Saturday, October 18, 2008

Keeping Up Appearances


In his latest book, whose thesis is explained in shorter form in this article Fareed Zakaria, much to my astonishment, listed a number of examples which in his opinion are symptomatic of America' declining power in the world.

"Look around. The world's tallest building is in Taipei, and will soon be in Dubai. Its largest publicly traded company is in Beijing. Its biggest refinery is being constructed in India. Its largest passenger airplane is built in Europe. The largest investment fund on the planet is in Abu Dhabi; the biggest movie industry is Bollywood, not Hollywood... The largest Ferris wheel is in Singapore. The largest casino is in Macao, which overtook Las Vegas in gambling revenues last year. America no longer dominates even its favorite sport, shopping. The Mall of America in Minnesota once boasted that it was the largest shopping mall in the world. Today it wouldn't make the top ten...."

I cannot begin to figure out how the juvenile phallus envy of "mine is bigger than yours" can be cited, and trotted out as proof of a decline of any kind. It does, however, resemble the thinking in certain countries, let's say, in the Middle East.


Which brings me to my point in this post. Simply Jews followed up today on a case in Dubai, one of those laudable places applauded by Zakaria:

Remember that story about a pair indulging in some rather heavy petting on a beach and Dubai and being arrested for their trouble?

Now it came to the next phase - punishment:

A court in Dubai has sentenced two Britons to three months in prison for having sex on a public beach in the Muslim country. After they complete their sentence, the pair will be deported. They also have to pay a 1,000 dirhams ($367) fine for public indecency.

Lazer-tongued Snoopy, beloved of Athena, goddess of sarcasm and irony, concludes with the following deadpan statement:

Well, Dubai has the biggest mall in the world, the highest tower, the largest indoor snow park. Nothing to do about this story, then.


It appears that Dubayesque justice system takes a very harsh view of sexual indecncy and extends to transgressors the severest judgment permitted by law, right? Well, not so fast, nor summarily, nor indignantly, depending on who does what and why.

Read the linked to story. (H/T: Solomonia)

Alexandre will receive word only in January whether he was infected during the alleged attack. "There is a lot of malfunctioning, but from where I do not know," says a French diplomat in Dubai, explaining the bungling over the AIDS tests. In late October, the French foreign ministry added a warning for travelers about crime in Dubai.


In Stanislaw Lem's novel "Solaris", we are taken to a space ship in which strange things happen. An alien intelligence can invade people's dreams and thoughts, and recreate the physicality, the outside shape, of objects encountered in these dreams. However, what becomes very quickly apparent is the fact that these objects only look like their original ideas, but do not function in the way the original objects did.

A woman appears who looks exactly like the protagonist's dead wife. She wears a dress the woman used to wear. But the buttons on that dress cannot be undone, and the zipper cannot be opened. In order to remove the dress, it has to be cut with scissors. The wife lookalike herself is just a shell, filled with the husband's memories of his dead wife. So she can only be that person in an extremely limited way, she can only think the thoughts that haunt her husband's memories of her.

Since the intelligence can invade any part of the human dream, but cannot distinguish between what is real and good and what is a nightmare and bad, it also creates monsters. The intelligence lacks the capacity to communicate in any meaningful way with the humans whose ideas and dreams it draws upon.

So much, then, for biggest malls, tallest buildings, etc...


At 10:02 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder what Namoi Wolf thinks about this prosecution of public indecency.


At 10:02 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder what Namoi Wolf thinks about this prosecution of public indecency.



Post a Comment

<< Home