Wednesday, October 31, 2007

To dance with you

I will not dance to this song
I will not dance with you
I will not dance for you
Your lyrics are bullets of death
preying on the breath
of my kids, and your hymn
is not mine
I will not dance to your shrine
your conscience is hard to define
your cruelty, sublime

When we're six feet under
people will remember
who danced to the trumpets
celebrating the Iraqi Auschwitz
and who stood with defiance
in respect
of the sound of silence
of people which
you've erased, you son of a bitch
their souls in heavens will wander
and your soul, no wonder,
will forever rot with you
six feet under

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Blogs I read

For someone who's extremely technologically-challenged like me, it took me an absurdly long time to create the Link list to the left side of my blog.

Why did I do so? Because I knew every one of them had, at least on several occasions, talked about something worth talking about and realized that it wouldn't be a waste of time if you checked them out.

Here's a random list of blogs I read.

1- Kuzzin, that is my cousin Iyas. He's older than me in blogging and in reality. His humor is a reflection of a pissed-off state, and he is a lot smarter than what he appears to be. If he wasn't living in Utah I'd think he was drunk while writing every single post of his.

2- Laundry (Pick-ups), that is malaget ghassel. The Internet version of Sharihan, she is very active and creative. Comes up with interesting ideas and interacts wonderfully with all of her readers.

3- Empty Speech, "Haki Fadi" , one thing for sure when you're reading her blog: it's not haki fadi. Casual, open-minded, and welcoming, occasionally tackling serious issues. I sometimes wonder if she's Makadi Nahhas in disguise, her voice is great!

4- The Future Scorsese, that is Jordanian film director Amin Matalqa. Other than him being from Madaba, there are several reasons to like this guy. He is almost done directing the first Jordanian movie in a few decades. He talks about his career with great passion that can make you interested in reading even if you didn't give a shit about movies. He might be better than our national football team in putting Jordan on the world map.

5- Kinzi. An American Jordanian who knows Jordan better than a lot of Jordanians. One thing for sure is that she knows what she's talking about. She talks about women in her environment, about God, about her children and she does care about people with her big heart.
She also knows Arabic pretty well although when she writes it down it's as funny as hell :)

6- Red Shoes. That's Roba's "And Far Away". Arguably the most readable Jordanian blog. A lady who loves life, Amman and family, pretty much like 5% of the Jordanian population. Young but mature, daring but polite, and a geek but has a great taste. Don't insult her red shoes, it's family.

7- Gowaider, that's Qwaider and his planet. It appears that this guy has double the time anyone of us has. He's a hard worker but he writes almost daily and talks about everything and frequently he hits the nail with his entries. He allows people to write in his blog and that's cool.

8- Al Koza7iyyeh al Sawdaa2, that is the Arabic translation of the Black Iris of Nasim Tarawneh. Analytical, knowledgable, fair and cares about his country. Takes people seriously, and so he does with blogging. It's amazing how he's able to come up with interesting subjects to talk about. In the rare occasion when he doesn't, he leaves a poem for Hafiz.

9- Mokh, that is Khalidah's MIND. Her blog is rich, and she discusses the social life in Jordan on different levels. Will wait for her to return to write.

10- Loves Amman, that is Firas' "I heart Amman". Politically incorrect but sharp, doesn't hesitate to say what runs in his mind. You definitely don't have to read between the lines to read him. I would like to see him blog more.

11- Beace, that is Salam's Reflections. A good observer and a brilliant writer when she has time to write.

12- Dandara in the head, that is Natasha Twal Tynes, probably the most professional among all Jordanian bloggers who write in English. Mental Mayhem talks about freedom of the press, women's rights, and Virginia. The discussions that take place in her blog are the best in sphere.

13- Observes stuff, that is Fadi, the Observer. A very liberal blogger who might get physically hurt if he takes his opinions to the street. He has made a small nice world for himself and he easily takes you to it with his emotional writings.

14- Batir Wardam, another professional writer who doesn't usually go with the stream. He gets heavy criticism for a lot of his opinions but that only keeps him writing more and more. Very passionate about his opinions and often very convincing.

15- Sabbah, a blogger who dedicates his time to his people, and a constant reminder that Palestinians are victims. I wish we had more of him.

16- Jordan, I will be back. A very Jordanian blog. Tackles issues related to Jordanians and their lives. Has not blogged in a while though!

17- Hussein, who-sane, proved me and a few others wrong, when the story of the awful treatment his sick father received in a Jordanian hospital got to the press and resulted in sacking of an important official. I was starting to feel that blogging in Jordan was totally useless until this happened. His entries prior to that were also very interesting. He had also met Diego Maradona!

18- Tarmaweel, Lina's Turmoil. She takes you to different spots not only in Jordan but also in other areas of the world. She understands the cultural aspects of a city like Amman more than anyone else. She's vivid in her descriptions and the photos she posts are precious.

19- Tinker, recently added, a blogger who lives in the US and posts interesting stuff.

20- Lubna, her posts can be a very interesting read, especially the long ones!

Finally, I don't have one favorite blogger, and I don't think I ever will. It's like comparing apples and oranges and watermelons. I find in Jordanian blogs a lot of things that I don't find in Jordanian press: Honesty, political incorrectness and grammatical mistakes.
Overall, I think we have a wonderful bunch of blogs. Keeb it ub, Jordan.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ministry of Health: A little too late

The German company (Boehringer Ingelheim) that manifactures the drug Silomat® , a cough syrup, decided to withdraw the drug from the market because it predisposes to a potentially fatal side-effect called long QT syndrome, which can cause a cardiac arrest and subsequently, death.

Here's a link to their website with the announcement:

Our ministry of health, in turn, decided yesterday to withdraw the drug from the market, because they care for our lives.

The only problem, is that it happened eight weeks late. The warning about long QT syndrome came out on August 31st and we responded eight weeks after that.

Imagine a drug that had to be taken off the shelves of European pharamacies being sold for 2 months in our country without anyone in our ministry interferring to do anything about it.

I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they were too busy closing up shawerma places to notice the news that pharamcy students around the world were aware of.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Tough Times

I went inside the room of my patient to talk to him. I saw he was awake but he was covering his head with the blanket.

"Good morning Mr. Garcia"

He kept his head covered with the blanket and pretended he couldn't hear me.

"Good morning Mr. Garcia" I said again.

Now he started snoring, pretending he was asleep.

My patient, Mr. Garcia, was not a 5-year old kid. He is 72. What he was doing was a defence mechanism that many sick people have when they get sick, it's called regression.

A lot of people, even the smart intellectual ones, do the same when they become sick. They start behaving like kids, or regressing.

I am no exception.

Towards the end of my medical school, I underwent a surgery for which I stayed for 4 days in the hospital. I was a pain in the ass. All nurses and doctors hated me. I kept asking for certain kinds of food they didn't have. I screamed and moaned and was a total bitch to everyone including my roommate who was an old man a hundred times sicker than me.

A story that I'll never forget was that of Zahra, 25-year old girl from the West Bank who was being treated in King Hussein Cancer Center. She had a rare cancer that was really eating her bones and flesh. Her mother came with her in her trip to Amman and was staying with her all the time. One day I was called because the young lady was refusing to take her medications.

I went to talk to her mother, a relatively old lady who you can tell from the look on her face that she's been through a lot.

She told me, "Zahra is not taking her medications, and she is angry at me"

"Why is she angry"

"She wants Manakeesh bi Za3tar , where can I find these manakeesh?? I looked in the cafeteria they don't have them. I went up the Jordan University Hospital cafeteria and didn't find any. Ma fee manakeesh!"

It was 10 pm. I went and talked to Zahra who was crying a lot. I was trying to talk her into taking the pills, but Zahra wasn't talking at all. She was crying and crying and it was clear that it wasn't all about the manakeesh, but perhaps her devastation about her illness. Her helplessness and feelings of defeat were transformed into rage on her beloved mother, and she started behaving like a little kid who won't do anything unless she eats these manakeesh.

I took her pills from the nurse and gave it to her, and to my surprise she did take them. A week later she developed a nasty infection in her blood and was transferred to the ICU. Her cancer was fairly advanced and the infection was untreatable. She died the next day and her mother returned alone to the West Bank.

Between Zahra's ocean of tears and Garcia's acting in the bed, I realized that the little child in you is the real thing. He's the one who cries for you, the one who screams the hysterical laughs out of your mouth, the one who senses the dangers and the one who lives with you all the way.
He's with you because he is you.

Avec Saddam

This is an interesting video from the eraly 1980s showing a group of French Parliament members including Nicolas Sarkozy (with the black tie) in Iraq meeting with Saddam Hussein!

And here's the famous clip of Saddam and Rumsfeld

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Say a "K", Say a "Y", Say an "R", Say a "G",Say a "Y", Say a "z", Say an "S", Say a "T", Say an "A", Say an "N"

And what do you get?

Our first step to South Africa 2010
Good Luck Shabaaaab
Update: we lost 2-0. We have to win 3-0 on 10/28 to qualify!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Match summary

Date: Last Saturday
Place: Alfonso's house.
Occasion: The football match between Paraguay and Peru.
People watching the game in the house: Nine Paraguayans and one Jordanian.
Temper before the game : Everyone is angry, very angry.
Reason for being angry: unknown.
Youngest person in the house: Alfnonso, 25 years old.
Oldest: His grandmother, sixty-something
Every other word used during the game: puta
Player cursed the most: Cabañas from Paraguay for missing three golden chances
Person who cussed the most: the grandmother
Person cussed the most: Hareega for being a known Argentinian fan.
Referee of the game: some Brazilian, also referred to as a "un puto grande brasilieno" 23 times
Cuss words learned during the game: none, only puta was used.
End result: 0-0
but felt like: Paraguay lost 10-0
People blamed for not winning: Paraguay's 11 players, the coach, the assistant coach, the president of Paraguay, the ex-president of Paraguay and Hareega for bringing in the evil spirit of Argentina to the house.
Number of times Hareega mentioned he's not Argentinian just a supporter of the team: 9
Number of people who believed him: zero
Paraguay's next match: tomorrow
Paraguayans who want to see Hareega during the game: zero
Paraguayans who want to see Hareega ever: zero
The population of Paraguay: six million
The population of Jordan: six million
Most popular sport in Paraguay: football
Most popular sport in Jordan: football
Average IQ (according to Richard Lynn) of Paraguayans: 85
Average IQ of Jordanians: 87
Average IQ of Paraguayans during a football game: zero
Average IQ of Jordanians during a football game: zero.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Marrying a Green Card

"Faris, I might have to spend the next week in your place, is that OK?"

"The whole week! Why?"

"My wife is visiting from Detroit and she's gonna stay the whole week in the house"

Meet my Jordanian friend "Hasaballah". A smart young guy who got a college degree in accounting, has a good job, but a few years back decided to become an American citizen. Hasaballah got married to this lady who has a lot of psychiatric problems. She spends most of the year in Detroit but visits him very occasionally and when she does, she gets paranoid and sometime threatens to kill him.

She once pulled a gun at him in the middle of a fight, and Hasaballah had to run semi-naked in the streets.
I was horrifed at the story, not because Hasaballah almost got killed but because some people in town had to see him semi-naked in the streets.

I used to think it was only an Arab thing to get married to an American to become a ctitizen, until a Latino friend of mince told me about "the marriage plans" he saw in Miami.

He told me that if he married a Mexican lady, he would have to pay her about 8000 dollars total to accept and he'd eventually get the citizinship through her, but if it was a Cuban woman it would cost him about 15,000 dollars because Cuban women would get the citizinship and give it to their husbands much faster. He even encouraged me to get married to one.

I know quite a few Arabs here. Many of them got married to American women for the purpose of becoming citizens. Not a single one of them is happy. They think it's easy and straight forward thing, they sometimes have agreements with the woman to pay her monthly until they get the green card, but a zillion problems arise after they sign the marriage papers. I can go on and on with the unthinkable obstacles they went through that got some of them almost deported or even jailed.

It's not worth it.

Flying Without Wings

Even if you've never read any medical journal, I invite you to read this medical article, at least its title, published in the British Medical Journal, a very prestigeous medical journal.

I still can't believe this was published. Sheehan would have turned this down!

The authors were investigating if any trials were done to see if parachutes really did save lives of people jumping from very high altitudes! They didn't find any and they recommended doing trials to prove that.
Published in their December 20th, 2003 issue , Volume 327(7429).

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Searching for a testicle

Today I had a craving for testicles. The "baid ghanam" or goat testicles that are extremely delicious and sold everywhere in Jordan. I haven't had them in more than three years and I decided to start searching.
I went to Albertson's and saw the guy at the meat section. I wasn't sure if it was appropriate to ask about goat's testicles for sale. I decided to ask if they had beef's testicles because that sounds more "manly".

"Hello there"
"Good morning sir, how can I help you?"
"Um, do you sell beef testicles?"
"Beef testicles ?"
"Is it for Halloween?"
My face turned red, and I started sweating like crazy. "No, it's to eat"
"Um I don't think so sir, I didn't know there are people who eat this stuff"

I pretended to be innocent, "my friend had them in Mexico and he told me they tasted good, never mind, bye!"

I decided to go to a different store (Walmart). They had a huge meat selection.
The person selling meat was a lady. I waited a little bit to see if a guy would come over, but she was the only one selling meat that time.
I decided to be casual in my question, as if I was asking about any other item in the store.

I came close so nobody can hear me and asked, "Hey do you have testicles?"
"Testicles, do you have testicles?"
"I don't understand your question" and she really really looked confused.
I started sweating again, this time I was drenched in sweat, and my heart was beating. I asked "do you sell beef testicles here?"
"No!", she answered.
"Any kind of testicles? sheep or goat?"
"No we sure don't"
"Ok thank you".

Although I really needed to buy other things but I felt very embaressed that I ran away from the store as if someone was chasing me.
I called a Jordanian friend in town. "Dude, they don't sell testicles in Tucson!"
"Yes, pretty much everywhere in America they don't sell this stuff, unless you go to an Arabic store and order it in advance, you might get it a week later"
"That sucks"
"Don't worry, I got some tongues from Phoenix"
"Oh that's awesome, will you cook them?"
"Yes, tonight, will see you then"

I guess if you can't get what you want, be thankful with what you've got.

ملاقط مشتعلة

Thank you Malaget for hosting me in this very rare interview.

It's very rare because it's the only interview I had.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Too fast to be true

That's when she became World Champion and the fastest woman on earth

and that's how she ended up, today, in tears and shame....

Reminds me of Ben Johnson when he won his gold in 1988 and broke the world records, but it turned out he was cheating and was stripped of his gold medal and his dignity


Have you noticed that we, Jordanians, tend to throw a lot of food in the trash?

We fill our dishes with plenty of food that ends up thrown away?

Most of the manasef served in traditional weddings gets thrown away.

This was just a quick observation.... in a nation where more people are getting hungry.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Jordanian Facebook-ers, Listen to the Word

Ten things you should and shouldn't do on facebook

1- No more bikini pictures please! Your french bikini might match your thick lebanese accent but the hair under your armpit is enough to cover the heads of ten bald men.

Next time a picture of you with little clothes covering you up will be in the morgue after your distant cousin chops your head off.

2- Stop making groups saying, "If a thousand people joined this group, my insecure ugly cracked up friend will come visit us in Jordan this year"

Excuse me, but is he the new Messiah coming to Jordan to save the world? And if these groups do work I'll make a one, "If one thousand people joing this group we'll cut his head off and make this head his new profile picture"

3- When updating your status, write something useful or shut the hell up.

Don't write "I'm at work". We know it's a surprise that you got off your ass and started working, but why are you announcing that?

And those annoying losers who never stop counting.... from day 30, "30 days to go, 29 days to go, 28 days to go..."
I feel they wake up every morning to log in and change the number.
If I give a shit about what you're counting down for, I would have called on day "30 to go" to ask. If I care about you I would have known what are you counting down for without checking facebook.

4- For some relatives, I'm sorry if I didn't add you as a "super-relative" or "super-friend" on facebook. I didn't know you ever existed before facebook came out.

5- For those idiots who post their birthdate and address and email on facebook, are you crazy? Don't you morons hear about identity theft? Don't you know that 70% of identity thefts are done by people who know you? May you also leave your credit card number and three of your contacts in case I needed them? If you're such an idiot then you deserve it.

6- Stop joining all these "I'm Christan/Muslim and very proud" groups. I'm not God but I can assure you the angels are not dancing in heaven when someone joins these group. The last time you were religious was when you prayed to not be caught kissing in the car.

7- You can't start a group for charity purposes and not donate anything. You can't support Darfur when you can't locate it on the map. You can't join a group to help poor kids when the members in the group are more than the money you've ever donated to anyone, including the beggars you cuss when they knock on your car's window.

8- I know you have a multiple personality disorder, but you don't have to prove that by placing more than one person in your profile picture.

9- You don't get to be my friend if you haven't called me in five years. My drunk neighbor knows about me more than you do and I don't even call her a friend, at least not when she gets arrested.

10- Having 700 friends doesn't mean you're popular. Having pictures of you hanging near the swimming pool edge doesn't mean you're a good swimmer, and all kids under the age of 3 months are very ugly. They look like zombies with their bald heads and protruded eyes so stop taking pictures of them. Besides, it's really hard to capture the rare moment when they're not screaming, peeing on the floor or shitting in your face.

Respect to the world,

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Let's Talk Science: Is AIDS going to threaten Jordanians?

Few hundreds, just a few hundred Jordanians carry HIV. It's always been around that number.
Am I concerned?

The Ministry of Health has warned in 2006 that not enough measures are being taken to prevent the spread of AIDS in Jordan.

Let's look at numbers:

We have some of the lowest percentages of HIV positivity in the world (0.01-0.1%), but what's worrisome is having plenty of undiagnosed cases. One might carry the virus for years before being diagnosed with it. In Jordan, people may die without being diagnosed with the illness.

Here's a scary fact: In the US, there are nearly one million reported cases of HIV. However there's another quarter million who do not know that they carry the virus.

There are 334 reported cases in Jordan. If you extrapolate the data above to Jordan, we can assume we've got 400 or more cases of HIV in Jordan.

But it's never that simple.

In the US, HIV is always looked after. It's always being tested, in emergency rooms and the smallest community clinics, among the straight and the gays, among the young and the old.

In Jordan that's not the case, and most patients with HIV present with the full-blown picture of AIDS with all of its complications because none of the many doctors who have previously seen these patients thought about the disease.
Doctors almost never ask their patients about sexual practises, and if they do patients almost never say they're having an extramarital affair, let alone being homosexual.

The UNAIDS estimates that the number of HIV-infected Jordanians is greater than a thousand.
Now here's another fact: AIDS in Jordan is not a disease of homosexuals. Most infected individuals acquired it by heterosexual sex.

The following makes me concerned:

1- Young people are having more unprotected sex. There's an assumption that only vaginal sex can transmit the disease, not knowing that anal intercourse poses a more serious risk for the transmission of the virus. Many Jordanians especially men are having unprotected sex outside Jordan and plenty of them acquire sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) before coming back home. They get treated for most STDs but and HIV test is usually not performed. With antibiotics being sold over-the-counter in Jordan, the incidence of STDs might be much higher than recorded.

A good example is the Jordanian peace-keeping force in Croatia in the early 1990s where ten soldiers acquired HIV during a short period of time. They were detected because of a close health surveillance performed by the military hospitals for soldiers in peace-keeping forces. They might have been easily missed if they didn't have the opportunity (or rather the option) to be tested for HIV.

2- Homosexuality, though present for a long time, is becoming more public in Jordan and homosexual activities are on the rise, yet sexual awareness is almost non-existent among Jordanians including many highly-educated citizens.

3- Ignorance and unjustified fear. I've taken only one 50-minutes lecture about HIV during my whole six years of study in a medical school in Jordan. We had an HIV-positive patient in the University of Jordan Hospital and the DOCTORS there refused to take care of him because they were afraid of transmission. A Jordanian physician here describes how a hospital in Amman in 1998 refused to treat an HIV-positive patient because they were afraid of transmission of the illness.

Almost all Jordanians don't know that HIV is different from AIDS, and that people carrying the virus nowadays can live more than 25 years even have a normal life span if they get treated.

Most people don't know that HIV is treatable while hepatitis B and C infections are much more difficult to treat and have killed and are killing thousands of Jordanians. Most people think that AIDS is an illness of only the gays and drug users.

AIDS is not a major problem in Jordan. I believe all the numbers the Ministry of Health releases about its prevlance in the country. What makes me nervous is the future, perhaps the very near future, and I have some good reasons to be worried.

Monday, October 01, 2007

A real black September

قتلناكَ.. يا آخرَ الأنبياءْ
ليسَ جديداً علينا
اغتيالُ الصحابةِ والأولياءْ
فكم من رسولٍ قتلنا..
وكم من إمامٍ..
ذبحناهُ وهوَ يصلّي صلاةَ العشاءْ
فتاريخُنا كلّهُ محنةٌ
وأيامُنا كلُّها كربلاءْ