Les Cendres De Carthage (Abdelaziz Belkhodja)

Last weekend I finished reading “Les Cendres De Carthage” (The Ashes Of Carthage) by Tunisian writer Abdelaziz Belkhodja.
This is the second book I’ve read by him, the first being “Le Retour De L’ElĂ©phant” (The Return Of The Elephant) that I read a few years ago.

This work of fiction revolves around an archaeological dig in the ancient city of Carthage, close to the capital of Tunisia, where the great ancient library of Carthage is discovered, then taking an unexpected twist into a thriller putting politicians and intelligence services from Tunisia and the United States face to face.

It’s style is a bit reminiscant of “The Da Vinci Code” in how the main character keeps digging up historic facts in his investigation to find the truth, but well this book was written well before “The Da Vinci Code” was ever released.

It’s also pretty obvious the writer has a fascination with Carthage and the history of Tunisia as both books I’ve read by him up to now build upon that in their storylines.

I liked this book, it’s an interesting and light read, plus the fact that it’s by a Tunisian and has Tunisia as a character gives it a little extra taste for me.

The Top 10 Dead (Or Dying) Computer Skills

I just came across an article on ComputerWorld that lists the top 10 dead or dying computer skills; the list goes as follows:

1. Cobol
2. Nonrelational DBMS
3. Non-IP networks
4. cc:Mail
5. ColdFusion
6. C programming
7. PowerBuilder
8. Certified NetWare Engineers
9. PC network administrators
10. OS/2

Wow, that list brings back a lot of memories of things I used to use or that I had on my list of things to check out, learn or use.

It’s amazing how much changes in so little time when it comes to the IT/Computer industry; but still we wouldn’t be where we are today without all those dead technologies and skills.
So personally, the list above has all my respect and admiration; May they all rest in peace.

Check the full article: The top 10 dead (or dying) computer skills.

Divide And Conquer

The colonial tactic of conquer and divide is being put to use on the Palestinians yet once again; initially in the Gaza Strip between Fatah and Hamas and now between the West Bank and Gaza.

[…]

Part of a conquer and divide strategy is timing. Why did Israel wait until this moment to consider Mahmoud Abbas a

Zimbabwe Wants Black-Run Firms

After farms, it’s now the turn of firms…

President Robert Mugabe’s government has published a bill to move majority control of “public companies and any other business” to black Zimbabweans.

The goal is to ensure at least a 51% shareholding by indigenous black people in the majority of businesses.

Zimbabwe’s official inflation is 4,500% but independent economists and retailers say it is really above 11,000% and picking up speed. With inflation levels that high and the country suffering from shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency; this really isn’t the time to make things even worse by applying the same policy that got the country there in the first place on its firms.

When the government seized control of land owned by white farmers, in its crazy effort for land distribution, no good came out of it, and all it did was trigger a sharp drop in production and exports of agricultural goods, thereby bringing the economy crushing down to its knees.

I’m not against land and farm redistribution, in fact I am all for it, and I too think it was unfairly distributed before, but such a move should be approached with much caution and years and years of planning; you don’t just wake up one morning, start kicking white zimbabwean farmers out of their homes and off their farms and giving it to people who mainly have no experience or resources to run a farm. Maybe a better way would have been to reorganize and redistribute as partnerships between the black and white zimbabweans, plan it through different phases, test it slowly and carefully on a small group and see how it affects the output of the farms, the quality, everything and then take decisions based on it.

But apparently some people don’t learn from their previous mistakes and want to go on applying them in other areas, further damaging the country and its dead economy.

Zimbabwe has a special place in my heart; I grew up there and made my first friends there; I lived some of the sweetest years of my life there; and I hold the dearest of memories of the country and its people; Somewhere deep inside of me, I still consider it a home to me.
This is why it pains me so much to see a country that was so great, beautiful and vibrant with some of the happiest people I’ve ever met, no matter how rich or poor they were, in a situation like the one it is in today.
I’m not one of those people who only looks to the bad side of things, Mugabe did some really good things for Zimbabwe over the years, but he and his government are obviously taking the wrong approach in all of this.

I truly wish for a better brighter future for Zimbabwe.

The Axis Of Evil Comedy

A couple of weeks ago while flipping around news channels, I came across an interview on Al-Jazeera with 3 Middle-Eastern American stand-up comedians from a group called “The Axis Of Evil”.
They showed some clips from their comedy tour performances and I was hooked; I ordered the DVD from Amazon the day after.

The Axis Of Evil is made up of: Ahmed Ahmed (Egyptian), Maz Jobrani (Iranian) and Aron Kader (Palestinian), with special guests depending on the show; on the DVD the special guest is Dean Obeidallah (Palestinian).
Other occasional special guests are: Sam Tripoli and Maysoon Zayid.

I got the hour-long DVD on Saturday, and up to now I’ve watched it over 3 times and my wife and I are already quoting bits and pieces of it; these guys are just so talented and hilarious. Their goal is to bridge the gap between the US and the middle east through comedy; they make fun of both sides and the relationship between them in a really cool and funny way.

I think their show is a great idea and I wish them all the best of luck; Comedy is one of the best ways to bring people together, making them able to look at themselves, laugh and realize how much alike they are and how stupid and small the differences that seperate them are.

I wish them all the best of luck with these shows; I personally can’t wait to get my hands on more of their material.

I couldn’t recommend this DVD enough for you; you have to buy it, you truly won’t regret it; it’s so much fun, you’ll just wish, like I did, that it was a bit longer.

For more information on them and tour dates, check out the official website: The Axis Of Evil Comedy.

if you’re interested, you can buy the DVD here: The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour DVD.

The Individual & The Tribe

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

Friedrich Nietzsche

US Increases Military Aid To Israel

The United States will increase its military assistance to Israel and sign a new agreement securing American aid to the country for the next decade, President George W. Bush announced Tuesday following his meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
(…)
Israel asked for a gradual increase in the aid over a 10-year period at the tune of $50 million per year. At the end of the 10 years, Israel will receive $2.9 billion annually in military assistance from the U.S.
Olmert told the president that an announcement on the increase in aid would be an expression of American support for Israel against the growing threats to its existence in the region.

[Source: Haaretz]

No Comment…

[Via: Houblog]

Ontario’s Alternative Energy Push

My respect for Canada has just gone up another notch…

A raft of subsidies and other incentives is making Ontario a hot spot for solar panel manufacturers and others in alternative energy.

This week, the province’s government announced a $610 million fund to develop a green technology industry and attract carmakers and solar panel makers. Municipalities will also be able to dip into a separate $206 million fund for retrofitting buildings.

Additionally, the province has unfurled programs that eliminate sales tax on Energy Star-rated lightbulbs and appliances for a year, offer homeowners up to about $4,689 to install energy-efficient appliances, and set a goal to see 100,000 homes go solar. A pilot program will also extend zero-interest loans to homeowners who install renewable energy systems. These build on other programs designed to increase solar power demand.

Overall, Ontario wants to reduce greenhouse gas levels to 6 percent below 1990 levels by 2014, 15 percent below those levels by 2020, and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

[Source: CNet News]

And just across Canada’s southern border… Oh well, we all know the story…

Miltary Spending Rose 37% Over 10 Years

Military spending worldwide has risen by 37% over the past 10 years, reaching 1.204 Trillion dollars in 2006, according to the annual report published by SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) on June 11th.

The United States, with a spending of 528.7 Billion dollars in 2006, accounts for 46% of the total military spending worldwife, way ahead of all the other countries.
Right behind the US are the UK and France that both account for 4 to 5 % of the worldwide miltary spending in 2006.
The top 15 countries in the list alone account for 83% of the global budget.

Arms sales by the 100 top arms manufacturers in the world rose by 3% over 2005, reaching 290 Billion dollars.

I bet all these countries explain that all these arms are for security and safety reasons; what’s truly ironic is that over the past 10 years that military spending has risen by 37%, safety and security has dropped by so many times more than that!
The world is certainly not getting any safer!
So isn’t it clear yet that the more weapons we have, the less safe we become?

Imagine if a sum as big as that or even a fraction of it was invested in development projects, education, fighting poverty, building trust and better international relations, spreading understanding, or mediating between conflicting sides for example; I’m sure the world would be a much safer and better place for us all to live in.

The only people who win from this all are the arms manufacturers, but the loss is that of the whole of humanity!

[Via: Je Blog]
[Source: Le Monde]

The Seven Deadly Sins & Me

I just came across this quiz by way of Roba, by way of Tololy, which rates you on the Seven Deadly Sins; here’s how I did:

Greed: Medium
 
Gluttony: Medium
 
Wrath: Medium
 
Sloth: High
 
Envy: Medium
 
Lust: Very Low
 
Pride: Medium
 

Interesting…
I do confirm the “Sloth” part, I’m one of the laziest people alive; working on it though.

Take the Seven Deadly Sins Quiz