Archive for the 'History' Category

The Evolution of Western Philosophy

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

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The Evolution of Western Philosophy

Thanks to: Raha Talebinejad

Sep.12, 2007

Socrates (470 BC–399 BC), the ancient Greek philosopher, says:

To be is to do!

And Plato (428/427 BC–348/347 BC), another ancient Greek philosopher, says:

To do is to be!

which is also repeated by the French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre (1905 –1980).

However, it was Frank Sinatra, the American 20th century philosopher (sorry, I meant singer!), who tops them all by saying:

Do be do be do!

If you don’t believe it listen to the end of Sinatra’s famous song called:

Strangers in the night

(For other video songs of Frank Sinatra see the links at the end.)

And here are some other relevant quotes:

To be or not to be. William Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Cogito ergo sum. (I think, therefore I am.) Rene Descartes

I am. God

God is dead! Nietzsche

Nietzsche is dead! God

Reference:

What’s the Big To-Do?

Selected Video Songs of Frank Sinatra:

May way

Fly me to the moon

New York

It was a very good year

I have got you under my skin

Autumn Leaves

About Raha:

(Raha Talebinejad is a member of Shirin Science Center and an FBI girl.)

Book Review: “300″ by Frank Miller

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

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Title: 300

Author: Frank Miller (Story & Drawings) & Lynn Varley (Coloring)

Hardcover: 88 pages

Publisher: Dark Horse (darkhorse.com)

Publication: 1999

Language: English

ISBN: 978-1569714027

Dimensions: 12.9 x 9.9 x 0.6 inches

Price: $30 US

This is a comic book, namely a book full of hand-drawn cartoons with few words or short sentences on each page. I read it last weekend and found it very offending to the Persians. This is not my personal impression but a truth. On the back of the book, Frank Miller himself summarizes it as following:

“The army of Persia - a force so vast it shakes the earth with its march - is poised to crush Greece, an island of reason and freedom in a sea of mysticism and tyranny. Standing between Greece and this tidal wave of destruction is a tiny detachment of just three hundred warriors. But these warriors are more than men… they are Spartans.”

Although it is said that “300” is a fictional cartoon book but I believe Frank Miller does not have such illusion. He has tried very hard to portrait his book as a history work when he recommends the following books as “Recommended Readings”:

The Hot Gates by William Golding,

The Histories by Herodotus,

Thermopylae: The Battle for the West by Ernle Bradford,

The Western Way of War by Victor Davis Hanson.

This book purposefully degrades Persians and flies in the face of historical facts. It purposefully demeans Persians in general and their King Xerxes in particular unjstly. Although “300″ book has small fonts for its general text but it uses one of the largest fonts in the book in red color for writing “Persians!” as a caption of a group of soldiers with evil faces. If the discriminating views of this book were brought to light when it was published in 1999 then probably Hollywood would not dare to make ‘The 300’ movie based on this book.

Frank Miller has created many other comic books which have been turned into movies including Batman and Spiderman. However, they have been all fictionally and none has been targeting real people, not to mention Persians, one of the oldest civilized nations.

It is very interesting to learn why Frank Miller has written such a Persian demeaning book? Here is the reason as mentioned in the Time Magazine article of March 12, 2007 called “The Art of War” by Lev Grossman:

{In 1962 a boy named Frank Miller went to the movies with his parents. The movie was Rudolph Maté’s The 300 Spartans. Miller was 5. “It had a deep, deep effect on me,” Miller says. “I actually snuck across the theater in order to confer with my dad and make sure the heroes really were dying. I stopped thinking of heroes as being the people who got medals at the end or the key to the city and started thinking of them more as the people who did the right thing and damn the consequences.” When Miller grew up, he created a comic book about the Battle of Thermopylae called simply “300″.}

Not only Frank Miller but also many people especially youth get their history lessons from movies and novels, accept them as facts and then act upon them!

But the sad fact is that even well-educated westerners do not realize the historical inaccuracies in this book especially the way it has portrayed Persians. To prove my point, I quote the most thoughtful review I could find about 300 book on Amazon here:

{He’s taken one of the most glorious stories in human history and dumbed it down BELOW the level of the most moronic Saturday morning cartoon you can find on the tube.


‘Historical accuracy’ isn’t the issue in this particular case. Hollywood screenwriters fashion entire careers around doing violence to history. ART is the issue, which is why I get REALLY pissed off with giddy amateur reviewers breathlessly proclaiming ‘300’ as “One of the great graphic novels of our time”.


If ever there was a story that cried out for richness of detail and vivid coloration, it’s this one. Instead, we get paint-roller draftsmanship, a color palette lifted from a highway road-kill, and dialog that’s about as eloquent as two Neanderthals grunting at each other. (Which is understandable, since that’s obviously Miller’s target audience.)


Some reviewers have recommended Stephen Pressman’s ‘Gates of Fire’ as an antidote to ‘300’. Their intentions are good, but they forget that we’re dealing with semi-literate hardship cases who get their history lessons from comic books.
If you would like to see what a REAL graphic novel looks like, check out any of the Alan Moore/Eddie Campbell collaborations.}

Review by: Ali Talebinejad
April 6, 2007

Chinese Opium Wars and American Cigarettes Boom in Iran

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

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In late years of Shah regime or maybe early years after his fall, I watched a Western made movie on Iranian TV which I have not forgotten its plot after two decades. I recall it had a part about “Chinese Opium Wars” when British were distributing free opium in Hong Kong harbor in order to destroy that nation among other things. I do not recall the movie title but it was made before 1985. It had a comedy-drama theme where someone with Chinese root and western education was trying to empower those demoralized people who were living in a corrupt society. (Please let us know if you know what movie that was.) 

Aside from that nostalgic movie, the historical documents show that in1839 Lin Zexu, a Chinese scholar and official during the Qing Dynasty pleaded with Queen Victoria of Britain to stop the opium traffic to China, and warned: “Your Majesty has not before been thus officially notified, and you may plead ignorance of the severity of our laws. But I now give my assurance that we mean to cut this harmful drug forever”. To ensure its immoral materialistic interests, British went to war with China and imposed many unjust treaties on that weak empire. Following the British, France , the USA, minor European states, and even Russia forced their own favorite treaties to the addicted and demoralized nation of China for decades to come. To find out more about “Chinese Opium Wars” see the following sources:

Articles:

Opium Wars and Unequal Treaties 

WikiPedia Encyclopedia on “The Opium Wars

Movies:

The Opium War (Yapian Zhanzheng)“, Chinese, 1997 

Tai Pan” directed by Daryl Duke in 1986 

Books:

The Opium Wars: The Addiction of One Empire and the Corruption of Another  by W. Travis Hanes, 1860.

Last night, I was reading a BBC report about American 2005 export to Iran which in brief was saying that: “In 2005, at least half of about 100 million dollar American export to Iran has been cigaretts which makes Iran the third largest exporter of the American cigaretts in the world!”. This a very sad and and shocking news by itself but would enraging if you know the following facts:

- The smoking rate has decreased by about %20 in the US while it has been increasing in the Iran.

- Iranian government officially imports many brands of American Cigarettes including Winston and Kent. These cigarettes are exclusively packed for Iran and bear the official seal of Iran. 

- The price a pack of say Winston cigarette in Iran is about 1/4 of its price in US.

- Teenagers can easily buy cigarettes in Iran from any corner including the street sellers. In the US, on the contrary, cigarettes are only sold by authorized shops and are under lock. The minimum age for buying cigarettes in the US  is currently 18 which is in the process being raised to 21 soon. These regulations are strongly enforced in the US and violators are severely prosecuted.

- These days smoking is considered something very bad by the society at large. Furthermore, it is against the law to smoke in public places including restaurants and the law is fully observed and enforced in the US.

- The warnings labels regarding the dangers of smoking is more pronounced on cigarette packages in the US than in Iran.

Smoking is the first stage of drug abuse and addiction. It has become much more expensive and difficult for a teenager to smoke in the US and as a result the smoking rate in general and especially among youth is steadily decreasing.

 In summary, it is mind boggling to know that in this time and age, the authorities in Iran are getting international rankings for spending the financial reserves of  the nation for importing for such serious health hazards and addicting materials from the US while the Chinese empire went to war with British to avoid dumping of their free opium on their people.

Let me know end this story on a high note by giving a personal story. My father has been smoking since he was 10 years old but he decided to quit over a year ago when he was 84 years old and he has been smoke-free since then. It is admirable act which shows if there is a will there will be a way. Congratulations Dad. You have done a great job and we are all proud of you!

Smoking was forbidden on Shirin Science Center premises since it was established about 7 years ago. Two years ago, a group of Shirin Science Center members started an initiative in Fasa which resulted in banning smoking in taxis which was very common before then. Last year, when I entered a car to take me from Fasa to Shiraz, I bluntly asked a smoking passenger to extinguish his cigarette. He did it immediately and apologized for it. Smoking is unwise to say the least. So if you come across a smoking person take a firm stand at least for your own health. They might not like it now but sometime they will be greatful for what you have done for them. 

If you come across any of the Iranian representatives, remind them that the 10-20 percent increase in the price of cigarrettes in coming year is rediculous considering the the international experience. Tell them that you expect them to show their sincerity by immediately increasing the price of cigarettes many folds and use all of the revenu for establishing centers to advance science, technology, art, and culture among the young generation.

By: Dr. Ali Taalebinezhaad

March 2007

Happy Chahar-Shanbe Souri!

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

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Chahar-Shanbe Souri is an old Iranian tradition which is celebrated on the last Tuesday night of the Persian year. For details see:

http://www.iranonline.com/festivals/Chahar-shanbaeh-sori-english/index.html

Palestine Peace Not Apartheid

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

Carter book-signing poster at Harvard CoopPalestine Peace Not Aprtheid

On Jan. 23, 2007, Jimmy Carter was sigining his latest book called “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid” at Harvard Coop bookstore in Cambrige Massachussets.

He has written many books before but this is his most challenging, provocative, and courageous book. He is the first president of the United States who has clearly criticized the policies of Israel regarding Palastenians. He has been seriously criticized by numerious Jewish groups following to the publication of his book. Here is a quote from this book:

“There will be no substantive and permanant peace for any people in this troubled region as long as Israel is violating key U.N. resolutions, official American policy, and the international “road map” for peace by occupying Arab lands and oppressing the Palestinians.”

Jimmy Carter was the 39th president of the US from 1977 to 1981. During his persidency, he promoted human rights in the world, including in Iran while Shah was in power.

A Unique Yalda History & Culture Presentation

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

English Version:

Yalda English presentation icon
Watch this unique Yalda presentation to learn about another cultural icon of Iran. You can download this presentation and its instructional README file from the Yalda page of Shirin site:

http://www.shirin-center.org/yalda/yaldaEnglish.pps

http://www.shirin-center.org/yalda/englishREADME.html