Wireless Network

My Linksys BEFW11S4 Wireless-B Cable/DSL Router is installed and working.

Working on my laptop instead of Amber’s extremely slow ancient PC is a lot more fun. After all, my laptop is more than 6 times faster and has 4 times the RAM compared to Amber’s machine. These are the only two machines connected to our LAN right now since we need to create some space to unpack my desktop and the printer.

The wireless network works everywhere in the apartment and in the stairwell. I should try it outside the building as well.

Here is what I did to secure my wireless network:

  1. Changed the Linksys admin utility password.
  2. Changed the default SSID on the router.
  3. Disabled SSID broadcast.
  4. Enabled WEP on both the router and the laptop.
  5. Set up MAC filtering on the wireless network to allow only my notebook access.

Anything else I need to do?

Women, Gays, Sex, Islam

Muslims should not just look at the halal and haram aspect of homosexuality but also try to be compassionate towards gay Muslims. The issue of women’s spaces in mosques is also an important one.

Here is an article about gay Muslims from a fellow Muslim blogger.

For years, I had fallen into the trap of the haraam/halaal debates that often produce nothing but frustration and inflated egos (my own included). Though I still get sucked in every so often, I try to stay away from that kind of thing and take a position similar to Sulayman X:

I no longer care. The issue is really quite simple, and there is no need for endless talk: gay people are human beings with human feelings and needs, and spiritual needs too, and the love they feel for others is the same love anyone feels for anyone else. Rejecting or hating them serves no useful purpose. Just because some homophobic people get a buzz from hating gays and lesbians does not mean that Allah agrees with them.

[…]What I do know is that each of our souls has the capacity to distinguish between right and wrong, and that the meanings of “right” and “wrong” are subject to infinite conditions only God is capable of sorting out. I also know that my knowledge pretty much ends at the one-God thing, and my conscience won’t allow me to disregard or reject someone who feels differently than I do. Voices condemning homosexuals to hell are abundant, but those voices don’t seem to mesh well with the themes that rise off the page every time I pick up the Qur’an.

Whether you agree or disagree with the positions that al-Fatiha [a gay Muslim organization] takes, understand that it provides a safe space for those Muslims who identify as queer, and that is a lot more than one can say about the mainstream Muslim community.

That is a very important point. Compassion and respect for others who are different from us in any way, whether in religious doctrine or in sexual orientation, is something we need to have a lot more of in the Muslim community.

While we are on the topic of Muslims and persecuted groups, Hijabman talks about women’s spaces in mosques. He cites a Hadith [saying of Prophet Muhammad] where he appointed a woman, Umm Waraqah, to lead prayers and both men and women prayed behind her. I must say I was unfamiliar with this and have only seen rulings about women being allowed to lead other women in prayer. I can’t excerpt HijabMan’s post properly, so I urge you to visit his blog and read it in full.

While we are breaking taboos, Muslim Wakeup started a Sex and the Umma series of fortnightly columns which have featured some short stories. It is not everyone’s cup of tea, but the stories can be thought-provoking as well a good read.

Mau Mau and Kenya

This is another book recommended to me by Conrad Barwa.

Mau Mau and Kenya: An Analysis of a Peasant Revolt by Wunyabari O. Maloba is a good book, though it is written somewhat in an academic language and hence can be dry at times. I guess that couldn’t be avoided since the book is based on the author’s Ph.D. thesis.

It covers the peasant revolt in Kenya in the 1950s against the British. Since I had no knowledge of these events, I found the details about the causes, the military campaign and the aftermath fascinating. The book gives an interesting look at the insurgency as well as British counter-insurgency operations.

Reading books about the history of colonialism always surprises me in how much racism and prejudice were not only common but quite open.

Another issue that piqued my interest is the role of church in Africa. Both Africa : A Biography of the Continent show direct and indirect support of the church and devout Christians for colonial authority. I wonder if there is a study on the role of Christianity (and Islam, for that matter) in Africa. Conrad?

Which Extremity of the World Are You?

I am Mount Everest!
Which Extremity of the World Are You?
From the towering colossi at Rum and Monkey.

Via Randy McDonald

Commenters Looking for Marriage

I don’t understand how much interested/desperate some of my commenters are for marriage that they are not only looking for a spouse online, they are asking about it on a page about forced marriage.

Here are some samples.

SANT5OSH:

WANT MARRY WITH YOU

That’s the most direct marriage proposal I have ever heard of. Especially since Sant5osh seems to be a guy. Do you think he knows I am a guy?

m , h.:

i am 29 years maile i want to marrige any poor girl can you help me this mater xxx[…]xxx than you

If he is a plant, why does he want to get married? But his intentions seem good since he wants to marry “any poor girl.” Or does he mean that any girl who consents to marry him must have poor luck?

gohar:

i am looking a beautiful girl who marry me and settle me on his country.i am a poor gay , handsome and smart, good looking, contact me on my mail address prince_somi2005@yahoo.com

A gay man wanting to marry a beautiful girl! And that too for immigration purposes. Plus he is poor but a “prince.” Talk about fraud on so many levels! He doesn’t mention which country he would like the girl to be from. Here is a chance for the Nigerian 419ers to branch out.

Umed Ali:

HI IAM 23 MALE LOOKING FOR SINCERE GIRL RITH FROM THE AGE OF 18 TO 35 FOR MARRIAGE , WHOM I CAN SHARE EVERYTHING ABOUT LIFE , U CAN CONTACT TO ME BY MY NO WHICH IS 00923002252908

A 23 year old guy looking for a girl who could be 12 years his senior. How often does that happen in Pakistan? And he gave his cell phone number. Any of my readers in Pakistan adventurous enough to call him and then comment here about it?

bassem

bassem
how are you im a good man im looking for woman for marry

At least, Bassem had the courtesy to ask how I am doing before going on about his desire for marriage. It seems he’s a simple man since all he’s looking for is a woman, no age or beauty restrictions, no passport desires, not even a requirement for the woman to be alive.

How Obsessed Are You With LotR?

I'm Level 2 obsessed!

On a scale of 1-5, 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest, you are…….Level 2 obsessed! You’ve seen the movies, probably read the books, and know that Tolkien is a truly fantastic author, and that Middle-earth is THE place to be.

How obsessed are you with LotR?

brought to you by Quizilla

Via Randy McDonald

Pregnancy Pics

I guess it’s time for some pictures since it’s the 27th week.

Amber in Week 27 Amber in Kameez Shalwar Amber and me

The pregnancy is finally showing, though it can be somewhat hidden in Amber’s Pakistani kameez shalwar.

Kill Bill, Troy, Lenin and More

Kill Bill Vol 2 isn’t really a separate movie from Kill Bill: Vol 1. It has a somewhat different feeling to it though. It is slower than the first one which was just non-stop action. This does result in some character development. It also is influenced by westerns. A good movie overall. Not great like Pulp Fiction, but good enough. Kianoush has a longer review of both movies.

Nine Queens is an Argentinian film about two con-men. In some ways, it is like Matchstick Men. I liked Nine Queens better while Amber was partial to Matchstick Men.

The Straight Story is the story of an old guy who rides a lawn mower across Iowa to meet his sick brother. An interesting movie, but I bet he couldn’t have done that anywhere other than Iowa (or Kansas).

When going to see Troy, forget most of the details of the Iliad. A general idea of the characters helps, but the movie is completely different. First, the gods don’t really exist in the movie. Different characters die and live as compared to the poem as well. It’s a fun movie to watch since I don’t care a whole lot about the integrity of the Iliad plot which most likely underwent a lot of changes over time. (See Rob’s rant about that.)

Goodbye, Lenin! is an excellent German movie set in East Berlin around the events of 1989-90 and the fall of the Berlin wall. Highly recommended.

Africa: A Biography

One of the major faults of Africa : A Biography of the Continent is a lack of maps. I like to look at a map of the region whne reading about it and I missed that sorely while reading John Reader’s book.

The book covers only subsaharan Africa, but that is not a problem in my opinion since it was subsaharan Africa that I wanted to know about.

John Reader starts out at the dawn of time and ends around the time of African independence. The earlier chapters which discuss the advent of man etc. are better than the later ones, but the whole book is worth reading.

Obviously, one can’t cover everything (or even 1% of it) about African history in a single book. Reader’s approach is to cover some general ideas, like slavery, cities, imperialism, by writing about some specific case studies of those phenomenon. This technique works for this book, but it definitely leaves a lot more questions than it answers.

A lot of history books give me the feeling of deja vu, like we in present times are experiencing some aspect of history again. One constant is the contempt for the enemy that we humans have and our belief that only through force can we convince our enemy to respect us. An example would be the British governor of the Cape Colony, John Cradock, speaking after the military campaign against the Xhosa in the early 19th century:

I am happy to add that in the course of this service there has not been shed more Kaffir blood than would seem to be necessary to impress on the minds of these savages a proper degree of terror and respect.

Among the injustices of colonialism, there is also a discussion of the arbitrary borders that the colonial powers imposed on African countries. While Africa has the largest number of countries of any continent, the borders of these countries divide quite a few ethnic groups into two or more countries while putting ethnic groups with old enmities in the same country.

A survey shows that no fewer than 177 ethnic “culture areas” in Africa are divided by national boundaries. Every land boundary cuts through at least one. The Nigeria-Cameroon boundary divides fourteen, while the boundaries of Burkina Faso cut through twenty-one.

The worst example of strange borders is probably Gambia, a country 500 kilometer long but only 20 km wide at places. The Gambia was carved out around the Gambia river by the British. It is surrounded by Senegal which was under French rule.

Another related issue is the transport infrastructure which was built to transport raw materials from the interior to the ports for shipping to the colonial powers. This has meant a lack of road and rail connections between African countries, hampering trade among these countries.

The chapters about South Africa, a country I visited in 1996, provided me with some new information as well, even though I am somewhat familiar with their history. For example, I didn’t know that more blacks were incarcerated in concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer war by Kitchener than were Afrikaners. At least 14,154 blacks died in the camps by May 1902.

Belgium comes looking like one of the worse colonial powers in the sections on colonialism and independence for its mismanagement of Congo and Rwanda-Burundi. From the Congo Free State to the practice of forced labor in Congo and Rwanda-Burundi to its contribution in the Tutsi-Hutu conflict, Belgium doesn’t sound like the modern country with universal human rights jurisdiction.

The Belgian colonial government passed a law in 1926 to classify everyone into Tutsis and Hutus on their identity cards.

Where appearance was indecisive and proof of ancestry was lacking, a simple formula was applied: those with ten cows or more were classified as Tutsi, those with less were Hutu.

You should also read Pedantry’s four-part series on Congo history.

Week 21: Level 2 Diagnostic Ultrasound

The child finally looks human

I was scheduled for a level 2 diagnostic ultrasound during the 21st week. Myself and Zack were very excited as we were told that at 21st week the baby looks like a complete human vs “human like” in the early weeks.

The ultrasound was scheduled at around 7:30am. We reached our lab and the procedure started. Our baby was lying on her tummy and was very active. The ultrasound technicion took at least 50 different views. The sonogram included brain, kidneys, heart, legs, arms, face, hands, feet and what not. It continued for 2 hours. All that time our little one did not sit idle for a sec. She was not very co-operative. At one point the technician said to us “what a crazy kid she is, she is not letting me have the details I need to do”. But by hook or crook, all of the diagnosis was done. We were blessed to know that everything is normal.

The most amazing part was that at one point in time, she almost raised her head and seemed like she looked at us (that’s how it appeared on the screen) and while doing it, she used her pretty little hands and wiped her face. According to the lady performing the procedure, very few kids do use their hands to clean their face. Seems like we will have a neat, tidy kid after all. Like mother like daughter.

Progress of the fetus

During the 21st week,

Your baby can still move all over in the amniotic fluid. Towards the end of this trimester the baby will begin to settle, usually in a head down position (Although some babies do not turn head down until late in the last trimester.). About 3-4% of babies will remain in a breech position. Your baby weighs just under a pound (13 ounces or 369 grams).