Mercury's not the only thing that rises in the heat
Friday, May 29, 2009
But now these relationships are bound to get doomed with the proliferation of cyber-sex! a foregin and virulent phenomena to our society!!
The obvious question is, of course, how did the female writer get to know about the widespread evil practice? She preemptively anticipates this question and explains it.
It seems she had stumbled upon another Arab female who exists, as she says, on her MSN messenger's friends list. That other female gave her few hints about cyber-sex. Rania (the writer) was stunned and disgusted, but she nevertheless demanded an elaboration. And an elaboration she'll get.
The other anonymous female told her how she had cyber sex with many strangers. Things will usually begin with insinuations on public chat rooms. And then few clever hints that will probe the readiness of the other side for the e-love act. Once there's a clear receptiveness from both side to engage in the act, things will take a whole new turn for the better. And it goes downhill from there.
But it doesn't stop at that, this anonymous girl (who turned out to be from another arab country(not Syria)) had even had cyber-sex with other girls! (1!!11!). ZOMG, what's the world is coming to. Where are the morals? where are the manners?
The girl then goes on to explain that there are forums and facebook groups where the mere membership is a clear indication that the person behind the pseudo-name is ready to partake in the sin.
But here comes the punch line, the anonymous girl tells Rania that the real reason these groups (and their mission statements) are popular is because of the restrictions placed upon girls in the Arab worlds. Fears of getting caught, or getting caught on a camera, while engaging in a real sex act. Fears of persecution and, most of all, fears of 'honor' crimes.
Of course, Rania had checked and verified what the other girl had said by visiting these exact groups after they've got off-(no pun intended)-line.
Plug your ears then ladies and gentlemen for Rania will then go on a ramble about how our societies are disintegrating, and how our moral base is (sob, sob) getting diluted and undermined.
After she finishes her grief, she then asks an important question and, of course, fails to offer any answers or solutions. Clearly shelving her article under the 'rant' category.
"How do we protect our youth against these destructive practices?" (how about by keeping your mouth shut for a start?)
What the writer fails to highlight, among other things, is that grown-up individuals are free AND responsible human beings. Having the urge to have sex is not a heresy, it's only human. If a person X decides to have a consensual cyber-sex act, then who the FUCK are you to judge him/her? let people be. Get off your pedestal and examine your positions from a humanistic point of you. Having sex, or cyber sex, is, again, only human. The fact that the interaction is taking place through keyboards and fiber-optic cables, and that emotions and stimulations are being communicated in the form of words printed on a screen, is not really disastrous.
I would suggest that one way to curb cyber sex is to stop persecuting and harassing consensual adults who have sex in real life. But is that also the writer's own position? I doubt it.
What's next? an article warning of the pervasiveness of dildos in the Arab world? suggestions to rummage through women handbags as they come back from their overseas trips to find out whether they brought the contraband plastic dicks with them or not?
Give me a break.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
What he thought was funny is that I was concerned my raunchy SMSs, and with it details about my intimate life, would be disclosed to the population of the distant department.
What I was really ashamed off is the huge proportion of undeleted spam SMSs from Etisalat and co., compared to the tiny personal missives in my inbox.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Most of my time at home is either spent on the internet or on a book or on a domestic chore (which invariably include laundry, ironing, vacuum cleaning, watering the lone two plants in my possession and lemon peeling).
But remember that this is just what’s happening at home. When you’re a regular patron of a café or a pub, there are certain events on TV that you don’t want to miss. In my case these namely include the Semi Finals and Finals of every major soccer championship. They are just too interesting to miss, and too big and omnipresent to avoid. Yesterday was an exceptional day. Ever since my favorite hubbly-bubbly joint was overtaken by Indian stakeholders, the demographics had changed drastically. The pro-cricket (or kirket as Rosh would call it!) has become a staple on the sleek flat screen TV there. I didn’t mind at first. Let the boys come and watch. Although I had trillions of questions; like why the fuck a professional Indian cricket league is being played in South Africa? And what’s so special about hitting the stomps? And the most annoying observation: why some of these players are so FUCKING FAT?!
Upon posing these questions to friends who are in the know, I’ve learned that the professional Indian league involves players from around the world…etc… the stumps aren’t really that important, it’s more rewarding to hit the batting guy in the shin….etc…but the overweight remark seemed to draw the most amused reactions. It seems that kirket isn’t really that physically-demanding sport. In fact, it’s been invented by the lazy British aristocrats to leisurely spend their afternoon in a laid back activity.
Besides, look at all those fat-azz American baseball players; they’re even fatter than the Aussie cricket superstars.
At that point I’m having the urge to remind the interlocutor that baseball is actually an evolution of cricket, developed by the Yankees. With the most striking feature of variance being the round bat instead of the flat one….etc… Yawn.
Given the above, I’m going to ask you, my dear readers, a question that would require your full attention and brilliance: Yesterday, you may or may not know, had witnessed three major sporting events (as far as my hubbly-bubbly joint’s concerned); the finals of the Indian cricket league, a decisive match between Al Ahly and Al Ismaelie in the Egyptian football league, and the UAE pro-league finals between Al Ahly and Al Shabab. Now if I also give you the datum that there are only two TVs available, which 2 out of the above three events you think had eventually prevailed (or qualified) for viewing?
Ball's in your court.
Friday, May 22, 2009
I love his work. He's done quite a few inspiring modern structures in concrete, as well as few futuristic designs. You can check out his website here.
And if you live in Dubai, you have a chance of experiencing his work first hand. All you need to do is drive down to the Etisalat building on Al Maktoom Road and check it out. The signature building was designed by him in 1984. It'd be nice to visit Etisalat just for the heck of it, isn't it?
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
OK. So this is not a privatization per se. But it's a privatization of a service nonetheless. Ever since I've come to awareness, electric power was a public affair in Syria. Its hallmark being the network of saggy cables strung over huge wooden poles. In fact, one of those gigantic poles were right there in front of our old house. I could almost touch it from the balcony. I still remember noting as a kid that these poles weren't uniform in section nor in height. My father once told me they are shipped from the forested expanses of Europe. The noisy yellow transformers are also a landmark in the landscape of electricity in Syria. With the cautionary "Don't Approach. Risk of Death" signs all over them. ... and of course, the incessant, abrupt, infinite and not-so-eagerly awaited power outages.
I'm conflicted on this. Partly because we know that once the door is opened for private sector to operate public services, there's going to be more opportunities for exploitations. A larger room to hike prices haphazardly. And the possibility that those already employed in the said public sector would lose their jobs.
But I also know that private businesses in a healthy economy are good for employing qualified people and keeping the talent from migrating. Also, all other things being equal, there's a chance for better services, less breakdowns, more stable voltage...etc... And this is of course compared to the performance of government sectors. Government-managed businesses never really took the concept of 'customer service' to heart.
The official reason for this move is given as "private businesses are more dynamic than the government". hmmm. I will reluctantly agree. However, and with all due respect, this is not true for everywhere. Like here in Dubai there's a state-owned company called DEWA. (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority.) It's a profitable organization. And I'd rate their services as 'very good' to 'excellent'. What I'm trying to say is that governments can operate a profitable and efficient business. They're not always distined to fail. It's really our fault that we mismanage things, not the fault of the concept itself.
I tried to guide my group to a corner table, that way we could perpetrate our brutal eating act low-profile and off the radars of the prying eyes. But the manager of the office felt it was more appropriate that we be seen around the center. The bastard must have lunched on his wife cooking and was not that hungry. The disadvantages of being a single started to show a little bit. The food was great. The gang of the married questioned my enthusiasm to attack the Harees plate so fast. It was splendid. I have not learned the recipe yet, but I will tell you it's the tastiest thing I've eaten in a while. It’s the best local dish. Probably the best dish ever. The married warned of its aphrodisiac effects. That made me dig deeper still. It was then time to descend upon the grilled varieties. I had to loosen my belt at one point. Thank God for the loose and spacious tablecloth and its properties of concealment. Comparisons were being drawn between our own local wedding styles and this one. A Lebanese guy talked about how quiet it was compared to a Lebanese wedding party. I asked him whether they have Ra’es Arabiya (Arabic dance for men of Aleppo), or Tare’ Fashak (shooting celebratory rounds in the air from small firearms.) He didn’t know what ‘Fashak’ is. But when explained he said that in the southern suburbs of Beirut mere Fashak isn’t enough. RPGs, mortars and probably Katiushas are the basic gear. The architects in the group started giving out unsolicited feedback on the decoration of the hall. We kept on goading and teasing the structural engineer about the huge columns-free span. It was all good hearted and easy. A skinny Indian guy (who had actually got skinner after the dinner) said that their weddings are mostly mix gendered. A manager of a distant department in our group of companies brought his son, a 6’8” guy from Pakistan. He was commended on the good job of bringing up this handsome dude. Who must go to Bollywood to capitalize on his handsomeness....etc...
Once finished, we filed out of the dining hall and shook hands with the same dignitaries in reverse order. All in all it was a very good and easy flowing event. if I’m invited again I’d gladly oblige. Although I'm still not sure whether this is merely a formal wedding dinner (which is more likely to be followed by many offshoot parties), or whether this is the one and only event in the whole thing.
Oh, and the shrimps were superb…
Needless to say, it was real hard to go to sleep at night. Scenes of debauchery kept flashing back and forth.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Plainly, most of Sanderson’s huge number of online fans didn’t feel the need to rush out and buy her book, and if the Amazon reviews are to be trusted, many traditional readers who came to the book without knowing the blog first found its tone off-putting. This goes to the heart of the blog/book conundrum: we read different forms differently, and with different expectations. It’s hard to say why a revelation that seems spontaneous and witty in a blog comes across as trivial and self-absorbed in print – but it does.
Of course, blogs aren’t the only brand of publisher catnip in the Web 2.0 shop. Random House Children’s Books recently signed a deal to reissue a classic book from 1971, A Lion Called Christian, after a two-minute YouTube clip devoted to the book was watched by more than 44 million people when it was posted last summer. How long before authors start posting trailers or animated storyboards of their novels in the hope that publishers will see them?
How long you're asking? Really? I wonder where does Mr. John O'Connell live. Best-selling fiction authors have been posting promotional trailers on Youtube for their upcoming novels for few years now.
In Repressionstan the crime is on the rise: kidnaps, homicides, child abuse, bloody fistfights, heists, daylight burglaries, corruption, arbitrary imprisonment..etc... People are getting sick of it. And they're getting angry. But there's much more prevalent feeling than just anger. It's FEAR. Fear that things could get worse. And fear that if they raise their voices above the permissible decibels, there are goons with heavy hands who'd like nothing more than to, at the slightest of transgression, pull out some tongues.
So the people sit around in funerals, mourning whoever it was the victim of this vicious crime wave that day. With Holy Scripture recitations blaring from loud speakers. Their sombre faces telling the tale. The first one looks at the one next to him and wonders silently: how did we end up here? More looks are exchanged. Unspoken words ring louder than the loud speakers themselves: how did we end up here? When their gatherings break up, everybody goes back home to whatever he's used to doing. Smoking hooka or cracking sunflower seeds. Or watching the latest soup opera. Or watching a movie. What's wrong with watching a movie? You see real cops chasing criminals. You see crime and corruption getting reported in a free and bold press. You see a lot of nice things and then the movie ends. something to talk about tomorrow with a fellow Repressionstani. No more dwelling over the real sad events of the day. No use, becuase that might elicit feelings of helplessness, and they really don't like to feel helpless, the good people of Repressionstan. They drift off to sleep, and to dream.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
مايهمش انت مين
Who Ever I Dont Care
مولود في قلب حارة او كنت ابن وزير
لو لابس دبلة فالصو او خاتم سوليتير
لو تشرب معدنية او جنب بيتكو زير
تمشي في نادي الجزيرة بالبلادورك الخطير
او غيه بغداديه بأنواع حمام كتير
زاجل او كان مراسله شقلباظ يقلب يطير
كركندي عبسي مصري اواكشاك بطراطير
بتقسط كل حاجة او كان كاشك وفير
بتضرب كورس ديكا او هرمونات كتير
او منفض للرياضة كورسات وصراصير
لو تاكل توست ماركة اغلي من دستة فطير
او تاكل المدعم في طابور مالوش نظير
لو ابيض شق لفت او اسود فحم جير
لو اقرع زلابطة او شعرك فوق غزير
عندك عربية كارو او عربيه بشوفيير
لو كنت بتحكي عربي او تحكي لغات كتير
بتسمع باند غربي او طبل وزمامير
لو كنت دا او دا وفي لحظة انا فيها فير
دى اهم حاجة فيك وبقولهاEvery Where
جدعان طيبين وبقلب ابيض كبير
جدعان مية مية قلوبهم عمرانة خير
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Aedas are bunch of architects. (website here)
Broadway Malyan are architects and urban designers. (website here)
So now that the confusion over the real activities of those Companies is over, (only as far as me and my lucky readers are concerned!) let's see what they are saying.
Aedas Business Development Manager for the Development of heritage sites (I'm quoting the title verbatim from the article) said: "we've come here to look for opportunities in the areas of transportation and the construction of high and mid-rise towers"
If I am to trust the reporting of Syrianews, something the above goof doesn't really encourage, then I'm really scared; a head of development for Heritage Sites is looking to build high and mid-rise towers. Wouldn't you be scared yourself, ladies and gentlemen?
Haven't we got enough goons screwing around our old towns already?
Ah ok. Since I'm still skeptical this is what has really been said, I'll leave it at that. The developer of heritage sites and high-rise towers also said: "British companies are looking for other projects to cater to the urban developments market in Syria"
Despite the world-wide drop in real-estate prices, Syria hasn't been affected much.
Angela Manthorpe added that: "initial studies have shown that Syria is in need of 5 stars hotels and big housing projects". Now we're in business, I totally agree.
She also said: "we're now looking for Syrian partners to work together in the urban development sector, and to explore new frontiers inside and outside Syria". There's a caveat here of course, 'foreign' companies, as far as I know, can't operate inside Syria without a local agent. This local partner is usually a stuffy and stupid Ph.D holder in engineering, who's also a manager of one of the numerous engineering units (wihdat handaseya) in Syrian universities.
On the other hand, a director from Broadway Malyan was asked what was he doing there, said his "company wants to work on reviving (renovating) the old city of Damascus, in addition to other projects".
He also said that his company would like to work on revamping the illegal housing areas (basically, the slums), in case the Syrian Government had agreed to work with them.
Talking about the slums is a very emotional subject, whether in Syria or anywhere else. There are so many factors involved. Revamping and regulating the slums isn't only an urban development endeavor. An area of illegal and deteriorating housing conditions is nothing but a symptom of a serious illness, namely poverty and overpopulation. It's going to take years of hard work only to STOP the slums from growing bigger. We'd be fooling ourselves if we thought things will improve by a little surgeries and facelifts here and there. We've seen it elsewhere, if you simply raze the slump and replace it with better housing you're only dispersing the problem and moving it somewhere else.
The guy from Broadway Malyan added: "it's possible to work in the business of luxurious housing, however, the residences of normal people have to be taken into account, too"
A word of advice to whoever is going to work with the aforesaid Consultants (with the bigger C): look at their portfolios. Reviving an old town is a delicate job and it is not for first-timers. I'm not against a foreign company doing it, on the contrary, I acknowledge the experience and the credentials wherever I see them.
I'm actually quite worried that we won't be able to put together a team with adequate expertise to act as a counterpart for the foreigners.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Anyway, now I'm at a stage in one of the projects (or the poor project is at one stage with me), that I need to procure ELEVATORS. Yes, you heard that right. See, any elevator has finished walls; most of time ornate with combination of mirrors, wooden arabesque, or hairline stainless steel patterns. Or the elevator could simply be a panoramic one where you'd have to think of a transparent material that could bend nicely (glass usually gets wavy when it's bent). And don't forget the flooring, the indicator panels and the call buttons please, they're part of the overall color-scheme/finishes of the building. So you see, there's lots of architecture in an elevator.
But compared with the other things that come together to make an elevator (shit, that sounded like one of the stuck-up presenters of Business Breakfast), architecture is a very small part. There are many many features and options available that you could almost get lost. Fuzzy Logic, triple-action algorithm, destination-controlled elevators....etc.... You can always resort to the main stream, safe and least problematic features, but where's the fun in that? if everyone doing a task X ended up doing it exactly like the guy who'd last done it, task X would never move forward.
ehmm.. so yours truly is trying to do things a little more creatively; so I'm going to ask you, dear readers, to tell me about your own experiences with elevators; the pleasant ones and the bad ones. And give me suggestions: do you, for instance, propose an internal glass partition within every elevator to segregate men from women? or are you a proponent of defining elevators, like tellers' counters at Carrefuer, on the basis of sex, age, weight... and probably smell?
Can't wait to hear from you...
P.S. the project I'm working at is a 4-stars Shari'a-complied hotel.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Thursday, May 07, 2009
It’s quite annoying that three out of four in the semi finals were English teams. I mean, the premier league is jolly good and all but look at the English national team itself. When was the last time they did anything impressive? When was the last time they played well on a European level or otherwise? have they really ever bothered to try anything but their hideous and pompous style of longish and ostentatious passes and aimless headers? It’s no surprise English stadia produce the most violent crowd in the world. Fans’ expectations are tuned to the level of performance of English teams, who in turn are mostly dependant on professional non-English players. So when the English national team finally plays, high expectations remain, but mediocre performance prevails. Crowds get the fury.
Although I work out regularly, I’m not a sport fanatic, so I don’t follow news. But I heard a snippet on BBC couple of days that the English Football Association is trying to limit the number of foreign players per team in the premier league… and the reason they’re doing this??? …yes, you guessed that right. It’s because of the ridiculous disparity in performance between English teams and the English national team. So expect the premier league to plummet down in quality. It’s good news though; international professional players are better off playing elsewhere anyway. At least, Drogba would have kept his sanity.
P.S. unless you’re rooting for Barca and wishing it utterly destroys the other team (I flinch at the mention of their name), you’re better advised not to comment on this post. ‘cause Hooligans’ style violence might ensue.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Scenario no. 2: She’s pregnant. A by-product of a forbidden love or an illicit relationship. She can’t have the baby. It will be a constant episode of public disgrace. She aborts early. Case closed.
Scenario no. 3: she’s pregnant. A by-product of a forbidden love or an illicit relationship. She can’t have the baby, for the same above-said reasons. But she can’t muster the determination to abort. When the male-dominated family circle finds out from the bulge in her abdomen, a little arrangement is made and the problem is taken care of for good. The state won’t object much; the state is usually sympathetic.
Scenario no. 4: she’s pregnant. A by-product of the same above-said relationship. She can’t have the baby for the same above-mentioned reasons. But abortion for her is ruled out. The males-dominant family circle finds out soon but they’re sympathetic and understanding. A healthy baby is born and registered. The mother goes to jail for committing adultery. The biological father may not be ‘man’ enough to face the music and show up. So the family brings the baby up on there own, but public disgrace is the inseparable companion of the family and the baby girl and the mother for years to come.
Which one of the above-mentioned fucked-up scenarios is easier to live through for all parties involved?
Monday, May 04, 2009
However in this case, I can celebrate a small bloggerish victory, although I can't confirm or know for sure whether my raising the issue on an online venue had any bearing on the Dubai Municipality decision (see link below), I am at liberty to think so until I'm shown proof to the contrary. Here's the relevant excerpt from the post (edited to suit the context):
There's a new, massive, revolutionary and state-of-the-art service the DM (Dubai Municipality) is introducing: online submission of drawings. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. We no longer need to print 100s of sheets and carry bundles like porters to the DM HQ. We only need to follow a simple procedure. But it's not really simple. I refuse to utilize a singular adjective to describe it. Even 'complicated' falls short. Now before we submit our lovely drawings we need to 'convert' them to DWF format. (my brethren-in-the-craft of you will know that we do handle all our files in DWG format; the standard Computer-Aided-Design software file extension). But we can't convert to DWF right away. We need to arrange all sheets in a layout format. Fix the size. The size does really matter, you know. There are few standard sizes for any engineering drawings. A0-A1-A2-A3...etc.. Once the size is fixed, we go on about converting. Once the conversion is complete, we go on about uploading our files to the DM website. Once we hit the crucial button of 'submit', a DM engineer will be notified. One engineer at each department, actually. And they will review our drawings. 99% of the cases they will have comments. When the comments show up on the system once again (one of the advantages of it, I must concede) we travel to DM HQ, our hands flailing empty at our sides (because the submission is electronic, no need to haul drawings) to meet the engineer, check up on him/her, send out some feelers about what mood he/she might be in, and then discuss the comments (which we already know and are prepared for, thanks to the genius of the system).
This process of online submission was explained to us (engineering consultants) by one of the DM long term experts and, to give credit where credit is due, one experienced and old-school engineer who knows what he's talking about, most of the time. We were in a packed Al Madina hall. There was a cacophony of protests and grumbles of disappointment when he finally declared the importance of the size: "if there was one single discrepancy in the sheets' size of your submission, you will lose the submission and all the subsequent approvals, and most of all, you'll lose the deposit ...."
Let me tell you about the money. The deposit is intended to make sure that the client --the owner of the plot of land-- is serious about his intention to build the aforesaid plot. The deposit is calculated on the basis of square foot of what we call 'built-up area'. Simply put, it's the collective floor area of the building you're designing. The deposit can amount to hundreds of thousands of Dirhams in case of big projects.
Today, I read in the ameinfo.com website, rather belatedly, that the entire concept of 'Insurance Deposit', which I've explained above, has been scraped.
Dubai Municipality abolishes insurance for approving building plans
Eng. Hussein Nasser Lootah, Director General of Dubai Municipality, has issued a decision cancelling the insurance amount, which was required at the time of approving building plans.
Again, I can't claim that my post had anything to do with this positive change, but at least I now know the complaint was legitimate.
By the way, this should also have a positive effect on the construction market, albeit a mild one, since cash-flow is a concern for most of the developers and builders right now.