Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

My Strange and Charmed Life

(A physics reference; never matter.)

So I'm entering the Ben-Tzvi Institute last night for what proved to be a very enjoyable experience. The guard, as is usual, asks me if I'm carrying weapons. (I'm always amused/bemused by that question. They must be asking for some other reason, right?) My companion and I laugh, and go, "As a matter of fact..." I turn around and show him the three plastic swords sticking out of my bag. We all nearly collapse laughing.

Why am I carrying plastic swords in my bag? Come to Beit Shmuel, end of December, and you'll know.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Boy Wonder

Let me just make it clear up front that I think the whole "peace process" is a crock, and, even more, hope it fails miserably- precisely because I believe that its failure is a necessary step toward achieving true peace, the most important thing.

That said, you have to savor the irony of Obama, the man who supposedly understood the world so well he'd save not only the US' international reputation but the world itself, really putting his foot into it, on both sides, and thus perhaps (hopefully?) ruining the very process he claimed only he could save.

On the Palestinian side: I think a serious case can be made that the Arabs are ever more emboldened by the fact that it seems that the current US administration will see no wrong in them, thus leading to their attempted unilateral moves that may well (again, hopefully) lead to Israel taking some steps of its own.

On the Israeli side: Let's not be stuck on stupid: I think it's pretty obvious that when the US says it doesn't want building in a place, it means it hopes that place will one day be Judenrein. Leaving aside that there are hundreds of thousands of Jews in the West Bank and tens of thousands in the Golan Heights (and considering what a bang-up job has been done on- whoops, for- the few thousand Gaza expelees), when Obama's representative starts talking about Gilo in the same language, Israelis are gonna put two and two together and start drawing the line, and at a lot more than Gilo and Jerusalem.

So much for The One stopping the rise of the oceans.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Reasons I love being here, part...

"White Russian."

[OK, OK, but if my purchases are going to be influenced by movies, that's a good one. Besides, up on stage at the Canaan music bar, Jordan Zell is playing an original song named "Russian Girl."]

The waitress looks at me quizzically. I repeat the order, point to "Black Russian" on the menu. A light goes on.

"Ah! Ani Eshol." [I'll ask.]

She talks to the kippah-clad bartender, comes back a few seconds later.

"Zeh b'chalav- anachnu b'sari." [There's milk in that- we're a meat establishment.]

I order a Black Russian instead, as a small chorus of angels inside my head (and I, to my neighbors) sing the praises of the Land of Israel.

I've ordered White Russians in bars before. This is the first time that's happened.

Oh, did I mention the shelves behind the bar that the bottles are on are in the shape of a giant Magen David? Perfect.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Toto, I don't think we're in Queens anymore...

The following is on the front page of today's Yediot Acharanot, the largest circulation paper in Israel. I have not translated; the line appears in English. (The speaker is the unrepentant murderer of an entire family- parents, grandparents, toddler and infant.) The asterisks are mine, because this is a family blog. Apparently, however, that isn't a consideration for Israeli newstands, and the word is printed in full:
"I'm a nasty m*****f*****, I killed them all"
I'm going to have to go through some cultural adjustment, that's for sure.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I've heard this story a few times over the years. I always thought the punchline meant something else entirely (something not so funny) until I finally got it (I think) yesterday. (Might be the way he tells it here.) Hilarious and offensive, be forewarned.

Friday, October 02, 2009

So I'm walking past the flower shop at the end of Rehov HaNasi today and pass an elderly nun walking in the same direction. At that moment, one of the flower shop employees comes out holding some plants. They clearly know each other.

"Shalom! Chag sameach!" calls the nun.

"Chag sameach!" replies the flower woman with a smile. "Mah shlomeich?"

"Toda la-El, toda la-El," the nun says happily. "Chag sameach."

Chag sameach to all!

(I think getting used to the liberal use here of the word "Elohim" is one of the things that will take the most adjustment, language-wise. Oh, and as it happens, in the novel we're reading in ulpan now, we've just gotten to the point where the main character meets a Hebrew-speaking nun. Go figure. )

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Is it just me, or did anyone else give a chuckle when they saw that the name of the Member of Knesset calling for a ban on drinking scenes on TV (no comment) was "Tirosh"? Hee.

Been a while since I posted, I know. Busy busy busy here- lots to do, lots of wonderful people I've been meeting. I'll have a more in-depth post on one of the latest soon. But there was this bit in Yediot Aharonot a couple of weeks back that I thought I'd share, (loose) translation mine. After telling us about the various Israeli glitterati that met Quentin Tarantino during his recent visit to Israel, it continues:

"The cheerful group went on Sunday to the Tzafra Restaurant in Tel Aviv, and in the course of the meal the well-known director [Tarantino- not Jewish, by the way] asked Ada Tomer, wife of [Kobi] Ashrat, to give him advice on what to order. When she told him that the seafood* wasn't bad, he stated, "Oh, no, I'm in the Holy Land." The [implied- uncomfortable] situation was saved by..."

Yesterday Rav Stern, in his Shabbat Shuva drasha, told us about seeing the zechuyot in every person. Let me say this: The fact that, whatever they eat, the situation was uncomfortable for them is a zechut enough for these tzfonikim (a term I use with endearment here), and gives me hope for the future as well.

*The Hebrew word for (non-kosher, it seems) seafood, as used here, is "perot hayam," literally "fruit of the sea." The euphemism remind me of Philologos' column on pig here, and its use, in my eyes, only gives shrimp and pork eating Israelis yet more zechuyot and hope. May we all be judged well in the coming year and experience nothing but blessings.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

I think I saw Ted Kennedy once in my life, and that was more than enough. It was at an OU "Mission to Washington", and he (and, of course, some Republican senator) got a plaque or something at the luncheon. I remember hoping I wouldn't get close enough for him to offer me his hand. I'm kind of picky about coming into personal contact with murderers. (The more I read, the more troubled I become, by the way. I'm not one for conspiracy theories and all that, but when it comes to a Kennedy being a drunken lout and possibly doing something far worse than what people think they know about the whole thing...I become gullible, sue me.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"Strange how the brain controls the brain!"

I once read- in "The Oxford Book of the Year"- that different people cope with obviously incorrect statements in different ways. They were discussing dates: If you were told, for example, to be someplace on Friday, August 20th, would you assume that "Friday" or "August 20th" were incorrect? Apparently, women tend to follow the feria (day of the week) while men, the date. (I think I'd follow the day, but that's another discussion.)

Anyway, this occurred to me today at the checkout line in the supermarket. I suppose the following is more true because the clerk was speaking Hebrew (Yup, I'm here in Israel! Hooray!) and I...don't, so much. But here's the problem: She tells me, "Me'ah ve-shishim agorot," which literally means, "One hundred and sixty agorot," an agorah being one-one hundreth of a shekel. I immediately began looking for one hundred and sixty shekalim. Why?

Because of the comment from Sherlock Holmes that appears as the title of this blog. Without realizing it, my brain told me two things: First, she said "one hundred and sixty" as a block of speech. Second, she said "agorot," which is impossible, as my purchases could not have totalled only 1.60 shekalim. So my mind told me to look for one hundred and sixty shekalim, which is a bit more reasonable. As it happens, we cleared it up quickly and I gave her 105 and got change, but there's material to be mined by the neurologists there.

Of course, like I said, had it been in English, it probably wouldn't have been a problem. I suppose I have received a valuable lesson that the word "shekalim" is often elided in speech, and that agorot never total more than ninety-nine. It reminds me of the German spy who entered a bar in England during World War II, having just snuck in by boat, and was told his order totalled "Eight and six." He whipped out eight pounds and six shillings, which is well over twenty times the real price, which was eight shillings and sixpence. His career for the Nazis ended shortly thereafter. :-) Fortunately, my transaction didn't have the same repercussions, and I'm enjoying some hummus right now.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Congregation Etz Chaim

Last night was our annual shul dinner. I chipped in on an ad on behalf of the daily morning minyan (one of the honorees, and his ten-year-old son, are regulars), and so attended. It was really very nice- the MC mentioned that the shul has, as its guests of honor at its dinners, not big donors (it's not that sort of shul), but people who add to the life of the shul and community. And how true that was last night- some magnificient honorees, speeches, food (you have to mention it!), and time spent with the wonderful people who make up the shul, a pillar of the community.

And then, the rabbi got up and, assuring everyone I had no idea what was coming, spoke about how great it is that I'm making Aliyah, called me up to present me a sefer (the very appropriate Em HaBanim Semecha), and spoke about what I've contributed to the shul over the years (not much, I assure you, or so I thought) and how they will miss me. Wasn't that nice of them? Ah, there are things I'll miss here, and will strive to replicate in the Holy Land.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Is it just me, or was Biden's "unplanned" attendence at this little beer-thing a good way to keep it from looking like two (prominent) black guys ganging up on one (lower class) white guy?

Of course, the very prominence of those two black men is a living example of what a joke claims of "racism" have become in this country. I tell you, I used to like a piece Gates once wrote for the Times on Amos 'n' Andy. Now I realize how full of his bitterness toward white people it was, and how I was missing the whole point.

At least Gates is of an age and a birthplace where you can get where he's coming from. (Even though such an attitude is just irrational today.) Obama doesn't have any sort of excuse for his racism- and never would for his anti-Semitism. But that's where we are now.

Anyway, today's my 34th! Those of you who know Talmudic lore will understand a reference to Bilaam here. The cards and wishes only serve to remind me how blessed I am when it comes to friends and family. And just for today, check it out!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hillul HaShem

It seems as if the Orthodox community suffers from an ability to completely miss a text for...well, I can't say "for a subtext," because the sad fact is they seem to be missing it, period. This thought occurred to me as I listened to the haftarah yesterday, full of its warnings about thieves and bribery and injustice, and wondered just what people like these beauties arrested last week hear when that is read. (Leaving aside, of course, kiddush clubs and hassidic mumbling of haftarot.)

In fact, there's an even more obvious example: The very use of the term "Hillul Hashem." It seems that to too many Orthodox Jews, it means, "An embarrassment to the Jewish people." (To be more precise, to Orthodox Jews- you didn't hear as many people defending Madoff, or signs going up about the issur of lashon hara then, did you?) Well, yeah, to a degree. But why ignore the literal meaning? It means "a disgrace of God" (to be a bit more accurate, God's name.) Now, granted, some may not like saying that God can actually be affected by our actions, although the idea exists elsewhere as well. And far too many people, as it happens, don't really believe in God, whether they know it or not. But the simple fact of the idea of Hillul Hashem is that the (religious) Jewish people, by virtue of their closeness to God as well as their mission to spread His word, are His image on Earth, and if they mess up, well, that hurts His Image, of course.

(Looking back on this years later, I realize I missed the most important point: Namely, that too often the threat that there will be a "hillul Hashem"- however that's understood- is used to try to prevent behavior that just shouldn't be done because it's objectively wrong. But perhaps that's asking too much, Lord have mercy.)

And boy, are they messing up lately. The problem, sadly, is that while Orthodox Jews may be big on the "closeness" idea, most- at least in the Haredi end of things- have no inkling of the "spread of the word" mission. In Israel- where the "other" to whom the message is to be spread is Jewish!- it seems the main goal of Haredim is to "get theirs" and let the rest of the country go chase themselves. In America, it's not much better, which is why Gil Student can write a whole post about how Jews shouldn't concern themselves with gay marriage (mirroring not just the Haredi world as a whole but those slightly to its right, those indifferent ones across the spectrum, all organizational life, and leftists who are just fine with it, r'l) and someone can actually articulate, in a comment, that "I don't think the Torah requires us to monitor morals of wider society." That, of course, misses the whole point of the Torah.

And so that leaves a scattering of Modern Orthodox (and Dati Leumi, in Israel) and, of all people, R' Mayer Schiller and other unexpected voices. The rest, sadly, increasingly follow a religion of men, not of God.

Ah, that's all too depressing. Let me move on to a cheerier, albeit somewhat related, topic. Last Monday I attended my last meeting of the Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association, our annual meeting with the local police precinct commander. I handed over "the books" to the new treasurer, and the president made some remarks about how they'll miss me. That would have been more than enough for me- I hate being the center of things, even though I crave it. (I am large, I contain multitudes.) And then, this morning, the doorbell rings, and it's another board member: They got me a beautiful leather computer bag, complete with cards wishing me well in Israel. I tell you, it's difficult to explain to non-Jews why one is packing up and making Aliyah, but with such neighbors, it's almost required that I say that I'm not leaving them so much as moving to the place I've always wanted to be. Of course, it helps that both halves of that statement are true- and that's probably the best way to go anyway. I hope.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Just because...'s flippin' hilarious. Granted, it's mostly funny only if you know Jack Benny. But if you don't, you should:

Don Wilson: Oh, Miss Kirsten, I wanted to tell you that I saw you in "Madame Butterfly" Wednesday afternoon, and I thought your performance was simply magnificent.

Dorothy Kirsten: Well, thanks, awfully. It's awfully nice and kind of you, Mr. Wilson. But, uh, who could help singing Puccini? It's so expressive. And particularly in the last act, starting with the allegro vivacissimo.

Don Wilson: Well, now, that's being very modest, Miss Kirsten. But not every singer has the necessary bel canto and flexibility or range to cope with the high tessitura of the first act.

Dorothy Kirsten: Thank you, Mr. Wilson. And don't you think that in the aria, "Un bel dì vedremo", that the strings played the con molto passione exceptionally fine and with great sostenuto?

Jack Benny: Well, I thought--

Mary Livingstone (to Jack): Oh, shut up!

(Thanks to Wikipedia, of course.)

Monday, June 01, 2009

Scene from the Salute to Israel Parade

Every year, Dr. Ruth rides up and down the route on Fifth Avenue a few times. Did you know she fought in War of Independence in 1948? She claims she can still field-strip a rifle blindfolded.

This year, her golf cart stopped in front of my announcers' stand on 61st for a few minutes. I told her it was great to see her, as usual, and shook her proffered hand. Then she gestured for me to lean in closer.

"When is the Heschel School marching?"

I check my list. "In about an hour."


OK, a no-brainer. But for a while at least, I'm going to be telling people I gave advice to Dr. Ruth for once. :-)

All in all, a great parade. Lovely weather, great crowd, wonderful marchers, well-organized- kudos to all, and a big Salute to Israel!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

For Memorial Day

Very touching. And since this post applies to me (well, apart from the narcotics), you know what else I was thinking...


Edited to add a few more links:

Gettysburg, seventy-five years later. (And seventy-one years ago. See also this.) The part that always strikes me is when you see the veteran talking to a bunch of Boy Scouts, passing on the knowledge of generations. Five years later, many of those Scouts were probably fighting themselves. And speaking of that, read this.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Passover is nigh

Well, here I am in Israel. (In answer to Hal's question below- and don't feel bad! I just hadn't let on!) Friday we (my brother-in-law and I) went matzah baking, the first time I ever did. Some pictures, courtesy of Chanan Morrisson, are here. (Late addition: Video.)

I recently saw something that made me think of a recent post by Fred. The post is self-explanatory- a lot of "professional historians" put in a lot of work so that he could do what he does, and the sneering (especially when it takes on a tone of religious judgmentalism) is really uncalled for. And this book only drove the point home more strongly. Don't get me wrong- it looks like a great Haggadah and, innocent or not, I have no problem at all with studying R' Eybeshit'z works; my only issue is with the following passages in the various introductions. (I can't say I'm the world's biggest expert here, so while I'm pretty sure of some things, other things I simply question with some basis. But it's the tone that's most important. For background, see here and here.)

Anyway, the Haggadah first has an introduction by Berel Wein. Thank God for little favors (for something of the opposite, see, for example, the end of this post), they face the whole controversy head-on. But on their terms, of course. R' Wein writes:
Traditional Jewry has always sided with Rabbi Yehonatan [NL: I appreciate the sentiment, but that's quite a stretch from "Yonasan"] and accepted his
denials of all the charges made against him [NL: Did he really deny it? Not so sure about that]. Only in the rarified atmosphere of Judaic academia does the dispute still rage in our time.
(Notice that R' Wein either thinks, or would want his audience to think, that a "rarified atmosphere" is somehow a bad thing. I'll be the first to admit that academics live in an ivory tower, but "rarified atmosphere" isn't the phrase I'd use.)

Then, the author of the book, in his introduction, quotes...his rebbe, R' Wein:
Rabbi Yehonatan [NL: OK, I'm pretty sure R' Wein's original didn't use that form] rallied [NL: Really?] his disciples and colleagues to his
defense. [NL: The Vilna Gaon is among those listed, which is really quite a stretch, leaving aside that he wasn't really a "colleague"] The innocence of Rabbi Yehonatan Eybeshitz has been established...
The reason he's telling us this, he assures us, is to emphasize what a brave man R' Yonasan was.

Anyway. My point is, leaving the revisionism, bad enough as it is, aside, there's that sneering attitude toward "academia" that Fred rightly decries. To make matters worse, there's this placing "academia" and "traditional" somehow in opposition when, in fact, some of the more well-known academics dealing with this are very much "traditional." And R' Wein, at least, knows that. Or should.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

"The Missing Mahatma"

(Let me just start by pointing out that anyone who so blithely holds up Ghandi as a role model in matters involving Jews is pretty massively historically ignorant. But that's small potatoes.)

As a run-of-the-mill fanatic, I was, of course, deeply troubled by this piece. I was also troubled by where it appeared- perhaps I should be puzzled, but seeing how easily the neocons drop all other principles (if they ever had them) is possibly the reason I'm troubled as well. Oh, and the fact that I wasn't really surprised that internet searches for criticisms of the piece yielded mostly- exclusively, actually- leftist (Jewish, natch) kooks saying that this Gershom Gorenberg character sold out to those same neocons probably kept me from being troubled in that regard, even if I was disgusted. So, b'makom asher ain a herring a fish. Here I go:

But I was troubled for two somewhat contradictory reasons. First, like I said, as a good extremist, I'm not as rah-rah about "peace," even accomplished under "good" circumstances, as some. Oh, I'm all for peace, of course- who isn't? (As Meir Kahane once pointed out to some peacenik in the US, he was the one with the kids in Tzahal.) But that word is used under certain definitions, as if certain people had exclusive rights to it. That...I don't like. Not the exclusivity, and not the definition.

And that ties into my second objection. Read Gorenberg's little "fantasy." Isn't it odd that his dreamed-of "Mahatma" decides that his number one thing to do is lead a massive (and thus, by definition, about as "nonviolent" as, say, any state action if not less so) demonstration against...Israel, as if that was their number one problem? I don't care what his point is, peace, religion, etc. With all due respect, those people have bigger problems than "free access to Al-Aqsa as the first step toward Palestinian independence alongside Israel." And even if independence is the number one issue, I can think of better (well, bad, even if not worse in the big picture, but better for them) "first steps." Like actually, you know, declaring independence, say. Or generating their own electricity.

(Said "free access," by the way, is not only a dangerous concession that whatever Muslims say must be true, but is an absolute joke when one considers that Muslims have far, far more "free access" to "Al-Aqsa" (barf) than Jews.)

It goes without saying that his little "fantasy" ends with the Jews- sorry, Israelis, no anti-Semitism here- shooting people. These people have some issue in their heads, I just wish I knew what it was.

So us fanatics can breath easy. Even in the fantasies of non-violence triumph created for them by their non-Arab "friends," Palestinians still come out the bad guys. The non-fanatics can continue their lily-livered (but sincere and most effective- don't get me wrong!) defenses of Israel while still paying lip service to peace. Of course, the problem is there are those who don't even do that, and the perverse desire of one Ben Nitay to keep them around. But as to whether the Arabs will ever catch on...well, I'm not so worried, for the moment. May they continue not to catch on for as long as it takes. And you know what "it" is.

Greetings from Jerusalem, one and all.

Check it out!

Hot off the presses, or whatever the e-equivalent is. Our group.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Snowy Day in Spring

Somewhere, Michael Crichton is having a good laugh.

The end of Rush's show today: "I won't be here Monday...Mark Steyn will be substituting. Nothing to worry about, another celebrity golf, you like Steyn, so it's all cool!"

Exactly right! I never know when to tune in for Steyn days ahead of time. Thanks for the heads-up, Rush.

A few links, just because they're funny:

Okay, I see the bus coming right at me, so let's be clear: this was His ad lib. Read the whole thing.

"Thanks for having me on the show, Jay. You seem like a pretty nice guy for an Italian."

"In my country, shervish people shervish! Cooks cook!"

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Went up to YU this morning, later joined by my parents for an amazing special Kollel Yom Rishon all about Birkat HaChama. Three speakers (the first basically an introduction, but still meaningful) with different angles, but all of them really added to my understanding and appreciation of it all. Now I can't wait for Erev Pesach- in Jerusalem this year, which, I recently realized, makes three regalim in a row- all five major chagim, actually- in Israel. Of course, I hope to make it much more than that come next year.

Before the shiur, I picked up the Purim issues of The Commentator, The Observer, and Kol Hamevaser. I devoured the Purim issues back when I was in YU, and even saved all the Hamevaser (as they used to call it) ones. I think this is the first time Hamevaser has done one in a while (they were recently revived in any event), They still have it. All three do. I laughed and laughed.

Purim, by the way, was great, and this was a nice capper to the week. I got a good laugh out of Star Trek today too, come to think.

Torah and fun...what could be better?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Another paper bag

Well, it's good to see the folks at National Review defending Rush, as is correct to do. Those who are attacking him are acting exactly as I expected them to do, especially one particularly nasty Canadian Jewish pseudo-conservative whose new site (he quit NR) I visited for the first and last time today.

But Jonah Goldberg alerted us to this chortle-fest. Wikipedia, our good friend, informs us that Jackson was born in 1962. I doubt she saw much if any de jure (or de facto) segregation.

Second, as Jonah's correspondent's point (that they all had the same pipe) reminds us, drinking fountains by definition have safer water than most other sources.

Third, as to actual discrimination...see the title of this post.

I guess she just has to racialize her job or she feels like she's selling out to the man or something. The history of the Left in America, in times of madness.

One of these days I'm going to present my list of points relating to Jonah's book. Maybe when the paperback comes out.

Love Story

Over two years ago, I marveled at snow on Rosh Chodesh Adar. This time, the snow hit even later in the year.

But hey, being a "progressive" (especially a "green one") means never having to say "I'm sorry," I suppose. Heck, you don't even have to learn a lesson, acknowledged or not. The movie was based on Al Gore's life, wasn't it? With a non-dead Tipper, of course.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Let's do it for the Race!

There are ads all over for the upcoming Baseball World Classic- the real "World Championship," so to speak. Generally, players from a specific country (Mexico, Colombia, etc.) play for that country even if they play in the US the rest of the time; countries with less native players (Canada, Panama, etc.) can reach a bit further- say, American players who are children of Panamanians.

Anyway, the ads show a specific player in his country's uniform with some rah-rah line. Why any ad in the US should show any player other than an American one (Derek Jeter in this case) is one question; another is why some are in Spanish.

But for sheer offensiveness, you can't beat the statement of the Mexican player: "I'm not just playing for my country. I'm playing for La Raza."

Can you imagine some white player saying "I'm playing for my race"?

Oh, and that assumes a sort of uniformity among all the peoples of Latin America. Trust me, they can't stand each other- country against country, and race against race within countries. But let's all play for "La Raza," eh?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

By the way, the post below shouldn't detract from what I think is perhaps the funniest line ever uttered on Friends: Phoebe is bearing her brother and sister-in-law's triplets ("I'm just the oven, it's totally their bun!") and confides in Rachel that she wants to keep one. Rachel's very first, almost automatic reaction? "Oh, I'm gonna to be on the news." (Corrected quote. See here at about 0:50.)

Hilarious, but also a profound statement on our society.

Profundity on Friends? Why not, if R' Carmy is quoting The Simpsons? (Granted, the latter can be a deeper show.)

Oh, also: You don't rile up the environmental nutjobs by attacking their sacred cows. Hee, how quickly they turn.

Monday, February 23, 2009


A few years ago, I read Before the Dawn by Nicholas Wade. The topic of the book is human evolution, a subject I find fascinating. (I think I picked up some of this enthusiasm from John Derbyshire, which is how I also think I first heard of the book.) The quest to learn more about ourselves, today, based on the actions and needs of our ancestors hundreds of millennia and more in the past, the way different angles and aspects can be seen to fit together, and studies of that nature appeals to a part of my personality and mind. (The flip side is that reducing everything to chemicals, chromosomes, neurons, and instinct can take much of the mystery and wonder out of life from another end, and I'm not sure if the former balances out the latter. Of course, what this can do to religious belief is an issue as well. But I digress.)

One of the points Wade makes is a theory about the appearance of children. We've all heard people go on about how a baby "looks just like his father" or "has his mother's eyes" or whatever. The sad, cold, scientific fact is that while this certainly becomes true as a child ages (some of my cousins are virtually identical to one or the other of their parents when they were the same age), babies...don't really look like anyone. They all look pretty much alike. Some of the details of their appearance, we're told, stirs deep instincts we've got from way back- the disproportionately large eyes, for example, are supposed to make us more protective. (This is also why we like Bambi.) But the similarity of appearance, Wade cites scientists as alleging, has a deeper purpose.

Not to put too fine a point on it, paternity (as opposed to maternity) is never certain, and, very often, isn't what you may think it is. This was certainly true among the cavemen, and, studies have shown (now that we can test DNA), it even holds true, in large numbers, today. So the identical appearance of newborns is somewhat defensive: A man, thinking his woman/spouse's child is his own, will not be disabused of that notion too early on and is thus prevented from abandoning them, at least at that stage and possibly forever. Going hand in hand with this are assurances that "the baby looks just like you!"; there is one crucial detail, and proof, of this which I will discuss below.

I had reason to think of Wade when reading of this horror story in England- the one with the thirteen year old kid who fathered a baby with a girl a few years older. That's not the half of it, of course- just when you think things can't get worse, you read on in the articles and discover that they can, and do. And then another paragraph, and it gets worse. And then another... Theodore Dalrymple is right; civilization really is breaking down in the scepter'd isle. (But isn't it everywhere, each place in its own way?)

The thing that made me think of Wade was a statement of the young lad's. Amid suspicions (based on some rather obvious vocal issues and the fact that he looks about five years younger than his age) that he, erm, isn't yet able to procreate, revelations that the young lady, despite her protests, was a bit of the village bicycle, and the claims of at least two other of her "lovers" that they are the proud daddy (there's gold in them thar tabloid hills, which seems to be one reason why a lunatic on another continent had fourteen kids in six tries), the young paterfamilias protested that his whole dysfunctional family claims the spawn looks just like him: "My Mum says she has my eyes!"

His eyes! Ha! Nicholas Wade lives! Some bearskin clad mammoth hunting ancestor of this kid (and, if statistics are to be believed, most of us) just moved his (more likely her- see below) lips in the grave!

Now, lest you think that living the stone age life somehow vindicates our modern day messed up choices, let me remind you that we should, in fact, evolve, not just physically and mentally but morally as well. (It is here that God enters- or, better, re-enters- the picture.) Not only is there no moral evolution in this picture, and not only has there been a regression since, oh, only a few decades back, it gets worse than that. Worse than the aforementioned mammoth-hunter, in fact.

You see, Wade points out that there's an interesting proof to the claim that "he has your eyes" (true or not) is a defense against paternal abandonment: Studies have shown that overwhelmingly, the claim is made by the mother's relations to the father regarding his appearance. Simply put, it's an instinctive move on behalf of the person and family who would be harmed by abandonment- namely, the mother's- to appease the father by assuring him that, indeed, it is his kid.

But note the crucial difference in the English story: The lass and her family need fear nothing. Abandonment is a way of life (Exhibit A: the father's family) and a coddling nanny state will surely provide. Here, it's the (alleged) father's family that's pushing paternity. And why not? It's not like he's going to have any responsibilities (he doesn't even know what "financial" means), no matter how old he'd have been, and, more importantly, there are the aforementioned tabloid fees, which seem to be the thing most on the family's mind (the baby being referred to as a "business interest" by the great-grandmother being a particularly sad touch).

Our supposedly primitive Cro-Magnon ancestors (and, to be fair, much more recent forebears as well) worried about such things as responsibility, care, support. We worry about getting on TV and making a buck. (Or, alternatively- just so we don't forget what's really at stake here- blowing ourselves up for Allah.) Regression indeed.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

"Eric Holder sworn in as first African-American Attorney General"

...the news breathlessly informs us.

Um, is it just me, or does it seem that once the frickin' President of the United States is an "African American" (OK, he technically isn't, but whatever, for now), any black "first" becomes a whole lot less special, and maybe shouldn't be stressed quite so much?


Just me, then. Chalk it up to bitterness at just listening to two hours of "diversity" crap as part of a CLE course.

Yowza. Just checked out a picture of Holder. Talk about brown-paper bag tests. (See A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe for the definition of that. Looks like Holder is taking a bit of Brother Wes' advice too.) Gonzales is darker than him. Come to think, the AG position- and the Cabinet as a whole- has had quite a bit of "diversity" in the last few years. But you wouldn't hear about that.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

OK, this goes back well over ten years. After a particularly harsh winter (or, knowing the national media's insularity, perhaps just a single heavy blizzard in New York), Time magazine ran a cover showing some people struggling through the snowfall with a headline informing us that this, too, was a result of "Global Warming."

Even at that point (remembering the setting in which I saw the magazine, it was 1997 at the latest), anyone with eyes in his head should have been able to see that "climate change" (they hadn't yet developed the trick of calling it that) is a religion rather than science. And over a decade later, and after shoveling out yet another heavy snowfall this morning (a few weekends ago, I did it three times in one 24-hour period!), it seems that quite a few people still don't get it. Well, that's a cult for you.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Obama: Lawmakers should put politics aside for stimulus bill" (AP)

That headline concerns me:

1. I fear our President doesn't get that there's a difference between honestly held policy views and "politics." That is, that he's a politician without any real views.

2. I fear he has views and ideology, but doesn't realize (in true Alinsky fashion) that there are many things in life outside of politics and confrontation, and that policy can be discussed in an honest manner.

3. I fear he knows all that and is just trying to use the bugaboo of "politics" to keep any real opposition from arising. (Not that politics or partisanship are always a bad thing either.)

You may change every "he" above to "He" is that's your bag.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Well, Bush has left the building...

...meaning that this legend has finally been put to rest.

Although considering the "explanation" they thought up for Reagan, I suppose they'll think of one here as well.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


By the way, as long as I'm quoting songs, I have to say that preparing for Aliyah in weather like this really calls to mind the words of Shimon and Garfinkel:

And I'm laying out my winter clothes, wishing I was gone, goin' home

Where the New York City winters aren't bleedin' me, leadin' me to go home


From The Corner come two postings about how Barney, Frank has decided to allow beneficiaries of the government's bailout money (i.e., bigwig execs, although it looks like the congressmen themselves, plus some of the usual suspects, are gonna get some of that green) to keep flying their corporate jets. This is done, apparently, to protect Kansas's corporate-jet industry, and was pushed by two congressmen from that state, one from each party.

The Democrat is named Dennis Moore.
Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore
Riding through the land
Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore
Without a merry band
He steals from the poor, and gives to the rich
... Stupid b****.
Quite apropos, eh?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


I tell ya, there's nothing that gets my Jewish happy-juices flowing better than seeing a diverse crowd at Mincha. I went to the Radio City Synagogue, in the middle of the Diamond District, yesterday, Asarah B'Tevet, as I usually do on fasts, and the usual spectrum of people were there. (Fasts, of course, bring out more people than usual, myself included, what with a Sefer Torah needed.) Satmar, Lubavitch, one clearly not-at-all religious guy whose wife needed a Mi Sheberach, and all the way to me, who some bloggers probably wouldn't even count for a minyan. I even bid for Kohen and won; twenty-six dollars well spent. The Sefer Torah was the smallest I've ever seen in my life- not more than five inches; our faces were practically right on top of it so we could read. Tehillim for "Eretz Yisroel" afterward, of course.

Perhaps the wrong emotion for a fast, but it made me feel a lot better. Perhaps, in fact, that's the most appropriate emotion indeed.