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Showing posts from 2008

10 Songs That Helped Me Survive 2008

10 songs that helped me survive 2008... in no particular order:

1) "This is the life" by Amy MacDonald

And you're singing the songs
Thinking this is the life
And you wake up in the morning and your head feels twice the size
Where you gonna go? Where you gonna go?
Where you gonna sleep tonight?

2) "I really want you" by James Blunt

I really want you to really want me, but I really don't know if you can do that.
I know you want to know what's right but I know it's so hard for you to do that.
And time's running out as often it does, and often dictates that you can't do that.
But fate can't break this feeling inside that's burning up through my veins.
I really want you. I really want you.
I really want you - now.

No matter what I say or do, the message isn't getting through,
And you're listening to the sound of my breaking heart.

3) "Disintegration" by Jimmy Eat World

Wonder why I'm so caught of guard when we kiss.
Rather live my li…

The Lost Prophet

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The Lost Prophet by M. Awais Aftab
I stand not-so-steadfast on my deck And gaze at the horizon far away The swirling inky clouds painted with gloom And no sign of the emergence of day The ship rocks on stormy waves Forever uncertain of her fate My crew looks with inquiring eyes How long more will they have to wait? Ah! Curse the day we left those shores And began our journey for the promised land Tormented and persecuted we were But still had an abode on the sand Now we drift aloof Lost in the turbulent sea The purpose, wrecked, forgotten, dead And nothing to drink but bitter salty agony
Image Source

What, Who, How... in 2008

Here are some selected top ten searches that were conducted on Google in 2008:

What is...

Amidst the economic crisis and terrorist bombings, the world is still asking, "what is love?"

1. what is love
2. what is life
3. what is java
4. what is sap
5. what is rss
6. what is scientology
7. what is autism
8. what is lupus
9. what is 3g
10. what is art


Who is...

Apparently a lot of people have been watching the presidential drama and thinking, "who are these guys?"

1. who is obama
2. who is mccain
3. who is palin
4. who is lil wayne
5. who is miley cyrus
6. who is dolla
7. who is jonas brothers
8. who is chris brown
9. who is biden
10. who is martin luther


How to...

And its 8 years into the 21st century, but the world still needs to learn a lot...

1. how to draw
2. how to kiss
3. how to write
4. how to cook
5. how to tie
6. how to hack
7. how to run
8. how to cite
9. how to paint
10. how to spell


See Google Zeitgeist for more info.

Blog Prob: Refreshing Browser's Cache

A lot of bloggers and their readers are facing the problem that the blogs they open show the old posts and do not show the updates made recently. This is due to the browser cache not refreshing itself. The problem usually goes away by itself in a day or too, but is highly recurrent. And dial-up users are affected more than broadband users. The solution to this, however, is very simple. You have to refresh the browser's cache. To do so open the blog/website which is showing you the outdated content. Press and hold [Ctrl] on your keyboard, then Press [F5] or click on the Refreshbutton. This will refresh the cache of that particular page and show you the updated content.

On Life

X: How can you determine the philosophical temperament of medical students?
Y: Ask them to define life.

Most people have a distinct notion of "living" and "non-living", the two being separated by a wide chasm, a binary situation of 0 or 1. Furthermore, under the influence of the representational view of language, they think of "Life" as a noun representing some sort of an entity, which makes the living living. However, both of these notions turn out to inadequate, if we consider life at the molecular level, and take into account the non-representational view of language (such as that given by Wittgenstein). Let us consider this issue in a semi-Socratic fashion.
At the level of multicellular organisms, it is easier to determine what is living: there is a set of chracteristics like nutrition, growth, metabolism, homeostasis, adaptation, reproduction, locomotion, which an organism exhibits. If we go one step lower to unicellular organisms, many of these charact…

Like, I Mean, You Know, Right?

Becoming conscious of my increasing use of the words 'like' and 'you know' in conversations, i recalled a hilarious article "Like, I Mean, You Know, Right?" by Roderick Nordell. I'll share a few lines from it:
'If only everyone talked the way we do in my household. I mean… if only everyone… like… talked… you know… the way we do… right? It would be so much… like… easier to… you know… understand… right?
Obviously it is deplorable that these words have taken over the language. But this doesn't mean we should wait forever to recognize them. No, we must face facts and put them in our books:
"Friends, Romans, countrymen... lend me your ears... I mean... I come to bury Caeser... right?... not to... you know... praise him."
Anyone, of course, is welcome to disagree. I mean, like, you know, right?'

Advice: On Socio-political Philosophies

All angry, young men who are seeking an ideology for socio-political change, i would advise them to mindful of all philosophies which incorporate these two elements:
1. A utopian vision of a perfect society: There are no perfect solutions to our socio-political problems. Followers of any ideology which claims to present one are either myopic or ignorant of the implications of their own views. We do not have all-encompassing panaceas for the ills of our world. The fault lies, perhaps, within us. Humans are not perfect and neither are societies.
2. Statements of this sort: "People will suffer/die, but it will be a sacrifice for the higher good." It is my opinion that any ideology that makes its followers believe in such a thing contains distinct elements of fundamentalism, and is likely to cause more harm than good.

Dawkins T-shirt

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This could probably get me killed, but i am drooling over the idea of buying this shirt and going to my college wearing it!
*The shirt is available for sale at http://richarddawkins.net
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How would you react if you went to a clinic for check-up and the doctor said: "Now i am going to perform the Dick test on you!" *imaginary evil grin*

Relax. It's just a skin test to check whether a person is immune to Scarlet fever or not :)

Spooky Perfume

A little before midnight i was taking a walk near my house; it was a lonely path and i was the only one. Lights were out, so it was all dark. Suddenly, out of nowhere, i could feel the distinct smell of a woman's perfume. It was so real, i turned and looked around to see if anyone else was walking there. But there was no one. So, i tried to shake it off and continued walking, but the smell persisted. It could have been a flower, but i walk there every night and have never sensed it before. I kept looking around trying to locate its source. Finally after five minutes, i was so spooked out that i went back home!
And i don't even believe in ghosts!

Real

"Because today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups... So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind."
Philip K. Dick, How To Build A Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later
How much of our world view is correct? How do we know what is true? Much of what we know about what is happening in the world comes to us through media. And it is not just one view that we are exposed to; we are, in fact, bombarded by a plethora of views related to an event. And we tend to accept the view which fits in with our existing world view. An event happens, but it m…

Lollywood makes it to Andy Warhol Museum

'With nods to masters of horror Romero, Raimi, and Hooper, first time filmmaker Omar Ali Khan pays a giddy and gory homage to the genre, splattering Lollywood with more than just arterial spray.'
A Pakistani movie will be shown at Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) on 5th December! No, it's not Khuda Ke Liye, it's not Ram Chand Pakistani... it's of a totally different league, a horror movie, Hell’s Ground (aka Zibahkhana) by the director Omar Ali Khan. It isn't exactly a portrayal of the so-called 'soft image' of Pakistan, but something positive and gory nevertheless. Thumbs up to Omar Ali Khan!
For details: http://www.warhol.org/calendar/events_detail.php?eventID=1387&dateYear=2008&dateMonth=12&dateDate=5

The First Step

"If you had asked my grandmother whether she is oppressed, she probably wouldn't have understood what you are talking about; that's life. If you'd asked my mother, you'd have found that she resented it, but accepted it, as life. If you'd ask my daughters, they'd tell you to get lost. That reflects hard-won victories for freedom."
Noam Chomsky
The first step towards freedom is being conscious of being in captivity...

Being Friends

BROOKE: (Crying) Lucas broke up with me. PEYTON: I’m sorry. BROOKE: (Crying) I was looking forward to getting a chance to show him how much he means to me and he said he just wants to be friends. And every idiot knows that that’s just code for go away. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. PEYTON: Look if Lucas said he wants to be friends, I’m sure he means it. BROOKE: How do you do that with Lucas? (Peyton looks to Haley) HALEY: You just sort of do everything that you’ve been doing without the sex part.
One Tree Hill, Episode 1.15

Tooth Brush Gender

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Has anyone noticed how tooth brushes tend to come in 'male' and 'female' styles?
*Photo taken by me

Possible

George: Is it possible...do you think, to love two people...at the same time?
Burke: I, uh...I'm still hoping it's possible just to love one person.

Grey's Anatomy, Episode 3.23

Dependence

Despite possessing a lot of modern, liberal and radical ideas, most young people of our society are unable to bring a significant change in their own lives. It seems to me that economic dependence is one of the key factors behind it. Our youth depends too much on their parents for support, even up to the age of mid-twenties. There are no adequate job opportunities for the youth, jobs that would pay enough for a person to live on his own. Hence, they are forced to depend on their parents. With economic dependence comes social dependence: young people are forced to live within the limits of the lifestyle approved by their parents. And by the time they begin to earn enough, it is too late. For girls, the situation is even more constrained because while they are studying they are dependent on their parents, and after that they are hurriedly married off (too much economic burden for the parents?), and then they become dependent on their in-laws, and have to adapt to their lifestyle, regard…

On Death

I could have died last night.
I forgot to close the gas switch of my room, as i turned off my heater before going to sleep. Even though the heater was off, i guess there was some leak, cause in the morning when my father came to my room, it was full of gas. And all the windows were closed too. But i was alive. And i woke up with a full and somewhat runny nose, and the perceptible odour of gas. No other damage done.
But that's not what disturbs me. What disturbs me is that as my mother woke me up and was telling me how i could have died, my first instinctive thought was "Dying peacefully in the sleep, that's not so bad." :S Am i really that screwed up to prefer annihilation over this life? It's not as if my life is very terrible. Yeah, there are problems, and sometimes it's just a mess, but i am also happy, and there are people who genuinely love me. So, why the thought?
And i was just wondering, if i had died, many of the readers of this blog would never have f…

9 Crimes by Damien Rice

Listen to this beautiful song:

Aubade

I recalled a poem today that i had once read on the blog Utopia Forever. 'Aubade' by Michael Londry. It's a long and beautiful poem, but the part i like best about it is the ending, which i would like to share with the readers:

Being in love with you is centrifugal.

It is hard to believe
Being in love with you
Was once
That tiny space
In my heart
That has since exploded
Into a vast cathedral
Of sky
Under which I stand alone,
Looking up.

It is raining cats and dogs.
I am drenched.
Being in love with you has soaked me
To the bone
And I will never again
Be dry.

A Brief Introduction to Phenomenology

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The term phenomenology literally means the study of ‘phenomena’. Philosophically, it is the study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view (in contrast to say, cognitive science, which attempts to study consciousness from an objective view). There are a number of different methods which have been grouped under the umbrella of phenomenology. In this brief introduction, however, I will place central emphasis on the phenomenological method of Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenology, and briefly mention the other forms of phenomenology, which too, have a basis in the work of Husserl.

Husserl came to prominence with his book Logical Investigations which raised the call of returning to the things themselves; i.e. in focusing on how things (which includes not just physical objects, but also numbers, emotions etc anything that is an object of consciousness) actually do present in our experience, instead of relying on some philosophical system to te…

Ashes by Edvard Munch

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Ashes by Edvard Munch
The misery of being in love... and not being able to be together.

Madame Bovary

Sarah Pierce: I think I understand your feelings about this book [Madame Bovary]. I used to have some problems with it, myself. When I read it in grad school, Madam Bovary just seemed like a fool. She marries the wrong man; makes one foolish mistake after another; but when I read it this time, I just fell in love with her. She's trapped! She has a choice: She can either accept a life a misery or she can struggle against it. And she chooses to struggle.
Mary Ann: [sarcastically] Some struggle. Hop into bed with every guy who says hello.
Sarah Pierce: She fails in the end, but there's something beautiful and even heroic about her rebellion. My professors would kill me for even thinking this, but in her own strange way, Emma Bovary is a feminist
Mary Ann: Oh, that's nice. So now cheating on your husband makes you a feminist?
Sarah Pierce: No, no, it's not the cheating. It's the hunger. The hunger for an alternative, and the refusal to accept a life of unhappiness.
Mary Ann…

'Sakta'

I have been trying to find the English equivalent of the Urdu word 'sakta' (that mental-shock and numb-like state which the people in dramas get into when they hear a very bad news, usually the death of the beloved) for some days, but i have been unable to find an exact translation. Which is somewhat strange. Kia angraizon par kabhi sakta taari nahi hota? In fact, i was not just trying to find a proper translation, i was also trying to find the medical diagnosis of that condition. The closest that i have discovered to it is Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, but even its medical description doesn't match exactly with the sympton profile of sakta. Does sakta even exist in reality, or is it a drama-construct?
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"Does nobody understand?"

... The last words of James Joyce.



('New career low - gave out a page of Ulysses to my freshmen and they thought it was a wordsearch.')

Islamic Banking

I was out eating with a group of friends...

Me: Terrorism aside, look at the word economic crisis.
Abdullah: Yeah, capitalism is about to fall. What would come after that? What do you say?
I took a pause, thinking about how to tackle the question.
Taimoor:Phir Islamic banking aye gee! (Islamic Banking would come after that!)

And we all burst into laughter.

Homer in the Church

[The Simpsons arrive at the church. Everyone can hear their conversation outside.]
Marge: I hate being late.
Homer: Well I hate going! Why can't I worship the Lord in my own way: by praying like hell on my deathbed?!
Marge: Homer, they can hear you inside--
Homer: Relax! Those pious morons are too busy talking to their phoney-baloney God!
[They enter the church to total silence and angry looks. They nervously make their way to their pew.]
Homer: [to people as he passes them] How you doing? Peace be with you. Praise Jebus!

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Ned Flanders: [standing up in the church] The good Lord, he's telling me to confess to something.
Homer: [quietly with fingers crossed] Gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gay...

The Simpsons Movie

I couldn't help bursting into laughter at both these scenes!

Apoptosis and Suicide

'Suicide is contrary to biology' is an oft heard statement, expressed in different ways. This statement, unqualified as such, is somewhat erroneous, because suicide is, in fact, a very common phenomenon in biology at the cellular level. It is known as 'apoptosis', programmed cell-death. In the natural state it occurs only for the development and preservation of the organism. And if we are to believe the positivists of the 19th century, society is the next step in the integration of life, and society assumes a role akin to that of an organism, and individuals that of a cell. Hence, we also find programmed individual-deaths for the preservation of society (kami-kaze, for instance). Apoptosis which is not for the purpose of preservation of organism is triggered as a result of some pathology, due to some injury to the cell. To anthropomorphosize, the cell shouts "I can't take it anymore!!" and pop goes the apoptosis. Similarly suicide which is not for any hig…

Hurdles in Archeology

An archeologist to another over a cup of coffee: You know what happened? During one of our diggs we found a piece of parchment with something written on it. Seeing it, i became really excited because i hadn't seen anything like that ever. On analysis, however, it turned out that it was plain old English, but written in a very bad hand-writing!

Earliest Islamic Inscription: Issue of Quran's Diacritical Marks

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A photo of an inscription etched by an Arabic traveler. The traveler engraved his name on the block of red sandstone over 1,300 years ago in a location northwest of Saudi Arabia. The inscription reads, "In the name of Allah/ I, Zuhayr, wrote (this) at the time 'Umar died/year four/And twenty." [Ali ibn Ibrahim Ghabban and Robert Hoyland]
Excitement spreads among historians as an important archeological discovery is made: inscription on a block of redstone by an Arabic traveller, which is over 1300 years old, older than the earliest copy of Quran, making it the earliest dated Arabic inscription! And the surprising thing about it is that it uses diacritical marks, something which are completely absent in the early copies of Quran. The absence of diactrical marks makes the text vulnerable to multiple interpretation. The inscription on the rock does not include punctuation or vowel marks, however it does contain markings to distinguish consonants that are identical in shape, …

Does Philosophy Help a Troubled Soul?

This post is in response to a question asked by Uni.
'Does philosophy help a troubled heart? Troubled mind too?'
Umm, what do you mean by 'troubled'? Troubled in what way?
And that's the sort of thing that happens when you approach philosophy: you face more questions. Questions arise about the questions to which you are seeking answers. So if you are going to study philosophy with the expectation that you would find ready-made and distilled wisdom for you to apply to your life, then you would be disappointed. Philosophy doesn't work that way.

To be honest, philosophy doesn't heal a troubled mind, at least not in the initial phase. Because philosophy encourages you to doubt, to doubt even your cherished beliefs and ideas which you had taken for granted. Moralities and views which you had wrapped around yourself like a warm blanket, philosophy would constantly force you to ask questions about them, exposing you to the coldness of reason. Deleuze said, "The u…

Movie Anagrams

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Check out the contest at Worth1000.com which asked people to make anagrams of movie titles and their corresponding posters. Some of them are really interesting! The poster above is an anagram of National Treasures. The one below is that of Iron Man.


Nausea

The nausea is worse than the vomiting.

The Fashion

"Of course," she resumed combatively, "it's the prevailing fashion to believe in perpetual change and mutability, and all that sort of thing, and to say we are all merely an improved form of primeval ape--of course you subscribe to that doctrine?"

"I think it decidedly premature; in most people I know the process is far from complete."

"And equally of course you are quite irreligious?"

"Oh, by no means. The fashion just now is a Roman Catholic frame of mind with an Agnostic conscience: you get the mediaeval picturesqueness of the one with the modern conveniences of the other."
H. H. Munro (Saki), Reginald at the Theatre

Heart

X: I have a pain in my lower jaw.
Y: Could be angina.
X: The pain is on the right side of lower jaw.
Y: Your heart could be on the right side. (Dextrocardia)
X: Yeah, could be. Waisay bhi, my heart is rarely where it should be!

10 Influential Quotes

A quote may consist of just a few words, but it has the power to make indelible impressions on human thought. Here is my selection of 10 very influential quotes (placed in chronological order) which run like a refrain throughout human history and have shaped the very way we think today.
1) "What you do not want others to do to you, do not do unto others." – Confucius (551 – 479 B.C)

Among the oldest known explicit statement of the Golden Rule, it has served as a fundamental ethical principle of people of nearly all cultures. The idea of ‘treat others as you would like to be treated’ is not only a part of all major world religions but also exists in philosophy as the ethics of reciprocity.
2) “One cannot step twice in the same river.” – Heraclitus (535 – 475 BC)

This quote represents the constantly changing nature of reality and the view that, ‘everything flows’, that the world is not a finished product, but rather an on-going process. Be it Iqbal’s ‘Sabaat aik tagheur ko hai zam…

Principia Discordia: The Sacred Chao

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THE SACRED CHAO is the key to illumination. Devised by the Apostle Hung Mung in ancient China, it was modified and popularized by the Taoists and is sometimes called the YIN-YANG. The Sacred Chao is not the Yin-Yang of the Taoists. It is the HODGE-PODGE of the Erisians. And, instead of a Podge spot on the Hodge side, it has a PENTAGON which symbolizes the ANERISTIC PRINCIPLE, and instead of a Hodge spot on the Podge side, it depicts the GOLDEN APPLE OF DISCORDIA to symbolize the ERISTIC PRINCIPLE.
The Sacred Chao symbolizes absolutely everything anyone need ever know about absolutely anything, and more! It even symbolizes everything not worth knowing, depicted by the empty space surrounding the Hodge-Podge.
HERE FOLLOWS SOME PSYCHO-METAPHYSICS. If you are not hot for philosophy, best just skip it.
The Aneristic Principle is that of APPARENT ORDER; the Erisitic Principle is that of APPARENT DISORDER. Both order and disorder are man made CONCEPTS and are artificial divisions of PURE CHA…

The Ten Most Irritating Phrases

Is there any phrase which agitates your nerves whenever you encounter it? Are you allergic to oft-repeated, cliched or grammatically incorrect expressions? If it is so, then you are not the only one. Researchers at Oxford University have compiled a list of the ten most irritating phrases. Have a look:
The ten most irritating phrases:

1 - At the end of the day
2 - Fairly unique
3 - I personally
4 - At this moment in time
5 - With all due respect
6 - Absolutely
7 - It's a nightmare
8 - Shouldn't of
9 - 24/7
10 - It's not rocket science

Source: Telegraph.co.uk

The Bomb

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The Bomb
by M. Awais Aftab

There is a bomb of bitterness in me
Waiting to explode
Tick, tick, tick
Eager to unleash the darkness
That would eat me from inside
And i stand paralysed
With a scissor in my hand
Unsure what to do
Which wire to cut
To halt this impending doom
The red one?
The blue one?
All logic fails me
And it seems that
My fate is in the hands of chance
Once again

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'Vampire' by Edvard Munch

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'Love and Pain' by the expressionist/symbolist painter Edvard Munch, more commonly known as 'Vampire' (after its 'vampiric' interpretation by an art critic), has fetched 38.2 million dollars in auction, which is a record for any Munch painting. Although not as cosmopolitan as The Scream, Vampire is considered to be one of the iconic images in art history. The painting can be seen from a variety of perspectives, some even contradictory. I guess what meaning a person derives from the painting depends more on the subjective state of the viewer and his ideas about love. Does it depict two lovers locked in an embrace of consolation? Or is the man submitting himself in resignation to the woman who is sucking his blood like a vampire? The painting is a textbook candidate for artistic deconstruction. The dark background does seem to lend it a dark and macabre overtone, which is impossible to ignore. Are they a frightened couple clinging to each other as dark times lay …

The Tile and the Stone

"In all the ills that befall us, we are more concerned by the intention than the result. A tile that falls off a roof may injure us more seriously, but it will not wound us so deeply as a stone thrown deliberately by a malevolent hand."
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
A break-up is not just a sense of loss of the one you loved; a simple death is pure grief, but if a couple is yanked apart, especially by society, or if one of them leaves the other, then the wound is deeper. Along with grief, there is the pain of betrayal, of failure, of guilt. You are let down by the very people you thought you could depend upon. You are made to break the promises you wanted to fulfill. You are plagued by how much misery your pursuit of happiness can bring. Its not the tile of indifferent fate, its the stone thrown at you by the deliberate hand that aggravates the pain. It's the bitterness, it's the anger, it's the shock...

Newtonian Vs Quantum

For believe me!—the secret to harvesting the greatest abundance and the greatest enjoyment from existence is this—living dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! Send your ships into uncharted seas!... The time will soon be past when you could be content to live hidden in the forests like timid deer. - Friedrich Nietzsche

Most people prefer to live deterministic lives; lives that can be mapped out, charted with accuracy, the trajectory plotted out in coordinates with precision: they live in a Newtonian world. Newtonian physics, as we all know, works for a large number of everyday observations, but when you go to the extremes, when you push limits, that's when it breaks down. There are people who live at these extremes, where determinacy loses its meaning, and uncertainty rules. Where there is not a single path to follow, but a maze of probability to walk through. Where identity hangs from the question mark of wave-particle duality. This is the Quantum world. Newton…

What's Worse?

"Let me ask you one question.
What's worse? Not getting everything you wished for?
... or getting it but finding out its not enough?
The rest of your life is being shaped right now,
With the dreams you chase, the choices you make...
and the person you decide to be...
The rest of your life is a long time....
And the rest of your life starts right now."

One Tree Hill, Episode 5.02

Alfred Gockel

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Alfred Gockel is a brilliant German abstract artist, whom i have recently come across on internet, and his paintings have captured my fascination. They are not only beautiful and inspiring, but they reach out to something deeper in me. His vibrant and swirling colours, his abstract figures, his romantic scenarios, the intense flowing lines, the elegance of his work, its all magic. And i feel bound to share the work of this maestro on my blog. Here is a selection from his paintings:

Moon Dance

Mirror Image II Lost in the Desert I
Circle of Love II


Blushing Spring II



Moved by the Music I

The Pursuit of Meaning

X: All of your rebellions and heresies and deviations and obsessions can be traced back to a single thing: the pursuit of meaning. It seems as if 'meaning' is some sort of a sensation to you; like an addict seeks 'being high' and tries all sorts of drugs for it, you seek the sensation of your life being 'meaningful', whatever that means, and you are willing to try breaking all sorts of social and moral rules for that. Why you can't find the things which other people find meaningful is something that shall perhaps remain an enigma to me.

Picturesque

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I had to take this Tag from Misspecs!
1. The age you will be on your next birthday
The grip of life keeps getting tighter!

2. A place you would like to travel to…
Louvre in Paris. Ah, Mona Lisa awaits me!3. Your favorite place4. Your favorite pet
The only pet i ever had when i was a kid; it 'drowned' in a glass of water in an accident. :(

5. Your favorite color combination



6. Your favorite TV show(s)

7. First name of your significant other


8. The town in which you live

I live in this part of lahore.
9. Your first job

Yeah, you sure can. That's what i did for my first pay-check.
10. Your dream job


The psychologist Sean Maguire from Good Will Hunting, played by Robin Williams. Ah, i want to be that guy!

11. A bad habit you have

12. Your worst fear

Being Sisyphus; Camus was wrong. Sisyphus is not happy!

Gems of Pakistani English Fiction

Gems of Pakistani English Fiction
By M. Awais Aftab

Indian writers of English fiction began to grow huge internationally in the '80s and the '90s, but Pakistani writers have begun to do the same only in the last decade. While there have been many brilliant novels with international recognition, let us examine these four which are probably the best of the lot.

Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid (2000)
"The alienation is so thick you can cut it with a knife," writes Peter Gorden, describing the atmosphere of Mohsin Hamid’s debut novel, Moth Smoke. With the richness of historical symbolism, the novel describes the decline of Darashikoh, a person on the fringes of upper-class elite in a Pakistan suffering from economic crises after the 1998 nuclear explosions. Daru’s deterioration is best described by Hamid’s own metaphor: a moth spiraling around the candle, seduced by its flame, revolving, falling, until it makes contact with the fire… the moment of union, and… the moth has been re…

Music Heals

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Music heals. It helps you deal with the pain. Like a gentle touch on a sore skin, it makes the ache more bearable. It doesn't abolish the pain but it makes us less affected by it. A song that fills you up, makes you resonate with its tune, this is the music you need in your life. Something that makes sense of what you are going through; makes you feel that you are not the only one. That this song is the acoustic transmission of the shared feelings of all the people who have been through the same. Some words of lyrics that never made sense to you, but at some right time you find yourself humming the song and realize the meaning that was always inherent in them. Good music is not the songs that make it to the charts, most of whom you won't even remember with time. Good music is what reaches to you, which touches you. It need not even have words; it could be an instrumental; feelings too sometimes have no words. Like people, songs too come in all varities. You have to find the so…

Verve Pipe - The Freshman

Photomicrography

Whether you are a man of art, a man of science or both, you will find these pictures very fascinating: art and science meet at the microscopic level.

I Hate Wedding Ceremonies!

Why do i hate wedding ceremonies so much? (Pakistani wedding ceremonies, specifically.)
Because they are a nauseating display of the hypocrisies and superficialities of our society; because they are a finerly orchestrated drama of money and social politics; because they are a means to show-off how much wealth one has; because the ceremony is more about the family and relatives of the couple than about the bride and the groom; because everyone pretends to be happy; because people are more concerned about making the video of the function than about the wedding itself; because the aunties are always on a rishta-hunt; because people compete for food more ferociously than even predicted by Darwinian selective forces; because it is a flagrant waste of money and resources on an event which is supposed to be simple and beautiful but has been mutated into a hideous social monster.
And because the bride almost always looks ugly!! God, why do they even need to plaster their faces with such thick l…

Pretending

This Eid i pretended something for a while... pretended to be normal just like everyone else: A normal person with normal tastes, with normal ideas, with normal conversations, with normal regard for social conventions... and i felt accepted, happy; for a time i was able to overcome my detest and irritation for the things around me, and i felt happy. Artificial Happiness. It made me wonder about my whole previous 'real' life, and my Real Misery.
Sorry, if you are looking for any wise conclusions, you wouldn't find any this time. I don't know what all this means.
Its surprising though, how people around you can live around you for so long and yet have no idea what is actually going on in your head.

Travel Photos

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

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/3086912/Nikon-travel-photography-competition-The-10-finalists.html

Photo no 8 is really cool! Others are worth watching too.

Depedence and Independence

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.

A Series of Rooms

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

A loadshedding thought

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.

Better
burn out
giving light!

Fuzzy Morality

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 i…

Mourning

Mourning
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...

The Right Person

The right person
By M. Awais Aftab

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


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?

Appearance:
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 th…

Do We Matter?

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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, C…

Existentialism and Sister Philosophies

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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

Choice

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.

The Wordsmith

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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

Change

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!

Live

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.

Dance

Peyton and Mouth dance in an episode of One Tree Hill, a dance that i really enjoy watching:


The Large Hadron Collider and the Earth-Engulfing Black Holes!

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 live…

Type

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'.

Abstract Art

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!

Objects in the Rear View Mirror

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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…