Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Blog on Six Sigma

Financial Services Six Sigma is a weblog discussing implementation of Six Sigma methods in financial services. It is written by Sheila Shaffie, a black belt Six Sigma and a graduate of Chicago GSB. Sheila Shaffie and her husband are founders of ProcessArk: http://www.processarc.com

It is a very interesting blog.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Businesslike Talks After 27 Years


If you have not been talking to someone for 27 years, a simple conversation would be the headline news of town. According to Google there are more than 1’500 news article in English about Iran and USA negotiations. Many reports indicate both countries agree on broad policy issues related to Iraq, and Iranian delegation has announced that both sides will meet again in less than a month. Ambassador Crocker said talks were “businesslike”.

While some in the region could be worried and alarmed by resuming direct diplomatic contacts between two countries, many Iranians are entertaining hopes that negotiations are the first steps in resuming full political relationship and easing the tension between two countries. Reading Iranian media one notices many have voiced their opinions, wishing for positive developments.

Dr. Elham Koulai, a reformist and former Member of Parliament, writes in article for Etemad Melli daily paper in Tehran: “Today American leadership has noticed Iran’s capacities and her potential role in facing the horrible disaster that is going on in Iraq.” She adds: “Iran is not responsible for what is going on in Iraq in anyway. These events are caused by a heritage of centuries of dictatorship and colonial era and Iraq's lack of political development.” She emphasizes: “One should not derail these negotiations by unrealistic expectations. Negotiations for Iraq’s salvation and securing peace and stability in Iraq will prepare the grounds for extending this process to other issues if and only if the USA appreciates Iran’s constructive role and the positive consequences of such cooperation and does not repeat the experience of Afghanistan.”

Mr. Aghamohammadi, a senior advisor to Iran’s National Security Council and a member of Iran’s Expediency Discernment Council also expresses his views in an article for Etemad Melli. He writes “One should not expect this kind of negotiations to be speedy.” He warns that the USA has been and is an active hostile power. He adds “Although negotiations might have been initiated because of tactical necessities, the important point is that it took place on the behest of Iraq’s government.” He concludes his note by remarking: “If Iran persuades Americans to fulfill their obligations to Iraqi people and If a timetable for troops withdrawal is announced, there will be a chance that the region moves toward regional cooperation and stability.”

Mashallah Shamsolvaezin a veteran journalist and the editor of banned Jame’e and Tous dailies has published his views in Shargh daily. He emphasizes that the first meeting was a “test” meeting to achieve a “somehow realistic assessment of the other side capabilities and conditions”. He also believes that Baghdad is a gate toward resolving more issues. However he warns that any agreement between Iran and USA could disturb the balance of Iraq’s “losers” and “winners” in the region. He concludes: "This might encourage some countries to sabotage the process".

Not every one in Iran is enthusiastic about the idea of negotiating with the USA. Jomhourie-Islami[1] daily editorial columnist notices Ambassador Crocker’s remarks and “allegations” and writes: “The suspect is sitting in the judge’s chair and considers Iran to be the suspect… one should consider the fact that negotiation with USA is not precisely a calculated step ….. And it should not be continued.”

Recent news of CIA plans for disturbing domestic stability in Iran is certainly hurting those who advocate a diplomatic course. It also is apparent that many in Iran have been offended by the way Iran was treated after cooperating constructively with the coalition in Afghanistan. Meanwhile they sincerely wish security and stability for both Iraq and Afghanistan in order to guarantee Iran’s security. At the moment it seems that even the pessimists in Iran want to give diplomacy a serious chance. It is up to the USA to take this chance seriously.

Some interesting articles and analysis:
Los Angeles Times’ Article:
Guardian’s Article:
NPR Analysis
BBC Readers’ Comments are insightful


[1] Although a conservative publication Jomhourie Islami editorials have been critical of President Ahmadinejad’s administration and his policies.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A Bit Narcissist, Aren’t They?

Last winter some Iranian bloggers started a game. Everyone tagged five bloggers and asked them to write about something that people do not know about them, an interesting story and some other questions of a personal nature. The game was taken so seriously that many took part in it. Recently another game has been started. This time the bloggers are answering this question: Who is (are) the most influential person(s) in your life.

Reading bloggers’ answers is interesting and one should welcome the ability of this youthful group of people to open up and to speak about matters that are considered utterly private. However one could not help commenting on their fascination by themselves.

The author does not intend to undermine the qualities of their characters and the magnitude of their achievements. He hardly knows any individuals more hard working than this group of people. However it seems more and more bloggers are concentrating on themselves and their own experience, discounting the outside world and its problems.

Weblogs are part of media in Iran. They have attracted thousands of readers and have provided a large number of individuals with means to write their ideas and to have an audience. The days that a young writer would not find a place to publish are long gone. Today if one cannot publish in print, he or she writes an online blog.

This has backlashed in the most unprecedented way. Many instead of writing and analyzing the world, society, its affairs and the trend of its events have turned blogging into a way of writing online diaries. To which the author does not have any objections, he actually enjoys reading some of these online diaries. But he cannot help noticing that for many Iranian readers these blogs are media, their task is to provide insights and not gossip.

It is painful to think that blogging has given some an unjustifiable sense of haughtiness. The influence matters when it has actually resulted in improving a community, a society, a nation. In the absence of those achievements speaking of these private matters does not merit dignity.

New York Times Article on Ambassador Zarif

This is worth reading:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/26/world/asia/26zarif.html

Is Demand for Media Increasing in Iran?

Last weeks witnessed re-opening of two daily papers in Iran: Shargh and HamMihan. Shargh had been shut down 7 months ago, while HamMihan was closed done 7 years ago. Both papers belong to the centre of Iran’s political spectrum; technocrats and reformers such as Mr. Karbaschi, charismatic former mayor of Tehran who owns HamMihan, who advocate economic reforms as well as political ones. The re-opening of these two newspapers is considered a positive step. It certainly has added to the diversity of voices heard inside Iran’s society.

Currently there are a number of reformist daily papers in Iran; among them one can name Etemad Meli, Hayat e No, Aftab Yazf and Kargorzaran. Etemad Meli belongs to Mr. Karoubi. Once a presidential hopeful and speaker of Parliament Mr. Karoubi established Etemad Meli party two years ago. Kargozaran is the tribune of Kargozaran Sazandegi, technocrats’ main party in Iran. These papers represent moderate reformers, leftists[1], technocrats and centrists. There has not been a substitute to newspapers such as Tous and Jamehe’ who advocated a more radical agenda, however many bloggers have filled the space left empty by their absence.

Reading Iranian bloggers’ notes during last weeks one can’t help noticing that some are worried that Shargh and HamMihan would reduce the number of readers of other reformist papers through substitution effect. Both daily papers have excellent editorial staff and some of Iran’s veteran Journalists[2] work as their correspondents. It has been said that HamMihan is hard to find and the first edition is often sold out. This exhibits an eager demand for these fresh additions to market, but has the overall demand for media increased in Iran?

Iranian media usually is full of reports about average time an average Iranian spends reading. The figure is not impressive at all. Latest report claims that Iranians spend on average an hour and half reading per year. However these reports usually do not take into account the average time Iranians and Iranian youth spend reading weblogs and online media. In fact today there is more to read in Iran than any other time in her contemporary history.

Weblogs, daily papers, online news and magazines provide Iranians with a variety of choices. Things that cannot be said in print are usually said online. Given the number of alternatives one could hardly doubt that demand for media has increased drastically. It seems for the first time Iranian audience have to budget their time regarding media. This certainly creates a substitution factor that connects demand for different types of media and publications in Iran.

There is no doubt that new additions will affect demand for other daily papers in Iran. That is after all what new entries do in a market. There might be less reader per newspaper for reformist media, but there will be an overall larger audience. There also is a positive side to this, competition always encourages and promotes quality. Even if one accepts that all reformist media advocate one political opinion, which is not true and they are diverse in their opinions and ideas, the increased competition encourages them to improve their quality and techniques. This will be a welcome externality.

[1] By using term leftist the author means the left side of Iran’s political spectrum; including organizations such as Sazman e Mujaahedin e Inqlab Islami and Majma’ Rohanion e Mobaarez. All are fundamentally Islamic and advocate political reform and social justice. This term does not include secular left or Marxists.
[2] Author would like to add that veteran journalists’ presence is not limited to reformist media; conservative papers also have a very professional and dedicated staff.

New York Times on Books in Iran

Very good report:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/27/books/review/Moaveni-t.html?em&ex=1180238400&en=84163c688fffba51&ei=5087%0A

Thursday, May 24, 2007

So Many Anniversaries, So Many Dreams

Having a long history, a diverse society and a country in transition mean that every day could have different interpretations for different generations and social groups. That certainly applies to Iran and her contemporary history.

May 24th is the third of Khordad, third month in Iranian Calendar, the anniversary of liberation of Khorammashahr, Iran’s major city and port. Khorrammshahr had fallen to Iraqi armored columns at the beginning of war after a 34 days long valiant resistance by a handful of Iranian volunteers, Navy commandos, gendarmes and scattered army units. In mourning the loss Iranians called it KhooninShahr: The Blood Stained City. After 17 months of occupation city was liberated by Iranian forces, nation rejoiced.

Today anniversary of liberation of Khorammshahr is celebrated across county by all Iranians, independent of their political views. However there is no united opinion on the either conduct of war or its continuous after this point. Many suggested that Iran should have accepted a cease fire then; some argued that continuing the war was inevitable anyway, since no one could have trusted Saddam Hussein and he might have attacked again after recovering from his defeats.

For those who cherish the memories of war and volunteers’ selflessness liberation of Khorramshahr is a proof that blood shall overcome the sword. For those who advocate the cause of Islamic Republic it is a proof of IRI abilities to protect the country and its territorial integrity. Khorramshahr still is recovering from the destruction it suffered during war.

Yesterday, May 23rd was the second of Khordad. Iranians call it: Dovvom-e Khordad. It is the day that Mohammad Khatami was elected as the president of Islamic Republic for the first time, defeating Mr. Natiq-Nouri the speaker of Majlis. The reform movement became a reality at political arena of Iran’s domestic policies, the 8 years that followed it, like the 6 years that followed the liberation of Khorramshahr, was filled by hopes and hopes and hopes; some extravagant, some unrealistic, some modest. Today it seems that President Khatami’s most significant achievement was to stay in office for 8 years.

Yesterday many gathered in Tehran to listen to him speaking of those days. Many remembered that era nostalgically. Many repeated their critics, many talked of their hopes and many wondered what would have happened: “If”.

May be that is what history about, to remind people of their victories and their losses, to repeat the lessons gained from both, hoping someone is listening.

There was another anniversary, something that becomes important in Iran because of circumstances, something that many foreigners may find odd. May 22nd Georges Prosper Remi or Herge would have been 100 years old. In Iran he is famous for the character he created: Tintin.

Those who grew up during 1980’s still treasure this young reporter’s adventures, the series were hard to find and the author stroke many friendships in order to read ones he did not have. In this selfish endeavor he was not alone; many Iranian children of 1980’s discovered a colorful world through Tintin. Even today many remember Tintin stories fondly, so why not remembering the man who helped us smile through the days of a long war. BBC Persian has an article on the Herge.

And may be this is what life is about: lost hopes and unfulfilled dreams do not matter as long as one can smile innocently. Let’s hope someone is smiling.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

More Speculation on the future of the World Bank

There are so many articles in the press nowadays, here is a selection:
International Herald Tribune:
http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/05/22/business/bank.php
another viewpoint:
http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/05/21/business/sxpesek22.php
American Enterprise Institute: (or the voice of Neo-Cons )
http://www.aei.org/publications/filter.all,pubID.26225/pub_detail.asp
Who is the favorite candidate:
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=ar453SJDxPfA&refer=home
The Indian Express:
http://www.indianexpress.com/story/31511.html
And From Pakistan:
http://www.thenews.com.pk/print1.asp?id=56954

Who is Iran's Top Diplomat?


AFP has reported that Dr. Javad Zarif Iran's ambassador to the United Nations will represent Iranian side in Iran-USA talks that will be held on May 28th. However Iran’s Fars News Agency reports that it is not final yet.

Dr. Zarif has been one of the country’s top diplomats, who represented Iran in Bonn’s conference on future Afghanistan and helped forging the coalition to form the new Afghan government. However he is not loved in President Ahmadinejad’s administration.

Fars News Agency reported before resources close to the government mentioned Iran’s former and incumbent ambassadors to Iran, Amir Sa'eed Iravani and Kazemi Qomi as likely candidates for the job. Some also thought Iran’s National Security Council (SNSC) Undersecretary for home security, Mohammad Jafari, would be assigned to this “crucial task.”

But it seems Dr. Zarif’s appointment to head the negotiation team is final. Since AFP reported Iran’s State TV as its source.
To learn more about Dr. Zarif visit: http://www.un.int/iran/welcome/zarif.htm and

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Wolfowitz Quits

After weeks of struggle Paul Wolfowitz offers his resignation. This has been the greatest example of good governance (of course I am rather optimistic writing this, since there are so much to be desired). When it was revealed that he helped to arrange a better deal for an individual to whom he has personal attachment, there were bodies, monitoring bodies, to report the incident. There was a committee to determine whether he has broken any rule or not. The fact that such system works and can function even in a complex set up such as that of the World Bank empowers the argument for good governance. Well Done.
Financial Times Article is interesting:
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/023bffd4-03cb-11dc-a931-000b5df10621.html

Runner in Washington DC


Do you remember "The Runner" or Davandeh? If you are in DC you can see this movie this weekend at Smithonian; Freer and Sackler galleries on National Mall. Here is the information regarding this event:

THE RUNNER

Saturday, May 19, 2 p.m., Meyer Auditorium

Special guest: Professor Hamid Dabashi

Professor Hamid Dabashi, Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, introduces a classic Iranian film and signs copies of his new book, Masters and Masterpieces of Iranian Cinema. This semi-autobiographical film by Amir Naderi features a young boy, rendered homeless by war, who resolves to improve himself by going to school. Praised in equal measure for its visual poetry and almost documentary realism, it put Iranian cinema on the international movie map. Persian with English subtitles. Iran / 1985 / 94 min.

Comments

I worte a very short note on how sanctions and USA policy of isolating Iran have crowded out those who oppose the presence of foriegn banks in Iran. It was a simple observation. freethoughts.org have uploaded this note and it is here:
http://freethoughts.org/archives/000837.php#more
Just read the comments, it seems even selling ice-cream in Iran could be politically significant. I think that is the frustrating part about it.

Get Going

Latest on Dr. Wolfowitz:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/05/17/MNG4VPSACE1.DTL
and here:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB117940381472106145.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
and here:
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/business/4811570.html

It seems now he is working on his own deal.

Iran & USA Will They Talk?

It seems after all they will:
Boston Globe:
http://www.boston.com/news/world/middleeast/articles/2007/05/17/us_iran_talks_on_iraq_to_begin_may_28/
and this one:
http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/editorials/articles/2007/05/15/talking_with_iran_belatedly/
Guardian:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-6640266,00.html
BBC:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6664619.stm

In 2 weeks. In Farsi we say: Insha'allah be kheyr baashad, (God Willing it is for the better)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A New Chapter for HamMihan


It was an afternoon in the spring of 2000. My article was late as usual, and I had to call the office to tell my editor if it would be ready at all. I needed to go to a meeting first, so I phoned the office to say I would drop it off on my way back. Someone who picked up the phone said, “We are closed down.” That was it; not another word was said, and nothing more was needed to be said. That was it. HamMihan was shut down, too. There was no need anymore, no hurry. People in the paper had one last photo taken, shook hands and went home, telling each other that it would be all right.

Sometimes one wonders how one could become attached to a paper or magazine. One writes a few lines, throws out an idea or two, analyzes a situation or reports an event. These are the things that many do in their casual conversations every day. But writing them and publishing them make you own them, make that piece of paper with cheap ink on it part of you. HamMihan and many other papers whose names constitute a chapter of Iran’s history became parts of many young and ambition Iranian journalists’ and analysts’ lives.

Some of the people who went home that day continued to work for other daily papers and magazines that appeared in the last several years. Some added more shut down papers to their records. Some tried to create a distance between themselves and politics. Some continued their studies as graduate students, and some changed careers. They survived, but that part of their existence remained lost and haunted their memories as something they did sometime ago.

Today, HamMihan was published again after 6 years, 11 months and 26 days. A chapter is over, a new chapter has begun.

Wolfowitz & McNamara

McNamara and Wolfowitz both became presidents of the World Bank after playing a prominent role in two conflicts that changed the course of history. This piece offers an insightful comparison of these two very different presidents:
http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/ci_5874927
This sentence summarizes its argument: The Wolfowitz record is a stark contrast.

Guardian also has a note: http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/joseph_stiglitz/2007/05/transparencys_silver_lining.html

Saturday, May 12, 2007

An Iranian Artist Won FAME 2007 Award


Saman Moayer an Iranian student of Illinois Institute of Art- Chicago, majoring in media art film animation, has won the best short film animation award from FAME 2007 .

FAME or Fashion And Media Extravaganza festival is The Illinois Institute of Art - Chicago's annual student show featuring the creativity and work of students from all programs of the college.The event includes the college's annual student fashion show featuring the works of Fashion Design students, an animation and film festival featuring the work of Media Arts & Animation, Digital Media Production, Visual Effects & Motion Graphics students, and also incorporates the work of students in the Culinary Arts, Interior Design, Interactive Media Design and Visual Communications programs.

Mr. Moayer’s award includes a scholarship for his further studies. He is the first Iranian student attending Illinois Institute of Art- Chicago. He has started his animation back home in Iran 12 years by working for architectural studios in Tehran as a designer and an instructor.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Opening Iran’s Domestic Market to International Banking

Fars News Agency reports that Iran’s minister of Economic Affairs and Finance announced last week that Iranian government welcomes international banks’ presence in Iranian domestic market. Speaking in a gathering of bank directors he told them that the necessary preparations are completed for international banks to open their branches in Tehran and other Iranian cities. In its latest dispatch Fars News Agency reports that 44 foreign banks have offices in Tehran and most likely they all will be allowed to open branches in Iran to offer consumer level banking services.

This marks a milestone in liberalizing Iran’s economy. For long international banks had been considered as the instruments of international capitalism in Iran by intellectuals and revolutionaries alike. The government absolute control of banking sector had been warranted to protect the country. However Iran’s 2020 vision promises an active private banking sector with dynamic links with global banking community. Reluctant to lose their control of economy neither President Khatami’s reformist administration nor President Ahmadenejad’s radical cabinet was eager to follow this goal vigorously.

It seems it has become a matter of national prestige to expand such ties and to open Iranian domestic market to global banking. Ironically efforts to isolate the country have crowded out those who oppose an open economy in Iran. Currently many parties are motivated to defy these efforts by inviting foreign banks to operate in Iran. If they succeed this will set up the infrastructure of an open economy in Iran by encouraging Iranian policy makers to accept a private banking sector with international ties. And that is ironic.

This note also is avialable on http://freethoughts.org/archives/000837.php#more

Thursday, May 10, 2007

New Councils, New Mayors, New Fractions

Last week across Iran new city councils began their tenure. The first item on their agenda was and for some still is electing a mayor. Elected in last December, the majority of city council seats are divided between reformers and moderate conservatives, the groups identified solely by President Ahmadinejad’s agenda became a minority. Although the voters in Tehran, the capital, elected 3 reformers but moderate and traditional conservatives became the majority, while President Ahmadinejad’s party became a third minority in council unable to influence the choice of Mayor by themselves.

Position of mayor of Tehran has been a politically sensitive seat of authority. The mayor’s decision would influence the lives of the millions living in the largest city of Iran. This enables the mayor to seek higher office. Two former mayors actually have become politicians of national significance. Although one, Mr. Karbaschi, ended up in a cell in Evin’s prison and the other, Mr. Ahmadinejad, is the current President of Islamic Republic.

When Mr. Ahmadinejad moved to the President’s office, Mr. Qalibaf, once commander of Police forces and a brigadier of Revolutionary Guards received vote of confidence to become mayor of Tehran. Ironically he had been one of the candidates in presidential election competing with the current president. Needless to say President’s allies would prefer someone else in this seat that served them as a jumping stage.

This made the election of a new mayor vital and put 3 reformer members of the city council in spot light. There were at least 4 individuals nominated who made it to quarter finals for the post: Mr. Qalibaf, Mr. Bayadi, Mr SaidiKia, who is a current member of cabinet, Mr. Shairatimadar and Mr. Khadem. There were two women nominated for the job at the first round who did not receive enough votes. Mr. SaidiKia resigned from competition and Mr. Bayadi and Mr. Shariatmadar did not receive enough votes to stay in the competition. Thus it came down to Mr. Qalibaf and Mr. Khadem.

The final round was a breath taking one since both candidates draw the same support. 7 votes in favor of Mr. Qalibaf and 7 in favor of Mr. Khadem and 1 abstained. After two rounds of voting an unknown member changed position in favor of Mr. Qalibaf. Thus Mr. Qalibaf remained the mayor of Tehran.

This locally significant event rises to national stage in Iran, since it shows reformers are willing to collaborate with the moderate conservatives. Moderate conservatives also realize that reformers are realistically pragmatic and can be relied on. The significance of this event is multiplied when one remembers that this week some members of Osoolgarayaan fraction, which includes President’s supporters in parliament, established a new parliamentary fraction: Independent Osoolgarayaan. Mr. Afrough one of the founders although conservative is considered an outspoken critique of current cabinet.

BBC on Iranians in North America

Comments from Iranians living in Canada and USA about being labeled as "terrorists".
It is insightful.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/talking_point/6638929.stm

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Instead of giving a fish


When Katrina flooded New Orleans, it damaged the city and reduced the flow of tourists eager to see the southern capital of art and music. New Orleans image as a major tourist destination in the United States was scratched. Many helped reconstruction process by donating money and equipment. But French government decided to help New Orleans with fishing instead of giving a fish. The result has been Femme, femme, femme Paintings of Women in French Society from Daumier to Picasso from the Museums of France.

The idea occurred to the French Minister of Culture and Communication during his visit to New Orleans and New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) two months after Katrina. French delegation decided to organize an art exhibition in NOMA to stimulate the art activities in New Orleans and to attract visitors. Femme, femme, femme includes some hundred-twenty paintings from the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay and other museums throughout France. The focus of paintings is women. The paintings study their roles in society, their presence in family circle and the evolution of their roles in French society during 19th and 20th centuries. It has never been such an exhibition from such a diverse group of artists.

To make sure that New Orleans would benefit from Femme, femme, femme and to encourage people to visit NOMA, this exhibition is presented only in New Orleans and after June 3rd the paintings will return to France. Sometimes it is good to be a monopoly, especially a monopoly of Manet, Picasso and so many other glorious names.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

More on Wolfowitz

According to CNN Money (click on the title), EU countries are willing to let USA choose the next President of the World Bank if Wolfowitz resigns. Bloomberg has more to offer:
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=al1lYZ1bipH8&refer=home

Monday, May 07, 2007

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

When Ahmadinegad Kisses His Teacher


Today is the twelfth day of Ordibehesht, second month of spring, in Iranian calendar. It is Teacher’s day in Iran[1] and there are official and non-official ceremonies to commemorate this day. It also is the day that Iranians students buy their teachers some presents, with flowers to be the most common one. So you can rest assured that florists are having a great business day in Iran.

Culturally and traditionally a mentor or a teacher, in Farsi called: “O’staad”, is considered the most vital character in a person’s life and Iran’s literature is rich with stories about teachers conveying the respect and the gratitude that are due to them. Iranian government employs the largest number of teachers in Iran with a small portion of them working in private schools. Teachers’ compensation in Iran is ranked among the lowest in country and there have been union demands for increase in pay and benefits[2].

President Ahmadinegad has managed to make headlines on this day as well. He embraced Najmeh Qolipour his old first grade teacher and kissed her hand. Ironically embracing a woman, who is not a relative, in public is against some readings of Islamic codes advocated by ultra-radicals. So it seems this time the fire is coming from the far right side of politics in Iran. However there is no doubt that Iranian public consider kissing a teacher's hand a very noble gesture.
****
[1] It also is the anniversary of Morteza Motahari assassination, who was a leading ideologist of revolution and philosopher in pre-revolution era. The day is named Teacher’s Day in his memory. There is another version to it as well.
[2] I will write more about this later.

When Your Hear Them Talking

I was not able to use my car today, so I took a cab. My driver was a nice and chatty African American and was talking about business in Dallas. Dallas highway system does not make cab driving a very profitable business. Delays caused by accidents usually cost more than what a driver could make. Most taxi drivers have leased their cabs from a company or an original owner.

Kevin, the cab driver, told me that he has leased his from “Sean” who is from Iran, make no mistake I did not reveal my nationality. I assume “Sean” is an abbreviation or some nickname. He added that “Sean” has a number of cabs and the good thing about him is that he takes good care of his drivers. Kevin was especially happy that Sean let them have their cabs for Christmas and holidays usually free. He said that Sean also renews his fleet regularly. So he was very happy working on contract for him.

Usually talking to people in Dallas many know one or two Iranians. Some are colleagues, most are dentists or physicians and some were a classmate in college or in graduate school. The people I talked to usually assume I know these other Iranians. The other day in Starbucks someone told me: “I know this guy and he is from Iran, his name is Ali. Do you know him? He is such a great guy!” Now Ali is one of the five most popular names in Iran. And I already count 4 persons named Ali in Dallas as my friends. I am certain there are dozens of them in the area. How in the heaven’s name I would know this other Ali. So I politely answered: “I heard that name, but I have not met him yet.”

Nonetheless It is very pleasant when one hears people praising these unknown Iranians: “He is such a great dentist; I have been with him for 5 years now and have no complaints”. “Mo was the greatest guy in college, really smart.” “She was from Isfahan, and she showed me these fantastic photos from there and told me I am always invited” “Last time they went for vacation in Iran, they brought back some really good pistachio, it was nothing like Whole Food stuff much much better, they brought me a whole pack.”

I do not know these strangers, and probably I would never meet them in the real life, but to all of you, Iranian strangers who are doing a great job out there being great decent individuals: Thank You.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Dallas Weather Forecast


Driving to work, weather report was interesting: “today high of 78 thunderstorm, this evening low of 62 thunderstorm, tomorrow high of 79 thunderstorm” It seems no matter what the temperature in Dallas, we are going to have thunderstorm in Dallas.