Samsung S5 vs. iPhone 5S


As said back in March, the guys at Samsung CTC gave me a brand new Samsung Galaxy S5 after I complained about my iPhone’s dying battery while tweeting at ArabNet. About a month later, my white S5 arrived and I began to discover how the other half lives.

Let me start with a massive disclaimer: I love my iPhone. I love Apple products because of their sleek appearance and their intuitive interface design. I use a Macbook, an iPod, and have been an iPhone user since 2012. That’s not a long time but, once I made the switch, that was it. I must also say that I feel it makes sense to use products of the same family because all devices are compatible & easy to sync. I recently upgraded to the 5S so getting an S5 (this is going to get confusing) was the chance to experience what my Android friends always use as ammo in the Apple vs Android debate. What I’m saying is, I’m incredibly biased and a very loyal customer of Apple but I tried to have an open mind about it. The overall use of the phone was not easy to figure out but I assume that that was because I’m used to the iPhone interface so navigating wasn’t simple. BUT, due to this, I saw how efficient Apple is when it comes to creating a system that is designed to mirror how you think it should work.


Swipe Keyboard: All Samsung devices have this keyboard option. It allows you to swipe one finger over the letters used to spell a word in one movement. The phone will translate your swipe automatically into the word you’re spelling. It’s pretty accurate too – it even got commandments right.

Beauty Face: This is a camera feature that allows you to adjust the level of airbrushing on the faces in your photos. It’s like it was made for taking perfect selfies. It goes from 1 to 5, 5 being most “beautiful.”

Removable Battery: Upon receiving the phone, I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t turning on until I realized I hadn’t inserted the battery. Yup, bimbo moment. iPhone batteries are built in so when you get the phone, you turn it on and you’re good to go. Samsungs’ are removable which helps when your phone freezes and you need to reset or when you need to replace a fried battery.

Battery life: The battery life is slightly better than the iPhone but, in all fairness, it also takes longer to charge. There’s an app in the Play Store called “Juice Defender” which gives you some options that help you save battery life and reduce use of data networks when the phone is at rest. As my Android friend said, anything that’s missing has an app to make up for it.

Green Packaging: The box the S5 is in is made of 100% recycled material and the printing is with soy ink.

GTalk: Since it’s an Android, having all of Google’s products built into the device is a plus. Besides Gmail and Chrome, GTalk and Hangout is also there. It’s a plus but not a deal breaker since there are so many messenger apps (texting and video) already available on all devices.


Data Network Options: The fact that I can’t choose Edge (or any slower connection) means that my data network must be either all or nothing. This isn’t the end of the world but it can be inconvenient when you’re buying a smartphone. The iPhone still has Edge connection when you turn off your 3G so you can still use Whatsapp – this is my method for prolonging my iPhone’s life and reducing my phone bill. When you turn off your data network on any phone, it will prolong battery life so this could also contribute to your Samsung’s battery lasting longer than an iPhone’s, generally speaking.

Sim Card Size: Shifting from the 5S to the S5 took an extra week because I had to find the right sim card adapter. The 5S uses a sim smaller than the nano and the S5 is still at the nano-sim stage. Besides that, the sim’s slot is too tight. You need tweezers to remove the sim card unless there’s a hidden button I missed.

Screen Size: Some appreciate that the Samsung screens are larger and easier to read but I found that the size of the screen made the entire phone too bulky. It’s difficult to use with one hand and my thumb doesn’t reach across the entire screen with ease. I feel the phone’s size is too cumbersome (and that was without a cover), not pocket-friendly, and barely hand-friendly. Perhaps you get used to it or I have small hands. TWSS.


Water-resistant: I wanted to dump the phone in a cup of water to put it to the test but I didn’t have the heart. This may be the only feature that beats the iPhone. In my opinion, this is the best feature since, in the presence of my electronics, my klutzy self and I have become a hydrophobic mess. However, this feature’s not enough to make me switch teams. I will say that a shield of this sort would make the iPhone king of its domain.

Well, that and a better battery life. Apple, are you listening?

Matters of the Heart

For every known particle, there is an anti-particle.
Perhaps, you, my anti-particle, are lost & cannot reach me.
The closer you get to matter, as soon as you are in contact with me, you are annihilated.
Actually, we are annihilated. Leave it to me to forget that our contact isn’t just mad, it’s mutually assured destruction. But with this destruction comes energy to do work that is equal to our masses – which makes sense considering I’ve been driving myself into the ground while you’re not here.

This asymmetry, this abundance of me and absence of you, has been such a mystery. I don’t think physicists could explain it and they know the gravity of it all, they know about stuff that matters.

And so, maybe you’re made of antimatter and the universe says we complement each other in every way but, alas, there is no chance we can ever come to be as one.

But it doesn’t really matter, does it?

20 (More) Songs, 20 (More) Memories

Part Two of my stroll down Memory Lane.

1. What’s Up – 4 Non-Blondes

We were miniature golfing at that golf course across from Disneyland. Mom was seven or eight months pregnant with my first little sister and I had to keep getting her golf balls out of the holes because she was so pregnant she could hardly bend over.  Stop thinking about balls and bending over that
way, this is my pregnant mother we’re talking about. This song was playing at the 7th hole and I couldn’t believe I was losing.

2. Crawling – Linkin Park

Ahh, middle school. We had just moved to Lebanon. Chester Bennington could be Eminem’s antisocial cousin who talks to teddy bears with no eyes. Thus, he was the perfect role model for an angst-ridden 13 year old.

3. She Will Be Loved- Maroon 5

I think I was around seventeen-going-on-eighteen and felt like Adam Levine was singing to me when he’d say “beauty queen of only eighteen.” This is how self-centered we are when we’re teenagers; we immediately think we’re the only girls with crooked smiles who will be loved. Then we realize it’s not always rainbows and butterflies, it’s compromise.

4. Reload – Sebastian Ingrosso, Tommy Trash, John Martin

First time to Pier 7. There was this table of guppies across from us that had two guys dancing nonstop for 3 hours. Whether or not their energy levels were natural or substance-induced, they were so happy that it was infectious. One got kicked off the stage because he was dancing alone. He was so sad and yet, he kept moving and just got on some other podium.

5. Going Deeper & Blackfeel Wite – N.F.M.T. (Patrick Podage Remix)

Capitole with my favorites. Shazaming everything. There was a really “friendly” couple at the bar that was entertaining the whole place. We had epic chocolate birthday cake and, for once, felt like the youngest circle on a rooftop of Beirutis.

6. Sugar Ray 14:59 Album

I was obsessed with this CD. And Sugar Ray. And Mark McGrath. I was 11. This played all day long while I’d clean my room or wander around the neighborhood. You know a CD is good when you can still listen to it and not think “WHY did I like them?” With that said, everything Backstreet Boys has ever done is gold.

7. Play (Dirty) – David Banner

Riding in the back seat of a Megane with a bunch of my friends on a Saturday morning. We were on our way back from Roadster after being mentally violated during a Quiz 1 Physics exam. No one would’ve ever guessed that we just flunked a test because we were so happy with our eggs and pancakes. Sleep-deprived and high off maple syrup sugar, the fact that this song was playing just made us laugh even harder.

8. My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark – Fall Out Boy

My NIKE Powersong for a few months which means I’ve been hardwired to feel like I need to run when I hear this. The chorus starts and it’s like GO GO GO. I’ve been Pavlov-ed.  Not to mention, I now hate listening to this song because it makes me feel lazy if I’m not on a treadmill or in the middle of a workout. This is my new Powersong.

9. N****s in Paris – Jay Z & Kanye West

I don’t think I will ever get tired of this song. Ever. I have two separate memories of this song, both of which are of me going apeshit in a pub because this song is on and IMINTHEZONE. And they goin’ gorillaz HAAAN?! *falls*

10. Next to You –  Justin Bieber ft. Chris Brown

I was at a red light, left knee wedged up against the door & wheel, singing along completely into it. Like REALLY into it. And then my friend drove up next to me. Only then did I realize my windows were open because he was laughing at me. In all fairness, he was listening to this.

11. Son’s Gonna Rise- Citizen Cope

The scene in One Tree Hill where the lead female characters are dancing slow motion at Tric. Then, I remember the show in the early years when Peyton Sawyer was emo, Nathan & Haley were perfect, and Lucas was a profound narrator in a hoodie.

12. Shot at the Night – The Killers

This song makes me nostalgic for memories that aren’t mine or for ones I haven’t made yet. It will play when I drive down PCH at dusk sometime in the future and I’ll reminisce about sunsets seen on the other side of the world; ones with llama cranes, liquid gold, and fishermen boats.

13. Virtually any Michael Jackson song before 1996

My dad came home with a present: my first CD ever. Michael Jackson History. This is music. I watched too much VH1 as a child. Moonwalker was my favorite movie for quite some time and I knew a lot of True Hollywood Stories before I knew what the Hollywood ones were. I’m sorry but all these “artists” of today will never be MJ. Pharrell is trying and JT has his moments but no. Snoop Komodo Dragon will never be a legend.

14. Too Close- Alex Clare

You know that song that brings you out of a ditch after listening to it on repeat for 2 weeks straight? This was that song. It just couldn’t get loud enough. If I have hearing damage, it will be because of this jingle. I wouldn’t listen to it if I wasn’t in a place where I could scream along with it.

15. Don’t Speak – No Doubt

Crying on my friend’s couch after too much red wine. The radio was on and decided to play this. Let’s say it was bad timing? My friends might as well have broken the stereo considering the way they picked up on it before I did. One took care of the music while the other proceeded to body slam me with a hug. The wine kicked in and I was asleep shortly after on said couch.

16. Do I Wanna Know? – The Arctic Monkeys

On the way to Kfarmatta for a Sunday barbecue. We explored an old silk mill and it was the first time I had arak. The song went on to be my anthem that week at the office.

17. Kiss – Prince

I don’t understand how anyone can NOT dance to this if it’s ever playing. The Queen of England boogies to this. So I was stuck in traffic on Hamra Main Street with a few friends and Prince joins us. Naturally, we start singing and dancing our faces off while the friend in the back hid in the shadows because she was utterly mortified.

18. Lonely Boy – The Black Keys

Internship of 2012. Sitting in a room on the 8th floor with 4 other girls who you would not expect to be friends under normal circumstances. This is the beauty of being trapped in a room for extended periods of time – you find that you can actually meet cool people outside your immediate circle if you give them a chance. Thus, me doing the Lonely Boy dance with my fellow interns in the midst of our research.

19. #Beautiful – Mariah Carey ft Miguel

This was the song on the radio the first time I got in my second new car. Appropriate.

20. Monster Mash

Halloween at Knott’s Berry Farm. I was dressed up as a witch. Horrible black lipstick. Horrible costume. Horrible awkward preteen phase. Some poor souls performed this on stage while dressed up in tacky costumes and cheap makeup. Happy Halloween y’all.

Beaufort, Ghajar, and Fatima’s Gate

View from Beaufort
(click to enlarge)

Regardless of your religion, Eid holidays usually equal days off filled with grilled meats, ma3moul, and prayer. Sometimes, they also mean trips to villages to see the grandparents and mingle with the family. My sisters and I cut a deal with the parents this time around – we’ll go to the day3a under one condition: show us the land and tell us the story. For the sake of simplicity, I have referred to the disputed land of Israel/Occupied-Palestine as Israel. Follow me on Instagram for more pics!

1st stop: Beaufort Castle, Kalaat el Sha2if

steps to Israeli bunkers

A Crusader castle from the 12th century, Beaufort has been under-appreciated and neglected for decades. Up until recently, the castle was on the verge of entire ruin, slowly but surely becoming part of the mountaintop that it sits on at the edge of the village of Arnoun. Kuwait has generously stepped up to the plate to fund the renovation of the castle, salvaging what is left of the strategically placed structure that was also used as an Israeli look-out post and suffered earthquakes, historic battles, and heavy shelling in the 80s. Its Arabic name means “Castle of the High Rock”, sha2if being Aramaic for “High Rock”. The Israeli bunkers are still there and if you climb into them, you will understand why this was such a perfect location for surveying the area of Southern Lebanon & Northern Israel. The castle overlooks the entire valley around the Litani River and the views are nothing short of spectacular. Although this place doesn’t seem to be promoted as a touristic site, a tour bus pulled up on the first day of Eid while I was making my way to the top of the tower so maybe word is getting around. Definitely worth another visit in the springtime. Another blogger visited last year and has some more details on its history, you can check that out here.

2nd stop: Cruise along the Israel/Lebanon border

Metula & Kiryat Shmona

The border cuts through the Israeli town of Metula & the Lebanese village of Kfarkila, home of Fatima’s Gate. Driving along the greener part of the border away from the fence, you can get a full aerial view of the apple orchards in Metula. A resort vacation town with a line-up of model homes that resemble the Californian cliffs of Newport Beach, it is a Zionist* settlement whose founders were mostly Russian immigrants. Continuing up the mountain, you get to see past said border to the city known as Kiryat Shmona, a place Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah mentions in his speeches every once in a while. Kiryat Shmona used to be a bedouin village but is now home to a population of Jews of Moroccan descent, one-third of which is under the age of 19.

3rd stop: Town of Ghajar

Ghajar from a distance

Ghajar is an Arab village on the Hasbani River on the southern Lebanese border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Essentially, this town has been “owned” by Lebanon, Israel, Syria or all three at different points in time. The population of 2000 are mainly Alawite, or “followers of Ali” – a branch of Shiite Islam with the greatest following in Syria. According to some southern Lebanese, Ghajar never used to be a town. A group of nomadic people had set up camp in the area and eventually formed roots there and that’s where its name originates from. Ghajar refers to the nomadic gypsies or bedouins.  I find it quite amusing that they decided to become permanent residents on a slab of land that is located on a tri-border. The northern half of the town is in Lebanese territory and the southern half is in Israeli territory while the population considers themselves Syrian. The residents have both Syrian and Israeli citizenship.

You can drive all the way up to the outskirts of the town but you’re not allowed in. The road is blocked by the Lebanese Armed Forces and UNIFIL. As you get closer, they inquire if you’re lost because this road is blocked and leads to Israel. Their smile is their way of telling you to u-turn because you’re at the end of the line.  Ironically enough, the Lebanese men guarding the perimeter are not allowed within the town either.

4th stop: Fatima’s Gate, the Apartheid Wall of Lebanon

The New Berlin Wall


Prior to the Liberation of the South in 2000, this border was open and many Lebanese entered Israel looking for jobs and benefited from Israeli services (mostly medical). This was known as the “Good Fence Crossing” and allowed for export of goods from the Israeli port city of Haifa. After the Israeli withdrawal, the border was closed off. Good Fence Crossing became Fatima’s Gate after an injured woman who was on the border was asked “what’s your name?” upon being taken to a hospital in Haifa. Her name is actually Souhad and she was too afraid to give her real name to an Israeli.

The fence used to be just that; transparent and harmless with barbed wire at the top. You could see the look-out posts as you walk by and you could wave to the Humvees that drove along it every hour. A few years ago, large sections of concrete wall replaced the fence only within the town of Kfarkila creating a mini version of the Apartheid Wall in the West Bank. It was erected because of tensions in this particular part of the border. The wall has poor graffiti done by youngsters based on content, talent, and height. I smell an opportunity for a new Waiting for the Train exhibition here – much like the graffiti on the wall of Palestine.

Contact me if you’re interested, no joke.

In an earlier version of this post, the Zionist settlement was erroneously described as the “Jewish settlement.” The occupation is not about religion and we must avoid confusion of the two.

8 (More) Pet Peeves Resulting from your Facebook Newsfeed

Screen shot 2013-10-09 at 11.50.48 PM

It’s been a good 10 months since the first set of pet peeves but I just couldn’t wait a whole year to share these. That, and I’ve been posting about a lot of serious topics so it was time for a breather. Bring on the rant!

1. Using the word “dear”

I understand that this probably has to do with the French education system and the use of “cherie” but please stop using the word “dear” in English. You sound like my late grandmother and she was 72 sixteen years ago. This term of endearment is outdated and you shouldn’t use it if you are a) a member of Generation Y or b) pre-menopausal.

2. “Inbox Me”

But I don’t want to inbox you. At least buy me dinner first? This verbified version of the noun inbox sounds dirty and I mean Urban Dictionary dirty. Stop trying to make fetch inbox-me happen, it’s not going to happen.

3. @insertnamehere

There is no need to tag people on their own wallpost/photo/link. They’re going to be notified anyway, this is totally unnecessary. You have a Facebook account, you should know how it works. This is ❤ Likers’ evil cousin.

4. John Doe has invited you to like his new page The Dumpling Cardinals

Unless we see each other every weekend for the Friday wind down at Bodo, I will not like your page no matter how many times you invite me to. Improve your product, service, brand, blog or restaurant because if it were likable and I like it then I’ve already liked it. Don’t force it, just let things happen. TWSS.

5. Cursing with Asterisks

This is just as bad as cursing only you’re acknowledging that you’re using foul language. If people didn’t notice before, they will now because you’re using a digital highlighter with that puny star. If you’re going to curse, then do it or use a word close enough that people will get what you meant to type. Don’t wimp out on one letter. It’s no fun playing mental Wheel of Fortune when trolling comments. Buy a vowel. Go big or go home, p*ssy.

6. Newsfeed Flood

This is actually something I do. I’m completely aware of it and I’m sure I annoy people BUT theresjustsomuchhappeningontheinternetsIneedtoshoweveryone this interview…and this comic…and this Johnnie Walker ad, oh, oh and this article. Okay, I’m done. And btw, here’s my latest blogpost.

You need to be very selective with what and how often you share info so that you don’t desensitize your audience to all that awesome crap you’re sharing. You can go nuts on the Tweet button but FB will go numb unless you’re sharing super interesting BS posts. I didn’t think about the initials in the naming process. #fail

7. Feeling Add-on for a Status 

I’m sorry you don’t know how to express yourself using only words. Have you ever looked at those facial expressions? “Angry” and “annoyed” are the same constipated Grumpy Cat face. Those botoxed emoticons also have a very weird definition for “determined” and “accomplished” – what exactly did that pervy face just accomplish? Anyway, I hope they allow you to use emoticons during your wedding speech since you didn’t read enough as a child.

8. Candy Crush your face.

But no, seriously.

Educate Thyselves.

Three new albums for hip-hop. Thanks to the awesomeness that is Youtube and people who upload everything online so we can illegally download them, I have provided links to the full albums too. Download them while you can. If you like them, that is.

1. “Yeezus”, Kanye West

Oh Kanye, Kanye, Kanye. 808’s & Heartbreak, College Dropout, Kim Kardashian. He does crazy things. “Yeezus” is freaking weird but it should be listened to. More than once because the first time around is just going to leave you flabbergasted. Although he is certifiably insane, there is an incredible draw to someone who will take creative risks – the only snag is that he doesn’t believe they’re risks. Kanye has what is known as a God Complex. (Seriously, even CNN wrote a feature on it.) When someone thinks they are a god, they don’t see what they’re doing as a risk. They see it as a gift that is bestowed on the serfs of the mortal world. His woman may dress up like garage-sale-furniture, he may have weird erotic dreams involving mythical birds, and he’s probably going to have children in all directions in the next 10 years. But he is a god and you will take his golden nuggets of truth. You hate him but you love him because he keeps things interesting.

“Ye, you wanna do something for the release of your new single? But what?”

Why? Because Kanye, that’s why.

2. “Magna Carta Holy Grail”, Jay-Z

On a business level, that Samsung deal was smooth. Props, Jay. MCHG’s alright but honestly, with the hype and excitement that arose from the promo video, I am a tad disappointed. Rick Ross was born to rap those words but what the hell was that Nirvana thing you pulled with JT? I still can’t decide if I like it because I hated your version of “Jolene” at first but it grew on me. I’m still undecided and very attached to the Black Album. There’s just too much emotion here. I’m so confused, excuse me, I need a moment of clarity.

3. “Born Sinner”, J.Cole

This is just good. That is all.

If you’re not into this kinda shiz, listen to the Great Gatsby OST, subscribe to Teh Dubstep Channel or just go sing along to Selena Gomez.

My Email to the NSA

  Click for Source

Dear NSA,

I’m not going to expect you to read between the lines anymore. I know you’ve been reading my emails, screening my posts, and following my tweets. I know you have folders of my pictures dating back to when I was an awkward sophomore who mistakenly cut her own bangs and thought wearing her dad’s Champion socks was okay. I know you’ve saved some of my juicy gchats to keep you company on late nights. I know you read my blog and I’m sorry about my hating on GOT right before the massacre at the Red Wedding. I’m assuming you’re a fan because it’s all about the security of the realm and the defending of the throne; you know, your kinda thing. The season finale was still “meh” but I’m not going to poke at fresh wounds. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is the joke’s on you. All this time, I was trying to reach you indirectly; I was trying to get you to fall for me because I knew you were watching my every move. To put it simply, I was playing you and I was playing hard to get.

But enough playing.

I’m addressing this one straight to you and I’m putting it in plain English so you don’t have to decipher my codewords or dissect my convoluted prose. You don’t have to download entire threads and reread them to know what I’m actually saying to you without saying it. You don’t have to be confused or say, “chicks don’t know what they want, man.” I will spare you the hormones, the mood swings, and the spazzed cat GIFs.  I don’t simmer in a hot tub full of any of the aforementioned things – except the cat GIFs, I can’t get enough of those – so I think what I want is going to be very clear to you if you haven’t already figured it out. I want you to want me.

I love that you care so much about me. Others would call it a “pathetic obsession” or a “violation of privacy.” I think you’re protective and you’re just watching over me.  My security is as important as yours. It’s almost one and the same. I hope that I’m not the only special one out there; I do wish that every person gets to feel this sense of being watched over by someone else.

And I’m not afraid to say any of this flat out because the mere fact that you are still hanging on every word I say, that you are going to great lengths to see what I will do next, that I intrigue you to such an extent – all this tells me that you are hooked. You can’t stop thinking about me. You want to know every detail because it fascinates you. How could it not? I feel like I am your pot of gold, found on the other side of the rainbow of light that bursts out of a prism. So there is only one conclusion dear NSA: you’re in love with me.

But don’t fret. I’m in love with you too.


P.S. When I email myself, I think of you.

Cheers to Social Responsibility, Part II


Upon some more digging after my previous post, I found various other brand activations that were done to counter drunk-driving and other various road safety issues.Two are done by our local neighbors over in Dubai ( both are Nissan and are much better attempts than the activation done here last March). Check them out:

  • Tire Wreaths, Dubai (U.A.E.)

    By using the symbol for mourning, Nissan crafted old or worn out tires into floral wreaths to remind drivers to regularly change them and avoid bursted tire accidents. Although it’s not an active stunt and is only displayed in stores, it’s beautiful and functional. This is a great example of how design sends a message that can help others.

  •  Allianz Insurance DrunkMirror, Brazil

    Using the mirrors within clubs, people were given delayed reflections so they could see the effects of alcohol on their reflexes. Their tagline, “Getting home safely starts with a good look at yourself.” Watch it happen here. Good effort but it may have just been fun for tipsy people to play with their reflections – I don’t know if it really stopped the chugging.

  • Brandhouse Ziploc Bag

    Parked cars were placed in giant Ziploc bags as “evidence” of drunk-driving. A very simple stunt that gets a point across, although it doesn’t do a lot of difference. It’s a nice idea but there isn’t a lot of action involved. B+ for effort though.

  • Crash Text Dummies, Dubai (U.A.E.)

    Sculptures made out of scrapped car parts that formed the letters “FYI” made the rounds at Dubai universities to show the dangers of texting while driving. QR codes near the sculptures would take you to a website where you could share a pledge on your social networks. Like the Ziploc bag effort, the visual impact may get people thinking but it doesn’t physically stop them or help them in any way; however, when it comes to texting, prevention is quite a challenge. It’s been said that texting while driving is more dangerous than drunk-driving.

  • Responsible Young Drivers Parking Barrier, Brussels (Belgium)

    A parking barrier that only opens if you pass a breathalyzer test. Now THAT’S prevention.

  • More Beer Companies and their Responsibility Programs

    MillerCoors “Great Beer Great Responsibility”: MillerCoors beer company has implemented a full program of designated drivers and pledges against drunk-driving. “10 Million Strong” was started back in 2009 when they wanted to encourage 6 million people to take safe rides home between the period of 2009 to 2015. They’ve realized that they will reach that goal ahead of time and have raised the goal to 10 million.1-800-TAXICAB is a toll-free service they sponsor that connects callers to local taxi cab companies.“In 2011, consumers made 794,754 phone calls to 1-800-TAXICAB, visited the website more than 1.3 million times and used 1,877 discounted taxicab vouchers issued by MillerCoors.”

    Miller Lite Free Rides also helps drinkers get free rides home on public transportation during big sporting events or holidays ( including New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day, the evening of the Kentucky Derby and Halloween) in certain cities. Since it’s launch in ’88, they have expanded to new cities and “more than three million people have taken advantage of a safe ride through this program. In 2011 alone, we provided 556,675 free rides.”
    Read more about MillerCoors’ responsibility efforts here.

    Budweiser’s Anheuser-Busch has similar taxi programs and special deals where designated drivers get free non-alcoholic drinks at restaurants and pubs. It’s Washington D.C. organization SoberRide™ program “offers free cab-ride services to adults who may have had too much to drink. Since 1993, SoberRide™ has provided more than 50,000 free cab rides home to area residents, keeping potential drunk drivers off the road.”
    More info here.

    I don’t remember reading or hearing about any Lebanese social responsibility plans done by our local beer companies so I decided to investigate online. Unfortunately, when visiting Almaza’s website, there is no report on their social responsibility efforts towards drunk-driving or underage drinking. They do have a “responsibility” section but no activations or actual programs listed. 961 Beer’s website’s “Environment and Social Goals” page has no indication of any plans for such programs either and stresses more on the beer being made with local ingredients and being a promoter of the local artistic scene – which is good of them and very true, but I was hoping to see something gauged towards countering the negative aspects of alcohol. And although they started off with a cool visual campaign, Lebanese Brew doesn’t even have a full website – just a Facebook page and apps.

    So my question is this: Which Lebanese Beer company is going to step up to the plate first?

Cheers to Social Responsibility


According to an excerpt in Levitt & Dubner’s “SuperFreakonomics”*, drunk-walking is more dangerous than drunk-driving when considered on a per-mile basis. In fact, a drunk walker is 8x more likely to get killed. The only plus side to this odd factoid is that the drunk walker usually only inflicts harm on his/herself but not the same can be said about drunk drivers.

Drunk-driving is a huge social issue and public transportation is an infrastructural necessity especially in a country the size of Lebanon. Implementing other means of transportation that do not rely on your own motor skills (your’s and your vehicle’s) being at 100% efficiency, could contribute to decreasing the number of accidents and deaths due to driving under the influence.

Various international campaigns launched by alcoholic beverage companies are pushing for more responsible after-party choices when it comes to transporting your drunk-self home. Most of the agencies behind these campaigns use the idea of a trade-in option in order to get drinkers to opt for a safer ride through public transportation.

For example, during Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival, Antarctica, a Brazilian beer company, had its customers pay their metro fare using empty beer cans. “The Beer Turnstile” used the simple trade of a can for a ride: the can was scanned at the turnstile and the drinker could go home for free. The initiative led to a 43% drop in caught drunk drivers. Another beer company, Stiegl from Austria, replaced its product labels with tickets to use on the Salzburg public transportation system. Yes, these are huge PR stunts and get the brands, and their respective ad agencies, the coveted “socially responsible” stamp; however, a good deed is a good deed. Many lives were probably saved thanks to ideas like these.

Although Kunhadi’s drunk-driving TVC/Billboard campaigns are very powerful with their use of imagery and devastating story lines, the tone is on the heavy and somber side. Their Taxi Nights, parties that provide taxi rides home for all attendees, are great steps in the right direction that actually make a change on the ground where the real danger is. And let’s not forget the Ashekman graffiti piece that was commissioned early last month. It must be said though that Kunhadi is a non-profit organization that fights for road safety. They are not a brand so their approach differs than that of a beer company or any consumer good.

The Nissan “Suggest an Arrest” stunt in Uruguay Street addressed the problem by allowing friends to volunteer a drunk friend for a sobriety test. If they failed, they were driven home in a new Nissan. The activation, which took place during the month of March, was a nice try but they pushed their product to an unsusceptible customer, a drunk driver. Even if their heart was in the right place, the focus was more on the car and the PR attention rather than the desire to spread a message or change behavior.

Perhaps the government or private investors can help get public transportation implemented in a country, or at least a city, that is in desperate need of traffic relief, reduced carbon emissions, and a safer more economically feasible way of getting around. Perhaps more laws can be enforced when it comes to road violations, reckless driving, and distribution of DUIs & license confiscation. Perhaps, the most likely and doable “perhaps” given the ever-present cloud of doom over our Lebanon, more brands can jump on the fight-drunk-driving bandwagon provided that what they’re doing is relevant to their product and overall campaign idea. It doesn’t really matter if, deep down, they’re doing it to look good or to have the general public opinion shift to “bravo, bifakro bi ghayron”** – if it makes sense and causes more drinkers to be responsible, it’s a win-win.

*I definitely recommend this book and it’s prequel “Freakonomics” if you like reading books that make you think that all things are conspiracies and WTF MIND BLOWN.

**Arabic for “they think of others”

Game of Thrones: Meh.

Warning: this post is a semi-rant about the +18 TV series Game of Thrones. No point, I just need to vent.

  • Every episode is an average of 41 minutes of the same thing and it’s too slow. Tywin Lannister should throw his 3 advisory stooges into the dungeons, ship off his blaspheming blonde offspring, and let Dinklage rule. Tywin’s like Scar from the Lion King but without the beautiful mane and Jeremy Irons’ voice.
  • Cersei Lannister moves her mouth a la Kiera Knightley when she speaks only she doesn’t smile as much and I have this infantile urge to pull her hair. Granny Tyrrell is awesome which means Cersei will probably have her killed. It’s enough that they killed Baywatch Hawaii and now we’re left with the human incestuous version of Prince-Charming-from-Shrek as male eye-candy. Stop killing the ones people like.
  • The direwolves would be much cooler if they didn’t already make a guest appearance in the Twilight series. Also, Bran’s new warg friend would be more badass if we could forget him as the cute drummer kid from Love Actually but we can’t. And OF COURSE, we learn what a warg is in the same episode where we learn that Bran is a warg. How convenient.
  • Who’s the next Downton Abbey cast member to join GOT? My money’s on Sybil.
  • Although this is all fictional and it’s clearly gibberish, everyone would like to speak Valyrian and have an army of Dothraki. And your name will be Farrya Baratheon, originally of House Targaryen. No? Okay, it’s just me. I want dragons.
  • This show makes your imagination violent. You imagine deathmatches between characters. For example, Catelyn Stark destroys Cersei and orders Brienne to off that Fire Priestess chick because there’s only one redhead in this realm *snaps in Z-formation* And the eunuch kills Lord Baelish because of the beautiful irony of it: Brothel owner, who’s nickname is “Littlefinger”, dies by the hand of a castrated dude.
  • “Only the ladder is real. Climb is all there is.” Word.
  • Sansa needs to stop being manipulated by sweet boobyful Marjorie. You all know she’s evil, did the Tudors teach you nothing? Natalie Dormer never plays a good person.
  • “Why am I still watching this? Screw it, I’m gonna watch Scandal because I’m a gladiator in a suit.” – if this thought runs through your mind while watching an episode then we are on the same page and probably prefer stuff on the CW or anything with lots of guns and pinstripes.