Monday: 21.February.2005

Battman Continues to His World Tour - Part IV

RAD note: The following entry is taken from an email I received today from my buddy Battman, who is currently traveling the world.

Subject: White desert, Red Sea

Hi. Been a while since my last update. Much has happened.

I visited Beruit (Lebanon) and greatly enjoyed walking along the "Corniche," which is a seaside sidewalk with both locals and tourists enjoying the relaxed atmosphere, waves crashing on the nearby rocks. Plenty of people-watching there. Across the street are shops containing every imaginable item, but a simple coffee shop was my favorite.

Within a couple of weeks I was in Egypt and learned of the assasination of Rafiq Hariri, Prime Minister of Lebanon, who led his country forward after its civil war in the late 70's. A bomb blew a crater 10 feet deep in the street and sidewalk killing him, 20 others, and wounding over 100. It was the same "Corniche" sidewalk I had enjoyed so recently, and brought a reminder on how things in the world are precarious, in some places more than others.

On a lighter side I am now in Egypt and will leave in a couple days for Kenya (via Cairo).

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Here in Egypt I've enjoyed the Pyramids, the National Museum, the desert, and meeting interesting people. I also honed my skills in avoiding & setting-boundries for "touts" attempting either to sell items at exhorbatnt prices, or persue other annoying habits they gravitate towards. They are disrespectful towards women not from their country/religion, especially women traveling alone. These women have my respect for standing up to the challange.

From Cairo, where the pyramids are, to the White & Black deserts, I met many travelers with fascinating stories. I've included a few pics of:

Fellow travelers in the "White Desert" (40-KB). Mark, Jamie, Aris, and Yung do "balancing acts" on an Inselberg. Inselbergs are odd shaped formations in this desert made from wind carved chalk stone. A chunk of this stone would be the prize of any school teacher with a lot of writing to be done on a blackboard.

Mark, Jamie, Aris, Yung and I sharing a taxi ride in Cairo (50-KB) ... smiling because we made it alive from the desert, and the taxi drive into town.

The "Step Pyramid" in Saqquara (85-KB). The oldest stone pyramid in the world. ~2700 B.C. It is shaped much like the older zigurats (clay-brick step pyramids) found in anceint Mesopotamia. Undoubtably, this is where Egypt imported it's technology from .. but the Egyptians used limestone and granite .. resulting in the last of the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World still surviving.

A few pics of the underwater reef and fish around Dahab, Egypt. Not my photos as my camera is not an underwater model.

I've had two spectacular dives in the Red Sea so far and expect another two before leaving. The coral and reef life is superb! Huge coral heads like pipe organs, fans, and giant brains, some 6 to 8 meters high, with fish of all colors and sizes swimmimg through and among them. This was occasionally punctuated with schools of thousands of fish that swirled around me as I swam seemingly weightlessly through them. Nice stuff. Wish I had an underwater camera with me then. Maybe on one of the upcoming dives.

Let me know how you are doing! I enjoy hearing from each of you I send this update to.

Next update:> The "Turkana Safari" in Kenya. Talk to you then!

Nomad Mike

Wednesday: 16.February.2005

Blogging

Charlie Rose hosted a discussion last night about blogging. It included four popular bloggers: Glenn Reynolds from Instapundit, Ana Marie Cox from Wonkette, Andrew Sullivan & Joe Trippi, the campaign manager for former presidential candidate Howard Dean.

Even tho these blogs are all politically-orientated, their impressions rang true with me. The first point they made was that blogs (via the Internet) allow contact with people much smarter than yourself.

continued

Altho my guides, such as the Ghost guide, and Guide to Ripping & Encoding CD audio, for example, aren't 'blogs' per se, they function in much the same way. Soon as they're posted, the mail starts coming in (from people much smarter than myself) telling me where I made a mistake, or where a clarification is needed.

And I listen to them. And if you've been a reader here for any length of time, you know how many revisions they've gone thru. That's the reason the guides have become so popular. (Not because I am so smart.) It's this bringing-together of people with specialized knowledge that makes the Internet (in general) & blogging (in particular) so powerful.

They also noted how it was bloggers who brought down Dan Rather (Rathergate). Within hours after airing the show about the infamous memo, bloggers (with specialize info) were calling the document a fake. They knew that typewriters back then didn't have a "th" superscript, and could tell the document had been created with Microsoft Word.

The ironic thing is that the mainstream media tends to look down on bloggers, and when the blogosphere started reporting a problem, they tried their best to ignore it. But couldn't.

One quote in particular stuck out, "Once you have an editor, it's no longer a blog." That's the beauty of blogs: you can say whatever you like. It's like thinking out loud.

But if you're wrong more often than right, people will start to ignore you. Which is why I try to limit my comments to things for which I have first-hand experience, and qualify my opinions with a caveat that makes it clear they are simply that: mere opinions.

I think the following fact is why blogs are getting so much attention, and why they're becoming a media force to be reckoned with. It's something my grandfather once told me. He said: No matter how smart you are, there will always be someone smarter. And no matter how much you know, there will always be someone who knows more.

Blogs are tuning the media world upside down because (for the first time in history) they give voice (a far-reaching, real-time voice) to the person who knows more, who woukld otherwise remain obscure. And unlike the mass-media, he has no editor to dilute his ideas.