Friday, April 22, 2005

And a Happy Pesach

to you. In honor of the Passover holiday, I'm going to take a break from contributing to this here blog. I know I'm only officially supposed to stop eating leavened products, but I figured the blog is too full of cookie crumbs and hidden cheerios (the bane of every pesach cleaner) to clean it out properly for the holiday.

So, like the non-Passover food in my house, I've "sold" for a nominal fee my leavened blog, via the Rabbi, to a non-Jew for the holiday. I haven't told him yet, but I think I sold it to Terry O. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I told the Rabbi.

Well, whatever. Mr. Possum, if you need the keys (which strictly speaking you're allowed to, since you own the leavened goods around here), check with the Rabbi on Long Island. No, don't worry, how many Rabbis on Long Island can there be?

Anyway, have a good week, all, and I shall be back. Maybe even during the intermediate days, if I can find a computer without the wife hanging around nearby. A happy Passover to one and all, and don't eat too much matzah.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Thursday Three - Rare First Edition Edition

1. Do you like to read one book at a time until you’re finished, or multiple things at once?

One at a time - I need to focus. I have several books I kind of stopped in the middle of, so technically I'm reading more than one. In the same sense that I (9 years later) am still "pursuing" my PhD.

2. Do you do your browsing at the library, or do you prefer going to retailers such as Barnes and Noble and glomming up free samples of the publishing arts, pretending you’re actually going to buy something?

Liberry for me. We had B & N gift cards to use up a few weeks back, and it was the first time I had been in a bookstore in several years. Amazon is where we shop, and I echo Terry's commenter who takes names off Amazon & then goes & gets them from the Library.

3. Which do you prefer--hard cover, paperback, or online?

I don't think I have a preference between the first two, but I can't read a lot of real stuff online. It's hard on the eyes. Unlike this nice young lady, who's very easy on the eyes.

And a special bonus question (or else Jim has lost the ability to count):

4. What do you read most often?

Well, I started up my daily page of Talmud Study (Daf Yomi, in the lingo) again recently, so I'm reading a lot more of that. Bear in mind getting through the whole cycle takes 7 and a half years, so there's a lot of reading. Thank heavens for the English translation, 'cause my Aramaic needs work. I read non-fiction almost exclusively, and it's almost always history.

Answering those burning

questions of life. See why I like smart scientist-type guys?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

One more thing

I MUST link to this article about Ward Churchill, the Educational Specialist over in Colorado with the brilliant ideas about how It's All America's Fault.™

Normally I wouldn't waste time on this loon, but Sheila the Extremely Funny linked to this and I took a shot at reading it. I can't honestly say I've read a funnier story in ages. The whole thing is so beyond ridiculous you have to laugh. It's hard to imagine such people have jobs, much less are lionized for being bizarre.

And yet, there is the specter of the Cow Puppet Interview. I will not ruin it for you, but suffice it to say it makes the whole thing worth reading.

Archives of Interest

Laziness and pre-Pesach (Passover) Preparations are keeping me from using up valuable internet real estate.

However, so that I don't lose my streak of 2 semi-regular updates of this feature, I'll link to the East Carolina University Archives. Why, might you ask?

Because Perfesser Jim over that way was kind enough to save me the trouble of looking for something of my own, naturally. In case you thought he was only interested in providing fodder for Thursday Three, here is proof otherwise.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Yo, it's like, science

The idea of them finding life in NY at all is likely to cause gales of laughter elsewhere in the country.

I just think it's an opportunity for future headline writing fun:

"Scientists isolate elusive "fuhgeddaboudit" gene; can now explain roots of New Yorkese."

"Study hopes to find gene for 'Hey, I'm walkin' here' and 'Buddy, you gonna move that piece a crap or what?' by the end of the year."

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Thursday Three

I started doing last week's, then gave up in the middle. Dunno why, but I did.

1. What names would you suggest for the offspring of --Denise Richards and Chuckie (the Wildman) Sheen; Britney Spears and that guy; and Prince Charles and Camilla, Dutchess of Cornwall, nee Mrs. Andrew Parker-Bowles?

A similar conversation is going on here about the Spears whelp. My suggestion in the comments (among others) there was "Smoke Federline." Federline being "that guy" it seems. For Sheen, I assume the proper name would be either "Prenup" or "Big Fat Settlement" Sheen. A new Wales child would likely be named "Surprise," or alternatively Hieronymus.

Pedantically, I would point out (per Wikipedia) that The Duchess was not actually born Mrs. Parker-Bowles, but rather Camilla Shand. Also, if you look at the picture of the happy couple, I would still like to know how they got the porcupine on her head to sit still that long.

2. The inspiration for the next set of names comes to us by way of resident peregrine-watcher Janis Gore from deep in the wilds of the Sportsman’s Paradise--to whit: what should be the names of the 3 (or 4) baby falcons born to San Francisco’s own George and Gracie? (You can click on the main website at UCSC and read all about them, or click here and see the most recent live image.)

Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, naturally.

3. Now, for the last one, I realize some of you have already made suggestions, but you’re just going to have to do it again. What is your suggestion for Dave Helton’s new baby horsey?

This one makes me nervous; I'm not good with animal names (see #2). Were I feeling cruel, and given the inspiration of #1, I might suggest "Camilla." But I'm not cruel, am I? If the filly had been a colt, I might have come up with real horsey names, like "Bob" and "Roger." But I have no inspiration, so I'm bowing out.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Archives of interest

It's been missing for a while, but so have I.

Anyway, I found this site which is not strictly speaking an archives, but is a large collection of old penny postcards from around the country. Looks like there's a pile of stuff here, and I can't be bothered to go searching on everybody else's states.

So go look at the USGenWeb Penny Postcards site. Remember when you could get something for a penny?

Me neither.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

This, I presume

will be of great interest to that large constituency of small game hunters. Who want to eat cats.

I wonder if the guy proposing the thing has a partnership in a Chinese food restaurant?


Not to distract from my serious blogging ::Sniffs air self-importantly::, this was still funny.

"Houston, the Problem Page has a Problem."

See what you miss over there in Munuvia, Terry?

Book Review Addendum

One more thing about David Klinghoffer's book (See here if you can't figure out to scroll down two previous posts). I finished it last night, and I've decided already I need to read it again. I want to make sure I grasp all his arguments, and I think it's an important book.

Anyway, one of the things he closes the book with is something that's bothered me for a long time. There are certain people who are determined to convince Jews that they really, really need to believe in Jesus and accept him as their savior. (It's the main reason David wrote the book, which would explain why he talks about it.) That's fine as far as it goes, I wish they would stop, but I kind of understand why they're worried about my soul.

The part that bothers me is the CONSTANT reference to selected verses in the Torah as prooftexts for Jesus' messiahship and the correctness of Christianity. Every one of these people I've ever heard from always cites these things out of context. Isaiah 53, if I'm not mistaken, is one of the usual texts cited. Klinghoffer goes through the verses bit by bit, so I won't. But how can you expect a God-fearing Jew to buy into your interpretation of that chapter when you don't explain how Isaiah 52, 27, 19, etc. fit into a Christological world?

I just don't think you can cherry-pick what you want us Jews to believe, and ignore all the other parts of our Torah (written and oral). The whole point of the Mishnah and Talmud (the Oral Torah) is to explain, illustrate, and clarify all the apparent conflicts in the written Torah. What the cherry-pickers fail to do to my satisfaction is resolve the parts of the Torah that explicitly contradict a Christian approach. Since the whole basis of our faith is that the Torah is a never-ending, binding contract between the Jews and God, you've really got to prove your case that there's a new covenant abrogating the old one.

Bear in mind I'm only concerned here with the Jewish perspective. If you aren't a Jew, (and David argues this point as well) there's a lot to be said for Christianity as a faith, if it brings people closer to the One God. I just wish the proselytizers would give up and leave us alone.

And yes, I think this book affected me a lot. He put in writing things I've thought about in the past quite a bit.

Monday, April 11, 2005

One reason

I call myself aesthetically challenged is that I am almost completely un-crafty. By that I mean I draw like a four-year-old (actually worse - oldest child is showing far more promise than her old man), I couldn't play an instrument to save my life, and several woodworking tools are in the basement waiting for me to work up the nerve to ruin some former tree.

The latest example would be my attempt over the last several minutes to prepare box labels for some materials I organized. I have a lovely Word document, with nice dotted lines around each box label, and all I need to do is cut along the line. Can I manage that properly? No. I get edges that are only slightly more curved than this.

It's a good thing they make desk jobs - I'm quite sure I'd be living in a cardboard box if I actually needed to go out and make anything for a living.

Book Review

I'm mostly finished with David Klinghoffer's book "Why the Jews Rejected Jesus." I know David slightly, and we had a chance to talk to his wife a bit this past weekend, which was really nice.

Anyway, I wanted to talk about the book, largely because so many of my 5 regular readers are not only Christians, but deeply committed to their faith. I suspect this would be a tough book for most Christians to read. David says a lot of things that I think will come across badly to people convinced that Jesus was the Messiah. But it's an important book, and I think people openminded enough to read it thoughtfully will learn something. They'll definitely learn a lot about Judaism, and I suspect they'll learn a bit about their own faith.

His basic thesis is this, near as I understand it. The Jews rejected Jesus, and that rejection was critical to the development of the Western world. Without that rejection, Christianity would have remained a minority version of Judaism, and not created Western Europe as we know it. The reasons for the rejection are many, and I'll leave you to read the book to get the full effect. The most critical rejection, David says, is not the rejection of Jesus during his own lifetime, but the rejection of Paul and his development of Christian ideas and beliefs.

The critical issue for me is that much has been said about Jews throughout history by Christians (leaving aside for the moment things Jews have said about Christians.) Most of it seems to come from two things: 1) Christianity's basic ignorance of Judaism and its traditions; & 2) Christianity's refusal (not always, but often) to acknowledge Judaism's right to exist and its importance to its practitioners.

The first issue, as David indicates, was not true at the beginning. All the practitioners of Jesus' religion were themselves Jews, and would have had more than passing familiarity with the basics of Judaism. As Paul opened the faith up to non-Jews, that familiarity ended. Judaism quickly faded from Christianity's worldview, which I think led in large part to the second issue. David goes into it all, so I won't, but there's been tremendous pressure on Jews to give up their faith. How would a Christian react to being told to drop their faith and the faith of their fathers?

Anyway, there's a lot in the book, and I recommend it highly for anyone interested in the history of faith, and the history of the interaction between the two most prominent monotheistic religions.

This is

what college students should be doing with their time. No point listening to proto-communist professors drone on about the realization of being. Certainly not learning anything. Building a machine that takes 125 steps to change the batteries in a flashlight.

That's education.

Friday, April 01, 2005

A Little Pepper, Mr. Buchanan?

Given that Pat is usually full of something and vinegar, this is somewhat appropriate. Despite my own stance as a right-wing religious fanatic (anybody who believes in religion is a fanatic according to some folks), I don't like Buchanan. I think he's more than half an anti-semite, and his particular brand of conservatism grates on me. This, however, is clearly the work of a mental midget.

How much more proof do people need that the left is the domain of the infantile? Why are they the ones referred to as intellectuals when they encourage this sort of peurile behavior? Style points go to William Kristol, who in his pie in the face moment wiped himself off and continued to make his point.

Let's hear it for free speech, shall we?

Dental Update

Terry was kind enough to ask by email, and perhaps the other three of you are desperately interested in the state of what few original teeth I have left. I think I'm down to 25 or something at this point. Four wisdom teeth gone (which explains a lot), four pulled for orthodontic work that has since gone haywire, and now my second root canal leading to a cap.

Anyway, the second visit was almost as much fun as the first, including such entertaining exercises as "Open Wider, Please" and "just put this foul play-doh in your mouth for the next 6 hours while I go shopping." The result, for the moment, is a temporary cap that I can't help reaching for with my tongue every 30 seconds, and a lot of eating on the opposite side of my mouth.

So, thanks for wondering, and in two weeks I get the real (fake) tooth installed. Yippee. Its close approximation to tax day is not, to my mind, merely a coincidence.