Professional Brain Explosions

Whenever someone asks me about the Shoura Council, I quickly respond: “Shoura is dead to me.” I have lost hope that anything good for the people would come out of this institution. Some think I’m being too harsh on them but I beg to differ. Now this is old news, because a couple of days ago Dr. Fahad al-Aboud, a member of the Shoura Council since 2001, offered yet another reason to take the council less seriously.

In his weekly column for al-Riyadh daily, Dr. al-Aboud wrote about a new iPod from Apple. That confused me a little bit because last time I checked Apple’s latest iPod was introduced in September 2009. So I figured maybe he meant the iPad, which was unveiled by Steve Jobs last month. The “revolutionary device,” he said, is a “tablet” computer. Okay, it’s the iPad then, I thought.

But in the next paragraph he adds, “the new device is 3-in-1: a mobile phone, an iPod, and an internet browser.”

Um, I’m confused again. The iPad indeed includes an iPod app and an internet browser, but can’t make phone calls. The iPod Touch is, well an iPod, can browse the internet, but also can’t make phone calls. The iPhone, on the other hand, can do all that, but it’s not exactly a tablet. So what’s up Doc?!

Aboud iPad

Dr. al-Aboud, who holds a PhD in information sciences from Florida State University, goes on and on about the new mysterious iPod that we have not yet seen, saying the new nonexistent device has given Apple “a psychological victory over its peers.” He then asks the all important question: “how far this amazing technological advancement will go?” It is safe to say, he concludes, that the human brain will have a hard time keeping up with or following this advancement.

Well, I can tell you that my brain is exploding from all this gibberish that I’m reading.

But on a more serious note, I believe this article, in addition to showcasing the incompetency of Shoura members, also says a lot about the state of media in the country. The minister of information and top editors here keep talking about how blogs and internet websites lack professionalism and credibility, presumably compared to their newspapers, and then they go and run utter rubbish.

Publishing an article like the aforementioned shows clearly that these newspapers do no fact-checking whatsoever. Do they even know what fact-checking is? Have they ever heard of such thing? They should. They are, after all, professional.

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We Want Apple Saudi Arabia

apple-saudiIt is about time that Apple opens an office in Saudi Arabia. It is time we stop relying on crappy distributors that offer crappy services. Yes we are talking about Arab Business Machines.

That’s why We Want Apple Saudi Arabia was created. We are asking Apple to have a real presence in Saudi Arabia. Go to the website and sign the petition now! (via Khaled)

Love/Hate

Let’s face it. Despite what Philips may try to tell (or sell) you, life is not simple. We usually try to simplify it by generalizing and using stereotypes but that doesn’t always work. This has much to do with the fact that we human beings are very complex. We are not simple creatures folks. And this, I believe, where this kind of love/hate relationships come from.

1 – Riyadh
I love it because living in this city has given me opportunities I would never had if I stayed in my beloved hometown back in the EP, but I hate its hypocrisy, rudeness, sharp contrasts, restrictions and traffic jams.

2 – KSU
I love almost nothing about it except that some of my favorite intellectuals such as Khalid Al Dakhil, Hatoon Al Fassi and Matruk Al Faleh supposedly belong to this entity. I hate almost everything about it especially that these very same intellectuals are not allowed to teach here because someone thinks they will corrupt the minds of our youth.

3 – Relationships
I love them because they can provide you with a sense of security and peace that you can’t feel it on your own. I hate them because in a society like ours they are risky, shaky and so complicated you usually have little or no control over how they progress.

4 – Religious TV channels
I love watching them every now and then because they offer a form of entertainment rarely found anywhere else: laughing at something not intended to be funny. I hate them because in most cases they promote a very narrow-minded agenda that would actually hurt the religion they claim to represent.

5 – iPhone
I love the multi-touch large colorful screen, the amazing UI and immediate responsiveness, the SMS app, YouTube, etc. I hate the Apple lock that makes it hard to use for regular people without some hacking and geekery, no SMS forwarding, the inability to copy contacts from the SIM, and few other little things. But now that Apple have to offer the iPhone in France unlocked I hope most of these problems would be solved soon.

Quickies

Just some short commentary on some stories from Arab News today:

5 Women and Two Men Held in Buraidah
Saudi security forces on Thursday detained five women and two men in an incident that officials linked to weapons possession but which an activist said followed a sit-in by the women.

My friend Rasheed writes about the story that has been making the headlines in the blogosphere in the past few days. Unfortunately, they don’t offer much more than what we already know. Many people here are very disappointed with the way the government chose to deal with this issue. It is sad that none of the Arabic newspaper here has reported the story.

The Hospitality of Justice
I conclude this article with a request to my dear brothers and sisters. You must visit the general court in Jeddah to see for yourselves the truth of what’s happening there. And I’m sure that will only increase your trust in the judicial system and induce you to join me in my prayers for them to live long and remain always alert, concerned about people’s rights and making sure they are not denied justice. Amen.

When I read this column by Amr al-Faisal when it appeared first in al-Watan a few days ago, I immediately recalled my own suffering when I had to do some work at the court here two years ago. It was exactly the way he described it, if not worse. We have been saying for a long time that the whole legal system is in desperate need to be reformed. The new code that was released few months ago was a good, though small, step in the right direction, but we are yet to see a real change.

Citizens Complain About Poor DSL Services
A number of citizens are calling on Saudi Telecom Company (STC) and various service-providing companies to provide better DSL services. “We pay a lot of money but we get poor service and technical problems,” said one Saudi quoted in a report recently in Al-Watan daily whose name was not given.

They have been complaining about it for a long time and I’m afraid they will be for until other companies enter the market to end STC monopoly. As far as I can recall, the new telcos to operate in the kingdom soon will be allowed to build their own cable networks. So till then, I think STC will continue to cut their prices, and that’s as much as they can do because looking back at their history they have never been interested in improving their services.

TV Told Not to Promote Regionalism
Abdullah Al-Jasser, undersecretary at the Ministry of Culture and Information, has criticized Saudi owners of satellite channels for promoting regionalism in a recent press statement. He charged them with promoting narrow-minded regionalism.

This is not the first time Abdullah al-Jasser says something absurd, and most probably won’t be the last time. This is the same guy who described electronic media as “dangerous” and was very excited to take part in some Arab meeting to monitor the internet. The man seems irritated about the appearance of some local TV channels without his ministry’s permission, and irritated even more about the fact that he can’t ban them.