The Happy Arab News Service

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The True Meaning of Avatar

Last updated: January 28, 2010

January 18, 2010

Ha Ha Ha

:D :D :D


Somebody should come and scratch me off the floor. I can't laugh so much

:D :D :D

The Freedomain Radio movie review

January 26, 2010

Just when you thought that Freedomain's got it as crazy as it could possibly be, here is a conservative's version...

Forget its left-wing themes. At its core, the movie is about defending property rights -- something conservatives should embrace.

Conservatives have been very critical of the Golden Globe-winning film "Avatar" for its mystical melange of trite leftist themes. But what they have missed is that the essential conflict in the story is a battle over property rights.

. . .

Conservatives see this as anti-American, anti-military and anti-corporate or anti-capitalist. But they're just reacting to the leftist ethos of the film.

They fail to see what's really happening. People have traveled to Pandora to take something that belongs to the Na'vi: their land and the minerals under it. That's a stark violation of property rights, the foundation of the free market and indeed of civilization.

. . .

"Avatar" has its problems, from stilted dialogue to its embrace of the long-discredited myth of the "noble savage" in tune with nature. But conservatives should appreciate a rare defense of property rights coming out of Hollywood.

Source: The right has 'Avatar' wrong
By David Boaz
January 26, 2010
Los Angeles Times

This guy deserves an Oscar of his own.

January 28, 2010

Avatar Blues

Time to throw in my two cents on Avatar. To put it simply, the 3D is amazing, the plot is absurd. I would say the plot is ranging from absurd to .... hmmm .... to embarrassing. In fact, this whole Avatar thing is absurd. Now to the details.

For starters, it was said that Avatar is going to be a watershed moment, movies of the future will never be the same. I would say that Avatar will be remembered as a moment when the 3D technology killed the plot. There is hardly one single episode in the whole movie that was not another Hollywood cliche. In fact, from helicopters to dragons we've seen it all before. As to the ideology behind the movie, it's ridiculous and the way the block buster is paddling forth this ideology is even more ridiculous. It's the 3D that's the raizon detre of Avatar.

Basically the core of Avatar is a strong environmentalist message. Yet, it's impossible to ignore the most basic and the most absurd fact about this movie, which is that Hollywood has just finished wasting close to $300 million on this box-office smashing rant against capitalism and the most impressive scenery in this anti technological "back to jungle" epic is entirely computer generated.

This obsessive compulsive dependence on technology has its fingerprints all over Avatar. For example, Pandora's biology itself is designed as a kind of bio-hitech. All animals living on Pandora are equipped with a biological equivalent of USB port into which Na'vis are plugging a sort of French braid they are growing on their heads. In the new age slang this is called to become one with something, but for all practical purposes the Na'vis control their animals in a manner rather similar to what we do with our USB based printers and other peripheral devices.

In addition to one-to-one USB connections, all living creatures on Pandora are also globally interconnected through a peculiar peer-to-peer network based on some kind of broadband Internet created by roots of huge trees. In this network the trees themselves play the role of data repository centers basically identical to our Emule servers. Again, the Na'vis are using their French braids to plug into the tree-servers and, once logged in, they can upload, download and swap with each other and other creatures their memories, feelings and other data. It goes without saying that the closest analogy we have on our planet to the Na'vi goddess of nature, Eywa, is the earthly profession of sysadmin.

One thing that I would like to address here are claims by some people, clearly made to embarrass us, Israelis, that the Palestinians are the Na-vis of the Middle East oppressed by our hi-tech neo-colonialist mini-empire. These claims are very wrong. Based on my experience with Bedouins, who are the closest approximation the local Arabs have to the alien noble savages of Cameron, I can confirm that these guys have zero appreciation for animal lives and nature and an elevated capacity for cutting through living flesh. I can easily imagine one of these guys, in case he needs a leg of a goat or something, tearing the leg off and going away without even caring to finish off the hysterical animal.

If you really want to see the Na`vis of the Middle East, you should visit one of Tel Aviv's Sushi bars or vegetarian restaurants. There you will find throngs of Na`vis vigorously sharing with each other their wholistic connection to the nature and passionately worshiping their rat sized dogs. They are the Na`vis of the Middle East, and not the Palestinians. In the local slang these people are even called "koksinelim", which is Hebrew for Na'vi.

There is also an anti war message clearly directed at the war on terror and Iraq. However, unless you are an infant (or a retard), you are very likely to fail to appreciate the message and the way it's delivered. In a weird and absurd (again) manner the movie itself does make one think about the invasion of Iraq, but mostly by Avatar's astonishing combination of an awesome technology and a plot which is all cliche and absurd. Paul Brenner, who presided over the occupation of Iraq at the beginning, is known to have had books on the post WWII occupations of Germany/Japan on his desk. Brenner's decision making was very much about senseless recycling of ideas from these books. Consider for example his de-Baathification campaign or the decision to disband the Iraqi army, but the Shock and Awe was awesome. In the same way Avatar can be defined as binge recycling of all possible Hollywood cliches, but the quality of its 3D rocks.

The 3D is indeed stunning and it's the only reason you may want to see this movie (should be done only on a big screen and with 3D glasses). Basically, the only virtue of this movie lies in its being a kind of bizarre nature documentary. If you are hooked on National Geographic, you may like it but you should bear in mind again that nothing in Avatar is very original and so you will have little problem in associating alien creatures in the movie with deers, panthers and lemurs of our planet.

To put it short, if you like visual effects and don't mind permanent organic damage this movie can inflict on your brain and thinking ability, you may want to see Avatar.


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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Our Basic Human Pleasures

Food, Sex and Giving

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Friday, January 15, 2010

The New Year question (and the answer)

Last updated: January 15, 2010

January 10, 2010

Edward Hugh: In your NYT article “How Did Economists Get It All So Wrong”, you state what I imagine for many is the obvious, that few economists saw our current crisis coming. The Spanish economist Luis Garicano even made himself famous for a day because he was asked by the Queen of England the very question I would now like to put to you: could you briefly explain to a Spanish public why you think this was?

Paul Krugman: I think that what happened was a combination of two things. First, the academic side of economics fell too much in love with beautiful mathematical models, which created a bias toward assuming perfect markets. (Perfect markets lead to nice math; imperfect markets are a lot messier). Second, the same forces that lead to financial bubbles – prolonged good news tends to silence the skeptics – also applied to economists. Those who rationalized the way things were going gained credibility until the day things fell apart.

Source: Ten New Year Questions For Paul Krugman

I would say that the first thing is actually very characteristic of too much of what passes for social sciences these days, see the comments section of this post where I make a very similar point about demography. As to the second one, I would expand it all the way to the global scale and for a start I would point out that the anti cyclical policies are very much responsible for the current crisis, maybe even more than the lack of regulation and failure of the fed to tighten monetary policy. It does look that prolonged periods of uninterrupted economic growth breed carelessness and encourage risky behavior on the part of institutions and people. In this sense the Wall Street was only part of the problem as it's impossible to say that the fed itself, the regulators and ordinary Americans were conducting themselves any better.

Downturns play a vital role in the economic life of nations as they deflate bubbles and bring people back to their senses and smoothing the cycles out may be laying ground for major disruptions in the future. Economic models may fail to account for such a possibility, but from the purely psychological point of view, it's as clear as daylight. Had the dot com crisis been allowed to play itself out, the resultant crisis may well have cooled down the economy and nipped the residential estate bubble in the bud. Instead the markets have been allowed to escape the consequences of the dot com bubble with relative impunity and so they proceeded to inflate one of the biggest bubbles in the post WWII history.

But even larger implications of this rule are relevant for the whole post WWII history. An unparalleled period of impressive economic growth and stability has convinced the Western society that these can be taken for granted now and was followed by no less impressive explosion of utopian lunacies and ideologies that are so out of touch with the reality that it's astonishing. It's here that the bubble of all bubbles has been steadily building itself up. Across the West the nations continued to ignore gradually mounting problems while Europe was busy packing its cities with unintegratable immigrations that eventually spawned massive no-go areas and ghettos that sometimes look like mini-copies of Saudi Arabia herself.

So what the new year and the next years are going to be about? I would bet on a lost decade the Japan style with some nations slipping again back into recession and others struggling to generate sufficient economic growth. The slog accompanied by accumulation of massive deficits and debts across large chunks of the West will be followed almost without a break by another lost decade brought upon by severe demographic crisis in Southern Europe, East Europe and Japan. Throw in a looming trade war between China and the US, never mind some people insisting that China's impressive economic recovery is just another bubble waiting to explode, and we may be up for big troubles.

In many ways Japan should be a good example of what is waiting for the West, if it does not regain sanity. One of the most indebted nations in the West, Japan's whole system, from top to bottom, from the government to the banks and insurance sector, is ridden with trillions worth liabilities, non performing loans, underreported debts and all sorts of pretty toxic stuff. The country's workforce has been shrinking for more than a decade now increasing the total debt per capita ratio, or better per working capita ratio, and the last stimulus package unveiled by the new government is promising to escalate the already weird situation to new heights. When you look at the graph below, you know that this nation has turned the corner, and as the country's indebtedness keeps growing and its population keeps shrinking at an accelerating rate (and aging even faster), the happy end looks increasingly unlikely.

Over the last decades the West, followed by the rest of the world, has accumulated an absolutely incredible ideological ballast starting from this weird PC culture all the way through to even more radical and toxic movements and schools of thought. Not that it was much better on the other side of the political divide where the concept of free markets has been increasingly transformed into one of free lunches crowned by the messianic lunacy of the previous administration that was trying to spread its democracy message by sword to the most unlikely corners of the world.

However, while a couple of lost decades seem inevitable now, it's never too late to adopt a pragmatic and reasonable approach, to let the technocrats come up with plausible solutions, in short, to start making sense. It's really about time for the West to start ridding itself of its intellectual toxic assets. It's about time to understand that no things can be taken for granted and past successes are no guarantees for the future. And for the future to have a chance for something better, the ideology should be put to death.

January 15, 2010

The law of good news and the Middle East

Another example of how prolonged "good" news are breeding expectations of more good news in the future. Over the last decades the world witnessed Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East and elsewhere surging relentlessly until it eventually unleashed not a wave, but a tsunami of suicide attacks (remarkably recently most of them were directed against Muslims). The common man law of good news postulates that if something is experiencing a prolonged positive trend, it can only grow more in the future. The law of bubbles, however, reasons that the fundamentalist surge is already over precisely for the same reason. Is the cycle really about to reverse itself?

It's not clear whether the Green Revolution in Iran signals the death of the political Islam. The enthusiasm for movements such as Muslim Brothers is still there and may survive the concept of modern Sharia state by a good few years. But behind the scene there is a whole host of indications that the fundamentalist surge is running out of steam. What some very aptly call anti-culture of the West has been repackaged by Haifa Wehbe and her doubles and smuggled into the Arab and Muslim world with all the regular paraphernalia of belly dancing and incessant "ya habibi" evocations. As this storm of silicon enhanced plastic surgery and belly dancing is sweeping regional TV channels, the Arab birth rates crashed and, if just Haifa Wehbe's cleavage can produce such demographic devastation, one can only be wondering as to what will happen when some real stuff starts happening in the Middle East.

The demographers were recently having all their models and graphs massively sabotaged in the Middle East with the Arab/Persian collapsing fertility showing no or very limited correlation with urbanization, education levels and prosperity. But as this hapless science is trying to pick up pieces of what was left of once formidable theories, it's obvious that a massive cultural shift is unfolding and transforming the Middle East, defying on its way GDP per capita, infant mortality and other stuff with which demographers and others are usually feeding their models.

The key to the recent developments seems to be a certain uncanny ability of the TV with its reality shows and soap operas to spread and hook people on certain lifestyles and attitudes without the audience being able economically to experience them. It's a kind of the tail wigging the dog scenario, in which the lifestyle is preceding the level of socio economic development normally associated with it. It's the inability of social sciences to properly measure and quantify such stuff as contents and impact of entertainment programs that's behind their failure to detect such tectonic shifts on time and even recognize them postfactum (they do however can measure such trends as the spread of satellite TV. IMHO should be one of the most predictive indicators).

Anyway, sexualization of the Arab mass culture, its growing consumerist and individualist orientation are obvious and however impressive the fundamentalist blah blah blah may look from outside, from inside the fundamentalist bubble may be already hollow enough to collapse on itself. This is at least what the law of bubbles says: they had it too good and way too long.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Father of Washington Institute Iran Expert Arrested in Qom

Mehdi Khalaji is one of my colleagues at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. His father, a cleric in the Iranian holy city of Qom, has just been arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence. Khalaji’s father is a supporter of reform, but we believe the arrest is also an attempt to intimidate Mehdi, who is an outspoken critic of the regime. Mehdi has asked friends to publicize the case.

Source: Martin Kramer

Father of Washington Institute Iran Expert Arrested in Qom

On Tuesday, January 12, 2010, four agents of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence (MOI) arrested Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Khalaji, father of Washington Institute Iran scholar Mehdi Khalaji, at the former's home in Qom, Iran.

During a violent house search, MOI agents confiscated the Khalaji family's passports -- including that of Mehdi Khalaji's teenage daughter, who lives in Tehran -- and banned all family members from leaving Iran. Government agents also confiscated personal files, books, letters, a computer, and a satellite receiver.

. . .

Source: The Washington Institute

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ray Hanania sent a message to the members of Ray Hanania for President of Palestine.

Subject: I need your help ...

I don't expect anyone to do anything as you have all done a lot just supporting this group ... but, if you could do three things, it would help

1 -- circulate my column in today's Jerusalem Post

2 -- engage in discussion on the Post and talk about the moderate voice we all need

and 3) ... I need you to support both Yalla Peace and also my satire response page which challenges the extremist attacks against me for advocating peace by the horde of authors at KABOfest

thank you again for supporting me ... it's not easy for any of us. The issues are complex and one word incites other words of anger and hatred. We need to redefine the conflict as between extremists versus moderates, rather than Israelis and Palestinians


Not that I am a member of the Ray Hanania for President of Palestine. However, why not...

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The resistance discovers its Marilyn Monroe...


No need to comment on that blog. Just silently enjoy...

:D :D

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Quote of the Year

Last updated: January 7, 2010

July 30, 2009

There are many other instances where Prophet said something and in today's world it turns out to be scientifically correct. For example Quran says that Allah (swt) turned some Jews into monkeys and pigs. Some companion asked the Prophet that the monkeys and pigs that we see today, are they the descendants of those Jews-turned-pigs-and-monkeys? The Prophet pbuh said no and also explained that monkeys and pigs were present way before those Jews were turned into pigs and monkeys as a punishment. This turns out to be scientifically and historically correct.

Source: Prophet of Islam: A Camel Urine Drinker?

:D :D


:D :D

November 11, 2009

"It is not possible for those who belong to the Muslim faith to carry out genocide," Erdogan [Turkish prime minister] told ruling party members.

Source: Haaretz

I am wondering if in Yerevan they have heard about the latest Erdogan's pearl...

:D :D

January 7, 2010
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran and Syria share a noble mission of creating a new world order...

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Iran and Syria should help create new world order by increasing cooperation.

. . .

"Iran and Syria have a joint mission to set up new world order on the basis of belief in God, justice and humanity," said the Iranian president.

He added that "the future of the world depends on the developments in the Middle East."

Source: PressTV

On my part I can add to this that the future of the Middle East in its turn depends on the developments in the shale gas and alternative energies. You can call it a vicious circle

:D :D


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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Lets have a nice little global trade war

Paul Krugman about China's currency peg:

The bottom line is that Chinese mercantilism is a growing problem, and the victims of that mercantilism have little to lose from a trade confrontation.

Source: The New York Times

I concur, lots of fun and little to lose, let alone that this time we can do something really exciting for a change.

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