Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Road To Happiness

He said, "When I was single it used to take me 15 minutes to drive from work back home. When I got married it started taking me 20 minutes. With my first child it started taking me 25 minutes, and when I had the second it started taking me 30. Just to show you that when your family gets bigger you start becoming more responsible. I didn't want to drive too fast. I didn't want to die!"

I said, "It takes me 15 minutes from work back home. I'm sure if I get married now it will start taking me 10 minutes, and if I get a kid it will start taking me 5 minutes..."

I guess people react differently to events occuring in their life.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Up-To-The-Minute Commercial-free Sawsan Tuffaha-Like News Coverage From Hareega

** A small fire broke in the Queen Alia Airport yesterday. The fire was controlled quickly. The folks at Royal Jordanian received this news with excitement. They're planning on making this an excuse for delays of their next 700 flights.

** The movie "The Dark Knight" opened with a huge success. It tells the story of a joker who robs money then tricks people into killing each other causing chaos around him. The movie will be released on DVD in this winter under a different title, "The biography of George W. Bush".
** Iraq was banned from participating in the Olympic Games in China this year. The seven Iraqi athletes who were expected to participate expressed their disappointment.
Those seven are not the best athletes in the country. They're just the only seven Iraqis left who were not blown out, lost a limb or fled outside the country.

The stock market in Beijing took a large hit last week, especially after announcing that "the Iraqis" will not be coming to town.

* An Egyptian construction worker in Amman died after falling from a building under construction. His body will be sent to Prince Hamzah Hospital. The Egyptian Embassy in Amman was furious. They sent a letter to the prime minister stating, "We know you're responsible for his death and we're totally OK with it, but to send his body to that hospital is something you'll be held accountable for".

* The Turkish soap opera star "Muhannad" is visiting Jordan these days. That follows a visit by Barack Obama last week. If someone has to visit Amman these days he's got to be very popular, very charismatic and very sexy, or anything that's the exact opposite of Yasser Arafat.

* Brazilian football star Ronaldinho told reporters that he was "reborn" after joining AC Milan this season. It looks like vigorous-ass-kissing until-the-ass-turns-red is the only way to maintain the original red color of the Milan shirts these days.

* A 37-year old Jordanian lady was pronounced dead in a hospital in Ramtha. The husband made all the cumbersome funeral arrangements before being told of the news that she was actually still alive. To pay for their mistake and save the expenses of the funeral the hospital offered to go back and kill the lady; the husband only has to do is start a rumor that she was sleeping with the janitor.

* Two medical helicopter crashed in Arizona last month. No medical helicopter showed up to carry the injured to any hospital.

* The son of Muammar al-Qaddafi was arrested in Switzerland after beating two of his servants. His pregnant wife was also arrested with him. Apparently someone told her she should always be above her husband and under the law but when she was under the influence she got those mixed up.
* It appears that Iran's influence in the region is increasing. Top US official had talks with the Iranians last week. Countries in the region are becoming nicer to the Iranians. Jordan is no exception. In fact, HM Queen Rania is working on a new youtube video praising the freedom of women in Iran.

* After receiving several complaints, Dubai decided to segregate its public beach into an area for single men and another area for women and families.
This is expected to increase the number of people going to the beach. Today more than 10 thousand people were observed flocking to the men's beach, and these only were the members of the International Gay Association.

They also hired a new Jordanian guy at the entrance of the women/family beach. Among all the applicants for the job he was the guy best able pronounce "kubblez bleez".
* There is a concern in Jordan about the large numbers of Armenians who have immigrated outside Jordan in the past few decades. Some of the reasons quoted is that their businesses were not running too well.
However with the large number of Jordanians having to sell their jewelry, this immigration is expected to slow down.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Why Was Chahine A Special Person?

I have seen only 5 or 6 of Yousef Chahine's movies, but I can clearly say he was a special person in the Arab and Egyptian cinema for several reasons:

1- He made some Egyptian movies that were not boring.

2- With very few other Egyptian directors and actors, he made a name for Egypt in international cinema. The french president sent a letter of condolence for his death.

3- He was fearless. He was threatened by many Islamic movements in the early 1990s and you can tell how brutal they were but that made him more determined to make more movies. He wasn't a supporter of his government either. Such combo of enemies could have destroyed his career but it obviously did not.

4- He was 82 and still making movies.

I can't say a lot about him since I'm not a big fan of Egyptian movies, but maybe I'll go back and watch some of his good ones like Al-Ard in 1969 and Askenderiyyah Laih in 1978. In conclusion, I can say that people like him give hope that Arab haves some brilliant men and women among them who are willing to work despite all obstacles and till they breathe their last breath.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Goodbye Randy Pausch

A university professor was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was given 6 months to live. He decided to give his "last lecture" talking about his childhood dreams, asking people, "what wisdom would you try to impart to the world if you knew it was your last chance?".

That's a damn good question that most people don't get to ask themselves.

Here are some highlights from his famous one-hour lecture:

Here's the whole lecture, phenomenal ....

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Story of the Masannats

If you happen to be one of those 500-or-so people whose last name is Masannat, you probably already know the story of one of our great grandfathers.

Although the Masannats are historically from Kerak or Madaba, the story of where they very originally came from remained unkown for some reason. The history of the family in Jordan dates back to about 100 years ago and doesn't go back any further even when you read those large books written by Rox Al-Ozaizi.

The man in the picture above is one of the famous grandfathers of the family. His named was Jules Massenet, he was one of the Masannats living in little village by Saint-Étienne, France. He became a very very popular Opera singer and wrote an opera comique (play) called Manon that is still popular to our day and is being played in different theaters in Europe. He was born and raised and eventually died in France. He had three brothers (Michel, François, Armand) and one sister (Josette) who got married to a Turkish military man, Fekret Emre, who was a very prominent member in the Ottoman's army. Because of their different religion she had to leave France and immigrate to Turkey. Three of her brothers immigrated with her but the 4th one (Jules-the Opera singer) refused to leave because he didn't want his career in France to be ruined. When Jules died in 1912 he left half of his fortune to his Josette but the French government confiscated that money because it was given to a woman who married a Muslim.

Fekret was very wealthy and was able to take care of the whole Massenet family even when he was relocated to Damascus to control the demonstrations there. However he was later executed after a prominent Turkish leader falsely accused him of treason.

Widowed Josette lost her mind and committed suicide (or so they say). The three brothers had to move far away from Damascus and Turkey. They were already fluent in Arabic and they mastered the Bedouin accent so when two of them moved to Madaba in the early 20th century they were accepted in the Ozazait tribe. The third (Francois-nicknamed Atallah!) moved to Kerak instead after a dispute with his brothers about the family's finances. He was not very welcomed by the Kerak ribes but when he joined Sharif Hussein Bin Ali in the revolution against the Ottomans he was regarded with respect. He got married and had 11 kids.

At this time the Masannats identify themselves as Jordanians and nothing else. There is no connection between our family here and those of Jule's descent (if he had any) who might have been living now in Saint-Étienne or elsewhere, and his name is not even mentioned among our family in Jordan. Most of the Masannats have the light-colored skin and colored eyes but they only identify themselves as Jordanians- they even changed the English spelling of their last name.

It's really exciting to learn more about the origins of your family and its history even though there may be some dark periods of it. It's part of the heritage and there shouldn't be anything to be ashamed of.


(for everyone who read this and believed it, I'm sorry but I was bullshitting you. Except for who Jules Massenet was, everything and everyone mentioned above is fake. The Masannats have originated from the Arabian Penninsula since the creation of humanity, and we're all bedouins. Having colored eyes automatically excludes you as a member of our family. However, this sotry is somewhat believable and I have used it more than once in the US since it can open a good conversation. Although I've never been to an Opera before but I think that any Masannat can have get good seats with such story)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Why Did He Shoot Himself?

The shooting in Amman where six people were injured in a musical was a crime of despair. The shooter was an 18-year old, resident of Al Baq'a refugee camp. There are not a lot of details about this guy yet, but apparently he comes from a poor family and I would be really surprised if he ever left Jordan. In that case he wouldn't have received training in some Al-Qaeda camp or had connections with any terrorist organization. And he's 18. A boy, not that people this age can't be criminals but this was probably a crime he planned for himself.

To me it sounded like this guy wanted to commit suicide, but killing yourself is generally a shameful act in our country, and it's really bad to die in shame. How many proverbs and poems are out there in our culture with emphasis that death is not awful and is even encouraged if you die in dignity. People want to be looked upon as a heroes when they die. This teenager is not looked upon now as a hero, but he wouldn't have realized that. He's 18! Dying with dignity is too complex of a concept for him to understand. But there are factors for it: there's the Jordan Festival that some people made it look like an Israeli festival attended by zionists, they're playing music which is considered evil where the audience engage themselves in sin, add to that poverty and ignorance and guns and you've got an 18-year old shooting at people. What's interesting is that islamically the way he killed himself which is pure suicide-just shooting yourself with a gun, grants him an automatic one-way ticket to hell (correct me if I'm wrong).

Well, maybe he realzied that too but just didn't care.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Best Crime in History

I really feel guilty for saying this, but this crime was awesome, and I hope the criminal is still alive!
Anyway, if you haven't heard of D.B. Cooper, read this and you'll understand.

The story of this crime goes back to 1971. A man stepped in at the ticket counter in the Portland airport and paid 20 dollars to buy a airline ticket from Portland to Seattle. Passengers then didn't have to show an ID, so he went with the name Dan Cooper. After takeoff, he handled a note to a flight attendant saying that he was hijacking the plane. He demanded 200,000 dollars and..... four parachutes, or else he was going to blow out the plane.

The FBI worked quickly and were able to collect the 200,000 dollars in cash, and labelled the $20-dollar bills with serial numbers. They also bought the 4 parachutes from a local store in Seattle. As Cooper ordered, the plane landed in Seattle and the money and the 4 parachutes were delivered to him. He was also kind enough to request food for the crew. When he got what he needed he released all passengers and kept the crew on the plane.

Up to this point, nobody knew why he needed the 4 parachutes.

The plane refueled then took off again from Seattle toward Reno, Nevada. Right after takeoff, he asked the entire crew to gather around the cockpit, closed the first-class curtains, then went to the back of the plane. An attendant noticed that he was tying something like a rope around his waist.

The crew then noticed a sudden change in air pressure, they looked back and noticed that Cooper had lowered the stairs at the end of the plane and jumped with the briefcase and money, leaving the remaining parachutes on the plane. Left behind was his tie. He was never seen again since then.

The plane later landed safely in Nevada. An extensive search lasting months and involving hundreds of US Army troops took place looking for Cooper in the place where he could have landed. Nobody and nothing was found. It was thought that he might have died during the jump, but neither his body or his bag or parachutes were found.

In 1980 a boy found about 5000 dollars in a river close to where Cooper was thought to have landed. They were in 20-dollar bills and they all matched the serial numbers of the money handled to Cooper 9 years earlier. The rest of the money was never found to date.

About 1000 men have claimed to be Cooper, and the FBI almost believed some of them. After the discovery of DNA testing, the FBI was able to get Cooper's DNA from the tie he left on the plane before jumping and compared it with all these men's DNA. None matched.
This case remains a cold case after 37 years, and will probably stay this way. Six months ago the FBI released never-before-seen sketches and fact sheets of the crime to trigger memories of people who might have known Cooper.

This man hijacked the plane only to get money and not to harm people. Although I do not encourage hijacking planes (never ever ever ever) but I can't help it but feel impressed by the events surrounding this crime.

I feel that everything in the past was done with style, and crime is no exception.

And D.B. Cooper, wherever you might be, don't fly Southwest ... you can never survive their flights even with the four parachutes.

Some of the money recovered in 1980
Here's a clip of a news bulletin following the hijacking:

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Best Most Sincere Original Jordanian and Efranji News Around the Clock from Hareega

- A large fight broke in Tafilah Tech University, resulting in mild injuries to its president and several other students.
Jordanians are in a state of shock. They never knew there was a tech university in Tafileh.

- By the way, the president of the Tafileh University is from Salt. The university is well-known to be the only place on earth where nobody is allowed to say even one joke.

- A doctor in the Islamic Hospital in Amman was attacked by a visitor. The CIA released a statement today stating the visitor was acting in self-defence.

- A prostitute in Kentucky was arrested after she was trading sex for free gas. She appeared to be very frustrated explaining how she had to trade sex for oil because the Russian prostitutes were stealing all the good Dubai jobs from the American prostitutes.

To the majority of the good people living in Kentucky, this woman is considered to be the filthiest thing associated with Kentucky since KFC.

- Barack Obama will meet with HM King Abdullah later this month in Amman. Jordanian officials have read a script of the speech Obama will have on this occasion and asked his staff to delete the statement that said, "If it wasn't for his father, George Bush would have never become the president of the United States" from the speech.

- Many mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus were detected in the US. As a result of this President Bush have ordered his troops in Iraq to better control all mosquitos flying around the Nile River.

- Syria and Lebanon decided to open embassies in each others' countries for the first time in history. There is still no word on the date when they will open or the method by which they will be bombed.

- Jordanian PM Nader Al-Dhahabi left to Paris to represent Jordan in the Mediterranean Union summit.
Meanwhile, The Parliament has demanded an immediate release of all Al-Dhahabi's geography scores in high school.

- Ammon News mentioned today that a man in Karak has lost 21 million dollars in business deals. It doesn't mention details of how this Karaki man lost his money but it is feared it had something to do with Al-Salt Document released earlier this year that limits the number of "manasef" served in any occasion to only ten.

- Despite the political unrest in Iran, the Jordanian Football Association is still planning to send the football team to participate in the Western Asian Games in Tehran next month.
In fact, most Jordanians are hoping for Iran to be bombed while the team is still there.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Jordanians and Condoms

Our government is taking the first step in distributing one and half million free condoms to Jordanians. Although I understand most people would have preferred a free tank of gas, I still think this is a great idea. (For detials click here. English here).

To start with, the government has been taking serious steps in birth control for many years. This was a 2-way process, first the government wanted less people because they figured out that's better for the country, and people started realizing they cannot have six or seven kids anymore. They can barely raise one kid a decent life.

Not too long ago a Jordanian woman had to bring 10 kids to life for just 2 or 3 of them to survive. My father had at least 5 siblings who died in their infancy from pneumonia or plague. As health care in Jordan improved and vaccinations became available the life expectancy of Jordanians had significantly improved (in your face vaccines-are-dangerous freakish mothers). Jordan now has the best life expectancy in the entire Arab world, also ahead of countries like Denmark, Ireland and the United States, according to the CIA's 2008 World Factbook.

So, when a Jordanian is born, he's likely to live too long, way too long. If you think there are too many people in Jordan now just imagine how it will look like in a few decades. There will be quite a lot of old people, much more than now. Meanwhile the prices are super-high and regardless of who's responsible for that, it doesn't look like it will get better anytime soon. Even if it did, it won't be like the good old days when middle-class families were able to raise a few kids and put them in college and even go on vacations in neighboring countries. That's over and sadly I think it's over for good. We have to be realistic. There's no coming back from this. We'll reach a stage when having 3 siblings means you have a big family. Unfortunately I think this is necessary, and with more wars going on in the region and Palestinians then Iraqis then God knows who else will flee to Jordan the country cannot take it anymore.

Some like to live in denial so they hate any move by the government to control the number of kids they want to have. Someone has to wake these people up. Men have to realize that their ego of being served and loved (although not always) by many kids when they get old doesn't serve his family's or his country's best interests. It also exhausts his wife(-ves). He has to put on that piece of latex or at least stop beating his wife if she refused to experience another 9-month journey with another miserably-poor child to be.

Look at the misfortunes that Jordan and other Arabs went through in history and you'll realize that having not having too many people was never the reason behind any of them. We never lost a war with Israel because there weren't enough Arabs. Having more people wouldn't have prevented corruption or poverty or thefts or wars between neighboring countries. In fact it would have intensified such problems. For those who believe Jews are controlling the world, the number of Jews is estimated to be only 15 million worldwide. There are more Egyptians living in Cairo.

Jordan has changed and we have to understand this and make others understand it before we get overwhelmed with the number of humans we have came up with. Having very large numbers of people who look like us doesn't mean anything if these large numbers can be dominated by others who were raised in more luxurious societies and received all what a child needs for a decent life. Maybe we had an Einstein living among us but he didn't have a chance to excel or even ask a question in class packed with 50 other students, or his father pulled him out of school to beg on the streets so each of his 7 brothers can get to have one meal a day.
I think it's time every Jordanian should consider birth control for his own sake and for the sake of others.

Monday, July 07, 2008

We Should Get To Know This Man A Little More

Today marks the 36th anniversary of the death of King Talal, who ruled the country for approximately one year. In a country where only 4 kings ruled for more than 60 years, I think we should get to learn more about him.

A very good reason he's not mentioned too often is the fact that he didn't rule Jordan for more than eleven months, until he was removed the Parliament. Yes, believe it or not we had a Jordanian Parliament in 1952 that was able to end the reign of the king, although to be realistic it wasn't solely their own decision.

But what makes his rule very remarkable is that he came up with the most important foundation of any country: the constitution. Another shocker: in 1952 the Jordanian constitution was more progressive and used to guarantee more civil rights than it does today.

Why was King Talal removed? According to Time Magazine on its August 16, 1952 edition, it was schizophrenia. Although I tend to believe in some conspiracy theories and sometimes make some of my own, I tend to doubt that he was removed because he was just "too nice" or "too friendly". He was probably mentally ill. He was sent to Switzerland for treatment and died there 20 years after he was deposed. Some people claimed that he imprisoned against his will.

I'm still surprised how can a mentally unstable person come up with a constitution? Does it say in other words that you have to be mentally unstable to write a progressive constitution for a Middle Eastern or Arab country?

Ten Facts I Find Very Interesting

1- Yasser Arafat did an interview with Playboy magazine in 1988.

2- Ralph Nader, who ran for US president several times and running this time as well, is originally Lebanese and is fluent in Arabic.

3- The Gipsy Kings is a French band.

4- Paula Abdul is a Syrian Jew. Bob Dylan is a Turkish Jew in origin. Singer Layla Murad is an Egyptian Jew. David Letterman is not Jewish!

5- Jordan ranks 5th in the world among countries exporting phosphorus rocks.

6- A football game between El Salvador and Honduras in 1969 triggered a 5-day war between both countries. It was called the football war (although there were other factors predisposing to this war).

7- What's common between a Pakstani president (Zia al-Haqq), A UN Secretary-General (Hammerskjold), the Philippines president (Magsaysay) ? They all died in plane crashes.

8- There were 4 plane crashes invovling Royal Jordanian. In 1965 in Damascus, 1973 in Nigeria, 1975 Morocco, 1979 in Qatar. Nothing since 1979 and hopefully it will stay this way!

9- Remember the SARS virus infection 4 years ago? The Italian scientist who first discovered the virus died from a SARS infection.

10 - The grandson of former Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nassir (from his daughter) is the founder of Melody music channel.

If you need a reference for any of the above, I'll be happy to provide it.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Summary of the Survey Results

Some of you may wonder why am I doing a questionnaire every year with almost the same questions.
Over the past 3 years I have always made changes in this blog based on the answers and comments I get. I wouldn't ask a question if your answers wouldn't be taken seriously. For example I have cut down on sport material (unless a big competition is going on) and watched my language a bit more because of your advice. However this year I haven't asked you to comment on the design of the blog because honestly I can't do any better at least for a while.

Thanks a lot for all 60 people who took it,

You can still take the survey if you haven't, click here.

Quick Results:

- 64% of members are females.

- 36% were between age groups 23-27. About 10% are older than 34.

- About 50% live in Jordan. 22% in the US/Canada, 10% in the gulf or other Arab countries, and the remaining in other parts of the world.

- The topics readers enjoy the most are personal stories (90%) and social issues (77%), and less political opinions (60%)

And what they hate the most is again, sports 60%

About 96% think that posting news with personal comments is at least a good idea.

And 90% say the same about my lists of favorite things.

85% placed the blog among the best 20% of Jordanian blogs.

- 60% think this blog got better the last year, 34% think it's about the same, and 6% say it's got worse.

- 36% think the blog is great, and 55% think it's very good. 8% think it's OK.

- 88% think I treat the readers respectfully. 7% think I'm either rude, biased or a hypocrite.

- 85% said I should blog in both Arabic and English. 13% said I should only blog in English.

Here are some comments left by some readers,

- Happy Anniversary Hareega! One thing I liked more about your blog earlier is its previous name, Reega Reega Hareega was funnier:)

- Some posts ideas that I would like to know your experience about or your perspective: ايام زمان في عمّان Your favorite Arabic songs/singers/actors... more about life in Arizona: the heat, cost of living, types of people to expect, Arab presence.. Overall, your blogging is very enjoyable. good luck.

- first reeGa reeGa hareeGa ya hreeGa .. lol .. you have a very Good blog .. and it is one of my favourite blogs of all times .. talent and dry sense of humor makes this blog worth-reading .. keep up the good work

- Nice blog, better than many useless blogs around. I always think if you wanna blog, make it useful! (a good laugh is useful also!)

- ما زلت لا أعرف كيف يمكنك أن تجد الوقت لكتابة موضوع أو أكثر في نفس اليوم أو على مدى يومين مع أنك طبيب ما هو السر؟ كتاباتك مسلية و مضحكة.... لكن كما قلت لك من قبل، ليتك تقلل من الأشياء التي يمكن أن تعتبر... غير مؤدبة :) آسف لكنك طلبت آراءنا... على العموم أنا أعشق مدونتك...

- You're not in touch with your feminine part. your blog lacks emotion. OK I admit the first sentence was a joke. But to be honest, your views are some what grey, and even though you're very respectful, I can't see you taking a firm stand.

- Biggest complaint: I fall into your oldest age category. Please pretend you have some over 50 and over 60 readers just to make me feel better. Even when I don't agree, I love reading your opinion, and it does influence mine and makes me think :) Please go get married! With the added synergy, hyper-joy, and encouragement you will find, it will make your blog #1.

-would u quit the swearing!

- I remember doing this 1 year ago or so.. Keep posts coming.

- Please blog only in English! I love your blog but it takes me forever to read the Arabic ones so I often miss out on them!

- You blog is a nice breeze of air among all the other blogs. Other blogs are generally a waste of time or a big load of talk and meaningless and useless arguments while yours always vary. you go from entertainment to informative posts to funny posts to nostalgic posts. sometimes you talk about things that are happening in Jordan or get happy when something happens in Jordan or is related to Jordanian sports. I wish you the best and it's obvious that you're getting better by the day in blogging.

- Awlan, Meet Wardeh Thanian, I'm so much impressed that you have the time to do it. God bless you, we need a story of how to tie the knot !!

-Your blog is addicting! Wondering if you add Heroin or Cocaine to it :-) Keep it up! I will keep on reading your blog for another 20 years -If God wills-

And some other comments

thank you again for your time, I really appreciate you visiting this blog