Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Six Lessons from the Jian Ghomeshi sex assault trial

Jian Ghomeshi was a somewhat famous radio personality in Canada. In 2016 he went on trial as some (three) women accused him of sex assaults way back in the past. Since it was so far back, all the judge (and jury) had were his words versus theirs. Here was a dominating radio personality versus what could charitably be called as his former groupies. The case attracted wide coverage in Canada and shone a spotlight on sex assault trials, their flaws, and women's rights as a whole.

To add spice to the mix, the lawyer defending Ghomeshi was a woman herself, a brilliant solicitor named Marie Henein. She completely skewered the witnesses and their statements, cast doubt on their allegations and brilliantly defended her client. In the end, Ghomeshi was found not guilty and many feminists turned their ammo on Henein, calling her an anti-feminist and an anti-woman. Another case is pending trial as of this post.

Here's six lessons I drew from this whole saga.

  1. Life isn't fair.

    Maybe Ghomeshi is guilty. Maybe he isn't. We will never know. All we have is that there wasn't enough evidence to convict him based on some doubtful allegations. This is why we Muslims are taught there is a Day of Judgement at the end of Time where God will dispense perfect justice for everything that happened in this life.
  2. Be smart. Shit happens.

    Just because you are right, doesn't mean you will win (see Point #1). Ghomeshi’s accusers ignored some common-sense rules.
    • Don’t talk to the media.
    • Don’t communicate with the other complainants.
    • Try to remember every detail of the assault.
    • Comb over old emails, correspondence or interactions with the accused that could be used to contradict or undermine allegations.
    • And, most important: Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
  3. Don't be a slut, regardless of what some (extreme) feminist activists say.

    It has become common now to say being a slut is being "empowered". We have Slutwalk in Toronto where women dress provocatively (or don't dress at all) and go for a parade, and are ogled by bystanders and whistled at, and somehow this is empowering.

    You should never be sending a picture of your naked self to anyone.
  4. Do not lose your objectivity over adulation. Do not be a groupie. Have respect for yourself.

    These women did not stop corresponding with Ghomeshi even after their assault, and continued to speak glowingly about (and to) him, and only turned bitter once they were ignored.
  5. Again, regardless of what some people teach you, if you are a woman - take care of yourself. Be careful.

    Yes, we know it isn't right that a woman ever be subject to a sexual assault. No matter what she is wearing, doing, saying - it isn't her fault.

    Yet, that theoretical principle won't stop an actual assault from taking place. Be careful, be vigilant - always.
  6. Finally, just like I shouldn't support Ghomeshi just because he's a guy, as a woman, any women shouldn't feel the need to help other women just because they are women. Do what's right, always.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Which TTC Seat is the best?

I have been travelling in Toronto using the "better way" aka the subway aka TTC for the last 3 years. Since I get on at the end of the line, I have a whole empty subway train in the morning to select from as to where to sear. It's a debate that has often plagued me - am I using the best seat for optimum comfort? I present to you the options.

This is the typical layout of a Toronto subway train on the Bloor-Danforth line. A group of 5 seats in close proximity to each other.

Seat A - Good if you are a thin person (I am not). You have a whole side to lean against (on your left), so you can simply cozy up and sleep.

Seat B - Really tight. Sometimes someone like me seats in Seat A, so they are really occupying a little portion of Seat B. Then you really have 80% of Seat B. And a pillar. This is the worst seat.

Seat C - I like this seat. The empty space between this and Seat D means lots of space if you are not exactly thin. The pillar prevents the person in Seat B from occupying your space. The best seat, in my opinion.

Seat D - Once again you have a whole wall to lean on. But your leg space is tightly cramped first by person in Seat C, and second from the heating duct at the bottom. So you have a full seat till your waist, and then three quarters of a place to put your legs down. This is a seat for thin girls.

Seat E - the back up seat to Seat C. You have a whole space on the left of the seat (or right if it's on the other side) to stretch out. There's a pillar to rest your head on (not shown in this picture).

What do you think? Which seat is best?

Remember, the target is to peacefully sleep like this:

So if you know which door to enter from when the train comes to a stop, you can go grab your seat.

As a bonus, here's the seats on the smaller Scarborough RT.

The Scarborough RT's a really short ride to fall asleep (plus it's Scarborough so you really want to be awake) but I think in this case, seat C is the best. You have this whole space between the seats, so it's not just the seat, but more, and a pillar to ward off other encroachers. Good seat design.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Frustrating Reponses When Talking of "Islamic" Mortgage

I will be blunt - whenever I see an ad for an "Islamic" mortgage, or a commercial on how to finance your house "the halal way", my scam alert meter activates. They go through all these fancy brochures explaining their methodology (why? how long does it take to explain how you are lending me money and making a profit?) and at the end of the day, it's interest - just called differently ("profit rate" - whose profit? How do I - the buyer, the borrower - have a "profit rate"?).

The fact that it's all a scam isn't even an outrageous idea; BBC had an article on 'how Islamic is Islamic banking'. The very fact that an Islamic bank can give you a bond (which by its definition is tied to an interest rate), give it an Arabic name (sukook) and thus make it halal tells you all you need to know that most Islamic 'halal' financing is a big scam.

But this post is not about that. This post is about how, when you tell some Muslims this, and why you will be forced to go to a conventional banking for a mortgage, they come up with all sort of statements that frankly says they haven't even spent a minute thinking about the issue.

Why do you need to buy? You can rent all your life?

OK, so unless you have done a comprehensive rent vs mortgage calculation, such as this one in the Financial Post or Toronto Star, you shouldn't be saying this. What it usually means is that you as a Muslim have decided not to borrow from the bank and pay interest due to your religious beliefs (fair point), but because of this you have also decided renting is far better than property ownership (debatable). Most articles that say renting could be better always say could be, or may be, or possibly. They also make a big assumption that you will invest the savings you get when you pay a lower amount of money in rent into the stock market, and that you will invest successfully, and you will have no landlord issues, and so on. Plus, rent is also going up every year.

You don't need to borrow the money, you can save and buy it outright.

Ya, right. Every year the prices continue to rise, and the rate far exceeds an average person's saving grace.

Muslims should reconsider living in the first world where prices are high and buy properties in Muslim countries where its cheaper.

When a scholar actually says this, you don't know whether to laugh or cry. First of all, the price of a house depends on where you live, but so does your earning! I can buy a huge plot of land with a house on it in Rangpur, Bangladesh, for less than my monthly salary in Canada, but what good does that do me? I live here, I need a house here. If I lived in Rangpur, I wouldn't be making the money I make here, so the scale of that house to my earning would be the same scale of a house here to my earning here. It's the same problem.

And anyone who thinks house prices are cheaper in Muslim areas clearly hasn't even done their research (Dubai? Islamabad? Dhaka? - just to give a few) It's this type of lazy speaking that bugs me. Do your research and bring some interesting points to the debate.

Quran says interest is haram. Period. Surah X, verse Y.

Usually accompanied by a Dr. Zakir Naik picture.

Look, no one is arguing that. Or debating that. But the Quran also says eating pork is haram, and we are well aware that Quranic verses do not apply when there's a necessity. If you are in a desert with nothing to eat for days and then you see a pig, you are allowed to kill it and eat.

But we are not in a desert. We can live without purchasing a house. It's not a necessity.

Well, some scholars say it is. Let's debate that, shall we. I am not saying they are right or wrong, but let's hear what they ...

Nowadays scholars will say anything for money. They will say anything is halal. It's contradictory to the Quran!

Exactly! So is "Islamic" financing, yet Muslims seemingly ignore those issues because it has an Islamic label to it. Again, I am not saying let's all go to CIBC and borrow some cash, I am saying let's talk about this intelligently.

There's nothing to discuss. Interest is haram. Period. You don't need to buy a house, you can rent it.

Aaaaaand we are back to square one.

Look, just pray 12 rakat daily and you will get a house in Jannah. Ha ha.

What. The. Fiqh.

That's like a person who cut his finger going to the doctor and the doctor is saying don't worry, in jannah you will be a young beautiful man with a houri. Solve the problem here and now.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Most Irritating South Asian Habits

Don't misquote me - being South Asian is a great thing. I used to joke with my wife that there are two types of people in this world. Desi - and those who wish they were desi.

Of course, being the huge multi cultural amalgam that South Asia is, there are some ... shall we say ... extremely irritating habits that we have that I absolutely, with all my heart, hate. So let's be controversial and list them.

1. Not taking off your shoes or sandals when entering someone's house.

I am going to call out the ladies here. What's with NOT TAKING OFF YOUR SANDALS when you come into someone's house? I know you spent a lot of time putting on your sari and getting the pleats right while wearing your sandals to match for the height, but please take off your bloody sandal when you step foot into the house!

I have decided to stop being polite on this issue and just call out people who do not take off their shoes when entering my house (politely, of course in a passive aggressive manner, we are still Canadian) by sending this article to them in their mail.

2. Picking up someone's baby when clearly you shouldn't.

Humanity, as a whole, have a thing for babies. We love to cuddle them, hug them, pick them up, kiss them, and say nonsense words to them. It's overall a good thing, and no doubt plays a part in the propagation of our species. However this is NOT a good idea when you have a cold and are sneezing and full of germs and antibiotics.

At a party recently this aunty who clearly had the sniffles (btw why are you EVEN AT THE PARTY? Couldn't you call and cancel since you clearly are spreading germs all over but I digress...) wanted to pick up my baby son because she was seeing him after a long while and how much he has grown etc. etc. That's where I stepped in and said, "But aunty you have a cold."

That should have been enough but like a bulldozer that mated with a rhino the comment clearly did not penetrate her consciousness and she replied, "Oh it's just nothing. I don't even have fever any more."

That's when I said, "No aunty, I would prefer you not touch him."

Further discussion was prevented when my son so helpfully decided at that point to burst out crying and shrieking with all of his power so I deftly exited the room with him and deposited him with his mother. Good timing, son!

When I returned I overheard aunty saying to someone (another aunty), "Oh nowadays these kids read too much from online. In my day ..."

3. The Weight Watchers Club

No, this isn't the club of uncles and aunties who are trying to lose weight (although they really could). No, this is the cabal (yeah, that's the right word) of uncles and aunties who have noted down with precision what you used to weigh at a certain point in time and how much you have put on from that time till today. I have written about them before.

I think one day I will really lose it if some uncle tries to make some comment.

"Oh, so you seem to have put on some weight ..."

"Oh, so your daughter is going out with a white boy ..."

4. Not Showing Up For Time. Ever. Even For Your Own Wedding.

I get a wedding card and this is really how it reads.

6 pm
Arrival of the guests.
6.30 pm
Entrance of the Bride and Groom.
7 pm
Nikah Ceremony
7.30 pm
Cake cutting ceremony and speeches
8 pm Skit by the couple's friends and relatives
8.30 pm

And this is how I edit it.

6 8 pm
Arrival of the guests.
6.30 9 pm
Entrance of the Bride and Groom.
7 930 pm
Nikah Ceremony
7.30 10.30 pm
Cake cutting ceremony and speeches
8 pm Skit by the couple's friends and relatives  rescheduled after dinner
8.30 11 pm

I think this post is to be continued ....