Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Mayans Lied to Us Hence the Wait for The End of the World Continues



Hello, my name is *insert name here* and I am one of the December 21st end of the world survivors. If there is still anyone else out there, anyone at all, please let me know, I will find you.

Got a text message like that this morning. Thought if I am still alive on December 22, I would be saying this to people. Like posting this message on a wall somewhere or try to send it through the internet (provided the internet is still there and still works) or maybe post it in a way that helicopters flying high can see it, like with coconuts or something, like they show in the movies. Okay, I am exaggerating a bit with the message written in coconuts for flying helicopters to catch. If they are any survivors, last thing they would be doing would be flying helicopters as the first point on their agenda will be survival, I guess.

Anyways, turns out this is all make believe. The world didn’t end. The Zombie Apocalypse never occurred. Wished it actually could’ve been real. That the world did end on December 21 and the Zombie Apocalypse occurred. I mean, the world has been around for so long. High time it ended, LOL. I would’ve been witnessing a once in a life time event, history in the making. Okay okay, on a more serious note, I seriously thought the world was going to end on December 21 like the Mayans told us it would. Thought maybe a nuclear explosion would occur or suddenly a black hole would come which would suck the world inside it. Or suddenly a meteorite or an asteroid will hit the earth. Or something on these lines would occur. But unfortunately nothing happened. I don’t know why, but I actually wanted the world to end. Maybe just to witness the event, but I really badly wanted the world to end.

I was even about to write my own guide about “How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse” or “Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse for Dummies” thinking it would come in handy on December 21, but I never went beyond deciding the title of the book. Looks like it was a good thing I never bothered to work on that book, all of my hard work would’ve gone waste.   

So many theories even pointed to the world ending at around this time. It was not just the Mayans. Biblical references said so too. And the list goes on of other people who thought the world would end. The Sibylline Prophecies. Quatrains of Nostradamus. But the Mayans were the ones who had pinpointed an exact date while the others had only given a general picture of this time, so I will express my anger towards the Mayans by saying, “The Mayans screwed us over by giving us hope that the world is going to come to an end”. Stupid, useless hope.

And apparently it was not just me who was looking forward to the world ending. A bunch of other people were too. I was reading on Al Jazeera’s website about all the preparations that the people had made to celebrate the end of the world or honour the end of the world, or whatever you would like to call it. In Varansai, India, people came to offer prayers and take shelter; as Varansi is a holy city it was believed that when doomsday occurs, Varansai will remain intact. In Russia, a museum sold tickets for like a thousand dollars or something for people to stay in former Soviet dictator Joseph (or is it spelled Josef?) Stalin’s bunker so that they can survive doomsday. In China, the wait for doomsday actually resulted in like over a thousand arrests because the people who were circulating doomsday protests must’ve gotten they eye of the authorities. Well, the Al Jazeera article that I quoted in this article is located here http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2012/12/2012122165411542664.html if you want to read it. Unfortunately I still do not know how to create hyper links. I couldn’t code stuff even if my life depended on it.

Those people who were “beliefists”, who believed so much in the world ending and the Mayan theory, I wonder how they are coping. I am really curious about that. Maybe they are following the revised Mayan calendar which apparently believes in 2017. (A guest who came over to my place yesterday told about the 2017 revised Mayan calendar, that the world will end January 1, 2017. Personally, it was the first time that I was hearing of any such thing.) 

So I am trying to look at the bright side here. If I ever have any kids I can show them the movie 2012 and say to them, “Look I survived that thing!!” or tell them stories of how I survived the Zombie Apocalypse.

So, when actually will the world end? Out of all of the major theories that speculate the ending of the world, all of them have been spent out, so to speak, with the exception of two. The first possible prediction is for 2028, called The Triple Six Mystery. What it entails, I don’t know. I have read about it, but unfortunately I have been unable to make much sense of it. Apparently it has some basis in Christianity and the next rapture (whatever that is supposed to be) will happen in the year 2028, and following this rapture will be so much instability that the world will just come to an end.

The next prediction is for the year 2280. And this theory is based on Islam. Apparently the Quran has a mathematical code in it and the scientists have managed to break the code and the code says the world will end in Ramadan 1710 according to the Islamic calendar, which corresponds to the year 2280 in the Gregorian calendar.

There is like so much talk about when the world will end, but no talk about how the world will end? Did anyone ever notice that? Well, I admit I just noticed that now while typing out this blog post. And I thought to myself, “Have I heard of any theory about how the world will end?” I am already aware of one theory but I Googled the question for hope of additional information. Turns out all the theories except the one I know of have been proven wrong. Stuff about planetary alignments and the earth banging into this planet known as Planet X and an asteroid hitting the earth. Well, the one theory that I know of can’t be proven right or wrong until the world actually ends. The theory that I know of the theory Islam puts forward – well basically the way Islam describes the end of the world, it sounds as if the end of the world will be due to a nuclear explosion. This is something that cannot be proved or disproved or disregarded until the world ends, so I guess this theory will be standing till the end. I mean, how do you disprove (or prove, for that matter) that a nuclear war will cause the end of the world? Until the world actually ends, that is.
 
So I guess the wait to the end of the world continues. Whether its 2017 or 2028 or 2280. Or neither of those three years. Only when the world actually ends will we know when is doomsday, but they are three theories still standing so far. And, when it comes to how the world will end, that is something we will only know until the world ends, and for that the nuclear bomb theory is the only one that is still standing. Until the world ends, happy rotting in this crappy God forsaken world. :-)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays Readers!!

Just wishing all of my readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy Festive Season. To all those who celebrate it. In my house, nobody could care less about holidays. Most likely the parents found out today is Christmas after seeing a mass service on tv or a picture of Santa on the front page of the City News section of the newspaper that comes in my house. And then forgot about it a few minutes later. That is how much interest holidays of any kind generate with my family. But Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate it. Hope you have lovely Christmas trees and don't forget the Christmas spirit of it being better to give than to recieve.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

My Tribute to Yahoo Messenger



As Yahoo is shutting down its chat rooms on Dec 14, I decided to write a little tribute to Yahoo chat rooms as they really meant a lot to me and played an important role in my life since the past ten years.

I was 14 years old when I first got the internet. And it was then that I was introduced to the world of chatting and Yahoo Messenger. I was really hooked on Yahoo Games, especially Bingo. Nowadays, Yahoo Games are like a lost cause. But at that time, they were a really up and happening place with a chat function too. And people would ask if they could add me on Yahoo Messenger. And I’d be like, “What is that?”.  Eventually one kind chatter explained to me what Yahoo Messenger is, so I downloaded it and thus began my ten year chatting career.

I am not going to go much into my history and past with Yahoo Messenger here, though. But there is a part of my YM history that deserves an honourable mention. But when I initially joined YM, I was really into aliens and space and all that business. (Those of you who know my email address, yes it was made during this era and yes, I know I need a new email address.) So that is how I found myself in a room called Extraterrestrial Life 1. Ironically we never talked about the topic of the room at all, except for one person who kept on trying to bring the room on topic, but to no avail. It was like a person who felt so different from others that they don’t belong anywhere, finally was embraced into a community. And I managed to make some really good friends there. Actually met the very first friend I ever made on YM there. We remained friends for several years until he passed away in 2005. It was the connections that I formed there was the only reason why I managed to keep my sanity and stay alive during the most difficult patch of my life.

Anyways, Yahoo made some changes which then resulted in everyone leaving that room and me losing all the friendships that I made there. But I will always appreciate, and at the same time never forget, the support I got during that difficult time. It meant a lot to me.

I know that many people are very hesitant to form online friendships believing the internet is like this dirty dangerous place. And yes, the internet is a very dangerous realm where you really need to protect yourself properly and fiercely unless you are in a mood to be burned alive on the very first day. In my ten years, I got to see all dimensions of chat, from the very good brilliant side to it, to the depths of hell side of it too. I definitely have come across the worst kind of garbage and filth which I am sure came from some the depths of some gutter which is located in the basement of hell.

But, at the same time, I came across some of the best people in the world. The most awesome and best people that I have ever met in my life. And I made some of my best-est (Before the grammar squad comes on me, yes I know there is no such word) friends ever. I have always been a strong believer in the idea that a friend is a friend and when it comes to friends it does not matter if you have met face to face or just through computers only.

The last part of my life on YM was spent in a room known as Books and Literature 3. As I am really into books and really in love with the written word, I tried out another Books room where I met this chatter who introduced me to Books and Literature 3. This room became like a homeland to me. It was like one big happy family in there, and just like any other big happy family we fought, we laughed, had our fun and messed with each other. And like any other family, you always knew that someone had your back. Just an international big happy family that was. It was like a room where before entering, at the door, there is a basket lying around where you have to dump your issues or anything that is troubling you in that basket before you enter, like a compulsory requirement or something, because just going there would solve everything. Some of the best times of my life were spent there. Unfortunately, the sad reality of life is that all good things must come to an end, hence the chatroom is gone, which in a way dismantled the community we had going there. But still, I will never forget the people I met there and the times I spent there. It will always be a part of my memory forever. I wish all of the friends I made there all the best.

I usually make it a strong fierce point never to talk about myself or ever share anything about my personal life, but I had to add a little bit about my personal life here, because without it, my tribute to YM would be incomplete. We are talking here about the kid who, while growing up, was that kid who was the alienated or rejected kid, the one who had no friends, no siblings. The kid who was on their own, picked on for being different, while at the same time fighting their own unique war due to the circumstances they found themselves in. And the world of YM gave that rejected teenager the thing they wanted the most: acceptance and, at the same time, allowed them the opportunity to embrace their individuality.

For all of this I have two words to say to YM – thank you.   

Sunday, December 09, 2012

To the End of the Land by David Grossman (Spoiler Alert!!)



Writing about books, like a book report or a book review, is not something that I have ever done. Never ever. Like I said before, I am more of a reader than a writer. But as I have undertaken this project of writing, I might as well introduce my readers (If they exist in the first place, LOL) to the books that I finish reading, as I finish them. So I will be, along with other stuff, be introducing my readers to books as I finish them.

The book I just finished reading is “To the End of the Land” by David Grossman. Here is the link to its Goodreads page: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7779571-to-the-end-of-the-land (Unfortunately I still don’t know how to make those hyperlinks here but I’d really appreciate it if somebody could explain it to me) Now my post includes spoilers, so if you don’t want the story ruined for you any further, don’t read any further. I just write about a book without including spoilers in it.

Normally I am a big fan of big thick books with tiny font. However, with this book, I felt like this book is just too long. It was too tedious a read for me. Like it just seemed never ending for me. Which is something I have never ever felt about a book, no matter how thick it is or long it is. Despite that, I still would recommend this book. The only reason I found it tedious is because of how deadly slow it can get. But yet, this is a very impacting book and that is the sole reason why I would recommend it.

This book was originally written in Hebrew, but then Jessica Cohen translated it into English from Hebrew. I read it in English as I don’t speak a word of Hebrew. The author has two sons, the elder one had finished his compulsory military duty, while the second one was doing it. Unfortunately, the second son died during the Second Lebanon War as the tank he was in was attacked. It was during this time did the author begin writing this book with the belief that “the book will protect his son” (A concept that has never made any sense to me, to be honest) but towards the end of the writing of the book, the son passed away.

This book even focuses on a military theme. It revolves around a couple, Ora and Ilan, their former best friend Avram, and Ora and Ilan’s two sons, Adam and Ofer. To summarize the story of this book, Ora and Ilan are recently estranged. Ora, along with her driver Sami, goes to drop Ofer to this place where soldiers go to when they have to report for active duty. Ofer has completed his compulsory military service but he decided to enlist in the army again. In the book we are first introduced to Ora’s relationship with Sami. This part seemed to go on too long for me.

Afterwards, Ora manages to track down Avram, whom she has not met or had contact with in years, and manages to convince him to go on a hike with her across northern Israel. The idea is to avoid any news from the front and any informers, as if the hike will save Ofer’s life. Over on the hike, where the rest of the book is situated, do we learn about the beginning of Ofer’s life up to his possible death, about Adam, about Ilan and about the nature of the friendship between Ilan, Avram and Ora. There are a lot of relationships/bonds that one has to keep track of throughout the book, Ora-Ilan, Adam-Ofer, Ora-Avram and Ilan-Avram. And another interesting relationship we explore is Ofer-Avram, as it turns out that Avram is Ofer’s biological father and Avram has never met Ofer.

The idea behind the hike was to somehow protect Ofer by bringing both his biological parents together and keep on discussing him and talking about him. However, in the end we are not told if Ofer dies or if he still lives. But personally, I get the impression that it is more likely that he has, in fact, died.

It is a very impacting book as it really goes into the nature of human relationships. And it really talks about fate too. Because Ora had to take names out of a hat (either Avram or Ilan) and it was because Avram’s name came was this whole story able to take place. If Ilan’s name came, most likely none of these events would have taken place. The theme of fate and how one moment can change your life forever really appealed to me.

So basically I would recommend this book due to its impacting element. But remember that there is a lot to keep track while reading it because of the numerous relationships the author is exploring. The major drawback of this book however is that it is just too long at times as the author has like dragged stuff too much, especially Ora’s relationship with Sami, as it doesn’t seem to be important to the story.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Say YES to a Free and Open Internet



In my very first blog entry,  I am going to highlight a petition that I have signed and so have many other people. Say No to internet censorship. If you still want the free and open internet that we enjoy today, sign this petition. The link for it is here: https://www.google.com/intl/en/takeaction/whats-at-stake/ People all over the world have signed it and it even has a Twitter hashtag #freeandopen. Thousands of people have signed it so far and many more signatures are expected. So many people are standing up for internet freedom.
There is another one of those petitions here too called Project Internet Freedom and it can be found here: http://www.protectinternetfreedom.org/ Thousands of organizations have joined forces, from different parts of the world, to fight this cause.

This is the world of the 21st century, the information world, or the “knowledge society” (heard the term on Al Jazeera). And yet our access to information is under a grave threat thanks to this ongoing conference in Dubai.  Governments are holding a closed door meeting to decide the future of the internet. And the “treaty” that they are going to sign is going to remain secret and confidential, so we are never going to know what the hell is in it. Internet has billions of users, and this is an age, where thanks to the internet, there is a flow of information. Things remain get in, things go out. Things no longer remain hidden.

However, instead what is happening is that a treaty regarding communication, which was ratified in 1988, I believe, is being re-negotiated in Dubai right now. Users of the internet have no say. The engineers who developed and worked on the technology have no say. Internet companies who do business on the internet have no say. Only the governments have a say. And governments have hidden agendas behind this. It will turn into a situation that Marx has described, in a way, where a few is in control of what the many receive. The few control the many. Or to  quote someone I heard on Al Jazeera, “a body of a few people will be in control of the whole internet”.

Currently, they say that in Syria they have shut down the internet. When the revolution took place in Egypt, their government shut down the internet because bloggers were getting the word out. Places where there is unrest, Blogspot has been banned because bloggers were getting the word out about what was happening in their country. Examples are Syria, Iran and Egypt. They even have been cases where bloggers of these countries have been detained and arrested because they were getting the word out, something the governments did not want.

In China, Google is different. The most famous example of this is what occurs when you put the words “Tiananmen Square” into Google Images. Google it anywhere in the world and you will see army soldiers and tanks and a person protesting the tanks. Put it in China, and Tiananmen Square is portrayed as a major tourist destination. No sign of anything close to a massacre ever occurring there.

Pakistan is another nation where internet censorship by the government occurs. A few years back Facebook was banned because of the content some random user posted. Youtube is currently blocked over some filmmaker posting some video. Government don’t like something someone posted on a website, whole website is banned.

They are many other examples too as around over 40 countries are believed to practice internet censorship to some extent or the other. And this is not just political messages only that are impacted. I know my earlier words may have given that impression. Social media and centres of knowledge get blocked too. Its like the government is saying, “I will control everything you should and shouldn’t know”. The world isn’t in a position that it will shut up and quietly listen to whatever propaganda is fed to them.

In my opinion, if something just has to be censored or blocked, it should be websites that promote hatred or self harm. Like for example websites that say, “Anorexia is cool and awesome and fashionable” or “Become a suicide bomber, blow yourself up in a busy shopping district, God will be so impressed that He will grant you heaven”. But then the question does arise, they do have every right to voice their opinions, like anyone else, don’t they? Yes, there is some content that needs to be regulated, but regulation is different than outright censorship. But regulation is a totally different matter, so I am not going to get into that over here.
I will end with a quote on Google, “A free and open world depends on a free and open Internet. Governments alone, working behind closed doors, should not direct its future. The billions of people around the globe who use the Internet should have a voice.”

If you still want to be able to enjoy the free and open internet that you have become accustomed to, sign the petition. Because this ongoing International Telecommunications Union conference is a threat to basic freedom of speech.  Instead of moving a step forward to create the free and open world and globalization, we will be moving a step backwards. Restricting the internet will also restrict globalization and possibly wash away some of the benefits globalization has achieved at the same time. We need a free and open world, raise your voice for one.