January 31, 2005

Lisa's Journey to Israel Part 5

I posted links to the first four installments here.

You can find the link to the fifth right here.

A brief comment. I think that I would find these interesting no matter what. How ever given my near miss with moving to Jerusalem in '95 it is even more compelling to me.

I try not to wonder about what life would have been like had I made the move. I cannot imagine not having my children, but in addition to being a father I am just a man. And the man wonders about the experiences he missed out on. I made my decision and I am comfortable with it, but sometimes there is an ache inside.

Anyway, read the story, it is good reading and quite interesting because it is real and easy to envision yourself in the situations described therein.

I Am Numb, How Can I Not Be

This is going to be another choppy post filled with flotsam and jetsam, just bits and pieces of me and my thoughts as encounter them.

I like being informed, that is, I am a newshound. I like the news. I want to stay abreast of the events of the day. I want to know what is happening where, it is important to me. But there is a price to pay.

There is an overwhelming amount of information to absorb. Hundreds of stories about humanity and inhumanity. There are stories of children who never live to see 10, lives snuffed out by monsters in the dark, and some of those monsters are their parents. Lives shattered and crushed by terrorists, by the ocean, earthquakes and so many other senseless acts.

There are stories of rape, murder and molestation. Victims whose cries for helps were ignored or laughed at. Unimaginable cruelty as wives watch their husbands murdered and children see their mothers raped.

The really sad thing here, the tragic thing is that none of what I have written about is made up. All of them are pieces of stories that I have read or heard about. Horror stories that would make Stephen King cry.

So the question is how does a thinking, feeling person deal with these things. How do you accept a world in which this happens.

Well, I am a little numb to it all. I can be upset and dismayed, but I cannot allow myself to be really upset by it all. It could occupy your entire day.

And at the same time how do you remain positive. Well, there are lots of stories of good. There are hundreds of stories of people doing nice things to help other people. One of my favorite stories is one I read today about Costco employees and their reaction to the recent train crash in Glendale.

"When employees heard the boom, they didn't even hesitate," said Roland Prydz, the store's assistant warehouse manager. "They felt compelled to go out there and do whatever they could to help."

Just after 6 a.m. Wednesday, as a dozen Costco employees unloaded crates and recorded inventory, the ground began to shake. They heard metal ripping, then a thundering crash.

Mark Zavali, a 20-year Costco employee, ran into the warehouse's backyard. He saw mangled trains, blood and fire. Zavali yelled to his fellow workers: "There's been an accident."

Minutes later, the Costco early shift crew ran a few hundred yards toward the wreckage, carrying fire extinguishers taken off the store's shelves.

"Everyone just worked together, and no one seemed to have to tell anyone what to do," Jenny Doll, 10-year Costco employee, said in an interview on Sunday, adding, "I am so proud I work at this warehouse."

And

"Firefighters and other trained rescue workers arrived within about 15 minutes.

But the Costco staff kept working.

More than 120 other Costco employees pitched in throughout the day. They brought muffins, coffee and water to rescue crews. They built canopies with tarps. They wheeled the injured on flat carts. They cooked 350 pizzas and 350 hot dogs for workers. They guided victims and rescuers to restrooms. They found shoes, pants and shirts for victims with ripped and bloody clothes.

The cost of food and supplies came to $10,000 for Costco, but money was not an issue, said manager Dennis Davenport, who helped organize his employees that day.

"It never crossed out minds how much we were giving or what the price was," he said. "You can't put a price on life." (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-costco31jan31,1,6246621.story?coll=la-headlines-california)

There are a lot of good stories of happy, life affirming events, you just have to keep your eyes open for them.

Child Killers Walk Free in Washington

Stories like this make me physically ill. I once came across a man who was being overly aggressive with his son in a supermarket. He slapped him hard enough that the boy fell on the ground and was preparing to hit him again when I intervened.

I don't like the idea of stepping in. You don't always know the full story of what is happening at home, but I was infuriated when I saw this.

It is one thing to swat a child on the rear, but to slap them across the face with enough force to knock them down is just wrong.

Before the man could hit the boy again I got his attention and suggested that he take a deep breath. He was angry and told me to "fuck off." I offered to remove his arm from his shoulder and then hold him down while his son whacked him with it and he thought better of it.

From time to time I have wondered about that boy, wondered if it was a one time aberration in behavior or something more.

All I know is that this mistreatment of children makes my blood boil.

Wacky Commercials

Watched the beer commercial called "Frustrating" it made me chuckle. For more time wasters try Stupid Videos.

The People In Your Neighborhood

I found this little ditty courtesy of Mighty Girl.

"These are the people in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood........"

The '60s are over

this is an audio post - click to play

Slifkin Ban

Inquiring minds want to know why I haven't blogged about Slifkin. I could recite the tale of my time at the crater in Israel in which I made waves with the Charedi children about how old the Earth really is.

The real answer is that plenty of others have remarked about this. I think there is room for science and faith and there are options for explaining things that incorporate both.

More to the point, there are too many scientific proofs for me to accept stories of the world being less than 6k years old. I don't believe in ignorance and this ban pushes it as being an acceptable practice.

It is part and parcel of my argument that we need to be a part of the world, not separate. Once we were forced to live in ghettos, we shouldn't do so again, self-imposed or otherwise.

Lifetime Achievement Awards- Shouldn't you be Older to Win One

Something just doesn't seem right. There should be a rule requiring more TOS, time of service for this.

What are Your Favorite Blogs?

From the mailbag:

Dear Jack,

I really enjoy reading your blog. I find your thoughts to be anything but random and enjoy your comments on life. You seem to have a good sense of humor and I am curious to learn if you have any favorite blogs and how do you get so many people to link to you.

Thanks,

Steve

Dear Steve,

I do have a number of favorites. Some I find to be very funny, some I find to be consistently intriguing because they stimulate me intellectually or have similar interests. I don't have enough time to really go through the blogosphere the way I want to, so there are probably some other blogs that I would really enjoy.

Here are some of my current favorites Rishon Rishon
,Treppenwitz, The Shmata Queen, Bloghead and The Monkey Cage.

As for generating more links to your blog there are a couple basic ways to make that happen. The first is to continually produce excellent content. It can be niche, it can be general, it can be news, special interest or humor, but it must be excellent or as close to it as possible. People want to link to things that are of interest to them, so the definition of excellent is subjective.

Another way to generate links is to ask people to link or blogroll you. I ignore about a third of the requests that come in as I like to be more judicious in who I am connected to. Not to mention I try not to blogroll anyone that I do not read semi-regularly.

The other thing that you must do is get out there and get noticed. If you truly want to be linked you must market your blog.

Hope this helps,

Jack

Study: Smoking Harms Women More Than Men

" AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Cigarette smoking is more harmful to women than to men, cutting more than a decade off female smokers' life expectancy but much less for their male peers, Dutch government research suggested Monday."

Not to mention how unattractive it is.

U.S. students say press freedoms go too far

I found this article to be troubling, especially this:

"The survey of 112,003 students finds that 36% believe newspapers should get "government approval" of stories before publishing; "

Aren't they learning anything. Have they heard of Peter Zenger, do they know the history of prior restraint and the problems it can cause.

A Comment about Comments

Hi folks,

I wanted to comment on the comments here because I was asked via email if I read all of the comments. The answer is yes, I do. I may not always respond, but I will read all of them.

January 30, 2005

Arrested Development, Clint Eastwood & Humphrey Bogart

Just another dose of assorted random thoughts about this and that. Arrested Development has become one of my favorite television shows. It is quirky and well written and the characters are fun. Most importantly it makes me laugh and one of Jack's most important rules is to laugh long and laugh hard.

Laughter is a tool that can be used for healing. Sometimes you can laugh so hard that it seems that you are expelling sheer madness from your soul, but there is something so right in the healing properties of laughter.

Many years ago when I was in my early 20s I grew upset and punched a hole in the wall. I hit it hard enough that my right arm went most of the way through it. If you looked at the wall it was as if it had swallowed my forearm and most of my elbow.

I started to laugh, shocked at how far my arm had gone in, amused and pleasantly surprised at my own strength. It was one of those moments that I realized that the long hours at the gym had paid off. On the other hand I began to wonder how to pay for the damage. Moments later it became apparent that I was going to have to use my left arm to destroy more of the wall to free my right arm. It was quite a night.

Two weeks later I was wrestling with another fraternity brother. He was 6'5 270 pounds and I was a mere 5'10 195 pounds. I managed to pull his legs out from under him and took him down. I was very strong for my size and could bench press more than 300 pounds, but he taught me a lesson that day, big truck versus little truck.

As we rolled around he managed to get his arms around me and lift me off of the ground. Before I could do anything I was airborne. I sailed through the air and went straight through the folding closet doors that stood next to the hole in the wall I had created but not yet repaired.

Because I am stubborn I jumped back up and ran back out. A moment later my body was slammed back into the hole that I had created, it was far larger than it had been and the closet doors had been added to the list of damage. I picked myself up again and this time jumped on his back. I locked my arms around him and began to squeeze as he slammed me into the wall again and again.

At some point we just gave up. It had all been in good fun and I think that he realized that unless he really hurt me I was not going to give in. Thankfully he demonstrated more common sense than I did, but if you ask me to tell the tale during daylight hours I just may tell you how I forced him to give in.

Clint Eastwood and Humphrey Bogart are two of my favorite actors. Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, The African Queen, The Good The Bad & The Ugly, Dirty Harry, Unforgiven, Any Which Way You Can- I loved these films.

Eastwood and Bogart were cool and tough. They didn't always come out on top. Their characters were often flawed, men who had been around the block, but who had tenacity and talent. There was something about them that I just loved. Not to mention some of the best quotes:

Casablanca
Rick: Don't you sometimes wonder if it's worth all this? I mean what you're fighting for.
Victor Laszlo: You might as well question why we breathe. If we stop breathing, we'll die. If we stop fighting our enemies, the world will die.
Rick: Well, what of it? It'll be out of its misery.
Victor Laszlo: You know how you sound, Mr. Blaine? Like a man who's trying to convince himself of something he doesn't believe in his heart.

Captain Renault: What in heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Captain Renault: The waters? What waters? We're in the desert.
Rick: I was misinformed.

Rick: Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.

Rick: Last night we said a great many things. You said I was to do the thinking for both of us. Well, I've done a lot of it since then, and it all adds up to one thing: you're getting on that plane with Victor where you belong.
Ilsa: But, Richard, no, I... I...
Rick: Now, you've got to listen to me! You have any idea what you'd have to look forward to if you stayed here? Nine chances out of ten, we'd both wind up in a concentration camp. Isn't that true, Louie?
Capta
n Renault: I'm afraid Major Strasser would insist.
Ilsa: You're saying this only to make me go.
Rick: I'm saying it because it's true. Inside of us, we both know you belong with Victor. You're part of his work, the thing that keeps him going. If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with him, you'll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.
Ilsa: But what about us?
Rick: We'll always have Paris. We didn't have, we, we lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.
Ilsa: When I said I would never leave you.
Rick: And you never will. But I've got a job to do, too. Where I'm going, you can't follow. What I've got to do, you can't be any part of. Ilsa, I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that. Now, now... Here's looking at you kid.

Dirty Harry
Clint Eastwood (Harry Callahan): I know what you're thinking. Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I've kinda lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?

Clint Eastwood (Harry Callahan): Well, when an adult male is chasing a female with intent to commit rape, I shoot the bastard. That's my policy.
John Vernon (The Mayor): Intent? How did you establish that?
Clint Eastwood (Harry Callahan): : When a man is chasing a woman through an alley with a butcher's knife and a hard-on, I figure he isn't out collecting for the Red Cross!

Classic, I just love it.

Structure

this is an audio post - click to play

Iraqis Rock the Vote- And the Bush Was Not Consumed

Preliminary reports make this appear to have been quite successful. Too early to say with any certainty, but at this juncture I am feeling optimistic.

Wonder if anyone will give Dubya any credit. Best guess is that his critics will say that it is far too early to offer any sort of support.

More on this later.

Will You Fight For Your Beliefs?

this is an audio post - click to play

January 29, 2005

The Future of Judaism

Daniel Pipes wrote an interesting column in which he discusses the future of Judaism. His opening paragraph reminded me of the "pitch" that many of my BT and FFB friends have made to me.

"Until the 18th century, there was basically only one kind of Judaism, that which is now called Orthodox. It meant living by the religion's 613 laws, and doing so suffused Jews' lives with their faith. Then, starting with the thinker Baruch Spinoza (1632-77) and moving briskly during the Haskala, or "enlightenment," from the late 18th century, Jews developed a wide variety of alternate interpretations of their religion, most of which diminished the role of faith in their lives and led to a concomitant reduction in Jewish affiliation."

The underlying suggestion is that we were always one people and it wasn't until somewhat recent times that things really changed. But that is at best questionable and not entirely accurate. There have always been divisions and groups within Judaism that debated how we observe things.

Pipes goes on to discuss how there has been a resurgence in the number of Orthodox Jews and how due to things like assimilation the percentage of Orthodox Jews relative to others is growing.

"
Should this trend continue, it is conceivable that the ratio will return to roughly where it was two centuries ago, with the Orthodox again constituting the great majority of Jews. Were that to happen, the non-Orthodox phenomenon could seem in retrospect merely an episode, an interesting, eventful, consequential, and yet doomed search for alternatives, suggesting that living by the law may be essential for maintaining a Jewish identity over the long term."

I am not convinced that this is real likely. I don't have any scientific data to provide or scholarly works, just the tried and true "Jack's Gut intuition" which says that Orthodoxy is attractive to more people during times of unrest and less so during more stable times. Right now things are kind of hairy, in a few years that may change.

I recognize that this does not deal with assimilation, but it is fair to say that there are efforts being made within the various denominations to combat this. In the end not everyone wants to be give up their Saturday ball game and or cheeseburgers.

It is however an interesting thought to ponder.
this is an audio post - click to play

My Son is Fascinated by This

We stumbled across this video and he is just entranced. The music is kind of catchy.

Click here

January 28, 2005

Junk, it is Just Junk

Wrote a scathing rant about how dumb some of the crap out there is. Looked at it and realized that the crap I read didn't deserve that much space, that much time and I deleted it all.

We need to re-learn our work ethic. Instant gratification is killing it. Put the time in, grow and allow yourself to live.

Take life by the balls and live. Make it what you want it to be and stop just allowing life to live you. You should be living life.

Friday Night Fun

This evening my son and I put on our own "Muppet Show" production using his Muppets. Strange how he instinctively knew that it was appropriate for Miss Piggy to beat up other Muppets. More strange to realize that the memories I have of the show are from the 70's.

We ended the evening with our rendition of Where the Wild Things are By Maurice Sendak. It was complete with our own wild Rumpus and then he lay down and I blessed him again and watched him sleep his face without worry and his body completely relaxed and I knew that I for at least one more night I had done my job and I smiled.

I could Have Been a Contendah

this is an audio post - click to play

Hannah Senesh

Hannah Senesh is someone that I learned about many years ago. I'd like to say that she caught my eye then and maybe she did, but I don't really remember. I was probably around 7 or 8 as I seem to remember it being discussed in class as part of our discussion about Begin and Sadat.

I was too young to really understand what they were getting at, but now I remember things differently. My teachers discussed peace with Egypt and how historic a moment it was. They talked about Judea and Samaria and that maybe we would see a meeting with King Hussein to discuss giving the West Bank to Jordan. It is only as an adult that I see the politics of my teachers as the one discussed it in terms of the West Bank and the other spoke fondly of riding his motorcycle through Judea and Samaria.

What I do remember for certain was being surprised to hear that a girl had fought during the war, but Hannah Senesh belonged to my grandparent's era and that seemed a million miles away so I must have filed the information. Or so I think, it is almost 30 years ago and some memories grow more faint.

What I do know is that I enjoyed reading what Rishon Rishon said about her as well as Imshin.

You don't have to be Jewish to appreciate her words or her bravery. She was worth remembering.

Is Hell Endothermic or Exothermic?

A thermodynamics professor wrote a take home exam for his graduate students. It had one question: "Is hell exothermic or endothermic? Support your answer with proof."

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following:

"First, we postulate that if souls exist, then they must have some mass. If they do, then a mole of souls can also have a mass. So, at what rate are souls moving into hell and at what rate are souls leaving? I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for souls entering hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Some of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to hell. Since there are more than one of these religions and people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all people and all souls go to hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in hell to increase exponentially.

Now, we look at the rate of change in volume in hell. Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in hell to stay the same, the ratio of the mass of souls and volume needs to stay constant.

1. So, if hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter hell, then the temperature and pressure in hell will increase until all hell breaks loose.

2. Of course, if hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in hell, than the temperature and pressure will drop until hell freezes over.

So which is it? If we accept the postulate given me by Therese Banyan during our freshman year, and take into account the fact that I still have not succeeded in having sexual relations with her, then # 2 cannot be true, and hell is exothermic."

Lisa's Journey to Israel

Lisa doesn't know me and has no idea that I have been reading her story of how she came to live in Israel, but I found it to be very interestings.

It has multiple parts and can be found at

Part one

Part two

Part three

Part four

It is worth reading.

January 27, 2005

The Mechitzah

Barefoot Jewess wrote a post about how the mechitza can add a little sexiness to davening. Ok, I am taking her thoughts and running with them, not necessarily in the direction that she intended, so I'll thank her for the inspiration and push on.

For those of you who are not in the know the mechitza is a separation between the men and womens sections in the synagogue. It is not found in every synagogue and typically is not located in any that are not what would be termed Orthodox.

Davening is something that is very hard for me. It is a strange paradox to me, a real contradiction. I have no doubt that there is a G-d and no doubt that G-d hears my prayers, but he/she/it certainly feels no obligation to answer them. And that is ok with me, it really is, the work is good.

But for whatever reason I have always found it challenging to daven. If I am going to do it, I prefer to be part of a community and almost always prefer to do it on a mountaintop or some other outdoorsy natural scene. Nature just helps me feel that connection.

It is no secret that I find women intriguing. I always have, there are so many different things about women that catch my eye. Add in my natural interest in people watching and you have a man who is easily distracted. So in some ways davening with a mechitzah is very useful, it helps me to stay a little more grounded, sometimes.

Sometimes it is worse knowing that it is there. It is like there is forbidden fruit (sorry ladies, I am not trying to be disrespectful) and I cannot help but try and look. Actually I find that long skirts often have the same effect on me. I try to be subtle as I stare to try and get a sense of what her legs look like. Interesting, just so interesting to me.

About 13 years or so ago I had a dream. I was back in Jerusalem. It was Friday night and I was at the Kotel and the place was packed. I was pressed up against the stone fervently praying, speaking to G-d in the most intimate way I could. If I close my eyes I can still see it. There are men in black all around me, bodies moving, a hum in the air from the singing, an energy that was electric. And then I am dancing, were moving in a circle with reckless abandon we have all given ourselves over, the dance is a prayer and an offering, it is almost overwhelming.

And then suddenly the plaza is almost empty and I realize that standing on my right there is a woman, she is holding my hand and I am filled with an incredible sense of peace and love. I turn to look at her, the love bursting from within and I wake up, the mechitza between sleep and wakefulness has prevented me from seeing her face.

The Apprentice

The Apprentice has become part of my television routine. As it is I watch too much: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Sopranos, Lost, Arrested Development, Las Vegas and sporting events are all part of the staple diet of television here at the shack.

I started watching The Apprentice because I wanted to see what I could learn from it. Trump is pretentious, bombastic and in dire need of a new hairstyle, but he is a solid businessman. He didn't become a billionaire because he is lucky. And the candidates on the show are not solely a bunch of pretty faces or colorful characters. They are all successful in their own right.

One of the reasons that I have had success in my career is that I have been willing to subjugate my ego and learn from others. There is little reason to reinvent or rebuild the wheel just for the sake of proving that you can do it. This is true in all areas, but especially in my current career as professional salesman.

I always look for the best salespeople and watch how they do business. What do they do to prepare, how do they make their pitch, what kind of follow up have they develop etc. I compile my own case study on them and then incorporate the elements that they use into my routine. I am a sponge and I will shamelessly copy them.

Inevitably I still maintain my own distinct style and approach, but you could say that in truth it is a compilation of many people. But this still fits in with my philosophy of constantly trying to improve myself and my desire to continually learn.

Life is a journey, enjoy the ride.

Kids are Fun

Just finished read the Shmata Queen's latest and it made me smile. Children are fun, aren't they.

New Radio Show

this is an audio post - click to play

Interrogation Tactics

On a couple of occasions I have written about how we are conducting interrrogations and what the boundaries should or should not be. Here is a new article about some of the tactics at Gitmo.

"SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -
Female interrogators tried to break Muslim detainees at the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay by sexual touching, wearing a miniskirt and thong underwear and in one case smearing a Saudi man's face with fake menstrual blood, according to an insider's written account."

Without details it sounds relatively tame, but there is more:

"A draft manuscript obtained by The Associated Press is classified as secret pending a Pentagon (news - web sites) review for a planned book that details ways the U.S. military used women as part of tougher physical and psychological interrogation tactics to get terror suspects to talk."

Not that it matters, but I suspect that many people would be surprised to read that women are being included in these efforts.

A former soldier corroborated the authenticity of part of the draft that the AP received.
Army Sgt. Erik R. Saar, 29 who is neither Muslim nor of Arab descent, worked as an Arabic translator at the U.S. camp in eastern Cuba from December 2002 to June 2003.

"Saar said he witnessed about 20 interrogations and about three months after his arrival at the remote U.S. base he started noticing "disturbing" practices.

One female civilian contractor used a special outfit that included a miniskirt, thong underwear and a bra during late-night interrogations with prisoners, mostly Muslim men who consider it taboo to have close contact with women who aren't their wives.

Beginning in April 2003, "there hung a short skirt and thong underwear on the hook on the back of the door" of one interrogation team's office, he writes. "Later I learned that this outfit was used for interrogations by one of the female civilian contractors ... on a team which conducted interrogations in the middle of the night on Saudi men who were refusing to talk."

Some Guantanamo prisoners who have been released say they were tormented by "prostitutes."

In another case, Saar describes a female military interrogator questioning an uncooperative 21-year-old Saudi detainee who allegedly had taken flying lessons in Arizona before the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Suspected Sept. 11 hijacker Hani Hanjour received pilot instruction for three months in 1996 and in December 1997 at a flight school in Scottsdale, Ariz.

"His female interrogator decided that she needed to turn up the heat," Saar writes, saying she repeatedly asked the detainee who had sent him to Arizona, telling him he could "cooperate" or "have no hope whatsoever of ever leaving this place or talking to a lawyer.'"

The man closed his eyes and began to pray, Saar writes.

The female interrogator wanted to "break him," Saar adds, describing how she removed her uniform top to expose a tight-fitting T-shirt and began taunting the detainee, touching her breasts, rubbing them against the prisoner's back and commenting on his apparent erection.

The detainee looked up and spat in her face, the manuscript recounts.

The interrogator left the room to ask a Muslim linguist how she could break the prisoner's reliance on God. The linguist told her to tell the detainee that she was menstruating, touch him, then make sure to turn off the water in his cell so he couldn't wash.

Strict interpretation of Islamic law forbids physical contact with women other than a man's wife or family, and with any menstruating women, who are considered unclean.

"The concept was to make the detainee feel that after talking to her he was unclean and was unable to go before his God in prayer and gain strength," says the draft, stamped "Secret."



The interrogator used ink from a red pen to fool the detainee, Saar writes.

"She then started to place her hands in her pants as she walked behind the detainee," he says. "As she circled around him he could see that she was taking her hand out of her pants. When it became visible the detainee saw what appeared to be red blood on her hand. She said, 'Who sent you to Arizona?' He then glared at her with a piercing look of hatred.

"She then wiped the red ink on his face. He shouted at the top of his lungs, spat at her and lunged forward" — so fiercely that he broke loose from one ankle shackle.

"He began to cry like a baby," the draft says, noting the interrogator left saying, "Have a fun night in your cell without any water to clean yourself."

So I am at a bit of a crossroads here. I am not against trying to break these men. If they can provide us with information that will save lives it might be worth it. I say might because there are some lines that cannot be crossed without consequences. And we cannot always project what those consequences might be.

What happens to the person conducting the "session?" What impact does this have on their own humanity. What happens if we make a mistake? Once we open Pandora's box we are in the thick of it, there is no going back.

But if we miss out on the opportunity to save lives, what then. How much is a person worth? A father, a mother, a sister or a brother.

If we could have prevented 911 by torturing someone for information would it have been worth it?

The Kabbalah Center Promised that I would Win

The Kabbalah Center Promised that I would win an award if I made a donation. I told them to peddle that nonsense somewhere else and then just to spite them I went to the yarn store and purchased my own red string.

I am selling the bracelets for only a nickel. Here is how I get around the overhead. You pay for shipping, you tie the bracelet and you say your own bracha. Pretty cool stuff.

Try it, you'll like it. If this works I am going to start my Jack's Shack holy water and donuts program.

The Secret of the Venus Flytrap

This is not from the book of Kama Sutra and it has nothing to do with WKRP in Cincinnati. Just some interesting information about the plant.

"PARIS (AFP) - American and French scientists believed they have explained how one of nature's marvels, the Venus flytrap, snaps shut to snare its victims.

The plant -- described by Charles Darwin as "one of the most wonderful in the world" -- is able to enclose a fly within its clamshell-shaped leaves in just 100 milliseconds, faster than the eye can blink.

Scientists have long wondered how the flytrap (Latin name Dionaea muscipula) is able to do this spectacular feat, given that it does not have the nerves and muscles of fast-moving animals.

The answer, according to a study published on Thursday, is tensile strength.

The plant first bends back its rubbery leaves so that they are convex-shaped, rather like half a tennis ball that has been flipped inside-out.

To close the trap, the plant releases the tensed-up energy.

The leaves instantly flip from convex to concave -- as if the half tennis ball has suddenly popped back to its normal shape. Their edges snap together and the insect is trapped within.

"Closure is characterized by the slow storage of elastic energy followed by its release," say the authors, led by Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan, an Indian-born professor of applied mathematics and evolutionary biology at Harvard University.

The researchers were able to model the change in geometry by putting microscopic dots of ultraviolet fluorescent paint on the external surface of the leaves.

They then filmed the closure under ultraviolet light, using a high-speed video at 400 frames per second, which showed the leaves' sudden shift from convex to concave when the trap closed.

Previous work has already established that the flytrap lures the insect with a smell exuded from the inner surface of the leaf. When the fly walks on the surface, this activates a hair trigger and causes closure.

Still to be explained is the phase in between -- exactly how the signal is transmitted from the hair trigger to the closure mechanism in such an astonishingly fast time.

The study appears in Nature, the weekly British science journal."

Study: If it's unfair, chimps will forgive a friend

"LONDON (Reuters) -- Chimpanzees have a sense of fair play but how much they will tolerate depends on who they are dealing with, according to scientists.

They will put up with being short-changed if they are friends or family of the animal getting the better deal, but won't allow any monkey business if it's a stranger."

I thought that this was very interesting and very cool.

Huge Pacific Wave Damages Student Vessel

"ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A 50-foot Pacific wave temporarily disabled a "Semester at Sea" ship filled with hundreds of college students Wednesday, injuring two crew members as it broke windows and damaged the vessel's controls, the Coast Guard said.

Coast Guard vessels and aircraft from Alaska and Hawaii were dispatched to help the 591-foot Explorer, about 650 miles south of the Aleutian Islands and about 1,600 miles from Honolulu."

A 591-foot ship got smacked with a 50-foot wave. Wow. Nature continues to show us how tiny and insignificant we can be.

The Life I Could have Had

There are many people who struggle to find themselves. I would argue that most do. It is a topic that I feel like I am intimately acquainted with and something that many people blog about. One of my semi-regular stops is over at Shtreimel's Place.

Shtreimel is a man caught in a quandary about his place in the world. And as I said before I think that is a common theme and one of the reasons that blogs hold so much interest to people. We seek answers and we seek people who share common experiences and challenges.

Today I wrote Shtreimel
briefly about my past.
I was once in love with a woman who became a BT. I remain convinced to this day that if I had done the same, if I had chosen to become religious too that she would have agreed to marry me.

I didn't go down that path because I do not believe in making radical changes overnight. Personal change should be a process, a journey that you undertake. It should not be something that is done without careful thought or consideration. There are many risks that are involved in change but you must weigh your steps and measure the risk. You have to identify what risks you are willing to undertake and those that you are not willing to.


Life is a risk and as such you should not avoid them, but there is no sense in jumping into the flames to determine if the fire is hot. Life is a journey that you begin at birth, it never ends.

And no journey is without it's shar e of challenges and that is ok and to be expected. A little adversity is good for building character and growth. Everyone should challenge themselves and try to extend their boundaries a little bit.

I haven't any regrets about the life that I chose not to undertake. It wasn't the right path for me. I may still become BT one day, or I may not. But I am going to take those steps on my schedule. Some journeys coincide with those of someone else and sometimes the paths diverge. The trick is to pay atttention to your own path and those of your loved ones so that you can focus on taking the trip together.

World Leaders Mark Auschwitz Liberation

"BRZEZINKA, Poland - As candles flickered in the snowy, winter gloom, world leaders and Auschwitz survivors Thursday remembered victims of the Holocaust on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp."

The sad thing to me is that we still haven't learned our lesson.

January 26, 2005

Indecency Fines

" WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fines of up to $500,000 per violation for indecent material aired on broadcast television and radio were unveiled by a top U.S. House of Representatives lawmaker on Tuesday, renewing a campaign to clean up broadcasting that failed last year.

Lawmakers and Federal Communications Commission (news - web sites) officials, both Democrats and Republicans, have been seeking the higher fines as a way to deter broadcasters after a rash of incidents, including nudity and profanity on television.

Rep. Fred Upton (news, bio, voting record), chairman of the House Commerce subcommittee that has jurisdiction over the issue, unveiled on Tuesday a bill to raise fines on broadcasters and entertainers to as much as $500,000 per violation.

It would also require the FCC (news - web sites) to consider revoking a station's license after three violations.

Meanwhile, Sen. Sam Brownback (news, bio, voting record), a Kansas Republican, plans to introduce a measure on Wednesday to boost fines to as much as $325,000 per violation and a $3 million maximum for continuing violations, according to spokesman Aaron Groote."

I am always reassured by our government. We are at war, fighting terrorists, bad guys and the assholes who show naked breasts, blow jobs, anal sex, hard core fucking, gang bangs and those nasty schmucks who have the temerity to say shit, piss, cock, fuck, blah, blah, blah. My apologies to George Carlin.

And to anyone who I may have offended I offer this suggestion. Change the channel, turn off the radio/television, tune out. Be an adult. Why not worry about improving the education of our children. How about working on providing more affordable healthcare for the nation or engage in some other activity that is not such a clear example of mental masturbation.

This type of legislation is just offensive. Instead of teaching responsibility, instead of teaching accountability we legislate morality. Fight the taliban outside of the US while our inner Taliban sets up shop.

Music, Music, Music

Long time readers (now that sounds funny, this is less than a year old) know that I am wont to post song lyrics or lists of what I have been listening to. This should help to explain the prior two posts.

I also spent time tonight listening to John Lee Hooker and Big Mama Thornton, but it didn't make sense to me to post the lyrics to those songs.

Within the last thirty minutes the following tunes have been on my stereo:

Rebel Yell- Billy Idol
Get It Started- Black Eyed Peas
Pictures of You- The Cure
I Will Find You- Clannad
Viva Las Vegas- Elvis Presley
Without Me- Eminem
This Is Radio Clash- The Clash
I Want to Be Sedated- The Ramones
Los Angeles- X
Lean on Me- Bill Withers
Time in a Bottle- Jim Croce
Real Wild Child- Iggy Pop

What would I do without music. Scream, beat the walls and torture the neighbors with my own singing. ;)

I Want To Break Free

I want to break free

I want to break free
I want to break free from your lies
You're so self satisfied I don't need you
I've got to break free
God knows God knows I want to break free

I've fallen in love
I've fallen in love for the first time
And this time I know it's for real
I've fallen in love yeah
God knows God knows I've fallen in love

It's strange but it's true
I can't get over the way you love me like you do
But I have to be sure
When I walk out that door
Oh how I want to be free baby
Oh how I want to be free
Oh how I want to break free

But life still goes on
I can't get used to living without living without
Living without you by my side
I don't want to live alone hey
God knows got to make it on my own
So baby can't you see
I've got to break free

I've got to break free
I want to break free yeah

I want I want I want I want to break free....

ALL I WANT IS YOU

You say you want
Diamonds on a ring of gold
You say you want
Your story to remain untold

But all the promises we make
From the cradle to the grave
When all I want is you

You say you’ll give me
A highway with no one on it
Treasure just to look upon it
All the riches in the night

You say you’ll give me
Eyes in a moon of blindness
A river in a time of dryness
A harbour in the tempest
But all the promises we make
From the cradle to the grave
When all I want is you

You say you want
Your love to work out right
To last with me through the night

You say you want
Diamonds on a ring of gold
Your story to remain untold
Your love not to grow cold

All the promises we break
From the cradle to the grave
When all I want is you

You...all I want is...
You...all I want is...
You...all I want is...
You...

The Burning Anger

Passion, a passion for life. There is a constant fire that burns in my belly. I sometimes think that the source of all my stomach troubles is the fire that burns just beneath the surface of my skin. There is molten lava there, a forge that can be used to create and to destroy.

It sounds goofy and dramatic, but I think in very graphic terms. When I imagine things I almost always visualize my doing them. Call it what you will, a bit Walter Mittyish, but the imagination and the fire are one and the same.

I have spent 35 years teaching myself how to best harness that fire, how to use it to motivate myself, how to use it to push myself that extra step. In athletics it is the fire that made me a teammate that people wanted on their team. If I took the competition seriously you were going to get a fierce competitor. It shows itself now on the basketball court.

I love to rebound, I love the battle. It is a test of wills. Anyone can score, but it takes a warrior to rebound. I love to do the dirty work, to get in there under the basket and take the ball away from everyone else. I revel in hearing other players ask me how I got the ball. I realized a while ago that there is a limited time in which my body will respond. The knight can only mount the charger so many times before his mount and or body fail him.

The time will come when I cannot play the way I love to. I already feel the changes. The day after a game my feet hurt, my back aches and I find bruises on my arms and legs that seemingly have appeared from no where, I haven't any idea how they got there. I used to be able to play this way everyday, then I had to cut it down to four consecutive days a week and then three.

Actually I can still do it four days a week, but responsibilities around the house and with the children prevent me. I am fighting time. One day I may audioblog when I feel the fire, when I belt out a blue streak, when you hear me tell time to go fuck itself with enough venom to kill an ox.

The hard part about this passion is that it is not relegated to one aspect of my persona. I can have an explosive temper, or so people say. They have expressed surprise with the strength and vehemence of it. I like to storm around, throw things, bellow, yell and paw the ground. I am a Taurus what can I say.

The problem lies in people not recognizing the warning signs, misunderstanding that my playful good natured side goes away and the horns come out. And once I am angry with you it takes me some time to calm down.

I have a very thick skin and it takes a lot to get me to this point. When I am this angry I typically try to stay away from people to gain a little perspective so that I can speak calmly because I can verbally eviscerate you. There have been those who have continued to seek my attention, who have ignored my pleas to give me time and they have been skewered.

In truth, the people who usually bring this out in me have been those I love and care about the most because no one else gets in deep enough to get this kind of reaction from me. A good test of my love is to see if I stay angry. If you piss me off like this and I remain angry there is a problem.

But I am rambling and I don't like the path I am on, too much testosterone and not enough reason. Sometimes life is just frustrating and unfair. Today is one of those days I am thankful for my blog, it is a safe way to vent. The blog listens, it doesn't judge me, it allows me to speak without cutting me off and questioning me incessantly. It listens and is a calming presence.

That fire is burning, it is my own internal ner tamid, but that is just part of who I am. Without it I would be more lost than I normally am. Life is just a journey, a train ride of choices, a question of paths to take. I feel silly now, but a little more relaxed, not much but a little, enough that I will be able to sleep tonight and for that I am thankful.

You Should Do More Campaigning

I received the following email:

Dear Jack,

I have been a regular reader of yours for some time now. I really enjoy your posts and have found the interaction between your son and you regarding death to be very touching as well as your normal posts. Until today I had not contacted you because I do not like to comment, not because I don't like your blog but because I don't know what to say.

Today I took a look around and saw that some other blogs are ahead of you in the awards contest. I think that it is really due to their begging for votes and if you campaign like they do you can win. There is nothing wrong with begging for votes, political contests are run this way and I want to see you win.

Please write a post asking people to vote so that you may be among the winnners. I really hope that you do well and look forward to reading more of what you write. Thank you for reading this, I appreciate it.

Sincerely,

Robert Gillman

Dear Bob,

You don't mind if I call you Bob, do you. I appreciate your note and the sentiments and will compromise with you by putting this up. I am not going to ask for any votes and I do not expect to win. Based upon the most recent tally I am way behind, but that is not why I write.

I don't write for you or for anyone but me. This is a selfish endeavor. I do like the comments and the interaction and want that to continue, but the awards will not make a difference in my blogging.

If anything I hope to be exposed to new people and in turn learn from their blogs as they may learn from mine.

Thanks again,

Jack

P.S. What is with Mrs. DovBear and the Red pants.

HOT 97 morning show ridiculed victims

Now this was just idiotic and stupid on their part. But that is the joy of being human, we all have our moments.

I did find something interesting here:

"New York FM radio station WQHT, or HOT 97, repeatedly ran the segment last week on the show, hosted by deejay Tarsha Nicole Jones who uses the on-air name Miss Jones.

Jones and her team were suspended indefinitely, according to publicist Lizzie Grubman, who declined to say whether Jones would feature in another show at a later date."

Did you notice who the publicist was? Lizzie Grubman is the "rich girl" who got into trouble when her temper got the best of her and she had her wild ride which just goes to show you that the public has a short memory.

Now I am not saying that people shouldn't have the opportunity to redeem themselves, but after her incident it does make me laugh that she is handling the public relations.

More on Relationships

The other day I wrote a post about relationships in which I said the following:

"So as I watched and learned and considered everything I decided that there must be at least 100 people in the world that I could be in love with."

Today as I surveyed the blogosphere I came across this post where I read the following:

"Senior year my psychology teacher said that 1 in 96 men are right for you."

Needless to say this made me wonder if I read or heard this at some point in time. I had thought that it was an original thought, or at least I am still relatively certain of that. But now I wonder if someone else is getting the credit for it. Which really takes me back to the post in which I said Why Didn't I think of That which really proves to me that I was right when I said

I Repeat Myself-Or Welcome to the Department of Redundancy Department.

I guess that I should get back to work or find a new hobby.

A Silly High School Story

this is an audio post - click to play

Life is Precious- Live it Well

I met my best friend G on the first day of kindergarten. It was September of 1974. We went to school together until the end of 5th grade at which time our parents opted to have us avoid being bussed to school and we left our elementary school haunts for new digs.

We lived in the same neighborhood so the different schools didn't split us apart, it just meant that we spent less time together. But after school you could find us on our bikes tooling around the neighborhood, watching the Twilight Zone, throwing rocks at the UPS truck, or doing a hundred other things that could and would get us into trouble.

We were reunited in high school where we resumed our habit of eating lunch together. There were very few days in which we didn't eat together. Neither one of us got sick much, so usually if we missed a lunch it was because I was out for one of the Jewish holidays.

After high school we ended up at the same university, but our schedules really did prevent us from getting together on campus as much as we would have liked to. Nonetheless we managed it. And as we made new friends they would ask us how we had managed not to lose touch. It was almost a silly question, G and I will always be friends, I can't remember life without him.

Fast forward a number of years. We are both out of school and G is working for the NASD as a compliance officer. He goes to various brokerages and verifies that all of the transactions taking place are legal.

It is September of 2001. G works and lives in LA, but the job requires that he travel. He is in New York and working in the WTC. I am supposed to be there as well for a trade show, but the stock market has taken a dive and the company is cutting down on expenses so I am not able to go.

911 hits. I watch the news for about 20 minutes before I realize that the last time G and I spoke was while he was still in Manhattan. I can't remember when he is supposed to come home and I start making telephone calls. I am not panicked, but I am nervous.

I finally get a hold of him. He is back in LA and has been for a few days. He had been working at Cantor Fitzgerald and wonders if anyone that he worked with survived the collapse of the towers. I am just thankful that he is ok, we are too young to die.

Fast forward to this morning, January 26th, 2005. I am reading the news when I hear about a train wreck in which there are casualties.

I listen to the report and know that it is the route that he takes to work. It takes me ten minutes to locate him by telephone, but he is ok. It was the train before his. I tell him that I am glad that he is ok, just thankful. And then I tell him that if he scares me like this again I am going to break his legs.

After more than 30 years I am not giving up our friendship, not yet. It is just another reminder that life can change in a heartbeat. Live it well and make sure that those you love know that you love them.

I am stuck in a Funk

Yes, it is true, I am stuck in a funk. I don't know how I fell into this funk. I am not even sure that I could describe the funk for you. If the police asked for a description I would tell them that it was a hazy shade of winter because I haven't the foggiest idea how else to put it.

This happens to Old Jack sometimes, I get taken by these funks the way aliens take farmers out of Cleveland. Sometimes they last a spell and sometimes they last less than a spell. Don't ask me how long a spell is because I can't tell you with any certainty, any more than I can describe said funk.

And if I tell you that something smells funky don't ask what it smells like because I am not sure how to describe that. It is kind of a burnt Hampshireish road type thing.

All I have to say now is bleah.

Valentines Day- It is a Fake Holiday

I just finished speaking with a woman in my office about Valentine's Day. She wanted to know my position on it. Here it is: it is a fake holiday created by Hallmark and other greeting card manufacturers that is guaranteed to cause fights, ill will and will inevitably lead to a break up and or encourage suicide.

As such it should be banished from the lexicon, doomed to spend eternity as some forgotten holiday that is not of use to anyone, anymore.

January 25, 2005

The Shmata Queen Should have been Nominated

Check her out. She is sweet like molasses, but not quite as slow. ;)

Stacey's Shmata

Still trying to figure her fascination with the simian folk.

Faith in G-d

A short while ago I was virtually hanging out with the Shmata Queen. We engaged in a discussion regarding the latest post over at Treppenwitz which discussed the irresponsible behavior of parents who do not use car seats for their babies and the issues surrounding it one of which is the question of faith in G-d.

Dave made a comment about this that resonated with me when he said:

"What I was trying to say is that we can't place all responsibility for our safety in His hands... we have to take prudent measures to safeguard ourselves and our children."

This is an issue that has always bothered me. It is one thing to say that you are going to trust G-d to provide for you and it is another to engage in activities that force the issue.

I have a hard time believing that people can be so stupid. The G-d that I believe in is one that believes in being proactive. That means that you can and should take steps to protect yourselves and your families. You work so that you can provide, shelter, clothing, food, healthcare to protect your family. You don't jump in front of a bus and hope that a mighty hand stops the bus or shields you from harm.

When you do not take the proper measures to protect yourself and your family you are not being noble, you are being selfish. You are trusting society to take care of you. You can try and call this "care" acts of "divine providence" but the reality is that you are asking people to take on a burden that they should not have to.

It is one thing for an accident to happen when you are prepared. Things do happen, it is another when you have done nothing to protect yourself and allow things to happen to you. Be accountable for your actions and be responsible.

He hates the Audioblog, but still listens

this is an audio post - click to play

Cops

this is an audio post - click to play

Auschwitz- A Reporter's Personal Tale

"OSWIECIM, Poland (CNN) -- It looked just as it does in all the photos and films I've seen about Auschwitz. And the winds that blew across the fields, and the dusting of snow that fell the night before made the camp seem even starker than I'd imagined.

Yet nothing could prepare me emotionally as I walked through the main building of Birkenau -- train tracks still passing under the main watchtower and through the "gate of death" -- and entered what has been described as the largest Jewish cemetery in the world and one of the largest cemeteries of any kind, anywhere.

It is here, at Auschwitz II-Birkenau -- the biggest of the camps that comprise Auschwitz -- that the Nazis built their death factory in eerie order and massacred in a matter-of-fact way an estimated 1.1 million to 1.5 million people, most of them Jews of Eastern Europe."

I found this story to be interesting. Sometimes it seems so far away and other days so close.

Hate Mail

Dear Jack,

You are arrogant, dumb, stuped, cocky and a jerk. I hope that you lose just like a looser.

-Me

Dear Me,

Nice to see that you have command of the English language. Now all you need to learn is how to spell. In the interim if you wear your pants a little bit looser you won't feel so stuped.

Love,

Jack

Dear Jack,

I have watched you right people on the board and thik that you fight dirtie.

Eat crap and die

Dear Crap,

I didn't post your entire note because it was too painful. Spellcheck and proof your work. Beyond that this is an adult blog, you can say shit. Like, "wipe the shit-eating grin off of your face you moronic excuse for a person." Was that mean?

Jack,

Does your mother know what comes out of your mouth?

Unsigned

Dear Unsigned,

Yes, my mother does. When I was little I was taught not to spit and to chew with my mouth closed. This can only be because my mother knows what comes out of my mouth.

Love,

Jack.

Dear Jack,

If you were a real man you wouldn't need to carry on the way that you do. Be nice and good things will happen to you.

Sincerely,

Your mother

Dear Mom,

Hah, you came so close to convincing me that it was my mother writing, except she uses my real name. More importantly your typing was too good to be my mother. The real one has beautfiul handwriting but no skills as a typist. Thanks for playing.

Love your eldest child,

Jack B.


Blogger Rant

this is an audio post - click to play

Maybe I am More Interested in the Awards Than I Thought

Ok, time for a confession that comes from a revelation. I realized late last night that I am more interested in winning one of the Jewish/Israel blogging awards then I had thought.

Initially I was a little ambivalent about things, but then I began to get a little caught up in this as did a number of the other nominees. So now that I am part of the flock allow me to say that I would be pleased if I won. I don't expect to because I don't think that I have anywhere near the number of readers that some of the others do, but that is ok.

As I try to do with everything that I do now, I consider what advice I would offer my son in the same situation and here it is. Write because you want to, because you are doing it for yourself and not for anyone else. Put enough effort into it to be proud of your work and regardless of the outcome you can be satisfied with how it all works out.

January 24, 2005

How To Explain Hate to a Child

The title of the post suggests that I have an answer for this. I do not, not yet and maybe never. But I see this coming in the future. It will be a while before we really get into speaking about hate, for now we are talking about what it means to be friends, to like or dislike people.

The day of my son's birthday party there were parties held for two other children at the school who also happen to be his age. Some of the guests had already RSVP'd for the other party, but their mother's told us that they would try and make an appearance.

At this age we are still at a point at which you invite all of the children in the class, regardless of whether your child plays with them or not. It is still a magical time in which we pretend that everyone likes each other and that we are all friends. To a certain extent there is some truth to that, but sometimes this practice bothers me. Not everyone is going to get along, some people will dislike others. And my beautiful baby boy is not going to be friends with everyone, no matter how stupid I think giving up his friendship may be.

So part of me says that by taking this approach we create a problem and that we should be more honest in our approach. And part of me says that honesty will come in time. Prior to the party my son went over the guest list with me. He named everyone in his class and asked if they were coming. When we hit the ones who were not coming he was upset, especially in the case of the few who were going to the party of the boy in the other classroom.

Suddenly he was more aware of his place in the world and a little hurt that his friends might not make it to the party. I felt very badly. It is a lesson that he is going to have to learn and in truth I think that it is ok for him to learn that you do not have to be friends with everybody. It is nice if you can be, but it is ok if you are not. Everyone is different and it is ok not to play with everyone. We are going to hold off on that one for a bit, because it is a little bit too sophisticated for now, but it is coming.

In the interim I had to explain why people go elsewhere. My sister has three children, but they all live back East so he has been the star grandchild and even though he has a little sister, at 6 months he has yet to see the impact from her being here. In other words has very loving grandparents who have been doting on him and sometimes he doesn't quite understand that the world doesn't revolve around him.

So you are likely wondering how and why I became concerned about explaining hate to my son and daughter. There are people who hate us for religious reasons, the antisemites of the world. There are people who hate us for being American, and there are the people that hate us for reasons that cannot be explained,but how can hate be explained anyhow. It is not a rational thing.

I do not believe that we are hated by a majority of people. I am not paranoid, I do not think that everyone is out to get me. Although as a child I did worry about this. My mother tells a story of when I was around 3 or so. I would introduce myself to children and then hit them. It was my own preemptive strike, or so I explained to my mother. I also climbed on the stove, stuffed raisins in my sister's nose and threw eggs. I'll save the stories of what I did after the age of 4 for a different time.

I suppose that there are a few reasons that I think about this. At the gym we sat in the steamroom discussing the War on terror, suicide bombs, Osama, 911 and the move by some Russians to try and ban Jewish groups. Hate was part of every discussion, in large part because you do not want to believe that someone could consciously fly a plane into a building just to make a point. You wanted to say that they hated us so much that their anger blinded them and caused them to lash out in the most terrible way. Because the thought that they engaged in this after rational thought is so much worse.

There are monsters in the world, monsters that look like you and I. I am not real sure how to explain why they are here and I will promise to protect my children from them. If it means dying so that my children will live then I can do that, my life for theirs.

And now I can hear a few of you asking why this seems to have gotten so dramatic. Well, it is because I am a passionate person and the passion inside consumes me. It is a fire that burns white hot, I cannot contain it, I can only direct it. If we are going to have to fight for Tikum Olam, to repair the world then passion is something that can be used as a tool. If we are going to fight hate, well again passion is a tool that can be used.

Hatred may be passionate in it's nature, so there is something fitting in using passion for good. But I really do believe that if we want to make a difference it will require a deep passion for change. It will be part of the engine that motivates change.

If I fail to wake up, if I die in my sleep I want it to be said that Jack was a passionate man who wanted to make things better for his family and those he cared about. Act globally by thinking locally. Improve things around you and watch that improvement touch other lives.

Russian Lawmakers Targets Jewish Groups

"By STEVE GUTTERMAN, Associated Press Writer

MOSCOW - A group of nationalist Russian lawmakers called Monday for a sweeping investigation aimed at outlawing all Jewish organizations and punishing officials who support them, accusing Jews of fomenting ethnic hatred and saying they provoke anti-Semitism.


In a letter dated Jan. 13, about 20 members of the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, asked Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov to investigate their claims and to launch proceedings "on the prohibition in our country of all religious and ethnic Jewish organizations as extremist."

The letter, faxed in part to The Associated Press by the office of lawmaker Alexander Krutov, said, "The negative assessments by Russian patriots of the qualities and actions against non-Jews that are typical of Jews correspond to the truth ... The statements and publications against Jews that have incriminated patriots are self-defense, which is not always stylistically correct but is justified in essence."

The stunning call to ban all Jewish groups raised concerns of persistent anti-Semitism in Russia.

Jewish leaders have praised President Vladimir Putin (news - web sites)'s government for encouraging religious tolerance, but rights groups accuse the authorities of failing to prosecute the perpetrators of anti-Semitic and racial violence.

Russia's chief rabbi, Berel Lazar, said lawmakers were looking for support "by playing the anti-Semitic card."

The prosecutor general's office could not immediately be reached for comment on the letter, which the Interfax news agency said was signed by lawmakers from the nationalist Rodina and Liberal Democratic parties as well as the Communist Party.

Krutov, a Rodina member, is deputy chief of the Duma's Committee on Information Policy.

With Putin planning to join events this week commemorating the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by Soviet troops, Russia's Holocaust Foundation head Alla Gerber said it was "horrible that as we're marking the 60th anniversary of this tragic and great day ... we can speak of the danger of fascism in the countries that defeated fascism."

While the Russian state itself is no longer anti-Semitic, there are "anti-Semitic campaigns that are led by all sorts of organizations," she said.

"The economic situation is ripe for this. An enemy is needed, and the enemy is well-known, traditional," Gerber said.

Echoing anti-Semitic tracts of the Czarist era, the letter's authors accuse Jews of working against the interests of the countries where they live and of monopolizing power worldwide. They say the United States "has become an instrument for achieving the global aims of Judaism."

"It is possible to say that the entire democratic world today is under the monetary and political control of international Judaism, which high-profile bankers are openly proud of," the letter says.

Along with outlawing Jewish organizations, the lawmakers call for the prosecution of "individuals responsible for providing these groups with state and municipal property, privileges and state financing."

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Ancient charges resurface, old grievances are nursed back to life. Somewhere my family members lie restless their slumber interrupted with memories of pogroms and fleeing cossacks.

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