Chicago’s Arab Heritage Month

arab-chicago-commissionOnce again it’s Arab Heritage Month and I’ve missed half of it.  I only found out because I’m signed up for Arabic language meetups and they sent a notice.  I don’t go to the meetups any more because they’re always in a smoky environment–ah, how I miss that tufaHtain (double apple) argila since I quit smoking–but my interest in Arabic is eternal. There are still some good events left and other events at museums and such that continue for the whole month.

This Sunday, for women only: if you’re interested in belly dancing–the proper Arab kind they do at all-female engagement parties and not the Greek restaurant kind–do check out the ten dollar introductory lesson that Jasmin gives at her North Side studio.  She’s very good and it’s quite a workout. Believe me, you will discover muscles you didn’t know you had.

The link to the schedule is here.

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Gay protest gets ugly

For anyone who was thinking of joining the November 15 demonstrations for gay marriage, here‘s a troubling report from Lansing, Michigan. Last weekend a church was attacked on Sunday morning during a service by a group claiming to be gay. In the photo you can see they have pink scarves over their faces and are carrying bats and sticks.


This is not the type of political blog I usually read, but this piece at least seems to be a straightforward narrative account.  Some of the comments are interesting too:

“The only civil rights being violated were those of the church members. They have the first amendment right to practice their religion. The queer activists from Michigan were not harmed by Proposition 8 in California. They were simply engaging in a conspiracy to deny civil rights to Christians in Michigan. RICO anyone? Besides which, Proposition 8 was a clear case of “petitioning the government for redress of grievances” while the queer activist harassment did not engage the government at all, only innocent Christians.”

“When will they attack mosques that call for the death of gays? tick tock tick tock….”

If anyone is interested in following this story further, Daily Kos printed some excerpts from local blogs. Even more interesting, and not in a good way, is a poll attached to the piece, 37% of their readership supports the protests. I am reminded of how the Weather Underground discredited and delegitimized the peace movement back in the 60’s and set back the end of the Vietnam war by who knows how much.

A sensible comment by BlueJeanDem is encouraging:

This is disgusting (6+ / 0-)

As a gay man I condemn this sort of action.

It is counter-productive and only makes things worse for the cause of gay equality. How many more gay-haters will be created by this incident? Probably quite a few.

That church is the private property of the congregants. It is also their spiritual home. Regardless of what you think about their politics or doctrines, this was morally and ethically wrong and just plain stupid.

Besides, something tells me those protesters were probably not even gay. Anarchists and hoodlums doing NO GOOD.

Our fight for equality is through law and the courts, not by increasing physical conflict between the two factions.

Some of those people at the Church were no doubt friends and family of gays who are on our side on the gay issue. They were there to worship in peace. And now they might be having second thoughts.

Good going, creeps.

Nobody’s coming into my home to protest my being gay.

That’s how it should be. These jerks violated that rule of social behavior.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” Upton Sinclair via Al Gore

I had thought about writing more about the gay protests coming up this weekend and maybe evening reading up on the history a little.  Who were Mattachine, Stonewall, ACT UP, and Queer Nation?

But now I’m really not that interested anymore.  Sure, I belong to a church that openly invites people of every persuasion, even if the question of gay marriage is still being debated within the denomination. And I still support civil rights for everyone. But who are these people? They don’t seem to respect the civil rights of others, even as they demand it for themselves.  And what DO they want?  Some say they don’t really want marriage or are undecided, or they only want civil unions that will give them inheritance and medical insurance benefits.  They are just marching because they’re upset about Prop 8 and not because they are sure they want marriage instead of civil unions.

Then there was the matter last week of the gay couple in California who put an effigy of Sarah Palin with a noose outside their home as a sort of cutesy Halloween decoration. It was the mayor, not the gay community, who convinced them to take it down.

Throughout history, women have supported everyone else’s freedom, from opposing slavery to gay rights. But when it comes down to supporting women’s civil rights, where are the people whose rights the women marched for?

My time and energy are limited.  I won’t be writing about this issue again.  It is not my issue.  For anyone else who plans to demonstrate, I can only say “know who you are with,” and recommend PumaPAC’s  Proposition Hate forum for the latest information.  The Pumas I don’t agree with 100%, but they do support gay rights issues.  Join the Impact has moved their site around and the old links don’t work but they have comprehensive of the protests; here is their home page. You might also want to read this apparently unmoderated list of demonstrations, if only for the freaky “we need to get angry” comments.


Update: photo–the same group at a Milwaukee demonstration. Unpixilized image here (NSFW). Yup, “kill”.


Oxford list of top ten irritating phrases

Researchers at Oxford University have come up with a list of the top ten irritating phrases.

1 – At the end of the day

2 – Fairly unique

3 – I personally

4 – At this moment in time

5 – With all due respect

6 – Absolutely

7 – It’s a nightmare

8 – Shouldn’t of

9 – 24/7

10 – It’s not rocket science

Researchers glean the phrases from a collection of contemporary publications. It is less clear how they rank the words according to annoyingness.

The researchers who compiled the list monitor the use of phrases in a database called the Oxford University Corpus, which comprises books, papers, magazines, broadcast, the internet and other sources.

The database alerts them to new words and phrases and can tell them which expressions are disappearing.

Readers are apparently excited by this list and so far have contributed 2484 comments, many with their own nominations for irritating phrases:

my bad

you know what I’m sayin’

“Needless to say” followed immediately by what the speaker just admitted was needless to say

His ‘untimely death,’ as if there is usually a good time for it.

Having said that.

“Almost Exactly”

“I hear what you are saying” – which translates to -> “I don’t give a damn about your opinion and I want you to shut up;

Using “Goes” as a verb, usually to replace “said”. “He goes ‘Wow!’ and then she goes ‘I’m serious!'” Where did they go?

“Think outside the box”
If everybody thought outside the box what would we need boxes for?

I cannot STAND the phrase “to think outside the box” – especially since it is used to convey the idea that one is an original thinker. Using such a boring cliche suggests that the speaker is anything BUT original!

“My friends”

“ATM machine” (What do you think the M stands for?); and
“PIN number” (What do you think the N stands for?)

These might be great phrases to add to your office buzzword bingo cards.

Or play around with one of these phrase generators: generate a nonsense phrase, build a nonsense company, generate a company name, generate a job title from a list, create blog posts with Australian charisma, or view a reloadable buzz phrase cloud.

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RIP Miriam Makeba

Miriam Makeba sings “When I’ve Passed On” at Bern’s Salonger. Obit here.

The same YouTube user has several other videos of Makeba worth checking out.  Then there’s her trademark “Click Song”  from Dutch TV 1979 and an energetic “Pata pata” from the same Holland 1979 performance (both with low sound volume but worth watching). The Click Song from 1966 at Bern’s Salonger in Sweden. More versions of Pata Pata: this black and white video of “Pata Pata” with the 60’s “Afro” outfits on the backup singers, or a color video “Pata, Pata” in Japan with purple/pink costumes we haven’t seen since the 60’s.  Here she is with Paul Simon with a very tight  “Under African Skies” (I love this one) in a night concert in Spain c. 1990 (with some great language clicks at the end) and again with Paul Simon “Under African Skies” at the daylight African Graceland concert.

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Prop 8 Protests

gay-marriage-ban-two-votesProtests over Proposition 8 are starting to take shape for November 15, 2008.

If you want to demonstrate, here is a partial state by state listing of events being organized. Here is a less complete and apparently older list which seems to include other protests spread over various days.


Here is the background to the issue:
On November 4, the voters of California voted “yes” to Proposition 8, which added a provision to the California Constitution that says: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

All the legal ramifications have yet to be sorted out. For instance, does that dissolve marriages already in existence or when one partner has a sex change? Whatever, the 18,000 same-sex couples and their families in California are not pleased.

Let me add that this law in no way affects my life in any way.  So why should I care if someone else gets married if that’s what they really want? So I’m adding my voice to the internet buzz and giving a little link-love to the cause.


Here‘s a troubling report from Lansing, MIchigan. Last weekend a church was attacked on Sunday morning during a service by a group claiming to be gay. In the photo you can see they have pink scarves over their faces and are carrying bats and sticks.


On Chicago’s South Side, “You got a check comin.'”

I get all my best rumors from McDonald’s on the South Side of Chicago. Today I was drinking my coffee while at the table on the other side of the tray return area came the following conversation from a group of African Americans:

“I’m a Republican.”
“You shoulda voted Democrat, you’d have a check comin’.”
(The Republican leaves.)
“Whether he’s Republican or Democrat, he’s got a check comin’.”

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Troubled about the status of women in America? Sign the petition.

women-count-logoWomen Count is a non-profit political group committed to giving women a voice in the political process. They have a petition for you to sign. They are calling for the new president to create, within the first 100 days, a presidential commission on women similar to the one President Kennedy commissioned in 1961.



• As the economy became the single most critical issue in the election, the role that women play in our economic structure has never been clearer. Women are the backbone of the nation’s workforce and control 70 percent of its buying power.

• The candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, while inspiring women and girls around the country to imagine what can be, exposed extreme gender bias in the media and throughout our culture.

• Women, who make up 56 percent of the voting population, were targeted as never before as the critical bloc that would determine the outcome of the election.

In 1961, as the nation grappled with the issue of women in the workplace, President John Kennedy convened the first Presidential Commission on the Status of Women and appointed Eleanor Roosevelt as its chair. Kennedy recognized the moment was right.

That was 47 years ago, and it’s time to do it again. As in 1961, women are at the forefront of our political discourse – and we are committed to keeping them there.

A record number of women are seeking ways to participate more fully in all aspects of American life, politics and policymaking. A Presidential Commission on Women is the right vehicle to initiate a national conversation on the future of women. If Not Now, When?