Thursday, August 30, 2007

Old & New

I found this pair of posts from Jameel & DAG to be fascinating. DAG notes an article that was in the news today that's sure to make things interesting:
Remains of the Jewish second temple may have been found during work to lay pipes at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in east Jerusalem, Israeli television reported Thursday.
Israeli television broadcast footage of a mechanical digger at the site which Israeli archaeologists visited on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Jameel has a picture of an IDF soldier modeling some new hi-tech equipment:
No, he's not from StarTrek, he's an Israeli IDF soldier using top of the line equipment from ITL Optronics -- advanced infantry electro-optic systems, thermal imaging, navigation, orientations and battle management systems, as well as with laser-aiming devices and sights. (YNET)
Cool and cool.

Aliyah's Savings

via SoccerDad, this is pretty nice:

Our friends and neighbors just made Aliyah.

Here's what Andrea writes.

Grand total for tuition for all three girls including transportation............................$3428.25. This is considered an excellent school with lots of choices of "majors" to choose including film making, graphic design, eretz yisroel (where they tour and do tiyulim all over the country and learn about the Land) and physics just to name a few.

COME HOME NOW!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 8/29: Back

I miss doing these. When I was catching up on all the blogs I read over the last couple of days, skimming some, reading others, I was reminded of what I really enjoy about blogging. There are so many good writers, so many good discussions... when you read every day you sometimes take it for granted or get a bit too used to it; taking a step back was nice. I probably should have kept track of the posts I really liked and linked them (a few people noted as much), but my thinking was 'oh, these are "old" posts'. Of course, most really aren't time-sensitive, but I digress...

A few that I just enjoyed:
  • R' Ally discusses Crazy Is Normal in response to a student's question regarding a girl he's dating.
  • Wolf mentions an article about older singles in this week's Jewish Press and takes on the stupidity of some of them.
  • DryBones has a great comic, but more importantly sharp post about the soldier who was almost killed yesterday when he accidentally drove into Jenin.
  • IsraellyCool notes the astounding hypocrisy of the ISM regarding the incident.
  • Our(formerlyAir)Time makes me want to fly ElAl when we next go to Israel. Sweet.
  • Finally, R' Gil gives his impressions on the first editions of the YU Commentator and Observer, then takes on one editorial suggesting a change in the Yeshiva's learning curricula.
Enjoy! Personally, I read a few pieces in both of the YU publications and enjoyed most the article I discussed earlier [see below] along with a few others; and I agree with Gil on having a Rebbe the first couple of years of undergrad [which may surprise some who know me]. I do think that a course in Tanach might be beneficial to many, though, and I don't know that people could gain as much learning it on their own as Gil suggests.

Where are your horns?

(Hat tip: PsychoToddler)

That's a question I was asked quite a few times growing up in Cleveland, and was reminded of by Perel Skier when reading her excellent piece in the YU Observer a couple of nights ago:
I assumed that at some time or other it happened to everyone.

I live in a decent but unremarkably sized city in the Midwest, where the winters are cold and the cow-to-person ratio runs high. Our Jewish community, in the heart of a crime-addled neighborhood, grows a little each year; we built a new day school building recently, and the high school I graduated from has at long last moved out of the dentist's basement. But it's still the kind of place where a yarmulke will earn you a double-take from anyone: from the gentiles, who likely have no idea what it is, and from the Jews, who are thrilled but shocked to find someone else like them among the homogenous expanses of middle-class America.

This is where I come from, and there are few of us there who haven't learned what it means to 'live in the real world,' as the argument goes.
Read the whole thing. Another excerpt that was a nice reminder:
Many of the heated debates which saturate The Observer and The Commentator have their legitimacy, but coming from the Midwest, coming from fistfuls of Jews scattered across the globe—and you will meet someone from every corner here—many of these arguments also feel surprisingly petty and near-sighted. Does YU offer the advanced sciences you could get at Harvard? Is the learning as intense as it was in Jerusalem with the rabbi of your choice? These questions are but footnotes and asterisks.
While she's using this in the context of being a student at Yeshiva University, I think it's something that's true in general in large cities with large frum populations. We often get caught up in stupid inanities that really don't - or at least shouldn't - matter. I think that's part of what frustrates us "out-of-towners" so much about New York City: We see what people care about and focus on, and think "Are you KIDDING me?! Who cares!? Why is that important?" Meanwhile, the longer we're here, the more we get caught up in some of it ourselves, which is saddening. On the other hand, while we're used to explaining ourselves, Judaism, our practices, and the like all the time to strangers who ask, Jews from larger cities don't understand why they're constantly being asked questioned as to why the products in stores (clothes, food, whatever) aren't 'good enough' for them. More importantly, they don't see why they should have to waste their time dealing with such things that take away from whatever else they want to accomplish.

I can't say whether this is a good thing or bad thing - it's more like a statement of "this is how it is", so which lifestyle would you prefer. Would it be nice to not have to explain what I'm doing riding the Metro in Cleveland? Sure. But there's something to be said for constant reminders to be a "light unto the nations", too.

What does the Holy Hyrax do all day?


From today's Yediot Achronot: Who is shooting at Israeli's legs in Los Angeles?

Makes you wonder.

Every time I call the Holy Hyrax, his usual lame excuse for not talking is he's "busy" "watching" the Twighlight Zone. OK, I can understand if he doesn't want to talk to me on the phone because he's going to a foam party, or if he needs to download movies, but the Twighlight Zone excuse?

Could he be part of the Israeli mafia mentioned...behind the LA area shootings?



Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Has Facebook Killed Blogging?

Many bloggers have become addicted to Facebook these days. The site offers a visible network of friends, "walls" to post on, free gifts and drinks members can send each other, and even games such as Scrabble and Sudoku to play with your friends. It's quickly becoming one of the most popular sites on the Internet, with tons (that's my non-technical term meaning I'm too lazy to find out the actual number) of people signing up every day. Members can re-connect with old friends, forgotten classmates, co-workers and those friends that they actually see every day. It's the best.

However, since it has become so popular, several bloggers have expressed a growing lack of enthusiasm for their blogs. Could this be due to Facebook? Could wall postings have taken the place of blog postings? Have Facebook groups substituted for group blogs? And has the fact that we can now interact one-on-one, albeit still anonymously if desired, taken away the desire to write thoughtful posts on the topics of the day? Are there other contributing factors?

What do you think?

Ezzie's Pool Year XI

Despite some glitches with CBS that are still being worked out, I will once again be hosting my annual NFL pools. The pool works on a "1-16" system, which essentially means picking the winner of every game each week and weighting them from most to least confident (16 on the one you're most confident, say Colts over Texans, while putting 1 on the least confident, like a Steelers' upset victory in Cleveland ;) ). There are winners each week and at the end of the season.

To avoid incurring the losses I did the past couple of years, the costs are the following: $100 for the season if the money is received before the season starts on September 6th; $125 if it's postmarked by September 10th. $150 if sent after that date, or $10 each week if a person does not wish to be in for the entire season.

If there's enough interest, I will also run a suicide or survivor pool as I did last year ($50/entry).

If you're interested in either, email me at serandez at gmail.com.

Occupational therapy

Posted by Soccer Dad

Interesting caption here:
Journalists working and living in and around the Israeli occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem ...
Bethlehem hasn't been "occupied" since 1995. Someone's living in the past.

Or perhaps it makes them feel better to pin something on Israel because those journalists are protesting a new law
Hamas said on Monday it planned to enforce a 12-year-old Palestinian press law designed to silence dissident journalists, amid a crackdown that has raised fierce protests from the local media.
I guess it wouldn't do to simply publish news critical of Hamas without getting in a dig at Israel.

Related thoughts here.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Showtime

Our friend Esty sent me this wonderful piece from the Jewish Press by Jennifer Clay which she felt (and I agree) was quite on the money. Her (and my) favorites lines:
We live in a never-ending movie of acting and being judged or questioned. If we show our true selves, the critics jump on us. You cry and someone wonders why – why are you breaking the steady stream of happiness with despair? You yell and someone asks what the matter is. You exhale deeply and someone demands an explanation: Why are you sighing? What’s wrong?

So we train ourselves, like any good performers, to hide our feelings.
And it’s not just feelings – it’s appearances too. We can’t ever look correct to everyone. Yet we try to. Why?
So we live on stage, obeying other’s commands – sometimes opposite from the ones made before. And we smile and laugh to avoid questions, soon forgetting who we really are and what we really feel, finally convincing ourselves we like ourselves until someone comes along and tells us that we shouldn’t. So up and down and around and around we go.
Up. Down. Round and round. Until one day it just breaks; it doesn’t go in circles and it doesn’t bounce. That’s when the show ends. The ride is over. The critics hush. And you’ve lived your whole life obeying them.
And the sad part is, it’s never going to change.

Never.
My only qualm might be the ending, but she's right: It never will. Not on a societal level... certainly not in the world we live in. It's up to us as individuals to be ourselves - not because someone told us to be ourselves, or because it's at the top of someone's blog, but because we want to be. Not just to be contrary to the critics or the establishment, or it's a never-ending cycle of being "different". It's just being ourselves, period.

Just. Being. Ourselves.

Ezzie in his office

...is at all-day training... all week long. Ugh. Expect another very slow week here. Perhaps the guests can pick up the slack...? (COUGHCOUGHCOUGH)

Also, if anyone wants to submit a good post, they are more than welcome to via e-mail (this blog's name at gmail.com).

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Elianna in her office

"Get me 50,000 shares of NYX, sell off some of the Apple stock, and get as many Euronext and AT&T options as you can."

Friday, August 24, 2007

Wired

(Hat tips: Mom) Oh man, do I know this feeling...
“Do you mind,” one in-law asked, as I rounded up bedding and fretted over having enough milk in the fridge to fill 12 cereal bowls in the morning, “if I just pop onto the computer and check my e-mail?”

“Oh, yeah,” remarked another. “Maybe I could just track my son’s flight from D.C.”

“Ooh, perhaps you could print something out for me ...”

That was my first inkling of how the vastly expanded electronic and informational needs of houseguests would flavor our time together. Soon guests were positioning themselves to get dibs on one of the three computers in our Long Island house the way they would otherwise line up to jump in the shower.

By the next morning, “I wonder if you could do me a favor?” was a question I fielded every few minutes as I tried to peck away at work in my home office before everyone in the house had awakened.
Of course, I'm usually on the other end of this. :) There's also an interesting article about the battle over a Hebrew charter school in Florida.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sorry

Too busy to blog. Sure to return in a flurry sometime in the near future.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I May Be A Nerd, But At Least I'm Lazy

I just got excited that I (finally!) created a successful formula on Excel after spending about 15 hours on it... which will help me cut out many, many more hours of work in the long run. Ahhh...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Quote of the Day

I'm one of those "change my GChat status on occasion" people, and earlier today noted that I need a vacation. Later, I saw a bunch of statii (it's a word, ask Stam) noting that people were 'getting ready to fly back for school' 'sitting in the library all day' 'celebrating their birthday and first day of med school' - etc. So I changed my status to the following:
I may hate work, but seeing that everyone else is going back to school sure makes me happy that at least I'm done with that...!
A couple of minutes later, AlanLaz sent me the following from the library:
F you
Nice. :)

Talent

People often ask what my favorite types of music are, who my favorite performers are, TV shows... etc. While I do have some favorites, my general answer is always the same: Talent. I like really talented people; I enjoy watching them perform. Some people enjoy the first few episodes of shows like American Idol; I enjoy the last few, when the really good singers are around. The same has applied to America's Got Talent (and Britian's Got Talent) - for AGT, I waited until very recently, saw who the last 10 or so were, and went back and watched a number of their performances. AGT had their finale last week, and while Cas Haley was amazing, Butterscotch was very good, and Julienne Irwin okay, I couldn't help but be amazed by Terry Fator. He's a ventriloquist (don't yawn yet) who does impressions (not yet either) of singers. Now think about that for a moment: He has to be an accomplished ventriloquist; an incredible impressionist; a good comedian; and a fantastic singer to pull that off. He is all of the above. It's worthwhile to check out his first few appearances first, but here's his final performance which is so impressive because it's such an incredibly hard song (Rey Orbison - Crying) to sing in addition to the other difficulties. It's followed by 14-year old Julienne Irwin's Somewhere Over the Rainbow, which I thought was gorgeous. Enjoy!

Busy Busy

I'm quite busy these days (and it's not even "busy season" - ugh!), but I was asked to and agreed to guest post elsewhere, and felt that for a number of reasons, it would be a good thing to do. Check out the post I put up over there, and feel free to chime in.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Shidduch Non-Crisis

Shoshana details why she thinks the Shidduch crisis, of which there has been much talk of recently (as always), and pretty much concludes (as I have in the past) that it's an exaggerated crisis of its own making:

...I understand the stress of a woman in her late 30's and older, with her "biological clock" ticking and worrying about whether she will be able to have a child. But for someone in her late 20's, it's not that much of an issue. And to have rude people make comments like, "Aren't you old to not be married" (yes, I have received this one) is ridiculous. I have lots I want to do in my life. One of those things is getting married, but it is not the only thing. And honestly, I am very happy that I was not married at 19 because I like the fact that I have had the opportunity to do things other than just have kids. I want a family, but I want more than that also. And there's nothing wrong with that.

So basically, I think the crisis is in thinking that everyone needs to get married off super young. There are other things in life, and every person should be encouraged to explore his or her interests and passions. A person should not solely be steered by communal pressure dictating what one "should" be doing in life. I think if more people accept that, then they will be able to view those who are single much differently. Let people get married in their own time. Let them lives their own lives. Maybe that would also alleviate the skyrocketing divorce rate. Just a thought.

Read the whole thing.

Bigotry Update

It appears that the stories by Mr. Schwach in The Wave discussed earlier this week were either made up, exaggerated, or interpreted in the worst possible light by Mr. Schwach. Orthomom links and discusses the Jewish Star piece - check it out.

"Secular Temptations Lure Orthodox Youth"

That's the title of today's article in the Times-Record Herald, which discusses the long-growing phenomenon of frum kids in the Catskills drinking, smoking marijuana, and in general doing reckless and dangerous activity.

"Inside the pool hall and spilling out into the street were hundreds of frum (religious) boys and girls hanging out, cavorting, drinking, and snorting drugs," Halpert wrote in a letter that has become the hottest topic on Orthodox Jewish Web sites and blogs.

In a phone interview, Halpert said, "I could clearly see that there was drug paraphernalia changing hands. I've seen a lot of things in my community, but I've never seen anything like this."

Most say the drug use was limited to marijuana.

Boys and girls were making out; girls had taken off long, traditional skirts to reveal shorter ones and most had been drinking alcohol, eyewitnesses said.

"This sort of stuff is unheard of in our society until recently," said Judah Eckstein, founder of the Jewish news Web site Yeshiva World. "It's against Jewish law."

A shoving match broke out between some Jewish elders and bouncers when the elders tried to enter the pool hall's dance club. Monticello police came to the scene around 1:30 a.m., but most of the kids had already been taken away, Halpert said. Police did not charge or arrest anyone. Police Chief Doug Solomon said no evidence of drinking or drug use was found.

I think that one of the most comforting lines in the article is how the "Jewish elders" (gotta love that term, which makes them sound archaic and closed-minded - just see the second comment on the piece) handled the issue:
Jewish community leaders had an emergency meeting with Village of Monticello officials the following week because they were unsure as to how to handle the situation.
This is a far cry from days past when problems were always "handled internally" - this is precisely the type of situation (drugs, heavy underage drinking) that requires the authorities. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

One final note: While the article discusses both the reckless and the religious issues, it seems that they are addressing the two as separate items, even as they address them simultaneously. That's another good and important step, as there is a marked difference between wearing short skirts or kissing a girl and drinking heavily or smoking up. One may be wrong, but the other is dangerous.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sunscreen

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of 97...

Wear sunscreen. If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now. - Intro to Mary Schmich's Chicago Tribune article [lyrics] later put to music by Buz Luhrmann - 1997
I was graduating elementary school when this was written, and it became a hit song while I was at WITS, I believe. I always thought it was excellent, not only for the advice it gave over (Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long, and in the end, it's only with yourself. ... Remember compliments you receive; forget the insults. (if you succeed in doing this, tell me how). ... Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard.), but for how it was presented: Everyone has their own advice, based off of their own personal experiences - it's always good to listen to, but obviously just one person's viewpoint. It's good to take a little bit from everyone and figure out what suits your own situation best. (And obviously, this can be applied in so many aspects of life.)

I was reminded of this by R' Yakov Horowitz's article this week, which learns a slightly different lesson from... well, sunblock:

Imagine that you work in a pharmacy during the summer months. All day long, day after day, people hobble into your store suffering from the effects of painful sunburn injuries. Well, you are a compassionate person, so you dutifully guide them to the section of the drugstore where they can purchase the various sprays, creams and lotions that treat sunburn pain. One would imagine that after a while you would be quite motivated to direct all customers to purchase a tube of sun block and a hat. After all, for a tiny investment of time and money, one could prevent sunburn rather than treat it – and avoid many days of horrible anguish. ...

But even a cursory analysis of the teens at risk scene begs the question: "Why aren't we spending more time, effort, and resources on prevention rather than intervention?"
It's a great piece, as is his other one this week on possible suggestions from his own point of view. Take a few minutes to read them both; and be sure to wish him a hearty mazel tov on the birth of a grandchild. Finally, don't end up like a co-worker of mine: Wear some sunscreen.

Cheering in the Newsroom

James Taranto points out an interesting story from Seattle, which discusses the reaction of one editor to the cheering in the newsroom when Karl Rove's resignation was announced. In short, the editor decried that reporters would show such personal opinions on politics in the newsroom. I thought that a few of the comments were quite well put, and interestingly similar to the comments I heard a few months back from ABC's political director when he was asked about "creating balance" in the newsroom:
If we wore our politics on our sleeves in here, I have no doubt that in this and in most other mainstream newsrooms in America, the majority of those sleeves would be of the same color: blue. Survey after survey over the years have demonstrated that most of the people who go into this business tend to vote Democratic, at least in national elections. That is not particularly surprising, given how people make career decisions and that social service and activism is a primary driver for many journalists.

But if we allowed our news meetings to evolve into a liberal latte klatch, I have no doubt that a pathological case of group-think would soon set in. One of the advances of which I’m most proud over the years is our willingness to question and challenge each other as we work to give our readers the most valuable, meaningful journalism we can.

It’s not about "balance," which is a false construct. It isn't even about "objectivity," which is a laudable but probably unattainable goal. It is about independent thinking and sound, facts-based journalism -- the difference between what we do and the myopic screed that is passed off as "advocacy" journalism these days.
While one can take issue with his roundabout claims that liberals are more interested in social service, his last paragraph there is probably the most important for news editors to remember in the workplace. It seems that one of the biggest problems with the media today is their obsession with creating that "objective" "balance", which is anything but - it becomes less about reporting the news and more about creating some sort of 'equal' standing with every viewpoint... thereby making issues out to be larger (or smaller) than they ought to be. We need more editors to watch their papers and make sure that they're reporting the news, not the editorialized version of it.

Jewish Economics - Building Credit

Young couples tend to put both of themselves as the applicants on different aspects of credit, say, credit cards. (One as the applicant, the other as "listed on the account".) This can be great if they know they will be building good credit - each positive action will help both of their credit scores. However, many young couples will be struggling, particularly in those first few years, and their credit - while it may not be getting hurt badly - will not be improving all that much. Each negative action will doubly impact both spouses, hurting both of their credit scores, and then make later moves hard for either to do when they're at the stage where they are finally digging out of that hole... slowing down the recovery process.

Planning and budgeting are obviously important in general, but it may be wise to plan even further: For couples who know that they'll be picking up debt at first (say one is in graduate school or not earning income), it may [with many qualifications] make sense to focus on what larger actions they will be doing when - buying a house, getting a car, etc. Once they know what those plans are, they can focus their budget on keeping the credit of one spouse high at the sacrifice of the other when choosing which bills to pay off. In the long run, this may allow them to get that house or car at a much better rate, which will help establish even *better* credit, and allow them to then fix the other spouse's credit faster as well.

(UPDATE: In case unclear from above: Therefore, particularly for couples who know they will be picking up debt, it may make far more sense to only list one spouse on each credit card or other credit and not both.)

As always, every situation is different, so please contact a trusted financial adviser before making any major decisions - not the random musings of a blog. Thanks.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tipping Points?

Krum has a very good post utilizing a comment I made a couple of days ago, analyzing whether the Schwach editorial or perhaps Noah Feldman's article created a tipping point for anti-Orthodox discussion in the media. He argues that today's emphasis on political correctness would counterbalance such commentary, which I understand but feel I disagree with somewhat. (See the comments there.) Excerpt:
I have heard others suggest that Feldman's article was actually the tipping point. Frankly, I am not concerned about a "tipping point" resulting in a public outpouring of pent up anti-Orthodox vitriol. And the reason is simple: political correctness. Political correctness has become so entrenched in mainstream American culture that any sort of criticism of minorities finds little sympathy among media and politicians. PC serves as a bulwark against this become a true tipping point.

Kosher Vending Machines?

(Hat tip: Michael) This is really interesting:
WHERE else but New York could two guys who grew up together find a way to blend kosher food, cutting-edge cooking technology and hip-hop?

Earlier this month, the nation’s first glatt kosher vending machine that can shoot out a hot knish was installed at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. The machine also crisps up kosher mozzarella sticks, cheese pizza and onion rings. And in a few weeks, freshly grilled hot dogs in warm buns will be for sale there, too. Not from the same machine, of course. That wouldn’t be kosher.

The vending machines are called Hot Nosh 24/6. “To make it a little Jewish sounding we called it nosh, and we added the 24/6 to give a little cuteness to it,” said Doron Fetman, who with his partner, Alan Cohnen, created Kosher Vending Industries.

As Michael noted to me, we don't know what kind of hechsher it will have, but it's certainly interesting.

UPDATED: Reb Abe returns (!!) and informs us that it is under the Chof-K. Thanks!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Gift of Life Bone Marrow Testing

Gift of Life Australia is giving you the opportunity to be able to save a life. The aim of Gift of Life is to encourage more people in our community to understand the issue and register as potential donors to save lives. Please read the flyer, call and make an appointment to attend on Sunday or whenever you are able to. Even if you are elsewhere around the world, contact the branches in your city to arrange to be tested and to find out more information.

A Moral Dilemma

I've been alternatively too busy or too lazy to blog lately, but a recent e-mail has me thinking. If someone would tell you right now that we could in the next 5 years:
  • Remove Ahmadenijad from power in Iran;
  • Establish a democratic government in its place;
  • Have over 2/3 of the country participating in national elections;
  • Have a somewhat unstable, but growing economy that allowed for a much better lifestyle than currently exists;
  • Perhaps bring down gas prices somewhat;
  • Reduce the risk of terror attacks within the United States;
  • Overall reduction in [other] worldwide terror, but increase in terror in Iran;
  • Dramatically hurt Palestinian terrorist groups, particularly in terms of funding;
  • and perhaps more...
but it would cost the lives of about 3,000 US soldiers and $500 billion, would you still do it? Would you need all of those factors, or would only some be enough?

A Very Raggedy Mom

Our wonderfully kind friends and neighbors, Raggedy Mom & Dad, have to come up with an original name for Ann & Andy's new baby brother... Mazel Tov!!!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bigotry

Imagine if you read this paragraph in your local paper:
To my mind, that is not being a good neighbor. In Dearborn, the Shia community is taking over, buying property and converting many of the large homes into mosques.
Or this:
To my mind, that is not being a good neighbor. In Atlanta, the African-American community is taking over, buying property and converting many of the large homes into Southern Baptist churches.
That would likely get the reporter fired, would it not? Well, here's the real version:
To my mind, that is not being a good neighbor. In Bayswater, the Satmar community is taking over, buying property and converting many of the large homes into synagogues.
Orthomom fisks the entire piece, top to bottom; a commenter basically made the same comments as above. It's a great piece of work by OM, dissecting and discarding every point in the piece.

Port-a-Potty Prank

My co-worker was watching this a few minutes ago, after getting it via e-mail, and it was hilarious; about 5 minutes later, I get the same video via e-mail from halfway across the world, so I guess this one is making its rounds, but deservingly so. Enjoy!!

Lihyos B'Simcha

Mitzvah Gedolah Lihyos B'Simcha Tamid - It is a great mitzvah to be joyful constantly.
That's pretty much the best way to sum up the two people whose wedding I attended yesterday; may they always remain full of such happiness and joy. Mazel Tov!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

HH 129 is up!

And who doesn't love when Jack hosts?
Haveil Havalim is the carnival of Jewish blogs -- a weekly collection of Jewish & Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It’s hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by Soccer Dad. The term “Haveil Havalim”, which means "Vanity of Vanities", is from Kohelet, Ecclesiastes, which was written by King Solomon. Solomon built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and later on got all bogged down in materialism and other “excesses” and realized that it was nothing but “hevel”, or in English, “vanities.”

Baruch Dayan Emes

I've been asked to let the J-blogosphere know some very sad news. Unfortunately, Sarah's mother, Gittel Chava bas Pessia, who had been in critical condition, passed away over Shabbos. Baruch Dayan Emes. May Sarah and her family be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sarah and her family.

Hamakom Yenachem Eschem B'Soch She'ar Avalei Tzion V'Yerushalayim

Friday, August 10, 2007

A Conservative Jew's Reaction

Ezzie: Shira Salamone of On The Fringe asked if I could post this guest post from the standpoint of someone who is a strong Conservative Jew, so here's her reaction to the previous post.

Pirkei Avot, chapter 2, paragraph 1: "Rabbi (Yehuda HaNasi) said . . . 'Be as scrupulous in performing a "minor" mitzvah as in a "major" mitzvah, for you do not know the reward given for the respective mitzvot.'"

Some segments of the Orthodox community seem to have the same attitude toward sin, not differentiating between minor infractions of halachah (Jewish religious law) and serious, even life-altering, violations thereof. ADDeRabbi has complained about this both in the past and more recently, and has strongly recommended that a "hierarchy of violations" be recognized, acknowledging the fact that some sins are, in fact, much worse than others.

Here's the heart of his post on the misbehavior in Monticello:
"I’m not sure if I should laugh or cry at the equation between immodest dress and drug use. I have been taught that in order to be a good Jew, one must first be a good human being. Being Jewish does not absolve one from being a mensch. All of the behaviors discussed are symptomatic of the ‘at-risk’ youth. And I ask: at risk of what? Becoming Modern Orthodox? Intermarrying? Dying of a drug overdose? Contracting STDs? I think that a hierarchy of ‘risks’ must be catalogued, and fast, lest mountains be turned into molehills and vice versa (like in the old ‘it leads to mixed dancing’ joke)."
As I commented there, "I have a serious problem with the automatic assumption, in some segments of the Orthodox community, that there's no such thing as innocent, wholesome activities that involve both males and females in the same place at the same time. Seriously, how intimate can one get with a bowling ball in hand or a mouth full of pizza?"

I read somewhere (given my lack of a decent Jewish education, it was probably on a blog) that the rabbis have said, "If you forbid that which is permitted, people will do that which is forbidden." See here for proof, should you happen to need any.

The Hillel (standing-on-one-foot) version: If you forbid everything, then people will do anything, on the assumption that, as long as they already have the (bad) name, they might as well play the "game" (do that of which they've been accused anyway). If you're going to call me a whore or a womanizer just for talking to a person of the opposite sex in a pizza parlor, I might just as well have sex. After all, what difference does it make in your eyes, anyway?

Bottom line: If males and females have no opportunities to be together under reputable circumstances, they'll seek disreputable ones.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Catskills Part 3: Kosher Entertainment?

I will be one of the first people to agree that there is a problem in the Catskills. I've been there. I was there 10 years ago when there were signs all over "banning" Woodbourne. I spent two summers working there after high school, and I have witnessed the 'activities' at the bowling alleys, pizza shops, etc. (I'm sorry i can't vouch for the "horrors" at the clubs and pool halls). Even Wal-Mart is quite the scene!

Please tell me how this helps
"...efforts are being made by askonim and organizations under the direct guidance of Hagoan Rav Dovid Feinstein Shlita to provide safe-kosher-and enjoyable entertainment for our kids on Motzei Shabbos in the Catskills. These events provide alternatives to the horrors of the streets. Sponsors are needed as these costs rise and if anyone is interested in becoming a sponsor contact Ourjewishkids@gmail.com." -YW.com
Hey all you "at risk" teens, come watch the Jewish clown make balloon animals!! How about a nice all male puppet show?? I'm sure that's much more entertaining than your Motzei Shabbos plans. Yes, maybe their point is that the younger kids should be exposed to kosher entertainment, but that doesn't solve the current issue.

"Note: Entertainment has been scheduled for this Motzei Shabbos, but due to the request of the Askonim and Gedolim - the location cannot be mentioned here." -YW.com

Oh okay, so meanwhile I think i'll go shoot some pool in a suspiciously smoky back room somewhere.... just until you let me know where this enthralling party is being held.

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 8/9: Judaism & Jews

There are lots of great posts over the last few days, and a great chunk of them deal with being Jewish, how to approach Judaism, aspects of Jewish life... all very well-written and thought out.
10) DAG has this summer's ultimate aveirah (sin). Heh.
9) DaBoys discuss the craziness that is the rich; and finish with a great lesson.
8) Chaim notes that CBS is essentially giving a mouthpiece to anti-semitism by airing the comments of a contestant on one of their reality shows; it's a strong post and good point.
7) Sephardi Lady decries the old "let's throw money at it" approach to problems, now being applied to shidduchim. I'd add that bad, misguided, and unclear approaches stink too.
6) Jameel looks at a home he has visited - destroyed by his own country.
5) Harry says what many others have been saying, and wonders how this will affect things in the future: Now that people are so publicly ignoring bans en masse (thanks RebelWithACause), what happens next?
4) Chana the Curious Jew has a pair of posts asking How do you want to be remembered? (noting R' Neil's post discussing the same more fully), and discussing Sacrifice & Anonymity. A very intriguing question that I'm not sure some people will feel comfortable thinking about.
3) Steve Brizel at BeyondBT writes in his typical abbreviated fashion about Getting Beyond Doubts, and thinks that we need to get back to basics a little bit.
2) R' Gil points to Dennis Prager's column on 10 reasons to practice as a Jew; while they are all very well thought out, I found #8 particularly interesting.
1) Stam's Thoughts from Seat 7D will stir your heart.
Important: Please daven for Sarah's mum.
Enjoy, think!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Thoughts from Seat 7D

I was originally hesitant to post this up here for a few reasons, including the fact that I felt it was much more applicable when it was written last summer, during the war between Israel and Lebanon, when Israelis were being evacuated from their homes and risking daily missiles. But then i rethought things. Nothing has changed. So today families in Sederot are living under constant attack. We don't hear about them anymore because "there have been no casualties". Chasdei Hashem! The Mishpacha this past Shabbos had a very informative article on the situation in Sederot, "Forgotten on the Front" by Rachel Ginsberg. Nothing has changed. So no one has died, but psychiatric wards are overflowing. The number of cases of post traumatic stress disorder are rising at an abnormal level. Their homes and lives are still being destroyed.

And Chevron. Ir HaAvot! Jews kicking their own people out of their land. Again.

And so, I may not be as poetic or as talented of a writer as Gila Kanal, but maybe my essay will mean something to someone out there. Now even after the storms ("possible tornadoes") in New York, and flooded subways (kosher or not), maybe someone can relate.

Ezzie, you win :-P
--------
July 19, 2006 - Seat 7D


My flight was scheduled for a 8:45 p.m. departure. We only live about 10 minutes from the airport, so around 7:00 my mother and I hopped in the car and we were on our way. Not even 100 feet onto the highway we saw a horrible storm looming ahead. Suddenly sparks shot out from a bridge overhead. It was as if they were part of a belated Fourth of July celebration. I called the airlines to see if the flight was still on time, or if it was even departing tonight at all. The representative told me with a heavy southern drawl that it was delayed until 9:10, but there was a 'gate hold', meaning the inbound flight needed to arrive here first, so the departure time could be later. I asked if it was *at all possible* for the flight to leave any earlier, and after repeating the part about the 'gate hold' enough times to talk himself in a circle, he told me that it would not leave any earlier than 9:10. The drive was getting more terrifying by the moment so we got off the highway and turned around to head home.

On the way home we saw branches twisting in the wind. Fallen trees, branches, swimming pools, and garbage cans were in the middle of the road. As we pulled up to our corner the electricity on our side of the block went out. We started to park in front of the house, under a large tree, and just as my mother said 'maybe we shouldn't park here because the tree might fall...' a rather large branch promptly fell onto our car, leaving a rather large dent. B'H we were ok.

We ran inside the house, dodging the branches that were falling left and right.

We were greeted by our family holding candles and staring out the window at the developing storm. Sometime between leaving the car and getting to the window the electricity across the street had gone off as well.

Suddenly,a huge section of branches from the tree to our right fell onto our neighbor's SUV parked in her driveway, giving the car a shove so far forward we thought it would roll away. Oddly enough, the car alarm didn't turn on. Another huge branch fell off a different tree across the street.

We sat looking out the window captivated by the site and the destruction. All signs pointed to 'tornado' but we had yet to hear the tornado sirens screaming. The airline's phone line was busy, and one of the cell phone providers had gone down. As the tornado sirens started to whine, i finally got through to the airline. They told me the flight was ON TIME, not canceled and not even delayed!

Slowly the sirens died down and the rain started to let up. It was 8:00. As I headed back to the airport, this time with my father in the driver's seat, we were shocked by the destruction. Wet, green leaves and thick, brown branches covered most surfaces. Police cars raced past going in every direction. Lighting bolts were striking surfaces on all sides of the highway.

News reporters on the radio had nothing prepared, so they were taking calls from listeners. A tornado had been spotted south of the metro area. Tractor trailers and RVs had toppled over on the highways. The roof of an airport building flew off and landed on the highway, closing all lanes. Warehouses were on fire.


As we arrived at the terminal, we noticed an eerie silence that only accompanies desolation. There was no one around. We got out of the car (no cops were around to ticket the car) and walked into the powerless terminal. We were greeted by a handful of airport employees telling us the airport had been shut down and everyone had been evacuated to the ground level/basement of the airport.

As I separated from my father and started to head for the stairs I thought about the situation. People at home were being told to go down to their basements for shelter, kids were scared, adults were frantically trying to find news stations that worked, there was no electricity, and airports were shutting down...

If people found this scary, imagine how much more terrifying it is for the people in Israel, being told to leave their homes for bomb shelters, and to evacuate their cities instead of airports. Running for their lives as their entire cities are destroyed, not from trees and branches falling, but from rockets. Instead of missing swimming pools and garbage cans, sons and brothers kidnapped on army duty. Buildings and bodies being brutally blown apart not by wind and tornadoes, but by bombs and missiles. Children whimpering in bomb shelters. Family members desperately trying to reach each other, worrying for each others safety, and their lives.

Instead of reacting like so many of the travelers around me, with frustration and irritability about *our* situation, I thought about, and davened for, the situation of my brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisroel.

----
Separate thought: ever notice how passengers hardly exchange anything more than 'is anyone sitting here?', yet when thrown into insanely late delays, airport evacuations, or other high pressure situations, they suddenly become very friendly and chatty, one group in the same situation.

K'ish echod b'leiv echod.

So too with Klal Yisrael. The ahavas yisrael isn't always evident, and usually takes something like the situation in israel for us to all join together as one.

K'ish echod b'leiv echod.

--------------

Another thought from seat 7D:

Maybe a good explanation for the situation here (i don't mean Eretz Yisrael) is that ppl get too comfortable in golus, and in america. They see what's going on in israel and think, 'baruch Hashem I live in america' and maybe say some tehillim.

But now as they are also evacuated from their homes they realize that it doesn't matter where you are...

1 A.M. - One Week Later

Rabbi Horowitz has followed up last week's interesting, some might say frightening, some might say all too common story with a very good piece this week. He starts by noting the all too connected arrests of a number of older teens who were among the oldest at a party which started on a Shabbos that involved plenty of alcohol, then discusses how many people reacted to last week's piece, which made the Jewish Press. Finally, he discusses lessons and approaches to be learned. Excerpt:
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we should resist the seductive route of merely ‘banning’ places and activities for our growing teen population. It is entirely appropriate to declare certain areas off limits for our children. But if we do not create healthy, safe, and enjoyable venues for our children, we are deluding ourselves into thinking that we have solved the problems and are setting the stage for far greater challenges later on.

Ten years ago, we ‘banned’ Woodbourne, for some very good reasons. There were pronouncements in a variety of Jewish publications forbidding our children from appearing in Woodbourne on Motzoei Shabbos. There was also a concerted effort made by Hatzolah leadership and camp directors to limit the driving of teenagers who spend their summers in camps and bungalow colonies. These initiatives were effective in taming the environment in Woodbourne and reducing the number of horrific car crashes. What we have not done, however, is really address the core causes that are driving so many of our young men and woman to the fringes of our society. Nor have we been creating enough supervised, appropriate venues for our children (including mainstream ones) to spend their free time.

Our disenfranchised kids, some of whom may not be that book smart and academically gifted, figured out the “new math” pretty quickly.

Woodbourne, no. Monticello, yes.
Frum pizza shops, no. Non-Jewish pool halls, yes.
Public areas, no. Motels and apartments in non-Jewish neighborhoods, yes.

Somehow, that doesn’t add up to me.
Amen. Read the whole thing. Serach always liked the example from Monsey growing up, where they banned people from a certain pizza shop on Saturday nights. In the end, that just meant the kids were hanging out in some basement unsupervised, instead of in a public pizza shop - what do you think happened differently? Common sense is paramount, not acting out of fear.

Amazing Video


I thought this video was amazing. Just keep watching till the end.

hattip- Ed.

Kosher Subway in Baltimore

...seems to be well on its way.
SUBWAY® Kosher of Baltimore thanks you for joining our mailing list. Please check back frequently for updates at www.koshersubs.com.

We look forward to constantly improving the SUBWAY® Kosher experience in Baltimore.

Please inform your family and friends of our website www.koshersubs.com, so they too can join our list and stay informed, if they desire.


Thank you again.

THE SUBWAY® KOSHER OF BALTIMORE TEAM
Enjoy, Baltimore. The one in Cleveland is excellent. Advice: Always get the double meat. :)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Waiting For The Curse

I think this e-mail from G sums up how us Cleveland fans live:
Subject: Quinn's In

Message: Over/Under on his first injury is late Friday.
This is how we roll... it's kind of like the voicemail I have from our mutual friend Howie (whom we own Browns' season tickets - 50 yard line! - with), who left me the following after the Indians got eliminated from playoff contention in 2005:
"I just called to say... I told you so."
Yeah. Depressing.

A Simple Jew...ish Music

A Simple Jew and Yossele Kvetch have a very interesting Q&A about music (along with a fantastic clip of Don Ross playing guitar). Excerpt:
Jewish music seemed to be in such a dismal state of golus that I couldn't deal with it any more. Often the only thing "Jewish" about the music that is popular in our communities is the lyrics, which tend to be strings of cliches bonded to mediocre rock and roll. So I gave up. Today, I listen to all kinds of music again (mostly instrumental, b'geder halakhah: no kol ishah, no avodah zara, and nothing that brings to hirhur). I don't say that this is ideal, but it is what works best for me at this time in my life.

Together But Separate

(via Princess D'Tiara) This article in the Wall Street Journal is pretty interesting:
Marriage often requires coping with the loss of some individuality, whether it's adopting a spouse's last name or setting up a joint bank account. Now, some couples say it can be equally tricky to navigate intimacy in the digital sides of their lives. They are running into thorny questions regarding how much to share and how much to keep separate in areas ranging from email addresses to online calendars.
Serach and I had joint e-mail for a while, but found it to be too confusing and extremely troublesome when assuming that the other had or hadn't responded, resulting in some things not getting taken care of while others got taken care of twice - not so good, especially when it comes to bills. At the same time, we still have one old e-mail address that's joint, and if we get e-mails meant for the other one we simply show each other or forward it. Meanwhile, we don't have a problem with each other's old pictures being on the computer.

Serach isn't a music person, but I could see how that could be a serious problem for a lot of people... imagine having to listen to really crappy tween music! :::shudder::: What else should be together, what should be separate?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Criticism

Chaim pointed to this excellent post at TV101 entitled Why I Hate the Haters, which discusses among other things the different types of commenters that exist on blogs. I think that most of the people on this blog generally fall into the first category
(1) The Genuinely Helpful Contributor (estimated 50% of the population) These are the normal every day people that express their opinions sanely and organically. If they disagree with something you say, they usually do so politely.
while I'd guess that the blogs I got sick of the were the ones that had the constant negativity of
The CRITIC (estimated 25% of the population) ...the CRITIC needs to justify his existence in this world by looking and acting intelligent. Since actually being intelligent is hard to do ... the easiest path is to just criticize everything and hope that nobody realizes that the angry internet emperor isn't wearing any clothes.

Negativity masquerades as intelligence because it implies that the speaker of that negativity sees something that the average person doesn't.
I don't think it's limited to commenters; I think a lot of this stems from the tone of the blog itself, though obviously not completely. It's why I think a lot of people enjoy this blog (or at least, I like to think so :) ) and why others are perhaps more "popular" but less "liked". Anyway, in the long run, I'd rather be catering to that rational 50% (which I actually think is higher, closer to 70%) than constantly giving in to the lunatic 5 or constantly critical 25.

It's a really interesting and well-written post, so check it out.

Elsewhere, JBM tells us that if you want your Zomick's meltaway, you'll need to get it from a store other than Zomick's - they're only doing factory baking and closing the store.

Term Papers, Action Figures, Hotels and Boxers, HUH?

Read the story here...by Chana, The Curious Jew.

Psychoanalysis of SlugGirl's Phobia

SlugGirl's recent harrowing (and hilarious) experience got her mind working, and the following occurred to her. Perhaps now she can get over her fear...
Last night, as I walked through the puddle filled parking lot of the nearby grocery store, I thought about how rain brings slugs, and slugs dwell in the shadows, awaiting an innocent pedestrian's heavy foot. I arrived at my car and as i reached for the car door handle, it dawned on me -- the reason that I get so freaked out by slugs.

I must have been between 8 and 10 years old. I was sent outside to get something from the car after a light rain had fallen. I stuck my fingers under the handle of the car door and instead of feeling solid cold metal, I felt something totally different. Squishy and slimy, my fingers had struck a slug that was hiding under the door handle.

And this, I believe, is the reason for my slug phobia.

(This morning i poked around under there with my car key first, just in case...)

~ SlugGirl
Ez: Mmm, squishy!! :)

Yeah, That's Me

A lot of this guy's stuff on YouTube are really good. Enjoy :)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Memories & Hopes: 2,000 Posts Later

It is only fitting that this post is being written at 3:34 in the morning. Of the 2,000 posts prior to this one, I'd venture that a good chunk of the posts that are not roundups (or even that are) nor by other people were written at about this time of day, or rather, night. In typical fashion, I did not even realize that the last post was the 2,000th; I of course thought that it was #1,999, forgetting the link I put up Friday afternoon. Ah well. Some things never change...
...but in truth, much of life is made up of changes, even while others always remain the same. One of the best, and most interesting, pieces of advice I ever heard was actually one that was not given to me. Someone asked my sister-in-law, I believe it was, about the idea of selling one's engagement ring because they were truly in need of some money - and a ring's value could have quite an impact on their finances. My sister-in-law responded that you never, ever do that: Who knows how things will work out in the long-term financially, even if this would help in the short term; more importantly, it's important to have that ring for when times do go bad. It's when things are bad, when things are stressful, when people are starting to question why they put up with and are living the way they do, that it becomes so important to have a reminder of why they are doing all that they are. A ring is the perfect symbol which reminds a person of their happiest moments; the shiny diamond on top which is always so bright and near impossible to break. In those roughest of times, looking down at that diamond reminds a person of what it is that brought them to this point and why they really do want to work through whatever problems they are facing.

It is interesting that people generally give diamond rings upon engagement, and not later, when they're already married. Perhaps this is because it is often the time of the most excitement; the pressures and struggles of the future have yet to be faced, everything is 'perfect' and 'wonderful' and nothing can go wrong... and this is the moment we wish to recall, when everything was so simple and uncomplicated and there were no tough times to weather.

But what of those struggles for which we have no diamond to look into; no clear bright light from the past to reminisce and recall with, to focus our thoughts with? How can we continue on when the future is so murky, when we've put ourselves in a position where we won't allow ourselves to feel, where we are afraid of all of the paths which are laid out ahead of us?

Perhaps that itself is the answer. While we may not have that clear reminder in front of us, showing us glimpses of our past - of our hopes, our dreams, our plans for the future; we can still open our hearts and minds to bring all of those back to us. We don't need a diamond to guide us, to remind us of our moments of happiness; we can recall those on our own, and channel those feelings back to the present time to overcome the obstacles of today. I can still see in my mind's eye the moment the space in front of me cleared, and I saw Serach sitting there, waiting for me to come to her, by the badekin at our wedding. I will always remember putting Elianna, smiling, onto Serach's bed, where she immediately crawled over to Serach, with a huge, excited smile on her face, and said "Hiii! Hii, Amma, hi! *MWAH*! Amma, *mwah*!" to wake her up.

Sometimes, in our obsession with the present, and constant concern for the future, we forget the past. But we must not - it is in the past where we set our goals, when everything was far more clear; it is only that the path we are on is overgrown with obstacles and it sometimes seems like another, unknown path would be so much easier and more exciting. But while the unknown is always exciting - filled with the endless possibilities only the unknown can bring - we must once again remind ourselves of all that which has brought us to this point. Often, it is good to look back at the path we have come up and realize why we took the turns we did - and not (just) the wrong turns, but most importantly, the ones that really set us on our way. It is those small moments in time which we must carry with us on our journeys.

Beginnings are always the most exciting. When you first start something, the first time you really get in a groove, the first time in a while... beginnings. The hopes are high, the optimism boundless, the trials, tribulations, and rough times still long off. I started blogging a little over two years ago, not really sure where it would take me; unaware of the communities of J-bloggers, not even really knowing what a blog was. Since those first months of writing, so much has changed - from how I write to how I think to all that is happening in my life - but at the same time, some of the focuses really have stayed the same. I love now, 2,000 posts later, that the very first post I put up is really not a post at all - but a picture: A picture of two people looking out from the past, looking forward to their limitless future together. A picture, really, of SerandEz.

So much has happened that revolves around this blog since its inception that (of course) late, late night. There have been wonderful moments, wonderful meetings, frustrating incidents, annoying disturbances, and people ranging from awesome to horrible. It would have been easy to pick any of those negative times, decide this hobby was simply not worth the trouble, and quit; and surely, the easiest way to do this is to slowly let it die, to ease out of it, to build up a wall and finally just let it fall apart. But I don't think that's the proper approach to most difficulties, even to something so inane as a blog; more importantly, when I am honest with myself and think about all that has happened, I realize that this blog is actually quite good for me. Yes, it will rarely be as exciting as it sometimes has, and true, that which is invested in this blog is so great that the painful times hurt that much more - and of course, it can make Serach want to break this computer into little pieces - but it really has been quite good for me... for us, and more importantly, is and will remain good for us beyond the foreseeable future.

2,000 more, anyone?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Confused Left?

It's a bit tricky trying to piece together what has happened the past couple of days, but it's almost as if the Presidential hopefuls in the Democratic Party are trying to hand the nomination to Hillary Clinton. Tom Tancredo suggested retaliating against terror attacks by bombing Mecca and Medina, Islam's holiest sites, which I think would have gotten any Republican in quite a heap of trouble (and rightfully so); Barack Obama suggested (from what I understand) nuking Pakistan [followed by suggesting nuking just terrorists in Pakistan, followed by suggesting contemplating attacking Pakistan on our own, all within a minute or so].

Separately, the Democrats in the House had to apologize to the Republicans after ending a vote prematurely and calling it in their favor when it seems like the actual votes were the other way. Then, after a walkout by the Republicans, they called for a re-vote to appease the Republicans but won handily, seeing as how the Republicans weren't in the room to actually vote again. Anyway, I thought this was well-spoken by Rep. Blunt.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Insane Skateboarding Crash Video

Wow. Noyam has the video of the X-sports skateboarder who completed a 720 turn (first ever, apparently, in this fashion) then went flying and fell about 50 feet. Amazing all around. What a miracle.

iCry Over Cookies

Continuing with my apparent theme, I had an interesting conversation with my friend last night after she came back from a date. After speaking with her, I realized that we could not be farther apart on our approaches to dating and the related emotions. On one side of the extreme - there is my friend. She comes back from the second date and says that she had a good time...but she has no idea where it is gonna go. Obviously in our world of dating the guys have all the power and whatever they say, goes. So I asked her if she would be upset if it ended after two dates? And her response told me that she really wouldn't care if it was over because she had invested almost nothing in the person.

Me, on the other hand, I am the COMPLETE opposite. I become emotionally attached to just about everything. Of course I know that this is a terrible way to go through life...it may not be healthy, etc. But this is who I am and I have learned how to live and deal with it. Not only that, I actually love being like this. I don't understand how people expect to connect to anyone if they don't give it everything they've got. And yes maybe you will get hurt, but I would rather be an emotional, passionate person sitting and crying locked up in a room for a week after a horrible break-up (don't worry, I never actually did that) than be someone who takes the opposite approach.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 8/2: Voices

A number of really great posts lately, and I haven't even read all the blogs I normally do yet:
9) DAG finds a full of crap guarantee.
8) Erachet notes a mean story - a teacher who read the last pages of Harry Potter to her class.
7) Diana pointed this out to me, but I'd have seen it soon enough anyway... Frumhouse asks what your spouse thinks of your blogging. HA!
6) I didn't even read the rest of the post, but Jack starts with an awesome quote from one of my favorite historical figures.
5) DAG notes a great piece (with a caveat exactly as I'd say) in the Jewish Press.
4) Mishmar asks if you're happy being Charedi in a very solid post. Well, I'm happy not being Charedi, and the recent news only reinforces that to me.
3) NoyG with an awesome post for the simple reason it talks about broadcasters. Where's my brother when I need a good discussion!?
2) DK :) returns with a great post on rushing. Awesome. We should all take this to heart.
1) Chana checks her humility. Great, great post.
New blog bonus: I'm not even going to link to a specific post, but this is one of the best blogs I just started reading (thanks Orthonomics). Makes me wish Elianna were older to enjoy a lot of it!
Enjoy!

Changing Everything

(Hat tip: Chana UPDATED: Chana's post, and R' Gil's, both excellent; R' Gil quotes R' Dr. Norman Lamm's letter on the subject which was also very sharp. Was in training most of the day, and only quickly put up what I saw from my e-mail.)

Wow, this is something:
Snap, Crackle, But Not Cropped
Feldman admits controversial photo was not altered by school, which acknowledges it axed his lifecycle notices. Jonathan Mark - Associate Editor

Noah Feldman, who ignited a firestorm of criticism last week with his pointed attack on Modern Orthodoxy in The New York Times Magazine, admitted this week that he learned before publication of his article that he in fact was not intentionally cropped out of his reunion photograph.

In the article, “Orthodox Paradox,” Feldman, a Harvard Law School professor, asserts that he was erased from a newsletter’s photograph by his former yeshiva, the Maimonides School in Brookline, Mass., because he was standing alongside his non-Jewish girlfriend. The reunion anecdote led off the story in a dramatic way and the image of Feldman and his wife allegedly being stricken from the photo appeared central to his feelings of being left out.
That pretty much kills the article, however much else was true. Shame on Noah Feldman, and shame on the Times for allowing that part of the article to remain while they did not allow a photo after understanding why he wasn't included.

Feldman has a few interesting comments that really make sense but contradict what he implied in his original article, but I'll have to get to those later - currently attending all-day training.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

For the Baseball Fans

This is a really cool video if you know baseball - and you don't need to understand Japanese to understand what's going on. I like how the ump gets on a microphone at the end to explain the ruling. Cool.

Winning A War

Possibly the point most quickly forgotten with all that has happened in Iraq the past few years was that any reasonable person understood that this was a war that - while the original "war" portion would end quickly - would lead to a state which would take many, many years to pass. A state of infighting, of rebuilding, of terrorism, and the like.

So, for the past number of years, we've been inundated with only one side of what is happening in Iraq by our news media. The AP's head stated something along the lines of it is the job of the media to help end warfare - rather than report the news. You have Democrats saying incredibly stupid things, like this in the WaPo: (via Best of the Web)
Many Democrats have anticipated that, at best, Petraeus and U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker would present a mixed analysis of the success of the current troop surge strategy, given continued violence in Baghdad. But of late there have been signs that the commander of U.S. forces might be preparing something more generally positive. Clyburn said that would be "a real big problem for us."
As James Taranto noted,
"What does it say about Clyburn's party that if things go well for America, it would be "a real big problem for us"?"
What does it say? Simply put, that people have their agendas, and to many, it is more important that the war end no matter the long-terms costs so long as it destroys the President and his party in the short-term. That's why the already much-discussed op-ed in the New York Times earlier this week was so shocking - and so incredibly nice to see. I think it's quite possibly the most important thing the Times has done all year, because it directly contradicts just about everything they have been reporting for months on end. It discusses the great success the US and Iraq have had against the terrorists, particularly since the surge President Bush ordered a number of months ago. Written by two people who are no fans of the war or President Bush, it truthfully discusses the progress being made in so many areas. It basically argues that this is actually working, and we just need to have a little more patience to keep seeing it - exactly what was cautioned by so many 4-1/2 years ago.

Hopefully, not only will these successes continue, but the stupid and petty partisan politics that would rather have us be unsuccessful so certain people can come into power will end. It is shameful that we have politicians who are de facto rooting for our troops to be driven home by a terrorist army, even if that is not what they believe in their hearts. It is more important to so many to try and discredit Gen. Petraeus and President Bush and the idea that we might actually be succeeding - simply so that political points can be scored and troops brought home, no matter the cost. Senator Barack Obama - a leading Democratic Presidential candidate - essentially shrugged off a possible genocide in Iraq, saying such a thing is not our responsibility.

There is but one focus on the left: Pull back the troops, declare failure, and blame that failure on President Bush. It is becoming increasingly hard to understand their motives in any other way.

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 8/1: A Gut Nacht/Morgen

Those who know me will be happy to hear that I got a haircut. Elsewhere, I feel like Gagne will only cause (small) problems for the Red Sox. A few good reads, now that I've actually had some time to read blogs at 4-5 in the morning...
  • Bonus: Hilarious video at Jewbiquitous. Jack, you'll like this one.
  • 5) Greg reports that a Kosher Subway is coming to Baltimore. At least they're being smart and using the pareve cheese, unlike the one in Flatbush.
  • 4) Orthomom has a solid post as usual on a recent billboard battle.
  • 3) The PsychoToddler clan gets the typical "Welcome to Israel" runaround.
  • 2) Rivka debates whether to open up to her rav; I think this is something that so many struggle with silently.
  • 1) Harry tells over a wonderful story about Simcha Weddings in Chicago. Wow. (via Kindness Happens)
Have a wonderful morning!

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