10 September 2010

Burn Baby Burn

An article from the Guardian regarding the role of social media and the internet in propelling the aspirations of a Florida based preacher to burn a copy of the Koran. I heard a similar discussion regarding this issue on the BBC this morning and the general consensus is that the internet for better, or worse, has given nut cases such as Pastor Terry Jones a global audience for extreme positions such as his. Contrast, for a moment, what would have happened if Mr. Jones had made his thoughts known in 1970, or even 1980. The story might have picked up some local media attention, perhaps a wire story on the AP, but it could never have flashed around the globe in a matter of seconds as happened now. Since internet access, mobile phone availability etc. have increased, technology has ensured that an equal number of nutcases holding exact opposite positions as Mr. Jones were able to get the news at nearly the speed of light.

The predictable result of this story has been an escalation of Muslims now threatening to burn bibles, more Christians threatening to burn Korans and everyone threatening to burn a few Jews (just kidding, at least for now.) The mixture of religious extremism, hair trigger emotions and the technology to deliver hate in nanoseconds has suddenly shrunk the world from a very big place to a nasty, crowded, little one full of tribal and sectarian violence. You could argue that the internet, instead of a tool of enlightenment and education, will help the human race rush to extinction at a much faster rate than would have been expected.

On a side note, who cares if a Koran, Bible or Torah is burned ? Can't the world's great religions survive such barbarism ? Do these people really think that God, whom they believe to be the creator of ourselves and our universe, is somehow upset that one of his favorite primates decided to burn a book ? The absolutely unhinged response to the burning of symbols, whether they be flags or religious tomes, is to me a sign of deep insecurity, not of strength in one's beliefs.

"A ha, you say, what would you do if someone burned a pile of Buddhist books in front of you ?"

I would just shrug and thank the torch bearer for demonstrating the cornerstone of my beliefs-

Everything is impermanent and all things must pass.

09 September 2010

Let's Go Saints !

This evening, the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings play the opener for the NFL season. It will be a replay of last year's NFC Championship and will feature two of the marquis quarterbacks in the game, Drew Brees and Brett Favre. More importantly, it will mark the day where my 43 year allegiance to the Pittsburgh Steelers ends, and I set off in support of a new team. As some of my long time readers know, I made my feelings known about Ben Roethlisberger's off field antics last year and my disgust for him, the Steeler's ownership and organization. My wife joined me in this boycott of our hometown team, as have many others, and we settled on the Saints as our new adopted team. We may come back to the Steelers someday, but as long as Roethlisberger is on the team, it ain't gonna happen.

For the first time in many, many years I will not spend many of my Sunday afternoons, and a couple of Monday and Thursday evenings, sitting in Heinz Field. No more tailgating with friends before the game (and after,) enjoying the incredible atmosphere on a sunny afternoon, or snowy winter night. Nope, I'm going to be in my living room watching the Saints. As a born and bred Pittsburgher it was pre-ordained that I would be a Steelers fan, but they have broken the faith and showed their true colors over the past year. It's difficult for fans from other cities to understand how deeply the Steelers are ingrained in this city, how much we are tied to this team. It is therefore even more difficult how strange I feel in knowing that I won't be watching the Steelers this year and could frankly care less if they lose every single game. My buddies were shocked by my decision- probably like a Jewish kid telling his parents he wanted to be a priest- but they mumbled that they understood and hoped I would come to my senses.

Out with the pierogies and kielbassa, in the with the po' boys and crawfish. Let's Go Saints !