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Archive for October, 2009

Yesterday I was looking up the new “Nook” e-reader from Barnes and Noble. Despite the weird name (in both languages, Arabic and English), I am excited to look at this new edition in the e-readers market. I hope by November my patience to buy an e-reader would pan out.

Image credit to Barnes and Noble

Image credit to Barnes and Noble

I don’t usually post about gadgets in my blog, but I am excited about this product and I am a big fan of e-readers for so many reasons. One of the reasons is that I have so many books right now that it is hard for me to manage, and I hate clutter (I’m living in one and it is driving me nutts!). Also, I want to say that I would like to contribute (even a little) to saving trees (No, I don’t call myself green, but if there is an alternative to cutting trees then why not!). I like gadgets (the true reason!), and I enjoy reading. So, why not get myself an e-reader!

The one problem is that the “Nook” is only based in the US.. *sigh*. I know that the Kindle has an international version too, but I refuse to pay $260 for a device that uses proprietary software (yes, I’m a big fan of open source!). Also, the “nook e-reader” supports so many formats that I can read my own pdf articles. You can also view books in Arabic (pdf), which is great but you can’t use all the fancy applications with it, which is fine.

According to Barnes and Noble FAQ. “When you travel abroad, you can read any files that are already on your nook. You can connect to Wi-Fi hotspots that do not use proxy security settings, such those commonly used in hotels, and download eBooks and subscriptions already in your online digital Library. You cannot, however, purchase additional eBooks and subscriptions.”

Also note that you can buy e-books online. So, for a way around this, maybe I can buy my e-books online using my US bank account, and since it will already be in my online digital library, it will sync to my e-reader.

So, I am excited and need someone to be excited with me. I am living among people who do not know what a netbook is let alone an e-reader! (they don’t really need to, they don’t read *sigh*)

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Alright, so I went to a lecture at the Grand Mosque on Sunday. Prof. Richard Bulliet is a professor of Islamic Studies at Columbia University who came to Oman recently to give a lecture (or to promote his book, whichever) on Islamo-Christian Civilization.

I must confess that I didn’t research the guy before going to the lecture and I guess that gave me a clean slate in which I can judge the professor from my own perspective (though it would have helped if I did!). So, for this post, I took notes.

In brief, the lecture was about promoting an idea of an Islamo-Christian civilization vs. the Clash of Civilization ideology. I had many questions concerning this lecture because the professor’s goal from this lecture was sometimes vague.

When the professor talked about the idea of “the clash of civilizations” he didn’t give any explanations towards what it means. Instead, he attempted to say that the clash of civilization is “hateful and negative” towards Islam. Now, I know that this ideology is not the most positive thing in this world, but it holds a lot of truth in it. The main idea in Huntington’s theory behind the clash of civilization is that people’s cultures and religious identities will be the source of conflict after the Cold War. Now, when Huntington explained his theory, he didn’t just focus of Islam (the professor made it seem as if it was another conspiracy against Islam!). Instead, he talked about the major religions and/or regions.

Now, I have to be honest, I was somewhat annoyed with some of the professor’s statements. Maybe it’s just me, but he seemed to try too hard to promote himself as the “loving and understanding guy towards Isalm” and that everyone else was hating Islam. One statement was: When September 11 happened, everyone thought Islam was a threat, but I kept telling them.. no, it wasn’t, Islam is great.. but no one listened to ME!! …

Or, when saying that “Billions of dollars are spent on a danger that is not great!”.. he was talking about Afghanistan here.

Or when talking about an article he had to look over that had eight verses from the Quran that were negative and he tried to ask the editor to change those into some more positive verses (by asking a Muslim) and the reply was “we are asking YOU to do it, not a Muslim”..

Most of the professor’s stories to prove that America doesn’t like Islam are based on things that happened seven to eight years ago. I would like to think that America’s view towards Islam has grown or matured at least a little bit. Also, many of the educated Americans know the difference between Islam and Muslim extremists. At least that was my personal experience.

I mean common Bulliet, we really don’t need another American promoting the theory that America is conspiring against Muslims.  Whether you meant it or not, the lecture was only feeding your listeners what they already think is the absolute truth. However, the truth is.. Many Muslims (and Omanis) who are not well educated know nothing about Christianity or Judaism. I mean, it bothers me that what we always ask is “what are they doing to understand us?” do we ever ask, “what are we doing to understand them?”..

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Office Gossip (1)

Okay, here is what I found out:

1- My company pays 120 R.O for each cleaner, but the company that brings us the cleaners pays them only RO 35/- a month.

2- The company also pays RO 300/- for each security guard we get. Apparently, their agency pays them around RO 120/- each.

3- No one likes the girl I hated in the office… She is rude to everyone and not just me! 🙂

4- Our boss was granted the Omani national after completing 10 yrs in Oman. I must admit, he looks good with the  traditional dress.

5- A higher boss has been living in Oman for 37 yrs, but they wont grant his the citizenship. He has grandkids and he is OLD now! poor thing.. I think he served the country well and deserves more than just a citizenship!

—- yup, didn’t work much today, strangely I feel good about it!! not a tiny feeling of guilt… None! Nada!

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Since I held my job in Oman I have been having a hard time adjusting to the male-female boundaries and relationship at work. Yesterday, I complained to one of my male relatives (who is more open than others) about a male co-worker who always finds a way to be inappropriate.

After listening to my complaint, my relative concluded that it was my fault. I am not strict enough with my co-worker. Though I view my relationship with him as formal and sometimes casual, apparently I must never assume that he should always respect me. Here, women have to constantly demand respect and never be lenient. Not once because that one time would be the key to inappropriate conversations.

I told my relative: “Why do women always have to protect themselves from inappropriate male behavior? Why can’t men assume that they have to respect women up front, instead of women constantly having to prove themselves worthy of respect?!” Then, I told him that this was not the experience I had in the US, well, the reply I got was harsh: “This is the culture you live in and you have to adopt a new attitude if you want to live in it. If you don’t like it then move to another country that fits your culture!”… ouch!

The problem I am facing is that I do not want to be that girl that is constantly thinking about what precautions I have to take to not cause the opposite sex to disrespect me. I want to be respected. Period. This culture surrounds the male’s animal instinct. Women have to build walls and walls just to gain respect. Those walls have to always be maintained because a woman can never fully earn respect. It is an ongoing process that never ends.

Tired!

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Al Jazera and H1N1 Report

Just a quick post..

For a couple of days we have been receiving text messages urging us to watch Al Jazera’s report on H1N1 vaccines. Well, for this report, Al Jazera chose to interview Dr. Leonard Horowitz. So, an hour ago, I have tried to listen to this guy, but it did not take me more than 5 minutes to know that there was something wrong with this whole thing.

First of all, it was a one man interview. The interview was about how H1N1 was created or produced in labs, and then distributed to people on purpose (talk about conspiracy!).. not just that.. the genetic engineered formula for the virus was a mix between a 1918 corpse and the bird flu virus… hmmmmm.. all humans will be extinct soon, and he asked the interviewer to check “google” to verify that all that he was saying was true and backed up by scientific research..

I went online to look up this “general specialist on infectious disease” and found his website. He has many published books funded by “himself” and a list of head titles including “The Apocalypse Prevention Project” ..  “Horowitz’s awesome super-food that keeps him energized, sugar-balanced, and slim”….

Also, he was recommending that no one should use the H1N1 vaccines because he claims they are not tested well. This same guy, in 1993, claimed he was able to develop a cure for SARS. In 2004, the FDA sent him a warning letter stating the following about his drug:

…. they are not generally recognized by qualified experts as safe and effective for their intended uses …. the Act prohibits their marketing in the United States without approved new-drug applications…..their labeling fails to bear adequate directions for use for the conditions that they are intended to treat.

Okay Al Jazeera, next time a more reliable source plz!

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Its been a while since I blogged about stuff here in Oman, but there has been some certain things that I see that annoy the hell out of me. As you see from the title, its about people showing off their slaves in Oman…Yes, slavery is abolished.. but apparently this tradition is still alive and well..

A few weeks ago I went to an engagement party “Malka” for someone in the family. The male was a cousin of mine and we were going to see his bride to be. So, we walk in to the living room, sit down.. and I see all these older black women. At first, I thought they were part of their family. I think I was hopeful or being wishful that these people intermarry with Omanis of various ethnic background. Well, I was wrong.

There were many of of these women sitting, then they started serving us food. Going around to give us coffee and sweets. I didn’t think much of it then.

On the way back home, I asked a relative of mine if those women were their relatives, and the answer was “NO!”. They were their “khedaam”, meaning slaves. “Huh,” I said, “we don’t have khedaam in Oman!”, well.. apparently, they were their slaves at one point in time, before slavery was abolished. The “bride to be” family apparently used to own many slaves and whenever they have an occasion they invite their ex-slaves to come and serve the guests. They do pay them though, but the idea was to show off how many slaves they had in order to impress us.

Some people do that in many occasions, such as funerals, weddings, eids, and large gatherings. It gives them a sense of power and importance because back in the day, you only had slaves if you were wealthy and an important person within your tribe.


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