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Testing Converts 24 June 2008

Posted by Ayesha Mattu in BARAKA, Culture, Sociology, Spirituality.
17 comments

I don’t expect anyone to believe straight off the bat that Basil didn’t convert to Islam for me.

Granted, God alone knows if he would have ever converted had he not met me. But though I may have opened a then unthought-of door, I didn’t force him through it. Both of us were very clear that we didn’t want a conversion of convenience, so he converted only after careful study and reflection.

But once I’ve explained all that, I get tired of still seeing the disbelief in people’s eyes. They can certainly have curiosity, questions or doubts about his journey to Islam or “authenticity” as a Muslim, but I expect them to make up their minds after they spend quality time with him, not before.

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numbers| Progress 22 March 2008

Posted by ABD in Culture, Sociology.
1 comment so far

Percentage of US adults in 1985 who said they found overweight people less attractive than others: 55%
Percentage who said this in 2005: 24%

Source: NPD Group, Port Washington, NY

Question of the Week: Public and Private 16 March 2008

Posted by SA'ILA in SA'ILA, Sociology.
5 comments

Human beings have a tendency to act differently—and speak differently—when in public, in contrast to when they are in private. What drives the distinction between public and private? What are things—religion? profession? health? relationships?—that are public to you, and things you decide to keep private?

Are there other factors—beyond personalities—that shape our preferences to be more private—or more public—about certain things than others individuals may be about the same?

numbers | Gastronomies of Scale 15 March 2008

Posted by EDITOR in Economics, Sociology.
2 comments

Percent change in the average amount of food a person will consume when eating with one other person: +35%

… with four other people: +75%
… with seven other people: +96%

source: Brian Wansink, Cornell University

Alcohol and Short Stories 21 December 2007

Posted by mecca in ABUSHARIF, Reviews, Sociology.
2 comments

I looked for something to read a slow Sunday evening and pulled down a volume of short stories on alcoholism, a Graywolf Press collection of short fiction from masters (like Raymond Carver, John Cheever, Frank O’Connor, and Langston Hughes) who had honest and pointed observations to make about liquor and its impact on the lives of families and individuals. Appropriately, the stories are free of nasal moralizing; the narratives allow the movement of plot and characters to carry the day. The introduction begins this way:

Whether its purpose is social or business, to celebrate or to mourn, Americans have come to expect the presence of alcohol whenever they come together. If anyone should drink too much, it is not seen as a problem but rather shrugged off as a mistake or an amusing peccadillo. Few people are comfortable making an issue of drinking because alcohol is such an accepted ingredient in our way of life.

The book is: The Invisible Enemy: Alcoholism and the Modern Short Story (Graywolf Press, St. Paul, MN, 1989). Ever since I picked up its first volume from a Hyde Park (Chicago) bookstore, about fifteen years ago, Graywolf has been a personal favorite of mine as far as small literary presses go. There is something unpretentious about Graywolf, kind of like its namesake, the endangered animal itself.