Archive for the ‘Totally Random’ Category

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I Miss My PC

September 29, 2012
Oh How I've Missed you PC

Zainab actually misses her PC, who would have figured…

Didn’t think I’d say it, but I miss my PC. I officially made the switch to Macbook after my Sony Vaio crashed in the summer of 2009 and I couldn’t bear any more accusations of “committing an illegal operation”  each time I innocently started up my machine. I watched enviously as my brothers looked on disdainful, but sympathetic then went right back to creating hipster music on their macbooks. Within a week I had a shiny, solid new, 13″ Macbook pro that would take me through two years of Graduate school, a vacation to Spain, Hawaii, Pakistan and conferences across the country and never, ever did it crash. But, now that I have graduated and work means I’m on a computer at an actual desk on not my bed, I realize there are things I miss about Windows. Serious things:

  • Biggest reason: software – plain and simple. I have MS Office on my MAC because Microsoft just makes more powerful software than Apple. Here’s why: 
    • Word, Powerpoint, and Outlook are far more friendly and full of more useful tools than their versions for Mac, or their counterparts for that matter
    • Itunes is lame. And yes, I miss Windows Media Player. A one stop device that played ALL my movies, stored ALL my music, connected to ALL my music players and never once pressured me into buying anything
  • Second reason is files are just not as easy to access and organize
    • I know people are going to slay me for this one, but Windows makes systematic file organization much easier. I can search for my most recent places at any given time on any given software. I am ALWAYS given the option to create subfolders to my hearts content  and when something is downloaded rather than just forcing it into a download folder I have the option to “save” it “as” anything and anywhere I want.
    • Icon and icon + text views of files are not so helpful. I much rather would revert to Windows large, extra large, medium and small icon thumbnail views which I find more useful; not prettier, but more useful for sure.
    • When attaching files to email, content is often difficult to access, like pictures. The right hand side access pane for attaching files has a folder for IPhotos but none for saved pictures. Rather, it wastes space for less accessed shortcuts for things like IDrive. Also
  • Finally, I’m actually tired of of the application bar at the bottom that NEVER hides

Which makes me realize, thebest  way to deal with PC; the crashing and all is to love it, albeit firmly and right off the bat. Stop thinking of the sexier Mac and just uninstall any programs that came pre-installed that you do not need upon purchase. Keep the desktop clean, anti-virus software updated and stay away from SPAM and other dodgy websites and software. It’s really not asking much. But I suppose this is just me missing, and loving being back on a PC. Sure it could just be that I’m on dual flat screen, hyper RAM driven, new desktop computer  which is so much different than being on a laptop. But still, having admitted to missing my PC, there are things from the Mac that have really spoiled me and where PC just can’t compete:

  • Single touch, uber sensitive trackpad
  • Pinch & Zoom. Nuff said.
  • Super fabulous HD screen

So perhaps I’ve stumbled into my tech sweet spot: desktop PC at work, Macbook Pro or Macbook Air at home. See, because the more Apple gains market share in the mobile, tablet and cell phone space, I realize this sentiment to be true; Apple is an entertainment company. Their products are fun, pretty and ever amusing. Microsoft may not come with the prettiest computers, but their company does make me more productive. And as you grow up you realize, it takes more than just entertainment and a pretty exterior captivate you forever. But then again, that could just be me – I always was a sucker for nerds.

First World Problems - Deciding Between PC & Mac

Tough Decision: Zainab says keep the Nerd at work and pretty boy at home

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How Old Was Cinderella & Prince Charming?

May 3, 2011

In kindergarten the last thing we did before going home was have story time. And I best recall Cinderella in particular because I interrupted Mrs. Woods twice during her reading: first because I didn’t understand why the glass slipper didn’t change back to Cinderella’s original shoe when everything else did at midnight, and then I wondered why out of all the girls in the land, how could that slipper just not fit anyone else?

Suffice to say, Cinderella didn’t add up when I was 5 (for some odd reason, Alice in Wonderland did, but that’s another matter altogether). Then in high school and undergraduate Women’s Studies and Sociology classes we deconstructed seemingly endless dangers of these fairy tales with their adverse impact on female agency (or rather, a complete omission of it), which certainly didn’t help the skepticism I already had for this princess. But Maureen Dowd asks us to revisit her in an article on Sunday. Yes, I will grant that the whole damsel in distress cliché in fairy tales (and to a large extent in Hollywood to this day) did little to empower women, but in light of this weeks Royal wedding, Dowd describes a redefinition of Cinderella:

“Teaming with the spirit of her dead mother, Cinderella cleverly rescues herself from servitude, conjures up her own glittery makeover and then saves the prince from the same torment she endured living with her hideous stepsisters”

Was Cinderella more clever than my volumes of feminist theory posited? And in that light, can we credit the new Duchess, Kate Middleton as being an empowered woman with agency who married a Prince but is actually the leading heroic figure in their tale? Dowd likens her to Cinderella given their so called, “commoner” background and the solemn image of a deceased mother figure (Princess Diana) that looms large in their pasts:

“You could sense a collective prayer among the spectators that Kate, with her Cinderella coach, Cartier tiara and satin slippers, was not a lamb being led to slaughter. Many assured the invading celebrity journalists that Kate was older and more grounded than the virginal and high-strung 20-year-old who married an older man who loved another woman”

And therein we find agency, in a place no one ever encourages you to look: in a females age. The fact that Kate is nearly 10 years older than Diana at the time of her marriage changes the story completely. Testimony to this are a string of articles in the past couple years describing an increasingly buffoon like modern day male, painfully complacent in his inability to think or act for himself, versus an increasingly assertive, confident and successful modern female. The result is that both sexes converge in delaying marriage and other markers of adulthood more than ever before. Not that the Prince is any way buffoon like, or Kate a high strung, domineering partner, but they are entering into a relationship that seems much more complementary than what William’s mother entered into. And that might have much to do with age and this delayed experience of adulthood that has ironically given girls a chance to be girls longer, but simultaneously offers greater opportunity to discover, and attain our interests. Couple this girl with a guy who evades the buffoon like existence and you’ve probably got a happy ending.

So, we go back to Dowd’s question: did Cinderella and Kate “marry up” or was it the other way around? Well, I suppose it’s both. Because whether it’s the new Duchess and Duke of Cambridge or Cinderella and her handsome prince, there’s a very interesting balance that each person found by acting with keen self-awareness, and taking time to thoughtfully determine a plan independent of external pressure which they then executed with utmost confidence and presentation. Go figure: fairy tales wound up being more pragmatic in adulthood than in kindergarten 🙂

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In Defense of Sarah Palin’s Sex Appeal

October 22, 2010
Sarah Palin - Making Politics Chic

Sarah Palin - Certainly Making Politics Chic

Making Ignorance Chic” is among the most emailed articles this week at the New York Times in which Maureen Dowd addresses an everlasting female dilemma: choosing between “intellectualism and sexuality”. She describes the “false” dichotomy in which women are rarely appreciated for both simultaneously. And by describing this phenomenon as “persistent”, I interpret it’s become progressively easier to pursue heightened sexuality than intellectualism. Dowd takes us back to 1950’s America reminiscing that “dumb blonde’s” like Marilyn Monroe made it seem fashionable to at the least, attempt to appear intellectual, while today’s personalities like Sarah Palin are “making ignorance chic”.

And it sounds convincing to cite a time when beauty icons like Marilyn were asked to pose with token history books and married intellectuals versus Sarah Palin who prides herself on being anti intellectual, or who Dowd is actually describing is of “average” intellect.

But does this make Marilyn any more intellectual in and of itself? Did Marilyn give females more reason to aspire to be intellectual while Palin makes ignorance chic? I don’t think so. If anything, it’s the other way around. If both cases reflect a societal and ultimately self-imposed choice for beauty over brains, Palin should be perceived as more empowering between the two.

Did Marilyn Monroe Make Reading Chic?

Did Marilyn Monroe Make Reading Chic?

Because while both represent sex before intellect, at least Palin comes complete with autonomy; which is a function of time and space.

Dowd describes Marilyn marrying intellectuals, or posing in “tight shorts” with books on Goya as evidence that it was somehow more chic to be intellectual then, albeit in an apologetic tone. But despite Palins sometimes absurd thoughts, she is not prided by advocates for being absurd or sexy; she’s lauded for what she has accomplished.

Unlike Monroe, Palin has very tangible intellectual achievements to show for as governor of Alaska, per opportunities afforded to her as we’ve progressed as a society in trying to level the playing field for women since Marilyn’s time.

So there are system level differences making it misleading to compare to what degree their individual impact was on perpetuating ignorance as chic. But if anything, Marilyn, and I’d say females in that time had less opportunity and incentive to pursue intellectual routes than we do in Palin’s America.

Simply put: Palin was governor / Marilyn merely married the author of Death of a Salesman.For what it’s worth, looking then just to sexuality: it’s further telling that Marilyn had to show far more skin than Palin in setting any standards for chic. Point being, it’s not significantly less sexy to be intellectual now than it was in the 50’s.

So Dowd’s piece is slightly off target. It’s partial to Marilyn (heck, deep down I am too) and that era. The article would be correct in a more general sense: it’s remained diametrically chic to be sexy rather than intellectual. And that route is often more immediately convenient too (females are aware of this every waking second, and very early on).

The catch is, pursuing sexuality at the expense of intellectualism is disastrous long term strategy (girls are rarely fully aware of this), and that’s the real lesson both Marilyn Monroe and Sarah Palin demonstrate.

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Televised Injustice – A Muted Media on Mehserle’s Killing of Oscar Grant

July 9, 2010

There are people all over television news tonight crying, with actual tears; grown men characterized by grotesque beer bellies hanging out of disheveled t-shirts, faces contorted, whining like hapless children, yelling into cameras wildly flailing their arms in thunderous accusations that Mr. LeBron James committed some sort of injustice in announcing his choice to join a new N.B.A. team.

It’s nauseating.

Such disproportionate coverage of protests trivialize the name of justice on a day like today, when a real injustice has occurred. I don’t blame the icky, irritated men here, but am shocked at an absurdly mute televised media this evening. There’s an excruciatingly distasteful sensation of irritation and astonishment that many experienced after hearing the “Involuntary Manslaughter” verdict in the killing of Oscar Grant, a young , unarmed African American shot in the back by a BART officer. Yet no mainstream t.v. pundit, not even the loud, proud, ferocious prosecution hawk Nancy Grace discussed this issue.

And i’ll leave the debate on whether or not the Mehserle trial was fairly carried out, from jury selection to evidence presented and the larger issue of racial bias seeping in our justice system to legal professionals who have issued the following statement:

“The verdict is a painful example of what we already know, the criminal justice system treats white, police officers with deference and poor people of color with hostility,” said Carlos Villarreal, National Lawyers Guild – San Francisco Chapter – Executive Director.  “It is shameful that irrelevant aspects of Grant’s past were put before the jury and troubling that the jury included no African Americans.”

So legal technicalities that could have caused injustice aside, there’s another injustice taking place by way of the media. Nauseating is the fact that I rarely watch television but caught glimpses of T.V. news throughout the day at work, the gym, the mall and when I got home, finally wanted to hear some rational, educated discussion on this case and got nothing from the television.

What did we get? We got simian looking men, hot and bothered about basketball rather than coverage on the loss of life and the grave injustice of a man getting away with what the victims mother cries is “murder”.

And why this is nauseating as opposed to just annoying is because the coverage major T.V. outlets, including local Bay Area channels did offer said absolutely nothing about the fact that an injustice might have taken place. There was zero discussion, let alone debate on the verdict from any news station.

Instead, we were fed repeated talk of riots; most specifically, footage of a Foot Locker being raided by protestors and empty Nike shoe boxes on the Oakland streets hours after the verdict was announced. Again, I’ll not delve into how the images and commentary of the protests could have easily been construed as racist, but will leave that to someone who has studied sociology of media and has weaved this injustice into the larger issue of force in America; Michael Moore.

Yes many say he’s gone too far left after Sicko and I’ll be the first to say Capitalism: a Love Story was off the deep end. However, Moore’s best work to date is Bowling for Columbine. It’s one of the most poignant documentaries of our time, and we as American’s would be wise to revisit that work today.

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Unfair & Unlovely

May 28, 2010

OMG Shahrukh Khan "Fair & Handsome" -  Seriously?

OMG Shahrukh Khan "Fair & Handsome" - Seriously?!

I’ve very intentionally avoided this subject despite its relevancy to South Asia, but it’s close to summertime and now that Shah Rukh Khan is involved it’s borderline political, so it’s within my jurisdiction.

“Fair and Lovely” face cream is so pervasive in “desi” culture that it’s a household name amongst both Resident and non Resident Pakistani’s. International diplomats, the United Nations, countless non profits have all failed to get India and Pakistan to agree on nukes, trade, cricket, religion (the list goes on) but when it comes to the primal issues of attraction, both have consistently been on the same page. Visit the Fair and Lovely website and you’re confronted with images of a woman’s face growing progressively lighter and the slogan: “Gorepan se kahin ziyada SAAF GORAPAN”  Translation: “Even more Whiteness than Whiteness”. I kid you not, that is an accurate translation literally and contextually speaking, and yes despite this, we are still in the 21’st Century.

So this week Shahrukh Khan’s face is seen promoting the creams male counterpart, “Fair and Handsome”. The Telegraph reports “despite doubts of the effectiveness, the sight of Khan’s chiseled features endorsing the cream has angered campaigners, who say it’s “racist” to promote lighter skin as superior”

Shahid Afridi's Pretty Chiseled

Shahid Afridi's Pretty Chiseled

Alright, first off Shah Rukh Khan doesn’t from any angle I can see have “chiseled” features. Shahid Afridi is more chiseled than him. But, that’s besides the point and doesn’t invalidate the fact that billions of men and women around the world idolize Khan and find him very attractive, hence the lakhs of rupees I’m sure he’s receiving for this endorsement. But with such immense fame, comes responsibility and his endorsement of Fair & Handsome cream is justifiably being labeled “racist” by angry campaigners.

I grew up in California where girls lay out in the sunshine all summer to quite frankly, try and get skin like mine. When sunshine isn’t an option, they confine themselves into what are nothing shortof human frying pans, lids closed in tanning beds as they do their best to maintain my shade of golden brown all year long. So it’s no surprise that I love my mocha skin. Always have. I wouldn’t change it for anything. Tan skin is part and parcel of being a Californian. Just listen to Katy Perry or the Beach Boys. In this part of the world, tan has always been undeniably sexy.

Maria & Zainab - Perfect Beach tans ;)

Zainab & Maria - Perfect Beach tans

Which is why the angered campaigners in India are correct in denouncing the Shah Rukh Khan endorsement; it perpetuates an unhealthy, yes racist fascination with fair skin. The reason it’s racist while the the girls in California wallowing in tanning beds isn’t is because “Fair & Lovely” occurs in a post-colonial context. You’d think that as oppressed subjects having suffered and struggled to fight of massive injustices of colonialism until Partition wherein India severed itself into two as a result (the birth of Pakistan) looking like the oppressor would be unpopular. But instead fair skin is the ultimate desire in desi land, and it’s mind boggling because European skin tones are not naturally attainable in South Asia.

Sure evolutionary biology will tell you that humans are innately attracted to beautiful people. According to biologists, we’re attracted to relatively youthful characteristics because they’re indicative of heightened fertility (i.e. lustrous hair, hourglass figures, large eyes and clear skin) but a preference for skin color really is only skin deep. South Asians naturally have darker skin and there’s no reason it should be touted as inferior.

Out of chance I happened to have grown up in a particular part of the West that values darker skin, but had I lived in Pakistan I might not have been so lucky. It’s a sad realization, because skin color is not in our control, which is why it’s problematic when corporations like Fair and Lovely seize control in attempt to create preferences where none should exist. They’re preying on insecurities to peddle their products which is done by all advertisers, but this one goes too far because it’s racist.

Shame on Shah Rukh Khan for endorsing Fair & Handsome cream; it’s not a “fair” or “handsome” move on his part.  It’s Unfair and Ugly.

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What About “Moderation” Nietzsche?

May 13, 2010
Zainab Jeewanjee differs with Friedric Nietzsche when it comes to Religion

Friedric Nietzsche & Zainab Jeewanjee : Can't agree on Religion

There’s an amazing article this week at TruthDig.com by Mr. Chris Hedges entitled “After Religion Fizzles, We’re Stuck with Nietzsche”. Hedges’ gist is that the core teachings of Abrahamic faiths (Islam, Christianity and Judaism) “are now lost in the muck of church dogma, hollow creeds and the banal bureaucracy of institutional religion”

Not a new argument; criticism of organized religion for being dogmatic is as ubiquitous as my generations disdain for Michael Jackson (God Rest his Soul).

And Hedges’ does a fairly sound job of supporting a censure of religious institutions by the notion of their failure to “unequivocally denounce unfettered capitalism, globalization and pre-emptive war” concluding that “empowerment of the individual conscience which was the starting point of great ethical systems of civilization” from Confucius to Kant have been traded for adherence to poorly outlined ideologies touted by dogmatic religious institutions. He prescribes we revert to an introspective, individual questioning of authority to guide our moral sense. And I like it; I want to expand on that notion, especially since Nietzsche, although super duper fascinating always irked me with his too sweeping condemnation of religion.

To pick up where Hedges article leaves off; what does happen when we’re “stuck” with the emptiness of Nietzsche’s notion that there is no morality? Like Hedges Nietzsche criticizes religion as inherently dogmatic, but to a far greater extent. Nietzsche says organized religion is riddled with the voids created by an incorrect contention that fixed perspectives exist. I read his work Beyond Good and Evil last year wherein with Christianity in particular,

Nietzsche finds religion prescribes actions, if not an entire way of life based on faulty contentions; faulty in that they are rooted on a morality that is inherently relative; he might even say contrived.

Specifically contrived is morality rooted in asceticism that accompanies organized religious expectations such as those calling for chastity (think Catholic priests) or abstinence from both food and sexual pleasure in the form of fasting (think the Muslim Holy month of Ramadaan). Such boundaries according to Nietzsche give rise to a society of undiscerning masses who wallow, yet make every effort in their struggle to achieve nothing more than a kind of denial, suffering and ultimately, mediocrity.

On top of that, prescriptions of asceticism being rooted in religious truths assumed to be absolute, constant and certain come into question and eventual conflict in light of more modern rationality which is less rooted in faith and instead in science, as Hedges would agree. Thus atheism becomes more readily accepted as the concept of God in and of itself is less able to be reconciled with advances in science that defy so called truths upon which religious prescriptions for a faithful life are based.

So to accept that time and space are relative, denying that absolute truth can ever be experienced and that religious asceticism in specific is nothing more than a pacifying consolation for an individual, Nietzsche’s philosophy condemns Abrahamic faith for their prescription’s of ultimately, a lifetime of mediocrity.

Thus his subsequent explanation for increasing atheism is understandable, however makes religion out to be a dismal experience in utter ignorance. And the bleak realization of such an argument can immediately prompt a kind of defensiveness wherein such radical challenges are immediately contested.

Although I consider myself moderately religious with a most certain faith in a monotheistic God, without intentionally being defensive in response to Nietzsche’s criticism of religion, I find his assertions contradictory to a notion of faith. Because if his premise is that there are no absolutes, and the problem with religion is that it cannot easily be reconciled with science, which is often considered to be in and of itself a kind of certainty, then it is perhaps difficult to reconcile the very notion that absolute truths do not exist and perspectives are relative to time and space.

By arguing that something mostly accepted as absolute, certain and “true” as science is a reasonable explanation against the spread of theism, Nietzsche himself lends credibility to the notion that certain truths might actually exist.

To clarify: if institutionalized religion is embedded in dogmatism founded on untruths as proved by its inability to reconcile with the realities of science, then would science then not be, in its strong opposition to religion, a body of at least some truths? Especially given that science is today generally regarded as irrefutable given its own roots in empirical procedures and products.

Furthermore, this raises the inevitable question that, in the absence of religion or philosophy then, what is morality, or the “right thing to do”? Nietzsche may argue that there is no certain definition of what is moral since it would be relative to time and space. However, again, accepting that a certain epistemic confinement is a plausible result of the dogmatism of religion, then is faith not then a credible means to achieving morality since it is rooted not in any tangible, scientific or absolute truth?

Faith is then relative as it requires no truth. Given the absence of absolute truths, faith then becomes quite conducive to my understanding of Nietzsche in that it seamlessly accepts the possibility of not knowing for certain.

Of course, this can itself become dogmatic and therefore problematic when individuals reach an extreme wherein reason and scientific and other rationale are abandoned for fanatical faith and harmful ends. But bracketing the extreme and assuming moderation as the norm for most individuals of “faith”, religious spirituality, especially a sincere belief in an intangible God who Nietzsche himself describes as “incapable of making himself clearly understood”, then can be a strong, and perhaps ironically, “spiritual” acceptance in the notion of a relative existence.

***sigh*** So guess I’m gonna have to just beg to differ with the late, great Nietzsche on this one and send my props to Mr. Hedges for a very insightful piece  😉

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I Don’t Miss My PC

March 3, 2010
Zainab Picks The Pretty Boy ;)

Zainab Picks the Pretty Boy 😉

Even though I miss the maximize button and know MS Office is easier to use on a PC, I can’t imagine switching away from Mac. I converted last summer amidst pressure from my brothers, both Mac users who pointed and laughed each time I would start up my Sony VAIO. The laughter would last anywhere from 2, to 4 minutes, chuckling at the slow, tired fan of my laptop, chugging away as if gasping for air to load 50 programs that I never used but came pre-installed anyway. And that was just the startup process.

While blogging, and patiently waiting as my laptop stalled for a good 20 seconds when I opened up MS Word and 3 tabs in an Explorer window one evening, my brother placed his arm on my shoulder and said “Zainab, don’t let your computer control you. Ever since I switched to MAC, I have less stress”. I looked at him. I had a deadline for an article and had to be up at 6 am for work the next morning, and at that moment I wanted nothing more than to experience the carefree state of mind my brother had. That’s when I decided to take the plunge and give Mac a chance.

I realized soon that just like other great forms of art, less is often more, and therein lies the genius of Apple.

Apple products are known for being stylish, powerful and pleasing to use. They are edited products that cut through complexity, by consciously leaving things out — not cramming every feature that came into an engineer’s head, an affliction known as “featuritis” that burdens so many technology products

There’s no burden with my Mac. It’s given me technological autonomy to browse the web, word process, download, and organize the way I want. My PC had me living in a constant state of fear! Mac doesn’t impose hundreds of programs I have no use for or interest in. It doesn’t accuse me of committing an “illegal operation and will shut down” or crash in the middle of writing my senior thesis. It simply leaves things out. By offering less options, it gives more freedom.

There’s a book I looked at but never fully read by Barry Schwartz entitled the Paradox of Choice describing this phenomenon. The first part went over how Americans shop for jeans. Back in the day, and by back in the day I assume the author meant the 80’s and before, purchasing jeans was a simple, mostly enjoyable activity. Today, because we’re bombarded with so many options for jeans the desire to purchase one becomes tiresome, shopping becomes a task when burdened by extraneous, often redundant options. It seemed like a somewhat convincing argument, although I think it’s more applicable in the case of the Mac/PC debate.

So, on this rainy northern California winter day, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect in hindsight of a well made decision: once you go Mac, it’s hard to go back 😉

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