This time, from Tel Aviv! Stay tuned for an update from my first week...


Long time no see

Rotating onto a new assignment at work has been tough on my blog. My new workaholic co-workers peek into my cubicle often, so I've had to limit my non-work computer activities to short-term activities: checking my email, reading news headlines, my new Facebook obsession (make it stop!!)...

But I haven't forgotten about my little "bloggie-chi" (as my MayMoonShine would say). I will write more this week, I promise! And I will be on a new assignment soonish. Hopefully they will be more blog-friendly.

In the meantime, an office-themed cartoon is in order.


Hotter than Where?

I just overheard someone in the office say "I'd rather be in Kuwait right now." Odds are he's actually been to Kuwait, so use your imagination to figure out how much I am sweating.


Cultural Graffiti

I came across the Iran Graffiti and Urban Art Report blog accidentally this morning and I think it is awesome, but I'll let the art speak for itself. My personal favorite:
If that site interests you, you should also check out Gajin Fujita, a Japanese-American artist who beautifully fuses traditional Japanese art with East LA graffiti. His work was on display at LACMA earlier this year.


DC Celebrity Sighting

Apparently I am "from LA" now, so what LA chica is complete without her occasional celebrity sighting? I can't meet Steve Urkel in a club, speed past the Spelling mansion or spot an Olsen twin at Starbucks anymore (don't fret, I'll get over my loss), but I can use my camera phone to stalk a certain someone when I see him on the corner of 20th and M NW on a Thursday afternoon, trying to hail a cab all by his lonesome... Can you guess who?


Update: Lunch Bully

Note the following message posted to the crime scene this morning:Apparently there have been a series of reported food thefts taking place on my floor. As a result of the aforementioned thefts, a neighborhood food watch program has been implemented. As a part of this program, victims have the opportunity to publicly post logs of their stolen food items. I noticed that one particular John Doe not only had his Arizona green tea stolen, but lost a burrito only one week later. Tragic.
I find solace in knowing that I work in a place of snitch analists-- er, I mean activists! Yes, yes...activists.


Lunch Bully

I truly can't believe this, but someone at work actually stole my lunch today. I've searched the fridge about 18 times, and my carefully prepared, nutritious meal of zucchini, tofu, brown rice and black beans has yet to be found. I know it looked delicious, but seriously, what is wrong with people? So now some shmuck is enjoying the fruits of my labor and I have to go to my Farsi class hungry. Vaveylah beh een mamlekat.


Move Over Fukuyama: Another Academic Annoys Dani California

I disagree with this op-ed by Bernard Lewis, a professor at Princeton University. The piece, sensationalistically titled "Was Osama Right?" begins by implying that the US response to the Arab world is passive, or even wimpy:

"If you did anything to annoy the Russians, punishment would be swift and dire. If you said or did anything against the Americans, not only would there be no punishment; there might even be some possibility of reward, as the usual anxious procession of diplomats and politicians, journalists and scholars and miscellaneous others came with their usual pleading inquiries: "What have we done to offend you? What can we do to put it right?"

I would say simultaneously occupying Iraq and Afghanistan can be called a lot of bad things, but implying wimpiness? Further, Lewis ignores the idea that Arab countries, who are both threatened by US hegemony as well as capitalism, may just actually relate (or at least they could relate more, relative to US capitalism) to Soviet socialism. For example, several Arab countries have had their own socialist movements. Even though theocracy and religious fundamentalism can clash with the secular slant of socialism, I would guess that Arab governments and citizens can nonetheless identify with socialism's sense of community and obligation to something larger than yourself, whether that be God, the proletariat, or a governing entity.

I'm annoyed that Lewis, who has written extensively on the Middle East, has yet to understand basic, elementary things about Middle Eastern culture. That is what happens when you haven't had hands on professional experience in your field since the second World War, I suppose. It is frightening that someone with so little experience in that region is so well-heeded by the Bush administration.

I certainly don't mean to slam academia and I'm not a university hater. But as someone who has a love for teaching and would love to be a professor someday, I strongly feel that professors have an obligation to their students to back up their opinions with first-hand experience. And if they don't have any of that, then maybe they should stick to the textbook lesson plan, or at least start their opinions with some sort of disclaimer.

The two academics I've slammed in this blog (
see my Fukuyama post) have both been neo-conservatives, but I really don't think the liberal side is much better. I'll never forget sitting in my Middle East Politics class at Berkeley, as our guest lecturer from the University of Haifa told us that Israelis are inherently violent and aggressive people. I can't describe how it felt to sit in that class, wholeheartedly putting my learning experience in the hands of my professors, only to get that in return.


Scoobie in DC

It's been absolutely fabulous to have little sis here with me. Here's Scoobie's take on her first day in DC: seeing the Capitol (in her words, "a beacon of democracy"), her love affair with honest Abe, getting hit on by a security guard and more:

Hi All,
just wanted to let you know that I got to DC perfectly intact. Dani is doing great, her apartment is the coolest place I have ever been and we are having an awesome time!

...Washington DC is a beautiful and lively city with a culture of its own. I feel so lucky that I got to go through it alone today and see so many interesting things. I woke up late (I am on Cali time) and met Dans and her coworker for lunch. Then the sightseeing began. I LOVE sightseeing. I went to the national archives where I saw the constitution, magna carta, declaration of independence, emancipation proclamation, etc, etc and watched a video about how the archives protect our democracy because they give everyone access to government documents so we can hold the government accountable. the proof that made the holocaust case where survivors and their heirs were given their money from Swiss bank accounts was found in the archives, they actually had Swiss bank records and lists of jewish names! There was also an exhibit on presidential education ("from schoolhouse to white house" very corny). but I saw a love letter from barbara bush to george HW accepting his invitation to a college dance. It was cute. I saw nixon's violin, clinton's high school portrait, and JFK's report card. It was all very funny.

Then I went to a sculpture garden and down to the Mall. I was so exhausted at that point from the heat and all the walking, that I got a hagen daz bar and sat under a shady tree for a good while. I "haal'd" big time. (by the way, I have pictures of everything--even that!!!). I went to a gorgeous botanical garden and took pictures of the most beautiful and exotic orchids I have ever seen and almost got arrested when the security guard had to ask me to leave 3 times because they were closing. Then he hit on me. That finally got me out of there.

After that, I hiked up capital hill. Up close, the capital building is amazingly gorgeous and majestic. I thought about all the laws and history that were made at that spot. I love US history. nerdy, I know).

Then I trekked to the metro to meet Dani for dinner. We went to a cute bistro with one of her friends, sat outside because the weather is fabulous now and had margaritas. yum. We rested for a while, then took a night tour of the monuments. Around the monuments, there are lots of pools and lights which make everything look very romantic (oooh ahhh)... I am so fascinated by Abraham Lincoln, from both the historical and psychological perspective. He was a cool dude and I was excited to see the monument dedicating to honoring him. We also saw the vietnam and WWII memorials and the washington monument which is ENORMOUS....

I am so sticky (DC was built on a swamp, you know) so I have to shower up and get to bed. This was only day 1. I love being a tourist.


Yay Negs!

Check out this KQED Forum feature on Iranian Alternative Culture, created and produced by my very own Negar! I'm so proud of my girl!


It is Not Necessary

It is not necessary to whistle

To be alone,To live in the dark.

Out in the crowd, under the wide sky,

We remember our separate selves,

The intimate self, the naked self,

The only self who knows how the nails

Who knows how his own silence is made

And his own poor words.

There is a public Pedro,

Seen in the light, an adequate Bernice,

But inside,

Underneath age and clothing,

We still don't have a name,

We are quite different.

Eyes don't close only in order to sleep,

But so as not to see the same sky.

We soon grow tired,

And as if they were sounding the bell

To call us to school,

We return to the hidden flower,

To the bone, the half-hidden root,

And there we suddenly are,

We are the pure, forgotten self,

The true being

Within the four walls of our singular

Between the two points of living and dying.

~Pablo Neruda


Listen to your Mother

Best advice she ever gave me. Thanks mom :)

Five tips for a woman....

1. It is important that a man helps you around the house and has a job.

2. It is important that a man makes you laugh.

3. It is important to find a man you can count on and doesn't lie to you.

4. It is important that a man loves you and spoils you.

5. It is important that these four men don't know each other.


In Memory

Sometimes tragedies go beyond being tragic, beyond grief and sadness, far past irony, and settle down in a place in your heart. May Professor Liviu Librescu rest in peace.


National Rifle Association

What is wrong with this country?


Weather Rant

Don't think that since I've been posting all these warm fuzzies about snow I have been happy about the weather around here. Even though I have discovered my relatively high tolerance for cold/snow, I have discovered an element that I truly despise: wind.
Wind is El Diablo himself. The wind-chill factor makes everything feel colder. Wind at night causes a commotion loud enough to keep me awake long into the night. Wind makes walking around in the rain with an umbrella nearly impossible. Wind severely dries my eyes out. Wind f**ing sucks.
DC (I propose we call it "little Chicago" or perhaps, "the OTHER windy city") has plenty of wind, especially this week. Today wind speeds may reach as high as 60 miles per hour!! That's a slow car on a freeway! At the risk of sounding a little dramatic, I could get knocked down in this crazy wind and die of a concussion. And I can kiss the cherry blossoms goodbye- there is no way they are going to survive this crap-ass weather.
I have decided that while I may tolerate snow, I could never live somewhere with wind (nor fog, after waking up to dew on my head-turned-afro every July morning in SF) again.



Chaverah is unique. Her day-to-day musings are so deep, powerful and loaded. She questions all positions and beliefs: hers, yours, theirs. The Quintessential Devil's Advocate. She has a talent for taking a common human experience, dissecting it in her mind, then transforming it into extemporaneous poetry on her tongue. Chaverah has new and recurring existential crisis every day. Forget Socrates, forget Nietzsche. If there is ever a philosopher who will discover the meaning of life, it will be Chaverah.

You would think that having such a complex mind would make her pretentious and removed. Not so. Chaverah is quite personable. If she shares her thoughts, you will not only understand what she is saying, you will relate. Almost everyone relates somehow, because she is caught between so many worlds and has learned to be a social chameleon. First, Chaverah observes as an outsider, then she conjures strategies to assimilate. Despite this, she never fully fits in: somehow her distinctiveness is always exposed. Others are captivated by her. I can tell by the way they look at her and the kinds of questions they ask. Chaverah doesn't see herself this way. When it comes to self-reflection, she is obliviously conscious.

People are so amazingly complex. Connections between two people are doubly complex. Chaverah and I connect, share, argue like sisters. Chaverah and I are so different; in our intellect, our spirituality, our art, our life paths, our families, our culture, our preferences. We learn to acknowledge, then respect, then accommodate each other's differences. I have never received a bad gift from Chaverah. I have never felt judged by Chaverah. I can always tell Chaverah when she doesn't understand me. There is no guarantee that she won't argue about it, but I know she is listening to my grievance. Chaverah inspired me many times, some of which I have yet to realize.

Here's to you my friend. Don't ever change!


The Immigration Debate: What are the Facts?

If you know me well, you know I'm a big immigration policy buff. Part of the reason it fascinates me (aside from my own family/identity ties to it) is that it is such a complex and contentious issue. I am also amazed at the extent to which public opinion on immigration shapes the positions of our congressional leaders. This is true for many policies, but I think immigration is unique because the facts are so muddled that even policy makers don't know what their positions are. And yet the public feels very strongly about their positions. To shape their policy stances, I think that our elected officials often rely their constituency's impulsive and erratic immigration stances. Their voters may or may have the best ideas, but at least this way they can stay in office!

Because of this, it is extremely important that the facts on immigration are well-disseminated to the voting public. There are varied positions on immigration, particularly illegal immigration, and I think that regardless of where you lie on the spectrum-from a MEChA member to a Minuteman- you have both valid and invalid points in your favor.

Compared to most policy issues, it is harder to extract pure clean facts on immigration. So I very much appreciate this recent opinion piece by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), who I personally trust for objective, fact-based research on California policy issues.

The piece is titled "Even in the Immigration Debate, Facts are Facts." It puts an end to the argument that immigration results in lower wages for CA citizens or that they are depriving citizens of jobs. Hans Johnson, author of the op-ed, backs up his argument with two main points:

First, from 1960 to 2004, the data shows no link between the large number of immigrants moving into California and U.S.-born workers either moving out of the state or dropping out of the work force. In other words, on average, U.S.-born workers were not displaced because of immigrants moving into the state.
Second, between 1990 and 2004, the real wages of U.S.-born workers received a positive boost – an estimated 3 to 5 percent – from the presence of immigrants in the work force. The amount that wages increased varied, depending on age and education, but almost without exception, the results were positive for U.S.-born workers.

Johnson further says that not only are immigrants not depriving Californians of jobs or fair wages, but they are raising the quality of our workforce as a whole and allowing Californians to "upgrade" their work skills.
The study reveals that immigrants do not compete directly with the majority of U.S.-born workers for the same jobs. Rather, they complement U.S. workers in terms of skills, education and occupations.
For example, in the agricultural field, most immigrants have taken jobs as agricultural laborers, while most U.S. workers have filled jobs such as farm supervisors. As the ranks of one type of worker increase, so does the demand for this other, complementary type.
Note that the author does not distinguish between legal and illegal immigration. That kind of analysis is difficult, as the US Census Bureau doesn't collect data on the undocumented. So bear in mind that this is big-picture analysis: examining immigration as a whole.

So back to the issue of public opinion. Since the public plays such an important role in determining the direction of immigration policy, I can't emphasize enough how important it is to keep the straight facts in mind when formulating your opinion on immigration. I am not telling you what to think. In fact, my position on it may surprise you: I think there are undoubtedly legitimate arguments (and very productive debates to be made) for limiting immigration (for example, overpopulation in CA, a strain on social services, homeland security concerns, and of course legality issues with the undocumented) but the worker/wage arguments are probably the most overused, and, in my opinion, most inaccurate.

For more information, you can also watch this interesting video on immigration and CA jobs and wages. I have plenty of other interesting information in this issue. If you are intersted, just ask!


Regina Spektor - Fidelity

Me Myself and I

Some of my favorite moments have been alone. Not that I'd like to be by myself always, but I think we all spend too much time trying to be surrounded by others and don't really take the time to see beauty in solitude. A few of my recent favorite alone moments:

June 2006
6AM on the beach in Tel Aviv, as I wait for some of my friends to wake up and let me into the hotel. After getting kicked out of the hotel lobby for napping, I head over to the water. The beach is usually packed, but at 6 AM it's just me and a couple crazy people walking along the water. I was dead tired, but my senses had to open up to the smell of the salt water, 6AM ocean breeze, and the sound of waves and frenzied Hebrew nearby. I felt like I had lived in that spot my whole life. I had just finished grad school, I was just about to move to DC, and my life in the last several months had not been pleasant. I remember thinking that after a morning like that, things could only get better.

October 2006
Three weeks into my new job and it's Friday night. I am feeling a little anxious, because Mayan just returned to Israel and it's my first weekend by myself in DC. The only other building I really know at this point, aside from work and my apartment, is the Historic Synagogue on 6th and I, which is where I went for Yom Kippur with Mayan. I am hesitant to go to services by myself. Like Paula Abdul, I take a few steps forward, a few steps back, and then I climb the stairs into the synagogue. MesorahDC, who sponsors these Shabbat services, is Orthodox. I'm not sure I'd ever attended an Ashkenazi Orthodox service, and certainly not by myself. But as I sat down, all the women nearby smiled and Shabbat Shalomed me. The hazzan began singing a niggun, Shlomo Carlebach style. I've been moved by Jewish melodies before, but this time was different. I really can't describe this moment except to say that when in a new place, thousands of miles away from anyone who loves you, there is nothing more comforting than sitting in a room full of Jews, listening to a familiar melody.

Last week
After happy hour with a few friends from work, my belly full of tapas and with a nice sangria buzz, I decided to walk home. I took H street (definitely not a shortcut) which at some point, turns into New York Avenue if you're not paying attention, and if you're still not paying attention, it will become Pennsylvania Avenue and will drop you off at the back door of the White House. It is a pretty amazing thing to just happen upon the White House on your way home from work. Most tourists visit the White House during the day, but it is a very different experience at night. You can hear the fountain going, the few tourists around are snapping their photographs, and you can really look into the White House. You see which lights are on you begin to wonder who is in there at that moment, sitting at what desk and reading which memo or report. Who is briefing whom? Who is in the residence having a nightcap? (Yes yes, I watch too much West Wing). I started thinking about all the outrageous decisions and statements coming out of the building lately. Mid-fume, as I was peering intently into one window that I'd arbitrarily decided is currently holding the president, a cherry blossom caught my eye. I adjust to near-sightedness and I stop fuming. It's spring! It is 9PM and seventy degrees outside (and raining a little- how tropical!). The weather will probably go back and forth over the next few weeks, but irregardless, I survived my first DC winter!

And speaking of spring, I am very excited about the Cherry Blossom Festival. If anyone was planning on visiting DC, April is the ideal month to do so. Not that I have any problem enjoying it by myself ;)


What I saw

...on the metro this morning blew my mind.
Isn't this a yo' mama joke? Yo' mama so stupid, she be putting dimes in her penny loafers.


Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Leave it to Heeb to dig deep into our Jewishness and come up with someting so painful yet funny:

Comeon, you have to admit you were laughing. But I was also a little freaked. Why do I find this so disturbing? Is it really that sacrilegious? If I looked outside of my religious identity, I would say that a pig is an animal, it has a right to exist, and it just happens to be chilling around some Shabbat table somewhere (although I am sure there is some law out there against having a pig near a prayer book).

Not to get too serious with this posting (by the way, I am loving that punk cover of the Fiddler on the Roof song) but I think it does an interesting job of revealing the power of symbolism and laws in our lives. I ask my fellow Tribesman and Tribeswomen: Was it just me or were you a little freaked out?



As doth quoteth ye Homer Simpson: "mmmmmmm......... choccclaaaate." As if dark chocolate wasn't good enough...try this blend of dark chocolate with cranberries, blueberries and almonds. Who says American chocolate is bad?


Me Gustas Cuando Callas

If you haven't heard the Brazilian Girls yet, I highly recommend them, particularly their self-titled album (I haven't heard much of their new one yet, but I've heard it's not as good). Surprisingly enough, my sister (aka Barbara Streisand lover) discovered them before I did. KCRW truly makes miracles happen.
She also fell in love with "Me Gustas Cuando Callas," which is a song on the self-titled track that puts one of Pablo Neruda's most beautiful poems to a most beautiful melody. You can read the lyrics, in both English and Spanish


Yo' Mama Fukuyama

I wasn't really a Fukuyama fan in college (Hegel, shmegel. Tell us something useful and contemporary man!), but I think I agree with him in this article. It's interesting that Fukuyama is taking this position, mainly because he was pushing for a US invasion of Iraq during the Clinton administration. It's also interesting (or wussy) that he chose a UK paper instead of a domestic one to make his point. Not that DoD, the Dept. of State and other former friends would listen to him anyways-- he's been anti-neocon for a while now: he opposed the 2003 Iraq invasion, claims to have voted against Bush in 2004 and called for Rumsfeld's resignation around that same time. I hope we increasingly hear similarly-reformed opinions like these before anything extreme (and impulsive) takes place with Iran. I hold the Dems in my prayers. May they keep our crazy Prez and VP in check. Ahhhmen.
The neocons have learned nothing from five years of catastrophe
Their zealous advocacy of the invasion of Iraq may have been a disaster, but now they want to do it all over again - in Iran
Francis Fukuyama
Wednesday January 31, 2007
The Guardian, UK

American military doctrine has emphasised the use of overwhelming force, applied suddenly and decisively, to defeat the enemy. But in a world where insurgents and militias deploy invisibly among civilian populations, overwhelming force is almost always counterproductive: it alienates precisely those people who have to make a break with the hardcore fighters and deny them the ability to operate freely. The kind of counterinsurgency campaign needed to defeat transnational militias and terrorists puts political goals ahead of military ones, and emphasises hearts and minds over shock and awe...

What I find remarkable about the neoconservative line of argument on Iran, however, is how little changed it is in its basic assumptions and tonalities from that taken on Iraq in 2002, despite the momentous events of the past five years and the manifest failure of policies that neoconservatives themselves advocated. What may change is the American public's willingness to listen to them.


I'm over the cold, but I'm not over the way snow can make everything mundane so damn beautiful, such as my morning commute:...out of my apartment building...
...on my way to Dupont metro...

...and from the metro to the office.

A little DC humor

The world really does revolve around politics here. Last week I attended a hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building. It was roughly a week since Bush's "democrat majority" debacle during the State of the Union. On my way to the hearing, I passed by this:

In case you can't read it, some irritated democratIC hill staffer has added an "ic" to the end of "democrat!" Get it?!? Get it?!? Ach, maybe you have to live in Washington to find this funny.


Maybe that's where he keeps his Skittles...

The easily nauseous need not click.



DJ Cheb i Sabbah & Frédérique

I was particularly excited to come across this clip because Cheb is my favorite DJ, Frédérique was my first Tribal Belly Dance instructor back in the days in Oakland (and she rocks), and they're performing at Amoeba Records in Berkeley, where I have so many fond memories. Special props to Maymoonchi for sending it to me!


Great job Nance, but something's not right

Don't get me wrong, Pelosi is my woman. And becoming the first female Speaker of the House is quite an accomplishment, and good reason to look your best. But perhaps next time this CA Representative wants to change her eyebrows, she should avoid going to an SF drag queen for advice.

Pelosi has been critized for eyebrow troubles before. But now, like her power and status, Pelosi's eyebrows have reached an unprecedented height. What if she suddenly assumed the presidency or vice presidency? Where would those eyebrows go? Find out by reading this interview with Nancy's makeup artist.

Never-ever thought I'd say this

...but I think I like Arnie. I know his approval rating is fantastic right now, but I never thought I'd hop on the Governator Love Train. But I like "post-partisanship" and I like that he has big ideas, even if they're not always feasible. I think he actually has the political momentum to get things done too, which Angelides, in all his Democratic-ness, could not have done. Schwarzenegger actually has changed his persona and his priorities according to the opinions of his constituents, and he's not afraid to apologize. He's getting me all excited about California politics. I almost want to jump aboard the next plane to Sacramento and join his administration-- just kidding kids, I'm not that convinced...but with this crazy governor, who knows how I'll feel about it in a few years? This article sums it up rather well. See below...

Governor, in a hurry, walks political tight rope
By Daniel Weintraub -

Whatever you think of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, don't call him an incrementalist. He lives large and plays hard. And while he is fixated on the future, he sometimes seems to govern as if he thinks there is no tomorrow.

...Schwarzenegger used his State of the State speech Tuesday night to lay out plans for health care, infrastructure and environmental policy that would put or keep California on the cutting edge on all three issues. The tie that binds his approach on those fronts is action. He can't stand sitting back and waiting for things to happen. Or taking them step-by-step. He wants to do it all. Now.

"We are not waiting for politics," Schwarzenegger told a joint session of the Legislature. "We are not waiting for our problems to get worse. We are not waiting for the federal government. We are not waiting -- period. Because the future does not wait."

"In the past," Schwarzenegger said, "health care reform was always dead on arrival. But this year you can feel something different in the air. I can feel the energy, the momentum, the desire for action. You can feel that the time is right..."

On the environment, Schwarzenegger is back with a new step in his battle against global warming, one that won't require legislative approval. He has ordered his air quality bureaucracy to begin a discussion on rules that would reduce the amount of carbon in automotive fuels by 10 percent, and he wants the regulators to include a provision that would allow refiners to use a market-based system to accomplish his goal.

"Let us blaze the way, for the U.S., for China and for the rest of the world," Schwarzenegger told the Legislature. "Our cars have been running on dirty fuel for too long. Our country has been dependent on foreign oil for too long. I ask you to set in motion the means to free ourselves from oil and from OPEC. I ask you to encourage the free market to overthrow the old order. California has the muscle to bring about such change. I say use it."

This, apparently, is what Schwarzenegger means by post-partisan. His plans are a mix of right and left, Republican and Democrat. They are in some cases risky. But they are never dull.