Adonis Diaries

Archive for September 24th, 2008

 “What are the rights of the beast of burden; like a donkey?” (Written in November 13, 2004)

Article #4: Human Factors in Engineering

People used to own donkeys for special works and they still do in many places.

Donkeys are relatively cheap, if you can find them:  They are quite obedient and resilient.

Donkeys can endure hardships if you provide food and minimal care.

Low level employees, such as in data input jobs, are far less loved and appreciated than the former hot blooded mammals.

They helplessly endure repetitive musculo-skeletal pains; many of the clerks do proudly claim these pains as a badge of honor.

They are remunerated cheaper than donkeys because all that their job entails is to just sit and do monotonous work.

They suffer all the sedentary diseases: neck, head, shoulders, and back pains.

They suffer irremediable hands, fingers and wrists handicaps for the rest of their wretched lives.

Graphic designers are certainly a tad better: They are paid slightly better; not for their artistic imagination, but, may be, because they can also use a few more computer application programs.

Historically, the design of the characters on the first typewriters was meant to slow down typing:

Fast typing used to jam the arms of the mechanical typewriters.

A large order by a big company at the time hampered any redesign of the characters for the newer technological advances in the manufacture of typewriters.

Still, secretaries had to awkwardly learn typing fast to meet production and greed.

The benefits of redesigning the shapes and forms of computer keyboards, which could temporarily alleviate the many cumulative musculo-skeletal disorders from harsh continuous and daily typing, did not reach the common typists and data entry clerks.

These low level employees were not worth any investment in upgraded keyboards.

Higher level employees, who barely use computers for any productive task, were honored with the latest gizmos.

In fact, I believe that even the best ergonomically designed keyboards cannot solve these disorders:

Heavy computer users, for 8 hours daily, are still performing repetitive movements, sitting still, eyes riveted to a display.

They are still asked to perform maximally, under the watchful and tireless computer supervisor:

An efficient program embedded in the computer itself; a program that collects data and analyzes performances of the donkey clerk.

Employees should not demand any redesign of the characters on keyboards.

Any faster typing design will be at their detriment and they will pay the price bitterly.

Their task will come to higher risks to their health and safety with no increase in wages.

They should know that faster standards will then be required of them;

Instead of 60 words per minutes, Mr. Greed might ask of them to be able to type 300 wpm.

It is not enough to improve technology; we need to restrain its consequences.

Bless the French Rabelais who said: “Science without conscience is the ruin of the soul”.

Do We All Agree on the Meaning of Freedom, Self Determination and Independence? (Dec. 7, 2004)

Note:  This article was written a year before the Syrian troops withdrew from Lebanon.

In this section, I will approach succinctly the ever lasting sticky points in politics that divide our society. But first, we need to accept the two fundamental facts: 

It would be beneficial to our state of affairs that our glorified and bombastic rhetoric be founded on a mature humility that we are a tiny country, with a tiny army, a tiny economy and burdened with an astronomical debt.

It would  improve immeasurably our political and social programs, with their accompanying timetables, to recognize that first, we are an underdeveloped country; second, that we are surrounded by neighboring countries which are underdeveloped politically, socially and economically, and third,  that we are basically unappreciated or being weighted lightly in the balances of the world powers. 

The political divides could be resolved as follow:

Every citizen should acknowledge that the army and the government of Lebanon should extend their reach and presence over all of Lebanon, including the South region bordering Israel. The political discourse should be restricted on why and why not the political climate and the timing is or is not favorable to the deployment of the army and the institutions of the government in the south.

Every citizen should acknowledge that the Palestinian camps in Lebanon have to be disarmed like all other areas in Lebanon. The discourse should be on both the proper timing and international political climate that are favorable to executing the disarmament. Personally, I prefer that the Palestinian youth be allowed to serve as recruits in our armed forces and be given the rights and opportunities available to the Lebanese citizens. 

Every citizen should acknowledge that all Lebanese militias have to be disarmed, including Hezbollah. The discourse should be directed on both the timing and regional political climate for doing so as a legitimate resistance movement to the frequent Israeli encroachments in Lebanon.   This issue is intrinsically connected to the green light given from the Syrian’s government. 

Every citizen should acknowledge that the Syrian armed forces and Syrian intelligence personnel should leave Lebanon completely, irrevocably, and irreversibly. The political discourse should concentrate on both the proper timing and international political climate for their withdrawals.  Joint regiments, of both Syrian and Lebanese armed forces, in strategic areas should not be discarded as viable alternatives to securing a long-term agreement and fostering durable good wills.

I am leaning to the opinion that the UN resolution 1559 was terribly wrong in its timing. It is sending the message that the close ties between the Lebanese and Syrian governments are a hindrance to the projects of the USA and France in the Middle East region.

As long as no serious enforcement activities are applied, and as long as the peace process in the Near East is on track, I view this resolution as a good incentive for both governments in Lebanon and Syria to discuss seriously the items of the resolution and reach satisfactory timetables for abiding by all the terms of the resolution.

Every citizen should acknowledge that the strength of Lebanon, its stability and peace are imminently linked to the strength and stability of Syria. No Lebanese foreign policies should be attempted that might directly hurt or weaken the economic stability of Syria or ruin its long term growth and vitality. Syria and Lebanon should have agreements of most favored nations in all aspects of social and economic transactions that complement one another commerce and facilitate travel and trade like one market of more than 20 million persons in order to establish viable and self sufficient agricultural, industrial and communication infrastructures.

Our political programs should concentrate in the investment on the people (education, human rights, free speech, preventive medical services and wider opportunities for choices) and preserving the environment for our future generation.

In summary, the independence, freedom and self determination of Lebanon, as an integral entity in all its territory, should not be questioned. The political discourse should emphasize on both the proper timing of the decisions and the appropriate political constraints for achieving total autonomy.

After the retreat of the Syrian Troops from Lebanon, what then? What Social and Political System?  What Electoral System? (Dec. 5, 2004)

Note:  This article was written a year before the Syrian troops withdrew from Lebanon as the international squeeze on mandated Syria was on to vacate Lebanon.  The dialogue on “what Lebanon we want for after the Syrian withdrawal” is still not serious and very superficial.

There are nowadays heated discussions about the parliamentary laws for the coming election in April and the heavy interference of the Syrian intelligence services in our internal affairs. The coalitions of pro and con the current political orientations of the government in Lebanon have missed their targets. Their political programs are non existent. Their political discourses are plagued by coded insinuations of pure sectarianism and a coward evasion to face the requisites of the future.  The society has made a full circle to where it was before the civil war.

The only differences are that: 1) the Moslem bourgeoisies (Sunni and Shiaa) have captured a sizeable share of the economy compared to the overwhelming monopoly of the Christian, especially the Maronite, bourgeoisie and 2) the polarization of the citizens into sectarian enclaves is almost complete throughout the land.

How the retreat of the Syrian forces from Lebanon would change this stagnant social fabric if we are still apprehensive of asking the right questions? What forces would replace the Syrian forces to ensure law and order if there are no communication among the political parties? How the Lebanese citizens could ever fall again into the trap that foreign powers could guaranty a long lasting stable political system that satisfies the interest of all the citizens?  We all know that the Lebanese Army (soldiers and officers) is old and still is no match to the entrenched militias who have been governing ever since the Taef agreement.

If Lebanon is to experience a profound and lasting rebirth, drastic political reforms have to be discussed at all levels in the society. These reforms should attack the fundamentals of a civilized society, mainly a new Constitution and the clipping of the sectarian powers that is insidious in every phase of the citizen life and status. What I propose is an alternative that would make digging of trenches a worthwhile endeavor if no rational responses are offered for a compromise.

I will develop two facets of Lebanon in the future: First, the fundamental internal changes needed in the Constitution and second, the four political problems that are dividing the Lebanese society:  Mainly the presence of the governments with all its institutions in the South, the disarming of the Palestinian camps, the dismantling of all the armed militias, including Hezbollah and obviously, the withdrawal of the Syrian troops and its intelligence services. The Constitutional acts to be discussed are as follow:

Half the parliament members should be represented by the female sex in accordance with the spirit of a true democratic representation.

The rationales: Women are more than half the population and their intrinsic problems are more intimately understood by them as well as their solutions. They will be the guarantee that their rights are fully considered, applied and secured.

2)   Election laws should be revisited.

Every one who voted twice in any general election, municipality or parliament, and who can read and write in the Arabic language should be eligible to be a candidate. No fees should be attached to the application for candidature in order for the election to be for the people and by the people.

The minimum age for voting should be 18 so that new spirits and demands become major factors in political programs.

3)   Part of the parliament members should be elected on the basis of individual departments that would guarantee the fair representation of all religious sects.

The rationales: Electoral districts should include between 15,000 and 25,000 voters and a male and a woman deputy elected. This system might prevent unknown candidates to win by taking advantage of the notoriety of the other candidates on the list. Also, this system will insure the representation of all sects implicitly and save the Constitution to be discredited by explicitly requiring that Christians and Moslems be equally represented.

Part of the parliament members should be elected on political party lines and syndicated affiliations and on the proportional basis.

The rationales: The political life in Lebanon is almost non existent because the political parties have been weakened and sidelined after the civil war. There is a strong link between the immigration of the youth and the political void that excludes them from expressing their dreams and their needs of varied opportunities.

I suggest that the election law allows voters to select two political parties so that part of the members should represent the political parties that come second in the ballot boxes. The second choices should be among parties that are non sectarian historically or have proven to include other religious affiliations in their membership.

The rationales: The non sectarian political parties should also be included in the first choice list of parties.  The second choice is important so that sectarian parties would embark on programs that would promote them to be acceptable by many more than one sect.

Every one of the 17 or so religious sects should be represented by one member in the parliament.

The rationales: It is becoming urgent that responsible and legitimate discussions on religious differences be aired to the public and how these different values might be affecting the interests of all citizens..

Decentralization and autonomy of the districts in the administration and financial spending on projects and programs so that competition heighten performance and efficiency.

The rationales: Many ministries have to be eliminated and decentralized so that communities start enjoying the benefits of the concept of subsidiaries. Ministries like Education, Youth, Sport and Health should be dismantled and regrouped for the administration of the districts (Mouhafazats) and a post of a general counsel, for each one of these ministries, attached to the Prime Minister, has to be created in order to coordinate and harmonize among the administrations of the districts. The districts have to keep three quarter of the tax revenue without the need to be redistributed by the Ministry of Finance at later date. I suggest that Lebanon should be divided into only three districts having a continuous link from the sea to the Bekaa Valley.

Beirut should NOT have a special status since all the central administrations are located in the Capital and would enjoy the expenditures of the central government anyway.

Competition for performance and attraction of investments would drive these districts into steady growth in all fields. The Mouhafazat should enjoy their seaports, local airports and equal number of citizens and land size. The local airports should service the internal requirements, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, and Cyprus.

Election of the administrative bodies of the Mouhafazat should take place with the elections of municipalities. The Northern and Southern regions should retain three quarter of the tax revenue for four years, the middle region two third and Beirut a third. These proportions should be revisited on the fourth year to establish an equitable balance. As working examples, the North region might include the departments or (Cadaa) of Jbeil in the south all the way to the northern borders of Lebanon and the Bekaa and Hermil to the East; the South region might include the departments of Shuf in the north all the way to the southern borders of Lebanon and the Hasbaya and Rashaya in the East. The Middle region might include the departments of Kesrwan in the north, Aley in the South and Zahle in the East.

Civil marriage should be the law of the land.  Providing options outside the civil law is tantamount of increasing the power of the religious sects by their effective means of rendering the law virtually weak and inexistent

All marital rights and responsibilities, like heritage, divorce, adoptions and so forth should be governed by civil laws.

The rationales: It is about time that sectarian powers to our every day life are reduced to their bare minimum and allowing the citizens to mingle, communicate freely and do commerce freely among them.

The President of the Republic should be elected by the people for 4 years with the option of being reelected for another single term.

The rationales: It is of paramount importance to curb this vicious cycle of making a mockery of the Constitution every six years in order to prolong the term of the President. A four years term with option for another full term would give strong incentives for the President to perform in order to be reelected for a second term. Personally, I would encourage the citizens to desist in reelecting a President for a second term.

Ambassadors Extraordinary should be appointed in Beirut and Damascus.

General Commissioners for the inter commerce and common policies should be attached to the Prime Ministers in Beirut and Damascus.

Note: The role of opposition and allied political parties to the government have been reversed shortly after this article.

Big Rodents Leading the Assault for Mother Freedom (March 1, 2005)

In the last two weeks, since the assassination of former Lebanon Prime Minister Rafic Hariri on February 14, a milestone achievement was won in Lebanon.

Every night, thousands were converging to Downtown Beirut to mourn at the tomb of Prime Minister Hariri in the Place of Martyrs.  Every Monday, thousands were gathering there to demonstrate and protest.  The Lebanese people want to know who assassinated Hariri, nine of his bodyguards and counselors, ten bystanders and about a hundred civilian injured in a road blast.

The people want effective, impartial and speedy investigation in the matter.  The political leaders of the opposition refuse to do political business as usual until the perpetrators are divulged.  The people refuse to do business or are forced to shut down their stores. In fact, Lebanon is becoming a poor country and much so lately and no refreshing indications are pointing to any economical recovery. The people are duplicating the Ukrainian example by constant presence and persistent political pressures.

This Monday, February 30th, the students from various universities slept overnight in Downtown Beirut in order to circumvent the order of the Minister of the Interior, Suleiman Frangieh, to ban any demonstrations and gathering the next morning. By day break, they peacefully forced the lines of the Army units barring entrances to Beirut and flocked by the thousands to encircle the Chamber of Deputies.  The Chamber was summoned to ask the Cabinet one question: “Who assassinated Hariri?”

After the interrogation in the Chamber of Deputies, the current Prime Minister, Omar Karame, was to submit to a vote of confidence. The main slogan was: “We want our freedom, self determination and independence from the Syrian tutelage”.  A few of the corollary slogans were: “Syrian troops out of Lebanon”, “Syrian intelligence services out of Lebanon”, “Down with the Lebanese heads of intelligence services and all security agencies”, “The resignation of the shadow government” and “Bachar Assad is nominee” which means that the Syrian President should be next to go.  The only flag raised was the Lebanese flag which helped mollify the orders of the Lebanese army and internal security units to disperse demonstrators and provided a common denominator to all political factions.

The morning session of the House of Representatives saw many deputies taking full advantage of this climate of freedom and popular support.  They delivered speeches that crossed all the red lines in political discourse, euphemisms in coded words and taboos statements since 1991.  They were about to divulge details about the perfidies, machinations, threats and mafia dealings among the Syrian and Lebanese biggest rodents of the public funds.  The evening session climaxed by the resignation speech of the prime minister along with his whole Cabinet members.  It was rumored that he was the last one among the powerful ministers to be conveyed the order for the resignation of the government.

The main question now is: “What next?” The opposition is demanding a neutral government to prepare a free election for the House of Representative in mid April. Who ever heard of any neutral government?  How any neutral government can function if indeed the real and de facto government is in the hands of the security and intelligence forces?  The only option for the opposition forces in order to secure its credibility is the pressuring of the President of the Republic, General Emile Lahoud, to step down.

It is clear to all Lebanese that the security and stability of Lebanon is based on a free, democratic and stable Syria.  Until that development happens, Lebanon is in for a dangerous and very uncertain phase in its political life regardless of the vocal supports from the United States, France, the United Nations, Egypt or even Saudi Arabia.

This is a very exiting moment that we are experiencing but the nagging question remains: Lebanon was suffering many infamies and the same humiliations for many years under the same and current deputies, political leaders and ministers who are now in the opposition but used to be part and parcel of the same régime for many years before they were removed from the current government. In fact, our House of Representatives itself, elected by the Lebanese, was indeed assassinated several times in grotesque circumstances. Under the two Hariri governments which included many of the current opposition leaders several human rights laws were enacted and rescinded the next day by the same deputies by orders from Syria. For example, the procedures for legally arresting citizens are a case in point.  Not only freedom was banished but self determination was blatantly and ignominiously trampled without major protests.

Isn’t a tangible act for freedom more important than a general notion of freedom?

Isn’t a heroic stand for self determination of the highest power in the land more important than a general concept of self determination? Since when did political leaders attempt to rationally explain complicated matters to their supporters in order to show their strengths? All they had to do was to galvanize their supporters under the banners of freedom, self determination and independence from Syria in order to gather as many demonstrators as today.

So, what gives that the same leaders are so much more conscious about freedom and self determination after the assassination of a former prime minister? In fact, several months earlier, a failed attempt at the life of an opposition deputy was perpetrated; His body guard died and the deputy was in serious health conditions. Why no major demonstrations for investigating the attempted assassination were called for and political pressures not activated?

It seems that a dozen of big rodents who were devouring large holes in the cheese of our public funds and who were left out in the cold were relying on Hariri’s funding of the opposition to refill the shortages in their resources. Now that the alternative funding was assassinated the options were limited and drastic. If a political leader (zaim) is faced with the two alternatives of choosing between physical threats on his life or the cutting of funding, I have no doubts that the latter option is by far the less dangerous and less damaging to his life.

I agree with Deputy Walid Jumblatt, a leader of the minority Druze sect and speaking for the opposition, that the new generation of Lebanese youth who did not experience the long and protracted civil war has dreams that do not match the views of the traditional political parties and their leaders. The new generation does not want to be associated with the infamies and atrocities committed by their predecessors.  They care less for the sectarian rationales and little minded behaviors that drove their predecessors to eliminate one another and crawl safely into their own stuffy and narrow cantons.

The social and political climates are different and the instinct of survival of the new generation is forcing issues that the traditional local and regional powers prefer to be dormant as long as possible. The new generation is ready to accept any foreign support and aid in order to bypass this stagnant environment that is killing any opportunities for progress and self development.  The perception of the new generation is that if the old guards of Lebanon political system, including the opposition, are left to decide for its status then priorities will not change that much.  For now, freedom, self determination and independence, why not?  Next, what are the dreams and objectives of the new generation?  Would they like to have civil marriage enacted as the law of the land?  Would they like to have greater job openings and affordable lodging in order to gain the first step toward independence? Are they claiming decentralization of the administration?  Are they seeking to abolish all kinds of discrimination on the basis of origins, sects, sex, race and physical handicaps in jobs, education, and government functions?

The old guard would like to have quickly an inefficient neutral government to perpetrate the status quo.  They would like to have, pronto, a huge piece of the pie now and fast.  They are used to always have a piece of the pie regardless of the shape, form and content of the government.  Would the new generation fall in the trap again, like the previous generations, for quick relief in the political system with no pain and hard sacrifices or a new spirit is born that is not ready to take dictates from the conventional political leaders? The new generation has to organize itself and decide for themselves what they want and what should be the next steps from this critical impasse that can decide the future of Lebanon in the coming two decades.

 

No More Me (2000)

 

Show me instant replays

Of my postures, my movements ,and my faces.

Rewind for me the recordings

Of my speeches, small talks, and arguments.

I don’t like what I see and what I hear.

I cannot change much of body and behaviors.

Don’t help me see myself and hear myself.

If I befriend me, I am no more me.

The Book (1999)

 

1.   Friend, I don’t resent that you found the Truth,

            The whole truth, in a book, The Book, or a few books.

I don’t mind that your book is 

            About faith, sciences, or philosophy.

2.   I want you to know that 

            I do enjoy total Certainty,

Certainly not for a lifetime.

            I do enjoy complete comfort in the mind,

One night at a time.

            I cherish reading a different book a day,

To disturb my soul a bit longer;

            To sharpen my suspicion,

In your stand, a tad deeper.

3.   I hear that you don’t mean

            To abridge my liberty for seeking knowledge,

              To impinge on my freedom of opinion,

                To impress your truths on me,

                 To burn down my libraries,

                   To limit my range of personalities.

I like to believe that you don’t mean it;

           But if you don’t, what do you really mean?

 

Birthday (Written in 1999) 

1.   Why did you come, dear Birthday?

I am no longer sixteen and do have my driving license;

No longer eighteen to run away from home,

I am way passed my twenty-first,

To mind ordering a drink if I cared.

2.   I don’t need you anymore:  you are a liability,

A debilitating memory, a shame to the living youth.

They still show re-runs of your comings on the screen:

People hiding in the dark, waiting to catch a stunned face;

Sneaking through the door;

Surprise!

It is not funny for me:  no one ever surprised me.

3.   Each year you tap on my door.

The month of May trails fragrance, pageantry, and life.

Why May parade is cut short?

Why May never ends in pomp?

I don’t remember any of my birthdays before twelve.

I was in a Christian private boarding school,

A remnant of the discarded

Of parents visiting summer time, once every two years.

On birthdays parties in my honor, it never felt mine,

But you made sure my friend, to remind me of my loneliness.

Friend, you’ve been consistent through the years,

The best and the worst of years.

Sure, you are welcomed

Every year, any year, my friend.

I Say (Written in 1999)

I say, every one must have his identity:

Death has forced on us the I.

I say, what exists must be discovered:

Death impressed on us to know.

I say, every feeling must be experienced:

Death created stages for us to grow.

I say, there must be a meaning to life:

Death did not leave us a choice in that.

Don’t Mind Living (1999)

I experienced comfort, family or some;

         I’ve been homeless too long.

I experienced a glimpse of exhilarating love;

         I wallow in my swamp of hate.

I experienced a flitting unsurpassed confidence;

         I wizened up in lack of faith.

I experienced moments of immortality;

         I breathe the fear of death.

I experienced the joy of the fight;

         But, I don’t mind living, and living long.

Songs on freedom and liberty

1.   Numb at the magnitude of the unknown

2.   Liberty! Where are you?

3.   Going hunting

4.   Easy going, part one 1

5.   Easy going, part two 2

6.   Easy going, part 3

7.   Give me one freedom no sauce

8.   Have no qualms

9.   World, make room

10.  A phantom cover-up

11.  Confederation of the World

12.  Why am I, how I am?

Short poems

1.   Puppy dog Luck

2.   I liked nous

3.   A dream about cultural differences

4.   Lucubration

5.   On one universe and one God

6.   Keeps me sane

7.   The Book

8.   Proofs of love

9.   I say 1

10.  A gentle touch

11.  I learned from life

12.  Better late than never

13.  Havin’ a ball

14. Don’t mind living

15. My warpy world

16. The loser

17. Fooled myself

18. Camping high

19. A grain of hope

20. Got no choice

21. Birthday

22. Man-go

23. You have a choice

24. A steady dream

25. Feasting on gore

26. No more me

27. Mindlessly a genius

28. My neighbors

29. Time

30. Vertical streets

31. Nutty monkey business

32. I love you

33. Toxic instinct

34. Grab the moment

35. Cruel romance

36. Exclusive rights

37. Becky-Sue

38. She says, he says

39. Eternal spirit

40. Undertone of joy and fear

41. Good people, bad people

42. Dust and water

43. Who am I?

44. Funny bliss

45. Reinventing the wheel

46. One step ahead

47. Great teachers

48. A dream real

49. Plain talk

50. Passing the baton

51. I do stuff

52. It is a fact

53. Two nights out in a row


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

September 2008
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