My days and thoughts....

Blog covering some selected happenings in my life.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

United States has 19 million new infections every year!!!!

With reference to Dr. Razavi's Good to Know Info: It's Not the Davinci Code... post on Dr Razavi's blog who is a doctor working in Google, she posted a link to the Centre of disease control talking about a major problem in the United States which is Sexually Transmitted Diseases. They are one of the leading countries in the world with such enormous number of cases.

According to the link to CDC's report, the...

CDC estimates that 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24. In addition to the physical and psychological consequences of STDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs associated with STDs in the United States are estimated at $13 billion annually.

It would be more interesting to add that there is currently a mumps outbreak in the Mid West states in the US, also among college students with cases doubling in the last week with the state of Iowa reaching 1000 cases!!! Even today, April 28th, a new case has been reported in Georgia!! This is obviously sexually transmitted as well.

This will definitly take its toll on the natural growth rate of population as more people will get sterile and be not able to have children.

I guess the gulf countries governments have to issue travel and health warnings for its students and people there ;). France and the rest of Europe have to rejoice that Arabs were not think of the US as a travel destination for sexual pleasure. Anyways, prostitution is illegal in the US.

I always thought of America as more conservative compared to Europe and Canada. But the trend has been changing and soon the churces there will lose their grip on people.

I guess we Egyptians are aware of consequences of sexually transmitted diseases given that there was that movie by Tareq Allam and Ezzat Abou Ouf called "El Agenda El Hamra" The red note that handled this issue including complications of the syphilis disease. Its not only Egypt afterall that fails in its health campaigns. The safe sex campaign seems to have no effect among the educated college students of the United States. At least Egypt got rid of the polio (infantile paralysis) through a major campaign that dealt with millions of illiterate people and ignorance of many others.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Egypt Daylight Saving Time (Summer Time)

Shortly, at 12am, time will be advanced 1 hour to 1am to start the Summer Daylight Saving Time here in Egypt. Instead of being GMT +2, it will be GMT+3 untill the end of April.

Daylight Saving Time takes effect on the last thursday of April and ends on the last thursday of September. This has been the case for the last 10 years. Before that, it was between the first of May and the first of October. This was so dumb because most of the time, the change of time took place during the week, so e Egypt lazy employees find it difficult to wake up on time and adapt on the change fastly. Anyways, it was a wise decision to be praised by Atef Sedky's government.

However, there is an issue that is coming up with the change of time back to Standard time (Winter time as its called in Egypt) which is advancing of the holy month Ramadan. Due to the difference of Gregorian and hijri calendars which is 11 days and 12 days in leap years, almost every 33 years, hijri calendar gets closer by one year to the Gregorian. That's why it may be possible to witness muslims feasts (Eids) in the same year like this year, the Wa2fa of the Adha Eid will take place on December 31st and it took place on January 11th as well earlier this year.

The summer time should end on Thursday, September 29th 2006, however, Ramadan starts on approximately September 23rd. This means that there will be two different times for fasting in Ramadan, one that lasts from 23-28 of September with Fajr and Maghreb times (5.30am till6.50pm) and from 28 Sept - 21 Oct with fasting times from (4.30am till 5.30pm). Members of parliaments raised doubts about that last year but not this. The governmnet announced that the summer time would end on the first day of Ramadan. Now we are back to the first problem. Time will be changed on a Saturday or a Sunday depending on the start of Ramadan. This will cause the same problems that happened 10 years ago when time is changed in the middle of the week and that people can't adapt to it. Now it will be Ramadan, when the stupid people start blaming every single type of shit on Ramadan (including memebers of my family). No people would go to work then.

What happens the 3 years later in 2009 when Ramadan starts on around August 20th and ends before the end of summer time which is the last thursday in September? Will summer time be resumed for a week? What about the following years? Will summer time be resumed for one month and then go back to winter time? What the hell is going on? Why not leave the summer time till its normal ending date? Why not suspend this summer time for good instead of messing with time? I am waiting for another joke by the dumb government of Egypt in 2009.

How was the government handling this situation 33 years and 66 years ago? Back then I think summer saving time was not taking place. It has been decreed and cancelled many times since the 1950s and the last time i came back was in 1980s.

It is simple. Either keep it or cancel it. Also cancelling fasting in Ramadan would be another suggestion as it would solve the government this coming hastle.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Whom am I writing for?

Is it for people? those less then a dozen who come here directed for search engines everyday? for people i know who might peek in for while every year? for other bloggers in what is called a blogosphere? Or am I writing for myself? Just vent my thoughts out or speaking out of what I read, see or hear for something that at least listens. Yes. The machine listens. It doesn't care for what I say but will just store it in a database and will serve to any wanderer who passes by here. So I don't have to give a shit for the audience or for what I write. I have these different thoughts and opinions that are not fixed. They don't have to be fixed. You know why? This you refers to me at the first place and may refer to others if they wish. Almost Everything is relative and almost nothing is absolute. Some few fundamental things are absolute like the existence of god and related issues that are defined by religion. These are things we can't alter or sometimes we can't understand. For instace, a day is not exactly 24 hours. The density of water is not exactly 1 g/m^3. Any object that we are seeing is not definitly still. What about the soul? What is it? What is the purpose behind our life? People don't have to read what I write. They don't have to listen to what I say. I think I am writing to myself. Are there any constraints around my thoughts? May be. Why? What are they? Fear? Cowardness? Unexpressiveness? Void?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Attacks on Churches in Alexandria: Real criminal uncovered

This time the real suspect is known. It not that stupid lie our government said about the mentally ill guy. It is us, the passive people of Egypt. The incident in its essence has nothing to do with religion at all. It has to do with the ignorance of the Egyptian citizens.

I think this is time to face our own fears. We have to admit that there is something wrong. Its not about religion and intolerance. No. It has to do with democracy. If we are living in a real democracy none of that would had happened (not the incident, but the announcement).

I feel humiliated to read that the suspect is has mental problems. I felt humiliated more to read fake news in the newspaper in the next day that crazy dude has broke into a mosque in mansoura and injured those who were praying. Every time like a dick-heads we watch or read that the suspect has mental problems. If we just face it like that and let it go then we, the people of Egypt are the ones who are mentally retarded. We have to face the government, demand full explanation of everything that happens, real clartity and transparency. We have to ask for our rights.

We have to ask for the municipal elections that was postponed for two years. We have to ask for a fair government, a fair president and a fair treatment. If we just stick our butts on the chairs then we will be annihilated. The world is different now. We, Egyptians, won't be able to live with our passiveness. We have to stop fooling ourselves that we have been so since the pharaoh and life will go on. No. It is different now.

We are moving into the dark realms of the age of ignorance, where extremism will prevail. Violence breeds violence.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Egyptian pound is now a coin instead of banknotes

Finally it was officially today in Ahram newspaper that the Egyptian, the 1 LE bill and the 0.50 (50 piasters) bill will be replaced by coins effective 1st of June 2006. The equivalent papernotes will be taken out of the market eventually. The 1 LE coin is consists of a copper-nickel outer ring and a copper-aluminium inner core. It will be similar to the Canadian toonie and the british sterling 2 pound coin. It will bear the face of Tutankhamoun and the word 1 LE in Arabic on its back. Its radius will be 25 millimetres (1 inch") and weigh 8 grams.

In addition to the 1 LE coin, there will also be a 0.50 LE coin that will also replace the banknote. The coin will consist of a copper-aluminium alloy with the same radius but a 6.5 grams weight. Queen Cleopatra would feature on that coin.

I remember I read about the new coins last year, in addition to a 200 LE note but nothing has been mention of it.

I remember I had this conversation with a friend of mine commenting on the announcement of the new coins last year expressing his fears that the taxi drivers will refuse taking 3 LE in coins and will demand a higher fare then. I guess this will be a problem with people accepting coins that has a value given that there exists a coins with almost a higher value than the 20 LE bill like the 2 pounds coin in Britain. However, the Egyptian pound has suffered a lot of devaluation last years that people began to look down on it. If this is the case, then why not introduce a 5 LE coin?

I also have some plans for the new 1 LE coin. Since we are in Egypt and it is produced in Egypt by a governmental entity, the quality of the new coin is expected to be crappy. I wil try to dismantle the new coin by putting it in the deep freezer. I expect the outer rim to separate from the core. Till then.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Suckle your baby and eat burger in the stadium: Ahly Vs. Ettehad

Yesterday, Thursday, April 13th, I decided to go to the stadium instead of going back home and watch the league game between Ahly and Ettehad Of Alexandria. Yes Ettehad has a website. Can you believe that. Go to The website of the "Seberto" fans in Alexandria. They are also posting some bullshit on their wesbite

علم اتحاد دوت كوم أن جماهير النادى الاهلى قامت عقب مباراة الفريق فى استاد الكلية الحربية و التى انتهت بهزيمة للاتحاد بهدف نظيف بألقاء الحجارة على اتوبيسات الجماهير مما ادى الى تحطيم اعداد كبيرة من زجاج الاتوبيسات و وافانا أعضاء رابطة مشجعي الاتحاد التى كانت وراء الفريق في مباراته كما هي العادة, بأن فوجئت بوابل من الحجارة عقبالخروج من استاد الكلية الحربية و بدأ البعض من جماهير الاتحاد بدأ فى الرد و تحطيم بعض السيارات الخاصة فى منطقة مجاورة من الاستاد و لكن العقلاء منعوهم من ذلك لتظل جماهير الاتحاد معروفة بأخلاقها الرفيعة

which didn't happen because I myself was infront of the entrance to the Military Academy stadium in the Salah Salem street when the buses were coming out. Interestingly, it was the Ettehad fans who started swearing at Ahly in the match which is not what I want to talk about.

What I witnessed today in the stadium was kinda outrageous. I was in Daraga Tanya (Second Class) and there were a lot of families and couples who now think of the stadium as a hangout. What I couldn't believe what I saw. A woman was suckling her baby in the stadium while surrounded by a majority of men. This is the most absurd thing I have ever seen in my life in the stadium. What the heck was she doing? Why did she go to the stadium in the first place if she knew she was going to bare her breast in public and suckle her infant? Where was her husband? She could have gone downstairs or sat where people could not see her. I know she is free to go to the stadium with her infant but not free to do so with thousands of men around her.

Later on in the match fans briefly used profanity against Ettehad and Mortada Mansoor the troublesome president of Zamalek Club.

I also witnessed a new phenomena in the stadium, since this is my first league game after the African nations cup which Egypt won last February. Burger is also being sold along the 3agwa, boreek and leb in the stadium. Yeah, Burger and Franfurter. If you don't believe me here is a picture I took with my phone's camera.

Seriously, I long to those old days. The stadium is boring with the new atmosphere and standards of spectators. No one is willing to cheer. Ticket prices have doubled and tripled compared to last year. In previous years, whether in Cairo Stadium on in Military Academy, the seating was as follows: there were 2 main categories, the first one is the first Class which cost 15 LE ($ 2.60 USD) and the other was the second and third class seats combined into one category with a ticket that cost 5 LE ($ 0.87 USD).
After the frenzy of the nations cup, it became as follows after separating the second and third class seats: First Class 25 LE ($ 4.34 USD) , Second Class 15 LE ($ 2.60 USD) and Third Class 10 LE ($ 1.74 USD).
These prices are for league games. Derbies, African Competitions and special matches prices are double and triple that, specially if they are held in Cairo International Stadium. This is because the stadiums authorities increased the rent of the stadiums and maintenance fees, in addition to the ministry of Electricity and power that doubled its tariff for kilowatthour. This has negatively affected the number of people cheering. Even the morons of the Ahly Fans Club, (AFC), their numbers are much less now. I'd rather go to cinema than go to boring games.

Friday, April 07, 2006

First Arabic Post

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
قررت اني أكتب بالعربي
طبعا انا مجبر اني أكتب بالعربي
بسبب البحث اللي هكتبه لمادة الأدب العربي
الحديث. البحث ده كان ممكن أكتبه و أقدمه عادي
أو أوديه لمكتب من بتوع الكتابه دول أو أي حد من
صحابي و لكن مش هينفع كده خالص بسبب خطّي اللي
عامل زي افرازات المخلفات الهضميه.
أنا بحاول أكتب بالعربي علي الكيبورد و لكن سرعتي
بطيئه جداَ و مع انّي بحاول و لكن الواحد زهق خالص
المهم أختم كلامي بالبيت الشعري الشهير اللي
مدرسين العربي في فترة الدراسة الإعدادية بسنواتها الثلاثة
كانوا بيتحفونا بيه و طبعاَ هو حلوته سماعي مش كتابه
و اني لما بكتبه كده بحرم ناس كتير انها تستمتع بيه
و لكن ما أظنش انه حد بقي ليه في الشعر القديم و
أنا أصلاَ ما أحبش اي نوع من أنواع الشعر

طرقت الباب حتي كل متني فلما كل متني كلمتني
فقالت لي يا اسماعيل صبراَ فقلت لها يا اسما عيل صبري

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Amr Shabana is Squash's World Number one!!!

This a big shame that its not of the top news in our newspapers. Its not even on the website of Ahly Sporting Club official website who are now sponsoring the player.

But Amr Shabana, the Egyptian squash champion is now on the top of the world ranking. He is no.1 now. He jumped 2 places, from the 3rd to the 1st in April well actually because of the former top ranked player Jonathan Power retired while being on the top which is a very wise decision. The rankings have just been released yesterday, April 3rd and haven't been published yet on the World Squash Federation website.

I was the once a fan of this game during the glory days of the now actor and singer Ahmed Barada and one of my friends is Tarek Moe'men a junior squash champion who will suffer a setback in his squash career because of enrolling in Electronics Engineering which will severly affect his intesive training program.

Check the news for your self

Shabana tops squash rankings

CARDIFF, Wales (CP) - Egypt's Amr Shabana replaced Montreal's
Jonathon Power in the No. 1 spot in the latest world rankings, released Monday
by the Pro Squash Association.
Shabana, the 26-year-old left-hander from
Cairo, is the 10th player to top the world list since the inaugural rankings
were produced more than 20 years ago.
The April ranking list is the first
since Power announced his surprise retirement shortly after returning to No. 1
in March.
Shabana won four titles in 2005, including his second world
championship in Hong Kong. He also beat Power in the Canadian Classic final in
Toronto last January and won the Tournament of Champions last month in New York.
Australia's David Palmer retained second place in the rankings. James
Willstrop of England, Thierry Lincou of France and Australia's Anthony Ricketts
round out the top five.
Toronto's Graham Ryding was the top Canadian. He
moved up one spot to No. 18.

Here is the source, a canadian website, the owners of the sun newspapers in canadian cities.

Amr Shabana is on the top of the World

and a website of him

Monday, April 03, 2006

Ahdaf Souief Lecture in the American University in Cairo

English Public Lecture by Novelist Ahdaf Soueif

Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif '73 will be delivering a lecture titled "A Matter of Agency: The Image of the Arab in English and American Fiction Today" on April 6 in Ewart Memorial Hall from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Soueif is author of In the Eye of the Sun, Aisha, Sandpiper, Mezzaterra and The Map of Love (shortlisted for the 1999 Booker Prize) and also writes cultural and political articles in English and Arabic which are published in Europe and the Arab world.

(I think there will be a book signing session by her, but not sure about that)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Ahdaf Souief: In the eye of the sun

I think this is the first non translated arabic literature written in English directly that I ever read in my life. I read short stories for Mohamed Tewfik but this is the first novel to read under such category. This arabic literature in translation course is the best seminar subsitute choice I have taken.

Well, I have some problems imagining how Egypt was in the 60s and the more I read the more I form that image. Well, life under the socialist tyrant authoritarian oppressive regime lead by Abdel Nasser was horrible in Egypt. Security on campus? Permission to hang a poster? Ali Badrakhan's El Karnak is what came in mind for a while. Not only that, going around in trams, the 55 piastres paid to the taxi for the distance between Cairo University and Hasan Sabry street in Zamalek.

From my reading to the first 300 pages of the novel I am getting more sure that the generation of people in Egypt born between 1940-1960 have phsychological problems. This is equivalent to the baby boomers in the United States. Yeah, I know I am speaking here about parents and grandparents. But this is my own opinion. This opinion was influenced by my sociological studies and history readings as well. I think one of the major reasons behind that is the socialist live and then the 1967 war followed by the rise of the illeterate craftsmen in the 70s after Sadat's liberation that was economicaly wrong.

What also pazzled me a lot is her relationship with Saif Madi. I think she didn't really love him. After for years of love interrupted by a lustful events in her journey to Italy and then not wanting a Baby from him. This is what attaches a woman to man. Even in our recent times with highly educated people living in high standards, children, in addition to intimacy, is what forms that eternal bond between a man and a woman. Saif seems to be a cool, loving guy. But Asya has that same trait with all women. There is something common about women in their relationship with men, even with Amina and Se El Sayed Ahmed, sometimes they show it and other times they don't even if they are very passive or defiant. This thing is apparent in all gender novels either in Arabic or in English. She wanted him, for 4 years she wanted him yet he refused to harm her till marriage. After marriage, or after engagement she didn't like him. Is it her problem that she makes him feel like that or that she is 8 years younger? When I read Chrissie's letter to her, I told myself, this is what Asya deserves. Saif should have married a second wife.

What about Gerald Stone? He too is an important character in the novel. To Asya, Gerald is like any other man. He could represnt the the british conqueror. But, probably he is just in the novel to show that all men are alike, possessive and ignorant of women feelings. This is obvious in my opinion. Well, I have nothing against that. Maybe its just a stereotype about a novel writen by woman however, it might be true. However, Gerald is greedy here. He is incompetent. Down to the novel level, Asya was getting on my nerves by being so submissive to him. I was glad that she got rid of him in New York City.

Hamid Morsy is another problem. Why is he suffering like that? Getting crushed between two big military truck in front of the military officers club on the eve of the war? Losing his hand and having it amputated later on? Getting cancer and fighting death after that? Not to mention his father's dislike for him being with him in his shop? He is also suffering the neglect of Sunny his wife? Does he reperesnt Egypt? Starting to weaken in 1967 and almost dying in 1979? I am not sure about that. May be there is other explanation.

Also I tried to figure out Asya's PhD. problem in England. What's wrong with her? Why did she suddenly find everything difficult? Why didn't she understand it. While reading the bits and pieces about the metaphors and explanations she was using, the first thing that came in my mind was the discrete mathematics course in which i got the worst grade ever in my life. Did she really went to England for the Ph.D? I don't think so. Asya didn't find herself in Egypt so she went to England. Her troubles with the PhD. were symbolic of her unhappiness in England too.

Another interesting thing about the novel is the multiple stories taking place in the novel, most in from of letters between Egypt and England. But I lived the story of Fouad El Sennary and Chrissie El trabulsi as if I was watching it on TV. If the novel wasn't first published in 1992, I would have said that Ahdaf copied it from "Al Mal wal Banoun"? It is very similar to that series. The same thing happened between Hanan Turk and Wael Nour in the series. Also story of Leon and Nicole. It started long before their marriage and continued later on. Nicole always hater Leon and Leon didn't want children. Not to mention her own relationship with Gerald. Oh!, what's wrong with Ahdaf, all men are villains in this novel or what?

As far as I understood, this is a pseudo autobiography for Ahdaf herself. I believe she included reflections of real family members in that story. If I were to write

In the Eye of the Sun would make a good 2 parts tv series in Egypt similar to Lialy El Helmia. I would call it "Al Hob Al Da'ea'" or "Al Bahth 'an hob", The lost love or searching for love.

Last words:
My next step: Son3alla Ibrahim. I read a couple of reviews for his books and he is one I should be reading for.

[update] Ahdaf Souief is here in Egypt and she will give a lecture in the American University in Cairo from 5-7pm.