Tuesday, February 28, 2006

We Get Political

While many universities are hotbeds of political activity, mine is surprisingly calm. When I first came I expected lots and lots of political activity, as that was how I was led to believe universities were like. But in mine, there was nothing - almost no political activity. In the 'bunfight' - the display of all the societies in the uni - the socialist groups were next to the conservative groups, having a good chat. Labour was next to the Tories. It seemed that none of it was serious.

But this week, we got political. This week, the whole university was talking about politics and elections and manifestos and voting. This week is...Students Union Elections. Yippee doo.

To be honest, they are a bit of a joke. Nothing changes from year to year (except events at the university nightclub), the campaigns have no substance (VOTE BIG CHRIS - BECAUSE SIZE REALLY DOES MATTER), and the whole affair is extremely undemocratic - we dont know who the candidates are, what they stand for etc. Its just a mad rush of campaigning in a week, based on faces and slogans.

It is kinda fun though. The whole Students Union buildings and concourse are awash with campaign people, shouting in megaphones, doing silly students, breakdancing, releasing balloons, etc. Its a lot of activity you generally dont see, and if you don't take it too seriously, its good fun, and you meet a lot of new people. Yeah, it hasnt been bad. But I havent had a chance to study!

EDIT: One of my friends was running for a position, and I was helping him, which is why I was involved.

Posted by illogicist at 3:56 PM 5 comments

Friday, February 24, 2006

Moderation and Self-Criticism : The Problem Faced By Islamic Society

I'm not really sure where I'm going to end up with this blog post, so please bear with me.

Increasingly these days, the issue of 'Islamization' arises, of moderates and extremists in Islam, and of whether Islam is 'compatible' with Western society (journalist Robert Fisk made an interesting point that Islam is not contrasted with Christianity, but the West, but Christianity no longer has a political identity that can be compared with Islam). Muslims, so-called Moderates, cry foul, claiming that only a very small minority of Muslims are extreme, and that that minority are the most vocal.

A few things come to my mind when that claim is made. First, why are they the most vocal? Surely, if we non-extremists are the majority, we should drown out these people? Secondly, the recent protests againt Denmark by Muslims has led many people to wonder whether we really are the minority. Oh, and then we get websites like the apologist http://www.sorrynorwaydenmark.com/, the authors of which feel that muslims should apologise to Norway and Denmark for the whole issue.

Let me try to interpret all this in my own way. Well, undoubtedly we Moderates are the majority. Sure, we all have our differences even within the moderates. Some people pray with their hands folded, some pray with their hands by their sides. Some believe that smoking is haram, some believe its just makrooh, some believe its nothing. But when it comes to fundamental issues, almost all muslims will agree. Killing innocents is wrong. Killing itself is almost always wrong (except in self-defense, etc.). Freedom and the right to a quality life are undeniable. We all agree on such things. We are the majority.

But we aren't vocal. We've been scared into a state of absolute fear by that minority who are not afraid to kill, not afraid to do things we deem immoral and evil to us should we take a stand against them, and this fear has paralysed the muslim community. Muslims talk of the great Ummah, of Deen and brotherhood and that. But, and many wont like this, I feel that the Ummah is dead. The Ummah has been dead for quite a while. While we, the moderates are the majority, our internal differences do not let us come together and stand strong against common enemies.

We're afraid, as I said, of that minority, and of the internal differences that separate us. Where does that leave us? As individuals, perhaps strong and guided by our morals, but as a community, scared and delusional. We have a victim mentality: we feel that we've been wronged by the world, and that we don't get what we deserve. It may be true, in fact, its likely to be true that we were decimated in decades past: colonisation by the European Empires, subjugation and internal corruption destroyed us. Yet the victim mentality gets us nowhere. We are so consumed (as a society) by self-pity and hate, hate and anger against those that have hurt us, that instead of learning from what was done to us to try to make things right, we stay backwards, angry and bitter.

Anyone who tries to criticise the ills of our society is labelled as a self-hater, or a traitor. If we criticise things like blind hatred of jews, we are called collaborators and 'westernised', meant in the most poisonous sense. This is wrong. Yes, our Palestinian brothers and sisters suffered terribly at the hands of the nationalist Zionist movement in the mid-20th century, when over 750 000 Palestinians were forced off their land in order to create a Jewish majority in a land called Palestine. Yes, the Zionist movement was not even a religious movement, but rather a movement controlled by Agnostics, with the 'Promised Land' the excuse to mobilise the Jewish people. But, when trying to achieve our goals, we have to work towards solutions without hate, and without anger. I do not say that we should forget what happened: no, we musn't. We must remember what we've been through and use the memory to strengthen our cause. But we must differentiate between who is an enemy and who is not.

The enemy is the anti-Palestinian forces of Israeli apartheid in that case, not the Israeli people. Its the indoctrinating educational system, the subservient Israeli media, the bootlicking Israeli academics. The simple fact of life is that there are probably more Israelis criticising the practices of the Israeli government than there are Arabs criticising mispractices of the Arab governments.

The Palestinian situation is the example I'm using here because, one, its something thats close to the heart of all Arabs and two, today we had a talk in my university by prominent Israeli Histsorian Ilan Pappe. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilan_Pappe and http://www.logosjournal.com/pappe.htm are useful links). He talked about Israel's ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948, and the need for Israel to admit its bloody past, before any peace can become thinkable. He told us about the numerous problems he and other critics of the state of Israel are facing within Israel. But people like him are heros: they are the ones who will ultimately bring about a Peace with the Arabs. We have to recognise that there are good people amongst the Israelis, indeed amongst all races, religions and creeds.

But the first step before we can present a united face is to settle our differences with ourselves. We must root out the extremist elements in our society. We must say NO to Hate, to Racism. We have to get over our pain and our anger, and use them to make us better as a people, and not to let them hold us back, to stop us from progressing. Islam is the 2nd largest religion in the world, and the fastest growing. Most of us live in poverty, struggling to survive day by day. The few of us that have the things we need to survive, indeed to excel, are too busy squabbling amongst ourselves. And us Arabs, shameful as I am to admit it, are not progressing at all, because we are stuck in the past, and refuse to emerge. We need to become a responsible people, able to criticise ourselves openly with the goal of improving. We need to be able to stand proud and represent Islam properly, because most Muslims actually do see Arabs as the ambassadors of Islam. We need to help our brothers and sisters in poverty to stand on their own two feet. Once we are a strong, developed, democratic and proud society, then we can think of criticising others.

I hope that was clear to anyone reading, because it looks like a mess to me :s

Posted by illogicist at 2:53 PM 14 comments

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Its Snowing!

...at least I think it is. Either that or someone ripped open a great big pillow in the sky. Its getting heavier, but I dont think it'll be enough to settle, just enough to blow into my eyes when Im walking home. But it doesnt matter - its SNOW! =D It snows about once a year in my area, and I really thought it wasnt going to snow this year. Its quite late, and the weather was warming up, so I thought the winter was ending. But suddenly this week it got realllly cold, and now...snow!

I hope it snows enough to settle. I wanna throw a few snowballs - they can be surprisingly painful. Snow is fun, and its the only time when its actually okay for the weather to be cold.

Viva La Snow!

EDIT: apparently its raining cats, dogs and rhinos in Oman. What a day today is. All the kids in Oman will be jumping in puddles and, if it snows enough, swimming in construction ditches (yep, they do that, its really dangerous). All the dudes will take their Camaros and Mustangs and Ford Focuses and be doing donuts and skids and stuff at that famous turn in Al-Khuwair - what I like to call the Tiannenen Square of Oman - because every one in a while the kids there like to taunt the police.

I wonder how many accidents there'll be on the roads of Oman today?

PS the snow here is getting heavier. Maybe I'll get to make some snowballs after all.
PPS running around in the snow without a shirt is ALWAYS a bad idea, as I have just discovered. Never accept stupid dares folks.

Posted by illogicist at 2:24 AM 11 comments

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Hey Bobby, Whats French For Va Va Mania?

I'd guess that football is the most loved sport in the world - and who can blame us for loving it. Monstrous, overpaid, sweaty playboys running around a carefully manicured pitch kicking around a ball with about as much brains as they have collectively. But nevermind that, its an amazing game, and fun to watch.

Not just fun to watch, fun as hell to watch. I can sit down and watch two teams I've never heard of kick the ball around, and enjoy it, unless they really really suck. When it gets to top class football, well, call me secretary, tell her to cancel all appointments. This is an emergency.

Seriously though, I'm not the only one. See I dont really follow any main football leagues. Sure, I support a few times, casually. I dont know all their players, and I cant match a lot of faces to names to numbers. I usually miss most games (if they are important I try to watch them, if I can). I dont really plan to watch many games. But if a game's on the telly, Im hooked. Theres something about watching football which is just magical. It really is, it gets you hooked, and in my case I get really, really into pretty much any game I watch.

Any year in which the World Cup is being held guarantees to be a blast. Aside from all the Club stuff, you have a crescendo of tension and excitement, leading to the zenith, which is the World Cup itself. You wont catch me missing a World Cup game, regardless of whos playing, unless both my legs are broken. Its THAT important. And theres more too, especially with the WC. They say football causes too many problems, with fans fighting, etc. But I dont know; I like to think it brings us together. When you're all sitting in a cafe together in the middle of the summer, in Oman anyway, and about 30 or 40 strangers are supporting your team with you, its electric. When your team scores, everyone celebrates, and somebody on a normal day you'd ignore, you might even hate, you'll turn and smile at. Its something.

Any football fan would know what I'm talking about! Forza La Footy!

Posted by illogicist at 12:28 AM 4 comments

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

You Are Beautiful

I go through phases where I either thing people in general are ugly, or people in general are beautiful. Its like, sometimes I just walk around and see all the flaws in people - the bulbous noses, blotchy skin, dry hair, uneven eyes, red ears, hairy cheeks, gangly arms, etc. Other days I'll notice the small things that are nice - shining eyes, lips upturned in a slight smile, messy hair that still looks good, smooth skin, confident stride, etc.

Today I'm somewhere in between I guess. I'm not sure what it depends on, I guess my overall state of mind. Mood, relationships, whether Im arguing with anyone, how much work I have to do, how stressed I am, etc.


Posted by illogicist at 2:28 AM 5 comments

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


NP - Klimt 1918 - Dopoguerra

Yesterday while I was walking home, on the side of the road I saw...a brain. Yep, a brain, all pink and wrinkled and, well, rather naked. It was interesting; something different from the usual twigs and leaves and litter. I actually stopped to get a closer look. Obviously it wasn't a real brain: plastic, looked like one of those fake brains they have in schools to teach schoolkids anatomy. It was pretty cool though; should have take a picture, but I didn't think of it at the time.

Anyway I've had this question on my mind for a while now. Its an Economics thing, but its very basic (for those of you who aren't interested, thats you're que to stop reading!).

We're taught that having an infinite number of firms in the market, each of whom is small and has no market power, is good. With such a large number of small firms, each one is a price taker, i.e. they dont affect the price of the good. Price is determined by costs, so that, in a perfectly competitive market, the price equals the marginal cost. Firms thus make zero profits. This maximises consumer surplus and minimises producer surplus. Total welfare is maximised, with zero deadweight loss.

Consider the other extreme, a monopoly. The monopolist can set whatever price he chooses - to maximise profit, he sets his price so that marginal cost equals marginal revenue. This creates profits for him, and so there is a producer surplus. Consumer surplus falls , and - this is the important bit - total welfare falls, as this creates a deadweight loss.

We aren't told, in real terms, what a deadweight loss is. We're taught that its a drop in welfare. Theoretically, this works. But I try to figure it out in real terms. What is a 'loss in welfare'? If we look at welfare strictly as money, well, in a closed economy (an economy with no international trade), the money isnt going anywhere. It stays within the country. Lets look at deadweight loss due to taxes and large government regulation and that. Without getting into details, this causes a deadweight loss, because we (consumers) are paying more of our money in taxes to the government. But this money isnt 'lost'. It goes to pay the lawyers, judges, civil servants, etc. The people who work in the courts to administer this rules, the people who work in the regulating bodies in order to enforce fairness of trade, etc. The money is being redistributed, isnt it? In the case of a monopoly causing deadweight loss, well, lets say a firm is ' inefficient', that is to say, its costs are not as low as they may be. It spends more on wages, equipment, etc., and thus the price of its product(s) is higher. This money isn't lost - its being redistributed. Suppliers to that firm are getting more money, those the firm relies on in order to continue its operations are making increased profits. These profits in turn get redistributed to employees of those firms (as well as to the owners).

My point is that money isnt actually lost, is it? So why is deadweight loss strictly bad? Perhaps I'm missing so simple and basic, and yet it must be fundamental, because this is such a pillar in economics it seems, that deadweight loss is bad (unless offset by efficiency gains somewhere else). I feel pretty stupid asking my lecturers this question, because I'm afraid I've missed something basic. Can anyoe help me out here?

Posted by illogicist at 4:04 AM 4 comments

Monday, February 13, 2006

Some Secret Arabian Laundry

While surfing cyberspace yesterday night, I came across a particular blog. Interesting blog, takes itself quite seriously, fairly professional. Made a pretty good read. But I did come across a particular paragraph written by one of the contributors which I felt compelled to write this blog post about. So, in the spirit of the raging debate on freedom of speech - and mutual respect between bloggers [;)] I'm going to lay out my views here.

I came across this particular paragraph on a post on "a secret arabian journal..."

"In the real world I am in the profession of organizing and releasing spin for the general public to digest. What I compose maybe 100% truthful or maybe 100% not, but the one thing that is certain and should be consistent is that it has to be interesting to read and hold your attention."

Here is what I interpret that paragraph to mean: The author's job is to manipulate information in order to present it in a way that is digestable and interesting to the general public. Thats fine, I have no objections to that. My objects arise when this purpose is fulfulled at the expense of truth, objectivity and accuracy.

Thats an ideal, its not applicable to all types of media. I'm not sure what kind of spin the author works, and on what medium, but for example with the news, I want my news to be complete, unbiased, and accurate. Enjoyability is an added plus. Unfortunately too much news we read this days has been spun in a way so that the reader takes a particular view, or comes out with a particular belief.

But for example an article in the news paper, an opinion piece, whatever, I dont mind spin on that. The writer is expressing his view, and thats fine. As long as events described are not distorted or completely fabricated, I dont have too much objection.

It depends on the nature of the piece, but in any case, I'm simply distrustful of spin! The entire purpose of spin is to make the reader believe one thing or another, to manipulate the reader into feeling how you want him to feel. There'll always be a question mark in my mind about that kind of thing.

Posted by illogicist at 7:17 AM 2 comments

Sunday, February 12, 2006


Ahh, February the 12th. Past couple years of so this day has always proved extremely...interesting. It was interesting this year as well, a lot of shocking revelations. But I wont go into that now. Seeing as I typed this up twice, and my word processor is going insane, I'd appreciate if you read the whole post, and left a comment :D Oh, and if theres weird punctuation all over the place, blame my Word Processor...

Setting: Prior to X's muslim days, he was known as Red. Here, Red is living in Harlem, New York in a building with a lot of prostitutes operating. Bear in mind that in writing this Malcolm X was still a rather angry man who blamed the whites for all his problems. He later changed, and thats why you may see a lot of unreasonable hate towards white people here..

"It was in this house that I learned more about women than I did in any other single place. It was these working prostitutes who schooled me to things that every wife and every husband should know. Later on, it was chiefly the women who weren't prostitutes who taught me to be very distrustful of most women; there seemed to be a higher code of ethics and sisterliness among those prostitutes than among numerous ladies of the church who have more men for kicks than the prostitutes have for pay. And I am talking about both black and white. Many of the black ones in those wartime days were right in step with the white ones in having husbands fighting overseas while they were laying up with other men, even giving them their husbands' money. And many women just faked as mother and wives, while playing the field as hard as prostitutes - with their husbands and children right there in New York..

I got my first schooling about the cesspool morals of the white man from the best possible source, from his own women. And then as I got deeper into my own life of evil, I saw the white man's morals with my own eyes. I even made my living helping to guide him to the sick things he wanted..

I was young, working in the bar, not bothering with these women. Probably I touched their kid-brother instincts, something like that. Some would drop into my room when they weren’t busy, and we would smoke reefers and talk. It generally would be after their morning rush - but let me tell you about that rush..

Seeing the hallways and stairs busy any hour of the night with white and black men coming and going was no more than one would expect when one lived in a building out of which prostitutes were working. But what astonished me was the full-house crowd that rushed in between, say, six and seven-thirty in the morning, then rushed away and by about nine, I would be the only man left in the house..

It was husbands - who had left home in time to stop by this St Nicholas Avenue house before they went on to work. Of course not the same ones every day, but always enough of them to make up the rush. And it included white men who had come in cabs all the way up from downtown..

Domineering, complaining, demanding ives who had just about psychologically castrated their husbands were responsible for the early rush. These wives were so disagreeable and had made their men so tense that they were robbed of the satisfaction of being men. To escape this tension and the chance of being ridiculed by his own wife, each of these men had gotten up early and come to a prostitute..

The prostitutes had to make it their business to be students of men. They said that after most men passed their virile twenties, they went to bed mainly to satisfy their egos, and because a lot of women dont understand it that way, they damage and wreck a man's ego. No matter how little virility a man has to offer, prostitutes make him feel for a time that he is the greatest man in the world. That's why these prostitutes had their morning rush of business. More wives could keep their husbands if they realised their greatest urge is to be men.>.

Those women would tell me everything. Funny little stories about the bedroom differences they saw between white and black men. The perversities! I thought I had heard the whole range of perversities until I later became a steerer taking white men to what they wanted.

Everyone in the house laughed about the little Italian fellow whom they called the 'Ten Dollar A Minute Man'. He came without fail every noontime, from his little basement restaurant up near the Polo Grounds; the joke was he never lasted more than two minutes...but he always left twenty dollars..

Most men, the prostitutes felt, were too easy to push around. Every day these prostitutes heard their customers complaining that they never heard anything but griping from women who were being taken care of and given everything. The prostitutes said that most men needed to know what the pimps knew. A woman should occasionally be babied enough to show her the man had affection, but beyond that she should be treated firmly. These tough women said that it worked with them. All women, by their nature, are fragile and weak: they are attracted to the male in whom they see strength."."


Just to reiterate - its not ME I'm talking about in my post :p Its from The Autobio of Malcolm X. It just makes me wonder why men really do cheat. Usually we get all blame - we're all just playing around, we dont love and cherish our women, etc. That may be true for some men, but not for all. And even for those some, it may not be the only reason. It could be that the women deserve some of the blame - by not making the men feel as they need to be treated (according to their biological make-up). It seems entirely possible - we men are ego-beasts. Its very important to all men, regardless of whether they admit it or not. We need to be the protectors, etc., and thus all men want respect. When women trample their men and make them feel useless, unappreciated, is it unreasonable to expect this to happen?

Posted by illogicist at 3:14 PM 6 comments

My Blogging Personality

Your Blogging Type is Pensive and Philosophical

You blog like no one else is reading...
You tend to use your blog to explore ideas - often in long winded prose.
Easy going and flexible, you tend to befriend other bloggers easily.
But if they disagree with once too much, you'll pull them from your blogroll!
What's Your Blogging Personality?

Seems fairly accurate, I think. Even the guy kinda looks like me! (minus the glasses)

Posted by illogicist at 4:46 AM 2 comments

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Blog Away from Life?

I dont usually do stuff like this.

Kazablanka is the owner of one of Oman's most popular blogs. She has a pretty big - and very loyal - fan following. Now, I'm an extremely infrequent visitor to that blog, but I can understand why it has such popularity. Its hard not to fall into the mood of the blog. The pervasive carefree silliness of her posts and manner. It seems some people really like a blog like Kaza's, which purposely avoids being too serious. It makes a stark contrast with the blogs of some other finalists, which tend to stay mostly on the serious side. I think some people like that, its an opportunity to escape from our serious lives into something more fancy and more rich. Kind of like stepping into The Sound Of Music :p if I can use that comparison: everything seems carefree and happy.

Why I'm writing a blogpost about this is because I visited Kaza's blog today. Its too happy for me! I didnt really read the posts, but read the comments, and its quite suprising how into it the bloggers are - they really love her. And theres a poll on the side saying 'what do you think of this blog' and the possible choices are its great, it stinks, you stink, i stink, we all stink (each one with an exclamation mark). As silly as the poll was, I couldnt help but vote for 'we all stink!'. Its very easy to fall into that carefree mood with her blog...and thats kinda scary. :p

PS Theres an excerpt from a book I'm been meaning to post here for days, but the thought of typing out all that text puts me off. I'll do that in my next blog post hopefully!

Posted by illogicist at 10:46 AM 13 comments

Friday, February 10, 2006

Conclusion of the Omani Blog Awards

Runner-up :o. Genuinely surprised, didnt expect to make it past the first round to be honest. My blog doesnt get as many hits or comments as a lot of the other blogs, and some of those blogs are absolutely top-notch. But there ya go. Thanks to everyone who voted for me. Now I need to find somewhere to put this trophy!

Mabrook to Muscati for winning, definitely deserved to win, and mabrook to the other runner-ups as well.

Posted by illogicist at 3:07 PM 6 comments

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A Rant

Ignore this post if you dont feel as strongly about corporate culture (so-called) as I do. Chances are you dont.

On a particular message board I visit, someone has joined with a name which I found very, very sad. It basically identified wholeheartedly with a company. Lets call this person Mr. Nike.

Mr. Nike. It makes my blood boil just thinking about it. The name 'Mr. Nike' represents the extent to which we've completely and utterly sold out. It represents the victory of consumer so-called culture over anything and everything we call sacred. When people start to identify themselves as pawns in the corporate game, willingly and proudly, you know the whole world is starting to tilt a little. I once saw a kid with a shaved head, except for a Nike Swoosh of hair on the back. It was funny then - now its disgusting.

This recent bout of anger is brought about by this documentary I'm in the middle of, called The Corporation. Its shocking. I'll write a full blog post about it later hopefully.

Posted by illogicist at 1:01 PM 6 comments


NP - Klimt 1918 - Because of You, Tonight

Its been a while, so here goes:

Eight weird things about me:

Sometimes I'm easily excited over very minor things.
2. I find it hard to wake up later than 10am
3. Even though I'd rather end up with a brunette, im still, for some reason, more easily attracted to blondes. Im so arab.
4. I like broccoli, and I love all sorts of vegetables, oh and raisins too.
5. i refuse to eat pasta with a pencil :s
6. when im mad and i need to calm down, i keep repeating 'chill out, chill out, chill out...'
7. I can talk about the most disgusting things ever...while eating.
8. While thinking of these things, I didnt put them down as I thought of them. First was 5, then 7, 6, then 3, then 4 then 2 then 1.

Eight attributes of my perfect lover: (im not gonna go into physical stuff here, just personality characteristics)

1. She has to be smart. Not booksmart (although thats a plus) but smart, intelligent-like
2. Has to be witty. She has to be able to completely disarm me sometimes. Not too witty though - i need to be able to disarm her too
3. Ok, i said no physical stuff, but she has to have a spark in her eyes. You know, the spark of life
4. Needs to know her religion very well, but not mutawaa
5. she needs a soft side, which isnt visible to the world, only me. Me me me =P
6. a wicked sense of humour! (oh and a beautiful voice to tell it with...i give voice a LOT of importance)
7. needs to be very strong and opinionated, but not the kind who makes decisions and forms opinions without thinking them through first.
8. the compulsory bits: she has to be able to cook, clean, iron, drive, willing and able to spend time at home taking care of the kids, the usual stuff. =)

(9. She has to be sane. This is very important, as all the women I've met who fulfill even half of the above characterists turn out to be totally, postively, nuts.)

Posted by illogicist at 9:33 AM 3 comments

Monday, February 06, 2006

An Update

Future Direction?

Its a new semester, and the weather's also changing - slowly, but surely. We emerge from the cold, wet, winter season into...spring is after winter, right? Yeah, that (I've always been bad with my seasons). Anyway, Im very heavily affected by these kind of things, so I reckon my perspective, and my focus in the coming weeks will change as well. To what? I'm not really sure, but I think my interests will swing back to political and human issues. Theres a lot of factors that make me think this. Im reading quite a few political and social books at the moment, including:

- The autobiographies of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King
- "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" by John Perkins
- "Resource Wars" by Michael T. Klare

First two books are self explanatory. Resource Wars is about how wars around the globe these days are fought not for religion or politics or higher ideals, but for resources. I havent started it yet, but its exactly what I was looking for, and Im hoping it lives up to my expectations.

Confessions of an Economic Hitman deserves a blogpost by itself. Its about US foreign policy after WW2, how Empire Building took place, and continues to take place. How the US and the World Bank and other financial institutions lend billions of dollars to LDCs (less-developed countries) to help with development - on the condition that all work is carried out by American companies, which basically leads to the money being funnelled back to the US. The LDCs are in turn shackled with huge debts with interest that they cannot possibly pay back. Trapped in bondage, the US extracts its 'pound of flesh' - military support, votes at the UN, etc. Gradually the government and let the Multinationals do its dirty work for it. Its quite interesting. The book reads like a novel, but is very factual - well worth reading.

As well as all this reading, Im doing a course this semester called 'Development Economics' which is all about the Economics of LDCs. Promises to be interesting.

The Diabolical Nature of Shopping Malls

I was in London last week, visiting some relatives and enjoying my short break between the exams and the new semester (enjoying? really? kind of enjoying I guess...). I went to this big mall where I live there, called Brent Cross. I've been to this mall countless times, but for some reason, today was different.

Let me describe this mall to you. Its long, basically. The entrance is through Fenwick, which is a shop kind of like John Lewis. So theres a Fenwick on one side, and on the far side is John Lewis. Everything in between is different shops - 2.5 stories. On the Fenwick side, theres a Costa Coffee. Its a very small Costa, and what makes it cool is that its kinda sunk into the ground. On the far side, outside John Lewis, theres a Starbucks. Now, this Costa and this Starbucks look exactly the same. So if you look at it without looking at shop names, this mall is kinda symetrical.

I'm a shopping retard. To me, John Lewis may as well be Tesco, and Fenwick may as well me IKEA. I dont know the difference between Zara or Mango or Barrats or whatever, not really. So I got very, very lost, very, very quick. And what kind of mall doesnt have a foodcourt! We spent probably a full hour looking for a foodcourt. Turns out it was on the third floor, and the only way to it is an escalator neatly tucked away next to Fenwick. When we finally found it I was starving. Good news is they had this place called Bagelshack or something, I dont remember the name, but I really should because it was delicious. Its like Subway, but with bagels.

Oh, and another thing about Brent Cross, I always remember it being miles and miles away. When I was a kid I remember I used to fall asleep in the car on the way. And to me it used to be huuuuuuge. Now, its pretty close by - 10 minutes by car. Ten minutes?! And ok, its a big mall, but its not gynormous. Its just big. I remember thinking, how things have changed, but then I realised its probably not things have changed, its just that in my old age, I'm getting dumber. Yeah, that must be it. Or is it something else: malls that relocate when you're not looking, shrinking, and changing their layouts so that you dont recognise them even though you've visited them your whole life?

Nah. Must be my imagination.

A Precedent!

This morning I woke up at 7:30am and ALL MY FLATMATES WERE AWAKE. This is an absolute first - its never happened before. I dont know if its for the new semester or what, but lets hope its a change that sticks!

Posted by illogicist at 11:07 AM 5 comments

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

OBA Final Round

By some fluke of luck, I got into the finals of the Omani Blog Awards 2005! Anyway, thanks for all who voted for me, it seems your support was just enough to put me through. Now its time to vote for the #1 blog in Oman, and you've only got a couple of days to do it - they're pretty strict with the timings. So do it ASAP.

Posted by illogicist at 12:08 AM 5 comments

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