Tuesday, January 31, 2006
One Small Step...
Today, I took that small step - and my Arab neighbor took one in return. Will this be the first of many steps, in an effort to build an everlasting peace between Jew and Arab?
In a building that has 6 Jewish families, there is but one apartment of Arabs - and yet, the Arabs number almost as many as the Jews. There has been some animosity, usually kept under a tight lid; with an occasional flare-up, usually meant to disturb the otherwise peaceful lives. These flare-ups sometimes lead to responses, which lead to greater disruptions: But in the end, all returns to a tense quiet.
But today was different. Today's historic event, the opening of the door to a brilliant future, may be looked back upon one day as the catalyst for a lasting peace. Today, all the rubbish was removed, as that door was opened - and held open - by a team. A team that is rarely seen, but a team nevertheless: A team of Jew and Arab.
Today, I am proud to say that I took that small step and opened that door - and my young Arab neighbor took a small step herself and held that door open. I let her in, and she returned the favor.
Yes. Today, I took out that garbage: And on my way out, I let in that Arab neighbor. She then held the door for her Jewish neighbor, me, as I maneuvered the garbage outside. It was incredible, and it was touching. It was a moment that will live in Kew Gardens Hills history.
My wife is happy, too.
Check This Out
Blackmailing With Presents
A top Hamas official said Tuesday the Islamic militant group will not be "blackmailed" by international threats to cut off aid to the Palestinians and is searching for new sources of funding.Umm... where I come from, you can't complain you're being blackmailed when you don't receive a present. Aid money isn't an entitlement, and the faster Hamas learns this, the better. The Quartet refuses to give money unless they can ensure it's not going to terror (and the US a step above, until they take the destruction of Israel out of their lexicon) - so what are they looking for?
Hamas, which has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide attacks, is poised to lead the next Palestinian government after winning legislative elections.No conditions! Wonderful! That's a great way to be "ready for dialogue" - receiving money that can be used freely for terror.
"We are looking for alternative sources and we will not allow ourselves to be blackmailed," Hamdan said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from Beirut, Lebanon. "We will not accept any conditions from anybody. At the same time, we are ready for dialogue."
This is starting well.
Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 1/31
I don't understand: Mozilla Firefox, AIM Triton, Spybot, Picasa, Skype, and Blogger all work wonderfully - and were free. Dell, Microsoft's Windows, and Symantec/Norton charge me a decent amount of money... and cause problems?! What is wrong with this picture?
:::sigh::: And now, on to the roundup:
It's going to be a bit of a showcase today, with a number of blogs you probably haven't seen (except perhaps here).
Rafi G. opens his real mailbox and finds two items: An incredible letter from a terror victim's father about the movie, Paradise Now; and some tzedakah spam, which he wonders whether to ignore or read.
Oleh Chadasha gives a really great, smart, and complete analyzation of Israel's responsibility in terms of Iran.
(From S.) Bava Dilbert looks at the history of Jewish head coverings.
Nephtuli explains how Hamas is completely different than Hitler.
Jameel begins a fantastic story about a trip to Manila. His checkpoint experience in Israel, however, is an incredible reminder of just how "on edge" Israelis are.
Orthomom discusses the Jewish Press article I blasted.
Mirty discusses a fascinating study about analytical parents and autistic children.
Jack talks about a blogger's nightmare...
Help BeyondBT spend some money!
AbbaGav notes that not much has changed in the Middle East reporting. BlogHead knows why.
Miriam also notes another person running for Knesset - and he's just opened a blog, too. I guess Ze'ev isn't the only one.
Dave explains the real reason for the blue stripes on the Israeli flag... there were a few people who did this, in response to a dumb Hamas comment from earlier, but Dave's was the most encompassing and first I saw.
Robbie draws cartoons for the first time. Let's hope this isn't a recurring feature. (Okay, they were all right...)
Technorati tags: Blog, Roundup, Ezzie.
Monday, January 30, 2006
Condi & Hamas, Cindy & the Senate, and Alito & ABC VP's
A collection of thoughts, while perusing what's out there today...
Condoleeza Rice and the US State Department are completely surprised that Hamas won. Granted, even Hamas was surprised: But come on, is this really such a surprise?! Nobody in the State Department recognized this possibility?
"I've asked why nobody saw it coming," Ms. Rice said, speaking of her own staff. "It does say something about us not having a good enough pulse."You don't say...
At least she's making up for it somewhat, though we'll see how long this lasts, and whether the EU and UN cooperate:
The United States wants other nations to cut off aid to a Hamas-led Palestinian government, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said ahead of an international strategy session on Mideast peace prospects. Rice ruled out any U.S. financial assistance to a Hamas government.
"The United States is not prepared to fund an organization that advocates the destruction of Israel, that advocates violence and that refuses its obligations," under an international framework for eventual Mideast peace, Rice said.
Cindy and the Senate
There is now a "Cindy for Senate" blog. Go check it out, and click that she should run. It will be incredibly amusing.
Friday afternoon I received one of those forwarded emails from a buddy of mine. The subject: asking people to sign on to John Kerry’s petition to filibuster Sam Alito.Read the whole thing.
The email was started by a KaufNYC@aol.com, with the message “forward away, my liberal friends”. One of those who received the message was a guy named David Kaufman, a Vice President of Affiliate Relations for ABC Radio. He forwarded on the email with his own message: “Help stop the craziness!”
Oh yeah, one more thing. He forwarded the message from his abc.com email account. I contacted Mr. Kaufman by email and asked him if he would like to comment. I received a reply this morning telling me no.
Now, this raises an interesting conversation. Sean Hannity, employed by ABC Radio, could certainly say, while on the job, “You should not support this filibuster.” Mark Levin, while on the job, could say the same thing. Should Dave Kaufman be able to say the opposite while he’s on the job?
Al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri said in a videotape aired Monday that President Bush was a "butcher" and a "failure" because of a deadly U.S. airstrike targeting the bin Laden deputy.The only failure about the airstrike was that Zawahiri survived. This sounds like a child going, "Nyah nyah - you missed me!" And in case you didn't know just how selfish Zawahiri was:
"Butcher of Washington, you are not only defeated and a liar, but also a failure. You are a curse on your own nation," he said, referring to Bush. "Bush, do you know where I am? I am among the Muslim masses."Of course he is among the Muslim masses. This way, he can take advantage of the United States' reluctance to kill innocent civilians. As it is, the strike he was referencing killed 13 villagers in addition to 4 Al-Qaeda leaders.
What often happens when a child goes "Nyah nyah" is that the next time, they get nailed - really hard. Here's hoping that Zawahiri faces the same fate.
Technorati tags: Zawahiri, Bush, Al Qaeda, Assassination.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Ponder: Ariel Sharon, right-wing hawk, gets elected on a platform of providing security. In the past, he was a huge supporter of settlements. He mocks Amram Mitzna's plans to disengage from parts of Gaza, and promises to do no such thing. He then proceeds to strengthen the walls on and near the "Green Line", against the wishes of settlers who feel they are being cut off and out of the future borders of the State of Israel. He promotes disengagement, against his own Likud party platform. He goes along with the Roadmap, strengthening Mahmoud Abbas - but keeping him weak enough that he's essentially worthless. He removes, to the sorrow of millions of Jews worldwide - whether they agreed or disagreed with the planned disengagement - all of the Jewish communities in Gaza. He is thrown out of the Likud, and immediately establishes a new party, Kadima, which would draw from the center and center-left of the political spectrum. The party is popular, and threatens to grab well over 30 seats in the upcoming elections. In Palestinian elections, Hamas handily beats Fatah, grabbing well over 50% of the seats on the Palestinian Legislative Council.
Was anything in the above paragraph a surprise? Not if you are Ariel Sharon. This was Ariel Sharon's prophetic dream...
At the height of this intifada, amidst daily suicide bombings and shootings, Sharon promised an embattled country not peace - but security. He appoints Bibi Netanyahu, his only possible threat from the right - and a weak one at that - to the Finance Minister position, and allows him to revamp the Israeli economy, with much success. He builds a coalition, not of the right, his obvious allies - but of the center-left, establishing that he is not the hawk he once was. He builds up the security wall, knowing that it will reduce terror attacks, further reducing the country's wish for a right-wing leader: With less terror attacks, there is less need for a hawk.
Sharon then continues his shift to the center: Not conceding on security, he continues targeting those terrorist masterminds he can - but accepting Abbas as a peace partner, establishing the Palestinian leadership as an entity that even the former hawk recognizes. He carries out the disengagement, further entrenching himself in the center, becoming the "hero" of the left. At the same time, the Palestinians rush into Gaza and destroy what is left, tainting their victim image in the eyes of the world. Labor, sick of being a weak partner, chucks out perennial loser Shimon Peres and inserts socialist Amir Peretz in his place. The Likud throws Sharon out, and he quickly creates a strong Kadima, including Peres; so strong, in fact, that the Israeli Knesset is expected to have less than 40 seats that are to the left. Fatah is completely unable to reign in Hamas nor control Hamas-run Gaza, and corruption accusations run amok as the Israelis focus on new elections, ignoring the Palestinians completely.
Now, imagine what happens next: Hamas establishes power, and promises not to negotiate with Israel. They promise to build an army, and possibly even close off borders with Israel. They build up a strong - but not overwhelming - force, with support from Iran and Syria, including numerous rockets. Israel watches what is happening, and react accordingly: The right-wing feels it absolutely prudent that the right be part of any coalition - and perhaps win the election. They vote for Netanyahu and the Likud in strong numbers, rather than the assorted smaller parties: Hoping to at best challenge for the Prime Minister position, at worst be the obvious choice as a coalition partner. The center-left, meanwhile, reacts to this in obvious fashion: Backing Sharon and Kadima, to make it as little reliant on the right as possible.
Israeli elections are held, with Sharon's Kadima grabbing a huge amount of seats, perhaps in the mid-to-high 30's. The Likud grabs around 25, with the right-wing and religious parties picking up another 25. The left and Arab parties have less than 40 seats, possibly in the low 30's. Sharon has cemented the strongest center-right Knesset in decades, with almost 3/4 of its members either in Kadima or to its right. Sharon warns that any and all attacks will be viewed as a declaration of war by an elected government of the Palestinian people. The moral argument of the Palestinians has been removed: They are no longer under "occupation."
Hamas threatens to carry out attacks if their demands are not meant; Sharon vows to respond with the full force of the Israeli Army in the event of an attack. The ante keeps being upped, with threats and vows of retaliation on both sides: And then all hell breaks loose. A terror attack is carried out somewhere in Israel - and Sharon keeps his promise. With over 2/3 of the Israeli government voting "Yes", he responds with full military power: Not the door-to-door combat of Operation Defensive Shield, but rather the full force of the Israel Defense Forces - planes, helicopters, and tank battalions. A government of terrorists can no longer say that the terrorists are not under their control. Rather, the attacks perpetrated on the citizens of Israel are by representatives of the Palestinian government - and cannot be accepted.
The terrorist infrastructure is completely destroyed, as are Palestinian hopes for further Israeli concessions. A new Palestinian government, devoid of terrorists, elected by a shattered people, agrees to final status talks, discarding the "right of return" and the hopes of a capital in East Jerusalem, accepting instead Gaza and substantial portions of the West Bank as their new country's borders. Ariel Sharon is hailed Israel's greatest leader since the times of the Bais Hamikdash (Temple), and Israel is finally able to live in peace.
All this, Ariel Sharon saw in his dreams. If only he had been a true prophet, he would have foreshadowed the one, fatal flaw in his plans: It requires an Ariel Sharon to carry it out. No other Israeli leader could possibly continue that which Sharon began; not Netanyahu, not Olmert, and certainly not Peres. Had Ariel Sharon forseen his own demise, and somehow been able to counteract it, we could have had a truly secure Israel, with a true peace, and with true borders. Instead, we now have a country with a dying leader, a broken "peace process," and a ruined Palestinian government that has nobody with which to deal.
All we have now are shattered dreams.
Technorati tags: Hamas, Sharon, Israel, Palestinians, Terror.
This is sickening, courtesy of the Jewish Press editorial board.
In the larger sense the story is primarily about those officials Abramoff corrupted and, of course, about Abramoff himself. But we feel a special sense of loss given that Abramoff identified with Orthodox Judaism. Though he wasn’t raised as an observant Jew and thus was not exposed in his formative years to the Torah’s rigorous moral and ethical codes, any time a breach of this magnitude occurs — and, sadly, there have been other similarly disheartening cases involving Orthodox Jews in recent years — it is a matter of great concern. It should trigger a resolve in all of us to work harder to see to it that such things never occur in our community by drawing attention to the risks of modern-day life and the need for strict adherence to the ethics of Judaism.Wow. I actually had to read the paragraph a couple of times before I could believe what I'd read. The Jewish Press just completely wrote off every single ba'al tshuva who becomes frum after his or her "formative years." Abramoff is corrupt because he didn't grow up observant and wasn't exposed to the Torah's 'rigorous moral and ethical codes'?! It is the 'risks of modern-day life', that ba'alei tshuva have grown up in, that are the problem?
It is a true shame that this paragraph was in the editorial - which was otherwise a sound editorial, questioning those articles that focused on the hat Abramoff wore. But however one tries to read this paragraph, it is impossible to understand it in any way other than a huge slap in the face to those who become observant later in life. A simple removal of those lines would have made the paragraph a very good one, lamenting the problems Orthodox Judaism faces and the need to deal with those issues. Instead, the Jewish Press took a low potshot at ba'alei tshuva and further increased the troubles they already have adjusting to the observant world.
It's too bad I don't subscribe to the Jewish Press. Now I have nothing to cancel.
Technorati tags: Abramoff, Editorial, Jewish Press.
Hamas: A Compilation
We're being told that the huge vote for Hamas is actually a vote against the corrupt PLO chieftains who returned to take over. Along with being a terrorist organization, Hamas is a social service organization. The Palestinian Arabs did not vote for terror or to destroy Israel. They just voted for the party that actually has a chance to improve their day-to-day lives. The party that actually has social programs and builds schools and hospitals. They've promised to deal with corruption and to improve services. They don't rape, pillage and plunder their own population like the PA/Fatah policemen do. They aren't corrupt sleezebags like the PA/Fatah. They aren't into extortion either. Hamas, the anti-corruption party, won't be able to plead ignorance about where the Euros go.
Corruption, poor services and an inability to lead took away whatever credibility Fatah had. But if the key issue had been Fatah corruption, Hamas would have downplayed any differences between the two organizations with respect to relations with Israel. It did not. The interesting part is that for all of its anti-Israel positions, Hamas will have no choice but to deal with Israel in some capacity, or else it will fail the people who elected it. If Hamas refuses to work with Israel at all, the Palestinians won't be able to cross the border at all, and vital services like water and electricity will end up disappearing. Nothing moderates like pragmatism.
At this point Hamas needs Israel much more than Israel needs Hamas, but since there is now a working democracy in Gaza and the West Bank, Hamas has to be much more careful as to how it acts, both in relations to the people and to Israel. There will be no excuses or ambiguities when Hamas fires rockets on Israel and launches suicide attacks against civilian targets. Now, given that they are in the government, any Hamas terrorist attack is an act of war committed against Israel’s civilian population by a hostile foreign country. Israel should have the right to respond in the same fashion that any other nation would respond to an act of war committed against its civilian population by a hostile foreign country. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens when Israel assassinates a Hamas legislator for taking part in suicide attacks.
While some people are upset about the recent turn of events in the Middle East, I would like to approach it from a brighter side: A Hamas win is good for Israel. I would rather Hamas be in power so that it is clearer to us where we stand. I feel this is a better result than us having to deal with double standards of a party that call for peace to the West, and preach war to their own. Israel is better off with opponents who are lousy liars than with opponents who are good at fooling the world.
The world has been asking us to listen to the Palestinians and not to the terrorists. Elections should reflect the will of the people, and this one reflects the will of the Palestinians. Well, the Palestinians have spoken, and it's clear what these people want: It is a resounding "yes" to Israel's destruction. Behind the veil of a voting booth, over half of their population shouted out loud and clear that they are for suicide bombers and they are in favor of the destruction of Israel.
The problem isn't Fatah or Hamas, the problem is the people who elected them.
Pajamas Media, Boker Tov Boulder, & Life-of-Rubin have roundups of many of the bloggers who have already written about the victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections. I'm trying something different with this post, and later will write another one.Technorati tags: Hamas, Fatah, Palestinian, Election, Israel, Terror.
What's "different" about this post? There is nothing original in this post - but the way in which it was put together. This post was compiled by combining quotes from many other posts*, with very slight editing in spots. Please let me know what you think in the comments. Thanks.
* Each period and some other punctuation marks are the links. Perhaps later I will list all the sources.
Saturday, January 28, 2006
This Should Be Funny...
Cindy Sheehan, the peace activist who set up camp near President Bush's Texas ranch last summer, said Saturday she is considering running against Sen. Dianne Feinstein to protest what she called the California lawmaker's support for the war in Iraq.This would actually be great: Feinstein would have to waste a lot of time and money on defeating Sheehan, even though there's no chance Sheehan could actually win. Would this allow a Republican to challenge Feinstein seriously? Maybe.
Should be fun to watch, regardless!
Technorati tags: California, Sheehan, Feinstein, Senator.
First J-Blogger Running For Knesset
I am just trying to find the best way for myself to take an active role in helping the Jewish People achieve their destiny - in the Jewish State, of course.Go give your own.
I didn't make Aliyah to simply settle down and live a quiet life - there are many challenges currently facing the Jewish People and State, and I came here to do my part in helping to overcome them.
The only question that remains is how can I best do that?
Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 1/28
Heh. I just noticed that Chaim already did a roundup of a lot of blogs on this... he missed a few, but check it out.
And as I'm finishing this, I see an excellent post from Chayyei Sarah on a different aspect that nobody else is really talking about. Check it out.
With everyone away on break, we had yet another quiet Shabbos - eating out one meal as Serach and our hostess managed to connect just about everyone in the Jewish world, while our host made important points about the poor treatment Ba'alei Tshuva sometimes get - and how to and not to attract Ba'alei Tshuva. A post on that later, as well...
Here's the roundup:
Important posts first:
Ze'ev is running for office.Holocaust: Irina goes to the UN to commemorate the Holocaust. Waterworks aplenty...
BeyondBT wants to know what to do with some money. What do you think?
AussieDave has a great post that shouldn't be necessary about the JIBs. Please read it. (And see Orthomom's good rant about it, too.) (Oh! Even better! Check out Chayyei Sarah's!)
The Godol Hador says we needn't worry about Documentary Hypothesis.Good Luck!: To Chana, who's interviewing at YU.
DovBear prefers the simple explanation of the frogs in Egypt. Me too.
After hearing another blogger tell him "I Love You", Jameel is writing blog sonnets. Not that there's anything wrong with that...Enjoy!
Mirty publishes an old poem.
Shira waxes poetic on the subway.
Technorati tags: Blog, Roundup, Ezzie.
Friday, January 27, 2006
But, until I do get a chance to sit down, read, and type, check out the first edition of the Kosher Cooking Carnival! And, to join the KCC yourself...
It's almost Shabbat, and I must return to the kitchen. Please send me, either to shilohmuse at yahoo.com or via Conservative Cat's handy form, all of your food posts, as long as they're kosher. Recipes, menus and even special food memories and customs.Still cooking for Shabbos? Looking for ideas for next week? Check it out.
Technorati tags: Kosher, Cooking, Carnival, Recipes, Jewish.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Israel vs. South Africa...
(Hat tip: E-mailer who wishes to remain anonymous)
From time to time, I find something that sounds like it could have come out of my own head. Here, for example, is Mobius of JewSchool:Gioia:...i want to make a point that the reason i draw comparisons between israeli policies and south african policies under the apartheid regime; and the reason i allege that israel's acts of collective punishment constitute war crimes is not because i seek to empower or embolden israel's "enemies" and detractors, but rather because as a jewish person living in israel, i am insensed and outraged by israel's actions in the occupied territories and wish to see an end to the occupation. i do not believe that israel is inherently bad, nor that the israeli leadership is motivated by racism, ethnic supremacism, or messianic delusions. rather i think they are motivated by nationalistic goals that are an outgrowth of 2,000 years of persecution. it is entirely understandable, but the lengths to which they go to secure an ethnic majority are unacceptable. i raise the issue not to call for israel's destruction, but rather to foster internal dialogue within the jewish community and within the israeli community. to do so, one must counteract pro-israel propaganda which dismisses allegations of apartheid and war crimes as unfounded. once we can see what is going on and be honest and upfront about it, we can work to address it and change it.Amen brother. I sign on to this statement 100 + ten percent.
"Some people have asked me if Georgetown will consider the [Palestine Solidarity Movement's] call for divestment from Israel. The answer to that question is no. I do not support divestment from Israel.-- Excerpted from address given by Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia at the University's faculty town hall meeting, January 20, 2006.
It is clear there are a wide range of opinions on the conflict in the Middle East and that the appropriate way for Georgetown University to address the situation is through dialogue, research, and intellectual discovery. Some people have asserted that this situation is analogous to South Africa, where many universities, including Georgetown, did disinvest in the 1980's. I was deeply involved in these issues at the time. Speaking personally, I do not feel that the practice of apartheid is comparable to the complex set of issues involving many parties in the Middle East."
Source: Office of Communications (January 20, 2006)
Now, let me be very clear: I think Mobius' point was actually quite noble, and his intentions pure. He and DovBear are absolutely attempting to ensure that Israel in no way carries out practices that are similar to those that existed in South Africa, even if their intentions are of the highest degree.
Where I split from this is the manner in which this is done. I don't think comparisons to South Africa, when unfounded, do anything but project the image that Israel is in fact an apartheid state that commits war crimes. I disagree with Mobius and DovBear that what happens in Israel stinks of apartheid or is in any way comparable to war crimes, and feel that such assertions do not, as they feel, serve Israel's interests - rather, they hurt Israel from an international perspective and from within. They cause doubt where there should not be any: Yes, we must ensure that Israel never crosses that "line"; however, constantly claiming that it has or is about to when that is not the case merely creates problems where none existed.
I liked Gioia's quote because it was short and to the point: The issues that exist in Israel are far too complex to equate them in any way to what happened in South Africa. To pretend otherwise is simply foolish. There is so much history that exists regarding Israel and its Arab neighbors - to simply write off what goes on there as racist without taking that history into consideration is like looking at a room through a keyhole: You can see a little bit of what's happening, but you can't come close to seeing the whole story.
Open the door, take a good look.
Technorati tags: Apartheid, Racism, Zionism, Israel, South Africa.
Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 1/26
Check out BeyondBT!
And now, on to the rest of the roundup:
*Announcement* On the heels of Haveil Havalim, Batya of Me-Ander (and a few other blogs) has started the Kosher Cooking Carnival! The rules are pretty simple: Submit a recipe that's kosher to shilohmuse at yahoo dot com. I'd suggest actually posting the recipe, and then sending her the link, so it could be more of a carnival than a posting of lots of recipes, but you don't need to be a blogger, so whatever works!
*Post of the Day*
There were a few great ones today, but I'm giving it to Chaim for this post about the lessons we learn from the little things we do when we wake up in the morning. Read the comment by Rod, too.Daily Life:
Jack appreciates the little things that happen at bedtime, too.Gossip:
Chana gets in trouble for being herself. Another amazing post - if you haven't started reading her yet, you don't know what you're missing.
Chaim (via ATC) points out that Alan Dershowitz has responded to what may have been slander - powerfully. I would not want to be on the other side of this letter. Ouch.Israel:
I am happy to be on the other side of a few nice things, however. Normally, I don't point these out, but SoccerDad deserves some praise in return: He was the first person to ever link to me, and I thought that was both kind and flattering - and is what got me involved with the J-Blogosphere. Thanks, David.
DovBear had a great post about why he blogs - and though I disagree with much of what he says, it is posts like this that get me to keep coming back. They're the reason I've said things like the quote he just added to his sidebar:"DovBear is simply... entertaining."It's quite an honor to be on his "Said Behind My Back" list, so I'm flattered. Thanks, DB.
Dave breaks down what Hamas is all about.Torah:
JewBoy wonders what else people are hiding...
BlogHead is back and blogging about R' Kadouri and the Messiah. Good, weird post.
Only Gil could discuss Blessings & TV.Check it out!
Technorati tags: Blog, Roundup, Ezzie.
What A Difference 8-1/2 Years Make
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Wow - 31 years old.... that's just OLD. And yet, you still look like you're 17, even though you're starting to show some gray in there. I can't believe people asked if you were 18 yet during our Sheva Brachos - and then again more recently. Meanwhile, you're blessed with a wonderful wife (just putting up with you is pretty incredible) and two amazing, cute, smart, and hilarious children (bli ayin hara, et al). Your knack at analyzing sports is almost as good as mine, and your kindness and excellent derech eretz are known to all. I'd write more, but then I'd have to really start embarrassing you, so... Happy Birthday Little Brother. ;)
Love, Your Younger, Bigger, Wiser, Greater Brother - Ethzie (& Search and Rescue/Rerach)
PS I'm now halfway to 45. Pretty scary, if you ask me...
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
A Sad Day...
More powerful than any institution, however, is individual power. The way technology is developing, we are progressing toward an Open Source, Free Data world. Open source software like UNIX (which Apple's OS X operating system is built on, as well as most of the servers on the internet) are faster, more secure, and cheaper than proprietary options like Microsoft's offerings. Companies that are too highly dependent on these proprietary systems are in trouble, and ultimately, China will find this out.Though he noted there that Google was kowtowing to Chinese censorship somewhat, I thought that Google would tell China to stuff it in the long-term. Apparently, I was wrong: (via LGF)
A worthwhile sacrifice?! What, the extra money? I don't understand how it can make positive contributions when it is self-censoring - scratch that. I understand it can make meaningful and positive contributions; but it is limiting how much it truly can contribute, and thereby limiting how much the Chinese can contribute in return. This reminds me of CNN in Iraq, though that was a much bigger problem, as CNN was violating journalistic integrity. Google, as its own company, has the right to make any business decisions it wants, and perhaps this is a good one.
Google has agreed to censor search results in China.
SAN FRANCISCO - Online search engine leader Google Inc. has agreed to censor its results in China, adhering to the country’s free-speech restrictions in return for better access in the Internet’s fastest growing market.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based company planned to roll out a new version of its search engine bearing China’s Web suffix “.cn,” on Wednesday. A Chinese-language version of Google’s search engine has previously been available through the company’s dot-com address in the United States. ...
To obtain the Chinese license, Google agreed to omit Web content that the country’s government finds objectionable. Google will base its censorship decisons on guidance provided by Chinese government officials. Although China has loosened some of its controls in recent years, some topics, such as Taiwan’s independence and 1989’s Tiananmen Square massacre, remain forbidden subjects.
Google officials characterized the censorship concessions in China as an excruciating decision for a company that adopted “don’t be evil” as a motto. But management believes it’s a worthwhile sacrifice.
“We firmly believe, with our culture of innovation, Google can make meaningful and positive contributions to the already impressive pace of development in China,” said Andrew McLaughlin, Google’s senior policy counsel.
I just think it stinks.
Technorati tags: Google, China, Censor.
The Politicizing of a Pick
Samuel Alito's confirmation is likely to come very close to being decided on party grounds. This is simply pathetic. I'm not interested in going on and on about this, so I'll state it simply:
The nominees for Supreme Court Justice are not even supposed to be asked what their opinions are. This turned into the "Ginsburg no response" attitude for a while; and this year, the Democrats argued that even this should not be done. That's simply stupid. There is a reason Justice Ginsburg, an outspoken former ACLU head who openly advocated her pro-Roe views, passed 96-3. Justice Breyer passed 87-9. Why? Because they were qualified.
The President of the United States is the one who chooses Supreme Court nominees. He is supposed to choose qualified judges. They can be as conservative or liberal as he would like - as long as they are qualified.  Let me repeat that: They can be as conservative or liberal as he would like - as long as they are qualified. [/edit] Disagreeing with any previous decision of the Court does not deem someone "unqualified"; neither does having a viewpoint on anything. Many polls asked US citizens whether they think Alito should be confirmed if he would overturn Roe vs. Wade, and 2/3 said "No". Apparently, most US citizens have no clue what matters in deciding to confirm a Supreme Court Judge. The American Bar Association gave him its highest rating - do most people even know that?
A number of other bloggers* pointed out the stupidity of Dianne Feinstein, who stated "he's qualified" and in the next breath said she would "vote against him", because she's not sure what he'll rule in certain cases. That's just idiotic. I have yet to hear a single reason why Judge Samuel Alito is "not qualified" that didn't include some future cases that someone is afraid he'll rule a certain way on. Pathetic.
Shame, shame, shame. [/rant]
EDIT: Judeopundit sent me the Feinstein link: Thanks, Yitzchak!
* If y'all [JudeoPundit? Nephtuli? CWY? Others?] e-mail me or leave a comment, I'll put in the links - I'm just not interested in perusing archives now...
Technorati tags: Nominee, SCOTUS, Alito, Feinstein, Questions.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
The J-Blogosphere, Excerpts From
IMPORTANT: Check out this post by ADDeRabbi. I've already done this, but many of you likely have not, and it's important. What's most incredible is the little factoid about the power of the J-Blogosphere.
Then, I noticed that Jewlicious is continuing its own analysis of the JIBs. Of course, they, much like Chaim and myself, have done Best Designed Blog. The only difference is that I did all of the nominees, not just the finalists. Now, if we were all smart, we'd split up the categories amongst ourselves. But no - we're not that smart. So now, all of us have covered "Best Designed". Brilliant. The power of the J-Blogosphere? No - typical Jews, all wanting to do it our own way.
Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 1/24
Now, I know I keep saying this, but I really am going to shorten these roundups and get more selective. Today happened to be a great day, so there are a bunch. I've also been crossing into Haveil Havalim territory a bit too much, though that's going to happen sometimes. And, since I've come to the realization that I'm not going to be able to read every blog post I want to, please feel free to submit posts that you think are good. I like reading them, and enjoy linking to them, and maybe you'll pick up another few readers that way. So, if you've got something you want others to see, or are looking for some more opinions on, or whatever... email me at serandez at verizon dot net. Thanks!
And now, onto the roundup:
*Post of the Day*: ZionReport's Memories Long Gone notes the Jew who is hopefully long gone from our world. I fear that this Jew still exists, in different forms; but not to the extent it ever has in the past.
BeyondBT warns against FFB-bashing, though I hadn't noticed it.Israel:
CrossCurrents has a good post which discusses the importance of pointing out the negative aspects of the Jewish community. I think this is an important point, particularly the early portion of it:Denouncing evil within our community – by the right people, at the right time – in my mind is so clear, that no further proof is necessary.Krum tries to tackle R' Y.B. Soloveitchik's views on Torah & Science at Maven Yavin.
Jameel's post is just interesting and good. I'm not sure how to describe what it's about in shorthand, so just go read it.
MFM/S.'s post is just cool: An Iranian going to Israel to write about its positives.Reminiscing:
IfYouWillIt rants on Israel's obsession with the "fax" - then finds a really great Firefox addition to let you view pages in IE when they only work in IE. Thanks!
Irina waxes poetic about Bialik in a class with Arabs about Israel.
Batya laments the depreciation of the $20 bill...Humor!:
Mirty debates whether to reconnect with her past.
SoccerDad tells an embarrassing story about a stuffed animal from a Shabbos table of the past.
PsychoToddler misses a chance to shut up an idiot.Culture:
Robbie pokes fun at me as he sells out for votes.
The Jesters think Kobe is making a good case for MVP (not acc. to me...), talk about teachers who should be fired, and discuss the Millenial Generation - mine. I normally don't link to so many posts from one place, but I really liked all of them.Check it out!
Chaim is trying to review the JIB nominees now, too. Today: Best Designed Blog.
Orthomom questions the wisdom of winter vacations and parents.
Shoshana questions whether intelligence is a gift.
Technorati tags: Blog, Roundup, Ezzie.
JIB Awards 2005: Finals Voting Begins!
Technorati tags: Jewish, Israel, Blog, JIB, Awards.
Pro-Choice: Choose Life
The interesting group of smart guys at the InterGalacticJester include the Great Brendino*, who wrote an excellent post a few days about hypocrisy among some protesters on the far left at competing abortion rallies last week in San Francisco. I actually plan on writing about that, but while perusing the SF Gate article and pictures the post was related to, I saw this picture:
The woman's stomach reads:
My baby is pro-choice.Now, perhaps the young woman means her baby is choosing to live, but the more likely explanation is that her baby is "pro-choice", or pro-abortion. This would result in the baby's death, which seems pretty illogical from the baby's point of view. Perhaps the mother would die if the child were born, and the noble child wishes to sacrifice its own life for the mother's, but again, I am assuming this is not the case. The lady in the picture seems to be an abortion advocate, plain and simple.
There are a few problems, however. Her very cute attempt at attention for her cause is founded on stupidity. First, it's just plain stupid to claim that an unborn child has a political viewpoint. However, this is obviously meant to make a point, rather than as a serious display of opinion, so let's let that pass. More importantly, if one would project the wishes of an unborn child as to whether it would prefer to live or be killed, the baby would choose life.
But the most glaring idea in this photo is the hypocrisy of the woman. One major piece of logic integral to the pro-abortion movement is the concept that the baby is not a baby, but in fact an unborn fetus. Once a person acknowledges that the fetus is in fact a baby, it becomes stupid not to recognize that baby's abortion as murder. As James Taranto pointed out today, many advocates bend over backward to avoid calling it a baby:
A Baltimore Sun article about abortion law in Maryland contains this curious passage:Much as the Great Brendino pointed out that those who try to silence others in the name of "freedom" are hypocritical, pro-abortion advocates who try and utilize the babies to prove their points are hypocritical. Nobody in their right mind views abortion as a positive which "even the babies want"; the issue is whether the rights of the mother trump that of the child, when, and up to what point.Maryland has some 38 crisis pregnancy centers, where counselors try to persuade pregnant women to have their babies. Many centers are in rural areas that don't have clinics that provide abortions. At least two offer free sonograms, an attempt to emphasize to pregnant women the reality of their fetuses. "It makes a powerful difference when they can see [the fetus]," says Pamela Palumbo, executive director of the Bowie Crofton Pregnancy Center, which sees about 1,000 women a year.Notice that in the quote, the words "the fetus" are in brackets. This is a journalistic convention; it means Palumbo didn't actually say those words, but the reporter has put them in to clarify the meaning. We can't imagine what Palumbo might actually have said.
Some people are just stupid.
* defined by fellow IGJ member Croaky as "'South Park Republican,' Dislikes Conservatives But Really Dislikes Liberals"
Technorati tags: Abortion, Life, Choice, Protests, Rallies, San Francisco.
Yet Another Thanks
I finished my last final for a while tonight, which is a really nice feeling. It may be the last final I ever take in a normal class setting, which is a really really nice feeling. And, while I have plenty of stuff to take care of the next week and a half before I head to Cleveland and Los Angeles, hopefully I'll have some time to sit and write coherent blog posts that I have been hoping to.
Thanks again for visiting!
Monday, January 23, 2006
Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 1/23 (II)
24 was very good tonight - it was one of those set-up episodes, where less happens, but more things are clearly set up for a lot of action in weeks to come. What is great about 24 is that even these episodes are so well done, leaving the viewer hooked to every word. A couple things were illogical, which rarely happens, but all right - they weren't all that important.
And now, the roundup:
PsychoToddler's Dad needs your prayers. It's nice to see his family able to have a good time, though.Check it out!
Jameel rounds up his guest bloggers, now that his son's bar mitzvah has passed. Which of course means we're going to have to read him now... (yawn) Which is great, of course! I'm kidding - the guest bloggers were really incredible, but it's nice to see Jameel back. Plus, I read almost all of the guests anyway, and I'm starting to look at the others now, too.
Shira discovers backlinks - welcome to seeing who's talking about you!
R2JB struggles with "I". Who can help?
I love Robbie (not that way!), but this is just dumb. A mistake we all could make... right?
Shoshana discusses the age-old free will vs. predetermination.
Avi discusses the failing EU economy, but more important is the link he has at the end to an older article. Excellent.
Technorati tags: Blog, Roundup, Ezzie.
Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 1/23
Before people question how seriously I take my school work, I should note that tonight's final is on the basics of PowerPoint, Access, Excel, and Quickbooks. The midterm was in a similar format (called SAM), and I took that one after flipping through one example in a friend's textbook during Literature class for about 30 minutes. I took the test, but missed the next class when everyone was told their grades. Another guy in the class informed me before the following class that most of the class did poorly, with people getting in the 50's and 60's, one guy even getting in the 30's. I asked the professor how I had done, and he looked at me and said, "You got 100" and looked back to what he was doing. I laughed, and said, "No, really! What did I get?" He looked up again, confused, and said, "You really got 100." Most of the class turned around, I thanked him, and figured I deserved a night off.
Anyways, on to the roundup, which is pretty random today, so it's not divided into topics:
BTA signs off. I'm hoping he'll change his mind - whatever you think of what he had to say, it forced people to think about their beliefs and much more. BTA, I'll miss your insights, though I'm hoping that the end of your blog does not mean the end of BTA.For all who couldn't tell, that was just the first half of my blogroll. Signing off for now, enjoy!
MCAryeh asks what crazy things you've done for love.
ADDeRabbi outs himself - what do anonymous bloggers do when people figure them out?
Shifra's kids recognize what we often miss: It's not where you go that makes things fun, it's having fun that makes things fun.
BeyondBT continues to churn out good post after good post about adjusting to a frum lifestyle - and just had their first event!
DovBear links to a couple of good posts which discuss the spammer problems we all face:I wanted to put a link to my site reading "Link Whores Welcome Here" beneath David and Meryl's latest pronouncements, but I worried they might not appreciate the metajoke.Godol Hador discusses the problems with Zero-Tolerance Policies, and wonders about a solution.
IfYouWillIt says why he blogs.
Irina asks about Jewish identity.
Ze'ev discusses the surprising courtesy of the Israeli police.
Aussie Dave rips into Ha'aretz for being to the left of the Palestinians.
JoeSettler responds to racist accusations.
Krum discusses... art?
LabRab talks about elevators, Christians, and tolerance.
Technorati tags: Blog, Roundup, Ezzie.
1 + 1 = 1
For all who don't know this, I run a football pool for a bunch of friends, which has grown to include people I don't know as well - almost 40 people took part this year, with about 25 of them in the pool for the whole season. Most of the guys in the pool are pretty knowledgeable about their football, so to win a week is not all that easy: There's always going to be a few upsets, it's a matter of knowing where to put your picks and weights so they don't hurt you too much.
Now, I pride myself on being pretty good at picking the winners of games, and which teams have a better chance of being upset than others, etc. Over the 17-week season, I won four times (one of them a tie) - twice when using a system I devised, and twice when I didn't use the system. [Ironically, those were the only two weeks I didn't use the system, but that's another story...] When the playoffs began, though our pool was over, I picked the winners of the Wildcard games - and was 4-0. In the Divisional Playoffs, I was surprised when I went just 2-2, but I think almost everyone was surprised that Indianapolis played so poorly, and most people thought New England should beat Denver.
Then came this week. A couple friends have an apartment nearby, so I went over there to watch the game with a bunch of friends. While many people disagreed with me on who I picked, I don't think anybody expected to see what we all did. Utter embarrassment.
I felt like an idiot, watching the Carolina and Denver offensive lines let people just walk right through them. I was shocked to see Shaun Alexander just run right over the Carolina defense. I was appalled that Jake Plummer, who convinced me last week that he's not a train wreck waiting to happen, was a train wreck extraordinaire. I couldn't believe that Carolina's play-calling was so obvious, we were able to predict what they were doing half the time. I was amazed that Denver fell apart so rapidly after they made mistakes, and that they kept blitzing when it was suicidal.
Overall, I was floored. And humbled. I'm rooting for the Seahawks in the Super Bowl, but I really have no clue who's going to win. As of now, I'll say the Steelers... but who knows, I'm on quite a roll lately.
Technorati tags: NFL, Playoff, Picks.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Haveil Havalim #54 is up!
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.”Check it out!
Last week: Elie of Elie's Expositions hosted #53.
Next week: Kesher Talk hosts #55 - e-mail submissions to Judith at yehudit at keshertalk dot com.
Technorati tags: Haveil Havalim, Blog Carnivals, Jewish, Israel, Blogging.
"This Is Embarrassing"
And it is - just as watching Jake Plummer get hunted down all game with no blocking and throwing the most pathetic interception before the half was embarrassing. (And cost me a meal at Sushi Mitsuyan!!)
Oy. Carolina better turn things around FAST.
Why They'll Win
Today are the AFC & NFC Championships. This is why I think the Carolina Panthers will be playing the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XL.
A lot of people are looking at the teams in the Championship games, and thinking, "Oh, the Patriots and Colts didn't make it, the Bears didn't make it... the NFC isn't good anyway... it's not going to be great football." They're wrong: These are the 4 teams that spent the year not making mistakes. They are the most all-around teams; they are the most consistent teams.
Pittsburgh @ Denver:
A reader of this blog (whom I just met last week for a second) asked me on the way out of Mincha very quickly, "Super Bowl picks?" I laughed, apologized for not posting them yet, and then quickly said "Panthers and Broncos." He asked something along the lines of, "Steelers didn't convince you yet?" I responded simply, "The Broncos convinced me more."Carolina @ Seattle:
And they did. Sure, the Patriots got the short end of the stick: A bad interference call, the interception return that should have been a touchback, etc. But when it came down to it, the Broncos flat out-played them - and they didn't even play all that well, statistically. Meanwhile, the Steelers completely out-performed the Colts for 55 minutes: And still almost managed to lose the game.
A few factors that will play into this game: Mile-High Stadium. Notice the Broncos had 24 yards in penalties last week on 4 penalties; the Patriots had 8 for 82, though granted a lot of that was on the interference that wasn't. But that's the "disciplined" Patriots - the Steelers had a lot of trouble in the Bengals game because of the noise. Last week, they avoided what I thought would be a problem by scoring fast and early. This week, what I said will apply a lot more:A very good Bengals analyst noted last week that the crowd noise was a difference, not because the Steelers were getting called for false starts and the like; but rather, because the O-line has to react when they see the snap, and not a half-second earlier when they hear a snap count. That half-second difference allows the opponents' line to get that push the Steelers' O-line normally gets - and that's huge.Cowher vs. Shanahan: I'm always unimpressed by Cowher. He continually makes poor decisions at crucial junctures in the game. He's trying too hard not to lose to actually win the game. Shanahan does no such thing: He's out to win the game outright. Look at Cowher's decision last year to take a field goal on 4th & Goal from the 2. He was down 14: The FG cut it to 11, which means he needed a FG and a TD AND a 2-point conversion to tie. What's a 2-point conversion? The same thing as 4th & Goal from the 2. So by not doing it this time, he now needed to get an extra drive for a FG, and he'd still need to make that 4th & 2. What an idiot. What was he trying to do?!
Denver's offense: The Steelers can't play the same type of game they did last week against the Colts. Jake Plummer is not as good as Peyton Manning; but the Denver line is better than the Colts, Plummer is better out of the pocket than in, and Denver focuses on a running attack rather than a passing attack. The Steelers' defense is good, but the Broncos' offense is better.
It's going to be a very good game - but the Broncos will prevail. One last note: Ben Roethlisberger is no better than your typical journeyman quarterback on 2nd-and-8 or more and 3rd-and-6 or more - in other words, when the running game gets stuffed. His strength is on play-action and surprise passes on running downs, not typical passing downs. If the Broncos can stop the Steelers' running game as they did the Patriots', Big Ben won't seem too big after all.
Seattle is good. Carolina is just better. The Seahawks are a good, solid, consistent team. But they really didn't beat anyone all year. They scored 20 points off of Washington last week, which isn't bad - but it's not great, either. They held the Redskins to 10 points, which is good - but it's not as if the Redskins could score too much off of any really good defense, as they showed against the Bucs in the first round.All right, it's time to go watch. And when the Steelers lose, I get a nice meal at Sushi Mitsuyan, don't I, David? :)
Home-field advantage: Almost non-existent. The Panthers are 8-2 on the road, don't seem to have any trouble with noise, and get a nice jump every game to shush the crowd. Yes, the Seahawks are 9-0 at home, but the best team they played was the Giants - and they only won because Jay Feely shanked 3 kicks. (The Colts weren't playing to win in Week 16.)
Steve Smith: Wow. I never understood how good he was until seeing the highlights from last week. He's just so... fast! He's big, he has moves, he has great hands, and nobody can seem to keep up with him. Yes, the Seahawks have good corners - but the other Panthers receivers are pretty solid as well, and the Seahawks' pass defense was ranked 25th in the league. He's not going to get 218 yards this week. But he'll get enough of them when it counts.
Shaun Alexander vs. the Panthers D-line: The Panthers will shut him down. Alexander is one of the best running backs in the league in a long time - as long as you ignore his inability to rush against great rush defenses in important games. The Panthers have shut down good back after good back - Alexander will be no different. Coming off a concussion doesn't help much, either.
It's time for some NFL PLAYOFF FOOTBALL!!!!!!
Technorati tags: NFL, Playoff, Picks.