Saturday, June 28, 2008


A few months ago I started working with our inhouse Catbert (all hail the evil director of human resources) on instituting a policy for foreigners working in the Frozen Wastelands to be able to go back to their home country and work from there for a temporary period. My rational was simple. Foreigners go back home see friends and family. So after the initial week off you start getting bored since all your friends are eitherway at work, hence my reco for having this policy.

Though I tried to be as logical as possible, still Catbert shot down most of the material and data I shared. Having exhausted all possible channels I decided to unleash the most potent of my weapons: Islamophobia. You see, we have one Muslim dude here who has been very vocal about having this policy since he wants to spend Ramadan in Egypt, which is a fair request.

So, we get into a meeting and this dude presents his case and I quote: "I can't spend Ramadan here, since Ramadan now is coming in Summer, which means I will have to fast from 2am till 10pm, which I can't do". Catbert politely asked a few follow-up questions to understand why so and then she understood that the fasting is linked to sunrise and sunset. And then Catbert's tone totally changed and she seemed to have developed an understanding for the need for this policy.

I was surprised how Catbert, a Frozen Wastelander, didn't object to the dude's claim that sunrise in the Wastelands is at 2am and sunset is at 10pm? Yes, the Wastelands is a northern country but 4 hours of darkness (in September?!) is more of North Pole territory! And just to be sure I did some surfing and here are the actual numbers:

1. For Cairo, and during September, the length of day starts at 12h 45mins and goes down to 11h 53 mins. Full listing here.
2. For the Wastelands, also during September, the length of day starts at 13h 35mins (only 50 mins more than Cairo) and drops to *drum roll* 11h 39m... yess ladies and gents..14 full mins shorter than the fasting time in Cairo! Full listing here.

Oh Islamophobia .... what can't you do?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Age of Information

Remember the good old days when all the statistics you got about a football match came after the match ended in the form of a simple table that listed four or five measures like: goals, cards, fouls, shots on goal? ah... I yearn for such days. Over the last few World Cups, I learned to accept that the statistics became more intrusive, often creeping into the screen in the middle of a good play, just to distract you. I also learned to accept how stalkerishly individual the stats became. Every now and then they'd show you how many shots a certain player did or fouls, it's cool.

Watching the Euro 2008 nowadays, I feel the organizers decided to take it to the 'Oh-yeah-we-can-calculate-THAT' level. Whenever a player is being substituted they'd show, along with the normal stats, those two annoying ones:
1. Passes Complete: 95 (79%). Why? Eitherway we don't see this stat for all the other players? And not to mention it doesn't tell us anything. He could have a low passing accuracy but passed a few brilliant passes that got the team their goals. And how are they calculating this? Is it automated or do they have a poor soul watching each player and counting (using an abacus) all passes and which of them is successfully completed and which is not?
2. Distance: 8.91km. Okay, for their own sakes, I hope that they have a GPS bug on all players that is reporting that because if they are calculating that any other way then they are truly showing off.

And if they have the technology (or the cheap abacus-using labour) why don't they put it to work on on some of those ideas:
For defenders:
- Untruthfully raising hand to claim last attack was offside (as %)
- Untruthfully claiming it's a goal kick not a corner kick (as %)
- Pretending it was a foul (as a %)
- Taking a dive for a penalty (as a %)

See the kool thing about those stats is that gradually they'll start to taint players who keep lying on the field. Not to mention, as more and more of those stats will be needed, I'll get into the abacus business and make billions of dongs! I'll then build a 3am dahab vault and swim in a sea of dongs....ah...that's the dream. And no, it's not gay. Not at all.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Give Us Their Heads! Or Their Balls!

As it is customary, the Frozen Wastelands landed in the same group as Germany, just like in the world cup. The couple have an itchy relationship not only on the pitch but off it too. Like last year's comments by the, often comedic, Wastelands president at an EU meeting about how his country would have more voting power if it weren't for Nazi Germany... errr... I bet the room fell silent after what he said, well technically after what the translator said. So in honor of what this newspaper calls 'bitter nationalism' and ahead today's opening game for both teams, a Wastelandees tabloid published a disgusting article that pictured the Wastelandees coach carrying the decapitated heads(!) of Germany's captain and coach?! Under the picture it read: Give Us Their Heads! Well, I can understand the wastelandees frustration seeing that they never won any game against Germany. But decapitated heads, with blood dripping and all, is maybe, just maybe, taking it too far.

So, as it is also customary, the Wastelanders had their asses handed over to them by Ballack et al. But the real fun moments of the match were those:
1. A wastelander defender stepping on Germany's striker's balls (yeap with the football shoes that have the pointy-metal things at the bottom ..OUCH) and objecting to the referee's free kick?! Dude, you probably popped one of his jewels, the least you could do is let him limp his way to a free kick in peace?!
2. This "Polish" player coming into the field in second half-time...err.. initially I was like, wait that's the Euro2008, right? Not Champions League? But turns out he's 100% "Polish"... amazing! : )

Thursday, June 05, 2008


I came across this video which was the highest rated video on for the last week, so I thought it's worth watching. I was wrong. Without ruining the video for you, it introduces this conspiracy to turn the internet to be run like cable (with packages of websites for a certain monthly fee) vs. the current set-up. I didn't do any research on the claims in the video, but even if they have some truth to them, I'm surprised how it's always easier, much easier, to blow any potential issue out of proportion than give it its right size. There's always something on the news about how Climate Change will wipe humans off the surface of the Earth or how back in the Cold War, a minor glitch can bring on a nuclear holocaust...etc. The most annoying part of those over-dramatizations is way they undermine what we, humans, are capable of. It's true that we have drove ourselves into a few pitholes, but if you look at our history those were the exceptions. Personally, I choose to have faith in our capabilities.

One of my earliest posts was about how oil will never run out. It's impossible for me to believe that we will sit there and drain the last droplet of oil with a big straw. Just equally impossible for me to buy was that Y2K was going to destroy us or that the Internet, as we know it, will end in 2012. Why? Well, specifically when it comes to technology, the world has seen this before. The operating system monopoly Microsoft had in the early 90's? It just took one man to start the Linux/open source revolution that changed the game. How about when Yahoo/Hotmail started squeezing your email inboxes and trying to make you pay (maybe like cable?) for higher capacity? Along came Google and changed the game and now everyone offers free 5GB-10GB email accounts. Why should we assume that the millions (or is it billion(s)?) of people who connect to the internet daily will sit there and let some corporations, however big they are, tell them how to use the internet? I read somewhere that Google has been buying alot of unused fiber and constructing a network across the US. Can you imagine the amount money Google can make if they offer "free" access to this network, in case those other evil providers implement this doomsday scenario explained in the video? Everyone will switch to the Google's network (Gnet, if you wish) overnight. And if Google didn't do it, someone somewhere will and that person will be the richest man on Earth. It's that simple.

Yes, I choose to have faith in our collective ingenuity. And I loath those who think that without them, and their armature videos, however hawt the anchor's cleavage is, the world will end.