Welcome to Darkside Daily

When I'm not writing about my experiences in this journey called 'life', I'm singing and uploading my own interpretations of modern music. Click on "Cover Songs" to hear them, or on the YouTube logo on the right to see my YouTube channel.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why Sri Lanka Deserved To Win Yesterday's T20

If you're a cricket fan, you probably know of the events that took place in Melbourne yesterday between Sri Lanka and Australia. For those of you who aren't, however, let me recap.

Sri Lanka were playing Australia in their second and final T20 match at Melbourne. After winning their first T20 match, Sri Lanka had a chance of winning the T20 series and going home on a high note, especially after they lost the test series and drew the ODI series. After scoring a solid 164 in their allotted 20 overs, rain interrupted the Australian innings, forcing the game to be shortened to a Duckworth/Lewis adjusted total. Fast foward to the final over, and Australia needed 12 runs off the last 3 balls.

Now, here's where things got interesting.

vol fin_to_DivX_clip0 by Ianbishop

There's been quite an uproar about this whole incident from both sides, and quite frankly, almost all of them are wrong. An overwhelming majority of Sri Lankan supporters feel that we were fully within our rights to not only take time during the last delivery but to also retaliate in the way we did. Many cite the history of sledging done by Australian cricketers, especially against Sri Lankans, and justify using 'karma'. Then there are some who feel that we acted in an 'un-gentlemanly manner' and are embarrassed. I was very annoyed to hear the YES FM DJ Shanaka last night discuss the incident at length during his show, as he seemed to be one of those who thought we shouldn't be proud of this win, and that we had violated the "spirit of the game".
(He also says "mate" a lot, and that didn't help.)
I find all this mildly ridiculous. Who told us sport has to be civilised? The reason we have rules against misconduct is because in any contest of skill, be it boxing or backgammon, people get worked up. Expecting some form of natural decency in sport is like expecting the paparazzi to decline from publishing nude pictures of celebrities. Let's not forget that there was a time when the word 'sport' involved half naked, armed prisoners thrust into a ring with wild animals, fighting for their lives. You didn't have people walking away from the amphitheatre going "Oh well, that last decapitation was a bit much no? Bad manners to slice someones head off from left to right..."
I'm not saying we should allow games to descend into madness, but I'm all for allowing people to allow their emotions to get them going as long as it's within the rules of the game. If we expect players to behave under such a strict rule of conduct, up to the point where we don't allow them outbursts of anger or frustration, then we might as well stay at home and watch computer game simulations instead of the real thing.

Recently in the NBA there was a huge hue and cry during the Knicks and Celtics game, because a Celtics player (KG) allegedly insulted a Knicks player's wife during a game, which led to the Knicks player (Carmelo Anthony) not only losing his mind on the court, but also to waiting outside the Celtics team bus once the game was over to confront KG.
(Apparently he said his wife tasted like Honey Nut Cheerios, a claim he has since denied but that inevitably led to these t-shirts. I admit, I find it hilarious!)
But this is all irrelevant, because guess what - Carmelo took a series of ridiculously bad shots after that incident, made bad decisions, and was basically taken completely out of rhythm. Most importantly, the Celtics won.
The same applies here. If you're a professional athlete, with endorsements, a contract to play sport and have made this your livelihood, you better play with the right mixture of head and heart. If something as simple as delaying the game is going to irritate you to such an extent that you feel the need to push things along, perhaps you need some more time in the minor leagues. So what if the Sri Lankan players told him to eff off? Did he expect them to fall at his feet and immediately heed his words and bowl? Tempers flared, and for a change the Sri Lankans channeled their aggression at the opponent instead of themselves. A seasoned player would have recognised it for what it was - a simple, basic time wasting strategy aimed at unsettling the batsman. Hiding behind the vague and ambiguous "spirit of the game" banner will do you no favours, because at the end of the day contest has been designed to pick a winner, not the most gracious in defeat. 
Was it rude? Definitely; no one is denying that, and certainly Mahela's squeaky clean image will be tarnished. I'm sure he won't mind. Was it good for the sport? Perhaps not, but let's be honest; the cameras and mics don't catch everything that goes on during a game, be it cricket, basketball or any sport for that matter. Players say a lot of stuff in order to get under their opponent's skin. Michael Jordan, perhaps the greatest player of all time was known to be a an especially good (and by that I mean bad) trash talker. Do you think he'll be remembered for that or for the 6 championship rings? Exactly.
David Warner and the crew can say what they want about the win, as well as the Channel 9 commentators. The bottom line is that while it wasn't pretty, the Sri Lankan team did nothing wrong.  No, the Sri Lankan's didn't deserve to win this because of karma or some form of justice. They deserved to win because they played like adults in the face of adversity, for the first time in recent memory. They played with fortitude and emotion, and it was the Australians who, for the briefest of moments, wilted like daisies under the glare of the Melbourne lights and a few accented invectives.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hate Speech In Sri Lanka: Why Are We Still Listening?

We all have experience with crazy people. They're normal, in almost every way, except that tiny little thing that sets them off, and before you know it you're wondering how this person managed to escape the asylum.

This post isn't about those people. God knows that just like taxes and Enrique Iglesias, no matter how hard you'd like for them to just disappear, you make peace with it because you know they're not going anywhere.

This post is about the crazy people that get put on a pedestal and asked for their 'opinions'.

Today I read this post, titled "Laws and religion - some concerns for Sinhala Buddhists" written in the local Daily News. In it, the writer - one Shenali Waduge - goes on a point by point defense of Sinhala Buddhists from the wily and scheming attacks against them, especially the claims that they are 'racists', 'extremist' and even 'militant'.

This, to me, is just laughably absurd. See, there are a lot of people at risk in our little island paradise. Depending on your gender, orientation, politics, religion, mother tongue, upbringing, or just your appearance, there is a real danger which lies under the surface of day to day life. However, the members of the Sinhala Buddhist majority are not one of them. Yet, the writer goes on to paint a picture of a systematic campaign to not only destroy the entire section of the community, but to introduce a new wave of 'Muslimized' converts to rule the land. It's a beautiful tale of intrigue and conspiracy, not unlike which we have seen on TV shows such as "Homeland", but like those shows, this too is just another piece of sensationalist fiction.
Let's break down some key quotes.
"There is little to challenge that freedoms and rights have been enjoyed by Tamils (11 percent) and Muslims (9 percent) and it is because of the rights they enjoy that minorities have been able to openly bring up issues."
I wonder what the writer means by 'openly bring up issues', because there are few things that are 'open' in Sri Lanka, least of all anything that has to do with negative press. Just last week there was a violent protest outside of the No Limit department store, a Muslim owned enterprise, by a radical group of so-called 'patriots' calling for a boycott of the store because of it's ownership. There were violent clashes, and the police were involved, yet not a single iota of this incident made it to any of the local papers. So much for openly bringing up issues.
"Sinhalese Buddhists are concerned because Buddhist cultural heritage is being destroyed, Buddhist archeological and historical cultural monuments are being destroyed"
This is an interesting point to make, considering a large portion of this crimes have been traced back to Buddhist monks raiding their own temples of relics. The most popular story last year was the case of the Kotte double murders, where a Nilame of another temple was found to be the mastermind behind the heist that went wrong, leading to the death of two monks who were unfortunate enough to identify the criminals. Then there was the bizarre case of the mob led by a Buddhist monk that stole a deity from a Hindu temple in broad daylight up north. These are just a few cases I can think off off-hand which have made it to the news, while other reports have always linked ex-military men and deserters to these temple thefts. I haven't heard anything about secret Muslim strike squads and Christian ninjas infiltrating temples to steal things.
"We are concerned because the growing number of Sharia Law courts that were never present in Sri Lanka previously. When Muslims had been following the Sri Lankan laws for decades, why should there be a sudden need for a Muslim only law? Why should 9 percent of the population have a separate law when as citizens of Sri Lanka, Muslims must abide by Sri Lanka’s laws?"
Sharia law, after some light research, has been in effect for quite some time. The main purpose of these courts in Sri Lanka are to settle Muslim marriage disputes, which are governed by a different set of laws. As far as I know, there have not been any legal issues between the State and the Sharia courts regarding Sharia law since all the parties involved are Muslims, and as such it doesn't affect the remaining 91% of the population as the writer states. How then is this a national issue that affects Sinhala Buddhists? Are Sinhala Buddhists marrying Muslims and then getting the short end of the stick? Since these courts are mainly community based and are set up primarily in towns that are of majority Muslims, doesn't the writers argument go against her?

"We are concerned about extremist demands like loud speakers which does not constitute a fundamental right – speakers are only an electronic tools, a recent phenomenon."

You have got to be kidding me. Demands for loudspeakers? Buddhist temples and mosques basically have a chanting war every single day, and I'd like to see either party decide to lay aside their weapons of noise pollution even for an evening. Labelling this as an extremist course of action is sort of hypocritical, surely.

"Even Muslim owned supermarkets that caters to all communities shut down for prayers on Friday. "
Seriously, this is about as consequential as complaining about those Liberty Plaza stores that close for lunch. Seriously, national issue? Attack on Sinhala Buddhist way of life? Seriously?

"We question how peaceful Islam is when almost all the major conflicts in the World are Muslim-oriented and end up Muslims killing each other due to sectarian violence far more than the damage the West does with their air warfare."
I just. I mean. What the. I can't. Huh?

"It has become a practice for both Muslims and Tamils to hide their follies and wrongs behind the cry of “ethnic discrimination”, “hate campaigns” to cover up accusations made against them. It has worked well to camouflage their ulterior motives by internationally promoting Sinhalese Buddhist as “extremists” and using the power of money to spread the news via media. It has been convenient to quote “compassion” of Buddhism and ridicule Buddhists when they attempt to stop Islamic expansionism by bring the truth to the public"
From what I have read so far in this article, the so-called 'follies' and 'wrongs' are closing shops for prayers, loudspeakers and for exercising their faith. What Ms.Waduge fails to mention are the numerous acts of mob violence against the Muslim community, including the Dambulla incident last year when Buddhist monks stormed a mosque, disrupted their prayers and protested outside, demanding that the mosque be demolished. True to form, the 'majority' held firm and the mosque has been slated to be demolished and relocated, despite the fact that it has been legally registered more than 50 years ago and has never incited any form of communal disharmony until then. Does this sound like justice to you, oh mighty majority?
This doesn't even take into account the various unreported incidents of churches being attacked around the country by Buddhist monks and their goons. I have come to know of several of these through people we know, with some even being attacked simply for having a gathering of Christians at their home every Sunday. This somehow, never makes it to the news. Last year there was a report of valuable stained glass windows being destroyed in a small secluded church down South by - you guessed it - our friendly non-racist non-extremist protectors of Buddhism, yet that too never made it to the news! Are you starting to see the trend? Majority for the win!

The rest of the article goes on to detail the secret plan Muslims have for taking over the country. It's a convenient four step strategy, involving such things as migrating to a host country and keeping a low profile, before seeking representation (the nerve!) in all spheres and then having the gall to file lawsuits against 'Islamaphobia', converting citizens secretly against their will and then holding the host country and religion 'hostage' before declaring it a Muslim theocracy.
Look; the entire article is completely bonkers. It sounds like someone on a bad acid trip, or some kind of low budget sci-fi movie, and what's even worse is that the writer identifies with the crazy people she is defending. I'm sad to say that this isn't the first time I'm hearing people speak like this, and a 5 minute search on Facebook will uncover a massive number of pages dedicated to similar extremist, racist, militant thinking. Yet, to find sensationalist, fear-mongering dribble published in a national newspaper is inexcusable! When our media is controlled to such a point that people have now forgotten there is anything north of Anuradhapura except free food and joyous Tamil families playing hopscotch with the Army, any platform given to mad men/women like this writer is negligent and just intolerable. The entire article compares Sri Lanka to radical Muslim states and rules such as those held in Saudi Arabia. Why can she not understand that we are not to hold ourselves to such low standards, but instead aspire to be a free nation that doesn't have to militantly put down the minority when they try to seek representation? Yes, there are Muslim states with grave injustices being carried out, but is that an excuse to conduct our own form of terrorism on their communities in our country? What kind of playground mentality is this?

Bottom line: there are crazy people out there, but it's our job as a sensible, peace-loving community of intelligent adults to refuse them a platform to spread their hate-filled message. In that respect, and in the light of this (and other) article(s) written by writers such as Shenali Waduge, we have failed miserably.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New Year, New Cover Song - "The End"

I don't really believe in New Year's resolutions, but I did promise myself I would be more active with regards to my music and the covers I upload here. One of the hardest things is to find the right song to cover, that converts well to piano, and that I can do justice to. I'm probably my harshest critic when it comes to my music, and so a lot of covers have died an early death before even seeing the light of the.. internet?

So for my first cover of the year, I've decided to try out one of my favourite Pearl Jam songs - "The End". At first I thought it was a song about two lovers separating, but after a second listen it's actually about somone who is, well, dying. Too early, too soon, and with so many plans and dreams "left beside the road".
Bit depressing, no doubt, but it's there's a sincerity in Eddie Vedder's lyrics that somehow make it so poetic.
Anyways, I hope you like it! Original can be found here, the and you can download the audio via soundcloud here. Don't forget to check out my other videos as well.



Friday, January 4, 2013

Women's Sports - Don't Fix The Sport, Fix The Players

Women's sport in general has always been dancing on the precipice of failure.  Take any sport, and the female variant or league is generally struggling to gain revenue and viewership. Women's cricket for instance - next to no interest at all in most of the sub-continent. Women's football exists purely at an amateur level, and a professional level exists mainly in the States as far as I know. Women's tennis does well, thanks mainly to the Williams' sisters and whoever is better looking in a skirt these days. Women's water polo is a horror film of underwater cutting, tearing and scratching.

Then there's women's basketball.

The WNBA, which is the women's league of the more popular National Basketball Association, has been active since 1997, making it a relatively new league. There are 16 teams, moderate attendances, and average to little interest in the sport. There have been many suggestions on how to improve the interest in the league, and the latest one has me all annoyed.

There are many small variations in the sport internationally, but generally all the principles of the game are the same. Standard court sizes, standard ball size, standard rules except for one or two minor tweaks. Now, the innovators think that we need to change some of these to suit women; they want to reduce the height of the rim from 10 feet to 9'6".
There's a reason I'm extremely against this. First of all, it's a silly idea simply because the premise behind this alteration is that women will display more 'high flying' feats of athleticism, thus bringing more people to the games. Secondly, they feel that shooting percentages will go up, thus making it more interesting to watch. Both these assumptions are wrong. The WNBA is not going to have more fans entering stadiums just because a few women will now be able to graze in a two-handed dunk all alone on a fastbreak. Neither are they going to be interested just because the ball goes in 1%-2% more often than earlier.
However, the main reason I'm against this is because it - yes I'm going to say this - defiles the sanctity of the sport.
Look, sport is rarely made for a particular sex. Suggesting that we alter the height of the rim simply because men are taller makes absolutely no sense to me; what about school yards and colleges? Are we going to have a system that reduces the hoop height just because girls are playing? Is that the message we want to send women anyway, that they're just not tall enough to play with the 'boys'? What about short guys? I haven't played with anyone who came close to being able to dunk; how come we don't have shorter hoops for the sub-continent?
Sport is sport; it is universal and applies to both genders equally. By altering the rules to suit women, we set a precedent that kind of negates the point of sports in the first place. If the idea is to see how many times you can shoot a ball into a hoop in 45 minutes, wouldn't it make sense to improve your skill rather than reduce the goal?
This whole problem starts because we compare the women's game to the men's game, which is a fundamentally flawed and unfair comparison. Men and women play the game at a very high level, just with different skill sets. While the men's game is definitely more polished and more athletic, it's taken years of evolution to come to this stage. Back in the 60's, it was unheard of to see the kind of dunks, crossovers and blocks we see nowadays. We don't even have to go that far back; just in 2000, Vince Carter's through the legs dunk at the dunk competition had people falling out of the aisles. Now, people expect players to dunk over cars or dunk on two hoops at the same time for anyone to take notice.
The women's game will have to make a similar evolution. I'm not saying that women will start performing 'flying death machine' alley-oops (they might though) but the game will definitely improve, given time and input. Let's not forget; the NBA was as good as dead before the famous Lakers - Celtics, Magic Johnson - Larry Bird rivalries of the late 70's and early 80's. That's what got the crowds in, and got television ratings up. The women's game needs that kind of renaissance as well.
Not a shorter hoop.

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