Various writings on culture

Swine Flu, social networks and media spreading misinformation


Two recent articles from Al-Jazeera show the misinformation that is widespread about Swine Flu.

The first was an article lamenting how some Arab countries has imported pork meat, including Egypt, Bahrain, and the UAE. The article implies a connection between consuming pork, and catching swine flu. An avalanche of equally uninformed comments from visitors as response to the article. Many of the comments are focusing on the Islamic ban on consuming pork.

The other article is about Egypt's parliament considering discontinuing pig farms, with the approval of the Coptic Orthodox Church. At issue are the jobs affected by that, including the garbage collectors and recyclers providing feed for the pigs.

Ahmad Mattar, Obama and Arabs


The Iraqi poet Ahmad Mattar has always been a vocal critic of the Arab rulers and the silence of the Arab populace, with witty sarcasm and brilliant literary creativity. In a previous article, we gave a few examples, of his criticism of Saddam and the general downfall of Arab contemporary state of affairs.

He has a new poem on Obama, which is given below with an English translation. Even though it is titled Obama, it is really an inward looking poem lamenting the state of the Arabs.

Crowds, violence and the bystander effect


The Economist has a fascinating article on research by Dr Mark Levine of Lancaster University in the UK.

He analyzes footage from the now famous/notorious CCTV cameras in Britain, and finds that crowds can have an effect on escalating into violence or diffusing it depending on how the first few bystanders respond to the aggressor.

British and Arabs agree: unrealistic expectations from TV dramas


A while back, the Turkish TV soap opera Noor saw wide viewership in the Arab world, in subtitled form. Several divorces has been attributed to this show, with social scientists attributing this to unrealistic expectations by some viewers vs. real life.

Now, British researchers have independently reached a similar conclusion: romantic comedies set unrealistic expectations, and hence ruin couple's relationship.

Riots break out in Greece after police shoots teenager dead


I wrote before on France, and the marginalization of minorities causing alienation and ethnic strife. That was triggered by police chasing an immigrant youth who hid in an electric station and died when shocked by the current. Days of rage followed with confrontation between police and immigrant youth. Lots of property damage ensued.

Shaaban Abdel Rahim, popular Egyptian singer cautious about Obama's win


One of the culture phenomenons everywhere is the emergence of unlikely entertainers suddenly, gaining fame in a short time, and everyone listening to their music/performances.

In the USA this is often a result of a mighty marketing machine behind mediocre talent, coupled with tabloids gossiping about the latest juicy rumor (e.g. Britney Spears).

Wardija: Arabic translation of a modern Maltese poem


This is a poem by a contemporary Maltese poet, Ġakbu (James).

He posted the poem in a previous article on the oldest Maltese literary work, Il-Cantilena. I translated the Cantilena into English using only my knowledge of Arabic and trying to decipher the old orthography and the modern orthography of Maltese.This was a nice mental challenge, and an experiment in culture, history and of course, linguistics.

Il-Cantilena of Malta: How much can a modern day Arab decipher from the oldest Maltese literature?



Also known as Il-Kantilena ...

In a previous article on Arab heritage in Malta, I touched upon how the Maltese language (Ilsan Malti) is definitely derived from Arabic, and more specifically, from the North African dialect of Arabic.

A visitor to the site raised a nice challenge which was very interesting to me: He started on the off note and having his comment titled "Maltest are not arab", and by saying:

April's Fool roundup ...


April's Fool day is about practical jokes, humor and being creative in those.

Here is a roundup of today's pranks:

We start with Drupal first ...

Skiquel posted a working rickroll module for inclusion in Drupal 6.2 core. The module did work. I even cleaned up the code style (by hand) and submitted a patch and a couple of screen shots. The followups are hilarious.


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