Monday, October 17, 2016

Thank you for being an amazing companion.  Thank you for always being such a loving cat, and for being amazingly adorable and caring.  You always greeted us every time we returned home.  You always wanted to be brought to the food bowl and you loved spending time with us.

You were so charming and amazing my friends would always ask how you were doing.  Your intelligence, sweetness, and love captured the hearts of so many, even those who'd never met you personally.

I know that whenever I left for Canada, you would go to my room looking for me.  You would do the same whenever one of us wasn't around for longer than usual.  You could count and you remembered people.  Whenever someone was home alone, they could be sure that you would be nearby, napping away, and occasionally pestering for food.  You were never needy in the way other cats were.  You enjoyed quiet moments when everyone was lounging about.  You loved being the centre of attention but you never wanted too many pets.

You had so many protocols and routines that, while occasionally tiresome, none of us ever truly grew tired of.  To you, eating was a social interaction and you loved it whenever we would push your kibbles around as you ate.  Your favorite thing to hunt was birds.  Rats were easy and posed little challenge.  You loved hunting birds so much that birds stopped landing in our yard.

You were a fierce fighter; fighting sickness and numerous challengers.  Your mere presence struck fear into the hearts of the neighborhood cats.  And yet, you were surprisingly caring.  Whenever a litter of kittens was born in our yard, you always seemed to look after them.  You always put on a front of machismo but you always had a tender side.  I remember once you climbed into bed to snuggle with me, and as soon as you figured I was actually awake you hopped off pretending that you weren't being adorable.

Thank you Peach Cooper, for an amazing decade with us.  I will continue to cherish every wonderful moment we've shared.  I hope you have found peace wherever you went, and that you are playing in fields with lots of birds to chase.

Until we meet again.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Eating in public during Ramadan should not attract harassment

Yet it does.  As Ramadan comes to a close, I feel like I should pen this article.  It will most likely be a fairly short article.

This past Ramadan, I have heard unsettling stories of people being harassed for eating in public.  Not just Muslims, but non-Muslims too.  I feel this is wrong.  One's fast is purely between themselves, and God.  You do not know what ailments the person may be facing that is preventing them from fasting.  For example, chronic hypoglycemia can lead to seizures and if emergency medical aid is not given, can lead to death.  For the ladies, they may be on their period, something which prevents them from fasting.  C'mon guys, we've learned this in school.  My 4 year old cousins know this.  Your actions are inadvertently telling me that you know/care less about your faith than a 4 year old.  That's embarrassing, bro.

A common retort is that they are 'disrespecting' Muslims by eating in public.  Bullshit.  It is you who are weak-willed.  You see another person eating and mentally you've succumbed to the seduction of food.  You should see it as a test of your resolve and your faith from the Almighty.  I was often told that the Almighty does not give challenges one cannot handle.  If you believe in this, then you have failed in a test you should have weathered.

Furthermore, those of us fasting in Malaysia should be grateful we're only fasting an average of 13-14 hours a day AND that we are fasting in a country where many companies give a bit of leeway so Muslims may leave the office early.  Personally, if my co-worker wants to eat a 7-course steak dinner in front of me, I cannot say anything, but I am extremely grateful in their consideration.  In return for their consideration, I do my best to not make them feel uncomfortable whenever they need to have a drink or a quick snack, even if it is in front of me.

In many other countries, such leeways are not given.  You are expected to work the regular hours, and you may be the fasting for 16, 18, and even over 20 hours!

We were taught in school that Ramadan is not simply a time of starving and dehydrating oneself; but rather a time of introspection as we are to restrain from sexual relations, false speech (insulting, back biting, etc), and fighting.  It is also a time where we should be working to mend any strained relations with one another, REGARDLESS of faith.  And yet today we see some who have sadly not done so.

Remember; don't be a dick.  If you see a non-Muslim eating in public, leave them the fuck alone.  You don't see Hindus barging into Victoria Station saying you're disrespecting their religion by consuming beef, do you?  No.  So reciprocate that understanding and tolerance that has already been extended to us.

If you have read up to here, thank you for your time in reading and please feel free to share your opinions in the comments.  I will do my best to reply.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Toying with the idea of a new article format and a new blog

I've been thinking; since most of the articles I have been posting of late (despite the infrequency of my posts) are definitely of the... opinionated type, I will apply what I have learned in university.  By that I mean whenever I post an article, I will do my best to include sources.

Will it be a pain to format the references section in this medium?  You can bet your bottom dollar it will.  But I feel that if I do not do this, my arguments lack credibility.  How many people read my blog?  Probably only a few.  But again, this blog was never really created as a platform to reach the masses.  It has always been a place for me to articulate some of my opinions.  In the past, I encouraged discussions in the past but due to Blogspot's somewhat annoying comment/reply system, the fact that I do not have many readers, and compounded by my general distaste of people who get riled up and leave nasty comments without presenting any valid arguments, such discussions have been very far and few in between.  I still do welcome well thought comments (regardless of opinion) but I have not been stating that for a long time.

Well, now I am; IF YOU HAVE A VALID COUNTER-ARGUMENT TO MINE, PLEASE SHARE, I WOULD LOVE TO BE GRANTED INSIGHT INTO DIFFERING OPINIONS.  I think it is a great way we can learn and better understand one another.

Now, the burning question is whether I want to go all out with the citations i.e. APA style, etc., or Wikipedia style and put hyperlinked sub/superscripts  Or perhaps a combination?  I might use APA since I am most familiar with that, but my in-text citations shall be hyperlinked?  Hmm.  I'll think about that.

If you have been keeping up with my blog for the past god knows how many years through all my inconsistent posts, my sincere thanks and I hope to be able to post more articles on a more regular basis in the future.

In addition to posting more articles on this blog, I am toying with the idea of starting a new blog.  Perhaps one where I will post weekly articles?  Also in the same vein as the updated format for this blog (sources, etc) but with a much more refined focus.  Perhaps tech?  Perhaps applications of tech?  Sports?  I am an avid cyclist and triathlete and I love watching rugby...  Or maybe even photography?  I'm told I'm quite good at it.  All of the above?  That would certainly open up the range available articles I can write.  Well, if I do get it started, I will be sure to update the few readers I have on this blog to check it out.

Thank you for reading!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Are we really moving towards the banishment of racism or away from it?

In this era of hyperconnectivity and superfluous information feeds, there is literally more information pouring in to us than we could ever possibly process.  Thus, we pick what we feel is either a) important, or b) entertaining enough to give attention.

This has led to increased awareness of racial and gender inequalities, systemic injustices around the world, so on and so forth, which is a good thing.  It is very important that even those unaffected by some of these injustices are aware of them.

Naturally, one of the prevalent causes this generation has decided to rally around is racial discrimination.  It happens around the world.  Which is good as it teaches us that there exists races aside from which we grew up in.  Literally a whole world of different culture, languages, food, etc!

On an unrelated side note; It has always bugged me how some movies portraying interplanetary relationships (such as Star Trek) have generally shown worlds with a homogeneous culture and yet on our very own planet, there is no such thing as a single, homogeneous culture.  Sure, there are common levels of courtesy, our languages can be traced back more or less to one another, but it is still not the same level of homogeneity portrayed in some of these movies.  Perhaps that is what it will take for us to successfully achieve interplanetary and interstellar travel?  A world united as one?  Eh, OK, digression over.

Back to the point I wanted to make; the current generation is all for "not seeing color" and "treating everyone equally".  Then comes along articles like this, as well as what I perceive to be increased use of terms like "white people", "cultural appropriation", etc. used in social media.  It appears that, despite our apparent desire to not see differences in race, we are more keen than ever to categorize one another into boxes.  Then there's the boom in multiple sexual identities (pansexual, etc).

Yes, it is fine to identify as something (black, white, pansexual, heterosexual, whatever!), but I feel that this movement of openness and liberation from societal norms at one point actually becomes regressive.  And that point is the point at which we begin defining ourselves by these labels.

In the course of my short 23 years, I've had the privilege of having friends from literally all across the globe and not one single time did we ever look at one another and go "oh, you're black!" or, "oh you're asian!".

In my humble opinion, true acceptance of one another occurs when things like Black History Month or the Gay Pride Parade are abolished.  Why?  Because at that point we will have actual acceptance; one where such factors are so irrelevant that we don't even bother mentioning.  Exactly the same way you never meet someone and go "oh, you have two eyes,".  It is accepted.

Also, there is this 'small' ethical concept called Rawlsian Justice.  It is a ethical principle that is meant to apply to the basic structure of a well-ordered society, in which everyone decides on their principles of justice and ethics from behind a 'veil of ignorance'.

To quote John Rawls,
" one knows his place in society, his class position or social status, nor does anyone know his fortune in the distribution of natural assets and abilities, his intelligence, his strength, and the like.  I shall even assume that the parties do not know their conceptions of the good or their special psychological propensities.  The principles of justice are chosen from behind a veil of ignorance."

In other words, if you did not know where in society you would be placed, nor what kind of society you would be placed in, what sort of society would you like to be placed in?  The idea behind this is that one does not know where one might end up, one is far more likely to choose a society that is fair to all of it's members.  You then act upon in this manner.  I am greatly paraphrasing here and it is likely that I am missing a few key points, but this is what I understand of it.

My motivation for the 'banishment' of events like the Gay Pride Parade & Black History Month are more or less driven by this ethical principle; because to me, these choices are so private/irrelevant/out of your control that it doesn't need mentioning.  You're a dude who's into dudes?  Big deal.  Are you a productive member of society?  Now that I want to know.  To reiterate, things that often the source of discrimination (race, sexual orientation, religion, etc) are either none of my business or not something the person can control.

Furthermore, I've always felt like the more an issue was highlighted, the more it actually became an issue.  Forgive me as I may begin getting slightly controversial here.  Now, for example, Black History Month in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.  The idea behind it's inception was marvel and honorable; to ensure better representation of the history of the African diaspora in schools and communities.  Unfortunately, it did not evolve past that.  In my opinion, the next logical step would have been to fully integrate the lessons such that they became part of the everyday curricula, thereby eliminating the need to celebrate Black History Month.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Many of these events are still being held because members of these communities are still being oppressed and for that, I am not calling for the immediate halt of such events.  What I am saying is that the same communities who are facing injustices should always strive to push the evolution of these events.  Otherwise, like Black History Month, it will not flourish into as effective an education tool as it could have.

In a sense, the more a group keeps saying they are different, the more others will treat that group differently, defeating the purpose of movements to dismantle discrimination.

Another example that I feel supports my argument is the Black Lives Matter movement.  Again, the idea behind the movement is good and many of its members are working hard to ensure their voices are heard through the right channels.  It is important to call out racial injustices wherever they occur.  However, in this age, we have actually become so ingrained in our races that some members of the Black Lives Matter movement interrupted one of Bernie Sanders' speeches.  They looked at him as this elderly white man running for present, and they flat out judged him for that.  They judged him as another racist white politician.  Exactly the same kind of judgment they claim police officers are doing to African Americans.  They didn't bother listening to him, they didn't bother investigating his stands and motives further.  A quick Google search (we are almost literally carrying the entire world's collective knowledge in our pockets for crying out loud) would've told them that Mr. Sanders has been a stout supporter of equal rights for a long time; something the members of the Black Lives Matter movement advocate.

This article is a bit more ranty than I would have liked so it is more than likely that I did not address all issues equally, but I certainly hope that I was able to demonstrate that the ideas I presented can be used analogously into many of the issues regarding discrimination.

I question whether our movements towards the breaking down of racial barriers is actually reinforcing some of the walls that separate us.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Do Not Be So Quick To Judge

Many moons ago, I penned an article about how I felt many muslim Malays (one of the three main races in Malaysia) are very quick to judge and condemn all Jews as laknatullah (damned by god).  Just to reiterate what I said in my aforementioned article, I vehemently abhor this behaviour.  Also, this is most definitely not the view held by the majority of muslim Malays, but rather those of a troublingly large minority.  If you wish to read my entire article, you may find it here.

Back to what I wanted to say; this article will be a sort of extension of my aforementioned article.  It is just something I came across, and wanted to share.

As some of you may know, the geopolitical situation between Israel and Palestine has been littered with controversies, humane atrocities, harsh accusations, and at times, violence.  I just wish that more of my fellow muslim Malays weren't so quick to judge all Israelis and/or Israeli companies as 'evil'.  An excellent example is this company; SodaStream.  They had moved their plant OUT of Israeli-occupied land because they disagreed with Israel occupying Palestinian lands (a move they said was actually counterproductive as they were forced to release many Palestinian workers in the process).  Recently, they were forced to let go of their remaining Palestinian workers because the Israeli government is not renewing their work permits.  You can read the article on this here.

That's right, an Israeli, Jewish-owned company is fighting to help Palestinians.  As a muslim, I was always taught that we should live our life by the Quran.  Well, here are some verses that encourage peace among races and oppose racism;

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ خَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافُ أَلْسِنَتِكُمْ وَأَلْوَانِكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّلْعَالِمِينَ
"Among his signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors.  Verily, in that are signs for people of knowledge." - Surat Ar-Rum 30:22

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
"O people, We have created you male and female and made you nations and tribes that you may know one another.  Verily, the most noble of you to Allah is the most righteous of you.  Verily, Allah is knowing and aware." - Surat Al-Hujurat 49:13

The second verse in particular I find interesting.  Humans are curious creatures.  In our pursuit of knowledge, we have learned to touch the stars.  As such, God made us into various races such that we will be curious and learn about one another, thereby encouraging both friendship as well as the pursuit of knowledge.  At least, that's how I interpret it.

Do not mistake me as a pious or knowledgeable muslim, I merely despise seeing blind hatred of a race, and have a good internet connection through which I am able to do some googling, and look up these verses.  A lot of my opinions voiced here are mine and mine alone; they may not reflect those of whom are much more learned than I am.

If you've made it this far, thank you for reading.  I hope you have found this article at least slightly insightful.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Feel Free to Ignore this Post. :)

DISCLAIMER: There is no structure with this.  There is no goal.  I am just typing away to get my fingers moving.  It has been a while since I was able to type for long periods of time without cross-checking my facts or googling a potential argument every few seconds.

What should I rant about?

School?  That's overrated and stressful.  Paris?  Many have done it and quite frankly, I feel no empathy.  I rarely have.  I am upset that ISIS Daesh has the nerve to claim to represent Islam, but other than that, I feel indifferent.  Indifferent is a strong word.  It's not that I do not feel terrible to what has happened to the citizens of Paris, but rather I have lots of things I must worry about myself.  So, I'll nod and say "oh, that's terrible" and get back to work without missing a beat.

I feel alone.  Dumb.  Outclassed.  And yet, today, of all days, I have a tinge of "I can do this".  No pep in my step, but rather this steely resolve to see my semester through.  This is good.  This is a step in the correct direction.  I am happy about this.

Perhaps I'll swing by the Killam to print a few pages of motivational stuff to put up in my room.

I do feel sad for one thing, though; I lost my Bose earphones. :( I was rushing between classes and they must have slipped somewhere.  I have retraced my steps all over campus to no avail.  On the bright side, Black Friday is coming up so I might be able to score a new set for a more palatable price.  I need to submit my hours, though.  Every time I have attempted to do just that these past few weeks, no one has been at the office.  I've e-mailed Yashar asking for the best times someone will be there.  Hopefully he'll give a straight answer.  I need the cash.

I need to get started on my second ethics essay.  I'll probably do peer-to-peer.  It is something I have at least a vague idea on what to write on.  I don't know jack about Canada's Copyright Laws and quite frankly, the document looks like a pain to read, and I would really much rather be able to read that before I write on the topic.  Don't worry if my sentences don't make sense.  This is more me talking to myself more than anything else.

I also need to try and put up a good set of slides for my presentation with Aqeb this Thursday.  We will present on wearable technology.  I still have trouble locking down the flow of our presentation.

So far I plan to talk about:

  1. a brief history of wearables.  I found a neat little infographic to use.
  2. Definition of modern wearables
  3. Types of wearables
  4. Where do wearables come short
  5. Where can wearables go from here.
OOOH that gives me an idea....  Type out the potential script and then divvy it up.  Woots.  I've forgotten how cathartic writing is.

If you've made it this far, congratulations and thank you for reading.  :)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

To Live in Fear

If by some extraordinary circumstance, you have not heard of Ahmed Mohammed and his arrest over his homemade clock, here is the article from CNN;

Now that you're up to speed, I am writing about this because it precisely this Islamophobia that makes me fearful of posting anything remotely related to Islam on my more public social media sites.  No matter how peaceful the message, I fear for my safety every time I post something that even mentions Islam.

Why?  Because even an American-born Muslim is arrested for showing his ENGINEERING teacher a homemade clock over fears that it is a bomb.  I fear that some government organization may be watching and deem my post 'sympathetic to extremism' or something equally nonsensical.

I legitimately live in fear.  This past week, I added a classmate on Facebook and he immediately noted, "oh, you're Muslim." Disclaimer: he did not mean it in any harmful/offensive way.  He himself is Muslim and just had not picked up that I too was a Muslim.

It is not a crippling fear; I still wake up in the morning without worrying about it.  But I do frequently catch myself being fearful of sharing certain types of posts, etc.

It is not the fear of having my faith challenged, rather it is the fear that some of my acquaintances and classmates will see that and be biased towards me.  I do not want to be reaching into my bag to pull out my computer only to be jumped by an Islamophobic student screaming that I'm trying to kill my classmates.  Sometimes I laugh at my own seemingly irrational fear, then I read a story of how an intelligent young boy tried to show his teacher a homemade clock only to be arrested and charged with making a hoax bomb.

In Hong Kong International Airport, I recall being stopped right before I boarded the aircraft for a random passport check.  I did not think anything of it but it certainly did feel like I was singled out because the name 'Muhammad' popped up on the screen.  In that particular instance, am I right to feel singled out?  Perhaps not.  After all, if the security crew can prevent any sort of tragedy, aren't they obliged to do so?

Your digital life does affect your physical life.  For example, if your Facebook has nothing but photos of you at wild parties, you can be sure that employers will be reluctant to hire you.

Same goes with my fear of facing discrimination.  Alhamdulillah, so far, it has not happened.  But that fear is always there.  What if something I post on Islam is misinterpreted despite my best interests.  What if there is actually an Islamophobe amongst my acquaintances?

I've prattled a lot without bringing up any good, objective arguments.  My ethics professor would probably flip but oh well.

Perhaps, one day, I will no longer live with that fear at the back of my mind.

I guess that's all for now. Au revoir