Tonight is the longest night in the northern hemisphere, where most of humanity inhabits. Tomorrow, Earth axis is the most oriented away from the Sun which marks the “winter solstice”.
Called “Chelleh“ or “Yalda”, tonight, has been celebrated by Iranians since more than five millenniums ago. It was first as the birth of the Indo-Iranian goddess “Mitra” in the ancient Persia (which was later associated with Sun), and then as a Zoroastrian religious fest. Nowadays, it’s a social occasion where families and friends gather around and stay together, keeping the fire (or candles) burning through the longest night until the sun rises again, reading poems and eating nuts, watermelon and pomegranate.
p.s. Persian Calendar, like the Gregorian calendar, is solar. Moreover its important dates are inspired by nature rather than human made historical events. For us, today was the last day of autumn and winter started tomorrow, not because one out of billions of humans had birthday or another took over a dynasty and took power. Only astronomy.
p.s. Many thanks to Negin Ehtesabian for that two years ago she made this copyrighted illustration for this blog and I finally use it now. 🙂
How is it that a people such as the Iranian people – one of the world’s greatest peoples, one of the world’s oldest civilisations, sophisticated, cultured, open – have the misfortune of being represented as they are today by some of their leaders?
Well, that’s kind of you monsieur :). If you eventually discovered “how is it that”, let us know! Meanwhile we work on it…
Back to 55 years ago and during the Shah era, when Iranian police agents fired and killed three students (two marxists and one nationalist) inside the campus of University of Tehran, the day 6th of December has been recognized as an official day in Iranian calendar called Student Day. Since then, before and after the revolution, Iranian students, both seculars and religious, celebrate this anniversary, protesting against the dictatorship and policies of the government.
This year the student organizers preferred the day after, December 7, to hold the protests. Therefore, today and yesterday, students at University of Tehran synchronized with other universities in the capital and other cities have held gatherings, calling in particular for the release of the imprisoned and re-admittance of the suspended students and the fired faculty. The students of other universities who were not allowed to pass into the university broke the western entrance gate to join the crowd and some are arrested. In spite of that all of the campus universities were fully surrounded by police, the state security forces, and intelligence and security agents, many of the students succeeded to attend. According to some attendants’ observations, the atmosphere has been violated more and the slogans have become fairly more anti-governmental being compared to the previous years.
I’ve met the author, Akbar Ganji, several times back home in Khordad newspaper, one of the dozens of reformist newspapers in the age of the Iranian former president. I’ve always been a fan of his brave investigations and an active reader of his many Persian books and articles since more than a decade ago. It was of course despite the fact that in the naturally conservative context of Iranian reformism, many of his close friends were blaming his radical approach, claiming that their own moderate solutions “to step back and pay less when fundamentals are coming forward” could be wiser. During these hard days the Iranian people are facing the results of such a wisdom, I think!
I just ordered this first English book by Ganji published by MIT Press and thus highly recommend it hereby:
Akbar Ganji, called by some “Iran’s most famous dissident,” was a commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. But, troubled by the regime’s repressive nature, he became an investigative journalist in the 1990s, writing for Iran’s pro-democracy newspapers. Most notably, he traced the murders of dissident intellectuals to Iran’s secret service. In 2000 Ganji was arrested, sentenced to six years in prison, and banned from working as a journalist. His eighty-day hunger strike during his last year in prison mobilized the international human rights community.
The Road to Democracy in Iran, Ganji’s first book in English, demonstrates his lifelong commitment to human rights and democracy. A passionate call for universal human rights and the right to democracy from a Muslim perspective, it lays out the goals and means of Iran’s democracy movement, why women’s rights trump some interpretations of Islamic law, and how the West can help promote democracy in Iran (he strongly opposes U.S. intervention) and other Islamic countries.
Throughout the book Ganji argues consistently for universal rights based on our common humanity (and he believes the world’s religions support that idea). But his arguments never veer into abstraction; they are rooted deeply in the realities of life in Islamic countries, and offer a clear picture of the possibilities for and obstacles to improving human rights and promoting democracy in the Muslim world.
Last night Eric Singer, musician and technologist from NY, had an electronic concert in Trondheim Match Making 08, a festival for art and technology. He is the founder of LEMUR (League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots). He is talking about his invention, Guitar Bot, one of the robotic musical instruments they have built up so far:
Now he has Adam Matta, the fantastic beat-boxer in his group:
In one piece while Adam and the robots were performing together, he wanted to teach them a rhythm so that they can tap with him. Tonight, during the Norwegian folk dinner Eric Singer told me he had just finished the programming code for this part right before the concert!
When something comes to the musical collaboration, I can not avoid thinking of collaboration over a distance. Since last night I’ve been thinking about the possibility of playing these musical instruments remotely, since in principle they are being controlled by MIDI commands.
In a remote duet we have two musicians and two instruments, each musician with his/her instrument in its own side. What if we keep a musician in one side and bring the instrument (remotely played by him through robots) to the other side? Then, instead of transferring the wave signal stream, we can send the performer’s MIDI commands and reproduce the musical sound at the destination, where the other musician is playing his/her own instrument and the audiences are attending.
You can check-out any time you like, But you can never leave!
Last night I was listening to this for long hours, while I couldn’t believe that I’ve committed that mistake, the other way around! I did leave California but I didn’t check out! I didn’t pass through the secondary border check which is mandatory for Iranians and didn’t go through all the so-called rituals.
I’m back in Norway now without the stamp, hoping to be able to get there again without any penalty.
There is noting called «Luck». Or at least given a certain state to start with, there is nothing existing with such a name, since the good things and the bad things come with the same probability for everyone.
One can be lucky or not in very few motives of life, but not for ever. In the time-line of life, events such as when your parents met at first, and when you were the successful sperm are among those only points that we should believe in the role of “luck” in our lives.
Back to the last post, three friends told me that «you are fucking lucky!». Thanks for the notification. If you look at the whole thing the fact that my travel document was finally an «Iranian passport after 1979», among a hell of other possibilities doesn’t make me a lucky person. That’s actually one of the worst such documents to carry on the. One could say that in that specific visa case I had at least a kind of “conditional luck”.
Can you see the three dimensional tomb (called Pasargadae) hidden behind the cuneiform texture on the top picture? It is recommended to try the picture in higher resolution by clicking on the top pic. The black and white image at the bottom is the key.
In case you are not familiar with magic eye techniques (autostereograms), these are pictures that can give you a visual illusion of a 3D sculpture from a 2D pictures if you know how to look at them. You should try to change the angle by which your eyes focus on the image. Position your eyes as you are looking at an object behind the screen. Enjoy!
p.s. Here is the book I wrote back then in Persian, plus its software Jarf-Negar. It’s unfortunately under DOS as it was before the release of Windows 95. It was, as far as I remember, the best graphic DOS could ever afford: “Super” VGA, 1024X768 pixels with only 16 colors (selected palette)!