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  • prequel

    "Top blog/Renato Obeid's World/Today's pick: This rambling weblog is worth reading not so much for its satirical posts but more for its insight into the minutiae of life in Lebanon, including the etiquette of road accidents and how to hire a taxi.” -Jane Perrone, The Guardian

    Saturday, April 21, 2001  
    Prime Minister John Howard announced today the appointment of the new Governor General of Australia, or should that be the new Ayatollah of Australia?
    For the new GG designate, who will take up the post in June, is the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane Peter Hollingworth.
    It's the first appointment of a churchman as Australia's head of state and the Queens representative but Mr. Howard was at pains to point out that the current GG is a devout Roman Catholic and that his predecessor was a self-declared atheist.
    So much for separation of church and state.
    Unelected right-wing senior cleric as head of state sounds like an Ayatollah to me.
    But maybe this country does need an Ayatollah, Ayatollah Hollingworth – there's an ad running on MMM, one of the country's major FM radio networks, advertising for prostitutes!

    Another safe smoke – the government health warning on this packet says "your smoking can harm others".
    F--- them, who cares?
    As long as those "others'' aren’t smoking cigarettes with a similar warning - that could harm me (being an "other" in that particular context).
    To counter my smoker's cough and smoker's rasp, I've been smoking more – a hair of the dog.
    Seriously though, none of this should be in any way construed as my endorsing smoking – smoking is a vile deadly habit that kills one in two of its adherents!
    Half of all long-term smokers die of smoking-related illnesses.*

    What more disincentive do you need than that!?! – If there are two of you in a room smoking, statistically, one of you is guaranteed to die from it!
    You're safer off playing Russian roulette!
    Russian roulette is safer! – Out of six people in a room playing Russian roulette, only one is guaranteed to die! (That's not factoring in the participants chickening out and deciding to play dominoes instead)!
    So next time you're having a smoke with your fellow death rowers, look around and know that half of them (including possibly yourself) are going to die of it!
    The best way to give up smoking is to not take it up in the first place.
    That I feel should be emphasized and worked on in anti-smoking campaigns (smokers are a different category entirely).
    Prevention is vital – after all, all smokers where once non-smokers!
    Even if you only smoke socially or occasionally, you should stop before smoking becomes the punctuation in your life.
    You wake up you have a smoke
    You get out of the shower you have a smoke
    You have a meal you have a smoke
    You have a break you have smoke
    Before you leave home you have a smoke
    You get home you have a smoke
    Before you go to sleep you have a smoke etc etc etc

    *Then again, all nonsmokers (still) die (anyway) of nonsmoking-related illnesses so smoking is arguably safer than not smoking according to my calculations.

    I’ve assured my young cousins that they can smoke as much as they like when they’re older and it won’t kill them – I will.

    I happened to find myself at the casualty section of the Westmead Hospital in Parramatta at 2.00am on Saturday morning.
    Somebody I was out with apparently got slipped a Mickey in their drink.
    Alls well that ends well – they weren’t "cured" by a medical professional but recovered during our endless wait in the aptly named waiting room.
    Our wait was understandable, amongst the distinguished personages in the waiting room ahead of us in the que were a druggie who claimed to be hearing voices and some sort of criminal who was handcuffed and escorted by two police officers.I was half expecting a Hollywood movie type situation, a la Diehard, where the criminal escapes and takes everybody hostage or something or other.

    Ansett Airlines, who have a considerable chunk of their fleet grounded at the moment due to insolvency issues, are claiming that they have a perfect safety record.
    Maybe that's because they never fly.

    Pauline Hanson is up in arms after learning of a leaked memo from one of her favorite fashion outlets, Que, instructing staff to not sell her any of their wares because they apparently feel that she can do their image harm.
    Never mind, she'll always have Kmart which suits her and her demographic better.

    There's just not enough sport on Australian TV, there ought to be more.

    The US/China spy plane standoff is over and I quite miss it actually.It wasn’t any Cuban Missile Crisis but it was the closest thing that this generation's had to it.

    They say that Australia is a classless society and they're right.
    People are a lot more easygoing here, down-to-earth, good natured, no airs and graces.
    It's also just a lot easier to interact with people, to get on with people – people here have a lot less chips on their shoulders and baggage and are less guarded and less complexed, a lot more natural.

    Although I'm staying in a mansion on a multi-acre property, outside the natives are getting restless - I do occasionally go into Campbelltown and it's a pretty rough area.
    Single mothers, welfare dynasties (family's who have had three generations on welfare – grandparents, parents and kids) and, just down the road from here, there's an occasional Westie intifada – youths throwing stones at passing cars.
    At night I always here police sirens.
    Those old enough to remember other times tell me that Campbelltown wasn’t always like this – that it used to be a quite, peaceful close-knit community until the dreaded three words that no Australian community wants to hear HOUSING COMISION FLATS came along and there went the neighborhood.

    About a month and a half ago I went to Katoomba (in the Blue Mountains) with Maha and Matt.
    On the sidelines, there was a quintessential Aborigine - a middle-aged man wearing a loincloth and face paint, sitting down playing a didgeridoo.
    Tourists where gathering around watching and yuppie Wasps were bringing their children up to him like he was Santa Claus or something.
    The kids weren’t fooled by this black bearded Santa though – they were quite scared actually, despite him playing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" for them on his didgeridoo.
    Who's going to apologize to them for that trauma!?!
    I even heard one mother telling her child, as she led her away from the "audience" with the Abo, "that was special wasn’t it"
    And I decided that I wanted an Aborigine – take him back to Lebanon for my little cousins, they've already got a Sri Lankan domestic to play with and this would make it quite a party.
    We then had lunch at some friend’s of Matt – a gay yuppie couple who had quit the big smoke to live in a caravan in the middle of nowhere.
    We had bought a roast chicken with us from the closest shops, which posed a problem as such delicacies in Australia are practically dipped in tar and there was no running water in this bush idyll (they had eschewed all modernity).
    There were no tissues or serviettes either (unthinkable for Lebanese!) and I had quickly used up the emergency tissue that I always carry with me.
    To make matters worse, they had two huge unruly dogs who jumped and slobbered all over me as their “parents” did nothing to stop them (there’s an argument against same-sex parents).
    My clothes were soon covered in dust and dog slobber (I couldn’t wipe my hands there) so I decided to kill two birds with one stone – clean my hands and get back at the dogs.
    I proceeded to wipe my greasy hands on the dogs when nobody was looking (they were cleaner than I was by that stage) – “washing” them by wiping them on one dog and “drying” them by wiping them on the other dog.It was a very pleasant afternoon and they were lovely people but I couldn’t wait to get back to Sydney and running water and a very placid lapdog that does a perfect statue imitation (the Boo Boo dog).

    Last time I was in Australia I visited a household where the dog was not as welcoming.
    The little terrier/terror ‘’greeted’’ me with barks and growls but eventually settled down, accepting my presence as a fait accompli, until I had the impertinence to call his name later on
    That reopened old wounds – every time I called his name he’d erupt in protest, barking something to the extent of ‘’I reluctantly accepted your presence but don’t need to be reminded of it and I certainly don’t need your impertinent calling me by name, now let sleeping dogs lie and shut up!’’.

    I arrived in Sydney on Friday 2nd March - I fled Melbourne as a refugee on the eve of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix that was brewing in the gentile lakeside suburb of Albert Park where I was staying.
    How can I sleep in the day with the din of bloody fighter jets showing off!?! - "practicing" for Sunday's festivities.
    If our air force needs to "practice" for a couple of laps over a race track then what chance do they have in actual combat!?!
    Out of the frying pan and into the fire – in Sydney it was the eve of "Sydney Day" as I call it, The Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras!

    One of the topics of the hour in Australia is still the GST (Global Suffering Tax).
    How it works is a bit of a mystery to everyone, including the government – it's talked about a lot but nobody quite understands it but it is all pervasive, it's everywhere!
    And that in my opinion is the essence of the GST – unhappy with a taxation rate that was already one of the highest in the world, the tax grubbing government just decided to tax EVERYBODY for EVERYTHING ALL OF THE TIME!
    Voila, the GST.
    And that's something bilateral, something that all political parties can agree to – there's a consensus on tax.
    Meet Joe Black; meet John Howard and Kim Beazley.
    Whilst it's true that you can't fool all of the people all of the time, you can indeed tax all of the people all of the time for everything!
    That the Liberal government campaigned on the GST and won the last election on the strength of that is testimony to the dearth of talent in Australian politics (probably the first and last time in history that a party gets reelected by promising new taxes! – "read my lips, yes new taxes!").

    The government announced a five hundred and forty seven million dollar "sports development program" yesterday.
    Apart from being outrageously wasteful (over half a billion dollars on sport!), it's a huge misnomer – I thought that sports were already pretty well developed in this country.
    A "sports development program" in Australia is like coals to Newcastle, Muslims to Mecca and single mothers to Campbelltown etc.

    Charity drives are getting more and more "creative", the most recent being a "shave your head for childhood cancer" charity drive.
    I can imagine them getting even more "creative" and outrageous.
    Is this a charity drive of the future?
    Don't be a wanker, have a wank for charity on Red Knob Day
    Go on, do it for the kids!
    Red Knob Day – look stupid, feel great!

    I think that developed countries suffer from information overload.
    E.g. on the milk carton it says "for further information call…"!
    What further information do you need!?! – It's milk, it comes from a cow and not a giraffe, drink it!
    And to make matters worse, it's a free telephone call!
    I think that people who are that stupid should have to pay for their telephone call to the 24 hour milk emergency hotline!

    I went to my hairdresser in Liverpool today.
    I'm pretty much used to him now, but there are three things that you don't want to hear from a hairdresser and I heard them all when I had my first and last haircut there (about a month and a half ago).
    "Things aren’t going too well in my business, house painting (1), at the moment so I'm helping my wife here (2)" – but in my country, I'm an Iraqi Kurd (3), I'm a hairdresser" (paraphrasing).
    Now who on earth gets their hair cut by an Iraqi Kurd!?! (Other than other Iraqi Kurds who seem to be his main clientele).
    My pointing out on these pages that Kurds aren’t exactly renowned for their taste is not going to be an exclusive world first.
    How many famous Kurd fashion designers or coiffeurs are there?
    Which is understandable and excusable I guess when you're too busy ducking Turks, Saddam Hussein and treacherous Americans*.
    I don't get my hair cut there (not since that first and last time), I just go there for grooming because Arabs (and they are Arabs although they pretend not to be) understand and have empathy with hair that isn’t on your head (i.e. on your face, neck etc and anywhere else that non-Aryans have hair).
    Although he has the mandatory magazines, with pictures of various hairstyles you're never going to see, on display and goes through the pretence of asking you how you want your hair cut, he seems to come from the "one haircut fits all" school and that haircut is the "Saddam Hussein" for older men and the "Oudai Hussein" for younger men (I had to go around looking like Oudai Hussein for the two weeks they say is the difference between a bad haircut and a good haircut).
    And he has a moustache.
    What is it about Iraqi's and moustaches? - All Iraq's have moustaches (and the men have them too)!
    When I go there to have my beard lopped off, he always asks me if I want the moustache off too (rhetorical question I'm sure - he can't imagine that anyone would actually answer yes) and when I answer in the affirmative, as I always do, he seems stunned and repeats the question as we get closer to that moment of doom.
    I practically have to sign a release for him to shave off my moustache – one day he'll probably regale the folks back home with the story about the crazy white Leb* who shaves his moustache off!
    Apart from its wonderfully diverse and multicultural inhabitants, Iraqi Kurd housepainters/hairdressers and all, the only other interesting thing in Liverpool is the train station – the recently upgraded twenty five million dollar Frank Lloyd Wright-esque (to my inexpert eyes) train station is a wonderful work of architecture that you only really see properly when you're entering it to leave Liverpool (at least you get a good last impression).
    Off course one (not me one, some other one) could argue that any place that facilitates leaving Liverpool is wonderful, regardless of its architecture.

    Note: Liverpool, Sydney, Australia should not be confused with Liverpool in the UK because they have one too – it's amazing how many English places are named after Australian places!

    * Like George Bush Sr. – "rise up against Saddam and we'll help you…help you get visas to America and Australia (Liverpool specifically, where you can be housepainters/hairdressers) after masses of you have been slaughtered".
    ** He didn’t believe me at first when I told him that I was Lebanese – saying, in Arabic, "It's impossible for someone so white to be a son of Arabs"

    Vietnamese are also on my hairdresser veto list.
    It’s not racist but merely aesthetic – have you seen some of the hairstyles on some of them (mainly the men)?
    Seeing that there are a lot of Vietnamese hairdressers around these days, this has led to a bit of an etiquette dilemma as to how to tactfully avoid getting my haircut by one of them.
    I told my cousin Sam about this and he advised me to “just point to someone (non-Vietnamese) and say ‘I want her to cut my hair’”.
    Sounds logical and straightforward enough but how would you explain it to them?Pointing to an assortment of women and saying “I want her” might sound okay at a whorehouse but I can’t quite see how I can pull that off at a hairdresser’s salon.

    A dentist I went to in Melbourne asked me how many cigarettes I smoked a day.
    When I replied that I was on about ten a day he said that, whilst in Lebanon that may not be much, in Australia it is a big deal.I told him that in Lebanon, ten cigarettes is breakfast!

    Although Australia's next Governor General is to be a churchman, the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane Peter Hollingworth, there isn't much religiosity in this country.
    I think that Australia, like many other developed countries, feels that it doesn't need God.
    There's a bit of hubris involved there.
    I think that most Australians are oblivious to God, the church etc – I was in town yesterday and this morning, Saturday night out in Sydney, and I saw an apparently intoxicated young man pissing on a church, literally pissing on a church in the middle of town!
    Whilst we're used to drunks relieving themselves whenever and wherever they get the urge, this was above and beyond that!
    Shades of Sodom and Gomorra there – one can just imagine Roman revelers pissing on their houses of worship sometime just before the fall of Rome.

    I can't' understand the international hue and cry over the Taliban's destruction of the Buddhist statues in Afghanistan – I really don't think it's the end of the world.
    The Taliban are the authorities in Afghanistan and they fell that the statues are idolatrous (which they are) – that's fair enough, unto each his own.
    Where was the outcry during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan?
    And if the Dalai Lama doesn’t like it, he can sit on a tack!
    The Dalai Lama is a theocratic feudalistic dynastic dictator – the only difference between the Dalai Lama and Ayatollah Khomeini is that the Dalai Lama is not in power thus has to cover up his true nature so he can return to power just like the Ayatollah once did.
    During his years in exile in France, Khomeini was revered as some sort of spiritual peaceful Mahatma Gandhi-like figure by the same loony liberal left-wingers who are now courting the Dalai Lama.
    The only difference now is that the Dalai Lama has his own press agency – Hollywood (the likes of Richard Gere).
    Something must be done to counter the insidious encroachment of the tentacles of Buddhism into the morally and spiritually hungry West.
    Buddhism appeals to more and more of these "bankrupt" Westerners because it's novel, exotic, easy and trendy.
    Supermarket religion - "I'll have a bit of Buddhism; throw in a bit Feng Shui and give me some of that New Age spirituality (sic)".
    Their own religion isn’t good enough – it's too commonplace, too hard so they just cherry-pick parts of other religions that suit them and they can live with.
    Apart from using these lost souls to further his political agenda, the Dalai Lama also benefits from them financially.
    Make no mistake about it; the Dalai Lama is a multinational corporation just like McDonalds or Microsoft.
    And a very astute corporation at that – he doesn’t go after the mass market like McDonald's do, but tailors his product to rich Westerners ("he's going for second and third homeowners" as my friend Noel Stovell* put it").

    *Noel’s official title is “Noel Me Mate”.

    I spent most of yesterday, Sunday, going through the Sunday trees – that is the Sunday newspapers which seem like entire forest loads of paper.
    And I say "going through" because just turning all the pages can take a whole day let alone reading them (which I don't on account that most of what's in them is nonsense).

    An American millionaire has just become the world's first space tourist – paying the Russians forty million dollars for that distinction.
    At that price you'd want to shop around!
    If I went into a travel agency and got quoted forty million dollars, I'd want to shop around – maybe the Americans, the French, other Europeans or the Chinese perhaps.
    I can just imagine this bloke coming back to earth and telling his friends "it's a great place to visit but you couldn’t (literally) live there (oxygen issues etc)".
    But he may not be the world's first space tourist after all, gays have beaten him to it – they go to Uranus all the time (a variation of the oldest pun in the world).

    3:36 pm

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