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March 2006

False advertising

Siamack Baniameri

I asked a cute Iranian girl out to dinner. She said she needs to see two copies of my credit report, income history, stock portfolio and three references before she considers. I told her that I have no credit, no job, no stock and no references; however, I wear size 13 shoes. She said that her boyfriend wears size 14. I said, it's not the size but it's how you wear your shoes.  Later that night, she discovered that I lied and I actually wear size 7 shoes. She is suing for false advertising and emotional suffering. The moral of the story: the smaller your foot, the easier it is to put it in your mouth.

Become your wish
Mozhgan Dadgostar

In response to Mehran Ahmadi's "Religion and Marriage", the majority of us living in the U.S. chose to leave our beloved homeland, so that we could live somewhere where we make our own choices, and not be manipulated by religious boundaries set by others. I agree with you that "religion has been part of our lives",  and for most of us these beliefs were developed not through a logical process, but simply through our family and social settings, and we never dared or cared to question those views.

We all also know of some truly noble people that choose to put everything, including their lives, on the line to fight against the tyranny of a few trying to rule and manipulate others. Yet, you are living in a free country and are not willing to make a choice, because it "caused a spark", and then you blame that on religion????!!! I hardly see your situation as being "between a rock and hard place"... you simply did not want to rock the boat you were smoothly sailing in.  Or alternatively, you truly did not love that girl as you believed you did.

It is quite noble that you love and respect your family and don't wish to cause them tension... but at some point in our adult life, don't we also have the responsibility to rise above that and live according to our own values.   Is any price too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself? You can only grow in life if you meet life honestly and courageously, and shape your own destany based on your principles.  You can't blindly follow your family's wishes for your personal life. All people, including your family that loves and cares about you should also respect your wishes for your own life.

Religions are indeed about "unity and compassion and understanding".  Are YOU??

If you truly "wish for the day that we are all citizen of the world without any boundary placed by religion in your lives" then you should do what Gandhi said "become the change you wish to see in the world."

Religion and marriage
Mehran Ahmadi

Religion has been part of our lives if we want to believe it or not. I remember when I was growing up I would wake up to the sound of Azan every morning or the sound of Azan and prayer in middle of the night during the month of Ramadan. Then the summer would come and the Quran study schools just like Bible study clubs. Every morning I had to drag myself to the class yet to hear some of the verses that sounded very interesting. And of course the Revolution increased my exposure more to the religion. Until I moved to the United States about 17 years ago.

When I moved here, I had the same ideology as I had back home. Since I had a background in religion (not expertise I might add), I was fascinated by the diverse forms of religions I observed here. I started learning more and more about different religions. I realized that some ideology of other religions that I studied sounded the same at least in some areas. Specifically speaking, areas that are related to the individuality and inner peace and self preservation. So, I changed my view toward other religions. I was more open minded or I thought I was.

About 3 years ago, I met a girl of my dream. It was hard for me to believe we were so compatible. Our views about life, hobbies, life style,...... . It was like a fairy tale. But there was one problem and a big one too. We did not have the same religious background. I was not religious nor was she. So, that caused a spark. Mainly in family of mine and that caused me to loose a dear friend and a love of my life. I was between a rock and a hard place.

Now religion has lost the meaning that it had for me. Religions are supposed to be about unity and compassion and understanding. Now I realize that religions dictate our lives one way or the other. If we go to the core of our being, we realize that our life and the decisions we make in our life are affected by religion. Decisions that can change our life forever.

I wish for the day that we are all citizen of the world without any boundary placed by our religions in our lives.

Thanks for your time.

Sanaz Fotouhi

‘My childhood was like ahsh, like soup with beans and noodles and spices and yoghurt and lemon juice -- contradicting tastes and smells and hopes and ideas.’ -- The Fortune Catcher

Diaspora does that to one. Makes one feel like a mess of conflicting and contradictory ideologies and notions. Yes, we try to let the psychologists, counsellors, and sociologists explain these feelings by attaching isms and theorizing them into a phenomenon that is shared across the world by the T.C.Ks (Third Culture Kids). The fact of the matter is that by allowing them to do so we are trying to make ourselves feel better, it’s consolation in which being a Diaspora and not belonging becomes a thing into which we belong. Much has been done on people as such as subjects of behavioural experiments to understand them, and I could sit here until eternity citing and reviews such works.

Or better still I could rant on about my experiences as a walking ideological, cultural, national contradiction. But I cannot get very far in communicating or connecting to many. Yes, it will make people feel sorry, and sad, and maybe even impressed, but the reality is that one needs to find a more profound way of communicating. One that is more memorable than rantings on a weblog or online journals. As Diaspora if we are to tell the world of our stories, of our hardships, cultural conflicts, and to share our memories, it needs to be through a systematic method, and one which is recognized and accepted throughout the world.

Within the last two decades or so, after the revolution in Iran, many Iranians have begun doing so through writing their stories and publishing them for the world. Some of them, like Azar Nafisi, have become well known across the world. Unfortunately for many of us, writers with power feel that in order to be taken seriously and to make their story come across more dramatically they need to step on or degrade what has been left behind, to make a mockery of a culture and traditions which has taken years to build. Hardly ever does a writer talk about the still beautiful land they have left behind. Perhaps they are afraid to believe it is still beautiful for it will make their heart ache with pain at the thought of not being to go back and having lost the paradise that was forever.

As writers, publishing anything, even on a weblog not visited often, we have a responsibility to whatever cultural background from which we come from, and we should take that seriously when projecting an image unto the world.

Sanaz Fotouhi is a PhD candidate at the Australian National University researching on Post-Revolutionary Iranian writers in English. She has a BA and MPhil in English literature from the University of Hong Kong. She has lived in Iran, Japan, the States, and Hong Kong and speaks English, Persian and Spanish. 

Iranian characters
Yassaman Jalali

Iranain authors and even Iranian characters in books are showing up more and more on the literary scene. For example I just came across these 4 new books, 2 with Iranian authors, 2 with Iranian characters:

* Digging to America
by Anne Tyler (she is the late Taghi Moddaressi's wife)
* The Rug Merchant
by Meg Mullins
* My Father's Notebook
by Kader Abdolah
* Jumping Over Fire
by Nahid Rachlin

A wonderful gift
Sadaf Kiani

I am leaving for Tehran on April 10th and thought it would be a wonderful gift, for our underprivileged children in Iran, for our new year Nowruz, if each of us could give a gift to them. If we each donate a box of colour pencils, water colour, paint brush, paper, children's painting books, or any other supplies which would help them to be creative and happy in the new year. Please contact me if you are interested in participating in this project or if you could assist me in organizing the collection and shipping of the supplies. The deadline for collecting and organizing the shipment would be April 6th.

Solidarity concert

Mahdad Salimi

I'll make this short and sweet. Let's get off our collective behinds and face those who are running this country that we call our Motherland head on. Enough already with the selfishness, self-promotion and disjointed token opposition to benefit a certain group or organization and let's focus on taking aim at making wholesale changes in the Iranian society, and ensure the world knows that any military intervention under the guise of excluding Iran from the Nuclear Club is unacceptable. Let' form a union NOW, hold our hands together and for once, be one and attain what has long alluded us. Nobody can be excluded, as long as you have no blood on your hands. Can we come together for once? I know our people did during the Revolution (although it got hijacked later), and we can do it again.

We can start by asking all of our singers, artists and other people of social stature in the Persian community to come together for an unprecedented concert. Heck, may be we can even enlist some non-Iranian artists, etc to join us. A simple idea, isn't it?- what on God's green earth are we waiting for? The time is NOW- not after our beloved country sustains a irreversible and mullah-boosting attack by George W.'s war machine or his cronies in Israel. I hope this will trigger a snowball effect and we can get this project off the ground. So far, one person is interested- are YOU?

Enemy du jour

Manouchehr Mehrparvar

I came to the U.S. in April 1973 at age 12. By age 17 or so, when I was a senior in high school, I already knew that Americans needed a common enemy in order to be united. Starting in the 1950s, the enemy was communism and its symbol was the old Soviet Union.

With the end of the cold war, for the past decade or so, there was no real enemy. It's true that attempts were made to vilify Qaddafi of Libya or Khomeini in Iran, these figures weren't a big enough evil. Everyone knew that the U.S. could erase Iran or Libya off the surface of the planet in a few hours.

A handful of neocons, in their search for the new enemy, re-discovered Islam. Slowly but surely, these neocons have accomplished their goals of vilifying Islam to a point that its now seen as the biggest threat by majority of Christians and Jews in U.S., Europe and Australia.

Granted that Muslims, just by virtue of being mostly fanatic Arabs, have helped shape the world view of Islam, by acts of "terrorism" here and there. It would have been a lot more beneficial to them if the Muslims of the world would unite and become a economic force that could negotiate with the West. Instead, for the past 40 years they have concentrated on hating Jews, eliminating Israel and oppressing women. In some ways, I sometimes feel that Muslims deserve what they have gotten from the West.

As for the West, and by that I mean the U.S. and the U.K. for the most part, Islam will serve its purpose of uniting people against an evil enemy and in the mean time, the network of good old boys in NY and Washington D.C. will reap the rewards for decades to come.

Up and away

Hooman Golshan

he was looking in the mirror, trying to recognize the shell of the man that was looking back at him.... the reflection was a stranger... his eyes had the look of apathy..... but, behind that apathy was plenty of meaning.... he could read them all too clearly.... they were the eyes of someone who had been in solitary confinement all too long.... "do you have a key to open this door and set me free?"

that was the question the eyes were asking...."i used to be free... but one day, i volutarily walked into this cage.... can you please let me out? before this door finally closes?" the man looked more closely at his own reflection.... he started to think back to the beginning... to when he was free.... to when he was a man and master of his own time.... but those days were long gone....

gone were the days when he could do what he wanted and when he wanted.... now he no longer knew when or what or how.... he knew nothing... all he knew was that he had been caged... caged for a long long time.... he could feel the rage building in him... it would seep through his skin, pour out in the form of tears...

then in a moment of sheer rage, he punched the mirror... the glass shattered.... he looked through the mirror and saw a brief opening in time... back to when he was free.... before the portal could close, he dove through and landed on the other side.... there was that child again.... he spread his wings, and soared up, up and away towards the sky.... never looking back.... at least he was free....

First, let me put on my seatbelt

Siamack Baniameri

An Arab acquaintance once said that invading Persia and forcing Persians to convert to Islam was the biggest mistake Arabs made. He said we Persians took a respectable religion and made a mockery of it. Well, I guess that's what defeated nations do. Reza Taheri-Azar's attempted SUV assassination of students at UNC is another testimonial on Iranians' ostentatious devotion to Islam. While Arab suicide bombers demolish themselves for the glory of Allah, Taheri-Azar (an Iranian Moslem) attempted to follow suit from the comfort of his SUV with airbag and seatbelt in place to minimize possible injuries to himself. "I am ready to send infidels to hell, but first, let me put on my seatbelt."

Field of mud

Nema Milaninia

In front of the Persian Center in Berkeley, was a beautiful garden symbolizing the central importance of nature to Iranian culture and heritage. Following this year’s Chahar Shanbeh Soori in Berkeley the garden is utterly destroyed, its grasses dead, many of its beautiful flowers uprooted, thus transforming the area from a garden into a field of mud. Maybe the hundreds of Iranians that gathered at the Persian Center, or even its board of directors, forgot that the importance of Nowruz is not only about dancing, swapping dollar bills, and family, but includes the appreciation for life and environment. If the Persian Center garden was intended to symbolize our cultural appreciation for nature, its destruction has certainly illustrated the opposite.

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Latest news
from the Middle East
Siamack Baniameri

* A paraplegic suicide bomber sued the restaurant he was sent to blow up, for no handicap access.
* A group of Iraqi insurgents with Alzheimer's disease have kidnapped 15 Westerners in north Baghdad. In a videotape aired by Al-Jazira, the kidnappers announced that they have certain demands but they don't remember what they are.
* Iranian news agency reported today that after the completion of genocide conference in Tehran, the Iranian government will sponsor a new conference to examine the validity of earth's gravity. President Ahmadinejad said earth's gravity is a "conspiracy orchestrated by the Zionists and the US to keep us grounded."

Lousy shot

Guive Mirfendereski

I am not curious about Taheri-azar's state of mental health. Like Afshin [Like we need more bad publicity], I am worried about what inference others may draw about Iranians based on his actions. I truly am saddened by the sheer incompetence of this Iranian SUV-bomber. Here is a guy who drove a multi-ton SUV into a crowd of sittinnnnnnnnnnnnng duckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkks, like firing a shot gun into a barrel full of fish, but managed to injure just a few.

The inference that others -- like the US military -- may draw from this is that the sons of the Resolute Nation are lousy shots. The inference that the Department of Home Land Security may draw from this guy's action is that there is nothing to worry about when it comes to alleged Iranian sleeper cells around the world ready to avenge attacks on the homeland when Ahmadinejad gives the go ahead.

Khaak bar sare maa mardhaa!

Ali Hakkak

As reported by several news agencies from inside Iran, people gathering at the Daneshjoo park to celebrate March 8 Women’s day were attacked harshly by the Iranian police. There is word that Simin Behbahani, poet and activist who was just released from a hospital several days ago is among the group beaten by the police forces.

In any normal society, in case something like this happens the government and the police will not get away with that, easily. Iran is a different story! This is not the first time such obvious civil rights violations happen and it will not be the last one from what we see. What about the backlash? Well there is none!

There is no democratic infrastructure to prevent such acts. At this point it is completely up to people. We can either choose to sit at home watch satellite programs and drink our illegal booze and shut up when the police and basiji officers ask us to, or stop digressing from “the political opposition” and stick together to form a collective soul. That soul doesn’t exist right now. We are all still hanging on to our MASH GHASSEM stories.

The choice is ours!

Kudos to our women! 

Rafsanjani knows better

Meir Javedanfar

In less than one day after IAEA’s decision regarding Iran, recriminations between Ahmadinejad and Rafsanjani have already started.

In his speech in the Lorestan province Ahmadinejad stated that ”enemies of Iran have come to rely on a number of elements inside the country, we are aware of the political relations between them”.  Later on, it was reported in Farda news that Rafsanjani has complained about attacks against him by a certain pro Ahmadinejad web site.

Ahmadinejad denied this openly and he said that he has only had limited relationship with the website in question, and that was in the past. The name of the website has not been mentioned in the report. Meanwhile the same article states that government officials have complained about a pro expediency council news agency which has attacked Ahmadinejad. Please note that the head of the Expediency council is Rafsanjani, and the most closely associated news agency with that Council is called Baztab. It has been offline all morning. Technical problems? Perhaps. However it must be noted that Baztab has been complaining recently that it has been under pressure from pro - Ahmadinejad elements. The timing seems suspicious.

It is a known fact that there is no love lost between the two. Ahmadinejad views Rafsanjani as very corrupt, and an obstacle for his plans to increase spending and fight cronyism. Ahmadinejad also views Rafsanjani’s relations with a west as a threat to his plans for “dealing” with the west.

On the other hand, Rafsanjani views Ahmadinejad as inexperienced, right wing, and a threat to Iran’s standing in the international arena. Rafsanjani is also very concerned, and with reason, that Iran is simply not ready for sanctions.

It is true that the sanctions will most probably not lead to regime change, but they will hurt the regime and the people, and Rafsanjani was there first hand when he had to clear up the economic mess after the Iraqi invasion of Iran. So he knows the costs, and the challenges. He also realizes that Ahmadinejad’s calls for return to simpler lifestyle don’t have as much an audience as they did in early 1980 and even 1990s. Iran of 2006 is much more of a consumer society. Also if sanctions are imposed, the economic weakness will lead to discontent, and with the US sitting on Iran’s borders, such weakness will be taken advantage of.

Iran’s referral to the UN security council was a defeat for Rafsanjani’s efforts to tame Ahmadinejad’s uncompromising stance. With victory comes responsibility. Its all in Ahmadinejad’s hands now. Rafsanjani will watch from the sidelines, but not for long. The Pistachio merchant from Rafsanjan knows that he will be needed in the future again by Khamenei, and when that happens, he will be in a better position to name his price.

Meir Javedanfar is a Middle East Analyst and the Director for the Middle East Economic and Political Analysis Company,

You go wives!


Many of us, specially us men, have heard stories about our single and married friends going to Iran to "clean their pipes", more than once. Lets face it, from what I hear, you can buy the company of a good looking young woman in Tehran, Shiraz, Mashhad etc for the duration of the evening for $50. I haven't shopped for professional female accompaniment in a real long time but I am guessing it costs a lot more here in Los Angeles or Las Vegas. Plus, it is very difficult for the wife to find out when she is thousands of miles away.

And good looking may be an understatement when it comes to the new generation of young men and women in Iran. I don't know about you, but every time I see pictures from Iran, majority of girls and guys are very good looking, tall, fit and fashionably dressed.

A few nights ago in a dinner party, I heard that many women in Los Angeles are not putting up with their husband's philanderings anymore. Basically after they happily agree for their spouses to go to Iran to "visit family" or "take care of unfinished business", and see him off at LAX, these house wives call their special young boyfriends.

These so called boyfriends are generally young, good looking, American or khAreji guys in their mid to late twenties with no need for Viagra. It is alleged that there is a madam in LA who caters to the frustrated wives of cheating men as easy as one can call a 310 area code telephone number. I didn't get an idea about the cost in case you are interested. Nor do I have the telephone number!

I am by no means promoting, or justifying cheating for anyone. Additionally, with all thats going on with AIDS, I think its exteremly stupid to have this type of casual sex. And that's nothing to say about the moral issues of adultry.

But after hearing the story, I couldn't stop thinking and saying (not out loud of course) YOU GO GIRLS.

I'd like to see if this trend would become as acceptable in our culture as it is for married men to go to Iran to take care of beezeeness.

Los Angeles

Tap this

Siamack Baniameri

I heard that the U.S. National Security Administration has wiretapped phone conversations of thousands of Middle Easterners. As a precautionary measure I have limited my phone sex to only 2 hours a night.

Free hate against Muslims?

Nema Milaninia

A Republican student organization at the University of California Irvine displayed the caricatures of Mohammad at an event concerning “Islamic terrorism.” [See] From the looks of it, the student organization made no efforts to incorporate Muslim students on campus or even gauge their opinion. When a large group of students protested against the depiction and its use in the event, they were branded as “fascists” and “traitors.” While we should all support freedom of speech, is there any doubt that use of such caricatures in this event and promoting it under the notion of “freedom of speech” simply a justified method of attacking, ridiculing, and displaying hate against Muslims? As a friend of mine most eloquently noted:

“It’s not just about ‘demonstrating for the freedom of speech.’ There are many things I could say but don’t because I don’t want to be perceived as actually believing those things.  Freedom of speech provides the freedom for an individual or group to speak their mind, so if a group is going to show the images knowing what they mean and how others perceive them, then it can only be concluded that that is there belief.  In effect, the issue is never about ‘look what we CAN say,’ but rather ‘this is what we ARE saying.’”

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Hamas outsourced to India

Siamack Baniameri

Hamas opened a call center to assist suicide bombers with bomb-making technical questions. The call center was later outsourced to India. Hamas suicide bombers have been complaining that language barriers and accent problems have created mishaps, resulting in some bombs detonating prematurely. In one instance the Indian call center analyst told the would-be suicide bomber: "Be calm and do not twitch." However the suicide bomber heard: "Hold the bomb and push the switch."

Daei's stamina


You know Ali Daie is not only going to play in the game against Costa Rica today (don't forget to bring your flash lights, by the way), but he also declared yesterday that he'll be playing until he's 40, this despite calls from quite a few people for him to step down. Basically, he has a lot of fans pissed-off at his perseverance in still wanting to play football at a professional level at his age. The point is he's been showing a lot of stamina at 37 and this is perhaps one reason for some football fans to get even more pissed-off.

Anyway, this reminds me of a conversation I once overheard. I think this dude had just lost his grandfather. Somebody next to him was trying to find out how the old man had died.

"Oh, he got out of the bed and..."
"He fell?"
"Well yes, but that's not how he died. He got up, went to the bathroom and..."
"He slipped while taking a shower?"
"Well he did, but that's not how he died. He got out of the shower, made some breakfast and..."
"He choked on something hard?"
"Well he did, but that's not how he died. His young mistress came over and..."
"He had a heart-attack while making love to his mistress?"
"Well no, he actually had sex with her several times. But it was when he took the dog out afterwards that..."
"The dog attacked him?"
"Well that happened too, but he actually bit the dog and.."
"He died because the dog was ill?"
"No, actually it was the dog that died because he bit too hard..."
"Alright then, so how did he die?"
"Nothing, I just got tired of the whole situation at that point and shot him myself."

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