...the cold weather, the end of the Chagim, the beginning of Cheshvan and Tachanun, or the end of daylight time, it's when things get temporarily just a bit warmer is when you know winter is nigh (even if it's a few months from now). Said a woman on the elevator, "It feels like Monday morning every day." Replied I, "Yeah, especially when it is."
Forgive me if I don't believe anything on the news anymore. The latest breathless report has something to do with missing weapons in Iraq. Anyone get a sense of deja vu? Wasn't there a story just like this right before the elections two years ago? The New York Times was supposed to break it a day or so before the election, but their partner in the story, CBS, jumped the gun by a few days, enough time for the bloggers to prove there was absolutely no substance to the tale.
Anyway, I'm comforting myself with memories of 1990. Anyone remember that election? (Yeah, I'm either a geezer or someone who was into politics at way too young an age. Take your pick.) That was the year the Congressional incumbents, dogged by numerous scandals (the Capitol Post Office, bad checks, etc.) were finally going to get the boot. Even the MSM (there wasn't really much else) got into the act. As I remember, in wasn't treated as a partisan thing (although most of the culprits were, if only by default, Democrats, and I'm sure that fact was glossed over) but as an incumbency one. And, I believe, somewhere from ninety-eight to one hundred percent of incumbents were re-elected. Even Time was shocked enough to run a stunned headline afterwards.
So I'm using that as a hope that Republicans won't do so bad this year. Of course, it's not why I'd want them to win- I'd much more prefer the merits, and they, alas, have few. But the stakes are too high. The crazies in Iran, Iraq, and so on do watch the news.
Moving locally, the news is abuzz with New York City's attempts to ban trans-fats. "They're bad for you!" yell the mini-fascists of Centre Street. (I'm just waiting for "the children" to come up, if they haven't already.) "It'll cost us too much!" respond the restaurant owners, doubtless leftists themselves, and, as per my current main pet peeve, unable to think out of the box. Well, forgive me for being all 1776 here, but why is no one talking about FREEDOM? It's things like this that really get the libertarian in me bubbling to the surface. Next report: The city wants calories listed on menus. "Such-and-such a burger has over 2,000 calories!" the newsreader gasps. Again, pardon me for shouting, but WHO CARES? I don't think I eat many trans-fats, whatever they are, myself, but aren't we free human beings, Americans, and New Yorkers? To these social engineers, apparently not.
Speaking of which, news is that Al Gore has been hired to consult the British government about pixie dust, or fairies, or global warming, or something. Apparently it has the power to hurt the economy more than the Depression and both World Wars. (Our lives are safe, it seems.) The watermelon socialists are worried about the economy? Right. See "social control," above. Maybe I should be grateful that they have to pretend, at least, to care about the economy, but I choose not to.
As long as we're in Europe, Gerhard Schroder has decided to grace us with his memoirs. Apparently Bush's mentions of God and religion offended him, the poor delicate flower. And, of course, he'd like us to know that he (unlike the barbarians across the Atlantic) believes in the separation of church and state. Well, he was the chancellor of a country that collects your tax dollars and gives them to the church of your choice. Bush is president of a country that forbids, to the extreme and ridiculous degree, anything that even vaguely resembles that. But Schroder's the good guy here, huh?
Well, I had a great weekend, with my old buddy Michael staying over, a Carlebach minyan, and more. Good times. I thought I'd share a story I told him as part of the discussion we had about a shiur we attended:
I stopped by the Judaica store down the block from the office last week to check out the latest. There was a whole rack of new gedolim biographies for kids, lavishly illustrated but a bit light on content. By their appearance, they seemed to have been produced in the Israeli Charedi world and, perhaps, translated for the American market.
Anyway, one of them was of R' Yonasan Eibeschitz. I flipped through it to see if there was any mention of R' Emden, but no such luck, not that I expected it. Anyway, no big deal. Like I said, it was mostly fluff, standard gadol stuff. ("Great man, wrote seforim.")
About half the book, in fact, was dedicated to a single story about R' Yonasan as a kid, which ends with an anti-Semite being dragged off to the police. The picture illustrating that scene is also the one chosen for the cover. And the funniest thing? The police station (northern Europe, early 1700's) bears the insignia of the Israeli police. Oh, the Charedim may like to pretend that they're not influenced by Zionism (of course, the usage here proves they're not actually Zionists), but they are. They are. It's like the Yiddish professor we rented a place from last year complaining that Israeli Charedi Yiddish isn't pure, as they say, for example, "Mishtara" instead of "Politzei." (He was pretty happy to meet my parents.) Now, if only they'd realize what they owe to the Zionism that is influencing them...well, maybe in time.
'Nuff for now. Later, all!