Monday, May 30, 2005

Kat Proudly From The Midwest

Kung Fu Kat Chopper and her dog are saddled on the Cat Chopper built for CATERPILLAR by Orange County Choppers, take visual tour "The toughest bike ever built by OCO."

She may be in The Middle Ground, but never in the Muddled Ground. That is Blogger, Kat From The Midwest, who showcases a strong intellect and the cold hard truths and facts in her scholarly blog: The Middle Ground, with its Hard-Charging Poignant look at World Events, Emerging Democracies, the Middle East, U.S. Policy, the American Military,
and the Midwest Scene.

It's The In T View: Kat Proudly From The Midwest

The In T View and Artwork/Photography by Mister Ghost & Diane Carriere

MG: Hello Kat, How are you?

Kat: I'm doing really great, Mister Ghost. Hope you're doing well, too.

MG: You know, if you take a strand of uncooked spaghetti and snap it, it will always break into three pieces -- try if for yourself, if you don't believe me -- Why is this?

Kat: Um…I'm no physics major, but I think it has something to do with the co-efficiency of force and the density of the noodle. Then again, maybe it always wanted to be a set of triplets. Personally, I prefer mine cooked and smothered with garlic and butter, which may have something to do with your next question.

MG: So, why are you still Single?

Kat: I came really close to not being single once. Didn't work out. After I swept up the pieces of my broken heart, I spent a good portion of my time "getting ahead". Seems like time just flew by and here I am, single. Of course, some folks say I'm bossy and opinionated and that could have some effect. But, my grandma said those that listen at keyholes never hear anything good about themselves.

MG: I understand you're sort of a Biker Chick. How did this come about?

Kat: My family has always been into motorcycles. I rode my first mini bike when I was ten, then moved up to bigger bikes as I grew older. It's kind of addicting and almost Zen like, when you get out on the road and all you hear is the hum of the road and you block everything out except you, the bike, the road and the wind (and the stupid people in cars that occasionally forget to look before they change lanes).

MG: Best Truck you ever owned?

Kat: Toss up between my current F150 and an old brown Nissan that had 210,000 miles on it before it finally died. That little truck took me places. No radio, no air, four cylinder with a five speed, but it started every day until the carburetor blew a gasket, spewed fuel everywhere and caught the truck on fire. It was a sad day when I had to call the junkers to come and get her.

MG: Favorite TV Show of the moment and why?

Kat: Law and Order. Yeah, I know they said something rude about DeLay, but I love their investigative work and the courtroom scenes. Helps me practice for company meetings and debating with moonbats. Behind that, I'd say CSI, same for investigative techniques and for a second place tie, Mail Call with Sgt Ermay (yeah, I know it's cable, but that's what I really like to watch).

MG: If you could write an Emmy Award Winning TV Series, what would it be about?

Kat: "Family Reunion" would be the name and every episode would be cut directly from my life. There'd be drama, mystery, tragedy, adventure and humor. Or, I'd do a comedy show about moonbats and extremists. I wouldn't even have to write the dialogue. I could just go over to the DU, copy and paste their running rants. I couldn't bill it as a "reality show" because most of those folks aren't grounded in reality and no one would believe it's real.

MG: Do you consider yourself a Writer, and how did you become interested in Writing?

Kat: Well, no doubt by my often long posts that I like to write. I don't know if I consider myself a "writer" like a Stephen King or Tom Clancy, turning out novels all the time, but I do like to organize my thoughts through writing and some times tell amusing stories. Family and personal stories always go over well because people can recognize their own families and personal situations in those stories. It's also easier to laugh at it when it's not your own. I always loved to read and that just naturally turned into wanting to write like the greats. Probably never happen, but a girl can dream.

MG: What book has had the most influence on your life?

Kat: Wow, there are so many books that I've read, it's hard to know where to start. On pain of being called a right wing religious zealot, I'd have to say the bible. I mean, talk about a book with everything. You got family infighting, great escapes, travel, war, intrigue, love, hate, sex, poetry, miraculous endings and a moral to every story. After that, I'd say the "red badge of courage", "black beauty", "A Tale of Two Cities" and "The Taming of the Shrew" (great dialogue in that.)

MG: Your name is Kat, so the obvious question is do you have a dog?

Kat: I do. He's a mutt cross between an American pit terrier and a basset hound. Looks like a basset hound on steroids. His name is Cash, short for Cassius Clay, because he thinks he floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee. However, the cable guy and my last boyfriend would not agree. Boyfriend kept muttering something to the dog about, "your real name is Cujo" the last time he ever came over.

MG: So, what type of Kat are you? Are you a Scaredy Kat, a Happening Kat, a Tom Kat, a Cheshire Kat, a Kit Kat, a Top Kat - What type of Kat are you exactly?

Kat: Aunt Kat. I have the privilege of being Aunt Kat to eight so far. They love to see Aunt Kat. I fill them up with candy, buy them loud toys and then send them back to their parents.

MG: So, what's your Number One Kung Fu Move?

Kat: Roundhouse kick to moonbat heads. Coupled with my extraordinary skills of photographic memory, speed reading and quick fingers with the search engine, I can usually deliver the coup de grace with one post.

Occasionally, they don't learn and keep coming back for more. But that just gives me practice.

MG: You live in Missouri, and Missouri is the Show Me state. So what exactly would you be showing me?

Kat: A loaded question. I could show you some great fishing spots and fantastic roads for bike riding. Or, I could show you my tattoo. Wanna see?

MG: What was out there, before the beginning of the Cosmos?

Kat: The end of a previous cosmos. The alpha and the omega. The beginning and the end. At the end of everything is the beginning. (if that's too cryptic, think "circle of life")

MG: If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Kat: Believe it or not, I'd like to ride to the Grand Canyon. Kind of pedestrian, I know, but I saw it when I was a kid and only vaguely recall what it looks like; flew over it many times in a plane. I'd love to ride my bike to it and just stand at the edge and look at one of the natural wonders of the world.

MG: Would a dream date for you, be a night out on the town pillaging and looting with Muqtada al-Sadr, Famed Corpulent Iraqi Wannabee Leader? Okay, so what truly is a Romantic Evening for you?

Kat: Muqty wouldn't last an hour with me. He'd be swearing allegiance to the great Satan by time he got off the back of my bike. Seriously, a romantic evening out would be something really simple, like dinner, midnight bowling and then long hours of chatting over coffee at a little diner. Then again, I wouldn't complain if a guy took me to the Hereford House for nice juicy, medium rare KC Strip and then dancing at a little club I know. (PS..vegans and members of PETA need not apply)

MG: What is your Favorite Iraqi Blog?

Kat: It's ITM of course. They were the first blog I ever read and the place I had the most fun meeting people and smacking the moonbats down. Their stories and information are some of the best on the web if you want to know what life in Iraq was and is like. Of course, there are so many others that I read on a regular basis (that's why I don't have a big selection of TV programs I like to watch; rather be reading and collecting info on the net).

MG: Who, in your opinion, is the Sexiest Iraqi Blogger? Is it Sam from Hammorabi? He's very mysterious and mysterious equals sexy, I think.

Kat: Mister Ghost, I do declare! What a question to ask a lady. *fanning myself* If you must know, I think it's a toss up between Omar and Mohamed. Very cute. But Sam definitely has that mysterious, sexy 007 thing going on and he does seem to have some info before others. He's like the Drudge Report of Iraq.

MG: Speaking of Sam, he reported that one of the Terrorists they had captured in Iraq, had confessed to torturing people by pulling out their eyeballs before he killed them. Do you think the Mainstream Media in this country would devote more attention to this story, if the terrorist made his victims wear panties on their heads and flushed down a couple of Korans?

Kat: No. The only way it would get more coverage is if he suddenly came out with a confession that he was a born again Christian that attended Bob Jones University, was a faithful follower of Falwell, slept in the Lincoln bedroom during the First Bush administration, had secret documents showing that President Bush hadn't completed his National Guard Service and had once snorted a line of coke with the President in Kennebunkport while Barbara Bush made them cookies in case they got the munchies and Laura Bush danced naked on the coffee table with a lampshade on her head.

MG: Famed Terrorist Honcho Abu Musab al-Zarqawi: It seems like, if you believe the Media in Iraq, that he's been captured in every Iraqi City so far. Do you think he'll be doing a "I've Been Captured in Every Small Iraqi Village Now Too" 2005 Summer Tour or that he's exited stage left from Iraq and Life for good?

Kat: Oh, I hate to make speculations on the "for good" part, but I have an idea that his manager is going to come out again and say he is shortening his tour schedule for awhile due to strained vocal chords. I guess they don't give voice lessons at the mosque on how to use your diaphragm when screaming "allahu akbar" a thousand times while blowing stuff up and beheading people. I heard they're refusing to refund the tickets. Of course, you know I'd love to hear that he had to retire for good. I never did like his music anyway.

MG: Where do you think the WMDs that were allegedly present in Iraq are?

Kat: I'd say that some of them were destroyed and some of them are spread all over the ME. I mean, the guy sent his airplanes to Iran (that took some cajones since he'd just got through blowing the crud out of them a few years before) and most of the ba'athist slugs that could escape went to Syria. I'm pretty sure that the distribution didn't occur over night or just in the few months leading up to the war. Small truckloads smuggled out, not big diesel convoys that would be detected by satellite and the flyovers we were doing. Also, you don't have to take whole missiles out on flat beds if you want to keep the technology. Just dismantle the warheads and send them off. I also imagine that some of it made its way through Ansar al Islam into AQ and other Islamist nutjob hands. Not too much, mind you, just enough to give them a start and settle any operational demands they had for tribute against them attacking inside his country. These are strictly my speculations of course.

MG: The Hypocrisy of the Left: Liberals and their Mainstream Media Minions had a Huge Meltdown over the Alleged Flushing of the Quaran in Guantanamo, an event that didn't happen, but nevertheless provoked a massive outcry against the Evil Bush Administration desecrating Islam. And yet, from Piss Christ to the Clown Eucharist, Liberals and the MSM have embraced that which desecrates Judeo-Christian symbolism. Why the Double Standard?

Kat: Well, with my minimal psycho-babble…er… analyzation skills, I'd say it's because it's easier to hurt the thing you know. Kind of like relationships. They know the buttons to push to get a rise out of people and it gives them something to talk about when there aren't enough beheadings and body counts to report. Or it could be because they've been holed up in their urban ivory towers for so long, telling each other scary stories about the hinterlands (red states) and how the "evil" fundamentalist Christians have giant crucifixes on the wall where they kneel every night for hours reading the bible, flagellating themselves and praying for Armageddon before they clean their guns, check to make sure the bazooka is operational, beat their wives and then drain the blood from little liberal children to put in their grits and fry their bacon in.

MG: When's the last time you were really drunk and really happy about it?

Kat: You know, I think the last time I was "really happy about it" would have to be my 26th birthday. I had 12 shots of tequila and one shot of kamikaze. Of course, I actually didn't remember much after the 9th shot of tequila. Fortunately, my friends were there later to remind me about the four shots that came after. Every time after that didn't end very well.

MG: Do you have a favorite comic strip?

Kat: Kathy. Eternally single, job is a pain the rump, parents don't understand her and the boyfriend freaks every time she even hints at "settling down".

MG: If you could be any Super Hero or Super Heroine, who would you be?

Kat: Wonder Woman. I always wanted that nifty tiara, bracelets that could deflect bullets and a lasso of truth.

MG: Is there any hope for Europe?

Kat: Nope. Europe will collapse politically or economically in the next decade or so and then be rebuilding itself from the ashes once again, probably still not having learned their lesson. The Eastern European countries will just stand back and watch them explode. I mean, when you've got unemployment like a Latin American country, debt up to your eyebrows, politicians (Chirac) trying to hold on to their power to avoid prosecution and a built in insurgency, there isn't much hope. Besides, it's been over half a century since they tried to kill each other. From an historical perspective, they're about due for another European war.

MG: Who will stop the Mullahs from making Iran a Nuclear State?

Kat: I hate to be pessimistic, but "nobody". The Euros are too weak, we're tied up with Afghanistan and Iraq; Russia needs money to prop up the crappy economy and stave off another revolution and if Israel strikes, the whole area will probably explode considering everything is a Zionist plot to rule the world. I imagine we'll wake up one day in a couple of years to news reports that Iran tested their first nuclear warhead, like North Korea, Pakistan and India. The best we can hope for is that this next election really pisses the Iranian populace off and they go for fullscale revolution, dumping the Mullahs. I just think it's ironic that people thought it would be the US and the USSR that would cause nuclear holocaust and the biggest threat is now the ME and Asian countries turning each other into glass parking lots.

MG: Why do my pens always seem to run out of ink while I'm writing?

Kat: Don't chew on the ends. That big black inky spot on your shirt pocket isn't a good sign either. (MG says: I never chew on my pens, they just mysteriously run out of ink all the time.)

Inspired by a photograph used for the article "Crowd behavior in markets: Part ten: Obedience"

MG: How did you become interested in Blogging, and how did your Blog: The Middle Ground come about?

Kat: I read a newspaper article about blogs and information that could be had about Iraq. My brother had volunteered to go over and I was looking for information on the situation since the regular news sources sucked so much. The article directed me to ITM. After having incredible conversations with some of the crazy "blood for oil" people in the comment section, I was tired of looking up the same info again and again to combat their bat doo-doo. So, I decided to start a blog and bust "conspiracies". It's all history after that. I guess you could say that the Fahdil brothers are my blogfathers.

MG: Besides your own Blog, are there other Blogs that you like to read and can recommend?

Kat: Besides ITM and Sam (with the long list of Iraqi blogs on the sidebar), I'd say my favorite place is Blonde Sagacity.
She's a "South Park Republican" that has a core of right and left commenters that keep the conversation lively. I'd also recommend Mudville Gazette; This Is Your War; Major K and Strength and Honor; and my all time two favorites for snarky humor would be Sandmonkey (our intrepid reporter from the APU) and Anti-Idiotarian Rotteweiler if you wanna see everyone and everything getting chewed a new butthole with humor. There are so many others, I feel like a Hollywood Starlet on Oscar night trying to remember to thank everyone. Oh..and (sucking up big time) Iraqi Bloggers Central, of course. I read it every day so I can find out who's got the good stuff and where the fire works are on the Iraqi blogs.

MG: A Little Birdy tells me, that you have a lot of Admirers among your Blog Commentators and have even received a Marriage Proposal. How do you feel about this?

Kat: Well, I don't think he was serious when he proposed. Besides, I think his wife would object vehemently. But, I really appreciate all the people I've met through my blog and other blogs. It's been a great learning experience and has certainly helped me make a number of fantastic friendships.

MG: Uzbekistan: Some Crazy Dictator-run, God-forsaken, Central Asian nation that most American could care less about, never mind spelling its name correctly. Why should we give a hoot and don't pollute about Uzbekistan?

Kat: Well, strategically, the place is a stepping off point for conflict in Iran or Syria or just in general being in the area. Some folks are afraid we're acting like the "police" of the world, but I believe we've got a number of strategies working at the same time. Many folks don't get on the internet and read all the info, but Zawahiri wrote in his book, "Knights Under the Prophets Banner" that the plan was to set up the new Islamic caliphate in an arch from Pakistan to Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan to Chechnya and push down to link up with Egypt and Saudi Arabia. We know Islamist separatist interesting in joining this endeavor are already in Chechnya and Uzbekistan. Last, the world gets almost 40% of its oil from the ME. If it goes hot, oil supplies will be cut. The US could survive, but countries like China and Korea get 80% of their oil from the region. You know what happens when countries lose their main resources and their economies collapse? They go out looking for new resources and it isn't always peacefully through commerce. Those are just a few reasons why we ought to care about Uzbekistan. What I'd love to see is a real democracy movement there that we could support and wasn't tied up with a bunch of Islamist groups.

MG: Is Moammar Ghaddafi, the Most Stylin' Dictator on the Planet?

Kat: OMG! I mean, where does he get his kaftans? Honestly, with the female bodyguards, the jet planes, pimped out cars and his entourage I've been trying to decide if he's with the east coast or west coast rappers. Nice sunglasses, too, although, someone should tell him they went out in the 70's.

MG: Thanks Very Much, Kat, for a Nice Interview, and final question: Have you ever seen a Ghost?

Kat: You're welcome, Mister Ghost. I have seen a ghost. He used to live in our attic and we called him "George". My grandma always swore he was wearing a cheap suit and a fedora. What was weird was when we were remodeling the attic and found some old papers behind the paneling. It was a checkbook, some news clippings and two pictures of a guy in a suit and a fedora. The name on the paperwork was… George Stillwell Happy Memorial Weekend to the IBC crew and don't forget to remember all those who served and died to give us the freedom we use to read this blog.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Nadz: Proud And Free

Never Preachy, Frequently Optimistic, a Strong Advocate for Woman's Rights, Arab American
Blogger Nadz, reporting from a Secret Location
in the Big 50, provides a Frank and Honest Look
at the Mideast and World Events via her Blog: Nadz Online.

And in The In T View: Nadz: Proud and Free,
she discusses everything from Moderate Muslims
to Islam to Hugging Trees to Palestine to
the Kingdom of Saud to Irshad Manji to Riverdance...and much more.

It's The In T View: Nadz: Proud and Free

Interview: Mister Ghost. Artwork: Diane Carriere & Mister Ghost

MG: Hello Nadz, How are you?

Nadz: Hi there, Mr Ghost. I'm doing great.

MG: What does Love mean to you?

Nadz: Hmm, good question. Love means respect and faith in a person. Sticking together through thick and thin, when things get rough and the early idealism is gone. Having confidence in a person's goodness. Lots of cliches.

MG: What do you think of the Views of Irshad Manji?

Nadz: Part of me thinks that she might be a bit naive, but another part of me thinks that Islam needs people like her to reform it. I don't know if Islam can be reformed to accept gay feminists like her, and I don't know why she hasn't just given up on faith. However, she clearly thinks that there's something there worth saving, so kudos to her for being brave enough to call for change.

MG: Moderate and Secular Muslims are out there, but seem silent
or silenced compared to the Radical and Fundamentalist Islamicists.
How do you get the Moderate and Secular members of Islam to Speak
Out and make their Views and Presence Known, to avoid disasters
like the Muslims Against Terror Rally that drew a disgraceful
36 - 200 participants?

Nadz: 36-200? Wow, that is bad. What a shame. Well, I think blogs and the internet are a good start. It allows us to talk to each other and others with more anonymity. I think there are quite a few of us out there, but we're too intimidated to speak out en masse. I wish I had a solution.

MG: Have you ever hugged a tree?

Nadz: Hahaha! I've climbed many, but as you can probably guess from my anti-hippy comments, I'm not big on bonding with plants.

MG: You've probably already been told this, but your Nickname/Blogname is slang for a certain part of a man's anatomy. Are you good to go with this and see
it as a Badge of Honor, saying in essence, I've Got Balls! LOL?

Nadz: Lol! I guess I tend to kick men in the balls with my angry ranting, so I've kinda earned my name.

MG: What is your Favorite Part of a Man's -- or to cover all the bases -- Woman's Body?

Nadz: I like men's arms. A nice back is also a plus. I'm not into women in that way, but everything about Angelina Jolie is smokin' hot - except for the homewrecking part, of course.

MG: Do Camels smell?

Nadz: They reek! Especially when they leave camel droppings outside of your house.

MG: You have an American Mom and a Palestinian Father and have spent considerable time in Middle East, even in the Tragic Kindom of Saud. How has this affected your worldview? Do you think of yourself as being more worldly than your peers?

Nadz: Being from a multicultural background has helped me see both sides to many debates, and made me see the pluses and minuses of different cultures. I guess I try to be open-minded, see both sides, and watch out for extremists!

MG: What do you consider yourself to be? Are you an American, a Palestinian,
a Moslem, or just a human being?

Nadz: Arab-American. I'm both an American and a Palestinian, as far as I'm concerned. I'm not a huge fan of labels, though.

MG: Ever been involved in a Snowball Fight?

Nadz: Yes! When I was younger. There wasn't much snow on the ground, so the fight didn't last very long.

MG: Do you have any Pets?

Nadz: I have a dog and a hamster. I'm a slave to them both.

MG: What do you think your Totem Animal is?

Nadz: Totem animal? I guess a porquepine (did I spell that right?) - small and short-tempered. But also cute and relatively harmless.

MG: Is there Life on other Planets?

Nadz: I hope so. I think with the vastness of the universe, it would be pretty arrogant to think that we're the only life form. We may never run into them, but that would be something if we did. You never know - Michael Jackson may call the mothership if he gets convicted.

MG: You're an Atheist and don't believe in God or Allah.
You know this could get you killed in 4 out of every 5 Islamic Nations?

Nadz: Yes! I'm familiar with the apostacy laws, and don't think much of them. I don't consider myself an apostate, though, because I've always been an atheist. When I was six years old and was told about God, I thought it didn't make sense - why should I believe in invisible men unless I have evidence for them?

MG: Nadz, recently there were riots and deaths in the Moslem World,
because of what seems to be a false rumor that a U.S. Soldier flushed
a Qumran down the toilet in Guatanamo -- Never mind, how the hell
do you actually flush a thick book down a toilet -- But should anyone die
because of a book?

Nadz: No, absolutely not. People are way too touchy about their Holy books - if you have such faith in your infallible religion, surely it can handle a little desecration? I understand how people were offended by it, but it's no reason to kill people. I think the riots in Afghanistan are about more than the Koran incident - it's a chance for the clergy and the radicals to show that they're still a force to be reckoned with.

MG: Nadz, how different would Islam be, if the Prophet was a Woman?

Nadz: Wouldn't that have been something? There were some female prophets around at the time, apparently. If the Prophet was a woman, I'd suspect she'd preach a more egalitarian system, emphasize the "sacred feminine" concept, place more value on children, sex as a positive force, and economic justice.

However, Islam probably would have not taken off the way it has with a woman as its founder - I don't think men would have listened, sadly. Some might have followed her, but sexism has been around long before monotheism made it worse.

MG: Is Islam a Misogynistic Religion or is it the Interpretation of Islam
by those shepherding and preaching the faith that leads to Honor
Killings, Subjugation, Veilings, Restrictions of Freedom,
and Genital Mutilation among women?

Nadz: Like all religions, Islam is a patriarchal system that preaches male superiority over women. There are some verses in the Quran that are blatantly sexist. However, the problems in the mideast are not all due to Islam, but the way it mixes with cultural traditions and mysogynistic thinking. For example, FGM and honor killings aren't sanctioned in the Quran, but the ideas in the culture and religion about female "honor" allow it to happen.

There is an agrument, however, that interpretation has a lot to do with it. There is mysogyny in the Bible and the Torah as well, but most people choose not to listen to the sexist verses. Muslims need to learn to do the same - to take the good and leave the bad. And it's only through the efforts of women, I think, that will bring this about. But the fact that all religions are rooted in patriarchy is a problem. The more fundamentalist the religion, the worse it is for women. Oh, and the clergy are jerks.

MG: What is your favorite place in the Mideast and why?

Nadz: Petra, in Jordan. It's a beautiful, ancient place. A Nabatean city carved out of rock into the mountains - I'd recommend that everyone see it, and I may even post some pictures of the place on my blog now.

The entrance of the city also features two carvings of Amazon women - it reminds me that women in this part of the world were not always oppressed, and that we don't always have to be.

The coasts of Lebanon are also beautiful - Beirut is an amazing city. The Dead Sea, the hills of the West Bank, the mountains...I love 'em all. But I have a special place in my heart for ancient places.

MG: Lebanon: According to DEBKA, Michael Aoun, the former president
of Lebanon, is returning to Lebanon from 14 years exile in France
(the "Lucky" Guy) to run in the upcoming Lebanese Presidential
elections. Do you think Lebanon and the Lebanese will finally be at peace?

Nadz: I hope so - the Lebanese deserve peace, especially after the horrible civil war they went through. It's not going to be all smooth sailing in the near future - there are still sectarian tensions and Hezbollah are still very powerful. But I think the anti-Syria, pro-democracy protesters have shown that Lebanon is moving forward, and there's no going back for the reactionaries. There are too many people who have had enough.

MG: Palestine: Nadz, you say The Intifadah "was a disaster."
And hopefully, anyone with more than half a brain won't disagree
with you. So, what do the Palestinians do now to extricate themselves
from the morass they've buried themselves under?

Nadz: Stop the pattern of justifying the militants' actions, and make it clear to the Israelis that Hamas and Islamic Jihad no longer speak for us. Then, create a massive non-violence movement - the "violence movement" never works, but Ghandi's tactics have never failed. If we find peaceful ways to resist the occupation, we'll give the Israelis reason to think that we're not out to drive them into the sea.

Reform the PA. Create an efficient governmental system. Stop blaming Israel for everything, and learn to fix things ourselves. Instead of complaining when the Israelis take a step backwards, take the initiative and move in the right direction. Continue non-violence tactics, get international attention and demand to get back to the negociating table. Make sure that Arafat doesn't come back to life (shivers).

Above all though, stop shouting for revenge and instead call for reconciliation. We will never turn the clock back to pre-1945, so we have to accept that we can't have everything. We need to accept some hard truths and learn to forgive. There is so much bad feeling now, both sides have to forgive a little for the sake of peace.

MG: You've spent time in Saudi Arabia. What was it like to live
there? How restrictive was it?

Nadz: I didn't think much of the dress code. Well, it's not as bad as its sometimes made out to be - it depends on what area you're in. But generally, when I'm in the Kingdom, i feel restricted, uncomfortable, unable to breathe freely. It's a little suffocating, especially with all of the security now because of the terrorist attacks.
There are some good things about it - nice beaches, a relatively comfortable standard of living, cheap gasoline. But it's not a good place to be a woman - you feel hostility and begin to want to be invisible, just to avoid the scutiny. You don't feel free to speak your mind, express yourself, act as you see fit - it's a theocracy.

MG: And what about the Saudi Educational System? How did it feel to attend
Saudi Schools? Was there a lot of Anti-Semitism and Anti-Americanism
inundating the students?

Nadz: It's not a daily occurance, but it's there. Islam class was the worst in terms of the hostility towards Americans and Jews. I didn't spend all of my time in Saudi schools, though - I was in an American cirriculum for a while, and went to school in other middle eastern countries as well. But the education system is pretty bad - no room for independant thinking at all.

MG: When will the poor Saudi Women be allowed to vote and will they even be able to see the Ballots from under their Burkhas? And how will they know if it's a
woman voting - it could be a man in disguise you know? And will the Saudi Men
even be allowed to touch and count the ballots, after women have handled them -
Won't the ballots have to be disinfected?

Nadz: Hahaha! Don't forget the high rates of rape and prostitution the voting will also cause! One quick note: in Saudi Arabia, women wear Abayas, not Burkas - they're black instead of blue and don't have that mesh thingy over the face.

Seriously, women will get the vote when they demand it - take to the streets and insist on their rights. Suffragettes in the States and Europe had to go on hunger strikes and chain themselves to railway tracks before they were given the right to vote. I hope it won't come to that, but it will take some action to get the vote. Time for a feminist revolution!

MG: What's the Best Movie you've seen in the last six months and why?

Nadz: I see lots of movies - I'm a big movie buff. the top of my head, I'd say Hotel Rwanda was a very powerful, touching movie. I loved the "lord of the rings" movies. I saw "Dr Stangelove" only recently and loved it.

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

Nadz: I had starting following mainstream blogs and learning about them through friends. Then, I started to follow a lot of the Iraqi and Middle Eastern blogs, and was encouraged by all of the pro-democracy, moderate bloggers saying things that we couldn't say on the streets. But I noticed that there were very few Arab female bloggers. I guess I wanted to add to the conversation about the mideast in the blogosphere, and make sure that women weren't left out of the dialogue.

MG: Besides your own Blog, what other Blogs do you read and can recommend?

Nadz: I like Instapundit, Buzzmachine, Publius Pundit and sometimes Little Green Footballs. As for the Middle Eastern blogs, I like Healing Iraq, Iraq The Model, Hammorabi, Mental Mayhem, Sandmonkey, Big Pharoah, The Bedouin Cowboy, Amarji The Heretic, Neurotic Iraqi Wife. Mahmoud's Den and Iraqi Blogger's Central, of course. I don't agree with her politics, but Riverbend is a great writer, so I read her blog. I've just discovered Baghdad's Mistress (through your blog, actually), which I find really interesting.

MG: What is your Favorite Food?

Nadz: Anything with cheese on it.

MG: Do you have a Sweet Tooth? Any dessert or junk food you absolutely
go Ga-Ga over?

Nadz: Chocolate chip cookies and tiramasu.

MG: Are you a South Park Republican?

Nadz: I think so. I've read some that book, and it sounds like me - socially, I'm probably liberal, but economically, I'm a little more conservative. I like laughing at both sides, however, and try to stay in the middle.

MG: So, you don't like Riverdance? How is this possible? Are you not wowed by the dancing mastery of one Mr. Michael Flatley?

Nadz: It's scary! It doesn't seem like dancing to me if no hip-shaking is involved - it's just kicking the air with freakishly accurate coordination. And Flately, I suspect, is pure evil.

MG: You talk about the "Hijab Squad" in your blog. Could you tell us who this
mysterious group of individuals are?

Nadz: They are a group of conservative Muslim women who are basically, intentionally or unintentially, cheerleaders for partiarchy. They like to claim that their hijabs are about "empowerment", that shariah is egalitarian, and that women have separate but equal roles. In reality, they end up apologizing for the oppression of their sisters and sanctioning male mistreatment of women. They're so vocal that they tend to drown out other Arab and Muslim women who are not so keen on being mouthpieces for sexism.

They were a bit mysterious until I revealed their leader, the Grand High Cheerleader of Patriarchy, in my blog. I still haven't found their secret volcano lair, however.

MG: Nadz, you don't wear the hijab yourself. Don't you know that the uncovered
hair of a woman produces sex rays that causes men to be filled with
Uncontrollable Lust and to lose all their control around women - even worse
than alcohol?

Nadz: Yep, I'm aware of the magical rays in my hair - it's all part of my sinister plan to control men and take over the world! Seriously, though, isn't that ridiculous? They think that all men are perverts because they're perverts themselves. And I wouldn't plan on using the magical hair ray defense in a rape trial - there's that other disgusting defense of "she asked for it".

MG: What's the Strangest Thing you've seen in your life?

Nadz: A man jogging with a cigarette in his mouth.

MG: Have you ever fallen under the sway of Moammar Ghadaffi?
That's one Stylin' Dictator - He could sweep you off your
feet, Nadz, if you're not careful.

Nadz: Hehe. Have you seen his all-female bodyguard squad? If I wasn't so anti-dictator, I might have to sign up. He's more stylin' than Kim Jong-Il, that's for sure. I'd probably prefer to be a crazy dctator than serve one, but that's just me.

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

Nadz: Thanks. No, I haven't seen a ghost. When I was 5, I thought I
saw one of Santa's elves - then I learned there was no santa, and my childhood ended.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Sam From Hammorabi

Sam from the Hammorabi Blog is the most Elusive, Passionate, and Mysterious of Iraqi Bloggers to share his thoughts
on his country of Iraq, the Middle East, Terrorism, and Geo-Politics. We really don't know who he truly is, but appreciate his contributions to the Blogosphere, and are
presented with the opportunity to learn more about his views on Blogging,
Iraq, Sistani, Childhood, Islam, Food, Terrorism, Muqti al Sadr, and more in:

The In T View: Sam From Hammorabi

MG: Hello Sam, How are you?

Sam: Hi MG.

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

Sam: Blogging is another way of communication, finding local news not covered by the media, and it gives (me the opportunity to converse with) lots of friends from all over the globe. I discovered it by seeing the other blogs through the Internet. Hammorabi is the Babylonian King who produced a full written law and I found this as a good name for something about Iraq.

MG: You have been writing your interesting blog for more than a year now.
What are the challenges associated with writing it and what is the best thing to you about blogging?

Sam: Writing to different readers who don't know the exact magnitude of the adversities and problems in Iraq since 36 years is by itself a challenge. It is about how I can tell you about the size of our suffering for many years? I only can say drop of the ocean. The best thing is learning from other people like you and having friends that you never seen. Communication and changing ideas is a big advantage and a challenge.

MG: Are there other Blogs you like to read and can recommend?

Sam: I read many blogs but can't recommend specific blogs.

MG: In your blog, you often refer to history. What is the most
interesting historical era -- in the Middle East or the World -- to you?

Sam: I like the ancient history of the mankind and how the man starts to make civilizations. Also interested in the history of the Arabs region and Iraq. I am not historian but some time read about the English and the American recent history.

MG: So, how do you view the commentators to your Blog?

Sam: Difficult to say a view about all the commentators because they are different, however I got lot of them like friends or say friends. I respect any views and ideas but without insult to the others or their religion as far as the others are not terrorists.

MG: What are your favorite places in Iraq and the World?

Sam: Historic places especially the very ancient, nature places and my favorite place in Iraq is where there are palm trees and water. The desert represents some thing mysterious that I would like to explore. I love the Iraqi marshes which could represent a beautiful tourist place and natural sanctuary for birds, fish, and it is the place of birth of the first human civilization where the first letter and syllable written.

MG: Let's chat a little about food, Sam. Months back, you talked about a Camel barbecued with honey and figs, that you would like to make for your friends and posters. Do you have a recipe for this?

Sam: The Camel BQ needs no recipe! It needs no salt either because the camel meat a bit salty. Well the recipe is a surprise.

MG: What was the best meal you ever had and why?

Sam: Iraqi Dates fresh from tree, yogurt and cream when all are fresh! Kiln grilled Iraqi marsh fish with freshly made Iraqi bread plus onion.

MG: What were your favorite subjects at school while growing up?

Sam: Math, science, biology.

MG: Could you tell us about a fond memory from your childhood?

Sam: When you are a child and being irresponsible, free like a bird not to worry about any thing is all nice. My school was certainly the nicest thing for me however the best thing in the school was when I receive my results and on the top of that when the summer holiday starts.

MG: Sam, what makes you laugh? What do you find funny?

Sam: Is there anything funny now a days?! Laugh when things go wrong unexpectedly some time to strong comedy shows and the secret cameras good show.

MG: Sam, I understand you're far from being a materialistic man,
but if you inherited about 50 Million Dollars, what would you to do with the money?

Sam: I will give some to my family and some to charity for sick children in Iraq and start a good business. If you like I will donate some for you!
(MG says: Yay, my credit card companies will be very grateful for Sam's donation.)

MG: Sam, what is essential to you in life?

Sam: Without God I won't survive. Peace and respect with values are important. To be good towards my God, myself, my family, the others, the environment and the world as a whole.

MG: What is your favorite book of all time?

Sam: The Holy Quran and the Holy Bible.

MG: What is the link between God and religion?

Sam: Strong without human manipulation

MG: What is the importance of ritual in religion?

Sam: Sort of exercise for the soul and programming the self to be on that religion.

MG: Al Sistani has been a force in Iraq. What do you see in the man and as a spiritual leader?

Sam: Wise, respecting the others and their views irrespective of their religions so can work as a symbol to unify. He is against the use of force and terrorism and the good thing he is calling for, (is) separation of the state from religion in a way not allowing the Mullas to impose themselves as politicians. This is the main difference between Najaf Hawza and Iran Hawza.

MG: Now Sam, should al-Sistani, unelected and not chosen by the Iraqi people to govern them or even represent them, be a force in a modern democratic state?

Sam: No he is not a political force but a spiritual leader and he was so during Saddam regime as spiritual leader so nothing changed now a part from taking his advices and views become public and important for the time being. Once the democratic process established and mechanism for election and constitution set out then Sistani or whoever comes after him will not impose themselves on the politics of the state unless asked to give advice. Indeed he is now not giving his views unless asked to give and he only suggest whether the others will take his suggestion or not. However a man like him is so important in this time like a father in the family.

MG: Some of the rules in Qumran are often interpreted in rigid ways, especially those related to women. What do you think of these interpretations?

Sam: This is a long subject and you need to be specific which role you mean? However not all the interpretations are correct.

MG: Do you think Islamic practices that are in contradiction to modern society and life can be reformed and modernized?

Sam: Absolutely not Islamic practice is so easy and it is the reverse in a materialistic life and stress when need to turn our faces at the end of the day to the highest power in this universe to pray and to sooth our hardship and suffering.

MG: What place should Sharia law have in a modern democratic state?

Sam: I don't think this can be implemented in Iraq.

MG: What are two of your favorites passages in the Qumran?

Sam: In the name of God (Allah) most Gracious most Merciful.

All the praises and thanks be to Allâh, the Lord of the 'Âlamîn (mankind, jinn and all that exists).

The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

The Only Owner (and the Only Ruling Judge) of the Day of Recompense (i.e. the Day of Resurrection)

You (Alone) we worship, and You (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything).
Guide us to the Straight Way

The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger nor of those who went astray

MG: Would you like to tell us about your family experiences under Saddam?

Sam: This is so long story but we lost a lot and many of my family have been executed.

MG: Saddam's regime was unforgiving. What marks did it leave on your beautiful country and you?

Sam: All what you may see now are the outcome of his mischiefs. The scars he inflicted will not go so easily.

MG: Sam, how must Iraqis cope with past decades of terror and death imposed by Saddam's Baathist Regime?

Sam: They pay thousands to try to topple him but he was supported by big states and Arabs in the region.

MG: What would you like your government to do to improve the security situation?

Sam: Well equipped army and police and punishment for terrorists with the
help of your country and other states.

MG: What special skills does it take to be a good Iraqi Prime Minister?

Sam: Educated, wise, just and not sectarian.

MG: Sam, there's a great deal of mistrust between the Bush Administration and
Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, with Adminsitration officials questioning
the Shia Leadership and Parties -- SCIRI and Dawa -- ties to Iran. Can
al-Jaafari and the Shia leadership be trusted or are they just stooges for the
terrorist supporting Iranian government?

Sam: He is just (part of) an interim government and there is going to be another election in Dec 2005, but he is Iraqi and not Iranian. Iran and the USA will be friends so soon and I assure you about this and Iraq could play a major role in this in future.

MG: How badly has Iranian Intelligence penetrated the Shia leadership?

Sam: I don't agree with this.

MG: What does it mean for Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, if Iran
becomes a Nuclear State?

Sam: I think all the nuclear weapons should be destroyed from the world to be safer and better.

MG: Sam, let's talk about Muqti al-Sadr. Why hasn't he been arrested yet?
How much murder and mayhem is one allowed to commit, before one faces
criminal proceeding in the new Iraq? Is he being coddled/protected by
Sistani and the Shia Theocracy?

Sam: This is multiple questions clustered in one - need to be asked to Alawi government. The last part is no he is not.

MG: Women in Iraq have been more prominent in society than in other ME
nations. What should their role be in the future of the country?

Sam: As the role of the women in your country.

MG: In Saudi Arabia, women have few rights. What are your thoughts about

Sam: Should change.

MG: Do you think Iraq could be a model for other Nations in the ME?

Sam: Not in its blood bath now but in future yes and we started to see
the effects in many Arab countries.

MG: If you were to spend a week as a substitute teacher in
a classroom of Iraqi children, ages 8 to 13, what would you tell them?

Sam: To be good to their parents, their selves and their country.
Build peaceful Iraq.

MG: How would you describe Iraqi society to a group of
students in America?

Sam: Friendly, generous, respectful, peaceful, hard workers and they love life.

MG: Do you have any hopes for the ME in terms of social, economic,
and political progress?

Sam: May be.

MG: Do you think Iraq should lead by example and develop friendly
relations with Israel (economic, political)?

Sam: Why not?

MG: Sam, would you ever consider entering politics, if you were
asked to do so?

Sam: Not impossible perhaps not

MG: Terror is the plague of our time. What do you think are its
roots? And secondly, how can the people of the Middle Eastern address it?

Sam: The Saudi Wahabism ; definitely.

MG: Sam, Why didn't Western Leftists denounce Saddam and his regime?

Sam: They are like him

MG: What do you think of Westerners, especially those on the left,
could learn from what is happening in Iraq?

Sam: A lot!

MG: Why doesn't Mainstream Islam denounce terrorism?

Sam: Who said so?!

MG: Thanks Very Much, Sam, for a Nice Interview, and final question:
Have you ever seen a Ghost?

Sam: No but only you after reading your long questions which make me at the end to see it like a ghost which is not going to finish but thank you for your interest indeed and good luck.

The In T View by Diane Carriere & Mister Ghost ~ Artwork by Mister Ghost

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Sandmonkey - No Monkeying Around For This Rising Star Of The Blogosphere

He's Snarky, Delightful, a Strong Advocate Of Democratic Reform in the Kingdom of the
Nile, and not afraid to ask and answer the tough questions about Egypt, the Middle East,
and the World in his Fine Blog: Rantings of a Sandmonkey.

And in the In T View: Sandmonkey - No Monkeying Around For This Rising Star Of The Blogosphere, Sam Adams aka The Sandmonkey snarkily pontificates on Egypt, Democracy, Women, Kicking-Back the Sandmonkey Way, Mubarak, Corruption, Blogging, the Red Sox, and much, much more.

It's The In T View: Sandmonkey - No Monkeying Around For This Rising Star Of The Blogosphere

MG: Yo Yo Yo Sandmonkey in da Pyramid
- How are you?

Sandmonkey: I am doing fine Ghostie. Yourself?

MG: What does Mubarak rhyme with?

Sandmonkey: You know, I can't seem to find a good English rhyme to Mubarak. I even
used a rhyming dictionary. I can give you an Arabic rhyme to it though : Homarak.
Your Arabic readers can explain to you what it means.

MG: What must Mubarak do to engender a more representatative government in Egypt and
how do you bring about Democratic Elections in Egypt without allowing repressive
Islamicists like the Muslim Brotherhood from taking over the country?

Sandmonkey: Declare Egypt to be a secular country and create a solid constitution that
follows a lot of the American one and make it the army's job to protect the constitution from
any attempts of messing with it. That and improving the educational system in Egypt,
cause u know, the MB, they strive on the ignorance of most Egyptians. That's probably
the sane and long-term solution. In the short term he can just employ Nasser tactics and
throw them all in jails. It worked in the 60's, should work now!

MG: Do Sandmonkeys like to eat Bananas or have their Bananas eaten?

Sandmonkey: Have their Bananas eaten. At least the Egyptian ones. Can't speak for all the sandmonkeys you know, especially that I hear that the Saudi sandmonkeys just love to eat
bananas. You probably thought they just wanted to separate women and men for religious reasons. That's a big lie man,: they just want to get rid of the competition. ;)

MG: Do you ever think about taking all the sand in the Sahara Desert, melting it down,
and building giant 1000-foot Tall Glass Dinosaurs all over North Africa?

Sandmonkey: If all the sand is gone, on what are we supposed to put those glass dinosaurs?

MG: You went to school in the Athens of America, the Hub, Beantown, good ol' "Love that Dirty Water, Boston you're my Home" Massachusetts. What are your favorite memories of Boston?

Sandmonkey: Hell yeah Beantown. Oh god, so many good memories. But I guess I will never forget the superbowl riots, u know, when the Patriots won? Holy shit man. There was girls flashing their boobs, kids climbing trees and flipping cars, people starting fires in the middle of the street, cops everywhere. Chaos and drunken pandemonium. God I loved it! I am a big fan of riots.

MG: Did the Red Sox win the World Series, because you got your Snarky Ass out of Massachusetts just in the nick of time?

Sandmonkey: Man, don't remind me. I feel like I took their curse with me. I spend 5 years there hoping that the Sox win, and 3 weeks after I leave, just 3 weeks, they finally win the World Series and reverse the curse. I saw them do it alone at home wearing my Red Sox t-shirt
and drinking a beer all by my lonesome. IT SUCKED! And I even missed the RIOT.
I had plans for the Best Buy across the street man, u know?

MG: Will a Moslem ever become Pope?

Sandmonkey: Hey, we live in a world where a poor black kid can grow up to be a
child molesting rich white man, so I am guessing anything is possible. Right?

MG: How did you become interested in Blogging, and how did your Blog: Rantings of a Sandmonkey come about?

Sandmonkey: Well, I was bored, I was waiting for my visa and I was fed up by the
ignorant idiotic shit people were parroting all around me without thinking about it first.
The people drove me nuts with their excuses and their conspiracy theories, and I realized that
many Egyptian bloggers exist where they spewed that shit out on the open making us look like morons. So I decided to provide an alternative opinion, if you will, to the world and inform
them that there are pro-American people out there. You know?

MG: Have you received criticism for using what some would consider an offensive term in the naming of your Blog?

Sandmonkey: Well, when I first heard the term sandmonkey I thought it was hilarious. I
really did. And when I came back to Egypt and the US embassy was giving me shit about getting my entry visa renewed, I used to bitch to my friends – who couldn't understand why they just won't give it to me since I am the most pro US person they knew- that it was because I was a sandmonkey to them. So I decided to change the use of the word and decided to turn it into something positive, u know, the way black people use the N word in reference to one another? The onlyperson who criticized my use of it is Magdee, but he probably just did it to get some traffic going to his blog. He does the same thing at Big Pharaoh's website , so I really can't hold it against him. You know?

MG: Besides your own Blog, what other Blogs do you like to peruse?

Sandmonkey: Hmm, on the political side I love to read Stefania, Iraq the model, Big Pharaoh, HEALING iRAQ IBC of course, Kungfu Kat, My vast right wing conspiracy, Nadz,
Andrew Sullivan and Hellme. I also sometimes read Raed's blog just so I can laugh my ass
off at his lunacy. On the personal side I love Highlander, Egyptiansally and Josie's
blogs. Basically run down my favorites list and that's the blogs I love to read.

MG: What does the Sandmonkey do, after a long day of Sandmonkeyness, to wind down?
Does the Sandmonkey have a Heffneresque Playboy Love Pad with Mirrored Ceilings, Revolving Heart-Shaped Vibrating Velvet Bed, a well-stocked Champagne Bar, Disco Balls,
Laser Lights, a Velvet Elvis, and a Karoeke Machine playing the Greatest Hits of Duran Duran?

Sandmonkey:Duran Duran? Did you just say Duran Duran? Man, if I am gonna chose an
80's band I would go with Queen. As for the pad, I wish. Having something like that in Egypt is hella expensive. What I usually do is go to my place, call the boys and girls, go out, or I just go home and either hook up my Ipod, sit on my lazyboy and read a book, or I sit down and play Halo2 on my XBOX and kill goddamn aliens.

MG: Is there a particular Pharoah that inspires you?

Sandmonkey: Hehehe! You can definitely say so. Good Ole GM. God bless him. He
definitely encouraged me when I got started, you know? He is the first one to send traffic
my way. But you can say we inspire each other and we keep each other honest. Unlike popular opinion amongst some Egyptian bloggers, me and him don't always see eye to eye and we definitely have our disagreements. He is more of a centrist when it comes to his political positions, while I am definitely more on the right. But we have that whole "I will respect
your opinion even if I don't agree with it" thing going, so it's all good.

MG: What's your favorite Body Part on a Woman?

Sandmonkey: Her stomach. Nothing sexier than a flat defined stomach. Then her Ass. I
am definitely an Ass man. I don't understand men who prefer boobs before Ass. Boobs are
way down on my list man.

MG: Will a Woman ever become President of Egypt?

Sandmonkey: A woman already is. Suzanne Mubarak gets to do everything she wants. That women is really the one in charge man. But if u mean elected democratically I would say that it
would take a long time for that to happen.

MG: Your Favorite Band and Why?

Sandmonkey: Well, it used to be Aerosmith, but then they Massivly SOLD OUT (Superbowl show
with NSYNC and Britney Spears anyone?). So now I am big on Maroon 5. I never tire of their
cd man. It's cool, it's chill, the ladies love it and "Through with you" is probably one of the best break-up songs to come up in the past 5 years.

MG: On the 1 - 10 Scale of Mid East Corruption, where Israel is about a 2 and Saudi Arabia and Iran about a 10, where does Egypt rank?

Sandmonkey: 11! We are definitely more corrupt then Saudi and Iran.

MG: And speaking of corruption in Egypt, how bad is the interaction between drug dealers
and the police in Egypt? Are a lot of the police taking a cut of the illegal drug trade?

Sandmonkey: The interaction is great man. I would say that a big percentage do take a cut
of the illegal drug trade one way or another. If not, they get bribed by them all the time.
Oh well!

MG: If you could meet anyone in the World, who would it be?

Sandmonkey: Alive or dead? If Alive, it would be Jim Carrey. I would love to take acid
and take the white house tour with Jim Carrey. I think that would be fun. Dead, I would have
to say Ayn Rand. I know it's a cliché that a libertarian wants to meet her, but that women wrote in her books things in the 1930's that I see applying in Egyptian society today. I would love to sit down and pick her brain, you know?

MG: Egypt and Israel seem to be more cooperative as of late, do you think there will be a broadening of realtions between the two countries?

Sandmonkey: Nope. It's the kiss of death
for any politician to do that. The only reason why the 2 are cooperating was because Mubarak wanted to please the US so that it wouldn't end up opposing a 5th term of his rule. As you can see, his plan failed miserably.

MG: What if Animals suddenly discovered they were all Naked?

Sandmonkey: Dude, they already know. All animals are nudists swingers. You didn't
know that?

MG: What's the Numero Uno, Top of the Heap, Number One Way to Combat Terrorism?

Sandmonkey: For muslim males to have lots and lots of sex and a good time. You give someone sex in this life, and they won't blow themselves up in order to have sex in the afterlife. That's just my own personal theory and I could be wrong!

MG: I've come to the conclusion, that there's a smoldering Love Affair between the
Middle East and Jennifer Aniston's hair. How did this seismic upheval in the social-geo-politics of an entire region come about?

Sandmonkey: I don't know man. It's a mystery to me too!

MG: Can you explain what the Arab Parallel Universe or APU is? Isn't that the guy from The Simpsons?

Sandmonkey: Hey, I love APU. And no, the A.P.U. and him are not the same thing. It's basically the alternative reality that most arabs love to live in, instead of you know, the actual reality. Go read my post on it. It should explain it better.

MG: Favorite Flavor of Ice Cream?

Sandmonkey: Chocolate Chip cookie dough

MG: Twenty years from today, will the Mid East look radically different than it is

Sandmonkey: Yes it will. It will be divided between those countries that are joining the modern world, and those whose rulers refuse to do what's best for their people. I just hope Egypt isn't in that last category.

MG: Thanks Very Much Sandmonkey for a Nice Interview and final question: Have you ever seen a Ghost?

Sandmonkey: You are welcome man. And no, can't say I did. Now genies, that's a different story. But never a ghost.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Iraq The Model's Omar - Blogging's Modest Superstar

He's the Beckham of Bloggers.

Amidst the vast realms and recesses of the Millions Strong Blogosphere crisscrossing the Great Planet, very few Bloggers are Identified - Widely Known by One Name. Omar from
Iraq The Model
is the exception.

Omar! Omar! Omar!

Omar is an Iraqi Blogging Superstar, Dentist, Ardent Supporter of Freedom and Democracy in Iraq, and co-developer of a tool that allows millions of voices that ere
previously excluded from the Internet to finally be heard.

And in: The In T View: Iraq The Model's Omar - Blogging's Modest Superstar, we explore Omar's thoughts on Iraq, Islam, Dentistry, Blogging, Commentators, Picking Up Chicks, Freedom, Book Deals, and a whole lot more.

It's The In T View: Iraq The Model's Omar - Blogging's Modest Superstar

MG: Omar, How the Hell are you these days?

Omar: I'm fine as hell!

MG: Okay, let's talk about the Biggest Rumors that are associated with you:

Rumor 1: The Brothers Fadhil and you have a Book Deal or are writing a book. Can you
clarify this issue?

Omar: As you just described it my friend, these are rumors; there's no such deal and we're not working on a book but if a deal is offered we will think about it for sure.

MG: Rumor 2: You have lots of American Girlfriends. Any comments?

Omar: I have lots of American friends, both men and women but no girlfriends*.

MG: Rumor 3: You and the Brothers work for a certain American Spy Agency. LOL. Hmmm?

Omar: Actually we work for an extra-terrestrial spy agency from Jupiter.

MG:Speaking of which, if you're really on the CIA's payroll, shouldn't you be making more than a Iraqi Dentist's salary?

Omar: I don't know exactly how much money the CIA offers but those purple guys
from Jupiter pay really good money! You want me to talk to them? Maybe I can find you a job with us.

MG: Do you give discounts to pretty Female Patients or at least give them a free shot of Novocaine on the house?

Omar: A patient is a patient (in the same way that a customer is a customer),
that's how I do any kind of business and by the way I don't have my own clinic.

MG: Do Male Iraqi Dentists treat female patients or is their Sexual Segregation, with Women Dentists treating female patients?

Omar: There's no such segregation; I worked in a place where the majority of the population is very committed She'at in the marshes area for one year and the female/male patient ratio was close to 3/2.

MG: When you were growing up, did you say to yourself, "Omar, you are going to be one Bad Ass Iraqi Dentist someday." Just kidding. Why did you choose to become a

Omar: I didn't choose dentistry out of love for dentistry at that time. My marks qualified me to get any college I wanted but I saw Ali studying medicine and I saw Mohammed studying dentistry and I made a comparison between the two colleges (not professions) and dentistry won, one year less at college, less books to read, more
practical and more fun.

When I was a kid I wanted to become a pilot (typical kid dreams I guess) but later at high school I realized that I was fond of physics but the poor future for graduates of that college made me discard the idea. I still love physics till this moment. Anyway, I don't regret being a dentist; it's a nice profession.

MG: Did you ever think of leaving Iraq and moving to America to become the
Dentist To The Stars? You know Brad Pitt there, has a seperate dentist for each
one of his teeth, and right now, I think there's a vacancy with his upper left bicuspid.

Omar: If that's true about Brad Pitt, then I announce him a tooth-freak! No, really, I like the place where I live and I wish it becomes as modern and civilized as the States are.

MG: Is dentistry a lucrative profession in Iraq? When you're introduced as a Dentist to friends and strangers, do women, particularly Moms with unmarried daughters, see Dinar Signs in their eyes, when they learn of your profession and want you to meet their 35-year-old unmarried daughter Fatima? Unfortunately, Fatima usually has a unibrow and a bushier mustache than you do.

Omar: LOL, not exactly because being a dentist has more social value than material (economic) value; it's a classy profession but it isn't an indication of being rich.

MG: And speaking of your mustache, Omar, I don't want to hurt your feelings,
but it's kind of wimpy looking. Do you ever wish you had one of those full-figured,
Charles Bronson, "Back Away From Me Punk" macho type stashes?

Omar: I don't feel hurt at all! It's actually funny; the truth is that I don't pay much attention to the way I look. I usually have a very short moustache (although I had a thick one two years ago) I graded the hair clipper so that it keeps my moustache at 2mm high and I trim it every other day but when I'm busy I forget or ignore doing this for a week or more and that's when the wimpy looking moustache appears.

MG: How difficult is it to critique and criticize Islam in a nation with a
Majority Muslim population?

Omar: Criticizing any religion as a whole is not a good idea regardless of the
place but I can show criticism to certain ideas I consider wrong but I usually tend
to avoid having such discussions with extremists of either sect.

MG: Omar, I believe there are two forces in Iraq that have the unique ability
to unite all the Iraqis from the Shias to Kurds, Sunnis to Islamicists, Baathists to Christians. And those are Soccer, and Jennifer Aniston's Hair.

MG: Can you explain to me the smoldering Mid East Love Affair with Jennifer Aniston's hair?

Omar: I'm not really fond of Aniston but I think she has a nice hair. I actually find Angelina Jolie more attractive.

MG: Let's try a little Word Association, Omar:


Omar: Fake

Muqti al Sadr

Omar: One digit IQ

Salam Pax

Omar: A spark

Al Jazeera

Omar: You mean Al-Bin Ladeera?

Sam from Hammorabi

Omar: Can do better

Ladybird from Baghdad Dweller

Omar: Promising blogger

MG: Will you be attending the Raed Jarrar and Nikki the Irani's Wedding?

Omar: I hate weddings

MG: Omar, how did you become interested in Blogging and how did your Blog: Iraq The Model come about?

Omar: We-the three of us-were searching for a way to enter the world of the internet and we were trying to find a way to start our own website as we had a LOT to say but technical difficulties stood in our way until Zeyad one day told me and AYS that he started a "blog".

Okay, what the hell is that? Was my question. He explained the outlines of the idea to me and within less than a week Iraq the Model and Iraq at a Glance were up. By the way, Mohammed chose the name of the blog.

MG: How well known is Iraq The Model in Iraq?

Omar: Not well known as far as I know, only friends and family know that we run this blog and I receive a few e mails every now and then from readers in Iraq.

MG: How does the Media in Iraq treat Iraqi Blogs? Do they even know they exist
or just become aware of them, when they need to swipe a photo?

Omar: The 2nd choice; they become aware of them only when they need to swipe a photo.

MG: Omar, as ITM has become more well known, do you feel your safety and security have been compromised?

Omar: I think I was more concerned about personal safety and security when I started the blog than I am right now.

MG: Besides your Blog, are there any other Blogs you like to read?

Omar: I check about 60 or 70 blogs twice everyday but I especially enjoy reading a number of blogs like Instapundit, Buzz Machine, Chrenkoff, Roger Simon and Harry's Place as well as a number of military blogs and Iraqi blogs written in English and in Arabic.

MG: Omar, let's talk a little bit about the commentators to your Blog, those people who share their opinions, links, and questions, after each and every one of ITM's Postings. So, how do you feel towards ITM's Commentators?

Omar: I say that blogging can't be complete without comments and I really consider many most of the commentators as friends but I wish the commentators would stick more to the topic of the post.

MG: Will you be adopting a Registration System for your Comments Section soon?

Omar: I'm not working on that right now, maybe in the future.

MG: And you deleted about 120 comments from a recent thread, provoking cries of anguish from many of the posters. Did you have a reason to delete those comments?

Omar: I deleted exactly 83 comments, not 120 and of course I had a reason; I
deleted only the comments that were off topic and that were related to the stupid and racist conversation that took place that day. I am not sure I took the right move but I am sure that engaging someone in an "impotent or sterile" conversation is not smart at all. So I wanted to put an end to these conversations. I expect that anyone would be pissed of when he finds that only 6 out of 90 comments posted on his blog were related to his post.

MG: What's the Iraqi's people's favorite brand of toothpaste?

Omar: The most common brand is a Turkish one called Sanino, but a lot of
people prefer Signal-2, I like Close Up more.

MG: Do you have any Pets?

Omar: I don't have any pets at the moment but I had different pets at earlier
times. Frankly speaking, our home used to look like a Zoo at certain times.

MG: What's the best way to mitigate against Terrorism, other than shooting the
Terrorists in the Head, which is my preferred method?

Omar: I think shooting them in the head is just a symptomatic treatment, i.e. it relieves the situation for a while but doesn't eradicate the origin of the disease.

We need to prove that their ideology is wrong by showing the people that democracy, respect for human rights and tolerance can bring prosperity and protect everyone's rights. Terrorism grows and flourishes under tyrannies (although in a latent form
sometimes) so I believe that fighting terrorism militarily should go side
by side with building a state of law, human rights and democracy.

MG: Tell us about the Spirit of America and how you got involved with the organization?

Omar: I had a link on my blog to Spirit of America long before we started to cooperate on a number of projects that aim at promoting democracy and freedom of speech. The practical involvement began when one of our dearest friends, Kerry Dupont who was the project manager of that organization for some time introduced us to Jim Hake, the founder of Spirit of America. The most important project we worked together on was developing the Arabic blogging tool and I'm really proud of being part of this project which is proving sizable success.

MG: Omar, you helped develop the Arabic Blogging Tool. What exactly is it and what does it do for those of an Arabic persuasion?

Omar: The idea is pretty simple, we took an almost ready tool and translated the buttons and key words to make it easier for non-English speaking users and the tool was modified to better accept Arabic texts (you know the right to left vs. left to right thing).

The tool also provides the user with the ability to publish pictures, audio and even
video files for free, i.e. no upgrade fees required.

MG: So Omar, what is the typical Omar move when you're trying to impress an Iraqi Hottie Woman? Do you tell her, "Hey Baby, I'm very good at filling all your cavities, if you know what I mean?"

Omar: LOL, no really, I'm not good at flirting and when I try to impress a hottie I just ignore her! A technique that had been successful in keeping me as single as a plagued dog!

MG: Omar, what does Freedom mean to you and how can the Iraqi people safeguard this newfound Freedom?

Omar: Freedom is life to me. Iraqis can safeguard their freedom by respecting each other's freedoms.

MG: Omar, when you're knock-knock-knocking on Heaven's Door and about to draw
your Final Breath, will you be able to say to yourself, "Omar Fadhil, you have lived your life to the fullest and you have made the world a better place?"

Omar: If this is to happen soon, then I think I won't be qualified to say that.

MG: What Does God or Allah mean to you?

Omar: The living conscience.

MG: The great majority of Muslims around the world, even those living in the West, seem to have a hard time questioning Islam and especially the Prophet. Why? Do you think this is ok? It must take courage to go against that trend.

Omar: This is not okay for sure. Lots of myths and wrong ideas and practices were introduced into Islam over the past 14 centuries and if Muslims want to keep
their belief alive they must overcome this fear and start questioning things.

What many people unfortunately fail to understand/remember is that Islam didn't
come up with rigid molds; instead Islam provided EXAMPLES and asked the people
to work their minds to find solutions for future similar problems that would
definitely be different from the troubles existed at the time when Quran came.

God, through the Quran itself asked Muslims to THINK and ASK in order to reach the truth and I believe that intimidating people and preventing them from practicing their right of thinking is a harsh violation to human rights.

MG: Is Islam really compatible with Women's Rights?

Omar: Islam in the form it came in 14 centuries ago is not compatible with TODAY'S women rights but at that time it granted women many rights they were deprived of. The nature and needs of societies change with time, that's why civic laws and constitutions are written. No society can exclusively depend on a legislation written hundreds or thousands years ago and at the same time seeks progress.

MG: What is the most beautiful place in Iraq to you?

Omar: Any place the Tigris or the Euphrates passes through. I also like the
mountains and waterfalls in Kurdistan as well as the marshes. It's really hard to
decide which place is more beautiful.

MG: Omar, What is your biggest fear?

Omar: Snakes!

MG: Saddam's regime stole 50 years of progress in Iraq - In the 50's Iraq was more progressive than any Arab nations, it was secular, it had a real economy, and women were active in the society. Do you think Iraq can reach that level again or even go beyond it?

Omar: I believe Iraq can go beyond that and we can already see signs pointing in this direction especially on the political aspect but to have an overall major progress that put Iraq in the front again, it will take maybe 10 years.

MG: If some one asked you to describe the differences between Iraqis and Americans, what would you say?

Omar: I don't think I can give a full essay on this subject but I've noticed that Americans are more hardworking than Iraqis in general and they also have a greater respect for time (not respecting time is a 3rd world trait by the way!).

Another weird difference I noticed is that most Americans hate American cars while most Iraqis love American cars.

However, I have noticed (and this may sound bizarre) that Americans and Iraqis have more things in common than either of them have with most Europeans, especially when it comes to keeping a sense of humor at the hardest times. Maybe I'm wrong but believe me; this is how I see it.

MG: What do you wish for your children and future generations in Iraq?

Omar: I wish they get to live in a violence-free, oppression-free Iraq where
they can get all what they deserve.

MG: That's very much for a Nice Interview, Omar, and Final Question: Have you ever seen a Ghost?

Omar: Would they still be considered ghosts if one got to see them?

(And Special Thanks to Diane Carriere for additional questions.)

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