If you missed out on attending AlienCon Los Angeles like I did last month, there’s a new “alien con” taking place on Friday, September 20, 2019. The Area 51 Naruto Run in the southern Nevada desert. Over one million people will storm Area 51 to find the aliens and the UFOs that the US government stashed away since the 1947 crash in Roswell, New Mexico. The plan is for everyone to meet at the Area 51 Alien Center on US-95. During the wee hours of the morning, everyone will travel to surround Area 51 from every direction. If you perform the Naruto Run just right, you should outrun the bullets as military personnel tries to stop everyone from seeing those aliens. If you can’t outrun the bullets, you will die knowing that the Area 51 Naruto Run was one of the greatest “alien con” you have ever attended.
A survey question by Civic Science found that 56% of Americans are against teaching Arabic numerals to kids. What are Arabic numerals? Zero, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and nine. The everyday numbers that schools have taught kids in the West for the last 800 years. Snopes weighed in with a “true” rating, noting that the survey was like another viral survey question from December 2015. Public Policy Polling found that 41% of Republicans and 19% of Democrats were in favor of bombing “Agrabah,” the fictional city of Disney’s Aladdin. I very much doubt that Will Smith will be singing “bomb, bomb, bomb, Agrabah,” in the live action version of Disney’s Aladdin at the movie theaters this week. What does the survey questions about Arabic numerals and Aladdin reveal about Americans?
Arabic, sometimes called Hindu-Arabic, numerals were first invented around 500 CE in India, and used extensively by Arabic mathematicians in Baghdad in the centuries thereafter. The Arabs brought not only Arabic numerals to the West, but also fractions, decimal point, and algebra that formed the mathematical basis of modern science. The finalized form of Arabic numerals that we use today came to Europe in the 13th century CE. Arabic numerals became the rage when the Norte Dame Cathedral in Paris finished building in the same century. As scientists discovered when the cathedral caught on fire last month, 800-year-old timber burns a lot faster than brand new construction timber. Arabic numerals replaced Roman numerals to become the standard numeral system around the world.
The Civic Science survey question showed that most Americans are prejudice towards anything associated with the word “Arabic” in particular and the Middle East in general. However, I find the breakdown in responses as a reflection of education in the United States. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 25% of Americans have a college degree. Most college degree programs require algebra and calculus for graduation, exposing students to the history of Arabic numerals and Arab contributions to science.
The 29% of Americans who wanted Arabic numerals taught in schools were probably college educated or have a personal interest in mathematics. As for the 15% of Americans who have no opinion, they were being honest for not knowing and withholding judgment on what Arabic numerals were. If the high schools ever taught critical thinking, most Americans should have been for No Opinion.
A somewhat interesting coincidence that Civic Science asked about the Arabic numerals prior to Disney coming out with a live action version of their animated Aladdin. The Public Policy Polling asked their survey question about bombing the fictional city of Aladdin in the run up to the 2016 presidential campaign, as the debate over Iran’s compliance with the nuclear treaty got underway. They based the survey question on Senator John McCain singing “bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran” in tune to an old Beach Boys song during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Disney’s Aladdin had permanently fixed the story as being Persian and in the city of Agrabah even though the original text mentions neither nationality nor geography. The story may have been set in Western China, which, at one point, was part of the Persian Empire. For those of you who don’t know, Iranians are Persians and not Arabs. Replace Iran with Agrabah in the survey question, most Republicans and some Democrats would bomb the heck out of it. Never mind that Agrabah was a fictional city created by Disney, which might have been an alternative name for Baghdad in Iraq since the animated version of Aladdin came out a year after the Gulf War ended.
The brilliant minds who brought us the Second Iraq War with a $1+ trillion USD price tag 15 years ago are in the White House today, pushing for war with Iran on purpose or by accident. Something to think about while watching Will Smith in the live action version of Aladdin.
A new trailer for “Spider-Man: Far From Home” came this week. One of the big surprises was Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. replacing Tony Stark in the father figure role to a young Peter Parker. Since the story line for the new Spider-Man movie takes place just minutes after the ending of “The Avengers: Endgame,” that raises an interesting question. Who is the better spider-daddy, Tony Stark or Nick Fury?
One of the nice things about “Spider-Man: Homecoming” when Sony rebooted the franchise with Tom Holland, the origin story of Peter Parker becoming Spider-Man and the death of Uncle Ben was not rehashed all over again.
Seriously, how many times does Uncle Ben have to die?
Uncle Ben’s famous quote, “great power comes great responsibility,” was ruthlessly mocked by Peter B. Parker, an older and more cynical version of Spider-Man’s alter ego, as it came up repeatedly in “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.”
In order to tie in Sony’s “Homecoming” into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr., was brought in as a father figure to a young Peter Parker. Tony Stark as a father figure is somewhat problematic. If the movies were faithful to the comic books, Tony Stark would be more at home inside a bottle of booze than the Iron Man suit. And no kid wants a drunken father.
While the movies has kept Tony Stark away from the booze, he has his own daddy issues. His father was too busy saving the world to pay attention to him when he was younger. Something that Peter Parker picked up right away, struggled with in “Homecoming” and died for in “The Avengers: Infinity War.”
With Sony bringing out “Far From Home” in July and stepping on the advertising for “The Avengers: Endgame” in April, we know that the timeline was reset for Peter Parker to have a different adventure for his summer school trip than running off with the Avengers to fight Thanos.
As for Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson, replacing Tony Stark as the father figure, it could be that he was in the neighborhood and staying on top of an emerging situation. Would Nick Fury make a better spider-daddy to a young Peter Parker? That is hard to say since so much about Nick Fury is unknown. Being a soldier and a leader of people, Fury knows how to inspire those around him to rise up and do the impossible under trying circumstances.
Here are two examples from “The Avengers.”
Nick Fury practically pulled Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans, out of the mid-20th century into the early 21st century at the end of “Captain America: The First Avenger,” gaining the trust of a young man out of time to lead the Avengers.
While Agent Phil Coulson’s death unified the Avengers, Nick Fury bringing him back to life for the TV series, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” strained their relationship. Agent Coulson, played by Clark Gregg, stayed faithful to Nick Fury after S.H.I.E.L.D. was taken over by Hydra in“Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”
“Captain Marvel” in March will feature a young Nick Fury and a younger Agent Coulson, showing us how much of a father figure that Nick Fury can be to Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel), played by Brie Larson.
Spoiler alert: Nick Fury is a cat person.