On why a multiethnic Europe is nowhere near. Microsoft does Warsaw

So this is what Microsoft Poland (or they advertisers) considered a bit too much for their consumer base:


Lacking a better word, doesn’t it look glorious?

At least, they were tactful enough to do a poor Photoshop job… but come on, couldn’t mighty Microsoft Europe spare a few thousand euros to do a Poland-rated version of the ad?

But see, I learnt something today (it was worth waking up this morning then). First, Poland is as much a racist country as any other country in the world. Nothing bad with it (we are talking civilised racism here, not Hitler or Apartheid style racism discrimination as the UN chart calls it), but they are realistic about their market.

Second, apparently in Poland, if you are going to be different, you can be Asian, but not black (something to do with Polish builders, plumbers, electricians and other tradesmen moving to Western Europe and being replaced by Chinese I have heard…)

See, I am as racist as the next, and I do have a network of global friends. Asian, Caucasian, Latino, black, and the like. I’ve got good German, Dutch, Afrikaans, Black and Coloured South African friends (yes, they come in even more versions.) Also Moroccan, Nigerian, Japanese, Filipino, French and some other flavours but we talk of races as what they are, points of anatomical and anthropological difference, not something to stigmatise or never speak about. We are all open about it, and we all agree that being tolerant is the key, reality can never be superseded by good intentions, affirmative actions or bill of rights.

No, it is not representative of the sports fun base to have women sports presenters in the UK. Just go see a game.

No, it is not representative of the estate agent crowd to have a black presenter in Location Location.

No, no matter what you say, Jennifer Lopez doesn’t speak Spanish or represents the Mexican-Americans (but epitomised the American dream).

No, call it what you want but a 45 year old black South African cannot have a degree in engineering because under the Apartheid regime they couldn’t go to uni (as much as I despise it, it is true.)

No, no matter how fast you run, if your family tree has been based in Beijing or Dublin for the last ten generations, you will not overrun a black athlete on the 100m.

No, you can try to bake yourself as much as you want and you will still look like a lobster if your name is Andrew McCain and you like the tanned colour of a Thai man.

And, I have never been to Poland, but I would bet my hat that chances are, one out of three Poles is not black or Asian.

When will we all accept reality as what it is real?



On the age of media overstatement and living in fear of everything

Today it’s the turn of swine flu (a strain of Influenza A virus subtype H1N1, whatever that means). From 2004 to 2007, it was avian influenza (H5N1, for those who worry enough to care). 2003 brought us the Michael Jackson look thanks to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, a nasty type of pneumonia). Post-9/11 anthrax scare anyone? And we have to go back to 1999, for the Y2K problem.

Of course, I am not talking of pandemics, which is an epidemic of infectious diseases that spreads through populations across a large, region, country, continent… or planet. Nope. What I refer to is the exaggeration and overstatement by public bodies like the World Health Organisation and governments about potential global catastrophes.

Of course, they’ll tell you that they’d rather be safe than sorry. FT reports that Margaret Chan, the head of the WHO is trying to “hit back at critics who have accused [WHO] of over-reaction” (FT.com).

Continue reading

On observations on the weirdness of human behaviour: the spitting street cleaner

You can call me old fashioned, you are probably right, age is starting to take its toll, but I saw something yesterday that got me thinking…

I was in Belgrave Square, the embassy capital of the British capital where countries like Germany, Austria, Turkey, Syria, Norway, Brunei, Portugal, Ghana, Spain, Belgium, Serbia and many more have made their or their ambassador’s home in London. It is true that Westminster keeps an eye on the place and perhaps because of special care, perhaps because fewer residents and businesses, the place is kept nice and tidy.

Continue reading

On a traffic warden really pushing it in London, check the photo

This species hides behind the corner waiting for you to relax, and they dive right to your neck. Perhaps you didn’t even notice it, but he took a picture on his digital camera and while you drove off after with grandma, he was filling in your details in the PCN, Parking Charge Notice (British euphemism for parking ticket).

Continue reading

On overcrowded cities and the raise of the Homo Iratus

Hobbes, last night we were discussing the effect of overpopulated areas in their inhabitants’ ability to care about fellow men.

After 4 years in central London, last summer we relocated to a small town in South Bucks, in a small corner of Greater London’s green belt. My point was that since we moved, even though London keeps consuming much of our daytime, at least we know most of our neighbours’ names even though they don’t live above or below us. Continue reading

On multiracial being the new white, advising Obama

Waaaaw! Hobbes, this has been one looong election. About 2 years we’ve had of Romneys, Pauls, Clintons (who’s scariest anyway, Palin or Hillary?), McCains and Obamas. And finally, the marketing and media machine has convinced us all that Barack Hussein was the better option.

All together it reminds me of the spanking new ’09 car model on show from September 08.

Continue reading

It’s Good To Know: Nail clipping on the bus

I’m on the bus and the guy across pulled a nail clipper and started on.

As much as it annoys me, what kind of person carries around a nail clipper in his/her pocket?

Without doubt it will be someone with a manicure fetish, but also surely he will have them already neatly clipped. Otherwise what is the point on carrying a nail clipper around every day?

Continue reading