Michael Jackson – Too Good, Too Soon?

28 06 2009
Didn't get back up this time

...didn't manage to get back up this time around...

So, seems like MJ really is dead. Cardiac arrest, followed by an hour of resuscitation, but to no avail. Again, Muslims/Islam managed to tick some people off when a news channel censored Jermain Jackson’s press conference’s ending statements, where he said “May Allah be with you, Michael, always,”. Jermaine is an announced Muslim (taking the name Abdul Aziz) whilst rumors surfaced about MJ while he was in Bahrain.

I was really surprised about ToO’s news yesterday about Jackson being in Oman, esp on the personal invitation of The Essa Zadjali. But since I was not in Oman at that time (a university had hired me to study for them. Tried to resign tonnes of times but they wouldn’t let me. I had a negative salary of 250 RO/m), and there was no media coverage that I recall, so I was genuinely surprised. And then the cheesy shot of Essa & MJ with an Omani cap in MJ’s hand. Wonder what the motive was!!?

Surprisingly, again, there has been very little bile in the media so far. Frankly, I expected more. Most of it is subtle, tepid “such unfulfilled promise,” “remember what he was, not what he became,” “I loved him as a child star”, bot-man genius” et. al. Unfulfilled promise? Every LP was a masterpiece, (or atleast a best-seller).  Remember what he was, not what he became? He wasn’t a model, he was a singer and songwriter, and pretty good one at that: up there with Elvis & The Beatles in rankings. & then the condescending: he was so sweet! So precocious! Yeah? And “Smooth Criminal” is one of the greatest pieces of music of all time which I personally like. So is Billie Jean & Thriller is the best selling album of all time.

Celebrity statements are pouring in. There are tonnes of them here. Mostly repetitive though, but shows you the people who knew him. I expected more on Farah Fawcett!!

Funeral arrangements are next. Expectations are to get the body Tuesday & have something ready by then or Wednesday. Oooo! Like to see the media got batshit crazy over this one, just like they did for Diana & Elvis. I regularly want something like this (not someone dying, but some one/thing to waver, even if for an instant, like Anna Nicole) to see the media instantly stain their pants. I mean they instantly go all ga-ga and start dripping! Wow! Really talks volumes about their professionalism and sense of perspective.

So I end this here with a RIP for the man who really didn’t matter if he were black or white, coz he gave us a thriller of a ride as long as he lasted off the wall, with his dangerous defiance of cultural norms. He did rock my world once, then fell out of my life, but doesn’t take away from his history, which was not bad, btw; I still remember the time. After all, no one can beat it like the King of Pop did. Poor thing, managed to be gone too soon. Guess this is it then!

-FK

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Leftist Laughs

24 06 2009

… and then there were leftist cartoons…

Can cartoons be leftist? Well, they sure can, as Barry has shown. And not that only, the satirical content, whilst not so hidden as to be subtly satirical, is out there and brazenly displayed for everyone to see.

The US is promoting democracy in more places than that…

-FK





(Ir+Om)an

17 06 2009

Iran, Oman & the Kish Gas Field

Yup, it’s official. Following my previous posts there was a pending visit, I was waiting for our Deputy Prime Minister to visit but it seems as if I have been upstaged by the govt. and now it is His Majesty himself who is going to pay the newly crowned Iranian President a visit. While this is significant on many levels, it is a bold statement by His Majesty to be the first head of state to visit the Iranian President after his elections. Whilst partial recount is underway, we really don’t know the state of Moosavi supporters’ unrest by the 28th. But it figures that the state police in Iran will have squashed all opposition to make it peaceful enough for our delegation to visit.

And the enoturage is impressive too. ToO states:

His Majesty the Sultan will be accompanied by a high level delegation comprising

Sayyid Ali bin Hamoud Al Busaidi, minister of the Diwan of Royal Court,

Gen. Ali bin Majid Al Ma’amari, Royal Office minister;

Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, minister responsible for foreign affairs;

Ahmed bin Abdulnabi Macki, minister of national economy and deputy chairman of the Financial Affairs and Energy Resources Council;

Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed Al Rowas, His Majesty the Sultan’s adviser for cultural affairs,

Dr Ali bin Mohammed bin Moosa, minister of health;

Maqbool bin Ali Sultan, commerce and industry minister;

Lt.-General Malik bin Sulaiman Al Ma’amari, inspector-general of police and customs,

Dr Mohammed bin Hamad Al Romhi, minister of oil and gas,

Sheikh Yahya bin Abdullah Al Fannah Al Araimi, the Sultanate’s ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Nice! That’s 7 ministers, 10 portfolios and 13 heads of profiles and 1 Head of State. Seems like Oman will get a corner of the international media for this event, since all spotlights are pointing there already. Oman will be like a minor character in a play suddenly sharing the stage with the main female lead who has been hogging the stage. Now whether this character uses this opportunity to do something screenworthy and make her presence felt or will just pass on the glass of water, play his minor part and exit left, is yet to be seen. Hoping it is the former, expected to be the latter.

But then again, expect important development to happen on the Gas Sharing thingies floating around. With the ongoing gas field deals, the joint gas and energy company setup, tourism and infrastructure deals setup, I want to think that nuclear issues are also going to be discussed, however I don’t think that is going to be announced anywhere.

Well, let’s see.

-FK





Emot-Iran

16 06 2009

Take a horse. Should be dead. No, kill him, just arrange to obtain a dead horse. Lay him down (or if you can, make him stand up)….. and then beat him. Beat him and Beat him to death!

Just what did you achieve? The same as I’ll achieve by speaking about the spin media puts on events.

The elections in Iran. Ever since Ahmadinejad even hinted at his victory, the media, international ofcourse (CNN & Bloomberg, that we I get here) has been ranting and raving about foul, rigged, cheated, fradulent and what-not elections. Regardless of what happened on-ground, why does an supposedly independant 3rd party have the gall to point out one viewpoint so loudly as to defean others. Just like writing 30,000 billion and then 1 trillion and saying the billions are more. Twisting, turning, churning, pivoting, manipulating everything to suit one way or the other.

NatGeo: Iran

NatGeo: Iran

Why just can’t we have a newsflash that says “It is believed by so-and-so that the elections were rigged. However, so-and-so says they were not. The Iranian leaders announced the win of so-and-so but have now called for a recount”. Phrase that properly and ta-da, news! But even here, the possibility of manipulation is so much. The first so-and-so could be someone of clout, the 2nd one a known crankcase, one viewpoint with videos and graphics, the 2nd one delivered with a smirk across the face etc etc etc. Bah!

But then again, its Iran we’re talking about here. A nation of people who lost an entire generation battling the Iraqis. Who saved their land from invading forces and lived to tell the tale. A land where if walk the streets you see many more women than men. Going from the Middle East, you pause and stand seeing male:female ration of 1:3. Where women police officers are as much, if not more, active than men. A nation of proud people, defiant in the face of the West. Ostracized by the international community, scraping and making inroads by sheer force of resilience and on the back of their God-gifted natural resources. Deeply religious, fanatic Shiites. One can judge their emotions by the fervor during the ’79 revolution, the annual religious festivals, the ’83 war. Why wouldn’t they be having strong opinions about the election? English hooligans anyone?

I started off with ideas and things to write about,  but scenes of the horse pass in front of my eyes. Poor horse. Dead and still taking a beating.

-FK





(Ir+Om)an

18 05 2009

My algebra’s a bit rusty. However I think this works. It equates to Iran + Oman.

And that’s what’s going on. Oman and Iran are pretty much becoming an item!

There are many news articles on this appearing. Mostly low-key. As if the authorities are saying  we’ve got ‘a good thing going, but lets not make much noise about it’.

Iran is, and has been, since the 1979 revolution, a very predominantly Islamic state with the letter of the shari’a followed in word and spirit. While this is not something very unique in the Islamic world, Iran is the only country in the world where the followers of the Shiite sect of Islam are in absolute majority in the population (as much as 98%) and in the government. This marks Iran to be very different from the rest of Muslim world. The only country that comes even close is Iraq, with 58% of its population being Shiite, but this majority had been opressed and prosecuted under the rule of Saddam. Also currently, with the power-sharing schemes and %age-wise representation schemes being discussed for governance in Iraq, Shiites have a shot at being in and around the corridors of the government there too. As a side note, Iraq and Iran are traditional pilgrimage centers of the Shiite sect by virtue of being home to the shrine of the Im’ams or Leaders of the Shiite sect. Out of 12 Leaders of the Shiites, 1 has his shrine in Iran in the city of Mashhad, 6 shrines are in Iraq (Baghdad, Kadhimiya, Samarra, Najaf and Kerbala) and 5 are in Saudi Arabia (in the area known as Jannat-ul-Baqi)

Oman is a low-key, predominantly Sunni Ibadhi country at the north of the south of the Middle East. Oman is a stone’s throw from Saudi Arabia, UAE and Yemen by land; and Pakistan and Iran by sea. Oman is predominantly lived-in by Sunni Ibadhi-muslims who are a mixture of the alongwith Orthodox Sunni, Shiites, miniority Wahhabi and Kharji groups. Oman’s claim to fame have been the ancient seafarers from the country’s generous coastline. This made this area a thoroughfare for ancient pilgrims to Mecca from overseas, a landing/rest area for people involved in the booming trade routes between India and Africa and a safe niche for people, mostly refugees, from the Persian, Roman and MidEastern conflicts and wars.

Oman and Iran, both, have had a ressurection in the late 1970s. In Iran this was manifested in the form of the Islamic revolution. In Oman, this was the emergence of a new ruler from the sands of the desert that blew across and obscured the non-national activities going on in the Dhofar region. Where Iran took the agressive role of taking upon the world, holding (and shaking, kicking and screaming) the bull by its horns (in the form of the American Embassy thingy and its national stance), Oman slowly and steadily built shop, arranging the shelves and laying the carpet and decorating the walls; removing the shroud, one step at a time.

Fast forward to the 21st century. Like a kid running blindly over stones and uneven ground, Iran has emerged from the past 30 years way ahead, up on top of the hill, well on the way to progress and being considered a regional power. But this kid is panting and heaving, his clothes are in tatters, he has bruised and injured his knees from when he fell over in the Gulf War. His knees are recovering, but he is still running in the same careless way as before.

Oman, like the proverbial tortoise (or maybe the green turtle of R’as al Hadd), walked along the same path at a slow and stately pace. In the way, Oman took time to find a sturdy walking stick, whittle and shape it properly. It acquired proper walking shoes, selected the clearest path, managed to avoid getting his robes soiled, generally remained unscathed and has just started climbing the hill.

Now, the kid at the top of the hill’s knees are giving way. He needs shoes, a shirt, but he is at the top. He can see for miles around. He can feel the breeze. The kid at the bottom cannot see much around, but he has the walking stick and clean robes. The two are reaching out to one another. “Find me a stick like that, I’ll tell you what I can see”. “Let me have some walking shoes and I can warn you of the terrain here”, and so on a so forth.

And that, dears, is what is going on.

Even More (google)

Oman navigates between Iran and Arab Nations (NYTimes)

Iranian FM in Oman (BiW – 14/5)

Public Authority for Craft Industries visits Iran (today, 18/5)

Oman seen close to Iran (KT, April 09)

Oman-Iran discuss ways to strengthen ties (March, 09)

Iranian Naval Drills in Gulf of Oman (dec 08)

I’m not done with this yet….!!

-FK





Muscati in New York Times

17 05 2009

There is, undoubtedly, interest in Oman at the moment. The international media, having ravished itself on the UAE, dissed SA, ogled Kuwait & Qatar, beaten the Iraqi and Irani dead horse, are now turning their eyes on another niche of the center of the world.

This interest is manifesting itself in the form of articles about Oman in international dead-tree media.

NYTimes has a not-so-positive article. That’s the bad part. I won’t rant on the article, coz its ‘so’ rantable that I’d have to forget all semblance of completing my work today and then ‘urgh-ing’ all the day tomorrow.

But the point of notice of this post is:

A recently amended law allows the government to prosecute anyone associated with a Web site or blog that posts anything objectionable, not just the writer.[…] A blogger was sentenced last month to 10 days in jail after posting on a public forum a confidential government document[…]

This links to Muscati’s post in Omanforum, circa 1999.

Yayy!! Lots of hits!

-FK





No Bottom Feeding

17 05 2009

Bottom Trawling is a technique where in a trawler (obviously) lets its nets (kinda) scrape the bottom (obviously) of the seabed. This “scoops” up the fishes we eat and the things they discard. As a side issue, metal or wooden

Beam Trawler Net

Beam Trawler Net

beam is used to keep the mouth of the net open; this this is terribly destructive to the slow-growing corals that are hosts to many organisms. Also, the seabed is shaken and stirred, which causes the deposited materials/minerals/thingies to be resuspended, causing lack of food for the borrom feeders (catfish). Even more, resuspended mud/sand can cloud the ocean downcurrent for many kilometers, decreasing light penetration and wreaking havoc with the timings of barely-light-living thingies, causing the shrimps and prawns to sleep early and not completing their chores.

Apparently, there are treaties and tries to get this stopped (or atleast restricted) but yada-yada-yada.

Now, Oman too has banned bottom trawling, since many bottom-species were being caught.

Muscat, May 16  – Sheikh Mohammed bin Ali al Qatabi, Fisheries Minister, has issued a ministerial decision banning the use of Bottom Trawling fishing procedure.

Article one of the decision bans the use of Bottom Trawling fishing procedure of bed-sea fisheries. Article two permits companies, establishments and individuals who have been authorized to use the Bottom Trawling fishing procedure a two-years grace period to adjust the situation from the enforcement date of the decision.

The decision aims to establish a secured fishing that preserves marine environment and species, as well as, developing and sustaining fishing resources.

So, does that mean more wuunderful things to look at while snorkelling or scuba-ing? Or less fishies to eat and higher prices? I think it’ll be the same output and higher prices nonetheless! o_o

-FK