Wednesday, March 16, 2005

More encouraging words out of Iran

The deadly (to despots) contagion of freedom continues to spread:

Iran Press News: According to received reports from various cities in Iran, today which marks the first celebration of the Iranian New Year's Festival of Fire was met with celebrations as well as huge protests and demonstrations against the Islamic regime of Iran. The protestors chanted: "We need no Sheikh or Mullah, we curse YOU - RUHOLLAH!"

A report from Tehran: Young celebrants today set scarecrows in the likeness of various Mullahs, such as Khamenei, Rafsanjani, Khatami, Sharoudi, Jannati, etc. on fire in the streets. They cried out slogans such as: "Referendum, referendum, this is the people's dictum."

In various parts of the capitol, celebrations and parties rage on. As a part of this celebration which is held on the very last Tuesday night of the year, dry bundles of bramble and shrubbery are set on fire and people jump over them. This is in order to purge their spirits of all the sins and tribulations of the passing year, in order to start the new year, with a pure heart. This is an ancient Persian (Zoroastrian) tradition, one that the Mullahs have done their best to eradicate since their takeover in 1979.

An eyewitness reported that despite severe crackdowns by the Revolutionary Guards and storm troopers, people bravely came out of their homes to celebrate. The sound of bursting firecrackers (which is a part of the celebrations), fireworks, toy rockets, confetti and various other celebratory trajectiles can be heard all over Tehran and smoke has filled the streets.

In one of the grassy knolls, in a suburban area of Tehran, large bonfires were lit and people danced around it and continued chanting the various slogans in defiance of the Mullahs and their henchmen. It is reported that the local Mullahs in various areas of several areas have locked themselves in their mosques fearing the crowds who continually and collectively shout out their slogans.

In several other parts of Tehran, revolutionary guards who have blocked off roads in order to stop cars carrying passengers of various groups from joining others. However people have begun parking their cars and have joined their fellow celebrants on foot. The guards however have become frightened by the force of the people. In this specific area several non-Iranian journalists were also present with their film crews, reporting.

In another area of the city people took to setting the French flag on fire while chanting: "Europe is finished and so are their Mullahs." OR "Bush, Bush, where is Bush?" (In Persian this rhymes: Bush, Bush, kush, kush!).

Like last year's celebration, the brave women who also participating in the celebrations removed their headscarves, stomping and dancing.

In the town of Karaj, near Tehran, people chanted: "Death to Khamenei" as the brutal revolutionary forces took chains and batons to people, severly beating and injuring many.

In the Southern city of Ahvaaz, on the Iran/Iraq border and the surrounding townships celebrants also came out in droves, confronting the regime's thugs. In the Shi'ite holy city of Mash'had, the city closest to the border of Afghanistan, where anti-regime and anti-Mullah fervour has always been most impressive, large groups of celebrants were arrested and detained.

Monday, March 14, 2005

My Amish niece Mary being delighted to have a glamor photo of herself in shades and fuzzy turquoise slippers. Posted by Hello

Sunday, March 13, 2005

My maternal grandmother. She died six years before I was born. Cover one half of her face, then the other - two different faces. I wish I had known her. Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Maybe they'll fix it themselves

I just read a report about the Pink Revolution in Iran in which more and more Iranians are expressing their disapproval of their Islamist rulers by adopting colorful clothes and styles and mannerisms more suited to the modern industrial world than to Middle Eastern feudalism.
Those brave folks who defy the mullahs must surely be encouraged and inspired by the democratic elections next door in Iraq.
With any luck at all, they'll throw out the Islamists and install a more enlightened (maybe even democratic) regime, thus ending the developing need for us to step in and shut down Iran's nuclear program.
One can hope.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Yanked back

I had lunch with a longtime friend yesterday - a guy named Skip who started his career at "our" newspaper in 1967, the same year I did. He's a fellow Cancerian, also divorced from a Scorpio, who will mark his 67th birthday within days of my 60th this July.
Skip died about a year ago. Really.
He had a bizarre heart episode in which his heart suddenly jumped from 72 beats/minute to 270 bpm. Minutes after his wife got him to the ER, his heart spazzed out, went into flutter mode and then flatlined.
The ER doc hit him with 100 volts across the chest to no effect. Then she recalled reading about the effectiveness of putting one paddle on the right side of the chest and the other on the left hip.
She cranked the machine up to 200 volts, yelled, "Clear!" and let him have it. His wife said he leapt about six inches straight up and, when he came down, his heart started beating again.
His next recollection was waking up much later with tubes down his throat.
But, as you might expect, he had an interesting experience during that period he was without a heartbeat - a point where a lesser doc would have called it and declared him dead.
His recollection is of a white featureless background out of which his long-dead father emerged.
Skip's dad died an old, enfeebled man, ravaged by diabetes that cost him a leg. But the father Skip saw was as he looked in his 40s - muscular and fit and in the prime of life. He stood there at a distance of what seemed like 20 yards, staring at Skip with his arms crossed over his chest. Neither spoke a word.
Then Skip's dad turned to his left and stepped into the white nothingness.
Presently, he reappeared with Skip's maternal grandparents, looking as they did late in life. The three of them stared across the void at Skip and he stared back, no one speaking. Then they turned and walked into the whiteness.
"Those were the three closest people to me when I was growing up," Skip said, adding he spent every summer on his grandparents' farm in southern Illinois.
The next impression he can retrieve was of a gray iron bar about 2 inches thick and 18 inches shooting through his chest and another piercing his left hip.
The point of our lunch meeting - I hadn't seen him since our paper was chloroformed by the parent corporation in the late 1990s - was to talk about motorcycles. Skip had bikes when he was in his 30s and is getting back into motorcycling. He wanted my thoughts on what bikes might be right for him.
He's signed up to take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's novice rider course next month and I'll bet he's the oldest student they'll have this year.
But my friend Ted Simon rode a BMW R80 G/S around the world - yes, around the entire planet - in the two years following his 70th birthday.
I think Skip will be just fine on a bike and I hope to ride with him this summer when he decides on a machine.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Apropos of nothing

I've got a Gibson without a case,
but I can't get that even tanned look on my face...

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

FAFSA blues

My stepdaughter just completed her FAFSA - federal student aid questionnaire - and is, once again, pissed off at her mother for not providing the $17,000/year financial aid the formula says we should be giving her.
The problem is that the formula counts total household net worth and my accumulated wealth skews the whole thing. My wife has about $3k in a 401K and her income of about $30k/year. Everthing else in the equation is mine and the Federal forumla presumes that I'm going to give up some of my retirement resources to put someone else's kid through college.
Last year, my wife cashed in the investments she had made for her daughter's college and turned the money over to her daughter for her freshman bills. It should have been much more, but the stock market slump hammered it down to a shockingly low level. And that's all there was in terms of college savings, something that's sure to come up in the next few months when her son graduates from high school and wants to take the next step.
Perhaps her daughter would rather we get divorced, so she could have a more accurate reporting of her mother's limited ability to provide financial assistance.
She called her mom the other night screaming about how unfair it is that her father (remember him, the guy who doesn't return her phone calls and didn't want her at his place for Christmas) has to pay (although he's way behind), but her mother doesn't.
She needs to just suck it up, get whatever loans she needs, work as many hours as possible and get on with it. Considering I have no obligation to her education, I'd say I've been rather generous, buying her a new computer to replace the obsolete, largely stolen, piece of shit her father gave her four years ago, and providing her with a free cell phone and cell service.
I feel strange listing that stuff because it looks like I'm keeping score, but I'll be damned if I'll compromise my retirement resources to take up the slack for her deadbeat asshole father who is still paying the same amount of support that was decreed by the court at the time of their divorce 9 years ago, even though the court required him to report every pay raise he received so the amount could be adjusted upwards. He's living pretty large - with 3 adopted kids and a stay-at-home wife - for a guy who hasn't had a raise in a decade.