Friday, December 25, 2009

On Offending Argentines

Well it's about time, I need to add another nation to my "must rip on" list and I think I got a head start on Argentina:
Overexcited Argentine: MAN! You have to try dulce de leche!
Fesh: uhm, what?
Overexcited Argentine: Dude, this is the REAL stuff a true Argentine desert which is AWESOME!
Fesh: Oh, wow, yeah I should try that!
Overexcited Argentine: Oh yeah, wait I'll order some for desert right now!
Fesh: Okay?
Three minutes later, waiter brings some ice cream, Fesh inhales it.
Overexcited Argentine: SO???
Fesh: What?
Overexcited Argentine: How do you like dulce de leche?!
Fesh: Do you mean this wasn't regular ice cream?
Unamused, but still overexcited Argentine: Not the ice cream! The sauce on it! That's the dulce de leche and legend has it that it was invented by mistake when an Argentine was mixing some milk and then something fell....
Fesh: Let me stop you here, wasn't that sauce caramel?
Visibly angry Argentine: NO IT'S NOT, it's dulce de leche, invented by an Argentine.
Fesh: Dude, even on the wiki page of dulce de leche it says it tastes like caramel, which means it wasn't invented by an Argentine, rather it was invented by a very hairy man, in his cave, right after he was finished with this new round thing he called The Wheel.

.....and that's how you trash a national desert. It's that simple.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Black Fesh 9.0

"I know why you're here, I've prepared everything. I've used rabid monkey blood, really old blue cheese and snake teeth grind", said the creepy old man as he pointed to his dark and evil creation:

"Uhm....", hesitated Fesh.
"What's wrong?", asked the COM.
"Nothing, but actually I'm doing my MBA now and I'm wondering if you're hiring?", said Fesh as he handed the COM his resume.
The COM checked Fesh's resume, "hmmmm, nice, nice.... any experience in strategy?".
"errr... well, I'm a very quick learner and I'd love to join your fine institution here and learn more about strategy", replied Fesh nervously.
"Ouuuu, that's unfortunate, we had a position in our corporate strategy group that we were looking into filling. Wish you the best of luck in your job search.", concluded the COM.

[Yes, the blog has been in hibernation for the last 4 months, b-school side effects, I'm still alive, planing to watch the match here with the proud North Californian crowd, woho!]

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gender Roles

The topic of the day on the radio was traditional gender roles and what people think of them. The presenter gave the example of cooking, which traditionally falls under the duties of the wife, and asked listeners to weigh-in with their thoughts. As I listened, I plotted the answers in my mind. The X-axis started with the conservative camp and the farther you moved to right the more liberal you get, until we reach the answer a Swedish wife would give. That would be, of course, close to positive infinity. On the other hand, the Y-axis represents the number of opinions at each point of the X-axis.

Statisticians would tell you that you should expect a neat bell curve, which means there will be a sweetspot in the middle where we have the most opinions and then the farther you go away (either more liberal or more conservative) the less number of opinions you should get. But interestingly, the exact opposite happened. An insane amount of listeners were extreme in the their opinions from the uberConservative declaring it's God's will that wives cook for their families to the ultraLiberal who preached equality. The moderates were puny in numbers and opinions with one of them thinking that wives should cook, but they should be asked nicely by their husbands. Morons.

To me, this wasn't an easy question to answer. You see, the typical liberal answer that states that husbands and wives are equal and therefore anyone of them can cook is flawed for two reasons. First, we need to factor in who is more qualified to do the cooking. Though I don't have the numbers, I'm pretty sure that more girls learn how to cook as they grow up than straight guys do, at least in our culture. Which automatically makes wives more qualified for cooking. A second important input is who is more available. What if the wife is working 18 hour days, while the husband is a writer who works mostly from home and has more free time?

Which presents a problem, what if you are a fellow liberal, but you aren't that liberal to start cooking? I feel ya, here's what you could do:

1. Marry the fat nerd. Chances are she didn't have a social life and spent her teen years baking cakes and stuffing her face with them. Get a high-profile corporate job and ensure you get a hawt assistant. Do the assistant and go back home for a fine, fine dinner.

2. Not a career man? Ok, marry a 50-year-old corporate executive, who will be your suga mama. She'll barely come home between her busy schedule, which will give you a chance to do the hawt Asian chiquita you'll hire as a cook with your wife's money.

3. Not into adultery? Hmmm... consider switching teams. As a gay man chances are you wouldn't mind cooking in first place. And if you do, your partner probably won't.

Problem solved.

Friday, August 21, 2009

"Social" Birthday Wishes

Calling people up on their birthday is so yesterday, get with the program granpa. Now we have Facebook, which neatly reminds you that today is your best friend's girlfriend's sister's hot friend's birthday. So you race to her Facebook wall to pay your tribute. Off course when you get there you find a billion birthday wishes already there. So you quickly scan them trying to see if you can offer something original. Usually, you'd lose interest quickly and just spew your cliche: Happy Birthday! Maybe add a few more exclamation marks if she is really hot.

But why stop there? I can see Facebook's next feature: Automatic Bday Wishes. It's very simple, while adding a friend to your list, you add him/her to a birthday list. Each birthday list has a template message, those can be a simple: Happy Birthday [Friend's Name]! or a tad more evil, like: Why don't you go fuck yourself on this special day? Can you imagine the productivity gain out of this? Now you do not need to scroll or click or even think of which cliche bday wish you'll go with! Wouldn't that make your life a lot easier as a birthday wisher?

The downside, however, is that on your birthday you'll be flooded with a million of those cold, heartless auto bday wishes. Of course, you can't ignore them, we're not animals. Enter the even cooler new Facebook feature: Bday Wishes Auto-responder. This feature will be a bit more complex. First, it would change your status to reflect how humbled you are with the torrent of cold, heartless auto bday wishes you got. Next, this feature will relentlessly pursue every shmuck who dared to send you an auto bday wish and spam them with wall posts and private messages "thanking" them. The degree of persecution of your targets will be adjustable from your account settings, but don't worry, even at its lowest level this feature will annoy the crap out of those who thought it would be wise to drop you an auto bday wish.

Now that is social networking I like.

P.S: The farewell party last week was legend--wait for it--ary.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

On Work, Life, The Universe and Everything

As today was my last day in office after six or so odd years of corporate whoredom, I thought it would be in order to dispense some pearls of wisdom that I have accumulated over the years:

1. Never shout any insults at another driver if he/she cuts you off. First, it's rude. Secondly, what are the chances that they'll actually hear you when it's so noisy outside and they are chilling inside enjoying the AC? Instead, carry some talking bubbles with words written on them, they should range form an innocent: HEY! All the way to: For doing that, I'll chop your head off and make sweet, sweet love to your mama. This way is much more effective to communicate your frustration to the asshole who cut you off, me thinks.

2. It is no longer kool that the standard answer for: What's your favorite movie? is: The Godfather. Oh and it's definitely not kool to answer: The Godfather, the first one, not the crappy second and third part. Here's the deal, The Godfather came out 30 years ago, it's a great movie and all, but don't you think it's time to move on?

3. Always make fun of the Frozen Wastelands, it's un-natural not to.

But on a serious note, I am happy/excited/thrilled to be moving on with my life. A while back someone shared with me this speech that Steve Jobs gave, and the one thing that stuck with me was the idea of 'connecting your dots'. At first, I thought maybe only a few of us are the lucky ones who do have interesting dots to connect, but now I firmly believe that we all have our own interesting dots. You just need to look back at your past and by connecting those dots, you'll take control of your future.

Isn't symbolic, warm and cuddly that this speech that inspired me so much was given at a Stanford commencement? ....I think I need a hug.

P.S: Check the uber kwel poster that aku put togther for my farwell partAy! Me likey!

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Golden Rule

I am starting to see so many kids wearing horrible things. Which parent in their right state of mind wakes up in the morning and thinks: Yes! Today my kid should wear a sailor dress, ou, and a hat! Yes, a hat would go perfectly with that! Are those parents constantly stoned?

Here's a radical idea to all parents and would-be parents. Have you heard of the Golden Rule? Or Ethic of Reciprocity as the Wikipedia entry is called? It's simple, before you dress your kids, ask yourself: would I be comfortable wearing this fluffy orange jumpsuit? Now, the answer to that question would tell you a lot about yourself. If you say yes then--sidepoint: wow, you need help--you should consider putting your kid up for adoption. I'm sure your kid's foster parents would molest him many, many times, but at least they wont dress him like that. If the answer is no, then, we're kool for now. But I'm watching you.

Of course some parents take the Golden Rule too literally. This happens when a parent decides it would be 'cute' for him/her and their kid to wear the exact same outfit all the time. If you are one of those stupid parents then let me break it to you, do you think Mini-Me from the Austin Powers movies is 'cute' or creepy? I pray to God that the answer is creepy. I seriously do. But then again, you might have a thing for midgets. Same advice applies here: put your kid up for adoption.

Finally, don't put your two year olds into a denim jumpsuit, ever. Makes them look eerily like Chucky. And I'll level with you, if your denim-jumpsuit-wearing kid makes a sudden move around me, I will axe it.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Day Shaking Ceased To Be Enough

Scene I: A dimly lite bathroom. Fesh is standing at a urinal with his back facing the camera. As Fesh is wrapping up, the bathroom attendant approaches the Fesh, something is in his hand. Fesh notices the attendant and tracks him with the corner of his eye to ensure he doesn't get within penis-viewing distance. The attendant gets uncomfortably close and hands something to Fesh.

The attendant: Etfadal ya basha. [Here you go]
Fesh: uhm...shoukran? [Thanks?]

Fesh zips-up and turns around, he's holding a piece of toilet paper. He quickly uses the toilet paper to wipe his hands before throwing it away. The attendant is not amused. Fesh washes his hands and exits.

Scene II: A lively, packed open air nightspot. Shisha smoke fills the air and everyone is enjoying this breezy summer night. Fesh appears from the far left, coming out of the bathroom. He makes his way to the table, with a few friends laughing.

Fesh: The weirdest thing just happened!
Freind #1: What?
Fesh: This dude at the bathroom approached me as I was peeing and handed me a piece of toilet paper! What the hell?
Friend #2: and..?
Fesh: Don't you guys find this weird! I was going to wash my hand eitherway! So what's the use of the toilet paper!
Friend #3: err... dude, the toiler paper is for you to wipe the tip after you're done!
Fesh: HAHAHAHAHAHHAHA... no seriously?
Friend #1, 2, 3....7: Yeap.
Fesh: Oh.

The above actually happened, so, what the hell? Was there a memo that I missed or something? My understanding was that shaking gets the trick done, now it's no longer the case? When did that happen!

But let's not dwell on the past, seeing that the word will soon be out that I aint a wiper, I need to do some damage control. What kind of faux pas are we talking here? Is it the small, tolerable, he-used-the-wrong-fork kind? Or the bigger ones like taking a huge dump on your girlfriend's mother's cat (don't ask.)? And do you think the society will accept me as an openly non-wiper or I will need to live in fear of prosecution and have to fake-wipe?

It's always a shock when something so personal, like peeing, changes. Ahhhh...the good old days when I was not judged by bathroom attendants for not wiping. Why did shaking cease to be enough?

Scene III: It's raining. Fesh falls to his knees, hands stretched towards the sky. Camera zooms out quickly.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Swim Boys, Swim!

I am going to go ahead and fully support this story.

I find it very flattering to our sperm pool. First off, you got to respect the fact that we have sperm floating in our pools, not pee and leaves like sissy countries. We're just too macho to keep our boys inside, so we spread the love all the time. Second, and most importantly, this story speaks to the commando-like abilities of the Egyptian sperm. While international sperm is used to swimming in warm, clean indoor 'pools' for just a few centimeters, our glorious sperm has no problem with fighting the elements, currents and treacherous waters of an outdoors pool. I love that fact! Hell, I would have wanted the story headline to read: Egyptian Sperm Defies Odds! Or: Egyptian Sperm Not affected by Chlorine.

But the complements to our commandos aside, how do you think they narrowed it down to getting pregnant from taking a dip in a pool? Aren't there a million other scenarios that range from actually sleeping with someone, to a heavy making-out session to even contracting a sperm from a toilet! All these seem much, much more probable then the pool-swimming sperm story!

But then again, this is the Frozen Wastelands, so yeah, I can buy that this weird theory made total sense to them.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Happy Feshday: 28

The world celebrates today the Feshday. Did you know that the United Communist Party of Armenia was founded on Feshday, 2003? Talk about those damn Armenians trying to steal the limelight form me. I hate them.

A lot has happened last year, from wrapping up my three years in the Frozen Wastelands and moving out to resigning from the Evil Corporation after 6 years of corporate whoredom. I'm also excited about inching closer to 30. To me, 30 is really me turning into an adult and I can't wait! :)

Now rejoice, it's the Feshday.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Fesh Diet

Why is it that all the good-tasting foods are always bad for your health? It is a pity that the human body was designed to appreciate fresh vegetables, fruits and cereals and not the glorious processed sugars and deep fried anything. We all know that a fatty diet is going to clog your arteries and makes it harder for your heart to do its thing. That is understandable. But why is it that the human body reacts this way to fats and not fruit fibers? Turns out that over thousands of years, the human body evolved based on the basic diet of fruits and vegetables. But processed sugars and deep fried foods are relatively new to our diet (maybe few hundred years old?) and therefore our bodies are not used to consuming them efficiently at those quantities.

So here's a thought. If we stick to our guns and keep eating sugar/fat-rich foods then it's only a matter of time before our bodies adapt to it, right? Sure, humanity will suffer a few millennia of obesity and billions will die out of diabetes and heart attacks, but that's not important. What's important here is that we keep our eyes on the ball. If we consistently eat enough junk for the next few thousands years, our bodies will eventually become efficient at digesting those delicious, delicious foods.

I'm totally getting turned-on by that idea.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Ideal Farewell Note

I've read a lot of farewell notes, mostly from people I barely know. Thing is, 99% of those were utterly lame. This can't be a coincidence, I'm sure the Catberts of the the evil corporate world have added 'Send lame farewell note' to the termination checklist. Maybe it's their way of getting one final rush by, yet again, crushing that poorman's soul. Which is kinda kool.

But for the argument's sake, let's assume that sending a lame farewell note was not dictated by the evil directors of human resources, why then are those notes usually superlame? Those notes are usually a length, ugly creation, littered with exaggerated displays of overjoy for the years of corporate whoredom. Not to mention the creepy lovey-dovey emotional outbursts. Oh, and 9 out of 10 close with the cliche comment: Those were happiest years of my life. Ugh. I cringe.

Having resigned today (yay!), this got me thinking about my farewell note which I'll be sending out in a few weeks. I don't want to go with a simple, boring one. To me, the ideal farewell note is the one Eric Cartman would write if he was offed the CEO role for a company that specializes in torturing Jews, Hippies and Gingers. Come to think of it, it would be awesome to wrap up your farewell note with: Screw you guys, I'm going home.

Oh, it's tempting.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Geography 101

Munqy, being the nerd he is, has been having wetdreams about watching Transformers 2 for the last two years. So when it came out he summoned the Carrot Dealers(tm) to watch what will probably be, according to him, the most orgasmic movie ever made. Since I am no Transformers groupie, I'll leave the detailed technical analysis to the inevitable uber-geeky post by Munqy and I'll focus on geography instead.

I would really, really like to know what kind of stuff was the director on when he decided to basically make the Red Sea, Petra (in Jordan) and the Pyramids all some 200 meters away from each other?! I get it is a sci-fi movie so they are supposed to get a little bit 'creative', but why then did they have to get out of their way to show us that the doomsday machine is inside the Giza Pyramids but first they have to walk the 200 meters to Petra to get the key?!

One possible answer is that they had this cute puzzle that was linked to the Red Sea and Petra and at the same time, the Pyramid made sense as a hiding place to the big-ass doomsday machine. Alright then, couldn't they have kept everything, but added a scene where they travel back across Egypt to the Pyramids? It could be one of those time-lapsed scenes which in 30 seconds they can show us that they have traveled the 9 hours or so from Petra to the Pyramids? With a movie that is 2.5 hours long, you'd think the director decided not to cut any corners to keep everything in. Except of course the 30 seconds that would have made the movie compatible with the geography of planet Earth. Dumbass.

Oh yeah, spoiler alert, don't read if you haven't watched the movie, yadda, yadda yadda.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Conformity on Casual Fridays

For the lucky souls that have never been part of Corporate Whoredom, casual Fridays is a lame attempt by our Corporate Overlords to make us feel a little less miserable on the last day of the workweek, by allowing us to come to work in jeans. I never fully understood the concept of people showing up to work in formal or semi-formal attire. I can buy that if you work in a client-facing industry or function, like Sales, or maybe if you have some important external meetings. But if you are an accountant showing up at 7am for 10 hours of number crunching, in a tiny cubicle infront of a 10-inch black-and-white screen, doesn't it really border on torture to have you also wear a tie?

But I digress. Back to casual Fridays, the funny thing is how everyone, really, everyone is wearing jeans and t-shirts on casual Fridays. Which makes you wonder really, if casual Fridays is a way of letting corporate slaves out of the conformity of b-wear (yes, I'm trying to coin my own Orwellian vocab), then isn't everyone wearing jeans and t-shirts kind of defeats the purpose? Because, technically, if casual Friday is about not looking like everyone else, then you should show up in a suit and tie. Definitely you'd be the only one dressed like that on a Friday, you rebel!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Timeless elCairo

Much has already been said about Obama's historic speech today to the Islamic world from, to borrow his words, the timeless city of elCairo. It all boils down to the fact that it was an extremely balanced speech, something that says alot about the man himself. Yet to an immature person like myself it was frustrating. A fifty-minute speech and I couldn't find one thing to crack a joke at? What the hell man? Didn't he ask himself what would Jesus do? Because I'm sure the answer to that would have been: stumble once or twice!

There was a close call with his closing line though, I felt he almost went with "God bless America". Could you imagine how funny that would have been! But he skillfully made it into "God...'s peace be upon you". Ugh, lucky bastard. And is it God's peace be upon you or just peace be upon you? Anyhoo, wi 3alikom ya khowya, nawart, mato3od teshrab 7aga?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Look Ma, We're Number One!

The Economist Intelligence Unit just released the business environment ranking for around 80 countries. This is a comprehensive study that takes into account over 90 indicators for each country, around half of them are purely quantitative (i.e. GDP, inflation,etc), while the rest are more relative indicators like the possibility of an armed conflict. The outcome of the study is that each country is assigned a number (on a scale of 1 to 10) for its performance over 2004-08 and forecasted another number for 2009-13.

The amazing thing is that Egypt sits comfortably on top of the list! I knew that Egypt's economy has been steaming on for the last few years, but it's great to see that this is forecasted to continue during the the upcoming 5 years. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that Egypt's progress from its current ranking to the its forecasted ranking in 2013 is much bigger than other developing giants such as China or India!

That said, there are two interesting points in the report:
1. For 2009-13, the indicator for the risk of armed conflict for Middle East & Africa is 3.4. That makes sense, we have a very turbulent area. For Latin America it's 4.0, again, makes sense, they have Chavez. But for Western Europe, it's 4.7! Of course that's better than 3.4, but technically that implies that modern-day Western Europe (one of the the most politically stable areas of the world) has a 50-50 chance of an armed conflict in 2013! That is scary shit.

2. The US's ranking for 2004-08 was 8.4, that's extremely interesting. So, even though the US had a president who could barely speak English and a total economic meltdown, it was rated around 20% more than what Egypt is forecasted to achieve by the end of the next 5 years. An economic meltdown is easy to arrange, I know people. But do you think we could convince W. to go on the ballot for Egypt's 2011 presidential elections?

Monday, May 18, 2009

The iBox

Having been a gaming junkie for the last few weeks, I think it's about time for Apple to introduce the iBox. A key hurdle for other gaming console manufacturers is price, Sony and Microsoft currently sell their consoles at or even below cost to get their consoles out there and recover some of the cost via licensing games. This shouldn't be a problem for Apple, the iBox will be manufactured in China for $200 and retail worldwide for $3000. This will enable Apple to aggressively support the iBox's expansion by one of those cute: "I'm a PS3, I'm an iBox" campaigns.

Apple will also sprinkle the iBox with those absolutely useless features that people love like a glowing fruit(tm Munqy)on the iBox's back or a sensor that will sense when your iBox is in freefall and stop your harddisk. The latter would be very popular with gamers, since when your $3000 console is freefalling you'd usually be worried sick about your saved games. People will not stop talking about those features and this will create even more word of mouth for the iBox.

Much like the initial iPhone missed some much-needed features (e.g. copy and paste), the first iBox will miss a few things, like a controller. Those marginal features will not prevent the iBox from becoming an instant success and eventually becoming the leading gaming console.

Stupid PS3, I want an iBox.

Note: A very interesting article about Apple's potential gaming console here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Why You Shouldn't Watch Porn

A few days ago, a court ruled that porn sites should be banned in Egypt. Now, I love my porn collection as much as the next guy, but I think that was a very wise call from the government. It is still not clear if this will actually be implemented or it will be appealed. But I think it should be implemented, three key reasons:

1. As per Google's stats, Egypt is the second country worldwide that searches for porn. Although I am proud with the silver medal, if porn was banned, around 90% of the bandwidth will be freed! Can you imagine the productivity gain from not waiting for your mail to download or pages to load anymore? I have crunched a lot of data and I believe, on average, you'd be getting back 30 mins per day. That's a 6% productivity gain! So, banning porn would increase the productivity of our workforce <= exhibit A.

2. Egypt is facing a sexual harassment epidemic. So, with 98% of foreign women and 83% of Egyptian women reporting that they were sexually harassed, do we really need folks to be getting more ideas by checking out porn sites? Banning porn sites will make people visit other sites, like In doing so, a lot of people will start to think about other matters and therefore become less inclined to harass anything with nipples. So, banning porn would decrease sexual harassment in Egypt, making the country more civilized <= exhibit B.

3. Finally, we're not alone in this. We have other countries who have pioneered this revolutionary approach before us. Saudi, a leading authority on censoring the Internet, tried this and with astounding results. According to this article 70% of all material on the phones of teens in Saudi was of pornographic nature. Why is that good? Well, it's encouraging consumers to spend more by sending all of those multimedia messages to each other! It's a dire economic situation and we need people to keep spending and with no porn available online, all of Egypt will start MMSing! That's big money! There you have it, banning porn will help Egypt survive the global recession <= exhibit C.

So, all of you who thought this whole thing was as step back for freedom of speech and another push by the regime to censor the Internet, you're all fools.

Note: Munqy, for the hundredth time, I don't think they'll shutdown the bestiality sites that you love so much and visit on a daily basis. Stop asking me that!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Great Skydiving Debate

I can see why skydiving can be super exciting for some, I am sure it's exhilarating to freefall like that. However, I find the fact that almost all skydivers now carry a secondary chute, as a spare, a very interesting piece of information. I am almost certain that the secondary chute wasn't part of the sport when it started, but rather was added later on.

I'd resell my soul to the devil to have witnessed the debate that went on when the spare chute was introduced, seriously. I can see it going like this, a young skydiver comes up with the idea and is passionately trying to convince his fellow 17 century adventurers that too many folks hit the ground like a bullet when their main chute malfunctions and they need to put an end to it. Then comes the visual aids, a 17th century pie chart that explains that in the last year chutes have malfunctioned 20% of the time, which after a lot of data crunching means that the sport yields a 20% fatality rate. He then tries to quickly preempt their first objection by saying: Now, I know that 20% isn't at all a bad fatality rate compared with our other, more challenging problems (i.e. the Black Plague), but still, let's call it statistically significant. The really interesting part comes next, the community quickly is divided around the idea. The first camp, the pro-life camp, advocate the secondary chute. The other camp, pro-choice camp, doesn't.

The pro-life camp will explain that this is a much needed reform to ready the growing sport for the 18th century, the pro-choice camp will dismiss this change since it contradicts the basic values of the sport. The pro-choice camp will seek the endorsement of key skydivers to ensure that a secondary chute is not introduced. Pro-life, on the other hand, wont be able to enlist any ex-skydivers who were fused with the pavement due to chute malfunctions, this will hurt the pro-life campaign significantly.

The debate will not only wage between skydivers, Big Chute, the evil blood-sucking chute corporations, will also weight-in on the debate. For Big Chute, it's a thin line they have to walk. If they come out in support of the pro-life camp, this will automatically mean that the sport is so dangerous that you require a secondary chute, which will decrease their target market. On the other hand, if a secondary chute becomes mainstream, this is means Big Chute will be entering a new lucrative market and introducing new products with higher margins. Big Chute treads carefully.

When I imagine myself as part of this debate, I see myself as a pro-choice campaigner.There is something so deliciously evil about trying to convince people that: a. They need to skydive b. They don't need a spare chute and c. Yes, 1 out of 5 will die skydiving. I'd seriously get a rush from doing this.

Monday, May 04, 2009

The Financial Crisis & Traffic

Here's my theory, if the global financial institutions studied traffic in elCairo, the current financial crises could, nay, would have been averted. It's a complicated theory, but bear with me. First, we have two astounding similarities between Western economies and elCairo's traffic:

1. Competition. Drivers in elCairo compete all the time with other drivers. This can be as simple as cutting you off since your lane has a few free, precious meters, or my all-time favorite: the self-regulating intersections; Those are intersection with no lights and no traffic officers and the idea is that you try to beat the other person to crossing. I love it, it's as close as I'll ever get to playing Russian Roulette. Equally fierce competition is the trademark of Western economies, in theory, this competition makes the markets more efficient.

2. Creativity. Lack of strict regulation in the Western economies inspired a lot of 'creative' financial products. First, credit was given to people who can't afford it and then this credit was cut-down, repackaged and sold to investors at the other end of the globe. Same for traffic here in elCairo, I get the feeling that drivers are constantly trying to think of new and even more creative (read: dangerous) ways of driving. All-time favorite? The genius driving on a highway, at night, with no lights on, on the right and at 45Km/hr. He's really begging for it.

Competition and lack of regulation were really working for the financial institutions. Between 2002 and 2007 the Western financial world was partying like a cheap ho, in a cheap NY club on New Year's Eve, 1999. But that wasn't true of elCairo's traffic, but the world wasn't interested.

You see, elCairo's traffic predicted the shortcomings of the system. It showed us that the system will eventually overheat and crash. elCairo's traffic even showed us how a ponzi scheme would rise in such a system. The Mastermind of such a scheme would zap beside 500 cars queueing to get on a bridge and right before the entrance cuts into the bridge's ramp. He promises excellent returns for very little investment i.e. you don't have to queue AND you get on the bridge in a fraction of the time! Of course, the scheme only works if a few followed him, but what happens when 10,000 drivers try that? Everyone is stuck. Something we face in elCairo everyday.

Interestingly, a much more strict traffic law was passed in elCairo last year as the financial crises kicked in. The financial world, having learned the lesson the hard way, quickly followed elCairo's lead with various new proposals on stricter global financial regulation.

You know what's the scary part? Even after the new law, traffic aint getting any better here in elCairo.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hizballah & Traffic

I have been avidly following up the news about the discovery of a Hizballah cell in Egypt. The issue has the Arab (and Muslim) world divided into pro-Hizballah, pro-Hamas and pro-Iran camp and then the pro-Egypt camp. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank, draws the bigger international picture of this issue and how Egypt might be trying to impact the way the US approaches Iran in a very interesting report.

Now, that's all scary and regional warsey and all, but it's entertaining too. You see, amid all of the rumbling in the Egyptian media, one cliche came to dominate. Everyone is now referring to Egypt's national security as a khat ahmar (a red line). I think we should have went with a totally different cliche and I'll tell you why. First, anyone who has ever been to the great city of elCairo knows that a. we don't have traffic lights b. when we do, they aren't working and c. if we have them and they are working, we don't really stop when it's red. That, in my opinion, takes away from the scariness of the color red. The cliche should have used black instead of red. After so many years of being waved to the curb by bodyguards of government officials whooshing by in black convoys, we fear black. There's always that urban legend of this one dude, who dared to get close by to The Black Convoy and was riddled with bullets. You don't want to be that guy, do you?

Second, what's with the 'line'? We don't like lines in elCairo. No one stays in their lane, no one queues and no one stops before the pedestrian crossing, you have to stop halfway thru it; that's how you show the pathetic pedestrians who's boss. But if we stay with the traffic metaphor for a second here, the cliche should have used the most notorious creature on the road: a microbus. We all fear the microbus and they know that we fear them, so it's their game, really. We know that you never cross a microbus, but a 'line'? bah.

So yeah, if tomorrow an official government statement said: Egypt's national security is a black microbus, a crazy, black microbus. I'd shit my pants. Seriously.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Stupidity of The Masses (Take III)

It's really amusing to see how the world of some Facebokians has been shattered--to put it midly--by the new changes to Facebook's interface. I understand that as an addicition, you would want to get your fix quickly. But the amount of status updates that I have read about people begging for help with the new, confusing interface is really scary.

The hilarious thing is that some of the folks who put those status updates are doctors, engineers and businessmen. So I couldn't help but wonder how is it that some of those folks save lives for a living or deal with the uncertainties of the economic meltdown on daily basis, yet they were thrown off balance by the fact that now when FriendA writes on FriendB's wall it will appear in your news feed as: Friend A> Friend B: Message, instead of: Friend A has written on Friend B's wall.

The other entertaining thing is the whining. Few months back when Facebook's interface was changed, people revolted and established groups to fight the horrendous new interface--and of course nothing happened and the interface was not changed back. Now, the same thing is happening all over again! Don't the folks who join those groups feel a tiny bit stupid? I can understand users revolting to things such as privacy and terms (as was the case few weeks back), but to revolt about how your homepage looks now, really? That's the other thing, imagine if we can do this at work. If your boss changes anything as slight as where you sit in the office, you start bitching about it and print banners and put it above your desk. Wouldn't it be fun to work at a company where you can do this?

Note: for more ripping on the idiocy of Facebokians, please read this and that.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Conspiracy Theory #9

I've been captivated by the whole global economic meltdown for a multitude of reasons. First, because I am an avid news watcher and for the last year it's been the second most covered story--the first most covered story being the second coming of the Messiah. Second, because the economic meltdown has rendered the Frozen Wastelandees Zloty (FWZ, or more commonly known as PLN) virtually useless. In case you were wondering, 1 FWZ went down from 50 Dollar cents to almost 25 cents in a span of 6 months. So, yeah, it's cheaper to burn heaps of FWZ than pay for heating.

Back to the to economic meltdown, last April I wrote this piece about how it seems that there are no winners in this economic meltdown. Today, I had a eureka-moment. I am no economist, but follow me on this one. With this economic meltdown, all governments are "bailing out" their banks and companies. Initially, I understood a bail out as throwing free cash at a bank or a company, in order to save the economy from total collapse. Turns out, this is not the case. For example, when a bank is bailed out, what the government is doing is basically giving the bank cash in exchange for stocks (i.e. ownership) of the bank. That's why there's all this buzz about socialism and nationalisation and all that. So the government passes tax payers' money to a bank, in exchange for the bank's stocks. Mind you that this transaction is happening at a time when the stock of any bank or corporation is trading way below its average because of the economic meltdown.

Let's take a recent example here, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) reported the biggest loss in British corporate history and right away the UK government announced plans to back it up. I am not aware of the exact details, but I assume the deal will include the UK government pumping cash into RBS to enable it to continue lending in exchange for shares. Now, as you can see from the chart below, RBS's share is now trading at 23p. Just 6 months ago the share price was around 700p. So assuming the government ends up getting an extra 20% stake in RBS and in two years time we're out of this economic meltdown and the share is back to, say, 500p, that would be a pretty sweet deal for the government, right? It's the same concept that investors use when they buy stocks when the market is down to profit when the market bounces back.

What's really deliciously evil here is that given proper planning and the abundance of Machiavellianism, governments can engineer an economic meltdown. I can see it now, the G8 leaders bathing in a pool of undervalued corporate stocks in a secluded castle in Bavaria. Well played.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

2008 Resolutions - Review

I dug-up my 2008 resolutions and wanted to review them, here are my 7 resolutions and the progress I have done:

1. I'll pursue to completion one personal goal in life.
I did this one right. There was a reason I put this first in my resolutions because it was/is very important to me and I am happy that I exceeded my expectations. More on that later.

2. I'll read more, especially in new topics/areas.
I did this one right too. I went out of my way to read in interesting areas, I read more Arabic books, read about Physics and just finished an uber book that I'll dedicate a post to later.

3. I'll continue going to the gym to lose 10KG.

Ah yes, this one. *ahm* not good. Didn't lose 10KG. This resolution will be high-up on my 2009 resolutions.

4. I'll be a better son.

I am very happy with my progress on this one. Spent more time with the family, did more 'adventures' with the parents. I like to think that in 2008 I was a better son than in 2007.

5. I'll start conserving water and electricity where/when possible.
Didn't do it. Started with small steps but didn't pick it up as a habbit. Need to evaluate if I'll put it as a resolution in 2009 or not. 

6. I'll continue to travel, visit 3 new countries.

Yes! did it! And visited a LOAD of new cities!

7. I'll do one thing about my interest in Stand-Up.

Overall I'm happy. I had my resolutions in order of importance and with the first 4 of them being the most important to me. I am glad that I pursued my goal and achieved it, glad that I read more, glad that I become a better son. Though I failed to reach my goal of losing 10kg, I sustained the habit of going to the gym regularly and that is something I am glad I did.

I will be compiling my 2009 resolutions in the coming weeks as I venture back to the Frozen Wastelands were temperatures drop to shrinkage-inducing -20C. Yay!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Cairo, 2080 A.D.

Originally published in Alter Ego magazine, Jan 09

At the turn of the century, Cairenes marveled at the city Cairo was. As the biggest city in the Middle East, Cairo boasted more traffic, corruption and sexual harassment per dollar spent than anywhere else. It was the happening place if you were an average masochist who was into spending hours in traffic jams, had a relative in high government office or had unfulfilled “needs”. 

The Second Great Depression (2007-2019) took a big toll on the world. The government, always on top of these things, responded via an array of hard-thought-out initiatives to combat the Depression’s impact on Egypt and on Cairo specifically. Curbs were painted, extra lanes were added to the 6th of October bridge and even cheaper high-speed internet was introduced! Surprisingly, those tried-and-tested techniques did not work this time. It was a time of confusion and in an eleventh-hour push, the government put together a fantabulous bid for Cairo to host the 2016 Olympics. Do I need to say more? 

As that didn’t work out, change hit Cairo hard and soon the party was over. The danger that always lurked in the shadows was becoming a reality. A young, foolish government was elected. No one understood the new government’s radical ideas of focusing less on lavish Middle East peace conferences and co-chairing the fancy Mediterranean Union with France and focusing more on applying successful anti-corruption policies that were developed in ex-communist nations in the 1990s. Curbs were left unpainted for months. Ugh, they were barbarians. 

By the middle of the 21st century, Cairo had been transformed into a new city. Downtown is no longer the strange mix it once was of cheap clothing stores, beautiful 19th century buildings and ugly, ugly new buildings. Zamalek, unfortunately, no longer exists. No one saw it coming, with the global warming and the rising Nile and all. I am happy to report though that Zamalekites (mostly foreigners, diplomats and ├╝bercool Egyptians) have migrated to higher grounds.  Most importantly, corruption is no longer with us. I too miss getting my driver license back with one phone call after I am caught speeding. 

By 2080, Cairo did not become the political or economic center of the region. However, better education and better governance has given Cairo a commanding middle class and propelled the city once again into a league it was once part of in the distant past. But it’s not all good news. Cairenes, to this day, find it hard to queue – it is genetically impossible for us. Traffic is still horrible. While we used to run out of gas in traffic jams on the 6th of October bridge, your Toyota Hovercraft runs out of jet fuel over the Nile. You need to swim fast and stay clear of the super-intelligent race of evil fish that now lives in the Nile. Officially, the evil fish don’t exist, since they are a result of a military experiment gone horribly wrong. My advice if you ever face them, never to look at the third eye; it agitates them and God knows you don’t want to do that.