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?"
"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.
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.
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.
it be?’ I whispered to myself incredulously. Was it indeed Sherlock? The Sherlock?
Apparently so, according to The Times: “Horowitz has captured Holmes
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?
began the book with very high expectations.
I was slightly disappointed.
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
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’…”
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.
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.
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.
it was my expectation of meeting the original Sherlock that disappointed me.
Because I didn’t. I met someone else.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.