Archive for November, 2012

Since the early 1990’s video games have had a huge surge in the market, and since the evolution of better visuals, sounds, game play and the eventual introduction to Massively Multiplayer Games we have come to realize that the gaming industry is one that shows no sign of slowing down. Video games have been a massive part of my up-bringing- staring from the Atari, moving on to the Nintendo, then Super Nintendo, Playstation and finally finding my heart and home in PC gaming i have grown to love the realm of video gaming. Yet something we tend to hear a lot these days is that video games have a bad influence on our youth, claims that the violent content breeds some violent people has been the cause of much controversy, debate and essentially nanny state laws on the legality of R -rated games as seen in my home country Australia.

The fact of the matter is the general accusation that violent video games causes a violent society is in its own right a hypocritical, outrageous and a speculative stance with very limited evidence. Even if we were to conceal the youths eyes from violent video games the truth is our television screens and internet will still provide them with all the gratuitous sex, violence, bad language, drug use and rebellious behaviour. There have been some groups out there that are so keen on banning video games that they have even made contact to government officials to place bans and laws making it impossible to even find “violent” video games on the market. Yet one must beg the question, if we are going to Ban violent video games because there is a supposed link to violent behaviour, we will have to then fend off all negative influences that may be seen by our children ; including television shows, films, books and internet access.?

Hitman Absolution- A “Trigger” to more violence?

There have been a few genuine cases where someone has committed a murder or a crime and directly blamed a video game for it- yet for the most part the video game blaming came from assertions made by family members and friends, not from the killers themselves– and even when the self confessed “gamers” have killed in the name of video games- we must question one thing. Is it possible they are just using the game as an excuse? We have seen such things before and it wouldn’t come to a surprise to me. We are so used to finding excuses for people, that we literally give them the opportunity to present it, and essentially accept it- even if not the truth. Isn’t it the similar case with religion? Many people that commit heinous crimes and murders literally said “God made me do it“- fact? Or a simple tool used to shift the blame away from their selves and onto something else?

The Columbine Massacre Shooters- Did games make them do it?

A classic example are the Columbine Massacre shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold Who shot dead 12 students and injured 21 others in 1999.

One of the supposed “reasons” to their shooting spree according to “psychiatrists” was their deep immersion and association with the shooter video game Doom. Then they also blamed Music, Goth Culture, Depression, Bullying and many more things. The problem with such ideas is that we are actively LOOKING for excuses as opposed to just accepting the fact that some people- regardless of their influences- intend wholeheartedly to do some evil things and sometimes they have NO reason, or no warranted reason at least. Yet these evil people recognize something; that society will actively look for reasons and excuses FOR them- even if these people were not to confess any rationale behind their attacks, rest assured society will make an excuse for them, which to me is a disturbing truth about the world we live in today.

Potential future Serial killers?

I grew up in my youth absolutely loving and adoring horror movies– i love gore; splatter fests; blood – you name it. I played violent (and not so violent) video games. I listened to music with bad lyrics. I had friends that were bad influences. I was severely bullied physically and mentally for 7 years of my life. It NEVER crossed my mind to do anything remotely evil like mimicking the movies and games that i enjoyed watching and playing. Some of my all time favourite horror movies were Halloween, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm street and the Chainsaw Massacre. I also enjoyed games like Mortal Kombat, Hitman, Max Payne, Grand Theft Auto and Postal 2. Did this have any effect on me? Not at all. It least likely will have that effect on anyone- and rest assured a majority of those that said it did effect them- are lying- because they can and because you will believe it.

Most studies have concluded that video games do not have a negative impact on society. I believe the banning of R rated games is a silly notion by the government and really puts on the Nanny Pants in its ideals, and really wears hypocrisy as spectacles. All of this is simply delusion- they ban R rated games and claim society is better for it- whilst the TV, FILM, Music and Internet industry explodes in abundance with not only the most vile of things- the scariest thing of all is that these resources highlight reality, not a virtual world.

Peace, Salam Alaykum

The Israeli-Gaza conflict has recently exploded the last few days with the two coming close to a blown out war, including plans for Israel in infiltrate into the ground, whilst dropping leaflets to the Palestinians in the region.  Thus far up to 20 Palestinians have been killed and so have 3 Israelis. Rockets have been firing to and fro the region with both sides technically blaming each other. If you have paid attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict you will see that this is nothing new, in fact the wheel has spun 360 degrees and we’re back to the breaking point, the current trend is nothing more than a cycle caused by stagnant progress and no resolution to the conflict between the two.

We need to look at the lead-up to such tensions and how this war will never end unless we see change. Amnesty International states in an October 2012  article that Israels Gaza Blockade is still operational (after 6 years) and still violating human rights. The 1.6 million Palestinians of Gaza have lived under an Israeli military blockade that has left more than one million Palestinians dependent on international humanitarian aid. The blockade also affects life in Gaza in other terrible ways.  As  reported in 2012, “Israeli authorities hindered or prevented hundreds of patients from leaving Gaza to obtain medical treatment.”  And Gaza workers and students find it all but impossible to leave the territory to pursue jobs or education elsewhere, even in the West Bank.

Missiles land into Gaza. Rockets paint the sky between Israel and Gaza in escalating violence.

The truth is despite weak “cease-fires” and temporary “truces” the two are constantly at each others throats and attacks have continued for years. Yet one must beg the question, when you look at the state of Palestine and the Palestinians we see an impending frustration but for the most part they are defenseless themselves and the attacks are mainly caused by “Hamas”- the political party that vows to protect Palestine. The general population of both nations would love peace, but peace does not come with simple words that drag out for years, where next to nothing is actually happening. Peace comes by being willing to compromise, question your own standing and reach out and make changes.  Imagine the frustrations of the Palestinian plight when we see that the blockade has reduced their quality to life, not to mention Israel going ahead with illegal settlement building that is steadily expanding its own borders.

Benjamin Netanyahu was speaking during a visit to Gilo after Israeli approval for the construction of 800 Jewish homes there sparked a sharp condemnation from EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton. Israel captured Gilo in the 1967 Mideast war from Jordan. Then it annexed the area to Jerusalem in a move that has not been recognized internationally. This example is not a Palestinian issue but really shows the significance in the Israeli cause to expand in any given opportunity and not having much care about the International community at large.

It also doesn’t help the Israeli cause that a recent poll conducted October 24th 2012 and published by “The Age” reveals that many Jewish citizens of Israel support discrimination against Palestinians, with 69 per cent advocating preference for Jews over Arabs in government jobs and 74 per cent in favour of segregated roads in the West Bank. The survey, commissioned by a private foundation, the Yisraela Goldblum Fund, revealed what past polling had suggested – that Israelis “accept the policies of separation“, said Dahlia Scheindlin, a public opinion analyst based in Tel Aviv.

Media reports Israel is acting in self defense- despite knowing the struggles of the Palestinians living in occupation and segregation.

Yet we must remember such polling cannot and will not account for all of the people, as only 500-600 people were polled. I will not, and never will curse every single Israeli or every single Jew based on mere opinion polls. Israel DOES have a right to defend, yet it must go on the offensive only to those committing an offense and the people of Gaza for the most part, and the Palestinians themselves are not doing anything to deserve unbalanced retaliation attacks. We hear though from the United States and other nations that Israel has a right to “defend itself”  and that no country should tolerate such random rocket attacks, yet one must beg the question- does the same calling for justice echo for the Palestinian people? What about their right for self defense? When Palestinians are having their olive farms destroyed by neighboring Israeli settlers… or When Palestinians are having their cars smashed in by rocks thrown by Israeli settlers… or When Israelis throw Molotov Cocktails at Palestinian taxis…or When spray paint that reads “Gas The Arabs” is sprayed by settlers in a Qurtuba girls school in Hebron… or When disturbing video is released of an Israeli war Museum where kids are saying “A dead Arab makes me happy” one must ask….When is it alright for the Palestinians to defend themselves without being branded as violent criminals  and terrorists? This isn’t propaganda, this is really happening.

Bottom line is this, the stagnant nature of any peace process is part of the problem. We must understand that things need to change in that region and that their fruitless gimmicks and word games need to end. Civilians should never be part of a war that is fought between two political entities that are eternal enemies. Unlike many of my Muslim counterparts i will not call for the destruction of Jews, Israelis or anything like that for that matter. I still believe that most people from both ends would much rather live in peace, than live in fear every day. Yet i feel that people need to understand the Palestinian position more before branding them as terrorists, they are a people that are walled into a tiny area, who have their goings and comings monitored, who have restricted medical, social and employment opportunities and who face opposition and discrimination almost daily. Yes, i know the hatred goes both ways but with every actions comes a reaction and when people have their wings snipped there is no way they can say nice things to those who carry the nippers.

20 Palestinians and 3 Israelis have died thus far in confirmed reports.

Any people under such occupation, restraint and humiliation would be angry and would retaliate, but the sad thing is the media does not see the Palestinian frustrations as retaliation but aggression- which is relatively ironic seeming it is the Palestinians that are occupied. A drastic change needs to be made, whether it is a change of power, change of resolutions or even a change of connections. As all this suffering goes on and continue to goes on we learn it’s not what you know but who you know. Many nations that promise to care for the multitude of the Palestinians turn away from them. Nations fear speaking out against Israel thinking it will crumble relations and security. Many nations have an unbreakable “allegiance” to Israel which oversees the many International controversies conducted by them. At the same time you have Arab nations that are allies to the United States who would rather the economic and social comforts of such a relationship than helping their brothers and sisters in Palestine. The injustice is relatively telling. The media is already echoing the Israeli accusation of “Pallywood” – claiming that Gazans are faking deaths and injuries to get sympathy.

This “desensitization” program won’t work with me. In the midst of chaos and an explosion (buildings are on fire all around them) it is quiet common for men to carry people around and away from the fires. In the case of the above video what if the man had fainted? Or felt faint? It is very easy to combat these accusations that Palestinians fake their own deaths and injuries by giving you a disturbing truth: how about this image of Jihad Mashawari – a BBC journalist holding the body of his dead 11 month old son Ahmad,  following an Israeli attack on their house on November the 14th. Are his emotions not real enough? Is this another “play”. I hope that baby is good at “playing dead“.

Accusations by the west and Israel of Palestinians using “Pallywood” (acting for sympathy) is damaging the actual heart and truth of this war &  is a product of “desensitizing” to ignore the suffering of the Palestinians.

I just want the sick cycle to end, and it never will unless something drastic happens. We must remember that a full blown war would be rather catastrophic, especially knowing Israels disproportionate “retaliatory” attacks. Do we forget when Israel decided to do a “full blown” attack on Lebanon in 2006 it resulted in the death of over 1,000 civilians? When you look at satellite imagery of Beirut before and after Israels “retaliation” for the capture of a handful of Israeli solders (and the death of one)? Such a war on a compact, tight and penetrable area like Gaza would be catastrophic, no matter how many leaflets you drop- the Palestinians have NOWHERE to go.

Israels disproportionate attack on Beirut in 2006 – The city before and after the “all out war” of which it plans with Gaza which will be on a much more critical scale. (Click on image for Animated GIF)

I hate the concept of war and i am more Pro-Palestine than i am Pro-Israel but it has nothing to do with my background, but it has plenty to do with the facts that have been displayed and the international outcry against many of Israels policies and aggression against other nations like Iran. The condemnation coming today is telling Hamas to halt their rocket attacks, yet has anyone ever thought if the occupation ended, if the aid blockade to Gaza ceased and if genuine peace talks were in place would we then see a change? It hasn’t been tried before. Call me crazy but could i be equating a halt to rocket attacks perhaps once there is a halt to the occupation? It’s  as easy as 1+1 but most are dissatisfied with such a simple calculation.

Peace.

Ah yes it is the word that we were constantly taught at school. Teachers that used to give us lectures about us “Minding our manners”, surely it is a concept that has been drilled into our heads since we were little kids, but little do we understand the importance of manners and its place in society in general. Working in an industry where i am dealing with up to 500 people face to face every day i have come to realize something more adequate than any newspaper study conducted with 2,000 people…It’s the fact that manners are on the decline, and not only by our youth but by the older generations too.

Manners is not a thing that is attached only to Children, indeed manners is something we are taught and it is a life long skill- a social skill. First thing is first, a simple “Please” or “Thank You” is getting more and more rare to hear, not to mention something as simple as a smile is hard to come across these days. People tend to forget that manners is the heart of character and if we lack manners, we lack character and if we lack character we lack personality. The destruction of manners is nothing less than the destruction of our very foundations.

It is beyond me how so many people could completely ignore a person, such as myself- who looks them in the eye and wishes them a great day. I personally know that if someone is directing their attention at me, and vocalizing towards me directly that i would not dare ignore them, in fact i would engage with their call; even if it lacks spirit; even if its monotonous.  When i come to think of the words “Please” and “Thank You” they are the ground and the roof of a conversation. The “Please” sets your foot on solid ground, giving your conversation a stability and trust. The word “Thank You” is the roof over the head of the conversation, it purifies the conversation and covers any ill or bad thought.

Muhammad & I In Oman.

We are lacking common courtesy and this is evident wherever we look. We have the elderly that scoff at the young, whilst the young wouldn’t even lower a hand to help the elderly. Chivalry dug itself deep into a grave and appreciation is a thing of the past. Today we are all simply vessels- bodies that are scurrying along to get from point A to point B and everything else in-between is simply an obstacle – something in the way- something blocking their path- best we avoid these things. Which is why i dare you to simply sit back at a bench in any busy city train station during peak hour- look at people run around in repetitive patterns, watch them huff and puff as they push their way passed others and look at the lack of eye contact, facial expression or general humanity.

Let us look at this example. A person is asking for the exact same thing in two very different ways, what sounds better to you?

Exhibit A) I’ll just have the bourbon and coke.
Exhibit B) Hi, can i please have the bourbon and coke? Thank You.

Exhibit A) Where can i find smith street?
Exhibit B) Excuse me? Do you know where i can find Smith street please?

Exhibit A) Turn the volume down!
Exhibit B) If you don’t mind, could you please turn down the volume?

We are not “too busy” or “too stressed” to practice a little thing like manners. It goes a long way. Manners makes a woman a Lady and a man a Gentleman. Manners are actions than ornament a persons character and one with good character is a personality that will never be forgotten. So never be afraid to say “Please, thank you, sorry, i appreciate it, you’re welcome, i am grateful, if you don’t mind and excuse me.” Do not be afraid to smile, even to a complete stranger and always remember that if someone is communicating with you- return your eyes to them and prompt your voice to speak. In one way or another we technically all work in some “customer service” related industry because someone is always intending to please someone else, so mind your manners both professionally and personally- if you don’t mind. :-).

Now enjoy these beautiful quotes on manners 🙂

‘The best among you are those who have the best manners and character.”
Prophet Muhammad

A man’s manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait. ”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Good manners is the art of making those people easy with whom we converse. Whoever makes the fewest people uneasy is the best bred in the room. ”
Jonathan Swift

Manners are one of the greatest engines of influence ever given to man. ”
Richard Whately