July 30, 2005

Down, but not out

I'm back.

This past week, I was ill with what was probably a mild case of Dengue Fever. On Friday, the 22nd, I started feeling ill at school. (I wish I had known just how ill I was going to get because then I would have left school immediately, instead of waiting several hours for my wife to pick me up. But that's all hindsight.) By about midnight that night, my fever peaked around 39-something Celcius (103* Farenheight), and it only started going down after I had the equivalent of a sponge bath. By late Sunday night, my fever finally broke enough to where I didn't feel like my mind was in a fog. However, on Monday, I had four major nosebleeds, the last at the hospital (and a fifth on Tuesday morning). The rest of the week I spent at home, where I've been resting - and yes, I did need the full week to recover.

Anyway, I'll probably go back to work on Monday (gotta shave off this week's worth of beard growth :) ), and I hope to resume this blog as well.

July 20, 2005

I'm Confused

I've just come across two news stories that make for a very odd juxtaposition. On the one hand, I came across James Carroll's article, The Border Mentality, in which he talks about how Zaki Badawi was refused admittance to the United States to give a speech at the Chautauqua Institution.

"...a distinguished leader of the Islamic community in London was refused admittance into the United States at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. Zaki Badawi is an Egyptian-born scholar, the principal of the Muslim College in London, which trains imams and Islamic leaders, emphatically preparing them to build bridges with British culture. Holding a doctorate from the University of London, Badawi has been knighted by Queen Elizabeth, has served as an adviser to Tony Blair, and is co-editor of an interfaith magazine with an archbishop and a chief rabbi. He is in his 80s.

"Badawi was en route to the Chautauqua Institution in western New York, where he was to give a major address on the compatibility of Islam and Western culture. But on Wednesday evening, US border officials at JFK detained the elderly scholar for six hours, then put him on a plane back to England."

On the other hand, you have another story (N.B. man, caught with bloody chainsaw, charged with murder faces extradition) about a Canadian murderer who was admitted into the United States by the border guards. (Look at this guy's eyes on the story's website, and tell me he's not a loon.)

WASHINGTON (CP) - A New Brunswick man who arrived at the U.S. border toting a red-stained chainsaw faces a hearing Thursday on whether he should be returned to Canada for trial in the murder of an elderly couple - a country musician who was beheaded and his spouse who was stabbed.

Residents in Minto, N.B., where the gruesome attack occurred, say they cannot believe Despres was allowed into the United States after arriving at the border with a backpack full of weapons.

Despres, a Canadian-born, naturalized U.S. citizen who was the elderly couple's next-door neighbour, showed up at the border April 25 with a chainsaw that had red stains on it. He also had a home-made sword with an engraved swastika, a hatchet, a knife, a mouth guard, two brass knuckles and a can of pepper spray.

William Heffelfinger, a senior U.S. Customs official, said last month that Despres was stripped of his weapons, fingerprinted and questioned for about three hours. Despres boasted he was a "trained sniper with over 700 kills," Heffelfinger said.

So, is it reasonable to conclude that there's more to fear from an 80-something British Muslim Peer than there is from a chainsaw-toting Canadian murderer? I'm confused. You tell me.

July 19, 2005

Fatwa Against the 7/7 Bombing

Part of an article, which announces a fatwa against suicide bombings:

"Ten days after Islamic radicals carried out deadly attacks on the London transport system, Britain's largest Sunni Muslim group has issued a binding religious edict, a fatwa, condemning the July 7 suicide bombings as the work of a 'perverted ideology.'


"In Birmingham, Jama'at e Ahl e Sunnat, or the Sunni Council, said the bombings were against Islam, adding that any type of suicide attack was against the Koran.

"'Who has given anyone the right to kill others? It is a sin. Anyone who commits suicide will be sent to hell,' said Mufti Muhammad Gul Rehman Qadri, the council's chairman.

"'What happened in London can be seen as a sacrilege. It is a sin to take your life or the life of others.'

"The council also targeted terror groups who influence others to do their bidding in the fatwa.

"'Leaving aside the atrocities being committed in Palestine and Iraq, the attacks in London have no Islamic justification, are totally condemned and we equally condemn those who may have been behind the masterminding of these acts, those who incited these youths in order to further their own perverted ideology,' the group's fatwa said.

You Can't Be Muslim! You've Got Freckles!

A nice, but all too brief article: What it's like to wear a head covering in the Bluegrass. Some of the better quips:

"Strangers often ask where we're from, expecting 'Saudi Arabia' or 'Iraq.' The answer -- born and raised in Lexington -- usually surprises them. A saleswoman once complimented my language skills: 'Wow, you speak really good English.'"


"A sweet older gentleman was shocked when I answered 'I'm Muslim' after he asked why I cover my hair. 'You can't be Muslim, young lady. You've got freckles,' he said earnestly."


"Strangers often assume my hijab signifies that I will be a quiet, shy person. They're often surprised to discover otherwise. A college friend was initially shocked by my extroverted, quick-witted behavior. It quickly vanquished her stereotypes that Muslim women are submissive, she later told me."

July 14, 2005

Tom Friedman and "Deaf" Americans

This post is a culmination of several articles I've read over the past few days. The impetus for this post was the article, "Muslim leaders condemning terror to deaf?" In the article, Mark Woods asked the question, "Why don't we hear Muslim leaders condemning terrorism?" His answer was, they do condemn terrorism. "Maybe we're not listening." Ameen!

Woods also referred to a recent article by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. Friedman wrote, "To this day, no major Muslim cleric or religious body has ever issued a fatwa condemning Osama bin Laden." Now, I like Tom Friedman as a writer. I've read tons of his columns and all of his books with the exception of his most recent effort (I'm waiting for it to come out in paperback, insha'allah). Anyone who's familiar with Friedman knows that he's knowledgeable about Islam. But this was a really stupid statement on Tom's part, and I'm rather surprised that he wrote it. He's not the kind of right-wing idiot (like "fill in your favorite neo-con redneck blowhard here") who normally writes or speaks first and considers the facts later (if at all). So it was with great pleasure to see that Woods had rebutted Friedman's statement with the work of University of Michigan History Professor, Dr. Juan Cole. Cole's blog, Informed Comment, has a somewhat lengthy post in which he cites numerous "major Muslim clerics and religious bodies" that have all issued fatawa against OBL. And (hoping that Dr. Cole doesn't mind), I'm republishing that post below because, in part, I know that my Muslim brothers and sisters can use this information against those "deaf" Americans (like Friedman) who are (and remain) ill-informed about our resistance against the likes of OBL.

Friedman Wrong About Muslims Again
And the Amman Statement on Ecumenism

Tom Friedman is a Middle East expert who knows a lot about Islam. Why, then, does he keep saying misleading things? He wrote in his latest column, "To this day - to this day - no major Muslim cleric or religious body has ever issued a fatwa condemning Osama bin Laden."

A "fatwa" is simply a considered opinion of a Muslim jurisconsult. Such opinions are numerous. First of all, almost all the major Shiite Grand Ayatollahs have condemned Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. You could say that is easy, since Shiites don't generally like Wahhabis. But they are the leaders of 120 million Muslims (some ten percent of the 1.2 billion). So that is one. Tracking these things down is time-consuming, but this should do:
Ayatollah Muhammad Husain Fadlallah of Lebanon condemns Osama Bin Laden.

So then what about the Sunni world? The leading moral authority for Sunnis is the rector or Grand Imam of the al-Azhar Seminary/ University in Cairo, Egypt. Al-Azhar is perhaps the world's oldest continuous university and has been since the time of Saladin a major center of Sunni religious authority. The current incumbent is Shaikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi. So what about Tantawi and Bin Laden?

Grand Imam of Al-Azhar seminary, Shaikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, condemns Osamah Bin Laden. And:

The Grand Imam of al-Azhar Seminary, Shaikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, condemns Osamah Bin Laden.

What about Pakistan? Admittedly, it has some clerics who are fans of Bin Laden, or at least who would avoid condemning him. But the allegation Friedman is making is that no major cleric has condemned him. Try this: Prominent Pakistani Cleric Tahir ul Qadri condemns Bin Laden.

I don't personally care for Yusuf al-Qaradawi. He is an old-time Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood preacher who fled to Qatar and now has a perch at al-Jazeera. But he does have some virtues. He is enormously popular among Muslim fundamentalists. And, he absolutely despises Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Al-Qaradawi has repeatedly condemned the latter. He even gave a fatwa that it was a duty of Muslims to fight alongside the US in Afghanistan against al-Qaeda! See also:
Yusuf al-Qaradawi condemns al-Qaeda.

There are also substantial Muslim communities in Europe with leaderships that have explicitly condemned Bin Laden. E.g.:

Spanish Muslim Clerical authorities Issue Fatwa against Osamah Bin Laden. There are on the order of 250,000 Muslims in Spain.

High Mufti of Russian Muslims calls for Extradition of Bin Laden. The Russian Muslim community is about 20 million strong, or 15 percent of Russia's 143 million population, and is growing rapidly, so that in a century Russia may be 50 percent Muslim. So this is not a pro forma thing here.

A good round-up on this sort of issue has been put up by al-Muhajabah.

See also Charles Kurzman's page.

Friedman also does refer to a major conference of Muslim clerics, thinkers and notables wound up just Wednesday that made a powerful statement about religious tolerance and condemned everything Osama Bin Laden stands for. But he seems oddly unaware of the significance of having Grand Ayatollah Sistani, Grand Imam of al-Azhar Seminary Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, and many other great Muslim authorities sign off on this epochal statement of Muslim ecumenism.

The statement forbids one Muslim to declare another "not a Muslim" if the believer adheres to any of the mainstream legal rites of Sunnism and Shiism. The whole basis of al-Qaeda is to call the Muslim leaders of countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, as well as Shiites, "not Muslims." The statement also demands that engineers should please stop pretending to issue fatwas, which should be left to trained clerical jurisconsults. This para. is also a slam at Bin Laden.

PS As for Friedman's main point, that Muslims haven't done a good job of fighting jihadi ideology and terrorism, it is bizarre. The Algerian government fought a virtual civil war to put down political Islam, in which over 100,000 persons died. The Egyptians jailed 20,000 or 30,000 radicals for thought crimes and killed 1500 in running street battles in the 1990s and early zeroes. Al-Qaeda can't easily strike in the Middle East precisely because Syria, Egypt, Algeria, etc. have their number and have undertaken massive actions against them. What does Friedman want? And, besides, he is wrong that this is only a Muslim problem. In the global age all problems are everybody's. That's part of flat world, too, Tom.

July 12, 2005

A Passage from India

I found this article of interest, an essay on one man's journey to America and his thoughts on outsourcing, the American educational system, and life as an immigrant (from India to the US and, perhaps for his children in the future, from the US back to India). Selected quotations:

"When I moved to Queens, in New York City, at the age of 14, I found myself, for the first time in my life, considered good at math. In Bombay, math was my worst subject, and I regularly found my place near the bottom of the class rankings in that rigorous subject. But in my American school, so low were their standards that I was - to my parents' disbelief - near the top of the class. It was the same in English and, unexpectedly, in American history, for my school in Bombay included a detailed study of the American Revolution. My American school curriculum had, of course, almost nothing on the subcontinent's freedom struggle. I was mercilessly bullied during the 1979-80 hostage crisis, because my classmates couldn't tell the difference between Iran and India.[*] If I were now to move with my family to India, my children - who go to one of the best private schools in New York - would have to take remedial math and science courses to get into a good school in Bombay."


"There is a perverse hypocrisy about the whole jobs debate, especially in Europe. The colonial powers invaded countries like India and China, pillaged them of their treasures and commodities and made sure their industries weren't allowed to develop, so they would stay impoverished and unable to compete.[**] Then the imperialists complained when the destitute people of the former colonies came to their shores to clean their toilets and dig their sewers; they complained when later generations came to earn high wages as doctors and engineers; and now they're complaining when their jobs are being lost to children of the empire who are working harder than they are. My grandfather was once confronted by an elderly Englishman in a London park who asked, 'Why are you here?' My grandfather responded, 'We are the creditors.' We are here because you were there.

"The rich countries can't have it both ways. They can't provide huge subsidies for their agricultural conglomerates and complain when Indians who can't make a living on their farms then go to the cities and study computers and take away their jobs. Why are Indians willing to write code for a tenth of what Americans make for the same work? It's not by choice; it's because they're still struggling to stand on their feet after 200 years of colonial rule."


"And just in case, I'm making sure my children learn Hindi."

Personal Comments:

* And they still can't tell the difference...between Hindus and Muslims, Sihks and Muslims, etc.

** This sentence reminded me of a facile argument I used to see on the Beliefnet Islam Debate boards. "We Christians of the West, we're so great; the greatness of the American/European economy proves how wonderful Christianity is..." ad nauseum. But this guy shows that he understands the historical roots to how Western economies got to the point where they are today and why economies in former colonial lands (Muslim, Hindu, African, etc.) still struggle today.

Ask Dr. Slobodchikoff!

Last night, as I got into bed, I mentioned to my wife that I had read an interesting article on the work of Con Slobodchikoff, a Northern Arizona University biology professor and "prairie dog linguist." In the article, Dr. Slobodchikoff says that he's uncovered twenty or so "words" that Prairie Dogs use among themeselves, including a word for humans. When I said this to my wife, she said, "Really? What is it?" :)

I guess I had a really flabbergasted look on my face because she then burst out laughing for five minutes. How the hell do I know what a "word" is that a Prairie Dog would use? :) Ask Dr. Slobodchikoff! :)

Very Good Response!

The following came from one of those comment boards to an article posted on Iviews.com. The question asked by "Dhimma" (whom you can tell is going to be anti-Muslim just from "her" nick) is one of those garden-variety "I hate Muslims, but I don't know as much as I think I do so I'm going to ask a question that really highlights my ignorance of the world around me"-type questions. :) Anyway, "she" wrote:

Just a single question
If all Muslims are not terrorists, why are almost all terrorists Muslims...?
It is perhaps time for the Umma to wake up and open its eyes...

But what really surprised me is that the editor of this forum responded to "her" immediately (I've never seen this happen on this board before). Anyway, the answer was:

Editor's Response
Here is a list of some non-Muslim organizations that have been designated as terrorist.

Armata Corsa - France
Aum Shinrikyo - Japan
Basque Homeland and Freedom - Spain
Chukaku-Ha - Japan
Irish Republican Army - Northern Ireland
Japanese Red Army - Japan
Kach and Kahane Chai - Israel
Lautaro Youth Movement - Chile
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam - Sri Lanka
Loyalist Volunteer Force - Northern Ireland
Manuel Rodriquez Patriotic Front - Chile
Moranzanist Patriotic Front - Honduras
National Liberation Army Colombia - Colombia
National Liberation Front of Corsica - France
Nestor Paz Zamora Commission (CNPZ) - Bolivia
New People's Army - Philippines
Palestine Liberation Front - Iraq
Party of Democratic Kampuchea - Cambodia
Qibla and People Against Gangsterism and Drugs - South Africa
Real IRA - Northern Ireland
Red Army Faction - Germany
Red Brigades - Italy
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - Colombia
Revolutionary Organization 17 November - Greece
Revolutionary People's Struggle - Greece
Sendero Luminoso - Peru
Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement - Peru
United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia - Colombia

Good job, Editor! :)

July 7, 2005

The Constitution also protects Muslims in America

This article, by Jafar Siddiqui, was good. These are the types of stories that make me question whether I can ever bring my wife back with me to America. Can Americans be trusted to treat her with respect? I sincerely doubt it. In the meantime, Muslims here in SE Asia don't have nearly the problems that American Muslims seem to be having with non-Muslims. Granted, countries like Indonesia and Malaysia are majority-Muslim, but even here in Singapore, with a Muslim population of only 14% of the total, we are treated with respect by the Chinese and Indian populations. I have never heard of a single incident here in Singapore since I've been here like any that Mr. Siddiqui mentions in this article.

IMVHO, Americans need to grow up. They need to learn tolerance, lose their ethnocentrism, and greatly improve their understanding of the world at large, especially with regard to other peoples, cultures, and religions. Because every article that comes out on the Internet, like Mr. Siddiqui's, - and the Internet is a global medium - shows more and more how disgraceful many Americans are.

I was dropping off my daughter at Mountlake Terrace High for the last day of school last month. As I pulled into the circular driveway, I blocked another car for a few seconds as my daughter disembarked.

The driver honked and I got out, thinking it was someone I knew. It was not. She rolled down her window: "You are not supposed to stop in that lane!" Her window went up. Then, as she zipped past me, she rolled her window down again and yelled, "Go back to your country... !" I was so shocked that I missed the muffled adjectives as the window went up again.

Less than a week later, a man I thought was my friend told me that as long as I refused to respect George Bush, he would continue to classify me and "my people" — Muslims in America — as terrorist sympathizers. He also told me that he has not met any Muslim in America that he respects.

By and large, this is what it comes down to: Muslims in America have to keep professing their loyalty to this country as a daily rite of passage, and even then we are suspect. We are subjected to a constant barrage of hate and suspicion from the top levels of the Bush administration to the lay people we encounter every day.

Politicians remain silent because they know Muslim-bashing is in and they do not wish to be seen as "soft on terrorism." Self-styled "experts" conceal their hate messages in long, pseudo-intellectual discourses explaining just how murderous and nasty we Muslims are. Our constitutional rights are discarded like used bubble gum on the sidewalk as more and more of us are thrown in jails without the constitutional guarantees of due process, without charges or trials. We are judged guilty with little possibility of proving otherwise; we would need to be tried first.

Reactions of "normal Americans" continue to shock me. Once when I was bemoaning the treatment of some people, a friend asked me quite innocently, "But they are Muslims, aren't they?" On more than one occasion I have been told by friends that we are in a war and some things have to be tolerated during such times.

Silly me! I always thought constitutional protections were meant to kick in when things get bad, not when I am sipping tea while lying in my hammock.

I have spoken to some of the top law-enforcement people in this region. Some have told me they would rather continue stopping Muslims in mid-stride than be responsible for the next 9/11, as if those are the only two choices available. Others have told me that they never send people to other countries for torture; the wink-and-a-nudge is unbearable. One lawmaker told me he didn't believe constitutional protections extended to non-citizens.

This is my country. I'll speak out against injustices whether they are aimed at me or not. I'll shout when my Constitution is shoved into the deep freeze. I'll voice my opinions against George Bush just as easily as I'll speak against my gutless and silent Congress.

This is my country! I'll feel the swell of pride when I see pictures of my military helping the victims of the tsunami. I'll tell everyone that our system of government is one of the best in the world. I'll say I have seldom seen so many wonderful and generous people as I have in the U.S. — people who have gone out of their way to help strangers.

I think of a neighbor of mine, with whom I hardly ever agree politically. He and his wife were among the first people to reach out to me after 9/11; they asked me to come over with my family if people got nasty. I remember the elderly veteran near me who walked up to the young Muslim girl with a head covering and told her to let him know if anyone gave her a hard time.

I cannot stop telling my fellow citizens that bigotry and persecution only need our silence to rise up and start demanding human sacrifice. When sanity finally prevails, I know I'll be back in the wonderful America I remember so fondly.

Jafar Siddiqui is an American Muslim living in Lynnwood. He is a member of American Muslims of Puget Sound and a human-rights activist, involved in movements for interfaith understanding. Contact him at Jeffsiddiqui@msn.com

July 5, 2005

Her horoscope is not the only thing that's deformed!

"Marina Bai has sued [NASA] the U.S. space agency, claiming the Deep Impact probe that punched a crater into the comet Tempel 1 late Sunday 'ruins the natural balance of forces in the universe,' the newspaper Izvestia reported Tuesday. A Moscow court has postponed hearings on the case until late July, the paper said.


"Bai is seeking damages totaling 8.7 billion rubles ($300 million) — the approximate equivalent of the mission's cost — for her 'moral sufferings,' Izvestia said, citing her lawyer Alexander Molokhov. She earlier told the paper that the experiment would 'deform her horoscope.'"


Tom Cruise is an IDIOT!

I've read a few articles recently about Tom Cruise's comments about post-partum depression and how he thinks that "exercise and vitamins" is a cure-all for this condition. Dude, you are such a friggin' idiot! A person very near and dear to me has gone through this condition several times, and I know through their experiences that what Tom has said about post-partum depression (e.g., "there was no such thing as chemical imbalances that need to be corrected with drugs") is him talking out of his @$$.

New Jersey's acting governor, Richard Codey, recently said, "Tom Cruise knows as much about postpartum depression as I do about acting, and he should stick to acting and not talk about women who need help." Absolutely!

Of course, the core of Tom's problem is his tie to Scientology, "which teaches that psychiatry is a destructive pseudo-science." Talk about calling the kettle black! Scientology, of course, was founded by the second-rate sci-fi hack, L. Ron Hubbard. (Remember Battlefield Earth?" That terrible movie released in 2000? That's based on an L. Ron Hubbard novel of the same name.) For those who may not know, Hubbard once said, "Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." (For more information, read Scientology: Anatomy of a Frightening Cult, published in the May 1980 issue of Reader's Digest.) Well, Tom, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Kirstie Alley, and Jenna Elfman are among the gullible who have swallowed the Scientology hook; insha'allah, Tom's publicity tour will help damage Scientology's already-bad reputation even further.


July 3, 2005

You Know You're From Arizona When...

This seems to be the latest rage among Muslim bloggers, to comment on these "You Know You're From..." lists, so I thought I'd give a try. Although I haven't lived in Arizona in almost four years, I still have family there and I get my daily e-mail of Arizona Republic headlines. Anyhoo...

You've signed so many petitions to recall governors you can't remember the name of the incumbent.
A cheap shot. The only significant petition drive to recall a governor was back in the Evan Mecham days (late 1980s). And the current governor is Janet Napolitano.

You notice your car overheating before you drive it.
Not true, but I understand why people might think this. :)

You no longer associate bridges or rivers with water.
Of course! Most of the rivers are dammed to provide drinking and irrigation water. Duh!

You know a swamp cooler is not a happy hour drink.
For me, this is an "of course." When I first moved to Arizona, some of my dorm's common rooms were cooled down by swamp coolers. However, air conditioners have become so commonplace that I doubt many people new to Arizona (or the younger generation) are familiar with them.

You can hear the weather forecast of 115 degrees without flinching.
It's only when it gets to about 120 that you start to flinch. ;)

You can be in the snow, then drive for an hour...and it will be over 100 degrees.
Heh. In August 1979, I went to the Grand Canyon. Just outside the park entrance, there were still patches of snow on the ground; on the way back home, we could see snow falling on the San Francisco Peaks. And, yes, it was well above 100 degrees back in Phoenix.

You discover, in July it only takes two fingers to drive your car, because your steering wheel is so hot.
July? Try May! Who are you trying to kid? ;)

You can make sun tea instantly.
More or less. Something more appropriate might be how many sun tea jars one sees on any given summer day.

You run your a/c in the middle of winter so you can use your fireplace.
I never lived in any building that had a fireplace, but there were a few days in some Decembers where I'd have been tempted to light a fireplace if I had one.

The best parking is determined by shade.....not distance.

You realize that "Valley Fever" isn't a disco dance.
Duh! Most newcomers to Arizona are warned about Valley Fever fairly quickly.

Hotter water comes from the cold water tap than the hot one.
Sometimes, yes.

It's noon in July, kids are on summer vacation and yet all the streets are totally empty of both cars and people.
The only time I've ever seen Phoenix streets totally deserted was back in the spring of 1993, when the Suns made it to the NBA finals. (One of the playoff games was playing, but I was working at the office with some others, and we wanted some dinner. I drove to a Chinese take-out place, and the streets were absolutely deserted. Everyone was watching the game on TV. That was one of two times I ever saw Phoenix "dead.")

You actually burn your hand opening the car door.

Sunscreen is sold year round, kept right at the checkout counter.
More or less.

You put on fresh sunscreen just to go check the mail box.
Cute. Not true.

Some fools will market mini-misters for joggers and some other fools will actually buy them. Worse.....some fools actually try to jog.
Never seen the "mini-misters." And the real fools are those who make fun of Arizona joggers.

You know hot air balloons can't rise because the air temperature is hotter than the air inside the balloon.
Duh! That's why hot air balloons only fly during the winter in Arizona.

No one would dream of putting vinyl inside a car.
Absolutely! (Or buying a vinyl sofa, even.)

You see two trees fighting over a dog.

You can say "Hohokam" and people don't think you're laughing funny.
Lame. Who's the f***in' loser who wrote this?

You see more irrigation water on the street than there is in the Salt River.

You have to go to a fake beach for some fake waves.
Big Surf. Lived in Arizona for 20 years, and never went there. It's more of a kids/teenager-kind of place.

You can pronounce"Saguaro", "Tempe", "San Xavier", "Canyon de Chelly", "Mogollon Rim", and "Cholla."
"Suh-war-oh," "Tehm-pee" (better get that one right, I used to live there :) ), "Sahn Zay-vee-yur," "Can-yon deh Shay," "Muh-gee-yohn (with a hard "gee," like the French name, Guy) Rim," and "Choy-yah."

You can understand the reason for a town named "Why."
Is there a Why, Arizona? I didn't know that. Where's your sense of Yuma? :)

You can fry an egg on the hood of a car IN THE MORNING!
Don't know about on the hood of a car, but trying to fry eggs on the sidewalk won't work. (Friends tried that.)

You hear people say "but it's a DRY heat!"
It is! And I miss it! Humidity sucks!

You buy salsa by the gallon.
Almost! ;)

Your Christmas decorations include sand and l00 paper bags.
Offensive! Only an ignorant Anglo would write something like this.

You think a red light is merely a suggestion.
Not true. But I wish more governments there would switch to a "lagging" left turn-signal.

All of your out-of-state friends start to visit after October but clear out come the end of April.
Of course! We're the ones telling them not to come during the summer!

You think someone driving wearing oven mitts is clever.
I never used oven mitts for driving, but my woolly sheepskin driving wheel cover was a God-send.

Most of the restaurants in town have the first name "El" or "Los."

You think 60 tons of crushed red rock makes a beautiful yard.
With some nice cacti and other desert flora, it can make for a very beautiful yard. And you don't have to mow the "lawn" ever again. Loser!

Your house is made of stucco and has a red clay tile roof.
The red tile roof is commonplace enough (we even have red tile roofs here in S'pore). The "stucco" part is someone's imagination that Arizona homes haven't progressed out of the "Old West" days.

Vehicles with open windows have the right-of-way in the summer.
Having owned two cars whose a/c's didn't work very well, I can definitely sympathize! :)

Most homes have more firearms than people.
Don't know about "most homes," but I once visited a guy's home long ago where there were prolly 75-100 guns of various shapes and sizes, what seemed like 10,000 rounds of ammo, and a nice, big German Shepherd. Hmmm, and yes, they had a fireplace too (and we lit it up as well).

Kids will ask, "What's a mosquito?"
Not quite true, but they're not that common there, thank God.

People who have black cars or black upholstery in their car are automatically assumed to be from out of-state or nuts.
At one job, when I was bored, I used to count the number of white cars in a parking lot that I could see from the office window. The percentage always came to about 40%. Black cars and Arizona don't mix.

You know better than to get into a car with leather seats if you're wearing shorts.
These leather seats must be in the black cars from the out of state nuts. :)

If you haven't worked for Motorola at some time, you must be a newcomer.
Never got a job there, although I did some temp work once for a company that had their offices located within a Motorola plant. Does that count? ;)

You can finish a Big Gulp in 10 minutes and go back for seconds.
No $hit! Ten minutes? When it's really hot and you're incredibly thirsty, try ten seconds!

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

I finally understand now how to understand what President Bush (fils) is saying. Whenever he says "X," the truth really is "anti-X." It's so simple! (Of course, I've been coming to this conclusion for a long time. ;) )

For example: "Kyoto would have wrecked our economy." Right? Wrong!

"Newly released data show that Portland, America's environmental laboratory, has achieved stunning reductions in carbon emissions. It has reduced emissions below the levels of 1990, the benchmark for the Kyoto accord, while booming economically.

"What's more, officials in Portland insist that the campaign to cut carbon emissions has entailed no significant economic price, and on the contrary has brought the city huge benefits: less tax money spent on energy, more convenient transportation, a greener city, and expertise in energy efficiency that is helping local businesses win contracts worldwide.

"'People have looked at it the wrong way, as a drain,' said Mayor Tom Potter, who himself drives a Prius hybrid. 'Actually it's something that attracts people. ... It's economical; it makes sense in dollars.'


"'Portland's efforts refute the thesis that you can't make progress without huge economic harm,' says Erik Sten, a city commissioner. 'It actually goes all the other way - to the extent Portland has been successful, the things that we were doing that happened to reduce emissions were the things that made our city livable and hence desirable.'"

Source: Nicholas Kristof's A Livable Shade of Green

Another example:

"The president pledged to 'prevent Al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists from turning Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban' a full week after Newsweek and The New York Times reported on a new C.I.A. assessment that the war may be turning Iraq into an even more effective magnet and training ground for Islamic militants than Afghanistan was for Al Qaeda in the 1980's and 90's.


"The president has no one to blame but himself. The color-coded terror alerts, the repeated John Ashcroft press conferences announcing imminent Armageddon during election season, the endless exploitation of 9/11 have all taken their numbing toll. Fear itself is the emotional card Mr. Bush chose to overplay, and when he plays it now, he is the boy who cried wolf. That's why a film director engaging in utter fantasy can arouse more anxiety about a possible attack on America than our actual commander in chief hitting us with the supposed truth."

Source: Frank Rich's The Two Wars of the Worlds

A Letter to the Culture that Raised Me

I've noticed for some time now that I get a number of hits from people looking up the works of Yasmin Mogahed, the graduate student at UW-Madison who's also a freelance writer. I really enjoy this woman's writings, and I just came across this article of hers from Islamicity. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

A Letter to the Culture that Raised Me
By Yasmin Mogahed

Growing up, you read me the Ugly Duckling. And for years I believed that was me. For so long you taught me I was nothing more than a bad copy of the standard.

I couldn't run as fast or lift as much. I didn't make the same money and I cried too often. I grew up in a man's world where I didn't belong.

And when I couldn't be him, I wanted only to please him. I put on your make-up and wore your short skirts. I gave my life, my body, my dignity, for the cause of being pretty. I knew that no matter what I did, I was worthy only to the degree that I could please and be beautiful for my master. And so I spent my life on the cover of Cosmo and gave my body for you to sell.

I was a slave, but you taught me I was free. I was your object, but you swore it was success. You taught me that my purpose in life was to be on display, to attract, and be beautiful for men. You had me believe that my body was created to market your cars. And you raised me to think I was an ugly duckling.

But you lied.

Islam tells me, I'm a swan. I'm different-it's meant to be that way. And my body, my soul, was created for something more.

God says in the Quran: 'O mankind, We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another (not that you may despise each other). Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of God is the one who is most righteousÓ (Quran 49:13).

So I am honored. But it is not by my relationship to men. My value as a woman is not measured by the size of my waist or the number of men who like me. My worth as a human being is measured on a higher scale: a scale of righteousness and piety. And my purpose in life-despite what the fashion magazines say-is something more sublime than just looking good for men.

And so God tells me to cover myself, to hide my beauty and to tell the world that I'm not here to please men with my body; I'm here to please God. God elevates the dignity of a woman's body by commanding that it be respected and covered, shown only to the deserving-only to the man I marry.

So to those who wish to 'liberate' me, I have only one thing to say:

Thanks, but no thanks.

I'm not here to be on display. And my body is not for public consumption. I will not be reduced to an object, or a pair of legs to sell shoes. I'm a soul, a mind, a servant of God. My worth is defined by the beauty of my soul, my heart, my moral character. So, I won't worship your beauty standards, and I don't submit to your fashion sense. My submission is to something higher.

With my veil I put my faith on display-rather than my beauty. My value as a human is defined by my relationship with God, not by my looks. So I cover the irrelevant. And when you look at me, you don't see a body. You view me only for what I am: a servant of my Creator.

So you see, as a Muslim woman, I've been liberated from a silent kind of bondage. I don't answer to the slaves of God on earth. I answer to their king.