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Friday, September 17, 2010

ABF Friday:  Crazy Ol’ Marty Peretz edition!

This is a tough one*, folks.  How precisely should Harvard University honor Marty “Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims” Peretz next week? 

Keep in mind that this is not a question about how Peretz should defend himself.  As Peretz told Benjamin Sarlin, “The notion that after teaching 45 years at Harvard and people giving money in my honor that I have to defend myself—please.” Nor is it a question about whether Harvard should decline the fellowship money or rename the fellowship or cancel the day-long event on September 25.  Because that would be ridiculous and absurd.

Instead, I think Harvard should ask Peretz to specify precisely how cheap Muslim life is (to other Muslims, of course!  We don’t want to give anyone the impression that Peretz himself believes such a thing, just because he calls it “a statement of fact, not value").  I mean, any old racist crank can talk about the cheapness of Muslim life.  But someone worthy of an honor at Harvard should be able to name a figure.

Your suggestions?

* Yes, yes, I know, “ABF Fridays” began (back in aught-five, when this blog was insouciant and full of joie de vivre) as arbitrary but fun value judgments, and here we’re dealing with how Harvard should handle a statement of fact, not value.  So feel free to deconstruct the fact/value distinction in comments!  Be arbitrary—but fun!

UpdatePeretz apologizes on the eve of Yom Kippur.  Good on him for that.

Posted by Michael on 09/17 at 09:55 AM
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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hard to believe

Jamie is 19 today.

It is very hard to believe.  Did I say that already?

He’s on Facebook, you know.  Unlike his father, who suffers from acute social-media shyness.  Just saying.

Happy birthday, Jamie!  You are now a high school senior and a senior teenager.

Posted by Michael on 09/16 at 08:14 AM
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Even worse than you thought

The Islamification Mosque and Ground Zero Terrorist Recruitment Center will not only bring sharia law to the financial district of Manhattan.  It will also bring ... terrorist environmentalism

An Ecofascist Crescent Moon Near Ground Zero

By Mark Musser | September 15, 2010

Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, a U.S. environmental policy consultant and one of Feisal Abdul Rauf’s spokesmen for the new mosque being contemplated near Ground Zero, surprisingly announced in August that it will be the first “green mosque” in the United States. Not only will this structure comply with very strict LEED green standards (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), but it will also become an interfaith cultural center that will emphasize “the intricate relationships between Islamic teachings and environmentalism.” As such, this new mosque will not only be built green, but it will also become an environmental Islamic community center.  In fact, the project has been renamed “Park 51” to reflect this green emphasis.

In The Daily Beast, Ibrahim Abdul-Matin went on to say that “Islam calls upon people to be stewards of the earth and to treat all things in nature as sacred. The new name…invokes images of trees, creeks, and children playing. Parks are for the public.  Parks are fun. Parks are green. And parks are not controversial.”

Contrary to such an innocuous suggestion is that injecting environmentalism into Islam is hardly uncontroversial. In reality, it only multiplies the dangers by stuffing more flammable material into a rich concoction of explosive anti-western civilization sentiments, all in the name of green moderation. Both Islam and environmentalism loathe western financial institutions, all of which was best represented by the Twin Towers—the bastion of international free trade—before they came crashing down in flames on 9/11.  Thus to suggest that a green mosque is uncontroversial is naïve at best, and in reality, completely disingenuous. New York’s Ground Zero area might be better served by a typical mosque with plenty of prayer rugs on hand for its worshipers. That environmental regulations have already played a large role in stalling the rebuilding of Ground Zero is not something that should go unnoticed, especially now with a green mosque going up nearby.

Blending environmentalism with Islam can only serve to strengthen the totalitarian ideals of the green movement.

Cool!  It’ll be like a one-stop Islamofascist Ecofascist Liberalfascist Convention Center.  I’m liking this thing more and more.

Posted by Michael on 09/15 at 12:12 PM
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dinesh redux

Ah, it’s good to see that my old pal Dinesh D’Souza is driving public debate again.  It’s been far too long.  So now we have “Obama is a Mau-Mau, and I mean that in a totally non-racist way” to go long with “Al-Qaeda was right to attack America and its moral decadence,” “what do blacks owe America for the abolition of slavery,” and, from way back in the day, “listening to Jerry Falwell, one gets the sense that something is right about America after all.” Well done, DD!

I know, when people think of me v. foaming wingnut, they tend to think first of David Horowitz.  But D’Souza will always be my first and bestest run-in with a craven lying crank.  And for those of you who are amazed and/or appalled that this latest piece of lunatic neo-birtherism is the cover story of Forbes magazine, let’s not forget that he got his first big break in 1991 with a cover story in the Atlantic.

Posted by Michael on 09/14 at 10:44 AM
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Friday, September 10, 2010

ABF Friday:  Days of Future Past Edition!

In our latest installment of Lazy My New Day Job Keeps Me Really Busy Blogging, we’re going to dust off an ABF exercise we did many years ago at Pandagon, because (a) it was F, and (b) Pandagon has the most broken archives in the Interwebs and nobody will ever remember that I’m recycling this one unless I tell them. 

Anyway, here goes.

Most solos in rock/pop are guitar solos, of course.  Then there are your sax solos and your piano solos here and there.  Some of them are good.  And there’s Denny Dias’s amazing electric sitar solo in Steely Dan’s “Do It Again.” But what about all the other (non-stringed) instruments in the world?  Long ago, in comment 48 of of this most diverting or dilating thread, I speculated on the comparative worth of the flute solos in Jethro Tull’s “Locomotive Breath” and Stevie Wonder’s “Another Star.” I have since been reminded by my trusty iPod that Brick’s 1976 song “Dazz” contains a pretty kicky bit of flutin’ as well.  And I think we can all agree that Alan Civil’s work on the Beatles’ “For No One” (a solo reportedly whistled by McCartney to George Martin, who then booked Civil for the job) is the best French horn solo in rock/pop.  But let’s not forget that happy, zippy xylophonin’ on Robert Palmer’s “Clues,” either!

So think of some great solos with lesser-used non-stringy instruments, if you’d be so kind.  Extra special bonus points for anyone who comes up with a great oboe or bassoon solo.

Now, about that day job.  I finally have some news!  Which is to say, some evidence that I’ve actually been “working” behind the “scenes.” Check this out, folks.  It is, or will be, or is and will be and also will have been, wicked cool.  It was inspired in part by this most diverting or dilatory thread, which made me get up out of my chair and then go sit down in another chair to watch a bunch of movies.  I decided I didn’t like Idiocracy. I wonder: would I have liked it more if it were funny?  Perhaps.  Also, Shaun of the Dead didn’t stand up to a second viewing, so it lost to 28 Days Later in the zombie playoffs. 

But the real find, for me, was Code 46.  Atmospheric, evocative, haunting ... you know, those adjectives.  Plus lots of spacy dreamy ambient music and the always-eerie Samantha Morton.  So it gets the coveted Saturday 9:30 slot, just after District 9.  The State Theatre has very kindly posted info on each film as well as a trailer (my program notes on each film are less expository and a bit silly and free-associationy, sort of like this here post), so I have now learned that Code 46 is saddled with what must be one of the worst trailers ever made.  Seriously, if I saw that trailer in a theater, I’d make a mental note to avoid the movie forever, and if I were Michael Winterbottom I would kick somebody or something.  Basically, the trailer takes this atmospheric evocative spacy eerie ambient movie and turns it into In a world when genetics blah blah.  In a time when people blah blah.  Only one man blah blah blah. Couldn’t Jerry Seinfeld have prevented this?

Anyway, we invited Michael Winterbottom to join us for the film festival, and I got through the first three baffles, all the way to a personal no from his actual agent, who apparently did ask Mr. Winterbottom if he had the time to travel to the deep interior of Pennsylvania in mid-October to screen a movie he made seven years ago.  So I have finally hit the big leagues.

If you’re in the area in mid-October, come to the State Theatre!

Oh, almost forgot.  Here’s today’s dueling YouTubes.  We have to break out of the boomer mold, folks, and do something that the kids of today will understand.  Namely, alt.oldies!  Here are two of my nostalgia-inducing faves.

Posted by Michael on 09/10 at 10:53 AM
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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Pitching about “pitching”

My contribution to the running Mad Men commentary at Kritik, the blog of the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is now up.  And somehow, spyder has already logged a comment.  How did he do that?

Anyway, the pix are great.  That Joe Namath really was quite attractive.

Posted by Michael on 09/07 at 02:26 PM
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