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:
HockeyMonkey.com: HockeyMonkey.com how can I help you?
Yaacov: Um, you called about my order.
HockeyMonkey.com: Oh yes, it is incomplete. We need to know what color you want your glove.
Yaacov: Well, what can I choose from?
HockeyMonkey.com: 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: apt3w.blogpot.com ;)

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.