Thursday, 31 March 2011


This post is going to summarize a great deal of noise I hear about how Islam is worse than other religions and how much fear and violence Muslims spread. I will then explain why that kind of characterization is false by comparing it to other religions and events in the world.

One of the big arguments is that wherever there are Muslims there is violence.
Yes, that's true, but that's true about almost any given (exclusive) group in the world. Any group with some kind of ideology has committed violence.
Some examples of this would be: (very simplified, but I can go into details if anyone asks for them)
- Sri Lanka : This is where Buddhists (supposedly another religion of peace) Sinhalese people killed thousands of Hindu Tamils.
- Ireland/UK : Catholics vs Protestants (Fixed, thanks to AG)
- China : Government vs students
- Rwandan genocide : Tutsi & Hutu
- Biafran war : Igbo vs others
- Congo
- Drug Crime in Mexico
- FARC in Columbia

Basically every place with people who have a strong sense of identity to a group (self-identified and/or imposed) has had violence there, which is a main reason why there seems to be a lot of violence with Muslims. It's a group which has very strong ties to certain ideologies. Additionally, consider the fact that Stalin (a non-theist) murdered millions of people, how can you keep saying that just Islam carries violence?

It's part of humanity. Humans everywhere have been fighting for one reason or another and it all basically boils down to power.

Muslims are trying to take over the world
This makes as little sense as saying this about any group in the world. Islam is as fractious as any other large group in the world. Muslims are not all controlled by some master brain which tells them do go forth, kill, multiply and conquer...
Most ideologies do try to advertise themselves as the best or only ideologies that matter, which is true of many religions but also of other things such as political ideologies. People who are politically on the right would almost automatically dismiss whatever people on the left of the aisle are saying no matter what it is, and vice versa.

Islam is no different in this regard and does try to get more and more people to join, but this is also true of Christianity, but would you say Christians are trying to take over the world ?

Islam is a religion of hatred and warmongering
I don't even think I should bother with this one. But basically what people do is find verses in the Quran that tells someone to murder people and this way justifies that the whole religion supports murdering people.
You can do this with the Bible and the books of most religions or ideologies in the world too.

Muslims get all the social benefits in the country they live in but would not offer any if it became a Muslim country
Have you thought that maybe they came to these countries because they like these benefits and it would be something they would not want to change ?

They want to institute Sharia Law everywhere
It's funny you'd say that when it is exactly Muslims who are fighting with their lives right now to become democracies. They are doing the exact same thing the French did in 1789 !
A lot of Muslims want to be able to have Sharia alongside civil law, yes that much is true, but people who live in Western countries or most of them do not want to institute stoning and so on which is part of the original form of Sharia law just as it is in the Torah or Bible.

This is a very old trick people use where Muslims - all of them - are lumped together in one group, called "They". People do not realize that similarly to any other group in the world, Islam and Muslims are divided into many sub-religion and sub-beliefs. The two most famous ones are Shia and Sunni Islam, which are the two main denominations, but then each of these are divided yet again into smaller systems of belief.
To lump all Muslims into one big black pot is the same as saying that all blondes are stupid.

Last but not least
Islamophobes would certainly keep finding out things to say against Muslims. They will scour the net for news about Muslims hurting others. However, they would miss everything else in its entirety.
They would miss the news in the Ivory Coast where Muslims are being attacked by Christians under Gbagbo.
They would miss the news of Muslims being attacked by Hindus in India and Pakistan.
They would miss the news about China arresting bloggers speaking their mind as I am now.
They would however find out about every single Muslim attacking non-Muslims in the whole world. Of course, there are more than a billion Muslims and a big part of them live in countries with faithful of other religions, so it makes sense there would be attacks between them.

Inherent Fear
This fear of Islam and Muslims seems to coincide with the fall Communism. People seem to need to fear something. After World War II, the West feared the big bad Red wolf of Sovyet Russia. Now that the big bad wolf is only a medium-sized wolf, a new lion has emerged that makes people afraid again. Islam is a very efficient tool for politicians to use to rally people to a shared cause, similar to the Crusades in the Middle Ages. Beware the big green lion of Islam, he's going to eat you!

Similarly to how kids get scared of monsters under the bed and how parents make sure that they would not leave their beds in the middle of the night. Fear of Islam is used to justify massive scale wars, it is used to justify the occupation by foreign troops of two countries.
Of course a lot of people start hating the West when all they see the West is doing is sending battleships, destroyers, gunships, fighters, bombers, UAVs into their (neighboring) countries !

There are many other examples like these in the world which try to defame all of a certain faith or belief system by tying everyone of the system together and putting bad connotations to all of them.
Yes, there are bad Muslims out there who condone violence and step out for it. There might even be a great amount of them numbering in the millions, but most Muslims are like any other human being and all they want is to live their lives in peace, take care of their family and so on.
I believe that this fear of Islam is something that is taught to children in a way very similar to West/East indoctrination of kids during the Cold War where each side taught that the other one was bad and wrong.
Unfortunately my blog is not going to change much of this, if any.
And I might of course be wrong about everything I'm saying, but probably not.

I hope this makes you think about something...

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

A Difficult Period

When you're facing a hard time, think about this:

Diamonds are formed under immense pressure for millions of years.
But if you refuse to break and manage to hang on.
Someone will dig you up, set you free and you will be a gem.
Tough, sparkling and beautiful.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Blogging Audience

Blog Stats
Before I start this entry I need to explain something. There is something you can do on this website and probably other blogging sites too. There is something called "Blog Stats" and what it is is basically a tool that lets you view how many people have visited your page but also what kind of browser they're using, which website referred them to the blog and most important of all for this post is where these people are looking at your blog from.

Is It Just Me ?
I'm not sure if I'm the only blogger who actually cares and looks at them. I find it very interesting. I'm wondering if other bloggers regularly check where their audience comes from. I know of at least one other blog I read whose writer regularly checks which website he got his readers there, since he had made a post about it. However, other blogs don't seem to show anything about who is reading them. I've only started this blog last night but I'm already checking where my readers are from.

Weird Results
Some of the statistics are quite obvious and make a lot of sense. I am currently in Australia and have studied in the UK before, so it makes sense that I have readers from these places, but what seems pretty strange is that I also have readers from Hungary, Finland and Germany.

I feel quite content about my blog so far. I have actually gotten almost 50 views already in one day. I had expected something like this to not reach many people at all, and I know that 50 is nothing compared to some world-famous bloggers, but I find it quite nice to actually have reached people in my first day.

Who Are My Readers And What Do They Think ?
For some reason, having started writing this blog has made me feel the need for approval on this blog. I keep wondering:

  1. Who is actually reading this nonsense ? 
  2. These are just the musings of my mind ! How can this even be interesting to other people ?
  3. Do these people actually like what I'm writing or are they just reading because they are bored out of their minds and need a pastime ? 
  4. Could it be just another way for other students to procrastinate ?
The answers to these questions aren't a matter of simplicity. Having cited that the readers of my blog are already worldwide and this is the tiniest of blogs on the "blogosphere" - as they call it in the professional blogging circle - there must be some kind of common factor to this, or maybe not ?

My Thoughts
I think that most people reading this are probably bored out of their minds, but I might be wrong. Maybe some people think that reading this might give them more of an insight on the world as I see it, which I guess might be interesting to some. I read blogs that I find interesting or entertaining myself. I only read two blogs regularly and sometimes a few others if someones points me towards it. One regards one of my hobbies, computer games and the other is an actuality/way of life/politics/news blog which I find to be very well-written.

For now I haven't written much about any one topic, so I guess, that for now people are reading this out of curiosity too.
Yeah, didn't I say this wouldn't be a simple answer ?

I think that most other bloggers probably keep checking their views every day too. It's just so fun to see the number of views go up every hour or so.

Well, I would bet an empty plastic water bottle you never thought about this before !

Degree Inflation

Don't expect daily posts, but I haven't written about anything before so, I have a great deal to share.
There is something very worrying about universities right now I believe. Forty-fifty years ago, having a Bachelor's degree meant you were a really smart and progressive person in the world. Many people were school dropouts and otherwise would certainly dropout of university. All that mattered were your skills, intelligence and ability to impress in an interview. However, having a bachelor's degree meant you were smart, there was no need to prove it anymore.

Nowadays, people study for their bachelor's, their master's and their PhD's and might still not find jobs. Almost everyone has a bachelor's degree now and it's like the 3-4 years you have spent in university don't mean a thing. In Belgium and Australia having a bachelor of science or engineering would not even get you a job in either industries. You need a master's degree in engineering to actually find a job in engineering, since you would not be accredited in the country to work as an engineer otherwise. It's becoming close to medicine. I think this is frightful. Soon enough you might need a doctorate to just find decent work in your field of study. This means the youngest professionals would be 26 years old with at least £60000/€70000/$95000 in debt and earning nothing more than a bachelor's degree would have earned you 10 years ago. They will also be expected to work until they are 70 years old in the Western countries with the rising pension age.

Add to this that wages haven't been keeping up with inflation and they might even have to work well into their eighties to even secure enough money to retire. Unfortunately, by then they wouldn't be able to enjoy their retirements. This is the prospect of your children.

Add to that the fact that if your degree is not from universities of the Ivy League or OxBridge (and a few others) your CV is thrown to the bottom of the stack. These places are full of geniuses... Why would employers want you if you got your degree from the University of Blahblah ? So not only did you work your ass off for 8 years, you would still be asking for unemployment benefits or going to work for McDonald's.

Another option might be to move to another country where they are in need for people who studied what you did and hope there are no IvyBridge people thinking the same thing as you did. I am pretty sure there will be another degree soon, probably in the same form as the medicinal specialization degreed, so an engineering student would have to decide not only what field of engineering (e.g. chemical, electrical,...) but also a deep specialization (e.g. renewable energies -> wind power). I believe this would be the most natural progression of degrees. Of course, this is only if we don't end up in a radioactive abyss caused by nuclear power plants and/or weapons..

I'm going to end up with a Masters in Engineering in a year's time, I wonder how much it will be worth by then. What about you ?

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Travel to Mars ?

Have you ever thought about travelling into space ? Lately I have. I spoke about this to some people. Apparently all the technology to travel to Mars is there. There is even talk about  sending a manned mission to the moon and found a colony there in the 2020's as a stepping stone to Mars. There have already been tests about growing our own food in space. Sending equipment to Mars has already been done as there are about a dozen Rovers on the surface. So all that is needed is to build a spacecraft and some people willing to travel there. According to very rough calculations, it would take at least, at the very least 60 days to get there if everything runs smoothly. There certainly are risks to a mission such as this, but wouldn't it be an inspiring thing if man could finally travel to Mars, a planet featured in so many movies, tv-shows, documentaries, books,... Wouldn't it just be amazing ?

Well, now we come to the practical side of things. A mission like this has many disadvantages, risks, costs and so on.

The first thing we would need to think about  is the astronauts' safety. Would they be able to get there safely ? Would they be able to come back safely ? Apparently all of this has been thought and discussed by NASA and probably other space agencies in the world too. One controversial idea that has been floated around by ex-employees of NASA is sending out astronauts on a one-way trip. This would reduce the risk of the mission tremendously, but would in essence mean that the astronauts would be stuck on a planet far, far away for the rest of their lives or until the technology becomes good enough to get them back easily.
All the other risks of space travel would still exist though, such as radiation on Mars' atmosphere and the demineralization of the bones of the astronauts.

A project like this would cost billions of dollars, pounds, euros and trillions of yens or nairas. There would be need for several missions. One to send equipment to Mars before the astronauts get there so they can start building their colony there. Another missions would be to build a spaceship fast enough to actually keep a consistent fast speed to actually get the astronauts there in 60 days. All of these things would demand the work of thousands of engineers for years to design, develop and assemble all the parts.

Ethics ?
There would outrage from some people to actually send people with no hope for return to a planet so far away. For some people this might mark the pinnacle of human achievement and maybe the entering of the space age, but for others this would just be considered a suicide mission. If only this were simple.

On the other hand
Would it be possible for this to be achieved if it were done as a partnership between all of today's space nations, which include the US, Russia, China, India, Japan and the EU ? Would this help keep the costs down per nation to an acceptable level ? Would it maybe get the world to start working together to a common goal ? It would also reduce the chance of a Space (Weapon) Race... Maybe going to Mars might actually help the world for once. Instead of rivalry and war, maybe this would actually help unite the world ? *sigh* I'm probably too optimistic and this might result in many weapon satellites being sent into orbit instead.

However, even if just one country gets to send astronauts to Mars and establish a real self-sustaining colony. This might finally result in a new abundance of resources and space. New companies would establish mining facilities on Mars and the moon. People would start relocating there, and really a whole new age formed.

Technology ?
Now you might ask me... Are you crazy ? We're at least 50 years behind on the technology  required to colonize a planet! But we aren't. We went on the moon in 1969 and yes at the time we were actually just experimenting with space travel. Now however, the capabilities of Earth's technology surpasses what we had 40 years ago by a massive amount. New super-light alloys can be used to build spaceships, better calculations can be performed using regular computers now than some of the supercomputers in the 60's.
We can build spaceships that can go to Mars. We can build spaceships to send equipment there.

I am very skeptical of the prospects. Official estimates put a colony on the moon in the next decade. On mars in two or three decades. At the rate we are going, I don't think we would see a colony on the moon until 2030. This means we would have to add another two decades to that before we reach Mars for full-on colonization. By then unfortunately I would be too old to travel there myself.

Well, have you ever thought about this ?