I just want to clear up a couple of things about the title of this blog, so I'm putting this in a sticky post on the front page.
I wish I could tell you a fascinating story about how deeply significant the word "Kazim" is to me, but the fact is I made it up as the name of a character in a video game. The character looked somewhat Middle Eastern, so I stuck some syllables together that sounded good. Since the character wound up very powerful, I started re-using the name. So there you go.
It was only later that I found out that "Kazim" is a real Arabic name which means "restrainer of anger". Now I didn't plan that, but I kind of like it. I'm often worked up and filled with righteous indignation when I write, but I think that being angry is usually counter-productive and clouds your judgment. People tell me I am very laid back, and I often play the role of peacemaker among friends and family.
As for the Arabic origin, let me say that I am just about as white as they come. The picture that I used to use for my avatar made me look a bit more exotic than I do in person -- it was me as drawn by my first wife in charcoal. I'm also not usually that sinister.
Muslims today have a perceived reputation of being the violent extremist religious thugs of the world -- not surprising, considering that bit of unpleasantness in 2001. However, to my mind the thing that makes religion dangerous is not the particular kinds of invisible beings you believe in, but how fanatically devoted to the cause you are. There are plenty of moderate, liberal Muslims, and I consider them to be far, far less scary than your average Christian fundamentalist. And let's not forget that for a while, the Islamic world was a major center of culture and enlightenment.
I'm an atheist. I am not speaking in favor of Islam; I personally think that religions are fairy tales. My point is, it's a huge mistake to believe that the country, culture or religion that happens to be on top at the moment is destined to stay on top forever, which is why it's important to continue to use logic and reason, prop up elements of your culture that are good, and try to change things which are not so good. And if you can do all this while restraining your anger, so much the better.
I am Kazim.