Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Rough Dance

While we are going through festivities and time of partying during the coming days I thought of sharing this video

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 05, 2008

oh oh!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

An internal error prevented the object from being sent to the client and cached.

The following error occurred: An internal error prevented the object from being sent to the client and cached. Try again later. (CACHE_FILL_OPEN_FILE) Please contact the administrator."

This error impact both internet explorer, msn/windows live messenger, and Firefox browsers.

The solution to this problem is to check if there are any proxy settings used to connect to the internet and disable them, or replace it with another proxy settings. If the problem still exists even if there is no proxy, contact your Internet Service Provider who should make some changes to their proxy settings.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Unread Mail

How many times would you do the following: you decide that friendship is over with someone, and not having the desire to hear, read, or even know about the other person, so you decide to delete every email you receive or hang up the phone or tear up the letter received by post without even bother to know the content?

For some it might be considered as some sort of ignorance, and others see it as some rudeness of behavior. On the other hand, because of that person, the one of us have been put in an a number of awkward situations, so the only action is that a decision to be made not to have contact with that person anymore. It is exactly the opposite to have someone whom you would like to spend more time with and enjoying his or her company.

At the end, these unwanted emails, or posts will only pile up and after a month (if not on the same day) will all be cleaned up i.e. Junk

That Guy In the Background...‏

How many times we get frustrated when we take a shot and discover late that it has been ruined by someone or something that was captured in the background?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Arabic Broadcast From Amsterdam

A number of weeks back I created a new discussion thread on Facebook on the Iraqi Community In the Netherlands Group. I was seriously eager to know or to see how appealing the idea of having an Arabic Radio station in the Netherlands, like other Arabic speaking internet and FM radio stations, such as Orient Radio (France) and ABS (Australia) - there is another one in Belgium which I heard about recently, but forgot the name.

However, the good news for Arabs living in the Netherlands came to me today: Radio Netherlands Worldwide resumed its broadcast in Arabic language from the 15'th of last month under the name "Here's Amsterdam". The broadcast can be received on radio, satellite, as well as on the internet on different times of the day. Information in Arabic and in English are also available on the site on times of broadcast. It is worth mentioning that Radio Netherlands Worldwide used to broadcast in Arabic for more than four decades but stopped in 1994. In addition, a number of professional presenters from various Arab countries, such as Iraq, Morocco, Libya, Sudan are working for this broadcast, to whom I personally wish them all the best with their work and effort.

Hilary Clinton Is The Next U.S. Secretary Of State

While Sudan finally began their celebrations for the winning of newly elected U.S. president, Barak Obama, because they just found out that the father of Mr. Obama is originally from a tribe who used to live in Sudan and migrated years later to Kenya. In fact they didn’t find out by themselves or through their genealogy sources, it is Obama who announced the roots of his ancestors through his new book that came out recently. Anyway, while Sudan is trying to catch up with the bandwagon and celebrate like other Arab states that showed opmitimisim after the outcome of these elections, Obama is going to announce today his new rescue team for the current credit crisis. For some it is a surprise to have Hilary Clinton as the new U.S. secretary of State - According to The New York Times that reported on Saturday that Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, had agreed to make public the names of more than 200,000 donors to his foundation as part of a deal with Obama to clear the way for his wife to become secretary of state. The newspaper said Clinton had decided to publish his contributor lists to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest with his wife's duties as secretary of state. However, it is no surprise having the current Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at the helm of defense. I think it is understandable to take such a decision, especially that Obama does not want to make mistakes in his next move regarding the re-deployment of the U.S. troops between Iraq and Afghanistan – having an already experienced man in the front would provide him with a better view. But, Hilary Clinton as head of U.S. foreign relations, this is something I am a bit skeptical about. Clinton is a very good politician, but she is a fighter, and a fighter has no place in diplomacy, thus she cannot be turned in one day to a diplomat. We all saw how she paved the way in front of her during the campaign. If we take into the consideration the current situation world wide: financial crisis where the U.S. will definitely seek help from foreign source - I don’t need to name any, Sarkozy is doing good; we have the conflict in the Middle-East, including or excluding Iraq from the formula; in addition to relations with Europe and Asia; and I forgot, we have now those pirates in Adan Sea who started to hunt for oil instead of just any sea carriers. No need to go into details but there are a lot, but above all is what Obama referred to as I call it the healing process of U.S. image in the world. Will Hillary Clinton be right person for this task; especially that she sometimes looks as a hardliner, something that is not accepted in the characteristic skills of a diplomat!

So the question that would remain unanswered is: what impact this appointment would make on the map in the Middle East? Things are already looks bad for many countries (these with or without any sort of political or economic crisis), so how Clinton would participate in shaping up the world map as the foreign minister of the most powerful country in the world? I wonder if Sudan would keep on celebrating if things turned bad! Would they disown their own boy who never knew them?

Picture image of Hilary Clinton is courtesy of Jeff Harter

Friday, November 28, 2008

New Advert of Chinese Democracy

Still under the influence of this great album, I found another advert of this album and thought of post it here :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Terminator: Salvation

I didn't think that another Terminator movie would come out. However the new one will be in theaters next year. Obviously, there is no Arnold Schwarzenegger in it, but the main role is played by Christian Bale, who is known for his great acting in blockbuster like Reign of Fire, Equilibrium, The Prestige and lastly we saw him putting Batman suit in The Dark Knight.

I don't know about the chances this movies has coming out around the same time another blockbuster hit the theaters, I mean the latest Star Trek movie, which looks promising from watching the trailers.

Anyway, we shall see, because trailers and posters can be deceiving, exactly like Egyptian drama these days.

Chinese Democracy

chinese.democracy.front This post is not about political stuff, “Chinese Democracy” is the latest album of American rock band Guns N' Roses, released on 23 November 2008. I did not listen to the leaked song became aware from the internet and media sources (the album was in the making for the last 15 years), so all the songs from this album is new to me, but before reading this post till the end, go to the nearest record shop and get this album.

The first and most noticeable thing on this album is the heavy use of orchestral compositions on this album, which fitted every song assigned to it. The 12 songs album begins with the self-titled, takes the listener to a place where Chinese is spoken by a number of people, then the main riff bitch in the middle until a doubled-voiced Axl Rose starts singing. Very powerful song that has a mesmerizing guitar solo in the middle part of it.

The wait is over, Guns N’ Roses is back

The second song “Shackler’s Revenge” is another fast and heavy song. It didn’t fit with my taste on the first listen, but the second listen to it proved me wrong. Check out the singing immediately after the stunning guitar solo part in the middle of song.

“Better” is a unusual song, one of my favorites from the album. Axl Rose singing on this heavy and powerful song is indeed the evidence why he is considered as one of the best rock vocalists ever. In addition, it is obvious that there is a lot of emphasize on different guitar work parts, more than on any other song on the album.

Here comes the orchestral arrangements: "street of dreams" starts with a piano flair through the whole song, but it interrupted gently by the heavy guitar riffs and the change in melody throughout the song. Amazing! The orchestral arrangements here reminds me of another “November Rain” with a twist of blend and with a better taste to it.

I had a big smile on my face while listening to 1970's style arrangement on "If The World". The song starts in a Spanish like percussion in a mid-tempo, just beautiful. I think the intention was to give a Spanish flavor to the song, check the classic guitar solo out at the end of the song, excellent.

"There was a Time" is the longest song on the album is a masterpiece, another song with a lot of string arrangements, in addition to wizardry work on guitar. Axl Rose shines on this song, I can't say other than that. My favorite song on this album.

The next song is “Catcher In The Rye”, a heavy mid-tempo tune based on excessive riffing all along and continuous soloing while singing with soft highlights on piano. Nice, but least favorite

“Scraped” starts with double or triple vocal harmonies for 20 seconds till a bunch in the face riff with a welcome-to-the-jungle-look-alike feel to it.

The next song is one of the fastest, "Riyadh N' The Bedouins" is a difficult song, in my opinion, a song of more than 4 minutes with beats and changes in scales. This another song Axl Rose where he is doing one of his best performances.

“Sorry” is the heaviest ballad and one of the longest songs on this album. Straight forward rock song, nice, but I didn’t see some special in it. By the way, rock vocalist Sebastian Bach sings backing vocals on this song.

Guns N' Roses did not forget the I.R.S on this album, the song is a dark and heavy tune that breaks into a couple of second semi-acoustic rhythm guitar to embark into another heavy riffing with a med-tempo and beat.

The string arrangements with some horns background are the main elements on next song “Madagascar”. The middle part of the song includes Martin Luther King speech with a solo guitar and heavy string arrangements in the background. The distinguished thing on this song is the way Axl is singing

It is like Queensryche’s, Geof Tate who is singing on “This I love”. This was my first impression when I that song began. It is a ballad melody: with no drums till after 3 minutes of strings in the background, piano and guitar/bass all through.

The second longest song on this album is the last one, “prostitute”. Fast, heavy, and very strong lyrics. This song is the most complex song among all the songs, the variation in the building up of the song is just beautiful.

There is nothing more to be said, this is album is excellent. It is enjoyable, it is heavy and powerful, and it carries high level of musicianship.

Songs List

Song Music Length
Chinese Democracy

Rose, Josh Freese


Shackler's Revenge

Rose, Brian Carroll (Buckethead), Caram Costanzo, Bryan Mantia, Pete Scaturro


Rose, Robin Finck


Street of Dreams Rose, Tommy Stinson, Dizzy Reed 4:46
If the World Rose, Chris Pitman 4:54
There Was a Time Rose, Paul Tobias, Reed 6:41
Catcher in the Rye Rose, Tobias 5:52

Rose, Costanzo, Carroll

Riad n' the Bedouins Rose, Stinson 4:10
Sorry Rose, Carroll, Mantia, Scaturro 6:14
I.R.S Rose, Tobias, Reed 4:28
Madagascar Rose, Pitman 5:37
This I Love


Prostitute Rose, Tobias 6:15

Band Members:

  • Axl Rose – lead vocals (all tracks), backing vocals (track 7), keyboards (tracks 1, 6, 13), guitar (tracks 6 and 12), Producer
  • Robin Finck – lead guitar (all tracks), backing vocals, keyboards (tracks 3, 5)
  • Bumblefoot – lead guitar (all tracks)
  • Richard Fortus – rhythm guitar (tracks 1, 3, 4, 6, 14), backing vocals
  • Tommy Stinson – bass guitar (all tracks except 5), backing vocals
  • Dizzy Reed – keyboards, piano, percussion, backing vocals
  • Frank Ferrer – drums, percussion (tracks 1, 3, 5, 6, 11)
  • Bryan Mantia – drums, percussion (all tracks except 1)
  • Chris Pitman – synthesizer, programming; bass (tracks 5, 6, 12)
Former members who are featured
  • Buckethead – lead guitar (all tracks except 7, 13)
  • Paul Tobias – rhythm guitar (all tracks except 2, 8, 13)

Additional musicians
  • Sebastian Bach – backing vocals (track 10 - “Sorry”)
  • Bob Ludwig – Final CD Mastering @ Gateway Mastering Studios, Inc. in Portland, ME
  • Patti Hood – harp (track 13)
  • Marco Beltrami – orchestral arrangement
  • Paul Buckmaster – orchestral arrangement
  • Pete Scaturro – keyboards (track 10)

Link to information on “Chinese Democracy”

TV Spot of Chinese Democracy

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Husband & Wife At Work Place

I don't believe it is wise to have a husband and his wife working in the same company, the same department, that would be more dangerous, because as some say "problems at work will be taken home with that husband and wife."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Change in Europe, In New Europe

I read today an interesting article on Nicolas Sarkozy titled “Sarkozy stamps his authority on world affairs” by Ahto Lobjakas. The article starts with identifying the French president as being “unique in the uncompromising manner in which he has directed France's EU presidency from the front.” Taking into account recent moves the French president took regarding the conflict and later the military confrontation between Russia and Georgia, or his opinion on the U.S. missile-defense shield hosted by the Polish and Czech, in addition to the attitude towards the US that took another turn recently. But what I find it more interesting is the articles view on French-German relations, namely, the author is arguing that Germany's Merkel ability to deal with the Russian question: “ Germany is known to back Sarkozy's general course for rapprochement with Russia, although the French president's unbridled ambition is a cause for concern in Berlin.” “Traditionally, Germany is looking to play a balancing role within the EU and the wider region. Writing in the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" on November 14, one of the German daily's publishers, Guenther Nonnemacher, said the West -- the EU and the United States -- must continue to engage Russia. Much more than France, Germany appears to be worried about the future of the disarmament regimes affecting Europe after the United States withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002 and Russia suspended its participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty in 2007.”

This reminds me of the confrontation between former U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld and German foreign minister then, Joschka Fischer back in 2003 when Rumsfeld branded European countries that did not support the 2003 invasion of Iraq, specifically France and Germany by calling them “Old Europe”. I am never considered Donald Rumsfeld as being a clairvoyant, but he was right, a new Europe was born. However, it is either he missed that prediction part when he thought that change is not needed in the United States, and that his neo-conservative movement would last forever, at least till it reach its goals. On both sides of the continent there are those who are looking for a change: it is has been proven when Americans choose for Barack Obama. In fact, the whole world is going through changes, political change I mean; there are some countries where regime are resisting such change because it would harm the purpose of their existence, and there are countries who are already took brave steps into changing the course of their political path. Lets take Australia, for example, I realize that problems with the aboriginals still long to be solved, but would the apology by Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd can be counted as the first step towards that promised change, by extending and offering reconciliation among people of the same country?

There is an wind of change that approaching the whole world, and not only Europe or the United States. There is a different scent in the air, with a flavor of a demand for changing old habits and outdated political attitude. Old school politics needs to go through a process of transformation, to be substituted by a new one. I guess the hide-and-seek between Italy Berlusconi and Germany Merkel would be the only thing left to laugh about, because there are changes in the political scene in Europe – they are still clanging by searching a way to save Alitalia (by negotiating the merge with Lufthansa) i.e. by looking separately into one issue while in fact it is part of a bigger problem within the collective financial system in Europe. The approach by the two leaders has no use anymore, a new political approach is needed. I won’t comment on the approach the German foreign ministry too by prohibiting the broadcast of Lebanese Hizballah, only that it is another expired approach to deal with foreign policy issues. There are new faces in the field, sitting and waiting for their role to be called, their assignment and strategy is ready for implementation. Sarkozy is not the first of those new faces, though, Vladimir Poetin is one of the first of those young, energetic magicians. The difference between Sarkozy and Poetin is that the latter like to play his tricks while watching the public with perspective, though. Nicolas Sarkozy is different from the Russian counterpart; the French president is like another wizard with lots of magical tricks in his pockets. He took people attention by surprise many times because of his fast moves, in France and abroad, some of his tricks brought him success, applause then stardom. At the end and in a very short time he managed to bring back France as a powerful player in the world, surpassing the United States who stumbled in its own foreign policy. The French president made his words heard, managed to cross some what is considered by some old-school politics as red-lines, given examples of his latest maneuvers on the financial crisis (check his speech in Strasbourg on this issue).

There is no doubt that this change taking place in Europe came as a result of seeing the sole super power launching illegal war, a war that was based on lies, that caused hundreds of thousands of killings and as much as it is of homeless Iraqis inside and outside the country. The Europeans watched the U.S. stuck in the Iraqi mud. Without pulling the plug entirely on the already damaged transatlantic relations (it won’t happen, impossible to cut ties like that with a historic ally) European politicians in their respective countries were anxious, especially that common European citizens became too agitated by U.S. policy (as a result common Americans and their reputation abroad was also at stake), this means that European leaders were to find a way to keep a balance to this difficult formula: this was one of the reasons change was essential and a new Europe was born. The winning of Barack Obama in the U.S. presidential elections helped in speeding up the matter and to take a wider look - this can be seen in different speeches and announcements by European leaders and politicians – even to criticize more openly the past and illustrate the consequences and who to blame.

Will this change be challenged? yes, it will, furiously, by whom? Is there a chance that this change can back-fire on those who want it to be successful? yes, but how? A clear answer would be found when a a solution for the current financial crisis is found, and from there change will be faster than anything else this continent has ever witnessed.

Not A Good Work Situation

A couple of months ago the company I work for decided to make the building smokefree. They removed all smoking booths in the different floors so the only option is to either smoke outside at the main gate of the building or go to the parking lot where a smoking corner has been setup.

I know that the attempt by those who made such a decision was to promote the idea of quit smoking and minimize the complaints by non-smokers, but the situation does not look good. All smokers now should go outside or to the parking lot, it is extremely cold and today is snowing, many would catch a cold and maybe stay at home because of the flu. The result? less people would go to work and production is affected.

And don't suggest that we quit smoking

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Color of My Mood

Can someone relates his or her mood to a certain color?

Today, mine is dark green, no one ask me why, because it is just a feeling

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Halal Media

ethnic_main I opened my Facebook page and found an invitation to join the Halal-TV! What is that? It is a Swedish TV talk-show presented by three young women wearing colorful headscarf (or Hijab). The show, according to its makers, is meant to show how the three women view their Swedish homeland through the lens of their Muslim beliefs. Halal, by the way, is an Arabic term meaning permissible and mostly used to refer to food, but some extend that to include other things. The first episode of that show broadcast has already created a lot of controversy among Swedes.

When I saw the picture of the three young women from Halal TV, I thought immediately of our own experience in the Netherlands with this type of media: Last year there was a similar show called Halal Maiden, which also presented by three young women (of Moroccan origin) in colorful headscarf, discussing many issues, but mainly its all about the integration of Muslims in Dutch society.

I don’t know if it is the same production company is behind both shows!

I am not against headscarf. In fact I consider headscarf as a matter of self-expression; I see it as a social symbol rather than religious. I perceive the headscarf or the hijab the same way as I see a Nigerian woman wearing her gele or an Indian young woman putting saris on. I don't judge someone’s belief by the way they dress: It happened to me that I meet a person on a certain social occasion, and that person is wearing a very elegant suit or dressed so nicely that make all around keep looking at him, but after a few minutes of conversation with that person I excuse him and go to the toilet, throw up my lungs out because of disgust. Having said that, my objection against having a TV show with three beautiful young woman wearing hijab is not meant to be against hijab as it is against the concept of making specific program or talk-show that target certain people or certain social community under the name of “ the effort to address the issue of integration” . The definition of integration is “ The bringing of people of different racial or ethnic groups into unrestricted and equal association, as in society or an organization “. Would a weekly TV show like the Halal girls help to achieve the definition of integration? In my opinion it would achieve the opposite: a Dutch woman would watch the show and either she like it or not. Exactly like watching any local TV show, Dutch or Swedish, or even American spoken.

Before I continue, again, I don’t want to be misunderstood, I don’t mean to offend any of the two shows or say that the six girls are bad. On the contrary, I enjoyed the Dutch version, especially their argument and the way they approach the different aspects in society – some of them are very funny and I compliment the young ladies for their talent.

There are specific programs for specific communities, such as the Nederlandse Muslim Omroep or the Joodse Omrope, both are broadcast once a week on Dutch TV. What is the purpose of such TV programs? they were made to address different issues related to specific communities living and working in the Netherlands based on their religious belief. It also bring awareness the non-Muslim and non-Jewish. The Halal ladies show can be put in the same category. They are nothing but an introduction to another culture and their activities. Nothing more, nothing less. Bring people of different racial or ethnic background can be achieved the other way around: I have to meet people from another culture, I have to talk to men and women from different ethnic group, and I have to learn about their habits, rituals, and the things they like and dislike. With this, acceptance will be easier, and rejection would not be a barrier in the development of society. I didn’t watch Kurdish or Assyrian talk shows, for example, to learn how to go along with them and to deal with the way they see things. I made contact; talked Christians and Turkmans on the street, in shops, in social occasions, at school, in the neighborhood next to mine. From there I made friendship with men and women, families and individuals, by becoming more selective.

Those who say that there are problems coming from immigrants because they don’t understand the values and principles of the country they live in, for that reason there is a lot of focus on displaying how those immigrants live is part of the solution to integrate those people into Dutch society. By the way, it is known that Dutch society is one of the most tolerant societies in the whole world. This is entirely true, it is less than years ago, yet, it still exist in wide range around the country, and that has its reasons, mainly fear. For that reason people like Geert Wilders took that opportunity successfully and managed to get more than one million votes in the last elections.

I love colors, nowadays every single society consists of colors formed and shaped by its different ethnic groups and cultural backgrounds. However, it is like a painting, there are some colors for some is conceived as being out of shape and context, but the smart artist can adjust this. How? many Dutch ask how? many immigrants ask how? the answer consists of: first to focus more on how to accept each other, as long as there is acceptance from both sides, the mixture of colors will definitely be easier and the end result will be a master-piece. The second is to focus less, much less, on negativity in dealing with problems here and there caused by immigrants (not saying ignore them, but deal with them differently). The media is not the ultimate solution to bring people together in reality. The media will make the concept of acceptance harder to be digested by many, because the media will be the only means to know about that culture or ethnic group – the media topics are a series of messages addresses certain consumers at a certain time of the day and the night, and like any sort of messages, there are the bad and the good ones. Unless the Halal-maiden can be seen in office and universities as colleagues; Partners in one club or on a trip somewhere; in hospitals as doctors; or onsite as engineers, the media will be the only means to form the nature of relationship among citizens. It is not difficult to achieve this, especially if we forget that behind that headscarf or saris or gele there might be a great mind / personality able to contribute in making the neighborhood, school, workplace, and the whole society a better place to live in.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Apologies on Bush's Behalf

On September 22, 2006 I wrote a post on how George W Bush owes the world an apology for everything he has done during his two term presidency. Today I read an article on the independent written by British journalist and political analyst Robert Fisk where he echoed my words but in different context. He started the article with US intelligence reports and gave an example of these report about a possible kamikaze-style air attack on a US navy base at a south Pacific island location. The only problem was that no such navy base existed on the island and no US Seventh Fleet warship had ever been there. In all seriousness, a US military investigation earlier reported that Osama bin Laden had been spotted shopping at a post office on a US military base in east Asia. The point Robert Fisk wanted to make by putting forward such examples was to illustrate the kind of mess Barak Obama inherited from his predecessor. He asks "how is Barack Obama going to repair the titanic damage which his vicious, lying predecessor has perpetrated around the globe and within the US itself?"

Fisk wrote that:
Obama has got to close Guantanamo. He's got to find a way of apologising to the world for the crimes of his predecessor, not an easy task for a man who must show pride in his country; but saying sorry is what – internationally – he will have to do if the "change" he has been promoting at home is to have any meaning outside America's borders. He will have to re-think – and deconstruct – the whole "war on terror". He will have to get out of Iraq. He will have to call a halt to America's massive airbases in Iraq, its $600m embassy. He will have to end the blood-caked air strikes we are perpetrating in southern Afghanistan – why, oh, why do we keep slaughtering wedding parties? – and he will have to tell Israel a few home truths: that America can no longer remain uncritical in the face of Israeli army brutality and the colonisation for Jews and Jews only on Arab land. Obama will have to stand up at last to the Israeli lobby (it is, in fact, an Israeli Likud party lobby) and withdraw Bush's 2004 acceptance of Israel's claim to a significant portion of the West Bank. US officials will have to talk to Iranian officials – and Hamas officials, for that matter. Obama will have to end US strikes into Pakistan – and Syria.

In this case, Mr Fisk is suggesting that Obama would not only clean up the mess, but also take the responsibility of standing in front of the whole world and apologize on Bush's behalf.

However, Fisk has his doubts:

But Obama's not going to be able to make the break. He wants to draw down in Iraq in order to concentrate more firepower in Afghanistan. He's not going to take on the lobby in Washington and he's not going to stop further Jewish colonisation of the occupied territories or talk to Israel's enemies. With AIPAC supporter Rahm Emanuel as his new chief of staff – "our man in the White House", as the Israeli daily Maariv called him this week – Obama will toe the line. And of course, there's the terrible thought that bin Laden – when he's not shopping at US military post offices – may be planning another atrocity to welcome the Obama presidency.

After reading the article, I felt sorry for Barak Obama, there are high expectations of him to make the real change by the whole world, and not only by the US people - one can check a number of Iraqi bloggers and how they expressed their happiness to the result of the US elections last week. I hope there won't be any regrets by Mr. Obama after some time when he finds out that the burden is bigger than anyone would think or imagine.

By the way, I didn't know that a new US legislation will be issued by the Bush administration soon that would ensure that all British citizens will no longer be able to visit America without special security clearance.

full article here.

Dante's Inferno Test

The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to Purgatory!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very High
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Moderate
Level 2 (Lustful)High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Very Low
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Moderate
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)Low
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante's Divine Comedy Inferno Test

Thanks to Minx, that was fun.


What is the solution when your child of two keep on crying? he or she might be ill? but some say that this child is in the process of shaping up personality. I give an example: when a child want your mobile phone but at the same time you are expecting a phone call at any time. You try your best to take the phone from your child, the child starts with screaming, crying, kicking, and tears begins to come out of the little beautiful eyes that would break your heart!

What shall a father or a mother do? Shout back? be strict and take the mobile phone at any cost (let the child cry forever)? what a father or a mother should do?

Life's Core

Lifes Core is a blog I have been browsing through among other blogs today. One thing I can describe that blog: peace. The color, the subjects, the content of the blog, all gave me some peaceful and simplicity feeling to it. In fact, that blog reflected some sensitive personality that is combined with emtional character. I might be wrong, but this was my impression while reading through the different posts and looking at the pictures aligned with each post.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Elissa3 Her name is Elissa, a very famous singer from Lebanon. People started to know her when she appeared on a duet with super star Lebanese singer, Ragheb Alama, in 2000 – according to Elissa, she was already reached fame before appearing on that white linen video clip. She made 6 albums, appeared in different advertisements and commercials, such as for Pepsi a couple of times, and for a jewelry business. In addition, she held a performance at the pyramids of Egypt as the opening act for British superstar Sting. She was also the only Arabic artist to perform in front of the former U.S President Bill Clinton at the Stars Charity show in Dubai, where among other guests present were Queen Rania of Jordan and the Crown Prince of Dubai, Cheikh Mohamed Bin Rachid al Maktoum. Her stardom reached to another level at the end of 2002 when she inaugurated the opening of Kuwait's Virgin Megastore with Sir Richard Branson, the founder of the famous stores. Finally, the success of Elissa has been included in the book '100 Pioneers of Lebanon' alongside Lebanese music legends such as Fairouz and Wadih el Safi, according to Wikipedia.

A couple of days ago MBC satellite channel broadcast showed a concert of Elissa from 2007, but before talking about that I want to give some background information on Arabic music nowadays: Most of, if not all Arab musicians/singers record their albums using digital (or virtual) instruments in addition to live musicians, and with the advanced technology of synthesizers they can make great quality mixed and produced albums. For that reason, to me, watching a live concert of any singer is like going through the ultimate test: either that singer proves to be good on stage and deserve the title of a super star; or to consider that singer pathetic, where he or she would have no option but to keep failing musically and on stage in front of their fans or those watching him on TV. Some of those horrible performers (shame to call them singers in the first place) create a sort of a status que to let the audience accept them with such failure. With a lot of money being poured on such people, by consider them some commercial product that would gain a lot of profit through their image rather than their musical quality, they would remain to be seen on TV talk shows, their songs would be played every single hour daily on Radio stations, and their photoshop-manipulated pictures would be on the covers of magazines for years to come. Elissa is one of those samples.

I watched Elissa live on TV a number of times before… two conclusions: First, Elissa does not know how to sing; second, Elissa does not have any presence on stage.

The concert I watched on MBC a couple of days ago did not make any change in opinion: As it is the case with most of her live concerts; Elissa came out from back stage wearing a long elegant party dress with an eye-popping cleavage (her ultimate weapon – well, maybe this time it was a bit bigger than previous times!) She walked with the same look on her face: absorbed, lost in some thoughts far away from time and place… or shall I better describe it as a look of a dump? She stopped in the middle of the stage, nervous, maybe worried? Suddenly, as if she remembered something and before it was too late she turned her head to the right to greet the maestro who was conducting the group of musicians playing her songs on each side of the stage. During the whole concert Elissa did not have any interaction with the public, except for a few cold smiles here and there. She was most generous with the bearded maestro where she exchanged smiles and gestures. Oh yes, to be entirely fair: she exchanged smiles with the chorus standing in the dark at one end of the stage.

On every intro of every song she bursts into a deafening “aaaaaahhhhh” with eyes closed and mouth wide open – is she trying to tune her voice with the music melody played in the background? Or is this became another dump habit of hers? It can happen once, twice, but not with every intro on every song she begins whining and moaning loud as if to give a fake impression of being deeply emotional when hearing that melody.

I don’t think that having the flu made me so agitated by Elissa’s voice that night, because all who were sitting in the same room with me were became extremely upset with such joke.

Truth hurts: Her face was not of a very happy person (or shall I say hidden rage) during an interview on Elissa5 MBC’s celebrity talk-show, Al Arrab (The Godfather) when asked by host, Neshan Der Haroutiounian, when he told her “According to critics, when someone listen to an album by Elissa, it is depicted as some gorgeous bride on her wedding day; all pretty with the most beautiful dress and everything, and people listen with joy to your voice … on stage it is another story… after some half an hour of singing live some critics put your voice in the category of those singing out of tone, and other critics refer this to some poor or limited ability to sing in the first place.” Elissa’s admitted that “in the past I used to sing because I like to sing, and I used to go out-of-tone… I do that because I couldn’t listen to my own voice when singing… and it is not only me, all singers do that” A super star, as she claims, the second richest female signer in the Arab world (from sales of her albums) is saying that she is still learning how to get over the fact that she is tone deaf?

A lot of critics I read on the Internet or while watching TV about the deteriorating status of Arabic music, compare to the old days when the focus on music as a prestigious art used to be the highest priority, rather than focusing on the boobs and curves of female singers. Again, don’t want to be misunderstood, there are good female singers around, take Yara, for example, I didn’t like her last album but still love to attend her concerts or watch her on TV, why? I watch her and enjoy her music, because I feel that Yara is righteous to her music, and to her fans, to say the least. If Elissa can read this post, maybe it is useful to take a look and learn from this guy, how to stay on the same melody without going out-of-tone.

I started this post mentioning Ragheb Alama, just for the information; there is a guitarist in his band, a big man with light beard and moustache playing a red and white Fender Stratocaster. That guitarist plays very good, my compliments goes to him. He used to be the guitarist in Elissa’s band some years ago, and I watched him beautifully playing Elissa’s songs in different live performance on TV. Speaking of TV, would like to thank MBC, because since the end of Ramadan and on every night the past week, this TV station gave me the opportunity to watch a number of concerts of different Arab singers and musicians. I liked the concert of Lebanese female singer, Nancy Ajram. I can’t say that I enjoyed it 100% because the overall sound of the band playing (except for Nancy’s microphone) was extremely low and too much echoed. I don’t know if the acoustics on that venue was the right place for music shows, or is it the fault of those filming the show: no experience on how to mix the sound well and bring it right for TV viewers! However, I am not a fan of Ajram, but her new band, led by the great Basim Rizq (this man is a genies) did a wonderful and enjoyable performance.

Back to Elissa, in 1992, Elissa was still seeking for fame, so she participated under the name “Allisar” in Studio Al Fan, a sort of Super Star broadcasted on Lebanese TV in the 1990s. Elissa was asked about the most important factors for a singer to be always remembered by his fans. Her answer was “first of all the voice; second is good presence when going live on stage; third is good performance; finally musical knowledge. “ This is very sad; because I don’t see any of the four apply to this singer in a way or another. My suggestion is to focus and stick to one sort of performance; she did that on the Mission Fasion 2007 show. Another suggestion: I beg you, Elissa, please don’t sing covers of old Arabic songs; you butchered the whole melody from start to end.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Not fully fit, but I am OK. Freaking out dear ones and friends is not something I wanted to happen. It is just that since I came back from Syria and until this very moment I am not feeling healthy at all; Running nose, coughing, headache, every single bone of my body is aching big time, and taking lots of amounts of medicine.

According to the doctor, this is the time of the year in this country where a lot of people get such a killer cold/ flue.

You see the poor guy in the picture, well, I don't have the same look on my face, but I have the same feeling.

Facebook: Blocked From Adding More Friends

This post is not about bashing Facebook or something, It seems that I am not the only one, Gula is one of those having problem adding more people to his profile. Everytime I try to add a new friend I receive the message about approaching the limit for adding freinds!

My problem is worse, because Gula has over 450 friends, while I only have above 80!!!!!!!

Does Facebook believe in the say: Be selective in making friends with others?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Abbey's Random Thoughts Of Life

One of the things I missed for some time now is the new blog of Gale, under the name "Abbey's Random Thoughts Of Life". The new blog is already for sometime online, and as usual interesting enough to spend so much time reading through the deep insight these posts carry. The new blog is more focused on Gale as a person, on her past and current life. I was sad when I knew two weeks ago that she decided to stop, but that didn't last for so long and I am pleased to see new posts published, with new energy and look into the different issues. In addition to this blog, she is working on other blogs and sites, such as this one.

The original blog still online, still fun to read, but no new posts have been put there.

I am back

BLOG I know it, I have been neglecting my blog, but for no reason other than my deteriorating health since I came back from Syria, plus the ton of things I have to arrange at home, and at work. I already have a number of posts written about my trip to Syria, but didn’t have the chance to publish them since my return home. They can be read here and here and here

Thanks to everyone who kept on asking on me, and to all Muslims everywhere I wish all happy Eid.

Elvis Presley in Amsterdam

ElvisPresleyPosterC11791410 A group of Dutch hackers posted a video posted on ("THC" purportedly stands for "The Hacker's Choice") of an unseen person slips what appears to be a standard-issue European Union passport into a self-scanner at Schiphol Airport outside Amsterdam.

The screen pops up with the bearer's information: Elvis Aaron Presley, U.S. national, born Jan. 8, 1935, complete with photo and passport ID number.

No alert is raised; the passport's authenticity is not questioned; the fact that a physical European passport seems to be an American one electronically doesn't seem to matter.

Want to do it yourself? The hackers detail the steps, and provide source code, on the same Web page the video's posted on. Full article here.

Sarah Palin: Bad Disney Movie

This is the view of Actor Matt Damon on the U.S. V.P. candidate Sarh Palin. Why there are so many people dislike that woman? Why Europe want Obama to be the next U.S. president - well, those Dutch female politicians might be an exception, but there is a feeling of fear from a reality where McCain and Palin winning elections!

I wonder if awareness among Americans (including celebrities such as Damon) is now bigger than before that the country wants someone who could really make changes and not amend to the mistakes of the past.

Sunflower Seeds in Schiphol

SunflowerSeeds,RawInShell I thought of my trip to Syria would become special when I saw this:

I and the rest of the passengers traveling to Syria were waiting for the call to board the airplane. I looked opposite me to the right a caught my attention the silver with black plastic seat; the whole floor around and underneath the seat was covered with the remains of sunflower seeds. It was early in the morning, I was not happy with the fact that it was so early and no cleaning was done in an international airport like Schiphol! I turned my full attention again to the book I just bought from the airport (the story of Google), but the dirty empty chair was intriguing me, so I kept looking at the piles of sunflower seeds shells every few seconds. Another two minutes or three passed before I saw a man walking passing me and have a seat on the same chair. He was a man in his late forties, wearing light brown sandals, a brownish jacket, and a milky blue trousers (what color was it? I don’t know anymore whether these trousers were so dirty that I thought of its color blue turned to milky?). His look was of a very careless man, someone who looks too lazy even to reach out for his hand bag that was put on the floor. To my astonishment I figured out the puzzle: that man was taking sunflower seeds out of his jacket pockets, put into his mouth, crack them with his front teeth, and spit the shells out carelessly to the floor – even some of these remains were stuck on his shirt and jacket collars.

It was one of the two: that man was so bored to care or he was too nervous; because the moment all passengers were called to go to the airplane, he jumped up from his chair and went in a turbo speed of light towards the gate.

Syria in 2008

This is not my first trip to Syria; I have relatives living in the north of the country, in the coastal city of Lattakia. One thing I cannot argue about Syria in general is the beauty of this country, with its different elevations; green vast areas to the north stretching to the border with Turkey and along the coast line; huge desert to the east that reaches the western borders with Iraq, and the various hills and rocky areas to the south of the capital Damascus.

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In addition, no one can ignore how this country is one of the richest countries with its historic heritage spread in different areas and provinces. However, travelers can notice the economic hardship, which made it difficult for the country to rise among the most top tourist places in the world. Economic difficulties in the country obviously made its painful impact on its people, especially on this trip, this time, with prices risen triple in a very short time. There is an obvious gap between the poor and the rich (look at the cars on the streets and the models people drive). Compare this one to previous visits I could see improvements in some aspects of life for the ordinary people, but the pace of such improvement is extremely slow. The streets of Lattakia are cleaner than before; Police men are more into their work in organizing traffic on the streets, especially during traffic jams - different from the past experiences when a policeman stops you for no reason and end up putting some money in his hand while arguing to get rid of him. Ah, I almost forget, the police force there is very serious on stopping car drivers and fine them if they were found without seat belts on; a lot of housing projects with very beautiful design have been built; ATM machines in cities became more common, maybe not for all people, but I saw people queuing to get their money from one machine on one of the main streets in Lattakia. However, there is one thing that did not change since my first visit to this city: the look on the faces of salesmen when a stranger like me enters a shop. It requires some long 10 minutes to finally make that salesman/woman smile and give an impression of loosing tension! This became a common thing to me, it bothered me before, especially that there are some shop owners or workers or salesmen who really need some lessons on how to do marketing and how to deal with the client or the customer. Yet, this doesn’t mean that people there are not friendly; on the contrary, they are very friendly and help foreigners when they see one in need.

Anyway, upon arrival I didn’t stay in the capital Damascus except for a couple of hours, visited some friends and proceeded to Lattakia at around 10PM – arrived around 2AM there. This time I decided to rent a car and not depend on taxis while I am in the city, or call the usual taxi agency to take me to other places. I rented a Peugeot 206, which I think it was an Iranian version of that model in the market. I proved those people wrong, those who told me that it is impossible for a person who lives in Europe to drive in Syria. It was indeed challenging, though, in a sense, learning the “snake-method” of driving through cars like the taxi drivers, for example: there is no discipline with road-lanes, suddenly you notice a small yellow taxi (mostly are two cylindered-motors Daewoo model) slowly like a snake moving through in the middle and cut the street to the other lane. Traffic jam in the different main areas in the city of course is horrible, and when this happen some chaotic symphony starts; played by drivers blowing their cars horns from all directions.

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Religion is irrelevant in Syria, not meaning in the negative sense of the word, but Syria is free from committing its people into complying with the rules of the majority i.e. Muslims. I heard that people get jailed in United Arab Emirates if they were caught smoking in their cars during Ramadan! This was not the case in Syria. I could see Syria like “old” Iraq regarding the diversity of its population; consists of many and many ethnic and religious groups. In Lattakia and its surroundings, there are the major Sunni groups, there is also a big Christian community located in certain neighborhoods, such as “The Americani” neighborhood (very beautiful neighborhood). There are also other religious groups, like the Druz, al Murshediyah (link in Arabic), and the Alawyeen communities – the latter compose the majority of the population living in villages and little towns surrounding Lattakia and their presence stretches further to the north of the country and across the borders inside Turkey. For that reason, one can see when going out those who wear traditional custom, such as men with the turban or the typical Shami large trousers, and the opposite to that can also be observed: there are those who are obsessed with the latest hype in fashion and mode, such as girls wearing 12cm high heel shoes and tight jeans. I was delighted to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan while I was there. However, I was astonished to find out that there were a number of shops open in the main market, but I was more surprised to see restaurants open and people can drink or eat (or smoking a cigarette) during the day. Not all the shops are open in Ramadan, though, but the peak in the market usually begins after the Iftar (sunset time) where walking or driving around becomes almost extremely difficult.

Another thing NO one can argue about Syria is the Food, especially starters (or what is called Mezza), such as Tabouleh, Homous, Kibbe, Babaghanoush, Kibbe Nayye, Shanklish, Fattoush, Soujouk …etc Still, all the above would not be compare to the delicious mixed grills they have in their restaurants. By the way, I never noticed that Pepsi became available until this visit to Syria, I might be wrong, but I remember that only local-soft drinks allowed to be sold in shops. In addition, I was surprised to see Pepsi became an official sponsor of a number of local TV shows.

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Speaking of TV and the media, to me it was more than obvious the level of bad relations between Syria and Saudi Arabia has reached (especially on private Syrian channels like Dunya TV). That was one direction the media is focusing on daily. Another focus by the media is something regularly been taken care of: the relationship with Lebanon. I was in Syria when French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, visited the country, and how the media kept on for days full coverage on every event and every aspect of that visit – I was surprised, though, and still is, when I didn’t see the Syrian president receiving his guest at Damascus airport. Instead it was the Syrian foreign minister, Walid al-Muallem who was waiting for the French president at the end of the airplane-stairs. Speaking of the media leads to talk about the internet: the Internet in Syria is censored heavily by the government. Internet café is the only place where I could get reasonable internet speed. These internet café is not limited to boys or men only, I have been to internet café’s where young girls and women either browsing the World Wide Web, or talking to their relatives using mic and webcams, or search and apply for jobs. By the way, there are internet services for home users available and offered by the main telecommunication companies over there, but it is very expensive for ordinary people apart from the fact that it is extremely slow and not reliable.

Like on every visit, I won’t let a chance without going to one of my favorite places in Syria, Slenfeh. It is a tourist location, approximately 45 minutes drive north of Lattakia. Some considered it as the highest location in all Syria where nature and fun are combined together. The tourist complexes over there did not change that much since last visit, but Slenfeh is expanding rapidly because of the new villas and vacation-apartments been built in different places on the edges of the mountains there. Many people go to this place because many consider it as an escape pod from the bloody heat and humidity in Lattakia. The prices of goods and costs of food at restaurants in Slenfeh are much higher than in any other place – funny that there are much cheaper restaurants on the outskirts of Slenfeh!

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That trip provided me with many aspects of relaxation: I needed change; those who know me personally can confirm how much a hard working person like me deserved some time off from everything related to my daily life. I managed to have long hours sleep, very long hours – I can’t recall when was the last time in my life I did sleep for so long. In addition, going out in the evening and stay late at café’s was also fun, drinking Arabic coffee while modern and classic Arabic is playing in the background – some of café’s and restaurants owners took advantage of some TV shows or movies by putting pictures and posters of their favorite celebrities

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I wondered a number of times if it was worth staying longer in Syria, not thinking of how many days I can take days off from work, but I thought that the time I spent there was justified. I came back from Syria three weeks ago. I got a cold immediately one day after arrival, I am recovering, but very slow, I think it also has to do with the change in weather here? Well, maybe this is true, especially that summer did not visit the low lands this year.