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Monday, December 21, 2009

Good Reads

Photographer: Francesco Marino

I found out today that goodreads, a place where reviewers post their reviews, has kicked out Reader Views. This is what they had told them: "Subject to the terms and conditions of this agreement, goodreads grants you permission to use the Service for your personal, non-commercial purposes only."

But for the life of me, I have no idea why they would kick out ReaderViews and not the many other reviewers who are “commercial” and post their reviews on their site. And what about some of those publishing houses that send hundreds and hundreds of their employees under the disguise of "readers" to post favorable reviews about their clients’ books - they do this on amazon and thousands of other websites. At least Reader Views only gives a positive review if the book deserves it.

What’s interesting is after ReaderViews told them that other reviewers are doing the same thing, goodreads replied, “give us their names and we will look into it.” Now I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, my mama told me never to snitch on your peers. So, Irene Watson of Reader Views followed suit and said: “It is not my intention to be the gatekeeper for goodreads, and as reviewers we support each other and are not out to destroy each other.” Ironically, ReaderViews does exactly what its name represents – it gives the book to randomly selected readers and readers write up a review. Once the reader reviews it, ReaderViews has no control over the outcome of the review be it good or bad.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Twitter Faux Pas

Photographer: Tina Phillips

When you RT your friends, please don’t cut off the person who originated the info. It’s not good twitter etiquette and the person you cut off will not forget it. A few days ago, I RTd a tweep on some great photography he had researched. A friend of mine RTd me, cut off his name and just used my name. Then others who knew him ended up RTing the photographs, giving me credit for it. And although I really do appreciate the fact that they went out of their way and RTd me, I was embarrassed at the same time. Because had it not been for the originator, I would have never had that link to begin it.

A few days after that, I had spend time researching some info on the book industry. When I posted it, a magazine RTd my info and I thanked them. Then as I was going through a list of my tweeps to see if they had interesting info for me to RT, I noticed a tweep who had cut off my name and kept the magazine’s name. This was really irritating since I was the one who had researched the story.

So, why did the above two tweeple had committed a faux pas? Perhaps because they wanted to make sure that their tweets had enough room in case someone wanted to RT them. In such cases, one has 3 choices. One, if the tweet takes up too much space, then don’t RT it or abbreviate it. Two, as painful as it may be, it’s always better to keep the name of the originator of the story and get rid of your friend’s name. Three, you may choose to tweet it twice once with name of your friend and once with the name of the originator. I realize this is a lot of work but in the long run, you’ll see that it’s worth it as it adds credibility to your tweets, your name and your business. And by the way, I am guilty of doing the same thing in past and had to learn not to do this because it was not the appropriate thing to do. Cheers and happy tweeting.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Age gives you wisdom that the young will never know

Photography by: Tom Curtis

“Youth is wasted on the young” ~George Bernard Shaw

Today I’m a much happier person than when I was in my 20s and 30s. My whole life, I have never been a sheep by following other people's path. I have lived my life exactly the way I wanted and have done everything I have always wanted. So if I happen to die tomorrow, I will die a happy person with no regrets. But many people are not like me. Their eyes are always on what someone else has and does - they compare themselves to those around them. However, this is not a good philosophy because it makes them feel unfulfilled - the more they have, the less satisfied they feel.

When living your life, you must ask yourself what is it that “you” want to do with your life and not what the society wants you to do. Many are so concerned about impressing others with their careers, their competitive streaks and their successes. They have this need for the world to envy them and in the process they lose themselves and become nothing but an empty shell with little character. Of course, when you’re young, you don’t see this and you think you’re on the right path.

It is important to set goals but it is just as important to make sure that you enjoy the process of reaching them. And your goal can be as big as wanting to be a CEO to as small as wanting to have a small beautiful garden by next spring. But nevertheless, they are both goals and the person who enjoys the process instead of focusing so much on the end result is the real success. This is just my observation on life. I may be wrong or I may be right but it doesn’t matter. My goal today was to write a short article and I have not only enjoyed the process, I have accomplished what I set out to do. So, if you happen to pass by my blog, remember to enjoy life and worry less about how the world perceives you. Life is short and whizzes by at a lightening speed. Fill it up with love, family and friends and finding happiness in the small things.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Photograph by: Juan Gnecco

For centuries, Iranians have made fun of the Turks the same way Americans have made fun of the Poles and of course I would never laugh at these jokes because not only are they not true but also they encourage racism and bigotry. However, after reading that the Turkish judicial system spent a two-year-long trial on two men for negligible crimes, I can’t help but to think many of the jokes were actually true but should have been aimed at the Turkish judicial system rather than at the average citizen who is far more superior to some of these judges.

The average person with an average intelligence and no law degree might ask a simple question, namely, what were their crimes? Did they murder someone? Were they involved in armed rubbery? Did they rape a child? And the answer would be no to all of the above questions. Their crime my dear friends was that they stole four pairs of shoes. What was that you ask? Two years of trial for stealing 4 pairs of shoes? Doesn’t the Turkish government have better things to do with their time? Obviously not.

Well, here is the irony that’s worse than the 2 year trial – they were sentenced to 21 years. And in a normal circumstance thinking that it was all a stupid joke, I would guffaw, giving my stomach a good exercise, but unfortunately I cannot laugh at this. It is all true. Twenty-one years for four pairs of shoes and thus this post explains why I picked out a Jackass to represent Turkey’s judicial system! Interested in reading this article about the utterly pathetic loser judge who passed out this sentence? Be my guest…

Monday, November 16, 2009

I Will Never Understand Her

Image provided by Dino De Luca

I open my email box and the fist thing I see is not the list of unopened mail but rather the news of a 5-year-old murdered. My fingers freeze on my key board. My body is numb. Not because I have never seen or heard of such things but because the article says her mother sold her. The article stares at me, taunting me to react. I can no longer hold back and give in. How do you forget this? How do you put it out your mind? A child who must’ve suffered so horrifically before death, never given a chance to live life. I don’t get it. I don’t think I will ever understand this world. So much cruelty. Everyone keeps saying focus on the good but it’s difficult when a mother sells her child for sex. It’s not yet 100% certain what has happened but if she did sell her daughter, I will never understand her. Never…Never...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


How can we defend human rights and women’s rights in Afghanistan when according to VFP (veterans for peace) and a new department of defense study, 1 in every 3 woman in US military is raped. In 2007, 10% of the rapes reported were army men. On October 13, 2009, a national campaign was launched in order to bring about the notion that what goes on in the military can no longer stay in the military.

It all started with a March in New York’s Time Square recruiting station when veterans for peace were chanting “STOP THE RAPE IN THE MILITARY.” US Army Col Ann Wright speaks out and introduces Staff Sgt. Sandra Lee who came out for the first time at a press conference to announce that she was raped twice while deployed in Iraq. You can watch her speak here and see other videos regarding this subject and what the U.S. military doesn’t want you to know - men are being raped as well.

Leah Bolger, another member of the VFP who was never sexually assaulted because of her rank in the army, says “when you’re an officer, your chances of getting raped is less than when you are a junior who is afraid to report the rape in fear of losing his/her job.” Unfortunately, recruiters aren’t warning the recruits that they have a 33% chance of being sexually assaulted when they join the U.S. army. VFP goes on further to say that to please tell the world that this is unacceptable and has got to stop.

Staff Sgt Sandra Lee has been threatened and booted to leave by the U.S. army under the terms other than “honorable discharge.” This is sad indeed and I wish more men and women would speak out about rape. The assaults are "dishonorable conduct" by army personnel and not the victims. No rank and no amount of money in the world are worth hiding such an important issue. These inexcusable sexual misconducts will continue as long as the voices of those who fight to protect our country are silenced by “our honorable U.S. army.”

Sunday, September 27, 2009

"Cap and Tax" aka "Cap and Trade" Bill

On the surface, the cap and trade bill seems as though it’s an effort to tackle climate change but the legislation which is over 1000 pages long is filled with obscure language in order to confuse the politicians and the public. Waxman of California who rarely represents the needs of “Californians” told News Week: “Today we have taken decisive and historic action to promote America’s energy security and to create millions of clean energy jobs that will drive our economic recovery and long-term growth.” And to that I say, Mr. Waxman, did you read all 1000 pages? If not, please don’t speak.

The Cap and Trade Bill, as explained by Campaign for liberty, should be labeled as “Cap and Tax” and if passed, it will give our government unprecedented control over the private sector and our lives. They would be able to ask that you change the way you live by forcing you to use government-approved light bulbs, refrigerators, water heaters, toilets and etc. Then the government will send around federal officials into your homes to make sure you comply.

You may say, so what? It’s good for the environment. Bzzzz…It’s another way for the government to push for control of their citizens and residents. This Bill specifically authorizes intrusive home visits by the U.S government. They will enter your homes and snoop thorough your closets, basements, attics and everywhere else they want. Had Mr. Waxman of California bothered reading all 1000 pages of the obscure language on the bill, he would know that. Or perhaps he already knows but doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with the government sticking their nose into the average citizens’ business.

I mean really…do we need more threats to our liberties? As it is, we have the horrible Patriot act that we’re still trying to get rid of. So, please…please…speak up against this bill or soon we will have no liberties left.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Social Networking Isn't Safe

My life was threatened yesterday. Couldn’t sleep well last night. Got up kind of early for a Sunday. Made some tea with sugar and had it with Persian bread and Feta cheese, what my mom used to make me every morning before school when I lived in Iran. Then I turned on the T.V and Sabrina the teenage witch was on – one of my favorite shows by the way. I know it’s really silly but I love watching shows like that. I grew up with Bewitched and I dream of Genie and about five years ago or so when I was sick for a year, I used to watch Charmed on T.V. I liked the way Shannen Doherty , Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano and Rose McGown were so vibrant and healthy while I was sick. They were able to overcome all the evil forces around them and create a better world for everyone. But the reality is that there are only a handful of people with influence left in the world who have the power to protect human rights. So sometimes when I’m not feeling all that great and I need a little magic in my life. I turn on the T.V, watch the good do their thing and suddenly I feel safe again.

Which reminds me, social networking isn’t safe. I recently had some really freaky people follow me on Twitter, people who were angry about me writing what I write and speaking my mind. Someone threatened to chop off my fingers, torture and burn me. So, not only are we not allowed to help those who need us, we’re not even allowed to speak up our minds. And then what are we supposed to do? Shut our eyes and pretend that those whose rights are being violated do not exit? Are we to pretend that we live in a perfect world? Wouldn’t that just makes us nothing but a blob with no brain or soul? I guess that’s what they want us to be…

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

United States, a symbol of hope

For me, the United States has always been a symbol of hope, freedom and being able to make your destiny but now I am so worried that soon we will lose all of our liberties. Many mistakes have been made since the cold war which has shaken our roots. Because of threat of communism, our government decided to make significant changes in the middle-east without thinking about the major side-effects this would bring. Iran’s democratic government was overthrown in favor of the Shah and Shah was removed in favor of the Islamic Republic. The Talibans were trained by the CIA to fight the threat of the Russian communism. And soon fundamentalism everywhere spread like the impossible weed. I mean, don’t get me wrong. Religion is not the problem but fundamentalism in any religion has always imposed itself on the mass population.

Add to this a handful of major players who own our banking and food system, drug and insurance companies, and real-estate. They have managed to take away the power of decision-making from people and put it in the hands of special interest groups. During the Bush administration era, these groups gained tremendous influences which today are contributing to the destruction of the U.S economy. And then there is the threat of North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and some Arab states which makes up for a dangerous formula.

Currently we have a massive debt that’s multiplying daily, banks and corporations that are going bankrupt, unemployment, the housing crash, health insurance issues and the threat of terrorism. I do not know how we are going to pull out of it but I can’t help thinking what if Woodrow Wilson never gave the control of our currency to private bankers. What if our government had faith in middle-eastern countries to fight communism on their own. What if Western countries never tried to make regime changes or take away the rights of the middle-eastern population because of oil. I know it’s useless to look back and wonder about all the what ifs, but looking forward doesn’t look hopeful either. I sure hate to see the last country in the world which in comparison to the rest gives many liberties to their citizens go down history.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I was living a shallow dream

I have been a lucky person my whole life and never really had major tragedies. I left Iran long before the Islamic revolution and grew up in the U.S. When the Shah was overthrown, I was too busy getting ready for college. My family never talked about it much and I didn’t think much of it. Ten years ago when there was a student uprising in Iran and many were killed, I had a new job in a new industry and was too busy learning the ropes to pay much attention to what had happened. But recently as I watched the images of what had happened then, I realized I was living in a shallow dream.

In June and July of this year, many Iranians were killed. I saw their faces all over my television set and on the internet. I have never felt death until now. I have never seen such suffering with my own eyes. I have never seen such courage up until now. Sure, I have read and heard about it and I have seen it in movies, but I have never felt something so real and so close to home. I feel the pain of all Iranians as if it were my pain and the naïve and carefree girl inside of me has departed forever. I will always remember June of 2009 as the beginning of one of the darkest times in my life and the only thing that keeps me going is the fact that I am half American. No, I am not half American by blood but I am half American in essence because The United States is where I grew up for the majority of my life. And I know that Iran does not recognize dual citizenships, but you see, I cannot separate the Iranian and the American in me. They both blend in in a silent harmony.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Politicians on Iran

Politics and I will never mesh even if I do love to keep up with it to see the faux pas many politicians make. Many of them are a funny lot. They dance around a problem and by the time they make a decision, it is too late. And that’s not the only thing that frustrates me but rather their uncanny stupidity. Here is an example: “A European Union-wide proposal to coordinate aid for the wounded Iranian demonstrators is expected to be discussed Wednesday in Stockholm, Ministers said” on Monday.

Now, let me get this straight. In Iran, people are bleeding to death from left and right. What is there to discuss? By the time they make their decision, the majority of the wounded will be dead. Let’s put it this way – any sane person with a heart who sees someone lying on the gravel, stabbed with a knife, blood gushing out his guts is pushed to think quickly and figure out a way to help. But many politicians worry more about their country’s pocket than human life. Should we do it or should we not?

What if the protest fails and Iran ends up once again with a hard-line government? We would be out of the game – the game of making obscene amounts of money. We need to be careful because we want to do business with them. So, in the process human lives get sacrificed over politics.

Another Stupid comment: “Sweden said it cannot grant asylum” to the Iranians. And my answer to Sweden is what makes your government think that Iranians would want need your Asylum? You are a tiny little country with bad weather. Iran on the other hand has thousand years of history, culture and breathtaking scenery.

Of course let’s not forget Norway’s embassy in Iran which didn't lift a finger to help the injured. To them I say, where are your heart? Now to be fair, here is a kind good hearted comment by the Italians – The Italian government said it instructed its mission in Tehran to assist ‘where there is a request or need for help from injured demonstrators. Well, all I have to say is this – Bravo Italy and a big kiss to you for making one of the most humane gestures I have seen so far.

Oh and before I end this article, I have to say that I am also grateful to the United States government for asking Twitter not to shut down for its scheduled updates in order to keep the communication open.

Monday, June 22, 2009

In Memory of Neda who was brutally assassinated in Iran, I am observing a day of silence and will not be posting anything on this blog.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Government cracks down

Two weeks ago I was proud of the Iranian government for giving certain freedoms to their citizens. And now I have nothing to say to them. I search for words but I feel empty. How can I say anything good when there is nothing good to be said? Everywhere I turn I see policemen beating those who are frail. Everywhere I look, I see pools of blood. Every noise I hear is a scream of a peaceful protester being dragged out of his or her home, beaten and then thrown in jail.

CNN today reported 400 parents showed up in Iran at court asking after the health of their children and they were told to come back a month later. I watched an Iranian woman get shot today. Her eyes slowly drifted away and in seconds her body gave up. Where is the mercy? How can they kill so many innocent people? It takes special people to kill – the kind with no hearts.

They are peaceful protesters with no weapons. Guards in plain clothes go after them as if they are hunting for their next meal. They beat them with heavy sticks and drag their bodies against the grave. The helicopters flying above the crowds spray acid on the protesters. Their bodies burn with pain and yet they continue with their march toward freedom. I will never forget the events of the past 8 days and the days to come. The images of the dead and tortured will be branded in my memory for as long as I am alive and as each day passes, I find it harder and harder to smile.