Thursday, December 28, 2006

1. I don't have much to say on President Ford's passing, though I do remember hearing Ford jokes from the dad of a high school friend. I guess before Bush came along, Ford was known as the dumb president, the guy who couldn't do two things at once. So one joke went like this:

Question: What does Mrs. Ford do when she is not in the mood to have sex with her husband?

Answer: Give him a piece of gum.

2. Now we have George W. Bush, where practically every one of his comments is a ready-made joke. Despite this, however, people still make-up jokes about him, like this one:

Bush Staff member: Mr. President, today's developments in Iraq included the death of two Brazilian soldiers.

Mr. Bush: OH MY GOD! Nooooo. Two Brazilian soldiers!!! This is unbelievable. Now exactly how many million are in a Brazilian?

3. And now for some serious stuff. They say that Saddam Hussein will be put to death within thirty days. Raed and I are guessing that they will kill him either right before or right after the U.S. death toll in Iraq reaches 3000, so that they can distract the public and claim a victory.

As of right now, the U.S death toll stands at around 2991. With the current rate of 3.65 soldiers killed per day this month, the U.S. death toll will most likely reach 3000 right around New Year's.

In July of 2005, Raed argued that:

The US administration will bury the executed body of Saddam along with all the secrets we're not supposed to know: All the military support (like the unlimited support for Iraq's war on the Anti-American government in Iran), all the dirty political deals (like giving the green light to Saddam's attack on Kuwait and the following written permissions to the Iraqi government in Safwan to crush the southern revolution in 1991), all the chemical weapons sold to Iraq (like the ones used against Iranians on the war fronts, and Iraqi Kurds in the north of Iraq), and many more political and economical secret deals.

Back then, we were worried and disgusted that a few small cases were going to be brought against Saddam just to quickly finish him off. Of course, occupation supporters had their usual set of excuses at hand. They said that Saddam would be tried for all of his offenses, and that the Dujail case was just the first of many to come. We never had any doubts that Saddam would not be brought to justice, and we are sad to see that his hastened sentence on a handful of charges has proven us right.

In a comment on this blog, Padideh asked why Iranians had not been more vocal about this issue, and I dont have the answer to that.

It is embarrassing that when it comes to the name of the Persian Gulf, Iranians will draft petitions, make google bombs, form groups, variously lobby or boycott organizations, and appeal to international law and history, but when it comes to seeking justice for the Iranian victims of chemical warfare, there is an shocking dearth of action or even discussion.

If I am wrong about this, please tell me, I would love to stand corrected.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas Iran

The UN Security Council voted to impose further sanctions on Iran because Iran refuses to stop what is guaranteed to it under the terms of the NPT to which it is a voluntary signatory.

So Iran is punished for practicing its rights under an international treaty while India is rewarded for refusing to sign the treaty and developing a nuclear weapon.

The glaring double standard that is applied to Iran in this and other cases is obvious even to the casual obvervor, no matter what their stance on nuclear weapons or the Iranian government.

Iranian Speaker of the Parliament had earlier claimed that Iran would reconsider its relations with the IAEA if the resolution passed.

With the passage of this resolutions, the government will probably gain the backing of many more people who will see that joining the NPT has been a ruse and a trap.

Friday, December 22, 2006

1. Yesterday, Nazli and the White Duckling tagged me for this game that people have been playing on the blogosphere for the occasion of Shab-e Yalda (the Iranian winter equinox celebration). The idea is that you confess five things about yourself that your readers may not know and then tag five other people. But since the game was supposed to be a Shab-e Yalda game and i noticed that i was "it" too late, i will take the cowards way out and pass on my turn. Watch out for me next year though.

2. I swear I say this with no nationalistic overtones, but the only New Year's that makes sense or ever seems "real" to me is the Nowruz as celebrated by Iranians, Afghans, Tajiks, Kurds, among others. The Spring Equinox, a time when the earth literally seems to be re-awakening and renewing itself, now that feels new, refreshing, hopeful, vibrant. I just don't get this January 1st stuff, smack in the middle of rain, sleet, or snow. But to those for whom the "holiday season" means something, all the best wishes from me to you.

3. I know this is not very holiday-seasonish, but I've been thinking a lot in the last couple of days about the Iran-Iraq war both because of the continuing war drive against Iran and also because of some studies I was reading about the use of german and U.S-made chemical weapons on Iranian civilians. And most of us who lived through the war probably have a memory of the sad song "mamad naboodi bebini". I remembered that Haji Washington had mentioned the song somewhat recently, so I did a web search for it and found this clip which has put the original song to some gruesome and sad photos from the days of that ugly war.

If you want to ruin a good mood and decide to click on the link, you'll note that the clip only includes pictures of what happened to people as a result of conventional warfare. The photos of the Iranian victims of unconventional, illegal warfare are even more disgusting. Which brings me to a question whose answer I know, but I will keep asking this question until the day that those responsible will be brought to justice:

Why dont saddam hussein's list of charges include his crimes against Iran and Iranians? Why aren't Saddam, alongside the U.S and German companies that supplied him with the chemical and biological weapons he admits to using against Iranians, being held accountable in a court of international law or in this joke of a kangaroo court that is being held in an Iraq that is under foreign occupation?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Please Don't Ask Me About My Thesis

I can't believe this shirt exists, but I think I need one! I'm just glad to see that the sentiment is widespread enough that someone figured they could probably make some money off of it.

If you would like to purchase this shirt, or know someone who would like to wear it, you can purchase it from here.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

1. oh my god this is the coolest (nerdy) thing ever: The Iranian Ministry of Education has made almost all Iranian school books available online. You can download them here . Practically all texts from elementary to high school are posted on the site, so beginners in Persian can use the primary school books to practice their skills and drop outs can use them to pass the Iranian G.E.D. (if one existed).

2. I arrived to this event a little late because a metro "incident" resulted in me being stuck underground between stations for a good twenty minutes. So I was already somewhat scattered by the time I got there and no sooner had I collected myself a little bit when who should pass before my eyes but one Mr. Ahura Pirouz Marz Afaridegar F. Khaleghi Yazdi.

Unfortunately, Mr. Ahura Pirouz Marz Afaridegar F. Khaleghi Yazdi wasn't just there to quietly listen, he managed to grab the mic during the question and answer session. And that is when he started rambling that his "movement is 2500 years old, it goes back to Cyrus the Great", "Iranians are not Arabs they are Persian, Iran is not a Muslim country", "the people who rule Iran now are not Iranians" and "why doesnt the U.S. help the Persian-Iranians" (and of course, he was pronouncing Persian like Pair-Zheee-an; I swear he said Pair-zheee-an like twenty times)

The whole thing was so embarrassing, both the audience and panelists were unsuccessfully stifling their laughter. I mean you know you are a damn fool if even the normally stiff D.C. suits can't help but have a laugh out loud at your expense.

3. Time Magazine's choice of "you" as person of the year is boring and super-cheesy, but their collection of "People who Mattered in 2006" is kind of interesting. And if you are one of those people who either love-to-hate or hate-to-love Ahmadinejhad, you may want to check out their photo essay on him.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

1. Pari Syma Mayel-Afshar, who may be known to many readers of her articles in Payvand as Syma Sayyah, is running for a seat on the Tehran city council. For those who are eligible to vote in this election or are just interested in reading about the motivations and platform of this independent candidate, her statement is available in english here.

2. Nazli just wrote about Fakhravar's appearance on VOA last night, and even though I left her a comment saying that maybe it is a good idea to stop giving this guy all the attention he seeks, I changed my mind once I had a chance to see the interview.

The topic of the VOA program was the recent student demonstrations in Tehran on the anniversary of 16 Azar, a date which in the Iranian calendar marks a founding moment in the Iranian student movement.

On that date in 1953, three students were murdered by the security forces of the Shah. The Shah had been returned to power courtesy of a CIA administered coup, and the students were protesting the presence of Nixon in Iran so soon after the overthrow of the democratically elected regime.

Mr. Fakhravar not only disputed the fact that the students were protesting Nixon, but he went so far as to say that the 1953 coup d'etat was "an historical necessity".

Who other than a handful of obstinate cold-warriors still hang on to this language and the fantasy that it feeds?

Fakhravar's handlers need to do a better job in coaching him. He may have fooled some people into thinking that he in any way has a constituency in Iran that supports him, but going around saying things that justify the 1953 coup will try the patience of a whole lot of people, including those that were gullible enough to have faith in him in the first place.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

1. A painful interview with Ahmad Batebi's dad about his son's situation. (interview is in Persian)

2. "Iranian hercules", Rezazadeh, wins the gold at the Doha Asian games. And he seems never to leave home without taking his picture with the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

3. My response to the Iraq Study Group's press conference.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Good news for me, my irritability earlier on has now passed. Low blood sugar is a nasty thing! The bad news is, I will probably be delivering more of my routine rants shortly.

But just to prove how sensitive my system is to food, I present to you the picture below. This is me at the new trendy mall called Tandees which is in the Tajrish district of Tehran. I hadn't even taken a bite of my ice-cream, and yet somehow I managed to get a sugar rush. Look:

Speaking of food, I screwed up my last batch of yogurt. I think I was impatient and added the culture when the milk hadn't cooled down enough. The result has been a somewhat watery and not-sour yogurt, which i know technically is supposed to mean that the yogurt is "good".

But we like sour yogurt, so I am trying to drain some of it to make mast-e Chekide or Lebane as the Arabs call it. The results are good, but it got me to thinking about the yogurt water that is discarded, and whether it has any uses? I mean can it be used in cooking or in making some other dairy product?

Maybe I'll research it a bit later on. For now, I should stop procrastinating and get back to work so that I actually have something to present to my supervisor sometime at the end of this week.

What do you suppose explains the fact that murdered ex-spy Litvineko practically disappeared off of the front pages? Could it be the revelation that he had converted to Islam and requested a Muslim burial on his deathbed? Because that really throws a wrench in the mainstream's little narrative doesnt it: The Evil dictator Putin vs. the Good Truth-to-power-speaking Litvineko. But what do you do when the "good" guy turns out to be a Muslim? Perhaps editors across the U.K. and U.S. are scratching their heads right now and thinking "maybe the bastard deserved the death he got after all".

How typical. But you know what else is typical? My little rant about the whole thing. So I wont elaborate. because believe me, I know that nothing is more boring or more infuriating than endless repetition. load the dishwasher, unload the dishwasher. Set the table, clear the table. Load the laundry, fold the laundry. Pack the grocery, unpack the grocery. and it's the same now with my political commentary, another step in a solo act that is gotten real old.

So I'll leave you on your own to figure out what lies behind the sudden silence on the nuked ex-spy. There is, after all, a sink full of dirty dishes with my name on them.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Asian games opened in Doha yesterday, and apparently the opening ceremonies were pretty impressive. I was in Iran at the same time that the torch was being passed through, and by coincidence I crossed the path of the torch carrying athletes twice.

The first time I saw them at the Tochal Mountain hiking area. The problem is that I am not tall enough to snap photos above people's heads, and so all of my pictures, like the one below, ended up cutting off the actual torch:

I did get to speak to some of the athletes, and the women below kindly agreed to let me photograph them. The woman on the left is a target shooter (with rifles!)and i was so taken with her sport that i forgot to ask the rest of them what their fields were.

I probably would have gotten better and more photos, but I wasted a lot of time early on getting into a big argument with a police officer at the entrance, and later playing with this kitten:

For obvious reasons, I didn't ask the policeman I was fighting with for his picture, but the photo below shows the view from behind where I was standing when the argument took place:

Friday, December 01, 2006

This is a photo of today's demonstrations in lebanon organized by the opposition. You can bet your life savings that if Lebanese demonstrations are even vaguely anti-syria and or anti-hizbollah, photos would be splashed across every U.S. publication and news show.

Thank goodness still for the U.K. press, which has reported on the protests and been honest enough to at least post photos reflecting the size of the demonstrations.

So the poor U.S.-supported PM, Fu'ad "cry baby" Sanyurah, is locked up in his compound, probably praying that the arms from the UAE and the promises of further U.S and French monitary support come through before the Lebanese government completely collapses.