Adonis Diaries

Archive for May 1st, 2011

Have you been in a torture chamber? What’s going on in Syria and Bahrain?

The British daily The Guardian published the testimony of Adnan (a pseudonym) who was arrested last Friday in the town of Moudamiyeh near Damascus, after protests in which he did not take part.

“We saw about a thousand protesters come out of the mosque and more people came to join them. The mosque was surrounded by riot police and troops, but it was peaceful until the protesters tried to start marching, chanting “God, Syria, Freedom, that’s all!”. Some protesters threw stones, then we saw the security forces open fire. One seemed to target the protest leader; they shot him in the head.

We were trying to leave the town when someone shouted “Stop!” and ordered us to kneel down.  Troops from the Fourth Division (the elite unit commanded by Maher, President Bashar al-Assad‘s brother) were involved.  The same troops that were involved in suppressing protests in Deraa, the south-western town that has become a focus for unrest.

We have always regarded the security forces with fear, but not the army. They are conscripts – even in the lower ranks of the Fourth Division. They pulled our tops over our heads so we couldn’t see clearly and pinned our arms behind our backs. They hit us on the back and head, sometimes with the butts of their guns. They accused us of being foreign agents, and of trying to film protests to send to the media.

We were thrown in the back of an army truck and taken to the base on the outskirts of Damascus. We were put in a room and beaten from 4pm to 4am.  We were tortured for12 hours without sleep. The beating would stop for 15 minutes and resumed by someone else.

They accused us of working for former Saad al-Hariri PM of Lebanon and the Saudi prince Bandar bin Sultan.  In the morning, we were taken to the Air Force Intelligence. Fifty of us were crammed in a 15-meter square cell. Among us, there were 15-year-old boys and 80-year-old men.

We could only stand up; there was no space to sleep. None of them had been at any protests. Many were arrested just because they were from Deraa. Many were fathers and sons. People were covered in blood: they had bad bruising and cuts on their bodies; they were bashed.

I tried to lift the spirits of the young people by talking to them. One 15-year-old boy asked me why we were there if the President had lifted the emergency law. I didn’t know what to say: this country doesn’t run on law. A man my age was crying.  He told me he had heard his elderly father being beaten and he had begged them to beat him instead. “He is old, he can’t take it like I can,” he said. ‘But they ignored me’. Another man with cancer asked if he could go home. They replied: ‘We don’t care about your illness. If you die, we will dig a grave for you here.’

The entire experience is built around humiliation (the same tactics of humiliation of the Zionists). We were blindfolded. We were shouted at. We were only allowed to the toilet once a day, for three seconds. We had to strip down to our underwear and someone would stand outside the door counting. If you didn’t finish within three seconds you were beaten. I often didn’t go; I was too worried. We were given water and food, but you don’t want to drink when you can’t go to the toilet.

We were taken out of the cell to be beaten and I was interrogated several times. One time, they took us to a room with an electric chair. I said no, this is too much, not this. They didn’t use it but they have one – I saw it with my own eyes. They accused me of working for foreign gangs. They were angry about videos of the protests being leaked and they searched everyone’s phones. They finally decided to let me go in the early hours of the morning.  I was exhausted and bruised and battered.

It was a horrible experience. This regime is brutal but also stupid. Everyone in there said they were angrier, not more afraid. You cannot forgive a regime that does this to you.”

In the Syrian “Constitution” there are two contradicting clauses.  One clause states that the secular Baath party is the party of the regime.  The other clause is that Islam is the religion of the State.  We don’t hear this regime mentioning the Baath party anymore, or that Islam is the official religion. And you wonder “what is the ideology of this regime?”  There is none, save maintaining the hold of the Assad clan in power.

This oligarchic regime has wide experience with Islamic factions and had manipulated many of them as proxies in Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan…The same brutal tactics are counter productive and working in favor of the extremist Islamic movements.  Most probably, this regime has no infrastructure to discuss and engage positively with the mass uprising.  This closed knit regime has not evolved to handle inside problems in a democratic procedure.

What this regime has to do is seriously forming a wide progressive and secular movement to face the growing indignities that the Syrian citizens have been subjugated to. Bashar has to ultimately step down and his clan sent to pasture before peace and stability return to Syria.  The people want a moratorium on these antic forms of regimes.

How the dog pack Homo Erectus became weak and brutal? Keep running properly

I listened to the talk of Christopher McDougall on TEDx at a regular meeting in Awkar (Lebanon).

McDougall claims that Homo Erectus survived for 2 million years without any weapons, in an environment of carnivorous animals far more equipped genetically to chasing and killing prays.

Mankind is at a disfavor in all aspects of sensory capabilities, speed, and killing means than most animals.  So how did this specie managed to survive for so many years?

Christopher McDougall claims that Homo Erectus went hunting, all of them, as a tribe, men, adults, women, children, and even babies.

One factor that Homo Erectus outdid the performance of other animals is that he could cool-off while running, and thus, as other animals needed to stop to refresh, our dog pack of homos kept running and wearing out his chase to a stop, encircled, and then killed at leisure.

I am wondering:  How the homo erectus killed the pray?

They must have used some kinds of weapons like a heavy stick or stones.

How they managed to skin the pray?  They must have used some kinds of knives.

Do you believe ancient homo erectus ate the meat with the fur? Did they have more performing teeth mechanism or different finger nail shapes?  Or these lucubration are beside the topic?

(I have seen documentaries of African hunters chasing antelopes for 8 straight hours and forcing the victim to kneel down and say: “Okay, I outran you, I did my best to avoid you and blend in the environment.  You win. Please, kill me quickly.”

They were three Africans specialized in these long chases; they were naked and carried spears; most probably a few of them carried a sort of knife.

The documentary didn’t show what portion of the antelope they carried back to the community:  The antelope must be far heavier than the three hunters combined. The documentary failed to mention how the hunters returned, walking or running, and how long the return trip lasted. And how they carried the meat…

Are these pieces of intelligence beside the subject matter?

It is amazing the kinds of skills these hunters must have acquired to achieving this feat.  Does anyone believe that if he is equipped with modern technologies like GPS locators, compasses, and…he can find his way back after 8 hours of running in the jungle?

McDougall said that there is a tribe in Mexico that survived the Spanish Conquistadors’ holocaust by keeping on the run as a tribe since the year 1600.

his tribe emulated the hunting strategy of the Homo Erectus to survive all these years.  I bet this tribe learned to fabricate weapons so that they don’t have to run 8 hours every-time they need to feed.

I don’t know from where McDougal gathered his statistics that the members of this tribes never experienced feet, leg, or back injuries from running.  Is that too beside the point?

A regular attendee, William, has been experimenting with McDougall suggestions; not the hunting part, but the running methods.

William hand-made his flat thin sandals (as the one used by the Mexican tribe) and has been running with his dog Misha.  William said that he suffered from his knees before wearing the special sandals.  To double check that the former sneakers were the culprit, he wore his regular running shoes and the pains in his knees returned.  That is not all.

Even his sandals eventually hurt his knees and back for his 10 km run.  Thus, William experimented with the running posture and discovered that an erect posture, the groin forward, relying on the buttocks muscles, and managed to eliminate the leg and back pains.

William calls this posture “Fucking the dog posture”.  Obviously, this image is misleading, since you cannot fuck anything in this posture, not even an inflated man-made doll, but the male attendees nodded their head in agreement, simply because it is the “virtual posture” they like to  dream of.

Experiment in physics have demonstrated that bare feet have better coefficient of friction than any manufactured shoes, running or climbing shoes.  The bare foot opposes better resistance to slippery roads. Actually, African hunters go bare feet; maybe a few of them fabricate appropriate footwear from their hunting experience.

Maybe mankind evolved to run and run.

It is not organizing marathons or participating in marathons that will reverse the sedentary life-style of mankind.  When have you decided to go to work on foot?

Can cycling be another alternative to running?  Are we evolving into Homo Cyclist?

Instead of relying on buttock muscles, what other muscles we might rely on?

Note 1: Christopher McDougall said that, two decades ago, women were discouraged from running Marathons by disseminating the false information that the uterus will fall off and women will no longer be able to bear babies.  In  a few marathons, you see women breast feeding while running!

Note 2:  I suggest to design shoes by elevating the insole and having the outside sole thicker than the ball of the shoe so that the ball of the foot does not hit the ground first. That is my trademark design.


Is the origin of Yoga that relevant? What is Yoga Sutra or physical postures?

It is common to witness clubs, spas, and religious centers offering yoga sessions to over 16 million US individuals, not counting those practicing yoga in Europe, Australia, China, Japan, and everywhere else.

There are about 195 aphorisms comprising the Yoga Sutra, only 3 of them are related to the asanas or physical postures, including stretching and respiratory exercises.  This type of physical posture yoga is Hatha Yoga.

You have the Iyengor & Sivananda methods, the ashtanaga vinyasa or dynamic methods (Pattabhi Jois), and the more recent Bikram methods. The Mahabharata never mentioned yoga and the Bhagavat Gita mentioned yoga only twice.

It appears that hatha yoga is a creation of the Kanphata sect in northern India around the 10th century.  This sect was composed of sadhus, ascetics with long ached powdered hair, not appreciated by the clerics of the Hinduism religion.

There are currently 200 asanas reported in the Yoga Bible, published my master Iyengar (2009).  If we realize that the combined manuscripts of hatha yoga Pradipika (14the century) , Gheranda Samhita, and Shiva Samhita (17 th century mentioned only 15 asanas, how the remaining 185 asanas were developed?

Krishnamacharya (1930) based his 30 asanas on the Sritattvanidhi (19th century) manuscript found in the library of maharaja of Mysore.

Consequently, most of the 200 asanas currently practiced are innovations done by Yogis in Europe and the USA, particularly in Denmark, Sweden, and England in the last century.

Based on these facts, does the US lobby Hindu American Foundation (HAF) have any claims to accusing the western yoga circles of “intellectual property theft”?

If even the yoga concept cannot be attributed to India as the origin source of inspiration, how can you properly document the idea of yoga that is over 5000 years old?

Note 1: You may read “Yoga Body. The origins of modern posture practice” by Mark Singleton (2010)

Note 2:  This post is a concise translation of an article by Meera Nanda, published in Courrier International #1067.




May 2011

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