Altercation policemen in Kuwait

I had an altercation with a policeman today. He touched my head in a mock-smack, and I almost put him in a wrist-lock. In the end, maybe it’s good that I didn’t; then again, maybe I really just missed my chance.

special police. there's ego for you.

I had just finished fueling my car and I was moving fast because in a huge hurry; overslept my alarm this morning. I opened my door to get into my car and a car from behind –who was initially not close, trying to pass through in between the parked cars getting fuel– comes to a stop but then lays down on his horn. Typical large American car w/ associated loud horn. Already in a state of some irritability because of my lateness, I did not close my door, but instead stepped into my car and started it first. While not a wholly time-consuming affair, this was obviously a retaliatory irritant. But what then happened can only happen in the “third world.”
While I was about to launch my car, the driver of the other vehicle floored his, almost hitting mine. When I hit my brakes, he did the same, then floored it again when I tried to proceed. This was all done in a lovely “I AM ABOUT TO HIT YOU IF YOU DON’T STOP AND HAVE A PROPER ALTERCATION WITH ME!” attitude. The kicker was, when one of these times I realized the two men in the other car were policemen (they were driving a non-duty vehicle)!! Eventually, as I am coming up to the single lane exit for the gas station (where I would still have to pay the attendant anyway), I decided to stop without further endangering my Mercedes against his Mercury. Surely, the passenger runs over to my window even before I come to a stop, and soon they are both shouting at me in Arabic. Regardless of my understanding of what they were saying (to the effect of “are you crazy? and “what are you doing?” etc.) I decided it was entirely time for some proper louder cursing in English, in proper Aggravated American kind of way. I KNOW this threw them off because they probably thought I was going to be some Little Indian Kid just about to take whatever they had to dish. At one point one of them reached inside the car and tried to hit my head while saying “are you crazy;” while refraining myself from a proper joint-lock on his wrist, I batted his hand aside and I think he understood my screaming “I swear to god if you touch me one more time I’m’a fuck you up” because he stepped back after that.
The amazing part: not one, but two Kuwaitis– one really nicely dressed gentleman in a dishdash, and one in a sweatsuit actually stepped up and basically told the policemen to get off me! I have to say, I really did not expect–given that they probably also figured I was just some L.I.K– that they would come up to argue on my behalf. So somewhere in there, the yelling and screaming stopped, I’m not sure from my side or theirs first.
It was funny, I never let myself get so outwardly angry before– I think this was an appropriate time. It almost felt like I was hearing myself yelling from outside of myself! I’m just upset that I did not write down these two hoodlums names so I could pass it on to their superiors! That’s the downside of anger, I suppose– you loose some rationality. Next time, I’m going to try a cooler stepping out slowly and deliberately, asking them to shut up, and getting their names and their superiors’ names thing. I’ll keep you updated.  🙂

Anyway, just had to share the crazyness. Try to refrain from fighting with your local policemen, but remember that sometimes you might need to. Just make sure you’re not outnumbered.



For Sale: Tron Legacy Lightcycle

Whether or not you have seen the movie (I haven’t), if you have seen the trailers or even just the images of the thing,  the motor-err-lightcycles look really fantastic! While my wife and I were wondering about how to make our own motorcycle gear glow(more on that later), I realized today that one can in fact buy this amazing looking machine:

Tron Legacy lightcycle by Parker Brothers Choppers

The creators are Parker Brothers Choppers, whose motto is “If you dream it…we can build it.” Given that these are also the people that also made the Batpod replica, Tron might be a logical next step. But really, the whole 8′ long almost 2′ wide machine with hubless wheels leaves the batpod way in the dust as far as I’m concerned. And that’s before it lights up! Not bad at all for 55 or 35 grand, whatever it is– the 5 or 10 people to own one will have a lot of questions and a lot of photos taken!
Here is a video of this thing in action.
And here are a bunch of details pulled from Cars Blog and Gizmag.

[nggallery id=1]

Kuwait Events: Solar Eclipse January 4, 2011

It’s really strange to be writing anything about anything happening in 2011, let alone to think that this will be a daily part of the date starting next week!

On the good side, nothing like a stellar event to make one think about how little the turning of a year into another really matters. As reported in the Kuwait Times:

“Astronomer and historian, Adel Al-Sadoon predicts that the eclipse will begin around 10:45 am and end at around 1:34 pm.
The center of the eclipse will occur at 12:09 pm where the people see the maximum coverage of the Sun by the Moon,” said Al-Sadoon. ‘At this time, 31 percent of the Sun will be covered.’ Al-Sadoon says this will be the first of six solar and lunar eclipses to be seen world-wide in 2011. ‘There will be four solar eclipses and two lunar eclipses,’ said Al-Sadoon.
‘In Kuwait, we will witness the partial solar eclipse on Jan 4 and two partial lunar eclipses on June 5 and Dec 10.'”

Solar Eclipse (15-1-2010 12-58PM)

Creative Commons License photo credit: aviatorjk

I wish I had my solar-eclipse glasses from the total solar eclipse from Maryland Science Center a few years ago! But until I find something nifty like that, I’m more likely to go out to the desert and fill a bowl of water to look into.
Make sure you’re safe when you’re watching this– regular sunglasses, or tinted windows etc. are NOT enough to block the sun’s UVs at this kind of time. You need to have special eclipse-glasses or welder’s glasses with a #14 filter, or the simplest– just fill a bowl with water and look into it.


Corruption 2010

As the year draws to a close, many lists will be made regarding bests and worst and how we have/not improved.
Here’s something I was thinking about while I was reading an article that mentioned how corrupt Iraq is– I wonder which way corruption is trending in more of the world? Unfortunately, I imagine more countries on the graphic below will be going from green towards red! Also, not surprisingly, our two major warzones Iraq and Afghanistan are two out of the top four most corrupt. This graphic is taken from Transparency International’s CPI (Corruption Perception Index) for 2010. The document contains the full listing and breakdown by continent and a map showing the distribution of corrupt countries.

[December 19, 2010]: I was looking through Foreign Policy magazine today and they had some revelations about corruption that came out of the Wikileaks leaked documents. Check out some of the astounding offenders.

3G to Wifi: Wataniya Wnet wireless internet in Kuwait

This was supposed to be awesome. The promise of “up to 7.2Mb/s” wherever I had 3G signal (the coverage map looks really good in Kuwait) was really very exciting.  When I came home and saw the gorgeous looking little router I was further excited– I hadn’t even known routers could be this small–it is a bit smaller than an iPhone, made by a company called Huawei. It’s the model called E583C, featured here.

Wataniya Wnet Huawei "pocket" router with size 8 ring

Unfortunately, though, my initial service was terrible. My upload speeds didn’t even reach 0.1Mb/s and my downloads were at around 1.5 on a good day!  To put it in perspective, that means youtube videos take 15 mins. to load and even telephone calls are impossible, let alone video!
Recently, though, it seems Wataniya must have put up a tower somewhere nearby as my speeds have increased to about .75 and 3.5 Mb/s for up and downloads respectively (translation: “reasonably fast”). Now I can finally watch most youtube videos almost-instantly, and much more importantly videochat works!

What has been particularly enjoyable about 3G-wifi, though, has been it’s portability (obviously, I know). I’ve got a Pioneer headunit with an auxiliary input in the Benz, so we can hook up our laptop to that and have people’s voices come through the car’s speakers while we speak into the computer’s mic!  The laptop/router combo then becomes like a giant Bluetooth set and we can drive around Kuwait and speak to people back home as it were a simple mobile call! Totally fun.

I suppose like all technology, since this is still new there is going to be some exponential speed/size growth/decrease so I’ll be patient for now. It seems that Zain (competing provider) has started advertising some really cheap rates lately, so I’m expecting to see some price-drops soon too. But at this point, I’d rather just have a service increase–thanks, Wataniya.

Hope to talk to some of you soon; hit me up on FB for contact details.

More radar!

According to the Interior Ministry, Kuwait has deployed new mobile radar systems to keep catch speeding motorists.

Why bother with real prevention when we can play games?

While this sort of thing may seem commonplace to many in the West, in Kuwait so far there have generally only been speed cameras on the side of the roads. The roads have signs that say something to the effect of “this area monitored by speed camera” and the cameras themselves are very large obvious items standing on their own poles. This makes for actually an unnecessarily dangerous situation where people anywhere between 90 and 120 mph will suddenly slam on their brakes to come down to the indicated 120kmph or 75mph.

Now, there is this new radar. This is ridiculous for multiple reasons.
One thing is, the point of radar/ speed cameras is not to further the safety or drivers. It is to increase revenue. and Kuwait doesn’t really NEED the revenue; it would have been far better if they would actually police for things like changing lanes without signaling, passing on the emergency lanes, “forcing*” vehicles out of ones way etc. Speeding itself is not the issue, it’s HOW it’s done and WHEN that creates terrific accidents in this country! The obvious example of Germany is ever-present: make it harder to get  a driver’s license–specifically in terms of more training/ harder tests etc., and make safety a priority in the civic mindset, and life would be very different. So it would have been much more reassuring to motorists if someone actually cared about improving road safety.
The other misleading part of this radar-gunning is that the police in Kuwait, just like many people in Kuwait, are very racist. Like most ingrained racism, they will not acknowledge themselves to be anything other than just, righteous individuals; they will also acknowledge that certain people, for example subcontinentals (“Indians”), are just generally criminals. Of course, they will say, the people who are Kuwaiti get special treatment–it’s their country! All of this together means that the people that are most likely to be speeding and driving recklessly(Kuwaitis in newer vehicles) are least likely to get tickets while Cab-drivers and other drivers of various derelict vehicles (poor people) will be paying large sums of money for going 5 or 10 kmph (3 to 6 mph) over the speed limit!
For everyone’s sake, I’m hoping at least the police cruisers that will do this kind of thing have some markings beforehand– at least then we can all slam on our brakes unsafely and avoid the hassle!

everyone loves them

*Note on “forcing”–this happens in two ways in Kuwait: A. Someone will come up to your rear bumper going 70+mph and be within inches, remaining there until you move over to let them pass. B. Someone will come up behind you, then move next to you in your lane while you are still there and expect you to move over–generally because their car is larger. As a variation, they may also do the more dangerous coming up next to you in the emergency lane and swerving hard into your lane leaving it up to you to take a hit or let him/her into your space.