LATW Episode 21 (December 1 – January 15, 2013)


Earth from Space

Earth from Space

Ice Flowers
Ice Flower

Modern Ruins

Modern Ruins




LATW Episode 20 (October 1–November 30, 2012)



LATW Episode 19 (August 1–September 30, 2012)

Photo Gallery


Curiosity proves that 2-megapixels is enough


Space Shuttle Endeavour hitching a ride atop a 747


29 of the most iconic scientists, in color



When physics comes to the rescue


It takes 275 water molecules to make ice


LATW Episode 18 (July 1 – July 31, 2012)


Robbie – A Short Film By Neil Harvey from Neil Harvey on Vimeo.

The Higgs Boson Explained from PHD Comics on Vimeo.



Social Commentary: Qatar Modesty Campaign

One of Us

I have started a new section in my blog called “Social Commentary” where I hand-pick comments from various social media sites on a widely discussed current topic and compile them in an article. The compilation is by no means unbiased. I select comments from both sides of the argument based on how well it made me question my reasoning.

[quote style="boxed"]I’m very shocked and disappointed by by this. The Gulf states are Islamic states and many laws and practices are put in place to maintain religious values. It’s strange how these religious values suddenly fly out the window when it comes to treatment and conditions of the workers.[/quote]

[quote style="boxed"]It is not so much a matter of what clothes one wears, but where one wears them, said Al Ameri. “You couldn’t wear a short shirt in a mall, but you could maybe wear a short shirt in a private club or private restaurant where it complies with the dress code.”[/quote]

[quote style="boxed"]On social media and Qatari networking sites, some foreign women who have both applauded and denounced the modesty movement said they think time would be better spent campaigning to enforce laws that could save lives, for example fining people who smoke in areas where lighting up is banned, or requiring the use of seat belts.[/quote]

[quote style="boxed"]Others have suggested that stores in the Gulf could sell more “local-friendly” dresses, skirts and the like. The high-end clothing stores on the Pearl in Doha, Qatar, do not generally stock many clothes that would be considered acceptable women’s wear in public spaces in the country. Trying to find a shop that sells a dress that has both sleeves and a hem that hits below the knees proved difficult. The same could be said for many of the clothes for sale at the H&M in the local Qatari malls. “This is so bad,” said Al Mahmoud, who is also trying to raise awareness at clothing stores by asking that their advertisements and window displays be culturally appropriate.[/quote]

[quote style="boxed"]I have mixed feelings about this. It’s legitimate that locals have concerns about expats not dressing modestly. But given the fact that Qatar was given an abysmal human rights report this week, I really think the country should be focusing on that more. Worker conditions are DEPLORABLE in Qatar, and 10 men sharing a room and bathroom is WAY more indecent than someone wearing a tank top in a mall! People need to understand that people who cover themselves aren’t necessarily good people. I’ve seen women in full abayas treat their maids and drivers like animals. These posters should read “DON’T ABUSE YOUR MAID” and “PAY YOUR EMPLOYEES EACH MONTH, NOT EVERY 6 MONTHS.” How are expats supposed to respect a clothing practice when the locals can’t respect human lives? Every day these workers are degraded on a daily basis and this is NOT acceptable. This campaign is really distracting people from bigger and more important issues. A woman can be head to foot in black wearing the most modest outfit imaginable but if she treats those less fortunate in a horrible way then she might as well not wearing anything. These ladies need to understand the meaning of public decency before they start trying to educate people about it.[/quote]

[quote style="boxed"]Think about this: if you invite someone to your home and that person is dressed indecently and disrespected your house and your family, will you invite this person again? wouldn’t you feel disgusted that such a person ever put foot in your house and had been close to your family?
The group One of Us is inviting people to dress appropriately, why is so disturbing about dressing decently?I haven’t been in Quatar, but if one day I go, I will see myself dressed like an elegant,well educated and raised Western woman should dress.[/quote]

[quote style="boxed"]I understand and respect what you’re saying. The problem I have with this campaign is that it’s a bit stereotyping – basically the message is that those who wear revealing clothing are immoral and indecent. It’s a bit hypocritical to do this when Qatar has a big problem with human rights. There are many girls in spaghetti straps and short skirts that have a better heart and compassionate personality than those that fully cover. People shouldn’t be judged by clothing, but obviously there are limits, and me personally I respect it. I wouldn’t be one of those girls that wore revealing clothing in a place like Qatar, because they place importance on modest dress and it’s their country. But really this isn’t the biggest problem facing the country at all.[/quote]

[quote style="boxed"]I don’t see too much of a problem here. In my opinion it’s a bit of an exaggeration having to cover up that much.But it’s a matter of taste. There are “laws” in spannish cities like barcelona too. Who prohibit too revealing clothes. Because they were fed up with tourists walking around the town in basically bathing suits.
You’ll find plenty a topic where it says “barcelona bans bikini on its streets”. So it’s not so alien but it’s a matter of taste and trying to find a fine line between culture and fashion. I think the veil debate is a bit complex where the reason why it’s forbidden is because other people force the use. The laws really aim to prohibit people forcing others to wear them. However since that’s impossible. To gage intent and free choice. In any case i don’t think you need to mix that debate up in this.[/quote]

[quote style="boxed"]A lot of people who are not Qataris are annoyed by the way some people living here dress. In fact, from my own personal experience the people who are most upset at the indecent attire targeted by this campaign are the Muslim Westerners who came to Qatar looking for an Islamic environment to raise their families. Even many of my Westerner friends who are not Muslims have expressed their shock at some of the attires they see here. As for public smoking & reckless driving, you won’t hear me arguing against campaigns that target them. However, once again it is important to remember that there are non-Qataris who do both. I doubt any of the ladies behind this campaign are smokers. Smoking in public is, especially, something that many people have complained about in the local Arabic newspapers, but sadly, the responsible authorities have not taken interest in these complaints. I would very much be in support of a campaign for the enforcement of the ban on smoking in public areas.[/quote]

[quote style="boxed"]I think it’s an interesting and worthy discussion. Unfortunately I don’t have an opportunity to interact with local women on a personal but I was wondering why so many seem to “de-throbe” at the airport or on the plane when leaving Qatar? How come their modesty, religion, ethnicity or their husband’s attitude changes once they are in the sky? On my last flight there was a queue and out they popped in designer tight jeans and cleavage tops! It’s not a criticism just trying to understand more.
This is a tricky issue for ex-pat women here as being “modest” is relative. And there are lots of mixed messages. You may see a young Muslim woman wearing a Shayla, a long, loose skirt, and the tightest long-sleeve shirt you’ve ever seen, leaving little to the imagination. And men wear tight t-shirts, tight skinny jeans, and shirts with the first three buttons open showing their chest. I think this campaign should not be aimed at everyone, not just at ex-pat women.[/quote]

[quote style="boxed"]Everybody has different views of what decent dress is so here we have guidelines for how Qatar views it. Isn’t that a good thing? I have read over and over again that people would follow a dress code if they only knew what it was. In a society where single men are a majority I think I would love my daughter, wife or sister to take care when dressing in order not to attract undue attention from men who have not seen their wives for years.Hailing from the UK I find it refreshing to find ladies (majority at least – there are always exceptions to every rule) dressing in a more modest way. We only have to look at our sisters in nunneries to see what we really truly see as the epitome of modest dress. We wouldn’t put the Virgin Mary in a short skirt and low top now would we? God forbid! I think perhaps as westerners we need to examine whether what we see as modest really is or is it just that we ourselves have become victims of being politically correct.Call me old fashioned but I like the way the practicing Muslims dress.[/quote]

[quote style="boxed"]Preserving culture is good. Not against this. I do object to the term decency however. This is a judgmental word and the issue of decency is subjective. I also don’t really accept the idea that women are walking around practically nude (no nudity?). That’s kind of an extreme statement. So, sadly, the campaign comes across as being demeaning to others. That isn’t to say that culture and religion in Qatar should not be recognized and respected. I’m just saying that maybe the words being used should have been thought out a bit more. The impression I am left with is that by not complying with the rules, a person is not showing class, seen as indecent and lacking values.[/quote]

LATW Episode 17 (May 15 – June 30, 2012)

Web Video Box Office

Image Gallery

Long exposure photo from ISS

Science & Technology


LATW Episode 16 (April 15 – May 15, 2012)

Web Video Box Office

Cool sound and water experiment


Berkeley Ridiculously Automated Dorm



Science & Technology

LATW Episode 15 (March 1 – April 15, 2012)

Web Video Box Office


100 years of ships


Perpetual Ocean

Science & Technology


LATW Episode 14 (February 1 – February 29, 2012)

Video Box Office


Interactive Starry Night


Water droplets orbiting a needle

Photo of the month


Guess the subject of the photograph



Paradox of a CS major

  • We know how to write a History essay or an English research paper, but don’t have any clue when it comes to writing a functional specification document or a technical design document.
  • We can accurately measure the run time complexity of an algorithm but cannot reliably say how long we will need to write a piece of code.
  • We can make sense of an assembly dump, but cannot parse a piece of code written by someone else and proceed to rewrite it.
  • We learn how how to code the hard way with Vim and Emacs, but never bother to learn to use all the features of Eclipse.
  • We can do miracles while coding alone, but have no clue how to commit, checkout, branch, tag, and merge using a revision control software for a team project.
  • We excel at writing thousands of lines of code, but have difficulty compiling, linking, and creating executables.
  • We enjoy the challenge of a good debugging session, but hate to write unit tests and regression tests.