Sunday, December 31, 2006
Anyways... Chana is hosting a little party on her blog in honor of her birthday. Since there's no food (hey, they're already fasting in Israel, and it wouldn't be nice), she's having fun with it, so go join the party! Happy 18th birthday, O Wise Chana, and may you continue on your incredible path of growth in all facets of your life. :)
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Have a wonderful motzei Shabbos, all! We're off to the Five Towns to visit friends who live in Queens with the car of a friend from Monsey who is currently in Bermuda. That makes sense, really.
- Saddam is dead, in case you haven't heard by now.
- I finally finished Off the Derech, after totally forgetting about it for two months. I think it's an amazing book that (sadly) we can all appreciate and relate to all too much, and we can all learn an incredible amount from. I can't remember a book where I so often thought, "Wow. That's me." or "Wow. That's my friend." so many times.
- The Cavs need to shape up big time, especially on defense.
- Lebron James just turned 22 today. That's insane. (I'm 23.)
- Chana is turning 18 - that's pretty crazy, too, though she's not worth $200 million.
- Serach and I got married exactly 2-1/2 years ago today!! (Now's a good time to catch up on the How I Met Serach series in the sidebar. The next installment should be going up pretty soon...)
- This Friday and Shabbos were stark reminders of some of the things I love - and hate - about "frum" Judaism. A couple of other contributors here may have more to say on that.
Friday, December 29, 2006
Thursday, December 28, 2006
I cannot understand why members of our community are not willing to report the criminals who are selling drugs to our kids directly to the police. This is, in my opinion, a misplaced application of the concept of mesirah. Ten years ago, I asked our leading gedolim if I should pass along information to the police regarding drug pushers. I got a unanimous psak that drug dealers have the full status of a rodef (one who poses life-threatening danger to others), and that I have not only the right, but also the obligation to do everything in my power to have them arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. In my opinion, there is no substantive difference between a drug pusher and a child molester. Let the system work and let’s finally start protecting our children before there are any more shattered lives and suicides.(On a somewhat related note, I actually touched on this last point here.) Again, please read the whole thing. It's that important.
I think it is a terribly sad statement that an individual who sold non-kosher food in my hometown of Monsey ran for his life the moment the story broke and was not seen since, while a fiend who molested both Jewish and non-Jewish children in Boro Park is living comfortably in Jerusalem while evading extradition. ...
Incredibly, in that case, only the non-Jewish parents pressed charges.
I was away when R' Horowitz announced the beginning of a new program called Bright Beginnings, and couldn't write about it. Harry Maryles already posted about it, so just head there and read R' Horowitz' letter.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
The Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian militants last June is still alive, Egypt's foreign minister said Wednesday during a visit to Jerusalem.The bad news: PM Olmert is now willing to give even further concessions for nothing, this time the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners for... nothing. This guy is brilliant, really. I want to throw up.
On a more pleasant note, there were a number of posts I wished to link to yesterday, but one in particular that I enjoyed was MiI's interview of Orthonomics. It was excellent - check it out.
Kol hamoer davar b'shem amro mevi geulah l'olam - All who say a matter in the name of the one who said it brings redemption to the world. (Megillah 15a - thanks to Ariella and Robert)
In high school and in college, I would often run into a problem with my teachers. They would inform me that my extensive quoting of others was unacceptable, and that I needed to have more original material on my papers. I felt that the authors and writers had already said perfectly that which I would have liked to say, and there was no need to add to it; but the teachers felt I needed to do more of my 'own work'. I slowly learned to cut down on the quantity of material I was citing, and to expound in my own words on the ideas they presented - or even my own. This has manifested itself nicely on this blog, where I often cite a few lines from other bloggers or articles and then give my own take on the issues at hand.
This week was a dark one for the J-blogosphere. A noted anonymous J-blogger, DovBear, was found to have plagiarized a number of articles by another anonymous blogger going by the name DovWeasel. DovWeasel sent an e-mail to 53 e-mail addresses, including some 40 bloggers or so (some names, such as my own, were listed under 2 e-mail accounts). DovBear sent an apology to those bloggers within a few hours. The following is a list of some of the posts and events that took place in the days following, for those who wish to understand the full background:
Plagiarism is terrible and inexcusable. If an onymous blogger such as myself or many others would do such a thing, we would be risking our jobs. A college student would be failed or expelled. My friend was in a class last summer, and related a story to me. In his class, his professor announced that she would allow all those who plagiarized for their paper an opportunity to walk out of the class and drop it, or she would fail them. If I recall correctly, the first week, seven of twenty students were failed. The next week, four students walked out.
- DovWeasel's first post. His blog.
- CWY notes the story, as does Canonist.
- DovBear's first apology, posted by CWY.
- I wrote a purposely vague post on plagiarism when I finally saw what was going on.
- JewishBlogMeister notes DovBear's second apology e-mail.
- DovBear posts his mea culpa.
- Pajamas Media catches the story.
- David Bogner feels that there are some positive reactions, at least.
- Mobius defends DovBear at Jewschool; DovBear sends in a note which is added to the post.
- Still Wonderin' has the funniest post on the subject.
- AirTime says it is 'reader beware'.
- Robert Avrech gives an onymous writer's perspective.
As bloggers, we do not have such stringent standards. Nobody's actions in the J-blogosphere have a terribly far-reaching impact in the real world. Nevertheless, we must have standards. Plagiarism cannot be accepted, it cannot be merely shrugged off. We cannot excuse or minimize deplorable acts of dishonesty that bespeak a lack of integrity. Our standards should be - nay, must be - much, much higher.*
One of the most troubling aspects of this incident were the responses that were seen across the J-blogosphere. Commenters all over, both on DovBear's blog and others, rallied not only to support DovBear but to go a step beyond even the forgiveness he asked for, actually minimizing what had been done and shrugging it off as if nothing had happened. Some went so far as to claim that there was no problem with his actions whatsoever, and attacked DovWeasel for bringing the charges to light in the first place.
These reactions are mind-boggling and saddening. While it is obvious to most reasonable bloggers and readers that plagiarism is terrible, it seems to be less obvious to some that obfusication, hypocrisy, and minimization are horrible as well. This is not something that can merely be shrugged off. This is not something that we just turn the other cheek to and pretend it never happened. As a community, we must both look out for each other and help keep an eye out both on and for one another.
"Forgive and forget", people like to say. We can always forgive, as long as a person is truly remorseful and is sure to never make the same mistake again. But we must never forget. We must always be aware of what we do and what goes on around us, and ensure that some things never happen again. We can forgive. But we cannot ever forget.
* Thanks to all those who helped with the writing of this post, including I'm Ha'aretz, PhD for that line specifically.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
"Play according to the rules... Each player of this game starts with the "6 Weird Things about You". People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says 'you are tagged' in their comments and tell them to read your blog!"I think all of us are a little weird in our own way, so I'm not sure what really constitutes weird, but I'll give it a go anyway:
I think a few people have gotten this, but I'll think of who to tag later. Feel free to tag yourself!
- 1) I do everything far better at night than during the day. I'm really not sure why this is, but I love doing things at night - from work to writing to just about everything. I always studied late at night, or before the sun rose in the morning. I blog best at night. I write my best essays at night. I schmooze with people for hours at night. During the day? Complete spaceout.
- 2) I never get tired... but I don't wake up well. (My mom is going "DUH".) I've stayed up for 40+ hours more times than I can count, functioning as well or better at the end than I did in the beginning. I once stayed up almost 72 straight hours, and only went to sleep because there was nobody left to talk to at that time of night. Yet it takes me forever to get out of bed. [This one was probably related to the first one.]
- 3) I love standardized tests. I'll admit, this one is an ego-booster. Standardized tests usually contain a time element, which means that if you test well (and quickly) you're at a distinct advantage. I used to rock these types of tests, which is good because at some point in the next two years, I have to take a series of four CPA exams, which apparently are the toughest standardized tests of them all. But I'm not all that worried... which also plays a big factor. Unreasonable stress slows down your thinking, unless...
- 4) I love pressure. This is probably part of (3). I always seemed to thrive when the pressure was on - 27 essays in 24 hours, a 50-page thesis in a day, learning a semester's worth of material in a few hours. [Note: Based on the first four things I've given so far, I think busy season shouldn't be too bad. :) ]
- 5) I have an overly vivid imagination. I usually come across as kind of straightforward, but I'm generally overthinking behind that. The big problem is when it comes to medical stuff - I 'see' everything that's happening in my head. This means I do terribly with getting blood drawn, because I break it down in my head, while I get nauseous when people discuss internal medicine.
- 6) I can't not do something with my hands. I have to be holding something, playing with something, or moving them around. It's why blogging is great - almost always, either both hands are on the keyboard or one is on the mouse, the other grabbing food or drink. :)
And much, much more. Meanwhile, I'm catching up on my blog-reading.
- Our trip to Cleveland was great, and we had an awesome time - and took plenty of great pictures, mostly of Elianna.
- I'm shocked and dismayed that there are so many people - particularly bloggers and blog readers - who think that plagiarism on a blog isn't a big deal, and/or think that a simple (and weak) apology means that it is something to forgive and forget. In the specific case I'm referring to, there are factors that make it so many times worse that it is mind-boggling that they do, though I'll grant that many likely don't know some of those factors.
- Check out the World Dreidel Tour! It's hilarious. (Hat tip: Hootie)
- A "weird" meme.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Well check out the video of a spinning expanding table.
It's a pretty amazing design! And much more entertaining than your standard rectangle dining table.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Meanwhile, check out this article (thanks Mom). Excerpt:
Delay. Negotiate. Recommend. Study. Reconsider. Do nothing. This is the game the UN has played in nearly every international crisis. It is the reason North Korea remains a threat after 50 years. And it is the reason why a terrorist nation such as Syria can be given a seat on the UN's Human Rights Council.
The UN is buried under scandals. It has Oil-for-Food scandals. Smuggling scandals. And theft scandals. UN peacekeeping missions - with their record of rob, rape,and pillage - can actually bring fear to the local citizens they are supposed to protect.
Who has the power to oversee and control its actions? The people don't vote on UN actions. The media has little access behind the scenes. Who audits the accounting books? UN supporters admit such problems, and they call for "reform." But to them, reform doesn't mean plugging holes in UN spending or clearing up scandals.
Instead, it means global governance. Since its inception, the UN's advocacy has amounted to a desire to eradicate the sovereignty of nations - while imposing what it calls "world-mindedness." A 1949 UNESCO document said, "...nationalism [is] the major obstacle to the development of world-mindedness." Therein lies the UN's true goal. And that belies its public image of being simply a place where nations may come to air their differences and act responsibly. Instead, the UN works to gain power for itself in order to become independent and supreme over its member nations.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Ehud Olmert has just agreed to "unfreeze" $100 million and "ease travel restrictions" (re: less checkpoints) in the West Bank. The $100 million is money that was specifically frozen when the person he's meeting with (Mahmoud Abbas) had his party voted out in favor of Hamas... but since that hasn't changed, it makes no sense to give the money. Moreover, that same group is still holding Gilad Shalit captive - and Abbas has no control whatsoever over that.
Essentially, Olmert just gave up two of his best chips... with not even a hint of a promise (not that their promises are worth anything anyway, but that's beside the point) in return. What a fool.
Friday, December 22, 2006
If you don't know what I'm talking about, you're probably better off.
Have a wonderful Shabbos Chanuka, everybody!
Please don't hesitate to contact Shoshana, whose idea it was to start Kindness Happens, and join the blog. We'd love as many people as possible contributing their extraordinary and ordinary acts of kindness, whether given or received. For more info, read this post.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
By virtue of the moral compass of our Torah and the nature of our sheltered society, we have a lower percentage of these issues than the general population. Less, but not none. Unfortunately, the nature of this challenge is that less turns to more – exponentially – the longer that we ignore these issues. This is true all the more so in the case of abuse since untreated victims are far more likely to abuse others.There's a lot more on different aspects of the subject. Read the whole thing.
To address your first question of, “How prevalent is abuse in our community?” my response is that it is far more prevalent than we care to accept or believe. I assure you that things will not improve until we gather the energy and courage to change the culture of denial and stop the destructive habit of hoping that problems will self-correct and go away. I am equally certain that if we do not act to eradicate abuse from our community, others will continue to do it for us in very public and embarrassing ways.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
The ones that are bold are the ones that I have done... italics are the ones I sort of have.Whoever wants to feel tagged, feel free. I think most people did this one already.
01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink - Not in a bar per se, but I've paid for everyone many times. Alcohol a couple times, too.
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain - Somewhat afraid of heights, though I hiked a few...
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive - I would only do this in Montana.
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid - Now that would be cool.
06. Held a tarantula - I almost did, but I was like 8. I was (and am) way too scared.
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said "I love you" and meant it - to too many people, but that's okay.
09. Hugged a tree - you never thought I was a tree-hugger, did ya? ;)
10. Bungee jumped - HECK NO. (see "heights")
11. Visited Paris - threw up all over the airport floor on the way to Israel when I was 10. And I'm proud of it!
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea - does it count on a Great Lake?
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise - waaay too many times
14. Seen the Northern Lights - so cool...
15. Gone to a huge sports game - depending on your definition of "huge"
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables - my parents stopped doing this when I was too little...
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars - would love to, though
20. Changed a baby's diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon - I've been interested in doing that, even though I'm not great with heights
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne - who the heck gets drunk on champagne?!
24. Given more than you can afford to charity - Ugh.
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight - though our whipped cream fight in Israel was much more fun
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger - define "stranger" and "asking out"
30. Had a snowball fight - WOOHOO!!
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb - picked up, too?
33. Seen a total eclipse of the moon - looks really funky
34. Ridden a roller coaster - as long as they're not straight drops...
35. Hit a home run - the best one was in Israel, in my first AB of the season (as a pinch-hitter) when they'd never seen me play before. It broke the game wide open.
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking - it took me way too long to do this, too
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk - it's annoying, but you know that they would do it for you, too
42. Had amazing friends - still do
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign - define "sign" :)
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip - not sure if it counts if it's on the way to somewhere...
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach - it's easy, when there's a beach in the backyard of your high school...
50. Gone sky diving - see "bungee jumping"
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them - but hitchiking is much more interesting
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero - who's pretending?
58. Sung karaoke - oooh, terribly
59. Lounged around in bed all day - Ha.
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud - what a dumb question...
64. Played in the rain - even dumber. Don't people play football!?
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest - there was no contest, but I was told I freaked the heck out of everybody... and that the costume was awesome
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an "expert"
83. Got/gave flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survived - thankfully, never come close. But I have been extremely fortunate throughout my life.
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback - this is one of the hardest things in the world...
108. Piloted an airplane - I wish.
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone's heart - I think I did, somewhat. :(
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol - I'd like to learn...
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours - and stayed up for 69. I'm on both sides of this one.
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one "important" author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office - does college count? :)
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair - hydrogen peroxide... plus, it does it naturally
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone's life - sanity or from making a big mistake a few times
But what really makes the world go round is kindness, those little acts that often go unnoticed by all but those involved. Because these small acts don't get published and publicized, people often don't believe they actually happen. So it's time to share! So Ezzie and I have started a new blog - Kindness Happens. It is for posting those small acts of kindness that you do for others, or that others do for you. Hopefully, in having this group effort, people will be able to read about a number of kind acts happening daily and will feel better about life, and then hopefully, in turn, go on to carry out kind acts of their own.
We would love this to be a group effort, so if you would like to join in and help out (or have any great ideas, please send me an e-mail and I'll invite you to join the blog.
A few other good posts out there:
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Chanukah Sameach! Also, thanks to everyone for making this blog what it is - the page views just surpassed 200,000 views today!
- Stacey has sold her house! I'm just waiting to see what Jack has to say.
- XGH has the South Park take on playing with dreidels. Hilarious.
- PsychoToddler and his band performed an incredible Channuka song at Summerfest, and he's posted the video.
- Steg has a fun video on the debate over the spelling of Channukkahh. (Y'all may have noticed I've been spelling it a number of different ways...)
- And Sarah has some fun laughs for everyone. :)
For years, the Cavs had an owner named Gordon Gund, who would not watch the games, but only listen to them through Tait. Gund was blind - yet Tait's announcing was so incredible, he was able to perfectly imagine everything that was happening in his head. Tait has never been the type to just say, "And Pippen dribbles... Jordan shoots... good!" With Tait, you always know what's happening on the floor:
"Price dribbles it up with his right hand into the frontcourt against Armstrong between the circles into the right-wing. Daugherty posting up against Perdue. Price passes it over Armstrong into Hot Rod on the right side near the baseline, working against Pippen. Hot Rod stops, backs in a couple of steps, and passes cross-court over Daugherty to Ehlo just inside the three-point line on the left side. Shot clock at 11. Ehlo works on Jordan, dribbling facing the basket, now dumps it into Nance at the edge of the paint who spins past Grant to the baseline, Perdue comes over to help, shot clock at 4, Nance throws it out of the double-team to Price at the top of the arc, shot clock at 2, Mark Price for threeeeeeee.... GOT IT! Mark. Price. for THREE! And the Cavs lead...!"Ah... the memories. Have a good night, evvverybody!
UPDATE: My brother also notes... For true fans, the most important aspect of Tait is that he is the most accurate announcer of the game, even in terms of excitement. He doesn't embellish games to make them sound exciting when they're not, he doesn't make up anything or make something sound more amazing than it was. He announces the game. Period. He's insightful, he knows the game, and he brings out aspects of the game you might not notice, even as he's announcing (or more often, during timeouts or right before or after a break). Plus, he's an incredibly nice guy, is a regular guy who can and does make mistakes, is pleasant to listen to (even SIL who hates basketball by now likes listening to him!), and is willing to send regards from a young kid at a game in Milwaukee back to his folks in Cleveland. :)
I'm putting up a nice amount of links here, but most of them are really quick reads or pictures, so take the time to check them all out. It's worth your while. :)
Tonight is the 5th night of Chanukah, which also means it is the 93rd birthday of my wonderfully sweet grandmother, Hilda Goldish. Happy Birthday, Grandma!!
- Me-Ander has the 13th Kosher Cooking Carnival up. Don't burn the latkes.
- BagelBlogger & Balaboosteh discuss their daughter Amber's successful heart surgery. Mazel Tov and Refuah Shleimah!
- Our J-photoblogging friend from Down Under, Sarah, has pics from her trip to the West and an amazing shot of her menorah from tonight.
- Dave has a great shot almost from within the Kotel, of the Kotel. Cool.
- Treppenwitz has some Bogner pics along with a great post for the 5th night.
- KollelMama gets 'stuck'. I hate when this happens.
- Life-of-Rubin has pics of a menorah... made of ice. Cool... literally.
- Babylon notes a dangerous set of oil - make sure you do not have these!! They are extremely dangerous!
- BeyondBT learns from everywhere. Simply a great post.
- Chana is trying to be good. So much to say...! Read this post.
- Shira reprints a poem.
- I'm Ha'aretz's turtle goes from death to birth.
- Irina channels me and tells the story of her menorah. What's yours?!
Well, lest anyone believes the illusion that putting the libs in power will placate the cave-dwelling flamethrowers thereby making us safer, the terror tormentor eliminated any such fantasy by following through on his campaign victory promise to “not rest from our jihad until we are under the olive trees of Rumieh [referring to Jerusalem] and we have blown up the filthiest house - which is called the White House.” And as a show of good faith, he claimed to have twelve-thousand fighters under his command who “have vowed to die for Allah’s sake.” The following day we learned that four other Islamoanimal organizations are threatening more even destruction in addition to al Qaeda’s post-election threats.
Presidential Press Secretary Tony Snow had no response, but National Security Advisor Steven Hadley indicated some of those “fighters” were believed to already be in the United States. He noted however, that since having been compelled to terminate the Terrorist Surveillance (wiretap) Program, its unknown how they were able to gain entry. Hadley stated that according to multiple intelligence sources, they will be virtually impossible to track since the Democrats have provided with fraudulent voter registration cards and employed many of them as grassroots campaigners. It’s a good thing too because most Americans won’t do those jobs. Hadley then assured Americans that there was little, if any, risk of danger from these “freedom-fighters” because statistically, illegal aliens rarely commit any crimes - except for the one they commit to get here. Besides, Pelosi and Georgie (her new presidential powder-puff) will soon be granting them amnesty. Okay, I made up all the Hadley stuff.
Don’t look now (and I’m sure the libs and their media minions won’t) but the violence in Iraq has escalated through the roof since the election. Maybe it’s my imagination, but it would certainly appear that the “cut-and-run” Dem success has emboldened our enemy. I’ll bet that, along with their virulent condemnation of the terrorist surveillance program, will do wonders for our national security. You can’t really fault them though. After all, they are committed to opposing the President’s radical agenda to deny foreign-born jihadists Constitutional protections.
Folks, do you comprehend the gravity of what we have just done? We have just placed a party in control of Congress that has demonstrated an extraordinary lack of seriousness about the Iraq war and, more problematically, Islamoterror. It troubles me that political and media armchair quarterbacks, both Dems and Reps, opine that we are incompetently prosecuting the war in Iraq based on the limited and skewed knowledge they obtain from the biased media. Of course, it doesn’t help that the elitist liberal media establishment refuses to acknowledge any positive measures that occur. The same day Abu Hamama was spewing verbal diarrhea, al-Reuters quietly reported that Iraq’s army announced it had captured the Egyptian leader of an al-Qaeda cell in Anbar province, an insurgent stronghold.
It troubles me that many people rejoiced in the scapegoating of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld as if it will miraculously solve everything. It scares me that Americans don’t have the stomach for a protracted war. For some inexplicable reason, we expected the Iraq effort to proceed flawlessly and in warp speed or else it’s a quagmire and can’t be won. From the very beginning, Cape Cod orca Ted Kennedy stood on the Senate floor and proclaimed to the world, “This is George Bush’s Viet Nam. The fact is that it is a difficult war and we will sustain casualties. Even though our military is unmatched, no war can be fight without casualties. Even more so against a ruthless, psychopathic guerrilla enemy for whom there is zero fear of the MAD (mutually assured destruction) principle. Simply put, we will never be immune from homicide bombings for virgins and must therefore never relent in attempting to “do” them before they “do” us. And please, spare me the nonsense that we’re creating more terrorists. First of all, we’re not. Those nutjobs have a rich history of terror promoted by that so-called “religion of peace” which long predates the birth of the West. Second, even if we have exacerbated the problem, is the answer to just cower away licking our wounds? Don’t you appeasers get it by now? Don’t you realize that if we weren’t fighting them in Iraq, we’d be fighting in places like Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Indonesia and other third-world countries? The problem is not that we won’t go away. The problem is that they won’t go away.
Ultimately, the angry left’s victory may be cathartic. Since the 2000 election, they have been in the same unhealthy emotional state that the Reps were since Clinton’s impeachment. Having to then suffer a bunch of election losses drove them into a frenzy resulting in their obsession that they were stolen. After all, the elections had to be stolen because in their elitist arrogant view, anyone with half a brain would have obviously voted for them. In other words, we’re stupid. But in 2006, Americans suddenly became smart. Miraculously, there were no claims of Republicans suppressing blacks from voting. You know that if George Allen, Conrad Burns or J.D. Hayworth had won by the same slim margin they lost by, there would have been no graceful concessions. There would certainly have been swift litigation, fabricated stories of challenging or intimidating properly registered voters by racist Republicans, voting machines breaking down in Hispanic neighborhoods, and forcing long poll lines in black neighborhoods so voters are discouraged from waiting.
Certainly, the Dems’ sweep cannot all be blamed on all on the lefty-biased media (although their slanted reporting undoubtedly contributed to it) or Republican complacency. Obviously, corruption was a huge issue and, like it or not, the Republicans were in control and fell under the microscope. Moreover, the Dems clearly ran better candidates than in previous elections. But the lefty media is definitely part of the problem, especially when it comes to the threats posed by Islamofacist terrorists. Sure, drooling over Pelosi becoming the first female speaker was somewhat nauseating, particularly when they gave very little attention to Rice becoming the first African-American female Secretary of State. And Rice, of course, wasn’t the first African-American to hold that post because Bush the racist had previously appointed Colin Powell to that position. Since 1994, the media and pundits have repeatedly asked the question, “What do the Dems have to do to get their power back?” Since the election, they’ve been asking, “What do the Dems have to do to retain it?” But they’re fair, balanced and objective.
What we know about the Dems is that aside from their gloating arrogance, which rivals an athlete engaging in a childish display after winning his last game of a winless season by gyrating and thrusting his pointer finger in the air, they’re disingenuous, morally bankrupt and ethically challenged. And, in addition to their tax-and-spend policies and open-borders immigration policy, they have a cut-and-run policy on Iraq. Well they don’t call it that. They claim it’s a “new direction,” They use labels like “redeployment” and “timetable for withdrawal” to explain it. If the old direction was forward, albeit slowly, what exactly is the “new direction?” Reverse? Hey Dumbos: when they say that they will not rest from their jihad until they have blown up the White House, they don’t give a damn who occupies it - Bush or Clinton, Republican or Democrat, conservative or Liberal!
Sure, they won. But they’ve accomplished nothing. For our sake and the sake of our country, I hope they do.
Monday, December 18, 2006
With a bag, I would vacumm till it gets full or almost full, take out the bag and toss it. With the filter vacuums, its a whole shpeal. If I want the filter itself to remain somewhat clean, then I have to empty out the storage cup (with the dust) each time. And when you do, dust always seems to rise up after hitting the trash and sometimes, it even falls to the floor. Then I have to go and shake off the dust that has accumitlated on the filter. And not only that, the instruction manual recommends that you can even rinse the filter in some warm water, but you have to let it dry before using it again. Lets not forget about the cost. An extra filter costs $15.00 each. Bags on the other hand, are about $5.00 for, IIRC, 4 bags. And I am assuming you have to change filters about the same amount of time you would change a bag.
So I ask you, what have I saved? Nothing. I haven't saved money with the filters nor time with the clean up. How does this sort of technology get past the consumer and ends up dominating the market? Why re-invent the wheel. And whats even more nutts, is the people that shell out $500 on a dyson. Those things are huge and heavy.
Am I wrong here? What do you guys prefer?
EXTENDED TO DECEMBER 18th. Thanks to the very generous donations a number of you have given - they are incredibly appreciated. Tizku L'mitzvot.
In memory of Lucy Haller, z"l.
Lucy Haller passed away last week. She was a member of the firm I work for, and the company has opened up a collection for her family in her honor. This is the letter a manager in the firm wrote yesterday*:
As some of you may have already heard, Lucy Haller passed away last Thursday, November 30th, after a courageous battle with cancer. She was only 37 years young and was the mother of two children, 6 and 8 years old. She was a tax manager in the Financial Services group who started with us [redacted] back in August of 2005. In her time with us, we grew to love and appreciate her as a person and as someone who could make us laugh at the drop of a hat. She never really let on as to what she was going through nor all of the hardships that she had gone through in the past.If anyone is interested in contributing to this very worthy and necessary cause, please contact me via e-mail. The office has said that the money can come from anywhere for them to match it, which is exceedingly generous of them, as is taking up the collection in the first place. All contributions must be in by December 18th, so please contact me as soon as possible if you are willing and able to give, whatever the amount. Thank you very much.
Some of you may be wondering what the point of this e-mail is. Well, in one sense, it's to tell you all about a special and wonderful person who is sadly not with us anymore. The more important reason is to ask for your help. We would like to take up a collection for her family to help them through this very difficult time. As I stated earlier, she left behind two beautiful young children and a husband who is now faced with an emotional and financial struggle to raise two children without there mother.
Therefore, whatever you would like to contribute would be greatly appreciated. We would like to have all collections in to me by December 13th. Also, please note that our office here in New York has agreed to match whatever we collect. Therefore, please give what you can and only if you can. The gift is what matters and not the dollar amount.
* I have taken out information that identifies the firm.
This is the story of a boy. Let's call him Judah. Judah is 12 years old. He was removed from his home when he was three. Since then, he has lived in five or six homes, I’ve lost track. He lived with us for a couple of years. For the past three years, Judah has lived in institutional residences to treat certain psychiatric and emotional issues.(more)
Judah is very sweet and loving. He can converse with you about the deepest topics, conversations you wouldn’t expect from most 12 year old boys. He is very smart but he has some learning disabilities. He reads a lot but has trouble making change. He can’t sit still for long periods of time. He has psychiatric and emotional issues that are being treated.
Judah loves to watch and play sports. He likes to wear sports jerseys. He loves to go to ballgames. When he was six, I took him out to ride his bike. He insisted that I take off the training wheels. Against my better judgment, I did. He started riding by himself the very first time I let go of his bike. (He couldn’t stop but that’s another story). Today, I took him ice skating for his first time ever. Same thing. He never so much as touched the rails.
I never once saw him cry when he got hurt. If he walked into a wall he’d just grimace and keep going. He’s the toughest kid I’ve ever met.
Judah's devotion to Hashem (G-d) is inspiring. Despite the many trials and disappointments in his short life, he has never taken it out against the Master of the Universe. He keeps kosher and wears his kippah in an environment where, not only is he the only Orthodox kid, he is the only Jewish kid. Sometimes the other kids in the residence get non-kosher goodies, but he passes, without complaint. He benches (grace after meals) and says Asher Yatzar ( aprayer said after using the bathroom). He is fervently Shomer Shabbos (Sabbath observant) and even makes his own havdalah (a prayer said at the conclusion of Sabbath). He learns with volunteers at every opportunity but his Hebrew reading needs work. I don’t know where he gets the strength to maintain his Jewish identity in such an uninviting environment. I am humbled.
His inner strength is equally inspiring. He has always adjusted to the many changes and challenges that he’s faced. He remains an optimist despite everything.
Judah loves to be hugged. It wasn’t always that way, but it is now. When he first came to us, many years ago, after spending a year at another foster home, he was very remote and reluctant to let his guard down. Getting a hug out of him then was out of the question. (Can you blame him?) Now when Judah visits us, he makes sure to give me and MHW big hugs both when he comes and when he leaves.
He loves all the kids in our family. Our kids love him back and consider him part of the family. He will always be a part of our family. (Our son OOS insisted that Judah walk down the isle at his wedding even though Judah hadn’t been living with us for a while.)
It is difficult to adequately describe the tremendous impact that Judah has had on our lives and in the lives of all those who have gotten to know him. He has connected to us, inspired us, and made us laugh and cry. Our lives and the lives of our children have been immeasurably enhanced by our having cared for him.
His relationship with the baby we are fostering is even more remarkable. In some kind of mystical way that I can’t explain rationally, Judah and the baby seem to have connected in a very deep way. She follows him around during his visits as if he were the Pied Piper. I know that makes him feel special.
Now, it is time for Judah to find a home. He is doing very well and the residence wants to place him in a home. They feel that not only is he ready for a home, he needs to be placed in a home.
All we have to do is find him one.
He needs parents who have infinite patience. Who can lavish him with attention and love. Who are structured and firm. He needs a family that will take him in as one of their own.
I am not so naïve as to believe that finding him a pre-adoptive home will be simple. Judah is not simple. On the contrary, he is a complicated, smart, insightful, sweet, sensitive, affectionate 12 year old boy. And, like any other 12 year old Jewish boy, all he wants is a home of his own. A family of his own. A place to come back to after school, day after day. A place to get hugged.
If you or anyone you know in the Metropolitan area might consider becoming Judah's pre-adoptive foster family, please contact me at emansouth @ aol.com or Shulamit Marcus at OHEL at 718 851 6300. The transition process from the residence will take a number of months. OHEL will assist in each phase of this transition. Sara and I would be happy to discuss this situation in detail with any prospective foster families.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Elianna loves staring at the bright candles!
We had one party last night at my in-laws, which was also a combined siyum in memory of Serach's grandfather Dr. Abraham Luchins, who passed away one year ago today. A few more small parties over the rest of the week...!
- Irina has an incredible essay on Chanukah. Read it.
- Kasamba writes about Chanukkah in a way only she can...
- Steg points out that our Hhanuka is actually the fourth one. Huh? He explains...
- And finally, Scraps finds that there are some really nice people - even in New York! Maybe people are being nice for the holiday season? ;) Regardless, it's great to hear. What a nice story.
Chanuka Sameach!! :)
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Friday, December 15, 2006
Chanukah Sameach, however you spell it! I'll put up more as I get them over the week.
- PsychoToddler wrote a new song - it's great, check it out.
- Ayelet posts one of everyone's favorites from last year... it's The Latkes!!!
- Robbie has some nice pics of Hanukah in Israel...
- JBM has a list of safety guidelines - read them, know them.
- DaBoys have one of the other faves from last year... the choir. :)
- Sephardi Lady has some... Sephardi stuff!
- LOR has a few good links: Chanuka swing music, a Hannukah rap (very entertaining), and the music store dreidel song.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
It's cool that they filmed the video in the school, though since the school made the band, I guess it makes sense. Seems like the kids enjoyed, too. Anyways, when you see them davening in a huge auditorium with long table-shtenders, that room also doubles as the Young Israel of Cleveland Heights on Shabbos. We sat (and my father still does) in that front row, in the middle section, right behind the amud. This way my father can tell the chazzan to hurry up and stuff. :)
Anyways, there are some really great pieces out there today in the J-blogosphere. Today seems to have been "show off my writing skills" day... Here they are:
And now to the top five:
- 10) This Cross-Currents piece is the same article I was referring to earlier.
- 9) Ariella gave her take; and so did DaBoys a while back, they remind us (or one, anyway).
- 8) Akiva bites the bullet and takes the embarrassment to teach his kids. This is something we can all learn from.
- 7) Kasamba discusses smoking... as only she can. Just laugh and smile.
- 6) Chana discusses Fight Club, breaking the first rule of Fight Club. But it's worth it.
Enjoy your reading! Tomorrow I'll probably put up some entertainment for Chanukah, unless I spread it out over the week.
- 5) Pearl gets published - and it's not hard to see why. Read her article, then find this wonderful children's book (and buy it for Elianna! :::coughcough::: ;) ).
- 4) Harry Maryles nails it on the head. Since when has this been the case?And this is the mindset: Harav Elyashiv is the POSEK ACHRON WITHOUT QUESTION!
We have a pope!
- 3) Krum on the Agudah and its constituents:The big question is, in light of the Kolko scandal, will the Charedi world continue to satsfied with this approach, at least in this one case. This was essentially what R' M. Saloman's tried to convey at the Aguda convention -- the Gedolim obviously know about the issue, they are taking care of it, don't worry. But will this be enough? It's one thing to trust the Gedolim when it comes to bugs in the water, the evils of the internet or the kashrus of a local supermarket, but will Charedi parents be willing to rely on emunas chachamim and daas torah when it comes to the safety of their own children when the system so obviously failed?
- 2) Shoshana on education:You can't protect against every possible outcome and situation. The spectrum is way too broad. But by forging an open, trusting relationship (and this applies to the whole world, not just the religious one) with your children, your students and for spiritual leaders, your congregations, they will in turn come back and ask for guidance and help when facing difficult situations, rather than hiding and getting in deeper. You can't shield anyone from everything, and I think education where challenges are discussed and defenses are built, is the key.
- 1) Chana writes an amazing story. Want to read, but don't have a book to curl up with? Try The Bloody Rose.
There are many, many blogs discussing the article about shidduchim (matchmaking, for lack of a better definition) in this week's Mishpacha magazine. There is much to say on so much of what is being discussed, but I just want to focus on one aspect for now: The rush to get married.
The article does a nice job of presenting why there is a problem, though I think they missed a few other causes. The solutions mentioned, though, are seriously lacking. The one that bothers me the most is the 'boys getting married younger, to decrease the age gap and therefore the total discrepancy between the sexes'. It bothers me most because it's so short-sighted. Forget that it means more people who aren't ready to be getting married would be - it creates and exacerbates so many of the other serious problems in the Orthodox Jewish world it's absolute stupidity. It's like someone said:
"Hey, let's deepen the economic crisis! Let's make it even less likely that people who don't stay in learning will be able to get a college education! Let's create more young parents increasingly reliant on the support of their parents [not just financially] to the point that the next generation will be completely screwed! Let's have even more young parents on the low-end of the economic scale trying to support even larger (more years = more kids) schools that are already bankrupt!"How about focusing on the much more logical explanation which has the reverse effect: Stop pressuring girls into getting married so young, and feeling "old" at even the age of 21-22. It could seriously help in so many different areas:
- Just-out-of-seminary girls who are still on an unrealistic "high" in how they view life, marriage, and Judaism won't rush into marriages that turn out to be very different than their perceptions. Or marriages that are decidely unhappy when they feel that this isn't really the life they wanted.
- The ratio of girls to guys would increase, making it much closer to even. With the decrease in panic over the "shidduch crisis", guys won't be unrealistic, they won't reject girls before getting a chance to know them because there's "other fish in the sea", and girls won't feel as 'desperate' or that they have to be a certain way if they want to "have a chance of getting married".
- Economically, everyone is better off. The girls will be much further along in their education, and therefore much more able to work and support or help support their families. There won't be a drain on parents from young couples who are unable to support themselves. There won't be a massive accumulation of debt, as instead of getting married before spending a few years not earning money while getting an education, people will be getting married after they are at least much closer to if not finished with their education.
- With less young children to very young parents, schools won't be drained by extra costs, and the tuition breaks for those who need it will likely drop dramatically.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
So I say this to El Al: Come to some sort of agreement. If not for me personally, then for your own financial benefit. Cause if Charedim stop flying El Al, I can assure you that I am stopping as well, and so are millions of others.
Last night, I hosted the season finale of my radio show. As usual, I discussed some current events in the Jewish world. [...]I wrote my own response in the comments section there, but I feel like there may be better ones out there. Obviously, we all tend to focus on the negative aspects of stories. We're not all negative people, though. For many of us, blogging is also an outlet, so we may tend to pour more frustration into it. However, I feel that our focus is not negative - it is because we care, because these issues matter to us, because they so often do or are able to affect us in some way, that we speak out about them.
And so, there I was discussing these issues, when someone sent the show an instant message. She asked why we couldn't discuss something good in the Jewish world, why must we only talk about these terrible topics? Why must we discuss rapists and chilulei HaShem and foolish statements and stupid actions?
And the best I could do was tell a pretty pathetic d'var Torah on this week's parsha.
Seriously. What have we become? Why is it that I am giving a radio about Jewish current events, and everything I have to say is nagative? Where are the good things in Judaism? Can somebody please, please, share with me a story about someone who did something that presents Jews in a good light?
So where are the good stories? I think they're out there, and perhaps we need to find them. But I think that perhaps what I said there could be true as well:
Sure.That's my take. What's yours?
We care. We care that these are the stories that are out there, we care that these things are going on, and we all want to know what the heck we're supposed to do about them. We want to know what causes them, we want to know what allows them to keep happening, and we want to fix them - not just for the short-term, but for the long-term.
That's your positive story. We just haven't finished it, yet.
NOTE: You may want to comment on his post.
Suddenly I think I see something out of the corner of my eye. There's someone standing just outside the door, leaning his head as if he's trying to give me a signal. I quickly glance at the two men holding me captive - they're not paying attention. I nod slowly to the man, who seems to be hinting I should lean my body to one side. Huh? Okay, I guess I'll try it...It's 'continue the story' day at Shifra again, it seems. Scroll up to AirTime's intro, read down, make sure you're caught up, and then take your turn! It's a lot of fun, as the story just keeps changing...
Also, JewishBlogMeister has his latest interview up - this one, with RafiG of LifeinIsrael.
Have a wonderful night/morning, unless you're in Australia. Then you're just upside down.
- I'm Haaretz, Ph.D. is back! :)
- Sephardi Lady writes to R' Yakov Horowitz about abuse, asking what parents can do.
- XGH has an interesting survey.
- Balaboosteh (and Bagel Blogger) and family are headed to their young daughter Amber's surgery. Refuah Shleimah.
- Jonathan Rosenblum has an excellent post at Cross-Currents on the (now confirmed) bus incident and charedi ideals about separation. Excerpt:I keep coming back to the same sociological insight: The more insular we are—the more cut off from any Jews not exactly like ourselves—the less we are to think of Torah in terms of hora’a, teaching, and ask ourselves how our actions comport with the teachings of the Torah and what impression our actions are making on those who will judge the Torah by our behavior.Amen.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
A few good posts out there today, since I'm (gasp) actually doing some work today...
For those in Israel, Yosef uses his expertise to break down the phone and internet options.Check them out.
Since I was just discussing a similar subject with a friend last night, it's worth mentioning Shoshana's interesting post about bipolar order and depression among college students and how they cope.
Ezer K'Negdo's husband, the rabbi, gets surprised looks when he's holding his beer listening to Hendrix. She thinks people need to take another look.
Life-of-Rubin feels people are judging the Seattle airport's Christmas-tree-yanking-incident that was caused by a Chabad rabbi without knowing the whole story. So he has the whole story.
Orthomom approaches the story from a completely different point of view - very thought-provoking. Her point applies no matter what the story was. Excerpt:But is all this watering down of Orthodoxy a good thing? The fact that an Orthodox Rabbi is willing to stand before a Seattle court and argue that a utensil that I consider an eminently religious one is actually completely secular - does that make for a proud day in our religion's history? Is it outweighed by the debatable benefit of having a 6-foot high menorah displayed next to a Christmas tree display?UPDATED: Finally! I found the Jak Black piece on the story that he sent me last night, which actually covers a whole host of other issues. It's excellent.
No, I don't think it is.
And LkwdGuy has yet another take on it - also very good. This is what I like about the J-blogosphere - a whole host of different opinions, each with a different approach.