Posts Tagged ‘government’

Putting Syria on the Map

11 Comments »

I have been doing some intensive cartography lately. Yes, I’m literally putting Syria on the map.

Going to college in Damascus was a frustrating experience for quite a long time. I did not know the city nearly as well as I should have. I didn’t live in the heart of Damascus, but 30 minutes by servees (a microbus used for commuting in Syria) on a good day. When meeting people in parts of the city that I did not know, I was often too stubborn or too ashamed to ask for directions or help getting somewhere. That always ended with me asking questions to people I’m more comfortable asking, but also less likely to be able to help me; or walking aimlessly and asking people in the street who were as clueless as I was. Going to a new theater or cultural center was always a process of finding out the address and the best way to get to and fro the designated activity location.

Well, not for long. Thanks to Google’s Map Maker, other location-recognition-impaired people won’t have to suffer like I did. I’m now one of a group of volunteer users, or citizen cartographers as Google likes to call them, who  have been drawing the entire map of Syria on Google Map Maker. We’re highlighting points of interest, businesses, streets, neighborhoods and just about everything in between. Eventually it will be available on a high quality, easy to search Google map that’s free to use for all people and platforms that have an active internet connection. There’s an intimidating learning curve to Map Maker; roads are hard to draw and they disappear after you first draw them because they need to be moderated before they show up. This means having to draw roads with no visual clues of your previous work. Drawing on water is a close analogy.

Read the rest of this entry »


They had it Coming

No Comments »

“So is it you [the Syrians] or the Iranians next on the American list?” Asked a friend of mine in a recent IM conversation, and continued with the following statement “well since both Syria and Iran are democracies and the people elected their governments and can hold them accountable for their actions, they deserve to face the American Wrath.”

I won’t comment on the fact that both regimes are democracies and people can hold their governments accountable. You can’t argue with that since both “repeatedly introduced themselves to the world as being democratic.”

The last outburst of American Wrath has cost the Iraqis 2 million lives and turned about 4 million of them into refugees scattered around the world. Iraqi young women – even minors – resorting/forced into prostitution just to keep there families from starving to death (I’ve personally came across families that can’t afford a daily meal of more than a couple of loaves of bread a day for the entire lot of 6-8 people!) Iraq’s infrastructure is devastated beyond repair, and new explosions are shedding Iraqi blood into the Euphrates so often that even news agencies lost interest in covering the daily hell on earth Iraqis are forced to live through as a consequence of American Wrath. But hey, they had it coming.

Saying that is worse than saying that rape victims brought it upon themselves by wearing revealing clothes, might as well advise them to lay back and try to enjoy it! Despite the “NO it’s not” answer I got when I asked, I still hope the whole idea was nothing more than a sick joke.