Sunday Jul 12, 2009

Ten Thousand Days

In The Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi writes:

No matter how many opponents you beat, as long as you do anything in contravention of training, it cannot be the true path. ... 

This is something that requires thorough examination, with a thousand days of practice for training and ten thousand days of practice for refinement.

Sunday Jan 25, 2009

Dialog Style

For a while, at their start, blogs were about conducting a continuous dialog on the web.

In some cases, this went a bit too far. You would write a blog, someone else will comment on it and would write some other blog, and all these will be tracked back to each other and a network of connections will create a kind of a strange open-ended non-converging conversation, that could hardly even be called "a conversation" but would instead become a strange, often awkward interconnection of half-finished ideas, notes and scraps.

As a vehicle of pure (and even mildly organized) content and information, the blog is probably the poorest form although its ability to attract search engines can more easily be managed. Hence, its popularity for content, including corporate content.

As a vehicle for continuous dialog, the blog is probably one of the richest forms created by the users of the Internet. With a bit of discipline it could do a ton of magic.

Friday Mar 28, 2008

Experimenting with New Ink

Experimenting with New Ink

Once, when I was 7 or 8, I received two lessons from a master Persian calligrapher, a Mr. Foradi, in Tehran.

Mr. Foradi used to be on contract at my fathers' advertising and design firm. In the first lesson, he taught me how to hold the pen, how to ink its tip, and how to cushion the thin calligraphy paper. He then asked me to write, 100 times in a neat row: "A Man's Virtue is Far Better than His Post and Wealth"—a piece from a 1000 year old Persian poem.

  ادب مرد به ز دولت اوست. 

It is hard to find expert Persian calligraphers and the right equipment and training in the U.S. 

My father bought me the Persian calligraphy pen shown in this photo from The Persian Calligraphy Institute in Tehran, Iran, in August of 2006. 

I used the pen and the special ink, which my father had also purchased for me, to write "Traditional Music" on a piece of printer paper. (I should say here that I didn't think much of Persian traditional music when I first arrived in the U.S. as a teenager. Now, I have learned to appreciate enough of its subtleties to enjoy it.) 

Once, when I was 7 or 8, I received two lessons from a master Persian calligrapher, a Mr. Foradi, in Tehran. Mr. Foradi used to be on contract at my fathers' advertising and design firm. In the first lesson, he taught me how to hold the pen, how to cushion the paper and asked me to write, 100 times, that "A Man's Virtue is Far Better than His Post"—a piece from a 1000 year old Persian poem.


Saturday Jan 12, 2008

Pouring Tea

نگین خانم افتخار دادند و برای خا نواده چای ریختند 

This video shows my daughter Negin serving tea in one of Isfahan's restaurants called Sofreh Khaneh Sonnatieh Naghsheh Jahan:

Thursday Jan 10, 2008

Buying Bread in Tehran

Here's a brief video of a sangak bread bakery in Tehran. It shows the bakers and a customer engaged in a transaction.


Friday Oct 12, 2007

Eid Fitr Mubarak

عید سعید فطر مبارک 

Wednesday May 16, 2007

Zoorkhaneh--The Traditional Persian Gymnasium

Amir Hossein Mahmoudi has shared some very interesting photographs from a zoorkhaneh---a traditional Persian gymnasium that mixes culture, music and poetry with ancient sportsmanship.

Wednesday Mar 28, 2007

Norouz Slideshow

Palo Alto Weekly photographer, Marjan Sadoughi, has put together a slide show of local Persian New Year (Norouz) celebrations.

Tuesday Mar 20, 2007

Happy Persian New Year


Spring equinox arrives in about 3 hours from the time I'm writing this entry.
Happy Persian New Year!
Happy Norouz!

Monday Feb 05, 2007

The Shackle of Extensions

Lawrence Lessig writes about the shackle of copyright extensions on orphaned works.

When a culture cannot renew itself freely through its roots, it forgets living.

Sunday Feb 04, 2007

Tortured until proven guilty, innocent or saved

The Economist (Feb. 3, 2007) carries the story of Murat Kurnaz' ordeal at Guantánamo, his torture, eventual release and parliamentary testimony. (See the original Amnesty International case for Kurnaz. Hamburg lawyer Bernd Rosenkranz has brought the case to German courts. Shouldn't there be a similar case in the American courts?)

Mura Kurnaz and I both have some relationship to Bremen. He was born and raised there. I was neither born nor raised in Bremen but my car was definitely manufactured there.

Friday Feb 02, 2007

Persopolis, the Takht-e Jamshid

Last night, I uploaded to Flickr a few dozen photographs of a 2003 visit to Persopolis, near Shiraz, Iran. A friend saw the photos, liked them and noted that he did not know that Persopolis existed. Hence, this entry.

The Persians have called the place Takht-e Jamshid (the capital of Jamshid). Persopolis is the Greek name. Some may be surprised but the remains of Persopolis do actually exist even though the city was burnt down by an invading Alexander more than 2000 years ago. Google maps satellite photo of the site gives an outline of the capital's plan. Farzin Rezaian has produced a documentary reconstruction of Persoplis. It provides a thorough historical background to Takht-e Jamshid as the capital of the Persian Empire.

You can access the photo set directly or view it as a slide show here.

To learn how to embed Flickr slide shows, consult Paul Stamatiou.

Saturday Jan 20, 2007

Little Canadian Comedy on the Prairie

Zarqa Nawaz

U.S. TV broadcasters continue to debate the desirability of Zarqa Nawaz' Little Mosque on the Prairie before showing it to their American audience. 

In the meantime, you can find torrents for Little Mosque here. To load these torrents, consider Azureus which has a great Java torrent client fit for various platforms.

Last time I checked, the "swarms" for these torrents were quite large, composed of several hundreds. Most peers were complete and sharing, and download rates were very high. So, the whole thing can probably be down-loaded in less than 1 hour, perhaps in 1/2 an hour if the number of peers continue to be large.

I've included YouTube renditions of the first episode below. Apparently, this first episode of Nawaz' little sitcom has become the most watched Canadian sitcom episode ever. The ads are mixed in. (The second and third episodes seem to have been broadcast in Canada but cannot yet be found on YouTube.) 

InsideCBC.Com, the official blog of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation covers the show. CBS carries an interview with Ms. Nawaz.


Wednesday Jan 17, 2007

800 Years Later at Stanford, 1400 Years Later in San Jose

A colleague sent me a reminder that Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi (1207–73)'s 800th birthday celebration at Stanford University will be held on Saturday January 27th, 2007. Mahmoud Zolfonoun will perform some muscial pieces, several Mawlana scholars will hold a panel discussion, and Robert Bly will be reading some translations of Mawlana.

To some readers, I've promised my first podcast will be a reading of the first few verses from Mawlana's Masnavi in the original Persian, followed by my own rough English translations. (Note that I'm by no means a Masnavi scholar. So, my reading and translation will only give you a very rough idea of  a very small corner of Mawlana's poetry. Masnavi, by itself, contains thousands of lines of poetry and Divan-e Shams, even more.)

The tickets for the Stanford event, including the catered dinner, are priced at $90 per person.

An English translation of Masnavi can be found here.

That same Saturday also coincides with the day of Ashura, the 10th day of the lunar month of Muharram, marked by Muslims since some 1400 years ago as a day of commitment to justice.

This year, I hear there may be a local Ashura procession in downtown San Jose. See here for BBC's account of Ashura, and here, for another scholarly account of its 'recent' history. The BBC notes that "Ashura has been a day of fasting for Sunni Muslims since the days of the early Muslim community. It marks two historical events: the day Nuh (Noah) left the Ark, and the day that Musa (Moses) was saved from the Egyptians by Allah. Shi'a Muslims in particular use the day to commemorate the martyrdom of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet (pbuh), in 680 CE."


Thursday Dec 21, 2006

Yalda--The Winter Solstice

It is winter solstice and the night of yalda.

Thursday Dec 07, 2006

Carrousel, Weihnachtsmarkt, Wiesbaden

Only a couple of hours earlier, I had taken my niece Sarah for a ride on this carrousel. "Zweimal," she had requested.

For Kids

The Unreasonable Man

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man adapts the world to himself. All progress depends on the unreasonable man.
George Bernard Shaw

Saturday Dec 02, 2006

Christmas Shopping

Christmas shopping here in Wiesbaden (and also in Trondheim, where I spent last week) is not simply about going out to shop as it often happens in the States (perhaps with the exception of the early colonies in the East). Here in Europe, it is a tradition and a cultural experience mixed with social gatherings throughout the six weeks or so before Christmas. In Wiesbaden, Weihnachtsmarkt around the main church square attracts families in good spirit. People have fun and anticipate the approaching winter. (If you are in Wiesbaden, you might want to visit Feuilleton where my brother has done some simple work on architecture and web design and where some very attractive paintings by my friend Bobak Etminani are also on display.)

Friday Nov 24, 2006

State of US Education

Valerie Strauss of The Washington Post writes about U.S. educational institutions. The article summarizes findings in "Condition of Education" reports published by the U.S. Department of Education. There is a wealth of information in the original reports. For example, at the undergraduate level for every school year from 89-90 to 03-04, more business degrees were awarded than any other degrees.

Sunday Oct 29, 2006

The Master Said ...

So, were the Confucian Analects off the mark when we read the following?

(VII.23)  The Master said, "Heaven is author of the virtue that is in me. What can Huan T'ui do to me?"

(VII.25)  The Master instructs under four heads: culture, moral conduct, doing one's best and being trustworthy in what one says.

(VII.26)  The Master said, "I have no hope of meeting a sage. I would be content if I met somone who is a gentleman"

(VII.17) The Master said, "Grant me a few more years so that I may study at the age of fifty and I shall be free from major errors."

(VII.20) The Master said, "I was not born with knowledge but, being fond of antiquity, I am quick to seek it."




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