Jan 12

“Everybody’s equal before the score numbers. Did people cheat? Yes. But without the exam, everybody is cheating.”

“It’s interesting that European history is often taught as a linear narrative where autocracy little by little gives way to further division of power, culminating in the holy democracy where power goes to the people!

But Chinese history went the other way around, showing that there’s no historical imperative showing that power must be dissolved more and more as society progresses. The Qing dynasty was larger, stronger, richer and better governed than any previous one. Yet the Emperor had personal rule of all courtly decisions, and even his brothers had to refer to themselves as “slave” in his presence.”

“The realization of the reality of the permanent bureaucracy is usually met with disapproval. It’s a farce, the subversion of the legal constitutions and every narrative on how power is supposed to work. To which Foseti always cautions: it’s better like this. Having Congressmen actually take decisions would be catastrophic.

I don’t think there’s even a question. Modern political parties aren’t structured to take political decisions: they’re a fundraising organization, designed for the task of extracting money and funnel it to their associates, so they can run campaigns, get elected and repeat the process. That’s what they are for, and they do it quite well.”

“Oh c’mon you blockheads, it’s pretty obvious that they loved each other. A kiss was done for a reason.”

“Dude, no one is saying she didn’t love Lelouch. She just didn’t love him in a romantic sense. “

“I think you’re dense homie.”

“I think you’re one of those guys who think a woman wants to have sex with you just because she talked to you.”

“Funnily, I think that guy who misses when a girl does want to fuck you or who puts themselves down whenever possible.
You gotta take a hint, hint hint.”

“Actually, I don’t miss those. I know when they want to fuck.
But CC is like your aunt or best bud. Just because they love you don’t mean they want to fuck you.”

“I still think that saying “I’ve never met a man like you” to someone and then going to kiss him is beyond aunt or friend-like relationships.”

“To clarify what I said earlier, CC had kissed Lelouch twice already before this point. And she still ends up saying that she does not love him in a romantic way. At that point, her kissing him doesn’t mean romance.”

“I give up, there’s no point in trying to convince you. I bet if they would spontaneously start fucking you’d just say “oh they’re simply relieving each other of back pain like good friends””

“What’s the matter, baby anon had his dreams crushed? It’s time to wake up from the delusions.”

“watch out for that edge m8″

“I try a different question: does Sohinal regret coming? All the men look down, awkwardly. “How can we think about that? We are trapped. If we start to think about regrets…” He lets the sentence trail off. Eventually, another worker breaks the silence by adding: “I miss my country, my family and my land. We can grow food in Bangladesh. Here, nothing grows. Just oil and buildings.”

[…]

I approach a blonde 17-year-old Dutch girl wandering around in hotpants, oblivious to the swarms of men gaping at her. “I love it here!” she says. “The heat, the malls, the beach!” Does it ever bother you that it’s a slave society? She puts her head down, just as Sohinal did. “I try not to see,” she says. Even at 17, she has learned not to look, and not to ask; that, she senses, is a transgression too far.”

“Later that day, against another identikit-corporate backdrop, I meet another dissident – Abdulkhaleq Abdullah, Professor of Political Science at Emirates University. His anger focuses not on political reform, but the erosion of Emirati identity. He is famous among the locals, a rare outspoken conductor for their anger. He says somberly: “There has been a rupture here. This is a totally different city to the one I was born in 50 years ago.”

He looks around at the shiny floors and Western tourists and says: “What we see now didn’t occur in our wildest dreams. We never thought we could be such a success, a trendsetter, a model for other Arab countries. The people of Dubai are mighty proud of their city, and rightly so. And yet…” He shakes his head. “In our hearts, we fear we have built a modern city but we are losing it to all these expats.”

Adbulkhaleq says every Emirati of his generation lives with a “psychological trauma.” Their hearts are divided – “between pride on one side, and fear on the other.” Just after he says this, a smiling waitress approaches, and asks us what we would like to drink. He orders a Coke.”

“I ask the Filipino girl behind the counter if she likes it here. “It’s OK,” she says cautiously. Really? I say. I can’t stand it. She sighs with relief and says: “This is the most terrible place! I hate it! I was here for months before I realised – everything in Dubai is fake. Everything you see. The trees are fake, the workers’ contracts are fake, the islands are fake, the smiles are fake – even the water is fake!” But she is trapped, she says. She got into debt to come here, and she is stuck for three years: an old story now. “I think Dubai is like an oasis. It is an illusion, not real. You think you have seen water in the distance, but you get close and you only get a mouthful of sand.”

As she says this, another customer enters. She forces her face into the broad, empty Dubai smile and says: “And how may I help you tonight, sir?””

“A long read, but as a former expat, I couldn’t stop reading until the end.”

“off topic, but: was there a particular reason why you stopped being an expat? I’m going to be graduating college soon and being an expat is one of the options I’m looking into.”

“I was in Saudi Arabia training their military (I was a civilian expat with my passport locked away from me, unable to leave without permission). My family was with me and my oldest daughter had reached the age that she couldn’t stay there. So the combination of contract changes (less money), the prospect of sending a daughter to boarding school, and life under Islamic law led me to choose to come home.

I have no regrets about having done it, and my daughters found the cultural exchange aspect enriching, not to mention that they summered in Thailand with my wife’s side of the family for a couple of years which was very good for them.

The thing is, there was a difference in how Americans were treated (back then) and how TCNs (third country nationals) were treated. I was very active in martial arts and ventured outside the American expat enclave. I spent time with Koreans, Filipinos, Thais, Pakistanis, Palestinians, and Brits. They were treated far less well and many were subjected to far crappier camp life. As soon as they got paid they went and bought gold in case they had to flee. My money went straight to a US bank which was good back then.

Pretty much what the article described. At the time, I didn’t want to see/think much about it because it was disturbing. I told myself that they had signed up for it, just like me. The thing is, they weren’t just like me and lot much less of a good deal than they thought they were getting. Read the article again. It’s been years ago for me, but none of the Asians would have been there if there were jobs at home that paid anything.

If you are a direct employee of your home country your odds of it being a good experience go up. If it’s a body shop where you end up working for a local, read the article again…”

“You’re thinking too much.”
“Perhaps I am thinking too much. Or maybe we’re thinking too little.”

“Not many people believe in divine retribution. That’s because God is a lazy fellow.

But every once in a while, he does a good job.”

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