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Contents | October 2010 TEAM PLAYERS
Dylan Longley Co-Editor
Omar AlOmeir Layout & Design
EDITORIAL Features 8
4 Letters in Sand Part 1.
Journeys in a crumbling world: A Photographic Essay
8 An Eid Story
1st place Winner of the PSU Short Story Competition
3rd place Winner of the PSU Short Story Competition
12 The Sacred Mountain 14 Letters in Sand Part 2. 12
Correspondence from a different quarter
Technology 15 The Playbook
Blackberry’s Answer to Apple’s iPad
16 Flying Cars An Interview
Entertainment 17 Top 3 Movies/Games to watch/play this month
18 Madness, War and
A Review of PSU Poetry Club 2009-2010
The first issue of a magazine is perhaps the most difficult of all, primarily because the editor and staff have to make assumptions about their potential readership which may, or may not, prove to be true. In addition, some members of the university may not have developed enough awareness or even self-confidence to persuade them to become contributors. Inevitably, then, we just have to take the plunge in the hope that what has been produced by a comparatively small fraction of the university appeals to a reasonably broad spectrum of students and faculty. FOCUS is not meant to be a literary or academic journal for grim initiates in special fields of competency, even though well-informed articles on lesser-known topics are naturally encouraged. The general tenor of FOCUS will be in a more down-to-earth direction: local news and current affairs, film previews and reviews, travel, computer games, and videos, and so on. I myself hope that humour will always play its part. Everyone likes to smile at a good cartoon, at a comical story, or at a satirical poem like Talal Al-Tamimi’s. And there is always something like the splendid genome of chocolate to be adapted from the press or other media. Why! We could, like the University of San José, CA, even have a “BulwerLytton Contest” for aficionados of tortuous and torturous inflated prose, which can be so much fun --- and can also serve as a salutary reminder that overwriting is a vice and simplicity a virtue. So come on, wavering contributors! Show what you can do. The chances are that you will surprise even yourself by informing and entertaining your contemporaries at the university.
J. Jeremy Beastall. Editor in Chief
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Letters in sand part 1.
Journeys in a crumbling world. A Photographic Essay
- Dylan Longley
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Ramadan was underway when I thumbed a lift with Royal Jordanian Airlines to Amman. Best way to describe the city: Valley roads, mountain suburbs, veritable A/C weather... for the first day. My fantasy of enjoying 27°C weather evaporated when a summer heat wave crept in and lifted the mercury to 40°, melting any chance of fasting in the desert treks my dad had planned. Our taxi driver, Ibrahim was an absolute gem, leading us far and wide from the capital into the north and cutting a swathe all the way to Aqaba over the ensuing days.
The year - 2010, the date... well the date is not important. What was important was the temperature. In Riyadh the chocolate on your donut would melt in five seconds and in the summer heat you felt as if your brain was evaporating out of your skull through each strand of hair. Because we were not travelling to the far side of the earth for the vacation, summer in Riyadh seemed like a rather entertaining prospect and a chance to get to know my couch and TV better. Not so. The arrival of a new infant son and an important visitor altered my intended plans somewhat. Firstly, you should know that this trip arose out of necessity, a sense of duty, a desire to explore parts of the region not fully explored and enjoy some chillin’ weather for a week or so. Secondly, responsible for this trip was my dad. He could be described as insane, but in the hip diagnostic sense, not the clinically gaga drooling sense. For his 60th birthday this year he elected to meet my uncle in the Maldive Islands for a week of surfing off some the best reef breaks in the world. Week two would involve seven days of intensive bashing of the old world sites in Jordan, followed by a further stint in Riyadh with the family and grandchildren. Talk about packing in enough activities in an all-out three week birthday blow-out. His energy boggles my mind. I had no choice but to participate. FOCUS December 2010 6
We started by executing a delay tactic, while waiting for a visa from the Saudi embassy (note to self- Ramadan is not the time to rely on Arab bureaucratic systems). This was effected by way of a day trip to Jerash and Ajloun- two exciting and contrasting locations in the north, one an ancient Greek and Roman city, unearthed and partially reconstructed, while Ajloun was once home to Salah-Al Din for a time and is nestled into the beautiful Jordanian farmland and bordered by Syria and Palestine.
Day three and we hit the road south for a peek into the Siq at Petra, the stone city, famous in the Qur’an for being the home to the destroyed Thamud and, of course renowned for the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt rediscovering the ancient Nabataean heartland in 1817. The world simply stops when you reach the site. And stands. In awe. The imagination can only fathom part of the historic appeal of such an impressive display of human will and achievement over the bare rock that dominates this landscape. My two words of advice for you in this life. Go There.
If you’ve ever seen David Lean’s celluloid masterpiece, Lawrence of Arabia then it is guaranteed the true canvas of the man’s life will fill in the missing pieces of the trials he and his allies faced in the Rum. The formations here are unparalleled and made all the more enjoyable by the hospitality of the local people, whose lifeblood is the tourist business that such films have generated. The photos I took of my father’s face said a lot about just how much fun he was having, camera in hand, stalking the dunes for that vital vista before sunset most people merely admire from magazines and the National Geographic channel. We slept under the stars and awoke at dawn to take the monumental scope of the valley in. A shame that we didn’t have a month to fully absorb the beauty that the still, dry desert atmosphere, which exudes such power and enchantment offers. Photos barely scratch the grandeur that is visible to the eye, especially at elevation.
Day 5 and we slunk into Aqaba for a bit of indulgence and a good night’s rest in a soft bed at the Intercontinental. A well deserved recompense for two days’ hard slog in the unforgiving desert heat. A nice dip in the Red Sea and a good hot Lebanese meal set us up for the next chapter in the story: Wadi Rum.
Finally, a day-long burn up the King’s Highway, through Kerak, The Dead Sea, Wadi Mujib and back into Amman. In truth, this account is as inadequate at detailing the true joy of the sights, smells and sounds of Jordan and its wonderful characters, the people we met along the way. As inadequate as the photographs could hope to convey the true colours and contrasts of the country. Needless to say it was a week of wonderful experiences, heightened by the atmosphere created by the Ramadan period, the family bonding and the hospitality of the people and their beautiful nation. FOCUS December 2010 7
An Eid Story
1st Place Winner of the PSU Short Story Competition O reader it comes to us this tale of Baghdad on the fifth Eid Al-Adha of the Khalifah Mamun Al-Rashid 1. Our story takes place on a day the sun didn’t rise to feast. Its lateness was forgotten among the people of Bagdad the great. A city so marvelous its splendor sweeps away the needs of the deprived. For the believers of this glorious city a discovery awaits them. In the breaking of the fast many paths are taken. Some towards God, others to debauchery and one ill turn could perhaps open one’s horizons. If a believer turned his gaze south from the marble palaces of Al-Rashid, moved past the gardens of the fortunate, trailed across the middle bridge on Tigris and deep into the bazaars to find tales from across the continent. In one of the many dirty stalls where the grease of gutted entrails paved the way, air foul with loose tongues and dirty mongrels roamed, there was a boy. A beauty sitting on disheveled robes singing poems. His voice thawed winter, heralded love affairs of spring and his smile was a glimmer of paradise. Men and women first espying him would marvel and remark “Glory to God, who created this creature” but when he sang they were even more in awe. Learned men who understood the eloquence of Farsi, hearing legends of old woven, would feel their purses and take one dinar among many and toss it at his feet. For one who was deaf to the language just lending a single ear brought merciful will. The young men with sticks would scream and the boy would need to find another corner. The words that moved some and inflamed others perplexed the boy because he didn’t understand them. When he spoke, it came in braying of beasts, but singing he felt a spray of warm kisses. The music was his only means. Every time the singing dissolved there was only loneliness. Seeing a child tugging at sleeves of a mother the music, he moved in and sang. “O dwelling of Salma! Thou art far from us now but thine image is still engraved on my heart. When I saw the house fall in ruins, I knew that the good times would never come again”2
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A man with tall white headdress that resembled the jars of drunkards put two dinars in the boy’s hands and walked away. He pocketed the coins after saying thanks to all that was good and to the absence of evil. Most of lepers, thieves and downtrodden were at city square signing consensus for receiving zakkah. They were his companions cheering as he sang but would turn when luck came by. The world can take his money. All the treasures of Kings and the rings of Jinns couldn’t grant him one wish. The wish he thought about every feast, royal circumcisions and other heavenly days was in vain, yet the yearnings stayed.
Sighing, he felt the sufficient heaviness of coins and went to break his hunger. The butchers in those days still understood the language of misery and distress. Giving the coins to a kindly man he was given the biggest piece of meat. But as he ate, a familiar melody cast a voice in the dark. To the unenlightened it was just familiar repetition. But he felt a rhythm of life. He turned to see the most beautiful creature with eyes of glinting emeralds, endowed with luxurious striped fur and a voice of angels, his feline friend. Every day of Ramadan they would find each other near the butcher’s store. He started petting her from back of ear and she purred in recognition. Cutting morsels he fed her. But as before, when the third set of morsels was cut, her mouth clamped on them as if they were a litter and fled. Before, it was enough for each of them to go their separate ways but today he wanted to be with her. He ran after her as far as skinny legs would take him. The familiar smells started to recede and oppressive walls start to open up to a blue sky. A distant sound approached him in haste each time lunging with a bang and falling back. The bang got louder each time filling the boy with dread. Stepping into street he was transfixed by a sight.
Crowds lined up streets as the parade started. Royal Mamelukes3 in formation with feathers in their caps strode through wielding cudgels as they beat the drums. White stallions of high breed carried the men of stature blinding the streets in magnificence. Women of the Franks, Persians, Indians and of the Far East dressed in sallow colors, hips swaying with their red smiles and black kohl bewitching the seekers. Half-naked eunuchs carried cushions filled with dazzling silver and gold tossing them in the streets as all walks of life threw themselves. A huddled mass of many colors muddied by the street shoving and pushing with their behinds wagging as a great white beast trumpeted glory. The boy was forsaken in his ignorance. He grew afraid, feeling himself being devoured until a small mewing awoke him from the spell. His hands groped the air for the distant notes that would guide him. Grasping the wall of a dingy old house he found his lady calling. Climbing the bricks as carefully as adventurous suitors did for their lovers. Reaching the roof he found not only his friend but also another cat. The stranger purred as his friend carefully placed the morsels of meat in front of it. Scratches were all over its body, its tail falling apart and patches of fur gone. The cat meowed at the boy, showing its cloudy eyes. The cat was blind. The boy realized now how his friend spent Ramadan giving charity; richness that could not rust or be spent. Feeling his spirit echo, his mouth spoke what his mind could not. “Look at the Perfect One. He Spins and Whirls like a Golden Compass. Beyond all that is Rational. To show this dear world. That Everything, Everything in Existence” he sang as he petted both cats and fed them morsels from his pockets. He started to purr as they purred their melodies strung together, music that no poetry could do justice to. An answer for all.
1) Mamun Al-Rashid the son of Harun Rashid the famous Abbasid king made famous by The 1001 Arabian Nights. His reign marked a shift in power from Arab hegemony to the Persian and Turk slaves and commoners. Persian poetry and music were popular at this time. 2) This was a song sung by Dandir a singer of the Barkamids a powerful royal Persian family which Harun Rashid wiped out fearing their power. Forcing Dandir through torture to sing she sang this poem and Harun Rashid regretting his actions after hearing it subsequently left her alone. 3) Mamulukes were slave soldiers of the Abbasids. A practice first developed by the Byzantines which was taken up by the Abbasid Empire in Mamun Al Rashid’s time due to fears of disloyalty from the Arab military ranks. Mainly from Turkish background they soon grew so powerful that they took over the empire.
3rd Place Winner of the PSU Short Story Competition It’s Friday and every Friday we have a barbeque. I’m sitting on the grass under the tree watching my cousins play, my father is lying on the hammock, my mom preparing the table with my aunts and my brothers are making the barbeque. As with every Friday ,however this one is slightly different. My brothers are smiling and getting along. They never get along with one another. Maybe it started on that day, the day I skipped school. It was Monday when me and my friend Sam skipped school and went to the park. We arrived at there and we saw Jack, also known as “The Smasher”. He was bullying a kid from our school. Of course we were only passing by, we never once thought of helping that poor kid out. Well maybe a little. However, I think what made us hesitate was the glare he gave us from far away and the fact that he had two of his friends with him. We then thought that it was time for us to go home. I reached my house and had lunch with my family. As usual my brothers always ignore each other’s existence in the dining room. I wish that one day they would get along. After that my elder brother went out with his friends and my middle brother went to his special area as usual. On Tuesday, at school it was time for recess and Jack started looking for me and Sam. He finally saw us and gave us the same glare he gave us last time. I stood still, trying to shift my eyes away from him nervously and Sam’s body started to shake as Jack was getting closer to us. He looked at me first, but then shifted to Sam. Then he pushed him and asked if he was afraid or not, but of course he was too afraid to answer. Jack had a weird smile on his face. A smile saying that he was up to no good. He punched Sam’s stomach and he fell to the ground. From that day on Sam’s life changed. The bullying continued till the weekend and on the first day of the weekend I stopped by Sam’s house, so that we could hangout. But he refused, since he was scared that Jack would bully him if he went out. I didn’t blame him, but I didn’t think that what he was doing was right. Then I started to think of the weekend and how to spend it. I went back home, thinking that I could spend my weekend with my older brother Dean, since we always have fun together and rarely argue, but he was out with his friends, so that idea wouldn’t work. The only choice left is my middle brother Ben. Of course he doesn’t treat me as well as Dean does. Because of that I argue and fight with him a lot, but he’s closer to me than Dean is and cares for me, so I can talk to him about anything even though he’s older than me by five years. I went to the rec area and found him training there, so I watched him as I usually do when I am bored. I thought that I could do more than just watch him, I could imitate him when he leaves. So I focused my eyes on the training he was doing, memorized it and then imitated it when he left. On Monday, after school I took the route from the park to my house when I saw someone on the ground in the middle of the park. Then I realized that it was Sam, I quickly rushed to him. He was covered in bruises and a few cuts, when I got a hold of him I asked him if he was alright, he told me to get the hell away from him. I let go of Sam and left for my house, thinking that I needed to do something about Jack. I started training on my Ben’s self defence techniques for the next two days. Then on Wednesday, after school I walked near the park heading home when I heard laughter and yelling from the park. I thought it might be Jack bullying Sam again, so I tried to meet up with Sam. When I found with him I told him to run and that I would distract Jack. I waited. Then Jack saw me and came to me asking for Sam. As soon as he finished asking his question I threw a punch at his face, and his friends started to attack me straight away. After a few punches I was able to beat his friends, then Jack stood up again and tried to punch me with a quick right jab, but I blocked it and gave another punch to his stomach. He fell to the ground and said with an angry and frustrated tone “You’ll regret what you have done to me”, I just walked away. The next day after school, I was in the grounds waiting for my dad to pick me up. Jack and his two friends came at me with his older brother and his friends, who were in college. They surrounded me, then three of them attacked me. I was able to beat those three one by one as fast as possible, but then more ganged up on me and threw me to the ground. I was badly hurt and Jack’s older brother was about to give the last punch when a shadow came in front of me and punched him . That shadow turned out to be my older brother and then my middle brother came to me and said “You did a good job, we’ll handle it from here”. My brothers fought them with no fear in their eyes and were able to beat them. After the fight ended they turned to me, both of them were smiling even though they were covered with bruises and cuts. I couldn’t help but smile, too and asked “why?” Then they both said “If these bruises and cuts are what we have to pay to protect our little brother then we wouldn’t mind losing an arm or leg”. I couldn’t believe it. My wish came true, my brothers had gotten along. Then they helped me up and then we walked home together. From that day on, my brothers started to get along better. They still fight sometimes, but in the end this is our brotherhood. -Abdullah Ruwietia
The Complexity Of The Chocolate Biscuit If you think you are a complicated type, spare a thought for Theobroma cacao and Triticum aestivum, two essential ingredients of the humble chocolate biscuit---the first being cocoa and the second wheat. The first living organism to have its genome sequenced was a bacterium. That was in 1995. It took geneticists only 5 more years to unravel our own human DNA ‘program’. Sequencing has accelerated since then, and over 180 genomes are known. The latest to be discovered is that of cacao---not a mis-spelling, merely the Spanish version of cacahuatl in Nahuatl. The human genome has less than 30,000 genes. But, lo, cacao has around 35,000. What’s more is that wheat seems to have about 40,000. But it was humans who sequenced cacao and wheat, and not the other way round. In other words, size isn’t everything. -J. Jeremy Beastall
A Day in a Banker’s Life
Oil prices went down-Goldman Sachs and the Fed. Let me grab my Starbucks, and go meet the heads check my Bloomberg chat, and set a conference call. Our commission is flat, my cappuccino is tall. What’s the best stack to recommend? Will issue on it some call. When I go to my home all I think is work. Remoting into my PC, it’s my comfort zone, going to bed with my BB, sending a mail while I sleep. Hostage to my work, it hunts me in my dreams. That’s why I said, “Finance is not for me.” I’d rather be in IT, or sell coffee and tea…
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Philip Kottler Goes to Riyadh
It was hard to believe that Philip Kottler, esteemed guru of marketing and management would show up in Riyadh. That’s right. Philip Kottler, everyone. He’s advised countries and companies. He’s the guy who has been writing your principal marketing and management books for the past quarter century. Hard to believe the man is almost 80 years old. When I heard about it, I thought “awesome.” But when they told me the price (for businessmen and non-students) I thought I was having a stroke. Two grand (that’s dollars people!!!) Just to listen to some decrepit old man lecture for 8 hours!!! I thought I had to sell a kidney. Good thing I was still a student. The first thing I thought was “I hope he doesn’t drop dead right then and there.” On to the seminar, which took place at the Faisaliah hotel. Hundreds of masters of capitalism and enterprise showed up in addition to the most brilliant marketing minds that Saudi Arabia has to offer. As a student, one feels overawed and exceedingly overwhelmed at the fact of just thinking, pausing and staring on to that large space where everybody was. You then said to yourself: “Is this my future?” “ Is this what I will become?” When the old man walked into the room he was given a very warm welcome. Everything went silent. He opened his mouth and it was on for the next eight hours. I said to myself any second, any second now. He’ll start talking about his new revolutionary idea or a new concept that will have people going bananas. FOCUS December 2010 10
Quite the contrary. It was the same material that we marketing students have been studying at the university for god knows how long. It was just recycled and stated over again. He went on about how we should keep up with the times, buy an iPad, and stay in touch with the world using new age tools such as face book and twitter. It was an old man talking to a bunch of old men. Did I make the right decision? Did I expect too much? Then I realized that this was a seminar directed to Ceo’s and number men, not mad men(what ad men and marketers were called back in the fifties and sixties) But keeping that aside, one goes there for the experience, to shake hands and meet new people, to mingle with the crowd. One might walk in expecting nothing and walk out with 5 job offers under one’s belt. As marketers, we don’t only market products and goods. We also market ourselves. A close friend of mine, who works for Leo Burnett, told me once “you are not a human being, you are a tool. Market yourself.” All in all, did I learn something substantial? No. Was it entertaining? Maybe. I met the faculty members outside the main hall to get some coffee during a break and their thoughts were similar to mine. But one member told me something. He told me to “be proud of your university and your curriculum.” As much as I loved to disagree with him, he made a very good point. I did not realize that until now.
The PSU Short Story Competition 2010
WHAT’S IN A NAME? In this issue I shall refer to just one common Arabic word of many that have unexpected ---- and fascinating --- origins. The word is funduq. The first question is: why does it appear in Italian as fondaco, meaning a mere ‘storehouse’, and in Spanish as alhóndiga, a ‘granary’? And here’s the answer.
In a new venture for the English Department, the PSU Short Story Competition was inaugurated in 2010. This is an annual competition aimed at encouraging students to demonstrate their writing skills in an open, creative format. The first ever competition saw nineteen entries come in, ten from male students and nine from female students. On this occasion, the word limit was 1,000 words, although topic choice was unlimited. A diverse range of stories came in from the overtly autobiographical to the fantastic and otherworldly. The eventual winner was Mohamed Al-Lehbi for his story ‘An Eid Story’ [printed in this issue]. Dr. Frederick Highland, PSU associate professor and novelist, commented that the story was heavily redolent of ‘1001 Nights’ and stood out for its atmospheric evocations. Second place was awarded to Abdullah Al-Rwieta for his story ‘Brotherhood’ [also printed here] and in third place was Marwa Wadie Ahmed’s story ‘A Doll’s Conversation’. Mohamed received an iPhone, Abdullah a laptop, and Marwa a BlackBerry. On behalf of PSU and the English Department, Focus Magazine commends the winners and the other entrants for quality of their writing for this competition. -Yosuf Hindess
The word began in the C5th BC in ancient Greece. It was the pandocheion, literally ‘a place where all are welcome’. It was originally a place where travelers, often merchants with their goods, could spend their nights, safe from the dangers of the roads. Inevitably, as this old sort of hostel spread, so its name often became a synonym for what we may call a ‘dive’. In the Vulgate, the Greek word is translated by St. Jerome into the Latin stabulum, which speaks ill of it since this word could refer to ‘a den of vice’. With the rise of Islam, Arabs, probably in Syria, borrowed the word --- but not its reputation ---- and it almost inevitably became funduq, just as they took from Greek sources words like paradeisos and obolos to produce firdaws and fals*¹, respectively. The funduq became an institution stretching from the Maghreb to the Yemen. It provided safe accommodation at nights for merchants and their wares. Everyone was locked up overnight in a sort of citadel. If one visits, for instance, the old Yemeni quarter of Sana’a, one can see what remains of an old funduq. -J. Jeremy Beastall *¹ These words, and others, will be looked at in later issues.
Coming soon in January, the start of the PSU Short Story Competition 2011! Further details to be announced then. Start writing…now!
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A STAMPWHYS LITERARY QUIZ: “THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW” Comment on “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Frederick Highland: When I first opened my writing business in 1996, I experimented with writing articles for different publication markets. An avid stamp collector or philatelist since childhood, the philatelic press seemed like natural niche for me. After publishing a few articles in various magazines and newspapers, I began work on a book length collection of suspenseful tales inspired by stamp imagery and symbolism. The Mystery Box, my first book, followed in 1998. In that year I created The Mystery Box website too, a site devoted to three passions— mystery, history, and stamps. The site is an ongoing labor of love and I continue to add new articles. A recent addition appears here, part of a series I call StampWhys, playful quizzes based on the subject of one or more postage stamps. See if you can guess the answer to the quiz based on a 1974 US stamp before reading my explanation. By the way, I am often asked about the origin of the term PHILATELY. When the postage stamp was introduced in Britain in1840 as a novel way of prepaying for postal delivery, people were delighted that they no longer had to pay “carriage tax” when they received mail. When collecting the new stamps became a phenomenon, collectors became known as philatelists—or “those who do not love paying taxes” – from the Greek: philos (love of) + a (no) +telos (tax). Philately is a convoluted term at best, but perhaps marginally better than “timbrophily”, an early competing term for the hobby.
In Washington Irving’s famous American short story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, the gentle and credulous schoolmaster Ichabod Crane is frustrated in his attempts to woo the beautiful Katrina van Tassel. He is finally driven off entirely by the appearance of a sinister headless horseman. According to legend, the headless horseman was the ghost of a soldier from what state? a. New York b. Hesse c. Massachusetts d. Maine Answer: Okay, the writer admits to a bit of a trick question but Hesse was in fact a state at the time, albeit in Germany rather than the USA. Hessian soldiers were mercenaries hired by the British government to help dampen the enthusiasm of American revolutionaries. The horseman of Washington Irving’s supernatural tale was reputed to be “the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannon-ball, in some nameless battle during the Revolutionary War, and who is ever and anon seen by the country folk hurrying along in the gloom of night, as if on the wings of the wind.” A terrifying encounter with the specter convinced Ichabod that his fortunes lay elsewhere than in the cozy precincts of Sleepy Hollow, although Irving hints broadly that the schoolmaster’s rival for the hand of Katrina, one Brom Bones, may well have had more than—if the pun will be forgiven-- a nodding acquaintance with the dead Hessian in question. The image for this stamp appears to have been inspired by a famous 19th century painting of the subject by American artist, John Quidor, Ichabod Crane Pursued by the Headless Horseman (1848), shown below. Quidor was a master at creating eerie scenes with a touch of humor, elements we find at play in this US postage stamp issued in 1974. The village of Sleepy Hollow may still be visited in New York state—if you dare. -Dr.Fredrick Highland
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He was born in Tunisia in 1332AD. His family was originally from Yemen and they were powerful in Seville, Andalusia. They immigrated to Tunisia when the Spanish were beginning to take Andalusia back and he moved around North Africa as well as Al-Hejaz.
Basically he studied Al-Quran al-Sharif, which he memorized as a small boy, Al-Hadeeth Al-Nabawi (the Prophet’s life), and al-Fiqh (jurisprudence), along with Al-Balaghah ( rhetoric). He also studied subjects like philosophy and mathematics.
His career He first worked with politicians as an ambassador and a councilor in Marrakesh, Andalusia, and Tunisia, and that caused him to suffer. He thought that he had no choice because his grandfather, father and brother worked in the field of politics. He was put in prison several times. So he stopped working in politics and moved to Cairo, Egypt, where he was popular and respected by the Egyptians. Consequently, he worked there first as an educator of Al-Fiqh Al-Maliki, and then as a judge. After that, he moved to Damascus for a while, but he returned to Egypt to become the supreme judge there because of his expertise.
His Travels He traveled to Morocco, Tunisia, Andalusia, Damascus, and Egypt. He traveled----mainly to get away from politics, which, as I have mentioned, he disliked---- and this gave him the chance to study different societies.
Views about him There have been many eminent scholars who have commented on Ibn Khaldoun. One of them, Arnold Toynbee, wrote in an article about Ibn Khaldoun, “ It is to Ibn Khaldun’s credit that, unlike Hegel and so many other philosophers, he did not elevate his own group above others and thereby succumb to ethnocentrism.”
Ibn Khaldoun published Al-Moqadima when he was 43 years old, and this is what he is most famous for. He also wrote Rehlat Ibn Khaldoun Fi Al-Mashriq wa Al-Maghrib, which is He died on 19 March 1406, one month after his sixth selection about his travels in the east and west. It also addressed his life for the office of the Maliki qadi. and experience. In addition, he wrote Al-Ebar and Diwan Al-Ziad A. AlAjaji Mokhtabar wa Al-Khabar, which are about sociology in general. FOCUS December 2010 13
Letters in Sand Part 2.
Correspondence from a different quarter.
During the weekend at the end of September a funny thing happened in Riyadh. People came together. It wasn’t a force of nature, national holiday or a religious event. The third annual AFTA (ADHD) Genius Festival was opened at the King Faisal Hospital’s Cave Park at 5pm on Wednesday 29th and Thursday 30th, running until 11pm both nights. Families and individuals flocked to the main garden where dozens of stalls and activity areas had been set up with information and services dedicated to promoting awareness of the country’s commitment to assistance for a range of medical and psychological issues and the professionals whose job it is to care for and rehabilitate citizens in need.
expressed his enjoyment at the inundation of the event with people of all ages and nationalities. “It’s like a carnival for a cause. As person who lives with ADHD it’s nice to see people giving attention it deserves” he paused to utter, while ensuring the smooth progress of the many stands and activities. The ADHD T-shirts, designed by Omar Al-Omeir (Computer Sciences faculty, PSU) were a particular hit, as was his face-painting techniques, which kept him in high demand by kids for most of Thursday evening. Amer Agha, Saud Sadoon, Abdulrahman Abbas and Amro Munajjed all put in heaps of effort on the coffee stands, art desk, Basketball shoot and Barbeque, making PSU and the event organisers proud.
The atmosphere on both evenings was overwhelmingly positive and cheerful. Aside from the children making the most of the face-painting, bouncy castles, art activities, theatre shows and sports demonstrations it was heartening to see the input from so many youths working at the booths, interacting with the public in a mature and responsible way and giving their time freely to an event that thrived on good will and the donation of huge amounts of human resources and skill.
Suad Al-Yamani is the head of the ADHD Support Group that runs the event found support from the main patron of the event, Abdulrahman Ibn Musa’ad Al-Saud, (head of the Al-Hilal football Club) who was able to ensure success for the event participants by attracting star talent and promoting heavily. For future notice, this is a worthwhile two nights out to put on your calendar for next year. The combination of pleasant weather, surroundings and the genuine intentions of both the organisers and attendees made for a memorable occasion. It serves as another reminder that yes, even in Riyadh, when minds and hearts come together the garden city’s flowers will blossom.
Mohammed Lehbi, the booth organiser, was glowing with pride at what was in part his creation. Manning the ADHD stall with fellow students from PSU, he
For more information or to get involved you can contact the people who made it happen on: WEB: www.adhd.org.sa EMAIL: email@example.com BLOG: myafta.adhd.org.sa FOCUS December 2010 14
Personal Development Skills courses -a guiding light in a sea of confusion-
In distress? Try PDS! Is your life a mess? Try PDS! Couldn’t care less? Try PDS! Lacking study zest? Try PDS! Can’t write like Herman Hesse? Try PDS! Strangled by stress? Try PDS!
PDS – ‘From discovery…to competency…to mastery.’ FOCUS December 2010 15
ADHD and Saudi Arabia I started this 2nd semester with a New Year resolution to get In 2005 the cost of ADHD in the U.S was between $36 and organized. Everyone always told me the same thing Moham- $52 billion which would be enough to cover other parts of the med your major problem is organization. I said to myself economy such as healthcare, police, and education but due to “Let’s try this again”. So I bought a few folders and binders the inefficiency in the system the cost has grown astronomical. and began to schedule my study times and break times. In Across ten countries ADHD was associated with 143.8 million the first week I was a walking database containing folders for days lost in productivity! every class. Alphabetized, people! In three weeks my folders are somewhere in my room, my papers are in the back of the trunk of car, on the back seats and under the seats and some of them well have disappeared, gone! Gentlemen, I confess I have ADHD. No, it isn’t the new AC/DC cover album or a strand of flu; Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder is lower neurotransmitter activity then normal in pre-frontal area. ADHD is one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders in children and extends to adulthood if not treated. 2-3% of world is reported to have ADHD. That’s 2-3% around 180 million, enough to make up a nation. The three primary symptoms of ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. All of these symptoms appear for everyone but it’s amplified for those who have ADHD. To better understand the state of inattention think about the most boring thing you ever done then multiply that torture by ten and you get how an ADHD person rather live in a dream world than the real world. Hyperactivity is like giving sugar to kids except it’s already in the bloodstream. Impulsivity is having the courage to tell your wife before your brain restrains you that she looks fat. As any good documentary will tell you, ADHD is caused by corporations poisoning the water supplies, television sending in radio waves to reprogram our minds. Some say it doesn’t exist. It’s a conspiracy! Well here’s something these documentaries forgot to mention: the facts! ADHD isn’t any of these things nor is it a contagious disease. It’s a disorder, like autism or bipolar disorder that leads people to different lives than the majority. The disorder is caused by a number of biological factors; one of them is hereditary. A great deal of evidence by twin studies showing the ADHD disorder is visible not only in children but also in parents. So anytime you make your parents angry say it’s their fault! I am kidding.
It’s been estimated that 15.5 % of the population in Saudi Arabia have ADHD that’s almost 1/5 of our country’s population. Parents of children with ADHD don’t know how they didn’t conform to society’s expectations. In this rejection the child’s self worth is diminished. This ties into how outsiders are rejected by society because of their weakness and their inability to conform. Children with ADHD have cried themselves to sleep thinking they are stupid. Lack of awareness of ADHD as a disorder and is construed as a disease. You may have seen the results of my groups campaign around some of Riyadh’s universities. Einstein, Michael Jordan, Will Smith and Walt Disney all had ADHD but why did we use these celebrities? Is it that we thought that these are the only important people with ADHD in the world. No these are examples of people who succeeded in spite of the setbacks of ADHD but they aren’t special anymore than we are. They just believed in themselves. Our campaign was to make people aware of ADHD and to show society the positives of ADHD such as creativity and drive to succeed but also for ADHD individuals to believe in themselves. Some of you may be wondering why we didn’t use people with ADHD close to home such as Saudi celebrities or at least Arab ones.
Children with ADHD enter school and when they fail, it The truth of matter is that there are people with ADHD in our doesn’t stop getting worse until they are either expelled or drop society some in our entertainment industry but they are afraid. out. By the age of eleven 80% of ADHD children are at least There was a government minister in one Arab country who two years behind in reading, writing, spelling and math. Can told a reporter he had an ADHD and he learns to control it as we say our current system is a success? Earlier I mentioned a child. The reporter reported in newspaper and government that ADHD runs in the family. But did you know statistically minister denied the accusation that he had ADHD and sued that the prevalent rates are higher among males with incomes him. Your awareness of these celebrities is really just beginbelow the poverty threshold. This is tied into students who fail ning in a long road for ADHD to be discovered and appreciated or are expelled from institutions and join the ranks of the poor. in our country. So that people with ADHD in this country can Considering the high unemployment rate in this country, aren’t one day hold up their head high. -Mohammed AlLehbi we bearing too high a cost? FOCUS December 2010 16
The Playbook BlackBerry’s Answer to Apple’s iPad
Research In Motion (RIM) recently introduced the BlackBerry Playbook to compete with upscale tablets like Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab. RIM’s tablet computer is to showcase the stylishness of the Apple iPad and the solid reputation of BlackBerry in the corporate market. The news comes with huge anticipation as it has been revealed that the Blackberry pad will be smaller and thinner than the iPad. The tablet will have all the Blackberry Operating System capabilities and early word is that it will not be released until 2011. As far as the OS goes, RIM will use a new platform built by QNX, an OS maker RIM bought earlier this year, instead of BlackBerry OS. The tablet will feature a seven-inch touch screen, up to two cameras, and Bluetooth to connect with headsets and other devices. However, the most interesting aspect is its cellular plan. The Wall Street Journal says the Playbook will offer mobile Internet, but only through another BlackBerry smartphone. In other words, you’ll need to already own a BlackBerry to get the most out of a Playbook. Here is a comparison between the BlackBerry Playbook and Apple iPad in various specifications:
1GHz Dual Processor
1GHz Apple A4
BlackBerry Tablet OS/ QNX
7-inci, WSVGA, multitouch screen
9,7-inci, LED multitouch
16GB, 32GB, or64GB
BlackBerry App Store
Apple App Store
FOCUS December 2010 17
An Interview -DylanLongley
Each issue we interview a different car owner / enthusiast to find out what is the driving force behind their need for speed, shiny wheels and the stuff that makes a car go VVRRROOOOM! Our first subject agreed to pull to a halt just long enough to answer the following questions. So Nawaf, What is the name and make of this beastly ride? Thank you for the complement. It’s an INFINITI G37S. Why did you buy it? I was really attracted to the previous model, the G35. But the interior was not for me, so when I saw the newer version, it was an easy decision. Why this model? Are you addicted to the colour black? I wanted a car that I can modify to my liking, and Japanese sports cars are famous for that. As for the colour, black looks good on almost every car. Also, it was the only colour available...
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Did you plan on making the modifications from the day you bought it? Yes. I actually had a few parts even before I took delivery of the car. In other words- what’s wrong with the stock configurations? Nothing is wrong with the stock configurations, really. But I like adding a personal “touch” to all my cars. The performance I gain is something that comes with the package. Any changes that didn’t work out so well? Lowering the car is the best and worst thing I did, it did help with the handling and overall looks of the car, but it’s a total nightmare over bumps and pot-holes. I went through a set of rims thanks to the streets of Riyadh. What engine work have you had done? Please list Every bolt-on that is available for this car is on there, starting from the crank pulley to the intake and long tube headers, and last but not least a cat-back exhaust. What improvements have you seen in the performance? The parts have certainly added power, the power is most noticeable on the top end. This is where the car shines. Where did you go for the different parts and tuning services? The parts, I order them myself through the mighty internet. But I go to a shop here to install the parts and tune the engine after all the modifications are done.
What advantages or limitations are there for modifying a ride here in Saudi Arabia? (accessibility of parts etc) “Advantage” is a decidedly subjective word. Everyone will see the advantage of anything they want badly. The main disadvantages, in my opinion, are the hot weather, which is the enemy of any sports car, and the poor road condition in some streets, which destroys wheels with low profile tires - also the shortage of performance shops around here. What makes this particular model worth buying for the interested punter out there? The expandability of this car is one of the most exciting feature of this model. What’s your favourite experience with this car? Drifting the car around (Which is of course bad... Don’t do this at home!) is always a great experience. The car handles really well while drifting. And the worst? When I was sandwiched between two cars not so long ago... What exterior/ interior changes have you made so far? Any further modifications need to be made? Any plexi-glass encased miniature water feature a la Pimp My Ride in the works? The wheels are one of the first modifications I made to this car. It really changes the way it looks. The whole exterior is done by Top Secret, the hood and spoiler are made of carbon fiber, and the body kit is one of a kind with the carbon fiber accents all around. The interior trim is replaced with carbon fiber as well. No further aesthetic modifications will be done. I’m focusing on the performance now.
What’s next? You bored with the G37 yet? I got the car nearly two years ago, and I’m not bored at all with the ride. Not sure what’s next, to be honest, but I foresee a twin turbo setup in this car’s future. Dream cars- list A Bugatti Veyron?..... What’s better in your opinion- a hot super car worked to the max with factory spec awesomeness or a hand built, heart-tuned, personality ride with all your own individual mutations and imperfections? A super car, there is no question there. But when modifying a car to your own style and taste and watching the car evolve to a more powerful and beautiful version of what is originally was, that feeling is priceless. I managed to catch a couple of last comments before Nawaf floored it and accelerated off to mach 3 in a cloud of dust and the smell of scorching rubber. With such dedication to self-development and artistic pursuits as his, who could blame him for enjoying the pleasures of driving on sunshine?
FOCUS December 2010 19
Entertainment Top 3 game picks
Top 3 movie picks
The Social Network
Sega- PS3/X360 release
From the creator of Resident Evil comes a third person shooter set in the future where you play as an American agent powered by a super suit fighting a Russian armada of robots in a space station. Why should I buy it? It combines ridiculously awesome Japanese arcade games-style with the third person cover shooters-style of Western games ala Gears of War. You blast through levels with speed boosters gunning and punching your opponents into submission, you are also able to go into slow motion matrix style and take out giant transforming robot bosses. If you like fast paced and unique gaming experiences this one should be right up your alley.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
Let Me In
From a new game company in Spain in cooperation with the makers of Metal Gear comes a gothic adventure in which a holy knight must avenge his murdered wife and save the world by killing the Lords of Shadow and their armies of the night. Why should I buy it? Castlevania is one of the longest running video game franchises. It’s been praised by critics for its gameplay in 2D but has failed in previous 3D attempts until now. Lords of Shadow has a deep versatile combat system, fluid platforming in stunning environments, epic bosses and a game length of 15-20 hours making it the ultimate adventure game. If you were a fan of God of War 3 then I would recommend this to you.
Fallout: New Vegas
Director: Matt Reeves Cast: Chloe Mortez, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Richard Jenkins A young boy who is constantly bullied by his peers befriends his neighbor, a girl who lives in mysterious conditions, who later turns out to be a vampire. A remake of the 2008 cult favorite ‘Let the Right One In’. Why should I watch it? The original is one of the finest vampire films ever crafted, all signs lead to this film being true to the original, if that’s the case then those who have not seen the original are in for a real treat, as for those who have, it might be worth it just to look at a different take on a wonderful story.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Bethesda Softworks- PS3/X360
The newest addition to the Fallout series is set in the post-apocalyptic future in Las Vegas in which an amnesic hero must explore the world while navigating the different factions vying for control. Why should I buy it? Fallout 3 is one of the best games of this generation, it is also a thorough and immersive experience that lasts hundreds of hours. It’s a stunning open world in which you can explore the nuclear wasteland and be free to do what you like. Fallout New Vegas seem to deliver on that same quality and it has an excellent voice cast of Ron Perlman (Hell Boy Series, Son of Anarchy), Mathew Perry (Friends) and Danny Trejo (Machete). If you like sand box games and sci-fi this is the game to get for this month.
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Director: David Fincher Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield Mark Zuckerberg, founder of social networking site Facebook starts his project while still in Harvard University, as the idea succeeds and this project becomes massively popular legal and personal complications soon follow. Why should I watch it? The story of the founders of Facebook may not seem so intriguing at first but once you take a glimpse at the talent behind this project you are bound to change your mind. Perhaps the first film to mark the start of the Oscar season, this dramatic retelling of the story of Facebook founders has been met by extremely positive reviews by critics and viewers alike. Expect one of this year’s finest movie watching experiences.
Director: Edgar Wright Cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead A film that was released last month, but seeing how this month’s list of releases is inadequate, we might as well include it, also this one hasn’t received an international release so odds are you still haven’t seen it. Scott Pilgrim is a lovable loser, he meets a girl he likes, and trouble arises when he finds out that she has 7 evil ex-boyfriends he has to defeat before he can get the girl. Why should I watch it? This one is aimed at a special breed of viewers, if you grew up with video games and you’re into comic books, pop culture and more videogames this is aimed directly at you. If not then there’s a big chance you wouldn’t get it, it wouldn’t hurt to try though. Out of all three on this list, my bet is on this one to be remembered the longest as the motion picture of our generation. -Omar AlOmeir
Madness, War and Ripping Satire A Review of PSU Poetry Club 2009-2010
Another busy year for the Poetry Club saw six sessions take place. In the first semester, associate professor and novelist Dr. Frederick Highland was the guest facilitator for two back-to-back sessions in December. While the first one was a general session on the ins and outs of writing and publishing, the second one was specifically focused on short story writing with the advent of PSU’s Short Story Competition 2010 in mind. Those students who attended were mainly interested in submitting entries for the competition and had the opportunity of availing themselves of Dr. Highland’s insider knowledge of what makes a story work. These two sessions were very lively as literally dozens of questions and issues were raised and answered. Faculty who attended found it equally fascinating getting insights into the practicalities of writing as well as some of the finer subtleties of the craft. In the final session for that semester Dylan Longley lead a session entitled ‘Poetry of the Wild’ themed around the idea that poetry is often generated at the fringes of madness and that many poets have descended into madness or at the very least been considered eccentric. Among the gems he presented were E.E. Cummings’ ‘ygUDuh’, Lewis Carroll’s ‘Jabberwocky’ (“’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves/Did gyre and gimble in the wabe”), Sam Hunt’s ‘Beware the Man’ and Emily Dickinson’s well-anthologised ‘I’m Nobody! Who are You?’ I’m Nobody! Who are you? Are you—Nobody—Too? Then there’s a pair of us! Don’t tell! they’d advertise—you know! How dreary—to be—Somebody! How public—like a Frog— To tell one’s name—the livelong June— To an admiring Bog! The second semester of sessions began with the classic theme of war. Both faculty and students recited poems that spanned the whole history of the English language from the Anglo-Saxon blood-drenched poem ‘The Battle of Brunanburh’, Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Mesopotamia’, Siegfried Sassoon’s ‘Base Details’ to contemporary war poems by James Fenton and Brian Turner. a mongoose pauses under the orange trees, and nothing can stop it now, no matter what blur of motion surrounds him, no matter what voices crackle over the radio in static confusion, because if only for this moment the earth is stilled, and Private Miller has found what low hush there is down in the eucalyptus shade, there by the river.
The students had their share of participation
The somber nature of many of the poems lead to a decidedly somber atmosphere which seemed appropriate to the theme of the session and its purpose – there can be no hiding the horror of war. In the year’s penultimate session Dylan Longley facilitated a session on satirical poetry entitled ‘The Po-E-Tree of Satire’. In an entertaining PowerPoint-directed lecture-style, he gave everyone a brief rundown of the long history of satire, from the Greeks to the present day. For the final session a kind of poetry slam was organized in which any student or faculty member could take the floor (a mic was not necessary) and read aloud the poem of their choice. Most of the chosen poems were written by well-known poets. However, three ‘secret’ poets emerged: Talal al-Tamimi (read his poem ‘Day in the Life of a Banker’ in this issue), Dr. Yahya Al-Serhan and Hassan Taher Daoud. They all read original poems: Talal’s was in English, Dr. Yahya’s was in Arabic, and Hassan’s was in Egyptian colloquial Arabic. In keeping with a Poetry Club tradition, a poem was read out in a language other than English or Arabic. Dr. Won Kim of the PE Department read a poem in Korean by Korean poet Kim Ch’un-su called ‘Flower’. He also provided a translation of this obviously powerful poem. Mention must also go to Dr. Pat Halloran of the CCIS faculty who produced a fascinating PowerPoint storyboard of the poem ‘The Man from Ironbark’ by Banjo Paterson which enthralled the audience. He fetched a wild up-country yell might wake the dead to hear, And though his throat, he knew full well, was cut from ear to ear, He struggled gamely to his feet and faced the murderous foe; “You’ve done for me! You dog, I’m beat! One hit before I go! I only wish I had a knife, you blessed murdering shark! But you’ll remember all your life the man from Ironbark.” Around 30 people attended this final session which was a lively and fitting way to cap the year. It seems like the slam format is a popular one and is likely to be repeated in future semesters. PSU Poetry Club continues to develop organically endeavoring to be a stimulating forum for all those passionate about, or just curious about, poetry. Its fourth year ended very much on a high.
Won reads a poem in Korean
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Is Video Gaming the Newest Sport?
Sudoku, meaning single number, is a Japanese logic based combanitorial number placement puzzle. The objective is to fill the grid with digits so that each column, each row, and each of the 9 subgrids that compose the grid contains all the digits from 1 to 9. It is said that playing Sudoku benefits all players in that it sharpens the intellect and always offers a challenge to the brain. So, dear reader, sharpen your intellect and challenge your brain by doing this sample puzzle:
Competitive gaming is an increasing phenomenon that gets bigger and more popular each year. Worldwide, young people who use video games recreationally are increasingly looking to competitions to prove their expertise. A lot of gamers compete locally and many more like to watch high level competitive international gaming. The new generation of gamers in particular comment that they favor watching high level competitive gaming over sports. In Korea, for example, they treat games as seriously as physical sports. In many Asian countries this phenomenon has become the main source of entertainment and recreation for young people. Meanwhile, as an industry, millions are made by research and development companies who launch and market new games to the public such as “Intel”. Right now in Korea there are three famous gaming channels and many other radio stations dedicated to bringing news of contest results and live footage to interested viewers, while carrying advertising to the target demographic. There are also a lot of people that put video games into the sports category. For example, how many people consider Snooker and darts to be sports? In my opinion, shared competitive activities involving skill and concentration qualify, although the main differences between gaming and football, rugby or tennis is the level of physical and mental endurance. The most important point in gaming is that it doesn’t have a skill cap or an age limit. You can always improve and always be better given enough practice. Agree or disagree, next time you fire up your PC, PS3 or Xbox to go online and annihilate some other Call of Duty battle recruits, think about whether you could take that extra step and dedicate yourself to the chase for glory, fame and money in the competitive digital gladiator’s arena?
-Talal Al Tamimi.
Fatman and Pickle By Omar AlOmeir
p p om om Ch Ch
Later, man! Hey man
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269 FOCUS December 2010 24