01 June, 2007


Debates will be held in New Hampshire over the next few days between the numerous presidential candidates from the two major political parties in this country. Try to contain your excitement. These practiced, polished, and packaged events are rarely surprising or truly enlightening. However, I'll be watching simply because the field of candidates is so huge and I am willing to listen to what each is selling at this point.

Maybe you'll be paying attention, but how do you engage others in the process?

One trick that's worked well for me is to make the process fun. Because let's face it, the candidates and their handlers certainly won't.

The idea for debate bingo came to me in college. It's a simple and fun way to get your friends to watch and listen to what the candidates are saying. Make a bingo sheet with as many rows and columns as you want. Instead of letters and numbers, fill in the spaces with catchphrases, topics you are interested in, anything you expect to hear during the debate. During the 1996 campaign each card had a space with "Bob Dole refers to self in 3rd person". In the 2000 race some cards had "Lockbox" in honor Al Gore or "gets squinty and patronizing when challenged" for George W. Bush. Filling your cards means you have to do your homework, too. Print them off, invite your friends over, and off you go. Please people, pay attention this time!


The 'Rare American Imam'

It's late and I have to get up early to help out at Om-Taromeet's elementary school on the last day of the school year, so I don't have anything rich to add for now. However, I did want to share this article from the New York Times about the need for and evolution of the "Rare American Imam", which makes them sound like they're found in game preserves and zoos.

HijabMan, are you listening? We need you! And your balloons!


29 May, 2007

ممنوع التدخين

No smoking means NO smoking.
Not even narghile/ناركيله , sheesha/شيشه, whatever you want to call it.
It's ALL bad for you. (cough, hack...) And me.


Readings and updates and Dino

Desperate Iraqi Refugees Turn to Sex Trade in Syria

And, in case you missed it a few weeks ago....The Flight From Iraq.
(be sure to look through the multimedia elements, too)

Also, a WHO update on the situation inside Nahr al-Bared and humanitarian responses.

And roughly 4 years and 200,000-500,000 deaths later, President Bush announces new sanctions against the Sudanese government. Because the sanctions already in place had been working so well. And we all know how well sanctions worked in the past in other places. What about sanctions against the enablers?

By the way, the not-so-shocking results of the Syrian referendum were announced...No need to change those welcome signs. It's still Assad's Syria.

Oh, and can I just toss a comment out on this? Here's one response. In addition to everything else the museum is claiming there were dinosaurs on Noah's ark. I used to work on dive boats and we refused to let people bring bananas on board because of the inevitable mess and hazards. Can you imagine what kind of a mess a dinosaurs would cause, two by two? Maybe that's why there are no more unicorns. They say they are interpreting the Bible literally, yet there are no dinosaurs mentioned in the Bible. Om-Taromeet told me last night that when she toured the Mormon museum at Temple Square in Salt Lake City a few years ago she was told dinosaurs never existed. She politely raised her hand and asked the young woman leading the tour if she had visited the Utah Museum of Natural History, with extensive paleontology exhibits and just down the street, or DINOSAUR National Monument in Vernal, Utah. The young woman simply responded, "Well, they're wrong." The new museum also supposedly sports a "light-skinned" creationist and a "dark-skinned" evolutionist. I guess black hat/white hat was too simplistic. To me, this isn't about religion so much as politics in the US these days.


27 May, 2007

Referendum Day

Asma al-Assad, wife of
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad casts her vote.
(photo from Middle East Online)

Technically, it's probably over by now, but today was the day for the national referendum on President Bashar Al-Assad. Opposition has called for a boycott. I don't want to spoil the ending, but I suspect they'll not need to change the signs at the border and airport welcoming you to "Assad's Syria". Just a guess. The parliament is to announce the results on Monday. There are plenty who can speak to it better than I and I look forward to reading their responses over the next few days.

Meanwhile in Lebanon, all but forgotten in the US news cycle except for the mention of hastily proffered US military aid, the situation remains critical in Nahr al-Bared. The Lebanese Army is supposedly refusing to allow aid into the camp and there is an action being organized for tomorrow outside the camp by relief workers trying to get aid to residents remaining inside. Also, be sure to read the latest from Electronic Intifada and Palestine for Us. Remember, just because it doesn't make the news doesn't mean it's over.



According to the BBC, one of Iraq's leading calligraphers, Khalil al-Zahawi, was shot dead outside his home in Baghdad on Saturday. I am not an expert on calligraphy and was not familiar with his work. What does the loss of an artist mean to a country which has lost so much already? Why was he targeted? I don't know....It just leaves me sad.