Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Omar Khayyam and Some Links

When I was a little kid (say seven or eight), the very first movies/compiled TV shows/anything on VHS I watched were the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon series. There were six video compilations of this show, which aired back in the 1960s, and they would just lampoon the living heck out of whatever they wanted-the Soviets, fairy tales, the Canadian Mounties, the World Economic Council (and their fight against the Box Top Badman), you name it. Then it got made into an awful, awful CGI movie, but we won't talk about that.

I bring this up because the professor in my Islam class asked last week what our first experience with Islam was. I said something inane and different, but what I remember was this Rocky and Bullwinkle episode that featured the "Ruby Yacht of Omar Khayyam". Bullwinkle enters this dirty, grungy model ship in some kind of toy boat racing event, whereupon it promptly sinks. Rocky fishes it out, and without its dirt, the boat is revealed to be the Ruby Yacht. I don't remember what happens next, and the Internet isn't giving up its secrets (all it says is something about a trip to India), but that wasn't the point. That was my first encounter with Islam.

Also, my grandparents live across the street from the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington D.C., or "the people with the cool green flag".
Of course, I was overjoyed with this cool cartoon, and I wanted to know more about the Ruby Yacht. So being a bookworm kid, I went to the library and asked the lady at the front counter where I could find said Ruby Yacht. Puzzled but compliant, she directed me to the adult section and gave me this gigantic book.
"That doesn't look like a moose and squirrel..."
I opened it, ready to see giant and possibly ancient cartoons of Rocky and Bullwinkle saving the world, and got The Rubiyat of Omar Khayyam, which is apparently 11th-and 12th-century Persian poetry. In my entire life I have never been so confused.

The show's creators apparently liked to deceive impressionable children with spectacularly obscure puns. I'm not sure I've forgiven Islam yet for taking away my moose and squirrel.

Moving on, we've got a couple of effects, er, links from the world outside. The Philadelphia Inquirer details how the new Tea Party congressfolk's efforts to slash the budget stop at the edge of the defense budget. See previous ranting that if you'd like to save money being spent unnecessarily, there are a lot of DOD programs to start with.

We also have a report from the Guardian about the concessions Palestinian leaders were willing to make in private, which contrasted sharply with their public stances, during the last few years of failed talks. Al-Jazeera is reporting. I'd welcome the disclosures if they looked like evidence that we were moving closer towards an agreement, but when the revelations include a discussion about moving Palestinian refugees to South America, it's hard to view that as progress.

Tune in soon for a deconstruction of some particularly obstinate global warming denialists!

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