Dapper Concepts is Moving!

Posted June 26, 2011 by SV
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Please visit My new Blog!

I was but a small child, a new comer to the United States of America. Escaping the same bearded mullahs who run Iran today, my parents and I started a new life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The drastic change of scenery, along with the blistering cold brought poetry to my fathers lips. As he walked me to preschool in subzero temperatures, I can remember him reciting a poem in Farsi about how life, if lived well, is profoundly beautiful. As the partially frozen snot was coming down my nose I didn’t fully comprehend the message of the poem, but somehow I remember feeling the fuzzy notion that it was deep and powerful. In homage to this vague feeling I would make a sincere effort to show I was tough and that the cold couldn’t phase me. The poem is by Siavash Kasraie and is titled Zendegi Zeebast, which means “Life is Beautiful.” It is less a Louis Armstrong wonderful world type poem(trees of green skies of blues bright blessed days, etc) and more a somber reflection on the dutiful life. Perseverance and hope in the face of adversity will illuminate that the struggle itself is beautiful – that type of thing. In light of today’s struggles for justice and prosperity(from Oakland to Tripoli to Tehran to … ) I find that message to resonate strongly. Advocates of justice everywhere: I believe the underlying ethos of our collective struggle should be one of hope and strength, not cynicsim and despair. I will try to carry that spirit in my work going forward and in the stories and reflections I share in this blog.

Those in my inner circle know that I have divorced the 9-5 engineering life and have moved on to focus my energies on education. I have been active in the outreach organization I started in Oakland (Oakland Science and Math Outreach) and will start a PhD program at Berkeley in the Fall in the EMST program (engineering math science and technology). I will probably end up writing more about this transition as I begin the program, but the short and rough version is that I identified a career in which I can do something social justice related while also building upon stuff I was already educated in and good at (math, engineering, talking to people, teaching math). A few days ago I read an online interview with Shepard Fairey (the artist of obama fame) and he put it very nicely. He said his embrace of street art is a means for him to indulge the many different passions he has; art, activism, politics, pop culture, etc. I feel that way about education, I can indulge myself (how selfish!). But its true, I could’nt be happier. It has an intellectual nerdy theory aspect to it, an activism and political side to it, a social and interacting with the community side, and I’ve chose to focus on STEM so that will draw upon a ton of stuff I’m already familiar with.

With that said, I have to bid Dapper Concepts a sweet farewell. For those who stuck by me through my literary experimentations, thank you very much. Please keep reading me at http://sepehrv.wordpress.com.


President Obama’s Nowruz Message

Posted March 21, 2011 by SV
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Despite Our Horrific History of Intervention in the Middle East,

Posted March 19, 2011 by SV
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I am encouraged by the news of the United Nations resolution authorizing a force above and beyond a no fly zone in Libya. Being fully cognizant that this places me squarely in the ideological camp of supporting an act of war, I offer my opinion in this matter with the full humility of somebody who will not be directly impacted by the likely bloody days and weeks that inevitably lie ahead. I am moved to speak up in support of military action against Muammar Gadaffi because I believe there is no alternative, and because I believe that inaction will result in a sustained assault on humanity that will serve only to empower dictators around the world while crushing the glimmers of democratic hope that have swept all across the Middle East.

I am prepared to be wrong, and am not oblivious to the troubling moral burden of supporting Western nations to intervene, once again, in the Middle East. But the Arab world has spoken up, brave women, men and children have already given up their lives. To be in a position where we have the military force to prevent the killing of thousands of others, but choose not to act because we will suffer further injuries to our already battered world image is self-indulgent and morally debunk. I disagree with Noam Chomsky’s assertion that suggests we would be out of line to interfere in Libya. His anti-imperialist worldview, one which I wholeheartedly subscribe to, is now being exploited by the likes of Gadaffi and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamanei. According to these masterful manipulators, any and all attempts at democracy in the region are covers for American and Israeli interests. As progressives, as believers in anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism, lets not be so naive, and patronizing, to believe that the blood and sweat of working class people fighting for democracy is all in vain. That all the people in Tehran and Tripoli are mere puppets, being yanked this way and that way by calculating CIA operatives. I hope we can be more respectful of indigenous movements. I refuse to allow my identity as a progressive, as somebody who resists imperialism with mind and soul, to obscure the reality on the ground. And the reality is that the Libyan people are suffering and suffocating under Gadaffi’s armed and funded military regime. And we, as Americans, have the power, to do something about it. And we should.

I Love Asian People at UCLA

Posted March 18, 2011 by SV
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Revolutionary Hopes In Iran

Posted March 6, 2011 by SV
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Tehran was really messed up.   Dont let my pictures of juicy racks of lamb suggest things were hunky dory.  They weren’t.   The general mood of the people was depressed, bitter, cynical and agitated.  Some were even hopeless and broken in spirit.  But I would say most were restless for change.  They are deeply, deeply ashamed of being represented by these unscrupulous, incompetent, murderous thugs who are running the country.  Hence, they hopelessly dwell in their glorious past.  Iranian people constantly, and I mean constantly are waxing nostalgic about the past.  About how life was like during the Shah, about how their ancestors were the pioneers of ancient civilizations.  How their history is storied, meaningful and essential to the human race.  They must constantly remind themselves, and other people, of this history in order to emotionally and historically distinguish themselves from their current plight.  Inside the confines of an Iranian house, you find every member of the family expressing these sentiments.

The conversation at lunch, or dinner is always having something to do with another disappointment, frustration or headache from the daily grind of life in Tehran.  The corruption, inefficiency and general chaos of life there has worn everybody down.  Grandmothers and grandfathers sport looks of deep worry and sorrow for the world they are leaving their kids and grandchildren with.  Adults are solemn, carrying about their daily life with a sense of duty and resignation.  Young folks are restless and oppressed the most visibly.  They can’t legally have sex, drink beer, go to a concert, make music or speak freely.  They graduate from college but have no job opportunities.  If you are a college graduate in Iran and landed a job at a bank, you have made it big.  In the U.S, if you went to college and landed a job at a bank, you did something wrong.  While the young and educated in Iran are the future of the nation, many actively seek avenues out of the country.  To Canada, Europe and the United States they flee for a better life.  Others feel burdened under the moral weight of their situation.  If they leave, Iran may suffer endlessly under the grip of the current mullahs.  So there is tension.  There is societal tension and tension inside of every Iranian.   What I sensed in my brief month in the country was a deep resentment, on all levels of society, for the current President Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader.  I don’t how or if the current showdowns in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemon, Iraq and Saudi Arabia will impact the revolutionary spirit of Iranians.  But whatever the impact could be seems to have scared the shit out of the regime.  They have incarcerated Mousavi, Kharroubi and their wives, which is a definite sign of panic.  I hope Iran has its day soon.

More Tehran: The Food, Etc

Posted March 3, 2011 by SV
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The food.  Mmmmm.  Boy was the food good in Iran.  From the plethora of bakeries and pastry shops to restaurants and cafes, food and eating was a central part of my trip.  Come to think about it, food and eating is a central part of life in Iran in general.  Life sort of revolves around it.  This picture here is from a small mehmooni (casual Iranian gathering of friends and family) held for no special occasion at my dad’s cousins’ house.

This delicious little treat awaited me at the end of a hike through one of Tehran’s most famous parks: Park-eh Jamshideyeh.  It is a beautiful park that fools you into thinking you have traveled hundreds of miles outside of the dense urban center of Tehran into an area resembling Yosemite.  Except it is spotted with these little restaurants that look like cabins from the outside.  Inside they are cooking up a storm.

Freshly baked bread everywhere in Tehran.  EVERYWHERE.  Whereas we here in the U.S tend to swoon at the sight of a real bakery, in Iran it is a way of life.  Every morning my grandma would send me off to buy some Noon-Lavash or Noon-Barbari  while she prepared the tea.   Little holes in the wall all up and down her street would sell a particular type of bread.  Fresh off the rack.  It was so hot I would sort of toss the bread from one hand to the other to avoid getting burned.  Our breakfast would typically be the bread, some butter and some home made jam.  And of course like 8 cups of chai.  As if to compensate for the elaborateness of lunch and dinner, breakfast in Iran tends to be sort of simple and dull.

This is the best asheh-reshteh I’ve ever had in my entire life.  For those of you who don’t know what this is, it is a soup.  Thats all I know and care to know.  Its just delicious.  A delicate balance between spicy and savory.  This is at the King Abbas Hotel in Isfahan, which I will mention again later.  I’m done writing for now, getting hungry.  Bout to throw in a hot pocket.

Lot to Take In

Posted February 23, 2011 by SV
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First few days felt like a constant blizzard of new places and new faces, seen through the haze of my still jet-lagged brain. First came quality time with the close family..cousins, aunts, uncles and grandmother. Many, many cups of sweetened Persian chai straight from the spigot of my grandma’s somovar kept the conversation flowing. Endless fruits and pastries, noon-o-panir brunches, and ghormeh sabzi lunches. The first few days were spent in the warm embrace of family, as if to energize me and help brush up my Farsi. Next came extended family, many of whom I was meeting for the first time. Said my pleasantries to the best of my abilities and tried my hand at the delicate and utterly insincere taroof game. Was mostly met with amused chuckles…After a few rounds of that I was ready to shake free of the extended branches of the family and venture out into the city.

This is Imam Khomeini Square…the downtown and hub of Tehran. Where the 4 million Green Movement protesters marched, blocks away from where Neda was murdered. The Tahrir Square of Tehran. Tehran University is right down the street, and dozens of revolutionary book stores line the main thoroughfare. The intellectual and cultural nucleus of anti-government activity is in Imam Khomeini Square. The name of the square spites them all.

Just pause for a second and imagine 4 million people swelling around that roundabout a year and a half ago. In Egypt, a country with almost 10 million more people than Iran, Tahrir square filling up with just hundreds of thousands of protesters toppled Mubarak. The Ayatollahs of Iran haven’t budged.