February 27, 2009

Are You Prepared?

Can't wait to hear radio stations refer to snow as الزائر الأبيض (the white visitor)

Or to watch JTV for that one time a year when your satellite dish has accumlated snow and doesn't receive any other channels.

Or to watch everything come to a halt regardless of whether it actually does snow. The anticipation of snow is enough to do that here.

Or to call the electric company 15 times a day to get them to send someone to fix that wire across the street.

I love this time of year!

February 20, 2009

Why Smoking Bans Will Be Ignored

When the Parliament, the place where "representatives" of the people create laws , implements a smoking ban, maybe people will start taking this a little more seriously.

February 15, 2009

A Jordanian Valentine

HAHAHAHA! That would be a donkey painted red in Ramtha to make fun of people's obssession with Valentine's Day.

Poor donkey.

February 11, 2009

The Assassination of Khalid Mashaal

This is a story that has always fascinated me. It sounds like a plot taken out of some espionage movie but happened right here in Jordan, and fairly recently as well: in 1997 (though I have no recollection of it at the time). Before the expulsion of the Hamas movement from Jordan, Mashaal, currently chairman of the movement, was the chief of the Jordanian branch and resided in Amman. He was the target of an assassination attempt under orders of then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But what’s weird is that I stumbled across two completely different accounts of the actual attempt. Behold:

Scenario 1: Mossad agents, in the country posing as Canadian tourists, broke into a home where Mashaal was sleeping and injected a deadly poison into his neck. Jordanian authorities arrested two of the ten agents who were engaged in the attempt. [Source: Wikipedia]

Scenario 2: And this is the story that I had previously heard. This one took place in broad daylight. On September 25th, 1997, two Mossad agents brushed past Mashaal on his way to office and attached a device to his ear that unleashed the poison into his body. The agents quickly got into a getaway car but were captured by the police after being cornered by Mashaal’s bodyguard. They were found to be carrying Canadian passports which turned out fake. [Source: The American Jewish Yearbook 1998]

Both scenarios had the same ending though. As Mashaal lay dying in a hospital bed, a furious King Hussein demanded that Israel deliver the antidote to the untraceable poison, which at first Netanyahu refused but then turned over after increasing pressures, and Mashaal survived the attempt.

The Mossad agents in custody were later released in exchange for the release of Ahmad Yassin, the founder of Hamas who was serving a life sentence in an Israeli prison. The entire episode helped Mashaal’s rise to power in the movement.

Pretty fascinating, huh?

It's pretty ironic that if Netanayahu wins, he would have to deal once again with the same man he tried to kill.

February 7, 2009

In Remembrance

"All what we hope for is that a day will come, when we have all gone, when people will say that this man has tried, and his family tried. This is all there is to seek in this world."

King Hussein (1935-1999)

February 5, 2009

A Thought

Just like we wouldn’t label a child as liberal or conservative, democrat or republican, shouldn’t we, by the same logic, refrain from labeling children as Muslim, Christian or Jewish? If they are too young to understand politics, aren’t they just as young to understand religion? You could argue that while politics is something one would choose, religion is not. But shouldn’t religion, something that determines one’s way of life, be taken out of conviction and not by inheritance?

I’m not looking to start a discussion on religions here, I am merely pointing out the absurdity in labeling children of a certain religion, or in teaching them JUST their parents’ religion.

February 4, 2009

Critical Thinking

  • What is critical thinking?

The disciplined process in which you analyze, reflect and apply prior knowledge (making connections and using schema) to get the best answer possible. It's about learning "how" to think rather than "what" to think.

  • Why is critical thinking important?

All actions, decisions and judgments spring from assumptions-if they are unchecked or inappropriate, we will make poor decisions and wrong judgments.

Answer with a yes or a no: (think of it first before you check the answer!)

Police: Sorry, but only people with a special ZZ permit can park here

Driver: Well, since I have a ZZ permit, that means I can park here.

Is the driver right?

When the police officer told the driver, "Sorry, but only people with a special ZZ permit can park here," the driver thought "Well, since I have a ZZ permit, that means I can park here." But, as it turns out, the driver is incorrect in thinking that this follows. Now, can you explain WHY the driver's inference was faulty?

Answer: the important little word here is 'only.' When the parking policy is that only those with a ZZ permit can park in the lot, that means that having a ZZ permit is necessary in order to park there, but it doesn't state that having a ZZ permit is a sufficient condition to park there. So, while the driver may have met one condition for parking in the lot, there may be other conditions that are yet unmet that are barring them from parking. The word 'only' is quite technical. When the IRS says "only those who have done such-and-such are eligible for a deduction," that doesn't mean that doing such-and-such automatically gets you that deduction. Knowing how the word 'only' behaves is very important!

A whole bunch of other tricky questions here.