Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ramadan Diary ~ 2015 ~ Day Thirteen

Ibn Warraq continues his Ramadan musings...

The day started with a bang - literally. An initial explosion in Derb Bab El Hamra, just after 11am, sounded identical to the cannon shot that marks the end of the day's fasting. Except it was followed by another and then smaller sounds reminiscent of gun fire. Happily this was not the case. But, with Morocco having raised its alert level to the maximum following events in Tunisia, it was understandable that some of the Fez locals swore they could hear small arms fire. The incident caused the destruction of a gas depot selling bottled gas. See more details here

The drama on the hillside in Fez was not the first strange thing to happen in the last twenty-four hours.

Just before the end of the fast yesterday, my friend Hamid and I were on our adjoining rooftops chatting while waiting for the cannon and the call to prayer. To our surprise, a mosque in Laayoun began the call to prayer and then stopped. At the same time, from the fort up on the hill overlooking the Medina came a small puff of smoke and a less than impressive cannon shot. The misfire caused a few seconds of confusion, before a second cannon shot boomed across the Medina. It was good to know that the good folks on the hill have a backup shot ready. And in this case the problem was overcome quickly, unlike the incident in Agadir at the beginning of Ramadan when an over-eager Muezzin sang out the call to prayer seven minutes early.

Security in Morocco

All this talk of cannons and explosions reminds me that Abdellatif Hammouchi, a security heavyweight in the  Moroccan Security Service, has let it be known that his agents have strengthened surveillance around the resorts, hotel facilities and public sites known for their tourist appeal, as well as border crossing points to avoid any infiltration of terrorists.

Bombing threats were recently made via Twitter by a man named Al Mohcine Bidaoui.

"One of the immediate manifestations of this new security is a start strengthening the surveillance system at land borders and airports," says a security spokesperson, stating that firm instructions had been issued to ensure meticulous control of cars crossing land borders of the Kingdom, in order to  prevent the entry of vehicles carrying weapons.

Meanwhile the UK authorities have reassured travellers that while Morocco has the same potential problems as other countries, at the moment is it okay to visit.

What are the Brits smoking?

The misleading headline award for the day is shared by the WalesOnLine website and the Gazette in Gloucestershire.

Wales weather forecast: Country will be hotter than MOROCCO today as mercury tops 27C - WalesOnline

Temperatures in Gloucestershire to soar beyond those of Morocco as heatwave gets underway - The Gazette

27 degrees Celsius? Oh really? Then you read the small print and it becomes clear that they don't actually mean "Morocco" but rather "Casablanca".  Just to let those in Gloucestershire and Wales know, in Fez the temperature today was much cooler, down from 41 to 34.

A fountain of coolness
Chilling out Moroccan style

The strangest change to Ramadan!

Ramadan just got longer and you can blame the Time Lords. Sorry, but this is not a joke. It is also complex, so if you have been fasting, you may need to concentrate and read very slowly.

Today the world will experience a minute that will last 61 seconds, a weird event that is known as the leap second. It occurs when timekeepers adjust high-precision clocks so that they are in sync with Earth's rotation.

Few of the planet's 7.25 billion people are likely to be aware of the change and even fewer will have set plans for how they will spend the extra moment. But for horologists, the additional second is a big deal and there is much dispute as to whether it is vital or should be scrapped.

Service of the Rotation of the Earth (SRE) director Daniel Gambis admits "there is a downside", the poetically named branch of the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS), is in charge of saying when the second should be added.

hang on... er, wait a second...

The leap second is hardly a great leap forward, and is not something for most of us to stress over, but it's important for atomic clocks, as well as caesium and rubidium clocks which regulate of our Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites, by sending synchronised signals so that sat-nav receivers can triangulate their position on Earth. Get it wrong and your car could take you to Figuig instead of Fez.

The internet, for instance, sends data around the world in tiny packets that are then stitched together in micro-seconds. Some algorithms in financial trading count on gaining a tiny slice of a second over rivals to make a profit.

There have been 25 occasions since 1971 when the leap second has been added in an effort to simplify  GMT. And it has not always gone well.

Airlines, trading floors and technology companies are braced for chaos today as world timekeepers prepare to add a leap second to global clocks.

When the last leap second was added in 2012 Mozilla, Reddit, Foursquare, Yelp, LinkedIn, and StumbleUpon all reported crashes and there were problems with the Linux operating system and programmes written in Java.

In Australia, more than 400 flights were grounded as the Qantas check-in system crashed.

Ramadan just got one second longer - El Humdullilah!

Another of Hamid's moderately funny jokes...

An elderly Moroccan lived close to New York City for more than 40 years. He would have loved to plant potatoes in his garden, but he was alone, old and weak. His son was in college in Marrakech, so the old man sent him an e-mail.

"Beloved son, I am very sad, because I can't plant potatoes in my garden. I am sure, if only you were here, you would help and dig up the garden for me.
I love you,
Your Father"

The following day, the old man received a response e-mail from his son:

"Beloved Father,
Please don't touch the garden. It's there that I have hidden 'the THING'.
I love you, too,

At 4pm the US Army, The Marines, the FBI, the CIA and the Rangers visited the house of the old man, took the whole garden apart, searched every inch, but couldn't find anything. Disappointed they left the house.

A day later, the old man received another e-mail from his son.

"Beloved Father,
I hope the garden is dug up by now and you can plant your potatoes.
That's all I could do for you from here.
I love you,

Saha Ftourkoum!

See Ibn's Ramadan Dairy
DAY ONE          DAY FIVE             DAY NINE   
DAY TWO         DAY SIX                 DAY TEN

Print Friendly and PDF

No comments: