Blogging for Ego, For Experience, For What

One of the things that I love about the blogosphere is that I am a part of community.

Community, not one, but many.

I rise up into the ether and find myself a part of a community of bloggers, of those who share my faith, interests, goals, objectives and so much more.

It is a place that I find fascinating. I frequently speak about how I love the interaction and sometimes the voeyeuristic component of this. I peak into lives and see people who I think are just like and I watch others who are so very different.

I learn about them and myself and I really believe that I am growing, at least that is the hope. I know for certain that this has been a positive experience for me if for no other reason than the outlet it provides as well as the chance to work on my writing. I need the practice.

And I know that the outlet provides me with a certain freedom to say things I might not say and to admit things that I might not otherwise. So here is my confession of the moment.

I check my stats way too frequently. I look at Technorati to see if people have decided that I am a necessary part of their daily diet, have they blogrolled me or have they unblogrolled me. I am interested, but in truth I am more touched when someone writes a post because of something they said, wrote, saw or experienced here.

I am sometimes frustrated when there are no comments, especially on posts where I really feel like I have hit a homerun.

So the reality and the truth is that there is some ego involved here, a bit of a come love me component, but I accept that. Is it wrong to admit this, should I be ashamed that I would like for people to look to my blog for this and that.

I don't think so. I feel a little foolish admitting it, but as I said, this is the place where I let those things out, where the dark corners get to see a little light.

I am still a dreamer, a person who lives in the stars. I am not just a father, not just a mealticket or provider.

I am still that boy who dreams of playing a professional sport, who wanted to be part of some amazing story like a Harry Potter or LOTR book.

Blogging really has done a lot for me, I am truly thankful. And if the time comes when I decide I need to hangup my spikes I likely will not announce it. I will probably avoid making a big deal of it because I don't want a bunch of people begging me to stay and if they do not I will be pissed off and mildly hurt.

Silly ego.

Better to walk away and leave a little mystery to where I have gone and if I will return.

A Sad Story


I saw this initially on Jewzoo and it really made me a little sad.

There is a story that goes alongside the picture and explains why this woman allowed her forehead to be purchased for ad space.

"Smith's ad is a labor of love and actually a positive in her life, something she says her life hasn't been filled with lately: a failed marriage and deaths of several family members — most recently, her sister in a car crash April 18.
Smith said the money will give her son the education boost she believes he needs after falling behind in school since the accident.
"For the all the sacrifices everyone makes, this is a very small one," she said. "It's a small sacrifice to build a better future for my son."
Still, Smith said she knows most people won't understand why she's sold her forehead as advertising space.
"I really want to do this," she said. "To everyone else, it seems like a stupid thing to do. To me, $10,000 is like $1 million. I only live once, and I'm doing it for my son."
Brouse didn't understand it, either.
In his 24 years, he's turned away a lot of customers who want to get tattoos that can't be covered up with clothing. He and his staff spent nearly seven hours Wednesday trying to talk Smith out of it.

Her resolve won out. The one thing Brouse could do with inch-tall letters in the prominent spot was to make them less so by keeping them as close to her hairline for those occasions when bangs or a hat might be the more appropriate message.
Smith's boyfriend, Jeremy Williams, said the couple discussed the idea for more than three weeks before deciding to go through with it. And when they did, Smith's eBay auction attracted more than 27,000 hits and 1,000 watchers.
Bidding reached $999.99 before Goldenpalace.com, an Internet gambling company in the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake, Canada, clicked "buy now," meeting Smith's $10,000 asking price and ending the auction two days early.
Smith said she talked to several companies and received multiple offers, but she decided Goldenpalace.com would be the best choice.
"We decided to go with these guys because they work with a lot of charities," she said. "I want this to mean something."
I think that there is just something sad about a woman who feels like this is necessary. As a parent I can understand the drive to try and provide for your children. I really hope that this makes a difference because she sold that space for very little and it will take some time to see if there is a price that she will have to pay for having done so.

Some Stories that Caught My Eye

These are just a few of the things that have caught my attention today:

"Newborn dolphins, killer whales never sleep -study

A study has shown the young of those two species do not sleep at all during the first month of life. They are active 24 hours a day -- and their mothers have learned to cope.

"Somehow these seafaring mammals have found a way to cope with sleep deprivation, facilitating rather than hindering a crucial phase of development for their offspring," Dr Jerome Siegel, a neuroscientist at the University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA), said in a statement.

Siegel and his colleagues said the developmental pattern they discovered in the dolphins and whales is different from all other mammals.

As the calves of both species grow, their sleep gradually increases to adult levels.

"Their bodies have found a way to cope, offering evidence that sleep isn't necessary for development and raising the question of whether humans and other mammals have untapped physiological potential for coping without sleep," Siegel said."

And

In Ireland, few safe havens for an ancient tongue

"Irish Gaelic is still the native tongue of some 55,000 people who live mostly along the west coast. But it is under siege. Even Inis Meáin, one of three Aran Islands off the coast of County Galway famed for old-fashioned ways, is no longer a safe haven.

"Irish is in trouble," says Cuomhán Ó Fátharta, Inis Meáin's sole shopkeeper. "When I was young, you had to learn English in school because there was no TV. I couldn't really speak English until I was 12, but now the kids are all picking it up young."

As Ireland's mother tongue struggles to survive, the government has stepped up its contentious efforts to save the language, known here simply as Irish."

What about this one:

We're going to eat out of a WHAT?

"TAIPEI (Reuters) - It may take a strong stomach to eat curry or chocolate ice cream out of a toilet bowl, but a commode-themed restaurant in Taiwan does booming business serving up just that.

The Martun, or toilet in Chinese, restaurant in the southern port city of Kaohsiung boasts lengthy queues on weekends as diners wait for a toilet seat in its brightly colored tile interior.

Food arrives in bowls shaped like Western-style toilets or Asian-style "squat pots."

Manager Hung Lin-wen said the original inspiration came from a toilet-shaped spaceship in a Japanese cartoon. The theme has attracted droves of novelty-seeking young people who come to play with their food and gross out their friends."

It is a wild and wacky world that we live in.

A Mental Lapse

Went to the gym last night to play ball. I found two partners and we ran the court for a couple of hours. Basketball can be a very simple game to play, especially if you do what I did and find teammates who are exceptionally good. It makes the game very easy. I like simplicity.

Last week I jammed the index finger on my right hand and then last night I added to my laundry list of aches and pains by jamming my middle finger. The upside is that it takes a large finger and makes it obscenely large so that there is no misunderstanding what I try to say to passing motorists.

The index finger healed relatively quickly. I was surprised, pleasantly I might add because these things tend to be nagging injuries.

Spent some time in the steamroom to unwind and exchanged war stories with the boys. Again I am convinced that the thing that scares me the most about being a father is not the usual mix of pedophiles, thieves and rapists, but one thing, ME.

When I think about the stupid things I did and how much dumb luck I had I cringe. When I think about being a teenage boy and how we looked at girls I think that I might have to lock my daughter up or hire professional bodyguards because her brother won't work.

He'll be caring and loving and at times very effective- and then a pair of pretty eyes will catch his attention and he'll be too busy staring at her body and thinking of my admonishment to remember that she is a person and that someone might look at his sister that way- to remember to keep the guy chatting her up away.

And with this I realize now how to spare myself the trouble of paying for the house. I'll have to sell it to have enough money to pay for the security force, school, clothing and all of the other stuff that comes with children.

Years from now you may see me on the street, I'll be the homeless guy wearing a beat up tank top and some tired hightops. For a quarter I'll spin a yarn or two for you, but if you want to hear the whole story it will cost you at least a dollar.

Maybe the best thing I can do is listen to the advice of one of the other players and just suffer a mental lapse about my earlier days and go from there.

Laugh, It is a Gas

Thanks to Blogger's new capabilities pictures will be added to this blog more frequently.

Refusal, Disengagement, Civil War, Uprising, The Shame

I have written about my love affair with Israel on many occasions. I have fielded comments and questions about why I still live in America, whether I would still consider making aliyah and have sparred with people who accuse me of having mixed loyalties, who question my patriotism to the U.S.

I don't feel much like discussing the 'ins and outs' or the 'hows and whys' of why I do what I do. I don't really care that much because in the grand scheme of things it is immaterial. For now I live in the US and am committed to living here and doing what I can to make the US a better place, but none of that precludes my being interested in doing the same for Israel. Nor does it prevent me from having an opinion on the disengagement.

There are those who would say that because I do not live in Israel I am entitled or allowed to have an opinion on disengagement, but I disagree for a couple of basic reasons.
  1. What happens in Israel has an impact upon Jews worldwide.
  2. As a Jew it is my right to have an opinion, ask your rav or look at the certificate you received at your bris.
In all seriousness, I get to voice my opinion but I don't get to vote because I live in the galut and that is as it should be. But enough of this, enough of the ridiculous banter and the small talk and into the meat.

I am torn and upset by this. I am angry and frustrated by the pictures I see of the infighting, of Jews fighting Jews and the idea that land is being given to people who have been trying to murder us. I don't like it, it is a painful thing to see.

But I tend to believe that it is necessary and I am very concerned with the actions of those who are resisting the move, especially within the IDF. A nation should have soldiers who act and think on their own, but at the same time they must follow the chain of command or the entire system breaks down. I thought that this and other thoughts was summed up well in the following editorial from the Jerusalem Post.

"The father of Avi Bieber, a soldier who refused orders during the demolition of some abandoned buildings in Gush Katif on Sunday, spoke of being "proud that he was able to stand up and say what he feels." Without detracting from a father's natural role in backing up his son, refusing orders for political reasons should not evoke pride, but concern over the shallowness of our democratic roots.

Political refusal is nothing to be proud of, and both sides know it. Disengagement opponents who are now blithely urging refusal were the first to be appalled at leftwing calls to refuse to serve in the territories. One such call currently online, for example, organized by "Courage to Refuse," states, "We shall not continue to fight beyond the 1967 borders in order to dominate, expel, starve and humiliate an entire people. We hereby declare that we shall continue serving in the Israel Defense Forces in any mission that serves Israel's defense. The missions of occupation and oppression do not serve this purpose – and we shall take no part in them."

Who gave this organization and the soldiers who have heeded it the right to decide which missions serve Israel's defense? It does not take "courage" to refuse, but arrogance. It is a selfish act in which the refuser decides not only to arrogate to himself the roles of elected leaders, but to transfer the burdens he refuses to share to his law abiding compatriots.

Those who are proud of Bieber would have only disdain for his counterparts on the Left, and no doubt the feeling is mutual. But neither side can have it both ways: refusal begets refusal. We have one prime minister, one Knesset, one army and one people. The refuser, more than advancing his own cause, is undermining the institutions on which we all depend for our lives, our security, and our existence.

This is not to deny the legitimate category of refusing to obey illegal orders. Soldiers are taught, and rightly so, that they have the right and sometimes the duty to refuse to obey illegal orders. A soldier's judgment of what is illegal may or may not be upheld against that of his commander, but there is no doctrine that every order is by definition legal.

On the civilian side, there is also the institution of civil disobedience, which can go so far as breaking the law. But there is a difference between dissent in the military and civilian cases. In both, the dissenter must be willing to bear the legal consequences of his actions. But only in the civilian case is dissent legitimate on political grounds.

Civilian dissent does not undermine the institution of democracy, though it can to some extent challenge the legitimacy of its elected institutions. Refusal in a military context directly undermines the bedrock principle that is necessarily drummed into every soldier: that legal orders derived from democratic decisions must be followed. Without this foundation, the army that both the Left and Right agree is critical to this nation, and therefore democracy itself, cannot function.

The question is how we can better inculcate in our youth a revulsion of political refusal, rather than the notion that it is a noble act. Some refusers, either because anarchy does not concern them, or because they place other sources of authority, such as religion, above democracy, know what they are doing. Others may fully understand the gravity of their attack on their own democracy and society.

Whether refusal comes from ideology or ignorance, our society must defend itself not only by punishing the perpetrators, but by maintaining the stigma against political refusal and bolstering democratic values through civic education. Defenders of democracy need as much courage, tenacity and creativity as those whose, deliberately or through ignorance, would undermine what we must all hold most dear."

I have also shared the words of Rabbi Daniel Gordis on a number of occasions and I would like to do so again with two pieces.

First, this is a link to an article he wrote for the Jerusalem Post.

"Hamefaked, anahnu yehudim, ve'et ze ani lo mesugal, read one that's appeared all over. "Commander, we're all Jews, and this I cannot do." It is a call to soldiers, encouraging them to declare that even if ordered, they will not force Jews from their homes.

The phrasing was brilliant, I thought. Not "I won't do this," but "I can't do this."

It evoked, in almost wordless fashion, the bewilderment of those in Gaza who will be moved. It suggested that the Knesset's decision is not simply wrong, but that it verges on a violation of nature.

This simply cannot be done. It is an assault on too much of what we stand for, an assault on fairness, on decency. Even those of us who (however unhappily) favor the disengagement can, and must, understand this sense of betrayal.

Because these Israeli citizens were encouraged by Labor no less than by the Likud to build homes in Gush Katif, and they did so with exemplary dedication. Because, our protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, we are withdrawing under fire.

Because Ariel Sharon effectively promised these people that this would not happen, and they supported him with that assurance in mind. Because homes will be destroyed, communities dismantled, playgrounds abandoned, synagogues emptied, batei midrash razed.

Because those who left Yamit could at least console themselves with the knowledge that it was land for peace; while this week we could not point to anything that we were getting in return for our evacuation.

Because there are cemeteries there, where these citizens have buried their parents and their children.

And what should happen to those graves? Shall we disinter the children killed and buried there, and force those people to relive once again the torment of those funerals? Or shall we leave the graves there, even as the Palestinians move in, pretending that we don't recall the desecrations of Joseph's Tomb in 2000, or of the Mount of Olives before the Six Day War?

Sadly, we hear little validation of the settlers' angst from those who favor the withdrawal. Where is the grieving on the Left for a human tragedy of enormous proportions? Have we become so embittered that we feel nothing for those whom we must dislodge?

Is that what statehood has wrought? Yotzim me'aza, mathilim ledaber, proclaimed the other side. "Leave Gaza, and start speaking," as if there were anyone with whom to speak."

And I leave you with this excerpt from his most recent dispatch:

"Which was the end of the answer to Micha's question. What will be left when we give it all back? A Pesach like this one, and you know the answer. What will be left will be a country where "Exodus" isn't only a reference to the ancient past. And what will be left, undoubtedly, will be a smaller country.

What will be left it a country deeply wounded by the pain it is about to inflict on itself, by the price it is asking its best pioneers to pay for having heeded the call of previous governments to move to precisely where they now live. But what will be left is a population that is still in love with the land that it does have, and that hikes it and bikes it at every opportunity. That fills the roads to overflowing on vacations, that fills the wadis way beyond safe numbers. A place where the sense of shared enterprise is palpable, especially when you need it. What will be left are people who, if someone gets hurt, respond so selflessly that it takes your breath away. And then don't understand why you're making such a big deal of thanking them.

What will be left will be a country in which, if you go to a couple of doctors in the space of a few hours, one will have made aliyah from France, one from Spain and one from Russia. Where even the food cart in the waiting room reflects the fact that it's Pesach. It will be a country in which, despite all the years of conflict, kids still reach
out to each other, across the chasms of cultures, and of languages.

But, most importantly, what will be left will be a place that people have left everything behind to come back to. It will be a country where, after this summer, people will have proven that despite the enormous and almost unspeakable pain entailed, they have decided to have less even in the short run, rather than nothing in the long run. Because they will still love what they'll have. Because they can't imagine surviving without it.

What will be left, when the pain begins to subside, will be home."
From
Exodus(es), Redux
Here is my wish for hope and that this works out for a better future and peace for all.

From The Mailbag

Dear Jack,
You have slowed down in your blogging and your posts are getting dull.
Thanks,

Tim

Dear Tim,

Are you saying thank you to be polite or because you are happy that I have slowed down in my blogging. In truth I have slowed down, but I still pump out consistent and regular content. If you don't like it, than don't read it. Or be like the next guy.

Dear Jack,
You Zionists are all alike. You are wrong politically, liars and emotionally bankrupt.
Long live Arafat.

Dear "Yasser,"

Unlike Mark Twain rumors of your death have not been exaggerated.

Dear Jack,
What do you think of civilization?
Best,
Max


Dear Max,

I think that it is a good idea. Ok, I faked that one but even though it is an old joke I still like it and I wanted to have at least four letters to share.

Jack,

I have been reading your blog for some time now. Keep up the good work.

Be well,

Doug

P.S. Go Pistons


Dear Doug,

Somehow I think that your name is not really Doug and that you think you are getting me with the Pistons comment, but in reality you just give me another reason to remind you all that the Pistons proved that they were nothing but a flash in the pan. They are a good team, not great an not worthy of more words than this.

At least the Celtics offered a real rivalry.

One of My Favorite "Random Comments" From Around the Web

I am going to pick on Psycho Toddler for a moment. I enjoy reading his blog for all sorts of reasons. One of the things I like about it is that there are these comments that I envision being made in sort of dry, deadpan fashion. I like droll humor and this seems to hit the mark sometimes.

In this post here he delivers one of my favorites:

"After that we had a conversation where I couldn't remember which one of my kids I delivered. My wife said Daughter2, but I thought it was Son3."
Now I should add two things first that he is a doctor and secondly I think that he is a genuinely good guy so when I say that I am picking on him I am not picking on him.

But I do find it kind of funny that he doesn't remember which child he delivered, but at the same time there is something kind of cool about that. I can't put my finger on the word that I want to use to describe it.

If The House is a Rocking...

Well it is another Tuesday night here in the shack. I just finished paying bills and I am feeling irritable. It is not surprising, nor shocking to feel this way, but a little tedious. Allow me to vent, to spew out the negative energy and recharge my batteries.

Today marked the second trip the plumber has made to my house in the last week. We have a very large tree in front of my home, it is beautiful, but it is killing my pipes and starting to impact my pocketbook.

Sooner or later there is going to be a showdown between the tree and I. If I allow the tree to stay I can figure that in the not so distant future I am going to be tearing up my driveway and rerouting the pipe from the curb to the house. Depending on the plumber it will cost anywhere between $1800 to $3,000 to do the work. Now I realize that this is a big range, but it is impacted in part by whether I hire someone who is licensed to do the work.

There is no question about this, I want the license because I need to have some kind of recourse if he screws it up because I could literally be up the creek without a paddle.

When the driveway is torn up is also the perfect time to have my cracked asphalt replaced with concrete or some other substitute. So we can figure that the tree is going to cost me around $5k, not to mention that if I leave it standing the birds that live there can still use my car for target practice.

Ok, the reality is that I am not going to kill the tree, but I am going to kick it and swear at it. I am going to threaten the tree and ask it in a very stern tone to leaf me alone, but I am less than optimistic about it.

My sprinklers need to fixed too, in both the front and the backyard because they are just barely functioning. I can do the work and save a lot of money, but I don't expect to. I won't do it because I can hire someone who can do it faster and better than I can.

I am not real happy about this, but it is my home and I don't won't to get cheap about things like that. I am willing to pay for quality. Some people don't think about this in realistic terms, but I try to.

In a past life I used to sell diamond blades that were used for cutting concrete. Certain blades cost about ten times as much as the cheaper abrasive model, but they also used to last substantially longer. I used to have these silly conversations with people about how much the diamond blades cost in which I would chart out the additional cost of the diamond blade versus the abrasive and the cost of the time it took to replace a spent abrasive blade.

It was trues that they were cheaper, but they wore out faster and consequently you had to replace them more frequently. And that cost all sorts of money.

If you were the person paying the cutter you wanted them to work nonstop or as close to it as possible. But every time they had to stop to change the blade you lost the time it took to change the blade and took the chance that they might decide to use that time to take a break. So in the end the savings didn't always add up and sometimes by spending more you could actually end up ahead of the game.

So I am going to pay someone to fix the sprinklers, reroute the line and do a couple of other things. I keep fixing my back gate, but my repairs are like band-aids that get wet. They stick briefly but never quite last. Add that gate to the list of things that need to be done.

There is some painting of the trim and the need to replace a door and about 16 other things. I am far more critical of the house and chances are that you wouldn't agree with most of what I see, but I live here and I see it.

I am proud of this house. We got it without any assistance from anyone, that includes the downpayment. And for the most part I have kept us afloat here for four years, been running the whole show on my own for almost 5 now. Ok, it is only 4.5, but I am proud of it because not everyone can do it.

But sometimes when I look in the mirror I see how it has aged me. Sometimes in the still of the night I sit up in bed and consider all that I have to care for in my kingdom and I wonder if my shoulders are broad enough.

My life is much easier than others and harder than some. I am a survivor and always will be, but like Tevye said I wonder if it would be so hard to give me more than a couple of kopeks to play with.

Hitler's Plan To Use Sex Dolls

Ok, I am a day behind in reporting this but I had to jump in on it. An Italian Newspaper called Corriere della Sera covers the story here.

I had Google translate the Page, it is a little rough, but I'll provide another source for your review as well.

Hitler: one inflatable doll for the soldiers

The German soldiers could therefore satisfy their needs sexual, avoiding veneree diseases and preservando the purity of the race.

ROME - Adolf Hitler commissioned in 1941 to the Danish doctor Olen first Hannussen giocattolo the erotico one of the world: one inflatable doll. Of aspect rigorously Ariane, the doll had to serve affinchè the German soldiers could satisfy their needs sexual, avoiding therefore the veneree diseases and preservando the purity of the race.
The instructions of the Fuhrer on the physical aspect of the doll - a Norwegian daily paper writes the conservative newspaper Spanish ABC citing - were very precise:
"Of natural largeness, beautiful woman of skin had somigliare one blond white woman, hats, sweet blue eyes, high 1,76, labbra and giant breasts, articulate legs, arms and head and very designed navel".

In the idea of Hitler, the giocattolo it had to be
included, between other vital objects, in the zaino of every soldier of the Reich. The prototype of the doll, in galvanized plastic, had to be manufactured to Dresda, explains ABC, according to which the Norwegian newspaper documented the assignment with one of sended letters to Hannussen. Direct responsible of the plan was Heinrich Himmler, head of the feared SS.

The things however did not go in port. A bomb of allies destroyed the factory to you that had received the assignment to develop the unusual commission and put aim to the plan, saving to the Fuhrer the outlandish merit to become ' padre' of the inflatable doll"
27 june 2005

And now here is a link and copy from Ynet in English that is a little easier on the eyes.

"Hitler: Father of sex doll?

Italian newspaper 'Corriere della Sera' says Nazi dictator ordered production of inflatable sex dolls for S.S. soldiers; doll would be blonde, blue-eyed with large lips and breasts
By Nir Magal

The Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler ordered, in 1941, a Danish doctor named Olen Hannussen, to develop the world's first inflatable sex doll, the Italian newspaper "Corriere della Sera' reported on Monday.

The doll was went meant to serve the sexual needs of the German fighting man, who might otherwise go to brothels and contract a sexual
transmitted disease – or worse, have sex with non-Aryan women and thus pollute the race.

The story of the sex doll first appeared in a Norwegian newspaper, which said that Hitler himself provided the measurements and design for the doll: "She should be a natural size with a pretty woman's appearance with white skin, blonde hair, blue eyes, 1.76 meters (5 feet, nine inches) high, with large lips and breasts."


According to the project, which was classified as "top secret," soldiers would inflate up the doll when feeling the urge, and it would meet their sexual needs.

The officer directly responsible for the sex doll project was S.S. commander Heinrich Himmler.

Perfecting the plastic woman

According to another report, Dr. Rudolf Chargeheimer, a psychiatrist appointed by Himmler to help develop the prototype, wrote that "the purpose and goal of the dolls is to relieve our soldiers. They have to fight and not to mingle with 'foreign women.'"

"However," wrote Chargeheimer, "no real men will prefer a doll to a real woman until our technicians meet the following quality standards: The synthetic flesh has to feel the same like real flesh. The doll’s body should be as agile and moveable as the real body. The doll’s organ should feel absolutely realistic.”

The plan was never put into action because the factory that was supposed to manufacture the sex doll was in the city of Dresden, which was bombed by the Allies. And so Hitler never got to see his inflatable girls put to use."
I should add that others in the blogosphere such as David and Israellycool wrote about this first.

Saudi Arabia issues new list of wanted militants

"RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia issued a new list on Tuesday of 36 suspects believed to be linked to attacks in the world's biggest oil exporter, showing its battle with militants is far from over.

In the latest response to a two-year campaign of bombings and killings by supporters of Osama Bin Laden's al Qaeda group, state television broadcast pictures of the suspects and offered hefty rewards for their capture.

"Security authorities managed to uncover plans by the deviant group who used themselves as a tool to distort Islam and harm the security of the country," the Interior Ministry said.

The announcement came just days after a report that one of the last remaining militants on an earlier Saudi "most wanted" list had been killed in Iraq."


Call me a skeptic but I don't place a lot of credibility into the Saudis and I question their intentions. They have created an environment there in which it is easy for AQ to recruit new members. It is going to take more than this to convince me that they are actually doing a thing to try and assist the fight against AQ.
"A senior European counter-terrorism official said the publication of the new list pointed to the "striking ability of these groups to renew themselves ... There is still a large (militant) potential in Saudi Arabia and neighboring states."

"The story is not yet over," the official said.

Officials say at least 90 civilians and more than 40 members of the security forces have been killed by militants and attacks have caused at least 1 billion riyals ($270 million) of damage.

But police have killed more than 100 militants in the same period and there have been no attacks this year comparable to the multiple suicide bombings of residential compounds in 2003 or the targeted killings of Westerners 12 months ago.

BOUNTY

The ministry offered a bounty of up to 7 million Saudi riyals ($1.87 million) for anyone who helps capture a militant or foil an attack.

Most of the wanted men were Saudis but some were from Chad, Yemen, Morocco and Mauritania. Fifteen were believed to be at large inside Saudi Arabia while 21 were outside the kingdom, the statement said.

Saudi analyst Faris bin Houzam said of those outside Saudi Arabia most were likely to be in neighboring Iraq.

"The issue for the government is when those fighters in Iraq return to Saudi Arabia," he said.

Saudi security consultant Nawaf Obaid said most of the Saudis -- who made up 29 of the 36 names on the new list -- were "second tier" militants who had worked under more senior operatives, most of whom have been killed or captured.

All but two men on a previous Saudi list of 26 wanted men, published in December 2003, are believed dead or in custody.

The non-Saudis are wanted by Riyadh but "also represent a threat in their native countries" because they had gained access to money, logistics and training while in Saudi Arabia, he said.

Saudi Arabia has been battling militants loyal to bin Laden's al Qaeda network, who have staged several bloody attacks on foreign residents, government sites and energy-industry installations in the last two years."


Fine, this is all well and good but I want to see more. I want to read about a change in the propaganda being pushed in state run media and then maybe we can discuss a real change in policy and action.

Pfizer: Viagra Doesn't Cause Blindness

"NEW YORK - Pfizer Inc. said that a review concluded that Viagra doesn't increase patients' risk of blindness but that it is still working with federal regulators to update the drug's label to reflect rare reports of vision loss."

Ok, so I am drawing a blank on an appropriate sarcastic remark here.

"It is so small you'll wish that you were blind" or some such silliness comes to mind. Sorry, today the witty remarks are suffering from fatigue or some other malady. More to come later.

Batman Begins and Jack Writes

I find that the best way to begin a sentence to simply begin. Now to some of you that may seem like common sense, but you are not the people sending me notes asking for advice. Tjat should not be seen as an attempt to make disparaging remarks about them, if I wanted to do that I would come right out and lambast them by name.

So to Shaggy Disproportionately large head monster and Woolly Eared Mama I say feh and a pox on you.

I finally saw Batman Begins. Now there was a fine flick. I enjoyed it tremendously, immensely and wholeheartedly. Years ago when people said wholeheartedly I would respond by saying that I thought it was only worth a vena cava or a left ventricle, but people never did find that funny. Well screw them, I have always been my own best audience, not to mention lover, best friend, confidante, critic what have you.

The movie was worth every penny. I paid in copper just because I wanted to see how long it would take to count 800 pennies. The people behind me in line were so impressed that they offered to pay for me. I have rarely seen such generosity.

As I watched the movie I realize that I really have always felt like a man apart, a person with two identities. but I am ok with that.

Another thing about the movie- cool car. I have got to get one of those because man would it solve the problems I have with being stuck in traffic.

Came across a few more blogs who thought that they were cool by listing the types of liberals that exist and why they are a plague. Noticed that there were an equal number of blogs listing similar items about conservatives.

Call me crazy but I think that you are all in dire need of a good blow job, getting laid, three day bender or week in a spa. You pick whichever one of the aforementioned will help to remove your head from you ass and replace it with a unit that doesn't just talk but acts as well.

If you don't like the world do something about it besides bug the 17 of us that read your blog.

The BTK man is one scary dude. I don't know how anyone can recount these stories so dispassionately.

Dennis Rader who pleaded guilty to 10 counts of murder and waived his right to a jury trial, chillingly recounted how he gave one woman a glass of water after she threw up, then strangled her with a rope as her children, locked in a nearby bathroom, screamed.

In another case he hung an 11-year-old girl in the basement of her home and masturbated by her body, after killing her parents and a 9-year-old brother upstairs."


When he goes to prison I won't mind if Bubba makes him a playtoy for a while, what a sick, sick man.

I shouldn't laugh at this story, but it just cracks me up because it reeks of tabloid humor.

Paul Abdul Urges Tougher Nail Salon Standards

"Abdul, who is also a judge on "American Idol," said a trip in April 2004 to a Studio City nail shop that used unclean manicure equipment became a yearlong ordeal that sent her in and out of the hospital, and made her the butt of late-night talk show jokes.

"What I saw fly out of my thumb was a green and yellow thick substance that smelt foul, and then blood, blood, blood," Abdul told the California Senate Business and Professions Committee in Sacramento. "Being a professional dancer, I'm no stranger to pain, but this time the pain was so excruciating that even my hair touching my thumb caused me to scream."


More to say and more to come, but for now I'll have to sign off to attend to some other duties.

Daddy, He is Beating Up Goofy

Way back in the annals of time, when Jack was a young man, a strapping young man I might add he had an incident at Disneyland.

I was all of 20 when that fateful day came. My fraternity had held its formal at the Disneyland hotel. It was a night of many memories, or should I say few memories. Yes, we were drinking. We drank so much the fish fled from our presence for fear that their habitat might be destroyed.

It was a bad combination of young, dumb and stupid, not to mention way too much alcohol, but that was Saturday night and this tale is about a single event that took place the next day, Sunday afternoon.

We were tooling around Disneyland, frequently hanging our heads because the happiest place on earth is not that much fun when you are hung over. Then it becomes, loud chaotic, and somewhat unpleasant.

The boys and I were in Tomorrowland waiting for our dates to exit the bathroom. I don't remember what we were talking about, it could have been the mystery of why women need partners to pee, but again it is so long ago who knows.

Someone thought that it would be a good idea to go on Space Mountain, but the way my head was pounding I was not that person. So begged off and told everyone that I would meet them after they had finished the ride.

As I was walking through the park I bumped into one of the characters, it was Tweedle-Dee or maybe it was Tweedle-Dum, who can tell. All I know is that he pushed me.

He pushed me and I tried to say excuse me and step by him. I figured that it was all in jest, but apparently I was wrong. As I tried to step around him he blocked my way and pushed me again. It wasn't very hard, but enough to get my attention.

I told him that I wasn't kidding. It was hot, I was hungover and I was not in the mood to play, but he persisted in trying to block my way.

Finally I lost it, I grabbed the portly character and body slammed him onto the ground. I tried to get up and run but he grabbed a hold of my leg at which point in time I started smacking his hollow head with my open palm.

He still wouldn't let go. So I flung myself on top of him and made like Hulk Hogan coming off of the ropes. I remember yelling at him, telling him to release me.

While all this was going on I can remember hearing a little kid yelling and pointing at us, "Dad, dad. He is beating up Goofy!"

I looked at the kid and growled something at him. In the meantime I was able to free myself from the corpulent character's grasp and made a hasty retreat back to the hotel. I had images of being arrested, but fortunately it never happened.

It was a number of years before I returned to Disneyland because somewhere out there, he waits for me. I know it. Somewhere out there in the distance I have a date with destiny.

Tweedle-Dee and I will dance again, but this time there can be only one.

Freed Gitmo Prisoners Allege Abuse of the Koran

LAHORE, Pakistan (AFP) - Seventeen former prisoners at Guantanamo Bay who were detained on their return home to Pakistan were freed, with many alleging they had witnessed the desecration of the Koran at the US jail.

The men came back to Pakistan around nine months ago after being cleared by US authorities. They were finally released from a Pakistani jail after promising not to take part in militant activities.

"American soldiers have been committing desecration of the holy Koran at Guantanamo," Haifz Ehsan Saeed, 27, told AFP as he emerged from the central jail in the city of Lahore.

"There were various incidents. Once I saw them throw the Koran in a bucket full of urine and faeces," he said."

I have said it before and I'll say it again. I am not an advocate of abusing the holy books of any religion, but it is not a legitimate excuse to riot, murder, or in general go crazy. On a sidenote I suppose that riot could encompass going crazy.

What I do see here is that people have found a hot button that they can use to try and cause trouble. I expect that we are going to continue to hear and read about this. They will use whatever tools we give them.

I Yelled At G-d

I yelled at G-d. I did. I yelled at him/he/she/her/it whatever. I screamed at G-d and beat the ground. I am not proud of it, but not quite ashamed either. It is not something that I keep to myself, but it is not something that I totally share either because, well, I don’t know why.

I can’t say because it comes from a place deep inside. It is a spot that lies beneath a lot of other junk so it doesn’t see daylight all that often. Maybe it is because I don’t like looking there because there are so many questions and so few answers.

When I was 19 I was madly in love with a girl that I though was supposed to be mine forever. I didn’t think of it as besheret, I knew it as such. I knew it the way a 19 year-old knows that life is going to give him everything because that is just how it works. I knew it in the way that I knew my hand, intimate and secure.

And then she left me.

She decided that I was not for her. She told me that she woke up one day and realized that she didn’t love me any longer. I was devastated. I couldn’t get a grip on it. It just didn’t make sense to me.

At that point in time I worked part time at a local shul where I assisted in the Hebrew school and youth departments. Monday through Thursday you would find me there between the hours of 3-6. And somewhere around a quarter to five you would find me davening with the afternoon minyan.

Almost without fail I would ask Hashem to fix things for me. I’d beg for a chance to fix the relationship or for something to help me feel better. I just couldn’t believe that my life had been spun around so dramatically.

One day Howie Mandel started showing up. His father had passed away and he needed a place to say Kaddish. He doesn’t know it, but it was his presence that helped me to recognize that I had gone astray. His loss was far more profound than mine. I stopped asking for things for myself and I healed, but I didn’t forget the feeling of not having my prayers acknowledged. I didn’t forget what it felt like to be ignored, but I didn’t focus on it.

Some years later I received a telephone call from a friend. I was in Los Angeles and he was in Boston. He told me that he was being held against his will in a hospital and asked me to get him out of there. I was 25 and working full time, but he was like a brother to me and I promised that I would help him.

So I began by checking airline flights from LA to Boston and considering how I would get him out of the hospital. As part of my research I got in touch with his family and found out why he had been hospitalized. It turned out that he had a brain tumor and that he was hallucinating. He was being held there, but for good reason.

Fast forward a few years. The first tumor has been taken care of and so has a second one, but there is a third event.

I am 29 now. I am married and have a little bit more life experience beneath my belt and I know that this time is different. I know that this time his life is in serious jeopardy and I am far more aware of it than I was before.

I receive word that the doctors consider him to be terminal. His family is going to bring him home for the final journey. I watch him deteriorate in front of me, his family and friends. I watch his parents deal with a pain that I can see in their eyes, but cannot imagine. And years later with the birth of my son I cry as I realize what loss they suffered.

His death comes after a relatively short period of time, but it feels like so much has gone by.

During his illness I have resumed asking G-d to do something to help. I have returned to the place where each day I spend precious moments begging G-d to spare him. If you can split the Red Sea, if you can cause manna to fall from heaven this should be easy.

I see no response. I hear no answers and I am angry. I begin to really speak my mind. I castigate G-d for being cold and uncaring. I yell and use the harshest terms. For a moment I think that I am overstepping my bounds and then I realize that I believe that he knows all of my thoughts anyway, so why hide.

The day of the funeral my friends and bury him. We watch his family’s most intimate moment of grief are displayed and we give all that we can by making sure that he is interred in the earth by people who knew him, who loved him and cared, not by strangers.

The cemetery is located next to my home. For a brief time I appoint myself his official caretaker and I visit his grave daily. I apologize for not being able to get through to G-d and not having been able to do more. And in the quiet stillness I ask Hashem why I couldn’t get an answer to my questions. Why couldn’t I be given something, some sign or acknowledgment of my presence. I feel badly because I feel like I was ignored and I wonder what I could have done differently and if it is selfish of me to feel this way.

Fast forward again to April of 2004. My father is ill. He is on his deathbed that is what the doctors have told me. They do not expect him to survive. I stand next to his bed and watch as he lies there unconscious. I do not know anyone stronger than my father. Mentally, physically he is unparalleled. I am a grown man, a father of one with another on the way and I feel so weak.

It is only because of the love I feel for him, for my mother, my sisters and my children, for our family that I am able to stand there and appear to be so passive.

At his bedside I beseech G-d to do something. But unlike before I am instantly angry because I remember being ignored and this time I will not accept that. I will not play Job or act like this is some kind of blessing. This is my father and I will be answered. I will be heard.

And in the quiet moments 3000 miles from home I battle for his life. I argue, I beg, I scream, I debate and demand that he be spared. It is too soon and too early for him to be taken.

Against the odds my father survives and comes home. I thank G-d. I thank G-d for everything. I thank G-d for having had experiences that helped to prepare me for this experience. I thank G-d for everything and I forgive G-d for not having responded to me earlier.

To some people this may sound rather trite. It may seem ridiculous and a little too easy, too much like a Hollywood ending. But my reality is that the day my father returned home I stopped feeling so angry and I was content.

I am in a place where I am comfortable and happy with my faith. It doesn’t mean that there are not times in which I question things or am upset, just that for now I am good and I am thankful for that.

(Cross posted on The Jewish Connection)

My List of Things About Me

I received a request to try and create list of things about myself. I don't have any real direction so I am going to just throw it out there and we'll see if it is remotely interesting.

  1. I have a problem with brevity, I am naturally long winded.
  2. Although I can be gregarious I can be exceptionally quiet.
  3. I can be the life of the party or the shyest guy in the room.
  4. I am a hopeless romantic.
  5. I love movies that have a character that has loved and lost- Casablanca and Unforgiven come to mind.
  6. I am exceptionally stubborn. I can maintain my position against the world, even at the expense of cutting off my nose to spite my face. I am working on that.
  7. I can bark like a dog. It sounds like a very large dog and I have used it on many occasions for many purposes.
  8. When I was 12 I called the police on the FBI.
  9. I was evacuated from a Forest Fire when I was 16 and have been through several major earthquakes.
  10. I used to be able to curl 150 pounds and benchpress more than 300. Now I find putting up 200 to be challenging.
  11. I am a Peace Corps baby. My parents met in Ecuador but I was born in Los Angeles.
  12. My first car was a 1969 Dodge Dart Swinger. That was followed by a 1977 Cheverolet Impala Station Wagon. Then I had a 1977 Camaro, it was Blue. That was followed by a 1990 Toyota Camry Station Wagon. That was followed by a 1996 Honda Accord and a 2000 Honda CRV.
  13. I took my Dart offroading, did donuts in the quad at my high school, drove through trash cans, shopping carts and endless other barriers that we would assemble.
  14. In high school I helped an underclassman sneak out by allowing him to hide in the trunk of the Dart. I didn't want to do it but he begged me for a month and I finally gave in. I drove for about 3 miles before I let him out, but not before I hit every speed bump and dip I could find. When he got out of the car he was covered in a ton of muck, not to mention some oil I kept in the trunk.
  15. I went to Israel for the first time in 1985. Before I left I made sure to get a haircut because I had heard that the barbers there were terrible. While in the chair I kept encouraging my barber to cut my hair really short. By the time he was done my head was shaved. My mother was furious.
  16. One of the guys in my group started calling me Rambo. When we met the other kids on the trip they wanted to know why that was my nickname. It didn't take long for us to make up all sorts of stupid stories about how I was in the army, or had saved a family at the airport from being robbed. None of them were true, but I thought that they were pretty cool. I was 16, what did I know.
  17. I am afraid of the dark and have been for as long as I can remember. I once tried to overcome my fear by walking alone at night through the woods for a couple of miles. It helped a little, but sometimes I still feel like that scared little boy.
  18. I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome. My biggest fear is that one day I won't make it to the bathroom in time. I have used all sorts of places and have some pretty good stories about my bathroom escapades.
  19. One morning when I was having trouble I pulled into the parking lot of a diner. The men's room was locked so I ran into the womens. Fortunately it was empty. While I was in the middle of my business two women walked in and spent a ridiculous amount of time primping and talking at the mirror. When they finally finished and left I ran out, washed my hands and ducked out of there. A policeman saw me walk out and stopped me. I didn't know how to respond to his questions so I answered him in Hebrew. He finally decided that I must not have spoken English and let me go.
  20. I could eat pizza every day and never get tired of it.
  21. In college I tore the doors off of a pick up truck at my fraternity house. It was an old truck that had been sitting out in the rain for about 5 years. It didn't work and no one wanted to take responsibility for getting rid of it. One day after having had my heart torn out by an ex-girlfriend I took out my frustration on the truck. It took me about an hour to kill the first door. I was surprised when the door came off and of course had to see if I could do the same to the other door. It only took 45 minutes to tear that one off.
  22. I love watching The Worlds Strongest Man Contests on ESPN. They are goofy, ridiculous, but oh so much fun.
  23. I loved Gladiator. One of my favorite movie lines is "Unleash Hell"
  24. Speaking of favorite quotes here are a few from Casablanca " "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine." "Rick: How long was it we had, honey?Ilsa: I didn't count the days.Rick: Well, I did. Every one of them. Mostly, I remember the last one, the wild finish. A guy standing on a station platform in the rain, with a comical look on his face, because his insides have been kicked out."
  25. I was in the pilot episode of a game show called "The Grudge Match." The show consisted of three rounds in which you fought an opponent. I was reluctantly matched up against a woman.The first round we had kind of a pillow fight. They gave us "pillow swords." I let her smack me with it a few times and then took it out of her and started to popping her with her sword and mine. Continued
  26. The next round we were given big sticks that had pillows on the ends, they looked like giant cue tips. She kept trying to hit me in the crotch with her stick and I kept shaking my head at her. Eventually I swept her legs out from under her and that ended the round.The final round was boxing. They gave her regulation 16 ounce gloves to use. I was given oversized 32 ounce gloves. Continued again
  27. They were monstrous and if i held them up I couldn't see her. I spent a large part of that round trying to avoid having to hit her, but she had no compunction about hitting me, especially below the belt. I finally got fed up with it and hit her back. I didn't hit her hard, but I would be lying if I said that I didn't get a little satisfaction out watchin her hit the canvas. There is only so many times that you can let someone do something like that before you react.
  28. In my life I have considered working as a sports writer, rabbi, lawyer and teacher.
  29. I once took out a singles ad. I got 24 responses and went out with 17 of the women who responded to my ad. For a brief time I dated 3 of them. It was cool because since they all had found me through the ad they knew that there were other women and no one gave me any grief about the others. Eventually I narrowed it down to one and had a girlfriend for about 8 months or so.
  30. If I was single again I would not use an ad. It was a ton of fun, but it was an incredible amount of work to date that many people. Too hard to get to know anyone seriously when there are so many others, but it was fun while it lasted.
  31. In college I lost a "push-up" contest. The goal was to do more consecutive push-ups then the others in the competition. I did a little more than 700. The winner did close to 850.
  32. I love to read anything and everything. My profile lists a very small selection of the authors I enjoy.
  33. I love history, it fascinates me.
  34. I wore glasses or contacts for 20 years. I had the lasik surgery four years ago and never looked back. It is amazing.
  35. I wish that I had James Earl Jones voice. I like mine, but his is on a different level.
  36. I have worked as a writer, editor, teacher, youth director, cross country coach, P.E. coach, sold copiers, ad space (online and print), run a marketing department and sold lemonade.
  37. Many years ago I was told that a great way to relieve stress was to just go outside and scream. I have never done this outside, but I admit to having done so in my car. And I admit to being scared at the outpouring of emotion. I always feel a little more vulnerable afterwards. FWIW, I don't think that I have done this more than three times and never while actually driving.
  38. I have been accused of being too intense. I have also been accused of not taking anything seriously. The answer lies in between.
  39. I have a body that was built for demolition, grace is not something that is used to describe me. I am not a klutz, I play many sports, some of them well, but I am just kind of big.
  40. I am a daydreamer. I love to spend time lost in thought about things, people, places and all sorts of stuff.
  41. I once believed that I would never be married and never be married. I have a bad case of wanderlust and I didn't think that I could be in one place with one person for any length of time.
  42. When I was younger sometimes I would get in my car and just drive until something caught my eye.
  43. I am a storyteller. I am good at coming up with stories off the cuff and just running with them.
  44. Everything in this list is true, but I have had to work hard at making sure I didn't include anything that was fabricated. I really wanted to and I may still do it yet.
  45. The best thing I have ever done in my life is become a parent. It is the hardest and the scariest, but still the best.
  46. I used to say that I wanted six children. I still do, but I am not sure that it is a reasonable goal.
  47. In college I told one of my girlfriends that I wanted to have six children. She told me that I was selfish and crazy, that it was unfair to ask one woman to bear that many children for me. I told her thatI told her that was very spiritual and that I would do as my forefathers did. I said that I would spare her the full load and offered to marry her and her two sisters. Not only did I offer my hand in marriage but health, retirement and vacation benefits.She didn't think that was funny. I still smile about it.
  48. The scariest thing about being a parent is my own memory of the things that I did. I cringe sometimes at the thought of my children doing as I did.
  49. I sometimes think that G-d gave me a daughter to punish/teach me a lesson. I love her dearly, but again when I think about boys/men and girls it makes me crazy. I work out harder so that when I am 50 those boys who come looking for my daughter will think twice about it. I don't really think that it will work, I never was intimidated by fathers, but maybe it will work for me. Who knows.
  50. I almost never proofread my posts. I don't spell check them and unless someone points out a mistake it sits there, a siren notifying the world of my silly error.
  51. I always wanted to be able to speak with an Irish accent. I don't know why, but I do. I can do a pretty good Southern accent. If I am speaking with someone with a drawl it just sneaks out of me. It can be strong enough to fool people into thinking that I am from Dixie. Of course they get a little irate when they hear me speak in my normal voice, but that is a story for a different day.
  52. I could extend this silly list of nonsense, but I am not sure that it is even worth posting so I'll cut it off here for now.

Fighting With Fools- Message boards

I have been involved in a number of different message boards. At one time or another I have been part of forums on CNN, the NY Times, ABC and a number of other places. And any time the topic of discussion was something that people feel passionately about the tone eventually grew quite ugly.

I can't think of a single place where flame wars didn't didn't spring up. And to those who know me it will not be surprising to read that I have been involved in some of those wars. I like a good debate. I like to challenge and be challenged, but all the same in time each one of those places went from being a placed I liked to frequent to something ugly and nasty.

The negativity and ugliness always began to wear me down because the dialogue just wasn't that interesting. It turned into something dull where ideas were no longer being exchanged, just insults.

Don't get me wrong, I admit to kind of enjoying that. I admit to being a button pusher and shitstirrer, not every time or in every instance, but I have had my share of fun making getting a rise out of people. And many have done it to me.

But the thing that really got to me, the one thing that just consistently bothered me were the racist views that would come out in these places from people I had thought were more thoughtful and moderate.

The outright racists were easy to deal with. They never hid their position, never dissembled or disguised their hatred. It was easy to handle that. But those closet cases were something else, they did bother me.

They did make me wonder how many people actually believe some of the crap that I was reading. And it made me wonder if there was any point all in debating with them. Was I accomplishing anything by trying to engage with them, trying to convince them to look at things a different way.

I am not sure that it was. I am not sure that it made a difference for them or for anyone who was lurking. Or maybe it did, I just don't know.

What I decided was that I would turn my focus from some of these venues and go elsewhere. And from time to time I would poke my head in and try to steer the conversation in different directions, I would try and correct misinformation on some topics. But I always reminded myself to not get caught up in these holes for too long. Too much negative energy.

The world can be so bright and so beautiful, but it can also be so very ugly.

Just Some Odds And Ends

"I used to be hell on wheels
back when i was younger man
now my body says, "you can't do this boy"

but my pride says, "oh, yes you can

I ain't as good as I once was
that's just the cold hard truth
I still throw a few back, talk a little smack
when I'm feelin bullet proof
so don't double dog dare me now
'cause I'd have to call your bluff
"
Toby Keith- As Good As I Once Was

I love that song, the lyrics just feel so, real. I am not old, not even close to it but I notice a few new aches and pains have made themselves at home. There are days where I can hear cracks, squeaks and other assorted noises come from various places around my body. I bruise more easily than I used to and the recovery time is a little bit longer, but overall I feel good.

I can't play ball every day without noticing the impact and effect the pounding has. By the end of the week my legs feel a little rubbery and my back aches, but to a certain extent that is due to the punishment I put myself through. When I play ball I play at one speed, full. It is the only way that I can keep up and frankly I get so little time on the court I am determined to play to near exhaustion. I love that high.

Tonight the Detroit Pistons went down in flames. They are a very good team, but they are not great, not even close to it. Last year they managed to beat my Lakers and it was a very bitter defeat because had the Lakers been injury free they would have prevailed, they lost to a team that was not as good as them, but I have to give the Pistons some credit because they were hungrier. They worked harder, outhustled the Lakers and they won.

But this year we saw them for what they were, a flash in the pan. A solid team that has shining moments, but is just not good enough to be considered great. But I respect their not giving up and their work ethic because talent is meaningless if you do not use it. If you are unwilling to work at it whatever talent you have is meaningless.

Today I encountered some people who made me shake my head. They justified terror, explained and excused the acts of people who murder indiscriminately. They tried to give license to these murderers because they cannot conceive of evil. They cannot imagine that people would murder others because of hatred. They pointed at the Holocaust and claimed that the numbers are unreal, that 6 million dead is propaganda, hype and hysteria.

They disappoint me and in truth today they hurt me. It doesn't happen all that often because I learned long ago that evil does exist, that there are people who would kill me, slaughter those I hold dear for the most trivial of reasons. It saddens me to admit that this blackness exists. Most of the time I feel like I walk in the sunshine, but there are times in which I enter the darkness and today was one of those moments.

I am irritated that the country is so polarized that just using certain expressions can negatively influence a person's proclivity to be open and understanding. Life is not always black and white, it is not always an "us versus them" world, but then again it is not all sunshine and roses either.

I don't have the energy to maintain this line of thought so I think that I'll try a a new post.

Supreme Court Rules Cities May Seize Homes

I find this to be very troubling. I understand that there may be reason for government to acquire property, but it should be limited in its ability to do so.

WASHINGTON - A divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses against their will for private development in a decision anxiously awaited in communities where economic growth often is at war with individual property rights.

The 5-4 ruling — assailed by dissenting Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as handing "disproportionate influence and power" to the well-heeled in America — was a defeat for Connecticut residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex. They had argued that cities have no right to take their land except for projects with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas.

As a result, cities now have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes in order to generate tax revenue."


The majority ruling took a tack that in concept I can agree with, that of the local leadership having a better grasp upon what would benefit a particular area, but I still find this to be troubling.

Writing for the court's majority in Thursday's ruling, Justice John Paul Stevens said local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community. States are within their rights to pass additional laws restricting condemnations if residents are overly burdened, he said.

"The city has carefully formulated an economic development that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including — but by no means limited to — new jobs and increased tax revenue," Stevens wrote in an opinion joined by Justice Kennedy, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Steven Breyer.

"It is not for the courts to oversee the choice of the boundary line nor to sit in review on the size of a particular project area," he said.

O'Connor, who has often been a key swing vote at the court, issued a stinging dissent, arguing that cities should not have unlimited authority to uproot families, even if they are provided compensation, simply to accommodate wealthy developers.

"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," she wrote. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."


Homes should not be taken just for the personal gain of someone and that is my concern, that this will be abused and misused.

Some might argue that compensation for the property should help to mitigate the damage but I am not sure that there is any truth to it. In the current real estate market it is questionable whether owners would receive enough to purchase a home of equivalent value and aside from that there are things that money cannot buy.

Do You Stand "In Line" or "On Line"

I am a native Californian, born and bred within the fine city of Los Angeles. During my travels to different places around the country and the world I have had to wait to get on planes, into movies, walk through airport security and been a member of lines to get into any number of places.

Most of the time I have had to wait "in-line" in spite of the attempts of some people to get me to wait "on-line" but I most definitely have never been part of the queue.

I have to say that I just don't like the term, "on-line" that is. When it comes to having to wait to enter somewhere it just feels awkward and unnatural to say that I am waiting "on-line" unless of course I am surfing the net.

To My Children

Dear children,

This is one of many letters that I am going to write to you about my experiences and thoughts about the journey we all share called life. Right now you are both quite young and this will not mean anything to you yet, but the time will come when you will see a need to read this.

I hope that when that time comes you will find hope, help, comfort and sustenance in this because I am forever your daddy and love you with a passion that I cannot ever adequately express.

In time you will both be in school and you will encounter the meat grinder we call peer pressure. Your friends and classmates will spend time telling you about themselves and their lives. Some of them will do it in a friendly, open way and others will not.

Some of them will try to influence you to do as they do, to dress as they do, speak as they do and act as they do. Sometimes this can be a good thing and sometimes it can be a bad thing. One of the most important things you can do is learn how to think for yourself and learn how to swim against the tide.

It won't always be necessary nor advisable to go your own way. Sometimes the smart course of action is to do what the majority does and sometimes it is absolutely the worst thing that you can do.

Your mother and I are not going to be there to hold your hand, so you have got to learn how to use your judgement. If we do our jobs you will be able to make those decisions, good, bad, hard or indifferent.

I want you to always remember to never stop learning. A solid, balanced education is critical. It is among the most important things that you can do because it will help provide you with tools that you can forever use.

In the future we are going to talk about your college education and what you need to do to be successful. But long before we get to that point I want you to remember something. Where you start is not as important as where you finish.

That means that if you go to a community college and then transfer to an Ivy league school no one will know that you spent any time at the community college. And for that matter there are advantages to going that route, but we'll talk about that later.

Something else to remember is that reputations are nice but they do not always live up to the hype, there are a lot of factors to consider. By this I mean the reputations that some schools get. They are not always deserved, but again this is a discussion for a later time and place.

For now I look forward to watching you grow and sharing your lives with you. I love you very much.

-Dad

Do You Represent All Jews

This was a 600 word rant that I just nuked because it wasn't flowing the way I wanted it to, so I started over. The question I posed in the title is Do you represent all Jews also known as do non-Jews make their evaluation/judgement of who Jews are based upon their experience with you.

It is an old discussion and one that in general I find to be very distasteful. There is something very wrong about basing an opinion about a group of people based upon the behavior of one person.

For example, it is wrong to judge all Black people based upon your opinion of Michael Jordan or for that matter Michael Jackson. I wouldn't do it and I am teaching my children to develop their thoughts/feelings/opinion about people based upon the person and not some shallow observation.

Yet it seems that all too frequently I have been engaged in a discussion by fellow MOTs about our responsibility to show the world who we are and what we are like. That if we act poorly, if we do not serve as a good dugma we are hurting other Jews.

It just irks me to no end. I'd say that I hate it but that is far too strong a word so I am not going to use it, but it gives a sense of just how distasteful I find this to be.

And now my sad confession. If I am reading the newspaper or listening to the news and I hear/read a Jewish sounding name I take an extra moment to find out what the story is. If the person that they speak of is a suspect or has been convicted of a crime I cross my fingers and hope that I find out that I am mistaken and that they are not a M.O.T. And of course if it is something cool than I want to hear that they are part of the tribe.

It is a bit of a contradiction, but that is part of being human, the desire to pick and choose, the will to take the good and eliminate the bad.

In a utopian society this dialogue wouldn't exist because we would not judge each other based upon anything but the merit/actions of the individual. Even though we do not live in that world now, there is no reason that we cannot work towards it.

We do not plant trees for ourselves, but for our children, grandchildren and the people that come after us.

(Cross posted on The Jewish Connection)

Grandfather kills leopard with his hands

If only Dr. Doolitle had been there to translate.

NAIROBI (Reuters) - A 73-year-old Kenyan grandfather reached into the mouth of an attacking leopard and tore out its tongue to kill it, authorities said Wednesday.

Peasant farmer Daniel M'Mburugu was tending to his potato and bean crops in a rural area near Mount Kenya when the leopard charged out of the long grass and leapt on him.

M'Mburugu had a machete in one hand but dropped that to thrust his fist down the leopard's mouth. He gradually managed to pull out the animal's tongue, leaving it in its death-throes.

"It let out a blood-curdling snarl that made the birds stop chirping," he told the daily Standard newspaper of how the leopard came at him and knocked him over.

The leopard sank its teeth into the farmer's wrist and mauled him with its claws. "A voice, which must have come from God, whispered to me to drop the panga (machete) and thrust my hand in its wide open mouth. I obeyed," M'Mburugu said.

As the leopard was dying, a neighbor heard the screams and arrived to finish it off with a machete.

M'Mburugu was toasted as a hero in his village Kihato after the incident earlier this month. He was also given free hospital treatment by astonished local authorities.

"This guy is very lucky to be alive," Kenya Wildlife Service official Connie Maina told Reuters, confirming details of the incident."

Giant Popsicle Floods Manhattan

And they say that weird things happen in Los Angeles.

"NEW YORK - An attempt to erect the world's largest Popsicle in a city square ended with a scene straight out of a disaster film — but much stickier.

The 25-foot-tall, 17 1/2-ton treat of frozen Snapple juice melted faster than expected Tuesday, flooding Union Square in downtown Manhattan with kiwi-strawberry-flavored fluid that sent pedestrians scurrying for higher ground.

Firefighters closed off several streets and used hoses to wash away the sugary goo.

Snapple had been trying to promote a new line of frozen treats by setting a record for the world's largest Popsicle, but called off the stunt before it was pulled fully upright by a construction crane. Authorities said they were worried the thing would collapse in the 80-degree, first-day-of-summer heat.

"What was unsettling was that the fluid just kept coming," Stuart Claxton of the Guinness Book of World Records told the Daily News. "It was quite a lot of fluid. On a hot day like this, you have to move fast."

Snapple official Lauren Radcliffe said the company was unlikely to make a second attempt to break the record, set by a 21-foot pop in Holland in 1997.

The giant pop was supposed to have been able to withstand the heat for some time, and organizers weren't sure why it didn't. It had been made in Edison, N.J., and hauled to New York by freezer truck in the morning."


A New Post on The Jewish Connection

Hi kids,

Just put up a new post for the Members of The Tribe to read. If you are MOT it might just tickle your fancy.

Words On A Page

 Added a few words on a page, some well written, some less so but all with purpose in mind. Can't win the Pulitzer every time, for certa...