Sunday, November 27, 2005

The superb Brian Charles Lara

This week a great cricket record fell. Allan Border's most runs in test cricket was surpassed by the Trinidad and West Indian genius Brian Charles Lara. Lara probably the greatest batsman the Windies have produced since Sir Garfield Sobers and perhaps Viv Richards took just 121 tests (to Borders 156) to accomplish this record. The 36-year-old Lara scored his 11,175th run on the second morning of the third Test against Australia in Adelaide. He was eventually bowled by Glenn McGrath for 226 after improving the record to 11,187.

While it is generally foolish to compare cricketers across generations, the felling of such a momentous record merits some speculation. The game changes so much every couple of decades that comparing a Lara to a Sobers or even to a Vivian Richards is probably not valid (or fair). Suffice to say Lara is in thetop 2 batsmen of his generation....the only other contender is Sachin Tendulkar (and maybe Ricky Ponting).

In my heart the Don will always be the greatest batsman who ever donned whites and played this king of all games. Until a batsman can average 99.96 runs after 52 tests, everyone else will only be competingfor the #2 spot. What could the Don have achieved if he did not lose 6 of his best years to WW II. He could have averaged 150 and doubled his output.

So rather than posit a "top 10" batsmen of all timelist- I will submit a "remaining 9" list. In no particluar order for the spot 2-10...

2. Vivian Richards
3. Sunil Gavaskar
4. Sachin Tendulkar
5. Javed Miandad
6. Allan Border
7. Sir Garry Sobers
8. George Headley
9. Sir Jack Hobbs
10. Greg Chappell

How naked a list without Zaheer, Ranji, Weekes,Trumper, Waugh and Boycott....

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Prescient Mr Gore

While the lily livered Democrats gave this foolish President carte blanch to go ahead with his misguided Iraq policy there was one man who in hindsight had his thinking exactly right....the duly elected 43rd President of the United States.... Vice President Gore.

Read Gores comments in Sep 2002 that I stumbled across on Arianna Huffingtons blog. Isnt it ironic the guys that the neo cons really hate like Hans Blix, Mohammed El-Barradei and Al Gore
turned out to be so right and Cheney, Wolfowitz,Rumsfeld, Rice, Hadley, Armitage and Powell turned out to be so wrong.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

What the heck is wrong with Pat Robertson?

Will someone tell Pat Robertson to just shut his mouth. The man is an anachrnonism and a continuing embarassment to this country.

Pat's recent foot in mouth effort came up as a result of the town of Dover, Pa voting out of office last Tuesday, their entire school board of trustees because the trustees supported the teaching of Intelligent Design in their science curriculum.

Pat serving as the Oracle of God, has warned the good citizens of Dover that they are now on the Almighty's shit list. Do not complain he opines if God turns his back on you and sends you the bird flu or the monkey pox in retribution....ask Charles Darwin for help should this happen......


Keep in mind just last month he stated that the CIA should kill Hugo Chavez the President of Venezuela and on 9/11 when the wound of the attack was still raw and gaping he (and the corpulently fat Jerry Falwell) stated that the terrorist attack was Gods punishment on America for suporting Roe v Wade and gay rights.

I believe in a three strikes and you're out policy......when will the FCC revoke this mans license for propogating hate speech.... This is more egregious and a greater threat to American values than Janet Jacksons exposed right breast at the last Superbowl....

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Can Islam be Reformed?

Since 9/11 I have been convinced that if there is ever going to be a reformation in Islam it will be Western Muslims who will lead the way. There is something innately powerful and empowering about living in secular societies like the United States, Canada and (to a lesser extent) western Europe that allows the common man to question the established order.

Even educated Muslims are brought up to respect the traditional scholarship in their reliegion and therefore their opinions with respect to Islam, have always counted for less. Therefore ivory tower mullahs have set the tone for discourse and it is almost always conservative. Popular discussion and debate is frowned upon because one runs the risk of being termed an apostate or a kaffir. Once these labels are attached to the Muslim asking the question, he ends up having the same status as a Jew, Christian or worse an idolator. Anything he subsequently says can be safely ignored. He immediately loses all credibility. We have seen this time and again with folks like Ibn-Waraq, Salman Rushdie and most recently Irshad Manji.
Difficult questions like whether Islam is compatible with democracy, the equality of the sexes, the literality of the Koran etc are given short shrift. Please reference the "logical" arguments made by the Islamic Studies department of the University of Southern California to dispel misconceptions about Islam if you still have any doubt about the point I am trying to make. If this is the state of scholarship in Islam on the difficult questions...Islam is in deep trouble.
Islam will be reformed when Muslims start to read the Koran as the beautiful poetry that it is and not as prose. The same thing happened in the West (with respect to the Bible) during the Enlightenment and the world has improved greatly because of this mind shift. Once this key mindset is changed one can apply the rules of metaphor to the subject matter. It allows flexibility in interpretation specifically towards a more moderate and obviously less literal interpretation.
The hardest ideas to explain in Islam like the inhumane punishments (for minor infractions like stealing ie cutting off of hands or stoning to death for adultery) from a supposedly merciful God can be addressed metaphorically in that human actions have consequences. One must be moral and pure or risk the wrath of God and the pain that naturally comes with it. The authorites do not need to literally action these inhumane punishments but need to provide some punishment under the law for these infractions. This can be as per established penalties provided for in the common law and there is no need to sink into the medieval punishments that a literal reading would call for.
The other change in mindset may be to take on a relative reading of the Koran vs an absolutist reading. This would introduce the temporal parameter into the argument. We could read certain verses in the "time" in which they were written and not apply them to all time. This would get rid of the silliness that a womans testimony is worth half as much as a mans for example. This may have been a good metric when the prophet was riding camels and fighting the Meccans but certainly not at a time when half of western university graduates are women.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Islam and submission

The Islam means "peace" movement started in the US. It was first echoed by the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and then to the masses by Bush and Blair in their speeches after Sept 11. For someone like me who has been researching Islam for almost 15 years it came as a bit of a surprise. Islam is today peaceful and has many peaceful tenets but it definitely does not mean peace. At its founding it was spread by war and one of the seminal events in the religion is the Battle of Badr where the Prophet against overwhelming odds defeated the Meccans and established his lordship over his home city once and for all.

Islam means"submission" (as in submission to Allah) and Muslim means "one who submits".

The confusion of what Islam means has also permeated relatively well informed Muslims, so I figured that I should do some research to correct this misinformation.

Here are two good explanations that I hope will provide some clarification and reset at least in theminds of my readers what the true meaning of Islam before the marketing dept of CAIR got a hold of it


Most Arabic words are based on a trilateral rootsystem, such as k-t-b or s-l-m. The words formed fromthese roots often have a connection to one another(kataba is to read, kitâb is a book, maktaba is alibrary, and so on), but not always (a katîba is asquadron of soldiers). In other words, roots have acore meaning but also include unrelated words.In the case of s-l-m, salâm means peace and salâmameans safety. But the root also has many meaningsunconnected to this core, such as salam (a variety ofacacia) sullam (ladder), sulâmâ (digital bone in thehand or foot), sulaymâni (mercury chloride), aslama(to betray) … and islâm (submission).There is no connection in meaning between salâm andislâm, peace and submission. These are two distinctwords with unrelated meetings. In brief, "Islam =submission."


Also check out the following link if you still have doubts...(this quotes the associated surah directly)