The “Ground Zero mosque,” and two disturbing trends

27 August 2010

I’ve put this one off long enough.  Too long, maybe.

In recent weeks, we’ve all been inundated with the arguments for and against the plans for Cordoba House, the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” in lower Manhattan.  Many prominent politicians (mostly on the Republican side) have decried this move by Manhattan’s Muslims as an insult to the memory of those who died in the 9/11 attacks — attacks perpetrated by people who called themselves Muslims.  Many other politicians (largely Democrats) have defended the right of the group to meet at their chosen site, and point out statements by the imam in charge of the project supporting tolerance and patriotism.  Pols on both sides have used it as a rallying point for the upcoming elections, and the pollsters are buttonholing all and sundry to ask their opinions.  Yada yada yada.

I don’t have a strong opinion on where a Muslim congregation on the East Coast should meet (and yes, that is a nice way of saying I really don’t care).  But in the midst of all the sturm und drang, I’ve noticed two trends on the part of those against the proposed use of the site that I find quite alarming.

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The generation gap, film version

26 August 2010

(Blogger’s note: took me a while to figure out the details of how to do this — what can I say, it’s been busy and I’m getting old — but I’ve figured out how to use my Twitter account to notify you, my esteemed reader, of blog updates.  If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me here and be notified whenever I put up a new post.  If you’re not on Twitter, you can always sign up — why not, it’s free — then follow the steps above.  So there you go.)

Today was another in a long series of hectic days, so when I got a chance to take a break around 3:20 p.m., I took it.  I followed my usual pattern (lock self in office, goof off on Internet) for about forty minutes, and I felt better.

But that’s not what I’m writing about today.  What I’m writing about is that when I came out of the office to start working on dinner, I found my wife and kids watching Star Wars.

In the interest of full disclosure: I was never a big Star Wars fan.  I had a bunch of the action figures when I was a kid, but I mostly used them to make up my own stories (kind of like how I write fanfic now).  I saw the movies, but largely because my mom (who was a fan) dragged me along with her so she wouldn’t have to go alone.  I still haven’t seen Attack of the Clones or Revenge of the Sith or even George Lucas in Love, and the only reason I own VHS copies of the original trilogy is that I inherited them when Mom died.  I didn’t hate them or anything — they were fun little space Westerns — but not a big deal for me.  Today was probably the first time I’ve seen more than a short clip of Episode IV in over a decade.

And I was shocked by it.  I was shocked by … heck, I’m no diplomat, might as well just say it … by how cheap it looked!

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The latest on Sean – summer edition

23 August 2010

Been a busy last few weeks for our Seanster Monster.  Doctors have been oohing and aahing over him … bureaucracies have been fretting …  and his family has been doing their best to keep him up and going (when they have the energy).  We’re now into Year 2 of his Leigh’s disease, and he continues to, slowly but surely, defy the odds.

Okay, details.  His 3 August appointment with his pediatrician went well – we transferred responsibility for his prescriptions over to her, and she increased his food intake from four cans of formula per day (1000 calories) to five (1250), with an eventual goal of 1600 calories.  Dr. Abraham has worked to make herself knowledgeable about Leigh’s and about Sean’s outlier status in relation to it, so we’re pretty pleased with her.  We set up a follow-up appointment for 3 September, and figured we were sitting pretty.

Er, not quite.

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Quick fanfic update

18 August 2010

Just stopping in while hurrying from one place to the next — things have been busy here at Chez Anselmeau (mostly Sean-related), and are likely to stay that way through the end of the month.  But I have posted the first three chapters of my new Iron Man fanfic, entitled “Hearts and Souls,” and you can check them out here.  I’m still working on doing at least one chapter per month until it’s all done (probably next summer).  Keeping the fiction muscles limber …

(One disclaimer, though: in the movies, Tony Stark cusses a little.  In my fanfic, he does too.  It’s not how I’d prefer him to talk, but when you’re using other people’s characters you have to respect the conventions they set up.  If swear words (not blasphemy, just cussin’) bother you, feel free to skip it.  I won’t be offended.)

Also, a sneak preview of things here at the Professional Outsider … in the coming days I plan to write about:

  • The controversy over the so-called “Ground Zero mosque,” and why I find it so disturbing.
  • WhyI have problems with college football, at least at the higher levels.
  • A full update on Sean’s progress.

And who knows what else?  Stay tuned — it’s gonna be fun!

So much for my predictive ability

16 August 2010

Sometimes the best blog entries are the ones you don’t write.

Last Friday, I’d planned to do a column on the upcoming weekend’s three-way showdown at movie theaters between The Expendables, Eat Pray Love and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.  I was going to give it a WWE-style introduction (“Good God … th-that’s Scott Pilgrim’s music!”) and recap the casting by some of Expendables as the Great Masculine Hope against the feminization of Hollywood represented by EPL (as documented here).  And I was going to end with a prediction — that due to its appeal to youth of both genders, I thought Scott Pilgrim might win the weekend box office title in a squeaker over Expendables.

Well, Friday I was dragging a little, and then proceeded to burn my arm taking a pizza out of the oven (in the process also flipping the pizza over, causing it to splatter on the kitchen floor and thus ruining the planned family dinner).  So, pretty much shot for the rest of the night,  I decided I’d take a run at it the next morning before taking in a noon showing of Expendables.  (Alone, alas — my planned wingman went on the 15-day DL with a bad toothache.)

Well, Saturday morning they released the box office estimates for U.S. ticket sales Friday:

  1. The Expendables: $12 million
  2. Eat Pray Love: $8 million
  3. The Other Guys: $6 million
  4. Inception: $4.7 million (after being in theaters for a month)
  5. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: $4.5 million

And the numbers remained consistent for the rest of the weekend, except for Scott Pilgrim … which earned less each subsequent day.  For Friday-Sunday, Expendables finished with $35 million in domestic sales, Eat Pray Love with $23.7 million, and Scott Pilgrim still in fifth with $10.5 million.  So wouldn’t I have looked like a prize nimrod if I’d posted that blog entry?  (More than usual, I mean.)

But it got me thinking … why do we have such an attraction to predictions?

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“Mom has a problem” (a parable)

12 August 2010

(Blogger’s note: the following is something I wrote up in 2008 or 2009, I forget.  I came across it again recently and thought it might be worth sharing with my fellow denizens of Outside-the-Camp (Hebrews 13:13).  Enjoy!)

Mom has a problem.

I’ve been around her my whole life, and for most of that time I wasn’t really aware that anything about her was unusual.  That’s normal for kids – you don’t have the benefit of experience to tell you when something (or someone) isn’t quite right.  But now that I’m an adult, the conclusion is unavoidable.

It’s clear.  Mom has a problem.

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The better mousetrap, or “Why I like Netflix”

11 August 2010

You’ve heard the phrase, “build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door”?  The quote is usually credited to Ralph Waldo Emerson, although he died several years before the line ever appeared in print — and several years before the modern mousetrap was invented — but Emerson did say something similar:

If a man has good corn or wood, or boards, or pigs, to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house, though it be in the woods.

And by and large it’s true — provided, of course, that the man is able to get the word out about his better corn, chairs or church organs.  Innovation for the better will always attract people away from the old and inferior, as long as there are no entrenched powers preventing it.  That’s why we don’t ride around on horses much anymore, or store food in the basement, or do basic research by laboriously leafing through books.  It’s much more efficient, speedy and easy to use automobiles, refrigerators and the Internet.  (That Emerson quote above — I cut and pasted it from Wikipedia.  Took me two minutes to find it and ten seconds to insert it here …)

And that’s why I can drive around my hometown and see empty storefronts that used to be video rental stores.  Because something better came along, and we created a broad hard-beaten road to it.  Or in a word, Netflix.

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