White Balloon

Daily Journal of Mahaan, an Iranian-American student residing in USA.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

War dilema continues!

Today I was talking with a colleague who is interviewing for research position on machine translation (MT). She told me about how Farsi translation automation is so popular in the research labs these days and the government is pouring money into the research. Actually for a while I considered working on Farsi MT, but for now I'm not going to touch it.

Although US and UK politicians keep rejecting any idea of military adventure in Iran, unfortunately I am getting more concerned that US is upto something serious about Iran in the next one or two years. I have heard about several random interviews/interrogation by FBI and other government agencies with Iranian students. All of these students do not have any political activity record to make them suspicious for other reasons. The interviews so far has been quite informal and friendly, but students have been asked detailed questions about their research work, their family back home, their military service experience in Iran, etc. What to say? Are these neo-cons that much retard to make their county totally bankrupt with another stupid adventure? I'm wondering how much the current nuclear talks and the diplomacy pledge of US is real. Maybe they are just buying time to clean their Iraq mess and in the long run convince the public: Look we did try diplomacy and then start their war drums with lies and fabrications same as Iraq. I know one thing clearly: I won't be able to stay in this country one day more if they are upto military adventure in Iran.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Internet Criminals

Isn't this scary? Apparently the Internet Mafia has more power than any other one like drug, arm, etc. These guys can totally paralyze a country overnight.

Monday, March 21, 2005

White Balloon continuous to fly

Today is the 2nd anniversary of creation of this blog. It all started in a Norouz day (2 years ago) with a simple name which was based on my all time favorite Iranian movie: White Balloon.

Since my childhood I have never been confident about my own writing and representation of my personal opinions. As a result of that, I rarely kept and shared my personal writings. I'm not sure why I'm like this. Maybe because I was grown around people who have a good writing skill. In the case of this blog, there have been numerous gaps of updating as I had an internal struggle about the importance of writing my notes and random thoughts. For a long time it was a quiet ride for me and my lovely friend as I never thought anyone else is reading my notes. And then finally it arrived: A comment from a dear reader. Since that day, a new sense of encouragement kept reminding me every other day which resulted in a more regular writing habit. Anyway, here I'm today with a handful of dear readers who read my thoughts once in while. Thanks for your presence, comments and support!


Sunday, March 20, 2005

Bahaaran Khojasteh Baad! - Happy Spring!

Happy Spring to everyone.
I wish my Persian friends a great new year. Let's hope for a better time filled with peace and friendship for all people of the world!

And Special thanks to Google for the beautiful Norouz Logo.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Norouz-mania (1)

Where do I really belong? Iran or US? I guess this question rises to its peak every Norouz and probably Christmas-New year. It's been over 10 years now that I have not felt the real sense of Iranian Norouz. And still after years of living in US, I don’t have that much of feeling about Christmas and New year eve here. For me, the winter or Iran was always filled with fun. It could start with my own birthday in late January, move towards early February which was the anniversary of Iranian revolution and was the time of Tehran film festival and my marathon of film watching. After the festival was over, we had one month to Norouz which was practically filled with the smell of spring and last battles spring and winter weather. Retail Business got to its peak in that one month and streets were truly filled with the sense of new year. And then it was finally Norouz and a moment that I could feel that a year (that I had a definite feeling about it) was over and a new one starts. I could look back and remember that in Shahrivar this happened and in Mehr that one. Depending on my age, each Norouz had its own type of fun. And that was the reason that 13th of Farvardin which was the last day of Norouz festivities was usually the saddest day of year. And now, all that is totally off my mind. Now I'm confused about my memories: Parts of it happens in February, May and September and part of it is still in Shahrivar, Ordibehesht and Azar. And more important: That moment of change, the moment of silence, maybe with close eyes, maybe filled with a Ghazal by Hafez, filled with a view of what's gone and what’s coming! That does not happen any more! Neither in January 1st nor in Avale Farvardin! And now, I'm lost between 1384 and 2005!

The question keeps bouncing in my mind. Where do I really belong?! Yes, like many of fellow immigrants, I keep telling myself that life has its trade-offs and of course I have got a lot from my immigration to US. That's what the first generation immigrant has to pay. But I also tell my Iranian friends: Please let me be jealous to you at least once a year and that's now: Norouz!

To Be Continued ...

Monday, March 14, 2005


Apparently the divisions within the Labanese society is getting more vivid. The turn out in the anti-syria demonstration was really huge. Couple of days ago when Hezbollah showed off its muscle, many people thought that's the end of the story. Suddenly US started talking about accepting Hezbollah's role as an effective political wing there. But today's protest is going to change the world's perception about the political balance there. I think the time for Iran and Syria's full control of Lebanon is over. I just hope the current division of the country does not go beyond this and we never see the stories of 1980s repeated there.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Random notes

I have been very busy with a heavy work load of school and then a short trip to Florida which kept me away from posting properly. I guess I need to change my bloging habit and get used to posting short notes more.

1. There has been a lot of rumors in Iranian weblogs that the former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani who is considering to run for the upcoming presidential election has bribed some of the reformist journalists to write articles against Khatami's government and critisize government's social and economic programs. I tried to find some English posting on this, but my short search didn't bring anything. Of course after the initial posting of this rumor, a lot of supporting articles went around the Iranian blog community and unfortuantely many people started putting names of some of the respected journalists up there. True or false, it's difficult for me to judge about all this story, because first I still don't see any real proof or sign of such a wave in Iranian papers and second I don't think such a strategy can work even if implemented. The interesting thing for me in all this debate is to see that how much political maturity has grown at least in certain circles of Iranian online journalism. I feel some people are getting more sensitive to conspiracy theories and at least question some of the claims. The main reason I guess is the fact that people have been continiously tricked by political developments over the past 50 years. Nowdays it's very difficult to move and attract Iranian minds anymore.

2. A group of Iranian scholars and professional who live in US have written an open letter to American people, warning about the consequences of any military intervension in Iran. If it's relevant for you, please sign it.

3. What to say about this one?! I was going to write a note to the store, but by looking to other stupid products, such as this one, I felt it's waste of mind and time! At least they are honest about it. They say "Invade" instead of craps like "Liberate" or "democratize"!!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Happy March 8th!

Happy International Women's day to all those women and men who believe and fight for human dignity and equality.

And a special greeting to my lovely friend that I believe as one smart and wise example of a woman's struggle for success and equal rights in her life.

And last but not least, the story of the fight of three women around the globe on this day.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Escaping out of snow

We're escaping from the north east snow to northern Florida for 4 days of break. So much sick of this late winter storm!!
Bye for now.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

4 Movies

Last Sunday night, we were watching Oscar on a campus TV and when the actor/actress awards were over, we left with an assumption that the Aviator which was supposed to be the big shot of Hollywood for the year (11 nominations), is going to get the best picture and probably the best director. And for the first time in the past 10 years that I watched Oscar, the surprise happened and ....

I have been meaning to post about the couple of movies that I have watched recently, but my busy schedule combined with some level of laziness in writing kept me away. Here we go finally:

Taking Sides: A movie by the Hungrian director Istovan Szabo which is the best of his works that I have seen so far. The movie is based on the life of German Jewish conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler who was one of the most respected German artist by Hitler. The movie takes place after the fall of Berlin and the period that most of Natzi's top figures were going through the initial investigations before the Neurenburgh. The American officer who is in charge of interogating the Furwangler uses all humilating methods to break him down to accept that he has acted as an agent for Hitler and has been a traitor to Jewish community and humanity. The movie is great brain teaser about the whole idea of taking sides under a undemocratic organization. During the 2 hours of the movie, your mind swings from one side to the other while you hear arguments from both sides. As an Iranian, for years I lived under a semi-oppresive regime and was friend to many people who work under the regime with pride and dignity and believe that their quality work can change and improve things within the internal structure (instead of fleeing the country or silencing their skills). The movie presents an extreme case which is Germany under Hitler filled with record brutalities such as Holocaust, but the idea is extensible to many oppresive and undemocratic societies where it's really a challenge to walk properly on the thin line of morality and practicallity. This movie was one of the best movies that I had seen over the past few years and I completely recommend it.

Broken Wings (Knafayim Shvurot): An Israeli movie about a family that is going through a crisis after the death of the dad. In addition to its professional and smooth story, directing and actings, I give an extra credit to the movie to be able to distance from the local Israel-Palestine conflict and focus on the problem with a global perspective.

Million Dollar Baby: Clint Eastwood has presented an interesting type of independent American cinema in his last two films (Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby). The major advantage of his cinema is his ability to get the best performance from the actors in fairly simple stories. Eastwood himself does an outstanding performance in the movie. Some sort of acting that you see his emotions reflected even on his skins and his veins. The first half of the movie is not very impressive, specially for a person like me who does not enjoy scenes of boxing fights. But the 2nd half of movie is able to psyche the audience quite well and glue them to the chair till end of the movie.

The Aviator
: Another Hollywood big shot movie that I am never a big fan of that types of movies. Di Caprio does his best, which is still not very impressive. The movie spends quite a bit on Howard Hughes' phobias and obsessions with dirty materials, but does not give an impressive picture about his other aspects of character which made him so successful. We keep hearing about Mr. Hughes' sucess without really getting a picture of his creativeness. What we see is a man who is quite arrogant and don't give a damn about other people's opinions and thinks that he can fix everything by vast money spendings. Maybe I should read Hward Hughes biography before writing these lines, but in general I don't feel that th movie even tries to present a broad picture of his characteristics. Martin Scorescessi has a bright record of picturing interesting characters in Good Fellas, Raging Bulls and Taxi Driver. In that respect this movie was a disappointment for him. I should give a credit to one scene of the movie which was about plan crash that Huess had in Santa Monica. The sound work and the editing of that scene was really impressive.
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