The Limits of Irany

Update (6/20/2009): If you agree about Mahmoud deserving his vacation, please read and sign this petition (courtesy of Elham Kashefi). I have no doubt that if enough Shtetl-Optimized readers sign, it will force the ayatollahs to reconsider.

I haven’t heard from my pal Mahmoud in years, but some mutual friends told me that he’s been pretty stressed about his job lately.  They said you’re supposed to turn your blog’s background green if you agree with some concerned folks who’ve been marching around Tehran encouraging him to take a much-needed breather.

This was a tough call for me.  On the one hand, the voters clearly want Mahmoud at his desk by spectacular margins:


On the other hand, it seemed hypocritical for me to deny a close friend his vacation, given how much procrastinating I’ve been doing myself lately.  For example, I’ve barely been blogging—and when I have, it’s often just bargain-basement fare you could get anywhere else on the Internet!  Ultimately, then, I decided I had to go green out of a sort of Kantian blogegorical imperative—regardless of all the complex ways my editing a WordPress stylesheet might reverberate through history.

22 Responses to “The Limits of Irany”

  1. Pooya Says:

    Human beings are members of a whole, In creation of one essence and soul. If one member is afflicted with pain, Other members uneasy will remain. If you have no sympathy for human pain, The name of human you cannot retain. – Saadi, Persian poet

    Thanks for your sympathy 🙂

  2. Scott Says:

    Pooya, thanks for the quote!

  3. Hamed Says:

    Always enjoined reading your blog,
    Thanks for going Green!
    And your support of Iranian people.

  4. Landon Says:

    I love the title of your blog entry. A great play on words that I have not seen in any mainstream media outlet. However, I hope the civil unrest in Iran in short lived and that the truth be told.

  5. Jr Says:

    I think this is a truly difficult situation to know how it should be handled by foreign countries. The last thing we want is for the demonstrators to look like stooges for the Big Satan.

    On the other hand, we of course want to see our leaders go out and denounce the events occurring.

  6. Daniel de França MTd2 Says:

    It seems western media wants to promote a candidate that can afiliate Iran with their economical and political interests, and demonize everyone that is against their objectives.
    Clearly, seeing the above marks, Mahamoud didn’t have any spectacular margins, you see that in most places 40% didn’t vote for him. Whoever wrote that, wants to demote the iranian democracy and justify a military intevention, like in Iraq:

    Here are the results, quoted from one of the sites above:

    “Of 39,165,191 votes counted (85 percent), Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the election with 24,527,516 (62.63 percent).”

    He announced that Mir-Hossein Mousavi came in second with 13,216,411 votes (33.75 percent).

    Mohsen Rezaei got 678,240 votes (1.73 percent)

    Mehdi Karroubi with 333,635 votes (0.85 percent).

    He put the void ballots at 409,389 (1.04 percent).”

    If that was merely stolen, why not share the votes between the 3 losing candidates so that things looked nicer?

    Mahmoud is clearly popular and that just show that what West considers free is just a crazy consumist and pornographic adictions, and does not really means “freadom” for everyone.

  7. Daniel de França MTd2 Says:

    “free is just a crazy consumist and pornographic adictions” – correct – free is just an adiction for porn and insatiable consumism

  8. Amin Says:

    Thanks for your support and this timely post.

  9. John Sidles Says:

    Going “green” is good. Because democracy alone is no panacea for the evils of faction … as James Madison foresaw in Federalist #10:

    It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests, and render them all subservient to the public good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.

    Nor, in many cases, can such an adjustment be made at all without taking into view indirect and remote considerations, which will rarely prevail over the immediate interest which one party may find in disregarding the rights of another or the good of the whole.

    The inference to which we are brought is, that the causes of faction cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its effects.

    The blogosphere is emerging (IMHO) as this century’s first (but hopefully not last) great means for mitigating the evils of faction.

    Provided we use it to good effect. 🙂

  10. An Iranian Student Says:

    It’s wonderful to see people worldwide understand the situation in Iran. I wish to thank you for your support.

    While the communication facilities such as cell phones especially SMS are disabled by authorities, internet and satellite function so loosely and many websites like Facebook and Twitters are now banned, reading such a blogpost is quite refreshing! The government has lowered the internet connection speed to prevent us from using anti-filters! The speed is low as I thought I can’t submit my paper to AQIS! Nevertheless, I finally managed to submit it.

    Although the the security forces killed 12 students, I believe this is our only road to the democracy! If we success, not only we can claim that we have learnt the democracy, in comparison to our neighbors in the middle east, but also we may succeed helping Obama bring the peace to the region. This is while Mahmoud will spread the war!

    P. S. Almost all of your hyperlinks are filtered in Iran!

    @ Daniel de França

    Let me bring you some reasons to show the massive cheat in the election:

    1. There were 46,000 places for us to vote. Two elections, the presidential and “khobregan”, were taking place simultaneously and the process was very slow; nearly 2 minutes for a vote! If I become very very optimistic and say they could collect 50 votes per hour per box, they couldn’t collect more than 32,000,000 votes approximately in the 14 hours; even if people were there to vote all the day! So the 39,165,191 votes is definitely a big lie!

    2. Approximately 11 million people who boycotted the previous election, this time voted to prevent Ahmadinejad from destroying more than he already has. How can these people who boycotted one election because they claimed it was undemocratic in the other, vote for Ahmadinejad?

    3. The reformist candidates were not even elected in their own hometowns! This is impossible in Iran!

    4. I live in Iran, and since this election was very important for me, I was doing a research on how people will react to the election. The result was people will certainly elect Mr. Mousavi! Where have our votes gone?

  11. Bendid Says:

    “Iranian Student”, you have some good arguments, but I’m still not convinced. First, every elections has fraud and fake votes. I have no special knowledge about what happened in Iran, but it seems reasonable to assume that Mahmoud did win the elections.

    Second, I despise Ahmadinejad, but I still do not see a profound difference between him and Mousavi with respect to foreign affairs, and also in other aspects: they are both radical Islamists, and it seems that portraying Mousavi as some sort of “liberator” is quite misleading.

  12. An Iranian Student Says:

    Bendid, I know fake votes are everywhere. However, this case is different! “Kaargozaaran”, a renowned political party in Iran, says their agent in the election committee, who wanted to remain unknown, revealed that the real election statistics is as follows:

    Mousavi, with ~21/3 million votes has taken 57.2 percent of all and has been in the first place. Ahmadinejad, Rezaei and Karroubi come after, with 10.5 percent, 7.2 percent and 6 percent respectively.

    If he is right then the cheat is a big deal!

    Second, I admit that all of the choices are radical Islamists! Nevertheless, we have to confess that Iran is not yet ready to become a democratic liberal country! We need a reform instead of a sudden change, which is indeed doomed to fail. During the Khatami’s presidential period, at least, we could be proud that our president is the theoretician of Dialogue Among Civilizations. But I am even ashamed to repeat the bullshit that Ahmadinejad always says as an Iranian representative! I believe having Mr. Mousavi been elected, at least the behavior of our president is not below vulgar people! There is a huge difference between Ahmadinejad and anybody else! Voting for Ahmadinejad is voting for Hitler!

  13. Aspiring CTR Says:


    Solving the subset-sum problem with a light-based device
    Mihai Oltean and Oana Muntean

    (1) Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science, Babeş-Bolyai University, Kogălniceanu 1, Cluj-Napoca, 400084, Romania

    We propose an optical computational device which uses light rays for solving the subset-sum problem. The device has a graph-like representation and the light is traversing it by following the routes given by the connections between nodes. The nodes are connected by arcs in a special way which lets us to generate all possible subsets of the given set. To each arc we assign either a number from the given set or a predefined constant. When the light is passing through an arc it is delayed by the amount of time indicated by the number placed in that arc. At the destination node we will check if there is a ray whose total delay is equal to the target value of the subset sum problem (plus some constants). The proposed optical solution solves a NP-complete problem in time proportional with the target sum, but requires an exponential amount of energy.

  14. Nargess Says:

    Thanks for your support. It means a lot.

  15. Jr Says:

    I suppose it is a good thing that the anti-crazies in Iran are more likely to read English-language blogs than the crazies.

    Otherwise, I could imagine that more than one Iranian would think twice to support the same movement as an American “Zionist”.

  16. Scott Says:

    Jr: Yeah, apparently that’s why Obama hasn’t been clearer in supporting the protesters—because he thinks it would backfire, making it easier for the government to portray the protesters as “American Zionist stooges” (Zionist, as usual, thrown in for good measure).

    Fortunately, I judged the risk that my blog would influence Iranian politics in this way to be acceptably small.

    Incidentally, I’m under no illusions that Moussavi would change much—I think they had on Stewart/Colbert that his main platform is to replace “Death to America” by “Terminal Illness to America.” 🙂 All the same, I find it impossible not to cheer on Iran’s reality-based community, many members of which I’m proud to count as friends and colleagues, as it tries gradually to drag its country into the 21st century.

  17. Shash Says:

    To people like Daniel de França MTd2:

    My (admittedly non-Iranian) feeling is that these protests are not just about Ahmadinejad and the election, underlying it all is the fact that at the top of the country there are people that can never be removed from office, and have real power.

    Regardless of what you think of the West, Oil, religion, Israel, headscarves, or anything else, surely you don’t think that one human should be given significant and irrevocable power over an entire country for the rest of their life?

    Perhaps some real Iranians could clarify, but maybe this is what the protestors are ultimately campaigning about.

    Note that this has nothing to do with pornography.

  18. John Sidles Says:

    I agree with Shash. Regrettably, it appears to be generic to every human enterprise, for individual citizens to willingly embrace any tyranny that advances their faction. Thus, the universality necessity in republican democracies of checks and balances that restrain faction.

    The same necessity applies to the math-and-science community, of course. Three vital checks-and-balances being (1) the openness of the scientific literature, (2) respect for the norms of peer review, (3) a commitment to reasoned public debate.

    Nowadays (IMHO) a fourth commitment is needed (4) universal access to the global databases and computational tools of science. And I have to pay tribute to Donald Knuth for being among the first to appreciate and commit to this.

    IMHO, the openness of math, science, and technology, and the openness of republican governance are tightly coupled—neither can long endure without the other.

  19. Elham Kashefi Says:

    Please read the attached appeal as my reply to the comment above.

  20. Thomas Says:

    An interesting point is made in, a paper by Boudewijn F. Roukema. He analyzes the results based on Benford’s law.

  21. Alex Says:

    I hate Ahmadinejad and I am the first to cheer the protesters in Iran. Every single Iranian I’ve spoken to says that he or she hates him and voted for Mousavi.
    But then I started wondering if there wasn’t any chance the Iranian government’s line:
    – Ahmadinejad wone the election fair and square. Maybe the urban elite and educated expats were rooting for Mousavi, but Ahmadinejad remains very popular among working class people and rural communities, hence his –
    had some truth to it.

    I recall the exact same thing happened in the U.S in 2004. Every American I spoke to said he hated Bush and was voting for Kerry. The international community as well as American intelligentsia all thought Bush was a dangerous idiot with a tendency for verbal blunders, outrageous statements and warmongering, and it seemed like Kerry could not loose. But Bush ‘rallied the base’ and convinced all the rednecks and religious types that it was their patriotic and Christian duty to vote for him, and he got re-elected. Isn’t their any chance that this also what happened in Iran?

  22. not so naive Says:

    To Daniel de França MTd2, Bendid, Alex:

    So you really believe Ahmadinejad actually got 63% of the vote, do you? So tell me, what did you think of the display of protestors’ “confessions” on Iranian national television?