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.

A Very Short Story

It was one of those August Sunday evenings in which, by merely looking out of the window, one could tell that it was seven o’clock. There was a light breeze from the West, which tickled at the leaves on the trees and gave a comfortable break from the formidable heat of four hours ago. Arthur sat, half asleep, under the shade of a huge oak tree, with a sealed envelope resting on his knees. Arthur had been in this position for almost half an hour, and as a result, his buttocks were rather sore. But this was one of those evenings that would have left even the most industrious person feeling slothful, so Arthur had no intention of shifting position. He also had no intention of opening the envelope, for he knew that its contents carried news which, to Arthur, was not news at all. So, Arthur remained like this for almost another hour, before his manservant came to him with urgent news. Again, this news was not news, for Arthur knew exactly what the manservant had to say before he even opened his mouth to speak. Arthur was very clairvoyant. Indeed, he had been a legend among the Clairvoyancites, the secret society established by clairvoyant men. Arthur was the only remaining member of the Clairvoyancites. All his comrades had been murdered by the Clairvoyantettes, members of the secret society established by clairvoyant women, who were incensed by their non-inclusion in the Clairvoyancites. The letter in the sealed enveloped carried the news of the murder of William Le Château, an Clairvoyancite, who was unfortunate enough to have his lawnmower flip over on him. The coroner’s verdict was “accidental death by an accident prone lawnmower” but he did not know that the lawnmower was made accidental prone by the Clairvoyantettes.
Arthur’s manservant carried the news of the death of Morgana, the leader of the Clairvoyantettes. Arthur did not need to exercise his clairvoyance to find this out; he had organised the murder of Morgana. He had had her murdered to avenge the death of Le Château, who was murdered ten minutes after Morgana was, in revenge for her death.
The sun was beginning to sink behind the hills and long shadows were thrown eastward, giving benign objects devilish silhouettes. The late evening was filled with birdsong and the smell of flowers hung thickly in the air. In the distance, the sound of traffic was dissolving into a peaceful quiet as the long day came towards its end. The sky was now washed with soft pinks and oranges and the last of the birds were retiring to their nests.
Arthur did not need to look up to know that the approaching footsteps he could hear belonged to his wife. Even a Desclairvoyant (someone who was not a Clairvoyancite but painfully normal) could attribute those footsteps to Lady Voisseur; her twenty stones were present in every step she took. She was remarkably dissimilar to her husband, who was almost half her weight. However, if one could look past the many chins that adorned the lower half of her podgy face, one could see that Lady Voisseur was inconspicuously beautiful. Her pale skin accentuated her small blue eyes and her fat lips wore a perpetual half-smile. It was a shame that Arthur could not see past the many chins that adorned the lower half of his wife’s podgy face. He would habitually complain that Lady Voisseur had more chins than a Chinese phonebook. Arthur and his wife were remarkably dissimilar indeed.
Whereas Arthur was quick-witted, clairvoyant and popular, his wife sat, with great difficulty, on the other end of the spectrum. This lack of compatibility was responsible for Arthur’s ongoing affair with Victoire de F’Lâte, who so happened to be an Clairvoyantet.
Arthur knew why Lady Voisseur was stomping through the garden towards him. Earlier on, his Clairvoyance had told him that Lady Voisseur would soon discover his infidelity through their next door neighbour. So, Arthur placed some of Victoire’s lace on Lady Voisseur’s dressing table, so that when she came to confront him of her discovery angrily, he replied, “darling, if I was, pardon my blasphemy, unfaithful to you, do you think I would advertise it as you are suggesting?” Satisfied with this answer, Lady Voisseur slept soundly and when Marie Foucher, the Voisseur’s neighbour, informed Lady Voisseur of Arthur’s infidelity the next day, Lady Voisseur dismissed the ‘accusation’ with a wave of her chunky hand. Arthur was very cunning indeed. Sitting, with great difficulty, on the other end of the spectrum, Lady Voisseur was very vacuous. Arthur took advantage of this.
One day, Lady Voisseur had returned home early from a shopping excursion into town and found her husband making passionate love to Victoire on the kitchen floor. After she had exhausted her lungs screaming vile insults at the pair, Arthur destroyed her doubts over his fidelity by saying, “darling, if I was, pardon my blasphemy, unfaithful to you, do you think I would advertise it as you are suggesting?” Thus convinced that she was hallucinating and her husband was faithful beyond any doubt, whenever Lady Voisseur happened to come across Arthur and Victoire making passionate love on the kitchen floor, she dismissed this hallucination, with a wave of her chunky hand, as the work of Lucifer, whom she knew to hold a grudge against Arthur.

Perfection: A Poem


Is in the dead man
Who is as no more

As peace.

He married life
And she broke her vows,
Now he is here

Perfectly free
With ties to here

Cut free.

His words live without
Essence nor presence

And his face fades
From apparent appearances.


Is in the broken heart
Of a man wronged

By her.

He is perfectly aware now
That women lie.

They tried to see eye
To eye but it was like
They were both blind,

Perfection is in
His perfectly


Is in the mind
Of a madman who is
Perfectly unaware of

Songs of sorrow nor
Poems of pain that flow

Through life--

He is as free as
A slave and health

Can not find him.

But he is perfectly
Carefree and lives through
Everyday playing hide-and-seek
With his lover,


Friday, 5 July 2013

War- Part 2: Hypocrisy Most Foul

The juvenile maxim, “rules are made to be broken” seems to have been adopted by certain countries. In 1968, the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was signed, committing nuclear powers to “general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.” Other states asked for help with nuclear reactors for peaceful purposes in return for not acquiring nuclear weapons themselves. However, proliferation began with the West’s help of developing nuclear weapons in the most politically mercurial region on the planet. Britain provided the heavy water, France the nuclear reactors, the US did a Nelson and turned a blind eye, and thus Israel was able to produce plutonium in a facility beneath the Negev Desert. To this day, this facility has miraculously avoided detection from the International Atomic Agency. Israel now has between 100 and 200 nuclear bombs, nearly a 10% increase from 1973.

Is it surprising that nuclear states have not honoured the NPT? No, on the contrary, this was to be expected; the profit available from the selling and buying of nuclear and military intelligence surpasses stratospheric levels. As you read this, the US, Russia and France are developing new nuclear missiles, whilst Britain is part of an American programme for six new types of bombs.

In 2000, at an NPT conference, the US made what I call a ‘politician’s promise’ to adopt 13 specific steps towards disarmament. They have failed to implement a single one (hence the term ‘politicians promise’). Instead of disarmament, the Livermore and Los Alamos weapon labs are now the recipients of more funding (with tax-payers’ money of course) than in the Cold War. The US (and every other country at that) is exploiting humanity’s development of scientific knowledge to create a new generation of warheads, such as mini-nukes and bunker-busters- yet more new ways for humans to kill each other.

The US have made their ‘no nonsense’ ideology crystal clear. Washington’s 2002 Nuclear Posture Review named at least seven countries as potential primary targets for preemptive nuclear strikes whilst its 2005 guidelines envisaged using nuclear weapons against those who the US merely suspected of being in possession or endeavouring to be in possession of nuclear weapons. These guidelines also ‘recommended’ that the US use “tactical nuclear weapons to win a a conventional conflict when it is losing.”

What about Britain? Well, every minute of every day of every month of every year a British submarine armed with 48 nuclear warheads (each one eight times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb) is on patrol somewhere in the world (the Trident System). Our secretary of defence said that Britain is prepared to use small nuclear missiles in preemptive strikes against non-nuclear states. This is hifalutin jargon simply meaning: “Britain is prepared to nuke countries that have no nukes to retaliate.” How very reminiscent of the cowardly school bully who would only terrorise his victims when surrounded by his bigger thug friends.

Our government has invested £6 billion at Aldermaston (the atomic weapons establishment); the purpose is classified, but like all classified ventures, there has been leaked information indicating that there are test facilities for highly enriched uranium. For the laymen out there, uranium is very bad.
It must be mentioned, though, that our government regards our possession of nuclear weapons as a political chess-piece. “A decision to leave the club of nuclear powers would diminish Britain’s international standing and influence.” Britain sure does sound like a pretentious Victorian patriarch trying to establish his family in prominent circles.

Is this a lesson we want others to learn?

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

War- Part 1: Food For Thought

The year 1946 heralded the birth of the UN Security Council (UNSC), its supposed purpose to preserve peace. Suffice it to say that had there been any Seers in 1946, the UNSC would have been a source of great amusement.

A shocking 90% of arms bought by developing countries come from five powerful members of this so-called ‘peace’ Council- the US, Russia, France, Britain and Germany. Here is something to boost our national pride: Britain is the largest exporter per capita of military equipment. And for any Americans reading this, you will be pleased to know that your mighty country is the largest total exporter. Two of these countries that weapons are sold to are Iraq and Afghanistan. Then Britain and America use the internal conflict in the Middle East as an excuse to invade and ‘help.’ It’s not for the oil at all, oh no. I mean, it isn’t as if our own oil reserves are depleting.

I came across an article recently where a woman in Darfur reminded western aid donors of this situation. She said, “It’s very kind of you to offer to feed us, but we’ve always known a degree of hunger. What would really help is if you’d take the guns away.”

In order to fulfill its intended purpose, the UNSC should be reconstituted as the UN Peace Council and if any country thereafter exports arms, they should be shamefully excluded. Describing the weaponry business as defence is a gross abuse of language. Why should governments support an industry that results in the mass murder of innocent victims? Surely it would be more profitable and less damaging if governments supported cocaine or cigarette companies?

The disturbing truth is that governments throw their scruples (that is suggesting that they had any to begin with) out of the window when an economically profitable opportunity arises. Fact is, the weapons industry is a very profitable one, albeit murderous. What’s a few thousand dead children to our politicians compared to the potential billions in profit? Anything to improve our country, right? National pride it’s called, isn’t it?

In February 2005, friction between Pakistan and India seduced the US. A creative business plan was conjured and the US sold Pakistan a fleet of F-16 jets. It also sold India an anti-aircraft system to shoot down the F-16s. America made a handsome profit as a result of interest on debt, whilst UK cabinet members capitalised on the god-given opportunity, visiting both countries to promote arms sales.

In the past, the US has armed the Vietnamese (against Japan), Japan (against China), Iraq (against Iran), Iran (against Iraq) and their best friend Osama Bin Laden (against Russia).

One fifth of the current Third World Debt is due to past arms sales.

Monday, 1 July 2013

The soul: DOES it exist?

The existence of the soul has been subjected to much speculation, with some scientists attempting to prove its ‘non-existence.’ Many religious doctrines (if not all) acknowledge the existence of an immaterial substance within humans, something intangible and invisible, yet present with much importance.
The soul is usually regarded as immortal. If you have read my first blog (‘What is the meaning of life’) you will have been acquainted with my thoughts on immortality. For those of you who have not yet read this, I will oblige you by reiterating my ideas dealing with immortality. A vicious vice in my opinion, every human has an innate yearning to remain immortal- it is ingrained in our psychological constitution and our inclinations as (intelligent and sentient) animals. It is therefore possible that the existence of the soul was fabricated by our very, very early ancestors to comfort themselves deceivingly with their supposed immortality. Personally, I do not believe this is so. Our earliest ancestors were much more religious than our modernised and secularised selves, and as mentioned before, the existence of the soul does seem to stem from religion. Our ancestors believed in god(s) and therefore, by proxy, in the existence of the soul. Many of us nowadays cast aspersions on the concept of religion, thinking that it must have been invented a very long time ago. But, as Descartes said, the very idea of a god is so complex, it is impossible that a human invented it. The idea must have therefore been put into man’s brain by God.

Mechanistic brain science proceeds on the working assumption that every bodily event has a physical cause in the prior state of the central nervous system (CNS). On the other hand, traditional moral thought and religious thought has always presupposed that at least some of our behaviour is determined by our thinking and deciding. This conflict has born suggestions that unless some parts of our CNS are found to be open to non-physical influences, brain science will effectively discredit all talk of man as a spiritual being, and oblige us to accept a purely materialistic view of our nature. Even Descartes, whose philosophy depended on the existence of an Omnipotent Figure (i.e. God) held that the soul would be powerless to influence bodily action unless some part of the brain acted as a transmitter-receiver for its controlling signals. ‘In man’ he says:

...the brain is also acted on by the soul which has some power to change cerebral impressions just as those impressions in their turn have the power to arouse thoughts which do not depend on the will...Only [figures of excitation] traced in spirits on the surface of [the pineal] gland, where the seat of imagination and common sense [the coming together of the sense] is...should be taken to be...the forms or images that the rational soul will consider directly when, being united to this machine, it will imagine or will sense any object

Here we have science and religion working together. Descartes’ hypothesis is indeed feasible. Now, putting science and religion aside, how do you feel personally about the existence of the soul? Do you believe that you are merely a body and organs devoid of spirituality? I believe that every living animal has a soul, and it is the soul’s presence that differentiates us from robots. Indeed, without our souls we would be mere robots, albeit extremely intelligent ones (in fact, not unlike the robots from the movie ‘I, Robot’). It is the soul working harmoniously with our physical selves and the CNS that defines us. It is the soul that is responsible for our individuality and personality, working with the amygdala.

Naturally, discussion of the soul leads one to discuss the nature death. If regarded as a materialistic thing, at death, the body simply decomposes over time, and eventually, all that is left of you is dust. However, religious thought and some philosophical thought suggests that at death, the soul remains intact. It departs the physical body and continues living in The Afterlife.

In this age of advanced science, visible proof is needed to acknowledge the validity of a proposed hypothesis. But this is only because we have convinced ourselves through ‘learning’ that a thing can only exist if it can be logically explained with visual evidence. We find the idea of unseen forces unfathomable. That’s just it. We cannot fathom the possibility of supernatural phenomena so we declare that there is no such thing. We are so convinced with our own intelligence, that we do not try to think outside the box in the most literal sense. Let us take the topic of God. The argument against the existence of a deity is usually the fact that the three main religions agree that God was not created. He is the Creator. Nothing came before him. As mere humans, the thought of something not having a beginning is incomprehensible. Our brains are not wired to accept the existence of anything without a beginning, but that does not necessarily mean it is impossible.

I will stop here and allow you to digest what you have just read. I will not write anymore on this topic, but hopefully, what I have said has triggered something in your minds. I hope I have a planted the seed of doubt within your brains and that this thought of “everything having a beginning” consumes you (he says as he wears an evil smile).

Anyway, I must succumb to the seductions of this hot chocolate on my desk. Mmhm! It’s quite simply a symphony of flavours.


Why is it that we cry when somebody we know, or somebody we hold dear, dies? Is it because we’ll miss them? The way they made us laugh, the way they brightened up our days, the memories we shared?

Or is it because seeing death so near to us makes us afraid of its inevitability?

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Top 5 Most Annoying Things

 5) Having to have to use a cliché in a serious situation. I’m sure we’ve all experienced this. Sometimes, using clichés is the only way to do your thoughts justice, but of course, the cliché takes away the genuine earnestness in what you say. For example, John cannot for the life of him articulate his love for his girlfriend Angela. So he resorts to the cliché “I love you more than anything” which is exactly how he feels. Angela merely thinks him tediously unoriginal.

4) Coming up with a witty remark to an insult you’ve received...after your enemy has departed. Subsequently, you end up feeling proud of your ‘quick’ thinking and storing it in your memory for future use.

 Standing behind somebody in a queue for a long time, and when they finally reach the front, they still don’t know what they want to order. I mean, come on! You’ve had 10 whole minutes to think about what you want! That’s 600 seconds! Then you get to the front and waste another five minutes pondering over what you think is the best thing to take up residence in your gut. Then you end up ordering a small bag of fries. Agh!

 People borrowing something from you, and keeping it for so long, that you have to borrow it back. My next door neighbour borrowed a power drill from my father, and kept it for over 2 months. So my father goes over, and using the skills he has acquired over the years as an unofficial inter-family diplomat, diplomatically asks “do you have a power drill I can borrow”, rather than “can I have my drill back.” The neighbour replied in the negative, at which point my father lost it and shouted “you have MY bloody power drill. I’ll have THAT one! If you please.”

 Someone repeating the last couple of words almost simultaneously with yourself to give the impression that they know what you are talking about. This, for me, is the most annoying thing. Example: An acquaintance of mine asked me to explain a certain aspect of organic chemistry. So, being altruistic by nature, I gladly consented and spent three minutes speaking uninterrupted (whilst feeling good about the fact that I knew something this formidably well-read acquaintance of mine did not), until I got to my closing sentence. Here’s how it happened:
              Me: ...which is why Lithium aluminium hydride acts as a reducing agent
Acquaintance: (Simultaneously with “acts as”) Acts as a reducing agent, yes.

No, unnamed acquaintance, don’t act like you know what I was talking about. 

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Our Political System: Is it really a Democracy?

The subtitle entertains the implication that we do not actually live in a democracy. Yes, if eligible, British citizens are allowed to vote for whom they want to be in control of our government. Yes, there are different political parties out there, each of them offering us normal citizens what they think is good for the nation. Well, that is the impression one gets when listening to politicians speak and make promises, yet for the better part of their time in office, these promises are seldom delivered. Sir Winston Churchill, when asked what qualities a good politician needs, rightly observed: “the ability to predict what will happen tomorrow, next month and next year. And the ability to explain afterwards why it didn’t happen.” But, as you will see, there’s more to it than a simple ‘democracy.’

A democracy does not quite describe our governmental system and many other ones at that. From 1858 until today, all of our Prime Ministers received a first-class education, attending Eton or Harrow (if not the ‘lower’ public schools) then continuing to Oxford or Cambridge. More often than not, our Prime Ministers were from prominent, well-to-do families with a plethora of connections meaning that their climb to the top was not as strenuous as they would have had us believe. We have even been graced with aristocracy, such as our first Prime Minister, Viscount Palmerston, and more recently, the Marquis of Salisbury and the Earl of Rosebery (1886, 1895 and 1894 respectively). Each time a new Prime Minister comes into office, control and power doesn’t change hands from, say Liberals to Conservatives, but rather from one rich person to another. Power has always been kept in that one group of people; the Elite. Our politicians were and still are aware of this and so they had to employ various methods to keep us normal citizens ‘distracted, so to speak. Enter The Media. Using the media, politicians have managed to keep some of us sated and out of the real System. Look at football for example. The most popular sport in the world, football was actually endorsed, encouraged, supported and funded by politicians in its early days. Its potential as a mass distraction was obscenely obvious, and our statesmen capitalised on that. Observe how millions of people flock to watch 22 men in shorts exhaust themselves kicking a ball back and forth.
I think it prudent to mention at this point that, despite my arguments, I am a keen footballer, having once played for various football clubs, including a brief sojourn with Arsenal’s Junior Gunners. Fortunately, I am one of the few who can enjoy the sport but also see it for what its real purpose is: a distraction.

There is nigh on nothing useful on television; each year, more and more of these ‘reality’ programmes are produced, rendering people addicted to what the Spaniards rightly call La Caja Tonta (The Stupid Box). Personally, I cannot see what shows such as “The Only Way Is Essex” and “Made in Chelsea” are doing on television. What is so fascinating about cretinous youths indulging in their self-importance and revealing their dirty linen to the public?  Yet, it is precisely these shows that are responsible for keeping the majority of the British population out of the political system. And you were calling it a Democracy? Yes, on paper, technically we live in a democracy but the creed of every politician is: Keep people distracted with worthless television and they will not be able to see that what we are really doing is comparing apples with oranges.
Even the News has lost its seriousness. I am sure you will have noticed how news reporters suffer from the ‘And Now In Other News’ syndrome. Let me explain. You may have a serious news broadcast about, say a double murder following violent rape. The news reporter will manage to wear a sombre countenance throughout the report. Then the facade drops as a big smile dawns on her face and she says, “and now in other news, a dog with pink fur and a glass eye has been the first of its kind to swim 100 meters...” or words to that effect. It’s as though the murders never happened. Even the news has become entertainment.

The existence of the various political parties helps to maintain the illusion that we have the option of electing different some extent. Yes, two Conservative leaders will say more or less the same thing, though years apart. Likewise with two Labour leaders and two Liberal Democrat leaders. They do have differing political ideologies, do not get me wrong there. They do want to obtain power in order to apply their policies. I’m not suggesting that there is a great conspiracy between politicians involving trading power between upper-class chums. What I am saying, nay asking, is why does our political system so resembles a plutocracy? To all intents and purposes, we live in an Elitocracy. Yes, I did just coin that. That seems to capture perfectly our political system. Modern politics is simply a platform on which hedonists attempt to deceive the people.

I realise that my points seem to depict me as an anti-citizen and even, forgive my blasphemy, a communist. No, no, no, dear Lord! Although, the idea of a communist system is very, very good. Equality for all? Great!... Communism will never work though. Here’s why. In every society, there will always be at least one person with ambition. This ambition will cause said person to want to do more than just ‘go with the flow.’ Thus, the ambitious person is the most likely to begin something new, with him/her having a prominent, if not leading, role. A communist system cannot accommodate people with ambition for this reason; it goes against the Communist Grain.

On a final note, my idea of the perfect political system would be one that borrows elements from communism and a Pantisocracy. Then, every year, a vote is held where the citizens put forward the name of the person whom they think is the most influential. This person is then exiled.

What IS the meaning of life?

For some, finding the answer to the meaning of life is akin to finding the female orgasm; on paper, the issue appears deceivingly straight forward, yet in practice, the search usually ends in a cul-de-sac. Which is why, I think, religion is still strong in this modern and scientific epoch. Fabricating a Higher Omnipotent Power (or the plural), must have been a comfort to our earliest ancestors. Their undeveloped brains (as compared, of course, to our modern super brains) must have found the notion of simply living with no purpose unfathomable. Thus, the first gods were created to alleviate any fears of the unknown, life’s purpose and ultimately, death. I have a theory that the first time this intriguing question was asked, it was asked in response to an earlier, even more enigmatic question. Picture this: our ancestors were one day enjoying their normal everyday life, grunting and pounding their chests and what not, when a strange, flightless bird crossed one side of a foot-beaten path to the other side, identical to the first. What was the reason for this strange phenomenon? Why did this bird choose to ‘cross the road’ so to speak? Wait, thought our noble ancestors. What is the meaning of the existence of this strange animal? Which of course led them to our question. For animals, the meaning of life is straight forward: find a mate, produce offspring, eat and sleep, usually in this exact order of priority. They don’t care for intricacies and metaphysics. As long as they eat and pass on their genes to the next generation. The study of animals’ priorities in life soon provided early philosophers with an answer: the meaning of life must be to perpetuate our existence by reproducing! This ‘eureka’ moment only went to show humanity’s chief desire, a vicious vice in my opinion; immortality. Yes, we all want to live forever, and those who pretend otherwise can pick up a gun, turn off the safety catch, place the barrel in their mouths and pull the trigger (n.b. make sure the gun is loaded to achieve maximum results).
As we developed as organisms, and our brains grew in size, and our understanding of the world improved, some of us broke away from the-meaning-of-life-is-to-perpetuate-our-existence-through-reproduction school of philosophy to more thoughtful observations. Now, belonging to a ‘Big Three’ religion, I personally believe in God. I also believe in the theory of evolution and the Big Bang. This may seem extremely paradoxical, but I shall explain myself another time, in a blog about religion. But I digress. Back to the point, when the first of the Big Three came in, Abraham being the harbinger/father, the meaning of life reverted to that of our earliest ancestors. The meaning of life, is of course, to please God on this Earth in order to gain membership to that exclusive empyrean club! Simples.
This was too simple for some, and thus the atheists and agnostics (euphemisms for infidels) were born. Fast forward through Jesus' and Muhammad’s time, through to the medieval period, philosopher’s continued relentlessly in their search for the meaning of life. Others, like the Arab philosopher ibn Sina (known as Avicenna in the West), came with answers that were agreeable with religion and profoundly sensible. However, what pleases one does not necessarily please another, and this was discovered after much annoyance. So the search for The Answer continued.
Despite their overwhelming knowledge, the philosopher’s seemed to have missed something. They did not seem to notice that each proposed answer to The Question was logical. They did not seem to notice that each new answer simply built on the last. In short, the philosopher’s were essentially saying the same thing for the past aeon, but with different accents. And if there was a radically different new answer, all the better! Humanity was developing. Even more important, individually, we were developing, both philosophically and emotionally. Thus, surely through experience, the meaning of life is self-development? Until the day we die, we endeavour to better ourselves, to increase our store of knowledge. After all, knowledge is power.

Think about it. Take five minutes off the screen, close your eyes, and try to find some fault with my philosophy.

Introduction to the blog

Samir Kulaten is a Law student at the University of Sheffield. His interest in many things, both academic and non-academic, has served to make him the quintessential ‘well-rounded’ individual. A keen sportsman, Samir is also a self-taught pianist, lyricist, composer and playwright. He hopes to see his works performed on stage in the future but his primary ambition is to finish James Joyce’s Ulysses after two years of fruitless endeavours.
Whilst away from University, Samir alternates between living in the City and at his family’s country retreat in Carmarthenshire, where he enjoys hunting and playing polo. Very recently, Samir received the title of "Lord" after acquiring a substantial amount of land that came with the title...

...I’ve never realised how writing of yourself in the third person can deceive you into entertaining your sense of self-importance. Ah, business!

Welcome to Critical Musings, the blog which may be described as the jack of all trades but master of none. From philosophy to poetry, politics to economics, science to religion, history and even random ramblings, this blog will essentially be a platform for me to voice controversial points of view and provide different and insightful views on the world. I must admit, I have no academic credentials in philosophy, economics or politics. With science, well, I have an A grade in A-Level chemistry if that counts for anything. Having said that, I have written an (unpublished) economic treatise addressing Spain’s economic crisis, in which I provide various cogent solutions for the survival of Spain’s economy. As for philosophy, this new-born interest has introduced me to many a wise man, and I believe that I am now able to voice my philosophical ramblings. As I am already proudly listing my limited achievements, I might as well mention that I am an amateur poet. Nothing serious as yet (and I am sure you can deduce that from ‘amateur poet’) but I’ve composed an anthology of 60 odd poems, and an anthology of 20 Spanish poems (emulating Pablo Neruda’s Veinte Poemas de Amor). I am inclined to humour and wit, which I hope my readers will enjoy in this oh so serious life. Do not get me wrong. I am not averse to seriousness. Far from it. I merely think that nowadays, humanity takes seriousness to a stratospheric level that life loses its meaning. Which brings me nicely to the introduction of my first topic, the age old enigma: what is the meaning of life? This is my first time blogging, so I implore you to spare me negative criticism (given the nature of my blog, my request is, I see, extremely ironic). Constructive criticism I welcome with my arms outspread. Enjoy.

P.S. You will find in some places that I have began an argument and only dealt with it superficially. This is not due to a lack of ideas, nor indeed to lack of commitment on my part. I will broach a controversial topic and leave it mildly answered so that I induce you to think and form your own ideas to the topic being addressed. The proverbial ‘sowing a seed of doubt,’ if you like.