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said Saïd Amin (@said) on Pinned comment
I love this - thanks for sharing Marco! We also have a topic called +Self-Empowerment where future related posts could live. I found #5 ('More concern about all who are alive, not just a few') to be really interesting. I immediately thought of those who care about human rights, but selectively apply their level of care/love to just one cause, or group of people.

#7 was interesting as well -- I feel that I get the spirit behind it, but would love to hear you elaborate a bit on this one.
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said Saïd Amin (@said) on Pinned comment
I appreciate you taking the time to share Marco; thank you. At face value I think #7 would resonate more (for me) if the verbiage was slightly revised. I will give this more thought and if something clicks, will share it on this thread.

That said, I really feel where you are coming from with your explanation. I am admittedly on social media more than usual of late, largely consuming international news of various global events. This spike of information and its inherently taxing nature (war, death, oppression, hunger, human rights, etc.). has adversely affected my balance and energy.

We're so consumed with our phones these days that we lack presence (thus dimming our essence/light). By design I am beginning to create phone-free zones for myself. I'm just 2 days into it but already feel better and more present. Heck, it even created a space for me to walk across the street and introduce myself to a neighbor I frequently wave to but have never taken the time to meet. I finally shook his hand and we ended up chatting for a good 20 minutes. Gotta say, it was more rewarding than any article or status update I've read this past week.

(side note re: the delay in your comments being posted: so as to prevent spamming, we re reviewed manually)

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ashianeh ashianeh (@ashianeh) on Pinned comment
Well-said! No doubt about it. Thanks for sharing!
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MashGhasem MashGhasem (@MashGhasem) replied to Parsa (@Parsa) on Pinned comment
گفتا من آن ترنجم کاندر جهان نگنجم



گفتا تو از کجائی کاشفته می‌نمائی
گفتم منم غریبی از شهر آشنائی

گفتا سر چه داری کز سر خبر نداری
گفتم بر آستانت دارم سر گدائی

گفتا کدام مرغی کز این مقام خوانی
گفتم که خوش نوائی از باغ بینوائی

گفتا ز قید هستی رو مست شو که رستی
گفتم بمی پرستی جستم ز خود رهائی

گفتا جویی نیرزی گر زهد و توبه ورزی
گفتم که توبه کردم از زهد و پارسائی

گفتا بدلربائی ما را چگونه دیدی
گفتم چو خرمنی گل در بزم دلربائی

گفتا من آن ترنجم کاندر جهان نگنجم
گفتم به از ترنجی لیکن بدست نائی

گفتا چرا چو ذره با مهر عشق بازی
گفتم از آنکه هستم سرگشته‌ئی هوائی

گفتا بگو که خواجو در چشم ما چه بیند
گفتم حدیث مستان سری بود خدائی
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Parsa Parsa (@Parsa) on Pinned comment
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Parsa Parsa (@Parsa) replied to MashGhasem (@MashGhasem) on Pinned comment
An interesting entry in Wikipedia:

The word orange derives from the Sanskrit word for "orange tree" (नारङ्ग nāraṅga), which in turn derives from a Dravidian root word (from நரந்தம் narandam which refers to Bitter orange in Tamil).[24] The Sanskrit word reached European languages through Persian نارنگ (nārang) and its Arabic derivative نارنج (nāranj).

The word entered Late Middle English in the fourteenth century via Old French orenge (in the phrase pomme d'orenge).[25] The French word, in turn, comes from Old Provençal auranja, based on Arabic nāranj.[24] In several languages, the initial n present in earlier forms of the word dropped off because it may have been mistaken as part of an indefinite article ending in an n sound—in French, for example, une norenge may have been heard as une orenge. This linguistic change is called juncture loss. The color was named after the fruit,[26] and the first recorded use of orange as a color name in English was in 1512.[27][28]
A closeup of an orange blossom.

As Portuguese merchants were presumably the first to introduce the sweet orange to some regions of Europe, in several modern Indo-European languages the fruit has been named after them. Some examples are Albanian portokall, Bulgarian портокал (portokal), Greek πορτοκάλι (portokali), Macedonian portokal, Persian پرتقال (porteghal), Turkish portakal and Romanian portocală.[29][30] Related names can be found in other languages, such as Arabic البرتقال (bourtouqal), Georgian ფორთოხალი (pʰortʰoxali), Turkish portakal and Amharic birtukan.[29] Also, in some of the Italian regional languages (e.g. Neapolitan), an orange is portogallo or purtuallo, literally "(the) Portuguese (one)", in contrast to the Italian arancia.
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MashGhasem MashGhasem (@MashGhasem) replied to Parsa (@Parsa) on Pinned comment
Cesaria Evora - Angola





Sodade








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ChamoshChamoshvnd ChamoshChamoshvnd (@ChamoshChamoshvnd) on Pinned comment
After reading this piece I’m left with more questions than answers (which is definitely the sign of quality, provocative writing, that stimulates thought and an exchange of ideas).

The first question which comes to mind is this prognosis about the US economy doing well and most vital signs indicating such a positive performance. If we take our indicator as the GDP, or the Stock Market, Wall Street and the Fortune 500, such a rosy claim might be correct, but Wall Street and Stock Market have lost any connection to real people’s economic circumstances a long while ago. How does overvalued stocks in any sense would make a positive difference in the lives of ordinary people? As far as Main Street is concerned the real wages are still incapable of catching up with the Cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs). Wall Street is one world, Main Street quite another.

Recently there were reports on NPR about some families that were making about $100,000 a year and still had a hard time to make ends meet, and still struggling with some basic necessities. Even amongst the middle-class earners, there’s still a struggle with housing, insurance and other necessities. Below that stratum we have the working-class folks, depending on minimum wages and stuck in a never-ending game of catching up with COLAs. Beneath the hourly wage earners, there are the seasonal workers, who have turned into the New Nomads, with their cars as their homes, working for Amazon types of company and living in Walmart parking lots. The Informal sector and its workers are a whole different category, with workers who are more economically disadvantaged than all of the above. So, in real life it seems we have more than one economy, relating to different classes in the society; there’s the Wall St. economy, doing very well, then the Main St. not doing so good, and the Informal sector which often remains invisible and unaccounted for.

Another issue is this whole false notion of a laissez-faire, so called “self-regulating” market. If we recall the last great financial crisis of 2008, there was nothing ‘self-regulating’ about how the US government forcefully intervened to save the economy. The whole series of Quantitative Easing from QE1, to QE3 are some of the most vivid reminders that the invisible hand of the market has long been replaced by the visible hands of the Central Banks.

Since this comment is getting a bit too long, I’ll just mention how any democracy (from the original Athenian democracy of 200 years ago, up to now) has always been an arena of most intense social struggle and the result of each of these struggles are ultimately determined by the balance of forces. Again, there’s nothing ‘self-regulating’ about any of this and it all comes down to social balance of forces.

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varjavand varjavand (@varjavand) replied to ChamoshChamoshvnd (@ChamoshChamoshvnd) on Pinned comment
Remember financial crisis was the result of deceitful practices by greedy people who took advantage of the vulnerability of many investors. Regulatory forbearance was also partially responsible, Government did not do its job since it was too bust with so called War to Terrorism.
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ChamoshChamoshvnd ChamoshChamoshvnd (@ChamoshChamoshvnd) replied to varjavand (@varjavand) on Pinned comment
I know, it's hard to believe. I had the same initial reaction as you (and probably everyone who hears this story). The culprit for this family's financial ruin was a combination of credit card debt, hospital bills and cut work hours, which pushed them to declare bankruptcy.

What Living On $100,000 A Year Looks Like
www.npr.org/2017/12/03/567602293/what-living-on-100-000-a-year-looks-like

Per the issue of personal endowment of resources, obviously you have a valid point. But as you're probably also aware of, in the past decade or so this whole enterprise of Higher Education which has always been a path for higher social mobility, has turned into anything but, making this generation of Americans the first generation since 1920's to earn less and have lower social mobility than their parents (forcing many of them to return home, living with their parents). Also turning the aggregate students' loan in the US into something bordering or exceeding a trillion dollars, leaving many graduates to end up as middle managers in chain stores and such, barely making $40,000 to $50,000 a year, if they're REALLY lucky.
As you point out "complete equality is (not) a necessary condition to economic growth." But a drastic, prolonged lack of social mobility is a sure precondition for social unrest, and a source of renewed appeal for alternatives to Capitalism.
No wonder Bernie Sanders politics of Democratic Socialism has had such a deep and extensive appeal with the millenials. See below:

Why are there suddenly millions of socialists in America?
It used to be a dirty word. Bernie Sanders helped remove the stigma – but it’s the spectacular failure of capitalism that has really changed people’s minds

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/29/why-are-there-suddenly-millions-of-socialists-in-america
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varjavand varjavand (@varjavand) replied to ChamoshChamoshvnd (@ChamoshChamoshvnd) on Pinned comment
I don’t believe the report NPR is accurate, $100,000 is twice the national average. $100,000 is more than enough for a typical American family to achieve a decent level of living unless expectations are overly inflated which is a different story. Also, you may consider that fact that shortage/ deficiency or abundance are relative concepts. While $100,000 may be considered not a huge amount of money in the US, it is good enough to support a family in a poor country for two or three years.
Inequality is the automatic outcome of a free enterprise system in which income and wealth are distributed according to personal endowment of resources, do you expect a trained physician or certain hard working talented individuals earn the same as a high school drop out?
The distribution of income and wealth is very important for many reasons. However, there is no valid research indicating that complete equality is a necessary condition to economic growth .
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varjavand varjavand (@varjavand) replied to ChamoshChamoshvnd (@ChamoshChamoshvnd) on Pinned comment
We don’t judge the performance of an economy by looking at just one indicators. While as you pointed out duly, the stock market has lost its meaning and its connection to the main street, it is still important since many Americans are indirectly impacted by its performance. GDP is a different story, it is the most comprehensive measure of a country’s economic performance and as you know US is by far the leader when it comes to the value of its GDP, nearly $20 trillion, 22.5% of the world’s output with 4% of the world’s population. China is distance second with about $9 trillion and about 20% of the world’s population.
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ChamoshChamoshvnd ChamoshChamoshvnd (@ChamoshChamoshvnd) on Pinned comment
Besides civic & personal advantages of sigining up as a volunteer, there are also political dimensions & traditions associated with volunteers.
Volunteering has been essential & most significant even for some political movements; for instance the proud tradition of Irish Republicanism could not have existed without the volunteers. Perhaps Bobby Sands is the most famous Irish Republican volunteer. We have a street named after him in Tehran, right next to Brits embassy!
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varjavand varjavand (@varjavand) replied to ChamoshChamoshvnd (@ChamoshChamoshvnd) on Pinned comment
Thanks for your insightful observations, I am waiting to watch the State of the Union Address which starts in about 10 minutes. , and will respond to your concerns soon, possibly tomorrow morning
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varjavand varjavand (@varjavand) replied to ChamoshChamoshvnd (@ChamoshChamoshvnd) on Pinned comment
I like your comment especially your suggestion for an alternative title. I hope Reza reads and respond to your comment. I myself do not believe in any God no matter how well its existence is justified by believers and apologists. Dr. Aslan however, is a masterful writer. He can turn copper into gold using his wring skills. He writes about God and religion. I don’t think he is a real devout believer. He is however smart and knows where the money is. His previous book “Zealot” in which he almost discredited Jesus and challenged the faith of billions of Christian was a Best Seller.
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ChamoshChamoshvnd ChamoshChamoshvnd (@ChamoshChamoshvnd) replied to varjavand (@varjavand) on Pinned comment
Thank you Reza jan, you're too kind.
And Asaln is a good writer, very well aware of a niche market for 'spirituality' in today's USA and he's milking the heck out of it. More power to him, wish he makes as much money as possible. But revenue generation aside, as a writer there's an imperative to expose the readers to as many interpretations as possible. He never does that.
There used to be a sticker on the office door of an Iranian professor at Columbia university, it said: "Deconstruct Everything!"
Now, that's very good advice.
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ChamoshChamoshvnd ChamoshChamoshvnd (@ChamoshChamoshvnd) on Pinned comment
If the title of this book was “God, a deconstruction,” then it could have been some resources for help in our grappling with oppressive, backward role of religion in Iran (and world). Alas this whole ‘argument’ about humanizing or universalizing “god” is much akin to the ‘debate’ about how many angels would fit on tip of a needle.
A simple deconstruction of the notion of god would clearly demonstrate that god is a byproduct of our insecurities and ignorance. The evolving form of god from ancient times to now provides a sort of anthropological chronicle of this process.
150 years ago, many Iranian intellectuals and writers provided an unambiguous critique and rejection of religion and Islam, paving the path for our Constitutional Revolution while promoting and popularizing Secularism and progress. Compared with such a fecund history it’s definitely a sign of decay and degeneration when the entire query is reduced to how best to popularize superstition and backwardness, based on a myth that has been the biggest lie of human civilization
It could be accurately categorized as utterly Tone Deaf when one’s homeland has been destroyed and devastated by religion, but all a writer could come up with is whether to internalize or externalize a fraudulent fiction that has never existed.
It’s a bit reminiscent of these Iranian-Americans modernizing backwardness, in Los Angeles!

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ChamoshChamoshvnd ChamoshChamoshvnd (@ChamoshChamoshvnd) on Pinned comment
Parsa jan thanx for this, awesome as usual.
Your contribution brings into sharp relief an aspect seldom mentioned, not looked into, or if divulged, only in passing without a thorough consideration. What Ms. Agnes Boulten says about her husband is frank, brutal and practically never disclosed.
Marital acrimonies aside, madman or not, O'Neil's contributions to American theater remains unparalleled, according to Tony Kushner, of "Angels in America" fame.

The Genius of O’Neill
www.americantheatre.org/2015/02/02/the-genius-of-oneill/

The greatest contemporary American playwright, the late August Wilson not only headed the Eugene O'Neill Playwrights Conference for some years, many have observed parallels in their world.
The brilliant, maladjusted alcoholic still hovering us?

The clip below is from "Reds," where Nicholson portraying O'Neil'; drops some alcoholic truth, honesty and clairvoyance.

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MashGhasem MashGhasem (@MashGhasem) on Pinned comment
Parsa jan here's an article about a lady in Iran who started paintings in her 80's. Golestan Gallery in Tehran is currently having an exhibit of her works.

ناگهان ۸۴ سالگی» در گالری گلستان
www.radiozamaneh.com/344304


And here's another item about a village in Italy where many residents live over 100 years, happily and very well adjusted. All the scientific research into their lives point out to three simple factors contributing to this unprecedented longevity:
1- Great (Italian) food, of course.
2- Healthy natural environment; sea side,.. (air, water,...)
3- Good sex

In One Italian Village, Nearly 300 Residents Are Over 100 Years Old
www.npr.org/2016/03/30/472442367/in-one-italian-village-nearly-300-residents-are-over-100-years-old


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ashianeh ashianeh (@ashianeh) on Pinned comment
Thanks for posting another inspiring and uplifting piece. As we age, if we could only remember that freedom outweighs wrinkles of our face.
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