When is Glass Not Transparent?


See end of post for an update on this item

Mauritanian journalist Riyadh Ahmed, who decided yesterday to blow the whistle on 27 of his colleagues and managers of print, electronic and audio-visual media (here or see image below) but declined to publish the documents and audio he claims he has as evidence of them accepting payments, seemed to have been scooped by an anonymous blog. In response, Riyadh Ahmed claims (or see image below) that the list on the blog is fake, and exhorts us to ignore it. What a fine mess.

We could ask: what evidence exists to show that the vast majority of Mauritanian media is independent or above corruption to begin with? Documents, tapes, etc could be mere confirmation of common knowledge, no more startling than Edward Snowden’s serialised revelations about state surveillance methods and programs that have been known of for years. My dear friends: distraction, not discovery, is the name of the game.

UPDATE 27 December 2013: On 24 December, Riyadh posted an apology (see image below) and retracted his intention to publish the list, citing the pleading of three associates, who had managed to persuade him that to continue would bring too much harm to their shared profession. The statement attracted a mixed reaction, including demands to publish regardless. A couple of days have passed now without further comment, so it seems that this distraction is over for now.




When is glass not transparent? When it’s mirrored.


Finally, Graduated Elite! (Confirmed by @WordPress)


Finally, Graduated Elite! (Confirmed by @WordPress)

This notification from WordPress totally caught me by surprise, and really made me Laugh Out Loud, so I just had to share. To make it even more special, I got the notification at 13:37 – leet-o-clock!
I did nothing to earn this stunning achievement – it is the gift of all the wonderful WordPress.com registered users who were so kind and generous to follow my humble blog. Thank you all so much, your collective actions helped to brighten my day!


The Story Behind ‘1337 Leet’

In the days of Windows 95, a group of infamous hackers named “The Dead Cow Cult” used to take remote control of Windows 95 machines. They used a nasty software package called Back Orifice, and used the network port 31337 to take over thousands of Win95 computers worldwide. Their purposeful misspelling of the world “elite” as “leet” or “1337” was a way to bypass censorship programs.

Years later, the Dead Cow Cult influence has morphed into a subculture of jargon and power user language. People who speak “leet” today are not malicious hackers. Instead leetspeak is often the trademark of serious Internet gamers and people who pride themselves on being technically savvy. About.com explains some of the leetspeak world here… 

Related terms to leet: hax0rchixor, 3ber, epeen, r0x0r. These hacker-type terms were originally purposely spelled with numbers to avoid censorship programs. Today, the numeric spelling is used as a form of subculture and expressiveness.

Not at all fascinating map of the world’s most and least tedious countries


When two Facebook friends set out to examine whether including a map could render an otherwise totally pointless blog post any more or less credible, they knew just where to look for inspiration. All that remained was to choose a suitably inane subject and invent some survey statistics.

It wasn’t all plain sailing. Someone actually shouted out “Africa!” during the selection process. It was reasoned that they should not be expelled, since there might be a grant opportunity from the EU for employing the geographically-challenged.

Here, after almost fifteen minutes of slaving away with Photoshop, is the result.


We won’t be diving into the data, because there is none. However, a couple of caveats:

  1. It’s not only likely that some people lied when creating this map; it’s a certainty. The entire thing was invented on a whim.
  2. This is not an annual exercise. Over time, the relative tedium ranking of a country may shift in myriad ways that no one can be bothered to investigate.

Political Punch-ups


If you’re not fighting, you’re not trying

“In a democracy, people usually get the kind of government they deserve, and they deserve what they get.” ~ Hunter Thompson

I am allergic to politics and politicians. I can never understand why some people like to fuss and fawn over them. At times it’s almost like hero worship, yet they are supposed to be servants of the public. All the scandals about politicians lying and cheating their way through life only reinforce my negative feelings. To further prove my point, here – in no particular order because there is no point trying to choose between them – are some examples of politicians behaving badly.

2013 – Venezuela

Opposition lawmaker Julio Borges arrives with a bruised face to his political party’s headquarters

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=66G-L1N7xzQ]

2011 – Italy

Political fights: political fisticuffs

Claudio Barbato, left, a member of the opposition FLI party, fights with Fabio Ranieri, right, from the Northern League in Italy’s parliament in Rome. Photograph: Ansa/Reuters

2005 – Russia

Political fights: political fisticuffs

Members of the Rodina (Motherland) faction fight with deputies of the Russian Liberal-Democratic party during the State Duma session in Moscow in 2005. The Liberal-Democrats protested what they described as violations in the course of elections to the legislature of the Yamal-Nenets autonomous area and staged a walkout. As they made for the doors, some of them clashed with members of the Rodina party. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

2006 – Czech Republic

Political fights: political fisticuffs

The then Czech health minister, David Rath, in a punch-up with his right-wing rival, Miroslav Macek, during a meeting of disgruntled dentists in Prague. Macek, a presidential adviser and former deputy PM who is also a dentist, broke off an address to slap Rath hard on the back of the head. Rath responded by calling him a coward and the two men traded blows

2009 – Bolivia

Political fights: political fisticuffs

Bolivian opposition congressman Fernando Rodriguez, right, battles with an unidentified indigenous deputy of President Evo Morales’s party during a congress session in La Paz in 2009 Photograph: David Mercado/Reuters

2012 – Macedonia

In Macedonia, violent brawling broke out in parliament over the 2013 budget. Police in riot gear had to be called in to break up the fight.

Macedonian deputies and members of opposition Social-Democratic Alliance of Macedonia (SDSM) rescue fellow party member Vesna Bendevska (C) during a clash with Parliament security as they try to protect parliament speaker Trajko Veljanovski in Skopje December 24, 2012. REUTERS/Viktor Popovski

2011 – Kuwait

Kuwaiti Shiite and Sunni MPs fight during a heated parliament debate over inmates in the US Guantanamo detention centre. Yasser al Zayyat / AFP Photo

Kuwaiti Shiite and Sunni MPs fight during a heated parliament debate over inmates in the US Guantanamo detention centre. Yasser al Zayyat / AFP Photo

2010 – Ukraine

Political fights: political fisticuffs

Ukrainian opposition and pro-presidential lawmakers fight against each other during ratification of the Black Sea fleet deal with Russia, in parliament in Kiev, in 2010. Ukraine’s parliament voted to extend Russia’s lease of a Crimean naval port for the Black Sea fleet in a chaotic session during which eggs and smoke bombs were thrown Photograph: Efrem Lukatsky/AP

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sc5zLmn8D0E]

2010 – Mauritania

MPs Jamil Ould Mansour and Slama Ould Abdellahi manhandling each other after exchanging insults and profanities during a parliamentary session on the civil status law.

MPs Jamil Ould Mansour and Slama Ould Abdellahi manhandling each other after exchanging insults and profanities during a parliamentary session on the civil status law.

2009 – South Korea

Lawmakers of the main opposition Democratic Party react as they fall down during scuffles with parliament security guards in Seoul

Lawmakers of the main opposition Democratic Party react as they fall down during scuffles with parliament security guards in Seoul

See also: Brawling Legislators in South Korea – Photo Essay – TIME

2007 – 2010 – Taiwan

Taipei reform bill

Taipei, Taiwan: Parliament dissolved into chaos over an electoral reform bill.

Taipei reform bill

Taipei, Taiwan 2007: Rival legislators exchanged punches and jostled violently for position around the speaker’s dais.

Political fights: political fisticuffs

Taiwanese ruling and opposition lawmakers brawl as discussions start on the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement planned with China in 2010, in Taipei. Pro-and anti-government lawmakers exchanged punches and threw garbage bins at each other in a raucous session in Taiwan’s legislature, after the speaker rejected an opposition bid to conduct a detailed debate on the contentious trade pact with China Photograph: Wally Santana/AP

#Iran: Dignity or Chicken?


A nation that was supposed to be a role model for all the World – and be a messenger of peace, friendship, justice,compassion and human dignity for all the people – is , today, most worried about… Chicken.

Waking up every morning, he is worried that, God forbid, a kilo of chicken priced at 7,000 Toman has become 8,000 Toman, and this fruit of the Earth gets further away from his reach daily, and every night he goes to bed wishing for a miracle to happen so chicken becomes cheaper.

Can a Nation that spends its days and nights obsessed with poultry possess “human dignity” and be a decent role model for the people of the World? Of course the public is not so guilty, the guilty are those who have reduced the wishes and ideals of a nation to a chicken, and keeps them busy thinking from dawn to dust about such matters.

Have you seen the pictures of the poultry and meat exhibition? Have you seen how the brave and epic-making nation formed long lines – as if to break the enemy’s front – to purchase meat priced at 4,500 Toman? Interestingly, the poultry & meat exhibition was held in Tehran’s Mosalla. That’s a place for prayer, and ceremonies such as [the significant and holy] Eid el Fitr Prayer. Such a place is supposed to be the gathering place of the collective soul of a nation that has fled the chains of the material world and is on its way to salvation and redemption. A little zeal and good taste is not bad. Was there really not a more appropriate venue other than the Tehran’s Mosalla to hold this exhibition – which should fittingly have beencalled a market instead of an exhibition. Does it mean it [Mosalla] is a place where prayers can be held, book exhibitions can be held, and chicken and meat sold, too?

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Yet, a comment of one of the high officials [Iran’s Chief of Police] who said, “TV should not show chicken” was the most interesting of all. What does it mean? It means images of chicken broadcasted by state-owned media corporation of the Islamic Republic of Iran would arouse greed and avarice in the public, and since buying chicken at seven, or eight thousands [Toman per kilo] is not affordable by all, it is possible that, God forbid, a nation that was supposed to be the symbol of human dignity falls from the apex of glory to the perigee of humiliation, and sighs and whines, yearning for something barely precious. What a wise plan! All kinds of cars and other appliances which are financially out of reach of most people of this land are advertised twenty-four hours a day on TV channels and no one speaks out against it, but “chicken” must not be shown on TV, really! What if bread gets expensive? Shall we ban bread on TV too? I say how about now that the price of real estate is touching the sky, we demand State TV stop showing any house. How about all the characters in domestic films and soap operas live under a tent. This way nobody will be hurt seeing other people in houses. Moreover, poor people will also thank God because seeing their compatriots under the tent will make them believe what a comfortable life they are having. I am not joking, but believe me high price of chicken is not as troubling as these types of wise comments.

I have also heard that Gilan honored us, and a coupon is given to journalists so they can buy up to five kilos of chicken at the state subsidized price. It is as if the Iranian human has no goal or aim [in life] but chicken. However,It is not a problem. As the saying goes, this too will pass. But, talking of spirituality and dignity of humans at current conditions is laughable, and makes everyone laugh, even the chickens priced at four thousand five hundred Tomans.


Seyed Abduljawad Mousavi

This English translation from the Iran Watching blog is of an interesting blog post written by Sayed Abduljawad Mousavi originally in Farsi. He is an Iranian poet, journalist, author and cultural critic, who is politically aligned with the mainstream narrative of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is safe to assume that he is pro-Khamenei, or he would not be allowed to work as a journalist and a critic in this oppressive media environment of Iran.

He blogs in Khabaronline.ir, which is a news and commentary website close to Ali Larijani, Iran’s Parliament Speaker. His original blog post can be found here.

What is interesting about this critical post of his is the loud disappointment that he expresses as he admits the loss of high Ideals of the Islamic Revolution in the Iranian society. He does not criticize The government, The parliament,The judiciary or the leadership of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. He goes off at a ridiculous comment made by Iran’s Police chief in the most implicit manner – without even mentioning the name of the Police Commander. But, he fails to mention the widely-mocked comment of Iran’s Friday Prayers that denied the rampant poverty in Iran. Criticizing clerics by non clerics in Iran is a taboo and can cause the wrath of the clerical system — no smart person in Iran would like to do that, or they would end up in Evin prison.

In Iran Watching’s opinion, Sayed Abduljawad Mousavi belongs to a generation of revolutionaries that did not see the revolution, or even take part in the 8-year Iran-Iraq war in the 80s. A generation that somehow managed to absorb and heed the “Ideals”  of the 1979 revolution favored by Iran’s first Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini. It should be very tough for him to see how his most cherished ideals are of no value for the government of Iran, or among the Iranians.

More importantly, this essay shows the gap between the worries of the ordinary people of Iran – who are trying hard to get by under the crippling sanctions – and the state-approved intellectual class of the Islamic Republic of Iran.  Obviously the writers & thinkers committed to the Islamic Republic of Iran and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei do not share the worries of ordinary Iranians.