V for Vendetta

This is a good movie about a fascist Britain and a terroristic hero. Despite its one-sidedness in favor of the main character V, I liked it very much.

V for Vendetta is a movie about a fascist Britain and a sympathetic terrorist in a Guy Fawkes mask who wants to bring it down.

The movie is good. I even liked some of the long monologues. The ambiguous smile on the mask works really well. However, it would have been a better movie if it wasn’t so black and white with all sympathies for V. Also, the ending, which was extremely one-sided also, could be better.

Despite its faults I liked the movie and rate it 9/10.

بش کے دیس میں خدا

امریکہ مذہبی ملک ہے۔ یہاں ایتھیئسٹ کو اچھا نہیں سمجھا جاتا۔ خدا پر یقین کو اچھے انسان ہونے کے لئے لازمی قرار دیا جاتا ہے۔ ذاتی اور عوامی دائرہ‌کار میں ایتھیئسٹ کے بارے میں ایک عام امریکی کیا خیالات رکھتا ہے اس بارے میں کچھ سروے کے نتائج حاضر ہیں۔

بدتمیز نے اپنے بلاگ پر ایک سلسلہ شروع کیا تھا بش کے دیس میں جس میں وہ امریکہ کے بارے میں لکھتا ہے۔ پھر حال ہی میں بدتمیز نے پوچھا کہ خدا کیا ہے؟ ۔ اس سے مجھے اس پوسٹ کا خیال آیا۔

جیسا کہ میں پہلے لکھ چکا ہوں کہ مجھے امریکہ آنے سے پہلے اندازہ نہیں تھا کہ امریکی اتنے مذہبی ہوں گے۔ مگر یہاں آ کر احساس ہوا کہ یہاں atheist کافی کم ہیں اور عام لوگ انہیں اچھا بھی نہیں سمجھتے۔ صرف یہی نہیں بلکہ اردو وکی‌پیڈیا کے افراز کی طرح بہت سے امریکی agnostic اور atheist میں فرق نہیں سمجھتے۔ ایسا نہیں ہے کہ atheists کے خلاف active hostility ہو مگر مذہبی لوگوں کا خیال ہے کہ خدا کو مانے بغیر انسان ایک اچھا انسان ہو ہی نہیں سکتا۔ شاید اسی قسم کی کوئی رائے پہلے صدر بش نے بھی دی تھی۔

پچھلے سال یونیورسٹی آف منیسوٹا نے ایک سٹڈی شائع کی جس کے مطابق ایتھیئسٹ امریکہ کی سب سے کم قابلِ بھروسہ اقلیت ہیں۔ اس سٹڈی کی تفصیلات کے مطابق امریکی نہ ایتھیئسٹ کو ووٹ دینا چاہتے ہیں، نہ اپنے بچے کی اس سے شادی کرنا چاہتے ہیں اور نہ یہ سمجھتے ہیں کہ ایتھیئسٹ اور ان کا امریکہ کے لئے ایک ہی وژن ہے۔ مزے کی بات یہ ہے کہ ان ساری باتوں میں ایتھیئسٹ مسلمانوں سے بھی بدتر سمجھے جاتے ہیں۔

گیلپ کے ایک سروے کے مطابق 2008 کے صدارتی انتخابات میں زیادہ‌تر لوگ کیتھولک، افریقی امریکی، یہودی، عورت،ہسپانک یا مورمن کو ووٹ دینے کو تیار ہیں مگر ایک ایتھیئسٹ کو صرف 45 ووٹ دینے کے بارے میں غور کریں گے۔ یہ ایک ہم‌جنس‌پرست سے بھی بری پرفارمنس ہے جسے 55 فیصد لوگ ووٹ دے سکتے ہیں۔ 1958 میں جب ایٹھیئسٹ صدارتی امیدوار کے بارے میں سروے کیا گیا تو صرف 18 فیصد اسے ووٹ دینے پر تیار تھے۔ یہ تناسب 1978 میں بڑھ کر 40 فیصد ہو گیا مگر اس کے بعد سے زیادہ نہیں بڑھا۔

اسی سال ایک اور سروے کے مطابق 32 فیصد ووٹر مورمن امیدوار کو ووٹ دینے سے کترائیں گے، 45 فیصد مسلمان صدارتی امیدوار کو ووٹ دینے سے کترائیں گے جبکہ 50 فیصد ایتھیئسٹ امیدوار کو ووٹ نہیں دیں گے۔ یہاں بھی ایتھیئسٹ مسلمان سے بھ بدتر ثابت ہوا۔

پیٹ ٹلمین ایک امریکی فٹبال کا کھلاڑی تھا جو فوج میں شامل ہوا اور افغانستان میں فرینڈلی فائر سے مارا گیا۔ پینٹاگون نے پہلے اس کو ہیرو قرار دیا اور کہا کہ وہ دشمن سے مقابلے میں مارا گیا۔ ٹلمین کی فیملی حقائق جاننے کی کوشش میں رہی اور اب بھی مزید کوشش جاری ہے جب اس کی موت سے متعلق کافی حقیقت سامنے آ چکی ہے۔ اس بارے میں یہ آرٹیکل کافی تفصیل بتاتا ہے۔ مگر ہم ایتھیئسٹس پر بات کر رہے تھے۔ اس آرٹیکل میں فوج کے ایک لیفٹیننٹ کرنل صاحب فرماتے ہیں کہ ٹلمین کی فیملی اس کی موت کی تفصیل اور ذمہ‌داری کے تعین پر اس لئے مصر ہے کہ وہ خدا پر یقین نہیں رکھتے اور اس لئے انہیں چین نہیں آ رہا۔ اس بیان سے کرنل کا ایتھیئسٹس کے خلاف تعصب صاف ظاہر ہے۔

Annie Hall

Annie Hall is a bittersweet romantic comedy with a neurotic Woody Allen. It is a good, fun movie. I rate it 7/10.

Annie Hall is probably Woody Allen’s best movie. He is at his neurotic best here in a romantic comedy. His monologues are funny mostly. Overall the movie has a bittersweet which should probably be more common in this genre than the saccharine stories one usually sees.

I liked Annie Hall well enough, but I won’t say it is great. And so I rate it 7/10.

Pakistan Opinion Poll

There is an opinion poll out about the perceptions of people in four Muslim countries (including Pakistan) about US policy, attacks on civilians and al Qaeda. It offers an interesting perspective into what Pakistani city dwellers are thinking.

Via Abu Aardvark, I found out about a public opinion poll about US policy, attacks on civilians and al Qaeda in four Muslim countries: Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt and Morocco. Abu Aardvark focuses on Egypt while I am interested in Pakistan.

Let us look at the full report. But first some information:

The surveys were conducted between December 9, 2006 and February 15, 2007 using in-home interviews. In Morocco (1,000 interviews), Indonesia (1,141 interviews), and Pakistan (1,243 interviews) national probability samples were conducted covering both urban and rural areas. However, Pakistani findings reported here are based only upon urban respondents (611 interviews); rural respondents were unfamiliar with many of the issues in the survey. In Egypt, the sample (1,000 interviews) was an urban sample drawn probabilistically from seven governorates. Sample sizes of 1,000 – 1,141 have confidence intervals of +/- 3 percentage points; a sample size of 611 has a confidence interval of +/-4 percentage points.

So the Pakistani rural population did not have much to opine on these issues and the survey only reports findings from urban areas.

(Urban) Pakistanis have a 15%/67% favorable/unfavorable view of the current US government which is similar to the other countries (except Egypt which is much more unfavorable). 64% of Pakistanis think that nearly all or most of the world events are controlled by the US. 36% of Pakistanis disagreed (while 33% agreed) with the statement that “there have been times in American history where it has helped to promote the welfare of others.” 73% of Pakistanis think that weakening or dividing the Islamic world is a policy goal of the United States and 64% think that spreading Christianity in the Middle East might be a goal. In comparison, 68% of Pakistanis thought that maintaining control over oil resources is a goal of US policy.

On the primary goal of the War on Terror, 42% of Pakistanis think it is to weaken the Islamic world while 26% think it is to militarily and politically dominate the Middle East. Only 12% think the purpose of the war on terror is to protect the US from terror attacks.

While 71% of Pakistanis agree with the goal of getting the US troops to withdraw from Iraq, Persian Gulf and Afghanistan, they disagree about attacks on US troops with about a third approving and similar numbers disapproving.

81% of Pakistanis believe that politically motivated attacks on civilians are not justified, with 72% considering it against Islam. However, only 30% of Pakistanis think that groups that target civilians, such as al Qaeda, are violating the principles of Islam. At the same time, 62% consider suicide bombings by Muslims to be wrong. About two-thirds oppose attacks on civilians in the US and Europe while a slightly less majority opposes attacks on US civilians working in the Muslim world.

9% of (Urban) Pakistanis support al Qaeda attacks on the US and share al Qaeda’s attitude towards the US while 7% oppose the attacks but share the attitude. 17% oppose the attacks and do not share al Qaeda’s attitude towards the US. The rest declined to take a position (which is unusual compared to the other countries surveyed).

Pakistanis have a more positive (27%) view of Osama Bin Laden than negative (15%) with 24% having mixed feelings. Also, only 2% of Pakistanis consider al Qaeda to be behind the September 11, 2001 attacks while 27% think the US did it and 7% blame Israel (62% refused to answer). This is very different from the other countries.

21% of Pakistanis think a conflict between Western and Muslim cultures is inevitable while 43% think it possible to find common ground.

67% of Pakistanis want to keep Western values out of Islamic countries. On the other hand, 65% of Pakistanis consider globalization to be good while only 14% declare it to be bad and 61% consider democracy to be a good way to govern. 71% want to push the US to remove its military forces and bases from the region; 79% want a strict application of shariah law in every Muslim country; and 74% want to unify all Muslim countries into a single state or caliphate.

While 84% of Pakistanis believe people should be free to worship according to their religion, 60% had no problem with proselytizing. About half the Pakistanis have unfavorable views of the freedom of expression in the United States.

One Kid is Best

Does having kids makes one happy? How many kids does it take to maximize happiness? Let’s check some research on the topic.

Scientists are studying whether having children makes the parents happy and they are finding interesting results.

In comparing identical twins, Kohler found that mothers with one child are about 20 percent happier than their childless counterparts; and while fathers’ happiness gains are smaller, men enjoy an almost 75 percent larger happiness boost from a firstborn son than from a firstborn daughter. The first child’s sex doesn’t matter to mothers, perhaps because women are better than men at enjoying the company of both girls and boys, Kohler speculates.

Interestingly, second and third children don’t add to parents’ happiness at all. In fact, these additional children seem to make mothers less happy than mothers with only one child—though still happier than women with no children.

“If you want to maximize your subjective well-being, you should stop at one child,” concludes Kohler, adding that people probably have additional children either for the benefit of the firstborn or because they reason that if the first child made them happy, the second one will, too.

It looks like we have maximized our happiness with one kid. But unlike the men in this study, I really wanted a girl.

You can read the actual paper by Hans-Peter Kohler, Jere R. Behrman and Axel Skytthe. The abstract follows:

Economic and rational-choice theories suggest that individuals form unions or have children because these decisions increase their subjective well-being or “happiness.” We investigate this relation using within-MZ (identical) twin pair estimates to control for unobserved factors, such as optimistic preferences, that may simultaneously affect happiness, partnerships, and fertility. Our findings based on Danish twins aged 25-45 and 50-70 years old include the following. (1) Currently being in a partnership has large positive effects on happiness. (2) A first child substantially increases well-being, in analyses without controls for partnerships, and males enjoy an almost 75 percent larger happiness gain from a first-born son than from a first-born daughter; however, only females enjoy a happiness gain from the first-born child with control for partnerships. (3) Additional children beyond the first child have a negative effect on subjective well-being for females, while there is no effect for males. (4) Ever having had children does not significantly affect the subjective well-being of males or females aged 50-70 years.

Hat-tip: Marginal Revolution.