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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Male Clicker




So you can finally win the Battle of the Remote Control, lads!

P.S.: Erm, "Less Boobs" button?? That must've been the Queer Eye design input.

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That's More Like It




Not a trike.

Nor certainly this bike.

Not even a moped, with or without Ruth Anne's hyphen.

But a bona fide, studly biker riding around South Florida on his supermondongo fly ride.

P.S.: Anyone reading the blog, might think that I like six-packed studs on high-powered motorcycles, as a matter-of-course.

And they couldn't be farther from the truth. As you know, I love elegant men, and this tanned example of hunkhood reeks of Miami Ink Tattoo and Coors -- no, thanks.

In fact, the one and only time I've been on a proper motorcycle, was when I was around 15 years-old, and my cousin Reggie decided to take me for a spin on his new Ducati (then a novelty in the UK).

Worst 15 minutes of my life, especially since like all boy cousins, they delight in making the girl scream with their dare-devil stunts. Never again, man.

Although I do quite like Vespas.

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Chick On Aisle 12




...because if you don't, you'll wake up one day when you're 59 years-old and God forbid wonder, "What if I had...?".

Maybe it's me, but this random poster found on an American street corner personifies everything about us Gen-X'ers, in one fell swoop, don't you agree?

Yesterday, a guy would've settled down with the first girl he pinned at the Senior Prom. Today, it's gotta be kismet or else you're staying single and living at home until you're 37...whilst working in the cereal aisle at WholeFoods.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Horoscope Truthiness

(Welcome Vernondent readers!)

Happy Birthday, Renato!

Many happy returns to the Sundries co-blogger I'm sure, from all of us. Now then, an Aries man, is it?

In the spirit of the horoscope, or as I like to call it, that worthless piece of junk superstition that aims so broadly that it's bound to get some stuff right sometimes, here is The Official Adam Sandler Horoscope redaction, for your and other star signs.

Aries first, of course!





Bowdlerised, so even your nonna can read it (hopefully I got all the assterisks, below).

Aries (Mar 23 - April 22) - You have a wild imagination and often think you are being followed by the FBI or CIA. You have minor influence on your friends and people resent you for flaunting your power. You lack confidence and are a general dipsh*t.

[Famous Arians: Otto von Bismarck, Vincent van Gogh, Adolf Hitler, Renato, Kullrad]


Taurus (April 23 - May 22) - You are practical and persistent. You have a dogged determination and work like hell. Most people think you are stubborn and bullheaded. You are nothing but a g*ddamned communist.

[Famous Taureans: Elizabeth II heh, Uma Thurman, Sigmund Freud, Malte Zander]


Gemini (May 23 - June 22) - You are a quick and intelligent thinker. People like you because you are bisexual. You are inclined to expect too much for too little. This means you are a cheap bastard. Geminis are notorious for thriving on incest.

[Famous Geminians: Henry Kissinger, John F. Kennedy, Wynona Judd]


Cancer (June 23 - July 22) - You are sympathetic and understanding of other peoples problems, which makes you a sucker. You are always putting things off. That is why you will always be on welfare and wont be worth a sh*t. Everyone in prison is a Cancer.

[Famous Cancerians: George W. Bush, OJ Simpson and Mike Tyson heh]


Leo (July 23 - Aug 22) - You consider yourself a born leader. Others think you are an idiot. Most Leos are bullies. You are vain and cannot tolerate criticism. Your arrogance is disgusting. Leo people are thieving motherf*ckers and enjoy masturbation more than sex.

[Famous Leos: Victoria! oh wait, I'm not famous...yet. Benito Mussolini, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Bill Clinton, Jose Aguirre]


Virgo (Aug 23 - Sept 22) - You are the logical type and hate disorder. Your sh*t-picking attitude is sickening to your friends and co-workers. You are cold and unemotional and often fall asleep while f*cking. Virgos make good bus drivers and pimps.

[Famous Virgos: Ivan the Terrible, Agatha Christie, Sophia Loren ouch]


Libra (Sept 23 - Oct 22) - You are the artistic type and have a difficult time dealing with reality. Chances for employment and monetary gain are nil. Most Libra women are whores. All Libras die of venereal disease.

[Famous Librans: Truman Capote, Luciano Pavarotti, Annette Funicello]


Scorpio (Oct 23 - Nov 22) - You are the worst of the lot. You are shrewd in business and cannot be trusted. You shall achieve the pinnacle of success because of your total lack of ethics. You are the perfect son-of-a-bitch. Most Scorpios are murdered.

[Famous Scorpios: Hillary Clinton heh, Katharine Hepburn, Fyodor Dostoyevsky]


Sagittarius (Nov 23 - Dec 22) - You are optimistic and enthusiastic. You have a reckless tendency to rely on your luck since you have no talent. You are a worthless piece of sh*t.

[Famous Sagittarians: Jim Morrison, Ed Koch, Ludwig van Beethoven, Alcibiades]


Capricorn (Dec 23 - Jan 22) - You are conservative and afraid of taking risks. You are basically chickensh*t. There has never been a Capricorn of any importance.

[Famous Capricorns: Jesus Christ, Richard Nixon, Sandy Koufax]


Aquarius (Jan 23 - Feb 22) - You have an inventive mind and are inclined to be progressive. You lie a great deal. You make the same mistakes repeatedly because you are stupid. Everyone thinks you are a f*cking jerk.

[Famous Aquarians: Oprah Winfrey, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Yoko Ono, Ron]


Pisces (Feb 23 - Mar 22) - You are a pioneer type and think most people are dickheads. You are quick to reprimand, impatient, and full of advice. You do nothing but piss-off everyone you come in contact with. You are a prick.

[Famous Pisceans: Rupert Murdoch heh, Albert Einstein, Michelangelo, Antonino Scalia, Simon the cusp Pisces]

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Picasa??

My absence yesterday can be attributed to many things, amongst them, a party my mother will be giving this Palm Sunday for her church biddies, I mean! friends, which falls to me to plan -- but a part of it did have to do with this horrible message.

When trying to upload my latest photos unto my Blogger account, there was a new message.





What!?? When I checked for more information, I read this:

"How can I get more storage for my images?

Images and photos that are uploaded through Blogger get stored in your Picasa Web Albums, which are part of your Google Account. The number of images you can upload is therefore dependent on the amount of space you are using on Picasa Web Albums. To find out how much space you have available, please see these instructions."

Well, this is a rum state-of-affairs, I must say.

How about my travellogues??

My endless South Florida Snapshots, which by virtue of my new digital camera, I had taken so much pleasure in showing you??

Will I have to have a PayPal account, to beg for errant alms from my readers, to pay for my new storage??

I'm sad. Very sad. Stupid Blogger.com.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

He's Just Not That Into You

(Welcome Benning's Writing Pad readers!)




Overheard, random conversation yesterday.

"Should I call him? He hasn't called since Saturday."
"Give it another week. He'll call you."
"How about if you call for me, and ask if he's been thinking about me?"
"I dunno."
"Come on! Here use my cellphone!"
"Okayyyy. I'll tell him I saw him at the gym, and forgot to say hi."
"Good idea!"

I just wanted to fling this book, He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys at them both.

By the way, I'd put each lady at around 31-33 years-old.

Maybe if they had been 18...MAYBE. But by the age of 30, get some wisdom, and some self-respect, for crying out loud.

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Interno 8




I have to say, I'm a sucker for all things male sartorial, but even I simply fell in love with these Interno 8 shirts.

The brainchild of Rome banker, Angelo Galasso, who one day decided that no tailor in Rome made shirts to his exact liking, so he decided to make them himself, the Interno 8 shirt is now sold to great fanfare in the Saville Row shops, which my dad used to frequent as a younger man.

And it says something that the epitome of these Euro-trashy shirts would be flying off the peg at a mere £79 (£160 for a bespoke version), in London.

It's true that male Britons have become more fashion-conscious rather than just style-conscious, as they used to be, and trust me, there is a difference -- but never would I dream that these high, 3 button collars-and-cuffed shirts would take off with the speed of a Lamborghini in the tight M1 motorway.

Italian fashion couture is the antithesis of British fashion couture, particularly as regards the male of the species.

Where one treasures the stylish and showy, the other treasures the stylish and subdued, and I won't speak down to you by telling you which is which: you know. We all do.

As for dear old dad, I'm not at all sure he would like the new wave of club-inspired fashion now worn in every London club, such as Prince William-approved, Boujis.

Or what he would say about these shirts, some of which have the convenient pocket to wear your watch, Gianni Agnelli-style.





BUILT-INTO the cuff, if you please.

You know every Kuwaiti sheikh and minor Italian nobleman from here to Chelsea will be flinging themselves unto Mr. Galasso for one.

And I admit, if I were a man, I would be too.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Philosopher-Comedians

JSU

What is it about modern American culture, that we must needs be pontificated on politics, by everyone UNRELATED to politics?





I know you are going to tell me that it's about (a) celebrity culture and (b) the unease Anglo-Saxon culture has traditionally felt with professionalism, which for us sometimes translates as "showing off", a deadly cultural sin.

But there is something else.

Something perhaps related to the American national character based on its history of independence and egalitarianism, (c) whereby anyone with an opinion, and a chance to expound on it, has as much right to say it out loud, as those who are nominally experts on the topic.

...like millions of bloggers like myself, not to put too fine a point on it. But then, not for nothing is blogging yet another American invention.

But in the year 2007, we are at a cultural crossroads in the US of A.

We feel so uncomfortable with politics, that we at once seek levity from comics, in the hopes that they will lighten our mental loads that way; AND this is exploited by them because they are oppositional to the current administration, providing them with a handy excuse so to vent.

America is unique in having at the moment, two of the most acute, and watched commentators of politics in the form of two comedians -- Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, both from cable channel, Comedy Central.

Their faithful viewers, which number in the millions, are not only comfortable with saying that all the news and opinion-making they get about politics, they get from these two gentlemen exclusively, but in fact, they say it proudly.

Less than 6 months ago, another comedian, this time from across the well-travelled pond, Sacha Baron-Cohen's incarnation as Borat was a jackhammer of insight, which he sought to somehow use as political commentary on American society.

That a similar state-of-affairs would be UNTHINKABLE in such diverse countries as France, Germany and Italy (that is, the most "respected" voices, by reason of quantity of eyeballs and the approval of laughter, would be stand-up comics), goes without saying.

A Frenchman wouldn't respect a comic to inform him about political opinions, or anyone else for that matter, who hadn't attended at least one Grand Lycée or had been in the ENA.

Perhaps the discrepancy in attitude between our nations lies in one of my favourite quotes, which describes how I look at the world, perfectly.

"Life is a tragedy for those who feel, and a comedy for those who think." -- Horace Walpole

This is not to suggest that no other nation but Americans are propelled to use laughter to think about things, but I put it you that perhaps in wanting to approach politics as comedy, we feel our neurons being stimulated, whilst not really needing to DO anything about it, let alone to be forced into guilt for our lack of feelings.

Feelings being the number one cause for action in the modern world, by those of left-liberal politics, of course.

And America simply hasn't taken that Socialist-inspired route as easily or as well, as other nations. For one, they haven't had to, not being the product of a brutal post-feudal society, as is most of the world.

Whatever is the answer about this virtual plethora of comedians who suddenly use their fame as a bully pulpit to harangue us with their political comments, here is yet another gentleman who is doing much of the same.

(Note, it would be wise to remember that comedian also meant "performance artist" not too long ago, which throws a wide net on the kinds of people today, who spout forth with their political views)

That I agree with almost everything he says, is besides the point. This sometime writer for Bill Maher, is still a political commentator using comedy as his point of departure.

Somehow thought, Shut Up & Write, that doesn't have the same slogan chic, so I'll refrain from using it, even with hovering smiley.

Without further ado, Evan Sayet, listed as "Conservative Humourist/Pundit" gives a talk about the Conservative/Liberal divide over at the venerable Heritage Foundation.


HOW MODERN LIBERALS THINK





Thoughts:

I watched it earlier today at one fell swoop, although I warn you all, it's 47 minutes long. But as all the commenters in the link mentioned, he's got this engrossingly disarming quality, that keeps you watching.

Here I have to say a few things.

First, he echoes a lot of what I have been saying here on Sundries, about the Ideological Impasse in the world, between Conservatives versus Liberals (in the leftwing sense of the word, not the European, 'classical liberal = free market economy' sense).

Anyone who wonders what I feel can please read or refer again to my colossal:

Why People Are Conservative

But this similarity of thought is not unusual, obviously.

It only becomes so, this sharing of EXACT opinions, when MSM want to insinuate a 'group think' mentality about political conservatives, so as to suggest a less rigourous intellectual formation behind Conservative ideals.

Do I agree with everything he has to say? No. He puts things in such a way that they are readily understandable by every day folks, and that is his target audience -- average, middle-class Americans who may be a little bewildered by these "Cultures Wars", and want an easy way to comprehend it all.

Look, he's not a philosopher, and no more am I. Our approaches are different, is all.

But he also has something which I don't have, and possibly never will.

He comes to the world today as a reformed ex-leftwing liberal, one of the many "mugged by reality" liberals out there, like David Horowitz, or on Blogosphere, for example, Neo-NeoCon.

And therefore, he knows something about the mindset of fence-sitters who possibly are a little nonplussed about where the modern US leftwing political movement is headed.

(I was born Conservative. I knew it at a VERY early age, remember? For all that, I'm not terribly political. I just have a certain way I view the world, which society tells me is called "conservative". When I refer to myself at all, I think of myself as an "anti-Statist, free-market traditionalist".

But fine, so be it then, just don't put me into a little box and throw away the key. I don't do that to anyone who shows moderation, and logic in their approach -- so I plead, don't do that to others)

A lot of what he says is aimed towards making his fellow ex-liberals feel a little better about how they think about the world.

About our defence of country.

About our traditions and values.

About our viewpoints of people.

About our judgements of ideals, places, and movements.

Basically, about ourselves, we Americans in the year 2007 A.D.

Sure, he doesn't say anything which maybe more acute observers of the scene haven't noticed already, but for all that, he's still saying what needs to be said, at long last, even if yet again.

By a philosopher-comedian.

Let me know what you thought of it. I'm curious.

ADDENDUM: One further point about Mr. Sayet. Once a liberal, always a liberal, in terms of not being terribly comfortable with structure and hierarchy.

He constantly breaks the fourth wall in his speech, by speaking to his audience as co-equal.

Though his talk is remarkably yuck-free, for a comedian asked to share his views on modern leftwing liberals, he is still at pains to relate to the audience, by bringing them into the conversation DURING his speech.

This reminded me of having read in George Stephanopoulos' autobiography that, in the early days of the Clinton Administration, everyone in the Oval Office behaved as if they were anywhere BUT in the Oval Office, and very rarely addressed the new President, as "Mr. President".

He said it was difficult for those in the West Wing to invest President Clinton with the morose dignity often needed in formalised situations, because it didn't come naturally to them. As you can see, that behaviour in the Oval Office ultimately led to lack of judgement, which easily could've been avoided by having a more respectful, more conservative attitude.

Because one characteristic of liberals, not political liberals, but people who are more liberal in their APPROACH, is their discomfort with top-down authority.

Something that I not only relish, but in fact, prefer. I LOVE hierarchies. And have since I was 3.

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Natural Order To Things

And speaking of national characters, thanks to Sundries commenter, and my good friend, Brother Darryl, I bring you this juicy bit of hilarity.

Do you agree or disagree, or just need more time to wipe your monitors of milk?





Natural Order To Things

On a group of beautiful deserted islands in the middle of nowhere, the following people are stranded:

two Italian men and one Italian woman
two French men and one French woman
two German men and one German woman
two Greek men and one Greek woman
two English men and one English woman
two Bulgarian men and one Bulgarian woman
two Japanese men and one Japanese woman
two Chinese men and one Chinese woman
two American men and one American woman
two Irish men and one Irish woman.


One month later on these absolutely stunning deserted islands in the middle of nowhere, the following things have occurred:

One Italian man killed the other Italian man for the Italian woman.

The two French men and the French woman are living happily together in a menage-a-trois.

The two German men have a strict weekly schedule of alternating visits with the German woman.

The two Greek men are sleeping with each other and the Greek woman is cleaning and cooking for them.

The two English men are waiting for someone to introduce them to the English woman.

The two Bulgarian men took one long look at the endless ocean and another long look at the Bulgarian woman and started swimming (!! Elko will kill me!).

The two Japanese have faxed Tokyo and are awaiting instructions.

The two Chinese men have set up a pharmacy, liquor, store, restaurant, laundry, and have gotten the woman pregnant in order to supply employees for their store.

The two American men are contemplating the virtues of suicide, because the American woman keeps on complaining about her body, the true nature of feminism, how she can do everything they can do, the necessity of fulfillment, the equal division of household chores, how sand and palm trees make her look fat, how her last boyfriend respected her opinion and treated her nicer than they do, and how her relationship with her mother is improving, and how at least the taxes are low and it isn't raining...

The two Irish men divided the island into North and South and set up a distillery. They do not remember if sex is in the picture because it gets sort of foggy after the first few litres of coconut whiskey. But they're satisfied because at least the English aren't having any fun.

(Heh. Now, the fun of it is, we can add to it! Here goes my contribution)

One Brazilian man invites the other Brazilian man to a game of coconut futebol, and completely loses track of the fact that the woman has time on her hands. Suddenly, she decides this is a perfect time to go skinny dipping, but one Brazilian man is so engrossed, he continues playing soccer, whilst the other guy goes off and has a torrid love affair with the Brazilian woman, who has in the meantime, invented waxing her crotch area with clamshells. In the end, the three Brazilians engage in a suruba, and await further discoveries such as making farofa out of the rainforest.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

The Pill




Take on Mondays as directed.

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I Had Me One Of Those




My first non-trike bicycle ever was a sweet pink Schwinn, with a white basket up front, remarkably similar to this South Beach bike.

But mine was infinitely better -- it had cowgirl white tassles on the handlebars!

Sigh. Nostalgia. You know you're getting old when...

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He-Man




Sweaty. Burly. He-Man totally bald white guy with tats.

(Soooo not my type)

(Also, please note -- man-boobs)

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Bayside Salsa

Speaking of buxom gals, here's an odd little moment captured for Sundries, on video a few days back.

We have this gorgeous outdoor mall called Bayside, in downtown Miami, which opened in the late 1980s. Before that, my parents tell me, it used to be a kind of fish market, on the old Port of Miami, where you could see freshly caught fish hanging on hooks, some of them sharks!





Bayside is situated next to a lush patch of greenness which used to be called Bicentennial Park, so named because it honoured this nation's 200th birthday. Today, it's called Bayfront Park, but old Miamians still sometimes refer to it by its older name.

Then, it was charming, with the regal White House-looking Main Public library situated on it, before the library moved further into downtown in the mid-80s, in an equally stunning Philip Johnson confection of a building.

Later, the park became a dump, after the homeless and violent elements moved in.





But it's been massively re-energised, having a musical ampitheatre on its grounds, and there is even a winter "Sunset Cinemas Movies By the Bay" open-air moviehouse there -- though still rather dangerous to go there, especially if you're a woman, in my opinion.

But there I was, part of the crowds gathered for a little ampitheatre action, listening to some live music, when I decided to stroll over to Bayside for a quickie.

I rarely go there, though it's nominally quite close to where I live. It's just a TOUCH too touristy for my taste, and anyway, I get my outdoor mall action at The Falls, and Merrick Park as you know.

But to my utter joy, I heard the usual thump-thump sounds of the outdoor music show, just inside the mall, next to the marina.





It was a salsa band this time, and oh boy, was the joint jumpin'!

That's when I saw this couple, and instantly knew I had to blog about it one day, for your bemusement.





He was seventy, if he was a day, and she was the closest apparition to Anna Nicole Smith I've yet seen, since the latter's untimely kicking of the sad bucket.

The first thought that runs through one's mind, in seeing one of these May-December couplings is: Was he famous, and how much did he pay her?

Trust me, this was no granddaughter taking her gramps out for a thoughtful spin on the dancefloor, as you will see in a moment. Those were some wild lambada thrusts the old guy was doing (sorry).

This would-be Fred and Ginger held EVERYONE'S attention in the small little audience gathered around the band, and some tourists were drunk-happy to take photos to show their cohorts back home, on the crazy goings-ons in Miami.

Just look at the crowd's amused expression, and you'll see the stories cooking up inside some Minnesotan's head already.





"And then some old codger got up to dance the conga (I think that's what the Latinos dance, right?) with this platinum blonde floozy and oh boy did the place rock out after that!"

Or how ever they sound in Minnesota, since we're flinging stereotypes around (conga, indeed).

But first, so you can better appreciate the quick clip, I want you to look at two more groups of people. Ready?

There's Couple #2, whom I think are on their first date, or the guy finally took out wifey for the day, having gotten into deep doodoo for something.

(My dad always told me the only reason men dance, is when they're on their best behaviour, or wanting to get lucky. By the way, did I tell you that my folks met at the Hammersmith Palais?)

The multiple big papi chains around his neck, plus the crazy colour combo of the deep red, and baby blue practically screams "Newly-Divorced Guy".





If you can imagine this lady with more class, less fat on her rump, and some straighter curls on that wig she's wearing, that would be my mother, except even then, she would never wear those hot pink florettes down her pants, with matching handbag. Classic.

And just look at the guy's expression! Wow. I've seen more animation during a Methodist funeral.

But for all his mortician looks, the guy could dance, which brings us to Couple(s) #3.





These are my peeps, right here.

Maybe it's just me, and my cultural background, but IN A MILLION YEARS could I imagine an impromptu dance of ANY KIND being done with such panache, and coordination in Britain, as these four, front-and-centre.

You have to understand, I'm fairly certain these are not fast friends, and thus have practised dancing these steps together, before. They're also not the springiest of chickens, to say the least.

They literally got up individually, when the song started, and let loose a torrent of jiggling merengue moves, that instantly brought a smile to your face.

The first woman in the white blouse was good, but it's the lady in the green, and ESPECIALLY the guy in the white baseball cap, who kept such fantastic rhythm, that they improved the dancing of those around them.

Check it out for yourselves, at long last. It lasts just a few seconds, but you'll love it.

Remember, keep your eye on the Salsa Gang, as I instantly dubbed them.





Un pasito pa'lante. Un pasito pa'tras...shimmy, shoulder shake, hand clap, shoulder shake, pasito pa'lado, kick out.

Love it!

I don't know how they do it, but I swear to you again, no British crowd could be so synchronised in such an impromptu manner, if our lives depended on it.

As for me, even though the old guy shot saucy looks over my way, I scooted out of there faster than you can say, "Miami Sound Machine".

Cubans are the only white people who have rhythm, as well as the Brazilians, and I know full well when I'm out of my league.

N.B.: I just read a Miami history book called "Miami Poppycock" that says the site that is present-day Bayside Mall, is the precise location where Juan Ponce De Leon, that intrepid explorer, I mean!, horrible colonising white man who famously searched for the fountain of youth, landed in Miami, in his second trip to Florida!!

See the utter, utter kismet of that event with this moment above?

Ponce de Leon searched for the fountain of youth, AKA Viagra, and 500 years later, a white-haired rumbero got lucky in the exact same spot.

I love history.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

For One Mesmerising Minute




I thought the buxom brunette to the right was my Woman Crush, Nigella Lawson.

For the record, if even I find this picture hot, I can only imagine the amounts of steam being produced on your more male collective glasses.

P.S.: I don't know much about this photo, save that I found it some time ago online in a nightclub page. They're British, but other than that, I've no idea. Best left to the imagination, no?

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Wallpapering

Renato

I'm always looking for wallpaper sites, so if you know of a few good links, please post them.

Renato sent me this link last night, thinking I might enjoy staring at £5 notes of the Queen all day. I demurred, but I did find one in the "Most Downloaded" area, page 3, which raised a giggle.





One solitary happy face surrounded by oodles of sad bastards.

Story of my life (present company excluded).

IN THE COMMENTS: Renato hits the funny bone -- "Walmart smiley rolling back prices on prozac."

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Multi-culturalism 1 Germany 0

Disgraceful.

"A court in the western city of Frankfurt on Wednesday upheld a complaint of bias against the judge lodged by the lawyer of the 26-year-old woman, who has two children.

The woman had filed for immediate divorce on the grounds that the husband, also of Moroccan origin, regularly beat her and threatened to kill her. The claims were backed up by a police report. But the female judge, who has not been named, made clear in a letter that the wife’s bid had little chance of approval because, according to her, Islamic law allowed a man to strike his wife."


Please note that the judge who ruled that indeed, under shar'ia law, men are allowed to beat their wives, thus negating the grounds for divorce in Germany because...because why? Presumably because as a Muslim woman, she should have known better than to marry a Muslim man, even in Germany...was a LADY JUDGE.

Like the Monica Lewinsky case, I'd love to see how people of a certain political or philosophical stripe will defend this decision.

If they will stick to their principles of feminism, or if they use circular logic about this matter, again, just because it suits their needs.

Namely, which is more correct -- the kowtowing to the idea of a multicultural society, which has nuances, subtleties, and understanding of foreign customs "because that's what makes us a more multicultural nation by definition!!"?

-Or-

The ghastly decision of nominally allowing wife-beating to go uncensored, if only by denying a divorce petition to a battered woman?

Never mind the ruling. That is one lady judge in a nation which surely will not allow this decision to stand.





It's the principle of the thing, which should interest us.

Especially which principles, and who does the defending of them.

UPDATE: The judge has been removed from the case -- at least that.

"The judge, Christa Datz-Winter, said in a recommendation earlier this year that both partners came from a "Moroccan cultural environment, in which it is not uncommon for a man to exert a right of corporal punishment over his wife," the court said in a statement.

She argued that it was not an exceptional hardship case in which fast-track divorce proceedings would be justified."


Dear God. Seriously? Would this have been the case of a Christian German woman divorcing her husband?? A German resident is a German resident, subject to German law, regardless of origin or what her caste 'allows'.

The story is even more convoluted, and wrought with illogical reason, which of course is par for the course with anything multicultural.

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Smile, You're On Candid Camera




Cute guy.

Except that I hate bikers.

At least he has a fly ride, unlike these rent-a-bikers below. Full marks for getting a moped this weekend though -- seeing as how half of the world seems to have descended for Spring Break on South Beach.


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If He Didn't Have Bad Luck...

...Senator John Edwards would have no luck, at all.

His embattled campaign, so recently embroiled in Bloggergate where he fired, and re-hired two controversial lady bloggers (twice), has met with the ultimate bad news, in terms of personal stamina for a long, bitter campaign which the 2008 US Presidential election, is definitely going to prove to be.

His wife, also a lawyer and a cancer survivor who had thought she had beat the disease shortly after the 2004 election, has had a relapse.

Once thought of as a potential Presidential or Vice-Presidential candidate herself, the forceful public-speaker, Elizabeth Edwards, was diagnosed as having a "spot of cancer" in her ribs, which is treatable if not curable.

Poor thing. I wish her well.

(Their son, Wade, was killed in a car accident in 1996, aged only 16)





Unfortunately, even without this latest sad occurence to the fortunes of Senator John Edwards' presidential hopes, I don't think this lightweight man had much of a chance to become the Democratic nominee, to begin with.

He's a bit like ex-Florida Senator Bob Graham, in the fact that on paper his credentials look good (Southerner, being nearly a prerequisite these days), but unlike Hangman Bob, when you hear what Edwards has to say, his views and spine are as gossamer-thin as paper.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Say Your Prayers

If there's one good thing about a lazy Catholic, is that we will always remember God in the height of our miseries.

So there I was, lying nearly prostrate on my bed yesterday, sneezing, snuffling, dripping, when my mother handed me a package from...the Vatican!

Had Pope Benny finally written me back, thanking me for my considerate ascension letter email, wayyy back in May 2005? Alas, no. It was the next best thing, though.

A rosary!





I love rosaries. I used to collect them as a kid, begging my mother to send me a pound note to buy the glow-in-the-dark one from a catalogue company whose coloured treasures tempted me, as another child might be tempted by Smarties or Jujubees.

I also love chaplets, ring rosaries, saint cards, mantillas, scapulars, souvenir holy water bottles, statuettes of Virgin this and Our Lady of that and all manner of Catholic tschoke, as you'll recall my mentioning in the recent iPod blogpost.

The Church of Apple has nothing on the Holy Roman and Apostolic Catholic Church when it comes to accessories. NOTHING.

(Heh. Amusingly, just as I typed this, up comes a pop-up from Apple saying that there is a new update for iTunes and QuickTime, and would I like to install them now or later. Well, not now. I'm composing this piece! Like Catholicism, Apple CAN be a tad inconvenient)

As I child, being a lonely Catholic amongst the heathen Anglicans in my school, although very nice High Church Anglicans admittedly, I used to be excused one hour for private meditation which I could take either in my room, at the library, or (my favourite) out of doors under a big oak we had in the back of the school.

The other girls were pea green in jealousy, as they saw me traipse off with my tschokes in hand. I grew to love the half-heartedly bigoted cries of "Papist!" (the French girl in our form pronouncing it, 'pah-peest", which to this day makes me laugh), because to me, it meant I was different, therefore very special and very very lucky.

I could sit under a tree for an hour, "meditating", whilst they had to do calisthenics with our butch gym teacher and her ear-drum shattering whistle. Suckazz.

Of course, when I actually got to the tree, and meditated, I often cracked open a book quite unrelated to Catholicism, and to the devotions I was there to do.

Did I feel guilty? Of course I felt guilty. I'm Catholic, do pay attention!

But here's the sticky wicket:

Feeling guilty has never stopped a Catholic to date, from doing what they want.

So I took a bite of that forbidden apple, and immersed myself doing what I really wanted to do: read all the short stories from Saki, James Thurber and novels, especially of Conrad, Dostoyevsky and Mann, my own Holy Trinity.

So now you know why I love write so damn convolutedly.

Years later, opening up a package posted from the Vatican of a rosary I had purchased online brought back all these childhood memories, as if from a shower of rose petals from Lisieux.

Childhood is thorny, ready to prick you at the most unexpected of moments, making you rear you back in pain each time, sucking your hurt before the blood drips too noticeably.

But oh how fragrant is the memory for all that.

All I have to do is to close my eyes, and remember that oak, that meditation hour, and my glow-in-the-dark rosary, to remember how much I love being a Catholic, and no matter how lazy a Catholic I am, it's a collectible, truant, mesmerising religion of the best kind.

P.S.: And yes, like Cordelia in Brideshead Revisited, our nuns did "offer" us black goddaughters, which you could name for one.

Jesuitically, I balked at the practise, thinking it rather foul to impose so much on so distant a person, so there are no black or Chinese Victorias running around this world, at least not because some English girl plunked down money to have them so baptised.

This must have been the beginnings of my cafeteria Catholicism, although in my case it's more like a diner. I sit down, order stuff I like, and proceed to make fun of the waitress with the bouffant hair named Big Mildred.

Surely only Jews have more happy fun with their religion, than I do.

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Churchy

Since I'm being all churchy today, as I recover from my bout with 'flu, I will post these two stories which I had saved up for another occasion.

But perhaps the moment is just right today.

Of course, all Catholics must internally come to terms with their religion, and some nominally go further than that, if they happen to disagree too much with the teachings.

Thus is born a Vatican-Free Catholic, which has always sounded like a good name for an occupied country's radio station, to me.

"All Catholic, all the time, from Rome to Reno and the beaches"

But I digress.

The other day, the Miami Horrible newspaper printed an article about the National Catholic Church, a breakaway church which has a local parish in Fort Lauderdale of about 40 ex-Catholics, led nationally by a charismatic (is there ever any other kind?) ex-bishop named Father Roy.





Father Roy, if you please! Who's his curate, Father Trigger?

And why is it that Father Roy looks waxy, like a Madame Tussaud's statuette? I could never follow a man with a gaze like that. It's positively constipated.

And that raised, free-from-embellishment pulpit looks too Episcopalian for words...no thanks.

But you know, to each Catholic his own.

Better that they join these breakaway sects than to impose their own beliefs, whilst still wanting to call themselves Catholics, on our Church. Buh-bye.

But words fail even me, to describe this "pastor" whose story of first proclaiming himself the Apostle Paul, then to claiming he was "the born Jesus Christ, Man" or "the man Christ Jesus" (whatever weird syntax that is supposed to be, I'm guessing in Boricua slang), then to finally deciding, nope, I'm the Anti-Christ, after all.

You might have seen his story recently, as his brother was on CNN claiming that he's a fraud, a charlatan, and that he's neither Paul, Jesus nor the horn of Gabriel.

He's just an ex-heroin addict from Puerto Rico who knows how to exploit Vatican-Free Catholics when he sees them. In a warehouse.

Here is Dr. Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda, claiming that amongst other things, he will never die. Nope, not he.

He's the Anti-Christ, or something.





It's the eyes. It's always the eyes. Creepsville.

Don't worry too much about this man, though.

Even Vatican-Free Catholics have to realise The Born Christ He's The Man Jesus doesn't wear a gold Rolex, and if he's so all-gosh darned immortal, why the HECK does he need 9 bodyguards?

Oh right. Because he's the Anti-Christ now. Gotcha.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

My Head Feels Like This




Suspended, mid-air.

Sorry guys, still out of it due to my wretched 'flu. I shall return just as soon as my legs can hold me up.

P.S.: I'm not sure what this is. An ad campaign for a new movie, I take it. Either way, it's very...disconcerting. Especially since you're driving on I-95, and suddenly see a car held up by wires and a parachutist in the corner of your eye.

P.P.S.: As they say, duh. I just saw that it was an advert for the Mini. I'm beginning to see Minis everywhere, which is not to my liking.

I didn't emigrate to America just to see damn British motors everywhere.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Speak Of The Devil




Just a turn-of-phrase, people. Don't all send me poison pen letters in Islamic rage.

Here is a timely snapshot, near Brickell Avenue in Miami proper. A lady covered in a flimsy version of the niqab, conversing with a male companion in front of her. I presume they live around the area, since the man has a lot of Winn-Dixie grocery bags in his hand.

The general Shenandoah/Brickell area is well-known to be a concentration for middle-to-upper class Middle Easterners, from Christian Lebanese to observant Muslims from Syria.

There are also lots of Greeks in the area, which makes for a hummus and tabouleh bonanza for those of us who love that sort of thing.

Check out the Daily Bread market, very near this shot above, at 2400 SW 27th St.

The Frommers guide says they are Greek, but I think they are mistaken, or else I'm thinking of another Middle Eastern market, which is like stepping into Ali Baba's cave for a moment.

I go there just to be able to ogle the INFINITE choices of olives in their brine, in barrels. Delicious.

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Nyquil Please, Mummy

I've had a relapse from last week's mini-cold, and this time, the sucker is really attacking my antibodies.

Frankly, my friends, I can barely string two sentences, which for my standards is almost cripple level. This is why I probably will go immediately to bed right after signing off Blogger, and attempt a blogpost tomorrow.

My mother has been an absolute brick, as ever, when I am laid low by grippe.

The woman who is on her 10th cellphone in 5 years, loses her keys once an hour, and has never been able to find her purse since I was a foetus, comes into her own when a member of her little family is sick.

Off she went, a tornado of organised caregiving on her way to Walgreen's to restock our medicine cabinet with the requisite cold necessities.

  • Nyquil (the Cherry-flavoured one) Night Formula


  • Robitussin DM


  • Tylenol Gel Caps


  • Puffs or Kleenex Aloe tissues


  • Vicks Vapor Rub (the Tub Size)


  • Ditto, but the inhaler one, which I call the Cocaine Snorter


  • Japanisches Heilpflanzenöl, which is like Vicks Turbo. If that doesn't clear your passages, NOTHING will


  • And when she arrived home, she handed me the Nyquil blue (menthol) bottle, which just thinking of it, disgusts me to my very core -- it tastes AWFUL.

    So, poor thing, off she went back to get me my desired knock-out drug of choice, this:





    The only problem is, no longer, apparently, do Vicks make Nyquil with cough suppressant. What the? Is Kitty Dukakis in rehab again?

    So, I'm off to sleep the sleep of the just, but possibly will wake up my entire family with my coughs, just because the Walgreen's was out of Robitussin DM.

    Yes. Half of South Florida has my same cold.

    Mothers are fighting for Kleenex like they did in the 1980s for Cabbage Patch Dolls. Oh well, see you anon!

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    Monday, March 19, 2007

    Take The Veil

    I rarely talk of anything Islamic on Sundries, you might have noticed.

    Firstly, I do not consider myself particularly wise on the topic -- salutary behaviour for one so given to throwing her knowledge about, you'll agree.

    Secondly, despite it being one of the hottest "hot button" issues of our day, with particular resonances in our post-9/11 world, I honestly never really thought there was anything wrong with a woman choosing to cover her face, religious reasons or not.

    I'll explain a little more about this, since paradoxically, I do not for one minute approve of the wearing of the veil. But note, this is a serio-comedic blogpost, in my usual vein, so please do not think you are in for some kind of lecture about Victoria's View Of The World, Part One: She Speaks!. You have quite enough on the sidebar, to keep you reading about that, for a long time.

    Thirdly, and perhaps most damning of my three admissions, is the mere fact that Islam and its many adherents simply have never held my attention enough, to have an opinion.

    I am an unrepetant, happy Europeanist, in my chosen field of History.

    Simply put, whilst there are any number of British Arabists...whilst my country has produced champions of foreign cultures from Lawrence of Arabia to Byzantine-and-Turkish expert, Steven Runciman, to a virtual gaggle of influential Sino historians, who pour over Chinese tracts as a monk would practise his daily Offices...and yes, even whilst we British have always had a preternatural fascination with the world beyond our drizzly shores (remember that line when you hear of our avowed insular reputation), I have never been so enraptured by the particular religion that is Islam, and its practitioners, as to warrant more than a cursory study of the topic.

    Of course, my standards of scholarship are high.

    "Cursory" to this born-bluestocking, might be "walking encyclopaedia" for your average person, though I doubt it. I've always thought this put down of "average person", to imply someone undereducated, to be ludicrous. Just ask Magnus Magnusson.

    Let's just say that I know the history of Islam, its major political figures and their byplays on geopolitics of their time, and at Oxford, have studied passages from the Koran and the hadith, cobbling all of this together with my experiences in my many travels.

    (As an aside, though I balked at using Turin for Torino during the recent Olympics, preferring to say Torino since Turin sounded ridiculous to my ear in context, I have no qualms about asserting English linguistics regarding Koran/Qu'ran, Moslem/Muslim, anymore than the French wring their hands about saying Pekin for Beijing. Only politically correct boobs need worry about such arbitrary silliness. But ever the inconsistent one, I prefer Muslim to Moslem, and thus will use that throughout this piece. If it irritates you, tough)

    With all of this as preface, and perhaps, half-embarrassed explanation, I choose to address the question of the wearing of the Veil as a blogpost, at long last.

    You might wonder, what exactly forced the issue, so to speak.

    Well, it was when I read this blogpost called, "Why Blair is wrong about the veil".

    In a diverse and broadly secular country like Britain, religion in the classroom is an inappropriate hangover from earlier days when Christianity was an essential part of national identity. It obviously isn’t now.


    Before this last sentence in the post, the author wrote in detail about his opinions on the wearing of the veil, couching them through his background as an ex-punk (albeit, a student one, not a bona fide punkee), whose outlandish dress he wore fully INTENDING to offend polite society.

    That was the whole bloody point!, he squeals in nostalgic delight.

    But as you can read, the author's final dictum in favour of the wearing of the veil -- and thus, contradicting Tony Blair's famous line of the veil being a "mark of separation" in British society -- has a lot more to do with distaste about religion, than with sympathies for outré behaviour.

    What is permissible in adults, he feels, should be less so with children, especially in the State sphere of school.

    A heady opinion to hold, indeed, for a self-described ex-student punk.

    Still, despite this glaring inconsistency in philosophy, which however I do hope he realises and concedes as being a mite hypocritical, everyone is allowed to challenge one's views, as one grows from child to man. Or indeed, woman.

    And this last word brings us to the point of the topic -- the wearing of the Veil is, by force, a topic solely of Islamic womanhood.

    I am not Muslim, but I am a woman, and as such, I can put myself in any woman's position if she decides to don a head or body-covering in public, for whatever reason.

    As such, I can fully understand the feelings of alienation, almost of mental breakdown, that this young Muslim Brit felt, when she experimented one day in wearing the niqab in public, to see how she would feel, not having been her family's custom so to do.

    I'll let her words speak for her:

    Things don't get much better at the National Portrait Gallery. I suppose I was half expecting the cultured crowd to be too polite to stare. But I might as well be one of the exhibits. As I float from room to room, like some apparition, I ask myself if wearing orthodox garments forces me to adopt more orthodox views. I look at paintings of Queen Anne and Mary II. They are in extravagant ermines and taffetas and their ample bosoms are on display.

    I look at David Hockney's famous painting of Celia Birtwell, who is modestly dressed from head to toe. And all I can think is that if all women wore the niqab how sad and strange this place would be. I cannot even bear to look at my own shadow. Vain as it may sound, I miss seeing my own face, my own shape. I miss myself. Yet at the same time I feel completely naked.

    In short, she felt like a freak.





    (I have to say here, perhaps unsympathetically to those reading this, that her feelings of freakdom are precisely what very tall women feel, or those who are born royal or famous, or any number of other people who stand out in any crowd.

    That it doesn't occur to people that others feel themselves to be as microscopic a material, every bit as niqab-wearing women, has a lot to do with feelings which always revert to their self-aware religiosity, and their victimhood in this post-9/11 world.

    Oh to be sure, I do not for one moment deny that there are any number of racist people in Britain, and they single out for abuse, Muslims, every day, but the REASONS for it, are not as cut-and-dried as Muslims would think. Bear with me, I will explain further, below)

    It's curious to imagine the opposing reactions of two British citizens, about the one and the same behaviour, based on uniqueness of dress.

    The first person wore his punkhood proudly, defiantly, flouting convention, and in fact, secretly hoping to be given odd little stares of disapproval, no doubt to cluck all too publicly about societies' conservative hangups.

    The second person does not wear her religious garb willingly, but as an experiment, it is true -- but instead of imagining how it would be to WANT to wear a niqab, as so many of her fellow Muslims do, all that comes to her mind is that she is made less woman by the covering, and therefore, less human.

    Not for one second does it occur to her, at least not in her Guardian piece, that the punk's attitude then, is a devout young British Muslim's attitude NOW about wearing the niqab in public, although not exclusively:

    Why, they are practically SPOILING for a fight about their clothes!

    They WANT to have the upper-hand on society, by pointing out just how intolerant, how racist, how mean-spirited the average person is, when confronted with "otherness".

    Otherness which for them, of course, means authenticity, and therefore, is a kind of social superiority, worn like a badge of courage for all to see.

    Every insult, every little sly look turned quickly away, every smirk and every fingerpoint becomes yet another way of damning their society around them.

    Thus, the attitude the marginalised always have had towards oppressive condemnation, which is as old as man, that of slinking degradation, is turned on its head.

    Victim no longer, now they are victors in the game of societal norms!

    And when you have the upper-hand, you are neither ignored, and in fact, can direct and control the topic, by preying on guilty consciences (myself and millions of others', included).

    I have two make two observations, which seem almost obvious, as to be mentioned. They are important though.

    The British are by cultural force, a nation of eccentrics.

    Nothing pleases us more than to tweak peoples' noses, to show them up as fuddy-duddies, not only because in doing so, you reinforce that you yourself are not such a fuddy-duddy, but because (really and truly, I'm not just speaking out of John Bull pride) we treasure the unique, and revere the silly.

    But though we may like our tea strong, we know that having it sweet at the same time, is excessive.

    That is the greatest failing of the British character -- and its utter bloody salvation:

    We loathe extremists. Moderation is our only true Bible, and humour, our hymnal.

    Eccentricity hurts no one, and even better, provides free and torrential amounts of entertainment for society: a blessing, as we all know how cheap and grumpy the British can be.

    Eccentricity for us, is not extreme, because of our delight in making fun of ourselves, as much as the other (but we hardly become shrinking violets, if we can only make fun of others). If you can't take yourself seriously, then surely, it follows you won't take others over-seriously, either.

    And this is what the modern attitude refuses to approve about extremists, which is so at odds with the British character.

    Section I of the UN Charter must surely read, "We, The Citizens of the World, Resolve Never To Deride Anyone For Anything At Anytime. Full Stop. And We Mean It. Seriously. We're Taking Names."

    Politeness disapproves of making comments of anything approaching a personal nature.

    Whereas Spanish priests enjoined their young not to touch themselves at night, we British were enjoined by our nannies, our parents and grandparents, and later schoolteachers NEVER EVER to make reference to someone's appearance, because this is the height of rudeness.

    But if you do so, at least make it witty.

    How, then, can one approach this scene,





    ...and NOT make fun of how incongruous burkha-wearing rugby players look?

    And since we're on the topic, this applies to these Bolivian polleras playing soccer (I'm only sorry I was unable to find one of them wearing their bowler hats. Nice skirts, though)...






    ...and just to show you there's no fly in my ointment, this is beyond ludicrous.





    So you see, having to stare at a woman wearing a niqab in public, during a visit to the National Portrait Gallery, and having to suppress a throaty chuckle, is an imposition on the British character.

    What makes everything particularly galling, is that we know we are NO WHERE close to being at that time when we can all have a good laugh, like we can at this Braemar Games "athlete", and just accept its incongruous lack of modernity for what it is, and go have a nice cup of tea together. Vivre et laissez vivre, und so weiter, and all that.

    Oh no, we're millenia away from that time with Islamic peoples, not just in their countries, but worse, in our SHARED countries, where we all live either by force of exile or lack of genetic imagination.

    This really irritates me no end. Fortunately, I don't resent it, but I feel I could, AND THAT makes me even more irritated!

    In no time at all, I could transform myself from amused spectator, to one of those tiresome extremists who wear their outrage on their sleeves, ready to whip out their Coda of Acceptable Politically Correct Behaviour, at a moment's notice.

    I am limiting my observations to Britain, because it's what I know best, but I suspect many people around the world share my exasperation.

    The French obsession with their laïque precepts at odds with religiosity; German dogmatism and love of correcting civilised temperatures vis-à-vis clothing; the Italian love of arguing the finer points of that which others consider untouchable; the Finnish ability to text-message Lévy-Strauss and Max Weber on their mobiles.

    All of these and more, contribute to a sense of -- when will Muslims understand, it's not always about your religion...

    But sometimes about your humourless self-absorption?

    Even the fact that this poor girl that I mentioned, was insistent on making it known that those who gave her the worst stinkeye, were Muslims themselves (her piece is entitled, 'Even other Muslims turn and look at me'), is STILL approaching everything as a humourless, self-absorbed person would.

    Maybe she reaked of bad perfume, wore last year's fashions in niqabs, or maybe she was wearing white high-tops after Labour Day, who knows!

    At least, presume there is that possibility.

    Don't just go for the old chestnut, they hate me because I am an observant Muslim.

    Very well, let's assume she was right, for the sake of prolonging my blogpost.

    She was wearing a niqab in public, in Britain, all she encountered everywhere, was suspicion, laced with hatred, sprinkled with ridicule.

    Why?

    No, don't make the mistake the first blogger made, and leapfrog over all the other reasons, over to why "Religion is Awful, And We Should Abolish It, Then We Wouldn't Have These Problems."

    As sure as I am sitting here, we would have these problems, with or without religion. Look at Soviet Russia. Heck, God was streng verboten in their country for over 75 years, and still they managed to have problems.

    No, sir. If you can't give original, non knee-jerk liberal responses, at least give me original reasons not approved by the Comintern or local council, which often amounts to the same thing.

    As a wise woman once said, "Give me a good reason to buy ice-cream in winter, and I will."

    I only said that once, though.

    Meanwhile, as you ponder your reasons, I will restate mine. They are called, officially, the 3 "E"s.

    WHY PEOPLE MAKE FUN OF MUSLIMS AND THE WEARING OF THE VEIL (SOMETIMES -- NOT ALWAYS, BUT SOMETIMES, AND USUALLY IN EUROPE...ALTHOUGH IN OTHER PLACES TOO)


  • EXTREMISM

  • This is the worst of the lot, by far. We can work with excess and we can reason with eccentricity, but we are practically impotent in front of extremism.

    The wearing of the veil reminds people of the MODERN extremes of Islam as opposed to the vanquished extremes of Christianity. It's no good Muslims pointing out that they are being judged by the folly of a few, or that most Muslims don't wear the hijab and its variants, let alone condone terrorism.

    It's enough that many do, and though you protest, your voice carries no weight with them. On the contrary, being an apostate, you will be singled out and possibly killed.

    If you try to make this argument, we will argue back that the worst parts of our Christian religions have long since been defanged. Sure, it's a recent occurence, and in the past, we were as bad as your extremism today.

    But that's the past, unless you want to argue with progress, and I warn you, progress is a good debater so you don't stand a good chance of winning that argument.

    There are any number of Imams, Ayatollahs, and other learned Islamic scholars and quasi-religious leaders who use Islam to do their dirty work, who enjoin your coreligionists to carry out blasphemes against their peaceful faith, for you to look weak in arguing the contrary.

    If my Pope, whom I adore, and respect, were to tell me to pack explosives around my body, and kill Muslims everywhere, I would (rhetorically, you understand), spit in his eye, and call him a false man of God. Other Catholics would trample over me, in their rush to do the same.

    He would be discredited instantly, and possibly have to retire, though we may keep him around for touristic reasons.

    Ditto for the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Stockholm, Monsignor This, Cardinal That. Even the nuns wouldn't escape censure.

    Having mentioned the nuns, I am reminded of having been paddled when young. Yes, even today, children are paddled all over the world, because they spoke a bad word in class, or did their sums wrong.

    But by and large, corporal punishment is at a discount in the West. The gibbet, the noose, Iron Maiden.

    All these instruments of grisly torture clearly belong to a different world.

    But in your more observant Islamic societies, hands are still cut off for theft, you are flogged, hanged, and beheaded for any number of Sharia-approved reasons. Worse, the possibility exists in Islam, that though the more "modern" Muslim countries don't do this at all, they could later on, like Iran.

    No Christian country could bring back being drawn and quartered by horse, by fiat of the government. NO ONE. If they did, they would be tried for crimes against humanity. Not being in favour of capital punishment, please do not rebut my point with that argument. You'll get no traction with me.

    To sum up, you have too many extremists, even in relation to your vast numbers of peaceful people. We don't, and that makes you scary.

    Forcing women to wear veils in some countries, doesn't make better the freedom of choice of doing so in others, even during social experiments.

    I am not sure how this will change, but if I could give you a word of advice, religion/Islam isn't the problem. The problem is culture. Tackle that, and you will be on your way to a justly wonderful religion, where official indifference, not submission or dhimmi "tolerance" is the rule.

    If you plan to retool the world to your own specifications, you will have to blow us all up into smithereens, and start all over again.

    And well, if you want that, you're an extremist. Nuff said.

  • EXCESS

  • Unless you haven't noticed, the modern world was forged by the West. It's a toughie, I know, but there you are.

    And modernity likes LESS clothing, not more.

    Everywhere you turn, in every decade, we in the West have been reducing our clothing coil.

    From bustles, to corsets, to gloves, finally to the wearing of hats, and yes, even of scarves in certain countries (like wherever the Muslims settled, as in Malta, Romania, and Spain...), we are throwing off our constraints, and going commando.

    Meanwhile, there you are. With your head-to-foot covering, even if that means a pair of trousers, and an Hermès headscarf.

    Why, the whole concept of the niqab is at odds with modernity, for the mere fact that there is nothing wrong, wicked nor beast-inducing about the female form, except in the minds of fevered men (which I concede is about 99.3% of them).

    But though it is true that we run the risk of rape by wearing next to nothing in public, that it DOESN'T HAPPEN as often, or as much as you presumably think it would, is enough to make us wonder why you think it would.





    Is it that you do not trust yourselves? That a woman is a mere object of lust, and not an human being selling herself to the nearest Girls Gone Wild producer, BUT, of her own accord for some more Jello shots?

    You think our Old Testament didn't counsel us to dress modestly, either? Of course, it did! And some do.

    But that's their choice, even though it came from the word of God Himself (allegedly, although I do believe it, but then I believe anything).

  • ECCENTRICITY

  • In your case, it's eccentricity of dress based on what I wrote above...not the wearing of funny hats during Christmas dinner, like we do in Britain.

    Eccentrics in dress must be willing to face down giggles, and they know this.

    Hassidic Jews in the West know this. The Amish in Pennsylvania know this. The Queen knows this.

    Look, the niqab is not something people can ignore, and therefore it stands out as an eccentricity of dress in the West. For you to cloak yourselves, pun intended, in a religious fervour to mask this fact, counts against you in our eyes.

    If you make the suggestion that your dress should be honoured just like a kilt is tolerated, I say, no.

    Here are the equivalents, if that were the case.

    This is how a German kid would come dressed to school.





    Or a Chinese kid (cue not optional either).





    Or how about a Dutch girl.





    OF COURSE we're going to laugh at the thought of a girl in Dutch wimple and clogs stepping out to do her shopping or visit a museum.

    And if you think we won't do the same because of your niqab, I just have one thing left to say:

    Get over yourselves.


    P.S.: To be serious for a moment, here is a recent case of a Muslim woman who sued the State of Florida for not allowing her to wear a niqab on her Florida drivers licence.

    In the beginning of this blogpost, I stated that à priori, I had no objections to the wearing of the veil, and indeed, despite my dismissive tone, I don't. You think I've never had a friend in Britain who wore one? Of course, I did.

    It's not that, which gets me, but occasions like this, of the intolerance of forced tolerance.

    The verdict, for those interested:

    "Although the court acknowledges that plaintiff herself most likely poses no threat to national security, there likely are people who would be willing to use a ruling permitting the wearing of full-face cloaks in driver's license photos by pretending to ascribe to religious beliefs in order to carry out activities that would threaten lives," Circuit Judge Janet C. Thorpe said in her ruling."

    Note, it was a lady judge. Floridians are no fools, even if we do misplace children now and then.

    I believe the Muslim lady's husband said he would countersue, but since I haven't heard much about it, I think his suit was thrown out.

    By the way, the CNN article (uncharacteristically) tartly points out the following:

    Saudi Arabia: Women aren't allowed to drive
    Iran: Women wear a traditional chador, which does not cover the face.
    Egypt: Women do not cover their face in I.D. pictures
    United Arab Emirates: Women do not cover their face in I.D. pictures
    Oman: Women do not cover their face in I.D. pictures
    Kuwait: Women do not cover their face in I.D. pictures
    Qatar: Women do not cover their face in I.D. pictures
    Bahrain: Women do not cover their face in I.D. pictures
    Jordan: Women can drive if their faces are covered but do not cover their face in I.D. pictures

    The upshot is quite palpable.

    Why are you asking us to tolerate something which is not even the custom in your countries of origin? Based on...your religion? An excuse which doesn't even apply to countries where your religions are practised??

    Here's a conundrum for you:

    You want to keep your face covered for an IDENTITY CARD.

    What's wrong with this picture?

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    Oldtimers




    I bet you these two oldtimers, have some tales to tell.

    My guess is that the gentleman at the left is called Otis, and that's his buddy, Ray, having finally decided to pull up stakes from his flophouse, and move in with his daughter in Georgia.

    I fancy that Otis was a schoolteacher, but one who dabbled in music once. There he met Ray at Tobacco Road, during the heady days when Duke, Ella and Count Basie still made Overtown jumpin', after hours.

    Godspeed, Ray!

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