What does it mean?

May 28, 2006

Mortifying the Flesh

I just realized why so many people around the world take such pleasure in hating their own country. It's the same reason that people like mortification of the flesh.

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May 25, 2006

Laws of Return

Is Israel the only country with a Law of Return? If not, how many countries have laws of return?

Continue reading "Laws of Return"

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May 23, 2006

Put the Lebanese guy in charge of the Israeli office!

What happens when you combine your company's Lebanese office with its Israeli office and put the Lebanese head in charge? Find out here. It's one of the most beautiful things I've read. Excerpt:

The Israeli cluster was never profitable. So my western HQ decided to get rid of the manager. That's fine. Instead of bringing in a new Israeli manager, a unique idea arose. Hey, that guy responsible for the Middle East is a (fantastic) performer. Why not add this market to his? Unique. The guy is Lebanese. And a fucking naive idiot.

The next morning the staff were to be informed. They didn't know who I was. They thought I was a Westerner coming in from the west. I could imagine the look on their faces. The horror.

Revenge. How sweet.


We continued. The day went by fast. Very fast. We went through background data. Financials. Forecasts. They started getting pissed. They didn't know the financials were so bad. They were furious. Shocked. They felt betrayed by their previous management for not bringing this to their attention. This was my chance to get that reaction I've dreamt of.

"You know, in Lebanon we never had these problems". Hint, hint. I finally released their curiosity.

I told them. The shock, the horror, the awe. The smiles? No sonic boom in this room.

"Oh my God, my parents were in Beirut in the '60s. I've seen pictures. It was so beautiful. Don't they call it the Paris of the Middle East", she said. What? (Switzerland actually, but that's not the point)

Nobody cared where I was from. Nobody was angry at the decision to bring me in. Nobody gave me any bad attitude. They were angry with the previous Israeli manager for not performing. They were horrified by the financials. And they looked to me for guidance. The Lebo from the north. The 'enemy'.

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May 18, 2006

The brutal nature of life in the Third World

The pseudonymous Isaac Schrödinger is originally from Pakistan, was raised in Saudi Arabia, and is currently a student in Canada. He recounts:

...a conversation I had with a bunch of friends some years ago. We were talking about stuff when one of them said that such-and-such company might have used child labor in Asia for making its products.

"So?" was my response.

Every jaw dropped. "What do you mean so!?"

"So, what's the problem?" I replied.

"That's just wrong, using kids in factories."

"Did the people from such-and-such company force the kids to work in their factory? I don't think so. These young workers line up for a job because it's better than their other options in life."

"But... but what about going to school!?"

It was this question that made me realize that he, like many Westerners, had little knowledge about the brutal nature of life in the Third World.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: My view on poverty is here.

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May 11, 2006

Ayaan Hirsi Ali wins Moral Courage Award

The American Jewish Committee awards Ayaan Hirsi Ali its Moral Courage Award.

The following is part of her acceptance speech (transcription mine):

Ladies and gentlemen I have a confession to make, if you are Jewish. It's a testimony to my dark past when I lived in ignorance.

I used to hate you. I hated you because I thought you were responsible for the war that took my father from me for so long. When the Soviet Union allied with our home-grown dictator in Somalia, I was told the Jews were behind that. In Saudi Arabia I saw poor people from a place called Palestine. Men women and children huddled together in despair. I was told you drove them out of their homes. I hated you for that. When we had no water I thought you closed the tap. I don't know how you did it, but you did it. If my mother was unkind to me I knew you were definitely behind it. Even when I failed an exam I knew it was your fault. I don't know how you did all these things. But then I didn't need proof. You are by nature evil. And you had evil powers and you used them to evil ends.

Learning to hate you was easy.

Listen to the whole thing. It sounds even better in her beautiful voice. And there's more.

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Trackback from Solomonia, Hirsi Ali's Acceptance Speech:
David Boxenhorn transcribed part of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's acceptance speech at the American Jewish Committee's Moral Courage Awards: ...I used to hate you. I hated you because I thought you were responsible for the war that took my father from...