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Month: October 2002

Feelthy pictures

Unnoticed in the furor over other issues: Bush is pushing for a ban on computer generated child pornography. In April, the Supreme Court struck down such a ban. I’m no fan of child pornography or its consumers, but free speech is free speech.

I found the claim that one in four children between the ages of 10 to 17 is exposed to pornography every year to be really funny, by the by. Newsflash: teenagers find porn on purpose. Always have, always will. It’s not an Internet thing, Mr. President.

Lazy hazy days of summer

Worth reading: Salon’s interview with Michael Chabon, on the subject of his new novel Summerland. I haven’t read the book yet, because I was far too broke to buy hardcovers over the summer, but I rather expect to remember to pick it up soon. I think that Chabon’s sense of wonder makes him one of the best authors out there right now. Summerland sounds like a glorious expression of that sense of wonder.

It’s so clear that Chabon is a fan, by which I mean he covertly dwells in the weird little meshwork of interlocking subcultures defined by comic books, roleplaying games, science fiction, and other such traditionally geeky pursuits. I say covertly because he’s never really said as much, and on occasion he’s avoided answering questions regarding the depths of his comic book fandom. I can’t blame him: it’s a tarpit of a ghetto for someone who’s made it in the literary world. I would say that Chabon is no better a writer than Sean Stewart, but Stewart will never break out into the New York Times Book Review, because he comes nicely prelabelled.

As Chabon says, “When people heard that [Kavalier and Clay] was about comic books, I got a lot of ‘Oh, really? ‘Cause I thought I might be interested until I heard that.’ I was aware there was going to be some initial resistance from some people.” I think it’s reasonable to be wary. This way he gets good publicity, and he still gets to write the screenplay for the next Spider-Man movie. Lucky bastard.

Anyhow, in this interview, he mentions that he’s always wanted to write something like Susan Cooper’s “The Dark Is Rising” sequence. The signs are pretty clear. He’s one of us.

I thought it was a little sad that the interviewer failed to comment on the relationship between Summerland and the aforementioned Sean Stewart, who also dives deep into the rich world of American mythology, or even the rather obvious American Gods. Still, it’s nice hearing what Chabon had to say about the process and the choices and laziness in writing.

Weighing the choices

The sniper seems to have been caught, which is great news. Not so great news: he recently changed his last name to Muhammad, and reportedly converted to Islam some years ago. Inevitably, some people are rushing to point out how dangerous those Muslims are.

I thought about it. In the last ten years, if we look at domestic terrorism, the score is American Christians 2 and American Muslims 1. Kaczynski and McVeigh beat Muhammad. Clearly — very clearly — Christians are bad news and very dangerous.

You heard it here first. Muslims make better Americans.

The danger is that we’ll ignore the real cognate, which is terrorism and membership in Al Qaeda. The latter happens to have a prerequisite. You need to be Muslim. That doesn’t speak to the terroristic tendencies of Muslims; it speaks to the prejudices of Osama bin Laden. He was in a position to leverage his hatred, but that says nothing about the likelihood that the Muslim on the street will be a terrorist.

It is dangerous (I’m tempted to say treasonous, but that would be wrong) to sweep all this under the generic rug of “Islamic terrorism.” There’s no such thing as Islamic terrorism, just as there’s no such thing as a black quarterback or a woman rock star. There are quarterbacks who happen to be black, there are rock stars who happen to be female, and there are terrorists who happen to be Islamic. None of those adjectives have a material effect on the nature of what they do.

Cousins, identical cousins

We have a new contender for goofiest team relocation move ever. ESPN reports that the Montreal Expos may move to Boston for a year. This would be great for the owners of the Red Sox, since they’d get rent from the Expos. The Expos are currently owned by Major League Baseball itself, which would love to see attendance drop so that there’d be more of an excuse to contract the Expos out of existence. The fans are not deeply important in this equation.

This would be the second time in recent history that Major League Baseball has arranged for the Expos to benefit Boston. The first was the Cliff Floyd trade, which was ludicrous from Montreal’s point of view but a big win for Boston.

I can’t imagine that Boston would suddenly take to the Expos. Not that it wouldn’t be flattering to have two baseball teams, but it would also clearly be only temporary. So who’d care? I guess I might get a lot of cheap tickets to meaningless games…

Land of ice and snow

It was snowing this morning. Not sticking, except on the top of my car, but distinct white flakes coming down. As I’d half expected, my brain didn’t quite register the white stuff at first. It looked like rain but it was acting funny. It’s been a good ten years since I’ve seen snow, you see; a legitimate ten years. It doesn’t snow in San Francisco, it didn’t happen to snow in England when I was there in January a couple of years back, and I just didn’t happen to travel anywhere else at an appropriate time to see the stuff.

I can report with certainty that snow is wet. My hair is all full of little snow crystals. I am, as you may suspect, charmed to pieces about all this. I might not feel as good when my car fails to start and rusts out and all that, though.

Still. Snow. How cool.