Monday, October 30, 2006

More so than the wind...

...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!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Halcyon, below, wonders about dress pictures. Well, here are not one, but two lovely dresses (not to mention their wearers).
And here's another. OK, so there was a photographer to pose for, not me, but still lovely.

Speaking of Halcyon, no offense to her, but the latest addition to my stamp collection is a Beauty and the Beast issue. Now, I can understand, say, a Cinderella issue, or even Lady and the Tramp- those came out years ago, and certainly at least some are real (American) classics. But a 1990's film? It smacks too much of commercialism, "vault" notwithstanding.

Hmm. Wanted to mention Schroder, but after the last paragraph, I'll steer clear. Another time, in a more political post. Ta for now!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Mazal Tov!

A picture is worth a thousand words. So here are 3,000:

Rabbi Rakeffet, Mesader Kiddushin.

My Dad, doing what's becoming second nature for him, although the Rabbinate threw him for a loop at first. Well, it's what they do best. (That's the back of David Bat's head, by the way.)

This picture is the best. So classic.

Well, with the captions, that's a bit over 3,000. But why not? Mazal tov all around, especially to the new couple! And a special thanks to everyone who made it possible.

Yeah, I've got some more topical stuff, including some political memories from waaaay back, but it can all wait. Enjoy the pix.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Greetings from Israel!

Well, almost three weeks in, I'm really starting to enjoy. My little eye problem turned out to be much more than that, and I ended up spending more than a week (total) in a hospital here in Jerusalem. But hey, it's not like I had a million things planned.

The eye is on its way to getting all the way better- a few drops, a few checkups- and I'm squeezing in what I can in the oh-so-little time I have left. Went to the Israel Museum today; the walk home, as always, was much tougher than the one there, due to the extra weight of all the books I picked up. (And on the way there, I inadvertently took what is literally the scenic route. Lovely- got some pictures, but not sure how good they are.) Saw the scrolls (again)- even took a tour- the newly moved model, and just a bit more, namely, the terrific exhibit on bread. (God bless whoever invented the concept of an exhibition catalog. I didn't even get to the main building, but got a catalog of an exhibit I missed, plus the bread one. Seriously, if you're here, go see the bread.) Oh, if I had the time, I'd go back. But I think I'll just get more books.

The wedding is tomorrow! And I'm expected to speak, or MC, or something. I will try to report back with all the news, photos, and more. For now, here's the now-famous shot, via Arutz-7, of Nechama and Michael at the Kotel during the recent war:

As Jelly, obm, says in Analyze This (and in a similar context), "Nice, huh?"