Saturday, January 28, 2006

1. The usual suspects were completely shocked about Hamas' landslide victory in the Palestinian elections. They were the same people who were totally shocked when Eyad Allawi, the puppet whose win the U.S. was projecting, got less than 10% of the vote in the last Iraqi elections. When is the "western" press and governments going to realize that their Middle East "experts" don't know jack? Anyone who has even a minimal understanding of the Gaza Strip, for example, should have been surprised that Hamas didn't get a higher percentage of the vote.

2. We passed through an art exhibition the other day that was a bunch of paintings of "world leaders" when they were small children. The artist had based his paintings on actual photographs. The cutest child was Kim Jong-il, and george W. followed in a close second. Vladimir Putin and Ariel Sharon, however, started out looking/being evil, as opposed to Kim jon-il and bush, who clearly developed the trait.

3. After years of wanting to watch it, we finally had a chance to see Deliverance, and it was kind of counter-climactic. What disturbed me most about the famous rape scene was my own reaction. How many times have I seen acts of violence against women re-enacted on a tv/movie screen? Perhaps thousands of times. So if I am so used to seeing such violence, how come I was so effected by the rape scene in this film? Was it because it was against a man? I think it was and, of course, that bothers me, because it means that somewhere along the way, I got used to the idea of violence against women as part of the "natural" order of things.

Anyway, I think maybe the film had some kind of christian subtext which of course was completely lost on me. So maybe there is a whole lot more to the film than I could gather.

4. So apparently Steven Spielberg declared in an interview with Der Spiegel: "I would die for Israel". Go right ahead, buddy! Or as they say in Arabic Ahlan Wa Sahlan!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Who Made this Possible?

Iraq's Moqtada As-Sadr, whose faction gained big votes in the recent elections, and Iran's right-wing darling, top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, are all smiles during today's meeting in Tehran. (image via ISNA)

Pro-war folks, enjoy the fruits of your labors!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Freedom is on the March

All of this would be kind of funny if it wasn't so scary.

So the first thing is this news I received via email this morning. The pentagon has been spying on U.S. universities, and has picked out a handful of campuses who have held peaceful anti-war protests as presenting a national security threat. And where do you suppose was the number one ranked university which was deemed to pose a "credible threat"? The University of California at Santa Cruz! Does a campus that has the banana slug as its official mascot sound like a place that would be the hotbed of militants? The only explanation I can think of for Santa Cruz making the list is that the feds assigned to keeping an eye on the campus had been smoking a whole lot of the weed that is easily available around that place.

But it is not just the students who are under surveillance by the way. Thanks to Sima , I found out about this organization that pays students to spy on UCLA professors! And if you aren't a student but still want to contribute the intimidation of intellectuals, you can donate cash to the project, and your donation is tax deductible too.

And if I may indulge my own conspiracy theories for a moment, I think there are state-sponsored projects aimed at planting spies/agents in graduate departments, particularly in the humanities/social science programs. Yea, I know, it sounds paranoid, there was a day when I would have laughed myself off the blog for suggesting something like this, but not anymore.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The second funny in a one day, I must be in a good mood!

The character is praying: "Dear God, please silence Ahmadinejhad for a while"


(the cartoon is the work of Nikahang Kowsar, found here, reproduced here)

Jesus Will Surive

I know my dorky sense of humor hasn't really been a feature of this blog, especially nowadays when it looks like more war and bloodshed are on their way.

But I thought this music video about jesus was really funny, so I wanted to share it.

I hope that my religious christian and muslim readers don't find it offensive.

1. I've never been to Pakistan, and I really don't know much about contemporary Pakistan outside of some information on the U.S. backed military dictator, President Musharraf, or as he is commonly known among Iranians and Afghans alike, President Bee-sharaf (bee=without, Sharaf=honour, hence bee-sharaf=without honour). Despite my lack of deep knowledge on Pakistan, however, I am pretty sure it is one of the most "anti-american" places anywhere. The murder of 18 civilians by a U.S. bombing, of course, has only heightened this sentiment.

As far as I know, neither bee-sharaf or the "world community" that some people seem to have so much faith in, has protested the murder of civilians, nor have they criticized the violation of the air-space of a sovereign state. Isn't Pakistan a staunch U.S. ally? Could the U.S. get away with bombing some little town in Brittain where it thinks that terrorists are hiding out, without even saying "oops sorry, our intelligence was wrong, we just murdered a bunch of your civilians"?

2. I want to say a quick word about tomorrow's scheduled execution of clarence ray allen, who is blind, wheel-chair bound, diabetic, he's basically just a really sick old man. When I blogged in Persian about the execution of Tookie Williams, I was actually amused when many people who clearly don't read a word of persian, assumed they knew what i was saying and harassed me accordingly. I think I erased the more hostile comments, though in retrospect I wish I had kept them. Anyway, Raed just blogged about that experience of being at the William's vigil , and we both shared the same irritation about pretty much all aspects of the vigil/protest. But I think I would give more credit to those who are working for the abolishment of the death penalty on the basis that state sanctioned murder is, well, murder that should not be carried out by "civilized" nations.

3. The third thing I want to blog about is a request for help/suggestions from my Persian speaking readers, which I guess I will put off for now because I should probably compose it in Persian, even if it takes me 3 times as long to type in Persian as it does in English. I'm just putting this here as a reminder to myself.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Just as I expected, the newspapers are filling up with more than their usual share of inane "analysis" on how to deal with the Iranian nuclear question.

Taking inspiration from Alireza's last post, I decided to respond to this article in the SF Chronicle and to copy my letter in my blog:

You January 13 article on the Iranian nuclear conflict argues that sanctions on Iran would "exacerbate [the] tensions" between the "fundamentalist top layers" and the "young population that wants an open society". This reductive and erroneous conclusion is based on a much circulated theme among western media outlets: namely, you seem to think that Iranian society can be simply understood as a handful of bearded clerics and a bunch of party kids who'll sell their country for a dime.

In any case, didn't the sanctions on Iraq teach you anything? Thirteen years of sanctions against the people of Iraq didn't embolden resistance against the ruling regime, they only brought about suffering and a turn towards fundamentalist forms of religion as the only remaining social anchor. There is no reason to think that sanctions against Iran would be any less disasterous than they were in Iraq.

It may be a good idea for those of us who blog and who write the occassional letter in protest of the media to also put a copy in the main body of our posts. That way maybe we can get the message out there that no matter what the mainstream press wants the rest of the world to beieve, most Iranians say:

no to war on iran, no to sanctions on iran

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

i want to know where to get the book pictured above for free.

i don't want to pay for it because i don't like the author, his ideas, or the general types who support him.

True, he is a political prisoner and he should be be set free. But that doesn't mean that he is beyond reproach, or that he can get away with trying to pass himself off as another Bozorg Alavi!

Anyway, if the Iranian authorities wont release political prisoners based on the principle that people shouldn't be locked up for their beliefs, they should at least do so to save themselves the trouble that comes with making heroes out of morons. I'm sure even the handful of people who take someone like Fakhravar seriously because he is in prison wouldn't give him the time of day if he was saying the same things outside as a free man.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

1. I for one am glad that doctors are optimistic about Ariel Sharon's chances of recovery. I think war criminals should remain alive so that they can be held accountable for their actions. Slipping away in an easy death as other war criminals praise him as a "man of peace" just doesn't seem right.

2. I totally screwed up two seemingly simple tasks this weekend:

First, I tried my hand at Indian cuisine with a basic recipe for a red Dahl curry, and despite emptying a bunch of cumin, ginger, chili, and coriander into it, the only flavor that distinctly came through was salt.

Second, I am solely responsible for the fact that Raed is now almost completely bald. I usually end up leaving these bumpy spots on his head when I cut it, so we decided to put the setting on the supposedly foolproof setting of one. Somehow I still managed to make bumpy lines in his head, so we had no choice but to shave his head on zero!

3. Can anyone give me a brief tutorial on Russian names? Let's say you are reading a dostoyevsky novel and are having trouble keeping track of the fact that every character has like 4 different titles/names, is there an easy rule for figuring out the multiple titles/names?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

1. Okay, so i haven't read it, or even skimmed it, or know anything about the person who writes it, but I came across this Persian blog which is on all thing Kyrgyzstan, which i thought was in itself pretty cool.

2. The little ironies in life are the best. Like how the guy who lives near us, a youngish guy who always looks angry and avoids eye contact with everyone, just put up a big colorful sign on his front porch that says: "Friends Are Always Welcome Here".

3. Well I sure am glad the holiday season and all the car advertisements and social obligations it comes with are over. One cool thing about family-type reunions during holidays, however, is that there is always at least one kid or elderly member of the family who says socially inappropriate things in front of a lot of people. My favorite quotes from this season, though i didnt have the pleasure of hearing them in person, are from the five year old cousin who told my dad "get away from me, you smell like wine!" and declared that my brother was "an ass".

4. has this section called Anyway under which Jahanshah posts a variety of random things, most of which are really funny, so i like to check it out as a break. Today, however, I saw two things, neither of which were funny, but of which I want to speak:

A. First, there was this video of a bunch of frat boys who tricked their friend into thinking he'd won the lottery, letting him express his unrestrained joy, and then dashing his dreams and laughing at him. The guy was so disappointed that he started crying. It was one of the most mean spirited things I've ever seen, I really hated it.

B. Second, there is this picture of Ahmadinejhad under the title "Presidential Dinner". The person who labeled the photo and sent it in to The Iranian, I believe, did so to make fun of the man. But this image, which may be laughable to some, captures one of the main reasons why Ahmadinejhad was appealing to the large segment of the population who voted for him: he looks like "the people", he eats like "the people", and also like a lot of "the people" he has a thirty year old car and an empty bank account.

So those who came out in support of Ahmadinejhad during the elections did not vote for the dangerous foreign policy he seems bent on pursuing and they did not vote for him because they support his views on the holocaust. Dealing with Ahmadinejhad requires looking at what it is that he represents to the millions who voted for him.

But as long as people like Thomas Friedman get away with dismissing those who do support Ahmadinejhad and instead pontificating on what the "Youth of Iran" really want, we will be stuck with the likes of friedman and ahmadinejhad for a long time to come.