Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Everyone's had difficulty sleeping at one point or another in their lives. You'd think that eventually you get used to it, but I'm not sure you ever do. So for the past 2 hours I've been lying down, trying to fall asleep. And its almost funny, or would be funny if it wasnt so damn frustrating, how, when trying to fall asleep, you're never more awake.

So, 2am. Lie down. The room feels too bright tonight. Theres no more light than usual, all is dark except the light from the corridor outside, streaming in from under the door. But tonight it just feels a little brighter than usual. If I was smart, I would've taken it as a sign, a big neon sign that says YOURE GETTIN NO SLEEP TONIGHT BUDDY. But, of course, I think nothing of it. Turn so that my back is facing the light, and close my eyes.

And open my eyes. Click, click, click. Somethings clicking. Somewhere in front of me. What could it be? Is it my cat, sitting on the windowsill? Is she click-click-clicking her claws against the double-glazing? Is it the CD cases on my bed just a few inches away, sliding against each other as the bed moves under my breathing? Or is it something more sinister - a bogeyman, waiting for me to drift into unconciousness, so that he can crawl under the covers and dance on my bellybutton? Well, no such luck, Mr. Bogeyman, theres no sleep for me tonight.

Forget the clicking, turn the other way, you wont hear it. Except now the light is back in my eyes, and the sporadic crackling of my AC is bothering me. I contemplate turning it off, but that'd be pretty stupid, for obvious reasons. Wheres the cat. Is she still on the windowsill? I wish this light would just go away. Even with my eyes closed, its creating patterns under my eyelids. I could turn it off, but I'm supposed to be sleeping. And the more I move, the further I am from it.

And its funny how when you sleep, all your thoughts and worries and hopes flit through your mind, too slow to be ignored, to fast to hold on to. Some random thought will come, flirt with your consciousness, and be gone before you have time to grasp it, replaced by another flirtatious little tidbit.

Roll onto my back. Now I have the clicking of the CDs-slash-bogeyman on my right, and the crackling of the AC on my left. Maybe they'll cancel each other out. Counting sheep. What a good idea. It always works in the cartoons, right? The first few sheep (read: few thousand) are okay, but then they start to look like goats. Whats the difference between a sheep and a goat anyway? How can I not know? Maybe this is a good sign - maybe I'm falling asleep. Oh look, they're sheep again. Wait, no they're not, not anymore...what is that? Looks like some curious mix of the two. I wonder if thats possible. Can sheep and goats mate? Dammit, looks like I'm all out of sheep. Or goats. Shoats?

Time for another plan. Breathing exercises. Yes! This's worked before! Ok, so deep breaths. Deeeeeep breaths. Feel the tension leave your body. Breathe in...picture the air flowing through your limbs like water, filling every pore. Now breathe out, and with that water, expel all the tension. Let it all go. Now try alternating your breathing through your nostrils. Breathe in left. Breathe out right. Breathe in right. Breathe out left. Breathe in left...dammit, blocked nostril! WHY do my nostrils block randomly?

Open eyes. Get up. Turn off corridor light. Pick up book, read book, put down book, do situps, get tired, move CDs so that they stop making that horrible noise, get back in bed, close eyes, breeeeeaaaaaathe....

Click, click, click.

It's gonna be a long night.

Posted by illogicist at 4:23 AM 8 comments

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Obadiah Parker

One of my friends emailed me this video, I thought it was awesome.

Posted by illogicist at 1:19 AM 3 comments

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

NP - Agalloch - Falling Snow

I seem to be getting back into this blogging thing. I know what it is: for me personally, I cant plan posts. They have to be spontaneous. If theres a thought in my head I want to blog about, there has to be a computer nearby. Otherwise I either lose interest or forget what it is.

Anyway, I was reading 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin', and theres this bit where one of the characters is describing life in the army. It threw my mind back to 'Jarhead' which I read about a month or so ago. Its pretty interesting how they describe life in the army, both of them. One of the biggest aspects they talk about is the lack of women, and the almost obsession soldiers have with them. It seems, without exception, they all start to see women as being objects of sexual fantasy. It also seems that they all have unfaithful girlfriends back home. Jarhead is really interesting in that it really delves deep into the psychological aspect of it. It paints a picture that left in me an impression of total despair and destitution. That these soldiers are resigned to their fate. That everything is screwed. If anyone's seen the Jarhead movie, I'd have to say that it doesnt even come close to describing what the book is trying to describe.

The character in Captain Corelli's Mandolin casually mentions that the soldiers come to love each other, one of the reasons being because they need each other, and they're "in the same shit together". Its interesting because I thought a lot about this yesterday, after watching this movie called 'Sorry, Haters'. If you dont want to know what happens in this movie or what the twists are all about, you might want to stop here, cause the rest of this blogpost is about that.

Its a pretty interesting movie, I'll just say that. Anyway, the antagonist/protagonist in the movie is this woman who feels totally unwanted, unloved, unneeded. The one time she meant anything to anyone was on september 11th, when her totally dominating friend turned to her for consolation. At that time in her life, she felt needed.

One of the DVD extras was a round-table discussion about the themes of the movie, and they discussed this. One of the participants didnt believe it was a true phenomenon, but I think it is. I think you can always see it: after sept 11, everyone put aside their differences and pulled together. Same with the tsunami. An overwhelming sense of 'community' comes over people, which fades after the tragedy has passed somewhat. Relating this to the line in Captain Corelli's Mandolin about soldiers at war, it just seems to make sense to me. But its an interesting thought: do we need tragedy? Does it serve some purpose in our communal lives?


Posted by illogicist at 1:14 AM 0 comments

Monday, August 14, 2006

An Issue of Trust

NP - RHCP - Tell Me Baby

Its interesting how, when you wake up in a bad mood, a million good things can happen without raising your mood much. And when you wake up in a good mood, the smallest thing can bring you down.

I got up feeling great today. Woke up at just the right time (well, 15 minutes late but who cares), had good dreams, felt refreshed. Even went up to the mirror and brainwashed myself that I was going to have a great day, just to be sure.

Go downstairs, breakfast with family. Thats sure to dampen anyone's day, but today for me wasn't too bad, I got through it more or less intact. Then I came up to check my email, and finally got an email from a guy I've been waiting a while for. So crossed my fingers.

So yeah. Got some bad news. Very bad news actually. Long story short, the guy I was counting on to live with next year for uni wouldnt able to make it (and this is the second time). So my search continues, and time is running out.

Onto the issue of trust, maybe its just me, but people in general seem to be so untrustworthy. I mean, lying and cheating and what not is looked down upon in any decent society, but it seems everyone does it. I have two friends who in the past month or so claim to have broken their legs. One of them says that because of it he can't leave the country for the next 6 months, because doctors want to follow up his condition. The other, who broke his leg in Pakistan, flew back to Oman practically the next day. I haven't seen any of them, so I can't be sure they're telling the truth. But why would I even doubt them? Is that normal, or is it just me being suspicious?

Posted by illogicist at 11:54 PM 2 comments


Im a little shaken, in the last 2 or 3 days I've had 2 incidents where I've come THIS close to having a car accident. The first one would have been messy, but not dangerous, but the 2nd could easily have been fatal. And they were both my fault, mostly. I dunno what it is, lack of concentration? Yesterday I was tired, and I misjudged which way the car was going - it looked like he was turning off, when in fact he was coming straight on. It was pretty close, and left my heart in my throat for a while. The one before was kinda his fault as well.

Anyway. Am I the only one who's noticed an increase in the number of police cars on the road? Police in Oman are generally invisible - you know they're there, but you dont often see em. But this last week or two weeks I've seen so many police cars, people being pulled over, etc. I drove to the vet this morning for my cat, and just on the way I saw 3 or 4 police vehicles. Maybe its just me, but I'm wondering what this build up is about. Is it because of the tense political situation right now, with Lebanon? I had a little run-in with the police last week because of that. Its very strange.

Posted by illogicist at 12:53 AM 6 comments

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

NP - Black Eyed Peas feat. Sergio Mendez - Mas Que Nada

I've been saying this for a while, that to see it as Hezbollah attacking Israel out of the blue is preposterous. This has been going on for quite some time. This was always just an excuse that Israel's used to go into Lebanon - although I dont think its going as planned for them.

I like George Monbiot. Whatever he's got to say is definitely worth reading, and he writes the article I've linked to. I've pasted bits of it here. (also check

Since Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000, there have been hundreds of violations of the "blue line" between the two countries. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) reports that Israeli aircraft crossed the line "on an almost daily basis" between 2001 and 2003, and "persistently" until 2006. These incursions "caused great concern to the civilian population, particularly low-altitude flights that break the sound barrier over populated areas". On some occasions, Hizbullah tried to shoot them down with anti-aircraft guns.

In October 2000, the Israel Defence Forces shot at unarmed Palestinian demonstrators on the border, killing three and wounding 20. In response, Hizbullah crossed the line and kidnapped three Israeli soldiers. On several occasions, Hizbullah fired missiles and mortar rounds at IDF positions, and the IDF responded with heavy artillery and sometimes aerial bombardment. Incidents like this killed three Israelis and three Lebanese in 2003; one Israeli soldier and two Hizbullah fighters in 2005; and two Lebanese people and three Israeli soldiers in February 2006. Rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israel several times in 2004, 2005 and 2006, on some occasions by Hizbullah. But, the UN records, "none of the incidents resulted in a military escalation".

On May 26 this year, two officials of Islamic Jihad - Nidal and Mahmoud Majzoub - were killed by a car bomb in the Lebanese city of Sidon. This was widely assumed in Lebanon and Israel to be the work of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency. In June, a man named Mahmoud Rafeh confessed to the killings and admitted that he had been working for Mossad since 1994. Militants in southern Lebanon responded, on the day of the bombing, by launching eight rockets into Israel. One soldier was lightly wounded. There was a major bust-up on the border, during which one member of Hizbullah was killed and several wounded, and one Israeli soldier wounded. But while the border region "remained tense and volatile", Unifil says it was "generally quiet" until July 12.


On July 12, in other words, Hizbullah fired the first shots. But that act of aggression was simply one instance in a long sequence of small incursions and attacks over the past six years by both sides. So why was the Israeli response so different from all that preceded it? The answer is that it was not a reaction to the events of that day. The assault had been planned for months.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that "more than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to US and other diplomats, journalists and thinktanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail". The attack, he said, would last for three weeks. It would begin with bombing and culminate in a ground invasion. Gerald Steinberg, professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University, told the paper that "of all of Israel's wars since 1948, this was the one for which Israel was most prepared ... By 2004, the military campaign scheduled to last about three weeks that we're seeing now had already been blocked out and, in the last year or two, it's been simulated and rehearsed across the board".

A "senior Israeli official" told the Washington Post that the raid by Hizbullah provided Israel with a "unique moment" for wiping out the organisation. The New Statesman's editor, John Kampfner, says he was told by more than one official source that the US government knew in advance of Israel's intention to take military action in Lebanon. The Bush administration told the British government.


Can anyone dispute, then, that Israel had this in mind all along, and was just waiting for an excuse? But I dont know if things are going their way. First, Israel is like, we're gonna eliminate Hezbollah. Then the rhetoric was that they'd disarm Hezbollah. Now its that they'll push Hezbollah away from the border.

Another point I'm been wondering about, the actions of Hezbollah and Israel, what are the wider consequences in the region? Well, a very high number of lebanese support Hezbollah for now. Christians, druze, shias, sunnis. Outside of Lebanon, the arab masses, often suspicious of hezbollah because theyre a shia group "controlled by syria and iran", are now backing them. Theres some unity being created there. In Iraq, the so-called allies of the US, the shias, have been protesting in support of Hezbollah. This is clearly humiliating for the USA, who want to portray themselves as friends of the people (the sunnis have been quite silent though, which is something of a shame: if they were to display their unity with the shias, it would be a very strong message to the USA). All this makes the situation very, very interesting.

Heres another interesting article which I dont have a comment, but anyone interested should read in their own time. It basically talks about who's supported Israel since its creation, and the attitude and approach its had towards its neighbours. Worth a look.

Posted by illogicist at 9:09 AM 0 comments

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Cleaning out my Inbox

I just had a very interesting experience. I dont usually delete SMS messages on my phone, but this morning I started to run out of space, so I decided to go back and delete all the messages that I didnt want to keep (I keep some of the nicer ones). And it was like a trip back through time, to about october 2005. The major events of last academic year were all chronicled in those text messages. And the most interesting part is that they arent detailed as such, but through communication with other people - and their subsequent communication with me - those events were brought back to life in my memory. And it was in reverse order. So from when I first arrived back in Oman in June, to my 2nd semester exams, backwards to Eid, my first semester exams, my xmas break, and finally to the break up of a close friend (which is the first event my phone captures). And almost everything in between.

Almost, but not all. This is the bit which I like. There are some things which you would really expect to have chronicled on your phone via text messages which were missing. I guess it tells a lot about those events, but at the time, you dont think of it :p.

Now my phone is nice and clean, with only about 20 SMS messages I've kept. In time more SMSs will come in and maybe in another year, maybe, less, it'll be time do clean out my phone again. That'll be interesting too.

Posted by illogicist at 2:39 PM 5 comments

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