Thursday, May 19, 2005

A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.
-Oscar Wilde

I was just thinking about that quote yesterday, about someone I know, but today's New York Times brought it fresh to mind. A few days ago, I went to Ground Zero to take the subway. The way the station is built there, you get a full view of what's going on down there. Or what's not going on down there, rather: After almost four years, there's nothing at all. A disgrace.

So I was quite heartened to see this by Deroy Murdock. He's been pushing this plan for a while, and I've been coming around to his point of view, especially in light of the scandals involving Pataki and friends. Donald Trump is a very good shot in the arm for this.

Of course, the Times had to weigh in with a rather snide piece. And that's where the cynicism comes in. I'll admit that the details of building, leasing, and so on are tough. But where's the vision, the idea of the value of a plan? As far as I can see, the Donald has that much more than the Times.

A few choice quotes to fisk from the article:
Donald J. Trump, reality television star, fragrance entrepreneur and developer
of tall buildings, revealed his answer to the problems at the World Trade Center
site yesterday. That answer, perhaps unsurprising, was himself.
The greatest architects and builders have all been ruthless self-promoters. That's how great projects get done.
Mr. Trump's model was designed by his structural engineer, Kenneth Gardner
Also a designer of the original Twin Towers. No mention of that here.

"If he has such grand ideas and imaginative thoughts," said Thomas Rogér, whose daughter Jean was a flight attendant on the plane that hit the north tower, "where was he three years ago when the master planning was going on?"

He called Mr. Trump's proposal and timing "in poor taste," and said they did not reflect the wishes of the majority of families. "The towers are not a memorial to the people who died there," he said. "If anything it is a bitter reminder of how people died."

Joanna Rose, the spokeswoman for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, said in an e-mail message: "Donald Trump is entitled to his opinion, just like the millions of people who actually involved themselves in the public planning process, which resulted in the master plan."

Involved? No one was "involved." The whole design was settled in a backroom process. And you know how I feel about the professional victims.
But other projects have fallen short or have been plagued with financial
problems. He built the tallest residential building in the world on the East
Side, but not, as once promised, "the tallest building in the world" on the West
Side, nor the spaceship-shaped skyscraper he proposed for Columbus Circle, where
the Time-Warner Center now stands.
The last "two" projects are one and the same, and were not built not due to any fault of Trump, but due to opposition of community groups. You know what they can be like.

And hey, they brought it up, so I'll ask this: What's Libeskind's record? Did you know he's never built a tall building in his life? And he's the architect, not someone with an idea.

Anyway. Good luck to all pushing this idea.

As long as I'm linking New York Times and National Review articles, take a look at the first item at Impromptus- second paragraph, and then the third paragraph here. My reaction was exactly the same as Nordlinger's when I saw the latter. Funny how predictable these people can be.

One more piece from the Times, and on to better things. Do you notice the word "Jew" in this piece, or any other on the subject? Do you think it should be there? Do you notice that every time they talk about this issue, they have to bring up a Russian with an obviously Jewish name to justify themselves? ("We have lots of Jewish friends!")

Eh. I'm with the guy at the end: Soccer is "the world's foremost collection of men in their underwear playing the most boring sport on the face of the planet." Although he can afford to lay off the Trekkies- we've had a tough week.

Speaking of which, here's Lileks' column on the end of Enterprise. (Update: Another piece by him here.) Magnificient. Keckler's recap is also amazing, particularly her last line. Yeah, I'm a softie.

Finally, Kol HaKavod to Menachem Butler for the year of YUdaica in the Commentator. Well appreciated by the Lamms. Chazak V'Ematz! SOY's gain is our loss.

Off to the reunion soon! Later, y'all!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

A nice, quiet, relaxing Shabbat. What more can one ask for? During the Carlebach davening at the Barris', I closed my eyes for a second and was transported to the NCSY Shabbatonim of my past. Ah, "Truly youth is wasted," etc. And a lovely kiddush the next day, to top it all off. A bit of a silly moment during said kiddush, but I shan't post it here- ask me if you must know.

Now this is quite silly, from a generally silly source (with a lousy website, as long as I'm piling on them):
There could be the sense that here you have the two most visible representatives
of Southern religious conservatism both being taken down at least a peg and maybe just taken down — because of their relationship with Abramoff...There will be some who will paint with a broad brush and say, this is what happens when you make coalitions with these cursed people, the Jews."
Huh? What's this constant desire to find disaster for the Jews? (Abe Foxman, I'm lookin' at you.)The religious right actually disliked Clinton, and he was surrounded by Jews. Did we ever hear a peep about that? Perhaps the warm feelings toward Israel and Jews are genuine- did they never consider that?

Man, am I gald we decided not to get that paper anymore. I bet they keep sending it, though.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

We're told that a Columbia professor asked a student who had been in the IDF, "How many Palestinians have you killed?"

Wouldn't it be delicious to be able to answer, "Not nearly enough, apparently!" Sure, that'd be an outrageous reply, but people in ivory towers, academic or otherwise, sometimes need a good firm jolt into reality, I think.

The Times' new dead horse to be beaten is women in the sciences. It seems like not a Science or Education section goes by without a glowing piece about how, "See, woman do succeed in science!" Of course, the arguments are irrelevant and completely off point to what Summers said, but hey.

Speaking of the Times, there's this winner of a column today. Most troubling bit, outside of its ridiculous premise and assumptions? The way that even the "educated" Democrats have bought into the hate-Bush lingo- "shrub" and whatnot being used automatically. I'd expect some of them to have intelligible arguments, just as many Republicans didn't go around for eight years talking about "Slick Willie."

Monday, May 02, 2005

Isru Chag Sameach!

Kaputnik (a.k.a Dave Berg o.b.m.): Doctor, don't tell me I'm going to
have to give up wine, women, and song.

Doctor: Not all three, Kaputnik. You can sing your
fool head off!

Walking home from shul yesterday, my father mentioned in passing that his uncle (my brother's namesake) was never much impressed by high-falootin' American rabbis, considering that the rabbi in Brody when he was growing up (late 19th Century) was R. Yitzchak'l Chayes, whose house had a dirt floor. The name "Chayes" set off all sorts of alarms in my head, and when we got home, I checked out the Encyclopaedia Judaica, and sure enough, he was the son of the Maharatz Chajes (who was born in Brody himself). And my great-uncle knew him. How cool is that?

Now I'm considering buying Gil's latest. Hmmm.

Speaking of Hirhurim, it's good to see that someone's started this blog.

I saw this story when it first happened, but I like the coda they add at this site. "Magic gypsy machines." Hee!

Looks like a crazy day tomorrow, because of inflexible scheduling. Lovely. Puts me right in the mood for this meeting. I looks like it'll end a little better, though. Please God.

Edited to add: One more funny link. What it links to...not so much.