Image Search

We are finding out the hard way about the power of the web. As site/blog/twit owners we need learn and relearn the ethics of posting media that does not belong to us. It’s all too easy to google an image and treat the search results as a clip art gallery. Of course Google simply trawls all content for relevant media; it does not distinguish Copyright material from CreativeCommons.

But as individuals we also need to seriously consider the wisdom of posting media which *does* belong to us.

Some friends constantly post images of themselves and their children on Facebook, believing them safe from the Google robots. Well they might be, but they haven’t fixed their privacy settings to prevent a distant acquaintance like me from witnessing every visit to grandparents, every bout of sickness, each momentous first step.

It only takes one person to borrow your Selfie to illustrate an article on the web for the process of Google dissemination to begin. Combined with popular keywords – african american, hijab, Muslim, niqab – it will soon appear on multiple sites, reused and reused, and out of control.

We have learned the hard way about the dangers of publishing to public media sites like Flickr. Realising our errors, as we notice others cataloguing, favouriting, reusing our images, we attempt to back track, only to discover that it is too late. We no longer seem to own our images – or our text, artwork, videos – they have taken on a life of their own, sometimes landing in the hands of the most despicable.

Here again ample illustration that we need a legal and ethical guide to navigating the great world wide web. May we all take heed.

Forrest Gump meets the Internet

Have you heard it too: that enchanting, haunting hymn of crickets singing in the garden, slowed down to an unspecified speed, that has gone viral on the internet? It is beautiful, spellbinding. But alas, the first thing this soul asked himself on encountering it is what happens if you speed this track up again?

A little probing around carried me to an audio track entitled “Twisted Hair” by Robbie Robertson, which features the raw cricket choir for a while, uninterrupted by that recognisable insect chirping. If you were to take that raw sample and speed it up again, would you end up with the natural sound of crickets? Someone must be able to do that, and I’d really like to know the result.

Och, perhaps this Muslim has absorbed the science of Isnad too much into his life. Every time I come across these viral tales I end up asking too many questions. Is it real, who created it, when did they create it… on and on…

My area is in graphics, so adventures in Photoshop are easily analysed, be it a miracle in the clouds or a mysterious creature in a cave. But enter the world of audio or even video manipulation and I’m at a loss. If Forest Gump met Osama bin Laden today we would most certainly believe it. In an age of technological deception it is easy to be deceived.

Favour Culture

Dominic Grieve QC, the Attorney General, says ministers should “wake up” to the threat of corruption in public life, which he attributes to “minority communities” that operate a “favour culture”.

I agree. The Houses of Parliament are overwhelmed with minority communities operating a culture of favour: the Tories and Labour alike have been at it for years. Jeremy Hunt, Liam Fox, David Laws, John Butterfill, Derek Conway, Geoff Hoon, Stephen Byers, Richard Caborn…

No, alas, irony is lost on the Political Class.

To be shy and retiring

I wish I had the confidence to contribute something to the world. Whenever I share a thought, I take it back within minutes. Whenever I write anything, I soon turn my back on it and abandon it, dreading to reencounter it once more. I wish I knew if there is a place for me at the table, whether there is any place for what I have to say. Instead I turn away, shy and retiring.

Even after

To remain steadfast after repentance is never easy. That moment of sincerity whilst falling down on your face in regret, resolving never to repeat those mistakes or return to them, is severely tested over the days that follow. It is too easy to become heedless of realities, returning to the norms that surround us. Video, photography, opinion pieces, radio, music — our senses are perpetually bombarded from every direction. The gentle teachings of our deen are easily ignored: listen not to vain talk, speak good or remain silent, lower your gazes, remember your Lord often. It is all too easy to return to wickedness even after that sincere resolve to reform. The battle with the nafs is perhaps the fiercest conflict of all.

Dear English & Proud

Look, you’ve go a mascot that’s a Teddy Bear dressed like Richard the Lionheart, a man who couldn’t speak English, mostly lived in France and only really used England as a source of revenue to support his war efforts.

Paddington Bear would be a more English mascot, but I appreciate we can’t have an Asylum Seeker from Darkest Peru representing us. There is Pooh, of course, but I think he sold his soul to Disney, and oh how we hate sell outs.

What we really need is a Red Squirrel, that very bastion of Englishness, bravely facing off those nasty foreign Greys. Yes, a Red Squirrel, but not one dressed like a Crusader. I think the Crusader imagery isn’t very helpful, since it is too reminiscent of EU Cooperation. Let’s have a Red Squirrel nibbling Cucumber Sandwiches and sipping English Breakfast Tea while complaining about the weather.

English and Proud. Personally I have never found pride to be a very nice characteristic, let alone a very English one. We’re more a kind of humble people who like to do ourselves down. Nothing wrong with that. Puffed up nationalism is so tiring. But English reserve, low expectations, benevolence and graciousness: ah, the very taste of Olde Englande! It brings tears to your eyes. English and just a little Humble. Ah, that’s better.

Any how, I digress. The first task of the English Democrats will be to promote the proper use of English by the English. So can all of you Patriotic folk refrain from penning your epistles until you have learnt to spell and use commas properly? Thereafter I propose we compile a list of all that’s good about England and the English as a starting point, rather than all that’s bad. I shall start.

1) We love to queue in an orderly fashion even when nobody asked us to.

2) We always pull to the side of the road when an emergency vehicle needs to get through.

3) It rains a lot, but we never complain; instead we shrug our shoulders and say, “So it’s raining again then.”

4) We’re generally very charitable.

5) We believe in the rule of law.

6) Curry.

7) We used to make the best sports cars.

8) The National Health Service, of course!

9) We invented all the best inventions and then gave them away for others to make even better – jet engines, radar, jet liners, sports cars, liquid crystal displays, bagless vacuum cleaners…

10) Silent Ks.

Please carry on chaps. Make your nation proud.

Time to change

I was inspired while in Turkey this summer to start doing regular exercise. Perhaps inspiration is the wrong word; perhaps I mean shamed, when my companions mocked my skinny frame repeatedly. On my return a month ago, I sent a message to a friend to ask if he might train me. He agreed, but I am yet to start; my fault, not his. This year must mark 20 years since I last did any serious exercise. No, I had a brief spell at university when a friend set out to increase me in strength and stamina. But since then: the only time I run these days is when I’m late for Jummah prayer.

Our experiences in our youth do tend to have long-lasting effects. The perpetual humiliation of every games lesson at school did much to dissuade me from pursuing sport thereafter. My friends are well aware of the allergic reaction I have whenever any of them mentions playing rugby or cricket; it is a true phobia in every sense. But something has to change. I have warned my friend that I will starting from zero — and I mean it — but the task ahead is necessary, if I ever find the motivation to take the first step. Change is always difficult.

I have been reading this wonderful blog on and off for a while now: muslimrunner.wordpress.com. It is very inspiring. I used to quite like running, although I was never very good at it. I might have pursued it had I not had teachers who delighted in putting their less talented students down and eradicating their self-esteem. Blimey: that was over twenty years ago and yet still I bang on about it. It’s time to get out of the rut, I guess. Time to make a change.