Friday, 26 July 2013

Pelican: A Poem

Oh, what a wondrous bird is the pelican,
His beak holds more than his belican,
He keeps in his beak,
Food for a week,
But I'll be damned if I knew how the helican. 

Monday, 22 July 2013

Selene: A Poem

There is a ball, bright like the sun but not
As large, floating just above the tree tops. I can see it
Through the squares of my window as it shivers in
The cold, and steals the fluff of inky clouds for blankets.
There is a moment of darkness, loud like a silent baby,
But the ball reappears among the pulsating stars, eloquent
Of its own desire to be heard above the ancient lights.

Red rooftops and the symphony of colours in the flower beds
And green fields are all lost in white
As the ball casts its shroud to remind
Those who've forgotten to whom the night belongs. 

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Charging Interest on Loans and Debt: A Socratic Story

When I decided to go to the park for an evening walk and watch the sun slip behind the swaying trees on the horizon, I was not aware that I was to be accosted by a banker straight out of university.
There was a comfortable breeze from the west which tickled lightly at the grass, and gave a comfortable break from the formidable heat of the day. I walked the lane, deep in the recesses of my thoughts, thinking of the book I had read earlier on that day. The book, Plato's "Republic", had stirred in me a doubt. A doubt of my own opinions regarding opinions. Plato had messed up my head.

So there I was, walking in the park when I heard my name being called by a man on a nearby bench. Intrigued (I was sure I was not acquainted with the random Bench Man), I made for the bench and the man stood up to greet me.

"Samir?" he asked.
"Yes," I replied.
"Oh my, you've changed, man!" the man exclaimed.
"Ah," was my response. "I am not sure I know you, sir."
"It's me, mate. Alex. I was your Peer Mentor back in High School!"


After our sojourn down Memory Lane, Alex and I began talking of various issues. Our conversation touched on the economy and banking practices in general.

"You're a Muslim!" Alex suddenly remembered. "Why does your religion condemn interest?"
"It isn't only Islam that condemns interest. Christianity does too. But look now, interest is the motor of our economy," replied I. "But to answer your question, I am no theological economist." 
"You say it like interest is a bad thing!" I could tell that Alex was in love with his job at the bank. Naturally, he was offended when I mildly implied that interest banking was not the way forward. Interest was, after all, a prominent way his bank made their money. He was of an overzealous disposition, by which I mean he suffered from zeal, a certain nervous disorder that affects the young and inexperienced. 

"How else is our economy to survive?!" he pressed on. And on he went about the benefits of an interest based economy. I indulged him, though my thoughts where elsewhere.

"Okay," I interjected. "let us reason. You would agree with the simple statement that interest is the receiving of more money than one has lent, right?"
He acquiesced.
"Well then," I continued, "the person who has money to spare is asking that the person who was in need of money to give back more than he took, correct? So, while the person with spare money watches his pile grow bigger, the person in need in of money must work at double the effort to pay back the interest infected loan, agreed?"
"I wouldn't put it that cynically, but yes, that is its essence," said Alex.
"So by that reasoning, which you have agreed as correct, interest is responsible for the constant growth of inequality, is it not?"
He was inclined to agree with me, though not without reluctance.
"Secondly, let us assume the interest rate on a loan stands at 2.5%. The business that borrowed the money must have grown by 2.5% the following year in order to pay back the loan, yes? Growing requires the use of resources, does it not?"
Again, Alex agreed.
"So, we can say that interest is responsible for the depletion of our global resources, which are already being depleted in other ways at an alarming pace," I said. Still, I continued,
"And these resources cannot always be found within the borders of ones country. So what does one do in this situation?"
"Expand the enterprise abroad," replied Alex.
"Expanding abroad is a euphemism for exploitation and in some cases, invasion. You forget that many locals are unhappy of foreign companies exploiting their country's resources. Interest is, therefore, responsible for minor skirmishes, at best, and at worst, a civil war."
Alex was forced to agree with me.

I took my leave shortly afterwards and walked home as the setting sun showered the sky in delicate oranges and burning reds. 

Monday, 15 July 2013

If I Knew: A Poem

Deceptive truths, those
Which rain on us,
Purging and befouling, causing
Retreats into the alcoves
Of consciousness,

Where nothing
But ghostly caches drown
A spark. A myriad of
Familiar faces with piercing
Stares double my rhythm of
Be gone, be gone.

A question hangs in the
Acrid air, by a noose
Made from love. And thus,
I pass 

Into the void

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Deluded "Muslims"

The following topic has aroused my anger and so I apologise in advance for the inarticulate nature of my writing.

Islam has become synonymous with terrorism. 
Muslims have become synonymous with terrorists. 
There's no point in denying it, and there's no point pretending otherwise. 

What's upsetting is that the negative stereotype innocent Muslims are subjected to is down to a few obscenely stupid and deluded individuals, to whom twisting religious verse to suit their needs is fine.

The 7/7 bombings in London, 9/11 in New York, the Madrid bombing...I could exhaust my fingers by typing out all the various acts of terror "Muslims" are responsible for. They are "fighting for the sake of Islam" to uphold their "beliefs." Pssht! Spare me the banality! These people are cretinous individuals who are easily influenced by those who claim to be pious men.

There is no place whatsoever in the Quran or the Hadith (sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad that Muslims are meant to follow) that allows the unprovoked, cold blooded murder of innocent people. In actual fact, it is strictly forbidden in Islam to commit murder. It is also strictly forbidden to commit suicide. So, if there is internet connection in the afterlife, and if any "martyrs" are awaiting heaven and their 72 virgins whilst reading this intriguing blog, I'm sorry to inform you that you will be getting neither. If you had read the Quran properly, and did your own research, you would have found that those who commit suicide are barred from heaven. That's what you get for blindly following someone who claims to be a religious authority. The only religious authority they
may possess lies in their overly pretentious Dumbledoric beards!

Also, what's this about a jihad? I don't see a jihad! Since when did sporadic skirmishes earn the right to be called a jihad? Before these hate preachers stand up and...well, preach hate, they should learn about jihad! The Prophet Muhammad clearly told Muslims that there were two forms of jihad: the battle with your inner self, your soul, if you like, to achieve discipline and the actual physical fighting against other people IN THE STATE OF WAR. The Prophet Muhammad also explicitly said (and reiterated on various occasions) that the main form of jihad, the most important jihad is the battle with your inner self. 
Granted, some Muslims will be angered by the situation in the Middle East and with the presence of Western armed forces in Muslim countries but it does not mean that they can go out and randomly butcher an innocent soldier on leave on the streets of London! For crying out loud! And they (Islamic extremists) wonder why people don't like Muslims. Let me tell you why, O Extremists. It is because of you! You and your deluded religious ideologies and your unwillingness to learn about your religion before falling under the hypnotic banalities of hate preachers.

They think that they're doing a brave thing, blowing themselves up along with innocent women, children and men alike. No, what they're actually doing is giving Muslims around the world a bad name and paving their way away from the 72 virgins and towards the Gates of Satan.

Suicide bombers aren't martyrs. They're cowards.

Hate preacher's do not represent Islam. They represent the Devil himself by spreading hate and discord in society. 

Monday, 8 July 2013

Book Review: Anthony Horowitz's "House of Silk"

Rating: ***

My heart hammered ferociously in my chest as I reached out and slowly removed the book from the shelf. The cover announced the book as “The new Sherlock Holmes novel” and as the Sunday Times’ bestseller. So far, it was promising. The blurb was even more so and the critical reviews on the back praised Horowitz’s latest book.
‘Could it be?’ I whispered to myself incredulously. Was it indeed Sherlock? The Sherlock? Apparently so, according to The Times: “Horowitz has captured Holmes Heaven.”
Imagine my excitement when I discovered how close I was to 221B Baker Street once more. After all these years, was it indeed possible that the world’s best (and probably only) consulting detective had been resurrected by a renowned author?
I began the book with very high expectations.
Inevitably, I was slightly disappointed.

“It is November 1890 and London is gripped by a merciless winter. Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are enjoying tea by the fire when an agitated gentleman arrives unannounced at 221B Baker street. He begs Holmes for help, telling the unnerving story of a scar-faced man with piercing eyes who has stalked him in recent weeks.
Intrigued, Holmes and Watson find themselves swiftly drawn into a series of puzzling and sinister events, stretching from the gas-lit streets of London to the teeming criminal underworld of Boston and the mysterious ‘House of Silk’…”

The ever-faithful Watson begins his story by informing us that it is a number of years after Sherlock’s death and for reasons that are later made explicit in the story, it was impossible for the doctor to publish this story while his companion was alive.
Horowitz does a good job at capturing Watson’s style of writing (that is to say Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s style of writing) and for the greater part of the narrative, it is easy for one to forget that it is Horowitz and not Sir Arthur writing. However, there are parts where one can see typical Horowitzic narrative techniques (e.g. Those short, punchy, dramatic sentences), and personally, I think this gives the story a bit of flavour.
What I found disappointing was Sherlock. I was expecting the eccentric, enigmatic, hawk-eyed, formidable (I’m sure you get the gist of it) detective, but what Horowitz gives is a slightly less... Sherlock. In the words of Horowitz’s Watson, you could “show Holmes a drop of water and he would deduce the existence of the Atlantic. Show it to me and I would look for a tap”, but we do not see this Sherlock, the Sherlock that inspired awe with his superlative powers of deduction. Horowitz’s Sherlock is somewhat less profound than I expected, but then again, I wouldn’t expect anybody to be able to depict Sherlock as his creator did. Horowitz does not create those intricate details in which Sir Arthur’s Sherlock could deduce the life-story of someone.
Undoubtedly, it was my expectation of meeting the original Sherlock that disappointed me. Because I didn’t. I met someone else.
Having said that, one cannot fault the story line. It is intriguing, unpredictable, clever and exciting and the way Horowitz manages to link everything in the end, things that did not seem to be at all acquainted, is applaudable. Overall, it is a brave attempt by Horowitz, and the addition of his own signature moves provides a fresh take on the originals.

Verdict: A book that I would recommend you read. Be warned, though. If you are looking for the Real Sherlock Holmes, you may be disappointed. He has, alas, gone with his creator.

Book Review: Dan Brown's "Inferno"

Rating: *

First and foremost, I haven’t read the entire book. I couldn’t. For me, the prose was extremely nauseating and Brown has a bizarre idea of using similes; yes, uniqueness in literature is a good thing, but when you try using a simile that doesn’t enhance the readers’ understanding of a certain description, then it’s simply a fail.
As always, Brown does not fail to provide a semi-ridiculous plot. The story starts in familiar territory: Robert Langdon is a victim of amnesia and on the run in, yes, Florence, and with no idea why he is an assassin’s target. Oh, and Langdon is also a victim of a hit-and-run and the driver is supposedly Dante Alighieri, who is depicted as a maniac.
Unlike his previous books, where the Bible or Da Vinci’s paintings were a source of inspiration, Brown’s Inferno does not engage as closely with The Divine Comedy. The absence of a centuries-old conspiracy is also somewhat refreshing. The villain in Inferno is the most formidable and dangerous opponent Landgon has faced, despite the fact that he commits suicide on page 7. If Dante is right, our villain’s punishment is to be enclosed in trees, along with the squanderers.
Brown’s attempt must surely have Dante turning in his grave. One redeeming vice that Brown has is his imagination, but even that is not enough to save him.
  In the end his ambition wildly exceeds his ability.

Verdict: A book that one can procrastinate on. If you have things to do, no matter how mundane, do them, before reading the book. In fact, anything is better than reading the book. But it’s not too bad.