Thursday, February 22, 2007

Copy Protection

A brilliant definition for "copy protection," from the Jargon File.

copy protection: n.

A class of methods for preventing incompetent pirates from stealing software and legitimate customers from using it. Considered silly.

Esfandgan, a Day for Women

During the last one or two months I have been considering a post about the Iranian calendar and/or ancient Iranian festivals (which are closely related, and both are in line with my series of mythology related posts), so I was delighted to see a post in my friend's blog on the same topic. Since her blog is in Esperanto I decided to translate the post here (with her consent, of course). I thank Fifio for her great post. Be aware that this is a free translation. I'm not going to do a literal exact translation, nor I'm going to keep the author's writing style! I hope you enjoy it.

The title of the original post is "The 'Esfandgan' festival, an Iranian Day for Women."

In ancient Iran each day of a month had a name. Those names were names of deities. But don't get me wrong; ancient Iranians' beliefs were not polytheistic. In their beliefs, each natural power had it's own sacred master (or deity), while the all-powerful One God was "Ahuramazda."

All months in the old Iranian calendar had 30 days each of which, as I said, had it's own name. So there were thirty day names. For example, the first day was Ahuramazda day, the second was Bahman day, the third was Ordibehesht day, and so forth.

Note that today's Iranian official calendar has four seasons and twelve months:

1. Farvardin
has 31 days; from March 21, to April 20.

2. Ordibehesht
has 31 days; from April 21, to May 21.

3. Khordad
has 31 days; from May 22, to June 21.

4. Tir
has 31 days; from June 22, to July 22.

5. Mordad
has 31 days; from July 23, to August 22.

6. Shahrivar
has 31 days; from August 23, to September 22.

7. Mehr
has 30 days; from September 23, to October 22.

8. Aban
has 30 days; from October 23, to November 22.

9. Azar
has 30 days; from November 23, to December 21.

10. Dey
has 30 days; from December 22, to January 20.

11. Bahman
has 30 days; from January 21, to February 19.

12. Esfand
has 29 days (30, on a leap year); from February 20, to March 20.

Today's calendar is a little bit different from the old one. One difference is the number of days in each month. Another difference is that we don't have the day names anymore. The month names are the same, though.

You might have noticed that some month names are the same as the day names I gave as an example. In fact, all month names are also day names. So in each month, there is one day in which the name of the month and the name of the day are the same. These are the twelve festivals of ancient Iranians. For example, on Bahman 2, we have the "Bahmangan" feast. The "gan" suffix pluralizes a noun, so Bahmangan literally means Bahmans.

These are the twelve festivals:
  • Farvardingan (on Farvardin 19)
  • Ordibeheshtgan (on Ordibehesht 3)
  • Khordadgan (on Khordad 6)
  • Tirgan (on Tir 13)
  • Mordadgan (on Mordad 7)
  • Shahrivargan (on Shahrivar 4)
  • Mehrgan [also pronounced "Mehregan"] (on Mehr 16)
  • Abangan (on Aban 10)
  • Azargan (on Azar 9)
  • Deygan (on Dey 1)*
  • Bahmangan (on Bahman 2)
  • Esfandgan (on Esfand 5)

* As I mentioned, the name of the first day of each month is Ahuramazda. The word "Dey" in old Persian language means "God" or "Deity." Ahuramazda was the One God so Deygan was celebrated on Dey 1. You might have noticed the similarity between the word "dey" and the English (Latin) "deity." That's because these words, in ancient Persian and Latin, are from the same root.

I said every natural power has its master. As an example, Aban is the master of water, Azar is the master of fire, and Bahman is the master of good thoughts. Esfand is the mistress of the Earth and plants. Esfand's incarnation was a woman because in Iranian mythology the Earth is usually described as a woman. There's a simple philosophy behind this; the Earth is the mother of all.

On the 5th day of month Esfand, we celebrate Esfandgan. It is the festivity of women --the women's day. Although it is an old belief, we still celebrate it. (By "we" I mean everyone who loves Iran and the Iranian culture.)

I wish a happy Esfandgan for everyone.

(Here, Fifio thanks Ms. Emrani for correcting her Esperanto post. I thank both of them. Happy Esfandgan!)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lost: a Long Loved One

During the last two years, we hardly ever parted. Almost anywhere, at parties, out with other friends, at work, in university classes, and even occasionally at night in my bed, we were together. There were many times that I was depressed, and she cheered me up. There were many times that no one was around but her.

At the time that we were almost washed away together by the stream in flood at Tangeh Savashi, we didn't even think about parting; and all that night after that when she was horribly sick. But sooner or later, it happens.

I always enjoyed reading A. A. Milne's poems.
"Wherever I am, there's always Pooh,
there's always Pooh and Me."

And now I even enjoy more since it reminds me of the time she was my Pooh.

I'm going to buy another cellphone but I will not forget the happy days we had together. Whether or not we will meet again some time in the future, I don't know.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Paranoid

It may be a small thing, but these small things sometimes really hurt; especially, when there are a lot of them. What is it? Simple. take a look at the picture: Google "Code Search" is not available in your country. And so is Google Toolbar, and Sun Java Runtime, and Paypal (which ironically is also blocked by the government), and a lot more of these small things.

And why? Because of the paranoid one who is always thinking and speaking about "the enemy." or because of the other guy who feels responsible to "wipe" another nation "off the map," but does not feel that responsible to tackle the problems of his own nation (if he has any feelings towards his homeland; or probably he follows his leader on this, that when returned to Iran after years and was asked "How do you feel, Ayatollah Khomeini, now that you have returned to your homeland after all these years?" and he simply answered, "Nothing.")

Because of them? This one, then, really hurts.

Monday, February 05, 2007

A Journey to the White Spaces

"He looked at maps, and wondered what lay beyond their edges: maps made in the Shire showed mostly white spaces beyond its borders." --The Fellowship of the Ring

There are things about the old world one may miss. For me, it is living in a mysterious world; one in which you can imagine anything you like about what lies a few miles away. A world in which "the road" is the start of a journey you do not know about its end.

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to. Do you realize that this is the very path that goes through Mirkwood, and that if you let it, it might take you to the Lonely Mountain or even worse places?"

I get disappointed when I think about what we call "a road" today. You can drive as much as you like and you will keep seeing signs saying, "Qom 40", "Esfahan 175", "Ahvaz 680", and things like that.

When I think more about it, our maps do show white spaces beyond our planet; Well, yes, they are usually painted black and there are small white points on them our physicists can tell you exactly what atoms they are made of. What the physicists cannot tell you, is how it looks like to live there (and even their information about what they are made of [or even if they exist or not] is a little bit out-dated; they cannot tell you anything about our neighbor galaxy, Andromeda, newer than 2.5 million years ago). So we do have white spaces; quite exciting. The disappointing fact is that we cannot take a backpack and start a trip to see the mountains ("Mountains Gandalf, mountains!"). I believe a time will come, sooner or later, that people will be able to do that. I don't have much hope that I will be alive by that time. Seems we are in the wrong time.

Maybe years later, a grand grandchild of me will take a backpack and start a journey towards the white spaces to see the lonely mountain. Maybe, on the road, he/she will be singing:

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say