Monday, July 23, 2007

Govermnent Is Investigating

Every once in a while, I read the something along the line:

"Government is investigating the use of Nuclear energy"

"Government is studying the feasibility of XYZ"

The main problem with this is that the Government is always investigating this or that, but more often than not, if you fast forward 5years later, you will find out that the investigation leads to no action.

What is even worse is that the government revisits certain issues with a new fully fledged investigation as if no previous investigation(s) took place. I call this reinventing the wheel.

In many instances plugging the new numbers into the old formulas would be sufficient. For example, let us say that wind energy was not a good idea when oil prices were in the teens of dollars, and the payback period was something like 20years. Using the new oil prices in the same old formulas would yield a payback period of say around 7.5 years. Of course, I am oversimplifying here.

But no, we need to waste tax payer's money, so we have to do a completely new study every 5 years.

Ok, I seem to have digressed a bit, so what I want to talk about is the issue of Jordan investigating Nuclear energy. I was very annoyed when I found out that Jordan is serious about this. Yes nuclear energy is nice, is environmentally friendly( if there is no Chernobyl like leakage), and in the long run is cheap to produce. But the question is, is it for Jordan?

Jordan is not the kind of country that can make huge investments in large chunks. For a country of Jordan's financial situation, it makes more sense to make a small investment of say 50-100million every year in renewable energy sources like wind energy.

Three years ago, I had to quote a 1MW wind energy converter. It was for around 380000 Euros. Using the logic from above, the government can choose to buy 1, 2, or even 100 units, in one year, and then maybe zero units in the following year and then maybe 50 in the year following that and so on and so forth.

Due to the relatively small price tag, there is a lot of flexibility in mixing and matching. Add to this the fact that the price of wind energy is going down every year and wind energy converters are becoming more efficient year over year, then you see that you will be getting more bang for your buck as time goes by.

Now with Nuclear energy, it is a one time investment, and no flexibility exists whatsoever. As for getting more bang for your buck over time, this may or may not be true. But in all likelihood the next Nuclear plant for Jordan will be installed 10-20 After the first one.

Two other things come time to mind regarding nuclear energy. It is putting one's single egg in a single basket, which would not come in handy in case Jordan ever needed to go to war. And there is also the fact that Nuclear Energy requires technical knowledge which Jordan currently lacks. I do not know about you, but it has been a while since I heard about a local nuclear scientist. And I do not want my countries' Nuclear plant to be run by some Pakistani nuclear scientist.

Since almost nothing does come out of these government investigations, instead of wasting time and money trying to invest in new energy whether it is wind or nuclear, things can be done in the here and now and with almost no cost to make use of what we currently have; government can change new building codes to require mandatory insulation(that alone saves more than 30% in cooling costs.) The government can issue a ban on incandescent lamps starting 2010. The government can pass a minimum standard for energy efficiency for industrial facilities or office buildings. It can turn itself, or Jordan as a whole green.

Speaking of the latter, two months ago, I read that Dubai was considering going green. So why not us? Why not beat them to the punch? The only thing it takes is legislative effort.
Going green does pay for itself. I can speak about this from first hand experience; my 3 compact florescent lamps and solar water heater already paid for themselves and it does show in my electricity and fuel bills .

Labels: ,

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Ultimate Promotion for Jordan

I sort of could not believe myself when I stumbled on to this:

Actually I could since I know that most foreigners who live(d) here think highly of Jordan.

Anyway, it would be cool if the government used this to promote health services in Jordan.

Personally, I would not go as far as promoting large scale operations, only none-invasive medical tests(blood tests, X-ray, MRI, CT, bone density, urtherograms, uro-flowmetry, venus doppler, etc) and the occasional "scopies." I would only promote large scale operations when we have real medical malpractice law.

Also I hope that medical costs can be kept in check, or we might just become like the US and A.

And that lady in the video is cute. Hehe.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Democracy and Secularism

I was very annoyed when I learned that in a recent poll, 83% of respondents considered Secularist extremism a bigger danger to democracy than Islamic extremism.

I am not very surprised by the results, because as I watched the AL-Jazeera TV show in which the poll was discussed, I discovered that there is a lot of confusion regarding what Secularism is really about. The confusion was apparent throughout the discussion by both guests, one of which was a "secularist thinker" based in the middle east and the other was a "Muslim fundamentalist" based in London.

The confusion largely arose from mixing the concept of Atheism with Secularism. Because of this mix-up of concepts, the Muslim fundamentalist kept accusing the other guy of being an apostate and kept "giving" him chances to repent and go back to Islam.

While many atheists are Secularist, there are many instances were Secularism does not mean Atheism; "believers can be, indeed have often been, enthusiastic supporters of secularism as a political principle, while remaining firm religious believers."

Let me give one small example, very close here at home, my mother who prays 5 times a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year does not support anything resembling the Saudi regime and it's version of an Islamic state. She thinks, that it is the wrong version of Isalm and prefers the milder and more secular version we have here in Jordan. This view is not limited to my mother, and is shared by many people who consider themselves religious, while at the same time not supporting a Saudi style Islamic state.

As for my interpretation of the poll results, I think the respondents' idea of "secularist extremism" is based on what they currently have for governments, i.e. mainly "Secular" Dictatorships. And considering the fact that most of the respondents are not happy with the existing Arab regimes, it makes a lot of sense that they would prefer the alternative, which in this case is "Islamic extremism."

An Islamic Dictatorship is as bad as a secular one. The main problem here is not in Secularism. The fact that Dictatorships in the Arab world happen to be Secular is only incidentals. How do we know this? We know this because the "real" democracies in the world are more secular leaning. So we can conclude that the problem is mostly with dictatorship and not with "Secularism;" Secularism is not an enemy of Democracy.

I know it gets good viewership ratings when Al-Jazeera has a show with the title "Isalmic extremism vs. Secular extremism, which one is hurting democracy?" but things are not as simple as that, it is not an either/or kind of thing. One shoe does not fit all; individual Arab states, might have some success with various degrees of hybridization. Having semi-secular and Semi-Islamic implementations.

Labels: , ,

Friday, July 06, 2007


Every once in a while I stumble on some terrible Fatwa(edict) by some Saudi, Pakistani, or Egyptian cleric. Let me give a few examples:

* "Fatwa against production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons." What is the point?

* Fatwa Against Terrorist Acts in Spain.

*A fatwa proclaiming trademark counterfeiting ‘The crime of the 21st century." This was a tactic used by Proctor and gamble to combat counter fitting in Saudi or some other Muslim country (2005)

* "Woman can only be left alone with a strange man if she breastfeeds him."(2007. This one was withdrawn by the mufti in question after some uproar. I found this in Black Iris's page)

*"Muslims should not play soccer like the Europeans do because it violates the Prophetic tradition (hadith) against imitating Christians and Jews"

Some specifics of this last fatwa:

"One should not use the terminology established by the non-believers and the polytheists, like: 'foul,' 'penalty kick,' 'corner kick,' 'goal,' and 'out of bounds.' Whoever pronounces these terms should be punished, reprimanded, kicked out of the game, and should even be told in public: 'You have come to resemble the non-believers and the polytheists, and this has been forbidden.'" (2005)

And one can find hundreds of other examples.

What did the Fatwas of these clerics bring to Islam or to Muslims?

Did they improve the lives of Muslims?

Did they help them progress?

Really, what is the point of a post hoc fatwa like the one about terrorism in Spain? Did terrorism stop elsewhere after it was issued? It looks like it was issued for political reasons.

Did these Fatwas help people go to "heaven" or avoid "hell."

Or did these Fatwas damage the image of Muslims all over the world, and create many enemies for Islam?

In this modern age, I see very little value in the ramblings of the mostly illiterate clerics (they sure can read, but they do not comprehend). I think the individual at this point in time can and should judge for himself. The need for fatwa probably arose at a time when few people could read, had access to books, or had any education in logic or moral philosophy.

With the wide spread literacy and availability of massive amounts of information at libraries and on the internet, the question of availability of resources has been rendered moot.

The only thing that I would call for is a proper education in moral philosophy to equip the person to make a sound judgment.

In my opinion it does not help if the Muftis doing the fatwas are better educated or if they have higher IQs. I have a problem with the fatwa concept as a whole being done by a third party(the mufti) and I would rather leave things up to the individual after education in moral philosophy as well as scriptures.

I would much rather see something similar to Protestantism happen to Islam; with Protestantism, the hold of the Catholic Church and papacy was significantly reduced. Similarly, I would like the same thing to happen to the Fatwa centers in Mecca and Cairo; I would like to see their hold on people shrivel, I would like to see more and more people thinking for themselves.

However, if people want to stick to fatwas (their problem), then there should be some sort of acid test to prevent the above mentioned fatwas from making it out of the fatwa center; something like:

*If it does not make sense to 70% of the people, then it should be discarded.


*If 70% of the people think the fatwa is retarded, then this fatwa should be withdrawn.

Of course, this would require testing the fatwa beforehand, using statistical sampling methods, on a sample of the general public to determine if it is palatable or not.

This should be done even if the fatwa in question had Hadiths to back it up, or if it was issued by the most distinguished Islamic scholar(s). Ultimately, religion has to make sense to it's adherents.

Anyway, if things were up to me I would issue a new "Fatwa" banning all other "Fatwas" excluding mine :-)


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Online dating, Jordanian Style

I noticed that to a majority of Jordanian women, online dating consists of the following

#1 Creating a profile on Myspace or Facebook, with or without a picture, or even with a fake picture(of a baby, Nancy Ajram, Elisa, Haifa Wahbi, a semi-naked Western female, a flag etc)

# 2 Leaving the profile blank

#3 hoping that the guy of her dreams would like her picture(or that of Haifa Wahbi) and would contact her to ask for her hand in holy matrimony.

Of course, I am not making things up and I have statistically valid data to prove it

o Out of 82 profiles(the sample size) for single females on facebook, only 33 bothered to write any thing

o Out of 30 profiles(the sample size) for single females on Myspace, only 15 bothered to write anything.

This tells me one of two things about this sample:

o 50-60% of the sample does not know how to fill a profile, maybe due to linguistic deficiency.


o 50-60% of the sample, views themselves as a "beautiful" women with nothing to say or intrinsic value to reflect, nothing to contribute. Just a Barbie, a Brittany Spears of sort, with no brains to go with the looks.

Either way, this is a sorry state of affairs.

Considering the sample size is statistically big enough, I can say with some confidence that what applies to this sample applies also to the larger population pool.

To be fair, I am willing to bet that profiles of guys on the internet will only perform slightly better. Maybe there is stuff written in the profile, but in all likelihood the content itself is crap. Hence the usual complaint of women about descent men being in short supply.

I also expect these numbers to change a bit one or two years down the line for the following reasons:

A) Thanks to this blog post :-)

B) Linguistic deficiency is likely to decrease

C) Hopefully, more women will have content to write.


Blogarama - The Blog Directory, The World's Blog Aggregator
electronic health record system
electronic health record system