Archive for June, 2008

Can’t speak French – and whose fault is it?

30/06/2008

Despite not generally being up on what’s what in the world of popular beat combos, it recently came to my attention that Girls Aloud, a troupe of singing ladies, have released a disc called ‘I can’t speak French’.
The message is quite clear. As they can’t speak French, they are obliged to let the funky music do the talking instead.
This is a sorry state of affairs. Whilst letting funky music do the talking is sometimes a wise choice, we really should ask ourselves –
a) Why the members of Girls Aloud can’t speak French?
b) Why the Gallic gentlemen they are attempting to converse with cannot speak English?
c) Whether there exists an alternative lingua franca that the group could use?
In answer to a –
Given the average age of Girls Aloud, I would expect them to have been obliged to take a language up until the age of 16 whilst they were at school. Sadly, these days, the Labour Government doesn’t oblige people to take a language after the age of 14. I expect a similar song in a few years called ‘I ain’t never learnt no French, or even English for that matter, innit’.
Having established that Girls Aloud would have been obliged to continue with a language up until school leaving age, I feel it is safe to surmise that the language they studied would have been French. Does their lack of ability reflect poor teaching or a lack of application on their behalves? I suspect a combination of the two.
In answer to b –
I find it far more mystifying that the French gentlemen involved are unable to speak to Girls Aloud in English. Whilst the English are famous for their lack of linguistic prowess, our native tongue is the language of business, technology and popular culture. Not being able to speak English is far more of a handicap than not being able to speak French.
I can only assume that these gentlemen were either let down by their own school system, or were simply unable to understand Girls Aloud’s accents. I believe they hail from Liverpool.
Given Girls Aloud’s general appearance, it is odd that apparently no effort was made at all to speak at least some English. Surely they could have dredged up a sonnet or two from the depths of their memories in order to woo these fine British ladies. Or maybe they simply weren’t interested and Cheryl Tweedy and team were not only misunderstanding spoken language, but body language as well.
In answer to c –
It is possible the Girls Aloud chose classics over French and would have been able to converse in Latin or Ancient Greek, given the opportunity. I find this scenario highly unlikely however.
It seems that these complex questions may never be fully answered, but such is life.
Whilst we ponder further, here are Girls Aloud not speaking French.

Advertisements

Old cars banned

21/06/2008

The UAE will no longer allow cars over 20 years old on the roads, with cars over 15 being disallowed shortly, according to this article.
The article says that classic cars will still be allowed, providing they meet safety and pollution standards. I wonder how the process of deeming a car ‘classic’ will work. One man’s classic is another man’s junk.
I can understand the desire to want to reduce pollution and ensure safety standards are met, but I need to educate myself to understand how those things are related simply to the age of a car. If a car meets the necessary standards, I would have thought its age would be irrelevant.
I wonder too how this will affect car prices. My Jeep is 7 years old and definitely has another few good years ahead of it. If I can’t re-register it when it’s 15 years old it’ll have to be sold – doubtless at way below its true market price – to a dealer who’ll ship it off somewhere where it can still be used. Equally, if I were to sell it now, I’d expect the price to be less than it would have been prior to this announcement. Any buyer knows that the car’s lifetime has been severely curtailed.
It’ll be interesting to see how this new initiative proceeds.

Old cars banned

21/06/2008

The UAE will no longer allow cars over 20 years old on the roads, with cars over 15 being disallowed shortly, according to this article.
The article says that classic cars will still be allowed, providing they meet safety and pollution standards. I wonder how the process of deeming a car ‘classic’ will work. One man’s classic is another man’s junk.
I can understand the desire to want to reduce pollution and ensure safety standards are met, but I need to educate myself to understand how those things are related simply to the age of a car. If a car meets the necessary standards, I would have thought its age would be irrelevant.
I wonder too how this will affect car prices. My Jeep is 7 years old and definitely has another few good years ahead of it. If I can’t re-register it when it’s 15 years old it’ll have to be sold – doubtless at way below its true market price – to a dealer who’ll ship it off somewhere where it can still be used. Equally, if I were to sell it now, I’d expect the price to be less than it would have been prior to this announcement. Any buyer knows that the car’s lifetime has been severely curtailed.
It’ll be interesting to see how this new initiative proceeds.

Some Pakistan snaps

19/06/2008

Not the best quality – the best my mobile phone could manage during my last two trips.
The edge of the ‘Red Mosque’ – now no longer red. This was the scene of some major troubles earlier this year. The building next to one of our customer’s datacentres was torched and the datacentre itself went down when power was cut to the area. The datacentre’s been moved…

Eagles, or at leat that’s what I think they were, circle the roof of the partner’s offices. They fly right up to the building and you get to see them up close.

Kabul number plate, Russian made, now living in Islamabad. How old? 40 years? 20 years? It was built in 2002…

This makes me think of rows of young children having pedicures and sipping on wheatgrass juice. Spotted in Karachi airport.

Coals to Newcastle

19/06/2008

Spotted in Spinneys.

Next up, ice to be exported from Dubai to Alaska in exchange for camels.

Snapped selection

19/06/2008

A selection of mobile phone snaps…

His critics speak. Spotted in the rubbish disposal area of our building.

Spotted in Romania, a vending machine for chips. Doubtless very popular with drunks around 2am onwards. But is it as fun having a fight around one of these, as opposed to in the chip shop itself?

Chav bed. Spotted in Dubai.

Mac love in begins

19/06/2008

Thanks to everyone who chipped in with tips on how to get to grips with my Mac.
I’m now starting to enjoy using it, although I still miss one button for page up and down and a proper delete key! Decent suspend and resume, as well as ease of use when in cramped conditions with the laptop on my knee are particularly welcome.
NeoOffice is working fine and I’m getting used to some of the hot keys. The heat issue doesn’t seem to be much of an issue any more, even in Islamabad airport, where the AC was really struggling. Or maybe I was just boling hot myself anyway.
There are a couple of small things to work out, which I’m sure I’ll manage by asking Mr Google (Google Desktop not indexing Thunderbird mails for example).
I’m sure the transition would have been easier if I hadn’t been travelling that week and stuck with generally poor internet connections. It was still pretty painful though – Apple should really include a printed sheet with some common ‘switching’ tips.
Let’s see how things progress. I’m particularly interested to see if it’s as reliable as my old Tosh over the long term.
So far I have resisted the temptation to clean the thing down with wet wipes or encapsulate it in soft furnishings, like other colleagues whose names I will not mention.

Classic war symbols – the AK47 and…

18/06/2008

…the Toyota Land Cruiser pickup?
See the picture at the top of this

The only two languages anyone needs to speak

17/06/2008

I enjoyed the comment made by the MD of one of our partners today.
‘There are only two languages anyone needs to speak.’
‘Which are they?’
‘Arabic and Pashto‘.
‘Why’s that?’
‘They speak Arabic in heaven and Pashto in hell – you’re going to end up in one of those places so you’d better prepare!’

UAE terror threat raised

16/06/2008

I was surprised to read this morning that the Foreign Office has raised its terror alert leve for the UAE – I wonder what’s up…
One of the things I love about Dubai is the total lack of security anywhere. You just breeze in and breeze out of anywhere. Quite different from the hotel I’m in in Islamabad today where each floor has an armed guard sitting by the lift.