Sunday, August 31, 2008

weekend roundup

Haven't had much time for reading or blogging, as I've been trying to put as much of my free time as possible into studying for the GRE. This weekend I've been getting caught up with some recent posts on, one of my favorite blogs on language. Here are a couple good ones.

Peter K Austin's top 10 endangered languages (The Guardian, via LH)

Here's Anggarrgoon's take on the same subject.

Ha Eli - on a particularly elusive particle in Armenian (Eudæmonist, via LH). I noted over at LH that the Armenian էլի (eli) bears striking resemblance in use to the Persian دیگر (digar), most especially in its colloquial form دیگه (digeh).

Barriers That Are Steep and Linguistic - decent piece on linguistic diversity in the Caucasus (NY Times, again via LH). Though it's a decently-informed article, there is one loathsomely ignorant, racist remark quoted in the article that really gets me. This dynamic continued after the breakup of the Soviet Union, and she recalled her horror at hearing Dzhokhar Dudayev, the Chechen leader, cite work from her institute in support of Chechen independence, during the build up to a bloody war with Russia. “At those moments, you feel like the inventor of the atom bomb,” Dr. Dybo said. The racism dripping from that quote is just disgusting. I wonder if Dybo would feel like "the inventor of the atom bomb" if her institute's work was used to justify the Civil Rights movement in the United States, or the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. God forbid those uppity negroes Chechens should demand basic human rights!

And lastly, here's a fascinating piece posted in Far Outliers. Armenian Merchant Information Networks, 1600s-1800s - containing a juicy excerpt from “The Salt in a Merchant’s Letter”: The Culture of Julfan Correspondence in the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean. If an article on 200-400 year old Armenian trade routes doesn't interest you, then get off my blog. Your life is meaningless.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Chronicling the Story of Greater Palestine's rappers - on the film 'Slingshot Hip Hop,' about Palestinian hip hop (The Daily Star)
(via hawgblawg)

Oil discovery transformed Iran (BBC)

Also, I recently got a couple of books; as you can see I'm still on a fiction/poetry kick. After reading non-fiction almost exclusively for the past few years (university will do that to you), it's been really refreshing to get lost in a story or take in a good poem. Here are my most recent acquisitions:
  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  • Seven Valleys of Love: a Bilingual Anthology of Woman Poets from Middle Ages Persia to Present Day Iran (translated by Sheema Kalbasi)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

lakes drying up

I didn't have a lot of free time, so today I read about some lakes drying up.

Central Africa's Lake Chad is disappearing (

Extinction of another Iranian pond (Payvand/ISNA)

This weekend I want to finish up "Jazz" by Toni Morrison and maybe begin another novel. I have my eye on Naguib Mahfouz's "Palace Walk," Albert Memmi's "The Pillar of Salt," or the Iraqi novel I bought the other day, "The Last of the Angels" by Fadhil al-Azzawi. Meanwhile, on the non-fiction front, I'm currently making my way through "Muqtada." When I'm finished, I might give Islam a rest for a minute and pick up one of the books on my shelf about Hinduism or Zoroastrianism. This summer I've been reading everything I can about religion, especially Islamic history and politics; "No god but God" by Reza Aslan and "The Shia Revival" by Vali Nasr have been my favorites so far.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

recent acquisitions

P.S. I've been hitting the bookstores pretty hard, and here's what I've acquired in the past week, from Barnes & Noble, the Saddleback College library bookstore, and Laguna Niguel Friends of the Library.
  • Elementary Azerbaijani by Kurtulus Öztopçu
  • Muqtada: Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia Revival, and the Struggle for Iraq by Patrick Cockburn (just started reading this)
  • A Sense of Siege: the Geopolitics of Islam and the West by Graham E. Fuller & Ian O. Lesser
  • The Last of the Angels: a Modern Iraqi Novel by Fadhil al-Azzawi
  • The Nationalities Question in the Soviet Union - ed. Graham Smith
  • The Former Soviet States: Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan (kids' library book with big, bright pictures; I am stoked on this!)

the latest

How imperial rivalries stoked war in Georgia - South Ossetia caught between competing empires: US (via Georgia/NATO) and Russia (Socialist Worker)

Huge Stakes behind War in Caucasus - Another socialist take on the war, less critical of Russia (Monthly Review)

Anti-Muslim racism leveled at Sami Al-Arian - Islamophobia in the trial of US vs. Dr. Sami Al-Arian (Socialist Worker)

The Chameleon: The many lives of Frédéric Bourdin - Insane, gripping article about a professional imposter (The New Yorker)

Props to Fu and Hoda (earlier) for hooking me up some good reads. If you have an article, book, or something else you think I'd like to read, leave a comment and I'll check it out. In the future I'll maybe start posting links to the many blogs that I read and the books I've been reading, but right now I think I'm gonna take a nap and think about dinner.

Monday, August 11, 2008

more articles

Georgian exit leaves vacuum near Iranian border - news piece about Georgian troops pulling out of Iraq to redeploy to Georgia (AP)

It looks as though it’s back to the bad old days for Arab Americans - on anti-Arab/Islamophobic sentiment and the Obama campaign (The National)

Also, check out the a-Rab magazine.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

stuff i read today

China's All-Seeing Eye - about Chinese 'authoritarian capitalism' (Naomi Klein in Rolling Stone)

The League of Revolutionary Black Workers, Arab Americans and Palestine Solidarity - fantastic article about Black and Arab solidarity in Detroit (Palestine Solidarity Review)

OCPC (Orange County Persian Community) magazine - embarrassingly terrible free "Persian-American Lifestyle Magazine," but check out the interview starting on page 26, it's not bad.