Friday, November 03, 2006

Where To Look For Business Issues In India?

If you are looking for scholarly work on business environment in India, you may want to turn to Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.

India's Legal Environment for Businesses

Will India's legal environment improve for businesses?

Foreign Investment in Indian Property

Real estate investment in India begins to up to foreigners.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A couple of finance reports

A couple of finance reports this weekend are worth noting.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Mandarin in Bogota

Business opportunities bring Mandarin to Bogota.

Harvesting Market Chatter for Hedge Funds

Monitor110 harvests market chatter for hedge funds. "[I]t tickers the unstructured universe," according to Roger Ehrenberg, its chief operating officer. (See the related FT report.)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Mortgages to Credit Cards

Financial markets for consumer products from mortgages to credit cards are changing with the click-to-compare services. Comparison websites ("aggregators") can displaly hundreds of options. To provide these services, "screen scaping" techniques are used to take data from other websites.

Here are some samples:

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Shunning the IPO

An excellent Financial Times article tells us why many good Web 2.0 companies are shunning the venture capitalists and the IPOs:

Not only are they not turning on the taps of venture capital, the new companies are avoiding the stock market. Many of the entrepreneurs in the latest boom were around during Nasdaq’s collapse after 2000 when investor confidence in the technological sea change – which appeared to be coming from Silicon Valley and which had built up spectacularly in the late 1990s – suddenly evaporated.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Are Entrepreneurs Born or Bred

Guy Clapperton of the Guardian explores whether entrepreneurship is a born or bred trait.

Clapperton examines several real-life cases involving entrepreneurship in family lines and outside of family lines.

He also summarizes a recent study by Panasonic:

Panasonic recently commissioned research into what people who have the ability and motivation to turn themselves into businesspeople actually do with it. Brennan Peyton, head of sales for Panasonic Document Systems, says: "The key thing for us is what turns people who have the ability to be entrepreneurs into fully-fledged successful businesspeople."

The main conclusion that surprised Panasonic was how little planning went into the process. "About 54% of UK businesses start without any business planning at all, so they're often described as accidental entrepreneurs," he says. "Something forces a change in their life, normally it would appear to be in their 30s, prompting them from doing what they're doing to being an entrepreneur." These prompts can be redundancy, a geographical move, anything. "We found the spark that makes that happen doesn't necessarily leap from, 'I'm going to do this' to, 'I'm going to make a plan'."

The result is a lot of businesses that succeed without actually having an aim - presumably "doing well enough" is as good a measure of success as any for people in this position. Panasonic's main interest is in the fact that 64% of these entrepreneurs felt that technology was the thing that enabled their business to survive and compete. This is a little like saying Leonardo da Vinci did well for himself because he had the right paintbrushes, and Peyton freely confirms that the business idea has to work in the first place and the technology has to be deployed sensibly. "In terms of a startup making itself look like a larger concern and competing in that market, it makes a difference," he says.

Financial Times and Small Adds for Small Companies

Financial Times is reported to be considering a page of small ads by small companies. These will be the corporate equivalent of "tombstone" advertisements in FT.

Poor Argument

Here is a poor argument for belief in god.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

For Casual Sudoku

For casual Sudoku, this is the place to be.

American Venture Magazine

American Venture Magazine is another nice place to learn about the world of venture capital.

Venture Capital Business Grows in India

Venture capital business keeps growing in India as is observed by many while venture capital business in Canada takes a tumble in 2006.

Funding a Business

Venture firms play a key role to fund businesses. However, they do not always select the best or the most important opportunities on an individual basis. What works is that because there are multiple VCs, eventually one of the sees and grasps the opportunity that might be out there.

Some time ago, some friends of mine and I were tossing around ideas about a mobile service. Today, after about two years, I see these ideas having been funded and getting into servicability. Two years ago, when we were looking around, it was hard to find any one working on them.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Here, is an interesting quote form Thomas Schelling, winner of 2005 Nobel prize in Economics about "salami tacics."

Online Discussion on Iran and Nuclear Technology

Here is an interesting Post Global online discussion held by Ali Ettefagh.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Commercial Space Travel

Check this out on commercial space travel.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Correctness or Honor

If you wonder whether correctness or honor should matter to a mathematician, and whether for a mathematician there's an honor greater than being beautifully correct, you should take a look at this report on how Grigory "Grisha" Perelman has refused a price and focused on the degree of conviction in the correctness of his solution to the 100-year-old Poincaré Conjecture on the properties of spheres.

Let it rain potatoes!

Genetically modified (GM) potatoes are to be planted in Britain, reports Guardian.

The Picture

Another one in the series of this picture was also published by Financial Times on page 2 of its Thursday, August 10, 2006.

I found the story told by these pictures very moving when I first saw the one in Financial Times.

In Financial Times, the picture has a smaller frame and all you see is the fingers of a soothing hand on Fadi's right sholder. His left cheek rests on the head of of the body of his son, whose body has been wrapped in a shroud. (See below for the picture.)

The Financial Times caption for the photo says this:
Fadi Dahaineh holds the body yesterday of his 20-month-old son Mohammed, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike on Beirut.

Other reports, like the one by Britain's Guardian (see below), indicate that Fadi's wife was killed in the same strike.

CNN has also published the photo.

Another in the series has been published by Seattle Post-Intelligencer.


Norman Finkelstein has blogged about the photo.

The BBC published the picture at the bottom of this report.

The Guardian gives the story behind the picture a more prominent place in this report. It carries the following caption for the following picture:

Fadi Dahaineh mourns over the bodies of his wife and son killed in an Israeli air strike. Photograph: Hussein Malla/AP

Fadi Dahaineh mourns over the bodies of his wife and son killed in an Israeli air strike.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Any Surprise in the Tube

Should there be any surprise that YouTube has gone commercial?

Video ads was a natural extention to support the service.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Scientist Talks to Hark Talk

BBC's Hard Talk is in the habit of hard talk with people in politics.

Now, Hard Talk talks to Michio Kaku about the end of the world and cosmology.

Kaku gives a taste of his examination of the limitations of the idea of the uni-verse and advances the concept of multi-verse. (Multi-verse is a great concept and matches very well with incompleteness theorem in logic, where multiple models support the same "facts" but each also facts that are in contradiction with innumerable number of facts in innumerable other models.)

Kaku also resolves various imaginary contradictions some people insist exist between modern cosmology and traditional religious accounts, or I should have liked to say theosophy.

However, he ends with some questionable categorization of civilizations. That's where he talks beyond his expertise. For he seems to claim he knows what he does not and cannot know in the created world.

In general, his future-telling about human civilization is the weakest point of his arguments.

The Inconvenient Truth

The Inconvenient Truth does best in showing how human beings become comfortable with what exists. Their will for change seems to have atrophied tremendously.

Hybrid Cars

There was a time when there was a great deal of debate on whether hybrid cars would ever pay for the premium on their price through savings in gas prices.

Hybrid cars are expected to pay for themselves, one reads in recent reports.

Rule on Unconstitutionality of Wiretapping

With Judge Anna Diggs Taylor's ruling, unconstitutionality of wiretapping gets a lot more attention.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Ian Williams' Blog

Ian Williams, The Nation's U.N. correspondent, writes a blog worth reading.

I do wish he also included shorter pieces which could better reach the blog-reading public!

Ian Williams also has a number of interesting books, including The U.N. For Beginners.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What is Easier?

What is easier?

  1. To gain market share in a market when there's already a leader, a second and a third player.
  2. To create innovation in a new, unaddressed market segment.

None might be easier than the other but every company should know enough about itself to decide which of these two approaches it is pursuing as a part of its company culture.


Check out the Washington Post's online Sudoku game.

It has everything you might want in the game when played on a paper sheet plus the bells and drums of victory ;-)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Main Reason People Fight

For centuries, while some fight to gain more power, most fight simply to defend themselves against aggression. (See my note on the Peloponnesian wars.)

This basic fact escapes the writers of a recent Washington Post article filled with interesting speculations about the fighting tactics of Hizballah (some use the word Hezbollah).

The speculations gathered in this article draw mostly from Israeli prespectives and unknown and unnamed "Lebanese sources".

While the Washington Post article by Molly Moore and Edward Cody ("The Best Guerilla Force in the World") has a Beirut byline, according to the endnote "Moore reported from Jerusalem" while "[c]orrespondent Jonathan Finer....contributed to this report" from Gosherim.

So, is bylining the article from Beirut an editorial technique to make the sources and perspectives appear to be rooted in Lebanon? To be more honest, the editors should have probably bylined the article from Jerusalem or Gosherim.

And does the headline want to imply that the resistance is simply some rebel force in the tradition of Latin American guerillas and not in the tradition of the Vietcong army, which would give a resistance force greater credibility for its efforts? A more accurate headline would have probably been "Hizbollah's Military Discipline Frustrates IDF on Lebanese Soil."

Headlines and bylines--these are the simplest and yet most important choices made by editors, and in this case, they were made by Washington Post's Foreign Service editor. (I'm assuming there is such a person working at The Washington Post.)

These choices frame the mind of the reader because they are the first things the reader notices about an article. The editor needs to make unbiased choices. That's not too much to expect from The Washington Post which carries a great mission.

Finally, I should add that the issue of how mental frames can be used to gain an advantage has been discussed thoroughly by Stanford Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer in his Managing with Power: Politics and Influence in Organizations.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

One Man Who Knows How to Speak

A colleague just pointed me to this Sky interview with George Galloway.

While many have been side-stepped, silenced or intimidated by the war rhetoric in the Western media, George Galloway proves himself daring enough not to shy away from speaking his mind on the war.

Here's another Galloway speech on the Middle East linked from the Respect Unity Coalition.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Turkey Speaks on the War

Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks on the war.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Video Historiography of The Occupation

You can see it on this video which shows how the media covers the longest running occupation of a people in mondern history.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Some See It This Way

And this is how some Iranian anti-war activists in the U.K. and U.S. see the war in the Middle East and its consequences.

Monday, July 31, 2006

How Many Birth Pangs in Qana, Lebanon

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke thus on Friday July 21, 2006, in her news conference:

But I have no interest in diplomacy for the sake of returning Lebanon and Israel to the status quo ante. I think it would be a mistake.

What we're seeing here, in a sense, is the growing -- the birth pangs of a new Middle East.

In Qana, Lebanon, the birth pangs looked like this on April 18, 1996, and like this, this, this and this on July 29, 2006.

One Fiancial Times report
on the Qana massacre of July 29, 2006 goes as follows:
Yesterday's killings underscored what UN officials have been saying in recent days - that the conflict was claiming an unnaturally large numbers of child victims on the Lebanese side. Overall, up to 542 Lebanese have been killed during Israel's offensive, according to Lebanese officials, the vast majority of them civilians. On the Israeli side 51 people have been killed, the majority soldiers.
See Robert Fisk's article on the April 18, 1996 massacre.

See Robert Fisk's article on the current war.

See Robert Fisk's article on the July 29, 2006 mssacre.

See Alexandar Cockburn's July 31, 2006 article.

Here, is Dan Gillerman, the Israeli ambassador to the U.N. puts it bluntly, as quoted by Financial Times:
When you sleep with a missiles, sometimes you don’t wake up in the morning.
Surely, the children of Qana were each hugging "missiles" to sleep.

If you live in the U.S. and want to know why all this seems strange and fresh to you, you might want to watch this Google video of a documentary--a documentary which you are highly unlikely to see on your local T.V.

New Cartoon by Bendib

Khalid Bendib, San Francisco based cartoonist, has a new cartoon critiquing the U.S. media's perspective on the Middle East.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Top of Tochal

Here's my photo at the top of Mount Tochal.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

U.S. Ranks 12th in Broadband Internet Access

DSL Broadband is growing in the U.S. but it still ranks 12th in the world, Reuters reports:

The United States is ranked 12th in the world for broadband subscribers behind countries including Iceland, South Korea and Japan, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's most recent rankings.

Tit-for-Tat, Bit Torrent and War Strategy

Game theory and strategic talk has always sounded like black humor to me. Here, I demonstrate this by example.

Tit-for-tat is reputed, in game-theoretic analysis, as an optimal strategy for repeated, zero-sum games. (See, for example, the analysis in Avinash Dixit's Thinking Strategically.)

There are many uses of tit-for-tat strategy.

For example, BitTorrent protocol uses a tit-for-tat strategy to create balanced up-loads and down-loads. Presumably, the P2P file sharing contains aspects similar to repeated, zero-sum games.

Tit-for-tat is also used by some of the authors and strategists of wars, which can also be considered as repeated, zero-sum games, with each day of the war, or each battle, representing one of the "games". (We see this in the war that has recently started and promises to continue.)

However, some strategists of war have replaced proper tit-for-tat with the concept of infinite escalation, or something akin to "TIT-for-tat," i.e. a vastly disproportinate response as a way to punish. (Here, I'm using capital letters to note the disproportionality of the "TIT" part to the "tat" part.)

However, not only is this strategy less optimal from the game-theoretic perspective and given infinitely-repeating zero-sum games, there is also a real-world catch to this more aggresive strategy that makes it less and less attractive as the games continue to repeat, i.e. as the war continues to go on.

For example, after a country's infrastructure has been destroyed there is not much else to do in terms of escalation other than massacring civilians. However, this is not a real strategy with a real pay-off. A TIT-for-tat (i.e. escalation) war strategist has already failed because he can rarely afford a long conflict. In fact, that is exactly the reason the escalation strategist chooses to escalate, hoping the other side to accept defeat as early as possible. In other words, the strategy itself speaks for its own weakness, i.e. its lack of tolerance for a long conflict.

Another problem with unmeasured escalation and "unproportional use of force" is that eventually the opponent may have the equipment to respond to the escalation, returning the game from TIT-for-tat to a more balanced TIT-for-TAT, which is another version of tit-for-tat.

Related links:

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Noting Less Real

When it comes to politics, Financial Times, a paper I subscribe to and have delivered to my home in San Jose, California, every day of the week except Sundays, has rarely published anything less real, less reasoned, less knowledgeable and more false than this little effort at thinking (a column?) by William Kristol, reputed to be an editor of The Weekly Standard.

Alas! More and more opinion pieces on "Middle East" have become like that but good rhetoric and rhythmic writing never made good reason. This one is a grand proof of it.

Every paragraph has good music but false starts and conclusions of reason. So, I do not know where to begin, and I simply stop here. Failure of logic knows best.

For an alternative perspective, rarely seen on Financial Times, you may turn to here.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Red Card for Zinédine Zidane

Matt Foot of the Guardian writes about the red card Zinédine Zidane received in the final match of the 2006 World Cup between France and Italy.

Peter Berlin summarizes Zidane's account of the incident for the International Herald Tribune. He also delves into some of the political and socio-ethnic issues that the incident has, once again, revealed.

Phil Taylor of Sports Illustrated gives another account.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Politics and the World Cup

International Herald Tribune has published an interesting article about the relationship between the World Cup and Brazilian politics:

World Cup play also has a big impact on the economy. When Brazil wins, Brazilians feel happy and proud, and respond by spending more money, which bolsters growth and by extension confidence in the government.

Monday, June 19, 2006

اولين جمله اولين تکه وبلا گ فارسی

اولين جمله اولين تکه وبلا گ فارسی من خيلی طول کشید. اززهره برای نشان دادن آریا نویس متشکرم.....

Thanks go to Zohreh for pointing me to Aryanevis Persian editor.

There are still a few glitches but I think I'm on my way, and I'm fast learning the position of letters on the keyboard.

Pooya has now pointed me to Behdad's Persian editor, which comes with a nice large keyboard image making it useful to people like me who've not completely mastered the Persian letters' keyboard placement. Pooya also points to his own Javascript Persian editor, based on earlier work by Behdad.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Lost In Translation

It may be lost in translation by some, but not to Jonathan Steele of The Guardian. Steele points to the following original in Persian. and goes over many of the more accurate translations.

Translation does indeed matter if the mis-translation is used as an argument for waging war. Ntohing can be worse than a war started because of intentional mis-representation and mis-translation. However, those who have been mis-translated again and again have grown weary of of fear.

I had only heard fragments of it but it was immediately obvious to me that the speaker was being intentionally misquoted and mistranslated.

A due respect to any language, and particularly a classical language such as Persian, demands proper and accurate translation.

I was only wondering when someone would dare to raise the issue and it looks like it has now been finally raised by someone for whom the actual truth matters.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Immutability of Tuples and Lists in Python

Python also ships with Cygwin.

Here's a piece using my Cygwin distribution.

This piece demonstrates the immutability of Python lists vs. Python tuples.

Remember that the concept behind "lists" and "tuples" in Python are different from similar mathematical concepts. In mathematics, we often use tuples to refer to various types of orderings. For example, it may be common to say "a measure is a tuple of..."

$ python
Python 2.4.1 (#1, May 27 2005, 18:02:40)
[GCC 3.3.3 (cygwin special)] on cygwin
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> mytuple = 1,3,2,0
>>> mylist = [1,3,2,0]
>>> mytuple[0]
>>> mytyple[0] = 0
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "", line 1, in ?
NameError: name 'mytyple' is not defined
>>> mylist[0]
>>> mylist[0]=0
>>> mylist
[0, 3, 2, 0]

Saturday, June 10, 2006

A Conservative Game

Paraguay and England played a very conservative World Cup 2006 game.

Let's hope for better games to come.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Goldman Sachs and the World Cup

According to Financial Times, Goldman Sachs has released a 60-page report on the economics of the World Cup.

However, Goldman is not the only financial institution to speculate about the economic and financial effects of the World Cup.

London-based Center for Economics and Business Research estimates a boost to economics of participating nations, and of the order of $20 billion for Germany. However, it predicts productivity losses in Latin America due to absenteeism. Matches will occur, mostly, during working hours in South America but during late afternoon in Europe.

German Chamber of Commerce is expecting a 60,000 rise in jobs due to the World Cup.

"Hosting a major sporting event raises the profile, status and reputation of the host nation, providing a lasting boost to tourism and business investment," says Lucy Hartiss of Capital Economics, a London-based consultancy.

Economists from ABN Amro, the Netherlands-based bank, have authored Soccernomics. Their research indicates that the World Cup-wining nation enjoys 0.7 per cent additional economic growth compared to the previous year as well as a boost to its stock market. (Note that only a handful of nations have ever won the World Cup. So, we're not talking about a great statistical base for these speculations.)

There is also a set back "to productivity as employees callin sick or sneak off work early to watch games," writes Scheherzade Daneshkhu for Financial Times. "But additional consumption provides a boost. The feelgood factor, especially in countries that progress to semi-finals, leads to happier consumers - and contented shppers tend to spend more."

IHT World Cup Blog

Check out IHT's Roger Cohen's World Cup Blog.

First Pair of Jeans Purchased On the Web

It has proven impossible to find jeans that actually fit me in stores.

So, after may years of looking, I finally did need a new pair badly enough that I ordered my first pair of jeans on the web.

Baggy Fit from Gap --

Ordering was easy and the survey even easier to fill.

Now, I can throw away the old, torn pair.

Five More Days to World Cup 2006

Yes, only five more days are left to the World Cup 2006.

The Guardian plans a World Cup 2006 podcast, available also as a free subscription on iTunes.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Meaning of Treaties

Article IV of the NPT says the following:

Article IV

1. Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty.

2. All the Parties to the Treaty undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Parties to the Treaty in a position to do so shall also co-operate in contributing alone or together with other States or international organizations to the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially in the territories of non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty, with due consideration for the needs of the developing areas of the world.

However, some people think that we should use judicious double standards when applying such treaties.

Of course, that this logic suffers does not prevent it from getting a broad forum for professionally produced prose that uses it to advance dubious arguments.

International law, like any other law is there to reduce transaction costs (including wars) in the dealings among nations.

To belittle these laws brings us to very dangerous borders.

Python for Education

I was pleasantly surprised to see Python is popular within the education community.

For example, take a look at the programming languages resources at Kirby Urner's Mathematical Canvas.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

MPlayer for Mac OS X

If you're a Mac user and are trying to play an AVI file of a German TV program from the recent Germany - Japan soccer game, downloaded through bit Torrent using Azureus, with XviD compression, you may want to try MPlayer for Mac OS X.

Friday, June 02, 2006

First interaction with Python

Having not read any manuals, here's my first interaction with Python on our family iMac at home:

masood-mortazavis-imac-g5:~ masood$ python
Python 2.3.5 (#1, Mar 20 2005, 20:38:20)
[GCC 3.3 20030304 (Apple Computer, Inc. build 1809)] on darwin
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> 1+1
>>> 1./3.
>>> 2./6.
>>> 2./3./1.
>>> 0.9999**99
>>> .99999**10000
>>> .5**99
>>> exit
'Use Ctrl-D (i.e. EOF) to exit.'
>>> ^D
masood-mortazavis-imac-g5:~ masood$

Sounds like a pretty handy calculator to me but I'm sure it can do much more!

Japan vs. Germany

Youtube video highlights of the game can be found here.

Angola vs. Argentina

Youtube video of the highlights of the game can be found here.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Government documents in the digital age.

Government Printing Office is moving to the digital age, reports Zachary A. Goldfarb of the Wasthington Post.

"Americans wanted to search for information on the Web and did not want to pay for printed versions of government documents. Seventeen thousand people, for example, paid to receive the Congressional Record in 1995, a number that was quickly shrinking by 2002 and now stands at less than 2,000. A quarter of a million pages are retrieved from it online in a month.
"The Future Digital System will respond to that trend by making available online all 2.2 million government documents -- a total of 60 million pages -- by the end of the 2007, tagged by keywords so they can be easily searched. It is a nearly $30 million endeavor and will include documents all the way back to the nation's founding."

Tracking Data on the Traveller

Aoife White of Associated Press reports how U.S. plans to keep collecting data on European passengers coming into the U.S. (See Washington Post for the reprint.)

"U.S. authorities will be able to keep trawling through personal data on passengers flying from Europe, even though the European Union's highest court found problems Tuesday with the accord that made airlines share the information.
"During negotiations leading up to the 2004 accord, the EU won some concessions from the U.S., such as shortening the time the information is stored, to a maximum 3 1/2 years, and deleting sensitive data such as meal preference, which could indicate a passenger's religion or ethnicity."

However, this is World Cup season.

There are probably more people heading in the opposite direction.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The View

Here is the view from WashingtonPost.Com newsroom.

Online Media Presence

Washington Post has one of the best online presence of any print media I know. It combines advertising, interactive social content networking technologies (e.g. blogs, technoratic, etc.), video, audio and blogs by its writers on various beats. which also has a fairly sophisticated online presence for a news media comes close to the Post but Post is unique in the sense that it traditionally was and continues to be a significant print medium with a distinguished past.

Blogs posted by Reuters seem to be focused on what counts as less than the news.

Many of the entries are in the "oddly enough" category, which are farcical pieces.

The other mentionable category at is the tech-media-telecoms, including this bit about MADtv.

Finally, in the emerging technology category, we see entries like the one on a Yellow Submarine.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

No One is Listening

IHT reports on a recent article on wiretapping in the U.S.

The article, in USA Today, said that the agency did not listen to the calls, but secretly obtained information on numbers dialed by "tens of millions of Americans" and used it for "data mining" - computer analysis of large amounts of information for clues or patterns to terrorist activity.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Some Times

Some times, editorials make absolutely no sense. Or as we say in Persian, they have neither a head nor a tail. They demonstrate how little the editorial writer has understood the ups and downs of a situation, how lost the writer is and how little he or she knows.

Words strung together, yet meaningless.

The Old Hawk Speaks

Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawk in the Carter administration who according to some gave the green light to Saddam Hussein to attack Iran, opins, somewhat more wisely, on the most recent political "debate" in Washington.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

So Many Inches for So Much Nonsense

Never before have I seen so many inches of Washington Post columns devoted to so much nonsense, and Robert Kaplan ends it all with hollower words, sounding like a pretentious sage basking in the drunken slumber of a deep discovery:

Never before have we needed a more unified military-diplomatic approach to foreign policy. For the future is a multidimensional game of containment.

What on earth, exactly, is a "multidimensional game of containment" supposed to be if it is not a self-isolating policy to doom. Perhaps, to make it sound even more Hilbertian and mathematically pure, Kaplan should have called it an infinite-dimensional game (of self-deception?).

Monday, April 17, 2006

Three Women Dare to Speak the Truth

On Monday, April 17, 2006, Financial Times published a letter from three female professors of Iranian origin—Prof Haleh Afshar (University of York), Dr Ziba Mir-Hosseini (London Middle East Institute) and Dr Elaheh Rostami-Povey (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London). I reproduce the letter, below, in full.

Essential that we do whatever possible to prevent a war on Iran
By Haleh Afshar, Ziba Mir-Hosseini and Elaheh Rostami-Povey
Financial Times, April 17 2006, p.12.

Sir, As three Iranian British academics, we are writing to express our grave concerns about the growing threat of war against Iran. It is essential that we do whatever is possible to prevent such a disaster.

We would like to clear a number of misunderstandings about Iran. As a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty (NPT), Iran asserts its right under Article IV of the NPT to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The announcement last week of a nuclear breakthrough is part of this right and is intended for peaceful purposes.

Iran has complied with Articles I and II of the NPT not to acquire nuclear weapons, and Article III, where it accepts full safeguards. It has signed the NPT additional protocol and has allowed intrusive inspections beyond what is required by compliance with the NPT. Numerous inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency have failed to provide any shred of evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons programme.

Iran has repeatedly announced that it is committed to replace the course of confrontation with good-faith interaction and negotiations, as equal partner, for a peaceful solution to its nuclear issue. It has stated its commitment to non-proliferation and to the elimination of nuclear weapons, and considers nuclear weapons detrimental to its security.

It has declared its readiness to abide by its obligations under the NPT and to work for the establishment of a zone free from weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. It has invited the west and the world for cultural and technological collaboration.

Iran strongly condemned the September 11 attack and participated in overthrowing the Taliban regime in late 2001. In return, under the pressure of the neoconservatives in the US and their supporters globally, Iran has faced intimidation based on speculations about its intention of producing WMD.

For the majority of Iranians in Iran and outside Iran, this hostility towards Iran is about returning Iran to a client state for the benefit of US oil corporations and denying Iran's rights to research and development for generating electricity in the future, independently.

Iran is not a threat in the region or to the world as was suggested by the American Jewish Committee's full-page "statement" in the Financial Times recently. Iran is surrounded by India, Pakistan, Russia and Israel, which have nuclear weapons.

The US, UK and Israel, which perceive Iran as a threat, themselves possess WMD and refuse to commit to nuclear disarmament. Iranians believe that Israel may well use its nuclear weapons against them. They are all too aware that Israel has refused to sign the NPT and has not allowed the IAEA to inspect its nuclear programme.

The only chance the world has of avoiding another disastrous US military adventure in the Middle East is to resolve Iran's nuclear issue through diplomacy. It is essential that all voices opposed to the devastation of a new war in the Middle East speak out now. We need funds for human needs, not endless wars and conflicts.

Haleh Afshar,
University of York

Ziba Mir-Hosseini,
London Middle East Institute

Elaheh Rostami-Povey,
School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

Monday, April 10, 2006

Tragedy of Big Powers

Professor John Mearsheimer's The Tragedy of Great Power Politics seems like a good read. Mearsheimer teaches political science at University of Chicago.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Too hot for America

Not only Rachel Corrie's life and death but also her words have proven too hot for America, the country of her birthplace.

Billy Brag wrote and sang about her in The Guardian today.

Amy Goodman interviewed Rachel's parents on Democracy Now last Wednesday.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Ghali Hassan of Center for Research on Globalization has written an ineresting column.

Monday, January 23, 2006

So, when is a "negligent homocide" a "murder"?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

It Takes an Artist

Some times, it takes a courageous artist to recall basic facts — to remind us how important truth can be where lies have found great currency.

As an example, see Arash Norouzi's piece on the how media has demonized Iran. Norouzi's Mossadegh project might also be worth a look. He also points to a Mossadegh rock opera by Michael Minn, which premiered in New York in the summer of 2004. For the audio clips of the opera try here.

Courage should not be that hard to muster but it apparantly has become a very rare commodity only accessible to the few.