Sunday, June 05, 2005

Juneblog

You say Quran, and I say Koran- let’s call the whole thing off.
It looks like NEWSWEEK is off the hook, kind of, for the upheavals in Afghanistan.

The Associated Press last week informed us:
"The Pentagon on Friday released new details about mishandling of the Quran at the Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspectsm confirming that a soldier deliberately kicked the Muslim holy book and that an interrogator stepped on a Quran and was later fired for 'a pattern of unacceptable behavior.'

"In other confirmed incidents, water balloons thrown by prison guards caused an unspecified number of Qurans to get wet; a guard's urine came through an air vent and splashed on a detainee and his Quran; and in a confirmed but ambiguous case a two-word obscenity was written in English on the inside cover of a Quran."

No Quran was flushed down a toilet, though. We have that to cling to.

Philosophy Talk.
I do a piece every other week for a new public radio program called PHILOSOPHY TALK (details here: http://www.philosophytalk.org/whatsNew.htm). Hosted by two Stanford professors, the show takes a weekly look at the world from a philosophical point of view. It is an excellent program, and I am pleased to be a part of it.

(You can listen to past shows on-line; details here: http://www.philosophytalk.org/notesPastShows.htm; or you can catch the show LIVE, via the miracle of audio streaming, here: http://www.kalw.org/listen.html. The program airs Tuesday at noon PST, live. You will need RealAudio, available free, here: http://www.real.com/)

KALW, the station that first aired PHILOSOPHY TALK, gave away as a premium during its last pledge drive, a brunch with the Philosophy Talk Team – which includes me, even though I’m not much of a team player.

It was a very pleasant afternoon on a cool sunny day at Stanford, meeting with folks who thought enough of the show to give 250 bucks to the station. Though small-ish (15 to 20 people), they were quite enthusiastic, especially about the even-handed and civil approach John Perry and Ken Taylor bring to the proceedings. I wolfed down a ham and cheese omelet (lox and spuds on the side), with orange juice, coffee, and a cheese danish. I talked with some very nice people, and only embarrassed myself once!

Afterwards, John gave a tour of the campus (which is quite lovely; I hadn’t seen it since the late seventies, when Duck’s Breath performed there; I remember playing the very first iteration of Asteroids in the student union). He revealed an episode of Stanford history that I’d forgotten – the mysterious death of University founder Jane Lathrop Stanford (widow of Leland), in Hawaii, in 1905. Her body was brought back to California by David Starr Jordan, the president of Stanford University, who may, some theorize, have murdered her.

Coming Home
Ben Manilla, producer of PHILOSOPHY TALK, gave me a lift back to the Muni line in downtown San Francisco, where some kind of pro-Israel rally had just broken up. As I approached the stairs to go underground, I noticed that a bearded man roughly my age had his face pressed against the window of one of the numerous upscale coffee/pastry/sandwich joints that dot San Francisco. There was a miniature plastic flag of Israel flapping from his back pocket.

In the window was a blown-up photograph of a boy, blood on his face, throwing a rock. There was a middle-aged Arabic-looking woman behind it, holding the photograph up to the window with one hand, and giving the finger to the bearded man with the other. He was thrusting his middle finger back at here, saying in a low voice, “Fuck. You. Fuck. You. Fuck. You.” I couldn’t hear her through the glass, but her lips were moving, and I believe she was doing the same.

Earlier that same day…
Some drunk guy ahead of me in line at Walgreen’s (this was 10 in the morning, on a Sunday), was telling the assistant manager behind the register that he was going to report her and Walgreen’s to the Better Business Bureau. As near as I could tell, he was angry because he was trying to buy at a discount two 8 packs of peanut butter cups with a coupon that was only good for 8 packs of some other confection.

Later, earlier that same day…
Some soccer mom, with her adorable whelp, was angrily refusing to fold up her stroller on the crowded N Judah. Finally, when the patient driver told her he could not continue unless she complied with regulations, she grudgingly complied.

Ah, life in wartime....

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