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  1. I was worrying too much. Such a beautiful country and such nice people.
  2. Do you guys read AL Monitor and if so what is your opinion of it? I like it because it seems to be reasonably unbiased and concise but I have no way of judging the quality of the information it provides.
  3. I'm going on a trip to Iran soon and I am really excited. I started learning the Persian language a couple of years ago and I think it's time to go and give it a try out. I hope my question is not inappropriate but it is a what-to-do-in-iran question. I have noticed in online language exchanges that the topic of family and children is very popular and often a starting point for a friendly chat. That's fine and I like to hear about peoples lives but I am gay with no wife or family. This is not a subject I'd generally bring up in conversation myself and online it's usually easy enough to deflect the conversation away from myself but I'm worried this might be more difficult in person. How should I deal with these questions in Iran? e.g. You are that age and you are not married?!! Why?! Would you not like a family? Don't you like children? Normally I'd be up front and just say it, it's the simplest solution but maybe it's not safe to do so in Iran? I prefer to be honest in conversation but I also want to have a nice trip and return home in one piece. Am I worrying too much?!
  4. What makes you think that homosexuality is contagious?
  5. Don't get us started! I did know about this, although I think it was more the case that the people with the power and the money did what they liked with anyone within their range who couldn't defend themselves and this included English prisoners and poor people. Off to the colonies and wars they went. Oh the men are getting restless are they? Lets round up some women from Ireland and wherever else and ship them out too. I read about this in a book called Sodomy and the Pirate Tradition: English Sea Rovers in the Seventeenth-Century Caribbean by B.R. Burg. Apparently there were ships of gay pirates sailing the high seas back then although the information in this in the book is mostly speculative and the social history relating to the treatment of people onshore is more interesting. The history of arabs raiding the irish coast for slaves is not unknown here either but the general response is along the lines of "Isn't that curious! The Arabs!". If they had been Brits there would probably be more outrage.
  6. If you live in a country with several religions (and that is probably every country) then you can't fairly have a legal system that just implements the law according to the dominant religion (unless your saudi arabia maybe... without the fairness...). The alternative is a secular system tries to find the common ground and to limit the harm that individuals can do to others where the common ground can't be found. I'm an atheist, I don't like incest and I can see legitimate reason for the law to prevent incestuous relations that will result in inbreeding because it will/may lead to harm for the offspring. If an infertile brother and sister, or two brothers, want to do it then I don't see an what basis I can step in and forbid or prevent it. Religion perhaps allows you to step in and punish them but for me this is just a way of outsourcing difficult moral questions. I have no evidence for the following observation but it seems to me that the taboo against incest has become stronger than ever in the west as it has become more secular. It is no longer cool to marry your cousin here and it used to be quite acceptable.
  7. Is it true to say that the balance of power in Iran is fairly balanced according to the numbers of people who want this or that change and those who don't want change. As in any entrenched system I'd imagine that the balance of power must become unfairly loaded towards maintaining things as they are. Is this not also true in Iran? Since I started learning persian recently I have made quite a few Iranian language exchange partners and it has been interesting to go a bit beyond the usual media level of coverage and find such nice friendly people (which I never doubted there would be anyway...) but more of them are unhappy with the general state of affairs than are content and they are afraid to speak out for fear of repercussions. The impression I get is that the discontent is nothing to do with Islam or faith but more to do with abuse of power. That's just an outsider observation, I'm not trying to have a go at the place, I have a mad crush on Iran at the moment.
  8. I already said he can say what he likes, as he should be able to. I just expressed a simple opinion on what I see as the likely reception of his letter among its target audience. Of course I might be completely wrong.
  9. Who is boycotting and censoring his letter? I just don't see that happening. Anyway, again, my point was not the content of the letter, not do I object to him saying whatever he likes to whoever he likes. I just find it highly unlikely that the youth of the west are interested in what he has to say especially since what he has to say is not (imo) as revelatory as he seems to think.
  10. Netanyahu tries to associate Palestinians with ISIS and other extreme Islamist stuff but nobody else is. Even in the west he is completely without credibility - certainly in Europe and increasingly so i America. I think you are over stating efforts made to block his message, I think it more likely that there is simply almost zero interest in the west in what he has to say about anything, and certainly the contents of his letter, while valid, are really not controversial in western countries. At best he is a nobody here and beyond that he has no credibility partly thanks to propaganda and partly thanks to his rule of governance which is abhorrent to western sensibilities.
  11. A Distant Mirror : The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara W. Tuchman. A very interesting book about a turbulent period in Europe. I am making very slow progress through it though.
  12. He is wasting his breath, the youth of the west will not pay a blind bit of attention to this old man who is so obviously in opposition to them on many issues that young westerners are interested in. If there are truths to be told to the west then he is not the man for the job.
  13. Start learning a new skill or language
  14. Bugs live everywhere, in your food, in your water, in your body, in the bus etc and many of them are good for us. You do your best and hope for the best. They say that pretty much anyone who has had sexual contact with another will be a carrier of one or more strains of the hpv virus which is known to cause cancers such as cervical, anal, penile and oral cancers. A virgin marries a non-virgin and gets cancer. It could be any of us.