Walid's Wanderings

Reflections on life, good-and-evil, family, humanity, and anything else that occurs to me, usually when I travel. Right now I am on a 6-year trip through Lebanon, the homeland I had never really lived in before.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Another deep thought from Cody

- "Do you know what I want to be when I grow up?"
- "No, but last time you wanted to be a firefighter."
- "No, this time I've decided what I want to be. Do you want to know?"
- "OK."
- "I want to be the boss of everything. I want to be president."
- "That's great. You'll have to work hard at it."
- "OK, I can work hard. But daddy? Do I have to be black?"

Friday, February 08, 2008

Cody's Wisdom

Cody is going to be 4 this month.

Today he asked me :"Do kids become anything they want when they grow up?"

- "Well, yes, if they can work hard enough to become what they want."

- "OK, I want to be a firefighter, so do I have to work hard?"

- "You have to be pretty strong, but it's not as hard ..."

- "But, you know, when kids are as big as you are, then they do not want to be anything when they grow up anymore. They just want to be kids again."

Right he was!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Cut-and-Paste Job

This from the August 3rd New York Times

(speaking about Hawaii Five-O)

Evil makes McGarrett angry, but when he speaks, his voice is startlingly gentle, exuding a quiet control that a beleaguered generation of parents surely wished they had when facing the forces of social decay.

TYPICAL CRIMINAL: You’ll never get me, McGarrett.

TYPICAL McGARRETT: You stay smug, and I’ll stay patient.

He’s particularly eloquent when setting peacenik hippies straight:

McGARRETT: There are dangerous animals in the world, and some of them walk on two feet. They don’t want peace, and they’re not capable of love. Society — and that means you and you and you and you — needs protection from these warped minds. And that’s my job.

HIPPIES: (Chastened silence.)

Whether saving a drowning boy, defusing a bomb with nail clippers or offering himself as a prison hostage, he’s a model of steadfast decency. He’s white but not white bread, at ease in the ethnic stir-fry of Honolulu. And there’s no emergency his bare-bones agency — four men, a secretary and a car — can’t resolve in just under an hour.

And when he gets his man — Book ’im, Danno! — you can hear America exhaling. Their sons and their daughters were beyond their command, Vietnam was a mess, but at least Hawaii had McGarrett.

A marathon of “Five-0” viewing may provoke an ache of nostalgia, or whatever that feeling is when the present looks bleaker than the troubled past. As I watched, I was overcome with longing to replace Bush-Cheney with McGarrett-Danno.

McGARRETT: What have we got?

KONO: Big trouble, Steve. Lotta immigrants comin’ in. Folks plenny mad.

McGARRETT: From where?

DANNY: Lots of places. The lab boys say Mexico, mostly. They’re here illegally, but here’s the funny thing — they don’t act it. They do our dirty work. They raise families. They send money home to Grandma.

McGARRETT: Chin, go down to the border. It’s 1,954 miles long — better take Kono. Nobody comes in unless you know it. Go easy on the workers, but the smugglers and dope pushers — you know what to do.

CHIN HO: Good as done, boss.

McGARRETT: Danno, I want these people legalized. Tell Congress to send me a bill. I want it tough, and I want it fair. And I want it on my desk Monday morning. Then get me a sandwich and my suitcase.

DANNY: I’m on it. Where are you going?

McGARRETT: Pakistan. I have a hunch.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Something to read. If you can.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Lebanese blogger fatigue is for real. Nothing is left to say. Any readers who stumble across this may feel free to suggest any other topic for me to blog about.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bruce Willis

There's a rumor that all the news you hear about Lebanon is part of the roll-out plan for the movie "Die Hard 4."
-"You brought down a helicopter - with a car !!"
- "Yeah, I was out of bullets"

Thursday, January 11, 2007

We Gave at the office

With a new year starting, my siblings and I had to pay yet another installment of estate tax towards a sum that was due in 2003. Somehow we decided to pay in installments based on some expectation of an estate tax amnesty that was floated by the late Rafic Hariri before he died. Goerge W wanted to do the same for a time window thet maybe he expected George H W to not survive. Well, days came and days went and lo and behold, uncle Rafic did leave us in a most unfortunate way and guess what: no estate tax amnesty BUT little goatee boy Saad still did not have to pay a cent of estate tax. I know I know there are rumors here and rumors there about what was taken by whom when and from whom and what have you and where did you get it from. But it is a stone cold fact that Sadd Hriri did not pay a cent of estate tax. I have heard it confirmed from two extremely reliable sources. In fact, I am willing to proclaim to the world right on this blog that if Saad Hariri can produce a government recept for the estate tax he owes then I will willingly vote for him in the next election. And if the moon is made of green cheese then I can fly and dodge bullets at the same time.

I'm not sure it is completely clear what this means. We all know how much every Lebanese owes if the national debt is to be paid back, and we can blame whomever for that fact, but there are no to opinions about whom to blame for the loss of revenue that resulted from Saad Hariri's failure to pay estate tax into the same coffer that owed 40 billion US dollars on our behalf. Heres is my convservative estimate:

  • Rafic Hariri had about 16 billion US dollars to his name when Forbes compiled "richest men" statistics the year before he died, but when the year after that came, Forbes estimated about $16 billion for each of at least four heirs, of whom Saad was one.
  • A lot of this fortune is obviously in real estate, which is the only form of wealth on which Lebanese estate tax is automatically levied (due to lax reporting requirements for any other forms of wealth).
    • Let us conservatively assume the Saad inherited $8 billion in Lebanese real estate, and $8 billion in untraceable other assets
    • On $8 billion, a 12% tax rate applies, meanign he owed the state of Lebanon $960 million.
    • Using a very generous 5 million Lebanese taxpayers, this means that, in paying down our naitonal debt, we could have been saved $192 per person if Saad was not the sort of person who can get a 1-man exemption from estate tax (Poos Geroge W had to deprive teh US treasury of billions in order to make his exemption stick).
    • If you count my wife and kids as Lebanese taxpayers, we are looking at a loss of $960 in our household.
  • How much did YOU pay at the office for the privilage of having these types lead our country?