Jean Nouvel‘s design for the new National Museum of Qatar utilizes technology to create a thoroughly new institution. Conceived as growing out of the ground, the building uses rings of low-lying, interlocking pavilions, to encircle a large courtyard area and encompass 430,000 square feet of indoor space. Tilting, interpenetrating disks define the pavilions’ floors, walls and roofs, and the exterior in a sand-colored concrete. Nouvel likens it to a “bladelike petal of the desert rose, a mineral formation of crystallized sand found in the briny layer just beneath the desert’s surface.”
Hat tip: Arch Daily
The Mirage of Power, by Mubashir Hasan.
The author was the Finance Minister of Pakistan during the government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the first of the Bhutto dynasty of leaders, and clearly the most honest and productive for the nation. The book starts its tale once Bhutto comes to power in 1971 and end with the overthrow of the government in 1977.
Mubashir Hasan has, up to now, provided an in-depth look into the inner operations of the government and its early decisions, many of which were critical to the running of the state. I am hoping the book turns out to be a hidden road map to the craziness that is Pakistan’s politics, although I have my doubts that any such talisman exists.
For the past year, sporadic articles have appeared in the Arabic press debating the life and policies of Sultan Abdulhamid II, the last absolute monarch of the Ottoman Empire, who ruled from 1876 until forced to abdicate in 1909.
For decades after the collapse of the empire, especially when Arab republics were in their infancy, Abdulhamid II was blamed for much of the difficulties that crippled Arab provinces of the empire, especially Ottoman Syria.
In TV soap operas or novels he was always portrayed as an autocratic despot who managed a wide array of corrupt Arab officials and a massive network of spies who reported directly to him behind the high walls of his Yildiz Palace in Istanbul. But a more balanced appraisal of his actions and legacy is emerging as Arab scholars revisit that period of their modern history.
In recent articles, plenty of light has been shed on the sultan’s refusal to sell land in Palestine to Zionists, prior to World War II. After turning down the offer, Abdulhamid famously refused to meet Mizray Qrasow, the Jewish banker who had offered to pay off the Empire’s debts and build a navy in exchange for the right to buy land in Palestine. Abdulhamid - according to the Arab and Turkish version of events - told one of his aides, “Tell those impolite Jews that I am not going to carry the historical shame of selling holy land to the Jews and betraying the responsibility and trust of my people!”
Read more at Asia Times
Stephen Hawking is right. Make fun of him all you want, but the man is right. If we don’t get off this rock soon, we’ll kill each other or be killed by nature or worse yet, start throwing people off the rock. The world’s population today stands at 6 billion and at this time, we don’t have enough food, water or arable land to support all of us comfortably. By 2050, the earth’s population will hit 9 billion. Add climate change to that factor and an increasing energy demand in developing nations and you have yourself a hotter planet coping to to exist for another century, but barely. Stephen Hawking puts a 200 year time limit on getting off this planet and finding other places to colonize while keeping this planet, but I am much less optimistic. I think that if we don’t get off this rock in the next 100 years, we’ll never get off it. Why you ask? Cuz we’ll be dead. No, nature won’t kill us, although she may make us leaner through profuse sweating, no, we’ll kill ourselves. Nuclear war, acid rain, poisoned water, mutant animals, mass genocide, rampant disease spread, enforced starvation, whatever. One group will kill or watch the other die other somehow for the want of scare resources. And that’ll be it. Then the leftover folk will look at themselves and say: “Fuck it, I like this planet. I ain’t going nowhere. But I do claim Bali as my front porch and ya’ll are trespassing if you come on it.” And thus colonization will begin anew. And perhaps in a few centuries, some guy in a wheelchair who speaks through a electronic speaking machine will predict our doom again; but we won’t listen. We’ll just make fun of him some more because he’s a nerd who sits on a wheelchair and speaks through a machine. History fucking repeats itself. Never forget.
My generation will be the happy recipient of a world so fucked up that to find an equivalent period of fuckery in human history, you would probably have to visit the last ice age or perhaps the joy-filled days of the Spanish Inquisition, or maybe, if you are being truly honest about the state of affairs, you’d even go further back and turn your world history books to yellowed pages which are usually categorized under mythology. Somewhere in between those times, lies a parable to current human history. Or perhaps, this is all new in history, which would not surprise me.
And what a history it is too. We are saddled with, nay, lets not be coy about it, overwhelmingly burdened with a society fragmented at every seam of the fabric: economic, natural, environmental, social, cultural, racial, religious and everything that falls in between, or what’s left of it anyway. But most of all, we are saddled with the knowledge that we have achieved a lot. We laud ourselves for our scientific prowess, our worldly pleasures, our global views and our improved lives. Meanwhile, we choose to ignore that we have hollowed out the earth beneath us, sidelined a larger population into poverty than ever before in the earth’s history, negatively impacted the environment that we depend on and poisoned future generations’ prospects of living a normal life. Yes indeed, it is good to live in the 21st century, surrounded by our iPods, our LED screen TVs, our screen printed t-shirts, our 3000-mile salads, our just barely electric cars, our nascent dreams of overcoming fossil-fuel mania, and our ever brighter hopes of curing cancer and even of landing on Mars. Yes, what a wonderful world of part-achievements and dreams indeed. What a myriad of things and toys to placate ourselves with while the world ostensibly crumbles and burns around us.
But it won’t always be so. One day, I, I of my generation shall curse this state of affairs and everything that is around us today. One day, while running amongst small alleys and hopping rooftops surrounded in an urban high-rise landscape trying to evade robotic police officers looking to arrest me because I have removed the electronic chip in my arm with which they want to monitor me with, I will curse you and perhaps myself too. And perhaps one day soon after, another man, somewhere far away or close to me, will feel the bump on his arm where the electronic chip lies, and he will fiddle around with it till finally he can take it no longer, finally ripping it it out of himself only to realize the full brunt of the lies and the bullshit fed to us on a daily basis, only to realize that truth of what we are and what we have become– destroyers and abusers of the earth and the life that it gives us. That day, that man too, will curse you. This is the burden of my generation; a burden we bear with no knowledge of its true weight. I add to the problem, so does that other man and so do you. But one day we shall look back and curse ourselves for falling prey to want rather than need, for buying into crap rather than substance, for abusing rather than using, for philandering rather than living, for lying rather than loving. And that day, we shall realize how alone we are, our generation, cocooned in its own needs, unable to give, unable to love– oddly existing in history with no comparison in the past, and with no possibility of a future.
I am 28 this year and my generation has a burden to bare.
Note: This piece is part of the “Your Thoughts” challenge. Please navigate the other posts in this series through the tags.
Today in History: On August 3, 1882, Congress passed the first act that restricted immigration specifically designated for a particular group. The Chinese Exclusion Act came after California workers began complaining amount the numerous amounts of immigrants coming from China. Workers would begin to illegally come to the United States until the act was repealed in 1943. Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay was used as a processing and detainment center for Chinese immigrants (pictured above).
The oldest surviving Anglo Star Map, drawn by Simon De Witt in 1780.
a hi-res image can be found at Gizmodo
I had to find a sand artist last year for a project I was working on. During my search, I came across this video of this talented sand artist who tells the story of life in Ukraine after the German invasion during WWII.
In one word, astounding.
100 Years of Propaganda: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
The Black Pharaohs, an ignored chapter of history tells of a time when kings from deep in Africa conquered ancient Egypt.
In the year 730 B.C., a man by the name of Piye decided the only way to save Egypt from itself was to invade it. Things would get bloody before the salvation came.
“Harness the best steeds of your stable,” he ordered his commanders. The magnificent civilization that had built the great pyramids had lost its way, torn apart by petty warlords. For two decades Piye had ruled over his own kingdom in Nubia, a swath of Africa located mostly in present-day Sudan. But he considered himself the true ruler of Egypt as well, the rightful heir to the spiritual traditions practiced by pharaohs such as Ramses II and Thutmose III. Since Piye had probably never actually visited Lower Egypt, some did not take his boast seriously. Now Piye would witness the subjugation of decadent Egypt firsthand—“I shall let Lower Egypt taste the taste of my fingers,” he would later write.
North on the Nile River his soldiers sailed. At Thebes, the capital of Upper Egypt, they disembarked. Believing there was a proper way to wage holy wars, Piye instructed his soldiers to purify themselves before combat by bathing in the Nile, dressing themselves in fine linen, and sprinkling their bodies with water from the temple at Karnak, a site holy to the ram-headed sun god Amun, whom Piye identified as his own personal deity. Piye himself feasted and offered sacrifices to Amun. Thus sanctified, the commander and his men commenced to do battle with every army in their path.
By the end of a yearlong campaign, every leader in Egypt had capitulated—including the powerful delta warlord Tefnakht, who sent a messenger to tell Piye, “Be gracious! I cannot see your face in the days of shame; I cannot stand before your flame, I dread your grandeur.” In exchange for their lives, the vanquished urged Piye to worship at their temples, pocket their finest jewels, and claim their best horses. He obliged them. And then, with his vassals trembling before him, the newly anointed Lord of the Two Lands did something extraordinary: He loaded up his army and his war booty, and sailed southward to his home in Nubia, never to return to Egypt again.