Posts in Tidbits

The fortune teller!

My very good friend Mariam wrote a very compelling post detailing her trip to Baqaa, a Palestinian refugee camp, to have her fortune read by the infamous fortune teller Ibtisam. Mariam’s account of the trip is dead on. She fully describes her encounter with Baqaa residents who automatically direct her to Ibtisam’s house without questions, as Mariam’s appearance along with that of her friends didn’t fit such a destitute area. Why else would westernized, Ammanite girls come to Baqaa unless it was to have their coffee cups read?

Unlike Mariam, who went home disappointed after Ibtisam refused to read her cup (for lacking intention), I had the intent and my cup was fully read by Ibtisam nearly five years ago. I don’t recall all of what she told me that day but I remember two major things she saw coming in the near future: Without even looking me in the eyes, Ibtisam predicted that 1) I would marry someone out of my culture and 2) I would spend most of my life outside of Jordan.

Well, I’m not sure I believe in all of this fortune telling stuff, but what she foresaw in my coffee cup was very similar to what happened in my life. Freaky!

Morning surfing

Bill GatesMy morning surfing resulted in this. A picture of a young Bill Gates. Now isn’t this just hilarious? Geez, he looks like such a nerd!

Click here for more pictures.

The Fox BlockerAnother amusing thing I found was the FOX blocker.

Hate Fox news and their right wing propaganda? Then block them with this inline fliter that keeps their TV signal at bay.

I also found an active committee that protects the rights of bloggers. Neat no?

On a separate note, there are continuing updates to newswire, coming on a near daily basis, but very few seem to notice all of our hard work 🙁

So here are some highlights:

Another Saudi mobile camera story

This one is repulsive!

Two young Saudis have been sentenced by the high court here to prison terms and flogging for orchestrating and filming a Nigerian driver sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl, Al-Watan newspaper reported yesterday.

Judge Muhammad ibn Abdullah Al-Luhaidan sentenced the main defendant, Barjis ibn Faleh, 27, to 12 years imprisonment and 1,200 lashes, while compatriot Abdulrahman ibn Haif, 22, was sentenced to two years and 200 lashes, Al-Watan reported.

“The Nigerian driver who appeared in the film, Youssef Abkar Mohammad Abdullah, was sentenced to a six-year imprisonment and 600 lashes,” the paper said. The scandal, which shocked the conservative Saudi society, broke out after the accused circulated footage of the assault through mobile phones equipped with cameras.

Source: [Arab News]

Obesity among Arab women

According to the Wall Street Journal, about half the women in the Middle East are overweight or obese:

In Bahrain, 83% of women are obese or overweight, according to International Obesity Task Force, a London-based think tank that tries to persuade countries to tackle the problem. In the United Arab Emirates the figure is 74%; in Lebanon it is 75%, the groups says. By comparison, about 62% of American women are overweight or obese. The prevalence of childhood obesity in the Middle East has risen rapidly in recent years and diabetes is spreading across the region, according to WHO.

Even predominantly Arab North African countries without oil wealth are wrestling with the challenge, in part because of a traditional preference for larger women. Half of all women in Tunisia and Morocco are overweight or obese — two standard measures of a person’s weight — according to a 2001 study published in the U.S.-based Journal of Nutrition.

What I found disturbing in this article was the statement:

The belief that rotund women are more desirable as wives helps explain why much of the Arab world — which stretches from the Persian Gulf in the east to Mauritania in North Africa — is experiencing an explosion of obesity.

As an Arab woman myself (who is currently struggling to lose weight) I totally disagree with this faulty statement. The reason there is obesity among Arab women is mainly due to lack of exercise and the lack of awareness about healthy diets. The author’s statement is a generalization, as he (or is it she) began the article discussing the issue of force feeding among women in Mauritania:

Force-feeding is usually done by girls’ mothers or grandmothers; men play little direct role. The girls’ stomachs are sometimes vigorously massaged in order to loosen the skin and make it easier to consume even greater quantities of food. … Local officials say some women are so fat they can barely move. In [a Mauritanian] survey, 15% of the women said their skin split as a result of overeating. One-fifth of women said one of their toes or fingers were broken to make them eat.

Well, If Mauritanian women want to be obese, then that’s their problem. I’m not gonna speak for other Arab women, but I can certainly speak for Jordanian women. In my country, the skinnier the woman is the better she looks! Obesity is never encouraged, in fact it is a turn-off!

Zarqawi arrested? I hope so!

According to unconfirmed reports, Zarqawi was arrested in the Iraqi city of Baquba. Read the full story here.

If this is proves true, I will dance a dance of joy and sing a song of bliss! I already unleashed my hatred for Zarqwai in this post, so I’m not gonna do it again. It sparked some contentious debate.

Ah, the persistence!

The Iranians got what they wanted. National Geographic has revised its world atlas, encouraging the use of "Persian Gulf." Read the full story here.

In this case, I’m compelled to offer kudos for their efforts. Really, regardless of whether I agree with them or not, I have to take my hat off to the Iranians, as their persistence and dedication finally paid off. Now I think it is time to change the Mental Mayhem opinion poll. Any suggestions?

‘Sweden’s 9/11′

Recently, I received this e-mail from my Swedish-Thai friend, Nouna. She is very distressed over the loss of life among Swedish tourists from this terrible Tsunami disaster. I thought I would share a few parts of her e-mail here, as it sheds a bit of light on the Swedish response to the disaster:

So far the official numbers in Sweden is that 44 are dead, most likely there will be a few hundred dead, perhaps even over 1000. The mainstream media has calculated that 1500 Swedes are missing, but that’s just numbers who went by charter. Now, after calculating travellers who just bought seats, the number is 4000. Naturally these are very broad numbers.

The government has received lots of criticism for not sending out planes etc fast enough. Expert teams have been sent to identify dead people. For Sweden this is seen as bigger than the Estonia (ship) sinking ten years ago. This is pretty much our Sep 11 as everyone seems to know someone who was in the area at the time. Schools and communities are preparing crisis handling for when people arrive home, or are reported to be dead/still missing.

Michael is here

Michael and Me

Yesterday was a good day. My nephew, Michael William Connally, came to life. Both he and Brigitte are in a good health after three hours of labor. We were very lucky that Michael arrived while we were still in Amman, allowing us to spend some time with him right before we return to Doha Sunday. He is just so adorable.

I know it might be too early to say, but he really takes after his dad. It is also worth mentioning that he is the first nephew in a family dominated by the female presence, so the excitement over his arrival has been duly doubled.

Jeff created a photo album of the occasion. Click here or the picture to share our joy.

Entertaining news item of the day

This one is from the Guardian

Oh what a lovely jail

Al-Qaida supporters detained in Saudi Arabia have appeared in a television documentary about al-Haer jail, 25 miles south of the Saudi capital, Riyadh, and delivered rave reviews of life inside.

"I swear to God, they [the jailers] are nicer than our parents," said Othman al-Amri, once No 21 on the kingdom’s list of most-wanted terror suspects.

The programme, broadcast on Saudi television late on Monday, included brief footage from inside the jail, showing clean facilities and beds lined next to one another.

It signalled a new effort by the authorities to encourage militants to give themselves up and to allay suspicions that they would be ill treated if they did so. But persuading them to opt for al-Haer may prove difficult.

I am sure that after airing this program the militants are lining up around the block to turn themselves in. Well, you know, clean sheets can be tempting!

Flag competition?

Jordan's Big Flagpole

I just read that Bahrain has unfurled the world’s largest flag (below), measuring 169.5 metere, beating Pakistan’s record.

Bahrian's Big Flag

A year and a half or so ago, Jordan put up the world’s tallest flag pole.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but is there a flag competition I’m unaware of going on nowadays?

I still like Jordan’s flag display more. Yes, I’m biased.