Monday, January 29, 2007

Voting a la Libanaise

Vote for me on Love To Lead.

Here I am 3 days into an online voting campaign and I'm already exhibiting typical Lebanese politician behavior. I'm becoming evil.

I've made tons of promises that I know I won't and can't possibly keep. I'm asking people to vote for me based on friendship and national pride regardless of whether they think my submitted article is good or bad. Actually I doubt many have even read it. I've hypocritically asking for support from people whom I usually evade. I'm buying votes with beer and other incentives; Cellphone recharge cards and gas coupons are still in the works. I'm using other people's tragedies to gain myself sympathy votes. By the way I've heard that if you vote that you liked my article it might lead you to a nude picture of Charlize Theron and Angelina Jolie making out. I'm so blinded by winning that I wouldn't mind spending more than the laptop's worth just to win. My campaign managers are doing a great job, but please don't tell them their payment checks will bounce, I really appreciate their work. Where is Ghazi Kenaan when you need him, he would've gerrymandered me into an easy win.

In my defense though, it is an awesome looking laptop. It's Black AND White at the same time. Apple might have colors, but here we have the first example of e-racial harmony. It has a rotating screen! That means you can actually type while staring at the back of the screen. How uselessly cool is that? You can type a whole page, nay, a whole book that way and then "Ba'ousseee" you find out you were typing all this in wingding font.

With 4 days to go, I have not started a smear campaign against my foe yet. I haven't sank that low yet, but at the rate I'm going that might come tomorrow.


Vote for me on Love To Lead

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Saturday Night at the Movies 2

It seems like every time I go to the movie theater to check out one of Hollywood's latest creations I bump into one or more, much more, of my fellow bloggers. It could be just coincidence, after all this is a tiny "country". But after looking at a list of the top 20 movies at the Lebanese Box Office for 2006, something leaped out. The Lebanese cinema frequenting crowd is miniscule. The average viewership for the top 20 movies of the year is around 40,000 or roughly 1% of the population. That's for the top 20 movies, so the number of regular movie goers is smaller. This puts me and the other Lebanese bloggers in this 1% of the population, so how representative of Lebanon can we possibly be?

Personally, I dread each time I must go to Haret Hreik, Tareek Jdideh, or Burj Hammoud. The tight roads and the pedestrian and scooterized masses there make driving a nightmare even in Lebanese road standards. I've only been once to the Buj Brajneh Refugee camp, Tareek Jdideh's alleys look like the autobahn compared to the roads there. I've never been to Nabatiyeh, Jizzeen, Hasbaya, Rashaya, Akkar, or Hermel. I'm trying to get my friends in the 1% to win me a laptop in an online vote, by the way don't forget to vote for me again today and every day Vote for me on Love To Lead.

But what do I know about the other 99% of Lebanon. What do you?

Friday, January 26, 2007

On the Verge of War

With Lebanon on the verge of war, I have plenty of specimens of evil around to examine and determine whether people are born that way or whether evil is an acquired taste just like caviar.

The streets of Beirut have showcased a plethora of evil the past few days. So surely I can go to one of the rooftop snipers ask him to lay on a couch, carress his hair, and listen to him open up to me about the trauma he suffered when he walked in on his dad cheating on his mom with his 1st grade English teacher whom he had a crush on and had spent all his allowance buying apples for. Weren't apples also involved in the original sin? Hmm... But no, that can't be it, I'm sure Mother Teresa had an apple or two growing up and she turned out OK.

We must dig deeper and younger. At risk of sounding pedophiliac, I think we must check out the babies at the maternity ward for answers. These little angels can't be evil. Sure they scream all night, but have you seen the face of that nurse? Also, they were so eager to be born and now they find out they have to wait a year to walk, 2 to talk, 3 to open the fridge, at least 5 to reach the chocolate shelf, over 15 years to get laid, and 21 years to buy a freaking beer. That is evil.

Alas, these little angels aren't so innocent. All you have to do is look at them a day earlier, the moment they were born. Look at the faces of their mothers pushing, sweating, and crying.

A cow drops a calf effortlessly. Hens' eggs are a dime a dozen.

Only pure evil would pay back the mother that carried them in her womb for 9 patient months with pain and agony.

So there you have it, it doesn't get more scientific than this.

*This post was in response to "Are people born evil?" on Love to Lead's Competition. Visit the website where you can read other bloggers' answers after you vote for me. I'm badly in need of a new laptop. You might also win one if you vote for me.
Vote for me on Love To Lead

Thursday, January 25, 2007

From Lebanon M16

Civil wars

Sure civil wars do take place elsewhere, but no other land can claim a civil war or two per generation. There are even accounts of civil wars that predate the "modern" man, when the sheep and goats locked horns over a watering hole in the Southern Metn region. The war occured shortly after the discovery of fire which led to the second most important discovery in history: Barbecue. Homo Cheframzien then became the first registered case of obesity.

Then came man and his wars. First war on record was between the clockwise and anti-clockwise dabke dancers. As all subsquent wars, there were no winners in this conflict. Both camps held ground with boots firmly in place and signed the first national reconcilaition under the auspices of the Roman Caracalla family which then privatized and monopolized dabke for eterntiy.

With the arrival of God, civil wars became just too easy as you no longer needed to find a reason to fight as God will always be on your side. The rest is history.

With that said, I promise you there will not be a civil war this time around. If I'm wrong you can shoot me.

من وحي المناسبة: شحّادين يا بلدنا

*This post is recycled from a year ago as nothing has changed over the past year, or 40 for that matter. You can download a version of the song sang by horny teenagers via this link.

Shoushou sang it 40 years ago, and since we love tradition so much we still sing the same tune today.

Beggars are usually crackheads or alkies that need their fix. Not here. In Lebanon begging is an artform, a career opportunity, a status symbol.

There are of course the street beggars which range in age between 1 and 100. They are expert racial profilers and speak exclusively in rhymes. Body disfigurement, systematic avoidance of showers, and malnourishment are their strongest weapons. The more experienced of them only work summers. They shed their suits and hit the streets where they can avoid wasting time on the cheap locals and focus on the deep tourist pockets, thus yielding much higher productivity. They conduct weekly gatherings for Friday prayers. NO, not in mosques but just outside.

Institutionalized begging is also common. To get involved in this field though you have to be a middle aged man of the cloth. They too speak exclusively in rhyme, but they do occasionally shower. God, orphans, and eternal damnation are their keys to open checkbooks. They host Friday prayers.

Now being a millionaire or even a billionaire shall not stop you from kindly begging for more.
Begging conferences are usually at the fanciest resorts. Hors d'oeuvre and champagne constantly flow. Surely they only beg for the poor. Someone has to fight poverty, and they make great sacrifices to raise fight for that cause. God bless them. Some rhyme in their speech, but a whole lot of slime. Friday prayers? Only in election campaign season.

Back to Shoushou, 40 years ago he also sang:

نحنا حراميّي زغار، و هنّي كبار كبار

What does he know, he's just a clown.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Comments on a Normal Tuesday

I woke up to quieter than normal streets. Anyone who's been to Hamra knows what normal noise level is here; it's usually between Jet Engine level and a Fran Drescher shriek. So I turned on the TV to find a reporter on the streets of Beirut informing us how it is a normal day across town and how all roads and businesses are open. He sounded convincing except in the background you didn't see people or cars instead you saw a dark cloud of smoke. How could I possibly know the Truth of what is going on. I could switch the channel, this isn't Syria or Saudi Arabia or any other Arab country, we do have other non-state controlled and very free media (except for New TV which is not free because it is not protected by a militia).

So I switched the channel and at 8 am Samir Geagea was already declaring that the army and the security forces have failed at their jobs (accusations that were rapidly echoed by other Bristol troop figures) and unleashed his new generation of black clad thugs to take things into their own hands. So the army that had its arms full already with Lebanon's largest civil disobedience movement, now had the added burden of fending off thugs looking for trouble. I didn't like that scene so I switched back to the other TV station with which, as I found out yesterday, shares my habit of daydreaming and a hatred for Naser Qandil.

At the end of the chaotic day calm was restored. 3 people were dead and a hundred or so injured which is tragic; but given that the whole country( and not any country) was engulfed in street fights involving guns, I must say the army and the security forces did a commendable job. If riots of this scale broke out in any American city, the amount of deaths and injuries would have been multiple times more, not to mention the looting that would have hapened.

Kudos to the army and friends for doing a tremendous job at averting disaster, despite what some ungrateful bastards are promoting for narrow personal political gains.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Spot the 10 Mistakes

Long before Sudoku, the entertainment page in the newspaper used to feature a spot the mistakes picture. Let's see how well you can do with spotting blunt discrimination in this ad for MEA which is unequivocally not an equal opportunity employer.

Click on picture for larger image.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

خطاب زقّف تقلّك

خطاب زقّف تقلّك

بعد كم يوم رح يطلّ علينا قائد العالم الحرّ والمعتدل بس مش سكاندينافيا و روسيا و كندا لإنّو رب ربّك ما بيتحمّل بردات كانون بهيديك البلاد.
رح يطلع و يبلّش يعدّ انجزات وانتاجات السنة (على سيرة الإنجازات والانتاجات لهل سنة، في حدا يقلّي شو صابو لزياد الرحباني (ر) بال2006 ؟ هيئتو اكتشف الفياغرا. إنّو معلوماتي مش أكيدة بس صحصح من النوم و كتّر، بيانات عراديوات، و بيانوات لبعد نص ليل، و مقالات و مهرجنات،يا إلاه، يا لطيف...ة. هاي بنرجعلا بعدين) بنرجع لبوش لي دحرج روس، و يمكن قتل حدا مهم بالصومال، هيدا لي يمكن كان إلو دعوة بتفجيرات السفارات بال98 ، و راح يشدّد على هالنقطة ليفرجي إنّو شطّور مش متل كلينتون يلي كان عم بيغزّ بمونيكا لمّا صارت غزوة أفريقيا.
على كلّن، لي بيميّز خطاب حالة الإتّحاد عن غيرو هو التزقيف. إنّو ولا مرّة طلع رئيس أميركاني وقال: يا جماعة الحالة خرى. أو خرة؟ ألف مقصورة أو تا مربوطة؟ هيدي ما علّمني إيّاها إيلي ماروني، أستاذي لاللّغة العربيّة سابقاً و زعيم الكتائب بزحلة حاليّاً رغم إنّو كان يعلّم فصحى. خلص بنسأل البطريرك بما أنّو هو الخبير. خبير بالتا المربوطة ، ما تسببولي مشاكل سوء تفاهم هلّق، سيدنا البطرق بيشدّّ بلفظة التا المربوطة: حكومةّ وحدةّ وطنيةّ، هيدا كان قصدي. المهم، بنرجع عالموضوع الرئيسي الرئاسي. الرئيس لي بيحظى برضى تلت شعبو و تلت شعبنا رح يطلع يوعظ كيف اتّحادو قوي و متين و بيلقى دعك و جسمو لبّيس و مزدهر و جغل و سكسي ماكسيموم. و رح يزقفولو جماعتو تزقيف مبرمج و منسّق و مترجم و مدبلج ما في متلو إلاّ بالشام. الحرب تزقيف، الضمان الاجتماعي تزقيف، دسبريت هاوس وايفز تزقيف و تهييص. بس الفرق بين الديموقراطيّة الهوليووديّة النموذجيّة و الديموقراطيات الشقيقة هو إنّو هونيك بيضلّو من وقت لي بيخلص بوش لتلتي لوقت ما يبلّش السوبربول لي هو أهمّ حدث رياضي عندن يعني متل أطول أوف بالأوّل علLBC عنّا، بيضلّو عم بيحلّلو. لا مش الخطاب، ... التزقيف.

كلّ محطّات التلفزة والإذاعة والمطبوعات رح تخبّرنا و تبشّرنا كم مرّة زقّفولو لقبضاي زمانو و قدّيش كان معدّل طول و عرض كل زقفة. و رح يطلعلنا شي صحافي حاطومي بيحب ينكش أكتر من غيرو ليحسبلنا كم ديسيبل كانت كل زقفة من إيام ما اخترع الكسندر غراهام بل الصوت لليوم.

خلاصة الموضوع، حضروا حالكن، في حرب جديدة بالمنطقة لإنو الحقيقة كلنا زهقنا من العراق.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Le Fatwa

Here are my Two Cents about Paris Trois, or Two Billion Dollars for that matter, at the end of the day it's all the same.

First of all, the Siniora Reform Plan is not reform or a plan, let's call it what it is a to do list. While I appreciate the work of the world bank intern who worte the list, it's more than most Lebanese public servants have ever done for the country, but it does not address any of the problems of the Lebanese abyss of public funds known as Government.

The Lebanese Economy is bleeding extensively from its severed extremities, and the proposed cure is a Band Aid Bandage. (Siniora's office just issued a statement and billboards assuringthe Lebanese people that they will get a Full Box of Band Aid, and maybe even a whole case if the opposition goes home.)

The Lebanese Economy's health is comparable to that of Ariel Sharon, so drastic measures are needed to salvage it. The Siniora reform plan simply does not do that. It will deepen the problem and then force the Lebanese to sell off all they had and still have the same problems down the road.

Higher taxes, privatization, and longer work hours are not necessarily bad, they might be necessary, but adopting these measures right now would be disasterous. It would be a reward to those who got us into this dilemma in the first place.

Let's start with the tax hike. I'll spare you all the talk about poor people being hit the worst, and all the political exploitation that the lame opposition is practicing. Any tax hike, and especially when it's an extreme 50% tax hike, should be accompanied with detailed transparent accounting of how this extra income will be spent. Funding the debt service is fine and dandy, but how about more details especially when this debt wreaks of conflict of interest. Is it really in Hariri inc.'s favor to lower the debt when they are ultimately getting a good healthy chunk of the debt servicing through their generous financial institutions. Ok, I'll keep it short and simple since these issues could go on and on.

Privatization, or more accurately Harirization, of Public properties, usually helps improve services by distancing them from the cancer of government bureaucracy. So far no problem looking at it from rightist economics. Let's look at the electric company for example. I don't buy the excuse that the problem is unfixable because the employees are politically protected, because we know that the decision to privatize the company can not pass without the political green light from the same people protecting these employees. So if Privatization is an option, then cleaning up the company should also be a viable option given there is a will to do so, since it is the same political obstacle that faces both options. Fix some of the problems and then sell off at a higher price, but the problem becomes when the potential buyer also signs for the seller in the sales transaction, would he be interested in getting the most for the people out of the sale or would he want to get a low price on the purchase.

4 extra work hours a week will increase productivity. Oh really? That shows you that Mr. Soiniora has not been to any government office. How will 4 extra hours of Solitaire help productivity? These extra hours will be punishment to the handful of workers who do actually earn their paycheck, as for the rest which are the grand majority, well they are probably rotfloling at this suggestion.

Anyways, this nonreform plan is disasterous for Lebanon, catastrophic actually and the people should prevent these commitments from being undertaken at any price. The opposition has not provided an alternative plan yet, and thus are actually acting as alibis to this robbery. Well some of the opposition figures are partners in crime with Hariri Inc. so no surprises there.

To stop this heist I hereby issue a fatwa that:
1.) any action the Lebanese people take to stop this robbery, including the breaking in and liberation of the Grand Serail, is legitimate self defense.
2.) the Lebanese people are entitled to reclaim their robbed funds in any way and as many ways they see fit; whether by robbing banks, pickpocketing Randa Berri, or just stealing grapes from the Kefraya Vineyards.

Wa 3ushtum, wa 3asha Lubnan.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

What's Hanging

So I finally snapped out of my annual end of annus depression. Well, more like my depressed anus (scientific name: Lazy ass) was slapped out of it, and thankfully so.Anyways, back to business.

The Best of 2006 awards post was on a piece of paper in my back pocket, somehow it got wet and turned into one of these Rorschach inkblots which pretty much is a perfect depiction of 2006. I might attempt to recreate it, but first I must answer the question that is on everyone's mind:

What do Akil Bros, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Mayez El Bayyaa' have in common?

They all have banners with their signatures hanging in the streets of Beirut.
Why pay Pikasso for the use of their mostly illegal billboards when you can hang your own mostly illegal banner off your balcony, off the phone, the mostly illegal cable, mostly illegal internet, a laundry, or a high voltage electric line. Aside from serving as rest stops for migrating city birds (and where else could resting pigeons do their thing and wipe up in the same convenient place), Banners feature messages. Remember when it was the pigeons that actually carried the messages and the other way around? Anyways… while the messages may vary, the ropes and wires tangle is always the same.

Akil and his kin use banners to advertise 90% sales and/or remind passersby that the shop is 50m down the street. The Muslim Brotherhood and other religious fraternities constantly like to remind you about the virtues of religion since people in Lebanon aren't exposed to enough religious preaching. Politicians like Dory Chamoun and Kamal Shatila try to compensate for their lack of support on the streets with hovering banner support. As for the regular folk and Mayez El Bayyaa', they use street banners to kiss the ass of their Zaeem, dead , alive, or absent, in hopes of earning brownie points. The king of ass kissers, or should it be the queen, is a guy by the name of Wajih El Damerji. Unlike some amateurs cram multiple lines of brownnosing on their banners; Wajih El Damerji has perfected one-liner praise banner and spread it by the hundreds all over town. Damerji has actually taken it one step further, while 90% of his smooching is directed at one target, he made sure to reserve 10% of his kisses for other cheeks…just in case.

At the end of the day, street banners are another valuable free speech tool, albeit a free speech tool for those annoying people and singer whose speech you've always tried to avoid.