Thursday, August 26, 2010

Privy Much?


We live in an ever changing world. Physically, the earth changes, but ever so slowly, and it takes thousands of years to make a change significant enough for us to see. Politically, however, this world seems to take no rest in making changes.

The idea of a nation-state is a fairly new idea. Two hundred years ago, if you ask someone what country he/she belongs to, the question itself may be hard to be comprehended by the person. Those were the days that states and empires dominate, the border of those dominions depends on the consensus of uniting tribes or taken from other tribes by force.

Such is the idea of a community, of a group of people which shares a common ancestry or ruled by a common power. Then the idea of nation-state emerged. It is a formation of a government consented by the people to rule over a nation composed of the aforementioned people. Nationality is given to all people inside the nation who qualified as citizens, regardless of race and religion.

The coming of new millennium brings forth a new idea; globalization. Forged by a common need of knowledge sharing and media freedom, this new idea is also accelerated by the dawn of Internet age. Then the idea is nearly realized. Virtually, there is no border anymore between countries. People halfway across the globe can interact as they are in the same room. The possibilities seem limitless, and much can be hoped to be achieved in this new era.

However, this is not without problem. Much has been discussed on the subject of infusion of immoral foreign cultures, strange misleading new ideas which can be accessed by anyone from anywhere. These are among the curses of globalization. To discuss on such topics is lengthy and tiresome, and to cap it off, many of such articles on the subjects are redundant.

This article however, is touching on a small but often overlooked side effect of globalization; privacy. Humans are social creatures, but there are boundaries which define us as a unique individual rather than a blurry mass of people. With globalization, privacy seems to be nothing but a small line or clause in an agreement.

Take pictures for example. When we were children, photos are physical, printed papers which we keep to preserve a memory. We keep them in an album and when we leaf through the pages, we reminisce about those times. We seldom show them to people, save for close friends or visiting relatives. Those memories are kept close to us and with it, our privacy.

Nowadays it’s a different world altogether. Anyone can take our picture, and post it online. The freedom is way overrated. Printing picture of someone and keeping it in an album is one thing, but do we have the right to publish it so that the whole world can see? People who are alien to us can obtain information and pictures of us enough to make a profile. This information, in the wrong hand can harm the people involved.

Freedom, while a good thing, must be exercised carefully. The idea that sharing binds people together is a great one, but we cannot rule out that there are people out there who can harm us, using the very same tool that brings us together.

It may be hard to see how damaging it is right now, but in a long term it will cause irreversible harm to our society. Awareness is slowly but surely increasing, people are demanding more privacy and security from social sites and e-mail providers. These efforts, while worthy of compliment, barely cover the real need of privacy. As more children are becoming IT literate each year, the most pressing concern right now is how are we going to protect them from this world?

A little respect for privacy now and then is always a welcomed gesture. In this ever changing world, it is nice to know that there is a little room for being an individual. The next time you take someone’s picture, keep in mind that by asking him/her whether you can post it online is a commendable gesture of respecting his/her privacy on your part.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Man Who Thinks He Can


If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don't.
If you like to win, but think you can't,
It's almost a cinch you won't.
If you think you'll lose, you're lost,
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow's will;
It's all in the state of mind.

If you think you're outclassed, you are;
You've got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life's battle don't always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But soon or late the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.
Walter D. Wintle

The test of first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Friends help you move. Real friends help you move dead bodies.
Anonymous

There is no easy method of learning difficult things. The method is to close the door, give out that you are not at home, and work.
Albert Einstein

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Anxiously. Hopefully. Waiting


All that needs to be said has been said. The die has been cast. I cannot go back from here. This will go the way I want or not the way I want. Either way, there is no going back for me.

So, for the last time that I will do this in my life, please God, grant your humble servant this wish that is so little in the eye of the Almighty, but meant the universe for me.

This time. Pretty please?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Shades of Green


There is a very popular saying that goes, “The grass is always greener on the other side”. This is very true, provided that the observer can see colours properly. Literally, green is green, so why the fuss? Thinking logically, the owner of the grass that is greenest of them all should have black grass, because by greener we mean darker shade of green. That is, however, if we think logically. But what does it mean by greener?

Figuratively, this time. We do not see other people’s grass with envy, unless you are planning to enter a lawn competition. We see people with envy, anything to every single thing. Some people do better than us; at least that’s what we think. But how do we evaluate better? In the same line of work, yes, it is fair to say something is better than another. But more often than not we are comparing unfairly.

I mentioned before that we do have our own places in this world. However, we are also endowed with want. Want and greed. Definitely not a good combination. We do see people that have better lives than us, have greater chances and opportunities than us, or simply luckier than us. If those things happen just because you refuse to work for it, then you have yourself to blame. But you cannot work for luck and chances, so you just simply...shit out of luck.

I’ve been there and I’ve seen people who have better opportunities than I am. I always think that if I were them, I’d do so many things I’ve dreamed about. But I’m not, and no matter how much I work for something, sometimes they just go down the drain because...I’m shit out of luck. This makes me feel that I’ve fallen into an endless hole and unable to climb out of it, no matter how hard I tried. At some point, yes, it depresses me, but it keeps me thinking.

What if I’m given all I want? Would I still be the person that I am? If every people have want and greed, so I must have something that they want. By stopping the chain of envy at myself, only then I can be happy with my own self. That thought keeps me going for days to come, but I do wonder, will someday I hit a wall so hard and so high that I finally give up?

There are challenges in life that cannot be met by willpower only. What if we do a thing so nicely and perfectly in order and still cannot get what we expect? Especially when it involves your feeling, unpredictable and unstable as it is, we cannot just bury it when it really wants something. Then we can either wallow in sadness or try to move on. Wallow in sadness, and you chip yourself off bit by bit until you become an empty shell. Try to move on at your own discretion, as there is always a possibility that you get hurt again and again.

There is always a next day for everyone, or a next week, or a next year. And every day brings new opportunities for us to grab. Who knows, one of these days, you get to have what you always wanted, and from that point on, never let it go. Hardship taught us how valuable a thing is, or person is. The day when you wake up and find out that no one else has greener grass than yours, is the happiest day in your life that you will ever have.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Espionage, Pt. 1


Some person I know might find this spy...uh...anatomically despicable. But hey, he’s a famous one.


Espionage is an act of information gathering, usually of sensitive kind. This act is done inconspicuously in order not to alert the side in which the information is gathered from. From the earliest recorded history of warfare, there has been an extensive use of espionage in order to know the enemy or to confuse the enemy. However, since the dawn of Industrial Revolution, espionage has also been used in business and industry, coining the term ‘Industrial espionage’.

The knowledge of espionage may be regarded as the thing that only militaries and intelligence agencies do need, but in contrary, the meaning of espionage itself spells out a common need of information, which is also needed in social setting. This is the most prominent when you want to find out about someone without having to get close to the person, which could lead to you accidentally revealing your true intention of knowing the person, whatever it is.

Consider yourself in a situation in which you want to know everything about person A without having a direct contact with the subject. You could choose to talk to person B, which happens to be A’s best friend, but this could lead to B telling A that you’ve been asking questions about A. Therefore, espionage involves many skills and resources in order to build a perfect profile of A. In this post, I will mention 5 most basic elements of espionage.

1.Patience
This happens to be the most important element of espionage. Any kind of information gathering must be done continuously and vigorously, meeting every schedule. The subject you’re spying on may or may not reveal the information you want at the specific time or place you expect him/her to. You may use your best technique to make the subject blurts out the information, but it may not work. Hence, patience must be applied liberally throughout your espionage process.

2.Observe
Many things happen every day around you, whether you notice it or not. We are gifted with 180° of sight, so use it wisely. Every movements and reactions of your subject must be noted. How he reacts when the person is nervous, angry, agitated, lying? These are crucial as the subject may suddenly reveal the information you want, but it may turn out to be a lie. To gain high observing skill, start with noticing things all around you and count how many things you can notice in a glance.

3.Hear
Even though sight is our primary sense; given that you’re not blind, you must also take notice of what you hear. People talk, and the talk occurs because something is thrown to their attention, so something must happen for the talk to happen. Try to sit down somewhere and listen. How many conversations could you pick up? How many of them contain stuffs about your subject? However, the primary rule still applies here. Never trust what you saw and heard unless you have them evaluated and verified. So the next element is critical.

4.Attention to details
Details are what espionage is all about. You must be able to know about the person you’re spying on intimately, without having you intimately involved with the subject. Normal people react with every situation; therefore it could be used to determine what kind of person your subject is, which in turn, helps you to profile him/her. The subject may wear a certain kind of shirt on Wednesday, or just when he/she is upset. Then find out what upset him/her. Pet died? Mom is hospitalized? Or just plain emotional? Did the person vulnerable at a certain time? If so, how can you exploit it? This ultimately will help you in your quest to gain the information you want.

5.Obscurity
In order to keep your subject and the people around that may jeopardize your intention to gain the information, you must keep them in the dark about what you are doing. Therefore, try to keep a distant between you and the person of interest and don’t divulge much information about yourself that can be turned against you. Make every information of yours valuable. Use it to gain another information. Being obscure means that espionage can be a long and arduous task to be done in order to keep suspicions off you, but the information you obtain might be valuable to you, whatever it is.

Whatever measure you use to gain information about someone, legal or illegal, there is one rule of thumb that you must never betray. NEVER spy on your loved ones, or someone you want to love. Know your loved ones in the natural way, which is by asking. Espionage breeds distrust, which is unhealthy in a relationship. Therefore, handle this knowledge with care.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Our Place


It’s been a while since I wrote anything here. I’ve been burdened with many tasks, paperwork, words to be written. It’s not that I’ve nothing to say, but if I put each one of my idea into writing, that would be a sky-high pile of rubbish. I’ve got ideas buzzing in my head every time I see something, whether it interests me or not, so in my head, I criticizes each and every one that pops out to the point that most of my ideas are repressed unless it emerges unscathed throughout the critical processes.

That concludes the going-on with me. Now to the point of why I’m writing again tonight.

Each and every one of us is part of a larger system. There is a role for each one of us to play. We choose to be someone, to be an actor/actress in this large show. In order to be a good performer, we must know what we can do best; therefore we came up with the saying, “Play with your strength”.

Hence we come to the process of character building, in which we discover ourselves. In other words, we find out in what way we are hard-wired to do. Some people possess good looks, others are physically fit and the list is endless of what we are capable of doing best. There are also people who blurred the line between his/her best abilities, such as people who have extremely high logic and reflex are natural-born racers. But the point remains the same, find what you do best and exploit it to the max.

Those I mentioned are relatively easy and theoretically possible for everyone who we consider as normal, to achieve. But how about those abnormal people or at least, what WE perceive as such?

We live in a system of conformity we created in which most of us consider as peaceful, non-invasive and non-disturbing. We perceive right as the other side of left as we know it. We can continue the Fibonacci sequence as long as we wanted because with the system, we know what comes next. This system of logic, no matter how much we can say the limit is endless, becomes an annoying paradox in which the system itself becomes the ultimate limiter of ourselves.

This is when things get interesting. People we consider as abnormal, offer solutions which are unthinkable using our logic. Dyslexic people see things differently from us. Right is perceived as left. This gives us a new perspective of life, because these people are not bound with our logic. Even our logic is based on ‘current logic’. Before the invention of radio or television, the possibility of sending two-dimensional data is not comprehensible by human’s mind at that time. Now we know that it is possible. But with our current logic, sending three-dimensional data is impossible, because it requires a deliberate bending of space-time continuum, but 100 years from now, would this logic still stand?

Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest thinkers of all time, is dyslexic. This dyslexia of his was retained to his later life as an adult, which enabled him to think differently from other people, seeing reality as malleable and can be shaped as much as he wanted to. Therefore he came up with ideas that are unacceptable to the current logic at his time, but we know now that he was a genius. This dyslexia of his is reflected in his backward handwriting, displaying a great degree of dyslexia.

This disability, as almost all people would call it, is a great asset to the person having the condition, but only the person affected would understand it. It would be a waste of talent if every abnormal person is persecuted as insane or gone haywire. True, there are really insane people. But do we put the same label to everyone who is not like us? It would be great if each parents can nurture their children in a way that they can develop fully to their potential, without being perceived as ‘special’ or ‘spastic’ in their early age.

Difference is a way to say that you follow a different path than me, but ultimately we’ll end up playing our own role in this whole wide world, in a place truly belongs to us. Have you found your path today?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hands


When I was performing du’a after Zuhr prayer this afternoon, a thought ran across my mind.

“50 years from now on, if these hands are still alive, what will have they done by then? Will they cause more benefits than destructions on Earth or the other way around?”

I stopped my du’a momentarily and stare my palms. These two contraptions God gave to us all are the most causative than any part of our body. Yes, the brain thinks and the hands do, but brain all by itself is a useless bunch of firing neurons.

If we compare our hands with any part of our body anatomically, there is no other organ or limb that has a perfect balance of control and strength as our hands. Our eyeball muscles are extremely precise but very weak. Our heart muscles are very strong yet uncontrollable. With these two hands, we can use them from lifting heavy rocks to performing brain surgeries without compromising the quality of the jobs we have done.

But for Muslims, these two hands are also a symbol of our greatest weapon. Du’a IS the greatest weapon of a Muslim. I wondered for a long time of how this is possible. Is du’a enough to feed our families? Is it enough to win a war? Is it enough for us to enter the Paradise?

I pondered upon this question for a long time. Then the answer struck me. It is the greatest weapon because we know for sure that we are asking from the True God. Therefore for those unbelievers, either they are praying or not, it doesn’t matter because they ask the wrong guy.

Imagine if you’re applying for a post in a company. Praying to other beings is like asking the cleaners to give you a job as a manager. Instead, when you pray to Allah, it’s like you asking from a CEO to give you the job, which he can, but will he?

Here comes the works, the efforts that you must mount up, in order to gain what you want. Our weapon will be the greatest when we know how to use it. Then why are we still lagging way behind the unbelievers? It’s not because we don’t know how or who we must ask, but rather, what we lack is efforts.

We are always content on everything. Complacency is rampant throughout Muslim society. Thomas A. Edison, the inventor of light bulb, once said,

‘I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.’

This he said after he managed to find the correct material for light bulb filament, which he failed to do before, 10 000 times over. Why can’t we do better things than he already did? Supposedly we are Muslims, the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad, the best of all Ummahs, yet we can’t prove it?

Shame on us. Really.

This is also what he said.

“Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.”

So true. We, as an Ummah, is a living example of what he said. We ARE a failure. We have to admit that in order to move forward. Where do you think our social status lies as Malay Muslims? What have we achieved in all these years? In case you haven’t noticed, we are WAY behind.

So today, when you are performing du’a, make a firm belief in your heart that you will make the world better in one way or another, with your two hands. Because you can, only and if only you want to do it. If you really are committed to it, one day, 50 years from now, when you look at your hands during du’a, you know that they have served their purpose well.