Monthly Archives: April 2011

My Father and Facebook

My Dad is also one of my Facebook friends.  Just to clarify, I’m way way over the age of  needing parental supervision online: my father is in his early seventies.

He initially got a Facebook account to stay in touch with my brothers and his grandchildren abroad, to share photos and so on, however, he caught the social network fever, and now spends a lot of time being actively involved in online debates and in back and forth comments about the issues of the day.  He has caught up with the basic jargon, and uses  BRB, WTF, and LOL, in his daily lingo, leaving my mother a bit boggled and probably thinking; “haram, the poor man is beginning to go senile, what is he saying?”  He told me he wanted to get a Twitter account next.

As many others of his generation, he is addicted to news, but now delights in getting his news from different sources and people, and discussing it instantaneously.  He also likes the cheesy and corny notes, videos, and general gibberish that is thrown in the social media soup.

Not too many of his friends are on Facebook, probably none are, but he has managed to create his new virtual network of people that he interacts with regularly, and occasionally plays a game of online poker with.  He is interacting with many people who are much younger than he is, and with whom he would not have the chance to interact in real life, and this is keeping him young too!

This got me to thinking that there might be a niche market that social networks  had never counted on attracting: retirees who are not technologically challenged with time on their hands, and with ideas, knowledge, and insights to share.

People of my father’s generation can enrich the online experience with their insights, and they stand to benefit from this  vibrant new communication method: It reintegrates them into the main stream of today’s quickly changing world of the “young”.



Filed under Social Organization

Insomnia, Inspiration, and Insurrection

It’s not a case of writer’s block, or the disappearance of the muse: it’s just a bad case of the “blahs”.

The world  is shaky, not just metaphorically!  And, there is too much information coming from here, there, everywhere, and not enough time to process anything to a logical end…

I told a friend today: “I think I’ve lived too much”, mind you I didn’t say “too long”.

What do you do when nothing worries you anymore, and nothing delights you anymore?  You escape to the mind, and fall into the arms of insomnia to seek inspiration.

Insomnia is an attentive lover, and an intellectually stimulating companion.  It is a great hallucinogen that has very few side effects (it doesn’t make one want to go and demonstrate in the streets it just gets you tired enough to become completely apathetic).

Revolutions are what happen inside our heads when we throw out the old guard of our own minds.  All real revolutions have been the sons and daughters of ideas and not of brutal movements.

My insomnia and I are going to conceive some ideas together… stay tuned!

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Virtual Pheromones and Online Atmosphere!

It suddenly occurred to me as I was busy communicating with my many online contacts (business and personal) that I had been sitting in the same spot and that I hadn’t actually used my voice in hours.  Although in my mind I was speaking to many people who were all in different places.

This new ease in crossing borders and in meeting people felt almost surreal at one point, the only physical activity involved is the tapping of fingers on a keyboard.  The sensual experience of communication is shrinking, and the intellectual experience may be expanding.  We tend to use our minds more than our physical bodies in this new world of online communication: our imagination needs to create a physical context.  It made me think of some science fiction concepts, like transporters and simulators, that we are already using in our minds.

Not so long ago, people used to meet in person, whether for business or for recreation, they met in physical places.  These places are slowly shifting to virtual settings, and interaction is more “mind over matter” as our actual physical influences on the situation are gradually taken away.  We do not look the person we are communicating with in the eye, we do not see their actual use of space, we can’t read the body language or hear a certain pitch in a voice, we are unable to catch a scent or shake a hand: all things that we rely on to form an impression in the real world.

The influence of the space we are in is also dissolving: meeting in a board room, a garden, a cafe etc… are also aspects that create context and atmosphere in the human communication experience.

It made me wonder whether this lack of actual physical human contact will tip the social scales against those who are verbally challenged, but who do well in actual social situations. Will it make those who are able to communicate by keyboard better than they are at communicating personally the new leaders?  Will we eventually abandon the senses that are not needed for this form of communication?  Many other questions come to mind…

Right now I feel like using my actual voice to communicate, so I’m leaving the house to go to an actual place and to physically meet some people to talk!


Filed under Social Organization

الأديب أنسي الحاج

هذا لا يُعفي من ملاحظة: بدأت تتكوّن حول الانتفاضات تخوّفات. ما انطلق عفويّاً طاهراً يتهدّده هنا وهناك خطرُ استعمالٍ غير بريء وخطرُ تجييرٍ وتوظيف أقلّ ما يمكن وصفهما أنّهما مجهولا الهويّة. المؤكد الإيجابي الوحيد حتّى الآن في هذا المدّ هو كسرُ الخوف من أنظمةِ القمع. موقفنا من هذا مبدئي، وندعو إلى تعميم النموذج. مع الرجاء أن تسفر الانتفاضات عن نتائج لا تحلّ فيها مقدّسات إرهابيّة جديدة محلّ مقدّساتٍ إرهابيّة قديمة.
خجلُ الكتابةِ في معارك الأحرار أنّها لا تستطيع أن تدفع الثمن الذي يدفعونه. وخوفها المقيم هو أن تتحوّل إلى شاهد زور.

لقرائة المقال الكامل

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All Modern Governments are Oppressive Regimes

Even in the most democratic of systems, certain individuals and groups will be oppressed, whether on the basis of ideology, ethnicity, religion, economics, race, etc…  The concept of “If you’re not with us, you’re against us” (meaning you become a potential enemy of the state) is still very much alive in today’s politics, and it manifest itself in different ways.

People who think and behave in a way that does not agree with the government’s vision (whether the government is democratic, dictatorial, theocratic…) will be persecuted or at best marginalized.

Oppression is not exclusive to totalitarian systems: the rule of the majority in so called “democratic” states is by default oppressive to the minorities.  Although the levels of oppression may vary from one state to the other, it remains a product of power struggles that are the direct result of fear: fear from fundamental system changes and loss of control of resources. This oppression may not always be overt or violent, in the more democratic systems it takes on an underground quality, psychologically terrorizing those who are in dissent into submission.  Here I think it is important to give a detailed example experienced first hand:

1.  The Arab American and Muslim American communities in the United States, especially after the September 11 attacks, became direct targets of this psychological state terrorism.  People of all Middle Eastern descent felt threatened, and those in disagreement with the government’s ensuing policies and actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, became direct targets.  The word “Guantanamo” to this population became synonymous with some of the symbols of oppression in their countries of origin.  Even Americans who are not of Middle Eastern heritage, and who did not agree with the new “anti-terror” hysteria felt threatened.  This continues to this day, many are afraid to voice their real opinions and thoughts because they feel as though they are being watched by “Big Brother”, and that at any moment, they can be accused to have ties with “Al Qaeda” and then their livelihoods and lives would be destroyed.  These first generation immigrants who fled politically and economically oppressive systems find themselves living in uncertainty in what was supposed to be “the land of the free”.  And the second and third generation Americans of Middle Eastern and Muslim origins find themselves alienated in the only home they have ever known.

There are many other examples of this sort of covert oppression in all modern democracies, and lots of them that have nothing to do with cultural issues, but with ideological, racial, and even philosophical issues.  Just because a government is democratic, does not mean it is not oppressive to sections of its own citizenry.

This is a struggle that has always existed, and I am not saying that I have an inkling about a solution, I’m just saying that it is important to discern that the way we have come to govern ourselves has some major flaws, and that no government is truly just.

As we say in Arabic”ما حدا أحسن من حدا “or very loosely translated: same shit, different place.


Filed under Political, Social Organization

Who’s Really Running the World? Part 2

The individuals I talked about in Part 1, you know, the ones with good intentions, become part of organizations, large and very influential organizations.  Mostly they are known as Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs). NGO’s however, especially the multinational ones, have very close ties with governments, especially the multinational ones!

And as I also mentioned in Part 1, these individual become united and bound by terminology and not ideology.  They join organizations with high ideals and shiny ideas of how to make the world a better place.  Some join for a career that takes them places.  What happens once they become part of these organizations is a sort of induction into a different society, with its own passage rites and its own way of doing things.  Eventually, and in an almost cult like way, the terminology takes over and becomes the goal.  These huge organizations take on a life of their own, and their shiny banners of equality, development, empowerment, relief, and advocacy draw the admiration and respect of the masses.

But what is really happening in the corridors of these humanitarian mega structures?  All sorts of political agendas, and what is really dangerous about that in my opinion, is not the existence of these political agendas, but the fact that those working on disseminating them are more often than not oblivious to them, and still believe “The Terminology”.  Furthermore, they have knowingly or unknowingly been stripped of their previous belief systems, (it happens in the induction stages) and now ascribe to the new terminology based philosophy of the organization.

Another danger of these political agendas is that they usually originate in places far away from where they are meant to be put into action.  They are always based on studies though, highly empirical and done by excellent academicians and researchers.  Studies and papers and journals produced in the upper echelons of “developed” countries, meant to be totally objective, and I can safely say, that from the point of view of those “developed” countries, the studies are objective.  But the danger lies when the belief systems and values of one culture are used to fix whatever ails another, with often times different belief systems and values.

A large amount of power is wielded by these new “humanitarian” conglomerates, and this power is largely accepted because it lives under the umbrella of human rights.  I am not “advocating” against these NGOs, I’m just saying that in a very covert way, they really are running the world!


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Filed under Anthropology, Political, Social Organization

Who’s Really Running the World? Part 1

No! I’m not going to explore some conspiracy theory having to do with the mass media and those who control it.  If you want to read about such intrigue, this is not the place.

The individuals running the world are good people with honorable good intentions (I hope you know the adage about the road to hell and good intentions).  They are a little too educated, and a little too comfortable or a little too bored, and they truly and honestly believe in their ideas and their missions.  They are people who feel a little too guilty about their privileges, and who need to be humbled by the recognition of their peers.

They are united by terminology rather than ideology, and this terminology borders on the sacred, and seeps into the language of the masses eventually.

To do their noble work, they get ridiculously outrageous amounts of money from “donors”, and what they do best is “advocate” and run long drawn out research studies about the “developing world” which they think they will “sustainably develop” right after the paper on the last long drawn out study is published. But wait there’s more, sometime they even do “field work” and not in the agricultural sense of the word.

They are the Hippies of the elite, they don’t dress too well but they love throwing big names around.  And yes those big names they throw around, are often influenced by them, to change a country’s policies, or to nominate this or that person for a Nobel prize.

In part 2, I will be explaining why I think this group runs the world, and whether or not this is a good thing.  Your comments are eagerly awaited.



Filed under Political, Social Organization