For the GEEK in you

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Choice Selections

From the wikipedia entry on South Africa in the apartheid era:

"Sex and marriage between the races was prohibited. "

"Eligibility for a passport had, in any case, been difficult. A passport was a privilege, not a right, and the government saw fit not to grant many applications by blacks."

"...lack of opportunities for the races to mix in a social setting entrenched social distance between people."

"Proponents of apartheid argued that once apartheid had been implemented, blacks would no longer be citizens of South Africa; rather, they would become citizens of the independent "homelands". In terms of this model, blacks became (foreign) "guest labourers" who merely worked in South Africa as the holders of temporary work permits."

"While other countries were dismantling discriminatory legislation and becoming more liberal on issues of race, South Africa was continuing to construct a labyrinth of racial legislation."

"During the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s, the government implemented a policy of 'resettlement', to force people to move to their designated 'group areas'."

"Chinese South Africans who were descendents of migrant workers who came to work in the gold mines around Johannesburg in the late 19th century, were usually classified as 'Indian' and hence 'non-white', whereas immigrants from Taiwan and Japan, with which South Africa maintained diplomatic relations, were considered 'honorary white', and thus granted the same privileges as whites. It should be noted that "Non-Whites" including Blacks were sometimes granted an 'honorary white' status as well, based on the government's belief that they were "civilised" and possessed western values."

" Punt Janson, the Deputy Minister of Bantu Education, was quoted as saying: "I have not consulted the African people on the language issue and I'm not going to. An African might find that 'the big boss' spoke only Afrikaans or spoke only English. It would be to his advantage to know both languages.""

Saturday, October 28, 2006

My Silent Friends

Aka, the people who visit this blog. I installed SiteMeter on a lark, but it's proved surprisingly interesting to discover who reads my occasional ramblings. The vast majority are from Dubai, of course, but let's have a lookie at some of the others:
  • Sydney, Australia - I know who that is!
  • Sunnybank, Queensland - population, 7325. Wow, that's kinda cool that a small town like that reads about stuff in Dubai, even if it was only for 41 seconds.
  • New York! Awesome. One day I will live there.
  • Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees. Birthplace of Tony Scott, when it's not bullying Sunnybank with its 80k+ residents.
  • Rishon LeZiyyon, Israel. Are Israelis allowed to visit UAE blogs?
  • Albertslund, Denmark. My masterminding of the cartoon riots from my secret Scandinavian fortress is revealed at last.
  • Birmingham, Alabama. Home of the funniest fictional paedophile male rapist sociopath ever.
  • Surbiton, Slough. Why can't I can't get away from Ricky Gervais?
Special thanks to the one guy who was directed here by Google after using the search terms - I shit you not - "She stripped for me, Moulin Rouge". Possibly the single least fulfilling click in search engine history.

Thanks to all who've turned up here/taken a wrong turn and read my spastic emissions in the last year and two months. A further special thanks to everyone who took the time to comment, regardless of content. You all made this a little worthwhile.

Even though there's only like five of you. Two of which are my friends. One of whom asked me to leave the UAE. And the other two probably looking for naked pictures of Satine.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Pathways to Adventure

A reminder to all those Mirdiff-tractor owners out there that cars can do more than take you on expeditions to the mall.

Another Little Tick On Life's Checklist

Finally, something worthwhile about living in Australia.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Perils of Photography

Or, good from far, but far from good.

To whit: in 2003, I was first smitten with Anna Umemiya. I don't quite know why, but it's a picture that stayed with me. Although one doesn't have to look too hard for more, ahem, extensive (and NSFW) photography involving the lovely Anna.

I'll settle for the pic above. Simple, honest, and yet somehow sexy.

But now.....

Gone. Everything is gone. Sob.
All it took was one closeup to turn her into a tranny.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Ramadan and the Free Zones

My father runs a (very) small shipping company in Jebel Ali. The shipments we process are meant to only have a brief stopover in Dubai before being disseminated through the CIS. Timing is crucial; delayed shipments mean furious customers, delayed payments and reduced orders.

Unfortunately, Ramadan has thrown a hefty spanner into the mix.

Coming on the back of a dry summer, for 30 days we've had to contend with customs officers who seem barely able to lift their stamps. Their painful sloth has held up every shipment we've done, causing delays of not hours but weeks. Not just us: anyone who does anything with cargo has to get that damn stamp, and Customs randomly packs up during the day to go have a kip somewhere, it leaves all of us (who are fasting as well) with nothing to do but wait for them to come back.

My solution? Either put into place overtime incentives, or employs customs in shifts, so that fresh staff continously arrive. Shipping is a round the clock, round the year job.

It leads to my other point - the impact of Ramadan on businesses. Sure, it's nice to say we can all get a month off, but from the point of view of an employer it's utterly disastrous for productivity. Listless workers who do jack shit in the morning and are too stuffed post iftar to do more than waddle to the loo occasionally. Rinse and repeat for thirty days.

The problem is, the world doesn't fast. If you deal exclusively with the local market, it doesn't affect you in the least, but we have to process orders from all over the globe and they dont give a rats ass if you've eaten or not. Our commitment to global trade ensures we pay a double penalty for adhering to local custom.

This is, in any case, the worst time of year. With GITEX winging its way in and global demand starting to pick up, we're going to fall behind even further. Is Ramadan incompatible with the modern business world? Quite possibly.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Utterly Brilliant Toyota Commercial

Toyotas are generally considered the apex of 'white-goods' cars, automobiles without the slightest hint of passion outside of utility. Well, here's an ad, entitled simply 'Human Touch' that will perhaps change that perception. It may even make you smile a little.

Major props to the boys at Glassworks who designed and conceived it.

Friday, October 06, 2006


So VW has come up with a self driving GTI. Those zany Germans have even named it the '53+1' - in homage to that other famous self-motivated German.

The concept is quite straightforward: the steering, brakes and DSG gearbox are linked to a central electronic brain, while sensors on the outer edge 'read' the surroundings and look for obstacles (kerbs, road markings, etc.). It can't exactly zip out onto the highway and start chasing down bad guys ala Knight Industries' finest: presently, the car can only work on predefined routes without other traffic to bother it.

It really is quite a sight to see: the car first 'sniffs' out the road, travelling at very low speeds studying the course. Once it's figured out where it's going - all hell breaks loose. The onboard system can then implement the fastest line around the track while wringing the bejesus out of the potent 150mph Golf. It's probably faster than most human drivers can manage: while we have insides to keep from venturing out for a looksee, the cold blooded automaton can drive on its doorhandles, pulling absurdly high gs.

Here's where Dubai comes in. When you mention 'traffic accident' here, most people's eyes glaze over, haunted by that matt black Range hanging an inch off their bumper trying to give them a proctology exam. In reality, most of the day-to-day accidents are of the non fatal variety, caused by tired and/or distracted drivers failing to provide that last second of attention before the almighty shunt. These are the accidents which cause innumerable traffic snarlups and waste the time of millions, while keeping our doctors happy dispensing blood pressure pills.

Now doesn't the Golf seem a good idea? Before the enthusiasts start decrying Big Brother - let's think about it rationally for a second. Who really enjoys driving on the highways? Or the cities, for that matter? Wouldn't it be great if all the cars were able to communicate with each other, traffic flowing along in perfect lock-step? Want to change a lane, dip your indicator: the adjacent car would slow down right smartly and let you in, because a computer doesn't have ego. Tap your destination into your sat nav, kick back with your Buddha Bar CD and chat on your cellphone to your heart's content: everything's being taken care of.

Of course, the big part about owning a car is the personal freedom it affords you. Most people will grumble about being denied the liberty to choose the best possible route, or the simple joy of driving. I'm an enthusiast, but most people simply aren't interesting in driving ecstasy - they want to get from A to B, where sometimes A & B aren't reachable by public transport. So this solution would work for most people - get in - engage drive - get there - get out. If you live for the fiddly joy of piloting your cruise missile, have a killswitch which returns control, or designate certain roads human driver only. Somehow, I have a feeling there won't be that much demand for the latter.

This is Automotive Enlightenment, and it's coming faster than we think. The sooner drivers get on board and start intelligently engaging the issues which trap us in hours of traffic daily, the sooner we'll all have less to complain about.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Short Cuts - Wings Hauser Edition

Superman Returns: If there's one thing Bryan Singer knows, it's how to nail those iconic shots, those poses and camera angles when Superman rises beyond his 4-colour origins and assumes almost-mythical proportions. The rising score envelopes you in a tide of warmth, you join the fictional public in the film in laying tribute to what is a truly a God among men.
And for whom, unfortunately, feet of clay come standard. Cripes, could this have been any longer? And what's with Emo Super Jesus? Either he's hovering over earth, in his ready-crucifix mode, or he's moping around stalking Lois (the new, impossibly young edition). For a film ostensibly about the mother of all heroes, everybody sure seems depressed.
Let's not talk about Kevin 'Gene Hackman wasn't campy enough, but let me add this pinch of sadism' Spacey. Or the fact that 'Super'man's almighty power seems to consist of nothing more than lifting progressively heavier objects.

Crank: My head hurts after watching this film. Amy Smart, call me.

My Super Ex Girlfriend: Uma, call me first. Clingy sounds good.

Grosse Point Blank: Nostalgia never sounded so good. Weary, cynical listless GenXers, recognise John Cusack is your messiah.

The Infuriator, Issue 1:
Exhibit #1:
Looks like any hotel in Europe, right, with the local richboys parking their whips outside? Wrong. This is a collection of college-age UAE guys who spend every summer touring through Europe, taking their Dubai cars with them. And as you can see, they're a far cry from rentals.

I can't even begin to imagine how rich these people are. Nor can I imagine what a colossal waste of money this is. I know travel's supposed to be about the journey, but this....this is beyond ludicrous. While there'll always be people who say rich folks are free to do whatever with their money, the fact is there's no way in hell these kids earned the right to do any of this. While they sashay through Europe without a care in the world (and probably a thought in their heads) we're all in Dubai working our digits to the bone to pay for these brats to live the way they do.

It isn't fate, it isn't luck. It's us, foolishly accepting the way things are and refusing to do anything about it.