Who am I?Where am I?

18 April 2009

Delara Darabi

While researching the case of the American journalist who has been accused of spying by the Iranian government, Roxana Saberi, I came across the case of Delara Darabi. Rarely has a case moved me the way this one has.

Delara Darabi was only 17 at the time. Her boyfriend broke into a home and committed a murder. Delara was apparently with him and as an accomplice to the robbery was sentenced to among other things, 50 lashes. However, believing that her boyfriend, was 20, would be sentenced to death, she was convinced to plead guilty to the murders. Her logic was that since Iran is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, both of which prohibit the execution of minors for crimes committed before they are 18, she would be spared execution. Sadly, this has not been the case. Her execution has been set for 20 April, less than two days from the time I write this.

As of this writing, it is not to late. One can log onto a website created to help put public pressure on the Iranian government. I would urge every reader of this blog to sign a petition and write to as many people as you can write to during the next 36 hours in an effort to save Delara's life. The website is www.savedelara.com.


13 April 2009

Being Content

'...I have learned the secret of being content...' Philippians 4:12

Sometimes contentment means: 1) Learning to be happy with less. A
hard-charging executive decided to spend a few days in a monastery.

'I hope your stay is a blessed one,' said the monk who showed him to his
cell. 'If you need anything let us know. We'll teach you how to live
without it.' Happiness isn't getting what you want, it's enjoying what
God's given you. Paul said he had learned to be content, '...whether
well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I can do
everything through him who gives me strength.' (Philippians 4:12-13 NIV)
2) Reminding yourself things could be worse. Snoopy was lying in his dog
house one Thanksgiving Day, mumbling about being stuck with dog food
while all those humans got to be inside with the turkey and gravy and
pumpkin pie. 'Of course, it could have been worse,' he finally
reflected, 'I could have been born a turkey.' Reminding yourself 'It
could be worse' can be a powerful developer of contentment. 3)
Understanding that what you seek is spiritual, not material. Paul says
to beware of '...greed, which is idolatry' (Colossians 3:5 NIV). Our
problem isn't just that we want more, it's that the condition which
underlies all our wanting is that we really want God. As Augustine said,
'Our souls will never rest, until they rest in Thee.' Why would God let
us feel at home, when this world is not our home? Our dissatisfaction,
if we let it, can sharpen our spiritual hunger and cause us to pray,
'your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven'
(Matthew 6:10 NIV).


09 April 2009

Photos of the Rain Storms in Dubai

We had a lot of stormy weather last week here in the Gulf. The storms triggered sand storms here and a bit of rain. But in Dubai, there was a lot of rain as well lightning. Below are some of the pics of the lightning that struck the Burj Dubai Tower, the tallest building in the world.

I hope you enjoy these amazing photographs!


Nomadic Richard


In Celebration of Easter

Irish Lent

An Irishman moves into a tiny hamlet in County Kerry, walks into the pub and promptly orders three beers. The bartender raises his eyebrows, but serves the man three beers, which he drinks quietly at a table, alone.

An hour later, the man has finished the three beers and orders three more. This happens yet again. The next evening the man again orders and drinks three beers at a time, several times. Soon the entire town is whispering about the Man Who Orders Three Beers.

Finally, a week later, the bartender broaches the subject on behalf of the town. "I don't mean to pry, but folks around here are wondering why you always order three beers?"

"Tis odd, isn't it?" the man replies. "You see, I have two brothers, and one went to America, and the other to Australia. We promised each other that we would always order an extra two beers whenever we drank as a way of keeping up the family bond."

The bartender and the whole town were pleased with this answer, and soon the Man Who Orders Three Beers became a local celebrity and source of pride to the hamlet, even to the extent that out-of-towners would come to watch him drink.

Then, one day, the man comes in and orders only two beers. The bartender pours them with a heavy heart. This continues for the rest of the evening. He orders only two beers. The word flies around town. Prayers are offered for the soul of one of the brothers.

The next day, the bartender says to the man, "Folks around here, me first of all, want to offer condolences to you for the death of your brother. You know-the two beers and all.

The man ponders this for a moment, then replies,"You' ll be happy to hear that my two brothers are alive and well. It's just that I, meself, have decided to give up drinking for Lent."


07 April 2009


Okay this will show hold old I actually am. I generally hate video games and have not owned a single video game console since the original Nintendo came out. In fact, I still have that game console somewhere in my Mom's attic! It is rare that I get into a game and really enjoy playing it.

Despite this aversion for video games, and my feeling that day spent gaming is an otiose day, I love Pac-Man! Pac-Man is a cult icon. How many other video games have shirts limned with the game frame on it? It defined a generation at the video arcades when I used to play for a quarter a game when my parents were nice enough to give me that quarter. Admittedly, I didn't play that often at the arcade because a quarter could also buy me a pack of baseball cards. I usually choose the baseball cards. But Pac-Man was the one game that could sometimes make me spend some of my quarters and play a video game.

I never got into Centipede, Space Invaders, or many of the other games of that era, but Pac-Man...I loved that game. So when I heard that there is going to be a new 30-Year Anniversary edition of Pac-Man coming out, it had me considering buying a new gaming console if only to relive my childhood. I'll have to debate the merits of this, but I am really considering it.

I wonder if they can develop a version for the Nintendo WII that allows you to actually run from the four ghosts. (That way my friend Henry, who by the way is responsible for designing this website, could actually get some exercise! Alas, I digress!) Think of the possibilities! Even cricket video games haven't made me actually want to buy a gaming console this badly! (See, I got cricket into this blog!)

Just to show what a Pac-Man nerd I am, I will leave you with these statistics and interesting facts that I was able to find about Pac-Man:

  • The original name for Pac-Man was Puck-Man. It was changed when the game was released in the USA.
  • According to Guinness World Records, the first perfect game of Pac-Man was recorded on July 3, 1999 by infamous gamer Billy Mitchell, who was also featured in the critically-acclaimed documentary, The King of Kong. He scored a mind-numbing 3,333,360 in six hours.
  • Though it theoretically doesn't end, a bug in the original game's code makes in unplayable past the 255th level, otherwise known as Pac-Man's "kill screen."
  • 94 percent of American consumers recognize Pac-Man, giving him the highest brand awareness of any video game character in the country.

If you didn't know before, now you know!


06 April 2009

Iran and Nuclear Energy

Over this past weekend, I listened to Barack Obama address a European audience and say that a missile defense shield was necessary as long as Iran was pursuing a nuclear energy programme. I was extremely disappointed by this feckless statement and the the fear-mongering this statment pandered to. It was very reminiscent of Obama's predecessor and as illogical as many of Bush's ill-timed thought out utterances.

The fact that Iran has pursued nuclear energy for the past several years is not news. Neither is the United States position on this issue. While this issue has been discussed at length from one view point, that of the American government, I do not believe that it has been dealt with in any objective manner. I am going to attempt to address the issue of Iran's nucluear programme from a slightly different perspective.

That Iran is pursuing a programme designed to give it nuclear energy isnot in dispute. Iran's nuclear energy programme goes back to the 1970s when the United States backed the Shah's efforts to make nuclear energy a staple source of energy for a quickly developing Iran. The United States trained Iranian nuclear scientists, helped the Iranians purchase the parts of necessary to build their first nuclear power station, and supported the Iranians in their quest to procure alternate sources of energy. Despite the Americans seemingly supporting the Shah's government, the Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations all sought to limit the possibility of nuclear proliferation and maintain American hegemony by imposing severe restrictions on how the Shah's government could use its newly aquired technology.

Not surprisingly, the Shah's government did not like the the restrictions imposed upon it. Equally not suprisingly, the American government did sanction nor support the continuation of the Iranian nuclear programme under the Islamic Revolution. However the programme was eventually continued. Thus, the current controversy.

My personal opinion is that Iran needs to be commended for trying to build a nuclear power plant. My arugement for this opinion is complex. Yet it boils down to several key points. First, if Iran was to try to wholly rely on the burning of fossil fuels, it would contribute significantly to pollution and environmental catastrophe. Next, Iran is trying to develop itself and needs alternatives to fossil fuel. Lastly, Iran has not violated any international laws and must be allowed that right to determine its own energy policy.

When the Islamic Revolution occurred in 1979, the Iranian population was around 32 million. Today, Iran's population is close to 70 million. This population explosion has increased Iran's energy needs. The Iranian government has sought to expand the number of villages that have access to electricity, which has served to further raise the energy demands of the country. To compound matters, the Iranian economy is growing at around 6% per annum. With this growth comes an increased need for energy.

One would think that Iran could simply turn on the tap and open up the pipelines to its oil reserves and provide the country with more energy. However, since the 1970s, Iran's oil production has actually decreased! This is due to Western sanctions and the fact that Iran's petroleum industry needs a massive amount of upgrading and modernization, which it cannot easily procure due to the Western blockade. This, coupled with the fact that Iran's energy needs have increased, has forced the Iranians to become a net oil importer. As astounding as it may be to consider, one of the leading members of OPEC actually imports oil. When one considers the implications of this fact, it is easy to see why the Iranian government wants to explore nuclear energy as an alternative form of energy.

The last point is probably the most controversial, yet it remains true. Iran has in fact complied with requests from the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA). Furthermore, Iran signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in 1968 and ratified it in 1970. While this was done under the Shah's government, the Islamic Revolution has not overturned this treaty. Therefore, Iran has a right, as recognized by international law, to develop nuclear energy as long as this is monitored by the IAEA.

The Rush Limbaugh's of the world love to point out that Iran may have the capability to enrich uranium. Yet so far, Iran has in fact complied with all IAEA requests. Furthermore, if one reads the wording of the non-proliferation treaty, it allows for uranium enrichment as long as this is done for peaceful purposes. Therefore, Iran is commiting no violation of any treaty, to which it is a party, by simply enriching uranium.

Add this to the fact that Iran's current known uranium deposits can produce the same amount of electricity as 45 Billion barrels of oil. Iran has just over 90 billion barrels of known oil reserves. However, some are in locations difficult to extract. Therefore, it is unlikely that all of their oil will ever be extracted. Thus, the Iranians could theoretically supply their own energy needs from nuclear energy and export all of their oil for profit, thereby improving the standard of living.

The United States and western governments assume that simply because Iran has a nuclear energy programme, this programme will be used to develop nuclear weapons. It is hypocritical to deny Iran this right. It is also cynical to force Iran to burn a non-renewable energy source when it can save this valuable resource and position itself to be an even larger player in the oil industry in years to come. Furthermore, the west did not protest too vehemently when Pakistan, another Islamic country that is far less stable than Iran, developed nuclear capabilities. Furthermore, Iran has repeatedly sought to eliminate nuclear weapons in the entire region (including in Israel). While this is obviously a political move designed to embarrass Israel, one must consider the brutal usage of weapons of mass destruction that Sadam Hussein's Iraqi forces hurled against the Iranians. The propinquity of the Iran-Iraq War has not allowed the Iranians to forget the destructive nature of these weapons. Could it not be possible that they simply want to eliminate these weapons in the region to protect themselves from the possibility that they could again be victimized by such weapons?

It is my hope that the Obama administration develops a velleity to help Iran develop its energy capabilities in a safe manner. If the Americans feel as though Iran is an enemy, then perhaps the old adage about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer should hold true and the Iranians should be brought into the family of nations rather than ostracized like a criminal step-child.