That reminded me of

I worked in that library as a page for seven months in 1969.

Ask a Muslim
I saw on my friend Lynne Jackson’s Facebook page on the Saturday morning of Albany’s annual tradition, the Tulip Festival, that there would be a booth where one could “Ask A Muslim” a question.

When the family finally got there, the family got to meet Nafisa and Fazana (pictured with that hatted Lynne). They were gracious and intelligent and wonderfully open. It was a wonderful idea, though I told them I thought it was quite brave.

Fazana wrote on her Facebook page “I talked to a non-Muslim gentleman who had just finished reading the English translation of the Quran and was pleased to report that nowhere in it did it say that Muslims should kill Christians. Needless to say, I wanted to recruit him to talk to others on behalf of Muslims because we are constantly trying to convince others to believe this fact!”

That reminded me of:

When my sister Leslie and I went to High school in Binghamton, NY, we were asked by the music teacher at suburban Vestal Junior High School, Mr. Fitzroy Stewart, on the one black teacher in the district, to talk with his all-white students about being a black teenager.


A terrestrial friend wrote about teaching:

It was an undergrad… who made the following observation about the linguistic style of the novel Home Boy by Naqvi and its immigrant/migrant characters.

“Why does this character always use such big words? I mean, ‘heterodox pedagogy’? ‘epistemological dead end’? Give me a break. It’s almost like he NEEDS to do that to prove he’s smart to American readers, because he’s an immigrant.”
And I looked at her with these anime-style star-struck eyes.


If you’ve been casually “taught” the meaning of a vocabulary word from a Dr. Seuss book by someone you can’t possibly get mad at because you know how well-meaning they are, you too might find yourself in need of pursuing some heterodox pedagogy of the epistemological dead-end of big fat multi-syllabic words.

That reminded me of:

Living in Charlotte, NC, in the flea market, for only 4 months back in 1977, I became acutely aware of using multi-syllabic, but very common words, such as “acutely”. It seemed to them that I was putting on airs, but it was just the way I always spoke!


Arthur wrote about following a guy following a woman he felt was a bit creepy. I’d admitted to having done so a few times myself, usually in the evening.

That reminded me of:

Participating in the recent CROP walk against hunger on May 1. I hadn’t actually signed up but The Wife and the Daughter, and her Young Friend – daughter of a friend of ours, and a Classmate of The Daughter’s all had registered. I was on my bike, trying to keep up with the girls. Over time though, The Daughter and the Young Friend got separated from The Classmate. I’d slow down when I could see both sets, but speed up when I could not see the pair.

Some guy on the route asked me if I were with the walkers, and I explained the situation. He was checking ME out, directly. And that was OK by me.

Binghamton (NY) Public Library

One of the local Binghamton media outlets received a tour of Binghamton’s Carnegie library, built in 1904, but abandoned for a decade and a half. The local community college has plans to turn it into “a culinary and events planning center.”

That reminded me of:

I worked in that library as a page for seven months in 1969, retrieving old magazines from the closed stacks, reshelving books, and assisting people with the microfilm machines. Becccye Fawcett was perhaps the first black librarian in the city, and we attended the same church, Trinity AME Zion at Oak and Lydia Streets.

September rambling #2, hernia operation edition: Consent 101

SamuraiFrog completes his Weird Al epic.

Am I having fun this morning? Hernia operation. I may be “out of pocket” for a few days.

Why did the Speaker of the House quit? The Plot Against Planned Parenthood and John Boehner.

From the American Conservative, no less: The Quiet Grand Strategy of Barack Obama. “Are the president’s diplomatic initiatives winning a new American Century?”

Study: White people react to evidence of white privilege by claiming greater personal hardships.

There Is No Excuse for How Universities Treat Adjuncts.

Re: the Muslim teen who created a clock and got arrested, it’s now clear they didn’t think he had a bomb. And talk about foolishness in school settings: 11-year-old gifted student suspended 1 year for having a pot leaf that wasn’t a pot leaf.

From Wondermark: Fauxtopia.

A TIDE commercial.

And now for the sex portion of our post: Consent 101 and How Often the Average Couple Has Sex.

Too Much in Love to Say Good Night.

End Daylight Saving Time.

Harvard linguist points out the 58 most commonly misused words and phrases.

Now I Know: Switzerland Making Headway Against Rabies and The Mystery of the Appalachian Bend and Everyday Superheroes at the Elder Care Facility and How Smoking Gave PEZ a Boost and How to Pay Yourself $2.1 Million in Taxes.

From Donna: “Thinking of writing a bedtime book for grownups along the lines of GOODNIGHT MOON. It will be titled SHUTUP BRAIN.”

R.I.P., Nancy J. Ellegate, who sat about 40 meters from my desk at work, and who I talked with about myriad topics several times a week.

A bridge comes down in Binghamton, my hometown.

Ron Marz on reviewing comics.

There Will Officially Be NO MORE X-Men in Marvel Comics.

A nice little primer on aspect ratio in movies.

Muppets. As of this writing, I haven’t yet watched the first episode of the new show yet. TV’s Newest Reality Stars (e.g., Kermit Gets Set Up) and has the new show taken an-unfortunately-dark-turn and Joey Mazzarino has left Sesame Street.

I Made Alex Trebek Say ‘Turd Ferguson’.

The longest-running shows on Broadway.


R.I.P., Ben Cauley of the Mar-Keys.

Like what you like, ABBA division.

Joe Jackson’s Ode To Joy.

SamuraiFrog completes his Weird Al epic: 10-6, and 5-1. Could my response to his response to a post of mine be far behind?

Chuck Miller says goodbye to his 78s.

MASHUPS: Blondie Vs. The Doors – Rapture Riders and Stevie Wonder vs The Clash – Uptight/Rock The Casbah.

The history of the memorable and covinous Dick Van Dyke Show comic books published by Gold Key in the sixties.

What was the first comic book you remember reading? and Tips for Surviving and Thriving at The Albany Comic Con and a roundtable discussion on the topic of comics blogging and Do comics matter? (And I don’t mean Chris Rock, I mean Sgt. Rock.)

Re: the second cartoon:
Reza Farazmand says: “Feel free to repost these comics on your blog/website/forehead, as long as it’s for non-commercial purposes. Just attribute the comic to and include a link back. Thaaanks.”

Is That Racist QUESTION

The bar in the Holiday Inn outside Fenway Park that systematically failed to serve me on Flag Day, 1991, even as others got drinks – THAT I’m sure was racism.

So here’s the scenario: a woman (white) goes into a Muslim market, where she is given the cold shoulder until she asks for some halal products. Then people are quite friendly. And the woman says later, “It seems that racism exists everywhere.” I give an understanding nod, even as I’m thinking to myself, “Is that really racist behavior?” Or is it the action of a group of people who are merely suspicious of strangers, of someone new (and, to be sure, different)?

There are plenty of times I’ve been in that situation: unfamiliar churches, different neighborhoods, stores. Sometimes I’ve gotten less than desirable outcomes, but I didn’t blame them all on racism. (The bar in the Holiday Inn outside Fenway Park that had systematically failed to serve me on Flag Day, 1991, even as others got drinks – THAT I’m sure was racism.)

Another white female friend of mine says she gets a distant vibe from a local convenience store where most of the workers and virtually all the customers are black. And she was quite angry about it. She claims not to have a racist bone in her body, and perhaps that’s true.

It occurs to me that most of us profile, in one form or another. If I were out at 1:30 a.m., a single young adult walking by would not worry me, but a group, no matter the race or gender, might make me nervous.

Back in the days of the segregated South in the United States, if a white person walked into a black establishment, one might reasonably worry that it might mean trouble. Muslims had lived peacefully in the US for years, even after 9/11, but it is only recently that many of them have said that, for the first time, they felt afraid in America; maybe it’s the same fear that made them wary of the stranger.

But what do YOU think?

H is for Halal and Haram

So is kosher halal, or vice versa?

I was watching ABC News (US) last month, and there was a piece about Air National Guard members from Illinois putting pallets of meals onto a C-130H at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The Meals Ready to Eat would be delivered to Pakistan as part of a relief mission after the devastating floods. What I noticed is that every single box I saw was labeled, in a very large font, HALAL.

So what IS halal? The best site I’ve come across is from IFANCA, the Islamic Food and Nutritional Council of America, which defines it: “Halal is an Arabic word meaning lawful or permitted. The opposite of halal is haram, which means unlawful or prohibited.

Halal and haram are universal terms that apply to all facets of life.” So the terms are not in reference to food, though this discussion will be. “While many things are clearly halal or haram, there are some things which are not clear. Further information is needed… Such items are often referred to as mashbooh, which means doubtful or questionable.
All foods are considered halal except the following (which are haram):
Swine/Pork and its by-products
Animals improperly slaughtered or dead before slaughtering
Alcoholic drinks and intoxicants
Carnivorous animals, birds of prey, and certain other animals
Foods contaminated with any of the above products
Foods containing ingredients such as gelatin, enzymes, emulsifiers, and flavors are questionable (mashbooh), because the origin of these ingredients is not known.”

There is a growing number of businesses in countries that are not predominantly Muslim producing foods that are certified as halal. This is less a function of cultural sensitivity than good business practice. A market research report from Packaged Facts suggests that food manufacturers consider kosher and halal certification for wider appeal, driven not just by religious considerations. “Companies should consider the marketing push and public perception of safety that comes with kosher certification and the far broader export opportunities that come with halal certification.

“Regarding halal foods, the market researcher said that there is ‘a dearth of reliable market data’ but cited the Malaysian Ministry of International Trade and Industry – where halal trade is of increasing importance – which estimates the market value for halal foods in the US at $11.6bn, and $548bn worldwide.

“The report also suggested that Canada presents broadening market opportunities for halal foods, with the number of Canadian Muslims set to double from 600,000 in 2000 to 1.2m in 2010, and a lack of convenient outlets for halal foods.”

KFC is going halal in the UK, and there are hundreds of halal Subway restaurants there. The US halal product directory includes foods from companies ranging from Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Cabot Creamery to General Mills, Gerber and Kraft. Here’s the list of organizations accredited by the Halal Certification Authority in Australia – which means Vegemite is halal. (Not that I would ever eat it again.)

So is kosher halal, or vice versa? Well, yes and no. Certainly, both sets of food laws come from Abrahamic traditions, though there are specific rituals involved in slaughtering meat, e.g.; not incidentally, the rules for both kosher and halal are exceptions to the general rule in the United States that animals should be stunned before being killed. PunkTorah asks, Can Jews Eat Halal Meat, and if so, might that be a way toward peace?

Muslim-American Demographic Facts

ABC Wednesday – Round 7


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