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Monday, June 13, 2011

You had me at Weiner

The ongoing drama over the revelations that Congressman Anthony Weiner sexted pictures of himself in various poses to women on Twitter and FaceBook and god knows what else, for years, all while posing for everyone else as the next big thing in politics, reminds me of why I used to be a bully in school.

I don't normally like to kick a man when he's down, but with the boldfaced lying and denial Wiener exhibited in the interview a week before he announced it was really him and his idea all along, this baffling example of sheer unmitigated gall deserves some alternative analysis.

The addition of a level of personal pride and the thought that this idiot was considered to be a"catch" by even bigger idiots in New York, and proof once and for all, that fashion magazines are not just vapid, empty, and hollow shells of self absorption dedicated only to the idol worship of an unattainable ideal. They are far more dangerous than that.   

I used to be a bully in school. I specifically used to bully people like Weiner. For a reason.

People like Weiner, always stood out to me, often as unstoppable scum, and as such, as easily beat-uppable scum. I never bullied anyone who, by my loose book of rules, weren't asking for it right from the start. Either they were the bratty, spoilt rich kid who was completely annoying by trying to make everyone else sad and jealous of their toys or watches or clothes or candy, or they were the incessantly annoying kid who spoke the occasional sheer and utter nonsense out of turn, and then insisted he was right, or it was the kid who made the mistake of ratting us out to the teachers for our self appointed role.

Either way, they paid for their existence, and mostly for their inability to get that they simply "didn't get it". I am totally reformed from my way of bullying today. Well, almost. Occasionally like anyone, I revert. I still find myself occasionally feeling that familiar twinge and sweet urge to do what I always felt was my job in school, namely to bring "nature back into balance".

I will justify my former profession, by saying that there are always some kids in school, who need this.

I cannot guarantee that Anthony Weiner was that kid, or one in need of a good bullying like I used to dish out daily. But I can guarantee you this, if he had ever had the nerve to present himself as Anthony Weiner (and insist we pronounce it: Weener), on principle alone, he would have been addressed as such an audaciously arrogant act would demand. With pointed emphasis.

Regardless of your point of origin, where your family comes from, you simply do not insist that your name be pronounced the wrong way, and coincidentally and especially if it has the same pronunciation as a hot dog or the obvious body part it has always represented in modern American slang. Like forever.

Weiner pronounced normally, (or winer as in diner) would most likely be a reference to your ancient Ashkenaz heritage of honorable wine making.

There is a chance though, that your name is in fact pronounced like the processed pork sausage, (weener). However, that would represent your lineage and origin as having been someone from Vienna, and then the most likely spelling of your name would be Wiener. The pork sausage connection to Vienna, purely coincidental. Other than it's American processed deli-aisle namesake, Vienna is in fact not all that popular for sausage. Operas and ballets and painting and literature, and a severe mark on civilized western culture, sure. But pre-cooked salted meat by-products formed into animal intestines, not so much. Frankfurt would be a better choice.

So Weiner like wine, and Wiener like Vienna.

But insisting on the wine spelling WITH the sausage pronunciation, in America, today? In full concert with sexting messagery, and I'm sorry, you're asking for a lot of trouble.

I know that I could have or would have helped Weiner with his problem early on in school had we ever had the chance or (mis-fortune in his case!) to be in the same educational system together.

Anyone within my earshot at the peak of my bullydom, even quietly suggesting that someone call him "Weener", would have had to prove why, on the spot, immediately via a highly effective bullying technique called "pantsing". And having successfully dispelled that myth they attempted to propagate, purely and only for their own advantage, would have been shamed and humiliated beyond measure, and this I guarantee, they would have changed the pronunciation request back to "Winer", as the English language and the standard Weiner spelling demands.

This single act of public pant removal, could have stopped young Weiner in his tracks far early on, and steered him clear of what can only be described as a disastrous path that he has taken since. And certainly appears trapped upon today.

Had he insisted or persisted on requiring the appendage pronunciation, further action leading up and including physical beatings would have been applied until there was compliance with the rule of law. Granted it was my law, but it was the playground law nonetheless.

For clearly, no one can deny that the man needs a good slap in the mouth. A thump on his large nose. A swift kick to the backside. I was also going to say public pantsing, but with the years that he has been obviously deluding and promoting himself as god's other gift to women, he'd probably enjoy that experience way too much.

Monday, June 6, 2011

US Immigration Reform: Bad Myths and Bad Methods

Level of delusion at the average WalMart
Almost all of the Republican candidates for 2012, seem to think that rallying around their vastly incorrect assumptions on Illegal Immigration is a point worth making as they head into a shellacking of their own.

Meanwhile, Obama is oiling his own Thin Lizzy, getting ready for a monster truck showdown, despite the Democrats' best attempts to derail him with their ridiculous counter assumptions on the problem with Jose and Juanita.

To lay the groundwork for a solution I think will work, let's take an honest look at the problem and get a reality check.

By best estimates, there are between 11 million and as many as 20 million illegal immigrants in the US. The best estimates aren't all that good though, because if someone got here illegally, that means no one saw them, and if no one saw them, how could they count them?

But before we get to the numbers, let us be totally clear that in the age of international terrorism, the fact that the US geographical borders are this porous is an absolute disgrace. Given that the US Border Patrol is responsible for "Patrolling" the "US Border", the entire leadership and senior staff needs to be fired for simply not doing their job.

That is the first harsh reality of this issue. If you have the responsibility of doing something, and for any reason (such as resources or night vision goggles or more advanced border surveillance equipment) you can't, you need to quit or get the attention of your boss(es). The current management staff at the US Border Patrol having not resigned en-masse, to draw attention to the problem for years, proves one endemic problem is the staff. And that is the basis of my suggestion to sack them all.

The other reality is that want as we might, it is logistically impossible to capture, process, and deport 11 million people. At best, it is currently possible to process 100,000 people per year. At this rate it would take over 100 years to deport everyone. 200 years, if there are really 20 million. At best, doubling the effort, would double that. So in 55-100 years, depending on how may there are, the last illegal would be sent back.

So I hope I have successfully illustrated that mass deportation is out. Plus it costs even more money to deport someone, and no one is willing to fork out the extra cash it would take to accelerate deportation.

The other misassumption being loosely bandied about by the right is that the illegal immigrants are an unfair drain on over tasked and under funded local law enforcement, social services, and the health care system.

Most illegal immigrants aren't here for free services. They are here to work. That means they have the money to pay for what they need. And they don't have the time to risk getting sick so they can't work. Studies have in fact shown that the average illegal immigrant is far healthier than the average American.

Since the jails and prisons are not over flowing with illegal criminals, the numbers are also in favor of the true profile of an illegal immigrant as being largely law abiding. Again, so that their income and work is uninterrupted. Because, again, they are here to work, not free-load.

Another incorrect assumption is that the fault of hiring illegal immigrants must be placed at the feet of employers. And that somehow it is their fault for hiring people without the proper papers, specifically so they can pay them "off the grid" or super low wages to exploit them.

If you have been to your local flea market or look online, you can get any kind of real looking fake ID you need in minutes, and an even more convincing fake social security number, is even easier. Submit that to ANY employer along with the application which is conveniently printed in Spanish nowadays, and getting hired on "legally meeting all employment requirements", is an all too simple matter.

While Illegal immigrants might be here illegally and working with fake paperwork, they are in fact following ALL of the rest of the rules of this civilized society. Their employers simply aren't all "in on the scam".

So, if it acts like a Duck, and quacks like a Duck...

Yes, you got it! Employers who think they are employing Jose legally, who's been with the company for 7 years now and has never missed a day, and has never complained once, whose taxes have been withheld correctly, are being applied to his fake social security number, and sent in every pay period, to state and federal religiously.

Now multiply that by 11-20 million. Even if half are processed correctly, that's a lot of tax revenue these so called "moochers" are shelling out.

So, here's the deal. Or my suggestion.

Before I say Amnes... and you cut me off, and think you know what I am going to suggest based on your spoiled by Republicans definition of what Amnesty has traditionally meant, get a grip and shut up for minute, and let me finish.

We don't offer anyone Amnesty. (See?)

We merely re-process them as Temporary or Guest workers. For a Fee. Which they must pay.

The fee covers verifying and converting their current status, and documenting their country of origin, demographics, and so on, as well as current place of residence and phone number(s). This will result in corrections to their current identification paperwork, and their correct Social Security numbers.

Once this is done, they will be entitled to work legally in the US for a duration that can be renewed. Again with a fee. If they want to become residents and follow the path to full citizenship, they can do so after completing the residency requirements.

But if they do not want to change citizenship, they can also choose to do so and simply renew their guest worker status, every year by paying the fee to re-process.

In this way, we get all the good workers we want. They pay to be processed. And we keep the best as citizens.

The fee? It should be a number roughly double the actual costs of processing the necessary list of things that need to be checked out, given we are living in an era of international terrorism. Plus enough to cover health care and any other "social costs" the various lobbyists want to add. Add to that a nice flat "Guest worker" income tax rate of 20%, and you've got yourself a nice 11-20 million multiplier effect.

Or, I'll say roughly $2500.

A year.

Pay that, keep your nose and criminal record clean, and I honestly don't care where you come from. Lady Liberty and the rest of us should stand up, applaud and salute you and say, "Welcome the the USA!"

"Now get back to work!"

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dalai Lama's Nephew Killed by Karma

On February 15th 2011, this year, Jigme K. Norbu the nephew of Tibet's Dalai Lama was runnin  the last leg of yet another "Walk for Tibet" effort, one of many he had undertaken in his short life, in his personal method and mission, namely to raise awareness for the plight of his fellow Tibetans, who have been under relatively harsh and oppressive rule by China, since 1951.

Norbu was running south on highway A1A, about a quarter mile from the Hammock Wine and Cheese Shoppe, owned by Gary and Damian Collins, who stopped to offer encouragement, as well as a place at their store for Norbu to rest, wash up, have a bite to eat, and spend the night. Gary took this picture of Norbu with Damian.

Highway A1A is a single lane straight road that is divided by the usual standard yellow dashed line. There isn't a curve in it for miles and Norbu was running with traffic with a big white sign that covered his chest and back that read "Walk for Tibet Florida". Norbu was struck by an SUV that was driven by 31-year-old Keith R. O'Dell of Palm Coast Florida who was with his 5-year-old son, and who apparently tried to swerve but couldn't avoid running right into Norbu.

On a straight road. With no one else in sight. Not a single car, not another pedestrian, an SUV in Florida, ran smack into the only guy on a single lane road, running on the white line, with a big white sign on his back.

The poetry in this seemingly senseless tragedy, is what I have been thinking about since February.

Of all the places that the plight of Tibet, their 60 year-long struggle for re-independence, the seemingly magical character and real glow of the Dalai Lama, the very construct of Buddhism, and the concept of a reincarnate king chosen by miracle as a child, the single place on the planet that all of this, could be probably the least concern, I would venture a guess that probably Florida would be near the top of that list.

Florida is arguably one of the capitals of redneckdom in the US, and the prophetic detail of a young dad, riding with his young son, in an SUV, around dusk, on a lonely straight road in Florida, would not have the slightest warning and would unknowingly run right into the back end of a person whose entire life purpose and mission had been dedicated to running, in order to raise awareness about the least thing that a redneck in Florida would think about, Tibet, struck me as more than mere dumb and thoughtless chance.

It seems that out of all the places that would never care about Tibet, the one place Norbu was most likely to become an example of the very Karma that his uncle has preached his entire life, would have had to be in Florida.

Florida and the circumstances of the innocent accidental death of Norbu, are in fact proof of Karma, or the simple idea that everything that happens to you, you deserve.

In this case, Norbu, running for the unknown cause of Tibet, on a lone stretch of highway in South Florida, and a father possibly distracted momentarily by the antics of his 5-year old, losing control of a stereotypically unnecessary SUV, were brought together in one colossal, impossibly improbable collision of more than just a car hitting a pedestrian.

This was a cosmic accident merely waiting to happen.

Of all the places that Norbu could have died, South Florida was the place he needed to die, in order for the people least likely to know about Tibet or care, to learn about and fully understand the plight of Tibet.

Of all the people that Keith R. O'Dell could have killed with his SUV, it is highly likely from the details we have, that he had to kill Norbu, simply in order to awaken an awareness about Tibet, in an average South Floridian redneck.

And for Norbu personally, to have tempted his own fate by continuing to run into the twilight, after refusing to heed the concerns over the fading daylight, nevermind the kind offer by Gary and Damian Collins that he should stop, hop in and get a lift to their place for the night, proof of karma.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Stop Calling it the Twitter Revolution!

Originally posted on on March 25, 2011
OK, I'm sorry but I cannot tolerate the term "Twitter Revolution" or "Facebook Revolution" any longer.

I find it highly insulting to the actual (not virtual) sacrifice that Iranians made when after 30 years they finally found the time in their busy day getting plastic surgery or whatever took them so long to figure it out, and to take to the streets risking life and limb and their new noses, to protest the current way of life that the Iranian government has been selling them as a showcase utopian Islamic way to live.

If you have tweeted, or if you have read a tweet, you know its nothing more than desperate for attention hope-filled blathering in the wilderness. For god's sake Sarah Palin Tweets, need I say more? If Ashton Kuthcher wasn't hot, would you even read his Tweets?

Anyone who agrees to meet up at a square or other location to begin their dangerous quest for freedom, just because their Tweet told them to, is an utter idiot. And deserves the waiting Police van when they get there. Does anyone think that in this day and age, the Iranian government doesn't know about Twitter? Why do you think most governments don't shut down the internet when things get interesting?

Wait, you do know that the internet in every country is connected to one big telecommunications switch right? And is as easy to shut off as you just imagined.
FaceBook? The best example of how FaceBook works (or doesn't) is the recent story of the Google employee in Egypt who was arrested for posting updates on the progress of the revolt in Tahrir square. FaceBook doesn't get to take credit for his bravery! It wasn't FaceBook who went to jail! FaceBook actually was the reason he went to jail! He was freed because the government fell, not because his FaceBook fans sent Teddy Bears or Hugs to the Egyptian Military!

The obscene assumption and claim that ANY of these revolts in progress can be attributed to any free service that is trying to merely con their investors into the illusion that "traffic" on a website somehow equals "monetization", even though most of the "users" are too busy flirting with the girls and guys they didn't fuck in high school, to click on any of the ridiculous ads, is insulting to those who stand up, and then walk into fire with only the thinnest hope and statistically even calculation that "there are more of us, than there are of them. They won't be able to kill us all. 

At least, I'm pretty sure they won't."

I'm sorry, but I refuse to think that I can understand the full effect and context of that feeling, in 140 characters or less. Or worse, by "Liking" it and turning my notifications "On".

The continued claim that any of these social networking sites, can take ANY credit for the sheer heroic courage that it takes a group of young and old people in ANY country to stand up, and take to the streets with only the hope and faith that they can turn and change their fate from the disastrous course it is on now, is utterly unacceptable, and at best a disgusting PR play for Goldman Sachs to rethink the number of zeroes on their investment offer, more seriously.

Is it really Social Networking? Or is it more likely Social Distortion?

Does anyone seriously believe that Zuckerberg ever cared about anything other than creating a foolproof system that finally made it so that the sexy cheerleader that would never go out with him, had no choice but to accept his friend request, and that he could finally turn to his fellow geeks and say with technically accurate certainty, "Dude, Tina McKenzie is my friend!"

But a Revolution? Nah! No way. Please don't dis-respect the newly emerging Arab world (and hopefully Iran this summer too!).

They've been through enough.

Definition of: Utopia

Originally posted on on March 25, 2011
The dictionary defines Utopia as: an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect.

Apparently when it comes to Iran, this is the wrong definition, and Merriam needs to pick up Webster on their way to consult with the Velayateh Faghih, in order to correct their definition.

Because apparently Iran is Utopia. Or at least they seem pretty sure to think so. Otherwise, they'd surely listen. No?

Apparently Utopia is a place where one out of every seven of us is blessed to be addicted to drugs or alcohol, and prostitution and promiscuous and risky sex is at a dazzling pace easily eclipsing the Shah period's record by over 1,000 percent. In Iran Sex and Drugs is OK you just can't get the Rock 'n Roll. Well at least not until the big earthquake Iran is due for any moment now, hits. Has it been the average of one every 10-20 years since Bam?

Apparently Utopia, is a place where you finally get the peace and quiet (emphasis on the quiet) to do a lot of shutting up and listening. So, put aside your traditional penchant and national and genetic trait for arguing with each other, and speaking your minds, and realize the benefit of just shutting the fuck up, sitting quietly with your hands in view and in your lap, and just listen to an utterly decrepit old idiot, who allows himself (NEVER herself) the exact same right that he gleefully (Yes, even with an angelic smile on his face) denies you.

Apparently Utopia is a place where if you toe the line every Friday, you get a free hot meal, complete with nice and toasty sangak and a US sanctioned Coke, and often paid a stipend for simply nodding, and bowing, and pretending to pray, and above all not shaving or wearing a tie. Kiss the hand of the speaker as he passes you by? You might even get that cush government job, stamping some sort of illegible stamps on some irrelevant building or other permits. And if you are really really good, and play your cards right, and fill out your ballots correctly, you'll even get a bag of potatoes around election time! Mmmmm! Potatoes!

Apparently Utopia is also a place in which it turns out that we "...don't need no stinkin' Constitution!". Especially the parts in the Constitution that require a majority vote of parliament to change things in it.

Apparently Utopia, is a place just like the US Marines. Except the credo of Semper Fidelis which means Always Faithful means always have faith or simply "just trust me" And here, the Proud badly want to tell the Few to fuck off, but just can't seem to do it.
[Side Note: Did you know that the sabre that the US Marines use in their formal ceremonies, is designed and patterned precisely based on the Persian Empire's design of the Shamsheer. Add this (carefully) to your list of things that the Persians have given the world.]

How do you now you're in Utopia? Well, beside the obvious fact that if you are physically in Iran, then "Welcome to Utopia!" But since Utopia can also be an exported, if altered state of mind (as well as an actual "Exported State" like Iraq and Afghanistan), the way you know that you are in Utopia is if things generally bug you enough that you want to scream, but you can't even bring yourself to speak about it softly. The more things bug you, and the more choked you feel, the more you know you are in (their) Utopia.

If you find that something inside you is making you do really stupid things on your own, automatically, kneejerk, and reflexively, you are probably a resident of Utopia. Things like tolerating injustice, oppression, outright evil, self censoring your thoughts before they even get anywhere near your fucking mouth, making yourself too afraid to even whisper, never mind speak your mind. You know, remember how you feel when you are frustrated and don't let yourself do anything about it?

That's how you know you're in their obviously perfect world. Precisely obvious, because obviously, it's just more fun (for them).

How Much i$ Enough? What'$ Your Number?

Originally posted on on March 12, 2011
One of the things I envy the most about Jahanshah Javid, is the boy-king is the freaking definition of FREE. While he doesn't have much money, the man knows how to live. The recent Pictory of Salsa lessons in Chihuahua, the most prime example.

How many of us, can take the time to learn how to dance Salsa. Not Zumba mind you, that's obvious, and cliche, but actual Salsa? In Mexico? Hand in hand with an honest to God Latina? (I love the Latinas, mucho!)

This in stark contrast to our all too often expressed penchant for worshiping the rich and famous amongst us. I think I get at least one butt-kissing PowerPoint file listing each Iranian millionaire and their highly questionable contributions, along with stock photo. I swear if I get one more picture of Anoushaeh Ansari in her space suit, I'm buying an iPad2 just to not be able to run the flash file.

We are supposed to place yet more misplaced Omid (hope), in Omid (Kordestani), and pretend the harlet he traded Bita in for, isn't named Hiscock. No seriously, her name is Hiscock. NO, really her name is Hiscock.

And always in the mix, there's Firouz Naderi. Because although no millionaire, Space, apparently is the final Iranian frontier. Not freedom. Not Democracy. but Space. Space is worth fighting for.

During the dot com boom, I was at a party, and as is often our custom, an hour after we all arrived an hour late, in walked in a particularly happy Iranian. As he walked in everyone cheered. I asked why and was told, "The start-up company he works for just went public today, and he is a millionaire." As is often the case, you could cut the envy with a knife.

Eventually I wormed my way up to him to ask the necessary details. Namely, what is the deal, and how can I get in on it. Hey! It was the 90's and I had just gone through the 80's! So when I got the chance, I asked him about his deal, and he explained how his company had indeed gone public that day and after some nudging and refilling his drink and choosing some especially well laden snacks from the buffet for him, he told me what I had come to find out.

"So, how much is your stock worth?" I asked, with one eye starting to twitch and close up, and a ball of itchy hives building in my throat.

"About twenty-two million" he answered, gentlemanly.

"Twenty-Two million?!" I gasped

"Yes" he said quietly, trying to quiet me.

"Dude! Fucking sell it!!!" I sputtered, both eyes twitching now, and the ball of hives, having now worked their way to my crotch.

"Nah Baba!" He smirked a smirk that you smirk to an obvious idiot. "Taazeh Avalesheh!" smirk now a big shit eating grin.

Greed as falsely advertised, is not good. You see, by my estimates, a reasonably enlightened man should be able to live a well proportioned life with something like $60k. $60k is a good number, it's not $100k, to tempt you to go for $150k, and it's well below the radar of the evil eyes that tend to focus like a laser, on you once "they" know you're making above $100k.

To do this without working, you need around $600k in the bank. Any stock broker worth spit, should be able to earn you 10% regardless of Libya. So 22 Million is way above that. Hence, my drink spilling exasperation.

Have a family and want to provide them with the pre-requisite trust funds and college education? No problem, make it a cool million for yourself, your wife, and 1 for each kid. AND NEVER WORK ANOTHER DAY IN YOUR LIFE AGAIN!

So the word for a 22 Million Dollar Man, who happened to be single as well, is a bit obvious. Mucho. And as you will shortly see, Pendejo.

Billions? Hundreds of Millions? Utter nonsense and a waste of your presence on earth. An unnamed Iranian VP at the former Search engine making 10's of millions a year, was still getting up and going in at 5 and 6 am each day. His wife sighed to me that he was "...just a workaholic". "Has he heard of ClubMed?" I asked her. The look I got matched the look Mr. 22 gave me at the party. The look that says, "You would not understand." And I completely agree with that look. The "Bunny Ranch" outside Vegas is a way better alternative to ClubMed.

A couple of years later I met Mr. 22 at a similar party, except this time, he looked haggard, grisly, eyes sunken in, and of course much older than the couple of years that had passed, since my ridiculous suggestion.

Drink and snacks in hand once again into the fire Iwent. I asked, "So how is your company doing?" I expected to hear, "Great! I'm now worth 122 Million!" Instead, he looked at me with now definite pain in his eyes, "We tanked, It's only a matter of days now before we fold." he seemed to whimper.

"That's too bad" I tried to sound encouraging. "So how much are your shares worth now?"

"I'd be lucky if I got $100,000 for them now" he seemed on the verge of crying.
Then he did something I have never seen any Iranian do, he said, "You were the only one who told me to sell then, I should have listened to you."

"Wait!" I said. "You are worth $100,000?" 

"Maybe $120,000, but Yeah about that much, why?" he asked.

"Dude sell it!!!" I screamed, once again spilling most of my drink. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Christmas is not just for Christians

Originally posted on on December 27, 2010
Going on 50 years now, beginning when I lived in Iran, I have celebrated Christmas. Or I should say, done Christmas, celebrate sounds like such a formal ritual when placed anywhere near the now loaded word "Christmas".

To me, "doing Christmas" therefore, means getting a tree, and decorating it sometime around Thanksgiving, usually the weekend after, when the tree lots are bursting to capacity and you have the best chance of finding the one that "talks" to you. The taller ones seem to talk loudest.

Decorations include the usual blown glass bulbs, lights, iconic ornaments that represent a child, or a memory, or a fond trip you took to Paris, or something you simply like to collect and display on the tree.

The tree needs an apron or a skirt, something decorative to place the presents upon.
Finally the tree gets a star at the very top. Although optional, I don't think of it as "The" star, but a star.

On the 24th, at night "Santa Claus" comes down your chimney, and if you've been good all year long or at the very minimum, most of the month of November, brings you just about everything that you carefully emailed him and included the jpeg from the website and model number just to make sure he brings the right ones, on your ever expanding list of toys, that you wished for this year.

The 24th or Christmas Eve is also traditionally the night you have a biggish dinner. The reason for this is twofold, first, it is always nice to have a nice winter dinner, and second it ensures the kids get nice and full and go to sleep allowing, Ahem, Santa Claus to go about his business undisturbed. dinner is whatever you want, you can go the Turkey, Duck, or Goose and mashed potatoes and gravy route, although it might be too soon for that seeing as Thanksgiving was less than a month earlier, but double up on Tom, Daffy, or Gander if you wish. Tah-Cheen or Baghali polo is just as good, and a khoresht or 2 perfectly perfect. Music can be anything you like, but the American classics of "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" and "Santa Clause is Coming to Town" have a particularly fitting feel. Especially if you prefer to read this in English.

Before going to bed, a plate of cookies or carrots, and a nice glass of milk or a hot cup of cocoa is put out near the chimney or tree, so that Santa can refresh himself as he unloads package after package.

Gifts sent by friends and family members, by post or UPS or FedEx are placed under the tree the same day they arrive, because obviously, those are not from Santa Claus.

On the morning of the 25th, still in pajamas, we all go to the tree and the kids begin to open up presents, usually the youngest goes first and then we rotate for about as long as we can stand it, which at best is about 4 turns, before an all out melee takes hold and everyone goes for whatever they can find that has their name on it.

After the last present is opened, breakfast is suggested, and if everyone is ready, a big breakfast consumed, of eggs, bacon, sausage, bagels, toast, cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, hot sangak, feta cheese, walnuts, hot coffee, hotter chaiee and plenty of OJ as needed.

The rest of the morning is spent playing with the toys, cleaning up the mountain of wrapping paper, while more music plays on someone's new iPod or sound system.

At around noon or later, or whenever the pang hits you, make yourself an expert plateful of last night's leftovers, and warm it up, and sit and eat, as you watch your kids play, all the while smiling to yourself, realizing that you are not at work, and still in your pajamas.

That's what Christmas means to me.

In 50 years, I have never once considered it to be the birth of Jesus, or Yalda, or any other religious or pagan ritual, as obvious as those allusions and related historical realities might seem.

Christmas is about eating lunch around 2, in your pajamas, while watching your kids play with toys.

I can't think of any better way to spend a winter's day.

Having Some Fun with White Trash...

Originally posted on on September 14, 2010
Occasionally I like to go redneck hunting. It is prevalent in most parts of America and are somewhat in season right now. They can be found near Tea Parties, are good sport, and not bad eating...

From: Kevin Deyo
Sent: Thu, September 2, 2010 4:39:28 PM
Subject: Your Beck Article

Hey Ass-shat goat herder,

It's amazing that turban wearing shiite trash child molestors such as yourself are allowed to even breathe in a Western nation, much less write rabid nonsense such as what you wrote.

I laughed out loud at your foaming out the mouth hatred of America, Beck and Palin.
You little browns always complain about us "racist" white Europeans and bitch and moan about how we are bigots, intolerant, hateful....fill in the blank. Right?

Let me tell you something punk! We white Europeans created the best country in the world ever, landed on the moon, developed medicine that enables you browns to survive in your pathetic stone-age mud-hut societies. Change is coming--get ready. In November, the elections will be landslides in our favor.

Illegal-aliens, 3rd world leaches, and mohammedan thugs such as yourselves will be put on notice.

It's going to be hard for you to sleep--you may even consider moving back to Iran.
PS: I can't wait until Israel nukes your country and turns it into a glass parking lot.

...a week later this popped out...

Reply to Kevin Deyo
Sent: Thu, September 9, 2010 3:16:06 PM
Subject: Your Comment on my Beck Article

Hay yourself, you prairie buffalo dung eating native American murdering son of a cattle rancher; Thanks for writing turd. What took you so long? Can't stop foaming at the mouth long enough to formulate a coherent sentence?

Ass shat no, but funny you should mention it, my father actually came from a long line of goat herders! It goes back to our Genghis Khan days. Wait, you do know who Genghis Khan was I hope?

Iranians like most people in the middle east do not actually wear turbans as your apparent ignorance of the way the world really works, shows. You are most likely referring to Sikhs who aren't Iranian, Arab, or muslim, and are from India.

If by child molesting you mean the way the Catholic priests molest children, then again, sorry, that's not any of us either.

Your second sentence was actually countered by your third sentence. Which is what we call an oxy-moron. You are just a moron.

Since you have only read the parts of white history you like to read, your white view of the white world and how well it has gone for you white folks, is naturally tilted towards your likely slave-owning penchant for continued self-delusion. Kind of how like you don't think you're ass and head are fat.

We agree that this is the best country in the world, which is precisely why we expect better from it and express disappointment when people like you, don't vote, or keep tabs on your politicians, who then put in place bad foreign policy that disappoints people like us.

Whether you ever landed on the moon is debatable, and since there is no proof, again, according to your own media, so I'll just take your word for it. You guys tend to do some crazy pointless shit, so it's plausible. Like bowling.

But you have never actually invented medicine that enables us to live in stone age mud huts. Because if you did, we'd still be living (and healthy) in them. We actually live in houses like yours. Wait do you own or rent? Most of us don't rent, so I don't know if you know that either. I do know that we tend to make more money than you do and therefore live in better neighborhoods than you, so I'm not sure if I should mention that or not.

We are Americans like you (in some cases more American it seems), we are not here illegally, as I said, we earn more than you so we are by no means leeches, and there is no such thing as a mohammedan thug, another of your many oxy-morons.

But, if as you expect, putting the Republicans who betrayed you that last time you voted them in, back into power again, on the upcoming elections in November, is somehow going to make things better, thanks for that, because as Americans then, we too will benefit. Not sure how that is going to work out for you though. Because remember, if you win, we win.

The reason we are all here is because of you not watching your democracy and guarding it from the right wing which has ruined America's legacy in the world by ruining countries like mine since your dear WWII.

So this is why we came here to sleep. The way we figure it is this, since you've ruined our country, a mangy dog is less likely to shit in his own house, than someone elses. So move over would you, pass the peas please, and don't mind if we do! Want to share some lamb?

PS to your PS If Israel nukes Iran, then somehow, some way, Iran with as angry as you've made her, is going to want to get even. even we don't know how that shit will go down. Suffice it to say it will be medieval. It didn't used to be this way. Israel and Iran used to like each other, so I don't know what to tell you, except that you screwed up again?

I really hope you are right this time and things change. It would certainly be better for everyone if they did.

Wait! What's that smell? Sniff Sniff, is that your possum stew burning on the stove?

The McChrystal Method

Originally posted on on June 30, 2010

The baffling news last week of General McChrystal's audacious comments being made pubic via the Rolling Stone article, have left many wondering what the hell is going on in Afghanistan these days. That and the ever present looming question on what the US and Israel are planning in the wake of Iran's rejection and ridicule of the latest round of UN economic sanctions, raise even more confusion as to what is exactly going on here.

What is clear though is that the Afghanistan Adventure in Importing Freedom to a country that doesn't seem all that interested in it, isn't going well.

If the Taliban (excluding the purported less than 30 Al Qaeda gold-members remaining in Afghanistan?) add up to even 20,000 strong, which is a stretch, then the over 150,000 US and 327 odd International forces there to fight them since 2001, and who don't seem to be winning decisively, raises the words "…quagmire in Asia" more loudly. Add in every single military technological advance and bomb design, save the use of the ultimate "H-ones, N-ones", and the effectiveness in trying to fight an insurgency (used to be called guerilla) war, with traditional West Point-taught useless Waterloo methods seems nothing short of insane.

What appears to be happening instead, is more along the lines of the occasional Little Big Horn-style victories by the Taliban (Sitting Bull indeed!) who are comfortable losing now and again, because time and the shrinking US military budget, as well as the attention-span and the patience of the American people is on their side.

Whether the comments of McChrystal last week are yet another glaring example of "The Peter Principle" at work, or simply the next episode in the ongoing Soap Opera ("Like Sands Through the Hour Glass, so go the many Generals of our time..." that has become the mode d'emploi for the US military command in the war on terror (Remember how all this started?).

No war has seen this many generals come and go, like a revolving door of post-enlistment career advancement. Aways advertised as having exemplary credentials and "great leadership", these dinosaurs have rotated in and out of CNN and Fox more than a well endowed weather girl, offering only more fuel and fodder to the Al Qaeda marketing strategy whose likely current tagline has got to be something like this:

"American Generals and Presidents May Come and Go, but HATE is forever. Here at Al Qaeda (A subsidiary of Halliburton) we may be small, but we're BIG where it counts. And we're not going anywhere…"

Clearly the Rolling Stone interview with McChrystal has opened a telling vignette on how the US military from the top down really feels about politics, politicians, and the private sector. But the information in this article, while poignant, and even laugh out loud funny, doesn't work when you're trying to execute a disturbingly routinized war. You need your general in charge to be serious. Clearly McChrystal has other aspirations, interests and hobbies. Given the long history of his misbehavior, the General's implosion, might indicate yet one more sexual deviation, that familiar TV Police drama tendency of the criminal's desperate desire to be caught and disciplined. Allowing this interview out simply doesn't make any other sense.

Obama may have sensed this wack-factor in his previous meetings with McChrystal and especially during this most recent callback to Washington last Wednesday. This could explain the speed at which the General was removed from command. I mean, his "resignation" was "accepted".

On the other hand, insanity and insubordination of your top most field commander during a war aside, this brings up the whole topic of that other US Military tradition, namely lengthy and costly involvement in places that don't want, warrant, or require it.

Afghanistan, while arguably closer than Iraq to the real root of 911, is still largely a mistaken deployment. Given how Iran got their nuclear technical know-how via A.Q Khan, and the whole General Musharraf era and cover up and possible involvement in Bhutto's mysterious death, along with the Times Square episode of Pakistanis Gone Wild, never mind everyone including one Colorado resident knows Bin-Laden is in Pakestan, you'd think we'd get the hint as to where the real trouble is coming from. While abhorrent as it was, if bombing and attacking Saudi Arabia was understandably off the table, 911 should have been a legal and reparations matter, holding the Saudi government responsible for the actions of it's citizens. Like the BP disaster, the US should have asked Saudi Arabia to clean up the mess and pay for all of it. Think of that!

Were this kind of policy put into place, even the most rogue governments like Yemen and Sudan, when faced with the final bill for their citizenry's extracurricular activities across the globe, would police themselves to be sure.

In hindsight, the better and more cost effective assignment for McChrystal and his band of merry psychopaths now, is to go back to the black ops depths from whence they came. Obviously the General is more suited to sneaking around the bushes, and stabbing people in the back, in the dark, as they sleep. And in America the land of feeling good about yourself and doing what you love as a career, this is the obvious bent here. Luckily there happens to be an actual need for this skillset at the moment. Bin Laden is still at large. Or at least his death is uncertified. And for some unexplainable reason, we can't invade Pakistan.

Obama should therefore re-assign McChrystal and give him a billion dollars a year, to buy all the necessary toys, intelligence, and rumors with which to hunt down and kill Osama. That and a farewell party, something public, something the rockstar general would enjoy, other than the ass-kicking he apparently yearns for. Maybe a celebrity roast? Something like,

"Stan look, everyone knows, you like caves. Caves are dark and slimy and scary and fun for you. Osama is purported to be living in one. Why don't you take that guy from Colorado, and go and find him, Stan? Take your time! And Stan, don't contact us, we'll contact you. And keep your mouth shut and your opinions to yourself. You are like a child who happens to be good at just 2 things, covert killing, and sarcastic comments about your boss that only you think your staff thinks is funny. Don't mistake that for maturity or leadership."

Then let Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Keith Olbermann take a few shots at him, and then send him back out to do what he was bred to do.

Petraeus in the meantime, is merely suitable as a doorman. Like that Stewardess that bids you farewell at the head of the plane exit as you disembark, to repeatedly say, "Buh-Bye!" "Thank you for flying US!" Take care now!" "Buh-Bye!" Have a nice day!" as the troops begin leaving next year according to Obama's dreams. Or they can leave this year for that matter, because in the end, it makes no difference. Regardless of whether the Afghan army and Police is ready or not. 

History of Afghanistan has taught us this time and time again. It's time we started learning from it.

No Shortage of Heroes in America

Originally posted on on June 15, 2010

Everywhere you go it seems, in America today, there are heroes. 

The obsession with being a hero and the pressure to act like one is almost palpable. Certainly pulpable.

The emergence of the American Hero is most noticeably connected to World War II (not apparently WWI though). This period of history seems to have generated the most number of heroes. You could argue that during World War II, the Japanese surgical strike on the Naval base at Pearl Harbor not withstanding, the US has technically never, really been attacked by an army on it's own soil. And certainly Nazi Germany did not try to take over the US or convert or claim it for the Third Reich. 

But, nevertheless, during world War II, the American Hero saved America, the World, and very Freedom herself. No matter how many Japs, Jerries, and priceless Italian Monasteries had to be destroyed in the process.

Recently, the cadre of remaining or missing Viet Nam vets have also been re-categorized as "Hero". Finally! Somehow the circle of highly questionable US involvement in Southeast Asia, and the dubious argument that this was in defense of American freedom, has now been successfully closed. Americans who fought in the most famous example of the pointlessness and ultimate shame of any war, have now today, been magically resurrected as Hero. The best way to gift an all too-long lost generation.

911, the first legitimately undeniable enemy attack on American soil, has now somehow magically turned every employee of every fire department in the US, into a hero. An insult to the 343 firefighters and paramedics, 23 NYPD and 37 Port Authority officers who went into an inferno, in spite of the odds and more importantly defying common sense, practice, and procedure.

This label has somewhat diminished it's value and serves as an instant gratification, and convenience store justification for more war, any war. Attached deftly by the mongers, to the recent US activities in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, today, the entire military force, virtually anyone who fights, even if they drive a truck for Halliburton, or serve fresh bacon and tater-tots to the troops from Falujah to Wazierestan, are instant, just add water and heat, Heroes.

We are told this by Starbucks, who wants to send the troops delicious (ironically) fair-trade and environmentally conscious coffee, on our behalf. Certainly the TV news media is complicit in building this brand. Even our daily commute reminds us, as we inch forward one-car length at a time, drone-eyes locked on the bumper-sticker or [insert-your-cause-here] ribbon-magnet in front of us.

And it's not just war that creates heroes. Flying geese created one when Sully landed his Airbus in the Hudson. It wasn't luck, happenstance, experience, or training. It was Heroic! Complete with his prompt resignation, getting an agent, and starting a "How to run an Airline" consulting business.

But having a nation full of of heroes is impossible. When everyone is a hero, the meaning of hero is diminished. And certainly an acute intolerant arrogance begins to grow in it's place. If everything is heroic, everything is right, then presumably we can do no wrong. Which gives us the feeling we can do as we want. Worse, it gives us want to do as we want.

Heroism is not bestowed or assigned automatically by enlisting in a war against an easily killable enemy. Heroism is not shooting an advanced or unmanned weapon at anyone in their own land.

Heroism is that earned level of ultra-humanity in which having the choice to do nothing, the hero chooses to do what is known that must be done. Not, what an ill-informed politician thinks ought to be done to make us all feel better that we killed something back, but what is tacitly and morally known as the right thing to do.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dog is God

First published on September 25, 2007

Last summer I got a dog. I wasn't planning on it, it just sort of happened. I had been thinking about a dog for years.

As a child, my father had gotten us one, while we were living in Algeria, his assignment as a technical engineer exchange program for the National Iranian Oil Company.

We lived in a beach-side residential area on the southern Mediterranean, and the puppy we got, Alfor, was very soon bitten by a wild dog roaming the sand dunes, rabid as it turned out, and after a week or so, Alfor showed up outside our house again, but with the telltale signs of foam at the mouth, dirty, bloody, exhausted, and unresponsive to our calls. So, my Dad called the Gendarmes to come out and shoot it. I can still hear the shots and the howling.

After our father's assignment was up, we returned to Iran, and lived there through the rest of Shah years, and part of the revolution, but we never mentioned getting another dog again. My brother, Kambiz and I had all but erased the bad experience of Alfor from our memories.

Last year though, as if by some per-ordained omnipotent act of a higher being exerting her decades dormant purpose on us, both Kambiz and I, unbeknownst to the other, without talking about it, at almost the same time, each of us, got a dog.

I say this hesitantly because, as a result, I am not so sure it was a choice after all.

One that either of us made entirely on our own.

We both have daughters, and as such have a connection to a life-force and being that is at once damning and darling. In my case the nagging to get a puppy had been going on for the past 5 years, and wasn't getting any less loud.

Meanwhile, as I got older, and naturally more cynical, my connection to and willingness to be guided by any sort of spiritual faith, had all but fizzled, thanks in great part to the greatest swindle in history, the best case for 0% proof of God, and 100% proof of irony, namely the Iranian "revolution".

So you could say I wasn't in any mental shape to become some sort of believer. Until this past summer.

Pressure by my daughter Sophie had been building steam since the beginning of summer. We had put off a vacation this year, having been to Italy the summer prior, so everyone wanted a bit of a break, and going to the local pool every day, and barbecuing dinner on the backyard patio, sounded simply great to us.

"Perfect time to get a dog, right Daddy?" Sophie said, in that way she talks to me whenever I am being sold something we probably don't need.

"We'll see." I would always say, trying to smile a wise Daddy smile, I don't ever seem to be able to pull off with any credibility.

We had driven past a farm for years which had the unobtrusive sign outside the wide driveway gate that said simply, "Border Collie Pups". Nothing. No reaction. Just another sign on just another winding road, traveled only occasionally to avoid the occasional accident on the freeway.

In June, as summer settled into a nice repetitive routine of hot day, warm night, I took Sophie for a ride. We like to ride in the car, talking and listening to her (not my) music, and I found us driving along the winding road, and instead of swinging past the farm with the puppy sign, I pulled in this time, quickly, and parked under a large oak tree, for the shade.

She looked at me, grinned a grin that had been carefully cultivated for 12 years, and quickly we both got out of the car and started walking towards the large white house at the end of large front open field yard, a graveyard, of dead soccer balls.

Almost immediately we were greeted by individual adult Border Collies of every shade and size. I will call these "The Apostles and Saints". Because each had a different character and seeming message.

One speckled grey and orange male ran up to sniff us excitedly with a toothy grin, dripping tongue hanging out the side of his mouth, as if to say, "Enjoy Life, because I sure am!", and then took off into the field to follow some other scent.

A tri-colored black, white and tan, walked around us eying us cautiously, just barely out of our reach, and as if to say, "Why are you here? You don't believe."

A black and white with wild flashing eyes and half a soccer ball in his mouth, trotted in a circle around us then dropped the ball promptly at our feet. "Pick it up" he seemed to say. I picked up the ball. "Toss it to me." he said. I tossed the saliva soaked ball at him. He immediately bumped it with his snout right back into my surprised waiting hands.

A big wide crazy grin now matched his crazy eyes. "Toss, and you shall receive." he said, as he took his ball and ran off into the field.

A sweet grey female with one blue eye the other brown, walked serenely up to my daughter and nuzzled her snout in the open innocent hands of the 12 year old girl, who cradled her head gently. Serenity.

Around us the rest of the 12 dogs, yes I counted twice, 12, spun about, some eager and jumping up on us, some timid, watching with clear doubt and debate in the distance. The entire farm a teeming Tibetan temple of blissful, China-free, care-free, canine monks.

As we approached the house, we could see the large garage-barn to the right of it, the garage door, open about a foot off the ground. From under the door, we could see small furry knees and paws scurrying back and forth like a kindergarten play, in and out of the shade of the hot summer sunlight.

Suddenly, two furry heads peeked out from under the door, and a black and white and brown and white trotted confidently up to us, sniffed at us with mild interest and began to stumble towards the action that was fast developing among the older dogs in full run, in the field.

As they tried to keep up with the larger dogs, the pups would occasionally get trodden upon, and would fall head first into the dirt, get up, shake their dusty heads, and continue to try to get in the game once again. With the same result.

Little did I know that this was in fact, precisely their trick. The pups, especially that brown and white one, implied and taunted us to dare to protect and care for them.

It was after all, entirely in our power and choice, to prevent them from being trampled. To care.

I was of course, averse to such trickery, having once debated an actual Mollah after the revolution, in Iran, head on. I pitched my reasonably well argued position that Mohammad's premise of Eslam was nothing more than a grand scam of the combined iconology of the world's other religions and folklore that he had cleverly accumulated, in his travels as the foreman of his wife's caravans. He had perfected each one's weaknesses, and repackaged it for the yearning of Arab consumption.

Prayer was merely calisthenics, to deliver a healthy body along with the soul, to Allah. Not eating pork a mere sign of the trichinotic times. Condemning the Dog as haram, the very proof of the fallibility and insecurity of the God argument.

So now, here on this farm, I would not be fooled by such an obvious display of the Godhead ponzi-scheme, certainly not by no dirty dusty dogs!

And so, before Sophie was lost forever to the dark side, I quickly keeshed and korralled her and we got in the car and left. As I drove out of the farm, I found myself breathing hard. "Must have been a bit of a hill climb to the car." I told myself.

Days later, I found myself thinking of the farm again and again. The faces and expressions of the dogs and pups haunting me as I tried to move about my day.

Over the coming week, Sophie and I made 3 more "pilgrimages" to the farm, trying to push aside the persistent apostles and saints, who dutifully preached the same cute sermons to us each time, as we parked and walked to the garage to see the pups who kept growing cuter with each visit.

The brown and white consistently drawing us in closer and closer, as if for a merciful snare and kill, we now longed for. Or maybe, it was just me that longed to be caught and put out of my misery.

On one of the final visits, the brown and white came up to us, and suddenly shifted and rubbed it's fuzzy head against my shin. A bow and slightest tap of her cold button-nosed snout sent an electric shock through my flip flop clad toes.

Painfully I reached down and held the round soft head in my hand, and she looked up slowly, and seemed to say, "I know. You didn't think it could happen to you. But it's OK, it's been a long time, and don't worry, we're going to be all right."

Suddenly scared, I pulled my hand back quickly, and let Sophie chase after the now scampering puppy into the yard. My heart was pounding in my chest again, and my head was now spinning ever so slightly. This time too, I blamed it on the hill-climb once again, plus a hot mid-day sun. As if not by choice, I Hajj'd my way to the house to knock on the porch screen-door.

A grey-streaked-haired woman of about sixty appeared with a twinkling blue-eyed smile.

"Howdy!" She said, with a trademark typical farm-like manner. For a minute, I swore I could smell fried chicken, fresh corn, buttermilk biscuits, 'n' gravy. Maybe even some fresh shelled peas! Please?

"I see you've met the puppies!" she said with a knowing smile.

"How much?" I asked.

And that's pretty much how I came to believe in Dog.