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Showing posts from November, 2004

Thoughts to Consider

Rabbi Judah the Prince said: Which is the proper course that a man should choose for himself? That which is an honor to him and elicits honor from his fellow men. Be as scrupulous about a light precept as of a weighty one, for you do not know the reward allotted for each precept. Balance the loss incurred by the fulfillment of a precept against the gain and the accruing from a transgression against the loss it involves. Reflect on three things and you will never come to sin: Know what is above you --a seeing eye, a hearing ear, and all your deeds recorded in a book Hillel said: Do not separate yourself from the community; and do not trust in yourself until the day of your death. Do not judge your fellow until you are in his place. Do not say something that cannot be understood but will be understood in the end. Say not: When I have time I will study because you may never have the time.

The Silly Fantasy World Continued

I am not sure what sent me down this path, maybe I have read too many books or watched too many movies about this kind of thing. But I have always kind of enjoyed the tales in which the protagonist was pitted against himself. In all of them he/she faced a tough foe. Consider the implications of having to fight yourself. Someone who knows you intimately, knows how you think, what frightens you, is aware of all your weaknesses. It could be a real challenge. Picking up close to where I left off in the prior post, I think that part of why I would win is that I have answers to the biggest questions that the 20 year-old could think of. And not only do I have those answers, I look at those questions as being somewhat silly and naive. I guess where I am going with this post is to mental toughness. Life is about how you act and react to what happens around you. I have had success and I have had failure. The questions we face is how do we cope. And sometimes success means learning

Just a few things

It is roughly a little more than a decade since I officially left my school days behind me and joined the workforce. In that time I have loved and lost, worked, played, slaved and engaged in all sorts of different activities. I had a four year stretch in which I made a very good living, a very good living. It was more money than I had thought that I would ever make and once it started coming it was easy. It was like snapping my fingers and there it was. I was in the right place at the right time and I was good at what I did. And then September 11th hit and the market totally changed and things began a downward spiral. The flood diminished and eventually turned into a trickle. I went back to struggling to pay bills. It wasn't new to me, I had been there before, but now I had a taste of a life in which I didn't live paycheck to paycheck. I had more than enough. I couldn't retire, there was no question that I would have to keep working, but that was ok. As the mone

What is happiness worth to you?

I read a ton of blogs, some more frequently than others. One of the consistent themes across all of our blogs are the cries of pain and frustration about life. And of those there are many people who voice what sounds almost like despair at their situations. Some are angry because they married the wrong man or woman. Some are upset because they are stuck in jobs that are unfulfilling or jobs that could be great but they don't pay enough. So I wonder to myself, what is happiness worth to you? What are you willing to do? Every time I say that I hear Sean Connery's character in The Untouchables yell at Kevin Costner's character, "What are you willing to do?" It is an excellent question. What are you willing to do to make yourself a happier person? What lengths will you travel to be happier and more fulfilled? An even better question is do you know what makes you happy? If you don't know you cannot develop a plan to meet your objective. I am a person

A Quote that Caught My Eye

Thomas Friedman said: "We are losing a public relations war in the Muslim world to people sawing the heads off other Muslims." Are we looking at this war through Western eyes, because you better believe that our opposition is not. Part of what bothers me about things is the feeling that I have. It is of unrest because so many of the descriptions I about the current state are in black and white terms. They range from descriptions of Bush and Company as the biggest blundering fools we have seen to the polar opposite in which Bush and Company are geniuses. So who is handling things, do we have the men of mensa or The Three Stooges.

Netherlands Hospital Euthanizes Babies

"AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - A hospital in the Netherlands — the first nation to permit euthanasia — recently proposed guidelines for mercy killings of terminally ill newborns, and then made a startling revelation: It has already begun carrying out such procedures, which include administering a lethal dose of sedatives." I am torn about this. I believe in euthanasia in adults, but there is something about infants. It is hard for me to think of children this way, it really breaks my heart. "The Groningen Protocol, as the hospital's guidelines have come to be known, would create a legal framework for permitting doctors to actively end the life of newborns deemed to be in similar pain from incurable disease or extreme deformities. The guideline says euthanasia is acceptable when the child's medical team and independent doctors agree the pain cannot be eased and there is no prospect for improvement, and when parents think it's best. Examples

Iran and Nukes- A Bad Idea

In the coming weeks we are going to see more news and more opinions about Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. The most recent comments from the Iranians were full of the usual blather about them having peaceful intentions and their desire to demonstrate their cooperation. "(CNN) -- Iran's top nuclear negotiator said his country's uranium-enrichment program will only be suspended long enough to complete negotiations with Europe, possibly only a few months -- though stressed Iran's intentions were peaceful. "We decided to do this voluntarily to create trust," Hassan Rohani said on Tuesday. "The period of suspension is only for the purpose of carrying out talks with Europe. This period of time should be logical and should not go on forever." Call me crazy, but I am not convinced. I am not convinced that they are halting all work. I am not convinced that they have peaceful intentions

Late Night Thoughts

It was a rough day at the office, but they always are following a holiday. For a while I thought that my desk had a rash, then I realized that the black spots were the places that I had cleared out stacks of paper from. Don't mess with my desk. It is organized, I know where papers are stacked and why they are stacked the way that they are. For that matter, be very careful if you mess with my stuff at home or anywhere else. I am territorial and protective of it, don't know why and don't really care. A man wished me a merry christmas and I wished him a happy Chanukah. He said that he didn't know what I was talking about. I said that it was ok, I didn't know what he was talking about either. Want to bet that he told his wife about the crazy guy he met today. Watched Bugs Bunny with my son today. He really liked it and so did I. But I wonder about something. Have you ever noticed that Elmer Fudd has an endless supply of ammunition. Here is something else that b

Blogger Issues

Sometimes blogger makes me want to scream. I have been trying to add comments to a couple of blogs and it will not let me. I keep getting booted out and asked for my log-in and password information. Yet when I enter it, I get booted out again. I have gotten thrown out of nicer places than this. Hmmph.

Harvard Sucks- This was pretty funny

A number of Yale students have pulled off one of the better pranks I have read about in several years . "The students faked being members of the "Harvard Pep Squad," passing out pieces of paper to the Harvard side of the stadium. These Harvard fans were told that the pieces of paper would join together to spell "GO HARVARD." Little did they know, when held up at just the right moment, the pieces actually spelled "WE SUCK." Click here to see a photo of the prank.

Bin Laden aide vows to continue U.S. fight

"(CNN) -- In a videotape that aired Monday, Osama bin Laden's right-hand man pledged to continue fighting the United States until it changes its policies regarding Muslims. Ayman al-Zawahiri, in tape broadcast by the Arabic-language Al-Jazeera television network, said there are two ways to deal with Muslims -- "either with respect, or as if our lives and property are available for you to invade." How convenient it must be to pretend that you have no role in the conflict, just an innocent bystander. I am not surprised by any of this. I expect to see OBL and crew try and sow more dissension by attacking allies of the US. Followed by the attack will be more offers of peace, provided that said allie agrees to AQ terms. It is a problem that we need to focus upon.

Health Insurance

Health Insurance is a necessity, it is just not something that you go without. It doesn't matter if you are baboon at the Cleveland Zoo, you need it. The problem is that the baboon at the Cleveland Zoo likely has a better plan than you and I. During this past month my wife and I have been evaluating our current health plan versus the company plan. I have yet to take the company plan because it is not cost effective nor efficient, so I pay out of pocket. The problem is that I have been paying almost $600 a month for an HMO. It irritates me to no end that we still haven't figured out how to provide better and more affordable coverage for our citizens. There is no reason that I can see that gives a real explanation for why this is so. And all I see are rising premiums. It is shameful.

It Is More than WMDs

I found a link to an interesting story about the current war in Iraq over at Crossing the Rubicon2 . It is titled WMDs camouflage real reasons behind Iraq invasion and it provides some good food for thought. It is really about a book by George Friedman in which he discusses America's Secret War against AQ and answers some of the questions about why the US did not go after Saudi Arabia for their role in supporting AQ. " From this fortress headquarters, Friedman writes, al-Qa'ida ("the Base" in English) pressed its grand design for an Islamist world federation, a new Caliphate, which would ultimately match, if not dominate, other superpowers. Global terrorism would be the means. Al-Qa'ida's opening moves - attacks on American embassies and other establishments abroad - were aimed, in Friedman's opinion, less at damaging the US than provoking it to a reckless assault on Islam. This, al-Qa'ida believed, would stir the "Islamic street&qu

The Look and Layout of this blog

I am not completely happy with how this blog looks. There are a number of things that just rub me the wrong way. It is not like this is terrible, but it feels choppy and uneven. I suppose that is kind of a good description of me, I am choppy and uneven. But this is not about me. I think that I'd like to have categories for my posts and I'd definitely like to clean up the look a little bit more. It would be nice if all of the posts used the same font, but some of that is to be expected with free software. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful to have this opportunity and think that overall this appears to be a pretty good product, but I know that there are some coding issues that are not as clean as they could be. The bottom line is that I still write for me and for no one else. I find this to be so cathartic. But the rules of the blog ensure that I also admit that I really enjoy the interaction. I like knowing that there are people reading this everyday, even those of

Magnetism, Electricity May Treat Strokes

" They were wrong. Six years after that horrible day at the dock in 1996, Mickey Poduje (pronounced "poh-DOO-yay") entered a Boston laboratory and had a metal device the shape of a figure-8 pressed to her right temple. It sent magnetic pulses into her brain. And the result, published just this year, is that her speech did improve slightly. It's one of a handful of recent experiments in stroke patients that sound like the fantastic promises of an old traveling medicine show. Improving speech by zapping the brain with magnetism? Making weakened limbs work better by putting coils on the head and releasing current so weak it could come from a battery? Those ideas have spurred interest in a handful of laboratories in the United States and abroad. The few preliminary results produced so far are not cures. They are more intriguing than life-changing. But scientists hope that with further refinement, the techniques could provide new tools for treating stroke

Religious Leaders Clash on 'Meet the Press'

This is a New York Times article. If you want to read the whole thing you need to register, otherwise here are a couple of sections and my thoughts. ocusing on the intersection of faith and politics, four religious leaders illustrated in a television appearance today just how passionate and difficult dialogues on such topics can be. The sometimes heated discussion, which focused on abortion and gay marriage, played out on the NBC News program "Meet the Press" with the Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority; the Rev. Al Sharpton, the minister-politician who ran in the Democratic primaries; Jim Wallis, editor-in-chief of Sojourners magazine; and Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Commission. The question of a moral divide has come more sharply into focus since the presidential election earlier this month. In an Election Day poll 22 percent of voters named "moral values" as the issues most imp

My life and My Posts

I write about anything and everything. That includes absolutely everything about my life and the people in it. On some topics I am cautious about how much I say, if it is warranted. Items that warrant my care are posts that are about people who are easily identified and who might be hurt by what I share. Please note that this is subjective. I recognize that I have a fairly thick skin and that what I find to be hurtful and offensive may not be the same as someone else. But it is my blog and my rules, so live with it. I'll do my best not to intentionally offend or hurt most people. That is right, most people. Those that fall outside of my ambiguous definition may find themselves to be targets and who knows what can happen. If you are worried about this I suggest that you stop reading this blog and then there will only be 17 readers a month who might know your secrets. On a side note I was thinking about how many people I know that are divorced and it occurred to me that I co

US Soldiers and Psychological Trauma

As an avid newshound I read multiple accounts of the war and wonder, how are our soldiers handling the mental and emotional damage that we know they are absorbing. Just as their fathers/grandfathers/uncles/cousins had to deal with trauma they suffered in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam these troops are faced with some real challenges. Consider what they face in the field and then consider how they are supposed to reacclimate to life, normal life. I wonder and worry about how effective our mental support teams are at identifying those who need help, as well as trying to ensure that those who need it receive it. And this is under the assumption that those who require aid will not refuse it. The war does not always end when you leave the battlefield.

Visitors to the Blog

Now that John Ashcroft has resigned his position as Attorney Gen. I am pleased to announce that he has been hired to track the traffic to this blog. Twice a week he'll provide a detailed report to me about who is visiting the shack, what they did, who they did it with and how they did it. Details, I need details and I expect that Johnny boy can provide them. So, if you are blogging with a partnet make sure that they are of the opposite sex and that you are both dressed appropriately. I expect in no time at all I am going to learn who found my blog by using the following search terms: Cheese eating surrender monkeys, cleveland school of etiquetter, marshmallow breast fondue, cheese doodle blender shake, Jewish American Jack of notoriety and macadamian anger management. And those are just a few of the highlights.

FBI Finds Link Between 9/11, Madrid Bombs

" The FBI has told Spanish investigators that one of three men believed to have planned the Sept. 11 attacks from Spain in the summer of 2001 also gave the order to carry out the Madrid blasts, the newspaper ABC reported." Just waiting for someone to make the usual justification for the actions of the terrorists. If only we were all nicer, if only this, if only that things would never have happened.

The Lion Versus the Elephant

The National Geographic channel is something that I enjoy watching. Most the shows they air are on topics that I find to be of interest. I especially enjoy the shows on animals. I recently watched a show called Be the Creature . It star the Kratt Brothers who happen to be the hosts of a show that my son watches. It is also about animals but geared for young children. The particular episode that I watched was about a pride of lions and the way in which they hunt elephants. I found this show fascinating. It is hard not to be entranced by the elephant, a creature that size is just amazing to behold. One would think that outside of man there really wouldn't be any other creature that would take it on. In this episode I learned that to be a false assumption. Time after time the 20 or so lions found ways to separate the smaller elephants from the herd and take them down. It was hard to watch the elephant lose, but amazing to see the process. Just fascinating.

Time to Rant, Rave, Resemble, Remark and Reminisce

Ok, it is another Saturday night and I ain't got nobody, nobody awake in the house that is. It makes me kind of happy, even if it is a little lonely. Not that I mind it, sometimes we all need a little solitude to use to gain some perspective about life. At the moment things are not too bad, at least at the shack they are pretty good. I have a few complaints. I am really too tired to think clearly. I am not sure when it hit me, but at some point in the last hour I realized that I am too tired to express myself in the clear and concise fashion I am used to. Ok, it is not often that I am concise, I do have a proclivity to rant and rave at length, but I can be short. Perhaps it is the contradiction of states that confuses friends and relatives who do not know me well. When I don't want to talk, I do not. If there is nothing to say, then I am silent, period. Are you still moaning about the election? Yes, I am talking to you, especially if you are part of the pathetic a

Testing the template

As previously mentioned I am busy learning more about how to more effectively and efficiently engage in coding tricks for this blog. As I run through these I am Trying not to screw up. I am not sure what will happen, but I am definitely of the school of learning through action. Be patient as I am sure that there will be some strange looking occurrences, but I do promise to try and minimize them.

Thank you Ric Knight

Special thanks to Ric Knight for the CSS tips. Go check out his blog at, you'll be glad you did. On a side note, I am busy working on tweaking the blog so it may take some time for things to look "right" but they will get there.

Template Help

Since I switched to Firefox there have been a couple of weird glitches, one is for some reason it appears that the font size has shrunk. I am not sure why, but I am working on it. If you are proficient at coding and want to offer your help it will be gratefully accepted. In the interim I need to eat breakfast.

Another Internet Quiz

Which Extremity of the World Are You? YOU ARE THE NILE At 4145 miles from your furthest extremity to the Mediterranean Sea, you outdo the Amazon to become the world's longest river. The piranhas hate you. Beneath you lies an underground river with six times your volume. You kept this remarkably quiet for several thousand years. In fact, you're full of mystery; your source wasn't discovered until 1862. You're also full of water. And crocodiles. And nuclear pharaoh machines that run on light and can see through time.

Thoughts about a Jewish Education

This is a topic that has been addressed a thousand times and in a thousand different ways. What can we do to improve the education of Jewish children. I would change the focus to read more along the lines of what can we do to improve Jewish education. One of the key problems is that there is a lack of understanding/consensus on what the ultimate goal of being Jewish is. It may sound foolish, it may seem silly, but I submit that this is a question that many cannot answer. Here are several things that need to be addressed. Why be Jewish? What is the goal of being Jewish? What does it take and mean to be a good Jew? There are more questions that can be raised, but this is a good start. I would argue that if you want committed Jews who are interested in a future and continuing Judaism you need to be able to answer these questions. I would also add that there need not be one answer to these questions, there can be many. That does not mean that there are not some central

The Holiday Spirit

My son and I dared to challenge the hordes at the mall on this Black Friday. We went to a local stop in Sherman Oaks that I knew would be crowded, but not oppressive. I had a couple of items that I wanted to check on, but did not need to do any real shopping. While I was waltzing through the mall we encountered numerous examples of what I dislike about the holiday season. Frankly as a Jewish person I find the crush of Christmas music/decorations to be rather oppressive. The commercial aspect just drowns out any religious compoent, or so it seems to me. If that holiday was a part of my faith I would be offended at the influence of money upon the holiday. And to that end I really dislike any attempt to equate Chanukah as being the Jewish version of Christmas. They are not equivalent and shouldn't be drawn that way. I also have a problem with the push to be nicer and more charitable because it is part of the holiday spirit. What it says to me is that it is only importan

Giant Grinch Replaces X-mas Exhibit

"MONTE SERENO, Calif. - For six years, Alan and Bonnie Aerts transformed their Silicon Valley home into a Christmas cornucopia — complete with surfing Santa, nativity scene, giant candy canes flanking the driveway and a carol-singing chorus of life-sized mannequins. The popular display attracted thousands of visitors, coming from as far as San Francisco and Sacramento, to Monte Sereno, an upscale suburb just west of San Jose. After the exhibit was featured on NBC's "Weekend Today" last year, more than 1,500 cars prowled the cul-de-sac each night. But this year, the merry menagerie — worth about $150,000 in custom-designed props — stayed indoors. Instead, on the manicured lawn outside the couple's Tudor mansion stood a single tiding: a 10-foot-tall Grinch with green fuzz, rotting teeth, and sickly, beet-red eyeballs. The Aertses erected the smirking giant to protest the couple across the street — 16-year residents who complained that the annual display

Thanksgiving by myself

The family just left for the first stop of the evening. Under normal circumstances I would be in the car driving, but today I am not quite there. My visit to the doc showed that I have a minor infection. It is not contagious and not real serious, but I am feeling a little worn out. In a few minutes I will probably get dressed and head over the hill to make my appearance, but then again maybe I won't. I took a three hour nap and I am still tired. This is not typical and it is just irriatating. At some point during the last five years my attitude about being sick changed and I don't know why. Aside from my digestive issues I rarely have problems, but now when I do I feel like it will never go away. I don't know why, it never used to be like that. I always felt like it would just go away. It is not rational and it doesn't make me happy, but there is this sneaking suspicion that whatever I have plans on hanging out and making a home inside me. It is not like me, I

Thanksgiving Day- Turkey Bowl

Jack is a fraternity boy, yes it is true. I joined a house my freshman year. I never thought that I would ever do so, but circumstances played into it. I was supposed to go to Israel for my freshman year of college and then my plans fell through. I was crushed, I had never thought that I would stay in Los Angeles, but things happen. So I enrolled in my backup school and started to attend classes. I was starting over, but I was frustrated about it because the majority of my closest friends had gone elsewhere, Berkeley, Georgetown, Vassar, U.C.S.B, U.C.S.D., anywhere but LA. And there I was, 18, unexpectedly living at home and missing the party. While I was walking around campus I ran into a guy from high school who suggested that I try going to fraternity rush with him. I was skeptical about it, but I did it and ended up joining a house. I loved it and never looked backwards. Some of my best friends in the world are people from the fraternity. I don't think that I would have m

Coming to Grip With Aging

This past year has been rough for any number of reasons. I have faced many challenges, some serious, some not so serious. One of the challenges that has presented itself this year has been the aging process. Now I am sure that some of you will look at me and say that at 35 I am just a baby, and compared to some I am sure that I am. But the issue is not so much that I feel like an old man, but that I am starting to notice little aches and pains. The ticky-tack stuff doesn't disappear as quickly as it used to. I find bruises and wonder how they got there and then notice that days later they still linger on. Uninvited party crashers that just don't get the hint to leave. It is a collection of little things that make me notice that I am not 20 anymore, and frankly it is hard. I play basketball a minimum of two days a week, sometimes three or more. If I play three consecutive days I notice that my feet hurt, my back is sore and my legs don't have the same spring in the

A Slow Day in Blog Land

It is a slow day in Blog Land. Traffic to the shack is minimal, but given the holiday I am not surprised. And given my current disposition I am not surprised to see that my own posting has slowed down. You can file this next spot under the too much information category. I have to go and get my prostate checked out and the thought makes me want to prostrate myself on the floor. But I am beginning to feel less and comfortable so I might as well do it. I hate the exam, makes me feel kind of loosey-goosey and not so manly. May need to go to Home Depot afterwards and buy a new set of power tools.

Wing Women- Use a woman to help you meet other women

I read about this the other day. It is a service that men can use to try and utilize the assistance of a beautiful woman to meet other women. The idea is that a man hires a woman to serve as a bit of an escort to a social function. At the function the woman is supposed to help facilitate introductions to other women. I haven't been single in close to a decade, but as I recall from my college days this is a fairly smart and sensible approach. I had a couple of friends who were very pretty and very outgoing. Any time we went out I ended up meeting other women. I suspect that beyond making a man a little less threatening there is probably some kind of competition thing going on here. That is enough on this topic for now. Plenty of more important things to cover.

A Poor Bedside Manner

This afternoon I began to experience another physical issue. It was the second problem in a week and has me irked because I am not old enough to be breaking down like this, or so it seems it should be. The short version is that I thought that I had a kidney stone and was in a bit of discomfort. I played it safe and visited the doctor only to find out that my blood and urine tests show no sign of a stone or infection. My BIL the doctor thinks that I may have some kind of prostate infection. I am not old enough for this crap. Bleah. The best part of this experience was when I asked the doc about my test results and he said that my kidney's were showing a small irregularity, but that we wouldn't know if it was kidney disease without more tests. I considered punching him in the nose so that he could appreciate my telling him that without an X-ray we would not know if it was broken.

An Ambassador to Judaism

At the tender age of 35 I have been involved in Jewish groups for what feels like 150 years. My primary area of focus and interest has been with Jewish youth. I have worked with any number of settings, camp, school, afterschool and more. And I have done it with the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox branches or denominations. That is not nearly descriptive enough, but it will suffice for now. Each time I have been involved we have had many activities in which we interacted with the general public. And each time we did we had a discussion about being an ambassador to Judaism. That is, we spoke as a staff and to our children about how many people had never met any Jews or had very little experience with Jewish people so it was important to take that into account in reference to personal conduct. I always found these discussions to be a little troubling for me. In concept it all made perfect sense to me to try and portray a good image of who we are and what we represent. The flip si


Just listened to clips from the new U2 album, it is hard to take 30 seconds of song and decide if I like it enough to buy it. It is late here in L.A. and this old man still hasn't found what he is looking for. So it is time to go to sleep so that tomorrow is a Beautiful Day. I'll dream of a place Where the Streets Have No Name and My Desire is not filled because because the Rattle and Hum in my head makes me Pop.

Mengele- No Regrets for his actions

"SAO PAULO, Brazil– Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele, who lived for years in hiding in Brazil, never regretted his crimes and died convinced of the superiority of the Aryan race, according to previously unreleased documents obtained by a local newspaper." I am glad to see this because I would not want there to be any way for his crimes to be whitewashed. He was a stain on humanity. I can only hope that he watched his dreams die as we prospered and that this was troubled him greatly. It really does not offer any solace, but....

New JFK video game called 'despicable'

"The company calls the game an educational "docu-game" that was designed to refute the theory that there a conspiracy was behind the assassination. Traffic's managing director, Kirk Ewing, said it will also inspire a younger generation of players to take an interest "in this fascinating episode of American history." My bullshit detector is going off like there is no tomorrow. Pathetic, just wrong.

All by myself

This weekend at camp was great. It was really refreshing and just a pleasure to to be in a special place with people who understood my experience, who understood what camp means because they experienced it too. As I mentioned in the previous post I really wasn't gone that long, but it felt like it. Camp time is different, it feels longer and more intense. And it always has. I walked the hills and witnessed a million different stories and memories. I love to read, biographies, fantasy, science-fiction, history and so much more. In one of my favorite series the author has created a separate world. In one particular place in this world you walk through hills that are supposed to be breathtakingly gorgeous, and at night your dead walk with you. Yes, the dead walk the hills, but you only encounter those people who have some kind of connection with you. It is not necessarily a scary thing, but there is the usual disconnect between the dead and the living. No matter how much they

NBA Brawl- When Athletes go Wild

"After the punches and counterpunches, after the apologizing and moralizing, it was time for the repercussions. And on a sad, sad night for professional sports, on a sobering night in suburban Detroit, an astonishing hammer was delivered. It had to be done. After the ugliest brawl came the strongest message, the appropriate message. You hope everyone -- players, fans, the whole sports world -- heard it. With stunning clarity, NBA Commissioner David Stern suspended Indiana star Ron Artest for the rest of the season, the harshest penalty in league history for an on-court incident. Artest had precipitated the brawl at Friday night's Pistons-Pacers game, a disgusting altercation with ripples just starting to grow. Three other Pacers -- Stephen Jackson (30 games), Jermaine O'Neal (25 games) and Anthony Johnson (five games) -- also were suspended, essentially gutting that team. Pistons center Ben Wallace, who shoved Artest after a hard foul, was suspended for six games.

Jack's Back

I survived another weekend at my home away from home. It was pretty cool to be wandering through Ojai again. It was even better to walk through camp and visit my favorite places there. It was interesting to see what had changed and what was still the same. I went to the spot where I fell in love and the place where I had my heart broken. I stared at the place where I had my first real kiss, lingered at the bench where I learned a dear friend was going to die and just absorbed the day. And I played Shabbos basketball. Shabbos ball at camp is an age old tradition. I felt like I was 16 again as I couldn't wait to stop davening so that I could begin davening on the court. It was awesome. It was surreal, and special and entertaining. And it was bittersweet. I missed people who should have been there and I missed knowing that I only had to wait for Summer to roll around again and I would be back. Camp is over for me and I am trying to figure out what my role with it should be

What made you who you are?

My last post made me think. How did I get to be the person I am today? It is not the first time I have thought about it, but it is a question that I like to mull over. Who am I? Do I like who I am? Am I the person that I want to be? It is like the classic quote from Pirkei Avot, paraphrased here: "A man receives three names: The name his parents give him at birth, The name his friends call him by, And the name he calls himself." To me it is one of the most important and profound things I have ever heard. Character, integrity, are you a mentsch. Who are you and is your image of yourself in line with reality. That is, do people see you as you see yourself and how important is that. To me it is a balance. You shouldn't listen to what everyone says about you. But at the same time you should have some people in your life who you can trust to be honest in their opinions about you. People who can tell you when you are acting like an ass. So if I have to tr

I am a little nervous

Yes, it is true, I am a little nervous about the big weekend reunion. I'd be lying if I said that my ego wasn't involved. I don't look like I did, not really close. I don't look bad, but I am a little softer in the middle and the hair on my head has been shifting to other places on my body. Does any of it really matter? Not that much, but enough that it bothers me a little, at least enough to notice. My introduction to camp was back in the '70s as part of a Hebrew school weekend when I was around 10 or 11. I was supposed to attend in '81, but I was "waitlisted" and didn't actually start going for a full session until 1982. I was 13. I remember much of that Summer. I wore a cowboy hat on the bus. It wasn't a hat that I normally wore and I can't say now why I did it, but I did. It was one of the first things that the other guys noticed about me. Someone asked if I was from Oklahoma. Since I was the last guy to walk into the tent I

Ramblings of a disturbed mind

It is another Thursday and I just feel like I am baked. Not baked as in high, drunk, stoned or any sort of altered state of reality caused by any substance other than life. And that my friends is exactly what has my head pounding right now, life. It is not particularly bad or good. It is not any one thing, it is just a lot of little things weighing upon me. It is the normal concerns any father has about his children, the normal worry about paying bills, the doubt about career and life path, the drain of spreadsheets and the drudgery of routine. I am ready for the vacation I mentioned below. It is going to be exciting to be away, to be in a place that means so much to me. And it will be interesting to see what people look like and are doing now. One of the things I have noticed is that often when you run into people from the past they almost assume that whomever you were dating when they knew you is still with you. It is not necessarily such a silly thing, but I do get a chuckl

What character would you be?

No, this is not one of those quizzes you find online, if it was it would be something like: What kind of chewing gum flavor are you? What kind of car are you? What kind of tool are you? What flavor of ice cream are you? Hey, maybe I should write one of those quizzes. Nah, back to the topic at hand. If you could be a character from a book or movie who would you be? Would you be Major Major from Catch-22? Would you be Frodo from The Lord of the Rings? How about Holden Caufield from Catcher in the Rye? Who would you be? My answers change, but for now I would have to be "The Cat in the Hat." He is one cool cat and he has so many tricks up his sleeve, might be kind of nice to try him on for size.

Jack's going on Vacation

This weekend I am going to attend a reunion at a Summer camp I attended as both camper and a counselor. I am really excited about going back as camp is one of those places that never fails to move me. It is a combination of the experiences I had there and the actual setting. It helped to provide the foundation for who I am on almost every level. So many things come to mind. Every time I walk the hills I really can hear the past and the present. When I look at certain spots I remember sneaking away with my girlfriend for a quiet moment. I see intimate moments of joy and pain. I remember falling in love and having my heart broken. It is where I developed many of my closest friendships. During the offseason I spent many hours hiking around the hills and forest it is located in. Truth be told I used that area as a test for some of my relationships. When I began to get serious with a woman I would take her hiking there and just let the area speak for itself. If she didn't t

Virgin Mary In my Grilled Cheese Sandwich

"BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Brace yourself. There may be a less-than-miraculous explanation for that image of the Virgin Mary a Florida woman says appeared in her grilled cheese sandwich. Professional skeptic Joe Nickell says it's the same phenomenon that lets people see ships in the clouds, butterflies in ink blots and the man on the moon. " I apologize if some people find this offensive, but c'mon. If I was eating macaroni and cheese and suddenly saw an image of Moses waving at me I would probably wave back at him.

Head Games on the Basketball court

I play ball several times a week. They are all pickup games and I usually try and match up against players that are better than me because it is how you improve your game. Whenever I am playing I spend a large part of the game playing mind games with the guys on the other team. I have a number of little tricks that tend to work well. I am not going to share all of them, but here is one that I find to be particularly useful. During the game I try hard to create turnovers. I have pretty fast hands, so I usually manage to interrupt passes and or a players dribble. Frequently the ball goes out of bounds because myself or another defender has managed to trip things up for the other guy. When the ball bounces out of bounds most of the time there is a bit of a discussion as to which way the possession arrow is facing, that is, whose ball is it. If possible I will frequently claim responsibility for having knocked the ball out of play because I want the other players to be worried

Humans Were Born to Run, Scientists Say

"LONDON (Reuters) - Humans were born to run and evolved from ape-like creatures into the way they look today probably because of the need to cover long distances and compete for food, scientists said on Wednesday. " Pretty interesting stuff "But the development of physical features that enabled humans to run entailed a trade-off -- the loss of traits that were useful for climbing trees." That is ok with me, it is hard to get a recliner and a big screen TV into the tree. "Among the features that set humans apart from apes to make them good runners are longer legs to take longer strides, shorter forearms to enable the upper body to counterbalance the lower half during running and larger disks which allow for better shock absorption. Big buttocks are also important. " Old Jack is especially pleased to see this as I have a butt that was built for boxing out my opponents in the key. Ask Charles Barkley about the advantages this offers. - FCC's Powell disappointed in 'MNF' - Nov 17, 2004

"WASHINGTON (AP) -- The nation's chief media regulator expressed disappointment Wednesday over the steamy locker room opening to ABC's "Monday Night Football" broadcast. "I wonder if Walt Disney would be proud," said Michael Powell, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co." Doesn't this guy have better things to do than this. It is just so silly and such a waste of time. I am very concerned about the chilling effect that this has on our society.

Validation By Defeat

Will has some excellent points in this column. MSNBC - Validation By Defeat : "Nov. 22 issue - A small but significant, because articulate, sliver of the Democratic Party seems to relish interpreting the party's defeat as validation. This preening faction reasons as follows: the re-election of George W. Bush proves that 51 percent of the electorate are homophobic, gun-obsessed, economically suicidal, antiscience, theocratic dunces. Therefore to be rejected by them is to have one's intellectual and moral superiority affirmed." This behavior is just obnoxious and reprehensible. "Belief in the infantilism of the American public has been an expanding facet of some "progressive" thinking for 50 years—since the explosive growth of advertising, especially on television, in the 1950s. Then it began to be argued (see, for example, John Kenneth Galbraith's 1958 book "The Affluent Society") that Americans are a bovine, manipulable herd—put

For the members of the Tribe and anyone else who is interested

This is a little off-color and obviously exaggerated, but kind of fun. An Orthodox Jewish couple, preparing for a religious wedding meets with their rabbi for counseling. The rabbi asks if they have any lastquestions before they leave. The young man asks, "Rabbi, we realize it's tradition for men to dance with men,and women to dance with women at the reception. But, we'd like your permission to dance together, like the rest of the world." "Absolutely not,"says the rabbi. "It's immodest. Men and women always dance separately." "So after the ceremony I can't even dance with my own wife?" "No," answered the rabbi."It's forbidden." "Well, okay," says the man. "What about sex? Can we finally have sex?" "Of course!," replies the rabbi. "Sex is a *mitzvah - a good thing within marriage, to have children!" "What about different positions?" asks the man. "

Arafat left mystery on PLO's holdings

No surprises in this story, let's spend a few minutes taking it apart. " The Palestinian leader, who died last week, maintained tight control over a far-flung network of financial resources, and officials now fear that much of it is in danger of being lost or stolen. Estimates of the amount vary wildly. One of his former PLO finance ministers recently put the figure at $3 billion to $5 billion. Israeli intelligence sources have claimed that about $700million has been hidden away in secret bank accounts. Last year, Forbes magazine placed Arafat sixth on its list of the world's wealthiest "kings, queens and despots." The magazine calculated that he was worth about $300 million. By all accounts, Arafat was a man of few material wants who lived a life of Spartan simplicity. But money is the lubricant of all political movements, and a virtual river of cash flowed through Arafat's pockets during his four decades as chairman of the PLO and later as pres

I am a Handy Man- Sort of

Brian's post about a foray into computer repair made me think for a few moments about my own abilities to repair things and do work around the house and car. I have great admiration for craftsman and people who are able to use their hands to create and repair things, be it carpentry, electrical, plumbing, whatever. There is something very cool about being able to take objects and create something new out of nothing, as well as being able to fix and maintain the items around your home. If the toilet leaks, fence breaks, sink cracks, car coughs and you can handle the problem yourself it is just a very cool thing. My father is very good with his hands. As a child I spent years assisting him on household projects and trying to learn how to do what he did. For a long time I had great difficulty doing so because grace and finesse do not come easily to me. I have a body that was built for demolition. If you want to knock down a wall, I am your guy. If you want to remove the stum

18ft Great White shark Attacks Woman

"The last confirmed, unprovoked fatal shark attack in South Africa was in 2003, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History's International Shark Attack File, which has gathered such data worldwide for decades. " What do you do to provoke a shark, aside from jumping into blood infested water. Wow, this animal is just immense. I cannot imagine the power that it must bring. I feel badly for the woman, but I would imagine that this would be quick. And on a side note might I add that I being eaten alive is one of my irrational fears. It scares the hell out of me.

Saddam and the Corrupt Oil for Food Program

This is really worth digging into. Check out these nuggets and follow the story: "WASHINGTON (AP) -- Saddam Hussein's regime made more than $21.3 billion in illegal revenue by subverting the U.N. oil-for-food program -- more than double previous estimates, according to congressional investigators." and "Saddam Hussein attempted to manipulate the typical oil allocation process in order to gain influence throughout the world," Mark L. Greenblatt, a counsel for the Senate panel's permanent subcommittee on investigations, said in prepared testimony obtained by The Associated Press. "Rather than giving allocations to traditional oil purchasers, Hussein gave oil allocations to foreign officials, journalists, and even terrorist entities, who then sold their allocations to the traditional oil companies in return for a sizable commission." The reference to terrorist groups referred to evidence that the regime had allocated oil to such organi

More fan mail

More fan mail: Dear Mr. Shack, I have noticed your posts around the blogs I visit and want to say that I commend you for your approach and semi-literate responses. Dear reader, Thanks for noticing. I am curious where you saw me and what you saw me doing. Strike that, don't answer I am not sure that I want to know. Jack, You are one conflicted dude. Who are you trying to be? Dear reader, As I learned in college, "all we are is dust in the wind." Jack, You really think that you are funny man. I don't think you are half as witty as I am. Please don't do this any longer. Dear reader, I like nothing more than to be insulted by a half-wit. Jack, What do you think is going to happen during the next four years? Dear reader, Thank you for providing me with some latitude here. Since you did not specify what you would like me to comment on allow me to say that within the next four years I'd like : "I'd like to teach the world to sing