Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Bad Year? WTF?

Rescue of a collapsing economy.
Financial reform.
An orderly drawdown in Iraq.
Effective use of Predator drones in Afghanistan, Waziristan, Yemen, and anyplace else we could I.D. Al Queda.
Fearless defense of unpopular Mosque-building near the Ground Zero strip club and Ground Zero off-track-betting parlor.
Health care reform.
START ratification.
Abolition of don't ask don't tell.

WTF have my peers on the left been up to. Our job is to get out the story, not snipe from the sidelines. Maybe if we weren't such absolutists, disdainful of the give-and-take of democratic lawmaking, we could have avoided a shellacking in November.

As a progressive leader, Obama gets an A+.
As his natural constituency, we're lucky to get by with a C-.

Oh, yeah: And making the first U.S. presidency of a Black man almost a non-story for all but the most clueless or bigoted of Americans.


How 'bout a resolution to be better stewards of the liberal/progressive cause this year?

Imagine what he could do if we all pulled together.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Season's Greetings 2010

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 (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.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thank a Service Member

If you go here, you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and have it sent to a service member deployed overseas

It's free and it only takes a few seconds. Wouldn't it be wonderful if our troops received a bunch of these?

Whether you support or oppose their deployment, the folks who volunteer to put themselves in harm's way on our behalf need to know we are support THEM.

Please take the time to do this mitzvah and please take the time to pass this link on to others.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Beefcake & Cheesecake

I posted these albums on FaceBook. They were found objectionable. What do you think?



Wednesday, November 24, 2010


An article detailing how one of the Mythbusters got through a TSA pat-down carrying 12 razors sparked some surprise when I posted it on Facebook with this comment:

"Intrusive, ridiculous and ineffectual.
El Al planes never blow up.
Can we PLEASE send some senior TSA officials to Ben-Gurion for a month?
Can we please make sure the ones we send aren't dolts?

I ♥ Mythbusters!"

Here's the original article:

I responded on FB to the surprise, but I like what I wrote well enough to reiterate it here.

"El Al foils bad guys with multiple, one-on-one conversations, in concentric layers before one gets anywhere near an airplane. They get in your face, literally, to look for things like dilating pupils, changes in skin coloration, twitches, tics and (I hope) a bunch of attributes that haven't found their way into the press. Often the questions don't matter anywhere near as much as the reaction, especially the reaction while under additional stress.

Undoubtedly, some of the attributes Israelis screen for would be suspect under U.S. law, including most especially our Bill of Rights. But many, I daresay most, would not.

Because the current protocol is ineffectual, it is ridiculous. If it was useful, I might not be so outraged.

The Bill of Rights protects against unlawful search and seizure, too.

Balancing these two fundamental rights (not to be profiled vs. not forcing Grandma to choose between being felt up by a stranger or ogled naked by a stranger) might be a hard call if the physical intrusion actually worked.

But the Mythbuster proved that it doesn't. So it's an easy call. There's nothing on the sexual assault side of the scale. On the EL Al-style countermeasures side, especially if the countermeasures are implemented by officials more sensitive to the requirements of our Constitution than Israel must be, the weight is tremendous.

Please note, I do not call for subcontracting our protection out to El Al security. I just want some non-dolts from the upper levels of TSA to spend a month at Ben-Gurion and see what parts of the Israeli approach could work in America.

I understand your surprise. I'm a knee-jerk, bleeding-heart ACLU-nik, and I have friends who've been stopped for DWB (Driving While Black). Still, civil liberties vs. security is a false dichotomy here.

We need to learn what we can from the Israelis, decide what we can't do as Americans, and implement protocols that actually protect us. What we're doing now violates the first rule of holes.

If you're in one --- stop digging."

What do you think?

TSA Slogans

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What do you do...

if you've got an elephant with three balls?

(For the answer, see first comment.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

LBJ and the Shackled Runner

Imagine a hundred-yard dash in which one of the two runners has his legs shackled together. He has progressed ten yards, while the unshackled runner has gone fifty yards. At that point the judges decide that the race is unfair. How do they rectify the situation? Do they merely remove the shackles and allow the race to proceed? Then they could say that "equal opportunity" now prevailed. But one of the runners would still be forty yards ahead of the other. Would it not be the better part of justice to allow the previously shackled runner to make up the forty-yard gap, or to start the race all over again? That would be affirmative action toward equality.
Commencement Address at Howard University (June 4, 1965)

Beware of Bears

It's easier to read if you cick on it.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Glenn Beck is a Dolt

He thinks he’s a conservative opinion-maker, like his betters (Bill Buckley, Bill Bennett, even Rush Limbaugh.) He’s not. He’s a fatally flawed advocate who’s made the supreme error of believing his own press notices.

Buckley always maintained that, as much as National Review would serve as the standard-bearer for intelligent conservatism and debunking the liberals he saw in ascendency, it was also intended to “drain the fever swamps of the right.” He was nearly alone among conservatives in confronting the John Birch Society. By sheer force of will and an unparalleled gift for sophisticated polemic, Buckley managed to turn the Birchers into pariahs, marginalized and consigned to the far-fringe.

Later in his career, he wrote a scholarly article, taking up nearly half his magazine, analyzing the question “Is Pat Buchanan an anti-semite?” It was a question conservatives needed to consider, but only Buckley had the courage to explore the topic in a serious way. His final answer was a bit more nuanced than some would have liked, but he found his way there with a scrupulous regard for facts, and how far the facts could take you.

To this day, Bennett, with whom I disagree, holds a warm spot in my heart for his dead-on candor when asked what he wouldn’t miss about being drug czar. “I won’t ever have to appear before Charlie Rangel again. The man’s a gasbag.” Truer words have rarely been spoken.

Except maybe for Bob Dole’s observation that the most dangerous territory on Capitol Hill was any ground between Chuck Schumer and a news camera.

The case of Limbaugh is perhaps the most apropos. Limbaugh knows, and he makes clear that he knows, that his principal job is as an entertainer. He started his career as an AM radio jock, playin’ the hits and makin’ your ride home more fun. I don’t doubt that he believes most of what he says, but it’s hard to listen to him for long without acknowledging his talent for humor and his infectious high-spiritedness. The man’s an entertainer wise enough not to be duped into believing his own publicity.

The dittoheads are another story. Mostly, they haven’t figured out that Limbaugh is doing schtick. I’m glad most of them come to any battle of wits unarmed.

An American who purports to be a political commentator, but says he had no idea what significance August 28th holds in America’s patriotic history, is not a political commentator to be treated with any seriousness. An American who discounts that significance when he hears of it, choosing instead to hijack Dr. King's words, merits contempt. Beck's pretense that his Take Back America hootenanny had something to do with civil rights was loathesome.

No one need boycott Beck, his employers or his advertisers. I’m confident he’ll eventually fall of his own weight. In the marketplace of ideas, nothing kills a bad idea better than good advertising. Sometimes it takes a while, but over the long haul, something approximating reason eventually prevails.

Here is a set of Beck quotes, with citations. His own words damn him far more than mine ever could.

"I am not saying that Barack Obama is a fascist. I'm not saying the Democrats are fascists. I'm saying the government under Bush and under Obama and under -- under all of the presidents that we've seen, or at least most of the presidents that we've seen for quite some time, are slowly but surely moving us away from our republic and into a system of fascism." [Fox News' Glenn Beck, 4/1/09]

About Obama’s health care initiatives, Beck told a caller: "Let me tell you something, the end game ... for Congress and this president -- and I don't know how many members of Congress even realize the game that they are either being used in or a pawn in. But believe me, they'll take ... the universal health care coverage over what ... skin they do have in it. They're going to come out -- this system is going to come out the other side dictatorial -- it is going to come out a fascist state." [Premiere Radio Network's The Glenn Beck Program, 7/27/09]

Beck analyzed the artwork decorating Rockefeller Plaza, and concluded, "So you have the hammer and the sickle. You have the artwork to Mussolini there, here in New York at Rockefeller Plaza." Beck said of a decoration on the Rockefeller building. So, let's just take it piece by piece, and I'll show you what this means.

First, the sun. The sun represents the bright tomorrow. Right here, underneath the boy, here is the sun. Show me the boy. This is the youth. The next one is the youth here, leading the way. Notice he is ahead of the horses. He's leading the way into the bright future of tomorrow.Now, this man standing on a chariot, the wheel. The wheel is always representative of industry in any of these progressive pictures or paintings or artwork. So you've got the wheel. Now, let's go to the horses, please. He is standing on a chariot. You've got the industry and the engines of industry, but who's in the back here?

Let's show you his hand. This man's strong hand is holding on to the reins tightly here, holding back the engines of industry being led into the bright future of tomorrow by a young boy. Who is this? Who is this?

This is the strong leader taking that -- using that industry and those machines to lead us into the bright future led by our children. Gee, who's having indoctrination next week? Oh, yeah, that's right. The president. Completely unrelated.

This represents, at the time this was made, Mussolini. This was Mussolini. By the way, the artist that made this -- his son, ironically and tragically died fighting the army of Mussolini years after this was made. This still is up in Rockefeller Plaza.

So you have the hammer and the sickle. You have the artwork to Mussolini there, here in New York at Rockefeller Plaza. [Fox News' Glenn Beck, 9/2/09]

Discussing Obama's "civilian national security force," Beck said, "I'm finding this -- this is the hardest part to connect to, because this is -- I mean, look, you know, David [Bellavia, former Army staff sergeant], what you just said is, you said, "I'm not comparing" -- but you are. I mean, this is what Hitler did with the SS. He had his own people. He had the brownshirts and then the SS. This is what Saddam Hussein -- so -- but you are comparing that. And I -- I mean, I think America would have a really hard time getting their arms around that." [Fox News' Glenn Beck, 8/27/09]

I get defending conservatism. I don’t get defending Beck.

Here’s the door, Mr. Beck. Don’t let it hit you in the ass on your way out.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

No Prayer in Schools? Nonsense.

Some charge that G-d's been thrown out of the schools. They must worship an awfully weak god.

No one can banish G-d from anywhere, let alone a school filled with innocent children, made in G-d's own image.

As for the lesser charge that prayer's been thrown out of the schools, I promise:

  • So long as there is algebra, there'll be prayer in schools.
  • So long as there are nerdy boys and unattainable cheerleaders, there'll be prayer in schools.
  • So long as there are cafeterias serving fare with the word "mystery" in its name, there'll be prayer in schools.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Prayer for Reconciliation

Whether we call our mutual grandfather Ibrahim or Abraham, we're all cousins. We're all taught to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our G-d.

We must condemn our blasphemous fanatics. We must nurture and heed those in our midst who truly sanctify the name of the Eternal One with prophetic calls for reconciliation.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

Salaam Aleikem
Alechem Shalom

And let those who will, say:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New and Improved Funny Halloween Pictures

As many of you know, I post funny Halloween, Thinksgiving, and Christmas pictures in a blatant attempt to pimp up my hit count. It works. In January through September, my daily counts are always measurable with two digits

In October through December, my daily hit counts are almost always over 100, and my monthly hit counts are in the thousands.

As a welcome side benefit, you get some extra giggles. It's the classic win-win situation.

So here are some new funny halloween pictures.


Friday, October 15, 2010


To see what happens when you have an engineer in your household who's got too much time on his hands, click here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Boobiethon 2010

Here's an unusual approach to fundraising:

Friday, October 8, 2010

Funny Pumpkin Pictures III

I've put up Funny Pumpkin pictures twice. It always makes my hit count go up.

Here's a sample:

Here's another:

For others, click here or here.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Changing Terminology

While the C-5 was turning over its engines, a female crewman gave the G.I.s on board the usual information regarding seat belts, emergency exits, etc.

Finally, she said, "Now sit back and enjoy your trip while your captain, Judith Campbell, and crew take you safely to Afghanistan."

An old MSgt. sitting in the eighth row thought to himself, "Did I hear her right? Is the captain a woman?"

When the attendant came by, he asked, "Did I understand you right? Is the captain a woman?"

"Yes," said the attendant, "in fact, this entire crew is female."

"My God," he said, "I wish I had two double scotch and sodas. I don't know what to think with only women up there in the cockpit."

"That's another thing, Sergeant," said the crew member, "we no longer call it the cockpit. It's the box office."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cousin Micki's on Broadway

She's the one in the glasses, next to the guy with the book. The show opens tonight.

I could just plotz.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

#600 - Chutzpah

My 600th blog post is a joke from my friend Steve. It's kind of fowl-mouthed, so please don't continue if your feathers are easily ruffled.

A man boards an airliner, takes his seat, and is surprised to find a large purple parrot in the seat next to him. The aircraft takes off and a pretty flight attendant walks down the aisle past the man and his seatmate.

"Hey, bitch," said the parrot, "bring me a whiskey and soda, and make it snappy!"

The flight attendant looks annoyed, but walks on. A minute later, she walks back up the aisle and the parrot pipes up again:

"Goddammit, you lazy whore where's my whiskey? Hurry it up!"

Visibly flustered, the flight attendant hurries up the aisle and returns quickly with the parrot's drink.

Impressed with the parrot's technique, the man decides to get some quick service for himself.

"Hey, slut," says the man, "get me a dry martini. And don't drag your sorry ass - I want it right now!"

The flight attendant turns red with anger and runs to the front of the plane. In a moment she returns with the First Officer and two burly male flight attendants. The crewmen seize the passenger and the parrot, jerk open the emergency door, and hurl them both out of the airplane at 20,000 feet.

As the two hurtle out the door, the parrot says to the man, "Ya know, for someone who can't fly, you got a lotta balls."

Sunday, August 29, 2010


We've just come with a new word. It's what a husband does when his wife is driving and he's holding the map.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Things Are Not Always As They Appear*

One night outside a small town, a fire started inside the local chemical plant. In the blink of an eye, it exploded into towering flames. The alarm went out to all fire departments for miles around. When the volunteer fire fighters appeared on the scene, the chemical company president rushed to the fire chiefs and said, "All our secret formulas are in the vault in the center of the plant. They must be saved. I'll give $50,000 to the fire department that brings them out intact."

But the roaring flames held the firefighters off. Soon more fire departments had to be called in as the situation became desperate. As the firemen arrived, the president shouted out that the offer was now $100,000 to the fire department who could save the company's secret files.

From the distance, a lone siren was heard as another fire truck came into sight. It was the nearby Chasidic Jewish rural township volunteer fire company composed mainly of Jewish, ultra-orthodox men over the age of 65. To everyone's amazement, their little, broken-down fire engine roared right past all the sleek newer engines parked outside the plant.

Without even slowing down, it drove straight into the middle of the inferno. Outside, the other firemen watched in amazement and disbelief as the Chasidic old-timers jumped off right in the middle of the fire and fought it back on all sides. It was a performance and effort never seen before. Within a short time, the Chasidic old-timers had extinguished the fire and saved the secret formulas.

The grateful chemical company president announced that for such a superhuman feat he was upping the reward to $200,000, and walked over to thank each of the brave Jewish fire fighters personally. A local TV news reporter rushed in to capture the event on film, asking their chief," What are you going to do with all that money?"

"Vell," said Chief Epstein, "Da foist ting ve gonna do is fix da brakes on dat focking truck!"

*Humor forwarded courtesy of my cousin Deb, who I can't wait to see over Labor Day at MiDC's Bar Mitzvah.**

**Egad, I'm old.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Jamey Turner's Glass Harp

I met three great kids this weekend, at a wedding. They were experimenting with variable wavelengths of sound, as propagated through friction, water and crystal.

OK, what they were really doing is that thing where you wet your finger and trace circles on the rim of a crystal glass. I love that.

I told one of them about Jamey Turner's glass harp, and suggested she check him out on YouTube. But maybe her Mom or Dad, or one of her uncles, aunts or grandparents will see this and forward it:

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.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Missing: Marc Wolin

I've blogged about this once before.

This most recent post is prompted by a call from an investigator.

Please do a mitzvah. Please help get word to your family that you're alive. You don't have to talk to, or be in touch with, anyone you don't want.

But please find a way to get a message to me, or to her.

If anybody has any idea of how to bring this to Marc's attention, please do.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Oh, Brother

A cowboy, who is visiting Wyoming from Texas, walks into a bar and orders three mugs of Bud. He sits in the back of the room, drinking a sip out of each one in turn. When he finishes them, he comes back to the bar and orders three more.

The bartender approaches and tells the cowboy, "You know, a mug goes flat after I draw it. It would taste better if you bought one at a time."

The cowboy replies, "Well, you see, I have two brothers. One is in Arizona, the other is in Colorado. When we all left our home in Texas, we promised that we'd drink this way to remember the days when we drank together. So I'm drinking one beer for each of my brothers and one for myself."

The bartender acknowledges that this is a nice custom, and leaves it there.

The cowboy becomes a regular in the bar, and always drinks the same way. He orders three mugs and drinks them in turn.

One day, he comes in and only orders two mugs. All the regulars take notice and fall silent. When he comes back to the bar for the second round, the bartender says, "I don't want to intrude on your grief, but I wanted to offer my condolences on your loss."

The cowboy looks quite puzzled for a moment, then a light dawns in his eyes and he laughs.

"Oh, no, everybody's just fine," he explains, "It's just that my wife and I joined the Baptist Church and I had to quit drinking."

"Hasn't affected my brothers though."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Right on Target

My mom's dear friend Kathleen passed this along to my mom, who passed it along to me. I'll see them both next weekend at the wedding of Kathleen's grandson. I'm going to tell them you laughed, so you might as well.

After he retired, Bob's wife insisted that he accompany her on her trips to Target.

Unfortunately, like most men, he found shopping boring and preferred to get in and get out. His wife loved to browse. Eventually, she received the following letter from the local Target:

Dear Mrs. [Redacted]:

Over the past six months, your husband has caused quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behavior and have been forced to ban both of you from the store. Our complaints against your husband are listed below and are documented by our video surveillance cameras.

1. June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in other people's carts when they weren't looking.

2. July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in House wares to go off at 5-minute intervals.

3. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official voice, "Code 3 in housewares. Get on it right away." This caused the employee to leave her assigned station and receive a reprimand from her supervisor. In turn, this resulted in a union grievance. The whole matter cost Target both time and money, for no good reason.

4. August 4: Went to the Service Desk and tried to put a bag of M&Ms on layaway.

5. August 14: Moved a 'CAUTION - WET FLOOR' sign to a carpeted area.

6. August 15: Set up a tent in the camping department and told the children shoppers he'd invite them in if they would bring pillows and blankets from the bedding department. 20 children obliged.

7. August 23: When a clerk asked if she could help him he began crying and screamed, "Why can't you people just leave me alone?" EMTs were called.

8. September 10: While handling guns in the hunting department, he asked the clerk where the antidepressants were.

9. October 3: Darted around the store suspiciously while loudly humming the 'Mission Impossible' theme.

10. October 6: In the auto department, he practiced his "Madonna look" by using different sizes of funnels.

11. October 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browsed through, yelled "PICK ME! PICK ME!"

12. October 21: When an announcement came over the loud speaker, he assumed a fetal position and screamed "OH NO! IT'S THOSE VOICES AGAIN!"

And last, but not least:
13. October 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door, waited awhile, then yelled very loudly, "Hey! There's no toilet paper in here." One of the clerks passed out.

Re-reading this list, it occurs to me that a number of these ideas might work well in a campaign of civil disobedience against Wal-Mart.

I'm just sayin'

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Heinlein Primer

A friend read a bunch of Heinlein quotes I posted to a Listserv e-mail list. He was too young to know Heinlein, but as a libertarian, he found the quotes interesting. He asked for some book recommendations. When I was done writing, I realized I had a blog post:

I'd start with The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Other great stand-alone novels:

Podkayne of Mars
The Puppet-Masters
The Rolling Stones
Red Planet
Stranger in a Strange Land

Then there are a whole series of interlocking short stories and novels collectively referred to as Heinlein's "Future History".

If you can find a collection of the short stories before you read the novels, the novels will make more sense. The best collection is called "The Past Through Tomorrow". As a bonus, the foreword includes a timeline of Heinlein's Future History.

After the short stories, the series of Future History novels are awesome.

They all feature a long-lived fellow called Lazarus Long and his kin.

Methuselah's Children and
Time Enough for Love are my favorites.

After that, you read more of the adult novels he wrote after 1963 or you read all of the books he wrote for a "juvenile" audience and marvel at the subversive stuff he got past a blue-nosed editor whose only care in the world was selling books to libraries. Or you mix them up.

For a laugh, after you've read any two or three things, look over "Grumbles From the Grave". It's the book of unmailed correspondence he'd always threatened to have his widow publish after his death and it's hilarious.

Beware of the desecration of his literary legacy she committed thereafter. She had alternative versions of a number of books republished, restoring 10s of thousands of words his editor cut out.

In most cases, his editor was right. What she's permitted to be done to Stranger in a Strange Land is especially distressing. It turns a damn near perfect science fiction novel into a book so fat and thick, its essence is smothered.

Not that I feel strongly about it or anything.

Thanks for asking. Heinlein is one of my favorite topics.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Does She Like Her Ass?

There is a new study about women and how they feel about their asses; the results were pretty interesting:

30% of women think their ass is too fat.

10% of women think their ass is too skinny.

The remaining 60% say they don't care, they love him, he's a good man and they wouldn't trade him for the world.

Monday, July 12, 2010

One Ark, One Humanity

Clergy Beyond Borders came to my attention because my friend and teacher, Rabbi Gerry Serotta, is a co-founder and serves as its Executive Director.

Gerry and his friend and colleague, Imam Yahya Hendi, CBB's Secretary-General, and all the rest of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim clergy who guide this blessed organization are leading the way to the repair of the world.

If only more of us would follow.
Keyn Yehi Ratzon.
May This be God's Will.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Computer Maintenance

A friend passed along a tip to me.

I'd thought I needed to have an eye exam, but it turns out my PC monitor needed cleaning.

There's a simple, open-source tool available online, to cut down on eyestrain if you spend much time in front of a computer screen.

You can find it here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Where Did I Come From?*

A 5th grader asked her mother the age-old question, 'How did I get here?'
Her mother told her, 'G-d sent you.'

'Did G-d send you, too?' asked the child
'Yes, dear,' the mother replied.

'What about Grandma and Grandpa?' the child persisted.
'He sent them also,' the mother said.

'Did He send their parents, too?' asked the child.
'Yes, Dear, He did,' said the mother patiently.

'So you're telling me that there has been NO sex in this family for 200 years?
No wonder everyone's so darn grouchy around here!'

*Thanks, Michel

Saturday, July 3, 2010

My Flag: The Next Big Viral Video?

A few preschools use this song in their commencement ceremonies. Two use it on a daily basis after the Pledge of Allegiance. It's thoroughly patriotic, thoroughly non-partisan, thoroughly life-affirming, and thoroughly beautiful. I'm so proud I know the guy who wrote it, I could just plotz.

Would you all please help make this 1-minute video go viral for Independence Day?


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The President's Speechwriter

Over at the website of Reform Immigration FOR America, they're inviting people to suggest what they'd like to hear President Obama say in his address about immigration tomorrow.

I couldn't resist:

I'd like the president to say:

No human being is illegal. People residing in the U.S. without legal authority to be here are still our brothers and sisters. Their immigration status violates the law, but they, themselves, ought not to be called 'illegal aliens'. It's a dehumanizing phrase that packs a double-wallop. 'Illegal'. 'Alien'. Whatever else I accomplish here today, I'd like to banish that phrase from our public discourse. Words matter. These words are unworthy.
I'd also like the president to say:
Every wave of voluntary immigrants to this nation's shores have enriched America. They've weaved themselves into our great American tapestry. They've helped create what it means to BE American.

My wife Michelle, and our children, Sasha and Malia, are descendants of IN-voluntary immigrants. Slaves. They were, by the laws of the day, not people at all, but mere chattel property. They were dehumanized. President Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, helped fix that. Nearly 150 years later, we're still working at the task.

But let no one gainsay this, Michelle's great-great-grandparents, and the waves of Affrican Americans who came here as they did --- and their children, and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren --- have enriched America in ways beyond compare. They've weaved themselves into our great American tapestry. They, too, have helped create what it means to BE American.
Finally, I'd like the president to say:
You'll never believe this, but I got most of the best lines in my speech from the blog over at the website of an organization called "Reform Immigragtion FOR America". It's at Check it out.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Student's Honest Lament

Our teacher asked us what our favorite animal was, and I said, "Fried chicken." She said I wasn't funny, but she couldn't have been right, everyone else in the class laughed.

My parents told me to always be truthful and honest, and I am. Fried chicken is my favorite animal. I told my dad what happened, and he said my teacher was probably a member of PETA. He said they love animals very much. I do, too. Especially chicken, pork and beef.

Anyway, my teacher sent me to the principal's office. I told him what happened, and he laughed too. Then he told me not to do it again.

The next day in class my teacher asked me what my favorite live animal was. I told her it was chicken. She asked me why, just like she'd asked the other children. So I told her it was because you could make them into fried chicken. She sent me back to the principal's office again. He laughed, and told me not to do it again.

I don't understand. My parents taught me to be honest, but my teacher doesn't like it when I am. Today, my teacher asked us to tell her what famous person we admire most.

I told her, "Colonel Sanders".

Guess where I am now ...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I've Been Called a Mother, but Only as a Prefix

My shul just made this announcement:

New Moms Circle Now Forming!
Open to all moms of chlldren under 5 yrs, and moms-to-be.
First play date is Sunday, June 13 at the temple, 1:30 - 2:30pm.
RSVP by June 10.

It prompted me to write this note:

Dear [Redacted],

Thanks for putting this together. Our son, [Redacted], is going to become Bar Mitzvah this summer, so I write not to join up, but to ask if you might consider widening the scope of this group a bit.

It's the dad in our family who stayed home with [Redacted] his first two-and-a-half years. He and I integrated a bunch of stroller groups and playgroups, but it wasn't entirely obstacle-free.

(A) At "Music Together," I was a novelty, but had no feeling of exclusion.

(B) Gymboree was pretty much the same.

(C) I was quite cheerfully welcomed into my local "Mothers First" chapter/playgroup and was happy to pay my dues. Being the only dad at the monthly Moms' Night Out (at a place like Bennigans or Crystal Thai) was usually cause for giggling by us all upon my arrival. Almost invariably, my arrival and announcement that I was looking for the Moms' Night Out group discombobulated the host or hostess.

But it grated a bit that, for two years, the fact that my wife and I had a joint checking account led to her name being enrolled in the national group with which our local chapter/play group was affiliated, rather than me, and that the occasional newsletter came addressed to her.

Five, count 'em five, calls to the national office never got it straightened out.

That one I filed under: "You can't win 'em all."

(D) At a play group at the late, not-so-lamented "Fun Company for Kids" (where the Target is now, at Skyline Mall on Route 7), I was actively shunned for two seasons and then gave up. The one parent in that group who treated me as a peer later told me that my failure to sign up for a third season was greeted by significant relief. Apparantly, I was viewed as having a lot of chutzpah to expect to be welcomed in a group where some moms breast-fed.

No one said I ogled or leered, which was a good thing because it would have been a lie, but the consensus was that even though it was obvious that I was careful to avert my eyes, my very presence made my group-mates uncomfortable.

That one I filed under: "Their loss."
At services this past Saturday, the D'var Torah started out being about tzitzit and tallessim. The Cantor talked about her own decision to wear a talit and opened the discussion up for comments about gender issues in Judaism. I mentioned the twinge of regret I'd felt when I saw the announcement of the new mom's group in this month's Bullettin.

The mom of a toddler picked up my refrain. She works outside the house. Her husband works from home, makes his own schedule (more-or-less) and would be a wonderful person to include in your group. But he wasn't inclined to change around nap times or other schedule-related matters to join up. She seemed pretty sure that he would have been more inclined to do it if the name made it more obvious he would be welcome.

He would be, wouldn't he?

I fear you will read this note and feel "No good deed goes unpunished." You volunteer to do a good and needed thing and some crank unloads his decade-old frustration on you. Please trust that this is not my intent.

I simply mean to point out an issue you might not have considered. If you find merit in my comments and observations, I hope you are moved to act on them. If not, I will pester you no more. You're doing a mitzvah by volunteering to coordinate this project, regardless.

With respect and warm regards, I am

Sincerely yours,


A Failure of Public Relations, Too

This is a great article. Bibi should read it. Hasbarah is crucial.

But when you think you're always right, you don't give much credit to opposing opinions.

Entebbe was a shining moment. But, Idi Amin robbed us of the Netanyahu whose whole life prepared him to lead Israel. May his memory be for a blessing.

Sadly, we're stuck with the one whose best work has been done as a furniture salesman.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Netanyahu vs. DiDC

Here's Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's un-edited explanation for the events of recent days. (You can find my response below.):

Once again, Israel faces hypocrisy and a biased rush to judgment. I’m afraid this isn’t the first time.

Last year, Israel acted to stop Hamas from firing thousands of rockets into Israel’s towns and cities. Hamas was firing on our civilians while hiding behind civilians. And Israel went to unprecedented lengths to avoid Palestinian civilian casualties. Yet it was Israel, and not Hamas, that was accused by the UN of war crimes.

Now regrettably, the same thing appears to be happening now.

But here are the facts. Hamas is smuggling thousands of Iranian rockets, missiles and other weaponry – smuggling it into Gaza in order to fire on Israel’s cities. These missiles can reach Ashdod and Beer Sheva – these are major Israeli cities. And I regret to say that some of them can reach now Tel Aviv, and very soon, the outskirts of Jerusalem. From the information we have, the planned shipments include weapons that can reach farther, even farther and deeper into Israel.

Under international law, and under common sense and common decency, Israel has every right to interdict this weaponry and to inspect the ships that might be transporting them.

This is not a theoretical challenge or a theoretical threat. We have already interdicted vessels bound for Hezbollah, and for Hamas from Iran, containing hundreds of tons of weapons. In one ship, the Francop, we found hundreds of tons of war materiel and weapons destined for Hezbollah. In another celebrated case, the Karine A, dozens of tons of weapons were destined for Hamas by Iran via a shipment to Gaza. Israel simply cannot permit the free flow of weapons and war materials to Hamas from the sea.

I will go further than that. Israel cannot permit Iran to establish a Mediterranean port a few dozen kilometers from Tel Aviv and from Jerusalem. And I would go beyond that too. I say to the responsible leaders of all the nations: The international community cannot afford an Iranian port in the Mediterranean. Fifteen years ago I cautioned about an Iranian development that has come to pass – people now recognize that danger. Today I warn of this impending willingness to enable Iran to establish a naval port right next to Israel, right next to Europe. The same countries that are criticizing us today should know that they will be targeted tomorrow.

For this and for many other reasons, we have a right to inspect cargo heading into Gaza. And here’s our policy. It's very simple: Humanitarian and other goods can go in and weapons and war materiel cannot.

And we do let civilian goods into Gaza. There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Each week, an average of ten thousand tons of goods enter Gaza. There's no short age of food. There's no shortage of medicine. There's no shortage of other goods.

On this occasion too, we made several offers – offers to deliver the goods on board the flotilla to Gaza after a security inspection. Egypt made similar offers. And these offers were rejected time and again.So our naval personnel had no choice but to board these vessels. Now, on five of the vessels, our seamen were not met by any serious violence and as a result, there were no serious injuries aboard those ships. But on the largest ship, something very different happened.

Our naval personnel, just as they landed on the ship – you can see this in the videos – the first soldier – they were met with a vicious mob. They were stabbed, they were clubbed, they were fired upon. I talked to some of these soldiers. One was shot in the stomach, one was shot in the knee. They were going to be killed and they had to act in self-defense.

It is very clear to us that the attackers had prepared their violent action in advance. They were members of an extremist group that has supported international terrorist organizations and today support the terrorist organization called Hamas. They brought with them in advance knives, steel rods, other weapons. They chanted battle cries against the Jews. You can hear this on the tapes that have been released. This was not a love boat. This was a hate boat. These weren't pacifists. These weren't peace activists. These were violent supporters of terrorism.

I think that the evidence that the lives of the Israeli seamen were in danger is crystal clear. If you're a fair-minded observer and you look at those videos, you know this simple truth. But I regret to say that for many in the international community, no evidence is needed. Israel is guilty until proven guilty.

Once again, Israel is told that it has a right to defend itself but is condemned every time it exercises that right. Now you know that a right that you cannot exercise is meaningless. And you know that the way we exercise it – under these conditions of duress, under the rocketing of our cities, under the impending killing of our soldiers – you know that we exercise it in a way that is commensurate with any international standard.

I have spoken to leading leaders of the world, and I say the same thing today to the international community: What would you do? How would you stop thousands of rockets that are destined to attack your cities, your civilians, your children? How would your soldiers behave under similar circumstances? I think in your hearts, you all know the truth. Israel regrets the loss of life. But we will never apologize for defending ourselves. Israel has every right to prevent deadly weapons from entering into hostile territory. And Israeli soldiers have every right to defend their lives and their country.

This may sound like an impossible plea, or an impossible request, or an impossible demand, but I make it anyway: Israel should not be held to a double standard. The Jewish state has a right to defend itself just like any other state.

Thank you.
Of course the soldiers had a right to defend themselves.

But they ought not to have been landing aboard the ship(s) in the first place.

Turkey inspected the goods on the boats before the boats left.

If Israel’s once-but-unlikely-to-be-future ally, Turkey, was not deemed trustworthy or competent enough to make a thorough inspection, which it did before putting its own reputation on the line by permitting the boats to set sail under the Turkish flag, check out this analysis by a former Mossad agent about better ways to have disabled the flotilla, sparing Israel the public relations nightmare it now faces.

The results of the ill-conceived raid, by Shayetet 13, an elite commando unit trained to take over hijacked ships, were maddeningly predictable.

Indeed, in HaAretz, Gideon Levy predicted them. This piece by Levy was published before the raid.

Netanyahu has set up a straw man. No rational person expects a soldier being attacked to refrain from acting in self-defense. No rational person expects a sovereign state to refrain from acting in self-defense.

But rational Zionists, inside the State or in the galut, have every reason to expect the Israeli government to behave sensibly. Levy told us why this approach was stupid beforehand. Victor Ostrovsky tells us why afterwards.

Netanyahu’s government is incompetent. His Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, is a menace.

In the end, this stupidity will cause the Netanyahu government to fall. Good riddance, and don’t let the door hit you in the tuchas on the way out.

But in the meantime, ponder this: If the boats were carrying weapons, wouldn’t Netanyahu be brandishing them before every camera within 10 miles of Ashdod?

People died, and brave soldiers sustained life-threatening injuries, in an operation ordered by fools.

In the same way that George W. Bush made me long for the intellectual depth of the Reagan administration, Netanyahu leaves me yearning for the carefully measured diplomacy and national security policy of that noted dove, Arik Sharon.


Monday, May 31, 2010

A Sea of Stupidity

Please read this editorial from the Israeli newspaper HaAretz.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

I Am a Jew - אני יהודי

This is the best music video I've seen in quite some time. My thanks to Rachelle for sharing it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sinusoidal vs. Harmonic

My friend, Michel the chemist, understands enough physics to understand the chart above.

He offers the link below for those of us who need more practical explanations.

I Heart Physics.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pre-Blogging 101

A friend asked for some advice about blogging. The question focused on copyright. I think my answer might help others, so I'm reposting it here, with some edits and redactions.

Warning: this essay does not constitute legal advice. Relying on it creates no attorney-client relationship between the author and reader. Relying on it, alone, would actually be quite stupid. Don't.

But it might have a nugget or two of useful info. If anyone sees something that's obviously erroneous, please point it out in the comments. Thanks.

Dear ____:

Links are always better than posting things you did not yourself create, from an Intellectual Property (IP) point-of-view.

That having been said, if it’s hard to link to --- most WSJ articles or articles from WaPo that are older than 14 days old come to mind --- you’ll rarely have any trouble reposting the article, with fair attribution, so long as you’re not charging money for access to it. No one has ever sent me a cease-and-desist letter about anything I’ve posted directly. If I ever get one, I’ll take down the post in a New York minute.

But if you can link to it, do. Use a bit of quotation or paraphrasing on your page. Then add a link. Verifiability helps credibility.

With things like academic articles or books or content that’s not on the web, the usual IP “fair use” rules apply. You must provide a citation, and you must not quote more from the text of the article than is necessary to make your point. The longer your quotation is, the more suspect, from a fair use standpoint. I try to paraphrase when I can’t link directly. And to keep it short.

Pictures on Wikipedia are all open source/in the public domain, and are a good place to get illustrations.

Wikipedia is, or at least tries to be, entirely open source. One thing wikipedia editors spend a lot of time doing is deleting material that violates someone else’s copyright. So, you could, if you wanted, repost a wikipedia article. But it’s a better practice to link. That way, if the page is edited, which it will be, your link is to the most current wiki-article, rather than a reprint of a static version that no longer exists.

With other blogs, you should never quote more than a line or two, or the briefest of summaries. This is more an etiquette thing than an IP law thing.

Bloggers want links. Practically all not-for-profit bloggers are driven by the narcissism I've mentioned on our listserv today. Usually, if they notice your link, they’ll link to you some day. A comment, if the blog permits comments, saying that you've found the author's viewpoint interesting or challenging enough to link to it in one of your own posts can make you some blogger friends fairly easily.

Another way to facilitate that is to comment on other people's blogs without necessarily linking to them. If people find your comments interesting, they’ll come look to your blog for more. If the blogger you’re commenting on finds you interesting on his/her comments page, he/she may come over to comment on yours.

Do make sure your comments are more civil than those comments before and after yours. Otherwise, you can unknowingly come off as just one more random troll to ignore. See

An A+ Essay

And Michel gets an A+ for forwarding it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


My cousin, Micki, may soon be dancing in your living room. For the past 9 months, she's been working on a dance-based video game for Nintendo Wii. 'Dance on Broadway' will be released in the US on June 22nd and in the UK shortly thereafter.

Working with acclaimed choreographer, Chase Brock, Micki's been involved in the project since its inception. Below is a rough-cut commercial that's been "leaked" to YouTube. Micki plays quite a few characters in the actual game (although not in the commercial).

Check it out. You can even pre-order a copy at

Monday, May 17, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

Emergency Preparedness Tax Holiday - Virginia

From Tuesday, May 25 through Monday, May 31, the Commonwealth of Virginia is doing a startlingly sensible thing. Conservatives usually cry crocodile tears when government uses tax policy to advance social change. But when it's change of which they approve, it's best to stand aside or be run over.

Hypocrisy is an underated virtue. This tax holiday is a very good idea. Props to Virginia's new Governor, Bob McDonnell, no slave to doctrine.

(Ummm, by the way Bob, can we have a talk about this Confederacy Month Proclamation with zero mentions of slavery? It might be another good place to deploy tactical hypocrisy when the time rolls around next year.)

Virginia Tax Holiday on Purchase of Hurricane and Emergency Preparedness Equipment

May 25 -31, 2010

During the tax holiday, purchases of hurricane preparedness equipment designated by the Virginia Department of Taxation will be exempt from sales tax --- including portable generators. Portable generators must be priced at $1,000 or less, and other eligible items must be priced at $60 or less, per item. For details, click here.

These items qualify:
  • Artificial ice, blue ice, ice packs, and reusable ice

  • batteries (AAA, AA, C, D, 6 volt, 9 volt, cell phone batteries)

  • portable self-powered light sources (flashlights, lanterns, glow sticks)

  • portable self-powered radios (including self-powered radios with electrical power capability)

  • two-way radios

  • weather band radios and NOAA weather radios

  • tarpaulins, plastic sheeting, plastic drop cloths, and other flexible waterproof sheeting

  • bungee cords, rope

  • ground anchor systems or tie down kits

  • ratchet straps

  • duct tape

  • carbon monoxide detectors

  • smoke detectors

  • fire extinguishers

  • gas or diesel fuel tanks or containers

  • water storage containers

  • nonelectric food storage coolers

  • bottled water

  • manual can openers

  • storm shutter devices

  • cell phone chargers

  • First Aid kits

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

An Inspirational Story

This comes from a poster that once hung in the office of my friend Joel's father*.

One day I was feeling sad and blue and a cute little bluebird perched on my window and said:

"Cheer up, things could be worse."

In gratitude and appreciation I cheered up.

And sure enough, things got worse.

*Thanks, Joel.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Man Rules

My cousin Deb sent these to me. As a Mother''s Day gift to all wives and girlfriends everywhere, I'm passing it along.

Guys don't come with an instruction manual, but this comes pretty close.

Thanks, Deb. You rock.

The Man Rules
At last a guy has taken the time to write this all down. Finally , the guys' side of the story.

We always hear " the rules" from the female side. Now here are the rules from the male side.

Please note.. these are all numbered "1" ON PURPOSE!

1. Men are NOT mind readers.

1. Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down.
We sometimes need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

1. Sunday sports: It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides.
Let it be.

1. Crying is blackmail.

1. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one:

  • Subtle hints do not work!
  • Strong hints do not work!
  • Obvious hints do not work!
  • Just say it!

1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question..

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 Days.

1. If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one

1. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done. Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.

1. Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials..

1. Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions and neither do we.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

1. If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," We will act like nothing's wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle..

1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, expect an answer you don't want to hear.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine. Really.

1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as Football or Hockey.

1. You have enough clothes.

1. You have too many shoes.

1. I am in shape. Round IS a shape!

1. Thank you for reading this. Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight; But did you know men really don't mind that? It's like camping.

Please pass this to as many men as you can - to give them a laugh.

Please pass this to as many women as you can - to give them a bigger laugh.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

J Street and Tikkun

I last covered parts of this topic here, in a piece called American Zionism at a Crossroad.

This weekend, folks on my shul's e-mail list are discussing the merits (or not) of Rabbi Michael Lerner's Tikkun magazine and of the Zionist advocacy group J Street.

It's fair to say J Street and Tikkun are on the left hand side of Jewish and Zionist advocacy. It's not fair to say they are anti-Zionists and self-hating Jews.

The questions that started the discussion can be paraphrased thusly:

A) Are J Steeet and Tikkun good for the Jews and for Israel, or not?

B) Should J Street and Tikkun be "respected and loved" or "shunned and denounced"?

At first I was tempted to answer yes to both questions and be done with it.

My wise (and wise-guy) friend Barrett did exactly that. We are on opposite sides of the issue, but, as he pointed out, answering each question with a simple yes just states the tautology that a universe is made up of its elements.

Still, I got a little worked up. When I was done with my answer, I realized I had a blog post:

(A) Michael Lerner and the Tikkun community are surely part of the answer. Zionists in the peace camp will eventually win the day. We are not self-hating Jews, or traitors or dupes or fools. We are as ardent in our love for Eretz Yisrael as our brothers and sisters on Zionism's right wing. And as zealous.

Abba Eban was right. So far, the Palestinians have rarely missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

But the day will come. When it does, the Tikkun community will play a bigger role than AIPAC. AIPAC's lifeblood is a sea of greenbacks raised by scaring American Jews and spent to scare American politicians.

Tikkun treads a different path. Their approach strikes me as more effective, over the long haul.

With J Street, it's too soon to tell, but I'm impressed, so far.

(B) Both J Street and Tikkun merit a lot of respect. Let's hold off on love for the moment. Let's save that for a discussion of dark chocolate, lox or rare flank steak.

I'm not a big fan of shunning and denouncing. In retrospect, we look pretty silly on Spinoza.

The institutional Jewish community's Stalinist purge of any employee who dared support the Breira movement in the 70's wasn't our finest hour either.

As a matter of fact, in looking for background to provide on Breira, I'm struck by how little has changed. Mark Silk, of Trinity College's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life, says it better than I.

Shabbat Shalom,


Friday, May 7, 2010

Learning is Experiential*

The little boy was caught swearing by his teacher.

"Jeffrey Alan!" she said, "you shouldn't use that kind of language. Where did you hear it?"

"My daddy said it," he responded.

"Well, that doesn't matter," she explained, "you don't know what it means."

"I do, too," Jeffrey corrected. "It means the car won't start."

*Thanks, Michel, for this pre-Shabbat giggle

Monday, May 3, 2010

First Jewish Broadcast on Nazi Soil - 1944

Sometimes, my friend Michel forwards things that are more important than jokes.


Today's post is not written by me. It's the result of a stupid Facebook quiz. Nonetheless, it's unsettling.

David took the "What is your soul like?" quiz and the result is Tired.

You are a tired soul. Perhaps you're just tired from being so busy all the time, working hard. Maybe it's school, or supporting a family. Maybe you take too much on your shoulders, the whole weight of the world... Whatever the reason, you just crave some relaxation. At ...the moment, you could care less about whats going on right now. Well, maybe you care, but you're just getting tired of caring. You are just plain tired of having a bunch of junk dumped on your life and you feel like you deserve a break. And if you've been working hard, then heck yes. Take a break before you really begin to go numb and forget to care.

I doubt the damn app can pass the Turing test.

But one will, some day.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Learning the Limits of Authority

A Department of Water representative stopped at a ranch and talked with an old rancher. He told the rancher, "I need to inspect your ranch for your water allocation."

The old rancher said, "Okay, but don't go in that field over there."

The Department of Water representative said, "Mister, I have the authority of Federal Government with me. See this card? The card means I am allowed to go WHEREVER I WISH on any agricultural land. No questions asked or answered. Have I made myself clear? Do you understand?"

The old rancher nodded politely and went about his chores. Later, the old rancher heard loud screams and saw the Water Rep running for the fence and close behind was the rancher's bull.

The bull was gaining on the Water Rep with every step. The Rep was clearly terrified.

The old rancher immediately threw down his tools, ran to the fence and shouted, "Your card! Your card! Show him your card!"

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Madam President, Tear Down This Mechitza

Some day, Baruch HaShem, the Israeli Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, will end the blatant, shameful discrimination against women that leads to this sort of dangerous mayhem. Not to mention this kind of embarassing nonsense.

The President of the Supreme Court is fit for office but not fit to pray with? Does the adjective medieval ring a ball?

When the blessed day comes and this "wall" (in the highlighted oval) comes down

Let's not forget to thank Anat Hoffman.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Who's That?

A husband and wife were having dinner at a very fine restaurant when this absolutely stunning young woman comes over to their table, gives the husband a big, open-mouthed kiss, then says she'll see him later and walks away.

The wife glares at her husband and says, "Who the hell was that?"

"Oh," replies the husband, "she's my mistress."

"Well, that's the last straw," says the wife. "I've had enough, I want a divorce."

"I can understand that," replies her husband, "but remember, if we get a divorce it will mean no more shopping trips to Paris , no more wintering in Barbados , no more summers in Tuscany , no more Morgan or Lexus in the garage. And no more yacht club. But the decision is yours."

Just then, a mutual friend enters the restaurant with a gorgeous babe on his arm.

"Who's that woman with Jim ?" asks the wife.

"That's his mistress," says her husband.

"Ours is prettier," she replies.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

For Marc W.

I'm doing a favor here, and it's a long shot:

Marc W.: Please contact me. You don't have to talk to anyone you don't want to. But it would be a mitzvah to let me get word to your mom that you are out there, somewhere.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

You Can Prick Your Finger, But You Can't ...

A chicken farmer went to a local bar, sat next to a woman and ordered a glass of champagne.
The woman perked up and said, "How about that? I just ordered a glass of champagne, too!"

"What a coincidence" said the farmer, "This is a special day for me. I am celebrating."
"This is a special day for me too, I am also celebrating," said the woman.

"What a coincidence," said the farmer, as they clinked glasses he added, "What are you celebrating?"
"My husband and I have been trying to have a child and today my gynecologist told me that I am pregnant!"

"What a coincidence," said the man, "I'm a chicken farmer and for years all of my hens were infertile, but today they are all laying fertilized eggs."
"That's great!" said the woman, "How did your chickens become fertile?"

"I used a different cock," he replied.
The woman smiled, clinked his glass and said, "What a coincidence!"

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ellis Island Must Be Preserved

Aboard ship, after you saw "The Lady", you docked nearby.

Then you were pushed, pulled, poked and prodded through a wondrous place, the Great Hall at Ellis Island. You discovered a place that tried, and mostly succeeded, to implement the promise of the Emma Lazarus poem engraved in bronze at The Lady's base.

It must be preserved.

4/6/10 - The New York Times

Save Ellis Island, a nonprofit charged with restoring that historic immigrant gateway to America, may not be able to save itself.

The group has run out of money.

“We’re not able to keep it going a whole lot longer,” its president, Judith R. McAlpin, said in an interview. She added that the group, which recently posted an “urgent appeal” for donations on its Web site needs to raise about $500,000 in the next few weeks if it is to survive. If it does not, Save Ellis Island will have to return $512,000 in grants that it has already received to restore 30 buildings and repurpose them for public benefit, Ms. McAlpin said, and work on current projects will be suspended.

Save Ellis Island has been hurt not only by the decline in donations caused by the economic downturn, but also by major spending cuts from New Jersey, one of its longtime benefactors.

Ellis Island, which closed as an immigrant-processing center in 1954, has remained a serious concern for preservationists in the years since the main building was restored and opened as the Ellis Island Immigration Museum in 1990. Most of the remaining buildings — many on the island’s south side — have remained unused and in disrepair.

The World Monuments Fund put the island on its watch list of threatened sites in 1996 and 2006. The National Trust for Historic Preservation included Ellis Island on its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places twice in the 1990s.

“Save Ellis Island has done a very good job of marshalling us,” said Richard Moe, the president of the National Trust, who serves on the Ellis Island group’s board. “We need an organization that’s solely focused on Ellis Island because this is such a significant historical site.”

Save Ellis Island says that it has to conduct a large-scale fund-raising drive if it hopes to cover the $350 million still needed for the renovations, but that it has been unable to get approval from the National Park Service, which oversees the island and the nearby Statue of Liberty.

“We’re lacking a public commitment to the campaign” from the Park Service, Ms. McAlpin said.

David Luchsinger, the Park Service’s superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island, said the agency had been waiting for a feasibility study and strategic plan from Save Ellis Island. “We’ve been very supportive of them, trying to help them out in any way we can; we would like them to continue to be around,” Mr. Luchsinger said.

But Ms. McAlpin said that her organization believed that it could not complete a feasibility study without knowing if it could count on federal support. In recent years the United States Department of the Interior has contributed to the rehabilitation of Ellis Island, but no funds were appropriated for the island for the 2011 fiscal year.

Save Ellis Island said it had hoped to support its efforts with financing from a for-profit partner, which might, for example, hold conventions on the island. But the Park Service said certain agreements had to be in place before that move would be considered. This decision, Ms. McAlpin said, left Save Ellis Island more dependent on public funds and private contributions.

Mr. Luchsinger said the Park Service would continue to maintain and improve the island with whatever money is made available. “We’re going to continue to try to do our part as best we can, given the allocations,” he said. “Whether Save Ellis Island is here or not, that is our obligation.”

Save Ellis Island was established by a group of New York preservationists in 1999 to serve as a nonprofit partner for the Park Service, with the goal of rehabilitating the buildings. In 2007 the organization completed the restoration of the Ferry Building, a long hall built in Art Deco style by the federal Public Works Administration, which served as the departure point for immigrants who had passed their health and legal inspections. The Laundry/Hospital Outbuilding — which still holds machinery that washed, sterilized and dried the bedding of immigrant patients — is about 70 percent complete, Ms. McAlpin said.

“If we can’t save Ellis Island, I’d be pretty discouraged,” said Peg Breen, the president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, an advocacy group, who also serves on the island organization’s board. “There is a great story of America at its best out there. It would be a shame for this country if the south side of Ellis Island never happens.”

Save Ellis Island, which has an annual operating budget of $1.2 million, cut its staff to four from seven last Thursday; at its peak the organization had about 12 full-time staff members.

Most of Ellis Island’s 27.5 acres fall under New Jersey’s jurisdiction; the state fought New York and won sovereignty in a 1998 Supreme Court ruling after Christine Todd Whitman, the governor of New Jersey at the time, made Ellis Island a personal cause. In 2000 she announced the plan for the island’s redevelopment, to be overseen by Save Ellis Island and financed with private and public contributions.

“As New Jerseyans, we take great pride in our history,” she said at a news conference. “But we must also take care of our history so that future generations can share our pride and visit these landmarks of our national journey.”

New Jersey has contributed as much as $650,000 a year toward Save Ellis Island’s general operating funds, Ms. McAlpin said, but that figure dropped to zero for its 2011 budget, and the state is under no obligation to support Ellis Island.

New York State, which retains minority control of the island, has not given any funds, Ms. McAlpin said. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, said through a spokesman that she was working with senators from New Jersey to encourage Ken Salazar, the interior secretary, “and the interior appropriations subcommittee to secure the funding Ellis Island needs to continue operations and for much-needed upgrades to the park’s infrastructure.”

Still, the lack of government support is one of several problems that are making it increasingly difficult for Save Ellis Island to stay afloat. “It just makes me unspeakably sad,” Ms. McAlpin said. “This perfect storm of elements have come together and brought us to a stop."