Thursday, 28 June 2007

Goodbyes to Blair

After more than a decade in charge it is all over for Tony Blair. Where to now for the man who brought you the war on Iraq? It looks like he'll be envoying to bring peace in the Middle East. Nice.

Here's some goodbyes I found in yesterday's 'The London Paper':

"Tony's a visionary. I admire someone who sees over the horizon. I've heard he's been called "Bush's poodle". He's bigger than that."
(George Bush)

"The army is p****d off, police are investigating him; in any other country he'd be leaving in a helicopter from the roof."
(Rory Brember on the end of Blair's reign)

"He was a huge inspiration for me when I ran for Governer."
(Arnold Schwarenegger, Governer of California knows a great political actor when he sees on)

And what better way to end than with some quotes from the man himself:

"Hand on heart, I did what I thought was right".

"I may have been wrong, that's your call. But believe one thing if nothing else – I did what I thought was right for this country."

"In time you realise putting the country first doesn't mean doing the right thing according to conventional wisdom or the latest snapshot of opinion. It means doing what you genuinely believe to be right.

"That your duty of prime minister is to act according to your conviction".

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Unfriendly fire

"Afghan patience is wearing thin with such incidents. Although many still support the presence of the foreigners, Afghans these days speak of aerial bombardments and Taliban suicide-bombings as twin evils. President Hamid Karzhai has expressed his frustration, but tries to appease his countrymen. 'Foreign troops are like powerful drugs that cure a disease but have side effects as well,' he told a meeting in Shindand last month after fighting between Taliban and Western troops left some 50 civilians dead."

(The Economist, June 23rd 2007)

As well as the scary side effects, the problem with powerful drugs is that the more they are taken the more the body begins to depend on them. The result: the required dosage just keeps on increasing and the body's natural defenses just keep on weakening.

Saudi Arabia's Religious Police

"... the Haya's existence helps solve two pressing social problems: high unemployment and a very large surplus of graduates in religious studies."

(The Economist, June 23rd 2007)

'Haya' is Saudi Arabia's 'Commision for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice'. Different from the "regular" police their duties include making sure that shops close for the five daily prayers and enforcing modesty of attire. According to the article in the Economist, it consists of around 5000 agents.

Are they graduates in religious studies? Judging from the harsh impoliteness that they display I'm not quite sure they are, or maybe the module on character and good manners was optional.

Knighting of Salman Rushdie

"These are great times for flag manufacturers. Union Jack vendors did brisk business across the Middle East this week, as mobs vented their anger with a bonfire of flags and effigies of Queen Elizabeth".

(The Economist, June 23rd 2007)

Doesn't all this publicity and protesting work to increase his book sales?!

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Shisha

"... blissfully unaware of the consequences I continued to enjoy shisha socially every so often, even buying myself a pretty blue shisha pipe from Tunisia. However, after a little personal research, things look a little smoky again."

"... Whilst some will welcome the ban [outlawing smoking in public places in Britain], others will feel it is taking away the social traditions and culture imbued in Middle Eastern communities. Whatever the response, with the ban coming into effect in July, it seems this social drug may just go up in a puff of smoke."

(Tasneem Abdur-Rashid, 'emel: the muslim lifestyle magazine')

Shisha! What's that all about? It makes more sense to run around blowing bubbles. Good healthy fun that is. No two ways about it.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Interview Questions

Preparing (truthful) answers to tough interview questions can make for good self-evaluation. It serves well to locate your weaknesses, set targets and discover areas for improvement. Try these on for size:

- Tell me about yourself
- Why should I hire you?
- Where do you see yourself in five years' time?
- Are you a team player?
- Have you ever had to resolve a conflict with a colleage?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- What do you know about our company?
- Why are you leaving your current job?
- What are your salary expectations?
- Do you have any questions?

Forget not, these are not yes/no questions; example, example, example.

(Source of questions: New Scientist)

Monday, 11 June 2007

Bowing

Isn't it funny how you wait for a bus... and then three come along, all on the same route, at once? And how I've never properly thought about the concept of bowing (to a being other than God)... and then have three separate discussions on the same day!

Firstly, many religious groups are extremely exuberant in their love and respect for their scholars/priests, and so bow down (to an extent) to kiss their hands.

Secondly, there's the bowing that occurs within so many Eastern martial arts; towards the teacher when entering/starting the class, towards the opponent when starting/ending a fight, and so on.

Thirdly, as found in some cultures as a mark of respect for parents.

So, does the Shariah of Islam allow this kind of bowing, given that the intention is not for idolisation? I have no idea. Any website links or suggested reading/listening would be greatly appreciated, as would your thoughts.