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We live in a world of dualities, with the classic good / evil polarity pair being but one, like hot / cold, large / small, and love / hate among others. Where does one pole or extreme end and the other start? It can be hard to determine sometimes, and other times, it might be much more clear.

The topic came up in discussion at a Middle East wedding years back, when one of Bob’s friends had been out there having some fun and frolic the night before, and a few others in the group may have been fast to judge said friend’s behavior on the matter.

“Well, it’s all relative. It wouldn’t be my style, but I don’t begrudge Pickett taking
advantage of a spontaneous opportunity. They made a grown-up choice. It’s the
way of the world—like them Booble boys and ‘don’t be evil.’”

“Thanks for the hall pass, Bob,” said Pickett, smiling. “I’ll sleep better tonight.”

“Hold on there, I’m not done. ‘Don’t be evil’ is nothing like ‘do good,’ which is more
proactive. It’s rather a bit more ambivalent—like, ‘lemme wait and see if I benefit
before I wade in.’ Or maybe, ‘by pausing, I can hinder things.’ Bad stuff can also
happen when nothing’s done, but no one was ‘evil’ per se. There’s a whole gray
spectrum between ‘doing good’ and ‘being evil.’
 
You know that stuff be truth, and folks be pullin' that kind of crap every single day of the week (and twice on a Sunday), be it for bidni$$ or in their personal lives. Here's a nice one on point from a few years back, but more relevant than ever. 


In some notional imaginary parallel universe cum altered reality, there’s a similar entity masquerading as Booble, but you should be able to figure it out. If not quite sure on how brands are spun here, Bob refers you to this prior post on the matter for an explanation.


Guess that them there Booble boys found the bar a little too high here, in terms of measuring up to exemplary ideals, so said mofos not only went and changed the corporate name back in 2015, but used it as convenient excuse to  do away with the tagline above, in favor of “Do the right thing.”

Does this mean they think our sorry sheeple asses will forgot it all? And for “who” are said mofos doing the right thing for—themselves—no doubt.  Damn skippy there! This nifty little A-to-Z corporate history primer here can fill in a few extra blanks for you, along with these additional pieces here and here.

Despite there being a lot of discussion on this matter of Booble being evil, the root word "boob," in and of ltself, singular, and/or plural (which is better), is most deffo not evil. The company logo proves it. Look long and hard here, Bobbolin(o/a). So....what;'s not to like?!
But they have this sneaky other logo that points to sumpin' more sinister going on. Others may dismiss it as being mere "coink--e-dink" of course. Let's smoke another one, shall we?

To go back to the whole duality and inseparability of good and evil, let's consider the sliding scale, and stay on the relative "bad" side. 


So, how evil is / was Booble, and how do they stack up to all the other evil going on out there in the world, uhm, like say Halloween and its origins, creepy clowns and other small shit like that?


But first, maybe you have to let it happpen to you and not do anything about it. Either that, or head it off at the pass before it gets there. 


Evil is relative, but then again, your relative might be evil too, especially if she’s your mother-in-law, like our exhibit below. 


N.B. / Major Friggin' Hint: Do NOT marry into this kind of situation, or your sorry ass will be hooked to a whole bunch of hurt and malice for years to come. 

Yo, sometimes that evil shit starts at an early age, and evolves to bigger and better over time. It’s like playing golf every day, and perfecting things over decades.


The initial kernels of genius are a genetic gift, just like with all other human capabilities, but they can be nurtured and refined to be made more powerful. Imagine the possibilities down the road with this pair.


Two future Booble execs here, or maybe they create their own realms, and take things to a whole new level of evil excellence. There be some serious Damien / Omen-esque stuff festering there. 

Regardless of your personal take on good versus evil, that, plus a whole boatload of witty observations and wry wisdom, as they apply to weddings, marriage thereafter and a cornucopia of other goodies, await to warp and twist your mind. It's all covered in Bob’s debut novel about his single-guy, nupital travel (mis)adventures abroad.



Subject: Amman #52 - Spelling that guy's name
(Posted on Oct 21, 2014 at 05:34PM ) Tags:
So while Bob was bopping around Amman in 2000 for a wedding, one of the things in the back of his mind was the murkiness surrounding the multitude of English name spellings for that famed Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi. In Arabic his full name is معمر محمد أبو منيار القذافي

I could progress one day to the myriad spellings of everyone’s good
friend and drinking buddy–cum–regional strongman, Colonel Qaddafi.
Or was it Gadafi? Qudhafi works. El Kazzafi anyone?
It’s Qadhdhāfī too,
McNumbNuts. 
Surely it was clearer and simpler in Arabic.

One kick at the proverbial can here was clearly not enough, and Bob came back for a second run at it later on in the chapter. 

Revisiting Libya’s Colonel naming confusion, there was much yet still to
master.  
Muammar Al-Gathafi? Omar Mouammer Al Gaddafi?  For added
measure, Qathafi, Mu'Ammar el 70. May his moniker mayhem morph some
more with Mulazim Awwal Mu'ammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Qadhafi
added to the pile.

That last variant seems to be the longest naming version on record for our esteemed leader. 


It seems the complexity of getting his name right in English centers around his name as pronounced in Arabic and not being able to properly transcribe it across into English letters, something referred to as transliteration. This short video encapsulates some of those spellings.
 

"No one can agree on how to spell Gadhafi's name. He's like the Hanukkah of dictators." 
                                                                                                                                             - Jimmy Kimmel

Five pieces all from 2011 jump into glorious detail on the matter as evinced below.

1) Time Magazine

2) Dictionary.com

3) Business Insider

4) The Economist

5) Good Magazine

ABC dug deep in 2009 to come up with 112 different spellings. We won’t bother to list them all here but they are in that piece for all those that just need the full Monty there. The visualization below may possibly be the handiest device out there for compactly laying out his name spelling variants.



Then this other cat tried to get a little analytical on the subject here based on search results, focusing only on the surname, and forgetting about his first name. He was able to get it down to 41 from the 112 above, but there's still some serious long tail action going on.



There are a lot of possibilties at play here at each step along the way per below, and looks like even more spelling options than the simple visualization above. 
 

This StraightDope piece from 1986 tried to tackle the matter as well, Perhaps, best and simplest for all (in the English language anyway), would have been as Bob thought about it during the wedding reception.
One solution—having the Colonel talk to  , aka TAFKaP,
back in the day when said artist went through that phase.
A timely connection between the two characters regarding
naming guidance and simple symbolism could have made things
much easier for all in the world regarding the Libyan’s label.

This fuzzy (yet still legible) photo of his son Mohammed's passport may yield some clues as to how his old man hay have had his name spelled in his own passport. Yet another surprising version at play here with Al Gathafi. 



In addition to having a name with multiple spellings, he was also a man of many titles at various points in time, be they self-appointed or not. Among them: King of (African) Kings, Imam of Muslims, Dean of African Rulers, Leader of the Revolution, Keeper of Arab Nationalism, and more informally perhaps, The Colonel. There was also that whole special fashion swagger he had, but that is probably best left for a whole separate analysis together with Prince lumped into the same boat.

And as with many celebrities, the ravages of time can take their toll on one’s outward-facing aesthetics. But it looks like our main man took that aspect in stride and let nature do its thing, and not try and fight it with repeated bouts of cosmetic surgery that make folks look like some exotic stretched Asian feline. Give him credit for that. 



Anyway, with all this confusion and no definitive resolution on such a small, discrete spelling matter, ain’t no wonder we got no peace in the Middle Crease. This is what happens when you’re some single punter hitting weddings all over the globe with different cultures and languages at play.




So what was that drink that took out Dr. LoveSexy the night before the wedding in Jordan, and gave him a big hangover the next day?

Arak is a well-known, anise-flavored spirit distilled from grapes that is consumed all over the Middle East. It is usually accompanied with food, just as it was with the fine open-air mezze dinner on the shores of the Dead Sea. The drink does a great job of clearing the palate, even better than wine.


A lot more on how it is made can be found here in this Wiki piece. This Economist article from 2003 goes on about the history of the drink, the Arab invention of distillation, and other drinks related to Levantine arak like pastis, ouzo, sambuca, raki, mastika, and absinthe, and others. Note the arak in the Middle East, should not be confused with the drink of similar name arrack (and sometimes even the same spelling) in South East Asia that is NOT related at all, has no anise in it, and is coconut, sugarcane, or grain derived.

The process by which this clear spirit turns cloudy white when it is mixed with water is called louching. Basically, the anise oil which is colorless in the alcohol, emulsifies when the water is added, and presto, the drink transforms to its milky color as this short video shows.


Arak is usually served in a shorter glass with some ice already  in it, and mixed with water thereafter, in a 1:2 ratio.


Maybe it wasn’t just the arak that knocked things out of the box for Dr. LoveSexy, but perhaps the combination of beer, sucking on the hookah / shisha pipe, and any other alcohol that, collectively in combination, may have been the culprit for his hangover the next day and putting him in need of some serious greasy food as a cure. In any event, right or wrong, as a scapegoat perhaps, I claimed that "Haddad haddid him in."

The brand being consumed by all that night was Haddad, a local Jordanian brand made by Eagle Distilleries Co. that was established in 1953, and one of the first companies in the country (number three actually) licensed to manufacture alcohol.


When you’re some single guy hitting weddings all over the world, it pays to be open, flexible and chillaxed about the food and drink going down around you. It’s all part of the fun and experience of different cultures and traditions.

In any event, no matter where you are, or what you are drinking, it’s all about the "Cheers!" or fe sahetek / fi sahitak in Arabic [say Figh sa hee' tik], or literally "to your health." This handy table lists the greeting in 60 languages.


Subject: Amman #52 - Knowing your telly
(Posted on Mar 9, 2014 at 04:28PM ) Tags:
Digging a little deeper on a silly passage for shits and giggles, and what was meant here one night in Amman back in August 2000.

I hopped off the bed where I’d been watching the telly for a little local flavor and to get a quick peek at the news. Telly here was not to be confused with Telly Monster or Savalas, unless you were watching Sesame Street or Kojak. Then it would have been "Telly on the telly,without consideration for either the U.S. awards or U.K. Addicts varieties in that telly mix.

Just what the hell was Bob blathering on about with all that crap? Let's break them puppies down one by one. 

1) Telly = Brit slang for TV / television, pretty straightforward on this one.

2) Telly Monster from Sesame Street, the long-running children's TV show. 


3) Aristotelis “Telly” Savalas of Kojak TV series fame that ran from 1973 - 1978. 


4) Telly Awards (US) - "Honors the very best film & video productions, groundbreaking online video content and outstanding local, regional, & cable TV commercials   and programs" per their website.


5) Telly Addicts (UK) – This was a TV trivia game show and needing to know your stuff. It ran there from 1985 - 1998. 


And then as an added bonus at the end of it all, and keeping with the British angle on the last telly, let’s not forget about Roger Mellie, The Man on the Telly, the killer strip/series character from that stronghold of UK funnydom at Viz. Here's a little sketch entitled Challenge Roger with our main man in fine form from the animated TV series adapation.


Note I couldn’t mention the Indian Telly Awards, cuz they only started in 2001, and the Amman wedding dates to 2000, unless I wanted to time travel or sumpin’ in the book. Perhaps Roger sums it up best with this reply to Kojak’s trademark line.


At the end of the day, this nonsense is all tied to the telly, and as Roger himself would throw out there with his catchphrase: "Hello, good evening, and bollocks!"


Subject: Amman #52 - Super-Secret Sqiurrel Stuff
(Posted on Jan 20, 2014 at 10:54PM ) Tags:
So yeah, since this puppy was set in the Middle East (or Middle Crease as I referred to it), you just know there is a lot of stuff going on in those parts that is not front and center in the media. It’s not just some casual wedding backdrop for a single guy’s comedic adventures, although it may seem that way on the surface.

It was pretty early on when this “CIA, Mossad, IIS Directorate 9, Mukhabarat, and MISIRI-cum-VEVAK” string got thrown out there. Okay, for many a folk, CIA and Mossad would set the general tone and lend a clue, but what about those other names in there? Let’s take them briefly down in order, but we all know representatives of these entities, and many others unnamed here, be crawling around the region.

Okay, IIS was the Iraqi Intelligence Service generally, and also known as the Mukhabarat. There were different numbered Directorates or divisions, and number 9 was for Secret Operations, or what I euphemistically like to call Super-Secret Squirrel Shit (or Stuff, if you are more prim and proper). But hey, in this world we live in, forget that naïve, polite approach. Save that for your English teacher in grade school, kids. Directorate 9 supposedly specialized in sabotage and assassinations (perhaps a few operations were designed to look like accidents as needed, or even expiration by natural causes), but hey, they probably borrowed a page and traded notes with their good friends and drinking buddies in the Mossad. Who really knows what they were up to, especially these days, post Iraq War (or Invasion or Incursion or whatever you and your dog want to call it), since it was all supposedly dissolved. 

MISIRI stands for the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and is that country’s  primary intelligence entity, but also goes by the names VEVAK, VAJA, and sometimes even MOIS, and was initially SAVAMA, and not the same as SAVAK, the secret police from back in the day of the Shah. All we’re missing here in the equation is a SHAZAM, and I’m not talking about that handy dandy song identification service of the same name, which in reality, probably does a whole lot more good in the world all by itself than all them others combined.

And while we’re at it, and on topic, what ‘s with that massive US Embassy compound in Amman? I mean look at the size of this sucker. The first two two photos don't really do it justice in terms of how big it really is,, but this third aerial shot yields a little more perspective. There are colleges out there on the planet smaller than this compound. 


For such a small country (estimated population of 6.5M as at July 2012), Jordan sure has a large American “diplomatic” presence in Amman. Yeah, right, let’s spin some other story on that. Maybe it’s all for“cultural research” or something like that. Righto, you go ahead and believe all that if you want to, just like with reality TV.

Even if you are just going to places like this for wedding fun, you can't help but notice other stuff going on in the background sometimes.