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EREN F O R D IF F S E K O R T S IF F E R E N T
By Suzan Balaa If you could choose how to die, how would you cross over to the other side? My guess is many people prefer to die peacefully in their sleep. While that seems a lot better than drowning or suffocation, it’s such a sudden, flimsy way to slip away. If it were up to me, I’d want my death to be a celebration of how I lived. I want to die laughing. We’ve all laughed so hard we couldn’t breathe. For me, these laughing-frenzies usually take place at the most awkward and inappropriate situations like in a crowded elevator, or when I’m sitting in the front row of a small class. Most of the time, the struggle to smother my laugh is funnier than the untimely joke, and that snowballs into a laughing-frenzy. As embarrassing as that may seem, everyone loves a good
hysterical laugh, and there’s even a good reason why you should. Laughter helps release enzymes and hormones that are helpful for normal functioning of various organs. It is also a good workout for respiratory, abdominal, leg, back and facial muscles. However, in a few special cases, laughter may actually contribute to the death of a person. This extremely rare phenomenon is called “fatal hilarity.” In mythology, it is told that the Greek soothsayer Calchas was foretold the day of his death by another prophet. He waited anxiously for this day to come and when the day arrived and the prophecy didn’t seem to come true, he laughed so hard in cynicism at his victory over death that he dropped dead. But can it really happen? In fact, there have been more than 10 registered cases of “fatal hilarity.” On March 24th1975 Alex Mitchell, a 50year-old bricklayer from King’s Lynn, England, died laughing while watching an episode of The Goodies. In 1989 a Danish audiologist, named Ole Bentzen, died watching “A Fish Called Wanda.” His heart was estimated to have beaten between 250 and 500 beats per minute, before he finally expired due to cardiac arrest. Also, not so long ago in 2003, Damnoen Saen-um, a Thai ice cream salesman, died while laughing in his sleep at the age of 52. With his wife unable to wake him up, he stopped breathing after two minutes of continuous laughter. On a less morbid note, five
3. . Is s u e 9 0 ll a F lu b s ig h t C A U B In
interesting cases of loss of consciousness due to intense laughter have also been reported. This is called laughter-induced syncope. The laughter causes repetitive forced expirations which result in temporary reduction in blood flow, therefore causing a shortage of oxygen to the brain. One of these cases is a 56-year-old, moderately obese man who suffered laughterinduced syncope as he entertained his colleagues in a restaurant: “While waiting for the meals to be served, a guest had told a very amusing joke and the patient began to laugh heartily, ‘Ha, ha, ha, ha...’ in decrescendo until he was out of breath. To everyone’s surprise, he then fell forward resting his head on the table and remained unresponsive for a few seconds before regaining consciousness.” (Laugh syncope as a rare sub-type of the situational syncopes: a case report, Journal of Medical Case Reports). In conclusion, not enough information is given about “fatal hilarity” cases to decide whether laughter was the cause of death, contributing factor, or just a coincidence. Nevertheless, you have to admit staring death with a smile on your face seems like a pretty cool way to go. So smile even when no one’s looking and laugh hysterically. What’s the worst that could happen? READ PREVIOUS ISSUES OF ALLOY at http://www.issuu.com/alloy
Cl u b ’s W o rd
world around us is so intricately designed that one cannot but marvel at its wondrous beauty. There is so much harmony and so much perfection in nature that spending a single day out in the wilderness is enough to leave one struck with awe and inspired with wisdom. Imagine a tiny black ant spending its morning chewing on a little grain of wheat ten times its size, trying to cut it in half in order to carry it back home; what better a lesson for patience and perseverance?
Hive go near bee hives to avoid getting stung. The honeybee, therefore, becomes the boogeyman in grandma’s backyard. Of course, Winnie the Pooh not getting his honey only escalates matters until we reach our ultimate conclusion: honeybees are mean!
world implants in us that makes us arrive at such a conclusion, but when the honeybee stings, it does not think of itself and its own personal gain; rather, it thinks of its family and is willing to put all it has on the line to insure their well-being. Sacrifice is a virtue that is diminishing from our lives.
One of the most fascinating creatures in nature is our everyday honeybee. Those who have been stung by a honeybee when they were little may not entirely be charmed, but verily honeybees tend to be misunderstood creatures. It all starts when our parents warn us not to
We later on come across an interesting fun-fact in our elementary science class that makes us have another look at things: Did you know that when a honeybee stings, it loses its stinger and dies? Now this is very interesting. Why would a honeybee kill itself in order to defend itself? The honeybee species should definitely get together and re-evaluate this contradictory conflict resolution policy. Surely the honeybee knows it will die from watching its sisters drop dead. Conclusion: honeybees are stupid! Maybe it’s the material mindset that our modern
Editors in Chief:
Marwa Mehio and
Ramy Mourad and
and Sarah Fares
Writing Department Head:
Ghina El-Shafii , Mona Ayoub,
Siblings fight over inheritance, friends fight over business, nations fight over oil! It’s every man for himself. The honeybee lives for others.
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Graphic Design & Printing:: ca s.a.r.l
My First Easter B y Ram y M ourad
was born in Saudi Arabia to Lebanese parents, and when I became five years old, my parents moved to the United States. The “American” school I had been enrolled in the year before we moved lessened the difficulty that usually accompanies such a cultural transition; at the very least, when I became thirsty, instead of saying “anna abgha mooya,” I said “I want water.” Kindergarten in the States was an unpleasant experience. My English still deficient in spite of the American school, I only partially ever understood the activities in class. One day, Mrs. McGlumphy organized us into a line and led us to the playground. Two other teachers met us outside on the playground and we were each handed a brown shopping-size paper bag. As I looked around at my classmates, the focused, purposeful look on their faces told me they knew very well why we were here but revealed no clues I could use
to understand this unusual exercise. Then, a whistle blew, and everyone began to run. I ran, too, only I didn’t know why I was running or where. I ran holding the paper bag against my chest with both hands. I stopped momentarily when, to my left, a classmate bent down, picked something up beneath one of the bushes and dropped it into his bag. Down the bag it went before I could see what it was, so I started running again. A classmate ahead of me ran behind a tree and picked something up. I saw a dark brown color just before it disappeared into the bag. It was at that point that I made a severe mistake. Perhaps it was sheer desperation, but my frantic mind convinced me that I had seen a pine cone go down the bag. We weren’t looking for pine cones, of course, but the American school in Saudi Arabia hadn’t taught me anything about Easter or egg-hunting, so it never would have occurred to me that we were looking
for Easter eggs on that warm afternoon on the playground. Now that I thought we were collecting pine cones, I was relieved to see the playground was littered with them. They were everywhere I turned, and before very long, my bag was three-quarters full. At some point, a whistle blew and Mrs. McGlumphy called us back so that she could count how many pine cones each of us had found and announce the winner of the contest. Back at the starting line, I waited eagerly for my turn. Hugging the heavy bag of pine cones to my chest, I observed with great pleasure that my classmates’ bags appeared empty and drooping in comparison to my bag that was plump and round with pine cones. Mrs. McGlumphy wouldn>t even have to count the pine cones to tell that I was the undisputed winner.
the puzzled and horrorstruck look on her face. She snatched the heavy bag from between my arms and dumped the pine cones into a small pile on the ground in front of me. My eyes in tears, I grieved over the pine cones now on the ground. Mrs. McGlumphy walked over to one of the bushes, reached into it and brought back a red-decorated egg. I studied the egg carefully, turning it around while sensing its texture. Years later, when my classmate James asked me what it felt like to have been born in the desert and ride camels, I smiled as I thought back to that small boy who had collected pine cones on Easter. James didn’t intend to be insulting. He just didn’t know any better.
When my turn came, I put a big smile on my face while Mrs. McGlumphy looked into my bag. My smile didn’t last very long when I noticed
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Ramy Mourad Teacher: Mrs. McGlumphy
By Izzat El-Hajj
is not another one of those political articles. It is not an article that sanctifies one side and trashes the other, repeating the same old arguments we hear on television or when visiting friends. Nor is it an article that destructively antagonizes everyone it can, providing absolutely no alternative whatsoever. Nor is it an article that naively pronounces undisputed values and magnificent slogans without giving anything realizable or practical to do.
It is time for us to stop blaming others and start blaming ourselves! How can we expect our leaders not to cheat and to be ethical, if we cheat on our exams and plagiarize our assignments? And how can we expect them to be honest and tell the truth, if we’re always lying to our professors and making false excuses? And how can we expect them to be hard-working and committed if we’re always late to our classes, if not skipping them completely? And how can we expect them to engage in civilized respectful dialogue,
if we’re always disruptive in class and not paying attention? The decline in the Lebanese system is merely a reflection of the decline in our society’s ethical and moral values. When a parent asks their child to answer the phone and tell the caller that they’re not home, they are teaching the child that lying is alright and acceptable. We must not underestimate the impact of these tiny little actions, because their effect ripples far, and because they represent the principles by which our society is governed.
Mahatma Ghandi says, “Be the change you want to see.” If we want to strive for a better Lebanon, then we must start by looking in the mirror and working our way upward. Otherwise, the system will remain to be the system no matter what names we fill in the blanks, because it will continue to represent the people from which it was created. It would be foolish to build a building from the top downwards; the top will just keep on falling, and the lower parts will never be reached.
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In recent years
With “more than 200,000 migrant domestic workers in Lebanon—roughly one per every four families1,” the chances are high that you are in one of those families or that you know someone who is. Unfortunately, my family is one of those families. It brings me severe pain and utter shame to reveal that, in my household, there has been a long history of domestic workers, and that presently, a total of three maids reside with us. As a child, I was always disturbed by their programmed lifestyles. No schooling, no friends, no freedom, nothing new, utter dependency, robotic bodies, and unconditional obedience to my parents. Why? Of all people I hated myself the most for being incapable of doing something to ease their situation, but I tried. Sometimes, I would pay from my own allowance to get them calling cards so that they could call their families abroad. Other times, I would give them more food to eat, hoping I could numb their pain by food, but I soon realized that my efforts were going in vain. In fact, I had unconsciously made things worse because they felt like I pitied them, which added up to depriving them of their dignity as well. One night, I decided to leave the luxury of my bed and started
While it is true that not all host families treat their helpers badly, it does not undermine the severe infraction of civil liberties perpetrated by this kind of employment and living conditions, where most maids do not have their own private living quarters, a clearly defined working schedule, or freedom to come and go as they please. These maids work 24/7 non-stop with little pay, minimal rest, and no privacy. When the host family is cruel, breathing is perhaps the only freedom left that they possess, and by committing suicide, they are able to regain control over their lives—they will have had the last say for once, not the “Baba” or the “Mama” of the household.
to sleep next to my maid on the floor. This gesture made all the difference in both of our lives. In a way, it helped us regain a small part of the humanity we had both lost. To Genet, Kumari, City, and Kandy, I salute you for surviving.
, Lebanon has been
appointed as the center-state of what we may call 21th century slavery. A recent media outburst declared that “10 Ethiopian women have died, either by hanging themselves or by falling from tall buildings. Six of these cases have been reported in local media as suicides and four more have been described as possible work accidents.1” Ethiopian domestic workers are not the only victims of this slavery. Others coming from Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Nepal, Indonesia and other nationalities are also subject to such suicide attempts. According to the Human Rights Organization and other NGO groups in Lebanon, the main reason for these suicides is due to the abusive work conditions which these domestic workers are often subject to. The problem lies in the fact that this act of slavery is often regarded as “voluntary enslavement,” since the maid willingly prepares all her documents to travel; from smiling to take her passport photo, to packing her bags, kissing her family goodbye, and eagerly signing the official contract in order to migrate to the worldly state of hell. Lebanon. Amongst those who disapprove of this so-called binding contract is the Lebanese NGO forum, who regards this fictitious employment to be contract slavery, “where contracts are “legal fictions” rather than legally binding employment agreements, and thus conceal what are in reality conditions of slavery.1”
An Int er v i ew wit h Dr. R as hid Haidar
We all know how back pain is a common phenomenon among AUB students, especially those who have to carry laptops with them everyday. Khaled Abdallah, a biology graduate, conducted an interview with Dr. Rashid Haidar to clear out some misconceptions and get some advice. Khaled: How does carrying a heavy bag hurt my back? Doc: Carrying a heavy bag does not cause any damage to your spine. Science has not yet found any direct link between carrying heavy bags and vertebrae damage. The reason for the pain you feel is the muscle cramping that comes from the heavy load. Khaled: Are the chairs available at AUB healthy for our backs? Doc: No they are not. Our vertebral column is not straight as we think. In fact, a frontal view of the vertebral column shows it straight; however, if we take a profile view, we notice that it has a curved shape. Look at the figure below Lordosis is a medical term used to describe an inward curvature of a portion of the vertebral column. Two segments of the vertebral column are normally lordotic. So the best chairs are those that take in consideration the lordotic segments in our vertebral column and, unfortunately, this does not apply to the plastic and wooden chairs at AUB. Khaled: If I’m carrying a bag and am faced with the choice between taking the chemistry stairs and walking up the road, which should I choose? Doc: Choosing the road is much better than using the stairs especially for those who suffer from Chondromalacia Patella (also known as CMP or Runner>s Knee).CMP is a term for a large and disparate group of medical conditions that can cause pain at the front of the knee. It is common in young adults, especially soccer players, cyclists, rowers, tennis players, ballet dancers and runners. Khaled: Some women believe that carrying their bags on mid arms is a method where they can walk with their back straight, is that good? Doc: Carrying the bag on the mid arm to walk with a straight back is a misleading belief similar to walking with a book on the head. When carrying a bag on the mid arm, there is a reflex force that makes us push our back backwards. However, when you are not carrying a bag, your back will return to its normal position. (I changed the way the question is asked) Khaled: Is it normal to have such symptoms of back pain at an early age (around 18)? Doc: Unfortunately, having back pain (mainly muscle pain) has become very frequent among adolescents because they practice many sports (like soccer, basket, and gym), but if it’s below age of 10 or 12, then it’s abnormal. Khaled: Could stress be a factor that leads to back pain? Doc: Stress is involved in many health problems. It weakens the immune system, and with a weak immunity, body weaknesses become more apparent. If we suffer from back pain, stress might increase the pain or might cause pain in other areas in the body. Khaled: What treatment options should I consider for my back pain? Doc: The best solution to treat back pain (mainly due to muscle cramps) is to practice sports. It is better to consult a physiotherapist who teaches special exercises to strengthen muscles and joints. Swimming is also an excellent exercise.
The prostitute has the body, movements, and whimpers of a virgin. In general, we’d call that art. The lieutenant’s patience grows thin by the time the room service boy knocks on his door. His jacket is already lying on a chair by the window, the Star of David sewn into it gleaming in the moonlight. He seizes the girl from the waiter, her olive skin and dark hair tonight belonging to him. The prostitute has the body, movements, and whimpers of a virgin. In Israel, they call that victory. The general drifts off to a peaceful sleep, missing the tell-tale look in his companion’s eyes. Tomorrow is another day. The girl’s eyes once again search the room for an escape, as she lays too limp to sleep. They tell the story of the trail she and her sisters took everyday from her Palestinian village to the school around the corner, and back. They tell the story of the day when she and her sisters did not return home. They tell the story of heavy boots, filthy hands, big jeeps, sharp needles, torn clothes, and blood. The prostitute has the body, movements, and whimpers of a virgin. In Palestine, they call that violation. The girl wraps her robe tighter around her used body. Tomorrow is another day. The Arab man’s narghile has burned out. He turns off the T.V. and decides it time to go to sleep. Tomorrow is another day.
S he d d i n g Blo o d By Hind El-Hajj
4 8 1
7 8 3
(40 servings) Ingredients 1 cup margarine, softened 1 cup white sugar 1 cup brown sugar 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Directions 1.Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C. Grease cookie sheets. 2.In a medium bowl, cream together the margarine, white sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Sift in the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder; mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips. Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls and place them one inch apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. 3.Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
T he Best Do u bl e C hoc olate Chip Coo k ie
Adha campaign: Posters campaign, sweets distribution, and campus decoration in celebration of the Hajj and Eid Al Adha
A campaign in collaboration with 12 other clubs and lecture about the suffering of the people in Quds and Al-Aqsa
A bake sale and gift wrapping in collaboration with CCECS to raise funds for a shelter for disabled children.
Students from AUB visit the shelter and make the children happy.
Orphansâ€™ Clothing: A visit with orphans to get them new clothes of their choice for the holidays.
The third issue of AUB Insight Club's very own publication, ALLOY!