Archive for October, 2006

Muslim American charity slackens?

October 30, 2006

The NYTimes reports today that donations to charities have dropped off this year due to fears that contributions may lead to investigations by US law enforcement.

“Fear has often trumped faith.”

What has changed since the last Ramadan? The NSA wiretapping story, the new military commissions law…to name a few.

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Caffeine = Death

October 30, 2006

Well, not in j-school, maybe but this website is amusing, nonetheless. My favorite energy product based on a very brief glimpse at the front page?

NRage Energy Strips. Because, who has time to digest caffeine anymore? NRage pumps the stuff right into the bloodstream. No waiting around for the NoDoz to kick in. NRage would have made high school so much more interesting.

It’s also acquired a great nickname: “strip without the drip.”

Be sure to check out the “Death by Caffeine” calculator to find out how much espresso, or any other caffeinated beverage, would actually kill you. For me, 170 espressos would be one too many.

To the barricades?

October 26, 2006

Is anyone editing over there at HuffingtonPost?

I think that no matter the results of November 7, we are far from reaching the stage where “the only real answer will be to take to the streets.”

Sadly, the eight pages of comments from people who seem to be itching for revolution reflects how poorly the Democratic Party has done in opposition these last six years.

Rather than driving readers to the barricades, why doesn’t HuffingtonPost channel that foment into, oh, I don’t know, electoral reform, or even to building a third party?

Jarvis on Zeyad and Iraq

October 23, 2006

Jarvis gave his mea culpa on the Iraq War today in response to Zeyad’s declaration of regret from earlier this week. It is a worthy post from someone who should probably stray more frequently from his media crit beat. I know I would welcome a bit more of this from him.

By now, after a few years worth of such public self-flaggelation/justification, the evolution of Jarvis’s position should be painfully familiar to many on the left. It certainly is to me. I, too, remember seeing very strong humanitarian and democracy-building arguments for invading Iraq in 2002-03. I remember making them at times myself. I also remember seeing those arguments made in the press by people like Hitchens and Beinart and, apparently, Jarvis.

However, I do not remember those arguments coming from the powerbrokers of the Bush Administration (those few instances when they did occur were more an afterthought, the exceptions that prove the rule).

Instead, they chose to pitch the WMD storyline. We could argue ourselves blue in the face about how domestic psychology influenced this political decision-making, but I don’t want to do that here. Suffice it to say that the Administration believed this storyline best and found it most believable (or, as Frank Rich might say, most saleable). They promised us WMD and WMD is what we would get. They meant to find WMD and prove to the world that they were right.

Intent is important, especially when it comes to a project as enormous as bringing democracy to the Middle East. That project was never the primary goal of the Bush Administration.
The left refused to take the Bush Administration at its word. Instead, the left chose to believe that Bush’s intentions, his real intentions, matched our own.

I think that is the real lesson that the left realized far too late. Bush truly is a straight-shooter, a walking talking wysiwyg. They should have taken him at his word from the beginning and weighed whether the argument he made for war was worth supporting. Hopefully, next time we’ll all remember to take our leaders a little more at their word.

Zeyad

October 21, 2006

Everyone should go right now to read Zeyad’s blog post from 10/16. Then go listen to his appearance today on “On the Media.”

Rocketboom

October 20, 2006

I’ve been poking around in the Rocketboom archives in the past few days since they appeared in our class. I really wish that I had been more familiar with their product beforehand. If so, I would have asked them how they decide on the stories they run each day.

This week they ran a feature story on Fragrance Week. Today’s story, “Mish Mash,” is really more of a performance piece.

Rocketboom balances these pieces with more “traditional” newscasts like this one that starts out on North Korea’s nuclear test and moves onto CBGBs closing down.

I would have liked to hear a bit more of the behind-the-scenes stuff from these guys. Guess that comes back to the “be prepared” mantra.

Muslims in Europe

October 15, 2006

Earlier this week, the NYT gave front page coverage to the split between Muslim immigrant communities and “the political mainstream” in Europe. Lurking not too far in the background of this story is Pope Benedict XVI. His comments provoked some outrageous reactions, to be sure, but, more importantly, I think the controversy has proven how easy it is for two religious communities to talk past each other.

Muslims feel justified in condemning the Pope’s original statement as insensitive and in feeling that he was simply picking a fight. He has essentially confessed on both counts.

Christians feel that the reaction by some Muslims (firebombing churches in the West Bank and Iraq, the execution of a nun in Africa) justifies the Pope’s comments by proving his point.

Both sides are content to sit on those positions, without moving any further.

Now, the article above cites evidence that non-religious Europeans are crossing “an invisible line” in their feeling towards their Muslim immigrant neighbors. It makes an important point towards the end: if two religious cultures that worship the same god have so much difficulty discussing their differences, how can devoutly religious immigrants mix with godless Europeans?

Many Muslims say this new mood is suddenly imposing expectations that never existed before that Muslims be exactly like their European hosts.

Dyab Abou Jahjah, a Lebanese-born activist here in Belgium, said that for years Europeans had emphasized “citizenship and human rights,” the notion that Muslim immigrants had the responsibility to obey the law but could otherwise live with their traditions.

“Then someone comes and says it’s different than that,” said Mr. Jahjah, who opposes assimilation. “You have to dump your culture and religion. It’s a different deal now.”

Another article in today’s NYT looks at Islamic schools in the UK. The underlying question there being, what educational setting is least likely to result in the violent radicalization of its students? A culturally heterogenous, non-religious school or a homogenous, religious setting?

Given a that isolated individuals are more prone to radicalization, I would say that with teenagers, who are themselves susceptible to extreme positions, society should err on the side of a stronger sense of community – not on breaking the bonds of community. Successful schools are the best path to integration.

Muslims in the Military

October 10, 2006

On Saturday, the NYT published an excellent profile of Sgt. Cameron Murad, a native Iraqi who is now a recruiter for the US military.

The most salient point from the article for me comes here:

Of the thousands of interpreters working for the military in Iraq, most are civilians under contract, some of whom earn as much as $170,000 a year. But military commanders prefer uniformed linguists because they cannot refuse combat missions and are subjected to more thorough security checks.

They are offered a fraction of what many civilian linguists earn, with salaries starting at roughly $28,000, including allowances. The program’s perks, such as expedited citizenship, a starting bonus and medical coverage, are a major draw, military officials said.

$28,000 vs. $170,000. Anyone who makes the choice to leave that much money on the table to serve should never experience the abuse that Murad’s peers in the military heaped on him.

New blog, same as the old blog

October 10, 2006

For my second blog, I want to start a group blog covering the neighborhoods of SW Brooklyn – Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge, Sunset Park and Red Hook.

I suppose that I could go ahead and launch a blog on something non-threatening like sports or music or books. I’m interested in all of those things, perhaps I’m interested enough to even blog about them on a semi-regular basis.

Why do I say non-threatening? I don’t mean any disrespect to those subjects or the people who cover them. In fact, all of those people I’ve linked to above do a much better job at covering those subjects than I ever could.

I say non-threatening because I fear that blogging now may prejudice my future career. I feel that I am too new to this journalism thing to commit myself to a certain subject or to voice strong opinions in them.

Those pesky images

October 5, 2006

In one post, I was able to look like a genius and a moron at the same time.  A genius for being the only one to figure out how to post a full sized image of bait fish cut up on the pier in Bay Ridge. And, an idiot for not recalling how to do it a few days later in class.

So, here are the brief instructions, for anyone that is interested (perhaps I’ll post this to the CUNY wiki, too).

Upload the image in the multimedia box, which is located immediately below the text box – called ‘The Editor’ – where you type the posts. Once the image has been uploaded and the thumbnail appears, click on the image once. A small pop-up menu will appear, by clicking the top line you toggle between “Using thumbnail” and “Using original.” Select “Using original,” then click on “Send to Editor.”

Voila, your full-sized image should appear in the Editor box and, once you’ve save, in the preview screen at the bottom of the page.

Any questions?