Aug 31, 2010

Well done old boy, well done.

Really people.  The hate just needs to stop.

"Ground Zero mosque'? The reality is less provocative...

by Charlie Brooker

Things seem awfully heated in America right now; so heated you could probably toast a marshmallow by jabbing it on a stick and holding it toward the Atlantic. Millions are hopping mad over the news that a bunch of triumphalist Muslim extremists are about to build a "victory mosque" slap bang in the middle of Ground Zero.
The planned "ultra-mosque" will be a staggering 5,600ft tall – more than five times higher than the tallest building on Earth – and will be capped with an immense dome of highly-polished solid gold, carefully positioned to bounce sunlight directly toward the pavement, where it will blind pedestrians and fry small dogs. The main structure will be delimited by 600 minarets, each shaped like an upraised middle finger, and housing a powerful amplifier: when synchronised, their combined sonic might will be capable of relaying the muezzin's call to prayer at such deafening volume, it will be clearly audible in the Afghan mountains, where thousands of terrorists are poised to celebrate by running around with scarves over their faces, firing AK-47s into the sky and yelling whatever the foreign word for "victory" is.
I'm exaggerating. But I'm only exaggerating a tad more than some of the professional exaggerators who initially raised objections to the "Ground Zero mosque". They keep calling it the "Ground Zero mosque", incidentally, because it's a catchy title that paints a powerful image – specifically, the image of a mosque at Ground Zero.
When I heard about it – in passing, in a soundbite – I figured it was a US example of the sort of inanely confrontational fantasy scheme Anjem Choudary might issue a press release about if he fancied winding up the tabloids for the 900th time this year. I was wrong. The "Ground Zero mosque" is a genuine proposal, but it's slightly less provocative than its critics' nickname makes it sound. For one thing, it's not at Ground Zero. Also, it isn't a mosque.
Wait, it gets duller. It's not being built by extremists either. Cordoba House, as it's known, is a proposed Islamic cultural centre, which, in addition to a prayer room, will include a basketball court, restaurant, and swimming pool. Its aim is to improve inter-faith relations. It'll probably also have comfy chairs and people who smile at you when you walk in, the monsters.
To get to the Cordoba Centre from Ground Zero, you'd have to walk in the opposite direction for two blocks, before turning a corner and walking a bit more. The journey should take roughly two minutes, or possibly slightly longer if you're heading an angry mob who can't hear your directions over the sound of their own enraged bellowing.
Perhaps spatial reality functions differently on the other side of the Atlantic, but here in London, something that is "two minutes' walk and round a corner" from something else isn't actually "in" the same place at all. I once had a poo in a pub about two minutes' walk from Buckingham Palace. I was not subsequently arrested and charged with crapping directly onto the Queen's pillow. That's how "distance" works in Britain. It's also how distance works in America, of course, but some people are currently pretending it doesn't, for daft political ends.
New York being a densely populated city, there are lots of other buildings and businesses within two blocks of Ground Zero, including a McDonald's and a Burger King, neither of which has yet been accused of serving milkshakes and fries on hallowed ground. Regardless, for the opponents of Cordoba House, two blocks is too close, period. Frustratingly, they haven't produced a map pinpointing precisely how close is OK.
That's literally all I'd ask them in an interview. I'd stand there pointing at a map of the city. Would it be offensive here? What about here? Or how about way over there? And when they finally picked a suitable spot, I'd ask them to draw it on the map, sketching out roughly how big it should be, and how many windows it's allowed to have. Then I'd hand them a colour swatch and ask them to decide on a colour for the lobby carpet. And the conversation would continue in this vein until everyone in the room was in tears. Myself included.
That hasn't happened. Instead, 70% of Americans are opposed to the "Ground Zero mosque", doubtless in many cases because they've been led to believe it literally is a mosque at Ground Zero. And if not . . . well, it must be something significant. Otherwise why would all these pundits be so angry about it? And why would anyone in the media listen to them with a straight face?
According to a recent poll, one in five Americans believes Barack Obama is a Muslim, even though he isn't. A quarter of those who believe he's a Muslim also claimed he talks about his faith too much. Americans aren't dumb. Clearly these particular Americans have either gone insane or been seriously misled. Where are they getting their information?
Sixty per cent said they learned it from the media. Which means it's time for the media to give up.
Seriously, broadcasters, journalists: just give up now. Because either you're making things worse, or no one's paying attention anyway. May as well knock back a few Jagermeisters, unplug the autocue, and just sit there dumbly repeating whichever reality-warping meme the far right wants to go viral this week. What's that? Obama is Gargamel and he's killing all the Smurfs? Sod it. Whatever. Roll titles.

Aug 19, 2010


Don't walk, and make this recipe for BBQ chicken. It was the most fantastic BBQ I have ever had the joys of tasting. I marinated a whole chicken then smoked it on the grill till it fell of the bone. This recipe is actually so good, now that I told you about it I'm fairly sure I have to kill you.

Aug 11, 2010

What did you say?

So, if you know me you know that I'm nearly deaf in my left ear. That would be the primary reason that I always try to walk on your right side, and I might ask you to repeat things a few times. I had a slew of ear infections in my teens that did major damage on the inner workings of my ear. I'm supposed to have some bones in there, but they're long gone. I even went through a surgery to put prosthetics back in, but my body didn't care for that plan... and rejected them... and other crap is wrong in there as well that I don't want to bore you with. Anyways, all this has resulted in hearing loss around 75 - 80%.

Good news, my hearing nerves aren't damaged like we previously thought. I have the potential to hear, sound just isn't making it past all the scar tissue in my ear from past surgeries, and since the bones are missing the sounds isn't being transferred to the nerves.  I went in yesterday to discuss some options with my ENT, and long story short...I have four options, three of which could allow me to reach normal hearing level in my left ear.

1. Leave it alone, and continue to deal. (I like this option! I've been living an okay life up until this point. I kind of look at my hearing loss like someone might look at a scar on their face. Their quality of life is not really that terrible, but it bothers them even though others might not even notice it till you point it out.)

2. Get a hearing aid. The audiologist isn't thinking this will help too terribly much, since I have so much scar tissue in my ear it's blocking sound going through. Piping in louder sound will just mean louder muffly sounds being heard.

3. Cochlear a hole into the side of my head and screw in a state of the art hearing aid that accesses the inner nerves instead of just amplifying sound. It's about the size of a bite sized candy bar, and it would be there semi permanently. We did a test run of this, where we just held the box on the side of my head. It was the creepiest feeling I've ever felt. I could hear, but it felt like I had a bad TV reception inside my head. It wasn't natural sounding, and it made me feel dizzy and off balance. I can't really describe it. I didn't like it at all. Plus everything was on a strange delay. I would hear normal sounds in my right ear then hear weird, loud, robotish sounds through my left, on a delay. I'm not thinking I'm interested in this. I mean, I know it's an amazing breakthrough in science, but I don't think I'm hearing that poorly to justify it. I don't know.

4. Surgery to clean up the scar tissue and replace the bones...again... I've tried this before, and my body said hell to the no. The doctors believe they could scoop the scar tissue out, cut under my eardrum and try attaching a new prosthetic bone into my ear that might prove to be lasting. Though the technology has changed, this still makes me nervous. There is no guarantee how my body might react to another prosthetic being put in. I'm not sure how I really feel about going under for something they can't 100% guarantee will last. Realistically, I understand nothing is guaranteed to work, but it seems like I've have a pretty crappy run on this strategy up until this point.

Bah, I don't know. I have another evaluation next Tuesday. I'm getting a CT scan to see how much bone I have left in my ear, and having another pow wow with the doctors. I have the head of Barnes ear surgery, my ENT, and the head of the audiology department evaluating my situation. I was proded for 2 1/2 hours by them and a bunch of students and now I just feel ill. It makes me feel so sea sick when people mess with my ears. They get all excited about the strangeness that is my ear. I just get barfy from being poked.

I'm not making any decisions now, but it does give me something to think about. I could potential improve my quality of life. But I'm not sure the risks justify the benefits. We'll see.

Aug 9, 2010

I'm Back.

I'm not new and improved or anything, but I'm still that's a plus.
I just spend two weeks in Florida, and on a whim we took a breathtaking drive through the Smokey Mountains on our way back home. Man-child is back at work today and I miss him fiercely.
I have the biggest crush on Clayton, Georgia and I really would like to live there.
Thinking about moving somewhere new makes me happy. I like adventures. 
My dogs are in good health, the man-child and I are thriving, and I made the best pulled pork known to man last night. I didn't think I could grill, till I started grilling. Who knew?
My grandmother had a mini-stroke. She's okay now, but it scared me when it happened. 
School starts in two weeks. For whatever reason, I thought it would be a good idea to take on more than I did last semester. If I end up killing someone due to stress, you'll bail me out right, internet?
I started riding a bike. I like it. Better yet, my butt is starting to get used to it. The first few times I rode a bike I thought my butt was never going to forgive me. I couldn't sit right for days. Is this just me?
I grew new things in my garden this summer. We had a haul of blackberries, but our tomatoes are a bit lackluster this year. They keep falling off the vine before they're ripe. Fuckers. I also planted lavender, snap peas, and lettuce this year. They were delicious. 
I took a very small amount of pictures on my trip, and they're all from my phone. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I always take a ton of pictures with the intent of printing them all out and hanging them on the wall. I never do this so I'm not sure why I keep taking pictures. See, we're all caught up. Now enjoy the grainy photos.