Friday, June 30, 2006

Diet Coke & Mentos: The Show

Chana, eat your heart out. :) This just gets better as it goes...


Posts of the Day

I'm still a bit busy, though I've been keeping up with my reading whenever I need a break. However, these two posts are simply too important to pass up.

Chayyei Sarah attended the funeral of Eliyahu Asheri, who was murdered by Palestinian terrorists after being kidnapped. Excerpt:
Unbelievably, Eliyahu’s mother found the strength to speak. She didn’t cry while she was talking – all the rabbis had been sobbing through their speeches – but quietly spoke to her son, with incredible simplicity and dignity.

“Eliyahu,” she said. “You always came to other people’s defense. In our home, when we judged others harshly, you always said not to judge, never to see someone based on their outward appearance. So gently and sweetly you came to the defense of others.”

“Now, Eliyahu, come to our defense. Use your extraordinary power of prayer, the prayer that we all admired, to act as our defense in Heaven. Ask God not to judge us harshly. Pray to Him to protect us, and pray to Him to help all of us to know him, for all of the Children of Israel to recognize Him, for He is our father.”
WestBankMama has an incredible post on the chess-like movements of the IDF. Before people complain about their seeming lack of action, they should read this post. Excerpt:
There is no lose in this scenario, because the terrorists don't value the same things we do. If the IDF comes in and kills innocent civilians, which is basically inevitable when the terrorist hide behind them, the terrorists don't mourn - they rejoice. More good publicity. If the terrorists manage to kill IDF soldiers, even if the losses are way out of proportion to their own losses, than they also rejoice - not only because of the pride involved, but because they know that all of us in Israel mourn the loss of even one of our sons, and the left uses this pain as a way to pressure the government to refrain from action in the future.

So how do you proceed in this kind of a war? You figure out how to change it from win/win to lose. You figure out what the other side really values and you go after it.

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Due to the way it falls out this year, we're not doing anything special on our anniversary (as opposed to last year, when we were beautifully inspired by the kindness of others), though we hope to do something sometime soon.

It's a strange feeling, being married two years. One year was weird enough, but it has the distinction of being the end of your very first year of marriage. After two years, however, it feels strange - knowing that you're nowhere near newlywed status, but far away from being true "old marrieds." As it is, we seem to have become an advisory couple of sorts to many of our friends (and to our pleasure), and it's strange to think that while they're dating and now getting married, we've already been married not just a short while but two full years. I feel old, and I don't turn 23 for another few weeks. That I always imagined myself as the one who doesn't even think of dating until my mid-20's makes it all the more weird, because here I am: Not quite 23, married two years, a beautiful daughter, and an excellent job awaiting me in the fall.
Thank God, life is good.
Anyways, to my dear wife Serach, have a wonderfully happy anniversary.

I love you!!
(Continue for pictures below...)


Iconic

I realize that many people are having trouble inserting the JBlogger icons onto their blogs, so... here's how to do it. Go to edit template, save a copy in Word, then find the area that has to do with your sidebar. Figure out where you'd like the icon to appear in the sidebar, then insert this simple short code there:
$ul>$a href="http://jblogosphere.blogspot.com">$img src="http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/6409/2091/1600/israel%20button%20thinking%20of.0.jpg" />$/a>$/ul>
but replace all the $ with <. If you're an Israeli blogger, you may want to use this URL instead of the one above as the photo source:
http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/6409/2091/1600/israel%20button%20no%20map.jpg
The two icons should look like these: Enjoy!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Reasonable Belief

Perusing the away messages of our friends, I saw this one and found it quite interesting:
"To believe something is to believe that it is true; therefore a reasonable person believes each of his beliefs to be true; yet experience has taught him to expect that some of his beliefs, he knows not which, will turn out to be false. A reasonable person believes, in short, that each of his beliefs are true and that some of them are false."
Wisdom is found wherever you find it.

Prof. Justice: DingDong!

HAIL, TO GEORGIE, THE WICKED WITCH IS DEAD!

Having been mired in work, midterms, more work, little league, even more work and final examinations, I finally began writing my next commentary. I was about to document the absurd email I receive from students and my responses thereto when Zarqawi’s death was announced. Upon learning of his untimely demise (it should have happened sooner), I popped a champagne cork, did a little dance and sang a song of praise to God (not his). I admit that I felt immense joy and pride when the President announced that American military forces “delivered justice” to Zarqawi, his “spiritual leader” Sheik Abdul Rahman and several of his henchmen. It is, of course, unfortunate that innocent women and children also perished, but what was Nicholas Berg? Oh, that’s right, an infidel who deserved beheading.

Fortunately, the Bush Administration refrained from announcing that Zarqawi death signaled an end to the war on terror. Predictably though, the media and the left couldn’t resist responding with the usual, “great but . . . .” Tim Russert, National Public radio and others stated that Zarqawi’s death was symbolic and would change little or nothing about the situation on the ground. Perennial Bush critic Richard Clarke said Iraq is not safer, the war would not end sooner and that “Zarqawi only commanded a few hundred people out of tens of thousands involved in the insurgency.” The June 12 edition Boston Globe ran a story about Zarqawi not having much support from the Arab world because most Muslims were repulsed by his tactics and atrocities but just didn’t speak out. Well, that’s not true. Remember the massive Muslim demonstrations wishing him to eternal damnation for having bombed the al-Askariyah mosque in Samarra and the hotel in Jordan where he murdered Muslims attending a wedding celebration? They didn’t appear to have any difficulty speaking out. Still, Zarqawi remained an icon of terrorism. Remember, that other cave-dwelling monster dubbed him the “prince of al-Qaeda.” Whew, and I thought he had no redeeming human value. Who knew that normal people sever and store human heads?

And of course, what news cycle that includes one of the most stupendous of events since perhaps the capture of Saddam the Butcher would be complete without the infamous congressional Johns

(Murtha and Kerry) chiming in. Who better than they to carp? After all, they have the moral and political carte blanche to habitually denigrate our troops without an investigation and in the absence of evidence. Why is it that Murtha and Kerry, who incidentally served in Vietnam, appear far more interested in trashing our military than in Zarqawi’s death? Why do the media, and many on the left, seem more disturbed by the prospect that he may have suffered before expiring and whether proper Islamic burial rites will be respected than they were when our troops’ bar-b-qued corpses were hung from a bridge?

Whether or not the left and the “mainstream” media choose to celebrate the momentous occasion that Zarqawi’s well-earned execution is, it would be political suicide to dismiss it entirely. John Murtha, who, after sheepishly admitting that Zarqawi’s death was “significant,” refused to acknowledge that it wouldn’t have occurred had U.S. troops not been on the ground in Iraq. Atta boy, way to support our troops, eh? He went on to complain about the monetary cost of being in Iraq and claimed that Iraq was engaged in a civil war of which al-Qaeda was only a small part stating, “I think they’ll settle this themselves, just like we settled our civil war ourselves. . . . We’ve diverted ourselves from the real war on terrorism to the war in Iraq.” Uh, Johnny, small part? Running around lopping off the heads of “infidels,” blowing up mosques and murdering thousands of people in the name of Allah to establish an al-Qaeda terrorist state is the real war on terrorism, not merely a small part of a civil war? Are you sure you’ve been in the House chamber and not with Marion Barry smoking something?

And on John Kerry’s website was the following statement:

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was a brutal terrorist and his death strikes a blow to al-Qaeda in Iraq. This ruthless thug who abused the true meaning of Islam was an intruder on Iraqi soil and it’s good news that he’s dead. Our troops did an incredible job hunting him down and destroying him, and all of America is proud of their skill and commitment.

However, in typical Kerry doublespeak, the statement continued as follows:

The outcome of what is now a civil war in Iraq cannot be determined by American military force. It has to be solved by Iraqis brought together to hammer out their differences. Period. It is time for Iraqis to stand up for Iraq. . . . Our soldiers are fighting and dying in the third war in Iraq –– not . . . the war President Bush said had to be fought against armies of foreign jihadists, but an escalating civil war between Sunni and Shia.

But I thought you told us this war is fueled by the insurgency, not intruders or foreign jihadists? Wait a minute. You can’t believe that because then you wouldn’t be able to justify your “cut and run” policy. Is that perhaps the reason why you now claim Iraq is nothing more than an internal civil war, or is it merely to deprive Bush of any credit for eliminating Zarqawi? Funny, but even the Washington Post recently noted that “the stated aim of Zarqawi . . . was to foment bloody sectarian strife between his fellow Sunni Muslims and members of the Shiite majority.” Unless I’m wrong, Zarqawi was from Jordan. Maybe I’m misguided, but wasn’t it you and your ilk who have repeatedly lambasted the President and the military for not having captured Zarqawi? Haven’t you continually stated that the President’s war on terrorism is an abject failure because we haven’t got bin Laden? Now that we’ve rendered the “prince of al-Qaeda” room temperature, it’s no big deal? Is that what you’ll tell us if and when we give him bin Laden as his roommate? Probably. And until then, I’ll bet you’ll keep reminding us what a failure our government and our military are.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say the media and the left are trying to downplay and diminish the significance of killing Zarqawi along with several of his co-conspirators and uncovering a veritable “treasure trove” of intelligence. But that would presume they have some desire in not seeing good news for the U.S. out of Iraq: like their obsession to prevent Bush from getting credit for any achievement or to use it as a political exploit in furtherance of regaining power.

I recognize that reveling in an enemy’s demise is normally not appropriate, noble, or politically correct. However, this time, I think I can find it in my heart to make an exception. He was not the average, ordinary, garden-variety enemy. In fact, even among terrorists, Zarqawi was a psychopathic homicidal monster. A terrorist’s terrorist, you might say.

Indeed it was a great day for the President, the American military, the new Iraqi government, the Iraqi people, the world and yes, even Islam. Like it or not, it was a monumental accomplishment that couldn’t have come at a more precipitous time. No, it won’t end terrorism or the war on terrorism. But isn’t it grand that he won’t ever behead anyone again? Isn’t it fabulous that we nailed several of his associates? Isn’t it wonderful that after eliminating him and demolishing his “safe house,” twenty-eight stockpiles of weapons were obtained, hundreds of terrorists have been identified and papers documenting details of a plan to intentionally incite a war between us and Iran were discovered? But best of all, his successors, and other terrorists, may not sleep as well. And that should help us sleep better.

Ding-dong Zarqawi’s dead!

JBlogger Icon

We're quite Jewish at JBlogosphere, but we're slowly getting our act together. Sarah designed a pair of wonderful images, and Irina has written the accompanying post, all of which are at the JBlogosphere blog. As you can see, I've added the applicable badge for myself to the header of this blog. It would be wonderful if others would add one of the icons to their blogs, as well.

Please, read Irina's post. Then, hit "edit template"... :)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

MordyS: How about something happy!

I've been going to a lot of simchas lately. Weddings, engagement parties, sheva brochos, brisses, sholom zochors, and all that stuff. It's got me thinking about brochos (blessings).

In just about every culture, I believe there is some form of a wedding toast. The Irish have their saying, the Italians have their traditional toast, and I'm sure the Zulus and the Tootsies probably have their own form of the idea.

So, as I've been going to tons (at least it feels like tons) of weddings lately, I've been hearing all kinds of interesting and not so interesting brochos. Most Jews seem to leave it to the usual "bayis neeman byisrael" or the onlysimchas version- "bnb." Some get a little more into it and give a "filled with simcha, and torah, and chessed, and yadda yadda yadda..."

I like to make mine different.
Shemona Esrei ends with the brocha of Sholom (Peace). Now, I don't remember where I heard this, but basically I remember the reason is because what's knowledge, health, or even Jerusalem, if you can't even enjoy it in peace. And that makes alot of sense to me, so my brocha that I've been giving to all the newlyweds I know is that they should have Sholom Bayis (peace in the home), because what's the point of bulding a home without the peace? (And besides the non-stop rise of the divorce rate in this country and other domestic violence issues and the like, peace at home has never been more important in general.)

I want to know what kind of brochos people give out or if there is any reason to give an original brocho or whatever.

Presentation of the Year

(Hat tip: Mom)

This is great - from the song he starts with to the very end of his presentation, David Pogue (who is the New York Times' technology expert) is smart, funny, and interesting [and only a little geeky]. Watch the whole thing (about 10 minutes).

A Wing & A Prayer

Please check out the prayer chain started by Olah Chadasha. I've seen it picked up by many, and it is worth seeing the different prayer each has posted, including her husband Olah Yahshan, myself, Irina, Sarah, IfYouWillIt, Shlemazl, LifeinIsrael, Sabra, Chana, and Jameel. Please, take a few moments to read them all.

There's an old song which was often sung in my high school during a kumzitz which would follow every melave malka. The melave malka would usually consist of a few hours of great dancing, and the kumzitz was another hour and a half of sitting on the floor singing nice, slow, relaxing/inspiring songs. The following was a favorite, and I think it's applicable with the terrible kidnappings (now numbering three) happening in Israel. It's worth noting the difference between Israel and the Palestinians for a moment: When Israel arrests or captures a terrorist, there's no concern that they will kill him, torture him, behead him, or use him as a bargaining chip. They wouldn't even be able to - the Palestinians would just let him die, not negotiate for his life.

When an Israeli is kidnapped, the Palestinians make demands: Release terrorists, give up land, etc. They know that Israel values the life of every person, and they take advantage of it. The reason we have to have a "No Negotiations With Terrorists" is for exactly this reason: All they do is accept the offer, then go back on it and try to do it again. Is it not clear, 15 years later, that they simply do not abide by the same moral standards as the rest of us? Anyways, here's the poem:
The little bird is calling,
He wishes to return
The little bird is wounded,
He cannot fly but yearns
He's captured by the vultures,
And is crying bitterly
Oh to see my nest again,
Oh to be redeemed

The little bird of silver
So delicate and rare
Still chirps amoung the vultures
Outshining all that's there
How long, how long it suffers
How long will it be
When will come the eagle
And set the little bird free
This time, the little dove is Gilad Shalit. It is Eliyahu Asheri. It is a 62-year old man from Rishon L'Tzion. The vultures are the terrorists, lower than life itself. I am certain that the kidnapped are outshining all that's there, and I hope and pray that their suffering is minimal.

May the eagle set them free.

Update from the Super Secret JBlogger Meetings

UPDATED BY EZZIE IN COMMENTS



You have to wonder what Ezzie was thinking when he asked for this "innocuous" message to be put up. Like, hello?! How obvious can you get? Ezzie -- there's no way you're going to be planning this meeting next year.

As a result of this poorly planned sign, the following crowd waited on line in the parking lot...trying to get a glimpse of some of the famous, big name bloggers who showed up.


As could be expected by Ezzie's poor management skills, Orthomom and RenReb finished off all the cookies and ice cream before the meetings even got started.

This is a JBLOGGER meeting for G-d's sake! People come to EAT!

And RenReb - next time, you don't have to eat in the parking lot, surrounded by all the paparazzi trying to get a picture of you in your tinted window Hummer. It was hard holding them at a safe distance to give you some privacy.



Some of the following important topics were discussed:

1. Why wasn't there enough ice cream to go around?
2. Why aren't there more hits to the JBLOGOSPHERE blog?
3. What kugel is being served at tonight's meeting.
4. Alternative names for Jameel's blog.
5. Discussion on Speilberg's proposed "JBlogosphere - The Final Frontier (chapter IV)" and which actors would play which bloggers.
6. Brick thrown through window by an angry Jakartan demonstrator outside -- apparently he confused us with the OTHER JBlogosphere secret meeting down the block. (in the shteibel)
7. Screening of the movie, "Only Human"
8. Maariv...off to bed.

Ezzie, I trust you'll give us a wrap up of today's session...thanks.

Jameel.

Prof. Justice: Stupid Student Tricks

STUPID STUDENT TRICKS

Now that the Spring 2006 semester has concluded, I have once again been barraged with email from disgruntled students angry at their horrendous examination performance, er, rather, at me for having the unmitigated gall to assign a grade based on that performance. I should note that my grading policy, which is clearly stated in the course syllabus, affords each student the opportunity to drop the lowest quiz score and receive the final examination score as the final grade if it exceeds a student’s weighted average (based on the nominal percentage value of each course requirement). Below are actual emails from real students, exactly as I received it. My responses follow. The names have been changed to protect the brainless:

(Gretchen) Hi Professor, How are you? Hope you still remember me. I was so shocked this morning when I found that I got a grade C on the course that I took with you. I studied so hard for this one, never missed any of your class. I am just wondering, if the “C” was a typo or what? It is very important for me to get a good grade, most of my grades are A, I have never received such a low one. I was almost kill myself when I first saw this ……Please, please help me double check this record, and kindly reply to me at your convenience.

I understand your frustration but please, don’t kill yourself. I have no doubt that you worked hard. Unfortunately, working hard doesn’t determine your grade. Performance does. Your final exam score was 68 and your course average, as correctly calculated, is 75 which translates to a C.

No, you don’t understand what this first C I have ever got means to me: I am a Golden Key member, and my GPA was always kept above 3.875 before I got this grade. With a future plan of going to a graduate school, I have been studying very hard ever since I attended this college. With a grade C in my record, I will not be able to be accepted by a good graduate school or to receive scholarships in the future. It is not only a better letter that you could give me, it is a very huge impact that you could make to my future. Please, please kindly reconsider it again, I always respect you and say good words about you to my schoolmates and other fellow students, you don’t understand how disappointed this C has made me. Please, kindly, make it higher than C.

Thank you x 1000 times!

Exactly what grade do you want me to “make it higher than C?” C+? B? B+? Why stop there? Why not just ask me to make it an A? Better yet, why don’t I just give every student a B or even an A, regardless of performance. Or maybe I should just ask students if they worked hard and if they say that they did, give them an A? Does this sound silly to you? Well it should, because it is. You’ll forgive me if I sound rude, but I find it impossible to understand how you or any student would seriously expect me to just give a higher grade because you worked hard, you’ve never received a C before, your GPA might be lowered, you won’t get into a good graduate school or won’t be able to procure future scholarships (which, by the way, isn’t true). If your logic is correct, which clearly it is not, would I also be responsible for your inability to find a job? One thing that you most certainly should have realized about me is that you will not further your cause by inferring that somehow I will be responsible for the consequences of your poor performance. I am stunned that you do not seem the least bit embarrassed to even make such a request. Your performance is solely your responsibility, not mine. I cannot and will not, in good conscience, give something that was not earned. It demeans the significance of achievement and personal responsibility. Moreover, it cheapens the value of every other student’s performance. Lastly, it is not the right thing to do for you either. I do, however, wish you much success in your future efforts.


~~~

(Laura) Dear Professor, Is it possible for you to give me a C- instead of the D+ so I don’t have to take this class over. Please i am begging I have been to everyone of your class I also Passed the midterm exam. Please reply to me if you could change this grade thanks.

First, understand that I don’t “give” anyone their grade. All grades are earned. More important, I don’t understand how you can seriously make such a request considering that your quiz average, with the lowest grade dropped, was 53 and your final exam score was 57. In other words, 60% (40% final exam and 20% quiz average) of your semester’s performance was a failure. And your midterm score, which wasn’t exactly stellar, was 70. So, exactly why is it that you feel you earned a C- ?

I really need a C- because I am on academic probation and I do not want to be kicked out of school. I really hope that you could help me out. I know I have not really done that well but I was always there for class. Please professor. I am really trying to improve and I hope that you could assist me in doing so.

But that doesn’t answer the question, which is, what about your performance on the course requirements warrants a C-? It seems unfair of you to ask that I “assist” you in your effort to improve by “giving” you a grade that you did not earn because it assumes that somehow I will be responsible for your being kicked out of school. I’m sure there are reasons why you are in the position that you are, but it is nevertheless your doing, not mine.

~~~


(Jay) Do you truly believe that I deserve a “D” for this course?

What I believe is that you are confused. The course syllabus, which I’m sure you read and are very familiar with, states on Page 3, Note 11, “there is no Constitutional right to receive an “A” (or any other grade) in this Course. All grades must be earned and are based exclusively upon your performance on the examinations, quizzes, attendance and participation.” Precisely what about this do you not understand?

Frankly, your implication that I would assign a grade for any reason other than that which is deserved is offensive and inappropriate. Moreover, if you are really interested in knowing what grade you “deserved,” you need not look any further than your performance which, according to the average college standard, was sub-par. Actually, you probably deserved a failing grade. You failed the final examination and barely passed the midterm. I even gave you the benefit of the full 5% participation points, despite not having done so in a consistent and meaningful way. Note to yourself; asking what material will be on the exam after announcing it in class numerous times, posting it on the web “blackboard” and outlining it on the Syllabus does not constitute participation. Accordingly, I do indeed believe you deserve a D because it is the grade you earned. I also believe that nothing more needs to be said.

~~~


(Eric) Hi Professor. To tell you the truth I was a little surprised with my grade in your class last semester. I know it is not just a little snobby rather it is very snobby to complain about an A-, but after two semesters this kills my 4.0. It is not just the fact that this runes my average, it is honestly that my parents really care about this. Also, I am really puzzled with the grade, my quiz scours were very good and on the midterm barley anyone did better. Going in to the final exam I was pretty confident that I knew the material pretty well and I thought my writing showed that. I am curios what I got on the final that resulted with the A-, also I am obviously curios if there is anything I can pleas do to get the A that I really want (and, with all do respect, even think I might deserve).

Though I’m gratified that you recognize the absurdity in “complaining” over an A-, it obviously didn’t preclude you from doing so. Perhaps more telling, however, is that you don’t appear to be the least bit embarrassed to tell me the reason you “really want” an A is because an A- “kills my 4.0” that you have so laboriously earned during a whole “two semesters.” And if that isn’t absurd enough, claiming it is I who will be responsible for “ruin[ing]” your average, besides being melodramatic, is inane. Adding “that my parents really care about this” was a nice emotional touch, but otherwise ludicrous. Given your brilliant logic and eloquent articulation, however, I am disappointed that you didn’t ask for an A+. Then, next semester, when a professor has the audacity to “give” you an A-, you’ll have extra points available to offset your “ruined” 4.0 GPA. I do agree that your quiz scores were very good. Actually, your quiz average (after having dropped the lowest score) was 100 which is not just very good. It’s perfect. However, quizzes represent only 20% of your final grade. I also awarded you the entire 5% for class participation despite it having been substantially less than your classmates. Your midterm score, which constitutes 30% of your final grade, was 88. You’ll note that 88 is distinguishably different from 100: 100 is perfect; 88 is very good. But very good is neither perfect nor close to perfect. So, just as you seem to be puzzled over your “extremely good” A-, which is somewhere between perfect/ excellent (100) and very good “88”, I am equally puzzled that you either didn’t read or didn’t notice, despite my bringing it to the class’ attention the first day of the course, Page 3, Paragraph 11 of the course Syllabus which provides as follows:

Contrary to what seem to be popularly-held notions, there is no Constitutional right to receive an “A” (or any other grade) in this Course. All grades must be earned and are based exclusively upon your performance on the examinations, quizzes, attendance and participation as indicated above. There are NO extra credit options.

In other words, feeling “pretty confident that I knew the material pretty well” and thinking your writing “showed that” is not relevant. What is relevant is your performance, not only on the final, but in the course. As my policy clearly states, you’re not entitled to an “A” simply because you think you deserved one. Actually deserving it is required. In the future, you may want to consider evaluating your actual performance before spouting nonsensical statements. There is never a substitute for personal responsibility.

It appears to me that these students all suffer from an inability to accept responsibility for themselves. Sadly, such students seem to be in the majority. At the end of every semester, I receive email like this. In my day (which wasn’t long ago - I’m not that old, yet) no student would dare engage in such discourse. While there may be many explanations why many students now do, I believe it is primarily a manifestation of parental failure and political posturing. Parents can’t or won’t instill children with the proper morals, values and discipline that students need to learn how to accept responsibility for themselves. They intimidate teachers and school officials into inaction by threatening to file complaints or bring legal action over virtually anything. Our politicians, for their part, are more concerned with pandering to their electorate, jumping in front of a camera or relentlessly playing the blame game. Teacher unions demand more money for “education,” yet classroom conditions don’t improve and salaries don’t go up. Tenure, which is often a form of concealed protectionism, renders it difficult to remove ineffective or incompetent teachers from the classroom. Outcome-based “education” and social promotion eliminate the time-honored value of achievement based on performance rather than effort or age. The result: failure to implement an effective system of natural and logical consequences for students’ performance. Then, parents, teachers and politicians point their proverbial finger’s at each other because students aren’t learning.

Growing up, I learned several very important lessons. If I wanted to achieve something, I had to work hard for it. But merely working hard, by itself, didn’t mean that I would succeed. And if I did not achieve my desired objective, I would nevertheless have obtained a benefit by accomplishing something from which to improve upon. Such lessons were learned, first and foremost, from academic examinations and other types of competition. On many occasions, my performance, for whatever reason, merited neither an “A” nor a “win.” I learned from it and figured out how to improve. Nowadays, however, we seem to be preoccupied with whether children are going to feel bad about themselves. And instead of building their self esteem by letting them experience the “pain” of failure, many feel it is better to simply remove them from it. Social promotion, outcome-based education and even no-score sports may be a “feel good” approach to building self-esteem, but destroys character development. Sure, parents don’t enjoy seeing their children disappointed and dejected over their poor performance at anything. But that’s precisely what parents are for: to guide children through those difficult situations in preparation of life’s challenges. So when parents blame the teachers, the board of education and the politicians for their children’s failures, what do you think their children will learn?

Recently, during a New York City Department of Education meeting, parents complained that their children are being overwhelmed with the city’s plan to regularly test their academic achievement. A woman from Washington Heights exclaimed, “Why be stressing our kids out with more tests? [sic] . . . These are little kids - too many assessments will not be conducive to learning.” Come again? That sounds like she needs to go back to elementary school and learn a few things - like logical reasoning and English grammar. Other parents complained that the tests would take away from critical teaching time in the classroom and would place more emphasis on simply learning for a test. Huh? Randi Weingarten, president of the city’s teachers union, argued that “in addition to the other high-stakes state tests already in place - this is simply formalizing what we’ve already seen, namely too much testing.” Are you kidding me? Learning in preparation for a test is a problem? I find it impossible to believe that one can make such an argument without turning red from embarrassment. Incidentally, I’ve seen the material that students in the third and fifth grade are tested on. Trust me. These tests don’t measure brilliance. In fact, they ought to be called illiteracy tests, not assessment tests. Any child merely sitting in a classroom, absent a learning disability, should have no difficulty passing them.

The quality of our education system has deteriorated far below that which it once was, mostly because parents, for some inexplicable reason, demand their children be relieved from responsibility rather than assisting them in embracing it. Consequently, when they take my course, as college juniors and seniors ostensibly in their major, they rarely possess the intellectual capability and the personal responsibility to succeed. And the only thing they learned is to blame someone else for their failures - starting with me.

For A Friend

Tonight, we were supposed to have a guest come in, who was to stay here for almost a week. At about 5:45 this morning, she text messaged me to see if I was up (of course, I was). She sadly had to cancel her trip here. She is Serach's best friend, and basically will be living by our house about twice a month next year for Shabbosos. She just sent out an e-mail, and I'm taking the liberty to post some of it here:
I know many of us get many emails asking that we say a perek of tehillim for a choleh, and unfortunately I'm in a situation to write one.

My grandmother was just admitted to a hospital last night, and she is in critical condition. The doctors are saying that they are not sure that she will make it through the night. Thank G-d, my family was able to fly to California to spend some time with her, and the only thing we can really do is daven by her bedside.

I want to thank all those that have called to see how you can help, and the truth is that right now the best comfort my family can get is knowing that there are those davening for her recovery. If you can, please take two minutes to say a perek of tehillim for Mazal Tov Bat Aziza.

Thank you so much for all your tefillos - may Hashem bless her with a full recovery.
At the same time, it's worth having in mind Gilad ben Aviva and Eliyahu ben Miriam.

Thank you.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A State of Hope

The disconnect in priorities is alive and well in Israel. Someone e-mailed me today:
Just FYI:
I was watching Mabat - the main news program in Israel (channel one or two - don't know as I watch it on the net), and they were in middle of a live interview with the Northern Command Commander (General udi adam) - the program cut out in middle of his words, as they had to get an update on the Mondial.

Why, oh why do I have to be right in these things.

This country is so screwed up it sickens me.
Oy. Meanwhile, I teared up reading this poem, which I discovered while looking for a prayer for the previous post. It's by a teenage girl named Eva from Kenmore, NY. It's amazing:
A state of hope for many

A religious paradise

For those who believe,

A place where peace causes war

In a never-ending battle for commonwealth.

It's a site

Where the sweet melodious songs of birds

Chirp of freedom,

And everyday on the battlefront

A piercing sound of bullet is heard

As it whistles a different tune.

The air smells like innocence

Filled with warmth and sunshine,

While in the battlefield the horrid fetor of gun powder

Never ceases to exist.

It's a place where a tan little boy tells his mother

That he can't wait to grow up,

As his older brother dies a gruesome death

In a stranger's hands.

And sounds of tourists are heard

As they come to experience the magic

Of the cerulean dead sea,

As a soldier get emerged in the bleeding sea of death.

And the Western Wall

Stands a spiritual climax for all Jewish people,

While somewhere on the field

A soldier says last prayer facing to West,

As a bullet pierces his homebound heart.

Israel

A merger of two worlds

Happiness and despair

A perfect place

Which like many others did before me

I would die to protect.
Amen.

A Few Worthwhile Moments for A Few Worthwhile Causes

IsraellyCool and others are reporting that another Israeli seems to have been kidnapped, this one in the West Bank. It is worthwhile to take a few moments out to do as Olah Chadasha suggested and post a short prayer (as she did) on your blog for your readers to read, no matter their religion or faith (or lack thereof). After spending the better part of an hour searching for a prayer that was fitting, I came back to the one we often say in dire situations. Upon reading it again, I was reminded of just why it is the one we often say:

Psalms Chapter 121

א שִׁיר, לַמַּעֲלוֹת:
אֶשָּׂא עֵינַי, אֶל-הֶהָרִים-- מֵאַיִן, יָבֹא עֶזְרִי.
1 A Song of Ascents. {N}
I will lift up mine eyes unto the mountains: from whence shall my help come?
ב עֶזְרִי, מֵעִם יְהוָה-- עֹשֵׂה, שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ. 2 My help cometh from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
ג אַל-יִתֵּן לַמּוֹט רַגְלֶךָ; אַל-יָנוּם, שֹׁמְרֶךָ. 3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved; He that keepeth thee will not slumber.
ד הִנֵּה לֹא-יָנוּם, וְלֹא יִישָׁן-- שׁוֹמֵר, יִשְׂרָאֵל. 4 Behold, He that keepeth Israel doth neither slumber nor sleep.
ה יְהוָה שֹׁמְרֶךָ; יְהוָה צִלְּךָ, עַל-יַד יְמִינֶךָ. 5 The LORD is thy keeper; the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
ו יוֹמָם, הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ לֹא-יַכֶּכָּה; וְיָרֵחַ בַּלָּיְלָה. 6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
ז יְהוָה, יִשְׁמָרְךָ מִכָּל-רָע: יִשְׁמֹר, אֶת-נַפְשֶׁךָ. 7 The LORD shall keep thee from all evil; He shall keep thy soul.
ח יְהוָה, יִשְׁמָר-צֵאתְךָ וּבוֹאֶךָ-- מֵעַתָּה, וְעַד-עוֹלָם. 8 The LORD shall guard thy going out and thy coming in, from this time forth and for ever. {P}
Please pray for Gilad ben Aviva (Shalit) and Eliyahu Ashri.

Meanwhile, Mis-Nagid has an incredible post up at DovBear's about (tzedakah) charity. Excerpt:
It was towards the end of our shift, late at night. My father and I carried the boxes to the door, rang the doorbell, and shuffled the weight around in our arms while waiting for an answer. We heard scuffling and the door was yanked open. In the doorway was a very tired-looking middle-aged woman with eyes that said "Hurry." But before she had a chance to even greet us, the night's stillness was pierced by a shocking shriek. Her daughter, a girl of maybe fourteen, was screaming at her mother with ferocity to behold, yelling at her for taking the food from tzedakah. The daughter was embarrassed and furious and screamed and screamed right in her mother's face. "I DON'T WANT IT! WE DON'T NEED IT! WE'RE NOT TAKING TZEDAKAH!"
Please read it.

After those, here is something a bit lighter, courtesy of my mother. A man posted a 1-minute video clip of the Comcast man who fell asleep while on hold for an hour with Comcast at the customer's house. It's hilarious (and sad). It made me think of Dell. Here's the article, and here's the video.

I'm sure there was something else I'd wanted to post, but I'm drawing a blank for now. Back to work!

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 6/27: Uh-oh

I may be in trouble for spilling the beans about the Super Top-Secret J-Blogger Meeting, but that's okay. Most of the threats I'm getting are that someone's going to "out" me, anyway.

I can't link to all the good posts about the kidnapped Gilad (ben Aviva) Shalit, but most people are rightfully linking to Jameel's. May he be returned safely and in good health in the very near future. For one more, Treppenwitz speaks as the father of a Gilad.

EDIT: Must-listen to Davey Pray by David Linn's brother. Wow.

Meryl has an amazing post, comparing statements of Kofi Annan. It's so transparent it makes me want to vomit (or sock Kofi Annan).

Sarah Shapiro writes the other side of a story. Wow, do I feel bad, even though I couldn't have known better.

EoZ has some Joo humor. Excerpt:
"For some reason, they've decided to leave me out of the worldwide Jewish conspiracy," said Nussbaum, a 34-year-old computer programmer. "And I can't say it doesn't hurt."
Chana has great video of the old Mentos & Diet Coke show. 90 seconds of hilarity. :)

Fudge is bored, now that she's been away. I remember when this happened after my first year of dorming at high school - life has changed forever. It's pretty rough over those summers, but the rest of the change is definitely worth it.

WestBankMama makes fun of Kvetchy Bloggers. Hehe. (Even if this may be related to something from this blog.) Excerpt:
Tired of writing meaningful posts? Spending too much time researching facts? Annoyed at the need for introspection, the careful choice of words, the self-discipline to not generalize about others? Depressed about how all of this effort garners you just a handful of regular readers, and a few tepid comments?

I have the perfect answer for you - secret, undercover agents have sold me the "Cliff Notes" from everyone's favorite, the ever popular Kvetchy Blogger.
Yitzchak notes the flipped terms in the Times. Crazy.

Scottage notes that Reporters Without Borders has taken up the cause of a blogger. I'm not always a fan of RWB, but kudos to them on this one.

SoccerDad has Military Monday #5 - wow. These soldiers are really something.

All right, that's it for tonight. Or this morning. Or whatever this is.

The Secret J-Blogger Meetings

As readers of both DovBear's blog and my own are aware, we've both invited others to guest post on our blogs this week. Before I discuss the intriguing timing of this, it is interesting to note the similarities and differences between our respective guest posters.

DovBear's usual #2, so to speak, is his liberal Cousin Oliver. My #2 is my somewhat conservative sister-in-law, SIL. DovBear added a kofer (Mis-Nagid), who deserves Post of the Day status for this post; I added a friend (MordyS) who used to be called one. He added a mystical man (Akiva) who is part of 4 blogs; I added a very grounded young lady (Pobody's Nerfect) who is part of none. He added an already-working, married with a kid liberal lawyer who loves sports (Noyam) while I added a desperate-for-a-job, about-to-be-married conservative medical student wanna-be (FrumDoc) who hates sports. Finally, he added a token normal, clear-thinking conservative to be a bit different from the rest (Nephtuli), while I added a crazed nutjob who lives in a compound and goes on strange nighttime trips (Jameel).

The obvious question is... why? Where did we go? Is it just happenstance that two of the more prolific J-bloggers - often on opposing ends of the spectrum of opinion - suddenly hand the keys to their blogs to a group of strangers? While I was tempted to answer yes, I feel compelled to spill the beans to all of you, so here it is:

This week is the annual Super Top-Secret Big J-Blogger Meeting in *********, ******. Normally, we'd all bring our latops and blog from the meeting so as not to arouse suspicion, but alas - Serach wants the computer, and DovBear actually blogs only from work because his wife is a staunch conservative and can't know he has a blog. She thinks he's visiting the godol hador, not the Godol Hador. Ha!

So many of you are probably wondering why Jameel is guest-blogging for me, if he's probably really busy at the meeting and all. Well, the truth is... he wasn't invited. Yeah, you heard me right. We just weren't comfortable having him do what he did last year, which was walking over to everyone's laptops, turning them, and typing "Whatever is being said at the Super Top-Secret J-blogger Meeting, my blog faces Jameel's computer." It just gets annoying after a while, ya know? Things got so bad that though they've since patched things up, RenReb even called him a "cockyhead", and David got so annoyed, he almost overreacted - but thankfully, he kept his gun holstered and baked cheesecake instead.

I can't reveal who else will be there - after all, it is a Super Top-Secret Meeting, and if you're wondering why I didn't list you, of course it's to protect your identity - but I will note with sadness those who won't be there this year. One Psycho is throwing a huge rock concert (as if that were somehow a big deal - hmph!), while another sadly has a tragedy to deal with. We'll miss them both. Also, Orthomom sadly couldn't afford the trip after buying a stroller for her youngest.

Okay - looks like its time for the next presentation by GH - "Why stay Orthodox?!!?" I'm sure this will be markedly different from last year's "Who's right: Gil or Mis-Nagid?!" and bring in never before discussed ideas and approaches that don't go on ad nauseum. Of course.

MordyS: Are Jews That Different?

This past Friday, Ezzie invited me to join his blog. After sitting on the sidelines for however long, I finally decided to get up off the bench and take a crack at this blogging thing for real. So I’d like to begin first by thanking Ezzie for letting me join his blog, and I hope my words illuminate people in the way they’re intended, without offending anyone. And if I do offend anyone, sucks for you. But seriously, please let me know, ‘cuz I’d really feel bad if I was ever so grossly misunderstood. On that note, please let me know what you think of anything I write. I really enjoy criticisms of any kind so LET ME KNOW if you don’t get anything or if you disagree.

Now let’s start this baby off with a bang…

In light of recent posts, and recent eye-opening events in my life, I feel like the rift between all the different Jewish labels is getting bigger by the minute nowadays.

I believe my particular grade school route has caused me to look at different sects of Judiasm a lot more carefully than most Jews. Until 5th grade I attended YSV, which I think everyone in Monsey would agree is a Chareidi yeshiva with a black-hat hashkafa. They had all the anti-TV propaganda (for lack of a better way to put it), and we had to contribute to the gemach when we were little, and in second grade we had lots of recess so the chain smoking rebbi could go out to “talk to the other rebbeim.” Then from 5th to 8th grade, I attended YRC z”l, which was catered toward the MO community. I remember when my parents came to Camp Agudah to tell me that I was switching to a school with girls, and being completely horrified at the fact that they were sending me to "public school" (eventhough I knew YSV was not for me or the way my family lived).

I remained, for those four years, part of the minority in the school that had any chareidi leanings. By 8th grade, I was the only kid in the school wearing a black hat and jacket every day. I then went to Ner Israel in Balt where I was made to feel like a sheigets for pretty much the entire freshman year. I got so depressed by my lack of feeling any accomplishment and friends that by 11th grade I needed to get out of there. Finally my parents let me go to TABC in Teaneck. Yeshiva Lane to Teaneck. Yes, it was quite a change.

Then I went to OJ where I got to chill with Ezzie.

Anyway, back to the point. (There was a point? Yes there was a point!!!!)

I know there are many with similar stories to mine, and many most definitely a lot more interesting. However, I feel as if my exposure to all these different hashkafos has given me the opportunity to take the good and the bad from them all and decide who I want to be as a Jew.

And frankly, I don’t know what kind of Jew I want to be anymore.

I mean, do I want to be a black hat wearing chareidi Jew? I’d rather not be associated with open and unabated bigotry, as I do feel all people are God’s creations. I also feel like the community is just as important, if not more important than the yeshiva and its talmidim even though I feel yeshivas serve a purpose in our communities. I feel kollel is important; however I don’t think it should be the common goal of all of our children. Someone’s gotta be a baal’habos! I feel like there is so much to learn from the outside world and there can be so much gain from powerful tools such as the internet. However, I’m just as big an advocate for tznius and taharus as the next guy. And as much as I believe in tznius, I really don’t think my daughter needs to be wearing that much make-up just because she suddenly graduated from BY and has got to be ready to find a good shidduch. Why was it not ok then for her to go out all done up 24/7, but now it is? So yes, I do value being devoted to learning and keeping halacha to the letter of the law and not trying to constantly make rationalizations for my behavior (even if I it’s still hard to), however I don’t believe in the “chumra of the week” mentality and I don’t believe in doing without knowing why I’m doing. And I certainly don’t believe in just doing because that’s the way I was always taught and that’s “just the way it’s done.”

However, do I really want to be a kippa sruga wearing MO Jew? Do I want to put myself in a community with people who don’t know, don’t ask, or just don’t care? I do love the open-mindedness of some and I do certainly enjoy some of the sense of community I get from the larger, non-shteebel like shuls. I also appreciate the larger interest placed on academia and the drive to succeed. However, I don’t see how one can live without any mussar of any kind and with a leadership that seems to be held at the throat by boardmembers and check-writers. So I love the education, but I hate how it sends them to a totally secular university to waste whatever money was spent on a year in Israel. I hate how the girls dress, but I love it how most of them will respond like a human being when addressed by someone of the opposite sex.

Maybe I wanna be Sefardi? I mean, if only we all had the kind of relationship with God that the average sefardi does. I never met an Ashkenazi that uses the term “Hashem Ya’azor” as much as they do. I love the amount of faith these people have, but I hate all the negativity that’s erroneously associated with them.

How about those chassidim? Who could match the kind of chessed and devotion that most of them are known for? However, could I live up to the responsibility of being the most visual representation of the Jewish people?

I mean, there are so many other hashkafos that I’ve left out, because this is really just making me tired. It’s dizzying trying to point out all the different things we all suffer from. Especially when we all really just suffer from the same thing manifested in different forms. And by the way, yeah that thing? It’s galus! But for now, what kind of Jew would you be? What kind of Jew are you? But more importantly, what kind of Jews are WE as a whole?

(Note: MordyS is a chassidish shteibel attending, black hat and jeans wearing, radiohead, jay-z and chaim dovid listening, accounting office dwelling, HUGE fan of R' Shlomo Freifeld, that enjoys all forms of art, live music, and observing Jews just being Jews and has recently taken up being mesameach chosson v'kallah as a new hobby. Oh yeah, and peace among all Jews would be cool too.)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Comment of the Day

RobRoy's over at DovBear, who now put it up as a post. Excerpt:
A parent I know with a son in a "black hat" mesivta told me that one day, the menahel comes into the office, where there's a big mess because, I believe, some of the hanhola had a breakfast meeting, and he bellows "I NEED A GOY TO COME AND CLEAN THIS MESS UP!"

The fact of the matter is that like most yeshivas, this one's maintenance staff was totally comprised of non-Jews --but he did not say "I needs a janitor," or "I need a custodian" or "I need a maintenance man" -- he said "I NEED A GOY".

The obvious implication of his wording being that even though frum Yidden made the big mess, their neshamas are too holy, refined and pure to clean it up, and besides that, it would be "bittul Torah" -- precious time that could be spent teaching or learning Torah, wasted doing such menial chores.
Oy. Read the whole thing.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Pictures, Bios of Today's Fallen & Kidnapped

(Hat tip: IsraellyCool)

YNetNews has the bios in a short article. It gives the rest of us but a glimpse into the lives of those who were murdered. The smiling boy with the glasses is Gilad Shalit (Gilad ben Aviva). He is the soldier who was kidnapped by terrorists in this morning's attack, which claimed the lives of Hanan Barak (pictured in uniform) and Pavel Shlocker.

Gilad is 19 years old. Hanan was killed just shy of his 21st birthday; Pavel was 21 years old.

Hanan Barak:
Hanan’s father Dudi said his son was set to turn 21 in August. “He is larger than life,” Dudi said, still unable to use the past tense when describing his son. “He is a man of principles who knew what he wanted; he had a long plan for the future.

“He is such a young man, with a broad and clear outlook on many issues. Israel lost an amazing officer, and I’m not saying this because I’m his father, but because he gave us 21 amazing years."

Dudi Barak also served in the Armored Corps, as did Hanan’s sister and brother. Hanan wanted to break the mold and bid for the prestigious Air Force cadets course, but did not succeed due to an eye problem “He was no star in school,” Dudi Barak continued, “but from the moment he entered army life a completely different Hanan was revealed – responsible, educating, excelling.” Hanan was the youngest of three siblings.

Tomer Eisner, Hanan’s close friend, told Ynet, “He was an unbelievable fighter; he loved the army and thought of a military career. If there was anything Hanan took seriously in life - it was the army. Already in the 12th grade he knew he wanted to be an officer in the Armored Corps. “He was a man with the biggest heart.”

Hanan met his girlfriend of the past two years, Orit Jino, during basic training. Love blossomed, and Orit relocated from the north to Arad. She said the couple had big plans for the summer: “We promised each other that this would be our summer, that we’d be together and make up for last summer when Hanan was in an officers’ course,” Orit said. “We planned on going to the beach, hug at sunset and move in together.”

Hanan Barak’s funeral will be held at 8 p.m. at the cemetery in Arad.
Pavel Shlocker:
"Pavel planned to go to medical school following his release from the army,” Pavel’s brother, Victor, said. “My brother was big and beautiful, and he loved his army position as a tank driver.”

Pavel’s mother Lidia said she does not understand how terrorists were able to infiltrate the outpost and approach her son’s tank. “How can it be that no one saw nine terrorists approach the tank? They explained it to us, but I am not satisfied. Why must our children die? We must attack with more might so incidents in which soldiers are hurt will not reoccur.”

The principal of Pavel’s former high school, Eliezer Ben-Shitrit, said Pavel was one of only five students who received a full scholarship to study law at Bar-Ilan University. “Pavel is the first, and hopefully the last graduate of the 2004 class whose picture is added to the Leiman School’s remembrance hall,” he said.

Pavel Slocker’s funeral will be held on Monday at 10 a.m. in the Dimona cemetery.
Baruch Dayan Emes... V'Hashem Yinkom Damam.

Pissed Off

I have no way of expressing just how bothered I am not only by the attack this morning which killed 2 Israeli soldiers, injured 6, and resulted in another being kidnapped, but by everything that surrounds it - from the disengagement to the lack of a military response to a weak IDF to Olmert to Peretz to the news media to the sickos who give credence to claims it was retaliation for recent takeouts of terrorists when it was clearly planned for a long time to just about everything. That there are still people - particularly Jewish bloggers - who still give the benefit of the doubt to the Palestinians always and the Israelis never, that blame Israel for attacks against Jews and not the Palestinians, that call out Israel for not having 100% perfect precision when they try their hardest to avoid civilians while never calling out the terrorists for attacking them, disgusts me.

One argument oft-repeated is that we must always look out for the underdog, because they will otherwise be trampled. Well in this case, since every single $%&^ing country and news media organization in the world is looking out for the Palestinians, how about looking out for your brethren who are being murdered for once!? How about acknowledging that a terrorist attack has nothing to do with the targeted killing of a guy from a week ago, when the tunnel used took months to dig? How about NOT equivocating for once, calling it part of a cycle of violence or some other such crap?! How about stating once and for all that these terrorists are sick, sick people who deserve to die, and not any Israeli? A terror attack does not need to kill anyone to be a terror attack. Why the hell don't people realize that!?

I can't continue on this. Read WestBankMama's post. Excerpt:
Believing that the Holocaust was the justification for the State of Israel sets up a sort of macabre installment plan, where Israel is only supported as long as we produce dead Jews.

This fundamental flaw in attitude is shared by too many Jews, both in the Diaspora and in Israel, and it colors how people react to current events such as those of last week.

It causes many, when confronted with the injustice of the one-sided portrayal of the anti-Israel media, to "forget" what is cropped out of the picture. In the case of Sderot, this is the hundreds of kassams that were launched against the civilians in this city. After all, this thinking continues, noone was killed there recently. Without a body, Israel seemingly loses its right to defend itself.
Read the whole thing. Other great posts worth reading...

Trep's rants:

Yet our government can only wag its finger and warn that the next attack... the very next one... will require a strong response. I honestly don't know anymore if I'm reading our press releases or Saeb Erikat's! Oh I know... the main difference is that the Palestinians are actually making good on their promises.

I'm a moderate. I'm a centrist. I'm open minded. I've listened and nodded my head as friends who voted for the current government told me about how things would be different this time. If we would just leave Gaza we would have the freedom to act. If we just give them more confidence building measures and let them elect the government they want we will finally have a partner with whom to negotiate.

F*ck that... and f*ck you if you think I'm going to stay stupid forever!

Joe's lesson:
As far as I am concerned, the lesson of today is that not a single Right winger should be forced to die because of the stupidity of the Left and their leadership.

Since Oslo we have been trying to fight the open stupidity and submission of the Left to Arab terror. Yet we have been denigrated, ignored, beaten, ill-treated by the legal system, deported, and told to be good Victims of Peace.
Argh.

Guest Bios

It's only fair that I give my own short introduction of those who will hopefully be guest-posting in the near future at SerandEz. There are actually a couple others who have said they may post as well, but as they're still not sure I'll hold off on mentioning them. Meanwhile...

Jameel:
Jameel is a crazed RW Israeli-Arab nut-job who is currently holed up at the Muqata... or something like that. But on the phone, he sounds like a nice, normal, American guy. Weird. I didn't even hear shooting in the background. Wherever I am, even running a border without a passport, Jameel is there on my caller ID.
SIL:
SIL is... well, my sister-in-law. Apparently, I'm the only person whose sister-in-law blogs as a sister-in-law, which I guess makes some sense. She loves chocolate when it doesn't affect her migraines, and is both hilarious and inspiring. Her previous posts are in the sidebar, and are worth checking out; I always wish she'd post more because her stuff is so good, but I can't push too much or she might just stop entirely. Meanwhile, if she writes the post she's considering, she is sure to get dozens of comments from cheering women and dozens more from scoffing men. Should be fun. :)
FrumDoc:
FrumDoc is a good friend who is marrying another good friend of ours - only about a year and a half after I told her they should. Geez. Anyways, he's a very deep perfectionist who worries too much about doing things exactly right, but that usually turns out pretty well. He also whittled the tin foil bracelet I proposed to Serach with, but that's for much later in the How I Met Serach series when I get back to it. Meanwhile, his blog has quickly become the story of how he (the Frum Future Doctor (FFD)) and his Frum Future Wife (FFW) met and their dating experiences. They're still up to the second date, so you can catch up pretty easily; he even got FFW to join in the posting, something he has to teach me how to do with Serach!
Pobody's Nerfect:
Ah, PN. Pobody is possibly the guest I look forward to reading the most (though I don't want to set the bar too high). She has the distinction of having been of the few people to truly inspire me, even if she doesn't realize it, when I was otherwise turned off by a lot of things I was around at one point in my life. This, despite being a few years my junior, at a time when I felt (rightfully, I should add) that most people my age or many years my senior I was surrounded by were complete morons, and at a time when she was probably more troubled by issues than I was. She is one of the too-rare thinking frum young women out there, and possibly the only thing holding her back from greatness is her shyness. She is going to kill me for writing all of this, but I had to: Of all the guest posters, I realized I've known her the longest. And oh yeah, she's hilarious when she wants to be, too.
MordyS:
MordyS. Where to begin... Well, the first time I met Mordy, we both thought it would be the last night of our lives. Not bad, right? (That's for another post.) Little did we know that not only would we end up just a 15-second walk from each other's rooms a few months later, but that I would sit directly in front of him whenever we visit my in-laws two years after that meeting. He's already written twice on this blog: Great rants from Monsey that are in the sidebar. He always was a great ranter - blogging should come easily to him.
Prof. Justice:
I usually write: Professor Justice practices Criminal Law in New York, teaches trial advocacy, and is a Professor of Business Law. He also happens to be a good friend of mine, and not just because I somehow pulled an A in his B-Law class; his primary job is extremely important but not one which I'm allowed to share. His previous posts are in the sidebar already, and he actually has already written a number of posts which I will be putting up this week, though I need to reformat them. One is entitled Stupid Student Tricks, discussing his students' requests for grade boosts - and is drop-dead hilarious. Another is a bit more serious, entitled DingDong, regarding just why he celebrated Al-Zarqawi's death. It's really sharp.
I hope you'll enjoy all the guests as much as I'm sure I will.

Whew

I just spent quite a while catching up on most of the blogs I read... woah. There were some very good posts out there, but I'm not even going to try and round any up. If you're really curious, you can e-mail me and I'll give you some links.

Meanwhile, JBlogosphere has announced that AbbaGav has already put up Haveil Havalim #75, so check it out!

On a more somber note, Jack's grandfather passed away. He has written much about him in the past, for those who don't follow Jack's blog... it's worth perusing the archives to check the posts out.

Blogging by me will remain sporadic this week - between my still not feeling well (though better) and a somewhat busy ten days [a few weddings, an engagement party, etc.], I'm hoping that the guests will have time to post this week in my stead.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Ah, the Guests

Well, I'm sort of back. To all those who I owe e-mails to: Sorry, I'm sick. (I guess that's to everyone.)

Sorry about the lack of guest posts in the end. One deleted his post because he didn't like it; another works in a school and couldn't post because they were busy with end of the year stuff; another is addicted to getting in trouble with his wife. ;) Finally, one is in big trouble for not posting (and you know who you are!!).

However, between my being a bit ill and a busy weekend coming up (including yet another wedding), hopefully we will be seeing those guest posts in the near future. I'll probably be posting sporadically for the next week myself.

Sorry for the disjointed post - I'm a little out of it.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Not the Ezzie Daily Roundup.

Well, last I spoke to Ezzie he was crossing the border into Canada without a passport and he needed to get off the phone rather quickly. Woah, I don't want to think about that.

Instead, I'll give you a short roundup.

Post of the day. You may think it's rather presumptuous of me to mention my own posting as the best one of the day, but if Ezzie were blogging, I have a feeling he would agree.

Jameel's Amazing Midnight Visit to Kever Yehoshua bin Nun:

When we reached the Kever of Nun, there were alot more people there than a few hours earlier. Lots of soldiers were coming up say tehillim and daven. These weren't religious soldiers at all...but felt it was important to say some tehillim at this place which was rarely opened to the public. I saw female combat soldiers come over as well, go to the section cordoned off for women, and daven. One female soldier arrived wearing a standard-IDF-uniform-issue (but rarely seen) olive-colored skirt. She went over and quietly swayed back and forth as she poured out her heart in davening.

Give yourself 15 minutes to read it -- maybe even print it out if you like color pictures. Trust me, it's worth it. Read it here.

Shifra's back with her heimish soap opera, the Modern and the Orthodox, (chapter 6).

Orthomom takes issue with HaModia's copy editor. (Do they have one??)

DovBear's true racist colors shine through ;-)

Jack reminds us that today marks the Summer Solstice.

GodolHador is back from his Israel vacation, and gets right back in the saddle with an insightful post, "Why Deistic Orthopraxy is superior to Chareidi Orthodoxy"

Kasamba checks out her kids' diaries.

The Purple Parrot writes about the Wall.

Sorry this is short, but I have to run to a Bat-Mitzva. Hope you enjoyed the mini roundup. Drop me an email if you saw something worthwhile for the next week.

--Jameel

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Please Be Kind to the Guests

Over the next couple of days, I will be in a Chevy Impala (nice and roomy, I must say) for about 20 hours or so. I will therefore have (gasp) [almost] no computer access for two days. Therefore, I've invited a few people to guest post here at SerandEz, and they are...
SIL*
Prof. Justice**
FrumDoc
an old friend I blackmailed
and possibly others...
I hope you'll enjoy - I'm sure I will when I get back. Or kill somebody. :)

* Okay, so she might not be able to. She posts when she's in the mood, which is a somewhat rare event. But when she does, they're great!

** Though he doesn't know it yet. :)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Reality Check

Someone e-mailed me yesterday, "I know that wasn't the point of your email, but if there were more men like [sic] that out there (read: self-aware, sensitive, thinking), we would have much less of a shidduch crisis."

That e-mailer was very right - forget the shidduch crisis, too many guys out there simply aren't self-aware, aren't aware of others, and aren't sensitive to others, period. But it is times like these that I am reminded of just how good many of my friends are. Case in point: I wrote earlier today about my friend who was having open-heart surgery. Thank God, I hear the surgery went well and he is expected to recover fully. Another friend, however, wrote about it from his - much closer - point of view:
His nervous parents by his side, CYE was calm yet anxious. I remember him saying a few months ago that the only thing he is nervous about is the possibility of not being able to thank all of his friends and family and tell them how much he appreciates them and everything they do.

After walking him to the operating room, I ran to grab a pair of scrubs. I slowly entered the operating room and stood silently in the corner collecting my thoughts. As I watched him connected to the various cables and machines, it suddenly hit me how short life is. Though I know he will most likely make a full recovery, I couldn’t help but think how fortunate I am and how often I take that all for granted.
I think this says an incredible amount about both of them. Read the whole thing.

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