Scotland Yard said yesterday that a Muslim woman police who refused to shake hands with the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police at her passing-out ceremony would be dismissed if she did not "engage" with people as other officers do. Sir Ian Blair personally congratulated all 200 recruits at a ceremony in London last month, but shook hands with only 199 after the woman specifically requested that she should not be required to do so, apparently for religious reasons.
Now this is the kind of headline you read, and think about how society is becoming more dysfunctional every passing day. But nope. Then you read something of this sort,
Massoud Shadjareh, the chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said the "overwhelming majority" of practising Muslims would avoid physical contact with a member of the opposite sex unless they were closely related.
What? What kind of B.S is that? I have tons of friends who are practicing Muslims, and not one has issues. Fine, so I'm talking about people who are of Indian origin and live there too. But isn't it a bit ridiculous to accept that once you start living in the west, you become more apprehensive, and perhaps orthodox in your religious views?
It is often said that before you die, your life passes before your eyes. It is in fact true. It's called living.
Lets talk about a particular individual, who for brevity's sake (and for the added suspense it gives this story), we will name X. Good choice for a mystery name, if I do say so myself.. Best heard to the strains of Supertramp's Long Way Home or Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.
Okay, enough of the atmospheric qualities. :)
A boy, born out of wedlock on what we assume was a balmy day, some 80 years ago to a servant working for a rich man - who as it will turn out, was the father. He wasn't baptized till the age of 8, enduring the ridicule of his peers - and had to wait till the age of 17 to be formally recognized by being given his father's last name, which would shape his identity a few decades down the line.
At the age of 12, he wrote a letter to the Roosevelt, the US President, expressing his will to be a friend and in return, asking for a 10$ bill because he had never seen one before. History doesn't record whether an answer was sent back, or not. Growing up, he attended a gaggle of schools, finally entering a local university to study law. Embroiled in university politics, he began to head major factions and eventually traveled to another country to protest against US policies at a local convention. As fate would've had it, the country underwent a bloody coup and the streets erupted in heavy violence leading X to seek refuge at his embassy, and be shipped back - safe, but seared with a thousand impressions which would change his life.
Finally graduating with that law degree, he used his skills to develop a constitutionally legal framework of appeals to challenge his country's ruling government (a dictatorship, rather) on charges of corruption - which, surprise surprise, were refuted immediately. He was of course, put into prison, but not before he delivered a defence speech short of nothing but a masterpiece.
I warn you, I am just beginning! If there is in your hearts a vestige of love for your country, love for humanity, love for justice, listen carefully... I know that the regime will try to suppress the truth by all possible means; I know that there will be a conspiracy to bury me in oblivion. But my voice will not be stifled – it will rise from my breast even when I feel most alone, and my heart will give it all the fire that callous cowards deny it... Condemn me. It does not matter. History will absolve me.
Granted an amnesty, and failing to see his efforts gain fruition, he traveled to the United States and with help from other exiles in residence there, trained in guerrilla warfare. Engaged in negotiations with the USSR for weapons, and collaborated with South American revolutionaries to form a task force to topple the aforementioned dictator. And was successful.
Born a catholic, although he never practiced it, X was then summarily excommunicated by the Vatican for his role in the uprising. (Yes, the Pope actually upheld the excommunication of any catholic supporting revolutions). Miffed, to put none too fine a point on it, he banned Christmas as a State Holiday for almost 30 years - It was in fact reinstated as a state holiday in 1999, when he finally went back to a cathedral - a place he'd last visited in 1946, half a century ago.
But his story is far from over. His astounding resoluteness shown by successive comebacks in the light of radically challenging difficulties is the stuff legends are made of. In his own words,
If surviving assassination attempts were an Olympic event, I would win the gold medal.
Conservative estimates at the number of attempts made at assassinating him hover at around 683. Yes. Six Hundred and Eighty Three. Some of them are staid and boring, such as the sniper rifles, and bombs. Others are more intriguing, ranging from exploding cigars, poisoned diving suits, cold cream jars with poison, and in an incident reminiscent of James Bond, hiring an ex lover to kill him. Rumor has it that the US President even *consulted* Ian Fleming on his thoughts on getting rid of X. Want a piece of irony? His wife's nephews today are leading congressmen in the US and actively speak out against his policies. So does his daughter.
But personal threats were of definitely little consequence to one who was solely responsible for the closest the world ever came to exchanging nuclear missiles after WWII - what the incident was, of course, will become obvious once you get to the end of the post, so patience! Thats a good reader. Where am I going with this? The fact that this ostensibly indomitable person has been languishing in a hospice somewhere, undergoing operation over operation to save him from cancer. Which, if news reports are to be trusted, aren't going well at all. The predictions are already being made on possible death announcements, and a collective sigh of relief from the world's governments as the bane of (many of) their existence finally fades into the pages of history, albeit with 21 gun salutes rather than with the swish of a few pages shutting the last chapter of his life which they would've preferred.
I feel strangely attracted to X - his ability to resolutely stand for what he believes is right, amongst other things. To face off the biggest bullies on the block (figuratively and otherwise), and come up trumps requires guts and a razor sharp brain. Sure, there are detractors who label him a dictator, and I do agree that he's no saint - but then, how many people today can be given that honor anyway?
The capitalistic hegemony which has in recent past gotten away with the grotesque hangings of people in Iraq will be denied _this_ particular victory anyway - summary executions which are leaked to the public are bad enough, but incompetent leadership, a doting vote-base with (mostly) no inkling of anything beyond their own noses and to make matters worse, absolute belief in their leader have made the US nothing more than a bully on the world stage. But coming to the point - a gentle introduction to X.
Standing on the world stage as the longest serving communist leader ever, right across the waters of the world's oldest democracy is hardly easy. Bearing the burden of a dozen sanctions, economic and otherwise, he managed to not only revolutionize his country as much as was possible, he even sent support in the form of troops, resources and doctors to other countries. For this he was nominated for the Peace Nobel in 2001.
Ladies and Gentlemen. Give it up for Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, the president of Cuba.
He may not have been perfect, but there's a lot we can learn from the likes of him.
I found that letter too!
I don't get all the hoopla about time travel .. after all, aren't we all travelling through time anyway? Like everything else around us?
.. the likes of Mozart and Bach were alive today rather than a few hundred years ago?
Would the music they wrote still be relevant to us in 300 years, like it is today? In that respect, would today's composers in various genres hold everlasting significance in similar amounts of time? Can a Morrissey hold his own against Handel? Or perhaps Elton John over Faure?
More interestingly, would their music today have catered to the Church - at the time the foremost patron of music, intent on eulogizing virgins (of perhaps dubious character?) and bright shiny stars over random cities in Israel.. but today a sickly mess of an organization, widely inveighed against for all the baggage it has collected over bygone centuries? OR would they have catered their stuff to the clubs, the all-night-rave-scenes with fast paced techno-trance pumped chock full of dried and withered leaves in a heady mix of their psychotropic glory?
If you're a major technology person (or not), or are someone who even remotely glances at news on the internet, yesterday was a watershed in the era of the mobile phone. Apple released what they tout to be the next generation in cellphones - the iPhone. Beautiful. Very Apple-y - droolable icons, fancy colors, and it doubles up as an iPod and a PDA too!
BUT. As great as this product looks, I just HAD to talk about why some of its features are not a good idea. Apple doesn't offer a keypad anymore - not a physical one anyway. So lets say you're the kind of person who has big thumbs or likes to feel a solid click when you dial - thats out. If your phone ever needs to perform in low lighting, you need to turn the screen on just to see the keypad. Hmm, thats not bad you say? There's more. How many times have you had troubles scratching that iPod screen anyway? I'm sure everyone who owns one uses some sort of cover on it. Or those skins which adhere to the very surface. Now, thats when you don't even touch the iPod screen! In this case, you're going to have to dial and drag and click on the screen. Heaven help you if you've uncut nails, or are female.. Lest someone suggest that I'm taking a dig at the fairer sex, what if you've overslept and are late for work and forget to shave? Boom. Everytime you use the phone, the screens going to have some phenomenal scratches. (This one's for the guys, incidentally :-). That said, they do have the coolest way to unlock your phone. Check out the Apple website for some shots. You basically drag an onscreen button to the right to open it - something which would never happen in your pocket.
Of course, I'm updating my wishlist as of now.. I wouldn't mind having one of the once the initial kinks are ironed out anyway!
Hmm. I don't quite know what to say - scarily accurate vs complete BS?
Sincere and bold - Sure. Dramatic sweeping gestures - Right On. and apparently, that soft spot can be read much more easily than I thought it would. I think I might choose option 1 above. AND I thought hard about everything in the questionnaire too..
Through Snake Anthony and Hobo!
The oldest democracy in the world. Secular as hell. Tolerant to all religions. Separation of religion and the state. (Not counting the minor fact that "In God We Trust" is something found on every single fucking dollar bill).
What *Bull*. The bloody war on terror is leading me to increasingly doubt the state of affairs here. No this is not a sudden conclusion. I've felt something of the sort for a long time now. But the final straw?
The hypocrisy. Double standards. Now that the US has a female speaker for the first time, to quote, 'The most powerful politically elected woman in the history of the USA', and who's also second in line to the presidency according to normal protocol - EVERY SINGLE magazine and newspaper's talking about it. And making an example of it, ostensibly, to the world. Wake UP people, countries like the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India, not to mention the UK and Germany have had fucking *Heads of State* who've been women. This is not a big deal at all. For the US, yes. For the world, NO.
But, whats even more blood boiling? In an op-ed piece in freaking _USA TODAY_, Virgil Goode, an obviously deranged Senator wrote, "I believe that if we do not stop illegal immigration totally, reduce legal immigration and end diversity visas, we are leaving ourselves vulnerable to infiltration by those who want to mold the United States into the image of their religion, rather than working within the Judeo-Christian principles that have made us a beacon for freedom-loving persons around the world." (Emphasis Mine) Riiiggghttt. I'm SURE they have.
Spawned from the ashes of the year gone by,
another rises anew - my, does time fly,
another year to live, love and generally behold,
the significant fact that you're just getting old,
come now lets not be the ones to see the old year away,
but instead turn a new leaf and sway,
to the winds of change that dot our lives,
and hopefully deliver us from evil wives,
tis the time to plan ahead and resolutely state,
that you will in fact lose the excess weight,
to think about the $$ that you plan to save,
and ride high on that next stock market wave,
maybe go find that perfect someone,
smart, rich and maybe even fun?
all in all, the contributions you'll make,
that alleviate society too, if they're not fake,
but enough of random new year rhymes,
which say nothing that hasn't been a thousand times,
now i fear i've run out of things to say,
so i'll just stop rhyming and slink away,
a quote to end i think is apt,
this one held the ol' chinese rapt,
'course its not my own for i'm no Dickens,
“A weasel comes to say "Happy New Year" to the chickens”
What can I say - I was bored.