Monday, December 27, 2004

Chaviv Adam SheNivra'a B'Tzelem...

...or, as a more recent writer put it, "[A]ny man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in makind..."

It's difficult to live up to that standard, especially in the light of massive natural disasters, but it's a goal we should strive for.

It's best to read this as well. God bless us, every one.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

One more thing

If you were the Prime Minister of Spain, this Shoemaker fella, and had been elected due to an outbreak of national cowardice, don't you think you'd rather sweep that under the table? Instead, he's actually trumpeting it! "Yeah, we got elected due to Islamic terror, and the previous government tried to say it was Basque!" Man.


Look, I'm as much for seeing baseball back in DC as the next guy. I feel it's important that the nation's capital have a team from the national pastime. But if the people of the city feel they're being screwed, they have the right to reject it. Indeed, they should reject it, or look for a better deal.

Of course, the good white liberals of the city are doing their usual, treating those poor ignorant black citizens like children. There was a great picture in a story yesterday: A black DC councilwoman voting "no," and the white councilman next to her (a Democrat, of course) covering his face in anguish and disbelief. What, she doesn't want you spending her hard-earned money on a stadium? How ignorant! The horror!

Speaking of liberal condenscension, there's this doozy from a otherwise-OK Times article on police revolvers today: "More than anything else, it is carrying a gun - the daily familiarity of it, the expectation that it must be used on a second's notice - that most sets apart the police from the policed."

Of course. No ordinary citizen (least of all the criminal element, the "policed") owns guns, and none should. Only police know how to properly use one. Reminds me of Mayor Bloomberg's answer to a question of why a councilman (a retired policeman) was carrying an (unused that day) pistol when he was shot: "I don't know. Guns kill people." Um, Mayor Mike: That would include the gun that another cop used to kill the assailant, right?

Speaking of New York, I was watching flocks of gulls and pigeons dueling in the skies over Main Street while waiting for the bus today (and hoping I wouldn't be caught in the, um, crossfire), so this nice piece from the New York Press comes to mind.
There's a funny juxtaposition of articles on the front page of this week's Forward:

"Holiday Invite List Showcases White House's Tie to Orthodox", about how the President, this holiday season, is meeting with lots of Orthodox leaders, but few Reform and no Conservative.


"Top Conservative Rabbi Floats Idea Of 'Peace Holiday'", in which Jerome Epstein- who appears, complaining, in the first article- gives us that crackpot idea.

Gosh, Rabbi Epstein- do you think the irrelevance and leftism you demonstrate in the second article have anything to do with what results in the first?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Which leads me to wonder: Why is the Religious-Zionist community in Israel so enamored of charedim? Arutz-7, for example, is always protesting budget cuts to that community. Part of it may be their audience, part may be that the national-religious have never been overly "modern" in outlook, and part may be an overall right-wing trend in modern Orthodoxy, but after the current events, with the chareidi parties screwing everyone (and I do mean everyone, except for tired Likud and Labor hacks) to get some more cash, they're still at it?
YU has a summer plan for 11th graders- "Prepare for your time in YU" and all. Very nice idea indeed. The program, however, is typical of current YU student viewpoint- lots of Jewish-subjects learning and choices in courses in business or medicine (for men) or computers or medicine (for women). Liberal Arts? Humanities? Social Sciences? Ha! It's becoming a professional school.

Ironically, the picture they choose to illustrate this program is of the facade of the main branch of the New York Public Library- which contains, as its name says, only Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences material. The Business and Science library is a few blocks downtown, actually not far from Stern. But not as photogenic.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

By the way, if you were wondering if the weekend lived up to my hopes, the answer is, yes, it did. In spades. And now for the last candle! Later, y'all.
Very funny:

Sign taped to lamppost: "LOST: 18-karat gold wedding band of great sentimental value."

Penciled underneath: "Answers to 'My precious.'"

Also in yesterday's paper: I'm a cynic. Sue me. How much is this couple getting in 9/11 money for their "Center"? And what the hell is in the water in Crown Heights?

Speaking of getting government grants, there was also this. The New York Press already pointed this out, I think: Partying in a club 'till 2 AM? Get a cab! Ah, "charity" for the upper class.

Finally, to finish catching up with yesterday: Misheguneh Cockamamie is mad. I should get this book.
Blackmail threat of the day:

Credit card industry specialists had surmised that a deal between American Express and Citibank was imminent. In November, American Express filed a lawsuit against Visa, MasterCard and eight major banks seeking monetary damages for the business it said it lost as a result of the defunct rules. Notably absent from the list of banks were MBNA and Citigroup.

Mr. Chenault said that similar deals were still possible with the companies American Express is suing, which include J. P. Morgan Chase, Capital One, Bank of America and Wells Fargo. "The fact that compensation is owed to us for past misconduct should not stop banks from entering into partnerships with us and doing the right thing for their customers and their shareholders," he said.

Play ball with us or we'll sue you. Nice.
Seems like most others share my feelings about cellphones on flights. Good.

Dumb question of the day: "If these words and concepts [intellectual, liberal, secular] are a force for good in Islamic culture, why are they discredited here in our own? The words have the same meaning whatever the context."

Simple answer: No. No, they do not.

Zot Chanukkah

You know what would be nice? If all the Chanukkah decorations put up to complement the Christmas ones were removed tomorrow evening, when the holiday ends. After all, Chanukkah is Chanukkah and Christmas is Christmas, and I don't see why menorahs have to stay out just because the holiday season isn't over yet.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Exactly what we need...

...cellphones on planes. It's bad enough pre-take off. Yuck.

It's been a busy (and enjoyable) last few days, and the weekend promises more of the same (I hope). Hope y'all have a good one, a Shabbat Shalom and a Happy Chanukah!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Back in law school, I worked in a Legal Services clinic that was, not to put too fine a point on it, quite left-wing. In our first seminar, we were treated to the "two theories" (the only two, mind) of why welfare is distributed: Either it's a way to help the poor or, to take the Marxist view, a way to keep them under control. No mention of the idea that it's a misguided way to help the poor, let alone the more cynical view that it's a way to preserve them as a voting bloc.

As I consider it, though, I'm starting to ponder the Marxist idea more. Every time a liberal's (not every liberal, to be sure- certainly not the feminists) argument about abortion, for example, boils down (or begins with) a point about unwanted children filling welfare rolls and prisons, I consider it. Of course, that may just be an extreme argument they reserve for those opposed, either from a "how are you going to raise them" angle or a "this is how fascists like you think" one. Or it may be Marxist thinking they've heard bubbling out. But I wonder nonetheless how much of liberals' "care" for the lower classes is just so much paternalism and/or fear.

Two links:

A good piece- but my God, it's bad up north.

Squandered opportunities, the biggest tragedy. I agree wholeheartedly.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Pearl Harbor Day...

...and congratulations and best wishes for a bright future to Mr. Karzai and his nation.

An odd line in a Times obit:
Jane Bancroft, Mr. Hansen's wife of 51 years, died in 1994. He once described
their relationship as that of a gay man and a woman who happened to love each
other. "Here was this remarkable person who I wanted to spend the rest of my
life with. We were married 51 years. So something was right about it, however
bizarre it may seem to the rest of the world," he said.

This alone should cause us to ask all sorts of questions of what defines "gay" in our world today; the politics behind such definitions, and much, much more.

Immediately following the above, the kicker:
The couple had a daughter who later had gender reassignment. He is Mr. Hansen's
only survivor.

And a nice line from an interview with a German Nobel-winning scientist (come to think, they should eliminate all but the science Nobels):
Back in 1999, I hoped my gesture would be an example, particularly in Germany,
where people can be very stingy about charity. In the United States, the wealthy
have a tradition of charity. But in Germany, the rich say: "We pay taxes. It's
enough." Once I did this, many rich Germans called me saying they wanted to meet
this crazy man who gave away $1 million. And so, the Friends of Dresden raised
much, much more.

Maybe snotty Europeans (and domestic liberals) should take a long look at both halves of that equation.

Monday, December 06, 2004

The Rambam (Maimonidies) once wrote a letter in which he described a trip to Israel. In it, he mentions that he went up to the "Great and Holy House of God," which many see as a reference to the Temple Mount. As if to reinforce that point of view, he writes that he's made the day he went up a personal holiday.

I just came across that letter again, and it's reminded me to set the 15th of Kislev as the day I mark. I hereby set it down.

Another letter of mine- with a point I made below- made it to The Corner! (Edited to add: Someone else succeeded with my technique. Hee!)

This may reveal more about the cynical pathways of my mind than I'd like, but shortly after 9/11- it may have been the very day, with the Towers still standing, for all I know- I recall thinking, "I bet some relatives of victims didn't get along at all with the deceased, and will now gladly use this tragedy as a springboard for whatever agendas they may have." Oh, come now, you think. Well, I remember Mr. Zelmanowitz' sister, whom he hadn't spoken to in years, immediately launched into an anti-Afghan (!) war crusade using his name. And the more the "9/11 Widows" (I mean the agitators' group we usually think of when we use that term- "The Jersey Girls," as Rush calls them- not the whole generic class) shrilly attack Republicans and the President whenever they get a chance- this week, it's intelligence reform- I'm reminded of my initial impression.

Uncharitable? Maybe. Unseemly of them? Without a doubt.

The World Almanac used to have a rule: Wait until after the World Series in odd-numbered years and after the election in even-numbered ones, so as to get the information in. I think they gave up in 2000, what with the long election count, and not only don't wait for election results anymore, but don't even include the Series. I'm not sure what the problem is- it's still published in mid-November, and I imagine printing technology has improved so they can take even less time. Maybe it's competition from other publishers, but I still don't like it.

Speaking of baseball, the DC team is going with "Nationals," the official name of the original Senators for almost all of that team's existence. The reasons they didn't go with the obvious (the latter name) were, I think, because another team (Minnesota? Texas?) still owned the name (which makes sense), and because the mayor of DC argued that Washington has no senators (which is stupid). In any event, it's a nice touch of historical awareness (as "Grays" would have been) so why not? I can always go for history. (And, unlike before, it's even an NL team.)

Well, it's nice that they have a team again. It would have been nice had Bonds not messed up his pursuit of Aaron (would said pursuit then have existed?), but that's another story.