AndFarAway

A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: March 2016

How to Sound Smart When Presenting

This is hilarious.

[Review] I Really Enjoyed Batman vs. Superman: Critics Need to Chillax

Dude, really, everyone needs to chill out. I won’t go as far as amazing, but the movie was actually good.

A note, first: I have never been a movie or a TV person, but I’ve been a reader of both comic books and sci-fi/fantasy since I was a child.

Enter Batman vs. Superman. And some spoilers, but not really.

I entered the movie theater expecting a train wreck, because the Internet has been going APE SHIT CRAZY about how it is the worst comic book movie of all time. OF ALL TIME? The Internet is weird sometimes. In reality, I was pleasantly surprised to see an exciting, fun, and action-filled movie that has gotten me really excited about all the DC movies coming up.

I blame the drama on Nolan. Obviously, his Batman Trilogy is amazing, but Batman’s comic books are not that grim, nor are they so exceedingly double stuffed with messaging. The darkness worked well with Nolan’s trilogy, but it absolutely does not and should not have to set the tone for every new superhero movie.

That isn’t to say that Batman vs. Superman is perfect. Four things really pissed me off.
1. Batman is not a dumb-ass. He is the smartest guy on Earth.
2. Superman is not a grim, weak, and uncertain little boy (Come on, it’s SUPERMAN).
3. Lex Luthor is an evil genius, not a mentally-unstable madman.
4. BATMAN DOES NOT KILL.

But even with these blatant mistakes, the movie still is enjoyable, and I can’t believe I have to wait till May for the next comic-book movie.

The World Really Does Feel Like This

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Does Engineering Education Breed Terrorists?

I know, that question made me cringe, too.

But think about it. I’m not a sociologist, obviously, but in this country, it’s hard to miss the overlap between being ultra-conservative and being an engineer.

You just need to walk into any engineering department at the University of Jordan (aside from architectural engineering) or any corporate technology department to see how irrationally conservative engineers can be, compared to people who studied humanities or medicine.

I look at my own friends, too. Not a single one of my good friends has an engineering degree, which is saying something in a country that graduates the highest percentage of engineers in the MENA.

Enter this new book, “Engineers of Jihad: The Curious Connection Between Violent Extremism and Education”. The researchers began with a data set of nearly 500 Islamist extremists, almost all of them men. The researchers narrowed their list to 207 people who pursued higher education and whose majors could be determined. A pattern emerged: 93 of them, nearly 45 percent, had studied engineering. This frequency far exceeded what would be predicted statistically; among male college students from the 19 countries represented in the sample, fewer than 12 percent studied engineering.

You can read this article on Chronicle for more.

Teaching our kids art history, history, philosophy, and real literature will go a long way in ensuring that we don’t continue on this path of self-destruction. We need to teach our kids to empathize, to imagine, to create. We need them to get started on this really early, too.

Yes, math and science are essential. But I would argue that Plato, Picasso, and Alexander the Great are more essential for raising a future generation of Jordanians who are doers, makers, humanitarians, and thinkers.

A Letter from Our Protectors to Their Mothers

It’s hard to forgot that the brave men who protect our borders from the horrors of the countries around us have equally-brave mothers waiting for them each night. This video is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

Celebrating My Mother

We usually think of our mothers in the context of how wonderful they are to us. They made us who we are. We could have never been ourselves without them. They are the most loving creatures on earth. You get my point.

Today, on Mother’s Day, I want to step away from celebrating the wonderful Rula Dallal in her scope as my mother, and instead celebrate my unbelievable luck of having this amazing woman in my life.

My mother is an artist. When we were children, she taught art at schools and sold thousands of dollars’ worth of her beautiful paintings. Her appreciation of painting and art as well as her superb skills positively affected the lives of hundreds of people, thanks to her colorful murals on the walls of homes and schools.

My mother is a philosopher. When I think of her, I always imagine my her buried in a bunch of hardcover philosophy books, with a notebook and a highlighter, wearing her reading glasses. When I was a kid, I used to love listening to her debates on existence, on being, on knowledge, on religion, on everything.

My mother is a humanitarian. With her counseling, she has helped hundreds of people lead better lives. She is so patient, so kind, and so wise. She listen, she supports, and she gives back advice, whether she knows these people or not, with no judgement.

My mother is an entrepreneur. She started her own business a few years ago, and she is always running around making business deals, from meeting to meeting to meeting to meeting. It takes so much courage and perseverance every day, to do so.

My mother is the most fun person I know. When I was a kid, I always used to think that her ability to enjoy the moment so completely and unabashedly came with age. Then I became an adult and realized that it isn’t about age… it’s about my mother. She can do what most people can’t.

She is wise. She is fun. She is loving. She is brilliant. She is kind. She is strong. She is supportive. She is creative. She is loved.

That’s my mother, my amazing mother, who is so unbelievably wonderful in every sense of the word. An me? I’m just so lucky to have her.

Happy Mother’s Day, mama. I love you.

“Why is everyone so loud?”

One of the questions I always ask myself.

Sometimes, I want to escape and live somewhere really remote, away from people, just to escape their noise.

Or maybe move somewhere where it is considered absolutely rude and unacceptable to speak loudly, laugh loudly, and yell. The Arab world is probably the worst place on Earth for someone who hates noise.

More Private, More Reserved, More Skeptical

Sometimes I stop and wonder, what is it that made me more private, more reserved, and more skeptical over the years? Is it the wisdom of age, or the harsh reality of life? Is it that the Internet grew to include even more idiots, or that my tolerance to idiots has reached a limit? Is it because the romantic ideals of my youth have fizzled, or that time replaced that girl with a colder and harder woman? Is it because I am so busy these days that I have no time for creativity, or is it because I write so much at work that I’m totally brain dead when I get home? Or is it simply because people would rather read short status updates on Facebook than the long and meandering thoughts of strangers?

I don’t know.

Sometimes, I wish I went into research and academia. Would be nice to think of irrelevant things all day.

How to Eat with Pita Bread

We learn to use Arabic bread as a utensil from the day we’re born. I never thought about how freakin’ weird that is for non-Arabs until a short while ago, when a friend visiting the Arab world for the first time had a hard time having dinner with us.

It was really freakin’ weird for me, too. What do you mean you don’t know how to scoop that labaneh? No, you can’t eat zaatar with a fork – you must dip it in oil first then in zaatar. Shoving the bread in your mouth separately from the cheese really defeats the purpose of this whole dinner. Come on… it’s not THAT hard.

Of course, it makes sense… it’s like using chopsticks in East Asia. When I went to South Korea, I was totally awed by how Koreans can eat ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING with chopsticks, really fast. I mean, I’m really good with chopsticks, but you know, with regular food like sushi, noodles, or stir fry. I certainly can’t slurp my soup with chopsticks.

I guess it’s the same thing with Arabic bread?

As I was having my scooping breakfast of hummus this morning, I started wondering (and googling).

Do all Arabs scoop their food with bread, or is it something Levantine? Do any other cultures have similar eating habits? Is is actually harder than it seems to us, given that we were raised scooping? I didn’t find any interesting answers on the Internet, but I did find a blog with amazing illustrations of how to scoop bread. Looks hard, doesn’t it?

So funny.

Googling images also shows that the Internet absolutely does not understand eating with Arabic bread.

Searching for “Dipping with pita”:
dipping

Searching for “Eating with pita”:
eating

Searching for “Scooping with pita”:
scooping

The world is totally missing out. Must start a crusade to spread proper pita love.

Public Transport Map of Amman, Jordan

AmmanTransportMap

Finally! This is amazing work by Syntax.

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