Iran background reading includes The Shia Revival by Vali Nasr
Iran background reading
Remember when The Daily Show with Jon Stewart was the go-to for folks looking to keep up with current events? Thirteen years later, the dynamics have changed. While the sources expanded, the process of learning about interesting nonfiction has not.
I watched Stewart interview scholar Vali Nasr in 2006. Nasr appeared on the show as part of his book tour for The Shia Revival, his book about Shia Islam, Iran, and Iraq. It was fascinating! I learned a lot about Shia Islam, and even more about how Persians think.
Nasr’s stories of how Iranians think kept my interest. Since 1979, way too many Americans view Iran as some evil monolith. That’s changed over the years. The Iran-Iraq war killed so many on both sides. Watching in horror from the US wasn’t a spectator sport, it was a nightmare. Both countries reeled from that war for a decade. Still, there was no real need for Iran background reading.
I didn’t think much about Iran in the 80s-90s. That changed, post 9/11, when the focus on radical Islamists grew. In the early aughts, we heard and read more about Iraq, naturally. As we did, the differences between Sunni and Shia Islam entered our discourse. Nasr’s book offered excellent Iran background reading. The author opened a door into the monolith.
That bit of Iran background reading sparked ideas in my head. When I wrote a story about dragon eggs, the notion of an “ancient Persian trading concern” popped into the thought stream. I discovered that legends hidden cities in the desert extend to Iran. I learned, like on so many other subjects, monoliths are not black-and-white. There’s the government, there’s culture and religion, and there are the people who walk the tightrope through these.
Keep up with Vali Nasr
I plan to re-read The Shia Revival next week. Additionally, I followed Nasr on Twitter. So, while following him, I also added a couple of people recommended by Da Twittah who connect to him. Check him out. I’ll share some excerpts from the book in your new Zuckerd00d group, YatPundit’s Pub.
YatPundit’s Pub is now a Facebook Group
I’ve been “YatPundit” on the Internet since the 1990s. @YatPundit is my primary account on Da Twittah. When I joined the Book of Zucker, YatPundit became my political presence, as a “page” under my main account, which is my name. While this works for my writing, it didn’t work for interaction.
The original page concept wasn’t bad, but the d00ds went public and needed to provide a return to shareholders. That’s when they started extorting page owners. Post something on your page, and you got “notifications” suggesting you “boost” the post for a fee. Then came the notifications that sounded like a protection racket in New York. “That’s a nice page you got there. Pity nobody’s going to read your posts.” The d00ds limited the reach of page posts. Even if thousands of users “like” the page, it may only be visible to hundreds. Unless you “boost.”
Page owners pushed back. They asked their friends to set “get notifications” for the page. Page visibility increased. Still, it wasn’t a good situation.
The last US election cycle exposed Zuckerbook as a bad actor in the process. One of the steps taken by the d00ds to rehab the image was to shift focus from pages to groups. They clam to have tightened up pages, so Petrograd bot farms can’t just create them and spread misinformation. The effectiveness of this move remains to be seen.
To improve user interaction on the platform, “groups” now have a bigger role. The d00ds want users to stay on the platform as long as possible. With pages taking a back seat, groups offer users gathering places. Post visibility increased. Group owners set their own rules. While they’re not quite “safe” spaces, it’s an improvement.
YatPundit’s Pub – come on in
The Pub welcomes you! Be warned, the politics are left-leaning and the beer is strong. If you’re a Trump supporter, or you hate Mitch Landrieu, this probably isn’t a good place for you to be. Otherwise, speak up, lurk, do whatcha wanna.
YatCats start off the New Year at YatPundit
We lost Amber, are eighteen-year old familiar, over last summer. It was devastating to lose the most important member of the family! We go on, of course, and at the end of August, I convinced Mrs. YatPundit that it was time for a kitten. So, we went to the Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter to add to the family.
Amber was an outside cat. She eschewed her litter box and did her business outside. We regularly received presents of birds and mice. Remind me to tell y’all about the time she caught a bat and brought it home! As she got older, 15ish, though, Amber still wasn’t interested in the litter box, and needed to go out more often throughout the night. That disrupted our sleep patterns a bit. Mrs. YatPundit decided that, next cat would be an inside kitty. I agreed, with the condition that we would bring home two kittens. Amber had friends and foes in the neighborhood. I didn’t like the idea of an inside cat who didn’t have cat companionship. It wasn’t a hard sell.
Orange and Black
Mrs. YatPundit loves ginger kitties. Her cat growing up was an orange tabby. Then we got Brandy when we moved out to #themetrys. Brandy was with us for ten years. Pippin, her cairn terrier partner in crime, was with us another six years, then we got Amber. So long as one of the kittens was a ginger! So, off to the shelter we went to get YatCats.
The Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter is a no-kill shelter. We checked in and they took us to the “intake” room. That’s where they have the itty-bitty kittens. We looked at each orange tabby in there, but they were all males. Girl ginger kitty was one of the requirements. After striking out with the littles, the volunteer showing us around took us to the “older cat” room. It’s a room with chicken-wire walls and lots of shelves and things for Cats To Sleep On.
The kittens in this room were all 12-16 weeks. Some of the smaller ones huddled around us, but the volunteer had one in particular in mind. There was a ginger female sleeping on one of the shelves. She was the target.
Since we were planning to bring home two YatCats, I got to pick the second. I wanted a black kitten. You know all the stories about how black cats are the least adopted. So, to get to the ginger kitty, the volunteer had to pull a black kitten off of her. Both were asleep on the shelf, two peas in a pod. That made up my mind as to which black cat was coming home! I figured, if these two got along enough to sleep that closely, this was a pair. They’re not litter mates, so I call them “pound mates.” I picked up the black kitten, and it turned out she was a tux/socks cat rather than a midnight. No problem.
By the time I put down the tux, I turned to see wife with the ginger. It was all good! We did the paperwork, and they were scheduled to be fixed the following Monday morning. We picked them up that afternoon.
Nala cat is the ginger. I learned something new about cats. All-orange gingers are overwhelmingly male, but this little bit is a girl. Brandy and Amber were orange-and-white, and Amber actually had more white than orange. Nala is all-orange and a cutie. She’s a short-haired ball of floof. Nala looked like the runt of the littler when we picked her up. The backstory is she was dropped at the shelter with two siblings. They were fostered by volunteers and returned to the shelter at six-ish weeks. Nala’s put on a lot of weight since becoming one of the YatCats.
Arwen is the Evenstar. The paperwork listed her as “medium-hair.” There’s definitely more hair on her than Nala. Arwen is more a people-kitty than Nala. Arwen likes being in the same room with us, where Nala will go sit on the bed, or in a window sill by herself. Since I teach a lot from home now, Arwen comes into my office and hang out while I’m teaching. Her meow is like a bird-chirp. It’s cute. She will pace around my feet while I’m on WebEx, delivering a class. Then she’ll start chirping and I’ll have to pick her up. I wonder if the students can hear her purring?
Arwen is walking around the house with a fabric mouse in her mouth, and just settled under the Christmas tree. She’s chirping at it. Nala is napping at wife’s feet. Life is good.
#YatCats will be a weekly event here!
Check out Let’s Talk New Orleans!
Let’s Talk New Orleans Episode 1
Let’s Talk New Orleans Episode 1
The inaugural episode drops here on YatPundit. We’re setting up a site for the pod this weekend. In the meantime, have a listen here.
We talk German history and food in New Orleans. German-speaking folks have come to New Orleans since the 1720s and are a major influence on the city’s culture. From John Law’s expeditions to the Mississippi Gulf Coast and New Orleans, through the Colonial period, to the establishment of St. Mary’s Assumption Parish, the German influence remained strong. Listen to Ed and Jessie discuss this wonderful history.
Naturally, it was lunch at a German restaurant that got Jessie and Ed started on Germans in New Orleans. Bratz Y’all is a restaurant on Piety Street in the Bywater. Jessie’s been several times, and this was Ed’s first visit. The restaurant is next door to Pizza Delicious, a popular Bywater joint with a metro-wide following.
We started with a salted pretzel and the Bavarian Caraway Brie dip. So good!
Jessie ordered a special off the chalkboard, “The Big German” — a huge brat with sauerkraut.
Ed got the Hunter’s Schnitzel. Impressive! There will be a YatCuisine post on schnitzel now. This was incredibly good.
There was beer drunk as well. Overall, this was a wonderful lunch. We always try to have lunch once a month and catch up. Even when you’re back-and-forth on Da Twittah all the time,
Worth the trip
Bratz Y’all is very much worth the trip down to the Bywater. The ride there and back is a history lesson in itself!
Tell us what you think!
Please give us your feedback on the pod! Tweet at us, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org
A letter about wearing bras leads to #DearPrudence thoughts
The latest ep of Dear Prudence, Slate’s advice podcast and column, included a letter written by a woman asking advice about wearing bras. The letter and conversation between the host and his guest had me fascinated.
The “Dear Prudence” column goes back to the early days (if not the beginning) of Slate.com. I love it and always have. Prudence redefined advice columns. The column departed from traditional “Dear Abby” letters. They considered sex, serious relationship issues, and workplace thoughts. Over the years, several writers assumed the role of Prudence. Daniel Ortberg is the current incarnation of Prudence.
The column remains. It also morphed into a podcast, like so many things have. Danny brings a fascinating perspective to the conversation. His guests read letters and share their takes on the questions. Many are queer, another dimension that makes the pod so good.
So, Prudie and her guest this week, Tonya Mosley of KQED, read a letter about a woman who likes to take off her bra when she gets home. While that’s quite common, the problem comes in when company come over, after she’s lost the bra. Her husband wants her to put a bra back on. She doesn’t want to. The vibe from the letter indicates hubby thinks wife is inconsiderate to guests.
Prudie and Mosley roasted the husband. Danny (Prudie) is transitioning. He hated underwire bras. They both agreed that men who have never worn a bra don’t get this at all.
I have questions!
First, for y’all: would you put your bra back on?
Second: who has company over that would give shit? It’s evening. You escape reality in your home. Off comes the bra. If you knew guests were coming, would you have taken the bra off in the first place? This woman’s answer is, clearly, fuck yes.
What do you think?
It’s another Lit Thursday edition of YatPundit’s Pub 30-May-2019.
YatPundit’s Pub 30-May-2019
Two literary-themed brews on tap in YatPundit’s Pub 30-May-2019. First, we’ll talk about Memorial Day as a writing theme/prompt. Then we’ll review a novel, The Carousel Carver, by Perdita Buchan.
Memorial Day in New Orleans
While other parts of the country continue school well into June, Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the end of the K-12 school year in South Louisiana. There are two reasons for this. First, we start school early here. Up in New England, folks spend the “Indian Summer” days squeezing the last little bit of relaxation and daylight out of the summer season. They grudgingly go back to school after Labor Day. Many schools here used to start after Labor Day. They learned that kids fare better taking the hot days on the chin at the beginning of the year. By the end of May, they’re done. Done with a D. The other reason we end school in May is hurricanes. We build “storm days” into the schedule by starting in August. If things go badly, well, then we stretch into June. Otherwise, time gets built in.
So, by the end of May, families are ready for a vacation, even if it’s a quick run to the coast, to Florida, or to Disney. Let’s look at writing potential in that.
The Carousel Carver
A couple of months back, I received a message from a friend. He asked me if I’d read the galleys of a new novel from his friend’s publishing company. I said sure. The novel was The Carousel Carver, by Ms. Perdita Buchan. I figured, skim it, get a feel for it, say something nice. Well, that was the plan. I read the book and enjoyed it. While it’s not my regular reading fare, The Carousel Carver was a fun read. It’s a period piece, starting in Philly in 1912, following the main character to the Jersey Shore in the lead-up to World War II. I enjoyed it very much.
- Hardcover: 143 pages
- Publisher: Plexus Publishing, Inc. (May 14, 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1940091047
- ISBN-13: 978-1940091044
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
Grab a slice of pizza, it’s Tech Wednesday in YatPundit’s Pub 29-May-2019.
YatPundit’s Pub 29-May-2019
Two brews on tap today for geek night in YatPundit’s Pub 29-May-2019. First, we review personal continuity and backup. Then, we pour the first brew of a flight on Personal Virtualization.
Hurricane season starts Friday. We add our contribution to the media blitz with a discussion of backup. Backup strategy these days starts with a 128GB USB stick. From there, advance to a USB hard drive, 1-4TB in size. A thumb drive requires you to manually drag-and-drop files for backup. Many of the portable hard drives now include utilities for backup. Run the utility, copy your computer hard drive to the portable.
Portable hard drives start around $60 in price. Western Digital offers solid basic options. While that may be all you need, advanced possibilities include solid state drives.
Cloud backup offers scheduling and off-site protection. Services like Dropbox and Apple’s cloud service provide CDP – Continuous Data Protection. Install the cloud service’s utilities on your computer. When you save files to the designated folders, the utilities save it to the cloud simultaneously. Cloud storage also offers wider availability. While you can do what you need on your regular computer, files backed up to the cloud can be accessed from other systems. Use the utilities offered. Other computers maintain copies of your data.
Computer virtualization extends the availability possibilities. So, with your work computer as a virtual machine, it’s easy to get back up and running after a hardware failure.
Which strategy is right? Consider Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) requirements.
We begin a 4-part flight on computer virtualization. Before virtualizing, set your goals. So, what do you want to accomplish?
- Windows on a Mac
- Running Linux on a Windows PC (or vice versa)
- Keeping older versions of Windows on a new system
- Other needs
Examine your needs and consider your approach to virtualization. Other brews in this flight explore the resources required to virtualize, and the software options.
Baseball and Trains on YatPundit’s Pub 23-May-2019
Yatpundit’s Pub 23-May-2019
Our first brew in the pub for this episode is New Orleans Baseball. We interviewed S. Derby Gisclair for the history pod, talking baseball. That had me thinking of how baseball fits into a number of potential writing ideas. When I jotted down the starter notes for the segment, three things came to mind:
- Playground moms
- Amateur leagues
Now, “Playground moms” is just a jumping-off point. Imagine all the things you could do at a public playground. They’re not all “mom” related, Although, the notion of a SAHM in #themetrys being a spy and doing an intel hand-off at t-ball practice is kind of a neat idea. Amateur leagues are a thing as well, particularly if you’re considering a period piece or story. The Commercial League came up in my research and photographs for both the Maison Blanche and Krauss books. These days, amateur baseball focuses more around individuals than company teams. Either way, though, the social interaction has a lot of potential.
So, when I say “baseball”, I don’t want that to be limited to just men on the field. While women play organized softball more than hardball, those games and leagues are just as interesting as writing prompts. At the kid-tween-teen level, taking a girl to softball practice plays out similar to boys teams.
Fictional Railroads in New Orleans
You’ll find me coming back to this as I work out thoughts and designs of my Pontchartrain Railroad model layout at home. While the layout has basic roots in New Orleans history, it’s more of an “alternate history” universe. The idea is, what if railroads maintained their influence from the 1940s? What if both freight and passenger rail maintained their significance? So, it’s not “prototype” as in limited passenger service provided by Amtrak.
There’s also some variations to where railroad tracks are in New Orleans. Here are a couple of diagrams of Mid-City in 1944. The Bernadotte yard was real. The engine terminal and roundhouse were proposed for the location that is now the big Baptist church behind Greenwood Cemetery. What if that facility actually existed?
YatPundit’s Pub 21-May-2019
YatPundit’s Pub 21-May-2019
Ranting about Short Term Rentals and the French Market this week.
Programming note: Yesterday’s Red Beans and Rice Monday moves to YatCuisine next week! We’re tweaking the present pod lineup. I created a “YatCuisine” group on Facebook. The pod fits better that way.
Short Term Rentals
With respect to the “strict” short-term rental ordinance passed yesterday by the New Orleans City Council:
1. This was not a final-passage. The ordinance will come back before the Council in a couple of months.
2. in the interim, the forces supporting unlicensed hotels in the city will open their wallets and dilute the ordinance.
3. It’s likely that, by the time of final passage, the ordinance will no longer contain the “domicile” requirement, where you can only short-term-rent the house you claim a homestead exemption on (i.e., you can only AirBnB the house you live in).
How the City Council screws New Orleans
4. By the time the ordinance comes back for final passage, the Councilmembers figure you think they did the right thing back in May. The unlicensed hotels continue on as if the vote yesterday never happened.
5. Advocates for limiting short-term rentals to the renter’s domicile, banning unlicensed hotels must remain vigilant. Demand any changes and amendments proposed to yesterday’s ordinance in advance. Watch the Council’s calendar. Don’t be sandbagged on the day of final passage.
6. Do not trust the Councilmembers who you believe are on “your side” – they know how this works, voted how you wanted them to yesterday, with confidence you won’t be looking when they vote the other way in a couple of months.
7. Follow the money.
Think I’m overreacting? This is why you fail at fixing things in New Orleans. Enjoy your protests, podcasts, and blogs.
Mayor Cantrell considered some research on Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Her staff looked into re-purposing public facilities in other cities. Da Paper published a good article on the status of the city’s research. Unfortunately, the headline was click-baity.
YatPundit’s Pub 20-May-2019
YatPundit’s Pub 20-May-2019
Talking lunch today, along with a big format announcement. So, beginning next week, our “Red Beans and Rice Monday” pods move over to YatCuisine.com. This pod drops on YatPundit. It crossosts to YatCuisine. Next week, we reverse that. Therefore, YatCuisine becomes the permanent home.
We’re moving the food segments to bring them in line with the YatCuisine group on Facebook. When The Baton Rouge Advocate newspaper announced their purchase of the Times-Picayune/NOLA.com, I feared for the future of “Where NOLA Eats,” the big NOLA.com-sponsored food group. I created the YatCuisine group as a fall-back position. If Georges and his people nuke the NOLA.com group, So, YatCuisine offers continuity.
While we don’t expect the 50,000 members of Where NOLA Eats, we have 600+. So, the food pod moves, too!
Lunch at Caffe! Caffe!
This incredibly popular place opened in 1992, on the corner of Clearview Parkway and W. Esplanade Avenue in Metairie. A few years back, the very-successful coffee house and lunch place opened a second location on N. Hullen Street, off Causeway Blvd., near Lakeside Mall. As a lunch place, I like the vibe of the N. Hullen location. While Metairie isn’t the CBD, office workers heading to a local place to grab a quick bite is similar.
We went to N. Hullen location on a Saturday. The vibe changes on a weekend. Instead of workers from nearby businesses, the crowd includes friends catching up, couples getting out (us!), and families.
Mrs. YatPundit had the Grilled Chicken Caesar Pita. It’s not a unique sandwich, but everything is fresh and tasty.
I got the Chipotle Chicken Wrap and a cup of Seafood Soup. Caffe! Caffe! makes a spicy chipotle sauce. The wrap works. The soup was yummy.
While my lunch last week at Brown Butter Southern Kitchen and Bar wasn’t a three-hour affair at an old line restaurant, the pace was slower. Instead of a quick sandwich, we had the Black Eyed Pea Hummus (the place is indeed Southern). One of my friends had a salad, and the other had the “Seoul Bowl,” a Korean-influenced bowl of rice, kimchi, and your choice of beef, chicken, shrimp, or Brussels sprouts. I got the “Seoul Burger,” Brown Butter’s excellent burger, topped with Kimchi and Korean BBQ sauce.
Two lunch winners!