Saturday, July 12, 2003

Today my officemate told me he visited the education ministry and there were long lines of people wanting a teaching job. Guess what the salary is? You teach 24 hours a week for about 60000 tomans a month ($US75)!! I found it really hard to believe, but I don't think he'd lie. So if you think you have it bad, someone here always has it worse. This blog is not representative at all of the general Iranian population, in fact I always wonder if a person just having net access at all makes him/her unrepresentative.
Canadian journalist dies, apparently of injuries inflicted by Iranian police. (I read it first at hoder.) Remember all the stories about how it's Arab mercenaries who are beating up Iranians, not Iranians themselves? Usually when terrible things happen they can be blamed on the "other" be it Ansar or Arabs (or before the revolution, Israelis). (The police sometimes join in, as on 18 Tir.) The third-person plural pronoun is always used: they will beat you up if you go to the protests, they have arrested the student leaders. It's often used as a way of deflecting any sort of responsibility for what happens, or feeling better about oneself - it's "them" who did it, not me or us. Self-criticism entails that Iranians accept some sort of collective responsibility for the things this awful government does.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Student leaders arrested.

"In the presence of foreign journalists, the students were grabbed, pistols put to their temples, their arms twisted behind their backs. Other attackers waved weapons in the air and ordered the journalists to stand back."

Remember, people call for a boycott of Myanmar's tourism, because they've rearrested Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel peace prize winner, but they have only 1500 political prisoners whereas the IRI government arrested 8000 in the last few weeks. I guess that's because Burma has no oil??

I've been linking too much to English news.

How you can buy anything in Iran

Gun - It's not possible to buy it in Tehran, I don't think, but go to border areas with Afghanistan. It will cost at least 2,000,000 tomans ($US2500).
Motorcycle - It's illegal to have a bike over 250cc, and most people only have 125cc bikes. (Unless you have mullah friends or are from another country.) But I know people with 400cc and 900cc bikes. The 400cc bike for example was smuggled from Dubai (4,000,000 tomans).
Stolen Western Passport/Forged Visa - This will cost A LOT but where there is DEMAND, there is a WAY. That is, for those who don't want to claim they are homosexuals or communists or have the government call them that...
Virginity Restoration - Hymenorraphy (or hymenoplasty) is a simple operation, although a pathetic idea! In the movie "khanei ruye ab" the male gynecologist suggests 800,000 tomans to a prospective patient, but I think it's way too much (see US price - $5000-$10000! or Turkish price). It must cost less than LASIK or a nose job (rhinoplasty), and those are cheaper but far more complicated operations. So if I'm wrong about anything please comment.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

If in your resume you mention Iran you might be a potential terrorist! Also if your name is "Muhammad Ali" that's bad too (I found that a bit hard to believe.)

Businesses in Tehran warned of earthquake risk. It talks about all the terrible disasters that could occur, and then says: "Mr. Danesh called on the local authorities in the area to further examine the twenty crisis mitigation proposals that his Center has drawn up."

First, bus in lots of people from the countryside to stand around weeping and hitting their chests, then Mr Khamenei can come on the TV and say "My heart is broken." Oh I have to stop now, I've become too cynical.

Nojavan is a great blog which moved from Persian to English. What can people do if they don't want to be "served" by mullahs??

Free Iran!

What is going to happen to this country? I don't think it's possible to remove 2500 years of estebdad (arbitary rule) in just a few years. I feel ambivalent. That's why this song is so meaningful to me. Almost every line applies to Iran. Nothing really changed. Who are the mullahs grooming to replace Khatami? Larijani? Mohajerani?

I was going to put pictures to go with the words but I'm sick and I should work.

Won't Get Fooled Again by Pete Townshend

We'll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgement of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again

The change, it had to come
We knew it all along
We were liberated from the fold, that's all
And the world looks just the same
And history ain't changed
'Cause the banners, they are flown in the next war

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
No, no!

I'll move myself and my family aside
If we happen to be left half alive
I'll get all my papers and smile at the sky
Though I know that the hypnotized never lie
Do ya?

There's nothing in the streets
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
And the parting on the left
Are now parting on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
Don't get fooled again
No, no!


Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Oh No! I'd heard of Tehrangeles, now there is Tehranto. (Persian blog.)
British journalist killed in Iraq. This Guardian article and Scotsman article examine some of the possible reasons for his death and give a biography.

"I don’t think he really appreciated the dangers of anything," his father said.

It's not the right time for anyone to visit Iraq.

Millionaire Mullahs.

"They were not rich people, so they worked hard and always tried to help their relatives get ahead," remembers Reza, a historian who declines to use his last name and who studied with one of Rafsanjani's brothers at Tehran University in the early 1970s. "When they were in university, two brothers earned money on the side tutoring theological students and preparing their exam papers."

Michael Corleone:
Fredo, you're my older brother and I love you, but don't ever take sides with anyone against the family again. Ever.

"Many small businessmen complain that as soon as you start to make some money, the leading mullah will come to you and ask for a contribution to his local charity," says an opposition economist, who declines to give his name. "If you refuse, you will be accused of not being a good Muslim. Some witnesses will turn up to testify that they heard you insult the Prophet Mohammad, and you will be thrown in jail." The Cosa Nostra meets fundamentalism.

[After being asked how he will arrange to buy a hotel from Moe Greene]

Michael Corleone:
I'll make him an offer he can't refuse.

"I am just a normal person, with normal wealth," [Rafiqdoost] says.

Hyman Roth: I am just a retired investor on a pension.

Both Iranian twins die in operation. RIP, it was a courageous decision for them to try to undertake it in the first place. As you can imagine everyone at my work is unhappy about this.

Monday, July 07, 2003

"This war on terror will continue until every enemy who plots against the American people is confronted and defeated." Sometimes I think Bush (in this case Cheney) just has to grow a beard and it would be very difficult to tell him from Khamenei. It just sounds sooo familiar, because this phrase: "enemy plot" is used in Iran ad infinitum ad nauseum. Americans haven't been inoculated against this idea through leaders who have no idea how to govern except by blaming other people... I'm trying to think if in the history of the US, this phrase has been used before - I don't think even McCarthy used it, so maybe Cheney did get it from the mullahs? I hope the American people's self-criticism will help them to see through their political leaders' acts. (I found the quote by typing "enemy plots" into - once, all you would get was Iran results, now all you see is US results!)
I've returned to Iran. I have some vignettes to share...

One day I was talking with Brendan McKay who is visiting Iran in August. Professor McKay has done much work explaining the "Bible Code" phenomenon to people in lectures and over the Internet. He's given many lectures in Israel explaining that the phenomenon can be found in any large text, for example "Moby Dick". Now, he suggested that he could talk about "Koran Codes" in Iran - how the number 19 occurs in strange ways, for example. But he was joking and I didn't realise it! It is unfortunately completely impossible and absolutely verboten to talk about things like that in Iran and leave alive - just look at Aghajari for example. It is not possible to say things like "the Koran changed over time" or to investigate it scientifically or properly. It's much worse than the New York Times article from last year describing the situation in the USA...

"Between fear and political correctness,
it's not possible to say anything other than sugary
nonsense about Islam," said one scholar at an American
university who asked not to be named, referring to the
threatened violence as well as the widespread reluctance on
United States college campuses to criticize other cultures.

"The Muslims have the benefit of hindsight of the
European experience, and they know very well that once you
start questioning the holy scriptures, you don't know where
it will stop," the scholar explained.

You can talk about how the Torah changed in Israel, but not how the Koran changed in Iran. It's a religious development issue, and when it's possible to discuss everything freely Iran will be a stronger society. Just look at the societies where these issues can be discussed.

Christopher de Bellaigue is writing a book about Iran! He is the Economist correspondent in Iran and is quite level-headed, unlike the (cough, cough) so-called American "correspondents" I fulminate regularly against.

Hoder asked how people could learn more about Iran and its people. I have a good suggestion - I've mentioned it here before. There's a book I bought in the UK called Persepolis about a girl born in 1969 growing up in Tehran. It's a magnificently illustrated cartoon book and has both hilarious and poignant dialogue. If you want to know more about Iran go out and buy it. Now.

Now it's time to go and answer all that email!