by Gary Farber
One Thousand and One Nights of no Open Threads it has not been, but let one begin!
Tell your stories!
One Thousand and One Nights (Arabic: كتاب ألف ليلة وليلة Kitāb 'alf layla wa-layla; Persian: هزار و یک شب Hezār-o yek šab) is a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. It is often known in English as the Arabian Nights, from the first English language edition (1706), which rendered the title as The Arabian Nights' Entertainment.
The work as we have it was collected over many centuries by various authors, translators and scholars across the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa. The tales themselves trace their roots back to ancient and medieval Arabic, Persian, Indian, Egyptian and Mesopotamian folklore and literature. In particular, many tales were originally folk stories from the Caliphate era, while others, especially the frame story, are most probably drawn from the Pahlavi Persian work Hezār Afsān (Persian: هزار افسان, lit. A Thousand Tales) which in turn relied partly on Indian elements. Though the oldest Arabic manuscript dates from the 14th century, scholarship generally dates the collection's genesis to around the 9th century.
But some of us haz friends who are kitties.
A little-commented upon aspect of the Tunisian tumult: Revolution may end repression of academic freedom in Tunisia
Hamed Ben Dhia, vice-chancellor of Sfax University, recalls life under the ousted dictator:
There is optimism among researchers in Tunisia that the overthrow of former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali's regime will unshackle the country's universities from tight restrictions on academic freedom (see 'Tunisian scientists rejoice at freedom' and 'Vive la révolution'). Nature spoke to Hamed Ben Dhia, vice-chancellor of Sfax University (and considered by colleagues to be relatively independent of the Ben Ali regime) about the changes that academics in Tunisia are hoping for.
What was life like under Ben Ali?
After Ben Ali's bloodless coup d'etat in 1987, I initially subscribed to the change. I even wrote articles at the time saying that a new university era was about to start. The regime initially made concessions on human rights, and brought respected human rights activists into the government. But it was to be a deceit, we were all duped, and things really degenerated around 1992 to 1993. We had pretences of democracy and liberty, but we knew that we were hopeless in terms of human rights such as freedom of speech and of the media. We demanded greater democracy, and we kept telling ourselves that this would gradually come. One got used to the limited liberty.
What was the effect on Tunisia's universities?
I'm proud to say that despite our poor resources, in terms of research and education, Tunisia is among the top five in Africa, and near the top of the Arab world. Much of that is due to an extraordinary education system that was started in the 1960s by Habib Bourguiba, the first president after independence. [...]
Are you optimistic about the future?
I have some lurking pessimism, but I think yes. Now we are in a phase of reconstruction. It will certainly be difficult. But the revolution has unleashed a burst of energy. Everyone had been frustrated — university staff, industrialists, the young, even the state bureaucrats. I'm convinced that together we can create a formidable force. I'm resolutely optimistic that, within two years, we'll take off with renewed vigour.
I have hopes, as well. Hopes that it won't be an illusion.
Take a look at the short video above. See the outer ring of bubbles move up and down as it changes colour? Well, that might be what you think is happening, but take a closer look and you'll see that nothing is actually moving at all.
So what's happening? This visual illusion, created by Dario Deefrag, pulls off the opposite trick to this one, which uses motion to trick our brain into seeing colours differently. But we don't know exactly why this one works.
Are you wise?
We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving. And we all have some power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing.
- Louisa May Alcott
When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.
- Ernest Hemingway
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
- Winston Churchill
Let us listen, criticize, and learn from one another. What do you think?
This thread is now Open.