Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Slavoj Žižek on Iranian Nuclear Program

In These Times has published an article named Give Iranian Nukes a Chance written by Slavoj Žižek about Iranian nuclear program . Žižek's criticism on American hypocritical foreign policy makes sense to me:
Why are Timothy Garton Ash, Michael Ignatieff and other internationalist liberals-who are otherwise full of pathetic praise for the Hague tribunal-silent about the idea to deliver Noriega and Saddam to the Hague? Why Milosevic and not Noriega? Why was there not even a public trial against Noriega? Was it because he would have disclosed his own CIA past, including how the United States condoned his participation in the murder of Omar Torrijos Herrera? In a similar way, Saddam's regime was an abominable authoritarian state, guilty of many crimes, mostly toward its own people. However, one should note the strange but key fact that, when the U.S. representatives were enumerating Saddam's evil deeds, they systematically omitted what was undoubtedly his greatest crime (in terms of human suffering and of violating international law): the aggression against Iran. Why? Because the United States and the majority of foreign states actively helped Iraq in this aggression.

But I can in no way accept his conclusion:
It is here that one approaches the crux of the matter: Such an optimistic reading relies on the problematic belief in a preestablished harmony between the global spread of multi-party Western democracy and the economic and geopolitical interests of the United States. It is precisely because this harmony can in no way be taken for granted that countries like Iran should possess nuclear arms to constrain the global hegemony of the United States.

What a lame argument... what a shame for an intellectual to make such a comment.
* I found the link to Žižek's article in Payam Yazdanjoo's blog at Francula. If you can read Persian you might want to take a look at Payam's criticism to Žižek's scary defence of the Iranian Nuclear Program here.
* Photograph by Denis Sarkić

Monday, August 22, 2005

Chimpanzee Culture

BBC Science News reports:
Chimpanzee culture 'confirmed'
By Helen Briggs

Primate experts say they have proven that chimpanzees, like humans, show social conformity.
By training captive chimps to use tools in different ways, they have shown experimentally that primates develop cultural traditions through imitation.
This has long been suspected from observations in the wild, but has not been shown directly.
It suggests that culture has ancient origins, scientists write in Nature.

The study was carried out by a team at the University of St Andrews in the UK and the National Primate Research Center of Emory University in Atlanta, US.
They presented two different groups of chimps with a problem relevant to their wild cousins: how to retrieve an item of food stuck behind a blockage in a system of tubes.
One chimpanzee from each group was secretly taught a novel way to solve the problem. Ericka was taught how to use a stick to lift the blockage up so that the food fell out.

Another female chimp, Georgia, was shown how to poke at the blockage so that the ball of food rolled out of the back of the pipes.
Each chimp was then reunited with its group, and the scientists watched how they behaved.
They found that the chimps gathered around Ericka or Georgia and soon copied their behaviour. By the end of two months, the two different groups were still using their own way of getting at the food and two distinct cultural traditions had been established...

Billions of years from now the great-great-grand children of these poor chimpanzees will kill each other over the right ways to do the Poking rituals and use the Sacred Stick. Many chimpanzee philosophers will contemplate the hidden meanings behind the holy stick and create systems of thought based on these metaphors. Moral systems will be created to describe if it is appropriate for two chimpanzees to hold the stick in their right hand at the same time, if the poking should be done by the males or females, and if peeing is ok when one holds the stick in one's hand.

Through the centuries chimpanzee poets will write thousands of beautiful poems about the mysteries of poking, and great chimpanzee composers will bring tears to the listeners' eyes by making moving musical pieces containing the real spirit of the stick. Pieces that can unite the followers with the source.

Many important things might happen in the future history of the chimpanzees. They might even show us the real meaning of the world. A meaning that reveals itself through the stick, but a meaning that we never completely comprehend.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Patron Saint of Oil

I didn't want to have another post on the same subject, but I couldn't resist showing you "Patron Saint of Oil" by Ingy. I took it from this post at LA Voice.
For seeing a bigger picture click here.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Mullah Mohammad Omar of the United States

See what Mullah Mohammad Omar of the US has to say about evolution.

I immigrated from Iran to get rid of this type of idiots in power. But it seems they take the power one country after another. Where should I escape to? Mars?
- For the best April fool's day article ever click here:
Scientific American apologizes for not being balanced.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Por-rooyi, Ta'aarof, Gheyrat, and Aaberoo

The Mocking Bird has a post about a funny piece published in In a comment to her post I asked her if there is any word in English for Por-rooyi. She couldn't find any, like many others I have asked.

I wonder if having the word indicates that something annoying exists in the culture that needs to be described. Something that probably a Norwegian or French or American does not experience that often. Maybe it is for the same reason we have the word ta'aarof in our language. There is no exact word in English to describe ta'aarof. The same is true about gheyrat and aaberoo. Unlike por-rooyi these words are not invented to describe something annoying (even though they are annoying to me!) but they still represent ideas that do not exist in many other cultures, at least in the same way we have them in the Iranian culture.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

"Elevator to the Gallows" In LA

Ascenseur pour l'échafaud

If you live in Los Angeles, enjoy watching old Louis Malle's movies, and love to hear one of the most beautiful Miles Davis' works, don't miss the screening of Elevator to the Gallows (Ascenseur pour l'échafaud) at the Lammle theater in Santa Monica boulvard. It's about two blocks west of 405.

Maybe I shouldn't be so confident in suggesting a movie I have seen years ago. Maybe seeing it again would be very different from seeing it years ago, the same way watching Wings of Desire was different. But I want to try it anyway. Even if I don't enjoy it this time, watching it tells me something about myself and shows me how my taste in music and movies is changed.
Hear a sample piece of Miles Davis' improvisation on the movie here.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Ganji Nears Death


I am certain that this night of darkness will not last long. The moon of freedom will finally step out from behind the clouds of religious tyranny, and will shine rays of joy upon us all.
from Akbar Ganji's letter written on July 22, 2005, his 43rd day of hunger strike in Evin Prison.

I admire Akbar Ganji, despite things I don't like in his letters from the prison. His self-sacrificing revolutionary tone of voice is outdated, and his presentation of himself as a martyred hero (a hero who supposedly "wakes up the masses later in the future") is something I don't like, and his constant quoting from Carl Popper reminds me of religious people quoting from the Bible or Qur'an. But I still admire Ganji. His courage to speak out his mind and his dedication to non-violent ways of opposing the system is beyond anyone else in the Iranian politics.

I don't think he was right in his decision on beginning the hunger strike. I don't think any idea is worthy enough to die for. Ganji is a great journalist and a lively activist. I don't know how he justifies his own death. Even for fighting for democracy and human rights he should to be alive. His death is the best the Iranian regime can wish for. It cannot change anything, except the names of a few schools and streets in a far future, and probably a few pages in the history books—lamenting over his unjust "martyrdom."
* * *
Ganji nears death. What can we do?

Visit here and here for more on Ganji. In case you want to sign the online petitions for his freedom click here and here.
Cartoon by Davoud Shahidi.