Friday, August 26, 2005

uh. um. well...

This is possibly the stupidest thing I've ever seen. Some people will treat absolutely anything as "art" or call anything "educational."

And some people will do absolutely anything, and don't even need money to do it.

More proof of why I think European intellectuals are completely, utterly, and irreparably coming from the fourth moon out from Pluto.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The thing

about oral history is that it's by and large the spoken word. Unfortunately for some, the simplest way of using oral histories is by reading them. It's not the perfect approach to getting what someone said, but it does make reference easier.

And I say unfortunately for some because some poor devil has to transcribe all the verbiage. Lucky for me on the project I am now involved in, the Doctor running this deal has a secretary (a complete doll, by the way) who has been doing all the heavy lifting on this. I mean heavy lifting, as she says her back is killing her from sitting and typing all this hot air.

Unfortunately, she was having trouble making head or tail out of one interview, done with a chap of foreign extraction. I volunteered to attempt it in the hopes of freeing her up for more useful tasks. Lord have mercy. Aside from the fact that the interviewee appears to have marbles in his mouth, this is really miserable work. I'm making good progress (halfway through, 24 pages or so in four hours of work), but this is no fun at all.

This is why I think Terry is a saint for typing all his wife's stuff. I'm glad my wife can type, and the kids happily can still hand in all work in crayon.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Blogger sucks, huh?

Hmmm. Terry picked up sticks & moved over to Munuvia. And then the server goes ooey kablooey? Coincidence? I wonder.

Where was a certain Possum who claimed to be at an "educational conference?" He wasn't letting squirrels loose in the Munuvian backwoods, was he?

I would attempt to fill the void with similar blather, but we all know it would be a pointless exercise. Besides, my in-laws are on the way back over the pond from Scotland (and may I say I would not be completely disturbed if they brought me back a kilt), so I have other things to think about.

Oh, and the kids are done with camp & off to the beach today, so life will be busier for a while until school starts.

UPDATE: LittleA correctly points out that it would be BADGERS, rather than squirrels, that would have gummed up the Munuvian Public Works and Malt Shoppe. A thousand apologies for the error. Look for a correction on page D35 above the tide schedule and below the personal ads.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Pictures worth a thousand words

A friend of mine sent me this link, and I can't begin to tell you what it means to me. To see Jews doing such things to Jews is beyond my comprehension; to listen to Reuters (a bad idea to begin with) this is after "four decades of occupation." No mention of the attacks by the Arabs that forced this "occupation." Certainly no mention of what the Palestinians in Gaza have managed to do in the last 40 years. Which is nothing at all. Meantime brave Jewish settlers have built homes, communities, farms, and lives.

And all of it destroyed in three days.

It's no surprise that this began on Tisha B'Av, the most tragic day in Jewish history. I had started a post on the Three Weeks, a period which ended last sunday with the observance of the Tisha B'Av fast. (more details on the three weeks and Tisha B'Av here.) This is as good a place to talk about it as that one. Tisha B'Av is primarily known as the day when both Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed, first by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and then by the Romans in 70 CE. Most of the commentaries note that Tisha B'Av is the national day of mourning and tragedies.

The commentaries note that the Israelites in the desert cried over the episode of the spies (Numbers, Chap. 13 if I have it right). The night they cried over the false report was Tisha B'Av, the ninth of the Hebrew month of Av. As the sages report, God said "you've cried tonight over false reports and for no reason; I will make this a day you will cry over forever." Numerous tragedies, including the Jewish expulsion from Spain in 1492 have happened on this date. I don't know any other faith that has a national day of mourning. Certainly the death of Jesus is highly significant, but given the theological necessity of his death, I don't consider that an issue where Christians "mourn", exactly, that event. The closest parallels are national (rather than religious) rememberances - the Armenian Genocide, Pearl Harbor Day, September 11, etc.

We as Jews focus on this day all of our grief and pain at our suffering. What makes it important is not that we have been persecuted and killed. It's that we have lost our immediate relationship with God, and it's our own fault. We pushed God away, and we mourn the consequences of our all too human mistake. The First Temple was destroyed for the sin of idolatry. The Second Temple, however, was destroyed largely because of man's inhumanity to man. It's known in Hebrew as "Sinat Chinam", literally "hatred of friends/neighbors", most commonly translated as baseless hatred.

Which brings me back to the original part of this post. The idea that Jews could do such a thing to Jews is beyond awful. If this were to happen in any other country - the government forcing thousands of its citizens to abandon the homes they've lovingly built and maintained for a generation - there would be outrage and international condemnation. There would be talk of the Nazification of the country, or discussions of ethnic cleansing. But Israel? Jews? They're just "ending the illegal occupation."

The psychological damage this will do to a generation of Israelis is enormous. The soldiers being forced to do this have been shown crying their eyes out at the idea that they have to destroy the lives of their fellow citizens. This was destined to happen on Tisha B'Av - there could be no other day when such events could happen. It's more proof of why, when people expect that I will support the State of Israel no matter what, I argue that a government is just a government. Since Israel is led largely by non-observant Jews, the State doesn't represent what I believe Israel needs to be. It needs to be the Light Unto The Nations, and how is that possible when the people running the country don't follow the path of God? It becomes just another state, where events like this can happen, and we do not serve as an example to others.

I think the saddest part of these events is the likely result. Talking heads and elitist thinkers will nod sagely, saying "Israel is finally showing that it's willing to move a little towards peace." The rest of us may realize that Israeli compliance with the "peace process" has been WAY beyond what reasonable people could expect, for which they've gotten zero credit. And while the gasbags pretend this will help, I believe this will change nothing. The Palestinians will not magically lay down their weapons & teach their children to co-exist with Jews. They will simply direct their energies towards other protests, other "failures of Israel to be a partner in peace," and sadly, towards new terrorism.

It's a false promise, Mr. Sharon. This will not bring peace. This will not end the conflict. Your government has simply destroyed life and success, and the end result will be status quo. More death, more lies, and no peace. I pray you've made the right choice, but I firmly believe you have not.

May God comfort my brothers & sisters, and may he bring an end to our strife speedily.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Busy day. Oral History interview at 11, and the rest of the day spent going over the transcript of one of the earlier interviews. I spent a bit of time on some footnotes to the transcript - subjects sometimes drop names and organizations as if everybody knows what they are, when a lot of us have no idea who they're talking about. It makes for some interesting research.

Anyway, that's one transcript down, and there'll be three more from the interviews we've done over the last week shortly. Nice to be busy, but...

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Peter Jennings

The world is very sad about this one, but I'm not actually losing a ton of sleep over his death. I did not by any stretch wish him dead, or even ill. I'm not convinced, however, that we've lost the greatest newsman since Edward R. Murrow, or that his death irreparably lessens the world.

I used to watch Jennings regularly maybe 10 years ago or more. I was not the conservative I am now, and I don't think I was looking for liberal (or any other) media bias. My political philosophy has changed, and an incident reported to me by a friend ended my affection for Jennings. I found out from him as well that Jennings was married at one point to a Palestinian woman, which I think suggests why he might have behaved as he did. I don't care that he was married to her, or that he personally may have chosen to support the Palestinian side of the argument, but (again, according to this friend) it seems to have impacted his journalism.

Jennings did a report on Jerusalem perhaps 8-9 years ago. During the filming, my friend reported, Jennings was on his way through the Old City and heard a great deal of noise coming from the Western Wall area. What it turned out to be was Jews celebrating the holiday of Simchat Torah, when we acknowledge the completion of the yearly cycle of reading the Torah. This friend found himself near Jennings, and invited him to come down and take a look at the dancing & singing. Which the intrepid reporter refused to do, instead reporting there was some kind of "Jewish riot" going on.

Now, I admit I got this story secondhand, but this particular friend is a pretty dependable source. I can't see why he would make up such a convoluted tale, and it plays into what I consider the media's a) inherent bias, and b) its refusal to do the kind of reporting it should do, no matter what the result of that reporting is.

There are plenty of other examples of Jenning's particular liberal bias, and I'll leave it up to others to discuss those. I did not wish him dead, and I'll offer my condolences to his family and friends, but I don't share this particular outpouring of grief.

Save me

from the scheduling fairies. The day started out easy enough. Monthly chat with the boss at 1PM, and that's it. Then the phone call. "We've got an oral history scheduled at 3:30." OK, maybe I'll leave a little late, but that's not so awful once in a while.

"Hi. The 3:30 is now at 1PM." Ummm, OK? Check with the boss' admin - can I sneak at 12:30? "Lemme check."

Downstairs, try & get all the equipment set up by 12, so that I have time to eat a little and make what could still be a 12:30 with the boss. Stuff my face, notice the voicemail light is lit, check it out.

"We're moving the meeting with the boss to 4PM."

Simpler, I suppose, but my head is still spinning a bit. Since the rescheduled boss meeting is still actually today, there's not much to complain about.

Considering that I can go weeks at a time without a single meeting, I don't see why the few I do have end up conflicting with each other.

Monday, August 08, 2005


in honor of aforementioned birthday, we had a child free weekend. Kiddies went off to grandma & grandpa's for shabbos, & Mrs. & I got some well needed rest. We didn't cook anything nice for dinner on Friday, we ate Peanut Butter for lunch, and rested.

I woke up Saturday at 6AM, as I normally do. And then I said "I'm going back to sleep", which I did. I woke up at 7:45, and decided I wasn't ready to get out of bed. So I stayed in until 8:15, got my act together, and still got to services on time instead of my usual 10-15 minutes late.

Napped in the afternoon, finished a very good book on the 92nd Signal Battalion[ed.-Terry, this one may be for you - the main character is from near Birmingham.] Started another book on the Hitler Youth, which is more interesting than I expected, given that one chapter had close to 300 footnotes.

Mrs. went out Saturday night to hang out with a friend she hasn't had time to talk to, and I watched the Holy Grail. Woke up late on Sunday, then headed out to my folks for brunch with my uncle & to pick up the kids. Back home, oldest (who hadn't gone to bed any earlier than 9PM, two hours after normal) fell asleep for a few hours. I made Nacho stuffed shells for my dinner, Mrs. & kiddies made Lasagna, I made ice cream, kids to bed, more reading, bed.

My kind of weekend.

Happy birthday

to me. I live in a tree. I look like...

I'm old. Old old old. Fogeyhood has arrived with my 35th birthday. I am now closer to my AARP card than to my bar mitzvah. My walker is on order, and I have a strange desire to eat dinner at 4 PM.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Aww, fer Pete's sake...

Why am I always it? A certain Possum with too much time on his hands and devilry in his soul decided I needed to be tagged into the game. I've never been in one of these before, so forgive me if I lack a certain meme etiquette. Frankly, I always thought a meme was a Hawaiian bird that the lazy ^%$#@ over at the NY Times crossword puzzle use to fill in a space when they can't think of something more useful.

I didn't ask to be in this, so don't blame me if you don't like the answers.

1. How many books have I owned? Are you SURE you want to ask this question? I know I can't count that high. Multiple thousands to be sure. I probably should have reinforced the floors before the bookshelves went in.

2. The last book I bought was: Well, Mrs. bought Harry Potter 6, so I guess that counts. The last book I recall consciously purchasing was The Man Who Broke Napoleon's Codes about George Scovell, an officer in Wellington's army in the Peninsula. I haven't really started it, but we had credit at B & N and actually went to the store, and I physically picked up the book before buying it. On the to-read list.

3. The last book I finished was: Sharpe's Regiment. I'm re-reading the whole series, and I'm nearly done with Sharpe's Siege. I'm sure a lot of people find the series repetitive & formulaic, but I enjoy them, anyway.

4. What books made an impression on me? What a question. Almost every book I read makes an impression on me (especially the ones I drop on a toe). Certainly the Bible and the Talmud are important, but I don't consider those "books" per se. I remember Ambrose's D-Day as being very notable; RF Delderfield's "To Serve them All My Days" is another favorite read that I can pick up again and again. I don't know if there's a book that changed my life exactly, but certain books mean a lot to me.

Two of David Klinghoffer's books are tremendous (I found one of his books a bit slow) - The Lord Will Gather Me In, about his journey to orthodoxy, and Why the Jews Rejected Jesus, which I've written about elsewhere. The last book I'll add for now is Diane Ravitch's The Language Police, which I highly recommend.

I reserve the right to add or change this list. In the meantime, to keep things alive, I hereby tag...JORDANA!

Nyah nyah nyah nyah.

UPDATE: Ms. Jordana has begged off, claiming (ridiculously) that she's already got one. The recently relocated Yorkie Lady has agreed to pick up for the slacker, so look there for the continuation of our game of tag.

I hate

computers. I hate everything about them. I'd like to take the one I have and smash it with a sledgehammer.

Well, the extra one in my office, anyway. Unused for a year, it is acting wacky, and I actually need the stupid thing for the new intern who'll be here all month.

Where's my slide rule?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


I just noticed I haven't posted in something like two weeks. Duuno why - I think I run hot & cold on the blogging sometimes. I don't have tons to say sometimes, and frankly much of my life is boring.

Unlike some people, I haven't found a good way of making boring stuff sound interesting.

I did note something the other day which is disturbing me a bit. It was a TV ad for this movie. There appears, from the ad, to be some sort of love story inserted into this thing. At the very least (based on the trailer) they seem to have added some guy's wife into the mix.

The problem is, I've read this book on the Raid. The wives never get mentioned, near as I can recall, beyond the kind of mentions of how all the soldiers missed their wives.

This is the stuff that drives me crazy about Hollywood. The story by itself is riveting. Why does it need to be altered? Is there some clause that says you can't have a movie without a female character/love story? From all I've read on WWII - and I've read pretty thoroughly on the subject - combat in WWII is a man's war. Yes there are nurses, support staff, the home front with plenty of female participation. But the fighting is all about the men. I'm sorry if that's not modern sensibility, but unless you're looking at the Soviet troops, there aren't any women involved in combat, and not in most of the rest of war work.

One of these days I'd like to see them do a movie like this without having to muck around with the story. It's unneccesary, and insulting to the men who performed this miracle (much less the courageous men who survived their imprisonment.) I can't stand it when the entertainment industry screws around with history. It's interesting enough on its own, if any of those morons could remember how to tell a story properly.

I may have to skip this one.