Whatever Happened to Rage Against The Machine?

My all time favourite band growing up…

I remember being into Rap and R&B… Boyz II Men, Mariah Carey, Warren G, etc. and then in high school just at the end of Apartheid being exposed to the lyrics of Rage Against The Machine. I remember writing them off because I just wasn’t into heavy metal… but those lyrics though.

Soon enough the music grew on me and I was jumping on my bed playing air guitar and singing (if you can call it singing) to “Bullet in the Head”.

They were and are the ultimate Rock personification of disestablishmentarianism. Utterly awesome. I bought all their CD’s, still have them on Spotify and dwell in this fog of nostalgia, now and then getting really excited when Tom Morello shows up as a guest guitarist on other people’s tracks.

I bought “Killing in the Name of” three times during that Christmas campaign in 2009 which made them Christmas no.1 in the UK that year and them getting kicked off Radio 1 for swearing, appropriately, with the phrase “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me.” What an awesome concept.

I’m still disappointed that there hasn’t been any new albums from the group. But I keep hoping.  Still haven’t seen them live in concert either. I would’ve loved that.

Today there still isn’t a single rock group that can hold a candle to them… I mean, in hip hop we have Immortal Technique and Mos def doing his baritone jazzy thing but still both push boundaries in speaking Truth to Power.  Mostly it’s all pop bullshit. Constant and everywhere. Taylor Swift and One direction and I don’t fucking care!

Please bring RATM back or at least somebody step up to the plate.


Let’s Kill the Autopilot

mindfulOver the last few years I’ve constantly tried to improve things in my life, especially my habits, like exercising more, eating healthier, etc. I’ve succeeded somewhat but it is really hard to maintain. Falling into old habits is so easy, so convenient, so… comfortable.  There’s something to be said about the short-term good-feeling things leading to a long-term really, really shitty life situation.

Living this life on autopilot automatically makes us simply follow our desires. Choosing ourselves and whatever feels good at every turn and over a long enough timeline this leads to bad health (more food and less exercise), bad relationships (What’s in it for me?) and a bad career (I’m getting paid so its okay).

I’ve had to start from the beginning and at least look at the medium term because I couldn’t get my head around what a long term plan would look like. What do I want to really achieve in the next year?  How do I make that happen week by week, day by day?  What would my day look like if I want to achieve these things?

Asking these questions and then crafting what my day should look like made me realise just how much time I’ve wasted in the previous year, time being taken up by TV series, Movies, Facebook. Social Media is a time suck like no other when we let ourselves go on autopilot, if you analyse it you notice your need for validation from this little app on your smart phone.  ow many likes did I get? Is anybody commenting? what do they say? How can I respond to make myself look cool?  All of these thoughts and feelings bouncing around millisecond by millisecond and we’re not paying attention.

So anyway… what this means for the upcoming year of 2015?  My word is “Mindfullness”, let’s kill the autopilot.

“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

The Run

I can remember, not very far back, believing that running just wasn’t for me. I had tried it (well, thought I had) and decided I did not like how it felt and it just wasn’t for me. at least compared to cycling, which I absolutely loved ever since I stole my friends bike on a few occasions and taught myself to ride.

Anyway, back to the running, it was only when I had someone push me on a treadmill to go past the point of pain I felt in my legs. In fact, to feel that pain, acknowledge it and push past it. Not too far where I’d risk injury, but just a little, so that I 1) knew I could do it and 2) taught my legs to re-consider it’s limits.

Later I learned that it was my lactic acid threshold ( the pain I mentioned) which was responsible for holding me back from running and also responsible for the uncomfortable feeling I used to have when it came to running.

Another obstacle was my heart, another muscle you can only train to keep going by pushing it a little by little. The feeling you get is one of fatigue, a pain in your chest, not too bad but it’s there kind of pain. Push Past It. Little by little. Run by run, that’s how I finally was able to complete my own 5k by myself and then upward to 10k. I’m still shocked that I managed it but when you take into account the steps involved it does make sense.

Little by little. Pushing past the pain.

I’m writing this now because, to an extent, I’ve lost the above. I’ve had to take a break from running for a few reasons I won’t go into an now I find myself where I started… Out of breath, lower lactic acid threshold, etc.

So… Here we go again then. :)


The Struggle To Get a Six-Pack


You know those Men’s Fitness and Health Magazines that always promise getting a six-pack within a week with some simple move? Or some specific eating plan? If you haven’t figured it out already, it’s all bull-shit.

Getting a six-pack is HARD. Like, really hard. It’s a physical undertaking like no other, especially when you start off as an overweight 30-something. Where catch your figure in one of the mirrors in the house and think… “What the fuck have I become?” “How the hell did I let THAT happen?”

So when starting out, I needed a goal and I don’t like to beat around the bush. I didn’t want to “lose weight” or “get more toned” … I wanted a freakin’ six-pack. I still don’t have it. I’m 2
months in, feeling much better than I’ve ever felt but still… No six pack. It’s going to take more hard work and commitment but it’s getting so much easier.

I’ve realised the hardest part was starting out. Getting over the first hurdles and creating a sustainable habit and not giving up on it. The exercise and eating better thing is actually pretty easy once you’re already into it. The hard part is getting your ass up early, getting your ass out the door, preparing all the healthy “meals” you’re gonna have to eat.

On the diet, though… I’ve noticed something incredible. Right now I’m on veggies and various protein (chicken, lamb, steak, etc.) and complex carbs (stuff with lots of fibre). I used to be (and probably still am) a lover of fried chips and double burgers gooey with cheese and overloaded oven-baked pizza. Anyway, after I’ve switched to eating healthier… My cravings for these things have diminished and disappeared altogether. I’ve tried having some chips since and it’s made me feel disgusted, bloated, oily and slow. I didn’t see that coming.

Now burgers and pizza’s as cheat meals are still on the list (no doubt) but now… They have to be of the highest standard before I can contemplate eating them above my current diet. They have to blow my mind. Because I just know that if it is anything less, it’s going to make me feel like shit and there’s just no benefit. You know that feeling you get when you have an absolutely awesome burger or pizza or whatever. That feeling has to be there EVERYTIME I have one of those things. Otherwise I won’t get past a bite.

The other thing I’ve realised is that I’ve only gotten this far because I’d started small. Began by cutting down sugar, staying away from fried chips, switched my oil to olive oil. Then switched my carbs to complex, and then decreased them.

So that’s my epiphany so far. Physically, I’m judging my progress by how much fat’s around my waist when I sit down… I think we all know that one. Stand up and you can hardly see anything. Sit down and there’s an ocean of fat around your middle.

The mindset change needs to go from eating all the awesome fatty, sweet, delicious things as normal and eating a salad now and then to eating healthy all the time and having something high quality which you really love “now and then”.

In terms of routine, until I reach my goal, it’s exercise (strength an cardio) 5 times a week, and then after that bring it down to 3 times a week. Once again, starting out is hard, but once it becomes a habit (about 3-4 weeks) you can’t see how you could be doing anything else. Your goals suddenly seem reachable.

The other things is, you need to do all this with someone. Particularly someone who will hold you accountable and push you. Doing all this on my own would’ve been impossible.

When you’re in it for a while and only seeing small progress, look back at how far you’ve come instead of how far is left to go.

So that’s all my thoughts on the subject so far. No doubt though, I am NOT going to stop until I get there and keep it there.


Kids Raping and Being Sexually Violent? WTF?

Just read this story today about kids abusing each other from as young as 11 years old. How the hell did people allow things to go so far?

I see two causes for this disgusting situation:

1. Perpetuating a culture of instant gratification.
2. Lack of appropriate consequences for actions. i.e. Punitive measures specifically.

Firstly, kids now expect to have their desires satisfied immediately, so if the opportunity presents itself, it doesn’t matter what the feelings and well being of other people are, they just take what they want and if this means raping someone, in their minds it’s fine.

This is made worse by the fact there is a serious lack of appropriate consequences for their actions. Their are no punitive measures. These kids are molly cuddled tip-tied around when what they really need is a bloody good hiding. But the society we live in are a bunch of idiots who are focusing on trees and forgetting the forest. Myopic, naive decision making and ignorance of the bigger picture has led to this.

Fine, maybe a hiding is not the right response (although history would say otherwise, the previous generation were much, much better in general and by all accounts). Well then, I don’t know, march them through the streets and shame them. Make the action they’ve committed relevant to their context… What if what they did happened to their mother or sister or daughter? Is there a way of making them see things differently? Of course there is. Make the punishment spending time helping people with far less than they have… Do SOMETHING to change their perspective.

We need to start being a bit clever and brave to get out of this ridiculous situation where people are afraid of making the right decisions for the greater good of society and, more importantly, more well-rounded and good-mannered children who are a benefit to society and not a hindrance.

Then and Now…

I’ve been thinking about the time I grew up in and how things are different now and I got to thinking… the cartoons and programming I grew up with were really, really great in terms of storyline and morals, etc. (obviously not all of them).  But a list would make my point better…

  • He-man
  • Thundercats
  • Bravestar
  • Sabre Rider and the Star Sheriffs
  • Bionic Six

I’m sure there were more but anyway, the point is these shows had content which meant something greater than the current bullshit cartoons we have on air.  I’m worried about what this generation of kids will create.  My generation have developed the recent swathe of brilliant television series (not day-time TV, that’s been shit forever)… I’m talking about Breaking Bad, The Wire, House of Cards, Boardwalk Empire… pick your favourite TV show today and it was somewhere within a 5 years of our generation.

What will this generation bring us?  They’ve been growing up on Teletubbies, Power Rangers, Pokemon (has some merit), Whatever’s on Cartoon Network… fucking spongebob.

Then again, maybe I’m being too harsh.

Everything Wrong With “Star Trek: Into Darkness”

Star Trek Into Darkness

This is a guest post (actually an email rant) by my good friend @thatmashguy.

You may have a different point of view, but you can not argue with the logic on this one… and it is definitely worth reading.

Star Trek. Where to begin. Bloody hell. Leaden War on Terror allegory. Really stupid plot. Awful attempts to pay homage to Wrath of Khan. At the beginning and end they have two scenes where its basically a real life Kobayashi Maru test. I get what they were trying to do but its poorly conceived!! He’s not willing to let his friend die at the beginning but by the end he is willing to sacrifice himself.

There’s so many bits where they over explain things.

Khan is shit. He’s crap. So badly written.

The Warp Speed fight! Lol are you kidding me! Imagine how fast they are both going… So then the phaser shots must be even faster!

And why the hell do they needed Khan’s body when they have 72 super people in cryostasis?

End of the day it just doesn’t feel like Star Trek. Not even crap Star Trek. It’s something else… In fancy dress. That’s what you get when you let a star Wars fan make a star trek movie.

Something interesting though. Why do you guys think Americans always evoke 9/11 imagery in their films? Are they trying to compete? 

I couldn’t believe it when they rolled out the real Spock. Again!!! And why?

To tell the audience that Khan is a really bad guy… Because they didn’t actually show it. First he’s a terrorist… Then they give him a scene where he yaps about his family and cries. This is to humanise the terrorist and give him a noble cause. He actually makes a fair case for being angry.

But then we need Spock to tell us… Those Muslims..sorry… That Khan… He will not hesitate to kill you all…

Then Captain Kirk has to join forces with him (what is this Fast & Furious). And that Whole scene of them flying across to the other ship. Seriously!? How easily does his screen crack. And how does Khan knock himself out if he’s a superhuman. Shouldn’t he have super reflexes? He was pretty awesome beating the (faceless) Klingons

 Are the Klingons the Muslims of this film? They are definitely the mirror other of the federation.

You can’t blatantly pay homage to Wrath of Khan and then complain that people compare it to the older and far far better film. It’s blatantly playing with the mythology. The bit where Spock screams Khaaaan! As my sister would say OH EM JEE!!!!! And there’s numerous call outs to the old film. Like when Spock says ‘The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few’ he just randomly says it without any kind of context and then they forget about it.

The thing about the new films that really gets my goat is something that is common in a lot of modern films. These people that are apparently the best at what they do… are consistently incompetent. Kirk is the Captain of the newest and best Starship in the fleet. He’s responsible for the safety of hundreds of people but he’s an irresponsible jerk, why would you give this guy a Starship? Because he has greatness in him.. it’s a Prophecy people!!

See with the 2009 film they decided they needed an origin story so he goes to Starfleet. Now if you ever watched Star Trek: TNG you will remember that Ensign Wesley Crusher went to Starfleet and he was there for YEARS, until the Traveler came along again and took him off to become a Timelord.
But they couldn’t be bothered with dealing with that or then the there is the fact once he has left Starfleet that he would need to earn his way to a Starship, which would take even more time. They didn’t want to tell that story, they just wanted young hot actors in the roles so they ignored it. There’s no value in working your way up and actually learning some responsibility on your way to EARNING a Captaincy of a Starship. You know.. because the process of promotion might actually weed out people not suited to commanding starships.
But hey Pike believes in him because he knew his Dad so he gets Starfleet to give him their newest ship. 
I really think Americans hate the idea of anyone being good at what they do, someone actually having brains and skills. They want to believe anyone can do anything. Or maybe it’s the fact that we live in an age where people don’t believe they should have to work for anything. They just think they deserve it right now without any effort. Maybe that’s what it is. 
So in the new film it just gets worse. So at the beginning in the volcano they bugger it up and Spock almost dies. This is fake drama. Why are Kirk and Bones playing Indiana Jones? What’s that got to do with the Volcano, if they wanted that scroll which they then discard… couldn’t they just have teleported it. Why does Spock need to go into the Volcano himself? Why can’t they just send a drone? Does he really need to manually arm the bomb? My phone is more advanced than that stupid bomb. 
Fake drama because they needed to manufacture a scene where Kirk breaks the rules to save Spock. 
So then he gets kicked back to Starfleet for about 5minutes but then Pike believes in his Prophecy and gets him back on the Enterprise. Because it’s his destiny in case you didn’t know.
This thing about incompetence being rewarded runs through the film. 
Scotty resigns and they get Chekov to become the Chief Engineer!!!!!! Just like that.. Seriously!? Of a brand new Starship!? 
Then when they go to the Klingon home world they almost get killed until a superhero saves them. And you know he’s a badass because of how he holds that badass gun and kills tons of random Klingons who we never hear from again even though the Enterprise is stuck in their star system.
The hot blonde is supposed to be a weapons specialist but when she’s trying to disarm the photon torpedo she’s clueless and has to ‘improvise’ and it works. Great bod though. 
To top it all off. At the end when the ship is falling into Earth’s Atmosphere. Kirk goes into the engine room. That’s problematic on a number of levels.
First of all. It’s supposed to show that he’s learned his lesson and understands the value of sacrifice which I guess is his character arc in this film. But it’s also supposed to show that Spock and Kirks roles have been reversed. Spock does what Kirk would have done with the torpedoes… by being a sly mofo and blowing them up on the big ship This is actually pretty cool and fitting until you realise that earlier in the film they said that Khan had removed the explosives from the torpedoes and replaced them with the cryo-people. So how do they explode, even if you accept that they replaced the people with explosives, I’m pretty sure that advanced starship would have been able to read the signature and realise this. But I’m willing to let that one slide. 
So then Kirk is supposed to make the logical choice of sacrificing himself for the good of the ship.  But really he’s still a selfish prick but now with a martyr complex. The problem is he’s not a science engineer like Spock, so he wouldn’t know what to do once he’s in the room. So Kirk knocks Scotty out so he can go and be the hero again. What has he actually learned? It’s still ME ME ME. It’s still about his personal glory. But Scotty is a gifted engineer, the LOGICAL thing would be for him to go in.. or Spock! It makes sense that he goes in. And this would still work with the story because now Kirk has changed from the beginning and is willing to make the tough decisions a Starship captain had to make and sacrifice his friend. That would work way better, sacrificing someoone else for the good of the crew.
But these films are not about the collective ensemble anymore. They are about Kirk & Spock with little bits of Uhuru and Bones to add some colour. So it has to be Kirk being a hero.
So anyway – Kirk then goes into the radioactive engine room of a futuristic starship… and the solution to the problem? Kicking some engine bit as hard as he can. Really!!? This is the same starship that Scotty resigned from because he was not comfortable having weapons on board that might interfere with the sensitive engines and cause problems.  What if it the problem had actually required some skill!?? What would he have done. And how did that thing get knocked out of place anyway when everything else looks completely fine. No wonder he didn’t care about promoting Chekov to Chief engineer.
In a way this scene is a fitting metaphor for these new Star Trek films – Captain Kirk, Saving his crew… by kicking a thing really really hard!!
It’s never about them being GOOD at what they do and actually being effective. This the supposed to be cream of the crop of Starfleet? 
The best thing in these films is Dr McCoy. He’s brilliant. 
The thing about Star Trek. The world has rules and processes and real stakes. They are generally slow character based stories with high emotional stakes and they’re all different types of films. Just watch any of the old shows and some of the movies. 
ST1 is an old school 2001: ASO influenced hard Sci-fi flick.  ST2 is a popcorn movie about vegeance and getting old, Khan is really an apparition of Kirks previous decisions coming back to haunt him and this is mirrored with the fact that he has a son that he has never really acknowledged. ST3 gets straight up biblical with all the Genesis stuff. ST4 is a fish out of water comedy. Number 6 is a political thriller. 
These new films are just bullshit filled with shortcuts to get to the next action scene. They’re so bland. I don’t think that’s their fault though, that’s modern films in general. They are producsts of their time. Hollywood has forgotten how to make a great story with realy stakes, emotion and tension. They’re too in love with the fun toys and creating green screen worlds and big explosions to understand that you need to give a crap about the characters first. 


You’re Welcome.

Daddy’s Gone.

The loss of someone close to you has effects which are hard to describe with words on a page. Mostly, everything can only be communicated through holding someone close to express one’s grief. And tears, lots of tears the result of tumultuous emotions boiling inside you and randomly surfacing.

How do I describe this man? Because if you ask anyone at all about him you will know that he was more than any one label, he truly was a legend. I have never seen a funeral procession that big, nor the mix of black, white, indian, poor, rich, Muslim, non-Muslim and other categories of people all uniting in grief over this one man, my father in-law, Riaz Jamal.

The change he had facilitated in Durban, and the whole of South Africa and beyond, not only with his ideas and vision, but his way of dealing with people is a lesson on life and living I can only hope to emulate. You could not know him and not love him and deeply respect him.

He treated everyone right and according to their level of understanding and gave them what they needed, not necessarily what they wanted. Just trying to know what people really need is sometimes a hard feat on its own, yet he both did it and delivered.

How can I even communicate this sense of loss I feel? And I was not even the closest to him yet I feel like I’ve lost a part of me.
Can you imagine how it must feel for those who’ve lived almost their entire lives with him? Watching him slip away, and there’s nothing you can do about it?

It’s heart-breaking… But everybody has their time. I’m grateful for what little time I spent with him, for the things he’s taught me. He had achieved some major goals he had hoped to achieve including completely transforming the school where he was a principal and the community around it, forever.

Radio Al-Ansaar, now a staple on the KZN media scene would not be the amazing media source it now is if it wasn’t for him… The permanent licence it now has would not be there without him… and these were only two of the so many things he had done personally with people and on a larger scale through the organisations he worked with.

I can only hope to be half the man he was, but I plan to try. To do things the way he had done them to achieve some of my own goals before I too have to leave this world. A lot of people have the dream to leave this world a little better than when they found it. Riaz Jamal had done this on every level of his life… personally, in his community, and through the work he had done in various organisations.

The sense of loss and how much I miss him cannot be described. I’m just grateful for getting to know him for a little while and learning what it is to be a real man… An example of which very few people remain.

Getting to (0) Unread Emails


A few weeks ago I remember looking at my Inbox and feeling absolutely exasperated at the 3000 unread emails staring at me. I remember feeling disgusted as to how I could have let things get so bad.

Anyway, skip to last week and I’m looking at 0, that’s ZERO, unread emails. How did I do it? Sheer will, patience and constancy.

Here’s what you do… Start with the first email, open it, if its yet another subscription you thought you needed, critically review it and then decide whether you want the subscription or not. If not, which is most likely if you have a couple thousand unread emails… Scroll to the bottom and click the unsubscribe link.

Secondly, search your email by “From” of that same newsletter, select ALL of them and DELETE.

There you go… After that you move onto the next email and repeat the process. Only ever keep important emails and read EVERYTHING. If you don’t read it or need to read it, maybe you shouldn’t be subscribed to it at all… above all don’t leave it there.

The ultimate point is that your email Should be filled with items you want to read from sources which are important to you. Also, to make sure you stick to the habit… Enable “push email” on your smartphone (if you have one) … Believe me, any unwanted emails will very quickly get removed when they keep bugging you like that, and also… You get those important mails earlier and quicker.

Life = better.

Get at it.