Sunday, June 15, 2008


1. I remember heroes in black and white, from a time in black and white. My grandfather's war, the second World War, was in black & white. There were not as many questions. Morals were simpler, people had simpler choices and it seems to me were more straightforward.
He'd always go back to those three years of fighting, as the most important of his life. Of course, whenever I asked him about it, my grandmother would go "oh, here we go agaaaaaain".

2. Time has taken her away. She was travelling last time I was in France, and I couldn't meet her. She died suddenly, while I'm here, away.

We always assume that we have time, when we really don't. We can't afford to postpone anything: seeing family, friends, our loved ones, when we are able to see them, because really no one knows what can happen next. It's very obvious, of course, but still we forget about it all the time: WE DON'T HAVE TIME. We forget until it's too late.

When life goes away, so go the laughters to come, and the ones you had are all that's left.

3. Se worried about me since you left. She asked questions.

I saw a recent picture of you, by coincidence, on the net. It was unexpected. And it did me good: I felt nothing. It made me realize I am probably not in love with you any more. There is just this longing of something valuable that was wasted away. Like I gave a part of me that is gone, and there's a hollow feeling there.

I still google your name sometimes, to check on you. All I need is to know that you're alright, that you're doing fine. The only form of love I have left for you: knowing that you're ok. And that is enough.

4. There's more life and love ahead, but it's hard to jump into the water again when you nearly drowned once. This week, I had a very real reminder that time is running from our fingers.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What's in a name

1. Barack Hussein Obama's being ridiculously attacked by Republicans for sharing his middle name with Saddam. Stephen Colbert made a hilarious remark that "Rodham" (Hillary Rodham Clinton) also sounds like "Saddam". Hey, here's the next joke for late shows and conspiracy theorists: has anyone noticed that his first name is also the surname of Israel's Defense minister and ex-prime minister, Ehud Barak ? Go figure.

2. On a more serious note, a couple  of days ago I was mentioning the soaring price of fuel triggering strikes in 2 businesses: trucking and fishing. The same scenario is now expanding geographically. UK truckers are joining the strikes. In Thailand and South Korea, truckers and fishermen strikes were violently repressed. More strikes on fuel prices in India and Hong Kong.
 Philippines are Malaysia are hit hard too. The images from all over the world start to look exactly the same. In Barcelona, the busiest city of Spain, there is a shortage in gas stations. No more fuel.

It's expanding to other industries too: the Lisbon airport is CLOSED due to fuel shortage. The capital of Portugal, a major European city ! Farmers in France started protesting too. Major car companies are reacting fast. Toyota in Japan is reducing its production of SUVs to switch to hybrids. Hummer in the USA are closing plants.

In Russia, Gazprom warned that the price of the barrel is going to hit 250 dollars (now 135).
That's only the beginning. Start buying shares of bicycle makers and running shoes !

Funny that no one in the US is protesting yet, while war is hindering normal production in the world's largest oil reserve: Iraq.

3. Another ressource that is being depleted: water. In the Middle East, especially. The authorities in Jordan have started to send the police against misuse of water, like washing your car or watering your garden during the day.

Dilemma under the sun

There's a big bright sun over Amman. And I have a fantastic roof. Sun + roof = sitting outside soaking it up, reading the newspaper. Not in the Middle East, not in Amman. I went up with my paper and sunglasses, debated whether I could take my shirt off at least through the cartoon section and let my skin photosynthesize that vitamin D and soak up natural anti-depressant.

I did. But after 5 minutes of sitting there with my shirt off, I just "felt" eyes over me. I noticed all the surrounding windows like as many dark eyes. Now, I don't know. Maybe it was my imagination. Maybe the curtains around were just moved by the wind... I just felt wrong. I put my shirt back on, cursing. And went downstairs, because what's the use ?

I have a dream, that one day in Jabal Weibda, man will be able to read his newspaper shirtless on his roof without feeling like he's in the nude on Broadway.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Of Bush and my grandmother... and stuff

1. I just saw George Bush on TV. I couldn't concentrate on what he was saying, because I just noticed how much he looks more and more like my grandmother. Seriously. It's disturbing.

2. It has begun. The moment when the price of oil has become so expensive that it threatens the profitability of businesses directly depending on it. In Portugal, Spain and France, truck drivers and Fishermen no longer make profits when they work, due to the price of gasoline. The strikes expand geographically, and it's probably going to expand to other sectors of the economy.

The current crisis is also affecting the price of food worldwide. In Bengl Desh, Ethiopia, Egypt, news are coming. In Europe, people are now being very careful trying to save money when they shop for food.

Maybe the strikes in Europe will eventually stop, after negociations to lower the taxes on oil. But this is just a temporary solution to a long-term problem: the finite nature of this planet's resources. Check out the Story of stuff, that I found on this Jordan blog. It explains really well the nature of the problem.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Only Middle Eastern Gay Pride Parade

Yesterday was the 10th Gay Pride parade, in Israel, to promote the rights of gays and lesbians. That's one thing for which Israel is actually more progressive than its neighbours. When will a Gay Pride event be organized in Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon or Egypt ?

Most governments in the region are very repressive (remember the Queen boat in Cairo). I suspect many Middle Eastern people even refuse to accept the existence of same-sex love.

Remember the hilarious statement of Mahmood Ahmadinejad stating that "there are no gays in Iran". From what I saw, Jordan and Lebanon are a bit more tolerant than Egypt. In Tel Aviv's Gay parade, the feminist group called "Black Laundry" also protest each year to promote Palestinian rights, a common sight in all progressive, left-wing demonstrations.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ban the Dane... the return

I love Amman. Whenever I think my rants are moot, and I might run out of topics for this blog, I just buy the newspaper.

The problem is: I talk to intelligent, educated, modern, open-minded Jordanians, and it distorts my understanding of local reality. Thank God (yes!), the front page of the Jordan Times today runs a title on BOYCOTT...

Yes, aaaaagain, the old Danish cartoons story. The Amman general prosecutor decided to subpoena the Danish journalists for running the cartoons in 2006, and a new ban on Danish products is planned to start this week.

The story doesn't say if Danish insuline should be boycotted by hospitals and diabetics, since Denmark still produces 90% of it, despite Saudi's efforts to build a new plant.

I wish I could find online and publish on this blog the French cartoons of the 1970s on Jesus walking on the sea, and his disciples swimming around saying: "you should join us, the water's perfect !", and many others that even the Pope must have had a good laugh with.

So, we're still there. Some among us are still stuck into a timeframe where their religion is threatened by a cartoon. I remember the excellent movie "The name of the Rose" where the church was destroying and hiding some forbidden books of Aristotle and Aesop because they were funny and laughter was the enemy of God.

Also, yesterday I was discussing about Roberto Benigni's controversial efforts to laugh about everything. And he was right.

OK the cartoons were not funny. But that is their only crime, and the only reason I disagree with them. Voltaire said "I do not agree with you but I will defend to death your right to say it".

Laughter and caricature is a healthy way to point our own shortcomings, and this boycott reaction is the worst possible reaction.

A very funny actor, Desproges, once said: "One can laugh about everything, but unfortunetely not with everyone". I couldn't agree more.

Random thoughts, coming back from Europe

1. I was re-reading the short text by Kant: "What is enlightenment ?". Always a pleasure.

"Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's reason without guidance from another. This immaturity is comes from lack of resolve and courage to use reason. Sapere Aude! [dare to know] "Have courage to use your own understanding!"--that is the motto of enlightenment.

Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why a great proportion of men, long after having reached the age of maturity, gladly remain in lifelong immaturity, and why it is so easy for others to establish themselves as their "guardians".

It is easy to be immature. If I have a book to serve as my understanding, a pastor to serve as my conscience, I need not exert myself at all. Others will readily undertake the irksome work for me. The guardians who have so benevolently taken over the supervision of men have carefully seen to it that the far greatest part of them (especially women) regard taking the step to maturity as very dangerous, not to mention difficult.

Having first made their livestock dumb, and having carefully made sure that these docile creatures will not take a single step without the cart to which they are harnessed, these "guardians" then show them the danger that threatens them, should they attempt to walk alone. Now this danger is not actually so great, for after falling a few times they would in the end learn to walk; but an example of this kind makes men timid and usually frightens them out of all further attempts."


I was glad to learn that Barack Obama won t

he nomination of the Democratic party. After all, this long fight against Hillary yielded a lot of exposure, and also toughened him for the fight to come with McCain, so in the end it was a good thing.

3. Even when the sun shines in Europe, it's never as much of a sun as the one in the Middle East. Actually, I doubt it's even the same. I'm glad to feel its rays back on me again.