Friday, June 19, 2009

Iranian Revolution of 2009

"I will participate in the demonstrations tomorrow. Maybe they will turn violent. Maybe I will be one of the people who is going to get killed. I'm listening to all my favorite music. I even want to dance to a few songs. I always wanted to have very narrow eyebrows. Yes, maybe I will go to the salon before I go tomorrow! There are a few great movie scenes that I also have to see. I should drop by the library, too. It's worth to read the poems of Forough and Shamloo again. All family pictures have to be reviewed, too. I have to call my friends as well to say goodbye. All I have are two bookshelves which I told my family who should receive them. I'm two units away from getting my bachelors degree but who cares about that. My mind is very chaotic. I wrote these random sentences for the next generation so they know we were not just emotional and under peer pressure. So they know that we did everything we could to create a better future for them. So they know that our ancestors surrendered to Arabs and Mongols but did not surrender to despotism. This note is dedicated to tomorrow's children..."

(extracted from an Iranian student's blog post June 18, 2009 (translated))

For several days I've been casually following the events of the post-election uprising in Iran. While the traditional news media have given some sporadic updates on the situation, nothing comes close to the eye-witness reports scattered far and wide across the internet via social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and hundreds of blogs direct from the ground level by the Iranians themselves.

One of the most concise locations where this information is being collated and shared is none other than the crass link sharing site A community best known for its unabashedly crude sense of humor has generated some 36,000 serious posts directly related to the Iranian uprising, almost all of them in support of the Iranian Revolution. Iran discussion thread # XXVI on is where I discovered the well-sourced quote you see above.

MousaviThere is alot of noise in the mix, alot of disinformation surrounding these events for whatever reasons, but the gist of the matter is that the people of Iran are standing up to the current oppressive regime. They've had demonstrations daily since the election on June 12, with estimates of 1-2million people gathering in city squares throughout Iran to oppose the announced election results declaring Ahmadinejad the winner with 60% of the vote (despite Mousavi's lead in pre-election polls), and more broadly to oppose the regime itself. The allegedly defeated populist reformer candidate Mousavi (pictured at right) is the face of this new revolution, but the movement itself has become larger than him and his failed candidacy.

Today, the Supreme Leader Khamenei delivered a speech in which he declared the opposition protesters to be against Islam, which quite literally translates into a death sentence for anyone who continues to oppose the election and the regime. This is supposedly a huge development that could further ignite or suddenly deflate the reformer protestors.

I think one of the reasons so many Americans on the internet have tacitly or directly supported the opposition is because it's framed as a genuine fight for freedom and self-determination. What red blooded American wouldn't support a people's actions to throw off their oppressors when they've finally had enough brutality, corruption and lies from their dictatorship? It's been an awe-inspiring week watching it develop.

There are reports that the US planted the seeds of instability with our covert meddling in their internal affairs by funneling hundreds of millions of dollars into Iran the last couple of years through various US-sanctioned "democracy" organizations. Some people attribute this Iranian uprising exclusively to our alleged government involvement and consider the ongoing actions over there to be fake and not worthy of our supportive attention. Nonsense I say. For the uprising itself it matters not one bit who may or may not have planted the seeds for it. Of course from a constitutional perspective, our government has no right to use our tax money to spread democracy around the globe. But what is happening in Iran right now is both inspirational and historic: the Iranian people have taken actions into their own hands to determine the future of their country at very grave risk to their own lives and livelihoods.

Freedom is a powerful motivator, indeed. I write this in solidarity with the brave Iranian protesters.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Fried Green Tomatoes, Fried Squash, Fried Carrots

Anxious for my tomatoes to hurry up and ripen on the vine, I decided to pick a few of these firm plump green ones and fry them up for a snack.

After scouring the internet for some good fried green tomato recipes, I settled on a very simple flour dredge: 1/4 cup flour dumped onto an empty plate. Since I wasn't particularly in the mood for an extremely tart finished product, I mixed into the flour about 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. That's it. No salt, pepper, spices. Just flour with a smidge of sugar.

I also decided to make the most out of the prospect of making a mess in the kitchen and sliced up and parboiled some carrot stick quarters about 3" long, and cleaned up some squash and set them all aside to drain so I could experiment with all the various batter recipes I'd seen.

First I fried up six tomato slices about 1/4" thick in olive oil using the simple flour-sugar dredge, and let me tell you the sugar really does kill the tart aftertaste of fried green tomatoes. These were the best I've had in years.

For the remaining vegs, I used vegetable oil as it can get alot hotter without smoking. I wanted a really hot grease pan to keep the liquid batter from separating from the veggies so quickly.

I made up a tempura batter using buttermilk instead of water: 1 egg, 1/2 cup buttermilk, the rest of the flour from the tomato dredge and an additional 1/4 cup more, and two ice cubes to keep the batter cold.

I fried up half the carrots simply dipping them into this batter and dropping them into the oil one at a time. The batter did not stay on the carrots too well, but the carrots came out deliciously sweet and tender like I'd expected.

Next I fried up a handful of thinly sliced crookneck squash, by first sprinkling the slices with a dusting of corn starch then dipping them into the batter and dropping them into the hot oil. The corn starch, scant that it was, helped keep the batter on the veggie and also hardened into a tiny inner shell to give the veggies a crispier bite. This was pretty good, I can't say I've ever had crunchy fried squash before, but if that's what you're into, then definitely use a light corn starch dusting before you dip it into the batter.

For the next evolution, I mixed the corn starch residue into the batter, which was probably a little less than a teaspoon of corn starch. I fried up another handful of sliced squash by dipping them straight into this batter and into the oil one at a time. No pre-batter dredge of any kind. The batter stayed on the veggies much better this time, perhaps the corn starch helped stiffen it enough to stay on the flesh. These closely resembled the fried squash I grew up eating. Yum.

Next up, I sprinkled plain flour onto the squash before dipping into the batter. These came out very similar to the ones right before with just a tad thicker crust.

Finally I coated the remaining carrots with flour before dipping them into the batter and into the oil. OMG! THIS is the FRIED CARROT RECIPE of the CENTURY. The tomatoes and squash came out great, but of all the veggies you can fry, carrots are my absolute favorite. They always come out soft and so so sweet.

What a wonderful Sunday afternoon! By the time I was done, I'd eaten about half the outcome and was too full to even think about fixing supper.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Jesus Face on Peru Mountain

Stumbled across this image on google maps, which looks like a shadowy face carved into a sand dune in Peru, about 22km west of Arequipa:

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This same image appears on the aerial views at both Bing Maps and Mapquest (extreme zoom below):

After googling "Jesus Face in Peru," I managed to find two or three other references to this illusion, with no explanations for it:

    So. Does anyone have an explanation?