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Saturday, September 16, 2017

The white dove 🕊

My problem is that if something sounded like work, I often put it off until it was too late. Then I went in the next morning, and was humiliated by my teachers for not having done my home work.

Its not that I didn't care, or that the punishment was not horrible. To the contrary, the humiliation was supreme and if I could go back and unwatch that movie or undo that work avoidance, I would. It's a form of self loathing that made me hate myself for having been so stupid. The teachers were disappointed in me because they knew I was better than that. They realised that I could and should be doing much better than I was.

When the next homework was due, I would do it, all over again and hate myself, all over again.
The obvious result of this was I was constantly being punished, and I hated myself and of course I flunked and tanked. Big time.

Nothing really changed that much in the real world.

I still find myself, unable to prepare for the mornings meeting or presentations. When TV and music and chatting with friends fills the time, until there is none left and I am forced to face my failures with nothing between the covers.

In these moments, I am a child again and I dread the humiliation. The stakes are higher in the grown up world, but the embarrassment is the same.

It's like old times except for one thing.

I get in front of the board. Suit pressed, well groomed. I still my mind, and reach into the hat, and pray like hell. Stick my hand into the proverbial hat, and when I take out my hand, lo and behold, a white dove!

The audience is, as always stunned.
What they don't realise is that in most cases, so am I. 

I am left, exhausted and exilerated with the high of having pulled off a miracle.

Where in the past, I was swimming in self loathing, I now bask in the glory of the shit I just pulled off, and I love myself.

My greatest fear these days is that one day, maybe even one day soon I will pull my hand out of the hat and I will come out empty handed and the game would be up. I realise at some level that given the number of times I have pulled off this trick, I am bound to fail, but for now I am really in awe of the power that makes this happen.

In school we were given mundane tasks to do and judged on how reliably we did them. And those who did their work every night, got a pat on the head, the next day.

In life however, the mundane tasks in the corporate world are done by an army of worker bees. When people call for me they don't expect me to do the mundane. They call me when all the mundane processes have failed them. And they need somebody who takes a different approach. Somebody who's mind is fresh and not stuck in the groove of his training and qualifications. What they need is a crazy guy who gives them a crazy arse idea that is so ridiculous that it actually might work. And that, my dear is exactly what comes out of the hat.

The White dove 🕊.

M Parak 2017

Friday, September 15, 2017

Heart beats.

When we were young music was a part of our lives. A rare commodity, that we could only afford in small stolen moments.

We recorded music off the radio and when we could afford it bought seven singles and played them, over and over, and over again until the medium got worn out.

We couldnt even imagine a world where we could get any song, past or present, anytime. Such a thing would be like a magic lamp, a fantasy beyond amazing.

Now we find ourselves living in that world.

Any music you can think of. Anything we hear, anywhere, we can have. Crystal clear, and free of distortion. With us in the car or gym. Unlimited music, anywhere.

Odd that it has resulted in lessening the value of music. The currency of music has fallen as a result, and we find ourselves overrun by temporary fads and Gangam style catchy funny pieces.

When I travel I choose a track that I like, and play it on repeat.

Every trip I go on, I choose something that I think has more meaning and depth than the regular twaddle, and the repetition takes me  back to simpler time.

I find that when you do this, instead of flitting through tons of new stuff, something magical happens.

Its as if the music rewires my brain and I begin to appreciate every note, every nuance, as the performing musician might have when they created it.

There is a kind of fugue state that this induces that relaxes me on long flights. A high that I end up chasing at every opportunity. It's probably some kind of meditation, or hypnosis, but it leaves me fulfilled rested alert and above all, happy.

When my wife found out what I was doing, she assumed that I had finally lost my marbles, but it didn't matter to me.

I just know that it  works.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Confessions of a Dyslexic Agnostic Insomniac

I have always thought that there can't be too many doctors, on this earth. No matter how many there are we need more..
There can however be too many lawyers, and too many interpreters of the law.
While lawyers are a necessary part of our society, too many laws and too many lawyers make for frivolous lawsuits and make for a claustrophobic world we cannot breath in.
If those who don't practice as lawyers, are able to setup institutions that create more lawyers, we are as a species doomed.
Our men of the cloth have become lawyers, and interpreters of the old ways.
Their existence can only be justified by using their training to create new and radical interpretations of the scriptures, And when they are not creating new restrictions, they  create more copies of themselves in the institutions that they build.
Soon we find ourselves in dystopian reality where we are all expected to follow the script, without question.
Our world is filled with beauty and horror. The  sweet and sour are meant to compliment each other. We were meant to live our lives, be fair to others and achieve our own potential.
Not cower in the dark afraid of the shadows.
The little time we have left is the only currency we have.
The most valuable thing we have.
I wish I could live more like a wolf and less like a sheep.
Taken from:.
"confessions of a dislexic agnostic insomniac"
A friend pointed out the misspelling of the word Dyslexic. Lol 

Friday, December 02, 2016

Deconstructing things that go Viral.

We have all witnessed the incredible power of something that goes viral.
From silly cat videos, to memes, to the Arab Spring that led to a complete political shake up in middle Eastern society.

When clients want to get in on the internet action they begin by underestimating what it takes to get a thing to go viral. After trying everything, they realise that there is a kind of magic, that makes one video or idea go viral, where some another,  possibly even better video,  died a natural death.

What is clear is that nobody knows for sure how, or even why,  things grow the way they do on the internet.

We just don't know,  and as a result there is no formula for success.
Nothing one can do that guarantees success.

We are however able to study the stuff on the internet that have broken through and look at what they have in common, but one would quickly realise, just how big the internet really is.

Imagine for a second that we are able to deconstruct a successful concept. Back to its founding father. If such a thing was possible, we would be able to begin to explain how and why things that go viral, do what they do.

I have little doubt that the technology exists to visually represent the various nodes that help spread concepts on the social media.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Night of power

On the last sehri, after a hard nights with the kids being sick I woke up as usual and woke Ahmed for sehri. I put the lights on and followed the routine that had been established for days, no years.

When I was half way through the preparations I realised that the kids hadn't come so I went and woke them again.
It was a particularly cold morning. Then Rabia walked in saying that last night was definitely the "night of power." Seems the dogs were very quiet.

Ahmed said that the mufti has said to them, the night before that the worst thing, that eat away at good deeds was is we hurt anyone. And we should spend this might reflecting on everyone we ever hurt in our lives, from the very beginning, and resolve to somehow correct this. This apparently was the best way to spend the night of power.

Then I heard Rabia say that there were no eggs and that ayesha had to have eggs. "sorry, can you please go to the garage". I realised that time was short and that this ear a call to action, so jacket, and wallet and I was gone. On the way out I yelled that there was no need to open the roller doors, because I was most comfortable with my own little car that was outside.

As I got into the car I saw her open the roller doors and ignored that and sped off. Didn't stop at any robots as they literally was no traffic. At the shop I coudn't find the eggs and the staff were as clueless as I was. Finally found the last remaining tray and it was a sealed pack of 18. I paid and then got a call from Rabia.

"Please make maaf I meant for you to go to our garage, (there is a fridge there) not to the garage shop. We were worried when we coudnt find you anywhere! "

I felt like a fool.

Back seat passenger

We live our lives, knowing that it will one day end; but we imagine the end coming after a full and productive life. And we assume that when the end comes it will be when we are old and all our children grown up and doing well. At least thats what we hope.

Death will someday come for us all, we know this yet we dread the day we will meet him.

What we don't realise is that he is not some stranger who we will be introduced at the end, but a constant companion we have carried with us, from the start.

The silent back seat passenger that we  forget was sitting behind us all along.

It's only when a young person is taken that we wake up to this reality, but in order to go about our lives and still keep our sanity we try to forget the dark passenger in the back seat.

Those who are unable to forget the passenger are unable to see the road ahead.

So while most people would have you live like 'there is no tomorrow', I feel maybe we should live as if we are to live forever.

And when the passenger clears his throat and calls your name, then it's your time to go and nothing you did, or didn't do, will make any difference.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Silver Bullets for Zuma

Back in the very beginning, it was clear that the apartheid government had tried to hold onto power by throwing the ANC into battle with the Zulu people.

That this conflict was brewed intentionally by the 3rd force is something that is now a matter of record. So many lives were lost in this futile and obscene conflict.

When the ANC finally came into power, they had to deal with the sticky wicket that was Kwa Zulu Natal. The IFP had the trust of the Zulu and was not about to roll over for the ANC.

It was at this point that the "think tank" at Luthuli House hatched a way to win over Kwa Zulu.

Jacob Zuma. 100% Zulu

The plan was to give the Zulu one of their own. A man of the people. And they would unite behind the ANC, and they did. That Jacob was not presidential material did not bother anyone because there was so much dirt on the man, he could be easily taken down after he neutralised the IFP.

This flawed, man, voiced the song of the people. His speeches resonated with the masses. His signature call for "Mshini Wami" (bring me my AK47) was met with elation and adoration by the starving struggling masses. 

Here finally was a man of the people. 

That he came, clouded in controversy, accused and persecuted for the worst imaginable crimes, just made the people want to lay down their lives to protect their saviour from the scheming plots of the "rich manipulative people on top".

Having accepted this, imperfect man, they would not believe anything that was said about him.  
Despite all the evidence, half of the people would not believe any of the stories about him while the other half fiercely supported him regardless of the what they believed.

The plot to remove him failed and to the horror of the Founding Fathers, and the Executive Committee, this unlettered, brute went all the way to first oust Mbeki, and capture the highest office in the land.

Having climbed up to this position, under these circumstances, why are we all amazed at where we, and the country are today; and what makes us think that we can take him down with controversy and dirt. 

His reign was conceived in dirt and controversy, so this is that kind of fire that can't be put out with water.  

Conventional weapons don't work on him.

M Parak. 2016

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Dark Tower.

Many years ago, I gave up Steven King and moved on to more serious material. A decade ago somebody suggested that I try the more mature books that he was producing, and I went on to "The Dome" and the oddly named "11/22/63".

What I found was indeed a more "mature" King who had developed an irresistible voice. The language was delicious and I found I could listen to him for hours. Just revelling in the way he used words. Much like the way I appreciated music.

Every time I read about the author, I found that he considered the "Dark Tower Series" his greatest work. His "Magna Opus", as he called it. So I tried it. And while it took ages to get started, and each book was a Tome, I eventually got sucked into the story.

Now almost 4 years later I just finished the seventh and last volume, and find myself alone, or at least missing a presence that I had grown accustomed to.

(remember each book was a Tome)

More intense than losing your favourite car, or couch. Something akin to moving house and finding yourself reaching out for familiar object in the new surroundings.

The thing that gets me; is that King claims to have begun this story in 1970 and added to it, on an off, over the years that followed. He completed the last volume in 2004, which would imply that the series took him 34 years!  

He would have fallen in love, gotten married, and had children, seen them grow up and leave the house; and through it all he was writing one story. He fought alcoholism, drug addiction, had really bad accident and lost loved ones; and through all of this he kept going, on this one story.

If I was to read the story again and try to establish the timeline of the Dark tower and Kings personal life, would I find how his life had shaped the story of the Gunslinger in his quest for the Dark Tower? King alluded to this in a bizarre plot twist, where he the author Steven King become a character in the series. What I am getting at is that the Dark Tower series might represent 34 years of a mans life. And it might have influenced his life as his life must have influenced the story. So why is it so difficult to grasp that the last 3 to 4 years I spend in the "Realm" had no effect on me and my life?  

Could all my reactions over the past half decade been subliminally influenced by the Crimson King?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Charlie Hebdo and Aylan Kurdi

I recently saw the recent charlie hebdo cartoons depicting the drowned 3 year old Aylan Kurdi.

This was the  picture that shocked Europe into rallying behind the refugees and letting the vast hordes in.

All the West was embarrassed that the inaction cost the lives of the "truly innocent".  As a result they opened up their borders to varying degrees and the huddled, abused, masses were given hope.
When recently  Charley Hebdo ran the series of articles depicting the fallen child,  I too, was truly shocked, and outraged, at a visceral level by the cartoons. I  found myself agreeing  with critics who said that the magazine had,  once again gone too far.

The images of the drowned boy were too painful, too raw and not appropriate as a medium of satire. There had to be a line that decency would  not allow us to cross.

And this went way, way beyond that point.

Then I read a review that claimed that the Charlie Hebdo's Aylan series might be their best work yet. The article explained that Europe hadn't cared about the refugees or their plight. The borders were closed and nobody lost any sleep over the plight of the Syrians. One picture melted their heart and they changed their outlook.

Then on new years eve, German women were groped en masse at the festivities and allegations were that it was the immigrant refugees who were responsible.
Suddenly the refugees  were all "sex fiends" and would be  "terrorists" all over again.

The cartoons were meant to show the public how fickle they had been and still were. So at face value they appeared crude and vulgar but underneath they taught society a lesson.
But maybe such lessons are too subtle as people often just read things at face value and at that level it seems the opposite of the intended message.

M Parak 2016

Monday, January 18, 2016

The future is just around the corner

I smiled when I first heard the saying, "the future isn't what it used to be".

Now I find myself living in the future.
And realised that it might be almost as bad as living in the past.

Maybe even more foolish.

Those who are stuck in the past, relive the pain of losing love ones, old insults and injuries, past glories; and they often yearn for the good old days.

They end up disconnected from the present and as a result they lose the most beautiful and powerful thing in our lives; the "now".

Children on the other hand absolutely live in the moment. The here and now.

This doesn't last long because we spend the first decade, conditioning and putting  their heads in the "right place". 

Delayed gratification is difficult for a child, for they live in the "now".

As we get older we learn to plan ahead and are able to do things that result in rewards in the future. We learn to play the long game. This has allowed us as a species to do all the amazing things we have done. Art, Music. Science, Religion all are a result of this.

Problem with this is that the better you are at this, the further ahead you are able to send your head and your plans; and when you cast your gaze into the murky uncertain, distant future, you are unable, or sometimes even unwilling, to bother with the present.

So you  become a time traveller, who is  never at home. Your physical body might be on the couch, but you are often not there. Not really.  So where are you? Really.

In the world of the one possible  future, that you have constructed?

A world that might actually be real. Some day. Or not; depending on all sorts of things lining up.

So is time travel real.

Hell yes!   And the future we go to is often the future that takes root.

The past however is readonly.

Except in the retelling of the historical accounts.

These  are the parts that can change, given sufficient reason to remake the past.

I set out to talk about something completely different and once I got started on one of my pet topics I went off the reservation.

What I wanted to say was that I am constantly waiting for new tech to mature.
The virtual reality space the Tesla model 3 the new voice controlled toilet whatever. It's all just around the corner and we  spend all  our lives dreaming of the the bright and shiny future. And when these do arrive they are buggy and need years of refinement before they actually become useful. By then we are all looking towards the next big thing to hurtle us into the future.

Self drive cars. Deep Ai. Quantum Computers, and the like are all achievable in our lifetime. But what about the next generation. If only we could leapfrog over the limitations of one lifetime and get the see where it takes us. Perhaps it's not a destination at all, but a journey.

This is the only answer that gives any relief, to the physical confines of our mortality.

Ballerina's Feet.

I recently came across a picture of a ballerina's feet and I was shocked by what I saw.

Before reading any further, search Google images for 'ballerina feet".
Then we will be on the same page.

Few things on this earth are more graceful and elegant than a ballerina on point; and once one sees what lies beneath those Ballet shoes, one can't unsee it. How can such dainty spritely elegance be based on the gory, agony; and hideous mutilation that lies just under the cloth?

Does knowing about the pain and sacrifice make one appreciate the end result more, or does it make you question the values that make us take our brightest and have them butcher themselves to be accepted and appreciated. What kind of artist would drive themselves and their bodies to such outrageous extremes to get accolades. What pleasure can there be at the end when all you can imagine is a hot soak to ease the pain.

My mind goes on to question the purity of all that is beautiful in the world we live in. The natural beauty and the enhanced illusion of beauty.

If it looks good, should it matter what lies beneath? When all that is important is the "look", is it too much to expect that beauty to be natural and untainted.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

PEBBLE and the Osborne Effect

Pebble has always been the poster child for crowd funding. The most successful kick-starter project of all time raised gazillions and resulted in arguably the "ugliest" yet coolest watch ever.

The original pebble watch with its low-power, 'eink' display quickly became an icon.

Actors were seen wearing it on the most popular sitcoms.  It became the Prius of watches. 

As watches got smarter and cooler looking, and Apple entered the gave with their uber cool watch it became important for pebble to evolve; and they tried with the 'face-lifted' pebble steel, and when that crashed and burned, they announced the Pebble Time Steel.

This one looked quite a bit better and had a colour eink display and all sorts of glitzy band and metal options.

The die hard fans put in pre-orders enmass. And life was good.

The only problem was that the Moto 360, Samsung gear, LG and Huawei decided the world wanted round watch faces that looked like normal traditional watches. And it looked like they were right.

So while people were still waiting for their pre-orders of pebble time steel to ship, Pebble  announced a new much thinner round watch called Pebble time round.

Suddenly everyone who ordered the 'Pebble time steel'  wanted a Pebble round and cancelled, opting  for the new round face.

PEBBLE now had a new problem.

They were nowhere near able to ship the previous model let alone the new one and with so many people changing their orders they were stuck with old stock that they coudn't sell, not even after they slashed the prices.

The new stock required  money, and customers would only pay,  when they shiooed, but their capital was tied up in old stock that was suddenly dead in the water; all  because of their premature announcement.

They figured that if they waited till they were ready to ship, to announce the new watch they would lose their loyal clients to the competition, who had already ready to roll, so they announced, early and couldn't deliver.

And suddenly couldn't free the money they had tied in old models.

Classic Osborne effect.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

No I don't mind waiting for a few hours.

When I was a kid, I couldn't wait, for anything. The worst kind of punishment was to ask me to wait.

Waiting for the journey to end, or my mum to finish shopping was a real drag. Literally.

Over the years I have found that this is a skill, that one can learn with practice.

These days, I can wait, for hours, if needs be.

So long as I have my headphones, food, the loo, and someplace to support my back I can literally sit forever.

In fact the blank space waiting for a counter to open is a wonderful moment to just disengage.

The fact that I can't be anywhere else, is refreshing. The fact that absolutely nothing is expected of me, no deadlines or unfinished projects leaves me free for a few hours.

It might actually be the only time that I don't have anything on my mind, and nobody demanding my attention.

Just like being on a flight, I am able to switch off the outside and just live in the moment. And when it's over, the world comes back to claim it's hold on me.

So ya, I can wait a few hours for the counter to open.

No worries.

Don't give me Flac

When I shop for headphones I get to  hear the audiophiles talking about the mid end, the highs and the lows, and it's all just big words to my untrained ear.

Seems like a ploy, to charge ten times more.

I can hear the extra base in Dr Dre, but that doesn't take a decerning ear, and that's about the extent of my range.

If its not tinny, and has no crackle and doesn't warp at high volumes it sounds fine to me.

Recently I decided to delete my entire collection from my phone and replace my favourites with flac lossless audio.

Each file was 10 times the size of the mp3 it replaced, and I figured that it might be like the transition from SD to HD and then to UHD.

Once you experienced it, there was no going back. You had to let your eyes adjust to the higher definition first, then you just could not tolerate anything less.

Maybe it worked for ears too.

When I made the transition from tape and vinyl to CD I had come to appreciate the snappy sound, free of crackle and hiss.
Silence that was absolute.

Now I find a smoothness, for want of a vocabulary to describe the experience.
Smooth and crisp.

Maybe when I have had more time with this I might be able to spot the difference, but right now all I can say is its smooth, like butter.

I can't however be absolutely certain that it's not just my imagination.

Mr, Shave your beard.

I came across an advert on YouTube. Just one of those silly adds that you are forced to listen to before actually getting the video on puppies and kittens that the Internet was made for.
This was for a new 'fusion'  shaver by Gillette. The song in the background was a thin wailing women's voice, singing a delightful, song that when I 'shazammed' turned out to be "Mr Shave your beard by Ros Serey Sothea."

Then I found that the Cambodian music was being revived by an American group called Dengue Fever. And I was suddenly exposed to a new sound and it was amazing.
The story of Ros Serey Sothea who was the darling of society before the revolution, and how she was abused and killed by the Kmer Rouge is so sad that it adds to the angst of the music.

The most exciting thing about this world is discovering new things and when the new thing you discover is long dead, it is so sad and so beautiful.

Follow the link below and you can share in my journey.

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