Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The workers and the natives

Dubai is a strange place, somewhat like a cross between Houston and Las Vegas. It is one of the most open of the 7 emirates that form the UAE.

It is open in a relative sense, the laws are very different than those in the west and much less tolerant.

Its population is divided into two classes of people, 10% native Emirati and 90% foreign workers.

The native people are given a free house, a villa, by the government, and from what I saw they looked upscale, but the receiver does not get to choose the style or location. The house can be inherited by family members, and rented out. It does not revert to the government.

The non-natives, can live in the country as long as they have employment. They are from everywhere, but especially Indian. If they lose a job they have one month to find a new one, even if they have money to support themselves, one month or leave. If they are convicted of a crime they are extradited after serving time.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Selling Voodoo

It was a cold rainy day, and two conservatively dressed woman with large shoulder bags approached the gate.

I knew what they were about.

"What are you selling?"
"We are not selling anything," One answered. "Would you like to learn about your family history?"
"You are selling religion," I said.  You are wasting your time here.

They stood there.

They were Mormons, and they believe not only in baptism, but Baptism of the Dead.  From Wikipedia:

In the practice of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), a living person, acting as proxy, is baptized by immersion on behalf of a deceased person of the same sex. After giving a short prayer that includes the name of the deceased individual, the proxy is immersed briefly in the water, then brought up again. Baptism for the dead is an ordinance of the church and is based on the belief that baptism is required for entry into the Kingdom of God.

They moved on to the empty guest house next door and left a flyer in the door for and The Book of Morman in the mini library.  I censored the library!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday night in the desert

In Dubai the weekend is Friday, the holy day, and Saturday.  The work week restarts on Sunday.  

If you drive south from the city towards Oman you rapidly enter an area of sandy dunes, with minimal vegetation.  

On Friday night people head to the country with food and wood for the fire. One can see hundreds of little fires in the darkness through to 2:00 am.  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Rosie Project

A sweet book from Australia, about a high achieving, socially inept guy and his search for a wife.  An original story that is a page turner......

A woman at the rear of the room raised her hand. I was focused on the argument now and made a minor social error, which I quickly corrected. “The fat woman— overweight woman— at the back?” 

She paused and looked around the room, but then continued, “Rational detachment: is that a euphemism for lack of emotion?” 

“Synonym,” I replied. “Emotions can cause major problems.” 

I decided it would be helpful to provide an example, drawing on a story in which emotional behavior would have led to disastrous consequences. 

"Imagine,” I said, “you’re hiding in a basement. The enemy is searching for you and your friends. Everyone has to keep totally quiet, but your baby is crying.” I did an impression, as Gene would, to make the story more convincing: “Waaaaa.” I paused dramatically. “

"You have a gun.” Hands went up everywhere. Julie jumped to her feet as I continued. “With a silencer. They’re coming closer. They’re going to kill you all. What do you do? The baby’s screaming

—” The kids couldn’t wait to share their answer. One called out, “Shoot the baby,” and soon they were all shouting, “Shoot the baby, shoot the baby.” The boy who had asked the genetics question called out, “Shoot the enemy,” and then another said, “Ambush them.” The suggestions were coming rapidly. “Use the baby as bait.” “How many guns do we have?” “Cover its mouth.” “How long can it live without air?”

Simsion, Graeme (2013-10-01). The Rosie Project: A Novel (Don Tillman Book 1) (pp. 10-11). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lucy - A good plane movie

This movie is pure art and little science.  Great action, colors and locations.

Suspend disbelief.  It will distract and entertain you for 10% of a 16 hour plane ride.