Friday, November 30, 2007

"On Fantasy"

by George R. R. Martin

The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams. It is alive as dreams are alive, more real than real ... for a moment at least ... that long magic moment before we wake.

Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?

We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La.

They can keep their heaven. When I die, I'd sooner go to middle Earth.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

WHAT I HAVE LIVED FOR (Bertrand Russel)

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a deep ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.

I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy -- ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness -- that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it, finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what -- at last -- I have found.

With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.

Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a hated burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.

This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Boston Legal

Living up to the bill of rights!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Forgotten Feelings

For years now I have been quite cynical about love, believing that it's a self imposed illusion, ... not deliberately of course, but self imposed nevertheless. Imagine 50 men and 50 women on an island. Each man will unconsciously choose a woman and target those feelings he needs to feel, feelings of need, trust, admiration, and sexual attraction towards her. Now let them be 20 men and 20 women, ... the same will happen. Let me say it another way, if a certain man has a variety space of 40 women in his social circle, he will choose one and "love" her, now let's cut this circle in half, removing his beloved in the process and leaving him just 20 women, I believe he will still choose one and direct his feelings towards her. In that sense, love can be viewed as a sophisticated, unconsciously self imposed illusion!!

But then, ... and few days ago, I was shocked off my feet. I met that girl, and I was totally impressed, felt some feelings I thought myself incapable of. Feelings I hadn't experienced their like in 6 to 7 years. This is not self imposed, or I would have imposed it on myself much earlier. Wouldn't be feeling void all that long. My theory has to be somehow flawed.


Among the ideas we have for our companies next computer game, is something GTA-like that heavily incorporates toktoks, So I was thinking about the game, how to make it challenging, and what to name it of course, ... so I thought about the plural of toktok, ... in arabic!! I came with TAKATEK :)


We are currently registering our company "Khayal" officially as a limited liability company, and I was thinking of a slogan, ... something like "Khayal, ... benkassar sa2f el seya3a, ben3eed tawzee3 el a7mal" :) or "Khayal, wala kan 3al bal, wala 3ad fee mo7al". Any suggestions?

Contrato Novus

Know here, I do not swear undying, unfaltering love, not to you nor to any other, not now nor ever, my experience taught me that love dies, fades, and changes, even the fervent type, ... sometimes converts to even more fervent hatred and spite.

But let's agree, to love, respect and care for each other, support and relief each other, enhance each other's lives, as long as we both want to, until one or both of us want out.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Toktok here toktok there, ... toktok everywhere!

Some of you might already know that I was bitten by a tokok, (ajall, laqad lada3'any al toktok) as I was driving slowly in a small street near home (Agouza). It came from my side, slowly but surely, didn't stop, didn't falter, I couldn't have helped it, only change the spot where it hit me :)

However, it was a minimal accident and I reckoned it a local Phenomenon and didn't give it much care then, until I saw toktok in Haram Street, Mohandesseen, and YES, on the Cairo-Alexandria highway!!! Toktoks are easy to overlook, especially by night due to their almost non existent lights. They are versatile and maneuverable to tell the truth, but only when they are empty, once they are loaded like they are here in Egypt most of the time, they get heavy and unstoppable (I greatly doubt their breaking systems). In accidents, toktoks usually inflict minimal damage (although obvious ones, due to the concentration of force in the toktok's narrow front) but the big issue is, ... there is almost no safety measures for the toktok passengers themselves, small accidents usually result in serious damages to the passengers.

Uhhh, ... Damn me if I don't know, the emergent appearance of the toktok is but a manifestation of Egypt's crushing economical state, but hell, if it must be, then let it be confined to certain areas, bounded by rigorous rules for speed and safety.

The Deebian Brief

As I have been used to brief here about my readings, I send this to declare that for months I haven't found a readable novel. please whoever can help is welcome, my favorite genre is high fantasy, but I don't mind anything really good.

Anyway, I would nevertheless brief about my readings in the last few months.

In the last few months I read the Beautiful book "Sophie's World". Thanks to my friend Walaa.

The book is a great introduction to the history of philosophy in the form of a nice novel. Now I was already reading a great introduction to philosophy that can be found here. And of all the subjects of philosophy I was interested in Ethics (philosophy of rights), political philosophy, and rhetoric (which is not itself a subject of philosophy but is related).

Oh, ... and the fallacies, ... never forget the fallacies, this one was hit, ... I remember feeling thrilled while reading in the topic for the first time, ... you know the feeling, when you are reading something, and you can't stop, you have other things to do, but you can't stop, and you almost wish the topic goes on and on endlessly for you not to lose that feeling. It's a rare feeling, I feel it while reading GREAT novels or really mind-blowing ideas.

The fallacies, or more specifically the logical fallacies are some patterns in logic, that are logically incorrect (or at least most commonly used in a wrong way) and yet are usually and very often intentionally used in our conversations, political speeches, and almost everything that should be persuasive in nature.

I will not sum it up here for lack of capacity, but I assure you that understanding it will change the way you interpret words, change the way you think and rationalize, your capacity to retort, and to convince or persuade (or simply defeat) people in conversations.

Being a current big fan of the TV show Boston Legal, I was thrilled to notice how most fallacies are used in each and every closing or cross examinations, and the more brilliant the lawyer, the more seamless the fallacies will be incorporated in his speech. Magnificent.

By some way I do not remember I got from the fallacies to the biases. Cognitive Biases are inherent and socially induced biases in the human cognition (distortions in the way humans perceive reality), and I will not sum them up either, but I will simply testify that it is not a bit less fascinating than the fallacies. It gives you a clearer look into the conscious of people, especially yourself, or the ones disagreeing with you, gives you a better understanding of why they claim what they claim, stand for what they stand for, protect what they protect. Biases can be found at the very core of most human conflicts, understanding it might help lessen solve those conflicts, or at least have a better understanding of their origins. Being conscious of your own biases can help you significantly improving your thoughts and rectifying your beliefs.

I am merely scratching the surface, but I know a good part of my reading in the near future will be in these topics, rhetoric, fallacies, and biases.

Just until I find another nice novel of course :)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Liberal ... Libertarian ... Anarchist

For a long time I thought of myself as a liberal, ... a new liberal to be more specific, but then I don't find the definition of Libertarianism (especially that of rights theorists) to be away from me, and to be honest, ... the subdivisions and sub-subdivisions of political currents and philosophies got me a little mixed up.
Quoting wikipedia:

Broadly speaking, liberalism emphasizes individual rights. It seeks a society characterized by freedom of thought for individuals, limitations on power (especially of government and religion), the rule of law, the free exchange of ideas, a market economy that supports free private enterprise, and a transparent system of government in which the rights of all citizens are protected.[2] In modern society, liberals favor a liberal democracy with open and fair elections, where all citizens have equal rights by law and an equal opportunity to succeed.[3]

Many new liberals advocate a greater degree of government influence in the free market to protect what they perceive to be natural rights, often in the form of anti-discrimination laws, universal education, and progressive taxation. This philosophy frequently extends to a belief that the government should provide for a degree of general welfare, including benefits for the unemployed, housing for the homeless, and medical care for the sick. Such publicly-funded initiatives in the market are rejected as interference by modern advocates of classical liberalism, which emphasizes free private enterprise, individual property rights and freedom of contract; classical liberals hold that economic inequality, as arising naturally from competition in the free market, does not justify the violation of private property rights.

Hmmm, .... new liberal ... I guess!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Why I would like to be Alan Shore!!

Yes, I would, it's strange and made me think a lot, he's so not like me!! And he's not close to any of my former inspirers (will talk about them later) either.

But there's something no one can deny, ... he's so sure of himself, so sure of his place in the wold, so sure of his morals, he plays by his own rules, however peculiar you may find those rules and morals.

He has his own set of morals that stem from his own thinking and his views (political, legal, etc.) not inherited nor taken from any specific group.

There is also his way in talking to people, ... I don't want to be that flippant of course :) but to be able to convey your thoughts that eloquently is an invaluable skill. For that I am interested in rhetoric and dialectic, logical fallacies and cognitive biases (this can make another post yet).

And yet, yet another thing, ... (I'm beginning to think that I can go on and on forever) he's brilliant in what he does, ... and like most, I'm a big fan for brilliance.

Hmmm, ... what again, ... he's a lawyer, .... his work is most of the time about people, working closely with them, affecting their lives profoundly.

If you don't know him then you need to watch Boston Legal or the last season of The Practice. It's a character played by James Spader, a brilliant lawyer that is unpredictable and "ethically challenged".

Last but not least, ... he slept with Tara (Rhona Mitra) ;)

Boo7a The Game Video