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October 28, 2006

Hong Kong - my new favorite city

Well, that's a slight exaggeration. Halifax is still my favorite city, but it has an unfair advantage - Krista and Kendra are there.

I just returned to Doha from my 5 day vacation in Hong Kong and I really enjoyed myself. I liked the bustle of the city, the different food and culture, the efficiency in the chaos of 14 million people. I found it easy to get along as a visitor, I guess mainly because many people speak some English and most signs have English translations. It was also more affordable than I expected, especially if you seek out the local stores and restaurants. The downtown skyline and view from Victoria Peak are both incredible. I'll post some pictures when I have time to sort and upload. Right now I have to get down to the dirty business of preparing for class tomorrow. This week passed much too quickly!

Web politcal roundup

I have a guilty habit of reading left-leaning, liberal political opinion articles online. For quite a while I have had a low opinion of the Bush administration and the general tone of politics in the US. There seems to be a rising tide of people willing to question to current US government record, particularly in foreign policy, so I've been bookmarking quite a few articles lately. I already spend too much time on the computer, so I won't take time to comment on any in depth. Instead I post the following links with brief commentary for my own amusement and future reference. If somebody out there gets a kick out of them, or (hopefully) learns something new or beneficial, all the better.

I don't read salon.com regularly and had never heard of Camille Paglia, but after reading this interview I have to say I am a new fan. I'm particularly impressed because the interview made me think of some issues in a new light, instead of just reinforcing opinions I already had.

Columnist Douglas Rushkoff argues that the US is becoming - if not already - a fascist state. Choice quote: "So was democracy a failed experiment? Should we just let these guys run the country as long as they let us eat? Clearly, they’re not scared of us or what we might be saying about them. In fact, their best argument that we haven’t descended into fascism is the fact that we’re allowed to distribute columns like this one. How could we be living in a totalitarian propaganda state if there are articles pronouncing the same? Because fascism looks different every time around. 1930’s fascism failed because it was too obviously repressive. Today’s fascism works because it has turned the mediaspace into a house of mirrors where nothing is true and everything is permissible. The fact that there are plenty of blogs and even major books saying what’s happening and still it doesn’t matter is proof that it has worked."

Robert Kennedy Jr.'s justifiable famous Rolling Stone article on how the 2004 US presidential election may have been stolen.

Kieth Olberman has been getting my attention lately, this is just a sample of his work.

An opinion article on how the US has gone from the global model of freedom to a rogue state.

A Rolling Stone article outlining the corruption and incompetence in US government: The worst congress ever.

Case study in the bureaucratic bungling that characterizes the current US administration: the expensive, ineffective mess that is the No Fly List.

An excellent followup to the No Fly List is the Stupid Security Awards, given for stupid, useless and counterproductive security measures taken by corporations and governments worldwide.

Doublespeak and the war on terror. In case you haven't been paying attention, Orwell was a prophet, not a fiction writer (He just should have titled his story 2004 instead of 1984).

An extremely insightful article on how Arabs see the Jew written by the King of Jordan in 1947, just before the first Arab-Israeli war.

A fantastic New Yorker story that attempts to go deeper into understanding structure, origins and strategy of jihadist movement than the us-vs-them mentality of the media and the cardboard one-dimensional OBL caricatures used to fan the reactionary fears and police-state mentality in the west.

While on the topic of understanding the complex world of extremist movements, here's why Bush's "War on Islamo-fascism" was a horrible oversimplification that probably did more harm than good. It's probably a good thing that it didn't seem to really get traction. Quote ""Islamo-fascism" enrages to no purpose the dwindling number of Muslims who don't already hate us. At the same time, it clouds with ideology a range of situations -- Lebanon, Palestine, airplane and subway bombings, Afghanistan, Iraq -- we need to see clearly and distinctly and deal with in a focused way."

If you aren't yet convinced that the west, and particularly the US government lacks an adequate understanding of Islam and the arab world, the why don't you ask some politicians if they know the difference between Sunni and Shi'a? As a matter of fact ask yourself, and if you can't answer then do a few hours of reading before you spout off to your friends or write blog articles about the war in Iraq, the fundamentalist movement in Islam, or middle east issues in general.

And on a completely different note, here is an article from Scientific American on climate change. If you think that a few debates over best and worst case projections is enough to promote inaction on climate change, then I am sad. If you think conservative talking heads can authoritatively rebut the consensus amongst professionals in climate studies that climate change is increasingly driven by human activity then please read this and seriously reconsider your position.

October 02, 2006

Back in Qatar

It's been a long time since I've posted. The lack of updates has been due to a combination of more important things to do (like enjoy summer vacation, and keep up with my courses now that I'm back at work), a bit of laziness, and some technical difficulties with the website. The technical difficulties have been resolved, so I'll try to post a little more often.

I'm back in Qatar, at work with CNAQ, and there are lots of things I'd like to write about. Getting engaged definitely the most significant one. I also turned 30 yesterday. I'm planning to visit Hong Kong in 3 weeks during the break for Eid Fitr (the muslim holiday following Ramadan). Most of all, I can't wait for December, when I'll get 5 weeks of holidays between semesters because of the Asian Games in Qatar. I'll be heading home as soon as school is done to spend the Christmas season in Halifax with Krista and Kendra. I can't wait.


Engaged

I would like to let everybody know that Krista and I are engaged! We got engaged on August 11, and we are really excited about getting married. No date set yet, but we'll let people know as information becomes available.