Adonis Diaries

Archive for February 2009

Cholera: The Greek Thucydides Story (February 24, 2009)

            In 430 BC Sparta was besieging Athens. People were flocking from the rural areas to Athens for protection. In this war, Greece and Athens experienced a cholera epidemic.

The Greek historian Thucydides related the horror.  He wrote:

“The plague had hit several counties and city of Lemnos was one of them.  Physicians were of no help because they had no idea what the epidemic was about: they were the first to be infected since they communicated with patients. People prayed, consulted oracles, and then gave up.

They say that the epidemic started in Ethiopia, swept through Egypt, Libya, and then hit the port of Pirea and Athens. People wanted to believe that Sparta poisoned the water wells, but casualties were heaviest in the higher areas of Athens.

People agreed that this year was very mild in ordinary sickness.  Individuals were stricken suddenly, whether they were very healthy or sickly.  The symptoms begin with acute heat in the head; the eyes are red inflamed,  the pharynx and the tongue are color of blood; respiration irregular; breath is fetid.  

The next phase starts with sneezing and the illness descends to the chest accompanied with violent coughing.  Then the patient experiences acute stomach ache, hiccups without vomit and then terrible convulsions.  The skin is not hot but reddish and covered with ulcers. 

The inside of the body is a volcano; nobody could suffer any clothing and it does not mater how often one drinks he is always thirsty.  Many died in wells trying to get refreshments.  Insomnia was the last stroke.

            During the first 7 days that the body is fighting off the disease, patients show signs of resilience and vigor. If patients go over the seven days then the disease reaches the intestine followed with diarrhea and atonement.  Those who outlived the disease were left with physical scars like lost fingers, lost eyes, and many loss of memory.

Most patients went into despair at the setting of the disease and contagion spread by mutual caring of parents and friends. The greatest numbers of victims are those who were confined in their residences and were thus abandoned. 

The most compassionate of “nurses” were those who managed to survive the disease on the belief that they could not relapse and that they would never succumb to any other disease.

            Those who suffered the worst were the rural inhabitants because they huddled in huts with no aeration.  The sacred places were the favorite locations to die.  All the customs for inhumations of cadavers were broken: people threw the dead in the fire reserved for other cadavers. Disorder was the name of the game.

Excesses in securing pleasure and voluptuousness were practiced by the most of sobers. Life and fortune were equally precarious. Nobody cared for divine wrath or later legal judgments since they were to die before then.  People wanted to experience what they failed to do so far.”

I had this funny idea: why the Athenians did not organize a regiment of its plagued citizens who were afflicted less than 7 days ago (since they are still active) and launch them to attack the Spartans while unfurling banners saying “We the plagued Athenians are attacking!”  It would be nice to observe the reactions of the brave Spartans.

Note:  I stated in a previous article on cholera that it appears from historical accounts that the afflicted Mogul armies did not experience the plagued until they reached humid regions and during summer

I wondered whether cholera blooms when people sweat profusely in unhealthy conditions. The consequence is that body fluid would be less saturated with salt or other alkaline compounds and thus, the cholera bacteria thrives abundantly and splits to a threatening cut off point. 

I suggest an experimental design for testing my hypothesis.  We prepare 8 conditions of body fluids; one very diluted in salt, one very concentrated, 3 conditions representing Mediterranean basin body fluids during the hot season, and 3 conditions from Mongolia and Central Asia during the hot seasons. 

If funding is appropriate, we could expand the experiment to include samples of body fluids during the hot seasons in regions close to where major rivers flow into seas and oceans such as the Amazon, the Congo, the Nile, the Mississippi, Ganges, Yang Tse, the Tiger and Euphrates, and the Indus Rivers. Good luck.

Persia/Iran Empires (Part 1, February 21, 2009)

Iran is strategically located within major rivers or beds of civilizations. 

On the Western borders, it enjoyed the civilizations of the Tiger and the Euphrates Rivers (current Iraq), on the eastern borders it was in contact with the Indus River civilizations (current, Afghanistan,  Pakistan and India), on the northern borders it was linked to the Amou Daria River and the Central Asian Rivers civilizations, and in the south it has the sea, facing the Arabic Peninsula.  

Depending on the period of neighboring power influences, Iran was the deep country supplying manpower, complementary skills, and soldiers. For example, Afghanistan was frequently part of the various Persian Empires that extended to the Indus, to Turkey, and even into Egypt.

The Persian language dominated the cultures of all this vast Empire. 

Currently, variants of the Persian language are spoken in Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

Generally, most of the Persian Empires started from south-east Iran, a mostly desert region that extended to the Indus.

Later, the Empires expanded to greener pastures:  To the west toward Iraq (Elam in antiquity or Khuzistan today), to the north (Parthia, Khorassan, and Central Asia), to the east toward Afghanistan and India, and to the north-west toward Turkey, and Armenia..

After the Babylonian and Assyrian Empires, the various Persian Empires dominated Iraq.  The Arab Moslem Empire dominated Iran militarily for less than three centuries, but the Persian civilization and customs dominated the political and cultural landscape in Iraq and Afghanistan during and after the Abbasid Dynasty. 

The newly built city of Baghdad around 765 by the Abbasid Dynasty was very close to Persia’s main Capital Ctesiphon by the Tiger River.

Three main Persian Empires lasted long enough to leave powerful imprint on the geo-cultural landscape in this area. 

The Achaemenid Dynasty (1000 to 331 BC) was vanquished by Alexander of Macedonia; the Sassanid Dynasty (240 to 650 AC) was vanquished by the Moslem Arabs; and the Safavid Dynasty (1500 to 1722 AC) before our modern times.

The Ottoman Empire checked the Safavid expansion toward Turkey, especially because the Safavid Dynasty was mainly of Turkish origin from the Caspian Sea.

The Afghan invasion put an end to its effective authority. The various Mogul Dynasties extended their influence from Iran to India before the British colonizers ruled.

The road to perdition (Introspection chapter#49)

 

 My brother-in-law, Victor’s assignment, as military attaché of the Lebanese government, lasted barely two years and I had the opportunity to meet with many US officials, the Lebanese community, and Lebanese army officers on training missions.  I was living and working in San Francisco since 1992 and was invited to live with my family in Washington DC, before we relocated to Montgomery County in Maryland.

 

My sister Raymonde prepared countless dinners, all by herself, for dozens of invitees each time. Mother stayed with us for six months and was of great aid preparing dinners.  We toured the USA as a family, a few  Disney’s lands, New York, North Carolina and on.

 

Victor and Raymonde had wider opportunities to tour the USA as invitees of the US military to Hawaii, Colorado, Louisiana, and Niagara Falls and on. I went biking and walking with the kids in the forests.

 

The time came in 1996 for the Choukeir family to leave for Lebanon.  Every member of the family was distraught.  The kids were very unhappy because they experienced a new learning climate for investigative minds; they even learned music and playing musical instruments and tampered with computers.

 

Victor insisted on purchasing and shipping a large gas guzzling van that they used to tour Jordan and Syria in their first year in Lebanon, before it turned a relic, parked and taking space in the parking lot because the kids had grown out of family vacations as a group.

I refused to leave with them.  I had no earning job and I was practically broke; I was plainly conscious that the hardest period is ahead of me, but I refused to succumb yet to a “suicidal life” in Lebanon; I had to make a final push for financial stability.

 

Two months before the order for Victor to definitely return to Lebanon, I had read an announcement that a free course of 3 weeks in Real Estate was opening; this course would permit me to sit for a testing exam that may introduce me into this closed business.

My next four years to the labyrinths of Hell took off, especially for someone with a foreign accent, short, and ungainly, who posted his real estates signs “Dr. Adonis” .  I had a PhD in industrial engineering and was not lying with any title.

I can write a whole book just on my personal experiences in Real Estates business and thus, I would restrain my experience to just a sketchy section of my first two years.  The sign generated many calls from distraught people suffering of physical ailments, but I was of no help.

I have published on wordpress.com five pieces (poems) related to my attitude and feelings on my life in this business, and particular chapters describing my life and the real estates business.

I recall the innumerable hunger, humiliation and indignity I suffered in the first two years in the real estates business, and many more after I started earning a living.

I rented rooms in humid basements.  I finally purchased a decent 4-year old car with my credit card.  I paid the ads of my listed properties with credit cards.  I know how the US lived in the last three decades on just credit cards…

Once, I lost weight and my acquaintances believed I had AIDS.  I got scared and visited a community dispensary and paid $10 for the check up.  The physician sadly told me: “You are not eating properly.”  What can a broke person eat?  I hadn’t discovered any soup kitchen announcement in this ultra wealthy county.

Four years of hell, but I made it with many topics to write about.  Nothing else but frustration and abuse, and many listings generated mostly from 50 calls a day to unknown people, using the phone book, and asking “Do yo care to sell or buy properties?”.  I never liked calling and still don’t.

Nietzsche’s “Thus spoken Zarathustra” (February 20, 2009)

Zarathoustra “The one who owns old camels” (a tradition in antiquity to tone down the status of famous personalities in order to avoid jealousy and the cursed eyes) is considered the reformist Prophet (7th century BC) of the Ahura Mazda religion in antique Persian Empires.This Empire extended from Turkey to the Indus River (Pakistan).

Nietzsche wrongly adopted the meaning of the Greek name of Zoroaster “The Star of Gold“.  The God Ahura Mazda (The Lord or the Wise Spirit) re-organized the Universe in order to lock in his arch enemy Angra Manyu (The agent of evil thinking) in a time capsule. Thus, people in the universe have to deal with the “Devil of lies, confusion, errors, and death” before they are freed out of the time constraint

In the antiquity, Ahura Mazda represented the day, and the Sun was the symbol of divinity, and fire was the medium through which Ahura Mazda listened to prayers and spoke. 

There were countless sub-divinity representing values of Ahura Mazda and many personalized divinities like Mithra (God of justice represented by the Sun) and Anahita (Goddess of the water), and the God of wind, destiny, and so on.  The forces of life and good will ultimately vanquish the forces of evil and death.

So far, there are no historic proofs, archeological or epigraphic discoveries for indices that Zarathustra, Abraham, Moses, or Lao Tseu did exist except in oral traditions. 

It appears that the concepts of angels, the Judgment of the dead, the Holy Ghost are interpreted from the Zoroastrian religious tradition.  The history of humanity is enclosed in three time periods of 3,000 years each:

The first period witnesses the encapsulation of Angra Manyu; the second period witnesses the awakening of Angra Manyu and the terrible confusion and instauration of death; the third and last period experiences the last struggles between the forces of evil and good.  The number 3 in all religions of the antiquity is a divine number, and corpses were laid by three in the tombs.  The number thousand should not be taken literally because it refers to a huge number. 

Thus, when Zarathustra was born he knew that he is living in the last period and that he will not die and would return to Ahura Mazda.  The disciples of Zarathustra claim that their Prophet learned to be in communication with Ahura Mazda.

The Greek philosophers were fascinated with the teachings of Zarathustra and they emulated many concepts of the Ahura Mazda religion for the good life, beauty, the rejection of ascetic life and celibacy, and devotion to heavy drinking. Soldiers would go to combat wearing all their jewelries. The Persian King would revisit his decisions taken when fasting, and would verify his previous decision after he is literally drunk.

Many Mazdi followers fled persecutions in south east Iran in the provinces of Yazd and Kerman in the 10th century and immigrated to India and Bombay. The French explorer Anquetil-Duperron traveled to India in 1755 and learned Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, and Farsi in order to investigate the religion and traditions of the Mazdi followers who were established in the region of Surat (northern region of Pakistan and bordering Afghanistan). 

Anquetil-Duperron published three vast volumes titled “Zend Avesta, the work of Zoroaster“.  There are large communities of Mazdi in California and India. The Bahai followers adopt the Mazdi beliefs in addition to Islam and variant of Judaism.

Even current Iran, the Islamist Republic, celebrates the Mazdi festivities of New Year (Nawrouz) and the Red Wednesday, a festival of fire and pleasure.

In the summer of 1881, Nietzsche was sitting by the lake of Sils-Maria in Switzerland; it is located 6,000 feet above sea level and “far from things human”.  He said:

“I was waiting for nothing.  Beyond the good or evil, I was enjoying of light, shadows, the lake, the noontime, and of no purpose. Then, friend, suddenly one became two and Zarathustra walked by”  That is when the decision to write “Thus spoken Zarathustra” had taken flesh and for over two years, Nietzsche would resume his manuscript where ever he is located.

 Since the Zoroastrian religion professed the duality between good and evil and thus, according to Nietzsche, Zoroaster preached an “extra-morale” doctrine beyond the good and evil and proselytized the eternal return of man, a sort of an extension to the doctrine represented by Dionysus.  The Greek God Dionysus had the power to change and to be transformed into another player; this power is mainly of lightness, perpetual movement, and erotic.

Nietzsche would sign a few of his articles Dionysus. Thus, Nietzsche wrote: “Only the one who can change is related to me.  This life, as you are living it now and had so far lived, you will have to re-live it many other times. You will have to learn to be kind to yourself and toward life. You have got to mark the future of the being with the highest will for power“.

While the German philologists claimed that Zoroaster invented morality, Nietzsche would argue that Zoroaster preached the contrary to morality and that he was the representative of thinker on life. 

Nietzsche contrasted Zoroaster to Socrates whom he judged to cling to a moral set.  (I think Socrates is being evaluated according to what Plato said about Socrates’ teaching.  It is Plato that ascribed to set of moral standards and of eugenics practices for a new Republic.  Socrates wanted to dialogue with people in power to discriminate those who are free thinkers and reflect on prevalent moral standards from those who abide by religious dogmas and current paradigms)

Cholera or Pest or Plague: Never vanished and blooming again (February 23, 2009)

Cholera is back in force and threatening to spread in many neighboring States to Zimbabwe.  Mugabe of Zimbabwe refuses to step down as President and his State is suffering great famine, miseries, and the plague.  Thousands of people have contracted cholera and over 7,000 have already succumbed.   Cholera cannot be controlled; it could not be through the ages and current progress is not at a par with that plague.  Why?  Cholera has the capacity to mutate: an element of AND code new functions for the benefit of the bacteria, modifying its genome and increasing its adaptation to treatments or new antibiotics.

Alexandre Yersin, a French physician and bacteriologist, discovered in 1894 that Cholera is a bacteria but he failed to come up with a curative serum. Yersin still believed that rodents (rats) are the main culprit for transmitting this disease.  Only in 1898 did Paul-Louis Simond confirmed that cholera is transmitted by flea that quit dead rats to other greener pastures by sucking blood elsewhere.  Rats are infected with cholera but they are not affected or transmit it because they rarely bite humans.  Once a man is afflicted with cholera then the main transmitter of the epidemics are men.

So far, medical research has not mapped out all the means of transmissions of the disease.  It is possible that home pets, cats and dogs, carrying flea might be transmitters of the epidemic.  What is known is that older generations of antibiotics such as streptomycin, chloramohenicol, and tetracycline are increasingly inefficient against the bacteria of cholera.  The antibiotic based on fluoroquinolone might be of more effectiveness.

Bubonic plague has a long history, through the ages, to devastating more than a third of populations.  Cholera lands suddenly, kills for a short period and then disappear for no known reasons.  The best remedy was to flee as quickly, as far away as is possible and not to return any time soon.  The Jews in Judea were decimated during David.  The troops of the Assyrian Monarch Sanhareeb, putting siege to Jerusalem in 701 BC, suffered the plague. Greece and Athens in 430 BC was devastated by cholera as Sparta was laying siege to Athens. Ancient Rome was plagued.  Cholera hit Byzantium during Justinian for one century and traveled around the Mediterranean basin; Pope Pelage II succumbed to cholera in 590.  In 1346, the Mogul troops, laying siege to Caffa in Crimea, were plagued and they catapulted infested bodies over the rampart of Caffa.  The Genoa defenders fled Caffa and transmitted the plague to all Europe; Spain, Marseille, Paris, England are contaminated and then Russia ten years later. France lost over a third of its population and Spain as many if not worse.

Cholera crashed London in 1665; the English monarch and his family paid a long visit to the French Monarch, The plague subsided when fire engulfed the better parts of the poorer quarters of London in 1666.  The last time, before Zimbabwe, that cholera expressed its virulence was in 1894 in south east China.

History accounts shows that cholera was carried by the Mogul troops arriving from Mongolia and Central Asia. As they sweep into relatively humid regions then plague settles in during summertime. India, Iran, Iraq, and Syria suffered plague during the Mogul successive invasions. I cannot but figure out a few hypotheses.  Cholera infects people but does not bloom in dry arid regions.  Cholera is virulent in humid regions and during the hot seasons.  Could it be because people sweat profusely? Especially because people failed to wash or take bathes in older days?  Or is it that since sweat excretes most of the salt in the body then cholera has an ideal medium of less salty body fluids to flourish and concentrate during the ripe seasons?

Parent’s have choices: Revisited (February 23, 2009)

In a previous article I stated “All that parents need to know on the condition of a fetus of six weeks is a drop of blood from the mother.  The mother blood carries cells transferred from the fetus and all the necessary information can be obtained from a single cell.  A wide array of diseases of physical and cognitive natures, whether curable or incurable, can be diagnosed at six weeks of the fetus. A sample of these diseases is: sterility, mongolism (Down syndrome), Elephantine, blindness, deafness, metabolic deficiencies, epilepsy, mental retardation, cancer (ovary, breast, colon, and prostate), neurological, Alzheimer, and anxiety to name a few”.

The medical institutions, bolstered with the science of genomes for interpreting the ADN chains and the recognition of the wide gamut of physical and mental characteristics of a person based on his ADN, are in the midst of a new set of challenges. It is possible to perform successful surgeries “in utero” (unborn baby) for cardiac, renal, and spinal-bifida ailments.   Knowing the chromosomal ailments the medical profession can treat the afflicted parts a various stages.  For example, by sorting out the embryos and selecting the least affected, during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and at an advanced stage of pregnancy. “Bubble children” who are confined in sterilized environment are being treated successfully by genetic therapy by injection of modified genes and injection of the lacking proteins.

Do you know that the technology can scan the whole body in 3-dimensions, in and out, and the data stored for further analysis?  Shouldn’t the State covers the cost of scanning the body at birth, when adolescent and when a person reaches 40-years of age?  This facility should save the heath system tons of money because the physicians would have the means to evaluate the progress of ailments and tumors instead of costing countless micro scanning throughout a life time and then many patients realizing that an ailments is far advanced and the expenses are exorbitant in suffering, psychological traumas, and financially.  Very soon, every citizen would be carrying on him a USB of his whole body scan along with his medical card.

The human and social institutions legal, political, and religious are left dizzy; they are scrambling to catch up with the new realities of man and his potential development.  The Parliaments have backlog of fresh laws to organize and codify the new realities. 

For example, should the parents have the right to know the condition of the fetus without the obligation to ask, should the gynecologist inform the parents of the alternative treatments for giving birth to a healthy baby, should the parents have the right to abort when they get the full knowledge of the condition of the baby even after an advanced stage of pregnancy, what are the civil status of “in vitro” born babies, or how long a person is permitted to extend his life with various transplants?  Laws are enacted several years after the fact and they are at beast incoherent and have to be revisited frequently.

We are already experiencing a shift from traditional medical specialties to high tech treatments simply because publishing is the name of the game.  Mentors of medical students want recognitions that only come from up-to-date advances.  How about the cash cow treatments of the other preventive treatments such as vaccines and performing antibiotics? Who is caring for the billions of patients in the under-developed States who are asking for just a low cost preventive vaccines and low cost antibiotics that no pharmaceutical companies care to produce anymore?

Nietzsche: A biography of the philosopher of life (February 15, 2009)

Note:  My intention is to write three articles on the topic; the first part is a biography on Nietzsche, the second part is Nietzsche’s positions on life and his philosophy, and the last part would describing what is known of the ancient Persian religion of Ahura Mazda, its latest prophet Zarathustra, and explaining how Nietzsche comprehended the mazdean religious book the Avesta. (I have updated About)         

Frederick Nietzsche was born in 1844 in Rocken (Germany) on the birthday of the King Friedrich Wilhelm.  His father Karl was a Presbyterian minister, from a long line of ministers in the family, and died when Nietzsche was five of age.  His mother was then 18 and devout. His little brother died after a day of high fever; Frederick had a dream the night before his brother’s death “The church organ is playing. My father step out of his tomb wearing the shroud; then, he returns carrying a little baby in his arms and they enter the tomb”.  Nietzsche regards his childhood as a succession of bereavements; he wrote “I know of nothing the least desirable than childhood and youth.  I was born as plant by the cemetery.  I grew up in the cemetery church” (I recall a book by Amelie Nothomb that I reviewed and titled “Metaphysics of plant”)

            Nietzsche is brilliant in his studies, and at the age of 9 he learns to play the piano and to compose music (at least 50 lieder) “when I cannot listen to music everything seems dead to me”.  He joins the university of theology in Bonn and discover that he” had lost the faith” and pursue philology or the study of the Greco-Latin civilizations through the religious texts.

            In 1868 Nietzsche meets the composer Wagner (aged 52) in Leipzig and spent his happiest moments in the company of Cosima (Wagner’s wife); he had a secret love for Cosima and she was represented as Ariane in his works. In the Greek mythology Ariane saved her husband Theses out of the labyrinth; then she married Dionysus the God of the eternal return.   Frederick hoped to become the tutor of Wagner’s son Siegfried; soon Nietzsche realizes that he is considered as “another piece of furniture in the house and that Wagner amused his invitees at his expense”.  Wagner became Nietzsche’s preferred target of diatribes and more so after Wagner’s death.

            Nietzsche’s mentor, Friedrich Ritschl, managed in 1869 to appoint Nietzsche (aged 25) professor of philology (science of logic?) in Bale Switzerland where he spent most of his teaching life. After reading Schopenhauer, Nietzsche decided to become a philosopher.

            Nietzsche served as nurse during the Franco-German war in 1870.  He suffers from nausea, terrible headaches, and used to losing his sight for many days (these were the symptoms of syphilis contracted maybe around 1866) which developed into a generalized paralysis and coma.  Nietzsche has to take frequent sabbaticals because of ill health and after 18 years of teaching in Bale he had to renounce teaching and retired with a small pension.

For ten years Nietzsche is moving around trying to locate a place that suits his ill health.  In summer time he rents a room (transformed into museum) in Sils-Maria in Switzerland, 6,000 feet above sea level, where his book “Thus spoke Zarathustra” germinated.  In winter time he stays around Nice, Genoa, and finally in Turin (Italy) where he somber into coma in January 1889 and is transferred to Weimar where his little sister Elizabeth (Lama) and his mother cared for him for 11 years.  Nietzsche is practically a dead person, he is silent, and plays piano until he dies in August 1900.

Lama established a museum for her brother in Weimar and published his works.  She became a Nazi member in 1930 and Hitler visited her and the museum and he participated to Lama’s funeral in 1935.

The vaccine is ready; sorry, in ten years: the AIDS/SIDA case (February, 22, 2009)

            AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) or SIDA in French has been diagnosed about 28 years ago. It is a virus that affect of immune system.  How this virus came to be in the first place?  The medical establishments claim that this virus appeared over a century ago in rural Africa.  The people affected by AIDS got weak and lost weight and thus their poor immune system were prime target for many other diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, and dozen other diseases.  Thus, death was imputed to these known diseases.

            Then, rural Africa started to flock to the cities and AIDS epidemic flourished and many Europeans and foreigners got contaminated via unprotected sexual contacts. The Cuba military contingents sent to Africa and the South African mercenaries of the apartheid regime at the time and the French troops in West Africa transmitted that disease to Europe and the USA.  Lately, there were published several serious books pointing to probable causes for the widespread of the epidemics; they argued that AIDS was transmitted through live vaccines in Africa intended for other diseases.

            The epidemic was discovered by hazard in 1981. The Center of Disease Control in Atlanta discovered cases of sarcomas of Kaposi (36 cases in 30 months).  In 1983, cases of AIDS were detected in female partners of drug addicts or through infected blood transfusions. AIDS was getting rampant in Haiti and Cuba.  Quarantine health systems were re-applied to all immigrants tested positive to AIDS.

            The UN had issued a report on the state of AIDS in 2006.  There are over 33 millions infected or seropositive (they don’t have AIDS yet but they can transmit the virus sexually or through blood), 2.5 millions infections per year, and 2.1 millions dead per year.  68% of the infected are located in 8 countries in the sub-Saharan regions; obviously, the greatest majority of dead are also from these regions.  China, Central Europe, and South East Asia are experiencing drastic increases in AIDS.  There surely are formulas to predict trends for specific regions, the duration of incubation of the seropositive before it turns AIDS, and the duration to live (life expectancy) before an AIDS patient dies.  These variables are different by regions depending on the State health support and close monitoring of the virus.  In the USA and Europe an AIDS patient can expect to survive 10 years.

            Every now and then we receive news that vaccines for AIDS have been discovered only to get retractions and postponement for another decade.  In the meantime, I suspect Bush Junior zeal to combat AIDS in Africa as means to fund US pharmaceutical companies to pursue testing on ready, helpless, and cheap African guinea pigs.

Bi-Weekly Report (#11) on the Middle East and Lebanon (February 19, 2009)

            The Sudanese author Al Tayyeb Saleh died in London this Wednesday at the age of 80; he had cancer.  I reviewed one of his books “Seasons of Migration to the North” which received so far more than 180 hits before it was surpassed last week by my review of the biography of Al Waleed Bin Talal.

            The theocratic Saudi regime has undergone an “artificial” skin shedding re-structuring of its government posts.  The media claim that the Saudi Monarch is moderating the religious leaders of the Wahhabi sect; he appointed 150 members to the “Shoura” (an assembly of theologian versed in the Islam laws).  Maybe it is a first step re-organization before some changes in the Ministry of the Interior and the National Security administrations.  

Saudi Arabia had launched in the last three decades vast proselytizing campaigns of the Wahhabi sect in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, and Egypt.  Extremist Islam is the trademark of the Najd sect mainly funded by the Saudi regime and applied by Al Qaeda, Taliban, and the Somali Moslem regime.  They tried to infiltrate Lebanon via the city of Tripoli but were crushed in the Nahr Al Bared Palestinian refugees’ camp by the Lebanese army. With the advent of a new era in the USA and the serious willingness of Obama to negotiate with Iran then Saudi Arabia is scrambling to put up a face of a viable and sustainable regime to deal with in the region.

            The Ambassador of Saudi Arabia in Lebanon, Al Shaer, was made Minister of the Media.  There are strong rumors in Lebanon that Al Shaer had “fishy financial transactions” with the Hariri clan and our Seniora P.M.   Seniora stated that he used the cash money aid of Saudi Arabia for the reconstruction of South Lebanon as collateral for borrowing money; go figure, using cash as collateral to borrow money!

            That many foreign officials, who overstayed in their positions in Lebanon, ended up learning the trade of financial embezzlements and bribery is no news. The Syrian mandated officials in Lebanon, for over 15 years, learned the trade and almost wrecked havoc to the Syrian economy.  Before the Syrian, the Israeli army had to retreat quickly to the southern strip in Lebanon because hashish transactions and arms selling business flourished enormously among the Israel Defense Force.  No wonder that the stoned Israeli soldiers were no match to the clean, sober, and decided Lebanese resistance forces.

            The people of Gaza are waiting for an agreement among the political factions for the entrances normal re-opening to traffic.  It appears that Israel is unwilling to come to an agreement before its government is formed; the latest election did not produce any clear cut winner and no single party has enough power to decide for peace; all that Israel is capable of doing is engaging in more of the useless offensive wars for internal benefits among the political parties.  Hamas has shown enough flexibility but Egypt has proven to be just a mediator with no will or capability to impose any change on any of the belligerent parties until Obama makes up his mind.

            Parliamentary election is priority on the mind of the Lebanese politicians.  The Hariri clan has already paid for chartered airplane prior to June 7 for expatriates.  Millions are earmarked for the election though every politician agrees that the difference in seats between the government and the opposition alliances will not exceed three deputies out of a total number of 120 deputies. Saad Hariri is visiting the Sunni Arab States and submitting his obedience, especially Egypt as the vanguard of the Sunni power and dominance.

The real battlefield in the election is in the Christian districts.  The government alliances want to recoup the Christian majority seats off the Change and Reform Movement (Tayyar) of General Aoun who offered critical internal credibility to Hezbollah.  The one special district is the Christian Metn district where the government wants to discredit the dominance of the Tayyar of General Aoun.  The Phalange (Kataeb) is joining with Michel Murr (two major electoral forces in Metn).  Michel Murr is saying that the Tayyar barely contributed 10,000 votes for a total of 50,000 votes to win; that he let the Tayyar win the Metn district and then they discarded his opinions in the last four years and thus this fight is “kasser athem” (bone breaking). 

The last election to fill the vacancy of late deputy Pierre Gemayel was a close call to the Tayyar; the Armenian voter made the difference. During the defeat speech, the ex-President Amine Gemayel (the candidate) alienated the Armenian voter even further by branding this “minority” as essentially not Lebanese patriot.  Michel Murr gave his supporters the choice; the majority of his supporters favored the leader of the Phalange Amine Gemayel.  The other district is Baabda with sizeable Druze voters; in the last election Hezbollah’s Shiaa voters made the difference because it was then allied to the government coalition and thus, permitted Walid Jumblatt to make a clean sweep of both districts of Baabda/Aley and the Choof.

Senator (D) John Kerry visited Damascus, Beirut, Gaza, and Israel.  What I heard from Kerry is that Bush Junior was not wrong in his Middle Eastern policies and that the Obama Administration has no plans to review these policies. According to Kerry, the only fault of Bush Junior is for not starting with political negotiations but to sending out Powell and Ramsfeld to dictate the US policies to the regional leaders through a short list of “do and don’t do”. 

Either Obama is using up these stupid democrats in the higher echelon of the Democratic Party and burning out their credibility or he is indeed comfortable with a bunch of lame outdated Democratic leaders.  Either way, the Obama Administration is on the path of fishy decisions that will inefficiently consume the better part of his four years first tenure.

Note: I have updated my About.

Egocentrist: The fake and the real, you decide (February, 18, 2009)

Life covers infinite shades of typicality and values but sending the right message needs two gross examples for comparison sake. 

Let us consider a person who have or made time to spare and he decided to analyze his behavior, pretty much an exercise in introspection.

This process requires reading a lot, reflecting, recalling, and writing on a daily basis; a diary is highly recommended. 

It is a harsh exercise that demands honesty, guts, and stubbornness. The road is uneven and fraught with despair and loneliness and social uneasiness from the neighbors and close relatives. 

Fundamentally, you are categorized as someone who “lost it” or going through middle age troubles and the longer the process of introspection the definitive is the condemnation.

This process does not rule out socializing and having fun and enjoying life to the hilt; the real hic is “are you going to find whom is willing to join you and sharing your happiness”? 

If you are to go out alone and if you are not ready to socialize wherever you are going to, then why the bother of getting out? You know deep down that you are in introspection primarily because you feel the urge to comprehend the others, to discover resemblance in behavior, more compatible associative links than how you used to judge people.

You don’t want to feel an alien in your surrounding. But first thing first, you need cohesive answers to the questions “Who am I? What are my strengths and weaknesses? How can I improve and in what way? What is the value of living? How can I contribute? Do I still count after I am dead?”

Now let us consider the other type of individual

He hates staying still; he is constantly on the road; on weekends he is taking long trips hunting, fishing, skiing, camping, vacationing, touring or whatever. He cannot stand being at home. 

He has to fuss around more than of being of help.

After work he hits the bars to rewind.  He lingers as long as he can to avoid returning home. 

At home he has nothing to do but watch cables.  Fundamentally, he hates anything related to reading, reflecting, discussing, and writing.

At best, he might read professional materials to keep up with his profession. He ingurgitates all kinds of pharmacopoeias in order to keep out of home.  It is always the end of time if he has to be tied down to bed because he has to feed his family, because he has responsibilities, because it is not the time to rest and sleep, because “I will sleep long enough after I die

The introspective person implicitly believes that there is a second return after death and that if he learns to witness a change in kindness toward others and himself then he should be ready and up and running to enjoy what life offers. 

The second individual implicitly do not believe that there is another life; even if there is one then it would be of the same nature of struggle among wills for power and another life of strings of miseries.

My question is “Who is the ego-centrist?” 

Is he the one running away from reflecting on his behavior or the one who decided to take the demon by the horns? 

Who will be more capable of mastering “Time” and taking advantage of his older years

Who will be more capable of showing companionship and relating to people as age advances? 

Who will be the favorite listening ears and the least judgmental with age?


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

February 2009
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