Sunday, August 30, 2009

Are You Ready For Some...

...FOOTBALL!?!? (And manners.)

My first draft is (hopefully, if I can get the password in time) tonight, courtesy of the shul league I'm in. Next week I have draft Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights. I'm also in my old office spread pool, survivor pool, possibly the shul survivor pool, and of course, Year XIII of Ezzie's NFL Pool, which anyone who is interested should e-mail me for an invite to and details. I am ready for some football. :)

As an aside, sometimes little things like fantasy football and pools can tell you a lot about a person. I've been running my pool for a long time, and it sometimes resulted in me eating money when people dropped out or forgot to pay, or thought they'd paid, and it became difficult trying to collect because I didn't necessarily have a way to get in touch with them. Partly because of that, partly because it's standard, and partly because of the work involved, I get my entry free, though I don't take a cut. But I never had a situation like I had this past year with two new guys.

After a few weeks, when their money still hadn't arrived, I e-mailed them on the e-mail addresses they used in the league. No response. I posted on the message boards - no response, though they were still putting in picks each week, so they could easily have seen it. I put it on the pool. I finally asked the people who they'd gotten the invite from for their personal e-mails, and tried them that way; one never replied despite repeated attempts.

The other, though, was even more disgusting. After first avoiding my e-mails, he finally replied that he thought he'd paid - via PayPal. After noting that there was no such payment (after triple-checking even though I already knew), he argued that perhaps he sent it to the wrong person but he'll "send 100 again". Except... the league is $125, and $150 if it's late. ($100 is if you get in early, as most people do.) I noted this, and he got upset, arguing that he never knew it was more than $100 and he'd only pay $100. I pointed out that the invitation clearly states the price, and that as there is no other way to join, he had to have received it. He then tried to argue that "well I was told 100 so that's all I'm gonna pay." After I said no to that, his next argument was that he never knew I get a free entry, it's "not right", and that he's not paying because of it. After I noted that this was rather standard, and nobody had had an issue the first 11 years of my running the league, he tried to complain that the invitation doesn't say that I take a free entry (though it's in the league settings), then he claimed I take "a lot of money" from it. When I asked what he's referring to, he said something about my taking $400 from the pool. I noted that was false, and again asked him to pay up. He still hasn't replied to any e-mails since.

Meanwhile, he continued putting picks in the rest of the season, even after refusing to pay. You can't get much more disgusting than that... though another guy is trying.

He was in my pool for a few years and I was in his; we traded entries. After I informed him that this year I would be passing on joining his, he started spamming everyone in my league with invites to his league - without ever asking me or them if he could e-mail any of them. I only found out because a couple guys mentioned to me they were getting all these e-mails from him. Gross.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Best "Shidduch Resume" Ever

A friend just sent this one (for real), and it's great, so I'm putting it up:
NAME

Birthdate: ##/##/##

Currently: A (major, year) at the ( ) institute of (university).

Looking to marry someone loyal and caring, a partner and friend for life.
That's it. Solid.

Send A Writer

As many of you may already be aware, Nefesh B'Nefesh is running a contest to send a J-blogger to Israel to do two things:
The full details are at the end of this post, and feel free to nominate whomever you would like. I was quite flattered to see that R' Gil Student of Hirhurim nominated myself or Chana to go; alas, one of my best friends is getting married the day of the convention, and I don't think it would be fair to Serach or my new job to take off a week. I've also seen a number of people suggest SoccerDad or Baila (who made aliyah on an NBN flight a couple of years ago), and all of these suggestions are excellent and they each would make great representatives for various reasons.

My own nominee is based on the following criteria; I was looking for someone who is:
  • Young, preferably single
  • Has a very large blog following
  • Has an audience that may not be the typical one for an NBN flight, but who would be very receptive to what is written about it
  • Can be both serious and entertaining
  • Can flat-out write in a stirring way when the material calls for it
  • Can capture the emotion and setting of different events
  • and of course, would take the responsibility to share with the audience everything that's happening very seriously
Based on all these criteria, my nominee is Bad4Shidduchim. One need only to look back to earlier this year, when she guest posted a series (along with Bas~Melech) about running a marathon for Chai Lifeline to see how she can capture both the fun and joy and the emotion and meaning in a series of events. Her blog is full of humor, great catches on the little aspects of life, and an understanding of what moves people; she has a tremendous audience that is very responsive to what she writes; and her audience is predominantly younger. If one of the objectives of sending someone is the hope that their writing will stir others to consider making aliyah, targeting a young audience that is otherwise not going to be particularly exposed to the convention or the flight seems to be a very good approach. A great writer is a must for a task like this, I think Bad4 would be a fantastic choice to send to join this trip.

Whomever Nefesh B'Nefesh chooses, I hope they have a wonderful time and a moving, meaningful experience.

The details of the contest are below.

Send your fellow blogger on a free round-trip visit to Israel!

Now’s your chance to select a Jewish blogger who will be flying on a Nefesh B’Nefesh charter Aliyah flight on Monday, September 7, 2009 and attend the Second International Jewish Bloggers Convention.

Nominate your fellow blogger with the "Send a Friend" form on the JBloggers.org website and with a post on your blog, and be sure to read the terms and conditions on the site to make sure your entry qualifies.

If you want to try to get on the flight, get a fellow blogger to nominate you.

http://jbloggers.org/send-a-friend

The terms are simple:

  1. To nominate a fellow blogger, you must be registered to attend the convention
    (in person or online).
  2. The nominated blogger can be located in Israel or the U.S.
  3. You must post on your blog who you nominated and why
    (and obviously send us the information too).
  4. The blogger you nominate does not need to be registered to attend the convention.
  5. The nominated blogger must have a Jewish blog
    (i.e. about Jews, Judaism, Israel, etc.).
  6. The blogger who flies in will be linked up with an Oleh/Olah/Family, and must write a series of posts about that experience.
  7. If you want to win, you must find a fellow blogger to nominate you.
  8. You can nominate more than one blogger (but don’t go overboard).
  9. All nominations must be in by Thursday, September 3, 2009.
  10. The NBN flight to Israel is on Monday, Sept. 7, 2009.

Additional terms and conditions

  1. The ticket is round-trip JFK-Israel.
  2. No ground accommodations or any other expenses are included.
  3. The winner will be selected by Nefesh B’Nefesh.

Act quickly!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Quotable

DeepThroat on marriage, dating, and shidduchim:
"People want to make it seem like there's only one way to [get married], and if you do it any other way you'll be ostracized... [But] it's one of those things, once you get married, nobody cares how you did it."
(via RD) Erica Jong on advice:
"Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't."
A young teenage boy with a married brother who is expecting his second child telling Erachet's teenage sister:
"I learned from my brother not to get married before I can support myself."
Amen to all three.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On A Hot August Day In The Heights

You know how sometimes you could do something so completely jerky, you wonder how you had it in you? Well, maybe you don't know. That's what happened to me yesterday, anyway.

It was my first day in the Heights. I got to my apartment a little before 12. A guy from Ikea was supposed to come and build my Ikea furniture, but I wasn't sure when exactly he was coming. Because of that, I could not leave my apartment.

However, since it was only my first day there, I did not own any food. None of my apartment mates were around. I figured the Ikea guy would come soon enough anyway, (he was supposed to come between 12 and 2) so I stuck around the apartment instead of going to Key Food to buy stuff to eat.

The Ikea guy came at three and left at five. By that point, I had basically fasted the entire day, aside from my quick bowl of cereal at nine in the morning. I literally felt like passing out. Luckily, my good friend D2 invited me for dinner.

On the way to D2's apartment, I passed a young Jewish guy, probably around my age, lugging two big chairs along the sidewalk. Now, not only did the chairs look heavy, but the heat that day (like every day recently) was overbearingly oppressive. "Humid" is an understatement. The guy stopped for a rest and looked like he could really use a glass of water, or a bed, or a personal air conditioning installed in his clothing (wouldn't that be an awesome invention?), or, I dunno...some HELP, maybe?

My gut instinct said, "Ask him if he needs help!"

Meanwhile, there were still a number of feet between us - too many for me to say anything to him just yet. It was like...you know that really awkward situation where you see someone you know all the way down the street and you both acknowledge each other with a smile or something, but then you have a minute or two of walking before you can actually start talking to each other, so you both walk towards each other and you don't know if you should keep smiling at the other person or not look at them for a minute or what? Or when you're both waiting for the light at an intersection, but you're on opposite corners so you keep looking at each other but you're too far away to talk, and you're just standing there looking at each other for way too long?

Anyway, it was like that.

By the time I reached him, my brain had enough time to convince me that he might be insulted if I ask for help. What if he's one of those guys who thinks he can handle a simple thing like moving chairs? What if he'd never accept help from a girl because he's strong enough to do stuff like that by himself? Or what if he got the wrong message? What if he thought it was weird that I was talking to him? We don't know each other at all.

I gave him a sort of half smile when I got closer, and he nodded in acknowledgement (well, at that point we had both been staring at each other for at least two minutes, we might as well have acknowledged the fact), and then I walked passed him like a complete jerk, when he clearly could have used some help.

As soon as I walked passed, my gut instinct kicked in again (seconds too late - as always) and wiped away all the overthinking. "Get back there!" it said. "Help him!" But I felt too weird. The opportunity felt already missed.

And for the past two days, I have felt like a jerk. I wish I could apologize, but I have no idea who he is.

Things I learned from this experience:

1. My gut instinct is GOOD. It knows what it's talking about. Listen to it once in a while! (Or more often than that, if I really want to be smart.)

2. No matter if you know someone or not, always ask if someone looks like he/she needs help. Besides, you'd want help if it was you.

3. Don't overthink!

4. Don't overthink!

5. Don't overthink!

6. A missed opportunity will always remain missed. You can't go back. All you can hope for is another opportunity to make amends for the one you missed. And you only get those once in a while, if you're lucky. So take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, especially if it's one that allows you to be a nice person.

7. It's okay to talk to people who don't know you.

8. Being shy can sometimes come across as being cold, so don't be so shy all the time!

9. Stop thinking everything is weird. Just do what you feel is the right thing.

10. Call your apartment mates if you're stuck in the apartment and starving. They just might let you eat some of their food.

Anyway, if, by any miniscule chance, the guy in this post reads this blog - please accept my apologies for not helping you yesterday. I'm so sorry - I'm really not that much of a jerk. And I hope you were able to get the chairs to wherever they had to go!

...Do I get to stop feeling bad now?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Difference Between Men & Women

Hilarious, accurate post at ProfK. Excerpt:
And then, one evening when they're driving home, a thought occurs to Elaine, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud: "Do you realize that, as of tonight, we've been seeing each other for exactly six months?"

And then there is silence in the car. To Elaine, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: Geez, wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he's been feeling confined by our relationship; maybe he thinks I'm trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn't want, or isn't sure of.

And Roger is thinking: Gosh. Six months.

And Elaine is thinking: But, hey, I'm not so sure I want this kind of relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I'd have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily toward...I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?

And Roger is thinking:...so, that means it was...let's see...February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer's, which means...lemme check the odometer...Whoa! I am way overdue for an oil change here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

7 Things I Love

I think I've done this in the past, but why not, since I was tagged, and since I don't have time to post all the stuff I want to... 7 things I love, in no particular order:
  • Thinking (in moderation)
  • Coca~Cola (not in moderation)
  • Football
  • Math, statistics, and economics - the meat and potatoes, not the out-of-touch-with-reality clouds
  • Balance
  • Understanding and Wisdom
  • Mussar
I don't know who hasn't been tagged, so I'm not tagging anyone. Feel free to to do it if you want!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Time

I think that one of the most difficult parts of life to relate to others in is time.

Throughout life, we go through countless different stages. Each stage of life brings with it its own set of limitations, chief among those often being time. One of the reasons people suddenly find it easier or harder to relate to others in general is when they've gone through the same situation; this is as true when it comes to time as it does to so many other aspects of life.

What is often difficult for a person is when they switch stages of life and the amount of time they have suddenly changes dramatically. A person who had plenty of busy time and suddenly find him or herself with a lot of free time can be overwhelmed, and start to feel down as they can't seem to fill the time. Another person might be thrilled to have all the free time. On the flip side, a person who had a nice amount of free time may find it hard to adjust to having so little - whether because they have so much to do in that free time as they're accustomed to, or because they simply aren't used to having so much busy time in general.

Beyond the person whose time has suddenly changed are those who know this person: Friends, family, other workers... When a person is used to their friend being in a certain stage of life with a certain amount of time available, they can take for granted their ability to call their friend up and talk, invite him or her out, or the like. When that changes, it can be as hard if not harder on a person's friends and family as it is on the person her or himself.

It's interesting to see this phenomenon repeat itself at so many stages of life: As people move from elementary school to high school, high school to college, college to the working world, single to dating to being engaged to getting married to having kids, from being employed to being unemployed to being employed again... You'll often find that people who have already gone through or are simultaneously going through those same changes understand that change in time on top of the other changes so much more easily. Those who have yet to really face those often have a much more difficult time adjusting.

How often does a person hear someone complain about a friend who suddenly seems to "disappear" when they get engaged? (I've done this complaining recently.) For the person who got engaged, they're simply unaccustomed to the sudden reduction in available time. For their friends, it's weird that their friend is suddenly unavailable. Neither side is "wrong" - it just is.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

From the mouth of a Liberal

She is no fan of the right, which makes this an interesting read.

Buyer's remorse? Not me. At the North American summit in Guadalajara this week, President Obama resumed the role he is best at -- representing the U.S. with dignity and authority abroad. This is why I, for one, voted for Obama and continue to support him. The damage done to U.S. prestige by the feckless, buffoonish George W. Bush will take years to repair. Obama has barely begun the crucial mission that he was elected to do.

Having said that, I must confess my dismay bordering on horror at the amateurism of the White House apparatus for domestic policy. When will heads start to roll? I was glad to see the White House counsel booted, as well as Michelle Obama's chief of staff, and hope it's a harbinger of things to come. Except for that wily fox, David Axelrod, who could charm gold threads out of moonbeams, Obama seems to be surrounded by juvenile tinhorns, bumbling mediocrities and crass bully boys.

Case in point: the administration's grotesque mishandling of healthcare reform, one of the most vital issues facing the nation. Ever since Hillary Clinton's megalomaniacal annihilation of our last best chance at reform in 1993 (all of which was suppressed by the mainstream media when she was running for president), Democrats have been longing for that happy day when this issue would once again be front and center.


There is plenty of blame to go around. Obama's aggressive endorsement of a healthcare plan that does not even exist yet, except in five competing, fluctuating drafts, makes Washington seem like Cloud Cuckoo Land. The president is promoting the most colossal, brazen bait-and-switch operation since the Bush administration snookered the country into invading Iraq with apocalyptic visions of mushroom clouds over American cities.But who would have thought that the sober, deliberative Barack Obama would have nothing to propose but vague and slippery promises -- or that he would so easily cede the leadership clout of the executive branch to a chaotic, rapacious, solipsistic Congress? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom I used to admire for her smooth aplomb under pressure, has clearly gone off the deep end with her bizarre rants about legitimate town-hall protests by American citizens. She is doing grievous damage to the party and should immediately step down.

You can keep your doctor; you can keep your insurance, if you're happy with it, Obama keeps assuring us in soothing, lullaby tones. Oh, really? And what if my doctor is not the one appointed by the new government medical boards for ruling on my access to tests and specialists? And what if my insurance company goes belly up because of undercutting by its government-bankrolled competitor? Face it: Virtually all nationalized health systems, neither nourished nor updated by profit-driven private investment, eventually lead to rationing.

I just don't get it. Why the insane rush to pass a bill, any bill, in three weeks? And why such an abject failure by the Obama administration to present the issues to the public in a rational, detailed, informational way? The U.S. is gigantic; many of our states are bigger than whole European nations. The bureaucracy required to institute and manage a nationalized health system here would be Byzantine beyond belief and would vampirically absorb whatever savings Obama thinks could be made. And the transition period would be a nightmare of red tape and mammoth screw-ups, which we can ill afford with a faltering economy.

As with the massive boondoggle of the stimulus package, which Obama foolishly let Congress turn into a pork rut, too much has been attempted all at once; focused, targeted initiatives would, instead, have won wide public support. How is it possible that Democrats, through their own clumsiness and arrogance, have sabotaged healthcare reform yet again? Blaming obstructionist Republicans is nonsensical because Democrats control all three branches of government. It isn't conservative rumors or lies that are stopping healthcare legislation; it's the justifiable alarm of an electorate that has been cut out of the loop and is watching its representatives construct a tangled labyrinth for others but not for themselves. No, the airheads of Congress will keep their own plush healthcare plan -- it's the rest of us guinea pigs who will be thrown to the wolves.

With the Republican party leaderless and in backbiting disarray following its destruction by the ideologically incoherent George W. Bush, Democrats are apparently eager to join the hara-kiri brigade. What looked like smooth coasting to the 2010 election has now become a nail-biter. Both major parties have become a rats' nest of hypocrisy and incompetence. That, combined with our stratospheric, near-criminal indebtedness to China (which could destroy the dollar overnight), should raise signal flags. Are we like late Rome, infatuated with past glories, ruled by a complacent, greedy elite, and hopelessly powerless to respond to changing conditions?

What does either party stand for these days? Republican politicians, with their endless scandals, are hardly exemplars of traditional moral values. Nor have they generated new ideas for healthcare, except for medical savings accounts, which would be pathetically inadequate in a major crisis for anyone earning at or below a median income.

And what do Democrats stand for, if they are so ready to defame concerned citizens as the "mob" -- a word betraying a Marie Antoinette delusion of superiority to ordinary mortals. I thought my party was populist, attentive to the needs and wishes of those outside the power structure. And as a product of the 1960s, I thought the Democratic party was passionately committed to freedom of thought and speech.

But somehow liberals have drifted into a strange servility toward big government, which they revere as a godlike foster father-mother who can dispense all bounty and magically heal all ills. The ethical collapse of the left was nowhere more evident than in the near total silence of liberal media and Web sites at the Obama administration's outrageous solicitation to private citizens to report unacceptable "casual conversations" to the White House. If Republicans had done this, there would have been an angry explosion by Democrats from coast to coast. I was stunned at the failure of liberals to see the blatant totalitarianism in this incident, which the president should have immediately denounced. His failure to do so implicates him in it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Truth Comes Out. We ARE a Bunch of Racists

Ok, so seriously, I think it's about time we peeps on the right of center came out of the closet for what we are. We ARE racists. I know, I know, we've been trying to hide it all these years, but you folks on the left always knew the truth about us. And how could we have POSSIBLY though of hiding it. It should have been obvious from the start that everything we say, was in fact cloaking in inward disdain for black people. God I hate those negros. If only we can get back to those good ol' days when use black folk served us white people. Maybe if we all got together, we can send that boy in the oval office some watermelon, he might get the hint and leave once and for all. And yes, I too realize that most of the people we demonstrate against aren't even black, but they are black enough. Especially that Pelosi. The way she talks, just like an angry black female.

Ooooooooh you liberals have been too smart for us. What can I say. You are just too damn good at what you always do by spotting out racism everywhere.

God, it feels so good to come out of the closet

Bare Necessities & Serach's Scarves - Staten Island

There's a sale tonight in Staten Island; our friend who runs Bare Necessities (which sells Kiki Riki shells at very low prices - $10-12 I believe) will be there, as will Serach with her tichels (head scarves) and headbands from Serach's Scarves and A Goldish Touch.

The sale is from 8:30 - 11:30 at 15 Soren Street. Please pass it along!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pleasures

  • My new job is wonderful, but, as you can probably tell, rather time consuming at the moment. One of these weekends I hope to catch up on a few things and start setting out some posts in advance to get back into the groove, since I miss the writing.
  • Elianna is hilarious. On Friday night, we were eating with FrumDoc and FFW at Moshe and Adina's, along with Erachet. Moshe and Adina both tried as the night wore on to get Elianna to go to sleep so we could all shmooze, to no avail. Finally, we decided we'll just take the kids home and put them to bed. Moshe came out of the room to wish us all a good night, and we called Elianna to come out so we could leave. She refused a couple of times, then, as we were all talking, she came out to us all and announced "Byeee! Thanks for coming!! Have a good night!", turned, walked back into Moshe and Adina's room, and closed the door behind her. It was awesome.
  • Kayla is just about walking, finally. She's been cruising for about 6 months, but for some reason refuses to let go and just stand and/or walk - but if you hand her something, she doesn't even realize it and is just fine. She's finally taken a few hesitant steps/lunges without holding anything, so she should be there soon. She also says "Happy!" and claps her hands to If you're happy and you know it..., says a few other words-ish, and is all around cute - and brilliant, if you watch what she comes up with in terms of how to do stuff. She's really clever.
  • Elianna also got earrings, now that she's fully potty-trained (finally!). They're light blue and she loves them, though it took a bit to convince her it was okay to lie on them or take a bath. She's also a comedy star on video - but you'll have to visit to see those. :)

Comments for Clunkers

Great comment by Akiva on a previous post, which sums up many of the problems with the stimulus in general, and the "Cash for Clunkers" program in particular:
If an economic program is done correctly, the money generates a multiplier effect. If it's done adequately, just the effect of the money one time. If poorly, then the money doesn't even provide it's value.

Good Example: I buy a new car. Dealer takes my deposit and orders and ad campaign. Ad company pays local graphic designer for the ad and printing company to print them. A bunch of worker types are hired to go put the ad up on all the billboards in town. When the day is done, everyone with money in their pocket goes out for a beer at the local bar. Bar owner's business picks up, he orders more beer...etc. My order generated car jobs, ad jobs, and paid workmen. They spent the increased income at bars and restaurants, which caused those facilities to hire more and order more. The money goes round and you get as much as 5x the original economic impact.

Adequate Example: I buy a new car. Dealer knows times are tough so he puts all the money in the bank. Further, because he's worried about sales, he doesn't order a replacement car for the lot - decreasing his inventory. When he goes home at the end of the day, he doesn't buy a beer because he's worried about staying in business, he's saving everything. The money passes through once - it doesn't even generate additional car manufacturing jobs.

Bad Example: Everyone is offered $5,000 for their middle-age low gas mileage cars. They run fast to buy a new car. Dealer puts money in the bank, because times are tough he's not advertising or ordering replacement cars for his inventory. Because people were coming in with low gas mileage cars, they buy a Toyota Prius (high end), Honda Civic (middle end) or Hyundai Elantra (low end). The cars are made out of the US, so the car jobs - if any - help Korea and Japan and not the US. The cars traded in are taken and destroyed, so the used car inventory falls and used car prices go up. Now Mary on Welfare who gets a job offer for a 3 month road paving job (from stimulus money) can't afford to buy a $2,000 car to get there as that car is now $3,500.

In the last scenario, the dealer gets his profit, but the manufacturer profit and jobs go overseas. Used car prices go up further depressing opportunities for unemployed. The money only has a 25% local impact!

Friday, August 07, 2009

JES Presentation #2 this Shabbos in KGH

*sticky post* please scroll down for the latest from SerandEz

I will be speaking iyH this Shabbos, August 8th at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills at 150-05 70th Road as part of their summer lecture series. The description they are using at the YI of KGH is that I will be discussing "an economic survey of the Jewish community and what it means".

This will be somewhat different from the presentation I gave in Washington Heights a couple of months back, as the focus is a bit different, the crowd a bit different, and the inability to show slides (it is Shabbos, after all) dramatically changes how I will be able to demonstrate findings. It'll be an interesting challenge to talk about statistics with little in the way of visuals to use. I may have to print a few things out.

The speech/presentation is at 5:00pm Shabbos afternoon, and it is one hour for both the presentation and the question and answer session.

I'll try to post some notes and some of the questions and answers Sunday morning as best as I can recall them.

Everyone is of course invited to attend, and if you'd like to read up on some of what has been discussed so far on the blog, please feel free to do so by clicking here.

This should be great - I know I'm excited!

A Thankful Reminder

I'm speaking this Shabbos in Kew Gardens Hills on the Jewish Economics Survey, and hope that this weekend I'll be able to start on Stage II of the survey, which is to seriously expand its reach, particularly in smaller communities. I have to thank both a couple of major organizations and a couple of individuals (whom I believe wish to remain anonymous for the moment) who've been instrumental in gathering contacts and the like to help in this endeavor. If you have further contacts that can be helpful in spreading the survey, please don't hesitate to contact me at serandez@gmail.com - just place JES somewhere in the title, thanks!

If you haven't yet taken the survey, please take it here! For more discussion on the survey and its findings so far, click here.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Ouch

A worthwhile read, with a fun closing paragraph:
So in summary - Obama's ever increasing subsidy programs ala Cash For Hairdryers and the upcoming Cash For Ratting Out Nonconformists will have a phantom impact of making it seem things are better while all these temporal redistribution mechanisms do is take from the future in order to satisfy the US consumer in the here and now. And the fact that nothing at all is being fixed in the economy, quite the contrary, with every day, America gets tens of billions of dollars deeper into the debt black hole, seems perfectly agreeable to all those in power.
The "Cash for Hairdryers" is obviously poking fun at the horribly Cash for Clunkers program which has accomplished about nothing to the tune of $1 billion tax dollars; the "Ratting Out Noncomformists" line is due to this poorly worded request on the official Whitehouse.gov website:
Scary chain emails and videos are starting to percolate on the internet, breathlessly claiming, for example, to ‘uncover’ the truth about the President’s health insurance reform positions [...]

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.
As James Taranto noted yesterday in his Best of the Web column:
It seems unlikely that this is anything more than a clumsily worded request for information that will inform the administration’s rebuttals to critics of its plan. During the Bush administration, we quickly tired of the endless and empty left-wing complaints about imagined assaults on civil liberties. Such complaints are no less tiresome coming from the right.

On the other hand, it was clumsily worded. At the very least, it is obnoxious to imply that all opposition to ObamaCare is based on “disinformation.” This show of contempt for opposing views ought to make skeptics even more skeptical. And it is creepy for an agent of the government to ask citizens to inform on their neighbors.

Taz B'Av

While many people know what Tu B'Av is (and more on that later), most people don't know what Taz B'Av is. Any guesses?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Double Standard

Full Credit to FrumDoc

So apparently, there's been a series of posters around California decrying the Obama administration's approach to health care, the economy, and just about everything else domestic with a simple message:
(Some place said they've had signs like this since November saying "Why So Socialist?")

Anyway, apparently there are now outcries from people on the left that it's "racism" and "all that's missing is a noose". Of course, considering the obvious message and the obvious takeoff on Heath Ledger's makeup as The Joker in The Dark Knight, that seems ridiculous even on its own merit. But more importantly, this isn't even a new takeoff to not realize something like this:

...just sayin'.

On Judaism

A few worthwhile or thought-provoking lines from very interesting posts:
  • MOChassid: "All one has to do to create a Kiddush Hashem is be a mentch."
  • Adventures in Chinuch: "It has become a problem in orthodox Jewish society today that too much of people's non-halachik decisions are based on what other people do."
  • WildTumor: "There is a famous saying in the gemara and chazal that Dibrah torah b’lshon bnei adam, that the Torah speaks in the language of people. Most explain this saying to imply that the Torah often needs to speak in colloquial terms so that people of all generations can understand it. If the Torah was only written in an ancient and obscure form, what good would it be to us? I, however, understand this saying a bit differently. I think the “lashon b’nei adam” means that the Torah speaks to each of us differently in that we will each pull out from our Torah learning very different ideas."

Watch the Nefesh B'Nefesh Flight Live

These always make me cry. Starting now, you can watch the landing of the most recent NBN flight full of people making aliyah to Israel. Enjoy! :)

Monday, August 03, 2009

Appreciation

Moshe said it best tonight, saying something along the lines of: Some people, you just pull for them to be incredibly successful, because you see how they act when they are and what they do with their success.

He was referring to a person who another friend we were with tonight told a fantastic story about. The friend related how in his first week at his new job, after searching for a couple of months after losing his previous job, he walked in Friday afternoon as he was about to leave to wish the boss a good weekend. The boss - quiet by nature - asked him "did they take care of you here?" He wasn't quite sure what the boss meant, so he said "well, things are going well so far, if that's what you mean." The boss responded, "No - did they make sure you got paid [even though it's only the first week] - do you have what you need for Shabbos?" The friend responded quickly, "Oh oh - yeah, thank you, I got my paycheck already."

When he related the story over, his mother-in-law started crying and said no matter what, he should never leave such a job (especially having been in jobs before where getting paid became a hassle).

For people like this, you pray that they always remain successful.

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