Archive for April, 2012

Ode to Ras Al Khaimah

Posted on: April 17th, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

Ras Al Khaimah is “deservedly” enjoying, and will continue to enjoy, its reputation as a tremendous Tourist, Business Convention, and Education destination.

Ras Al Khaimah was my home for almost five years. In that time I witnessed incredible growth in both the infrastructure and confidence of the city. I watched the Cornish develop from a very small walkway (where I walked at 33C at 6:30 AM in 2007), to a fantastic, busy, multi-use venue in 2011. I was honored to teach at the Cove Rotana and saw first hand the quality and commitment of hospitality sector. My work at Injaz, RAK Tourism, the HCT, RAK Airport, Al Nahda Women’s Association, SAQR and “SAIF” hospitals and many other places, allowed me to experience the vitality of RAK citizens. It was difficult to leave.

Some further comments: While in RAK I live in three different locations, I witnessed quite amazing improvements in streets, sidewalks, lighting, and general environment (flowers, walkways).

I had the honor to tutor two of Sheikh Omar’s sons and feel strongly that the RAK leaders are dedicated, enthusiastic, and realistic as they strive to develop RAK’s potential. I do, however, encourage them to continue to be skeptical of those who would take advantage of their goodness and trust.

My work with the Ras Al Khaimah International Airport gave me insight into RAK’s potential as a flight destination. There have certainly been “growing” pains with both the airport and airline . . . but to give credit where credit is due, they don’t give up

 It is hard to explain to my friends in Canada (I returned a year ago) the speed of change in the UAE and RAK in particular. I took thousands of pictures, posted some on Google, and shared them with my family and friends in Canada. I have to explain to them now, however, that what they see in my pictures will not accurately reflect the RAK of 2012.

On a personal note (to underscore the “community” of RAK), I was fortunate to meet, work with, teach, and (quite wonderfully) become “a brother and uncle” to a number of Muslim ex-pat families. A Jordanian family living in Ras Al Khaimah brought me into their home (if the appropriate sense of that phrase with a Muslim family) and I helped their daughters with their English.

One daughter conducted (free) five of my Communication workshops for both professional and youth groups. She is now in university in Jordan. She received a big bouquet of flowers after her first workshop, and my old MacBook Pro when she completed the five workshops. My friendship with her, her three sisters, parents, and brother I consider to be one of the cherished benefits of my RAK stay.

One of my sponsors is a Emirati national. She works for a bank. Her father and brother were instrumental in solving some of my challenges. Another ex-pat family from Palestine brought me into their family, worked with me on a business start-up, and introduced me to Iftar! 

I enjoyed getting to know many Indian ex-pats. I attended School student performances and graduations, and for a brief four days, was basketball coach for a group of tremendous high students. (I was 58 at the time and keeping up with them was “good” exercise!)

I also was more than fortunate in getting to know ex-pats from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Malaysia, every GCC country and many from Africa, Europe and North American. 

Ras Al Khaimah is a good place to visit, to live, to raise and to educate children. It is not just a tourist destination. This makes RAK more than just a name on the map. I am proud to recommend RAK as a Holiday Destination from Canada (for the winter months!) although I think their might be value in having a week in Spain, before coming the UAE so as to decrease the effect of a 7 to 8 hour jet lag.

Overall, despite some challenges, I regard my time in RAK as one of the highlights of my life and I support, encourage, and will follow the city’s progress.

Shukran.

Tom Pattillo
tom.pattillo@gmail.com




Word of warning: the man with one hand in the cookie jar has a knife in the other hand.

Posted on: April 15th, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

Word of warning: the man with one hand in the cookie jar has a knife in the other hand.

Tom’s reply to:

A retention strategy for universities
National Editorial
Last Updated: Oct 18, 2010
Imagine you are standing in front of the senior academic “experts” in the UAE. You make the comments, ask the questions expressed in your article.

“Though universities have attempted to tackle retention rates in various ways including monitoring and counseling initiatives, a more comprehensive and unified approach is overdue. But where to start?”

Good place to start? The phrase: “have attempted”. As Yoda once said, “There is no such thing as try, only do.” (Star Wars people will “get” that reference.)

Yoda’s and me? We are agreed that an attempt is not a result.

An attempt is a political gesture to appease those who desperately want an answer but have not the power or influence to hold the “attempters” accountable.

“Doing good” versus “looking like you are doing good” are lightyears away from each other in terms of performance.

“There is a paucity of information available to researchers and educators.”

OK. My first question to any educational institution? How are your graduates doing? Does your intake policy reflect favourably on the success of your current students and graduates?

BUT if you ask, and get answers, then you might find out you are NOT accomplishing your stated goals. To use the analogy, “Sometimes it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than open your mouth and remove all doubt.” If you don’t look for results, you can not be held accountable. Head in the sand? See no evil . . . .

“Only then can they understand the underlying causes of why they are doing so and what can be done about it – as the UAE has challenges unique to its educational landscape.”

Ah . . . there is the rub. What happens when you bring in experts who know little to nothing about a culture, but have as their objective to earn as much money as they can, survive as long as they can without saying or doing anything contentious? Anyone seen Avatar? The “locals” get denigrated, their culture dismissed, their lack of “cooperation” defined as stupidity, naiveté or worse.

“Bryan Gilroy, vice provost at Zayed University, has also observed how the issue is not one only for educators to confront: schools, families and the community must come together to tackle it, he says. Indeed, when communities are more invested in education, students are more likely to prosper.”

Yes, Bryan you are right . . . nice words, really nice words . . . but Yoda says “No such thing as try, only do!”

And remember having a plan or a map is just a waste of time and paper if you don’t act.

AND be held accountable for the results of those actions.

Just how are you going to get all of those stakeholders together to form a consensus, create a plan, and then follow the plan – and get something done?

Words are words, actions are actions – and performance is the ONLY measure of success. (And B.S. baffles brains.)

“Logistics”: A country that hires people to build the tallest darn building in the world and can’t figure out the logistics for an superb educational system . . . One does wonder about priorities?

“There are too many instruments not being used” . . . . have a look at the book . . . no, not LOOK, please READ the book Paradigms by Joel Arthur Barker. Great ideas . . . but remember, one of the reactions to the need for change is to “shoot the messenger.”

Maintaining the status quo for those who are benefiting from the status quo . . . leads to a survivor mentality that takes no prisoners.

Go ahead, ask for the answers. Look out at the audience of UAE education experts, ask them. Then turn up the air conditioners to protect yourself from the hot air.

Good luck.

P.S. Want to have a discussion on Paradigms? I would certainly join in.
Oh yes, if you are wondering why I am on the “sidelines” asking questions and making comments? I got fired for asking questions and making comments. Word of warning: the man with one hand in the cookie jar has a knife in the other hand.

A retention strategy for universities
National Editorial
Last Updated: Oct 18, 2010

If 90 per cent of life is showing up, as the comedian Woody Allen proclaimed, a fair number of students in the capital have missed that first lesson – and many more. Rates of truancy and drop outs of students at the nation’s universities are nothing to laugh at. As we reported yesterday, Abu Dhabi University has expelled 126 students for failing to show up.
Despite repeated warnings – some given as far back as 2003 – students have now been thrown off the university’s rolls. What’s worse, Abu Dhabi University is not the only institution having trouble keeping students in the classroom or ensuring that they get the most out of time spent there.
The expulsions raise larger questions about the need for a nationwide retention strategy. Though universities have attempted to tackle retention rates in various ways including monitoring and counselling initiatives, a more comprehensive and unified approach is overdue. But where to start?
There is a paucity of information available to researchers and educators. Leaders of universities must take a more serious and unified look at who is most likely to miss class or drop out altogether. Only then can they understand the underlying causes of why they are doing so and what can be done about it – as the UAE has challenges unique to its educational landscape.
Studies from other nations have demonstrated that it’s not always a matter of students shirking their responsibilities. The UK’s widening participation strategy has worked to remove the barriers to completing university study. Bryan Gilroy, vice provost at Zayed University, has also observed how the issue is not one only for educators to confront: schools, families and the community must come together to tackle it, he says. Indeed, when communities are more invested in education, students are more likely to prosper.

Some problems are logistical. Many universities are difficult for students to reach. There are few bus or transport links between universities and urban housing developments. On the other hand, students themselves must not be let off the hook.
There are too many instruments not being used to keep students in school. It’s time to put them to work before any more young people squander an opportunity and their potential.




Tom’s response to: One-fifth of Sharjah’s English teachers not qualified Oct. 2010

Posted on: April 15th, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

Pro-active or Re-active

Does it bother the leaders and citizens of the UAE that the majority of actions proposed by UAE educational institutions are “re-active?”

Schoolteachers are ineffective . . . from a “recent” study. Yet the education institutions mentioned in the article have been training teachers for many years. Are their teacher graduates the “best in the business” and thus part of the 80% who do not need training?

And if there is value to the 80/20 “rule”, 80% of the problems are caused by 20% of people, why not just let these “poor English teachers” go. OR why not have the institutions that did not teach them pay for their re-training.

But this is all re-active. After the fact. We didn’t know.

In 2006 I asked senior staff at one of the education institutions mentioned in the article, “what are our graduates doing, how did what they were taught help them to get a job related to their studies, and help them be successful on that job?”

I was told the institution did not do that sort of thing.

So, four years later, the institution is re-actively responding to an issue they ignored for years. (The strategy “Don’t make waves! If we don’t do the evaluation, we can’t identify a problem. And if we don’t see any problems, then we can’t be held accountable for either “creating the problem” or “doing anything – pro-actively – to solve the problem.” This is a strategy often referred to as “Plausible deniability.”

However, as their Chancellor proclaimed, “98% of our graduates are employed”, determining the appropriateness of their jobs and/or the ability to do those jobs, may not be an area worthy of evaluation. Their graduates have jobs!

Yes, but are they in the right jobs, are they effective and productive, are they continuous learners, are they role models, are they making a positive difference in the UAE?

Being pro-active means looking ahead, gathering information, fearlessly looking at current gaps between expectation and reality, and bravely identifying, addressing, and acting on that knowledge.

Re-active means waiting until someone tells you something is wrong; supporting that conclusion, and then offering to solve the problem you couldn’t (or wouldn’t) identify in the first place. (And then not evaluating the effectiveness of your “new” solutions.)

 

One-fifth of Sharjah’s English teachers not qualified

Afshan Ahmed

Last Updated: Oct 13, 2010

SHARJAH // Around 20 per cent of English language teachers in the emirate’s public schools require further training, a study has found. 

The research was carried out between May and June as part of the Unesco Chair programme overseeing the Applied Research in Education at Sharjah Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT).

“A number of teachers have acquired their Bachelors of Arts and Science degrees but have never been trained to teach,” said Dr Christina Gitsaki, who heads the programme at HCT. 

The survey, carried out among 98 teachers, also revealed that 37 per cent had attended less than four Professional Development (PD) sessions. About 5 per cent said they had no interest in such sessions, and did not consider them relevant.

Limited teacher training is believed to be a reason for poor English language skills among high school graduates: 90 per cent of students require an extra year of foundation training before they can enter university. Dr Gitsaki said there was a huge gap to fill, which would require immediate reforms. “The only way to end the foundation programme is by retooling the schoolteachers.” 

To do this, the college has signed an agreement with the Sharjah Education Zone to train 110 high school teachers in modern methods. The two-hour workshops will take place every second week for a year, and will be conducted by professors at HCT.

Yesterday, at the first of these sessions, public school teachers became the students. They worked in groups, taking notes on how to plan lessons, boost reading and writing skills, and personalise learning for students. Lessons taught in the workshop must be implemented in the classroom and the ministry will conduct field visits to monitor the progress made by the teachers. “Students’ disinterest in the English language class could be the outcome of traditional teaching methods,” said Dr Gitsaki.

Maghoury Mohammad, of Al Shahbaa School in Sharjah, was quizzed during the workshop on the difference between “warmers”, “icebreakers”, and “lead-ins” – all concepts used to introduce topics to students. He said these were new to him but that he may start to use them. “Creating interest is a huge problem among the boys,” he said. “I will try starting with something funny or an experience to gain their attention.”

Dr Gitsaki said: “[Teachers] feel that they need to teach from the textbook because the students will be assessed from there. So we are trying to look at how the textbook material can be made exciting through games and activities that will keep the students hooked.”  Ahmed Bourini, the Ministry of Education’s educational supervisor and PD programme coordinator in Sharjah, said an emphasis would be placed on training high school teachers who had received few opportunities for professional development. “This has sometimes influenced their performance and ability to keep up with the latest developments in the field,” he said.

Teacher training initiatives are in the pipeline in other emirates. The Continuing Education Centre set up by the Ajman University of Science and Technology has proposed a collaborative programme to the Ajman government, wherein 50 teachers would take professional courses. “We have approached the Ajman Teachers and Parents Council under the Ajman Government to subsidise the courses,” said Edwin Michael Wyllie, the director of the centre.

aahmed@thenational.ae




Tom’s Response to: One-fifth of Sharjah’s English teachers not qualified 2010

Posted on: April 15th, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

Pro-active or Re-active

Does it bother the leaders and citizens of the UAE that the majority of actions proposed by UAE educational institutions are “re-active?”

Schoolteachers are ineffective . . . from a “recent” study. Yet the education institutions mentioned in the article have been training teachers for many years. Are their teacher graduates the “best in the business” and thus part of the 80% who do not need training?

And if there is value to the 80/20 “rule”, 80% of the problems are caused by 20% of people, why not just let these “poor English teachers” go. OR why not have the institutions that did not teach them pay for their re-training.

But this is all re-active. After the fact. We didn’t know.

In 2006 I asked senior staff at one of the education institutions mentioned in the article, “what are our graduates doing, how did what they were taught help them to get a job related to their studies, and help them be successful on that job?”

I was told the institution did not do that sort of thing.

So, four years later, the institution is re-actively responding to an issue they ignored for years. (The strategy “Don’t make waves! If we don’t do the evaluation, we can’t identify a problem. And if we don’t see any problems, then we can’t be held accountable for either “creating the problem” or “doing anything – pro-actively – to solve the problem.” This is a strategy often referred to as “Plausible deniability.”

However, as their Chancellor proclaimed, “98% of our graduates are employed”, determining the appropriateness of their jobs and/or the ability to do those jobs, may not be an area worthy of evaluation. Their graduates have jobs!

Yes, but are they in the right jobs, are they effective and productive, are they continuous learners, are they role models, are they making a positive difference in the UAE?

Being pro-active means looking ahead, gathering information, fearlessly looking at current gaps between expectation and reality, and bravely identifying, addressing, and acting on that knowledge.

Re-active means waiting until someone tells you something is wrong; supporting that conclusion, and then offering to solve the problem you couldn’t (or wouldn’t) identify in the first place. (And then not evaluating the effectiveness of your “new” solutions.)

 

One-fifth of Sharjah’s English teachers not qualified

Afshan Ahmed

Last Updated: Oct 13, 2010

SHARJAH // Around 20 per cent of English language teachers in the emirate’s public schools require further training, a study has found. 

The research was carried out between May and June as part of the Unesco Chair programme overseeing the Applied Research in Education at Sharjah Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT).

“A number of teachers have acquired their Bachelors of Arts and Science degrees but have never been trained to teach,” said Dr Christina Gitsaki, who heads the programme at HCT. 

The survey, carried out among 98 teachers, also revealed that 37 per cent had attended less than four Professional Development (PD) sessions. About 5 per cent said they had no interest in such sessions, and did not consider them relevant.

Limited teacher training is believed to be a reason for poor English language skills among high school graduates: 90 per cent of students require an extra year of foundation training before they can enter university. Dr Gitsaki said there was a huge gap to fill, which would require immediate reforms. “The only way to end the foundation programme is by retooling the schoolteachers.” 

To do this, the college has signed an agreement with the Sharjah Education Zone to train 110 high school teachers in modern methods. The two-hour workshops will take place every second week for a year, and will be conducted by professors at HCT.

Yesterday, at the first of these sessions, public school teachers became the students. They worked in groups, taking notes on how to plan lessons, boost reading and writing skills, and personalise learning for students. Lessons taught in the workshop must be implemented in the classroom and the ministry will conduct field visits to monitor the progress made by the teachers. “Students’ disinterest in the English language class could be the outcome of traditional teaching methods,” said Dr Gitsaki.

Maghoury Mohammad, of Al Shahbaa School in Sharjah, was quizzed during the workshop on the difference between “warmers”, “icebreakers”, and “lead-ins” – all concepts used to introduce topics to students. He said these were new to him but that he may start to use them. “Creating interest is a huge problem among the boys,” he said. “I will try starting with something funny or an experience to gain their attention.”

Dr Gitsaki said: “[Teachers] feel that they need to teach from the textbook because the students will be assessed from there. So we are trying to look at how the textbook material can be made exciting through games and activities that will keep the students hooked.”  Ahmed Bourini, the Ministry of Education’s educational supervisor and PD programme coordinator in Sharjah, said an emphasis would be placed on training high school teachers who had received few opportunities for professional development. “This has sometimes influenced their performance and ability to keep up with the latest developments in the field,” he said.

Teacher training initiatives are in the pipeline in other emirates. The Continuing Education Centre set up by the Ajman University of Science and Technology has proposed a collaborative programme to the Ajman government, wherein 50 teachers would take professional courses. “We have approached the Ajman Teachers and Parents Council under the Ajman Government to subsidise the courses,” said Edwin Michael Wyllie, the director of the centre.

aahmed@thenational.ae




Quest for excellence in education AP1610

Posted on: April 15th, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

Quest for excellence in education
16 April 2010
Judging from the number of enthusiastic visitors at GETEX Dubai, one can safely say that education remains a top priority in the country. The education fair, which hosts at least 400 international and local universities, is also an important indicator of the trends evident in higher education sector. Of significance is the preference Emirati nationals show for private universities and colleges over federal universities.
This makes for interesting observation. One of the major reasons cited by academics is that the three federal universities have strict entry requirements of higher grades. Thus those students whose grades fall short are forced to seek admission in colleges that have more relaxed requirement. The number of seats in federal universities is also one reason why the requirement for admission is pegged high.  Federal universities also keep to the benchmark to maintain quality education.  Furthermore, cost is cited as a major factor behind the preference, a fact disputed by federal institutes. They believe that cost is not a determining factor for Emirati students.

For students not fortunate enough to gain entry into federal universities, private institutes abound.  This is a good thing and it helps in meeting the demand for higher education in the country. A standard accreditation for higher education institutes is badly needed.  The proliferation of private institutes operating without proper educational accreditation bears witness to this.  Clearly, this has gone on because a regulatory mechanism does not exist. The deficiency of a regulatory mechanism, both for private schools and higher education institutes, is now being looked into by the authorities, who seek to set high standards.

This does not mean that all private institutes do not measure up to the required standards.  Some offer study programmes that are not available in federal universities.   Besides, scholarships are also now being offered as due incentives. It should serve a reminder to federal institutes to revise their academic portfolio and offer a diversity of programmes. By increasing the number of scholarships and introducing subjects, federal institutes can regain the advantage they have lost to private universities. The presence of private institutes is a good thing for it induces healthy competition and can lead to an improvement in the quality of education — both in teaching and programmes of study.

Students in the UAE should feel fortunate in having a diversity of choices as far as educational institutes go. They should also be confident that they have a government that is dedicated to improving the education sector.  It may be a good idea for federal and private institutes to reduce the education costs as well, so that even expatriate students can benefit from this.

“Re-arranging the chairs on the Titanic” is a saying that means the crew of the Titanic is very busy but not in any way solving the problem of saving the passengers about to die. The editorial above mirrors this analogy. Lots of stuff happening, little appropriate results resulting. Why?

Two Points: 1) the problem is not the number of seats available in either public or private education institutions. The problem is, does whatever knowledge gained have anything to do with the graduates becoming productive members of the UAE workforce? The busy work nature of so many of the institutions; more and more courses, more and more graduates, lower and lower standards (one year to get a BA from a Community College is suspect at best . . . but those “graduates” do increase the number of citizens with a BA, regardless of the actual value or credibility of the attested certificate.

It is a challenge in this environment to convince job applicants that it is not “certificates” that do the job. The job must be done (assuming the job has a reason for being!) by a human being with the knowledge, skills and attitude required to achieve the objectives for the job. (I watched with little surprise when a person fired for total inability to do the job brought out a stack of certificates 2 centimeters high as proof that he was “qualified.” He seemed totally unaware that it was his performance, regardless of his certificates, that was the basis for his dismissal.

Another indication of this way of thinking is the decision to take more and more and more education (especially when you can never fail). “Now I have my certificate, why not a Master’s degree? Now I have my Masters . . . what else can I take?”

If the certificates are worthless, graduates may soon realize their lack of skill equips them only for “government” jobs where, unfortunately, success often appears to depend on showing up, sitting without complaint, telling everyone that what you are doing is “work” and accepting raises for no other reason than a government decision. And, as well, your friends measure your success by title and salary rather then performance. No cognitive dissonance here!

2) Western assumptions and interpretations of work, education, performance, parental expectations (and approval), and the religious and culture impact on students’ options after graduation: are valid only if you can convince those that control education in the country that re-arranging deck chairs is the most important priority.

Of course, the fact that the problem of Emirati participation in private industry continues to be managed rather than solved assures a constant revenue stream for those committed to managing the problem (status quo). (Sorry for being somewhat cynical of the recommendations made by education experts that more education is the answer. Seems to me that there might be just a little bit of self-interest here.)

Conclusion:
In my 3.5 years in the UAE I have researched the realities behind the Emiratization initiatives. From both academic articles and in-person conversations with Emirati graduates, I conclude there may in fact be approaches that might actually increase the potential for these young graduates to both graduate with credible degrees and enter the private (and public) workforce to begin a successful, performance measured careers.

Of course such ideas and thinking out of the box flies in the face of those who benefit from maintaining the status quo and their revenue stream. It is common knowledge that a group can always name the most creative person in the group. And, when given the opportunity to remove one person from the group, ALWAYS chooses that same person, the creative person who questions that status quo.

Question: Have I been fired . . . you can only imagine the answer must be, “yes”.




Canada is not a warrior nation

Posted on: April 12th, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

Canada is not a warrior nation.

No exclamation point. No bold face. Just simply, Canada is not a warrior nation.

Canada is / was a peacekeeping nation.

Canada was first “turn-to” for objectivity, patience, intelligence and intuition.

Canada was . . .

❑ respected

❑ the “I trust your Canadian flag crest” on a hitchhiker’s back pack”

❑ a country that cared for its population

❑ a country where being rich obligated sharing that wealth with those less fortunate

❑ a country where tourism success was based on our “safety”, “natural beauty”, and friendly people

❑ a country were success was based on ability, hard work, and belief in self, rather than lotteries and casinos

❑ a country that built railways to connect region to region, Atlantic to Pacific, to make the nation a nation of equality

❑ a country where taxes were understood to be higher (business especially) because the country looked after the medical, retirement, social services, and mental health of the population

❑ a country proud of encouraging literacy in and out of educational institutions by supporting librarians

❑ a country where the ambition of the few were tempered by the wisdom of the many

❑ a country where the American culture was criticized by our leaders, academics, social commentators, and general population rather than considered worthy of total, unthinking, and injurious emulation

❑ a country that considered elections as the democratic process in action, not a war between enemies where every action no matter illegal, immoral, or unethical is permitted and encouraged

❑ a country that could (perhaps) unfortunately, but wisely scrap the Avro Arrow because it was not the best use of our limited financial resources.

❑ a country where billions of dollars would be spent (wasted) by the military (supported and protected by elected “officials”) without ever connecting these outrageous outlays to our huge budget deficits and the decision to put the “blame” on Canadian citizens and use “cutbacks”, layoffs, reduction of the most elemental services provided by a once-proud nation

❑ a country of streams, lakes, forests, seashores, mountains, and prairies were not merely resources to be exploited but rather were the amazing treasures Canadian inherited from . . . fill in your favorite deity or luck

❑ a country where the left and the right provided contrast and balance, not the ruling party

❑ a country where openness, transparency, and trust were the traditions handed down from Diefenbaker and Pearson rather the spin doctor lies promoted as true and the truth avoided by narcissistic, ego driven, “somethings” committed to see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.

❑ a country where environmental standards were proudly protected rather than deviously circumvented

❑ a country of hobbits not orks

❑ a country of Donald Duck, not McScrooge

❑ a country of McDonalds a restaurant, not McDonalds a real estate empire

❑ a country that would call me naive but not stupid, a utopian dreamer not a hopeless idiot

❑ a country more proud to be the little boy saying “the emperor has no clothes” rather than the sycophant praising the government leaders in hopes of more money from the government feeding trough.

❑ a country where Lister Sinclair could laud the Americans without wanting to be an American

❑ a country that considered comaraderie not superiority to be the basis of international policy

❑ a country where a hard-on was considered a bedroom event not a political philosophy

❑ a country that put education, public health, medical facilities and salaries, social welfare, and immigration ahead of corporate greed, bureaucratic greed, and trying to impress the Americans

❑ a country that loved being referred to as a socialist state (with fantastic medical care and social safety net) by Americans wise enough to admire good government lead by empathetic leaders rather right wing megalomaniac demigods sycophantly kowtowing to American right wing banshees

❑ a country where the Christian religion sought to save people though Christ not save the nation through donations to the television preachers

❑ a country where “snake-oil” sales people (primarily men) were considered unprincipled, unethical, and immoral rather than purveyors of one day wonder workshops, “on-line” coaching, and mass media manipulation

❑ a country where people recognized “man-who” statistics as mis-information and propaganda designed to influence action rather than any kind of logical representation of the truth

❑ a country where “golden parachutes” for management, bureaucratic or political failure were not admired and commonplace

❑ a country where personal responsibility was considered normal

❑ a country where success was based on effort, the distance traveled from “poor” to “rich” rather than winning a lottery

❑ a country that sought social justice and equality rather than high taxes on cigarettes, liquor, drugs, and lotteries that created higher taxes on for the most “needy”, unimportant, and powerless of its citizens

❑ a country seeking solutions to national embarrassment rather than glossing everything over with money, denigration, and short term blackmail

❑ a country that would see our aboriginal population not as a problem but an opportunity, not as a barnacle on the side of the Canadian Luxury Liner, but rather as paying, successful and proud passenger on a cruise to an enlightened future.

❑ a country that could accept an immigrant’s (or tourist’s) traditional dress as a proud symbol of the Canadian mosaic rather than an attack on democratic tradition. (The bride lifts her veil to engage her husband, just as a Muslim woman will lift her veil in the ballot booth to prove her citizenship (and RIGHT to vote in HER country’s elections)

❑ a country that prefers to be possibly overly prepared for day-to-day normality so that it can be prepared for natural, political, environmental disasters.

❑ a country more proud of educational achievement than athletic achievement

❑ a country willing to pay for needed infrastructure creation and maintenance before encouraging unlimited urban sprawl

❑ a country that condemns Syria and Libya yet proudly understand its role is not to provide military might to suppress but rather military ability to help pave the way for a long-term peace

❑ a country that understands the value of social welfare that keeps families and children from poverty and desperation is better than hiring more police officers and building bigger jails and penitentiaries when these children grow up to be criminals

❑ a country more concerned with balance than extremism

❑ a country wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove

❑ a country sly as a fox, harmless as a dove

❑ a country wise, cunning, crafty, shrewd, prudent, sagacious as serpents/snakes and harmless, innocent, simple, guileless as doves

❑ a country willing to take the time, and make the effort, to think deeply about alternatives, details, and a multiplicity of demands and priorities rather than accepting a “one size fits all” philosophy espoused by those who have already decided on their own what is best for the country, and see no value in challenging the Canadian population to think and feel (just because someone gives you an “easy” answer doesn’t make it the right answer. Even if you choose to ignore the facts, it does not meant the facts go away.)

Please:
a) excuse my poor grammar and possible lost of internal logic within a phrase
b) feel free to add your comments




Syria: Is ANYONE surprised they are not adhering to their “promises”?

Posted on: April 1st, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

Is anyone surprised that Syria is not going to follow any peace or ceasefire initiatives?

The tribal culture does not betray the tribe. The tribe is all.

Those familiar with tribal culture know that the answer to “Will you do this?” is always “Yes.”

A contract is only valid when the two parties are together. Once the parties are not in the same room, the conditions of the contract mean nothing. (In business it is accepted knowledge that in the Arab world, a contract is the “beginning” of negotiations, not the conclusion. Tribal cultures do not consider reneging on a contract illegal, immoral or unethical. In fact, I would argue there is no word for reneging. The tribe comes first always!

The strategy of authoritarian countries is always to say “yes”. Look at Iran’s tactics with their “agreements” to allow nuclear inspection teams into their country to verify compliance to International agreements. Iran knows the Western response (at least in public) is to somehow believe Iran is telling the truth, is being “honest”, and is really “concerned” with world opinion. NOTHING could be further from the truth.

Iran is just throwing sand. (As in “when caught on the horns of a dilemma the best strategy is to throw sand in the “bulls” eyes.”)

Syria is doing the same thing.

World opinion, and the hopes of all of us, is that Syria and Iran will somehow begin to “follow” our “recommendations”, “suggestions”, “pleas”, and “righteous desire”. It is not going to happen.

While I am not a fan of Israel’s use of this same strategy (yes we won’t antagonize the Palestinians (and the West in general) by encouraging settlements in “traditional” Palestinian areas) I also realize Israel is a tribal nation and sees absolutely nothing wrong with the “yes of course” tactic. (This undoubtedly influences how Israel and the Iran negotiate (or don’t negotiate). They both understand each other’s strategy/tactics. Eventually the “lying” and public posturing is seen for what it is; buying time to further prepare for war. Sneak attacks are the tribal way. In conclusion: Syria’s leaders, past, present, and future, will always say “yes”, (which actually means “when we are in the same room with you (or in the public eye) we say ‘yes’, but once you leave we will do whatever we want”)

Note: If one takes even a cursory look at tribal reality in Syria you will see that Assad is from a very small minority religious faction/tribe. He will destroy all opposition (Sunni and Shi’a) without guilt. And be aware that regardless of the face of the opposition who might take over (by whatever means), the same way of looking the world will still result is the “yes, of course” strategy and tactics.

What to do? Hope for the best, plan for the worst? Let Assad continue to lie with impunity? Pray Israel will not start World War III? Pray the US will FINALLY start listening to their cultural experts (a balance between hawks and doves) and act with an intelligence they so sorely needed in the past, need now in the present, and will undoubtedly need it the future.

What do you think?