Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Iranian comedian - Mohammad Ali Salimi

Mohammad Ali Salimi looks like a typical American jock. He is, but only in a "San Dimas high-school football rules!" kind of way. He's also an Iranian American stand-up comedian. He's from Georgia and and has a YouTube channel. He's got some good stories about growing up as the whitest kid in his area, his dad trying to fit in to American life and talks crap about every university in California.

Camel jackass

His stand-up debut

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Yiddish the struggle for survival - podcast

Dennis Marks presents a fascinating look at the Yiddish language, its fortunes and a micro-revival in New York. Originally aired on the BBC, you can download it directly:

Millions of Yiddish speakers may have perished in the 20th century and millions of others have been discouraged from learning the language, but depsite this, Yiddish is still alive.

Iranian Revolution photo gallery

British newspaper The Times recently added a gallery of photos from the Iranian Revolution to their website. Most of the pictures are depressing, black and white shots of Khomeini, the US Embassy, burning effigies of the Shah, etc. All very out of step with the beautiful multi-colour Iran found on sites like Flickr.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Another American in Iran - this one has a film crew

Rick Steves is a veteran and popular European travel writer from the USA. He recently toured Iran with a film crew. Here's an interview he did afterwards where he sheds some light on what it's like to be an American in Iran. Asked about his experience he said:

But that's not all. You can listen to 4 hours of radio interviews about travel in Iran, watch a preview of Rick Steves' tour, read his travel journal and see his photo gallery. I think it's good that he's a well-known American and sees his visit helping promote peace and understanding between the two countries.

When I came home after the most learning 12 days of travel I've ever had in my life, I realized this is a proud nation of 70 million people. They are loving parents, motivated by fear for their kids' future and the culture they want to raise their kids in. I had people walk across the street to tell me they don't want their kids to be raised like Britney Spears. They are afraid Western culture will take over their society and their kids will be sex toys, drug addicts and crass materialists. That scares the heck out of less educated, fundamentalist, small-town Iranians, which is the political core of the Islamic Revolution and guys like Ahmadinejad.

Being more on the entertainment side, he does focus on the squat-toilets, no-alcoholic-drinks, everyone-is-in-a-hijab side of things. And he does seem to have spun his visit out into a lot more media than anyone else who's visited Iran recently. Here's a short clip of him talking about his trip, a slightly longer one, a video of a talk he's given and Rick talking about constraints on university life in Iran and finally... nah. That's it.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Iran's Jews, Perisan Jews and Jews of Iranian descent

Iran's Jews don't just live in Los Angeles, New York and Israel. They live in Iran too. They are not an incredibly visible population, but they are a part of life there. There are two snippets of a documentary about the history of the Jews of Iran and their lives.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

"My mother did not become beautiful" -- Persian poem

Here's a video of a reading of the (translated) Persian poem 'My mother did not become beautiful', over music.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Indian women attacked

India is the world's largest democracy. A country full of aspiration, poverty, hope, dreams, racism and class struggle with a broad political spectrum running from Communist-controlled states to ones run by Hindu religious fanatics. Despite all the crap the country has been through in the past 60 years, it's disheartening to see right-wing religious nutcases feeling empowered enough, in a large cosmopolitan city to attack women drinking alcohol in public.

The last thing India needs is more home-grown trouble.