March 27, 2007

Kings inspired

Although, Abbas Hilmi was a Khedive, this collectible postcard shows him with the motto "Kings are inspired". Somehow, postcards were already used back then for political propaganda as early as 1904 as can be shown in the postcard above. It is actually a very nice one embossed and the little golden flower under the Starring Khedive is just amazing.

While this postcard that also features Abbas Hilmi is dated 1903 and portrays him alongside the flag. One should notice the naive symbolism as he is also portrayed within a crescent as if he is the star of the flag . In any case Abbas Hilmi was depositioned as the last Khedive of Egypt to be replaced by his uncle Sultan Hussayn Kemal, who was also incidentally chosen by the Brits to hold the title of King of Sudan. The Sultanate existed for three years, and then it became a Kingdom with King Fouad. It was the time when Egypt was called the Kingdom of Egypt and Sudan. It did last until 1953 when Sudan was given the rights to self determination and self government and in 1956 it got full independance status.

March 25, 2007

Demonstration II

It all boiled down to a few people arrested and a demonstration of the iron fist in a velvet glove by the security forces (a minute by minute report) . By 21.00, everybody has gone home but for the few unlucky ones that were arrested to set an example. Actually, I wonder about the economical viability of having thousands of security forces headed by a lot of high ranked officers to encircle a few hundreds and to arrest a couple of dozens.
Tahrir Square was not invaded by angry petitioners, actually, it was suggested to them that the syndicate of Journalists was a better place to demonstrate. The few ones who insisted were taken away. Those who went to the syndicate of journalists were encircled on the stairways leading to the syndicate. Someone who was there claimed there were as many as 200 people manifesting, and a few thousands encircling.
Nothing much happened. It seems very few really care.

Constitutional changes

(click here for to see full comic)
I took this from "Crooks and Liars". I believe it is quite funny that there is the same muted discontent against the Patriot Act and the constitutional changes proposed in Egypt. Seems every country is starting to prepare head ways to accuse of treason anyone who goes out of the ranks. The idea is for us to shut up and do what we are told to and live happily ever after. In any case there are no political paradises even if there are some fiscal ones.

Demonstrations 1

I live in a house overlooking Liberation Square. Tahrir Square, Cairo.
Which by a strange disposition of time has become the preferred playground of the few politicized anti governmental Egyptian.
I suspect the powerful international Green movement for moving the demonstrations out of the university and into downtown Cairo. It definitely gives Cairo a few hour of rest from pollution and the such. I remember once I was just amazed how much the level of noise pollution came down during a previous demonstration. The guys and girls who were motivated were shouting many slogans not all polite and respectuous. Still they were much less noisy than a normal traffic in the throbbing heart of Cairo, or a normal call to prayer, this often has to fight the noise pollution of Cairo but in these instances it is really impressive, even if the muezzins are not well tuned, timing wise..
I sometimes wonder what is the reason why the government decided to let it happen. I mean after all , a march coming out from Liberation Square would have a strong marketable appeal, it is true on the other hand that any demonstration is kind of overshadowed by the Mogama'a. The Mogama'a is the government, or at least its inescapable symbol.
For details about the demonstrators demands one can read about what the parliament itself is saying.
What started me on this was that I am more and more impressed by the anger management techniques used by the government. Even if the car were not allowed to be parked at both Tallaat Harb and El Tahrir street from early morning. The first anti riots cars only arrived and parked at 14.00 . By 15.00, the barriers are slipped over to their places. So that everything is ready for the media circus being shown. By 20.00 or so, people are expected to have vented down and peacefully go home, after a light stampede initiated by the guarding police forces and with help from the cold bite of the Cairene wind, while later in the year they expect people to be thirsty and want out to drink.. Everything seems to be under control. A few contradicting orders were diligently followed then backed up but nothing more dramatic than a handful of traffic department men, closing Talaat Harb street off befor it was time to. Nonetheless the call for the demonstration is only 18.00, so if anything different happens. I might be back.

March 22, 2007

America America

Remember John Bolton? The interim US ambassador at the time of the last Lebanon war. It was when the Israeli army invaded south Lebanon under the pretext of liberating two Israeli fighters abducted by the HezbAllah.

Mr Bolton, a controversial and blunt-speaking figure, said he was "damned proud of what we did" to prevent an early ceasefire. He made his claim to pride in a BBC documentary about that war called the Summer war to be broadcasted in April.
Bolton added that the US was deeply disappointed at Israel's failure to remove the threat from Hezbollah and the subsequent lack of any attempt to disarm its forces. He even acknowledges that the US decided to join efforts to end the conflict only when it was clear Israel's campaign wasn't working.
I refrain from commenting about it.Although I wonder if this invasion was not the fiasco it has been when would they have asked for the implementation of the ceasefire, or would they have rather waited until all of Lebanon was invaded, and then would have they asked for a withdrawal? The US policies are just too ugly and biased to analyze.
Just for the record though, John Bolton's entrĂ©e into the administration of George W. Bush began with the Florida vote recount during the 2000 presidential elections. Working closely with his former boss James Baker, Bolton worked to block recount efforts. According to the Wall Street Journal (July 19, 2002), Bolton's “most memorable moment came after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a halt to the recount, when Mr. Bolton strode into a Tallahassee library, where the count was still going on, and declared: ‘I'm with the Bush-Cheney team, and I'm here to stop the count'.”
America America. I wonder where are you taking us.

March 21, 2007

Bad Reputation

The poster above is for A woman with a bad reputation, directed by Henri Barakat , starred by Shams elBaroudi.
Shams Al Baroudi is one of the first stars of the Egyptian cinema to have taken the veil. She starred in many movies in the late sixties up to when she decided to go the pious way, eventually wearing a full niqab. Ironically, when she was acting she was quite open about nudity. In any case, she decided for the veil quarter of a century ago, deciding instead to give her time for the glory of Allah.

I had the chance to meet Henri Barakat playing bridge at the Gezirah Sporting club, he was quite a charming little old man, apart of that he is one of those many Egyptian directors that never reached international recognition although deserving it as much as the famed Youssef Chahine, the list includes many others such as Hassan el Imam, Fatin abdel Wahab, Salah Abu Seif and a few others.

a few posters featuring Shams Al Baroudi including Fatin Abdel Wahab's "Happiness Hotel" and the famous "Malatili Bath" by Salah Abu Seif.

March 12, 2007

Ismail Yassin

Ismail Yassin (1912-1972) has been and remains one of the favorite comedians in the Arab world. I personally never liked him although I have to admit he was quite funny some times, however he used too many pouting and grimacing. He was the Egyptian version of Norman Wisdom.

March 8, 2007


A German couple seems to walk in the footsteps of many Egyptian Gods and Kings, Goddesses and Queens, and some of the Greeks , Incas and even Biblical figures. Actually most mythologies have stories of incest. The German couple even have four offspring. Three of those were taken away and relocated by the government. The story has run in different places but it feels like a hoax. I wonder though if the BBC, CNN, and all the others do not check their sources. However, even if it is a hoax, it is interesting to see that there were not too many people who commented on blogs. The few who did were on different shades of the anti incest league spectrum, going from defending old morals on the ground of them being old and therefore well tried, to Neo Christian blogs that incidentally are political and fanatical supporters of George Bush, some being less obviously so in spite of some unacceptable comments about Europe and Europeans, through a doubtful sense of humor, while this was the less adamant one.
Does this stem from a disinterest in the question of whether the bases for the illegality (criminalization) of incest are sound? Or do some predict already that it could give a blow to their faith? After all, taboos and religions are closely related. Actually the Bible features at least two stories about incest done by the good guys (those preferred by God almighty), even if Lott did not do it consciously he still got kids from his daughters, while Moses himself, after receiving the 10 commandments, received as a bonus a special permission to marry his half sister. There is also the obviously naive question of how did Adam's and Eve's offspring multiply, and the same naivete stands about Noah and his arch.
My goal though is not to discuss religion.
Anti abortionists view point is quite clear cut, but I am not sure it is as logic as it seems to assume. I wonder what is their point of view about this case.
The truth though is that permissiveness about incest has been correlated with the internet in yet another attempt into diabolizing it and this as far back as 2002.

Portrait Monthly Birthday

Portrait is a Gallery in Cairo that also publishes a magazine. The Portrait magazine is one year old. Happy Birthday.

If I thoroughly enjoyed the works of the founder of that gallery, my opinion about the magazine and about the exhibitions I saw there is a bit on the reserved side.
To start off, it bothers me that the whole institution is a copycat of the Institutionalized artistic scene, meaning that it has lots of intricate relations with people who are either from within the Governmental circle of Art (Ministry of Culture), or are very much trying to belong to it. The editorial policy of the magazine tends to irritate by its choice of articles, many being pedantic while being clearly flirting with the people in charge. Also some articles are really badly written and would need extensive editing.
An interesting feature disappeared two issues ago, namely the space reserved to the works of children of school age. It was replaced by articles in English that might be interesting from the point of view of international marketing for Egyptian art.
There are also many other critiques that can be lavishly showered on the magazine. The printing, although having gone better in its one year of existence, still could be much improved.
The advertisements within the magazine also have to be rethought as it is quite strange for an art magazine to show the ugly National Paints ads on their back cover. It is understood that to be able to publish art magazines, funds are needed and have to be raised, but maybe an artistic consultant could explain to the advertising companies that those ads act as a double blow to both the magazine and the company that insists on using its international billboard campaign in an art magazine. An idea would be to publish works of art with the company logo attached to it. Or even better, to reinstall the work of children in a page offered by a sponsor, logo and even a short advertising included. Another idea for finding sponsors might be to reach out to the many national and foreign culture centers scattered around.
Finally, it is regrettable that the listing of museums and galleries (even if incomplete) that was included in the first 3 issues has disappeared.

In spite of all this, the fact remains that the efforts involved in the magazine are to be encouraged and applauded. After all any 1 year old has to be considered as a toddler.

March 4, 2007

USA 1961

In 1961

John F. Kennedy becomes president of the US

An estimated 1200 anti-Castro exiles aided by the US make a failed invasion of Cuba's Bay of Pigs

Navy Cmdr. Alan B. Shepard Jr. becomes the first US spaceman rocketing 118 miles above the earth

Hurricane "Carla" wipes out Texas gulf cities, claiming 46 lives

Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin makes the first manned space flight

Wayne Gretzky, Henry Rollins, Fabio, George Clooney, Dennis Rodman, and Diana, Princess of Wales are born

New York Yankees win the World series

Green Bay Packers win the NFL championship

Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup

Disney's One Hundred and One Dalmatians is the top grossing film

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is published

The Miracles' "Shop Around" becomes Motown's first million-selling single

It can be fun to check out what happened back then. Unfortunately, the picked events are mostly American . After all in 1961, nobody talked yet about Globalization. Apart for Gagarin one would think everything happened in the US.

I believe though that in Egypt the Agricultural reform laws were passed. Also Marilyn Monroe divorced Arthur Miller. Dag Hammarskjold, UN secretary general was killed in an plane crash. Adolf Eichmann found guilty in a trial in Israel. Patrice Lumumba Prime Minister of Congo was murdered. The French voted massively 75 per cent for Algeria's freedom. The Berlin Wall was built. In England the pill was finally available to all 10 years after its invention. Electric Toothbrush were marketed and Barbie got a boyfriend by the name of Ken. Barrack Obama and Amr Diab were born.The Vietnam war officially begins. Digital photography was invented. Ernest Hemingway commits suicide. Hassan II is proclaimed King.

Also, MAD Magazine pointed out on its cover for the March issue, this was the first "upside-up" year—i.e., one in which the numerals that form the year look the same as when the numerals are rotated upside down—since 1881, and the last until 6009.

So if you are interested maybe a better way of finding out is to do a search on the year you were born and check what Wikipedia says.

March 3, 2007

Capitalist Vs Socialist

That was the result I got when I did that test. Strange though how can someone be 3/4 socialist and the rest of him capitalist. I am not sure I am convinced.

You Are 24% Capitalist, 76% Socialist

You tend to be quite wary of businesses, especially big business.
While you know that corporations have their place, you tend to
support small, locally owned shops.
As far as the rich go, you think they're usually corrupt and immoral.

As far as the rich go I do not think they are specifically more corrupt or immoral than anyone else ... but these are funny quizzes.

Actually I got feedback for the kisser quiz and I was told that the worst result you could get was : Sweet but Shy. It seems that the designers of the test do not think there are bad kissers in the world. In this one too you will always find a percentage of Capitalist or socialist in it. It is all about duality, isn't it?

March 2, 2007


Zogolopoulo No 16 : At the Mousky Bazar

Postcards of Egypt are interesting from many points of view.
For one, Egypt has always fascinated writers and artists. At the very start of photography, early photographers joined the bandwagon of Egyptomania. So from the point of view of the photographic history, it is quite interesting to go through them. I stumbled upon a site that shows a nice array of Egyptian postcards.
For some others though, it is these postcards nostalgic effect that is their main claim to fascination. While for others they are considered as a reminder of days gone by. For example, it would be unimaginable to be able to have people posing in front of their stalls at the Mousky Bazar. Just too many people, moving too erratically.
However one can still see the donkey carriages transporting people in some remote villages, but they are fast disappearing.
The two Zologopoulo postcards are part of my personal collection and I specifically like them for 2 reasons , firstly the size of them is quite unusual and second they are hand coloured.

Zologopoulo No 20 : Cairo Native Promenade

Perfect Kisser

Another one of those blogthings or should we call them quizzes ? It gave me quite an ego boost, although I wonder how they could find out without actually testing me. Maybe everybody gets the same result. don't know. Check it out .

Perfect Kissing Technique

Your kissing technique is amazing - and you know it.

You have the confidence to make the first move.

And you always seem to know what kissing style is going to work best.

Sometimes you're passionate, sometimes you're a tease. And you're always amazing!

March 1, 2007


I've been thinking about blogs and what to do with them. In my opinion, it is a platform for reaching out. A place to leave a fingerprint for the rest of the world. Is it really worth leaving anything to the world? What I mean is that our world has enough bullshit all over , actually one of the biggest problems the world at large is having is to find a way to discard the waste. Ideally all of it. The industrialized world is using the third world to do so, they also tried the oceans and some specifically advanced countries even thought about sending that waste into orbit. Some even try recycling. However all these are just temporary solutions. Kind of an escape into the future. In a way we are just shelving the waste, until some solution to the problem is found. That could take a few generations. However the homo sapiens is a doomed species. Homo sapiens will have to mutate into some other scientifically definable entity, (could be electromagneticum sapiens) if life is to go on and I mean planet earth originated life. According to many scientists, we are on the no return curve as far as Global Warming is concerned, even if we are not there yet. I am not scientifically convinced by any of the two contradicting theories but then I am not a scientist nor would I have been willing to make the effort it involves to become one. I take this opportunity to proclaim my respect for those who undertook scientific careers.
Basing myself on proven historical theories, such large scale and uncontrollable change will be once again a sign for mutational forces to come into play in order to preserve life. But then again there are signs that these mutational forces are already working much faster than they did for the last 2 millenniums if not more. I am basing myself on the spread of mysterious diseases to animals. Mad cow disease and Bird flu to mention the most commonly referred to in news items. They are the result of viruses mutation same as HIV. What has been helping those mutational forces include deforestation, industrial pollution, transportation pollution (cars, planes, trains, etc....)

Some scientist would disagree I suppose and I would have to sit down and listen to these modern sorcerers in awe and respect (probably falling asleep). They do know so much more than I do about all that.