Saturday, December 31, 2005

1. You know it is time to ease up on reading blogs when your dreams are about reading a blog that is talking about another blog. I woke up last night because the rain and wind was hitting the house so hard our windows were shaking, and I realized that I was reading a blog in my dream that said: "In his blog, Raed Jarrar says that our citizens do not understand the storm that is hitting Iraq, but a storm is hitting us here at home." Anyway, I think "doing something about my internet addiction" should be on my list of new year's resolutions.

2. How come the mainstream media isn't saying much about the five Sudanese embassy workers who were released by Al-Qaeda? It is, after all, a happy event, and war supporters are always complaining about the lack of reporting about the "good" news coming out of Iraq. I think the reason this news hardly got any press was because the hostage takers demanded that Sudan close its diplomatic mission to what they call "the green zone government", Sudan figured the lives of five of its nationals were more important than loyalty to an occupation government on the verge of collapse, which is why they met the demands of the hostage-takers and their citizens got to go home. So while the release of these hostages will not be plastered on the mainstream English speaking press, you can expect that Sudan will come under some kind of criticism pretty soon, and that not a voice will be raised against Egypt's murder of Sudanese immigrants.

3. She's had all kinds of problems with her main site this year, but Z8un, who is now primarily writing here, remains one of my favorite bloggers. It's not that I like everything she writes, in fact sometimes her social politics, especially when it concerns women's sexuality, really get on my nerves. But the thing I like most is that I detect in her a undiminishable lust for life, a curiosity about all that goes on around her. Because of this, I sometimes feel motivated just from reading her blog, even if she is writing some completely scattered thoughts about her daily life in the suburbs of tehran.

4. And finally, Happy New Year to all who celebrate it.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Peyvand Khorsandi has written the spoof below to take jabs at us bloggers, our self-importance, and the significance that is accorded to Iranian bloggers by the Western media. I took the piece below in it's entirety from The Iranian. The image above is taken from here, and yes, I am making fun of myself, but not only myself!

Mostafa Moghadass started his weblog before he even had a computer in 1999.

"I wrote it on bits of paper," he says. "They never made it online. But I handed them out to my friends."

One entry, which he keeps in pocket, reads: "This morning I woke up and made tea."

The 27-year-old student says that at the time he had no idea he was at the forefront of a communication revolution. "I was just brushing my teeth and writing about it," he says.

Iran has a more BPH (blogs per head) than all other countries combined. "It's incredible, there are more blogs than there are Iranians," says Gamboo Barfi, who runs

Many were surprised when she revealed before the election that the then presidential candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had a beard.

"We thought we were first with the news," says Maryam Saboonshenass, a reporter on reformist newspaper The Daily Boogh. "It sent shockwaves through the media."

But, she adds, there are fears Iran's birth rate will be unable to support a sustained proliferation of blogs. "It's terrible. There will be countless Gamboo Barfis who won't get a chance to shine in 2026."

Critics, however, are not impressed. "It's all nonsense," says Parham Pourmand, one of few non-bloggers left in Iran -- or "braggers" as he puts it. "Western journalists are surprised when third world people can operate technology. Look how they reacted to our cinema."

Cheeta Koochooloo, a resident of Tehran disagrees. Her daily posts appear at The most recent reads: "I'm off to a conference in China. Bloggers are Iran's New Journalists. Next week I am in Kuala Lumpur :0)!!! where bloggers are meeting to discuss what it is they do precisely."

Moghadass's most recent post sums up the radical atmosphere of the blogosphere: "This morning I left my apartment without turning my gas off, after cooking eggs. Mmm. I can't believe what Ahmadinejad said about Israel. Too bad he's an idiot. What image he is sending to the world? Where did I put my clean socks? I'm going to a conference on eggs in Munich in April."

Monday, December 26, 2005

What would you do if you had it on good suspicion that someone you know was drawn to and actively involved in fascist ideologies and communities? What if this person—with brown hair, skin, and eyes—conceived of himself as an “Aryan” because his family hailed from Iran, the so-called cradle of the Aryan creed? What if this person had never experienced any personal or familial harm at the hand of an Arab or a Jew, but somehow attributed all the ills of his current society and the world to arabs and jews?

What would you do?

I know it my not be the most Christmasy question, but it is urgent.

Would you force him to look into the mirror until he sees that he looks no different than the jew or the arab that he so despises, and that in fact he will find more blue eyed blonds among the arabs and jews than among the “aryan” Iranians he pledges allegiance to?

Would you try to convince him that racial “purity” is a lie, and that in any case, there are too many seyyids in his immediate family, which means that his family’s “bloodline” was most certainly mixed with people of Arab descent?

Would you publicly shame him, to smoke him out of his hole where he cavorts with his like-minded fascists, and force him to be accountable for his beliefs?

And who do you hold responsible? Not just him, because if it was about one person, this problem most likely would not have made it into the space of a blog.

Is it the fault of the mainstream communities which in words and deeds marginalize people of color so that a self-hatred so deep develops that draws one into the delusional world of racial superiority?

Is it the fault of the “Iranian opposition” who exploits these feelings of worthlessness, and preaches night and day on the satellite t.v channels about “purifying” the Persian language from Arabic and/or Islamic words, that consoles the not-accepted-“here” not-accepted-“there” masses of the Iranian diaspora with the spectre of a grand Persian empire, that tries to push an anti-Arab, anti-Muslim present political agenda by sowing hatred against the Muslim invaders of 1400 years past?

I have no doubt that Iranian fascist-nationalists who have outfitted themselves as the “Iranian Opposition” bear the brunt of the responsibility for the proliferating of these hateful ideologies.

I have some idea about how such groups can be forced to be accountable or at least forced to own up to the ideologies they promote.

But as to how one should deal with the deluded individual who is caught up in this poisonous web, I have no idea.

Yea, I know the questions are not the least bit Christmas-y.

But this is urgent.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

1. After Ahmadinejhad made his now notorious remarks about the Holocaust, it was the top news on almost every single news site I checked, and numerous analysis and condemnatoions followed for days. So I was surprised that when Mohamed Mahdi Akef, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, made almost identical remarks, his statements didn't seem to hardly cause a stir. I actually had to do some google-ing before I found some news items on this story, one of which can be found here. Anyway, I have some thoughts on this which I will save for later, but I wanted to link to the story in case you haven't seen it, and so that I wont forget to return to it in future posts.

2. Anyone know if MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) is still supposed to cause a variety of health problems? Well, I just bought some and I'm looking forward to spreading it over our stir fry dinner tonight. Yep, shrimp and veggie stir fry with a sprinkling of MSG, served with a very sour Chamorro sauce that appeals to the food sensibilities of northern iranians. If there is one common taste among the cuisine of Mazandaran, I would have to identify it as tangy, so this sauce of soysauce, vinegar, and lemon hits the spot. Yea, but back to the point, is MSG still in the evil food category or what?

3. Did you know that babies can grow to full term outside the uterus, die inside the body, and remain calcified for years on end? This case study (with photos) is not for the weak of heart, but I find it too fascinating not to pass on. I mean I don't know which thing I find more amazing: that a child can grow, die, and remain preserved inside a woman's body or that a woman can carry such a huge mass inside of her for so long without realizing it or suspecting that something is wrong.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

باران و شب یلدا

اول اینکه شب یلدا مبارک. فکر کنم در یخچال سه چهار تا انار داریم که چند هفته پیش خریدیم و گمان میکنم که تا حالا حتما پوسیده شده اند. عاشق انارم اما سخت تنبل هستم. کی حوصله انار پوست کردن را دارد؟ و بعدش اینکه اگر انار را دون دون بکنم دست هایم خشک میشوند و رنگ عجیبی به خود میگیرند.

دوم اینکه مردم از بس که روی خورشید را ندیدم. تقریبا دو هفته است که یک راست دارد باران میاید. اصلا آخرین باری که هوا آفتابی بود را یادم نیست. صبح تا شب هم یا چای یا قهوه دم میکنیم اما بی فایده است. اصولا من از این روزهای قبل از کریستمس بیزارم و این آسمان های دائما ابری بیشتر حالم را میگیرند.

فعلا همین. فقط خواستم شب یلدا را تبریک بگویم و یک کمی هم غر بزنم!

عکس را از اینجا گرفتم و مثل اینکه اول اینجا بود

Addicted to News

For a news addict like myself, a slow news day is bad enough, but an entire week is plain torture. God I've become so desperate I'm even listening to Radio Farda now, ok, no I'm not anymore, I managed to listen for all of 3 minutes.

You'd think that slow news days would make me more productive, but indeed they don't. I actually spend more time fervently searching for something, anything.

It's just as well, I suppose, this time last year there was the horrible news of the tsunami, and the year before that the bam tragedy, which had me thinking: god hates christmas.

Thankfully, there has been no such events this december, and I hope it remains as such.

A big juicy political scandal, on the other hand, would be much welcome!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Mrs. Anthrax and the Beast

1. After smearing them as "Dr. Germ" and "Mrs. Anthrax" before, during, and after the invasion of Iraq, Rihab Taha and Huda Ammash were both released without charge after 2.5 years in U.S. custody: Saddam's scientists freed as US house of cards starts to tumble.

2. What the right-wing pundits are saying these days about Iran: "the Israelis are entitled to launch a first strike of any magnitude, whenever they choose". Link via Brooding Persian.

3. What's with all the delicacy regarding ariel sharon's weight? Journalists commenting on the state of his health appear embarassed to note the very obvious fact that the man is very fat. An NPR journalist dared to mention today something like "one could even say that Ariel Sharon is nearly obese", to which Raed responded "nearly obese?! Ariel sharon is nearly a beast!".

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Just Wondering

Just wondering #1: if Iraq is supposed to have been "sovereign" since June 2004, how can the vice-president of another country which happens to have over a hundred thousands of its troops on Iraq's "sovereign" soil secretly drop in without the knowledge even of the "sovereign" state's Prime Minister?

Just wondering #2: What happens to the credibility of the countries that go around lecturing the rest of the world about democracy, if they threaten economic blackmail when they don't like the candidates that win in a democratic election?

Just Wondering #3- If police in China administered Hong Kong who beat and pepper-sprayed unarmed civilians protesting the WTO's devastating impact on local farmers, had done the same thing to let's say, demonstrators protesting the impact of China's policies towards the region, wouldn't all the champions of democracy be tripping over themselves to condemn state sponsored police brutality?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

1) One thousand days of war, zero weapons of mass destruction: One thousand days of getting it wrong.

2) I was bitter and panicked when Ahmadinejhad won the elections, so much so that I actually voted for Rafsanjani. But even I didn't expect that he would be so unpredictable and dangerous: the US/Israel are dying to attack Iran, and Ahmadinejhad seems determined to give them the excuses they've been fishing for.

3)Meanwhile, the U.S. hires three groups, with contracts worth some 300 million dollars, to produce pro-US propaganda. One of the contracts went to the Lincoln Group, the same corporation identified in the scandal of U.S. planting stories in the Iraqi press.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

San Quentin, I Hate Every Inch of You

دیشب نزدیک ساعت یازده حرکت کردیم به طرف زندان سن کوینتن. جاده خیلی خلوت بود و به پل که رسیدیم دیدیم که فقط یک خانم جوان سیاه آنجا کار میکرد. وقتی ایستادیم که پول از پل رد شدن را بپردازیم شنیدیم که او هم مثل ما داشت به برنامه رادیویی راجع به اعدام تووکی وییلیامز گوش میداد.

از همان اول پل پنج شش تا هلیکوپتر و هوا پیمای نور افکن دیده میشد که دور زندان میپلکیدن. قرار بود از اولین خیابان پس از پل خارج بشویم اما پلیس نه تنها این خیابان بلکه چند خیابان بعدی را هم بسته بودند. بالاخره از یک خیابانی زدیم بیرون وبعد از کلی رانندگی در ته دنیا یک جای پارک پیدا کردیم. تقریبا دو کیلومترازماشیین تا زندان را پیاده رفتیم.

سر راه دختر جوانی از پلیس پرسید: از کدام طرف بریم؟
پلیس: به کجا؟
دختر (با لبخند): خودت خوب میدونی کجا داریم میریم.

البته که پلیس خوب میدانست. مگر در شرایت عادی آن موقع شب در حوالی سن کوینتن پرنده ای پر میزند؟

قبل از اینکه به دم در زندان برسیم حالم تقریبا خوب بود. از دیدن اینکه این همه مردم های جور به جور برای حمایت از تووکی وییلیامزو برای اعتراض به سیستم قضایی کالیفرنیا و آمریکا به سن کوینتن آمده ند خوشحال بودم. ولی هرچی به جماعت نزدیکتر شدیم حال من هم به تدریج بدترشد. خیلی ها آنقدر مشروب خورده بودند که وقتی از کنار ما رد میشدند بوی الکل برای چند ثانیه در هوا میپیچید. میدانم که بعضی از مردم در شرایطی که زیر فشار هستند مشروب می خورند ولی دگر تا این حد؟

به هر حال من با اینکه مردم خیلی مشروب خوردند مشکل خاصی ندارم ولی از رفتار خیلی ها—چه مست چه هوشیار—خیلی دلخور شدم برای اینکه به نظر میرسید که بعضی ها برای تفریح و دیدن دوستان و آشنایان به زندان آمده اند. یک عده دیگر هم که طبق معمول برای تبلیغ گروه های سیاسی خودشان آمده بوند.

اصلا ما نفهمیدیم که تووکی وییلیامز کی از بین رفت.

ساعت یک صبح بود که سرمون را انداختیم پایین وبرگشتیم به طرف خانه.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The cartoon reads: "There is no torture in American prisons"

originally found here in the online edition of the Jordanian paper Al-Ghad