The tolerant Islam according to Steve Earle

 

Actually, in its purest form, Islam is incredibly tolerant. That makes what’s going on in the world really bizarre. – Steve Earle, an American singer-songwriter known for his rock, folk, and Texas Country.

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The iron fist against the masses

 

“We don’t kill our people…no government in the world kills its people, unless it’s led by a crazy person.” – Bashar al-Assad, currently Syrian president (and also a long-standing dictator), during his interview with American journalist Barbara Walters. Despite his ‘innocent-sounding’ statements, the military continues to conduct brutal crackdown against the opponents, which had claimed, as of the end of January 2012 – marking more than 10 months since the armed subjugation began, exceeding 6000 lives, 300 of whom were infants and children.

Reminiscing year of the dragon

 

“Seems like on every twelve-month passed, Chinese New Year seems similarly monotonous. Paying a visit to our distant relatives’ homes once in a year, talking about skeptical predictions of this country, asking how the businesses transpire throughout the season, and having some kwatji (Hokkien words for stir-fried melon seeds) and small-shaped cakes to devour on. That’s all what we’re doing.”  My dad came out with this statement while we had just been back from going round our distant relative’s house, whom we do really visit merely once in a year. Their house, as I could say, is not too distant from ours, and even can be inferred as ‘a stone’s throw away’, if you try to reach it using vehicles.

I envy those who celebrate it to the fullest. When I was looking around social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter or Blackberry Messenger, I saw that many of my friends uploaded pictures taken, showing how they excitingly interacted with, be it their cousins, nieces, nephews, or any distant relatives from cities beyond Medan or countries beside Indonesia. Some of them even celebrated it with their classmates, paying a visit to their beloved teacher (hopefully I did it on the fourth day of Chinese New Year). A few commemorated it by holding a big feast with their grand-big families.

Looking back at everything they had done, all I could conclude, among many of the friends I’ve known before, was that we used to, and are still used to, having the most ‘un-special’ annual Chinese New Year celebration.

 

 

Seriously, I had no idea over what to do while being in someone’s hearthstone other than accepting red pockets, getting some snacks they had prepared on the living room, quothing ‘happy Chinese New Year’ to once-in-a-year distant relatives (just these sets of syllables, simply speaking), and listening to my parents’ conversation, in which they frequently did only once per annum, as well.

Let me confess further of what I actually did during the festivities celebrated by the bulk of almost 1.5 billion Chinese people worldwide. On the first day, we held it in our grandmother’s home (of paternal side, as both from the maternal had so long deceased), and it was also the day where we spent almost half a day taking care of grandmother, as my uncle and his family, who have been staying  altogether with her for so long, had to pay a visit to his wife’s siblings’ families. We had been doing this same thing over and over ever since we moved to our new house in 2000, as her husband had passed away. Moreover, she currently suffers from Parkinson’s disease, but of lighter symptoms.

Instead, to kill the boredom induced by accompanying our parents, I brought a laptop to take a look at every file I had saved from Internet, and my younger brother took school textbooks to finish all the homework. During the interval, I had chat with what I dub as ‘youngest aunty and uncle ever’; they both are children of my grandmother’s younger sister, but the duo are still in their 20s. After almost half an hour, as I conjectured, I went on ‘having a virtual trip’ over my laptop, scanning through myriad Microsoft Word documents I had long copied from many web-sites, but even never managed to ‘touch’ it.

Geez, I took a look at myself. What a nerd I am. That’s how my mind responded when I took a brief look at the mirror of my grandmother’s room. (it’s where while I awayed the time sticking my eyes against the Hewlett-Packard) My dad and my mom were out there greeting all the guests coming into our grandmother’s house, but I and Dicky, my younger brother’s name, spent time playing laptop and PSP! (note: if he’s surrounded by tedium, his big, rounded eyes may goggle at that device, no matter if he’s accomplished either his homework or his lessons’ reviews)

And our main job was only to receive red pockets, as I’ve said before, and outspoken ‘Gong xi!’ to the masses. I swear, to be honest, that sometimes I forgot how to call our seniors (you know, Chinese customs in calling the elders are complicating, because there’s differentiation to ‘second uncle’ to ‘third uncle’, ‘grandmother’ in maternal and paternal side, and so on). To simplify, I simply called all of them, either ‘uncle’ or ‘aunty’. That’s all, even if it always means a tremendous error.

 

 

Another thing that I did, while we were being guests at others’ houses, was dallying over the Blackberry’s trackballs. My ears hearkened to my dad’s conversation (most of the time, all he did was talking about politics and, a bit sensitive one, ‘how’s your business?’) with the male counterparts, be it my dad’s father’s business partner (a tax consultant), my mom’s distant relative’s husband (whose address I have mentioned earlier in the first paragraph, or my mom’s elder sister’s sons. I bet, almost half of the words related were all about our country’s situation, and spoken in skeptical manner. Ranging from labor protests demanding higher pay, a heating political temperature towards the 2014 presidential election, candidates they perceive as ‘potentially dangerous’, and in the long run, the slap-bang, obnoxious attitude of vehicle drivers along the roads and streets.

If my Blackberry’s battery was down, I opted to read comic books. That’s what I did while we were in my dad’s elder sister’s – or what we, the youngsters, should call gugu, or ‘aunty’ – home. She invited us to have a lunch (no, just call it a ‘feast’, then) there because she had specially cooked chicken’s rib curry, fried pieces of chicken, and stewed snaps to all of the big family, including my grandmother and my uncle’s. Having been slaked by the delicacies, I got myself back into my own imaginary world, relaxingly munching my thought through every single page of Karriage Kun comic books I borrowed from my cousins (my aunt’s sons, anyway), whom I widely acknowledge as a sarcastic way of viewing into the daily life of a Japanese office worker which unavoidably provokes stomach-shuffling laughter. What a nerd I am, back and again.

 

Just observe who’s the naughtiest one depicted in the picture. That’s Karriage.

 

Yet, the celebration this year was a bit more special as some of my classmates (of 2-Social-1) invited me to pay a visit to our form teacher’s house, the woman whom we have considered more as a ‘friend’ and ‘a great company to outpour all our personal feelings’ than as simply a teacher. This has never happened many years prior back in my high-school life, but I just feel simply happy enough that there’s a bit time left to interact with the teacher and my classmates, while she was preparing bowls of noodle soup by her own. This was how I closed the rejoicing, by racking in the thinly-shaped noodles, and the round-shaped fishballs, pieces by pieces. It’s the part where I really enjoyed it.

Reminiscing back into the past, the way how we cherished the Chinese New Year was persistently still as ‘unimmoderate’ as ever. I am running out of ideas of how to make such an ‘out-of-the-box’ festivity during the holidays. Guess like I need to learn meditation for some flush of inspiration.

But, anyway, my dad’s word of ‘monotonous’ was proven correct. At least he recognized it.

 

 

The world according to Adora Svitak

 

In a world that becomes increasingly complex and more intricate than ever, with population approaching the 10 billionth mark and beyond, it can be inferred that more problems will emerge, and may require solutions that have never been used before to solve problems in the past.

The question is: if we have brand-new ideas which may sound totally novel, too imaginary, or perhaps – as the adults may call it – overtly ‘childish’, are we ready to implement them in our daily lives?

Adora Svitak, now a 14-year-old child prodigy who has had authored 3 best-selling books, instead proposes a notion which sounds contradictory in the masses’ minds: be proud to be ‘childish’ (but not in terms of daily behaviors). It’s true that we can’t cling on the similar solutions as the main approach to resolve different problems, and that’s where the ‘childish’ term discovers its own omnipotence. To prove that, she has currently organized a TEDx event (find it: TEDxRedmond, to ease out your search, as there have been more than 2000 TEDx events held worldwide), which is mainly aimed for the ‘nation’s below-18 best and brightest’. To date, she has invited adventurers, entrepreneurs, artists, writers, activists, critics, scientists, musicians, and philanthropists – all of whom are aged below 18 – to give out their best ideas to help creating a better world in the youth-only conference.

Will you agree on her notion?

Listen to her TED Talk here about being ‘childish’ enough to change the world.

And read more at her latest blog to know in full depth and insight the world according to Adora Svitak.

Beauty craze in South Korea

 

It may be some sort of rarity in South Korea for either any actors or actresses to have had admitted attaining what the youth dashingly dub as ‘ul-jjang’, or ‘best face’  in Korean, through plastic surgery, which are sometimes life-threatening. But, to say the least, some have confessed having so, one example revealed by a South Korean actress, Nam Gyu-ri (pictured above).

Plastic surgery has increasingly become a must-have trend among the youth in a country, driven by its spectacular economic growth the world hailed as ‘being miraculous’, which has enabled millions of citizens there to have their faces beautified, commonly under the knife. According to surveys by various media sites, in particular BBC and CNN, it is estimated that more than 50% of the population aged 20s have had in minimum one form of plastic surgery, excluding other treatments. Within the celebrities, the actual figure may be even higher, as some put in more than 90%. What’s worse, for the first time in Korean history, statisticians have recorded more plastic surgery than healthcare clinics in terms of quantity, while the populace, currently numbered at 50 million, is gradually aging, obviously shown by its near-zero population growth.

What’s your opinion?

 

Read more at BBC NEWS (2005 version) and The New York Times.