Thursday, December 27, 2012

Real (Muslim) Men don't beat their wives REDUX

Note: If you haven't read my first post on this (hence REDUX), read it first.

So I was thinking more about this subject for a while now where there are other safeguards for women in Islam and marriage that both critics of Islam and fanatics who impose their savagery on women forget both out of selective reading and lack of serious attempt to understand the reasoning behind certain things like why is "beating" your wife even brought up? I've already addressed that in my previous post about the subject but now I will discuss a point that has been brought to my attention both on twitter and the same debate that made me write my previous post on wife beating in Islam.

I've gone over everything I could think of that proves that a woman is not allowed to be hurt in anyway no matter how much of ruckus she causes for the family but I want to go back to the point about tapping her with a feather or toothbrush which the lady in the video kept bringing up. It didn't occur to me then but from a woman on twitter who had lost much of her faith in Islam, even if a man does this w/o even thinking how stupid he looks doing it, the act of him using an implement on her to express anger can be emotionally scarring. It represents that he sees and treats her like a slave or servant.

Again, I'm putting aside all the safeguards in the previous post that would just stop a man from doing anything more than harsher than a divorce (which I will elaborate on later actually). I want to discuss what would happen if a man takes full advantage of this and uses a toothbrush or feather or whatever to hit his wife. There are 2 things that are obviously not going through his head when he does this. The first is what the Islam says about a woman beating her husband and the second is what the Islam says about divorce. As far as I know, it's only hate, anger, and pride, all of which Islam is against.

On the first part, the Qur'an doesn't say anything about a wife hitting her husband other than what isn't already stated about any Muslim, man or woman, hitting another Muslim. I already pointed out in my previous post how the verse on wife "beating" can be interpreted as her being abusive toward her husband. She's already angry with him and being abusive towards him for it so striking her with anything whether it's a feather or toothbrush isn't gonna change that she's coming at him with a frying pan when she was previously only punching him or something.

It's not a last resort simply b/c it's wrong to hit women or it will look stupid considering the restrictions, it's a last resort b/c God knows the first 2 measures, talking out a problem and then total separation for an extended amount of time, will work fine on its own. To my knowledge and understanding, those who beat their wives, toothbrush or fist, do it as a first resort, never last but instead the only resort. They just see their ignorant interpretation of the Qur'an to be ignominious punks and go all out like the dogs they are. Contemptible savages are contemptible savages no matter what their belief.

The second part is a reference to the rights of either gender to divorce. This is actually another issue many anti-Islam people bring up, that women must ask permission for a divorce from a judge and if he doesn't grant it, well, tough cookie. The truth is, a woman has a far easier time gaining a divorce than a man does. What has been interpreted as the reverse is the result of ignorance and fanatics being in charge of many religious courts in countries such a Pakistan where they turn every law in Islam made to protect women into a law made to condemn them.

It is true, a woman does need the permission of a judge to divorce but let us examine actually the smallest reason a woman needs to gain a divorce from the ahadith. A woman approached Muhammad (saw) regarding divorcing her husband. He asked her two things, first, did he beat her? She said no. Second, did he cheat on her? She said no. He asked then why she wanted to divorce and, to paraphrase, she said she didn't love him and for that, Muhammad (saw) gave her a divorce. In contrast, for a man's divorce which is described in great detail in the Qur'an, he must wait 3 months so that he should rethink his divorce and reconcile with her.

So think about it, if a woman is so emotionally hurt by a husband who strikes her with a feather that she loses any affection for him, all she has to say is that she doesn't love him or better yet, say that she was hurt by his action. The worst that can happen from a divorce by a woman, not counting the breakup of a family, mind you, is that she has to return her dowry that he gave her though at least there is no strenuous disputes over who gets what, having to deal with someone who is revolting to the woman.

In summary, beating your wife is not cool or Islamic and even trying to do it "Islamically" will make you look stupid, the point of it all, it might backfire even more violently, and the woman might just leave you for being an idiot. Furthermore, if you think you're at the stage where you need to beat your wife, you really aren't and you should talk more with her or separate if you haven't already or stay separate for a little while longer b/c that's even what Muhammad (saw) did. No feather, sticks, toothbrushes, or fists touched his wives.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pamela Gellar's Hateful Advertisement

As with the slanderous movie against Prophet Muhammad (saw), the latest ads being put up in the NYC subway and now the DC metro by Pamela Gellar should not require a rocket scientist to show that they are hateful. She has made it clear she does not like Islam or Muslims and has allied with groups and people such as the EDL and Robert Spencer who are on a Crusade of a sort against Islam and the so-called "Islamization" of the West. Nevertheless, people are confused as to why they should be offensive and again their ignorance is both harmful to the people being offended and harmful to any effort of interfaith and intercultural harmony. Therefore, this rocket scientist will try to explain why they are hateful to him and many other people.

Here is the ad:

 
The first part is a broad insult to humanity. Throughout history, more advanced civilizations have eradicated and/or conquered lesser developed civilizations and/or different cultures by saying that they were "savages". Th Americas, Africa, and Australia involved long wars of aggression against people who already inhabited an area of land based on the case that they were Godless savages that needed to be saved. The so-called "civilized man" therefore resorted to slavery and butchery of millions of people over hundreds of years that have left deep rooted hatred and ill-feelings till this day and a mark of shame upon humanity. To then say that such conflicts are justified is insulting to our growth as humanity.

The second part deals specifically with the actual conflict between the Israelis and it's enemies or those who practice "Jihad". Those who support the ad say that it is obviously about the Israelis fighting groups like Hamas and Hezbollah but if that is the case, why does it say Jihad and not Islamists or terrorism and so forth? Jihad is an Islamic concept, yes, and Islamists are Muslim, albeit it pretty cruddy ones, but so are over a billion others that do not support Islamists and their methods of fighting and they certainly do not all support their definition of Jihad. This part is where the prejudice of it's author comes to light.

Because of this, the ad is made into a religious matter as opposed to a political one which is what it really is and in the process, the religion and its followers are made out as savages. The truth is that Jihad is a broad concept that is practiced by all Muslims and of which the majority practice it to better themselves and convey a message of peace on behalf of their faith and not violence. Jihad means struggle or striving in Arabic and not Holy War which is what opponents of Islam have propagated and Islamists have furthered through their wrong actions. There are 2 types of Jihad: the Greater Jihad and the Lesser Jihad.

The former is the Jihad which all Muslims practice in themselves and outwardly through their words and actions. They strive to better themselves as Muslims and also promote a message and image of Islam which shows it's true beauty. The latter is the Jihad which is practiced in defense of persecution when there is an active effort by an enemy to stop the worship of God not just by Muslims but people of all faiths. This too requires unity among the Muslims to carry out but as they are divided and their governments are of a political nature and not religious as some will push that they are, there is no legitimate use of it in modern times. It's illegitimacy is even more apparent when we see conflicts between Muslim countries being coined Jihad by both sides such as the Iran-Iraq war in the 80s.

Therefore, the practice of Jihad by the majority of Muslims at large is a peaceful one, not one of violence. Those who claim they are waging Jihad against countries like Israel and the US are misguided and it shows when they cannot form any unity with other Muslims on such fronts and when their methods involve targeting civilians. Israel and the US technically do not persecute people by law and the rights of all are technically guaranteed. There is no declared program to wipe out any particular faith though there are crazies who voice that sentiment from time to time, including leaders in the federal government. What happens inside the country can be and has been protested by many people but when groups like Hamas incite violence, those efforts are wasted.

So while a lot of Muslims might be sympathetic to the grievances of the Palestinians and have similar, stress on similar and not the same, views as Hamas or other groups, that doesn't mean they support their methods or their most extreme goals and they definitely don't agree with their definition of Jihad so they should not be grouped with them as savage. Furthermore, even if the Palestinian statistics show a majority who support Hamas and their efforts, its expected of the people that are in direct contact with the people they are at odds with but it doesn't represent all Muslims everywhere, even in the Arab world. There are many Muslims and some Muslim countries that have accepted Israel as a legitimate state and have been called tools of the West for it by the very fanatics who call for violence but those fanatics remain the minority, even if they threaten others to follow them through fear and desperation.

There are also non-Muslims who don't believe in Jihad or probably don't even support Hamas but many of them, particularly in Palestine and countries like Lebanon, are ardent opponents of Israel alongside their Muslim brothers. Even if they aren't believers in Jihad, many will fight Israel in a war with countries that are declared enemies of Israel and a Muslim majority. Therefore, the ad might as well call Arabs savages as a whole because it implies that more than it implies Islamists. Many Arab countries have sizable non-Muslim populations who share the same animosity towards Israel as their neighbors. Lebanon is 46% non-Muslim and Palestine 25% non-Muslim but both have joined in fights against Israel because they have been equally grieved by Israel's policies. There are Jews that don't even agree with Israel's policies in the West and in the MidEast.

In summary, the ad is an insult to the sensibilities of all of humanity in trying to disguise a conflict between political powers as a religiously motivated war between civilized man and savage where the latter is using his religion. Without any distinction, this is incorrectly being applied to over a billion people who have different views about its practices, majority of which are peaceful yet not stated as such. Specifically, it is people of the region which Israel occupies, the Arabs, who are called out as savages both by being a Muslim majority and opposing Israel and/or it's policies while disregarding that many non-Muslims also live in the MidEast.

It is therefore not only Islamophobic but racist. I hope that others do not fall for the naive and ignorant arguments that it targets only violent people where the vague language and background of the promoter clearly demonstrates that the ad is directed at a larger demographic.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Breaking of the idols in Mecca


I don't know why people choose to look at individual events without background knowledge of what happened prior. Its like blaming the North for the Civil War without considering any of the violent politics that took place in the South regarding slavery and the propaganda about rights being taken away by the North being made up to turn the attention away from the issues of poverty and slavery.


Muhammad (saw), after taking Mecca back from the polytheist Meccans, went to the Kaaba and smashed the idols there and erased all depictions of people and/or gods used for worship too. On the surface, it is intolerant and uncalled for but then you read the rest of his life and the history of the Muslim community up till then, you find that Muslims were suffering and facing intolerance in Mecca long before this event and many died or were horribly maimed. They were even starved to death at one point.

This was because they believed in One God as opposed to the 360 or so gods that the Meccans had placed in the Kaaba. They publicly announced their disbelief in them and their belief in Muhammad (saw) as the prophet of Allah. The Meccan leaders and their faith and ideology had a strong grip on society and this new faith which was much kinder to the general public, had a much different belief system, and did away with many practices they held sacred for a long time was hurting not only their influence and prestige but their business as Muslims preached to all that came through Mecca as well.

The Kaaba was a shrine that the Meccans, Muslims included, and many Arabs from all around, believed was built by Abraham (as) and his son Ishmael (as) from whom most Arabs derived their ancestry. Muslims said he built it for monotheistic purposes as the first house of worship towards One God while Meccans believed that on some level but also gained the belief overtime that they needed intercessor gods to communicate to Allah and so those gods took on their own importance over Allah.

The people who ran Mecca were also in charge of the Kaaba. So whoever gained control of Mecca had the right to run the Kaaba as he/they pleased. So coming to the point, the Muslims didn't just rise up and break the idols out of some modern day Mullah rage like with the Taliban and the Buddha statues, they were heavily persecuted, forced to flee Mecca with many of them having only the shirt on their back, and then instigated against by the Meccans and their allies.

They came to a peace treaty eventually which did not stop any persecution that was still happening in Mecca or other tribes but stopped hostilities. A Meccan ally broke that treaty, a treaty in their favor, by attacking a Muslim ally and so the Muslims came to Medina in force prepared to fight if they had to. However, Muhammad (saw) made peace with the Meccan leaders and took control of Mecca without a fight and so to came the Kaaba in their possession. In this case, they had a right to remove anything they did not think belonged in the place of worship under their custody. If I bought a church to make into a mosque, I wouldn't keep the statues of Jesus (as) or Mary (ra) or the glass windows with the saints in them. Of course I wouldn't just break them either though in this case, there are plenty of Christians around and breaking their statues wouldn't do anything to their faith but it would piss them off.

That is the other thing that people don't understand. The Meccans' instigation against the Muslims was made into a very ideological fight. For example, Muslims fought the Byzantines and the Sassanians but they didn't do it for their faith and one proof is that they spared their places of worship (not including sporadic cases here and their of violence). Even after taking Arabia, many people were still polytheist with idols elsewhere remaining and they were not destroyed until they themselves converted to Islam eventually. Basically the logic was simple for the Meccans, if they won, their statue dieties were above Allah as being the All-Powerful God Muslims believed him to be and if they lost, they'd see, as they did after the statues broke, that the gods they put so much faith into for squashing the Muslim influence were powerless.

In fact, in one battle where they thought they had killed Muhammad (saw) and his closest companions, they were chanting loudly how their god Hubal had brought them victory over the  Prophet Muhammad (saw). Muhammad (saw) infuriated that the Muslims said nothing in return told them to respond that God is greatest despite the Muslims being in tough spot and knowing that, the Meccans retreated anyways also quite possibly because their faith was shaken visibly and audibly from Muhammad (saw) being alive and the Muslims still having fight in them despite taking a beating.

Going back to the civil war analogy, slavery as an issue was diverted a lot by the southern elite in an attempt to legitimize breaking away from the Union in the eyes of the masses who didn't give a damn about slavery because most were economic slaves themselves. The Emancipation Proclamation, while it did not free the slaves, returned it to front and center as the issue of the war and why the South actually split. The point was driven even further home when blacks troops were enlisted to fight in many engagements as they were literally now fighting for their rights against the abominable institution of slavery the southern elites seceded for in the first place. They too had their influence and prestige to maintain at the expense of the welfare of the average people.

To sum it up, the Muslims destroying the idols was not an act of intolerance but a political and ideological one that both sides understood just fine both because of their culture and how they let the conflict go in the first place and it was not a practice that happened over an over generally speaking either.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

NES games are hard but a lot of fun


Note: NES = Nintendo Entertainment System; SNES = Super NES. Also, whatever I talk about here probably applies to other consoles like SNES and the SEGA Genesis but NES is most influential in my mind and the true milestone in gaming history.

And when I say hard, I mean hard, they got you yelling at the screen in jibberish and obscenities when you lose and when you beat that boss that was only like the 3rd in the game but so hard for some annoying power he had or what not. My favorite moment of rage is when its some small enemy that is annoying for one reason or another be it that they're small or frequent like bats and birds (damn those bats/birds to hell!) and when you kill one, you flip out on it to show your dominance; reminds me of the story of the little man who slapped the wrestler on his bald head and the wrestler proceeded to pound the crap out of the little man who continued to laugh while the wrestler wasted energy in raging and hurting someone significantly weaker than him. Yeah, that makes me look bad but at least I got that damn bat right?

Regardless, they were some of the most fun games I have ever played, even more than some 3D games of modern times. They had this appeal to them that can't be captured. In a way, they were more real than modern games. For example, one really annoying trait of a lot of NES games was no save option. When you had a password option, it was like 20 characters to put in ranging from lower/upper case characters to numbers and symbols and you wonder how much better the gameplay could have improved than it already had if they had used the extra memory they spent on the password system for the gameplay instead. Anyways, in real life, you don't get to start from the last save point or even input a password but I doubt most kids would bother with that unless it was a particularly long game. Multiple lives is an issue too but for games where you die one hit deaths, that balances it out as there are many things human can survive in real life. Beat surviving hundreds of bullets to the head with bandages.

Another thing that is quite appealing is the music. There's something about 8-bit tunes that are 30 some seconds long that keep looping which keeps you going. Its like a jingle from some catchy commercial or the introduction to your favorite Saturday morning cartoon. There also aren't a lot of long lyrics, usually incomprehensible, which need to be remembered to hum along with it. Its particularly interesting to note that good NES music kept you going, especially if its a particularly hard game where you die a lot because you'll hear more of it when you come back. Imagine 8-bit Eye of the Tiger, except not just for training. They also make cool ringtones and alarms; thank God for the man who made available the tunes for Mega Man 1-6 on the Android market.

Also, a lot of games on the older systems had a lot of freedom. I don't mean lack of linearity though some games did have that, I mean freedom for the imagination. These games did come with manuals which gave stories and characters and even controls (will get to that in a bit) but who reads manuals? I do but I like to think I'm part of the minority. When they do, its still just text and some pictures of the game but they don't always help in actually getting through the game and there is where the adventure was. You could spend hours playing the game and still be less than half way through. Nowadays, you're led along like its a movie which has its own appeal but its not the same adventure I think. Tutorials are quite necessary now also, you drop straight into most any FPS without some onscreen help or tutorials, you might be at the first stage for a long time.

Finally, the controller. It had a D-pad, a start button, a select button, and 2 "action" buttons, that's it. There was a beauty in such a simple design for such difficult games. Mastering a game with so many obstacles and jumps was amazing and noteworthy. It reminds me of a language almost with limited letters which in the proper order can express so much. You didn't need to keep track of 20 hotkeys on a keyboard or 10 buttons with 2 joysticks on a controller though again that has its own difficulties and enjoyment. Nevertheless, that is all you had to defeat the final boss and his 20 fireballs or whatever.


It is a shame though that many people today don't appreciate some of the really good games of that day or wouldn't care to go back and play them for even a while or even on an emulator where the comforts of modern gaming are provided. I think some games definitely should be played again to see the roots of modern games, especially those games which still continue on today in remakes and sequels and prequels and what not on modern systems. It adds another level of awesomeness to the experience I think and to the story of the characters you play now. Its like people who listen to modern music. I don't like a lot of modern music but some people love it all but I think they need to check out old tunes to see how music really evolved because even some pop artists have probably listened to more classics than we think. Books too are a good example as something like Catch-22 or Count of Monte Cristo never get old and show where some ideas originated.

There are many other points I can get into as well as expand on many of the points I got to here but you get my drift. I would suggest checking out some of these games in your spare time if you have any. Even if you can't play, I would suggest checking out youtube videos of playthrough because while they're not the same, it has some of the visual benefits mentioned. Again, if you have time, don't give up your day job or family for it.

BTW, I haven't quite talking about serious topics, anyone who's read my first post should know I said I would talk about whatever. Also, I will discuss some NES games as soon as I beat them. That's another thing I like, they have a lot of secrets which gives a lot of replay value. It is after an adventure, even non-adventure games.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Muhammad (saw) is not our God

File:Mohammad SAV.svg

Long time ago, 9th grade I think, a friend of mine asked me why do Muslims believe in Prophet Muhammad (saw) if he's dead. Years later, back when I still had a facebook, I friended her and noticed she was quite Christiany, more than I ever noticed. In fact, a lot of my friends had this religious side they never really quite showed in school. Also, I have noticed from talking with many friends then and now that a lot of people have this one set understanding of religion and little to no knowledge about Islam passed we pray and fast a lot or something. They certainly have no idea why we believe what we believe as my friend's ignorance has shown.

Now my friend's ignorance was understandable but mine wasn't (to me anyways), I still regret the answer I gave which I suppose was partially a misunderstanding of the question in my confusion about why she thought something like that was important in believing in something. I said that in Islam, we believe prophets have Caliphs or Successors who succeed prophets and continue their message long after they have passed away. I guess that partly answers that question but it was lacking and weak overall. Back then I wasn't too interested in learning history and learning the details of Islam as I am now. Regardless, I had this implacable trust and belief in my faith and I studied it well after that, gaining knowledge over the years little by little.

The proper answer to my friend's question actually comes from moment in the history of Islam at the passing of Prophet Muhammad (saw). It was a severe shock for the Muslim community at the time and they were really unprepared for it b/c they had such loyalty and belief in him and they could not ever imagine that he'd ever leave them.  It's natural after all, people don't consider for example when they're parents or close ones will die so when it happens, it sucks and a lot of people suffer severe depression.

Anyways, a close follower of his who would become the 2nd Caliph, Caliph Umar (ra) took up a sword and said that he didn't believe that Prophet Muhammad (saw) had died and if anyone said so, he would cut off his head. So then, the close friend of Prophet Muhammad (saw) who would soon be the 1st Caliph, Caliph Abu Bakr (ra), came to him and the congregation at the Prophet's (saw) mosque and told them 2 things which sobered everyone up. First, if anyone worshiped the Prophet (saw), he should know that he is dead but if anyone worshiped Allah, he should know that He is Everlasting. Second, he proceeded to quote the following verse from the Qur'an:

[3:145] And Muhammad is only a Messenger. Verily, all Messengers have passed away before him. If then he die or be slain, will you turn back on your heels? And he who turns back on his heels shall not harm Allah at all. And Allah will certainly reward the grateful.

The truth in our eyes is submission to Allah and the message he sent to us through His messengers. Just b/c His messengers have passed on doesn't mean His message will disappear. This is a mistake tribes in the time of Caliph Abu Bakr (ra) made that were far away from Medina, the city of the Prophet (saw), who still had not received proper education from Islam and some of them treated it as another pact with some leader and were therefore persuaded by local troublemakers to raise arms against Medina and the Muslims and not pay any Zakat or the tax on Muslims for the benefit of the state and society.

In our belief, Prophet Jesus (as) was a man and not God or His son as Christians believe. They also believed that no prophet of God has ever been fully innocent of a crime or indecency, to my knowledge anyways, and you pick any prophet, you'll find there is some moment of weakness in their life given about them in the Old Testament going all the way back to Prophet Adam (as). We do not believe in the truth of these accusations and of course the Qur'an, which is the book for all mankind, denounces the accusations and negative accounts given of them.

As a Muslim, we have a greatly differing view from both beliefs and much more so about Prophet Muhammad (saw) as we see him as the chief of all Prophets. We believe God to be the ultimate power to whom we hold allegiance and Prophet is a messenger as any messenger or diplomat is messenger to any head of state and as a messenger, he would be treated with similar reverence and respect as would be given the King or President he represents if he were in the presence of whoever was greeting him. Furthermore, the diplomat would do his best to emulate the outstanding qualities of his King and so would not be the shortfalls people would try to ascribe to him. Now if this diplomat is killed, God forbid, then the King or President would live on and maintain His power.

Another very important verse is the following which is usually recite when someone passes away or something important is lost but also can be said when something causing grief happens:

[2:147] Who, when a misfortune overtakes them, say, ‘Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.’

It is true, our Prophet Muhammad (saw) has passed away but so will we all as have all Prophets and peoples before us but that makes their message no less true or credible or good. In fact, I feel closer to the Prophet (saw) and all prophets b/c of their humanity and their closeness to God and if I believed in their truth, I would be rewarded similar to them in time, Inshallah.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

CGI is where it's going

So there's some angst in my generation, the past generations, and so forth about the rise of CGI in films and its abuse where some films are entirely CGI save the people playing the characters. Personally, I don't have a problem if the story is nice and/or if it was meant to demonstrate in exquisite detail some intense action and/or grand beauty of something. The problem comes from our changing perception on how films should be made and done and even what should be given emphasis in films or should it have a middle ground and so on. I'm specifically talking about anything made by George Lucas who notoriously applied more and more CGI to the prequel Star Wars flicks till everything but the non-clone humans were CGI.
In the past, there have been a number of jumps that have been taken in relation to motion pictures the least of which don't even include the introduction of motion pictures for entertainment. Can you imagine how many people were equally fascinated and repulsed by the idea of actors not playing parts in front of a live audience? Forget that its becoming commercialized, it was crazy to think that people would want to go see people having already done something but not be there in the theater and because its recorded, it can't be changed in any way to liven it up and it'll age quick, who can keep their interest in something like that?

A few decades later, they incorporated sound into the mix and then that really stirred some emotions. Charlie Chaplin, famous silent film star, said something along the lines of films having dialogue would be the equivalent of a piece by Beethoven having lyrics. And again, it was an attack on an art form and style which had been so popular where in silent films, people could express their emotions strongly because there was little other way to do so and it still retained that theater and opera style. Nevertheless, people learned to love it.

Over time, other things came like color films, advanced sound systems, digital cameras, better prop setups made of things other than wood and plastic, etc. and again and again, the older generation would resent it while the newcomers would embrace it wholeheartedly. For example, I hear people complain about how hyped up with effects the new Star Trek was but I wonder how the fans of Captain James T. Kirk felt about Star Trek:The Next Generation with a sleeker ship, a holodeck, Klingons with crests on their foreheads, etc.

In the case of Star Wars, there has been a 20 years or so gap between the sequels and prequels where the original utilized a lot of up to date tech to make all the models and sets in its time. So I don't understand what people were expecting with the prequels, dated special effects and scenery, something out of a 70s film and slow moving fight scenes/space battles? They're as bad as the Trekkies who flip out over the new Star Trek tampering with their nostalgia of the original series, a series which like the original Star Wars films was quite EPIC, don't get me wrong on that.

I've also noted something which may have some truth to it. I've heard people say the CGI made everything look so fake as if the metals, plants, animals, etc. that were shown in the Star Wars films were real and these people have actually seen them. What they saw in the original films were sets and props made of plastic, wood, earth metals, etc. so in other words, not from a galaxy far far away and certainly not what the people in the stories are pretending their structures and props are actually made of. It is a case of reality being unrealistic or in this case, a fictional reality. Here's a funny example:

http://xkcd.com/331/

Part of us getting so used to the old style of props and sets is that we assume that is what it looks like in real life or in the case of a fictional universe, what it would like it were real. When Lucas updated the films, he got to use technology which he didn't have before and so he could make everything look cleaner and shinier and more futuristic and maybe that's what durasteel and ferrocrete (Star Wars jargon) actually look like as opposed to styrofoam painted gray (not that the millennium falcon was made of styrofoam). I guess people preferred the styrofoam though b/c it all looked so "fake" in  the prequels.

Going away from Star Wars, I'd like to point out that there's been somewhat of an increase in more animated films becoming full CGI films as opposed to hand drawn cartoons of the old days. They still have them but I really do enjoy these new CGI films a lot as well. I don't think either should really go away but if one becomes more common as it seems like it is becoming, I wouldn't fret if it still delivers a good story with good characters.

In all, I think if a film decides to use a heavy amount of CGI for something, its not something it should be judged on. Its just nitpicky and if people actually cared about about that, then we wouldn't have had any progress in film making or even in classical theater as people want everything to look real while being real or whatever. There are better things to consider when saying if you like a film. The film should not be denounced for it and it should not be praised solely for it.

BTW, This angst kind of reminds me of UAVs, believe it or not. People debate whether human pilots are necessary anymore and whether or not they should be put in harms way as opposed to a drone. Now these drones are operated by humans but you don't necessarily need a full pilot's license to operate them. People who are full pilots complain that its not real flying b/c it isn't the same feel and doesn't allow the same freedom but if they fly a UAV, they say it does work like actual flying, just not physical forces and such. I'm not for either side as I'm sure there's more to it but UAV's have become quite useful in our arsenal despite an older generations misgivings about it and they have proved themselves useful.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was OK but not great


WARNING: Major Spoilers, read only if you've seen the movie, read the book, or like me you don't care.

I recently watched the titular film with some friends on the advice of another friend. I didn't know what to expect, I hadn't heard anything about it before then and had no clue what the story was about and therein lies part of the problem I encountered when I watched the film. Overall, I say it was a good movie with a solid story.  However, it was only after about the halfway mark I could really start making out what the story was.

This is what the story was as far as I could gather it before I went to wikipedia and looked up the details. Its the cold war, MI-6 is carrying out small operations and one group in particular is involved with particular operations related to battling a counter-intelligence agency of a similar nature in the USSR. During an operation, their agent is betrayed and they come to realize there is a mole in their small group so they bring in a retired agent played by Gary Oldman, aka Commissioner Gordon w/o a mustache and w/ an English accent, to root out this double agent. He meets with another agent who is in hiding b/c he was also betrayed and puts together all this evidence from various witnesses and accounts from people in the agency.

Eventually, somehow the head of the agency, who was shown as dead in the beginning in a flashforward, makes a partial title drop by naming the 4 main members of the agency as tinker, tailor, soldier, and something else I forgot. It wasn't spy though but once you realize that he's the only one with a different name than whats given in the title, you know that character must obviously be the spy and this is about 3/4 of the way through the film. There's also apparently an agent in the USSR counter-intelligence agency who heads it and is the opposite of Gary Oldman's character in this chess game (they use chess pieces to identify the agency members so its a fitting analogy). The UK agency was trying to outsmart him by hiring an obvious double agent as a reverse double agent (so a triple agent) to give false information to the USSR agency. However, they find the mole giving the real information away and compromising MI-6 agents and then in the end they get rid of him tearfully b/c apparently he was a good friend or something before that.

Now I'm glad there's a wikipedia b/c otherwise I'd remain confused about somethings. For one thing, the Russian counterintelligence head was named Carla and one of my friend's accidentally said it was one of the women Gary Oldman talked with and not that guy. More importantly though, the head of the agency, played by John Hurt, aka Evil Dictator from V for Vendetta, did die early in the movie but his image was brought back in flashbacks later. Early in the movie, they show a mission that went bad b/c of the mole and that happened in the past and b/c of it, Gary Oldman and John Hurt and the agent were fired and John Hurt died b/c he was old and sick.  Also, the names of the group's members, the group being called "Circus", was not directly in line with the title and the "Spy" was not who the actual Spy was so in saying it was obvious who the spy was, I think I mixed up what I saw and what I read on wiki afterward, no biggy. And of course, there were all these other little things too but I got most of thankfully.

Regardless, this film required some patience in the first part b/c there isn't exactly a proper introduction for every character. I find that it would have been helpful to either have seen a trailer or even read a short introduction about what the movie was gonna be about. This isn't like the "traditional" spy flick either with loads of action and excitement though there is some of that.  The excitement and impetus to see the rest of the film comes from wanting to solve this mystery that is undermining a major counter-intelligence organization against a common threat in the west, the USSR, something that is not such a grave threat to the youngins today who didn't live in that era. And when you add a great actor like Gary Oldman in to head the case, you really wanna see him get to the bottom of things and solve this mystery.

I feel like some people who are like that but more accepting of seeing the whole film would not be able to understand it all and would have to see it more than once or read the wiki on it like I did. In that, I admit that I too have kind of short attention span but I am more accepting of different genre's. In fact, I enjoy a lot of old films, black and white included, which most people today groan at having to see while I would trade away a good deal of movies with bazillions of explosions for any one good old film which included and relied on superb acting and story lines more than anything else.

It is true though, b/c this is based off a book, it cannot cover everything that the book probably went into such great deal to explain, especially sometimes when books go into the minds of characters and share their thoughts with us. Maybe I might genuinely have been more disappointed with this movie if I had read the book first but now, I can give it the benefit of the doubt.

BTW, I have NOT proof-read this in anyway, forgive me for any grammar/spelling mistakes.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Love is a struggle (or a battlefield)

Ok, I've never heard the entirety of the song with they lyrics and I probably have no clue what she's talking about, Pat Benetar that is, but I agree with that statement because its catchy and generally speaking quite applicable.  No matter how you approach the subject or how much control you give to one person or another, there's so much struggle involved in reaching the goal of a happy relationship with someone you can love. I'm gonna rant about some types of ways people pursue and/or shy away from relationships and/or how I've observed it in fiction and/or real life.

I thought there would be no problem or struggle with an arranged marriage as opposed to however non-Muslims figure it out. Mind you, everything I know about non-Muslim relationships is a mix of what I see from friends and what I've seen in anime and various film or tv shows. However, while it is easier, we still care whether person A is compatible with person B or whether either person is a good person overall and so its an intricate search and examination whenever someone is considered.


In our community, there's multiple places we have access to for finding a suitable person. Most people look in family or friends but if nothing can be found, they'll ask family and friends everywhere to look for people who know other people.  If that doesn't work, then our community actually offers a proper match making service of sorts. I've never tried it or delved into so I wont discuss it because I might get the details wrong. I'm sure though that some people will go straight with the last choice with no qualms and I'm sure they find someone.

Anyways, once someone is found, each side can request some information about the other person like education, age, parentage, etc. and even a picture. They can also ask them about other details like their involvement in the community. The most important thing though is prayer and I'm not ashamed to say that I wouldn't move forward without it. Both sides pray that God show them the best path regarding the proposal and if it is not good for them that He show them a better path. In our belief, God can show signs any way He wants whether it be in our daily lives or in our dreams and it can be a mix depending on how the parties go about the proposal.

Prayer however requires continuous practice; you can't just pray once and expect an answer unless you're always in the habit of praying in which case we believe that such a person is close to God and he/she will more often than not be granted an answer sooner than later but even then, its about showing how much you care and believe in the will of God. He alone decides when a person is truly committed enough that he/she believes in God to answer his/her prayers.


So going back to the title of this blog, its a battlefield akin to the fighting of counter-intelligence organizations I think because neither side is totally aware of the best decision to take on any matter and only after great effort in gathering information about the other side as well. I guess it diverges when you consider the belief in God in which case I was just playing around with the idea because I like some Pat Benetar's songs. I hate to compare God to anything because there's nothing really you can compare to His knowledge of all things. I guess counter-intelligence organizations also have people who believe in God as well. Anyways, there's no big losses or suffering if there is a "loss" for either side in this, they just move on to the next big fight or if they win, there's the truce which is marriage and then you know the rest...maybe.

Now the non-Muslim system of relationship making is much more of a physical battlefield I think which involves not only counter-intelligence but multiple adversaries at times. In some shows I've seen in particular, there's 2 people who love one person and they want to be all friendly and let the other person win but they fail to understand that in a society where gender mixing allows an array of feelings to develop between multiple people of opposite genders, they can't just shy back and let genuine attraction go to waste if it is indeed genuine. Of course, it is only this way if they are not married yet because in my belief, marriage represents that bond which is sacred which denotes that 2 people have made a commitment out of their mutual attraction. Where they are still girlfriend/boyfriend, I think it still should be respected but if there was someone who just didn't act and therefore missed out on that relationship, that gets me a bit.

2 shows in particular were annoying like this.  First was this show, Toradora, about guy 1 who like girl 2 and girl 1 who liked guy 2. Guy 1 and girl 1 help each other try to show their feelings to each others crushes but they eventually start developing an attraction for each other.  When girl 1 realizes this, she chooses to step back and let girl 2 have a chance but up till now, its been pretty obvious guy 1 and girl 1 had a developing attraction where they might as well have been going out already. She realizes girl 1's shying away to let girl 2 win and guy 1 is helping because he's still clueless about his feelings for girl 1, as most anime guy characters are except for secondary characters, she flips out and forces guy 1 and girl 1 to be together and when they run off happily ever after, or so we would think as it turns out not to be so simple, she breaks down crying.

I was thinking both girls were stupid, its a fair fight for the heart of guy 1 as he has some attraction to both but only one can win and they should have both put forth how they felt and let him decide. It was already bad enough that they invoked the cliched "I'm too much of a wuss to tell someone how I feel" with guy 1 and how he felt about girl 2 in the beginning but this had me really annoyed.

Another show was one called Kodomo no Omocha or Kodocha or Child's Toy in translation; it comes from the name of a show within the show and the main character who is an actress in it. Anyways, she is oblivious to the feelings of a guy in her class who again invokes being too much of an idiot to just tell her straight up how she felt because she had to invoke the other cliched idea of being as dense as a neutron star to understand how someone feels. It didn't help that her step-mother, whom she loved dearly regardless, essentially taught her that lying is ok without saying that straight out and lied to her about a number of things which eventually brought the chickens home to roost over the timeline of the show and made her as dense and retarded as she was.

So to  the point of the blog, a friend of hers, lets call her girl 2, falls for the guy who likes the main character while she's away and so they become a couple.  When the main character finds out, she's devastated and when she meets them again, she's all angsty about it until she confronts the guy about it and they confess their feelings. Girl 2 overhears and makes it bitterly clear she wont give up the guy and the main character goes "its cool, I don't like him anymore." If I slammed my head into the keyboard then, I would have a new computer right now or none at all, I don't know, but I kind of wanted to slap her.

Besides the ridiculousness of her claim and why she was doing it, it is also funny to note that girl 2 already faced this situation when a guy she liked, call him guy 2, gets another girlfriend, girl 3, when he's away from girl 2. They meet again in this big reunion and girl 3 tells girl 2 to not take him away from her. Girl 2 frustratingly says the same exact absurdity, that she doesn't like guy 2 anymore and she can have him. She feels the pain of having to say that yet she puts the main character through the same crap just as selfishly.

Fortunately, in the manga, the main character realizes soon after that she still loves the guy and that even if he's not with her, he'll compete fairly for his affection and she makes this clear to girl 2. Regardless, she says that she wants to stay friends with her which they do and in the end, the main character gets the guy and girl 2 gets guy 2 when guy 2 realizes he can't be w/o girl 2. The anime vaguely gets to this point after a ridiculous amount of filler probably because the manga was still being written when the anime was being filmed.

Anyways, thinking on all that, I'll take the arranged marriage though if I didn't and I had to compete for someone's affections, I would be honest about how I feel towards someone. I would like to think that I would not shy away from someone who I have a crush on a despite my introverted personality. Unfortunately, I might've been a different person if I wasn't Muslim and maybe a jerk, I don't know. I feel like I have more respect for women than some so-called gentlemen who aren't Muslim and I don't mean to brag about myself by saying that but praise what I believe.

You could say with tv shows its all drama and that's why people are so stupid and it is partly that but I do recall some friends who have told me about problems confronting others about how they feel or expressing how they feel or confronting someone they want to express interest in and it has a good amount of truth. People fear embarrassment or breakup of friendships or casual relationships they had with some people and in that is another model for love being a battlefield where alliances and how they are shaped are important. I believe one should stand up tall for what they believe and if they believe that they see some interest in someone not attached to someone else, they should voice those feelings.

That's all I have to say about that right now, I feel like I've got a bit off my mind now and I've somehow been able to inculcate anime/manga into a serious issue.