Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Short Musings

There's some wonderful reading out there as always, particularly in YU's Kol Hamevaser (via R' Gil). So far I've read the pieces by (Serach's cousins) Ben & Noah Greenfield, all of which are particularly interesting; I'm most interested to see if anyone will pick up on Ben's "WikiTorah" idea in terms of making learning around the globe and from sugya to sugya that much more interconnected (and therefore, better). If I recall correctly, R' Dr. Aryeh Frimer was once telling me about such a project that was underway - albeit to a lesser extent - in Bar Ilan, but what Ben is discussing is far more reaching - and, I think, better.

On another interesting note, (hat tip: Mara) Gallup put out an interesting poll asking people how they view other countries. Israel is the 5th most favorable at 71%, which is nice, but what is particularly interesting is the very large split between Republicans and Democrats on this subject. 84% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats view Israel favorably; on the flip side, Democrats are more likely to view favorably Iran, the PA, and North Korea. While obviously 64% is still a solid, favorable view, it is a small concern that a sizable minority of Dems do not have a favorable view of Israel, particularly the crowd from which one of their major candidates hails. While yes, Obama has said all the typical pro-Israel statements of any major Presidential candidate, when a large part of his base constituency is from that crowd, it is a cause for concern - much like when President Bush Sr. had a large part of his from the fringe right.

As an aside, the Democratic convention is going to be great fun and completely anti-democratic, seeing as how neither will have enough delegates. Who will win the backroom games?

Elsewhere... Erachet defends art after Stern's Honors Program went to see The Seagull.
After the play, we got to speak to the director and a bunch of the actors (including Alan Cumming - yay Scottish accent). I asked them about the message of the play and if there is a way to defend art based on that. The director said that art only ruins your life if you can't exist in art. Someone who is not willing to see art through for the sake of art, but more for the sake of themselves, will not make it. Only one whose true calling is art will survive.

I want to disagree. I want to disagree with the play as a whole, actually. Throughout the entire performance, we are never presented with a character who attempts it but is not good at art. I would have liked to have seen a talentless artist so I could see what that person's outcome would be. For me, the factor is not "can you exist without art in your life?" but rather "how much weight do you put on success?" If someone's true calling is not art but they decide to pursue some artistic endeavors anyway (such as acting, writing, etc.), that person can totally not let art get in the way of his happiness if his happiness is not dependent on the success of his art. In that respect, it's the exact opposite of what the director explained. Someone who puts the weight of his entire life and happiness on his art will never be satisfied.
I agree with Erachet, and actually believe that the same applies to any field. It is not "existing within art" that is the key, but where one places their happiness. Is it on success, being at the top, fame? Sameach b'chelko (happy with his lot) matters far more.

BeyondBT has posted an interview with R' Adlerstein (of Cross-Currents) ahead of his Shabbos here in Kew Gardens Hills. It's very interesting.

SoccerDad links to, then subtly questions and really disproves an article that thinks the latest offensive in Gaza accomplished much.

Jameel has news video from an attack within Jerusalem on a pair of inspectors. Scary in so many facets.

Orthomom is right in criticizing Hikind's statements on Obama. I don't understand why people (including many I'm close with) feel that false or exaggerated claims will somehow hurt a candidate more than help. Note the difference between what I wrote above and what Hikind said, for example: If you support Israel, which is more convincing when you know the facts surrounding Obama?

Lots more stuff coming later; I'm working on a pair of posts that I hope to post soon. (You know, like all the others.)