Friday, June 29, 2007

Milestones

I've settled my first car loan. All the documents need now is the stamp from the Road Transport Department.

Just last month, I lowered my credit card balance to more manageable levels (meaning, can be cleared with just one payment).

When one thinks about it, the passing of time is more tangible when money's involved.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

They Wanted Blood For This?

Everyone should be familiar with the food warning label, "May contain traces of nuts". When you're Hannibal Lecter, that takes on a whole new meaning.

Salman Rushdie got knighted.

The author of novels like Midnight's Children and Shalimar the Clown is, unfortunately, more known for that book with the inflammatory title, The Satanic Verses. Entire nations wanted him dead because of the perceived insults to Islam the book represents.

That clarion call has been repeated when word spread that Rushdie would soon join the ranks of other luminaries like Cliff Richard and Elton John. A price was put on his head (again). British ambassadors were called up (like children sent to the principal's) to "explain". There were brief episodes of effigy-burning and rage-filled calls for blood.

One of these firebrands is the Pakistani Religious Affairs Minister, who attacked the decision, adding that acts like these justified suicide bombings (a slip of the tongue he later retracted). What caught my attention, however, was what Iran's First Deputy Speaker had to say.

"The British monarch lives under this illusion that Britain is still a 19th Century superpower and that bestowing titles is something still deemed important."

It's mind-boggling that such wisdom can't pre-empt the anger over what he says is an illusion.

And the Muslim world's reaction gives Rushdie's knighthood the significance (and enormity) it does not deserve.

Monday, June 11, 2007

When Museums Make You Stupid

I rarely go to museums, generally because they are just so inaccessible, even during weekends. But when I do, I expect an education. So it's funny (at first) to have museums dedicated to wilful stupidity.

John Scalzi, the sci-fi writer who has a reputation for "taunting the tauntable", has been mercilessly egged on by his readers and colleagues to visit and write about the shrine to the Darwin-bashing ideology that emerged from the soul-searching that came about when Americans realised that not everybody loves them.

Among the revelations put forth by the institution are the fact that the earth is actually 6,000 years old, as opposed to the 4.5 billion I read about when I was a kid; there were no such things as "predators"; and that all animals were vegetarians until Adam and Eve were chased out of Eden.

And the fearsome tyrannosaurus rex once ate coconuts.

I'm staring to pity the once-fabled king of dinosaurs. First were the theories that it wasn't the super predator of the Cretaceous, but a plodding, over-sized reptilian vulture. Then they discovered that its descendant might be the lowly chicken. Now this. Talk about libelling the dead.

While I did have a good laugh over the Photoshopping done by Scalzi's readers, amusement soon gave way to rage. It's one thing to lobotomise yourself and replace that grey matter with the Scriptures. When you try to do that to other people (ostensibly, to "save" them from eternal damnation), it's another matter entirely.

Like it or hate it, the US has contributed a lot to our understanding of science and the world around us. When a community rejected the inclusion of Creationism in their schools (to Pat Robertson's chagrin), I cheered. Loudly. So it's quite a wrench for me to watch these self-righteous tripe-peddling loons take advantage of the freedom of speech to tell the world just how weird they are, and that their weirdness is truth.

Religion and politics is a dangerous mix, as we can see in the news. Religion and knowledge is only slightly less so. A line must be drawn in the sand between the two, and right now.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Don't Ever Count On Tomorrow

Tomorrow.

An oft-used invocation that would hopefully stay the hands of time and fate, and ensure that everything for the said appointment or deadline will be there the next day - or the day after - when you could be bothered to attend to it.

But as I realised, tomorrow is often unreliable, especially when you want it to be.

"You read my blog?!" ChiQ gasped. That was June 2005, after I had asked about the "rough patch" I'd read about in her BlogSpot blog. She looked shocked, even - happy, to learn that a reader, a total stranger, had cared enough to ask. Her round, cheerful face betrayed nothing.

That was the first and last time we met.

Because she walked out on Tomorrow - and on all of us.

Hey, guys. Take care, will you? Don't do anything stupid. I'd rather lose all of you to old age.