12 Reasons You Need to be at AUB Outdoors this Weekend

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1- It’s the Biggest Student-Organized Event in the Region

Some universities celebrate for a few hours. We celebrate for a whole weekend. It’s the whole deal, plus a bag of chips. World-class acts, plenty of fun and games, music, art, comedy, food, awesome historic campus and thousands of awesome people. It’s a no-brainer really.

2- All Your Favorite Acts in One Place

Who Killed Bruce Lee, Nemr Abou Nassar, Comedy Night, Epic, Meen, Lazzy Lung, Blimp, Tanjaret Daghet, Xriss, Jammit, Loopstache, Postcards, Double A the Preacherma, Sandmoon, and those are just the ones I actually know in person. There’s over two-dozen epic live acts for you to revel in for two whole days.

3- The Best Outdoors Ever

I know some of you whine and pretend to be too cool for school, but this year’s Outdoors is next level on every level. I know because I’ve seen how hard and professionally the guys and gals have been working on it, and everything from stage set-ups to complete venue transformation is up to par with the best concert venues money can buy. Sound systems, LED screens, a light show and stands that’ll prove to you the AUB Outdoors should be a permanent staple every May for the rest of your life.

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4- It’s for 5,000LBP

I mean, for all the amazing acts you get see, 5000LBP is quite the deal. There’s no golden circle or VVVVVIP tickets for hundreds of dollars, it’s cheaper than a sandwich on Bliss street, and definitely a lot healthier and cleaner. You have literally no excuse to miss this weekend.

5- Everyone’s Welcome

Wanna go on a date? You promised you’d babysit your annoying nephews? Your grandma remembers going to Outdoors when she was still a young lady? You wanna show your folks where you spend their money at? Your friends keep whining they don’t want to watch DVDs in your apartment? Well move your booties and come down to one of the most beautiful and iconic campuses in the world, enjoy good food, great people and awesome music.

6- It Doesn’t Interfere with your (Night/Football) Clubbing Schedule

And here, I’m talking about both nightclubs and football clubs. The shows wrap up around 10:ooPM, so come pre-party with us then hop about to whats-his-names’ birthday at whatever expensive rooftop. If you’re a Champion’s League fan, why go get choked to death in arguileh smoke and pay double the Outdoors ticket for a water bottle and peanuts? Watch it on our massive LED screens after a full 12-hours of fun and music with thousands of people cheering and clapping and laughing!

7- It’s New York-themed

You mad you can’t Instagram photos of yourself in Times Square with the hashtag #throwback? Well, we brought New York right here to your doorstep. The authentic Manhattan toursity experience, mixed with the authentic hipstery flavors of Hipster Central: Williamsburg, Brooklyn, will give you plenty to Instagram (and plenty of A-listers to selfie-bomb too!)

8- You Could Win $1000 and more

Just take a photo of each one of our 7 NYC cabs spray-painted all over Beirut, and get into the draw to win 1000$ and awesome prizes from Converse! I’ll be drawing the name of one of you lucky bastards on stage during Outdoors (so, remember to tip me =P). Too lazy to find all 7? Then upload just one and get a Live Love Beirut bracelet instantly! Don’t forget to tag it with #AUBOutdoorsCab!

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9- Graff!

Apart from the awesome musical and comedic talent, we have your absolute favorite graffiti artists working their magic on an enormous, gigantic wall right next to the stage. Yazan, Ashekman and Chad the Mad will be right there for you to ogle at with mouths wide open at how these awesome dudes can turn a spray paint can into a masterpiece in minutes!

10, 11 and 12- Awesome Hosts, DUH!

Apart from myself, there’s my very, very good (and hilarious!) friend Mazen Abdallah. As if that wasn’t enough for you guys, there’s also the awesome Maya Ayache, and the folks that invade your airwaves when stuck in traffic, Anthony and Frankie!

See Y’all There!

Apart from the above, you’re guaranteed a whole weekend of wholesome fun, in an awesome venue, with tens of thousands of people who just want to have fun. Music, art, comedy, games, food… It’s all there, and I’d better see you all there.

So, please, RSVP here, tell your friends and get ready for an absolutely epic weekend!

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Hbeish Police Too Busy Spying on Potheads to Protect Students Lives

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We all know how amazingly brilliant our corrupt police officers at hunting down weed smokers in an extremely unfair, brutal and relentless manner. Using high-tech CIA shit, they do anything they can to catch a kid with a joint. Why? Because they get paid a “reward” for every night that kid spends at their station. Money given from US efforts to “stem the drug problem at its source” are of course misappropriated by the Lebanese “government” and instead given as a bonus to cops that catch drug abusers. Of course, our cops are too scared to catch the actual dealer or manufacturer, or even distributor. So, all they prey on is the harmless user.

Their preoccupation with that, eating fried chicken and drinking red label (oh, and of course howling and whistling at women) has resulted in the humiliatingly painful fact that in the past couple of weeks, a dozen reports of mugging at gunpoint, attempted mugging and kidnapping have occurred within a stone’s throw of the watchful eyes of our glorious Hbeish police station.

This has made AUB try to step in, since the government is comatose as usual (or will just blame it on Syria or Israel and do nothing), and has set up a shuttle bus system that stays running through the night till 6AM to the Mayfair women dorms off-campus. But that ins’t enough. The fact that an AUB student can’t walk about Bliss and the surrounding streets at night, maybe for a quick bite or even a drink, is unacceptable. We never felt like prisoners on campus, and we shouldn’t start feeling that now.

Of course, AUBites themselves have stepped in to try and help, and set up the “Buddy Up” initiative which already has over 1000 members and seeks to help students find someone to pair up with at night and someone to drop off folks who might live close by and not come by car. It’s sad we’ve had to come to this, but also inspiring to see how AUBites spring into action immediately.

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So, I suggest the cops start working for the salary we pay them, and have a stroll around the area to make sure nothing bad is happening. As a further bonus: more and new girls to ogle at and whistle, and you’ll be closer to the Malek El Tawouk too! See? Everyone wins!

But, that’s unlikely, so ladies, pack up some chemical mace (pepper spray) and maybe a taser and don’t be afraid to use it on scumbags roaming in the region.

AUB Seculars Win Top Two Posts, Shame Other Universities

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“We are proud to represent the AUB Secular Club in the two highest positions of the student governance at AUB. We would like to thank all those who supported us and contributed to this achievement. As Vice President and Treasurer, we are committed to work for the best interest of the students and promote activism on campus. We honor the positions you entrusted us with and will work to make your voice heard.”

Signed,
Jinane and Tala

I was extremely happy this week. As you may know, for the first time ever, I endorsed the AUB Secular Club for the SRC and USFC elections, and I was hoping they’d land Secretary in the USFC at best. But, they scooped up the VP position (the highest student position in AUB, since the President of the USFC is AUB’s President) and Treasurer (that balances the impressive budget of the USFC ~150,000USD/year) and that’s fucking epic!

This couldn’t have come at a better time, and I am proud of AUB and AUBites for utterly putting other “universities” in Lebanon to shame. When baboons in other universities fight, quarrel and act like KG1 students with their blatant lying and stupidity like what happened in Huvelin in the past few days (and to imagine this university student’s actually amounted to something pre-2005) or vote for 14 or 8 mini-cronies en-bloc, with sweeping victories, AUB always proves there is some hope in our generations.

So, congrats ladies. You’ve made a lot of secular folks proud and I’m confident you’ll keep making us all proud.

Testimonies about Marwan Hamzeh From His Friends at AUB

Marwan Hamze

I was deeply disturbed when I heard about the death of 20-year-old Mechanical Engineering student Marwan Hamzeh this morning near Penrose. I tried hard to find someone who knew him, who could tell us what really happened, since Lebanese media outlets were doing the same thing they always to: report inaccurate information just to have something to send as a push notification to your mobile app.

Marwan was pronounced dead at 8:20AM, and here’s what an initial police report said “CCTV footage showed the 20-year-old throwing himself from the sixth floor of the structure.”

It is sad that often times, those last few moments are what everyone remembers, and stories in Lebanon spread like wildfire, and are barely ever true to what actually did happen. But, from what I could piece together, Marwan was an awesome kid. He played football, loved the violin, stargazed, watched Japanese anime and loved video games. In other words, if we had ever met, I’m sure we would have been good friends.

Eventually, I found a few AUBites who wanted to make sure people know what an amazing person Marwan was, and even though writing the paragraphs down was interrupted with bitter tears every few words, the outcome was beautiful, raw and gives you a good idea of what Marwan was really like.

Marwan was nice. like, not the shallow kind of nice, a genuine kind of nice, even if he didn’t really like a person he was decent to him or her and he liked it when things were calm and when he could play the violin and he had these old headphones that kept breaking and he kept wanting to get new ones and he was working really hard this year and he would have graduated with us next year and he liked books that weren’t too dramatic but they were simple and meaningful and he had a really weird sense of humor but not weird in a bad way just in his own way and he could make origami swans and he knew the constellations well enough and he had a simple way of looking at life

A close friend of Marwan who preferred to stay anonymous

He was very nice and he always helped people in dorms because he was the monitor there, he used to always give me the laundry keys without giving me any hassle and he was never mean to anyone. Everyone loved him at dorms. Im sure he will be missed tremendously in dorms and all over aub

A fellow dorm resident, who also preferred to stay anonymous

please dont let anyone say anything mean about him
bro he was a great guy
he was just sad
he seemed fine though
i have no clue
my friend saw him last night
he seemed completely fine
i guess he didnt tell anyone
but bro he really is a good guy

A friend of Marwan who was distraught about the unpleasant rumors spreading on campus

EDIT: more friends have come forward:

bro i went to the place, i was told about the exact place where he fell ( I asked a student that was living on the 6th floor, a security officer and the guy that takes care of the sanitation) they all showed me the exact place. his friend told me that he received a message from him 30 mins before he fell off, he wanted to go to the Hostler Center for a morning swim. It was like 5:30 am apparently. As i said his laptop was still on the hall on the 6th floor and was taken by the Police, as the security guard told me. I would suggest that he was sitting on the “baranda” in the dorms hall, lost balance and fell off. But the investigation will tell what really happened and any scenario is possible. I knew him for more than 5 years and went to his home in Kfarroummen several times, he is an intelligent guy, doing well in school, very friendly, was in the American football varsity team, recently created a music band with his friends (i remember how he wanted to name it “Na3na3″ but ended up been called something else), likedvideogames, books, anime and japanese culture in general, etc etc.. although he was kind of an introvert but you know better that a lot of people are introverts and that’s very normal. last time i saw him was 1 week ago also next to Hostler center, and he seemed very normal and quite happy to me. Anw i would say that the CCTV would prove everything, and i hope we can all see it, friends and students.

Ramy Fakih, long time friend of Marwan

I met Marwan in the Spring of 2013 when I was studying abroad at AUB. I first met him in the office in Penrose Hall during his shift as a hall moniter. He and I began to talk and before I knew it, an hour had past.
I would see Marwan around Penrose often and we both played American football together. I remember one time he came to work out with me at the gym and I put him through such a hellish routine that he limped for about a week afterwards. Even now that memory makes me laugh.
The thing that struck me the most about Marwan was his generous spirit. If you didn’t know Marwan well you might think he was quiet and withdrawn. This could not be further from the truth. He was an incredibly warm and thoughtful young man and I feel very fortunate to have known him. He was one of those people that I felt i could contact years from now when i return to lebanon and he would welcome me. In fact, he told me this summer that if I come back to Lebanom that there will always be a place for me there. It saddens me deeply that Marwan could not see how absolutely wonderful he was and what a gift he was to his friends and family. He made an impression on me and I will never forget him. Rest in peace my friend.

Ben, Marwan’s friend from abroad

I was a close friend’s of Marwan, too. Marwan was such an awesome guy. When Daily Star or Naharnet say he was being treated for a psychological disorder, please don’t ever get the impression that he was anything but an amazing friend and someone you really had fun hanging out with.

We went together on a Euro-trip a year and a half ago organized by a club at AUB.
We stuck together literally throughout the whole trip and became awesome beer buddies. We went to a pub in Stuttgart called The Auld Rogue with a couple of more friends. It was the first time I tasted Guinness (now by far my favorite beer), and we watched the Super Bowl there. I always wanted to tell him we should go there again (In fact, I may have told him that. I can’t remember exactly) some time in the future because it was such an unbelievably awesome time…

Another time we went to a nightclub, and it was a bit awkward since I’m a rocker, and I couldn’t dance to save my life. The place was creepy too, to be honest. Felt like somebody turned their garage into a ‘club. Anyways, he tried to hook me up with a girl there the way Barney hooks Ted up in HIMYM. Unlike the show, though, it didn’t work, haha.

We had tons of other adventures in Europe, many times just the two of us plunging into unknown territory, walking in totally random directions, and trying to remember the way back to the hotel. I was bad with directions though, and he did most of the remembering. One time I felt pretty sure we got lost, but he saved our butts. And there’s that time in Amsterdam when we rented bikes and biked in the city, but then we lost each other, haha. Good times :’( …

Those memories are probably the best I’ve ever had. I still frequently find myself recalling them, even after a whole year and a half. And I’m not saying that because he died. I really mean it.

I saw him online on Facebook today at 5 AM, shortly before he did what he chose to do. Wish I said something to him. Maybe he would’ve disclosed something. But then again, I never, ever could’ve guessed, not in a million years, that Marwan would commit suicide. It’s just not for him. I’m still kinda in denial about what happened.

I just wish I had a chance to thank him for all the good times in Europe and in college. He went away too early. Oh well.. Cheers buddy, you won’t be forgotten, at least not by me

Another anonymous friend of Marwan’s

Hey gino, concerning marwan, we started actually together the free software club (http://aub-fsc.org). He really was a great person, not only was he an honour list student but he had great passion for computers and taught me many things related to Linux. If you wish to add this info to your blog you are welcomed to, but please keep me anonymous and try to refer to him as a cabinet member and one of the founders of our club. He gave a workshop under the club’s name last summer and he was supposed to give one this Friday, alas we had to postpone the workshop.

AUB Free Software Club member

I guess we can safely say Marwan was a great person, who was unhappy. Many times, the most depressed among us hide it the best, and when something tragic like this happens, we’re all caught off-guard. Mental health is really important, and mood and personality disorders are real things with real impacts on our lives and the lives of those around us. If you’re sad, or feel someone you know is sad, talk to them. Reach out to them, don’t poke fun or bully them for being “mdapras/mdapraseh” and seek someone’s help. The mental health department at AUBMC has some great people, and so does Balamand’s and USJ’s and many other hospitals and universities in Lebanon. Seeking help is not wrong and nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to mental wellbeing. No one should suffer the same fate as Marwan. May the pleasant memories of him with his friends last.
Please note, we are not 100% sure what happened and can’t rule this out as a suicide. Marwan might’ve simply fallen, or it could have been a freak accident, or worse. Before the official investigation is over, we can’t say anything for sure. But, that doesn’t change the fact that anyone who’s unhappy, should try and seek help.

AUB Secular Club: AUB Elections in 3 Minutes

The beauty about AUB elections can be summed up with several things that staunchly differentiate it from other universities in Lebanon:

  1. AUB students never fight each other, when in other campuses, baby political baboons bloody each other every year to compare which warlord/religious leader “2a2wa min bayyak”
  2. Not everyone is a sheep that votes full list. AUB elections are never landslides, which is why OTV/Manar say 8 March won, and Future/MTV say 14 March won, every year. It’s mainly because the friend factor plays into the politics too, so, even if you’re LF, if your friend is running for FPM, you’d probably replace one from your list with her.
  3. Independents are often king makers. As you saw from the video, the USFC’s is where the real executive power is that, and usually, the political sheep never get enough to decide the outcome of the 13 members and VP, and it’s the independent candidates (mainly the Secular Club) that has the final say and often gets a good bargain (treasurer or another high executive post)

That is why, this year, with whatever weight I still carry at AUB, I am endorsing the Secular Club. We may not have been the perfect partners in my AUB days, and we might differ on many ideological issues, but, from where I stand, they’re the ones that deserve to win. Plus once, I had the pleasure of opening for Mazen Abdallah in what still is one of the most brilliant lectures I’ve ever been part of: stand-up comedy that explains everything perfectly.

They work hard (unlike political sides which just keep nagging at you to vote for them), have a platform, do not follow orders that fly from over AUB’s walls, put AUB first, have an awesome campaign running and they’re secular. What more could you ask for?

So, again, Gino’s Blog officially endorses the AUB Secular Club for this year’s SRC and USFC elections for the 2013 AUB elections.

(Oh, and the awesome video and visuals were done by my dearest friend Joanna Zeenny, which I found out after publishing this post =D)

A Reply to Outlook’s Silly, Homophobic Article

I’m a person who believes in humans. As a result, I believe in virtually unlimited personal freedoms, so long you don’t actually harm someone else. I can partly credit my alma mater for that, but I was shocked to read the article I’ve posted below in the AUB newspaper, Outlook. The sheer ignorance, arrogance and homophobia makes me embarrassed to say I probably shared a few classrooms with the writer. Granted anyone can post a letter to the editor, I’ll choose to address the writer himself and anyone who thinks like him.

The other day, I saw a couple holding ands along Hamra Street. Normally I would never look twice, but something was not right. They both had short hair, facial hair, and rough voices. The sight was disturbing. Call me sexist, call me whatever you like, I couldn’t get that image out of my head for the whole day. I couldn’t believe what I saw, I know that Lebanon aims to be an ideal ‘secular’ country, but if this is what ‘secular’ is then maybe it’s not such a good idea.

Thank you kind sir, for admitting that you are against a fair and free society where old men in robes don’t have a say in what you do and what you have the right to do. Secular does not mean Lebanon becomes homosexual, secular means everyone is the same under law. It means no one can rape their wives because the sheikh said it’s ok. It means that people like you cannot have a say in the lives of others because it “insults” your own religion. I took the liberty of wikipedia-ing “secularity” for you, I hope you know how to read this.

Homosexuality has always been a controversial subject in the world, not just Lebanon. In the United States some states have legalized sexual marriage while others have outlawed the act. Almost every holy religion has condemned it. Islam condemns it to a point where the culprits are to be stoned to death. The bible States “if a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13). Judaism also condemns those who commit such an ‘abomination’.

OH! “Holy” religions condem them?! (so, the other religions aren’t holy?). Very persuasive point, after all, all of us adhere completely to scripture written centuries ago by illiterate goat herders. Also, as a former Christian, I’m pretty sure Leviticus is not a Christian text, it’s in the Old Testament, which means Jewish, Thanks though for further elaborating your ignorance and inability to use even Google or Wikipedia (much less a proper paper). Might I also add some protestant churches not only accept homosexuality, but ordain priests who are openly gay. So, even though I don’t care much for what religion says, in itself, the religious argument fails miserably.

Even if I were to put religions aside, our cultures, logic, morals, and humanity have and hopefully always will condemn such acts whether in public or in private. Some have previously asked the question: ‘Why would God create people like that if he didn’t want us to do it?’ People are not born homosexual, usually one changes as he is growing from the infant stage up until puberty, some even later than that. This is, according to psychologists, due to certain factors during infancy and homosexuality can be treated in various ways.

Really? I don’t condemn them. Does that mean I’m immoral? And I love how the thousands of studies that point to the biological roots of homosexuality, such as its existence in virtually all known sexual animals, was completely disregarded by the writer, who cited “psychologists” as a whole pointing out something so vague that’d fit with the weak argument. I also love how it’s a given that “God created us”, but then he supposedly cites scientists, who usually work on real stuff and studies, not what God says.

I have seen the protests all over the world on the news, and it wasn’t something I saw to be logical, or human for that matter. I mean, let’s stop for a minute and say that it was okay to be gay all over the world and have a chain around a man’s neck and have him dragged around. How would that serve mankind any good? It obviously wouldn’t. The pair (if not more) would never have offspring, the rate of STDs would skyrocket, and any morality that society still had would disappear amongst a myriad other plights. In that logic, if homosexuality is legalized world-wide, ten let’s legalize marijuana as well. If homosexual’s excuse is ‘it’s what makes us happy’ then what will stop others from taking the same stand?

Have you seen the gay parades? They’re happy and jolly. Have you seen the anti-gay parades? They’re savage and angry and use slogans like “God hates fags” and “kill the fags”. I’d choose the gay parade any day over religious zealots who never got a proper education and think we walked with dinosaurs and that women are inferior to men.

OR

So, gays aren’t human? And if a guy sticks his penis into another anus, we lose morality? I don’t know about you, but what business gay people do, won’t make me beat up children or spit on beggars, I’m pretty sure we’d all still be really moral, no matter where a penis is inserted. And plenty of civilized countries legalize marijuana, and their results are more impressive than the ones that criminalize it, so I doubt anyone will see this as one of a “myriad of plights” (nice use of thesaurus.com btw). And if it makes them happy, and other people do the same, how is that a problem? Maybe you should spend less time thinking about where gay man put their penises, unless you’re gay too of course

The point is, religion has done well in keeping society working well and efficiently in a respectable manner. God has set the rules for us to abide by, not to make life hard on us, but to make it better and easier.

God is your own belief. Don’t shove it down the throat of others. From where I stand, religion has done plenty to blow up cars and people, murder “witches”, start wars, justify rape and make people act like brutish savages with no brains. I’ve never seen a dog blow itself up, or burn a woman for learning how to read, or stoning a man  for practicing a religion different that the given majority’s. Also, the same God you’re talking about asks for foreskins from battles, allows pedophilia and necrophilia, and you expect me to take that as a standard for morality?

‘homosexuality in Russia is a crime and the punishment is seven years in prison, locked up with other men. There is a three year waiting list’ Yakov Smirnoff.

The lust, the hunger, the addiction. Men hungering for gay pleasure are willing to withstand the freezing environment of a metal cell in Russia just to pleas e their insides. Is this what the human race has become?

Yes, the country where the current president got 140% of the votes, is definitely an example we should follow. But, ironically, it is, given how Russia has abolished the law you’re so proud of

My two cents

This article was nauseating. Especially since I used to be part of Outlook. It is a disrespectful, naive and bigoted article which I believe deserves no place in a reputable publication. But, given my strong belief in freedom of speech, I’ll acknowledge the right he had to say whatever he wants. However, I like many, many others reserve the right to ridicule him accordingly.

Who the hell are you to judge what other people want and like to do? What gives you the right to impose your beliefs on others? What makes you think you can decide what morality means? How can you quote a book that sanctifies marital rape and consider it moral, books which contain references to necrophilia and pedophilia?

My advice to you, is go focus on “benefiting society” as you so dearly care about and let other people be. Your ignorance, though scary, is unfortunately a reality we cannot escape in a country where religious sects run our schools. As a heterosexual man, I have no problem with gays or lesbians doing whatever the hell they want if they enjoy it. If you’re a heterosexual man too and comfortable with your sexuality, I see no reason why it should offend you, or occupy so much of your attention. This post was just a reply, a far more detailed, emotion-free, properly cited and more developed article will be published here next week with a little help from a friend of mine in Harvard. Till then, why not check out the conversation happening on my Facebook timeline, or better yet, starting another one here.

Samy Gemayel Visits AUB


I like Samy. He came to give a lecture two years ago, which I attended out of curiosity. Back at the time, I did not know who he really was other than that he is a Gemayel and a Phalangist (Kataeb) with a somewhat weird voice. After that lecture though, I discovered he was the only person in the Gemayel family who actually inherited Bashir’s charisma and eloquence.

What he hasn’t inherited though, is the level of idealism, which I find especially appealing about him. His pragmatic approach to internal politics are ballsy to say the least, but nevertheless well-researched and somewhat viable in a sea of invalid arguments and ideologies.

So, it was only natural that on his second visit, I attend his lecture, and this time jot down a few notes. Here are some of the points that I found interesting and my thoughts added at the end.

The Lebanese Political System is Broken

Samy touched upon an important fact we often overlook or dismiss as just a history class lesson. Our constitution and political system is inspired by our then-chaperones: The French. Lebanon as we know it today was drawn up and built up during the French Mandate that ended in 1943. This, he thinks and I agree, was the first mistake.

That’s because the French and Lebanese differ markedly on many levels. For one, the French all share the same identity, values, history and “pride” in their nation. The Lebanese are a mixture of persecuted minorities who came to Lebanon to seek refuge at different times in history and under very different circumstances. That’s why, the histories, loyalties, customs, norms, beliefs and even languages of the inhabitants of Lebanon are not the same. Thus, creating a France-style central government was a time-bomb waiting to explode, and it has, at least once already.

One government for 18 different peoples means one of them will control that government and the rest will either be second-class citizens, or do everything to seize that power. It’s a well-known fact the Christians, especially the Maronites, held much of the strings pre-1975. This prepared the stage for the infamous Lebanese Civil War that saw the Christian role diminish and virtually vanish, with ceremonial positions in governments and unfair representation in elected offices.

It’s indisputable that post-1990 period, the Sunnis rose to power with the blessing and backing of the Syrian Occupation. Here, Christians were virtually obliterated from all forms of government with their de-facto leaders in exile, in prison or in coffins. When things got sour and Syria left, that combined with the July 2006 War and the May 7 clashes and eventually the toppling of Sunni Saad El Hariri’s national unity government put the Shiite Hezbollah on top.

The point is, our political system is broken and we are all in a constant struggle to sieze power of the central government. This is the root of many of our problems, such as our dependence (and in some cases complete obedience) on international and regional powers .

Solution 1: A Fully Secular State is Impossible at the Moment

To this, Samy said it would be his ideal choice, but went on to say that at the moment it was unthinkable. His views are similar to mine, and talking of a secular political system is stupid when everything else, including laws, education and overall mentalities are still so heavily reliant on old men in robes. Samy said that for a real secular state, we need to abolish religious schools and political parties. This makes complete sense and we agree on this. I sought a more far-fetched solution though, read about it here.

Solution 2: A De-Centralized Government

This sounds like a dolled-up version of the taboo Kataeb catchphrase of “Federalism.” I for one, believe this is the ideal solution. Let the ideologues bicker over petty things like Arabism and Western Influence as long as they want, but let things which actually matter to me, like water, electricity , asphalt and telecom get done. I couldn’t care less about martyrdom and other big titles which mean nothing. I care about my bills, traffic and being able to live a decent life which I can enjoy.

My stances are of course more extreme than Samy’s because I’m not running for the elections in 2013. Anyway, what Samy was focusing on is that the government is too far away from its people and that the only way you can get anything done is through “wasta” which means “knowing someone/bribing someone” to get what is actually your right. With a local government, you can easily get to them without needing to kiss a thousand asses and lick a hundred boots. Why? Because if they screw up, you’ll screw them over in the ballot four years later.

What actually happens now is we get screwed over, but come election season, the incompetent and corrupt politicians hand out special services or bribes to voters, which get amnesia and go vote for them again like sheep. A de-centralized government is the solution to that dilemma, and that is the solution Samy has subscribed to as a pragmatic, but conservative politician.

My Two Cents

Samy failed at one integral thing: the mechanism. It would be fine and dandy to create a de-centralized government. But, how? The people that benefit from the current system are the people with the authority and power to change the system. So why would they change it? By revolting you say? The problem is we don’t have a Muammar or a Hosny, we have a Hariri, Nasrallah, Junblatt, Geagea, Gemayel, Aoun, etc. and “toppling” one will inevitably lead to a clash with one of the Lebanese factions.

If I were Samy, I’d keep at it. I’m proud to have MPs which actually do their work, lobby for it and believe in it pragmatically. If Samy had his own party, I’d consider joining it. I guess lots of other people feel the same way I do. The Kataeb party and the Gemayel family have too much baggage with them, and not everyone is prepared to subscribe to that. One example is my dislike of his father, Amine, who is a failed statesman in my opinion, and yet remains in the top post in the phalange party based on primitive hereditary political transitions.

Notable Moments

Samy admitted his party might’ve done mistakes in the past. Including a few mistakes and misjudgments that might’ve help lead to the 1975 war.

Another was Samy’s witty and frank response to Hezbollah supporters. He admitted he knew “what he was getting into” when he came to AUB jokingly admitting he was expecting students like Hezbollah supporters to confront him. One question raised by an HA supporter was why would they give up their arms and fate to a corrupt government, to which Samy promptly responded, why would everyone else submit to the will of the Resistance? Which I completely agree with. No one side should be able decide the fate of a nation, no matter how “noble” and “divine” they might be.

Samy’s suggestion that the Resistance become a part of the Lebanese Armed Forces versus being dismantled, is a tricky one, but more feasible. Maybe the politicians won’t go into the details of the standard operating procedures of HA, but at least the decision of war and peace can be a national decisions, not a unilateral one.

Another question was “what was the army doing to stop the aerial incursions of the Israeli Defense Forces?” Samy answered blazingly fast “what was HA doing?” to which the HA supporter said “if we do something, you’re unhappy, if we don’t you’re unhappy” to which Samy’s replied the diplomatic, but farfetched suggestion of “strengthening the Lebanese Army”

A good point was also “constructive neutrality” which Samy believes Mikati and Sleiman are exercising at the moment when it comes to the Syrian situation. Lebanon’s abstaining in the UNSCR sanctions vote and its refusal to send observers with the Arab League, were indeed the smart option because it is an issue the Lebanese are split about. This way, no one is considered oppressed or controlled. On matters of agreement though, like Israle being the enemy, there would not be neutrality though Samy said, which means Lebanon is “constructively neutral” in that when it needs to and everyone is ok with it, we take a decision. When we’re not, we abstain. Problem solved. Hello Switzerland of the Middle-East.

I can go on and on, but this post is already over 1500 words and I’m sure the comments will be just as wordy!

My Last Comments

Please Mr Samy, open up your own party and begin rallying support from youth such as myself. We’re gonna be voting next time around!

Everyone else, it’s time we start facing facts… There’s something wrong, and we need a solution which is radical, but rational, even if it means betraying some “taboos” and giving up on your personal ideologies. Things change with time and circumstances, that’s natural selection’s law. Not changing in a changing world means failure. 2013, here we come (unless the world ends in 2012)

6 Reasons Why You Should Register for the Social Media Changing Lives Conference (hint: it’s free and I’m in it)

If you don’t have the time to read, click play and let Gavin Ford explain it to you in 34 seconds. If you’re THAT bored at work or university, take a moment to consider why this conference is a good idea.

1- It’s Free

You just have to register here to guarantee your place

2- It’s About Social Media

Apart from our lives becoming largely digital and cyberspace via Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and all the other social networks we subscribe to, social media is the new “it” thing in marketing and business, where every single establishment todays needs to be present, and present effectively on social networks. In other words, you will definitely come across something you’ll say “ooooh” or “ahaaa” to whether its about your personal or professional life.

3- Awesome and Diverse Speakers and Panelists

It includes everyone from the British Ambassador (and good tweep) Tom Fletcher, to Lebanon’s and the region’s most influential online experts, activists and entrepreneurs. It also includes me on a panel, so that’s reason enough! But, if you insist, here’s the speakers’ list.

4- Includes Fabulous Entertainment

Conferences can get boring, and the talking might get sometimes too much to sit through. But, there’s a reward at the end with the fabulous Poly, EpiSode and Anthony Touma performing live at the Issam Fares Institute.

5- Justin Beiber and Rebecca Black Bashing Very Likely

As you can see from these posters, JB and Black may be two examples of where SM went wrong. That’s your chance to bash the beliebers in a room full of hundreds of people like you.

6- Dunkin Donuts and Crepaway Catering = Free Food

I know the economy’s bad and stuff, and I’m sure some of you might wanna stuff some donuts and munchkins and sandwiches in between talks. Caterers at conferences are often some obscure restaurant with stuff you’re not used to. This time, the food’s something I think we all like.

Conclusion

I highly recommend you register ASAP and show up on December the 16th at noon. The guys at the Online Collaborative have done a fantastic job in preparing this marathon social media day and I am certain it will not disappoint. I wish the AUBOC the best of luck, and that I miss them, and that I’ll see you all on Friday December the 16th!

MUST WATCH – Arne Dietrich’s TEDxBeirut Talk

Professor Arne Dietrich is the foremost reason I want to dedicate my life to Neuroscience. I have taken almost every course he gives at the American University of Beirut and he has been the source of inspiration and insight for many of my Biology and Neuroscience posts on this blog.

I took Cognitive Neuroscience with Arne when my questions about our existence and life’s purpose and the presence of a higher being where at their peak. You could say I was at the cliff’s edge, but Arne’s deep insight on the brain based on empirical evidence combined with his eloquent and somewhat irreverent method of delivering it pushed me way over that cliff.

Life made sense, became understandable, and when it didn’t, you at least had some sense on how you’re going to make it understandable with time and research. Mysticism and faith might seem fascinating, but what’s truly magical is how the brain develops and functions, how nature is so much more beautiful, interesting and unbelievable than putting your paws up and worshiping some divine being.

This 17-minute talk does not do justice to the wealth of knowledge and experience this man has. It does coax you though into rethinking several concepts you hold true about the brain, such as the stupid “we use 10% of our brain” myth and what consciousness and altered states of consciousness really are. If you broaden your horizons a bit more, you might also agree that the gods you believe in are, as Arne puts it, “pixies”

The reactions from the crowd says it all, and Arne’s statements got standing ovations and cheers by die-hard subscribers to the theories he supports (such as myself, who went straight from the airport to TEDxBeirut, ran down to the stage to say hello to Arne before even saying hello to my beloved Lori =P)

So, I really, really, really encourage you to watch the video above, and be sure I will be expanding on the topics Arne skimmed through in those 15 or so minutes.