December 30, 2008

Scoot drive for Gaza...

For those planning to participate in the Gaza drive arranged by 7iber and the Action committee; but find themselves strangled with time, I'm dedicating two of my company's delivery scooters to collect whatever you intend to send and we'll make the arrangement for the drop-off at the Cozmo location before 8:00 pm free of charge.

Please call us at 06-553-5249, SMS at 07-4543-2101 or email as at scooterexpress[at]wi-tribe[dot]jo

November 05, 2008

For what’s worth & beyond the touch-screen displays

It’s 2am Amman time, and I just managed to unplug myself from the TV, saturated with the touch-screen displays that each news channel was demonstrating as if it’s a TV first or an unprecedented novelty with all the blunt references to them by news anchors; though credit is due to those who worked on the graphics, content and presentation, otherwise here’s my take before the actual results are out so I can brag about it later:

Despite this overwhelming feeling that we’re witnessing history in the making, my mind is as much hesitant as it is it is vigilant of being caught in such moment, because frankly I believe in two contradicting turn of events (an act of doublethink): that the winning of Obama is as plausible as a sudden & unpredictable Armageddon out of the blue (not the eventuality of such event just its suddenness) that will stall the united states.

And the other is that his winning will forever stipulate (oozing with drama) the notion of the ”American dream” being of a scale that truly allows any determinant man or woman (from any background) to meet their aspirations and fulfill their ambitions even if it was becoming the president of the entity itself, something I find myself in envy of as much as I find myself applauding from some odd and somewhat cosmopolitan perspective that I can’t actually fathom how I ended up with!

In all cases, I think something will happen that will not either of the above to happen, be it a glitch in the computerized voting stations, an after hours recount, an underground world government intervention at last minute, south American illegal immigrants are neutralized given the chance to register and vote in a matter of 3 hours making use of the 3 time zones difference to swing Calerfonia with its 50x weight over other states on deciding who will be the next man or whatever that is.

And would someone please explain who are the candidates who fit in the "others" category that some interesting Americans managed to get themselves to vote for, are they many or is it just Ralf Nader? Because if it is, why isn’t he referred to by name? And what’s behind the reports about some European agencies monitoring the elections claiming to be sort of boxed or crippled by officials?

News stories will be changed, websites will be pulled, Wikipedia entries will be modified thousands time before one can fix himself a cup of instant noodles, so I won’t bother hyper linking anything to this entry, I know I can capture the page in full, but I can’t be bothered as my authenticity will be questioned for the obvious reason that captured material (including screen grabs) are editable, not that I have the technical competence nor the tools to do either, in all cases it’s almost 3am, and I’m recovering from a serious fever and infection, and I just want to vent off and leave those words
for what’s it’s worth.

McCain will be winning despite the winning of Obama, something will happen, in the same size of event if Obama was actually to win and "sustain" his victoy, the history we’re about to witness will probably be yet another in-your-face-and-no-one-will-utter-a-word- type of event were we will silently swallow McCain’s victory like what happened in 2000 and 2004…

Think the sudden fall of Baghdad in the US invasion, the illogical disappearance of Al-Qaeda and Bin-Laden without a big fuss about him and other events that folds and unfolds without much attention despite their sheer size!

Otherwise I will prove wrong, Obama wins, and I will start digging that camo-shelter I always thought necessary and complete my survival gear set, because I know that my radical self will not stop of thinking that we’re truly living in the age were change can be materialized by regular people who are willing to take extreme measures at extreme times (a definition of extremism I once read or heard).

A victorious Obama will be a motivational tale of ambition as far as i'm concerend, but the winning of either candidate will be continuem of the same story of single-pole world of America with the same line of foreign politicies (beside issues such as Iraq that was gambled with during the election), or perhaps not... i take those bracketed comments back, probably nothing will change, just news stories to absorb the Obama winning rush!

October 30, 2008

An alternative ISP, with an unlikely feature (or flaw)

Since I moved back to Amman at the start of this year, I was looking for an alternative to Orange fixed and internet services, not because their services were necessarily bad, but because they're offered by the incumbent who dominated the scene for far too long that they tend to take their customers for granted, and I don't want to be taken for granted.

Then a good friend of mine put me on the friendly-users list of the new fixed-wireless broadband internet service provider Wi-Tribe, offering me months of free (a geek drea0m) uncapped bandwidth 1Mbps connection, to the internet. Then Wi-Tribe launched commercially, the contacted me to upgrade my friendly-user status to that of a paying-customer one, to which I welcomed without hesitance, though downgraded to 512Kpbs, and later got my start-up company to get their internet fix from them at 256Kpbs all to my complete satisfaction, to the point that I actually upgraded back to 1Mpbs.

I'm satisfied with the level of service I’m getting, though if you don't pay upfront, you'll get tangled up with monthly payment related issues like weak retail network and nice staff but untrained on their billing system. Beside that, my friend Sari wrote a good review of their service, though I don't totally agree with it...

I still firmly believe in Wi-Tribe as an alternative ISP for folks in Amman (west Amman until further notice), and I will still recommend it to anyone who's fed-up with Orange and ADSL, as long as one acknowledges its FIXED WIRELESS (it plugs to mains power, so there you go) and it requires the modem (CPE) near a window.

BUT (there you go Jad) I came across a flaw in the service being offered, and that is "most" of their user's computers are visible to one another, especially those on VISTA with media players forcing its media server option onto making all the media content on one's computer basically "stream able" to endorsed users.

I did call Wi-Tribe call-center, and ensured that my friends who work there are made aware of the problem and its serious ramifications on their users, but I believe I’m obliged to inform others of what to do until the matter is resolved, which is to disable both network discovery and file sharing and enable windows firewall. For those who have their modem connected through a router (wireless or otherwise), get a technical friend to impose MAC filtration.

September 29, 2008

Taking customers for granted; Zain (formally Fastlink) enlightens us with a subtle ad!

One can only blame the Jordanian consumer for almost 40% (a guestmate) of his misfortunes including high-prices, low-quality, bad service and lack of choices and alternatives.

We sort of have it naturally to get corporations and suppliers to take us for granted and treat us like an old mule...

Zain-Jordan announced today that they will start charging their customers for SMS delivery reports, the charge will be at 0.01 JD starting from the 29th of October.

The less than a quarter of page ad with no logo tucked inside the 29th page of Al-Rai daily newspaper on the eve of Eid is very disgruntling and if not a total disrespect of the Jordanian consumer intelligence.

Zain claim in the ad that this move is to "Ensure the utmost quality of service", how is that remotely related? probably by driving most of its subscribers to switch off SMS delivery confirmation option (most won't even bother) on their mobile phones, given that they know how to do this (or aware of it) in the 1st place.

Technically speaking (and as a telecommunication engineer) i know that such non-revenue traffic causes "paging" overhead and does constrain the network a bit, not sure of the volume however there's a responsibility to properly inform the customer of the new charges in a better way, even if it'll cause bad publicity and set a fair charge to it.

Fariness comes first, and if Zain believes that this "overhead" traffic is constraining their network and hence want to "shunt" it off by charging those who "really" wants to receive the confirmation, then by all means, but my guess (with no good faith or space for benefit of doubt) is that some exec thought of this as a new revenue stream after looking over some other country (like Saudi) where such charges is an "accepted" business practice for its been established for far too long.

But here we are the ever so opinionated Jordanians: labeling Umniah as the 7afrtal network, Orange (formally MobileCom) as somewhat official & not so hip (with its own heard of die-hards no doubt) while XPress is almost unheard off (i still get more question marks when i narrate my mobile number starting with 074 five years onwards)... and Zain... "ما في أحسن من الفاصت" Nothing comes better than Fast (short for Fastlink)

I encourage everyone to join this Facebook group highlighting this issue, and raise it up to public attention because honestly; i had it with such foolish practices and the obliviousness of our society.... How is it a beautiful world!

September 28, 2008

Syndicated: Behind the veil lives a thriving Muslim sexuality

A very refreshing take from a non-Muslim perspective on the issue of the Islamic Hijab (veil), it shows how much space is there for an alternative perspective on the issue of the Veil rather than the ever so conclusive and figured-it-all-out attitude sported by most of those who are, the least to be said; not in favor of the Hijab (veil) for whatever reason that floats their dream boats... Enjoy:

Note about the Author; I do not necessarily endorse or condone the author's ideology or opinion about other subjects of any sort, I simply found myself intrigued by a genuine & fresh take on the matter that's sort of a breeze in the current foggy atmosphere of mimicked thoughts and rotten arguments. (Repeating myself).

Behind the veil lives a thriving Muslim sexuality

Naomi Wolfe 
August 30, 2008

A woman swathed in black to her ankles, wearing a headscarf or a full chador, walks down a European or North American street, surrounded by other women in halter tops, miniskirts and short shorts. She passes under immense billboards on which other women swoon in sexual ecstasy, cavort in lingerie or simply stretch out languorously, almost fully naked. Could this image be any more iconic of the discomfort the West has with the social mores of Islam, and vice versa?

Ideological battles are often waged with women's bodies as their emblems, and Western Islamophobia is no exception. When France banned headscarves in schools, it used the hijab as a proxy for Western values in general, including the appropriate status of women. When Americans were being prepared for the invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban were demonised for denying cosmetics and hair colour to women; when the Taliban were overthrown, Western writers often noted that women had taken off their scarves.

But are we in the West radically misinterpreting Muslim sexual mores, particularly the meaning to many Muslim women of being veiled or wearing the chador? And are we blind to our own markers of the oppression and control of women?

The West interprets veiling as repression of women and suppression of their sexuality. But when I travelled in Muslim countries and was invited to join a discussion in women-only settings within Muslim homes, I learned that Muslim attitudes toward women's appearance and sexuality are not rooted in repression, but in a strong sense of public versus private, of what is due to God and what is due to one's husband. It is not that Islam suppresses sexuality, but that it embodies a strongly developed sense of its appropriate channelling - toward marriage, the bonds that sustain family life, and the attachment that secures a home.

Outside the walls of the typical Muslim households that I visited in Morocco, Jordan, and Egypt, all was demureness and propriety. But inside, women were as interested in allure, seduction and pleasure as women anywhere in the world.

At home, in the context of marital intimacy, Victoria's Secret, elegant fashion and skin care lotions abounded. The bridal videos that I was shown, with the sensuous dancing that the bride learns as part of what makes her a wonderful wife, and which she proudly displays for her bridegroom, suggested that sensuality was not alien to Muslim women. Rather, pleasure and sexuality, both male and female, should not be displayed promiscuously - and possibly destructively - for all to see.

Indeed, many Muslim women I spoke with did not feel at all subjugated by the chador or the headscarf. On the contrary, they felt liberated from what they experienced as the intrusive, commodifying, basely sexualising Western gaze. Many women said something like this: "When I wear Western clothes, men stare at me, objectify me, or I am always measuring myself against the standards of models in magazines, which are hard to live up to - and even harder as you get older, not to mention how tiring it can be to be on display all the time. When I wear my headscarf or chador, people relate to me as an individual, not an object; I feel respected." This may not be expressed in a traditional Western feminist set of images, but it is a recognisably Western feminist set of feelings.

I experienced it myself. I put on a shalwar kameez and a headscarf in Morocco for a trip to the bazaar. Yes, some of the warmth I encountered was probably from the novelty of seeing a Westerner so clothed; but, as I moved about the market - the curve of my breasts covered, the shape of my legs obscured, my long hair not flying about me - I felt a novel sense of calm and serenity. I felt, yes, in certain ways, free.

Nor are Muslim women alone. The Western Christian tradition portrays all sexuality, even married sexuality, as sinful. Islam and Judaism never had that same kind of mind-body split. So, in both cultures, sexuality channeled into marriage and family life is seen as a source of great blessing, sanctioned by God.

This may explain why both Muslim and Orthodox Jewish women not only describe a sense of being liberated by their modest clothing and covered hair, but also express much higher levels of sensual joy in their married lives than is common in the West. When sexuality is kept private and directed in ways seen as sacred - and when one's husband isn't seeing his wife (or other women) half-naked all day long - one can feel great power and intensity when the headscarf or the chador comes off in the the home.

Among healthy young men in the West, who grow up on pornography and sexual imagery on every street corner, reduced libido is a growing epidemic, so it is easy to imagine the power that sexuality can carry in a more modest culture. And it is worth understanding the positive experiences that women - and men - can have in cultures where sexuality is more conservatively directed.

I do not mean to dismiss the many women leaders in the Muslim world who regard veiling as a means of controlling women. Choice is everything. But Westerners should recognise that when a woman in France or Britain chooses a veil, it is not necessarily a sign of her repression. And, more importantly, when you choose your own miniskirt and halter top - in a Western culture in which women are not so free to age, to be respected as mothers, workers or spiritual beings, and to disregard Madison Avenue - it's worth thinking in a more nuanced way about what female freedom really means.

Naomi Wolf is the author, most recently, of The End Of America: Letter Of Warning To A Young Patriot and the upcoming Give Me Liberty: How To Become An American Revolutionary, and is co-founder of the American Freedom Campaign, a US democracy movement.

February 04, 2008

The early signs of fatherhood

Last summer, my wife got pregnant with our first baby, my reception of the event was as crude as it can get, crudeness apparently became a practice really; yes I was happy about it, I didn't necessarily applaud the occasion, I was mostly overwhelmed with the feeling of yet another no-turning-back moment, like the death of my father, my marriage and some other events and decisions that I've made.

Honestly, the death of my father is where every event seems to be referred back to, like the date of birth of Christ may peace & blessing be upon him with the annotation of Anno Domini (AD) that postfixes any date, I note things to have happened either before or after his death. To come and think about it; I tend to romanticize the things that fall in the former category, and somehow cast the intrusive shadow of his absence onto the events that falls in the latter.

But another development partially disrupted this practice of mine, in fact not only did it change the way I tend to remember things, its impact was so overwhelming that I can only explain it by it being a divine intervention, and this is the story:

Back in October, during a failed returning-home-for-good attempt of mine, my wife visited her doctor for the regular check, and called telling me the baby was a girl...

no suspense or surreal turn of events here, just an overwhelming (I'll be over using this word from now on) surge of joy; laterally my mind couldn't keep up with my heart as to why I was so much happy about my knowledge of my coming baby's sex.

Until now, I'm clueless to what happened from that moment onward, I'm oozing with happiness for what God have blessed us with and anticipating every moment until she joins us, as my disruptive and fun-spoiling mind-set got incapacitated in front of this new state of mind, I can only think that God instilled in me those feelings because I know that I'm incapable of not being crude or taking things for what they're worth at face-value.

Even the perpetual gap left by my father's departure seemed suddenly ancient history in front of the momentous event of my girl's nearing arrival, yes I do dwell upon the idea of what would it be like if he was around, and what name he would've favored (though he wouldn't have favored any, he was subtle with his personal opinions), but such thoughts were lacking the tear-drops squeezing & distressful emotions they come with, his departure was sad, but the soon to join baby girl is a happy event without any if(s).

Suddenly I started rationalizing one of my uncle's exaggerated obsession with his eldest daughter beyond anyone's comprehension, now -I think- I know what will it be like to father & feel proud of a wonderful daughter.

Before, I used to view my older friends with kids to be somewhat unfortunate to have chosen/dragged-into the unstoppable contemporary cycle of life; where one is rushed to pass his high-school, get a university degree, build a career, get married, have kids and grow a sizable belly and numbness while at it, never did I appreciate the heavenly feelings & tranquility they must've felt every time they were around their kids.

Until recently, I've constantly mistaken their obvious happiness when in the company of their kids to be merely a getting-used-to subconscious routine that they got themselves into in order to accept the fact that they're responsible for bringing those poor little things to this cruel world, and they're responsible for their welfare indefinitely.

But that's no longer; Since the moment I knew she was a girl, I never seize to carefully examine all father-son (or daughter) interactions that I happen to witness, including all the boring accounts of my friends on what their 2 year old son (or daughter) did or spoke!

I did always consider kids to be cute, all kids that is, no one was particularly special, for me it was like as if all the kids in the block were cool B-boys who knew how to break-dance, it no longer catches my attention if someone just made a 360 spin upside down, would it now? a far fetched metaphor I guess...

But after this sudden enlightenment, my friend's daughter was no longer annoying when she kept interrupting us in our get-together; displaying her latest (horrible; I must add) singing abilities, she was no longer the 6 year old in the midst of what's better known as "سن الزناخه" when she slowly turns from someone who's 1st words are much anticipated with cheers and celebrations (usually quoted after) and turns into an unstoppable word sprinter; now she's just the chatty little girl, "I like…".

As I turn a new page in my professional life; I find myself extremely motivated by all of this, in the midst of my fears and weariness of leaving a very good and rewarding career to start a new venture in a field abandoned by most of who invested in it, in a country everyone is relentlessly trying to exit; I find myself irrationally charge-boosted with zealous belief in what I'm about to do, and I still fail to spot the link, but it doesn't really matters no more.

As a closing note; I pray to the sustainer of the seven heaven, to make it easy for my beloved wife (and all the pregnant women out there) and make their delivery a silk smooth one, my imaginative mind can't withstand or comprehend how this must be physically and emotionally intense… May Allah be your keeper.

January 22, 2008

All you sinners; put your lights off

The other day, I took a work partner of mine to lunch, during which I skipped the small-talk and asked him how he feels about the recent development in Gaza, and he replied "Man, let's not start a pointless discussion here", I reiterated "You what? How could this topic possibly develop to a pointless discussion? They've cut-off the petrol supplies for God's sake…" and he responded "and whose fault is that you say?" as he staired at the tip of my beard as if it automatically affiliated me with Hamas or whoever!!!

I realized I was talking to someone who's too blinded by his political affiliation to the point were he no longer recognizes the human suffering that the orgnization (he claims to be part of) is suppose to be fighting against! While Gaza sinks into the swamp of darkness, some who flatter themselves by claiming to Palestinians, or better still; claiming to be affiliated with a certain faction or movement, kick back and relax theorizing and pointing fingers but eventually doing nothing (and that goes to everyone).

Actually, I stirred the conversation else where, I'm too disgusted (not to mention distressed by the developing situation in Gaza) to talk about the consumed Hamas-Fatih discussion, so I stirred the conversation else where, to the question of the Palestinian identity, where does it stand after 60 years of Nakba?

But before I delve into that mine-filled pond (in a different blog post I assure you), I honestly can't believe how we as Humans, Muslims or Arabs can go about our daily lives aware of the sufferings that's being inflected by the illegitimate state of Israel against the people of Gaza without the least of an essentially disrupting thought or concern interrupting our daily proceedings.

I don't think I can put it in a better word than Rachel Corrie, Oh… so you already forgot(or: never knew) about Rachel Corrie huh! Will here's h
er Wikipedia article and here's the webpage dedicated to her from which I took the following excerpt from an email she sent to her parents before she was squashed to death by a Caterpillar bulldozer operated by the Israeli occupying forces while trying to defend a Palestinian house from demolition:

"Anyway, I’m rambling. Just want to write to my Mom and tell her that I’m witnessing this chronic, insidious genocide and I’m really scared, and questioning my fundamental belief in the goodness of human nature. This has to stop.

I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop. I don’t think it’s an extremist thing to do anymore.
I still really want to dance around to Pat Benatar and have boyfriends and make comics for my coworkers. But I also want this to stop. Disbelief and horror is what I feel. Disappointment. I am disappointed that this is the base reality of our world and that we, in fact, participate in it. This is not at all what I asked for when I came into this world.

This is not at all what the people here asked for when they came into this world. This is not the world you and Dad wanted me to come into when you decided to have me. This is not what I meant when I looked at Capital Lake and said: “This is the wide world and I’m coming to it.” I did not mean that I was coming into a world where I could live a comfortable life and possibly, with no effort at all, exist in complete unawareness of my participation in genocide"

What actually motivated me to post this is that yesterday, it was the 1st time I felt not only helpless but also hopeless, the reality that surrounds us is just so overwhelmingly negative and seems to be getting mad worse before it gets any better with no shed of light anywhere in the horizon; fundamentally I felt the start of something I feared the most, to be emotionally drained towards the Palestinian cause, as I can't make the injustice to basically stop.

A dramatic scene on a Thursday night movie aired by MBC 2 or an Opera show will probably raise the consumption of paper tissues by 173% in Amman, Cairo and Riyadh's suburbs (if not nationwide) out of running tears, yet the news of a deaf old woman being crushed under the rubble of her demolished house because she failed to here the occupying force's loud-speaker warnings to vacate the house within 30 minutes before they topple it down; this scene will merely register as "oh, those poor Palestinians, but what can we do… Mohammed, don't forget my diet coke in your way back from lunch break"

We are drained from any notion of humanity, sympathy, compassion or even empathy, we became accustomed to our intentional obliviousness of the suffering of anyone but us (and that's even questionable), we barely relate to the prone injustice inflected on them and the inhumane conditions they live by, some think it's merely the inconvenience of not being entertained by TV shows, turning on light bulbs at night or the 6 month stockpile of frozen foodstuff melting down with fowl smells?

The reality most of us are unaware of because we take modern life for granted is this: Electricity is not for juicing up our home appliances and lighting up streets, it also run our infrastructure, from water pumps to the sewage system and others… Yes the sewage system, there'll be a sewage flood out of manholes if there's no electricity to exhaust the sewage where it's meant to go, and the water pipes won't run because the pumps will not function. Of course that's beside the hospitals with all the equipment keeping hundreds and thousands of people alive that will simply power down once the backup generator run out fuel too!

It's a scary reality that our people is living back in Gaza, and we choose to lead our lives as if nothing is happening few hundred kilometers away, but in the word of a 17th century Muslim scholar once chanted while being imprisoned by the ruler of some province the following:

ضع في يدي القيد, ألهب أضلعي بالسوط, ضع عنقي على السكين, فلن تسطيع حصار فكري ساعة أو رد إيماني و نور يقيني, فالنور في قلبي, و قلبي بين يدي ربي, و ربي حافظي و معيني

This reads (excuse the loose translation): Handcuff me, flame my back with lashes, lay my neck on your knife, you won't be able to corner my thoughts for even an hour, or overshadow my faith and my enlighting certainty, for the light is in my heart, and my heart is in the hands of my master (the creator) and he is my sustainer and supporter.

If "tangible" actions are not feasible or not possible now, at least we shouldn't give up on our selves by giving in our thoughts to anything but utter distress and solidarity with the people of Gaza, to learn that the comfortable surrounding we live in is volatile and uncertain, and could vanish over night. If you watch a movie tonight and get too engaged in it, or watch your favorite entertainment TV programme and feel moved or touched by it, you should know that you've committed two sins (in the general not religious sense of it), One is utter hypocrisy because your moved emotions should be directed to the reality next door, and two; not to mention the sinful drop of tears over fictional characters while real drama hits a family near you.

Families who share our same names, language, culture, religion(s), region, history and aspirations, will not sure about the latter, probably a person weaping over fictional drama couldn't possibly live up to the aspiration of a person stuck in Gaza!

Dedicated to Rachel Corrie, who's probably more Palestinian than any hard green-blooded blood-shut-eyed heretical university za3boor/a who probably only recognizes him/herself as a Palestinian when negatively aggravated by a like minded person deluded by his/her tribal affiliation.