Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The illusion of reality and the reality of illusions

Why is it so easy to hate and so hard to love? Is it because my world has been giving me nothing but hatred? Is it because I don't see anything but harm, aggression and abuse in this world, acted and experienced by others?

Are people, who deny what I just wrote, ignorant? Are they delusional? Do they want to live in illusions?

Am I crazy? Can’t I just see that human beings are generally loving and compassionate beings? Am I?

Is there any truth to say about all these questions? Does anyone know the answers?

I’m running out of question marks, not out of questions.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

What’s been happening recently?

Well, for starters, Dr. Rice has assured the world community that the U.S. does not torture political detainees. It’s not really clear to me what she meant by “political detainees”. I thought “political detainees” only existed in countries where the human rights and freedom of speech are systematically violated. But the U.S.? Come one! Was the “home of the free” not the oldest democracy in the world? If Rice was talking about the Guantanamo prisoners, that’s even worse. First of all, it has been well-documented by independent observers that indeed torture methods are being applied in Guantanamo and similar places. Second, the Guantanamo detainees are not not officially political prisoners, nor are they classified by the U.S. government as “prisoners of war”. We all know why. The recognition of those people as “prisoners”, according to an existing legal definition, would automatically give them certain rights that prevent the U.S. to treat them they way it is doing now.

Another news: participating countries at the world conference on climate change agreed to negotiate a new treaty regarding the global warming. Of course, the U.S., being the asshole as usual, apposed the negotiations in advance.

I was watching MTV, and I learned that some celebrities buy diamond necklaces worth of 50,000 dollars……. for their dogs. When I was living in Tanzania, I could manage to live with two or three dollars a day, something the majority of Tanzanians cannot.

Ahmadinejad has, once again, created a commotion by his latest remarks about Israel. He has said that if Europe is so supportive of the state of Israel, why don’t Germany or Austria donate a few provinces to Israel so the Jewish state can “move” to Europe, instead of occupying Palestinian land. Although I found Ahmadinejad’s point extremely amusing, I seriously started to doubt whether this guy is not a total moron. Regardless of the truth about Israel, I don’t think a head of state should say things like this, without considering their consequences. He’s damaging his country and his statements do no good for the Iranian people.

I'm having a serious relationship problem. I don't know what to do, and feel like shit....

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Airport

I like Airports. I think they are sociologically interesting spaces; places where diverse human emotions and interpersonal attitudes come into expression. Some people gaze at the terminal gate in hopeful anticipation, scanning every face that passes by. Some even have flowers in their hands. Others spend the last moments with their friends and family, knowing the days of separation will start soon.

On Sunday, I accompanied a friend of mine to the Airport. She came to visit me on Friday and was then on her way to South Africa. We were standing in the check-in line, having a conversation about my work. I heard someone speaking Farsi behind me. I took a quick look at him, and carried on with the conversation. He was a normal looking man and wore a mustache. In my quick scan, I couldn’t see who he was talking to.

A few minutes later, I turned around to check out the surrounding, when I suddenly saw him. I recognized him instantly. I looked away. Thoughts came into my mind. I knew him since I was a young boy. In a way, he represented my forgotten past, a period I had lost contact with a long time ago. I’ve always had a great amount of respect for him, and for years, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to go and see him… it never happened.

I turned around, looked into his eyes, and smiled, “Mr. Shajarian?” I heard myself saying.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

French riots



I find the French riots very disturbing, not because I live in a city with a similar ethnic composition as Paris, but because of the way the developments have been presented through the media. They’ve twisted the reality in such a way that a lot of people don’t even know why the youth in French towns are burning cars or throwing stones at the police. Of course, I’m not talking about the critical media. But hey, who looks for anything else than CNN and other crappy channels, except for a small group?

I don’t support violence against innocent citizens. But I do like the idea behind this uprising. It’s the outrage of the underclass, the oppressed, and the dominated. It’s the classic Marx’s theory put in practice. Of course, a segment of the unrest may have been caused by people who have nothing better to do, but let’s not delegitimize the protests entirely.

The way the riots have been presented in the media is, however, is a completely different story. First of all, the media have transformed the problem from an issue related to social-economical class to a multi-cultural drama. In doing this, they have placed the riots at the heart of the current public discourse in Europe about the multi-cultural society. Indeed, in the beginning, the riots were caused by “youth in underdeveloped neighborhoods”, then they suddenly changed it to “immigrant youth”, and a few days later the media were talking about “Muslim youth”. It was only then that the media could “really” blame the protesters. Within a few days time, people were already talking about the multi-cultural catastrophe in Paris, wondering why the hell these Muslims can’t integrate in their oh so great society and fearing an expansion of the riots to other European cities. The public opinion didn’t need much evidence. The fear of Muslims is intuitive, always there and easily activated. There was no mention of the fact that African French people were also taking part in the riots, no mention of the fact that those people who were screaming on streets, have been treated as second rank citizens all their lives, no mention of the fact that they have been left to perish in nasty neighborhoods with no prospect on a job or a decent life. What goes around comes around, folks!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Cyberia

vampire666: hey there
blue_phantom: hi
vampire666: how r u doing?
la_confidential2004: is there a nice lady who wants to pm?
blue_phantom: alright. yourself?
psycho_ag left the room
vampire666: doin great. asl pls
blue_phantom: what?
lonely_gurl enters the room
vampire666: asl, age sex location
blue_phantom: 25 male fl. You?
vampire666: m too
vampire666: hey, lonely. How r u doing?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Author unknown



Never hold your farts in... they travel up your spine, into your brain...and that's where shitty ideas come from!!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Against the wind

I recognized my pain, but I did not indulge in it. For years, I marched against the wind. The harder it blew, the faster I walked. I saluted the cold rain when others took refuge. I saluted my breathlessness, brokenness, and sorrow. Those were the moments I felt most alive, most dedicated, and most determined. And now… There is simply no pain to inspire. Only the anguish of purposelessness and indulgence. This is my story; welcome to my narrative of suffering.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Ahmadinejad and Israel



The president of the Islamic Republic (of Iran) (a few years ago I wouldn’t have to mention Iran, but now thanks to the recent invasions, we have the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and the Republic of Iraq may be on its way to become Islamic as well) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has spoken some unfriendly words about Israel at a conference in Tehran entitled “The World without Zionism”. Apparently, he has stated that the Jewish state should be “wiped off the map”. I can’t imagine that the Iranian readers of this blog would be surprised by Ahmadinejad’s opinion. That’s what we’ve been hearing from the Islamic regime for the last 20 something years anyway. I have yet to see the first Iranian politician at the government or legislative level to openly recognize the state of Israel. It’s the regime’s official policy. It transcends presidents and political parties. And that’s something the world is very well aware of. For years, Iran has been supporting anti-Israel movements with material and people. That’s a fact; everyone knows it. But surprisingly, Ahmadinejad’s speech has provoked many “hot” reactions across the western world as if the western politics has been sleeping for the last 27 years. For instance, white House spokesman, Scott McClellan, has said that Ahmadinejad’s speech "… underscores the concerns we have about Iran's nuclear operations." Some European countries, and of course Israel itself, have come up with similar statements.

Take one more look at the quote above. See how the same old story of Iran’s problem with the state of Israel is now directly linked to its nuclear operation. I think that the ever-present Iranian policy towards Israel is being used to further pressure Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions. Above all, the U.S. wouldn’t mind if the situation escalates through all this commotion about a single speech. Maybe then is a referral to the Security Counsel more feasible.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Saddam Trial



I have an issue with the Saddam trial. But, first, let me tell you this: I hate Saddam Hossein for his oppression of the Iraqi people, execution of the opposition and killing a huge number of Iranians and Iraqi-Kurds during the war. But there is something seriously wrong here.

First of all, Saddam is still the president of Iraq, and should, at least according to its law, enjoy immunity. Why is he still the president? Because there hasn’t been an election to lawfully transfer his power to a new head of state. The reason for the regime change was not a referendum, but a foreign invasion that was not even supported by a UN resolution. As Kofi said, the invasion was “illegal”. I conclude from this sentence that the whole regime change was illegal. Hence, the tribunal is illegal as well. What does that mean for the trial itself?

Second, I have a problem with the media coverage. The whole trial is being broadcasted with an approximate delay of 20 to 30 minutes. Why? Officially, they don’t want to allow Saddam to use the trial as a mean to spread his propaganda. That’s the story we see in the majority of the Western newspapers. But I think there is another reason for the censorship. Maybe some people don’t want Saddam to go into some details they don’t wanna hear about, like the fact that the chemical weapons, which he used to kill his own people, were actually made and sold to him by the U.S. and the UK. Or maybe they don’t want him to tell the world that Donald Rumsfeld had a girly handshake….

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Clueless

Apparently, the Bush family has been so involved with the rescue efforts following Katrina, that poor Laura actually forgot the hurricane’s name. The world is impressed by such compassion! But seriously, I'm shattered... I actually thought that George was the only Neanderthal in the family....

Monday, September 12, 2005

Happy Birthday Mencken

"Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority… All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant…."

Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)
Minority Report, 1956

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Rich white folks

Would the Bush administration have reacted quicker, if Katrina had hit Uptown Manhattan?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The "implicit world" of human mind

I've been out of town for a few days. Nothing fancy... just been spending long days inside a cold conference hall, listening to long presentations. The conference was about "implicit cognition". For now, let's say it means unconscious thoughts and attitudes. It seems that I can't focus my attention to anything else than "implicit cognitions", so I first thought of writing something short about the subject. Later I reconsidered, cause I'm not really in the mood for that. But here is a very interesting link to "Project Implicit", set up by Harvard University. On their website, you can find a demonstration of an association test that can give an estimate of your "unconscious" attitudes towards different stuff.

Friday, August 26, 2005

British interpretation of human rights


According to The Guardian, the UK home secretary, Charles Clarke, had said earlier this month that he would deport foreign nationals whose presence was "not conducive to the public good", despite concerns that they might be tortured overseas. I guess he means people whose presence in the UK could promote terrorist acts.

Very well… but what happened to the human rights, if they ever existed? I thought “criminals” too should be protected by human rights regulations. It has been provided by the European Convention on Human Rights (article 3) that “no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. The applicability of this article to cases of extradition and deportation has been repeatedly manifested in decisions of the European Court on Human Rights (see for example the case of Soering vs. the United Kingdom). The prohibition provided by this article is absolute. It permits no justification or limitation and cannot be derogated under Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights even in times of war or other public emergency threatening the life of the nation.

Beside the European Convention on Human Rights, there are other international treaties (i.e., The Geneva Convention and the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment) which expressly and specifically address the question of sending individuals to a country where they will be exposed to the risk of prohibited treatment.

I guess human rights are important only when they justify invading another country. What was it called? Iraqi freedom….

P.s. Some info discussed above is adapted from a paper by Nuala Mole.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Sean Penn in Iran


Prior to the presidential elections in June, Sean Penn has been in Tehran for a few days, doing a series of reports for San Francisco Chronicle. The Chronicle will publish this five-day series in sequence. The reports of the first two days of Penn’s visit is now available online.

I read his first report. Although Penn gives a rather shallow and at times one-dimensional description of Iran’s political and social circumstances, it can be an interesting account, especially for non-Iranians or Iranians who have lost track of all the social changes during the last 15 years. Note that Penn, in his main observations, might have been led by a top-down process, meaning that he wanted to have a certain story and he has sought places and circumstances that could validate his original account. I will comment on his other reports later.

Day one: discovering a culture in conflict
Day two: meeting with the son of a former president

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Keep them happy


This is what Fox News, a.k.a. RPN (Republican Propaganda Network) had to say about Bush's speech before members of the National Guard today.

“Bush also thanked the families of American service men and women in times of heavy sacrifice…. The families are standing for America and America appreciates the service and the sacrifice of the military families," he said. "There are few things more difficult than seeing a loved one go to war."

I guess we’re all used to this sort of nonsense by political leaders in times of great problems. Every person with an ounce of gray material in his head knows that the real purpose behind this speech is not to “thank” the military families. The real objective is to keep people calm, to let them believe that the death of their sons and daughters really does contribute to their own freedom and democracy (I still can’t figure out how Bush and co. came up with this equation…). Surely, the current administration doesn’t want to have another Vietnam. Therefore, the government desperately tries to convince its people of the political, moral and security aspect of its operation in Iraq. We have already witnessed how the administration has navigated through different “reasons” for war, from self-protection to freeing Iraqi people and back again. But apparently this type of deception is not enough; the American people should not see and hear certain information either. For instance, it is not allowed to film coffins, containing dead bodies of American soldiers, when arriving in the U.S. Also, current American casualties in Afghanistan are being systematically concealed. Although the country has had a quasi-election, just prior to the US’s, the situation in Afghanistan has not changed significantly. The security is almost non-existent in large parts of the country. Even in Kabul, the “allies” have not succeeded in creating an acceptable level of security. As a matter of fact the situation in Afghanistan is so terrible, that Doctors without Borders announced to pull out its personnel from the country due to security problems. Note that the organization had been active in Afghanistan for a long time even during the reign of the Taliban and war with the Northern opposition.

These families deserve the truth, not some lame words of “gratitude”.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Don't wanna find a title for this one


“A warrior takes his lot, whatever it may be, and accepts it in ultimate humbleness. He accepts in humbleness what he is, not as grounds for regret but as a living challenge.
“It takes time for everyone of us to understand that point and fully live it. I, for instance, hated the mere mention of the word ‘humbleness’. I’m an Indian and we Indians have always been humble and have done nothing else but lower our heads. I thought humbleness was not in the warrior’s way. I was wrong! I know now that the humbleness of a warrior is not the humbleness of a beggar. The warrior lowers his head to no one, but at the same time, he doesn't permit anyone to lower his head to him. The beggar, on the other hand, falls to his knees at the drop of a hat and scrapes the floor for anyone he deems to be higher, but at the same time, he demands that someone lower than him scrape the floor for him. “

- Don Juan Matus in Carlos Castaneda’s Tales of Power (1974, p. 19)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Till death do us part


Today, I watched someone die on the street! Maybe, that’s not really accurate; I was looking at a few ambulance workers and police officers trying to reanimate someone. His colleagues were standing near the scene. I heard the guy was 38 years old. Not in a top physical condition probably, cause I saw his rather big belly shake quite visibly, whenever his chest was pressed down. It was at some level a surreal image. Probably, I chose to dehumanize him, by focusing on his body fat. Seeing an object shake is less painful than seeing a dying man struggling to make his last stand. So what happened to him? Apparently, he had a heart attack…just like that, on some regular sunny Monday morning.

In my life, I have experienced a lot of death around me. But I had never seen the drama of life and death as concrete as this. I’m deeply impressed by this experience. I am not sorry for that guy; I only hope that he’d had a good life. Why? Death is the only certain fact of life. Perhaps, death is one element that helps us define life. Would we have the same or any conception of life, if it would not to be ended by death? Sometimes we can only understand things, when we are familiar with their opposite. So why would I dislike death?

Our death watches us constantly. It’s always somewhere around the corner. It can happen anywhere and any time. We all know it. But we don’t really want to think about it, do we? Maybe we want to avoid anxiety, maybe we believe it wouldn’t really matter if we think about it or not. But the truth is, we have no time left. We are running out of time, every minute we lose ourselves in laziness, rationalizations, justifications and ignorance. I don’t know what the ultimate goal of life is: buying oneself a ticket to the heaven, reaching the nirvana, making a lot of money, indulging our senses, becoming a better human being or simply reproduction…. Whatever you think you should be after, pursuit it now, cause the guy who died today thought it would be just another day… exactly like what you and I think tomorrow would be.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The evil must resign


Dutch agriculture minister Cees Veerman is facing accusations of a conflict of interest over his ownership of a large farm in the Dordogne, as pressure grows in the Netherlands for reform of the lavish Common Agricultural Policy.

Campaigners estimate that the 300 hectares in southern France, which produce peas and sweetcorn, could be worth more than £100,000 a year in agricultural subsidies. In a recent television interview, Veerman called the farms 'my pension'. He threatened to resign if the prime minister and finance minister forced through plans to back Britain's calls for subsidy cuts.

Source: The Observer (read the entire article here).

Hydra:
As if one Silvio Berlusconi was not enough for Europe, we’re so lucky we just got two of them. But this guy is just a genius; he even dares to threaten with resignation if the government follows Britain’s proposal to cut agricultural subsidies. “No Sir, please do not resign and enjoy your yearly 180,000 dollars subsidies for a few more years. It’s not like millions of European tax payers, who practically provide you those subsides, care about your bank statements or your ‘pension’.”

Finally Europe cares to take a constructive step, by cutting agricultural subsidies, and then greedy idiots like Veerman try to block this decision. Why is it constructive? Because these subsidies are one the main reasons that agricultural products from developing countries cannot compete with western (subsidized) products on a fair basis. People like Veerman are responsible for poverty and suffering among many nations, for hunger and death in Africa, and for the continuing western domination in the world. Not only is Mr. Veerman a corrupt politician, but he also represents a far greater evil.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Gaza withdrawal


Ariel Sharon began his promised pullout from Gaza on Monday and threatened Palestinians with Israel's harshest response ever should they attack once settlers have been evacuated.

In a televised address coinciding with the start of the withdrawal, the Israeli leader told Gaza's 8,500 Jewish settlers he shared their pain but also understood the plight of the 1.4 million Palestinians in the coastal strip.

"We cannot hold onto Gaza forever. More than a million Palestinians live there and double their number with each generation. They live in uniquely crowded conditions in refugee camps, in poverty and despair, in hotbeds of rising hatred with no hope on the horizon," he said in the five-minute address.

"The world is waiting for the Palestinian response -- a hand stretched out to peace or the fire of terror. To an outstretched hand we shall respond with an olive branch, but we shall fight fire with the harshest fire ever".

Source: Reuters
___________________

Hydra speaks:
Some people wonder why a hardline politician like Sharon would initiate the Gaza withdrawal, wiping out settlements he once helped building up. A while ago when Sharon announced his plans, everyone thought that it was the best thing that could happen to the peace process. In reality, the unilateral policy of Sharon has taken away any chance of progress in the peace process. A couple of reasons are:

1. By pulling out of Gaza without a mutual agreement in the context of peace negotiations, Sharon has created his state an opportunity to deny any further territorial compromises in the future. The world could hear a pre-announcement of this policy during the Bush-Sharon press conference directly after the planned withdrawal was announced. Bush stated in this conference that, in deciding the future borders between Israel en Palestine, one needed to consider the “existing reality on the ground”. Subtitle: “…forget about the 1967 borders, after this withdrawal, much of Palestinian land will remain under Israeli occupation, because there are simply to many Jewish settlements in areas once belonged to Palestinians…”.
2. As Sharon himself said, future Palestinian aggression will be severely punished. Of course, the Palestinian aggression will not end after this, simply because Sharon’s withdrawal plan does not satisfy Palestinians’ needs. Sharon is justifying future aggression towards the Palestinians in advance. And what exactly is “Israel's harshest response ever”? Can it get worse than the Sabra and Shatila massacre?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Ganji and the opposition

First news:
Akbar Ganji, political prisoner in Iran since 2000, began a second hunger strike on June 11, 2005, protesting his continued detention for peaceful investigative journalism and public expression of views. In addition to Ganji’s unwarranted imprisonment and his periodic mistreatment in prison, he suffers severe respiratory problems. On July 17, Ganji was transferred to a hospital, where he has been placed under quarantine and prevented from regular access to his family and legal representatives.

On 3rd of August 2005, a number of Iranian political activists in the Netherlands gathered in front of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, requesting department's pressure on the Iranian government so it would release Ganji or at least provide more information regarding his condition. The activists made also an absurd suggestion that the Dutch ambassador to Tehran would meet with Mr. Ganji in the hospital.

Second news:
Meanwhile, a group of five Iranian asylum seekers in the Netherlands has been on a similar hunger strike for approximately 44 days. The asylum seekers who have been transferred to a deportation center argue that the Immigration Service does not apply clear criteria in preparing and conducting the deportation of asylum seekers. They all demanded access to their official files at the Immigration Service. As soon as the story received some marginal attention from the media, the government decided to separate the hunger strikers and place them in normal houses, arguing that people in need of immediate medical care cannot be kept in a prison setting.

These developments took place in a context of national and international criticism on the Dutch Immigration policy. The Human Rights Watch condemned the treatment of asylum seekers in the Netherlands in a previous report. Earlier, the Inspectie voor de Volksgezondheid had criticized the non-humanitarian conditions in deportation centers.

Hydra speaks:
Let me just start with the so-called Iranian opposition gathering in front of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I have been thinking about it a lot. But it is still not clear to me why these folks even bothered going to the Ministry building. First, no foreign country has ever been successful in correcting the Islamic Republic's treatment of its own people, although western powers certainly do like to interfere. Why these people think that the Dutch government could actually do something this time? Second, history teaches us that western governments simply do not really care if some journalist is dying in a prison in some exotic country. Third, what is the point of requesting a visit between the Dutch ambassador to Iran and Mr. Ganji? Is Mr. Ambassador a medical doctor, capable of conducting a medical examination and assessing Ganji's physical condition? Fourth, if the opposition groups want to protest, why don't they gather in front of the Iranian embassy in The Hague? They are the representatives of the wrong doers, anyway? And what is the meaning of this whole action? That the Iranian opposition in exile is not capable of changing things itself, so we need the foreign countries to assist us? I guess so... the Islamic Republic has absolutely nothing to fear. This opposition looks more like a cheap Saturday night TV act than a real political actor. Finally, Just what do you people think to achieve by requesting help from a government, which systematically violates human rights, and even create circumstances under which innocent asylum seekers decide to starve themselves to make a statement. Do we get their message? Do we?