Tuesday, November 29, 2005

My Stalker

A friend of mine recently asked me why there was ALWAYS someone from the UK viewing my blog, and whether it was me? Its weird, because everytime I view my blog, theres always 2 people from the UK - me and someone else...my mysterious stalker! I have no idea why this is the case, but it is for some reason...can anyone explain it?!

Posted by illogicist at 12:34 AM 6 comments

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Library On Sundays

Apologies that all my blogposts seem to be about the library these days, but there you go. You are what you eat, and I'm on a steady diet of graphs, equations and background noise.

Its fairly empty - mostly postgrads. I'm sitting in the cafe (my 2nd fav. place). Out of about 11 people there, about 6 are muslims - sort of unexpected, but not suprising I suppose. Even now theres four guys next to me on the next PC talking in a foreign language (Turkish im guessing) but who did say Salam Aleikum when they came in. Interesting, again not suprising.

There are definitely more muslims on campus this year. I think I mentioned before that its suprising when a day goes past and I dont see at least 2 or 3 muhajjaba girls. Theres more arabs too - last year I barely saw any, this year I see em often. Usually post graduates - but the suprising thing is I also see postgrad arab women, something virtually unknown last year. Its suprising the changes that can happen in a year, eh?

Oh, the other big influx of arabs is foundation students. Most of these may move on to other universities, some may stay, but I think its unlikely that the the overall number of arab undergrads will change too much next year. But then again you never know.

Does anybody else get this? When I study, things in the background blur. People speaking English behind me just now, I couldnt understand a word they were saying. I was sure it was english, but I didnt know what was being said! Same with a group of students speaking arabic - it just blurred. Arabic it was for sure - caught a few words here and there, but beyond that...

I take it as a good sign - means I'm immersed in my studies, lol.

Posted by illogicist at 5:53 AM 5 comments

Thursday, November 24, 2005

My Space!

My special space in the library has been invaded by loud, ignorant louts!

Theres this place in the library which I find is the absolute perfect space for me to study. Its quiet, but not too quiet. Its a large table where about 8 people can sit at the same time. So you can sit with a friend and study together, if any of you has a question you can ask it quietly without people giving you glaring looks. Its not too quiet in that theres photocopiers near it, so theres background noise, which I find great. I always study there.
But, ever since last week, this group of evil math students have invaded the area. Theres about six of them, and their ringleader, this absolute witch of a bitch, does NOT SHUT THE HELL UP! It would be bad enough if it was a murmur, but theres always a constant stream of absolute nonsense, completely not work related, streaming out of that whiny chasm of noise that I suppose she calls a mouth.
WHY WHY WHY do some people have no respect for others? Can't they see that there are other people studying there, people that actually have something to do? My God, shes got my blood racing. I HATE inconsiderate people. The other day I was studying there and there was this guy chewing, with his mouth wide open, just going 'chluck chluck chluck', you know that disgusting chewing, saliva sound that stupid people make when they impersonate goats.

I HATE OTHER PEOPLE INVADING MY PRIVATE STUDY SPACE!!!!!

*goes off to kick something, preferably something that won't kick back*

Posted by illogicist at 5:35 AM 5 comments

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

...when nothing suprises you anymore

NP - Immortal Technique - Revolutionary Vol. 2

It happens often to me - I get amazed by something thats so unlikely, I say to myself that nothing could possibly suprise me. It happens every now and then, and always later on something else happens that just leaves me speechless. In the past week, hell in the past three days I've been left speechless three times. I'd like to think that I've seen it all now, I'll never be suprised again, but again I know, maybe next week, hell maybe tomorrow something'll happen that'll leave me speechless once more.

I guess its just nice to know that life still has some surprises in store for you.

Posted by illogicist at 3:04 PM 3 comments

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Brief Reordering

I've reordered my favourite blogs list slightly, perhaps to better represent the ones I read most often, and I've deleted some redundant blogs (until they're updated that is).

Check 'em out, they're my favourites for a reason.

Posted by illogicist at 4:16 PM 7 comments

Monday, November 21, 2005

Secularism - Religious Freedom or Religious Denial?

After the riots in France theres a lot of talk these days about secularism and whether it still works. In France, after the French Revolution there was a strict separation of Church (taken to mean all forms of religion) and state. Even now in France census surveys do not register religion, race, creed.

Now, heres the question. This 'colourblindness', does is serve to even everyone out, saying there is no difference between all people? Or is it just 'blindness' pretending that because you cant see the problem, it doesn't exist?

The recent riots certainly showed that problems of racism and discrimination (and, unavoidably, issues of religion) do in fact exist. Theres a fairly large Muslim underclass in areas of France, an underclass that is increasingly restless. But it may have more to do with simply poverty, lack of education and unemployment, as some commentators suggest.

Consider two cities in France: Marsielle and Nice. About 1/4 of Marsielle's 800 000 inhabitants are muslim. Unemplyment is high, at 14% more than 1/3 higher than the national average. Its a polarised society, with about 20% of the inhabitants supporting the right-wing, anti-immigration National Front. And yet Marsielle barely suffered from the riots that shook France. Nice, a much richer town with lower unemployment, was hit pretty hard.

The difference? Marsielle is more friendly towards other religions and nationalities, at least on a governmental level. The mayor supports religious groups and efforts of dialog and expression. Nice, on the otherhand, does not. The mayor of Nice once said in 2000 that, "Mosques, as places of worship, have no place in a secular republic". The mayor has repeatedly blocked efforts of Muslims to open mosques in the city. The Mayor of Marsielle, on the other hand, on hearing complaints that Marsielle had no Grand Mosque, offered to lease out an abandoned slaughterhouse for a token rent. Were it not for the laws of France banning the government giving away this kind of thing for groups that exlude others (i.e. not all people can use them), the Mayor would have given it away for free. Now the offer is 99 year lease for a token fee (it still has not been made a Mosque, however, because of arguing between different anti-immigrant groups, strict secularists, and some Islamic groups who believe the site is unclean because it was a slaughterhouse).

Even the language of secularism doesn't seem to be appropriate for todays sensitive world. Secularism attempts to defeat polarisation and differences between people. The 'melting pot' approach is supposed to mix all cultures and religions - a noble ideal, except that what it usually does is not mix all cultures and differences, but eliminate alien ones, replacing them with national standards. It treats differences, beliefs, ideologies as things that may be discarded with enough effort, and yet this is not the case. Religion, particularly to Muslims, is a key to identity, and can not be eliminated. In the past it could be suppressed or stifled, but nowadays the issue is so sensitive that that alternative is no longer possible.

What needs to be done is respect these differences, celebrate them, and protect them. The last part - protect them - is crucial. Both from themsellves and from each other. Many muslims blame the Palestinian situation not on the policies of a fascist regime, but on a religion (Judaism). They wrongfully take revenge on Judaism and Jews. Also, a number of muslims have particularly perverted views about women, and seek to enslave them. Other cultures and religions have their own issues too, as demonstrated by the 'witchdoctor' issues in Afro- Caribbean societies in the UK last year.

What is the government to do? Actively step-in, promote, protect? Maybe. Maybe not. I believe the government should not take an active role in promotion, but should provide legislation that protects religions and races, and gives them the freedom to practice and celebrate themselves. Not stifle them, as in the case of the French ban on headscarves, and pretend they do not exist.

It is indeed a sensitive issue, and very difficult to tackle. I offer no solutions because I have none, merely a first step, a step I believe is in the right direction, and that is to acknowledge that we are all different, and stop trying to fit everyone into the same mold. Because otherwise, inevitably, that mold will break.

Posted by illogicist at 5:11 AM 2 comments

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Bleach

NP - Guns N' Roses - Welcome To The Jungle

I cleaned the bathroom today. I had to use some bleach on stuff, and the smell of that bleach, my God, it brought back memories. Memories of when I was eight till about twelve maybe. Every friday my dad used to take me and my brother swimming at the staff club where he works. When I smelt that bleach, it was exactly the same smell of that pool...which is a scary thought really, since bleach isnt exactly skin-friendly, but they were friendly memories. I remember one of my dad's friends used to come on some fridays and bring his two sons with him. One of them got a scholarship this year to study medicine in the US, which is quite a shock, since I always remember him as being that skinny kid, even when he outgrew me.

But yeah, the memories of those place are really great. One thing I loved was the pepper steak the restaurant there used to take. I swear it took at least 40 minutes for those guys to actually get the thing to you, but it was delicious. Another of my memories is divebombing into the pool when I was younger...I loved that. Also, sometimes we used to get a bodyboard, and someone would pull the board from outside all around the edge of the pool, with someone on it. Also I remember my dad telling me to try to practice swimming laps in the pool instead of just splashing about. I never did. Oh another thing I remember :D this one is great, when there were four of us, we'd get into two teams, one person gets on the shoulders of the other, and we try to make the other team fall over. The team with my brother on it always won... (funny, I actually played that game 2 years back, except instead of always being the guy on top this time I was supporting someone else's weight...how things change).

Oops, gotta go, housemates are back and the kitchen isnt fully clean yet!

Posted by illogicist at 9:58 AM 4 comments

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Blogga in da House fo' Shizzle

I love blogger :D

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Seriously though, am I the only one whos noticed that these word verification things all have words in them, or look like they are based on real words? No way are they just random letters...

Posted by illogicist at 2:12 PM 1 comments

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

...and today we cooked

Took about 3 hours to make a very simple meal, and two trips to the nearby shop, but it was well worth it :D not the first time I cook, but today was like all-out, me and my housemate (none of us cook) worked like hell to put together a pretty damn good plate.

And I'm proud of me :D

Posted by illogicist at 4:05 PM 9 comments

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Polyamorous

http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,1641613,00.html

I cant be bothered to comment right now, but this is...very sad if you ask me.

Posted by illogicist at 1:48 PM 2 comments

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Post About Extremists

Last night we witnessed a triple suicide bombing in Amman, the capital of Jordan. The debate continues to rage as to whether Islam is a 'dangerous religion' that preaches hate and anger and murder all in the name of a malevolent god. The riots in France have already been twisted into an 'Islamist' agenda to wage Jihad on the streets of Paris (while I have no doubt that certain terrorist elements may be maximising their involvement in the whole affair).

But my main question - a very relevant question I think - is why aren't the moderate and REAL muslims standing up and speaking out? Why are we being drowned out by the terrorist element? I think most rational people know that Islam, like any religion, is not about death destruction and violence. It teaches the same core fundamentals as pretty much every other religion, of peace and love. So why this?

The vast majority of muslims are against terrorism, but many muslims feel bitter and angry about American foreign policy. They, we, feel that America runs rampant over countries, cultures and civilisations and bends them towards dong their will, even using violent means to do so. Most of us were against the war in Iraq. Few muslims thought of Saddam as a hero (and those that did were pretty ignorant about what was going on within Iraq; they only knew Israel), but in such a situation, theres the whole 'enemy of my enemy' mentality, which is extremely unfortunate.

The mass export of Western culture is something most muslims I know do not like as well. Culture, or as we see, lack thereof. Someone once gave a wonderful description of what he considered 'melting pot' to really mean. A melting pot is when you throw everything into a 'pot' and eventually all the ingredients just meld into one colour, eliminating all culture and identity and individuality of what goes in. Integrate can mean, lose your identity and become one of us. This is something that is a real worry to many muslims living in Western countries, because from what they see, integrate means drop your inhibitions to drinking and sensibilities towards women. 'Liberate thyselves!' means take off your hijabs - and all your clothes for that matter, so that you can be oogled and harassed by men (and women nowadays), because this is what makes you free and independent. We respect you because you're naked and ready.

Whether I agree with the above descriptions or not are irrelevant: many muslims see it this way. Rather than celebrating their culture and respecting differences, theyre asked to conform. However, for the average person, this does not cause them to turn to terrorism. Something much deeper must make one turn to terrorism, a deep insecurity perhaps. I wouldn't know.

But why is it we are afraid to speak louder than these terrorists? There are many voices speaking out, but none of them are heard. Is it because actions speak louder than words? These terrorists are not afraid to kill anyone and everyone who goes against them. Facing that prospect, nobody wants to do more than whisper really. Or is it because theres always a clause? A 'but'? We condemn terrorism BUT etc. etc. I dont know. I feel a lot of the so-called representatives of the muslim world dont represent anyone at all. We have bad representatives trying to straddle a middle line of appeasing both terrorists and Western leaders, while forgetting that theyre supposed to be representing the modern, average-Joe muslims. The fact that we're not completely united is another issue. Even within muslim sects there are divisions that keep them apart. Perhaps we need a figurehead to represent us, but the danger with that is not finding a leader whos suitable.

Who can say. The point is that I think the terrorists speak louder than the majority of us simply because they have no fear of death and reputation and what not, while for us, we're afraid of consequences. So whats the solution?

Posted by illogicist at 3:42 AM 2 comments

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

An Economist on Geopolitics

I was reading the Wall Street Journal Europe while having lunch today, and I came across a very interesting interview with a Nobel Prize-Winning economist, Thomas Schelling. He had some very interesting things to say about the prospects of Nuclear War, Iran and North Korea, and global warming. Not the stuff you'd usually hear on the news, and the fact that it comes from a very reliable source makes it doubly interesting. I was ready to type the whole interview out, but I found it online, so here's the article...please have a read, its very interesting indeed:

-------------

Years before he wrote the "Wealth of Nations," Adam Smith, the intellectual father of capitalism, wrote a lesser-known text called "The Theory of Moral Sentiments," which sought to explain why self-interested individuals might have feelings like pity or compassion for others.
Ever since, economists have been trying to predict and explain how individuals interact. To understand markets, they recognized, they needed to understand what lay hidden in the minds and motivations of people. Game theory, which became popular 200 years after Adam Smith, was an example. It sought to explain how individuals plot strategies against each other in simple games like chess and deadly games like the nuclear-arms race. As an indication of game theory's importance, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences last month awarded the Nobel Prize for economics to trailblazers in the field, Thomas Schelling and Robert Aumann.

Their work has been applied to everything from business strategy to bankruptcy. But it was in the geopolitical realm where the theorists made some of their biggest marks. Both came of age during the Cold War, when the arms race posed the most important strategic questions of the time. Geopolitics also is where their insights are especially valuable today, as political and business leaders try to understand how their decisions about terror, North Korea's nuclear ambitions and global warming could affect the economic landscape in decades to come.
In an interview, Prof. Schelling said terrorism isn't a big threat, but global warming might be. He also advocated U.S. participation in black markets for nuclear-fissile material. (Read excerpts from an additional interview with Prof. Aumann.)

Q: How have the rules of the game of nuclear deterrence changed now that the players are countries like Iran and North Korea, instead of the Soviet Union a generation ago?
Prof. Schelling: I think if Iran or North Korea gets nuclear weapons, they will think of them as deterrent weapons. They won't want to get into any kind of nuclear war. They won't want to use those weapons. They will want to use them to keep Russia or the U.S. from intervening militarily, and we will learn what it is like being deterred not by a highly qualified adversary, but by a couple of small inimical countries. We may have to get used to that.

Q: There's also this concern that North Korea or Iran could become involved in illicit trade in nuclear weapons?
Prof. Schelling: I have a hunch that if there ever appeared to be a black market in fissile material or in actual bombs, that the U.S. would have the good sense and the cleverness and the ability to enter the black market and engage in what we used to call preclusive purchases. During World War II there were a lot of natural resources, mostly minerals, that the Germans badly needed, and the U.S. had a program of buying up those materials, not because we wanted them but because we wanted to keep them out of the hands of the Germans. I would think that we would be able to outbid anybody that wanted to buy a nuclear weapon. If North Korea thinks it can sell a nuclear weapon for $1 billion, we ought to be in there offering $5 billion so nobody could top that bid.

Q: That sounds like a slippery slope. How is the Bush administration doing managing the changing nuclear threat?
Prof. Schelling: It's perfectly clear that it's had no success in Iran, and it's had no success in North Korea. Whether that's because it's doing it badly or because it's an impossible task, I don't know. I tend to think that it is not being very pragmatic about North Korea. We really ought to give North Korea some kind of nonaggression assurance... We should volunteer it, on grounds that the primary motivation for North Korea to get a nuclear weapon is to make sure the U.S. can never attack. If they were to take seriously a nonaggression treaty, they might feel less need to have a nuclear weapon.

Q: Doesn't that just invite other players into the game?
Prof. Schelling: I don't think so. Who? Brazil? Argentina? Bangladesh? Who wants to get into the game? It is not a good game to get into.

Q: In the case of terrorism more broadly, we're dealing with an enemy that doesn't seem to be bound by the same sense of self-preservation that we're accustomed to from an enemy.
Prof. Schelling: It is important for us, the potential victims, to recognize that with the exception of the Twin Towers in New York, terrorism is an almost minuscule problem. [John] Mueller, at Ohio State University, estimates that the number of people who die from terrorist attacks is smaller than the number of people who die in their bathtubs. If you take the Trade Towers, we lost about 3,000 people. Three thousand people is about 3½ weeks of automobile fatalities in the U.S. If you rank all of the causes of death in the U.S. or around the world, different kinds of accidents, drowning, falling down stairs, automobile accidents, struck by lightning, heart attacks, infections acquired during hospital surgery, terrorism is way down at the bottom.

Q: Then what are the biggest issues globally that need to be attacked?
Prof. Schelling: A big problem is going to be climate change. We're going to spend a long time trying to figure out what to do about it. I don't think we have any idea yet what to do about it. In the second half of the 20th century, arms control was the most demanding diplomatic issue there was. In the 21st century, greenhouse-gas emissions, global warming and climate change is going to be the biggest diplomatic issue there is.

Q: But you've also said that you don't expect global warming to severely impact the developed economies because agriculture is such a small portion of our output?
Prof. Schelling: It's a very severe threat to a lot of developing countries. For many of them, 30% of their gross product is agriculture or fisheries or forestry. In many countries half the people depend on agriculture for subsistence. In this country, so few people depend on agriculture for their living that the Census Bureau no longer counts farmers. So I think even if in this country global warming doubles the cost of growing food, that would reduce [gross domestic product] by between 1% and 2%, and that would happen over a period of years in which GDP would double. So instead of doubling by 2060, you would double by 2061 or 2062. You would never notice a difference.

Q: Why is it such a big threat then?
Prof. Schelling: In the U.S., if you don't worry about ecological damage, species extinction and things of that sort; if you don't worry about what happens in Bangladesh or Indonesia or Brazil; if you figure air conditioning will always take care of your weather problems; then I would say with one or two exceptions, you probably don't have to get too scared. One exception is there is a body of ice in Antarctica called the West Antarctic ice sheet. It is anchored by some islands, but warming the water surrounding it might cause it to slide into the ocean. The estimate is that that would raise sea level by as much as 20 feet. That means to go from the White House to the Capitol, you go by boat. It would be a huge calamity.


-------------

http://online.wsj.com/article_print/SB113132305200889621.html

Posted by illogicist at 4:31 AM 0 comments

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Eid Mubarak =)

While for me Eid is tomorrow (long, complicated, just accept it), I'll just wish all the rest of you a big fat

EID MUBARAK! :D

Posted by illogicist at 1:42 AM 10 comments

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Photo-Blog!

Np - Steven Wilson - Thank You (Alanis Cover)

I'm in the mood to post some pictures! Apologies to those of you with rubbish connections, I'm just in such a good mood today its unbelievable, lol. Good mood led to a productive day, which puts u in an even better mood...and it continues :) Apologies for the low quality, all the following pics were taken with my Nokia 6230. P.S. I would use thumbnails, but for some reason I dont like em. Maybe in future.

I dont know if i posted this one before, but I took it during my easter vacation way back, in Oman. I think its a great sunset pic :)

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Next pic, me walking to campus this morning. Its blurry, and doesnt look so good big, when small (like a thumbnail) it looks pretty neat.

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This one was taken today on campus. It was raining quite heavily, and I think that somehow caused the colour-bleeding-acid effect thingy you can on some of the trees.

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One of the trees on campus. I LOVE the colour of the leaves - it'll only look like that for a couple more days before all the leaves fall off...and it'll be another year before it ever looks like this again. Thats why I love this time of the year - everything is so beautiful for such a short period of time, so precious.

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The ice cream i was eating earlier...yum!

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My lecture notes yesterday...yes shameful, but I was bored and fasting and it was the 2nd double lecture of the day...gimme a break :s

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ermm..this is..my housemate spilling icecream on his best shirt :p lol

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We had a HUGE fire on campus early on sunday morning. I was gonna make a long post about it and the day that followed, but I couldnt be bothered, and it wasnt really interesting except on a personal level. anyway, here is the building in front of the one that caught fire. The fire was on the other side of this picture, so as u can imagine it was pretty intense.

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This is my mouse! I think its the coolest thing ever. Its not this bright with the lights on, of course. I put my camera on night vision to intensify the light. My mouse does not blind me every time I sit on the PC.

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This is my favourite tree (it doesnt look like this anymore, all the leaves have fallen off...like I said early, its so temporary). The natural effects on this are pretty funky indeed.

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With this picture, I dont think anyone can ever call me unpatriotic :p

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Another funky trees picture:

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And finally, my account balance at the end of the exams last year. It was a particularly costly month, with me having to pay for storage of my stuff over the summer and whatnot. And THIS is the amount of money i had in my account for the whole summer :p its a wonder the bank didnt fine me for it.

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Well thats it for now really. Sorry for that long post. But hey, I liked it, so if you didnt, tough :p

Posted by illogicist at 2:15 PM 6 comments

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