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Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Resolution

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Monday, December 27, 2010

For Ghalib's Birthday

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rape …

This morning we had a piece by Saba Imtiaz in The Express Tribune and we are told that Laalchand has been arrested. The public anger is, however, directed at Sharmila Farooqui: She named the victim, discussed things about her, talked of her being at a party and coming late, almost offering "the girl is responsible" by calling her 'rude' and other names. This was an amazingly stupid and disgusting method of harassing the girl and making it all the more difficult for women to report such incidences.

The media followed the crime and reported in it with the same amazement and amusement that they use for such cases, implying things and saying everything other than "the girl was guilty".

Away from all of this, I went to see a 'comedy' show at T2F. The artist was Ayesha Rokadia. Well, she was the artist but was to have friends joining her. The fact that everything starts on time at T2F (and she was told this) ... made no difference as she appeared ("because of traffic") around 25 minutes late. Actually 55 minutes, if we were to take the fact that she said she'd be there at 6.30 when I last saw her.

She's a regular writer for comedy shows in the USA — but as a comedian she was not great at all. Of course that happens at times to the best of comedians, so one can forgive it. The problem was that she decided to open the show with a 'rape joke' (and said, after the show, that she had many more jokes on rape that she would do 'the next time'). Why? Why would a girl want to do a 'rape joke'? Everyone who had any sense of humour and intelligence was upset.

After a whole day of talking about the Clifton rape — and screaming their heads off at the Media and Sharmila — Tweeples wrote about the show in disgust.

Ayesha's friends were Sami Shah, Ishma Alvi, Haroon Saad, and OBA. It could have gotten much worse without them. Fortunately the friends did bring some humour into the show. Specially Sami Shah and OBA. But Ishma and Haroon, good in telling their stories, stayed slightly away from getting a good punchline.

Jeezus! Just as I was about to end this I saw another item.

Oh, well … 

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Christmas is round the corner …

– and you are bound to enjoy the wonderful Dylan Thomas reading out his "A Child's Christmas in Wales" piece ... one of my favourites from this wonderful poet, prose & play writer and a delightful conversationalist.

Available in Caedmon's lovely box commemorating his 50th death anniversary, the CD-Set has amazing poetry by him (yes … all the ones you missed are there, too!) and includes his readings of some other great poets. The set also has lots of his prose, pieces of plays, and his hilarious-heady conversations. There are lovely introductions by Billy Collins, plus comments by Edith Sitwell and others.

Get it!

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Yeh jo takta haé aasmaan ko tü / Koee rahtaa haé aasmaan meñ kyaa?

Is shayr say müjhay hamesha voh shakhs yaad aata haé jis ka naam John Elia (جون ایلیا) thaa or jo aésaa mazaydaar shaaér thaa keh küchh kahna hee baykaar lagtaa haé.

His style of Urdu poetry writing had a unique quality … and, despite being a brilliant Urdu poet, he was also a scholar in Arabic, English, Persian, Sanskrit, and Hebrew! Plus, he was an amazing philosopher.

John is remembered for being 'an unabashed open anarchist and nihilist in a conservative and religious society.'

It is his birthday tomorrow, December 14th, and I thought I'd share some of his poetry and prose with you.

To begin with, there's this marvellous qat'aa followed by this gorgeous ghazal. His views on everything were wonderful and were always fun to listen to … so have fun with this conversation.

Here is his final Mushaaerah reading.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Despite this …

Amazing, that's how God rolls
Billions of people, drowning in woes
Crazy, it's much too late
To speak of God's love
When you've brought on His hate
Cryin' 'bout your feelings
For your sin, no shame
You're going straight to hell on a crazy train
You're going straight to hell on a crazy train
Let's go!
You've listened to preachers
Your leaders are fools
Your raping false prophets
Who make their own rules
The Beast is ascending
To rule and control
The media sells it
And you pay the toll
This nation God's deceiving
He'll torment you in flames
You're going straight to hell on a crazy train
You're going straight to hell on a crazy train
We've told you your destruction's imminent
You will not listen to our words
Heirs of God's fury
That's what's left to come
Through filthy rebellion
God has made you numb
Crazy, the pride that you wear
God's wrath will be brutal
He will say what is fair
God has not been sleeping
He's gonna bring the pain
It's time for your final ride on this crazy train
Your final stop is hell on this crazy train.

No, no. This isn't my favourite poem at all. For me, this brings back the thought of Westboro Baptist Church (WBC). An independent church known for its extreme stance against homosexuality, which includes picketing funerals and desecrating the American flag, the church is widely described as a hate group and is monitored as such by the Anti-Defamation League and others.

Headed by Fred Phelps - and consisting mostly of members of his large family - it has about 100 members. The group claims that it is in love with Jesus Christ and has placed anti-Gay ads on buses, sign-posts, and ads. In order to further its stance it goes to schools, churches, funerals, and more - shouting obscenities and hateful slogans against the people.

The group bases its work around the belief expressed by its best known slogan and the address of its primary Web site, "God Hates Fags", asserting that every tragedy in the world is linked to homosexuality — specifically society's increasing tolerance and acceptance of the so-called homosexual agenda.

The group maintains that God hates gays above all other kinds of "sinners" and that homosexuality should be a capital crime.

Students kissing in front of protesters from Westboro Baptist Church

The WBC maintains a God Hates India website (now part of the site called www.godhatesthe where they state that "80% of India's population claim to practice Hinduism. A country full of idolatry inevitably results in a nation full of fags and fag-enablers, because that's what happens when you depart from the 'Living God'!

The group came into the national spotlight in 1998, when they were featured on CNN for picketing the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a young man beaten to death by two men because of his homosexuality.

WBC members, led by Fred Phelps, picketed the funeral (as well as the trial of Matthew's assailants), displaying signs with slogans such as "Matt Shepard rots in Hell" and "AIDS Kills Fags Dead”. (A docu-drama movie on the Matthew case will be shown at T2F soon.)

The Westboro Baptist Church has protested at the funerals of people ranging from Fred Rogers and Coretta Scott King to Jerry Falwell.

On hearing that copies of Qur'an were flushed down the toilet in Guantanamo, Phelps said, "So what if our guys flushed copies of the Qur'an down the toilet? We hope they did." ... and, this year they threatened to burn copies of the Qur'an and even got volunteers. They were stopped from following their act by calls from the USA government and others — for all the wrong reasons: Afghan, Iraq, Pakistan, and other places - and the problems the USA troops could face!

Here's a small list of items posted on its site.
Go there to see more.
Christian Churches
Goddard UMC in Goddard, KS
December 12, 2010 8:30 AM - 9:00 AM

WBC will picket the Goddard UMC because the
so-called Christian churches of this nation have,
of one accord, turned their backs on God's clear standard.
The Methodists have joined hand in hand with
all the churches across this land to spread the soul-damning lies.

Wexner Jewish Student Center in Columbus, OH
December 16, 2010 3:00 PM - 3:30 PM
WBC will picket the Ohio State Hillel at OSU
where the youth of this nation are taught to
substitute the traditions of the filthy Jews
for the commandments of God.
The Jews alone received God's blessings,
but despised them and rejected and killed their Messiah.
They refuse to repent for that great crime
and sin against God, and continue to harden their hearts
like their forefathers.

Jesus’s ministry of three-and-a-half years was
to the lost house of Israel.
But they would not obey, and they crucified him.
When they did so, they screamed,
“His blood be on us, and on our children,”
Matthew 27:25
God hates Israel. Her destruction is coming from God.
You rebellious sinful Jews will NOT get a pass
because Jesus was a Jew. The Jews killed Jesus.

Marion High School in Marion, KS
December 14, 2010 7:50 AM - 8:20 AM
WBC to travel to MHS to show the children
of this city some truth for probably the only time
in their lives.  They have been taught a steady diet of lies
their whole lives with a side of pride and rebellion.
You raise these demon-possessed brats
to have no knowledge of the Bible,
much less a true understanding of their God.
The parents, preachers, teachers, and leaders
- all the way up to Antichrist Obama -
are to blame. Your destruction is imminent!

& … Funerals
On March 10, 2006, WBC picketed the funeral of MLC Matthew Snyder. Matthew's father said, "They turned this funeral into a media circus and they wanted to hurt my family. They wanted their message heard and they didn't care who they stepped over. My son should have been buried with dignity, not with a bunch of clowns outside."

Recently they have announced the picketing of Elizabeth Edward's funeral and put up this ad in many places.

I look at all this and still know that the USA isn't doomed at all. This is just a loony collection of nutcases in a remarkable country that has lovely laws and wonderfully amazing people.

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Monday, December 06, 2010

I am a lunatic Skeptoid maniac … and want you to be one, too

Finding that his good, scientific theories - on several internet platforms on which he challenged the believers - were always made fun of, Brian Dunning decided to start the Skeptoid podcast service.

"If rationally examining pseudoscientific claims makes me an evil skeptoid
debunkatron, so be it. I'll even help out by so identifying myself up front."

Words on their website state, 'each weekly episode focuses on a single phenomenon that you've heard of … and that you probably believe in'. There are topics from Aliens & UFOs, Religion, Urban Legends, Logic & Persuasion, Health, and a lot more.

Always a treat to listen to, I subscribe to it on iTunes but you can have your own way of getting it by going here.

To start you off, here's an example that a lot of you may be interested in:


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