Sunday, April 22, 2018

Long haul flights for passengers

Recently new long haul flights were revealed and I as an individual passenger was disgusted. Not in the sense that it is wrong but who would want to be in the air for 15 or 16 hours with nowhere to go, killing their time with nothing to do even after watching movies or other stuff on the screen if they are available. The most I can remember is that the longest flight I have taken was the direct flight to Hawaii which was 10 hours in the air (I may have taken longer flights but that I don’t remember) and at that time it was torture since the airline did not provide free movies or television and you have to buy them but the flight was smooth enough that I manage to swallow it. But these long haul flights which are like 15 or 16 hours nonstop flights are really for some people that can endure this.
I mean if you are at your house, you still move around for the above mentioned duration, so how is it possible that with cramped seats in the economy class you would be able to sleep or sit still and if you have some cranky passenger beside you or behind or in front of you or a small child who is constantly crying (even adults can cry in this situation), it becomes unbearable. Even if you have the means to fly first class with enough space for you to lie down, this more than half a day of continuous flight is not for the faint of heart. I don’t want to say never but for now, I am not looking forward to having this kinds of nonstop flights anytime soon or later.

The highs and lows of insurance

I received my car insurance recently and I started to wonder how complex it is for the insurance companies to make judgment about their clients based on age and record of driving. And it is not just the car insurance but any kind of insurance can be involved in this calculation. Car insurance is based on your driving record and the age, for example if you have a perfect driving record and you are in the mid fifties, your insurance will go down but here is the dilemma, since at this age, most of the people who have kids add their teenage kids to their insurance since the kids start driving around that time when their parents are in the fifties and even if your own insurance goes down ,due to the addition of your kids, the insurance shoots through the roof, since teenagers are new to driving and they can easily be involved in more accidents then the more matured ones.
In the case of health insurance, initially your premium does not increase much since you are young and healthy so you may not use health visits but once you get old, you develop some diseases and constantly need health care which drastically increase your insurance premium, completely opposite to the car insurance premium. Something happens with life insurance as your initial premium is less and it goes up as you get older. Home insurance depends upon how much your home is worth and the location where you live, if it is high crime area, your insurance will be high and vice versa. So just like life has its up and down times so does the insurance premium you pay.

The fans

Every category imaginable has fans in the midst. Some maybe very small groups and some maybe very large, some may be very quiet and some maybe very vocal but there fans everywhere for almost everything. Sport fans are the most vocal and obsessive about their teams, but there are fans of movie stars and singers who are equally obsessive about their favorite actors and singers and dream of just meeting them one day. I, for one is also a fan of movie stars but I do not dream of meeting them one day like some others do, if it happens, it happens otherwise I not going to keep on lamenting about not meeting one.
I have seen some fans crying when they see their favorite celebrity and some even faint which is absurd but everybody has different emotions and sometimes it is hard to control emotions when you thought what was impossible becomes possible.Although obsessive fans are okay as long as they stay within their limits but there are some who may cross the path of privacy and decency of their stars and may even endanger them. And it has really happened in the past as some deranged fans have literally attacked the people when they have come very close to them. I know most of the fans are literally in love with their favorite stars and would never do any harm to them; it is the one who are borderline psychotic obsessive ones that the stars need to be careful with. And since you don’t know who this psychotic one is among millions of innocent looking fans, it is for this reason; the stars keep on having bodyguards and maintain delicate balance between engaging with their fans while keeping a safe distance from them.

On the lighter side-Movies-Strangled (2016-Hungarian)

An innocent man is found guilty of murdering and raping several women while the actual killer is out loose. Enter a detective who tries to find the real culprit. Good effort by Hungary, although some scenes are disturbing. Recommended with caution.

On the lighter side-Movies-Jailbreak (2017)-Cambodian

Cops transporting a key witness to a prison become trapped in the prison and must use all their skills to escape. Enjoyable martial arts action movie from Cambodia. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Children of the Corn: Runaway (2017)

A pregnant woman escapes from the children of the corn, only to be followed by them in another town years later to induct her offspring. Silly continuation of the series should be stopped. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-I remember you (2017-Iceland)

A couple moves into an abandoned house only to find it haunted with its past. Okay thriller. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Forgotten (2017-Korea)

A man sees his brother being kidnapped. He returns but the brother suspects that he may not be the same person. Intriguing mystery movie. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Another Wolfcop (2017)

Werewolf cop springs into action when a businessman tries to convert the inhabitants of a small town through his brewery into weird animals. Gory and bloody, if you like the first one, enjoy this one too. Recommended with caution

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Living in the Past

It is nice to live in the past as someone has said, it is cheap. But constantly being nostalgic about the past does not help the present and definitely will not help the future if you keep on dreaming of recapturing the glory of the past without much leg work. Many individuals are guilty of it and many countries are also in the habit of dreaming about the past glory of their country that once was. Sometimes I do reminiscent about the past years and I believe many people do but I also not keep on glorifying my achievement of yesteryears and not do anything to surpass that glory. And here is what some people and countries do to sleep on their past glories while lamenting the current state of affairs. For example some old people lament the current state of affairs and long for the time when life was simple and manageable.
In the United States, the current trend I suspect is that to dial back to the time when America was mostly white (I may be wrong but the policies of the government sure makes it so). In the Islamic world, there is still nostalgia about the past glory of the Islamic empire and on it rest the dreams or the fantasies of the Muslims who dream of regaining that glory and to achieve this some of the Muslims have gone to the extreme right and started violent and deadly confrontations with fellow Muslims and Non Muslims to achieve their goal in a violent way. Other Muslims just lament their present states and keep on harping about how great they were before without trying to achieve greatness again with hard work and persistence. But I believe this is not only related to Islamic world as I am sure other countries and culture lament the time past and not happy with the changes that are happening to fast for them to appreciate.

Being identifying with one race while born in another

This may not be a recent case but there was this lady who said that she is African American and she identifies with them with having grown up with their culture and also gotten a job at a national Black civil rights organization only to be exposed by her parents that she was born white. Now she still insists on being a black (albeit a light skin one) and she has kept on going this charade. And by charade I mean, I can you say that you are black just because you are exposed to black culture and raised among them. I have lived in Hong Kong for some part of my life and I love Hong Kong Movies and fascinated by Hong Kong, but I have never said that I am Chinese by virtue of being raised and liking their culture. And there is a name for it too; it is called Transracial which is being identified with a race or culture different than from which one was born in.
For me it does not bother me a bit where you consider yourself one race or the other. It is a free world and if you want to identify yourself with another race or culture which is different from your original one, be my guest. But the fact is do the people of that culture accept you as their own even when you literally worship them. Even when you become immersed in their culture totally, I have strong doubts that the people from that culture will accept you as their own and that is the dilemma they will face when and if they decide that they want to move to the country to which they are currently identifying themselves. Even if they stay in the United States, they can call themselves whatever they want but they will still be treated on the basis of their birth not on the basis of what they think they are currently.

Is it ok to use slurs in talking with your own race?

Controversial post: Reader's discretion is advised

I don’t know how to phrase this but I will try to explain as much as possible and since my blog is in English, so I will only concentrate on this language. If you have heard people talk to each other, usually there are greetings and then you talk but there is this curious thing about using slurs when talking with your own race and again this is in English so I stick with this as mostly African American people when talking to each other use the N-word as much as possible and this has seeped into the entertainment culture and it has become like a street language. I have never heard white people say hi “white Trash” or hi “Redneck”, it is just a normal greeting but you hear the hip hop and rap music, there is a plethora of the N Word and despite the half hearted efforts of some people, the use of it has not been stopped or curtailed.
The only thing that has changed is that when some non black person says it, they have to apologize for using  a racial slur or it becomes a big deal like you have offended the whole African-American community, but have literally heard this word spoken on the streets of New York without immunity and even some non white people use it while talking with their compatriots without realizing it being a racial slur. And I would be blunt that most of the activists rallying against this word don’t want non white people to use it while not doing enough to discourage among their midst. I may be wrong but I suspect that the African American community don’t want to retire or abolish this word as it shows their uniqueness and they want to be the sole owner of this word while raging against anyone outside their race using the word as if it is blasphemy but it is okay to use among themselves however they want. If the use of this word is to be banned, it should start with the African-American community taking the charging and trying to make this word offensive to everyone not just to non black folks.

What’s up with Sanctuary places?

So California has been declared a sanctuary state and some other places where the illegal immigrants (what else do you want me to call them, undocumented people, aliens etc) can rest at peace and may not be reported to the Federal immigration authorities. So some places are defying the federal law against illegal immigrants and helping them protect from law enforcement personnel which is not cool in my books. It seems mind boggling that some places would defy the federal government and the law to protect some people who are here illegally. I mean would you ever protect some stranger who will want to dwell in your house. All over the world, the illegal immigrants are tracked down and sent home even if they have not committed any crimes and are just trying to survive. One would I suppose would not allow someone to enter their house illegally, so how can one country allow somebody to come illegally without any documents.
The argument behind sanctuary places is that the illegal aliens have done nothing wrong except they are here illegally and they are not criminals but the same can be said about some guests in your house who have exemplary in their behavior and help you in every way but still they are treated as guests and not as permanent members of your family. Also I understand the path that people are escaping from poverty and war but so are other people from other parts of the world, if you want to be fair then people from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and some war ravaged countries of Africa are equally deserving of coming here illegally. Every country in the world have border controls and only allow people after thorough vetting and with proper documentation like a license so they same should apply to the United States. It is just my belief because if you not welcome in a country, you should not push yourself to gain acceptance through illegal means.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

On the lighter side-Movies-Coco (2017)-Animated

A boy not understanding his family’s ban on playing music enters the world of the dead in order to find the answer to the mystery. Cute and Enjoyable. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Day of the dead: Bloodline (2017)

A group of people try to find a cure in an underground facility in a world overrun by zombies. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies- Blade Runner 2049 (2017)-Ryan Gosling

A young blade tracks down a former blade runner missing for 30 years in order to protect what is left of humanity in this stylish and visually stunning movie. Recommended for those who have seen the original otherwise watch it as an action movie.

On the lighter side-Movies-Mother! (2017)-Jennifer Lawrence

A couple enjoying a tranquil time together gets their peace disrupted by uninvited guests in this super confused and thoroughly convoluted movie. Not Recommended

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Mourning in Muharram; lesson from the sufis

If one has to pick out one month in the Islamic calendar which is highly charged and eventful it would be Muharram. This month marks the sacrifice of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Imam Hussain and his family which is accorded the respect it deserves. However the methods employed to confer the respect to prophet’s grandson are highly contested and vastly debated. The rituals to mark this month vary depending on one’s religious school of thought. However the matters between these antagonistic school of thoughts are premised on the question, whether it is justified to mourn the martyrdom or not in the Majalis(congregation where the events leading to the martyrdom are recalled) and individually. Those who are antithetical to the idea of mourning primarily point out that the martyrdom itself is the will of God and martyr should be celebrated not mourned. Some more orthodox elements in this camp don’t mark the events even after the demise of a loved one such as Qul, Chehlum, and Barsi (denoting the first, fortieth and anniversary after the demise). Although being aggrieved is natural in such instances however they aren’t expressive about it and rightly so as they are entitled to live as they will. My purpose here is to highlight another sort of response to death of a loved one which many of the readers might not have heard of and relate it back to the discussion above. When a Sufi passes away his demise is celebrated by his disciples as his death marks his union with the beloved that is God. The word ‘Urs’ that is the death anniversary of a Sufi literally means marriage. Hence it is celebrated year after year. This sort of response is simply not of the kind that one would expect when one passes away. However I would like to point out that some of the disciples who were closely associated to the Sufi mourned and pined over the demise of their master. Two examples will clear what I’m trying to convey here. After the Shams of Tabraiz, Rumi’s master disappeared or passed away(it’s not known with certitude if he died or disappeared), the people noted that Rumi used to weep so loud that his shrieks could be heard in every corner of the religious seminary that he taught in. Likewise, when Nizam ud din Aulia passed away, his disciple Amir khusro was so aggrieved that he didn’t leave his master’s grave for six months and became increasingly frail. Therefore he himself passed away after six months. This clearly depicts that pining over the demise of your loved is a natural element of human nature that can be cathartic, even the ones who were pre ordained by their master to celebrate their demise couldn’t curtail their emotions. Hence we should not trivialize the matter whether mourning is justified or not specifically in the month of Muharram as this month is a lot more than just mourning it teaches selflessness, empathy and patience which everyone forgets practice.
Submitted by B.H.

Malala’s return

Malala Yousafzai, the youngest noble laureate has finally returned home. Although her bravery is unprecedented for which she was justly acknowledged by the international community, but still she isn’t accepted as a representative by the majority of People in her native land. The conspiracy theories which Pakistani’s are in love with pervade every aspect of her tale of bravery. Rather than being hailed for her achievements and bravery she is subjected to unqualified accusations as being a foreign agent who is defaming the nation at the international level. Without introspection the community at large carry forward their barrage of accusation, sometime they equate Malala with the victims of the tragic Peshawar attack in which multiple pupils in a school lost their lives and many wounded are still convalescing mentally or physically from the trauma they witnessed. But we need to bear in mind that just because they were not acknowledged by the world as Malala was doesn’t discredit Malala of the contribution and sacrifice she made. She could be the face of all the victims who are afflicted by the haters of education, who leave no stone unturned to impede and discourage their educational endeavors. Therefore rather than ostracizing any of the victims we should focus our energies on voicing the cause for which the innocent school goers sacrificed. Recently in the U.S after the Florida school shooting, the student mobilized the community and 300,000 people turned out on the streets to raise awareness regarding gun violence and ask for the needful to be done so that such incidents don’t occur again. Tragically in Pakistan rather than fighting the mindset from which Malala and students in Peshawar suffered we are busy labeling who is the real hero and who isn’t. I have a dream of seeing a mass mobilization by the people here on the same lines as in the U.S. under the leadership of those who have suffered the most I.e. Malala and APS students of Peshawar. Whereas the love of conspiracy theories only obfuscates the real cause for which both Malala and other victims suffered.
Submitted by B.H.