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Sunday, November 05, 2017

Zuma and Pauws. It's happening

The recent shit storm over the expose about Zuma by Pauws raises some interesting issues.

The obvious ones are to do with the authors right to free speech, and the publics right to know all about the shenanigans of our appointed leaders.

The state argues that some elements in the book infringe on the secrecy act and are understandbly fighting to have the books taken down.

The fact the book had within  24 hour period  been circulated on whatsap is a game changer.

If the state succeeds in blocking the books subsequent sales, the genie is out of the bottle and it will be a hollow victory. The public will read the book, what ever the outcome of the court.

There have been allegations that the author was behind the leak at some level and while he has denied involvement, his statements on social media imply that his need to profit from the book take second place to his need to be heard. And the leaked book will definitely get traction.

Finally there is a group that argues that the illegal distribution of the book in itself is an symptom of our corrupt morality. That we can pirate a book and deny the author and publisher their dues, serves to highlight what ails our society.

Problem is that if we accept that on this new world one is able to, if you sacrifice the profit, reach a far wider audience through social media.
If the text is defamatory, or represents hate speech or fake news, it seems like there would be no defence or consequence that prevents the dissemination.

Even if one was able to get a court order so stop the publisher, one would not be able to stop the text from trending on social media.

Maybe it's time that we took a moment to absorb what this means for our privacy.

If somebody was to write a character assassination piece, hatchet job, or something that incited hate, or violence, the antiquated legal system is unable to prevent its spread.

And nothing you did or didn't do could make it right.

M Parak 2017

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Robotic surgery. And the future of medicine

This story begins with  Laparoscopic   surgery that has become so popular in our world. The surgeon goes in through keyholes instead of making huge incisions and is able to perform several surgeries without the trauma of regular surgery.
It's all fly by wire. He views the scene through a monitor attached to cameras on the ends of the equipment, and uses robotic arms instead of his own.
Surgeons were not trained to work this way,  but that is another discussion for another time.
The point I am making is that the surgeon sees through a computer and his instructions relayed though  computers.
The next logical extension would be  that the patient and the doctor need not be in the same room, or city, or even the same country.
This by the way is  already happening all over the world. A gifted surgeon in one country is able to perform incredibly complex procedures in any country that has a reliable communications infrastructure. All that is  needed  is a competent crew to setup the puncture incisions and the placement of the equipment in the patient.
The next step in this crazy road would be,  that the system records every move every surgeon makes and it ranks the quality and outcome of every stitch and incision, and logs them all in a vast database.
In the near future a keyhole surgeon will be able to click on "stitch" button in his heads up display and choose stitches that were done by the masters.
The system would simply reproduce those, exactly as the best surgeons in the world would.
Given enough data the system would improve the efficiency of these actions to reach levels of perfection that exceed the ability of the human surgeons.
Initially all the human would need to do would be to choose the correct incision, or stitch, and the robotic system would simply carry out the instructions. But when it becomes apparent, as it will,  the the machines reaction time is significantly faster than the operators, and that the  behaviour and performance of the machine, more reliable and dependable than the human, more decisions will be allowed to the machine.
The trajectory is that given enough time, the system would not require a controller, but somebody to oversee the operation. Theoretically that remote surgeon would be able to oversee many operations, being carried out, all over the world. He would step in if or when something went wrong or advise the robot when a decision needed his approval.
All of this speculation and projection ignores the probability of deep Ai in our lifetime.
Everything described in this, does not rely at all on deep Ai.
We are simply describing the evolution of existing surgical systems and the refining of existing software.
When deep general Ai does come to exist. 
(the skeptics would have you believe that this is not ever going to exist).
If this Ai reaches maturity, everything will change, again, all at once, and the overseer would not be required. 
No human in the loop.

While it all sounds far fetched.
The above video will maybe give you a preview of the levels of technology that exist, today.

For the purposes of discussion we need to examine two other areas of rapid development. Remote controlled military  drones, and self drive vehicles. Both of these have been hurtling ahead at break neck speed.
Some of the new  drones  resemble regular fighter jets and have very similar offensive  characteristics.
The remote pilot in the earlier versions was expected to land and take off, very much as if he was in the cockpit. The only difference is that he was safely back home. The later versions were able to handle all the intricacies of takeoff, landing and flight. All he had to do was send the instruction to land, or take off.
The drone was smart enough to carry out the instructions perfectly.
Recently this was illustrated in having a drone land and takeoff from the limited runway of an aircraft carrier ship over rough oceans.

This is a daunting task for a human pilot, and today there are drones that can do this better and more reliably than their human counterparts.
The talk about self drive vehicles was the stuff of SciFi but with millions of kilometres of testing in populated cities all over the world we have all come to realise that it's happening.
It simply is a question of when and in what form.
So the take away is that we have been able to do all of this without the advent of deep general Ai.
All of this is happening. We need to either get with the program, or get out of the way.
Imagine what this landscape would look like, with Deep Ai.
M Parak 2017

Sunday, October 29, 2017

It wasn't me.

I was invited to the club last night.

Every month or two I get an invite to a very exclusive boys night out.
The members are all mega rich captains of industry, and I am the poor cousin from the farm. But hey it's a free meal and quite a lot of fun. So I am not complaining.

Anyway after supper when the young ones went out back to smoke I ended up amongst them.

One of the guys turned to, (let's call him Jo), and asked him to tell the 'pizza story'.

With a twinkle in his eye, 'Jo' got us into a huddle and told the following incredible tale.

He said.

My wife and I have a very evolved relationship, and she knows that I love her absolutely and completely.

I am home with her, every evening after work, take her where ever she wants Saturday and Sunday, even if it means trekking behind her in malls, weighed down with Packets.

All except for Friday nights.
FRIDAY is my boys night out.
I don't ever tell her anything about Friday nights, and she never asks. It's my night, and it's our thing.

He went on.
Anyway, this Friday night I was out with the boys and realised that I had forgotten my phone at home. So I used a friend's phone and called my wife asking her if I could bring her some supper. She said she felt like having pizza, from 'Issies place'. And when I realised that I didn't have the number, I gave her the password to unlock my phone, just to get the pizza places number.

This was the first time that I ever slipped up. And it turned out to be a real big one.

There was this chick.
Blond, Young and beautiful. I have been seeing her once or sometimes twice a week and she and I had an understanding. She was married and didn't want more and it was perfect. Anyway this chick sends me a message saying "I am sitting here watching my husband at the braai, and I can't stand him. I wish you were taking me from the behind. Touching me down there".

So my wife. Smart as she is, sends back the message. "say my name" and the reply immediately says "Jo".

So clearly the proverbial 'goose' was cooked.

When I get back, I am clearly in the dog box. And nothing I say could make her respond. She has totally shut me out. Two days later I realise that this was not going to blow away so I approach her and say, "honey you know that I love you more than life itself and that I would never do anything to put you, or our marriage, at risk, tell me what's eating you up".

And she does.

I respond with.
"I am not proud of this, but it's not what you are thinking. It's just a game that everyone is into at the moment.. Called 'Booty Call'. It's not physical and nobody ever meets, so please forgive me and we can put this behind us."

She went off without a word.
And presumably did some research on the game.

When she returned she said that she looked it up and it's totally disgusting. I told her I would  quit  and we were all strawberry and cream.

Never, admit. To anything.

This was his advice.

Even if she finds you with your dick inside a chick, never admit. If you do, you are 'fucked'. Tell her she is seeing things, imagining things, going mad, anything but the facts.

You can, given time, and smarts, walk away from anything except your own testimony.

It wasnt me.

I related this story to best of my memory.
Names and places have been changed because they serve no purpose in this story.

Personally I haven't recovered from the story to form an opinion. Still in shock.

Clearly we are not in Kanses anymore.

M Parak 2017.

Let him be loved, unconditionally

So in the traditions of the classic fable a poor single mother sacrifices her food and feeds a starving Sadhu.

He  thanks her and grants her one wish.

She says that as the food was meant for her child, she wished that her son would grow up to be loved.

Unconditionally.

So it was that he was always the centre of attention. His teachers loved him and paid extra attention to him. The other kids were not jealous of him and he grew into quite a ladies man.

The women when they found out that he was getting around didn't hate him.
In fact, incredibly,  they just loved him more.

The king asked him to move into the palace and he was soon spoilt beyond recognition. Inevitably he was engaged to marry the princess, despite his treating her badly. The worse he behaved the more they loved him.

He had no time for anybody and didn't care for anyone but himself, yet they  loved him, unconditionally.

One day the ageing mother met the sadhu again and she spoke to him of how awful her son had turned out, and how despite all the love,  her son was desperately unhappy.

He asked her if she would like to change the wish, and she said she wished that   "he, would love others, unconditionally"

With the blinkers removed from their eyes, everyone suddenly saw the boy for the scoundrel he was.

Before long, he  was living on the street, going door to door begging for his meals.

People were disgusted by him and threw garbage at him, yet he loved them in return,  unconditionally.

The pain, the hunger, and the abuse meant nothing to him, because he loved everyone he met, absolutely.

He radiated love, and was happy.

Over the years he became very spiritual and learned to channel this love into helping others. He soon earned the respect of the people and their adoration.
Even the king called on him when he needed spiritual guidance. 

Over the years his reputation for  kindness, love and wisdom spread throughout the land and he was sought after by everyone. And when they experienced the force of his love and the sheer  selflessness of  his love, they learnt to love him. And it was a love that he had earned. And with it came respect.

You can't make people respect or love  you, but you can show respect and kindness, and true love will grow in your heart and theirs.

I heard this story as a child and have paraphrased it as best as I can.
If anybody knows the original text, please let me know.

M Parak 2017

Mayor

One of my boys came back from a call out to charitable institution, and he said he met my cousin who was replacing and repairing the furniture there. I assumed it was Ahmed he was referring to. 

Ahmed, my first cousin recently retired, and keeps himself busy by doing pro bono carpentry for local orphanages and charities.

I then went on to  explain to them, that my cousin had a really interesting story.

When he was young and newly married, they went in search of a farm store. 
Somewhere they could out down roots.

He met with old man Peattie, who owned vast tracks of land between PietermaritzBurg and Greytown.

My cousin and the old man hit it off and they came to a really good agreement on the shop.

Over the years the shop was a hit and rental fixed very low. Only because my cousin and the old man were friends. That the old bugger was super mega wealthy, might have had something to do with that.
The only worry they had was that someday the old man would move on, and my cousin and his wife would be forced to deal with the old mans bratty kids. And the honeymoon would be over.

At this point my cousin says he had a group of Moulanas visit his store.
They spent a few nights and when they were leaving they asked him if he wanted their advice or prayer on any special matter. My cousin explained his predicament to them and they said they would pray for him.

A few months later, he got word that his benefactor had passed away.

The kids who inherited the estate had made no secret of the fact they they hated him and would raise the rent till they got him out.

Next morning he got a call from the lawyers asking him to meet them in PietermaritzBurg. When he asked what it was about, he was told curtly that it was about his renting the shop from the Peattie family.

He put on his good clothes, or at least his least threadbare shirt headed to the big city.

The lawyer told my cousin that the son wanted to renegotiate the rent and they were about to draft such a letter when they discovered that there was an "option to buy" clause in the old man's will..
Seems the old man stated that my cousin had the first option to buy the plot that the shop stood on for just 200 thousand. This equates to two million in today's money. So my cousin who didn't have that kind of. Money borrowed and scraped together the money, just so he would be free from the sons.

What he hadn't realised at the time was that he wasn't just buying the shop at a very good price, he was now the owner of the  town of Cramond! The post office, police station, filling station, school and the whole shebang! All became his tenants.

We jokingly referred to him as the "mayor" of Cramond, when in fact he was the owner.

Anyway this was the cousin who, having  retired, spends all  his time, replacing and repairing furniture at charitable institutions in Durban, and he swears that its all a result of the prayers that those strange, odd holy men made for him, all those years ago, after he gave them a place to stay. 

I do have a very colourful family.

M Parak 2017.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Rules of engagement

When two clerics of the same faith debate a fine point concerning the faith (any faith) they are able to apply their reasoning and intelligence to interpret the books and look for precedents in the scriptures to support their point of view.

This is the way of pretty much all religions. One agrees to a basic constitution, then debate and discussing refine the specifics.

When such a discussion is between people of different faiths the discussion is often pointless.

Seeing as both participants don't agree on the basics, nothing that would be meaningful in the previous debate can be useful.

One says immaculate conception other replies no way .
One says unseen benevolent God the other no way.
One says God is all seeing and knows the future.
Other. You must be shitting me.

You have to agree on the rules of engagement be able to get anywhere.

So what went wrong. Why are all the great faiths at odds with each other..

Each of these religions preaches peace and tolerance, but seemingly all have lost their way.
At the same time.
It's too much of a coincidence to expect a thinking man to accept.

Could there be more to this than meets the eye..?

The media uses slights of hand and distraction all the time.

Politicians do it.

When Monica Lewenski proved it was the presidents dna on her clothing, the country, and the world was in termoil.
Then the US launched 8 cruise missiles at Afghanistan and we were all over that.

Nobody cared about carpet burns in the white house.

How did the religions get polarised and all take up a martial stance.

It can't be  the battle for souls, as nobody has time for fighting for people's eternal soils.
So what is it for?
Land perhaps.?
Or control.?

Seems man can be ruled by his anger. It clouds his judgement and makes him putty in the hands of a manipulator. He can be easily led to battle, by the nose with blinkers on, if you can get him mad enough. And if you get his community mad enough they will even pay for your war.

Anger, that evolutionary relic that made us brave enough to fight the lion also had to make us dumb enough to fight the lion.

M Parak. 2017.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mustafa Irani.

When we arrived at the hostel in Pakistan the Iranians and boys from Mauritius, and Malaysia decided to join us at mess. With this a lovely friendship began between us and the boys from other countries.

A few weeks in, Mustafa from Iran came to my room and said he liked the way we South Africans spoke and would like to learn to speak English the way we spoke it.
Nobody had time for that so we laughed it off.

He came to us with a Persian, English dictionary, every day for two years. All we had to do was say a few words out aloud for him and he would write these strange phonetic symbols into his dictionary.

He was loud and crass but very funny.. It was then that we realised that all jokes are universal and every joke he ever told us, was a subtle regionalised version of jokes we had heard back home. It was as if there are only so many jokes in the world.

They adapted to the countries they ended up in, and evolved with technology and politics but always remained at the heart, the same.

That however is a discussion is for another time.

Mustafa Irani began, after the first year to sound like us.
He had a very good ear and an incredible work ethic.

When the Shah of Iran was dethroned he refused to go back to Khomeini and as a result became stateless. His life as a stateless student in Pakistan was very hard but he soldiered on. He had several episodes of depression and once even a  total meltdown, and  we had to admit him to hospital out of fear that he might harm himself.

The boys took up a collection and got him a one way ticket to some Scandinavian country that was offering refuge to Iranians who were fleeting the Khomeini regime.
We were told he made it, and as far as we know is speaking Swedish with a South African accent.

We were so young and stupid that we didn't care enough to ask the really hard questions.

I wish I had asked him to describe his life. And allowed him to talk more about himself. We were arrogant and didn't really care too much about others except superficially.
Now I feel, that I missed so many opportunities to have shared in the extraordinary lives of the people we bumped into along the way.

Someday I might feel like I didn't allow you guys to share your thoughts by hogging the stage.

Please share your thoughts and experiences. It's the ultimate way of opening up and letting others visit the museum of your minds and experiences.

M Parak 2017

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Sins of the father

People should not be punished for the sins of their fathers.
We hear this from the white people in South Africa. Americans who descended from slave owners use this line regularly.
The reality is that children pay for the wrong decisions of their parents all the time.
When an abused child has to make his way in this world with a heart covered in scar tissue, when famine and global warming are the legacy of the father, the child pays. The innocent are not spared the horrors that their parents leave them in the natural world. The very foundations of several major religions are based in the premise that eve ate of the forbidden fruit and as a result all of mankind was caste out of the garden of Eden.
Sins of the fathers.
As a society we try to rise above this and not allow children to pay for the sins of their parents but it's often a fools errand. With mothers in jail and so many kids who have to face the misery of their lives, caused by their parents neglect or bad choices we can't always succeed.
In America and countries like South Africa we are faced with the descendants of slavery and apartheid asking to be spared the retribution of their fathers guilt. The descendants of the slaves argue that they are the ones suffering for the sins of the white kids fathers. And their suffering needs to be addressed first.
So its children should not suffer for the sins of their fathers, especially not the sins of others fathers.
If the current generation have purged there lives of racism and work towards healing he injured, one would think that given enough time the world can be healed.
This is based on three assumptions.
No new racism..
No privilege earned from racism.
Time to heal.
I don't think we have actually purged our society of racism except superficially.
The current generation was born into the privileged life that was created on the backs of slaves. And they have not handed over or redistributed that privilege.
So maybe it's not entirely fair to allow the ruling white elite to collectively wash from  their hands the blood of slavery.
M Parak 2017.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Whatsap vs real world

Over the years we have all developed a very "evolved" whatsap personality.

In some cases the quirks and peculiarities of our Whatsap persona are often mirror some aspects of our   worldly personalities.

In others  however we are insulated by the impersonal nature of texting, and get to develop a persona or an  avatar of the people we long to be, or the inner self that finds no expression in our daily lives.

We prevent our daughters from falling for lovemachine23583@fu2.com
saying it's probably some sweaty old guy in his gym pants, eating cheetos and drinking red bull and vodka in his recliner.

Pity we don't examine ourselves with that same level of scrutiny.

Are we really the cool funny happy people we portray ourselves to be on social media?
Or we just overweight old farts trying to stay relevant in a world that has moved on.

We have always known that we are able to complain about the bad service over the phone, while being truly terrified of saying anything in the flesh. So why can't we see whatsap and the social media as an extension of that phenomenon.

With whatsap you can literally reach anybody across the space and somethimes when it comes to old friends, you reach accross even time.
(if they don't block you that is)

We don't Stutter, or fumble for words and we are able to switch apps and lookup concepts and movies and trivia on the fly and seem all knowing and witty. it's amazing, but it's all smoke and mirrors.

When everyone is gone AFK  and the last share and retweet done, we are still old, and overweight, and still on the couch.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great and I totally dig it, and would not have it any other way. We should all be allowed a forum to be the best version of ourselves. Be allowed to dream big dreams and even if it's just for a moment to  feel what it's like to be loved, admired  and appreciated. And to feel part of something big and important.

It's very much like a drug and much more  addictive.

One goes to sleep replaying all the threads of all the miriad conversations.

Often in the midst of a word  storm, of funny and fast back and forth one slips up and either reveals too much, or steps on somebody's toes.

Then it's agony, until the short attention span of the herd moves on and one is free to roam and explore again.

None of this is new or newsworthy, except that we forget that we aren't the only old fat guy trying to type, and balance a slice of pizza at the same time.

Imagine if all the people you admire and follow are exactly like me. Old and fat and on the couch and soon you will realise it really doesn't matter. We are all who we want to be online and in the real world..
Who says they have to be the same person.

With the wonders of modern medicine and makeup, I might actually be a beautiful woman with long legs and  really lovely hair.
The brilliant white implants that look so perfect, almost natural.

Question is who are you?
Really.

M Parak 2017

You can't choose your family.



You might get to choose your friends, and align with those who make you laugh and give you support when you need it, but with your family, you are stuck with what you are given.
We have grown up with this, but it's not really true in our modern world.
When family is supportive we increase their "face time" and seek them out.
If that family is caustic, toxic or constantly  critical of your life style choices they get tuned out. In time they will see less and less of you and they will lose the influence that being family commanded.
So the rule, given enough time, applies to family as well as friends alike.
With friends one assumes that one is able to choose just the good ones and push away the rest, but in reality one makes friends based on circumstance more than on the aligning of spirits as they would have us believe.
Our oldest friends were those we played with as kids, rode with on that bus met in school. These were all opportunistic friendships. It's true that we gravitated to some and rejected others, but all of us have many friends who don't share our views. If we had to go out and make friends we would certainly not choose them.
With a high school reunion this becomes so clear.
People you considered your life long buddies aside, one was expected to be friends with all the kids in your year.
Those you gravitated towards, and those who's sphere didn't intersect with yours.
The results are interesting.
Some guys who were real Dicks when they were young, have grown up to be adult versions.
Others who you might not have noticed, or only interacted with superficially, have grown into really cool, thinking, funny  and interesting people.
People you would and should  seek out and make friends with today.
So while the reunion puts one back in the mix with all the bullies and arses who tormented you as a teenager, it also exposes you to really cool people who have blossomed out of the quiet shy kids you didn't notice.
These new friends make the exercise worthwhile.
Then there is Propinquity.
This is defined as the attraction one might feel for a person, that develops from extended exposure.
A person who you didn't quite take to, that becomes attractive in your eyes after lots of close exposure.
They grow on you.  (not like a fungus)
In a famous Western the Sherif was tracking this beautiful outlaw through the Badlands. He comes accros this old guy on a donkey cart.
When asked if he had seen a beautiful women pass through the desert, the old guy  answered,  " No I haven't, but  I have spend so long on this cart that even my donkey is looking, mighty fine!"
M Parak 2017

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Luck of the devil II



When I started out I noticed a strange phenomenon.
I would randomly browse through all the very technical books on my bookshelf. Books that I had not been able to read, books too daunting to read. I would flip through and skim random bits here and there and put the book down. Most of the concepts were so advanced that I had not clue what they meant, Or how they fit in to the grand scheme of things.
Within a day I would get a call from a guy and he would bring up some gobbledie-gook that 'rang a bell' .
I would use my reasonable short term memory and give him a word for word 'from the text' answer and the line would go quiet for a while.
Often the person would go on to say that be had phoned around and I was the first person who knew what I was talking about. In many cases he was from some super technical research arm of a university and all at once, I, farm boy who didn't know his arse from his elbow woukd get credibility in high places..
This went on over the years and I have tried to explain it by saying that maybe I steered the conversation to that area and then sprung the trap on the  unsuspecting caller, or that my subconscious was actually absorbing things that were curent and trending, but in the end none of the attempts to explain this were a good fit..
If I was a spiritual person this would be the perfect time to find absolute faith in fate and the guiding hand of predestiny.
But sadly I am too much of a skeptic to make such an obvious leap.
I am really not much good in the morning, if I haven't had a good nights sleep. As a result if I have an early meeting in Cape Town or Johannesburg, I tend to fly out the previous day, spend the night at a hotel and arrive at the next mornings meeting fully refreshed and ready for action.
Once I was in Cape town at a hotel room, on a Sunday night, cooling my jets for a big Monday morning meeting. I passed the time flipping channels and came access the Heisenbergs uncertainly principle. I had heard of it but sadly not had the inclination to truly understand it.
Next morning I walked into a truly high powered meeting of the captains of industry and I could see in an instant that I was terribly out of my depth and that they were going to eat me for breakfast..
It was a cold and intimidating group.
I was toast.
Just as I started my pitch, I paused and asked them to first explain what the Heisenbergs uncertainty principal related to their business.
I pointed to the white board and on it was a cryptic formulae that I recognised from the night before.
The director answered that they had a super consultant in the previous week and he explained how they could measure some factors at the expense of others. Never both. He went on with some incredibly boring explaination that totally went over my head.
Everyone was soon talking, and it was clear I was on the inside.
They had decided that the geeky looking farm boy was 'all right' and everything was "peaches and cream".
Despite the fact that I was clueless about, just about everything that was going on.
Like I said I have given up trying to explain these incredible coincidences that have shaped and formed my life.
I simply cannot deny the fact that
I have the luck of the devil.
Someday I am sure it will run out, and I hope that when that happens I am able to look back at all the amazing incredible fantastic things I have stumbled into.
M Parak 2017.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The way of the blade.



I have an uncle who is a famous heart surgeon.
He might actually have been the first black in his field, certainly the first of Indian origins.
His work is valued so highly that he has not been allowed to retire.. For years he would retire and have somebody twist his arm into doing a bypass or some such thing.
Today I  heard that he stopped his professional insurance to, once and for all, make it impossible for him to get any work handed to him.
The reason for his popularity is quite odd. He was a very competent surgeon but there was no shortage of those. Even before he started turning down work (trying to retire) he was always sending people back to the specialists who referred him saying that the patient didn't need the operation.
In a world where surgeons have their scalpels in quick draw holsters here was a man who only cut open a chest when all else had failed. Only when he knew there was no other way.
This is the reputation that made him such a highly sought after surgeon.
I met him last year at a function and asked him about this. I told him what the talk on the street was about him and how he was ruffling feathers amongst heart specialists in refusing to perform operations that they had recommended.
I wanted to get his take on the situation and I must add that I could never in my wildest dreams have anticipated his reply.
He said that open heart surgery was probably the most invasive operation that anybody has to endure. That the surgery was traumatic for a strong young person but those who are subjected to it are the weakest most vulnerable of humanity.
He went on to say that the treatment plan usually consisted of three elements.
The lifestyle changes in terms of better eating habits, giving up smoking etc.
The second element is the regime of space age drugs that are prescribed to the patients.
The final element was the surgery that he was expected to perform.
From his perspective he was sure that even if the patient followed two out of three the outcome would be the same.
So in effect somebody who gave up the unhealthy lifestyle that caused the situation. Somebody who took all the meds, might be better off than somebody who in the weakest moment of their life had the life threatening surgery that taxed their already failing systems.
His reluctance to cut was based on his disbelief in the three part approach with the  frail and weak.
Especially when the oldest of them would only be blessed with a mere few years of pain, even with the best   outcome.
If only more surgeons took the time to be sure that the scalpel was the best and only course of action.
I have resisted the urge to write this as he was still practicing.
Today when I found out that he laid down the blade I realised that the statute of limitations was up and that I could tell this story in the hope that others may see the dangers that lie in the way of the blade..
M Parak. 2017.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Soiree, in Ramadan (pronounced swa ray)

For the past few years, in Ramadan, I have been invited to a few exclusive "soirees".
After evening salat, the guests, (all men), get together at the  hosts house.
The attendees are carefully selected for their interesting conversation, and one could  look forward to a late night barbecue, with expensive cigars, and really stimulating conversation with the most interesting people in town.
The host happens to be my cousin, who also lives on my road, so my invite is not based on any particular skill or any contribution that I may make to the nights affair.
The venue is a stunning poolside deck, that is enclosed all round and heated with gas burners  to create a  cozy space in the winter chill.
The men file in and fire up the expensive cigars, provided by the host, and the night begins.
Regular guest speakers include Hafiz Fudail Suffee, Judge President Japie and a host of other outspoken and often controversial public figures.
The conversation usually gravitates to controversial and often taboo elements in our history and in the news.
The setting is informally arranged aground sofas and there is no preset pecking order.
All the attendees  are captains of industry and leaders in their field. Most happen to be related to the host, from his father's side and the mood is "clubhouse" , "man cave" , and often very loud.
Most of these evening affairs are a celebration of excellent food, cigars and stimulating conversation. The industrial size barbecue, and the gas fired pizza oven, run flat out and the food, in the middle of Ramadan, really hits the spot.
I occasionally come away with a new author, or the name of a book that somebody recommended.
So there is that.
When the conversation gets too  serious or heavy, a splinter group, usually a younger crowd, breaks off to have a "pow wow" of their own. The topics here are much less cerebral, and far more raunchy.
Great fun.
I leave at midnight, because we have to get up early the next morning for ifthaar, (morning meal in Ramadan) but I am told the event really heats up in the early hours. The last of them breakup at 2 am and head home.
Since we are all Muslims, there is no alcohol, and this fact would serve to distinguish this event from the conventional soiree.
I look forward to meeting the funny and interesting people that attend. And the food is in itself really world class.
The host makes a new far-eastern exotic soup that is served before the meal takes off.
All in all, great fun in what would otherwise be a dull night in Ramadan.
It is a lot of work for the host and his family, and one tends to forget the amount of preparation that goes into something like this..
M Parak 2015

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

We  have heard this one all our lives, but only a few years ago did I really appreciate what it actually meant.

In the past I took it to mean that you can be beautiful to those who love you.

So you might not be a beauty queen to the masses, but those who are close to you, see you as beautiful.

I was then shown an alternate meaning that might actually be more profound.

If you take something beautiful and lock it in a safe, and nobody sees it, it stops being beautiful.

Beauty is not the object, but the image it creates in other people's minds.

The person who is born beautiful is not the one who is blessed by beauty. It's the people who see her who are blessed with beauty.

M Parak 2015

Message from the Queen (not written by me sadly.)

A MESSAGE FROM THE QUEEN
 
To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except North Dakota, which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, David Cameron, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded.  A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

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1. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour,' 'favour,' 'labour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters,  and the suffix '-ize' will be replaced by the suffix '-ise.'  Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels.  (look up 'vocabulary').

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2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ''like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf.  The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u'' and the elimination of  '-ize.'

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3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

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4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists.  The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent.  Guns should only be used for shooting grouse.  If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not ready to shoot grouse.

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5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler.  Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

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6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect.  At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables.  Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

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7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon.  Get used to it.

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8. You will learn to make real chips.  Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps.  Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

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9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all.  Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of  known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager.  South African beer is also acceptable, as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer.  They are also part of the British Commonwealth - see what it did for them.  American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

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10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys.  Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters.  Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialect in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed  with a cheese grater.

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11. You will cease playing American football.  There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer.  Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).

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12. Further, you will stop playing baseball.  It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America.  Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable.  You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

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13.. You must tell us who killed JFK.  It's been driving us mad.

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14. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

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15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream)  when in season.

God Save the Queen!



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