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So I’ve gone ahead and started my own site. You can find it here. I won’t be updating this blog anymore so if you want to keep following my blog posts – this is the place to be.

Let me know what you think!

It seems that everything I post these days is pissy. I’ve been irritable and rather than take it out on the people around me, I’m taking it out on my blog. (I apologise to the 11 readers I have)

The New York Times is a respectable, institutional newspaper.  So I was pretty surprised when I logged on this morning to find that more than half the page was taken up by coverage of the Olympics, while a “full-scale war” in Georgia and news of Sudan exporting all its food while people in Darfur starve to death, was pushed to the side.

So I’m a bit late commenting on the whole Where the hell is Matt? phenomenon but I still wanted to get my 2 cents in about this:

Stride Gum sponsored a 6 month trip around the wall for Matt, a 31 year old deadbeat (his words not mine) to dance like an idiot in 39 countries. (Is it just me – or is it incredibly sad that he calls himself a deadbeat like it’s something to be proud of, or like its worth the cheap laugh it elicits?)

A year later, they paid for Matt to do it all over again, the only difference being that this time, people from each country joined in the idiocy. Now I will admit the video brought a smile to my face – especially the part where he’s surrounded by a dozen kids in Madagascar, imitating his self-admitted moronic moves.

But then I’m left wondering what’s the point? Why pay for some pasty white guy to go gallivanting around the world, dancing like an idiot, when Stride could have used that money to say, oh I don’t know, buy shoes for the barefoot kids in Madagascar. Or maybe sponsored their education? Saw to it that they had roofs over their heads.

Maybe I’m taking this too seriously, but as someone who lives in a country where almost 50% of the populations lives on under $2 a day – I find things like this incredibly insulting.

I’m not a Paris Hilton fan. I was one of those people who was relieved when her character was killed off in House of Wax. Yes I watched it, much to my own personal horror. But for once, I actually have an ounce of respect for Paris Hilton. And it’s all thanks to one man who I definitely do not and never will respect in any way – John McCain.

He made the colossal mistake of running this campaign ad, using Paris Hilton’s image in it:

Paris Hilton’s marketing machine didn’t take long before they came up with this response:

Sure she’s reading off cue cards but she does it pretty well (better than the presidential candidate himself). And what makes it even better is that she’s taking the piss and making fun of herself. I say good for her. I never thought I’d live to see the day where I would actually like something that Paris Hilton did, but there’s a first time for everything…

It’s great to see so many more Middle Eastern websites and startups popping up across the web, from Yamli to the Egyptian family-friendly version of YouTube that has gotten quite a bit of attention, Tvosz.com.

In an environment where new websites are a dime a dozen, startups disappear as quickly as they appear, and it’s hard enough for English startups to keep afloat, Arabic sites have an even bigger challenge. An interesting article was was posted a while back on StartupArabia, and while I agree with some of the points made, I don’t necessarily agree with it as a whole. (I really don’t buy the idea that because of small social circles in the Arab world, there’s a risk of identity theft, whereas security, stability and neutrality are all viable concerns.)

I think a lot of Mid Eastern users like myself, are prone to think, why would I choose a Middle Eastern website over an American/European one which does the same thing, and probably better? For some people the language barrier necessitates the use of a social bookmarking site like Wapher rather than Delicious. For me, that barrier doesn’t exist. In fact, my Arabic isn’t even good enough to get through one link at Wapher before feeling like I’m going to put my fist through the computer screen.

My main problem is this: living in a country like Egypt – more often than not – when we do something, it’s half assed. City Cab is a perfect example. We all ooh-ed and ahh-ed at the thought of a taxi service that you could actually call up, they’d come pick you up, and whisk you off to your destination, in the comfort of a clean, air-conditioned taxi that didn’t feel like it was going to fall apart the minute you slammed the door. After a few months, we were unsurprisingly disappointed. The cabs showed up late, if at all. And if they showed up early, they went ahead and started the meter anyway. The service was unreliable, and there was no one to address your complaints to when the service didn’t come through, no one to hold accountable.

Personally, my concern is that every Arab website out there is just another “City Cab” in the making. Shiny and pretty on the surface, but as you start to use it, you discover all the flaws, the kinks, and all the reasons that make you not want to use the service.

I am hoping to be constantly proven wrong by all these new websites that are making their way to the forefront not only of the Arab internet world, but in the Web 2.0 world as a whole.

The Israeli film about an Egyptian police band, The Band’s Visit, which I wrote about a while back, had a small screening in Cairo.

I know that many will disagree with me on this, but because of the nature of the film itself, I think this is a positive, albeit small, step.

Any bashing can be saved until after you’ve actually watched the film.

(In other news, anyone else feel the earthquake this morning in Cairo? I’m not sure where the centre was, but I know it was felt all the way from Heliopolis to Haram.)

So I’m in the Top 10 finalists at SecondBrain to win a MacBook Air but I’m lagging behind. I’d love it if anyone who reads this blog would register at SecondBrain and vote for me. Ignore the negative votes – they are not going to be counted for anything, it’s just the system that they’re using is set up that way.

For those of you unfamiliar with SecondBrain, it’s one of the best social aggregators out there for collecting all your online content in one place. You can read my review of it on Download Squad here.

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