Thursday, June 30, 2005

Akbar From Iraq Rising And So Is He

Boy Puzzled - MG/DC

He Posts Thoughtfully. That would be Akbar, standing out amongst the Second Generation of Iraqi Bloggers with his Fine Blog:
Iraq Rising
, Akbar is a Iraqi Engineer living in England far away from his Beloved Homeland, a Place he Dreams of returning to some day...

It's: The In T View: Akbar From Iraq Rising And So Is He

MG: Hello Akbar, How are things going for you?

Akbar: On a personal front, not too bad. I suppose that living in a western country does give me the piece of mind to say that. But my thoughts are always with my relatives in Iraq, and so i worry about them constantly.

MG: Do You come from a Large Family? Have lots of Brothers and Sisters?

Akbar: I have one brother and one sister, both much younger. And like most Iraqis and Arabs in general i have a very large extendid family. My father has 6 brothers and my mother has 5 other siblings, so you can imagine how many cousins i might

MG: Do you have a Pet? Can you tell us something about your Pet or Pets at the moment?

Akbar: No pets at the Moment. I used to have a dog named Saddam actually, but he died from a broken heart.

MG: What do you find Sexy in a Woman?

Akbar: Besides a beautiful figure I like women who are artistic and kind hearted.

MG: Are Americans too sensitive to Criticism?

Akbar: Not sure about that one. Most of the Americans that i have met in person can take a joke pretty well, but i do find the blog commentators to be too sensitive. I suppose its the subject matter at the end of the day.

MG: Are Iraqis too sensitive to Criticism?

Akbar: Iraqis are sensitive about everything. We are all psychologically disturbed. Majnoons.

MG: So are the Saudis ever going to allow the Ladies the right to Drive?

Akbar: Not in this millenium. I doubt it. The Saudis are cursed with being the so called keepers of the faith and Ka'ba. They will be the last nation on earth to free themselves from the shackles of religion.

MG: Why do Iraqis find Pringles Potato Chips irresistable?

Akbar: Hehehe, I don't know. I guess its the pop and crunch.

MG: You say in your Blog, that America and the West, "have always dealt favourably with the majority of the dictators of the region for as long as they continued to serve Americas economic and geo-political interests at a time when the cold war and the communist threat was the priority for the Pentagon." My question to you, Akbar, is what Democratic Regimes were in effect at the time, for the U.S. to deal favorably with?

Akbar: Ohh dude, this question is too deep for me to answer today..Maybe i'll write another blog about it..Ill Pass if you don't

MG: And could you name some of the Great Islamic Democracies of the past 1000 years, when the U.S. or the West's support for Dictators was non-existent or minimal?

Akbar: Well IMO Democracy is a relatively new creation and has very little to do with religion....To answer your question..I guess there hasn't been any.

MG: In other words, Akbar, where were all these Great Eastern Islamic Democracies, when the West wasn't involved in the East? To me, it doesn't seem like a whole lot of Democracies were flourishing in the Islamic East, Pre- or Post-Western Influence.

Akbar: Again...I'll pass on this question..

MG: Akbar, are Islam and Democracy Really Compatible? Or is Democracy mainly a function of a Western Heritage?

Akbar: Democracy only thrives in plural non-religious based societies..So i doubt Democracy and Islam are compatable in that sense...But they can coexist if the two are seperate...

MG: Akbar, what is a Dream Date to you?

Akbar: With Nichole Kidman on a desert island.

MG: What's a Dream Meal to you?

Akbar: My mother's cooking.

MG: How did you become interested in Blogging, and how did your Blog:
Iraq Rising
come about?

Akbar: Like everyone else after the war i wanted to know as much as possible about the latest developments going on in Iraq, and eventually i found out about the Iraqi and non Iraqi blog scene.. the diversity of views and opinions eventually drove me to put my two cents in, so to speak, and create Iraq Rising. I really just wanted to have a forum to tell the world about my opinion regarding Iraq and Arabs.

MG: Are there other Blogs besides your own that you like to read and can recommend?

Akbar: Most of the Blogs that i like i have linked to at my site...My favourate of which is 'Karfan's' at Syria Exposed..He is just too funny. And his writings about the Ba'ath regime in Syria mirrors those of Saddams Ba'ath in Iraq when i lived there.

MG: How were you or your family members affected by Saddam and the Baathists?

Akbar: I don't think there is a single family which wasn't affected by Saddams crazy Ba'ath. even those who were part of his gang have in some way or other been greatly damaged by that currupt and disfunctional system. Personally we kept ourselves to our selves and tried to keep out head down as much as possible. My parents are in the medical profession so they managed to escape most of the bullshit. However my aunt's Husband was executed by Saddam in the 80's on account of being a political activist. (a long and sad story, which i will write about one of these days).

MG: What would you say Is or Was Special about your Mother?

Akbar: She is one of the kindest and most couragous people ever. She, like most Iraqi women suffered greatly in Iraq. She spent most of her time in Iraq treating and caring for sick children as a professional Pediatrician. I always remember her crying when she couldn't save a baby or child for lack or medicines or medical resources. I hope that the next generation of mothers will never have to go through all of that again.

MG: Akbar, How Many Fingers Do I Have Up At The Moment?

Akbar: Do ghosts have fingers??

MG: Akbar, what's the Funniest Joke you ever played on a Family Member?

Akbar: I drove my fathers brand new car into a lake one day. I was trying to reverse, but went straight ahead into the water... (He wasn't amused.)

MG: What makes you Laugh?

Akbar: At the moment i'm a South Park nutt...Love it....''Screw you, I'm going home''' Cartman

MG: What makes you Cry?

Akbar: I never cry..I'm a full blooded macho Arab.. we don't do that sort of thing...

MG: What's your greatest hope for the Children of Iraq?

Akbar: Never to know what the sound of an explosion or a gun souns like.. I still have nightmares about things like that.. I still wake up in the middle of the night when i hear a loud thud...And its been 15 years since i last left Iraq.

MG: Akbar, if you had $10 Dollars American to Spend on either
Birth Control or Beer, what would you choose? And why?

Akbar: Beer my friend...Beer... A nice bottle of Ice Bud

MG: Have you ever Cheated an Iranian?

Akbar: Not possible. don't even try...Iranans are just too damn smart.

MG: Should Iran be allowed to develop Nuclear Weapons?

Akbar: Not while the Mullas are in charge...they can't be trusted..

MG: What's the Biggest Mistake the U.S. has made in Iraq?

Akbar: Not jacking off Saddam in 1990.

MG: What's the Best Thing the U.S has done for Iraq?

Akbar: Do I really need to answer that..It's

MG: What's your favorite place to visit in Iraq and why?

Akbar: I want to go back to the days of my childhood where my cousins and i used to go fishing in the tigres every day in the summer...Beautiful.

MG: Favorite TV Show of All Time?

Akbar: Star Trek The Next Generation.....Captain John Luc Picard was my hero.

MG: What Book that you read had the most influence on your life?

Akbar: Computers for Dummies. LOL

MG: What World Leader do you Admire the Most?

Akbar: Living...Tony Blair. Dead..Winston Churchill.

MG: Would you Invite Moammar Ghadaffi to your Birthday Party?

Akbar: Why not...Maybe he can bring his crack squad of Female Body guards with him..we can all sip taquila and smoke cubhanas in the back yard.

MG: Thanks Very Much, Akbar, for a Nice Interview, and Final Question: Have You ever Seen a Ghost?

Akbar: No bother at all... Only you my little Ghosty friend.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Maryam, A Kuwaiti Woman Heading For The Stars


She Wants To Be A Pioneer In Space. That is Maryam from Kuwait and the Excellent So I Want To
Be An Astronaut Blog
which details her Hopes,
Dreams, Studies, and Desires of becoming the First Arab Female Astronaut or Cosmonaut, as well as
her Admiration for another Space Pioneer, Famed Russian Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalov.

It's The In T View: Maryam, A Kuwaiti Woman
Heading For The Stars

The In T View and Artwork by Mister Ghost

MG: Hello Maryam, How are you?

Maryam: Pretty good, Thanks for asking!

MG: Maryam, if you could paint the Space Shuttle, any color your little heart desires,
what color would it be? Rose? Magenta?
Blue? I might go for big, big blue and green
polka dots. You know splurge and have fun.
Do you have a favorite color?

Maryam: I like to paint the space shuttle with metallic blue since blue is my favorite color; it's the color of the endless sea and the deep blue sky.

MG: As James Hinton once asked, "Do you
think the sun gets dazzled by its own light?"

Maryam: Hmm no, I don't think so. The
source cannot get dazzled by itself.

MG: You have a case of the Big Time Hots for Russian Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalov, who's about to break the record, as you say in your Blog, "for the most accumulated time in space with about 800 days in Orbit." What is it about Sergei that inspires you to such flights of fancy, such love on your

Maryam: I never met Sergei but I believe he is such a modest, patient, considerate, ambitious and hardworking person with a sweet heart. I enjoy reading his interviews and get to know his personality and what kind of a person he is. He
said once that he doesn't read in space but it's enough for him to look out the window and look at Earth (you can see how thoughtful he is). I admire his strength and mental ability that made him able to make it during his 10 months stuck in space; returning as the last Soviet Union. Moreover he has many interesting hobbies such as aerobatic flying, amateur radio and swimming. He earned many medals either from his career or sports.
He represents the perfect idol for astronaut/ cosmonauts wanna be. Besides, he is a good-looking man *wink, wink*.

MG: Sergei seems to have female admirers --
"Sergei's Girly Fans" -- from across many lands. What makes you stand out as the Number One Sergei Fan?

Maryam: Beside to my "Fetish blog", Sergei inspired me to follow his steps to be an astronaut or a cosmonaut, learn the Russian language, earned Amateur radio license, and I chose Russia as a place where to start off my dream. On the other hand, I think Suzy McHale is also a Number One Sergei Fan. You should check out her website which is dedicated only for Sergei Krikalev.

MG: If you had the opportunity to spend 800 days in Space with Sergei or be on the First Manned Space Flight to Mars, what would you choose?

Maryam: Uh, you are putting me in a big dilemma now! … Can I
drag Sergei with me to Mars, please? Is it possible that I might be mentioned in history books as first and only person who would blow up a chance to be on first manned flight to Mars because I want to spend 800 days with Sergei in space? ;)

MG: And what's a nice Kuwaiti girl like you doing, wanting to be an Astronaut?

Maryam: Currently, I am working a temporary job as a receptionist until this fall I will move
to Russia for the next 4 years at least.
I want to complete my studies, get a Bachelor and Master's degree (maybe a PhD too). Then, I want to work for a space program either in Russia or

MG: When did your dreams start of becoming
an Astronaut?

Maryam: I always have such passion for space since I was little kid but I don't remember that I ever wished to be an astronaut. However, I remember the exact moment when it pops out to mind. I was
on campus, online chatting with my friend who was
in Kuwait. I was talking about my future plans and what I want to do. I was telling her my wishes
about being a pilot, sky diver, volunteer,
political activist, minister and one of them is
to be an astronaut. Of course, she laughed out
and she told me I was being unrealistic. At that
moment, I was checking out NASA Astronauts requirements. While I was reading it, I was like "hey, I think I can do this".

In late of 2003, I attended one of NASA
Awareness Day which motivated me and looked at
the opportunities. It was really fun, chatted
with NASA representatives, attended workshops…
I felt so close to my dreams and it is possible
that I can achieve them.

But last year I came back home depressed, screwed
up all the opportunities I could have. However, after watching "Space Station" movie at IMAX Theater, it took my breath away and that's when I
determined to be an astronaut. How odd a movie can change whole person's decisions…?

MG: And what did your parents say when
you first told them of your desire to be an Astronaut? Were they like, "get out, you
are crazy, you're going to get yourself killed!?"

Maryam: Lol! Yes, they were like that. My
mom told me "You're out of your mind, you want to kill yourself?!?" My parents know that
I always want to do crazy stuff such as bungee jumping, sky diving and so on (yeah, I know I
wanna do all the stuff) So they aren't surprised
to know that I want to be an astronaut.

MG: Could you describe what the Space
Program in Kuwait is like?

Maryam: Unfortunately, there is no space program in Kuwait. However its new step for Kuwait to hold the First International Remote Sensing Conference & Exhibit in September 2005 and Dr.
Farouk El-Baz, who participated in the Apollo program as Supervisor of Lunar Science Planning, will attend the conference.

As for Arab space future program is to establish an "Arab Space Research Agency"; headquarter will
be in Egypt. Kuwait discussed about the possibilities of being a member and participating
in space program. I hope it doesn't turn out to be fiction because I cannot find enough information about it.

MG: Is there a Heavy Burden placed upon you, trying to be the First Arab Middle Eastern Woman in Space, a pioneer in her field?

Maryam: Hmm it depends on what kind of
"Heavy Burden" you mean. If you mean from culture and religion aspects, I don't think there will be any difficulties for me to be an astronaut from
that side hmmm maybe some sexism. On the other
hand, I worry that Kuwait or any Arab country
don't think about sending more Arab astronauts
on mission into thespace beside the two payloads which they were sent during the 80's.

MG: You want to be an Astronaut, but you studied Civil Engineering at an American College - Is there a missed connection

Maryam: Yes, I think there is a missed connection. When I graduated from high school
with math major, I wanted to study either
astronomy or mathematics. But the Ministry
of Higher Education was not offering scholarship
for mathematics majors and with astronomy degree cannot do much with it in Kuwait as a pursuing career. So I decided to do engineering as the
rest which my country mostly demands.

MG: Why did you decide to come to the
United States?

Maryam: I wanted to learn new things, new culture, and to have different experience. I
studied abroad in the age of 17 which made me stronger, independent person; grew my self-confidence and I became more capable of handling
my life. From meeting new different people, I
gained a broader outlook on life. Even though I didn't finish my studies but the experience I had was priceless.

MG: What thing really surprised you about
the United States? And what was your biggest disappointment?

Maryam: Oh, Food! Everything is served
with really large meals. I notice that Americans eats big portions of food. Also, I was surprised that cowboys just not exist in the movies but in
real life too ;)

The biggest disappointment was only one thing
that is ignorance. Most Americans I met have poor knowledge about other countries, culture, and traditions. I remember an American lady asked me which country I was from. I answered "Kuwait".
She hesitatingly asked "Is Kuwait a country?"
or some other American thinks Kuwaitis native language is Spanish, wear turbans and women are
not allowed to eat chocolate. Sadly, after the
sad events of 9/11, I suffered from some
discrimination I get as Muslim and Arab.

MG: Maryam, do you think that Stars are alive? See, I tend to believe they are, that they possess a consciousness so vast, it's beyond we
poor mortals ability to understand. What are your thoughts on the subject?

Maryam: Yes, I think that too. When I gaze through the dark sky with my telescope, I tend to think that stars are alive; having conversations between each other, sometimes they even talk about me … Hehe I better stop talking now otherwise I
will sound silly.

MG: If a Black Hole and a White Hole get together, would they make little grey holes?

Maryam: No, I think they will form a big explosion and disappear from the existence.

MG: Were you or your family in Kuwait,
when the Iraqi invasion occurred in 1990? What
was like for a Kuwaiti family living in a War

Maryam: I was only 9 years old when the invasion occurred. I and my family lived in the
most intense war zone in Kuwait because
of the big numbered resistance groups against the Iraqi troops. We used to hear almost constant fire machines. One time, a tank bombed neighbor's house which it was only 2 houses away from ours I didn't witness any violent actions or seen disturbing scenes because my parents were so protective.

Later my family had to flee to Saudi Arabia
without my father. We traveled to Baghdad by
a bus and we stayed there for a week. Then, we
traveled from Baghdad, to Jordon and flew off
to Saudi Arabia. Where we stayed, the place was always targeted by the Iraqi scud missiles. Couple of times I saw these scud missiles in the sky. As
a kid I got used to it, learned the chemical protection procedures, putting mask on my little brother since my mom is paralyzed to do anything. Thank God that Kuwait is back and the war didn't last for a long time.

MG: And are you happy that Saddam was overthrown and the Iraqi people have a chance
for a new start in Democracy?

Maryam: Yes, I am happy that Saddam was overthrown but I wished that happened in a peaceful way. And I think that Iraqi people can start a new step in democracy and rebuild their country.

MG: So, what's your favorite Space-Related Movie and why?

Maryam: I haven't watched many of Space-Related movies. I prefer watching space documentary movies such as IMAX "Space Station" movie which is my favorite movie because Sergei appears in it ;). I
like "Apollo 13" too.

MG: Are you a Star Trek fan, as it seems
like a lot of the NASA people grew up being Star Trek fans?

Maryam: Sorry, Star Trek fans. I have to
say that I hate this TV series. I don't know
whether because of the tight outfit or the weird creatures. The space technology is awesome but I
dislike the whole space-universe culture thing.
I hope that NASA astronauts Mike Fincke and Terry Virts enjoy their appearance of the season finale
of Star Trek.

MG: Maryam, there seems to be a great difference in the freedoms accorded and afforded Women in Western Society, as opposed to most of
the Middle East. Is that a factor of Culture, Government, or Religion?

Maryam: I believe that culture plays major part influencing the government and the society on their perspective towards women and what their gender roles should be in the society.

MG: Is Islam a Women friendly religion?

Maryam: Yes, I believe that Islam a women friendly religion. Women have equal rights as men, unfortunatly; people cannot separate culture from religion on making decisions which forms confusions.

MG: Can you explain the Super String theory to me in less than thirty words?

Maryam: Oh it's too complicated! I myself
I don't understand it well. But as long you are asking for less than 30 words, here it
is then:

A wiggling tiny string closed or open loop; can
be Bosons only (particles transmit force) or equal matching with Fermions (make up matter) which we call a superstring theory.

29 words!!

MG: Maryam, how did you become interested
in blogging and how did your Blog, So I Want
To Be An Astronaut come about?

Maryam: I become a regular reader of Mobbloging from Kuwait. I really like the idea blogging photos from cell phone and write
about them. So I started my own photo blog. Then through Mobbloging, I get directed to Kuwait Unplugged which I become a fan of his blog
too. Few weeks later, I felt the need to have
my own blog and write about my dreams and share
it with people in the world.

MG: Your Blog has garnered quite a lot of attention, received some awards and notice, has
that helped you in your quest to become an

My blog helps me to be more focus on my goals and it's a good way to meet people who have the same interests as mine. So far, my blog haven't helped
me to achieve my dream as an astronaut. I don't expect my blog in a direct way to help achieve
my dreams. So far, I got a T.V. interview request that will be in the end of this year. I hope
this will be a new start for me.

MG: Besides your own Blog, are there other blogs you like to read or would recommend?

Maryam: My favorite blog is, which is a 365 day photo blog project by a Lebanese photographer lives in Kuwait Also I recommend reading "Kuwait Unplugged" which is a bilingual
blog that discusses political, social issues, and express opinions and ideas concerning Kuwait.

MG: I understand that you recently finished studying to be a Ham Radio Operator and received your Amateur Radio License. How did you get interested in the field and what does it means to you?

Maryam: First of all, I am proud to earn the Amateur radio license and consider being one of the minority female operators in Kuwait, and having the license means that I am legally able to talk to Sergei via radio while he is in Space.

My interest in Amateur or Ham radio initially started because of Sergei (see, he inspired me again). I took a 10 week Russian Language course
to know the basics and grammar. With a bit
of luck, I hope I get the chance to talk to Sergei over the radio. Hopefully, I won't sound funny in Russian. ;)

MG: Thanks Very Much, Maryam, for a Nice Interview, and Final Question: Have you ever
seen a Ghost?

Maryam: A Ghost or Ghost? In both cases,
the answer will be no. because I haven't seen you yet. Anyway thanks for the interview and giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts in your blog.

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by