Birds of Prey

Over the next two days I’ll be posting about birds of prey which is an important part of Emirati culture and history and still big business. At Al Maha resort, attending a falconry display is one of the (included) activities to help guests engage with the desert and its wildlife. In the past, the Bedouin people […]

Of vipers, chandeliers and unicorns…

Something you should know about deserts. There’s sand everywhere. Everywhere! Three kinds, in fact, in the deserts of Dubai. And one of those sands is this fine, almost talcum-powdery type sand that gets into everything. No matter how hard you work to keep it out. I liked this sand because its advanced state of erosion […]

Of camels and honeymoon-bombing

Important things to know about camels in case you ever find yourself fleeing across the Arabian desert in an emergency. 1. They stand up back legs first – this means that if you’re not leaning back you’ll go pitching forward and off into the sand. Ask me how I know…go on…   No, I didn’t actually […]

The Desert Requires a Sacrifice

Where were we from yesterday?  Oh, that’s right… Oh my freaking non-specific Ramadan-respecting deity! The suites..! The regular suites at Al Maha are identical (though the colour scheme changes) and equally stunning. Furnished only with traditional furniture and with all the mod-cons discretely incorporated there was nothing that the suite hadn’t thought of before I […]

Desert…beautiful desert…

Thanks to a series of technology failures, I wasn’t able to blog as I had hoped on my recent trip to Dubai and Wales. So I’m going to blog retrospectively in day-sized bites for those who were looking forward to following my trip. Just imagine I’m still there. In spirit, I kind of am. DUBAI/UAE […]

Actually, everyone expected the Spanish Inquisition

Priests and clerics—good men of ‘God’—were required to attend seminaries where they were taught how to inflict the most pain possible on another human being. This is how important it was to them that people publicly confessed and recanted their beliefs in order to reinforce the social rules. Torture to gain the confession was often […]

Why public executions are a great idea

What use was getting a confession out of someone in private, why put someone out of view in a penitentiary that no-one ever wants to go to and let their punishment be prolonged and purposeless? It’s just plain costly to keep them incarcerated. No…the people of the middle ages were nothing if not economists. They went for […]

Murder vs. Heresy

There was no crime greater in the middle ages than to be accused of heresy. People would rather be accused of murder.  Why? Murder was a violation of a social law. You were punished and could potentially re-enter society after it. Murder also came with a bunch of evidentiary requirements. Heresy, on the other hand, […]

The difference between ‘bad’ and ‘evil’

One of the three key ways to look at social deviance is absolutism – the idea that there are some tenets or rules of existence that are immutable and universal regardless of culture, gender or persuasion. Absolutists believe that there are no conditions under which deviating from these norms is acceptable. Generally, deviance within the […]

Measures of ‘normalcy’

The people or groups establishing ‘norms’ generally have social power (either through numbers or authority) which makes them automatically prejudiced. Normally you would turn to statistics to help inform societal norms but the issue here is that any statistical study of deviance is already prejudiced by our societal norms. Who decides that drug-use is more interesting, statistically, than toe-length? […]