Saturday, 7 March 2015

Government

Governments should be administratively efficient, lean, iterative, class neutral, staid and the defenders of responsibility, accountability, consultation and rule of law. The people on whose behalf they govern should be revolutionaries. If the roles are reversed one is left with a population who as individuals, directed in the main by self-interest, will abandon these noble values and a government who, will seek to impose its vision of the future in the shortest way forward. This in the full knowledge, that in trying to change societies, there are no shortcuts.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Je ne suis pas Charlie (I am not Charlie)

Much has been written about freedom of speech, which in the context of the killings perpetrated in Paris, is often used interchangeably with  freedom of the press. As a practicing muslim who revers the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) as a prophet of God and the seal of the prophets (the last prophet) I found the attacks on the person of the prophet by Charlie Hebdo and the Danish news cartoons very difficult to bear. I found no reason for the disgrace heaped upon a man of God who lived 1400 years ago and whose religion preaches peace, charity and the submission to God.

If there were events or actions, considered to be pure evil, perpetrated by men in the name of religion claiming God as their benefactor, then surely, intelligent and educated people living and writing in civilised societies can see through the artifice that is this paper thin construct by distinguishing between man and religion. Or does one chose to believe it and propagate it, because it falls neatly into your preconceived views of the word. If on the other hand you genuinely believe that men of this type are an accurate representation of the religion they follow then it goes without saying that you have something more than a cursory understanding of the religion that you are condemning and the life of the man that you are lampooning.

If that understanding exists, you would know the position that the prophet Muhammed (PBUH) holds in the Islamic faith. You would understand that proclaiming the oneness of God is only half the proclamation of faith required of a muslim, with other part being belief in the status of the prophet Muhammed (PBUH) as a messenger of God. You would also know that even God blesses the Prophet many times in the Quran. You would also know how intimate the relationship is between the Prophet and the Islamic faith. As one poet puts it, the Prophet to Islam is as beauty is to a rose.

So what then, is the benefit of the denigration the Prophet of Islam. How is his actions of 1400 years ago a current affair that requires the response of humiliation and degradation. I cannot answer that question for you save to say that the argument that Charlie Hebdo is a notorious anti religious publication that attacks all religions not only Islam is equally weak. That is akin to a physician saying I donot only treat black patients recklessly in my diagnosis and treatment of them, I also treat white and asian patients equally badly. Since when did simple one dimensional sameness of action become a yardstick by which the integrity of action is measured.

So what then does a grieving muslim do when faced with such behaviour. The overwhelming majority of us spoke out against it, refined our thinking and arguments against such behaviour and wrote out against it, decided not to buy such publications, boycotted the advertisers appearing in such publications, instituted legal action against such publications and fretted in private. We did not take or support violent action in opposition to such publications because our Prophet when physically and verbally abused during his spreading of the word of God 1400 years ago bore those insults stoically. A living person can learn the error of their ways, change, ask for forgiveness. A dead person cannot grow, learn or see the error of their ways, so killing those unfortunate enough to confuse school yard humour with social commentary deprives us all of the opportunity to successfully argue our case. This is what the majority of Muslims believe. But believeing this does not make me a supporter of Charlie Hebdo. Quite the contrary. Their magazine makes me afraid of our understanding of freedom of speech and press and I quite easily state that I do not support Charlie Hebdo, I donot consider their cartoons to be in line with freedom of speech or press and believe that it is an affront to civilisation and not only Islamic civilisation.

What I do and quite clearly support is Charlie Hebdo’s  right to make these mistakes, without their lives being threatened or taken. Killing in the name of God is the ultimate irony, as it is the last refuge of someone so weak in their faith that they believe it will collapse unless the opponent is destroyed, ultimately drawing attention to the weakness of the very faith they profess to have.

I will march for for a persons right to criticise, ridicule even in order to draw attention to a social injustice or right a wrong, but I will not march for Charlie Hebdo.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

The Watch



The ubiquitous wristwatch; for me, serves two simple purposes. Firstly, it is a quick and efficient means to tell the time. A simple raising of the arm accompanied by a slight twist of the wrist and you know the time. The rest of the time, it sits there on my wrist performing its second function which is to complement my personal style or fashion sense. For some that style may be a titanium encased combat watch designed to survive a tank rolling over it and taking up enough real estate on your wrist to equate to you putting a grandfather clock in you car to tell the time. Personally my tastes and physiology run along different lines. I have small wrists and prefer minimal, sleek and sophisticated.  I believe it adds a further dimension to how I choose to present my self to the outside world.

This brings me to the current discussions around wearable tech that is the subject of many a written article and news report. If a watch is able to do the above two things, I am happy parting with my money. People have been doing this for decades and will probably continue. If I have to trade off one or both, to be able to check my messages, take photos or know what my heart rate is then, I will be less inclined to part with my money as I see no great advantage over what my phone is currently able to do. If however, you take my current, sleek, minimalist and sophisticated watch and add to it a heart rate and run walk monitor, I would be even more interested in parting with my money. The more functions  you add to my sleek, sophisticated and minimalist time keeping wristwatch the more I am inclined to buy it, but for me it starts out with two very simple questions, can I tell the time with a simple raising of the arm and a twist of the wrist and will it give a hint of my personality.  
 

Friday, 2 January 2015

Holidays

There are three types of holidays. The first one involves travelling, seeing new places, meeting new people and experiencing new cultures. More often than not this is the type of holiday that one needs a vacation from as it involves planes, taxis, hotels, early mornings and late nights. It is also the type of holiday that most expands ones world view, and awakens the senses. Though tired at the end, ones mind is re-invigorated and charged up to face the world and life anew.
The second type of holiday are those that involve limited travelling to a fairly static location. By this I mean, a trip to a beach resort or ski-ing resort. It results in late rising, late breakfasts, sitting by the pool, reading, tanning, swimming, dancing, eating and sleeping. Not necessarily in that order. At the end of such holidays you are left with an abiding send of physical well-being and restlessness that haves you chomping at the bit to tackle the world and life again.
The third type of holiday is the simplest. It is taking time off and spending it in the comfort of your own home. Here one needs to draw a distinction between people that do this out of choice and people that would like to go away but circumstances donot allow them to. The latter results in a bit more tension that the former. This is the holiday that I am currently taking. Waking up late, sleeping even later, spending the day in my pyjama's, eating familiar foods in familiar surrounding. But most importantly, tackling, at a snails pace, all the little issues in ones life that work and holidays prevent you from getting to. Whether it is dealing with the municipality, servicing the car, finally sorting out the garden, eating at that restaurant or taking that walk with the wife/kids/girlfriend that you have been meaning to, this is my favourite type. It is not exotic, but working slowly through that list of to do's and getting to the end of it, leaves one with a feeling of peace, contentment and freshness. The new year is eactly that, a fresh start with little carried over from the old year.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The Resolution

I shall not live in fear. I will not allow being thought of less, to stop me from saying what needs to be said. I will not let what the future holds for me; dictate the person I want to be today. I will not pass on my fears to my children and have them be afraid of life. I will not fear tomorrow, the unknown, the unseen, the unheard because they have a better chance of being good as they do bad.

I will embrace life in all it’s glory and darkness, because the darkness allows me to rest my eyes and live with my heart and soul. I will encourage my children to paint using the dining table as a art table, and to jump on the bed and couches, not only because they are young once but because it lets people who enter our home know that we live here.

I will encourage them to fall in love as often as possible, because like all things in life, practice makes perfect. I will learn to fly not simply because I am afraid of heights but also because the clouds is where I belong. I will learn to play a musical instrument not merely because I am afraid of exposing my soul; but because music is the the language of God. I will learn a foreign language and converse with new people not merely because I am introverted but because it provides me with a whole new vocabulary of swear words and I will take up photography with a passion so I never have to fear forgetting.

I will not live in fear.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Honesty

I visited local McDonalds and KFC outlets over the past few months and have come across an interesting form of dishonesty. The McD in Pinelands, Western Cape, South Africa and the KFC in Maitland, Western Cape, South Africa crook their waiting times in the drive-through. As some may know, there are sensors at the drive through windows that measure the time that a car stands and waits for their food. This is a quality of service issue and is used to maintain timely service averages. What these two outlets do when they are not able to promptly provide you the food you ordered is to ask you to park your car in the waiting spot and they will bring you your food. If you ask why, they tell you that they don't want to delay the car behind you. Thus crooking the system. On the odd occasion, when something goes wrong this may be acceptable, but it has become almost standard practice with me waiting in the parking spot on average 30% of my visits.

I wonder if the owners are aware of this or is it just the managers who are measured and rewarded on these averages.

Further if they are dishonest about this, what other corners are they cutting? Watering down the hand sanitisers, tomato sauce, keeping old food in the wormers to serve to customers ( this happened to me on my last visit to the McD)?

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Soccer World Cup

Attended the world cup and watched two first round matches. Spain vs Switzerland and Netherlands vs Japan. The matches were great, the stadium, spirit and and crowd were absolutely incredible. I took my father to the matches, one of the better decisions that I have made. He absolutely loved it. My only regret is that I did not get tickets to more matches.

The Moses Mabhida stadium is a sight to behold. Everyone visiting South Africa for the Wold Cup I hope has tickets to watch any match at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

For those doomsayers or naysayers, regarding South Africa's ability to hold the World Cup. Sorry, climb under that rock and come out in a few years time when Brazil another developing nation is in its final preparation stages to host the tournament. We will await your negativity at that time. For the rest enjoy the games.