Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Never Again, Goddammit

The things I saw beggar description ... The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were ... overpowering ... I made the visit deliberately in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to 'propaganda.'

Source: General Dwight D. Eisenhower's letter to General George C. Marshall, dated April 15, 1945, after inspecting Ohrdruf concentration camp.

It's inscribed in the wall at Eisenhower Plaza, at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, shown above.
As I've written before, President Bush has described the events in Darfur as genocide.

And still the world dithers.

I am old enough to know people who are tattooed from the concentration camps. My friend Michel was saved from the ovens by Operation Kindertransport, a secret project in which children were sent --- without their parents --- out of Austria, Germany, Poland, and Czechoslovakia to Great Britain. Eventually many came to live in the United States of America or Canada.

Never Again, Goddammit

It's shameful enough that, after he left office, President Clinton had to visit Rwanda to make an apology for U.S. inaction during the genocide that occurred there on his watch.

Does anyone have the remotest notion that Shrub would have the grace or humility to do that?

But to hell with apologies. The time to act is now.

A couple of friends have wondered why I've been beating this particular drum so heavily. I honestly believe that Jews have a special responsibility to make sure those cries of Never Again we all grew up on actually mean something.

Interestingly, none of the friends who've questioned my zeal for this cause are Armenian.

Like Jews, Armenians know --- viscerally --- that unless good people act, unspeakable evil can and does flourish.

Never Again, Goddammit.

Angelina Jolie is Prettier

I posted about Darfur yesterday.

Angelina Jolie has a piece in today's Washington Post.


She no doubt had some editing help but I paid pretty close attention when she was on "Inside the Actors Studio" on Bravo and it's definitely written in her voice.

It's moving.

Read it.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Save Darfur Coalition Call to Action

Got this today, thought I'd pass it on.

Dear David ,

Despite more than 61,000 Save Darfur Coalition activists calling on President Bush to take effective action to protect innocent civilians in Darfur two weeks ago, the White House continues to drag its feet on launching the desperately needed "Plan B."

Nearly two months have passed since the Sudanese government thumbed its nose at President Bush's January 1st deadline to cooperate with international peacekeeping efforts and it is past time to act.

The President's top advisors must guide him in taking the steps required to stop the violence in Darfur.

Please join us in urging Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to launch "Plan B" before more lives are lost.
Click here now to send a message asking the President's top advisors to take the tough measures needed to make Sudan cooperate with international efforts to end the violence.

The Sudanese government-sponsored genocide has already claimed up to 400,000 lives, displaced 2.5 million people and left more than 3.5 million men, women and children struggling to survive amid violence and starvation.

Without tough, coercive "Plan B" measures to accompany diplomacy, the international community's efforts to end the violence in Darfur are doomed to fail.

That is why we need your help to make sure the President's top advisors get the message ASAP.
Click here now to contact Secretaries Rice, Gates and Paulson about the urgent need to implement "Plan B" now.

Once you've signed the petition, please forward this email message to your friends and family and ask them to join you.

Thank you again for your support.

Best regards,

David Rubenstein
Save Darfur Coalition

Donate to Help Save Darfur
Help build the political pressure needed to end the crisis in Darfur by supporting the Save Darfur Coalition's crucial awareness and advocacy programs. Click here now to make a secure, tax-deductible online donation.

The Save Darfur Coalition is an alliance of over 175 faith-based, advocacy and humanitarian organizations whose mission is to raise public awareness about the ongoing genocide in Darfur and to mobilize a unified response to the atrocities that threaten the lives of more than two million people in the Darfur region.

To learn more, please visit

Tall Pasty Bed Filler

Prepare to laugh.

Read Playtah today.

Even her alarm clock's funny.


Space age Astro has never been afforded the respect of his Hanna-Barbera ancestor, Scooby-Doo.

But I contend Astro is funnier.

What say you?

Monday, February 26, 2007


OK. RFB's reaction to something I blurted out recently has me thinking we may have illuminated a basic difference about the way boys and girls think about sex.

We recently heard that an adolescent young man of our acquaintance, of whom we're both quite fond, has his first girlfriend. They're both in the 15-16 age range. My first reaction, which I didn't think to stifle, was "I hope she's a tramp."

RFB's reaction was "You're such a pig!"

As we discussed it, she was defending the purity of first love, and bemoaning the early onset of sexual behavior among people she sees as children.

I was reminiscing about how much easier my own sexual initiation was because a couple of my first real girlfriends were more experienced than me sexually.

L. taught me how to kiss when I was in the eighth grade.
B. was the first girl to touch me below the belt, and to guide me to touch her that way.
And D., a girl a year younger and way more experienced than I was sexually, taught me to make love, starting just before my 17th birthday and for a couple of years thereafter.

In all 3 cases, the girls were thought of, generally, as "fast" by the crowds we hung in. And I was so thrilled that each, in her time, had taken an interest in me that I was willing to do anything they said made them feel good. They sure knew how to do stuff that made me feel good.

D. and I had dated for 5 months by the time she decided it was time to take the big step. It took another month to arrange so it could be slow and romantic, and not rushed in the back seat of a borrowed car.

She'd been sexually precocious before that and I think the half year we dated first was a welcome respite for her. She'd already been with a couple of older guys who'd used and discarded her.

I was content to play at whatever level she was comfortable with. It was always farther than I'd ever gone before, and, like I said, it felt good. And she was happy to be with a guy who seemed more interested in all of her and not just her tongue, breasts and vagina (not necessarily in that order).

When we finally made love, I was a couple of days short of 17 and she'd turned 15 a few months before. It was mind-bending, and it remained so for a couple of tempestuous, high-drama, adolescent, angst-filled years.

I look back with great fondness and no small amount of gratitude on those years with D.
I know my sex partners in my later college years and in my early twenties benefitted from how she taught me to please her, and how we both learned to laugh together in bed.

So, whaddya think?

Are their any guys who think my reaction to the news of our young friend's first girlfriend was outrageously pigular?

Are their any gals who think my reaction wasn't?


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Love Your Pet Appreciation Day

According to e.clec.tic spaghetti, today is Love Your Pet Appreciation Day.

Here are a couple of cute pictures of Monkeyboy in DC with his beloved rat (er, I mean hamster) Ted.

(Photo credits: RFB)

Goddam, Tara's holidays sure make life easier if you're depressed or have blogger's block.
Yay Tara!

Friday, February 23, 2007


I'm swamped and overwhelmed and anxious and depressed.

Two days ago I fled the office in a panic after 2:00 pm.

I'd already handled two delicate situations deftly (with explicit congratulations from my boss on each) but all I could think of was that I was falling ever-more-steadily behind, that I'd reached my limit of 4 anti-anxiety pills per day in under 7 hours, and that I hadda get outta there, posthaste.

Yesterday, you may have noticed, I threw the word "scary" in as an adjective to describe my office.

I've never been so happy for Friday to arrive in all my life.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Oy! It's a Winner

I retreated from my scary office at lunch and drove up to Adams-Morgan to try out the hottest new eatery in all the land.

On my way, the weather was dank and my fellow drivers were foul.
Or maybe the weather was foul and the other drivers dank. Yeah, that's more like it.

Anyway, all this predated my entry into Hot Dog Nirvana.

I had a hot dog caled "Oy!" (Hebrew National, of course) and a Barq's root beer. Yummmm.

I'm not out on party nights in the streets of Adams-Morgan much anymore. But if I were, I'd find the fare at M'Dawgs irresitable, after way too much beer. And much preferable to the "Jumbo Slice" pizza that was the drunken party animal's 2:00 a.m. favorite back in the day.

13 varieties of dog, including vegetarian and Kobe beef. Three varieties of bun, for heaven's sake. And a big, whoppin' fixin's bar.

You lucky kids today. 20th century post-midnight revelry food offered far fewer options.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

M’Dawg Haute Dogs Opens in Adams Morgan

Dear friends of mine own Amsterdam Falafelshop, on 16th Street, in Adams Morgan. They sell the best damn falafel in town.

Now they've branched out into a second shop, across the street, called M’Dawg Haute Dogs.

You should check it out.

They even got a mention in Wonkette yesterday. gives 'em thumbs up, too.

Beat the rush. 13 types of dogs and sausages on three styles of buns can take a while to sample.

Hot dog! I know where I'm eatin' lunch tomorrow.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Bumper Snicker

I'm reading the latest John Lescroart book The Suspect. It's great.

One of the running characters in Lescroart's books, a lawyer called Wes Farrell, prides himself on having the greatest collection of sophomoric and crude t-shirts and bumper stickers on the planet.

I read a description of one of his bumper stickers and knew that, if it existed, I had to post it here. Google images says it does. Here it is:

I love the Internet.

You can buy it here.

Now, here's a version that I assume is a PhotoShop fake, but I can't resist posting it, too.

Really, I love the Internet.

Wikipedia: It's Messy, but It Works

Between the snow cancelling more than half of Monkeyboy's schooldays this past week and a visit from my folks, I haven't had a lot of time for blogging.

But another distraction from blogging has been even more time-consuming. My time at the computer console when I'm not at work has been consumed working on helping to clean up two entries on Wikipedia.

After writing this post, I set out, as a Wikipedia newcomer, to bring some balance to the entry for Shlomo Carlebach on the Internet encyclopedia. I was successful, but it took some work.

You can see the numerous iterations I had to go through by checking out the entry's:
  • history page (look at the entries from February 4th through February 7th) and

  • discussion page (look at the entries from the one entitled "External links to allegations of abuse, again" through the end of the page).

I then took a look at the entry for The Awareness Center (TAC), a sometimes-controversial organization that aims to expose and correct sexual abuse within the Jewish community, especially abuse by communal leaders.

Like the Carlebach page, this page included no balance. It read like a puff piece, listing TAC's own view of itself, but none of the countervailing criticism of its tactics that are common knowledge in the Jewish community.

On the Carlebach page, I faced opposition from Wikipedians opposed to sullying the late songwriter's reputation. But at least all that happened was that another author and I kept amending each other's work until a more senior editor brokered a compromise.

But on The Awareness Center's discussion page, I found myself being accused of supporting a notorious sexual predator. The supporters of TAC routinely take the position that any criticism of the Center is equal to support for rapists and child molesters.

The most salient points are made from the entry entitled "Editing Attempts by David in DC [...]" through to the bottom of the page. Check it out.

(The part inside the brackets is a libel that once read "and others who are supporters of Rabbi Mordechai Gafni." Gafni is the worst kind of sexual predator, comparable to the Catholic priests who have only recently gotten their comeuppance after decades of abuse. He's currently a fugitive from rape charges in Israel.)

In contrast to the Carlebach page, where a compromise was brokered that balanced the article and left it open, like almost all Wikipedia entries, to further editing by anyone on the Internet, Wikipedia has had to lock into place a balanced article on TAC, while more senior Wikipedians try to sort out the competing edits without having to cope with hourly re-edits by rabid TAC supporters.

All this tumult over trying to bring balance to an entry for an organization whose goals (if not always whose tactics) I basically support.

It left me muttering "G-d save me from my allies; my opponents I can deal with myself."

But, in the midst of all the edits and reversions and name-calling and appeals for calm, reasoned discourse, I've caught the Wikipedia bug.

The idea of an open-source encyclopedia --- written, edited and maintained by thousands of volunteers --- is beguiling. Wikipedia has an elaborate set of norms and rules, and its own quirky culture, all of which I'm still learning. But I've seen how a volunteer can easily be sucked into it. I'm inordinately proud of what I've accomplished there on two entries where I know something about the topic.

Go to it and look up something you know about. I'll bet you, too, find trying your hand at editing an encyclopedia entry to make it more complete or more balanced to be both fun and empowering.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

If you call me David Harry...

I hear that the three women in the world who are entitled to call me David Harry have checked out this blog, at least to read Thanks Mom.

You may have noticed that at the bottom of every blog entry is a link that reads "0 COMMENTS" or "7 COMMENTS" or some such thing. If you click on that link, it gives you a chance to respond, or type any other things that come into your mind.

Please do. I'd love to hear about what you think of anything you read.

That goes for you too, Mom.

David Harry

Monday, February 12, 2007

Take a Picture of a Parking Lot Day

According to e.clec.tic spaghetti, today is Take a Picture of a Parking Lot Day:

I found this one on Google Images. I don't think the parking lot attendants were having such a good day.

This is Amazing

I cannot figure out how this works. Take and then display your photo using only your current computer monitor. Completely safe and anyone can do it.

Check it out.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


First, a limerick:

A tutor who tooted the flute
Tried to tutor two tooters to toot,
Asked the two of the tutor:
"Is it harder to toot,
or to tutor two tooters to toot."

Since September, I've been one of several grown-ups helping a young man prepare for his Bar Mitzvah.

He faced multiple challenges, not the least of which is the fact that he's the biggest 13-year-old smartass the planet has seen since the day I turned 14 in 1976.

One example: Last year I was thrown into his 6th grade Hebrew class as a last minute substitute on a dreary Wednesday night.

I know how I used to treat religious school substitute teachers back in the day, and I was determined not to be similarly baited.

I hadn't accounted for my friend B.

He was as attentive and quiet as possible for the first five minutes of class. Then, at a break appropriate for questions, up went his hand.

"Mr. I.," he said, with an absolutely straight face, "this is the time in the class when the teacher usually gives each student a five-dollar bill."

I was completely useless for the next two minutes while I tried, unsuccessfully, to stop laughing.

Anyway, the big day was this past Saturday morning.

He sailed through with flying colors.

I have to admit it, I cried a little. (But of course, I'm such a sap, I cried at Rhoda Morgenstern's wedding, too.)

Be that as it may:

B., you rock!

Victory Is Not an Option

The Washington Post Outlook Section has two pieces in it this Sunday that ought to be mandatory reading for anyone who wants to discuss Iraq rationally.

The first is an essay by William E. Odom. Odom is a retired Army lieutenant general, and was head of Army intelligence and director of the National Security Agency under President Reagan.

His essay is entitled "Victory Is Not an Option."

It is tightly written and tightly reasoned. It is the work of a patriot in despair over his Commander-in-Chief's blind, willful ignorance.

The second is the declassified portion of the latest National Intelligence Estimate for Iraq that was released by the Bush Administration on Groundhog's Day. Or, as the Post puts it:
The unclassified summary of the latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq was released late Friday, Feb. 2, the time of day the Bush administration has often used to release bad news.

The NIE (pronounced like the joint between your thigh and shin) is sobering as hell. And the annotations by Mark M. Lowenthal, a 31-year career intelligence officer and a former vice chairman for evaluation of the National Intelligence Council, which writes NIEs, are both enlightening and entertainingly droll.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Serenity Prayer Parodies

IMHO, the Serenity Prayer is the single greatest non-denominational prayer ever written. It comes from a longer prayer written by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. For the 3 of you living under a rock, it goes like this:

G-d, grant me:
The Courage to change the things I can,
The Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, and
The Wisdom to know the difference.

There are also some swell parodies:

“God grant me the Senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
The Good Fortune to run into the ones I do,
And the Eyesight to tell the difference.”
Found Here

"Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the Courage to change the things I cannot accept, and
the Wisdom to hide the bodies of those people I had to kill today because they pissed me off.

And also, help me to be careful of the toes I step on today
as they be connected to the ass that I may have to kiss tomorrow.

Help me to always give 100% at work
12% on Monday.
23% on Tuesday.
40% on Wednesday.
20% on Thursday.
5% on Friday.

And help me to remember...
When I'm having a really bad day,
and it seems that people are trying to piss me off,
that it takes 42 muscles to frown and only 4...
to extend my middle finger and tell them to bite me!
Found Here

A Librarian's Serenity Prayer
Lord grant me:
the Serenity to accept that not everything can be found on the Internet...
the Courage to go to the Library
and the Wisdom to evaluate the information I do find.
Found Here

A Wikipedia Serenity Prayer
Almighty Jimbo:
Grant me the Serenity to accept the pages I cannot edit,
The Courage to edit the pages I can,
And the Wisdom to whack the hell out of any troll who gets in my way.
Found Here

A Screenwriters Serenity Prayer
“God, grant me the Serenity to accept the nominations I cannot change,
the Courage to watch the broadcast without hurling sharp objects at my television, and
the Wisdom to know the difference between the opinions of the stodgy Academy members and my own.”
Found Here

A Synagogue/Church Goer's Serenity Prayer
Grant me the Serenity to accept the liturgical norms I cannot change,
the Courage to correct the abuses I can change, and
the Wisdom to know the difference

Now we hug.

There. Much better. Anyone for coffee?"
Found Here

Thursday, February 8, 2007

The Mitzvah to Speak Lashon Hara

A recent post has led a friend to suggest that I may have run afoul of the Jewish law against "lashon hara" or evil speech.

I take this concern seriously. But in the end, I'm guided by principles more fully laid out at the website of JSafe: The Jewish Institute Supporting an Abuse Free Environment.

Most especially compelling, for me, is the essay by Rabbi Mark Dratch entitled:
"Let Them Talk: The Mitzvah to Speak Lashon Hara"

Here is the excerpt I find most compelling. It appears near the end of the essay. I've redacted the footnotes for simplicity's sake. If you're intrigued, please go read the essay yourself.

It's not easy reading, but it makes a lot of sense, at least to me.

Lashon Hara about the Dead
Is it permissible for victims of a perpetrator who has since died to speak lashon hara about him?

The Talmud indicates that there is no prohibition of speaking lashon hara about the dead, either because the dead do not know what is being said about them or because they do not care what is being said about them. However, because their legacies are at stake, as well as the reputations and well-being of their surviving families, and because they cannot defend themselves, Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayyim 606:3 cites a takanat kadmonim (ancient enactment) that prohibits “speaking ill of the dead.”

Hafetz Hayyim rules: Rabbi Yizhak said: If one makes remarks about the dead, it is like making remarks about a stone. Some say [the reason is that] they do not know, others that they know but do not care. Can that be so? Has not R. Papa said: A certain man made derogatory remarks about Mar Samuel and a log fell from the roof and broke his skull? A Rabbinical student is different, because the Holy One, blessed be He, avenges his insult.

And know also that even to disparage and curse the dead is also forbidden. The decisors of Jewish law have written that there is an ancient enactment and herem (ban) against speaking ill of and defaming the dead. This applies even if the subject is an am ha-aretz (boor), and even more so if he is a Torah scholar. Certainly, one who disparages [a scholar] commits a criminal act and should be excommunicated for this, as is ruled in Yoreh De’ah 243:7. The prohibition of disparaging a Torah scholar applies even if he is disparaging him personally, and certainly if he is disparaging his teachings.

However, despite this enactment, there are times when one is permitted to speak ill of the dead. It is important to note that this prohibition is not derived from the Torah verse banning lashon hara; it stems from a rabbinic decree and is, thus, no more stringent than the laws of lashon hara themselves. Since lashon hara which is otherwise biblically prohibited is allowed if there is a to’elet [beneficial purpose], so too lashon hara about the deceased is permitted if there is a to’elet. While the nature of the to’elet may change—after all, the deceased is no longer a threat to anyone else’s safety—there may be any number of beneficial purposes in sharing this information including: preventing others from learning inappropriate behavior, condemning such behavior, clearing one’s own reputation, seeking advice, support, and help, one’s own psychological benefit, and validating the abusive experience of others who may have felt that they, and no one else, was this man’s victim. [Emphasis added.]

Furthermore, the restriction on speaking ill of the dead may be based on the assumption that death was a kapparah, i.e., it was an atonement for sins. This atonement, however, is predicated on his having repented before his death, and that repentance requires both restitution for the harm caused and reconciliation with the victim. If the perpetrator had not reconciled with his victim, no atonement was achieved. And of such an unrepentant sinner the verse teaches, “The memory of the just is blessed; but the name of the wicked shall rot” (Proverbs 10:7). In addition, Jewish law does not recognize the concept of statute of limitations in these matters.

When All is Said…
Lashon hara is a tool of abuse, both when derogatory speech defames innocent people, destroying their reputations, and when warnings to refrain from derogatory speech are used to silence victims of abuse who cry out for help. As careful as we must be not to speak, listen to, or repeat, disparaging information when it is forbidden, we must not allow the threat of speaking lashon hara to silence the cry of innocent victims. We must carefully heed the words of Pithei Teshuvah cited above:

There is a sin even greater than [speaking lashon hara], and one which is more widespread, i.e., the sin of refraining from informing another about a situation in which one can save him from being victimized—all out of concern for lashon hara… One who behaves in this manner, his sin is too great to bear and he violates, "You shall not stand by the blood of your brother."

Victims of abuse need to speak out, for all kinds of personal reasons, in order to help themselves. Their supporters need to speak out in order to help them. And the community needs to speak out in order to hold the perpetrators responsible and in order to protect other innocents from potential harm. [Emphasis added.]All must be diligent in meeting the conditions required for such speech, including knowledge of or verification of the facts, proper motivation, the curbing of personal animosities, no exaggeration, and the like. Allowances must be made for persistent rumors and circumstantial evidence when their credibility meet halakhic standards. And each of us needs to recommit ourselves to protecting the physical and spiritual welfare of women, children, and men; safeguarding the integrity of the social fabric of the Jewish community; and securing the honor of Torah and God’s very Name.

According to rabbinic tradition, it is the capacity of speech that distinguishes humans from the animals and from all other parts of Creation. The Torah demands of us to use that divine gift of speech wisely and carefully in order to protect the human-ness of victims of abuse, as well as the humane-ness of every member of our society.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Rate All 100 Senators

Wonkette did a piece yesterday about a site that's already turned into an addictive pastime for me and my inner political wonk. You get to rate all one-hundred senators (or just the ones you know anything about) on four traits: Character, Dignity, Integrity and Honor.

It's part of a contest to choose America's most trusted Senator.

(I know. It's a lot like choosing America's least ugly toad. But still.)

It keeps a rolling total for each Senator over the course of weeks. It's fun to watch as the rank order settles out.

If you're so inclined, check it out.

I can't get enough of it.

A1 Doesn't Just Stand for Steak Sauce

Insidious Truth writes today about the disappearance of an Angry Young Blogger. She's asked me if he and I were friends. My answer:

One of his first posts was an open letter to me calling me every kind of awful. It was pretty funny.

We developed a bantering relationship. If you look through my posts and his comments on the first couple of months of my blog until he shut down the first time, you can get a feel for it.

There's was a similar set of posts and comments on his now-defunct blog.

He made fun of my penis, I made fun of his brain. It's that kind of friendship. We've never met in real life.

Snow Day

I've k'vetched about the way the D.C. area reacts to a light dusting of snow before.

Monkeyboy in DC, understandably, takes a different view. School's out today.

Photo credits: RFB

Monday, February 5, 2007

Carlebach's Legacy

Shlomo Carlebach was a huge figure in Jewish music and in bringing less observant Jews back to a more spiritual and observant way of life.

He was also known, within many Jewish circles, as a serial molester and perhaps worse.

The best compilation of the weight of the evidence against him on these scores can be found here.

I overheard Monkeyboy's choir practicing a Carlebach song on Sunday night and it tied my stomach in knots. How to separate the man from his music?

(If you're Jewish, you know a lot of Carlebach music even if you don't recognize his name. His tunes for a number of traditional pieces of liturgy are so ubiquitous that people think them ancient when they're really half a century old or less.)

I decided I didn't know enough about the allegations, so I went hunting on the Internet. I found the article I've linked to above. I find it persuasive.

But it's from a pretty left-wing, feminist source, (Lilith magazine) so I figured I'd best take a look at Wikipedia.

I was shocked to find not a single word about these allegations.

Reading the "discussion" page for the entry, I found that whether or not to include these allegations in Carlebach's Wikipedia entry has been a topic of great disputation.

I've added my own views to the discussion.

I've also added a link to the Lilith article at the bottom of Carlebach's Wikipedia page.

I'll be curious to see if it stays there. I think I've made a reasonable argument on the discussion page, but we'll see if I've helped reach a consensus or just stirred up the controversy again.

How (or whether) I try to explain all this to a nine-year-old is a question I'll confront after this year's choir season is over.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Shiny Side Out

Here's an abstract from the best M.I.T. science project ever:
Among a fringe community of paranoids, aluminum helmets serve as the protective measure of choice against invasive radio signals. We investigate the efficacy of three aluminum helmet designs on a sample group of four individuals. Using a $250,000 network analyser, we find that although on average all helmets attenuate invasive radio frequencies in either directions (either emanating from an outside source, or emanating from the cranium of the subject), certain frequencies are in fact greatly amplified.

These amplified frequencies coincide with radio bands reserved for government use according to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Statistical evidence suggests the use of helmets may in fact enhance the government's invasive abilities. We speculate that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason.

Here's a link to further info.

For instructions on how to construct your own Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie (AFDB), click here.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Food Pictures

According to Tara, at e.clec.tic spaghetti, today is Photograph a Food Label Day.

Here are my favorites:

Thursday, February 1, 2007


For a few months I've been on an organizing committee for a special event. The Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia is celebrating its 75th birthday this year. It will host a series of events, culminating in a fancy fundraising dinner in the spring.

But tonight, as a kick-off, Legal Aid is sponsoring a first-ever alumni reunion. At last count we had over 200 former attorneys, law clerks, summer interns, board members, social workers, volunteer attorneys, support staff and the odd loaned-associate coming (and some of them were pretty odd.)

My first 6 years of employment in the law were spent at Legal Aid, as a law student/intern, law clerk, staff attorney and senior staff attorney. I'm looking forward to seeing old friends, both those I've stayed in touch with and the much larger number I've lost track of until now.

But now there's a threat of snow.

As I once wrote here:

One of the joys of living in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area is the charming sense of level-headedness we bring to the topic of inclement weather.

If two lobbyists stand at the corner of 15th and K and one whispers, in the quietest voice possible, the word snow, the effing city goes on panic alert.

The T.V. weathermen all start flailing their arms in a manner reminiscent of the robot on Lost in Space, shrieking "Danger, Will Robinson ... Danger, Will Robinson."

Legal Aid's Executive Director, Jonathan Smith, has sent out a confirmatory e-mail this afternoon to those who've RSVP'd, affirming that Legal Aid current staff and alum are no weather wimps. What he wrote is poetry:

We have been watching the weather report and see that tonight might bring us a storm. We hope you will come nevertheless. Legal Aid staff, volunteers and Board members have long been known to venture into the storm that others flee. The storm of poverty and injustice didn't keep you away -- so what is a little snow?
YAY Jonathan!