Here's the Problem; Just Don't Expect a Solution

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The February 21st edition of The Jordan Times printed an BBC info-graphic entitled "Majority reject 'clash of civilizations'". The graphic states,
A majority of people around the world do not believe that Islam and the West are locked in an inevitable violent struggle and think that common ground can be found, according to a recent poll. Most respondents blamed current tensions on political interests and intolerant minorities on both sides.

Here are some of the poll statistics:

Cause of tensions between Islam and West
52% - Political power and interests
29& - Religious/cultural differences
19% - Don't know

Relationship between Muslim and Western cultures
56% - Possible to find common ground
28% - Violent conflict inevitable
16% - Don't know

In other words, eighty-one percent of the polled population attribute the cause of current tensions on political power/interest and religious/cultural differences, neither of which are going away any time soon. So if the cause of the tensions aren't going away, how then do we expect to find resolutions? It appears that "common ground", in this instance, means that one side is still going to end up with the short end of the stick.

Save Dibbeen, But To Heck with the Rest of Jordan

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

With the news of the JD100 million tourism complex that is being developed in Dibbeen, it's become haute couture across the Jordanian blog-o-sphere to promote the salvation of the Dibbeen forest. I don't mind those voicing an opinion on saving a forested national treasure in Jordan (Lord knows there aren't many left), but I don't hear much of an outcry about keeping the rest of Jordan clean and green.

On the contrary, people are ever so willing to toss their trash out of their cars onto the streets. Empty lots are full of trash. The roads that lead down to southern Jordan are littered with refuse. The fact of the matter is that Jordan is a trashy mess.

I don't get it. Jordan needs a swift kick in its ecological butt.

Save Jordan

How Many Plugs Does One Country Need?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Having lived in the Middle East for over a year-and-a-half, I feel like I've adjusted fairly well to the differences between life in Jordan and life in the United States. Yet there is one thing that I still have a hard time with—call it continual culture shock, if you will—and that's Jordan’s lack of electrical plug identity.

Now you're probably asking, lack of electrical...what? Let me explain what I mean. In my house, I have no fewer than three different types of electrical plugs: British 3-pin (Type G), European 2-pin (Type C) and Old British 3-pin (Type D). When I first moved to Jordan, the plugs in my first house also included German 2-pin (Type F) and Italian 3-pin (Type L).

The variety of outlets has necessitated an ongoing hunt for the perfect extension cord—an all-purpose cord that will meet my electrical input needs. It's hard to find a decent extension cord without paying 20JD or more. It's easy to find extension cords that feature a lot of a single outlet style, or ones that have too few of a variety of outlet styles, but I'm having a hard time finding a good combination of the two.

Along with extension cords, I also have amassed a collection of outlet adapters that should accommodate my every electrical need. Unfortunately, most of these adapters are cheap Chinese-manufactured junk, which means they either don't work from the start, break easily, or don't keep a tight connection.

But it's not just the wide variety of outlets that bothers me, but also the scarcity of outlets in my house. One outlet per wall in a house is not sufficient enough to power the plethora of electrical devices and fixtures that I own. I eventually have to resort to daisy-chaining extension cords together in order to supply the room with enough electricity to power everything. Not to mention, there are no electrical outlets in the bathrooms, which was fine in 1960 before we began using electrical razors, hair dryers, curling irons and other electrical bathroom necessities.

If I had to rate the effectiveness of an electrical plug/outlet system, I would do so based on the following criteria:

  • the plugs must remain reasonably small
  • the plugs must remain firmly in the outlet
  • the plugs must be grounded
  • outlets must have at least two inputs for accessibility

The only plug that meets all of these criteria is the Type B plug used in North, Central and South America and Japan. I've used plugs and outlets from all over the world and can say that the Type B outclasses the others by far.

I know there is no solution to this problem. Everyone seems to think that their plugs are the best, so no one is willing to give up their style in favor of another. And if by some miracle a global standard was introduced, the cost to replace all the existing plugs would be astronomical.

So it turns out that there is no hope for my electrical culture shock (pun intended). My only resort is to grumble under my breath as I wrestle with cords, adapters and loose plugs that continually fall out of scarce wall outlets.

Why Don’t You Go Cry About It?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

While Jordanians are rallying around the idea that Petra could end up being one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, Egypt is crying foul, claiming that it demeans the greatness of the Pyramids of Giza.

The Pyramids are the only surviving wonder of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. According to the head of Egypt’s department of antiquities, Zahi Hawass, "It's ridiculous, they don't need to be put to a vote." Egyptian Culture Minister Faruq Hosni described the project as "absurd" and its creator, Swiss-Canadian Bernard Weber, as a man "concerned primarily with self-promotion".

Weber visited Jordan in mid-January as a part of the New 7 Wonders tour, and was met with royal reception by Her Majesty, Queen Rania. Weber's blog describes his 3-day visit in detail, adding that his was a "wonder-filled…delightful stay in Jordan."

Weber's visit to Egypt, on the other hand, was less than cordial. At the last minute, the hotel conference room where Weber was due to hold a press conference was closed down at the last minute "for maintenance" and a TV crew was prevented from filming "for security reasons".

Al Sayed Al Naggar, an editorialist in a leading state-owned daily newspaper, wrote, "This is probably a conspiracy against Egypt, its civilization and monuments."

That’s right, pal. The whole world is conspiring against Egypt and its blessed Pyramids. Jeez, talk about a bunch of selfish babies.

Source: Egypt fumes over fresh seven wonders competition for pyramids