RIP Steve Jobs

The world lost one of its few visionaries a few hours ago.

Today, we bid farewell to Steve Jobs, the man who single handedly moved the technological world into the future with his inventions: iPhone, iPod, iPad, Macbook…

Steven Spielberg has called Steve Jobs the “Thomas Edison of our times” and deservedly so. It’s very easy to imagine a world that didn’t have Steve Jobs – one where we’d all still be using phones with keypads that only serve their basic function, where our notebooks constantly crashed, where we didn’t feel inspired by a company  to advance in our lives and where we were content with what we had.

It’s very easy to criticize Apple. But it’s also very easy to look at what Steve Jobs did for Apple and the world and be amazed by how talented this man was and how great his achievements are.

Today we bid farewell to Steve Jobs. But the chapter in our history and present that Steve Jobs has opened will not close anytime soon. It will live on – just like the legacy of this man. It will never die.

Steve Jobs has been through the hardships of life. He was born for an out of wedlock couple, in a time where such a thing was frowned upon. He was put up for adoption. He dropped out of college. And yet, for someone who has been through so much, he sure left his mark in the world.

RIP Steve Jobs. The world will miss you. Thank you for being the great man that you are. Thank you for changing the world.

R.I.P Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment a few hours ago.

Is anyone surprised?

The 27 year old Grammy-winning singer has been “battling” substance abuse for years now. But can you really call it battling if she never seriously sought out to make herself better?

They say death should be revered. But how can you pay tribute to someone who had it coming for such a long time that when the news of her death broke out, no one was shocked.

It’s sad to see such a talent go to waste especially that this talent has only given the world only two critically-acclaimed albums: 2003’s Frank and 2006’s Back To Black. Now that Winehouse is gone, many of her unreleased tracks will find their way to be marketed. It’s the way it is with artists whose lives are so troubled that they cannot maintain a regular album release schedule.

There will definitely be a Greatest Hits album by the year’s end to celebrate this young woman’s untimely passing. Let’s make a few dollars off of her. That won’t hurt anyone, right?

Back To Black is #1 on iTunes as of now. At least her label is starting to rack in the dough.

Amy Winehouse had a story to tell. Her life could have served as a great source for music about anguish, need and pain. Her death is like cutting a novel short indefinitely.

I guess Amy shouldn’t have said no, no to rehab and gone. Her greatest achievement will remain introducing a sound to the music industry that allowed people like Adele to make a breakthrough. For that, we’ll all be thankful.

Here’s hoping her last moments were fade to white. But at the end of the day, her death was a lifestyle choice.

The Rapture

It’s already May 22nd in some parts of the world, meaning the day the world should have ended has passed with nothing happening.

So let us recap about what some of us did today: got up, missed breakfast, went online for a bit, met up with friends, had lunch, got bored through afternoon, came up with Saturday night plans, executed those plans, got back home and now you’re on the verge of sleeping. Pretty uneventful end of world day, no?

How many end of world days did/will we have in our lifetime? We’ve had Y2K, May 21st 2011, and the Mayan calendar ending on December 21st, 2012. That’s a lot of world-ending dates, don’t you think?

The main problem with this rapture balderdash is that some people take it way too seriously, making it their job to come up with meaningless dates. I do not like to take scripture literally. I do not believe that God will descend someday and literally “save” everyone. Why? simply because the point of Scripture is not to make you believe in the end of days but rather to give you a way of life until that day comes, be it in your lifetime or some other time.  Therefore, this whole talk about analysis of scripture (regardless of what scripture it is) to come up with a failed date of when that’s supposed to happen is, for lack of better word, stupid.

Honestly, if anyone thinks the world ending will happen in our lifetime, they’re seriously delusional. I hate to break it to you people but in the grander scheme of things, we (and I do mean all of us) are irrelevant. How so? In a hundred years from now, even the brightest people among us, will have their legacy either disproved, or lightly used. Some people’s memories do survive into several generations but those are exceptions. Who of us knows anything about their great grandfather? I barely know anything about my grandfather who passed away a couple of years before I was even born.

The world will end someday. It is a scientific certainty. But the world is still young. There’s plenty of room to grow as well as destroy. You might think the current worldwide political situation (weapons race and whatnot) is bad, but if you look at the whole picture, it’s rather silly. No one will use those weapons of mass destruction against another country because, simply, no one has the guts to do so – even the countries that fake almighty strength.

I’m positive as well that each century has had its series of rapture dates. After all, it has been a constant pursuit for man to reach some sort of conclusion and what better conclusion to be reached than to the most puzzling question of our existence: what lies after?

So until the world ends, which is a time when we, our children, their children, their children’s children (I can keep going here) are dead, I don’t think we should be dancing as Britney Spears would say, but rather, maybe we should lessen focus on the development of weapons and maybe on ways to preserve the planet we call home, at least let us enjoy the natural wealth we have, until it all goes away.

Et Tu, Egypt?

As I’m writing this, everything is going haywire in Tahrir Square.

Egyptians have cracked. They are no longer a united front.

Blame it on whoever you want… money, poverty, Mubarak’s influence… it all comes down to this: Change has been betrayed.

I was honestly optimistic that Egypt would be the major catalyst in the reaction of change in the Middle East.

I remember a very wise Chemistry professor at AUB telling me, when I attended class amid the May 7th protests in Lebanon, about one of his visits to the Arab League Summit.

He was sitting there and a man approached him and told him: “Who’s the odd-one in this group of leaders?”

My professor looked at him questionably. The man answered, “Amin Gemayel”, the Lebanese president at the time.

“Why’s that?” my professor asked. The man replied: “He’s the only one who won’t be here in five years”.

This little story shows how it’s all been the same since the 1980s in this region: same people governing, same people doing the same things all over again. This region needed this reaction of change.

But with one speech from one of those people, everything went wrong. The catalyst is now working for the reverse reaction: status quo.

This is where we are heading back. Mubarak has definitely showed other leaders around the region what he’s capable of. He single-handedly contained a massive two-million-plus protest in one day and reversed everything it did.

People in Egypt are now fighting each other. Molotov cocktails are being thrown, bricks from the roads are being torn apart to be used as projectiles, bricks are being thrown from rooftops, boiling water being poured on protesters… a massacre is starting on the streets of Tahrir Square. The army is apparently beginning to fight the protesters. Activists are being hit with rocks. They are bleeding on the streets. Nurses and doctors are nowhere to be found. Even Anderson Cooper was punched in the head 10 times. Thugs are infiltrating the peaceful protests and a bloodbath is forming.

My Lebanese friends are reporting that they are afraid for their lives now. They are trying to escape but the army is blocking all the exists. The protesters are surrounded. There’s no way to go. I am afraid for them and I can’t even begin to imagine the fear they must be feeling right now. What civilized country in the world turns protests into an event where your life is threatened? Into an event that is slowly turning into mass-killing?

Long gone are the days when we thought January 25th is a sign of hope for the region. Long gone are the days when we thought there’s even hope for hope in this region.

And for what? for this man, who contrary to what he announced yesterday, is still, 30 years later, starving for even more power. Mubarak, you are a coward. You are not a man. A man would respond to his people’s concerns. He wouldn’t resort to killing those who rise against him. He would hear what they have to say. You are not worth of your country. You are not worthy of life.

And the ironic thing is… what will tomorrow’s headline be?

Egypt Protests Contained

What will the American stance from this be?

We support whatever the Egyptian people want

And where will the Egyptians be? Either dead on the streets of Tahrir Square or back in their stinking poverty.

Change to Egypt: Et tu, Egypt?


Winter’s Bone – Movie Review

This 2010 drama, set in the Ozarks Mountain in the U.S. is the story of a community that is deeply rooted in the manufacturing of amphetamines. This is the story of a rural community where keeping your mouth shut is the first commandment.

The director of this movie, Debra Granik, lived for a while in those communities. So it’s only natural that her representation of the community in this movie feels real. It’s bleak, dark, haunting… She shows the poverty, the patriarchy, the holiness of family and everything that this holiness entails, the rural aspect of it in such a brilliant way that at times you feel like you’re watching a documentary about the region. Even the accent was perfected by the actors and actresses that you forget this is actually a quest, more than a community presentation.

The movie stars Jennifer Lawrence, a brilliant newcomer, as Ree Dolly, a girl who’s the only caregiver of her mother, there in body only, and two siblings. She drops them out of school, teaches them to hunt and care for themselves, just in case… Her dad, Jessup, has gone missing and in order to keep her house and property, she needs to find him – dead or alive. Or else she’ll lose everything.

Now insert this in a community that is, the least you can say, non-helpful and very rigid about following the aforementioned first commandment and you get a movie that is thrilling, haunting and deservedly so, nominated for best picture as this year’s Oscars.

Everything in this movie is vicious. Even the moments of silence in it are terrifying. You don’t know what the people of this secluded community would do to harm Ree. And you can’t but feel what Ree is feeling, as the 17 year old girl trying to keep it together.

Jennifer Lawrence is epic in this. She’s my favorite acting performance of this year as the girl who, on her path to find any information about her dad, she will go through everything you don’t expect a 17 year old to live through. She portrays this role with a resilient stubbornness, indicative of the hardships she has gone through but she lets you in certain moments glimpse at her soul. There’s one scene, in a boat, that will leave you shaken to your core. When you watch it, you’ll know.

On her quest in this patriarchy, she must go through the wives, not the men. And the wife portrayed by Dale Dickey is a brilliant contrast: ice-cold, non-caring but human. Ultimately, this is the whole society. Even Ree’s uncle, played by John Hawkes, is at the same time ruthless but loving.

All in all, if you’re up for a movie that is deep, cold, dark and haunting, this is the movie for you.