AndFarAway

Online Since 2004.

How can you doubt climate change?

Snippets from New York Mag:

It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today.

Since 1980, the planet has experienced a 50-fold increase in the number of places experiencing dangerous or extreme heat; a bigger increase is to come.

By the end of the century, the World Bank has estimated, the coolest months in tropical South America, Africa, and the Pacific are likely to be warmer than the warmest months at the end of the 20th century.

As soon as several decades from now, the hajj will become physically impossible for the 2 million Muslims who make the pilgrimage each year.

By 2080, without dramatic reductions in emissions, southern Europe will be in permanent extreme drought, much worse than the American dust bowl ever was. The same will be true in Iraq and Syria and much of the rest of the Middle East; some of the most densely populated parts of Australia, Africa, and South America; and the breadbasket regions of China. None of these places, which today supply much of the world’s food, will be reliable sources of any.

Already last year, a boy was killed and 20 others infected by anthrax released when retreating permafrost exposed the frozen carcass of a reindeer killed by the bacteria at least 75 years earlier; 2,000 present-day reindeer were infected, too, carrying and spreading the disease beyond the tundra.

Some speculate that the elevated level of strife across the Middle East over the past generation reflects the pressures of global warming — a hypothesis all the more cruel considering that warming began accelerating when the industrialized world extracted and then burned the region’s oil.

There is a 12 percent chance that climate change will reduce global output by more than 50 percent by 2100, they say, and a 51 percent chance that it lowers per capita GDP by 20 percent or more by then, unless emissions decline. By comparison, the Great Recession lowered global GDP by about 6 percent.

Map of Amman from 1956

Here’s a really cool map from 1956. For more information, head over to Tobzeh.

How small the city was.

Black Mirror Sucks. Here’s Why.

First: I love science fiction. I love it much more deeply than most people you’ve met. I love it enough to have systematically read every single book published that has ever won a major sci-fi award (my favorite awards being the Hugos). I’m currently making my way through award nominees.

So, when people started talking about Black Mirror, a sci-fi show that made it to the mainstream, I was sort of excited. Fantasy (Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones) is a much easier mainstream sell, and I was eager to see this new sci-fi show that all my friends — even the ones who HATE sci-fi — were talking about.

That should have been a big enough hint for me to know that I would HATE Black Mirror.

As a life-long reader of science fiction, I love science fiction because it helps me formulate my thoughts around why. Why are we here? Where are we going? Is there anything else out there? 

Reading a good sci-fi book is like having a wonderfully intense discussion of philosophy, one where you wrestle with ethics, exploration, and survival. Good science fiction is never contrived. It lets you think, often not give you the answer. If anything, science fiction lets you understand the future. Not the dystopian future. All possible futures. It’s never about the shock value (that would be horror). 

And this is why I think Black Mirror sucks. 

At its heart, it’s a contrived “shock” show, without science fiction’s elegant thoughtfulness. It attempts to be philosophical, but in reality, it’s simply shallow and predictable, often depending on a sick twist to amuse the trigger-happy masses. It offers no revealing insights into our humanity, our future, or why we’re all here.
The worst thing about Black Mirror, though? Like many a recent political campaign, Black Mirror uses fear, invoking it in concrete and abstract ways, summoning it out of the general state of fear overlaying the world today. Cheap fear mongering, at a time when the world needs it least.

As a life-time lover of sci-fi, this makes me sad. If anything, science fiction is never about cheap fear. It’s never about making people hold on more tightly to what they have and regard the unfamiliar more warily. Quite the contrary, science fiction is often a warning message against how fear can turn humans into… well, what we’ve already turned into this year, I guess. 

And this is why Black Mirror sucks.

In case you ever wondered why cartoon characters wear gloves

To be honest, I never did.

But this is really cool, anyways.

Wild Delicacy: Hindbeh

One of my favorite dishes in the world is hindbeh. Aside from the wonderful flavor, I also love its simplicity: chopped leaves, lightly cooked with onions and lemon sauce, and drenched in olive oil. Yum.

Up until a couple of years ago, I never stopped to wonder where the leaves come from. And then I discovered that it’s literally dandelion leaves. You know, the stuff that grows between the tiles of the sidewalks of Amman.

Amazing how something so wild can turn into something so exquisite.

The Peculiarities of Language: ما تنكسني

Update: My brain totally punked me. Seems the connection between Arabic “Nakas (نَكَّسَ : فعل)” and English “Nix” is nonexistent. Pretty cool that the word means the same thing in three completely different languages!

I’ve been subconsciously wondering for a while if the word “Nix” (put an end to; “he nixed the deal just before it was to be signed”) comes from the shady presidency of Richard Nixon. My subconsciousness thought it must come from Nixon, because how other than politics would such a difficult English word make it into Jordanian vernacular?

Let me explain.

“Nakis” (literally, “to nix”) in Jordanian has a similar meaning to “Nix” in English. I am assuming it is unique to Jordan, but I honestly have no idea if other countries in the Levant use the word, too. A quick Google search looks super Jordanian:

Unfortunately for my curiousity, “Nix” is much older than Richard Nixon. It actually comes from from German nix, dialectal variant of nichts “nothing,” from Middle High German nihtes, from genitive of niht, nit “nothing,” from Old High German niwiht, from ni, ne “no” (see un- (1)) + wiht “thing, creature” (compare naught).

That means that “Nakes” somehow made it to our vernacular in a much more random way.

Any theories?

On Designing

I have always doodled and drew and written things out to understand, to remember, to make sense of information (and that’s the reason of my infographic obsession).

That’s how I studied as a child. That’s how my spelling became excellent. That’s how I work.

Things are not crystal clear until they’re laid out neatly in presentations. In images. In logical, ordered analogies.

That’s the beauty of training as a designer.

 

Chicken Nuggets

Previously:
Being Allergic to Chicken
Discovering that my Chicken Allergy is Gone
This Was the First Bite of Chicken in My Life
Second and Third Experiences: Good and Not So Good
Genius Marketing from Kalamazoo

After my bad experience last week, I finally gathered enough courage yesterday to have another bite of chicken.

My bad experience with the carrot reminded me of how the worst of my chicken allergies as a child were always from accidentally having chicken or chicken broth at home. Could it be that it’s something with the way we cook chicken at home? Not sure, but I’ll stick to not eating chicken at home until I figure it out.

Yesterday, I had two pieces of Nabil chicken nuggets, as recommended by my brother, Ghassan. Artificial enough to make me comfortable.

The taste was great – I really love deep-fried stuff. The texture was dry though, which I guess is to be expected from chicken nuggets. My tongue and mouth were slightly numb afterwards for a little while, but no more than that. I didn’t get any itching and my stomach was alright.

The Heat [AWESOME TUMBLR IMAGE]

The Arab lands are my home,

Poem by Fakhri Al-Baroud, translation my own,

“The Arab lands are my home,
from the Levant to Baghdad,
and from Najd to Yemen
to Egypt which engulfs me.

The Arab lands are my home.

No boundaries separate us,
and no religion differentiates us,
The “Al-Dhadh language” (Arabic) unifies us,
with the Ghassanids and the Adnanis.

We have an old civilization,
we will keep it alive even if it has been buried,
even if they stand in our way,
if they’re the most brilliant.

Rise, oh, my people,
to the highest levels of knowledge,
and sing, oh, sons of my mother,
the Arab lands are my home.”

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