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January 15, 2004

When Will You Be Cleared?
Hazhir Rahmandad  [info|posts]
Contributing Guest Author: Maziar Tavakoli

wait.gif For hundreds of thousands of foreign students pursuing their higher education in the United States who plan to visit their home during holidays, as well as a huge number of prospective students planning to come to the U.S., obtaining a student visa to enter the U.S. is a critical task. Following the post 9/11 security measures, this task has become harder and more unpredictable for a wide number of applicants from certain countries*. In fact some consequences of these problems can already be felt as international students are increasingly choosing other destinations rather than U.S. I think this is a lose-lose situation (See the Nature's focus on this issue), where international students are losing opportunities to develop their potentials and U.S. does not benefit from their economic and scientific contributions. Ironically in the long run U.S. may also lose one of its most important levers for fighting terrorism by encouraging democratization and modernization in countries like Iran: the liberal education and rational leadership in these countries which is highly dependent on graduates of western universities.

However, this article is not about international politics, it just provides some information for students like us who should regulate their lives with international politics! There is a grave need among prospective visa applicants to know what uncertainties they should expect so that they can make informed decisions on risks they take. This article reports on the initial results of an ongoing survey to shed light on the clearance check waiting times for Iranian students applying for visa.

For Iranians and several other nationalities, the U.S. visa application process includes an initial interview (in case of Iranians conducted in a third country, as there is no U.S. consulate in Iran) and a background checking (clearance). Based on the interview conducted in person in a U.S. consulate, an applicant will be informed if s/he is conditionally accepted to be granted a visa or not. If she passes this initial phase, the U.S. consulate will file a request for background checking for that individual through federal agencies responsible for this part. Upon completion of the background checking, and if there is nothing problematic in her file, the individual will be informed (usually through some website or by calling some number) that her visa is ready for pick up and she has a two month window to go to the initial consulate to receive the visa.

There are two critical points in this process: First, if one will be accepted in the interview and second, how long she needs to wait to receive her visa. The chances for acceptance in the interview for new students vary significantly by time, nationality, and political atmosphere and may be affected by gender, subject of study, and several unknown (to us) factors.

However, for students currently studying in the U.S. the chance of acceptance in the interview is relatively good. For this group the main challenge is the uncertainty in the time they should wait outside of the U.S. before their visa gets ready. Many of you know friends or have heard of stories of students who traveled to visit home, get married, or see a dying family member for the last time, and had to wait several months or even a year for their clearance before they could come back to the U.S. and continue their studies. As a result most Iranian students in the U.S. have given up on their emotional needs and remained inside the country for the last two years to avoid becoming the subject of such stories.

The main challenge for this group is not only the long average length of the background checking, but also the significant variability in the waiting times which defeats any plans they can make to deal with the waiting time challenge. The problem is exacerbated by the federal agencies involved (e.g. state department) not being responsive to inquiries on specific cases and not giving any reliable information on what one should expect when they apply for a visa.


In order to reduce the uncertainty surrounding the background checking process, we decided to collect whatever data we could find through personal networks and get a more reliable picture about the average waiting time and the variability across different cases. Moreover, we aim at inferring any informative patterns that can emerge out of this data about the effect of different factors (e.g. gender, field of study, place of application) on the waiting time that an individual should expect. In response to our request for data, so far we have received reliable information on 42 cases of successful visa application from new (20 people) and current (22 people) Iranian students in the past year. We hope the following summary of results is useful for those who want to make an informed decision on leaving the U.S. or applying for the first time, and encourages those of you who have more information to supply us with more cases so that we can reanalyze the data soon and come up with more reliable results.

Four conclusions can be made based on the current data. First, the average waiting time for clearance is still fairly long. For our sample in average people needed to wait about 2.7 month before their visa was ready, which is still very long for most graduate students. Second, the new students have significantly shorter waiting times than current students. This is troubling news for current students who are more sensitive about waiting time because of their ongoing research and commitments in the U.S. Third, there is good evidence in the data that suggests women have shorter waiting times than men. In fact, new female students wait as short as 0.9 month in average, compared to about 2 month weighting time of new male students and 3.2 month waiting time of current female students**. The worst waiting time goes to men like us who should expect an average of 3.7 month for their clearance period. Finally, the variability in the data in waiting time is very high, ranging from a few days to over a year. A standard deviation of 2.4 month for the whole sample witnesses this fact and suggests that there is little planning one can do to cope with the waiting times***. The following graph shows the number of applicants in our sample who where waiting for different numbers of month.

At this stage we don’t have enough data to tell if applying in different consulates (e.g. Dubai, Ankara, Istanbul, Cyprus) makes any difference on waiting time and what is the effect of field of studies, if any. Moreover, one should refrain from reading too much into these numbers because of the small sample size and possibility of bias in responses. Nevertheless, there is a good chance that we can give more specific answers if we include more data points in our analysis. Therefore, we want to make a plea to audience of this forum to supply us with following information about anybody they know who has applied for the U.S. student visa in the last year (older data is not so informative about current trends) and forward a link to this article to others who may have such data. Please try to tell us about ANY case you come up with, rather than the bad/good cases. This is especially important in order to reduce the sampling bias of this survey.

1- Name
2- University- Program/Field of study
3- When they applied for visa
4- How long it took for clearance to get ready (in case they were denied, also let us know)
5- First timers (new students) or current students
6- Where they applied for visa

Please send this information to Maziar Tavakoli-Dastjerdi ( with the subject line “Request for visa information”. Meanwhile, be confident that all the data that can be used to recognize an individual is to avoid duplicate counts of one person and will remain confidential with the authors. But if you still don't feel comfortable with sharing the name, feel free to only include the initials.

* No need to mention that Iran almost always falls in any list of “certain countries”.
** This number might be too high, considering a single case with over a year waiting time falling in this category.
*** Removing the one very long waiting case, the standard deviation changed for different categories from 0.6 (new girl applicants) to 2 (current boys). In general, one should be prepared for a waiting time of “Average+Standard Deviation”, e.g. 3.7+2=5.7 for currently studding male students, as there is a good chance such scenario happens to him/her.

Maziar Tavakoli-Dastjerdi is currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences of Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Hasan at January 16, 2004 01:13 PM [permalink]:

Thanks a lot for bringing up the issue. I don't know if the dependent cases will help you or not.

Ordak D. Coward at January 16, 2004 01:21 PM [permalink]:

Questions and Cmments:
1. Why do you need to collect the "name" for your data?
2. In case of new students, you better ask for their previous degrees too. (Field/Degree/Institution/Year of Graduation)
3. Please swap the X and Y axis of the chart, the chart does not look right this way.

hazhir at January 16, 2004 01:36 PM [permalink]:

Thanks Ordak for the feedback. The name is solely asked to avoid multiple counts of same person in our data. As we experienced in the first data gathering effort, we receive data on same case from more than one source and sometimes the other items (data of application, university etc) are not precise enough or not mentioned and that prohibits us from knowing if we are double counting a person, unless we have a name. The graph is a typical histogram, where frequencies are on the Y axis.

yahya at January 16, 2004 02:36 PM [permalink]:

This is a great article. It is important to document these delays.

Amir Hossein at January 16, 2004 02:57 PM [permalink]:

I think I've had the longet clearance time, I waited 17 months for that.
If anybody has a longer one, please let me know.

Vahid at January 16, 2004 04:33 PM [permalink]:

When students in Canada apply for a visitor visa to US, conference, pleasure, ... , It is the same process: interview and clearance. Clearance waiting statistics is similar to student applicants, maybe the average is a bit shorter. If you are interested in these kind of data, let me know.
It is also interesting to point out the expences. To just reserve a interview appointment, you have to pay Can$10. And the non-refundable visa fee is US$ 100. This is more than two times canada visa application fee, and more than three times EU visa fee! While you ususally do not pay to book and appointment, just simply show up at the corresponding Consulate.

Richard Bean at January 16, 2004 08:25 PM [permalink]:

Nice matlab chart ;) It's an interesting statistical project. It will take much work on the pollster's part to remove sampling bias - a person who is at a "distance of one" from this blog (the number) will be different from the general Iranian student in the US, since they are more likely to be studying in something like a "restricted area". of consciousness/rambling mode on...

When I talked to Sharif mathematics students about why they wanted to go to the US as opposed to Australia or Canada, the reason given was usually: "Because it's traditional to study there". When I asked them why they applied to Canada instead of Australia, they said things like... because there are lots of Iranians in Canada already, and it's next to the US, (where I want to go next), and Australia is too far away!

It all sounds pretty funny to me. I think the scientific level of all of these countries is pretty similar. Some people I met were obviously afraid to be pioneers, and why people would repeatedly apply to a country which seems to want to keep them out (as in the Nature article) is difficult to comprehend from a distance. They are demonstrating a masochist tendency. They should apply to a country that wants them!

I compare the situation to asking a girl out and being rejected. It's hard to be objective about it when you're in the situation, but sometimes the best thing for everyone involved is "one and done" - try once and never again.

It might be interesting to compare this Iranian tradition of studying in the US with the tradition of consanguineous marriages in some parts of Iran. Or discuss the fears of bucking tradition in the Iranian context in general... But I'll watch the discussion first. (The more venerable a tradition is, the more people are insulted when it is questioned.)

Faezeh at January 17, 2004 01:40 AM [permalink]:

Dear Richard
Do you really believe "I think the scientific level of all of these countries is pretty similar"?!
Many sharif students especially those studying in electrical and computer engineering and a bunch of students in other majors only consider the top 10 to 20 universities for graduate studies and these universities mostly happen to be in the north america especially in the US. Even being in the US or canada makes a big difference in terms of number of academic seminars one can attend or possibilities of transfering to better universities or changing the major.

Applying for studying in north america to me is not a tradition as you realized. It is just maximaizing one's chance with considering many factors. e.g one important fact is that if there is no iranian(and especially sharif) student in a university, your chances of getting admission(not to mention financial aid) is almost zero. this fact applies to some US universities too.

Wessie at January 17, 2004 06:30 AM [permalink]:

"I think the scientific level of all of these countries is pretty similar."

Really!? You think the scientific levels of the US, Canada and Australia are "pretty similar." I don't think that facts will support your assertion, Richard.

I always wonder why people from the Islamic world want to come to the US when they have so much disdain for our "decadent" ways. Why don't you study in the Arab world? (I know Iran is not Arab!) After all, once you go back your degree is often not applicable because the Islamic/Arab world does little investment in technology and science. And—the chances of staying in the West are slimmer now.

So, why not study in your part of the world and be employable?


Hassan at January 17, 2004 10:14 AM [permalink]:

Nice job Hazhir and Maziar! I suppose you should add to your sample records significantly. Why not try some clubs in Yahoo, for instance, that our friends discuss their experiences. Post a message there and I think you would receive hundreds of successful or unsuccessful records. I do also think you should add the unsuccesful experiences, either on the initial interview ot on the clearace check, to your study.

Richard! I do not agree. Have a look at a study the Austrailian Higher Education published in 7-2002. You will realize that in almost every factor they considered, Australian schools are standing in half score of their Canadian counterparts and the canadians as well, scored half of the US schools. The study considers all majors from a research quality point of view and can be downloaded at 2002mtg3/717anucitemay02.pdf

AmericanWoman at January 17, 2004 11:21 PM [permalink]:

You know, I am still thinking about the Fathers and Sons post. Even though it was shut down for getting derailed, the issue is unresolved, and it speaks to so many of us. What to take, what to leave behind? How much Westernization is progress, how much is betrayal. Once you overcome the enormous obstacles to come, make peace with the decision to stay, get used to being the Stranger in a Strange Land, --even in your own house, there is still the question of living with children who are foreigners. They have little or no tie to Iran, the life the culture there. I was born in the USA, but am second (and third) generation. The losses my grandparents and parent sustained will never be redressed by me or my siblings or cousins. They came for a better life, but we are the ones who enjoy the material gains, the personal freedom. We don't even feel the loss of the spiritual and community life they sacrificed, because we only see it in the movies. Almost everyone I work or associate with is at some point in this continuum. A fellow student from Africa's Ivory Coast once asked me, "What is the answer?" I'm still waiting for the answer to form. I mean, every human being has an obligation, or an instinct, or a drive to be alive, and furthermore to be as alive as possible, to fire all the synapses, to use it all. On the other hand, duty, honor, country/family. Is it possible to move back and forth? Can the kinetic flow of energy in and out set the stage for positive change? Even if you abandon Iran, is it still possible to be a mentor in absentia, to give hope to those left behind?

Ali M. at January 18, 2004 02:32 AM [permalink]:

Wessie: "I always wonder why people from the Islamic world want to come to the US when they have so much disdain for our "decadent" ways. Why don't you study in the Arab world?"

Fair 'nuff!

If life (and science?!) in the US isn't all that attractive, then how come people here are breaking their necks to get American visas? Come to think of it, there are too many migrant doctors and engineers who have got into jobs like dish-washing and grave-digging... and still they never forget to lord it over their compatriots whenever they visit their native countries.

I’m not a prospective or actual migrant so I have no axes to grind, but I find it funny the way these guys keep harping on about "mistreatment" and "racism" at the hands of the US authorities. In fact the only problem with these people is that they are just a bit too comfortable: maybe it’s time the US government began giving these freeloaders a little kick up the backside. If they feel too ill-served by the US immigration authorities, then all they want is an opportunity to spend a few years in their own beloved countries, where people’s rights come a remote 99th on the governments’ list of priorities.

Those annoyed at the lengthy process of “security clearance” should be focussing their annoyance at the terrorists governments and organisations which their countries produce in such abundance.

Well, anyone with a pair of eyes can see that at the end of the day, these individuals are nothing but ECONOMIC REFUGEES (students, professionals, academics, or whatever they call themselves). Maybe the American system has been too lenient towards these fine people: A whole generation of 3rd-world citizens has grown up thinking it’s their God-given right to take advantage of America’s openness and hospitality.

Small wonder, though: let a pig into the dining room and it will put its trotters on the table! And all this at a time when they should just count their blessings and be thankful that they are allowed to stay in the US. (Had it been the other way round, you can guarantee that not a single American “student” would be allowed to enter these countries).

Does it take Einstein to realise that the US, just like any other country, has a perfect right to refuse entry to ANYONE whose presence is deemed a security threat?

Come on, gentlemen, it’s not carved in the stone that anyone applying for a US visa should be granted one after six, twelve or seventeen months. If you honestly believe that, then you are a few nuts above the recommended fruit/loaf quotient and I am wasting my time trying to sway you….

Ali M at January 18, 2004 02:36 AM [permalink]:

Correct: "terrorist governments"

Wessie at January 18, 2004 10:07 AM [permalink]:

[Comment deleted for violating the rule 2 of the comment policy ]

"How much Westernization is progress, how much is betrayal."

I think this is a question people must ask themselves. The plight of the immigrant is that s/he will never really have a home again. But, that does not mean they cannot assimilate in their new home.

Muslims are all too willing to take from the West and not give anything, but disdain, in return. They use all the "decadent" Western discoveries and developments from technology to medical advances and yet, they deride us at every turn.

No one is forcing Muslims to "betray" their cultures. They can opt to not buy into modernity. However, it is not fair to blame us when Muslim purchase and use that which the West provides. Live in the 7th century or the middle ages; we really don't care!

Ali–I couldn't agree more. What is so very annoying is the constant whining and complaining by Middle Easterners here that they can't (translation: won't) do anything about the situation back home, but they disdain the West anyway.

There are plenty of well educated, potential immigrants from non-Islamic nations who would love to come to the West. We don't need Muslims to come here and try to impose their 7th century misanthropy on us by using our freedoms against us.

"And all this at a time when they should just count their blessings and be thankful that they are allowed to stay in the US. (Had it been the other way round, you can guarantee that not a single American “student” would be allowed to enter these countries)."

Exactly! The "Arab street" would have erupted with "Death to the West" and people would have been impaled on lamp posts had the West attacked an Islamic nation in the name of Christian jihad.

Like I've always said. Be grateful we are willing to take you at all. Get over the superiority complex and don't believe this "best of peoples" BS in the Qur'an. Because you can't prove it by what you have accomplished for the last thousand years, which is—nothing! But jihad of course.



Wessie at January 18, 2004 11:44 AM [permalink]:

My Childhood-Home I See Again

My childhood's home I see again,
And sadden with the view;
And still, as memory crowds my brain,
There's pleasure in it too.

O Memory! thou midway world
'Twixt earth and paradise,
Where things decayed and loved ones lost
In dreamy shadows rise,

And, freed from all that's earthly vile,
Seem hallowed, pure, and bright,
Like scenes in some enchanted isle
All bathed in liquid light.

As dusky mountains please the eye
When twilight chases day;
As bugle-tones that, passing by,
In distance die away;

As leaving some grand waterfall,
We, lingering, list its roar—
So memory will hallow all
We've known, but know no more.

Near twenty years have passed away
Since here I bid farewell
To woods and fields, and scenes of play,
And playmates loved so well.

Where many were, but few remain
Of old familiar things;
But seeing them, to mind again
The lost and absent brings.

The friends I left that parting day,
How changed, as time has sped!
Young childhood grown, strong manhood gray,
And half of all are dead.

I hear the loved survivors tell
How nought from death could save,
Till every sound appears a knell,
And every spot a grave.

I range the fields with pensive tread,
And pace the hollow rooms,
And feel (companion of the dead)
I'm living in the tombs.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

yahya at January 18, 2004 05:14 PM [permalink]:

Visa delays are keeping many of students from visiting their families for an extended amount of time. Students who are applying to the US should really consider other opportunities.

Dear Ali M:
the correct word to use is "economic immigrants" not "economic refugees". the students coming to America often becoming very successful bussinesspeople and not only don't they inflict any burden on the US but also they create new economic opportunities for Americans. This is a win-win situation. Those students benefit immensely from American educational system and liberty and Americans benefit from the contribution of those students to the economy. Just consider that more than forty percent of engineering faculty in the US are foreign born.

A.V. at January 18, 2004 06:58 PM [permalink]:

I think having some statistics about the chance of getting visa of the TAL's(Technolgy Alert List's) students can be a good adea. As you know there is a list of fields the students of which have a a liitle chance to get U.S visa.

Wessie at January 19, 2004 09:19 AM [permalink]:

Moved to WessLog!

SABA at January 19, 2004 01:03 PM [permalink]:

dear mr.khodjaste,
It is really ridiculous and shameful for FTOI having become a plaything for such an ignorant person and you all are hesitating to tell him/her shut his/her mouth up.

Cassandra at January 19, 2004 01:28 PM [permalink]:

Moved to WessLog!

observer at January 19, 2004 01:46 PM [permalink]:

Saba, at times I shared the same sentiment, yet there might be some benefit in seeing how people like Wessie think. Drawing upon Yahya, as students in liberal educational atmospheres, we rarely see the hardliners in the U.S./Canada, who may indeed help us better understand the biases common to normal people in different societies. Many of us coming from Iran have experienced the bitter taste of ideologically inspired intolerant bigots, yet this is a rare opportunity to safely observe a mindset as rigid as religious extremists in a well educated American lady.
I wish we had a better insight into how such intolerance and hate against people you don’t know can evolve despite all the education, interaction with different cultures, etc. Yet, I think we can learn from Wessie’s like, specially as this is a safe environment where she has no power to execute us “assuming” that we are Muslim (After all she is so open to facts that even if we say we are not a religious fundamentalist, or even not a Muslim, she won’t believe us, assuming we are using “Taghiye”!). So, just follow her comments, learn from her arguments (which are at times well made) and the facts she based them on, and the parallels you find with how a brain washed basiji used to argue with you, and threaten you. As in the latter case, don’t argue back, as no argument or data is gone convince her to question her mental model, but contrary to the latter case, don’t be frightened as she has no power over you. Just enjoy the show!

Jim at January 19, 2004 03:28 PM [permalink]:

“Ironically in the long run U.S. may also lose one of its most important levers for fighting terrorism by encouraging democratization and modernization in countries like Iran”

I’d like to ask you Mr.Rahmandad that why you think that our educating ME students specially the Iranian ones would help democratizing their country! After all I guess yourself or one of your friends said in your other article that most of you guys want to get a green card and stay in the US!

yahya at January 19, 2004 03:51 PM [permalink]:

Jim, your question is a fair question.
Most of the students who come to America come here for personal reasons not geopolitical goals (such as democratizing their country).

One of the main reasons that the Middle East has fell behind in democratization is oil-centric economy. Students who stay in America provide an opportunity to break away with this curse. These students totally out of self-interest can invest back in their countries and take advantage of cheaper labor. by doing this, they can create a new oil-independent economy. This is what happened in China or India.

America allow chinese students to come to America even when Vietnam war was going on and China was the main supporter of the communist Vietnamese.
Most of those students stayed in America but they invested back home and brought business opportunities to other Chinese. Now Chinese/American relation is far different from what it was in 1970s, partly because of the flow ideas and resources through those chinese who came here and went back and forth between the US and China.

There are many more reasons to justify the fact that accepting students foreign students from countries that have an unfriendly governments can be helpful in a long run.

observer at January 19, 2004 04:14 PM [permalink]:

Good question Jim. I think it is worth another posting, here is my quick overview.
As you mentioned "most" Iranians who come to US are "currently" deciding to stay here. However, not ALL of them are staying, and more importantly, their decision on returning to Iran is also a function of the social, economic, and political atmosphere in Iran and may change in future. This said, here are some of the mechanisms how some of these individuals may help democratization in Iran:
- As university professors/ visiting scholars: in fact the foundation of current higher education which accommodates about 1.5 million university students, is on old graduates of European and American schools.
- As entrepreneurs: several modern institutions as well as industries have been set up in Iran by graduates of foreign universities. Even if they don't go back, many have their personal contacts with entrepreneur friends and inject ideas from what they observe in the U.S.
- As politicians: IF there is any hope for rationalization of political system in Iran, the human resources to support and push forward such agenda need to be trained. Graduates of western schools are usually the best choices, not only because of their expertise and familiarity with different systems of governance, but also for their higher perceived legitimacy by public in Iran.
- As communication bridges: Even if they don't go back, families of students who are here feel close ties to the country their son/daughter is residing at. They will get to know more about these countries to the extent that they often overcome the biased pictures painted of west by fundamentalists.

There are probably other channels, but I stop not to make people bored with my comment :)

Jim at January 19, 2004 04:16 PM [permalink]:

Mr. Yahya

I was student myself during the early 70s and the number of Chinese (or to be more precise the Taiwanese) students in the US was nothing comparable to what you see today!
The Chinese who had landed in the US are not the main investor today in China! It’s the foreign investors who are taking advantage of the cheap labor. I don’t think this situation is a win-win situation, currently a big part of our deficit is being financed by the Chinese and this is very bad in the long run, every day more jobs are being lost here in the US. You guys seem to be more worried about your own interests rather than your country’s interests or the American interests.

yahya at January 19, 2004 05:40 PM [permalink]:

Jim, I looked up the stat on Chinese students. You are right that there weren't many Chinese in early 70's. Apparently, Chinese students started coming to the US in large numbers after 1978.

Also, I agree that Chineses who came to the US are not the biggest investors in China, but without them, so much investment in China would have been impossible. Only local people who know the place can open a new market . It is pretty much obvious fact that an Iranian-American businessperson has a much higher chance of getting around the problems of investing in Iran than an American who doesn't know the language. This is not just about business, it is about media too. Right now, AFP and Rueter have Iranian-born-foreign-citizen reporters in Iran.

I share your concern on balancing the deficit with the flow of foreign investment. In fact, if I had more knowledge on economy, I would have written an article on it here. However, I think that is a separate discussion from student visa delays.

On the last statement that we are more worried about our self-interests, I have to say that the very fact that we are discussing so many things regarding Iran in this site proves that we are not just thinking about self-interests.

Wessie at January 20, 2004 12:28 AM [permalink]:

Moved to WessLog!

Wessie :-D at January 20, 2004 03:40 AM [permalink]:

Moved to WessLog!

H. Nissenbaum at January 20, 2004 11:45 AM [permalink]:

Let me tell you what bothers me the most! The fact that even when you are naturalized as the US citizens we are not sure of your loyalties! If there is a conflict of interest between the country of your origin and the US, which side will have your allegiance?
This question did not bother us before 9/11 but now things have changed. I am extremely surprised that you have such a hard time to grasp our concerns.
Are you or the other ME students and immigrants here just to have a share of our fortune or you are one hundred percent committed to the US? I don’t believe in double loyalties!
Yahya, you are saying that you could be useful to bridge the gap between us and your people, I am not so sure about it!
Just look at how the Iraqis in the US misled us in the Iraq affair! I am not saying that our government has not made mistakes. I think those Iraqis (such as Chalabi and his fellows at the INC) are just the old practitioners of never speaking the truth to the powerful ones and now it seems that they have zero credibility among their own people and we are back to deal with the ayatollah again!
A lot of you complain that you came here because you were denied the very basic human rights, such as the freedom of expression but it seems to me that you have actually brought the practice of censorship with yourselves to this country!
I read somewhere that in China; they were putting their dissidents in psychiatric hospitals. I think what you are doing here is similar to that, by sending the comments that you don’t approve into another corner! I visited that section! It sounded as if a group of lunatics were talking to themselves!
Now, I really appreciate the kind of freedom of expression that we have been enjoying here! That no matter what you say (right or wrong!), you are not treated like a lunatic!
And let me tell you what my worst fears are! That if we allow you to come here, you or your children and their children would take our freedom from us and if we wanted to complain we would be locked up in some corner.

hazhir at January 20, 2004 11:49 AM [permalink]:

Check out the following NYTimes article on visa clearance times: LINK
We are not alone in the hassles of Visa clearance time.

Tamir Ben Chayas at January 20, 2004 11:55 AM [permalink]:

Hey Nissenbaum:

Have you heard of Johnathan Pollard (is he Jewish by the way?) who spied for Israel and is still in jail, or that FBI guy who was caught a few years ago spying for Russia.

Or the Rosenbergs (were the Jewish by the way?)who gave the Nuclear Bomb information to the Soviets.

And what about the loyalties of Timothy McVeigh and armed libertarians?

What loyalty are you talking about man?

There are many born Americans who are spying for foreigners at this very moment or plotting against the state and are either Jewish and/or Christians!

What a world, isn't it?!!!

yahya at January 20, 2004 12:08 PM [permalink]:

H. Nissenbaum, the question of double loyalities is not new in any respect. Accusing people for having double loyalities have targeted mainly Jews before. The have been accused for centuries that they had double loyalities. Now the same mentality is targeting Muslims who are new immigrants.

I strongly believe this world needs more people who can bridge the gaps and help the exchange of ideas among different nations. This world is so inter-connected that needs updating concepts such as nations. There many organizations and people who have break away with they limitations of borders and are thinking for the whole humanity.

H. Nissenbaum at January 20, 2004 01:32 PM [permalink]:

Tamir Ben Chayas,

Yes! Jonathan Pollard was Jewish if that matters to you and he is in jail as you rightly said. The Rosenbergs were executed even though they had two very young kids, the same thing happened to McVeigh!
I don’t believe that there should be a different set of rules for the Jews or the White Americans. The problem is that you guys think that we should pamper you all the time even when you see that when it comes to loyalty and security we are tough with our own people too.

Yahya, Please put forward some practical ways of bridging the gaps, our current problems won’t go away with nice words!

Tamir Ben Chayas at January 20, 2004 02:23 PM [permalink]:


Why are you getting upset?

You said even when these people become naturalized their loyalty is doubtful!

This a truly racist statement my friend!

I just reminded you that Jews, Muslims, and Christians, not to mention the Japanese, Germans, and Anglo-Saxon Americans are equally suspicious on that account and that your generalization is false!!!

Please watch your language, your family name sounds Jewish, like that of mine, and I really don't appreciate to see we succumb into such overgeneralizations! As a Jewish person, whether you are one or not,you should be reminded of what caused the Holocaust! STEREOTYPING GONE RAMPANT! OVERGENERALIZATION ON RACIAL COUNTS!

What a World!

Babak S at January 20, 2004 04:32 PM [permalink]:

H. Nissenbaum: Your concern abour loyalties is a real one. It should be, and I think it is, taken into account in granting citizenships to foreign nationals. However, the human rights basis of immigration and citizenship laws as well as their constructive consequences are also very important, so this concern should not block the way to naturalization altogether, but there should be a cautious balance. Examples from history depict many instances of bravery and patriotic acts by naturalized immigrants, say Japanese Americans (or Canadians) during WWII. So, the other side of this concern is not without support.

About that corner: the point is "it sounded as if a group of lunatics were talking to themselves" before there was such a corner. That is why there is a corner now, not vice versa. Otherwise, most probably we could not have a discussion of the sort people have now in this comment section. Take a look at other comment sections that were rendered totally dysfunctional due to those incessant rantings, for example.

H. Nissenbaum at January 20, 2004 04:42 PM [permalink]:

Tamir Ben Chayas,
It seems that you have turned to using threats and bullying tactics!
As your pointing to my last name, my father is Jewish and my mother is a Catholic. I told you this even though you were not entitled to this information!
I simply put a question to you, “If there is a conflict of interest between the country of your origin and the US, which side will have your allegiance?” This is a question that anyone in his right mind would ask himself, so why are you getting upset?!
I’m glad that we are just talking over the internet and the worst thing that you could do is to remove my comments or just put them somewhere that you could no longer see them!

Señor Græd at January 20, 2004 05:32 PM [permalink]:

I was led here by a couple of new comments coming up in the main page and I haven't really followed the thread, or seen the threat, so I apologize for jumping in here "barefooted" (as Iranians say), but just having read the few last comments I would like to say:

I agree that the "concern about loyalties is a real one", but I also think it is exactly because of this very concern that the (legal) route to naturalization is not a smooth one. I suppose it must have become an even bumpier one after 9-11.

Señor Græd at January 20, 2004 05:38 PM [permalink]:

By the way, if anyone wants to see some "lunatics", you need not search no more! Visit . God bless the freedom of expression.

H.N at January 20, 2004 06:07 PM [permalink]:

Yes Señor Græd! In this country even people like LaRouche can write freely and run for presidency! It is left to the voters to decide on who would be representing them!

Señor Græd at January 20, 2004 07:08 PM [permalink]:

God Bless America!

Señor Græd at January 20, 2004 08:06 PM [permalink]:

OK, I browsed through the comments, some of which moved to a "corner". (I am going to protest why FToI editors moved Wessie to that corner, but unlike H.N. I am going to protest why she was given special treatment! Just kidding, folks. I think "cornering" Wessie was in fact a smart move and a good solution. WessLog is also quite an imaginative name. RANT-NAMEH would also be a good option! ;-) ) Nah, I didn't exactly read ALL the comments, but here are some thoughts:

I have a feeling that America does belong to immigrants as much as it belongs to Americans! After all, most Americans are the ones who were born to immigrant parents, grandparents, or great grandparents. I also think being born in America is hardly a good criteria for being loyal to the America and the idea that this country if founded on.

Once you agree with me on the above premise, all the talk about whether Iranians, Mexicans, Middle Easterners, or anybody else for that matter, should be given a chance to adopt America as their chosen home disappears into thin air!

Remember America is an idea. An idea that, among other things, should make it impossible that anybody can take it --this holy land-- away from us, or deprive us of its glory and its fruits, based on our race, creed, origin, gender or sexual orientation. We have the right to be part of the American project. Is this too hard to understand, Wessie?

Alan at January 20, 2004 09:06 PM [permalink]:

Is it fair to direct comments to Wessie when she is banned from responding? You could always visit her in exile for that.

New Egyptian Song: US Did It! at January 21, 2004 03:14 AM [permalink]:

Moved to WessLog: Entry

Racism vs. Bigotry—the difference/ at January 21, 2004 03:46 AM [permalink]:

Moved to WessLog: Entry.

al-Taqiyya: Dissimulation vs. Truth at January 21, 2004 04:25 AM [permalink]:

Moved to WessLog: Entry.

Señor Græd at January 21, 2004 09:25 AM [permalink]:

Alan asked: "Is it fair to direct comments to Wessie when she is banned from responding?"

No, Alan. It's not! I was just being mean to her. :-)

Revenge of the "best of peoples." at January 21, 2004 12:49 PM [permalink]:

' "Is it fair to direct comments to Wessie when she is banned from responding?" '

Senior: "No, Alan. It's not! I was just being mean to her. :-)"

In classic Animal House fashion being "mean" to people. LOL Soon the "Senior" will have to got to the real world where being "mean" can get you fired or the CEO slot. ;-)

Heres is a bit of American decadence you should know about: Animal House

Enjoy! :-D


Señor Græd at January 21, 2004 01:28 PM [permalink]:

Thanks a lot for the movie tip, Wessie. I really appreciate it. Sounds like a watch-able, even a funny movie. I'll check it out as soon as I get the chance. Comedy is what I can't get enough of.

I'm sorry your endless blabberings landed you (I mean your comments, of course) in the so-called WessLog. Here's an idea for you. I suggest you to think about it seriously. There is this guy who writes under the pseudonym Ibn Warraq. He has so far taken pains to write and edit a few books aiming at proving to everybody that the Muslim religion is flawed, that Koran is filled with contradictions, and stuff of that sort, you know.

The two of you will make a great team, trust me! You have similar interests and your collaboration will lead to publication of still more books on Islam. The *practical* outcome of such attempts, however, will remain at a close-to-zero level.

What you (and Ibn Warraq) fail to realize, is that people do not believe in a faith based on whether it is logically consistent, or if it is conducive to democracy or not. Religion and why people *believe* is quite a complex phenomenon, be it Christianity or Islam or anything else.

Remember, as someone once put it so nicely: "Human beings are incurably religious."

Mohammed and Acromegaly at January 21, 2004 02:14 PM [permalink]:

Moved to Wesslog: Entry.

Señor Græd at January 21, 2004 02:50 PM [permalink]:

Unfortunately for you, Wessie, I am not going to fall in your trap this time. (Have I already, by the virtue of writing this comment?) As you have shown us, there are numerous sources (websites, writers, etc.) fighting the religions they hate, trying to, sometimes even claiming to prove that those religions are not authentic (whatever that may mean), not revealed from Heaven, and full of inconsistency. This is nothing new. Some people seem to be particularly attracted to and obsessed by such discussions. (In fact, I happen to know some such freaks in person and their incurability goes far beyond humans' regular incurability to submit to faith.) The outcome, let me repeat, the PRACTICAL outcome of such discussions, however, remains minimal. Ask yourself: "Why is that the case?" And try to find an honest answer to that.

Life behind the wall/ at January 21, 2004 04:55 PM [permalink]:

"The outcome, let me repeat, the PRACTICAL outcome of such discussions, however, remains minimal. Ask yourself: "Why is that the case?" And try to find an honest answer to that."

Well, Senior, you are just plain wrong. Because we live in a global village today. Islam can no longer hide behind the ulema. Too many people are reading about it—in particular Muslims—and coming away rather shocked at the realities. News travels fast via modern technology.

It is just a matter of time. The more atrocities the more nails in the coffin of Islam—all at light speed. :-)

"Trap"? LOL You really have to get over this persecution complex, Senior.

"I'm sorry your endless blabberings landed you (I mean your comments, of course) in the so-called WessLog."

Life behind the wall:

Actually, I rather like it in my corner isolation booth. This illuminating experience has given me a new appreciation of the concept of purdah and why women in your part of the world would "choose" the veil.

If Western men were as unjust, narcissistic, selfish, adolescent, sex-obsessed, undisciplined and unaccomplished as Middle Eastern/Muslim men— our women, one would venture to guess, would take to the protection of the shroud as well—not to mention opting for the company of women behind the walls.

Good thing that we have trained our men to at least behave like young adults with an occasional relapse into adolescence during football season. ;-)


Grand Vizier at January 21, 2004 05:00 PM [permalink]:

That, Wessie, was indeed funny!

Señor Græd at January 21, 2004 06:27 PM [permalink]:

I agree. The "why ME women choose the veil" (all the way till the end of the comment) was indeed hilarious. You make me think you'll be good at doing stand-up comedy. :-)

As for what Islam is, your mistake originated from the fact (I presume it is a fact, but right me if I'm wrong) that you have never lived among the Muslims. I'm not saying what you bring out of the scripture and hadith is *not* Islam, but it's not *all* of it. Your (self-)education of Islam is limited to a hundred books that you have read in your library after the 9/11 events.

Islam, as a culture-making social force, my dear Wessie, is a lot more than you can find in the written text. Islam is not (just) the meaning of Koran verses that "has been kept hidden" in seminaries. Islam is also in the moving voice of the Qari who recites Koran with the music that I'm sure you haven't ever heard, or if you have, you have never felt the same feeling of a girl raised in a Muslim land.

When you strip Islam, or any religion for that matter, of all the context around it, and stick to the literal meaning of their written texts, you will end up with something which is altogether different from what Muslims know as Islam, how they feel about it...

Saeed S at January 21, 2004 07:10 PM [permalink]:

Dear Wessie,

I invite you to read this not as something that should be answered but as something than might give you another angle (as your comments give us another angle!) I have read some of your comments and I am sorry for you and your dogmatism. Actually I have read ALL the Quran several times and ironically I have a completely different view than you do. My motivation for writing this comment is indeed to clarify some points to readers of this website. I absolutely have no intention of answering your comments.

Your approach towards Quran is like looking by a microscope to a painting. You can imagine what you see yourself! You come back after that and try to explain to the "world" that the painting , say Clock Explosion by Salvador Dali , is absolute garbage. Yes indeed if you see "Clock Explosion” by a microscope it would look like garbage.

There are many passages in Quran like "there is no compulsion in religion" or "if they denied you (Muhammad) remember that you are only a messenger" which teaches the lesson of tolerance and honestly I have encountered with those tolerant passages more than the passages of killing infidels. Secondly the passages of killing infidels were during the Muslim wars and what I understand from those passages is to have no mercy when it comes to WAR and for your attention most of the wars during Muhammad was imposed on him.

Thirdly in the culture of Quran infidels doesn't imply to the believers of Christianity or Judaism or any religion who believes in one God and Quran has much more stories about Moses and praising him than it has about Muhammad.

At the end, when it comes to current situation of Muslims, a good and academic analysis would definitely consider the complex factor of History. If you want the most recent one you can refer to the US coup in 1953 US Coup in Iran and its effects of radicalizing Iranian movements and to shed some more light on the growth of Islamic fundamentalism.

There wasn't suicide bombing 100 years ago, was it? Suicide bombing has been the frustrated (and unjust) answer of a frustrated nation and in my opinion Israeli policies are as responsible as the lack of vision in Palestinian society. Yes indeed believing to a life after death (like in heaven!) makes this option ( suicide bombing) more possible but that is not the REASON that is just a perturbation to the ugly Hamiltonian of (religious) racism in the region!

In my view Sep. 11 is also a very complicated REFRLECTION of history. It is indeed unjust and barbaric. You can call that 3rd Newton’s law as unjust if you want: if you pull something ( with the best intentions in the world) you’ll feel the reaction to it. You can name it unjust but naming it barbaric or unjust doesn’t stop that to happen! I think people should start investing Laws of history. Otherwise they‘ll be surprised as if they don’t know Newton’s 3rd law and start pulling! Let’s see if we see the (surprise) reaction to your new adventure in the Middle East in our lifetime!

Ordak D. Coward at January 21, 2004 07:40 PM [permalink]:

FToI editors, please leave the following irrelavant comment under the related Senor Grad's comment.

Well, Senor Grad, to continue on what Islam is here is more:
Islam is the odor of unwashed feet scented with rose-water when you are forced to go to mosque for praying. Islam is when while praying your fellows are making fun of the prayers as they were forced to do it. Islam is when while forced to go to Friday prayers you will see a disabled veteran of war forcefully taken away becasue he is angry and shouting against the Imam. Islam is when you see people claiming Islam to pull rank on you. Islam is when the same Qari's voice does not leave you at peace at times you need it most. Islam is when you are forced to claim Islam, otherwise you will be misreated at minimum. Islam is when buying food from a Muslim street vendor in NYC you will be asked about your religion and will see the shock when he hears you do not believe in god. Islam is when you do not expect much help from fellow human beings if they are muslims and you are an antheist. Islam is when the same Musilms expect you on their side just because you are from a muslim country. Islam is when Iraqi soldiers are asked to take Iranian women as their prize as it is legitimized under Islam. Islam is when you see their 10 year olds ask people not to have a piece of a birthday cake as it was made by the kid's christian Mom, and considered Najis.

And finally, Islam is when people are taught to only think inside one of the many frames built under Islam.

Señor Græd at January 21, 2004 07:58 PM [permalink]:


First, Saeed.

I find Saeed's stand overly sympathetic, which comes as no surprise really given his previous comments. I do like his Salvador Dali painting metaphor, but I do not agree with it being a fitting metaphor. (Metaphors can be easily abused, mind you.) A painting is indeed a text, but one that lends itself to a far wider spectrum of interpretations than a witten text.

Now, Ordak, who put a smile on my face.

Yes, indeed "Islam" is all you said it is too. (I call it the post-revolutionary Iranian take of Islam!) What part of this complex prism you choose (or you are taught) to look through is what can makes all the difference. Since there is no avoiding the believers' unshakable faith no matter how much logic you use, I think you can amplify the peaceful aspects and underplay the less than desirable aspects of a faith, or, as Wessie has shown us, do the other way around.

I personally try to respect people's beliefs as irrational as they may sound to me...

Señor Græd at January 21, 2004 08:07 PM [permalink]:

Quick follow-up:

For a sample of a sympathetic, but scholarly and fair-minded account of Islam from a non-Muslim's point of view, and to see how it is possible to use the langauge in so many different ways, see:

yahya at January 21, 2004 08:52 PM [permalink]:

I suggest the editors of this site exile Senor Grad to Wesslog for a few days to make sure he gives up his habit of giving links to things that he comes across using Google and has no other information about their reliability or correctness.

This Wesslog can become a great rehabilitation center for commenters who lose control.

Richard Bean at January 22, 2004 06:27 AM [permalink]:

Quoting the story above from hazhir.

Indeed, the enrollment of students from China in Australian colleges grew by 25 percent and students from India by 31 percent last fall, compared with a year ago. In England, the number of Chinese students grew by 36 percent and Indian students by 16 percent.

It seems some Chinese students don't think that the US is necessarily the best place to study anymore. And with Iranian conservatives copying the Chinese political system's development maybe we'll see the same pattern with Iranian students! :-)

Hassan quotes a citation report with results from ISI. There will be North American bias in these results (see the article by Daneshgar in the latest Iranian Mathematical Society magazine), and it is the traditional way that Australian academics appeal for more government support - by comparison with other countries.

But supposing Hassan is right, given Australia's very high UN human development indicator I would think that its lower scientific level would be just due to its distance from the centre of gravity of world science, perhaps exacerbated by bad government policy and things like more expensive computers, which is in turn caused by a lower population.

When I listened for reasons Iranian students chose the US, tradition was the main reason given, rather than a cogent argument about citation reports... Faezeh's post was interesting, giving her personal reasons, but I wonder how Iranians ever got into American universities if their chance of admission was "almost zero" at the beginning?!

If US policies keep exasperating the brilliant Iranian and Chinese students who want to study there the US may lose its status...

Señor Græd at January 22, 2004 12:55 PM [permalink]:

Oh, no, please, I beg ya, don't ever put me and Wessie in one room. :-o

P.S. Is Wessie young and pretty? Hmmm.

Freemason at January 22, 2004 01:33 PM [permalink]:

Who are you Yahya? Are you the one who pulls the strings behind the scenes?! ;)
So it seems that you kind of agree that you treat your dissidents like psychiatric patients!
That dude was right that you are a bunch of dangerous people! You know,you could perhaps start something like the freemason lodges and try to rule the world! ;)
Oh, but there is a problem! You don’t seem to be that smart since you revealed your role already!!!! :(

Wessie & the Senior Grad at January 22, 2004 01:42 PM [permalink]:

Señor Græd at January 22, 2004 12:55 PM:

"Oh, no, please, I beg ya, don't ever put me and Wessie in one room. :-o

"P.S. Is Wessie young and pretty? Hmmm."

Spoken like a true, salivating, sex-obsessed, Middle Eastern male. ;-)

NO! Wessie is old, old, old and —ugly too. But, she is smart and would beat the stuffing out of the Senior in a debate or a confrontation—bashing him with her cane and sicking her attack dog on the Senior. ;-)

Given the way most screaming, Middle Eastern males look during demonstrations on TV,—toothless, scrawny and totally mad— Wessie would not be interested in the likes of the Senior. She prefers handsome, in-shape, intelligent, accomplished, rational men. Not googlers. ;-)


Señor Græd at January 22, 2004 01:48 PM [permalink]:

Quick reponse to Richard Bean, before they close this column:

I should like to thank you for the links, Sir. I shall look at them more closely as soon as I get the chance. I do like Satrapi's narration of her childhood, both content-wise and form-wise. She's quite amazing, indeed. However, as for the issue of anonymity, there are more reasons for wanting to remain anonymous than I would like to expose here. One is, in an open forum such as FToI (and I believe it *is* an open forum, with due respect to Ara and Babak S), what matters most are the words, i.e., the vehicles that carry the ideas, not the *persons* who utter them. Also, given the Iranian communal culture, the Iranian situation, the Iranian condition, or whatever you want to name it, being anonymous helps us be free (Free Thoughts, it's called) from self-censorship. And I value that a lot.

Señor Græd at January 22, 2004 01:53 PM [permalink]:

I meant no offence, Wessie. I just thought your being pretty and young could make tolerating your company a little bit easier. ;-)

P.S. So you're into metrosexuals? Good for you. But you've got to see that hilarious recent episode of South Park. Got cable?

Self Censorship on FT at January 22, 2004 02:16 PM [permalink]:

As to self censorship, Senior. When will you be exercising that and stop posting irrelevant material? Better watch it you will be exiled to Wesslog with me—where I shall beat the pants off you in any debate! ;-)

"Señor Græd at January 22, 2004 01:53 PM:

"I meant no offence, Wessie. I just thought your being pretty and young could make tolerating your company a little bit easier. ;-)

"P.S. So you're into metrosexuals? Good for you. But you've got to see that hilarious recent episode of South Park. Got cable?

I meant no "offense" either, Senior. If you didn't look like the typical Middle Easterner, scrawny, toothless with mad eyes and dirty fingernails and sandals, that could help tolerating your company a bit easier, too. ;-)

I have no idea what "metrosexuals" are. I don't have cable and I don't watch much TV. Sometimes months go by before I turn on the tube.

That is the trouble with you folks, watching too many American movies and not understanding the difference between reality and Hollywood.

"Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy" as the Iraqi said. LOL


Señor Græd at January 22, 2004 03:30 PM [permalink]:

Behold y'all that this is my last counter-comment to Wessie in the public room. From now on, I'll wait her comments to be transferred to WessLog and then I put my comments there, and that only if I feel like it.

So, Wessie, you've sunk so low to be happy just to correct my typoes, huh? (By the way, "offence" is a variant of "offense" according to , thank you very much.)

When typical Americans hear "Middle East", they think "Isreal & Palestine", or if they're highly educated like our own Wessie, they think "Arabs". Highly educated, to be sure, but out of touch with the reality around them: Not watching TV, not reading the paper, locked up in a dim-lit library, with a slow access to internet, and even refusing to use Google, because they're so sure of themselves and what they think the Truth is!

Peace out!

Arash Jalali at January 22, 2004 03:46 PM [permalink]:

I really hate this posting get derailed like so many other comments that had the same problem lately. Therefore, I would like to post some relevant comments to this posting, which I hope would spark some relevant and useful threads of discussion.

Here are just some ideas on other statistics you might want to include in your research, Hazhir. Some of them might of course not be of immediate interest to those Iranian students who might be planning to pursue their education abroad:

1- The percentage of those students currently studying abroad with the U.S. as their initial choice but who eventually went to go to study in a country other than the United States.

2- The percentage of those students studying in the U.S. who would choose some other country than the U.S. if they were to do it all over again.

3- The percentage of those students studying in a non-U.S. country who never chose to apply to a U.S. university.

4- The percentage of those Ph.D. students or recent Ph.D. holders who would not choose to enter graduate school again, had they the chance to go back and start all over again.

I think your research could be much more valuable if it incorporates factors that would give prospective students a realistic and clear picture about entering a graduate program abroad. My feeling is that what Richard Bean in one of his early comments pointed out to, might be true to some extent on a much broader scale. I mean if we broaden the question from "studying in the U.S." to "studying abroad" in general, then I think the reasons for which some people decide to study abroad might be based on myths, inaccurate information, or simply because it’s become “fashionable” these days. Unbiased statistics that could shed some light on this issue will be immensely valuable to many prospective students who intend to make an informed decision about their future, as well as to some people in Iran who are in one way or another involved in policy making, and in fact do care about what happens to Iran 20 years from now.

Señor Græd at January 22, 2004 06:51 PM [permalink]:

I have something somewhat related to this entry (rather than "post" or "posting"), so please allow me to write!

Richard Bean wonders how come Iranian students prefer the U.S. to Canada or Australia. I think the short answer can be summed up in one word: prestige.

America is a much more "prestigious" country than Australia or even Canada. And anybody familiar with Iranian culture understands how important that is in our decision-making process. Those students who were not "lucky" enough to get a US visa, I can easily sense, resent the fact that some of their less qualified colleagues ended up on the American soil. It doesn't matter where in the US. Just the fact that it's in "Amrika" is something to be proud of and boast about.

Add to this the fact that almost all Iranians have a relative or a friend somewhere in the US, and consider another fact about Iranian culture: reliance on connections. You'll have at least someone who'll pick you up from the airport and also show you where the RAAH is and where the CHAAH is. (Can't translate the saying. RAAH means "the path" and CHAAH means " the well" and Iranians have a thing for rhyming.) We need to see things through an Iranian outlook and if someone who has already been exposed to a foreign territory can explain it to us in *our* language, we'd be more than grateful. I need not mention the fact that the notion of travel guides are unheard in Iran. We do things by asking around, using our intuition and we're not used to reading long instructions. (I'd rather someone kindly explain to me how to buy a train ticket, rather than have to go through the instructions myself!)

Australia lacks both the prestige and the latter property: it's kind of an "uncharted territory". Iranians don't know many people in Australia. We don't have a "feel" of what it is like to live in Australia, or even Canada (beside the fact that it's cold up there), but we do know a lot (or at least we're deluded enough to *think* we know a lot) about America.

Having said all that, when I was a teenager I for a period of time I used to fantasize about going to Australia. Here's the beginning of a short poem I wrote back then:


In any case, I have also heard that Australian government is not particularly kind to non-white immigrants and in general, Australia, although a country of immigrants, is not as friendly to the "wrong" immigrants as Canada, or even as US.

Is that true?

Señor Græd at January 22, 2004 06:55 PM [permalink]:

Of course, by "*our* language", mind you, I don't mean Persian, or Turkish, or Kurdish. I mean something else that I don't know how to convey in English. Can someone help?

RAAH, CHAA: Click here at January 23, 2004 07:27 AM [permalink]:

This is not poetry, it's an (based on) American football cheer:

Ciss, Boom, Ba!
Iranians want a Shangri-lah
but their land is an abattoir
made into one by the aya-tol-lah.
Ciss, Boom, Ba!

Go Team!

"(I'd rather someone kindly explain to me how to buy a train ticket, rather than have to go through the instructions myself!)"

That means you are lazy in our culture. In the world of technology it means you need to RTFM! You should google that acronym, Majesty. ;-)

Why is it not "prestigious" to study in Iran or the Arab world? How many exchange students come to your part of the world in a year? We have millions both for high school and university from all over the world every year who come to the U.S. The first to learn what we are about and the second because we have the best universities in the world.


PS—to Senior. My, my, my what you do read into my posts is simply astounding— Almost worthy of a ME conspiracy theory. ;-)

Lots of us tech-types virtually never watch television, but, like me many of us read at least 20 news papers a day, quite a few in their native languages. Most of the U.S. now gets its news from the internet and not the boob-tube as imagined by some folks on this board.;-)

I didn't "correct" your typo otherwise I would have written [sic] after it. I merely responded to (yet another) one of your irrelevant posts with a correct mirroring. And btw, I do have a fast connection, I just don't watch much television with cable. But, I usually do my work, with the wireless laptop, on the veranda overlooking 5 mountain ranges and enjoying the brilliant winter weather. Oh, and when Americans hear the ME they think the region—gulf states, other Arab states and Iran, etc. You may stereotype Americans all you want, but the fact remains that we have the most advanced civilization that has ever been on earth and you— don't— in spite of your fancying yourself so "Persian" superior. LOL

RTFM!!! ;-)


Wellesley Girl at January 23, 2004 04:00 PM [permalink]:
Really!! When will I be cleared? (I was going to post this on the main page, but I realized I can’t :D! Yeah I know I violated rule 3! I was reading a posting on this site titled “When Will We Be Cleared,” well, it really hit close to home. The fall of 2003 at Wellesley College was my worse semester ever. I was depressed, unmotivated and at the wrong place at the wrong time. The college felt very concerned (for their own … not to be sued) and had me seen by psychiatrists and psychologists, who diagnosed me with various medical/psychological conditions. My counselor kept insisting that I take the medication, but I refused. As the result, the college gave itself the liberty to drop all my classes and send me on a medical leave two months ago, completely against my will! (I didn’t know they could do that!!!!) Contrary to popular belief, I wasn’t doing bad in terms of academic work, well to my standards I was, but not to average standard, so I didn’t see any reason to leave, but obviously I wasn’t destined to be the person in charge of my own future. They gave me two days to pack up everything and leave! (Note that my room and board was already paid but I still had to leave the dorm. I really like to know what they do to international students! What if someone doesn’t have a place to stay?!) Before I leave, I went and spoke with my dean and the president of the students’ affairs. It turned out that at Wellesley no one has the authority to over rule the counseling center. So, I had to come to FL and spend the rest of the year seeing a therapist, figuring out what my problem was. I can’t go back to school for a year because a bunch of people who don’t even have a decent college degree decided for a year of my life, and I didn’t have any say. Now the interesting part is that as soon as I started therapy in FL, I was told that I have no medical/psychological problem and my issue is very far from a condition where one actually needs to take medication to survive. I was just having a bad roommate, a bad semester and was taking some classes irrelevant to my major that I had little interest in. And in the depressing Massachusetts environment, for a girl from the sunshine state, that spells DEPRESSION! I also figured that I have a tendency to exaggerate and need a translator to interpret “I am failing” as “I am not getting and A+ in this class” (Isn’t this an Iranian attitude?) My therapist, who at least has a decent degree from a prestigious school and has been working and researching in the field for years, believes that I was traumatized because I was constantly told that my chronic irrecoverable “disease” wouldn’t improve unless I take the medication. And worse, I was even hospitalized for a problem I didn’t have! By the way, did you know that in New England the hospital can sign patients in against their will!? And I am sure you aren’t interested to know of all the things that happened between 22-28 of October in the mental ward of the Metro-West Medical Center in Natick, MA. It also bothered me to see two other Wellesley girls in the hospital who didn’t seem to have any problem with being in the hospital, going on a medical leave or taking medication or accepting the counselors decisions and neither did their parents. God knows how many people this happens to every year! Now I know that even the most serious suicidal patients shouldn’t be hospitalized against their will because the hospital experience is ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
Maryam at January 23, 2004 04:15 PM [permalink]:

I'm waiting for clearance near 45 days and as it didn't get ready in time, I enforced to defer for the next term. From the first step I started with doubt about my applications to US universities,as I knew there wouldn't any guarantee for US visa,so it was more important to me to get admission from a school in Canada than in US.The field that I want to continue isn't some thing that all the school offer it and the second problem was the limitation about admission in spring semester.My situation didn't let me to start sooner than this Jan. but I eagerly wanted to start no later than this Jan too. All my hard efforts ended with an admission from one very well reputed Uni. in Canada and the other from US: exactly in the way that I had desired.With so many effort I can handle getting visa for Canada in time and then I went to Dubai for US visa too and the result of interview was positive. So it was me to decide which one would be better for me...I know I have more options in US,and Us will give me more opportunity for my studies but the visa problems put me in dilemma.The problem of sticking in somewhere without daring to come back and forth is not something easy to ignore for me.I consulted with everyone that I knew, both in US and in Canada.It was interesting that each of them believed that the situation s/he has, is much more better.And now I see that in this forum there are some people with some experiences in this regard and I want to ask you to share your opinions and give the answers to the questions of Arash Jalali here too.
And to Mr. Rahmandad : I think I would be good if you add a question about having been in any governmental services and see its relation to clearance duration too.

Wellesley Girl at January 23, 2004 04:20 PM [permalink]:

I would appreciate if the creators of this site put my comment as a posting in the main page. Thank you.

Vahid at January 23, 2004 04:26 PM [permalink]:

Dear Wellesley Girl,

Thank you for sharing your story. I think it is great for a seperate entry, why don't you contact the editor's and ask them to bring it up as a new entry on the first page. I think they accept.
Just a question. Why do you want to go back to that college. Can't you transfer to somewhere, where you do not need a clearance, and you do not have bad memories about?

Wellesley Girl at January 23, 2004 04:36 PM [permalink]:

Good question Vahid! I am really not sure. I have a lot of good friends at Wellesley, generally it's really easy to make friends there, I guess because we are all on the same boat, and I love the environment and the opportunities (ie. taking classes at harvard and MIT, and networking.) Though it gets really depressing in the fall-winter. Besides, Wellesley is a very good school! Also, I am afraid I end up somewhere where I have more problems:(!

Wellesley Girl at January 23, 2004 04:40 PM [permalink]:

Also, I have some really (uniquely) good memories there! But since having good memories from your college years is expected, you are more prone to share your bad memories than good ones!

Majid at January 23, 2004 04:45 PM [permalink]:

Wellesley Girl, you can email them at free[at]freethoughts[dot]org
I don't know why they don't have their email address on front page.

Wessie at January 23, 2004 04:48 PM [permalink]:

W girl, I think you should take this to the media. They love stories like this. The school will probably take you back just to stop the bad press. Be sure you have documentation that you are OK and were misdiagnosed or you may find yourself on a plane back to Iran.

As to the "Axis of Evil"—if the shoe fits. Iran has supported Islamic terrorism abroad, no doubt about it. And it hasn't exactly been kind to its own people either.

yahya at January 23, 2004 04:48 PM [permalink]:

Based on what I heard international students who get sick and take a leave can not stay in the US for more that one semester. If they get sick, they are pretty much shipped home and all that insurance money that they paid become meaningless.

Señor Græd at January 23, 2004 05:22 PM [permalink]:

You got me confused there! Is "Wellesley Girl" Iranian?! If she is not, first of all, how come she knows about Iranian proverbs, and second of all, why does she need clearance? On the other hand, if she is, first of all why is her English so good ;-) (although she could use some paragraphs), and second of all, why does she say she's from the sunshine state?

Idiot SG at January 23, 2004 06:00 PM [permalink]:

SG, she could be second generation Iranian! or she could have lived in FL for a few years before going to college or as you know females are much better in learning a second language (they pick up the accent faster etc.) or.......
why would you even care?!

Hassan at January 23, 2004 06:16 PM [permalink]:

Arash, I am glad that there are still people worrying about the main idea of this page and I share "I really hate this posting get derailed like so many other comments that had the same problem lately."

Richard, Thank you for reminding that intersting tradtion in Australian Academicians, but don't you think this exactly shows the insufficient support of reserch in Australia. The statistics on Chiniese and Indian students attending British and Australian schools is correct and I am also aware of the same figures, but you should consider that why this happens after the recent embargos. I mean, if studying in Australia is so attractive, why weren't people so intersted in that a couple of years ago? More Chinese, Indians and of course Iranian students go there just because they can't go to United States anymore. I do also agree with Senior's comments on this issue to some degree. And I agree if the current trend goes on, US will lose its status in science leadership and it will bring up a more scientificly balanced world, which will be hopefully followed by a more balanced world in all regards, which I of course look forward to it, since it will at least buy "ALI M." a little more respect for Einstein.

Finally, Richard! After you mentioned your last name and the stuff on "Iranian Mathematical Society" I think I recognized you. I have been studying your work on Critical Sets in Latin Squares. Intersting work! Are you still with the Univ. of Queensland? How did you like your visit of Iran and SUT a couple of month ago?


Freemason at January 23, 2004 06:29 PM [permalink]:

So Richard Bean is an Aussie! That’s why you kept advertising for Australian universities! I had kinda guessed it! You want to have a share of Iranian brains!! ;-)

Hassan at January 23, 2004 06:55 PM [permalink]:

Wellesley Girl, Thank you for sharing your unfortunate experience. I do honestly hope you eventually make a way out of it and share your final conclusion. I myself know some other people who had similar frustrations in New England. It seems that something's wrong with the region.(Just kidding!!!) I know Hrvard and MIT are extraordinery schools, in fact I have experienced both of them, but why not leave all that bad stuff alone and of course there are plenty of other excellent schools in US (The most interesting point I found in this land).


Wessie at January 23, 2004 07:17 PM [permalink]:

"(The most interesting point I found in this land)."

Gees, Hassan, perhaps you need to get out more? There is so much that is interesting in the US you could never live long enough to experience it all. It's a BIG country!

H at January 23, 2004 07:43 PM [permalink]:

Wessie, I will put that on the top of my list after finishing my thesis which i supposed to help DOD in NS, as a notion of my appreciation to the Land of Top Universities, but I won't think that would change anything about my prespective. Honestly, I think it's quite an intersting point I still kinda love this institution called "school".

H at January 23, 2004 07:45 PM [permalink]:

"which is supposed"

Wessie at January 23, 2004 08:08 PM [permalink]:

Well, Hassan, you will never change your perspective if you don't get out and see the real America. Try reading some Alexis de Tocqueville:

Here is a website that will help:

and a book called "Blue Highways" by William Least Heat- Moon:

Both books will give you insight. America is a very complex entity. Don't sell it short.

Wellesley Girl at January 23, 2004 08:59 PM [permalink]:

Hey! Please stop referring to me as third person when I am out here reading all your comments! Just for your records, I am a FL resident and went to school in FL before I entered Wellesley College, and it says The Sunshine State on my driver's licence. Also, the clearance process I am talking about isn't the same as the one referred to in this post. This one is a process for the college to make sure you are healed when you go back to school, so that you don't end up in the same ditch and it is the same for everybody, American, Iranian, no difference. It doesn't have anything to do with your citizenship, etc. And about the language, I know many and besides I live in the US! And to Wessie, I have to admit that I did have a problem that caused me to cry for hours every night, I can't deny that, and unfortuneately you really can't prove much about psychological problems. As I said every doctor who saw me had a different idea about my issue! Still, I'll see what happens. I may write to Boston Globe or Newsweek or something.

AmericanWoman at January 23, 2004 10:16 PM [permalink]:

Wellesly Girl, in the medical field, we say one thing about psychological problems: If function is impaired, then we can say it is a malady. It sounds like your function at Wellesly was impaired, and that you refused treatment. If you were held against your will in a psychiatric unit for a length of time, then you must have been exhibiting symptomology of a psychiatric disorder, and were possibly a danger to yourself or others. I suppose you have heard this before, but denial is not just a river in Egypt.
My heart goes out to you in what must be a confusing, perhaps frightening time of your life. I can tell you that this has happened to many people your age, exactly as you have laid it out for us here, and that you can absolutely get your function, not to mention your groove back. Believe it. But you may very well have to live with the medication, and the side effects as well. It is certainly worth a try, considering what is at stake. Also, I hear the little hints and innuendos of suicide. Its a cold lonely place fo you to be. I hope you can take the extended hands trying to pull you out into the Sunshine. We are all here with you.

Ali Mahani at January 24, 2004 02:42 AM [permalink]:

Well, it seems you must give Wessie some credit for her knowledge and her frankness. Seems she has studied Islam and Muslims and found them out for what they really are. As for “problems” Iranians are facing in the US, I’d like to refer you to an article I wrote on the subject a few months ago. It’s available at:

Wellesley Girl at January 24, 2004 10:56 PM [permalink]:

AmericanWoman, I have found few people like you who were really there for me! People who impose their ideas on you aren't worth trusting! And please stop this whole "take your medication" crap! Suicide was more of an idea they (my councelors) put in my head. Read my posting next time you write a comment; I was seen by numerous psychologists/psychiatrists and each gave me different prescriptions and had completely different diagnosis. And the people at the hospital thought there is nothing wrong with me; I am just too anxious, which for what I was going through it was normal. They even told the school I can go back if I continue therapy, but the school refused to accept! And after they heard that, they even told me I should forget about Wellesley and go some other place, which was what many people said! I don't know if you are a doctor or not, but if you are, now I know why my family abhors people like you! Doctors and psychiatrists are just looking for a problem to fix with medication! I doubt there is any one of them out there who actually recommends cognitive therapy! Next time around I'll take advice from Iranian proverbs: "Sari ke dard mikona ro dastmal nemibandand!"

Wellesley Girl at January 25, 2004 12:14 AM [permalink]:

Oh and also, my only wish for people like you is that the same exact thing happens to you! I will be so happy that day!

Wessie at January 25, 2004 01:52 AM [permalink]:

I have read all of Ghazal's thread and have come to the conclusion that many of you haven't a clue as to why the U.S. has the policies it has against Iran. The reason is that the U.S. considers Iran an enemy state. We haven't had diplomatic relations with Iran since the hostage crisis. It is a well known fact that Iran sponsors Islamic terrorism.

I would urge you all to read Ali Mahani's comments at November 2, 2003 08:30 AM:

He's really got it. We (the West and particularly the U.S.) don't owe you all a thing. Plenty of others, from non-hostile nations, would gladly take your place and be grateful for the opportunity.

Bush is speaking of helping the Iranian people, not the theocratic government. Note the help we offered and gave in Bam. After which the mullahs again spit into our faces. Although some of the Iranian people appear to at least be grateful to our "dirty" dogs, some of whom found their loved ones. The mullahs have "conditions" that we should meet. LOL!

Additionally, there is some evidence coming out now (in Germany) that Iran may have helped with 9/11. If those accusations prove true there will be Hell to pay!

You all should consider the sorts of discrimination that Americans and other "infidels" suffer at the hands of Islamic governments. Consider what it is like for anyone who is not a Muslim to go to Iran or Saudi Arabia, etc. Try going to Turkey as a Western woman and see what a pain in the backside that is.

You all are very lucky to be permitted to come here at all—as I have said all along. Don't bite the hand that feeds you. Don't forget, the U.S. is what it is today as a result of the Islamic terror attacks of 9/11. You are not the only ones who are inconvenienced. US citizens find the issues of security as a result of Islamic terror very annoying to say the least.

Every time stand in a long airport line and get searched by some obese, bear-pawed security agent, I thank your part of the world for the pleasure. ;-)


PS—Wellesley Girl go and have some blood work done at an endocrinologist's office. Make sure that your thyroid is functioning properly. If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder take your medication!

AIS at January 25, 2004 07:55 AM [permalink]:

OK, first of all Wessie, I really think the US should act differently from the Islamic countries, don't you? Comparing this with that doesn't prove anything. Almost all of us here agree that Islamic countires SUCK!

And to be fair to Wessie, I don't see the relevance of Wellesley Girl's psychological issues to this post (and to us!), why do we have to read all of this, I wonder?

AmericanWoman at January 25, 2004 01:39 PM [permalink]:

Wellesley Girl's comments have to do with freedoms being violated, or actually taken away. As I understand it, she is saying that if she makes statements which are interpreted a certain way, then she is incarcerated against her will. By the way, this is true, and certainly happens. Another example of this in our alleged "free society" happens if you say the words "bomb, or "gun" or even "drugs" in an airport. This was true even before 9/11, at least in US international airports. She asks if this is fair. That is a difficult question, but one that has been answered for me by my CHOSEN profession.

By the way, I apologize to W.G. for adding to an already extremely difficult situation. It wasn't my intent, but you are right, I don't know you and it is none of my business. I hope and trust that the brains that got you into Wellesley and the support of your family and professionals around you will work this all out.

Señor Græd at January 26, 2004 11:14 AM [permalink]:

Allow me to comment on some of your comments.

Wessie: You suggested some books to read about America. Alexis de Tocqueville is of course a classic, but of little interest to the lay non-historian. It's interesting how outsiders can see and disect you better than any American could have been able to. Which reminds me of a little funny book by the name of "Ciao America". Beppe Severgnini, the Italian writer (a contributor to The Economist) has witty observations about Americans and their ways, and compares them with Euopeans or just Italians with a subtle sarcasm that I'm not sure Americans quite get. In fact, he sometimes gets too close to "offensive", in my opinion, but right at the moment that you think he's about to "hit" someone he backs off, or changes direction. He's GOOD, I'm telling ya. :-)

In any case, one thing you seem to fail to realize is that bigness alone is what not makes a country great. True, Americans want the biggest of everything. Huge malls, huge grocery shops, SUVs, limos and Titanic are just a small sample of the American obsession with bigness. You give Hassan a travel guide, while he seems to enjoy the bigger world of the academia. A library, I hope you agree with me, can provide a far richer experience than a trip to Grand Canyon.

AmericanWoman: Thanks for the free counseling by offering some consoling words to Wellesley Girl. It's nice to see someone cares. I think the name is (clinical) depression and it comes in all forms and flavors (none of the pretty or sweet, of course). And what (graduate) student have not to some degree experienced it? Only the luckiest ones, I think, and they're a small minority! :-)

Wellesley Girl: I'd trasnlate the proverb "Sari ke dard mikona ro dastmal nemibandand!" to "If something is not broken, don't fix it", which is a pretty good translation. It seems to me that you're relucatnt to take pills, because then you would be deemed by your Iranian "friends" as RAVAANI[=psychopath], or something. You should get over your fear of being labeled and take your medication as prescribed by professionals. Good girl! :-)

Oh and also you wrote to poor AW who only intended to help: "Oh and also, my only wish for people like you is that the same exact thing happens to you! I will be so happy that day!" Hmmm. Sounds like your problem is a pretty serious one. ;-)

And of course I skipped Wessie's long booooring comment. :-)

Señor Græd at January 26, 2004 11:18 AM [permalink]:

And by the way, the proverb (that I carelessly copied and pasted in my comment) is: "Sari ke dard NEmikona ro dastmal nemibandand!" :-)

Señor Græd at January 26, 2004 11:59 AM [permalink]:
More thoughts on the "prestige" issue. You see, Richard, there is a word Iranians use, KHAAREJ (from the Arabic root KH-R-J, literally meaning "outside" or in the context we're talking about simply "abroad"), when they want to refer to the rich industrial countries inhabited by white people (who are as exotic to us as we are to them!) where women can freely wear miniskirts. This word gains status, respect, and envy for the person who has experienced it, that is, for the person who's been to KHAAREJ. It's not easy to characterize what KHAAREJ exactly refers to. U.S., for example, is the best kind of KHAAREJ available. Canada is not that much of a KHAAREJ. Perhaps even England is more KHAAREJ-like than Canada. Canada is basically for those who cannot make it to the US, you know. France and Germany are definitely considered KHAAREJ, while many other countries are just known by their names. Is Greece KHAAREJ? I guess it's on the borderline. So is Australia. India is definitely not KHAAREJ. And for the average Iranian South America simply does not exist, or we have no clue what the difference between Ecuador and Peru and Bolivia is. Likewise, KHAAREJIs, the blond people who live in KHAAREJ, are indistinguishable to the Iranian eye. A Russian, a Frenchman, a Brit, or anybody else with blue eyes is considered more or less the same, as long as s/he's not from Turkey, a country that is the poor Iranian's KHAAREJ. :-) I am inclined to suggest that the manner that Western visitors perceive as Iranians hospitality is not really that. If you are an American with Chinese heritage or are an African-American, then you don't deem as deserving our "hospitality" as your white compatriot does! Case in point, see how hospitable we've been to Afghan refugees who share with us the langauge and the religion. :-) But why am I telling you all of these? Because you're not going to read these in PC books about Iranians and it is unlikely that you could hear it from my fellow Iranians. I just want to open a window for you to Iranian psyche. :-) We are a deeply hierarchically-minded people, as I believe many other peoples in the region are. We have a built in machine that ranks people in a fraction od a second. In countering fellow Iranians, we can immediately decide who is beneath our rank (and therefore who to show comtempt for) and who is above our rank (and therefore who to put a show of respect for). We have two different vocabularies when dealing with these two categories. Deep down, we believe that a KHAAREJI is someone who is above our rank. They are more beautiful, more scientifically advanced, and more powerful (as nations). In other words, most of us suffer from a chronic case of what is called "infriority complex". That's exactly why we cling to our rich culture and to 25 centuries of civilization. A culture that is nowhere to be found outside our old literary works and a Persian empire and a civilization that is no more. These are simply defense mechanisms that alleviate our sense of humiliation. Now, back to Australia. Australia is definitely more KHAAREJ-like than Turkey, but I don't know if it's higher or lower than, say, Russia on the KHAAREJ-ness measure. And believe me, it makes all the difference. See, rich, lucky Iranians, when they want to choose a destination abroad for vacation, although more often than not ignorant about Western history and culture, they choose Paris, London and New York. India and Egypt may appeal only to the more " ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
Wellesley Girl at January 26, 2004 02:04 PM [permalink]:

Seems like you guys are still on my case! American Woman, sorry about the harsh comment, but you got the idea! Senior Grad, First I am not a grad student, second, if I cared what people are gonna think of me I wouldn't have written my story in this site. And for your info, according to "The Feeling Good Handbook" Chapter 3, "it's absurd for people to try to feel happy all the time,... sometimes negative feelings are healthy [and appropriate]." (See I know how to quote:)!) And what time is better than right now! After reading more about these diseases, I realized if I want to diagnose myself I have anxiety, simple Phobia, agrophobia, obsessive compulsive disorder, hypochondriasis, and depression! And can you believe I can't possibly have the ones the doctors diagnosed, because I don't have the symptoms! So it all boils down to, I don't have any problem because it's normal to think you have all of these issues, the problem comes when they get too extreme and out of hand and that is when it's obviously THE ISSUE! But since you only can speak from personal experience, you think your extreme is "the extreme," but when you read about what crazy things people do when they were in crisis, you realize how healthy and normal you are! :> (Too philosophical!) Also, all the medication I was prescribed can't be taken simultaneously:(! ;)

Wellesley Girl at January 26, 2004 02:42 PM [permalink]:

I just don't understand Americans! They go on atkins diet then they take Protonix! What's up with this type of attitude?!

Loose Can at January 26, 2004 04:01 PM [permalink]:

Wellesley Girl, do you have a specific point in mind, or would just comment on whatever crosses your mind?

hazhir at January 26, 2004 05:56 PM [permalink]:

Your last comment was very interesting and a great topic for an article in FTOI. I think what you have already written is a great start, why don't you make it a full article? Don't be over perfectionist in writing, the result would be increasing the ratio of the crap to reasonable article in the world, as by the time you write THE article, people have written 20 craps! If you write 5 OK article in that time frame, you have contributed much more I think. Moreover, don't forget the learning curve: the more you write, the more efficient you get :)

Tautologist at January 26, 2004 07:05 PM [permalink]:

I really enjoyed your treatise about the concept of KHAAREJ among iranians, but it seems, fortunately or unfortunately it's changing. Well, I'm sure you have heard by now about the iranian refugee in Afghanistan who stitched his lips in protest to the rejection of his refugee claim in Afghansitan last week.

Once, it was said " The sun never set on the british Impire," well it seems know ,thanks to our stupid rulers, we can claim that "The sun never set on iranian-free land."

Tautologist at January 26, 2004 09:17 PM [permalink]:

correction to above comment:
The sun never set on iranian-inhabited land

Welleley Girl at January 27, 2004 12:24 AM [permalink]:

HAHAHA! Senior, I don't know how I missed your comment about kharej! It reminded me of that joke: be yeki migan age hame donya ro behet midadan chikar mikardi mige mifrookhtam miraftam kharej! (They ask someone what would you do if you were given the world, he says I would sell it and move to Kharej!) I totally agree with your idea about the caste system in Iran and the past most of us boast, while knowing nothing about. The interesting thing is that none of us can name ten things Iranians did before the Arab invasion! I, personally, don't feel inferior to anybody, American, Iranian, Arab, etc, but can see the difference in the way Iranians treat me when I speak English when I go to Iran as opposed to when I do Farsi! Also about Dumas' book! It included many a fabricated data! ie, she talks about the southern Iran as if it were Paris of the time saying that people came there for summer vacation! GIVE ME A BREAK! I also found the book degrading towards Iranians. Therefore, I wouldn't recommend it to someone who hasn't yet developed an idea about Iran.

Wellesley Girl at January 27, 2004 12:31 AM [permalink]:

And to Loose,
Protonix is the pill prescribed for acid reflux disease, which is amplified by taking too much protein (red meat in specific) as opposed to starch. I was saying that americans like to do it the take-pill way all the time, that was just an example. Does that make any sense now? If not take a class in logic! Your problem is with deductive reasoning!

Señor Græd at January 27, 2004 12:17 PM [permalink]:

OMG! What have I done? Spilling the Iranian beans yesterday when I was high? (High on life, of course!) Will I ever forgive myself for writing such a "treatise"?

Thanks for the joke, Wellesley Girl. I suggest you watch the movie "Mona Lisa Smile". It's still on screens. If there's no future for you in Wellesley, at least you can watch its past. (A fictitious one, to be sure.)

Señor Græd at January 27, 2004 12:26 PM [permalink]:

Tautologist: Yes, I've read about the Iranian refugees. It's understandable and I could've done the same, although I probably wouldn't go that far as stitching my lips. I'm not knowleagable about what is going on inside Afghanistan (I plan to read this when I get the chance, or maybe you can read it and tell me what it says. Remember the RTFM? ) but from the outside, there seems to be hope for that country. And hope, my dear Tautologist, is very important. Afghanistan may fall back on its tribal habits, no question about that, but there is a window of hope for it to try a democratic system for a change. Is there a hope for Iran?

Wellesley Girl at January 27, 2004 12:57 PM [permalink]:

Hey Senior,
I have watched the movie when it was filmed and on the big screen. It is fictitous I must agree and they have moved stuff around, (like, in reality, the hoop rolling competition happens every graduation day, etc!) But how did you deduce that there is no future for me at Wellesley? And don't spill the bean again by confessing your drinking (I hope it is just that!) habbits here in public! Or if it's life that got you so jolly, well invite us over maybe we had a ball too!

Wessie at January 28, 2004 02:30 AM [permalink]:

How do you "spill a bean"? Is that like "cooking a grit"? ;-)

Everything in moderation; but too much whiskey is never enough." Mark Twain

Señor Græd at January 28, 2004 09:32 AM [permalink]:

Apparently, I missed a bunch of comments that you kindly wrote after my "khaarej" comment. I'll read them and respond if need be, when I get a chance. For now, I just want to add that that comment of mine should be polished a lot. I seem to have contradicted myself there, (not an easy thing to do in a few paragraphs!) so I should perhaps re-write it altogether. Thank you.

Señor Græd at January 28, 2004 01:57 PM [permalink]:


Two apologies are in order. First, I didn't see your comment of January, 26th, the other day. Second, sorry about rambling about the concept of KHAAREJ under your post. My comment was not all that related to your post really.

Then, thanks for the encouragement, and as much as I enjoy and appreciate your argument (the explosion of crap because some people don't write) I guess I have too much respect for FToI to write less than perfect articles for it, not to mention a host of other issues, you know.

Also, my "learning curve" sucks. By the way, the way you spell my name I'm reminded of sinister Spanish men. ;-)

Vahid at January 29, 2004 08:33 PM [permalink]:

If you had a bad expreince with US visa, delay or denial you can report it to National Academy of Science at this link:

They claim that could be helpful in some cases. I don't think so. But I guess it could be at least helpful to document this problems.

Match Maker at January 31, 2004 11:04 AM [permalink]:


Actually, I know a "handsome, in-shape, intelligent, accomplished," and of course "rational" man: Abolghasem Khazali. Live long together! or "be paye ham pir shin elahi".

Richard Bean at February 15, 2004 01:18 AM [permalink]:

(better late than never on comments)

Hassan, it's good to know that people actually read my papers! I made many friends in Iran. There are still many combinatorics ideas I would like to investigate, and I have more contacts now.

Senor - I was always puzzled that I was considered "blond" in Iran, I thought I had brown hair. But thanks for the book reference. Also, the Australian government doesn't have any sort of "White Australia Policy" now, so there's no reason they would treat some legal immigrants differently to others. Refugee policies are a crucial voting issue, though. How is Dubai on the Senior Grad Khaarej-ness scale?

Wesie at February 15, 2004 11:51 AM [permalink]:

Match Maker "Actually, I know a "handsome, in-shape, intelligent, accomplished," and of course "rational" man: Abolghasem Khazali. Live long together! or "be paye ham pir shin elahi".'

Well, thanks for the offer, Match Maker. While I do tend to prefer men with dark looks, I would go for a Latin man before any middle easterner. That said, I have been in love and very happily married to a wonderful man for many years—a guy with a pronounceable name. A man who does not consider himself superior to any human being—including women; a man who is highly educated, cultured and in shape—not to mention quite handsome.

Experience is the best teacher. I have known scores of ME men in my lifetime. I work with them rather often. Not for me! Thanks. No matter how superficially polite they are, no matter how much "fawning, bowing and scraping" and "I apologize" they do; no matter how often they say "I do not mean to offend"—they KNOW that they are god's gift to the world and to women and they behave accordingly. LOL

Chacun a son gout!

Please translate: "be paye ham pir shin elahi"


Señor Græd at February 16, 2004 04:14 PM [permalink]:


Dubai is simply Dubai. It's not Khaarej, AT ALL! The following is a possible conversation between two Iranians:

I1: By the way, Hassan has come back from Khaarej.
I2 [excited]: Oh really? He went (to) Khaarej? Where did he go to?
I1: Dubai.
I2 [disappointed]: Binim Baba/Vaa! (depending on I2's gender) [Translation: WHAT?] Since when is Dubai (part of) Khaarej?!

Some countries are known to us by their names, not their category. Dubai is one of them. Japan, Thailand, Singapore, and Pakistan are similar in this respect.

Señor Græd at February 16, 2004 04:30 PM [permalink]:

Well, this person seems to think Japan is also "Khaarej"! Read (if you can read Persian) the entry of February 12th, 2004.

Shebaniah at April 26, 2004 12:45 AM [permalink]:

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memret at April 26, 2004 12:57 AM [permalink]:

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