Thursday, 26 April 2007

Should Harry go to Iraq?

Here's a summary of some politician's response I just heard on the BBC:

"No... Because we're fighting terrorists... and... his first duty is not to die serving his country... his first duty is to live."

And whilst we're on the topic, I read an amusing comment piece in the Independent a few days ago begging the question: Whilst serving in the army, how does William get so much time to go skiing and attend horse races?

Monday, 16 April 2007

Book Review: The Secret History of al-Qa'ida, by Abdel Bari Atwan

Title: The Secret History of al-Qa'ida
Author: Abdel Bari Atwan
Publication date: February 2006

A well-researched (including a 1996 visit to bin Laden in the mountains of Afghanistan) and well-written (seemingly free from bias) book. Why should you read it? In the words of the author:

"There was a historical inevitability about the rise of bin Laden, who has become for many the figurehead of a resurgent Muslim identity. For many people in the West this is unthinkable, as there he is presented and perceived as an evil terrorist. Yet it is important to understand how he is viewed by his admirers in the Islamic world. How can the very real threat that al-Qa'da's ideology represents to global security be countered if its identity and nature remains shrouded in obscurtiy?"

I read the 2006 version, which seems to cover events right up to (but just before) the death of al-Zarqawi in Iraq. Since then, al-Qa'ida (and the Taliban) seem to have (unpredictably) increased in attacks, strength and resolve. It would be interesting to read how the author comments on this in his 2007 version.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Tips for better note-taking

Do you have any good tips/techniques (or recommended resources) for taking better notes, especially when in a live lecture or class, so that you can better absorb the material?

Not really sure. Different things work for different people. The key is to filter the unnecessary from the necessary (i.e. that which is directly relevant to the talk/lecture at hand from that which is not).

Then, to type up and restructure your notes when you get home according to the way you understand things. This is important. In doing so you are solidifying the lesson in your long-term memory.

And Allah knows best.