Adonis Diaries

Archive for September 27th, 2008

Season of Migration to the North, by Tayeb Saleh (August 10, 2006)

Tayyeb Salih is a Sudanese writer and his book was translated into English by Denys Johnson-Davis.

It is a small novel but powerful, intense, and gripping.  The narrator is a fresh graduate from Britain, earned a PhD in English literature, and returned home after 7 years of absence.  I shall refer to him as the educated man.

The author meets the hero of this story Mustafa Said who has settled his village during his leave.  Mustafa is a Sudanese genius whose brain is like a knife for assimilating all kind of topics and sciences, whose memory is like a sponge in retaining whatever he read, but whose emotions and feelings are as cold as ice.  He grew up to be a robust and very handsome man, his face had Arabic features but his hair was African.

Mustafa lost his father, a rich camel merchant, when a toddler and his stern-faced mother left him to live an independent life, barely emotionally caring for him.  When Mustafa left his mother in order to join an English Middle School in Cairo on a grant she did not raise any fuss and simply told him: “Had your father lived he would have liked your decision. This is your life and you are free to do with it as you wish”.

No tears and no kisses accompanied the farewell.  When Mustafa landed in Cairo, he was taken over by the English Robinsons who were childless.  Mrs. Robinson used to tell him: “Mr. Saeed, you’re a person devoid of a sense of fun. Can’t you forget your intellect?

Mustafa’s mother seemed to have on her face like a thick mask, as though her face was the surface of the sea in order to hide her emotions.  Although the novel never mentioned how Mustafa’s father died, I am under the impression from Mustafa’s sexual drives and cold feelings that his mother, a slave by origin, might have killed his father out of jealousy in a neat fashion that removed any suspicions, and then wrapped herself up within a cocoon of cold sensitivities and distanced herself from any social life.

It might be conjectured that she eliminated him because he and his tribe helped free the English Governor Slatin Pasha escape when he was the prisoner of the Khalifa El-Taaishi.

Mustafa left to London around 1910 and turned to be the jock of all trades in accumulating knowledge from economics, to poetry, to engineering, to drawing, and anything that he set his mind into.

He spent his life in London teaching at universities and wooing the English young girls and married women, pursuing them and offering them expensive gifts until they were reduced to slaves, completely in love with his beautiful dark complexion and mesmerized by his innumerable lies about the life in Sudan, Africa and the desert.

Jean Morris set her eyes on him and drove him mad with love and hatred for three years before she asked him to marry her.  When he pursued her she would avoid him and when Mustafa avoided her she would track him down and rekindle his desires.  Jean managed to drive Mustafa’s girlfriends to commit suicide because they believed that they could not compete with Jean for Mustafa’s strong emotions toward her.

One night, during the period when Mustafa avoided her for two weeks, Jean barged into his apartment, heaped filthy curses upon Anna, Mustafa’s girl friend, and drove her out crying.  Jean took off all her clothes and stood naked by the door.  Mustafa approached her and she commanded him saying: “Give me this expensive Wedgwood vase and you can have me“.  She took the priceless vase and smashed it on the ground.  Then, she asked for his rare Arab manuscript and shredded it to pieces.

Jean pointed to his silken Isphahan prayer-rug.  The rug was a gift from his adoptive mother Mrs. Robinson when he was in Cairo and it was the most valuable thing he owned.  And Jean proceeded to throw the rug in the fire-place.  As Mustafa wrapped his arms around her waist Jean jabbed him between his thighs by her knees and left.

After 3 years of chasing each other Jean told him: “I am tired of your pursuing me and of my running before you. Marry me.”  The got married and she would not let him approach her in bed.  She tried hard to raise his suspicions about her extra marital affairs and flirt shamelessly with every Tom in town but I believe that she didn’t care much about sex, at least not with men.  They went through periods of murderous emotional wars for every time he would hit her she would respond by slapping him back and digging her nails into his face.

On a February dark evening, the temperature 10 degrees below zero, when pipes were frozen and the whole city was a field of ice, Mustafa walked from the station to his house carrying his overcoat over his arm, his blood boiling and transpiring profusely.  He found Jean stark naked on the bed, her thighs wide ajar, waiting for him.

His glances over each part of her body overwhelmed her.  Mustafa raised his dagger and she kissed the blade.  He put the blade-edge between her breast and she twined her legs round his back.  He slowly pressed the dagger deeper and deeper in her flesh while she was saying: “Darling, I thought you would never do this.  I almost gave up hope of you.  Come with me. Don’t let me go alone. I love you, my darling.”  He believed her while she was dying.

Mustafa was sentenced to 7 years prison term.  When he was released before the breaking of the Second World War, he wandered about all Europe before returning to Sudan and settling down in remote village by the Nile.  He married Hosna, a local girl, bigot two sons, farmed his land, raised cattle, and shared responsibilities in the communal projects and committees.

One year, the Nile had a strong flood, the like of it happens once every 20 years, and many in the village died.  Mustafa was considered dead too because his body was not found.  Mustafa is a fine swimmer and I believe that the call of the season of migration to the European north was more powerful than settling down.

A couple of weeks before the flood, he left a sealed envelop to his wife to be delivered to an acquaintance of his in the village, a young PhD graduate in English literature from London.  The letter asked the educated man to be the guardian of his family and to care for it.  A rich old man from the village of seventy who was madly in love with her and who was much married and much divorced asked the narrator to convince Hosna to marry him.

Hosna refused to remarry and told the educated man, who was married and from a tribe that don’t take more than one wife, that she would kill her husband and then kill herself if one is forced upon her.

While the educated man was back in Khartoum, as a civil servant in the education ministry, Hosna was forced by her father to marry the old man.  Hosna had asked the father of the educated man to ask his son to marry her, just because she wanted to live as an independent woman and would not be of any trouble as his second wife.

The father of the narrator resented that woman who took the liberty to taking her affairs in her own hands and denied her request.  The educated man received an urgent cable.  When he arrived Hosna had killed her husband and then killed herself after the old man tried to rape her and had bitten off one of her nipples.

Many of Mustafa’s classmates and the younger generation who lived in Britain recollected that he was an outstanding person, who was the first Sudanese to marry an English woman, to get the British citizenship, to teach at English universities and be given the nickname of “The black English”.

A few of them went as far as affirming that he was an English secret agent, the darling of the English left movement during the pre-war period, and that he belonged to the Fabian school of economics which did not rely on statistics and facts but on general principles of justice, equality, and socialism.

The narrator used the key given to him by Mustafa to open the iron door of the special room of Mustafa that nobody entered or could enter.  It was a modern spacious room with a queen size bed, an up-to-date bathroom, paintings and large mirrors over the walls; just a carbon copy of the design of Mustafa’s apartment in London.  Shelves of thousands of English books from all kind of literature and science were filling the room from floor to ceiling.  Mustafa was in the process of writing several books and did draw the figures of many of the village people.

The novel broached on the effects of colonialism on the Sudan. The British opened roads and rivers to ship armies and weapons first, then they enticed some young Sudanese children to learn the English language, basic reading and writing skills and arithmetic in order to fill minor clerical posts in the government.

They in fact showed favor to nonentities to occupy the highest positions in the colonial period.  When Mahmoud Wad Ahmed, a Sudanese patriotic leader was defeated and brought in shackles to the British High Governor of colonial Sudan, the British General Kitchener said to Muhammad: “Why have you come to my country to lay waste and plunder?”

A dialogue between the educated Sudanese Mansour and Richard the English teacher might be a typical example that is related to the colonial effects on the developing countries:

Mansour: “You transmitted to us the disease of your capitalist economy.  What did you give us in exchange but a handful of capitalist companies that drew our blood and still do?

Richard: “All this is to show that you cannot manage to live without us.  You used to complain about colonialism and when we left, you then create the legend of neo-colonialism. It seems that our presence, in an open or undercover form, is as indispensable to you as air and water.

What’s that Greater Middle East Strategy of the United States? (Dec. 29, 2005)

The success of the Khomeini revolution in Iran precipitated the direct military intervention of the USA in the Middle East. Since the end of WWII, the US enjoyed military supremacy in all the seas and oceans of the five Continents.  With the firm implantation of Israel, all that the US governments cared about the regimes in the Middle East was the maintenance of the flow of cheap oil to its market and securing open market for its exports. The US created and sustained the Iraqi-Iranian war until both parties were literally exhausted, heavily indebted, and completely depleted of any internal energy.  Then the US encouraged Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait, intervened militarily, installed its military bases in the Arabian Gulf and mandated Syria in Lebanon to put an end to this virulent corner.

China was the catalyst for an even direct military hegemony of the US in the Middle East; the plans of the US in the Near East were already drawn for capturing Iraq, the biggest oil reserve in the world, and the attack on the Twin Towers in New York delayed that invasion in order to satisfy the internal prerequisites of dealing with the Qaeda in Afghanistan. The fall of Afghanistan forced the plan to be revisited and given a more accurate geopolitical name of the Greater Middle East. 

Before the first war on Iraq in 1991, China was already viewed as the next great threat to the US in Asia; China was growing economically at a pace never experienced in the modern world as the most populous nation; this rate of increase was bewildering in its steadiness and it proved to advance unabated since then.

The US realized that this game of trade embargo on Iraq with the gimmick of oil for food deal through the UN has done its job and reduced Iraq to a skeletal, economically and militarily, and that Iraq was ready to be easily invaded.   This invasion was intended to directly secure US strategic reserve in oil when the Twin Tower tragedy struck with different political consequences in the Moslem and Arabic World. 

China was now the fasted growing economy; its demands for oil and wheat were outpacing production and thus, raising oil prices to levels that the US feared for long time.  The quagmire of the US military intervention in Iraq has so far proven to be more expensive than simply paying the increase in oil prices in the world market as dictated by the free trade agreements; this situation is aggravated by the failure to increasing Iraq’s oil production and the emergence of nearby India as another oil and gas huge consumer. 

Economically, the invasion of Iraq is a total loss for the US and the alternative is to put the squeeze on China through holding up the Iraqi’s oil reserves as bargaining chips to keep the flow of China investment in the USA and buying its bonds for much needed liquidity.  Strategically, the US is in an even bigger trouble among the population in the Middle East who regard it as the Evil Empire and the source of all terrorist activities. Iran is stable and has increased its influence among the Moslem Shiaa in Iraq and Lebanon and the Al Qaeda of Sunny salafists is spreading and becoming more virulent thanks to the negative perception of the Islamists toward the USA.

The high odds of the failure of the US economic viability in Iraq and the follow up unavoidable failure to control the flow of oil to China have the direct consequences in setting the ground of the inevitability of another World War to be fought in the Middle East and the destruction of the hated Islamic populations by both protagonists.

After the fall of Iraq by the military coalition of the United States, without the official stamp of approval of the United Nations, there has been media coverage of an ambiguous Greater Middle East (GME) policy to restoring democracy in that large undefined region.  I have a feeling that after the September 11, 2000 blowing of the Twin World Trading Towers in New York the conservative government in the USA had envisioned a grand plan to isolate the Arabic and Persian’s influenced Moslem countries through an undeclared worldwide war of attrition. 

Both the labor British and the conservative Australian governments are the cornerstone to the success of this strategy; and initially it seems that France, Germany and Russia were not merely against the invasion of Iraq but of the GME war plan of the Anglo-Saxon coalition.  At this junction, World politics exhibit a rallying of France and Germany to that plan with the exception of Russia assuming that China is not going to take side right now until its economic and military dominion in the Far East is well established by capitalizing on all the advantages that a long and protracted negotiation with the USA might generate. 

Under the threatening banner of fighting terrorism in the GME region and installing democracy and freedom of speech instead of extremist Islamic salafist religious’ dogmas the USA and its allies are encouraging civil wars among the people and splintering the region into smaller and smaller self governing nations. Every civilian killing attempts every where in the World are labeled a terrorist act and the perpetrators heaped on the Al Qaeda group which was supposed to have been wiped out in Afghanistan or in most instances blamed on other Islamic extremist offshoots.

Meanwhile, the Western Nations are enacting laws restricting freedom of speech in Media and publications, extracting war executive orders to detaining of suspects without due legal recourse, spying on their own citizens and listening on communication calls against the rules of law in the name of fighting terrorists’ plans and their organizational and financial resources and capabilities.  The political atmosphere in the USA and many European countries is heading toward applying Martial Laws and these restrictive and restraining climates against Liberty and Freedom could be viewed as training sessions for the coming open war.

What is this GME policy?  The USA was feeling comfortable after the Second World War as to its global strategic military superiority and its naval and land military bases throughout the five oceans.  The oligarchic and dictatorial regimes in the Arab World were facilitating the USA policy of dominion and Israel was its local heavy stick whenever any regime ventured to resist it by simply recovering lands captured by Israel or to exhibit independent tendencies with the support of the Soviet Union. The advent of Worldwide organized “terrorist attacks” and the inability to contain that movement with classical military interventions, mainly after the failure of the USA to maintain peace and stability in Iraq, led to a smoke screen change in the tactical approach for preserving hegemony in the Arabic Islamic World.

The code name is to divert the attention of the Islamic masses by offering minimal political representations within the oligarchic regimes which might satisfy the disposition of the people to a first step democratic level of governance and more leeway for freedom of speech and publication. It is interesting to study the small changes that the USA means to bring to the region through the electoral systems in Egypt and Saudi Arabia; at this pace these two countries might require a century before any meaningful democracy is established, for starter the female gender has still to be permitted to drive officially in Saudi Arabia.  It is also interesting to hear the howl of despair coming from the US administration every time the extremist Moslem political organizations are about to win any election; for example, Hamas in Palestine is to be forbidden to participate in the Parliamentary election if any election is to take place and the Moslem Brotherhoods in Egypt are detained and fraudulent election admitted as legitimate; the election results in Iraq need more than 3 weeks to be officially declared while the wide sweeping victory of the Islamists in Algeria was militarily canceled and savagely contained a decade ago.

Not that the people in this region care to have Islamic salafist doctrinal political systems installed, but a reaction to the complete failure of the US to regard us but merely modern slaves in an area flush in oil.  For more than 80 years, the people in every Arabic country have been trying to experiment with democratic systems and these attempts have been aborted by the tacit support of the US to monarchic, oligarchic and one party regime.  

The war strategy is not concerned with the governments, already subjugated and controlled for decades, but targeting the Moslem people in Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain and the Arab Emirates.  The Moslem countries not socially or culturally closely related to Arabic or Persian influence or having large Moslem minorities will be drastically contained through strict financial and economic constraints such as Pakistan, India, Indonesia and Malaysia in Asia and Nigeria and the Northern non Arabic African people in Chad, Niger, Mali, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Guinea.  

What is being offered is basically a psychological “feeling good” attitude toward the prospect of fair representation without any substantial variations in the system of governance that suit grandly the interests of the USA imperialists. The policy of the GME striving for mega Media propaganda of “feeling good” attitude of forthwith democratic change is a sick chimerical gamble hoping that the average masses will be tamed into moderation or the regimes would have an opportunity to win a majority that would permit them to repress the extremist elements.

The Arabic people and Moslems in general have digested the smoke screen tactics of the US and Western World and their god fatherly dialogues that make their blood curl and they cannot be fooled for long; in the mean while precious time is burned away mindlessly with no serious alternatives to genuine solutions.

So far, Iran has grasped the extent of that visible danger and has been feverishly acquiring military deterrence power, economic self sufficiency and utilizing the mass Medias to enlightening the Moslem World to the coming calamities.  The Iranian regime is diffusing the message of unity and integrity among the Moslem masses and projecting the image of confident defiance: it is steadfast on its Uranium enrichment program on its proper soil for nuclear deterrence, saving its oil production, negotiating with Russia, China and India for economic cooperation and openly casting Israel as a spearhead colony of the US in the region.  Iran is not about to relinquish its influence in Iraq or in Lebanon through the powerful political party of Hezbollah or in Western Afghanistan where its Foreign minister is currently spending a few days there to keep strong links with its citizens.  Iran is heading to become the catalyst of the next calamity with the tacit economic and military support of China and Russia.

The alternative to prevent this dangerous trend and revert to a rational and peaceful coexistence is a secular, democratic and national Arabic force to take control of its destiny. Unfortunately, what is required is inexistent, not even in its embryo, because of the perennial foolish US policy in this region of squashing the spirit of secular and democratic nationalism for short term benefits. The US cannot win the looming war in the long term in the Greater Middle East, unless the purpose is indeed to set this region ablaze and its populations impotent for centuries to come, because the masses consider the US policies as the master evil in the world in planning and execution.

The reaction of the Moslems, in face of the sustained heavy handed and total disrespect of the US policies to support our claims for human rights and fair representations and abusing the United Nations to squeeze our survival capabilities through economic and financial embargoes, is toward fundamentalism and is typified by the successes of Hamas in Palestine and the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt in the Parliamentary and municipality elections and the strong inroads of the Islamic Jihad political parties in Algeria, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Sudan in the societies’ fabrics. It seems that the Moslems are reverting to staunch dogmatic principles reminiscent of a coming war with the “infidel Crusaders” and with valid rhetorical and logical reasoning.

There are a few baffling signs that this GME policy might not survive or a more viable alternative supercede the current policy of alienating the Arabs and Moslems; for example the pressures on the Bush administration to rescind the restraining laws on private freedom and telephone and internet communication and acknowledging the flimsy basis for conquering Iraq and a popular waves of demonstrations against the all encompassing powers that the administration has snatched from Congress and concentrated in the executive branch under the prerogatives of war on terrorism.  

I am leaning toward the option that by coining the term “terrorists” to connote Islamists and acknowledging that terrorism is stronger and far reaching than contemplated that the momentum for carrying the GME policy is becoming a bipartisan policy throughout the USA and the Western World. The quagmires that the international forces are experiencing in Iraq are driving them out; though it appears a tactical maneuver to regroup and figure out a strategy to crank the vise on the GME people and let them succumb under a wretched life of lack of freedom, democracy and poor economic and social development.  The European Union is about to give up on the application of human rights in the GME and is ready to adopt shortcuts to our difficulties and may temporary let us die slowly and vanish in the night.

Let us not fool ourselves; every time discrimination on the basis of religion or color or gender or nationality or custom is condoned inside or outside the boundaries of a nation, whenever human rights are baffled, people detained on flimsy charges and without due normal legal recourse, prisoners tortured to extract confessions and killed in their detention centers then the spirit of extremism has indeed taken roots and the dictatorship system is deeply entrenched regardless of how developed a nation is or how loud they claim to have democracy and the rule of law and order among its citizens.

If we had to rely solely on the United Nations to temper the drive of the most powerful Nations, nations that have the tendency of bypassing genuine diplomatic procedures into direct military interventions toward the weaker nations, then we should be pessimistic about the coming war.  There are a few realities that might prevent outright declaration of war by the Western World to the Islamic Arabic and Persian World; first, the European Union is a complex assembly of Nations that could not be easily ruled solely by France, Germany and Britain in matters of participating in wars with multiple interactions with other bordering Nations; second, the Latin American countries are leaning toward socialism and are verbally antagonistic to USA imperialism; thirdly, the Far East with a heavy concentration of Moslems is not about to endanger its economic cooperation by internal political struggles that do not enhance their survival as a viable economic and financial block; and fourthly, Russia is too aware of the importance of the stability of its former Islamic Nations bordering Iran, Turkey and Pakistan to gamble on a fruitless policy of discrimination against the Moslem people.

However, if war is declared and any powerful nation sides with the Islamic masses and support it militarily then we might witness the prophetic vision of George Orwell for future social and political organizations based on Communist blueprints as he described in his book entitled “1984”; an era of constant low level wars among three super blocks of nations. One other thing, if another world war is declared against the Moslems our puppet regimes would collapse and, win or lose, Israel will cease to exist before an armistice is reached.

If the attack on the Twin Towers occurred during the invasion of Iraq then the US would have declared war plainly and simply and the Moslem and Arabic people would have not vacillated for so long and remained manipulated, extorted and abused by the reactionary Arabic regimes holding on for dear life.

The Recognition of Israel? Which one? (September 18, 2005)

The venerable Emir of Qatar, who successfully encouraged foreign investments and directed the economy of his emirate toward the new World Trade rules and guidelines, has proclaimed that failing to recognize Israel is not good politics and poor business management. The question has always been: which Israel are we talking about?

As far as we know Israel has refused to have a constitution simply because it did not come to term on its ultimate borders and how to view its Palestinian Arab citizens. If the Emir means recognition of the Biblical Israel the question again remains: which Israel?  If the Emir respects the United Nations resolution he should insist on the application of the resolution of the year1947 which divided Palestine into two States with definite borders.

Any re-negotiations on the borders’ issue should be discussed after the resolution has been formally satisfied; otherwise, if exceptions are admitted then resolution 1559 is up in the air for re-negotiation now that Lebanon has formally regained its independence as a Nation. Articles in the 1559 resolution which concern Lebanon and which were not exposed and discussed under a free and autonomous Lebanon are unfair and utterly unjust.

Resolution 1559 is highly interesting because it forced the political parties in Lebanon to openly discuss nagging problems that they were unwilling to broach. Actually, it was not too early to discuss what Lebanon we want after the Syrian withdrawal. Still, this resolution is unfair and unjust and the UN should recognize its shortcoming for implementation.  The UN needs to recognize that resolution 1559 has to be re-opened for discussion after a new parliamentary election is successfully arranged based on a new electoral system that satisfies the fair representation of the Lebanese population.

The resolution to partition Palestine was also unfair because it was done after the British colonial forces have beaten the Palestinian resistance to pulp while leaving the Zionist military forces unscathed.

It is ludicrous that Egypt and Jordan recognized an Israel solely based on their respective borders and not on a definite State; this is taking pragmatism to an ultimate meaning never contemplated before:  Frankly, this kind of “pragmatism” can be specifically named treason to the other Arabic States under occupation. It is about time we proclaim “Kafa” or enough is enough for these regimes that have been sapping our rights from under our feet in order to reign cozily covered by an imperialist umbrella at the expense of their wretched people.

“Marie”, she said (Written in 2003)

It was a time when I was about seventeen.

By early dawn, I was on the balcony, the first floor of a ten-story building,

Facing Main Street.

By early dawn, I was reading or studying on that balcony,

But my heart was looking out for this young girl soon to show up.

She was olive skinned, large dark-eyed and hair done in two pony tails.

I was waiting for her to step out of her apartment building opposite ours.

She would wait for her school bus with another schoolmate

By early dawn, I was sitting or standing on that balcony,

But my heart leaning down on that school girl about fifteen,

In her school dress, white shirt and blue short skirt.

Her blond and chubby schoolmate waited with her for the school bus.

Within two years, that blonde blue-eyed chubby girl

Metamorphosed into a blonde Nordic beauty, a svelte Prussian tall.

My dark-eyed girl used to lower her head

Then raise her cunning eyes up toward me.

It was a game for her.  I was to her that stupid bookish young male.

In that game, she was the Beauty Queen and she was pleased.

She must have got used to me.  Maybe she started to like me,

Or she appreciated the attention that I generously bestowed upon her.

Her errands increased in the neighborhood so did my heart beats.

For a year, I could never muster enough courage

To step down this one ridiculous floor,

Cross the street and chat with her.

One day she was waiting for a taxi.

I rushed down the stairs and waited by her side for a taxi.

I could not speak, my mind went blank and I barely was breathing.

Taxis made themselves scarce for an eternity.

I clumsily blurted out with a dry, unfamiliar voice:

What’s your name?”  “Marie” she said.

That is how it started.  From then on, “what’s your name” is all the conversation

I could have with a girl I like.

Returning from a long stay overseas,

I was told that the local militia ganged up on her.

They used her as their love slave.  She got married.

It was a time when this womanhood was blossoming in roses and rainbow colors,

Fluttering in front of that manhood, shy and dazed with pallor.

It was a time when this womanhood was leaping in bounds, raw,

Looking at that degenerative manhood, crawling and craning his neck in awe.

I dream of publishing excerpts of both the New Testament and the Coran that express the gist of clemency and forgiveness in these Holy Books.  The objective would be to drop all the fictions about how God created the world and man, myths on how the prophets were born and lived, all the stories and sayings that include curses, hate sentences, killing innuendoes, the various kinds of punishments in the after life, and which take positions against enemies and how to deal with the unbelievers.

The book would certainly vastly shrink but at least humanity would read and learn behaviors that might save the world from fictitious animosities and intice humankind to ponder in peace of mind how to change his own self and direct his soul to values that are everlasting.

I am wondering.  What if we had no eyes? Mariages would last much longer.  What if women were created bold?Engagements would be extended indefinitely. What if we had no mouth and lips? Couples would live happily ever after.

How marriage was invented?  It was not a rural custom.  I guess urban development created most of the troubles that mankind has to deal with; problems that were exported to the rural world by force and pressure.

The Lebanese Parliament failed the citizens. The sectarian leaders won this round again for the last 60 years and we are back to the voting law of 1960.  The Parliament failed the resolution to allowing citizens over 18 to vote; the partial quota for women; the military to vote and more importantly to discuss other options that do not involve majority win in the sectarian districts for example, percentages or “nisbiyeh”.  The secular movement was denied its right to cordon off the Parliament while in session.

July 23, 2006

Victor heard on the news last night that the retired military officers who have professions in engineering or medicines to join the army. The news also asked the retired military who were drivers or technicians to sign in.  His wife Raymonde told him that these requirements do not apply to him, so he better forget it.  At lunch, my semi drunk father, (he desisted drinking before lunch on account of experiencing several falls), blurted out that the newspaper stated that all graded officers have to call up and join the closest military units to their residencies.  Dad went on that yesterday Victor’s former unit officer called up and father told the caller that Victor is not in (to avoid that the officer directly talks with Victor).  Victor got upset and started eating fast and absentminded to what was being said and ruminating his anger; then he flared up and demanded why my father did not inform him about the call and all the routine irrelevant crap.

So far, it appears that Israel has managed to gain a bridgehead on the hill of the small town of Maroun Al Rass that has a view to a dozen Lebanese villages and most Israeli colonies; Israel is suffering continuing casualties as it wants to capture this strategic town.  Hezbollah has denied the successive claims of Israel that Maroun El Rass had fallen.  Hezbollah has just announced that the village did not fall yet and that 3 Israeli Merkava tanks have been destroyed and at least 20 Israelis soldiers were killed or injured.

We are still waiting for a land invasion but I sense that if it happens it will be very restricted to a couple of miles along the southern border, unless crazy Bush feels like emulating his clinically dead Sharon all the way.  My hunch is that Israel had no quarrel with Hezbollah and could live with a secure and rational peace on its northern borders.  It is the US that wanted to punish Hezbollah for its suicide attacks on the Marines in 1983 in Beirut and more importantly, to destroy any political cards that Iran may hold in the Middle East that could “destabilize the region” in preparation for the crucial next negotiation on Iran’s nuclear program.

Since Israel was ordered by Bush Junior  to deal a military defeat on Hezbollah then Israel decided to destroy Lebanon’s social and political structure that is basically the arch enemy for the viability of the Israeli social and political structure.  Lebanon’s political structure would never be able to unite on a platform for a serious peace treaty with Israel.  Lebanon economy could compete seriously and hurt Israel’s economy when Lebanon catches on the globalization band wagon for fast and integrated communication.

G.W Bush administration is adamant on a military victory on Hezbollah, even if Israel will pay dearly for such a victory since cheap missiles in “rogue” very angry hands, fundamentalists or nationalists, would wreck havoc on its security and tourism; even if such a victory would destabilize the whole Middle East for an unknown political status; even if oil prices might shout over the roof.

Israel, a mercenary State par excellence, is not in a position to turn down an order from Washington though Israel has enough lobbying power in the internal US political structure to always manage well its negotiation to extracting political advantages in addition for more financial and military support.

Syria is more than ready to satisfy the US demands at this junction, if only a quick cease fire in Lebanon is voted in the UN.  The reason for Syria readiness is that it fears Iran’s wrath and then, clear pressures from Iran to engage Israel militarily, a move that Syria refused for over 30 years after the 1973 peace treaty.  Any threat from Iran to remove its cover from Syria is a much more serious threat for the Syrian regime than any other threats because Iran can deliver directly when others have to search for a proxy to do the job.

It is not in the interest of the US to disintegrate Syria, and most probably the US does not want chaos in Syria, but this is in the offing if the US persists in inflicting a crushing military defeat on Hezbollah, leaving all the neighboring countries, including Israel, weak, exhausted and disoriented to assert a seaming of security.  At this stage, the US will experience the extent of the devastation that real terrorism could inflict on World system stability.

May be the coming ten days will offer us an answer to how crazy and irresponsible the Bush administration is; how weak and puny the Olmert PM administration is in handling the crisis forced upon her.  Most probably, a low level war will continue for an extended time erasing any definite perceived advantage any party thought to achieve. What is almost certain is that this government in Lebanon is not a viable one to steer the society in Lebanon to a stable political environment:  it just did not know how to lead, to read between the lines, to take a firm position and create a sense of affinity toward this beleaguered society.

Article #9, April 6, 2005

”Besides displays and controls, what other Interfaces do you design?”

Human Factors professionals are hopefully directing their efforts into designing interfaces between systems and end users; they are focusing their research into collecting useful data that can be directly applied by engineers and designers.

As mentioned in the previous articles, the two main interfaces that common people might guess are the displays that inform a user of the status of the system and the control devices which allow the end user to modify the status of the system to a normal functioning behavior.

Since end users are the target and they do determine the success of any systems, consequently, for any system to be accepted, purchased, and retained then, the end user has to be able to operate the product easily, efficiently, without undue training, be relatively affordable and safe for use by the intended users.

Let us consider the various stages that the designs of a system go through in order to effectively deliver on its purposes and objectives:

First:  To define the objectives and specifications we have to determine the user’s needs and characteristics, organizational structure, work flow, and human performance measurement procedures and parameters. An expert ergonomics is trained to study and analyze all these requirements.

Second:  Next, we have to define the functional and operational requirements.  An expert ergonomics can and should participate in this stage.

Third:  The basic design stage of function allocations to operators or machines, work procedures and performance feedback are intrinsic knowledge to ergonomics.

Fourth:  Designing interfaces and work areas are the primary training of ergonomics.

Fifth:  Designing facilitators such as developing staffing, instructions, performance aids and training are the expertise of ergonomics.

Sixth:  Evaluating and testing specifications and performance are within the training of human factors/ergonomics professionals.

All interfaces that help a user operate a product or subsystem according to the above criteria are part and parcel of the responsibilities of Human Factors professionals.

Consequently, the interfaces within the Human Factors professionals’ capabilities and training are mainly, workstation design, instruction manual, job aids design, training programs and evaluation of systems.

Many other job descriptions during the first stages of system design and operation are within the knowledge and training of Human Factors as well: mainly, task analysis, operation-sequence diagrams and allocation of functions and task to either human operators or machine, or automated sections in systems.

Obviously designing an interface for a mandated trained user, such as an airplane pilot or a nuclear power plant engineer, is easier than designing for common people of all gender differences, stature, age, race and cultural variety, complexity of the system being comparable.

Designing operation and maintenance manuals attached to any product is an important job description that could promote the acceptance and usage of a specific product.

Usually, the instruction manuals contains safety signs, messages and pictorials for the main steps in the operation and thus enhancing safety and avoiding unnecessary litigation down the road.

Designing training programs for the operation, maintenance and repair of products for targeted personnel are within the job description of Human factors graduates.

Evaluating systems’ performance for essential criteria, including training time, safety built in design, understandability of the manuals and acceptability are within the training proficiency of Human Factors graduates.

One of the widely promoted job descriptions is designing workstations.

Workstations design is not about just chairs, tables, keyboards, computer screens and the dozen other gizmos related to a fully functional workstation from communication to printing to audio visual facilities.

A functional workstation has to account for the tasks involved, the positions of the operators, the arrangement, the lighting environment, and the entrance and egress facilities that could harm the operator.

A Human Factors should evaluate a workstation on the health and safety criteria of a designed workstation as well as its operation criteria.

For example, we have already talked about repetitive trauma disorders, pains in various parts of the body and permanent health problems.

Note:  A student version found that designers of menu interface had difficulty with 91% of the guidelines. Analysis of the cause of the users’ errors were studied for recommendations.

What’s Wrong With You Men! (Nov. 2002)

She was separated, with a two years boy, from a Yugoslavian.

Korean by origin, she was a peculiar beauty and somewhat chest flat.

I don’t recall her name.

Yes, it is Kim, or at least the odds are high for Kim.

Kim for Kimberly, the odds could be much lower.

She used to dance with every guy who asked her for a dance.

Rumors were spreading that she needs a man.

I danced with her.  She enjoyed my dancing.

Kim gave me her phone number with some prodding.

I called her the next day for efficiency reasons

But she kept giving me excuses.

I called her often to refresh her memory of which guy I might be.

Many calls and persistence gave fruits for a date.

She gave me her full address with directions.

She needed a listening ear and valiantly tried to make conversation.

Warding off my hot hands, my hands were valiantly responding to her talk.

Kim gave in.  It was quick.

I felt sorry. She felt sorry.

Helplessly she said:” What’s wrong with you men?

All you have in mind is that!”

I never felt so ashamed, little, and insignificant in my life.

I felt a surge of great pity for her.

I wished I could make up for a lifetime friendship with her.

It could not be possible.

When a relationship fails at the start, women know better not to resume.

 


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

September 2008
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