Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Play Through?*

Two men were out playing golf on a nice Saturday afternoon. They were getting frustrated, though, because the two women who were playing right in front of them were quite slow, and were holding up the men’s game.

“Don’t they know their supposed to let us play through?!” asked the first man.

The other man shook his head. “I’m going to go ask them if we can play through,” said the first man, emphatically, “Enough is enough!”

He started walking over toward the women, but as he got close, he suddenly turned around and came back, white as a ghost.

“Oh God,” he said to his friend, “This is awful. You’re going to have to ask those women if we can play through. You see, one of them is my wife, and the other is my mistress!”

The other man shrugged, and said “No sweat.”

He walked over toward the women, and just as he was getting close, turned around and came running back to his pal.

His eyes wide open, he said - “Small world isn’t it!”

*Thanks, Michel

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tom Lehrer

Good Heavens, where do you even start?

For more, try this.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Season's Greetings 2009

This could prove helpful tomorrow if you're in some exotic locale like Tajikistan or Canada.

Don't you think Encore Presentation sounds much better than rerun?

In any event, for those of you celebrating it: Merry Christmas.

And for everyone: I wish you happy, healthy, sweet and prosperous secular New Year.

I harvested most of these from here:

Merry Christmas (U.S.)
Happy Christmas (U.K.)
Gezur Krislinjden (Albanian)
Kamgan Ukudigaa (Aleut)
Melkam Yelidet Beaal (Amharic)
Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah (Arabic)
Feliz Navidad (Argentine)
Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand (Armenian)
Tezze Iliniz Yahsi Olsun (Azeri)
Luzihiro Lwa Krismas (Bantu - Kipare Dialect)
Kwa Beno Banso Bwanana (Bantu - Chinayanja)
Na Bino Banso Bonane (Bantu -Kikango)
Zorionak eta Urte Berri On! (Basque)
Shubho Barodin (Bengali)
Vesele Vanoce (Bohemian)
Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo (Brazilian)
Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh mat (Breton)
Tchestita Koleda; Tchestito Rojdestvo Hristovo (Bulgarian)
Bon Nadal i un Bon Any Nou (Catalan)
Feliz Navidad (Chile)
Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun (Chinese - Cantonese)
Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan (Chinese - Mandarin)
Yukpa, Nitak Hollo Chito (Choctaw)
Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo (Columbia)
Nadelik looan na looan blethen noweth (Cornish)
Pace e salute (Corsican)
Sretan Bozic (Croatian)
Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok (Czech)
Glaedelig Jul (Danish)
Woof (Danish, Great)
Miet puou yan dhiedh Banyda tene Yin (Dinka)
Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar (Dutch)
Colo sana wintom tiebeen (Egyptian)
Gajan Kristnaskon (Esperanto)
Rõõmsaid Jõulupühi (Estonian)
Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad (Farsi)
Hyvää Joulua or Hauskaa Joulua (Finnish)
Zalig Kerstfeest en Gelukkig nieuw jaar (Flemish)
Chchghrchrg (Phlegmish)
Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année (French)
Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ur (Gaelic)
Gilotsavt Krist'es Shobas (Georgian)
Merry Christmas, Y'all (Georgian)
Froehliche Weihnachten und ein gluckliches Neues Jahr (German)
Kala Christougenna Kieftihismenos O Kenourios Chronos (Greek)
Juullimi Ukiortaassamilu Pilluarit (Greenlandic)
Mele Kalikimaka (Hawaiian)
Shubh Naya Baras (Hindi)
Nyob Zoo Xyoo Tahiab (Hmong)
Kellemes Karacsonyiunnepeket & Boldog Új Évet (Hungarian)
Gledileg Jol og Farsaelt Komandi ar (Icelandic)
Selamat Hari Natal (Indonesian)
Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah (Iraqi)
Nollaig Shona Dhuit (Irish)
Ojenyunyat Sungwiyadeson honungradon nagwutut. Ojenyunyat osrasay (Iroquois)
Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo (Italian)
Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto (Japanese)
Sung Tan Chuk Ha (Korean - North)
Sung Tan Chuk Ha (Korean - South)
Seva piroz sahibe u sersala te piroz be (Kurdish)
Natale hilare et Annum Nuovo Latvian (Latin)
Erry-may Istmas-chray (Ig-pay Atin-lay)
Prieci'gus Ziemsve'tkus un Laimi'gu Jauno Gadu (Latvian)
Linksmu Kaledu (Lithuanian)
Streken Bozhik (Macedonian)
Nixtieklek Milied tajjeb u is-sena t-tabja (Maltese)
Meri Kirihimete (Maori)
Zul saryn bolon shine ony mend devshuulye (Mongolian)
Krist Yesu Ko Shuva Janma Utsav Ko Upalaxhma Hardik Shuva (Nepali)
God Jul og Godt Nyttår (Norwegian)
Bikpela hamamas blong dispela Krismas na Nupela yia i go long yu (Papua New Guinea)
Maligayang Pasco at Manigong Bagong Taon (Philippines)
Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia (Polish)
Boas Festas e um feliz Ano Novo (Portuguese)
Nave sal di mubaraka (Punjabi)
Mata-Ki-Te-Rangi. Te-Pito-O-Te-Henua (Rapa-Nui - Easter Island)
Legreivlas fiastas da Nadal e bien niev onn! (Romanche - Sursilvan dialect)
Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom (Russian)
La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou (Samoan)
Bonu nadale e prosperu annu nou (Sardinian)
Gaelic Nollaig chridheil huibh (Scots)
Hristos se rodi (Serbian)
Subha nath thalak Vewa. Subha Aluth Awrudhak Vewa (Singhalese)
Vesele Vianoce. A stastlivy Novy Rok (Slovak)
Vesel Bozic in Srecno novo leto! (Slovenian)
Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo (Spanish)
God Jul och Gott Nytt År (Swedish)
Wilujeng Natal Sareng Warsa Enggal (Sudanese)
Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon (Tagalog)
Ia ora i te Noere e ia ora na i te matahiti 'api (Tahitian)
Nathar Puthu Varuda Valthukkal (Tamil)
Suksan Wan Christmas lae Sawadee Pee Mai (Thai)
Kristo abe anduwe muciindo ca Christmas (Tonga)
Kilisimasi Fiefia (Tongan)
Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun (Turkish)
Veseloho Vam Rizdva i Shchastlyvoho Novoho Roku (Ukranian)
Naya Saal Mubarak Ho (Urdu)
Bon Nadal i millor any nou (Valencian)
Chuc Mung Giang Sinh - Chuc Mung Tan Nien (Vietnamese)
Nadolig LLawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda (Welsh)
Gute Vaynakhtn un a Gut Nay Yor (Yiddish)
E ku odun, e ku iye'dun! (Yoruba)
Cestitamo Bozic (Yugoslavian)
Sinifesela Ukhisimusi Omuhle Nonyaka Omusha Onempumelelo (Zulu)

G-d Bless Us, Every One - Dickens.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


The Wisdom of Doctor Oz

I got this from my friend Steve, who never disappoints.


I am passing this on to you because it definitely works and we could all use a little more calmness in our lives. By following simple advice heard on the Oprah show, you too can find inner peace.

Dr. Oz proclaimed, 'The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started and have never finished.'

So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and hadn't finished, and before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a bottle of White Zinfandel, a bottle of Tequila, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my old Prozac prescription, the rest of thecheesecake, some Doritos, and a box of chocolates.

You have no idea how freaking good I feel right now!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Blue Star Families

The byline at the top says Paul Aronsohn.

At the bottom of the piece it says:

Ridgewood Councilman Paul Aronsohn is the proud son of Lt. Harry Aronsohn, USAF (Ret.).

In between is an essay you should read.

Paul's an acquaintance from college days and through mutual friends. I admire him.

I contributed when he ran for Congress. He lost.

I didn't contribute to his campaign for Ridgewood Councilman. He won.

Note to future Aronsohn fundraising chairs: tap Itkin to mobilize his high single-digit blog readership. But his money's bad luck.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Modern Mirror of Erised II

I once posted an item I called A Modern Mirror of Erised. I've now found its equal:

The picture above can be found, in all its glory, here.

This unbelievable work of art includes a link to Wikipedia for every person pictured. You could spend a lifetime looking it over.

For a break from more serious figures, check out the cat. And if you want an even bigger chortle, check out the camel.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Angry Comments

As the three of you still reading this blog (but not looking for Funny Pumpkin Pictures, Funny Turkey Pictures, or Funny Santa Pictures) probably know, a blogger sometimes gets angry, thoughtful, thought-provoking criticism. For example, I posted a link to Naughty T-Shirts on my FaceBook page. I labelled it "[n]ot suitable for viewers under 21." Here's a contrary view:
Not for under 21? More like not for over 25. I was under the impression you consider yourself a feminist. Pictures of young woman with their body parts exposed and their heads decapitated is about as anti-feminist as it gets. These girls are young enough to be your daughter. Do you think any mother or father would want these photos of their daughters proliferated around the internet? If someone took a photo of your son at this age, would you want some older man putting it up on his blog?
A blogger also sometimes gets comments that defy characterization as anything but nuts. For examples, see the recent comments on this ancient post.

The first kind gets my attention. The second kind, not so much.

Oddly enough, both writers commented overnight last night --- the first things I saw in my in-box this morning.

Right after I posted it, I got opinions from three intelligent women I trust about the Naughty T-Shirts post. Friend A thought it juvenile. Friend B found it hurtful. Friend C thought it funny. Told of the first two opinions, Friend C volunteered "I think someone needs to lighten up."

So far here's the tally:

Three opposed to the post (Friend A, Friend B, and the FaceBook poster quoted above.)

Two for it: (Friend C and myself.)

What do you think?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Res Ipsa Loquitur

From the New York Times:

Following is the prepared text of President Obama's speech at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo on Wednesday, as released by the White House:

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Distinguished Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, citizens of America, and citizens of the world:

I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.

And yet I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage. Compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela my accomplishments are slight. And then there are the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice; those who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened of cynics. I cannot argue with those who find these men and women some known, some obscure to all but those they help to be far more deserving of this honor than I.

But perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of a nation in the midst of two wars. One of these wars is winding down. The other is a conflict that America did not seek; one in which we are joined by forty three other countries including Norway in an effort to defend ourselves and all nations from further attacks.

Still, we are at war, and I am responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill. Some will be killed. And so I come here with an acute sense of the cost of armed conflict filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with the other.

These questions are not new. War, in one form or another, appeared with the first man. At the dawn of history, its morality was not questioned; it was simply a fact, like drought or disease the manner in which tribes and then civilizations sought power and settled their differences.

Over time, as codes of law sought to control violence within groups, so did philosophers, clerics, and statesmen seek to regulate the destructive power of war. The concept of a "just war" emerged, suggesting that war is justified only when it meets certain preconditions: if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the forced used is proportional, and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.

For most of history, this concept of just war was rarely observed. The capacity of human beings to think up new ways to kill one another proved inexhaustible, as did our capacity to exempt from mercy those who look different or pray to a different God. Wars between armies gave way to wars between nations total wars in which the distinction between combatant and civilian became blurred. In the span of thirty years, such carnage would twice engulf this continent. And while it is hard to conceive of a cause more just than the defeat of the Third Reich and the Axis powers, World War II was a conflict in which the total number of civilians who died exceeded the number of soldiers who perished.

In the wake of such destruction, and with the advent of the nuclear age, it became clear to victor and vanquished alike that the world needed institutions to prevent another World War. And so, a quarter century after the United States Senate rejected the League of Nations an idea for which Woodrow Wilson received this Prize America led the world in constructing an architecture to keep the peace: a Marshall Plan and a United Nations, mechanisms to govern the waging of war, treaties to protect human rights, prevent genocide, and restrict the most dangerous weapons.

In many ways, these efforts succeeded. Yes, terrible wars have been fought, and atrocities committed. But there has been no Third World War. The Cold War ended with jubilant crowds dismantling a wall. Commerce has stitched much of the world together. Billions have been lifted from poverty. The ideals of liberty, self-determination, equality and the rule of law have haltingly advanced. We are the heirs of the fortitude and foresight of generations past, and it is a legacy for which my own country is rightfully proud.

A decade into a new century, this old architecture is buckling under the weight of new threats. The world may no longer shudder at the prospect of war between two nuclear superpowers, but proliferation may increase the risk of catastrophe. Terrorism has long been a tactic, but modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale.

Moreover, wars between nations have increasingly given way to wars within nations. The resurgence of ethnic or sectarian conflicts; the growth of secessionist movements, insurgencies, and failed states; have increasingly trapped civilians in unending chaos. In today's wars, many more civilians are killed than soldiers; the seeds of future conflict are sewn, economies are wrecked, civil societies torn asunder, refugees amassed, and children scarred.

I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war. What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work, and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.

We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations acting individually or in concert will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King said in this same ceremony years ago: "Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones." As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King's life's work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there is nothing weak, nothing passive, nothing naive in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism, it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

I raise this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter the cause. At times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world's sole military superpower.

Yet the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions, not just treaties and declarations, that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: the United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms.

The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples' children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.

So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace. And yet this truth must coexist with another that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. The soldier's courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause and to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such.

So part of our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly irreconcilable truths, that war is sometimes necessary, and war is at some level an expression of human feelings. Concretely, we must direct our effort to the task that President Kennedy called for long ago. "Let us focus," he said, "on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions."

What might this evolution look like? What might these practical steps be?

To begin with, I believe that all nations, strong and weak alike, must adhere to standards that govern the use of force. I, like any head of state, reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend my nation. Nevertheless, I am convinced that adhering to standards strengthens those who do, and isolates - and weakens - those who don't.

The world rallied around America after the 9/11 attacks, and continues to support our efforts in Afghanistan, because of the horror of those senseless attacks and the recognized principle of self-defense. Likewise, the world recognized the need to confront Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait, a consensus that sent a clear message to all about the cost of aggression.

Furthermore, America cannot insist that others follow the rules of the road if we refuse to follow them ourselves. For when we don't, our action can appear arbitrary, and undercut the legitimacy of future intervention, no matter how justified.

This becomes particularly important when the purpose of military action extends beyond self defense or the defense of one nation against an aggressor. More and more, we all confront difficult questions about how to prevent the slaughter of civilians by their own government, or to stop a civil war whose violence and suffering can engulf an entire region.

I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That is why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.

America's commitment to global security will never waiver. But in a world in which threats are more diffuse, and missions more complex, America cannot act alone. This is true in Afghanistan. This is true in failed states like Somalia, where terrorism and piracy is joined by famine and human suffering. And sadly, it will continue to be true in unstable regions for years to come.

The leaders and soldiers of NATO countries - and other friends and allies - demonstrate this truth through the capacity and courage they have shown in Afghanistan. But in many countries, there is a disconnect between the efforts of those who serve and the ambivalence of the broader public. I understand why war is not popular. But I also know this: the belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it. Peace requires responsibility. Peace entails sacrifice.

That is why NATO continues to be indispensable. That is why we must strengthen UN and regional peacekeeping, and not leave the task to a few countries. That is why we honor those who return home from peacekeeping and training abroad to Oslo and Rome; to Ottawa and Sydney; to Dhaka and Kigali - we honor them not as makers of war, but as wagers of peace.

Let me make one final point about the use of force. Even as we make difficult decisions about going to war, we must also think clearly about how we fight it. The Nobel Committee recognized this truth in awarding its first prize for peace to Henry Dunant, the founder of the Red Cross, and a driving force behind the Geneva Conventions.

Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct. And even as we confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules, I believe that the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight. That is a source of our strength. That is why I prohibited torture. That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And that is why I have reaffirmed America's commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions. We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honor those ideals by upholding them not just when it is easy, but when it is hard.

I have spoken to the questions that must weigh on our minds and our hearts as we choose to wage war. But let me turn now to our effort to avoid such tragic choices, and speak of three ways that we can build a just and lasting peace.

First, in dealing with those nations that break rules and laws, I believe that we must develop alternatives to violence that are tough enough to change behavior - for if we want a lasting peace, then the words of the international community must mean something. Those regimes that break the rules must be held accountable. Sanctions must exact a real price. Intransigence must be met with increased pressure and such pressure exists only when the world stands together as one.

One urgent example is the effort to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and to seek a world without them. In the middle of the last century, nations agreed to be bound by a treaty whose bargain is clear: all will have access to peaceful nuclear power; those without nuclear weapons will forsake them; and those with nuclear weapons will work toward disarmament. I am committed to upholding this treaty. It is a centerpiece of my foreign policy. And I am working with President Medvedev to reduce America and Russia's nuclear stockpiles.

But it is also incumbent upon all of us to insist that nations like Iran and North Korea do not game the system. Those who claim to respect international law cannot avert their eyes when those laws are flouted. Those who care for their own security cannot ignore the danger of an arms race in the Middle East or East Asia. Those who seek peace cannot stand idly by as nations arm themselves for nuclear war.

The same principle applies to those who violate international law by brutalizing their own people. When there is genocide in Darfur; systematic rape in Congo; or repression in Burma, there must be consequences. And the closer we stand together, the less likely we will be faced with the choice between armed intervention and complicity in oppression.

This brings me to a second point, the nature of the peace that we seek. For peace is not merely the absence of visible conflict. Only a just peace based upon the inherent rights and dignity of every individual can truly be lasting.

It was this insight that drove drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after the Second World War. In the wake of devastation, they recognized that if human rights are not protected, peace is a hollow promise.

And yet all too often, these words are ignored. In some countries, the failure to uphold human rights is excused by the false suggestion that these are Western principles, foreign to local cultures or stages of a nation's development. And within America, there has long been a tension between those who describe themselves as realists or idealists, a tension that suggests a stark choice between the narrow pursuit of interests or an endless campaign to impose our values.

I reject this choice. I believe that peace is unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely or worship as they please; choose their own leaders or assemble without fear. Pent up grievances fester, and the suppression of tribal and religious identity can lead to violence. We also know that the opposite is true. Only when Europe became free did it finally find peace. America has never fought a war against a democracy, and our closest friends are governments that protect the rights of their citizens. No matter how callously defined, neither America's interests - nor the world's - are served by the denial of human aspirations.

So even as we respect the unique culture and traditions of different countries, America will always be a voice for those aspirations that are universal. We will bear witness to the quiet dignity of reformers like Aung Sang Suu Kyi; to the bravery of Zimbabweans who cast their ballots in the face of beatings; to the hundreds of thousands who have marched silently through the streets of Iran. It is telling that the leaders of these governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation. And it is the responsibility of all free people and free nations to make clear to these movements that hope and history are on their side

Let me also say this: the promotion of human rights cannot be about exhortation alone. At times, it must be coupled with painstaking diplomacy. I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation. But I also know that sanctions without outreach, and condemnation without discussion, can carry forward a crippling status quo. No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.

In light of the Cultural Revolution's horrors, Nixon's meeting with Mao appeared inexcusable, and yet it surely helped set China on a path where millions of its citizens have been lifted from poverty, and connected to open societies. Pope John Paul's engagement with Poland created space not just for the Catholic Church, but for labor leaders like Lech Walesa. Ronald Reagan's efforts on arms control and embrace of perestroika not only improved relations with the Soviet Union, but empowered dissidents throughout Eastern Europe. There is no simple formula here. But we must try as best we can to balance isolation and engagement; pressure and incentives, so that human rights and dignity are advanced over time.

Third, a just peace includes not only civil and political rights - it must encompass economic security and opportunity. For true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want.
It is undoubtedly true that development rarely takes root without security; it is also true that security does not exist where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine they need to survive. It does not exist where children cannot aspire to a decent education or a job that supports a family. The absence of hope can rot a society from within.

And that is why helping farmers feed their own people - or nations educate their children and care for the sick - is not mere charity. It is also why the world must come together to confront climate change. There is little scientific dispute that if we do nothing, we will face more drought, famine and mass displacement that will fuel more conflict for decades. For this reason, it is not merely scientists and activists who call for swift and forceful action it is military leaders in my country and others who understand that our common security hangs in the balance.

Agreements among nations. Strong institutions. Support for human rights. Investments in development. All of these are vital ingredients in bringing about the evolution that President Kennedy spoke about. And yet, I do not believe that we will have the will, or the staying power, to complete this work without something more, and that is the continued expansion of our moral imagination; an insistence that there is something irreducible that we all share.

As the world grows smaller, you might think it would be easier for human beings to recognize how similar we are; to understand that we all basically want the same things; that we all hope for the chance to live out our lives with some measure of happiness and fulfillment for ourselves and our families.

And yet, given the dizzying pace of globalization, and the cultural leveling of modernity, it should come as no surprise that people fear the loss of what they cherish about their particular identities - their race, their tribe, and perhaps most powerfully their religion. In some places, this fear has led to conflict. At times, it even feels like we are moving backwards. We see it in Middle East, as the conflict between Arabs and Jews seems to harden. We see it in nations that are torn asunder by tribal lines.

Most dangerously, we see it in the way that religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam, and who attacked my country from Afghanistan. These extremists are not the first to kill in the name of God; the cruelties of the Crusades are amply recorded. But they remind us that no Holy War can ever be a just war. For if you truly believe that you are carrying out divine will, then there is no need for restraint, no need to spare the pregnant mother, or the medic, or even a person of one's own faith. Such a warped view of religion is not just incompatible with the concept of peace, but the purpose of faith for the one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

Adhering to this law of love has always been the core struggle of human nature. We are fallible. We make mistakes, and fall victim to the temptations of pride, and power, and sometimes evil. Even those of us with the best intentions will at times fail to right the wrongs before us.

But we do not have to think that human nature is perfect for us to still believe that the human condition can be perfected. We do not have to live in an idealized world to still reach for those ideals that will make it a better place. The non-violence practiced by men like Gandhi and King may not have been practical or possible in every circumstance, but the love that they preached - their faith in human progress - must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey.

For if we lose that faith, if we dismiss it as silly or naive; if we divorce it from the decisions that we make on issues of war and peace - then we lose what is best about humanity. We lose our sense of possibility. We lose our moral compass.

Like generations have before us, we must reject that future. As Dr. King said at this occasion so many years ago, "I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the 'isness' of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal 'oughtness' that forever confronts him."

So let us reach for the world that ought to be that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls. Somewhere today, in the here and now, a soldier sees he's outgunned but stands firm to keep the peace. Somewhere today, in this world, a young protestor awaits the brutality of her government, but has the courage to march on. Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty still takes the time to teach her child, who believes that a cruel world still has a place for his dreams.

Let us live by their example. We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice. We can admit the intractability of depravation, and still strive for dignity. We can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that, for that is the story of human progress; that is the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Cure for Being Sick of Christmas Music

Legends Convey a Truth, Even When They're Fictional

That's why the good ones survive.
Barbara Walters once did a 20/20 story on gender roles in Kabul, Afghanistan, several years before the Afghan conflict. She noted that women customarily walked five paces behind their husbands.

She recently returned to Kabul and observed that women still walk behind their husbands. Despite the overthrow of the oppressive Taliban regime, the women now seem to, and seem happy to, maintain the old custom.

Walters approached one of the Afghani women and asked, 'Why do you now seem happy with an old custom that you once tried so desperately to change?'

The woman replied, without hesitation, "Land mines."
It says here, that this is a legend. So what?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

When You Leave Your House

in the morning and see this:

Just go back in the house, pour another cup of coffee, and stay there.
It probably isn't going to be a good day.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


This wonderful video was forwarded to me by my mom.

I'm going to try to find out where and when it was recorded and who the performers are. I'll post an answer if I find one. If you know, please tell.

In the meantime, enjoy!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tiger Woods is Stupid

Please add Tiger to my Stupid List, right next to Eddie Van Halen, Ethan Hawke and an anonymous idiot who was once nicknamed Clooney.

Click here to see eleven more reasons. By my count, they're collectively worth 12,000 words.

Plus, they've got two kids.

Plus, one was just born.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

And Then the Fight Started

Dispatches from the front*:

My wife sat down on the settee next to me as I was flipping channels. She asked, 'What's on TV?'
I said, 'Dust.'

And then the fight started...
- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -

My wife and I were watching "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" while we were in bed. I turned to her and said, "Do you want to have sex?"

"No," she answered.

I then said, "Is that your final answer?"

She didn't even look at me this time, simply saying, "Yes."

So I said, "Then I'd like to phone a friend."

And then the fight started....
- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -

I'd anticipated it all week. Saturday morning I got up early, quietly dressed, made my lunch, and slipped quietly into the garage. I hooked the boat up to the van, and proceeded to back out into a torrential downpour. The wind was blowing 50 mph, so I pulled back into the garage, turned on the radio, and discovered that the weather would be bad all day.

I went back into the house, quietly undressed, and slipped back into bed. I cuddled up to my wife's back, now with a different anticipation, and whispered, "The weather out there is terrible."
My loving wife of 5 years replied, "Can you believe my stupid husband is out fishing in that?"

And then the fight started...
- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -

I rear-ended a car this morning. So, there we were alongside the road and slowly the other driver got out of his car. You know how sometimes you just get soooo stressed and little things just seem funny? Yeah, well I couldn't believe it...... He was a DWARF!!!

He stormed over to my car, looked up at me, and shouted, "I AM NOT HAPPY!!!"

So, I looked down at him and said, "Well, then which one are you?"

And then the fight started.....
- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -

My wife was hinting about what she wanted for our upcoming anniversary. She said, 'I want something shiny that goes from 0 to 150 in about 3 seconds.' I bought her a bathroom scale.

And then the fight started...
- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -

When I got home last night, my wife demanded that I take her some place expensive... so, I took her to a gas station.

And then the fight started...
- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -

After retiring, I went to the Social Security office to apply for Social Security. The woman behind the counter asked me for my driver's License to verify my age. I looked in my pockets and realized I had left my wallet at home. I told the woman that I was very sorry, but I would have to go home and come back later.

The woman said, 'Unbutton your shirt'. So I opened my shirt revealing my curly silver hair. She said, 'That silver hair on your chest is proof enough for me' and she processed my Social Security application.

When I got home, I excitedly told my wife about my experience at the Social Security office.

She said, 'You should have dropped your pants. You might have gotten disability, too.'

And then the fight started...
- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -

My wife and I were sitting at a table at my school reunion, and I kept staring at a drunken lady swigging her drink as she sat alone at a nearby table.

My wife asked, 'Do you know her?'

'Yes,' I sighed, 'She's my old girlfriend. I understand she took to drinking right after we split up those many years ago, and I hear she hasn’t been sober since.'

'My God!' says my wife, 'who would think a person could go on celebrating that long?'

And then the fight started...
- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -

I took my wife to a restaurant. The waiter, for some reason took my order first. "I'll have the steak, medium rare, please." He said, "Aren't you worried about the mad cow?"

"Nah, she can order for herself."

And then the fight started...
- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -

A woman was standing nude, looking in the bedroom mirror. She was not happy with what she saw and said to her husband, "I feel horrible; I look old, fat and ugly.. I really need you to pay me a compliment.'

The husband replied, 'Your eyesight's damn near perfect.'

And then the fight started.....

*Thanks, Michel. You forward great stuff.

'Tis the Season

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Intelligent Design?

A little girl asked her mother, 'Where did the very first people come from?'

The mother answered, 'God made Adam and Eve and they had children and then all mankind was made.'

Two days later the girl asked her father the same question. The father answered, 'Many years ago there were monkeys from which the human race evolved.'

The confused girl returned to her mother and said, 'Mom, how come you told me the human race was created by God, and Dad said we evolved from monkeys?

'The mother answered, 'Well, dear, it is very simple. I told you about my side of the family and Dad told you about his.'

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Falafel for Euros

My favorite place to eat in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood is the Amsterdam Falafelshop. It would even be my favorite place to eat in Adams-Morgan if the proprieters weren't my dear friends Scott and Arianne.

And now they take Euros. Check it out.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wedding Bell Blues

As long as Michel keeps forwarding things, I'll never lack for material:

Jennifer's wedding day was fast approaching. Nothing could dampen her excitement -- not even her parent's nasty divorce. Her mother had found the PERFECT dress to wear and would be the best dressed mother-of-the-bride ever!

A week later, Jennifer was horrified to learn that her father's new young wife had bought the exact same dress! Jennifer asked her to exchange it, but she refused. 'Absolutely not, I look like a million bucks in this dress and I'm wearing it,' she replied. Jennifer told her mother who graciously said, 'Never mind sweetheart. I'll get another dress. After all, it's your special day.'

A few days later, they went shopping and did find another gorgeous dress. When they stopped for lunch, Jennifer asked her mother, 'Aren't you going to return the other dress? You really don't have another occasion where you could wear it.'

Her mother just smiled and replied, 'Of course I do, dear. I'm wearing it to the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding.'

Saturday, November 21, 2009

English First!

There may be those among you who support including Spanish in ournational language. I for one am 110% against this! We must preservethe exclusivity and, above all, the purity of the English language.

To all the shlemiels, shlemazels, nebbishes, nudniks, klutzes, putzes, shlubs, shmoes, shmucks, nogoodniks and momzers that are out there pushing Spanish, I just want to say that I, for one, believe that English and only English deserves linguistic prominence in our American culture.

To tell the truth, itmakes me so farklempt, I'm fit to plotz. This whole Spanish schmeer gets me broyges, especially when I hear these erstwhile mavens and luftmenschen kvetching about needing to learn Spanish.

What chutzpah!

These shmegeges can tout their shlock about the cultural and linguistic diversityof our country, but I, for one, am not buying their shtick. It's all so much dreck, as far as I'm concerned. I exhort you all to be menschen about this and stand up to their fardrayte arguments and meshugganah, farshtunkene assertions. It wouldn't be kosher to doanything else.

Remember, when all is said and done, we have English and they've gotbubkes! The whole myseh is a pain in my tuchas!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Love It When a Friend Gets Published

Check out my friend Art Gershman's contribution to the current issue of Intellectual Property Today.

Here's the waaaay cool cover.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Jamey Turner's Glass Harp

I've been listening to Jamey Turner on street corners for darned near two decades. He makes astonishing music. He's a born educator. He plays at Mozart Festivals around the country. If you ever have the chance to see (and hear) him, you'll be cheating yourself if you pass it up.

Here are two videos. The first is Mozart.

I'll let you guess on this one. Jamey gives the answer at the very end.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Netiquette for Listservs

I have been working for years to help establish a set of listservs for the volunteers who pay my salary. Eventually we may have 21. Today we launched the first of three scheduled to go up this year.

If you ever need to start a listserv, here's a "Netiquette Guide" I put together by borrowing from other sources. (The sources are acknowledged at the bottom).

After the "Netiquette Guide" is an e-mail I got from a volunteer I'm fond of. It was just the tonic I needed after a day of wrestling with unexpected technical issues.

Netiquette Guide
To ensure that your listserv is a useful, hassle-free service, it’s a good idea for you to familiarize yourself with the Terms and Conditions of use that you agreed to when you signed up to participate in the listserv. It contains the governing rules.

However, many other institutions have developed informal guidance on the etiquette of listserv participation. (The neologism “netiquette” has come to be used to describe this kind of guidance.)

What follows draws from their work. At the end of this document you will find links to that work. They contain additional helpful suggestions.

  1. Please do not forward jokes or any other message that you received from someone else unless you have that person’s explicit permission. Once you send it to the list, you cannot control where else it will wind up. If you would not send it out on your own letterhead, please do not forward it to the list.
  2. Please do not send anything to the list that you do not want seen in public. (See #1).

  3. Do not quote your fees on a listserv. Price-fixing is an anti-competitive practice, an antitrust violation, unethical, and a very bad idea. Don’t go there.
  4. Commercial messages are not permitted, nor are attachments. If you want to send someone an attached file, please do it in a private e-mail message, not by sending it to the list.
  5. Please do not send copyrighted material unless you own the copyright or have explicit permission from the author to do so. Instead, write a short description about the item and post the URL or Web address of where the copyrighted material can be found.
  6. Please do not offer to sell or copy software illegally. Software is covered by strict licensing agreements.
  7. When you participate in a listserv, it is not always necessary to send a reply to the entire list. Please be careful when hitting the reply button, especially if you do NOT want your reply to be read by the entire list. It is often wiser to respond by e-mail, directly to the initial poster.
  8. When you respond to a message, please edit your reply to quote only enough of the initial message to place your comment into context. You can cut out the parts that aren't necessary, put your reply in the message body, and indicate the omissions with ellipses.

    Here’s the model:

    Original posting --- Subject: Judge-shopping
    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and wonder if anyone out there has any advice or ideas. The prosecutors seem to get notice of who’s sitting in which courtroom on which days. I can’t seem to get the same information from the Court, and our prosecutor friends seem to guard the information quite zealously, albeit courteously. Does anyone know how they get information about who’s sitting where, or how defense lawyers can get it, too, so we’re all on a “level playing field.”
    Bobby Pinn

    Response --- Subject: Judge-shopping – REPLY
    "…Does anyone know how they get information about who’s sitting where, or how defense lawyers can get it, too…."

    The deputies at the clerk's office have the information. In my experience, they will provide it to anyone who asks.
    Scott Free

  9. Please do not send a reply that just says "Me, too" or some equivalent response. Too many listservs are clogged by hundreds of "Me, too’s.” Listservs die if participants unsubscribe because their in-boxes are getting clogged with too many unnecessary or repetitive responses.

  10. If you are replying to a post, it is very helpful to put the word “Reply” on the subject line.
  11. Please do not send messages without something on the subject line.
  12. Please proofread your messages. Look for spelling and grammar errors. Your posting will be read by many of your peers.

  13. Please do not use all capital letters. On the Internet, this is considered to be SHOUTING!
  14. Please review the tone of your message. Ask yourself what your reaction would be if you received it. Look for any areas that might be misunderstood and rewrite these sentences to remove any ambiguity. If you are asking a question, please be sure to include enough details about the problem to permit useful responses. Try to keep your messages terse and to the point. Remember, your peers are as busy as you are. Large blocks of text can discourage recipients from reading your message, at all.
  15. Please do not “flame” people on the listserv. Flaming means insulting people. Again, if you wouldn’t put it on your letterhead, don’t put it on the list.
  16. Please don't be excessively critical of people's queries posted to the listserv. Many people are new to listservs. If their error is one of etiquette, you could send them a private message and gently make suggestions you think warranted.
  17. If, in your view, a posting is a clear-cut violation of the Terms and Conditions all participants have agreed to, please contact your list’s volunteer listserv coordinator(s). In consultation with the professional staff, the offending participant will be notified formally of his or her breach and of what consequences can follow, including suspension from the list for a period of time or, in the most egregious cases, termination of the participant’s inclusion on the list.
  18. Please watch the subject carefully. If a subject starts to go off the topic, those replying should indicate that on the subject line. This will allow recipients to delete off-topic messages.

    Here’s the model: “Subject: Expert Witness – Off Topic”.

    This indicates that the subject matter is no longer Expert Witnesses.

    A better practice, if your response is off-topic, is to start a brand new discussion thread.

  19. Keep messages short and to the point. If you are going to post a long reply, please indicate that on the subject line.

    Here’s the model: “Subject: Expert Witnesses - Long Reply."
  20. Your signature should be at the bottom of all your e-mails and your signature should be short. It should never be more than six to eight lines long.
This Netiquette Guide draws on the following sources:




Acknowledgment and thanks are owed to:

The International Association of Technological University Libraries,
The Maryland State Bar Association, and
The Tucson Computer Society,

for posting their netiquette documents on the web.
And here's a truly awesome response:

I have this really funny jke that Im going to forward to you. ITS BEEN GOING AROUND THE INTERNET AND ITS HILARIOUS. Its about Judge Smith, on the Superior Court, and this incredibly stupid thing he did with his girlfriend and wht happened after his wife found out. Geez, he's such an idiot! Seriously, I dont' think he's ever done a single smart thing in his life. What the fuck is wrong with him? Anyway, he called me, looking for lrgal advice, but when I told him I bill $375 per hour, he hung up on me. (By the way, if you ever need a good lawyer, call me.) And I'm bummed he didn't hire me, because handling his case would've been so easy. I was just going to use a copy of a settlement agreement that a lawyer used in another case of mine. It is a copyrighted agreement, but that other lawyer won't find out about it anyway. I just think its stupid to pay for things unnecessarily, ya know? (By the way, if you want a copy of the disk that the agreement is on, just let me kniw.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

But What's Their Excuse?

These are excerpted from a paper on challenges facing our schools. Unbelievable!*

My son is under a doctor's care and should not take PE today. Please execute him.

Please exkuce lisa for being absent she was sick and I had her shot.

Dear school: please ecsc's john being absent on jan. 28, 29, 30, 31,32 and also 33.

Please excuse gloria from jim today. she is administrating.

Please excuse roland from p.e. for a few days. Yesterday he fell out of a tree and misplaced his hip.

John has been absent because he had two teeth taken out of his face.

Carlos was absent yesterday because he was playing football. he was hurt in the growing part.

Megan could not come to school today because she has been bothered by very close veins.

Chris will not be in school cus he has an acre in his side.-- Please excuse ray friday from school. he has very loose vowels.

Please excuse pedro from being absent yesterday. he had (diahre, dyrea, direathe), the shits. [words in ( )'s were crossed out].

please excuse Tommy for being absent yesterday. he had diarrhea, and his boots leak.

Irving was absent yesterday because he missed his bust.

Please excuse jimmy for being. it was his father's fault.

I kept Billie home because she had to go Christmas shopping because i don't know what size she wear.

Please excuse Jennifer for missing school yesterday. We forgot to get the Sunday paper off the porch, and when we found it Monday. we thought it was Sunday.

Sally won't be in school a week from Friday. we have to attend her funeral.

My daughter was absent yesterday because she was tired. she spent a weekend with the marines.

Please excuse Jason for being absent yesterday. he had a cold and could not breed ell.

Please excuse Mary for being absent yesterday. she was in bed with gramps.

Gloria was absent yesterday as she was having a gang over.

Please excuse Brenda. she has been sick and under the doctor.

MaryAnn was absent December 11-16, because she had a fever, sore throat, headache and upset stomach. her sister was also sick, fever and sore throat, her brother had a low grade fever and ached all over. i wasn't the best either, sore throat and fever. There must be something going around, her father even got hot last night.

*I meant that. These are unbelievable. I'm confident this is a hoax. But funny.

Demotivational Posters

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Friday, October 30, 2009

Funny Pumpkin Pictures II

My new friend Tina posted these on Facebook. They're awesome.

Click here for additional Funny Pumpkin Pictures. They're from an old post that's proven popular.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hey Jude, You Need a Flow Chart

A funny from the newest member of my blog-fodder joke-forwarding network.

Thanks to Wendy, who makes working in Dilbert-land almost bearable.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Lesson in a Pair of Pants

Jack was going to be married to Jill, so his father sat him down for a little fireside chat.....

He said "Jack, let me tell you something. On my wedding night in our honeymoon suite, I took off my pants and handed them to your mother, and said, 'Here, try these on.'

"So, she did and said, 'These are too big, I can't wear them.'

"I replied, 'Exactly. I wear the pants in this family and I always will.'

"Ever since that night we have never had any problems."

"Hmmm, "said Jack. He thought that might be a good thing to try. So on his honeymoon, Jack took off his pants and said to Jill, "Here try these on."

So she did and said, "These are too large, they don't fit me."

Jack said, "Exactly. I wear the pants in this family and I always will, and I don't want you to ever forget that."

Then Jill took off her pants and handed them to Jack and said, "Here, you try on mine."

So he did and said, "I can't get into your pants."

Jill said, "Exactly. And if you don't change your attitude, you never will."*

*As always, thanks Michel

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Is It Time to Start Wearing Paper Bags Over Our Heads Yet?

Q. What do you call 47 millionaires sitting around a TV watching the Super Bowl?
A. The Washington Redskins.

Q. What do the Redskins and Robert Schuller have in common?
A. They both can make 70,000 people stand up and yell "Jesus Christ".

Q. How do you keep the Redskins out of your yard?
A. Put up a goal post.

Q. Where do you go in D.C. in case of a tornado?
A. To FedEx Field - they never have a touchdown there!

Q. What do you call a Redskin with a Super Bowl ring?
A. Senior Citizen

Q. What's the difference between the Redskins and a dollar bill?
A. You can still get four quarters out of a dollar bill.

Q. What do the Redskins and opossums have in common?
A. Both play dead at home and get killed on the road.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bayard Rustin and the 2009 March on Washington

My friend Joyce came down from NYC on a bus sponsored by Audra McDonald for the big civil rights march yesterday. We met up amidst 300,000 of our closest friends and had a wonderful time.

Bayard Rustin is one of my personal heroes. He organized the 1963 March on Washington where Dr. King made his "I Have a Dream" speech. He was the principal aide to labor and civil rights pioneer A. Phillip Randolph. He was 20th-century America's foremost strategist, practitioner and teacher of non-violent civil disobedience. That's not my assessment. It was Gandhi's.

Yes, that Gandhi.

It's why Gandhi invited Rustin to study in India after WWII.

Anyway, if you've never heard of Rustin, you're missing a key piece of the history of the 20th century. John D'Emilio's biography, Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin, is well worth giving a read.

Part of why you don't know about Rustin is that he was gay. So he lived in the shadows of peace movements, civil rights campaigns and coordinated acts of non-violent resistance that could not have happened without him.

I was tickled appropriately pink to hear his name and spirit invoked often and with due reverence yesterday.

One thing I love to do at political protests is read the signs. The two best I saw were:

A) A body-length placard worn by a thoroughly suburban looking teenager which read "I CAN'T BELIEVE WE STILL HAVE TO PROTEST ABOUT THIS SHIT", and

B) The one I've plucked from twitpics, below:

Joyce and I saw these folks on the Capitol grounds.

It's irreverent, perhaps even to the point of blasphemy for some, but I have no dog in that fight.


Effing brilliant. You go, church ladies!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Because Ye Were Strangers in the Land of Egypt...

I got an appeal for contributions this morning, to help people walloped by Typhoon Ketsana and the Pacific Earthquakes.

Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) Director of Development wrote:

As you've seen in the news, at the end of September, Typhoon Ketsana struck the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia, causing hundreds of deaths and displacing thousands of families.

A few days later, powerful earthquakes struck the Pacific near American Samoa, triggering three separate tsunami waves, killing over a thousand people, many in the West Sumatran capital of Padang. Subsequent storms killed hundreds of people in the Philippines and millions have been displaced from their homes due to flooding.

Numerous organizations are providing life-saving aid in these areas. For a list of some of the organizations that are accepting donations for this effort go to www.urj.org/relief.

Rabbi Marla J. Feldman
Director of Development
Union for Reform Judaism

To which I'll add only this:

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
But, if I am for myself alone, then what am I?
And if not now, when?
Jewish Sage
(circa 110 BCE - 10 CE)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Mental Health

This post got me to thinking. After I read it, I commented, and then realized that, with some editing, I had my first October blog post:

I've written before about my own stuggles with chronic depression. I am absolutely confident I'd be dead without chemical intervention.

Both my father and my paternal grandmother were suicides, so pshrinks drool like a kennel full of Pavlov's dogs when they hear my family history. The meds put a floor under how sad I can get. I might be miserable, but I don't tip over into suicidal. And when not in the grip of an acute episode, I'm capable of as much joy as any other average twit.

Beyond meds and talk therapy, a couple of other things help.

(A) One is remembering the First Rule of Holes: If you find yourself in one --- STOP DIGGING. Because it's hard to apply the judgment this rule relies on when you're depressed, loving, honest feedback from family and a competent therapist are critical.

(B) Another is the old joke about how many psychiatrists it takes to change a lightbulb. (Just one, but the liightbulb has to want to change.) Again, lovingkindness from those around you is sometimes the only motivation you have left for changing, because the depression obscures your ability to see that change is even possible.

Ultimately, I had to decide for myself to find the help I needed. That entailed, among other things, accepting the idea that depression is an illness, not a character flaw. Crucial to my finally accepting that idea was the encouragement of friends and family.

Withdrawal is a symptom of depression. If someone you love, or even just like, is withdrawing and spiraling downward, reach out to them. There's no guarantee you'll be the right person at the right time, but you might be.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Redneck Fire Detector

Forwarders make my day.

Jeff Foxworthy was doing this particular gag more than a decade ago, as a zinger.

It works just as well as a sight gag:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hit Count

This time of year, the hit count on my blog goes way up, with people looking for funny pumpkin pictures, funny turkey pictures, and funny Santa pictures.

I noted this on my Facebook page recently. (By the way, if any of you have not yet friended me on FB, especially if you will join my Mafia Wars gang, what in blazes are you waiting for? We have thugs to whack!)

A good friend saw my FB post and sent this picture along. Her daughter is a published oncology expert who also finds time to make birthday cupcake burgers for vegetarian friends:

Bravo, friend's daughter!!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Her Secret Garden

This is truly an amazing x-rated illusion - make sure that the kids are all tucked up in bed before watching!

Okay, watch this lady magician....where does she hide it ??? This is filmed in a Montreal Theater, and is a magic show that you won't see on American TV!

Amazing Kreskin, Houdini , Blaine, Copperfield,................. get out of town!!!

You'll probably have to watch this more than once.*

*Thanks, Michel

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Speak English!

An old friend posted this on her Facebook page. Does anybody know the source? I'd like to shake his/her hand.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Truth in Advertising?

More likely this is creative use of photoshop. But if I saw it on the road, I'd probably veer into a telephone pole from laughter.

Speaking of which: Who was Alexander Graham Belsky? (Answer to be found as the first comment to this post.)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wisdom and Chuckles

My mom forwarded these.

My mom's pretty awesome.

If the rich could hire other people to die for them, the poor could make a wonderful living.
Yiddish Proverb

The wise man, even when he holds his tongue, says more than the fool when he speaks .
Yiddish Proverb

What you don't see with your eyes, don't invent with your mouth.
Yiddish proverb

A hero is someone who can keep his mouth shut when he is right.
Yiddish Proverb

One old friend is better than two new ones.
Yiddish Proverb

One of life's greatest mysteries is how the boy who wasn't good enough to marry your daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world.
Jewish Proverb

A wise man hears one word and understands two.
Yiddish Proverb

"Don't be so humble - you are not that great."
Golda Meir (1898-1978) to a visiting diplomat

Pessimism is a luxury that a Jew can never allow himself.
Golda Meir

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
Albert Einstein

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.
Albert Einstein

Intellectuals solve problems; geniuses prevent them.
Albert Einstein

You can't control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.
Yiddish proverb

I don't want to become immortal through my work. I want to become immortal through not dying.
Woody Allen

Imagination is more important than knowledge.
Sign hanging in Einstein's office at Princeton .

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sometimes, Michel Forwards Stuff That's a Little Racy

I'm pretty sure this one should be filed under:

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I Dedicate this Blessing to Edward Moore Kennedy

My friend Michel forwarded this prayer to me. I do not know its origin, but if someone does, please tell me. I'd love to credit the author. I'd love to meet the author.

I've edited it a wee bit, for gender-neutrality in naming the Deity. Also, as regular readers (all 12 of you) know, I generally follow the Jewish custom of substituting a hyphen for one letter in the name of the Eternal One. We do this, so the teaching says, in order not to write G-d's name on anything that can be easily destroyed - torn, burned, discarded, or, in the case of a blog, deleted or hacked.

Here 'tis:

G-d in Heaven,

Help us remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry and spend a few precious moments with her children.

Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man who can't make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old college student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting his student loans for next semester.

Remind us, Eternal One, that the scary looking bum, begging for money in the same spot every day (who really ought to get a job!) is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares.

Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slow through the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report she got back last week, this will be the last year that they go shopping together.

G-d, please remind us each day that, of all the gifts you give us, the greatest gift is love. It is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. Open our hearts not to just those who are close to us, but to all humanity. Let us be slow to judge and quick to forgive, show patience, empathy and love.

If you send this to people, then you have a chance to touch people.

Working for G-d on earth doesn't pay much,
but the retirement plan is out of this world.

And let those who will, say:


Friday, August 28, 2009

Funny Forwarders Make Blogger's Block Manageable*

A housewife takes a lover during the day, while her husband is at work. Her 9-year-old son as hiding in the closet. Her husband came home unexpectedly, so she hid her lover in the closet.

The boy now has company.

Boy: "Dark in here.."

Man: "Yes it is."

Boy: "I have a baseball."

Man: "That's nice"

Boy: "Want to buy it?"

Man: "No, thanks."

Boy: "My dad's outside.."

Man: "OK, how much?"

Boy: "$250."

In the next few weeks, it happens again that the boy and the mom's lover are in the closet together.

Boy: "Dark in here.."

Man: "Yes, it is."

Boy: "I have a baseball glove."

Man: "How much?"

Boy: "$750."

Man: "Fine."

A few days later, the father says to the boy, "Grab your glove. Let's go outside and toss the baseball."

The boy says, "I can't! I sold them."

The father asks, "How much did you sell them for?"

The son says,"$1,000."

The father says, "That's terrible to overcharge your friends like that. That is way more than those two things cost. I'm going to take you to church and make you confess."

They go to church and the father makes the little boy sit in the confession booth and closes the door.

The boy says, "Dark in here"

The priest says, "Don't start that shit again."

*Thanks Debbie. :)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

One Step Closer to Equal Rights Under Law August 26th, 1920

Colby Proclaims Woman Suffrage
Signs Certificate of Ratification at His Home Without Women Witnesses

Militants Vexed at Privacy
Wanted Movies of Ceremony but Both Factions Are Elated -- Wilson Sends Message


The signing of the proclamation took place at that hour at Secretary Colby's residence, 1507 K Street Northwest, without ceremony of any kind, and the issuance of the proclamation was unaccompanied by the taking of movies or other pictures, despite the fact that the National Woman's Party, or militant branch of the general suffrage movement, had been anxious to be represented by a delegation of women and to have the historic event filmed for public display and permanent record.Washington, Aug. 26 -- The half-century struggle for woman suffrage in the United States reached its climax at 8 o'clock this morning, when Bainbridge Colby, as Secretary of State, issued his proclamation announcing that the Nineteenth Amendment had become a part of the Constitution of the United States.

Secretary Colby did not act with undue haste in signing the proclamation, but only after he had given careful study to the packet which arrived by mail during the early morning hours containing the certificate of the Governor of Tennessee that that State's Legislature had ratified the Congressional resolution submitting the amendment to the States for action.

No Suffrage Leaders See Signing
None of the leaders of the woman suffrage movement was present when the proclamation was signed.

"It was quite tragic," declared Mrs. Abby Scott Baker of the National Woman's Party. "This was the final culmination of the women's fight, and, women, irrespective of factions, should have been allowed to be present when the proclamation was signed. However the women of America have fought a big fight and nothing can take from them their triumph."

Leaders of both branches of the woman's movement- the militants, headed by Miss Alice Paul, and the conservatives, led by Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt -- some of whom had been on watch nearly all night for the arrival of the Tennessee Governor's certification, visited the State Department, and the militants sought to have Secretary Colby go through a duplication of the signing scene in the presence of movie cameras. This Mr. Colby declined to do, on the ground that it was not necessary to detract from the dignity and importance of the signing of the proclamation by staging a scene in imitation of the actual signing of the proclamation.

In informal conversation with newspaper men late into this afternoon Secretary Colby said that "effectuating suffrage through proclamation of its ratification by the necessary thirty-six States was more important than feeding the movie cameras."

At the same time Mr. Colby congratulated the women of the country on the successful culmination of their efforts in the face of discouragements, and declared the day "marks the opening of a great and new era in the political life of the nation."

"I confidently believe," said the Secretary, "that every salutary, forward and upward force in our public life will receive fresh vigor and reinforcement from the enfranchisement of the women of America. To the leaders of this great movement I tender my sincere congratulations. To every one, from the president, who uttered the call to duty, whenever the cause seemed to falter, to the humblest worker in this great reform, the praise not only of this generation but of posterity will be freely given."

Reads Message from President
Speaking tonight at the woman's suffrage meeting in Poll's Theatre, Secretary Colby made the following references to President Wilson:

"There never was a man more deeply or profoundly convinced of the justice of the suffrage cause than Woodrow Wilson. And there never was a party leader who held his party with more stern, austere and unbending insistence to the performance of a duty dictated by high principle:

"The President called me on the telephone this morning. It is a private wire that connects the office of the Secretary of State with the library of the President. And he asked me if I had been invited to address this meeting tonight. He expressed his pleasure when I told him that I had, and said: 'I hope you will let nothing interfere with your attendance.' He said:

"'Will you take the opportunity to say to my fellow citizens that I deem it one of the greatest honors of my life that this great event, the ratification of this amendment, should have occurred during the period of my administration.'

"'And he said, further:

"'Please say also that nothing has given me more pleasure than the privilege that has been mine to do what I could to advance the cause of ratification, and to hasten the day when the womanhood of America would be recognized by the nation on the equal footing of citizenship that it deserves.'"

Present Memorial to Wilson
Late this afternoon Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, head of the National American Suffrage Association, and Mrs. Helen H. Gardiner, another active worker in that organization, were received at the White House by President and Mrs. Wilson. The National Woman's Party, known as the militants and a rival organization to that headed by Mrs. Catt, was not represented.
Mrs. Catt and Mrs. Gardiner presented to the President a memorial of appreciation in the form of a bound volume, a page coming from each State, for the work he did for suffrage. They had expected to receive from the Presidency a written message to be read tonight at the big mass meeting and jubilee at Poll's Theatre over the ratification of the amendment, but the President informed them he had handed it to Secretary Colby and that the latter would include it in his remarks to the women at the mass meeting.

One page of the volume presented to the President is taken up with the tribute from the New York organization, the first paragraph of which reads:

"Dear Mr. President: The women of this organization of a million and a quarter enrolled members have a special reason for loyalty and gratitude. Your stalwart advocacy of our campaign last year contributed materially to our victory in New York State."

This is signed:
"New York State Woman Suffrage Party, Harriet Burton Laidlaw, Mary Garret Hay, Laura J. Starko Belknap, Narcissa Cox Vanderlip, Muriel Rosalie Edge, Katrina Ely Tiffany."

The mass meeting was attended by women from every section of the country and a number of officials of the administration, including members of the Cabinet, were present.

Factions Dispute Over Ceremony
Differences between the rival organizations of suffragists as to who should be present at the signing of the proclamation developed yesterday, and as no agreement could be brought about between them, it is believed that Secretary Colby decided to sign the proclamation in his own home to avoid a clash at his office.

"It was decided," said the Secretary in a statement this afternoon, "not to accompany this simple ministerial action on my part with any ceremony or setting. This secondary aspect of the subject has regretfully been the source of considerable contention as to who shall participate in it and who shall not. Inasmuch as I am not interested in the aftermath of any of the friction or collisions which may have been developed in the long struggle for the ratification of the amendment, I have contented myself with the performance in the simplest manner of the duty devolving upon me under the law."

Representatives of both factions visited the State Department this morning. Mrs. Catt and members of her party were photographed by movie operators as they left the State Department. Miss Alice Paul and her associates of the militant wing of the suffragists waited in the corridor of the State Department to be seen by the Secretary of State, who sent word he would receive them, but at this moment the Spanish Ambassador arrived and took precedence over the delegation of militants.

As time wore on the militant delegation thinned and finally left the department without having an audience with the Secretary of State.

Secretary Colby late this afternoon was asked by newspaper men to picture the scene that took place at his home when the final chapter of the story of ratification was reached.

Colby Describes the Signing
"The package containing the certified record of the action of the Legislature of the State of Tennessee," said Mr. Colby, "came in on a train which reached Washington some time during the early morning hours. I was awakened by Charles L. Cooke of the State Department at about a quarter to 4 o'clock this morning, who said that the packet from the Governor of Tennessee had arrived. I told him to bring it to me."

Secretary Colby was then asked whether Mr. Cooke brought the packet to him forthwith.
"He brought it to me in about ten minutes," replied the Secretary. "There were some legal matters connected with the ratification that I wished to have examined by the chief law officer of the State Department with instructions to bring the papers to me at my home at 8 o'clock this morning.

"I had received a large number of messages asking me to act on the amendment with insistent promptitude. Fear was strong in some minds that the 'antis' would effect some sort of injunction from the courts to interfere with my proclamation of the completion of the act of ratification. While it was not my own opinion that it would be becoming for me to resort to undue eagerness to avoid an opportunity for judicial interferences, I saw no reason whatever why I should conspicuously loiter.

"I confess to a disinclination to signing it in the wee morning hours of the night, believing that would not be conducive to a dignified function of so important a character, and thought that 8 o'clock in the morning would be a fair hour for action in the matter."

Secretary Colby was asked whether he had eaten breakfast before he signed the proclamation.

"Breakfast is an unimportant function with me," replied the Secretary with a smile. "I may say that I had time to partake of about one and one-half cups of coffee before I signed the proclamation."

"Then," the Secretary continued, "that about concludes the odyssey of the morning's proceedings."

Paraphrases Dewey at Manila
"You remember," he continued, "the simple way in which the late Admiral Dewey went about the opening of his battle at Manila Bay, how he waited until morning to enter Manila Bay, went up on deck, wiped the egg stains of breakfast from his moustache, observed the disposition of the enemy's ships and of his own, which had crossed the mines during the night, and then taking out a cigar, turned to one of his Captains and said, 'When you are ready, you may fire, Gridley.' So I turn to the women of America and say: 'You may now fire when you are ready. You have been enfranchised.'"

Secretary Colby in response to other questions said that he had used no golden pen prepared for the occasion, but an ordinary steel pen, in signing the proclamation. It was one of his regular pens, he explains, and when asked to whom it would be given, replied: "I have promised it to dozens of persons."

Asked whether he would give the pen to the National American Women's Suffrage Association, the National Woman's Party, or send it to the Smithsonian Institution, Secretary Colby said with a smile, "I should not be surprised if it found its way there."

Immediately after the announcement that Secretary Colby had signed the proclamation. Alice Paul said:

"August 26th will be remembered as one of the great days in the history of the women of the world and in the history of this republic.

"All women must feel a great sense of triumph and of unmeasurable relief at the successful conclusion of a long and exhausting struggle.

"The suffrage amendment is now safe beyond all reasonable expectation of legal attack. This opinion was secured from high legal authorities by officers of the National Woman's Party, who devoted their efforts after the signing of the ratification proclamation to discover what further steps, if any, would be necessary to protest the Amendment. "Pending injunction cases were automatically thrown out of court by the signing of the proclamation according to the consensus of legal opinion. The only possible legal attack is now through a taxpayers' suit to prevent the women in an individual State from voting."

National headquarters of the Woman's Party will be maintained. A national convention of its members will be called to decide upon the party's future policy. Alice Paul will go to New York probably on Saturday to hold a meeting of the Executive Committee to discuss plans and a date for the convention, it was said.

McAdoo Sends Congratulations
William G. McAdoo was one of the first to congratulate the Woman's Party on the signing of the proclamation in a message to Mrs. Abby Scott Baker, political Chairman of the party. He said:

"I know how justly elated you and all the splendid women who have been working so devotedly with you are today over the consummation of the great thing for which you and they have fought. You have had a conspicuously influential part in the triumphs of woman's suffrage. I know with what intelligence and courage you have gone at the task. I am rejoiced not alone for you, but for all the women of America, at this colossal achievement for humanity and civilization."

Francis J. Heney of Los Angeles wired Mrs. Abby Scott Baker:

"Hearty congratulations on success which is yours. The victory is due to the unconquerable fighting spirit of your little band of irreconcilables. More power to all of you."

"There is absolutely nothing that can be done now to upset or nullify the gratification of suffrage by the Tennessee Legislature," said Mrs. Harriet Taylor Upton. Vice Chairman of the Republican National Executive Committee, and President of the Ohio Suffrage Association. "I regard the suffrage victory in Tennessee as perfectly safe right now and nothing can undo it. Otherwise Mrs. Catt and I would never have left Nashville and come to Washington.

"And right here I want to publicly give credit to those stalwart mountaineer Republicans of the Tennessee Legislature who stood pat on suffrage from start to finish and who made suffrage possible. Had it not been for their faithfulness and their devotion to what they believed was right, suffrage would never have won out in Tennessee. You can quote me on that and make it as I really believe."

Mrs. Upton, accompanied by Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, President of the International Suffrage Association, confer with Secretary Colby and with officials of the Department of Justice and also to attend the suffrage jubilee held here tonight.