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Expat wanderer

Expose Violators to Protect Consumers?

This article is from the Qatar Peninsula but it applies equally in Kuwait, in Seattle, in Pensacola . . . when a restaurant violates a health code, shouldn’t those results be made public? They are serving the public, they take our money, shouldn’t we know the state of hygiene and the safe-practices they observe – or don’t observe?

We still remember a time in Monterey, California when we walked into one of the most popular Chinese restaurants in town and found a table, without having to wait. It was astonishing. There were few customers that night. The next day in the paper we found it had been closed for health-code violations. We took comfort in knowing that when it re-opened, it had to pass a re-check, and it was probably the cleanest it had ever been, or would be for a time to come. 🙂

Restaurateurs want names of eateries violating rules to be made public
Web posted at: 9/27/2009 23:45:38
Source ::: THE PENINSULA
DOHA: The identity of the eateries punished for flouting health and safety rules should be disclosed by the authorities concerned, feel a number of restaurateurs in the city.

Not disclosing the name of an erring eating outlet is unadvisable since it can make all the eateries of a locality suspect in the eyes of patrons, say restaurateurs.

This happens especially as the authorities do mention the area an erring eatery is located in but fight shy of publishing its name in local newspapers.

Al Sharq Arabic newspaper in its weekly online survey took up this issue this time and an overwhelming 94 percent of the respondents said they were in favor of disclosing the identity of an erring eateries.

Only five percent said they did not back the idea, while one percent said they were undecided.

September 27, 2009 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Communication, Community, Doha, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Hygiene, Interconnected, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Qatar, Values | 6 Comments

Kuwait Censors ‘Terror’ Blogs, Websites

Teeny Teeny Tiny Article in today’s Gulf Times:

Kuwait censors ‘terror’blogs, websites: report

Kuwait has blocked a number of Internet blogs and websites with links to “terror” cells and groups, a top official said in comments published yesterday. “The ministry has blocked blogs … used by some to communicate with terror cells and extremist groups,” communications ministry undersecretary Abdulmohsen al-Mazeedi told Kuwait’s An-Nahar newspaper. He said the ministry had also blocked sites deemed offensive to God and the emir and which undermined what he called national unity, in addition to sites promoting pornography. Mazeedi said the ministry was applying the law and “aims to preserve Islamic values.”

More information, from Al Watan:

Kuwait blocks terrorـlinked Web sites
KUWAIT: Kuwait has blocked a number of Internet blogs and Web sites with links to “terror” cells and groups, a top official said in comments published on Friday.

“The ministry has blocked blogs …used by some to communicate with terror cells and extremist groups,”Communications Ministry undersecretary Abdulmohsen AlـMazeedi told Kuwait”s AnـNahar newspaper.

He said the ministry has also blocked “sites deemed offensive to Almighty God and to His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah AlـAhmad AlـSabah and which undermined national unity,” in addition to sites promoting pornography. Mazeedi said the ministry was applying the law and “aims to preserve Islamic values.” However before blocking any site, the ministry takes permission from the Public Prosecution.
A number of MPs have described the ministry”s monitoring of blogs as a breach of the Constitution and threatened to question the communications minister in Parliament.

Last year, the Public Prosecution questioned Mohammed Abdulqader AlـJassem for writing an article on his Web site that was deemed offensive to the country”s crown prince.

In 2007, blogger and journalist Bashar AlـSayegh was detained for two days after comments deemed offensive to the Gulf state”s ruler were posted on his Web site.

The man, who posted the comments, a Kuwaiti citizen, was jailed for two years.ـAFP

Last updated on Saturday 26/9/2009

September 26, 2009 Posted by | Blogging, Bureaucracy, Character, Community, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Social Issues | 3 Comments

BitJockeys Suggestions: Fishermen and Skyline

OK, I made it more panorama by cropping out the excess sky, and I bumped up the saturation a little, and that is about all I can do, other than sepia, which doesn’t look right at all, and some other general effects that don’t enhance.

00BigJockey'sFishermen

BTW, do you notice that the Sheraton – that pyramid shape at about 2/3 way across skyline – has just disappeared? It used to be the most striking building on the skyline and now, it disappears.

September 26, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Blogging, Photos | Leave a comment

Slow Saturday; Yousef’s Take in Fisherman Skyline Photo

I LOVE what Yousef did. It’s a slow Saturday, nothing much going on. If you want a crack at this photo, take it. Play with it. Send it back to me, show us what you’ve done. Keep it clean. 🙂

Yousef:
00fishermenbandarskyline_copy

is that a WOW or what?

So . . . I don’t have all these tools. Go for it. The shot is in the Eid morning photos you will find here so have some fun with it.

September 26, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Blogging, Photos, Public Art | Leave a comment

Mathai: B&W

00EidDohaBW

i dunno, Mathai.

September 25, 2009 Posted by | Blogging, Doha, Photos | 4 Comments

Wikipedia Today

I found this story in Time Magazine where you can read the rest of the story by clicking on the blue type. Wikipedia has been a great source of information for me, and I am fascinated to know Wikipedia’s growth is slowing – and why . .

Is Wikipedia a Victim of Its Own Success?
By FARHAD MANJOO

Looking back, it was naive to expect Wikipedia’s joyride to last forever. Since its inception in 2001, the user-written online encyclopedia has expanded just as everything else online has: exponentially. Up until about two years ago, Wikipedians were adding, on average, some 2,200 new articles to the project every day. The English version hit the 2 million — article mark in September 2007 and then the 3 million mark in August 2009 — surpassing the 600-year-old Chinese Yongle Encyclopedia as the largest collection of general knowledge ever compiled (well, at least according to Wikipedia’s entry on itself).

But early in 2007, something strange happened: Wikipedia’s growth line flattened. People suddenly became reluctant to create new articles or fix errors or add their kernels of wisdom to existing pages. “When we first noticed it, we thought it was a blip,” says Ed Chi, a computer scientist at California’s Palo Alto Research Center whose lab has studied Wikipedia extensively. But Wikipedia peaked in March 2007 at about 820,000 contributors; the site hasn’t seen as many editors since. “By the middle of 2009, we realized that this was a real phenomenon,” says Chi. “It’s no longer growing exponentially. Something very different is happening now.”

What stunted Wikipedia’s growth? And what does the slump tell us about the long-term viability of such strange and invaluable online experiments? Perhaps that the Web has limits after all, particularly when it comes to the phenomenon known as crowdsourcing. Wikipedians — the volunteers who run the site, especially the approximately 1,000 editors who wield the most power over what you see — have been in a self-reflective mood. Not only is Wikipedia slowing, but also new stats suggest that hard-core participants are a pretty homogeneous set — the opposite of the ecumenical wiki ideal. Women, for instance, make up only 13% of contributors. The project’s annual conference in Buenos Aires this summer bustled with discussions about the numbers and how the movement can attract a wider class of participants.

At the same time, volunteers have been trying to improve Wikipedia’s trustworthiness, which has been sullied by a few defamatory hoaxes — most notably, one involving the journalist John Seigenthaler, whose Wikipedia entry falsely stated that he’d been a suspect in the John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy assassinations. They recently instituted a major change, imposing a layer of editorial control on entries about living people. In the past, only articles on high-profile subjects like Barack Obama were protected from anonymous revisions. Under the new plan, people can freely alter Wikipedia articles on, say, their local officials or company head — but those changes will become live only once they’ve been vetted by a Wikipedia administrator. “Few articles on Wikipedia are more important than those that are about people who are actually walking the earth,” says Jay Walsh, a spokesman for the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that oversees the encyclopedia. “What we want to do is find ways to be more fair, accurate, and to do better — to be nicer — to those people.”

Yet that gets to Wikipedia’s central dilemma. Chi’s research suggests that the encyclopedia thrives on chaos — that the more freewheeling it is, the better it can attract committed volunteers who keep adding to its corpus. But over the years, as Wikipedia has added layers of control to bolster accuracy and fairness, it has developed a kind of bureaucracy. “It may be that the bureaucracy is inevitable when a project like this becomes sufficiently important,” Chi says. But who wants to participate in a project lousy with bureaucrats?

There is a benign explanation for Wikipedia’s slackening pace: the site has simply hit the natural limit of knowledge expansion. In its early days, it was easy to add stuff. But once others had entered historical sketches of every American city, taxonomies of all the world’s species, bios of every character on The Sopranos and essentially everything else — well, what more could they expect you to add? So the only stuff left is esoteric, and it attracts fewer participants because the only editing jobs left are “janitorial” — making sure that articles are well formatted and readable.

Read the rest of the article Here

September 25, 2009 Posted by | Experiment, Interconnected, News, Technical Issue | 2 Comments

Amateur Finds Treasure Trove In English Field

I love stories like this one, which I found on National Public Radio where you can read more on this fabulous story. I remember hearing once of a person who thought everything had already been dug-up. . . . wrong! so wrong! There are so many things out there, just waiting to be discovered!

September 24, 2009

treasure

A member of a British metal detecting club is being credited with finding the biggest cache of Anglo-Saxon relics ever discovered, experts in England revealed Thursday.

Terry Herbert, 55, stumbled upon more than 1,345 gold and silver artifacts as he walked across a freshly plowed field with his metal detector in Staffordshire in early July. Experts said the number of items could rise to 1,500 when more relics are extracted from 56 mounds of dirt that were also removed from the site.

Herbert told the British newspaper The Independent that finding the historic artifacts was more fun than winning the lottery.

“My mates at the [metal detecting] club always say if there is a gold coin in a field, I will be the one to find it. I dread to think what they’ll say when they hear about this,” he said.

Referred to as the “Staffordshire Hoard,” the find consists mostly of items used in warfare, including 84 pommel caps and 71 sword hilt collars removed from swords and daggers, according to the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery. No sword or dagger blades were found. One expert said the treasures appear to have been a collection of war trophies.

At least two Christian crosses and parts of a helmet were also discovered. The gold items weighed about 11 pounds, and many were engraved with Bible verses or decorated with garnet stones.

Michelle Brown, a professor of medieval manuscript studies, said the style of lettering on many of the relics dates back to the 7th or 8th century, and they are likely to be valued in millions of dollars.

September 25, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cultural, Local Lore, News | 4 Comments

Future Airline Seating Plan

When I first saw this, I was horrified. As I read the article on AOL News and discovered that it is for short-length commuter planes, it made sense. No overhead bins, seating like on the metro or a bus . . . is this the wave of the future?

I don’t see any seat belts – I am guessing that seat belts would be a must – and I can’t imagine sitting for an hour in the middle, with no seat back.

Can the seating arrangement in an airplane lead to more affordable fares? Apparently, the answer is yes. A new aircraft seating design is being developed in the UK for just that reason.

new-design-plane-450hn-092209

According to a September 22 report by the Telegraph, the new arrangement has been developed specifically for budget airlines offering short flights. The article states that the design “could lead to a 50 per cent increase in the number of passengers on board with a saving of up to a third per seat,” according to the UK-based developer, Design Q.

The design features flip-up benches and face-to-face seating that call to mind the inside of a train car.
Design Q said that the configuration is “loosely based on the way some soldiers travel to battle zones,” according to the Telegraph. In the article, the company also pointed out the design is aimed for short-term flights where passengers are not as concerned about comfort.

The director of Design Q, Howard Guy, told the Telegraph that one advantage of the design is that passengers will be able to exit quickly once the plane lands. Furthermore, the exclusion of bulky seats makes the plane lighter and as a result more fuel efficient.

On September 22, The Daily Express quoted Guy as saying, “[i]t is like taking the idea of traditional transport like a train or bus and asking: ‘Why can’t we do this on a plane?'”

The article also notes that the planes would be able to carry up to 10 per cent more passengers, so long as safety approval is granted.

September 24, 2009 Posted by | Customer Service, Financial Issues, Health Issues, Living Conditions, News, Safety, Travel | 10 Comments

Greeting Your Enemies With a Feast (Elisha)

I love it when I come across a good story I haven’t heard before in my daily readings in The Lectionary and this one is a doozy. I didn’t hear a lot of bible stories about Elisha as I was growing up (Elisha followed Elijah) but this reading includes some amazing stories, including one of the first instances of turning away an enemy with a feast.

2 Kings 6:1-23

6Now the company of prophets* said to Elisha, ‘As you see, the place where we live under your charge is too small for us. 2Let us go to the Jordan, and let us collect logs there, one for each of us, and build a place there for us to live.’ He answered, ‘Do so.’ 3Then one of them said, ‘Please come with your servants.’ And he answered, ‘I will.’ 4So he went with them. When they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. 5But as one was felling a log, his axehead fell into the water; he cried out, ‘Alas, master! It was borrowed.’ 6Then the man of God said, ‘Where did it fall?’ When he showed him the place, he cut off a stick, and threw it in there, and made the iron float. 7He said, ‘Pick it up.’ So he reached out his hand and took it.

8 Once when the king of Aram was at war with Israel, he took counsel with his officers. He said, ‘At such and such a place shall be my camp.’ 9But the man of God sent word to the king of Israel, ‘Take care not to pass this place, because the Arameans are going down there.’ 10The king of Israel sent word to the place of which the man of God spoke. More than once or twice he warned such a place* so that it was on the alert.

11 The mind of the king of Aram was greatly perturbed because of this; he called his officers and said to them, ‘Now tell me who among us sides with the king of Israel?’ 12Then one of his officers said, ‘No one, my lord king. It is Elisha, the prophet in Israel, who tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedchamber.’ 13He said, ‘Go and find where he is; I will send and seize him.’ He was told, ‘He is in Dothan.’ 14So he sent horses and chariots there and a great army; they came by night, and surrounded the city.

15 When an attendant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. His servant said, ‘Alas, master! What shall we do?’ 16He replied, ‘Do not be afraid, for there are more with us than there are with them.’ 17Then Elisha prayed: ‘O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.’ So the Lord opened the eyes of the servant, and he saw; the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18When the Arameans* came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, and said, ‘Strike this people, please, with blindness.’ So he struck them with blindness as Elisha had asked. 19Elisha said to them, ‘This is not the way, and this is not the city; follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.’ And he led them to Samaria.

20 As soon as they entered Samaria, Elisha said, ‘O Lord, open the eyes of these men so that they may see.’ The Lord opened their eyes, and they saw that they were inside Samaria. 21When the king of Israel saw them he said to Elisha, ‘Father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?’ 22He answered, ‘No! Did you capture with your sword and your bow those whom you want to kill? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink; and let them go to their master.’ 23So he prepared for them a great feast; after they ate and drank, he sent them on their way, and they went to their master. And the Arameans no longer came raiding into the land of Israel.

September 23, 2009 Posted by | Character, Civility, Community, Counter-terrorism, Random Musings, Relationships, Spiritual | 2 Comments

Smoking Ban Quickly Makes a Difference

In some heartening news from BBC Health News studies are showing that the smoking ban is improving heart health for smokers – and for non-smokers who were once exposed to second-hand smoke. The measurable difference has manifested much more quickly than anyone predicted.

Smoking bans ‘cut heart attacks’

Passive smoke raises heart risk
Bans on smoking in public places have had a bigger impact on preventing heart attacks than ever expected, data shows.

Smoking bans cut the number of heart attacks in Europe and North America by up to a third, two studies report.

This “heart gain” is far greater than both originally anticipated and the 10% figure recently quoted by England’s Department of Health.

The studies appear in two leading journals – Circulation and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Heart attacks in the UK alone affect an estimated 275,000 people and kill 146,000 each year.

Big impact
Earlier this month it was announced that heart attack rates fell by about 10% in England in the year after the ban on smoking in public places was introduced in July 2007 – which is more than originally anticipated.

But the latest work, based on the results of numerous different studies collectively involving millions of people, indicated that smoking bans have reduced heart attack rates by as much as 26% per year.

If you are a smoker, the single biggest thing you can do to avoid a heart attack is to give up, which could also protect the heart health of friends and family
Ellen Mason of the British Heart Foundation

Second-hand smoke is thought to increase the chances of a heart attack by making the blood more prone to clotting, reducing levels of beneficial “good” cholesterol, and raising the risk of dangerous heart rhythms.

Dr James Lightwood, of the University of California at San Francisco, led the Circulation study that pooled together 13 separate analyses.

His team found that heart attack rates across Europe and North America started to drop immediately following implementation of anti-smoking laws, reaching 17% after one year, then continuing to decline over time, with a 36% drop three years after enacting the restrictions.

Dr Lightwood said: “While we obviously won’t bring heart attack rates to zero, these findings give us evidence that in the short-to-medium-term, smoking bans will prevent a lot of heart attacks.

“This study adds to the already strong evidence that second-hand smoke causes heart attacks, and that passing 100% smoke-free laws in all workplaces and public places is something we can do to protect the public.”

Ellen Mason, of the British Heart Foundation, said: “These studies add to the growing evidence that a ban on smoking in public places seems to have a positive impact on heart attack rates, which is clearly good news for our nation’s heart health.

“The statistics also show how quickly the benefits can be felt after a smoking ban is implemented and indicate how dangerous second-hand smoke can be to the heart.

“If you are a smoker, the single biggest thing you can do to avoid a heart attack is to give up, which could also protect the heart health of friends and family.”

Latest figures show at least 70,000 lives have been saved by NHS Stop Smoking Services in the 10 years since they were established in England.

September 22, 2009 Posted by | Aging, Civility, Health Issues, Living Conditions, News | 4 Comments