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Saturday, December 31, 2011

One Year Less


I have never liked celebrating my birthday. Birthdays only remind me that I am one year closer to dying.
Last December 28 was my birthday, and were it not for two old friends who actually made the trouble of going to my house to greet me personally, I would probably spend my birthday just like I did the year before (and the year before that): playing a video game.
As it was, the three of us drank and talked about old times.  
I’m glad they came; I actually enjoyed my birthday this year, which surprised me. 

I suspect I am turning into a grouchy old fart, though.
And I find I am content to be a grouchy old fart.
What the hell, I am disappointed and disillusioned with the world—and the world is disappointed and disillusioned with me.
Might as well live with that, and accept my grouchy old fart persona, even if I am not as old as this old fart:



This is probably my last post for 2011. Frankly, I didn’t think this blog would go past this year, given my talent for procrastination.

But then, I discovered that I truly enjoy blogging. Yet another thing that surprises me. I think we should always try to surprise ourselves. In a good way, of course.


For 2012, I’d try writing more about Philippine history; there are many things about this country’s history that are simply fascinating, and I don't think I even made a single post about the subject.
There, I am actually excited about the coming year! Will wonders never cease.

Anyway, have an exciting new year—and may our fuck-ups be small and unimportant.
 Also this:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Can We Be Good For Nothing?


So, in this season of hope, peace and good will, Catholic League president Bill Donahue has launched a campaign—“Adopt An Atheist,” is what it’s called.
Here’s what our campaign entails. We are asking everyone to contact the American Atheist affiliate in his area, letting them know of your interest in “adopting” one of them. All it takes is an e-mail. Let them know of your sincere interest in working with them to uncover their inner self. They may be resistant at first, but eventually they may come to understand that they were Christian all along.
If we hurry, these closeted Christians can celebrate Christmas like the rest of us. As an added bonus, they will no longer be looked upon as people who “believe in nothing, stand for nothing and are good for nothing.”
 
What he is doing is just perpetrating the bigotry that religious nuts like him have towards people who happen to not share his set of beliefs. 
Religion could be dangerous, as it is; combine it with ignorance and hate and the resulting mix is positively lethal.



I have often said that those people who sincerely believe that they are doing the will of God are a dangerous sort. 
 
You can’t fight them, can you? And why should you? They are doing the will of God; by their logic, disagreeing with them is disagreeing with God. And who the fuck are you to disagree with God?!

Let's take a moment and watch this:

And you wonder why there are very few self-admitted atheists, especially in this country. Here, politicians hold a press conference to announce that they are going to ask God if it’s His will to let them run for public office.
You gotta admire them, those politicians; afterwards, they can claim that they won because it is God’s Will. And woe to them that dare go against them. They have God on their side, that means God isn’t on the side of their political enemies, and if God isn’t on their enemies’ side, the devil must be dictating to them. See the beauty of it? That’s the Philippine politicians' version of the Divine Right Theory.
There was even a politician who was convicted of raping an eleven-year old girl; he was always photographed in prison with his rosary very prominent on his neck, and polishing a statue of Jesus’ mother. (Hey look, he’s religious, he loves Mama Mary. Must be innocent, the poor guy.)
Makes me ill just thinking about it.

Religion does not go anywhere without his little brother, Hypocrisy.

Atheists are one of the most hated, most misunderstood, minority—anywhere in the world. It is easier to be accepted as a gay person than it is to be accepted as an atheist.
People think that humanity needs God in order to be moral, and they think that without a belief in some sort of a deity, humans will descend into chaos and anarchy.
By that logic--since Filipinos always trumpet the fact that we are the only Christian nation in this part of the world, and that we, as a people, are deeply religious, and believe strongly in God--our jails must be rotting away, for lack of occupants. 

Are there many self-professed atheist inmates in Philippine jails? That is funny, though not exactly ha-ha funny. Inmates in Philippine jails are busy polishing the statue of Mama Mary, or accepting Jesus as their personal savior. 
Filipino inmates are very religious--and I am not being ironic.

It’s time we realize that we do not need religion to be moral, and that we can treat fellow human beings with kindness and compassion without the threat of being roasted in hell for eternity if we do not.
We can be good here, in this world; not because we would be rewarded for it in the next life, but because it is the right thing to do.
Go ahead.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Beware of Girls in Elevators

I know I am blogging about an incident that happened several months ago (June in fact), about a topic that is well past its shelf life, but see, I just read about it. And this one really irked me, and affected me enough it made me want to go visit my Shrieking Tree, i. e., this blog, to  rant and bluster, albeit in a somewhat wussy manner.
Here’s what happened (as Inspector Monk used to say): A woman was invited to speak at a skeptics’ conference held in a hotel in Dublin. Later, as she was in the elevator going up to her hotel room after the conference, a male attendee followed her to the elevator and invited her to his room for coffee. She rejected the offer, and that was that.  They both went their separate ways.
Should have invited my right hand instead

The woman then posted a video that mentioned her apparently creepy and harrowing experience.
After the video got posted, things in the skeptics’ and atheists’ blogosphere got interesting, which, as you may have surmised (you smart thing, you), I read about only today, to my everlasting regret. 

Anyway, the “elevatorgate” (as some bloggers refer to the incident) was in fact a non-event; it was an incident that’s been played out millions of times, an incident that will surely happen again.
Really, it was just a woman who thought that being propositioned in an elevator in a hotel in Dublin at 4 am is not appropriate, then somehow being interpreted by others as an assault on women in general. The man, we must remember, invited her to his hotel room for (gasp!) a cup of coffee. Yeah right—coffee. A rape coffee, she must’ve thought. 

Men, according to these people, have sex always on their minds, and approaching a woman is an indication of intent to rape. 
No matter that she rejected elevator guy and the poor sap didn’t even press on (guy just left, probably thinking that he needed better pickup lines), he was still considered as a (potential) rapist, foiled only by her dislike for coffee at 4 in the morning.
Which makes me wonder what the elevator guy looks like. Or if he even exists at all—nobody really stood up and admitted that he is the pathetic loser in the elevator.
I for one don't blame him


Everybody and his Granny blogged about it (except me, who is blogging about it only now). Then a prominent evolutionary biologist and atheist, Richard Dawkins, weighed in, and  posted a few comments on one of those blogs. Dr. Dawkins’ original post was in the form of a letter to a Muslim woman (comment #75):

Dear Muslima
Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and . . . yawn . . . don't tell me yet again, I know you aren't allowed to drive a car, and you can't leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you'll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.
Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep"chick", and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn't lay a finger on her, but even so . . .
And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.
Richard

Now that is pawning! But really, I think what Dr. Dawkins is pointing out here is perspective, with a hint of sarcasm.
And to make things more exciting, feminists of all shapes and sizes (as well as other “enlightened” males) got on the bandwagon and accused Dr. Dawkins of using all sorts of logical fallacy. They even referred to him as Dick (get it? Dick?!).
Sound logic, we must remember, is a big deal to atheists. 


But one blogger really got on my nerve when she said that “women are correct in assuming that ALL men are potential rapists.” 
Not true

Then, to make it even more surreal, commenters on her blog agreed with her, even the males (pussies).
This may be a surprise, but when we look at women we do not always think of introducing our juniors to them. 
Come on! We do not automatically think that we want to engage in a little game of pokin’ whiskers when we look at women. 
Sure we think that sometimes, but not all the time, and only in passing.

But with these women, one would think that all they think about is SEX. 
Did it ever occur to them that maybe elevator guy was just being kind to her?  

Just because we have a penis does not mean we want to bone all women we see. Women have mouths; do we accuse them of wanting to fellate us all the time?
Yeah, you wish.

The debate went on, with both sides (to be fair) making valid points. However, I’m with Dr. Dawkins on this one. 
And I'm not alone.
Dr. Dawkins on a bus

Rebecca Watson’s (the woman who refused elevator guy's "coffee") experience is trivial, but got turned into a big deal by over-zealous feminists and white-knighting assholes. It was just an incident of a woman claiming to have rejected a stranger's offer of a coffee that somehow became a feminist issue. An ill-timed and somehow a bit creepy gesture, perhaps, but he accepted the rejection, didn't he? He didn't threaten her, or even touched her.  
Who knows, maybe it was all just a misunderstanding.
Now Rebecca Watson is calling for atheists and skeptics to boycott Dr. Dawkins. Does she really wield that kind of power in the atheist community?

And all this because of a coffee invitation.


Also, the generalization that that female dog of a blogger (who shall remain unlinked) did? That really pisses me off big time.
Her generalization is idiotic and offensive, not to mention false.
All men are rapists? Seriously?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Legacy of Greed



Thankfully Iranian authorities acted just in time to put a stop to it, thus avoiding a repeat of the 1979 US embassy takeover in the same city.
Iranians don’t like westerners much, do they. 

One reason may be is that Westerners throughout history have this habit of exploiting countries around the world for their own gain. Not because their very survival hinges on the raping and pillaging of other countries (especially in Asia); they do this because of old-fashioned greed; or enterprise, as some westerners call it.

Oil in Iran (or Persia, as the country was then known) was discovered in 1908 by a British geologist named George Reynolds who was working for William D’Arcy. 
The enterprising D’Arcy had previously arranged an oil concession with Shah Mozzafar al-Din Shah Qajar in 1901. A few months after the discovery of oil, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) was formed, and the game was on.  AIOC became a virtual cash cow for the British; a “source of national pride.” The British believed that “Persian petroleum was actually and rightly British petroleum because it had been discovered by the British, developed by British capital, and exploited through British skill and British ingenuity."
As for the Iranians, well, one would think that the discovery of ginormous amounts of oil in their country would make them wealthy, but tragically it didn’t.
Iran did try a few years later to renegotiate the concession with the British; unfortunately, Iran did not have the services of Daniel Webster.
In 1951, Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, who thought that the concession granted to AIOC was both “immoral and illegal,” became Prime Minister of Iran. Mossadegh then proceeded to nationalize AIOC, with the full backing of the Iranian Parliament. The move was enormously popular, as it was believed that income from oil could be used to eradicate Iran’s crippling poverty. 
Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh: also famous for pissing off the wrong people

In England, the move caused a great many teacups to rattle. The British went to their cousins across the Atlantic and together they hatched a plan to take back their “national pride,” and in the process remove the democratically-elected Mossadegh. 
Yes indeedy—the 50’s was a great era.

The coup was codenamed Operation Ajax. It was launched in 1953.

With MI6 and CIA in tandem, a pro-western monarchy was installed. An erstwhile constitutional monarchy was transformed into an authoritarian one. Mohammad-Rezā Pahlavi was now King (Shah), with all that title implies; albeit a king with an unholy alliance with the US and UK. 
I'd like to thank the MI6 and the CIA...

It was a successful coup for the British and the Americans. They took back the AIOC, and shares in the consortium were distributed among American and British firms and other countries who contributed to the success of Operation Ajax. 

Hey, to the victors belong the spoils, right?

Any person not blinded by greed (or “enterprise”) could have foreseen that this arrangement would not have lasted long without repercussions. 
In 1979, the inevitable happened. 
A revolution 25 years in the making exploded. The US Embassy in Tehran was occupied, with the embassy personnel held hostage for 444 days. The monarchy was deposed and Ayatollah Khomeini was installed. 
"America is the great Satan, the wounded snake."-Ayatollah Khomeini


As we can gather from the quote above, the Ayatollah was not exactly friendly towards the Americans and the British. 
The AIOC, and the subsequent coup, may have helped the British and the Americans control Iranian oil for a period of time, but they have also earned the eternal enmity of the Iranian people.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Why Smile When You Can Scowl


Somebody once said that us Filipinos’ default setting is a smile. I agree.
I actually have several friends whose instinctive response to being surprised is to smile. I don’t really know how that would work, like for example if one is surprised in a dark alley by a mugger. Could one smile one’s way out of that? I don’t think so. 

But smile when surprised they do; I’ve seen them do that hundreds of times. I—whose settings range from inscrutable (like a Shaolin monk in a kung fu movie who's just a suit away from being Superman) to downright scowling at no one in particular—am always surprised and mystified every time I see them smile at a stranger who approaches them for any particular reason.  

Stranger: Excuse me sir [we are also polite; we call everybody sir— or ma’am, as the case may be], what time is it?
Friend: (Smiling as if Scarlett Johansson had offered to have sex with him) Six po.
 
Why would they do that, why would they smile at total strangers? Strangers can do a lot of nasty things to you, didn’t they know that? You’d think we live in a world where the characters are from Disney movies, and the bad guys were somehow left out. 

The world is an unfriendly place, people! 
Just look at these two!
Take those people who use commuter trains. They’d crowd the train doors so that those who are trying to get off would have to fight his or her way out of the train. You have to push and shove and make like a fullback charging the goal line.
I don’t think those people standing in front of train doors will part and make way for you if you smile at them. You’d just look stupid. 
And you’re lucky if you manage to get off the train with your wallet or your cell phone still in your possession. Commuter trains are haven for thieves. Also, ask the women who regularly ride these trains about their experiences here, and they’d most probably have very low opinions of their male co-passengers. 

I can think of a thousand reasons for us Pinoys to be angry about, to be scared of, to worry, and other concerns where smiling is not appropriate.  Yet we still manage to always smile, even after a devastating typhoon; heck, we don’t need a reason to smile.
Fuck you, reason to smile! We don’t need you. 
We really don't, do you hear me, huh? HUH?
That, or our reason to smile is different from the rest of the world’s.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Skyrimin'


Yes, I have a beef with November; then again, this November is a great month for PC gamers. Just look at this month’s releases: Modern Warfare 3, from the franchise that has left many wives and girlfriends doubting the wisdom of having a relationship with a gamer; and Skyrim. I needn’t go beyond Skyrim.
The Elders Scrolls V: Skyrim (to give the game its full name) is as immersive as any video game can get. It has a vast, complex game world, numerous quests, and in-game details that can turn a gamer into an obsessive-compulsive asshole.  Yes, pretty standard for an RPG, but this game compels you to actually finish it.

I’ve played Bethesda’s Morrowind and Oblivion (both in the Elder Scrolls universe), but those games quickly turn into a bore-fest, at least for me. The time I played Morrowind, I followed the storyline for awhile, did a few side quests, and when I realized that I am not getting paid to do this mind-numbing chore (I already have my job for that), I quit the game faster than Kim Kardashian quit her "marriage."  The same pattern happened when I played Oblivion.
I usually avoid games that are described as open ended, a game description that reminds me of all those hours I will never get back playing those Bethesda games. But when it comes to games, I am a forgiving sort; and this flaw in my character led me to play Bethesda’s Fallout: New Vegas last year.
I stopped playing it when I began to question what my priorities were in life. You’d think that too when you find yourself wandering around yet another vault/cave for hours, with nothing happening, because you got lost (again!)  and can’t find the exit. 
Although to be fair to the Fallout franchise, I’ve played and finished Fallout 3, some years ago.
But Skyrim has a game world that practically begs to be explored, and with an engaging storyline to boot. Plus, I didn’t get lost! At least not for very long. This makes me optimistic that I might actually finish an Elder Scrolls game. 
And talk to more dragons!
The game is not without bugs and glitches, of course. For example, in a quest (A Cornered Rat) where you have to find Esbern to talk to him to advance the storyline, the player will find himself standing in front of a room with a door that refuses to open, preventing the player from completing the quest. An annoying bug, but a workaround is available here.
Also, if you are the sort of gamer who has no qualms about using cheats, the good folks at Bethesda have thoughtfully provided cheat codes.  
You don’t have to use Cheat Engine, like a certain gamer I know who used it to increase money and ability points in games like Rage, NBA 2k12 and many others. Cheating bastard.
Skyrim plays at a steady 60 frames per second, whether you turn off V-Sync or not, with settings at Ultra High--I play on a rig with a Core i5 750 processor, 4GB Ripjaw RAM, Nvidia GTX 460 (1GB), Asus P7 P55D mobo, and powered by Corsair 650 watts; my monitor has a 1600x900 resolution. Pretty average, for a weekend gamer like me. 

And with Skyrim, I will be dead to the world again this coming weekend.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Having a Phantasmagorical Day

I read about one Tommy Beard, aka Tommy the Leprechaun through Neil Gaiman’s blog. It’s kind of fitting that I should learn about him from Neil Gaiman, as Tommy sounds like a character from one of Neil Gaiman’s works of fiction.
An excerpt from the Tommy the Leprechaun article in Missoulian.com


Sunday, June 14, 2003
Missoula fixture Tommy the Leprechaun dies
By ROB CHANEY of the Missoulian

http://web.archive.org/web/20050204132319im_/http:/www.missoulian.com/art/pixel.gif

The man known as Tommy the Leprechaun died Friday at his home in Hillside Manor in Missoula.

Tommy, whose real name was Terry Beard, was 53.



For more than a decade, he was a regular fixture of Missoula's downtown streets. In a big green hat and black boots, he'd greet people with riddles, balloon animals and occasional magic tricks. When the sidewalks were sparse, he'd sit with a battered guitar and belt out "If I Had a Hammer" or other folk songs, strumming with a thumbless right hand. He'd hand out business cards good for one free wish, and command his surprised audiences to have a "phantasmagorical" day.

"I don't know if I can tell my bartender about it - she'll bust out crying," said Jane Bergman at the Oxford Bar in downtown Missoula "Tommy was pretty much a fixture here."

The Leprechaun said someone at the Oxford made him his green suit, which he last wore as grand marshal of the St. Patrick's Day Parade this March. Kirsten Holm at Hillside Manor said she was hoping the Oxford might like to have it and a memory box of Tommyabilia the staff had gathered.

The Leprechaun picked up odd jobs like window washing, street sweeping and other tasks to make money, and he typically refused donations in return for the balloon creations he made for people.

For the past year, he had been suffering from emphysema brought on by a three-pack-a-day cigarette habit. His mother, Bonnie Winkle, said he planned to donate his body to science.

"He got such a big charge out of making balloons and telling kids they got a wish from a leprechaun," Winkle recalled in a phone interview from Sun City, Ariz. "He did entertainment. He was in the plays and everything. He was never stationary very long."

You can read the rest of the article here.
 What a character.

So he greets people with "Have a phantasmagorical day"?
I wonder what that's like, to have a day like that.
One of these days, I'm gonna try to have one.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It Always Rains In November


I don’t get that some bloggers (and I guess writers in general) can write about their innermost thoughts and intimate details about their personal lives (and knowing those would be read by faceless strangers) like it was the most natural thing in the world.  Somehow I find the idea too intrusive, and a little self-indulgent.  There are things about ourselves that we simply can’t share with others. In my case, a great many things.
For years, I can’t even talk about my son who died at just two months old. I kept my feelings bottled up. When somebody asks me about it, I just shrug and say, well that’s just the way it is, and promptly change the subject.  
Seven years after Jedidiah (that was his name) died, I woke up one morning sobbing and bawling; I was crying my goddamn eyes out for a son that died many years ago. It wasn’t as if I dreamed about him, or that his “spirit” visited me or any of that nonsense; I just opened my eyes this one morning and bam! Wept and cried like King David grieving for Absalom.  
It was cathartic.

Jed died in the hospital. He had been there for several days. The night he died, I was with him while his mother went out to buy medicine that the doctor had prescribed, but which was not available at the hospital. The doctor had told us that the child was in a serious condition, so we knew

I kept talking to Jed as he lay there, telling him stories I read when I was a kid, telling him that his grandma and grandpa would take him to Disneyland, talking to him about anything. He just kept staring at me, and I could have sworn that he understood. I knew somehow he understood: that I was so fucking scared I was shivering, scared that he would not get to see his first birthday, scared that he would not get to meet my father and mother. And his eyes seemed to be saying, Sorry Dad, but that’s just the way it is.
Goddamn it. 

I was talking to him for what must have been nearly an hour when I noticed that his eyes had lost focus. I stood up from the bed, and called for the doctors and nurses. They came promptly and tried to revive Jed. They did this for about thirty minutes. By this time I couldn’t see anything.
They finally gave up. There was this one female nurse however that didn’t stop and kept on trying until finally she too stopped. I went to my son’s side. They left me there for some time. Later they came back and told me sorry but they had to take him away.  
His mother arrived with the medicine. She came into the room. The doctor was there and I was signing some papers. I still remember the look on her face when she saw the empty bed.
We looked at each other. She sat beside me and I put my arms around her. She wept silently.

It was November 6.
Years later, on November 19, 2006, my father died.
I am tempted to say, go fuck yourself, November, but that wouldn’t make any sense.  All the same, I can’t wait for this month to be over.
It’s the rains; I hate the rains of November.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Body Politic

The Philippine political scene is a mess. 
Crazy, dirty, skanky, embarrassing, corrupt politicians lord it over a people who couldn’t care less, except those very few who have access to the internet—those very few who show their concern by assiduously posting their inane and idiotic observations about their inane and idiotic politicians on any website that has a comments section.
 And the politicians are actors/famous athletes/famous for whatever reasons--and their spouses and relatives and their spawns, legitimate or not. 
…and let’s not forget the political clans. No self-respecting village, town, city, province or entire island/region is without a clan to rule over them—the Philippines’ own version of royalty, plus their rival clans.
Yes, they have rival clans. They make every elections very exciting, especially in the provinces. 
(Note: image is from here)

The current President—who incidentally is from such a clan—is a former senator who got elected to the top position despite a career in Congress (both Houses!) that is as impressive as the dunking prowess of John Stockton.  
Pictured: John Stockton not dunking

He is busy going after his immediate predecessor, whom he blames for the current hellhole the country is in. His predecessor had also blamed her predecessor, and her predecessor, in turn, blamed his…well, you probably know where this is going.
Politicians in the Philippines have mastered the art of the blame game. 
Here, the buck never stops.

To be fair, politics in most countries is the same. (Oddly comforting in a "hey-its-not-just-us kind of way) Just look at US politics.

Donald Trump is accusing Jon Stewart of being racist, which is pretty ironic.

Meanwhile, Ann Coulter, whose political clout is as puzzling and unfathomable to me as Kim Kardashian’s fame, is saying that “Our blacks are so much better than their blacks.” (she was comparing blacks from the Republican Party with blacks from the Democratic Party)

This strikes me as incredibly condescending, and very, very wrong.  
A WTF?! moment, to be sure.
Add to that Michelle Bachmann, who famously defended carbon dioxide (''Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn't even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.'').
 And Sarah Palin’s Department of Law ("I think on a national level your Department of Law there in the White House would look at some of the things that we've been charged with and automatically throw them out.")
That just goes to show you, politics attracts the wrong kind of people.
Or maybe the right one.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Death of a Strongman


I am not a fan of Gadhafi. All I know is that he was one of the world’s “insane” dictators, as portrayed by, well, almost everybody, what with his all- female virgin bodyguards and outlandish lifestyle and wardrobe. Not to mention the fact that he coddled terrorists.

But the way he was killed is soul-shakingly, disturbingly savage . That scene reminds one of wild animals feasting on a prey. 
But the animals are killing for food, because they had to eat
What's these people’s excuse?

The man was already helpless, wounded, bleeding, and being dragged on the ground.
And they fell on him, like in that Shirley Jackson story.

You can read more about his killing here.
Granted, the man did worse things to his subjects;  he certainly inspired such a monumental outrage and hatred on his fellow Libyans.
But still
Viewing that video leaves me shaken up.
People are scary enough as they are; put them in a mob, and they become the stuff of nightmares.
We are all just a few steps away from obeying that primitive, savage reptile at the back of our brains.
That's what really troubles me most.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Revenge of the Mongols


Khwarezmia was a bustling Islamic empire during the 1200’s when it made the terrible mistake of pissing off Genghis Khan. 

Then ruled by Shah Ala ad-Din Muhammad, Khwarezmia was a huge, sprawling empire that encompassed the lands of Greater Iran. The Shah had at this time just extended the empire’s borders, and was involved in a pissing c0ntest of a sort with the Caliph of Baghdad.
Many historians agree that the Mongolians originally had no intention of obliterating the empire, but were only interested in trade and even saw a potential alliance with the Shah. After all, the Empire was the Mongolians’ first contact with the Islamic Middle East.
In fact, Genghis Khan sent his messengers to the empire with a message that basically acknowledges the Shah’s authority: “You rule the rising sun and I rule the setting sun,” which is like having the biggest, meanest bully in the schoolyard ask you politely if it’s all right to, you know, hang out with you.
So how did the Khwarezmians respond, did they slaughter a few thousand sheep, offer their daughters to the Great Khan's messengers, and compose a few songs to welcome the ambassadors and celebrate their alliance?  
Well, not exactly. In one of history’s most stupidest displays of assholery, the governor of the Khwarezmian city of Otrar had the Khan’s messengers arrested, their caravan seized, and all the merchants, save one, killed.
Genghis Khan, refusing to believe at first the breathtaking chutzpa that these people displayed, sent another group of envoys; this time to the big boss himself, Shah Ala ad-Din. Perhaps to ask, “Did you just kill off my homies? What’s up with that?”
Or words to that effect.
To which the Shah responded by shaving the heads of the messengers, and cutting off the head of the interpreter.
That finally convinced Genghis Khan that this Ala ad-Din fellow did not really want to hang out with him.
Genghis Khan, with a force of 200,000 men led by some of the greatest generals that ever lived, went after him, in the process launching the Great Khan’s invasion of CentralAsia.
He then proceeded to give the Khwarezmid Empire a beating so brutal the world would not see anything like it until the 20th century. The annihilation was so complete, the destruction so absolute, that this campaign essentially earned the Mongols’ reputation for bloodthirstiness and savagery in battle.  
 “O would that my mother had never borne me, that I had died before and that I were forgotten [so] tremendous disaster such as had never happened before, and which struck all the world, though the Muslims above all . . . Dadjdjal [Muslim Anti-Christ] will at least spare those who adhere to him, and will only destroy his adversaries. These [Mongols], however, spared none. They killed women, men, children, ripped open the bodies of the pregnant and slaughtered the unborn…”  
The Mongols overwhelmed the Shah’s army, destroying Bukhara, Samarkand, and the Khwarezmid capital of Gurganj.  They captured the Governor of Otrar alive, and according to one legend, poured molten silver into his eyes and mouth.
The Shah himself eventually fled to an island in the Caspian Sea and died there shortly after, a broken man. Perhaps thinking, over and over, “I could have just acted like a good neighbor, you know? But nooo...”
The Mongols destroyed an army five times their size, and did their best to wipe the empire off the map. Four million of the empire’s inhabitants were slaughtered. 
Payback really is a bitch.
The Mongol armies, as a result of this campaign, cleared a path to Europe. As for the rest of the Islamic world—Iraq, Turkey, and Syria, all three were eventually conquered by future khans. 
Genghis Khan prided himself in being known as the “punishment from God.”
But which god is anybody’s guess.

Friday, October 7, 2011

One More Thing...

iSad Day.
What else is there to be said of the man who revolutionized personal computing? A remarkable man, a remarkable life.
Here are my favorite quotes from Steve Jobs:
“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.”

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
 
"No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true."

"We're here to put a dent on the universe. Otherwise why would we be here?"




A Zen Buddhist, Steve Jobs had a close relationship with a Japanese Zen Master, Kobun Chino Otogawa, who also presided over his wedding. Otogawa was also appointed as Apple's corporate spiritual adviser.
Steve Jobs' and Otogawa's relationship is reportedly the subject of a graphic novel, to be published by Forbes.
The book is titled “The Zen of Steve Jobs."
1955-2011

One more thing...


Thanks.

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