Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Satellite Dish

Beniamin Natenyahu visited the town where I lived in central Texas mid 2000. He was there to collect money and contributions from evangelical churches and religious establishments for Israel. In a ceremonial event, he gave a long speech about the Middle East region. He figures that Israel deserves support because it is the only real democracy in the region. He thinks Israel's neighbors can be good people, but are lead by tyrrants, so he doesnt trust them as of yet. There was this part of his monologue which I found very interesting. When he started talking about Iran, he said "I told William Cohen (former secertary of defense) you don't need to spend all these billions of dollars keeping your army ready, and spending billions more on spy planes and intelligence programs to take care of Iran. All you need is a big big satellite dish pointed at Iran, and just show them the programming we have here. Show them Beverly Hills 9020 or whatever (Beverly Hills 90210.) Let the young generation over there see how nice freedom is. Let them revolt and overthrow their government. Your work is practically done for you."

He argues that when the Irani teenager, or young adult, watches the fancy BMW's, the display of affection with attractive young ladies, the free and flamboyant lifestyle, he might think to himself..."Hey.. why don't I live like that? Maybe its because I have a corrupt government in power that wants to keep me in a bird cage using religion as an excuse?! I feel like going out in the streets and demonstrating against the ayotollas!"

What he said made lots of sense to me.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Crime and Punishment

* this post was sent in by one of the readers, Exclusive. Your contributions are more than welcome.


Crime and Punishment

A few weeks ago a friend of mine was talking about the recent dramatic increase in the number of crimes in specific burglaries in Bahrain. She said and quiet seriously "the government should have those bastard thieves' hands chopped off!". I simply objected and everybody was against me as I'm sure some of you are now.

The Islamic Shari'ah mentioned that before sentencing the criminal for punishment, certain rules shall apply, and each crime has its own set of rules. Those crimes are:

1.Murder
2.Brigandage and plunder.
3.High treason.
4.Defamation.
5.Adultery
6.Theft.

The Holy Qur'an states that the first three crimes have a fixed punishment which is capital punishment because they are crimes against God's law. However, Defamation and Adultery's punishment is neither death, nor stoning or strangling but limited whipping. Theft's punishment, on the other hand, and as we all know, cutting the hand. The Islamic judge is required to look at a higher level of proof and reasons why the person committed the crime. A judge can only impose the punishment when a person confesses to the crime or there are enough witnesses to the crime. The usual number of witnesses is two (two men or a man and two women's testimony). In the case of adultery, however, four witnesses are required. When there is doubt about the guilt of a crime or there is no confession to a crime or not enough witnesses to the crime, the judge must treat the crime as a lesser one.

"You can't go chopping people's hands off!" I said but no one dare asked me why. It's not that I'm against Islam, but Islam isn't an easy-to-handle religion. It needs a certain amount of thoroughness and carefulness when applied. As we all know, our judicial system is a joke and may I say corrupt beyond imagination?! So how in God's name do you want "our respectable judges" to sentence a criminal to death or have his/her hand chopped off when there are people who are hungry, homeless, unemployed…etc? The answer to the dramatic increase in number of crimes, in my opinion, is harder punishment; YES!!! But first feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and employ the unemployed; clean our courts from the corruption they are so deeply buried under. Let the people feel safe and secure and after that if and when they steal, chop off their hands and I will gladly be the first to applaud.

"When a town grows, crime grows with it".
Victor Hugo

ExCluSivE

Friday, August 26, 2005

Food Online

A couple of friends of mine were telling me about this website. There is a number of restaurants, with each restaurant's menu uploaded. You get to order your meal online, and have a subscription. They deliver it for you if its over a minimum amount.
Now I'm wondering, is this site registered with the Ministry of Information? If yes, then they're barring out ideas, innovation, culture, free speech, and information, but want to keep track of who's ordering a shish kebab tonight? If not, then there is a double standard. Why should some websites register and some don't have to? Because a grand total of 82 registered websites does not lead me to suspect that webmasters are being chased by the secret police to get moving to the MOI with an application form and a fee.
Here is another thing. We are a nation that wants to stuff itself.. too lazy to drive down the street to get a meal, and could care less about our personal freedoms and our rights to think? What upsets me is that the MOI is not putting an effort to embellish their appearance, or try to win the public opinion over, because... honestly.. who gives a fuck if the law passed or not? As long as Im getting my happy meal without minimal effort..... everything's fine and dandy.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Its a bit old, but it doesnt happen everyday




Syrian born artist, Hala Faisal, protests the war in Iraq and the occupation of Palestine by appearing in the nude with anti-war slogans written in both English and Arabic, in Washington Square Park Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2005, in New York City.

Syrian born artist and actress/singer Hala Faisal has shown her work to wide acclaim in Europe as well as the Middle East. After completing a BFA at Damascus University, she studied at the High Institute of Cinema at Moscow and Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. Her acting and singing career includes movies and performances in Syria, the former Soviet Union, and the United States. She has also worked as a graphic artist and lecturer on the history of art.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Dear Mr. Dawood,

Dear Mr. Dawood, before I clean your clock with your redicilus middle age law, I have a question. Why did it take you three months to register 82 websites to begin with? You are doing a horrible job keeping a leash on us. As a citizen, I demand to know why a public office with the budget it has needs 3 months to register 82 websites? I can do it in one hour ! These are the kind of people that are supposed to keep an eye on us? If you're going to give us a hard time, can you at least do a decent job at it? Whats more humiliating to the outside world? We have to register a personal website with a government entity? Or that it takes 3 months to do it?

Now let me ask you another question. Why do you choose to come up with the amazing project you and your crew have taken upon yourselves, just days after Bahrain was ranked 3rd most dangerous country to blog in? 3rd place aint that good anymore, huh? We've GOT TO BE NUMBER ONE ! Thats the Bahraini spirit ! Better luck next time. Hard luck.

Sir, does it make you proud to have Bahrain with China, Iran, and Syria in the same breath, in terms of free speech? I mean we used to compete with eastern european countries in terms of personal freedom maybe... im fine with Egypt and Malaysia... but China and Iran? This is low.

Mr. Dawood, please don't be offended, but you can only find Ministries of Information in third world, under-developed countries, that need a monopolized source of information to attempt disguising a corrupt government.

In Bahrain, we amuse ourselves that we're moving towards reform and transparency. Please don't take that away from us. We're so transparent we have a list of everyone that maintains a website. Please find another day Job and cancel out the MOI. Its a prime location on two streets. We can use the office space down there.

Good luck explaining in your next job interview, after they close down the MOI, why it took you three months to register 82 websites.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Newsletter

Tariq Khonji, Mahmood Al Yousif, Scorpio, emoodz and myself have discussed and exchanged views about the bahraini blog landscape a number of times. The most interesting point of debate is what I would call talking to the mirror. It seems that most of us are preaching to the quire, or explaining to a farmer that rain is good. The message is already recieved, thats why most of our discussions and interactions are over little detail points, like how white is white, or what came first the chicken or the egg.

Last blogger meet-up, I told the guys that we have a big, wide main-stream. There are folks to the right of the mainstream, locked up in Guantanamo bay, or yelling bloody murder at a microphone in a religious society; and then there is us, the Bahraini bloggers, to the left of the main-stream. What we do is all fair and nice, but the problem is we sit in a circle together and throw back the same chewed up toys. Hijab, terrorists, and employment are usually common themes. They are very good ones at that, but they're just going around in circles, and not very far.

What I suggest is, we start some sort of a newsletter. I propose a monthly electronic, or a paper publication (if there is funding.) We can have an informal committee that picks out the best articles and posts every month, edit and format something suave and savvy, and kick it into mass media. We can send them out as forward emails, throw out stacks at supermarkets, and if its really good, we can get a promoter to pick it up from there and make profits from advertisements.

We need more people that disagree with most of us. We need people that might understand, and others that might not. I feel that if we keep on communicating to a replica, we will lose our edge and turn into yesterday's news without knowing it.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Work Ethic

Some people just have their names on the payroll just because downsizing is taboo. They have nothing to do all day long but to either talk on the phone, bother other employees trying to do their job, or go about taking care of their own private business. Since they hung around for the last decade or two, its somehow an obligation to pay them just to keep on hanging around. Whats funny is, we were supposed to re-locate as a department, and these old fucks screwed me out of my assigned office space. They play with their balls all day long, while my job requires privacy, walk-in visits, and one-on-one meetings. I got thrown in the back, while they just whine and bitch and moan to the superiors, until they got their way not because they are convincing, but because top management really can't take it anymore. They know I wont put a fight because I want the job done, while they have no other thing to occupy their minds other than petty stuff.

One thing I learned about employee behavior is that qualified people never complain about their job. If they are underpaid and overworked or something in between, because they sure know that they can move to another job. They have confidence in themselves to pick up somewhere else and build a career. Folks that complain about their job are usually the type that did nothing in their youth, didnt try to learn or improve, and somehow the world has passed them by. The reason why they complain is because they know that where they are at is the best they can get. No one else will hire them, so they're stuck with what they're given.

Thats why they worry about stupid stuff like which office to play with their balls in!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Heaven & Hell

* Reference to the previous post.

So I was thinking, are these the people we're going to meet in heaven? In the Quran it says
" على الأرائك ينظرون" Which means the good folks will be sitting on leather couches watching the rest of us not-so-brilliant bunch. If I walk into heaven, and found the person I met sitting on a couch there, whats my life for eternity gonna be like? Don't we think to ourselves, why does the person that invented vaccines and antibiotics and saved millions of humans, probably a christian, ends up burning in hell while the fellow that doesnt like to see Shi'a, women, or most human beings; and is ready to blow them up, is going to sit on a couch and laugh at him while eating a banana?
Honestly, If I went to heaven and saw that guy again... I'm going to ask God to take me down to hell... at least Im going to meet Bob Marley and Elvis down there..

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Someone I met today

I got a call this morning from my colleague. She was busy with something else and wanted me to consult someone on some sort of investment he had in mind. I told the security man to let him in. In walks this short guy, with long hair to his back, fuzzy beard, a big-ass red head wear (ghutra) with no black top to keep it in place (uqal,) since it was invented after the prophet walked the earth, and short, dirty clothes (thoub.)

He took a seat, and after the prolonged hellos and how-are-you's, he went on to explain that he was interested in getting people's money and investing it. "Well, how?" I asked. He explained with very primal terms what he intended. I walked out and brought him back some standard conditions and consultation papers about Investment Banks since they were the only vehicle that can legally act as he explained. He looks at them and says"why is everything around here in english? I went to the Imam university.. I never learned English."

I go back to explaining different investment types, and he interrupts "You keep on saying end of the year, end of the year... Which one do you mean? Arabic or english?" Gregorian calender you caveman!! I explained that we use the satanic calendar, so he was like " what are we now, 7-7 ?" I was like "more like 9-aug." Very well. He finished explaining his bogus investment plans and asked "are you busy? I see you always looking at the door?" Honestly, I was nervous. I cant hold a straight face anymore. It's like avoiding mentioning a white elephant sitting in the living room.
He finished his session, and said "Can I ask you a personal question?" I thought he was going to ask about my Saudi Surname or something of that sort. I said Fine. He was like, its personal, wont you feel offended? I was wondering what he was up to. He was like "Are you sunni?" I was Shocked! I managed to squeak a yes.. He was like "yeah.. you look like one. Are there any rafitha around here?" Rafitha is a racist slang term used by wahhabis to label Shi'ites. It means rejects- rejecting true islam.
I was still shocked... I tried to say something... all I could manage was... We dont have this sort of stuff around here.... We are all one in front of God.

He said "No we're not!".... Gave me his back, and left.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Digital Hookers

We don't have a red-light district in Bahrain, but I think the phrase "sheesha-smoke district" will catch on soon. There are many different places, and their number is growing, that are dark enough, packed with covered whores, and horny customers that come from lands near and far. Everyone just has a sit, smokes away, and scans the bluetooth device. You can see a free market of interaction. Foreign men giving out their numbers, and luring night girls calling themselves all kinds of fancy attractive names, on the device of course.

Why do we have that? Namely, Qataris can't wait to cash in their paychecks to come over here. If your weekend is Fridays and Saturdays, you can see them driving all over town. Either chasing girls, or going to one of these places where girls chase money. Its redicilus. Is it because these girls are needy? Maybe... maybe not.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Mis-Management

WHAT THE FUCK WAS CALLING OFF THE VACATION ALL ABOUT?!?!
I mean, they said 3 days first, then they were like "oops.. changed our minds, we need you to come back tomorrow.." Is it like the dead fellow came back to life so you can cancell it? Did he like un-lid his grave and sit back on his wheelchair?
Its just redicilus! The Banks and the stockexchange were like a room full of deaf people taking directions from a blind man!
I understand that 5 days is too much... But the damage from this indecisiveness is BY FAR GREATER!! I mean how can you make payments to a counter-party that didnt get the message to come back to work this morning? Or how about my family members that left the stockexchange buy/sell orders hanging and went to dubai? Who's gonna pay us for the money we've lost?
BAD LEADERSHIP!!! You should've stuck to your guns! You made a mistake first, ok we understand. But changing gears like that threw us off-beat. You could've at least made the private sector come back to work on thursday, and announce it on the FIRST DAY, LOUD AND CLEAR, so most people at least can make arrangements to be there. Not call people the night before, "Ehh... I was wondering... would you like to show up tomorrow, or deduct it from your annual leave?"

I mean an error isnt a mistake, until you refuse to fix it. I mean what was hard about announcing the change of plan since the first day, and that thursday was the day back?


Offbeat: See you all at the bloggers' meetup. I might bring in a longtime reader, just not very familiar with the keyboard to leave comments :p

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The King has left the building

It took Saudi Arabia a full morning to confirm the King's death. I got a message close to 9, some people read it on the internet at 8, and others before that heard the Quran read on Saudi TV and assumed it at 6. The news was not confirmed until noon. Observers realize that he has passed away a while ago, but the Royal family had to draw the playing field and organize this and that in order to come close to a smooth transition. The royal family fued, terror threats, bitter-sweet relationship with America, and the Devout religious ideology has produced a secretive state that needs ten years to let go of a king (prince abdulla was the de facto ruler, and King Fahad was more of a string puppet, with his body parts pulled from upstairs to pretend he's moving.)

Lets compare that to Bill Clinton's ordeal. I mean when Kenneth Starr came out with the report that Mr. Clinton was in the oval office, with the door a bit open, getting "his penis stimulated" by miss Lewinsky, eating a slice of cold pizza, and on the phone with a congressman at 2 AM?!?!? First thing I thought of was what the fuck am I doing with my life? This guy doesnt have time for decent food or sex, just happy with the cold pizza and the fat chick while discussing welfare and labor reforms and I complain about waking up early? I mean it was humbling. The second thought I got was, isnt that taking the transparency thing too far? I mean, since when were the republicans the Taliban? Weren't they the party that favored individualism and privacy? Wasnt Raegen's slogan "get the government off my back?"

Anyway, back to topic. We have two pictures. The first is a pseudo-government that just bans the flow of information, unless it is pre-approved. Even then, it takes a whole morning to confirm the story from sources quoting sources. The second is a free flow of information, to the point that political figures are painfully not interesting, and people's lives are not interrupted by stopping the stream of live updates. I think the second bit is a healthier option.