KISS: Sure Know Something

I’ve been a gambler
But I’m nobody’s fool

Didn’t even know that KISS had a video for this one, “Sure Know Something“, from their Dynasty album (1979). Co-written by Paul Stanley and Vini Poncia, who produced the album:

Where the later 1995 unplugged version appeared to have a particular popularity:

Nicely reworked 2013 cover by Argentinian band Glide Path:

No one can tell me
Til I hear it from you

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Look Into My Future


Al-Quds School, Baghdad
September, 2002
Photograph by Faleh Kheiber, Reuters

Found this picture accompanying an article by Scott Taylor, “U.S. inspector slams Iraq attack”, Ottawa Citizen, September 9, 2002: A6. Front page story on that day: Toby Harnden, Hilary Mackenzie and Andrew Sparrow, “Bush, Blair willing to go it alone: U.S. and Britain agree to launch attack on Iraq even if UN says no”.

September, 2002. Beginning of the school year. Invasion commencing March 19, 2003.

All haunting, in these futures.

Posted in Iraq, War and Remembrance | Leave a comment

My Own Worst Enemy

My Own Worst Enemy. Television series starring Christian Slater that lasted only nine episodes, in the fall of 2008.

Regrettably. Wikipedia summary:

The series followed the life of American secret agent Edward Albright and his cover, Henry Spivey, who had no knowledge of his double life. Albright, played by Christian Slater, was implanted with a chip allowing his handlers to physically switch Albright’s personality to that of his cover. However, in the pilot episode, there was a malfunction which caused Albright’s personalities to switch at random, revealing his secret life to his alias. Henry was then thrown into the highly dangerous life of Edward, with no real way for the two to communicate except through short cell phone video messages.

Engaging depiction of two worlds.

Two people, same person:

Two worlds:

Four takes:

The disclosure:

Series needing more time.

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Common Law Religion

Came across this Muslim Link article about the relationship between the common law and the Qur’an. Written by someone who is not a law student. Religious scholars could make for very good lawyers:

Islamic roots of the common law

Ismail Barreh
Muslim Link, May 20, 2010

Islamic finance and banking have enjoyed success in common law jurisdictions such as England, New Zealand, Australia and India. In fact, Islamic banks willingly submit themselves to common law courts to enforce shariah-compliant commercial contracts.

Islamic banks in the UK have in their murabahah (Islamic financing) agreements a governing law clause that states: “Subject to the principles of the Glorious Shariah, this Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England”.

British companies doing business in Islamic countries sign contracts based on local laws. But is there a degree of compatibility between English law and Islamic Shariah law?

Last month I took a course on “Business and the Law”, which was designed to give MBA students an understanding of the common law in regards to business contracts. Common law (law governing this country except Quebec) can be traced to England. Common law or judge-made law as it is referred to by lawyers, places heavy emphasis on case precedents rather than on statutes (law enacted by legislature) as opposed to civil law which is a codified law.

The course gave me some insight into the relationship between common law and Islamic law. I found out that there were some similarities between the two systems of law. For instance, judges in the common law system look at different sources when giving a ruling just like Islamic scholars look at different sources — i.e. Quran, Sunna (teachings of the Prophet, may peace be upon him), Ijma’ (consensus of the scholars).

Another remarkable resemblance with Islamic law is that judges when rendering decisions look at case precedents. This is similar to the methodology of legal precedent and reasoning by analogy (Qiyas) that was described by early Islamic legal scholars.

Some important and core features of modern English contract law that were studied in class were the concept of rescission, frustration of purpose and force majeure. These concepts are relatively recent introductions into the Law of England and can be traced back to Islamic roots.

Early Islamic jurists formulated contract laws that introduced formal rationality, legal logic and analogical reasoning in the use of contracts. In fact, Islamic jurists were the first to introduce the concepts of rescission (Iqalah), frustration of purpose (istihalah al-tanfidh or “impossibility of performance”), Act of God (afat samawiyah or “Misfortune from Heaven”) and force majeure in the law of contracts.

Curious to find out more about the connection between Islamic Shariah law and common law, I started to do more research on the subject. I came across recent studies that have looked at the possibility that certain principles of early English common law are rooted in Islamic law through contact with the multicultural kingdoms of Sicily and Jerusalem. Several scholars, most notably Professor John Makdisi in the United States, and barrister Omar Faruk, in the United Kingdom, suggest a connection between the two systems of law.

In June 1999, Prof. Makdisi has written a delightful and thought provoking article: “The Islamic origins of the common law”, published in the North Carolina Law Review. Prof. Makdisi looked at three legal institutions that were introduced to English law during the reign of King Henry II (1154-1189), which resulted in revolutionary changes in the English legal system, among which were the action of debt, the assize of novel disseisin, and trial by jury. He studied their counterparts in Islamic law and found out striking similarities between the two legal institutions. Prof. Makdisi argues that these transplants must have made their way into Norman England through contact with the multicultural kingdoms of Sicily which was at the time under the influence of Islam.

In Islamic law of contract (Caqd), the property of the object of sale got transferred to the buyer as soon as the contract of sale was concluded — that is, upon offer and acceptance. Prof. Makdisi says that this was unknown to western legal systems in the twelfth century. It is only after — during the reign of King Henry II — that English contract law permitted the transfer of property ownership on the sole basis of offer and acceptance through the action of debt.

Early English law emphasized possession in resolving disputes for “the recovery of usurped land”. Actual physical possession was recognized as sole proof of title to land, a horse, etc. The “assize of novel disseisin” introduced by King Henry II, broke with this tradition and emphasized ownership, as is found in the Islamic law of istihqaq.

Prof. Makdisi also found out that dispute settling in royal courts through trial by jury resembled the Islamic lafif. In the practice of Maliki school of thought in North Africa, lafif was a body of twelve members drawn from the neighbourhood who were sworn to tell the truth and were bound to give a unanimous verdict. It was used in the exceptional case where proof by cudul (honourable) witnesses was not available.

Prof. Makdisi concludes: “The Islamic legal system was far superior to the primitive legal system of England before the birth of the common law. It was natural for the more primitive system to look to the more sophisticated one as it developed three institutions that played a major role in creating the common law. The action of debt, the assize of novel disseisin, and trial by jury introduced mechanisms for a more rational, sophisticated legal process that existed only in Islamic law at that time. Furthermore, the study of the characteristics of the function and structure of Islamic law demonstrates its remarkable kinship with the common law in contrast to the civil law. Finally, one cannot forget the opportunity for the transplant of these mechanisms from Islam through Sicily to Norman England in the twelfth century.”

Others scholars have also uncovered striking similarities between Islamic legal institutions and modern legal institutions.

Another scholar who has suggested an Islamic influence on the common law is Henry Cattan. In 1955, he noted that the English trust closely resembled and probably was derived from the earlier Islamic institution of waqf (endowment).

A masterpiece in Islamic medieval partnership is the great research work of Abraham Udovitch: Partnership and Profit in Medieval Islam. He pointed out that the European commenda which gave birth to the modern institution of “venture capital”, probably originated from Islam.

Prof. Udovitch writes: “Although commercial arrangements resembling the commenda were known in the Near Eastern and Mediterranean world from the earliest times, it is the Islamic form of the contract (qirad, muqarada, mudaraba) which is the earliest example of a commercial arrangement identical with that economic and legal institution which became known in Europe as the commenda.”

It is a fact that Islamic history and civilisation led to centuries of advanced knowledge in so many different spheres. Many branches of Western learning, from mathematics to philosophy, owe a debt of gratitude to Islamic influence. As evidenced by many Western Scholars, Islamic shariah law is full of rich and in-depth features. It is definitely not that “radioactive” view held in the West. It is only when Muslims departed from their glorious history that things went wrong.

Professor Noah Feldman of Harvard School of Law, writes in his book, The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State, that the downfall of the Ottoman empire happened when the rulers took away the central role played by ”˜Ulema (scholars) and started to construct a legal system independent of the shariah, reforms “collectively known as the tanzimat” (a codified system of law similar to the Roman civil law).

Prof. Feldman argues that “these legal and constitutional reforms displaced and destroyed the scholarly class.” In Prof. Feldman’s words Islamic scholars were the “gatekeepers” of the shariah, they kept in check the Sultan.

I conclude with this beautiful saying of the second Caliph of Islam, Umar bin Al- Khattab, narrated in Sahih Al-Bukhari: “Once a Jew said to me ,’O Chief of Believers! There is a verse in your Holy Book which is read by all of you (Muslims), and had it been revealed to us, we would have taken that day (on which it was revealed) as an ”˜Eid (festival) day.’ I asked him, ”˜Which is that verse?’ The Jew replied: ”˜This day I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion,’ (Quran, ch 5, v.3). I replied, ”˜No doubt, we know when and where this verse was revealed to the Prophet, may peace and blessings be upon him. It was Friday and the Prophet was standing at Arafat.’

Ismail Barreh will be completing his MBA this June at the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Business. He is also Islamic banking and finance certificate and has a degree in engineering from Carleton University.

Posted in Common Law, Islam | Leave a comment


Neil Remington Abramson drew to my attention a New York Times opinion piece by Ross Douthat, “Forcing every mom and dad to be a helicopter parent”. Some of the concerns expressed by Ross Douthat:

But the pattern — a “criminalization of parenthood”, in the words of The Washington Post’s Radley Balko — still looks slightly nightmarish, and there are forces at work here that we should recognize, name and resist.

First is the upper-class, competition-driven vision of childhood as a rigorously supervised period in which unattended play is abnormal, risky, weird. This perspective hasn’t just led to “the erosion of child culture,” to borrow a quote from Hanna Rosin’s depressing Atlantic essay on “The Overprotected Kid”; it has encouraged bystanders and public servants to regard a deviation from constant supervision as a sign of parental neglect.

Second is the disproportionate anxiety over child safety, fed by media coverage of every abduction, every murdered child, every tragic “hot car” death. Such horrors are real, of course, but the danger is wildly overstated: Crime rates are down, abductions and car deaths are both rare, and most of the parents leaving children (especially non-infants) in cars briefly or letting them roam a little are behaving perfectly responsibly.

Third is an erosion of community and social trust, which has made ordinary neighborliness seem somehow unnatural or archaic, and given us instead what Gracy Olmstead’s article in The American Conservative dubs the “bad Samaritan” phenomenon — the passer-by who passes the buck to law enforcement as expeditiously as possible. (Technology accentuates this problem: Why speak to a parent when you can just snap a smartphone picture for the cops?)

And then finally there’s a policy element — the way these trends interact not only with the rise of single parenthood, but also with a welfare system whose work requirements can put a single mother behind a fast-food counter while her kid is out of school.

Neil commented as follows (reproduced with permission):

I wonder if the rising rates of twenty-somethings still living at home is related to the overprotection of these “children” throughout their lives? If your parents constantly monitor your safety, when do you learn to take care of yourself? And if your hand is hand is held entirely while growing up, do you even know how to let it go and walk for yourself? Would you ever even want to let go of the hand you’d always held, and that had always held you up?

My mother, Jane Remington, stayed at home to safeguard me until I was 10, having worked between 1953 and 1958, until I was five. During those early years, she was a senior market researcher at the McCann Erickson advertising agency, in New York City, and was offered a vice-presidency of a European subsidiary of McCann Erickson, if she remained single. She was a widow, as of 1954, following the murder of my father, William Walter Remington, in prison.

So I had five years of “safety”, between 5 and 10.

I was in nursery school in New York City from the age of 1.5, with a nanny to come home to at the end of the day, while my mother laboured into the evening with McCann Erickson. In keeping with the times, a black nanny. The nanny was employed just in the late afternoon, so there’d be someone home with me. She’d plunk me down in front of the TV. New York City had TV earlier than most places.

When I was 5, my mother remarried and left McCann Erickson. We moved to State College, Pennsylvania, to be with my stepfather. My stepfather, Ed Abramson, was an Associate Professor of Sociology at Penn State. He was 41, and had been an academic at Penn State for 17 years, at that point.

At State College, I had a little red bicycle and I was allowed to ride freely around my neighbourhood and the surrounding countryside. So having a stay home mother after that was a bit superfluous, I guess.

We moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, after a year at State College. In Saskatoon at age 6, despite a mom-at-home, I had a blue bicycle and the freedom to go here and there on it. I went to and from school (several blocks) without supervision, even when it was really cold in winter. So did virtually all of the children in the neighbourhood. In summer, we boys in the neighbourhood used to explore new construction sites, exploring half-finished houses, plus make war on each other with thrown dirt lumps, rocks, and pellet guns. I wonder if my mom knew? No one called the cops! I guess it was normal, including no injuries.

And yet I came out OK. I was an entrepreneur-oriented businessperson for 10 years. Now I am a business professor, and have been for 22 years. I wonder how much better (or worse) I might have done, had my mom been holding my hand the whole time?

If grown kids can’t find jobs, homes, careers, and spouses–ll the things we did because we were expected to, how much of that is the result of overprotection? Parents now have ease of mind, since how can they be blamed for any negative outcome, after being so protective?

Helicopter outcome. No responsibility for collateral damage.

Posted in New York, Parenting, Saskatoon Reflections | Leave a comment

Just Dunno…

Was adding some links to Iraqi sites, referenced in a comment by Neil Remington Abramson to an earlier article, and came across this. Don’t recall this issue assuming much Canadian media prominence, at least so far:

Purged by ISIS, Iraq’s Christians appeal to the world for help

Fox News,
July 23, 2014

Iraqi Christians are begging for help from the civilized world after Mosul, the northern city where they have lived and worshiped for 2,000 years, was purged of non-Muslims by ISIS, the jihadist terror group that claims to have established its own nation in the region.

Assyrian Christians, including Chaldean and Syriac Catholics, Syriac Orthodox and followers of the Assyrian Church of the East have roots in present day Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran that stretch back to the time of Jesus Christ. While they have long been a minority and have faced persecution in the past, they had never been driven completely from their homes as has happened in Mosul under ISIS. When the terror group ordered all to convert to Islam, pay a religious tax or face execution, many chose another option: flight.

“By 12 noon on Saturday, the Christians — all of them — left the city,” Yousif Habash, an Iraqi-born bishop of the Syriac Catholic Church, told

Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, included 60,000 Christians in 2003. By last month, the number had dwindled to just 35,000. It now stands at zero, according to Ignatius Yousef Younan III, patriarch of the Syrian Catholic Church.

“We have to pray to wake our master, the Lord Jesus,” a somber Younan, who was in Mosul earlier this month and has discussed the situation with the Pope, said Wednesday on Fox & Friends.

Habash, who roundly criticized the Obama administration and the United Nations, specifically, for what he called their “careless absence” in taking action against the militants, said such violent intolerance demanded action from the international community.

“Where is the conscience of the world? Where is the United Nations? Where is the American administration to protect peace and justice?” he asked. “Nobody has said a word.”

Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, is the “first cradle of Christianity in Iraq,” Habash said. But after Islamic militants seized the city on June 10, Arabic letters with a chilling ultimatum were left at the homes of Iraqi Christians.

“The letter said that if you don’t convert or if you don’t pay, there is a sword between you and us, meaning execution,” Habash said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki condemned ISIS’s actions on Sunday, a day after Mosul’s Christian population fled to other areas, such as the nearby self-rule Kurdish region.

“What is being done by the Daesh terrorist gang against our Christian citizens in Ninevah province, and their aggression against the churches and houses of worship in the areas under their control reveals beyond any doubt the extremist criminal and terrorist nature of this group,” al-Maliki said in a statement released by his office. “Those people, through their crimes, are revealing their true identity and the false allegations made here and there about the existence of revolutionaries among their ranks.”

Pope Francis also called for an end to Christian persecution in Mosul, holding a moment of silence Sunday in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican.

“Violence isn’t overcome with violence. Violence is conquered with peace,” the pope told the crowd. “Our brothers and sisters are persecuted, they are chased away.”

The U.N. said on Sunday that at least 400 families from Mosul — including other religious and ethnic minority groups — had sought refuge in the northern provinces of Irbil and Dohuk.

Dr. Sallama Al Khafaji, a member of the Iraq High Commission for Human Rights, reportedly told a local news agency that ISIS militants forced their way into the home of an Assyrian family in Mosul, demanding a “jizya” or poll tax. When the family said they could not produce the money, three jihadist militants raped the mother and daughter in front of the husband and father, who later committed suicide, according to the report.

Mosul is home to some of the most ancient Christian communities, but the number of Christians has dwindled since 2003. On Sunday, militants seized the 1,800-year old Mar Behnam Monastery, about 15 miles south of Mosul. The resident clergymen left to the nearby city of Qaraqoush, according to local residents.

Irbil’s governor, Nawzad Hadi, has pledged to protect fleeing Christians and other minority groups. The territory is currently home to more than 2 million refugees and internally displaced people from Iraq and Syria, according to the United Nations.’s Cristina Corbin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

I am told that there is much evil perpetrated in the name of Islam. Evil deeds that are in fact non-Islamic.

Posted in Christianity, Iraq, Islam | Leave a comment

Human Shields In Iraq: Came and Went

Remember the stories of people from the west going to Iraq in 2003 to act as human shields, in the belief that they wouldn’t be bombed by western forces. Most left, at or prior to the time of the invasion, when they realized how they were going to be used strategically by the Iraqi government.

A bannered overview of one set of group dynamics at the time:

One of the leaders if not the principal leader, Ken O’Keefe:

Same banner, different take:

At least they had the freedom to leave.

Posted in Iraq, War and Remembrance | 1 Comment