Thursday, June 04, 2009

I Will Vote

In theory, I do not believe that diasporas should have the right to vote in the elections of their homeland, but as long as Iranian laws allow for non-residents to vote, I think I would be remiss not to vote, especially in such an important election as the upcoming one on June 12.

Although the site is still under construction, this page provides information on voting locations in the United States. Canada only allows voting in Ottowa (based on some lame security argument), so Iranians from all over Canada can only vote in one location. This is really too bad, since thousands of Iranians in Canada will be unable to trek across that gigantic country just to cast their vote in the capital. I don't have information for voters in other countries, but the best bet is to refer to the local Iranian embassy.

Iranian presidential elections have been very exciting since the late 90s, but this one seems to be breaking a record, and I predict a very high turn out both in Iran and abroad. The rallies, events, and active street campaigns (and street fights) have made it evident that those in Iran are fully geared to participate in the elections; the video below of diasporic Iranians indicates that the election fever has spread far beyond Iran's borders.

If you can vote, please do.

(Thanks to my cousin and my friend Sima for the above links)

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Tehran From Google Maps Satellite

Although it makes me slightly nervous to have Iran be mapped out on google like this, it is still cool to catch a glimpse from above.

The journalist Ali Mosleh has take a few screen shots that I am using here with his permission. I hope you enjoy them.

The Azadi Stadium. This is where some of the recent humiliating soccer games have taken place:

This is the famous Azadi Memorial Tower:

Tajrish square, a well-known area with an old-school market place:

One of the busy expressways, at a moment where there is not too much traffic:

The newly unveiled Milad Tower:

Jomhouri Square:

Tohid Square:

Mehrabad Airport, formerly the main international airport in Tehran, now for domestic flights:

Some of my favorite parts of Tehran are its numerous, expansive parks, so green and full of fountains. If I get a chance I may take some screen shots of those for you.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Iranian Letters to FriendFeed

If you've been wondering why I haven't blogged so much lately, it has only partially been because I have been very busy. The whole truth is that blogs are outdated, and I've been spending my spare net-time on Friendfeed, where I almost exclusively converse in Persian, and that alone has been really great.

Without warning today, Friendfeed decided to switch over to its beta version, and all of us who were online collectively freaked out. The well-known blogger sibil tala volunteered to write sample notes of complaint for the Persian speakers who wanted to give Friendfeed comments on the new website but didn't have the English skills to do so. But at one moment, she started to write sample letters for specific groups and individuals, and so the letters turned into hilarious and brilliant satiric comments on contemporary Iranian culture.

With her permission, I am copying and pasting her letters below. You need to know a little bit about contemporary Iranian culture, language, and politics to get all of what she says, but I hope there is something here for everyone to enjoy:

1. Sample Message:

Dear ferfer (that is what we call you in Persian). My father came door (it is a Persian slang with much negative connotation) with this new version, please change it to classic version or I will make your father come (door)!

2. Sample Message for Hezbollahi users:

In the name of God. It was the will of God that I found your site and I have been using it as digital tool to do good for the world. The new design has made my life very difficult and I cannot engage in my duties as a Muslim! Out of respect for my religious duties, I respectfully ask you to change it! May God help you.

3. Sample Message for Modernist Akhoonds (my note: the Akhoonds are the clergy, or as Americans/Euro call them, the Muuuuuuuuuuulahs)

We have this exact design in Islam too. We have made it more Islamic but I just wanted to bring the Islamic elements of this design to everyone's attention and thank ferfer. There is only a slight problem and that is in Islam we allow for multiplicity and it would be good to have the classic option too.

3. Sample Message for Gherti users(my note: the ghertis are the trendy/preppy/hipster users):

Hi, my name is Kambiz and I am from Persia the land of Cyrus the great and the birthplace of democracy. I am writing to you in the name of Zoroaster and asking you to take a vote and see if in the spirit of referendum, users prefer the old version of Friendfeed or not! Long live free Persia!

4. Sample Message for 101 Feminists (my note: these are the "feminists" who live outside Iran and usually can't put two words of Persian together):

Hi my name is Melodia Ghanbarzadeh and I am a women's right activist from Iran. The old site was very helpful for those poor, uneducated, very religious and slightly retarded women that Lily and I were trying to save. Can you please bring it back or Islamic fundamentalism will make us all become temporary wives!

5. Sample Message for Fakhravar (my note: Fakhravar is the "student leader" who is well known to readers of this blog)

In the name of the people of Iran. For month Mullahs torture I. They put stone and hot them in my arse. They put my head in white towel and white room. I have survived all that to bring you the maasaage of love and peace and you are even more too much tourchuring me with this new design? Long live free Iran. we love you AAmrica and Israel.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

What does the Persian Gulf Have to Do With Israel?

The issue of the name of the Persian Gulf is a sensitive one for Iranians, and so it may not be a surprise that NIAC took a step to publicly comment on a testimony in the US Senate during which the term Arabian Gulf was used to describe that body of the water.

However, what is striking is that in raising its concern, NIAC identified the usage of the term as a politically divisive one used "to create divisions in the region against non-Arab entities, particularly Iran and Israel."

Why would the naming of the Persian Gulf, a body of water that is no where near Israel, be a matter of concern to Israel? More importantly, why would the concerns of Israel be an issue for the National Iranian American Council?

Finally, the naming of the Persian Gulf as Arabian may be divisive, but it is also divisive to treat both Iran and Israel as though they have no Arab populations themselves. Iran has over 2 million Arabs and Israel has approximately 1 million Arab citizens who are Palestinian and hundreds of thousands of Arab Jews.

NIAC should seriously reconsider its approach to issues of importance to its Iranian constituency. As it is, NIAC is being as divisive as the terms it is critiquing, and it is also causing confusion for the consistent consideration and priority it gives to Israel's needs and concerns.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The OffensiveToilet Drain

This really bothers me every time I see it, and I see it pretty often because it is in the toilet of one of my favorite restaurants:

Would people get away with having a toilet drain embossed with "Queen of England", "President of the US," "the Dalai Lama" or some such other title?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Another Idiotic Consequence of Anti-Iran Sanctions

I always maintain that those who push for sanctions against Iran (or any other country for that matter) on the basis that sanctions will punish the governments and not the people are either foolish or blatant liars. In my experience, almost all who offer that logic in promoting sanctions are the latter.

Without exception, sanctions primarily and disproportionately hurt the civilian population. Those who deviously promote sanctions as a deterrent of governments know very well that it is the people that will be hurt, and this is in fact what they want: unhappy, ailing, poor, miserable populations. This allows them to hit two birds with one stone: they can say "oh look how poorly government X manages its affairs, it's people are unhappy, ailing, poor and miserable" and they also believe that such populations are more likely to overthrow government X, thus saving them the trouble of ground invasions.

Today, I just want to point to one of the many idiotic consequences of sanctions, and since Mr. Obama renewed sanctions on Iran mere days before his New Year's Address to Iran, I think this should become a regular feature of this blog.

I saw on a Persian friendfeed thread today that someone in Iran was unable to access
the streaming music site and received the following message:

We believe that you are in Islamic Republic of Iran (your IP address appears to be If you believe we have made a mistake, we apologize and ask that you please contact us at

How infuriating and frustrating is that? When the Iranian government blocks access to sites like facebook or youtube, all hell breaks loose and accusations fly that the government is trying to block "western culture" and "western influence." But when a citizen in Iran is blocked by those who operate in the so-called free market and the free world, shouldn't there be outrage directed at them as well?

Someone with legal expertise please take this on. I remember back when Yahoo or Hotmail was also pulling something similar where they were denying Iran residents access to their accounts for a while, so perhaps Pandora can be convinced using whatever argument was employed in getting these others to change their foolish policy. In the meantime, if you hear of other sanction-related consequences that hurt the Iranian citizenry--whether it is small annoyances or major problems--please let me know the details.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy Nowruz!

Happy 1388 to one and all!

Nowruz Message From Obama

I have to admit it, I am impressed!

There is less than eight hours until spring and the new year, so happy nowruz everyone!