My 2011 Resolutions

A quick visit to the ruins of my blog made me realize that I haven’t published anything in 2011. My last post was on December 31, 2010. I could go with the negative approach and start blaming all sorts of things for that, but I don’t want to. I went into blogging because I enjoy writing, and I just didn’t feel like writing for the past few months. The thing I missed the most about 2010 was that I used to go almost everywhere where something was happening in Jordan, and I haven’t been doing that recently. So if it isn’t too late, here are my resolutions for 2011.

  • Graduate. Seriously, I’ve had enough of university.
  • Finish a graduation project I can brag about. I’m not that much into bragging, but I want to feel like I’ve achieved something in 2011.
  • Make an impact locally when it comes to the Open Web, and Open (Re)Source(fullness)
  • Start an initiative to stimulate Arabic content on the Internet.
  • Finally becoming active in working towards gender equality.
  • Help one philanthropic cause through social media.
  • Learn how to draw.
  • Write at least one poem.
  • Survive.

I hope that’s not all too much to achieve. =/

Why I Didn’t Vote (and why that’s still okay)

“Those who don’t vote will not be participating with others in shaping their country’s future,” Samir al-Rifai, the prime minister, said on state television.

I choose not to vote. Excuse me, Mr. Prime Minister, but that does not mean I will not participate, or that I did not participate in shaping my country’s future, and in fact I will participate in it, and that’s not up to you, or anyone else to decide. I just don’t think this parliament will shape my country’s future. I also feel offended by that patronising tone. That was my general feeling throughout the elections period, but I choose not to make that known during that period. I was so fed up by the patronising tone the “others” used while addressing the boycott campaigners, which is rich coming from a camp that refused open debate on the matter.

I choose not to support the election boycott  publicly, or openly spread the news about it out of fear, more than all. The law is ambiguous enough, and if any of my efforts would be deemed  as to “influence people to not vote”, I would have been under the possibility of being arrested. It’s not because I didn’t want to “break the law”, because I for one believe that law is unconstitutional, and therefore, not a law. I just didn’t have the courage to test that theory. I am by no means proud of that.

But now the elections are over, I feel free to fully state my opinions in the elections. I have no regrets, after watching people in my district fight over whose tribe is better, whose tribe is bigger, and whose tribe can kick the other tribe’s butt first. I’ve seen people start celebrating their election wins by shooting fire arms. I’ve heard, and seen all the news about violence, fear, vote buying, and fraud all over the country. I’ve felt the ‘invisible hand’ try to influence the elections using apparently arbitrarily decided  “virtual districts” . So I ask you again, why would I ever want to vote?

I’m a 22 year old male university IT student. I hate fire arms. I belong to a big tribe, but I don’t think belonging to a tribe should give you any merits. I think of it more of just another way to bring me closer to some people, sort of what happens when you meet someone who studied at the same university as you did, only a slightly stronger bond. I would only vote for a candidate that belongs to a party, first of all, because I don’t believe in trusting people, I trust ideals. I still wouldn’t vote for any party, but I don’t feel like disclosing my political inclinations here on this blog, but I do have political leanings, and I would very prefer to vote to candidates that have them. In fact, I think that’s the entire point of having an election.

These things were not available to me, and the things I saw I expected, and did not like, so why vote? I could have gone to the polls and given in a blank paper, but that would have been nothing but an exercise in futility, and an attempt to make a very stupid point, and there’s a lot of that going on in this country at the moment. The errors in this election are not only many, but legislative, systematic, and worst of all they’ve become so engrained into our national fabric that we as a whole can’t see why they’re wrong.  So, I can’t change the other voters, I can’t change the candidates, and I sure as hell can’t change the deputies, so tell me why should I vote?

Tarakiyee word of the day, “Nitpicking”

I’m sorry I haven’t updated my blog recently, I know you’re all dying for a Tarakiyee update. I was just busy trying to get up the new redesign of my website. Today, I decided to take a short break and share a short post with all of you. In my new series, WOTD, I will be showcasing some words of the English language that people here don’t use a lot. Today’s word is, “nitpicking”.

Nitpicking, as defined by wikipedia, is the act and process of removing nits from one’s hair. Nits are the eggs of lice (قمل in Arabic). It’s a long and laborious act, because you have to carefully check each hair for those tiny eggs. It’s also used to describe people who take something, and scan every single minor detail and coming up with a small, often inconsequential error (نء in Arabic). Nowadays, people no longer nitpick, because they invented chemical processes that do a much efficient job.

However some people still choose to nitpick nowadays, probably out of boredom, or فضاوة أشغال. It’s actually the Jordanian national pass time. Maybe if we start having more entrepreneurs, then we can have more busy people, and we can stamp this bad habit out of people, even if it means we’ll have more nits in our collective hairs. أصلن أزا تركتهم, بموتو لحالهم.

Monetizing Education: The German-Jordanian University

There is so much a student can take from their university before speaking out. I’ve been a German-Jordanian University student from the start of the university, well, I am part of the second group of students that entered the University. It was a new concept, and there were many problems I, and my fellow students had to endure, but I stuck with it, for the sake of the education, and because I knew I am getting one of the best educational experiences in the Kingdom. I am a huge supporter of the idea behind the GJU, and this is why I’m speaking out.

A new trend today is taking place in our university where every couple of days we’re bombarded by advertisements. And it’s not spam, they are emails coming out from the Deanship of Student Affairs to our official university emails. I have to wade through the ads to get to the important announcements and emails from my professors. Not only that, but the deanship is also approving such ads to be posted on the university walls. One of the most embarrassing ads I’ve seen was one for a Neuro-linguistic Programming course. It’s sad to see the state of ignorance we’ve reached in our nation’s highest educational facilities, that the universities are supporting pseudo-sciences. It doesn’t take more than a simple Wikipedia check to know that NLP is nothing more than nonsense.

Today we’ve had Zain Jordan at our university, setting up camp inside the university. They built up stalls, and had salespersons walking between the students.  The funny thing is, at our temporary location near the Prince Hassan Science City, we are already overcrowded, and the stalls took a lot of space. We don’t mind the over-crowdedness, because we know we’re going to move soon, and it’s not really affecting our education, but that doesn’t mean the university should take that for granted and make the situation worse for us.

And apparently tomorrow, Curves fitness gym is coming to the university, or so I found out on my official university email. This is despicable, outrageous, and I won’t stand for it any longer. The university is an academic institution, and when I have to run through hoops in order to organise academic events in the university, I feel gravely insulted that the big companies are allowed to advertise so easily at our university. I also can’t help but wonder what the university is getting out of this. I ask that this intolerable situation be rectified immediately, with a clear university policy to disallow all commercial advertising on university medium, whether it be email, posters, and on university grounds. However, I still stand by the GJU as a fine academic institution.

What’s Up Amman? Die Toten Hosen Concert

What’s up Amman is my very narrow view of what’s happening in the city of Amman. This is a special what’s up Amman, called the Why We Can’t Have Nice Things speech. First of all, a crash course on concert etiquette.

1) Deodorants. Use them. Axe might get you all the ladies if you’re a normal person, but we as Arabs need that industrial grade heavy-duty shit. I suggest they should start handing out nose-plugs along with the standard concert ear-plugs.

2) It’s nice to jump the stage every once and a while. Gives a little excitement to the concert. But contrary to the popular opinion in Jordan, the stage is not a diving board.  Bands actually choreograph their moves on the stage, based on the assumption that said stage is empty, and it’s not nice to run into people when you’re trying to play music.

3) When the band finishes playing, out of courtesy, stay around and ask them to do an encore. Don’t scramble to the door.

4) Metal horns are for metal bands, not for every band that sings in another language. Punk bands usually dislike any show of establishmentism, and they might not like seeing a hundred people wearing the same clothes, and holding the same sign up.

5) Most importantly, if you ever find yourself pulled on the stage, don’t show-boat. There’s a band that travelled all the way from Germany to entertain you, they earned the right to that stage, don’t try and steal the light from them.

And I’ll skim over the parts where my female friends complained of being grabbed and the people I personally saw checking women out then trying to get closer to them (whereupon I started my own one man moshpit to block them from getting to the nice ladies), because  I frankly find that just so utterly despicable, that it makes me want to explode in a tirade of curse words and built-in anger, because since I’m a self-proclaimed pacifist, I can’t knock some respect into these sick bastards. But I certainly wouldn’t step in if someone else decided to use violence against them, even though I don’t directly condone it.

And see, that’s why we can’t have nice things. Seeing as the rant is over, here are the good things. DIE TOTEN HOSEN ROCKED. It’s nice to see how after all these years they haven’t lost their energy to rock. I was never the hugest fan before, I went to their city Düsseldorf and I hated it. I had a couple of their songs that I like, namely “Hier Kommt Alex” (Here Comes Alex), a song about the book A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, a must read by the way, but I digress, and “Alles ist Eins” (All is One), a tribute the band made to a Dutch girl that died in one of their concerts.

They played both songs, and that made me very happy. They also played a couple more, that I liked, but I’ll have to look for them then blog about them later. I think it’s important for the people to get the meaning behind songs, makes them a lot more beautiful. I certainly believe that knowing German made this concert much better for me, than those who didn’t know the language. One interesting tidbit I learned that Campino, the lead singer, is a big fan of Liverpool FC, as well as I am. They sang a Beatles song, and You’ll Never Walk Alone, but unfortunately I had  left stage-side by the time they sang YNWA. I was so exhausted by that point.

Overall, I figure at some point in their 30 or so year career, die Toten Hosen picked up the skill to throw an amazing rock concert, and I guess we have to thank them, the German Embassy, Goethe Institut, and the Municipality of Amman (nice stage at the King Hussien Parks, BTW) for working together and giving us a chance to see that first hand. This event will be the highlight of the year for many, it’s just so hard to top here in Jordan!

What’s up Amman? “Street” Art and Dead Pants. WTF?

Warning: You are entering angry rant zone. Foul language is probably used. (2 Shits, 2 Fucks (abbreviated) and 1 poo-poo-head)

This is not a regular what’s up Amman, this is a special rant about Amman, a WTF Amman you might say, if the name wasn’t already taken. Heard of it or not, the Toten Hosen (the Dead Pants) are coming to Amman. These are one of the bands you either love, or never heard of, like most foreign bands that seldom sing in English. But German or not, they are certainly one of the biggest punk bands in the world, and they will be playing in King Hussien park this second of October, as part of the German Embassy’s celebrations of their reunification day. Opening for them will be the brilliant Muraba3, from here, Amman, Jordan. Keep in mind, the ticket is for 3 JDs.

Another European offering this month is the European Film festival. Featuring an entire week of European films, a street performance by a famous French group, and a film competition for local artists, the EU Film Festival promises lots of fun for many Jordanians. Admission is free, of course.

ON THE OTHER HAND, there’s the Amman “Street” Art festival. I’m too angry to use sarcasm properly, so I’ll just say what’s on my mind. It’s a bunch of stupid paintings on a stupid wall, and they’re charging 4 JDs for it. FOUR. I ask of you all, couldn’t we as Jordanians afford to hang a couple of paintings on a wall for people to see for free, or did we accidentally spend all our money on importing mayonnaise or something?!

To be fair, there probably are some good artists in there, for all I know. I hate this cheated feeling I get whenever I see that any ‘locally’ organised cultural event has to cost so much when I get a shit-load of culture from somewhere else for equal to or less. Let’s face it, for the price of the “Street” art fair, I can attend more than 10 films, a dance performance, and a world class band, and still spare a JD to buy a mayonnaise sandwich from whatever local shawerma/shit-on-a-grill store that’s next to me.  I’m boycotting this, I’m not going to aid in the monetization of local culture.

On the Art of Writing and Living (or lack there-of)

I often read the things I’ve written and wonder how they came about. All I remember is that I slip into a trance, stop thinking and just let the words flow out. Sometimes the words simply refuse to come out. More often that not though, they do, and some of the times, when I’m happy of the outcome, they don’t get destroyed or hidden, and some people get to see them. Some of the times, they tell me they’re good, and only a few people criticize them. Those are the people I love the most.

But recently, I haven’t been able to write as much, simply because all I want to do is bitch about some things. For those of you who know me, I complain a lot, and as some sort of a reaction, I began feeling very self-aware when I complain, and I try not to do it so often. This self-awareness stops me from slipping into my writing trance, which in all honestly, if not in the most articulate wording, sucks.  I’ve promised myself in the past few months that I will refuse to, over and over, to censor myself, yet I keep doing it. I think I’ve reached the tipping point. I will rant with all the bitch-juice God gave me, and if you care enough read it, and if you don’t, then you are no friend of mine. Just kidding, we’re still friends, but I just don’t like you that much any more.

First of all, I’m confused. I don’t know where I’m going in life, but I really want to get to there fast, because I already packed all of my crap, and I’m sick and tired of waiting. I’m confused because I don’t know who I am any more from the masks I keep wearing. I’m utterly and profoundly confused because I don’t know where I stand in the eyes of all the people I know (welcoming any self-affirming comments below.) I’m confused because people keep telling me that being in university is the best time of my life, yet I feel like a monkey’s poo-poo hole.

I’m confused, and I’m not ashamed to say it. I don’t no where I’m going right now, but I seek glory eventually. I need to be precise. I seek glory, void of vanity and evil. I don’t care if people don’t remember my name after I die, and I don’t even care if they do know my name before I die, but I want them all to know, nay, feel the impact of a guy who stood for something, and it was good. I want bards to sing about “That One Guy who did Great Things but was Cool About it.” I don’t want to “gently go into the night”, I want to go out with (metaphorical) pyrotechnics and fake explosions.

Yet there are many good things I stand for, and no stable ground for me on which to stand, so that will have to wait. I wouldn’t mind a healthy dose of focus any time soon.

That’s all I have to rant about now. I feel much better. =D