How Big is Space? Take a Look for Yourself

Since the world is still reeling from the return of Cosmos hosted by the ineffable Neil DeGrasse Tyson, I figured it would be a good idea to a space related post (mainly because I’m shameless want more hits). If you haven’t seen Cosmos, then go watch it…after you finish reading and telling your friends about my post.

The almost always awesome BBC has put together a fantastic  interactive that allows you pilot a tiny rocket to the edge of our Solar System. That’s over 20 BILLION KM away! That would take you 20 hours to complete if you were on the Starship Enterprise travelling at Warp 1.

Suit up and buckle in for your journey here:



My Brother The Islamist: Documentary


****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.


What Dreams May Come

Scientists in Japan have developed methods using MRI scans to read the dreams of subjects. The study was published in the journal Science and it can be found here:

Essentially, the scientist created a repository of various images related to varied brain activity during sleep. They accomplished this by grouping the various images reported by subjects upon waking into categories (e.g. Mercedes under vehicles, dogs under animals) and matched it with specifics brain activity. Following that, they observed brain activity to predict what the subject was dreaming about with an accuracy of 60% in a broad context. That’s not too shabby.

Here is what the scientists had to say:

“We were able to reveal dream content from brain activity during sleep, which was consistent with the subjects’ verbal reports. I had a strong belief that dream decoding should be possible at least for particular aspects of dreaming… I was not very surprised by the results, but excited.”

This is pretty exciting and scary stuff To be honest, it makes me think of science fiction and the possibilities for medical science as this study progresses to more deeper forms of sleep.

What untapped secrets of the brain will such research reveal? Could our dreams become more indicative of our health and our psyche? Could they be invaded and replaced in a way that benefits or harms our well-being? Can our dreams and nightmares be used against us? Will the future paint dreams as some kind of entertainment fix akin to Total Recall? Will we want to abandon a dismal reality and sacrifice our minds to a perpetual voyage upon the seas of sleep? Will they finally be able to tell us what the hell is up with Deja-vu?

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