Saturday, December 31, 2005

The New Year

NP - O-Hum - Hafez In Love

First of all, happy new year everyone. Second of all, who cares. I remember when we were younger - say 15, 16, life was so different. We made such a big deal of 'adult' things. Cool people smoked shisha. Cool people had ciggies. Cool people went to new year parties.

Now its so different. Now we're all sick of shisha - its far overrated. The ones who smoke wish they never picked it up, and the ones who are all into new year parties complain about how boring they are, and how they just aren't in the mood.

I've never been a party-goer. One, its just not me, two, paying 60 rials to get into the Hyatt for some party I dont give two shites about seems a little mad to me. Seriously, whats the point. I know you've heard it all before, but tomorrow will be just another day. Its just an excuse to party, and these days nobody I know can be bothered.

But! For the first time, I'm thinking of making resolutions this year. Not changes really, just things I want to do. Like tour Europe, or learn horse-riding and that. Just to remind myself of these things I guess. I wont write them now though, prob in the first few days of next year (which is an hour away right now).

Hmm. I guess it would be worth thinking back on the year. It was without a doubt my most difficult year to date. For some reason my mind tends to think of years as academic years, so when I think back to, say, April or May, I feel like its 'last year'. Anyway. First year of uni finished this year, with two absolutely insane exam periods. I had to grow up quick and start to take care of myself. Gained a lot of independence, and went through some intense personal issues. Halfway through my 2nd year of uni now (which is actually 3rd year, if you're thinking the US system - the UK system has a grade 13 which is equivalent to 1st year uni...so I'm a 3rd year basically - one more year to go), and the workload is absolutely nuts. Its fun, but insane. Maybe its me thats insane, who knows. Maybe 2005 was the year that I lost my mind. If thats the case, then 2006 will be the year that I lose my soul.



I can't wait! Happy New Year all! :D

Posted by illogicist at 10:53 AM 7 comments

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Why Do Women Hate Us??

NP - Burst - Vertigo

I've lived most of my life in the Middle East. I talk to people, stay up to date with blogs, etc. It seems to me that women hate men here.

Sure, in the UK, you get tons of feminists and that. You even get the wacko crazy militant feminazis we like to make fun of. You don't get them in Oman (although if this were a freer society I'm pretty sure you would), but it seems to me a lot of the women in Oman have a strong feminist streak, perhaps a bit stronger than common sense would dictate. I'm talking about situations where women make judgements about situations without knowing the full story, naturally assuming that its the man's fault, sometimes to the point of ridiculousness.

Whyyy the hate? Is it something we've done? Actually, it probably is. In my experience I've found out that what Newton said is true: every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The feminazi was probably raped by her father as a child. Similarly, the self-proclaimed feminist, whos proud of being overly feminist, was probably hurt in the past by an ex-boyfriend, or something similar, right?

So is this a Middle East trend, or a global trend? Thats what I'm trying to assess - are ME women MORE prone to excessive feminism than, say Western women? Opinions would be appreciated.

Posted by illogicist at 2:37 AM 9 comments

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Good, Bad

Before lunch, I wanted to write a blog post about a guy I know whos been the object of frequent discussions with my family this week. I wanted to talk about 'good' and 'bad' people, and how to classify them. This post will focus on that, but I want to mention something that happened right after lunch. I was reading this book that starts talking about time and space and metaphysics, and goes on to link that with morality and, eventually, God. After reading all that I realised two things:

i] The nature of God and the universe can only be so infinitely complex that its impossible for any human being to understand even the most abstract framework of how it all works. I guess we all already know this, but its an interesting reminder.

ii] More relevant to this post, 'good' and 'bad' are so much harder to define than how we use them in our everyday thoughts and words.

Anyway, all that deserves a post in itself, and right now I don't have the time. About this guy, he's quite a good friend of mine, I like him a lot. I wouldn't describe us as close, but we do hang out, when we're both in the country. Anyway, I was talking to my mom about him, and she's like so is he a good guy?

First reaction: yeah, of course hes a good guy...
Second reaction: ...or maybe not.

What makes a good guy a good guy? This guy's done all the shizzle: drink drugs sex etc. Its becoming increasingly common to find people like that, and I've learned not to judge people in such a way. Sure it reflects badly, but the only damage their doing is to themselves. It most certainly does not make them 'bad people'.
So, in my head I defined what doesnt make someone bad, what DOES make them bad? Doing bad acts, of course, acts that hurt others. Does that mean doing good acts, acts of charity and the like, does that mean people who do good acts are good people? Maybe!

What about people who dont do neither bad nor good? Are they bad or good people? In my mind, I decided that they were neither bad nor good :p They were 'alright', 'decent', whatever. This particular guy strikes me as the type. He doesnt go out of his way to hurt people (although he will occasionally have a laugh at the expense of others, as I suspect we all do now and then!), but he doesnt go out of his way to help them. In fact, I dont think he goes out of his way at all, ever.

Not bad, not good. Its funny how we like to group people like that. I suppose its not so easy after all.

Posted by illogicist at 6:17 AM 6 comments

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas =)



Well, just want to say Merry Christmas to all, even if some of us dont celebrate the 'religious' aspect, we can still appreciate that its a time to be generous and loving.

Thats what I love about Xmas in the UK - its probably the happiest time of the year. Everyone is happy, everyone treats everyone else well, etc. Its all cool. Theres a measure of that here as well, as we have a significant Christian minority in the country. While Xmas is ridiculously commercialised, I dont mind too much I suppose, as long as, for a few days/weeks, people seem to be happier!

Posted by illogicist at 12:23 AM 2 comments

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Oman Effect

Zing! The boredom strikes. I'm out with friends I haven't seen in forever, a mini reunion, having a good time, when suddenly the boredom, the unique Omani boredom, strikes. I was doing so well too - a week without that frustrating feeling almost...on a roll. But it has come, and one must live with it.

*sigh*

Posted by illogicist at 11:40 AM 6 comments

Monday, December 19, 2005

Redi-what??

http://www.englishsabla.com/forum/showthread.php?p=598328#post598328

Aye, I second that. I've noticed that a lot of people spell it 'rediculous'. Now its okay if its a simple typo, and I'm annoying like this (I correct people), but I've also noticed it spreading, and its worrying.




Ridiculous =)

Posted by illogicist at 10:16 AM 6 comments

Qatar Airways, Dick Cheney and Sand, Sand, Sand

The flight back was a nightmare. Cutting a long story short, A flight that was bad enough already got worse when we started circling the coast of Oman near Al-Bustan for about half an hour. There were a number of interesting characters on the plane, one of whom was one of the Omani national football team players, and another was an Omani girl from my uni (if ur reading this, say hi :P). Anyway, what is supposed to be a one-hour flight quickly became a 2 hour one, and people were getting agitated. The omani football dude asked the air-hostess what was the hold-up, and she said we would land now.
But we didn't. We circled that area a few more times before the captain made an announcement: there had been an emergency in Seeb International, and we were being diverted to Al-Ain. Al-Ain! I hadn't slept all night, everytime I even closed my eyes the dreams would start, and here we were flying BACK to Al-Ain!
So we fly to Al-Ain. I didnt even know Al-Ain had an 'international airport', so I wasn't too suprised to see that the 'airport' wasn't much more than a hangar and an airstip in the midst of miles and miles of beautiful, unspoiled desert sands. It would have been wonderful, if it wasn't so pathetic.
So we're all sitting in the plain in Al-Ain. Tired, hungry, annoyed, but for some reason everyone was in good spirits. The air hostesses and host-dudes were chatting with everyone, being as helpful as they could. They opened the plane doors and stuff so we could get some fresh air. People started gathering in groups and chatting and stuff, it was actually kinda nice. Somehow, it felt like we were hostages, but in a really relaxed situation, lol.
News on the street (or on the aisle, in this case) was that a military plane had landed in Oman, but landed 'badly' and there were ambulances and stuff. Later I find out that Dick Cheney had made a suprise visit to Oman on his way to Iraq in some military plane. So its like everyone bugger off, clear the airways, close the airport, Big Dick is coming through. Why didn't he go to some Omani military airstrip? Why weren't we diverted to closer airstrips? God knows. Qatar Airways lost a ton of money on each passenger because of this unplanned detour - something like 200-300 rials per person on that plane. Who's carrything those costs? Qatar Airways. Not the airport, or Big Dick himself, but Qatar Airways. Madness really.
Anyway, after some 2 hours in Al-Ain, we finally flew back to Oman. I think by that time I had hit the 30 hours without sleep point (can't sleep while travelling), and I was beyond tired...to the point I wasn't tired anymore. Got home....slept anyway. :p

Ahhh, good to be back!

EDIT: oh, and the worst part is, at the END of the flight, the pilot is like 'Thank you for flying Qatar Airways, we hope you enjoyed your journey with us.' :p

PS - All the blame of this incident goes to Dick Cheney and the Oman Airport authorities. Qatar Airways did a great job with us and have no blame in this incident - just to make that clear. They're awesome :D

Posted by illogicist at 7:08 AM 9 comments

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Omaaaarghhhnnnn....

NP - Katatonia - Leaders

Its that time again - time to go home. For three weeks, I get to kick back, enjoy mama's cooking, and live that lazy life. After the monstrous 4 month summer, 3 weeks seems like nothing really, but hopefully it'll be a chance to catch my breath before my semester exams. There will be study of course, but there will also be seeing my closest friends - one of which I havent seen in almost 2 years. So it'll be great. Also good to see family as well, of course - I miss 'em obviously. I'm hoping to meet a few particular Sabla members as well, so that should be good. There'll also be some politics to deal with undoubtedly, a bit of business that never seems finished. But thats expected - overall I'm expecting a great holiday!
*puts on Hawaiian shirt, silly shorts and sandals*

Oman, here I come! =D

Posted by illogicist at 4:57 PM 5 comments

Revenge!

NP - Rammstein - Te Quiero Puta

Remember that group of math students I complained about a few weeks ago? The loud ones...yeah, them :D So today after lunch three of them are sitting in my favourite area again. One really large girl, a cute girl, and some loud, Know-it-all guy (whenever one asks him a question, he starts lecturing them about the question, I'm suprised they still talked to him). Anyway, so I go and sit down, and as expected, they're LOUD. Theres a group studying right next to the them and they were like whispering, while these idiots are practically shouting. One keeps displaying his frustration about the homework by knocking on the table or ripping pages loudly out of his copy book. So what do I do?

:D I tell them to shut the hell up! :D muahahaha....Ok, what I really did was say 'excuse me, can you guys...keep it down? You know there are other people studying here, right?'

Oh sweet, sweet victory. Two of them didn't even look at me - couldn't, I should say. They shut up, alright! The third one, the cute girl, kinda looked at me sheepishly, and then looked down and mumbled an apology.

I was so hyped by that I couldnt study :p 20 minutes later I went home cause I was too giddy, lol. But I think that cute girl had something for me ;) She was fidgeting with her phone at one point, with the camera bit pointed at me. When I would look up she would kinda shift it up so it wasn't pointed at me, but move it back when I looked down again. :p Cute. I wonder if my outburst had that effect that u get in the movies, where it attracts them. She's cute, I wouldn't mind if she was attracted to me, but God, shes so loud and ANNOYING I think if I actually had to spend more than 5 minutes talking to her I would throttle her. But all this is beside the point, hopefully they learned their lesson!! *happy*

Posted by illogicist at 6:25 AM 6 comments

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Does Distance Strenghten or Weaken Relationships?

NP - Nickelback - Someday

You hear stories of both. 'Absence makes the heart grow fonder', and yet 'out of sight, out of mind'. (dont you just love that - conflicting proverbs). So what is it then?

Obviously both. Does it depend on the person? I think, at least to some extent, it does. I'm trying to think of what it is in a person that would make them grow closer or further to someone far away, but I cant think of what quality it is. Maybe its sentimentality - as you think of the 'good times', you wish they were still around. Who knows.

It also depends on what type of relationship you're talking about. Friendship, or couples? You hear countless stories of couples that couldn't handle the distance, and ultimately broke up (whether by mutual agreement, or one cheating on the other - or both). You hear the odd story here and there of the couple that stayed together through it all, and got married in the end (I've personally heard one or two myself, and its always good to hear it). But what about normal friendships? When you and your best friend go your separate ways, be it for uni or for work or whatever, what happens then? Do you store the past somewhere in your heart and move on, make new friends, and in time forget the old? Or do you keep in contact with the old, regular contact, and become closer than you ever were? Again, I've heard stories of both. And what scares me is - without realising - forgetting the old. It hasn't happened yet, but one day my 'new' friends will become 'old' friends, as I graduate and work god-knows where. What then?

Posted by illogicist at 2:24 PM 6 comments

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Women and Minority Representation

NP - Coheed and Cambria - Willing Well IV: The Final Cut

Always an important issue: to what extent should women and minorities be guaranteed representation? By that I'm talking about, for example, government policies that require a certain number of jobs to be held by women, or places reserved for minorities in universities (the policy is just the opposite in Oman when it comes to minorities, but thats a different story). The question is, by putting a quota, i.e. at least so-and-so many minorities must have places in a certain university, do you solve the problem? Or is it just a superficial measure thats just for show?

Its very possible that, due to this policy, a very intelligent non-minority individual does not get the job because a less intelligent minority person got it, which is hardly fair. On the other hand, if minorities are not guaranteed places, then those less financially sound have less chances to get into universities and such, even if they truly deserve to.

Theres no easy answers here. What do you guys think is the best way to deal with this problem? (note: try not to think of Oman as the place in question, because things there work somewhat differently, as mentioned)

Posted by illogicist at 10:27 AM 0 comments

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Lethargic Housemates!

Its 4pm, almost sunset. My housemates are still asleep, save one, whos just having 'breakfast'. This is not unusual. Its the norm these days, and I can go for days without seeing one of them. I can't figure out WHY this happens - I wake up at 10am and I feel I've woken up late! What time do these guys sleep, I wonder, seriously. I guess we all just have our own schedules...

Posted by illogicist at 7:56 AM 3 comments

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Public Service Announcement

I've changed my display name to illogicist (from Z), so those who have linked their blogs to mine, please update! Thanks. =)

Posted by illogicist at 3:52 PM 10 comments

Friday, December 02, 2005

Oprah is tops with young Saudi women

I know my blog has some Oprah fans - this is for you! (lifted from the Wall Street Journal) [PS I typed this up by hand, show ur appreciation by leaving some comments :P] :

==================================
By Yasmine Al-Rashidi

More than a year after the pan-Arab satellite station MBC started broadcasting 'Oprah' on its Channel 4, it made a discovery: the show's ratings were higher than those of any other English-language show. The interest was coming from an untapped audience in teh largest country in theri coverage area: young Saudi Arabian women. And wht these younger women wanted was even more 'Oprah', as well as other programs like it.
"We found Oprah to be the biggest hit with out viewers," says Andrew Maskall, margeting manager for MBC 2 and 4, which are based in nearby Dubai. "It helped us identify a commercia gap in the market." Almost a third of Saudi Arabi's population of 26 million people are women under 25 years old. MBC4's target audience is 18-25 year olds.
When it discovered the popularity of Oprah, MBC also learned that a group of women commonly perceived as sheltered and conservative were actually identifying with the same issues as women around the world. So along with puttign Oprah at the heard of its new programming on MBC 4 - the show now airs twice a day, five days a week - MBC decided to rebrand MBC4 to specifically target young Saudi women. "We realised theat theyre our core audience," MR. Maskall says.
Making Oprah the centerpiece of the network is hardly a risk-free strategy. Oprah Winfrey is a sore spot for many Saudis. Earlier this year, in a show on "Women Across The Globe", she included Saudi TV presenter Rania Al-Baz among the 11 interviewees sharing uplifting stories. Ms. Al-Baz made headlines in KSA last year when she was nearly beaten to death by her husband. Of he 11 interviews, hers was the only tale of abuse. After sharign ictures of the broadcaster in a bruised and tattered state, Ms. Winfrey said "Thank God we live in America."
In the avalanche fo criticism of Ms. Winfrey that followed, one Saudi columnist wrote, "Oprah is like a sieve that tells the needle that it has a hole in it. It would have been better if she had spent the time and money for this segment on doing a serice to her own society, and on revealing the true situation in that society."

...

In any case, Ms. Akeel, says, the criticism has done nothing to diminish Oprah's appeal to young Saudi women. "So often conversations among young women start with 'Did you see Oprah last night?' " She addresses the issues that Saudi media don'y, an the issues that are on these women's minds."
MBC, which is privately owned by Saudi nationals, teamed up with Jeddah-based advertising agency 3Points to produce the station's new identity, using the slogan, "it's for you!" The Sauid agency is working with young Saudi women to addres their needs without offending them. Because showing faces in public is banned for religious reasons in Saudi Arabia, for example, an avune to reach women needed to be found.

...

The ads show Saudi women adhering to conservative dress codes - fully covered with none of their hair showing - but with a modern touch: colorful backgrounds, vibrant smiles and clear body language. "The girls in the ads are covered up, but in a very fashionable way," Mr. Maskall says. All the shows on MBC4 are broadcast in their original english with arabic subtitles.

... (article continues).

===================

So there you go. I found that very interesting, and from what I've seen it applies to more than just Saudi Arabia, but to the Gulf in general, and possibly further in the Arab world as well.

*rests fingers after that...*

Posted by illogicist at 9:29 AM 6 comments

CIA Head on Torture


I was reading the Wall Street Journal Europe over lunch just now (5pm - late lunch...missed lunch because of shopping), and I came across this article which I found interesting. Its parts of an interview with CIA head Porter Goss. Heres interesting bits of it....the first one is about the US having 'secret' prisons in certain Eastern European (and other) states:

'Asked why the US needed secret prisons, Mr. Goss said: "We're fighting a war on terror. We're doing quite well in it. Inevitably, we aer going to have to capture some terrorists, and inevitably, they are going to have to have some due proces, and inevitably, that is going to happen, and its going to be done lawfully under all of the law and order and protections of due process that this country affords."'

Thats a very ambiguous statement, and to be honest I cant make heads or tails of it. It doesnt answer why they need to be secret, why they need to be abroad in countries with shady legal systems. And whats more suprising is the international community's suprising and yet obvious lack of genitalia when dealing with the issue:

'On Monday, the European Union's justice commissioner, Franco Frattini, warned that he would call on the organisation to suspend the voting rights of any EU member state found to have hosted a secret CIA prison in violation of EU human-rights principles.'

Notice the absolute lack of condemnation about the actual practice of these secret prisons. Not a word is said about the US having these prisons, no sir, only about the EU countries that host them.

I quite like what Goss said about torture (like=its funny):

'Regarding torture, the CIA director said: "What we do does not come close because torture, in terms of inflicting pain or something like that, physical pain or causing a disability, those kinds of thigns that probably would be a common definition for most Americans, sort of, you know it when you see it, we don't do that because it doesn't get you what you want."

Of course it doesnt, sunshine. All that gets you is needless hassle and finger pointing. Notice how first he twists and distorts the definition, rather clumsily, to be only physical pain or disability. He doesnt include mental pain, or the kind of thing that doesnt leave a mark. He then goes on to relate that to the common definition of most Americans. The common definition of torture is the most extreme case: finger screws and what not - but thats not all torture is. The cherry on top is where he says they dont do it because "it doesnt get you what you want". I think that might be something of a slip - hes basically said they dont do it not because its immoral, but because its impractical. It takes little effort to make the assumption that, were it useful, they would use it (according to his words). He later reiterates this by saying "...we do not do it because its counterproductive."

Hmmm. Conclusion: if we were to assume the truth is being told (and that is what we must do in this kind of analysis, else its pointless), we need to take it apart word for word, which is what I've tried to do, and what I find is that, to me, hes essentially skirted the topic of secret prisons and torture. Hes defined each of them in very strict, unrealistic terms (in the case of prisons hes just gone all over the place), and according to those terms, denied any wrongdoing. Which doesnt necessarily mean nothing wrong has been done.

Posted by illogicist at 9:10 AM 0 comments

Thursday, December 01, 2005

My David Cameron Rant

Two points: first, I very rarely research my blog posts. My posts are not strictly opinions, simply the way my mind leans concerning a particular topic here and now. I usually will research the topics after my post. Second, this post is about David Cameron, potential head of the Conservative Party in the UK. Whether you agree or disagree with this post depends largely on how you view politics and political parties as a whole. If you aren't interested, now would be a good time to go to the next blog on your list.



Thats David Cameron, a candidate for the top job in the Conservative Party in the UK, and hence a possible candidate for Prime Minister come the next General Elections. If you compare him to the old Tory head, this guy:



You quickly realise that they are quite different.

Cameron promotes himself as a reformer of the tories (conservative party). The tories have a bad record in the general elections of recent years (see: tony blair) and Cameron wants to be the one to change that.

Nothing wrong with trying to get your party to win, but how? Generally speaking, for an individual (forget politics for a second) to become more popular he has to either:

i] Learn to communicate better - get people to understand him, or
ii] Compromise himself in order to gain acceptance.

Unfortunately, I feel Mr. Cameron has chosen the latter path, which involves 'selling out' Tory values and ideals, broadly speaking. Now, I'm not a conservative, never have been and god forbid ever will be. But I do believe in standing your ground. If someone believes in something, and is convinced by it, I believe they should stick to it, and not compromise it for others. Its like religion I suppose: I prefer the Christian/Buddhist/Jew, hell even the Athiest who has done their homework and firmly believes what they believe (provided they are open minded about everything else) than the Muslim who compromises himself to be accepted. Same holds in politics for me.

The problem is that Mr. Cameron doesn't even hide it. He openly talks about moving the Conservative party more to the center (just as Tony Blair did with 'New Labour', moving it further from its roots in the left towards the center) in order to capture a bigger vote. Its like a normal distribution - the majority of voters in the center. If you stick to the left or right, you capture less voters. So, in order to win elections, you compromise some of your principles and move to the center.



So, as I said before, its all about how you see politics. If you see political parties as being means to serve people, then you'll disagree with me. But if you see parties as being about representing certain views and principles, you'll probably agree with me when I say that ideally parties shouldnt be about winning elections but providing fair representation to whatever group of people you're representing.

Posted by illogicist at 11:56 AM 2 comments

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