Monday, October 31, 2011

My Hat - the Fedora

Let me just start off by telling all the desi's out there my hat is NOT, repeat, NOT a cowboy hat, that is an entirely different type of hat all together.  Just b/c the hat has a big rim and is brown colored does not make it a cowboy hat.

Anyways, I got the urge to make this post after I was told how I should wear and handle my hat one too many times and frankly, I don't care how you think it should be worn or handled.  If you think that is the right way, get your own hat and deal with it your own way.

I want to discuss the SEVERAL reasons I started wearing my hat because I didn't just have one set necessity or desire to fulfill in my mind when I was buying it.  Judging by the title and picture, you may have already guessed that I wear a fedora, an "Indiana Jones" fedora to be exact.  While deciding to get and wear this kind of hat was kind of on a whim, the decision to wear one was in my mind for a while.  Why I decided on this kind of hat also was in part to that thought process.

One reason was my faith.  People always look at Muslim women and say their oppressed and such b/c they're made to cover their heads but in reality, both genders should cover their heads for reasons of modesty and so forth, it is just a little stricter for women for such and such reasons that require another blog post at another time but I digress.  Therefore, I thought it would be good to start following that more proper dress code as well as another step in the direction of becoming a better Muslim.

Another reason which stemmed from the first was that I wanted a hat that looked nice and not totally out of place as well.  I've seen Muslims who wear the different prayer caps and such but I wanted one that fit me and what I liked.  The fedora was also a popular hat in the first half of the 20th century and so part of the culture; in fact, it has made a bit of a resurgence, sometimes in more modern form, among a number of people I've seen around on campus and in the city and not just on older people.  I also like the classy look and I've stated before that if I could wear a suit a lot more often and not look perpetually overdressed, I probably would.

The third reason I believe developed from the second in that I rationalized good uses for it.  I got this hat in the summer of 2010 and I used to work a lot in the sun.  Therefore, I thought it would be good to have a hat to get some shade while I walk around.  I would find out later that it was also good against other elements of the weather such as rain.  Of course, if that's where my list of reasons stopped, I might have just gone with a baseball cap but its not where it stops.  Also, a baseball cap isn't as good against the rain.

The fourth reason is of course obvious from the brand of hat I got; I really like the Indiana Jones series and of course Harrison Ford is the man.  He made the hat an icon and not something that was a mundane, average piece of attire as it was in reality at the time.  I thought it would be cool if I could wear that hat in normal day without the premise of being a commie-nazi fighting archaeologist and still rock it.

I feel like that sums up how I feel about it and I feel like I've accomplished many times over what I intended for it.  I receive many compliments for it, at times from total strangers too.  I'm not naive though, I'm sure many do it out of mockery but that's fine because I wear it because I like it and I have established it as part of my persona.  I don't think many people can recognize me now without it and many people use it to find me in crowds.

I was of course reluctant at first.  I've been pretty hesitant on many things throughout my life and I still am many times but I've gained confidence through the years as I've interacted with others more and so forth.  The one time I remember talking with friends about making a lifestyle or appearance change, they said that people would care only for so long before it became a norm.  Of course, somethings are more weird than others and are harder to overcome; one of my friends told me of a friend he had who used to put Elmer's glue in his hair everyday and that perplexed people for the longest time.  People still do joke around about me and my hat too but are more casual about it than before and don't care much otherwise.

The last push for me to wear the hat finally, I think, was one conversation I had with a co-worker and friend a day before I started wearing it.  I actually wore a baseball cap that day, possibly as a fruitless attempt to acclimate myself and others to me covering my head before I put on a fedora.  Alternatively, I may have been gauging people's reactions to it which were comparably tame to non-existent in comparison to the fedora.  Anyways, I asked my friend if it'd be a good idea to wear a fedora around everywhere or some question like that; he was quite supportive of the idea and said there would be nothing wrong with it.

There on out, I've worn the hat as normally as I've worn shoes or pants wherever I've gone.  The one thing that does get to me though is etiquette and I've always been here or there on it depending on the company or how I felt about the situation.  I take it off when I'm in a casual place and I'm gonna sit down or spend a lot of time there like studying or eating or hanging out at home.  When I meet a non-Muslim teacher or boss or some person of import, I take it off.  However, if I'm in a gathering of Muslims where there are some people wearing it, I will likewise keep it on and for a religious person of import I would keep it on as the etiquette changes for Islam.

Before I finish, I just wanna explain my opening statement because it's really something.  Most all non-desi people I meet know the reference to Indiana Jones and some of my friends jokingly call me Indy because of it.  However, most all non-desi people I meet instantly make some reference about me wanting to be a cowboy or something along that line.  It reminds me of my landlady who went to Egypt and said the people there would make one or two cultural references, the same ones every time, to her being American and it eventually ticked her off.  I'm more relaxed about it but its still a little irksome if I think about it meticulously because it isn't a cowboy hat; cowboy hats are an entirely different kind of hat and I've actually seen one of my desi friend's 2 cowboy hat's from when he used to live out west.

Now hopefully I'm not so weird anymore.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Religion is a scapegoat REDUX

 In fact, it never was.  People like to have straightforward answers to things without having thorough investigations that require them to ponder over subjects longer than they feel like doing, especially if the subjects involve the question of various ideologies and have some degree of confrontation with various people.  Religion is one such subject unfortunately and it doesn't help that it has been scapegoated convincingly by the very people who claim to follow the religions themselves.

I will use mainly the history of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) in this article as that is the most well known to me and the most example filled.  They are also one of the most recent of the big religions so their progress or regress is much better documented.  I will also include the history of the founding person of our community whom we believe to be the Promised Messiah, Prophet Ahmad (as).  For more info on that, read my first blog about what I believe.  I will also refer to the followers of the prophets as believers, the society, and the community.

Since the beginning of humanity, in the belief of the Muslims, religion has been a way by which God communicated with humanity.  He would send prophets who would bring laws and some that would refresh and maintain the messages of previous prophets that brought laws and he did this to all peoples.  In every case though, there was opposition as there would be to a new message of any kind which makes radical amendments to society.  Eventually though in the life of the prophets or following them, these opponents would convert to that message and the people would be dominated by that faith.  However, many of these opponents and even the supposedly sincere did not change because they saw a great truth and benefit in it for humanity but it fit their needs in society.

A lot of the opponents would usually be of the people who are the previous ruling class of the society the prophet came to and naturally would be the first to antagonize the prophet, his followers, and his message.  When they converted though, not all but some would do so only because they realize this is where their society is headed and instead of dying out, they should adapt to the new society and take control within it.  Some would even realize that before the opponents and from the beginning they would they would convert only to go along with the crowd and insert their authority into every affair whether it is needed or not.

Over time with the death of the prophet and his successors, believers would stray from belief not because they never believed but because they believe their prophets to be the root of their faith and if he is human and must eventually pass away, then his faith is as such and to them can be dictated any way they want afterward.  Those who were always mischievous and joined the society because it was where society was going take these opportunities to lead the communities how they wish and interpret the messages of the prophets how they wish.

The other trouble that arises during the lives of the prophet and his successors is the education of believers both worldly and spiritually.  As the message grows and spreads in the regions it is for, it is harder to educate the followers equally and as quick as the message is spreading.  If many of these people cannot be taught their new faith properly and in detail and they bring in much of their own culture and beliefs whether or not they are accepted in their new religion.  It is especially difficult if there already elements in the community who are trying to subvert the message being spread and they spread a corrupted message and there are such elements in the new peoples as well.  They take great advantage of the lack of education in the faith of the people the most.

These various aspects contribute to the original reasons by which many religions had supposedly turned to violence and become "the cause of all the world's problems."  It is of course apparent that it was not the religion but the people themselves who changed their goals in faith from peaceful to oppressive.  In the latter days of all religions, it is blatantly apparent that religion had only become a means to carryout whatever the leaders required of their citizens.  Going on from the above mention of people lacking education being led by mischievous people, they know that it is a touchy matter for the people and so they exploit it like anything can be exploited

Religion is not needed to create the disruption in society that exists in place where religious fanaticism is but its a good medium because people follow it on a wide scale and its a way of life.  Anything that people can strongly affiliate to can be used to create violence.  No better example of that exists I think than in the modern century where we have had wars with Fascist, Imperialist, and Communist countries because they had different political ideologies.  I don't recall religion being used by them to expand their territories and wage world wars and regional wars against people who didn't do anything, 2 of them didn't even have a religion if I'm not mistaken and the other one dealt with superiority as a people, not superiority in belief.

Looking at the history of Islam, there were people in the time of Muhammad (saw) who were known to the most devout Muslims as the Hypocrites.  Whenever the Muslims would be weakened by a loss in battle or some treaty or expedition they had to carry out or even some little societal disturbance, they would always be the first to make a big deal out of it to the rest of the Muslims and take advantage of the situation to create their own spheres of influence on them.  Thanks to God though, every time they were subverted by words of the Prophet (saw) or his actions because as hypocritical as they may have been, this wasn't modern day extremism and they followed as much as they were required to still be called Muslims but not be involved in any great undertakings.

At the death of Muhammad (saw), many uneducated peoples who had joined Islam in the life of Muhammad (saw) left because of the lack of education and grief of his death.  It helped that many of the same people in these peoples who joined to take advantage of the situation stirred these people to leave and rebel against the newly unified Arabia.  These were subdued not because they left Islam but some did not pay their taxes which they thought unnecessary at the death of Muhammad (saw) and others because they joined the armies of the people who stirred rebellions and were threatening to tear apart the state.  It has become imprinted in peoples minds that it was because of apostasy because many of the rebellion leaders claimed themselves prophets as well but again it is only another example of how religion was only abused and scapegoated both by those leaders and historians who misinterpret the Muslim action against these people.

Later on in the careers of Muhammad's (saw) Caliphs, two were assassinated because of the machinations of said people who were either part of the crowd because they thought it in their best interest or had been corrupted by said people.  The first was the third successor who was doing a standup job leading the state and even had the Quran standardized as there were many different versions where the verses and chapters were in different orders and such.  The antagonists reasoned to their followers that he was acting as a corrupt leader and was to be deposed violently on religious grounds yet they only sought disorder so that they could take control of the state.  This is confirmed in the assassination of the fourth Caliph.

The last Caliph of Muhammad (saw) was trying to regain order in the Muslim state before he was to go after the miscreants but the family and closest followers of the former Caliph wanted quick judgment on them and on this, no reason of religion, was a war fought.  On both sides were these people hiding when they came to clash in several unfortunate battles and both sides they gave their advice.  When the Caliph tried to make peace based on religious reasons because Islam does call for peace wherever possible, they treated him just like the previous Caliph and killed him for the same flimsy reasons because it was them who did not follow the religion but only used it.

After the fourth Caliph, many leaders and dynasties succeeded him but none are considered legitimate Caliphs of Muhammad (saw) as they weren't chosen by the people or their advice and many were like kings instead of Caliphs who spent more time with spiritual matters.  It was when the true Caliphs fell that the education of peoples far from Arabia started stunting and the Muslim world started going further and further away from Islam.  The kings, as I'll refer to them because I don't believe them to be true Caliphs, utilized Islam more and more for the purpose of conquest and then subjugation of minorities and just all out violence the further time went on.

In my community, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, in our beginnings, there were numerous people that joined that would later leave and in the life of the Promised Messiah (as) were studious followers but showed signs of not truly believing or having faults with what they were following.  It was with our first Caliph that they started machinations of trying to get rid of the system of Caliphate because they thought a group of people would be the better to run the community and the Caliph remain a figurehead.  He had many followers though as he was the closest follower of the Promised Messiah which is why he was elected as he was.

It was in the time of the second Caliph was elected very young but was quite learned as he was personally taught religion by his father, the Promised Messiah (as), and the first Caliph, that they just got up in left.  Many of them were middle aged and had spent a great deal of time in the company of the Promised Messiah so they refused to be led by him and chose to start their own community.  They've written a number of books on why they split and have attempted to support religiously why they did and they have even gone so far as to reject the very basic reasons as to why they were a separate community in the first place despite the fact they clearly believed it while the Promised Messiah (as) was alive.

Mischievous people will always be around and we should be able to examine them and see who is doing something for an alternative reason aside from allegedly "following his religion."  On that note too, religion is an ideology, not a person, you don't just follow it blindly, you interpret and follow it.  If you interpret it with mischievous intent, you will get mischievous results and it will not be the fault of the religion as it is only a message.

Blogger's note:  I realized after writing this that I had already written a post on religion being used as a scapegoat and I was tempted to delete this and do something else but then I realized some I addressed points in this which I did not cover in my previous post.  Further more, I feel that this a response to the bigger issue which has plagued the view of all religions as a whole in the eyes of the people of today and it should stop because it makes people as narrow minded as the people they are criticizing for using religion for violence.  I also included examples in this one from my own religious community and the time of Muhammad (saw) as I have read some more on their history.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Gods and Generals was a good movie

The critics are either stupid, atheist, politically correct, or have never read the original book.  Most of the criticisms leveled at this movie completely miss the point of it as well as everything in the movie that runs counter to said criticisms.

The book and movie is the first part in a Civil War trilogy started by Michael Shaara and finished by his son.  It tells the story of the American Civil War from John Brown's raid to the battle of Chancellorville through the eyes of different people, particularly soldiers and officers of note on both sides of the conflict.  The second book details the battle of Gettysburg, again through many eyes, and the final book finishes up the telling up to the surrender of the Confederates at Appomattox courthouse.

It is true that covering a major portion of a war in one book is different than covering just one battle such as the second book did but Gods and Generals pulls it off really well anyways.  Putting that in film form however and you get a movie more than 4 hours long and people are reintroduced to the intermission.  It can't be helped though and it was limited release to begin with because it was aimed at a target audience who have read the book or would rather see a visual depiction of the Civil War.  Considering this, it was unfortunate that for the theatrical release, it was cut down to a little more than 3 and a half hours, taking out many very interesting scenes which would have added to the story and shown more of the spectacular reenactments of battles.

Another interesting criticism that was leveled at the film was how some of the people talked.  They talked in very poetic fashions, carrying out soliloquies on a whim.  However, considering the education of the people in question, their ages, their background, their societal status, and their time period, I thought it fit in well.  Several were teachers or generals and would be natural speakers.  At times they did seem strained though but that's besides the point.  Jeff Daniels hadn't played his part for a long while now so he was naturally rusty and Robert Duvall replaced Martin Sheen for God knows what reason and he had a hard time filling his shoes in my opinion despite being an exceptional actor in his own right.

The main criticism that I've heard is that the movie was pro-Confederacy.  I'm no fan of the rebellion they carried out, I look at it as such and will not change my view of it.  However, even the worst villains in history have a human side to them which someone will show in a movie and then people will complain about it.  Hell, even Hitler has had several movies made, good movies, which showed a more human side to him.  However, in all of these movies, their craziness is still quite apparent and they are by no means the good guys of the story.

I remember Tora! Tora! Tora! showing the Japanese in a human light with their planning and carrying out of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and it is part of why people originally did not like it but its acting, story, and focus are a million times better than today's Pearl Harbor movie.  Comparable to Pearl Harbor's special effects for its time, the special effects for TTT were great for its time.

In G&G, Jackson and the other generals are shown fighting for their home and their view that the Union was invading them unjustly.  Yes that's a sad thing and you feel for it but any history savvy person should and would know the politics of the time and how even learned people like Lee and Jackson were manipulated emotionally.  Of course the book does talk more about that than the movie, I do find fault in the movie for that, but it is still discussed with some of the main Union characters such as Chamberlain who is a big player in the 2 sequels.

Anyways, Jackson and Lee were big players in the Civil War and these books and movies were to tell their stories as well however they saw it, even if we blatantly disagree with them.  On showing their craziness, Jackson repeatedly asserts that God is most definitely on their side and how if he had the choice, he would take no prisoners.  Lee in the final book is so distraught that God would not give them victory.

That of course leads to the other criticism of religious innuendo.  For God's sake people, no pun intended, the south is where the Bible Belt lays, its where people like Billy Graham came from, where the KKK was formed, and so forth; if the main characters include southern generals, its gonna get a little preachy.  The fact that these people who were supposed to be so learned and level headed ended up leading people to fight for BS reasons about states rights and defending their homes when in reality they were fighting for the foolish actions of slave holding landowners (secession) says a lot.

The final criticism solidifies in the minds of people who didn't read the book or know the history that this is a bad movie is how the Union is portrayed.  The main Generals, Burnside and Hooker, were arrogant and made stupid plans.  Not much was shown of Hooker but the way the Confederates ran through like 10 lines of Union soldiers in like 5 minutes of movie time suggests he might have forgotten they were at war, especially since a lot of the people in that battle were just camping and sitting around.  Burnside sent thousands of troop across an open field where Confederates were perched on an opposite side hill with cannons bearing straight down at them.  People make fun of Pickett's charge but this really took the cake.

It is unfortunate that the top generals at the beginning of the war were mostly politically instated and not very well versed in war where there were more seasoned officers who had experienced the Mexican American war around.  They did show those officers and they showed their frustration too at not being able to flip off their commanding generals at the time.  General Hancock was the man on the Union side as were a few others that I don't remember as well because I read the book a while back and its harder to tell who's who in the movie.  I wish they had shown Hancock's repelling the Confederates near Williamsburg in the Peninsula campaign, that must have been his most epic scene in the book.  Instead, they just show his epic frustration at being commanded by idiots.

On the portrayal of the troops, they were shown at Bull Run better than expected in my opinion considering what I've actually heard about Bull Run.  It was Fredericksburg and Chancellorville that were the saddest and truest though.  When the Union invades Fredericksburg, they ransack the town after having sieged it for some time.  There are generals on scene who try to put a stop to it by force but what's done is done.  That of course did happen in the book though as I remember it, they acted that way because they had lost the battle, not because they had conquered the town but no matter, it is a sad thing to see and to know that they did do that.

They also showed it through the eyes of a rich southern family who lived there in the movie which wasn't in the book, that might have been a little pro-confederate if they didn't own slaves.  Yeah they were treated well, like family actually, but then later they show the mother slave crying and telling General Hancock that she wishes that she and her children could one day die free.  That's about as pro-Confederate as Uncle Tom's Cabin.

One last criticism I remember is that they filmed the battle of Antietam but they don't put it in the final cut.  You can't even find the footage anywhere online; I can't anyways.  It is a shame but again, if people had read the book, they'd remember that it was only talked about after the battle and they didn't talk about the actual battle when it was happening.  The defeat was talked about through Lee who retreated grudgingly and the victory was talked about through Chamberlain whose men were not allowed to take part in the battle because of some scare that they had some sickness or something and they were quarantined.

There was one funny thing that I found kind of annoying.  With the exception of General Armistead who's previous actor in Gettysburg, Richard Jordan, sadly passed away along with his character, I don't know why they changed a number of character's actors.  Tom Berenger and Martin Sheen were awesome as Longstreet and Lee and it was kind of annoying that they changed them no matter how excellent the replacement actors were.

The funny part was Stephen Lang who was Pickett in Gettysburg but played Jackson in G&G.  I tried hard to not think of Pickett looking at him but all I could think of was "Whats happenin' to my boys?!"  He looked like Pickett from Gettysburg with a different beard, it was kind of annoying.  Again, Stephen Lang was good but they should have just kept him as Pickett and someone else as Jackson.  They made Billy Campbell, aka the Rocketeer, Pickett which was ok since in Gettysburg he was some obscure soldier who complained about the war but he wasn't as lively as Stephen Lang was as Pickett, he sat there mostly like scenery as did whoever replaced Tom Berenger as Longstreet.

Overall, reading the book and knowing the history, I liked the movie and think it was good, I would give it 4 out of 5 stars.  I don't give it all 5 stars because I have only the movie Gettysburg to compare it to which was so damn epic.  It was not a pro-Confederacy movie, it was not a religious based movie, it was simply telling the story through many eyes on both sides, many of which were Confederates.  Even the director had stated that he had this plan envisioned that this movie would show the Confederate side more as main characters and when the third movie would have come along, the Union characters would have been more central.  They shouldn't have recast so many people except where they couldn't help it of course; rest in peace Richard Jordan, that guy was awesome; even his name was epic.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mr. Smith went to Washington and became a Real American Hero

Another of my facebook notes I'd like to share briefly, this time about a movie.

"Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" was an excellent movie, this country definitely needs A LOT more men and women like Jefferson Smith today.  Its kind of like "Legally Blonde 2" in that he is very optimistic yet naive about politics and that he fights strongly for his beliefs but it doesn't have the same silliness or odds that were stacked against Mr. Smith; he doesn't even have the same education Elle Wood have, he was a small town guy thrust into the position of some power he barely had any knowledge of.

The movie is about a Mr. Smith who is made senator after the death of another senator because he knows nothing about politics and so the politicians and political machine of his state want to use him to just sit in, do what they say, and not cause trouble. However, he decides to make a bill and when the conflicts with their plans, Mr. Smith finds the dirty workings and tries to block them but is then set up with fraudulent charges to discredit and dissuade him from going further.  Initially broken, he regains his confidence through a friend he makes in DC and fights to his last in the Capitol Building despite the vicious tactics that the machine employ to smear him in the state and in the senate.

People know there's corruption today but they think of political machines and either laugh at it being of the past or wonder what's a political machine but the more I look around, the more I see it is still an ever present force in politics. In fact, looking at the problems that Mr. Smith faced, today it seems like they're magnified 1000 times more or so not in the same violent way maybe but certainly in the same political and social way.  They are certainly a lot more clever about it because of the expansion of both the bureaucracy and economy.  The violence they showed I must say may have been over the top not in the sense that it doesn't happen anymore but that it was happening in broad daylight almost mafia style.  Then again, this was set in the 30s or 40s I think so maybe it wasn't far off.

Mr. Smith chose not to give up because he was shown that he could not live with himself or bear to tell the kids in his home town the truth about how modern politics treated the American ideals and truth and justice.  He also could not be bought off with more years in office or threats that he would be ruined for speaking his mind about what happens in his country because he believed in the truth.  A lot of people say they stand for the truth but I wonder how many would stand up like he did to fight for it when the odds are up against them instead of caving in to bribes, threats, and "scandals".  They either can't stand to go the distance or they truly value something more material such as an office, money, or the minimal of what they asked for.  I sincerely hope I would not be that way because I feel that there is no other thing I idea I value higher than the truth.

The truth is a valuable asset, lies are like a house of cards and in time, I believe they always come crashing down on themselves.  As long as there are people out there who believe in it and those who believe in it in our government, I believe things will turn out alright even if we do have to go through hell and back like Mr. Smith.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X) was awesome

I put this in a facebook note last year and is partly the reason I started blogging.  I think maybe other people would like to hear what I think on it too.

The personage of Malcolm X has been severely distorted after his death, something he himself saw coming, as one of being one who propagated violence. In truth, he taught obedience of the law but if there is anarchy or someone is attacked against the law, they are entitled to self defense irregardless of race. That too is upheld in the law.  This was the case even when he was part of the Nation of Islam, it was just racist attitudes prevalent at the time that helped to demonize him as he was a strong opponent of many mindsets of different races held to be normal at the time.

I also disagree very much that his approach to the race problem and Dr. King's problem had varying degree of results because both of them were approaching it differently at different points.  This is in response to a poster I saw at the UMD book store which stated "Dr. King's message" was more successful than "Malcolm X's message".  Its also worth noting that a lot of people also ignored whatever they were saying altogether in the way a person agrees with someone wholeheartedly to their face but refuses to change because that's how its been for him always or he doesn't have the guts to take action.  Also, those further away in time from a certain message will forget it also like followers of Prophets and their messages.

The former more strongly approached the social change, first in just the African Americans themselves and then, when his views changed, people all around but he still focused his efforts mostly on blacks because he identified very strongly to them and knew they needed unity.  At first it was very extremist in the sense that he generalized about a people the way they did him and irrelevant of how justified he may have been, it was wrong.  He also followed a version of a belief that was changed by people to fit one cause but was not only for that cause originally and he found that out later.

Dr. King had all of that but he also pushed for the political change with such bills as the various Civil Rights Bills that were passed but those things by themselves did not foster the change in the minds of the people which would lead them away from racist ideology.  He also seemed to be more of the mind of let alone whatever happened and lets move on which is a good attitude and mindset but when wrong things have been done, most people can't just pretend they didn't happen and eventually they have to be faced.

I think that in the end, they both had a fair amount of success but Malcolm X is less remembered by everyone b/c of his past with the Nation of Islam where he admitted he was not right on many things, particularly of the reverse hate of whites.  It eventually led him to a greater truth but people find it hard to let go of somethings, particularly the media which never portrayed him in a good light and were at the forefront of pushing that everlasting bad image of him.  He also followed a religion which the majority of people in this country can't relate to while on the other hand, people all over Muslim countries know him as well as they knew Muhammad Ali because of his faith.

By the way, the popular poster of him holding a rifle with the caption "By Any Means Necessary" is such misrepresentation and I was surprised to find out that it wasn't even people who hated him that started that if I recall correctly.  He was afraid for the lives of his family and if he had enemies before leaving Nation of Islam, they multiplied afterward.  He believed in self-defense as stated and and also stated is its legality in the law.  If its saying I'll protect my home and family by any means necessary, that's perfectly fine.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Osama is dead, why the details?

I'm sorry if I offend anyone, many things are meant to apply to a general group instead of individuals.

This is pretty belated, I know, and if anyone saw my other post, you'll remember what I said about people forgetting some things quicker than others and/or the press going on to the next big thing in present life instead of beating to death one issue.  I wanted to say somethings about the killing of bin Laden since I had all these ideas swirling around for a while on the different issues with it that people keep raising for reasons unknown to me.  They're unknown because him being dead was enough to elate me in this War on Terror even before I heard it was US Navy Seals who took him out. 

So when some people I knew well and trusted well were pushing so hard to vilify our government worse than bin Laden himself I had a serious "WTF" moment.  Mind you, the degree of vilification varied as did the aim.  All of them also did not question for the same reason and were sometimes content with him being dead but for the sake of principle prodded but even then, there were times I thought it was too much.  Questioning is an important part of being a citizen in a government run by the people and for the people.  Respect however should still be maintained.

To start, I just want to say I wholeheartedly do believe that US troops went into Abbotobad, Pakistan and secretly took out Osama bin Laden.  Its true that our government has given us many reasons to not trust them in the past century but seriously, if you're just going to assume everything they say is a lie, don't be involved in it.  It is similar to criticizing something you don't like or are not interested in or don't know jack about, why are you making a fuss over it?  Also, people in our government are always changing, you can't attach the same transgressions to one person 30 years ago to another person today that holds the same office or is part of the same body.

Branching from that, there are 3 main bodies in the government with many different federal agencies with varying agendas and degrees of power in the various facets of running the country and our operations over seas.  If someone lies and tells it someone else to tell it someone else, how can you hold all of those people responsible if you yourself could easily just be stuck in that rut?  If there was a lie or breach of trust from our government, it is absolutely unfair without knowing the details of where it could have originated to point fingers and vilify people.

It is also always better to have a positive outlook on the nature of people because if you stop giving them a chance, they will head down a one way road to self-destruction.  Its like Lex Luthor on Smallville when Clark trusts Lex less and less for no reason other than him being just as curioius about the other person as it is vice versa.  The only difference was that Lex was smarter and had more means to find out what he wanted.  Similarly, God forbid, our government could go straight down that path of violence and rebellion because there is no trust left between the people and the government; I pray everyday for the welfare of our country and its citizens.  If you think that was a convoluted analogy, then you're probably right, the point is treating someone or something like a villain will eventually make it that way.

Anyways, lets say that the US didn't kill Osama and that he died some years ago of whatever illness they were suggesting he may have died (note "may" have died, not he "did" died of those illnesses as people keep inferring; I never remember hearing any confirmed reports of his death till recently).  Who cares?  He's died, isn't that what matters, isn't that one of the goals we were aiming for in this War on Terror because this is the guy who was the face of one of the worst attacks on US soil in history?  It also doesn't matter how he died because as history has shown, even monsters don't always die a fitting death; in my belief, for some cases it is a case of God letting their evil deeds add up for a greater punishment in the hereafter or there are other reasons, many of which will just digress this topic so I'll just continue.

Then people will bring up the point that they're angry because the government lied about it.  Again, who cares?  Mind you, if I ran the government, I wouldn't lie (if you think I'm naive, maybe I am but I pray that God gives me strength to keep that fortitude) but maybe that's why I would not be good at running this country.  It is the nature of this country to have to lie occasionally despite what any politicians say and it isn't always for personal reasons either.  There is such a thing as "need to know basis" which people who are so bent up about revealing other peoples faults publicly forget about and sometimes put the lives of a few or even hundreds and thousands at stake or higher stakes in the case of terrorism today. 

If Osama died of natural causes or some stupid death not by US hands, it would be elating to hear he died but not as elating as hearing that US Navy SEALs got the job done.  Its like the "Inglorious Basterds" ending to Hitler as opposed to the real ending in history, all the persecuted minorities in Europe were happy when they found out he died but they'd be partying like crazy if it happened like the movie.  So people who have been going all out about the possibility that they're lying to us, you ever wonder maybe they had good intentions at heart?  Maybe they wanted to raise the morale of a country that's at war in two countries, just got out of a war that lasted almost a decade, and hated by the people of many others?  Why can't it just be taken as that?

Going into the issue itself a little, the number of reasons for why it doesn't make sense that Osama was there and the US killed him probably equal the number of reasons a lot of the conspiracies don't make sense.  People with theories have all these doubts which they believe gives the truth and in the process of coming to those theories, they don't realize how many more doubts those theories have.  In essence, those who are going to doubt will be like that always regardless of what evidence is given to them.  They've lost their faith in the government enough that just questioning all out is meant to prove that view.  I genuinely believe that no matter what the government said about his death, it would be seen as a lie in some shape or form by lots of people anyways and probably the same exact people.

God bless America and let it not perish from this Earth.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Disaster Victims Everywhere: You Are Not Forgotten

So I just saw this:

A few days ago, I also saw a similar comment by a friend on the twisters being forgotten for dead terrorists and royal weddings.  I'm quite sad that such a sentiment exists not just because I think its thinking too little of people like me who do care and have not forgotten these people in my prayers and thoughts but also because it sounds cynically presumptuous if that makes any sense.

The news is there to tell about what is happening in the world today and everyday and something notable pops up, its going to go on the front cover, especially if its sells well.  Because something happened a week ago or even a few days ago doesn't mean it will continuously be covered to death for months on end.  The article said that the effects of Katrina are still present but as we move forward in time, we can't just keep our full attention on that one notable disaster and keep crying and devoting all our energies to it. 

Continued donations and community work is of course not wrong but making everyone feel guilty solely about you when good and bad things are happening around the world all the time, trivial to you or not, is not right either.  People will care long after something has stopped being discussed in the news and being posted on facebook in a million statuses.  Yes donations and community work will decrease but so will its need.

Even this story about bin Laden, as far impacting as it has been, I'm starting to notice a decline in the fervor around it just a few days after it happened.  It's still quite lively everywhere because of it and the  news is still deep in it but a few weeks from now, I think it will only have small mention and we will be on the trail of other news such as his replacements and Al-Qaeda's further initiatives and what America is continuing to do about that. 

This whole business of whether it is fake or not too will die down like the question of whether the holocaust was a hoax or the moon landing was a hoax.  I remember at least about the holocaust that the story surrounding people questioning it was in full force only a few weeks before other things came up.  Mind you, I believe in the holocaust and the moon landing and Osama's death and if I feel like it, I'll make posts on them, maybe a few months from now just to tease this point on caring.

One more thing, the people of Japan suffered a great deal worse I think than anything we've faced so far this year, even Katrina couldn't compare with the death, damage, and danger.  They do not however worry about the world forgetting them because they know two things.  First, they must take an initiative in picking themselves up when they've fallen and second, as long as there are good people in this world, people will always care and not let the suffering and fallen people in this world be forgotten.

I'll give a fictional example.  The destruction of the planet of Alderaan was the worst disaster to hit the Star Wars universe since God knows what.  For so many books and movies they kept pushing it forward and making charity cases of the survivors and making us feel really sorry for them.  After a point though it got irritating and pathetic.  People still cared of course but just rubbing it in over and over while dozens of other crises were occurring in the New Republic was a real hindrance and mood killer at points.  Point being, time moves on, so should we.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Religion is a scapegoat

If religion did not exist, people would use other excuses to try and justify their hate and violence so people will follow them, its as simple as that.  However, many people don't consider it as such unfortunately because they either are quite narrow minded on many topics or they've had first-hand bad experience with people who say they do something because of religion.  It is a difficult to task to change the views of many people but the more open-minded people remain, the further we will go away not only from the misconceptions about religion but fanaticism for those who still choose to follow it.

Most all religions have some peaceful roots both in their origins and core beliefs.  They did not originate randomly when someone dreamed of world domination through the generations.  It is when the religion has become so ingrained in the people of society that negative forces see fit to use that strong passionate belief to give them control.  Overtime that merges with the beliefs and practices and it seems as if the religion is the dominating force creating all the trouble when in fact, even if it has become so, it was not always like that and it was made that way by outside forces of corruption.  Its just put up as a face for the most part and the other part involves things being put in to the religion or created.

If religion did not exist, there would still be some strong motivating beliefs and ideas out there to manipulate by corrupt people.  Those ideas, very basic ideas like love or compassion could even be twisted into being evil and wrong when it is only bad people creating that corruption.  So it is quite flimsy to suggest religion is the
cause of all problems in the world, the root of all hatred, or the reason for histories wars.  History is filled with examples where something else started something and then the religion was used to rile it up further because the main reason was too complacent to act on.

Another way to look at it is to look at other reasons wars were initiated in our world.  European and American powers fought Native Americans for many years, breaking treaties, taking land, forcing them to migrate further and further west, etc.  That wasn't simply motivated because they didn't believe the same as they did, they also had a different skin complexion.  The colonization of Africa by European powers and the breakdown of China and its kingdom through spheres of influences and drugs was followed by a wave of religious zeal but the oppression was started by it.  Knowing all this, you wouldn't say that we should abolish all cultures or make people breed so much that races don't exist.  One, that's genocidal and two, it destroys an important aspect of humanity, that is it's diversity.  Same way, religions all hold different views and ideas of the world but only those that choose to use it and corrupt it without remorse for their purposes will sacrifice it in the peoples minds.  Blaming it and calling for its abolishment would serve no purpose.

As I said, history is filled with these examples.  The most basic way to look at it but also the most time consuming would be to look at every war and its causes and the reason for each side fighting.  I have looked at many wars including so called religious wars and could not truly find religion ever being a cause of any fight.  Even the Crusades can be seen as the Papacy trying to increase prestige, land, and influence by starting a full scale war against the biggest threat to Europe at the time; its like Hollywood making movies capitalizing on the tension of the Cold War by making movies about Soviets being evil monster bad guys against the US.  No one would say that Hollywood was being very patriotic by making these movies, they just wanted a good villain for movies to make a lot of money.

To talk about more current events and central examples of the fallacy that religion causes all problems, people in Muslim countries didn't like their corrupt politicians and governments, their lack of resources, the debts they had gained from western powers, the long gone days of glory the Muslims had, etc., not that the West was Christian or Jewish.  That was made to exacerbate the hatred but it certainly didn't start it.  Any fighting that has happened between the Muslim countries themselves has occurred through Western Power meddling from the end of the Cold War. 

They upset governments and peoples there for many decades to counteract the influence of the Soviet Union.  With the fall of the Ottoman Empire, they also divided up the region into their own countries with their own royal families and petty disputes so that there would be little hope of reconciliation and reemergence of a strong Eastern Power such as the Ottomans and others who had been a pain for the Europeans for many centuries.  Once they started overcoming that and other problems started emerging from continuous outside influence in other forms, they just went over the edge. 

To gain some unifying force for violence and retaliation, those who chose to terrorize used the common religion of the people because it was a strong ideology that had not faded so much as it had in the West.  Corrupt governments certainly didn't care as long as their rule was kept intact and whatever deals they had with strong foreign powers was kept.  Current events show however that the people are now getting fed up of even that.  Governments fighting amongst each other too use it.  Both sides in the Iran-Iraq war said their people would go to heaven for killing the other and they would go to hell even though both were Muslim and both had a considerable population of either denomination who fought, Iraq does anyways.

I hope that clears it up some for many people, I spit it out as I see it and as it comes to mind so its not always organized or even very considerate sometimes so I'm sorry if anything offends anyone.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Star Wars: Dark Forces - some comments

I've played the games and now I've read the graphic novels and I've gotta say I enjoyed both a lot.  However, I still prefer the game not just because I don't get to play Kyle Katarn, the most awesome Expanded Universe character I know, but because its like they did some things better in the games.  Also, they sort of deflated some of the awesomeness of Kyle Katarn in the books but he still kicked butt.

The main thing I didn't like in the books was that they sort of just ignored the majority of the first Dark Forces game.  Its almost as if they didn't even happen.  They get the part where Kyle steals the Death Star plans but leave out the whole arc where he destroys the Empires plans for Dark Troopers and became one of the few people who defeated Boba Fett.  In fact, the one point where Boba Fett comes up in the books, he acts like he never met or even fought the guy; maybe it was such an embarrassing moment as a Mandalorian (though not as bad as what happened in Return of the Jedi, such a noob way to go).

This leads to my next point that they didn't just skip the game but they ignored its impact on the people in the Star Wars universe.  Mon Mothma was suspicious of Kyle before he stole the plans for the Death Star and then less so after that but she still was and they showed that in the book.  However, considering how much Imperial butt he kicked in the first Dark Forces game and on her orders, that's pretty rough.

Another thing that was disappointing and I wish they'd have given it more depth was his Imperial Academy training.  He leads one strike mission, graduate, finds out about his dad's murder, finds out the Imperials actually did it, and then he defects.  The author doesn't let him go on more missions which would have given more experience as a soldier and mercenary and also explain his prowess in the video games as a one man army.  It also would have shown him express early on hate and a leaning to the dark side before his force powers came to fruition because he thought the rebellion had killed his dad.  But no, he just does one mission, feels angry and then finds the truth and changes his mind.  Maybe he wanted to emphasize his growth in the force helping him to become this way more than experience which is fine I guess too, it makes it more awesome that he became a Jedi Knight on his own (with help from a dead Jedi Master though) and in such a short time period.  Luke did that too if I'm not mistaken.

Going back to the one man army comment, that is another let down.  He acts more like a spy at times and other times like he's trying to conserve ammo for some reason.  The one time they kind of show off his awesomeness as a one man army is when he infiltrates the Imperial base for the Death Star plans but that's the end of it.  I guess it makes more sense though considering his prowess with the force which continues to grow through the series and most Jedi might go for stealth more than strength but if Knights of the Old Republic said anything about the types of Jedi, it was that some were diplomatic, some were stealthy, and some were soldierly and Kyle is definitely more of the last and first kind, not the second.

I'm also kind of disappointed they didn't bring the live action actors back in the 3rd game for live action scenes but I guess live action scenes in games do tend be low budget and corny often so that's why they just stuck with in game acting for the 3rd game plus they were more necessary in a time when games had bad resolution and live action just looked better.  Mind you, the scenes weren't corny and they were pretty serious and had alright acting but the special effects weren't great.

What I did like was the inclusion of more characters, the game seemed kind of microcosmic because there were just a few speaking characters of any importance in the second and first game with a whole lot of faceless mooks.  Now you got political refugees on the planet containing the Valley of the Jedi, stormtroopers with friends and family, officers with aspirations, and so forth.

I also liked a lot how they explained the back story of the Valley of the Jedi because they didn't explain it enough in the game.  Few thousand years before the game, an army of light side Jedi fought an army of dark side Jedi and they met at a final confrontation where the dark siders made a force bomb called a "thought bomb" and killed everyone.  Its a really creepy and crazy attack too and it made Kyle more awesome that he was able to free all the spirits it trapped.  Here's a detailed article on it too:

Anyways, another cool thing was how he got used the lightsaber so fast, he defeated 7 Jedi Knights so easily, easier than I could in the game mind you.  He didn't even need a lightsaber for 2 of them, one he just shot in the face and the other he just beat to death.  He also uses smart tactics to defeat them such as how he used the anger of one Dark Jedi to make him lose his concentration and then against the Big Bad, he made a force bubble around the guy to cut off his connection to the power from the Valley of the Jedi; I had to chase him around in the freakin' game hacking away with my light saber and dodging those crazy Force Destruction attacks.  On a side note, I wish that attack was more prevalent, its like a Force Hadoken except you don't have to be standing still to use it.

Finally, his relationship with his partner was expanded upon earlier on than in the games too; considering the years they spent together between when they met and the second game, it would only make sense.  In the game though, they just didn't emphasize any of it and it was almost like the developers didn't want a relationship between the 2 and then they changed their mind in the 3rd game.

Aside from that, I enjoyed the whole story and action and awesomeness of Kyle Katarn, the Star Wars universe needed more awesome characters like him.  Its almost like giving a normal awesome character like Han Solo and giving him Force powers.  I might not want them to make a book on the last 2 games though, Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy, considering they delved a lot in the story already in the game as opposed to not so much in the previous games.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hello, this is The Khan

Hey, this is my first blog, you can call me The Khan and if you know me, you can call me what you call me.  This is my first time blogging and some people told me its a good way to get things out there, I'm just interested in getting them off my chest and sharing them with anyone who cares.  Most people don't but thats alright, this way anyone who does can come along and see for themselves instead of me forcing stuff into conversations.

Anyways, like I said, I feel like putting thoughts down about different stuff in my life from my hobbies to my beliefs.  I thought of using facebook but the status messages aren't meant for that abuse I think and I didn't feel like keeping up constantly with a twitter account; I don't have the time for that or the money for a data plan.  Obsessive ability is there but thats the problem I don't want to face.  This I hope will let me sit down and think over clearly what I'm thinking and also make me work on my organizational writing skills.  So here's a few things I can go on about.

I watch and read a good amount of manga or at least I've gotten back into it; I got into from Toonami for anyone who remembers that.  I lost cable for a while and when I got it back, I was shocked to find it was cancelled and so I just watch it elsewhere now which is fine because Toonami had a limited audience to cater to and limits on what they could show anyways.  It would take away from the feel of a lot of shows and also be disappointing that some really good shows couldn't be shown.  So when I do read a new manga or watch a new anime, new to me anyways, I'll probably have something to say, especially if the characters really tick me off.  Its not to say they're bad or the show is but being the outside observer, one can't help point out appalling stupidities even if it is just fiction.

I'm an Ahmadi Muslim and if you don't know what that is, the short summary is in "About Me" and the longer description can be found here:  The main site is as follows:  I'll write about different subjects relating to the Ahmadiyya Movement and Islam and issues relating to them universally and in the group and so on from time to time.

Ever since I got Netflix, I've been watching movies more or less regularly.  With my reawakened anime fervor though, its been halted a bit.  Nevertheless, I do watch movies relatively often, especially when they come in the mail.  I usually don't have anything elaborate to say about movies besides "its good" or "its ok" and I'm usually a really lenient critic in terms of criticizing movies but if its really good or really bad, I'll have a lot to write for it.  This is another reason I'm writing a blog now because I used to put down stuff about the movies I saw and people were confused by my trend or something.

I really love books, fiction and non-fiction.  I am definitely for happy endings though I usually forgive a bad ending if its a war story.  I'm also not afraid to read a romance novel though they're usually few in number in my books to read.  I'm a big fan of Star Wars Expanded Universe novels or all novels on Star Wars.  They're not always the best piece of literature and if the reviews are bad enough or the story doesn't capture me well enough, I don't go for it but I'm a pretty big Star Wars fan so I give a lot of them the benefit of the doubt.  Other books that capture my interests include books on history, war, science, and religion but mostly the ones of my own faith because reading and writing is so important to the Ahmadiyya Community.  Like films, I'm not especially good with reviews but if something really gets me, I'll go on about it.

This is where I always get stuck in writing anything, the ending, so I'm just going to let it anti-climax here...