ThysdrusRoman Coliseum of El-Jem

Panem et Circensis

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Location: Tunis, Tunisia, Tunisia

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Pope's Car Up For Sale On eBay

A second hand car once said to be registered in the name of Joseph Kardinal Ratzinger -- the new Pope Benedict - is up for sale on eBay and the sky seems to be the limit when it comes to bidding...

New Extrasolar Planet Discovered

Extrasolar Planet (AP Photo)

According to an international team of astronomers, new images taken of an object five times the mass of Jupiter confirm that it is a giant planet closely orbiting a distant star...

Crows May Be Behind Exploding Toads

A German scientist studying the splattered amphibian remains now has a theory: Hungry crows may be pecking out their livers...

Friday, April 29, 2005

Google's Brave New World

Through its new map finder service, Google redraws the World. (Via Sploid)

The World of Salvador Dalí

Arts & Letters Daily has a neat post on the world of Dalí's paintings and drawings.

The Benefits of Eating Ice Cream

Scientists find that ice cream lights up the same pleasure centre in the brain as winning money.(Via The Guardian)

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Rediscovered in Arkansas

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

A great wildlife rediscovery!

The rare bird, declared extinct, is alive in a nature reserve. The first confirmed sighting in six decades was kept secret for 14 months, partly to give conservation groups time to protect the woodpecker's habitat. Seven people have now seen the bird along the White River.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Quote of the Day

Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere.

Gilbert K. Chesterton

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Kingdom of Heaven: A Lesson In Tolerance?

In this piece, The New York Times, discusses Sir Ridley Scott's latest movie Kingdom of Heaven, which will be released on May,6, 2005. The NYT indicates that the movie focuses on a particularly dramatic moment between the Second and Third Crusades, when the Muslims retook Jerusalem wondering if this is really a good time to show warring Christians and Muslims as entertainment.

Netherlandish Proverbs,1559 by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (about 1525-69)

Pope Benedict and the U.S.

A neat piece in Newsweek about the Pope's vision on various issues and mainly how America is a crucial front in Benedict's expected war against secularism.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Pope Reaches Out To Muslims

A day after his homily message of outreach to formally begin his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI, reached out to Muslim religious leaders saying that he " expresses his appreciation for the growth of dialogue between Muslims and Christians, both at the local and international level. He added that both Christians and Muslims' "efforts to come together and foster dialogue are a valuable contribution to building peace on solid foundations".

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Quote of the Day

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some.
Charles Dickens

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Remembering Earth Day

On the occasion of Earth Day, I couldn't find a song better than the one performed by Bette Midler's: From A Distance to commemorate this event:

From a distance, the world looks blue and green
and the snow-capped mountains white.
From a distance the ocean meets the stream
and the eagle takes to flight.
From a distance there is harmony
and it echoes through the land.
It's the voice of hope, it's the voice of peace,
it's the voice of every man.
From a distance, we all have enough
And no one is in need.
There are no guns, no bombs, no diseases,
No hungry mouths to feed.
From a distance we are instruments
Marching in a common band
Playing songs of hope, playing songs of peace
They're the songs of every man.
God is watching us
God is watching us
God is watching us from a distance.
From a distance, you look like my friend
Even though we are at war.
From a distance I cannot comprehend
What all the fighting is for.
From a distance there is harmony
And it echoes through the land.
It's the hope of hopes, it's the love of loves.
It's the heart of every man.
God is watching us
God is watching us
God is watching us from a distance.

Do You Speak Globish?

This is an article from the International Herald Tribune about this new "language" Globish and which the inventor taps as "une certaine forme d'anglais perverti" ( A certain form of perverted english). (Via Arts & Letters Daily)

Friday, April 22, 2005

The Crescent And the Cross

I came by this article in Asia Times that looks at how the late Pope John Paul II, regarded Islam and Moslems and how his death has led Catholic voices sound the alarm about the coming Islamicization of Europe. The article goes further to point at some of Pope Benedict XVI standpoints when it comes to Islam and Moslems. I found the article not really convincing and a bit disturbing and I am really eager to know more about the new Pontiff's position on Islam as well as Judaism. (Via Arts & Letters Daily)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Mawlid II

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, muslims celebrate today the birthday of Prophet Mohamed (PBUH). Muslim countries observe this day with different activities but I will talk here about the celebration of Mawlid in Tunisia. Like in the other north african countries, tunisians start celebrating on the eve of Mawlid day, by going to mosques and reciting litanies praising the virtues of the prophet and telling the story of his birth.

The day of Mawlid, most families prepare special dishes to commemorate the birth of the prophet. In addition to the makroudh (small cakes made of a hard wheat paste stuffed with dates and soaked in honey, tunisians preapare also assida, a sweet dish which everyone eats the morning of Mawlid to mark the beginning of festivities. In Tunisia, this traditional dish can be prepared in two ways: the simple and popular assida is a kind of pudding made of fine semolina or flour, sprinkled with oil or butter and honey. The more refined version, probably introduced by the Turks, is a pudding made of crushed pine seeds, topped with a thick layer of white cream and decorated with hazel-nuts, pine seeds, pistachios and crushed almonds.

Pine Assida

The preparation process of the pine assida is complicated and time consuming but it is really delicious. As I said north african countries have similar traditions when it comes to Mawlid but each country has its distinct food. In fact, From the Rock, talks about how our libyan neighbors celebrate Mawlid.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Mawlid I

Tomorrow, April 21,2005, muslims throughout the world will celebrate the birthday of Prophet Mohamed (Peace Be Upon Him), founder of Islam. This celebration is known as Mawlid al-Nabi ( in arabic) and it coincides every year with the 12th day of the month of Rabi`-ul-Awwal in the Islamic calendar. Muslims around the world will celebarte the Mawlid by listening to sermons in mosques, reciting litanies and verses of Quran, honoring religious dignitaries, gift giving, and feasts. However, some conservative sects (e.g., the Wahhabiyah) consider the celebration to be idolatrous.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

10 Most Influential Popes

For good or ill, these popes stand out for having helped define the papacy and making a force for faith.
(Via USA Today)

i Pod, Therefore I Am

An interesting piece in today's The Christian Science Monitor about the iPod's debut in college classrooms, which seems to be provoking an odd mix of euphoria and bafflement.

The Immoral Side of Animal Cloning

A neat article in The Boston Globe that looks at the controversy stirred by animal cloning.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Food Quiz

Are you fluent in food? Try this quiz! (Via MSN Encarta)

My score was : 2/10! Not so good. Oops, a few more lessons in the language of food wouldn't go amiss. Try a cooking class!.

Laocoön: A Forgery By Michelangelo?


According to today's New York Times, a scholar has suggested that "Laocoön," a fabled sculpture whose unearthing in 1506 has deeply influenced thinking about the ancient Greeks and the nature of the visual arts, may well be a Renaissance forgery - possibly by Michelangelo himself.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Quote of the Day

The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.

William Faulkner

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Palestinians' Unbeatable Weapon

Wondering if Isreal will live to 100, Benjamin Schwarz, the literary editor and national editor of The Atlantic,reports in the same newspaper, that for Israel there's only one unbeatable Palestinian weapon: the soaring population-growth rate among Palestinians .(registration needed)

This analysis (Via Vail daily), will give you more details on Schwarz's article.

Catholics and Muslims: Between Dialogue and Confrontation

The Roman Catholic Church and Islam, each with roughly one billion faithful and a tendency towards universalism, are competing everywhere, though there is dialogue between them, especially in Europe.

Quote of the Day

Live all you can; it's a mistake not to. It doesn't so much matter what you do in particular, so long as you have your life. If you haven't had that what have you had?
Henry James

U.S. And Islam

150 leading scholars, politicians, activists and scientists from the United States and Islamic countries held three days of discussions, in Doha, Qatar, at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum, they identified democratic reform and other issues on which they seemed to agree that joint action or further shared analysis was needed.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Israel And Arab Democracy

...Israeli PM Ariel Sharon has never regarded the democratizing of Palestinian society as a priority. Quite the contrary. Believing that only an iron-fisted ruler could suppress terrorism and make peace, Israeli leaders have actually welcomed Palestinian autocracy...
(Via Jewish World Review)

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Language of Baklava

This is the title of a book written by jordanian-american author Diana Abu Jaber. The book explores the larger lessons that food can bring about cultural identity, faith and love. By the way Baklava or Baklawa is a middle eastern and north african popular sweet pastry, constituted mainly from crushed nuts or almonds in a fyllo pastry topped with syrup.

New Poem By Tennessee Williams, Discovered

An unpublished poem from playwright Tennessee Williams has been discovered in some of his college papers. The Poem titled "Blue Song," was possibly written during a test.

Danish Queen: Tolerance for Muslims Has Limits

Danish Queen Margrethe, said in an official biography published on Thursday that society should show limited tolerance of radical Islam.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

English Language Test

This is a neat english language test. (Via Stuff and Bother)

You scored 85% Beginner, 92% Intermediate, 86% Advanced, and 73% Expert!

You have an extremely good understanding of beginner, intermediate, and
advanced level commonly confused English words, getting at least 75% of
each of these three levels' questions correct. This is an exceptional score. Remember, these are commonly confused English words, which means most people don't use them properly. You got an extremely respectable score.

Thank you so much for taking my test. I hope you enjoyed it!
For the complete Answer Key, visit my blog:

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
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You scored higher than 15% on Beginner
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You scored higher than 27% on Intermediate
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You scored higher than 18% on Advanced
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You scored higher than 63% on Expert
Link: The Commonly Confused Words Test written by shortredhead78 on Ok Cupid

Catholic Church And Gender Issues

A neat article in Der Spiegel on Late Pope John Paul II's standpoint on gender issues and mainly those related to women.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Catholicism in the U.S.

American Catholics, be they Latinos here or African-Americans in Atlanta, or those of Irish, Italian or Polish ancestry in Boston and Baltimore, have come to accept that being Catholic means living with inconsistency...

(Via The NYT)

Monday, April 11, 2005

Do We Need A Redefinition of Marriage?

This is an essay that discusses the concept of marriage from a libertarian standpoint. (Via Arts & Letters Daily)

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Archaeologist Discover Oldest Porn Statue

Stone-age figurines depicting what could be the oldest pornographic scene in the world have been unearthed in Germany.
( Via The Guardian)

Bloggers Vs. Reporters

Professional journalists have it all over bloggers when it comes to reporting. The first generation of bloggers tends to resist taking off their PJs and donning hip-waders to report the news from the swamp...

After Drudge, Now We Have Sploid

The Gawker online media empire launched its latest franchise Wednesday, a tabloid clearinghouse of "the best and newest in non-mainstream journalism," called Sploid.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

No Comment

Friday, April 08, 2005

Pope Remembered in Mideast Media

This is an interesting piece in yesterday's The Washington Post about the reaction of Middle East media to the passing away of Pope John Paul II. Dappled Things has an interesting post on Moslems' response to the Pontiff's demise.

Nefertiti's Love Affair


An interesting, though weired piece claiming that Nefertiti, often described as the "most beautiful woman in the world", had a love affair with Moses.

Royal Wedding Cam

For the fans of the british royal family, a scottish firm has positioned a free webcam on a hotel overlooking Windsor Guildhall, where the wedding ceremony of Prince Charles with Camilla Parker Bowles will take place.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Smart Guide To London

Samuel Johnson once said " when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.". The last time I visited London was ten years ago, I am sure the city has changed a lot since then but it remains one of my favourite european capitals. Dappeld Things may be interested in reading this piece I found in Times Online that provides a smart guide to London for every budget.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Saul Bellow, Died Yesterday. He Was 89

Saul Bellow, a master storyteller, literary artisan and Nobel Prize-winning author whose work reflected the comic, the tragic, the absurd and the mundane in the personal odysseys of the 20th-century Everyman, died yesterday at his home in Brookline, Mass. He was 89.
(Via The Washington Post)

Prince Rainier of Monaco Dead at 81

Prince Rainier III, whose marriage to American film star Grace Kelly brought elegance and glamour to one of Europe’s oldest dynasties, died Wednesday at the hospital treating him for heart, kidney and breathing problems. He was 81 .

Bells And Smoke Will Herald New Pope

I found this piece in today's Express, a publication of The Washington Post which explains the procedure according to which a new pope is elected:

Responding to Pope John Paul II's request, the Vatican will depart from centuries-old tradition by ringing bells in addition to sending up white smoke to signal the election of his successor.

Three groups of cardinals-scrutineers, revisers, infirmarii-count the votes, check the ballots and collect some from those too ill to attend.

Each cardinal writes the name of his candidate, folds the ballot twice and carries it to the altar to drop it in an urn.

One scrutineer unfolds each, notes the name and passes to the second who does the same. Third scrutineer reads the name aloud. A two-thirds vote is required to elect the new pope.

Ballots are burned with chemicals to make the smoke black (fuma nera) or white (fuma bianca). If no pope is elected, black smoke appears.

White smoke and the ringing of bells will signal that a pope has been chosen.

The new pope is introduced at St. Peter's Square and imparts his first blessing.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Il Fruttaiuolo

Il Fruttaiuolo (Boy with a basket of fruit), Caravaggio, c.1593-4.

New Arab Human Development Report Released

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has released, today, the Third Arab Human Development Report. The Report calls for urgent action -- more freedom of opinion, freely elected legislatures, an end to discrimination, and truly independent judiciaries. Otherwise, it says, Arab governments will face internal conflict or reforms imposed by outside powers.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Caravaggio- Boy Bitten By A Lizard, c.1593-1594

Islam In Sicht (Islam In View)

This is the german title of a collection of essays by a french sociologist and a german Islamic scholar,on the presence of Muslims in public space and it analyses the "coming out" of Muslims in four countries: France, Germany, Turkey and Iran.(Via signandsight ).

The Voice Behind Metro's "Doors Opening" &"Doors Closing" Annoucements

Have you ever guessed who is the woman behind Metro's "Doors Opening" and "Doors Closing" announcements? Well according to The Express, a publication of The Washington Post,
the voice familiar to metro riders belongs to Sandy Carroll, 60, a daily Green Line rider from S.W. D.C. She recorded those two, and a more terse version of today's " Please stand clear of the doors. Thank you" message in 1995 for a friend who is an engineer at Metro and was working on the feature from her dining room table. According to Ms. Carroll, an initial, stiffer recording, " Stand clear of the doors!," drew complaints and was replaced by the softened version.

Caravaggio: Master of Irreverance?

This is a interesting piece in today's Washington Post that looks into the life and works of Caravaggio with a focus on the irreligious image that the artist, and his art, had left behind.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Quote of the Day

"Nature is a haunted house- but Art- a house that tries to be haunted"

-Emily Dickinson

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Conservative Synagogue to Hire a Female Rabbi

In a previous post I mentioned the controversy about female Imams in Islam. Here is an article about a female rabbi hired by a New Jersey Synagogue.

R.I.P. John Paul II

The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein The Younger

Friday, April 01, 2005

Places With Bizarre Names

This website provides a list of places in the world with rather unusual names.

Quran Has Nothing To Do With This

I was browsing the news yesterday and this article published by The Jerusalem Post drew my attention. According to this newspaper a Palestinian Scholar, whom I never heard of before, claims that according to the Quran, the US will cease to exist in 2007!. That's really ridiculous!. I personnally believe that someday the world will cease to exist but I am totally shocked by those findings that unfortunately will do much harm to the Quran. In fact, many have reacted to such article by much more contempt of moslems and mocking of the Holy book.I've done a google search and to my surprise not a single arab newspaper or TV channel has mentioned this story which seems weired enough and I think that being published only by The Jerusalem Post is not a coincidence! Anyway, I can say that the Quran is innocent of such claims and this has nothing to do with the real and scientific interpretation of the Holy book.

April Fools' Gags Quiz

Can you spot which of the following stories are classic April fools' gags from the media and which are true stories?

I scored 6 out of 9 possible.

Does the Blogosphere Have a Diversity Problem?

Steven Levy, Senior Editor at Newsweek,tries to answer this question. (Via Arts & Letters Daily).