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Copyright© 2001-2010, Renato Obeid
"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
Monday, May 17, 2004
KEEP THEIR HEADS RINGIN'
-of quizzes and politics
3.30AM MONDAY 17TH MAY 2004
Went to the pub quiz yesterday night.
We lost by three points – fair enough but I think that the quiz is getting a bit "murky".
When I was last there, two weeks ago, it seemed as if everybody was cheating except us – answers flying around all over the place.
And I'm sure that what I saw was just the tip of a chilling iceberg, an even chillier iceberg than normal chilly icebergs which are very chilly!
One of my teammates told me that a team was even disqualified last week.
"What do you have to do to get disqualified from this quiz?" was my astonished question (apparently they were consulting a laptop).
You have to really push it to get disqualified from that quiz!
It's like being kicked out of the Labor Party – they have a really high threshold for corruption.
Or getting reported and facing a disciplinary tribunal in a Rugby League game – how can you split hairs in such a melee, where do you start, do you report the whole team?
A disciplinary tribunal in rugby is as pedantic and redundant as the Geneva Convention in warfare or a condom in a porn film; a world away from the iron rule of Australian Rules Football I grew up with, where the post-match Monday tribunal was the busiest place in town – you're practically reported for not saying "please" and "thank you' in Aussie Too Many Rules!
Speaking of corruption, the taxi driver who delivered me down the mountain (one of my regulars) was telling me that his brother had failed to get elected to the local council.
Not the most surprising thing I've ever heard – any Lebanese political contest is like the Boston Marathon (everybody's a candidate, even the local manouchie man ran and lost) – but what was surprising was that this was the first time I've ever heard someone actually admit to bribing voters outright.
He told me that they'd paid scores of non-resident ring ins (living in Beirut etc) a hundred US dollars to come back to the village and vote for them (he called this a "gesture").
Wanting to keep him talking, I spun this as a travel expense, compensation for taking the day off (although elections are held on a Sunday) etc.
Even more surprising, he was upset that other candidates had come along and done the same thing but had outbid his brother – had paid three or four hundred dollars to the same people who collected both monies and promptly voted for the highest bidder.
I was going to suggest that he report this outrage to the electoral commission but I didn’t think that he would of have heard me over the deafening cacophony of bells tolling for him and pots calling kettles black and vice versa.
Also at the quiz, another of my teammates (an insurance executive) was telling me about the raucous week of annual conferences he'd just had – which, apart from some minimal occasional conferencing, mainly consisted of heavy drinking and partying.
Adhering to quite a different stereotype of insurance people, I was quite surprised at this.
He told me that insurance people are THE champion drinkers because, as he put it, "they're used to taking risks".
You learn something new everyday – I'd always thought that journalists were the at the top of the drinking league table due to the fact that journalists have to be drunk to put up with themselves and each other.
Saturday, May 15, 2004
South Africa to host 2010 Third World Cup
Friday, May 14, 2004
I applaud Arabs protesting the heinous Iraqi prisoner abuses.
Keep up the good work – protest prisoner abuse (and everybody else abuse) in the twenty-one other Arab countries.
Regarding those abuses, a Pentagon source told CNN that there are some three hundred and sixty photos showing this.
What are they doing – making a calendar?
Preorder your 2005 Pentagon Desk Calendar now!
Available only while (prisoner) stocks last!
Only 500 billion dollars!*
As always happens when something like this occurs, there's been lots of talk about the Geneva Convention.
Misplaced I think – how conventional can a convention that essentially allows you to kill people as long as you do it nicely be?
*My tallying of the total Pentagon annual budget combined with the cost of a year's occupation of Iraq.
Wouldn’t the Middle East and the world be better off if this money had of gone into a modern Marshall Plan rather than this martial plan?
Can we put this down to George Bush not being able to spell or is warmongering his natural tendency?
"You say Marshall I say martial".
Lebanese are a First World people living in a circumstantially, situationaly, structurally, statistically and hopefully temporarily Third World country who collectively behave as a Third World people.
Besides, who says that we have a Third World economy? - prices here are well above those of the First World!
Monday, May 10, 2004
Following the tragic assassination of Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov at a military parade in Grozny today, the renatoobeidsworld Foreign Office issues the following travel advisory to less than democratic leaders
AVOID MILITARY PARADES!
I don’t get it – you go to extreme lengths to protect yourself and then you just blow it all (literally) by sitting in full unprotected view of thousands of men with guns reviewing a military parade and the military preparedness of your country!
Are you that surprised when one or more of those men with guns decide to give you a more detailed unauthorized close-up demonstration of their weapons and preparedness?
This is akin to going to the Mardi Gras in Rio de Janeiro and being surprised at somebody making a pass at you.
I'll simplify this even further by putting it in the form of a mathematical equation
many armed men who may not all like you + one unarmed you sitting in on a dais in full view = trouble.
North Koreas Kim Jong Mentally-il isn’t as stupid as he looks.
After surviving an assassination attempt whilst on a visit to a military base, he now insists that all soldiers be disarmed for the duration of his visit.
Ten points for Kimbo!
The second round in Lebanon's "municipal" elections took place today.
For some reason, Lebanon, with a population of some three million, staggers its elections over four weeks (four Sundays) a la India, with a population of some one billion.
Lebanese "municipal" elections are the most "unmunicipal" elections I know of.
National politicians and parties seem to attach more importance to and expend more effort, money and time on them (when they're held every six years) then they do for the actual parliamentary elections (every four years).
The opposite of the "all politics is local" maxim, in Lebanon "all politics are national, regional and international".
In today's Beirut round, the slogan of one such national politician's ticket was "vote, vote, vote".
In Lebanon, as in almost any country in the world, some voters are so democratic and so keen on democracy that they just cant help themselves expressing this and celebrating democracy over and over by voting more than once but isn’t it a bit blatant when your slogan reflects and implies this (unintentionally I presume)?
Whatever happened to "one man, one vote?"
Whatever happened to "one man, one vote?"
Whatever happened to "one man, one vote?"
As with all elections everywhere, not all candidates win but in Lebanon, no candidate loses – there's always a conspiracy theory propagated by candidates who didn’t make it and their supporters.
IN-DEPTH ELECTION ANALYSIS
Filipinos go to the polls today in parliamentary and presidential elections.
As per usual in Filipino presidential elections, the list of candidates reads like the cast of Gilligan's Island – … the skipper too (former top cop Panfilo Morena Lacson), the millionaire (businessman Eddie Conde Gil ), …the movie star (actor Fernando Poe Jr.), the professor (academic Eduardo Cruz Villanueva)….
You work out the rest.
I just hope that my sophisticated political analysis has contributed to the informing of the electorate and thus the ultimate success of this exercise in democracy.
I don’t want much, that’s all I ask for.