Wednesday, December 31, 2008

10 songs that helped me survive 2008... in no particular order:

1) "This is the life" by Amy MacDonald

And you're singing the songs
Thinking this is the life
And you wake up in the morning and your head feels twice the size
Where you gonna go? Where you gonna go?
Where you gonna sleep tonight?

2) "I really want you" by James Blunt

I really want you to really want me, but I really don't know if you can do that.
I know you want to know what's right but I know it's so hard for you to do that.
And time's running out as often it does, and often dictates that you can't do that.
But fate can't break this feeling inside that's burning up through my veins.
I really want you. I really want you.
I really want you - now.

No matter what I say or do, the message isn't getting through,
And you're listening to the sound of my breaking heart.

3) "Disintegration" by Jimmy Eat World

Wonder why I'm so caught of guard when we kiss.
Rather live my life in regret than do this.
What happened to the love we both knew?
We both chased.
Hanging on a cigarette you need me,
You burn me, you'll burn me.

4) "No Air" by Jordan Sparks ft. Chris Brown

So how do you expect me
To live alone with just me
Cause my world revolves around you
It's so hard for me to breathe

Tell me how I'm supposed to breathe with no air
Can't live, can't breathe with no air
That's how I feel whenever you ain't there
There's no air, no air

5) "Run" by Leona Lewis

I'll sing it one last time for you
Then we really have to go
You've been the only thing that's right
In all I've done
And I can barely look at you
But every single time I do
I know we'll make it anywhere
Away from here

6) "Objects in the Rear View Mirror" by Meat Loaf

She used her body just like a bandage
She used my body just like a wound
I'll probably never know where she disappeared
But I can see her rising up out of the back seat now

And objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are
And objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are

7) "Who's to Say" by Vanessa Carlton

And who's to say we won't burn it out?
And who's to say we won't sink in doubt?
Who's to say that we won't fade to gray?
Who are they anyway? Anyway they don't know

And you say we're too young, but maybe you're too old to remember
And I try to pretend but I just feel it when we're together
And if you don't believe me, you never really knew us
You never really knew

8) "Sober" by Pink

I don't wanna be the girl who has to fill the silence
The quiet scares me 'cause it screams the truth
Please don't tell me that we had that conversation
I won't remember, save your breath, 'cos what's the use?

9) "Love Story" by Taylor Swift

Romeo save me, they try to tell me how to feel
This love is difficult, but it's real, Don't be afraid
We'll make it out of this mess
It's a love story, baby just say yes

10) "The Freshmen" by Verve Pipe

For the life of me I cannot remember
What made us think that we were wise and
We'd never compromise
For the life of me i cannot believe
We'd ever die for these sins
We were merely freshman

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Lost Prophet
by M. Awais Aftab

I stand not-so-steadfast on my deck
And gaze at the horizon far away
The swirling inky clouds painted with gloom
And no sign of the emergence of day
The ship rocks on stormy waves
Forever uncertain of her fate
My crew looks with inquiring eyes
How long more will they have to wait?
Ah! Curse the day we left those shores
And began our journey for the promised land
Tormented and persecuted we were
But still had an abode on the sand
Now we drift aloof
Lost in the turbulent sea
The purpose, wrecked, forgotten, dead
And nothing to drink but bitter salty agony

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Here are some selected top ten searches that were conducted on Google in 2008:

What is...

Amidst the economic crisis and terrorist bombings, the world is still asking, "what is love?"

1. what is love
2. what is life
3. what is java
4. what is sap
5. what is rss
6. what is scientology
7. what is autism
8. what is lupus
9. what is 3g
10. what is art

Who is...

Apparently a lot of people have been watching the presidential drama and thinking, "who are these guys?"

1. who is obama
2. who is mccain
3. who is palin
4. who is lil wayne
5. who is miley cyrus
6. who is dolla
7. who is jonas brothers
8. who is chris brown
9. who is biden
10. who is martin luther

How to...

And its 8 years into the 21st century, but the world still needs to learn a lot...

1. how to draw
2. how to kiss
3. how to write
4. how to cook
5. how to tie
6. how to hack
7. how to run
8. how to cite
9. how to paint
10. how to spell

See Google Zeitgeist for more info.
A lot of bloggers and their readers are facing the problem that the blogs they open show the old posts and do not show the updates made recently. This is due to the browser cache not refreshing itself. The problem usually goes away by itself in a day or too, but is highly recurrent. And dial-up users are affected more than broadband users. The solution to this, however, is very simple. You have to refresh the browser's cache.
To do so open the blog/website which is showing you the outdated content. Press and hold [Ctrl] on your keyboard, then Press [F5] or click on the Refresh button. This will refresh the cache of that particular page and show you the updated content.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

X: How can you determine the philosophical temperament of medical students?
Y: Ask them to define life.

Most people have a distinct notion of "living" and "non-living", the two being separated by a wide chasm, a binary situation of 0 or 1. Furthermore, under the influence of the representational view of language, they think of "Life" as a noun representing some sort of an entity, which makes the living living. However, both of these notions turn out to inadequate, if we consider life at the molecular level, and take into account the non-representational view of language (such as that given by Wittgenstein). Let us consider this issue in a semi-Socratic fashion.

At the level of multicellular organisms, it is easier to determine what is living: there is a set of chracteristics like nutrition, growth, metabolism, homeostasis, adaptation, reproduction, locomotion, which an organism exhibits. If we go one step lower to unicellular organisms, many of these characteristics vanish: for instance, there is no nervous system, so all sorts of cognitive functions are ruled out. There is no circulatory system, only a movement of cytoplasm within the cell. Nutrition, gaseous exchange and excretion merge into one pathway. However, since most of the characteristics are still present in some manner, therefore a unicellular organism is declared living. Let's go a step even lower: consider viruses. These have a very simple structure, consisting of only protein and nucleic acid. They show almost none of the characteristics we see in multicellular organisms, except that they can reproduce (make copies of themselves) and can show adaptation (through genetic variation). There is no metabolism of any sort. When asked the question "Is virus living?" most people show only a slight hesitancy before declaring that virus is living because it can reproduce. Let's go down further: consider prions. These are infectious particles consisting of proteins only, and yet they can reproduce. When asked "Are prions living?" most people would say no. They give two reasons for this: 1) prions make copies of themselves, yes, but they do so through indirect means 2) prions don't have nucleic acid. The first reason is somewhat invalid, because viruses too replicate through an indirect means. If we accept reason no 2, it implies that it is nucleic acid what makes an organism "living". But a nucleic acid by itself is not living; it is just a molecule. So, if nucleic acid is non-living, and proteins are non-living, then how does the combination of a nucleic acid and protein become living, since nothing extra has been added? I am yet to hear a satisfactory answer to this question. [Don't even begin to think that viruses have a "soul" which makes them living. It is too absurd. And besides, we can create viruses artifically in the lab. So that means we can create "soul" too? Oh, here is another point. If we accept that viruses are "living", then it would mean that we can create "life", because we can create viruses artificially. J Craig Venter has already created the first synthetic bacterial genome. How far are we from creating the first synthetic bacterium?]

So, what am i trying to say by all this? My point is that "living" is just a description of characteristics that was applied to multicellular organisms. As microscopic organisms were discovered, this description became less and less valid, until arriving at the virus and prions, the description becomes meaningless; the word "living" becomes meaningless. The question "Is virus living?" is meaningless because it is trying to apply a description which was meant for a multicellular level at the molecular level. There is no well-defined distinction between "living" and "non-living" at the molecular; rather we see a gradual progression of accumulation of characteristics associated with multicellular organisms, with no distinct point being labelled 'life begins here'.

Similarly "Life" is just a word, an abstract noun; it's meaning is defined by its usage (non-representation linguistics). There is no metaphysical entity of any sort that it represents. Beyond linguistics, there is no such entity, of whatever ontological nature, as 'life'.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Becoming conscious of my increasing use of the words 'like' and 'you know' in conversations, i recalled a hilarious article "Like, I Mean, You Know, Right?" by Roderick Nordell. I'll share a few lines from it:

'If only everyone talked the way we do in my household. I mean… if only everyone… like… talked… you know… the way we do… right? It would be so much… like… easier to… you know… understand… right?

Obviously it is deplorable that these words have taken over the language. But this doesn't mean we should wait forever to recognize them. No, we must face facts and put them in our books:

"Friends, Romans, countrymen... lend me your ears... I mean... I come to bury Caeser... right?... not to... you know... praise him."

Anyone, of course, is welcome to disagree. I mean, like, you know, right?'

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

All angry, young men who are seeking an ideology for socio-political change, i would advise them to mindful of all philosophies which incorporate these two elements:

1. A utopian vision of a perfect society: There are no perfect solutions to our socio-political problems. Followers of any ideology which claims to present one are either myopic or ignorant of the implications of their own views. We do not have all-encompassing panaceas for the ills of our world. The fault lies, perhaps, within us. Humans are not perfect and neither are societies.

2. Statements of this sort: "People will suffer/die, but it will be a sacrifice for the higher good." It is my opinion that any ideology that makes its followers believe in such a thing contains distinct elements of fundamentalism, and is likely to cause more harm than good.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

This could probably get me killed, but i am drooling over the idea of buying this shirt and going to my college wearing it!

*The shirt is available for sale at
How would you react if you went to a clinic for check-up and the doctor said: "Now i am going to perform the Dick test on you!" *imaginary evil grin*

Relax. It's just a skin test to check whether a person is immune to Scarlet fever or not :)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A little before midnight i was taking a walk near my house; it was a lonely path and i was the only one. Lights were out, so it was all dark. Suddenly, out of nowhere, i could feel the distinct smell of a woman's perfume. It was so real, i turned and looked around to see if anyone else was walking there. But there was no one. So, i tried to shake it off and continued walking, but the smell persisted. It could have been a flower, but i walk there every night and have never sensed it before. I kept looking around trying to locate its source. Finally after five minutes, i was so spooked out that i went back home!

And i don't even believe in ghosts!

Friday, December 19, 2008

"Because today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups... So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind."

Philip K. Dick, How To Build A Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later

How much of our world view is correct? How do we know what is true? Much of what we know about what is happening in the world comes to us through media. And it is not just one view that we are exposed to; we are, in fact, bombarded by a plethora of views related to an event. And we tend to accept the view which fits in with our existing world view. An event happens, but it means different things to different people. There are so many conspiracy theories circulating around, about who did it and why, all based on shreds of unsatisfactory evidence, driven by 'the will to believe'. In the war against terror, truth seems to be the biggest casualty. Media has the power of creating 'realities' of it's own; it can make people believe in things it wants to. Islamic terrorism, American exploitation, ISI-planned blasts, RAW-planned blasts, they are all world views being presented to us. How do we know which is right? Is there a way out of out?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

'With nods to masters of horror Romero, Raimi, and Hooper, first time filmmaker Omar Ali Khan pays a giddy and gory homage to the genre, splattering Lollywood with more than just arterial spray.'

A Pakistani movie will be shown at Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) on 5th December! No, it's not Khuda Ke Liye, it's not Ram Chand Pakistani... it's of a totally different league, a horror movie, Hell’s Ground (aka Zibahkhana) by the director Omar Ali Khan. It isn't exactly a portrayal of the so-called 'soft image' of Pakistan, but something positive and gory nevertheless. Thumbs up to Omar Ali Khan!

For details:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"If you had asked my grandmother whether she is oppressed, she probably wouldn't have understood what you are talking about; that's life. If you'd asked my mother, you'd have found that she resented it, but accepted it, as life. If you'd ask my daughters, they'd tell you to get lost. That reflects hard-won victories for freedom."

Noam Chomsky

The first step towards freedom is being conscious of being in captivity...
BROOKE: (Crying) Lucas broke up with me.
PEYTON: I’m sorry.
BROOKE: (Crying) I was looking forward to getting a chance to show him how much he means to me and he said he just wants to be friends. And every idiot knows that that’s just code for go away. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.
PEYTON: Look if Lucas said he wants to be friends, I’m sure he means it.
BROOKE: How do you do that with Lucas?
(Peyton looks to Haley)
HALEY: You just sort of do everything that you’ve been doing without the sex part.

One Tree Hill, Episode 1.15

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Has anyone noticed how tooth brushes tend to come in 'male' and 'female' styles?
*Photo taken by me
George: Is it you think, to love two the same time?
Burke: I, uh...I'm still hoping it's possible just to love one person.

Grey's Anatomy, Episode 3.23

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Despite possessing a lot of modern, liberal and radical ideas, most young people of our society are unable to bring a significant change in their own lives. It seems to me that economic dependence is one of the key factors behind it. Our youth depends too much on their parents for support, even up to the age of mid-twenties. There are no adequate job opportunities for the youth, jobs that would pay enough for a person to live on his own. Hence, they are forced to depend on their parents. With economic dependence comes social dependence: young people are forced to live within the limits of the lifestyle approved by their parents. And by the time they begin to earn enough, it is too late. For girls, the situation is even more constrained because while they are studying they are dependent on their parents, and after that they are hurriedly married off (too much economic burden for the parents?), and then they become dependent on their in-laws, and have to adapt to their lifestyle, regardless of what their own views are in the matter. The situation is lamentable, but hey, what can i do... i am dependent like everyone else. This society needs economic stability before we can expect any social change to come.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I could have died last night.

I forgot to close the gas switch of my room, as i turned off my heater before going to sleep. Even though the heater was off, i guess there was some leak, cause in the morning when my father came to my room, it was full of gas. And all the windows were closed too. But i was alive. And i woke up with a full and somewhat runny nose, and the perceptible odour of gas. No other damage done.

But that's not what disturbs me. What disturbs me is that as my mother woke me up and was telling me how i could have died, my first instinctive thought was "Dying peacefully in the sleep, that's not so bad." :S Am i really that screwed up to prefer annihilation over this life? It's not as if my life is very terrible. Yeah, there are problems, and sometimes it's just a mess, but i am also happy, and there are people who genuinely love me. So, why the thought?

And i was just wondering, if i had died, many of the readers of this blog would never have found out about it. The blog would still exist, un-updated, and some people would continue to arrive at it in the process of googling something or just checking out blogs on other peoples' blog rolls. The old readers would stop visiting seeing that it is no longer being updated. And they would have no idea that i haven't just abandoned this blog, but that i am, in fact, dead.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Listen to this beautiful song:

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I recalled a poem today that i had once read on the blog Utopia Forever. 'Aubade' by Michael Londry. It's a long and beautiful poem, but the part i like best about it is the ending, which i would like to share with the readers:

Being in love with you is centrifugal.

It is hard to believe
Being in love with you
Was once
That tiny space
In my heart
That has since exploded
Into a vast cathedral
Of sky
Under which I stand alone,
Looking up.

It is raining cats and dogs.
I am drenched.
Being in love with you has soaked me
To the bone
And I will never again
Be dry.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The term phenomenology literally means the study of ‘phenomena’. Philosophically, it is the study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view (in contrast to say, cognitive science, which attempts to study consciousness from an objective view). There are a number of different methods which have been grouped under the umbrella of phenomenology. In this brief introduction, however, I will place central emphasis on the phenomenological method of Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenology, and briefly mention the other forms of phenomenology, which too, have a basis in the work of Husserl.

Husserl came to prominence with his book Logical Investigations which raised the call of returning to the things themselves; i.e. in focusing on how things (which includes not just physical objects, but also numbers, emotions etc anything that is an object of consciousness) actually do present in our experience, instead of relying on some philosophical system to tell us how they should appear. This was called Realist Phenomenology. Husserl later wrote Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy, which introduced Transcendental Phenomenology and seemed to revise and extend the concepts of his previous work. This later work was often misunderstood to portray a version of Idealism and resulted in many phenomenologists distancing themselves from Husserl.

The central feature of phenomenology is the concept of ‘intentionality’ i.e. consciousness is always consciousness of something or directed at something. It has the property of ‘aboutness’, of consciousness always being about something. This could be a physical object or a mental entity. These form the ‘structures’ of consciousness and are called intentionalities. There are various modes of consciousness, all of which have the property of intentionality, but specific modes can have specific properties, for example, perception has the feature of sensation.

Now, when consciousness is directed at something, there are certain assumptions that are made by the subject. For example, if it is a physical object, it is assumed that the object exists in an objective world, or that the experience is itself an event in a psycho-physical reality, or that the world exists as a whole. This is the process of ‘taking-for-granted’ and it marks the natural attitude of consciousness. However, Husserl says that these assumptions should be eliminated, ‘bracketed’, and only then the knowledge of essences would become possible. This taking-for-granted can be put of action by an operation called ‘transcendental reduction’. [It should be noted that Phenomenology does not attempt to answer the question whether objects do exist in an external world apart from our mind; it merely attempts to study objects, of whatever ontological nature, as how they present to our consciousness, without asking whether they actually exist or not.] Doing so, one arrives at pure consciousness. This consciousness is not an item in the world but rather that for which there is a world. Phenomenology, Husserl says, is the description of the structures of this transcendental or pure consciousness. These structures are not ‘inferred’ by any Kantian argument but rather are ‘seen’ by a phenomenological ‘observer’. Husserl believes that such description would lead to the ultimate understanding of things. To describe the structure of pure consciousness is to ‘constitute’ that thing. The world is ‘constituted’ in transcendental subjectivity. In Husserl’s own time, it was interpreted by philosophers in a ‘creationist sense’ as meaning that the world is in some way ‘created’ by consciousness, resulting in an idealistic picture. And hence Husserl was generally rejected. But it was later argued that that interpretation was wrong. Paul Gorner writes: “What is constituted in consciousness is not things but senses, not the things that consciousness intends but the senses ‘through’ which it intends them.”

Husserl later brings the concept of ‘life-world’, which is the world of lived experience. Husserl criticizes the mathematical and natural sciences for their objectivism which seeks to dismiss subjectivity and life-world as mere appearance and accept only that as real which can be represented by the concepts of science. But doing so is flawed because the properties which the sciences attribute to the ‘objective’ world are themselves a product of the idealization and mathematization of the life-worldly structures. Hence, it is the task of philosophy, according to Husserl, to remove this ‘garment of ideas’ which science has thrown over life-world. This task was made central to the phenomenology by Merleau-Ponty who developed his own brand of phenomenology, known as Existential Phenomenology. Like Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology, it does involve a reduction, but this reduction is not a reduction to a ‘transcendental consciousness’ by bracketing the assumption of the existence of the world, but rather it is the bracketing of the view of the world presented to us by the objective sciences.

Inspired by the early pre-transcendental phenomenology of Husserl, Martin Heidegger applied the phenomenological method to the study of Being, developing what is known as Hermeneutic Phenomenology. Unlike Husserl, Heidegger says that phenomenology is not the study of what shows itself in consciousness; rather it is the study of something which does not show itself, but the reason due to which things show themselves: the Being of beings/entities. It is Being which makes it possible for beings to show themselves. Heidegger uses the term Dasein for human beings. The Being of Dasein – Heidegger calls it ‘existence’ – is special because it understands its own Being, and in doing so, it understands the Being of other entities. Hence, phenomenology for Heidegger is the phenomenology of Dasein. This phenomenology led Heidegger to study of several concepts like angst, guilt, death, authenticity, which were instrumental in the development of Existentialism.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ashes by Edvard Munch

The misery of being in love... and not being able to be together.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sarah Pierce: I think I understand your feelings about this book [Madame Bovary]. I used to have some problems with it, myself. When I read it in grad school, Madam Bovary just seemed like a fool. She marries the wrong man; makes one foolish mistake after another; but when I read it this time, I just fell in love with her. She's trapped! She has a choice: She can either accept a life a misery or she can struggle against it. And she chooses to struggle.
Mary Ann: [sarcastically] Some struggle. Hop into bed with every guy who says hello.
Sarah Pierce: She fails in the end, but there's something beautiful and even heroic about her rebellion. My professors would kill me for even thinking this, but in her own strange way, Emma Bovary is a feminist
Mary Ann: Oh, that's nice. So now cheating on your husband makes you a feminist?
Sarah Pierce: No, no, it's not the cheating. It's the hunger. The hunger for an alternative, and the refusal to accept a life of unhappiness.
Mary Ann: Maybe I didn't understand the book!

Little Children
I have been trying to find the English equivalent of the Urdu word 'sakta' (that mental-shock and numb-like state which the people in dramas get into when they hear a very bad news, usually the death of the beloved) for some days, but i have been unable to find an exact translation. Which is somewhat strange. Kia angraizon par kabhi sakta taari nahi hota? In fact, i was not just trying to find a proper translation, i was also trying to find the medical diagnosis of that condition. The closest that i have discovered to it is Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, but even its medical description doesn't match exactly with the sympton profile of sakta. Does sakta even exist in reality, or is it a drama-construct?

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