Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Truth

“The Truth” in the Hariri assassination is due in 3 weeks. Many insist Lebanon will become a born again country. In 3 weeks the assassins will be punished, corrupt government workers will be a thing of the past, construction will boom, unemployment will fade, the only explosions you’ll hear will be those of the fireworks celebrating national unity. Not only the Muslims and Christians will love each other, the Lebanese will now treat the Asians and Africans as humans too. The national debt will become a surplus and government projects will pop up even in the remote areas of the North, South and the Bekaa. The garbage bins will have covers, and the traffic lights will all work. People will learn how to obey traffic laws and everyone will be driving environmentally friendly vehicles. Green will be in again even in the cities. Universities will rival the Ivy League and their labs will compete for the ultimate in creativity and invention. Schools will have libraries, and so will each major town. Electricity and water will be abundant so no excuses for b.o. but if your too lazy, free deodorant for everyone.

3 more weeks.

"In The Battle Fields"

Knowing how hard for local talents to put together a quality project due to all the obstacles they face, I was cheering for this movie to be good. Well it wasn’t. It was very disappointing. “Gimmicky” is description that best fits it. It started as a cheap knock off of “West Beirut” and it got worse from there. It was a collage of a bunch of gimmicks that freshman film students usually attempt. “Artistic” camera shots the kind that someone with a new handycam would attempt on a vacation video. Throw in a few taboos like using sharmouta in every sentence and a couple of sex scenes (with an ugly chick to boot). If the uninteresting storyline and the cliché characters weren’t enough, the movie also comes with the cheesiest soundtrack. One thing I’ll give the director credit for is that she was able to sell someone the idea that this movie was going to be watchable.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

If a bomb goes off in Beirut and nobody hears it, does it make a noise?

I'll have a hard time believing there is a more noise polluted city than Beirut. Here's a typical afternoon: Cabs Honking trying to hunt passengers, Cars honking at cabs to move, Drivers cussing over the honking, 700 Mosques serenely calling for prayer, 700 "other" mosques calling for prayer 10 minutes later because they can't agree with the first 700 mosques when NOON is, sirens of cops not really in an emergency, sirens of regular cars being cool, sirens of a motorcade of a member of the chamber of commerce, sirens of the motorcade of his wife, Church bells, vegetables sellers screaming over their bullhorns, ditto for fish sellers, "kaak" and brioche bikes (the Lebanese ice cream trucks), a maid screaming in pain cause her master is beating her, Cops on bullhorns telling cars that are triple parked to move even if the driver is not in the car, eminem wannabes blasting their hip hop, airplanes landing and taking off, loose metal crackling on roofs, power generators, dogs barking, cats meowing, people arguing politics, old men fighting over a game of backgammon, and Car Bombs.

Those are only the noises I can make out, I wouldn't venture to guess what the other things you hear could be.

How poor is Lebanon?

Per Capita GDP is $4000 a year which is not terribly bad it's on the level of countries like Costa Rica and Panama, poor but not starving.
However, the Per capita National Debt is $10,000, 2.5 years worth of income. Highest Debt to income ratio in the world. OK, bad but if the economy lives up to its potential and a couple of generous donations it becomes manageable.
So you take out the interest on the National Debt an the net per capita GDP becomes $3500 a year, Botswana and Gabon level, but they don't have a Buddha Bar there.
Now 2% of the Lebanese Population controls 80% of the wealth!!

So 98% of Lebanon has a net per capita GDP of $715 a year . Think Angola or Nicaragua.

Yet we have tens of ferraris and porsches, hundreds of Million dollar apartments, and $15 dollar drinks.

That's why this country is so fucked up.

Just something to get this thing started

  • Recently-pardoned War Criminal Samir Geagea said in a phone conversation with LBC from his HIDEOUT in Paris that the Lebanese should not be scared of the serial bombing.
  • Al Qaeda's # 2 in Iraq was killed again yesterday by US forces, raising his number of deaths to 4 this year alone.