Monday, December 03, 2007

"Gonna crack my knuckles and jump for joy..."

" a clean bill of health from the people of Venezuela!"

(And yeah, I'm a bad Trekkie for thinking it was "click my heels.")

Russia, not so much. Didn't really expect anything better.

As for Sudan, I think the funniest line is this:
This case has done quite a bit of damage to how the Sudanese government will be
Oh, because before they were the most admired country on Earth, huh?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Chutzpah Redux

Looking over my archives, I see I've already once used the phrase "It takes some kind of chutzpah..." Well, I'm going to use it again regardless, and still about charedim:

Reading reports from the Agudah convention (and posts done before then), it takes some kind of chutzpah to carry on for over seventy years about how modern Zionism is wrong, is un-Jewish, has failed (a favorite meme among them, and patently false to anyone who can see), the modern State means nothing, etc. etc., and then, when access to your precious Koysel is threatened, to moan and complain and say that Yerushalayim must remain under Israeli control. Can't these people see the cognitive dissonance they live with? Didn't they realize, all these years, who it was who was enabling them to go to the Kotel, to have yeshivot, to live off the dole? Do they even recognize it now?

Come to think, it takes a really special kind of chutzpah to have actively enabled the turnover of territories and expulsion of Jews for years, and then only wake up now. What, the people of Gush Katif weren't "black" enough for you?

Eventually, it all becomes quite sad, as even halakha is trampled underfoot. Poor man. I wonder if I could ever be a mouthpiece.

Speaking of which, yasher koach to the Machon HaMikdash. When I heard the tzitz was being remade a year or so ago, I was a little nervous they'd mess up the lines to be more "frum" or something, but they did a really good job. (Didn't touch the lines, in fact.) There's a group I'll depend on over the Agudah (and their spokesmen) any day. That said, I think I'm a bad Jew for laughing when I hear "New research has come to light."

Oh, and here's a good piece from R' Mandel. An oldie and a goodie.

Anyway, it was a good weekend. At the Kollel Yom Rishon this morning (two very good shiurim, as always), Dr. Goldberg asked me what R' Leiman spoke about. "Well, there's this new Artscroll book on Aleppo..." I began, "...and he ripped it to shreds," he concluded. Hee. What's especially pleasing is that I smelled something fishy about that book lo these two years plus past, but you need a scholar like him (and Dr. Zohar) to put their finger on it. That, a Carlebach Friday night, and a good session with the chavrusa, and...

...yes! Take a look at these photos. Sorry they're a bit dark- it was snowing today and not much natural light was coming in. The Eldridge Street Synagogue has been undergoing renovations for decades (I've visited a few times during that period, so I can attest to the huge amount of work that's gone into it), and they finally reopened to the public today:The view from outside, which my ultra-cool camera flipped automatically.

A few interior shots- the western rose window, the ceiling, and the eastern view- note how one of the two luchot is new, as they had to replace it, while the other was left in the state they found it. Finally, the famous pushke. When we visited with Dr. Gurock once, he pointed out how the shul collected for Yeshivat Etz Chaim (later YU) when it needed it, and we should reciprocate the favor- which I did today.

Finally, here's a shot from a month or two back. The Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society (I am a member of the latter) sponsored a book tour for Clarence Thomas consisting of luncheons around the country. He spoke marvelously, and the book is magnificent as well. Here he is signing a copy for me. If he looks a bit distracted here, it's because some tables accidentally fell over at that moment and he was concerned about his wife. But he was very nice, gave me a hearty handshake- but my camera didn't get that. Ah well. It was great meeting him.

Still no Wilde, I know. Soon. Instead, here's a funny video. My apologies to those I forwarded it to whole instead of looking for a link first. (And before learning, from YouTube, that it isn't an uncommon "shtick," although this is one of the better ones.) And speaking of wedding dances and YouTube, I had no idea.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Vindication of History

A few random thoughts before I get to my main point:

-Well, first, about random thoughts: There are some good Jewish blogs out there, and I find myself exhausting all I have to say on certain topics in their comments sections, and then unwilling to go through all of it again here. Unfair advantage for them, perhaps, but they deserve it for posting more often (somewhat akin to my old point of stuff I want to post about sitting around and getting stale)- and hey, more people will read me over there, alas. Onward...

-The Straight Dope posts a new piece (usually one from the archives) every day. Do you see a progression in the choices for this last week? Cults and then...Christianity?

Speaking of religion, the latest National Geographic made me take notice of something very interesting. (And no, it wasn't their cliche-filled article on Bethlehem.) I'm the last person to start crowing about intelligent design and the like, but just reading their article on dinosaurs, I couldn't help but notice that virtually every mention of the word "evolution" and "nature" could have been very easily been replaced by "God," and the article would have flowed just as easily if not better.

And, speaking of National Geographic, I guess I've read it for so long that when I saw a mock image of Spitzer in a pilgrim hat, I thought the buckle was the Geographic logo at first.

-Today is Oscar Wilde's 107th yahrtzeit. I have to mention that here now, and hopefully will be able to post a funny related story later.

-So Katie Couric, I hear on the radio, interviewed Rudy Giuliani last night about these allegations he charged visits to his paramour or whatever. He denies it- convincingly enough- but Katie also asked if he feels that even if these specific allegations are not true, they get noticed because the undeniable parts of the story (i.e., adultery) are tawdry, "something [he]'d be sorry about." Rudy didn't respond to that part, perhaps because he wanted to get to the substance, but Katie's going to have to learn something: Rudy regrets nothing. He is not sorry for anything he ever did. Now, this may be good in some contexts (and I've always liked Rudy, just not decided if he's "my man"), but it can be pretty bad in others.

-Well, thank God for little favors. Of course, as always with such things, I wonder about their exact language: If she had meant it, punishing her would be OK?

-Apparently, the street on which I work (45th) was once known as the model train capital, lined with stores selling equipment for them. I read an article about it some time ago (Yay for free archives!), and walked past the two remaining stores for years without going in. I finally went into both one day a couple of months back when I had a free moment. Now, I see one of them (the one that seemed half-dead when I went in) has closed as well. Dor holekh...

-Michael Miller, of the Jewish Community Relations Council, spoke at the event last night which I describe below. When I got home, I looked him up in my YU Alumni book (yes, I do have one), and, as long as I was at it, looked up his brother as well. It was odd- there were two entries- and one of them read, "Gruss Institute, RIETS Jarvis Island." Surprisingly (premature senior moment? Or as Helen Marshall put it last night, "intellectual overload"?), it took me a few moments to remind myself what Jarvis Island is. And when I remembered, I laughed long and hard.

Speaking of intellectual overload (see how these posts work?), it's funny how the brain controls the brain, as Holmes would say. To this day, in order to remember which is Medicare and which is Medicaid, I remember and old Tom Lehrer lyric I first heard as a kid: "Just go out for a breath of air, and you'll be ready for Medicare..."

OK, enough of this gay banter. Yesterday was November 29th, the sixtieth anniversary of the U.N. resolution partitioning Palestine. The vote took place in Flushing Meadows Park, not far from where I live- the Israeli government made a little grove there in honor of the event- and there was an event last night at the Young Israel of Hillcrest, one neighborhood over, commemorating it. It was nice- some good speeches, lots of politicians pumping Queens, and a rare video of the actual vote was shown.

But one thing really struck me. You see, the State of Israel has a new line. "Are you willing to accept Israel as a Jewish state?" What they mean is, "OK, we'll give you your state in the territories. But it's not enough for you to recognize us. You have to recognize us as Jewish- that is, you can't keep hoping to flood what's left of Israel with refugees and/or babies and vote us out of existence." Now, personally, I think it's a good line. Does Olmert mean it? Knowing him, probably not, but his people are saying it for some reason I can't figure out, try as I might, so good. Do all the American politicians who've latched onto it- including one prominent one from last night- mean it? Probably, if only to keep delaying having to make a deal with people they know, deep down (even if they don't admit it, even to themselves), shouldn't be dealt with. Do all the Jews who've latched onto it- including one prominent one from last night- mean it? Again, probably, if only to keep from having to hand over land they don't really want to hand over but don't want to sound "messianic" and "fanatic" about. But, again, I like it, even though I'm perfectly willing to add the idea that Israel should give up nothing and there should be no state, and it would still be true.

And there's the irony, and the vindication. You see, the same Young Israel of Hillcrest was the only place I ever heard Meir Kahane speak, almost exactly eighteen years ago. It was that speech that turned me into a Kahanist. And, of course, this was his single major theme: How you can't call Israel a "Jewish State" and still be unwaveringly committed to democracy. And here, with a slight twist, are all these people who wouldn't look at him, then or now, saying the same thing. Are they thinking it through? Probably not. Would they admit in a million years he was right? Of course not. (See the post below, about which one of my valued readers has shared outrage.) But like I said to that correspondent, R' Kahane wasn't doing what he did for public recognition. He's probably satisfied enough that he's been proven right on so many issues, and laughing at the rest. Here's hoping it only keeps getting better.

Shabbat Shalom, y'all!

Friday, November 23, 2007

"Something's missing, all right."

Well, not that I expected it- in fact, I was expecting not to see someone's name on this list (pdf). But the absence is glaring nonetheless.

By the way, I find it entertaining to see how, now that the violent aspect of the Iraq situation has turned around, liberals have started to crow louder and more exclusively on the political aspect- no government or whatever. To which I respond, maybe we should apply the same logic to Belgium as well? True, no one's being killed there, but there's a country I'd say "good riddance" to faster, perhaps for that very reason.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"1957 was a big year..."

"...The Russians put that Sputnik into outer space, the Dodgers played their last game at Ebbets Field to say goodbye to Brooklyn, that guy shot Frank Costello in the head, and missed, and the Gallo brothers whacked Albert Anastasia in the barber shop of the Sheraton View hotel. It was total chaos. With Anastasia out of the way, Vito Genovese figures he's the big boss. But Carlo Gambino and Joe Bananas, they had other ideas. So they called a meeting. A big meeting."

Well, the fiftieth anniversary of each one of the events in that monologue has passed. (I still find the sudden transition after the first two items hilarious. And I think it's ...and say goodbye...", or maybe just a verbalized pause. A trifle, but you know what Sherlock Holmes said about those.) And today, the radio brings us news that it is the fiftieth anniversary, today, of that "big meeting." Most people I tell are surprised it really happened.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Peace In Our Time

Well, with the coming end of another presidential term comes that old standby, the peculiar mental defect that convinces presidents and diplomats that they can solve all the problems of the "Middle East" (i.e., the Palestinian issue). (That this is indeed a mishegas I had confirmed for me by an old college buddy in, shall we say, a position to know.)

With the Annapolis Conference- we must already speak about it in near-mythical tones, I suppose- fast approaching, I've read about Shas and Lieberman possibly dropping out based on what comes back from there, thus dooming the government and process. This is but one of a number of possibilities- Olmert somehow not surviving his scandals is another- but seems the most likely. My sister and brother-in-law attended a lecture which concluded this as well, and you can read Michael's letter here.

But I have one sickening feeling- these things tend to become self-fulfilling. It's happened before- the Prime Minister comes back waving some paper, the United States and all the usual suspects have already gone into fits of joy over "peace finally breaking out" that it's almost as if the Knesset (or Cabinet) doesn't matter- who wants to be a "bad guy"? Was there ever any doubt that they would pass all the nonsense from the past?

I remember thinking this when watching, in his museum, footage of Begin coming back from Camp David. Oh, huge Knesset debates. Yelling, screaming. Was there any doubt it wasn't a fait accompli as soon as Jimmah "The Cat Killer" Carter was done with his strong-arming?

Of course, I must admit that it doesn't help that true Land of Israel Zionists are never really a majority, or close to it, in the Knesset. Leaving Arabs aside, one may also wonder what that says about the Israeli electorate, but that's democracy for ya.

Eh. I hope I'm not too pessimistic. Z'man l'mashiach, as Michael always says.

Oh, speaking of the Middle East, two more complaints: I overheard Ron Paul being interviewed on the radio the other day. The second time he trotted out the line, "The problem is not X [Iran, Iraq, etc.], the problem is our policy toward X," I shut it off. Aren't presidential candidates- the Republicans, at least- supposed to be patriots? The Democrats I don't expect anything of, but this was sickening. And people wonder where he gets his support.

Finally, as the not-so-bad news from Iraq continues to be ignored by the MSM, the reporters breathlessly announced "bloodshed in Afghanistan." Turns out we killed a bunch of terrorists. And that's bad news?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veterans Day

In honor of Veterans Day, I thought I'd print two stories I've come across over the years. The first, a number of years old, comes from a TWoP message board, and, regrettably, I can't be sure who posted it (not that I know the real names of most of the people there anyway), and the original board has long since been deleted. I remember, however, realizing back then what a great story it was and getting the author's permission to repost it. In any event, it was posted as part of a discussion on heroism and altruism, and I present it here in its entirety, deleting only the immaterial section at the end dealing with the specifics of that discussion:
Okay, story time.

The camera store I worked at was located next door to a big hotel. They
frequently had conventions there, which made the location good for business,
especially since there was a popular restaurant two stores down from us. The
other thing that was good for business was our manager; the guy is, putting it
bluntly, one of the most impressive people I've ever known. He is brilliant at
reading and dealing with people and he understands that the key to success in
business is to give people the best service you can. This made the job fun, too,
because he treats his employees like family, and he likes to kid around. There
was no job he wouldn't do himself, including cleaning out the store's toilet or
going in on his day off to complete the inventory. The guy could (and still can)
schmooze with almost anyone. I learned to schmooze here, and it was easy to be
friendly with the quality customers we tended to have as a result.

So there we were, a specialty shop, specializing in being as nice as we
possibly could. One week, the hotel next door hosted the annual convention of
recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor. For those of you who are
unfamiliar with this, the CMH is the highest military award in the United
States. You can only get it in combat, can only get it by being nominated by the
men who are fighting next to you, and most of the men who receive it do so

Anyway, so we're selling film and stuff, and we start to notice these
guys walking around with these little blue pins with white stars on them. A lot
of the guys came in our store because they were taking pictures at the
convention. My boss, of course, schmoozes with them, and I and the others give
them the same good service we give to everyone. Prior to this, mind you, I had
encountered precisely one recipient of the CMH in my life (giving us a speech
for Pearl Harbor Day at my high school), so it was quite an experience to see
these guys in groups, wandering around. They were generally real nice, real
polite fellows.

Well, the last day of the convention comes along, and there I am, in
the store, and the CMH recipients were now running around in tuxedos, wearing
the full medal (it's a star, hanging from a ribbon worn around the neck) because
that night was the formal dinner for them and it was a big deal. This guy, not
dressed up, comes in the store and I go and ask him what I can do for him. He
reaches into his pocket and pulls out a Congressional Medal of Honor. The thing
was all wadded up and it looked like it had been in the bottom of a drawer for
years. He says to me:

"I need some help. I'm supposed to wear this tonight, but it's broken.
Anything you can do?"

I took the medal from him, and sure enough, one of the little rings
that held the star had bent open, and the star was hanging by only the other
ring. So I said:

"Let me give it a try."

I took a pair of needle nose pliers (we had lots of tools for minor
camera repairs in the store, you see) and I gently and carefully reattached the
star to the ring and bent it closed. My repair was successful, and I gave him
back his medal and he thanked me and went on his way, stuffing the CMH
unceremoniously back into his pocket. That's the story.

I remember this event vividly not simply because I fixed the medal,
which was really a pretty unique experience, but because I'll never forget the
man himself. I have no idea who he was, or what war he fought in (my guess based
on age would be WW II or Korea), but I do know that he was a hero.

Because I think about him, and about the other men we saw that week,
and what stays with me is the same thing that stays with me when I think about
all the heroes I've had the honor of knowing in my life. These guys with the CMH
were really pretty nondescript. They were polite and unassuming, and if you
passed them on the street you would never know that each one of them had done
something extraordinary.

But they are heroes. And this experience has helped me define for
myself just what a hero is. A hero, you see, is someone, anyone, who finds
themselves in a difficult, even an impossible situation, and who does what they
have to do, not just for themselves, but for the person next to them. And they
do it not because there is some glory in it, but because they simply can't
fathom the notion of doing anything else. It is simply a part of their makeup,
of who they are. Often, they are actually embarrassed by the attention they
receive later, because they don't really see themselves as having done anything
extraordinary. They simply did what they had to do.

Hence the CMH stuffed into a pocket or neglected in a drawer. I don't
think this man saw himself as being any more extraordinary than anyone else. I
don't think the passengers of Flight 93, or the firefighters who rushed into the
Twin Towers or the Pentagon, or my friend who gained the courage to lock out her
abusive husband and protect her two children from him would regard themselves as
heroes either. But they are.

The second story comes from a posting on the Flags of the World mailing list. It was contributed by Ron Lahav, one of the regulars there and an occasional correspondent of mine, in response to a discussion, with yours truly participating, about how Civil War campaign streamers (displayed above the flag of the particular armed service) and campaign ribbons (worn on the chest) are displayed: They are both divided blue/gray; units that fought on the Union side display the streamer blue side up, while units that fought on the Confederate side (there are a few, believe it or not) display the streamer gray side up. Similarly, Union veterans wore their ribbon with the blue on the right (their right), while Confederate veterans wore their ribbon with the gray on their right. It's about the last point that Mr. Lahav writes:
I am absolutely positive about the Civil War campaign ribbon being flipped. My father and uncle owned and operated for about thirty years a number of naval outfitters in Norfolk and other parts of Hampton Roads. In the mid-1950s (I am no longer certain of the exact year) the last Encampment of the United Confederate Veterans was held in Norfolk, with about fifteen of the surviving old soldiers who were able to travel attending. We had in each of our stores a large wall chart of all US service ribbons to date issued by Gemsco, the largest manufacturer of US military insignia at the time (these charts were updated every two or three years, but I don't know if the firm still exists). Using the chart, my Dad ordered fifteen of the Civil War ribbons; the company had to make up a special order for him. He then checked with the Public Relations Office of the Fifth Naval District, which referred him to the Office of Naval History, and they informed him at the time of the procedure for wearing the ribbons, which was as I described it [gray on right- NL]. My Dad, my uncle (his brother-in law), my Mom, her sister, and myself (then about 12/13), then attended the Encampment, where my Dad presented each of the old soldiers with their own campaign ribbon, which their relatives pinned on them. Many of the veterans were in tears, and most said that they never knew that they were entitled to a service ribbon at all, regardless of color. Now all of these men had served in the Confederate States Army and not its navy, so I suppose my Dad should have checked with the US Army rather than the naval authorities to see whether the same rules applied for them as well. We had several thank you letters from many of the veterans and their families afterwards, saying that receiving the ribbon was for them a final recognition of the service that they gave to their country. I think Mom threw all of these things out years ago when she got rid of a lot of 'junk', as she called it.
God bless all our veterans, and those fighting today.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

New York People, New York Dogs

So I'm walking to work this morning and pass a cute little dog tied up outside a store. He has a muzzle on, but when some guy passes by, he starts barking. Not really at the guy, just in general. And the guy goes, "Awww, get a job and s***!"

I still have no idea what it meant- and I know the dog didn't- but it was hilarious.

Speaking of hilarious, Derb on the Chinatown bus today is just that: laugh-out-loud funny. What he has to say about Watson, though, is just depressing, both in the content of what Watson had to say (if true) as well as the reaction to it.

What Do You Call a Star Wars Fan, Anyway?

First things first: A belated congrats to my cousin Boris on his performance in Mexico. (His menschlichkeit pours out of that interview.) It was nice seeing him in all the papers during our trip to Israel, which coincided with the tournament. May he go from success to success!

Did I ever mention the time he came by our house and played a game against yours truly? (I was about twelve.) Guess who won?

Yeah, he did, in about ten moves. I think he was going easy on me. :-)

Anyway, last night I was watching a bit of The Empire Strikes Back, and something occurred to me: If the Rebels have an ion cannon powerful and accurate enough to hit and disable an orbiting Star Destroyer from the surface, why can't they just rotate it (it is a giant ball, essentially) and just blow up those Walkers?

I imagine if I was a Star Wars fan, I'd have known the answer, or at least a few fanwanks, a long time ago. Being a Trekkie, I can recite as many fanwanks from memory as you want. I do not maintain a Holmes-like mind.

I keep intending to do long, serious posts- I have a few topics in mind- along with some photos, but procrastinate (and don't have much time). One day soon, I hope.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Funny Halloween!

There's a cute article in today's NRO, which led me to the NY Times' opinion page in the first time in who knows how long. There I saw this piece, casually clicked on it, read to the bottom of the first page- and exploded in laughter. Ah, the good ol' Times and its never-ending, tragic yet hilarious, effort to destroy normal society. Well, hopefully it'll be a few more years until I go there again, if the paper even exists then.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Star Trek Day

The good news is that I didn't miss it, as I feared I might if it, say, came out over a three-day yom tov or something. (Partial list here). The bad news is that, true to form, I delayed too long and missed out on the shirt. Ah well.

Friday, October 12, 2007

C. Little

I used to ask people a trivia question: Who was the only person to win both a Nobel Prize and an Oscar? The answer was Bernard Shaw, in Literature and for the (adapted) screenplay of Pyagmalion, respectively.

Well, with the continued religious fervor of the warming (whoops: climate) crowd and their coronation of Algore, that's no longer true. Shaw was something of a political dolt, and Gore technically didn't win the Oscar (didn't keep him from grabbing it and speechifying anyway), but it's still a long step down from one to the other- and, if the Peace (har!) prize has to be discussed specifically, it's a long way from Albert Schweitzer and Mother Teresa (although the "har!" applies, really, to anyone not in a uniform) to a guy who made a movie, starring himself.

Then again, the Peace Prize has already gone to such lovelies as Rigoberta Menchu and Yasser Arafat. Oh, and Jimmy Carter, who I've never really heard talk before hearing him praise Gore this morning. Look, a Southern accent is one thing. Carter sounds like a hayseed. I wonder how people bought into him- but maybe that's how he fooled them into not realizing how evil he was. (Props to my Mom, who booed loudly whenever his image appeared in the Menachem Begin Museum.)

Lots to report- hope to post more soon!

Friday, September 07, 2007

"Genius of the restoration, aid our own resuscitation!"

I visited the University Club for a Manhattan Institute luncheon yesterday. (No lunch for me, of course, although the waiters were apologetic. As one of my tablemates put it, the University Club is about as un-kosher as it gets. Ah, the yarmulke...)

The occasion was a talk by James Piereson about his new book. I'd actually wanted to get it since it came out, but I held out until this luncheon, and sure enough, I got it cheap, and personally autographed. It looks like a really great book, and I look forward to reading it. Mr. Piereson is a nice guy- I spoke to him a bit after it was over about another president, based on my reading of another recent, and very good, book.

Anyway, although I've been in the Club before, I've never seen it in the light of day and for such an amount of time. It's really quite a building, and I wish I would have been able to wander around a bit (if such things are allowed). Based on their website, it doesn't even look likely that they give tours or anything. Ah well, another time. Perhaps then I'll be able to ask if the title of this post really is, as some Googling seems to suggest, a Club toast.

Two random thoughts:

-Why is it even assumed that declaring something to be genocide or not is any chazerishe business of a government? Come on, that's what historians are for. I really don't see how Congress enters into it. European governments with sick official speech codes and jail time, sure. But in the U.S.?

-I had a really bad case of Treppenwitz the other day. A woman came up to me at the bus stop and asked if I could tell her where she could find a rabbi. We spoke for a bit, and I gave her some directions, apologizing that that isn't such an easy thing. (They don't tend to sit around synagogue after prayers, which tend to be early in the morning.) Anyway, I hope she found one- it was only much later, though, that I remembered that the actual office of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens (the local rabbinical board) was right around the corner. Ah well.

Anyway. Come Sunday I am off to Israel through the holiday season. Perhaps I can blog from there- I have some items I still haven't gotten around to, and I'm sure there'll be things to post about the trip as well- but whether or not I do, best wishes for a K'tiva V'Chatima Tova and a Chag Sameach to all!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

"Still a little bit of summer left..."

You know, this week marks the twenty-fourth anniversary of the performance (on CD as "Comedian" and on film as "Delirious") in which Eddie Murphy uses that line. And you know what? I have two cookouts coming up. Neither in "my house!" (Um, no links here, sorry. Family blog. My reviews are on Amazon.)

Brooke Astor has died, R.I.P. Just this weekend I was reading about her, on the penultimate page of Tom Wolfe's "Radical Chic":
And it didn't particularly help the situation that Mrs. Astor got off a rapid
letter to the Times informing them that she was not at the
"party." She received an invitation, like all sorts of other people, she
supposed, but, in fact, she had not gone. Thanks a lot, Brooke Astor.
Yay for Brooke Astor! For so many other things, too! One wonders what the current heiress to the Waldorf will do with herself at 105.

Meanwhile, on hearing of the death of Phil Rizzuto, the first thing that came into my mind (the keychain on Seinfeld, oddly, only arriving later) was the quote from Yogi on hearing of DiMaggio's forthcoming marriage to Marilyn: "I don't know if it's good for baseball, but it sure beats the hell out of rooming with Phil Rizzuto."

Well, a Chodesh Tov to all. Every Rosh Chodesh, during davening (links added in lieu of translations), I am reminded of two Tehillim-related stories. Fortunately, Rosh Chodesh is two days this month, so I hope to post them tomorrow.

Oh, and by the way, Yay! The crass political line aside, I'm actually pretty flattered by the first paragraph of the answer. I should make it my tagline here.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A few random thoughts:

The Jerusalem Post had a few interesting articles yesterday. Reading pieces like this, on the looming Haredi implosion or whatever they call it, often makes me think the writers are engaging in wishful thinking. On the one hand, all the facts are certainly on their side. On the other, you never know how corrupt institutions will find ways to perpetuate themselves. Visit your local ultra-Orthodox shul and look at the diverse membership. Eh. Hoping he's right, and hoping not too many people (and certainly not Israel as a whole) are hurt in the process.

Sometimes one wishes that even big rabbis would have someone able to take them aside and be a Dutch uncle to them. "Maybe, k'vod harav, you should consider retiring from the public stage. Or at least not talking into microphones any more. Or at least realizing you have an open mike and that people hear you and discuss you. Or at least realizing that this is 2007 and adapting your language accordingly. Or at least wear normal clothes and end the personality cult." Well, the last (the clothes, at least) is probably asking for too much. (The reisha, by the way, may seem- perhaps- to apply only to Sephardic Chief Rabbis past and present [but probably not]; the seifa certainly applies to many more.)

By the way, a more significant angle from this story than the personality of R' Yosef is an important halakhic historical point: Notice how well- word for word, almost- this ties into the GRaCh's "Rupture and Reconstruction". Ah, I have some nice memories of the history of that article.

Then there's this. Now, I'll admit I've always been a big fan of Hecht- all of his works, in fact, not just the Israel stuff- with the important caveat, as an NCSY advisor who saw me reading Perfidy said, that "you have to love Israel before you can hate it." [I'd put "hate" and "it" in quotes.] (And that led me to an appreciation of Bergson, who, thank God, is getting more and more admirers by the day. See here for a way he's entered the common parlance; see here for a real practical step. Yad Vashem, of course, hasn't taken such a step, leading me to the uncharitable but, I think, justified thought on my part that I'm proud I've never been there. Nor do I think it's a coincidence that Yad Vashem is the institution behind this extraordinarily weak effort to rehabilitate Kastner. Oh, and see this somewhat related piece as well- I think Bergson was on board. Meir Kahane once lamented that "[n]ot one in 100 outside Israel" knows about the Altalena, so it's good this was written. But I digress, a bit.) Even so, I think Lapid's assertion is very odd. Granted, the era of the Holocaust was a terrible time, and who can know or judge what people did then. But if that idea taken to an extreme, one would have to question why anyone- Jew or Nazi- would ever be held to account in court. I think that the trial (especially in a case like Kastner's) is more for us than for them- a lesson for us, telling us how we should act in, God forbid, similar circumstances or under any pressure. And so, of course, we can't be sure. But the lesson must be learned, one way or another, and there must be moral absolutes taught, or else it's all meaningless. (Of course, one can imagine what someone with Lapid's politics would answer to that. But they'd be wrong.)

Finally, there's this. I especially point to the line where Derb writes, "Ron Paul has got the Jew Thing", with a link to his article on the subject. Exactly right- it's the first thing I always think of. I don't think it's parochial of me- think the old "canary in the coal mine" analogy- to instantly judge anyone who gets the Jew Thing. There's been this whole discussion of Russell Kirk recently, for example, and yet, I, in my ignorance, can only think, "Jew thing...Jew thing..." about him. Sure, I'm Jewish and Zionist and sensitive about such things. But I think that succumbing to the Jew Thing, at whatever point, is a good sign of intellectual sickness, or at least senility. Is this a "my way or the highway" thing? Of course not. As a Kahanist, I don't expect anyone prominent to agree with me. (Sometimes it seems bashing Kahanism is a requisite to being prominent, witness Noah Feldman.) But the Jew Thing is almost always bigger than that, obvious, and troubling. I guess I shouldn't mind if others, especially non-Jews, don't let the Jew Thing of others get to them as much as it does to me, but that doesn't mean I'm free to ignore it. Oh, and yes, seemingly harmless statements about "Israel" are perfectly legitimate indicators of the Jew Thing, in my humble opinion.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Most Important Things

Well, my birthday has come, and, in keeping with custom (I think- I can't find the post), it has not yet gone, although it was yesterday. I think this year I shall hold out for one more week- my Hebrew birthday, after all, is next Tuesday.

Well, said birthday has certainly shown me how blessed I am. My family- parents and siblings, near and far- all checked in through various communications media to send best wishes and more, and the Rakeffets joined us for a great lunch. My friends and work colleagues treated me to a bit of cheer as well. In what matters, I'm doing great. Who needs more?

Oh, and the week started off (on Tu B'av, in fact) with a wedding. At City Hall (well, technically the Municipal Building, but who's keeping track?), which actually let me witness about ten weddings in a half hour. And you know how I, the sap, reacted to that.

Anyway, congrats to Halcyon, the DH, and all the family! They were all so nice to me, I almost thought for a second that I was the guest of honor. :-) It was great being there, meeting them, at long last (we've known each other for quite a few years and only met in person for the first time last week), and sharing in the happiness. All good wishes for a wonderful life together!

Here's a photo of the new couple:

Ah, I'm in a photoblogging mood. Here are some more:

With Hal's parents. I'm sorry I didn't get such a good shot with the two shviggermuters (their word, heh).

The actual ceremony. I was offered a better spot, but didn't want to be too much in the way. I was trying to stay out of everyone's shots as it was. Anyway, I got a good angle of an amazing hairdo (Hal's- obviously not the hubby's):

And, after trying to stay out of shots, I was honored to be invited into a "friends" pic. (Credit: Hal's bro.)

Anyway, all good wishes to everyone, participants, readers, and the world at large. Happy Birthday!

Sunday, July 22, 2007


I think Mr. Steyn, and all those justifiably outraged at the hostage situation in Iran, is missing a fundamental point. A couple of years ago, my cousin Michael, the distinguished columnist, wrote a piece on American citizens who are victims of Palestinian terrorism- tourists or olim or children of olim who get killed, injured, kidnapped, and so on- and the lack of outrage from the State Department and others.

A day or two after he wrote it, I ran into him at a family get-together and discussed the piece; we basically came to the same conclusion: People tend to see others in terms of group. Sure, you may be an American citizen on an innocent visit to Israel, and I may not harbor a shred of anti-Semitism and may, in fact, love Jews and Israel. (This would, of course, exclude the State Department.) But if I hear about someone named "Goldberg" getting injured in a terror attack in Israel, while I may be angered over the very issue and even feel something a bit deeper when it's an American, something deep in the back of my mind will say "Jew. Israel. Ah well. Moving along..." (Again, this excludes the beauties at the CIA or State Department who don't seem to care when their own people are murdered by Hamas.)

Same thing here. Unfortunately for the Iranian hostages, they are named "Haleh Esfandiari" and "Ali Shakeri" and so on, and are Iranians themselves. Oh, sure they're Americans, and, in fact, are members in good standing of the chattering classes. But their very background ensures that they don't resonate. (The same, for example, for Chinese born American citizens arrested and tortured over in China.) Even Canada, which has made multiculturalism a religion and reason for being as a state, couldn't muster up any sympathy for the late Zahra Kazemi. For all our talk, we're all tribalists deep down. (Yeah, take that, Noah Feldman, you pompous nebach case.)

Would it help if they were American-born WASPs? Maybe not. I mentioned American government employees already, and the British government certainly didn't get too excited over their sailors. But I'm pretty sure it's a factor.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mazal Tov!

That's my new nephew! Ain't he a cutie? Looks just like his pops, if I can say that.

Oh, let's have some congestion pricing news. First, the Nurse is handing out more lollipops, this time in the form of new bus lines promised. (I'd prefer they just keep mine running.) Oddly, many are express buses, which seems to defeat the whole idea.

Next, we have a mailing with a pitiful picture of a little girl (of course: "The Children") using an asthma inhaler. We are also told that "Clinton [Bill, I assume], Gore, Governor Spitzer, and Mayor Bloomberg" all support it. Well, I assume that works on all the sheeple on the Upper West and East Sides, but certainly not for me.

Finally, the Nurse declares that he doesn't know if it will work, but it should be given a chance. Well, work or not, I can guarantee one thing: Once the fee is imposed, it will never go away. The government is like Ferengi that way.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Happy Birthday!

No, not to the United States (although a heartfelt Happy Birthday to them too), but to the current, fifty-star US flag, which hit its 47th anniversary yesterday. Today, it turned 47 years and one day.

The big deal? Well, the longest the flag had gone without changing before today was 1912-1959, forty-seven years for the forty-eight star flag. And the current flag, the twenty-seventh, just beat that.

Me, I'm holding out for the fiftieth anniversary. See ya then!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Eilu Elohecha Yisrael

Just when you think Jonathan Rosenblum can't sink any lower, he does. Man never fails to disappoint. What a disgrace. What a shame.

Now, it is possible (likely, even) that he's been living in a cocoon his entire Jewish life, and is thus simply ignorant of some basic facts that exist outside of the nutshell in which he is bound. In fact, that's the best explanation of much of his blather, and one reason I used the word "shame." But, of course, if that's true, then he has no business writing columns on current events. Either way, like I said, a disgrace.

(Full disclosure: "Dr. Rakeffet" is quite close to my family.)

"I'm from the government and I'm here to help you."

The scariest words in the English language, according to Ronald Reagan.

Well, this has to be one of the funniest things I've seen in a while:

City and state transportation officials made their pitch to Transportation
Secretary Mary Peters, hoping to become one of five cities to get hundreds of
millions of dollars in federal aid for traffic-easing experiments.

City transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said federal support was crucial to enacting the congestion pricing plan, variations of which have already been
launched in London and Singapore.

Ah, Singapore, that bastion of freedom.

So let me get this clear. We (Of course, "we." Where do you think the federal government gets the money from?) are supposed to pay for the "privilege" of...having to pay more? I though this was supposed to raise money, not that it would have been right to do it even if so. Instead, we pay twice, for no real return outside another bizarre Bloomberg social experiment. (Don't smoke- no, smoke, and pay more to smoke, your money goes to anti-smoking causes. Take the train- no, drive, pay more, it goes to...the trains.)

By the way, what happened to federalism? (That old thing.) I thought Albany had rejected the whole idea.

Oh, I just got it: Get the feds (i.e., us) to pony up a hundred million or so, and the pork hounds in Albany will line up to vote. Money, that's what they understand. That, and this perverse desire for public and governmental acceptance that the homosexuals seem determined to force on the rest of us. The budget may be months late, but the gays get their way, every time, the Normal-American public be damned.

Monday, June 25, 2007

By the way...

I'm not one for conspiracies, as my dear brother will tell you, but when it's one person, I get suspicious:

"Deng and Murdoch have been accused of suppressing articles about her in the press."

That's from a Wikipedia article about Rupert Murdoch's wife. And what's the source of the single major article cited in that piece, the one the other linked pieces all seem to refer back to- what looks like the only real article ever written on Wendi Deng? Why, the Wall Street Journal, of course.


A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words...

...and I can't find a link to it. Well, it won't take a thousand words to describe: In today's Metro newspaper, there's a picture captioned "Immigration reform supporters carry a composite of numerous flags from across the world as they march on Hollywood Boulevard..."

Of course, being a flag nut, I examined the picture closely. The "composite" is a long cloth made up of twenty-four flags, and although it extends past the picture, that's probably it. The US flag is top and center. (Nice of them!) And the caption-writer's idea of "across the world" is a bit odd, as every other flag- every one!- comes from south of our border. ("The continent south of the continent on which we live," as a friend of mine puts it. Sherlock Holmes was a bit more concise- but I'll let you find that one.) Apart from a handful (Haiti, Brazil, Suriname, Jamaica) they're all Spanish-speaking. (That's every Spanish-speaking country in this hemisphere plus loyal Puerto Rico, for those of you keeping score at home.)

And that, of course, as John Derbyshire has pointed out, is one of the major criticisms (one of many) of this witless bill. It's not so much immigration as immigration from one particular part of the world- and a whole host of issues arise from that.

Of course, we're supposed to pretend that many colorful Latin flags equal "across the world." We're supposed to pretend that all is bright and happy in Latin America, no racial issues anywhere but in the mean ol' USA. Oh, and we're not supposed to put two and two together reading a piece like this. Assuming you noticed the last name of the victim, and you knew what Juneteenth is...oh, no. Nothing to see here, folks. Move it along, that's it. Have some Kool-Aid.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I'm Brian Fellow!

Well, it's Flag Day. I have a pin in my lapel (good thing I have a jacket), and during an impulse trip to the dentist this morning (yeah, don't ask), I noticed that the hygienist's pick had a flag motif. Yay!

This story had me a little choked up. Isn't it beautiful? And this story, also about a sheep, reminded me of the story about the calf that ran to Yehuda HaNasi, no?

Eh, I love sheep. I think they're adorable. And yummy. Blame it on my name. Here's a non-sheep animal story. This's certainly interesting biologically, historically, sociologically, but I think the whole practice says something a bit negative about identity politics. Ah, probably not. I should be more sentimental about whales- and aboriginal practices, within reason- too, I guess.

Thus endeth Nathan Lamm's Safari Planet. Later!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Well, tomorrow- who knows if I'll be able to blog then?- is Flag Day! Two hundred and thirty years! Whoo-hooooo!

OK, that was the vexillologist in me, bubbling out. Back to laughs and rants...

Eh, let's get the rants out of the way first. It's sad, sometimes, how we think the truth is limited to our own narrow world-view. Every morning, a woman comes to Shacharit to say Kaddish. And if there's no man there saying Kaddish...gevalt! She's limited to the last one, and then some other man has to bellow it out so that, chas v'shalom, we don't hear her. When confronted, the dude who says this informs me, "It's written everywhere! Look it up!"

Errr, no. It's actually written that women used to say Kaddish, alone, for a minyan all the time, until the Jewish world went mad about forty or fifty years ago. (Thanks to my cousin who asked me, with my access to the YU library, to photocopy Joel Wolowelsky's article in Tradition some years back- I made a copy for myself and thus can look it up.) And, of course, leaving halakha aside, there's the simple question of kavod habriot- you think she doesn't notice?

Consider, for example, this sad story. Did it never occur to the narrator to notice that such behavior is likely much more prevalent in more charedi (that is, insular) communities? That Israel has quite a few black or otherwise darker people, and that young Matt may be more comfortable in a more modern setting? Of course not. Our way or back to America, dude!

Anyway. Laugh time. First these two clips, the first of which I found through Failed Messiah. Funny because they're true, eh? (Well, the bit about the rabbis not looking in the first, at least.)

Next, this. I read a bit of Cracked years ago, and now I see they have a site where I'll likely waste much, much time. Absolutely hilarious- check it out if you dare. Ah, the wonders of the world.

Happy Flag Day, friends! Long may it wave!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

D'var Torah! D'var Torah!

My dear sister (who had previously sent an email whose title inspired the very end of this piece) asked me to write out my speech from this Shabbat for her. So it's thanks to her that I'm able to present it here as well. Working a bit off memory, my d'var Torah basically went as follows:

[I omitted an introduction basically lifted from Everett Fox, who points out that the section starting with last week's parsha (one can argue, even going all the way back to the beginning of Shemot) and continuing almost through the end of Bamidbar can be called "the Rebellion Narratives." They even fall into a pattern- people, Moshe's siblings, people, Moshe's cousins, people, Moshe himself. It's around this point that we wish we could reach back 3300 years, grab the Bnei Yisrael by their collective shoulders, and tell them to "Just stop complaining and go to Israel already!" Of course, they'd probably want to reach forward in time and do and say the same thing to us. In any event, this long chain of events makes the sections described below seem even more out of place. I also, alas, wasn't able to work in Bialik's or R' Tzadok HaKohen's view on the subject.]

Right after the incident with the meraglim, the Torah jumps right into a discussion on Korbanot, beginning with the words "Vehaya KiVoachem El HaAretz." To me, that always seemed a bit odd- after all, Hashem just told them they weren't going to Israel. It's almost like He's rubbing it in, so to speak.

But most meforshim give the explanation that, in fact, Hashem is stating this as a Nechama to the Bnei Yisrael. That is, they are worried that not even their kids will make it- what if they mess up too? Therefore, Hashem promises them, that while they, for a specific reason, have to wander, their kids, will, in fact, make it in and get to offer Korbanot. (The Ibn Ezra gives this explanation after also seeing hints to the Averah throughout the remainder of the parsha; Rashi [in most editions] and the Ramban give it as well.)

In fact, I think we can take this a step further: We can see from this that, in fact, the Bnei Yisrael never really stopped longing for Eretz Yisrael and Mitzvot. After all, why else would this be a comfort for them, unless they are comforted by the idea that someone will go up and fulfill Hashem's word? Sure, they were scared by the meraglim's report, maybe said some stupid things for one night- but as soon as they are told they can't go, they go into Aveilut and many, in fact, try to go up anyway. So we think wrong if we think the Bnei Yisrael weren't, at least deep down and usually much more obviously, interested in doing Ratzon Hashem.

This, of course, helps explain why Yirmiyahu, looking back hundreds of years later, sees the era of the Dor HaMidbar as being one in which the Bnei Yisrael were perfectly with Hashem. And, of course, we're told the Dor HaMidbar was the greatest generation! Sure, we may be distracted by all the negative stories, but that's only a small part of the overall picture. (And note, of course, that the Torah skips over thirty-eight years which presumably passed without incident.)

Finally, the Torah itself hints at this by placing the story of the Mekoshesh right after this section. After all, when we think of the Mekoshesh, we think, immediately, of Tzelafchad, because we all know the Midrash that says they were the same person. And, of course, the one thing we know about Tzelafchad is that his daughters were the greatest and ideal example of love for Eretz Yisrael, "Nashim Chovevot Et HaAretz." So the Torah is showing us that the Bnei Yisrael always loved Eretz Yisrael- and we should remember that even though we usually think of this parsha as the one where the Land is rejected, it is also the parsha that contains the words "Tova HaAretz Meod Meod."

Monday, June 11, 2007

Numbers Game

Via The Corner, this story from the Jerusalem Post:

Billed as a massive rally and the first national demonstration focusing on an
end to the Israeli occupation, a pro-Palestinian protest held on the Capitol
lawn Sunday afternoon drew upwards of 2,000 protesters chanting anti-Israel
slogans, waving Palestinian flags and calling for the right of return for
Palestinian refugees.

The sponsors, US Campaign to End the Israeli
Occupation, United for Peace and Justice and 300 supporting organizations...

Whoa. One of the organizers is quoted as saying that "she didn't want to get into a 'numbers game.'" Of course she doesn't. But with numbers like that, to quote Goldmember, "I doooooo!" Just over two thousand people from 300 organizations? That means each organization has, at its core, only seven members tops. Or you can say there's a lot of overlap in membership, but even so, two thousand is still pretty pathetic. Thank God.

The Nanny Hands Out Treats

Tuning into the news this morning (why? don't ask me) I heard one of the most disgusting examples of rent-seeking laid bare for all. Nurse Bloomberg, anxious to push another one of his social control schemes (all for our own good, of course, like it's any of his business) has now glommed onto the "congestion pricing" idea pioneered by Red Ken over in London. Public opinion be damned, the elites are all for it, and those that weren't before...

Well, proudly standing alongside Mayor Mike was Diamond Joe Crowley, the patronage king and Party Secretary for Eastern Queens. (No, you don't have to be named Kennedy or come from a small state to fit the Quimby mold.) Crowley (who, as a Federal Congressman, should have no business sticking his nose into a local matter, not that that's ever stopped anyone- and, of course, not minding your own business is the name of the game at City Hall these days) is all for the plan- after all, he's been promised two new LIRR stations (huh?) in his neighborhood! Also weighing the plan is the Westchester Executive, openly stating that he's waiting to see how much money he gets for Metro-North before he comes out in favor of it.

Oh, and speaking of rent-seeking, the seniors will get their discount, never worry, Hizzoner assures us.

Yeah, I know in my last post I boasted of my subway prowess and exhibited condescension to drivers. And yeah, I think people driving SUV's in metropolitan areas are publicly exhibiting their deficiencies. But that's all a matter of choice- something these socialists seem not to have a concept of, at least for the masses of peons they reign over.

UPDATE: When typing this yesterday, I remember thinking, "The only thing missing from this whole farce is an appeal on behalf of 'the children.'" Well, these people are reeeeeeaaaally predictable. I open the paper today, and sure enough, Bloomie is pushing the whole thing as a way to reduce asthma in...wait for it..."the children." And Silver is objecting to it primarily because, well, it won't. Ah well. Mitoch shelo lishma...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

King of the City

He had been born and raised in New York and took a manly* pride in knowing the
city. I know the city.
-Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities

So much manly pride, in fact, that the ego-boost inspired by the mechanics of Sunday threatens to overwhelm the actual good and meaningful activities themselves.

It's been a busy weekend. Besides the delightful guests we had over Shabbat, I was asked to speak at Etz Chaim in the rabbi's absence, the fact that I only attend there on weekdays notwithstanding. It went over well, I think, and there was even a very nice kiddush (for all the graduates- congrats!) afterwards. I even got instant semikha from both the bulletin writer and the shul's president, who announced me. Yup, Buddha-With-A-Sword is now Rabbi Nachum Lamm.

Sunday was a bit less relaxed. At eleven, I headed off to Brooklyn for the wedding of my dear friend Zil. Ah, I recall the first time I encountered an ex-boyfriend at a wedding, the wedding of a high school classmate of mine. Actually, I think he (I also knew him, as it happened) was an ex-fiance, but either would have seemed very odd to me in those more innocent days. Now, I find myself in that position, and I don't see what's so wrong. OK, so it's a little awkward, because "old friend" (however true) doesn't really compute to many in the Orthodox world, and because quite a few people there knew that "old friend" (again, however true) wasn't the whole truth. But I digress. The wedding was low-key (at least by crazy Jew standards, and no Braveheart torches) and lovely, as was the bride, as always, and I'm eternally grateful I was invited.

Alas, I had to duck out shamefully early (to me, at least, anything before the very end would have fit that definition), although I did manage to take in the bulk of the wedding. Proper (I hope) Mazal Tovs were exchanged, but I must find some better way to express them later. But here's a placeholder huge Mazal Tov and best wishes! I was on the way into Manhattan.

I decided to forgo the elaborate transfers I had planned, especially as the trains (something Sherman McCoy, for all his ego, never really dealt with) didn't seem to be running as they should have. Even so, strolling along 42nd and the south end of Puerto Rican day, I managed to get to the RIETS (oy, that site needs help) dinner. And lo! I made it in time for Rav Goldwicht's shiur.

Post-shiur conversation paraphrase: "What's your name?" "Nachum Lamm." "Nachum Lamm? I heard a Nachum Lamm speak at Etz Chaim yesterday!" "Yup, me." Ego? Moi?

Rav Goldwicht is a gem- no, that's too mild a word- and I was there mostly because he was being honored. Kollel Yom Rishon, which I attend religiously, was his idea, and my parents attend his shiur every week (and chipped in for an ad), so how could I not come? Besides, I owed YU a dinner after the huge break they gave on the High Schools dinner (also magnificent, and one I got to enjoy to the end, appropriately enough considering I actually went there) a few weeks ago.

Alas (again) I ate little at the extensive shmorg and less at the dinner. I'd just come from a wedding, after all. Besides, I had to duck out early (yup, again) and only got to hear the introduction speeches (The dinner chairman, Richard Joel, Julius Berman, a video, R' Charlop- all terrific) and R' Goldwicht's first few words. I did get a journal and a set CDs of shiurim from YUTorah (with a picture of my cousin on the cover, hee). Once again, YU does it with style. Kol HaKavod to them, and to all the honorees!

And so to the train, here with a transfer. (I know the city.) And behold! Wonder of wonders! Pil'ei Pila'im, as R' Goldwicht is wont to say. (And as R' Charlop said, he is as well.) I made it to Chaviva's engagement party with some time to spare! (Fortunately, it ran a bit over.) Everyone who should be there was there, including some old friends I hadn't seen in a while. I even finally (after two dinners without) got some dessert, encouraged by the kallah's extraordinarily menschlich father. A huge Mazal Tov to this couple as well! I even got to finally get to know someone I see at davening every morning.

Speaking of which, it's time for bed. Durn, I'm going to have to do some serious work to recover from all the enjoyment! :-) Once again, deepest and fondest thanks and Mazal Tovs to all who made the day what it was.

Have a great week, dear ones.

*Yes, I'm aware that Wolfe, to whom manliness is a theme, is most likely using this word ironically. McCoy doesn't become manly until the last chapter in the book, and then it involves his fists. But then again, Wolfe would probably be ironic about me as well. Come to think, about himself too.