Sunday, December 18, 2011


I passed by AUB's Online Collaborative on Friday around 7:30 pm. I came a bit late, but it was the only time I could pass by the event. There was a Panel discussion on Social Media for personal use, and it was moderated by Ayman Itani. It fount that it is no surprise for people to have that much power created by social media, in particular blogging. However it was interesting to hear about a couple of success stories related to blogging, it gives you an insight about the evolution of that medium.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Making Things Work in Different Mediums

A few months back I read a book called "The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding" and there as a section about the internet and how communication is shifting from the traditional medium "broadcast and print" to, well, the internet.

I remembered this today while Mr. Nasri Atallah, the author of the blog "Our Man in Beirut" was talking about his blogging experience, how it evolved, and why and how it turned into a book. As you have noticed, his blog talked mainly about Beirut and his perception of it. So why is relevant to the main topic ? Other than the obvious reason that he has experienced success on an online medium and is now trying to shift to a more traditional one, I believe that it is important to see why he did so and to what extent would he have success.

Why the shift ?

Getting published usually in the pre-internet era had to do mostly with credibility when it comes to the author, it was used to build credibility about a certain topic, for when you get published most people would get the sense that you are an expert in that field. However Mr. Atallah got published because he was credible due to his online audience, however it is most likely the shift occurred based on self-esteem or self-actualization needs on the behalf of Mr. Atallah, and I believe he mentioned that motive in an indirect manner while he was talking about the issue. Therefore, the shift from the online medium to the more traditional medium had nothing to do with which is the more successful one in terms of communication.

Will his shift be successful ?

There is no doubt that the man has had a lot of success when it comes to blogging, however I don't believe that his book will have as much success because the audiences are different. Some might argue that the book audience is not so different because the theme "Beirut" is still the same, and that was Mr. Atallah's argument. However, the motives and the consumer behavior of each is very different, people who are more likely to read blogs are less likely to take the initiative to go to a book store, pay and read something which is found online for free. Whereas book readers seek out authors differently and in a more ordered and structured way. Therefore I can't see for the book the same success that the blog has had for different mechanics go into buying or reading each. At best the book will be a collector's item for someone who is passionate about Nasri's blog work, and in case sales spike in the near future, it will be no more than a fad. and one piece of advice to Mr. Atallah, I suggest you stick with the medium that got you where you are, if you stop blogging your following will decrease dramatically, however there is a possibility that my analogy is inaccurate but I still think the reasoning behind it is sound. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

What Goes into Wine Making

The general purpose of the presentation is to inform you about the process of making wine, and what are the variations that go into this process affecting the quality of the wine.

The specific purpose of the presentation is to allow the audience to know how the procedure affects the price of the final product that they buy.

I.                   Why is it important to know about the process of making wine ?
A.    Wine is a symbol of sensuality and sophistication; hence the bottle bought by the consumer is an indicator of their level of sophistication.
B.     In order for someone to be able to differentiate between wines, she or he must know how the final product came to be.
 Now that it is clear why knowing the process of wine is important, you will learn about the general process of making wine.
II.                The General Process of Fermentation:

A.    Mincing the grapes and removing the berry stem, this process is currently automated, however in pre-industrial times wine makers used to use their hands to separate the berry from the berry stem, and their feet to mince the grapes .
B.     After the mincing is done, a catalyst is added to start the fermentation process, this catalyst can either be synthetic or natural (yeast).
C.     Fermentation will occur at a constant temperature interval of 15 to 17 C, and for a period ranging between 10 to 15 days depending on the type of the grape and its sweetness.
D.    Pressing the wine juice to separate the pulp from the liquid comes after fermentation is terminated due to the complete transformation of sugar into alcohol.
E.     Filtering the wine is an important step that ensures the separation of wine for the solid sediments from what was once was grapes.
F.      Store the wine at a constant temperature, preferably below 17 C and above 5 C for a certain period in special type of container to influence the texture of the win.

 Now that you know the general process of fermentation, the factors that affect the quality of wine will be discussed.

III.             Factors that Affect the Quality of the Wine are as follows:

A.    Factors that influence quality during fermentation:
a.       The type of grapes used. Grapes vary in texture, color, sweetness, richness and availability. Therefore different grapes yield different types of wine that vary in quality and appeal to different audiences. Usually the more rare the grape, the more expensive the bottle. Some of the more expensive grapes are “Medoc Haut, Canaiolo Nero, …”
b.      Quality of the catalyst used. Usually it is encouraged to use natural yeast rather than synthetic. Also the purity of the yeast also affect the final product.
c.       The type of container used. This depends mainly on the quantity that the winery wants to produce. Lesser wines are produced in large stainless steel barrels in order to have more control the process, especially the temperature. However more expensive wines are fermented in more sophisticated procedure, like natural rock formations, stone wells, wood…
B.     Post fermentation factors that influence quality:
a.       Type of container used to rest the wine affects the taste and acidity of the wine. There is no debate that the container must be air tight, however, the nature of the container material influence the taste of the wine. Different types of wood give different flavors, and of course, lesser wines are stored in either plastic or aluminum containers.
b.      Type of bottle used in storing the wine affects the wine in terms of thickness and darkness. In other words, the heavier and the darker the glass bottle is the better the wine is preserved.
c.       The type of cork used to close the wine bottle determines how air tight the bottle is, and for how long it will stay this way. Usually natural corks are the best, but they are also the most expensive.
After going through the process of fermentation and its variations that affect the quality of the wine, you must be able to differentiate between low quality wine and high quality wines. Furthermore, you should also be able to know how wines are different and why there are expensive wines and cheap wines.

Works Cited

Oenology. (2011). Retrieved November 13, 2011, from Wikipedia:
Arida, C. (2011, 11 10). Professor of Wine, Spirits, and Cigars. (R. Riachi, Interviewer)
Grape Berry Development. (n.d.). Retrieved November 13, 2011, from Practical Winery and Vinyard Journal:
Riachi, J. (2011, November 12). CEO - Lebanese Beverage Company. (R. Riachi, Interviewer)
Zakka, S. (2011, November 10). Owner - Zakka Mutitech. (R. Riachi, Interviewer)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Secular Lebanon

The general purpose of the presentation is to inform people about secularism and persuade them that secularism is the only means for political and social progress.

The specific purpose of the presentation is to persuade people that secularism must be implemented in Lebanon, because it is the only means for peace, prosperity, and stability in Lebanon.

I.                   The dictionary definition of secularism, atheism and sectarianism will be given during the introduction, and the various repercussion of each school of thought will be previewed.
A.    Secularism is a movement derived from the word secular, which means either of three things according to the online dictionary:
1.      Of or relating to worldly as opposed to sacred things; temporal.
2.      Not concerned with or related to religion.
3.      Not within the control of the Church.
B.     Atheism is a movement derived from the word Atheist, which has the following dictionary definitions:
1.       Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.
2.      The doctrine that there is no God or gods.
C.     Sectarianism is also a school of thought, but is derived from the word sectarian, which according to the online dictionary means:
1.      Of, relating to, or characteristic of a sect.
2.      Adhering or confined to the dogmatic limits of a sect or denomination; partisan.
3.      Narrow-minded; parochial.
D.    A preview of what will be discussed in the body will be quickly shown on the PowerPoint presentation aid.

 Now that you know what secularism and sectarianism really means, a detailed comparison between them and their diverse repercussions will be discussed.


II.                The reasons that make the Lebanese refute the idea of secularism and its implementation are various. The following is a list of those reasons:
A.    People are not aware of the difference between secularism and atheism; hence the idea of a secular society becomes blasphemous.
B.     Contrary to the shared myth that Lebanese are highly educated people, they are not. Therefore their ability to interpret politics correctly is hindered, and instead of using reason they use indoctrinated beliefs to back up arguments.
C.     Lack of transparency in the Lebanese society among commoners and politicians alike is an indicator of lack of morality and self-control. Having a secular society requires people to restrict themselves to the laws, which at the moment they are not.
D.    Sectarian people fear the idea of being ruled by the other sect, and therefore believe that if Lebanon becomes a secular nation the majority which is the Shiite will rule all other sect, which in turn is a logical fallacy.

 Now that you know the main reasons why secularism is currently refuted in Lebanon, a Sign Post:preview of what sectarianism has done to Lebanon.

III.             Sectarianism has claimed the lives of millions of people throughout the history of Lebanon, and hindered social, educational, economic, and political growth.
A.    The history of Lebanon is mainly a history of sectarian violence  that has produced the following casualties:
a.       Between 1840 and 1860 sectarian violence between the Druze and the Christians of Mount Lebanon left more than 380 villages destroyed.
b.      1958 Conflict between the Government (Christian) and the Opposition (Sunni and Druze) produced 4000 casualties.
c.       1968, 1975-1990 Civil war between all sects of Lebanon produced 150,000 deaths, 200,000 wounded, 900,000 displaced, and 400,000 missing.
d.      More recently in 2008, civil unrest which started in May 8, and extended till the end of that year resulted in battles between the Sunnis, Shiites, and Druze, which in turn produced 104 casualties and 85 wounded.
B.     Sectarianism’s effect on the economy is very clear, and can be deduced from the negative GDP growth of -57% during the 1975-1990 Civil War and 75,000% devaluation on the Lebanese Lira.

After discussing the effects of sectarianism, the effects of secularism on different cultures including diverse cultures will be discussed.

IV.             The application of secularism on culturally diverse societies in the world and the Middle East.
A.    The UNDP has developed a cool called Human Development Index (HDI) for countries to measure which are the best, and which are the worst countries to live in. The top 10 countries with the highest HDI are all secular nations: Norway, Australia, Netherlands, and U.S.A. New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Germany, and Sweden.
B.     Turkey which is a conservative country and shares a large amount of cultural identifiers with Lebanon has turned secular more than 80 years ago, and since then it is experiencing steady growth on all levels including HDI.
C.     The USA is one of the most culturally diverse countries on earth, home to more than 30 different religious sects, yet maintains a superpower status and rank 4th on HDI. This was made possible due to the fact that politics is separated from religion.
The sectarian status of Lebanon has defined us as a third world developing nation, which has constant political and economic instability due to sectarian violence. Lebanon is constantly used as a scenario for what can happen when religion mixes with politics. It is time to put our narrow mindedness behind us, and prosper after thousands of years of suffering due to sectarianism.


(1999). Photographs in History (Arabic). In Photographs in History (Arabic) (p. 76). Beirut: Dar Al Nasher.
Atheist. (2011). Retrieved from The Free Online Dictionary by Farlex:
Sectarian. (2011). Retrieved from The Free Online Dictionary by Farlex:
Secular. (2011). Retrieved from The Free Online Dictionary by Farlex:
Life, T. P. (2010). U.S. Religious Landscape Survey. Washington: PEW.
Mongabay. (1987, December). Lebanon - The 1958 War. Retrieved from Mongabay:
Sarkis, P. (2011, December 1). History Prof. at LAU. (R. Riachi, Interviewer)
SPILLER, R. J. (1981, January). Not War But Like War. Retrieved from Command and General Staff College:
UNDP. (2010). HDI Report 2010. Retrieved from
Wikipedia. (2011). 1860 Lebanon Conflict. Retrieved from Wikipedia:
Wikipedia. (2011). Lebanon. Retrieved from Wikipedia:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Our Man in Beirut

Our man in Beirut was in in Secteur 75 tonight for his book signing, and his book was apparently a blog... well a blog in print form rather than online, which is a nice concept. It was no surprise that Mr. Nasri Atallah was over whelmed by happiness cause the dude is loved! The place was packed and a couple of interesting moments happened around 7:00 pm when the electricity went off (not really).

At the end of the day all I have to say is Big Ups Mon and Bouyakasha ;)