Monday, April 30, 2007

The Fashion Police Strike Again

Persian hipsters beware: Iran's revolutionary guardsmen have just been given another excuse to arrest "enemies of the revolution"... your hair. And not just on top of your heads, oh no. Not only are "western hairstyles" banned for men (ladies, keep on doin' whatever it is you're doing under those headscarves), but barbers have been banned from serving customers wearing ties (a symbol of subservience to the west), and from plucking their clients' eyebrows. In a land of abundant facial hair, I don't have to tell you what this means. While monobrows were indeed a symbol of (feminine) beauty in the Qajar period, that was a hundred years ago, and times have changed. Add this new regulation to the already present ban on shaving for workers in the public sector (a huge chunk of the workforce), and you'll have a country full of savage looking beasts. Which is arguably just an extension of their foreign policy these days...

Friday, April 20, 2007

Quebec Gets Something Right

Just thought I'd give the Quebec government props for having the first cabinet in North America with an equal number of men and women serving, with Yolande James, our first black minister among them. Brava!

Now if only Charest could have found the time to include more than ONE anglophone... hey, Charest, you're leader of the Liberal party of Quebec, remember? Liberal? Who do you think still voted blindly for you out of sheer fear of separation, not because you deserve to be in power? Hmm?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Students, get off your asses

Yes, students, I know you would much rather sit around smoking pot all day pondering the meaning of life. I'm sure many of us wish we had that luxury. In an ideal world, everything would be free, and nobody would have to work, and we'd all get along and also, there would be world peace.

Snap out of it, people. If you want to get anywhere in life, you're going to have to WORK for a living. You think that free university education is a right? Well guess what? Article 26 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights seems to indicate that free elementary education is a right. As it stands today, close to 100 million children have yet to exercise that right - and what have you done about that? Most of you have done nothing, as you're too busy drinking beer and whining about having to pay for your privilege to attend university.

Oh, or for those of you in France who already enjoy free universtiy education, my favourite complaint about imposing fees: "Your students have to work while at university to pay their way. We don't want to end up like you in Britain or America" (more on that here). Awwww.... you know what I have to say to that? Boo-fucking-hoo you bunch of babies. You know what? I don't want to work either. In fact, I never want to work work a day in my life, but still make millions. And I want to eat champagne and foie gras every night for dinner and never get gout. Is that going to happen? NO. Same goes to you, you lazy assholes. Maybe that's why France is in such an economic shambles - nobody wants to work for a living.

And as for you, Quebec students, is that what you aspire to? If so, congratulations, cause with a bloated public sector and an annual fiscal debt (yes, Quebec, you are a debtor province - do you understand what that means if you separate from the federal government?), Quebec is well on its way. And so what is it exactly that you hope to accomplish by abolishing the pittance that we pay in tuition today? Even fewer qualified professors to teach us, because we don't have the money to offer them decent salaries? Or was it further diminshed student services and equipment you were after? Hmm? One thing is for certain, Quebec used to be known for housing some of the country's best universities at a cheap price. Pretty soon all they'll be known for is being cheap. And all this because you bums don't want to get off your asses and work a few hours a week to support yourselves. I suppose the interest-free student loans don't interest you either, since you probably won't feel like working to pay them off after you graduate. And for those of you who complain about not being able to get jobs after graduating, maybe that's because employers look for people who take a little initiative and work toward their own future instead of expecting it all to be delivered into their doughey, lazy lap.

That is all. Back to studying for exams.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Unexpected Republic of Iran IV: A Soldier's Rewards

Ok so last week disaster was averted, and the Iranian hostage crisis, part II, was settled peacefully (sidenote: does everyone remember that Ahmadinejad, then just a dreamy revolutionary youth, was part of the team that created the first hostage crisis in 1979?). So Iran didn't go to war. Well I know one soldier who will be disappointed (pictured below, being awarded by soon-to-be Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for his hard work on the battlefield during the Iran-Iraq war):

Ok, so just to recap: being homosexual is against the law, unless you get a sex change, or you're wearing the long black clerical robe indicating that you're a descendent of the Prophet Mohammad, and you just feel like kissing a young, strong, brave soldier. Got it.

And now we can go back to our regular programming.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Unexpected Republic of Iran III: Marriage, by the Hour

Everyone knows that extramarital or premarital sex is a big no-no in Islam, and consequently in the Islamic Republic. Revolutionary Guards patroll the streets looking for young couples to catch in the act of love (ie: holding hands or riding in a car together). Well we can just imagine how difficult this might be to actually enforce. Enter Shi'ite Islam's little known law: Sigheh (or in Arabic Mut'ah lit "joy"). This law sanctions temporary marriage for the purposes of satisfying sexual desire. This marriage can last as little as a few minutes, or as long as 99 years (the younger men probably only need a few minutes). An interesting New York Times article from a few years ago details this law's reception and use in what is still a very traditional society. There are a couple of leading figures in the country who see it as I do: a way to release the pent-up energy of the youth in a country, who represent the vast majority of the population (today it's something like 70% under 25).

As one cleric put it, because God banned alcohol, he allowed temporary marriage. And according the editor of a feminist magazine, "they will use up some of the energy they are putting into street demonstrations". Well exactly. Interestingly enough, the clerics are among the first to make use of this law, so they should be the first to understand it.