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Google's Security Princess: Parisa Tabriz

A Mighty Girl: Professional hacker Parisa Tabriz is responsible for keeping the over 1 billion users of Google Chrome safe by finding vulnerabilities in their system before malicious hackers do. Tabriz, a "white hat" hacker who calls herself Google's “Security Princess", is head of the company's information security engineering team. The 33-year-old Iranian-American is also an anomaly in Silicon Valley according to a profile in The Telegraph: "Not only is she a woman – a gender hugely under-represented in the booming tech industry – but she is a boss." Tabriz, who is also known as the "browser boss," heads up a team of 50 "white hat" hackers based in the US, Germany, and Australia tasked with making the browser safe for users in an age of frequent cyberattacks.

Tabriz came up with “Security Princess” while at a conference and the unusual title is printed on her business card. “I knew I'd have to hand out my card and I thought Information Security Engineer sounded so boring,” she says. “Guys in the industry all take it so seriously, so security princess felt suitably whimsical.” Her curiosity, mischievousness, and innovative thinking are all assets in her business: a high-profile company like Google is constantly in the crosshairs of so-called "black hat" hackers.

Tabriz came into internet security almost by accident; at the University of Illinois’ computer engineering program, her interest was first whetted by the story of early hacker John Draper, who became known as Captain Crunch in the 1960s after he learned how to make free long-distance calls using a toy whistle from a Cap’n Crunch cereal box. She realized that, to beat the hackers of today, she had to be prepared for similar -- but more advanced -- out-of-the-box thinking.

While women at still very under-represented in the tech industry -- only 30% of Google's staff is female and just 18% of its technical employees are women -- Tabriz has hope for the future: “Fifty years ago there were similar percentages of women in medicine and law, now thankfully that's shifted.” And, while she hasn't encountered overt sexism at Google, when she was offered the position, at least one classmate said, “you know you only got it cos you're a girl." To help address this imbalance, she mentors under-16 students at a yearly computer science conference that teaches kids how to "hack for good" -- and she especially encourages girls to pursue internet security work. One 16-year-old who attended, Trinity Nordstrom, says, “Parisa is a good role model, because of her I'd like to be a hacker.”

Tabriz, who was named by Forbes as one of the "top 30 under 30 to watch" in 2012, also wants the public to realize that hacking can be used for positive ends. “[H]acking can be ugly,” she says. “The guy who published the private photos of those celebrities online made headlines everywhere. What he did was not only a violation of these women but it was criminal, and as a hacker I was very saddened by it. I feel like we, the hackers, need better PR to show we're not all like that... [A]fter all I'm in the business of protecting people."

Read more about Google's "Security Princess" in The Telegraph.

For a fun way to introduce your Mighty Girl to programming, check out the new game "Code and Go Robot Mouse," for ages 5 to 9.

Another excellent way introduce kids to programming is via new DIY systems that allow you to build real programmable computers on your own such as the "Raspberry Pi Ultimate Set" for ages 9 and up and "Piper: Craft A Computer Kit" for ages 7 and up.

For more toys and kits designed to encourage children's interest in science and programming, check out the recommendations in our blog post: "Top 50 Science, Math, & Programming Toys for Mighty Girls"

To introduce children to the woman who invented the first computer program -- Ada Lovelace -- there are several excellent picture books about her: “Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine” for ages 5 to 9, "Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science" for ages 5 to 9, and "Ada’s Ideas” for ages 6 to 9.

And, to inspire your Mighty Girl with books starring girls who love science and technology, check out our blog post, "50 Books to Inspire Science-Loving Mighty Girls"

Pop goes Iran

Author Marina Nemat, a survivor of Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, takes an emotional journey through the Aga Khan Museum’s new exhibition of modern Persian art

The Globe and Mail:  In order to get to a new exhibition of contemporary Persian art, Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet, my museum guide tells me that I need to go through Syria first. She means the Syrian exhibition. My breath stops in my throat. I don’t want to walk through Syria. As a former prisoner of conscience in Tehran’s most notorious prison, Evin, I am nervous enough about returning to Iran, even if inside the safe confines of Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum.

My family and I have survived two revolutions: Russia, 1917, and Iran, 1979; my grandparents escaped the communists and I, the Islamists. From 1982 to 1984, when I was in my teens, I was charged with anti-revolutionary activism, tortured and raped. Many of my friends were executed and are buried in mass graves.

I somehow put one foot in front of the other, but the massive rock of pain that fell on my chest when I was tortured at 16 has become even heavier. It’s as if I have stepped into a haunted version of the wardrobe in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (the first English book that I read when growing up), one that leads to the grim realm of stifled souls, artists trying to create a country of their own.

I am sure that this exhibition is full of hidden codes, and I am a guide or interpreter of messages hidden in every display. This peculiar landscape I know and understand.

The works displayed in the Persian exhibition confront issues such as gender, politics and religion through quiet rebellion, humour, mysticism and poetry. The purpose of this exhibition is to shed light on the identity of Iranians today by examining the art that has been created by Iranian artists practising both inside and outside the country >>> More photos

National Security Adviser

Plaza de Armas.

Infidel Beach II - Dubai

No caption necessary!

The Moody Blues

Keep Rockin' - March 2014

Batgirls

At MacDonalds's last night.

Bed of gold

Tonight, Plaza de Armas.

U.S. Wrestlers Receive Warm Welcome In Iran Despite Immigration Controversy

Good Sports: U.S. wrestlers arrived in Kermanshah, Iran, this week for the 2017 Freestyle World Cup, feeling unsure about what reaction their presence would elicit. In the preceding weeks, President Trump’s executive order banning immigration from Iran resulted in the Iranian government denying visas to the American team. Iran only agreed to permit the Americans to enter the country after a federal judge temporarily lifted the U.S. ban.

Despite the bad vibes between the two countries, the American wrestlers were offered a warm reception by both media and fans upon landing in Iran. American wrestler Jordan Burroughs, who beat Iranian Sadegh Goudarzi in the 2012 London Olympics to win the gold, posted this picture to his Instagram account showing their arrival >>>

Pink Wet Valentine

In the garden. 

Remains of a 'Giant' Discovered Alongside Ancient Treasure Trove in Iran

Sputnik News: Archeologists excavating a site in the Iranian province of Lorestan have discovered a load of historically important artefacts dating back thousands of years.

The most exciting discovery is the remains of a very tall man, believed to be two meters tall, who lived during the Sasanian Empire, which ruled from approximately 224 AD until 651 AD, when was conquered by the Islamic Caliphate.

Archeologists also found artefacts dating back to the Achaemenid Empire, which existed from approximately 550 BC until its demise at the hands of Alexander the Great in 330 BC, and the Parthian Empire of c. 250 BC – 224 AD.

​Items dating back to the Achaemenid Empire, also known as the First Persian Empire, include plates, ceramic bowls, painted vessels, stamped ornaments and coins, and stone tools. They are the first artefacts from the period to be found in the province of Lorestan.

"In the north of the Chia Sabz area we found the grave of an elderly man. It consists of four clay walls, covered with a large stone slab," Hasanpour said.

"We found a lot of ceramic items of the Sasanian Empire close to the burial site, but we can only give them a more exact date after radiocarbon analysis." >>> more photos

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Death Belongs to Others, Buriel Clay Theater, San Francisco, March 5, 2017