Saturday, December 29, 2007

Injustice, Meaning and Purpose

Barbara Jamison led a seminar studying two letters from the Universal House of Justice. The first was written December 21, 2006 to the Baha'is of Egypt, and the second was written September 9, 2007 to Baha'i students deprived of access to higher education in Iran. Both of these communities have a long history of repression at the hands of the governments of their lands.

In Egypt, the constitution recognizes only Judaism, Christianity and Islam as official religions, and only citizens who declare one of these as their religion are given the state issued ID cards which gives them rights as citizens. The Baha'is are not asking for official recognition as a religion, but rather to be allowed to receive ID cards without having to lie about their religion. The case is schedule to be heard (again) by the courts in Egypt in January.

In Iran, the government has for at least three decades denied Baha'is access to higher education. The case has been taken up by the United Nations and many groups and organizations around the world have voiced their concern. Iran remains recalcitrant in its position.

The letters to these two communities both outlined the issues, the history behind the issues, and then provided encouragement to those communities in the actions they are to take while suffering under the yoke of oppression. I'll have to admit, it's not your average bit of instruction.

In the case of the Baha'is of Egypt, after outlining the history of the oppression, the Universal House of Justice calls upon the Baha'is to view their plight as a part of the injustice suffered by peoples throughout the world.

This is no time, however, to dwell on a litany of vexations your community has for so long sustained. It is, rather, an appropriate occasion for reflection on the broad context in which the recent action of the Supreme Administrative Court occur ed, that from it you may derive an ever-larger sense of meaning and purpose.

Injustice is rife. Throughout the world it afflicts every department of life whether in the home, at the workplace, or in the public sphere as a consequence of the ill conduct of individuals, groups, or governments. Lamenting the horrors it breeds, Baha'u'llah made this poignant remark: "Justice is, in this day, bewailing its plight, and Equity groaneth beneath the yoke of oppression. The thick clouds of tyranny have darkened the face of the earth, and enveloped its peoples." So grave a situation exists at a time of unprecedented change: opposite processes of chaos and of order interact in a spiral of turbulence that signals a transition in the spiritual and social agenda of the world as a whole.

Human society has arrived at a stage in its evolution when unity of the whole human race is imperative. to not appreciate this reality is to not grasp the meaning of the current crisis in world affairs. The principle of the oneness of humankind identifies the code of resolving the far-reaching issues involved. As Baha'is, you understand that this principle implies not only the ultimate peaceful goal that it signifies but involves, as well, your participation in the painful tasks entailed in attaining it. Hence, you appreciate the global connotations of instances of oppression at home or abroad and accept the responsibility of striving, guided by the principles of the Faith and in collaboration with others whenever possible, to combat injustice, for the common good.
So, the call is not to just battle your own oppression, but to accept the responsibility and the painful task of striving to combat injustice for the common good. Attention is then turned to the groups in Egypt who are supporting the Baha'is, and the ultimate destiny of Egypt.

Those groups supporting you in your current encounter are of a world-embracing vision and are themselves prepared to withstand the harsh resistance to their selfless occupation, sustaining blows of injustice in the process. As the rise of justice ensures the appearance of unity in the world, all who take on the formidable challenges of struggling for it have indeed captured the spirit of the age epitomized in the principle of oneness. to the extent that the fight for justice contributes to the establishment of a single global standard of human rights, the organizations in Egypt so engaged are working towards achieving the unification of their nation's peoples. They are thus committing themselves in large measure to the vital task of reconciling the tensions that bedevil their society and delay the attainment of its unity. Such reconciliation should not be impossible to Egypt's people, who can take pride in the celebrated enlightenment that in a glorious past ensured their unity in a flourishing society. Undoubtedly, Egypt will rise to participate, as befits its stature, in the fruition of that destiny of world peace and prosperity of which all nations dream.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Instincts and Morals

Today's presentation by Shamil Fattakhov, at the Marianas International Baha'i Winter School, covered the subject of Instincts and Morals. I'll have to admit, that somewhere along the way, I think I missed something major, but here is what I got out of it.

Instinct can be defined as an inborn pattern of activity or tendency to action or a natural or innate impulse, inclination or tendency. Instincts are complex reflexes -- generally automatic actions. he asked the question, "What is the difference between the instincts of a human being, and those of an animal?" After some discussion, the participants agreed that at the level of instinct, there are no differences between the instincts of an animal and those of a human. Biologists have identified four basic instincts: the instinct for self-preservation/survival; the instinct for food; the instinct for reproduction; and the instinct for territory. All of these are related to survival, but each is a separate instinct that animals and humans possess.

So, then, what differentiates humans from animals? As a species, it would have to be the power of intellect. Humans have a higher intelligence that is an overlay onto the instincts. It's a sort of reasoning power, but also an evaluative power. It is this capacity for intellect, which is an expression of consciousness and an expression of the human soul, that allows for decision-making, free-will, and the emergence of values such as "right" and "wrong." Animals, lack this capacity of evaluating "right" and "wrong", "good" and "bad", "vice" and "virtue." And as such in their world, they are none of these. They simply exist and function at the level of instinct.

However, instinct is the source of morals, because every instinct, from the human perspective can be pursued in a way that results in either vice or virtue.

We went through an exercise of taking each instinct and coming up with the vices and virtues of expressing that instinct.

For example, the vices of "self-preservation" on an individual and a social level could include war, anger, lying, murder, exploitation, accumulation of excessive wealth, espionage, negative campaigning, backbiting, etc. While on the other side, virtuous or positive expressions of "self-preservation" could include such things as cooperation, resourcefulness, individual initiative, family, justice, hard work, good governance, and planning.

Vices related to pursuit of food could include overeating, exploitation of the environment, cruelty to animals, the proliferation of cooking shows (that one was my idea), withholding food as a means of coercion, and the like. Virtues could be health and energy, hospitality, means of sharing culture, bonding, pleasure, detachment and self-discipline, and expressions of generosity and charity.

Vices related to the drive for reproduction/sex are such things as promiscuity, prostitution, human trafficking, overpopulation, population manipulation through government policies (think "one child" policy), pornography, lust. Virtues might include love, intimacy, children, pleasure, faithfulness and fidelity.

Vices related to the territorial instinct would include nationalism, racial and ethnic discrimination, trade barriers, xenophobia. Virtues include sane patriotism, environmentalism, pride in ones culture and homeland, a sense of home and of sharing one's home.

This is just the stuff we came up with -- the lists could be endless, depending on how broadly you want to address each subject. Now, the job of the human being -- the process of "becoming moral" -- is to take each of these instincts which we recognize are natural, and to weed out the vices associated with them, and to nurture the virtues related to them.

(Like I said, I think I may have missed something major in the presentation, or else my brain hasn't yet made some seminal connection, but this is what I came away with).

I found this a helpful way to think about some of the social issues we now face in Saipan. For example, there is plenty of discussion surrounding this issue immigration and federalization. The territorial instinct is a natural one, however, it's expression can have two very different directions. The nationalism and xenophobia and racism that is becoming vocal is a negative expression of this instinct. I think most of the population recognizes that it's basically a perverted expression of the territorial instinct -- it lacks elements of morality.

The whole discussion bought to mind one of the purposes of life as delineated in the Baha'i writings: to acquire virtues.

Bushido and the Traditional Japanese Moral Education

The second speaker yesterday at the Mariana Islands International Baha'i Winter School was Nozomu Sonda from Japan, who spoke on "Bushido and Traditional Japanese Moral Education." Bushido translates as "the way of the warrior," and refers to the code of ethics of the Samurai. He did a Kendo demonstration (bamboo sword), and discussed how the code of the Samurai continues to influence Japanese moral development through the practice of Kendo, which is one of the "sports" practiced by many Japanese high-school students. Bushido has its sources in Zen Buddhism, Shinto and Confucianism. The eight primary virtues of Bushido are
  1. Rectitude/Justice
  2. Courage
  3. Benevolence
  4. Politeness
  5. Veracity/Sincerity
  6. Honor
  7. Loyalty
  8. Self-Control

He explored the meaning of each of these in both the context of the Samurai and in the context of modern Japanese society, and highlighted commonalities with the virtues extolled in the Baha'i Faith as well as other world religions.

What are the sources of moral education in our traditional cultures? We've recently had hot discussion of "respect" as the foundational moral cultural value for Pacific Islanders and specifically the Chamorro culture.

People's Theatre

The first speaker of the day was Sahmil Fattakhov, a Russian film-maker and journalist with background in conflict resolution, who as a host of a TV talk show, began to explore issues of social concern through presenting skits that would escalate around some point of conflict, stop the skit at its climax, and then ask the audience members to suggest solutions to the conflicts. "So, you think the father should do this in this situation. Come on up here, and act out that part for us," and the drama would continue, using the collective wisdom of the audience. The format, which has been adopted in many places in the world, is sometimes referred to as "People's Theater." He tends to pick hot, complex topics that people generally don't talk about... things like a Albanian daughter coming home to tell her parents she's fallen in love and wants to get married... to a Macedonian (this was performed just after the war in Macedonia).

The goals of the "theatre" are sixfold:

  1. To establish the highest moral principle governing the topic.
  2. To clarify the essence of the problem or issue.
  3. To establish the necessity and possibility of its resolution.
  4. To seek to find practical positive ways of resolving the problem by means of consultation.
  5. To share experiences, enrich each other's knowledge and understanding on moral issues, and to use the accumulated wisdom of humanity to do so.
  6. To inspire the audience and to encourage the participation to act in a positive, moral way, to develop their own moral capacities.
I found the whole discussion fascinating. Mr. Fattakhov pointed out that so often, particularly in dilemma facing youth, they take action based on the feeling that "I had no choice" and that the process helps people see that every situation presents choices. Part of his work involves training communities to develop their own "People's Theatre". The five-day training includes instruction on developing skits, choosing topics, and moderating the whole process. I want to explore this a bit more. It sounded like the exact sort of thing we could use in our community. Anyone out there on Saipan interested in exploring this?

In the Company of Vibrant People

A few weeks ago, the Pacific Islands Health Officers Association (PIHOA) held their conference in Saipan. The annual conferences gather health officials from throughout the Pacific, along with big-wigs from the US who are involved with Pacific health. I didn't attend the conference, since I'm not a health official, but on the last evening, they held a reception at the Hyatt, and the Secretary of Health invited me to attend. There were health officials there from around the Pacific, people from the Institute of Medicine and CDC, researchers and demographers from US universities, a four star general from Tripler, people from a private company who continue to administer the care of the people affected by nuclear testing in teh Marshall Islands, and a whole host of similar folks. It was energizing, simply because it was nice to be in the company of a vibrant group of people who were focused on making things better in a constructive way. Sure, they were grappling with complex problems, and limited resources, but they were happy, engaged, and solution oriented. I realized how much I missed this.

I'm having the same experience right now in Guam. I'm attending the Mariana Islands International Baha'i Winter School. There are people here from the Marianas, the Federates States of Micronesia, the US, Australia, Japan, Korea and Russia, striving to understand and apply principles for a better world. In the Marians, we started holding these longer five-day "schools"/conferences about four years ago. The purpose of such schools, is summarized in the following couple of sentences:

"The world is undoubtedly facing a great crisis and the social economic and political conditions are daily becoming more complex. Should the friends desire to take the lead in informing the world, they should start by educating themselves and understand what the troubles and problems really are which baffle the minds of men. "
As I read this, I realized that to some extent, the people that I enjoy hanging out with are those that are involved in this kind of stuff -- vibrant enthusiastic people looking to understand and address issues that baffle the minds of people. This is what we're doing here in Guam this week. Yesterday was the first day, and both speakers addressed issues related to character, ethics and morals. I'm going to break up the summary of their talks into separate posts.

As an aside, I've been doing some reading recently on the reasons that religion is, to a large extent, irrelevant these days. In large part is has to do with the inabilty of religions to address modern concerns. I'd like to post a few paragraphs from the document I'm reading, "One Common Faith," but I'll do that separately as well. It's a couple of pages long.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wacko of the Week

So, I get back from my trip to find that some guy has left a bunch of messages for me, giving me his name, address, credit card number, the secret code on the card to make charges, and requesting that I please send his order as soon as possible. I have no idea what he's talking about so his last message is helpful -- a paniced sort of, "Never mind, I had the wrong number. Please delete all my personal data," and he ends by saying, "I repeat. Delete my credit card number. I'm being very stern about this."

Poor guy. It's been ten days since he left these messages, and he's likely considering whether or not to cancel his credit card, so I figure, I'll give him a call to reassure him that I'm not storing his credit card number and hopefully give him some peace of mind on Christmas.

He's got a Canadian area code. I call him up.

"Hi, Is this James?"
"Who's this?"
"This is David Khorram. You left some messages with me about 10 days ago and called later to let me know you had the wrong number and to delete your credit card information."
"Yeah, so?"
"I just wanted to call you to let you know that I deleted your information."
"Well, even if you didn't I already called my credit card number, eh. And they're looking out for any monkey business, eh, so you better not use it."
"I know how concerning it can be to think that you might get unauthorized charges and go through the hassle of canceling your cards, so, like I said, I'm just calling to reassure you."
"Well, if you use my number, I've got some dirty tricks that I'd have to use on you."
"Look, buddy, the reason I'm calling is to give you some piece of mind."
"Like I said, I have some dirty tricks up my sleeve, eh."
"Alrighty then, well, I wish you a Merry Christmas."
"Well, I don't wish anyone a Merry Christmas."

How do people get this way?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas at Grandma's

Since Mara's mom moved to Saipan in June, we've had a grandmother around, which has been nice. This year, we spent the morning at Carol's then went to the Aqua for lunch, and back to Carol's to watch a movie for the afternoon.

Speaking of Home...

We're building a house.

Part of the flurry before we left for Bali was finalizing a property transaction and signing the construction contract for a new house. We bought some property on Navy Hill about three years ago, and designed a beautiful home with the help of our architect friend, Chris Fryling. Then we decided that it was too expensive to build. Two years later, living in a home that just doesn't meet the needs of our family, we realized that if you have a family of six, everything is going to cost more than you expect, and so we bit the bullet and decided to built it.

Our contractor is Hugh Hargrove, who has built quite a few homes on the island, and is the local "pool guy" (having built the PIC water park). The house is designed as a "green" house, taking advantage of simple things like north-facing windows, large overhangs over the southern exposures, venting of appliances to the outside, etc. But, the most important feature is that it's being built out of a type of insulated concrete. The stuff is called Radva. It's basically blocks of Styrofoam that are shaped and then sprayed with a layer of concrete. It's been around for a long time, and is proven to be typhoon proof. Because it's insulated, the power bills are minuscule -- like around $100 a month for a 4000 sq ft home with central air.

In my opinion, every new building on Saipan should be built of Radva. It makes no sense not to build with insulated concrete. The cost is slightly higher than building with concrete block, but the recovery is fast. Hugh has a factory in Papago that makes the Radva. Some of the other Radva buildings on Saipan include the homes of Chuck Jordon, Mark Blackburn and Pamela Brown, Ted Parker and Kathy of MINA fame whose last name I can never spell.

So, hopefully in about 12-18 months we'll be in our new place. It has a beautiful view of Managaha and American Memorial Park. Here's the model.

Back from Bali

We got back early yesterday morning, after flying all night. I'm off tomorrow with the two older kids to Guam for a week. More on that later.

Bali was an interesting experience. Mara and I have been probably 10 times. The last two times were with Arman and Nava. This was our first "vacation" style trip since we've had four kids. I had a great time, mostly because I enjoyed just being with my family without all the distractions of daily life. I didn't have much personal need for a vacation, so I wasn't really expecting either a lot of stimulation, nor a lot of doing nothing, and the trip was a nice combination of both. It rained a fair bit, so we spent lots of time inside, with me making up stories to entertain the kids. We spent a day in Kuta at the Water Park, which was the highlight for the kids, then went up to Ubud, which is the cultural center of the island. In years past, we would go out to the cultural dances, but this time, the kids were falling asleep early (Bali is 2 hours behind Saipan), and so as darkness would fall, we would call it a day. We ate a lot of good food, drank lots of fresh fruit juices, swam a lot, and just hung out.

Some members of the family were going a little stir crazy with this slow pace in Ubud, so we headed back down to Kuta for the last few days. But there, the hustle of the city, and the inabilty to cross a street without risking your life began to wear on us, and so we decided to go to Nusa Dua, which is a tropical resort enclave of some dozen hotels. It was built for upscale tourism, and there are no street vendors (no streets really, it's a little like being in a hotel Disneyland), no traffic, no shops -- just miles of manicured hotel grounds. We splurged and checked into the Grand Hyatt for two days of decompression. What an amazing property. It has 750 rooms, five swimming pools, 958 employees, six restaurants, two dozen or so shops, all spread out over 41 acres on the beach. I'd never been anywhere like it. It would take us 20 minutes to walk from our room to the lobby. We arrived the week after the UN Climate Conference, portions of which were held at the Hyatt. We didn't discover it until our final hours there, but there are some nice restaurants and a grocery store in the "Bali Shops" compound across the street from the hotel.

It's nice to be home now. I do want to put in a plug for the folks at who did a great job of finding nice rooms for us in Kuta as our plans morphed. They provide a great discount over the rack rate, and were very responsive in finding rooms during the holiday season.

It's nice to be home.

Photos later.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I'm wearing Balinese underwear

It was such a whirlwind trying to get out of Saipan, that I forgot to pack underwear.

We're on vacation. (But we do have a housesitter with three large dogs, so don't try to break into our house.)

Check back after the first of the year. We're having a good time.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Stand Up Comedy 101 - The Funny

In my last post I discussed the Set Up. Here I'll summarize The Funny, as described by Judy Carter, in her excellent book, The Comedy Bible.

The Funny

Once you have the set-up -- the serious part -- you just need to think about how to express this in a funny way. The quickest and easiest way is through the “act out.” The Funny has two elements

  1. The Act Out. This is where you act out the premise. You act out the situation in the set-up. As Judy says, “Instead of talking about someone or something, you perform it. You turn into the people or things you mentioned in the setup – actually act them out.”

It doesn’t have to be a grand performance. You just take on the attitude of the characters in the set-up. Here again is Robin William’s set-up, with the act-out to follow.

“When you have a baby, you have to clean up your act. You can’t come in drunk and go, ‘Hey, here’s a little switch. Daddy’s going to throw up on you.’”

Here is another example of a simple act-out by Steve Wright. The unstated attitude is, “You know what’s weird about babies?”

“[Premise] Babies don’t need a vacation. But I still see them at the beach. It pisses me off. [Now, here comes the Funny.] When no one’s looking, I’ll go over to a baby and ask, [act-out] ‘What are you doing here? You haven’t worked a day in your life.’”

Now, here are Judy’s set ups with the act outs. Notice that the premises have been elaborated, with more specific detail, giving a richer set up.

  • [set up] Piercing is stupid. It’s painful enough just to being in a relationship hurts so much, working for a stupid boss hurts, paying taxes hurts. There is no need to add to it. in a relationship. There is no need to add to it. [act out] “Oh gee, I’m just not feeling enough pain in my life. I think I need to pierce my tongue.”
  • [set up] It’s hard being pierced when you go through metal detectors at the airport. [act out] “’Buzzzz!’ [security guard] ‘Please remove all of your jewelry, miss.’ [pierced person] ‘Oh, OK! [Then act out, removing a lot of rings in weird places.] Can you help me with this one/’” {imagine where she’s pointing}
  1. The Mix-Up. Although any joke can end with the act-out, you can get point out another dimension of the subject with this tool. Judy Carter states, “A good mix is where a comic connects two elements that people don’t associate with one another. The laugh comes from the way the comic connects them. It’s the ‘surprise’ element that causes laughter.”

Mixes generally start with “Can you imagine if” or “What if” and are almost always followed by another act-out.

Here is an example of a mix by Dennis Miller.

“I view a visit to the therapist in much the same way I view a visit to the hairdresser… When I leave the office my head looks great; around an hour later, it’s all f'd up and I can’t get it to look that way on my own. ‘Excuse me, doc, can I get a little mousse for my id?’”

He mixes therapist and hairdresser, and follows it with an act out of himself talking to the therapist, incorporating elements of the mix. The humor is in the surprise and the juxtaposition of unlikely elements.

That's it. That's the basic structure of putting together a solid joke for stand up comedy: The set up followed by the act-out and the mix-up. Join us on Wednesday to try out your ideas and to see the first few bits that the other comics have developed. December 12, 7:30 PM at Marianas Eye Institute on Beach Road.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Stand Up Comedy 101 - The Set Up

We had our first comedy meet-up on Wednesday night -- a great start! Five committed soon to be comics were there, and we reviewed some of the basics. I had summarized some of the key segments from Judy Carter's The Comedy Bible, which we're using as our guide. Everyone is ordering a copy, and we'll get together weekly to review our work. Our next meet-up is on Wednesday, December 12 at Marianas Eye Institute at 7:30 PM. We will be performing our material to get feedback from one another.

Here is the first part of the material I summarized. It's all taken from The Comedy Bible, which I highly recommend.


Humor is about insight, seeing something in a unique way. Developing as a comedian is about finding your perspective and your voice.

Any comedic material has two parts

  1. The Set Up
  2. The Funny

The Set Up

The Set Up is the serious part of the joke. It’s just an observation or an insight about something, expressed with a certain attitude. In fact, the set up consists of three elements

1. The topic. This is simply what the joke is about – babies, money, lint, baldness, whatever.

2. The attitude. The energy that drives a joke is the attitude of the comic regarding the topic. There are dozens of attitudes, but for the beginning comic, there are four that work the best: something is either weird, hard, scary or stupid. Ingrain these four attitudes in your mind. You have to feel this attitude while setting up the joke, and the best way to invoke the attitude is to start the joke by simply saying:

  • You know what’s really weird about __________? (babies, money, lint, etc.)
  • You know what’s really hard about ___________?
  • You know what’s really scary about ___________?
  • You know what’s really stupid about ___________?

Seasoned comics may not use these specific words, but they invoke the attitudes and imply the words. When Jay Leno says, “What’s the deal with the President?” he’s really saying “You know what’s really stupid about the President?”

3. The Premise. This is the answer to the “attitude” question. Here you are going to share your insight or observation about what’s weird, hard, scary or stupid about the topic in a very specific way. The premise is not about you. It’s a statement that your audience can relate to. A good premise is insightful and original. It’s where you get to express your unique view about something. But remember, it’s not supposed to be funny. It’s a serious observation about the world. It shouldn’t have the words, me, my, or I in it. After the audience is interested in your global observation, you can make it more specific to yourself, but it has to start broad.

Here is an example of a set up, used by Robin Williams. He doesn’t start with the question, but he is implicitly asking, “You know what’s hard about having kids?”

“When you have a baby, you have to clean up your act.”

There is nothing at all funny about that. It’s a serious observation that he has made about parenthood, about having a baby.

When you develop comedy, you start by making observations about the world. The comedic mind is alert during the mundane acts of life. Some things may strike you as weird, or hard, or scary or stupid. Just write them down. This is the soil from which the joke will grow. You don’t have to see it as funny. You just have to realize you’ve made an observation about something.

Judy Carter, in her book, the Comedy Bible, takes a topic, “Body Piercing,” and gives examples of premises on that topic. Here is what good set-ups look like:

  1. Piercing is stupid. It’s painful enough just to be in a relationship. There is no need to add to it.
  2. It’s hard being pierced when you go through metal detectors at the airport.
  3. It’s weird to see older people with nose rings.
  4. It’s scary that nose rings are now an acceptable business accessory, like cuff links or a tie clip.

Notice, again, there are just observations, statements of her opinions, her view of the facts.

Judy gives a whole checklist of making sure your premise is good, and gives examples of “hack” premises, and how to fix them.

In my next post, I'll discuss "The Funny."

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

World Peace, a Blind Wife, and Gecko Tails

My book is about four weeks away from being released. It will be listed on Amazon, and I've already had an advance order for 160 copies that will be used in a university sociology class. Book mark my blog, or send me an email, and I'll let you know when it's released.

Here is the description from the back cover:

Award-winning columnist and Mariana Islands eye surgeon, David Khorram, brings together the most popular pieces from his Saipan Tribune column, Better Living. Whether exploring the spiritual side of prosperity, describing the raw joy of someone regaining sight, or recounting the humor of an island phone call, Dr. Khorram manages to reach the mind, the heart and the funny-bone. With this book in hand, expect to laugh out loud and to ponder life's big questions.

"I use this book, along with Tuesday's with Morrie, to give my students something meaningful to read."
Kirk Johnson, PhD, University of Guam
"Intelligent, compassionate, thoughtful and wise, David brings gentle humor to higher thinking. A joy to read, his insights offer a rich model for living well."
Senator Maria Frica T. Pangelinan
15th Northern Marianas Legislature

"Somewhere inside David Khorram's head, three wise men have collided with the Three Stooges."
Lt Cmdr Randy Clark, retired
United States Coast Guard
"Dr. Khorram shares glimpses of life that bemuse and inspire. This delightful medley entertains us while opening our eyes to the bigger picture of what it means to be human."
Daniel Lamar, MD
"Consider this the Chicken Soup for the Soul of Micronesia."

Bob Coldeen, Author of Bumps in Paradise

. As a young eye surgeon, Dr. David Khorram left the offers awaiting him in American's leading medical centers, and boarded a plane for the South Pacific, never to return. Starting in exotic Pago Pago, David has traveled, worked and lectured in villages, hospitals and huts throughout the Pacific. As a writer, he is the recipient of a Governor's Humanities Award. The founder of Marianas Eye Institute, Dr. Khorram is listed in Guide to America's Top Ophthalmologists. David, his wife Mara, and their four energetic children live on the island of Saipan, in the Marianas archipelago.

Marianas Eye Blog on CNN

No kidding. I woke up early this morning and looked at my blog's tracking tools and noticed that I've already had around 40 visits this morning. That's high for me this early in the day. I check out the referral sources, and I notice that a bunch of visits are coming from the CNN website. There is a story on CNN titled, Fear of Losing Culture Fuels Immigration Debate, and at the end of the story there is a button called "From the Blogs." My piece, that I'd written for the Saipan Tribune, on Understanding the American Mind got picked up by CNN, and is listed on that section. Pretty cool.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

December in Saipan

These were all taken on Sunday. I forget it gets cold anywhere. My kids have never seen snow.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Saipan Comedy Players

If you think you might be a little funny, join us on Wednesday night at Java Joe's at 7:30 PM to launch the Saipan Comedy Players (or whatever we eventually decide to call ourselves -- Club V is starting an open mic night, which they're calling "Laff Adai" so that's taken).

We're going to talk a bit about stand-up, how to be funny by constructing a good premise (which isn't funny, but just an observation that everyone can relate to), and then using tools like "the act out" and "the mix up" to make the funny part work. We might even do a few on-paper exercises.

The goal over the next few weeks is for each of us to develop a 5 to 10 minute stand-up act that will be performed as a fund-raiser. Everyone is invited to this meeting, even if you're just curious. Don't worry... but come prepared to eventually face your fear.

Committed future comedians include Brad Ruszala, Jeff Turbitt, Angelo Villagomez, Galvin Guerrero, Rick Jones and me. How about some women? How about some more ethnic diversity?