Friday, October 20, 2006

Pharmaceuticals

Ah, gotta love medicines! God bless the people who come up with this stuff XD:

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This last one some will find inappropriate, so I'll post a link to the image:

link to image

Posted by illogicist at 1:40 PM 5 comments

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Looking Deeper

NP - Thomas Dybdahl - From Grace

The last week or so I've started looking at words a lot deeper than I used to. I've been forced to, because for one of my courses (well for all of them actually), the language is very technical. Its easy to come across a term like 'intermediate macroeconomic intervention' and just glaze over it, without looking at each word individually, and then putting them together and trying to figure out what it really means.

Anyway, I've been forced to do this recently, although I really should've been doing it for years. I do two different subjects as my degree, and they are both taught quite differently. One of them is very theoretical and needs to be read three or four times and illustrated with figures and graphs and what not in order to be understood. The other discipline uses a lot of rhetoric, but asks you to be open minded about it all and apply everything to real life examples...and as such everything is much more weakly defined and less vague. Sometimes I find it difficult to reconcile these two approaches when I approach my study.

I've also taken up a language, and even though I've only been to one class so far, it got me thinking recently about the construction of language, and its schematics. When I speak english, it comes so naturally to me, people ask me how hard it is to learn and I say its a really easy language. But I've been listening to people - my German flatmate, my Sri Lankan lecturer - and trying to understand why they make the mistakes they make. Its hard to think of a language the same way you'd think of something like physics or engineering, but they really are similar I think. Languages are constructed by sub-parts - tenses, all the grammar, etc - just as anything else is. When you're learning a new language, you tend to try to translate from your own language. Keeping this in mind, I've started to look for these things in weaker english speakers. For instance, my flatmate says 'excuse me' instead of 'sorry'. They're similar, but their usage isnt 100% interchangeable.

So back to looking into words. In a lot of research papers you read, you think that they're just using pointless rhetoric for the sake of it, to try to look smart. And they probably are - but maybe they arent. I've written this whole post because I was reading a book, and the author thanks his wife for her 'patience and understanding' in reading his drafts. Simple words, patience and understanding. But for some reason when I read them this time they really hit me...he didn't just pick any words to describe his appreciation, he chose those. I think we need to be more careful with what words we use, in everything, so that when we say things, they have actual meaning. Not just sound good.

Posted by illogicist at 6:28 PM 0 comments

Monday, October 16, 2006

Aint It Funny...

NP - Warren Zevon - Lawyers Guns n Money

Some Thoughts:

- Chelsea FC had both of their main keepers injured yesterday. Following that, Bolton said they would consider loaning Chelsea a keeper. Does anyone else's mind make the connection that mine did? ALI AL HABSI? CHELSEA? This is too much!

- I met a guy today whos name was Stewart Liddle. He was this scary looking guy with an earring and a shaved head...and he worked in the library. It was hard not laughing when I saw his name tag.

- Ever see those football pitches and wonder why the grass is stripey? I did. But the other I realised its because of the direction of the grass. If you walk into the middle of a field and look straight ahead, you'd see the stripes in 2 colours stretching away from you. But if you turn and look back, you'll see the colours have reversed. Its because of the direction the grass is pointing, and its because the guy who mows the grass walks backwards and forwards...in straight lines. I suppose its an obvious point, but I never realised before. I thought they dyed the grass. Which raises the question: why 2 shades of green? Why not red and blue?

- Im afraid of trees. Yep, my secret is out, trees scare the hell out of me. Why? Because everytime I walk to the Avenue Campus (every other day these days) I walk through these woods with these big scary (but beautiful) trees which ... drop things. Big, scary conkers. And its SCARY. Because I hear them landing to my left, to my right, behind me. Ive even seen one land right in front me. Its only a matter of time until one lands on my head and knocks me out.

Posted by illogicist at 3:53 PM 3 comments

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Its not everyday you meet someone from Oman

NP - Lynrd Skynrd - Freebird

Its not everyday you meet someone whos been to Oman. Hell, its not everyday you meet someone who's HEARD of Oman. Today was interesting though, I actually met two non-arabs who lived in Oman for a few years. I know, nothing out of the ordinary really, but its been a fascinating day, and it doesnt make it less interesting.

The first is a German girl on one of my courses. Its a small class, only about 25 people. Come to think of it, all my classes this semester are small...the biggest is about 50, and the smallest is probably around 13. Anyway, it was a double lecture, so we got a short break in the middle. I went outside for a breath of fresh air, and she came out for a smoke (she was a bit uncomfortable about the fact that shes the only person in the class who smokes). We chatted for a bit, and when I told her I was from Oman she got excited. Apparently she lived there when she was about 5. When I asked what her dad was doing there, she laughed and told me not to ("something to do with oil, you know"). Anyway, she doesnt remember it at all, but its strange...theres so few arabs in my university, so when you hear about Germans in Oman...I dunno.

The 2nd was a recruitment officer from a particular oil company who was here trying to give us an introduction. She worked on a project in Oman for 3 years, and I have a nice chat to her after her presentation and about Oman. That was really cool. I hope she offers me a job.

Oh, I also bumped into someone who was enrolling for arabic lessons. I thought she was english, but when I talked to her it turned out she was half Malaysian half Iranian. I've NEVER heard of that combination before, and its actually pretty interesting, for a variety of reasons. But all these things on the same day, well, its pretty unexpected. Im not a believer in coincidence, but I'll use it for lack of a better word. Interesting coincidence =p.

Posted by illogicist at 3:47 PM 5 comments

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

In recent weeks/months, my blog's been something of a personal diary which is probably a decent read but at the same time says nothing at all. I've just spent over an hour sitting in the most comfortable of chairs reading a newspaper, something I haven't done in the longest time, and so this post will take me back to the kind of thing I used to blog about in the past.

When you watch the news in the UK, or read a paper, you'll always come across an article about Islam. Young muslims, being muslim and british, about whether Islam 'fits in'. Depending on what channel you watch or what paper you read, you'll come across different viewpoints, of course. Some of the viewpoints are plain ridiculous, but thats one of the drawbacks of a free press, I guess. You take the good with the bad. Anyway, as a young muslim reading these articles, sometimes its worrying how misguided the authors are, how they have such an incomplete picture of who we are and what Islam actually means. Its distressing. Alot of the time - most of the time actually, save for a few insightful journalists - they just dont seem to understand what Islam is. An ideology, a religion, a set of instructions on how to live your life...they dont seem to understand that while it may be all of those things in varying degrees, its also an identity. I cant really think of a stronger word right now, but thats what it is, isn't it? Its inextractibly linked to whatever we do. You can argue about the degree to which culture plays a role and how culture is often confused for Islam, and you'd be absolutely right, but its undeniable that Islam, at its core, dictates our way of life.


Why is this hard to fathom in the West, even by so-called intellectuals? Its hard to say, but I'm entitled to an opinion. It would be wrong to say that because Islam is our identity, people in the West therefore have none (although when you're feeling defensive, its tempting). But Western identities are very, very different. Our belief system, as well as our attitudes towards the mechanisms of life can be on complete opposite sides of the spectrum - if you could put them on the same scale at all. But one of the beauties of a multicultural society is that this doesn't even matter. All you need to do is take a walk through central London to see what I'm talking about. You see people from all walks of life, dressed so completely differently, talking a million different languages...and thats just on the surface. If you took the time to talk to them all, the differences would probably blow your mind. But they coexist, right? They find a way to live and work and breathe next to each other.

So what is a 'Western identity'? I dont know, but be sure it exists. The multiculturalism you'll see in places like central London isnt western identity, but it does have it thrown in the mix along with those thousand others. Is Islam incompatible with it? In fact, is the 'islamic identity' incompatible with all of the others? It almost makes me laugh, because theres no way its true. The only thing that matters in this situation is tolerance, and Islam has enough of it to go around (the question is - do Muslims?). If you're tolerant of the people around you, you can get along. And you can thrive.

All the debate about whether Islam 'fits in', whether integration is possible, its all nonsense. In fact I hate the term 'fit in', its almost offensive to me as a rational human being. We're told that we have to shine, to 'stand out' in every aspect of life, and here we're told to 'fit in'? Not to be different? We should celebrate our differences, its what makes us special. Its not too hard to think of examples in literature of societies where everybody 'fits in'.

It makes me cringe. You have voices on the far-right who are demanding that if muslims dont like any aspect of life in this society they can leave. At the same time you have well-intentioned voices on the left who are so afraid of offending muslims that...well, they bend over backwards to satisfy. Its irrational. What else is irrational is muslims demanding special treatment - shariah courts, or proclaiming that anyone who disagrees with them is a 'kafir'. Its just these kinds of things which bring out, not the differences we ought to celebrate, but the sources of tension and conflict, which there isnt really cause for. Sure, dialogue, great, as long as its meaningful. Jeeez, people should just start using their brains, seriously.





I was reading this Robert Fisk article (fantastic journalist), and I came across this fantastic line. The article is too long for me to go back and find it, but basically, in response to Bush and Blair's statement that 9/11 changed the world as a justification for their actions, Fisk replies that we shouldn't let 19 murderers change the world.

Posted by illogicist at 12:54 PM 6 comments

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Name

And even though the moment passed me by
I still can't turn away
'Cause all the dreams you never thought you'd lose
Got tossed along the way
And letters that you never meant to send
Get lost or thrown away

And now we're grown up orphans
That never knew their names
We don't belong to no one
That's a shame

But if you could hide beside me
Maybe for a while
And I won't tell no one your name

And I won't tell em' your name
And scars are souvenirs you never lose

The past is never far
Did you lose yourself somewhere out there
Did you get to be a star
And don't it make you sad to know that life
Is more than who we are

We grew up way too fast
And now there's nothing to believe
Reruns all become our history
A tired song keeps playing on a tired radio
And I won't tell no one your name
And I won't tell em' your name
I won't tell em' your name
Mmm, mmm, mmm,

I won't tell em your name...

I think about you all the time
But I don't need the same
It's lonely where you are come back down,
And I won't tell em your name





Goo Goo Dolls, Name. Love this song.

The Goo Goo Dolls are actually playing here on Saturday... I would've tried to get tickets if I knew, but theyre all sold out (and I'm not willing to pay the insane eBay prices...I'm not THAT big a fan). Oh well, at least I get to see Ed Byrne on Sunday...gotta love British Comedians. Heres an old clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nT1TVSTkAXg&NR

Posted by illogicist at 2:47 PM 0 comments

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Its only halfway thru freshers week but already its been interesting. This year, more than last year, feels like my freshman year. I dont know why...well, I have some ideas. I've been to Monte more this year. Monte is where I lived in the first year. It so happens this year the iftars are being held there. So the whole walk down to Monte, or taking the bus, that I used to do every day in the first year, I've repeated often, something I only did once or twice the whole year last year. Secondly, I'm living 'alone' again (I have a flatmate, just one, but we barely see each other). And thirdly, I went to a movie at the Uni Cinema today - the free movie they show for freshers and international students.

I went to it in my first year. Watched Kill Bill Vol. 2. I didnt go last year though. But I went this year, and its weird, I felt like a fresher again. Especially because of all the people around you who feel the need to fill the silence with anxious conversation. But it was fun, it was fun. I think the biggest aspect is the second one, living alone. Its a weird feeling, sometimes pleasant and liberating, sometimes...well...lonely (duh). But it pretty much characterised my first year. I wont have time to be lonely this year, but maybe the reminder of it was enough to bring back those vivid memories of my freshman year.

Hmm, what else. Today is Bunfight day, where all the societies get together in one big massive hall and try to pull people to join. Its fun, the only hangover is that in the morning you get about 3 billion emails telling you stuff you dont really care about. Oh, because of some computer problems at the Language Center, and the fact that I took so long to register (because of both paperwork, my not studying, and a zillion other things to do), I dont think I'll be able to take spanish courses this year. Bollocks.

Posted by illogicist at 2:54 AM 0 comments

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Freshers Week

NP: Nelly - Ride Wit' Me

Ahhh, freshers week. Its that time of the year where the university goes from peaceful and quite to being full of nervous looking sheep roaming around during the day, getting lost, bumping into things, close to tears. Afraid of their own shadows. Theres no shame in it - we've all been there. But those of us who got through it are allowed to have a laugh at their expense :D They're kinda fun to be honest. They're all dripping fake friendliness, trying to project some kind of confidence they dont have. You gotta feel for em I guess. It doesnt last long though, most of them get comfortable in a couple of weeks.

Fresher's week is actually a pretty exciting time. Cause although I just ripped into em, a lot of freshers are actually really cool people. Its a good time to make new friends. Freshers week 'officially' starts tommorrow, but I've already met a bunch of new people. Yesterday was pretty odd, because I met up with my former housemate for the first time since the summer, a girl I haven't seen since my first year (she did a year in Switzerland - turns out I missed her more than I realised), and this guy who studies in London. I ended up crashing at my friend's house without a pillow or a cover, and got about 3 hours of sleep. but hey, thats uni, you gotta love it I swear. Oh, and my reputation is already being soiled. All my friends are SO eager to convince everyone they meet that I'm some kind of playa (dammit, they always do this :s). Already they're trying to set me up with this lebanese girl who's new to the university. I guess its fun if you dont take it too seriously, but its all just a lot of talk :p

Its tough being a fresher because theres so much crap you gotta consider - opening a bank account, registering with a GP...hell, just finding your way around. But for a senior like, theres also a lot of crap you gotta deal with. Example: researching your dissertation. You gotta be in the library finding reading materials, while everyone else is still chilling. Also, theres applications. For the future: masters, job, internship. All that is time consuming, and it aint easy trying to plan out your future when you still have a year of hard slogging ahead of you. But you probably gotta do it, just to keep your options open. After staying up till 4am talking to friends and neighbours, I'm flirting with the idea of living a year or two in Switzerland. It seems like an awesome place. Its a thought.

But its kinda strange right now. You KNOW its you're last year (inshallah, unless you fail), and you wont be here this time next year. You're senior to everyone except your classmates, who you feel a strange closeness to - even if you've never talked to them. I guess its because you know that you've all been through the same crap. Hmm, this is starting to sound like a graduation speech. Ok, but its an interesting time, its fun I swear. I think the real difficulty is organising my time after classes start, so I can enjoy the stuff I enjoy right now even when I'm swamped. I mean, its all good studying all day and getting the grades - I can do that and make top grades (and I believe everyone can), but if I'm giving up all the stuff I enjoy, like having a night out, or just a chat with friends, well it aint worth it. And the funny thing is, I think you can do both. All it takes is organisation. I've done it the last couple of years, and while it ain't easy, its doable. Just depends what you think is most important to you I guess.

Posted by illogicist at 12:16 PM 0 comments

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