Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sarah Palin... Memorable!

Sarah Talking to Nicholas Sarkozi

Just a reminder of the kind of bimbos aspiring to rule the world - not that far off from the bimbos currently ruling the world. To be fair though, Baby-Hariri and Nayla (Moawad or Tueni - you take your pick) could learn a trick or two from her - if of course, motivated by the same succulent treat. Friskies anyone!?!?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Muse - Time is running out

Muse time is running out official music video (HQ)

I think I'm drowning
I wanna break this spell
That you've created

You're something beautiful
A contradiction
I wanna play the game
I want the friction

You will be the death of me
You will be the death of me

Therion - From the Dionysian Days

Golden apples from the grove fall down the tree
And make all the Bacchants gather in Arcady
To dance on the Festival of the Tragedy
And eat the fruits of ecstasy

In the midwood twilight, on his pipe plays the faun
In the green temple, from the dionysian days, watch the dawn.

Goat-foot God rises your Rod, be free, and know the world
Hath need of thee and Arcady
OOGoat-foot God, play your pipe, tonight, wild and free.
Your melody out of Arcady

Conveying affection by way of gluttony...

In no way a phenomenon unique to Lebanese culture but as with everything the Lebanese manage to take it to ridiculous extents. Conveying affection by way of gluttony is a Lebanese trait par excellence. From the minute you enter a Lebanese house you get welcomed - nay showered - with suggestions and proposals targeted not at fulfilling your daily subsistence needs but at forcing you to exceed them a thousandfold. It matters not if you have just had lunch or dinner; you enter a Lebanese house therefore you must be fed.

Chill out lady, I'm not going to die of hunger if I do not stuff myself with your candy, chocolates, and proprietary cakes. Your garden-grown carrots are of no interest to me. No, I do not want to try your chicken soup or the leftovers from yesterday's bazella w riz no matter how succulent you purport it to be. Just leave me the fuck alone. Feeding oneself is an instinctual drive and no one would deny oneself the pleasure of fulfilling that desire WHEN it becomes pressing. The drive to feed oneself is not and will not get activated by your constant nagging and amateurish marketing. So spare me your suggestions and let me be. Yet, it does not register. Force-feeding, lebanese hostesses and hosts seem to think, is a way through which one conveys affection to and acceptance of the guest. But it does not damn it! It just irritates the hell out them.

No one wants to be force-fed; got it?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

It was such a beautiful day...

It was such a beautiful day. I was going through my normal routine. One hundred emails to go through. Ah, a potentially slow and calm day! The view from the office is normally dull and boring but it was not today; today was such a beautiful day. Then he walks in. Time freezes. All senses are aroused by this obscenity. A hideous creature he truly is. What an unbearable smell, what an offensive figure, and that awful voice. They talk about gods, but how could a god go so wrong? The talk about intelligent design, but how could such a design be called intelligent? What god would allow himself to breathe life into such an abomination?

He talks. No, he howls. No, he does not howl; there is no word to describe the sound he emits. What makes it even worse is that he has no understanding of body language. His unconscious receptors of social acceptance are just not functioning. I tried to turn the eyes away. I made a conscious effort not to establish any eye contact. I kept typing away on my keyboard. It mattered not. He kept growling. He kept talking. Blood rushed through my veins. The flight reflex almost took over. Shut the fuck up I wanted to scream. Then salvation arrived by way of a phone call. I was never that pleased to hear the phone ring. I picked up... "finally I have escaped". The sound subsided. The torture was over. But I was wrong. There he was lurking from behind my desk. Eyes wide open. The urge to blurt out so visible on his forehead. I have to escape. I would not endure this voice for another second. I would rather have my nails pulled out or my eyelids cut out than bear this obscene being for another second.

I hung up and paced out of the door not giving him the chance to react or pull the trigger. Finally, I was out. Freedom. Alas, my day was ruined. It was such a beautiful day; but that fucking annoying asshole just had to ruin it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Values, interests, and -isms; some thoughts...

Some years ago, I was having a conversation with my father about the merits of socialism and capitalism. The question for me at the time was: “Errr… Dad, but they both are equally compelling and repulsive; how is one supposed to decide which one is better?”

At the time I did not have much in depth knowledge about either system or its critiques. It was a simple formula: Capitalism is a system that seeks to reward achievement, efficiency, innovation, and distinction with the aim of fostering progress and growth which should ultimately result in more wealth for all – albeit for some more than others. Capitalism’s appeal lies in its drive towards efficiency and its non-discriminative attitude towards individuals except as far as their achievement and output goes. The negative flip is that it creates conditions of severe inequality where capitalists reap most of the wealth by controlling capital and the means of production at the expense of laborers who – although necessary to the system – reap the least benefit out of it. Socialism on the other seeks to achieve a more equitable distribution of wealth by giving the laborers a bigger share of the proceeds from their labor. Socialism aims at a just and fair society where the needs of all men are met. The negative flip is that in order to achieve such equitable distribution of wealth the system fosters mediocrity, curbs individuality, and constraints progress. In addition, the power to decide how resources are allocated and how wealth is distributed eventually ends up in the hands of a bureaucrat whose decisions are at best whimsical.

Back to my initial question: “Errr… Dad, but they both are equally compelling and repulsive, how is one supposed to decide which one is better?” Ah, my innate relativism. Even at that tender age my question was not formulated in absolute terms.

His answer was simple: “There is no standard to compare, nothing to measure against. One makes such a decision based on one’s values. If your value is Man and the collective, you would be tempted to regard socialism – despite its negatives – as more compelling. If on the other hand your value is progress, achievement, and the individual you would decide that capitalism – despite its negatives – is better.”

Having explained that, he went on to complicate matters a bit for the fifteen years old that I was: “But ask yourself another question, does it even matter which one is better? And if you must ask, wouldn’t it be best to ask the question of which one is better for you? Wouldn’t the question make more sense if another variable came into play; your interest? If say, you value progress, achievement, and individuality but know that in a capitalist world you would end up with the short stick; would you still prefer a capitalist order? If say on the other hand you value man and the collective, an equitable distribution of wealth, but know that in a socialist order you would lose your drive to create and seek reward proportionate to your achievements, would you still prefer a socialist order?”

At the time all his questions did was increase my confusion: “can’t the world get any more complicated than that? Why can’t things be clear cut? Good or Evil? Right or Wrong?” I guess everyone longs to absolute certainty at some point in life until they learn to cope with the cognitive dissonance that their conflicting beliefs, values, and interests create.

The conclusion he drew was that: “At the end of the day, if I must choose I would prefer my values and interests to coincide. In case of conflict, the choice is then made on a case by case basis; at times values will triumph but at others interests will take precedence!”

Of course, that conclusion did not help much in resolving my dilemma for I still needed an answer… The only thing that stuck is that when one comes in touch with an –ist touting and professing his -ism, and in order to draw conclusions about why the -ist holds such beliefs, one must ask oneself: “What values does he ascribe to and how do they measure to his professed -ism? What are his interests in being an –ist rather than an –ist?” A lot can be known about someone's drives and motivations once these two questions are answered.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Why do I write?

I am no writer. A reader perhaps, but not a writer. Ideas just don't seem to come to me. No opinion I hold was ever compelling enough for me to write about. I never took the time to pen down anything of worth. Now I find myself blogging, but the question persists, why do I write? And more importantly, why do I write in the manner I write about the things I write about?

I write to offend. I write to challenge. I write to undermine, to deride, and to mock the ideas and beliefs others hold dearest to their hearts. I write to denigrate. I write to vilify. I write to smear, to ridicule, and to scoff the a-priori convictions, the undisputed conventions, the unquestioned ideals and absolute truths of men. I write to ignite a spark of doubt, to sow a seed of hesitation, and to force upon others the most compelling question: "Why is it so?".

But then I also write to learn. I write to develop. I write to test and assess the worth of ideas and the beauty of the form through which they are conveyed. I write to appreciate. I write to admire. I write to marvel at man's ability to construct meaning through words, to convey insinuations through structure, to communicate beauty through form.

What am I blabbering about?

I just write for the sake of writing...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Absolute and universal truths....

I have always been weary of absolute truths and their proponents. How much arrogance, pretentiousness, and self-righteousness must one exhibit to be able to proclaim whatever myths and/or illusions he believes in to be absolute, universal, and eternal. This applies to moralists of all sorts; religious or otherwise. One needs only look at the dreadful consequences that befell on humanity whenever a person rose up and declared himself holder of an absolute truth. The Witch-doctors - Prophets, Saints, Moralists, and Philosophers - laid out their absolute truths then the Atillas - Emperors, Dictators, Kings, Presidents, Sultans - set out to universalize them. "All truth is soaked in blood" declared Nietzsche, and boy was he right.

I have taken issue with a post about women rights on Cafe Thawra entitled "Reclaiming our bodies" not because of its content - more on that later - but mainly because of the claim to universality that the author makes. To be fair, the post deals with a real and pertinent issue which is the rights of women in the Arab World and the stigmas associated with female sexuality. The post contains many unwarranted generalizations and unfounded assumptions; but those are not its major shortcoming. It is rather the inherent idea that the rights of women as the author perceives them - derived from the Western interpretation of Women Rights - are of a universal character applicable to every society at any time. This claim is reminiscent of the White Man's burden upon which the colonial endeavor was built, sustained, and justified. No. Rights are not universal. Rights are a corollary of the values held by a society at a certain time in a certain space. They are neither absolute nor static. They change as new values triumph over held values thus triggering a change in the prevailing conception of rights. This process is neither linear nor regressive nor evolutionary but random. People tend to look at a snapshot of reality as it is now taking it completely out of context and casting their value judgments based on the truths they hold at the time of observation which is fine as long as their judgments are kept in the context of judgment. Take the veiling of women in the Arab World. It is a relatively new progression that came about with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. Is it a regression? If looked at from the point of view of women rights in the 20th century, it is. Obviously, from a religious Islamic perspective it is an evolution from the degenerate values that existed in the 40s and 50s. But what is it then in an absolute sense? Is the veil a symbol of triumph against degenerate morals or a symbol of oppression of women? There is no answer to the question as there is no absolute standard of morality against which judgment can be cast. All that can be claimed is a personal judgment based on individual moral values of no absolute character.

I will end with another gem of Nietzsche's: "There are no facts, only interpretations" and "whichever interpretation prevails at a certain time is a function of power, not truth".

Just what we needed... Another stupid celebration...

Catholic Culture : Latest Headlines : Lebanon to declare ...: "Lebanon will soon declare a national holiday for the feast of the Annunciation, to underline the reverence that Christians and Muslims feel for the Mother of God, the AsiaNews service reports. The Lebanese Council of Ministers has ..."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tonight we drink!!!

Stressful week. Extremely stressful week. To do list is still full. Nothing is fully accomplished. No projects put under wraps. No clear ends in sight. Too many battles on one too many an open front. Limited support with limited resources. The stakes are high. Time is too scarce. I am breaking down.

But it matters not for tonight we drink!!!

The glasses will clink. The divine elixirs will flow. Uninhibited behavior. Drowsed senses. Total ecstacy.

Tonight we drink!!!

Being on the outside...

Abu Kais, AKA writer of the "From Beirut to the Beltway" blog had a very interesting post yesterday titled "Being in Lebanon". It is a blog I stumbled upon during the bumpy days of 2005 or the Israeli assault of 2006 - or perhaps later, I don't really remember - but kept following disparately over the years. Let me start by a disclaimer. I, in no way, shape, or form endorse the political dispositions of Abu Kais but rather fall on the other end of the spectrum; or more precisely, outside of the spectrum altogether. Having said that, I do enjoy reading him and I might share with him some of the cynicism he harbors towards that state called "Lebanon" and the characters steering it; although not from the same perspective. In any case, what I want to highlight is the conclusion he draws in his post namely that:

The best antidote to obscurantism is a life lived abundantly. The Iranian revolution, we thought, had killed that spirit, but how wrong we were. Some things never die, and Lebanese have this resilient will to live that will carry them to the shore eventually. Some will drown, naturally, because that boat is not the safest, and because people like me jumped ship and are trying not to look back. But who am I to tell people how to swim when I have chosen life outside the shark-infested pool?

Indeed. This is what those who left in the 70s, 80s and probably early 90s just seem not to get. What gives you the right to attempt influencing events and outcomes when those events and outcomes will have no direct bearing on your lives? Or when the burden of your follies, mistakes, or failures - no matter how well intentioned - will fall upon others' shoulders? Those on the outside lose the sense of connectedness with events. They do keep a close watch on developments but interpret them through the prism of the ideals mushed out of fond memories of a distant past and wishful thinking of a hopeful future. Abu Kais is a staunch critic of Feb 14 for their shortcomings and for being too accommodating of Hezbollah and Aoun. He does not question their professed ideals - or perhaps he does I'm not sure - but is resentful of their failure to achieve them and live up to his expectations; expectations that he most probably assumes - used to assume?!? - are shared by the majority of his compatriots. But are they really? He appears to be resentful of Feb 14's weakness in failing to capitalize on the massive support they garnered from the public and the International Community - read the US - to deal a cold blow to Hezbollah and their weapons. From where he stands, this might make perfect sense. However, and without discussing the merits of his ideals, assumptions, premises, or desired outcomes, I would like to look back and ponder at the potential outcomes and their effects on those residing in Lebanon. What could have been had Feb 14 been more forceful and less accomodating of HA? Looking at 2005, 2006, and 2007 retrsopectively with the advantage of hindsight, what were the possible outcomes of a more belligerent position? And most importantly, what could have been the effects of those outcomes on those who will be living them rather than those calling for them from afar?

Obviously, as with any such attempt, there is an innumerable amount of potential outcomes that could have been with various consequences. For the sake of time, and my inherent laziness, I will solely limit myself to the most obvious: an all out civil war between the opposing factions. This was a possibility - and still is - in a divided society with such a deep sectarian schism located in a polarized and turbulant region such as the Middle East. Even if the end of such an eventuality is known to be a full victory - an improbable assumption as no full victory is ever possible in these situations bar from a full out genocide - by either of the sides, would the Lebanese be willing to go through it at all? Most importantly, would the same answer be given by the same person regardless of whether he is on the inside or on the outside? I'm not entirely sure, but I would tend to think not especially when the answer is an affirmative. Obviously, opinions differ, and it is hard to generalize. However, I do think that being on the outside, being emotionally detached and personally out of harm's way, makes it much easier to answer in the affirmative than being on the inside and having to contemplate the immediate consequences on one's life.

This is why I agree with AK's conclusion. When you're out of the shark's pond you lose your right to and privilege of teaching fish how to swim. The purpose of life is not to be a fish in a shark's pond, not even to be a shark among the sharks in a shark's pond, but to pull oneself outside of the pond, sit back, relax, and enjoy the carnage.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mobile blogging.

Tried posting directly on the blogger page using my mobile phone. For some odd reason the browser did not recognize the post zone as an input area. This is quite ironic especially since I'm using a google phone with a google browser on a google platform yet failing to gain access to a google service.  I guess google ain't quite as perfect as I had thought.

Nevermind; I moved to plan B. If google can't do it maybe someone else can. Enter "Blogaway"; a free app I just downloaded from the market. The sole purpose of this long and painful post is to test it out. I do hope it works if only for my sanity's sake especially after having written a purposeless long ramble instead of settling for the far simpler "test test" message...

let's see what happens next...

Update 1: the app did not work as expected. It failed to post and gave out an error message instead. However, it managed to save a draft on the blogger page.

Update 2: My browser recognized the post area as a text input area only after I clicked the "edit HTML" tab on top of the post. That's my free tip of the day...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Talking about annoying celebrations...

Beirut grinds to a standstill in honour of Hariri's memory...

How cute. A gathering of morons waving flags and brandishing hollow slogans celebrating the martyrdom of an ex-Syrian minion posthumously re-branded national hero . Where the fuck is my puking bag?!

I am however happy to report that Baby Hariri has made great strides when it comes to perfecting his oratory skills. He has now become slightly more interesting than toilet paper; though still far less useful. And his impeccable enunciation rivals that of a mute goat. Beeeeeeeee

Happy Valentine's day...

... Or rather not!!

I can't think of a more annoying, boring, and futile celebration. Come to think of it, all human celebrations are annoying, boring and futile; some just a tad bit more than others. Particularly irksome are those occasions where the birth/death of witchdoctors or tyrants are celebrated - their miracles, their wars, their defeats, their resurrections, and/or their follies.

If it were up to me, I would ban all celebrations but the celebration of human genius and achievement. I would celebrate the day Albert penned down his first paper on special relativity. The first night Thomas managed to get a current through a metal filament to produce light. The day Beethoven composed his last symphony and Michaelangelo completed his last masterpiece. The day the Lazer was invented, the day Penicillin was discovered, the day Dolly was born, or the day Laika was catapulted into orbit. I would celebrate every day man's ability to overcome nature, his environment, and his incessant striving to create beauty.

But no, let's just celebrate love and the day the Lebanese made the biggest Hummos dish!

This blog...

This blog is about nothing in particular. It is only an attempt at documenting my thoughts, observations, whines, and random rants.