Nowruz is the Persian new year which begins on the first day of spring and is the first day of Farvardin, the first month of the Iranian solar calendar. It is celebrated worldwide by various ethno-linguistic groups, and falls on or around March 21.

Nowruz has Iranian and Zoroastrian origins; however, it has been celebrated by diverse communities for over three thousand years in Western Asia, Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Black Sea Basin, the Balkans, and South Asia.

We celebrate Nowruz by eating rice and fish, going to meet our elders, giving people gifts and presents, and throw parties. We also believe it is the day for forgiveness and we encourage each other to forgive and reconcile those we think have wronged us.

Part of Nowruz is Haft-sin. Haft-sin is an arrangement of seven symbolic items whose names start with the letter “س” pronounced as “seen” the 15th letter in the Persian alphabet; haft (هفت) is Persian for seven. The following are the primary items of Haft-sin, whose Persian names begin with the letter س in the Persian alphabet.

  1. Sabzeh (سبزه) – wheat, barley, mung bean, or lentil sprouts grown in a dish.
  2. Samanu (سمنو) – wheat germ sweet pudding.
  3. Senjed (سنجد) – Oleaster
  4. Serkeh (سرکه) – vinegar.
  5. Seeb (سیب) – apple.
  6. Seer (سیر) – garlic.
  7. Somāq (سماق) – sumac.

Coins (سکه sekke), hyacinth (سنبل sonbol), and clock (ساعت saat) are sometimes included too. Other symbolic items that are typically used to accompany Haft-sin include a mirror, candles, painted eggs, goldfish, and traditional Persian confections. A “book of wisdom” is also commonly included, which might be the Quran, the Bible, the Avesta, the Shahnameh, or the divān of Hafez.

In Iran, the Nowruz holidays last thirteen days. On the thirteenth day of the New Year, Iranians leave their houses to enjoy nature and picnic outdoors, as part of the Sizdah be-dar ceremony. Sizdah Bedar (Thirteen Outdoor) also known as Nature’s Day is held on the thirteenth day of Farvardin during which people spend time picnicking outdoors. It marks the end of the Nowruz holidays in Iran.

On that day, we celebrate the beautiful mother nature we have and encourage each other to take care of it. Also, “Lie of the Thirteenth” is the Iranian version of the prank-playing April Fools’ Day which is observed on the first or second day of April in Iran, on the day of Sizdah Bedar.

Nowruz is a nice holiday. It brings us joy and happiness and time to spend with family and friends. It’s one of the nicest holidays I know. Everybody is happy, everybody is joyful, everybody is friendly and everybody is just a human being, regardless of differences we have.

Happy Nowruz everybody. Wish you a great new year.

International Women’s Day is celebrated on 8 March around the world. It is a focal point in the movement for women’s rights.

After the Socialist Party of America organized a Women’s Day in New York City on 1909 February 28, German delegates Clara Zetkin, Käte Duncker, Paula Thiede and others proposed at the 1910 International Socialist Woman’s Conference that “a special Women’s Day” be organized annually.

After women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917, March 8 became a national holiday there. The day was then predominantly celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries until it was adopted by the feminist movement in about 1967. The United Nations began celebrating the day in 1977.

Women around the world are suffering from inequality and need special attention. I don’t believe men and women should be treated exactly the same. People should be treated good and without discrimination, not completely equal. Being equal doesn’t bring justice and doesn’t eliminate discrimination.

Commemoration of International Women’s Day today ranges from being a public holiday in some countries to being largely ignored elsewhere. In some places, it is a day of protest; in others, it is a day that celebrates womanhood.

Read more about women’s rights on Wikipedia

Yesterday marked three years since 2018 March 04, when Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum, 35, was abducted from international waters and forcibly returned to Dubai.

Earlier that year, she planned to escape Dubai with the help of friend Tiina Jauhiainen. They boarded a U.S.-flagged yacht and crossed the Indian Ocean, with plans for Latifa to fly to the U.S. and seek asylum.

This plan came to a nightmarish end when Indian and Emirati military forces intercepted the boat, illegally, when it was sailing in international waters. Despite her pleas for asylum, Latifa was tranquilized and flown back to Dubai by private jet. She has been confined ever since.

The international community should step aup and help Latifa. Latifa is just an example of many men and women who are experiencing similar situations and are hopeless and muted, because nobody knows them.

Helping Latifa can bring hope to many others who are suffering from same situation. It’s a matter of human rights so it needs real human action. Please step up and start action. Spread the news, ask governments, and do something you can. This specially needs help from governments who pretend/claim human rights is important to them.

Additionally, it’s very good to sign this petition: FREE PRINCESS LATIFA AL MAKTOUM – #FreeLatifa.

Red Hand Day

On Red Hand Day or the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, February 12 each year since 2002, pleas are made to political leaders and events are staged around the world to draw attention to child soldiers: children under the age of 18 who participate in military organizations of all kinds.

The aim of Red Hand Day is to call for action to stop this practice, and for support for children affected by it.

Hundreds and thousands of handprints have been collected in more than 50 countries and handed over to politicians and to responsible parties, including UN Secretary General. There is progress, but there are still 250,000 child soldiers in the world.

Our demands are

  • Straight 18: No child under the age of 18 may be used or trained in armies, armed groups or other military units.
  • Punishment of those responsible.
  • Care, protection, and political asylum for former child soldiers.
  • Expand financial support for aid programs for child soldiers.
  • Stop of arms exports.
  • Promotion of peace education.

Mehrdad Minavand and Ali Ansarian, two of most famous ex-football players in Iran are now dead because of coronavirus. Mehrdad was 45 and Ali was 43; both very young and healthy.

Last time they were with each other, they were presenting at a sports TV show sitting next to each other when Mehrdad said on live TV that he doesn’t feel well and then fell. It is believed that Ali was infected in that TV show. They weren’t wearing masks and were sitting closely.

Sadly, many believe that the virus only affects old people and young people are immune to it. Many think the chances of surviving are high, while it’s only a chance. You may be on that few percent part where people die.

Ali Ansarian and Mehrdad Minavand are just two examples of many many young people who are not among us any more, sadly. Even if you don’t want safety for yourself, please wear a mask and keep your distance from people so you won’t spread the virus.

Some people are infected with it but don’t get ill but this doesn’t mean that the virus is not effective on people, you still can spread the virus and endanger people’s lives.

Think about it, you’ll be a murderer if you spread the virus and people die from it.

Please wash your hands regularly, keep your distance from people, and most importantly wear a N95 mask. Please don’t listen to media that is trying to convince you do otherwise. Instead of media, listen to scientists and doctors.

I know the vaccine is in production and some people are vaccinated but it may take long till we all get vaccinated so please until then, follow the protocols and keep safe.

Black History Month is an annual observance began as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora.

In the United States and Canada, the month begins/is celebrated in February while in Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom it is observed in October.

The precursor to Black History Month was created in 1926 in the United States, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week”.

This week was chosen because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass on February 14, both of which dates black communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century.

Negro History Week was the center of the equation. The thought-process behind the week was never recorded, but scholars acknowledge two reasons for its birth: recognition and importance. Woodson felt deeply that at least one week would allow for the general movement to become something annually celebrated.

Systematic racism and inequality is a problem not only in the United States, but all around the world. We may not face it on a daily basis but there are people who are constantly facing problems simply because of their skin color.

We see blue pigs shooting black people for no reason, companies don’t hire non-white people, people discriminating against race minorities, and many other stuff. We believe, at least in US, racism is systematic because federal agencies and government does not do anything against it.

We believe we have a systematic racism because we see how government is doing nothing to make racism go away. This should stop. The Black History Month may be a good time for us to educate each other about race and culture and our differences as well as demanding an end to racism.

Data Privacy Day

Every year on January 28, we celebrate the international event of Data Privacy Day. The purpose of Data Privacy Day is to raise awareness and promote privacy and data protection best practices.

Privacy is a human right. Many people confuse privacy with secrecy and anonymity. While privacy is a human right, anonymity is a choice. Anonymity is one of choices and rights made possible with privacy.

I’m very careful about my privacy and I take it very seriously while I’m not an anonymous person. I don’t have anything to hide, except for my personal data, but I’m still very cautious about privacy. Privacy is like free speech. I respect my right about it even if I have nothing to say, or hide.

As Data Privacy Day is about raising awareness about best practices of it, I decided to write a note about one of the ways I keep my personal files secure which is encryption.

Continue reading

December 25 is the birthday of Isaac Newton. On this day, we celebrate the existence of comprehensible physical laws and we call it Newtonmas or Grav-mass.

The name Newtonmas can be attributed to The Skeptics Society, which needed an alternative name for its Christmas party.

Celebrants send cards with “Reason’s Greetings!” printed inside, and exchange boxes of apples and science-related items as gifts. The celebration may have had its origin in a meeting of the Newton Association at Christmas 1890 to talk, distribute gifts, and share laughter and good cheer.

One other way to celebrate Grav-mass is to decorate a tree with apples and other fruits. Glue them or attach them, but not too well! The idea is that occasionally a fruit should fall.

Another way to celebrate Grav-mass, in a group, is by telling each other about scientific knowledge and understanding, or discussing what kind of experiment could answer an unresolved question about the world.

A Grav-Mass tree
A Grav-mass tree poster

Newtonmass can be celebrated by anybody who loves science and wants to have a reason for a celebration. It’s not exclusive to any specific group or belief.

This is an email message I just received. Autistici/Inventati, one of the very great privacy-advocating collectives is now 20 years old. A very happy birthday to you A/I. We wish you a great 20 more, and more.

Twenty years have passed since the birth of Autistici/Inventati. Twenty years have passed since we ventured down this quite complicated road. Like any respectable end of the year, it is again time for evaluations. End of the year balances are mostly political rather than financial for us, although we cannot deny that we will, as always, ask you to support us economically.

Twenty years ago nobody did what we do. And even today nobody does it the way we do it. This is important to remember because 20 years of work to keep our project alive and functional, relying EXCLUSIVELY on the efforts of the volunteers involved and the spontaneous donations from our users deserve special attention.

Today is very easy to obtain an e-mail address or the space to host a website for free, and we know that mailing lists are mostly replaced by the millions of group chats provided by the various instant messaging platforms. But we think that today it is much more difficult to find a free space where is possible to organize alternatives to the existing. Without alternative places there are no alternative thoughts, without spaces where it is possible to practice other ways of living, organize and imagine different worlds, it is not possible to change the existing one.

2020 has not only been cruel in terms of loss of human lives, it also brought greater difficulty in imagining and practicing change. We do understand how difficult it is to think about change when one has to come to terms with the sudden psychological in as much as social isolation we came to notice , that we recently came to notice. We have been locked down and wedged between the responsibilities towards others and the emergency that leaves no room for alternatives. Some think that 2020 has only actually made more evident how the struggles for an alternative world have become marginal. But the world will also exist in 2021, probably not very differently from 2020, and we will still need to think and practice something completely different.

As always, we do not think that this is possible in spaces that are commodified, monitored, profiled and constantly abused by those who profit from our every word and our every byte. We don’t believe in narratives condemning collectively responsible behavior either: as if it were some sort of weakness or a moniker of slavery. As if the logic of self-interest, laziness or indifference could communicate any sort of value, ie. self-determination, supposedly to be reclaimed, precisely when biology reminds us that no one is free unitl everyone is free.

The bitterness we feel this year isn’t in fact just related to the digital realms. Obviously we feel a strong need for more solidarity: we think that solidarity is unfortunately often lacking both in the priorities that determine the evolution of the real world situation, and in the narrative that derives from it. To say that never like this year there has been a stronger need for solidarity is stating the obvious, but we still feel the need to say it, not only in words, but also with our work, which in 2020 has often had the objective of answering the new needs that the emergency has brought up to the surface.

A piece of work is in fact up to us, to try to provide even more appropriate, effective and usable tools. Coherently with the needs that emerged in 2020, we have added two new services:

https://vc.autistici.org – a jitsi instance for videoconferencing
https://live.autistici.org – a live video streaming platform

They do not require authentication and do not log your data, a combination of features we believe can help change the common attitude we see in relating to technology today.

But outside the digital sphere, practicing change is also a social and common exercise, to which everyone must contribute individually. We have the firm intention of being there. Together.

Some wrote to us saying that the ideas we have expressed in our twenty years old, lyrical manifesto, are obsolete and “out of place” in today’s world. Quite the opposite, we think that they are still exactly the perspective that is missing today. We are not going to change our path. We intend to help change what surrounds us, together with the people around us. This is the way (cit.)

This is what we have always done and what we have always believed in. And it has never been easy. We hope to be able to do it together with the comrades who have been with us all the way here and with the many others who will join us further along the way.

If you want to be part of the next twenty years as you have been in these first twenty, you know where to find us and where to direct those who share our values: https://www.autistici.org/get_service

We take care of the work. But financial support is vital, since we only exist thanks to your donations: https://www.autistici.org/donate

The Autistici-Inventati collective
https://www.autistici.org
donations: https://www.autistici.org/donate
help: help@autistici.org

Lisa Montgomery is on death row and she is waiting for 2021 January 12 for her sentence to be executed. Execution is murder and nobody, with no reason, deserves to die. Execution doesn’t make society safe, and it certainly is not a fair sentence.

Death is a brutal sentence. Ms. Montgomery was the victim of an extreme level of physical and sexual abuse throughout her life against which the state never provided protection and for which it failed to offer remedies.

Now, as the Bully administration moves forward with a federal killing spree in the lame duck period, a group of United Nations rights experts on Thursday urged the U.S. government to halt the planned execution of Lisa Montgomery—a convicted murderer who suffered horrific abuse throughout her life.

She would be the first woman to die by federal execution in nearly 70 years. She’s been described as “profoundly mentally ill” and “the most broken of the broken.”

In their joint statement, the special rapporteurs and other human rights experts say Montgomery was repeatedly “betrayed” by state authorities, pointing in part to her legal defense that failed to adequately address her mental health.

“Ms. Montgomery was the victim of an extreme level of physical and sexual abuse throughout her life against which the state never provided protection and for which it failed to offer remedies. She suffered from several mental health conditions which the state failed to care for,” the experts wrote.

Please demand an stop on her death sentence and save her life. Save a life by speaking out. It’s a matter of life or death for a human being.