London elected a Muslim mayor, and the world has not yet ceased to exist!

While we’re all so consumed with the presidential race here in the United States, we often forget that there are other elections happening in other countries that have major ramifications for the world.

Voters in the United Kingdom, for example, just recently went to the polls. They selected, among other things, a new mayor of London, one of the world’s most treasured cities.

And since this is England we’re talking about, I’m sure they elected some dude named Nigel, or Oliver, or Finley. Something like that, right? In my head I’m basically picturing Nigel Thornberry from the old Nickeloden show “The Wild Thornberrys.”

Wait, what’s that you say? They elected who? A man named Sadiq Khan?

And he’s … Muslim?!

OH MY GOD. RUN FOR THE HILLS. GRAB THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN AND ABANDON YE SHIP. THE WORLD HAS OFFICIALLY MET ITS END. HEAD FOR THE HILLS AND DON’T LOOK BACK.

I mean, I assume he walks around with a turban, a long beard, and just shouts threatening Arabic statements at random.

He doesn’t? You say he’s actually clean cut, well spoken, qualified and highly intelligent? He has 10 years experience in Parliament and is a human rights lawyer?

KHAN SADIQ

And after being elected, he lauded Londoners for choosing hope over fear and unity over division during a time when Islamophobia has hit an all-time high in the West?

… can he run for American president?

Last Saturday was an important time for the world. Because it was a day that proved that Islamic ideals can align with those of the West. That a Muslim can be accepted to lead people of all skin colors and religions.

Which is exactly the opposite of what ISIS is trying to preach in order to gain more sympathizers. And, in turn, it’s exactly the message that Donald Trump is also parading around on the campaign trail — that Muslims and white people are basically incompatible.

And Donald Trump, of course, has made a major campaign promise to bar Muslims from entering the U.S. if he is elected president. But, in a wonderful change of heart that should brighten everyone’s view of him, he said this week that he might make an exception for Sadiq Khan. What an honor.

Khan, 45, is the son of Pakistani immigrants. Will he suddenly change everyone’s worldview? Of course not. Firstly, he has to prove that he’s a good mayor. That he’s competent. If he does that, then maybe down the line he can become a symbol for something bigger.

But it does go to show that people can still make choices based not on fear or ignorance, but on hope and reason.

I don’t expect there to be a Muslim U.S. governor anytime soon. Although, Minnesota voters did elect the first Muslim to Congress nine years ago, by the name of Keith Ellison (who, in case you’re wondering, endorsed Bernie Sanders in this year’s election).

There are 3.3 Muslims in America, making up about 1 percent of the population. That number is expected to double by 2050.

Let’s stop acting like they’re not a significant part of our nation that we claim we’re trying so hard to protect. They’re not the threat — our own ignorance is.

Learn from London. We could all be better off for it one day.

Go home, North Carolina, you’re drunk

Up until about two months ago, whenever the state of North Carolina was mentioned, the first thought that popped into people’s heads was, well … nothing.

Absolutely nothing. There’s really not many more unmemorable states than North Carolina. Sure, you’ve got a couple good college basketball teams there, and it’s along the route when people want to travel southward to Myrtle Beach or Florida.

And that’s fine! There’s nothing wrong with being under the radar. It means you’re doing you’re own thing, and more importantly, you haven’t done anything stupid to bring negative attention to yourself.

Well that all changed in late March, when the state’s legislature and governor passed the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, which has been described as the most anti-LGBT legislation in the United States.

Since then, the backlash against North Carolina has been well documented.

Loretta Lynch.jpg

But it looked like this whole situation would finally come to a head when the U.S. Justice Department gave North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory a deadline to assure them that he will not enforce this law, stating that it is in direct violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

So that ended it, right? When the DOJ comes down hard on you, there’s really not much else you can do. North Carolina tried to pass a law, failed, and we move on to the next story. What else is happening in the news?

Wait, hold on a second. North Carolina did what?

Seriously? Ugh. Alright, let’s keep going.

On Monday, McCrory responded to that deadline by filing a lawsuit against the United States government, calling the Justice Department’s position a “radical interpretation” of the Voting Rights Act.

This prompted a counter suit by the DOJ, coupled with a dramatic press conference by newly appointed Attorney General Loretta Lynch — a North Carolina native — as she voiced her assurance that the Obama administration will do everything in its power to protect transgender rights.

At this point, it’s shocking how invested North Carolina is to go out of their way to inconvenience the lives of transgenders.

So what can us common folk do to stick it to North Carolina? (Other than blog about it). Well, we can go to their college basketball games and heckle their teams … when the college basketball season begins in November. Or we can drive around the state when traveling along the eastern coast, adding several hours to our commute.

Yeah, there’s not really much we can do. Boaty McBoatface2.jpg

Unless …. maybe I do have an idea.

Remember when I told you about the social media campaign to name a polar research vessel Boaty McBoatface?

Well, unfortunately it failed. Popular consensus did not prevail, and the environmental group that organized the contest will instead name the boat RRS Sir David Attenborough, all but guaranteeing that no one will ever care about this boat ever again.

How about we kill two birds with one stone?

Somebody design a massive boat (I’m talking Titanic 2.0 here), and let’s turn it into not a gay cruise ship, but a transgender cruise ship, and call it Boaty McBoatface. And where will it traverse?

The entire coast of North Carolina.

If that’s not the ultimate way to grandstand against discrimination, then I don’t know what is.

Canada is on fire, and I’m pretty sure it’s all our fault

Well, nature has already begun rejecting the idea of Donald Trump as a serious presidential candidate, as evidenced by what’s been happening in western Canada the last several days.

A wildfire that began earlier this month is raging through northeastern Alberta, forcing some 100,000 people to evacuate. A drier-than-normal season with little snow has contributed to the surging flames, of which many people attribute to the effects of climate change. As many as 1,600 homes have been destroyed.

Tens of thousands of Canadians unfortunately got a dose of one of everybody’s favorite hypothetical ultimatums — if your house was about to burn down, what would you rescue?  If you answered your cat and your Harry Potter books, and you’re female, then please send me an email so we can meet.

Canada fire.JPG

But it’s the biggest evacuation in the petroleum-rich province’s history. And in a sinister twist of fate, among those refugees are families who recently were resettled from war-torn Syria.

Imagine waiting years to finally leave one calamitous situation, only to be settled in a place that months later becomes inhabitable. And you all thought you had bad luck?

It’s the country’s biggest disaster yet under the fledgling leadership of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who, until now, was best known for doing yoga in his office and posing with adorable animals. But even I’ll admit, as a heterosexual male, he looks pretty damn good doing it (#datwavyhairdoe).

In all seriousness, this whole thing is pretty terrifying. The pictures are shocking. People’s lives are now in shambles.

And I’m convinced that this is nature’s way of punishing us for voting for Donald Trump. The timing is too impeccable to think otherwise.

So on behalf of America, allow me to apologize to Canadians. I’m sorry. I didn’t vote for the man, and I’m trying to use what little voice I possess to encourage people to follow my lead, but I still feel at least partially responsible as a resident of this nation.

I’d ask what’s next in Mother Nature’s onslaught against us, but I literally just read right now that tornadoes are ravaging Okalahoma.

This is real. We should all be fearful every day until Donald Trump is disposed of. We have unearthed some unnatural force that is now wreaking havoc upon us.

Everyone thought our demise would be nuclear war. Or disease. Turns out it was Donald Trump.

I’m honestly not surprised. Mercury transit.jpg

On a brighter note (literally! Haha, get it? Oh wait, I haven’t gotten to the punch line yet…. hold on) Mercury made its rare transit across the sun today (get the joke now? “Brighter?” You see?), making it visible from Earth, which is something that only happens 13 times a century. And it made for a lot of pretty pictures.

Given the political landscape, I half expected Mercury to veer off course and be sucked into the giant fireball we know as the sun, but thankfully, that did not happen.

Fortunately, the consequences of our actions have not extended beyond our planet.

For now.

I’m looking at you, Neptune. If any planet is going down, it’s you. You never had a chance.

#PrayForNeptune

And then there was Trump

Oh boy. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.

What have we done?

Wednesday was a day of reckoning not only for the Republican party, but for the entire United States. Following an overwhelming victory in the Indiana primary that all but eliminated the possibility of a contested Republican National Convention, and forced candidates Ted Cruz and John Kasich to suspend their campaigns, Donald J. Trump has become the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

After months and months of pundits telling us that Trump will absolutely, unequivocally, not be the Republican nominee … here we are.

Before we even begin to analyze what comes next, we have to take a step back and process what has happened. Donald Trump made history. What he did has never been accomplished before in the history of America.

Donald Trump nominee

It’s not uncommon for a powerful figure to come along in politics and prey on people’s anger and anxiety using abrasive, divisive and even bigoted rhetoric, only to gain a large following.

George C. Wallace, the notorious racist, ran for president five times (four times on the Democratic ticket!).

Remember Joseph McCarthy? He used extreme intimidation tactics to start a witch hunt as a Senator during the Cold War to expose alleged communists. One of those tactics included threatening to publicly accuse them of homosexuality.

Like Trump — these individuals were demagogues. They said what they thought the public wanted to hear. They thrived on disorder and angst.

Except, the difference is that Trump is the first to win.

He’s the first person to never hold an elected office to become the nominee of one of the country’s two major parties since Dwight Eisenhower in 1953. And that only happened — as pointed out by Trevor Noah on the Daily Show on Wednesday — because he beat Hitler.

And now, as the presumptive nominee, Trump will start being briefed of classified information by the Central Intelligence Agency. Let that sink in for a minute.

So what does it all mean?

For one, we’re in for an ugly next six months. There will be unpleasant political exchanges on Facebook, in your office, at the bar on weekends, and at your dinner table.

And heck, we could all just say “fuck it.” We’ve gone this far, might as well take it all the way and elect this guy. It’s a shit show already, so why stop now?

Or we could all take a good, hard look in the mirror. Trump is here, that’s true, but that doesn’t mean he has to be here to stay.

If you disagree with him, then go freaking vote in November. It’s a minority of the public that votes in primaries. And usually those voters are the most passionate. Trump is winning the majority of those groups of people, but that doesn’t mean he represents all of us.

There’s still time to fix what we’ve done. If you don’t support what Donald Trump stands for, you can still do something about it. Register to vote, and express your voice. Voting is the most powerful form of protest there is.

Hash tags and Facebook statuses only go so far. Voting is the real way to effect change.

We created him. And now we can stop him.

Is there anything more insufferable than reading about the Met Gala?

Yes I know there was very important news in the presidential election today, but I’ll get to that tomorrow. First, I have to talk about something much more meaningless and inconsequential.

Because here at the Weinblog, meaningless and inconsequential is where we shine.

Over the last few days you may have heard a lot of chatter about the Met Gala. And if you’re wondering what that is, then you can take solace in knowing it’s exactly as precocious and obnoxious as it sounds.

Even the name is infuriating. The Met is already known as the most famous art museum in the world. So if you’re not into art — which includes most people — then you probably don’t care about it. I get that art is cool and inspiring and expressive, but, hallway after hallway lined with paint-spattered canvasses just doesn’t do it for me.

Beyonce Met Gala.jpgAnd then … gala. If you want to invite me to a party, a dinner, a gathering, a shindig, a barbecue, a soiree, brunch, or even a banquet — yes that’s right, a banquet — then I’d say OK. That’s fine. I’ll come.

But don’t ever, ever, invite me to a gala. I’d sooner go to a Lamaze yoga class then accept an invitation to a gala.

So combine the Met and the word “gala,” and you pretty much get the worst thing ever.

The event originally served as a standard fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But then Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue — or in layman’s terms, the real-life Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada — took it over 17 years ago and since then it’s become the most exclusive, desirous party of the century.

Remember in high school when you heard hallway gossip about the Friday night party that someone on the football team was hosting? And then you wished you were secretly invited because it meant you belonged to a certain group? Well, the Met Gala is the celebrity equivalent to that.

Only the elite of the elite attend. Tickets cost $30,000, and even if you can afford it, you have to be invited. In this case, money doesn’t buy acceptance. This year’s event was also co-hosted by a few others, one of them being — you guessed it — Taylor Swift.

Basically, it makes the Golden Globes look like a college keg party.

And that’s what makes it so unbearable. It’s bad enough that this party exists, and that Zoe Saldana Met Gala.jpgcelebrities have even more reason to fawn over one another while they bask in their feelings of self-importance.

But it’s even worse that the media covers it to death, basically giving these people the attention they so desperately desire, and then force feeding it upon us. It’s on my Facebook. My Instagram. On Google after I search the words “Met Gala.”

OK, so maybe some of it is my fault. Oh, and Maria Sharapova was there, you say? Maybe I do want to go.

You know what? On second thought, I just thought of one thing that’s more insufferable than the Met Gala.

People who say “May the fourth be with you.”

They’re definitely the worst.

It started with Pearl Jam. It ended with disappointment.

Oh where, oh where, can my baby be?
The Lord took her away from me
She’s gone to heaven, so I’ve got to be good
So I can see my baby when I leave this world

It’s not very often you see a band perform for three straight hours with no opening acts leading up to them. But that’s exactly what happened when Pearl Jam played two shows at Madison Square Garden this past Sunday and Monday night.

Yours truly had the privilege of seeing the second show.

Pearl Jam has an absolutely devoted fan base who basically follow them on tour. And while I’d say I am not a die-hard, I am certainly a big fan and have always wanted to witness them live. Fortunately I was able to snag a ticket with the help of a friend, and there I was, in the last row of the world’s most famous arena, watching Eddie Vedder sing long into the night.

Pearl Jam

And it was exactly what you’d expect. The band sounded great. Eddie Vedder’s vocals were on point. The crowd was super into it and there was never a dull moment. I had a great time.

Vedder, a staunch liberal, did take the time to preach his political views on occasion between songs, to the obvious dismay of concertgoers who didn’t agree with his ideologies. But it’s all forgiven because they’re freaking Pearl Jam.

In addition to their original work, the band performed covers of The Beatles and The Who, and the night was even capped with two surprise cameo appearances by Cheap Trick and Sting.

What more could I have asked for?

Unfortunately, the night did not end as blissful as it began.

When I departed from my train off the Long Island Railroad at approximately half past midnight, it suddenly struck me that I was missing something — my beloved Nikon Coolpix camera, which I purchased last summer and has been a constant companion for me along my many travels and concerts.

I was only a few steps off the train, and immediately made a beeline back. But it was too Eddie Vedderlate. The doors were closed and the train was already in motion.

Talk about a helpless feeling.

The camera is not irreplaceable. In fact, there are many affordable options that would be an upgrade. But it was my camera. It was the first digital one I’ve ever owned.

Whether I was 10 feet away or 100 yards away, it still took excellent pictures. I used it to take pictures of artists ranging from Paul McCartney, to Dave Grohl, to Zac Brown, to Lana Del Rey, to Beck, to James Taylor, to Rachel Platten.

And now it’s gone. I’ve registered it with the railroad’s lost and found system using very specific details of where and when I lost it, so there’s still a glimmer of hope. Who knows. Maybe it will find its way back home.

But if it’s truly gone, then it’s only fitting that its last photograph was of Eddie Vedder, from literally the last row of Madison Square Garden — yet so crisp that it looks like I had prime seats.

Thank you, Nikon Coolpix, for making my Instagram page look really, really cool. We had a good run. And it’s only fitting I give you an appropriate send off by altering lyrics of Pearl Jam’s “Last Kiss.”

Oh where, oh where, can my Nikon be?
The railroad took it away from me
It’s gone away on the train eastbound
I hope I find my baby at the lost and found