Logic is Variable

an argument starts here

How many facebook friends you have?

When the 5000 friend limit on Facebook just isn’t enough in this age of friendaholism!


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 10:00 AM, , links to this post

How to lead higher education through the Digital Age

Here at the University of Virginia, we have been going through a traumatic couple of weeks. As a result of a reckless and radical move by the Board of Visitors to drive President Teresa Sullivan from her office, we have lost financial support, students, and talented colleagues. The board has damaged the reputation of this great institution. So we on the faculty are fighting to restore the reputation. Read here.

posted by S A J Shirazi @ 4:49 PM, , links to this post

Painted on wall

I was at at School of Visual Arts and Design, Beacon House National University to attend opening ceremony of Institute for Experimental Construction and a Workshop when I saw this moral on the wall. How real?

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 8:30 AM, , links to this post

Celebrating Mian Muhammad Bukhsh

Sufism has become the last hope for promoting tolerance, harmony and brotherhood among the worldly nations. Mystics have used their poetry promoting the human loving values among the masses of the South Asia. Punjabi poets like Mian Muhammad Bukhsh, Buleh Shah and Guru Nanak have disseminated the human loving libertarian values among the people of Punjab. These Sufis awakened the messes against the undemocratic and fascist forces in the Indo-Pak subcontinent. Literature of Punjabi Sufi poets preserves rich ethical values in their message. It is need of the hour to trace the socio-psychological meanings of their poetry. The Centre for History, Political Science and International Relations at the Hafiz Hayat Campus will cooperate with the Gujrat based society for the uplift for the culture and heritage to explore more avenues of research in the Punjabi literature. These remarks were passed by the Vice Chancellor University of Gujrat Prof Dr Muhammad Nizamuddin while presiding over the first session of the seminar on the 104th anniversary of Punjabi Sufi poet Mian Muhammad Bukhsh at Hafiz Hayat Campus, the University of Gujrat.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 8:30 AM, , links to this post

Twitter is full of regional accents

Tweeting about what club "y'all" are going to tonight? Must be from the South. Looking forward to "suttin" special? Then you probably live in New York. Think that new movie was "koo?" Northern California.

The words you write on Twitter can tell people more than just the status of your relationship or how you like the latest Bon Jovi CD. It may just indicate not only how you're living, but where you're living in the U.S.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 8:58 AM, , links to this post

Growing up in digital age

Allison Miller, 14, sends and receives 27,000 texts in a month, her fingers clicking at a blistering pace as she carries on as many as seven text conversations at a time. She texts between classes, at the moment soccer practice ends, while being driven to and from school and, often, while studying.

Read Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction by MATT RICHTEL

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:30 AM, , links to this post

Romantic Gujrat

This article appeared in the daily News

Pass the River Chanab and one starts thinking of romantic folklore Sohni Mahiwal, the last and decisive battle fought between British and Sikh forces, the saints who left their marks in this part of the world, micro encephalic children called 'Daulay Shah k Choohay' (rats of Shah Daula) or world class industries that are Gujrat’s claims to fame. But what you see while travelling on Grand Trunk Road passing through Gujrat is the nerve jarring rattle of auto rickshaws, tangle of tongas and donkey carts vying for space with mechanical transport, vendors and shoppers and second hand cloths (landa) hung on the walls. Even the lately built bypass is as crowded and encroached upon.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:16 AM, , links to this post

Celebrating Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Renowned Indian Film Actress, Shabana Azmi, Ila arun, Saleema Hashmi, Arshad Mehmood and Allama Saeed Azhar pay tribute to legendary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz by attending the Faiz Aman Mela (festival) in Lahore. The event was speckled with performances by Arif Lohar, Sain Nasir and other renowned artists.

Punjab Arts Council’s Director programmes and Punjab Institute of Language Art and Culture Director conducted the show and welcomed the Indian delegation which reached the venue in the company of Saleema Hashmi. 

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 3:57 PM, , links to this post

On load shedding

We in Pakistan are having load shedding; worst ever. You have to live here to understand that.

Industry and corporate sector is facing the brunt and production is declining. But this is about the plight of a common people.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 8:00 AM, , links to this post

This is about you

Look a lot of people are gathered there. Is there any marriage reception going on?
Is someone is getting engaged/
Have someone been blessed with a child?
Then it must be a charity?
You are again wrong.
Then why is this festivity, and a feast?
A critic has favorably mentioned a poet in his book. Poet is celebrating the occasion.

Performing arts
Where are you coming from?
From club where Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was performing!
How was the performance?
I have no idea!
I was so absorbed in looking at Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan that I never realized how he was singing.

Battle within
There are no chances of this horrible battle coming to an end.
United Nations will sure manage to end this.
No, no. I am not talking of war that has been imposed upon our country.
Which battle are you talking about?
The one which waging within!

On the basis of doubt
Why can’t a police officer serve as a judge?
And why can a judge work as police?
Because they both have their own different points of view!
How come?
Police bases the case on doubt and judge always gives the benefit of doubt to accused.

Change has come
He has changed.
Yes, change has come after he spent a moonlit night alone in the wilderness for observation.

How you live
As sun warms and shadow cools, all the artifacts in the world have their distinct features by which they are characterized. How are human characterized?
By the ways they live.

You are the most beautiful. I can go to any amount for you.
What did you say?
Nothing. I didn’t say anything.
You were just saying something to that girl.
No. That wasn’t me.
Who was that?
My lust!

In search of
Who are you searching for?
To myself!
What a search? You know yourself in and out.
That is not me. That is nature – came in this world, grew up, started earning, got married, got children, and now looking for their careers and marriages.
Where is me?

Which is the baggiest force in the world?
And which is the weakest force in the world.
Again love!

What an orator he is?
But I don’t find anything special in him.
You haven’t observed. He doesn’t give importance to what he is to say. He weighs more to what he doesn’t have to say.
High stature
He is a very honest civil servant.
Which is why he has not been able to build himself a house?
Right, but he has built so much more.
High stature!

Those under privileged
He is a practicing symbol of wisdom. It is a daunting task to change sadness into happiness. He has done that.
He used to remain unhappy seeing helpless, sick and the poor people. A time came when he reached the verge of suicide. And then he decided to stay aloof. But over time I saw him happy.
How has this change come?
I have dedicated my life to serve the under privileged (helpless, sick and the poor) and now I don’t suffer.
But how have you changed?
Changed came to me by serving him.

One of the biggest pleasures has been bestowed upon me, he revealed beaming.
Your physical conditions do not reveal that you have any bliss in life. You keep crying in the middle of nights. You seem to be one of the most deprived human beings instead. How come you say that you have been blessed with the greatest delight in life? What is that by the way?
Crying in the middle of night is precisely my greatest rapture.

Treat your soul
“Get the treatment for injuries to your soul,” a vender was shouting in the street.
I was reminded of the craftsmen of Lakhnow who used to sell ‘companions for loneliness’ in the streets. They used to sell pillows. I came out thinking that this vendor is offering something similar.
I asked for treatment for my soul injuries. He opened his bag and that contained poetry books music CDs.

This is about you
He brought jubilation when at birth. But the joyousness kept changing into sadness over time; demands, mischief and worry for his future. What is more, his demand kept growing as he grew and it was not possible to meet them all. He started stealing and the canceling by telling lies as a habit.
Not only that, he developed friendship with likeminded including girls and also started going for films and theaters. 

Thanks to the persuasion of his parents that he could complete his education. They also tried to bring religion but in vein. He got married. After some time he had a second married rich girl, mainly for wealth. Second wife brought a lot in dowry. This was beginning of bigger troubles.

He joined civil service. He was very tough on his subordinates and would go to any extent to please his superiors. He used to take bribe and misuse all official privileges but no work until absolutely essential. His life was filled with luxuries to say the least.

In youth he developed diabetes and blog pressure. Bickering wives, growing kids, departmental problems resulted into sudden cardiac arrest and he passed away.
What are you talking about?

This may be about anyone living on earth today. 

Translated from Sitaroon Ki Bastiyan by Abbas Khan.  

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:06 AM, , links to this post

Chill out at Chilas

In northern Pakistan, Chilas - a small town - was once an important crossroads on the ancient trading route taken by travellers like Marco Polo. A jeep track leads from Chilas over the Babusar Pass to the Kaghan Valley. Until the opening of Karakorum Highway (KKH) this track was the main route to the Northern Areas of Pakistan. Going still is tough on the route that is passable only in the summers. We decided to take this track when I took the trip in May with my comrades, which started from Shinkiari.

Before leaving Chilas, visit to the famous inscriptions on the rocks is a must. Ancient inscriptions around Chilas date back in a period around first century BC. The most interesting thematic inscriptions are itched onto the faces of rocks between the KKH and the Indus River below Chilas town. One of the most interesting rock drawings we saw depicts two figures dressed in robes -- presumably Buddhist monks -- approaching a stupa in order to worship.

The larger figure with a shaven head is carrying some sort of offering. The stupa to which theoffering is being made consists of a rectangular foundation with a ladder leading up to the path for circumambulation, which is surrounded by a railing. The dome of the stupa is decorated with a zigzag line, may be indicating a garland, and is surmounted by a small rectangular shrine and a vertical shaft with three horizontal discs. The architectural and stylistic features of this stupa drawing are similar to those of stupas found in the Swat Valley and other parts of ancient Gandhara in north-western Pakistan. Above the human figure making an offer and to the left of the dome of the stupa is a drawing of a single pillar with a capital (apparently a wild goat or ibex, which is the most common animal in rock drawings in the area) on a rectangular platform.

The mountain glen sets the tone after leaving Chilas for going to Naran via Babusar. We were on a four wheel driven jeep. In the beginning, the surrounding of Chilas are dry and the mountains rocky. Greenery is limited. As one moves farther from Chilas while zigzagging on hilly road, the greenery increases. Small villages show their distinct beauty. High mountains and clear and cool water torrents flow alongside the track. There are fruit trees (grape, apple, walnut and pear) in the way and some trees are so spread out that their branches touch the ground and touched the jeep as we passed by. Natural landscapes fascinate the hearts. At places jeep passes through water that flows on the road. Water is sweet and too cold to keep hands in it for a long time. The surroundings of the passageway are populated and people are seen busy in their work: agriculture. The innocent faces of kids and their activities reflect the district personality. The verdant mountains are on both sides of the track. The Rocky Mountains are hidden here and there among the lush green patches. The natural beauty of this territory compels the viewers to praise the Great Creator. This is the route up to the Babusar village -- the last habitat (with tea shops and small eating joints for occasional travellers mostly) before the Babusar top.

Leaving behind the village for Babusar top, the track continuously ascends and the jeep moves even slowly on the track. The cool air is penetrating and adds up to the beauty. The jeeps in the area mostly are without tarpaulin or hard roof. The gorgeous natural view attracts so no one wants to miss these views by sheltering. The clouds moves along and it happens sometime that one find his head in the clouds. The entire belt is shrouded in fortress of clouds and at some places we were unable to see landscapes for quite a distance. One of the magnificent views is of Nanga Parbat -- ninth highest peak of the world at an altitude of 26,656 feet above sea level and the westernmost bastion of the Himalayas. No other mountain within 100 kilometres comes anywhere near its size.

Babusar pass is on of the most beautiful passes in Pakistan. Small colourful flowers bloom here and there. It looks like someone has covered the mountains with green velvet layers and the flowing river increase many fold its splendour and majesty. Every scene is lovely on its own. There is snow on the Babusar top that glitters like pearls among the green mountains. It May, it was cold like a December night in Lahore or Lala Musa. I wished to have a home there, where I could take pleasure from the natural beauty of this area, but the locals live tough life, without simplest of the modern day civic amenities. But some of the more traditional food is still on offer in eating joins in the area: apricot noodles, apricot soup, apricot bread, apricot tea -- the secret of long life in the valley is attributed to apricots. In fact, the diet of people in the area as a whole is famous for its health giving properties. One of the best sites to stay at Babusar top is from where rivers (Kunhar and Chilas) originate.

At places the track down the top is so narrow that the four wheels of jeep could barely fit on it. There are mountains on one side of the track, many hundred feet deep ditches on the other side, and the river flows underneath. A spot in the way, namely, Khari is so dangerous to cross by the jeep that I still remember. It is on this route that the nerves are sharply tested. Gripping the jeep bars with full force, I forgot everything except the name of Allah Almighty. With the help of Allah, we crossed the place safely. Later, the skills of the driver were praised by every one! Due to the dangerous track, most people do not prefer this route and they come from the Naran side and return well before the top and they are deprived of the sights near the Babusar top. That is one thing that makes this jaunt more beautiful and fulfilling.

Next in the way is Lulusar -- a beautiful rectangular lake, about half a mile wide with sheer green mountains rising from the opposite side. The water is clear but dark green with the perfect reflection of the white snow in that depth of green. At various points, not far from the water's edge were icebergs, the tips of the glaciers, which had slid into the lake and not yet melted. Before arriving at village Jhalghat, we saw a beautiful circular hole of green water in the way side track. There are many local legends attached with this hole. Some people think that it is the footprint of a jinni that had been mentioned in the romantic tales of Saif ul Muluk and Princess Badar Jamal; others think that something has fallen from the sky which made this hole. The valley is most beautiful where river and track are almost at the same level. The mountains peaks covered with clouds make the place even more exquisite. We spent the night there.

Fresh, we started for Lalazar next morning. Now the track gets wider as well as is in better condition. The most fascinating thing about Lalazar is its curved path around a mountain towards its top. Lalazar is a beautiful spot covered with pine and spruce, with meadows full of flowers.

After spending few hours, we left for Naran and made it in the evening. Naran is the centre of tourism in the Kaghan valley. I was reminded of a British writer James Hilton who travelled to this remote valley in 1931 and found a place so beautiful, so wild and so remote that he named it Shangri-La, an earthly paradise. So apt! The river takes a leisurely bend forming islands and pools and bubbles over rocks. Taking quick round of the Lake Saif ul Muluk, we started our journey back.

Back in to the real life, we went our separate ways: some back to Shinkiari, some stayed in Abbottabad and some went to other stations, places where one lives the real life. Heavenly! The world is etched in my mind ever since.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:32 AM, , links to this post

Higher education from abroad

Only a couple of decades ago, education abroad was still the preserve of small elite of potential superstars. Not anymore. The number of students going abroad for higher education has increased many folds. Given chance, students these days are found keen to go for the best.

What is driving this solid growth of students going abroad? Three things: Perception of informed parents and students that the quality of education abroad is a lot better and up-to-date than in Pakistan universities and higher educational institutions. Second, the "foreign-qualified" candidates see better response in not only local but global job market as compared to those with similar qualifications from local universities. And effective marketing of education services with the help of facilitations in immigration rules by their governments.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:38 AM, , links to this post

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other

With the recent explosion of increasingly sophisticated cell-phone technology and social networking websites like Twitter and Facebook, a casual observer might understandably conclude that human relationships are blossoming like never before. But according to MIT science professor Turkle, that assumption would be sadly wrong. In the third and final volume of a trilogy dissecting the interface between humans and technology, Turkle suggests that we seem determined to give human qualities to objects and content to treat each other as things. In her university-sponsored studies surveying everything from text-message usage among teens to the use of robotic baby seals in nursing homes for companionship, Turkle paints a sobering and paradoxical portrait of human disconnectedness in the face of expanding virtual connections in cell-phone, intelligent machine, and Internet usage. Despite her reliance on research observations, Turkle emphasizes personal stories from computer gadgetry’s front lines, which keeps her prose engaging and her message to the human species—to restrain ourselves from becoming technology’s willing slaves instead of its guiding masters—loud and clear. --Carl Hays

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 10:28 PM, , links to this post

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 5:00 PM, , links to this post

Hazrat Ali’s Letter on Inclusive Governance

Raza Rumi

... Ali (AS) had written a comprehensive letter – articulating principles of public policy – for the guidance of the newly appointed Governor to Egypt, Maalik al Ashtar. In this fascinating directive, Ali (AS) advises the new governor that his administration will succeed only if he governs with concern for justice, equity, probity and the prosperity of all. There is a timeless applicability of this famous letter. Selected passages from the text are reproduced below:

Religious tolerance: Amongst your subjects there are two kinds of people: those who have the same religion as you [and] are brothers to you, and those who have religions other than yours, [who] are human beings like you. Men of either category suffer from the same weaknesses and disabilities that human beings are inclined to; they commit sins, indulge in vices either intentionally or foolishly and unintentionally without realising the enormity of their deeds. Let your mercy and compassion come to their rescue and help in the same way and to the same extent that you expect Allah to show mercy and forgiveness to you .

Equity is best: A policy which is based on equity will be largely appreciated. Remember that the displeasure of common men, the have-nots and the depressed persons, over-balances the approval of important persons, while the displeasure of a few big people will be excused… if the general public and the masses of your subjects are happy with you .

The rich:…are the people who will be the worst drag upon you during your moments of peace and happiness, and the least useful to you during your hours of need and adversity. They hate justice the most. They will keep demanding more and more out of State resources and will seldom be satisfied with what they receive and will never be obliged for the favour shown to them if their demands are justifiably refused.

On judiciary: You must select people of excellent character and high calibre with meritorious records . . . When they realise that they have committed a mistake in judgment, they should not insist on it by trying to justify it . . . They should not be corrupt, covetous or greedy . . . . These appointments must be made . . . without any kind of favouritism being shown or influence being accepted; otherwise tyranny, corruption and misrule will reign . . . Let the judiciary be above every kind of executive pressure or influence, above fear or favour, intrigue or corruption.

Poverty: If a country is prosperous and if its people are well-to-do, then it will happily and willingly bear any burden. The poverty of the people is the actual cause of the devastation and ruination of a country, and the main cause of the poverty of the people is the desire of its ruler and officers to amass wealth and possessions, whether by fair or foul means.

Corruption undermines national well-being: I want to advise you about your businessmen and industrialists. Treat them well . . . They are the sources of wealth to the country . . . One more thing . . . you must keep an eye over their activities as well. You know that they are usually stingy misers, intensely self-centered and selfish, suffering from the obsession of grasping and accumulating wealth. They often hoard their goods to get more profit out of them by creating scarcity and by indulging in black-marketing.

On communicating with people: You must take care not to cut yourself off from the public. Do not place a curtain of false prestige between you and those over whom you rule. Such pretension and shows of pomp and pride are in reality manifestations of an inferiority complex and of vanity. The result of such an attitude is that you remain ignorant of the conditions of your subjects and of the actual cases of the events occurring in the State.

Peace leads to prosperity: If your enemy invites you to a peace treaty . . . never refuse to accept such an offer, because peace will bring rest and comfort to your armies, will relieve you of anxieties and worries, and will bring prosperity and affluence to your people . . . Be very careful never to break your promise with your enemy; never forsake the protection or support that you have offered to him; never go back upon your word, and never violate the terms of the treaty.

This document, written centuries ago, reflects an astute understanding of the class structure of society – ages before class as a political construct was defined, analysed and elaborated upon. The underlying ethos of a welfare state is captured here: protecting the poor and the disadvantaged...


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 10:21 AM, , links to this post

Explore Pakistan

Travel writing is a fine art; accepted literary genre that is read. Writers who are gifted with an ability to understand what they see can breathe life into a place when they narrate their travel experiences. The Internet that is wrongly considered a pedestal for instantaneous scribbles mixed with emoticons and indecipherable abbreviations has already become a place to find some good travel literature, travelogues and travel stories in addition to online trading of travel services. It can be one of the best display places for local writers to showcase what Pakistan has to offer; the local context.Travel is prosperity and leisure pursuit, which is a result of many things: history, heritage, culture, natural beauty and a quest to know what is unknown and meet wonderful people.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:34 AM, , links to this post

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