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EVIN: A hotel named after a concentration camp

Hi Michael,
When somebody through facebook forwarded this sequence of nocturnal images from Teheran to me, I was almost prompted to ask if this is really the same place one knows from the news headlines of protests or from Ahadis movie "Green Wave".
Suddenly, it look more like a tourist promo for Beirut. Even during my last visit to Teheran in 2008, I have not seen the city in such glamour like here in this Youtube scenes.

but suddenly, at around 3:22 min a very short picture showed a neon-sign pointing to a "Hotel Evin", that convinced me it is Iran. Would like to know, is there really a Hotel in Teheran that carries the same name as the prison notorious for all the violence ? Which hotel owner would call its business after a place of death and violence ? And who are the customers booking in a hotel with this name ?


I heard the most horrible reports about Evin and other prisons, people in particular political prisoners are tortured there with pure saddism using physical and psychic violence in the most inhuman manner. People are killed there systematically. I feel anger imagine somebodies calls a hotel after this place of horror. When we visited last year with Shava the concentration camp near Munich (think it was called Dachau), at least people respected the memory of all those who lost their lives there. Nobody would consider calling a Hotel after this place Dachau, don"t you think so ?

Hope everything is fine with you, Take Care


Human Rights Award for Iranian Blogger

Shiva Nazar Ahari , iranian blogger and political activist, received the Theodor-Haecker-Award for her courageous fight for human rights in Iran. In her blogs Azad Zan and Committee of Human Rights Reporters Mrs. Ahari makes public the violence of the IRI authorities against the iranian people. From her own experiences, she describes the physical and mental oppression at Evin prison.

She was sentenced in September 2010 with the allegation of Mohareb and imprissoned again, but had to be released later after rising international protests. The award to Mrs. Ahari is named after Theodor Haecker, a german philosopher and writer who stood in opposition against the Nazi regime. Former recipients of the award are Kitwe Mulunda Guy (Kongo), Judith Galarza (Mexico), Eren Keskin (Turkey), Salima Ghezali (Algeria)and Jehan Sadat (Egypt).

A Night Walk at Full Moon

Hi Michael,

I just arrived at home, after driving my friends home. Very tired. I sweared to myself I wont do this any more. You know what happened ? In the middle of the night, more than a kilometer from home, my car stoped without any obvious reasons (Except for a loud noise that came from somewhere under it). Hey, what is that with your german cars? It is a Benz (o.k., not very young any more), how can it just let me stand alone on the road in the middle of the night ? The disgusting thing was that my mobile also was low on battery, so can you imagine I had to walk home at 2 o"clock a.m.?
My only rescue was the bright, full moon. It was so strong, that I could always see my moon-shadow.

Hope you are fine, sleep well.


Ghazal my Dear,

Poor you, must be a frightening experience to walk home in the middle of the night. I guess it was not the kind of walk that you liked so much here in Munich, to let you thoughts flow and to recharge your vitamine D pool in the sun. I have to estimate, if and how much moon-light is any good to synthesize it. But I guess it has no UV-A, what do you think ? By the way, wouldn"t it be a interesting project to study in photobiology in cells using moon-light ?
So you worked as a driver again. I suspect people exploit your reluctance to drink any alcohol at the party and invite you as the driver.
The moon was visible here as well. If you can, make a photo of your moon shaddow.
The one below I did in our garden.

Take Care, my Cat on the Moon,


Salman Rushdie about Chernobyl

Dear michael,
Finally, I gave the talk about my MSc thesis today here in the institute, and as you expected, people were much more interested to discuss the implications of the Fukushima accident (which of course also has to do with radio-iodine) than the genetic studies I did last year in Munich. I doubt if people could really estimate what we found out with you doing the genetic studies in mice.
Before giving the talk to my colleagues, I practised a bid at home and did the same presentation at home to my family. My parents were much more interested in the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, which I used as introduction to explaine the importance of the radio-iodine incorporation studies. I now understand why: When the Chernobyl disaster happened, I was exactly 10 month old, so according to all the studies that I read for my thesis, I was at the most sensitive age when the radioactive cloud reached Sweden. You see how differently people anticipate events: Nowadays everybody is worried about the Fukushima disaster from 3 weeks ago, whereas my parents are obviously still worried if their daughter might have been affected by the Chernobyl fall-out.
My dad, who is always very interested in names and their meaning wanted to know what this "Chernobyl" means. But my mom immediately shouted "Who cares about names, if the only daughter we have might have been irradiated". Thanks god I could relieve her anxiety by showing the graphs from my thesis about the latency time of thyroid-cancer, and she understoud that the danger is already very low for me cause I"m old enough ("Eh Vay, old enough for what? Who can tell me"). Now, Mom could lean back again and Dad came back to his question about the meaning of "Chernobyl". I still remembered that you once told me it is the russian and ukrainian word for Artemesia, a shrub used as herb for cooking and in traditional chinese medicine. Since dad is not so specialized in botanics, he looked it up in his precious Encyclopedia Iranica and found something interesting: Artemisia (or Wormwood) is called in turkish Shaybani, and this was also the name of an invader that came in the 16th century from middle asia (Usbekistan, where you got your Polou-recipie from) to Iran. His persian name was شیبک خان ازبک
and he defeated Barbur, the first ruler of the Moguln-empire. Since the persian Shah Ismail began to fear that Shaybani might look for other neighboured countries to conquer, he attacked him in the battle of Marv. Shaybani was killed in this battle and parts of his body send by Shah Ismail to other leaders of neighboured empires as a warning.
My Dad told us all these stories of wars, victories and defeates with great passion. But Mom and myself as usual questioned the meaning of this for the progress of civilization and for the goal of human happiness. We suspected that in all these heroic stories of the battles between nations and empires, the million tears and lost lives were forgotten. Neither my Dad nor the encyclopedia iranica knew anything about the families of Shaybani, Emir of Buchara, of Barbur, the first Moguln ruler or of Shah Ismail of Persia. During these persistent fights to expand their empires or to defend it against the attacks from enemies, they were virtually rarely at home. Who were looking after their wives and children ? If today a husband and father would be absent from home so frequently, I guess the department for child care or some family judges would fine hime.

Hope you don"t have these problems, and even though you spend much time in the lab and at scientific meetings, your family does not feel neglected.
Hope you are doing fine, Take Care


Ghazal my Dear,

I think I am not as bad as the military leaders of these historical times you describe in your mail. At least I always stay in contact with home, using mobile phone or skype ;-)

The history of the rise and fall of the persian empire in the 16th century, its defeat by the ottoman empire in the west and its link with the rise of the Moguln empire in the east is the background of Salman Rushdie"s novel "The Enchanting Florentine". If you read it, you will be able to tell your dad the more private side of Shaybani, Barbur and Shah Ismail, because in this novel Rushie introduces a "lost" sister of Barbur. Her name is Qara Köz (or "black eyes") , and she first becomes wife of Shaybani, than of Shah Ismail and finally of the ottoman general Argul, who is originally italianian and defeats Shah Ismail. The novel uses this magic realismen to show how a young, beautiful woman always changes from one winning horse to the next. But it also shows the price she has to pay for it, that she never really builds a home for herself and never raises children. This at least is the state on page 367, and there are another 108 to come. Maybe I read them tonight, maybe there will be an happy end for her.

In case there wont be a happy end for Qara Köz, do you want me to tell you the rest of the novel ?
Hope you have a nice evening, enjoy the spring, relax and don"t use your brother automatic e-mail-response program to send me an answer.

Take Care, my Dear


ELIZA - The Phantastic Answering Machine

Dear Michael,
sometimes I wonder about how much we trust in the electronic communication, that one person writes some words to another person thousands of km away, and these words are converted into a sequence of bits and rush through computer chips and are converted into electric pulses or light waves, send back and forth to satellites until they finally reach the recipient. And the recipient for some reason does not question that the words he reads in the message are nothing else but the written thoughts that his friend has hammered into the keyboard thousands of km away.
Shouldn"t we be more cautious about the messages we receive day by day ? I don"t mean the mail I receive from you, I"m always sure that they come from you, cause they have their very unique style and always contain some code-words that mark them as authentic. But my younger brother, who is studying IT technology in the 2nd course now has shown me something they are doing currently. They got the project to develop a computer program that is able to write "fake answers" to an e-mail. I don"t know how they are doing it, but the program searches for some keywords in an incomming message, and than replies with some sort of standard sentences (that are usually not very complex or intelligent) which again contain the same keywords.
So my dear brother asked me to test his program. Therefore I send him an e-mail and within some micro-seconds already got an answer:

My Dear Brother,
I send you my best wishes to persian New-Year. Did you received my present that I send you by post ? When I packed the parcel I cut my fingers with the scissors and had to put bandage on and now I can only use my left hand. I went with Shava to the mountains on Saturday, because with an injured finger the only proper thing to do is to go out for a walk in nature. We would have liked to stay there till Sunday, but I have no time because I have to prepare for the lecture at college. The students of the new curse will arrive tomorrow, and they want to be entertained properly. I hope you doing well and work hard to become the next Bill Gates or J.v.Neumann.
In love, your sister

No have a look at the answer I received instantly from his program:

"Dear Sister,
O, I did not knew there was persian New-Year. What present you send, I did not received anything. O, you cut your fingers ? Interesting, why you need the scissors for this ! Did Shava liked the mountains ? What else did you do on Saturday ? So the students will come. I hope they will have fun.

Take Care
/your brother"

And now, what you think ? Do you find that the program is doing a good job ? I know my brother was never very keen sending long letters to anybody, but at least he put his own (crazy) ideas into it. But the program that he wrote virtually only repeats what I wrote in my original message. I think it is better to carry on writing down our thoughts, even though the answers may take a bid longer.

Hope everything is fine with you, Good Night.


Ghazal my Dear,
So funny to read your experiences with your brother. Thanks god, it is just a technical project that sends you such standard and formal letters in response to a mail. The quality of a machine-based artificial intelligence was actully tested by one of the earliest and most influential computer scientist (Alan Turing) by setting up a similar device that you and your borther were using. Turing suggested, that an experimentalist should do two verbal dialogues in parallel behind two black curtains. Behind one of the curtains a human person should sit to conduct a dialogue with him, wherease behind the other curtain the artificial-intelligence machine had to be placed. If the experimentalist could not tell after a certain time where the talking machine was and where the person was, than according to A.Turing the machine has passed the criteria of having indeed artificial intelligence.
But I could imagine, that this also depends a lot on the experimentalist. Simple-minded people might get fooled very easily, they might even think that a mail-response from your brothers program comes from a real person. Other people who read and wright a lot are probably much more critical. I could imagine that you are extremely critical. I think it will not be possible for any machine to fool you. You have somethink like a seventh sense to tell what is real and what is fake.

There were several attempts among IT freaks to beat Alan Turings test. They were called Chatter-Bots and among them ELIZA was probably the most famous. ELIZA was such an artifical language dialoge program developed at MIT. The exciting thing was that it should play the role of a psychoanalyst, talking to a patient. When Weizenbaum developed ELIZA, it was the time of Flower-Power, Hippie-Music and mind-extending drugs for the young, but the elder generation discovered the healing power of psycho-therapy. I guess this was the motivation for Weizenbaum designing ELIZA as a psychatrists chatter-bot. But even though ELIZA impressed some people really a lot (they were told that the doctor has a bad flue and therefore talks to them from behind a courtain), dedicated linguists that used the Turing Test could tell that it was only a machine.

I hope you can sleep well and don"t carry on endless dialogues with a machine in your dreams.

Take Care, Ghazal,


Hi Michael,
a last remark before midnight: Do you know why the computer program by Weizenbaum, that could participate in seemingly meaningful dialogues, was called ELIZA ? There was the character of Eliza Dolittle, a simple, uneducated person with a very basic language in G.B.Shaws play "Pigmalion" (later in the funny musical "May Fair Lady"). Two university professors, one of them was Mr. Higgins, made a bet: Higgins promised that he will "re-educate" Eliza Dolitte with brute force, give her not just elegant clothes but also a new language. And he will guide Eliza Dolittle to a reception of the high society and nobody should recognised that before she was selling flowers on the market every day. Guess what happend ?

Take care


Hi Ghazal my Dear,

What is wrong with a girl that sells flowers all day long ?
(See, now you caught me responding to you in the answering-machine-style ;-).
I promise I wont do it again. But don"t expect me to read G.B.Shaws "Pygmalion" now to answer your question. It is already after midnight, and I have to go for a walk with our dog.

I"ll tell you tomorrow about what I think about Eliza Dolittles qualities as a chatter-bot.

Take Care, Good Night


Why the Fukushima nuclear disaster is good for nature

It is always worth to follow Monthy Pythons advise and ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE, even in case of an accident that is univocally considered a major disaster for the civilized world and in Japan the biggest catastrophy since their defeat in WW2. At least here in Germany, the most prominent critics of nuclear energy are the greens, in close alliance with WWF and Greenpeace. And as we all know how well and absolutely predictable this german Angst works it was no wonder that the Green Party managed to kick-out the conservative christian-democrats from their stronghold in Baden-Wuertemberg. They just had to point to Fukushima and reminding every voter in their state that it were always the cristian-democrats who support nuclear energy.

This, on the first glance, looked very straight for the green party, a clear "full-house" so to say. But in fact, they might have even won twice: Fukushima not only presented them the prime-minister post of Baden-Wuertemberg on a silver plate, but the long-term and global benefits of this "accident" might be even more important. I"m talking here about the whales and dolphins, who over the last years were slaughtered by the thousands to satisfy the desire of the japanese cuisine. Not the UN, nor Greenpeace or WWF could achieve, what the Fukushima accident did: a natural protection for these big naval mammals for at least one generation of animals. Remember, caesium 137, the strong gamma-isotope that was released into the japanese sea and into the pacific, has a physical half-life time of 30 years, and its biological half life time is not much shorter. It preferentially accumulates in the muscle-tissue of mammals, including whales and dolphins. For them, it does not bear a real health risk, so nobody of us should worry, and if Greenpeace and WWF do so, we all know it is just their business to beat the drum. In fact, muscle tissue is one of the most radio-resistent, so whales and dolphins will live as good or as bad as without caesium-137 in the ocean. But for us humans, since we always worry and we made the german Angst one of our best export-goods, any knowledge that some single atoms caesium-137 are in our steak or Sushi or Miso-Soup makes us sick right away. So the japanese whale-hunters and the violent Dolphin-Killers in Taiji will face some tough years to come. I guess the sale for whale and dolphin meat will drop by 99% soon. And unless some hard-liners such as Mr. "I-take-some-days-off"-Shimizu of Tepco, or Mr."My-blue-jackets-is-a-fake-Levis"-Edano of the gouvernment or his imperial highness Mr."I-love-you-all"-Akihito eat in front of the TV-cameras and on their web-sites some whale-sushi and dolphin-soup, the popularity of japanese sea-food would loose even more ground.
We all know instinctively, that there always must be light, when there is shadow. Or as a good friend of mine who was cought by the idea of physical laws-of-conservation ones formulated it: "For every person on earth who stops crying, another one has to break-out in tears. The sum of all the tears in the world is therefore a fixed number." Hence, we should not feel too much mercy seeing the japanese nuclear manager spreading their tears around and mourning in public and begging for pardon. We must know: for the whales and dolphins now starts a great time, they will live for the next decades a life without fear. Like the Jews still celebrate Purim as the rescue from a masacre planned by the persian minister Haman in the 5th century BC, such will the whales and the dolphins always commemorate the year 2011, when a devine hand blow up the Fukushima reactors and spilled the caesium-137 broth into the ocean to mark all naval mammals as unedible and unhuntable.
Or would it be possible that it was not God in his wise decision, who first triggered the earth-quake and than the tsunami, that hit Fukushima so badly ? Could it be that all the whales and the dolphins of the world came together on March 11th, to make a big, big wave, much bigger than the mini-tsunamis that our kids like to do at home in the bathing-tube ? A wave that hit the coolant-pumps and auxilary generators and electricity supply in Fukushima ? Don"t forget, how intelligent whales and dolphins can be: If you have ever seenw the movie "Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe", you remember how they could smell the coming disaster and with a smile on their face (which in fact they always have) they said "So long, and thanks for all the fish".
Does not matter who really did it, intelligent creatures (like the whales or dolphins) or a super-super-intelligent creature (like God or the WWF), finally we should understand that it was worth it. This little nervous break down around a japanse nuclear facility rescued the future life of our most loved naval creatures.



Give me your beautiful red color
And take back my sickly pallor!

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