Adonis Diaries

Archive for July 2011

I am celebrating my final departure: I am experiencing death while alive!

Ha Sun is 62 of age and wishes to feel what happens when he is inserted in a coffin. Why wait for death? Let me experience death while I am still alive and kicking.

Ha Sun wore the traditional “death yellow garment”, lay down in the coffin, felt at peace.  He had invited friends and relatives to celebrate his burying procedure.  The lid of the gasket was shut: The eternal dark is closing in.  Ha Sun said: “I was very relieved that this ceremony was a fake one. There is a single line to crossing between life and death, but this line is terrifying”

Ha Sun was one of 70 participants willing to practice “Dying in good style”, organized by a local association in the Capital Seaoul in South Korea.  The sessions include writing farewell letters such as: “Get along among one another. Stop ego trips…”

Suicide rate has increased dramatically in Korea since the financial fiasco in 1997, and it is among the highest among the developed States.  Suicide is the number one cause of death in South Korea. Do you think such an experience is helpful when the time comes to cross the terrible line? Is this opportunity a good method for assessing life and healthy condition more seriously?

One female participant said after easing her way out of the closed gasket: “I will communicate much better with my husband and daughters.  No more hoarding of futile possessions.”

There are designers interested in clothing the dead persons: That is an excellent business venture.  The cloth is designed to correspond to the departed characters and personality, and not what the religion demand for the cloth to look like.  The design uses appropriate clothing materials that withstand deterioration…More importantly, how about designing for the terminally ill persons?

Indeed, “How about designing cloths for the terminally ill individuals”, who refuses to die stoically like the wretched animals, who consider their terminal illness period as an opportunity to getting engaged polically and socially. 

The dress code will be an open invitation to communicate with the terminally ill: “Hey, I am dying.  You will die too.  My disease is not contagious. You will also die of one of those many non-contagious diseases anytime soon.  Would you like to know “How I feel”?  How I am coping with the last days of my life among the living?  Don’t be afraid of the dying taboo:  See, I am literally diagnozed as dead, but I am alive and kicking.  I have something to communicate to you, and you need to know something while you are still upbeat and thinking that you are healthy and immune to decrepitude…”

Wearing code dresses of the terminally ill persons is not meant for the benefit of encouraging the healthy people to engage conversation with the dying people, but rather to give the terminally ill a grip on their conditions.  Countless dying persons have said on their deathbed:

“I am pretty sure I know nothing of life and the universe. How time fled so fast! I never imagined that I have been so ignorant and helpless in matters that count most.  I never took time to reflect on my condition and the living species conditions.  Never felt that I should be engaged socially and politically to easing the plights of mankind.  A few serious engagements in issues that count in human rights, dignity to living adequately, and taking seriously the UN indicators of human development would have given me a sense of departing at peace, of having done my share…”

Note: This article was inspired by two pieces in the Lebanese daily Al Nahar

Shantytown gone: And Movie pictures stay. 

Where is this Mafrouza shantytown in Egypt?

Shantytown Mafrouza, in Alexandria (Egypt), by the Greco-Roman necropolis, is now long gone.

Luckily, between 1999 and 2003, Emmanuelle Demoris spent two years filming the shantytown and the daily living of these poor families.  The movie director Jean Gruault decided to produce the long 5 movies, two hours and a half long each!

Initially, the project of Emmanuelle Demoris was to capture the relationship between the living and the dead, and stumbled of the shantytown Mafrouza: How practical and handy for the subject.

Like the current reality TV series, the inhabitants in Mafrouza got used to the filming every day.  “She is filming you girl.  Is that why you are turning your back?” would say a woman.

The five long movies showed the inundations, wedding ceremonies, separations, baking of daily bread under the rain, amorous dates, daily routine of a shop, tentative of taking over a mosque by Moslem fundamentalists, resistance, births,…

Non-entity people, brothers and sisters, who learned to conquer their fears facing the monsters of video equipment that were taking pictures of the real living conditions…

Typical Mafrouza people:  Current events of “Arab Spring” revolts have uncovered these typical Mafrouza people, many who were filmed and no longer exist, vanished from the reality of the living, “gone with the wind”, still existing in movies they have never taken seriously, another dimension to their daily living…

Note 1: Mafrouza in the Arabic language means a Real Estate that is subdivided. The inhabitants of Mafrouza must have known that their shantytown is going to be demolished by the oligarchy in order to build luxury hotels with view to the sea.

Note 2: This article was inspired by a piece published in the French weekly Le Nouvel Obsevateur and written by critic Pascal Merigau

Cut Out the Crap: Who Killed Rafiq Hariri?

In March 2005, I wrote in my diary my assessment of the potential assassins (States behind the killing) of Rafiq Hariri, and published it in September 2008 under the title “Cut Out the Crap: Who Killed Rafiq Hariri?”  It is a reasonable idea to re-edit this article, as the International Court for Lebanon has issued the individual names of the first batch of suspects.

During the Roman Empire, the legal system targeted “who had vested and vital interest in the elimination of a rival” and not just the hand that executed the order.  If we are serious in investigating the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, we must cut-out the crap and analyze the potential various political and group interests behind the decision, planning, financing, and execution of the assassination. I wrote: 

“If anyone is still waiting for the results of any kind of investigation into the assassination of Hariri, I suggest that he build himself a shack in Downtown Beirut and wait there for at least twenty years.

If anyone did not get it, that more than two great States, with veto power in the UN, are behind this assassination he better stocks up on Lebanese flags hoping to sell them for another big demonstration with the slogan of “We need the truth. Who killed our martyr Rafiq?” 

If anyone is still wondering why a thousand kilograms of TNT explosives are needed to assassinate Hariri, or who can stockpile that amount of explosives, then may be he sincerely wishes that Syria should be behind the assassination. 

If anyone is still interested on the mechanisms of this murder by a moving truck, or in a secret underground tunnel, or a suicide bomber, or the detonation technique used or any kind of these stupid details, then he sure will hear a lot of that crap…

Let me ask you, why Yasser Arafat, the symbol of the Palestinian resistance to Zionism, had to be assassinated, in the meanest possible alternatives, by slow poisoning?  Why even the meanest British government allowed Napoleon Bonaparte to dictate his memoirs before dying his slow death with arsenic poisoning?  Maybe if Arafat was serious about writing his “memoirs”, Sharon would have extended his life:  Wonderful juicy stories about rotten Arab dictators and absolute monarchs…

Why Hariri had to be done with in pomp and in grandeur that left dozen killed, a hundred injured and part of Beirut destroyed? 

Are the powerful assassins sending an honorable farewell to the overbearing friend, the worthy enemy, the great dealer, and the leader who was much bigger than his tiny country?  Apparently the Western Powers have set up a coding style system for eliminating leaders whose time had come and are becoming huge liabilities to the changing political climate. 

I would conjecture that the great powers decided on that murdering style because of the number of times the unfortunate bugger Rafiq Hariri was invited officially to visit their leaders, the frequency of public friendship expressions, the many services they mutually profited, and perhaps the quality and number of citizenships he accumulated, and less probably because of the number of honorable degrees which were bestowed on him by universities.   

Hariri died on Valentine day.  What was his wife Nazek doing in Paris on that day?  Was she expecting Rafiq to join her in Paris or was she to return that evening to Beirut, or was she held in Paris on purpose so that she might not be a member of the deadly motorcade?  Why Hariri was so happy in the morning of his death?  Did he receive the good news from Chirac that Syria will be withdrawing its troops for sure and much sooner than expected, but failed to warn him that his hours were counted in order to efficiently execute that decision?

Jacque Chirac, a President of a proud country, stayed more than six hours with the Hariri’s family to mourn such a great friend of his.  Was Chriac so guilt ridden or had he to shift attention to the real culprit somewhere else?  How come France was so chummy with Israel, immediately after the assassination of Hariri, as if missing an old friend and could not stop chatting and cuddling with Israel for a long period afterward?

How come the US Administration, that didn’t care about Lebanon at this period, has been moving its behind in and out of Lebanon, and shaking them much more than it did during its Iraq invasion? How come the US Administration has been admonishing Israel to stop its public affirmations of the US agreement on its policies  in the Middle East?  

I stated in a previous article that the USA and Israel were the sole culprits and I provided the rationales. I stand a little corrected.  The 1559 UN resolution that was sponsored by the USA and France was the tip of the iceberg of the package deal between these two States, and among the little secret agreements between them was to contract out Israel to eliminate Hariri with utmost prejudice within specific constraints on when and how. 

Israel was overjoyed that the opportunity finally came to erase her enemy number one, off her black list. Hariri not only attempted several times to undermine Israel plans in Lebanon and in the region, but he succeeded hands down in all his political counter offensives against Israel and was still capable of doing Israel great political damages. 

Chirac was relieved from an overbearing friend who kept reminding him of what were the right things to do toward Lebanon.  Chirac knew better that “doing the right things” is not necessarily the right political decisions at this crucial time of his political career.  Chirac was paying dearly from his prestige and France political positions by opposing the persistent pressures from the European Union and the USA to list Hezbollah as one of the terrorist organizations. 

Unperturbed, Hariri kept showing at the Elysee’s door and taking photos with Chirac that said “My dearest friend Chirac” as Sadat used to say to Kissinger, the USA Secretary of State during Nixon, “My dear friend Henry”.

The USA and France had already agreed on plans for the Greater Middle East and time was of the essence.  These plans could not succeed, for certain and on time, with Hariri still alive and active. France, for now, is winning big: it managed to reaffirm her protectorate rights over Syria and Lebanon like during the colonial times, secured her oil rights in Iraq and removed the American veto to selling military hardware to China. 

Israel managed to put the squeeze on Hezbollah and to diligently attempt again to circumvent the rights for the Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland with secret deals with, hopefully, the enfeebled new Lebanese governments after the election.  The USA is succeeding in destabilizing Syria and weakening any resolve that Syria might still have to counter the plans in the Greater Middle East.

Hariri had done what was expected from him politically, and his worth was much greater as a martyr:  Lebanon will disengage from Syria as an enemy, and not as a natural economic and social necessity.  Lebanon will continue to remain a weak sectarian Non-State, as was its lot since the colonial status and after its independence, by the agreement of all the regional Arabic States.

The price for Hariri’s life was not certainly worth any stupid friendship that reached the stage of no return on investment, but was becoming a real liability in prestige for Chirac’s France geopolitical interests, the Saudi monarchy, and the plans for a stable Greater Middle East, happy to coexist with Israel while securing the flow of oil at cheap prices. 

A practically tarnished and weakening President, Emil Lahoud quickly agreed to an international investigating team without discussing the details of its composition or duration. The wolves in the world community are going to manhandled Lebanon through special investigating teams, a series of additional international resolutions in order to freely investigate whom they already condemned and sidetrack the facts, the deeds, and the witnesses of the real culprits.

Lebanon will be welcoming an international team of investigators, about 60 of them and for 6 months, automatically renewed for another 6 months and another 6 months until the sectarian blocks and militias in Lebanon organize and ready their forces for another round of internal bloodshed.  

Citizens, what sort of political and economic stability do you expect for Lebanon in the coming year?  Another wave of immigration is already taking place and no noble slogans can undo this trend.  Another political instability will set in for years to come, leaving the economic reforms untouched and as irrelevant to the stability of the country.

Syria offered the cynical wolves the perfect excuse by publicly antagonizing itself with Hariri and forcing an extension to Lahoud’s term; the Syrian ruling personalities and State newspapers sounded like enraged fools having personal animosity with the one who actually bought the highest members in the Syrian government and had extensive business deals with ruling power in Syria at the expense of the Lebanese people. 

Syria was continuously harasses and threatened by the USA and France in order to commit these unforgivable political blunders. It is a masterful coup at the expense of the damned and impotent people of Lebanon.

Note 1: There are lately links to the extremist Moslem Salafists; well, they do follow higher orders too, although implicitly in executing the dirty States decisions.

Note 2: If Nazek Hariri, second wife of Rafiq, is serious about knowing the truth, it is her responsibility to confront the fast becoming senile Chirac.  Nazek has to ask Chirac: “Who killed Rafiq?” Chirac knows exactly who killed Rafiq.

Burial ground facilities: Not conducive to praying and remembering

In a previous article I described my experience attending the burial ceremony.  The part concerning my essay is: “We attended mass and listened to a speech by one of the priests on the qualities of the deceased person.  Twenty minutes later, we walked behind the limousine to the Greek Orthodox grave yard, half a mile away.

Grave yards in Christian towns in Lebanon have been transformed into enclosed corridor with boxes on both sides of the walls, large enough to insert the gasket.  Every family purchase a burying box for these eventualities.

The corridor of the grave location was dark: The boxes were painted black with a white cross on.  I just watched from the outside.  I have no idea of the process of disposing of the gasket or the body later on.  Most probably, the gasket is retrieved and the bones are collected when another member of family dies in order to making room.

Where the bones are dumped?

Most probably in an open public waste dump, as every thing else:  Frequently, town people ignite open waste site,  andthe  fumes suffocate the neighborhoods because the successive governments in this non-State country have more important things to worry about.

Males and women receive condolensces in separate houses.

We returned to the women-house to present our condolence to the bereaved women.”

In my hometown, every large family, constituted of several branches, have their own church, and the “tribe” does its best to collect enough money to build a “salon” for receiving condolences instead of particular homes.

Several large families might agree on a unique “grave corridor” to insert the gaskets:  Every family purchase a cell for burying the members of their family.

It is very depressing attending these kinds of ceremonies.

I am suggesting that every town constructs an open air graveyard, just for the ceremony, sort of nice green park.  The body is buried for just a week in a fancy marble grave, before being transferred to the cell in the dark corridor.  Thus, the graveyard park will not be studded with hundreds of graves, just a couple of fancy graves for short durations.

This open air graveyard should look like a community green park, plenty of trimmed trees, flowers plants, amenities for the crowd…

The bereaved family members accept condolence in the park,.Mass should be performed in the park, and followed by the burial process; all in the same location, instead of getting on the move from here to there, from a house, to a salon, to church, to the community grave, back to the salon…

The graveyard park committee should purchase a few varieties of fancy and luxury gaskets (according to gender and age of the departed) to be rented to families. Thus, townspeople will be

1. saving money and effort for selecting and purchasing gaskets,

2. the family of the departed that cannot afford a fancy gasket will have the opportunity of supporting the expenses of maintaining the open park and using a luxury gasket like the rich families…

3. Once a year, or on any occasion for separate families, the members can meet in the park and spend a good day, a cheerful gathering, remembering the positive attributes of the departed…

In winter season, a large transparent tent can be installed during the season for the ceremony.

This suggestion would save plenty of redundant expenses to townspeople, strengthen the community spirit, and extend a climate of respect to the departed member.  I don’t have to feel suffocating in these gloomy enclosed locations and suffering the non-ending processes and processions.

Most importantly, this luxury park would be an ideal location to remembering the departed and become an ideal location to welcoming frequent visits to praying and sharing with close families, around a meal, a mass,…

It is to be noted that the most ancient towns discovered in archeology, built castles on hills, were actual graveyard. These town castles reserved fro burrying the inhabitants were later transformed to host clerics, temples, and constantly praying congregation…

How rare are dangerous events? How dangerous are “rare” species? Unless extinct…

Dozens of living species, animals and plants, go extinct every day.  The number is many folds higher, since we don’t know all that exist in species.  And mankind has no clear idea of their importance to our survival and to earth sustainability.

In the last two centuries, mankind was the direct cause and main catalyst for the extinction of all kinds of species.  Hundreds of “savaged” tribes have vanished as samples of how mankind survived in various environment.  This rate of extinction has increased drastically in the last five decades, and the international community is helpless regulating the savage mass production of the multinational companies and financial institutions.  Texaco alone is responsible for the extinction of two human tribes in the Equatorial Forest, due to excessive and unsafe operations in the oil extraction processes, polluting the region and water sources and rendering the survival domain of the tribe extinct. (read link on note #1)

Let us face it: Over 50% of mankind is now living in urban setting.  If urban people are denied zoos or affordable access to zoos, how many do you think have seen even a live chicken? Most probably, in most urban cities in the “third world”, there are no zoos, and people catch rats for their daily consumption, the fatter the happier.

Are you aware of expensive rare dirt minerals?  They are called dirt because they are not excavated underground:  You scratch the surface of earth and you pour highly toxic acid to clean out the other non-precious minerals.  Vast zones of open lands are polluted and dead for generations, along with water sources, on the surface and under.  China has the monopoly of extracting and exporting those expensive eight rare elements found in dirt.

Are rare events and species always dangerous phenomenon, before and after they are extinct?  For example, why should an urban dweller care about a black swan, if he never saw a living duck or a goose?

There is a complete theory on the eventual occurrence of dangerous rare events in man-made complex systems; it is called the Black Swan theory, because a black swan was identified to exist a few years ago.  Anyway, do you expect a black swan to behave differently than white swan? We tend not to see but a color variation in animals:  Unlike other animal species, mankind see behavioral differences in human of different color complexion.

The designers of man-made systems know the consequences of the inevitable dangerous rare events in the functioning of the system.  For example, nuclear power plants, automated fast trains and airplanes, military highly dangerous complex systems of activation… Actually, the economic-safety trade-off studies are rarely made public and are mostly not transparent for serious examination.

Once built, the man-made systems are rarely assigned an independent team of specialists to follow-up on the frequency of near-accidents and near misses of calamities.  Only serious errors of dysfunctions are reported to a government agency in developed States.

These dangerous systems are funded by governments and ultimately turned over to private investors.  Once a catastrophe strikes, it is the State and people tax money that cover the expenses of damages done to health and safety of operators and users.

Do you know that the sole purpose of the UN atomic agency is to encourage building nuclear power plants?  Do you know that the UN health and safety organization is prohibited of collecting statistics on nuclear accidents and their health consequences?  It is as if the atomic agency has the monopoly for disseminating misinformation, ill-health, death, and disasters.

Almost every day, there are at least a near-accident in nuclear power plants, and governments love not to receive official reports on these accidents, especially the veto-power States in the UN security council.

We are to expect different kinds of rare events in a couple of decades.  For example, youth in Japan will be rarer than old people.  Many will jump to the conclusion: “Great, Japan is the ideal vacation destination.  It must be the safest location: I am sure that I can outrun an elder person holding a blade to my face…”  We are missing the fact that Japan is polluted with nuclear radiation for years to come.

Until the current UN atomic agency is disbanded and a new charter created for an agency corresponding to world community health and safety standards, I am not visiting Japan and its surrounding States such as China, Korea, the Philippines, Viet Nam… I am not visiting Ukraine and Belarus.  I am not visiting France and the USA.  I need accurate, credible, and naive data on the far-reaching consequences of the nuclear meltdowns.

The State of Lebanon is the source of bizarre and rare dangerous man-made institutions.  Unfold a world map and look for arrows pointing to a location: It is probably Lebanon. A dot smaller than New Jersey State, a suburb of New York City. This spot is the densest location for world most fantastic show case carnival of extravagant rarities.

Lebanon was recognized a State in the first UN session in San Francisco in 1946.  Since then, Lebanon wallowed in this amazing rarity of staying a Non-State:  Lebanon is de facto administered by 18 recognized theocratic sub-States.

If you visit Lebanon, you discover that for every 6 young girls there is a young male: The remaining young males have immigrated to greener pastures…

Funny, I saw a black Mercedes with three-digit numbers plate, (reserved for Deputies in the Parliament), and the plate has the code of the Balance, the pictogram for Judge.   I saw a clerics driving this car.  Civil judges drive cars with four-digit plates:  Are religious judges in religious court, assessed as higher in status or power than civil judges?

More on this bizarre “State” of Lebanon in follow-up articles.

Note 1:

How do you understand “Secular States” to mean?  

 Note: This is an edited version of an article I published in 2009.  This essay applies to all States, western, orient, animists, pagans, monotheists, secular, semi-secular, democratic, theocratic and other political systems…

Charles Malek, a philosopher and Lebanon’s representative to the United Nations in its earliest 1946 sessions in San Francisco, proclaimed in the sixties that Lebanon cannot survive as a State, unless all Lebanese convert to Christianity! Lately, the Moslem Sunni fundamentalists proclaimed in 2006 that the State of Lebanon should be governed Caliphate-style.  The Moslem Shiaas of Hezbollah want to establish the rule of the “Wilayat al Fakeeh”, an Ayatollah who would lead by holding both the spiritual and political powers.

Fact is, Lebanon political structure is multi-theocratic, though the Constitution, (which has never been applied), never mentioned religion to be the sources for generating laws or running and administrating our civil status.

For example, the Christians during the civil war wanted to establish Christian cantons, exclusively for the right-wing Christian Lebanese, since they over ran the Palestinian Christian camps in their “enclaves” and evacuated the lucky surviving Palestinians from the massacres outside the Christian cantons.

Do Christians in the Levant (Near East States) have ground to be worried?  Islam means by “Jihad” the right to proselytize Islam everywhere and all the time.  As if the western nations have not been carrying their own brand of “Jihad” since Medieval Age to any place they wanted to colonize.

The Christians in the Levant have grounds to be apprehensive: the Christian sects have refrained from converting Moslems because conservative Islam sects demand as “halal” the shedding of blood for the “blasphemous” re-converted Moslems.

The Moslem Sunni salafists in north Lebanon, twice fought the Lebanese army within two years; hundreds of soldiers died and were handicapped for life. The Qaeda of Osama Bin Laden has the same political objective with a twist; the Qaeda wants to establish the restrictive and ultra conservative Wahhabi sect as the essence of selecting Caliphates.  The Wahhabi sect is the one adopted by the obscurantist Saudi Arabia theocratic monarchy.

In 1925, the Sunni Ali Abel Razzak wrote in his book “Islam and origin of governance” that “Islam is innocent of what the conservative Islam understands of the Caliphate.  The Caliphate was never in the religious planning, and neither were the religious judges nor any of the civil administrations in the government.  The Prophet Muhammad didn’t recognize them or order them or denied them.  The political and civil administrative issues were left to the Moslems to decide upon them.  Thus, it is proper that we engage our mind and consider the experience of nations, and the rules of politics that are the best around for our Nation.”

In Iran, Ayatollah Borojardy was detained because he wanted to separate States civil politics from religion, thus, resisting the “Fakeeh” concept of government.  In Lebanon, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasr Allah, publicly harangued the Shiaa to considering “Wilayat al Fakeeh” as the official political system of his party.

Knowing that Nasr Allah speaks as a clergy in every religious ceremony, blending religion with politics with resistance to the Zionist Apartheid State, could we ever hope that the politics of Hezbollah are just short-term tactics to uniting the Shiaa against Israel?

The State of Israel would like you to believe that a mythical leader they named Moses had a revelation by a superior being named Yahweh to conquer land by the sword and genocides:  Land that was “promised” to the horde of tribes following him.  Thus, Israel would like to establish a Jewish theocratic State in Palestine.

It has been categorically proven that the Old Bible was initiated in the second century before Christ in Alexandria, and chapters were added many centuries later, and it was re-edited several times. Hebrew, as most Arabic verbal slangs bordering Syria, was a verbal slang of the Aramaic written language:  A written version was created in Alexandria as Jews flocked to Egypt around 300 BC.

If you are nowadays following Lebanon’s politics and the preparations for the election in June 7,  you might have the impression that it is the political leaders of the religious sects who are manipulating the sacerdotal castes of our 18 officially recognized religious sects.  

Don’t be fooled; ask any Lebanese and he will tell you that he is forced constitutionally to pay his first allegiance to his sect.  In fact, the sects were given the legal and official right to administer the civil status of its co-religionists from birth to death and the central government is totally helpless in interfering; even if any serious government  wishes to change the political system, it would never want problems to blow in its face…

My question to the western States’ citizens is: Do you believe that the separation of State and religion is implicitly a de facto reality?  Do you believe that religious clerics and institutions have desisted from meddling in State affairs? That during voting periods, the religious sacerdotal castes do not impress on the political climate?

Do you believe that there is no religious backlash on religious minorities? Isn’t religion recognized in your constitutions and in the prayers of your national ceremonies?  Are not the civil administrative posts implicitly submitted to a quota system?

I am sincerely worried about the practices of those hypocritical Secular States who force its minorities to submit to the various litmus tests, on the ground of applying civil laws and regulations. Personally, my position is that religious doctrines and stories are a bunch of hog wash nonsense of myths and abstract concepts that even “zero IQ quotient ” individuals refuse the premises.

The religious sacerdotal castes would like you to substitute “your belief in a Creator” from watching the cosmos and the mysteries of life, into total faith in their particular ideological constructs and set of values.  I feel limited in finding a resolution where check and balance can be erected to cope with the all permeating power of the sacerdotal castes in every States around the world. 

Constitutional laws need to be thought out to restrict the implicit power of the thousand tentacles that religions have instituted to infuse their ideologies in schools and civil administration of people’s daily life. One of the best and most efficient methods is to encourage the establishment of opportunities to exercising choices in every aspect in our lives from birth, decentralized schooling systems, marriages, legal divorce alternatives, and burial at each of the legislative, legal, and executive branches.

Only available opportunities for choices, backed by political determination to honor those choices in the workforce, in the daily living, and in society structure, can permit a fighting chance for all those free minded and reflective citizens and families who respect their potential power for deciding what is best for their spiritual development.

The best that “secular” Western States could do was restrict separation of State with religion to public servants, and refrain from explicitly relating religious political pressures in political campaigns.  Other than that, religions and particularly the religion of the majority, are definitely the most influential power-brokers, alongside the financial multinationals.

Syria and Lebanon: Links between the twin people

I am reading a study on the economical relationshing between Lebanon and Syria, (the second official study since 1996!), a study financed by the UN program for development.  Do you believe that the two border States exchange goods and financial products not exceeding 4% of their combined GNP?  Is that logical, natural, and normal?

Lebanon shares land borders with only Syria, (Israel being the enemy in the south), though Syria shares land borders with Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan.  Syria’s business people opened accounts for only $1.3 billion in Lebanese banks, while most of savings are placed in foreign banks in Europe and the USA. 

Lebanon’s economy is supporting 670,000 Syrian workers (representing 10% of the entire workforce) who generated $1.7 billion in 2010.  Actually, in my neighborhood, only the Syrian working in construction have cash money:  They are maintaining the small grocery shops by buying cigarettes, bread, egg, tomatoes…

The total tourism activities between the two States was only 800,000 citizens, out of a total of 25 million people for the joint society (over 21 million Syrian versus 4 million in Lebanon).  Syrian tourists spent $280 million compared to $290 million for Lebanese tourists in Syria.

The yearly official export from Lebanon to Syria is about $220 million and import from Syria is $240 million.  The effective amount is many folds these numbers, mainly daily exchange of goods and contraband products on the norther border (Akkar region) and eastern borders (The Bekaa Valley).  62% of all import products from Syria are exempt of entrance fees, while no major counterpart are expected from Syria! 

Syrian private investments in Lebanon far exceed Lebanon investment in Syria.  In the last four years, 6 Lebanese banks opened branches in Syria and already hold 20% of the total assests of Syria private banks. 

Last year, I tried to exchange a small amount of Syrian currency and could not locate a single bank or exchange office to do the transaction:  I saw surprised looks of disbelief.

Lebanon schooling system, especially universities, welcomed over 18,000 Syrian students.  Apparently, the student exchange is minimal from the Lebanese side.

First, a brief geo-political summary of the context.  Throughout history, Lebanon was divided into two main regions: 

The mountainous region called Mount Lebanon (see link in note), sparsely populated and a refuge for the various religious monks and sufis who opted for these high mountains to seek seclusion in caves …Pilgrims would venture, stay to serve the secluded clerics until they got a handle of what they wanted from life and leave…

The coastal and the Bekaa Valley were part of administrative regions linked to Syria or Palestine.  Actually, Syria was divided into Inland Syria and coastal Syria, including coastal Lebanon.  Thus, Lebanese were known as Syrians or Turks on their passports during the Ottoman Empire.

I have worked with a few Lebanese companies, abroad and in Lebanon, and my impressions are negative.  “What is clever entrepreneur my ass” is my honest opinion of how I perceive the mentality of doing business in our Lebanese culture.

In 1980, I worked with a Lebanese company in Nigeria; the company contracted out public civil works like opening highways and the disforesting and spreading asphalt on major roads.  I was supposed to be assisting the plant manager for maintaining and repairing heavy-duty equipments. 

The engineers were to wear high brown boots, the kinds that fascist wore, for discrimination reasons; and the boots have to be shining, in this mud riddled camp, shined by an African helper.  Engineers were not supposed to socialize with workers and mechanics, even if they were Lebanese.

Consequently, going out with mechanics was frowned at, and management would sanction me and tell me that workers would refrain from respecting me and obeying my orders….  I was not even permitted to teach the “mechanics specialists” the contents of the repair and maintenance manuals originating from the manufacturer:  Only the engineers and plant manager were to be the knowledgeable persons in the camp.

You had these mechanics who sincerely wanted to learn how to do their job right; they wanted to buy the proper tools and how they work, once they open their own shops back home. Mechanics wanted knowledge and I translated to them from English in inaccurate Arabic terms, but they knew what I was conveying in knowledge.  Management hated what I was doing and scorned me.

For example, one night, robbers killed four Nigerian guards in our camp.  I never received any information whether management visited the bereaved families in the small village or if they paid compensation.  I was glad that I was repatriated shortly after this gruesome attack.

In Lebanon, I worked on a civil project constructing a hotel.  There were no safety guidelines at the workplace.  The Indonesian and Indian workers slept in the large open basement, and nobody was in charge of checking on the habitat or their well-being.  The workers favorite pass-time was catching rats to fry them as delicacy.

A UN report stated that Chinese minorities in South-East Asia, white people in South Africa, and Lebanese in western Africa benefited most from the wealth generated by globalization and open markets in developing countries, particularly in tandem with multinational companies.  

The African leaders who opted to cajole the ethnic majority ended up harassing, robbing, and pressuring Lebanese entrepreneurs out of the country, like in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

For example, the Lebanese in Ivory Coast are in big trouble.  It rumored that President Gbagbo, who hates to step down, even if his country goes in flame, (as is the case of Qadhafi of Libya and Abdullah Saleh in Yemen), favors the Lebanese entrepreneurs.  Nothing wrong with that, unless… There are strong rumors, supported by evidence, that Israel is rekindling the wrath against the Lebanese in Ivory Coast and Africa in general.  This is normal:  The Zionist apartheid State has this habit of transferring people and filling the void… 

Lebanese entrepreneurs, in Lebanon proper, produce to export.  The Lebanese citizens never enjoyed any quality products manufactured or produced in Lebanon:  They are all exported and merchants import third grade products, change the labels, and poison our citizens.  Good fresh fruits are immediately exported in waiting six and eight-wheelers to Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Jordan…The citizens have to contend with the spoiled and smaller categories of fruits…

Lebanon produced four times its need of olive oil:  They are all exported and the citizens have to consume the third grade leftover olive oil and imported poisoned olive oil…And you have this minister of industry encouraging the citizens to buy Lebanese manufactured products; where are those products?

Lebanon has a couple of pharmaceutical “factories”, producing asperine… For a couple of months, the citizens enjoyed low-cost asperine-type of products.  Asperine vanished from local market:  The entire stocks were exported to Saudi Arabia and the Lebanese had to contend with expensive imported asperine that are no different than what we produced.

Syria manufactures 70% of its pharmaceutical needs and it is the government that import the expensive medicines at bargain prices.  The Lebanese have no governments:  They have to deal with the multitude of infamy and indignities on their own. Who is the clever Lebanese Entrepreneur?  Clever my ass!

Lebanon is still standing because the immigrants are sending money to their families back home.  The immigrants who made it, have this habit of build fancy palaces in Lebanon, which stay empty, and return to where they are making money.  Barely they overstay longer than two weeks:  The picocks have more important things to do with their lives. 

The Christian immigrants never contemplate to return and stay in Lebanon:  They didn’t study and abuse of their families’ money in order to returning the favors in their parent’s old age.  Let bygone be bygone.  From far away, they never miss an opportunity to cursing Lebanon and the Lebanese stupid mentality.

We have this youth movement demanding to change the political sectarian and feudal system.  What we need is a strong central government to crack down on these rascals of Lebanese entrepreneurs at home:  The scums of entrepreneurs are the backbone of our degraded political and social structure and the one encouraging discrimination and medieval mentalities.  What can you do if our political stucture is designed not to have a State?

You might say that it is the bourgeoisie that changed old systems:  Correct.   Are you insinuating that our entrepreneurs have anything to do with reforming Lebanon or caring one iota about Lebanon and its people?  Changes are badly needed, it is urgent for our survival as citizens, who only benefited from a lousy passport and Lebanese currencies, bound to this lousy dollars, which is covered by nothing of value!

I may write a more detailed follow up article on the twin people, Lebanese and Syrians.

Note:  Further information on Mount Lebanon

Reply to the epic story of “Gilgamesh, King of Uruk”

You may refer to the link “Gilgamesh, King of Uruk” in note 1.

My comments on the replies are inserted between parenthesis.

There is this comment: “Lovely article, so many myths we subscribe to, all in an effort to provide humankind with some sort of moral guidance”

Other comments go as follow:

One: This sounds like an interesting book but you should really make it clearer that this is a novel, loosely based on the Epic of Gilgamesh, not the ancient story itself. You seem to be basing your historical analysis on the inventions of Mielke, rather than on the original text. (True, it is a story.  Do you know many who would read an epic story if not written in a novel form, describing emotions and feelings?  Homer and the later epic storytellers realized what it takes to get famous and well read.  Many religions are based on epic stories, and the religious celebrations are elaborated theaters, chanting, and dancing. )

Two:  The earliest versions of the epic date to around 4000 years ago – not 7000.  (4000 years before BC or 6000 years
since then? Still, the oldest so far, and by many millennial).

Three: The story about the bird, infant, and gardener is a later myth. There is nothing in the original story about the incident with the soldiers, the conversation with the temple girl, although in the epic there is a temple prostitute, the origin of the Sumerians who are widely credited by historians as being the most advanced ancient civilization, good people going to The Island of the Eternals after death: In Gilgamesh humans cannot escape death and all go to the underworld, or Gilgamesh seeking meditative detachment.

Four: There is no description of building activity in the epic, no mention of mercenaries, and Gilgamesh does not kill his friend Enkidu or “Ankido”.

Fifth:  There are definitely echoes of the Epic of Gilgamesh in Homer, and some stories in the book of Genesis, such as the flood myth and the story of Adam and Eve, seem to be based around earlier versions found in the epic of Gilgamesh.

Six: Dating the Tanakh (or the “Old Testament”) to 200 BCE is unjustified. It is likely to have achieved something very close to its final form during the period of the Babylonian exile or the subsequent Persian period (600 to 300 BCE). Older literary strata within the Tanakh may date back to around the tenth century BCE.  (These comments are part of the religious myths.  Hebrew was a verbal language, a slang of Aramaic, as the various “Arab” verbal languages, particular to large tribes.  Hebrew was transformed into a written language as Jews settled in Egypt, three centuries BC).

Seven:  I would also disagree that all of these stories and myths share the same perspective. For example, the tale of the civilization of primitive Enkidu by Shamhat in the epic of Gilgamesh is turned into a story about sin and loss in Genesis. This makes sense if we remember that Israel was conquered and taken into captivity by the civilization described in the epic. The historical situation of exile may also explain why the flood is sent in Genesis to punish wickedness and “violence”, whereas in the older Mesopotamian myth it is because the noise of their human slaves disturbs the peace of the gods. I would submit that a situation of oppression and forced exile had a major influence on the final shape and message of the Tanakh.  Such a situation and perhaps even the messages of hope and condemnation that arose from it are not irrelevant to the situation of the region today. (Lovely you made the connections of the reasons for differences in Epic stories:  There are particular interests in writing epic stories, and not necessarily regurgitating standard community behaviors of all times)

At the start of the Arabic/Islamic Empire, as the Capital was relocated to Damascus (Syria), the “Arabs” or more accurately the inhabitants of Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine (the current Levant or Near-East States) translated the Greek manuscripts before venturing on writing and disseminating their own culture and civilization.  If it were not for Syria, and the “Arabs”, the Greek culture would have vanished into oblivion.

I am wondering, why the western civilization insist on considering the Greek culture or civilization as the original source for their civilization?  The Greek plagiarized the antecedent cultures and civilizations (Aramaic and Persian), and refused to even translate the manuscripts of former militarily dominated civilizations.  The Greek Empire lasted for over seven centuries, and this Empire failed to translate anything!


Are you a hacker? A “Do-It-Yourself”? You are rightly politically motivated

Who really hold the power in our new world?  The tool or the master?  The creator of the numerical tool or the “sophisticated” tool as it goes into production?  Does the designer or team of designers of the numerical complex tools possess the means of production in order to be held liable for dangerous consequences in health and safety?

Why do you think hackers and talented “Do-It-Yourself” people are heroes to the youth generation?  Why most talented people would like to try their hands on hacking stupid systems and break down systems and machines in order to rebuilding them according to their desires?

The new generation realized that their behavior and opinions are being controlled, channeled, and diverted in other directions that do not match their wants and desires.  In this world of numerical systems, programs are running your daily behavior.  You have program designed by amoral designers, and funded by big money, big government, big financial institutions, and multinational companies…to alter healthy tendencies for greater alternatives in choices, freedom of expressions, of redesigning what cannot deliver according to their own standards and wishes…

We want to rebel against these insensitive machines, but don’t have the appropriate “open sources”, and the requisite skills and transparencies for the real purposes of the ultimate designers, of machine programing our life and how we perceive the universe. We want to rebel against these enclosed areas in airports, train stations, government facilities…where you are trapped for the duration, once you are admitted in the designated areas…

An occasional user of subways might be mauled by powerful automatically closing door, or the toddler refusing to hurry up…  Is it the mistake of the machine?  Who designed and programmed the door to close at such strength and for the timing?  Does the conductor has the means to control the doors…? Who wants to make more profit by shortening the duration of the door “open-close”?

John Maeda claimed that no one can claim to be “grand master of Photoshop”, unless he knows how to tamper with the program and redesign it according to his desires and wants. You are as good a master as you advanced in knowing the capabilities and limitations of the Photoshop program

How could we let go of steam, if the interlocutor is but a programmed robot, even a human programmed to memorize particular questions and answers, adapted to many business cases and job requirements?

You have employees, someplace around the world, trained to handle specific queries, but have no idea about your idiosyncrasies, your life-style, your culture, you country, your particular problem…and they tell you: “We are doing our best to resolve your problem…”.  But this “remote employee” has no supervisor who knows any better of your problem to consult… The entire scheme is not to resolving your problems, but to preempt the problem from reaching the “authorized” responsible…

For example, you have the case of official standard picture to be affixed on all kinds of IDs:  No smiling, mouth closed, eyes riveted to the camera…The saddest and most fidgeted picture you can get:  The standard picture is meant for the biometric program to recognize you (not any human) and to efficiently detecting “who you are”

Do we need a Paradigm Shift for Political and Human Development? (see link in note 1)

So far, the development of mankind was focused on using Man in order to create machines, and lately, thinking machines, and then self-autonomous machines.  I have the feeling that, for about a decade ago, we have reached the crest of the curve that permits machines to better our lives.  Life has stopped to improve based on the previous paradigm; even our generation is a stranger to the fast paced automated machine world, of a mostly virtual world.

We need a political paradigm shift that re-uses the invented machines to creating responsible mankind; a Man who is in total control of machines and thinking machines.  It is not humanly acceptable to allowing fast trains to be navigated automatically without human operators; though they were successfully implemented.  Airplanes could also be navigated autonomously; and I am pretty sure, for a drastic price cut, customers would valiantly board them.

All these automation are designed to save expenses for training responsible operators, like paying them adequate wages, under the false guise of reducing errors and accidents. We know that most of these inventions were financed by the military for acquiring supreme power and not for the betterment of mankind. We are no longer better off, and the environment is screaming, howling, battering our seashores, burning continents and burying whole cities.

The goal of this paradigm shift in politics is to reintegrate Man in the work cycle, create jobs for responsible people to control, monitor and design machines for the purpose of reinserting man in the life cycle, in the design cycle and in the development cycle. The old concept of effective rate on return, of increase in production with minimal financial cost, is decimating the availability of jobs opportunities and creating two distinct worlds:  a virtual so-called developed Northern Hemisphere and the real Southern Hemisphere, which is still struggling to be in touch with itself, its neighbors, nature and its surroundings.

This paradigm shift in political organization is a natural extension to the fact of the existence of two distinct Worlds:  One world is trying to recreate the wheel in social and political organization, supported by complex democratic systems, which are quickly reverting to the old oligarchic system on the whim of National Security pre-requisites; the other world is trying helplessly to ward off imported political systems that it cannot comprehend or is unable to implement.

This political paradigm shift is to revert the consequence of a world controlled by the very few and the rest relegated as walking zombies, disgruntled by their monotonous and under-valued jobs, jobs that can be snatched away anytime, relocated anyplace, for cheaper work force.  The rest of us lost any respect for “a job well done”:  Deep inside us, we are certain that these jobs can easily be replaced by machines no matter how educated we are.  The rest of us feel too stupid, dumb, and worthless throughout a lifetime, and yet are asked to be responsible citizens abiding by inhuman laws dictating untenable order.  The rest of us who have no self-respect to raise a responsible new generation, just scratching a living, and losing touch with life essence of dignity and compassion.

We are in a world controlled by a very few, not on their intrinsic merit, but on their cowardice and willingness to selling their soul for the benefit of the capitalists or the power to be.  It is no longer the struggle between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, but the battle of regaining dignity in the human spirit:  A wretched mankind is the source of all discrimination festering at a lighting speed in all communities; a wretched mankind devoid of control over their destiny.

There can be no bright future for man if control over his life is removed as a viable alternative.  Developing a responsible and compassionate man means providing jobs that are respected, valued, remunerated commensurate to his investment in energy and time for acquiring knowledge and expertise, and quality time reserved to him as his due.  Mankind has to stop being viewed as a commodity as anything else in the exploitation process.

There was a time when mankind could claim: “It is always too early to rely completely on our Creator”; now even adolescents believe in fate.  That is the ravage of desperation in human spirit and lack of correct direction.

Note 1:

Note 2:  The first part of this article was inspired by a piece written by Jean-Noel Lafargue “Hostile Machines” in the French monthly “Le Monde Diplomatique” #688

Note 3: The Northern Hemisphere has created self-administered bureaucratic institutions,  political organizations for constituents who don’t comprehend the mechanism and processes, who do not care to understand, and barely participate in elections.  The European Union has written a voluminous Constitution that nobody cared to read and even if they cared could not finish reading it on time for the referendum dates; no wonder that it failed in fracas.

All the media coverage of the European Constitution, translation in different languages and the frantic support by the Presidents could not transfer its contents to the constituents who are already wary of these brusque movements that are not taking account of the human limitations and emotional saturation for the quick political pace being forced upon them.

The Southern Hemisphere had political organizations that constituents understood, could control, monitor and did fully participate in electing their local and national leaders but have been pressured relentlessly to comply with political systems that they are not ready to assimilate.




July 2011

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