Friday, January 28, 2011

Change in the Arab world, where do we fit in?

It feels like a historic moment and people have gone crazy trying to be a part of it. From Facebook, to Twitter to demonstrations outside embassies all over the world, we, as Arabs, are obviously craving something. But is it the same thing? I think that's a very important question we need to ask ourselves. I look around me and I see a revolution in Tunisia over an economic situation that has deteriorated beyond what the people can accept. Will change give them what they want? I don't know. Maybe. At least waste from corruption will decrease. What about Egypt? I hear statements like revolution of the "middle class poor", educated professionals who don't have a chance of a decent life because the system has become too corrupt to accommodate them. I can relate to that.

Friday, January 21, 2011

So a Khaleeji guy walks into the Interconti lobby

I'm sitting in the Doha Intercontinental lobby with a friend having a drink and minding my own business. An Asian woman shows up, sits at the piano and starts playing some pretty mediocre music, as you normally do in hotel lobbies. Soon we notice two local men standing right next to her saying things like "Hello. How are you? What is your name?" The woman is obviously annoyed and does not respond. Then a male hotel employee shows up to the rescue, takes the men aside and starts talking to them. "Please. The woman is playing the piano. She cannot chat." One of the neanderthals responds "But I want her to come and sit next to me." The employee says "You cannot ask her now. You have to wait until she's done playing." An angry response comes "You don't tell me what the rules are!" I'm not sure how they finally resolved the issue and quite frankly I don't care. All I could think about was how many times an employee did not show up to tell that guy to respect the woman playing the piano.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Wittiest bits of comedy (in my humble opinion)

Comedy is a tricky thing. How many times did you think a movie was hilarious only two watch it a few years later and curse yourself for being so silly? I don't think it's only because we grow up and change or become more mature. I think comedies become less funny as we develop as a people. I suppose we can say that they can become irrelevant. Of course some don't fall into this trap. And that's what I think constitutes a good comedy. The best example to illustrate this is Friends and Seinfeld. Despite the heated debate on which show was best, I think few people can now argue that Friends is a classic. Although I was big fan of the show, I now watch most episodes with unease, wondering how I wasted so many hours of my life on one-liner jokes. Seinfeld, however, is still as great today as it was in the 90s. I won't go into why. It just is.

And for this post, I want to share with you a few moments of comedy that have stood/should stand the test of time. They are mainly stand-up, and unfortunately I couldn't find a single one by a female. You will also not find Eddie Izzard or Ricky Gervais, cause I think these go into the Friends category... Sorry.

So in these crazy times, I hope you enjoy 30 minutes of meaningful laughter and please share your own.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The death of the retweet button*

When I first heard the term Social Media, I didn't quite grasp its significance. But then I delved into it, by joining Facebook, Linked In and Twitter and started hearing things like "You're not supposed to do stuff like that on Linked In" and "What do you mean you didn't "like" it? That's why he's angry with you." and the more common "That's not really appropriate material for Twitter." Of course I now use these expressions too, as the medium quickly develops into an independent society with etiquette, norms and yes, traditions. Since I'm not really an expert, I am not going get into the sociocultural theories behind all this. What I want to do is just express my amazement at one specific phenomenon.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A global problem and its self-creating solution

A month ago, I attended a talk about "Sustainable Development" by Jeffrey Sachs at Columbia University Center in Amman. In case that name means nothing to you, Sachs is the Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and author of the book "How to End Poverty". He's an economic activist (if there ever was one) who has campaigned with the likes of Bono to eliminate poverty around the world. Now who wouldn't want to hear from a guy like that? So Sachs comes in and starts talking very generally about sustainable development. Ten minutes into it and the lecture takes a sharp turn; we are suddenly listening to a diatribe about the evils of climate change. Now don't get me wrong, I am not a climate change denier, nor am I a blind follower of the sect either. But I felt like I was scammed into listening to a member of a cult bent on recruiting me.