Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ok. Enough of this mosque thing. For reals.

I am going to make this post short and to the point because I am tired of hearing about this damn thing.

1) Stop calling it the Ground Zero Mosque. There are two churches way closer to GZ than this proposed mosque. There seems to be a misconception that they are building a giant mosque with minarets and shit literally on top of the hole where the twin towers used to be. This is not true at all.

2) Stop calling it a mosque. This is a building. It will have 13 stories, and include a basketball court, and a culinary school. The top two floors will be a Muslim prayer space. Mosques are establishments meant only for religious purposes.

3) Neither of these two points even matter. I am making them just to be informative, but if they wanted to build the world's biggest mosque in NYC, they should be able to as well. And if a property owner decided to knock down his building and build an even bigger Synagogue, he should be allowed to as well. Stop being caught up in the minor details of what exactly it is and where it is, and instead focus on the issue at hand - that apparently 80% of the people in this country think there should be guidelines on what types of places of worship can be built and where they should be. Aren't religious restrictions the reason we left England in the first place??

4) Stop saying that they shouldn't be allowed to build a mosque here until we can build a church in Mecca. That is an awful comparison because Mecca for Muslims is like the Vatican, and I can guarantee you that as long as the Vatican exists there will be no Mosque within its borders.

5) More importantly, stop comparing the US to other countries. Other countries may be intolerant to certain races and religions, but we Americans are better. We have freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and freedom to legally acquire a piece of property and worship whatever the fuck you want on it.

6) Stop saying it's insensitive. It is not. If you really think it's insensitive, then please explain WHY you think it's insensitive. I feel just as badly for the victims and their families as anyone else, but to say that a mosque even two blocks away from the northeast corner of Ground Zero is insensitive IMPLIES that you think all Muslims are terrorists. So the only people who say it's insensitive are bigots.

Mo out.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Would you please leave the hummus alone?

Dear citizens of Israel,

The Jewish people have several thousand years of wonderful history and culture. You have bagels, which are delicious. Challah bread is also very good. In fact, you have many traditions and foods that are unique to your culture (as all cultures do). You should be proud of them.

My question to you is - why are you so set on owning hummus? It is not yours. You may enjoy eating it, but that does't make it Israeli. Hummus is Lebanese. It always has, and always will be.

I enjoy eating pizza. I eat a lot of pizza. However, by no stretch of the imagination could one say that pizza is Egyptian. I also enjoy feta cheese, which is Greek. And chicken tika, which is Indian.

How would you feel if Egyptians started marketing Challah bread as Egyptian food? Would you feel like your culture was being robbed?

That's exactly how Lebanese people feel when you say hummus is Israeli.

Would you please just leave the hummus alone? It's okay, you can still eat it by the spoonful if it's Lebanese. I'm sure they would love nothing more than to sell you crates of the stuff.

I promise I won't tell anyone.

Thank you for your understanding. I look forward to our continued mutual enjoyment of hummus, bagels, and challah.

     -Your friendly neighbor Mo

PS also, falafel are not Israeli either. Leave our fucking falafel alone! (I take this personally because falafel are Egyptian)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Nowhere to Hide

Just launched a new blog dedicated to my "band," The Hachness Epidemic. This means that there should be no more (or very very little) talk about band stuff in this blog. For those of you who don't care about my band, this should be good news!

Check it out here: Nowhere to Hide - Official blog of The Hachness Epidemic

I know that in this country the word segregation carries a bad connotation,  but I promise this is good segregation.

Mo out.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I hate, number three!!

Because everything awesome comes in trilogies (Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, StarCraft II, etc..) and because there are so many things that I hate, I've decided to do a third and final I hate post.

Now without further adieu, let the hating commence:

- I hate when you spend all day telling your friends about how hot a girl that you met the other day is and how she totally has a thing for you and then eventually they go "enough enough, let's see a picture" and they pull up her Facebook photo only for you to find that she replaced her super hot picture with an "artsy" photo that is the ugliest photo of her that exists. Then you try to convince your friends that she's hot and they try to convince you that you were really wasted.

- I hate guys who play Stairway to Heaven, Enter Sandman, or Sweet Child O' Mine at Guitar Center.

- I hate bums who hold up signs saying "need money for beer" or "need money for drugs." The first guy who did it was original, but reminding every single person why they don't give you money in the first place is no way to go about business. You're better off asking everyone for a quarter and pretending you need to catch the train home or make a phone call or some other bullshit.

- I hate wet paint signs when the paint isn't wet.

- Also, I hate wet paint signs when the paint is wet.

- I hate that burritos are made on an assembly line and the ingredients are piled on top of each other rather than mixed in a bowl. Burritos would be so much better if every bite had all the ingredients in it rather than every other bite being a surprise mouthful of just sour cream and cheese.

- I hate when people believe things that have been disproven on Mythbusters.

- I hate people who use the word "literally" when it's not literal. In a world full of exaggerations and half-truths, literally was the only word left when you wanted to make sure someone knew that it actually happened. Now it's been compromised. "Literally" now counts as much as "ROFLMAO OMGWTFBBQ you'll never believe what happened!"

- I hate it when people say "aksed" instead of "asked." GOD I HATE IT SO MUCH...

And finally:

- I hate that George Lucas not only "taped over" the original Star Wars Trilogy with totally unnecessary "special effects" that looked good circa 1995 but now look like crap and out of place (at least the original graphics have some charm to them)... but in addition, he took the thing I hated the most about the new Star Wars Trilogy (Hayden Christensen) and PUT HIM IN RETURN OF THE JEDI. What was going through his mind? I bet it was something like "gee, how can I make Return of the Jedi better than it already is... oh yeah, MOAR Hayden Christensen!" Fail. How did George Lucas even make Star Wars in the first place? I bet you he stole it!

Mo out.

Monday, August 9, 2010

I think I know why this is happening (raises hand)

(Safety nets set up to prevent people from killing themselves by jumping off the roof - sad right?)


Foxconn (a Chinese company), one of the largest (if not the largest) makers of electronic devices, has been criticized for a string of suicides at one of its plants. Another jumper last week brought the total to 14 this year.

Apprently the company has tried a number of things to solve the problem. From the article:

"Foxconn has taken several steps to try and put an end to the suicides. The company raised employee wages twice, brought in counselors, hired monks and exorcists, requested that staff sign no-suicide contracts and installed safety nets. According to the Telegraph, the latest pay raise will bring the basic salary for production-line workers from 900 renminbi ($132.98) per month to 2,000 renminbi ($295.5). Its move to hire counselors was criticized because of the councilor to employee ratio. The Foxconn plant in question employees roughly 800,000 people, and a total of 100 councilors."

Yeah I went back and read that again. There are eight hundred thousand employees in this factory. Just to put that in perspective, that's about the same as Austin TX, Indianapolis IN, the entire state of South Dakota, or the country of Cyprus. It'a s lot of people packed in a relatively tiny factory.
"The BBC reports that Foxconn Thursday confirmed that a 22-year-old employee had died after falling from a dormitory on Wednesday."

He fell from a dormitory! They have dorms at this factory! So not only does it have enough people to fill an entire country, but it's also got housing!

What the fuck is wrong with these people? (Foxconn). First imagine a factory with 800,000 workers. Then imagine that a lot of them LIVE in the fucking factory. Is 100 councelors really the answer? What's going to happen now that they've brought in councelors and people are still killing themselves? I guarantee at least one guy in that meeting is going to say "MOAR councelors!" (well he'd probably say the Chinese equivalent of that... which would be "mooaaah councerors!")

But seriously, it doesn't matter how much you increase these people's salaries, or how many councelors, monks, priests, exorcists or magicians you hire... if they live like caged animals and work so long that they sleep at the factory, their life is going to be miserable.

As an aside:

Now consider that Foxconn makes the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, among other Apple products and that Steve Jobs has consistently denied using Chinese sweatshop labor. Just because they have air conditioning doesn't  make it not a sweat shop, Steve.

-Mo out.

PS - fun fact (sorry, need to lighten the mood a bit). While I was trying to find something to compare 800,000 to, I was thinking of the number of government workers (for some reason or another). So i Googled government workers, and I swear these are the "autofill" results:

Friday, August 6, 2010

I hate, part 2

I really hate the world blog. It's shot for web log, fine, but that doesn't make it a pleasant word to hear. Just the sound of the word is reminiscent of someone puking after eating some bad Indian food. It also makes me think of like some giant type of sewer monster who lives in the sewers and feeds on garbage and human waste. Then one day he's had enough and he starts terrorizing the citizens on the surface while they all run away yelling "Run for your lives! The Blog is coming!"

Even more than the word blog though, I hate people who hate things but don't present alternatives or explanations, so I am now making alternatives/explanations a requirement for hating. Please note that people who hate Steve Jobs, famous for being famous, or Nickelback are exempt from this requirement. If I have to explain to you why I hate any of these things, I will personally voyage to your home and beat you over the head with an iPhone and a Nickelback record while forcing you to watch reruns of Keeping up with the Kardashians. Got it?

Shortly after releasing my last "I hate" rant I instantly thought of much better things that I hate, as is usually the case with these things. Here are a few more things that I hate, in no particular order:

- I hate when food manufacturers pick odd units to show the calorie count of food in, like when you buy a cereal bowl which is intended as a single breakfast but then you look closely at the calorie count and it's for "2/3 of bowl" or when it says something like 2 calories per 1/16th of a Fig Newton... God, Kellogg, I didn't bring my TI-83 today give me a break.

- I hate when I meet someone and they ask me where I'm from, and I tell them my parents are from Egypt and they say "wow, my friend's mother is half Lebanese." The correct answer in this situation is "wow." Either that or "..."

- I hate hipsters who talk shit about other hipsters. Seriously? It's like: "I was the first guy to wear new vintage clothes, ride a fixed gear bicycle, and listen to shitty music on purpose just to be different. Those guys are just posers..."

- Also, I hate non-hipsters who make a habit of unnecessarily hating on hipsters just to be cool, because woah, that's more ironic than Mars.

- I hate when you see a movie that you really liked that was based on a book you didn't read, and then some asshole who read it tells you the book was much better and starts explaining all the things that were in the book that weren't in the movie. I don't like to read, I have A.D.D, leave me alone!

- I hate when they change the voice actors for cartoons and you notice. It makes me sit there thinking "hey this isn't the Vegeta that I know..."

- I hate it when someone goes through a door ahead of you and holds it open for you but you're still really far away, so you have to either start jogging to get to the door or take an uncomfortably long time to walk while they stare at you. It's like "gee, thanks, asshole."

- I hate people who think Yngwie Malmsteen is a musician. This man plays guitar like it's a sport and talks shit about Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. Please, if I want to see people play classical music insanely fast on electric guitar, I'll just watch that Asian guy on Youtube who plays two guitars at once. Yngwie should be forced to change his name to something that has more vowels, then beaten to death with his own guitar and then subsequently forced to listen to "arpeggios... from hell!" on repeat, in hell. All while some Asian guy air guitars in front of him. In slow motion. Wearing a wig.

- I hate movie sequels where all the characters are the same but one character is played by a different actor and they make no effort to explain why this person is a different person all of a sudden. Continuity please? That's like if I showed up at work on Monday and my boss was a different man but had the same name and job function.

- I hate people who call bands sell-outs as soon as they achieve popularity. Go back to your basement and listen to your mixed tapes of underground indie bands who are, apparently, so good that regular people can't even comprehend how good they are.

- I hate guys who complain about the controller when I beat them at video games. Last time someone did that I actually swapped controllers with the dude and beat him by an even wider margin. He then threw his controller at a wall in anger and it actually broke. Don't bring that weak shit.

- I hate when people use "that's what she said" when it's totally not appropriate/relevant because then I force myself to think of a scenario where that would have applied (and it's usually gross). Most recently this happened I was telling my friend to take the spoon out of a big bowl of guac before covering it and putting it in the fridge:

"Take the spoon out of it first!"
"That's what she said!"
"What does that even mean? ....... oh gross!!!"

Part 3 may be coming soon depending on how much this week continues to piss me off. We'll see!

-Mo out.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

About this mosque stuff

I've been avoiding this topic for a while because I keep hoping that it will go away, but now that everyone including Sarah Palin has something to say about it I kind of feel a responsibility to comment. Besides, given my... "cultural background" and the fact that I live in New York, it's actually quite a relevant subject.

So to bring everyone up to speed, there is a building two blocks north of Ground Zero (World Trade Center site) here in New York that some people want to make into an Islamic community center, and that plan is drawing cries of "too soon" and "too close" from critics. They're saying that the site is a "war memorial" and that a mosque in that location would be a slap in the face of those who died on September 11th. Others like Sarah Palin are calling it insensitive. There was actually quite a bit of controversy, so much that there was actually a meeting held where many New Yorkers showed up to express their views on the subject.

Now some facts. Before everyone starts talking about how inappropriate it is to build a mosque there, let me just make this clear - the building already serves as a mosque. Nearly 400 people gather there every Friday for prayer services (Friday for Muslims is like Sunday for Christians, it's the main mosque-going day, although you can also go on other days). So the current plan is not to create a mosque where there isn't one. Rather, the plan is to build a community center that seeks to do a few things:

- Expand the mosque to cater to more people
- Build better relationships with local non-Muslims
- Promote better understanding of Islam

Now to discuss the controversy itself.

Do I think it is appropriate to have a mosque near Ground Zero? I think it's completely inappropriate to even ask that question. Because doing so implies that the terrorist attacks were an act committed by the entire religion of Islam against America, and vilifies all Muslims collectively. There seems to be a perception that Muslims are a group of a few thousand people who live in Saudi Arabia in tents, beat their women, and eat falafel while dreaming up plans to bomb America and hating freedom at the same time. People seem to forget that all 1.5 billion Muslims who live on this planet are not fanatics and that Islam is the world's second largest religion by population.

Just to get an idea of how ridiculous this is, imagine if a group of Christian fanatics had blown up.. say... the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Do you think that anyone would have argued for a ban on churches near the bomb site?

The answer, clearly, is no. We would have labeled those people as "INSANE" rather than "Christian." What makes it so easy to blame Islam as a whole is that they are a minority in this country and that as Americans, we do not know enough about minorities to make proper judgments.

Like all religious fanatics, Muslim fanatics claim that they do what they do in the name of God and religion. But again, like all fanatics, the "religion" that they live by is a grossly skewed and distorted version of the Islam that the other 1.4999 billion people follow. For example, PROPER Islam actually teaches that Christians and Jews should not be persecuted for their beliefs. This is fact. It is explicitly stated. Bet you didn't see that one coming.

Rather than defending Islam in a long post though, because that's not what I want to do here, I'm just going to use this as an opportunity to point out how quick to judge people can be. How many of the people that use the word Jihad on a daily basis even know what the word really means (the answer is not "holy war")? How many people actually know the building in question is already a mosque? People hear the words Islam and mosque in the same sentence as Ground Zero and they immediately start behaving like uneducated bigots. I'm not even joking, I heard someone say that "America won't stand for this, we won't submit to Islamification like in Europe." What the fuck does that even mean????

Let's think back to our proudest moment as a country... you know, when after Pearl Harbor we rounded up all the Japanese Americans (and even some Chinese and Koreans) and threw them into concentration camps. What did we learn from that? If anything, it's that as Americans we are not going to collectively punish people for the sins of others.

It's normal to fear what we don't understand. In the case of this mosque, we are denying people who are American citizens their constitutional right to freedom of religion because of clear and simple Islamophobia.

I'm not quite done, but I'll end it here and open the topic up for discussion. This is the kind of subject that is best discussed, not ranted about.

Mo out.