Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Why our generation has to stop being offended!

The generation I was born in, the 90’s we have had the best time. And I say it in the sense that we had the better part of the technological revolution, the birth of social media, and ‘smart’ phones that let us do, see and share anything we want with the world. And with that has obviously brought its own disadvantages. Before continuing any further, I would like to say that the world we live in is one filled with hate, and breeds contempt. Of course, we live in peaceful times but that doesn’t necessarily make us happy. One of the issues of that our generation has to face due to the rise of social media and global news deceptively presenting information which spreads like wildfire which leads us to being easily offended, and is something I wanted to discuss today.

Well you might ask, why is being offended a problem? It’s a problem because we get offended easily, and we think this gives us a right to position us as the victim to inequality. This is an outright, completely flawed concept and this mentality is one that has to be changed for the collective good of the society we live in. Yes, there are horrible, religiously offensive and politically incorrect jokes that will leave us infuriated, but that doesn’t give us the right to feel being ‘better’ than someone else. At best, tweets from an untalented comedian will give the rednecks small snort of laugher, but does not give someone the right to go after these people with a mob-like mentality on social media without the proper context. Context is also very important in determining what a certain person, and organization is trying to convey, and since the internet has become host to people with people with very little spans of concentration, the media  has changed their headlines to suit these people and thus has brought upon the ‘clickbaits’.

One of the reasons that we are negatively biased against a certain person or a topic of conversation that has been buzzing the internet is because of the media presenting hoaxes, scams or just deceiving the internet in the most dishonest way possible. Without the proper context, a certain phrase or sentence may be misconstrued by people and for the ‘quick buck’, the media will give the ‘juicy bits’ of the news and leave us feeling us angry, mad or even sad. A catalyst to these situations is the media who either overly dramatize the news, or who use deceptive clickbait titles, are worsening the situation to their profit. Being offended sells, and we have become pawns who are unwittingly exploited. At the end of the day, being offended is ‘our’ problem, not ‘theirs’.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Captain America: Civil War (2016) review

Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Tom Holland, Daniel Brühl, William Hurt

Director: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo

Synopsis: Political interference in the Avengers' activities causes a rift between former allies Captain America and Iron Man.

Captain America: Civil War (2016) on IMDb
Review: WARNING – Spoilers ahead!
Where do I start? The whole movie was a rollercoaster ride that poses some questions in a world full of superheroes that not all things are ‘fine and dandy’ and that even heroes have to face the consequences when fighting the ‘bad guys’. To put it simply, the world owes the Avengers a great debt as they have saved the world two times (well from the two movies) from catastrophic consequences. But, the governments have decided that even though these heroes have done a great deal to save countless lives, in the process they have not been able to save everybody. This has prompted the United Nations to come to a decision that the heroes have to be ‘put in check’, and that their actions have to be monitored by a panel and not act on their own as a private organization.

This is where I just have to say that Marvel has done a terrific job on foreshadowing this conflict from ‘Age of Ultron’ as Tony Stark feels that his ever deepening guilt from his creation was bound to destroy the world, where in the beginning sequences of the movie an elderly woman’s son was killed by the rag-tag action that happened in Sarkovia sometime prior to the movie. This guilt is what makes Tony feel so strongly about the need for the Avengers to be under control, so that innocent lives are not lost in the blunder of their own mess. However, Captain America, on the other hand, has seen that government control is not safe, with had happened from World War II with ‘Hydra’ and after being unfrozen from the ice how ‘Hydra’ had lived on secretly within S.H.I.E.L.D. This was a fantastic set-up for the conflict between the two.

In a fictional world with superheroes and supervillains, and although the movie doesn’t take it too seriously upon itself, brings the concept of liberalism and totalitarianism which had spurred the conflict between the two. But to quite frank, the two sides leaders’ Captain America and Iron Man, were never really portrayed as friends and more as comrades, but comrades who respect each other a lot. When Bucky had somehow became intertwined into this mess, Rogers just couldn’t help and watch his childhood friend and somewhat idol get tossed aside. Thus, the conflict between the two group of superheroes was more of an emotional conflict, as Tony felt as if own creations had only deterred the world of being a better place and the good Captain believing that ‘the safest hands are our own’. Vision addresses this elegantly:
“Our very strength incites challenge. Challenge incites conflict. And conflict... breeds catastrophe.Supervision is not something to be dismissed out-of-hand.”

Sunday, 1 May 2016

The demise of the music industry: my opinions on mainstream pop

I am not the one into delve in controversial topics like these as I have always hated confrontation and conflict (that why I’m a ‘Wimpy Kid’) and most certainly hate the dirty politics back home in Bangladesh where the two political parties are always at each other’s throats literally. The strike in Bangladesh carried out by one of the political parties in November had ruined my chance for a retake exam which had basically ruined my future prospects to a certain extent! But that is not what I’m here to talk about, today I want to talk about the demise of the music industry, and this is supported by fall in revenue by big labels scratching their heads due to the increased availability and reach of illegal streaming content.

The quality of music has dropped. I may get hate for this, and I know that people will have different tastes and will like different genres, but even a person who likes the same genre as me may think the music industry is flourishing – producing the best music he has ever heard and it is continuously getting better. But that’s not me. To clarify, I am going to talk about the mainstream music that usually topple the Billboard Top 10. And I must say, it is going downhill. I must admit, not ALL songs are bad, but the majority aren’t that good either. Now, as a reader, you may say that, “well Wimpy Kid just listen to what you like and stop complaining about it!” Trust me I wish I could, but I am not complaining about the state of the music industry just because of my own personal opinions, but that, in terms of social media portrayal, the ‘get rich or die trying mentality, and most and foremost the constant sexual appeasement for men, is what is horrifyingly wrong.

Firstly, I would like to talk about the quality of music. When I say quality, I mean the sophistication of lyrics, the songs having an ambiguous meaning so that we can interpret the meaning ourselves, and the level of thought, energy and ‘soul’ that goes into writing the music. And if you look at the newest top hits for the last maybe two years, you will find a steady trend that most music is not written by the artists who perform the songs themselves and that the main motif consists of ‘getting money, bitches, and sex’ in a nutshell. This is not my definition of music. Don’t get me wrong though, songs including these ideals can be good – but they hardly are. With a few exceptions in my eyes like Coldplay, Adele and maybe Charlie Puth, most of the songs that are topping the charts are electronic dance hits, which to be fair, is not proper ‘songs’ in my eyes at all. The importance of beat over melody has also reduced the quality of songs in general, as the greatest songs in general have had an equal footing in harmony, melody, rhythm and – in my mind the most important of them all – lyrics. Artists also probably do not have more ‘soul’ in their music due to hiring songwriters, their own personal talents may not be able to shine due to lyrics not being written from their own personal thoughts, which I think is what makes great music. Trending icons nowadays have very little to no personality and I think this is because of the desperate need for fame, but not for the reason of sharing one’s thoughts to the world. Record labels are also to blame as by trying to ‘play it safe’ they have reduced their credibility to nurture actual talent. This has all culminated into a huge mess and due to these qualitative factors about the industry not being taken into account, the financial side of things have suffered as well. I’m not saying that good music has to be at a certain sophisticated level, but a certain degree of thought and passion has to go into making songs. Catchy dance tunes are not going to cut it, and this can be seen even from a financial perspective:

Friday, 29 April 2016

Real heroes: the ones that need to be appreciated

“Real heroes don’t wear capes”. I have heard this being said time and time again to symbolize the flourishing support of the justice system, the small businesses in the economy, and in general, a little pat on the backs to  ‘the little guys’ as a whole. But to be honest, do we really understand the meaning of such a phrase? The amount of work that these people do and the little amount of appraisal they get – in both monetary and mental terms – in comparison to the level of effort they give is astonishing. In recent times, for example, police in the US have been ridiculed with a mob-like mentality, their faintest mistakes have been nitpicked and media have reported incidents in a deceptive manner. A couple of days ago, a cop was questioned to have killed two girls due to a police chase gone wrong. What the media didn't report was that - surprisingly - is that the girls had hijacked a car and due to them driving under the influence, they skimmed into a pond where they had drowned. The police officer had followed the rules to the book, but since the media had not read the police reports carefully, they were asking ridiculous questions to the deputy who had been involved.

These people work to protect us, some officers working ridiculous hours and get paid a below average salary. This, however, is an issue that is being constantly talked about, but my opinion is that the economy is organized in such a way that we have given more to the ‘value added’ to tertiary services such as giants like Microsoft, Google, who make billions, but we cannot bear to give a few extra cents to FairTrade suppliers so that farmers can have a subsistence living standard to raise their families in a relatively better environment.  Granted, that the entrepreneurship skills of the owners of these companies is letting me use Microsoft Word to type this, and Google-owned ‘Blogger’ to be able to share my ideas. But that is not the point I’m trying to make. The reason why I am bringing this to light is not to degrade the importance of modern technology and other tertiary services in our lives, but to illustrate the state of the world and that we cannot let it to continue in this way. A thousand years ago, these companies would not matter, but as in Economics we get to know that to survive there are three basic necessities: food, water and shelter. And in that time and age, people who could cultivate food, knit clothes and make homes were the real heroes: people of action who actually cement the foundation for the pillars of life. This may sound overly-dramatic but it is the truth. As the human race has learnt, grown and evolved we have taken advantages of even the most basic things that would leave our ancestors amazed, like the wheel and fire that we take for granted and have learnt how to ‘thrive’ and not just ‘survive’.

My conclusion is that we have to look at the declining importance we give to people who give us our food, people who risk their lives to defend the nation so that we can sleep peacefully at night, and the people who work tirelessly day in and day out in a questionable work environment to make clothes you have on your back. The economic system fails to address the needs of the people who are actually the people who have skills that are necessary to ‘survive’ It is true that being human will lead us to creating technology as ‘necessity is the mother of invention’, but we have to also take a step back to look after the ‘little people’ who do these things for us and have to accept the fact that they are being under-appreciated. I’m not asking for a standing ovation - that doesn't give these people a better life - but it is necessary for us, as human beings, to look after our own and that’s why we should. Because at the end of the day what are we if are not human?

That's it from me, I just wanted to share my thoughts about this as I have been thinking about this for the past couple of days. I probably won't post regularly in May because of my final exams. But if you like what you see, please follow  the blog or on social media!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Waiting - a short story

Waiting – a short story

Waiting. She waited for him and she knew that he would come. No matter what, he would come. They said that after the war, they would meet at their favorite coffee shop where they first met. He was a decorated marine in her eyes, and an American hero for all she knew. He represented the pique masculinity and the gleam for his shining teeth would make her heart quiver. But apart from his physique, she fell in love with the man he was at heart, and it wasn’t the love for his country that made him so emotionally desirable; his genuine kindness towards others around him is what sparked her interest in him. Even though she didn’t know him well, that scrawny middle-schooler would always stand up for his friends when they were getting bullied. He usually would’ve ended up getting beaten to a pulp, but he would still stand up for them. But the thing that really made her fall in love with him is the fact that he never made a scene if he was bullied and used to shrug them off like it wasn’t anyone’s business. That’s what she loved most about him, and although they may have not spent as much as time as they would’ve liked, he was – and always will be – her cornerstone.
It’s funny how things would work out in the end. She wouldn’t have, in a million years, thought that she was the man for him. It was not until a fateful encounter between them in a coffee shop where he worked that he had finally had the guts to ask her out. And she was so glad that he did. His father was crippled, which had made money sparse within the family so he had to get a job to help his father have a somewhat decent lifestyle. This only made her love him more.


Pearl Harbor was a navy ship that most marines would be proud to work on as an American soldier, protecting the nation was a matter of pride. But to him it didn’t matter, at least not anymore. The bombardment of planes, destruction, and injury was not he stood for. His vision of protecting his country seemed more heroic when looking at the posters ‘America needs you’. It was only when you are on the battlefield that you realize that it is the most cowardly thing governments can do; perilously putting the innocent in risk for feuds that don’t matter. This is what happens when one man thinks he is above all else and has the power to command thousands and million troops with a slight nod of his head. That is not justice, and that definitely is not what the founding fathers were hoping for. “War is a cowardly escape from the problems of peace”. Indeed, whoever said that was absolutely right. This is not justice, just torcher.

But that didn’t matter. Everyone was too worried about surviving the genocide, hoping to dear God that they can see their children, wives and girlfriends one last time and tell them ‘I love you’. So did he. It was kind of funny, he knew these were his last moments, and even if he did survive, the hell he had experienced would never be erased from his memory. No one wants to live with the pain he had experienced and no one should. It was ironic how his girlfriend had made him origami crane before he had left, a kind gift cultivated from the culture from a country he was aiding to destroy.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

What type of person do I want to become?

At this stage in my life, I have no idea where I'm heading. To be completely honest I have never wanted to take responsibility for my actions and always relied on mother to decide what to do for me. On that note, I would like to shower my mom with appraisal as I would not be where I am today if it wasn't for her support and constant nagging about my college applications. I would've wasted an entire year of my life doing nothing, which in this very competitive world would've been a disadvantage when getting a job. But I am to blame for my own lackings, and no matter how much someone's mother cares, it is his or her responsibility to take decisions seriously when it is regarding one's future, which I did not at all. My own brother, who is well-established in my own family's eyes, is a good role model to look upto and I - no matter how much I tell myself I don't - hate him for that as I feel the overbearing burden of keeping up with the expectations from my parents, even if they won't admit that.

So, as the title says, what do I want to become? There's one thing I want to do, and that's to help people. Now, you may think that is indeed a very 'noble' of me, but to be completely honest, I only want to help people because my idol helps people in his adventures. My idol is a fictional character from an anime called 'One Piece' and in short, he is a pirate who goes from island to island and ends up saving the island's peoples' problems he visits... with his fists. But that's not what I'm going to do, but I want to help people in some sort of way to prove to myself I care. I'm not impeccably selfish, but I feel like I don't care about the people around me as much as should. My friend, on the other hand, the one I made at uni, is a person who cares about other people when he doesn't have to. I am glad that I met him because, to be completely honest, his interactions with people even in chicken shops is something I learned as he didn't act cold when placing his order, he asked about her life, and she opened up to him about her whole life story. I felt annoyed at first because I was having a bad day, but then I realized that I would have never asked how she was doing, let alone be able to start a whole conversation. Having him around has really helped me dealing with some personal problems, as he is a genuinely down-to-earth guy that just wants the best for his friends, and I think that's the only thing that matters and am really happy that he is in my life (no homo XD).

So, back to my initial question, what do I want to become? Well, in terms of getting a job I still have no idea, but I really hope that my family's pride will not be shattered if I want to do a job that will help people around the world, even if it may have low pay. Coming from a South-East Asian family a 'socially acceptable' job has to be taken like being a banker, engineer, doctor etc. which I do not care for at all. I guess the point of writing all of this is to say that I don't want to become some corporate drone that works from 9 to 5, and with a promotion can afford a Rolex working over time so that he can show it off to friends and family. But when you spend so much time working, who will you show it off to? I would rather make aggressively medium money and spend it with my friends and most importantly family. Research even shows that people are tend to be more satisfied with their lives if they are around good friends and family.

Hopefully in the future I can be caring like my friends and be socially adept in awkward situations. I wish I had realized sooner, but there is so much you can do in your life, so I guess following your ambitions is the least anybody can try to achieve. I guess it would be better to be failing in doing the right thing then succeeding in doing the wrong.

At the end of the day, I may end up becoming a corporate sellout, funneling money directly or indirectly to the wealthiest people in the world, but there is enough wealth in this world to go around. I think, being part of the generation which has the responsibility to solve the energy crisis and promoting sustainable development, we should be worried about saving our lives and God forbid maybe our children's and grandchildren's. Money can't save the world, or buy freedom and peace. I recently heard a quote that had resonated with me and would like to end this post with it:

"When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money."
-Cree Indian Proverb

Hope you enjoyed this one, if you like what you see you know what to do! ;)


Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Am I a Good Man? - a short story


Am I a Good Man?

It was a different kind of day for the man. Wiping the tear of his face as he had wept himself to sleep last night, he started to realize that today had to be treated like any other day, to get over his recent loss. He staggered out of bed and averted his eyes from the pictures of his young daughter and all the flowers and sweets that he had received in the past few days. Even though the man was always kept to himself, he had always cared about his daughter, and with her mother passing away from an illness a year ago, he had to be both parents to a lower-middle class family which he couldn’t afford. He had recently started to doubt himself: am I a good man? Recently he had started to feel as if his own doings had led to the ordeals he had been encountering. After the passing away of his wife, he became cold, and stopped talking to his neighbors, scolding his tenants for no good reason. He didn’t communicate with his daughter as much after that and he blames himself for her passing away, thinking that maybe it was the broken heart that took her away. But from now on he had decided that he would change his demeanor, and have a friendly attitude towards anybody he comes by. The man knew that he was trying to compensate, but even so he felt that – no matter how strange it may sound – his arrogant demeanor had led to a karmic retribution on his one and only loved one. And, so after dressing up for the office, he set out foot of his door to be a changed man.

The first thing he did after locking the door behind him was to pull up ahead of his tenants trying to desperately flee from his line of sight and give a big grin, and walked right past them without mentioning anything about the mold growing in their apartment. He had noticed that particular beggar in front of the bus stop, but in the mean streets of Islamabad nobody gave a damn about the thousands of peasants with their hands stretched out. This beggar had noticed this man didn’t pay for all this time, and in contrast had snickered that the beggar’s shortcomings in life. Not that he wasn’t grateful, but he didn’t like it one bit, as if it were some bad omen for a man to change so quickly.
The man gave the beggar 100 rupees, and stepped on to the bus with a big grin on his face. He felt that he was doing some good about his recent endeavor. The bus to work was a long one, and it stopped on the way to the inter-city bus station which was always jam-packed with people in this arid environment. The sweat trickling down his forehead was like the man’s conscience was being cleared. Then the man noticed a certain person sitting in front of him wearing a jacket of all things he could in this weather. He didn’t think much of it, but at the inter-city bus stop he paced frantically for the exit. As soon as the doors opened, he was out in a dash but had dropped some sort of device. The man, feeling as if this was another chance to redeem himself had without a second doubt picked up the device and walked out of the bus to follow the stranger.
The stranger sighed with a gasp of relief, it was finally over. He had decided that it was enough, and even if suffocating with this contraption stuck to his chest meant that he could be free, then so be it. He decided that he would leave the city, the closest bus stop being a two minute walk away. He knew what he was doing was unimaginably selfish, but he knew his young sister would want him to escape and live the rest of his life in peace and not for the remaining evening he had left in this world. The entrance to the station was only a few steps away, and with every step he was second guessing his decision whether to go through with his escape, which would inevitably lead to her death but even if he were to go through with their instructions, there was no guarantee that they would let her live regardless of his actions. Then, at the foot of the entrance to the station, someone poked him from behind, with his hands on his knees and panting furiously. “You dropped this!” he said gasping for breath. The stranger looked at the device, and he knew. Although he hadn’t lived for very long considering he only just became a teenager, he knew that this was fate, and he was absolutely certain now that he couldn’t abandon his sister. The boy replied, “yes thank you uncle for bringing this back to me”. The man asked him “son, are you crazy that you are wearing a jacket in this hot weather?” The boy smirked at the man and with a slight hint of anguish in his voice he responded “I think I am”.
The stranger darted of in another direction without another word, and the man lost sight of him in the hustle and bustle of the station. For a young boy with such a big belly he sure walked really fast. The man realized that the device he had picked up was a phone, as if it had been taken apart and put back together with additional circuitry sticking out from the sides. One thing that stood out was the beeping red light but the man didn’t care too much for that as he felt that he had done his good deed for the day, even if it meant being late for the office. So he waited for another 30 minutes to jump on the next bus to work in the congested streets of Islamabad.