NO MOSQUE HERE!: The Racism of the Mosque opponents exposed!

Rachel Sklar wrote in

Let’s say up front that not everyone who opposes the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” (neither a mosque or at Ground Zero) is racist. There are many who disagree with the project on principled grounds. However, given the heated rhetoric surrounding the issue in recent weeks, it certainly stands to reason that an anti-Mosque protest would be the sort of gathering to which those with more…extreme…views might gravitate.

That was the case yesterday, at an anti-Mosque demonstration down in Lower Manhattan, when a black man walking through the crowd was the mistaken for a Muslim by the crowd — angrily.

The video, shot by amateur YouTube videographer, opens with chants of “No Mosque Here!” as it traces a black man wearing a white cap walking through the crowd. It’s not clear where he’s coming from or why the videographer had decided to film him, but the man seems to be trailed by a cameraman, a thin man who wanders behind him in a blue sweatshirt and what seems to be a woman hectoring him. He shoos her away angrily. There is a call of “coward!” “I’m not even Muslim!” he exclaims. Suddenly a big guy in a blue construction helmet is in his face. The chant of “No Mosque Here!” flares up again. The whole thing is very ugly and jarring.

“Wow, the crowd turned on him pretty fast,” says the videographer, who described it on YouTube like this:

A man walks through the crowd at the Ground Zero protest and is mistaken as a Muslim. The crowd turns on him and confronts him. The man in the blue hard hat calls him a coward and tries to fight him. The tall man who I think was one of the organizers tried to get between the two men.

So – was this guy one of the Mosque organizers? A secret terrorist? A secret Muslim? A non-secret Muslim? Nope, not according to the videographer: “Later I caught up with the man who’s name is Kenny. He is a Union carpenter who works at Ground Zero. We discussed what a scary moment that was for him. I told him that I hoped it did not ruin his day.”

Can’t see how that moment of angry group racism by an angry mob converging on him threateningly wouldn’t ruin his day! Incidentally, according to the Daily News, there were two separate demonstrations yesterday about the Mosque — one for and one against — that had nothing to do with each other. They were each held separately, two blocks from each other. Wait a second, one thing in Lower Manhattan can be two blocks from another thing and not have anything to do with each other? Insanity!

Watch the video below:

The New York Times article on this rally describes similar incidents, including how a student who carried a sign that simply read “Religious tolerance is what makes America great” was threatened and told that “that if the police were not present, [he] would be in danger.”

That sums it up about as well as anything I’ve heard.  Nothing related to Muslims should be near Ground Zero, because it was Muslims generally – not the handful of extremists – who flew the planes into those buildings. This campaign is nothing different than all of the standard, definitively bigoted efforts to hold entire demographic groups of people responsible for the aberrational acts of a small percentage of individual members. This whole controversy is exactly what disgust me.

Read How the “ground zero mosque” fear mongering began on the Salon.

Helwan Celebrates, in-style! Or ill-styne!

Two years ago, on 17 April 2008, his highness & majesty, President Hosny Mubarak, with his infinite wisdom & intelligence, signed the supreme brilliant presidential decree, dividing Cairo and Giza into 4 governorates instead of two, bringing the total to 28. An unstudied and unplanned decision aimed at minimizing the governmental administrative burden of running a colossal metropolitan like Cairo (estimated population of 17 million persons at the time).

In the division, Northern Cairo remained Cairo, while the southern district starting from Dar Al Sallam downwards, became the infamous governorate of Helwan. The beautiful suburban Maadi, was among the unfortunate lot who were “turned over” to the control of Helwan. The inhabitants of Maadi, not wanting to be thrown over night out of the Capital, and fearing that their beautiful neighborhood would fall to ruins under the control of Helwan, resisted the division decision. Same happened again and on a much more vocal/violent scale in Al-Wahat Al-Bahariya, where riots and protests broke over the decision to place the oasis under the jurisdiction of Minya governorate and not Sixth of October. There, anti-riot police used tear gas against 2,000 protesters and more than 20 people were detained. Bahariya residents took to the streets because the presidential decree which “moved” them from Giza governorate, meant they would have to travel up to 600km to access government and administrative services in Minya governorate.

The newspapers and media roared with dissent aimed at the presidential decision, but of course, the historical decision was not overturned.

Analyst Amr Elshobaki of Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies was most critical of the way the government dealt with the issue as a purely technical one in which public opinion had no part to play. “What happened is an unprecedented change in Egypt’s ruling system. Yet the decree ignored the opinions of citizens and experts alike.” The lack of communication between the state and the public, he argues, is almost guaranteed to see the changes fail in their avowed aims. “The timing of this decision immediately after the local council elections renders the councils themselves redundant,” he said.

Weird enough, after an emergency meeting at the National Democratic Party –not in the people assembly where it should have taken place- the presidential decree was subsequently amended. Al-Wahat Al-Bahariya and Ayyat, were both “re-moved” to the jurisdiction of Sixth of October. The decree also placed Atfih and Al-Saff, which used to belong to the Giza governorate, under Helwan. But of course no attention was given to the inhabitants of Maadi whom shared an equal dissent for the new division, but failed to act violently! Afterwards, and following a period of stretching and pulling of the borders of the new governorates, things calmed down and people accepted the new presidentially imposed reality.

Just to give you an idea about how haphazard that decree was, on 21 April 2008, just 4 days after the first decree, his Royalness, President Mubarak issued another presidential decree announcing that the Supreme Constitutional Court in Maadi, Helwan according to the earlier mention division decree, will be exempt of the division and will remain a part of Cairo governorate even as it is located in the new governorate of Helwan. The exception was made, because otherwise, if the Supreme Constitutional Court were to remain in Helwan, the rulings of the court would have been technically unconstitutional.

Anyhow, I, a simple inhabitant of Maadi, trusting that government knows what’s better for me, did not object in the beginning. Of course I felt a little bothered by becoming a Helwanise during my sleep, but still, I was not that keen on being a Cairian in the first place, after all Egypt have taught us not to take anything for granted! And as I grew up I became used to Egypt’s “hit and miss” approach to urban planning. So, after thorough study of the whole ordeal (something they didn’t care to do at the government) I decided that this maybe better for my district. Maybe then a simple procedure like getting my driving license renewed, would become a humane endeavor!

Little did I know!

As the days went by, it turned out that all what the Maadians feared most, was true… if not much worse.

One problem after another sprung into being, slowly but evidently obliterating the urban fabric and prominence of Maadi, as a peaceful and secluded neighborhood.

First came the Humongous Billboards that were scattered all over Maadi, against all laws and sensibility. These billboards which destroyed the aesthetics of Maadi as well as endangered its inhabitants (I still can’t help but wonder, what type of catastrophe would happen if one of these monstrosities were to fall!).

Afterwards came the project of a new “Smart Village” inside the borders of Maadi, which is scheduled to open sometime during summer 2010, and threatens to destroy the serenity and peace of Maadi altogether –If you ask me, to build an inside-city “Smart Village” project, is a pretty DUMB start!

Then most recently, the wise men at the governorate decided to move the driving license District Attorney office, from inside the Maadi Traffic Unit where it was located, to El Darasah Traffic Unit!!! Which means that anytime you need to renew your driving license, you have to go back and forth between Maadi and El Darasah, a 40 minutes drive, at least twice! Ironically enough, El Darasah is still in Cairo Governorate.

Not to mention the increased Police presence and sudden checkpoints they setup at random all over Maadi – just today there was a checkpoint (Lagnah) in the middle of 216 street (otherwise known as Satellite or Laslky road), at 10:00 PM!!! As you can imagine this blocked the Maadi entrance via Autostrad completely!

You may be wondering, why am I writing about this “ancient history” now?

Well because, yesterday, the governorate of Helwan, decided to rub it in our faces (we Maadians) even more and decorated Maadi squares with the most heinous decorations, congratulating us with Helwan’s governorate 2nd National Day!!!

Let’s not talk about the dreadful decorations itself, which look like a vulgar wedding from hell, complete with it’s cheap flickering lights, and ugly inflatable scare clown!

My question goes much deeper than just being angry about being visually and sensibly offended with this hideous “beautifications”.

My question is: As Maadians, What are we supposed to be celebrating on Helwan’s National Day?

The destruction of the once prominent and quite suburban Maadi?

OK! If we stop living in denial and accept the new Helwanise identity. As Helwanise, What are we supposed to be celebrating on Helwan’s National Day?

The governorate’s prominence as the highest-ranking pollution levels?

Or it’s prominence as the highest ranking corruption levels? (There is no solid evidence for that one, but the National Day’s congratulations to the Helwan Governor, which were spread on yet more billboards of all size, by the same companies which gave us the gigantic billboards in the first place, speaks volumes!!)

What the hell are we supposed to celebrate on Helwan’s National Day?

Well, I refuse to celebrate!!! And if I was much younger, I would have taken a knife and shown that huge inflatable polar bear how a celebration should be!

To me, Helwan’s National Day is an effigy to our government’s complete failure and confusion!

But hey, that’s just me! You can call me a party pooper!

Foot Note: While I was taking those picture, in front of Maadi Grand Mall, a man came up to me and introduced himself as a member of the Investigation Bureau (the notorious maba7es) and inquired about what I was doing! I told him that I was infatuated with the National Day decorations and wanted to take a photo of it, apparently even he didn’t believe that, so he started asking if I was photographing the Billboard!!!! Apparently the Billboards, being the National treasure that they are, are now protected by the police!!!! So of course I said no (cause I already photographed 1 year ago, moron). Nonetheless he instructed me to leave immediately, because this is a no-photography zone!!!!!!!!!

Read my older blog post about Maadi billboards:

Governor, Please… Bring the billboards down

Philippe: Ex Starck, now “Spark”!


Renowned French designer Philippe Starck says he is fed up with his job and plans to retire in two years, in an interview published in a German weekly, furthermore Strack claims that Design is Dead!

“I was a producer of materiality and I am ashamed of this fact,” Starck told Die Zeit weekly newspaper.

“Everything I designed was unnecessary. I will definitely give up in two years’ time. I want to do something else, but I don’t know what yet. I want to find a new way of expressing myself …design is a dreadful form of expression.”


Starck, who is known for his interior design of hotels and Eurostar trains and mass consumption objects ranging from chairs to tooth brushes and lemon juice squeezers, went on to say that he believed that design on the whole was dead.

“In future there will be no more designers. The designers of the future will be the personal coach, the gym trainer, the diet consultant.”

Starck’s comment have drawn wide media attention and criticism from the design world, MoCo Loco Design blog, published an article under the title: Philippe Starck, Designer (… and Eco-Warrior). In the article MoCo Loco speaks about Starck’s new found religion: Environmental awareness!

Helen Walters at BusinessWeek recently sat down with Starck at the Mercer Kitchen for a chat (listen to the podcast here), and she asked him “Really, are you really ashamed of everything you’ve designed?”. Starck’s answer was something to the effect of that he has always been an eco-warrior?! Whaaaat?!

Is he for real?!


Captain Spark to the rescue: off to save the day!

I mean, really, How convenient is it that he realized that his design carrier was an utter waste of time, years after he became a design Icon and got filthy rich off designing useless items! If it was all useless, why didn’t you (Mr. Starck) go ahead and do something that is actually useful, instead of wasting your time and ours, not to mention our money!

Or is this some kind of mid age crisis, where you are trying to find purpose, and make your hollow life make sense? If so please go ahead and do so at your expense, don’t go about claiming that design is dead, just because you lost interest in design! Just because you are ashamed of your materialism, doesn’t mean that all designers are equally materialistic!

I say Mr. Starck, if you really think Design is useless, why wait two years to retire? why not go ahead and set off to save the planet now while you are at it, and rid us of your egotistical mumblings.


12 Reasons to refuse to Render!

Originally posted by By Sebastian J at Arch Daily blog.

Marc Joseph, from Young Architect, has written a post about one of those tasks you should try to avoid at all cost in order to make your life easier: 3D Rendering.

He wrote down 12 reasons why you should avoid rendering in your office:

1. You Will Lose Track of Time
You can really get lost in your modelling. A whole work day can go by without you even realizing it. Worst of all, you can spend hours on a task that you expected to take a half an hour. In the end, you will find yourself staying later into the night while your coworkers punch out at 6.

2. More Demands on Your Time
There seems to be a very unfair expectation that employers have on the amount of time that it takes to complete a digital model. I have seen employers consistently assign a brand new 3D model to be completed and rendered for print in a two day period. While that may not seem like a short amount of time, we can easily forget that a considerable amount of time is going to be spent tweaking the vantage points and materials. Also, the employer will inevitably be requesting changes to the design or look once they see your progress prints.

3. The Employer Doesn’t Have Knowledge of the Software
There in lies maybe the biggest problem. Most of your supervisors will be older and have not been personally exposed to modelling software. They often feel as though computers have made things more instant or automated, when the truth of the matter is that computers have really just complicated things.

So as mentioned above, the employer will give you these assignments and constantly make changes to the model before you are done. Often times, the changes that they request will require near full remodels, so they can really be detrimental to getting renderings complete. This brings me to my next point

4. You Will Find Yourself Re-doing Things Over and Over
As you present various schemes and changes to your clients, you will find that you will have to model the same things over and over again. It is not unusual to have to go through 3-5 different drawing files in one day.

5. You Have to Sweat the Details
Aside from actually constructing the forms that make up the building massing, you also need to concentrate on those tedious details. Reflections, shading, material colors, mullions… you name it, are all items that must be coordinated into your rendering in order for it to come off as a believable form. Clients have little capacity for imagination and you really need to paint as clear of a picture as possible. The details are going to take up most of your time.

6. You Are On Your Own: No One Else Can Help You
Unfortunately, digital models practically have individual signatures embedded into them. What I mean is that it is easy to tell that one person modelled one drawing and another person was the author of another. When you are presenting multiple schemes, the same person really needs to be developing each one. It is the only way to deliver a professional presentation to a client. This means that none of your colleagues can help you out with the work load.

7. You May Have Knowledge in One Software But Not Another
There are so many different 3D software out there. I could name nearly ten of them but there are constantly new programs coming out that trump the others. I personally was used to using Formz when I came out of school. My first firm used 3D Studio Max and expected me to hit the ground running. I ended up having to learn the new interface while trying to keep up with my assignments. This led to longer nights at work that I would have rather spent back home of at happy hour.

8. You Lose Your Personal Space
Because your boss will be wanting to make those changes, he is basically going to be sitting on your lap and punching holes in your LCD screen. They just get sucked into your computer screen while you are still sitting at your desk! They will be putting their faces 3 inches away from your screen so they can inspect your work and you will most likely get familiar with the smell of their breath. To make matters worst, they will just stand there while you are frantically making their changes, even though it may take you 10 minutes to do so. You really just have to sit there and take it because its hard to tell your boss to buzz off.

9. You Won’t Be Working on Important Tasks
So while you are making pretty pictures, your friends in the office will be doing real work. Creating presentation images is indeed important and you will still be a valuable member of the team, but, in the end this won’t amount to anything more than an image that makes your client “oooh and ahh.”

10. You Will Learn Less
This is similar to the last point. While you are modelling, you won’t be doing any detailing, space planning, or structural coordination. Really, you are going to be missing out on all of those “important tasks” that will make you a more complete architect. There is no 3d Modelling section on the exams.

11. You Will Be Under-appreciated
Because you won’t be involved in those other tasks that really result in a final set of working documents, your contribution won’t be recognized as much. 3D modelling is expected to be a simple automated process and the crazy amount of time you pour into your assignments will be diminished by your employers high expectations.

12. Professionals Do It Better
Seriously, they do. You could spend a solid month on a model and it won’t look as good as when a professional renderer works a day or two on the project. You don’t have the skill-set or the digital library to trump the professionals. From personal experience, I have seen a professional rendering firm model the entire Dubai Waterfront Development overnight…from scratch. These are the images that you have probably seen for a few years now, including the early images of the new world’s tallest building. That’s right, they were done in a span of one night! Could you possibly compete with that?


This is a video of products that are in development now and should be available in ten years from now. It would be pretty cool, if it comes true. Unfortunately it’s all hypothesized by Microsoft Office Labs, meaning if these things actually become reality, they’re going to be a serious pain to use.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Core77 / industrial design magazine +…“, posted with vodpod

An Architectural Tragedy: Fire engulfs TVCC, a landmark of the skyline of Beijing

Last Monday, A massive fire engulfed Beijing’s Television Cultural Centre (TVCC), the building adjacent to the headquarters of China Central Television (CCTV), a building designed by Rem Koolhaas of The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA).

CCTV complex as intended after completion

CCTV complex as intended after completion

The new nearly finished 44-story building was scheduled to open by mid may 2009 and was supposed to house a luxury hotel and cultural center, the building was designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas as part of China Central Television’s new headquarters, an angular wonder of modernist architecture that was built to coincide with the Beijing Olympics last year.

The Building dominates an unfinished cultural center adjacent to China Central Television’s new landmark headquarters, a modern Z-shaped building that helped reshape the city’s skyline. Part of the building was used during the Olympics; the 241-room hotel was set to open this year.

The structure was set on fire by stray fireworks fired by revelers celebrating Chinese New Year during the last day of celebrations for the lunar new year.

The fire burned from the ground floor to the top floor, the flames reflecting in the glass facade of the main CCTV tower next to the hotel and cultural center. Flames were spotted around 9:30 p.m., and within 20 minutes the fire had spread throughout the building.

The TVCC on fire

The TVCC on fire

Flames shot up the TVCC, shattering windows and setting off explosions that ironically showered sparks higher than fireworks lighting up the rest of the city.

The TVCC on fire

The TVCC in full blaze

The blaze rendered the 34-story structure unusable, as the zinc and titanium alloy of the outer skin was burnt.
The cause has been caused by a massive Chinese New Year fireworks display in the compound, authorized by CCTV itself.

TVCC Lighting up Beijing’s sky

TVCC Lighting up Beijing’s sky

“Huge fireworks exploded over the building after 8 p.m., and sparks showered down,” said Ji Yuan, 14, a student who lives nearby. “The building lit up, and at first we thought there were more fireworks going off nearby, but then we saw the fire spread from the top, floor by floor.”
People are usually restricted from setting off fireworks downtown, but the government waives the rule for two weeks each year to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

TVCC burning to the ground

TVCC burning to the ground

One firefighter was killed and seven people were injured, six of them firefighters

The fire was the latest in a series of calamities to befall China since the tightly choreographed Beijing Games last August, including, the shutdown of Beijing National Stadium (Birds Nest), a severe economic slowdown, a tainted milk scandal and sporadic riots and protests.

The cultural complex was designed by Dutch architects Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren. “I think it’s really sad that this building is destroyed before it can be opened to the public,” said Erik Amir, a senior architect with the OMA, who rushed to the scene.

Contributing: Associated Press, Arch Daily, DeZeen magazine blog.
Photos by: Andrew Lih from DeZeen magazine blog, AFP and Wikipedia.