Friday, 26 February, 2010
Thursday, 25 February, 2010
Wednesday, 24 February, 2010
Tuesday, 23 February, 2010
Monday, 22 February, 2010
Friday, 19 February, 2010
Thursday, 18 February, 2010
Wednesday, 17 February, 2010
In the 1960s, Sri Lanka was held up as a model for economic development. In the 1980s, private enterprise was absent from Red China. The Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie were as real and recent as South Africa's apartheid regime.
Sunday, 14 February, 2010
Friday, 12 February, 2010
Many Chinese pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to geomancers to help them divine what the New Year has in store. In case of bad omens, various elements are combined in creative ways to ward off evil.
Strict orthodox Muslims consider participation in any such festivities as sacrilegious. I find the lives of such Muslims quite sad; in Dubai I met several families who banned their kids from celebrating birthdays. They believe that only religious festivals are worthy of celebration.
Well, you won’t find me outdoors burning offerings to my ancestors but I do enjoy the holiday and festive cheer. I find nothing un-Islamic about families getting together and enjoying a traditional meal (pork anyone?) around a dinner table. In a sense, it’s the Chinese version of Islam’s Eid.
I digress. What I want to write about is the Year of the Tiger. The Chinese use the lunar calendar. They cycle of twelve animal signs follow each other with the advent of a new lunar year.
The rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig are the twelve animal signs. Every animal has particular characteristics and people born in a specific year are believed to take on these characteristics. For those curious, I was born in the Year of the (fire) Horse.
The Tiger is the third sign in the Chinese Zodiac cycle. The Tiger is a sign of bravery. Tigers are physically powerful, gracious, independent and brave animals. While they are friendly and loving, tigers can also be selfish and short tempered.
Apparently, the Tiger Year will be a tumultuous year. Confusion and change can be exciting so enjoy the journey. Let’s see what we are up to at the end of the year!
Please accept my best wishes for a Happy Chinese New Year! May it be a year full of health, wealth and happiness.
Thursday, 11 February, 2010
The United States military is fighting two distant wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is prepared for further conflicts in places like the Korean peninsula or Iran. A new battle pertaining to homosexuality within the military's ranks has been brewing recently.
After almost two decades of 'don't ask, don't tell' policy, the top ranking military officer suggested it was time to let gays out of the closet.
"No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens ... [it is my personal belief that] allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do."
Admiral Mike Mullen (Chairman, US Joint Chiefs of Staff)
In the enlistment of gays at least, the Taliban is more 'progressive' than the US. Given the predominantly Pashtun nature of the Taliban insurgency, there is no doubt that gay soldiers serve the Taliban openly!
While it may not be noticeable in television clips of US and Taliban forces engaged in battle, the Pashtun male is almost a human version of the peacock. He loves colour and flutters his feathers about announcing that he is the most gorgeous specimen on the planet.
Like their supposed Greek ancestors, the Pathan male appreciates beauty. Make up on Pashtun women may be frowned upon but mascara and hair colouring are acceptable for men. Social restrictions dictate that female beauty is kept under wraps (burqa), literally. Perhaps to compensate, Pathans have learnt to welcome the beauty of other males.
Always on the ball, the US intelligence community has confirmed that many Pathans 'swing both ways.' As one Afghan put it, they don't mind "mixing green tea with black tea."
For some reason, the US military seems to be surprised by the findings of the study conducted by the Human Terrain Team, a military research unit. The study concluded that "Pashtun men commonly have sex with other men, admire other men physically, have sexual relationships with boys and shun women both socially and sexually -- yet they completely reject the label of homosexual."
To most Pakistanis, the research raises questions about the US understanding of the culture of a nation where they have been fighting a war for 'hearts and minds' for approximately nine years. The Pathan 'fondness' for men (and boys) is a well known cultural oddity.
There is a reason why the famous Peshawari chapals (sandals) are open and without shoelaces. There is never a need to tie shoe laces. People joke that it's best not to attract attention by bending over and sticking out your rear while tying those pesky shoelaces!
As the US prepares to deploy an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, one wonders whether there have been any special requests by gay soldiers wishing to deploy to Afghanistan. American GI's have a history of marrying and bringing home foreign brides during its various military engagements. Despite the acceptance of gay marriages by many US states, I somehow doubt Afghan spouses will become a more common sight on US military bases.
Women may not have much to look forward to if the Taliban took over large swathes of the Islamic world. However, male homosexuals might feel differently under a Taliban regime.
Wednesday, 10 February, 2010
Tuesday, 9 February, 2010
Monday, 8 February, 2010
Friday, 5 February, 2010
"The debate over the primacy of content is over ... Content is not just king ... it is the emperor of all things electronic ... But this [iPads, readers, etc.] clever technology is merely an empty vessel without any great content. Without content, the ever larger and flatter screens, the tablets, the e-readers and the increasingly sophisticated mobile phones would be lifeless."Rupert Murdoch - Chairman and CEO News Corp.