Too bad I can’t remember what led me to this site, khowaga, which is having an orientalist-writes-about-the-Egyptian-revolution contest. The entries have me giggling. Won’t you try your hand?
A couple excerpts from the current entries:
In fact, I have omitted a final sorrow: the Arab world’s crippling inability to think for itself. Such a problem is hardly unique to the Arab world; it has afflicted the Persians and the Turks for centuries, and even of late some once-noble peoples, such as the French. Lack of thought is a widespread problem through the darker part of the globe, sad as it may be to admit such things. This final failing of the Arabs is perhaps their most injurious, since it prevents them from altering any one of the other four. In a tragic irony, we can see the evidence of this even in the recent events that the fatuous have dubbed “the Egyptian revolution.”
and from a different entry:
Just as we might define ourselves in the west as right, free and true, the Mohammetan would gladly define himself as wrong, indentured and usually false. This lack stems not from an ugly geography, for the desolation of the desert inspires even the savage, but rather from a nature of imbalanced humors surfeited with excess yellow bile, too little sanguine, and only a hint of melancholia and phlegm! How can democracy grow without sufficient phlegm, after Aristotle? No one is adequately prepared to answer that question until about one month after zero oil output is reached.
Wajahat Ali has a very funny and also enlightening piece over at Loonwatch about finding a place to pray in public without making a spectacle of oneself. It answered some of my lingering questions about how Muslims accomodate their daily prayers in a community that isn’t set up for that.
A Muslim who prays in public is like James Bond, but without the bling, sophisticated gadgets and entourage of gorgeous women eager to bed him. Both brilliantly fail at every attempt at stealth. Like the fictional secret agent, a Muslim, despite his best intentions and clandestine efforts, sticks out like a pink elephant when forced to offer his ritualistic prayer, salat, outside the comforting cocoon of his home or mosque.
Instead, I discover I have 15 minutes left to pray the afternoon Asr prayer and I’m stuck in a crowded, Valley Fair mall in San Jose, Calif. Realizing that I’d probably be tazed and shot by Homeland Security if I decided to bust out my Arabic tai chi at the Orange Julius, I seek temporary refuge for my prayer woes in the most obvious location: the fitting room at the Gap.
And there are more illuminating anecdotes in the comments.
So there I was, avidly perusing the entries in the 2010 Dance Your PhD Contest, and wishing the clips were YouTube clips rather than Vimeo, since I can’t embed Vimeo competently. So I started searching on YouTube on some esoteric scientific titles, then I saw in the suggested videos one with some Arabic in the title, which I played, but it was lame, but there were more suggested videos, so I clicked on this one. And it’s pretty good. But it has nothing to do with anybody’s PhD, just a funny guy’s story of his conversion.
Meanwhile, here’s a PhD dance video about language. Unfortunately, this is only the link.
Dance as a vehicle for prejudice reduction and second language acquisition from Fuad Elhage on Vimeo.
If you go to the Gonzolabs page of PhD dance videos, I recommend my favorites (so far):
“The Quantum Ruler: Using Quantum Mechanics to make better measurements.”
“Cationic antimicrobial peptides derived from human seminal plasma inhibit HIV-1 infection.”
Plus check out the entry by a former(?) fellow Arabist, “The Concord of Collective Nouns and Verbs in Biblical Hebrew: A Controlled Study.”
I’m sure I miss some of the subtleties.
It’s been a while since I posted anything meaty; I don’t know good ideas aren’t coming to me lately. But I haven’t given up on this blog yet. Anybody want more cat pictures?
I am back from my sojourn, but without any fresh ideas. Here’s a cartoon found at Comics I Don’t Understand.
On the one hand, danger. But on the other hand…kittens!