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Archive for January, 2009

Waltz With Bashir - Watch it online for free!

Although not a supporter of this movie, I decided to share it with the Lebanese people for the only reason that it was banned in Lebanon. Due to copyright laws, I cannot publish it here, so I am linking to other websites which are providing it.

You can now watch it online at The Lebanese Inner Circle blog. The blog also provides information on how to download it.

Waltz With Bashir by Ari Folman

Waltz With Bashir by Ari Folman

Read online the upcoming book of Paulo Coelho: The Winner Stands Alone

As I have previously mentioned the willingness of Paulo Coelho to share his work over the internet, he backs up his openness approach by publishing online the chapters of his upcoming book The Winner Stands Alone. The book is scheduled to be released in Lebanon by March 2009, but Paulo started publishing it for free on the internet!

All the chapters are published online on his blog. This post links to all the chapters published so far, and will link to the new chapters as soon as they are out. So keep checking back for new chapters.

Read Chapter 1.
Read Chapter 2.
Read Chapter 3.
Read Chapter 4.
Read Chapter 5.
Read Chapter 6.
Read Chapter 7.
Read Chapter 8.
Read Chapter 9.
Read Chapter 10.
Read Chapter 11.
Read Chapter 12.

Don’t forget to support the author for his work!

The Winner Stands Alone cover

The Winner Stands Alone cover

How to fold a shirt in less than 3 seconds

While I was working in Shanghai back in 2006, my Chinese coworkers sent me a video on how to fold a shirt in less than three seconds. It’s pretty cool so I thought of sharing it with you here. Once you get used to it you’ll find it very useful especially if you don’t have your mum to fold it for you.

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The Rat Children of Pakistan

Hundreds of young children in Pakistan are being exploited because of an ancient fertility tradition that leaves many children deformed and sold into begging. Children born there with the Microcephaly disorder are known as the ‘rat’ children, and are given to the shrine of Shah Dola in the Punjabi city of Gujrat. They are considered as messengers of God according to a myth that began at the shrine hundreds of years ago.

According to the legend, a woman who’s unable to conceive will become fertile by offering prayers at the shrine, but at a price. The couple can expect their first-born to be microcephalic - a rat child with a tiny head, and it must be handed over to the shrine.

The shrine of Shah Dola stopped accepting the children in 1965 when the government took control of all shrines, but many criminal gangs and beggars keep the myth alive for their own profit. The value of the microcephalics is enormous and they are a lucrative source of income for beggars. It’s believed that healthy babies are then deliberately deformed so that they can then be sold for begging.

Watch the five minute documentary from below:

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Paulo Coelho and the Internet

I am not going to talk about the internet and its possibilities since we are all aware of it by now (at least you who’s reading this blog), but I want to mention specifically the way artists generate their profits directly or indirectly through the internet.

The business model for artists revenues that largely dominates the internet goes by the following: You get what you pay for. If you want a song, you go through iTunes and download the song after paying for it. If you want to read a book, you go to and buy it. We find a lot of free material on the internet, but when it comes to artists work, the freebies somehow disappear.

I, and many others, have always imagined a different approach for artists getting their profits through the internet. The idea goes by the following: You try out the artist’s product, and if you like it you support the artist out of goodwill. One would directly say but noone would pay for something after he gets it for free! I agree, that’s why I think this approach is idealistic, and might not work well in reality.

By coincidence, I have been notified by a friend of mine about Paulo Coelho’s speech at the Frankfurt Book Fair last October. Paulo Coelho is a Brazilian lyricist and novelist, known for his mind awakening novels such as The Alchemist. His unique storyline stems from his deep spirituality; It is said that he achieved self-awareness and a spiritual awakening while walking the 500+ mile Road of Santiago de Compostela in Northwestern Spain.

Surprisingly enough, he shares similar thoughts about the internet as I do. He believes in the internet as a medium for positive growth for artists. In his address to writers, he says “use the web to promote and you will see the results in the physical world”. He has adapted himself by connecting more directly with his readers through his blog that he updates daily, and by uploading once a month during 2008 one of his titles, unabridged, to be read online. His sales have actually grown more after he published his books online. It makes me wonder that probably his readers decided to buy his books after reading them online.

Read the Opening of the Frankfurt Book Fair speech on Paulo Coelho’s Blog.

Paulo Coelho (in the middle) at the Frankfurt Book Fair

Paulo Coelho (in the middle) at the Frankfurt Book Fair

Porn industry seeks federal bailout

My first say was “Are you f*** kidding me?”

Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and Girls Gone Wild CEO Joe Francis have recently asked the congress for a $5 billion bailout for the adult industry. Francis said in a statement that “the US Government should actively support the adult industry’s survival and growth, just as it feels the need to support any other industry cherished by the American people.” They claim people are too depressed to have sex.

As it seems anybody now can ask for a bailout during this hard time. But I think I have a quicker and more viable solution for Larry and the industry: seek volunteers! I am sure thousands of volunteers would immediately offer their help “just for the sake of this industry”. If you were a guy, wouldn’t you want to be part of a Jenna Jameson movie?

Read the story at the CNN Political Ticker Blog.

Larry Flynt asking for a bailout

Larry Flynt asking for a bailout

Discovery Mk VI, the Scuba Diving Rebreather

Back in 2008 when I took my Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Open Water Diver course, none has been mentioned or taught about scuba diving Rebreathers since they weren’t intended for use by recreational divers. They are the state of the art in scuba gear. They let divers stay underwater for hours, silently, like the “fish men” that Jacques Cousteau envisioned at the dawn of the age of underwater. What they do is they recirculate the exhaled gas for reuse and do not discharge it to the atmosphere or water.

Having been reserved for deep diving enthusiasts and military divers in the past, Poseidon Diving Systems of Sweden is bringing this month Rebreathers to the recreational diving community. After it took merely three years to develop, Discovery Mk VI - their latest closed-circuit Rebreather (CCR) - uses advanced electronics and sensor technologies, buckled with a built-in expert-system software to deliver the most enjoyable experiences of the underwater world: safer diving with less risk of decompression sickness (DCS), no bubbles and quieter to allow you to experience the marine life up close and longer dives meaning never having to ascend before your buddies again. Closed-circuit Rebreathers can give you seven times as much dive time as standard scuba equipment, regardless of depth.

The all-around tech guy Karl Shreeves at PADI and a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has tested out the Discovery Mk VI last October, and was very pleased with the test dive. Setup took a mere 10 minutes, compared with an hour for conventional Rebreathers. Karl was left with the impression that this may indeed be the first CCR for casual recreational divers.

While I hope this would be the mainstream development for the recreational scuba diving community - and seems it is in the near future as some label it the “secret revolution” of scuba diving - recreational divers have to wait for the launch of this innovation. No price quote has been made public yet, but with its innovative technologies in mind, I expect it to be quite high. For those who aren’t that patient, they can get their hands on Rebreathers currently found in the market such as the Megalodon, Inspiration Vision, Ouroboros, and Sport Kiss.

Update: the price of the Discovery Mk VI on the Poseidon website is around US$ 5,800 excluding taxes.

Read more on the Discovery Mk VI at the Poseidon Website.
Check out the article by Karl Shreeves at the IEEE Spectrum magazine’s January 2009 issue.

Karl Shreeves test diving the Discovery Mk VI

Karl Shreeves test diving the Discovery Mk VI - IEEE Spectrum

Canadian Winter skincare

Most, if not all Canadians apply moisturizers to their skin in Winter to keep them from drying out. But the Dermatologist Dr. Harvey Lui gives out some tips to efficiently keep out your skin from irritation, drying out, and all the skin related symptoms of Winter.

Some of those tips are: applying the moisturizers right after a hot shower, using mild and basic soaps, avoiding exposure to too much hot water and heat.

More in this video from CTV:

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Simple solution for the Canadian “winter depression”

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as “winter depression” or “winter blues”, affects one in 10 people. I always believed that the brain neurotransmitters responsible for this are affected by weather conditions, but studies suggest that they are affected by latitude.

All Canadians know that Winter is harsh in Canada, but we can now fortunately prevent a Winter depression. Light therapy can be a quick and simple solution. Two thirds of people with the SAD condition, sitting in front of a light device or light box, for thirty minutes every morning really alleviates most of their symptoms. The good thing is that results can come quickly, usually four to seven days.

Watch Dr. Rhonda Low from CTV explaining this solution:

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Mediterranean diet with added handful of nuts

Spanish researchers have found that people who followed a Mediterranean diet and added a few daily handfuls of nuts were 70% more likely to reduce their metabolic disorder. Specifically the participants ate walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds.

Watch Dr. Rhonda Low from CTV talk about it:

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Happiness is contagious

A recent scientific research done by University of California, San Diego and Harvard Medical School found that if you hang out with someone happy, your chance of happiness increases by 15%. But if you have unhappy friends, they decrease your happiness by 7%. So go and spread happiness to your surroundings.

Watch the news clip from the CBS Healthwatch:

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The New York Times 44 places to go in 2009. Beirut is number one!

“With a recent (though perhaps tenuous) détente keeping the violence in check, the capital of Lebanon is poised to reclaim its title as the Paris of the Middle East”. That’s how The New York Times described Beirut which was chosen as number one place to go in 2009.

Its luxurious hotels, exquisite culinary scene, and crazy nightlife made it appear under the Luxury, Foodie, and Party categories.

Check the complete list at The New York Times travel website.

Downtown Beirut

Downtown Beirut - Norbert Schiller for The New York Times

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