Forty-Seven Ronin

The story begins with Asano, a samurai in the year 1701 who was invited to the court of a Japanese Lord. Everyone was hustling for an exaggerated reception of the Emperor’s envoy, when a court official insulted Asano by calling him a country boor with no manners. Asano was enraged and attacked him with a dagger, only to wound the court official in the face.

Drawing a sword in the castle is utterly forbidden, and for that Asano was ordered to kill himself by performing seppuku, making forty-seven samurai he mentored masterless, and craving for revenge.

Asano’s forty-seven ronins (the name for masterless samurai) were infuriated. They plotted to assassin the court official. After two years, they attacked him in his home. In the fierce struggle, one of the ronins was killed, and the battle ended with the decapitation of the court official’s head.

They rinsed the head, took it to the grave of their master and payed their respect, then took it back to the Lord’s court.

In the castle, and as they expected, they were all ordered to kill themselves by performing seppuku, ending the lives of the remaining forty six… (real story)

How’s that for revenge?

Have You Met Samir?

Last week I stumbled upon Share Beirut, an event around activism, hackerspaces, and culture. So I packed my bag and bought a ticket. There I stayed at my uncle’s and was often driven around the city by his personal driver, Samir.

Samir is a cool 54 years old ex-sailor with few words to share. Years ago when my uncle first met him he asked Samir how come he’s still not married. Samir mumbled “I forgot”. That’s when my uncle thought (in his own words) “This guy’s a keeper!”

One morning I asked Samir to take me to a quiet place for coffee so we headed to the Coniche (pictured above). There he started reminiscing about the region and pointed to an orange building across the road and said “there lived my fiancé in 1985”. I interrupted “So you were married?” he answered “No. She died.” There was a robbery down the building and she was looking from atop when the thugs washed the building with bullets, killing her on the spot. Few months later, he started a 23 years journey as an oceanic cargo sailor. From what I gathered he visited every country on the map.

With her, they used to sell newspapers on the same street we were looking at. He says the Saturday sales were enough to feed them for the whole week.

I loved Beirut. The underground night life is out of this world. The lively cafes. The graffiti. Absolute beauty and difficult to get over.

Bizarre Cyber World

While going through your monotone quiet day, you sit down and bring up your laptop.

You have entered this bizarre world of zombies caged behind firewalls, viruses seeking ring-0 power, and worms running away from silent daemons. A world that is full of backdoors, classified by neural networks, and indexed by crawling spiders.

Welcome to your computer.

The Elegance of Children's Books

I acknowledge that it is somewhat weird for an adult to have great admiration for children’s books, but I do. Get over it.

Take one into your hand and read through it slowly. The illustrations, the play on words, the creative adventures, and the lessons – carefully orchestrated for an astoundingly elegant work. The outcome is a simple creation that doesn’t relieve a pain or solve a problem, but generously give people joy, inspiration, and hope.

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. – Dr. Seuss, Oh! The Places You’ll Go

Unless someone like you cares an awful whole lot, nothing is going to get better. It is not. – Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

Oh, please don’t go – we’ll eat you up – we love you so! – Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

Listen to the mustn’t, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen to me. Anything can happen, child. Anything can be. – Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends

I read somewhere that Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland, suffered from migraine and epilepsy causing symptoms that are very similar to the more imaginative features in his novel.

Recently I watched The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, a movie about an entrepreneur’s journey in creating a fashion startup and the difficulties he faced in acquiring customers. Good movie. (note: the IMDB page promotes a slightly different pitch.)

I can totally see myself writing a children’s book: Ahmad wanted to go to space. Ahmad had everything in place. He built a rocket made of wood. He painted it bright red, he made it good.

مسبار الجزري

إنطلق صباح اليوم (السادس من أغسطس 2022) أول مكوك فضائي بإشراف و تنفيذ وكالة الفضاء الخليجية من منصة الإقلاع في مدينة الطيران القطرية, ليكون أول جهد عِلمي مُمول و مدبّر بالكامل من دول الإتحاد الخليجي.

يضم طاقم مكوك (الجزري) ثمانية من روّاد و رائدات الفضاء من مختلف دول العالم العربي. تنحصر مهمّة المكوك في تنفيذ سلسلة خطط إبداعية كخطوات مبدئية في إستعمار الإنسان لكوكب المريخ. تبدأ هذه السلسلة بتحفيز غلاف جوّي مستقر بإستخدام طحالب معدلة وراثياً تم تطويرها في مركز أبحاث البحر الأحمر, و يليها عملية معالجة للطبقات الجليدية القطبية.

يتوقع إكمال مهمة مكوك (الجزري) في تسعة أيام, و من المقرر البدء في الخطوة الثانية من البرنامج بإسم مكوك (الكِندي) في نهاية هذه السنة الميلادية لتجهيز البنية التحتية. و يأتي هذا البرنامج ضمن إستراتيجية إقليمية تطمح لتمكين الحياة الطبيعية للإنسان في الفضاء الخارجي.