Thursday, June 28, 2012

On Culture, Conservatives And Liberals Differ

This is true in most cultures, I find this particularly true in most Arab/Muslim states as well as here in the United states.

Conservatives: ever proud of their own culture, wary or indifferent of other cultures.
Liberals: critical/cynical of their own culture, open to other cultures.

Where I am coming from: the liberal Arabs, tend to speak foreign languages and shame those who don't as uneducated and "do not understand how the world works" This is true in Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon and the Gulf states. I do not think you can get one single resident in Beirut to speak a full phrase in Arabic without using a French or English word. You go to New York and people actual go to watch movies in foreign languages and embrace anything new.

In America, you got New York City/Hollywood where anything goes and all world's cultures intersect. And you have the South, where see nothing wrong in America and point fingers at those who speak in other tongues or embrace things that are un-american. Such voices refuse the teaching of other cultures just like Arizona did when they banned ethnic studies.

Most people are somewhere in between
Continue Reading...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Attitude Is Different, The Actions Are The Same

For a really long time, I have had a hard time why so many Arab people fail to explain themselves politically to people in the West. And I think I now have figured something important. At first when America was not at war, people found it easy to preach universal principles to others. But then when the games has changes, they are having a hard time explaining some things they hear in the news. They just do not want to think about it. And in order for them to get a better night sleep, they will say, the other guy would have done much worse than we have. While this is true....when the US constitution was written, they did not want to copy the other guys.  

In college, my peers would tell me, we do not kill people here in America, but you do kill them back home. I am often speechless as I see this is to be true. I think this is about attitude at the end of the day. Terrorists are dubbed as people who seem to enjoy murdering people, but armies in uniforms are giving a break. Because they have a code of conduct on paper. And such armies would open an investigation in their wrong doings. Good luck with that!    

But then, things now have changes with the war in Iraq, Afghanistan, some pars of Pakistan and Yemen and elsewhere. I have realized that when it comes to killing someone "we" deem as a bad guy, we like to think we do not want to do it, but it's something we have to do.

To begin, I think many of us Arab people were not quick to denounce and condemn suicide bombs and indiscriminate killing. While many did not like the approach, few spoke up against such brutality. It was stupid to try to defend or justify such actions. Luckily for us, Palestinians are no longer using that tactic.  

But then now, I read about drones killing innocent people by mistake, many in Yemen and Pakistan have lost their lives because someone made a mistake. Do I see many American speaking against such brutality? No, but I really know they do not like it. A drone makes killing so easy and so cheap, so America is using it to get rid of bad guys--as they should. But then there's the collateral damage that no body wants to talk about. Exactly like those suicide bombers tried to argue.
Arabs do not celebrate, glorify death, they really hate it and at least the religion teaches people not to celebrate death of people we do not like. That's why is was a shame than many Americans celebrate often the death of bad people. Upon learning the news of Osama's death, many rushed to the White House to cheer and celebrate. I am certain those people felt justified as Osama was a murderer.

So recap, Israelis kill people and so do Americans. When they get caught they say, this was  a mistake and they pay up--cannot really bring back the dead. Other guys kill innocent people and try to justify it. After all this is a PR game, wear a suit and speak perfect English more people will listen to you--as long as you are not shouting.     
Continue Reading...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

UAE Maryam Darwish, She Can Fix Your Car

In pretty much all countries mechanics are almost exclusive trade saved for men. Even in developed countries female car mechanics are considered a novelty. Not too many females grow up thinking they want to be grease monkeys, but guys do not seem to mind it.

But in the United Arab Emirates, there has been a recorded case of a female who is very capable of fixing one's car. As you know, most mechanics tend to take advantage of female drivers where they bring their ar in for service.

She is a mother and wanted a job to bring home the bread. She applied to some trade school and they trained her well. She confesses it was not easy at he start. Her kids protested at first, but then the came around to it. I like how she closes the interview by saying that I want to show them that women can do pretty much anything.
In the UAE
 مريم درويش: أوَّل إماراتيَّة تعمل في تصليح السيَّارات
Continue Reading...

Friday, June 08, 2012

How Capital One Bank Tricked Me

When I first came to the States more than a decade ago, it took me a few months to understand the concept of debit vs. credit cards. It was so confusing at the start because why would they credit me when I am borrowing money, or use my card to debit me when I have cash in the bank? But later, I figured out, cards are more about the bank and less about the consumers.

I did not want to get a credit card until my friend Adnan, who is an educator, told me you need these things to build a financial report in this country to show that you are financially responsible. If borrowing money is the only way to show that you are responsible financially, then all my broke cousins would be kings in this country. I could never get a credit card at home because for starters, few vendors (if any) accept them. And there is also the part where I do not talk like a city boy and that disqualifies me from rolling with that suit wearing crowd resented by pious people. My college bank gave me a credit card with a 500 dollar credit limit, then a year later it became 700 dollars and it went bigger and bigger. Wells Fargo also offered me one, and it seemed that everyone wanted to give me money and a free t-shirt, too.

Plus, as someone who came from a war zone that has virtually no mail or postage system, getting stuff in the mail was an out of this world experience. I loved getting stuff in the mail, even junk mail was exciting at the beginning. Until a few years ago, when Capital One offered me a credit card that would earn me airline mileage every time I use it. Nevermind that I am a Palestinian and few countries would want me to travel to them anyway. And there is that thing about flying as a tall and dark man in today’s security-obsessed world. I applied for the card and got it.....but the miles never started coming as fast as I had hoped they would come.

Unlike many, I have not lost a home in my dealings with the bank. I just feel that I was cheated. Recently, I got a new Mastercard from Capital One that I do not recall ever applying for. Up to that point, I only had Visa cards, and it was exciting to add one to my collection of credit cards where my name is inscripted. I started using the card as needed, but then I learned the card does not actually earn any miles yet it charges the same interest rate as the one that earns miles. Since both cards are linked online to the mile/award system that they both earn miles. But why would someone with a head on his shoulders use a card that gives them nothing back? My Discover card is pretty good about giving cash back, even the Capital One Visa credit card that I initially had was giving something back.

When I called, the first line of defense for the bank could not figure out why they would send me a card I never applied for. Then comes the second line of defense, with the name of Chris and radio worthy voice.  He did not figure out why I would get the card, but he offered to upgrade my account so that I could start getting air miles. It took them two years to figure out that people prefer getting something back. Chris said he was really sorry about the confusion and the miscommunication. I was really frustrated because I would chose to use Mastercard over all other cards, assuming my miles were adding up and my next trip seemed so soon (I really do not like to fly, something tells me I am not the only one). When I asked Chris to close my account, he understood why as a follow consumer. He tried to talk to the managers, but they came back with nothing. Ultimately, I spoke to the big cheese, a lady with the name Marty (or something really close). She is the senior manager. She could not figure out why I would get that card either and suggested giving me an address where I can mail them a letter. C’mon, lady, a mailing address, what am I, do I sound like I am 80 years old?

Right before I ended the call, I asked her, consumer to consumer, do you see my frustration? Why would I use your card that does not give anything back over your other card that comes with perks? She validated those remarks. Even mighty Marty was no help, though.

My negligence and faith in the credit card issuer combined with the bank’s greed ( some may call it incompetence) managed to leave a bad taste in my mouth. Even for someone like me who came with the understanding that a bank is a place where you put your money to keep it safe, who has no need for credit cards, have been sucked into this system. A system that if you want to leave, you are told your credit rating will take a hit. No wonder some of those banks thinking they are too big to fail really believe that. I do not hate all banks, I love my college bank in Utah where I still have an account. I am all for the creation of wealth and prosperity.

I did not realize the twisted logic of credit cards I started to explain the concept of credit cards to my wife. It really sounded ridiculous, so together we’ve agreed not to go down the rabbit hole. I like one particular quote from Gordon B. Hinckley on this matter “Pay off debt as quickly as you can, and free yourselves from bondage.” as told by

I am sure some fat bank executive is sipping a tropical drink on a beach somewhere in Barbados courtesy of poor people like myself. I am sure he did not have to worry about mileage, I only hope the good people at the TSA gave him a very close encounter.

Continue Reading...

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Why Facebook Really And Truly Sucks?

I think Facebook is a great tool to connect with people you do not see often or people who have moved away or live away from where you live. I do not deny that is brings people together and helps people keep tabs on their friends-and their foes.

But in general, I do not like Facebook, for one reason. It's a place where people share happy news, and exciting things in their lives. A trip they took, a party they had, a picture of something nice they have spotted. Such collection makes viewers thing, that life is all happy and everyone's life is so much more fun that our own. When in reality, we might have a one good day in the week where we smile and look happy, but the six other days, no one would be able to tell how hard life really is.

For example, few people would post a picture of themselves at work--if they do they might get fired. They cannot badmouth their office because someone is watching and bad news travels fast. Plus Facebook is not a place to broadcast all the things going wrong with your life. No body wants to find out about your tumor, or about your liver and kidney failure. You would not share that. And you certainly, would not tell your virtual friends, that your mom just passed away.  I am sorry it just does not seem sincere nor proper to use Facebook as a for to commiserate when others are posting pictures of them at some concert or their seaside BBQ.

So in that sense, Facebook gives you a false indicator about other people's life. It makes you think your life really stinks and everyone is cooler than you. Some of course go invite a cool life for themselves and start making up stuff to keep up with their virtual friends. This makes Facebook a place where people try to outdo one another in having the most time to waste.

To sum, Facebook is like that party you go to, everyone seems to be happy with the usual awkward few. I might be different or see it from a different vantage point, but I know life is never as exciting as Facebook makes it seem to be. Even though I consider myself to have a perfect life, I know things are not as shiny as they may look form the outside. 
Continue Reading...

Friday, June 01, 2012

Older Men And Finding Law in Lawless Gaza

My latest articles on my experience with laws and justice in Gaza

When I was in Gaza, I was amazed with how local family councils were able to establish rules and handle situations that some of us in the United States might expect the state or police to deal with. Each family in Gaza has an elder who represents them, speaks on their behalf at meetings, and whatever is agreed upon will be followed by each family. For example, I remember a while back a situation arose when a guy from a different family spit on a dentist from my family. The elders of the families met and made the situation right. The guy who did the spitting had to apologize in public and the dentist's ego was intact. No one had to go beat the guy up or attempt to send spit his way.

read the article on the Huff Post
Continue Reading...


My Hanitizer

My Assault on Proper English Must Go On


Hanitizer Copyright © 2009 WoodMag is Designed by Ipietoon for Free Blogger Template