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Main: AndFarAway.net

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Blog Day, Blog Day, Blog Day-do-day!

As a part of the internet rituals that have been created to accompany Blog Day, I have been tagged by Haitham to rummage the internet for blogs that strike my fancy. And rummage I did, and I found some blogs that were of great interest to me, mostly in terms of creative value.
(and well, GIRLS BLOG BETTER!)

Dooce- another witty look into living in Mormon Utah(first look being that of our very own export). This woman is unbelievably expressive, creative, thinks the opposite way round(bilsha2loob ya zalameh, bilsha2loob!), and makes up her own words. Perfect combination of colors for a wonderful blog if you ask me.

Islamic art is one of my very favorite things in the world, and this photoblog called Islamic Culture boasts a lovely and very diverse collection of beautiful photography of Muslim art and culture. Check out the archives because there's only one picture on the main page.

I present to you one of my guilty internet pleasures, where I spend hours pouring over the shoes and going ga ga over babies such as these beautiful boots, these gorgeous Lacostes, and the stunnig flats. There are also the posts that leave me in horrified laughter such as the weekly "Ugly Shoe of the Week".
Heaven of a blog! Heaven of a blog!

More stunning with words female bloggers with a knack for creating words, this time their word being "Fugly"- "frightfully ugly; of or pertaining to something beyond the boundaries of normal unattractiveness."
Yes, yes, the shallow me is coming out, but seriously, dress well people or you'll end up as another yet another fugly post! Dress well! And stay away from vests...

I was saving best for last, because it is my pleasure to announce that my friend Abu Samer, who was our nextdoor neigbor back in Saudi Arabia, has decided to start a blog. Abu Samer is one of those hilariously eccentric individuals(no offence) that totally shock you with their mentalities. I am sure he will add a lot to the blogosphere, and I'm totally looking forward to see the blog up and running.

The Obvious, Subzero Blue, OceanCreep, AquaCool, Utopia.




The other day while shopping at the mall, I came upon a product that I am perhaps a little too familiar with- Hot Head Temporary Hair Color, "guaranteed to make your hair look fabulous, dah-ling!"

Yes, fabulous without a doubt, because after one experiment with a tube of hot pink Hot Head, I loved my new pink do so much that I decided to go permanent- a headful of fuschia fluff.

(click on images to appreciate full pinkness)

Naturally, but for reasons more related to parental permission than to sheepishness, the first time was modest. My hairdresser also absolutely refused to pink me up any further than streaks and tips, so I ended up with a simple front, but a rather artistic back as it literally looked like glued-on pink feathers.

combed =P
The second time was a little blunter. My hair was longer then and already highlighted, so I used a home-kit to pinkify the highlights. I wasn't very happy with it though, and often resorted to a bright pink wig for special occassions(the now abandoned pink bright wig that's still tucked lovingly in a little box in one of my drawers after many, many years).

Perhaps around 2 years after the 1st time, I decided that I wanted to experiment again, this time with a crazier color. So, I found myself some salon-formula "Enraged" hairdye, took a deep breath, and wrapped my hair in aluminum foil for 15 minutes over the initial required 15 minutes mentioned in the directions(you see, I wanted the job well done).

And well done it was, resulting in what was probably my worst hair experience ever, even worse than the foresaken mullet. I looked like a complete punk, but I won't scare anyone by posting a front view picture here(but if you are really gutsy and able to withstand nightmarish pictures, you can look at it).

That was my last "crazy teenager" hair experience, although I did go blonde for a while a little later in my teens(and I swear to God that I am brighter as a brunette!)

Now, I only go with brown, which is my natural haircolor.

As I was looking at all of the very experimental pictures that have piled up on my harddisk over the years, I couldn't help but think wow, my parents are beyond cool dude. I mean, they had a bright pink daughter for a good amount of time and neither of them ever said anything. There is a set of drums and an electric guitar in the livingroom and they're both cool with it. How patient is that?

And that is only a little sample of what wonderful parents they've been to us, I can go on and on about my great upbringing. Understand, in a country as opressed as Saudi Arabia, my parents created my childhood.

I am not in a particularly eloquent mood and I can't squeeze any sappiness out of me, so I will say it simply, minus the icing-

You guys totally rock, bright red and hot pink are not even cool enough to describe how wonderful you are. I love you. Happy anniversary :)

Main: AndFarAway.net

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Now, who is the threat to world peace?

The mighty, mighty United States of America was declared a "threat to world peace" by Nelson Mandela, one of the world's most esteemed statesmen [source: BBC].

I bow to that.

Although I itch to, I will not speak about the broad-spectrum crisis of conscience in the history of American foreign policy, nor will I delve into the "War in Iraq". I will only speak about American puppet Ahmad Jalabi, one of the almost sardonic facets of "Operation Iraqi Freedom".

The profile of Ahmed Jalabi (Chalabi if you are reading of an American news source), leader of the US-backed & financed Iraqi National Congress, the interim minister for oil, and deputy prime minister in Iraq, is indeed a very controversial one.

When the "War on Iraq" finds a place on the shelves of history, this wealthy exile will be among those judged most responsible for the American decision to invade Iraq and depose of Saddam Hussein. By supplying decisive intelligence on the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties to al-Qaeda, Jalabi teamed up with America's neoconservatives and successfully marketed a war on Iraq as an antidote to terrorism (ha, the irony! Their antidote to terrorism has since turned to become a fuel to it!)

When U.S. forces invaded Iraq in 2003, Jalabi returned under their support and was given a position on the Iraq interim governing council by the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Yet, well beyond the start of the invasion, after 100,000 Iraqi and 1,874 American deaths, and no trace of the weapons, the US proclaimed the war as "heroism in error". (That makes my blood rage).

It was then, a little too late, that the US finally realized that Ahmad Jalabi conned his neocon pals thinking he could run Iraq if he gave the Bush administration the smoking gun it needed to sell the war. Then it discontinued the regular payments to him for information he provided.

Like I said, a little too late.

What prompted me to research this man was an offhand comment by a loved one about "Zolom America"(the big men of America) unpleasantly citing Ahmed Jalabi as an example. I was surprised by the hostility in the tone, and asked for further explanation only to find out that this same man who was one of the main grounds for so many deceased souls has actually had a jail cell awaiting him in Jordan since 1992!

Ahmed Jalabi, provider of intelligence on weaponry in Iraq, leader of Iraqi National Council, and deputy prime minister of Iraq, is wanted by the Jordanian government for charges of embezzlement, theft, misuse of depositor funds and currency speculation.

The story behind that goes back to 1977, when he founded the Petra Bank, which became the 2nd biggest bank in Jordan. In, 1989, however, the Jordanian banking authorities took over Petra when it failed to come up with required money. Jalabi left the country two weeks later, announcing that he was going "on holiday". Meanwhile his brothers' banks in Geneva and Beirut had already gone under. Petra had a deficit of over $215 million, which the accountants indicated had "the potential" to grow to $350 million. In April, 1992, Jalabi was convicted in absentia and sentenced to 22 years jail on 31 charges.

This was a total catastrophe for Jordan, especially as the government had committed itself to paying off the depositors. For two years, all of the much needed foreign aid went into settling the Petra mess.

This, my dear friends, is the person that basically enabled the US attack on Iraq. This is the person they brought back to Iraq "under their wing". This is the person who is now the deputy prime minister of Iraq. This is "zolom America"- over optimistic judgment of capability, a liking for mismanaging other people's money, and an inability to always be truthful. What does this say about values and democracy?

But then again, when did failure to comply by universal ethics, not having the ability to balance a checkbook, and lack of sensibility have anything to do with politics.

More: BBC, Wikipedia, Iraq News

Main: AndFarAway.net

Monday, August 29, 2005

Hey, world, look up!

For years, I have watched in awe as the generation directly below mine dove head-first into the hip hop culture in their dress, their slang, their actions, and their entertainment.

In Jordan, the hip hop phenomenon has spread to actually include both affluent West Amman and poorer East Amman. Kids in the street wear shirts labeled "Brooklyn" although that they don’t really know where Brooklyn is. They sing songs about black power although they really have no idea about the implications and the historical background of the lyrics. Yet regardless, they rap, they break-dance, they create their own music- these kids have finally managed to find a way to express themselves that many Arab generations before them have not.

This is where the impressive Palestinian hip-hop scene that I first became acquainted with on Yazan Malakha's blog comes in. As I watched the videos, I felt my dislike towards the hip hop culture slowly ebb away, and I grinned as the videos dismissed the notion that globalization generates homogeneity. The Palestinian scene is indeed a product of importing American hip-hop, but it is blended so beautifully with the Palestinian cause and case, that the hip-hop is actually refashioned to become Palestinian.

So here we are- we have passionate, talented young Palestinians singing their cause out to the young people of the world in a way that all would understand- without the dirtiness of politics, without the bounds of religion. We have teenagers taking a much globalized medium and using it to spread alternative voices of resistance within the Palestinian struggle. We have girls and boys saying "Hey, world, look up!"

The bands are from different areas in Palestine, and it's wholly captivating how each area has its own "sound". The videos are well directed, and it's just wonderful how you can see the environment that each rapping group comes from. I would strongly recommend you watch the videos, because they bring an interesting fresh perspective, from a generation not yet jaded.

I would very strongly recommend that you watch the trailer of an upcoming movie "Slingshot" about hip hop in Palestine. It shows you different samples from different areas(my favorite music is that of Lydd), and interviews the rappers with their experiences, goals, and hopes. I also strongly recommend the video of a song called "Born Here" by DAM, it makes me shiver.

To listen to the inspiring songs that are a product of this very phenomenon, please go to Yazan's blog.

I say, kudos to such efforts. I hope we see more towards this smart direction.

Click here to watch the trailer of SlingShot Hip Hop: The Palestinian Lyrical Front.

Click here to watch "Born Here".

Self Indulgance

Haha, because Omar wants to hear what my answers will be like ;)

10 years ago:
I flunked Arabic and Math in grade school and had to spend the whole summer getting tutored in my grandmother's dining room while I started longingly through the window at the garden while the boys played.

5 years ago:
I was kicking Arabic's and Math's asses by getting As in all my high school courses including those monsters(I beat you, you evil, evil things).

1 year ago:
I was rid of Arabic and Math forever and sinking happily in the sea of the fine arts(ok, ok, I still have to deal with Arabic 101 and Arabic 102 but leave me alone).

Read the rest of this post here.

Because ice cubes are sooo out...

This tray makes little cylinders of ice, that are considerably easier to insert into plastic bottles than their cubic counterparts.

How come no one ever thought of that?

+ Oh, Gizmo!

Main: AndFarAway.net

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Short Movie of the Day

Starring: Sami Elzaharna(top right corner with the afro, I'm glad that's gone!)

Weeeeeh! I'm friends with a movie star! :P

Yes, yes, he DoEs have a "cute smile".

Watch the movie here.

Yours truly, Piaget

Wow, jewelery with a geek quotient! Just send a copy of your fingerprints to Piaget, and they'll make a watch or pendant design out of it. An expensive geek gadgetry too- the swirls are laid out in diamonds and white gold.

Hm, and surprisingly, the watch is not all that bad.

What say you?

That's a woman!

I finally put too many classes with Mazen Asfour to good use (for the acquainted, meant ironically, otherwise, boo hoo hoo).

Technically, this is my first time reading Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code", but untechnically, I've read it before as I've previously read enough bits and pieces of it to get the hang of the story. Yes, yes, I know, I should have read it properly two years ago, but it has just gotten "unbanned" in Jordan, so blame the radicals.

Well, beyond technicalities, it's one hell of a good read.

Although I'm not exactly a fan of detective books, Dan Brown totally caught my love by combining some of my favorite things in the world between two covers- beautiful history, wonderful art, and religious contemplating. It poses some very, very interesting concepts, philosophies, and theories, and for someone as obsessed with relations between the "modern religions" and their relationship with the ancient ones, this book provides an interesting insight.

The plot had too many twists and turns for my liking, but the supporting material was very fascinating- Opus Dei, Bottetcili, the secret Priory of Sion, pagan religions, Magdalene, symbology, feminism, agnosticism, and Leonardo Da Vinci! Gold!

Totally recommended book, especially if you're interested in art and religion.

Quoted from "The Da Vinci Code": "History is always written by the winners. When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated, and the winner writes the history books-books which glorify their own cause and disparage the conquered foe. As Napoleon once said, 'What is history, but a fable agreed upon?'"

Main: AndFarAway.net

Saturday, August 27, 2005


I go all lovey-dovey when it comes to the theory of relativity- not Einstein's mind you (I'm not even sure I know what that talks about), but rather, the one that proclaims everything in life as relative to the particular moment in time.

If a woman goes parading in a pink-and-white, ultra-cute, polka-dot bathing suit in Al-Ghor, she'll probably get shot rhetorically speaking(if anyone relates that to women driving in Saudi Arabia I'm going to SCREAM!). Yet, a few minutes away from Al-Ghor at the gorgeously beautiful Moevenpick Resort, she'll be overdressed if she's wearing anything but the slinkiest ooh-la-la bikini.

And all in the matter of a few kilometers!

Wow, magic right?


What I'm actually going to say next is completely related to the above, regardless of whether you can relate soap to tea or not, but really, it makes perfect sense in my mind.

Well, I'm having an itsy-bitsy problem with this relativity abracadabra, because I cannot figure these Ammanites out!

I have to get a new whole set of what's right and what's wrong in order to fit into Amman's theory of relativity!

It's like, what? How in God's beautiful pink-tinted world is that considered ethically wrong?

Thank God for Abu Samer, who was born and bred in this eccentric melting pot of diverse mentalities, and who has been kindly telling me that "Roba, inti fyoosatik darbeh!"

Seriously dude, ana fusati darbeh?


Main: AndFarAway.net

Friday, August 26, 2005

Pirates are cool

You would not appreciate this unless you have a thing for pirates.

Big Arr! Little Arr!

(and well, while we're at it ya Soos ya amar, why did a man who just ate seagulls after his ship sunk kill himself?)



Andy Warhol is one of my very favorite artists. Who else would say something like "I think everybody should be a machine", "I never fall apart because I never fall together", and "I'm not more intelligent that I appear, I never have time to think about the real Andy Warhol, we're just so busy here. Not working, busy playing because work is play when it's something you like."

He's just so awesome... How can I not love someone as eccentric? Of course, there's so much more to pop art and Andy Warhol, but I will leave that to another day. Today, I will share these really cute Andy Warhol inspired table ware by Precidio Objects(via D*S).

Absolutely fantastic don't you think? They would look, oh, so good in the restaurant I designed last semester!

Main: AndFarAway.net

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Kan ya makan...

(thanks Kevin!)

There are some really delicious milestones in one's childhood- milestones where you stopped and thought, wow, I grew up. A recent happening surfaced the memory of one milestone that I'm sure you can relate to-- the first time I walked to the "dokaneh" without adult supervision.

I grew up Saudi Arabia so Jordan was only an annual summer retreat, a place where we'd spend the three months of vacation at my grandmother's in Shmesani, Amman. Living in Saudi Arabia is literally experiencing a heaven within walls, and although that naturally had its great many advantages to us as kids, we would count down the days to "Nsafer 3ala Amman"- the city of the 7arat, the ice cream, the sha3erilbanat, and ultimately, freedom.

I mention Shmesani in particular because this word is of huge significance to the milestone I'm about to share. Shmesani, an area in West Amman, was my first taste of liberty and my first experience with the outside world.

This experience started in a very little part of Shmesani, my grandmother's front yard- a sloping stone deck(in picture) perfect for skateboards, balls, and hide & seek. Much growing up was done in that yard whether it was in regards to my dealings with my brothers and cousins, uncles and aunts, or the gardeners.

In the front yard, I grew up enough to progress to the 7ara beyond the fence- the round dead-end street that accommodated my grandmother's house.

In the 7ara I learned even more- I learned how to deal with grouchy old ladies (chant Sabee7a il Qabee7a), I discovered that you always keep "ili bil 7ara lal 7ara", and I developed my social skills. The 7ara was my domain for years- trying (unsuccessfully) to play soccer with the boys, learning (successfully) to ride a bike, and having more places for hiding while playing hide & seek.

After many years of being confined to the 7ara, the day finally came where I was "old enough" to be allowed to cross over to the other side of the street to get to the dokaneh, which to a young child seemed like the delicious domain of the candy man himself.

I can clearly see myself walk that very first walk as a big girl, armed with a couple of Shelens and with strict instructions to HOLD BASEM'S HAND VERY TIGHTLY. I can see Basem and I trotting happily down the street clutching each others hands safely and looking anticipatively at the dokaneh down the seemingly endless street.

And as my mother says, "falatat il masba7a", because soon enough the Dallal kids dominated the whole of Shmesani in different places ranging from Safeway (the only Safeway those days was in Shmesani), Frosti's, Tom & Jerry's, Haya's, and of course, Istiqlal Bookstore (who, for sake of mentioning, are the most spoiled shopkeepers in the WORLD!).

I grew up- we grew up- and our personal 7aras grew too to include all of Amman, but Shmesani remains my ultimate domain. I know every little nook and cranny by heart, every little dead end and alley by name, and every little off beat store by experience. I know every single house and which family resides in each- I know that this is Dar Il Majali and that that is Dar Imseeh. I know that the Khourys have always lived there and that the Rantisis have a big scary dog. Nothing has changed for the past several decades, the same houses welcome my car every time I go visit my grandmother.

When we decided to move to Jordan a couple of years ago, we naturally decided to reside in Shmesani, which had kindly accommodated us as guests for two decades. Unfortunately, the only suitable apartment we found (and which we now reside in) was several blocks down on Tal3et il Plastic, closer to the Il-Madeeneh Il Riyadeyeh area than to the Shmesani we grew up in.

A few months ago though, my parents came upon a house up for sale- a house two houses up the street from the dokaneh, across the street from Dar Khoury, 2 houses down the street from Dar il Majali, and 4 houses down the street from my grandmother's. It feels so weird, like they just bought back a part of my childhood.

Today, I was standing there, getting caught up in a discussion with the engineer about whether to use marble or ceramic tiles, and my eye drifted down the street to the dokaneh. In a second, I was transported to that little girl again, clutching Basem's hand, looking triumphantly at the dokaneh and thinking, hey, look, I grew up.

We should be moving in a couple of weeks, and the second best part is, moving comes with a "ta3zeeleh", so I can finally find all of the stuff that's been lost for years ;) Well, unless I get lazy and decide to just pull out the actual drawers with all their belongings and transport them in my car...

Main: AndFarAway.net

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Head over heels in love...

...with Google

GMail has been rocking my world for a year, and now Google Talk has emerged as the new kid on the block in the IM neigborhood.

I'm not a fan of chatting, I'd mostly rather communicate via email, but an IM client on one's computer has become essential.

I totally love Talk so far. It's so simple, so clean, and straight to the point. No needless ugly, yellow, over-excited smiley faces ruining my day and no visual pollution stuffed into a tiny square on a screen.

I really hope that doesn't "evolve"!

Too bad my list is relatively empty...

Download it here. For those who are not yet familiar with the heaven that is GMail add a comment with your email for an invite.

Related: Malakha's review, Haitham

[google, googletalk, talk]

Lookie who's home!

My life is back on track :D

Main: AndFarAway.net

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Battle Concluded

Since I've been to most of Funk on Tour's Battle of the Bands episodes(some of which I blogged about and others of which I didn't), I was really disappointed because I couldn't attend the final last night, and because none of my friends are interested so I had no idea who won.

Well, apparently, Echoes won! They were most definitely the band I was most impressed with, and I'm really glad they did because they deserved it the most. I wonder who got second place... I hope Jadal did.

Anyway, congrats guys! You totally deserved it.

+Omarello(who is, by the way, a part of Echoes. Not sure which instrument he plays yet though... Good to see Jordanian talents blogging!)
+Funk On Tour
+I have become comfortable numb


Win 1000 JDs!

"How to win?
Find someone dumber than Jordan Uni's registeration dudes.

You go to register, terminals are broken. System freezes. brand new computerized registration system written in 2005 that completely interacts with the user through keyboard. written in COBOL. No, mouse is evil, standard keyboard keys are evil, let's think outside the box, have a new interface that will challenge any student to navigate through. F7 for next page, F10 to exit, F5 to print, ops no printer attached. A system that doesn't handle 1000 logins at a time. When I was probably 17 I knew how to write better software.

Oh hold your horses, we're not done yet. Rules change every semester. Now you need to pay within 48 HOURS or your registeration will be cancelled. If your family lives abroad and they transfer money to you, we don't give a damn, we'll cancell your registeration, dabber 7alak ya taleb ya 7ashara. We're full of surprises.

Who said capital punishment is harsh?"
+Ammar Ibrahim

Ufff! I'm glad someone wrote about that!

I'm so pissed off at the moment...

I went to register yesterday morning because my Tasjeel was at 8:30 only to find out that they postponed all times to the next day(and according to my sleeping habits, I should be sound asleep at 8:30 for atleast two hours, so I stayed up all night because there's no way I can wake up otherwise). I tried to register yesterday anyway, but today, I'm up early as well, and I'm going to school in a few minutes to see what kind of '7absa I'm in.

And it wouldn't be too bad if their registration system wasn't the 2nd most horrifying system I've ever used in my life(1st place goes to the University's library- I consider myself very computer literate comparatively, but I actually have resort to the ancient manual filing cabinets that use cue cards for sorting books instead having to waste valuable brain energy trying to decipher their freaky computerized sorting system!)

Watch my next post be miserable.


Update: I'm back, I guess I registered a course that's not for the design students, haha, min fala7ti sa7? Can't do anything yet though, I'm going to have to wait till sa7eb o edafeh in a few weeks. Let's hope I'll find courses with student space!
On a brighter note, look at how cute my department is. This is their way to "welcome the students back". On the canvases, they have each specialization's suggested 4-year plan, this semester's offered courses, our past work displayed on the other side of the hall, and pictures of everyone.

bay 3999

Thesaurus Pulls Listing for 'Arab'

An online thesaurus struck a listing Monday for the word "Arab" after Arab-American groups complained the entry listed derogatory synonyms.

The entry, which appeared on thesaurus.com, listed the word as a noun meaning "beggar," and gave 16 pejorative synonyms including "homeless person" and "welfare bum."

The American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee contacted the synonym book's online publisher Friday to complain about the entry; the American Arab Forum also criticized the listing on Monday.

"I looked it up and I couldn't believe what I was seeing," said Aref Assaf, president of the American Arab Forum, which is based in Paterson.

Several hours after Roget's Thesaurus was called by The Associated Press, all entries for "Arab" had been pulled from the site.

Barbara Ann Kipfer, editor of the third edition of Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, said the entry had likely been on the site for years, but never made it into printed versions of the thesaurus.

"We're simply going to take it out," she said on Monday. "The last thing you want with a thesaurus is to offend anyone."

Kipfer said an 18th-century term "street arab" had appeared in other thesauruses, referring to a homeless child who has been abandoned and roams through the streets.

The Internet publishing group that produces the thesaurus.com Web site also said it was surprised to learn of the entry.

"We got together and tried to resolve it as soon as possible," said Jasper Chou, director for marketing for Lexico Group.

Assaf said he was satisfied that the listing had been removed.

"We look forward to working with them, should they need a proper definition of the word. The easier definition is 'anyone who is Arabic,' which would have been more than sufficient," he said.

Source: ABC News

Oh, my, God. Dare I say that it was Eman who first brought this to attention? Way to go Eman!!!

Main: AndFarAway.net

Monday, August 22, 2005

Bluetooth, bluetooth

blue0805.jpgIgnoring adverts is about to get a lot tougher with the development of billboards and advertising posters that use Bluetooth to beam video ads direct to passing cellphones.

As people walk past the posters they receive a message on their phone asking them if they wish to accept the advert. If they do, they can receive movies, animations, music or still images further promoting the advertised product. “It's all about delivering high quality content, tailored for mobile usage,” says Alasdair Scott, co-founder and chief creative officer of London-based Filter UK, who created the system, called BlueCasting.

Working with advertising company Maiden Group, also in London, trials of the system were recently held at six London railway stations. Poster locations for rock band Coldplay’s new album offered to beam further promotional material, including song clips from the album, to the phones of passers-by. (NEW SCIENTIST)

Sort of scary if you ask me.

+Agenda, Read more

[bluetooth, advertising]

Jordan Planet in Al-Ghad

I was pleasantly surprised to see a feature about blogging in today's issue of Al-Ghad, including an interview with JP's Ammar Ibrahim, who talked about Jordan Planet.
You can read the article here(Arabic).

And you will see why 1984 won't be like "1984"

Some say that this is the best commercial ever created, and I totally agree.

This ad, directed by Ridley Scott, was technically aired once and only once during the half-time of the 1984 Super Bowl. It is for Apple Corporation, announcing the imminent arrival of the Macintosh. It cost $1.6 million to produce, and a further $500,000 for the one-minute time slot in which it ran.

The ad invokes one of the most beautifully thought-provoking novels, George Orwell's "1984"; a Big Brother figure ceaselessly intones the slogans of Newspeak, while the public masses appear automatized by the rigidly controlled totalitarian society. In Orwell's original scenario, of course, the state is Big Brother, the source of oppression.

In Apple's version of 1984, Big Brother is arguably IBM. By declaring the mega-corporation as just another monopoly of power, the ad presumes that the only route to liberation is unregulated competition - the free market. In the guise of counter-cultural idealism, the ideology of "1984" has come to mean endorsing the most unrestricted, brutal forms of capitalism competition(and yes, I'm pro).

And perhaps, one of my favorite parts about the ad is that it took guts- Apple spent so much money on airing an ad that a lot of viewers probably didn't understand. That's not very "functional" as some people might say, but it proved to be one of the most successful guerilla marketing campaigns ever. I hate in-your-face information, it's always so much more meaningful to try to analyze and put a bit of yourself into everything.

I'd strongly recommend this ad, the writings of George Orwell, and well, while I'm at it, Pink Floyd.

Watch the ad here(13 MB).
Watch a smaller one here(5 MB).

[mac, advertisement, 1984]

Main: AndFarAway.net

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Happy Birthday Jordan Planet!

Today marks the first anniversary of the launch of Jordanian blog portal Jordan Planet.

Thanks to the readers, the bloggers, and of course, Isam, the man behind the Planet, it has indeed gone a long way since its launch.

To celebrate the Planet's first birthday, it was decided to give the readers and the bloggers a fresh, more Jordanian look to the site. So, for the past few weeks, Isam, Iyas and myself have been working behind the scenes with the style-help of Natasha, Mariam, and Ammar to deliver an appropriate redesign.

The concept of the redesign is to provide a real window into Jordan- both visual and literary. The literary part naturally refers to the posts of our 39 dear Jordanian bloggers who give a personal look into the life of a Jordanian. The visual part will be implemented as soon as we are done with celebrating the birthday, and it will involve a more pictorial aspect through the help of the photographs taken by some of our talented bloggers and member's of Jordan's Flickr group.

The color scheme, in case anyone is wondering, was inspired by the colors of Rum, one of the most beautiful places in the Middle East if I may say so myself. As you can see, we also added tabs to decrease amount of information in the sidebar. There are more changes up our sleeves that will be implemented soon and that will increase both the usability and the aesthetic value of Jordan Planet, so stay tuned!

So, Happy Birthday Jordan Planet! May there be many happy returns to come!

More: Isam's word

Kuwait bans family visas to Syrians, Lebanese, and Iraqis

"Kuwait has imposed a ban on issuing family visit visas to seven countries including Pakistan. The Kuwaiti Interior Ministry has issued a notification to the Immigration Department stating not to issue family visas to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Iran, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria.
It has also been notified to the Immigration Department to search for families who visited Kuwait on visit visas, but had not left the state after their visas expired. Kuwaiti security agencies have been asked to take stern action against such people."

[Daily Times via News Blog re-Blog]

The most dangerous places to blog from

The top 5:
  • Iran
  • China
  • Peninsular Arabia (Saudi Arabia, Syria, Bahrain)
  • Malaysia
  • Zimbabwe

With 2 jailed bloggers, I understand how Iran is the most dangerous.

I also understand why Bahrain is dangerous as it has a threatened blogger, and as the list-creaters say, "The reason we did include Bahrain it that it has one of the most energetic internet filtering regimes in the world. The blogger Ali Abdulemam and two other administrators of the bulletin board BahrainOnline were arrested and detained for allowing free speech on the company's boards. Also, at least four prominent blogs in Bahrain have been blocked or shut down by governmental authorities for the content that appeared there."

The reason Iraq is not included is that it has no stable central government with a firm grip on that country's internet. The reason they did not include Israel is that, although it questioned, but did not arrest one person and detained another for questioning (later freeing both), two people for electronic activity, it has a largely unfiltered internet. The reason they did not include Cuba or North Korea is that they have no blogosphere to speak of.

I do wonder though why Saudi Arabia and Syria are on the list. I've never heard of any Syrian or Saudi blogger being contacted by the government.

Syrian and Saudi bloggers, any information?

+Anonymous Blogging viaGlobal Voices

[freedomofspeech, threatenedbloggers]

Main: AndFarAway.net

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Penguins crash Microsoft presentation

Alt-F4 is the Windows shortcut meaning "Close all Windows."

[Link for story via Boing Boing]

Happy Birthday Basem and Sami!

Basem and Sami

After few days of mind-straining, I now realize that it's very hard to write one post about two unrelated people because of the lack of combined memories. But whether I like it or not, it's the birthday of these two unrelated people, both of whom I care about so much- my cousin Basem and my friend Sami.

Basem is Kid Number 2 in the family after yours truly, and a good amount of early pictures prove that life was much better before kids 3 to 8 were born (and yes boys, I'm totally kidding).

Well, at any rate, with his top banana spirit and brilliantly hit and miss comments, Basem is a very marvelous addition to any family, especially one as unsmiling as the Dallals. He also struts the most priceless laugh in the world, a side-splitting delight in the hip-hop culture, and a killer dance move which I can't even describe. Basically, there's just no way that you can sit around Big B for more than 48 seconds without bursting out with laughter.

He's also afraid of animals, a great friend, and just absolutely CRAP with directions (he's lived in Amman his entire life and can easily get lost going back home!).

Basem and Hisham Basem

Sami, on the other hand, is allergic rather than afraid when it comes to animals and is very good with directions. We met him during those long Riyadh years, and he immediately merged into the family. At some point, he spent more time at our house than at his own home, and we all became so accustomed to Sami that being there all the time; at school, for lunch, for dabkeh, during dinner, when going out... He was the one who introduced me to The Lord of the Rings, rekindled the love of basketball in the boys, and offered philosophical advice such as "Life is a tissue".

Being in Jordan while Sami is halfway across the globe in Maryland has been one of the hardest things that came along with moving. The last time he visited us in Jordan last January, and we all miss him a lot(cannot say the same for Basem, who's been sleeping on the couch for the past several months :P You really need to come soon!).


Basem, Sami, we all love you! Happy birthday!

Main: AndFarAway.net

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Red Sea

I am in disbelief, although I know I shouldn't be.

My condolences to the family of the soldier killed by the missiles. I hope Jordanian security catches the culprits soon and shows them what they deserve.

Lost Little Roba (Part IV)

The worst thing about my department is that they are so UNORGANIZED. For example, for the next semester, I have a class that's from 8:00 to 11:00 on Sundays/Tuesdays and 11:00 to 3:00 on Thursdays. That means that my Sun/Tues/Thurs schedule is dead. Apparently, the only other department that serves Sun/Tues classes is the Engineering Department, but I don't know of any architecture classes that I would actually find useful for my future career in design and not too difficult for someone who doesn't have any engineering foundation. Any help?

Course list for Engineering Department, course list for all departments.

I wouldn't mind in any other class in any other department as long as it's a 3 hour credit course, given that it is in English, doesn't require science skills, and not too difficult.

Help would be totally appreciated...

Wisdom teeth

"Me? I am more confident in the idiocy of people than my in my smarts."

-Abu Samer, 19-08-2005

Samer, Samar, Sameer, Sameera

Well, because...

Steve Jobs was three months late in filling a name for his new business, and he threatened to call his company after his favorite fruit if the other colleagues didn't suggest a better name by 5 o'clock.

And apparently, no one did, because apples happen to be the favorite fruit of Apple Computers founder Steve Jobs.


[How IT companies got their names via Subzero Blue]

Main: AndFarAway.net

Thursday, August 18, 2005

I have become comfortably numb

One of the very best things in the world is great music in a good setting- add to that a female Jordanian drummer and a couple of Pink Floyd songs and you get a winner.

(You know, one of those head-banging "Ahh, I'm in heaven" sort of winner.)

Today, we tuned into another one the Funk-On-Tour Battle of the Bands competitions featuring Secret Chords versus Echoes at Champions. It was a drastic change from last week's episode, as thankfully, it was lacking the rather freaky crowd, the too-loud music, and the annoying set up. Champions indeed makes an excellent choice for such a competition.

Battle of the Bands

Anyhow, I am deeply impressed at the level of beautiful music that Echoes was able to bring to us tonight. They played some of my very favorite all time singles such Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" and "Comfortably Numb", as well as several Red Hot Chili Peppers singles(I love the Peppers). Apparently, two of the members are also a part of Rum. The lead singer, Abu Taleb, has an excellent voice, he actually pulls off the Pink Floyd sound wonderfully.

Another member of the band, Natasha, also struts a lot of talent as she not only sings, but is also plays both the drums and the flute. I just love it when I see young Jordanian women participating in local rock scenes, and playing drums too! (Go Natasha!)

Battle of the Bands

The other band that played was Secret Chords who actually started the show with some wonderful rock numbers like "Don't Speak", "Long Train Running", and "Don't Look Back at me in Anger". Again, I found myself really pleased at the healthy ratio of males to females in the band, especially as the drummer in this band is also a girl. Repeating, cheers to girls who take up "unlikely" instruments such as drums and guitars!

There is another competition tomorrow at Champions featuring Echoes versus Jadal, and I will most probably go. I'm not sure if Jadal are any good, but Echoes are certainly worth it.

bay 3936 Battle of the Bands

Battle of the Bands

Main: AndFarAway.net

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Unsurprise Surprise

In Dubai:

"Farewell to schwarma, if the bumbling bureaucrats have their way. First they forced tiny kebab shops to put their grills inside, removing a traditional and temptingly-aromaed sight from the street.

Unsurprise-surprise: it's making the restaurants too hot for people to sit in.

Exactly what implications does this have for outdoor events like the Global Village? Will they ban schwarmas there, and everything else cooked outside, such as saj bread? The reason for moving the grills inside was "pollution". Given we breathe in gallons of thick sand smog, industrial fumes and traffic exhaust daily, does anyone care about a few more flecks of dust on their schwarma?"

[Via Secret Dubai Diary]

Whatttt? What the hell! Aside from the fact that I love Shawerma, I'd hate to see beautifully Arabian stalls replaced by fastfood chains such as Burger King! If we can't maintain a deeper cultural identity in this globalized age, can we at least hang on to our culinary culture?

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

8:11 AM.


It's too hot. TOO GODDAMN HOT.

(WeatherUnderground is lying, it is so not 24 degrees)

Lord, have mercy on us! Make it cool down! Make it cool down!

Main: AndFarAway.net

Monday, August 15, 2005

Stephood to Geekdom

When writing an email, using MS Word, communicating via MSN Messenger, or doing anything with any other normal ignorant-mass-consumption software, I absent-mindedly use html tags for bold, italic, and other random stuff only to remember that this software was designed for normal people who think that"Etsh-tee-im-el" is the French term for Ishmael.

My poor baby...

Swa2a 101 : "Eight-sided red STOP signs mean you must make a full stop whenever you see a STOP sign."


And so, I spent my morning and my evening in the Shmesani Police Center, Al-Abdali where the insurance company is, and Marka.

Thankfully, my car isn't too hurt(although the irresponsible man's car is akleh hawa bilsha2loob), but my poor baby is going to have to spend 10 days in Marka at the body shop to fix her right wing.

Ah, 10 days without my car in the summer!

bay 3902 bay 3908

Man, if your Bluetooth ID is charming, I'm sure you're hot!

Via Boing Boing
Source: MSNBC

(Reading such stories online just brings out the flavour!)

I didn't have the pleasure of experiencing the flirting via Bluetooth phenomena because Bluetooth got popular after we left the Saudi Arabia, but I did get to laugh at the even more hilarious phenomena of "Targeem"(think phone numbers displayed on cars).

Haha, too bad my phone doesn't have Bluetooth(and yes, I'm being totally sarcastic, I mean, hooking up via cellphone is even worse than hooking up via the internet!)


RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - The restaurant, like all Riyadh eateries, has taken precautions to prevent its male and female diners from seeing or contacting each other.

Yet despite the barriers, the men and women flirt and exchange phone numbers, photos and kisses. They elude the mores imposed by the kingdom's puritanical Wahhabi version of Islam - formulated in the 18th century — by using a 21st century device in their mobile phones: the wireless Bluetooth technology that permits users to connect without going through the phone company.

"It's more fun coming to a restaurant these days," said Mona, 21, as her two friends giggled. Their Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones rested on the table next to the remnants of a dinner of club sandwiches and fries.

Users activate the Bluetooth function in their phone and then press the search button to see who else has the feature on within a 30-foot range. They get a list of ID names of anyone in the area — names, mostly in Arabic, often chosen to allure: poster boy, sensitive girl, lion heart, kidnapper of hearts, little princess, prisoner of tears. Some are more suggestive, like "nice to touch" and "Saudi gay club." Users then click on a name to communicate with that person.

Abdul-Aziz al-Aseeri, a 25-year-old computer science teacher, said he tells his students that Bluetooth technology can be misused. "I warn them of the dangers of having pictures of their mothers and sisters ending up in the phones of their classmates," he said.

But for many Saudi youths, who have almost nowhere to meet members of the opposite sex, the technology is a godsend. It is replacing a favorite method of flirting: throwing phone numbers at women through car windows or in shopping malls(targeem!).

With Bluetooth, men and women can safely flirt at malls, restaurants and even traffic lights.

"Last night I sent an angel to watch over you, but he came back soon," said one message. "I asked him why, and he answered, 'Am not allowed to watch over other angels."'

"I use Bluetooth to meet girls," said the 24-year-old businessman. "The religious police cannot catch me." His long, dark hair combed back, Muhammad said when he sees a woman walking past, he presses the search button in the hope her phone's Bluetooth is on.

With women forced to cover up in the kingdom, how can he tell if she is someone he would like to start a relationship with?

"I check her Bluetooth ID," he said. "If it's cute, then I'm pretty sure she will be pretty."

Read all of the article here.

Note: I, by no means, mean to offend anyone.

Main: AndFarAway.net

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Abu Mahjoob, Live and Uncensored

bay 3872

Today, I came upon the Mahjoob bus.

bay 3869

How um, authentic...

Main: AndFarAway.net

Friday, August 12, 2005

A very Ammanish flea market

Amman this summer is absolutely wonderful! There's just so much going on- concerts, festivals, sports events, and even flea markets.

Today, I went to my very first Ammanite flea market, JARA, with it's lovely little wooden chairs, a mosaic of Jordanian art from embroidery to stained glass, and the underexpressed "faya3a" part of the young Ammanite culture.

A flea market in Jordan is not an unknown concept, because one way or another, the shopping areas crowded with "bastat"(sellers selling on rugs) are actually a more ethnic sort of flea market. Yet, the JARA flea market, with it's younger more Westernized approach, is probably the first of its type- I totally loved the semi-spontaneous nature and vendor-oriented open-market layout. My favorite part though was the fact that it's in one of Jabal Amman's old streets, my favorite place in all the world. Jabal Amman's history goes back to the 1930's, making it one of the oldest parts of a new city in one of the oldest countries.

The colorful stalls are laid out along Fawzy Ma'louf Street, a favorite winter retreat of ours. We would buy shawerma, park at it's very end(like many of Amman's old streets, the street ends and stairs start), and enjoy the beauty of Amman's mountains. You can see pictures taken during one of those excursions here. It's a little weird to imagine that the street that today was bustling and hustling with so much energy is the same street in the pictures.

I will redirect you to a post on 360 East to read a more detailed review of Amman's very first flea market, but I will share pictures. The flea market will open every Friday until October, when the street will start looking dreary with Amman's rain season again, and it will reopen come spring.

All images magically grow when clicked.

Jara Flea Market, Amman Jara Flea Market, Amman
Left: I really love mosaics, and this is such a cute way to use them. Right: the Abu Mahjoob booth! Yes, Abu Mahjoob actually has a booth. He even has tattoos.

Jara Flea Market, Amman Jara Flea Market, Amman
Left: General view of bazaar. Right: the Book@Cafe booth and cafe.

Jara Flea Market, Amman Jara Flea Market, Amman
Left: T-shirt competition is hot, hot, hot at the JARA flea market! This booth celebrates the wonders of being a Ammani girl with t-shirts that say stuff like "I survived El-Souq" and "leish za3lan?". Right: selling pottery

Jara Flea Market, Amman Jara Flea Market, Amman Jara Flea Market, Amman
Left: I totally love the first picture, I want those cute little chairs and tables! Center: they even have live music at the flea market, they were taking a break when I took the picture though. Right: A very, very Ammanite scene for you...