Since August, 2001. Surely it can’t last…
Tuesday, October 23, 2001 ↓
NORMAL SERVICE WILL BE RESUMED…
There will now be a brief pause in transmissions while I disappear off to Sweden again, until the weekend.
MUSLIMS IN DENIAL
In line with my practice of catching up on The Sundays throughout the following week, I've just found this article in The Observer: Islam has become its own enemy.
The writer, a Muslim, makes the same point that I made on September 11, albeit more eloquently and better argued.
While I and most sensible people around the world accept that the likes of Osama bin Laden do not really represent (or behave according to) the teachings of the Koran or the Prophet, it does Islam and Muslims no good to adopt the ostrich posture and say, "Ah, but that's them, not us, they're the nasty ones." To say that fundamentalist terrorists are "not real Muslims," when those same terrorists think they are the most real of Muslims will do nothing to dispel anti-Muslim feelings amongst those who harbour them. And the extremists are real Muslims. Do they not believe that there is only one God, Allah, and that Mohamed was his messenger? Do they not go to the mosque, pray five times a day, observe Ramadan, and do all the other things Muslims do? (They just happen to kill people as well, in the furtherance of their beliefs.)
I think the non-Muslim world would like to see Islam take some responsibility for its more "irregular" adherents, as the writer of the Observer article suggests. After all, it's not only "civilian" Muslims who hold extremist beliefs, they are shared by many Muslim clerics — indeed the clerics may be responsible for promulgating these beliefs. Now if, say, a few crackpot Catholic priests got together and decided to revive the Spanish Inquisition and to insist everyone believes that the Bible is the Absolute Truth, wouldn't we expect the Vatican to come down on them like a ton of bricks, and damn quickly too?
Islam has a problem in that unlike other mainstream religions, it hasn't gone through any significant reformation, so some beliefs seem to sit uncomfortably in a modern context. And as Ziauddin Sardar point outs, the lack of political freedom and open debate in many Muslim societies makes it difficult to modernise and to examine critically the range of beliefs and views held by all the people who today call themselves Muslims. Sardar quotes a man who is a living example of this problem, Anwar Ibrahim, formerly the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia. Malaysia, a country with which I am more than a little familiar and for which I hold a good deal of affection, is generally looked upon as a moderate Muslim state. But when Anwar started making noises about government corruption and ineptitude, it didn't take long before Dr. Mahatir, the Prime Minister, had trumped up charges of committing homosexual acts brought against him, and despite there being no solid evidence against him (at least, nothing that would stand up in a court of law in this country), Anwar lost his case and is now in jail. Penalty for committing a homosexual act in Malaysia? Fifteen years, in Anwar's case. But then, according to Abdul Kadir, the head of Malaysia's religious enforcement police, 'Homosexuality is a Crime Worse Than Murder'.
STILL MORE MEMES
Ye gads! Under my skin, I'm Lt. Cdr. Data! Why couldn't I have been Roy Batty? (Mind you, everybody wants to be Roy Batty. Maybe we all want to dream of electric sheep.)
Monday, October 22, 2001 ↓
JE SUIS UN BLOGGEUR ECOSSAIS!
I couldn't resist lifting this link from Natalie to an "officially sanctioned" French-ified spelling and definition of "blog"; sorry "blogue". Like the lady said, doesn't the Government of Quebec (a little separatist at heart?) have anything better to do?
Pour les non-francophones, here's my rough-and-ready translation:
blogue masculine noun
Evolving and non-conformist Web page presenting all kinds of information, usually in the form of short, regularly updated messages, the content and free form of which lie wholly at the discretion of the authors. Note: The sarcastic and very personal tone of the comments presented in a blog are characteristic of the type of site that hosts it. One often finds links in a blog that refer the visitor to other sites. The term blogue, proposed by the French Language Office, is based on the model of bogue (bug, as in software).
Hey, I'm non-conformist! And sarcastic!
Interestingly, I've read a couple of real French (as in "made in France") blogs once or twice, and I don't recall the authors referring to their oeuvres as blogues. Maybe it's just for the Québécois…
NO UNNATURAL PRACTICES PERMITTED AT BEST WESTERN
From the Best Western Hotels Policies page:
"The maximum number of people allowed in a double, queen or king-size bed is 2"
Just in case you had any more interesting ideas, obviously.
THE GREATEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF ALL?
Apparently on this day in 1844, the Seventh Day Adventists were awaiting the Second Coming of Christ. When the Big Guy failed to oblige, the Adventists suffered what became known as "the Great Disappointment."
It's fascinating how religious groups judiciously adjust their philosophy when their former beliefs or predictions are overtaken by events or by scientific discovery (how would Archbishop Ussher have adjusted his calculation that the Earth was created in the year 4004 BC, when we started digging up fossils and eventually concluded the Earth is about 4 billion years old?). The Adventists
"went back to their Bibles to find why they had been disappointed. Soon they concluded that the October 22 date had indeed been correct. They became convinced that the Bible prophecy predicted not that Jesus would return to earth in 1844, but that He would begin at that time a special ministry in heaven for His followers."
Oh, the capacity of humankind for self-deception…
Sunday, October 21, 2001 ↓
Still on the subject of books (sort of), I added a link to my Amazon wish list in the sidebar on this page. Well, with a birthday coming up in less than two months, then Christmas after that, I've got to give the folks at home a few clues, haven't I?
Nick Hornby has a lot to answer for...
Some weeks back I read Tony Parsons' debut novel, Man and Boy. I bought the book purely out of curiosity, to see if Tony Parsons could write a novel (I'd only read a few of his newspaper columns, and stopped reading the NME when I was about fifteen). I had no idea what the book was about, and I didn't even read the jacket notes. Anyway, I began reading it after midnight one night. It's perhaps an unusual sort of book for a man to write, but I found myself reading on until I was about two-thirds of the way through and decided I really did need some sleep. The first thing I did the next morning was pick the book up and read it to the end. Like all the best books, it struck several chords.
"When your partner has got a child, it can never be like the movies. And anyone who can't see that has watched a few too many MGM musicals."
That I know...
Anyway, there I was in the airport a week or so ago, browsing the shelves for something suitably trashy to pass the Edinburgh-Amsterdam-Gothenburg-Amsterdam-Edinburgh cycle, when I stumbled on John O'Farrell's The Best a Man Can Get. Again, I bought the book largely out of curiosity, and the "hook" factor (see below). I'd seen O'Farrell's columns in The Independent, but I'd no idea that he'd been a writer on Spitting Image and the film Chicken Run — which sounded like a good comedy pedigree.
The central premise of the book is a wonderful fantasy. Michael, our hero, is happily married with two kids and a third on the way. The reason he's happily married is that for most of the week, he escapes the drudgery of children and the conventions of married life by living in a flat with three other (younger, single) guys — where his wife thinks he is working hard as a composer of advertising jingles. In fact, he's hardly working at all.
It's a great idea, and of course, it all rather predictably comes crashing down around his ears. Similarities with Tony Parsons' book arise in the second half of the novel, where Michael acquires a much deeper appreciation of his children and full-time married life. There's a certain inevitability in the happy ever after ending, but it's a good enough story for all that, and whiled away the flying hours with ease.
What was the "hook"? The very first paragraph of the book, brilliantly condensing the dilemma faced by many of us who have "gone it alone":
"I found it hard working really long hours when I was my own boss. The boss kept giving me the afternoon off. Sometimes he gave me the morning off as well. Sometimes he'd say, 'Look, you've worked pretty hard today, why don't you take a well-earned rest tomorrow.' If I overslept he never rang me to ask where I was; if I was late to my desk he always happened to turn up at exactly the same time; whatever excuse I came up with, he always believed it. Being my own boss was great. Being my own employee was a disaster, but I never thought about that side of the equation."
Discipline, boy, discipline!
Older material is stashed away under Replays.