Friday, February 27, 2004

I am really excited to find out that As' ad Abukhalil is writing a blog. I found his page via riverbend. Yea, ok, so I lied when I said I went cold turkey off of the Iraqi blogs. I have cut down, however, and I still maintain my reasons for trying to wean myself off of them.

Auntie Establishment reminded me the other day that i hadn't explained myself about this when i had said i would, and i think it will take me too long to do so now. but the short of it is that i felt like this new fascination with iraqi bloggers is really a replication of a sort of colonial ethnography. i read the comments self-identified Americans leave on some of these Iraqi blogs and i want to puke. it's like they are looking for little "native informants" to tell them all about what the people they've invaded are really like, and then they get belligerent when their "native informants" says something they don't want to hear. some people act like they've gone to the ethnic zoo or something. well, anyway, here is a glimpse of why i was feeling discomfort in partaking in the ravenous quest for iraqis online.

now back to As' ad Abukhalil . He is great, and i recommend that you check out his work. i could go on and on about As'ad, but feminist that he is, i'm sure he'd find that sort of hero worship unseemly.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

The blog is contributing to a decline in my intellect. I can feel it. The more blogs I read, the shorter my attention span becomes. And I find myself engaging in the on-the-spot spats in comments sections, often providing knee-jerk, scattered responses. I don't particularly care how i come off in the comments or even in this blog, the whole thing being anonymous and all, but I somehow feel like it is all rubbing off on my normal non-blogger self as well. This doesn't bode well, especially given the universal i inhabit in my day-to-day life.

Moving on from my mental atrophy to other natural disasters, there was a crazy storm here in the morning. Every time one of these rainstorms hits, I plan to go down to the beach and watch the waves go out of control. But I have never once followed through, that is, until today, when I was determined to drive the 2 minutes it takes to go to the beach-side no matter what. And what do you know, as soon as I get in my car, the storm suddenly came to a halt. I ended up running a bank errand instead.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

I know I complain a lot about self-involved and self-obsessed soosool diaspora Iranians, but there really are a lot of awesome Iranians around as well, and it's always nice to see them in action.

I was at a small meeting of a Palestine Solidarity group tonight where only the core group of 10 or so people showed up. We are a very diverse bunch, but the Iranians were the only nationality or ethnicity of which there was more than one. There were four of us! Which is pretty astounding, I think, considering the low number of Iranians in this town and the anti-Arab diatribes many Iranians are subject to courtesy of our families, the misguided Iranian nationalist media abroad, and, lest I forget, the implicitly and overtly racist depictions of Arabs in dominant discourses of the United states.

Anyway, back to the positive point I was making. what is extra-great is that the other three Iranians at this meeting were undergrads, all of them well-spoken, sharp, and politically savvy. My hats off to them, really, and I wish them all success in the kinds of important activism they are doing.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

I'm having major computer problems. Several at once, on different machines even. I'm beginning to think I'm the culprit. plus there have been a number of occasions where i have had to speak to groups of people, which is why I've become sick of my own voice and everything i have to say. i hadn't even felt like blogging, because it too seems akin to hearing yourself publicly speak. now i am sitting at a PC that is not mine to distract myself from thinking about all the stuff that inaccessibly sits on my own computers.

On the bright side, the whole ordeal has made me check myself and my addiction to blogs. I was telling
Pedram the other day about what then seemed like an uncontainable urge to click on all the blogs that appear to be updated on his site every time I visit his page, which is at least once a day. Most of those blogs are interesting in their own ways, but a couple drive me absolutely nuts and yet i was finding myself returning to them time and again. it's a kind of masochism, really, and it's all the more perverse because i can discern no pleasure in it, just pain. so the computer fiasco has made me wean myself from checking blogs that aggravate me, and I am feeling pretty good about it. Oh, I've also almost gone cold-turkey off of the iraqi blogs. i have a lot to say about my reasons for doing that, so i'll save it for another entry because it involves a whole ethical/political quandary.

I'm going to go read a bit on the bogus Iranian elections before I go out for the evening. As usual, of course, the Iranian "opposition" media, and I'm talking here both about the spectrum of them, has been as unreliable and propaganda-ridden as the Islamic Republic's press corps. But what can i say, i can't get rid of all my masochistic tendencies in one week, so off I go to cesspool.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Last week I was talking to this Turkish guy who seemed so optimistic about some of what was happening in our part of the world that I almost got caught along in his enthusiasm. He was sure that the UN was very close to brokering a deal between Greece and Turkey on the issue of Cyprus. He was also enthusiastic that the parliamentary crisis in Iran signaled a clean end to the Islamic Republic.

Well, today I read that talks between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders broke down in deadlock for the second day in a row. And, as for a swift and sane end to the IRI, even the buzz from the unbelievably delicious Peruvian cocktail wasn't enough to nudge me into deluding myself about its plausibility.

On an entirely different note, I drink all kinds of teas to help with my restless sleep problems, and I recently remembered that Lavender is supposed to be good for insomnia. I bought Lavender flowers from the local hippy herb and voodoo shop, but the tea I make turns out pretty bitter. Can any of you tea connoisseurs give me some pointers on proper brewing methods for this stuff?

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

No, I insist, After You

You may not be able to guess it from some of my "political" posts, but I can be pretty damn lighthearted. So here is a funny little animation of two clay guys taking social pleasantries, or the ta'rof as we Iranians call it, a step too far.

Last week I had the chance to catch up with a group of pretty great people I hadn't seen in a while. I was feeling a bit under the weather, so I mostly just listened as I threw back glasses of Sherry (I was testing the idiotic hypothesis that sherry is good for a cold, which, of course, it most certainly is not).

Anyway this friend of mine was talking about a term that he and some other people had coined to describe a maddening category of people that we come across all the time. The label for this group is "Progressive Until Palestine" or PUP for short. These are the people who speak up against injustice, call for respecting human rights, rage against racist ideas and policies, and take all sorts of progressive positions until you mention Palestine or Palestinians. And that is when you are in for a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde transformation right before your eyes. If you are lucky, the PUP will turn stone silent and cut short whatever bleeding heart liberal act they were putting on. Most likely, however, the PUP will turn rabid, spew all kinds of racist and inaccurate "facts", and probably accuse you of a few things to boot.

Fortunately, the PUP phenomena seems to be endemic pretty much to the USA and a few other places here and there. But there certainly are a lot of people who are PUPs, and they need to be confronted about their vile hypocrisy, particularly when they are figures of some public standing like prominent intellectuals, activists, or what have you. Who knows, maybe I will keep a list of such people and post it on this blog in the hopes that it will somehow contribute to holding such people accountable for their dangerous sanctimony.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

I usually wait a few months before sharing this sort of stuff, but since the case at hand involves someone who--strictly speaking--is not one of my students, I think it's not too bad to write about it.
The other day this guy was asking about the history of a certain place before the U.S. foisted itself upon this territory and its peoples and this is how he posed his question:
"How were things there before we colonialismed it?"
I hear this, and two questions simultaneously pop into my head:
Number 1- "What do you mean 'we', white man?"
Number 2- "colonialismed?!"
Of course, I proceeded to ignore the voices in my head and instead gave a measured response that included proper usage of the terms colonialism and colonize.
I should point out that the person who asked the question was a native English speaker at a reputable U.S. university. It's too depressing to think about how and why the education system here is making dummies out of all of us, so I am just going to attribute the above incident (and the countless others just like it) to too much reefer! Yep, that's what it is, the reefer.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Chicken Soup for My Apathy

I'm sitting here eating what must be my 10th bowl of soup in two days, and I am finally starting to come out of the peculiar mix of sensitivity and apathy that hits me every time I get sick. The hyper-sensitivity always comes first. On Thursday I got on the bus and sat next to a girl with a bloody mouth and scratches on her face. I couldn't tell if she was attacked or if she fell off her bike or something. Of course I asked her if she was okay and she said she was, and I didn't want to make her uncomfortable by insisting. But then the whole ride home I had a lump in my throat and the strongest urge to just put my arms around the complete stranger crying silently next to me. I should have known then that I was getting sick. I mean under normal circumstances I would have been concerned about the girl, but not so much so that I would feel like I was on the verge of losing it. So what happens next in my illness trajectory is that my body/mind gets drained from the emotional onslaught, and I enter into the apathy phase, which I am not quite out of yet. This explains why today I was more interested in reading about a platinum and diamond Hello Kitty Doll than looking into, say, what is behind this photo of a young man being hauled out of Friday prayers for an outburst during Rafsanjani's speech.
Ah, Well, I am off to have more soup, and hope to be back to my (ab)normal self in a day or two.