Monthly Archives: November 2009

A bad day for Islam in American media.

Today, the people of Switzerland voted in a public referendum to ban the construction of minarets in their country. Yes, the Swiss, those bastions of neutrality and tolerance, have made it illegal to top a mosque with its traditional prayer tower. As argued by the political parties behind its promotion, this step was necessary in order to lessen the influence of Islam on Swiss culture. I know, right? WTF? I couldn’t believe it. And check out their charming campaign poster:

Those don’t look like bombs at all, and the whole poster definitely doesn’t play on sensationalist fears…

Well, the New York Times wrote a predictably sympathetic piece that includes some intelligently outraged quotes from prominent Muslims and certain members of the Swiss government. It paints the decision as a step backwards in the global progression towards religious tolerance and freedom. That article was published online today, and I generally agree with its sentiment.

Also published today, completely unrelated, is another piece, this one by Glenn Greenwald of, detailing the history of Thomas Friedman’s slightly less sympathetic collection of columns in the New York Times on the issues of Muslims and their freedoms. It’s worth reading if, like me, you’ve never taken Friedman seriously enough to discover how much of a zealot he was during the Bush administration and how much of that zealotry remains today. I thought he was a pop-science-environmentally-friendly-Dr-Phil lookalike. Whoops

I don’t really have much of a thesis to present here or a point to make… I was just surprised to learn these off-putting facts about such a famous journalist and foreign policy expert (Friedman, that is) and wanted to share them. Also, while I make it no secret that I am in favor of a lessening of religious influence on American culture, this vote in Switzerland depresses me, the same way it would if they had outlawed crosses on top of churches (so don’t think I just pick on the American religious right because they’re such easy targets!). The coincidence of reading these different articles left me confused, and wanting to hear other people’s perspectives on them, so please let me know what you think.

Furthermore, some of the comments on the Times article make me uneasy- people saying that this seemingly anti-freedom movement is actually a victory for women and homosexuals and other groups that are oppressed by most branches of Islam. Lessen oppression by oppressing others? That doesn’t seem to add up properly, yet the concern about the “Islamicazation” of Europe seems to be growing and is not necessarily appropriately ignored.

I’ll leave it at this: it makes me uneasy.

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Do you respect wood?

So the big Seinfeld reunion episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm has come and gone, and it seems like most online reviews have been tepid at best. I, for one, enjoyed the episode thoroughly- even Larry David in his George Castanza sweater vest. Frankly, I think LD (pardon my Loretta) would be annoyed if his reunion stunt pleased everyone; that certainly doesn’t (ever) seem to be his goal. Rather, I think the notion was, “Hey- this could be fun”. And it was indeed obvious to us enviable viewers that the old Seinfeld gang was having a helluva time filming their fake reunion.

There were uneven moments (the whole Mocha Joe arc, for one) but really, this post isn’t about the finale at all. I want to spend a moment celebrating last week’s stellar episode, and J.B. Smoove’s Leon stealing the show by going all Danny Duberstein. His recitation of the symptoms of Groat’s disease (“Everything I ate tasted like peaches!”) was one of my favorite scenes of the season, and was brilliantly capped off by the “oh-no-they-didn’t” recreation of Michael Richards screaming at some Black people. Check out this recent NYT article for some insight from Smoove on working with Richards in light of their, ahem, differences.

And meanwhile, if anyone doubts whether Curb should come back for another season, you’re mistaken. Put aside thoughts of repetitive debates about tipping and how tired we all are of that creepy Skeletor Ted Danson, and watch last week’s episode again- albeit in increasingly short seasons, this series has more to give.

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Oh dear God.

Who wants to be depressed today? Click play.


My apologies to Steelers fans everywhere.

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Waiting to go rogue

I’ve been thinking about reading Sarah Palin’s book, but I’m sure as hell not going to actually buy it. Contributing my hard-earned dollars to her 2012 presidential campaign or daughters’ secret abortion fund?  Don’t think so. I tried to get it from my library at school, but they don’t even have it (really, Portland State?). It’s on interlibrary loan, due to arrive in a few weeks… but after watching this glowing review, it made me rethink how to invest my time.

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Typewriters to Twitter

I stumbled across this article in the Wall Street Journal about the habits and processes of various novelists, and thought it was fascinating. As a child, I always wanted to be a writer (in fact, I specifically wanted to be the next Ann M. Martin) so reading this brought back my old youthful fantasies. I thought it was particularly interesting to read about how different authors mix technology, longhand, and crafts into their writing process. Hope this inspires you to pursue whatever your creative calling is, and to find your own ways of expressing yourself.

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A morning chuckle

I just came across this “Guest Voice” column from the Washington Post’s “On Faith” section of their website. While it’s fairly offensive and disturbing, I can only assume this is meant to be a satire. Perhaps a massively exaggerated send-up of religious right rhetoric – not a legitimate column. Singing the praises of Mel Gibson? Celebrating the political strategy of “breeding like rabbits”? Nobody writing this stuff could hope to be taken seriously, right? Right? Hmmm… let me Google its author, Catholic League president Bill Donahue.

Oh. Never mind.

Ok, so it’s depressing that wackos like this are out there having their hateful drivel showcased on a legitimate newspaper’s website. And it’s even more depressing that plenty of people probably agree with them. But this morning, I’m just going to laugh over his ridiculous ideas and nutty beliefs. For one thing, this guy doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously. And for another, I don’t have time to get all worked up. I have to get back to walking my dog, going to bathhouses, and aborting my kids.

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