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Bill Maher, Islamophobia, and Political Correctness

 

FSM

Breaking News! Bill Maher, host of Real Time and the now defunct Politically Incorrect is politically incorrect!

So say students at UC Berkeley, who are petitioning the administration to rescind Maher’s invitation to speak at their December commencement, claiming Maher “is a blatant bigot and racist who has no respect for the values UC Berkeley students and administration stand for.”  Over 4000 have signed the petition. (Could they all be UCB students?)

Maher has been accused of bigotry and racism elsewhere as well, for his jokes and comments on the Muslim religion, to wit: “Islam is the only religion that acts like the mafia that will fucking kill you if you say the wrong thing.” The students’ petition calls this “hate speech.” I call it the truth.

Bill Maher is one of the world’s most ardent atheists, and gives equal time to all religions. As noted on SF Gate, “Maher, along with Oxford professor Richard Dawkins and the late journalist Christopher Hitchens, are among a group of prominent atheists who have taken a no-holds-barred approach in their outspoken disdain for religious doctrine of all faiths.”

As Maher once said, were he alive during the Crusades he’d be raving primarily about Christianity—which he still does—but he’s living now, when ISIS is beheading people. “Islamophobia!” scream his critics.

Well, count me in as an Islamophobe: whether it’s coming straight from the Koran or a perversion of the religion, had I been born in one of many burka_2679987bpredominantly Muslim countries I’d have to go out covered from head to toe and could be stoned to death for adultery. As a Jew I wouldn’t have visited Germany during Hitler’s reign; as a woman I won’t visit Iran now.

Oh, but the politically correct cry self-righteously, we must respect religious customs! Why? Why should I respect any religion that treats women as pariahs? It’s time we stopped this hands-off bullshit of forgiving misogyny and oppression in the name of religious doctrine. For the record, I’m also critical of Orthodox Judaism for barring women from certain religious ceremonies, the morning prayer in which men “thank God I’m not a woman,” and the baffling, bizaare custom of making women shave their heads and wear wigs. As for the Catholic Church, it continues to ban abortion and even contraception, damaging millions of women (and men, and children) with outmoded, antisex edicts.

Ironically, it’s primarily liberals who toss around this term Islamophobia. “Liberals need to stand up for liberal principles,” Maher said during a round-table discussion. “But then when you say in the Muslim world, this is what’s lacking, then they get upset.”

Bill Maher might just end up with a fatwa on his head, like Salman Rushdie who lived in hiding for years, like the cartoonists who portrayed Allah unfavorably, like the filmmaker who was murdered for doing the same. If that isn’t intolerance in the name of religion, I don’t know what is. Why should we respect it?

 

 

In Praise of The Egg

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My grandfather was an egg candler. What, any contemporary person is sure to ask, is an egg candler?

One who candles or tests the freshness of eggs by holding them between the eye and a lighted candle.
Many of these “highly experienced” people will never work again, not because they are lazy or incompetent, but rather because their job has disappeared. (Wordnik)

One perk of my grandfather’s employment was that his family always had the biggest, freshest eggs, some with double yolks. My grandmother used them in her famous matzo balls,634-passover_matzo_ball_soup_400 or in potato latkes. I loved going to my grandparents’ fourth-floor apartment on Lydig Avenue in the Bronx, primarily to eat matzo balls, latkes, and chopped liver—all replete with fresh eggs. Sometimes hard pale yellow yolks floated in her chicken soup—some rare permutation of unborn chicks, a delicacy I haven’t tasted since the passing of the above mentioned cook—who, by the way, lived to her mid-eighties, as did her husband, despite scarfing down eggs every day.

 

Perhaps it’s because of my family history that I’m such a big fan of the humble egg. When dietary “experts” told us to forego these precious jewels rife with bad cholesterol they did us a great disservice. I don’t know from cholesterol; unlike an egg, it’s not something I can hold, see or feel. All I know is that eggs are still relatively cheap, can be cooked in endless  manner, and are a source of protein and joy.

Once, in Maine, I went on a tour of a big egg farm. This was in the early 1970s, and those keening, mewling chickens were cramped into tiny cages under fluorescent lights; any that escaped were called “renegades” and promptly shot. The experience put me off eggs for a few months, until I began buying my eggs from a woman who kept a few chickens. After doing so for many years, I found I could actually taste the antibiotics in store-bought eggs; now I only buy organic. (Caveat: not just “cage-free” but organic.)

I eat eggs scrambled, fried, poached, and turned into elaborate crispy frittatas loaded with vegetables. My favorite additions to scrambled eggs are mushrooms, scallions and cheddar cheese. I add soy sauce and garlic to an egg while it’s frying, cooking the white crisp while keeping the yolk runny for dipping toast or potatoes. I adapted a dish presented on Top Chef that I frequently eat for lunch: a frozen waffle,  topped with a bit of real maple syrup, a poached egg and a slice of melted cheese. Fantastic!

 

I dream of a better tomorrow…where chickens can cross roads
and not have their motives questioned.–Anon

conish chicken

 

Labor Day: The Hard Work of Mothering

A slightly different version of the following was originally posted on Dirty Laundry on Mothers Day 2008. Some of the statistics are out-of-date, which most likely only makes them more alarming.

cartoon mothers w: kidsAs the media does every so often, CNN recently reported the latest calculation of what mothers would earn if they were actually paid, in cold hard cash, for their labor. That number would fall somewhere between $117K and $149K per year, a figure arrived at by estimating the average hourly wage for the various tasks involved in mothering: cooking, nursing, chauffeuring, etcetera. Of course, this “news” was delivered by two giggling anchors: they didn’t take it seriously, or expect their audience to either.

Mother’s work is, so received wisdom goes, performed purely for love, and the notion of financial remuneration is simply hilarious.

Never mind that we pay nannies, nurses, housekeepers, day care providers, even the teenager next door for babysitting. And never mind all those studies proving, pretty definitively by now, that women lose income over the course of a lifetime when they spend years mothering. Or that they’re sometimes left to fend for themselves during hubby’s midlife crisis, if not sooner. We seem, as a society, to be terrified of this issue. We seem to think that if mothers were paid for their work, the family as an institution would crumble.

Back in the 1970s the International Wages for Housework Campaign, a network of women in Third World and industrialized countries, formulated a list of ambitious demands “for the unwaged work that women do to be recognized as work in official government statistics, and for this work to be paid.” More active in Australia and England than in the U.S., the movement never went anywhere, and today it’s all but dead: an Internet search dug up articles that were either decades old, or in fringe publications promoting social anarchy.

In 1990 the International Labor Organization estimated that women do two-thirds of the world’s work for 5% of its income. In 1995 the UN Development Programme’s Human Moneyhouse$$Development Report announced that women’s unpaid and underpaid labor was worth $11 trillion worldwide, $1.4 trillion in the United States alone. No doubt these figures are much higher today. (I looked up more recent U.N. reports, but, I confess, found them indecipherable.)

Even more mind-blowing is the system by which governments compute productivity. In If Women Counted: A New Feminist Economics, Marilyn Waring explains the complexities of our economic system, which “counts oil spills and wars as contributors to economic growth, while child-rearing and housekeeping are deemed valueless.”

Motherhood isn’t devalued in monetary terms only. In the early 1980s I enrolled in Empire State College, part of the State University of New York, to complete the requirements for my Bachelor’s degree. ESC was a school of independent study, and life experience earned college credits.  A written narrative had to detail the work and reading done in each field, and be approved by a committee. School policy excluded mothering as a field of study, but my mentor thought that raising a child with a disability, and what I’d learned of the medical system and social work organizations as a result, might be credit-worthy. I wrote up my papers for credit in that and a number of other fields. For writing I got 32 whopping credits. For public relations I got 9; for fundraising, 12; and for political activism, 15. For raising a child with a disability, after much committee debate as to whether to even include it, I got three credits, the lowest amount of all my life experience. If nothing else, I received a stunning education from SUNY.

I don’t know why the majority of the world’s population thinks mothering as work is laughable, and wages for housework a ridiculous concept. I only know that whenever some idiotic anchorperson laughingly tells me what I would have earned as a mother had my work been deemed monetarily valuable, I go into a rage.

 

Still Writing

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Okay, I haven’t posted anything lately–but that’s mostly because I’m still trying to get my new website off the ground. And maybe I’m becoming so overwhelmed by the sheer verbiage of this world, I find I have nothing to say, except maybe outrage over world events.

And okay, maybe my claim to the title “Still Writing” is tenuous these days, but I’m sure I’ll be back eventually. Meanwhile, please go visit my new website at:

http://marsheiner.wordpress.com/

You could even follow it!

book piles

The Jackie Robinson of Pot

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Front cover of Jackie Robinson comic book (iss...

Front cover of Jackie Robinson comic book (issue #5). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Cannabis

 

Last week on his program Bill Maher said that Colorado is the Jackie Robinson of pot. Just as JR was the first to break the color line in Major League Baseball, the State of Colorado is the first to legalize pot and not just for medical purposes. As most people know by now, JR was purposely chosen for his ability to ignore the insults, racism and even objects that fans hurled at him on the field. Not once did Jackie Robinson fight back, or even talk back. They’d spit at him, call him names, and he’d go on playing baseball, ignoring all the hatred.

With gravity in his voice, Maher proclaimed Colorado to be in the same position, warning them to “BE the Jackie Robinson of pot!” He ran down a list of what Colorado should and should not do in order not to ruin the chance for all of the U.S. to eventually legalize marijuana: “Don’t go all Cheech & Chong he said.” He told them not to market to children, and not to name some strains of pot things like Gummi Bear or Chocolate Cake. “Talk to your customers,” he cautioned, to find out their level of experience with pot before selling novices their strongest brand.

 

The Jackie Robinson of pot. I’m tickled by the idea; I don’t know when I’ve been so moved by CannabisBill Maher.

So go ahead, Colorado and BE the Jackie Robinson of pot!

 

 

 

 

Dreamgirls Redux

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I hate to go on and on about something, but it has, after all, been seven years since the film Dreamgirls came out. Having just watched it for the third time, I’m astounded at how great this movie is. That it only garnered two Academy Awards–one of them for Jennifer Hudson for Supporting Actress, and I’m telling you, if she hadn’t gotten that, it would’ve been the artistic crime of the century.(see my original review, Is Dreamgirls Hollywood’s Worst Nightmare?”

Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I’d forgotten a lot of the story, and continually found new things I’d missed in the film. One scene I had not forgotten, however, is when Jennifer Hudson flays herself on stage singing “And I am Telling You I’m Not Going.” It’s the peak of the movie, and although it takes a slight nosedive after that, it recovers nicely with Hudson later singing “I Am Changing,” which I’d forgotten, and “One Night.” Beyoncé was great, and sang her heart out—but Jennifer Hudson walked off with this show.

 

I saw West Side Story something like 45 times in my long life; I’ve seen Chicago maybe 6 times; and now I have another go-to movie musical to rent  when I want a cathartic experience.

Let’s Go To The Prom

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Originally posted on Dirty Laundry:

Dedicated to Frankie Scolaro

If you aren’t a teenager and you don’t have any such creatures hanging around the house, it probably doesn’t even cross your radar, but this happens to be a very important time of year for high school seniors. Yes, of course, graduation’s coming up—but I’m talking about something almost as important—the Senior Prom. These days, or so I’ve been told, kids don’t necessarily have to be coupled up to attend the Prom–some of them go in groups, which I consider a major act of liberation. But whether she goes with a friend or a fiancée, a teenage girl still needs the dress. And March is when they start shopping for it.

Evening wear—dress, matching shoes and purse, jewelry, hairdo—it can cost hundreds of dollars for a girl to be properly prom-attired. That may be fine in Beverly Hills, but around Oaktown and other working-class ‘hoods, it’s…

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