Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Why We Care About Some Brown People but not Others

I just don't get why we get emotionally (often = $ (units aid)) involved in some natural disasters and not others. In the last year alone 20,000 people were killed in Iran and 10,000 killed in Venezuela (not to mention this one). Why is there such attention to the tsunami? Is it because the death toll is four times higher than a large disaster? Is it because it was an inter-continental disaster? Is it because people are in the mood to care? It is really funny that one day the Media tells us "20,000 people died today, don't get too worked up" and then some time later they say "40,000 people died, you don't care? What are you, some kind of monster?"
Obviously no one says this explicitly, but it is implicit. It is primarily told by how many days running stories are carried. Stories that are only told for one day are the "shock and forget" kind, whereas the week long ones are the "shock and care" kind. So when the tsunami hit I expected a "shock and forget" story (initial reports were only of 2,100 dead- NYT) but it was in fact a "shock and care" story. I now have to reorient my whole emotional approach (not to mention how I discuss the topic). Whose editorial job is it to tell me when I should care?!!!
(I should have personalized the title- but I can't take that much responsibility for myself)

Yussef Massad

While bored at the library this morning I found my way onto jpost (which I try to avoid) because my boss supposedly had an article there, but he didn't. So I clicked on the story of anti-Israel and Columbia and I remembered that the dude who is getting all the flack spoke erev-Shavuot my first year. He was really asinine, as I recall and claimed that Jews all descended from the Kazzars (thus we have no claim to Palestine, etc).
Not the point, really. So I went to his website and he has a long-winded apology exclaiming how he is really a good guy. Here is my favorite excerpt:

As for Noah Liben, who appears in the film according to newspaper accounts (I have not seen the film), he was indeed a student in my Palestinian and Israeli Politics and Societies course in the spring of 2001...He asked me if I understood his point. I informed him that I did not. Noah seems not to have done his reading during the week on gender and Zionism. One of the assigned readings by Israeli scholar and feminist Simona Sharoni spoke of how in Hebrew the word “zayin” means both penis and weapon in a discussion of Israeli militarized masculinity. Noah, seemingly not having read the assigned material, mistook the pronunciation of "zayi" as "Zion" pronounced in Hebrew "tziyon."
Indeed, he would write me E-mails, even after he stopped being my student, to argue with me about Israel. I have kept our correspondence. On March 10, 2002, a year after he took a class with me, Noah wrote me an E-mail chastising me for having invited an Israeli speaker to class the year before when he was in attendance. It turned out that Noah’s memory failed him again, as he mistook the speaker I had invited for another Israeli scholar. After a long diatribe, Noah excoriated me: "How can you bring such a phony to speak to your class??"

Oren, can you imagine being berated after three years for not having done the reading one day! Talk about a tape-recorder memory, Massad remembers everything. Reading this I thought of a debate between a supremely articulate Side-Show Bob and the more urbane Krusty the Clown. How can you juxtapose the word "excoriated" with "phony"? I find it funny more than anything else.
For the whole apology go here
Batya taught me that I do not need titles for my post. I am fully aware that the Matriarchs watch over me.
It looks like Site Meter has recorded 1000 hits. As Maxim pointed out, many of them are mine (he said that they are all mine, which is only close to true) but still it is a warm feeling. So thanks to those who click on this thing who are not me.
Maxim got the latest issue of Notices last week, and there was one article I am still going through. It is about diffeomorphic spaces in R5 and their folding tendencies... er no.
It is actually a list of the canonical math jokes in the business, of which I heard half from Yehuda already. The link is here, and I recommend all ya'll print yourself out a copy and have a good laugh (I only get a few at best, but at least they are funny- to my head).
Here are my favorite:
Q: What’s purple and commutes?
A: An abelian grape. (Yehuda's favorite)

Q: What do you call a young eigensheep?
A: A lamb, duh! (I actually get that one- how sad)

Q:What do you get when you cross a mountain goat and a mountain climber?
A: Nothing—you can’t cross two scalars. (or any variation thereof)

How to prove it. Guide for lecturers.

Proof by vigorous handwaving: Works well in a classroom or seminar setting.
Proof by forward reference: Reference is usually to a forthcoming paper of the author, which is often not as forthcoming as at first.
Proof by example: The author gives only the case n=2and suggests that it contains most of the ideas of the general proof.
Proof by deferral: “We’ll prove this later in the course.”
Proof by reference to inaccessible literature: The author cites a simple corollary of a theorem to be found in a privately circulated memoir of the Slovenian Philological Society, 1883.
Proof by importance: A large body of useful consequences all follow from the proposition in question.
Proof by accumulated evidence: Long and diligent search has not revealed a counterexample.
Proof by cosmology: The negation of the proposition is unimaginable or meaningless. Popular for proofs of the existence of God.
-And my favorite-
Proof by intimidation: “Trivial.” (Thank's Ilya)

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Best People Ever

On the list of "Best People Ever" MK Rav Melchior scores very high. This is why...
Although I do not agree with his economic policy (socialism does not lead to productivity or a more even distribution of wealth) he is more articulate than any I know, wrt the religious/political divide (certainly in English).
I have also added a link, at the behest of Chaim Neria to Maariv/NRG Yahadut section. He claims that the talkback section (as well as the articles themselves) are proof of the diversity within the Dat-Leumi community- which otherwise goes unrecognized. I remain skeptical.
I composed a long rant about the Orange Badges worn in Gaza by stupid mitnachlim, but the post was erased. The long and the short of it was: stop Chomsky-izing the Holocaust! Needless to say these antics do not give me cause to reinvigorate my admiration of the above mentioned D.L. community.

Saturday, December 25, 2004


For those interested in calling Israel: there is a new internet service called skype ( which allows you to make computer to computer calls all over the world for free. I use this service often and can tell you that the quality is better than any phone connection I've had yet with the States. Download it and call me up. My Skype name is yshalper.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Palestinians Complain of "Two Palestines"

JERICHO, West Bank, Dec. 23 - Palestinians in 26 West Bank towns and villages voted Thursday in orderly municipal elections, the first since 1976 and a prelude to a presidential vote in just over two weeks.
The turnout was large and the voting went smoothly, with no major glitches or security problems reported.
The Fatah movement, founded by Yasir Arafat and the dominant force in Palestinian politics for decades, was expected to make the strongest showing. However, it faces a challenge from Hamas, the militant Islamic group, which is taking part in elections for the first time.
Hamas made a strong showing in local Palestinian elections in 26 communities across the West Bank on Thursday, according to preliminary elections results. Official results will be announced Saturday night.
This is the first time the Islamic faction has competed in the polls.
Some 150,000 eligible voters choose among more than 800 candidates in the election. Sixteen percent of the 360 local council seats were reserved for women.
According to the preliminary results, the ruling Fatah movement won a majority in 14 towns, while Hamas took control in nine communities. In two, a joint Hamas-Fatah slate won. The outcome of the vote in one community, Ya'bed, was not immediately available.
However, Hamas officials said they had won a majority in at least 17 local councils, based on reports from their election observers.
Many Palestinian analysts see this divide as a possible rift in Palestinian society. "What you are seeing here is not a mere political swing, but a deep ideological divide." said Rahim Sajib, a senior political analyst from the Center for Arab Studies. "The two parties stand for polar ideologies... This is in effect, a fundamental socio-political split."
Many locals also complain of the fierce rivalries between the two groups. "Its like there are the red towns and the blue ones." Says local olive grower Mahmud Abu Zuhri. "If Hamas continues to win these elections, I am thinking about returning to Jordan!"
While many others feel that this sentiment is rash, Hamas does explain that they are serious about their agenda. "We are a religio-political party, we won't make any bones about that." Salim Id, Hamas spokesman says "We believe in Islamic and family values and we will not let these secular jahiliah strong arm local politics and morals."
While Fatah struggles to maintain a majority under Hamas pressure, they are also considering changing their message. With an aging leader and liberal values, many in the Fatah party question their ability to compete in 2008. "Maybe these Muhamed-freaks have something going?" queries a senior Fatah spokesman. "We might need to abandon some of our more liberal policies to conform to a increasingly conservative nation. The important thing is not to alienate voters. If they want to see the destruction of Israel, who are we to stand in their way?"

(I borrowed text from here and here)

Thursday, December 23, 2004

כתיבת בני אדם

This week I went to a conference on the Rambam held at the National Library in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, most of the lectures that I heard involved discussions of Arabic linguistics and the inadequacy of Hebrew translations. I should also mention that people were quoting the Rambam in Arabic without bothering to translate and Rambam's Arabic is well beyond my capacity to understand. What I was able to understand was an interesting powerpoint presentation of how the National Library digitally copied all of the Rambam manuscripts in their possession and published them online. This collection is very good and the copies are very good and can be enlarged easily.

Lest one should infer from this that the National Library is very high tech and resourceful, I will say explicitly that it is not. For one thing, not all the books are on the computer catalogue -- for many of them one still needs to use paper library catalogue cards. Also, not only do normal people (including students and professors) not have access to the stacks, we cannot check books out from the library. That means that we either have to read the books in the library or photocopy the books, in violation of international copyright laws.

But, you ask, isn't there is a library just for the University on Mount Scopus? Yes and it even bears a structural resemblance to the Reg. Imagine the Reg. Now imagine that it had only five floors. Now imagine that one of those five floors was a copy room / bomb shelter and another was wasted on administrative offices and study spaces in which people are allowed to talk. That leaves us three floors of books. Now imagine that there were no stacks, i.e., three floors of reading rooms. Now imagine that more than half of the books in those reading rooms has an attempted translation into Hebrew written in between or on the lines of the text itself. What you are imagining is our university library.

Nonetheless, people do seem to be doing a lot of interesting work here. My own classes are exciting and I seem to have found a new direction for my own thinking which seems to include some Jewish thinkers as well.

Seasons Greetings, folks

So, what's new in my life?
1) My apartment was painted, it looks hot
2) I love my cornet
3) My friends are the best people over, they all come visit me.
4) I finally have a chavrusa, and
5) it's really really cold.

On that note, here is my second favorite cummings poem:

my father moved through dooms of love
through sames of am through haves of give,
singing each morning out of each night
my father moved through depths of height

this motionless forgetful where
turned at his glance to shining here;
that if(so timid air is firm)
under his eyes would stir and squirm

newly as from unburied which
floats the first who,his april touch
drove sleeping selves to swarm their fates
woke dreamers to their ghostly roots

and should some why completely weep
my father's fingers brought her sleep:
vainly no smallest voice might cry
for he could feel the mountains grow.

Lifting the valleys of the sea
my father moved through griefs of joy;
praising a forehead called the moon
singing desire into begin

joy was his song and joy so pure
a heart of star by him could steer
and pure so now and now so yes
the wrists of twilight would rejoice

keen as midsummer's keen beyond
conceiving mind of sun will stand,
so strictly(over utmost him
so hugely) stood my father's dream

his flesh was flesh his blood was blood:
no hungry man but wished him food;
no cripple wouldn't creep one mile
uphill to only see him smile.

Scorning the Pomp of must and shall
my father moved through dooms of feel;
his anger was as right as rain
his pity was as green as grain

septembering arms of year extend
yes humbly wealth to foe and friend
than he to foolish and to wise
offered immeasurable is

proudly and(by octobering flame
beckoned)as earth will downward climb,
so naked for immortal work
his shoulders marched against the dark

his sorrow was as true as bread:
no liar looked him in the head;
if every friend became his foe
he'd laugh and build a world with snow.

My father moved through theys of we,
singing each new leaf out of each tree
(and every child was sure that spring
danced when she heard my father sing)

then let men kill which cannot share,
let blood and flesh be mud and mire,
scheming imagine,passion willed,
freedom a drug that's bought and sold

giving to steal and cruel kind,
a heart to fear,to doubt a mind,
to differ a disease of same,
conform the pinnacle of am

though dull were all we taste as bright,
bitter all utterly things sweet,
maggoty minus and dumb death
all we inherit,all bequeath

and nothing quite so least as truth
--i say though hate were why men breathe--
because my Father lived his soul
love is the whole and more than all

If you can guess my favorite, you get a dollar. Happy birthday to all, and spread some love.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

That Which Really Ties the Room Together Posted by Hello

That Which Really Ties the Room Together

Due to the trend Oren has started on reporting domestic affairs, I have decided to report on my own neat new acquisition: a rug. It must be said that it ties the room together, but I think in this case it really does. Now the only thing we need is a couch.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

I am away from the office

I am on "vacation" for the week and won't blog. If anyone is wondering why I am not updating.
Querry: In the song "Santa Clause is Coming to Town" there is a line:

He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake

Isn't the whole point that you are being good so Santa will shower you with riches? What is this "goodness sake" nonsense?
Happy Eighth day!

Friday, December 10, 2004

Dimebag Darrell ז"ל

"Indeed, Abbott's playing was powerful, innovative and unpredictable. He was equally capable of churning out crunching, staccato riffs as ominous textural arpeggios, and while he was metal to the core, his Texas roots and love for ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd gave his playing a southern swing that, in the early years of Pantera's success, was dubbed "power-groove." In addition, Abbott flavored his songs with squealing harmonics and tuneful lead licks that became an integral part of his rhythms. However, he may be best known for his searing, virtuosic leads, which were filled with lightning-fast runs that cascaded from his amplifiers like torrential rain." - MTV News
They use the word "arpeggio" in the same article as Dimebag Darrell. This could only be a eulogy. Dimebag, we will miss you.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Man, what a great night.

As Tziona says:
"you guys- you have no idea
hashem is just the best!!!
(trust me on this one)
and that's all i have to say for now."

Chag sameach.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

UofCers Dream Come True

I found this out from Crooked Timber, but Judge Posner and Gary Becker have a new blog(???!) It is like having a doughnut with doughnut filling, or something. Although CT does seem to believe that it is a hoax. You can tell that they really want it to be bona fide though... Will thinks that it is kosher for the time being (as Posner has been known to guest blog before). And this does certainly gives credibility to it:
We wish in closing this brief introduction to our blog to thank Lawrence Lessig, Jacob Wachman, and Matthew Haughey for their valuable assistance in setting up the blog.
And Lessig has apparently seen the blog, and not called out. In any case it is definitely a good read for the time being. I am currently writing a paper for "Democracy and National Security", so I was happy to see Posner & Becker's post on preventive war.
I fixed the Crooked Timber link and got the correct link for IMRA (which I really recommend). And as far is links go, here is the latest paper put out by the World Bank on Disengagement (if you like staying in the loop).

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Let's talk about me, a little bit.

Some random stuff from my life:

Sunday. My roomate and I decide to spruce up the old homestead, and so we split ways; he heads off to Bed Bath & Beyond, and ends up getting some very nice chairs, a funky paper floor lamp (very cool, his remark was "it's trendy, right?"). He also picked up a lot of CRAZY stuff from his grandmother's place... we now have an incredibly imposing picture of his greatgrandfather, the Iluy of Maichat, hanging in our living room, overlooking every meal. He's got a big beard and peircing eyes; it's like having Mesilas Yesharim hanging on your wall.

He also got a lot of really fancy serving dishes and stuff; things that no one under 80 can serve on, except, of course, for us - there's this one silver pitcher which has GARGOYLE legs which looks awesome, you really have to see it, it's outrageous. Anyway, the same day, I drove a lot; went to fair lawn to get a car, then to Elizabth NJ to get to Ikea (more on this later), then back to the heights, and then back to fair lawn to drop off the car. I got a nice dining room table and a lounging chair.

I then spent basically the whole week at home building ikea furniture. For those not in the know, I am in love with Ikea; and building the stuff is a lot of fun - this week I've built the dining room table, one bookshelf, one lounge chair and footstool, and doors for two other bookshelves I'd already built. All in all, about 6 hours of work. Now I get to fill my bookshelves. And have people over for shabbos. And the place looks really cool too, much better than it used to.

Friday I was able to leave work with just enough time to make a chulent; we went out for dinner but had 9 people over for lunch. It was great, I had really missed making big meals. The people were a lot of fun; there was a good mix of ages and personalities, and a good time was had by all. We will have leftover food for a while.

And now, some e.e. cummings: "Humanity i love you"

Humanity i love you
because you would rather black the boots of
success than enquire whose soul dangles from his
watch-chain which would be embarrassing for both

parties and because you
unflinchingly applaud all
songs containing the words country home and
mother when sung at the old howard

Humanity i love you because
when you're hard up you pawn your
intelligence to buy a drink and when
you're flush pride keeps

you from the pawn shops and
because you are continually committing
nuisances but more
especially in your own house

Humanity i love you because you
are perpetually putting the secret of
life in your pants and forgetting
it's there and sitting down

on it
and because you are
forever making poems in the lap
of death Humanity

i hate you

Once again, have a good week everybody, and send some love (and to zev too.)

Thursday, December 02, 2004

לשון בני אדם

So I was learning 1:12 הלכות יסודי התורה with Jose this morning and I was wondering why the Rambam invokes לשון בני אדם here. He could have said that the Torah is written in homily, or it is דרך סוד, but instead he uses this funny phrase, the "language of man". Jose and I came up with two explanations (although I don't think the Rambam would like either one, necessarily).
1. We, as people, are somehow fundimentally bound by language (see PI), all the concepts which we are given are restricted by the words we have to talk about them. The Author realizes that man is limitted and thus using phrases like "zroah netuya" are equivelent to something like "in an awesome manner". The same way "low table with a back" and "things that holds you when you are squatting" might be the same for someone who lives in a universe w/o chairs, they are both equadistantly wrong from the right formulation. (I am not happy with this example, I will try and fix it later)
2. Merely by talking about a chair in a universe without chairs you are already uttering blasphemy, so you might as well write in a form that the audience can understand. (As there is no formlessness that we are familiar with that is of the same kind of formlessness of G-d) Thus the chumash embrases a humanized prose in order to make it a work for humanity (eg the argument between Moshe and the Malachachim wrt for whom the Torah was written)
In any event there has to be understood that there is a qualitative difference between לשון בני אדם and the True לשון. That is only one of the many paradoxes about "scripture" (ie תורה שבכתב)
I am still left feeling empty because I don't think that the Rambam would buy either of these two answers. Maybe they are really one answer. Oh well.

Pub Night

For all those wondering (i.e. me) why we got a funky molecule on our Class of 2005 Pub Night glasses it is for this reason:
Glucose (C6H12O6) is the main sugar that will be converted to alcohol. Many reactions take place inside the yeast that ultimately convert each glucose molecule into two molecules of ethyl alcohol (CH3CH2OH) and two molecules of carbon dioxide (CO2).

C6H12O6 => 2(CH3CH2OH) + 2(CO2) [this equation is written in tiny letters on the side of the glass]

Very funny.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Storm's a Brewin'

My dad currently stands with 10 points.
I have a question: Why do all the normative critics decry Bush for hegemonic practices when it was the former Pres. Clinton whom terrorists seem to have responded to? (1993, McVeigh, and 2001- preceeded by various fatwas in the '90) It seems that Clinton's more open and normative policies only prevoked terror. Thus giving the Bush administration the easy retort, "Well that obviously did not work, so..."
I apologize to all of you who figured this out years ago- I just had the lightbulb go off today in class.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

A Litany

In no particular order:
1. I am finally published! You can check it out here, but I can't say I had much editorial control after a certain point. I wrote 20 pages. We extended it together to 38, it is now cut down to maybe 10. How sad. Less to make fun of me about, I guess.

2. An amusing phone conversation that went on this weekend: how can I help you?
Yaacov: Um, you called about my order. Oh yes, it is incomplete. We need to know what color you want your glove.
Yaacov: Well, what can I choose from? Black and... I guess that's it.

It is nice to know that the HockeyMonkies of the world are doing well...

3. The best clear and concise defense for the war in Iraq I have read. My advisor, I may add.

4. This just in: Wal-Mart to cut already low, low prices. Really!

Monday, November 29, 2004

Sermon on the "Meet the Press"

I was really laughing quite hard during some of this. I will post my favorite parts but to be responcible you should really read the whole thing online.

DR. FALWELL: Jim, let me ask you a question. Did you vote for John Kerry?
REV. WALLIS: I did vote for John Kerry.
DR. FALWELL: Now, he is pro-choice. How can you as an ordained minister--you are an ordained minister, right?
REV. WALLIS: Jerry--Jerry...
DR. FALWELL: How could you vote for some--I wouldn't vote for my mother if she were pro-choice.
REV. WALLIS: Yeah. You endorsing George Bush. That's fine. But you also called--you ordained him. You said all Christians could only vote for him. That's ridiculous. There are Christians who voted for deep reasons of faith for both candidates.
DR. FALWELL: Well, I don't think--I can't command anybody. I can only take the Bible seriously. You're certainly going to have to--Psalm 139:13-16--believe that life is sacred from conception on...
REV. WALLIS: And Jerry, there are 3,000 verses in the Bible about the poor--about the poor.
DR. FALWELL: And I'm for all of those, too. But George Bush has taken the initiative because of the Democrats
DR. FALWELL: No, I'm just trying--I'm trying to do what Martin Luther King did. I'm trying to...
REV. SHARPTON: Jesus--Jesus met the woman at the well. She was guilty of adultery. The state said she could be stoned. He stopped the stoning. You would condemn her for that.
DR. FALWELL: We have a home for unwed mothers.
REV. SHARPTON: He wasn't condoning adultery. He was not condoning adultery. He was saying that the state does not have that right to not say...
DR. FALWELL: You guys talk about that. We have a home for unwed mothers. We have a national adoption agency.
REV. SHARPTON: That was not just a mark. That was law on that day. That was law.

Well I guess the Bible settles it.
From Mi: If you need more proof just go here: ;)

Sunday, November 28, 2004

The View From Here

In an effort to help this blog maintain the high ethical standards normally demanded by the nearly puritanical American public, I have decided to use my Zev-given right to interfere with this usually excellent web-based publication and demand the cessation of printing anything that might have been regarded as something close to being smut before the end of the nineteenth century.

Also, guys, I just thought I'd say hello.

Anyway, I'm happy to see that the U of C fellowship is still going strong and that the traditional 3W tisches are still happening regularly. I trust that the regular occupation of the Hillel and Yavneh are still at their strongest, though of course I must remind you of the glory days when Dan Levy and I were occupying the chairmanship of the SSC.

Speaking of occupation, life in Israel is quite exciting. I managed to learn a communicative amount Hebrew and have started learning Arabic and German as well. I have decided to get a background in both the Semitic languages and their antitheses. I am also studying Philo, Plato, Aristotle, Rambam, and various others. I managed somehow to keep myself busy even after Chicago. The professors and classes here are excellent, though the administration is a hassle which I wouldn't wish upon anyone.

That's the update from Jerusalem. I hope you are all well and safe.


Saturday, November 27, 2004

e.e. cummings

I am posting the following, against my better judgement, mostly because someone thinks it's stupid, and I think it's brilliant. The next few posts from me will probably all feature e.e. cummings, who is brilliant, and a member of the set of people I consider awesome.

e.e. cummings - the boys i mean are not refined
the boys i mean are not refined
they go with girls who buck and bite
they do not give a fuck for luck
they hump them thirteen times a night
one hangs a hat upon her tit
one carves a cross on her behind
they do not give a shit for wit
the boys i mean are not refined
they come with girls who bite and buck
who cannot read and cannot write
who laugh like they would fall apart
and masturbate with dynamite
the boys i mean are not refined
they cannot chat of that and this
they do not give a fart for art
they kill like you would take a piss
they speak whatever's on their mind
they do whatever's in their pants
the boys i mean are not refined
they shake the mountains when they dance

Once again, have a good week everybody, and send some love.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

The EU or My Two Left Feet

I will continue this post later (as it is now 2am and I have a flight to catch in 6 hours) but I cannot stand the EU's lack of real politic. Stories like this really bother me, as they indicate Europe's lack of understanding on "the rules of the game". On the one hand, the EU is tragically poor at engaging Israel as it insists on shooting off moral-normative banter (e.g. decrying the seperation barrier in the UN GA this summer or France's declaration of Sharon as persona non grata in July) but at the same time the EU believe that negotiation with a self alienated terrorist group will somehow advance their cause.
It is like the classic Krusty the Clown line, "I said the quiet part loud and the loud part quiet." Well at least Mr. Solana departs early next year...

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

It had to happen some time:

That's right, Mickey and I have started a cartoon watching RJO (registered Jewish organization) at Hillel. We are hoping to have some interfaith events in the near future. It is already up and running; going to request a remote control for the TV now.
On the subject of cartoons...
When I was in Philly recently I saw "Who Framed Roger Rabbit"- one of the best movies of all time. It is the first live action/ animated movie produced and the only movie to have both Walt Disney and Warner Brothers characters in it. I remember hearing that the movie was a critical hit, but a box office flop. After all, who watches cartoons...?
It occurred to me that the movie highlights just this point. In 1988, when the movie came out, cartoons were a dying genre. Many new shows, while near and dear to many in my age demographic, were very formulaic and geared to a very young audience. When watching Tundercats again I just want to hit FF on the dialogue, it is that slow.
Roger Rabbit asks why. While Doom did not succeed in his *crazy* idea to create a freeway, we know L.A. has the worst public transit outside Detroit, and to my knowledge at least, there is no ToonTown. While Eddy Valiant saved ToonTown from the wrecking ball, in the long run it seemed doomed. The movie forces the question upon us: Where are all our beloved toons? The response has been alarming. The 90's were a solid decade for cartoons, with shows like Batman reinventing animation. Cartoon Network began in the late 90's capitalizing on the 18-29 age demographic. Animators have imported ideas from across the globe and the Oscars now awards best animated picture.
I am not going to be so bold as to say Roger Rabbit caused this watershed in animation, but it certainly signaled the time was right.
5pm next Monday: Be There.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

It seems Zev was looking for a response from me with his post below, "Kinsey on Haredim".

My first response: Zev, you are big fat idiot, and nobody loves you.

Second, as far as halacha is concerned, polygamy is mutar. There are rules about polygamy (this isn't, after all, vietnam) but Yemenites were practicing this even into this century. There is nothing in the kesubah that we use today which prohibits this, as far as I know, and only cherem keeps ashkenazi men from marrying multiple women. I haven't looked into the matter, to be honest, but we could all perhaps pull a ginsbu and marry ourserves a harem of docile Persian teenagers.

More to the point, and to answer your question: No, it is not immoral. At least it wasn't for the Avos, and the way your question was framed, it can only be interpreted as attempting to refer to some universal extra-halachic morality (because as pointed out above, the halachic answer is obvious) - implying that if it is immoral today, it was immoral for them, and I think you're frummer than to try and imply that.

I could say more, but that'll do for now. Here's some unnecessarily transparent song lyrics:
Sonic Youth
"Diamond Sea"

Time takes its crazy toll
and how does your mirror grow
you better watch yourself when you jump into it
'cause the mirror's gonna steal your soul

I wonder how it came to be my friend
that someone just like you has come again
you'll never, never know how close you came
until you fall in love with the diamond rain

throw all his trash away
look out he's here to stay
your mirror's gonna crack when he breaks into it
and you'll never never be the same

look into his eyes and you can see
why all the little kids are dressed in dreams
I wonder how he's gonna make it back
when he sees that you just know it's make-belief

blood crystalized as sand
and now I hope you'll understand
you reflected into his looking glass soul
and now the mirror is your only friend

look into his eyes and you will see
that men are not alone on the diamond sea
sail into the heart of the lonely storm
and tell her that you'll love her eternally

time takes its crazy toll
mirror fallin' off the wall
you better look out for the looking glass girl
'cause she's gonna take you for a fall

look into his eyes and you shall see
why everything is quiet and nothing's free
I wonder how he's gonna make her smile
when love is running wild on the diamond sea

Have a good week everybody, and send some love.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

On Mr. Kurtz

Will brought this post by Stanley Kurtz to my attention. Now I, and others I know, met with Kurtz before he gave his panel address. As I recall one of my friends maintained that she was limited as a result of the liberal tenor of this University (i.e. Chicago). Most of us, including myself, have had no problem expressing our views openly (whether conservative or liberal). I argued that HR 3077, was in fact, only affirmative action for conservatives. While Kurtz may have anecdotally heard stories of suppression, I do not believe there is firm statistical evidence for these global claims.
To his point in particular, the recent panel sponsored by SCME, imported all but one of the panelists from elsewhere. We know what our professors think, we just want to hear what others have to say. And if someone could explain how Kurtz's piece on the cessation of the Western Civ. sequence has anything to do with HR 3077 or the lack of a conservative voice I would be appreciative.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Kinsey on Haredim

So I went to see the pre-screening of Kinsey last night at Doc. It is an important topic and I could imagine screening spots in Bnei Akiva to get reactions and whatnot (but obviously not the whole thing). It was a lame movie in my mind, oh well. Still worth the free ticket I paid and two hours I guess.
My conundrum comes like this: In the movie Kinsey is a advocate of doing what is normal, "hey if the birds and bees do it..." argument for why people should be sexually liberal. Great. The movie also puts stress on wife swapping though. The argument put forward is, sex should/need not be exclusive to love. It is a good argument as far as I am concerned, except for one point: no one gets married for purely a-sexual motives. But what if there were people who do not marry due to sexual pressures?
It appears to me that in Haredi communities marriages are arranged based (almost) purely on people's behavior. "He is such a talmid chachum and she is such a balas chessed". Thus when two people marry, were one spouse to "cheat" on the other and claim, "...but you are the only one I want to share my life with." I would buy it. Marriage is established to gain a life partner and not for mere sexual fulfillment. While sex might come with marriage, other things do as well. One would never claim that their spouse were cheating if he or she ate food prepared by someone else.
I am not making a halachik argument. Obviously it is assur. I am also not well versed on the rules of keddushin, so there might exist technical stipulations built into the marriage contract which would prohibit this on absract legal grounds. My question is: is it immoral? If sexuality is not a precondition for marriage (and seeing the kallah once before marriage is not sufficient to claim that there is sexual selection to marriage, a priori) I cannot see how it is immoral to sleep with another partner on a limited basis.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

On Abe

So I am starting a movement. A movement of language. Don't say logical say intuitive and don't say random say arbitrary. That's my two cents.
Abe (Stone) did point out something important however. He said that the Greek logos among its many meanings (such as "word" e.g. in the Gospel according to John) can mean logic or rationale. Plato often times (so Abe says) will ask his opposition to provide a logos. Plato is obviously not asking for formal logic, but rather a sensible* justification. Thus, it is not that people use words more broadly than they should, but rather that philosophy unduly constrains their definitions.
I guess if I don't have Abe backing me I can't really start a language crusade, I can only suggest it as a good idea. So there.

* Any word I would have chosen there would have fallen into the trap of using a philosophical term which I have no right to use (sense, reason, logic, etc). Hoisted by my own petard I guess.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Old and Dirty no more

ODB died this past Saturday. Where would Wu-Tang have been without him?

Thursday, November 11, 2004

ברוך דין אמת

What is the impact of Yassir Arafat’s death? I believe that it will be profound and the occurrences of the past week can give us some indication as to real changes which might ensue as a result of the removal of Arafat from power.
Firstly Haaretz reported last week that Arafat had requested to be buried on Har HaBayit, and that the Wakf insisted that only they had the jurisdiction to permit or prohibit such action. In the end this was a needless concern as the new PA leadership decided, without a fight, to have the Palestinian leader buried in Ramalah. This conflict avoidance is small, but nonetheless demonstrates a willingness on behalf of the new leadership not to start skirmishes at this young stage. One might argue, however, that the new leadership just does not have the popular support necessary to stage a successful diplomatic campaign to have Arafat buried on Har HaBayit. I could not think of a better way for this leadership to solidify the image of their former leader as both nationalist and religious. Rather they are choosing to show goodwill to the Israelis and not fight for this contentious plot of land. Most importantly however, is that it shows a shying of PA attachment to Jerusalem as its capital. This is a decisive move not to take advantage of the moment and bury Arafat in a moment of diplomatic affluence. Arafat’s grave in Jerusalem would allow for much easier negotiation later that the Palestinians in fact have legitimate claim to the land (esp. the Mount).
Secondly the US has insisted that Israel follow through with disengagement, even after the demise of Arafat. What is the option? Why would Israel not continue onward? I think this is just a rhetoric ploy of sorts, to move forward with the proto-Palestinian state. On the one hand I see this as wariness on behalf of the US to trust the new Palestinian leadership too quickly, on the other hand I think that the world wants to give the PA the chance for a real dress rehearsal before the play. Disengagement will give the Palestinians the chance to show they can operate their own state.
Lastly, we have not seen any moves yet by the “factions” to assume power. Hamas and Jihad have not made any rash moves or pronouncements (which is significant, as Hamas always issues edicts, even if they do not carry though on them). We might be able to hope for a calm transition of power. There is already movement on reform (reform means “reform as directed by the ‘roadmap’” almost always) with the separation of powers and reform of security forces, although it is too early to see if there is any true progress on this front.
All I am saying is that it is encouraging.
Lo yisa goy el goy cherev, lo yilmedu od milchama.
For someone who actually knows of what they speak google Barry Rubin, or just look here.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

May I never, ever, ever lose this:

Arthur O'Shaughnessy. 1844–1881
6. Ode
WE are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world's great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire's glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song's measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o'erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world's worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

Onion Lines

True to form, the Onion has some truly fine headlines this week:

"God Puts His Tool Back Into Office"
America Comes Out Agin The Gay Marryin'
Bush Does Victory Lap Around World Trade Center Site
MoveOn CurlsUp InCorner
Poll: Youth Totally Meant To Vote In Record Numbers
Despite Republican Victory, Bush Supporter Has Tiny, Tiny Penis

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

We'll meet again, some sunny day....

Bush is trading at 30. At 5pm.

No official news.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

More on the Devil

This is the most significant article I have read concerning Arafat's history. I am not very well versed in the matters of Arafat's biography, but this seems quite damning (as if Arafat needed to be damned further). From the WSJ no less.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

On the Devil

The Devil can't die, he just takes different form. My dad thinks Israel is grooming Barghouti to be the next Palestinian leader. If my dad is right it is the best call ever.

Music Theory

I got back my first paper from Music 10400: Music criticism and analysis. I just realized though, that while I thought I was writing a paper on the 5th Brandenburg concerto, it was actually the the second I was listenning to. Oh well. I do not think that anyone was the wiser for it however.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Good News for the Jews?

So I promised myself that I would never vote on The Issue. Well it might very well come down to it, because I am left so uninspired by either of our two sterling candidates for President. Here is a really funny/well done/scary breakdown of the question "Kerry: Good news for the Jews?" and here is what the "other side" is saying. And in case Pres. George W. Bush II has not said enough, look here.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Boston Sucks

Firstly, as has been long standing tradition, Boston Bars close at 2am. Now this! Boston dosen't deserve victory. The mayor wants to curb riots by enforcing prohibition??? That will work.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

It is times like this that I am proud to be a talmid of YHE (Gush)

While Gushniks are annoying, our Rammim and Roshei Yeshiva are super-cool.

"It is as if a million voices cried out and were suddenly silenced"

I feel like Ben Kanobi after Alderon has been destroyed. Whichever sports gods were assigned to Buffalo suck. Hockey has a lockout, the Bills are 1-4, beating the only other (heretofore) unwinned team, and the Yanks can't get to the World Series.
In other news I wonder how this Op-Ed piece in the NTY will effect the policy towards the Middle East conflict. I wonder if the PA will start opennly pushing for the One-State idea. That could get intense.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Better than Polls

Here is what Bush v. Kerry are trading at now. I will be interested to see how accurate this is versus the pollsters.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Brisk and The Philosophy of Science

It occured to me that the Brisker chakira shares something in common with the deabte over the philosophy of science in the first half of the 20th century. Many of those from the "Vienna Circle" such as Rudolph Carnap in "Der Aufbau" struggle with the notion of science and metaphysics. There was a concerted effort within the Vienne Circle to flush metaphysics from modern philosophy, with only this vague "philosophy of science" remaining. This would allow the world of philosophy to stick to talking about what they know (the red of a traffic light) and not what we don't (how the red of the light appears to us). I first encountered this form of analysis with the nafka mena. So Brisk, in some simplified way, appears to do just this. If there is not practicle or decernible difference between two outcomes (there states cannot be disentangled) then in fact they are the same and do not constitute a valid chakira. It is more insidious than it sounds though, because our whole Brisk-world is confined to-and-by the chakira. It is as if we were in a world where all the doors were locked with the same key. Movement is only completely restricted by doors that did not accept the key. So in effect all our intellectual mobility is constrained and defined by this unique Brisker tool. The "meta"-halacha (not to be confused with Moshe Kopell's meta-halacha) becomes and inaccessable world eternally locked by the lack of the proper key.
In the 20th century this Brisker-derech has made vast strides because it is able to use this powerful and keen tool to plow through halachik underbrush. At the same time I miss the irrelevant "what if" that I as a 2nd grader (and still) enjoy asking. I guess it is the price we pay for saving oursleves countless hours of snot-drippingly boring arguments about what I perceive the traffic light to be.

ברוך דין אמת

Jacques Derrida, another Jewish iconoclast.

Monday, October 04, 2004

The Trinity and Avodah Zarah

I had an idea to put and end the debate whether or not Christianity is Avodah Zarah or not. I heard quoted in the name of the Rav that there are two types of safek: The one where there is a lack of information (Safek more than 1/60 of milk landed in the roast or not) then there is the lack of decipherability (twilight is safek yom, safek layla). From the minimal study of Christianity it appears that the safek whether or not Christians believe in one or three deities is really the latter form of safek (this is to completely skirt the issue of comparative religion). One is three and three is one, sort of like bein hashmashot is both night and day. Then we can just apply our nifty safek deoryta lechumra approach and be done with it. Does someone already bring this down?

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

A Question on Airport Security

As I am flying tomorrow for the umpteenth time, I was wondering: Why won't they let me take my Swiss army knife on the plane?
The issue of air-security, as I understand, began to be high priority after 9-11. But then men who hijacked the planes were only successful in 3 of 4 attempts, as in the fourth attempt the passengers knew the aims of the hijackers. Most often hijackers want the vehicle to dock in a neutral area and then the hostage negotiation team is brought out to free the people aboard. These nuts however, decided to kamikaze into various important buildings. Hence, in the fourth hijacking, when the passengers knew the aims of their assailants, they did not comply. Assuming that, as Hobbes puts it, any man can kill another (with twine, a sharp pencil, etc), the question then becomes not whether or not we should allow box-cutters on planes, but what standard procedure should be for dealing with hijackers. Assuming As that appears to be the case, why can't I bring my Swiss army knife on a plane!

Where have all the interesting people gone?

Long time passing...
It is an old myth that the UofC is running out of interesting classes. I.e. the UofC is just getting let interesting, fewer eccentric intellectuals and more smart kids. Maybe we are entering the eleventh generation? For whatever reason the Hillel BBQ tonight was packed. More people than I have ever seen at Hillel save major events like break fast, or something of that magnitude. Needless to say Oren was not making obnoxious sounds from the basement in failed attempts to con someone out of a foosball game, no Shmuli and Bill arguing about senatorial races in Idaho from the 30’s; just assorted banter. I feel so alienated. Like some big green men and women took me from my home planet and dragged me to a distant Hillel (at say, Penn, or some God-forsaken campus like that) where no one speaks my language.
I am really just coxing Oren to respond with some insult that I am lame or refuse to make friends. But maybe not.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Being Back

I love HP. I love the UofC. Definitely one of the top 10 places in the world. Things I do not like: In my B.A. seminar today we all had to introduce ourselves. Dave starts "I am an intellectual fraud". This part of UofC i do not care for, the 'I am cool because I can use big words and still think that I am not a MIRC (member of the idol rich class)'. Can you spell pretentious (I probably cannot). Sigh. Sniffle. Achu. Hack.
Some people that we thought were not coming back may in fact be back ...?

Friday, September 24, 2004

Monday, September 13, 2004

NYT Mention

So the NYT picked up a bit from my paper in Thursday's paper. Not much, but its a start. The part quoted from Gerald Steinberg. The major issue with the World Bank report is that it wants Israel to open up its borders, labor is secondary (or even tertiary). Well, it is the Times after all.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

with a twi...

So an addendum is that Oren mumbled and didn't speak clearly to the INS agent. It was 2:30 am I was tired and wanted to get home. Although I am sure that Mr. Mcullaugh, or whatever his name was, was a pleasant chap and we could have long drawn out conversations about Brecht, Shaw or some other wonderous topic, at 2:30 am I just wanted to sleep. Oren, fighting the despair that this country might be going to Hell in the proverbial picknic basket, could only manage to mumble. Ladies and Gents, please just speak clearly to the nice INS officials and they will let you merrily on your way.
The moral of the story is: Terrorists don't live in Buffalo... only Lackawanna

Monday, September 06, 2004

Leaving on a Jet Plane, with a Twist

So, a week ago today, I was in Toronto for the wedding of my friend David Levitt. Due to unfortunate circumstances only mildly within my control, I misplaced all of my stuff - my bag, my passport, my ID, my money, my cellphone, really everything except the suit on my back and a Benscher with my name on it.

Now, some of you may not be aware, but apparently Toronto is some sort of foreign country. They have different money there, and people drive like they have nowhere to be. In any case, at some point it struck that I needed to get back back into the US, and that I had no passport. Or driver's license. Or anything. So, as as my custom in such situations, I whined to Zev, and he says he'll take care of it.

So we're driving along some abandoned highway at 3 in the morning, rather exhausted, hoping to get to Buffalo without any trouble. We drive up to the American border, and some INS cop (he had either an Irish or a Scottish name, I don't remember and can't tell the difference anyway) stops us and asks for passports.

I of course, have none. Normally, I would launch into a 2-hour diatribe including my name, place of work, life goals, religious beliefs, and tastes in music - anything to convince the listener of my general decency as a Citizen and Human Being. This works with normal police. But Zev has coached me - apparently, long anxious explanations are a sign of Terrorist Activity, and signal further investigation. So, I say, "I lost mine."

He asks for ID. "Lost, too." Zev established a strict three-word maximum to any reply I make; I was also supposed to speak up, which I forgot to do, but didn't seem to matter too much. The INS guy then asks Zev a series of ten or so questions, including, twice, "Who owns this car?" - to which the answer, both times, was "My mother" (Zev did all the talking.) After that, the cop gave me a look - and let us go on.

This country is going to hell in a handbasket. This was during the RNC, and I was allowed into the country with no ID whatsoever about 6 hours from new york. He didn't even ask any identifying information, except to see if I would answer quickly. The car was not inspected - in Zev's minivan, we could have easily had a bomb of some sort, or drugs for that matter.

Even worse, the next day I had a plane ticket from Buffalo to NYC. I show up at the airport counter (after a failed attempt at getting a temporary ID of some sort from the Police), give them my name and destination, and mention that I have no identifcation with me. The clerk informs me that this won't be a problem, gives me a boarding ticket, and lets me on the plane without any verification at all! He didn't ask what credit card I used, or my age, my SSN, or even details of my itinerary - just let me on the plane. They did do a security check, of course, but they really had no way of knowing I was legally in the country, flying as myself, or paying for my own flight.

Travelling without ID was interesting, and a lot easier than I expected it to be (granted, I was in Canada and not in Mexico.) The Canadian border probably needs to be harder to cross, but that may be pointless; I don't know the economics involved, but there might be too many ways to cross to make blocking criminals etc. feasible. As far as getting on planes, I'm not sure how I feel about that. Requiring identification for any plane flight, whatsoever seems, wrong; that's equivalent to requiring people to carry around ID for normal travel (including just walking on the street, or being a passenger in a car), which this country doesn't do. So someone showing up to a counter at an airport buying tickets should not be asked for identification, and he or she should be able to buy paper tickets for domestic flights, and board them, with a normal security check but without identification. E-tickets, however, rely on identification at the airport to make any sense at all - especially tickets which are supposed to be non-transferable at the time of purchase. It seems like the airlines have a strong economic interest in making sure e-tickets only go to their purchasers - for instance, when people use special discounts or frequent flyer miles.

Later tonight, as I get bored, a post on the Series 7 exam, which I am cramming for.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane...

So it is 3am my time and I wait for my nesher to the airport. My stay in Israel was more pleasent than I had expected. Every time I come here I realize why I have to lay off my moral high horse every so often.
Im Eshkachech...

Monday, August 23, 2004

How Much is my Soul Worth?

I wrote one of the best papers of my life. I fought hard to make it fair and balanced, while still coming to solid conclusions that I believe in. My advisor has an agenda to advance, at the expence of my fair and balanced aproach. There are a number of things I could do:
1. Go PoMo: Who is to privalege my agenda over his? We are all biased really, so his bias is different than mine, so what. All attempts at balanced writing corrupt our notions of objectivity, and feign a notion of "truth". That is really the true form of deception. At least writing with an agenda does not make any attempt to fool the reader into thinking they are receiving 'objective' material.
2. The Lesser Evil (aka selling my soul on the installment plan): Edit what I can, but leave most of the slant.
3. The Greater Evil (aka selling my soul cash on the barrel): So the paper has my name on it, big deal. It also has his. It will help me get a job or into graduate school, and that's what counts anyhow, right?
4. Fight: Stop the presses, take my name off this thing.

So I like 1 a lot, and that will be my cover. Then I will say I am doing #2, but really I'll take #3. It is a shame that the Devil does not quote you a price, but just insures you'll get paid, somehow.

You Decide

Today's question: Am I a delinquent or a snob?
So on shabbat I was invited to the apt of a friend from work. Very nice, upbeat, smart competent (not like Richard Joel, though) person. Anyhow, lunch was great but I was kinda bored. My friend stopped me today to explain that everyone around the table was 'spiffy' in one way or other, and in fact I could see that. But somehow I was not really entertained. It that because I am an intellectual snob (and these poor tendencies have only been reinforced at the UofC) or am I just a social delinquent with an odd choice of friends? Ibid.

Obviously, the real answer is both. Unfortunately, I don't like being looked at as a snob. sigh. Any thoughts Miriam? Tiki? Batya? (I already know your thoughts Oren).

So the addendum to this story is that after lunch I walked over to the Dan Panorama to meet up with the Chicago faculty mission. I was surrounded by 12 professors, and I felt at more or less comfortable, or at least entertained (although it is awkward to be 30 years younger than everyone else in the room, feeling most certainly like a pisher). I don't know that less interesting things are said in the Hillel TV room between mincha-maariv though.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Reaching New Heights

I've been spending some time with a lot of old friends from the Heights (I'm referring, of course, to the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, home of Yeshiva University, the Dominican Republic, and at least 20 other strong odors) and realizing how great they are. I know all these crazy people in the area - some of whom are actually crazy, and some who are merely religiously nuts, and others who are insane merely because they live in Manhattan. But I really love them all, and I haven't seen any of them in about a year - but they're all still there! I remember a few days ago, I went to sit in the Beis , and the EXACT SAME PEOPLE were there who had been there my last day a year or so ago. No one seems to have left. And this is just the summer; a whole host of people will be moving back in the neighborhood in September which should be exciting.

Special mention will go to the Rebbeim who've come back for the school year, and who I've just seen around the past few days. A lot of people like to spend a lot of time complaining about the rabbeim of YU, and especially to roshei yeshiva, but there only a few who I know and they are all "amazing" (cf. zev's classification system.) There are aboue 5 individuals, none of whom probably remember my name, who are probably responsible for my living in the neighborhood -- just to hear them speak once a week, during davening,or at a tisch, or an 11pm chassidus shiur on some random thursday night, is worth it.

At work, they're starting to actually give me things to do, and I've come to the conclusion that my life is basically over. For next 10-or-so years, at least, it seems like I will be spending more than half of my waking hours on one thing and one thing only; I make it sound bad, but I'm actually sort of anxious to get started. I have soooo much to learn; I'm still working on the absolute basics (stuff like daycounts, and jargon, etc.) and am really quite useless right now. I figure for at least the next year or two, so much new stuff will be hitting me on a daily basis that I won't have time to get bored.

I've finally found a place to live; it looks quite nice actually, and it's cheap too. I'm very happy about it. It's got windows, and nice hardwood floors, and a decent sized living room, etc etc. It's currently unfurnished, completely bare, so I have to figure out what I'm going to do about that. (donations welcome, but I'm not desperate for junky stuff.) My roomate seems cool, and also seems to have a whole network of friends in the area, which should be a lot of fun. someone's father is a butcher :) mmm meat.

On that note, have a good week, and please be in touch.

Damn Skippy

While US News ranks Chicago at #14, below Northwestern, Brown & Wash U (WTF) and with U Penn stating proud at #4 (ditto). We do get accolades from elsewhere. The Best 357 Colleges: 2005 Edition, explains: "And while all college administrators vie to have their school be considered the one with the best undergraduate academic experience--top honors go to the University of Chicago this year"
Damn Skippy.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Zev the Critic

So Shani helped me devise a five tear system of classifying people in Zev-speak. If I meet someone for the first time, and I have to give a two word explanation this is what I really mean. It is completely descriptive in the sense that I just found that this is how I wind up speaking, without really thinking about it. The ratings loosely correspond with stars given to movies. 1 star is a waste of time that kills brain cells, 2 is good to watch on a plane, 3 is a solid thing to do on a wednesday night...
1. (Utterly) Vapid- This might really be Miriam's word. This distinction is reserved for Frat Boys and annoying high school kids. People who slam beer cans into their forehead. You get the idea. Sixth level of Hell stuffs.
2. Normal/nice- fun to hang around. Can't talk about anything that I am interested in. Good to have at a party. Nechmad.
3. A (really) good guy- someone you want to spend time with on occasion. Some interesting ideas which you can bat around.
4. Interesting/ a really nice/great guy- Impressive, solid well thought out ideas, someone to contend with, exceptionally giving or understanding, a pleasure to be aroud.
5. Amazing... (followed by some typical praise like brilliant or something)- It is really hard to be amazing. You know who you are.

Competent is also a word I flail around. But it is for different kinds of people who I don't really know. Richard Joel is competent.
Please don't ask me what you are, you can probably figure it out yourself.

Monday, August 16, 2004


I was at my cousins for shabbat and Daniel was explaining that his grandmother likes to invent yiddish words. They were going around the table giving examples of psuedo-Yiddish words that she tends to use. Daniel goes, "I bet this one is a real Yiddish word: Halb-Tsarus. It means half tsarus. Like, he's gay, but his boyfriend is Jewish. That's halb-tsarus" So what is full tsarus? "A couple gets divorced, thats full tsarus."
I really liked that idea. For (some) old Europeans the worst thing that can happen is a divorce, that is tsarus. A guy is gay, at least his boyfriend is Jewish. Halachikly, of course, it is the other way around. Divorce happens, but mishkav zachar is assur. It's a shame you can't make your grandmother a possek.

Monday, August 09, 2004


I believe that my father can only consider someone his equal if he/she has had the good fortune to read Bertolt Brecht. I have not.
After searching for the this uber-creepy song "Missed Me" on Galgalatz I went to check out the website of the Dresden Dolls, apparently self described as "Brechtian Punk Cabaret".
I think I must resolve to: A. Go to Sefer VeSefel and buy some Brecht B. Buy this CD

More on Gaza

There is an interesting document (.doc) on the IDF website which gives the ratio of terror attacks perpetrated versus those prevented since the beginning of the Intafada.
Also there is a report in Haaretz that the Egyptians are carrying on negotiations with Hamas to insure stability in Gaza after the pullout. I think that Israel is very lucky right now to have Hamas. Hamas will turn out to be a moderate force for anti-corruption, and transparency in the government. Also I think that the only person who propels the myth of "Palestinian nationalism" is Arafat, after he is gone, total anarchy will ensue. The desperate groups within Gaza will all try and assume power simultaneously. Hamas might be a powerful enough force to remind everyone that they are a "united people" and should have the decency to act like it. It that way Israel might have a negotiating partner in the coming years (versus the distant future). I think Hamas is much more dangerous as a rouge terrorist group, than as a significant minority in a Palestinian government. Politicians compromise, terrorists don't.

Based on Something or Other

There was an ad at the top of the page: "Palestine 101- a fact-based presentation to the end of the conflict" Is fact-based like a movie "based on the gripping story by Isaac Asimov" when the movie has nothing to do with the story really? I am skeptical.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

A List

People who were in the Apt last year who will not be there this year:
1. Oren
2. Yehuda
3. Sara
4. Miriam
5. Sasson
6. Dan Meir ben Ben-Tzion
7. Yael Levin
8. Mr. Dr. Verskin
9. Ira
10. Sam
11. Israela

12. Batya
13. R. Yuter
14. Saleet
15. Ike (for part of the year)
16-18. Mike, Bat Ami and Gavi (part of the year)

There are more who are tentative. I don't know that many people, but the above-mentioned are a good majority.

Old Friends

Well, I've entered that stage in my life everyone had warned me about: I'm not making any new friends, and it's a bit of a struggle holding on to the old ones. Life is so different outside of academia. Fortunately, I've got the Big City out there, and in the coming few months things should get better, as I find things to do. (For example...)

This last thursday I spent a few hours in Bryant Park, playing chess. I think I will never tire of chess, at least at the level of a few hours a week that I currently play it at. I have so much room to improve... there was one old russian there, who they called "Grandmaster" (he probably wasn't, but I didn't see him lose a game, even spotting pieces/time) who beat me spotting me a knight. That was embarrassing, but not really, and a lot of fun. If all else fails, and I can't break into the Yeshivish "scene" (ha!), I may become a regular at the Park (and probably washington park too, where they play for money. and backgammon!). I could see myself sitting there muttering about gambits and politics over coffee after work, being thrashed by Russian phd "web designers" who win chess tourneys in their spare time. Not so likely, but at least a place to go when I'm lonely.

I saw my good friend Dave the other day, back from Japan. I've known Dave since... fourth grade, we go way back, certainly farther back than any other friend I'm still in contact with. We both play poker, and have done some of that. We went to a bar in Fair Lawn (so we could both walk back home), and oddly enough half of our middle school was there back from college, and one of them recognized us. She introduced herself, and I remembered her only as the first girl to grow breasts - really, this was the only recollection I had of her. This sparked a long, snobby conversation with Dave about how stupid most people are. Most of my life has been spent in Elite Institutions, where everyone is assumed to be on the same track, and rather ambitious about it; the other kids in this bar led lives consumed by drinking, flirting, and sports. It was an odd experience.

My mother is so holy. Friday night, I was trying to learn something, not having done so basically all week, and I randomly (ok, not random, arbitrarily) opened up to the first page in Berachos. She asks me what I'm studying, and I tell her I'm learning gemera, and she got so proud. Deep down, she's so jewish. She actually sat down for a while, and we read the first mishna and a rashi or two, and then had a long conversation about a lot of different stuff, and she unknowingly gave me some well-deserved mussar - "so how much do you study, about a page a day?" -- "Eh, no, I'm kind of a bum" -- "Well, start off slow, a little bit every day, maybe a quarter of a page, whatever you can do, it's very good, very important". What a yiddeshe neshoma. G-d bless her. Hopefully I will start learning more - if you talk to me, harass me about it. I've been a real bum lately.

Work is interesting. I am totally in love with concept of volatility; the way an option's price is equal to its hedging cost is really surprisingly beautiful, in that a-priori obvious but deeper-than-it-looks kind of way. And in practice, it's like this eternal war of gamma against theta, and everyone is always fighting the inescapable fat tails. It's amazing how new markets for volatility (and for risk, really) are, (despite being older than time in some cases, i.e. life insurance), and how much everything has evolved in really just the past 30 years. There's still tons of work to be done (and I don't just mean on the productiong/trading side.) Someone's got to figure this stuff out eventually.

Overall things are going well, but I really want to hear from people, and I apologize if you've been trying to get in touch with me and can't. The best thing to do is call me, it will make me so happy.

Shavua Tov to all, and now I must sleep.

Thursday, August 05, 2004


In meeting with non-US people I have realized how important it is to keep up on the Premiere Leauge as it is the one thing that can keep non-US persons interested (and have them think you are less American- which is always good in Europe). So I guess it is like golf, but more interesting. So I resolve: More futbol, less golf.


1. I read a quote I like on NYT: '"I've been on the other end of it," said John Olerud, the first baseman who made his Yankees debut with a two-run single in his first at-bat and a slick defensive play in the 10th inning. "Being a part of it is definitely a lot more fun."' - Yes, we all like winning.
2. I am still not sure what I think about Mr. Kobe Bryant's case. I completely agree that sex abuse cases should be treated more fairly than they are currently. But this from CNN makes me squirm for a mistrial: "Under pressure from the U.S. Supreme Court, District Judge Terry Ruckriegle on Monday released some 200 pages of transcripts from a closed-door hearing in June. The transcripts had been mistakenly e-mailed to The Associated Press and six other media organizations, who fought for the right to publish their contents."
3. I am reading "The Limits of History" by one of my more admired professors. I really like it. I am learning about locutionary and illocutionary stuffs, makes me feel like I am back in 3W.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Happy Birthdays

OK, I am a day late. Yesterday was Tisha B'Av so I have an excuse. Happy Birthday to Saleet and Oren. Saleet now 19 can legally drink in Ontario. As the Hebrew and Gregorian dates coinside yet again she, in fact, might be the Messiah. We keep on hoping, right? Oren can now drink legally in his own country (much more useful). He will no longer need to jump from moving vans onto poor, unexpecting, drunken acquaintances, to then steal their IDs. And for that I wish him a hardy Mazal Tov.

Monday, July 26, 2004

"Revenge of the Sith"

So Star Wars Episode III is now "Revenge of the Sith". As acurately pointed out "Return of the Jedi" was supposed to be "Revenge of the Jedi" but then they thought "Jedi's don't take revenge!", so they changed it. But Sith Lords do, obviously, hence the name. In light of this point of Star Wars trivia I am very happy with the naming of Episode III. I might not see the movie, but I like the title.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Palestinian "Hasbarah"

The "Europeans" (UK, Norway, Netherlands) set up and fund a Negotiation Support Unit (NSU) for the PLO/PA. A group of advocates/lawyers for the Palestinian cause. You can find links here or here.
How Israel allow the European community (personified by the EU) to broker and agreement when "they" actively engage in propogana for one side?

I hate chains -aka "דתיים "בעד

1. Jonathan Pollard (yes The Jonathan Pollard) wrote a "great piece" about why Yonatan Bassi is the wort person ever. Damn, I can't help but think of Tisha B'Av:
2. My new political organization: "דתיים "בעד
3. Michal Rosenfeld had a nice point: Israeli's like to define themselves by what they are not: Vatik, not Oleh Chadash; Datti, not Chiloni; Kravi, not Jobnik... This country sooooo needs to get over itself.
4. In honor of Zev Day I think I am going to go to the Museum of Muslim Art around the corner. Part of the ma'ase will be my passive, non-involvement in the "chain" from Katif to Yerushalaim. I hope that is a fitting Zev-like thing to do. (I probably have the hardest time figuring out what is especially Zev-like and what isn't).

Friday, July 23, 2004

life in 3w

so i finally got around to joining this blog. read through all stuff people (zev) wrote, and figured i might as well throw in my two cents. first of all, happy yom zev. (is this an excuse to eat meat that day? what about music and movies?) second of all, i got the highest score on my stat midterm. yay, me! ok, so we've established that 3w is a rat-trap, or at the very least, a mouse trap. i caught my second mouse yesterday, with a little help from daniel. theres at least one more mouse left, and now i'm getting started on the pile o junk next to my desk and zev's bottle garden. come on zev, a bottle garden?!? i mean, even rednecks look down on people with bottle gardens... especially indoor ones. yesterday was sorta funny. maxim had a girl over. i had a girl over. and daniel was on my computer, probably wondering where his girl is. ok, i'm done ranting. good shabbos, and have an easy fast on tuesday!

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

יום ז אב

So Sunday is יום זאב- i.e. the 7th of Av. I just figured this out (after 21 years) and I am soooo happy. In honor of the first Zev Day I ask people to do something especially Zev-like. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Die Fat!

Great Onion article. Being in Israel means you get to everything later.
"I came down with obesity two years after I got married," 41-year-old Oklahoma City resident Fran Torley said. "I know it was hard for my husband to watch me suffer from this disease. When he caught obesity a year later, he got so depressed, he couldn't do anything but sit on the couch. Some days, we sit and watch television from dawn till dusk, hoping for news of a breakthrough."


I was very impressed by a flashmedia article which I think can be found here:
'Palestine Lost' (I assume playing off of Paradise Lost). Maybe we are actually seeing the beginning of reform from within. For the first time in a while I hear things like: "We (the Palestinians) have paid too high a price. It was not worth it." All along people have been saying that statements like that are needed by Mr. Joe Chumus in order to propel peace (or a lack of War).
On the front of development in Gaza I have been thinking about political regimes and what the best type of leadership/structure of government. Is there a legitamate alternative to democracy? I read somewhere, that democracy is more than being able to vote in an election between two canidates you don't like. You need civil liberties, freedoms (press, speech, etc) equal rights for all and all that goodness. I would consider forging a government which is autocratic, but provides all these liberties.
How then is change affected? Well it seems to me that Hobbes talks about a regime much like this, where it is autocratic in nature, but still representative of the people. (Sans the whole not being able to get rid of your leader peacefully- a must in these regions). It seems now that there is this funny tug-of-war which is affecting change, but through his notion of *ijma* or conensus (Rousseau anyone?). People bang their drums and Arafat - who they still respect as their leader - reacts. He is pulled by them and they by him. I could see a government where Arafat is the head and Dahlan is the representative to Israel and it sort of works like it does in America, ie the administrative branch have a veto, except here the veto is not subject to a 2/3 majority.
This is more rambling for me than anyone else I guess. Sorry.

Monday, July 19, 2004

I always wanted one of those...

Courtesy of NTY online:

Did you know that playing online games‚ like chess or backgammon‚ could bring you new friends‚ love and maybe even a baby?

Maybe all that poker, chess and sheshbesh has not all been for naught?

Thursday, July 15, 2004

A Treatise On Science in Movies

Passed along from one of my science friends:
"Yes, it really pissed me off that movies do bad science research. The reason the sun looks like that is because of convection of the NONFUSING envelope, which wouldn't exist in a ball of fusion, tritium is a gas, not a pellet, and a fusion reaction wouldn't be put out by water, or create a magnetic field and pull in all metal. Cars on the other side of the river wouldn't be affected before the walls of the building. Someone in quantum physics would call it that to a student of quantum mechanics (one of the books he drops is Gasiorowitz, which you can probably find in the U of C bookstore). He wouldn't call it "advanced science". And why was he the only one who got goggles?"
If you know not of what she speaks, you have not joined 100+ million people at the movies this summer. And for this I pity you (the movie itself was not so hot though).

Monday, July 12, 2004

New #

I have new phone numbers where I can be reached for the next while. I feel wierd publishing them online so just look at the signature to any of the emails I send out and you will find them.

Work, Work, Work

Well I hope Oren got back to the States ok. I saw him off from Yerushalaim anyhow, so if he got lost in the mail, its not my fault. Oren and I both start work today, how coincidental. I am here at the JCPA right now reading the ICJ advice on the Wall (by Pink Floyd). Good album, better song. My dad offers legal advice. He tells people "You were speeding, drunk and hit Mr. Brown's cow. Plead guilty to DUI and I'll see what I can do." That's advice. But "Under International law take down the Wall." Doesn't sound like advice to me (not that the ruling says precisely that, but..) Anyhow, right not I am very happy working in the nice office with ADSL and reading about things I do in my apt will not nearly as cool a title. I hope the real world is this cool.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

The Following People go Straight to Shamaim

After throughly neglecting the work of Dr. Y. Lebovitz I have concluded that the following people go straight to Olam HaBa, bis hundert und zwanzig:
Akiva Gavriel (Jack)
Jacob Reckess
Daniel Halper

Laura O./Ike's car
Josh Young
Maxim Leyenson
Also get special *brownie points*

Thank you dearly for helping me move other people's stuff.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Tanur Shel Achnai, um, Oren

After two years of hot debate over the "status" of our oven, it has FINALLY been kashered. That's what you get for having a careful mathematician for a roommate I guess. Unfortunately, no dancing carob trees. Maybe next time.

Old Friends

Man, I miss that apartment. Two years I lived there.

Anyhow, an "update" for all those who care, and really, more for myself when I read this in 4 years:

I'm at Yeshivat Hamivtar, and really liking it. Rav Brovender is, as Jeremy Ginsburg says, "A hoot" - and runs a great shiur too. All the rebeim here are really cool, and my chavrutas, and well, that's like 90% of the experience right there. I'm totally learning a ton. Yay. It is kind of sad that I will have to leave this world in just a few weeks and start working, but I think that I will remember how great this learning stuff is for at least a few years, and that makes it all worth it.

In fact, the whole idea of working seems kind of remote at this point. I totally understand now how people get "lost" in the yeshiva world - it never occurs to them to stop learning, and the idea of working probably seems foreign after a few years of this. (Note: I don't think that's a bad thing.) I have reason to suspect, however, that the current "fire" I have - which is also present in the other fellows who have been there less than a month - runs out eventually, but I guess I won't find out for a long time. In any case, this seems to be the almost universal experience of the people I have spoken to.

I look forward to hearing from other 3w alumni in the future. Drop an email - I'm in Israel until July 11th.

Jew v. Jewish people

an email I sent to Prof. Volokh:
In response to your posting, I don't think there is an essential difference between the two terms. Ie one is not necessarily pejorative, as opposed to the other. I have discussed this with others before and the general consensus is that when people refer to "Those Jews" they are often doing so in a conspiratorial and bigoted manner.
Sort of like 'colored people' was the proper term for Blacks in the 50's, then people of color, African American (and then back to Black?). When a term gets worn, groups just tend to switch epithets.
Obviously, context plays the most crucial role, however.

OK, no more discussion about that!

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

What a Mess

Now that the Apt has three new residents, Josh, Daniel and Maxim there is more stuff lying around than one could possibly shake a stick at. Fortunately it is cleaner than it has been since, oh, fifth week of spring quarter.