Thursday, February 28, 2008

Feb 27---citywomen!

The ladies form City 7 TV, CITYWOMEN, joined me for a grand chat about men, women and gadgets!

Do men and women simply not understand each other?

Or is it worse... women have been made to think that they need to act and be oen way when it is not the case at all!

High Heels, Make-up... the great con.

City Women
CITY WOMEN is a daily half hour studio-based magazine for women hosted by women. Each day we showcase an exciting mix of stories, interviews, entertaining lifestyle features, as well as studio interviews with inspirational women and softer features – all from a female perspective We also cover a wide range of subjects aimed at helping women stay ahead in our ever-changing world. Our teams of guest experts bring you top tips and the latest stories on everything from personal finance to fashion, beauty, food, health, shopping, wellbeing and parenting. We also bring you the extraordinary tales of ordinary women of the Gulf, guaranteed to inspire, delight and move you to laughter or tears. CITY WOMEN is presented by a team of dynamic women of different ages, experiences and backgrounds who discuss and debate hot topics and issues affecting women across the globe. CITY WOMEN is essential viewing for women everywhere – which their men folk won’t want to miss either.
Type : Womens Show
Playing Text : Friday, February 29, 2008 at 04:30 AM

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Feb 26---are women human

We spoke to Mrs. Jafri about her book!

Are women human?

Mother Courage

A collection of nine stories, each with a female protagonist, Durre-Shahwar Jafri’s Are Women Human? draws its unique diversity from life in the UAE. She talks to Mark Smith about migration, motherhood, and how tea is a feminist issue.

That’s a very provocative title…

Yes it is – and deliberately so. Some people have been outraged, but once they read the stories they realise that the book offers a very good answer to that question.

And what’s your conclusion?

Well, some readers have suggested that the answer is ‘no’: that women are not human. They are super human.

Several of the characters in your stories are migrants…

As am I. I moved to the UAE from Pakistan 30 years ago. The UAE is a wonderful resource for an author because, when you write, you need to be absolutely sure about the cultures you are representing, the nuances, the way people talk to each other and interact. And there are so many cultures here in the UAE. For example, my story ‘The Dawn’ is about a girl from the central Afghan city of Bamiyan, an area decimated by the Taliban. I was lucky enough to meet with people from the region here in the UAE; they provided me with a wealth of contacts and resources.

Why women in particular?

Although I have limited my canvas to South Asia on this occasion, it’s true that women have faced discrimination all over the world, and I wanted to explore the ways in which they can break the shackles. Most often it is an adherence to tribal and feudal mentality which holds women back. Education is key to setting them free, but quite often there are factions opposing the education of women. I am vice president of a community school, so I am often privy to women’s stories: their joys, their heartaches. I find it very inspiring.

Which of the women in your stories do you admire most?

I admire them all, because they are all standing up to life in whatever way they can. Of course it depends to an extent on the amount of freedom that a person has. For example, there is this village woman in my book: within her limited sphere, she may not be able to achieve what a woman from the city can, but she does whatever she is able to do. And that really amounts to dreaming of an education for her children. She puts her daughter in a village school that has recently opened, and she is happy to be able to give her daughter a life she herself has not been able to live.

Surely feminism is about personal success, about being in charge of one’s own destiny?

This is a common misconception. I believe that, if you really want to have coexistence on this earth, no one person can be completely the master or mistress of their own destiny. There have to be compromises, there has to be give and take. Without that compromise, no home, no family, no society can exist. ‘Me’ and ‘mine’ – these are things which break society. They do not make it.

You are a mother. Do you treat your son and your daughter differently?

Not at all. There’s one incident in particular which sticks in my mind. Once I was paid a visit by a friend of mine– a very educated friend, I should add – and so I asked my son Hussein to make some tea. The friend said, ‘Why are you asking him to make tea – he is a man. We’ll do it ourselves’. I told her that Hussein makes very good tea and, since he was not studying at the time, there was no reason for him not to. It amazes me that we make these rules which have no grounding in reality and then we allow them to modulate everything around us.

Benazir Bhutto was regarded by many as a feminist. How significant is her death in terms of women’s issues in Pakistan?

Benazir Bhutto did not restrict herself solely to women’s issues. Lately, how-ever, since she had been away from the country for about a decade, she did not have any direct involvement in the women’s issues of my country.

Your stories all end on a note of optimism. Are you optimistic about the future of Pakistan at this time?

The note of optimism is not limited only to Pakistani women. However, yes, I am optimistic about the future of my country. I believe that like many other nations, Pakistan faces some grave problems at the moment, but I am sure with the struggle and sacrifice of the people of my country we shall sail through this period of turmoil.

By Mark Smith, Sunday February 17 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008

Feb 25---education Dubai

Nigel Cropley, Jeff Wornstaff, Michael Guzder and Dean Pyrah joined me for 75 minutes on the state of education in Dubai and the world!

Is it all fun and games? NO.

Is there optimism? Yes.

Is all education created the same? No.

Where does this leave us?

Learning Zeitgeist: The Future of Education is Just-in-Time, Multidisciplinary, Experimental, Emergent

The skills that are highly valued today are not even distantly related to the skills that are developed in our educational prison facilities year after year, week after week, class after class, when students are put into classrooms, disconnected from each other to fill tests, amputated from their prosthesis of thinking like mobile phones and their intellectual capabilities being hammered into the dirt by requiring certain outcomes rather than creativity and imagination. Why? Because there are three stages in the relationship between the individual and the knowledge during ones lifetime:

1) Stage one happens when a baby is born and starts a process of individual learning driven by exploration. Soon the limitations of this exploration requires finding adults who will tell things the child is unable to experiment with. 2) In stage two, the child enters school, where experiential learning is gradually replaced by learning by being told. The trauma is to stop learning and accept being taught. 3) Those who survive this strangling intellectual torture enter stage three which involves deschooling, learning to learn, experiencing and learning to be creative, effectively returning to stage one. Going back to stage one is in the heart of life-long learning.
(Source: Seymour Papert) This is why it gets to be so hard for someone being educated in our present-day schooling systems to tune-in, find a space, learn and understand the ecosystem she is in. It is the educational system we use that makes so difficult for anyone to learn and comprehend reality using the tools and the means that present day technology, science and education suggest as best.
"A good educational system should have three purposes: a) it should provide all who want to learn with access to available resources at any time in their lives; b) empower all who want to share what they know to find those who want to learn it from them; and, finally, c) furnish all who want to present an issue to the public with the opportunity to make their challenge known."
Too bad, this is the vision of Ivan Illich, written over 50 years ago. Reality, in the world of education I see around me, is still very far from having even considered questioning its own very premises and methods. In the essay that follows, Teemu Arina introduces a vision for the future of learning as well as two interesting concepts you may want to explore further: Serendipic and Parasitic Learning. Here the details:

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Feb 24---- innovation

Have we lost the plot when it comes to innovation?
Jabir Walji suggests that we have simply lost the map and strategic innovation, a systems approach, is the route to rediscovery.

It's very simple really," insists Jabir Walji, thrusting a pile of graphs and charts onto my lap. “I’m in strategy, and more specifically I develop business strategies. The love has always been to do any kind of business development or planning — you name it, I will develop it.”

Indeed, Walji has probably had a hand in developing more products than you might think. The self-styled strategic guru has, over the last decade, worked with companies as diverse as the likes of General Motors, Shell, Intel, HP, Samsung, Lexus and Gillette, to re-invigorate their thought processes from top to bottom.

His work with Gillette, in particular, led to a revolution that has cemented the brand’s place — with the help of soccer star David Beckham — as the world’s most popular razor blade. “We assisted Gillette in designing its two and three-blade models at a time when only a single-blade product was out in the market,” says Walji, who is based at the London headquarters of strategy consultants Systematic Innovation.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Feb 20--out of control food prices!

The price of food is going through the roof.

In the UAE food price is the one thing that has an impact on us all, everyone feels the pain.

What to do?

Government control?

End import and distribution monopolies?

Move? What about the UAE national this is their home?

Some people say you need a better job!

Maybe what we need is a national/local strategy?

Adel Hussain of NOOR DUBAI 93.9FM is suggesting that people should just stop buying the food that is over priced.

What is your take on the issue?

UAE food prices head skywards

by Lynne Roberts on Thursday, 14 February 2008

Basic food prices in the UAE have rocketed by 36%, with basmati rice expected to increase by at least a further 70% a newspaper reported Thursday.

UAE daily Gulf news said an expected shortage in rice would send prices sky-high, with Pakistani rice suppliers threatening to reduce exports if prices are not increased to match Indian products.

The price of cooking oil has risen by 80%, Indian mutton by more than 100%, while cooking gas has increased by 30%, the newspaper said, adding that residents had been forced to shop for groceries in more affordable neighbouring countries.

Story continues below

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia said it would withdraw subsidies from rice importers if prices continue to increase without good reason.

Dubai economist Eckart Woertz told Gulf News weak dollar-pegged Gulf currencies had made imports more expensive. “Food price inflation is a global phenomenon, but GCC countries are particularly affected …. if they revalue, food imports will become cheaper”, he said.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Feb 19--eDETOX

How addicted are you to the electronic world we live in?

Giorgio Ungania and I had a great chat and then you jumped in.

What triggers email addiction?

Email allows us to escape the vale of tears life is. Here we can act emotionally, too. We can break conventions. Email is a very personal means of communication. We can love. We can hate. (It seems) we are loved. If we are hated, we just put the offender in our killfile.

And all that we do more or less anonymously. (Unfortunately my picture is featured rather prominently here so I'm not so prone to being loved...pitied rather.) Since it's anonymous, we can be who we want to be, we can fool the world and our selves. I guess a very interesting question in that respect is why we cannot be what we want to be in the "real" world.


Let's try to anyways. Let's get addicted to a real world with real people with real eyes and real ears and real hands and real email addresses.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Feb---18 the politics of the olympics

OK so Speilberg has pulled out of the Olymics as an artistic adviser.

Is the Olympics about politics or sports?

Not a Boycott

Olympic Dream for Darfur is not a boycott campaign, nor does it support a boycott of the Olympics.

Our goal is to leverage the Olympics to urge China to use its influence with the Sudanese regime to allow a robust civilian protection force into Darfur. China is in a unique position to do so: as Sudan's strongest political and economic partner, as well as the host of the Olympics.

Our campaign supports the Olympics and believes in the ideal of the Olympic Games as a symbol of peace and international cooperation. Our campaign believes that the sports arena is the best forum for countries to "do battle" and we do not advocate withdrawal by any nation from this essential and important forum.

An Olympic boycott, or the threat of boycott, can only create serious divisions within the ranks of countries and constituencies that, like our campaign, care about Darfur and the ideals of peace represented by the Olympics. A boycott also punishes athletes, their families, and spectators around the world.

Bring the Olympic Dream to Darfur

Our campaign has one central ask: "China Please: Bring the Olympic Dream to Darfur." We are appealing to China, in its role as host of the Games and close partner of Sudan, to use its considerable influence with Khartoum to protect civilians.

Olympic Dream for Darfur applauds that China won the bid to host the Olympics. We commend China’s willingness to work within the international community, and praise the energy and care China has devoted to hosting a celebratory Olympics.

We do believe, however, that with the privilege of hosting the Olympics come responsibilities, including the obligation to live up to the spirit of the Olympics, which means acting as a global leader for peace.

Or We Will Bring Darfur to the Olympics

If China does not take decisive and genuine action well before the Games begin, we will use the period before the Games – and the Games themselves – as a platform to advocate peace in Darfur. If we cannot "Bring the Olympic Dream to Darfur," we will "Bring Darfur to the Olympic Dream," making the horrific crisis in Darfur a significant and unavoidable presence at the Games themselves.

The United Nations has called what is happening in Darfur the "greatest humanitarian catastrophe" in the world today. There would be no greater example of the Olympic spirit at work than to alleviate the endless suffering in western Sudan.

Countdown to the Beijing Games

There are seven months until the Olympics -- precious little time to use the leverage of the 2008 Beijing Games to press China to bring security to Darfur.

Will there be a "Genocide Olympics?"

China holds unrivaled influence with the genocidal regime in Sudan. China must immediately use that influence to persuade the Sudanese government to allow a full and robust civilian protection force into Darfur. (Read about China's influence with Sudan, and what China must do.)

If China does not act, in its role as Olympic host and world leader, Beijing will go down in history as the host of the "Genocide Olympics": China will be sponsoring the Olympic Games at home and the genocide in Darfur -- in which it is complicit -- abroad.

What we must do to bring security to Darfur:

  1. Stage three major demonstrations during the Games:
  2. Pressure China with demonstrations between now and August.

  3. Urge Olympic Corporate Sponsors to use their influence with China.

Feb 17---are you a pirate?

Xan Blacker and Masarat Daud Join me in a discussion about the ethics of being a digital pirate today.

Check out this resource!

The Music Business As Seen From The Inside: Ty Roberts, Gracenote CTO Interviewed

A few days ago I had the opportunity to meet briefly with Ty Roberts, CTO of Gracenote, a company which you may have not heard of, but which has already helped you thousands of times play and identify your music collection titles and artists on your computer and personal digital media device.

Ty Roberts CTO of Gracenote - Photo credit: Robin Good

Ty has been working on the music industry side for the last several years, and, from how he spoke, it is easy to tell how much he has absorbed and made his the big labels mentality and views on the music business.

As many other in his business, Ty too has realized that the restrictive and punishing approach the the recording industry has taken ever since the rise of Napster has not worked well for them. Music consumption is at an all-time high, while recorded CDs keep selling less and less. This is what he reports himself in this video interview we recorded last weekend at the St.Regis Hotel here in Rome.

I am publishing this interview with a specific goal in mind: helping you understand better where the music industry is at today. Are they being reborn, or are they still thinking where to go next?

I know Ty Roberts is not the spokesman of the whole recording music industry, but since he has worked in it for quite a long time and didn't know the goal of my interview at the time of recording, I feel this stands as a quite genuine example of where at least some of this music industry management is at.

Unfortunately, though I do leave the final judgment to you, this music business seems to have lost contact with consumer reality and with how fair business should be conducted. What I heard in Ty's voice, is certainly a positive desire to change somehow direction, but without fully understanding, acknowledging or opening to true rethinking of their business model.

What stroke me the most, among the several interesting things Ty had to share in this video interview, is the fact that the music industry, or at least some people in it, still expect consumers to come forward and re-evaluate the recording labels attitude and past actions in a new light.

That it is good to forgive and to be constructive I do agree, as much as I agree that CEOs of the major labels should not be hanged or imprisoned. In the end... they only minded their own business. But what I can't agree with, is the idea that somehow, by forgetting the past mistakes individuals and record companies can marry again and live forever happy.

I feel sorry for this, but to be honest, I do not think I will ever marry again commercial record labels as I know them now. They have sold me protected and DRM-full CDs at unreasonable prices, they have threatened, harassed and fined friends around the world for having freely downloaded and shared music, they have made it next to impossible but for a selected few artists to ever make it on the music scene, they have sold their soul not to the greatest and most innovative music talent but to the untuned sound of their own wallets. Why should I forgive them?

Someone still thinking that without the major record labels you would have no more good music coming your way?

Read this morning news and think again and start communicating with the major labels more, via your silent wallet. It's the only language they know.

Here is to Ty Roberts, and his own take on all this as a music industry executive. See whether it is just me that sees things this way, or if you feel too the same flies in your stomach when you hear where these guys are at.

Ty maybe a great, talented guy, sure. But to ride the wave, at some point you need to climb on the board and decide which one wave you really wanna ride. Or not?

At any rate, especially if you are a musician or an independent artist, there is a lot to learn from this interview and from some of the genuine advice that Ty shares during it.

Here the video clips and the full text transcript from it. Thanks Ty!


Video Interview with Ty Roberts, CTO of Gracenote


Ty Roberts: I'm Ty Roberts, I'm the inventor of music and multimedia software.

I did CD-ROMS with David Bowie. I did video games, and now I run a large database for all the music players in the world.

The company name is Gracenote. You may not have heard of it because we're kind of inside the different music products.

Probably the best way to know of it is - if you have ripped a CD, you have used Gracenote, because the names of the songs are not on the CD. The names of the songs come from our database.

When you put the CD into the computer, it downloads the names of the songs. You push the button, it rips the tracks into your computer, and it gives our names. Without us, you would have no names for your songs.

You need to have a name for the file, and there's no name on the CD. It's printed on the CD, but to actually have a file you want to have a written text name saying such and such an artist and this year it was made and what type of music it is so you can find it later. Once you rip 50 CDs you'll have 500 to 600 different files.

So when the CD is first put into the computer, you use a software application like iTunes. Apple iTunes then knows the CD is there, and it gets a little code off the CD then sends that code to our database.

Our database has those codes compared to all the names of the songs and all the information, then it sends that information down to iTunes which then displays it, and it all happens in a second - you don't even realize it's happening.

You can't get the names from our song database while you're on the airplane, you have to do it while you're on the internet.

Automobiles are not yet on the internet, they probably will be on the internet soon, but right now they're not. We've embedded our CD database, the entire database, inside the automobiles. It's not really the complete CD database because our database is really huge, but it's the database that fits well for the country where the car was sold, so there are a few hundred thousand CDs in there.

The Music Industry vs. Pirates

The recording industry tried the wrong approach to get consumers to not copy music across the internet.

They knew that if people were just giving music away to each other for free that their business wouldn't grow very far. SDMI was the first attempt at trying to come up with some kind of strategy to control copying of music.

Ultimately the recording industry never found a strategy that worked, so today music is flowing around the internet all over the place.

We, my company, haven't been directly involved in P2P. We don't do that, but I guess what I really want to say is that industry efforts were not successful.

Maybe with the high tech they have today, they could have been more intelligent with how they approached it - but the recording industry was initially a little too underhanded, a little too controlling, and that continued for years and years.

The consumers took control, and now the recording industry is going without any kind of protection of the files. There's no more protected music files being produced, probably about a year from now there will be no more at all.

I feel the consumers forced flexibility. I think the recording industry made a mistake not to pick a standard single vendor digital rights management system way back 4 or 5 years ago.

They didn't want to do that because they were afraid of empowering one company to control their whole business. So instead they empowered no companies to control their business, they had a big fight, Apple won, and now Apple controls their business more than they do.

It was just a bunch of mistakes, I think, made by people who are reasonably intelligent about these things, but in the perspective of the time, they made the wrong decisions.

CD Ripping is Not Pirating

We work both sides of the aisle, basically. On the consumer side, the consumers submit the song names. So the song names in our database, all or a lot of them come from the end user submitting them to the database.

CD ripping is not pirating files. It's easier for people to burn files by going to the internet and downloading the files themselves - starting with a CD is not something the people really do to pirate files in a huge way.

Usually people are taking the CD collection they bought, and the first thing they do when they get a digital music player is take all the CDs they bought and burn them. So that's really our business.

I think the record business looked at any conversion of music CDs to files to be dangerous, but now they realize this is just part of normal life, and this is not the dangerous part.

The dangerous part for them is when people take giant hard drives full of files, then go meet their friends and exchange the entire hard drive in ten minutes. If it was happening on a very small scale it wouldn't be so bad, but that problem is happening on a large scale.

Pretty much every college student is exchanging any music they have with every other college student, and before they leave college they have 50,000 songs.

For The Love of Music

This doesn't mean they don't love music. They wouldn't be doing this if they didn't love music. We see, through what Gracenote sees, the usage continues to go up. Consumption of music is going up, up, up.

There's more use of music in everything. You can use music in your slide shows on your computer, listen while you're jogging, put it on your stereo system.

So music consumption is going up, the problem is the sales of the recorded music are not going up, they're going down.

I think what needs to happen for the recording business is they have to reinvent themselves, and they have to create a new product that is more relevant to the consumer today

That is probably more related to a music product which contains music but also the contains the kinds of things a music fan likes - access to tickets or information about the artist or photos or videos or other music related community kinds of things. That's a package for music today, rather than the music itself.

The music itself by itself a single track of music has less value today, but the overall pack of, I think, the assets of the artist has more value. The record music companies need to broaden what they do, refine which angle to do, and the consumption will recover relatively rapidly.

Future Solutions for Monetizing Music

Music can become like a utility in a certain way. You pay your power bill, for your electrical power, based upon how many kw you use, but you don't really think about where it comes from.

You realize that the power in your walls is coming from the river, some is coming from the nuclear power plant, some is coming from whatever - you don't think about the complexities of how the system gets you power. It just gets you power, it works

So what he [Gerd Leonhard is saying is music will become part of the service of the internet essentially.

Now, every month you pay a certain amount of money to get high speed internet connection in your home, so music, movies, and I think he says other things, will become part of that billing structure while enabling you to consume as much as you can consume.

So a flat rate or a compulsory license for those rights I think is going to be something that will probably happen in the future. Consumers, as I said, aren't consuming less, they're just not paying for it.

Music Bands Today

The number of large artists that are rich wealthy rap star guys driving all the cars is much smaller. They individually have less money too, because the top selling albums, if you look at the charts, the platinum album that used to stay on the radio for five months, and every single would be another song, that just doesn't happen very often. It almost happens never now

A successful album now sells millions of copies. It could be a very successful album where it sells millions of copies, not tens of millions. The total sales for the albums are off by like 50%, something like that.

Big artists are selling less, still selling a lot, still not struggling, but still not selling any more like they used to ten years ago. New tier artists are selling just a few hundred thousand. What that means is the amount money they receive from their record contracts isn't enough for them to actually live off.

If you are 50 Cent, you can live off your music and make millions of dollars and live off your music. If you're somebody that's more like in a gold record kind of deal (a gold record used to be like "hey I'm successful"), that means you can have a band you can be successful, but really your livelihood is touring

What's happened now is in the US, now especially, and in Europe, there's a lot of festivals now. There's a lot of bands at these festivals, there's small bands.

There are bands with four guys that go in a van and they tour around. Their income and their lifestyle, their lifestyle is probably interesting, but their income is probably much more in line with someone with a normal job. And there are many more of those bands now than there ever were before.

A part of that is the consumer tastes have fragmented. So these bands address different niches and styles of music, which before everyone was like "okay I have to listen to Pink Floyd" or whatever big band of the day was. Now instead kids are interested in small bands, lots of small bands.

I think it's very good. I think that there is no problem right now with the talent pool. There is more bands touring around more places than ever before.

What's great about that is getting to play. What makes a musician good is actually playing. Nothing gets you to be better at your art than being forced to play your music every night, six nights a week, on the road with four friends who are out there doing it because they love doing it.

It's totally different than maybe ten years ago where the idea was you get a hit record and turn to this rich guy who occasionally records music does big stadium tours, there's just so few of those artists now around. And they're not making as many new ones of those kind of artists now as they were at one time.

Advice to Music Record Companies

My advice to record companies would be innovate, develop a new product, make something that is more interesting consumers, and more relevant to today's consumer.

Look at broadcast media where the record company and the artist vision is given to the consumer, and the consumer had to accept it or not. That's how it has worked for the last several hundred years.

Now there is the internet, and it really doesn't work that way anymore.

You send something to the consumer, the consumer reflects his vision of it back at you, comments on it, tells you what they think, maybe even responds to you within a piece of art or does something in response to that. And that's a two way communication channel, which is really what the internet is about.

I think the recording industry needs to develop a two way music relationship and product, not a one-way product. That's one.

On the consumer side, while I know it's really great to get free anything, it would be great when there was a new product such as this two way communication product, if consumers were to reevaluate their concept of actually paying money for something so they can support a system of people to do that.

Yes there are artists who make too much money and there are artists with no money, but there are people in the middle who actually try to run the business.

It is actually a challenge right now. A lot of my friends are the people having a hard time in the business, and they are good people. There were bad people in the recording music business, but a lot of them have left because it's not as much fun as it used to be.

So what I am saying is if consumers could reevaluate that and forgive a little bit of the evils of the past, if the recording music business changes its ways, and I think they will, then I hope consumers will meet them in the middle and there will be a happy musical life somewhere in the future.

Interview end.

Originally recorded and written by Robin Good for Master New Media and first published on January 14th 2008 as "Music Business: Ty Roberts interviewed by Robin Good"

Robin Good -

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Kate Brooks, a photojournalist based in Beirut has a display of her work at the JAM JAR in DUBAI.

Here is what you think about her ideas.

Hi James,

interesting topic today. Hot topic, very hot!

Kate is an inspiration in her own right. That's one of the reasons I
admire journalists out there. They get to do all sorts of interesting
things at the same time keeping us informed. They report so many
things (Journalism is actually one career I wouldn't mind having, and
have ventured into slightly by writing articles for magazines and
having been an editor of a magazine in the past. But I don't know if
there's a place in UAE that offers a solid journalism degree)

To be honest, i think people are either lazy about expressing
themselves or just aren't passionate enough about the issue they want
to express themselves about. Sending letters to 7Days and Express
isn't much help (especially the letters that complain about an issue
the editor can't do anything about....that's one of my pet peeves that
i've written about in my blog) Else, I think people are stuck 'in the
box' and go about doing what everyone else is doing, which doesn't get
you noticed, what gets you noticed is the work like kate's done. She's
not done the typical photos that we are bombarded by on a daily basis
(news channels and so on) but she's done the 'other side' of the coin,
that really puts things into perspective for the rest of us. Humanizes
the conflict by showing the other side of the conflict. not just as a
fleeting image on TV, but a captured image. We do forget that the
other side is also human. I think a lot of us just sit here and hope
it's not going to happen to us or our children, but who knows?

Photojournalism is an art in its own right, I think. Because words
express one thing, but an image is way more clearer and is understood
by the majority of people who see it. Photojournalism has been around
for a long time, in a magazine i used to work for, we had a column
that had photos taken by a photography student. His 'picture essays'
told so much in so little, and the views of some of those pictures are
breathtaking! and best of all, once a picture is taken it's there to
spread the word/message to whoever see it. I think we do need more
people like Kate out there. Journalists and photojournalists who
aren't going through an editor and told what is going out there and
what isn't.

But back to Kate's images; we only see one side of things on the news.
folks in US see Middle East as this big bad place with Muslims hating
Christians and everyone else because that's how the Media painted
Middle East , even if it's based on just one or two countries. I have
a lot of friends in US who up until they met me, thought that UAE and
Middle East was all about making women wear the hijab and being
violent towards non-Muslims. There's another side to almost every
story. Another side that sometimes the media doesn't catch or show,
probably because it's "not exciting". Notice how something 'good'
doesn't really get reported that much, it might get a passing mention,
and that's it. but what's the top story? someone getting killed,
someone killing a bunch of people, etc etc.

The news in general, are about the ratings. the more 'radical' the
images and pictures and videos, the better rating the news channels
get. whoever gets the story of the day and reports it first, wins. (at
least in Europe) I heard that someone tried starting a radio station
that only reported good and positive things; guess what? it went out
of business because not many were listening to it. Are we getting
desensitized? Oh hell yeah! In fact, some people *want* to see more
blood and gore and violence it seems. Which, I find, more than just a
little bit disturbing. Just take a look at any movie out today versus
a movie or a TV show twenty to thirty years ago. Watch an episode of
Magnum PI, you will hear someone getting killed, but you'll never see
the blood and gore, nowadays, the likes of CSI, the blood and
everything is shown full blown close up, and people want more of this
sort of thing because that gets ratings.

Nowadays, there's also the Internet, ease of access to pretty much
anything news-wise. it's very easy to get overwhelmed by a lot of the
information out there, but even that, doesn't paint the whole picture.
News people are supposed to remain neutral in reporting the news, but
sometimes, either the body language, or the tone of the voice the text
is written in, paints a whole different picture that pretty much
makes sure the reader or the viewer leans towards one particular side
as opposed to letting the reader or viewer choose the side. There have
been studies done on that I believe.

Like I said in an SMS tonight, News is like reality TV. Shot 24/7, but
it's the editor who chooses what goes out there in front of the
public. How can we get all the news we need, unbiased, both sides and
so on, in a 30 or so page of paper? We can't! the paper would have to
be a 1000+ page sized novel published on a daily basis. And as if
we're not killing enough trees as it is...(but that is a whole
different subject I think.) So, as not to go through the 'middle
man' (not that I'm bashing the editors, I've been one, and i
understand why they have to do what they have to do) I think we do
need freelance people like Kate doing her own thing. I think we need
people who blog about the daily issues. There are people blogging
live from Iraq and Afghanistan, and there is no better news report,
like it being a personal issue and being in the hotspot to report
what's going on and how it's affecting you directly. That's what
humanizes them. I want to see really what's going on in Iraq and
Afghanistan rather than just what the papers and news channels show you.

Whoever said that blogs are bad sources of 'news' (whilst sometimes
true, often times it's not), needs to come back down to the planet.
There is no better news source than an Iraqi citizen blogging directly
from Iraq and telling people out there what's really going on out
there so as to show and compliment the side that the news already
reports. Kate's pictures do a wonderful job of showing that 'other'
side of the conflict. I hope there would be more people like that.


Feb 11-show them your love MORE!

We had them back and it was amazing!

Dr. Marc Sinclair spoke about the Little Wings Foundation and drian Doolan spoke about Fred Hollows.

Go to the podcast for a listen!

This is simply to good a thing to not talk about!

Suman Manning and her 5 best friends have put together something amazing!

A valentine charity dinner!

What is amazing is that they have done this because it needs to be done, in their spare time!

And even better the funds raised from this event go to two amazing charity groups!
---check them out.

1. The Fred Hollows Foundation---really worth a look!
2. The Little Wings Foundation---here in the UAE.

395 dirhams gets you food, drink, prizes,dancing all at the Four Seasons Golf Club and you are helping line the pockets of a charity not a hotel!


get tickets via email

or call Suman Manning 050-658-1338

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Feb 10 ---Traffic and driving

We spoke to Adam Kechil of the "In Gear Program on City7" and Bob Farrow GM of Hertz UAE.

What doe we need to do in the UAE to make traffic work?

Education, enforcement, engineering.

The key from my side of the desk is enforcement, now.

The problem for driving culture in the UAE is the fact that we have a population turn over that is not seen in other parts of the world.

Hard to change the populations ideas if they come and go.

So, we need a big stick!

Some may not agree!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

FEB 6---our own engish high school

Our Own English High School Dubai

Last night we had a fun chat about OOEHS and 40 years of education.

Success Saga of ‘Our Own’, Dubai

Like the legendary and beautiful Arabian horse, Dubai gallops ahead leaving onlookers mesmerized. Thanks to the vision and dynamism of its rulers, their innovative approach, commitment to quality and ambition to excel, Dubai has stunned the world by its mind-boggling growth and development.

‘Our Own’, Dubai reflects this phenomenal growth in its own saga of development albeit in a very different sphere. Originally the flagship of the Varkey Group of Schools, today it sets the ‘gold standard’ amongst all the Indian schools under the banner of GEMS Education, one of the largest provider of quality education in the world.

The name “Our Own” struck a chord in the hearts of thousands of parents who placed their trust in “Our Own’ over the last four decades. For a school to arrive at its fortieth year in a country which in itself is only thirty-six years old is indeed a unique achievement. This speaks volumes for our Founder’s foresight and vision when way back in 1959, the Late Mr. K. S. Varkey realized that with Dubai’s future there was need for a school where young minds would stretch and confidence soar, both academically and personally. Far ahead of his time, Mr. Varkey realized the importance of service, diversity, international understanding and adventure as integral parts of a strong academic curriculum. Forty years later, these ideals have become a model for education in the 21st century.

Mrs. Mariamma Varkey joined her husband in 1961. Initially they both conducted coaching classes in the English Language for local children in Bur Dubai, in what was known as the Varkey School and the first pupil was a young boy named John Varkey! The success of this beginning encouraged our Founder to establish a formal school and thus, was born the first ‘Our Own’ in August 1968 with twenty-seven students and three teachers. It was housed in Bastakiya behind the Old Diwan Amir.

As it grew in size and stature, the school was moved to the Zabeel Area. Initially, students were housed in port-a-cabins, eventually moving into the building it is in at present. A few years later, Our Own was affiliated to Central Board of Secondary Education, New Delhi in 1982: ample proof that ‘Our Own’ had come of age … there has been no looking back since.


Under the dynamic leadership of the Chairman Mr. Sunny Varkey, the School moved onto another orbit altogether. Today ‘Our Own’ boasts of being one of the largest schools in the world, providing quality education to hundreds of thousands of students. With the demand for admission far outstripping the space available, for several years an afternoon session was inevitable … the Kindergarten and girls were in the morning while the boys filled the afternoon. However, in March 2005, the boys moved into a custom built facility in Al Warqa’a doing away with the need for the afternoon shift. Today, the community numbers over eleven thousand pupils and staff in two premises.

The curriculum followed till Grade VIII is such that, at the end of this stage, students are ready for any syllabus which leads to a public exam, be it under the Indian, British, American, Pakistani or Sri Lankan systems. English is, and has always been, the medium of instruction. Besides it, the other languages taught are Arabic, Hindi, Urdu, Malayalam and French. At the end of Grades X and XII, students take the All India Secondary School Examination and the All India Senior School Certificate Examination respectively, conducted by the CBSE at Delhi. At the senior secondary level pupils have the option to study various combinations of subjects in the Science, Commerce and Arts streams.

Our Own is now known for the provision of a solid academic foundation and a rich extra curricular programme grounded in four core values – World Citizenship, Universal Values, Leadership Qualities and Forward Thinking.

Shobhana Verghese
Ms. S. Verghese
Much of its growth and quality can be ascribed to the line of dedicated and inspiring heads over the years, of whom the very first was Ms A.M. Lopez followed by several dynamic Principals under whose leadership to the School made ‘geometric progression’. Ms S Verghese is the present Executive Principal / CEO of ‘Our Own’ at Dubai and Al Warqa’a.

The school’s motto ‘Lead Kindly Light’ is a guiding beacon for all.

Celebrating Achievement

Our Own English High School has unveiled its plans for celebrating its 40th anniversary year from February 8, 2008 on the school campus with over 3000 guests, including current and former students, their families, faculty, staff and well wishers. With guests including the Consul General of India in Dubai, the day's festivities will celebrate the school’s rich history through performances that highlight the talent of Our Own students. Simultaneously, the multimedia display will provide a visual history of the development and achievement of ‘Our Own’ in the last four decades. On this special occasion, ‘Our Own’ honours its esteemed Founder simultaneous with the celebration of the extraordinary educational environment created here.

We will be celebrating our 40th year with considerable pride in our achievement,” says Shobhana Verghese, Executive Principal. “We look forward to the future with confidence, building significantly on the very solid foundation our first four decades provided. The school has become an integral part of Dubai, as well as in the wider United Arab Emirates education sector. We also value highly our partnerships with local people and as we celebrate this anniversary, acknowledge the support and guidance of various officials from within the Ministry of Education. Together, we’ve built a unique school which I am confident will continue to serve the region and the country well. I encourage everyone to join us over the course of the celebration and share in our joy,” says Ms. Verghese

In her ‘Fabulous Forties,’ ‘Our Own’ shines.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Feb 5---Boarding School

We were joined by Sue Anderson and Sara Sparling of Sue Anderson Consultants and by Clive Keevil a GEMS director in our quest to learn more about boarding schools.

There are 2 podcasts in the JAMESCAST that really do give a lot of food for thought.

Boarding school is not for everyone BUT there is sure a lot on offer today and given our expat lifestyles in the UAE maybe boarding is not such a far flung idea!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Feb 4-Global Rock Challenge DUBAI

We spoke to Aysel Duman about the GLOBAL ROCK CHALLENGE!

This is amazing!

And no surprise the nations business simply don't see the value of getting involved.

But Aysel is making this happen and it is amazing.

United Arab Emirates

2007 was the first year Rock Challenge was staged in Dubai, United Arab Emirates showing Global Rock Challenge is once again a program with universally important aims.

Global Rock Challenge was performed in the UAE for the first time at the Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre.

Three hundred and fifty pupils, ages 13 to 18, from five high schools in Dubai took part and was supported by the Rock Challenge UK team.

Like all GRC events, the aim was to promote a healthy lifestyle among school pupils by highlighting the dangers of smoking, promoting road safety and encouraging pupils to be more active.

Many performances were based on themes that ranged from a display of the dancing styles through the ages to natural tragedies such as the recent Asian tsunami.

Participating teams came from Dubai Scholars, Wellington International School, Emirates International School, Deira International School, George Pomperdii and Mirdif American Girls School and gave many students the chance to meet other pupils.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Feb 3--consumerism

We are all consumers... but has consumerism gotten out of hand?

Are we buying without thinking of the long term impact on you and I, the economy and society?

Some say it is all about VALUES.

Others say it is about helping others by creating work.

But have we gone too far?

No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies

Naomi Klein

HarperCollins 2000
A book review by Danny Yee © 2001
In No Logo Naomi Klein offers a lively account of some of the major trends in business and culture in recent years — the rise of branding, its role in the growth of corporate power, changes in labor markets and the nature of work, and the resulting backlash. While she offers nothing that's really new or original, she brings together and synthesizes a broad range of material; the result is an overview that has helped to raise awareness of important issues.

Branding and advertising are hardly new phenomena, but Klein traces the origins of modern branding campaigns to the mid-80s, stressing the role played by clothing companies such as the Gap, Hilfiger, and Nike (she admits to having been a label-obsessed "mall-rat" as a teenager). She describes the appropriation of youth and "indie" culture (the "hunting of cool"), the intrusion of advertising (Channel One, Coke and Pepsi) into schools and universities, and "identity marketing" (the targeting of minorities, feminists, and progressive agendas). This is an entertaining account, but sometimes Klein gets caught up in the details of individual cases, and in her own rhetoric, coming up with statements such as "It wasn't until January 1999, however — when Hilfiger launched the ad campaign for the Stones' No Security Tour — that full brand-culture integration was achieved."

The rise of branding is tied up with the broader growth in and consolidation of corporate power. Klein surveys the expansion of superbrands and franchises (with Walmart and Starbucks as examples). She looks at the process of mergers and synergies, focusing on superstores, branded villages, and other controlled spaces (with Disney as a key example). And she considers corporate censorship: control of the media and distribution channels, the way aggressive protection of trademarks blurs into harassment of critics, and the willingness of multinationals to appease repressive states.

Part three, "No Jobs", shifts focus to look at changes in labor relations and working conditions. The Cavite Export Processing Zone in the Philippines is an example of a labor force kept under tight control, in "sweatshop" conditions. Meanwhile United States has seen massive casualization of the workforce, from lowly "McJobs" at McDonalds to temps at Microsoft. And corporations are no longer "good neighbours" creating jobs for communities; instead they create wealth for shareholders.

Klein finishes with a look at the "backlash" produced by these changes, covering adbusting and culture jamming, the Reclaim the Streets movement, anti-corporate activism, brand-based campaigns (with case studies of Shell, Nike, and McDonalds), and "local foreign policy" (in government, university, and school purchasing policies). This touches on how corporations have responded and Klein also offers a chapter on the limitations of brand-based campaigns — targeting Shell and Nike gives Chevron and Adidas a free run, while unbranded companies can only be reached through controversial secondary boycotts. A conclusion considers broad issues of consumerism versus citizenship and the fight for the global commons.

No Logo contains some fascinating material, but it is rather narrowly focused on what a marxist would call the "ideological superstructure". Klein says that she has "always been drawn to the shiny surfaces of pop culture" and, despite a few gestures at more, it's not clear that she really gets below those surfaces. She spends too much time making the same point repeatedly using different examples, rather than placing the phenomena she is describing within their broader historical, economic, and political contexts.

Her account of corporate mergers, for example, only mentions in passing the decline in anti-trust action by the United States Federal Trade Commission. When dealing with intellectual property — the legal basis for much of what she discusses — she never really distinguishes trademarks and patents and copyright, with no exploration of the differences in the capital of (say) Nike, Monsanto, and Microsoft. (And the free software movement was surely worth a mention as part of the "backlash", though Klein seems to have noticed that, with her own web site now making a point of running free software.) And at one point she writes:

"Political solutions - accountable to people and enforceable by their elected representatives - deserve another shot before we throw in the towel and settle for corporate codes, independent monitors and the privatization of our collective rights as citizens."
But she has little to say about political solutions or political processes — nothing, for example, about the significance of campaign finance reform and trade treaties in the United States, or about the politics of labor laws and corruption in the Philippines.

Sometimes, too, Klein seems mesmerized by the very corporate behemoths she is describing, lingering a little unnecessarily on the details of their dominance. She suggests at one point that some ideas can't be co-opted by corporate marketing because they aren't expressed primarily through "style and attitude". One has to wonder if No Logo itself qualifies here, if it isn't more useful to marketing and advertising executives than to activists — but Klein would be the first to admit that she is brandishing a double-edged weapon.

23 July 2001