My Brother The Islamist: Documentary


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****UPDATE**** The documentary is from 2011. In April 2013, Rich was jailed for 6 years for his part in a terror plot. Well that didn’t take long. Another life ruined because of people like Anjem Choudhary.

I was drawn to the documentary because it takes place in a city and country that was my home for 6 years. Born into a Muslim family in the UAE, I ventured to England to complete my undergraduate and Masters degrees. I also got a taste of the working life for two years at SEGA as my dreams of working in videogames came true. My time in England forced me to grow up quick and created a significant change within me. I viewed the world through lenses I had never seen through before. I consumed information, art, culture and knowledge like the Cookie Monster devours biscuits. I enjoyed freedoms, friends and moments that I will never replace or forget.

In other words, it was an experience of such perceptual vastness you literally have to reconfigure your mental models of the world to assimilate it.

Sitting here now in Canada, it pains me to witness the way this ignorant and poisonous form of Islam is taking hold in a  country that I cherish so much. Just to be clear, I’m an anti-theist ( against all Gods) and consider religions, deification and the supernatural to be collectively reprehensible and regressive. I only focus on Islam here because it pertains to the topic of the documentary.

I consider myself to be an open-minded individual. Also, I’m aware of the irony of that statement after I just banished the possibility of the existence of a supernatural creator. Well, there is open-mindedness and then there is sheer infantile lunacy. But I digress.

There is so much wrong with the Islam depicted in this documentary that I don’t even know where to begin my tirade. 

The central storyline of brothers caught on opposite sides and a family torn apart is certainly moving. At the same time, it does an excellent job of exposing this disgusting perversion of the merits and values of Islam. People like the infamous Anjem Choudhary prey on young minds searching for meaning and a path to rectify their past. It’s never clear what the tipping point is for these individuals. I can understand an Iraqi boy seeing his family slaughtered by a wayward US bomb turning to extremism, but how does it come about in a society such as the UK? Where did the country go wrong in tending to these youths?

Just listen to the preachings of this specious self-made prophet: he wants to install Sharia law and make Britain an Islamic state! Are you bonkers, man? What’s even more troubling is the fact that people who grew up in this society want to change it for the worst. They think enslaving women and chopping off appendages for crimes is the way forward for humanity. There is nothing wrong with converting to another religion or finding one, but going archaic with your beliefs is just plain undignified. If they have such a problem being surrounded by these Kuffars, then why don’t they fuck off to places where all their wondrous heavenly laws are enacted? Hell, the fanatical brother thinks that there are egregious misconceptions about Al-Qaeda as he tries to recruit a revert on the streets. Honestly, at times the guy behaves like he’s a made-man with the mob and owns the streets of Whitechapel.

Don’t get me wrong, some of these gents are as normal as you and I when they hang with their friends. Observe them breaking their fast on Ramadan and they look as innocuous as any regular Muslim.  Some of them are trying to escape substance abuse or have just failed at life. But then things go awry. They find meaning in the causes of extremism because they are now fighting for something. As one them so malevolently states, they have three options: peace, rule or fight.

You don’t need religion or any God to give your life meaning or to help you get over obstacles in your life. That strength comes from within you. The venom these people spew is the poison instilled within them by bastards like Anjem Choudhary. He is just a criminal no different from any other instigators of propaganda found throughout history.  Why can’t they just kick people like Anjem Choudhary out of the country? All they do is spread lies and promote violent behavior. You might argue he has rights as a British citizen, but he doesn’t even want those rights in his flawed vision of human utopia. Unfortunately  these youths are just ammunition and voices for Choudhary’s own agenda to upset the balance with Jihad and perpetuate the image of the West as the ultimate evil. Hey, every wannabe martyr needs an enemy, right?

Even Ben couldn’t escape being drawn into this world of extremism. He started out as a moderate convert because he wanted more out of life than just getting drunk. Well Ben, perhaps you should have tried education or a job. His mother is completely flabbergasted when he expounds his extremist views. Why doesn’t she slap some sense into him? No wonder he went and got drunk all the time.

Seriously though,  watching Ben fall under the tutelage of Rich and thinking that burning flags and demonizing the families of dead soldiers is all part and parcel of being a Muslim. In the documentary, the idiots think that England losing to Germany is some sort of sign from Allah for these sinners to reconsider their pact with the Devil. Bollocks! That’s just England being England at football.

Ben won’t even consider any other version of Islam unless it comes from a source trusted by him. He considers all who question the written word as “idiots”. Unfortunately, all those sources are extremists and The Independent is an Islamaphobic publication. This just goes to show how flawed and uneducated they are when it comes to their religion of choice. I wouldn’t expect much more from people who think that shaking hands with non-Muslims using the right hand is the equivalent of wiping your own ass. Yes, that’s in the documentary.

A Sad State of Affairs

I feel sad for Rob and his family in the end. They lost someone they loved to an extremist ideology that teaches them to forsake all that they hold dear. For instance, Rich felt his Mother would shame him among his peers if she appeared on camera without a veil. I hazard to think any version of God would decry an individual from associating himself with his family, even if they have vastly different beliefs.

This is a serious issue even outside the framing of this documentary. Already there are signs of these ideologies spreading throughout Europe.  I lived on The Highway, which is less than 10 minutes from Whitechapel. Walking through Whitechapel really is like walking into an entirely different realm. You instantly get the feeling that you have crossed the threshold into a close knit community of Muslims that rarely venture out of the area. Of course there are people from all walks of life and demographics living in the area peacefully. Then why does a certain group feel so disconnected from the society around them? Are they truly unable to function without creating an uproar or engaging in hurtful antics? What is the impetus for them wanting to reorganize Western society?  They can shout until the cows come home about the wars and deaths in the Middle-East as their justification. The barbaric killers in Woolwich this week certainly did and they were a part of Anjem Choudhary’s class of extremist philosophy. I can assure you that even if tomorrow all Western forces withdrew they will still find a reason to advocate.

This brand of crazy is present in all religions and countries, and it has been since time immemorial. Everyone is welcome to their faith, but perversions of the truth you value should be castigated and expelled to obscurity. If it works for these nuts, then it can certainly work for the progressives and moderates. All religions have their good parts, and this is the only way to defend them from being usurped by renegades and their deceitfulness.

As for me, I would rather be dead and damned than abandon my mind to the madness of religion.

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Batman: Arkham Origins Trailer


The Dark Knight Returns!

Batman: Arkham Origins features an expanded Gotham City and introduces an original prequel storyline occurring several years before the events of Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City. Taking place before the rise of Gotham City’s most dangerous villains and assassins, the game showcases a young, raw, unrefined Batman as he faces a defining moment in his early career as a crime fighter that sets his path to becoming the Dark Knight. As the story unfolds, witness identities being formed and key relationships being forged.”

The game will be out for all major platforms OCTOBER 25, 2013. Rest assured it will eventually find its way to the new spate of consoles coming our way in 2013. I will be playing this on my PC.

I thoroughly enjoyed the previous games in the series, but I wasn’t too fond of Arkham City’s world. While it was a fantastic Batman story, I didn’t feel invested in the world. It was, for lack of a better world, “dry” and I thought they went overboard with the amount of puzzles and Easter eggs. As a result, I felt disconnected from the greater story at times.

Still, I am very much looking forward to the new game. Hell, it has Slade Wilson fighting Bruce Wayne! I guess this means we can expect some more mano-a-mano boss battles. In particular, I’m looking forward to Roman Sionis (Black Mask) as the bad guy. I’ve always thought he was underplayed and would be an amazing adversary for The Batman. Btw, there is a little nod to Queen Industries on the bomb. Could this mean we might see Green Arrow?

What are your views on the game/trailer? Who/What/Where would you like to see in the game? Sound off in the comments!

More info on the game here!

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Unemployment (Underemployment): How Is It Shaping The Future?


Things Falling Apart

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You don’t need to wait for the next jobs report in the USA or Europe, to realize there’s something inherently wrong with the job market. With unemployment soaring above 20% in some countries, it’s very hard not to ponder about what’s going on. However, the numbers ( high or low) don’t always reveal the whole the story.

Contrary to what the US and German governments would have you believe, things aren’t getting much better –or at least not fast enough. Take Germany’s example, a juggernaut economy proud to state that it has the lowest general unemployment rate (under 6%) within the Euro zone.  Sounds good doesn’t it? Unfortunately, after closer inspection, and for the first time in decades, it appears that the harsh reality is that the future is not presently being considered.

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No matter where you look unemployment seems to be a youth issue.

The recession hit young people, especially graduates, the hardest. Millions of youngsters are out of the job market or, equally worse, underemployed. In fact, many are suffocated with student loans they are unable to repay.  According to The Economist, about 290 million people between the ages of 15-24, are unemployed or employed in sectors not related to their concentration or capacities.

The Blame Game

After several years of expansive growth the financial bubble (and several other bubbles) burst. As a result, growth stalled and a prosperous economic cycle was brought to its knees.  The ripple effect of the financial crisis affected every section of the globe. Globalization connects everyone on the planet; thus, everyone felt the punch. Six years into the recession, governments are facing sluggish growth and through harsh austerity policies.

Meanwhile on the other side of the spectrum, things couldn’t be more different. Companies are still hoarding massive amounts of cash and becoming less risk oriented. This is never more evident than when companies choose experience over education. Hiring a person with little to no experience implies a greater risk, one that requires time and money. However, the crawling economy is not the only culprit for the high levels of youth unemployment. There is a dissonance between the career paths chosen by Gen Y and the reality of the workforce. How many English, Liberal Arts and Sociology majors does a country need? I have great respect for everyone who pursues their passion, but I do wonder at times if one should consider usefulness over passion. Unfortunately everyone is bound to the reality of having to earn a living, which is not always aligned with one’s personal interests.

Each generation has unique situations that profoundly impact their lives, career decisions etc.; aspects that will be carried on for years to come. With such a high number of the future unemployed/underemployed, what will the next 30 years look like? What will retirement mean for Gen Y? One thing can be assumed: the way we enjoy and envision certain aspects of life like college, retirement or work, will vary significantly from today’s definition and expectations.  For instance, in one of their skits The Daily Show pundits make light of the current value of college and try to prevent people from entering careers with no future. College is no longer seen as the gateway to the acquisition of social mobility. Not because education isn’t necessary, but because the current education system is immensely flawed and is not in tune with the economic and social zeitgeist. Education became a profitable business that long ago forgot its mandate of usefulness and relevance. Unless things change for the better I doubt future generations will continue to ‘invest’ in higher education.

Retirement is another example. Can Gen Y afford to retire? In direct contradiction to practices of the past, Gen Y is already unfashionably late to the employment party. Crushed by debt and low asset ownership it doesn’t seem like life will begin in earnest for Gen Y anytime soon. Current trends suggest that consumer spending will not be the driver of growth and innovation for the future. Companies and government be aware! Forcing consumer spending is not a sustainable long term solution.

It’s not just the future that is in jeopardy because the present continues to crumble before our very eyes. High unemployment contributes to poverty and poverty fuels radicalization and extremism, especially in terms of immigration-the fallacy that foreigners take jobs from locals and devalue wages. Such views have even reignited the debate of racial supremacy. It is no coincidence that a neo-Nazi controls 10% of the parliament in Greece and anarchy reigns supreme. Radical groups with their own agendas have always taken advantage of the hopelessness of the masses. Today these social parasites have uncovered a new niche for the aggrandizement of their flawed ideals by preying on disenfranchised youths that are looking for someone to blame and any cause to give their lives meaning.

I predict that life will be significantly different for the next 30 years. The rioting and demonstrations will continue unabated if things don’t change. As such, companies should lose their fears of hiring youngsters and rather use this as an opportunity to cultivate and mold talent in accordance with corporate needs. On the other side, Gen Y should drive innovation and discover new ways of doing things. It cannot (and should not) be content with the status quo. It’s time Gen Y stops living under the shadows of Gen X and Baby Boomers and starts writing its own rules towards progress.

“The great Mother, Of all productions (grave Necessity).”

George Chapman The Conspiracy and Tragedy of Charles, Duke of Byron, 1608.

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Movie Review: The Great Gatsby


“All the bright precious things fade so fast…and they don’t come back”

What I Liked:

  •  I read the book a few years ago as I grabbed a tattered copy off of my sister’s bookshelf. Unfortunately, the language and style felt anachronistic to me, so I couldn’t invest myself in the world and the characters. This is not an issue with the movie. This meant that I was free from comparing the movie to the book. As a result, the DiCaprio version stands on its own merits and raises a story, which I initially didn’t care for, to a whole new level. In other words, the movie helped me appreciate the source material and pushed me to revisit it.
  • The words quoted above are uttered by Daisy towards the start of The Great Gatsby and percolate throughout the remainder of the movie. The words set the tone for the time period and sum up the individual character journeys eloquently. These words also teach a harsh lesson because this is a story of heartbreak. There are no heroes and villains, instead there are only flawed people. The New York of The Great Gatsby affords its denizens dreams of glitz and glamour, but dreams have a habit of not coming true. The movie takes this thread and unravels it delightfully. In a nutshell,  it is the story of a man trapped by purpose and consumed by august pretensions  in a microcosm of rapturous congregations. It is all merely a ruse to attract a distant glimmer of a hope he let go of years ago. Sadly, he becomes a victim of his own identity and malevolence as he drags the lives of others into tragedy and leaves them in disarray. I won’t call it selfish, but it is powerful, haunting, dark, sad, hurtful, and beautiful in its pain.
  • Fitzgerald’s writing speaks to you through  Baz Luhrmann’s imagery. Sometimes it even comes right at you. However, this movie is sold through its characters and their commanding presence. You will love them, you will hate them, but at all times you will be enthralled by them. It is initially jarring as everything appears unconventional, but you settle into the groove quickly as you acclimatize to the decadence and the pace of the epoch. Leonardo DiCaprio continues to prove he is the best actor of his generation and that he was born to play this role. He is a roller coaster of emotions, charming one second and ready to kill a man the next. Edgerton and Mulligan are equally evocative. Secretly, I adored Tobey Maguire’s portrayal of Nick Carraway. I started off not enjoying his voiceover and his recounting of the story. But over the course of the film you start to notice how his voice grows weary from the chaos unfolding around him. From Wall Street upstart to doting friend, his journey is a treat to watch as  his world crumbles around him and he is ultimately relegated to the role of a spectator entrenched in other people’s tensions. “Within and Without,” as Nick would say.
  • The highly ambitious visuals and effects in this film add to the splendor of the story.  One could argue that it is all superfluous and adds nothing of value to the proceedings. A mere distraction to take attention away from an otherwise mediocre film. I would contend that without the visuals the story of The Great Gatsby would not be so endearing and enchanting. They imbibe the movie with all the extravagances and sorrows of a classical fairy tale. Moreover  the visuals are metaphors strewn all over the place, but they bring the subtleties of Fitzgerald’s writing to the forefront. Lavish parties represent decadence and loneliness; a green light beckons forlorn desires; and the disparity of wealth is covered in thick black smog and the sweat of those less fortunate. The film,unlike the book, isn’t a commentary on the times, but it still manages to register on multiple levels while taking your breath away.
  • I have to give a special mention to the ending. It was meticulous, sombre and poignant. More importantly, it was silent but, just as Gatsby hoped for his own life, it has a sempiternal impact.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • I thought that the soundtrack was a mess. Who thought Jay-Z was a good depiction of the era? I enjoyed Baz Luhrmann’s crazy mash-ups in Moulin Rouge, but the same audaciousness doesn’t work here. I’m surprised that they couldn’t come up with a surreal remix of more iconic songs from that era. Also, the orchestral score wasn’t that striking either. A few hymns and measures stood out, particularly the lament of Young and Beautiful, but on the whole I felt that the soundtrack was underwhelming.
  • There is a lot of fast editing as the film weaves in and out of scenes. This is mostly noticeable at the start of the film and settles down as the movie finds its legs. It’s not major gripe, but it wasn’t handled seamlessly and felt a little disorienting, especially with the 3D.
  • Some interesting characters are sacrificed to keep the focus of the story on the main stars. For example, the excellent Amitabh Bachchan  makes his Hollywood debut here but only appears for about 5 minutes. This usually wouldn’t be a problem, but he is very good in those five minutes and is, quite explicitly, a big part of Gatsby’s current manifestation. The same goes for Jordan Baker, who is much more fleshed out in the book.
  • I fucking hate 3D. This movie made me like it. I don’t like that. There are some scenes which are just beautifully rendered where you actually feel like you are a part of that world and that you’re in the room with these characters as they tear their lives apart. So, I guess this should actually be in the list above.

Overall, this is one director’s vision of a story that has only become more loved through the ages. You will be taken to a different realm and you will be engaged. This is how films should be made. It invokes your imagination and pulls you into the depths of the anguish carried by each of the characters. Visually powerful, expertly designed, thematically refreshing and incredibly well acted.

OVERALL: 8/10

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Global Carbon Dioxide Concentration Increasing



We’re Doomed!

This story came out a fortnight ago on The Guardian and it shows that the levels of carbon dioxide across the world have continued to increase. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has reached 399.72 parts per million (ppm) and is likely to pass the symbolically important 400ppm level for the first time in the next few days.

This is unprecedented but  the finding has been supported by the Mauna Loa station in Hawaii. The station sits 3400m above sea level and far away from any other pollution sources. As a result, it has long been considered to be the standard bearer in measuring atmospheric CO2 levels.

Our reliance on fossil fuels has contributed greatly to the rise of carbon levels in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there is a solution in sight. At the moment  countries involved in climate talks remain deadlocked, and no global agreement to reduce emissions is expected until 2015.

As a point of interest, The Keeling Curve reports that the last time temperatures were this high was 3-5 million years ago in the Pliocene era! Personally speaking, I’m not ready to go extinct like the mammals of that era. Whether you believe in climate change or not, this should be a wake up call fo everyone to embrace cleaner, greener and more efficient forms of energy.

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Live Without Breathing!


A New Scientific Discovery!

Gather around boys and girls because what I’m about to tell you will leave you breathless. Of course, it doesn’t matter because it looks like you don’t need oxygen anyway!

Finally we can be free of the tyranny of the molecular bonds that hold us prisoner to our lungs!

Scientist at the  Boston Children’s Hospital have designed a microparticle that can be injected into a person’s bloodstream and quickly oxygenate their blood. They claim that this will even work if the ability to breathe has been restricted. Furthermore, they state that this miraculous particle has the ability to keep an organism (that’ you) alive for up to 30 minutes after acute respiratory failure.

Here are some words about the composition of the particle:

“The microparticles used are composed of oxygen gas pocketed in a layer of lipids. A Lipid is a natural molecule that can store energy and act as a part of a cell membrane, they can be made of many things such as wax, vitamins, phospholipids, and in this case fat is the lipid that stores the oxygen.

These microparticles are around two to four micrometers in length and carry about three to four times the oxygen content of our own red blood cells. In the past, researchers had a difficult time succeeding as prior tests caused gas embolism. This meant that the gas molecules would become stuck trying to squeeze through the capillaries. They corrected this issue by packaging them into small deformable particles rather ones where the structure was rigid.”

Amazing! I didn’t get a word of that but it works! Seriously, this is a pretty significant scientific breakthrough that has the potential to be applied to different fields. The medical uses are pretty obvious when it comes to saving lives. It can even be used in dangerous conditions with toxic gases. But think of how this can revolutionize space travel. It’s possible that we could use these particles to take us further into space, and maybe even to different planets. Just pop a pill and walk around Mars. I’m getting ahead of myself, but, as these scientist have shown, ingenuity and imagination go hand in hand. Of course, this doesn’t make air obsolete, so you can stop holding your breath.

Here is a link to the full article.

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