Culture

Various writings on culture

Crowds, violence and the bystander effect

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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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 ...

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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.

Nadir Ali and Company: Musical instrument maker with global reach

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The local TV news had a short video about an Indian company called Nadir Ali and Co. (NAC). The company is currently run by Managing Director Aftab Ahmad, who is over 70. It is based in Meerut, Utar Pradesh, where it has been operating since 1885.

The company makes musical equipment including horns, trumpets, and drums for many armies around the world as well as famous jazz performers.

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