[photo credit]

The people that make a difference in this world are still important. The Senator was a flawed man who made mistakes, but he has also made the world for some of the most underprivileged in America. It breaks my heart he can’t be here to help write and pass this health care reform, but he was such an integral part for reform to make it where it is.

Senator Edward Kennedy has passed away of brain cancer at age 77. Although this has been a great possibility since May of last year, it still didn’t feel like a real possibility until it happened. I might not have been born to watch JFK or RFK die, but American life has been shaped by these three brothers in the past fifty years. The closest thing to royalty we have, and now the last symbol of that generation (Jean Kennedy Smith is the last surviving member of that generation) has passed.

Greater and more influential people will be writing and saying their good byes to this giant of a politician. Tonight, my tiny voice also says good bye and thank you, Sen. Kennedy.


I have a post semi about journalism that I shall write soon, but first I just need to convey my frustration with the news media (again), particularly about their coverage on the health care debates.

News should inform, right now all the American public is getting is a bunch of images and sound bites of people yelling at each other. I am sure that there is some great debates going on in some of the townhalls, but all of that is drowned out by a few loonies who want to spread hate and lies about health care reform.

If it isn’t already completely obvious, I am on the side of health care reform. I think most of the arguments against reform is blatant lies and too often completely displaced from health care. As much as I think civil discourse is a healthy component of living in a republic, I also think telling the truth is more important, and debating on the facts instead of reaching out into thin air and reciting what they want you to say. Drowning debate (which some of the screamers are trying to achieve) is wrong and I will go out on a limb and say such tactics are unAmerican. Everyone deserves to be heard. Even the loonies, but not in a disproportionate amount of time.

The news media should not be completely focused on the yelling and the protesting, but it should mostly cover the substance of the arguments, but the fact that someone is arguing. What are both sides saying, and what do the facts, as much as they exist say about the arguments. We should not be fueling the flames of discontent, but facilitate the American people’s understanding of the debate taking place.

The American health care system right now is more expensive than it needs to be, and less able to protect. It is a for-profit venture, and the goals of health and profit do not always go together. There is a lot to be sorted out for reform, but saying it’s unnecessary is not a valid response.

It’s just the fear of the unknown that is stopping this debate.


Before we get into the topic of the day, I just wanted to plug a wonderful band called Hey Marseilles. They’re from Seattle and their music reminds me of what I would call French Farmer’s Market. The music ranges from fun to melancholy, embracing strings and brass in ways most rock bands don’t. Great soundtrack for internet surfing on late summer nights.

It’s the dog days of summer (a term I never found charming), which means summer flings and first loves, but I’m going to do what my friends tell me I’m great at and be the cynic in the room. I know this, movies often get love wrong.

I thought I was the only woman in America who has seen (500) Days of Summer and had more to hate than love. It claims not to fall into the traps of ordinary romantic comedies, but falls again and again. The mellow-dramatic twists and turns (if you can call it that, the movie doesn’t try to hide what happens, only its predictability) makes it feel like it’s trying to be cute.

I like my movies organic and sensible (hard to come by). (500) Days of Summer is a critics darling, but the film fell flat on execution for me. I wanted to love this movie, but I couldn’t. It was too hyped, too superficial, too arrogant for me. It is a woman’s movie with a male narrator who ignores the details of the female lead. It inches on sexism (read here and here), but I wouldn’t call it sexist, I would call it lazy. It tries a little bit too hard to be a smart movie.

Romantic comedies in general, deliver attractive two dimensional characters who have a hard time before falling in love. The fact that the couple doesn’t stay together doesn’t make (500) Days of Summer special, but it does make the movie think it’s special, which probably annoys me more.

Love is a complex emotion that should be thought of in its many, varied phases and in the context of those situations. This movie removes any context and tries to act like love should be the same for everyone in each of their different encounters. It’s not and should never be just simple. The main characters would do well to spend a little more time thinking and a little less time just acting.

(500) Days of Summer had its moments, but overall it felt too distant from its characters and the genuine situation they found themselves in. It was too eager to blame, and too sparse in understanding, too much of what I expect a ‘normal’ romantic comedy, and not enough of this ‘reality’ it advertised.


In order to save myself some work in thinking up topics (but if we’re being honest, that’s not my biggest problem in not posting; it’s the ‘finishing a post’ aspect that gets me), I am putting in a more specific schedule.

Music/Movie Mondays
Television Tuesdays
Wordly Wednesdays
Off Thursday
Fashion Friday

I might switch Tuesday and Thursday.

See you Monday!


Part two of this wild ride we are calling the Iranian 2009 Election. There have been lots of opinions on the US Government’s handling of the situation (as if the United States’ government has legitimate in the region to handle it). Many on the right are complaining that President Obama isn’t doing enough to support the protesters, and as individuals living in a relatively free democratic (well, republic) state, I think we have all the obligation to do as much to support the dissenters as we can. However, the state is a different entity with a different role.

Regardless of who is chosen to rule Iran, the United States will still need to work with the leader. As much as a fraud election is undesired, those are the rules in an anarchic international system. Iran’s sovereignty needs to be respected for any chance of proper diologue.

Also, critics of the president is using the US’ history of helping the values of freedom and democracy as a reason to intervene now. One blaring problem with this line of reasoning is that America doesn’t have a history of supporting freedom and democracy, at best it would have a mixed history, one that favors leaders, democratic or dictators, who support American interests. When I hear commenators talk about this history, I wonder if they fell asleep during the entire Cold War period, a good forty years when the American government supported dictators, and even helped fund coups supporting dictators over a democratic system (Iran).

The Iranian people may like Americans (contrary to popular knowledge), but the Iranian government doesn’t.

It’s easy for individuals and legislators to tell the president to be more firm in his support for the protesters, but they won’t be the ones being blamed if Iran acquires a nuclear weapon.

Change must come from the Iranian people for a sustainable and legitimate result. To have the American government blatantly endorsing a candidate does not lead to a positive result. Americans tend to forget the nationalism is not unique phenomenon to them, that Iranians are proud to be Iranians.

The president who put human rights as the cornerstone of his presidency is widely cited as a unefficient president (Jimmy Carter) as much as he is seen as a great man. There is a difference between how an individual can act and the most effective behavior of a state. President Obama recognizes this difference, and I have a feeling if McCain won the election, the faces of this debate might be flipped.

Funny how power shapes the opinions of the parties.

Anyway, you should read John Kerry’s Editorial With Iran, Thank Before You Speak.


Unless you don’t have access to the internet (which seems to be the new ‘living under a rock’, although I am very aware I am one of the privileged few in the world who can say this), you have at least heard about the protests in Iran over their disputed elections on Friday.

First, I want to say my heart goes out to every person in the crowd and their family. To risk your life means these people are fighting for something that truly means something and that truly matters. It’s not merely a celebration (or even revengeful) vandalism (please see Los Angeles the same day, which made me cringe in embarrassment). Even with this preface, I am not convinced Mousavi is the rightful winner of the election. Not to say I am convinced Ahmadinejad is the winner either. From everything I’ve gathered, it would indicate that the votes were not properly accounted for, and thus no one really knows who is the candidate with the most popular votes (unless it was an obvious landslide, in which case a few in the government probably do know, but I doubt this).

It is for this reason that I have been following the news out of Iran, and the reason I feel it’s important to stay informed as these events transpire. I’ve heard teachers and other adults talk about watching the first televised revolutions in the Former Soviet Block, and in Iran, and now I will be able to say I was a tiny, miniscule part of the first internet-broadcast global social uprising. I am hesitant to call it a revolution because most of these people are not protesting against their system (see chart), but fighting to legitimize and strengthen the democratic part of the system. As Clay Shriky said, “The guy we’re rallying around, Mousavi, is no liberal reformer. But the principle of freedom of speech and fair elections and the desire for reform trump that.” But the fact that this type of activism is occurring in Iran is a hopeful sign of their value in democracy and their voice.

The Iranian government’s blantant exercise to quiet the voices of the public in this election was succinctly summarized in TIME Magazine’s article Five Reasons to Suspect Iran’s Election Results. Some indicators of fraud include having no independent voting supervision (which is normal with Iranian elections), reports of voter suppression, the abnormally quick rate of return (within an hour of polls closing) and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei deeming Ahmadinijad the winner after less than a day when laws dictate a three day grace period for candidates to request any investigations, the suspicious vote totals in certain areas, all regions closely matched the national results. The Internal Ministry going back against their (early) word to recount the votes, votes that were said to not be close, but a landslide, is another reason to question the legitimacy of this election. Since the same people who created the likely fraud will be the ones to investigate, I’m not sure I put too much credibility into it, but it’s a step.

If you’re on Twitter and want to do your small part, here’s some advice from Marj (via The Stimulist, originally from http://reinikainen.co.uk/ which has been suspended).

1. Do not publicize proxy IPs over Twitter.
2. The 
only 
two 
legitimate
 hashtags
 being
 used
 by 
bloggers 
in 
Iran 
are
 #iranelection 
and
 #gr88.
3. Keep
 your 
bullshit 
filter 
up!

 Security 
forces
 are
 now 
setting 
up
 Twitter
 accounts 
to
 spread
 disinformation
 by 
posing
 as 
Iranian 
protesters.

 Please 
don’t
 retweet 
impetuously; 
try 
to 
confirm 
information
 with
 reliable
 sources
 before
 retweeting.
4. Help
 cover
 Iranian 
bloggers. Change 
your 
Twitter
 settings 
so 
that
 your 
location 
is
 TEHRAN 
and 
your 
time 
zone 
is 
GMT
+3.30. 

Security 
forces 
are 
hunting 
for
 bloggers 
using 
location 
and 
timezone 
searches.
 
If 
we 
all 
become
 ‘Iranians,’ 
it
 becomes impossible to find them.
5. Don’t blow their cover. If you discover a genuine source, please don’t publicize their name or their location.
6. If you don’t know what you’re doing, stay out of this game.
7. Do 
spread 
the 
(legitimate) 
word. It 
works!
 
When 
the 
bloggers 
asked
 for
 Twitter 
maintenance 
to 
be 
postponed 
using 
the 
#nomaintenance
tag, 
it 
had 
the desired 
effect. 
As 
long
 as
 we
 spread 
good 
information, 
provide 
moral 
support 
to the
 protesters,
 and 
take
 our 
lead 
from legitimate bloggers, we can make a constructive
 contribution.

Links
Iran’s Military Coup by Reza Aslan (Daily Beast)
Tim O’Brien (Twitter – tweeting articles and other links concerning the Iran election)
One Hoopy Frood‘s two posts so far.
NYTimes Iran Page
NYTimes two slideshows (photos)
Boston Globe’s Big Picture’s two</a posts so far (photos)
Mousavi1388’s Flickr (photos)

The internet is littered with information. I turned on my computer to watch Merlin, and ended up reading and catching up on Iran’s news from the few hours I was away. Then this post was written.

صلح باخودتان ممکن است باشد


is really a speech to help fix Arab-US relations.

Reza Aslan’s post Memo to Obama: Leave Egypt criticized his choice of Cairo as the location of a speech to Muslims because Arabs make a small fraction (10%) of Muslims, and coupled with the gross human rights violations, the president should be more apt to choose Indonesia because it is “moderate, pluralistic, wildly successful democratic country whose citizens just last month overwhelming voted for secular and moderate Muslim parties over the country’s more radical Islamist groups”. As correct as Aslan is, and as much as people say it’s about Muslims, the real public relations problem is with Arabs.

The media talks a lot about the poor image of Americans in Arab states, but that is not a one-way street. In a recent poll about half of Americans have an unfavorable view of Muslims (in another poll that makes my stomach turn, almost half of Americans think torture is sometimes justified – even human rights aside, torture does not produce good intelligence!). As much work as we have to turn public opinion in Arab (Muslim) nations, we have a lot of work to do in our own country.

To me, these kinds of opinions are complete tragedy for humanity. The fact that our view is so narrow that we find it difficult to differentiate the difference between Arab and Muslim (and Persian, for that matter), makes our task in the Middle East all that harder. It doesn’t help that the only Muslims the media talks about are in the Middle East, not to put any blame on the media, but images are powerful.




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