Saturday, June 28, 2003

10 appalling lies about Iraq (high on Blogdex but not daypop or popdex).

Menas Associates wrote their monthly Iran report: part 1 and part 2. There were some interesting eyewitness reports of the protests.

Most interesting of all was the frontpage symposium (via iranvajahan). I have so much to say about it, but I'll sit on my hands for now.

I should have talked about Ledeen again. He
wrote "...Western reporters there are on a tight leash — the regime has banned all journalists and photographers from the sites of demonstrations, so the "reports" are almost always based on second-hand information". Now that isn't true. The reporters who I know are too busy reporting to waste time correcting such statements. I don't want to waste time either. But I felt I had to write because other influential bloggers write rubbish like "Mr. Ledeen is the best informed Western journalist on the situation in Iran." Does FOX News have a correspondent here yet??

What is a good idiomatic way to translate "ghofl-e-kar kojast?"

I'm going to the UK for 9 days, so I want to relax and not think about politics. Sorry if I haven't replied to your email yet.

Here's a simple chess challenge for you from a fun game of mine yesterday. What is my (White's) best move? (diagram thanks to epd2diag)

1. e4 e5 2. f4 d5 3. ed Qd5 4. Nc3 Qd4? 5. Nf3 Qf4 6. d4 Qf5 7. de Bb4 8. Bd3 Bc3 9. bc Qh5 10. Bg5 Bg4?

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

In this surreal world, Americans and Australians get to see Jafar Panahi's latest film Crimson Gold before Iranians (if it's ever shown here). On the same site, Deep Breath (another Iranian film) is reviewed, and the film Paradise is somewhere else is showing at the Karlovy Vary festival. Kiarostami is visiting the Melbourne festival:

"One of the reasons we pursued quite vigorously to have Kiarostami to come to Australia is because our view of the Middle East is completely 'media-tised'," [the director] said.

"It's important to bring him in here to say, if nothing else, there is a rich cultural life in Iran."

The last sentence has two interpretations: I could twist it to mean "even if there is no other kind of life in Iran, a rich cultural life exists"!

Yesterday I saw A house built on water which I thought was pretentious. It pushes the boundaries of acceptability, so a heavily censored version was shown.

Monday, June 23, 2003

I can kill two birds with one stone. I wanted to discuss safety at work in Iran. If you come to Iran, you will see taxis with no seatbelts, people working on jackhammers without ear protection, people welding without masks, people riding girders at construction sites to the tops of buildings, and definitely no hard hats. Perhaps you will also see some graffiti about 18 Tir (July 9) which the construction workers partially erased out of fear. They are afraid of the government, but not bricks falling on their heads. They are also boiling tar in barrels with an open flame...

I am drooling over the G5. But how will I afford the dual 2Ghz G5, a new laptop with wireless, and do all the travel I want to do?
So I'm being quoted by Mark Steyn, (who has become an editor for The Spectator) after the mention by Michael Ledeen. My humorous comment concerns whether Muslims are praying less regularly in Tehran, and I can't interview everyone and find out. I just rely on what I see and statistics. (By the way it's easy to find "The Economist" in Tehran but I've never seen "The Spectator".)

There's a bad pun at the end too... "Ayatollah, Don't Khomeini Closer". I am moved to quote Bob Monkhouse as his pun hasn't appeared on the Net yet - "to make a pun about an Israeli, Israeli impossible!"

Oh I don't know what to write about today! I'll just give links. ML Kotru writes about his experiences in Iran in 1979. He calls Khamenei a "high priest" which makes me think of Judaism.

An American is visiting Iran. One of the people with him/her has delusions of uniqueness about that: "A said that I might be the first American to visit Arak. Somehow I doubt that.", cool analogies to American phrases: "The Koran Belt" and observations about banks: "Life in Iran will break you one way or another." I say the main problem is a lack of self-criticism, but he/she says there's a culture of victimhood: "Unfortunately a lot of Iranians like to be victims and are still waiting for god, in the form of Uncle Sam, to come and free them." Also, traffic is like Tetris! Ah, I wish I could come up with these kinds of analogies and comparisons, but it takes effort. I'd rather type and not think. I have a book called How to be more interesting which my sister gave me which should help, if I ever got around to reading it.

There are many Americans in Iran, but they keep a lower profile than this. The bad old days of being arrested for being American are long gone. Any American considering visiting, do come, if you have visa problems, ask at Thorn Tree, because some Americans are reporting success in obtaining visas. Even if you're female and travelling alone.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

An "intelligence official" working for Hekmatyar? He must have described himself as that. Would the Associated Press have described someone working for bin Laden like that? Until February 2002, Hekmatyar used to live in Niavaran, an exclusive suburb of north Tehran, and was once expelled from the military academy in Kabul for homosexuality. (Read the book Afghanistan Behind the Smoke Screen for more dirt on him.)