Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Saudi Ban on Women Drivers Is Stupid

Put everything aside and answer this, if women cannot drive themselves, how will they get around? Maybe some in Saudi Arabia don't trust their ladies to get around, but what happens is the following:

The family hires a foreigner who is humble enough to act as a driver for the household. Those foreign drivers are no saints, they are many stories and incidents where the drivers have made a pass at the women they are driving. Two things are possibly the outcome the outcome:

  1. The woman talks, damages her own reputation and the foreign driver gets executed.
  2. The women keeps silent to preserve herself from shame and embarrassment (crazy I know), the driver keeps harassing other people or become more aggressive.
Not all drivers in the Kingdom are sexual predator, but the chances of this happening is real and to argue otherwise is burring ones head in the sand. Sure the driver is often underpaid, and cannot afford to bring his own family to live with him.

What if the family does not have a private driver (those are often a sing of social status and prestige) The female has to ask a male relative to take her to run her errands. The male can always say no or use that as an advantage point to get the female to do him favors or act nicely toward him. So if she wants to go visit her girlfriend in Saudi Arabia, a male has to take her there. Which in turn teaches young girls not to be independent and to be an extension of some male figure.

I have known a lot of Saudis throughout my life and come to conclude that many of them are intelligent and capable people who want to shatter those taboos. To me the ban in Saudi Arabia is about male ego and outdated social customs that have no place in today's world.

P.S. I do not personally drive and never have, so I know what it means to be in need of a ride!
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Monday, June 27, 2011

Tough to Agree with Evangelists When They Really Hate Me

On many issues of social justice and morale matters on life and death and on compassionate, I fund myself often in agreement with the teaching of the evangelists. They do not get a good name out here in Washington, DC, but I find them sometimes making bold stands on many issues dear to me. They do not often care for what's popular and often get in hot water for supporting what's right from their vantage point. I respect that.

The flip side of the coin, these people hate me as a Muslim I find most spokespersons for the Evangelists never miss an opportunity to bash people of my kind, my religion and my ethnicity. I doubt that what the Lord had in mind when he thought of his followers building his kingdom on earth. I am not alone in this adversary, many of my conservative friends feel the same way. For example, Mormons see an eye to eye with many of the Evangelists principles, yet Mormons get no love from the Evangelists.

Not sure what the practice here, I do not think it's a smart business to insult people who agree with you. Christ reasoned with those who disagreed with him, but many leaders in the Evangelists faith seem to neglect that. Alienating people does not help just like appeasing does not. Hate does not carry people far. So in a nutshell, the Evangelists agenda might not get far in America becasue anyone who might disagree with it, but has a different lifestyle than the Evangelists do, is doomed.

If you are unable to bring supporter and adversaries together, you will need to do a lot more work--needless work. The message here is this, "if you are not Evangelist, you are doing it wrong" does not earn you any friend becasue it's urgent and frankly;y presumptuous.
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Friday, June 24, 2011

10 Reasons Real Conservatives Should Love Reel Arabs

  1. We are as homophobic as you probably are. AIDS does not quite register with us, either.
  2. We love big guns and hunting. Different targets, but we agree on the principle
  3. We are all about religion. BTW, we are also cool with Jesus (even thought he likes to save, we like to trade)
  4. Just like you, we hate freedom of speech, especially when they mock religion. Art is just a waste of time.
  5. We constantly shout in a language no one can understand--kinda of like a Republican caucus.
  6. Abortion is not an option. We hate it, too, because the world can always accommodate one more miserable soul.
  7. Climate Change? sounds like Junk science to me. Say what? Pray away those things bothering us.
  8. Political parties and key governmental posts are a text book example for sausage-fests.
  9. Speaking a foreign language? We think Arabic is the center of the world, sure you feel the same way about your English.
  10. We reject science and like to do it the old way - love to lament the good old and glory days and misinterpret the history.
  11. We also say that we love minorities, but talk is cheap.
  12. We absolutely hate paying taxes and love gold. (good place for a “we buy gold” joke?)
  13. Working Women? What’s this? Maybe you’ll ask me about unicorns next!
  14. Like you, we want it both ways - government get out of my private life and go arrest that queer having sex in private.
  15. Drill Baby Drill? You have practically left no spot place at home without drilling it a hole in it. While on the subject of drilling, we talk smack about porn in public, but in private all bets are off.
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Friday, June 17, 2011

How to Get Through To Customer Service

I have been thinking lately, I should share with you out there how I manage to get through to the customer service agents, explain my problem and get them to fix my problem or make it right.

When I call customer service for any reason (cable, internet, phone, bank, package...etc.)I must confess that 95 percent of the time, I get what I ask for and occasionally I get little bit more than what I had on mind. Here's my wisdom on this very American matter as I have gathered for over 11 years of speaking to customer agents, I hope you find this list valuable:

Before you dial the 1800 number for the company:
  1. Be informed! Try to answer your own questions.
  2. Calm down, no one wants to help an angry person. This can be hard especially of the company screws something up. They are customer service, not anger management therapists.
  3. Pray that the agent you speak to yells at you or dispute your story. No company tolerates this, so you've already won.
  4. Shortcuts! Figure out the best way to reach the customer service by checking Get The Human, a great guide that will save you a lot of time if you use their shortcuts.

When you make the call, now the customer rep is on the line:

  1. Know their name, if you do not hear it, ask them for it. Use that name throughout the call, it helps both of you keep the conversation cordial.
  2. Be nice, and stay positive
  3. Speak up and slowly and whatever happens do not mumble
  4. State something you like about the company or the service if applicable.
  5. Explain the problem in basic terms and tell them you are frustrated by the trouble they are causing you.
  6. Make sure they understand your problem as the way you conveyed it.
  7. If you did something wrong, tell them it's your first offense and you were "unaware", or just an 'honest mistake"
  8. Listen well to what they say, most of time the customer agents speak like they are in automated mode, making them sound less human.
  9. Most of the time this would help resolve the problem you are complaining about. Agents have a certain degree of power to "bribe" upset customers.
  10. Rephrase what they agent has told you to make it sound ridiculous--if it's. Example, the a gas company wanted me to pay 30 dollars to open an account with them. "You want me to pay you money give you business?!!"
If your issue has not been revolved yet:

  1. Don't settle for less than what you think you deserve. I had this with cable and cellphone companies in particular. You are a paying customer, they let you down.
  2. Call the service number again and speak to another customer service agent, you might have better luck with a sympathetic ear.Keep in mind, not all agents are created equally. Some are helpful with some authority, others are just trying to make it through the day.
  3. If that doesn't work, you can always ask for a supervisor or a manager. They often have more privileges and are empowered to resolve issues. Make sure you are extra nice here, but be firm on your demand.
  4. The nuclear option is to ask for the cancellation department, the reps working their are their best trained customer service agents and are able to make you happy in all that's withing their power. Tell the agents their, you really do not want to cancel the service, but their action or lack of action is leaving you there. the rep will pick on that and address your concern. Again, this is game of chicken, if you have a real problem with them, then cancellation should be on the table. 90 percent of the times the problem was made go away.

  1. Lying
  2. Interrupt the customer rep., let them finish. It's rude
  3. No yelling either, no one would help a paranoid person. Yelling allows customer service rep to dismiss you. They are just doing their job.

Example, my cellphone carrier, had some network issues in the past few weeks in the DC area, a number of their cell towers went down. That caused me to have no service for few hours on a number of days. First rep was, this is a technical issue, you will need to speak to technical issues. I wasn't interested, the towers were down, I know it she knows it. I asked for a supervisor, he was non committal on what he can do for my to remedy the problem. Then I told you guys are leaving me no option, put me through to the cancellation department. I spoke to an agent names Press. "Hello, Press, I do not know how you do it in your life, but I know in mine, I never pay for a service that I do not receive." By the time i hand up, I have gotten a solid discount on my bill and a sweet bonus of 2000 minutes on my bill and both sides were happy for our business.
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The ADC Drama Judge Not That Ye Be Not Judged

"Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts."

Psalm 28:3

This verse came to mind when I read a particular article written by the longest-serving head of one of the Arab American Institute. The article was commenting on the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) controversy with the Syrian composer Malek Jandali.

While there are many legitimate concerns with the issue of canceling the composer’s live performance over a song, this should not be an opportunity for people with vile intentions to pile on ADC. As the Arabic proverb has it best, “when the camel falls, the knives are many”

Like many in the community, I was disappointed and channeled my frustration. The organization's silence combined with their poorly-written statements did not exactly help. ADC has gone into damage control mode and partially reversed their decision by playing the song at the Gala as well as acknowledged their shortcoming in a statement released Saturday.

But I have also seen that a few elements in the community started to use controversy as a stepping stone for score settling and achieving their own agenda.

How does ADC differ from many Arab American Washington DC based organizations? I can think of few ways:

  • ADC has a longer track record in democratic tradition than any other Arab American organization. Since the group’s inception the organization had many different leaders; unlike the other organization, it’s not a one man show. The community is diverse and with that diversity comes politics. ADC is only the they body where that diversity and complexity is revealed.
  • ADC welcomes all elements in the community. Everyone brings something to the discussion. Other organizations claiming to represent the community feel like a private club or a frat house where you have to be initiated and have to make a lot of money. Elitist of sorts.
  • ADC actually helps people in places that you never knew existed. I know of many cases where people were denied a visa and ADC has stepped in to help. Others have been discriminated against and found ADC by their side. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they fail, but they keep going on.
  • ADC is a breeding ground for many bright Arab American leaders who go on and do well for their country and for their community. A significant segment of the Arab American residents of the city have benefited from ADC. Many of them came to the area to do an internship or work for ADC to gain experience and go on with their careers.
  • ADC does not serve as a talent manager for Arab dictators and their associates. While ADC never pursues such figures, AAI chases wealthy dictator-friendly Arabs to get their money and then its head writes books about how awesome those dictators really are. ADC doesn’t do that.
  • ADC has an open forum for healthy discussion in the community where all members can take part of the discussion. This has not been so the past few years, but this is the tradition. Unlike similar organizations where even its own staff is intimidated and sworn allegiance to the gifted leader.
  • On a personal note, when Palestine had a rough batch of civil strife in the summer of 2007 and the borders were sealed, ADC allowed for me to stay in the United States and work until things calmed down.

So the next time ADC does something wrong, and trust me they will, remember you are not perfect either. For 26 years The Arab American Institute (AAI) had only one president who remains in charge. Because when others are wrong and you come to promote freedom and democracy, maybe you need to take your own advice and look at your track record.

This is an organization worth saving. I am reminded of an old saying, without people change is not possible, and without institutions change is never lasting. By the same token, ADC should not be held hostage by the biased politics of the few in its board. It must change or be changed.

For a long time, Arab Americans have inspired Arabs back home. This time, in the wake of the Arab spring, let us be bring some Arab spring to our community.

[Hat Tip:Kellee]
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Monday, June 13, 2011

Red Lobster On Facebook

Red Lobster On Facebook, that's what it said on their menu. Please find red lobster on Facebook. I knew the Facebook was so big right now, did not know that it replacing oceans.

I do not know about you, but I have not seen too many people go lobster fishing on the internet, but that's gross, you get your food from the internet!

Weather you get your lobster online or from the sea, you always have to use a net.

Hat tip: Kellee
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Halal Otherwise Haram Pizza Toppings

So, I found a little hole in the wall pizzeria on 18th Street that sells non pork bacon, sausage and pepperoni. I was so happy to find non pig meat favorite pizza toppings at this store to the degree that roa noticed my joy. It was one of those moments to pig out (pun intended)
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Friday, June 10, 2011

My Shawarma With Arab Comics

I love comedy and I enjoy jokes, and people who have a great sense of humor. I know many comics including many Arab ones who are quite entertaining. I am a friend of many of them and I enjoy their company until they start making comedy sound like some community service thing they are doing.

What I mean to get at is this, comics do not do their gigs as a community service to "empower" Arabs, jokes do not empower you one bit. Comics either tell jokes to make money or becasue it feels good to be in front of people. What I do not like is when an Arab comic brags about how their jokes are somehow a PR campaign for either America or Arabic--that one varies based on location of the set.

I want to see the Arab comics make all the money in the world, I just do not want to be insulted. When I hear them imply that Arabs in the Middle East love jokes and like to laugh, I feel like throwing up. They like to laugh, they have been making comedies for a centuries now in film, theater, and books. So do not act so surprised that they laugh. Everyone likes to laugh, you are not making a huge discovery when you see an Arab laughs at your joke. Yes, you are a great comic, but they laughed long before you, they laughed with you and they will laugh when you are long gone.

This mindset might be an American one, where they like to claim to are the first to doing something, just to help their marketing, ego or whatsoever. Maybe becasue they are the only one who has an HD camera and took it there to film a show some Middle Eastern village. Just like Starbucks did not invent coffee, they just figured a better way to market it.
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Thursday, June 09, 2011

Shake Shack @ Dupont Circle DC

The famous New York burger joint has reached our nation's capital. Their first store opened on May 17th 2011 and there were lines. It was slow, but it was not longer than 15 minutes. They only had two cashiers that night and about 15 people working in the kirchen area preparing food.

I visited the store on June 9th and there was a line on a Thursday night.

The burger: tasted good, the bun was made right, with a hint of some kind of oil or butter. It was chewy, juicy and the salt level was fair. Here's the bad news, it was tiny. way tiny, For the Shack Burger it was not that special in size, the taste was good. Maybe ladies would like the portions here more, but I know the dudes I know would like something bigger buns between those two fine buns.

The Fries: the shape is rather unique, but the taste like those commercial fries you buy in the grocery store frozen food section. They weren't bad, they just lacked the character and the flavor of those at Five Guys. The potion was also small, but that's the urban food where the healthy eater and the workaholic can share a meal.

The order came fast when our little buzzer vibrated, the food was ready in less than 7 minutes which beats Five Guys. I think the restaurant is good, but other than the custard and the dogie treat, and the catchy menu name game I find little originality even the logo screams as much.

I have yet to try their custard and try their dogs, I know a New York dog when I see it, that will be my next test.

The store lacks foucs like they want to sell you a million thing unlieke in and out who keeps the menu simple--unless you know of their secret menu.

It's like Five Guys meets In and Out Burgers with a touch of Dairy Queen.

P.S. The opening of Shake Shake was the talk of the town for months, not sure why we talk a lot about food here, the talk itself makes us happy. In Gaza when we talk about food, we often talk about the lack of it.
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Palestinian Websites Dilemma

You know that button they have on every website that reads HOME? Yes, the one that takes you to the main page on the site. This is really strange, on the news sites I read--mostly Palestinians, they do not have that button anywhere. That's right there is no Home Button on websites for Palestinians. One time, I thought I saw one and when I clicked it it took me to a refugee camp.
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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Rep. Weiner Muslim Wife Scandal

Congressman Anthony Weiner who has been sending private pictures for his man package to some women online has a lot of explaining to do. Fro starter he was raised Jewish in a New York Home and married to a Muslim woman Huma Abedin. He really dropped the ball on his marriage doing all this lewd pictures business. It's a shame, but it's not the end of the world as we know it.

My first thought about the Congressman's embarrassing actions and putting his wife in a bad position, making her look bad is this, he wouldn't be the first or the last Jew to throw a Muslim under the bus. Huma was left out to dry...

to be clear this has nothing to do about faith, this is about people making really dumb decisions. I wish the couple the best for both of them, but seriously the congressman owes his wife a big apology.
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Friday, June 03, 2011

You Need Help Taking That Out?

When I want to take a teeth out in America, they make sure there are three different doctors with different specialties on site. In Gaza when you want to take out something by far more serious than that say your kidney, you are lucky if one doctor shows up.

Maybe this is an unemployment in disguise.
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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Heat Makes You Go Banana

On May 31, 2011, I walked to work--it's a 33 minutes walk to work, a nice walk in pedestrian friendly DC. It was one of those extremely hot days, as you may have heard it's freaking heat wave in DC reaching 100 degrees, it was really warm and I have seen Dubai.

One that I had I had few items with me a half gallon milk container, a box of cereal and a banana for my snack. It was a green banana mind you and a brand new gallon of milk. I thought the milk will be good, it reads June 9th on the box, so I am ten days away from the expiration date.

The green banana on my bag was very yellow upon my arrive to the office, and and milk as I poured to serve myself some cereal--honey bunches of oats. It was SOUR! The brand new milk I bought gone bad ten days before it's expreation date....I have nothing to blame by the heat.

I was so upset about the milk and I was even more upset as I poured it all in the sink, then walked to the Trader's Joe to grab another container, because I will have my cereal!
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