society

Evolutionary transcendence of the sexual condition

One of the human weaknesses is that we only desire what we cannot have or fear to lose. Some prescriptive philosophies aim at curtailing desire in its various forms, or even in its abstract expression. Most if not all of these attempts are doomed to failure. A glaring example is the sexual revolution that we've been experiencing since the 1960s.

On the interpretation of scriptures

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Religious scriptures are interpreted by men. Regardless of the fidelity of the original message, much transformation happens in the process, until it finally reaches the practiotioners of the religion.

Each person performing an interpretation along the chain, however minute the source fragment and the area of application, necessarily injects his or her own value system and mental model into the interpretation.

Gravebook

People die. When netizens or their relatives die, it is natural to want to preserve their memory, just like we do in physical life. So far, I have mostly seen Facebook groups that are dedicated to the memory of the departed, usually created by a friend of theirs. This space allows for people who knew the deceased to stop by and leave a comment. But as the Internet gets older, and generations of netizens come and go, it will be necessary to build a better infrastructure for Web cemeteries.

The plague

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Reading about the closing down of Mexico because of the swine flu resonated with Albert Camus' book I recently re-read, called "The Plague". It was a striking description of the psychological disruptions that occurred in society because of an epidemic. Even the obviously ludicrous comments made by the religious establishment, in that book, were mirrored in real life by some clerics in Egypt invoking the wrath of God as a cause for the flu.

The plot to destroy Egyptian identity

Try a little experiment: stand in the middle of any Cairene street and loudly call for Mohamed, in a tone that indicates familiarity and slight irritation. Chances are, a large portion of the male population will look to respond to you.

Now a harder experiment: obtain the student roster of Cairo University and in a randomly chosen class, count the number of names made up of combinations of Ahmed and Mohamed: a large percentage again. Look at the rest: mostly made up of combinations of first names.

Social ethics of the Internet

The Internet is defining new social ethics: they are called Netiquette.The most well-known instance is email etiquette. I recommend those short email etiquette guides.

What are ethics?

The would-be revolutionary

What do you do when your government exerts a regime that is unacceptable to its people, and to you as a citizen? The historic thing to do is to start or participate in a revolution, but that can only be a temporary event, after which we must attain a better sociopolitical state. It helps to have a desired state in sight beyond the revolution.

This vision, or cause, is what must be supplied in order to rally the people, who are in everyday life a scattered, non-cooperative bunch.

Participatory culture

I often feel like a cultural black hole. Engulfing and consuming large quantities of culture, music, movies, books, and yet never producing any of it myself. Does it just get wasted inside? Well, I talk about it :-)

The Internet is promoting a new kind of culture that is more inclusive. To me, YouTube is the most glaring example: everyday people producing audio/video material, mostly out of their own time and effort, that addresses any topic that concerns them. Sometimes using it for commercial self-promotion, and that's part of the point too.

Ripe material for a conspiracy theorist

Before me, on public TV, is unfolding live the fire of the Egyptian Parliament's building.

The Nile News channel is filming the building on fire. Here's what I learn:

10:30pm (Egypt time, GMT+3)

  • the fire started at 5:45pm.
  • it is now 10:30pm and the fire is still going strong inside the building.
  • the explanation for the rapid spread is that the strong wind and the wooden structure did it.

An open email to the American people

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Dear American,

We need your help. Us, your neighbours around the world, have always admired your industriousness, ingenuity, and spirit of enterprise. We absorb your music, your movies, your language, fashion, books, your science and technology, and enjoy all of them while thanking you for it in sympathy. In return, we like to offer you what we're proud of in our own culture. We dream of your beautiful country, so vast and varied, where dreams can be realized. Because we also have dreams we want to realize, very similar to yours. Indeed, many of us have settled in your country to realize their dreams and their true potential. So you see, we look up to you in many ways.

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