Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A man must have a code

So there you are, sitting in front of your laptop and watching from another continent as the events unfold in Baltimore. The incident is new, the story all too familiar – another black man dead at the hands of the police. After more than a week, the Baltimore PD either do not know or do not care to say how Freddie Gray's spine got 80 percent severed at the neck and his larynx nearly crushed while in police custody.

You're seeing a trend, right? Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, John Crawford – and those are just the cases we know of. As someone who values social justice and equality, you feel like you have to speak up, what with silence implying consent and all. At the same time, though, you've never been to Baltimore and everything you know about the city comes from "The Wire", so it's not as though you have anything compelling or insightful to add. The last thing you want to do is be yet another privileged white person lecturing the oppressed on appropriate ways to express their displeasure with the status quo. What to do?

One idea would be to listen to those who know what's going on, both in terms of the city and its racial politics. For example, Ta-Nehisi Coates, a former Baltimore resident and one of America's leading voices on race. Coates is rightly dubious about people in positions of power and privilege calling for non-violence after the bell has rung.
When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is "correct" or "wise," any more than a forest fire can be "correct" or "wise." Wisdom isn't the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the rioters themselves.
Meanwhile, there are plenty more examples of what not to do.

Monday, April 20, 2015

A very curious cheeseburger indeed

Whenever I talk to people back home about the UAE, one factoid that almost unfailingly gets a look of surprise is that foreigners vastly outnumber the locals there. It's true -- Emiratis only make up a little more than 10 percent of the population of their own country. Maybe it's the thought of being a minority in your home country that raises people's eyebrows more than anything about the UAE, but I could be wrong.

So who makes up the other 90 percent? It's not easy to say as the UAE doesn't publish that data, but the folks over at bqdoha have taken a pretty good stab at it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ever so close

As mentioned earlier on this very blog, Asia's long road to the 2018 World Cup in Russia is only a few weeks away from kicking off. The draw for the second round of World Cup/Asian Cup qualifying was Tuesday, and matches start in mid-June.

How close did I come to nailing one of the groups? Let's just say that if this was a Powerball drawing, I would've easily made back my investment.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Drawing out the suspense

Tuesday is something of a big day. For starters, I am going to cross another country off my "places I really want to go" list. Second, it's the day of the Podcast Awards, where several of my favorite people on the Internets are up for awards they richly deserve.

And if that wasn't enough, it's also the day of the draw for the second round of Asia's World Cup qualifying tournament. As the Asian Football Confederation is merging World Cup and Asian Cup qualifying this time around, these matches take on double the importance. In a remarkable bit of timing, my plane should be taking off just as balls start leaving their pots in Kuala Lumpur.

Qualifying started with the 12 lowest-ranked teams in Asia facing off in a playoff round. The biggest story coming out of that round was Bhutan, which had only three wins in its history going into qualifying and was ranked 209th out of 209 in the world, beat Sri Lanka twice to advance. This, as you can imagine, created quite a stir, and not just because Bhutan has fewer people in it than Omaha.

Now, though, things really get interesting.