AndFarAway

A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: December 2007 (Page 1 of 3)

On December

December is the twelfth and last month of the year in the Gregorian Calendar.

Related:

On March
On April
On May
On June
On July
On August
On September
On October

On November

Allah

Malaysian government tries to copyright the word “Allah” so that it could be only used by Muslims. The ban was reversed soon after, but it’s still pretty funny, because the word “Allah” is actually Arabic for God, and according to Wikipedia, the term is most likely derived from a contraction of the Arabic article al- and ʾilāh “deity, god” to al-lāh meaning “the [sole] deity, God” (ho theos monos) while another theory traces the etymology of the word to the Aramaic Alāhā. It has been used in the Arab world for years before Christianity and Islam were born.
Talk about being lost in translation.

[via SubzeroBlue]

Ammanite War of Preference- last chance!

This is your last chance to vote on the Ammanite War of Preference, so go ahead and vote here!

Glasses

As I simply cannot function like a normal human being without a pair of spectacles sitting across the bridge of my nose, the process of getting a new pair is one of the most exciting things in the world. Without my glasses, life would be naught. I wouldn’t be able to read this screen, drive my car, or see anything more than masses of blurry colors.

The excitement of getting a new pair is doubled by the fact that my eyesight doesn’t seem to want to stop getting worse, making new glasses not only a physical make-over, but a whole new seeing experience. This time, after a couple of years from my last prescription, my eyesight has decreased by a whole value for each eye. Squinting through glasses has been nightmarish, and this value has rendered details such as text, billboards, and other things completely out of my field of vision.

So finally, I went to pick out a new pair. I had something specific in mind, a dark plastic frame with thick, pronounced arms.  I love plastic, I’ve been wearing plastic my entire life. I love its purity, its softness, its cleanliness. Yet, I ended up with metal- a white pair with cute little red windows on the side. Red is always a good accent to anything.

The best part though is that I can finally see again. I am fascinated when I see all the details that I never saw before, one forgets what it’s like to be able to see perfectly.

Until the next pair…

Related: Geek Chic

RIP, Netscape

Weird to see the death of an icon. Yeah, I know it’s from the internet-bubble-age, but it’s still rather sad I think. RIP, Netscape.

[via SubzeroBlue]

December 29, 2007

Twenty-nine. Twenty-ninth. One and only time, ever.

“He vivido días magníficos.” -Che Guevara, 1965

Just a record.

Yellow tag with a slice of mint

I am not a tea person, I usually consider flavorless and throat-drying. Yet sometimes, very seldom, I start to crave falafel-style tea, in the little armless glasses, with 3 teaspoons of sugar and one small mint leaf that sticks to the inside. I don’t think it would taste as good as what I have in mind and memory if I go make such a cup-of-tea right now. Why is it that certain surroundings, people, and instances, give your average cup of Lipton tea a completely different flavor?

Hot coffee

Even winter is warm and happy these days.

Marketing is the tax you pay for being unremarkable

– With spam-like marketing crowding international surroundings with excessive noise, people are starting to ask whether marketing is dead. [link]

– Turkish food company Ülker buys luxury chocolate brand Godiva. [link]

– There are many ways to use photography at a magazine. The worst is to use photos as decoration or as a literal translation of the story into pictures. Low end catalogs, real estate brochures, those car rags next to the gum ball machine at the grocery story all use photography this way. So, goddam boring *snore*. This does not serve the reader, it only serves the editors unconscious plan (my theory) that the photography only support the story not equal or trump it. High level photography and photo editing brings additional information about a subject to the story and when it’s really cracking the reader reacts emotionally. In my book “that photo makes me want to throw-up” is way better than “it’s fine by me.” [link]

– Thanks to Aptilo Networks and Tropos Networks, after the estimated three million pilgrims walk seven times counter-clockwise around the Kaaba and kiss (or simply point at) the sacred Black Stone, they can then MapQuest directions to Muzdalifah and perhaps IM a friend or give them a call using VoWi-Fi, so they can meet up and gather the pebbles they will need to perform the ritual of Stoning the Devil at Mina. Pilgrims can also access the streaming video at the official Ministry of Hajj web site, which sagely warns (in English), “Be peaceful, orderly, and kind. No crushing. [link]

The Shape of Things to Come

I love reading predictions. Not of the astrological type of course, but rather, of trend-watchers trying to scientifically and intuitionally predict change, by reading the runes of business and consumer trends. I love reading them and thinking about what I agree with and what I find absolutely absurd, only to look back in 13 months to see how expert expert-opinions really are.

After all, Einstein himself once said, “There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.” Of course, in this internet-age no one will ever go to say something as absurd as “everything that can be invented has already been invented”, but here are some futurologist snippets for 2008:

The rise of N11: The term N11 was coined in a recent report by Goldman Sachs, and refers to the up-and-coming “Next 11” countries who are snapping at the heels of India, China, Russia and Brazil as investment opportunities – Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, South Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Turkey and Vietnam. And where the money goes, there is a good chance that cultural fascination will follow.
My verdict: Ehh… let’s first see India and China really reach the hype before we stick 11 more countries into the equation!

Peer-to-peer lending: One of the key financial trends of 2008 will be the growth of person-to-person lending exchanges in which borrowers and lenders come together directly on the web and cut out the banks.
My verdict: Although I haven’t heard of such an initiative directly, I sort of feel like this is old news. I mean, in the world where people find apartments in Amman on Facebook, and teenagers spend so many hours and so much money in virtual reality like Second Life, isn’t there already such a thing? Perhaps in an informal way, but I’m 100% sure it’s already been done.

Social networking grows up: Next year will see online social networking cease to be the preserve of the young.
My verdict: Ok, this is seriously old news. I mean, both my parents have Facebook accounts, as do a lot of their friends and a lot of my friend’s parents.

Reverse knowledge migration as well as bright and well-educated workers coming from the developing world to the west, people will start to move in the opposite direction. This new global class of “cyber-gypsies”, says Saffo, will not only include American and European Asians returning “home”, but also highly educated, non-Asian Americans and Europeans going off to make their fortunes in places such as China. Companies, universities and thinktanks in Europe and America, he warns, who often smugly assumed that they would be a magnet for the world’s talent, are going to discover that this is no longer the case.
My verdict: I suppose I can see this happening. But not in 2008. Not even in 2015.

Handmade on the net One staple of futurological speculation has been the quest for authenticity in what seems like an anonymous and artificial world. A new twist on all this, says Reinier Evers of the Amsterdam firm Trendwatching.com, is the sprouting of internet-based ventures that purvey handmade and highly traditional fare.
My verdict: Have you heard of eBay? The beauty of the internet is that it can beautifully cater to niche markets. You can find more vintage Palestinian dresses on eBay than you can in Amman. eBay has been there since 1995. And counting.

Clubbing together Sharing the costs, Salzman points out, is becoming increasingly popular in many different retail sectors. The inexorable rise of “fractional luxury”, for example, is giving not-quite-wealthy-enough people the opportunity to buy a time-share in anything from a racehorse to a jumbo jet.
My verdict: Ok, this is getting boring. I remember a time-share scamming attempt at Safeway in the middle of Amman four years ago.

The new vicarious consumption Just as book reviews have become a substitute among many of us for reading books, Evers says, our enthusiasm for endless product reviews is becoming a way through which we can vicariously experience almost anything through the eyes (and sometimes ears) of people who have already been there.
My verdict:I agree on this one, but I’ve also been doing it for years. I discovered years ago that I would rather skip watching the movie or reading the novel, opting for the much quicker and easier paths to stay updated seems more efficient- Wikipedia, Amazon, and imdb. Instant knowledge. I love it. It’s addictive.

DIY education The rise of blogging and self-broadcasting sites such as YouTube as an alternative to TV, says Gutsche, has brought with it a burgeoning demand among people to learn new skills, not from professional educators but from their peers.
My verdict:Man, I learned Photoshop from web tutorials back in 2002. Come on.

Digital housecleaning While there is a much greater acceptance among young people of living life in the glare of the net, says Salzman, the lust for digital exhibitionism will soon wither when they come to start looking for a job.
My verdict: Perhaps I’m just lucky, but my digital self has been key to forming my post college life, in all aspects. I think people are worrying about privacy issues too much, just like they used to worry about how the world will end with the millennium bug.

Virtual identity managers Another consequence of the public display of ourselves on the net is that many of us are going to end up hiring professional stand-ins.
My verdict: That’s hilarious. I can see it happening, I mean, it sort of did already happen with hoaxes, but I really don’t see it happening as a norm. Or maybe I can. I’m neutral on this one.

[Courtesy of The Guardian]

What do you agree with? Personally, I think most of these predictions are rather funny, because most of them are old news. It would have been awesome if they were published in 2004, rather for 2008, when most online people have already gone through these things. Most of them are very precise I think, because they have already happened. Or maybe I’m just too geeky… a web-geek living in a web-bubble where my web-intertwined world makes me feel like everyone lives in this bubble with me.

(don’t forget to fill out the Amman survey if you’re Ammani!)

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