Photography: The “Dignity” Protest #1. Kuwait – October 2012

Last October 2012, I attended the first “Dignity” protest, which was the first of a series of 7 protests in Kuwait during a period of sustained political unrest. For me, it was an opportunity to express my thoughts and be part of change and activism and most of all, documenting the event. My experience of the first protest was surreal. I saw the diversity of my fellow citizens, from different clans and varying sects of society and witnessed the blind obedience of the special forces to a dictatorial authority.  Each individual was there to express himself or herself in a collective way, with the majority of attendees protesting against the Amir’s involvement in the parliament and certain amendments made. For others, they wanted to raise awareness about the prisoners in Guantanamo, as for myself, I wanted to push the ideas of separation of state and religion, the introduction of science and technology and freedom of speech (censorship). I believe these are the main issues that need to be brought to the forefront, not just to catch up with the rest of the world, but to truly take Kuwait of 2013 out of the dark ages. I got positive and negative feedback, which was expected, but most of all I felt the sense of freedom to speak my mind publicly, and oh how it felt so good. Some people argue that “Now is not the right time to talk about secularism and censorship, they have bad connotations, people are not ready”. I disagree with them, because there will never be a perfect time to speak. The protests were the perfect ground to raise awareness and interact with people of diverse backgrounds. I believe peaceful protests are the best way to communicate a mass idea. Now, the present, is the only now we have.

“You only live once.”

I also wrote about my experience and shared some of my photos on Egyptindependent.com

first-dignitiy-protest-kuwait-october-2012-special-forces

Articles: The Science of Sleep – You Snooze You Lose?

Read on

Music: Tori Amos – Crucify

Video: The Story of Inheritance – Dara O Briain’s Science Club – BBC Two

This is a fun and short video explaining the story of genetics. I especially recommend this video for kids who ask the awkward question ” Mammy how do we make babies?”

Music: Symphony of Science – Secret of the Stars

Video: Richard Feynman – Take the world from another point of view (1/4)

Feynman describes his philosophy and definition of scientific thinking.  He encourages us to question, doubt and look at things from a different point view. “There is no harm in doubt and skepticism, for it is through these that new discoveries are made.”

Great man, great mind.

Travel: Road Trip. USA National Parks. Summer 2012

According to Wikipedia, the United States of America has 59 national parks. In June of 2012, we decided to drive to as many as we can out West starting from Colorado. After a few months of planning, we rented a car from Denver and completed a full loop back after a month on the road. These are the parks we stopped by:

  1. Great Sand Dunes, Colorado
  2. Mesa Verde, Colorado
  3. Bryce Canyon, Utah
  4. Canyonlands a.k.a. Needles, Utah
  5. Arches, Utah
  6. Zion, Utah
  7. Grand Canyon, Arizona
  8. Sequoia, California
  9. Yosemite, California
  10. Grand Teton, Wyoming
  11. Yellowstone, Wyoming,Montana and Idaho

From all the above, I think Utah has the best national parks, from Zion to the Arches to the Needles at Canyonlands. They all had the best trails for hiking and beautiful nature that changed dramatically from park to park. Once there, we hiked between 4-8 hours a day depending on the trails. We got in some climbing in the Grand Tetons and did some longer repelling in the Canyonlands. Single track biking on limestone and we also went on a hot air balloon ride, which to my surprise, was anticlimactic but nevertheless worth trying, and luckily the views in Jackson were unparalleled. One particular hike worth mentioning was The Narrows in Zion, a river hike where at times we were up to our stomachs in water, altogether spending 10 mesmerizing hours in the canyon, I truly recommend it.  Some drives took 12 hours like the one from Yosemite to the Salt lakes in Utah, but having met so many people along the way, enjoyed good food and with the music on the road, this was an after thought. Each State has its uniqueness and geography, and I’m sure that in the fall or spring, these parks would be altogether different.  This is just an excuse to do it all again.  It was really difficult to select from almost 1000 pictures of 11 national parks and more than three weeks of being on the road to 44 photos, so enjoy!

Road-trip-national-parks-USA-Grand-tetons-mountain-hot-air-balloon-Wyoming-summer-2013

The Billboard: Empathy

religion-empathy-morals

Music: Joan As Police Woman – Start of My Heart

Photography: Stargazing. Kuwait 2013

We live in a wonderful universe made up of billions of stars and planets. The best way to see them is by being away from the city lights and pollution. It is hard to find a clear spot in the desert, especially during the camping season, but if you drive far enough into the Saudi border you can get clearer skies. This weekend I went to catch a glimpse of the Milky Way in the sky. Thanks to q8geek for organizing a trip like this, I truly recommend it. These are some of the photos I captured.

Star-gazing-Kuwait-Desert-Salmi-trail-March-2013

Video: Sex, Death and The Meaning of Life (Arabic Subtitled)

On a Saturday morning, get a cup of coffee, free your schedule, get comfortable and watch this three episode documentary about the basic questions we ask about life. Questioning is healthy, and better yet if it becomes a healthy habit. What a feeling it is when we explore a new country, when presented with evidence for a new theory, when testing a new product, or when discussing politics; how amplified it can be by questioning. We go through this everyday, but do we really afford the necessary time to analyze and contemplate our experiences? You read, watch, research and discuss all kinds of ideas and you go through a whole process of doubt, looking for better understanding on topics and seeking assurances for them against older beliefs. Certain conclusions may not immediately be reached, and answers hard to come by, but once that unasked question is asked, doors open in this fascinating process from not knowing to knowing, or knowing but now even better. Some call it the Socratic method, some critical thinking or the scientific method. All I know is that it changes us and gives us an incentive to explore and adapt to change, it moves us away from being static in thought and action. The ability to think using our neurons in our brain is something we have to cherish, and it all starts with questions.

Articles: What is consciousness? A scientist’s perspective

Read on

Research: 23andme.com

The human genome has been mapped and it contains billions of codes about our origins, ancestry, and the human body. Simply by providing a saliva sample, completing surveys, and sending it all by mail, 23 and me will provide all the above information after processing your DNA.
23andme-DNA-test
23andme

Video: Sam Harris on “Free Will”

“The illusion of free will is as certain as a fact as the truth of evolution, in my mind” Sam Harris discuss the sensitive subject of free will. This is a visual explanatory of his book

Video: Ai Weiwei – Never Sorry

Ai Weiwei is a chinese artist and activist. A very inspirational character with a sense of humor. It takes courage and honesty to be like him.

Articles: How Genes Influence Your Investment Style

Read on

The Billboard: Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth-Cady-Stanton

Travel: Zambia. 2010

You can have a very relaxing holiday in Livingstone, Zambia, enjoy the wild life and the beautiful scenery. Or better yet, you can pump some adrenaline into your veins by bungee jumping from a bridge overlooking the Zambezi river, 111 meters high and located between two countries Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Zambia-victoria-falls-bridge-zambezi-river-livingstone-2010

Video: Iceland Airwaves Documentary

Articles: Top 5 Myths of Self-Help

Read on