Saturday, September 27, 2008

Progeria: A Disease You've Probably Never Heard Of

You might think the above picture is a fake, some kind of photoshop trick, but I can safely tell you its not.

It might seem like something straight out of science fiction, but Progeria is actually a very real disease. What happens to individuals suffering from this affliction? Well it affects only children and causes premature aging and growth stunting among other symptoms. The children who have the disease have small and weak bodies, and what might be considered a creepy appearance.

Extremely rare, most children who suffer from Progeria don't live past 13 years of life and die of heart disease. Progeria sufferers' unusual appearance may be likened by some to that of 'Greys' or the typical 'Alien' figure. A large head on top, big eyes and strangely proportioned features.

Babies born with the disease appear normal, but eventually start to display symptoms such as loss of body fat, aged looking skin, stiff joints and another affliction called atherosclerosis.

Like quite a few diseases, if you're unlucky enough to be born with it, then that's quite simply that. Since its not a common disease its practically unheard of in the mainstream. But just because its unheard of doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

I suppose there should be a point to this post... some life changing gleam of light? In this case, nope... sorry. Maybe you didn't know it was out there... but now you do.

I leave you with this video:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Melechesh, the Middle Eastern Metal Titans

My good friend Kelum happened to copy a few metal albums which were somewhat off my regular listening genres. One of the bands was Melechesh, an Israel heavy metal outfit formed in 1993.

These Middle Eastern metal titans are said to be the originators of Mesopotamian metal, a blackened heavy metal genre blended with Middle Eastern tunes and melodies. They are heavily influenced by Mesopotamian/Sumerian tunes and melodies which are quite significant in their riffs and drum patterns. To add to the power, the lead vocalist Ashmedi’s powerful screeches give a distinctive dark tone to the whole music.

Since their formation they have released a totall of 7 recordings consisting of 3 EPs and 4 full-length albums. Their latest album “Emissaries” released under the popular French record label Osmose Productions in 2007 carries a powerful stack of Middle Eastern melodies are unique and refreshing.

Currently based in Netherlands, the band recently signed with Nuclear Blast records and we all can definitely hope for something different and distinctive in the time to come.

The Song I have embedded here is called “Genies, Sorceres & Mesopotamian Nights” and is from their second full-length album Djinn, which was released in 2001. Check out the awesome melodic riff towards the middle of the track.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Life is complicated....

I cannot remember my life ever being this complicated, these were the thoughts that swum in to my head as I lazed out on the couch with a bottle of ice-cold Carlesberg. Yes, life is complicated I thought, the hazy greenish image of my surroundings viewed through the bottle added to the feeling.

My parents were off to Hikka for the weekend- the reason I took the liberty of sipping a beer in the living room. In a way it seems strangely ironic; I mean in the eyes of many I should be living the ' life', hard work and dedication paved my entrance into Medical School only to find an even more competitive environment. Everyone here works hard! Studying is required not to get good grades but to pass, sleepless nights are reserved not only for eager beavers but rather seems to be the norm.

For the last three weeks my life has been revolving around Physiology, Anatomy and Biochemistry. I have been assured by my seniors that life gets even more hectic ( boy, i can't wait!)- "malli, first year eke monawada ban padan karanne clinical appointments patan gannakan innako."

Add to this my complicated and rather heartbreaking relationship status; my ex girlfriend broke up with me... why? because I didn't have time for her... Understandable, lectures and practicals till four and studying until midnight.. I doubt many 18 year old girls would put up with that kind of schedule... so fair enough, I understand why it didn't work.

But, then the bomb.. I love her... I know that the subject of love is a much hackneyed topic.. but in the spirit of all the cliche quotations, I loved her and maybe she loved me even more, which makes it kind of hard to let go..

Add to this the fact that she still needs time to figure out where our relationship is going and the fact that she's still not sure if we are on a break or broken up. Man life sucks!

That's not all.. a couple of days ago a very close friend of mine in Uni ( close friend because we hang out with the same clique and she saves a seat for me in lectures and not because we've known each other for that long)... suddenly sprung yet another surprise.

Apparently she had had a crush on me for over an year, back in the day's we used to go for A/L tuition classes. She is rather good looking, even appearing in a couple of commercials which had obviously drawn a quite a few batch mates and even a couple of seniors towards her. I do not know why she chose to tell me this, maybe it was because I had broken up with my girlfriend for two years, maybe it was the stress of undergraduate education or maybe she just wanted to see if I was interested.

I wasn't as I said earlier, I really did love my girlfriend... and would have done anything to salvage the relationship, though I suspect it is a little too late for that now. Anyways Bawa lives in hope that someday his love will be vindicated...

In any case, the fact that the two of us hangout together in Uni had caused a bit of friction and a lot of gossip. With the latest development, it is little bit weird to hang around with the same clique, which has seemingly sparked even more gossip!

Hmmm... my beer is almost finished now... got to go start studying histology, if life wasn't bad enough already! Maybe I'll continue later, maybe I won't; depends on how much beer I can find in the fridge and how much free time I've got...

"So was I once myself a swinger of birches;
And so I dream of going back to be."
-Robert Frost

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Defense Columns; for that Weekly Dose of War

For any one who get their hands on some local newspapers on a weekend, its nothing but an action packed drama unfolding. Of course I don’t know whether it’s something to be proud or not, but the content is set up just to thrill you off. The war which intensifies day by day in north and the terror attacks that have gripped Colombo have made the Defense reports quite interesting. Of course any regular internet user would be able to swfitly get the latest updates from various sites and defense blogs, but the masses most of the time depend heavily on these columns to get an analysis over the week's warfront situation. It all starts with the local version of “Early Edition” with all Sunday Sinhala medium newspapers being available form Saturday morning onwards.

Well, I am not a thorough reader since my enthusiastic thirst for dedicated reading simply started to decay after it was replaced by other interests. But the short breather I get during a Saturday morning hangover is mostly devoted for some news paper gazing. After a quick glance through the main page it’s straight into the defense column. The varying contrasts you can find on the local Sinhala and English medium newspapers on defense reporting are quite interesting. Of course the Sri Lankan press seems to be heartfully following one of the basic lessons in marketing, being Customer Oriented. This is one thing that the press seems to have perfected, at least on defense reporting. Why I say so is that most of the time the newspapers present the news in a way target readership would like to view regardless of how further it can be from the actual incident.

The Sinhala medium papers are all out against the tiger terrorists and one could hardly find any Blunders or a Diabolical committed from the warfront. Whether it be Lankaadeepa or Lakbima, everyone (at least the defense writers) seem to be reporting how great we did on the battlefront, no matter how politically motivated the paper is. This is in sharp contrast to their English medium counterparts, who some times seem to have a soft spot for Mr.Prabhakaran and the Tamil Rebels. For instance the defense reporters from Lankadeepa and Sunday Times, Sunil Jayasinghe and Ikbaal Athas seem to be having two varying and highly contrasting point of views over their analysis on what happened on that week though they are from the same publishing group; Wijaya News Papers.This trend i suppose is mainly to cater to the tastes of thier target audiences and to offer whtat they would like to see.

Iqbaal Athas according to my view is one of the best veteran defense reporters out there, we all know about his defense reporting and his first hand information which he claims to be getting from highly placed sources. So if you feel that some times tamilnet might be saying at least a bit of a truth then it might be the time that you get that week’s copy of Sunday Times as Athas’s defense column is straight and in your face about some of the blunders that may have happened in the battle front. But then again some of his reporting raises the highly debatable question of being responsible journalism. Well I am not here to judge the ethical aspect of defense reporting (which may be a topic for another post), but I’ve got to say the varying contrasts are further visible in some of the Sinhala newspapers also.

Defense reporters like Thissa Ravindra Perera from Rivira and Keerthi Warnakulasooriya from Divaina are most of the time hardlined and all out against terrorism. Though Thissa’s Column most of the time seem to be a bit exaggerated, one thing I hold high about the Divaiyna defense column is that it features some interesting attempts on investigative journalism.

The best defense column by far for me is the LakbimaNews defense column by Ranga Jayasooriya. His column is quite interesting to read, touches upon much smaller details and has an attractive narrative. He narrates many incidents such as smaller skirmishes and fierce encounters with first hand details. His criticisms are strong and to the point, and don’t seem raise much controversy as Iqbaal’s.

To finish of I must say that this post is just a pen down of my opinions on local defense columns and only have touched upon some of the papers that I get my hands into. Also not being literate in Tamil language has prevented me from citing those opinions. The war has reached its peaks; refugee crisis, terrorist attacks and Army’s advancement to the tiger hinterland have all made defense reporting more significant than ever before.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Silence is Golden???

Apart from libraries, funeral parlours and such places where you should keep your mouth shut out of obligation, I always condemned the adherence to this statement. Since in my view, talking was essential (to a good extent) to build and maintain relationships and to lose the boredom and monotony of remaining “silent”.

Yet as the years go by I’ve come to learn that there are many instances where “silence” can indeed be golden. The cases are many, yet here I will be expressing my views only in the light of romantic relationships, or in a much common term, love affairs.

It is a traditional and almost fully Asian view that one party should give in more often than the other in conflict situations in your love lives, and often the ‘giving in’ party was the woman. This sexual division of the ‘giving in’ position has definitely changed over time because today we find both sexes in this position.

I personally think that although the ‘winning’ party in the argument (big or small) may feel that he/she is the more dominant and powerful of the two, it is actually the ‘giving in’ party who is more powerful, intellectually and emotionally.

Saying nothing at all in love’s conflicts is sometimes the best option and the best defense/attack because not only does it save the relationship but also gives the ‘winning’ party a sense of loss when there is no direct and offensive argumentative defense from the other. Hence, the ‘winning’ party too may realize that it was very wise of the ‘giving in’ party to give in.

Thus I believe that Love can be maintained and developed smoothly by sometimes remaining “silent”. We should not however forget that the course of true love never does run smooth. Yet may be sometimes, fewer the words spoken (negatively), longer the love may last. May be.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Poya: The Best Thing Ever

Ever heard that argument that Poya is a really bad thing? That it's ruining the economy of Sri Lanka because of all the days where the country is essentially closed?

Well that might be true in a way, but really would you want to give up your Poya holiday? I certainly wouldn't and I think that instead of this country giving up its Poya, the whole world should take a break once a month! I'm sure the employees of companies aren't going to complain.

The people who are going to complain are of course the people who own companies and stand to lose a great deal of profit and potential sales on the days that offices are closed. I probably would too if I owned a company!

It seems to me that the world is running just for the benefit of these relatively small minority of people. What everyone else wants to do in this system that we live in, which I believe many misleading dub 'Capitalism'... is that we strive to carve out our own slice of the pie.

Or to someday have the dream of being a landowner. In some of the ancient empires of the past that was the slaves dream, to one day become free and then own their own plot of land.

So that's what're all doing today. We strive to get as high as possible in the system that we inherit. But our system today has so much wrong with it including the fact that the world's resources are being consumed at an alarming rate and that pesky global warming issue.

The majority of the world are workers, who do the grunt work, the dirty work that is relatively lower paid. While its arguable that its better to have a situation where the person who has more responsibility should also get paid more, it goes against this whole democracy ideal of being fair.

Why? Well simply put, like I told some people who did management stuff with me, not everyone in the world can be a manager now can they? Out of ten people for example, only one can become the manager of that group, the rest have to become followers.

Stress and other urban problems are on the rise these days, and since the vast majority of the world's population are workers, don't you think they might deserve a holiday or two? It seems we spend so much of our lives just working. In the UK there is something like a whopping 4 holidays for the entire year! Would people anywhere complain about the chance to sit back and relax once in a while? I highly doubt it!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Go Home Gay People... Love is not for You!

Think about love. What comes to your mind? Happy and warm fuzzy feelings? Great perfect times with that chick or guy you're with or dreaming about? Is that what you're thinking about? Well forget about all that.

I recently came across a post on another blog(extraordinary tales of an ordinary man - or something like that!) that compelled me to put this one down. This post is about gay or homosexual people and the concept of love.

Typically love is seen as being between a man and a woman. Why? I don't know the answer to that one. But one of the common arguments used against homosexual relationships is that it simply isn't natural. I see. By natural this means that normal sexual reproduction isn't possible.

Ok I get that. But then are we saying love is simply about sexual reproduction? That's it? If there isn't any reproduction going on then it isn't love? Oh I see. Of course the clever people who came up with this idea should also then lump in couples where one individual is infertile. Love is no longer taking place here either, after all it isn't natural as someone is unnaturally broken. Advice... find another 'natural' person.

No... but that's different because it's still a man and a woman. So? Then it goes back to 'Love must be between a man and a woman'. Then you ask 'why?'. Then it goes back to reproduction... and we then go in a never ending loop.

Going back to my post on suicide, society has a way of protecting itself against what it perceives as harmful to itself. In the same manner that a person committing suicide would reduce the population, gay couples would do the same in a different fashion. Furthermore if you sanction one gay couple, how many more are going to spring out of the woodwork? Then it becomes a problem...

But then consider this. In ancient Greece (this may have been only Athens) true love was considered to be possible only between two men. Yes you read that right... two men! Women were apparently too dumb to truly love... but that's another matter. In that society the men still got married but they had their gay relationships as well.

Interestingly enough women in that society had 3 functions:

The wife: was for rearing children. She had to be of a good background for the sake of the children.

The Concubine: Was simply for pleasure

The servant: Was for all other needs (needs being a very loose term)

Then their were all the gay occurrences between men as well. But that society overcame it's population problem as the men still got married and had children.

Now I gave an example of how a society was somewhat gay and still managed to survive. Some people say being gay is a choice... I don't know, I don't have any knowledge about that. What I do know is that I like women, and at no point in time did I make a choice to do so. It just simply is. And even if it is a choice... do we have the right to prevent people from making that choice? What gives us the right to do so?

If society somehow turned inherently gay, and told me that it was wrong to love a women, or desire a woman, I would still do so. Just probably in secret.

So to wrap up, I'm not entirely sure what the rationale against gay people is. Why can't two people of the same gender love each other? Is it because of the children? I didn't think love was about having kids. Is it because some of us fear that it's a choice we too could make? I don't know... it's quite a big unknown.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hip hop and Sri Lanka; Where B&S and Iraj ruined the show!

Why would I say something like this when others appraising them as the forefathers of new music generation in Sri Lanka? It’s true that they did something, they changed the whole Sri Lankan mind set about the live performance and they did introduce us with a sound which was new to the ears of the Sri Lankans.

But what happened to the people’s ideology about this new art form which took the world by storm in the early 90’s to present day? Both B&S and Iraj made the big breakthroughs using this art form but they didn’t introduce the whole concept or the roots of the hip hop to the Sri Lankan younger generation who was eagerly followed and still following them. what happened thereafter was that all the guys tend to look like rappers even in their day to day lives and new “wannabe gangsters” rap bands became visible in every inch of this land and everybody tries to rap over the ass of a girl or just some gibberish without any sense over a catchy tune to get to stardom and then all the radio stations make their dough by placing them in the top positions of their charts.

The thing is that they all missed the point. They don’t know anything about The Sugar hill gang or Public Enemy, they don’t know how the disco died and the first rap hit rapper’s delight change the whole spectrum of world music. They don’t know anything about hell like life in projects or the reality of gangster’s life.

When Iraj was just emerging in the scene of music we got to hear good stuff like stop the virus, Sri Lanka 2030 and when he got in to the mainstream, track like J-town story which I think the best music video Sri Lanka has ever produced. But after that it happened other way round. The thing is that both of them; B&S and Iraj, didn’t go there to educate their younger generation about this new art form and didn’t try to use it for worthy causes to inform or to educate people about certain issues prevailing in the society.(they did but it’s not enough) If they did that, misunderstandings in the minds of the younger generation and Sri Lankans about hip hop culture and rap music would have been eradicated and we would have been able to see some rap bands who do music not to just make paper or to gain instant fame, but to use it for the betterment of the society and mankind.

But still I think all the hip hop lovers in Sri Lanka have a hope… in future…

“Music orientated When hip hop was originated”
Zack De La Rocha
Rage Against The Machine