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Book review: This Explains Everything

Brockman, John (ed.), This Explains Everything: Deep, Beautiful, and Elegant Theories of How the World Works, Harper Perennial, 2013.    In 1997, the Reality Club, which was formed in 1981 to explore themes of the post-Industrial Age, went on-line and was rebranded as “Edge.” Those involved with Edge brainstorm to ask an annual question and challen ... Continue reading »

A plea to remove Haji Firooz from Norooz

Haji Firooz is a racist tradition that we should abandon: One of the staples of Norooz and new year celebrations in modern Iranian culture is Haji Firooz, a dancer/entertainer (always a man) who paints his face black and dances to happy tunes on streets or in private gatherings. This is offensive on so many levels, especially coming from Iranians l ... Continue reading »

Norooz Greetings to All

For many years now, I have composed a traditional Norooz poem that celebrates the arrival of spring, renewal of nature, and beginning of the Persian new year. Here is my poem for 2014 (1393 of the Iranian calendar), in which the initial letters of the first/second half of the verses spell the poem’s title (“Norooz Khojasteh” = “Auspicious Norooz”). ... Continue reading »

Book review: History of Iranian Jews

  Levy, Habib (1896-1984), Comprehensive History of the Jews of Iran: The Outset of the Diaspora, abridged and edited from the 3-volume 1960 Persian version by Hooshang Ebrami, translated into English by George W. Maschke, Mazda Publishers, 264 pp., 2005. [ISBN 1-56859-086-5]   In this review/summary/analysis, I have tried to give the reader a sen ... Continue reading »

Ha! Ha! That's Life

"Ha! Ha! That’s life": This was the Iranian Foreign Minister’s response to David Keyes asking him whether it was ironic that he enjoys posting on Facebook while his government bans the Web site in Iran.   Here is Javad Zarif’s answer to another question on whether Majid Tavakkoli, the prominent imprisoned student leader, will be freed: “I don’t k ... Continue reading »

Khamenei’s tactical retreat

The recent presidential election in Iran provided an excellent opportunity for the Supreme Leader to change course while saving face. Hiding behind the “political epic” of 70+% voter turnout, Khamenei has conceded that his heavy-handed internal rule and Quixotic foreign policy have not worked. What will become of former president Ahmadinejad, who d ... Continue reading »

Iranians' dilemma

What are Iranian people to do? The first prime minister of the Islamic Republic (Bazargan) became known as a Westoxified liberal and was forced to resign; their first president (Bani-Sadr), who assumed office with the highest recommendation from Khomeini himself, has been rebranded as a Mojahedin-e Khalgh spy; the Prime Minister who led the country ... Continue reading »

Book Review: Iran's History

Daryaee, Touraj (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Iranian History, Oxford Univ. Press, 2012.   After an introductory chapter by the book’s editor, the material on Iranian history is presented in 16 chapters by various authors. These chapters are followed by a chronological list of ruling dynasties in Iran and an extensive index.   01. The Iranian ... Continue reading »

Exploitation film generates serious political discussions

The Oscar-winning film “Argo” has generated a great deal of negative reviews. The most benign criticisms are those from film critics who question the embellishment of facts for entertainment. For example, they point out that the CIA had only a minor role in the escape plans and the airport interrogation and the final chase scene on the runway never ... Continue reading »

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