December 2nd, 2022 Books,Chapter,Chapter Summaries,February 2009,Iran,Serbia,USA
Iranian, American and Serbian families enjoyed the benefits of favoritism towards ones own family and friends in times of need. Nepotism continues to be the social glue that has helped us survive through the tough times. In the last depression in the 1930’s, it was not the goverment intervention that made the individual survive through economical crisis, but support from ones social community.
During the Iran-Iraq war, the family unit was where folks seeked shelter from the economic punishment sanctions of the West. In my family for example, it was important for my aunts and uncles to provide support, so that you can survive the government’s measly coupons at rations. The extra ration of sugar and rice that we received because two of my brothers had been abroad was helpful, and we could share with the less fortunate family next door.
Relationship built with your neighbor and family provides a sense of economic and mental security that no government can provide, while trying to defend the country from Iraq and its allies, the western governments. It was during these hard times that family, friends and neighbors are forced to share the very little that they have for mutual survival.
I always remember my cousin being sent down by my aunt, asking for things like butter or rice, and since he was five years younger then me, my brother and I would give him onions as a practical joke and tease him with his request for other items. Now that he is in his late 20’s he hates onions. You’re welcome cousin!
“Relationship built with your neighbor and family provides a sense of economic and mental security that no government can provide”
Other times when we could not purchase American cigarettes at the stores, it was through the neighbor or the cousin that we would find out who is selling cheap foreign cigarettes. We would get our information as to what the local grocers are offering. When the local grocer was out of butter, it was our neighbor that offered a helping hand so we could meet our sustenance. You would know by your neighbor’s son as to the location of the store, the length of time that it would take to wait in line, and the quantity that you would receive based on rations. You would then go to the store knowing that you can spend all day in line waiting to get that ration of rice or meat. In order to save time, we would look for a familiar face of a neighbor or friend that we would make chit chat with, and then be able to cut in line to avoid the long lines while being cursed by folks at the end of the line.
December 2nd, 2022 Books,Chapter,Chapter Summaries,February 2009,Iran,Serbia
Dating in Serbia is a bit of a challenge for a single guy. It is very similar to Iran in that sense that it has its own crazy methodology. War and religion has a tendency to group females as whores, or virtues born again virgins. Since no one can leave either country and get visas for abroad, then the only story in town becomes a tale for house wives as to who is sleeping with whom. In a closed society with out jobs, the gossip wheel is always turning! I have dated Iranian girls outside of the country, but never in my long visits to Iran was I able to figure out how the dating scene works because I was afraid of the morality police. I was chased out of an internet café because I was chatting with a girl.
Some idiot in uniform asked me about my relationship with her. I said I do not have one yet, and clearly it would be impossible since he was so rude to interrupt. The general sense that I got by talking to people about how the system of dating works is as follows: First, have accommodations. Second, have a car.
“Dating in Serbia is a bit of a challenge for a single guy”
Drive around the city around 6 to 10 PM at night by the parks etc. Have a few quick one liners to tell to the girls. Then exchange phone numbers and have a rendezvous at your apartment or house. Then the scarf comes off and you can drink wine, and unfortunately, in the case of many Iranian youth, take part in the black plague of Middle East, the opium or heroin that is imported fresh from Afghanistan, or smoke crack and similar garbage. This kind of behavior has created a generation of youth that are now addicted to the worst poison on earth that is available to the masses in much larger number then before the US engagement in Afghanistan.
December 2nd, 2022 Books,Chapter,Chapter Summaries,February 2009,Iran,Serbia,USA
Serbs, Americans and Iranians do not respect the World Court for various reasons. The Americans think that justice is only good if it is by their laws, and all other civilizations’ legal systems are corrupt and a failure. The Serbs and the Iranians do not respect the court since it cannot enforce justice on all; let it be the injustice in Tibet, or the abuse of war prisoners in Guantanamo.
The Hague and the World Court are setup to deal with the underlings that no longer serve the needs of their masters in the west or the east. Yet, these master criminals like Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney will never be subjected to the same justice that the folks that they empowered have faced. The World Court needs to be more than a judicial system that punishes genocide.
It must be strengthened and used to keep leaders accountable to the course of actions that they take in history, to ensure that it takes into account the will of the masses that they represent. It is not that the UN needs to change. It needs to be abolished and replaced by human values that it has lost. The UN needs to resemble the democratic values that the Great Persian King Cyrus established as its pillars.
Any future organization that replaces the UN needs to take into account the same democratic value that represents the bases of United States Congress. With a parliamentary system that effectively represents masses of population, the United States House of Representatives, and a senate, in which each country has a say regardless of its size. It charter needs to treat men of all nations equally in rights and in pursue of justice. Without such an organization, the only thing that is certain is more grid lock, more political regaling between the five permanent members, and the continued proliferation of conventional and non-conventional arms to rogue and undemocratic nations that each support in its sphere of influence. Such an organization needs a doctrine of human rights and equality that can be found in constitutions of most countries of the world, and unfortunately is practiced in only few nations.
We have created a global, trillion dollar arms race, that is in need of major conflict every decade
What we can agree on with my fellow Serbs and Americans in places like San Francisco, is that we have created a global, trillion dollar arms race, that is in need of major conflict every decade. This work power needs to be used for the better means of mankind. It must be subsidized, trained, and retooled on a global level to provide positive
impact to our global society. This global political gridlock and arms race needs the leadership of the global powers to lead the way in creating true democratic world organizations that respect human rights and the rule of international law for all world citizens, and not a class system based on what the Western European powers have created up to this point.
December 2nd, 2022 Books,Chapter,Chapter Summaries,February 2009,Serbia,USA
For some time I have been thinking of how to represent the small business owners for getting them the same opportunities as large corporate stores. What makes a small business stand out? How can they advertise and be seen when they have so many options and media to choose from? Thirty years ago you had a home town paper and the yellow pages. Hell, in the small town everyone knew each other and did not need yellow pages. As the population has grown, so have the various advertising media outlets, TVs, Cable TVs, Stateline, Internet, Search Engine Keywords, Flashy sites, and of course, the old yellow pages and the home town paper have lost the advantage. At the same time, none of these new outlets allow enough traffic on their own, to justify a small family – run business to pay and manage the cost associated with promoting themselves. Additional problem for such businesses is that if you buy enough search engine keywords, how do you know that they resulted in a transaction in your store? Or the smart yellow pages? How much business did you generate? Did the client come back? If so, when and how often? As a business owner, how do you reach back to him to thank him for his repeated visits or inform him of upcoming promotions? Direct mail is too expensive and no longer an option, since fewer trees have contributed to rise in price of mailers. Calling them is no longer allowed as a result of Do Not Call List in the US that has registered over a hundred million phone numbers. The Do Not Call List prevents solicitation via phone for businesses to consumers. As the world of Wall Marts and discount stores has increased, so has the small business owners suffered.
Now you see the problem I am trying to solve in Belgrade, the capital of non aligned nations, all ex-communist and now gone nationalist.
First, let’s define small business. We are talking about businesses that are less than ten million dollar in value. Majority of them are less than two million dollars in value. They usually have a long term lease or associated property, franchise rights, or are independently owned. They have less than twenty employees. These businesses are your favorite stores and clothing outlets that have managed to stay independent and survive. It may be a local restaurant or a pub. Some could be fortunate enough to at least be associated with a franchise. So, how can such a small business be heard above all the advertisement of the large corporate stores? How can this business be able to thank its local customers that have supported it to stay in business? How can small business be heard through various channels that are available to them? Now you see the problem I am trying to solve in Belgrade, the capital of non aligned nations, all ex-communist and now gone nationalist.
You see, I have been around a block in all sorts of extremism. For example, I was born under the Shaw Pahlavi, a dictator. Then, a transition to an Islamic Republic, a theocracy, and then I moved to the free markets and democracy for the teenage years. As soon as I took the oath of citizenship after being an illegal alien, I took full advantage of the rights given to me. (No, I did not buy a gun in America; you do not need to be a citizen to buy one.) I traveled as much as I could back to Iran, France, Germany, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Canada, Mexico, Brazil (illegally I have to admit), Argentina etc.Do you get the picture? So, I figured Belgrade should be scary enough place. It is the only place hated by the West for being the shit starter in World war I, World War II and the brake up of Yugoslavia, and now of course, the conflict in Kosovo. So, it is the place that westerners should avoid. Muslims too, since they hate us as well.
December 2nd, 2022 Books,Censorship,Chapter,Chapter Summaries,February 2009,Serbia
Since their emergence, Serbian media have been stained by the censorship, the worst nightmare of every journalist. According to free definition, censorship presents the attack on public thought, word and letter reshaping it to propaganda that honors single-mindedness. Manipulative Communism of Tito was built on persecution and incarceration of people that did not share his political views at the beginning of 70’s. It is believed that, at the time, Tito had imprisoned the brightest minds of Yugoslavia in one of the cruelest prisons ever built, Goli Otok. Still, the darkest period for freedom of media in territory of ex Yugoslavia is without a doubt ten years long dictatorship of Slobodan Milosevic. He had made a huge effort using both human and material resources to turn the National Television into an instrument for deliverance of false information and deception of public. In demonstrations on October the 5th 2000, Radio Television of Serbia, popular TV Bastion, was demolished and set on fire. Censorship in Serbia today is really impossible to compare with one in the time of communism or the Milosevic’s era, but it seems that this repressive measure still exists in Serbian society. The last flood of opposed opinions was caused by Serbian Agency for Radio Diffusion with Nenad Cekic on its front which two years ago has conducted an action of so called “cleansing of the situation on air” which left several thousands of journalist jobless. Agency for Radio Diffusion at the time has banned the work of one of the most popular TV stations “BK” through some really suspicious arguments. In the process of cutting off public media, eminent student radio station SKC was shut down, and it was the radio station that carried out a significant weight throughout the changes that occurred on October 5th 2000. There are some doubts that censorhip was imposed on February 17th 2008, when USA accepted the separation of Kosovo. American TV shows and movies automatically dissapppeared from program scheme of RTS and were replaced with Russian and Serbian TV shows and movies that were diged out of the dust and aired. Whereas the director of RTS claimed that there is no censorship on the National Television and that all of the TV shows and movies were canceled, not only the American ones, because of large number of imposed programs dedicated to Kosovo. When he was asked to comment on this unusual program change, director of RTS shortly explained that the “Russian/Serbian special” was given the advantage because episodes are short and they fit current program scheme.
Following examples are to show that his arguments are not factual. Episode of TV show Degrassi lasts for 35 minutes and its substitute, Serbian show “Stizu Dolari”, lasts for 55 minutes; CSI Miami lasts for 45 minutes on average, and imposed substitutes “Glava Secera” and “Gde cveta limun zut” last for 62 and 95 minutes…
The censorship that has been deeply rooted in our media space for generations is very difficult to eliminate. The impresion is that the young and unexperienced serbian democracy needs to create public opinion through its manipulatively directed news broadcasters and thus make some kind of balance with its opponents that have been using that same course of action for years. The opening of an independent student radio and TV station sponsored from the government budget, through which young jurnalists could gain experience for symbolic financial compensation, probably would not eliminate censorship, but would definitely brighten up our media discourse. Through political flux show broadcasts and sports and cultural programs, students would be able to send their voice in the air and thus acquire the necessary expirience that one day would help them to conscientiously and fairly inform the citizens. Colledges should have its official premises for practical classes, and all future journalists the opportunity to try and work in desired departments before finishing college. Studio and equipment is possible to loan from above mentioned BK television because no one is currently using it, and the same company is the owner of one private university in Serbia which deals with education of future film and tv directors, picture and sound editors, and producers which also need experience in the realization of tv and radio programs. Cheap and useful fusion, isn’t it? If you go from the idea that journalism is not simply about informing the public, but also to a considerable extent influence creation of a social conscience, than we need such an institution which would, in practice, present the traps and tricks used by various centers of power to achieve a particular interest.