Monday, April 19, 2010

Of Winning Arab Poets, Loyal Tribes, and GoDaddy Super Bowl Chicks……………..

“Members of the al Ajami tribe have defended a campaign costing millions of Kuwaiti dinars that propelled Nasser al Ajami to victory in the Million’s Poet competition. Nasser was crowned the Million’s Poet champion on April 7 despite being beaten on the judges’ scorecards by the third-placed poet Hissa Hilal in each round of the popular TV contest. The Kuwaiti was catapulted into first place because 40 per cent of the final score was determined by the public. He received twice as many SMS text votes as the Saudi woman. The weighted voting system has led some to question if a large and supportive tribal network had more bearing on the result than the poet’s creativity and oratory skill. At a gathering of more than 4,000 tribesmen on the outskirts of Kuwait City to celebrate their family member’s success, the consensus was that voting based on tribal allegiance was a tactic employed by many of the contestants. They just did it better. “It’s like the election of a president: it’s not enough for individuals to vote,” said Mishal bin Hethlain, a sheikh of the al Ajami tribe’s leading family, which organised and partly funded the campaign. “He got to the final without support, but to win this competition you need the support of your family.” Mr bin Hethlain said that three weeks before the final he co-ordinated a fundraiser to persuade wealthy members of the tribe to donate. Without specifying the amount of money raised, he said “we’re talking millions” of Kuwaiti dinars………..”

Next time they should just advertize the tribe during Super Bowl: much cheaper. Of course they’d have to compete with the chicks…….


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Illusory Persian Gulf Demographics, Self-serving Plutocrats, and Supreme Planning Schmucks…….

“That there is no clear, common definition underscores the difficult task facing the Government as it attempts to halt what it sees as the erosion of Emirati culture and heritage. A sense of urgency has emerged in recent years, driven in part by the persistent decline in the percentage of Emiratis among a largely expatriate population. Recently, the Cabinet issued a charter that stressed the need to uphold the country’s traditions, including the use of Arabic, and urged Emiratis to have “large and cohesive families”. Most experts and officials agree that the population imbalance, combined with the sweeping effects of globalisation, are the greatest contributors to the erosion of the nation’s identity, social habits and language………..”

It is true, what the old song says: some fools never learn. They have never read my theory, posted often here, that having large native families will not solve the population imbalance. Au contraire, as they say. I have seen it in my own country, and in other Persian Gulf states: they always seek increased native birth and larger families to reduce the percentage of expatriates. They don’t seem to realize (or maybe they do) that the more natives there are, the more foreign expatriates they will need. This has always been the trend, because each native needs the services of several expatriates (housemaids, drivers, nurses, doctors, builders, waiters, etc) to keep him going. As the Gulf potentates, and their planning councils composed largely of oligarchs and plutocrats, have pushed for more babies (and multiple wives), they have watched the percentage of expatriate labor increase consistently.

Which has often frustrated me. It makes me wonder whatthefuck is wrong with these schmucks?
Okay, I know the oligarchs like to take the easy way out. They also prefer to rule over a larger population than the oligarch next door: the Arabian Joneses syndrome. As for the plutocrats, it is simple: they need the cheap expatriate laborers and they need the increased demand for the goods they import, they know that the more people, the more money they make.

Surly Egyptians and Stoned Jordanians, Banning Hashish and Humor………

“But amid all this deprivation, one commodity that is consumed by more than seven million Egyptians has all but disappeared from Egypt’s back alleys and dark corners. Thanks to a renewed law enforcement effort, hashish smokers – nearly 10 per cent of the population, according to official statistics – must now face their worst bout of cognitive clarity and short-term memory gain in more than a decade. But even as law enforcement officials suddenly have something to celebrate, drug users and crime analysts say Egypt’s addicts are beginning to turn toward more corrosive and addictive drugs, such as alcohol, cocaine and heroin, to fill hashish’s void. “This is reflected in the prices on the street. There are very high prices for hashish and low prices for psychotropic drugs,” said Enas Gafarawi, a professor in narcotics research at the national centre for social and criminological research, who added that the price of heroin appears to have dropped to 100 Egyptian pounds (Dh67) per taskara – equivalent to a few milligrams – from 360 pounds several months ago. ……….”

Egyptians have a long history with hashish. Now, just as the population reaches a new low in economic and psychological conditions after 30 years of the current dictatorship, the regime pulls the plug. No more hashish. Since other ‘diversions’ are also restricted or too expensive for Egypt’s increasingly impoverished middle class, what is there? Religious extremism is one outlet for some. Many others naturally seek cheaper, and more dangerous, alternatives- hard drugs. Then there is, of course, that other diversion of begetting and begatting which has pushed the population well beyond what the country can house and feed.

As they said, and still say: let there be light in Egypt, let them light up. It may do them some good, and I would advice Texans to do the same. I almost forgot Jordanians: the banned Egyptian social habit may be just the solution for the severe lack of humor that has bedeviled Jordan since the British created that country more than seventy years ago. A stoned Jordanian can’t be a surly one now, can he? Can he?

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