Being a weatherman here must be one of the easiest jobs ever, especially in the summer. Choose a number somewhere over 40 degrees C for the day's high, but just don't ever say it will be over 50, cuz then by law outdoor construction would be halted, and we can't have that, now can we?
This past Friday Dubai was treated to a rare cultural event - live classical music performed by talented musicians. The evening, called City Serenade II, was the brainchild of Philip Meyer, a German composer/pianist and Dubai resident who has adopted the seemingly insurmountable task of trying to establish a permanent philharmonic orchestra in town who's typical idea of high culture rarely extends beyond a trip to the mall to pick up the latest Luis Vuitton handbag. The objective was to provide audiences with a non-pretentious introduction to western art music. To this end, Meyer selected a range of both 'classical' and modern pieces, and aside from a sappy ballad from 'West Side Story' that almost drove me to madness, works by Grieg, Beethoven, and even Canada's own David Foster proved to be excellent vehicles to showcase the fantastic talent of the vocalists, string ensemble, and Philip's own piano skills. With a capacity crowd and many more turned away at the door, we can be sure there will be a City Serenade III - and hopefully a chance for the Dubai Philharmonic to become a reality.
- 95% of my friends here are Brits
- The entire city shuts down when a game is on
- The local team to root for here is Saudi Arabia
Continuing the story I posted the other week about Hamed, the UAE national we met who raises falcons and salukis, we finally went out to visit his saluki center in Abu Dhabi. Right from the start it was clear this was going to be a most successfully random day. After joining him (and his bird, which of course was sitting on the table) for a nice breakfast at the Royal Mirage, we got in our quality rental Renault and tried to follow him on the highway to Abu Dhabi - no easy feat considering he was doing at least 170km/h in his SUV, and even with the pedal literally floored, our crapmobile was barely keeping up.
When we got to the center it was clear that he tours a lot of VIPs through the place - for what is essentially a kennel to breed dogs this place was pretty dang posh. From the giant lounge stocked with paintings of his falcons and dogs to the kennel with at least 30 dogs and two litters of fresh puppies to the kitchen where all of the food is prepared complete with a chef he hired from a 5-star hotel restaurant (no shit, these dogs eat so much better than we do) it was no surprise to learn that his dogs are pets to many of the royals here.
After the grand tour, some quality time with real non-ankle biter dogs, and plenty of Arabian coffee we rolled back to Dubai. And no, we will most certainly NOT be getting another dog.
WILLIAM SAFIRE, The New York Times, writes:
Weiss worked down the hall from me in the Nixon administration. In early 1974, he wrote a report on Soviet advances in technology through purchasing and copying that led the beleaguered president - detente notwithstanding - to place restrictions on the export of computers and software to the U.S.S.R.
Seven years later, we learned how the K.G.B. responded. I was writing a series of hard-line columns denouncing the financial backing being given Moscow by Germany and Britain for a major natural gas pipeline from Siberia to Europe. That project would give control of European energy supplies to the Communists, as well as generate $8 billion a year to support Soviet computer and satellite research.
President Franois Mitterrand of France also opposed the gas pipeline. He took President Reagan aside at a conference in Ottawa on July 19, 1981, to reveal that France had recruited a key K.G.B. officer in Moscow Center.
Col. Vladimir Vetrov provided what French intelligence called the Farewell dossier. It contained documents from the K.G.B. Technology Directorate showing how the Soviets were systematically stealing or secretly buying through third parties the radar, machine tools and semiconductors to keep the Russians nearly competitive with U.S. military-industrial strength through the 70's. In effect, the U.S. was in an arms race with itself.
Reagan passed this on to William J. Casey, his director of central intelligence, now remembered only for the Iran-contra fiasco. Casey called in Weiss, then working with Thomas C. Reed on the staff of the National Security Council. After studying the list of hundreds of Soviet agents and purchasers (including one cosmonaut) assigned to this penetration in the U.S. and Japan, Weiss counseled against deportation.
Instead, according to Reed a former Air Force secretary whose fascinating cold war book, "At the Abyss," will be published by Random House next month Weiss said: "Why not help the Soviets with their shopping? Now that we know what they want, we can help them get it." The catch: computer chips would be designed to pass Soviet quality tests and then to fail in operation.
In our complex disinformation scheme, deliberately flawed designs for stealth technology and space defense sent Russian scientists down paths that wasted time and money.
The technology topping the Soviets' wish list was for computer control systems to automate the operation of the new trans-Siberian gas pipeline. When we turned down their overt purchase order, the K.G.B. sent a covert agent into a Canadian company to steal the software; tipped off by Farewell, we added what geeks call a "Trojan Horse" to the pirated product.
"The pipeline software that was to run the pumps, turbines and valves was programmed to go haywire," writes Reed, "to reset pump speeds and valve settings to produce pressures far beyond those acceptable to the pipeline joints and welds. The result was the most monumental non-nuclear explosion and fire ever seen from space."
Our Norad monitors feared a nuclear detonation, but satellites that would have picked up its electromagnetic pulse were silent. That mystified many in the White House, but "Gus Weiss came down the hall to tell his fellow NSC staffers not to worry. It took him another twenty years to tell me why."
Farewell stayed secret because the blast in June 1982, estimated at three kilotons, took place in the Siberian wilderness, with no casualties known. Nor was the red-faced K.G.B. about to complain publicly about being tricked by bogus technology. But all the software it had stolen for years was suddenly suspect, which stopped or delayed the work of thousands of worried Russian technicians and scientists.
Vetrov was caught and executed in 1983. A year later, Bill Casey ordered the K.G.B. collection network rolled up, closing the Farewell dossier. Gus Weiss died from a fall a few months ago. Now is a time to remember that sometimes our spooks get it right in a big way.
Official Statement on Participation
- Listen to Slayer at full blast in your car.
- Listen to Slayer at full blast in your home.
- Listen to Slayer at full blast at your place of employment.
- Listen to Slayer at full blast in any public place you prefer.
Instead of offering just a modest selection of weapons like most normal club would, this place apparently has everything ranging from Uzis to M-16s to mega-calibre elephant guns - and you can shoot them all. The indoor range is a good place to warm up on paper targets, but the real gem is when you go to the outdoor range where they have several parked cars there for targets. Feeling stressed? Come to Ajman and empty an entire M-16 clip at full-automatic on an old Honda Civic. Even better, right next door there is a landing strip for hobby aircraft, so it's not uncommon to be overflown by an ultra-lite on final approach while you're spraying a car with bullets. But what really takes the cake is the fact that last year the gun range was robbed and their entire arsenal was stolen ... maybe it was a disgruntled pilot who had to pry out one too many stray bullets from his aircraft.