Transformations in Slavery

A good book dense with facts and analysis. Not for the faint of heart, but highly recommended for the serious reader.

Transformations in Slavery : A History of Slavery in Africa by Paul Lovejoy is a book dense with facts and analysis. It is definitely not for the casual reader but if you are really interested in the topic of slavery in Africa and how it transformed the political economy there this is probably the book to read.

Transformations in Slavery covers the history of Africa from the perspective of slavery. It looks at how slavery itself changed due to external factors (i.e. Arab and European demands for African slaves) and how the organization of African society was affected by that.

Reading the book, the centrality of slavery in African history over the past few centuries seems clear. Paul Lovejoy analyzes slavery as a “mode of production” and develops a broad outline of that history over the course of the 15th century to the end of the 19th century and in the different regions. He explains how slavery became completely intertwined in and affected the whole system, like trade, government, agriculture.

Hat tip: Conrad Barwa for recommending this book.

Heart Rate and Running

What target heart rate to run to achieve better endurance? Most methods and websites suggest a target heart rate below 150 bpm for me. I had been running at a much higher intensity before. Is that the reason for my lack of much progress recently?

Unqualified Offerings had a recent post which got me thinking about my running effort.

First of all, a confession: I haven’t been running for a couple of months now. One reason is the hot, muggy weather here. Plus I was getting stuck and not making much progress lately. The initial few months were good. I lost all the weight I needed to lose and got my resting heart rate close to 50 beats per minute as well.

However, my running distance as well as speed were not improving much after that. From Jim’s fitness blogging, I think I see why. My heart rate during running has been too high which means that I haven’t been building as much endurance as I should and I tire after running for short distances (3 miles or so).

Looking at the different methods to calculate target heart rates, I get the following results:

  • 220-Age method gives a 65—85% rate of 120.9—158.1 bpm. The middle point of 75% is 139.5 beats per minute.
  • The heart rate reserve method gives a 60—80% rate of 132.4—159.2 bpm with a middle point of 145.8.
  • The Maffetone method gives a target heart rate of 141 bpm.

I knew that I was running at a much higher heart rate than 140—145. To quantify, I made heart rate measurements every 20 seconds with my heart rate monitor during a running/walking session.

Heart Rate While Running

As you can see, a couple of minutes after I start running, my heart rate crosses 160 bpm and then stays above that unless I stop running (and start walking).

Reading the information provided by Unqualified Offerings, it looks like I am expending too much effort and hence not reaping the benefits of increased endurance. I also realized that the running program I am following says to run at “conversation effort.”

Therefore, I have decided to actually reduce the intensity of my workout by following the Couch-to-5K running plan. Week 1 and Week 2 on that plan have been very easy and I haven’t felt tired after the run/walk. Let’s see if this new plan works better in building endurance than my previous efforts.

Star Wars

Before watching “Revenge of the Sith,” we decided to watch all the other episodes. Overall, I love Star Wars, but there are a lot of problems in dialog, plot and acting.

When Episode III: Revenge of the Sith came out, we decided to watch all the previous episodes first which we already owned on DVD. Watching the whole series, I realized that if I hadn’t grown up with Star Wars, I wouldn’t like it as much as I do. I understand the achievements of the original three movies but watching them now they don’t seem overwhelming.

All the movies share bad dialog and a weak plot but the newer episodes (i.e. the prequels, episodes I, II, and III) are especially bad. For example, the romance of Anakin and Padme has absolutely no chemistry. Anakin sounds and looks like a petulant teenager all the time. In fact, the movie is filled with bad acting, even though the actors have done some good work in other movies. So it seems that George Lucas really needed a scriptwriter as well as a director.

Two things I wish existed in real life rather than movie-land are:

  1. Lava which is cool even at close range. You actually have to jump into the lava to die, but you can stand (and fight and jump etc.) right next to it. That would be so cool. I could actually be able to enjoy lava like that.
  2. Loss of will to live: In movies, someone just loses the will to live and dies soon enough. In real life, the poor schmuck would have to kill herself. I must say this lack of will to live could come in handy for the pro-euthanasia folk.

All that said, Revenge of the Sith is definitely the best of the prequels. Here is my rating of the six movies.

  1. Empire Strikes Back 9/10
  2. A New Hope 8/10
  3. Revenge of the Sith 7/10
  4. Return of the Jedi 6/10
  5. Attack of the Clones 6/10
  6. The Phantom Menace 5/10

Still, I have enjoyed Star Wars since I was a kid and it is one of the few movies in my DVD collection.

Michelle at One

Michelle is one year old today. After Michelle went to sleep yesterday, we decorated the apartment for her birthday party. The three of us were the only ones at the party since we decided it would a hassle for Michelle to be dressed up with all the party stuff etc. with so many people around. Almost all birthdays for 1 year olds that we have been to overwhelm the kid.

During the last few months, lots of things have happened. Michelle now prefers to eat food herself though her proficiency varies from food to food. She crawls very well and walks from one end of the room to another with some kind of support. In fact, it’s more like psychological support than physical as a lot of the time she’s just touching the “support”. But she refuses to walk by herself for now. Michelle is also a climber. She climbs on to the couch and the coffee table and off of them as well. She even tries it on our bed but that is too high for her.

Michelle talks quite a lot but most of it is Michelle-speak. It does seem that she’s speaking whole thoughts and sentences. She says a few words as well. Her first word was آ جا, which means “come here” in Urdu. Her second was “fish” which she said while pointing to the pond that we walk by every day. She also says “bye bye” and both Amber and I are her “ma” or “mama”.

Seriously busy
That's another way to move
Walking Outside
Looking at Amber
Does she want to get out?
Doesn't need anything to pull herself up
It's a Ghagra, I think!
Snacking by herself
A chocolate fan
Nice stuff hidden here!
Drawers almost done!
Now sit in the chair
Is that a ghost?
Tightly-packed books won't budge

The party photos will have to wait for later.

سالگرہ مبارک

میرے والدین کو سالگرہ مبارک۔ امی کی سالگرہ کل تھی اور ابو کی کل ہے۔

جس طرح دسمبر میری زندگی میں اہم مہینہ ہے (میری پیدائش، منگنی اور شادی سب اسی مہینے میں ہوئیں) اسی طرح اگست کا مہینہ بھی خاص ہے۔ میری بیٹی اگست میں پیدا ہوئی اور میرے والدین بھی۔ میری امی کی پیدائش ۴ اگست کی ہے اور میرے ابو کی ۶ اگست کی۔ لہذا میں نے سوچا کہ ۵ تاریخ کو پوسٹ لکھی جائے۔

امی اور ابو سالگرہ مبارک ہو۔

December, as you might know, is an important month in my life. So is August. Last year, my daughter Michelle was born on August 12. Also, my parents were born in August. My Mom was born on August 4 and my Dad on August 6. That’s why I am writing this post on the 5th.

Happy birthday, Mom and Dad!

اے خدا تو ہمیں آئس کریم والے سے لے دے آئس کریم آ کر

اعجاز کے بلاگ پر انور اقبال کی یہ نظم رومن اردو میں ہے۔ میں نے سوچا کہ کیوں نہ اسے اردو میں لکھا جائے۔

اعجاز کے بلاگ پر انور اقبال کی یہ نظم رومن اردو میں ہے۔ میں نے سوچا کہ کیوں نہ اسے اردو میں لکھا جائے۔

اے خدا تو ہمیں آئس کریم والے سے لے دے آئس کریم آ کر

بادبان کھلنے لگے پھر
کشتیاں سفر پر روانہ ہوئیں
دروازوں پہ دستک ہوئی
دھند میں بدلتے موسموں کی
خوف جاگا اندھے سفر کا

دیواروں پہ تصویریں سجائی گئیں
انکی جو کل تک
درمیان تھے ہمارے مگر اب
فقط نقش دیوار ہیں وہ

مگر اے خدا بندگی
فقط خوف کا سلسلہ تو نہیں ہے
لوٹ آ کہ ہمارے دلوں میں
وسوسے سر اٹھانے لگے ہیں

دیکھ ہمارے صحن میں
بچپن کے وہ دن اب تک کھڑے ہیں
کہ جب تو ہمارے درمیان
خوشبوؤں کی طرح
موجود رہتا تھا ہر وقت

لوٹ آ کہ جنگلوں کی دھندلی شام
منتظر ہے اب تک تیری آہٹوں کی
آ کہ شاخوں سے اترتی آس کی روشن لکیر
برسوں رستہ تکتی رہی ہے تیرا

آ کہ ہوا کی سرگوشیوں میں اب بھی
تیری واپسی کی خبر ہے

یاد کر وہ دن کہ جب تو ہمارا
ہمسفر برسوں رہا تھا
خوشنما پرندوں کے پروں پہ
نام لکھ کر تیرا ہم
اپنے معصوم کھیلوں میں تیری موجودگی کی
شہادت دیتے رہے تھے

تتلیوں کے رنگوں میں تیری مہک تھی
خواب تھے تعبیر جن کی
جگنووں کی روشنی میں ڈھونڈتے رہتے تھے ہم
ہمارے درمیان تو رات بھی حائل نہیں تھی
مہربان تھی جنگلوں کی شام ہم پہ
ساتھ رہتی تھی ہمارے
صبح کی پہلی کرن کی واپسی تک

لیکن پھر جنگلوں کی شام پر
اجنبی چہروں کی پرچھائیاں پڑنے لگیں
کون تھے یہ لوگ ہم سے کہہ رہے تھے جو خدا
تتلیوں کے رنگ تیرے ہاتھ پہ سجتے نہیں
جگنووں کی روشنی سے بہتر ہے اندھیرے کا سفر

آؤ خدا کو لے چلیں شہر کے بچوں سے دور
ہم نے ان کو آج تک دیکھا نہیں ہے، اے خدا
بارشوں میں بھیگتے، چاندنی میں
خواب کی آہٹیں سنتے ہوئے
وہ کہ جن کو آج تک آیا نہیں،
خوشبوؤں کی زبان میں لکھے
صحیفے پڑھ لینے کا ہنر

وہ کہ جن کی آنکھوں نے خود سپردگی کا معجزہ
آج تک دیکھا نہیں
یہ نہ آشانہ لذت ہجر و وصال نامہ بر
کیسے ہوا اس خدا کے حکم سے جس کی
ہجر کی راتوں میں بھی وصل کا ذائقہ رکھا گیا

ہم نے دیکھا ہے تجھے
بارشوں میں خوشبوؤں کا رنگ جگاتے، اے خدا
ہم نے دیکھا ہے
پہاڑوں سے اترتی شام کو آسمان سے گلے ملتے ہوئے
ہم نے دیکھا ہے
رات کے پچھلے پہر کا وصل
صبح کی پہلی کرن سے اے خدا،

اے روشنیوں، رنگوں، امنگوں کے خدا لوٹ آ
ٹھہر گئی ہے جنگلوں کی شام دیکھ
انہی پگڈنڈیوں پہ تیرے ساتھ ہم جہاں
خوشنما پرندوں کے پر چنتے رہے تھے

آ کہ ہم تتلیوں کے رنگ آنکھوں میں سجائے
جگنووں کی روشنی میں پیچھا کریں پھر رات کا

پھر شام کو ساحلوں پر بھیگتے لوگوں میں بیٹھیں
اور اے خدا تو ہیمیں آئس کریم والے سے
لے دے آئس کریم آ کر

میرا خیال ہے کہ میں نے اس میں کئی غلطیاں کی ہیں۔ امید ہے آپ انہیں درست کرنے میں میری مدد کریں گے۔