18th floor of Semiramis, feel old Cairo without getting into it from the Azhar Park.
But don't just peak from outside. You have to get invovled in the city to love it, cultural activities (any language, and any art), food, even demonstrations. Find those unique romantic places. Some adventure will do you good, and how do you know you're sane, if you don't go insane every once and a while.
You just need to know when to take a break.
If anyone is wondering, I'm still feeling bad (not as bad though), and I left work early because I was a bit sick. So this post could be all hallucinations.
One thing I learnt. When depressed, blog like there's no tomorrow.
Posted by Mohamed at 3:31 PM
One of those moments. Feeling really down, losing my faith. Why can't things just work out for a change. Forgot how that's like for a long time now, or am I just doing things so wrong. Or am I just getting old. Feeling really down, losing my faith. Why can't I get a good break. A real one, a long one, for a change. That could help. Too long of a test, becoming too much really. Or is it just payback time. Haven't I paid enough. Am I ungrateful. Losing my faith. Tomorrow is another day, same test, where am I heading.
Posted by Mohamed at 12:03 AM
Sunday, April 10, 2005
This post was written by Twosret, a fellow Egyptian living in the United States.
Many thanks Twosret for sharing this.
There are mixed feelings in my heart about the Pope's death but the one that provoked me the most is how the Arab nation have missed a great opportunity by the death of this unusual man.
It is a well-known fact that Leon Uris' Exodus did more for the promotion of Zionism in a single novel (then movie) than all of the propaganda that tried to sell the concept of "Palestine for the Jews." And while it may be the case that dozens of excellent books and movies/documentaries have been created to humanize the tragedy of the Palestinian people the fact that Hollywood, mainstream media, large publishing companies are unwilling to promote these artistic endeavors lest they come under the relentless barrage of pro-Zionist, anti-Arab forces that have effectively silenced even high government officials.
We might as well accept the fact that mainstream media, Hollywood and the publishing industry is unavailable for us as modern day Arabs. What therefore is available for mass distribution, democratic access is the world of the Internet in particular the explosive of advent of Blogs which have now become sources of information for the mainstream media. Primary sites for journalistic research.
Witness how effectively the Jewish community promoted their cause by highlighting the few yet significant interaction of the Pope with modern Judaism such as his visit to Rome synagogue, Photo opportunity at the Wailing Wall, The Holocaust memorial. In contrast one has to cringe at the paucity of published photos, Internet material that document the remarkable interaction of this Pope with Arab and Islamic culture. I have yet to find a photo of the Pope's visit to a mosque during a trip to Syria in 2001 or his visits to the Palestinian refugee camp Dehiesha.
It is inexcusable given our current freedom of expression on the Internet such as Blogging that a grassroots movement doesn't propel the Arab and Islamic world onto a world stage illuminated by spotlights of understanding, tolerance and acceptance.
I don't think the Pope was less tolerant to the Muslim nation than the Jews. It is only when tank thinkers in the Arab world (if there is any) seize a golden opportunity like this one, we become known to the world as peace making people Verses terrorists. Ramzy Yassa, Marcel Khalifa and the legendary Fairouz could have held a concert to recognize the Palestinian and Iraqi children sufferings to the world through the Pope and under the umbrella of the Vatican.
The Pope was blessed in ARABIC by an Arabic speaking cardinal in his funeral. What an honor to the Arabic nation both Christian and Muslims. Let's hope that the new Pope will follow the footsteps of John Paul II.
The task at hand is very clear and we need to use individual and collective abilities to articulate in writing, music and art that are history and culture both past and present is as significant and valid as any others. We need to learn the art of PR and know how to promote ourselves as Arabs.
Pope's visit to the Umayyad mosque in Damascus, Syria, 2001 (source).
Pictures added by Mohamed. Before anyone comments that this visit was controversial, this was not the point of the post --you didn't get it.
Pope's visit to Dheisheh refugee camp in Palestine, 2000 (source).
Posted by Mohamed at 11:00 AM
Friday, April 08, 2005
has definetely arrived. The Spring in Egypt is the worst season of the year. Dusty winds, lousy khamaseen, just terrible weather that you can hardly breath. One spring, I tried to use a breathing mask while sleeping, but didn't really work. No flowers blossom in our Spring, they start dying after the winter and before the dead heat of the summer. Today is just a small example of the lousy Spring weather in Egypt. Terrible weather, couldn't do my exercise at the club, can hardly breath. Yesterday, was just an example of the political Arab Spring. Innocent dead people murdered for no apparent reason whatsoever. Murderous bastards who are going straight to hell via the divine express lane.
A nail bomb exploding in the Mousky area (one of the most crowded areas of Cairo) on a Thursday afternoon, and the dumb ass murderer killing himself in the process. What could be next, I wonder.
I'm sorry if I dehumanize this. It is a terrible act of terror, it is inexcusable, and it is absolutely unjustifiable. And really, the hell with tourism, I didn't care for it anyways, and I hate to hear people crying over it, as if it is the problem we're facing!! I just cannot figure the reason of this blast one bit. Try to think like a terrorist even, and I still can't get it. Who does this sick act serve exactly?!
Here are the usual suspects:
1) The Islamic militants
2) An individual act
3) The regime
5) The U.S.
1) By Islamic militants, I ofcourse don't mean the conservative Muslims, they are not supposed to be militants. The Muslims Brotherhood are not a violent group, and if for any crazy reason they went out of their minds to do this, it would end any tiny bit of sympathy they may have in an instance, would end any objective they might be working for, and that would be it for them in Egypt. The Jama'a Islameyya have denounced violence a few years ago, could they be feeling nostalgic? maybe. AlQaeda may want to show their presence in Masr ElMahrousa, and seeing how screwed up their minds are, they may actually be thinking that way. If so, I'd like to see Zawahri come visit his family here in Cairo, and see what Egyptians will do to him.
2) An individual act? This is the first thing that our smart government comes up with everytime something like this happens. See today's Ahram newspaper, "Prime Minister and Minister of Interior asserts that its an individual act"! huh, how the hell did you know that already. Five minutes after the blast, they claim its an individual act, then they sweep the area detaining thousands of innocent people!
3) The regime? some people are starting to pass this idea around. A friend just told me that he's sure its the regime! Come on. How merciless and bloody can they be?! Is this what they need to crack down even more on the Islamists, show the world that opening the door for democracy is not the solution in our neighborhood, and prove that the way they've been ruling is the right way to do it. A bit far fetched if you ask me. They are villains, but that's just stretching it too much.
4 & 5) If all else doesn't make sense, then blame it on Israel or/and the U.S. Not that its out of their way to do something similar. I'm sure that soon enough I'll hear a theory that might make some sense. I just don't have one now, and let's not start by blaming them please.
I just don't know who the hell could do such a thing, and how the hell this could be serving the sick interests of anyone out there. All I know is that the Arab Spring has certainly arrived.
I tried to hold myself from writing about this, because my other topic is actually more interesting, but have to say my 2 cents worth here.
Posted by Mohamed at 2:55 PM
Yes, enough politics. A woman is whom I'll be stuck with for the rest of my life, not Hosni. Thanks Haal for the reminder.
I've said it frequently (within many of my posts), political change alone is not the answer to our problems, and as I agree with Haal, "politics is not the core of any of our problems. It is us, our socio-culture structure, the way we think, react, and deal with eachother that puts us in this glum situation." So enough politics, let's talk about something that can make a difference in our lives. How do you like your soulmate?
Not that I have one right now, but still, too much to write about here really. Here are a few thoughts.
Did you ever fall for the wrong person? The complete opposite of you, whom by no mean would you be compatible with, and you kept convincing yourself, "we are different, we will complement each other". Well to a limit, yes you will, but don't take it too far. So are we typically attracted to what we don't have, seek what is not available to us?
I personally get attracted to many qualities that I don't have. I like a smart girl for example. But is it really smart of me to fall for a smart girl? (not because she should be dumb and submissive, like many would jump to this conclusion, but because its not really smart of me to be with someone who's much smarter than myself).
How can two complete opposites fall in love, unless they're really stupid, and keep convincing themselves "we will complete each other"! I think couples should be relatively close on the comptability scale when it comes to economic and social background, and they should have a close enough value system, with compatible characters. Otherwise, just give it up right now.
So then, if a couple fall in love regardless of their compatability and background, does love really solve their problems? I keep wondering about those people who fall in love blindly, without working their brains. Is that really possible? Can one fall in real love without measuring the odds of success of that relationship. So here's a big question, what is love? How does one fall in love. Different from person to another, that's for sure. But is it really just pure magic? I don't think so. I think it must be a combination of things, magic, or characters' compatability being one of them. How they treat each other is another. Getting attached, and spending a lifetime together is another. All that is love, and other things too.
Did you ever see a couple who are living a love story fight like hell, and can't solve their problems? Have you ever seen a couple who have married after a great love story get a miserable divorce? I have. So how did love solve their problems? It didn't. They threw their brains out of the window when they chose each other, and they threw it once again, when they couldn't work out their problems.
So is love useless. Hell no. The best feeling ever, but if you don't want it to be an intermittent feeling that ends up hurting so bad on the long run, you'd better balance things out with your brains abit.
Oh, and don't ask me for advice on those matters. I'm an idiot as anyone when it comes to love.
Posted by Mohamed at 12:01 AM
Thursday, April 07, 2005
Cairo Magazine has a piece about the new Virgin megastore that's about to open in Cairo. The author discusses the fears of copyright infringement, and the problems resulting from pirating CDs, DVDs, and books. The piece was short of mentioning software piracy. This table shows the piracy rates across the world for the years 1997, 1998 and 1999, as reported by the Software & Information Industry Association’s (SIIA) 2000 global report on software piracy. According to the Business Software Alliance, in 2000, the worldwide software piracy rate rose to 37% from 36% in 1999. Despite the tough measures taken by large software corporations and some governments, the software piracy rates are not expected to be in strong decline mainly because of the growth of the internet, and the rapidly growing economies in developing countries with avid usage of new technologies. Numbers published indicating the revenues lost by software companies as a result of software piracy (which is in the range of $12 billion) is misleading because the alternative to a piece of software pirated, is not the same piece of software bought.
This magazine article brought to mind an article that I had written over a year ago regarding that topic. Well, I was getting tired of all the blabbing of how the software piracy in Egypt is a terrible thing that will ruin the economy (here's a sample). They were simply echoing what the big bullying companies are telling them. So, I decided to question that and provide an alternative, publishing an article back then in a local publication with my views.
I'm guessing this is a topic that's not interesting to most people who frequent this blog, but since all of you use software, you'd better read this ;)
I'd like to read a similar argument about textbooks piracy, what's for and against it.
Anyway, so here what I wrote back then:
Software piracy is becoming synonymous to illegal theft. It is becoming a global trend that is being fought by all major software companies, as well as some governments that are strongly encouraged by large corporations to take tough actions.
Software piracy can be committed in a variety of ways, including:
Softlifting: purchasing a single licensed copy of software and loading the same copy onto several computers, contrary to the license terms. For example, the sharing of proprietary software with friends, co-workers and others. This also includes acquiring academic or other restricted or non-retail proprietary software without a license for commercial use.
Client-Server Overuse: [... edited for boredom]
Internet Piracy: [... edited for boredom]
Hard-Disk Loading: [... edited for boredom]
Software Counterfeiting: [... edited for boredom]
All those means of pirating software are considered by most as plain theft. However, as some argue, pirated software does not represent a redistribution of already manufactured goods, it represents production of additional, unauthorized goods.
It has long been advocated that software piracy adversely affects a nation’s economic well-being, stifles individual creativity and discourages businesses’ investments. Some of those arguments are overstretched to push governments to take stronger actions against piracy, and to scare individuals from continuing in such actions. How many times did we hear that the high rate of software piracy in Egypt is hindering the growth of the IT industry, and what are the studies that backed those statements?!
In February 2000, the SIIA recommended 26 countries to the US Trade Representative for ongoing trade negotiations and possible trade sanctions as a result of denying adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights and the lack of tough measures against software piracy. Among those countries are, China, India, Israel, European Union, Malaysia, Korea, and Ireland. But China is witnessing enormous economic growth, and countries like India and Ireland are setting the example for growth in the IT industry. It is hard to believe then that software piracy has adversely affected the economic growth of any of those countries.
Like software, the music industry is pushing hard to crack down on music file sharing, whereby they can legally follow those who illegally share music files. The hype of illegal music sharing has increased lately with the advent use of peer-to-peer networks that facilitated enormous amounts of music files to be shared. Unlike before where you had to buy a blank cassette and go through the tedious job of recording a few songs, it is now much more easier to copy tens of music files, and that is what prompted the music industry to take strong actions against such activities. Though some artists (new entrants to the industry) find the availability of such technology beneficial in terms of providing them with unprecedented exposure, unavailable through traditional means. However, the fact remains that according to the laws being enacted recently, peer-to-peer music file sharing is illegal, and so could be recording a song over the radio instead of buying it. The correlation between the music and software industries in this sense is interesting, since in both cases, artists and software developers are being denied their rights by illegally copying their work, or, are being presented with great exposure opportunities and allows economically deprived individuals to “get hooked” on certain software products.
Can software piracy not be that bad after all? Well, some software companies are gaining a little benefit by having more individuals get addicted to their software (as software sometimes is), possibly purchasing a legitimate copy once they’re working in an organization that respects intellectual property. Also, in markets with high piracy rates, legitimate software tends to be significantly discounted to encourage its legal purchase. As it is evident in Egypt for example, where student licenses and licenses of proprietary software bundled with the Computer for Every Home program are sold with more than 70% discount. And finally, the common argument of making software available to the economically deprived. Where for example in the case of China, there is more than 20 times the availability of software with piracy then without.
However, regardless of how many good we list, the fact remains that software piracy is still a form of theft, and is illegal and unethical.
In order to get all the good that could possibly result from software piracy, without actually pirating any software, and without getting into a legal and ethical dilemma, as well as avoiding the purchase of prohibitively priced software (which is the reason for pirating software in the first place), the obvious alternative would be to use open source software. While open source software is not necessarily free in price, it is almost certainly cheaper than the proprietary alternatives, and the total cost of ownership is arguably less than proprietary software. Add to that the benefits gained from using such software, such as reliability, freedom to modify, update and redistribute the software without being controlled by the software vendor.
There is almost an open source alternative to every main commercial application out there; from operating systems, databases, web servers, office productivity tools, multimedia tools, to software development tools –you name it.
SIIA acknowledges that there is no evidence that software piracy will be eliminated anytime in the foreseeable future. Cracking down on software piracy will most likely result in turning away from proprietary software all together, and those who genuinely cannot afford proprietary software will turn to the alternative, open source software.
This table shows the piracy rates across the world for the years 1997, 1998 and 1999, as reported by the Software & Information Industry Association’s (SIIA) 2000 global report on software piracy. According to the Business Software Alliance, in 2000, the worldwide software piracy rate rose to 37% from 36% in 1999. Despite the tough measures taken by large software corporations and some governments, the software piracy rates are not expected to be in strong decline mainly because of the growth of the internet, and the rapidly growing economies in developing countries with avid usage of new technologies. Numbers published indicating the revenues lost by software companies as a result of software piracy (which is in the range of $12 billion) is misleading because the alternative to a piece of software pirated, is not the same piece of software bought.
Posted by Mohamed at 11:03 PM
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Seems that this will be a regular topic on my blog. How the North American Muslims are doing better by the day. I've made this argument a few days before in a comment and in a post.
I think North American Muslims should hold on to their religion without compromise (unlike how some progressives do), yet integrate, participate and be active in their host communities. For the second generation Muslims there, the integration and participation is natural, because its not their "host" communities anymore. I said in my comment earlier, that as an example, I think American Jews are so good at lobbying (aside from all the other obvious reasons to everyone), because they're integrated so well in the American culture --while still preserving their religion (Joe Liberman was running for vice president and would still take Saturdays off).
Here's a group of American Muslims showing Americans that they're just like the rest of them. What better means to do that, other than laughter and comedy? "Allah made us funny" stand-up comedians are certainly doing something new for the Muslims in America, and showing the rest of the Americans a different face for Muslims. Here's a video clip and an article about them.
Shazia Mirza is also a Muslim Brit comedian doing the same thing.
While I don't know how much these guys understand Islam, I don't really want to know (it doesn't matter). They are serving the purpose of making Muslims be viewed just like the rest of Americans. Something like a Muslim version of Jerry Seinfeld I guess (although I'm not sure if they're as funny)! They're more like Black comedians actually, laughing at themselves. The relation to Seinfeld I would say, is that they're making Muslims be viewed as just another American (or Brit, in the case of Shazia).
UPDATE: Here's Shazia Mirza's website. Via Chanad's comment below.
Posted by Mohamed at 4:32 PM
Monday, April 04, 2005
I've been going through a series of job interviews and exams at an American multinational company in Cairo during the last period. Over a period of three days, I've been through four exams, and four interviews.
During the last interview, the interviewer asked me a question that I really disliked, "What does your father do? What does your mother do? What does your sister do?" Huh! Now, I have nothing but pride in what my parents and sister do, and in what they've achieved. But excuse me, what kind of a job interview question is that?! My answers to these questions apparently added points to my score, and I received an offer at the end of the interview. But what if the job applicant's father had a job that wasn't appealing to the interviewer, a job that is not of the higher social class of our society? How does that make the job applicant less or more suitable for the job?! Or do they just want to be surrounded with people whom are socially of a certain class to preserve their "culture".
So, they did make me an offer, and while the offer was actually just fine financially, and the kind of work was just awesome, actually it was the kind of work that I've been dreaming of doing in Egypt, I've actually rejected the offer! How dumb am I?! Other than being abit confused, and not sure yet if I'll end up leaving Egypt or not, I was just not comfortable with the whole environment and culture of the place, with the "what does your parents do?" question being only one indication for my fears. A profitable expanding multinational that is using (il)legal schemes to avoid paying taxes, and which seems very rigid with its employees does not sound like a place that I'll be enjoying myself at. They gave me an offer and told me its not negotiable. So two days later I called them up and told them that the offer was not suitable for me, and I reject it. When asked why, I told them I'm not comfortable with the whole legal setup they're hiring the employees onto this project through, and I find that this adds to the risks and is thus worth more pay. Yes, I was actually willing to put my fears to rest for a 25% increase in the offer.
It was also kind of a test to them I guess. If they accept, then 1) they're not as rigid as they seem (flexibility is something I look for in a workplace), 2) their management is bidirectional (instead of unidirectional, which flows downwards), 3) they're valueing me so they'll treat me well, and 4) they're paying me well, so who the hell cares about anything else. Regrettably, I was right. They're rigid, their management is unidirectional, and they don't value me! They never came back to me. Its regrettable, because it was a really good job, really awesome kind of work. Just the kind of work I'd like to be doing. How dumb am I, thinking I won't fall again for an ill-managed company, so I'll reject the offer, or accept it via a small management test. Well, good luck finding that right environment in Egypt.
What is it with Egyptian employers? Why is it a trend to mistreat their employees, and to have management so isolated from the workforce. What is it with Egyptian authority figures, even in the business environment (keep that in mind when/if I write about how Egyptians suck). How can a manager, even in such a large multinational be socially discriminitve in hiring (if he didn't like what my parents did, he would've either denied me the job or offered me a much lower salary). Why do Egyptian employers believe that their employees should be grateful to them that they have a job?!
Posted by Mohamed at 1:18 AM
Saturday, April 02, 2005
This cartoon is from the front page of Ibrahim Eissa's Dostour newspaper :)
Q: What's the government scared to death of ?
Put a check mark (X) infront of the correct answer:
A) scared from the people
B) from the Muslim Brothers
C) from the Americans
There's also a page inside the newspaper with complete posts of Egyptian bloggers. These posts are published as is on page 16:
Imperialism of the underwear from Beyond Normal
Why I am a blogger? (a testimony) from Hamuksha
Virginity from Africano
Not once and Spelling mistakes from Digressing
Angel from Shamoussa
Posted by Mohamed at 2:39 PM
Friday, April 01, 2005
A few days ago I received a big envelope by mail addressed to me by name. It was a bit of a surprise to find that its sent from Hosni's National Democratic Party (yes, the NDP)! Interesting, eh. I wonder how they got my name and address, and why they thought I'm a candidate for their propaganda. I thought its probably some flyers promoting the Party (which is in itself something new and interesting), same as reading AlGomhuria newspaper. So I put the envelope aside, and just now I decided to open it. Even more surprised, its a very neatly printed on very high-quality paper booklet that's entitled:
Party Visions and Stands
Adjusting Clause (76) of the Constitution
The Start of a New Historic Era of Political Work
The National Democratic Party
Interesting stuff, eh. Are they actually taking that constitution thing seriously?! In all truth I'm actually impressed! Well, my first impression is always a naive one. But come on, this is like one of the very few times that the authorities in Egypt respect me, and address me directly, in such a logical (somewhat) manner. I like it. The thing is well written, and here are the section titles:
o Why adjust clause (76)?
o What are the restrictions to ensure serious candidacy?
o Can the seriousness restrictions become preventive of candidacy?
o Who monitors the presidential elections?
o Script of the President's book to Parliament over the constitution adjustment
o Why have the presidential elections in a single day?
o How to organize financing and promotion/advertising for the presidential campaigns/elections?
o What are the procedures for adjusting clause (76) of the constitution?
The President's role
The People's Assembly role
The Shura Assembly role
The People's role
o Adjustment of clause (76) and the democracy path in Egypt
You've gotta give it to them. Its not bad. I can hardly think of what to criticize this for. Except maybe that they're wasting my tax money over party propaganda.
Posted by Mohamed at 1:09 AM