Friday, June 30, 2006

The Rip Off At American Airports

I did notice one thing during my travels in four different air ports in the US of A(JFK, Seattle, LAX, and Chicago,) food prices and the different restaurants at the airports were twice the street price, sometimes even more. A mediocre burrito was for 8.99 USD. Yes that is insane, or as my friend Dean would say, crazy, just crazy.

As for the reason for this, I think there is a lot of greed involved. Maybe the restaurants are taking advantage of people especially considering that people have no other option. Also, it is possible that airports are charging them too much for the rent. And of course it could be a combination of greed on both sides.

I hope there is a way to combat this greed. Maybe if people started sending letters to the various food outlets (KFC, BK, Uno's, etc,) to complain. I will try to send an e-mail myself and see what happens, if I do get a reply, I will post it on my blog.

Pink Panther, The Movie

I did have the partial misfortune to watch Pink Panther, the movie, twice, once on the RJ flight to NY, and then on Delta's Airlines flight from NY to Seattle.

Do not get me wrong, the movie is not bad, it has its funny moments, and Steve Martin's French accent was very good. But the movie was not memorable, it is not the kind of movie that you would want to own on DVD or watch again multiple times in a year. You can rent it if you can not find anything else to rent, but it should not be your first choice. So anyway I give it 7.1/10.

A Need For A New UN

I was reading the blogs on Jordan planet(mine is still not there yet because of Bureaucracy,) and there was a blog(Sabbah's Blog) about sending a letter to the UN to urge them to do something about the current situation in Gaza.

That is all nice, but I doubt it will work. Not because the UN does not want to do anything, because it can not. The current UN and SC is simply not the answer.

What is the answer, enter the NUN( New UN,) the NUN should be significantly more aggressive in resolving issues, not slow and bogged down by taking diplomacy to an extreme, it should have a SG who is charismatic, but very assertive and probably less diplomatic than all the previous ones. Someone who is not afraid of being kicked out of his position, who is not afraid to tell countries who abuse their power that they are acting like buttholes and that what they are saying or doing is bullshit.

But I guess what would be even better than a better SG, is a better Security counsel, one that makes sense in terms of the current International realities, not the ones from WWII. Except for the victorious countries in WWII, the rest of the countries were basically crap, hence the appointment of the victors as permanent SC members.

Now, a lot has changed, Japan, and Germany are economic superpowers, and the cold war is over. The SC needs to do it's role properly with International interests not national interests being the main decision factors. So basically to insure a more balanced SC, permanent members would remain permanent members, possibly with the addition of another two permanent members, and another 5 none permanent ones. So where would the cool part be, the cool part is permanent members being stripped of their vito powers and given two votes instead of one(as partial compensation).

This basically would insure that the UN SC would be more fair and impartial and would make it less subject to national interests.

I hope people would start thinking about this, and would start to do something about it. Maybe spread the idea and write about in their own blogs(with credit to my good self of course.)

Me in Seattle in Pictures

The place where Salmon goes from saltwater to fresh water or something

Me on a boat ride in the lake

Me in the Frame, do not know who put it there. Also in there is little Issy Boo, cousin's son

Me Flying a Kite

Me with the sea or a lake behind(not sure)

Me with Gasworks park behind

Making Jordan Cool

I had blogged earlier about having a top 10 list of ways to make Jordan cool. So far I had one input from a new friend, she sent it to me by e-mail and I am still working on the other 9 ways to make Jordan cool.

Well, anyway, what she suggested, and I do not know why this has not occurred to me, is that Jordan would be cooler if people smiled more often.

How would this come about, actually, there was some research about smiling being contagious just like yawning, so remember the next time you are out there, smile. Even if it was half hearted (or as my friends from college would have said: half assed.)

My Trip To America, Part 1, RJ

I just came back from my tiresome 11 days trip to America ( Seattle and San Fernando Valley in California.)

I have a lot of stuff to blog(complain) about, it is somewhat hard to know where to begin. But I will start with my RJ flight.

The most noticeable things on the RJ Flight, was the fact that there were zero Arab female stewardess, only Asian and British. The fact that RJ can not find local women to employ still annoys and baffles me.

The second thing that I noticed and was also extremely annoying was the fact that Airbus models they use have only 2 restrooms, so the restrooms were busy around the hour.

Finally, it just so happened that the RJ employee I dealt with sucked big time. I asked him twice if had an extra fish meal, and he did not bother to come back to me to say sorry and tell me that they had run out or something of the sort.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Fete de La Musique

While I will not be here to attend the show, I encourage anyone who has the time to go and check it out. I will stop short of guaranteeing that it will kick ass. And do not ask me about what "fete" means, my French is limited to names of foods and food dishes, which is very limited, in the future I will learn to curse in French.

Please check the link.

Top 10 Ways To Make Jordan Cool

I did notice that people are reading my blog, so while I am away travelling; I want people to send me their own top 10 ways to make Jordan cool. You can find my e-mail address in my profile, and when I come back I will choose the best items from the various lists and add some of my own.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Olmert, Omlert, Olmert

I usually shy away from writing about the Isrealy-Arab conflict and the bullshit going on in the the Westbank and Gaza strip. So many people write about it, and more often than not, they usually write what I wanted to write.

I was reading the Yahoo headlines, when I noticed an article titled:" Olmert rejects international probe into Gaza beach deaths." It did not surpise me, only nauseated me. Mr.Olmert's reaction and statement is done by the book in the typical Israeli manner. The fact that if they did not do anything wrong, then why reject and the international probe, does not escape most people with the exception of some people in the US.

I can not go one writing about this. Ok, maybe I made a mistake by writing about this because it is futile. I am more nauseated now than before I started writing. Nothing will happen no mater what bloggers write. Our only hope in the short term is that democrats win the mid term elections. And even then, there is no guarantee in an American change of policy.

It is all sad. I can not write about this any more.

On Travelling

Inshallah, I will be travelling on Tuesday to the US for around 10days, so before I go I felt like writing a few words about Royal Jordanian, the airport and airport tax.

Let me start with the airport tax, which is a true crime against Jordanians, it was invented for reasons that no longer apply or make sense. It's history goes back to the days when the Jordanian Dinar lost more than 2/3rd of it's value and the government wanted to discourage people from travelling. Now, I think that we need more Jordanians to travel to go see the world and maybe bring back a good idea or a fresh perspective. We no longer need Jordanians to travel less. I am sure the government enjoys the extra tax income, but really this tax needs to be reduced especially nowadays with ticket prices sky rocketing because of the fuel and security surcharge.

The second thing that bothers me is Queen Alia Airport, my last girlfriend commented that it was depressing and gloomy. And I guess she was/is right. When you compare it with Hariri's airport, it really is. The other thing that really bothers me is that the booksellers at the airport sell crap, I mean really crappy books. Considering the human traffic going in and out of this airport, I think it is somewhat financially rewarding to have a decent or a halfway decent bookseller.

The third thing and last thing to bother me is RJ; they are enjoying overbooked flights and near full capacity on certain roots, so why are they not increasing the supply to match the demand, this completely baffles me. If they can not have more planes why not cooperate with other airlines? Also, I really can not understand this whole business with confirming reservations three days in advance, I can somewhat understand the logic, but how can other airlines do with out it? It is such an inconvenience, maybe they should check again and see if it is still useful, because I sure am not the only person to feel that it is totally annoying.

Shanghai Restaurant

Last night I went with some friends to Shanghai Restaurant. It is a Chinese restaurant located behind Haboub store between the first and second circle. It is amazing that I never knew it existed and apparently none of my friends did. So anyway, to cut a long story short, the place was full of customers, had good(very good) food, and was reasonably priced. A lot of the staff were Chinese, but I did not check on the chef who must be Chinese by extension. So I must say I highly recommend it and give it 8.5/10.

Stop Signs

10 years ago, when I came back from the US, I noticed that too many intersections did not have stop signs to determine whose right away it is. By contrast, even in the smallest towns in the US, every single intersection had a stop sign.

10 years later this situation has not changed and people are still getting into accident because some times it is not so straight forward to determine whose right away it is. If the government started 10 years ago by putting new stop signs at a rate of two or three hundred intersections per year, probably by now there would be no major intersections with out stop signs in Amman, how hard could that have been?

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Inside Man

Yesterday I watched "Inside Man" on DVD. It is a movie about a bank robbery. It differs from the standard bank robbery movie in that it combines two different movie genres, the clever bank robbery and the hostage/negotiator. On top of that, the stuff that gets stolen is not money but a secret hidden in a bank's deposit box some 50yrs ago. The movie has a happy ending except for the real bad guy who's secret gets exposed. It is a fun movie to watch. The acting was average or maybe a little bit above average, but Jodie Foster sucked big time.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Blogging and Farting

The title is a bit misleading. There is no relationship between blogging and farting, at least not that I know of.

I observed that a lot of the blogs out there stop short of saying: "Today, I woke up and farted." And yes some bloggers have enough readers who get excited by such news. I think that self respecting bloggers should refrain from filling their blogs with such crap.

Reading Cafes

I always found it annoying that people in Jordan are not into reading. I remember when I first came back from the US in 1996, the taxi driver I was with thought I was in college because I had books with me, as if only people in college read books. Things have not changed much since then. The only change is that there is more the one place where one could read in public without looking odd.

The list is rather short:

•Books@Cafe. Only reader friendly during the day, not in the evening or at night.
•The Mega Store at Mekka mall. Though the music is a bit loud.
•The French library at Paris Circle in Waybdeh. Toilets sometimes are closed because of them having no water for the toilets.

I think there is one more place, but I can not remember it at this point.

Needless to say, all of these places are overpriced if you want to read everyday and drink a lot of coffee. Starbucks stands head and shoulder above the rest in terms of having outrageous prices. I think the people who opened it are not very aware of the fact that we are in Jordan. Or maybe they are very aware since there is no shortage of customers.

The Future of Arabic Music is Here

Last night I went to the Balad theatre to attend Orange Blossom (France)
And Saboon(Lebanon), the concert kicked ass and I can tell you one thing, the future of Arabic music might be here. In my earlier blog about remixes, I mentioned the fact that there is very little remixing going on in Arabic music and that Arabic music is very much stagnant. I still think that is case. Yes, the concert was packed, but again half of the people attending were not Jordanians. Maybe, due to the fact that we are still in the middle of World cup. The concert is a one night affair, and I think that more people need to be exposed to these innovations in Arabic music.

In any case, the music was great, the whole package was great. The signing itself was not, but in this case it was somewhat secondary to the show. Also, most Jordanians do not understand Moroccan Arabic(The leas singer from Orange Blossom was Moroccan), so I suggest having a Moroccan Arabic school here in Amman to bridge the language gap. That being said, every one was able to go along with the music.

One last comment regarding the Balad theater, it needs major and minor improvements. The major being air conditioning, you could leave stuff to roast there and come back the next day to find it ready. The minor improvements include a web site which lists the events, and better sound system placement.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Total Stupidity Management

I look it up on the Internet but it does not exist as a field yet, despite the fact that there is a lot of stupidity going around in government, business, and everywhere. Hell, there is enough stupidity going around for 3 planets, not just Earth.

So this new management discipline, Total Stupidity Management or TSS for short, what would it involve? I am not sure, the goal is to minimize the effects of stupidity. It sure will have to draw from several theoretical fields, like psychology and industrial engineering and traditional management. It will also require the input of many people who have combated stupidity and lived to tell about it. Someone will need to put together a body of knowledge that includes field accounts and best practices of TSS. I am sure a lot of it will be art as much science, but the Science part, the "how to" part needs to be there as well.

It should not be something with a personal goal to accomplish, like in Dilbert books where the goal is to minimize the effects of stupidity on the individual. But it should focus on minimizing the effect on society as a whole and thereby allowing society and mankind in general to become closer to realizing it's full potential.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

An Opportunity Wasted

Considering the embarrassing situation the IAF(Islamic Action Front) is in nowadays, it would have been a golden opportunities for "liberals" and moderates to win over the people. Alas, no one will take advantage of this opportunity and it will be totally wasted.

The main reason is that there is nobody to take advantage of it. There is no outstanding "liberal" leader in the parliament who the press would want to interview. There is no uniting charismatic "liberal" person, who would unit the liberals and be their voice in the parliament. This of course is totally understandable, such a figure would be accused of heresy and of wanting to corrupt our "Eastern values" with western "cultural and moral decadence." This of course is total BS. The west had their own retarded values which they lost overtime.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Pizza, Yummi and Anti-Cancer Too

Though the days where I could eat a large Pizza on my own, and crave it again within 24hrs are long over. I was very happy to stumble on an article on "The Inquirer" in which they report that Italian researchers have found that a regular diet of pizza can help reduce the risk of cancer. They attribute this to the tomato sauce and olive oil which are major ingredients in Pizza. Check the link:

No Triangle

Last night I watched a movie called "The Triangle" on DVD. It was an above average movie about the Bermuda triangle and was somewhat interesting. So after I was done watching, I decided to look up some information regarding Bermuda triangle on the Wikipedia. When I was young, I had read several books about unexplained phenomena(UFO, Bermuda, etc,) and totally believed that something fishy was going on in that area and that planes and ships do not go inside the triangle because of the well known dangers.

So anyhow, what I learned from the Wikipedia is that there is no triangle. Yes, that is correct, ships and planes do not disappear there. Apparently, this whole Bermuda triangle disappearance business is misinformation and exaggeration by a book author called Charles Berlitz, who wrote a book called The Bermuda Triangle, which was later on adapted to movie in the 70s.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


I really hate it when the police use their sirens when there is no emergency just to have people move out of their way. I also really hate it when the police use their microphone and impolitely shout: "Hey Daewoo, move out of the way," or something of the sort. As if I am called by the brand of my car.

I do not think that anyone here in Jordan thinks that the police are well mannered, there are exceptions of course. But generally, they need training on how to behave themselves and act in a civilized manner.

The Rip off

Last night I went to Amigos with some nice foreigners and my friend Alaa'. In the tradition of taking advantage of people during world cup, we were told that there is a cover charge of 3 JDs per person which we accepted to pay with some reluctance. So the waiter said he would try to get it reduced because we were 10 people. We ate, had a few drinks, watched very little of the match and were ready to leave. It was time for us to pay the bill, and that is when we were a bit shocked. They made us pay both service charge and tax on the cover charge. We tried to argue with the manager who said he had no authority, and who tried to convince us that this is legal and normal, but neither nor we did not have much success.

After this rip off, I will try not to go to Amigos again. And despite the normally acceptable prices and the not so bad sandwiches, I now hate this place and would like to warn other people about it.

Friday, June 09, 2006


Arabic music in my own a opinion suffers from a massive lack of creativity. This could be easily remedied. Enter Remixing.

I always was pissed off because there are very little remixing going on in Arab music. I would like to see all sorts of Arabic songs getting remixed with different instruments added in. I would like to see remixes with Oud, with Khanoun, electric guitar, also heavy metal remixes, acoustic remixes, instrumental remixes, and electronic remixes, to name a few.

I am sure that some of these remixes would sound like total crap, but am also sure that a few will be good enough to go on and become classics.



I am a typical trader who imports stuff from abroad. My problems are the same problems that other importers face.
Sometimes my shipments would arrive from Germany, or from wherever on a Wednesday night. The customs have half Thursday off and leave at 12:00pm. They are also closed on Friday and Saturday, so if Sunday is not a holiday and there are no other holidays, the clearance company would get me my stuff by Tuesday, or Wednesday, which means that it takes almost a week to clear stuff out of the customs, it also means that the employees in the customs are only working 32 hrs per week which is really very little.

Considering how many people in trade and industry import stuff, I think that the number of work hrs at the airport customs should be increased to 40 hrs/week spread over 6 days, so that people in urgent need of their stuff would get it on time. I do not think that any person who imports stuff would mind paying a few JDs extra to cover the increase in work hours.

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21st Century

Here in Amman, if I wanted to get my signature notarized for matters related to property, inheritance, or the likes, I have to go to the Justice palace in Abadaly. And while I live in Shmisani, which is not far away from Abdaly, I find it really annoying that the institution of notary public is very centralized, as are other things in Jordan. This is really ok if we want to remain in the 20th century, but if we want to move to the 21st century, we need to start paying attention to how far behind we are. I want to find a notary public within 10min of my location regardless of where I am in Amman, Zarqa, or Irbid.

And while I am still talking about the same subject (the notary public,) I find the fact that one needs to have two witnesses present in order for the notary public to notarize powers of attorneys, to be totally retarded. It simply belongs to a time when computers and technology did not exist. It can be replaced in so many ways. For example, the person who is getting his signature notarized can also stamp his finger print, or alternatively two notary publics can do the notarization instead of the current one notary public and two witnesses.


Zarqawi's Dead, Long Live Terrorism

I will not really comment about Zarqawi's death per say. I will comment about extremism instead, and how we can slow it down or prevent it from growing, so that in the end we have much less terrorism.

I found several articles on the internet (Toney Blair interviews, Aljazeera articles, BBC stuff,) all relating poverty to religious extremism. The fact that poverty is more likely to lead to religious extremism than wealth seems to be evident (with very few exceptions). So with that in mind, I find it weird on Uncle Sam's part not to help a key ally in the region in getting rid of poverty. I say weird, because in the case of Jordan, a diminutive 200 million $ would do the trick. This need not come in direct aid, where there is some chance it can be lost along the way, but in the form of investments.

But before that, I think Uncle Sam can do something that is even more beneficial and costs much less. Uncle Sam can leave Iraq and the region. I know it is hard and it would appear embarrassing after all this BS talk about creating a democracy. Also, the date for Armageddon would slip by a few years. But that is no big deal.

Considering President Bush's popularity numbers, I do not think it can hurt that much. The worse that could happen is that his job approval rating would go down by a couple of points. Also, he can use a lame excuses for pulling out the troupes. For example, he can claim saving the troupes thousands of needless hours in the crappy Iraq weather.

One last method to reduced terrorism is to have more Westerners and Arabs know each other. If you had an American (Arab) friend and knew that they are not that different from you, then you will not think about Americans(Arabs) stereotypically, and would separate the actions of the governments from the actions of the individuals.

Thursday Night at Jerash

Last night I went to attend the Abu Hassan Opera at the southern amphitheater in Jerash. It was a great concert, reasonably priced for people to attend, and free transportation was provided. The amphitheater was almost full and I was happy to see so many people in attendance. I would say that at approximately 2/3rds of the people attending were Jordanians, and the other third was EU people and Americans. I know that I will be very happy when I see that you can fill it with Jordanians only, I will know that by then Jordan would have become interesting.

Anyway, after seeing the excellent turn out, I was thinking: Why not have events every Thursday night, regardless of the Jerash festival? I felt people would appreciate events every Thursday night. There is still very little stuff to do on a Thursday night in Amman, so why not fill the void?

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V for Vendetta

Today, I watch V for Vendetta on DVD. This movie simply kicks ass. It is an excellent movie, superb, ubercool, fabulous, great. If I had three hands, I would have given it three thumbs up.


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Where Are the Scooters?

6 months after the government allowed scooters back on the market; I still do not see many around. After almost a 20yrs ban, the government decided to allow them back on the streets, supposedly, to save on fuel consumption. I should not complain and should be very happy about this. Though, I must say that the timing for such a decision is off by at least 10yrs.

Considering the fact that they were banned due to accidents and what not, I hope that the government this time made it mandatory by law that people wear helmets and other protective gear. I also hope that they have a minimum safety standard for the scooters. Also considering how much we care about the environment (actually we do not,) maybe the government should have the scooters comply with certain emissions standards.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

"Partly Free," Yippi

While I was reading some information regarding democracy on the Wikipedia, I came across the Freedom House world map.

The Red colors are not free countries, the greens are free countries, and finally the orange are "partly free"

No Free Arab countries are shown.

Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, and Morocco are "partly free."

The rest of the Arab countries are not free

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Today I decided to see what sort of "iThings" are available on the internet. Of course, there is the iPod that everyone knows, iLife, and iTunes. I did a Google search and found the following interesting "iThings:"


I also did seach for "iMo" and lucky for me it is not there yet. It would appear that there is/was no "iMo" term up until the moment of this writing.


P.S if all these "iThings" make you want to fart, it is worth it to know that there is a software called iFart, but it is only available for Mac computers.

The Total Cost of Stupidity

I have been visiting Jordanian industrial companies for the last 4 yrs now, trying to sell them high quality stuff that has very little running and maintenance costs over their life time. I did have an acceptable amount of success.

One of the of most frustrating things about trying to sell high quality/high cost stuff is the alien nature of the concept of total cost of owner ship to the owners and purchasing departments of most Jordanian business. So much so, I no longer bother to mention it. I might as well talk to donkeys or preach to monkeys or sing to the deaf.

By my own conservative calculations, businesses in Jordan could save millions of JDs if they started looking at the total cost of ownership.

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Arabic Swords

While checking out the Wikipedia website to get more information about Katanas(Japanese swords) I noticed that the article on swords makes no mention what so ever of Arabic swords. Not being an expert on swords, unfortunately, I could not add any information to the article. So instead, I decided to mention it in my blog, with the hope that someone who has some information regarding Arabic swords would write something.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Time For The Trash Can

Two months ago, I visited Aquaba and my impression was like my previous impression which is that it is a nice city. I did notice one thing though, Aquaba had trash cans. Do I have trash can fetish, hell no. So why then would I notice trash cans? The main reason is very simple; we do not have them in Amman. If you are a responsible citizen and do not want to throw away stuff on the street, you have to keep the stuff with you until you are lucky to find one of the big dumpster type things with wheels.

I do remember when they had the orange trash "cans" attached to phone polls some 20 yrs ago, after some time they were damaged. But still this is no excuse. We talk about Amman being clean and modern and what not. Well, it no longer is. With the astronomical number of tourists and what not, even the armies of "garbage men," can no longer keep up, especially during the summer.

So, maybe it is time to bring the trash cans again.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Da Vinci's Code

I am still waiting for "Da Vinci's Code" to be shown here as it is being shown in Dubai. Yesterday, I read in the Arabic news paper that "nobody" has applied for permission to screen it yet. Somehow I doubt it. I know that there are a lot of political reasons for not showing it here and the Government has to have an official position on it. But it all does not make sense when the book on which the movie is based is available at bookstores.Not to mention the fact that the movie itself is available at video stores for rent and a pirated DVD version is available for sale all over the place.

The other thing that really bothers me is that certain people feel they have a monopoly on history and that all other versions of history that do not conform with their own version is considered a heresy. That is why certain people do not want the movie to be shown, because it shows a none approved version of certain historical events.

With the exception of modern history, I do not think that anyone should be 100% sure of what took place, every once a while a new discovery takes place that sends all we held to be historically true, to the trash can.

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Friday, June 02, 2006

Learning From Other People's Mistakes

I did get a chance to visit Solidaire in Beirut more than a handful of times. It is nice but half the places are empty. So I asked why that is the case. The answer was the fact that rent was set too high for people to afford. I do not remember the exact number, but what I remember was that it was astronomical by many standards, even taking into account how expensive rent can be in Lebanon.

I know that our own "Solidaire," or new down town will be ready in a year or two, and what I hope is that the rent would not be set too high. I know that it is probably all rented by now, almost 2 years before the opening, but what will happen a year after it has opened? Will it be the next "Solidaire"

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