Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wednesday paper clippings

Some campaign to ban music videos...


And malicious rumours about our Mufti dropping "punishment" against apostates are fought...* (* by "secularists", "fundamentalists", and the Mufti himself, sort of. This 'sort of', this hint of leniency accompanied by safe-base assurances of the contrary, sort of again, probably being the maximum he feels he can afford from his official chair under the circumstances.)


And finally, everybody; rest assured - independent experts find that nuclear reactors are good for tourism, and your greens...


* from the Egyptian Gazzette.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Game of Chess

Is this the ironic portrait of the century or what?



With the way the chessboard was made so synonymous with the image of Nasser in the Nasserist state, you would think the man was some kind of Gary Kasparov or something…

Six points:

- Crush democracy √
- Wreck economy √
- Ruin agriculture √
- Erase history √
- Terrorize population √
- Destroy army √

Check mate!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Recommended yo



It's actually pretty good.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Starbucks and the elusive blueberry seed muffin

I happen to spot a Starbucks and decide to drop in to see what the chatter is all about...

….(looking at the muffins on display behind the glass at the counter)

- Do you have blueberry muffins?

- Yes

- Ok I’ll have a blueberry muffin with my coffee please

- Yes, sir!

I take my order, sit at a table, grab my knife and fork and slice a piece of my muffin. The muffin clearly turns out to be plain from the inside. I show it to the waiter, he apologizes for the mistake and takes it away to replace the plain muffin with a blueberry one.
(Waiting, looking back, I catch a glimpse of the make-shift kitchen and see someone at work making something, and imagine him to be preparing me a new blueberry muffin...)

...(moments later with my new plate, and a new slice at my new blueberry muffin.) Wave at the waiter...

- Yes, sir

- Ummm…there’s still no blueberry in my muffin

El mohem I’m content by now more or less with my order, and after some convincing back and forth with the waiters in the vicinity that I don’t intend to make a complaint against them, they finally agree to grant me access to speak to their manager

…(eating away at my muffin, the head waiter shows up minutes later at my table…)

- How can I help you, sir

- Hi…there are supposed to be blueberries in your muffins

- There are blueberries but mixed in the muffins..."asl fih nas ma bet7ebbesh, lamo2aghza – tondogh!"

…(utters the last word with a projectile particle of saliva from his mouth shining in the air towards me against the backdrop of the sunlit room, landing thankfully away from my plate)

To be fair there were some blueberry seeds that could be spotted here and there, if you looked hard, in my muffin. And I was lucky to find one 3mm, and two 1mm by 1/2mm chunks of blueberry as I finally reached the last third of my muffin.

My only advice to you is that if you do go to your local Starbucks, just save your money and don't order the extra blueberries on your muffin. And the lesson learned, in hindsight, when reflecting on this enriching experience, is that I should have known better when I couldn't spot any sign of blueberries in the identical muffins displayed next to each other at the counter.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Keep the pens running...

بقلم د. محمود عمارة , ٩/٧/٢٠٠٧

...

«المرآة» تنبه وتحذر الإنسان من عاداته اليومية السلبية.. وأسلوب حياته المعيشية، والثقافة الغذائية.. باختصار هي تنبهنا.. تحذرنا.. لنبحث ونحلل لنغير من سلوكياتنا القاتلة لنا، لنحافظ علي صحتنا، وشكلنا، ولنحمي مستقبلنا من أي خطر محتمل، وهذه من مزايا استخدام التكنولوجيا الحديثة.

عندما رأيت هذه «المرآة» في آخر زيارة دورية لباريس، فكَّرت أن أشتري واحدة بعشرة آلاف يورو لأهديها إلي أمين السياسات جمال مبارك «المُعْلِنْ» عن مشروع القاهرة ٢٠٥٠، باعتباره الرجل الثاني في الدولة الذي يذكر اسمه قبل فتحي سرور، وصفوت الشريف.. لنقل له ولكل الجهابذة الذين يضحكون علينا، ويسخرون من ذكائنا، نقول لهم: قبل أن تفكروا في «القاهرة» ٢٠٥٠ منعزلة وحدها.. فكروا أولاً فيما سيحدث «لمصر» عموماً،.. «مصر» التي ستواجه كارثة محققة بعد ستين عاماً من الآن حسب ما نشرته منظمة «الفاو» للأغذية والزراعة وقالت بالحرف الواحد:

إن عدد سكان مصر عام ٢٠٦٥ سيصل إلي ٣٤٦.٦ مليون نسمة.. نعم سنصل إلي ثلاثمائة وستة وأربعين مليوناً، وستمائة ألف نسمة.. وأن هذه الزيادة السكانية الرهيبة ستأكل الأراضي الزراعية بالبناء عليها، بالقياس إلي العشرين سنة الماضية كالتالي:

مصر من ١٩٨٥ وحتي ٢٠٠٥ زادت من ٤٥ مليوناً إلي ٧٥ مليوناً، ففقدت ١.٣مليون فدان.. من أجود الأراضي الزراعية، وبما أن معدلات الزيادة السكانية لن تقل بأي حال من الأحوال عما هي عليه الآن فسوف يحدث التالي :

مصر من ٢٠٠٥ وحتي ٢٠٢٥ سيصل تعدادها إلي ١٢٥ مليوناً، وستفقد ٢ مليون فدان جديدة.
ومن ٢٠٢٥ حتي ٢٠٤٥ سنصل إلي ٢٠٨ ملايين نسمة يحتاجون مسكناً إضافياً علي مساحة ٣،٣ مليون فدان.. مما يعني أن مصر ستفقد خلال الأربعين سنة المقبلة ٥.٣ مليون فدان!!!

وبنفس معدلات الإنجاب، فمصر ٢٠٦٥ ستجد نفسها أمام الكارثة عندما تجد تعداد سكانها وصل إلي ٣٤٦ مليون نسمة.. وتفقد «غصباً عنها» مساحة ٥،٥ مليون فدان إضافية ليصل إجمالي المساحة المتآكلة: ٥.٣ + ٥،٥ = ١٠.٨ مليون فدان!! وبما أن المساحة المزروعة الآن هي ٨ ملايين فدان، والمستهدف حسب مواردنا المائية هو الوصول إلي ١١.٥ مليون فدان.. إذن عام ٢٠٦٥ سيتبقي لنا فقط «مليون» فدان منزرعة..

وإذا عدنا إلي تاريخ إنشاء الحزب الوطني عام ١٩٠٧ سنجد أن تعداد مصر كان أقل من ٦ ملايين مصري «يرمحون» علي مساحة ٣ ملايين فدان مزروعة.. أي أن نصيب كل مصري كان نصف فدان أي ٢٢٠٠ متر..

وبما أن الحزب الوطني الجديد قد قرر بالتعديلات الدستورية + قانون الإرهاب، وبما أنه يعلم أن الشعب المصري «تواق» إلي استمراره، وبما أنهم في الحزب قد قرروا أن يحكمونا لخمسين سنة مقبلة، ويخطط جمال مبارك من الآن لعاصمة الحكم حتي ٢٠٥٠، فعليه أولاً أن يخطط لمواجهة الكارثة.. أن يخطط لمصر التي ستتآكل أراضيها ويصبح نصيب المواطن المصري «متراً» واحدا يأكل منه ويدفن «مقرفص» تحته!

مطلوب مؤتمر قومي يضم علماء وخبراء متخصصين ليرسموا لنا أولاً «صورة» أو «شكل» مصر عام ٢٠٦٥، وبداخلها صورة لـ«القاهرة» ٢٠٥٠.. حتي لا تفاجأ الأجيال القادمة بالصورة السوداء لمصر بعد أن تصبح دولة عشوائية يعيش أهلها في مقابر جماعية علي أرضهم التي كانت مزروعة..

فيجدوا أنفسهم علي أطراف الصحراء رعاة.. حفاة.. يسوقون الماعز والإبل، ويعيشون في خيام كأهل دارفور، وتكون أمنية «المصري» أن تصبح بلاده يوماً «كبوركينا فاسو» أو موزمبيق، ووقتها لن يكون أمامهم سوي أن يلعنونا، ويجرجرونا من القبور ليحاكمونا علي ما فعلناه بمصر وبهم.. أرجوكم افعلوا شيئاً لمستقبل هذا البلد قبل فوات الأوان، وكفانا ما جري لنا، وما وصلنا إليه، وأصبحنا أضحوكة لكل من لا يسوي!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Afya battles (I love this)

Dialogues of Naguib Mahfouz
Centres of creativity
By Mohamed Salmawy

More than any other writer, Naguib Mahfouz had a strange affinity with coffeehouses. Tawfiq Al-Hakim was also a frequenter of coffeehouses, but his name was only linked to one or two cafés, the best known being Café Petro in Alexandria. Mahfouz, however, was a familiar face in a dozen or so coffeehouses in various parts of Cairo, from Gammaliya to Heliopolis.

A French writer once told me with obvious relish that he went to the Khan Al-Khalili and sat at the Naguib Mahfouz Café. "You're luckier than Mahfouz," I said. The writer never frequented that café named after him. The story is that when Mahfouz won the Nobel Prize in 1988, this coffeehouse was ready to open and the owners asked Mahfouz to let them name it after him, and he agreed. Mahfouz went to the coffeehouse once, admired its decoration, and never went back.

I once asked Mahfouz about his favourite coffeehouse, and he said he couldn't tell me that, any more than he could tell me which of his works he favoured. Mahfouz liked all the coffeehouses he used to go to at different phases of his life. The first of those, he once told me, was Qoshtomor Café, which still exists. Mahfouz named a novel after that particular café -- the novel was being serialised in Al-Ahram at the time Mahfouz won the Nobel Prize.

Mahfouz believed that Qoshtomor Café was named after a Mameluke minister. It was situated a short distance from the famous Orabi Café, which was frequented by the top writers of the generation preceding that of Mahfouz. So Mahfouz and his generation didn't dare go to that particular venue until the older generation had died.

Qoshtomor is a landmark in Mahfouz's life, being the first café that he ever frequented regularly. But the café closer to his heart was Al-Fishawi in Khan Al-Khalili, which he frequented only in Ramadan, between the sunset meal, or Iftar, and the pre-dawn one, or Sohour . At the time, Al-Fishawi occupied a much bigger area than it does now and was one of the best- known coffeehouses in the city.

One of Al-Fishawi's owners told me, before he died, that he would never forget a certain Ramadan night. On that night, a man known for his great skill in the game known as Al-Qafiyah, or the rhyme, came to the café. He was unsurpassed in this game of wit and verbal fencing. He started exchanging jabs with Mahfouz, and this lasted all night, each man prompting the other with the refrain of ishmena, or "what about that?" This man never showed up at the café again, having been so badly defeated by Mahfouz.

Other famous cafés Mahfouz frequented were Safiya Hilmi at Midan Al-Opera; Casino Qasr Al-Nil; Ahmed Abdallah Café, which he described in the Trilogy; and-in his latter days-Farah Boat.

I asked Mahfouz about his attachment to cafés and whether he wrote some of his works there, as some imagined. He said that he never wrote anything except at his desk at home. But the cafés offered him with the ideas, situations, and characters he needed for his novels. "For me, the cafés were the biggest depository of ideas and characters, and I drew a lot from this depository," he said.

R.I.P.


Prominent Wafdist and valiant anti-Nasserist historian Abdel-Azim Ramadan (1925-2007). Egyptian scholars aren’t what you expect when comparing them to Western standards; their works often heavily interlaced with side-battles; and the citations there are present, but used differently than the rules followed by the latter disciplines; but what can be said ultimately of Ramadan's work is that he did rely strongly on logic and common sense. His opponents’ only noteworthy response to his scathing arguments was to 'shame him' (ye3ayrouh, an expression in the Arabic language) with a story that in his youth he once worked as a 3agaalati (a bicycle repairman). To this he would jokingly respond to these critics—usually men of an alleged socialist twist who themselves spent many years rotting away in Nasser’s prisons (don’t ask!)—that the bicycle repairman as a profession and bread maker of a struggling student is something he takes pride in and considers very honourable. The ironies of life can be so funny sometimes. I still don’t know whether or not he was joking in his talk of being a 3agalaati, but if he did repair bicycles then all the more power to him:-)