Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Back in the USSR

I returned to Cambridge a few days ago after a long, sunny San Diego summer. Now I have to furnish a new apartment, organize seminars and study. Many of the readers of this blog are mathematicians, so I have a question for you: have any of you read Stasheff's pair of papers "Homotopy Associativity of H-Spaces" or LNM 161? If so, I have a few questions that may better be exchanged in private. Sadly, I have nothing humorous to add—this is the life of a graduate student.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Finally a Good Word on Coffee

According to the Washington Post, "Coffee not only helps clear the mind and perk up the energy, it also provides more healthful antioxidants than any other food or beverage in the American diet, according to a study released Sunday." This should help explain the thinking behind the Yavneh Coffee Club. Jak and I were thinking not only of clear minds and energy perks, but especially of those healthful antioxidants. In case you were wondering, the Wash Post also tells us what antioxidants are good for: they "are thought to help battle cancer and provide other health benefits." Unfortunately, as the article goes on to say, "that does not mean coffee is a substitute for fruit and vegetables."

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Apparently the movie (http://www.apple.com/trailers/miramax/proof.html) is set to open Sept. 16th. Even if it is not so hot (which I read in one review in Premiere Magazine) I still get to see UChicago again!

A Visit to The House of Justice

In order to facilitate the completion of our tax requirements as residents of Jerusalem, Sara and I made a trip to the court house yesterday and made a declaration of our finances before an offiicial clerk. This trip greatly contributed to my apprehension of mismanagement among Israel's government officials. The court house building, that austere physical representation of Justice, was a run down building with so many rooms off a long hallway that I believe the building must have served, in an earlier time, as either a hospital or a dormitory. Indications that the building had once housed a large number of people could be seen in the court house's central courtyard where a number of clothing-lines were still drawn, many indeed with clothing actually drying on them. The Israeli informality, which I have at this point grown to expect, did not permit the addition of a reception desk to the austere building's entrance and after a rigorous security check, we were left to wander the building unguided in search of the appropriate office. There not being many signs, we wandered quite awhile and it was only after some time that I noticed something suspicious about our fellow wanderers. Many, but not all, of them bore, in addition to their hoodlum-like appearance, hand-cuffs on their arms. Some were even chained on their feet as well. They, like us, were searching completely unattended and unguided for the office in which their affairs could be settled, though I daresay ours was not the same office. Upon the completion of our declaration, we initially made for the nearest exit, but stopped ourselves when we noticed that that exit was situated next to a temporary jail room into which a number of the hand-cuffed hoodlums were being herded. Afraid of the reprecussions of either being harmed by the hoodlums or accidently being herded in with them, we returned to the place of our initial entrance and made that our final exit.

Monday, August 22, 2005

No sleep till Brooklyn

Matisyahu is very popular in San Diego. The La Jolla Tower Records prominently displays his live album; it was their top seller last week. Lou's Records in Encinitas is also promoting it. I have heard "King Without a Crown" a few times on FM 94.9, the local "classic alternative" radio station. What's going on in the rest of the country? Do any of you own the album?

He's the frat-boy reggae successor to Sublime, I think. There are a few differences: he is more dancehall than punk, he is probably not going to OD on heroin in a motel, and he is not going to write a bunch of lame-ass songs ripping off "The Chronic." Of course this may be bad for his career, but may be good for his soul.

The religious thing is uncomfortably personal. I felt the same way when I saw Jimmy Cliff last summer in Baltimore and he played "Rivers of Babylon." For that matter, Burning Spear reminds me of my Reform rabbi in high school, who was a huge fan. How do Muslims feel when they listen to Brand Nubian or the intro to "Mecca and the Soul Brother"? How about Christians and "Jesus Walks"? Maybe if Matisyahu sang more songs about weed, like the Klezmatics or Bob Marley, he'd be more palatable to close-minded Jews like me. Then again, I don't like the Klezmatics or Bob Marley and don't smoke weed, so there. Come to think of it, I hate psychedelia.

On a completely different note: check out this article in the Times Magazine. It reminded me of the 90's Yiddish culture craze and my own attempts to feel out my Jewish identity in college.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Color War

While perusing Flickr.com I could not help think what a great Color War disengagement makes. Though, in my day, it was not the custom to throw acid in the face of your opponent.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Last Week's Antidisengagementarianism: by the time I got to a place where I could see the Kosel, the battery on my camera died. So this is the plaza to the side of the plaza in front of the Kosel and that is Al Aqsa in the background. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 15, 2005

Congratulations Sarah B.

Another commendation for an excellent post on bangitout. U of C is finally making her mark on the (American) Jewish world!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Thursday, August 11, 2005

You know you are are University when...

you have your own Banitout Top 10. Thank you Sarah B (who, by the by, should join the Blogosphere).

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Will Tenure Cease to Exist?

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with one of my past professors. In telling me about the incoming and outgoing faculty at the UofC, he mentioned something that I thought was very interesting - that tenure will cease to exist in 25 to 50 years. While he thought that there would always be tenured professors at top tier institutions (i.e. Chicago, the Ivies, etc.), he believed that second and third tier institutions (i.e. Illinois St., SUNY Buffalo), will eventually stop to offer tenure.

My initial reaction was that abolishing tenure would be inconceivable, as tenure seems to be fundamental to the university setting . Yet, upon second thought, it makes sense, particularly for lower tier universities. As costs rise, universities with smaller endowments and less incoming cash than big name schools will simply not be able to cover the costs of a) retaining top talent; and b) covering the large benefit packages of tenured profs. For professors in the sciences, there is less cause for concern, as they are more easily capable of producing income for their schools (through grants and research). However, professors in the humanities will face more pressure, as their work and services are not as greatly in demand as their counterparts in the sciences. Moreover, I feel that the concept of "publish or perish" will be more and more the case, where senior professors who are taking in much, relative to their younger counterparts, will have to in some way justify their pay and benefit packages.

While I can not claim to be familiar with the pertinent figures on this matter, I am somewhat familiar with the general operations and aims of universities, on current and historical bases. As much as schools are centers of intellectual growth and debate, like firms, they too look at finances as the bottom line.

Monday, August 08, 2005

יום ז'אב

For the second year running I am planning on observing Yom Zev (this Friday). I ask people to do something "Zev-like" (or Zev-esque, if you prefer) in honor of the day.

Check It Out

My entry won #8 on the bangitout.com caption contest. Also check out my honorable mentions below the list.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Who Knew?

So the World Bank thinks Israel is corrupt. Someone at the ministry of finance should call in protectzia at the World Bank to have them edit that report.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The DEBKA Challenge

I challenge all of you to write in and tell me about mistakes from DEBKA. I would be surprised if you found any -- other than slightly inaccurate estimates of people killed in terrorist attacks (which inaccuracies can be found in any newspaper btw). As for the liberal media, every time they neglect to call a terrorist a terrorist they are committing a far graver error than one that you could find on DEBKA. In addition to their timely, well researched reports, Debka writes concise, readable articles that don't focus on someone's individual problems. For these reasons and more I maintain that DEBKA is the best newspaper around and challenge any reader of this blog to find and show me the error of its ways.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Special Report: Hell Freezes Over

For years now, Steve Jobs has forbidden Apple to unleash a two button mouse. He scorned PC users who insisted on use the productive, yet unsightly, second button. However, to Jobs's credit, he is having his cake, eating it too AND having the last laugh! This new one button/two button mouse solves Jobs's issue with the ugliness of the second button, and has all the functionality of a two button (plus some really cool extras, like a scroll button and built in Expose tool!) -pause- I am taking this time to be enamored. Wow.

Granted it is 20 YEARS LATE, but Apple certainly delivered in style.

A Fatwah we've All Been Waiting For

It finally cam this week. A real anti-terror fatwah. According to Debka (which is no less accurate than the New York Times these days), Tantawi, a senior Egyptian imam, has ruled that
no Muslim fighter who blows himself up may be declared a martyr or reach Paradise – unless he fights in Palestine.
His mention of "Palestine" includes Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Netanyah -- all of which are on Israel's side of the wall. Furthermore, he is probably just a government imam and most "Muslim fighters" (or as we call them "terrorists") won't listen to him. Let's just say that if I were running the airports, I would still check for illegal weapons.

More Happy Birthdays

Yesterday was my mother's birthday and Shabbes was Dan's.
Happy Birthday, Mom!
Happy Birthday, Dan!