AndFarAway

A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: June 2014

Behind Every Man Alive

Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living. Since the dawn of time, roughly a hundred billion human beings have walked the planet Earth.

Now this is an interesting number, for by a curious coincidence there are approximately a hundred billion stars in our local universe, the Milky Way. So for every man who has ever lived, in this Universe there shines a star.

But every one of those stars is a sun, often far more brilliant and glorious than the small, nearby star we call the Sun. And many–perhaps most–of those alien suns have planets circling them. So almost certainly there is enough land in the sky to give every member of the human species, back to the first ape-man, his own private, world-sized heaven–or hell.

How many of those potential heavens and hells are now inhabited, and by what manner of creatures, we have no way of guessing; the very nearest is a million times farther away than Mars or Venus, those still remote goals of the next generation. But the barriers of distance are crumbling; one day we shall meet our equals, or our masters, among the stars.

Men have been slow to face this prospect; some still hope that it may never become reality. Increasing numbers, however are asking; ‘Why have such meetings not occurred already, since we ourselves are about to venture into space?’

― Qyote from Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey

I want this dress

moon dress

By someone called Ana Locking, whoever she is.

Mixed-race Portraits

I love this series of mixed-race family portraits.

For one thing, evolution is beautiful, especially when you can see it happening right in front of your eyes. Two, as a Jordanian, where 99.9% of the population is Jordanian, race is fascinating to me because I don’t see much of it. Finally, all sides of my own family are very racially consistent, with Levantine genes all the way back.

And these mixed-race portraits are soooooo beautiful. I wish I can see the world when there will be no race anymore.

View all portraits on Slate.

Alternative Career Paths I Want to Have, Eventually

I want to own a beauty salon.

I want to be a food stylist.

I want to be a dedicated writer of novels.

I want to be the publicist of someone really famous.

I want to be an astronaut.

I want to manage a school.

I want to own a factory that produces something really industrial.

Roba’s Top Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Review: Part 2

A few months ago, I reviewed the top ten books based on NPR’s 100 Top Fantasy and Science Fiction books. This is part two in my review of science fiction and fantasy books to read.

You can read my review of the first ten here.

12. The Wheel of Time 

By Robert Jordan

Rating: Kinda Boring

Topic: Philosophy (Good versus evil)

For such a sweeping, huge work of fantasy, this series is actually horrible. I’ve read lots of epic fantasy novels and “The Wheel of Time” just isn’t epic. I found myself doing a lot of skimming.


13. Animal Farm

By George Orwell

Rating: Kinda Boring

I did not enjoy this Orwell classic, but maybe that’s just me. As much as I love fantasy, I can’t get past the block of talking animals. It also reminds me too much of a horrible English teacher I had in 4th grade. Did you enjoy this book?


14. Neucromancer

By William Gibson

Rating: Avoid

Topic: Digital life, cyberpunk

For someone like me who really, really relates to the Internet, I am still amazed that I absolutely hated this book. It reads like a cheap Danielle Steel novel with sci-fi elements.


15. I, Robot

By Isaac Asimov

Rating: Must Read

Topic: Robotics, politics

I mentioned this in my first review, but nothing and no one in the world makes me happier and more content that Isaac Asimov. When I’m reading Asimov, I forget I’m alive. For those of you who watched the movie, the movie has nothing to do with this amazing book. Asimov was a lover of technology and a visionary in the field of robotics, and the stupid movie turned that around. Read “I, Robot”, it will make you fall in love with robotics too.


16. Stranger in a Strange Land

By Robert A. Heinlein

Rating: Worth Reading

Topic: Philosophy, Politics

I am guilty of not being a huge fan of Heinlein. From the big three, it’s Asimov I adore. While “Stranger in a Strange Land” is absolutely genius, it is dull to read. You should read it, because it will make you think though.


17. The Kingkiller Chronicles

By Patrick Rothfuss

Rating: Must Read

Topic: History

While Rothfuss isn’t really famous and even though I ABSOLUTELY DESPISE reading a series that hasn’t yet been completed, this is one of the best epic fantasy series’ I’ve ever read in my life. It’s amazing how Rothfuss makes everything so alive and so animated… you devour his words, ideas, well-researched plots, and dynamic characters. Very strong recommendation.


18. Slaughterhouse Five

By  Kurt Vonnegut

Rating: Avoid

Topic: WW2 History

I don’t understand the fascination with this book. It’s so terribly written I could barely force myself to complete it.


19. Frankenstein

By Mary Shelley

Rating: Worth Reading

Topic: History, Psychology, Robotics

One of my first sci-fi novels and one of the first sci-fi novels in history too, Frankenstein is worth reading if only for the historical relevance.


20. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

By Philip K Dick

Rating: Worth Reading

Topic: Politics

While I am not sure I enjoy Philip K Dick’s writing style, this book is haunting in concept. The movie “Bladerunner” was based on it and it will make you think for sure.

Goodbye Daniel Keyes, Author of “Flowers for Algernon”

I’ve read hundreds of books in the past several years. Only one made me cry.

“Flowers for Algernon” might be a book of science fiction, but it was emotionally overwhelming in a way that science fiction is not. I just couldn’t control the lump in my throat, even in the middle of a crowded airplane.

“They said Miss Kinnian told that I was her bestist pupil in the adult nite school becaus I tryed the hardist and I reely wantid to lern. […] They said why did you want to. I told them becaus all my life I wantid to be smart and not dumb. But its very hard to be smart. They said you know it will probly be tempirery. I said yes. Miss Kinnian told me. I dont care if it herts.”

It is a beautiful book about intelligence, self-determination, and experimentation.

If there is only one book you’ll read this year make it this one. It comes as a short story too, so it’ll only take you an hour or so (click here to read it).

Thank you Daniel Keyes, for being.

Goodbye.

“P.S. please if you get a chanse put some flown on Algernons grave in the bak yard.”

=

Exactly how I feel towards football

Whole clip on BoingBoing

Stop Yourself from Referring to the Abdali Project as “Downtown”. It Is Not Downtown.

The Abdali project will be opening its doors tonight, after a decade of work. Even if it turns out to be the coolest thing in the world (and it might), try to make a conscious effort to not refer to the new Abdali project as “downtown”. That’s a marketing game, and the winners are the marketeers and the Saudi/Lebanese investors.

You know who the loser would be? You, I, and the heritage of our city.

We already have an amazing downtown Amman (elbalad) thats been inhabited from around 6,500 B.C.

Money can never create anything as beautiful and meaningful as the citadel in downtown Amman. It’s one of the oldest continuously-inhabited spots in the world, representing significant civilizations that stretched across continents and prospered for centuries, as one empire gave rise to the next. It is a part of the heritage of mankind.

The most high-tech stage will never compare to the 2000-year-old Roman amphitheater in downtown Amman, the most obvious and impressive remnant of Philadelphia. It’s ancient history playing out right in front of your eyes.

And no matter how delicious it is, no restaurant will ever be able to compete with the charms of the restaurants in downtown Amman, like Hashem, Habiba, Balat Al-Rashid, Central, and Al-Quds.

It’s not that I mind the Abdali project. On the contrary: I am actually quite excited, especially for open-air shopping and perhaps one or two new places to go out to.

But I have major issues with the attitude of foreign investors arrogantly marketing their project as “the new downtown” when we already have a gorgeous downtown.

Make a conscious effort to refer to the Abdali project as what it is: the Abdali project, مشروع العبدلي, the Abdali Boulevard, or whatever else.

We already have a downtown Amman, البلد, and thank you very much, we don’t want a new one.

On my hair spray addiction…

I am probably the only person born after 1980 with a mad hair spray addiction.

You see, I can’t live without hair spray. It’s just an amazing product.

1. It’s easy to use. You don’t need to figure out how to use it like other hair products. You just… spray.

2. It actually works. Some hair sprays I’ve used are so strong they can hold together a mountain. Hair spray also keeps hair feeling cleaner longer, protecting against oiliness.

3. It beats all other hair products. You can use it as mousse for volume (spraying while head is upside down), as a gel (the shiny variety of hair spray has the same effect), as wax (by spraying it into your hand then using your fingers to sculpt strands), and as hair spray (to hold your hairdo together against the stupid wind). It’s FOUR in one.

4. It can look natural, depending on the brand you buy. Natural is always a good thing.

5. It has a gazillion other uses. When I was a kid, I used to glitterize a lot of my things with glitter powder and hair spray. Today, I use it for the most random things, like killing mosquitoes, making fresh flowers last longer without wilting, fixing charcoal and pastels on paper, and shining leather shoes.

You see? It’s a magic product.

I love hair spray.

On May

Breathe. It’s summer again.

6sistersister
Sister, sister

5peeps
My lovelies

5bilo
Once a nerd, always a nerd.

5vinaigrette
Sushi at Vinaigrette

5gmail
With love from Gmail

5brothers
Brothers are funny

5calendar
Yeah!

Pictorial Archive of Life

2007: On March | On April | On May | On June | On July | On August | On September | On October | On November | On December

2008: On January | On February | On March | On April | On May | On June | On August On September | On October | On November

2009: On July  | On August | On September | On October | On November | On December

2010: On January | On February | On March | On April | On May | On June | A Captioned July An UnCaptioned August  | On September  | On October | On November | On December

2011: On January  |  On February   |   On March   |  On April  |  On May  |   On July

2012: On April | On May | On June | On July | On August | On September | On October | On November | On December

2013: On January | On Februaury | On March | On April | On May | On June | On July | On August | On September | On October | On November | On December

2014: On January | On Februaury | On March | On April | On May

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