Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Musicians from the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra Orientalize Hip Hop on British TV

The program is Later... with Jools Holland, a late night music television show on BBC2, and the day was yesterday.

Musicians from the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra made the appearance on the show, as reported today by Alex Young of the American music publication Consequence of Sound, and performed "White Flag" with British band Gorillaz. White Flag is the third song in the newly released album by Gorillaz, Plastic Beach. In the album, the song is listed as "White Flag (Feat. Bashy, Kano And The National Orchestra For Arabic Music)"

Without further ado, here is "White Flag":

During the live performance, a video of a whirling dervish was showing with Arabic-language phrases that the computers at BBC2 could not display correctly! The words were written from left to right in disconnected letters. The phrases meant to say the following:

Ana Lastu Hatha أنا لست هذا (I'm Not This)

La Youjad Illa Wahed لا يوجد إلا واحد (There's Only One)

wal-Kull Huwa Nahnu والكل هو نحن (And The Whole Is Us)

You can listen to the album Plastic Beach for free, courtesy of The Guardian,  through this link.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It is Earth Day! Take some action!

If you are reading this, then you probably already know today is Earth Day. In today's world in which many of us pretty much eat, drink and breath online, there is very little chance not to know what "Day" it is today. So, let me paraphrase .. if you are alive, you probably already know that today is Earth Day!.

How can one not know it is Earth Day when Google's logo looks like this today? 

As I write this, "Happy Earth Day" is the top Trending Topic on Twitter, worldwide 

Every day in the morning, I stop to buy hot tea before heading to the office to start working. I work at the Health Sciences Centre (HSC) in Winnipeg. In most days, the hall in front of the gift shop next to the Thorlakson Building has a variety of stands that sell different things. One of the tables today featured a small exhibit by the "HSC Energy Management Program" on the occasion of Earth Day.

The poster presentation lists 10 actions and encourages the reader to "start with one ..." .. I took out the iPhone and took quick snapshots of the actions. Take a look .. How many of these do you do? 

Happy Earth Day! 

Friday, April 9, 2010

Jumblatt Said

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Many Syrians have been irritated in the past few years by statements that the leader of the Progressive Socialist Party and prominent leader of the Druze community in Lebanon, Walid Jumblatt, said regarding Syria.  Some of the statements were quite provocative to say the least.  It is perplexing to many of us how Mr. Jumblatt changes his positions so dramatically and talks about opposite things with the same passion on two different but very close occasions.  But let's enjoy the moment for now as the tide in Mr. Jumblatt's thinking these days happens to be in Syria's favor.

The most recent episode started when Mr. Jumblatt declared on Al Jazeera Arabic (in the March 13, 2010 episode [Ar] of the program Hiwar Maftouh, or Open Dialogue) that his previous remarks were "indecent, out of context and go beyond the political manners".  About two weeks later, Mr. Jumblatt traveled to Damascus to meet the Syrian President.

Imad Marmal of the Lebanese Arabic-language newspaper As-safir wrote a piece [Ar] today quoting Jumblatt saying that he has regained his "inner peace" by his reconciliation with Damascus.  I find some of the other quotes by Jumblatt interesting. Here are some
«A personal and political solicitude has been taken off my shoulders»
«همٌ شخصي وسياسي أزيح عن كاهلي»
«In all honesty I have to say that [President al-Assad] won the battle of the past 5 years with all its Lebanese, regional and international challenges» 
 «والصراحة تقتضي الاعتراف بأنه انتصر في معركة السنوات الخمس الماضية وتحدياتها اللبنانية والاقليمية والدولية»
«Forget the issue of [Hezbollah's] weapons .. this is not the time»
«يطلعوا منها قصة السلاح.. هذا ليس وقتها» 
«بلا طعمة» 
[Addressing the issue of Hezbollah's weapons, that is]

In his piece [Ar] Marmal alludes to the technical glitch in the brakes of Mr. Jumblatt's car on his way back to Beirut from Damascus and how Mr. Jumblatt was initially worried about it.  But his worries dissipated when he remembered that the accompanying car ahead of him was a Hezbollah car.  Jumblatt was laughing when he told Marmal about that "technical detail".  But the screaming symbolism in this story did not escape Marmal: Hezbollah has become a personal and political "security valve" for Mr. Jumblatt.  Marmal also writes that Jumblatt has become ecstatic about his reconciliation with Syria.  Jumblatt's reconciliation "was not only with Damascus, but also with himself and with his history."

In the March 13, 2010 episode [Ar] of "Open Dialogue", program host Ghassan bin Jiddo alluded to Mr. Jumblatt's flip-flopping in his introduction using a very politically-correct language:  Mr. Jumblatt is "a generator of variable felxibility peculiar to him«ولّاد مرونةٍ متحولةٍ خاصةٍ به».  What is the next position that will come out from Mr. Jumblatt's "variable flexibility"? Your guess is as good as mine.