ThysdrusRoman Coliseum of El-Jem

Panem et Circensis

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Location: Tunis, Tunisia, Tunisia

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Sci-Fi Quiz

Try this Sci-Fi Quiz! (Via MSN Encarta)

My result: Hopelessly Earthbound.
Have you ever wondered if there's life on other planets? We didn't think so. You got 2/11 correct.

True Or Urban Legend?

Have you ever noticed a small spider or an owl on the front of the one dollar bill (the George side), in the upper right-hand corner sitting just to the upper-left of the number 1? Check it!

210 Reasons Behind The Fall Of The Roman Empire

In 1984 a German scholar worked out that 210 reasons had been advocated for the fall of the Roman empire.
(Via Arts & Letters Daily)

Gaelic Language In Trouble

The CSM has an article on the ancient Irish language and its struggle to survive.
Irish has been declining for centuries, since families hoping to better their prospects made children speak English instead of Irish. Hoping to reverse that trend, the nation's founders made Irish the primary language and a core school subject after independence from Britain in 1921.

Yet today, just 43 percent of Irish citizens say they can speak the language, and only 1.4 percent are native speakers.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

US-Iran Relations : A story of Love And Hate

The CSM has an interesting article on the US-Iran relations stating that
Despite harsh rhetoric, some say Iran may be the most pro-US nation in the region...

"There are three ideological capitals, in Tehran, Tel Aviv, and Washington," says Saeed Laylaz, a political analyst. "They are apparently against each other, but they love each other. They need each other. We need a foreign enemy to control the country."

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Ciao, America!

Don't worry I am not leaving the US ! but a friend of mine suggested reading this book.
Ciao, America! is a delightful look at America through the eyes of a fiercely funny guest -- one of Italy's favorite authors, Beppe Severgnini, who spent a year in Washington, D.C. ...

Monday, June 27, 2005

Controversial Book on Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) Okayed By Egyptian High Religious Authority

According to Egyptian newspapers, The Al-Azhar Institute for Islamic Studies has
approved the book titled "The Life of Mohammed, founder of the religion of Islam and of the Empire of the Saracens"

The book was published in 1837 by Reverend George Bush, whom Egyptian newspapers - including state-owned publications - have consistently presented as the current US president's great-grandfather.

Senator Chuck Hagel : A Liberal In Republican Clothing?

The Australian newspaper has a neat article on Senator Chuck Hagel (Republican-Nebraska) whom I really admire.

Moon Illusion

The mystery of the Moon Illusion, witnessed by millions of people this week, has puzzled great thinkers for centuries. There have even been books devoted to the matter...

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Metrosexuals Vs. Retrosexuals

Most ads have lumped men into one of two groups -- the soft, caring type known as "metrosexuals," who are comfortable with facial peels and pink shirts, or the stereotypical "retrosexuals," who remain oafishly addicted to beer and sports.

Quote of the Day

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Mystery of Stonehenge Bluestone Unveiled

A group of archaelogists have uncovered the sopt from where the famous Stonehenge bluestones were quarried... ( Via Sploid)

Friday, June 24, 2005

Plaster Jesus Sold for $2600

A Pennsylvania man
has sold a water-stained piece of plaster from his bathroom wall that bears an uncanny resemblance to the image of Jesus Christ for almost $US2000 ($2593) on eBay, its purchaser said.

Anglican Church's Motion

THE Anglican Church moved closer to schism yesterday when members of its central administrative council formally asked the churches of Canada and the US to go...

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Quote of the Day

A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.
Diane Arbus

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

"L'Europa de Benedetto nella Crisi delle Culture"

This is title of Pope Benedict XVI's last book that he wrote before he was elected Pope.

The 143-page volume, published by the Vatican Publishing House and the Italian Cantagalli Publishers, includes three lectures of Cardinal Ratzinger.

The lectures were given, respectively, in 1992, in Bassano del Grappa, Italy, when he received the School and Catholic Culture award; in 1997 when he addressed the Pro-Life Movement of Italy; and on April 1, 2005, on the eve of John Paul II's death, when speaking at the Benedictine convent of St. Scholastica in Subiaco.

"The Roman Army and Chariot Experience"

Mosaic of a Victorious Roman Charioteer

Starting mid-July, visitors to Jordan can plunge into the past, reliving in a unique location just north of the capital Amman some of the high moments that made the Roman Empire...

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Experiment Confirms That Shroud of Turin Was Fake

A FRENCH magazine has said it had carried out experiments that proved the Shroud of Turin, believed by some Christians to be their religion's holiest relic, was a fraud.

Mrs. Adrian Iselin. 1888. Oil on canvas by John Singer Sargent.

Madame Moitessier, Oil on canvas, 1851 by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.

The Golden Feast

I was reading today's Express, a publication of the Washington Post, and this news item caught my attention:

A Hanoi, Vietnam, restaurant has been ordered to stop putting gold in its meals until authorities test the metal's purity and consult with experts about potential health risks. The Kim Ngan Ngu Thien, or " Golden Feast", restaurant opened in January, offering dishes mixed with small amounts of gold, which it claimed enhances the food's nutritional value. Gold isn't a government-approved spice or food additive.

On another subject I watched two days ago a documentary on a french TV channel about a group of laotians who live in such a miserable life that they couldn't find something to eat but grass leaves!

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Hunt for Da Vinci's Lost Masterpiece

Copy of the Battle of Anghiari by Leonardo Da Vinci

IT is a mystery that has confounded the art world for generations: what became of the Leonardo masterpiece, described as "miraculous" for its breathtaking beauty and scale, that has not been seen for 500 years?... Now art experts, backed by a British foundation, say they are convinced that the masterpiece is hidden behind a later Renaissance fresco...

American Jews

Arts & Letters Daily has an essay on the history of American Jews and their struggle between assimilation and the preservation of traditional Judaism.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Top 25 Sad Songs

These are the top 25 miserable tracks according to Tom Reynolds, author of I Hate Myself and Want to Die.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Quote of the Day

Hope is the only bee that makes honey without flowers.
Robert Green Ingersoll

Friday, June 17, 2005

Glass Factory Uncovered in Egypt

Today's Washington Post has a piece on the recent discovery of an ancient glass factory in Egypt.
Scientists said yesterday that they have unearthed the first conclusive evidence of a glass factory in ancient Egypt, offering new insights into production techniques for a commodity so highly prized that nobles used it interchangeably with gemstones.

The Bayeux Tapestry: Made in France

A piece of the Bayeux Tapestry

According to George Beech, an emeritus professor of medieval history at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo,the Bayeux Tapestry was the work of a French embroidery school.

"Blobjects and Beyond: The New Fluidity in Design"

This is the title given to an art show by a californian industrial designer and his wife, an art historian, at the San Jose Art Museum. The exhibit centers mainly on "blobjects".
A good deal of the inspiration for blobjects comes from nature and biological forms - the asymmetrical, fluid, blobby world around us - their wellspring lies within sophisticated computer software, where graphic ideas can be quickly, cheaply, and easily manipulated in hundreds of ways with the click of a mouse.
(Via the CSM)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

"The Michelangelo Code" Uncovered

Two Brazilian doctors and amateur art lovers believe they have uncovered a secret lesson on human anatomy hidden by Renaissance artist Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel's ceiling.

Surrealism: The Antidote of Our Modern Angst?

The Public Education of Betty Page by Dale Houstman & Zazie

Automatic Portrait of Child (Fumage) by Mathieu Ruhlmann

Utne magazine has a neat article on surrealism and its impact on our daily lives:
Surrealistic currents, coursing through our media culture, transform much of what we see and how we see it. In fact, we may all be surrealists without knowing it.
The above-mentioned article has also a link to various surrealist groups from all over the world.

A Bilateral Gynandromorph Creature

Today's Washington Post has an interesting piece about the discovery of an extremely rare crab species which scientists called
a "bilateral gynandromorph" -- that is, split between two genders -- with its right side female and its left side male...


According to an article by USA Today,
blogs are proliferating as fast as computer virus, similarly, there is a growing concern among employers because of the potential risk that those blogs may pose
Employment lawyers are urging for the enactment of some guidelines by which employees should abide, but bloggers argue that those guidelines may affect freedom of speech...

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Paintings of Mark Ryden

The Pumpkin President By Mark Ryden

I came across this painter and his weired but fabulous paintings via the Artist and his model. Check it out!

American Gothic

Wood's American Gothic

In his recently published book "American Gothic",
Harvard Historian Steven Biel traces the cultural history of Wood's famous portrait of a dour Iowa farmer and his stiff-necked wife (or daughter)...

Smoking Ban in D.C.

Today's Washington Post, has a piece on the growing support among DC Council members for a smoking ban in the District's bars and restaurants.

Wild West Bank

An Israeli anti-settlement group has designed an online game to highlight what it sees as the problem of Jewish settlers colonising Palestinian land.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Don Quixote Revisited

Edward Rothstein has an interesting essay on Cervantes's epic novel "Don Quixote", where he tries to answer these questions:
Why was "Don Quixote" originally written in Arabic? Or rather, why does Cervantes, who wrote the book in Spanish, claim that it was translated from the Arabic?
( Via Arts & Letters Daily)

El Ghriba Festival

Another piece in the same edition of Washington Times talks about the jewish community in Tunisia and the jewish festival of Lag B'Omer, that took place in the Island of Djerba.
This year, with 4,000 Jewish pilgrims in an Arab country, El Ghriba and Tunisia are sending a message of "brotherhood, tolerance and reconciliation" transcending international politics.

Tunisia Leads Fight For Women's Rights

Last week's's Washington Times had a piece on the role and status of women in Tunisia.
Western chanceries consider Tunisia's treatment of women as the most successful reform in this pro-Western country, and a rampart against Islamic fundamentalism.

Civil War Quiz

War Between the States: What Do You Know?

You scored 4/10. Valiant Effort. You won the battle but you didn't win the war. (Via MSN Encarta)

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Arab-Israeli Cookbook

You may think this is a new cookbook that features a variety of arab and jewish culinary traditions, well your guess is right since there is actually a book of that sort, but The Arab-Israeli Cookbook is also the title of a new play by Robin Soans, where nine actors ( moslem, jewish and christian) talk about family, food and the hope for a better future...

Opaque Jane Austen

Jane Austen

A look into Jane Austen's life and works. (Via Arts & Letters Daily)

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Quote of the Day

To err is human; to forgive, divine.

Alexander Pope

Progressive Islam

A neat article in The Daily Star that discusses the growing movement of progressive Islam in North America. This movement is
a kind of Islamic humanism. Social action and transformation is the movement's defining characteristic. Progressive Muslims oppose racism, Islamophobia, the imposition of class differences, sexism and homophobia. They see their task as giving voice to the voiceless, power to the powerless, and confronting the "powers that be" who disregard God-given human dignity...

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Quote of the Day

Free speech is not to be regulated like diseased cattle and impure butter. The audience that hissed yesterday may applaud today, even for the same performance.
William O. Douglas

Friday, June 10, 2005

Tunisian Hannibal TV Channel Goes Online

Finally the Tunisian private TV Channel, Hannibal TV, has its own website.


Yahoo and Google have created a joint new search engine which they called Double Trust, I found this new search engine quite interesting in that it brings you the essence!

Report Urges for Political Participation of Islamic Groups

In a recently released report by The Council on Foreign Relations,a bipartisan foreign policy task force urged the US Administration to accept the political participation of Islamic groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, that have renounced violence in their home countries...

Pope Benedict XVI Meets Again With Jewish Leaders

During a meeting in the Vatican with the delegation of 25 Jewish leaders, Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged that the history of their relations had been "complex and often painful" but added his conviction that their "spiritual patrimony" could guide them toward a "future of hope."

Quote of the Day

There is a wisdom of the head, and a wisdom of the heart.
Charles Dickens

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Do You Drink Dial?

Drink Dialing-making a phone call while drunk, esp to someone about whom one has romantic notions- is but one of hundreds of new words introduced to the new edition of the Collins English Dictionary...

Art Forgery

This is a list of the 10 most faked artists. (Via ArtNews)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Israeli Researcher: Jesus Died of Blood Clot

An Israeli researcher has challenged the popular belief that Jesus died of blood loss on the cross, saying he probably succumbed to a sometimes fatal disorder now associated with long-haul air travel...

Church of England Faces Cash Crisis

A report produced by the Church of England's resourcing mission group,indicates that due to a cash crisis in the Church, bishops are considering radical moves including cutting clergy numbers by up to a third and making worshippers meet in each other’s homes...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Traditional Wedding Dress (Mahdia, Tunisia)

Cyber Clerics

An interesting article by the lebanese newspaper The Daily Star, on a new website created by an iranian ayotallah,
where the faithful can "ask anything, from specific technical questions about the faith, legal questions such as on inheritance, and social questions such as how a married couple can interact"

For those who like to access the website here is the link:

Quote of the Day

Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result.
Oscar Wilde

Monday, June 06, 2005

Fishy Passenger

A female passenger has been caught by Australian customs officers with 51 live tropical fish hidden under her skirt... ( Via Sploid)

New Technology To Protect Torah Scroll

In Judaism, Torah scroll is the most sacred religious object and according to experts Torah Scrolls are stolen more often than you would think.In view of this situation a new system has been invented to secure and protect those ancient scrolls from being stolen.

The Mayan Muslims

Der Spiegel has an article on how Islam is gaining foothold in Southern Mexico, where indigenous Mayans are converting in hundreds. Yet, the Mexican Government looks at this new situation with suspicion, fearing the influence of fundamentalists...

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Quote of the Day

Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.
Henry Van Dyke

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Is Religion Central or Peripheral?

This a question that political scientists Pippa Norris, of Harvard, and Ronald Inglehart, of the University of Michigan, try to answer in their new book titled Sacred and Secular. In this book Norris and Inglehart
contribute three things to the old debate: first, a summary of the present state of academic analysis of religion; second, new evidence on the state of religion in the modern world; and third, a new theoretical framework that they claim makes better sense of the evidence than previous theories...
(Via Arts & Letters Daily)

Quote of the Day

We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.
Jonathan Swift

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Human Condition

Contradictions and chaos, the poet Alexander Pope (1688—1744) taught us, are part of the human condition:

Chaos of thought and passion, all confus'd,
Still by himself abused or disabus'd
Created half to rise and half to fall;
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all,
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl'd,
The glory, jest and riddle of the world.

The Ox And The Frog

An article by The Economist on
the widespread feeling in America that Europe doesn't matter any more—or at least that America doesn't have a dog in Europe's internal fights.

The "Da Vinci Code" Trailer

Although filming hasn't even started, Sony Pictures, has released a short "Da Vinci Code" trailer.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Defending Carthage and Carthaginians

My friend at Dappled Things has a comment on a post at Regions of Mind about an article published in The Wall Street Journal, claiming that Carthaginians have been long accused of infanticide. To be clear I am not an archealogist nor historian but I was more than suprised by the WSJ's story and I am hereafter making the following observations:

First, Tunisia's history spans over more than three thousand years and it has been at the criss-cross of many civilizations. In this regard, digging into a yet-to-be-verified single aspect of that whole history in order to stigmatize Tunisia is really ridiculous and irresponsable.

Second,Carthaginians are not the first nor the last settlers who lived in Tunisia. Prior to them,the North African country was the home of indigenous Berbers known as Amazighs whose descendants can be still found, today, in the Southern part of Tunisia. Then came the Phoenicians, who founded Carthage, which in the 4th century B.C. was eventually destroyed, and Tunisia was made part of the Roman Empire. In the 5th century A.D., Tunisia was captured by the Vandals and became the capital of their short-lived kingdom.In the 7th century and after a brief period of rule by the Byzantines, Tunisia was conquered by Arab Muslims and made part of the Umayyad Caliphate then Muslim Andalusians migrated to the area after having been forced out of Spain in 1492.

During the moslem era, different successive arab and moslem rulers have settled in Tunisia such as Aghlabids, Fatimids, Almohads and Hafsids.

In the Middle Ages, Tunisia became part of the Ottoman Empire and in the spring of 1881, France colonized the country under a protectorate until Tunisia got its independence from the french in in 1956.

Third,every country has both dark and enlightened aspects of their history and Tunisia is no exception but Mr. Omar Boukhari said in the WSJ's article "Tunisians need to learn about the most positive and most enlightened aspect's of Tunisia's history which has contributed in the making of today's open, tolerant and modern Tunisian society.

Fourth, history books mentioned the bloody and inhumane wars led by the Romans against Carthaginians and who does not recall the phrase of Roman Senator Cato the Elder, "Cartago Delenda Est" Carthage must be destroyed to memorialize the absolute Roman devastation. The Romans have annihiliated the City of Carthage, massacring women, men and children, burning everything and even more spreading salt on the soil of Carthage, thus putting an end to any sort of life.

Fifth, many ancient civilizations practiced child-sacrifice and incineration of dead bodies as part of their religious rituals and smearing the history of Carthage as one of child murders is but a part of a vicious campaign led by a network of moslem funadamentalists and extremists operating in Europe, who attempted in the past to provoke social upheaval in Tunisia through viloent activities and agression.

Sixth, since the 80s and 90s Tunisia, has fought those extremists and fundamentalists who in the name of Islam wanted to sever the country from its past and history. They have even fiercely criticized the Tunisian authorities for considering the idea to build a statue of the Carthaginian General Hannibal Barca in the city of Carthage,accusing the government of going back to paganism and heresy and likening it to the pre-islamic period that prevailed in the Arab penisula, known as Jahilya.

Finally, Professor Hassine Fantar, whom I had the chance to meet on a couple of occasions, is a well known and well-respected historian and archealogist and when you talk about Carthage, Mr. Fantar is more than an expert.

The Washingtonienne

You may well remember this former Hill staffer who lost her job after being outed on the web as the author of an anonymous blog, well she recently published her first novel The Washingtonienne which
chronicles the forays of Jacqueline Turner, a young woman who, after being dumped by her fiancé, heads to D.C. and proceeds to hump her way around the Hill in exchange for attention, money and drugs...

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

A view from Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia