The Stoning of Soraya M – A true Story
May 24, 2011, 10:16 am
Filed under: The Known world

Photo by MPower Pictures/Roadside Attraction

This is one of those films where the message matters more than the acting, the cinematography, or even the script. However I have to say Joel Ransom’s cinematography is ruggedly beautiful rather than just rugged & John Debney’s musical score arrives just in time to hammer home the content. This film is about woman’s rights, cruel and unusual punishment, and religion.

I watched this film and was very moved by the plight of Soraya Manutchehri, especially with the flimsy way the so called evidence was presented against her. I am a Muslim, and I know what Shariah law is and its implementation; I’ll give some feedback on the actual film before I go into that.

The film was very well made, very strong and gritty characters, although it was a little two dimensional in its character development. The men in the village were all portrayed as cowards or just plain ignorant, except Ali, who was just a tyrant. the women too, other than Soraya and her aunt, were typecast gossips or wailing old women. However I haven’t read the book, so maybe thats the effect the author was going for.

The stoning was particularly disturbing, I watched it a few times by forwarding through it before I built up the nerve to actually watch it right through. Zahra’s final appeal for her niece Soraya was very heart-wrenching. This is something I would never stand by and watch, let alone comply with.

Now to move further afield, most of the comments I tend to read about this movie instantly seem to accuse Islam and Sharia of being the culprits in this woman’s death. In reality, Islam killed Soraya no more than Atheism killed the victims of Soviet Russia.

For a woman to be accused, and convicted in a Sharia court, requires 4 witnesses, which clearly wasn’t the case here. In addition, the man would also be convicted of extra marital sex, and stoned too. If this had happened, obviously there would have been no case here because Ali’s cousin; Hasheem would have backed out completely. And of course, the Mullah who was convicted of child molestation would have been executed long before he rose to the pulpit.

Violence against women is not an Islamic or an Arab phenomenon. It happens everywhere, from Kathmandu to New York, from Paris to Seoul. It happens because of ignorant people, men and women (there are many instances of wife beating by mother in laws and others). In this case, Soraya was killed because Ali didn’t want to return her Dowry, which he would have to, should he marry again.

The only defense against corruption of law is the integrity and honesty of the people appointed to uphold it. If they are corrupted, there is no defense other than the voice of the people.

This film shows how religious hypocrites sometimes use religion against humanity for their own evil purposes. It also portrays the evil of gossip, of greed, of lust, & of not standing up for what is right. The thing I loved most about the film is the subtle ways in which it tried to portray Islam in its beauty and MAN in his weakness and fears. I agree the movie is really wonderful and it begs to give life to the women oppressed around the world.

I do hope in the near future that problems with woman’s rights, cruel and unusual punishments & religion will be alleviated.

The Stoning of Soraya M; a gut wrenching film, but highly recommended.

Immortal Beloved
June 9, 2010, 12:08 pm
Filed under: The Known world | Tags: , , , , ,
By Ludwig van Beethoven in a letter to Antonie Brentano.

The First Letter
July 6, in the morning

My angel, my all, my very self – Only a few words today and at that with pencil (with yours) – Not till tomorrow will my lodgings be definitely determined upon – what a useless waste of time – Why this deep sorrow when necessity speaks – can our love endure except through sacrifices, through not demanding everything from one another; can you change the fact that you are not wholly mine, I not wholly thine – Oh God, look out into the beauties of nature and comfort your heart with that which must be – Love demands everything and that very justly – thus it is to me with you, and to your with me. But you forget so easily that I must live for me and for you; if we were wholly united you would feel the pain of it as little as I – My journey was a fearful one; I did not reach here until 4 o’clock yesterday morning. Lacking horses the post-coach chose another route, but what an awful one; at the stage before the last I was warned not to travel at night; I was made fearful of a forest, but that only made me the more eager – and I was wrong. The coach must needs break down on the wretched road, a bottomless mud road. Without such postilions as I had with me I should have remained stuck in the road. Esterhazy, traveling the usual road here, had the same fate with eight horses that I had with four – Yet I got some pleasure out of it, as I always do when I successfully overcome difficulties – Now a quick change to things internal from things external. We shall surely see each other soon; moreover, today I cannot share with you the thoughts I have had during these last few days touching my own life – If our hearts were always close together, I would have none of these. My heart is full of so many things to say to you – ah – there are moments when I feel that speech amounts to nothing at all – Cheer up – remain my true, my only treasure, my all as I am yours. The gods must send us the rest, what for us must and shall be –
Your faithful LUDWIG.

The Second Letter
Evening, Monday, July 6

You are suffering, my dearest creature – only now have I learned that letters must be posted very early in the morning on Mondays to Thursdays – the only days on which the mail-coach goes from here to K. – You are suffering – Ah, wherever I am, there you are also – I will arrange it with you and me that I can live with you. What a life!!! thus!!! without you – pursued by the goodness of mankind hither and thither – which I as little want to deserve as I deserve it – Humility of man towards man – it pains me – and when I consider myself in relation to the universe, what am I and what is He – whom we call the greatest – and yet – herein lies the divine in man – I weep when I reflect that you will probably not receive the first report from me until Saturday – Much as you love me – I love you more – But do not ever conceal yourself from me – good night – As I am taking the baths I must go to bed – Oh God – so near! so far! Is not our love truly a heavenly structure, and also as firm as the vault of heaven?

The Third Letter
Good morning, on July 7

Though still in bed, my thoughts go out to you, my Immortal Beloved, now and then joyfully, then sadly, waiting to learn whether or not fate will hear us – I can live only wholly with you or not at all – Yes, I am resolved to wander so long away from you until I can fly to your arms and say that I am really at home with you, and can send my soul enwrapped in you into the land of spirits – Yes, unhappily it must be so – You will be the more contained since you know my fidelity to you. No one else can ever possess my heart – never – never – Oh God, why must one be parted from one whom one so loves. And yet my life in V is now a wretched life – Your love makes me at once the happiest and the unhappiest of men – At my age I need a steady, quiet life – can that be so in our connection? My angel, I have just been told that the mailcoach goes every day – therefore I must close at once so that you may receive the letter at once – Be calm, only by a calm consideration of our existence can we achieve our purpose to live together – Be calm – love me – today – yesterday – what tearful longings for you – you – you – my life – my all – farewell. Oh continue to love me – never misjudge the most faithful heart of your beloved.
ever thine
ever mine
ever ours

Antonie von Birkenstock

Antonie von Birkenstock

Ultimate Brownie
May 24, 2010, 12:52 pm
Filed under: Nasreen In the Kitchen | Tags: ,

I had a craving for brownies and selected this recipe online to try out of dozens I reviewed. I was not let down. This is the best brownie I’ve ever had. My family and I warmed them up a little bit, added some vanilla ice cream and just ‘ummmm’ed’. The only change I made to the recipe was to use Van Houten’s Semi Sweet chocolates and 2.25 cups of sugar instead of 3 cups as the chocolate bar was already sweetened. I also did not use any nuts, but folded in a handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips. My little sisters don’t like nuts in their cakes.

I think this is the best brownie ever made at home. It’s crunchy on the outside and fudgy within. When I stuck a toothpick in it to try if it was well-cooked and it came out all moist I was disappointed, if I would leave it in any longer the brownie would burn, so I accepted my defeat and figured I had done something wrong. After I let it cool down for a while I decided to try anyway and the inside was no longer moist but nice and fudgy! Perfect with a scoop of ice cream.🙂

I snapped each steps for my personal archival and found my blog to be the best place to archive it. And so, here’s my take on the Ultimate Brownie step-by-step.🙂

Step 1: Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 pan with butter.

Step 2: Melt 1 bar Van Houten Semi-Sweet Plain Chocolate (200g) and 1 cup unsalted butter in a saucepan over low heat.

Step 4: In a mixer bowl, add 5 medium sized eggs,  2.25 cups of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla essence.

Step 5: Beat the ingredients at high speed for 10 minutes. When I say beat for 10 minutes – do this! This step gives the brownie the shiny & crispy top layer.

Step 6: Sift 1.5 cups of flour & 2 pinches of salt.

Step 7: Blend in chocolate mixture a little at a time.

Step 8: Blend in sifted flour & salt a little at a time also.

Step 9: Taste a spoonful of the deliciousness. :p

Step 10: Hershey’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips for the extra chocolaty flavour.

Step 11: Fold in about a handful of chocolate chips.

Step 12: Pour the mixture into the greased pan & bake for about 30-40 minutes at 180 degrees.

Step 13: Enjoy licking the bowl till the brownie gets baked.

Step 14: Cool the brownie before cutting and serve warm with a scoop of  vanilla ice-cream if you like your brownie with ice creams.🙂

Happy baking.😀

See No Evil
April 12, 2010, 12:00 pm
Filed under: The Known world

Ghost Whisperer

I’m the one who rarely sits in front of a TV. There are yet a few programs I follow up with when I am free. Ghost Whisperer is one of them. After watching the previous episode (See No Evil – Season 5, Episode 2), I told myself, “I have to blog about this”. For an obvious reason that it was creepy & outdated.

There were some great things about this episode, and there were some not-so-great things too. I’m going to start with the good.

Creepy! The idea of stitching your eyes and mouth shut–let alone having aged Puritans do it with no anesthesia–is just creepy. The idea that we were seeing through Melinda’s (Jennifer Love Hewitt) eyes that were sewn shut, just gives me the heebie jeebies.

And it’s not over. While the introduction of a third party who started a chain letter was a little bit of a cheap trick at first, we’ve discovered that there really is a Sally Stitch, and she’s haunting a poor girl with cancer. Well, a poor girl who has one creepy doll and one sinister look, she’s not one I would want to interrogate about ghosts.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to seeing this develop in the next week or so. The episodes of Ghost Whisperer where creepiness is the strength, tend to be my favorite. Plus, I wonder if we’ll get to see the young Aiden (Melinda’s son) interact with Julia. We didn’t really get to see him do much in this episode; instead, we got idle chatter about whether Aiden’s dreams are the ones that Melinda’s been seeing.

My only complaint about the episode, though, was that it seemed outdated. I mean, email chain letters? That’s so 1990s. I feel like the time to feel threatened by an email chain letter came and went ten years ago. Now we’re so immune to seeing them that, the delete or spam button is second nature.

For this generation, we would see ourselves discussing about mystery podcasts or viral videos. That’s what people of this era would really take note of.

So it pretty much bugged me that this was the main focal point of the episode. I could see it belonging to the first season, but now? Especially when this was five years later from the season finale? If anything, the five-year gap allows for the little bit of technological inconsistencies, like the fact that the email chain letter can update the list of terrible events while sitting in your inbox. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this yet, but emails don’t tend to refresh information. Websites yes, emails no.

I don’t know, but it just seemed like a rookie episode. I just couldn’t get past the email chain letter all episode. This explains my reason to blog regarding the episode.

Anyway, good setup for next week. And I’m looking forward to discovering the mystery of Sally Stitch. Why is she stitched up? Has she done something wrong? Who is her target? Who does she want to hurt? And who hurt her?

What do you think?

Photo Courtesy of TV Fanatic

Wallet friendly ways to print documents
April 8, 2010, 4:33 pm
Filed under: The Known world, The Unknown world

I believe my recent research study at work on how to save printer ink will be informative for all who love to print documents.

Though we are headed towards an era of paperless offices and colleges where all the information would be in strict digital format, the pace is quite slow. That ink-sucking printer is still an indispensable part of our home and office because we are frequently required to print documents on paper.

Since ink is still the most expensive component in the print workflow, we can reduce printing costs of documents if we can figure out ways that will decrease the consumption of ink while printing. And I found some great ways. For instance, when printing a document in Microsoft Word, we can switch to “Draft output” and the toner will last much longer.🙂

Use a Font with Holes

An interesting option to help us save ink is Ecofont. Ecofont is like the popular Arial font but it has these little holes punched in the letters. These holes aren’t really visible in the printed document (that uses standard font sizes like 11px) but will save money as no ink is required when printing these dots.

Ecofont is available for download on both Windows and Mac platforms. It may not be a good idea to use Ecofont in client communication or formal reports for school but we can definitely consider using this font for personal or internal use.

Font with Holes

Printing Web Pages with Custom Fonts

If we are printing web pages, I highly recommend Readability – this is a bookmarklet that will not only remove images, ads and other clutter from web pages but will also replace the font that was originally used in the formatting of that page.

Readability can sometimes remove sections from web pages that we would like to see in the print version. If that’s also a problem for you, check out PrintWhatYouLike.com – this is also a printing bookmarklet but it gives you complete control over the page layout including the font family that is used for rendering that page. Since they are bookmarklets and not an add-on, they should work in all browsers including the latest Google Chrome and Safari. It works like magic in my Firefox. Do visit the bookmarklets’ websites to know more.




The article above was formatted using Readability. Both the above bookmarklets require a live internet connection to work. If you are looking for an alternative that will work offline, check out Green Print – they have a free version for Windows though the Mac edition costs a few bucks.

Which is the Best Font for Printing Documents?

Now consider the third scenario. Lets have a document – say some presentation handouts – that we want to print without sacrificing readability.

Fonts like Arial, Times News Roman, Courier, Helvetica, etc. are generally available on every machine but which one among them is the most economic typeface when it comes to printing?

Which font is suitable?

Matt Robinson recently conducted a fairly unique study to determine the ink usage of these different typefaces. They used ballpoint pens to hand draw the same text at the same size but using different fonts and here’s the result.

Garamond followed by Courier turned out to be the most economic fonts of them all while Impact and Comic Sans consumed the maximum ink. My favourite Calibri font should be similar to Helvetica. This is definitely not a “scientific study” but I hope you still get the idea.🙂

P.S: Most Harry Potter books are set in 12pt Adobe Garamond.

Ben & Jerry Free Cone Day is tomorrow!!!
March 22, 2010, 12:49 pm
Filed under: The Known world

It’s the time of the year when everyone gets free Ben & Jerry!!! Interestingly, this year’s Free Cone Day is on tomorrow (23 March 2010). I thought it was usually somewhere in mid or late April? Oh well, who cares? So long as there is free Ben & Jerry!!! Woohoo!

Ben & Jerry Free Cone Day

Actually, I don’t know why I’m so excited about the Free Cone Day. Perhaps a typical SINGAPOREAN’s reaction for freebies. I never queue up for Free Ben & Jerry. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan quality ice creams. It’s just that I’m lazy to queue up *hate queues*. I usually pay for my own Ice Cream and enjoy it without long queues.

Since now that I just work next door to The Cathy, there’s no way, I can miss to grab a cone *temptations*, but if the queue is long, I’d rather give myself a good lunch tomorrow.😀

Participating outlets:

  • VivoCity
  • The Cathay
  • Orchard Central
  • United Square
  • Great World City
  • Jurong Bird Park
  • Zoo

The answer is simple
March 16, 2010, 3:28 pm
Filed under: The known life, The Known world

I was Google-ing to know whether Friendster was still surviving in the social networking market and bumped into the following yahoo answer. I had a good laugh when I read the best answer. Well, that was a very obvious answer. If I had an opportunity to answer the disappointed Friendster, I would have just wrote the same as the answer voted to be the best. Hahaaaa. To add on to the laughter, there is even a Friendster fan page in Facebook. Hahaaaaa.

Facebook makes our online stay worthwhile. I definitely made a smart choice by dumping my Friendster into the trash bin 4 years ago. Since than, I’ve been a loyal “Facebook-er” (for a billion reasons).🙂

Poor Friendster

Click here to enlarge image in a new window.