ThysdrusRoman Coliseum of El-Jem

Panem et Circensis

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Location: Tunis, Tunisia, Tunisia

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Tunisia, A Paradigm To Mideast Reform?

Two Paris-based Arab writers called upon the US Administration in its push for democracy in the Middle East to "reflect upon the Tunisian experience as it is worthy of much consideration".

Gospel of Judas Back in Spotlight

About 2,000 years after the Gospel according to Judas sowed discord among early Christians, a Swiss foundation says it is translating for the first time the controversial text named after the apostle said to have betrayed Jesus Christ.

Rethinking Sharia

An interesting article in The Boston Globe, where the author calls for a moratorium on Islamic Penal Code, Sharia, which according to him should be replaced by Ijtihad (critical exegesis of religious texts).

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Muslims Plan Rally Against Terror

On May 14, 2005, Free Muslims Against Terrorism plans for a Washington rally in support of freedom and democracy in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Brazilian Bishop Suggests Using "Prudence" in Reading The Da Vinci Code

Monsignor Jose Maria Pinheiro, nominated to be bishop of Sao Paulo - one of the largest Catholic dioceses in the world - by Pope John Paul II two weeks ago, instead suggests readers to use "prudence" in distinguishing fact from fiction if they read the book.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Standing Alone In Mecca

This is the title of an interesting book by Asra Nomani, a Muslim woman born in India and raised in West Virginia and currently a Wall Street Journal correspondent. In Her book Nomani recounts the hajj she took with her infant son, father and mother and niece and nephew. She examines the role of women in Islam and details her fight against sexism and intolerance at her local mosque.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Islam and Gender Roles

This is an interesting piece in The Christian Science Monitor which raises the issue of the right of women in Islam to lead prayers. To my knowledge, in Islam the role of Imam has been always held by men while women, contrary to the Monitor's article claim, are allowed to attend Friday prayers but they have to be in a separate room where they can hear the Imam delivering the prayer whitout mixing with other men. Coming to the pilgrimage to Mecca women and men can mix while performing the different collective rituals of Hajj, but at the time of prayers they are not allowed to mix with men and they have to stand in a separate group. In fact, in Islam women are encouraged to attend Friday prayers in the mosque but they are not obliged to do so. However women, can lead prayers at home and this is only in the absence of a male adult who will then lead the prayer while women will stand behind him.

I think I need more research on this issue and I know that in Christianity there are women ministers and priestesses (if this is the correct term for a female priest) but I wonder what's the take of Christianity and Judaism regarding the role of woman as religious leader whether in a Church or a Synagogue.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Love & Peace

Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and
joy and knowledge that pass all the art and
argument of the earth,
And I know that the hand of God is the promise of
my own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of
my own,
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers,
and the women my sisters and lovers,
And that a kelson of the creation is love,
And limitless are leaves, stiff or drooping in the
And brown ants in the little wells beneath them,
And mossy scabs of the worm-fence, and heaped
stones, elder, mullen, and pokeweed.

From Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Denim Ad of Staged Da Vinci Last Supper Stirs Massive Outrage In Europe

Parisian denim purveyor Marithe et François Girbaud staged Da Vinci's Last Supper in drag last week to mass outrage in Europe. The corporatization of Jesus and the girl Christ was more than the faithful could take. Girbaud's apostles in couture roused first the uproar of Italian bishops and then French judges, who banned the ad and levied a 100,000 fine a day until it disappears. The church's lawyer drew a direct connection between sacrilegious images and violence in schools.(Via CounterPunch).

Motherese & Fatherese

According to a new theory by world-renowned anthropoligist Dean Falk of Florida State University : "motherese" began 1.6 million years ago, contradicting the commonly held notion that humans didn't start talking until about 98,000 B.C. (Via Brain & Behavior).

Vatican Appoints Archbishop to Debunk the Da Vinci Code

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Archbishop of Genoa and a possible successor to the Pope, has been appointed by the Vatican to rebut what the Catholic church calls the "shameful and unfounded errors" contained within The Da Vinci Code. He is organising a series of public debates focusing on the conspiracy theories and what the Vatican sees as the blurring of fact and fiction at the heart of the thriller.
(The Guardian)

Friday, March 25, 2005

News Quiz

How well do you know the news? I tried this quiz and I got 60% of questions correctly.

Medical Quiz

Try this amusing medical quiz. To my surprise and despite my modest knowledge in medical stuff I got 9/10!.

The Real Charlotte Brontë

As the 150th Anniversary of Charlotte Brontë's death on March 31st, 1855 approaches, writer Tanya Gold comes to her rescue by correcting several misrepresentations she found in Elizabeth Gaskell's biography of the author of Jane Eyre. (Via The Guardian).

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Teacher Claims Shroud of Turin is Fake

An English teacher thinks that the Shroud of Turin is fake estimating that it was produced with some glass, paint and old cloth.

The Taste of Music

Have you ever thought one day to taste music? This is an interesting article in The Christian Science Monitor that gives you the answer.

Tunisia Reopens Church on Island of Djerba

The Tunisian authorities have recently ceded the Church of St. Joseph to the Catholic community of the island of Djerba.

Roman Fever

She stood up and leaned against the parapet, filling her troubled eyes with the tranquilizing magic of the hour. But instead of tranquilizing her the sight seemed to increase her exasperation. Her gaze turned toward the Colosseum. Already its golden flank was drowned in purple shadow, and above it the sky curved crystal clear, without light or color. It was the moment when afternoon and evening hang balanced in midheaven.

From Roman Fever By Edith Wharton (1862-1937)

The Colosseum

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Colosseum

For those who are fond of the history of the Roman Colosseum, this book review by The Spectator is worth reading.

Bloggers Vs. Journalists

Once again this is another piece on the importance of the notion of credibility in the debate between bloggers and journalists.

The Passion Recut

According to this piece from The Australian newspaper, Mel Gibson has softened the original version of his movie The Passion and excised seven minutes of the most excruciating scenes - the crow pecking out the eyes of the bad thief; the spike being hammered into Jesus' palm; the worst moments of the scourging at the pillar, when flesh and blood splatters across the screen; and later when Roman soldiers taunt the almost flayed Jesus, who by now resembles a quivering hunk of fresh tripe. Gibson assures that despite this recut he maintained the integrity of the movie.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


This is not a post to show that I am bored today but I came by this interesting book review ( Via Arts & Letters Daily) about the origins of the word "Boredom" which coincided in fact with the emergence of the concept of "interesting".

Monday, March 21, 2005

From Jesus To Christ

An interesting article in Newsweek which tells the epic story of Jesus Christ and how the jewish prophet came to be seen as the Christian Savior.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Alexandria: A view of the Harbour

Greek Church in Tunis, Tunisia

An Old Photo of the Church of St. Joseph, Sousse, Tunisia.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

A Comparative Study of The Constitutions of Muslim Countries

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has recently published a new comparative study of constitutions of Muslim countries. It is worth reading!

Picasso The Poet

An article from Christian Science Monitor that reveals the poetic side of the famous painter Picasso.

Islam And Democracy

An interesting article that appeared in The Chronicle Review, where the author narrates an experience he had during a trip to Morocco. Based on this experience the author tries to explain Islam's commitment to pluralism as an essential component of democracy. ( Via Arts & Letters Daily).

A Biography of William Faulkner

A neat book review on the life and works of William Faulkner.(Via Arts & Letters Daily)

Friday, March 18, 2005

Cathedral of St. Louis, Carthage, Tunisia

View from the Interior of the Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul.

Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul, Tunis, Tunisia ( built in 1882)

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Is Religious Inclination Genetic?

Genes may help determine how religious a person is, suggests a new study of US twins. And the effects of a religious upbringing may fade with time.
( Via Drudge)

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Cardinal's Plea Not To Read "The Da Vinci Code"

An italian Cardinal made a plea asking people not to read or buy Dan Brown's novel "The Da Vinci Code". The Cardinal claims that the runaway success of the "Code" is proof of “anti-Catholic” prejudice.

From Wolfensohn To Wolfowitz

US Deputy Defense Secretary may replace World Bank's current President.

Time To Get Out Of The Bottle

This is an interesting piece in today's Washington Post about the struggle of Arab writers against State censorship with a focus on Saudi Arabia. The choice of Saudi Arabia as a case study might be accurate and I might be wrong because I am not fully familiar with Saudi writers or their works, but one should bear in mind that this is only specific to a distinct Arab country that has its own traditions, culture and civilization. In this respect, other Arab countries may not fall into this category. I thought it was important to make this clarification.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


An interesting article that looks into the continuous popularity of Jane Austen and the ever growing readership of her works. (Via Arts and Letters Daily)

Monday, March 14, 2005

Laughter As Medicine

An article in Today's Post looks at the merits of laughter in fending off heart attacks and strokes.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Fly Me To The Moon

Fly me to the moon
And let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On Jupiter and Mars
In other words hold my hand
In other words darling kiss me
Fill my life with song
And let me sing forevermore
You are all I hope for
All I worship and adore
In other words please be true
In other words I love you

By Bart Howard

Life After Death in Islam

An interesting post by Dappled Things has triggered me to provide this link about the conecpt of the afterlife in Islam.

New Views From Titan, Staurn's Largest Moon

The Cassini spacecraft has revealed surface details of Saturn's moon Titan and imaged a huge cloud of gas surrounding the planet-sized moon.

Planet Formation

Scientists are trying to find out an answer to the fundamental question in the planet forming business.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Still Life With Figs - By Luis Eugenio Mélendez (1716-1780)

Culinary Customs in Ancient Rome

This is an interesting article via Arts and Letters Daily about a book by Patrick Faas in which the author translated more than 150 Roman recipes.A real delight!

Friday, March 11, 2005

Senator Sarbanes Won't Run For Reelection

Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes announced today that he will not seek another term in the Senate, ending a 34-year congressional career in which the liberal Maryland Democrat played a role in crises ranging from the Watergate impeachment proceedings to the corporate accounting scandals earlier this decade.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Bloggers and Freedom of Speech

An interesting piece by Reason Magazine which raises the issue of freedom of speech for bloggers and whether they can enjoy the same protections under the First Amendment. ( Via Dappeled Things)

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Arab World And Israel : Are Tensions Over?

The following is an article published by The Christian Science Monitor on the recent developments in arab-israeli relations.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

King Tutankhamun's Death Mystery Unmasked

The Chairman of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities announced that tests on King Tut's 3000 thousand year old mummy show that there is no evidence that the young king was murdered but apparently died of an infected broken leg.

Understanding Islamism

This is the title of a new report released by the International Crisis Group about the different streams of islamic activisim.

Famous Blue Raincoat

It's four in the morning, the end of December. I'm writing you now just to see if you're better. New York is cold but I like where I'm living. There's music on Clinton Street all through the evening. I hear that you're building your little house deep in the desert. You're living for nothing now. I hope you're keeping some kind of record. Yes, and Jane came by with a lock of your hair. She said that you gave it to her the night that you planned to go clear. Did you ever go clear?

The last time we saw you you looked so much older. Your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder. You'd been to the station to meet every train but then you came home without Lili Marlene. And you treated my woman to a flake of your life. And when she came back she was nobody's wife. I see you there with the rose in your teeth, one more thin gypsy thief. Well, I see Jane's awake. She sends her regards.

And what can I tell you my brother my killer? What can I possibly say? I guess that I miss you. I guess I forgive you. I'm glad that you stood in my way. If you ever come by here for Jane or for me, I want you to know that your enemy is sleeping. I want you to know that his woman is free. Yes, and thanks for the trouble you took from her eyes. I thought it was there for good, so I never tried.

And Jane came by with a lock of your hair. She said that you gave it to her that night that you planned to go clear.

Sincerely, L. Cohen.

From Songs of Love and Hate by Leonard Cohen, 1971

Monday, March 07, 2005

When Blogging Goes Bad

Here is another article from today's Washington Post about a flight attendant and a former google employee who have been fired for blogging. The Post states that the flight attendant, Ellen Simonetti, had posted suggestive photographs of herself in uniform, while Mark Jen, the former google employee speculated online about his employer's finances.

Unveiling Islam

This is an interesting article in today's Washington Post about an egyptian author whose writings created a stir in Egypt. The author, who is the younger brother of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, a radical Islamic group, affirms that Islam allows for freedom of thought and evolution and that Reform requires an open mind.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Devant Les Portes De Kairouan, Tunisia, by Paul Klee, 1914

America's 10 Most Powerful Women

What is power? Who holds the most? These questions are impossible to answer definitively; power is too fluid, and opinions are necessarily subjective. But one thing is certain: Women today are in positions of greater power, in a wider variety of fields, than ever before.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Rethinking Islam

Islam as seen from the point of view of a russian writer.

Friday, March 04, 2005

After Salt, Now It Is The Turn Of Sugar

The American sugar industry isn't acting very sweetly. Witness its attack on the non-caloric sweetener called sucralose, brand-named Splenda.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Archaeologists Uncover A Well-Preserved Mummy

Being fond of archaeology and mainly egyptology, here is an article stating that Australian archaeologists have recently uncovered ancient wooden coffins in a 2,500-year-old tomb in Saqqara, South of Cairo.Inside one coffin was maybe one of the best mummies ever preserved.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

It Will Take You More Than Seven Years To Read The Talmud!

Orthodox Jews around the world have finished studying one of Judaism's holiest texts,more than seven years after reading the first page.

The Future of Social Security Restructuring

According to Today's Post, Republican congressional leaders say they are standing behind President Bush's proposal to remake Social Security but concede they may not be able to win congressional approval of it this year.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Are We Born To Believe?

An interesting article from the Guardian about the reasons that make people believe in God and religion in general as well as the role of natural calamities in strengthening the concept of faith among humankind. The author tries to explain this in connection to science and the development of our cognitive abilities.


This is a combination of Tango and Zen:
the contemporary Argentine dance style and the ancient Buddhist meditation technique -- to create a holistic form that retains and enhances each component's character
You are not dancing on your feet but you let your whole body move while it is connected with your partner. Interesting no?.

Blogs as Business Tool

According to an article in Today's Wall Street Journal, It seems that blogs have become increasingly a way to advance business opportunities.