Monday, September 29, 2008

See the 10 finalist photos of the Nikon world travel photography competition:

Photo no 8 is really cool! Others are worth watching too.
Dependence and Independence are obviously inversely related; it is stating the manifest. But it doesn't feel so trivial when you test the limits of the two in practice. In a society like ours, you are so dependent on other people, whether you want or not, that any attempt to exercise your own will is like ripping the whole fabric to shreds. And the problem is not that just you are dependent on other people, but that other people are dependent on you too, if not financially, then emotionally and psychologically. And any attempt of independence on your part affects their life too. It becomes a moral dilemma. And for a person who values his independance as much as he values not hurting other people, it becomes a lose-lose situation. Whatever he does, he is going to lose anyway.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dr. House: They're out there, doctors, lawyers, postal workers, some of them doing great, some of them doing lousy. Are you going to base your whole life on who you're stuck in a room with?
Eve: I'm gonna base this moment on who I am stuck in a room with! It's what life is, it's a series of rooms, and who we get stuck in those rooms with, adds up to what our lives are.

House, Episode # 3.12

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A loadshedding thought
By Jocelyn Ortt-Saeed

Even life unlived finishes
like a battery in a torch...
lying years unused.

It doesn't help
to keep it ready
for some emergency.

When the knob is pressed
there's not a ray of light.

The cells are dead,
ready for garbage.

burn out
giving light!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Psychology can sometimes confuse one's mind about morality. If human behaviour can be predicted, something which psychology attempts to achieve, then it would imply that there is no 'free will', or if present, its limit is very reduced, and much of our actions are a result of psychological cause and effect. And this realization leads one to wonder: does it shift the responsibility of our actions from our shoulders? The question is complex, and i don't have any neat solution to it myself. It seems very ironic that the very psychological determinism which robs us of our free will also conditions us to believe in morality and individual responsibility. It's as if human society requires morality to function properly; it requires individuals to be responsible for their actions. And to accomplish this, evolution endows us with an innate moral faculty, a sense of right and wrong; the sensation of right and wrong, just like we have the sensation of taste. And in a way it is also logical: a monster doesn't cease to be a monster because its actions are not a result of free will; a good person doesn't cease to be a good person because his moral faculty is stronger and more sensitive by nature. The good and evil that we do spring from within us; they may not be a result of a conscious choice, but they are nevertheless something we did, and whether fair or unfair, it is we who would have to bear their consequences.

Monday, September 22, 2008

M. Awais Aftab

I went back to where my childhood lived
When laughter was easy
Where laughter was easy
With friends abound
And games galore
But all this
Was no more
Had i grown up?
Or had the place died?
I could not tell

Perhaps nothing had died
But had passed into mourning nonetheless...

Friday, September 19, 2008

The right person
By M. Awais Aftab

'Anyone can catch your eye, but it takes someone special to catch your heart.'

There are more than six billion people in the world, but all you need is one right person. What makes him/her 'right' for you? Why does the company of one person fill you with a magical tingling, while a long association with another arouses no passion? What makes you love the person you love?

Of course, everyone knows that appearance of a person matters in how much attraction we feel. But does it depend on beauty alone, or is there some other mechanism at work? Many psychologists are of the opinion that we feel attracted to persons who resemble our parents, or more importantly, who resemble ourselves. The research of the psychologist David Perrett has revealed some very interesting findings. He conducted an experiment in which he digitally converted the picture of the subject's face into the face of a member of the opposite sex, and then the subject was shown a series of pictures, including that morphed photo, and was asked to identify the face to which he felt most attraction. The subjects invariably chose the digitally morphed photo, not even realising that it was a modified photo of their own face!

Eye Contact:
Dr. Ben Jones is of the opinion that people are attracted to people who are attracted to them. This is determined by social cues, most important of which is looking directly at someone. People find faces with direct gaze more attractive than faces with averted gaze, and if that gaze hints 'I am interested in you' then we have a perfect recipe for love at first sight.

Personality: Unconscious Fit
This idea was given by the psychotherapist Henry Dicks, according to whom everyone of us possesses an emotional layout, a psychological blueprint within ourselves, which is shaped by the experiences we have had and how they have influenced us. It works at the unconscious level and contains information that we haven't even acknowledged consciously - our hidden fears and anxieties, our coping and defense mechanisms etc. Furthermore, everyone has the unconscious ability to scan the other person's emotional blueprint. The reason why we are attracted to one person and not another is that our unconscious mind is searching for a blueprint that would complement our own, and attraction develops when such a blueprint is found. Sometimes it can be a person who is similar to us in thinking and ideas, but often we are looking for someone from whom we can learn: someone who can fill up the deficiencies in our own blueprint. The ideal partner would be someone who has had similar experiences in his/her life, but has developed different coping mechanisms, and hence offers the greatest potential of making us psychologically whole.

Pheromones are chemicals produced by the individual of a species which stimulate other members of the species to behave in a particular way. Their role in animals is established and their role in humans is being indicated from several research works. Pheromones are like odourless scents found in the sweat and urine of animals, which stimulate sexual behavior and attraction in a member of the opposite sex whose immune system is genetically different from their own (nature's way of assuring that the offspring survives). Humans sweat also contains pheromones. A study was conducted in which female subjects were given the unwashed T-shirts of a group of sweaty males, and they had to smell them and choose the one they felt most 'attracted' to. Most women chose a shirt from a male whose immune system was significantly different from their own.

In reality, none of these mechanisms would work in isolation, and a combination of these would be required, but then of course, being the mystery that love is, the chemistry between people would often remain simply inexplicable.

[Published in Us magazine:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Can one person make a difference? If you weren't born at all, or if you were not the person that you are, would the world be a different place? What we say and do in life, does it matter?

We don't exist alone; our existence is not discrete, but rather its margins are blurred by a constant interplay of interactions with other people. Just as in physics, no particle, no mass exists alone. A electron can not exist in an atom, and not influence other particles in the neighbourhood. The gravitational effects of celestial bodies can be exerted even at millions of miles. In this physics of life, we are condemned to this interaction; whatever we do, we will have a certain influence on the lives of other people. This influence can be small or this influence can be large, but it exists. A small influence doesn't mean that it is insignificant; often the most minor of changes can eventually lead to drastic, radical results: The Butterfly effect, the Ripple effect, the Domino effect, Chain-reaction, call it anything you want, but even a minor act of yours can lead to exponential changes in someone's life.

Do not underestimate the value of a kind word, a moment of sympathy, a gesture of appreciation, a random act of beauty... they matter, everything you do matters.
Most people have trouble differentiating between types of existentialism and its sister philosophies. I found this table on wikipedia, which explains it in a very clear and simple manner, and i think people can find it very useful.

Click to enlarge

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

We often delude ourselves into believing that we don't have a choice in some particular matter, that we had to do what we did. But, we always have a choice. Even when it seems to us that we don't have a choice, we actually do. It's just that some of the options available are so unacceptable to us that we don't even consider them as options, but that doesn't change the fact that they do exist. For a long time, i believed what Kissinger had said, "The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously." But there is never an absolute absence of alternatives; its just that we consider some of those alternatives to be beyond consideration. Only the brave and the reckless can ever consider those as options. So, Mr. Kissinger, i would like to amend what you said. It is not the absence of alternatives which clears the mind, but rather, it is the understanding and realization that which alternatives are acceptable to you and which are not that clears the mind.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Photo by cosmic pancake on Flickr
The Wordsmith
M. Awais Aftab

You may be a poet
A wordsmith
You can mould hearts like molten iron
With flaming verses
But isn't she a better poet?
Who can lock your tongue with her silent rhyme
And which no locksmith can break

Sunday, September 14, 2008

X: It wasn't her fault.
Y: I know, but it doesn't change what happened.
X: But it should change how you feel about it!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sometimes, living is the hardest thing to do. Not living is easy. There are so many ways to do it: fear, hiding, guilt, addiction, mauvaise foi. Life spent in these is a life not lived. They eat out you from inside until you are a hollow puppet, a mask without a face. Just look at us. We are afraid of living, because it can get painful, but this pain is a sign that you are alive. And if you can feel pain, you can also feel happiness and joy. But if you run away from living, you'll become numb, capable of neither. Don't hide behind your mistakes, don't live in the fear of loss, don't dwell in the terror of the past, don't nurture your guilt until it suffocates you and the people around you, don't let others decide what you want with your life.

Live. It may be the bravest thing you would ever do.
Peyton and Mouth dance in an episode of One Tree Hill, a dance that i really enjoy watching:

Friday, September 12, 2008

Large Hadron Collider experiment is well on its way, and like most people with a scientific bent of mind, i am very interested in it, and eagerly looking forward to the results. Will the elusive Higgs particles be detected, which provide the very origin of mass? Will the presence of transdimensional particles, and hence those of extra dimensions, be confirmed? The suspense is intense.

Meanwhile, there is a lot of absurd nonsense spreading around, being propagated by people who have no sense of physics. For instance, i heard this in the news of PTV that the particle collision might create a black hole that can engulf the whole earth. Duh! My mom was certainly spooked. But watching this being said in the News on Pakistan's official channel, sigh, dukh hota hay. The truth is, even if black holes are created, they would be of such minute mass and such small life span, that they would pose no harm to us, let alone engulf the earth. So, earthlings, carry on; your absurd, meaningless lives are not about to end so soon.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

X: ... you are not that type.
Y: And what 'type' am I? :)
X: The passionate type. You think of love as an essential part of your life, crave for it, search for it, experiment with it ;) You can't be without it. :) That's your 'type'.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I realized the benefits of abstract art when i pasted an abstract painting of a human couple in my room, and my mother thought that it looked like an abstract picture of a fist!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Photo by Principe della Notte on Flickr

Meat Loaf plays over and over
In my car stereo
And i can hear your laughter again

I have lost count of the years
Since we were last together
And yet the softness of your skin
Is fresh on my finger tips
As my eye-lids droop with sleep
Why do they feel the gentle caress of your lips?

She used her body just like a bandage
She used my body just like a wound
I'll probably never know where she disappeared

And objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are
And objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are

It is raining now
And the wind brings your whispers to my ear
Your soft murmurs of love
Is the mirror foggy?
I can see you
As if painted in oil pastels
The water can't wash you away

She used her body just like a bandage
She used my body just like a wound
I'll probably never know where she disappeared
But I can see her rising up out of the back seat now
Just like an angel rising up from a tomb

And objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are
And objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are

M. Awais Aftab
(inspired by Meat Loaf's song)
“There is no despair so absolute as that which comes with the first moments of our first great sorrow, when we have not yet known what it is to have suffered and be healed, to have despaired and have recovered hope.”

George Eliot, Adam Bede

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Road Not Taken
by M. Awais Aftab

Driving on the roads of Lahore
The new girlfriend, their first date
And as fate would have it
He saw his old flame
Driving the car infront
With an agitated heart
And excited pulse
He drove behind her
Till the chowk came:
She turned left
He sighed and took right
'Honey, which road was that?'
The new love asked
Pointing to the left
'The road not taken, dear,
The road not taken ...'


This cartoon is unrelated to the above poem, but i find it really funny, so who cares!

[If you are reading this blog from Mars, and have never read Frost's poem, you can read it here in English. I'm afraid it has not been translated into Martian yet.]

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A satisfied life is a balanced life; life doesn't revolve around just one thing, but a number of things, each one of which play's a role as a pillar in supporting the architecture of life, and each of one of which acts as a buffer to stabilize life when one of them is lacking. When life revolves around just one thing, it loses its balance; it becomes an obsession, and obsession never leads to satisfaction, because you want that one thing so badly that it always leaves you unsatisfied. Don't bet all your money on a single game; find your balance.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Ramazan is back again, and i can't help but wonder how quickly it has come back. Last year, i had an extra person, a cousin, living in my house, this year i have one less, as my brother has gone to Princeton. Last year, my emotional life was a mess, this year, it is pretty stable.

The thing i like best about Ramazan is listening to the radio. I don't know why, but stations play the best songs during this month! So, i listen to radio much more than ususal, and also because i can't really help it. If music wasn't there to distract me, the thirst would be unbearable!

What do i hate the most? The crappy Ramazan tv shows. Ufff! I can hardly stand them! Nietzsche was right, all believers are too noisy and obtrusive, but those mullahs blabbering on the sehri and aftari shows are way high on the decibel level.

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