"When you're in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, 'Damn, that was fun'." — Groucho Marx
What is A College Degree Worth
He has spent the past two years in a special Hebrew immersion program. He loves it and I have been so very pleased with the education he has been receiving. The program has been great. So when I found out that there was an opportunity to continue this program and to build upon it I had to investigate it.
It would be a shame to let these two years go to waste. Ok, I don't think that they would go to waste but the reality is that the developmentally he is at a place in which it is much easier to learn a foreign language. I think that there is so much to be gained by being bilingual. When you speak a different language you see the world differently and it opens your mind to new possibilities.
But the chance to continue the Hebrew immersion is not enough to secure a vote of confidence. What sold me on the school was the academics. It offers so much, so very much more than I had access to and that excites me.
Yet, the price of the school concerns me. I cannot do for one child and not for the other and I do not see how I can look at this as being any less than a decades long financial commitment. Add to that my feelings about college and I wonder what this is worth. What price am I willing to pay for my children's education.
And then I shake my head and smile. My prince and my princess, they are royalty to me. They are everything. I have so very many hopes and dreams for them and while I am careful not to spoil them with material gifts there are some things that I would give them without hesitation and an education is one of them.
What finer gift can I provide. What better way to shower them with my love and affection than to provide them the best that I can in an education. There is no replacement for a good education. It offers the keys to life. As hokey as that sounds I believe that.
I am responsible for trying to help them navigate life as menschen and I know that this school does offer programs that strive to teach the children how to be citizens of the world, to engage in tikkun olam and to do what they can to make life better for everyone.
But part of the lesson of life is found in consumption and financial responsibility. Is it financially responsible for me to take this on. It could impact me in many ways for many years and it could impinge upon my ability to do other things that they might enjoy, but it might not.
They both are smarter than I am. I see it, I know it. I am not a stupid man and I can generally hold my own, but they exceed me and that makes my heart swell with pride. How can I not be proud. How can I not smile at my progeny and how can I deny them this opportunity.
In case you are wondering about the relation of the title of the post here is how it ties in. I have come to believe that while a college degree is quite important where it comes from does not have as much distinction education wise as some people would like us to believe.
You may have a degree from Harvard, but after a little time in the working world that degree means less and less. However, the Harvard grad will likely have a better network of contacts to rely upon than others and that is worth something.
There are a lot of very fine musicians, writers and artists in the world whose works are never seen, never read and never heard because they cannot make the connections they need to get to that next place. It is not nice and it is not fair, but the reality is that who you know is sometimes more important than what you know.
My hope and fervent desire is that my children always earn their stripes but I would be lying if I said that I wasn't interested in trying to make their lives easier.
Things that Frighten Me
This a list of things that have frightened me in my life. Some are still relevant and some are not. But I thought that it might be interesting to just throw them all out there to see what they look like during daylight hours. P.S. I have explanations for all of these, but I may not include them on the list. Why? I just don't feel like it. :)
- The Dark
- The Amityville Horror scared me.
- Oscar the Grouch
- Bigfoot- The one from the Bionic Man television Show. He gave Steve Austin plenty of trouble.
- The Creature in the Legend of Boggy Creek
- A couple of dogs that chased me on my paper route.
- The homeless guy from the park.
- V.L.- He and I got into a fight in high school. I pretty much kicked his ass up and down the corridor, but I do remember shaking with adrenalin afterwards. For about two weeks I was concerned that I was going to have to face him and his older brother again.
- Having my heart broken again
- Breaking someone's heart
- Not being able to provide for my family
- Letting my children down
- Not making it to the bathroom in time.
- Finding out that I have a child that I didn't know about.- Ladies this is never a problem for you, but we men wonder about this sometimes.
- Being mugged at an ATM- When I was in college a guy was murdered at the ATM I used that day. It was several hours after I had used it, but....
- Something happening to my children.
- Getting stuck at a job I hate
- Never living out my dreams.
- Being paralyzed
- Losing a parent/close friend or family member- Actually I have lost several friends and family members, but it is still a fear.
- Losing my perspective on life and why most of these things are nonsense.
Faith Versus Science
I find some of these arguments to be tedious because they begin and end with statements of "I know that this is true" and tend to be based upon the believers claim to be in touch with the real "truth" of the world.
A common example is found in "I know that G-d exists and if you do not it is only because you are intentionally not open to him/her/it."
Look, I believe in G-d because of faith. I believe that G-d makes sense because I exist, you exist, my children, this blog, animals, the universe etc exist and it makes sense to me that a higher power created it. But even with the empirical evidence of life that I cited, I don't expect that to be enough for proof based upon scientific testing.
This is my own thing, but I really don't have a problem with seeing the world as incorporating a blend of science and faith. That means that I don't take every word of the Torah as being literal. I am not a literalist. I see room for interpretation and I see how that interpretation can change based upon evidence developed by scientists.
It reminds me of an old joke that goes something like this. Congregants at a local synagogue have an ongoing debate about whether to rise or sit for a certain section of the liturgy.
One half claims that they have always stood and the other claims that they have always sat. The debate rages on until they can’t take it any longer and demand that the rabbi resolve it.
His solution is to go ask the oldest congregant 96 year-old Abe Goldberg what the tradition was to which Goldberg responds, "the tradition is that we fight over this every year."”
The point being that people like to think of themselves as living life a certain way and that their way is one, correct true way when often there are multiple ways to do things and when you try to make it a black and white world you often get hit with an awful lot of shades of grey.
Ok, now I am not sure if any of this made sense to anyone but me, but I get it which is good, because I wrote it.
Who is To Plame for This
But more than that I wonder about Robert Novak and why his name has almost entirely disappeared from the conversation. Is he completely blameless here. Does he share any responsibility whatsoever for revealing her name or is he protected by his press credentials.
I also have a few questions for Judith Miller regarding why she went to jail and what her role is in this.
For those of you who have questions about overall situation you might want to take a look at this link to the Washington Post site. It is a Q&A about what is happening.
Here are a few more clips. Some may be more risque so consider yourself forewarned. Some of these come from some of my favorite movies.
Land War In Asia
Trying to Pick Up Women
Three Up and Three Down
White Man In Dire Need
I could Have Been A Contender
It is Almost Erev Halloween- A Few Thoughts
I once heard Rabbi Ed Feinstein give a sermon in which he outlined some compelling reasons for taking our children out and wanted to share some of it with you.
"I take my kids trick-or-treating on Halloween. The truth is that you don't find many rabbis out on Halloween. Many of my congregants are surprised, even upset, to find their rabbi and his kids in costume celebrating a holiday that has definite Christian and pagan origins. And my kids certainly don't need any more candy in their daily diet. But something remarkable happens on Halloween, something I want my kids to see: On Halloween, we open our homes to one another. On Halloween, we come out from behind solid-core doors and dead-bolts locks and electronic burglar alarms. The doorbell is met, not with a gruff "Whose there?" and a suspicious eye in the peep-hole, but with a smile and sweets. On Halloween, and only on Halloween, we pretend we are a neighborhood again...families from disparate background who share common civic values, making life together in a common space. If only once a year, I want my kids to see what it's like when fear subsides, and people trust one another enough to open their doors."Sadly there is so much truth in that. There are fewer and fewer neighborhoods that have that open, friendly, Leave it To Beaver feel in which you can let your children play unattended in the front of the house.
All too often you only know the neighbors on either side of you and you just barely recognize the man/woman down the street. So I see a lot of value in being able to show the kids something out of my past because I walked to school and reached a point at which my friends and I were allowed to trick or treat by ourselves. That is not something that my children are going to share with me and I am saddened by it.
Here is another snippet of the speech.
"The most destructive disease in America, wrote the New Republic magazine some years ago, is not AIDS, but "AFRAIDS" -- the pervasive fear of violence that steals away our freedom, our sense of community, our trust. What happens to a city when everyone is afraid of everyone else? What happens to us -- to our souls -- to our children, when fear of violence is constant and pervasive? Bombarded by a daily litany of baby-snatching, berserk gunmen, child molesters, drive-by shootings, school shootings, police shootings, what happens to us? what happens to our children?"This is something that I do wonder about. I have a hard time believing that things are so much worse now than they were. Part of me expects, or should I suspects that the vast amount of instant information (read news) has made some events seem to be far more prevalent then they used to be in the past because the sad reality is that pedophiles, rapists and murderers have always been here.
But while I will go to great lengths to give to my children I am not willing to take certain risks because every time I think of the final line of that speech it resonates with me
"When they finally fell asleep, my wife and I dumped out all the candy on the kitchen table, to inspect each and every piece for needle marks and razor blades and the pernicious, poisonous tampering of some sick mind. God help us."So we do what we can to keep them safe and to provide a normal life because what else can you do. I try to do what I can to be a good neighbor and look out for those around here not just because it is my neighborhood but because if you do it here there is a chance that it might spread. A viral infection of positive action.
Last year some teenage boys and I had a little stand-off. They were stealing pumpkins and smashing them. I would be less then forthcoming if I said that I hadn't engaged in my share of juvenile behavior, but at the same time I understood that there were risks involved.
Boys, I am going to be looking for you again this year and I will not hesitate to stop you but let me give you fair warning. A couple of the other fellows around the 'hood have paintguns and have decided that it might be fun to try and decorate those people who look for tricks and not treats.
One more note in honor of Halloween I remind you of the story I blogged about earlier this year:
R2D2'S X-RATED STAR WARS COSTUME
See you all later. Ok, maybe one more South Park clip.
The DovBear Dance Does Exist
It is why I remember the guy that tried to sleep with my girlfriend in 1988 and I still think about punching him in the mouth. Ok, that guy was a jackass who had a history of being a jerk to me and my friends that began long before '88 and he really does deserve a swift kick in the ass.
In case you are curious I have run into him on a number of occasions and never have touched him but then again I don't even acknowledge him and the truth of the matter is that unless there is some reason to think about him, I don't. That incident irked me, but I can't really say that it still bothers me.
Life experience has taught me how to get beyond it and I have, but there are some other wounds that never healed as well as they could have. What I am saying folks is that I have a little baggage and that sometimes it floats to the surface.
The past two weeks have been rough. Some of those suitcases have fallen out of the attic and are banging around the living room. I made a foolish mistake today. It was bush league and just dumb, but it is one of those things that you have to put behind you. I did, but it took me a long time, much longer than normal.
I am feeling a little beat up. I am not as tough mentally as I want to be and right now I am seeing the impact and effect. I'll get beyond this because that is what I do. Ultimately I am a crusty old curmudgeon and a street fighter. I get over the humps in life because that is what I want to do and how I live.
It might be easier if I didn't feel like I was getting pelted with small rocks and didn't keep tripping and rolling down the bumpy incline. My knees are skinned, my pride is wounded and my confidence is shaken but not stirred. I'll recover because sometimes there is no choice.
But more than anything else, the look that I recieve from my children reminds me that there are people who think that I am superman and for them I can take the bullet and make it bounce off of my chest.
Life is tough, but I am tougher. All I need to do to really start cooking again is to just let go.
Arab States Silent on Iran's Remarks
They should have said something publicly, assuming that they disagree with this statement. Here is a snippet from the story.
"CAIRO, Egypt - Arab governments remained silent Thursday as international condemnation grew over a call by Iran's new president forIsrael to be destroyed. Despite the silence, analysts in the region said Tehran's Arab rivals may quietly be pleased to see the radical regime further isolated by its extremism.
However, some Palestinians — who would have the task of destroying Israel according to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — rejected the remarks.
"We have recognized the state of Israel and we are pursuing a peace process with Israel, and ... we do not accept the statements of the president of Iran," Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said. "This is unacceptable."
European governments condemned Ahmadinejad's comments, with British Prime Minister Tony Blair saying they increased concerns the clerical regime is a threat to global security and may even trigger pleas for pre-emptive action against Iran.
"I have never come across a situation (with) the president of a country saying they want to wipe out" another nation, Blair told reporters Thursday.
French President Jacques Chirac called the remarks "completely irresponsible" and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed "dismay" at them, in a rare rebuke of a U.N. member state.
In contrast, newspapers across the Middle East reported Wednesday's speech by Ahmadinejad without comment, many of them on their front pages.
Egyptian Foreign Ministry and Cabinet officials said Cairo would have nothing to say on the address.
Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Muasher also declined comment, apparently to avoid further aggravating relations with Iran, which the kingdom has accused of interfering in Iraq to strengthen the Shiite influence in the Middle East.
Analysts said Ahmadinejad's uncompromising line highlighted Iran's differences with other Middle East governments and will make it easier for the international community to take a tough line against Iran for its defiant nuclear policy.
Mohammed Wahby, a former diplomat and member of the Egyptian Council on Foreign Affairs, said it was a mistake to remain quiet about the speech, which he said undermined Mideast peace prospects.
"Recognizing Israel as an integral part of the Middle East is no longer in doubt," he said, saying Iran was only encouraging hard-liners on both sides.
Mustafa Hamarneh, head of the Strategic Studies Center at the University of Jordan, agreed that Ahmadinejad was out of step, especially with the Palestinians.
"He's an ideologue who shot from the cuff; it was not a studied statement," Hamarneh said.
Iran's threatening stance also was counterproductive to its own interests, said Wahby. It reinforces the notion that its nuclear program is aimed at developing weapons despite claims that it is meant exclusively for peaceful power generation.
"Such statement by Tehran will encourage Israel to cling to its nuclear arsenal," Wahby said."
"An Undue Fear Of Islam"
"An Islamist group named Hizb ut-Tahrir seeks to bring the world under Islamic law and advocates suicide attacks against Israelis. Facing proscription in Great Britain, it opened a clandestine front operation at British universities called "Stop Islamophobia," the Sunday Times has disclosed.
Stop what, you ask?
Coined in Great Britain a decade ago, the neologism Islamophobia was launched in 1996 by a self-proclaimed "Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia." The word literally means "undue fear of Islam" but it is used to mean "prejudice against Muslims" and joins over 500 other phobias spanning virtually every aspect of life.
The term has achieved a degree of linguistic and political acceptance, to the point that the secretary-general of the United Nations presided over a December 2004 conference titled "Confronting Islamophobia" and in May a Council of Europe summit condemned "Islamophobia."
The term presents several problems, however. First, what exactly constitutes an "undue fear of Islam" when Muslims acting in the name of Islam today make up the premier source of worldwide aggression, both verbal and physical, versus non-Muslims and Muslims alike? What, one wonders, is the proper amount of fear?"
Read the entire piece and see what you think. There is a lot of food for thought there and another reminder of the need for critical thinking and logical analysis about the information that we are presented with.
Lost & Lonely
There were about 50 or 60 other prospective parents there, each one of us was actively and attentively listening to each speaker. We toured the facility, asked questions and tried to do our best to make an honest assessment of the school and whether it would be the best place for our children.
For the purpose of this post that is neither here nor there. What I want to write about is in the title, Lost and Lonely. It was uttered at a party many years ago by a very drunk and very sad boy who couldn't see his way to being happy.
That boy was me. I was 20 years-old and heartbroken over a girl that had dumped me. Now what relevance does this story have to the initial description of the open house. Well this is how it fits in.
Today I saw the woman I said that to for the first time since that night. She is not the ex. She is not even someone I dated and I am not sure that she even remembers the evening that this went down.
But I do.
I had forgotten about it. It is a long since buried memory of a place and time in my life that doesn't exist anymore and I am ok with that.
What caught my attention was two things. First, that when I saw her I remembered the evening and second that I was bothered by it, not tremendously, but a little.
She sat next to me on a couch and listened to my sad sordid tale of lost love and how I declared that I would never get married and certainly never fall in love again. She heard me repeat that I was lost and lonely and she told me to buck up and that things would get better and then our paths went their separate ways and that was it.
So why was I bothered by this memory. I think that if anything I was a little embarrassed by it. She didn't mention it and perhaps she doesn't even remember but I do and somethings stick with you.
I remember that night and I remember feeling lost and lonely, but I am not anymore.
In the interim I am most interested in screaming at the banks who have arbitrarily and unnecessarily attached a fee to use their ATMs. Greed has gotten the best of them and so they have applied a fee to something that was introduced to help them save money.
Those of you who are old enough to remember gas lines in the '70s probably recall that when you needed cash you had a couple of choices, cashing a check at a local store or visiting the bank. The emergence of ATMs was provided as a cost saving and convenience gesture by the banks.
In theory they cut down on the length of the lines in the bank and assisted in increasing the productivity of the tellers by reducing the number of people that they had to deal with. But the ATMs showed up and some of the tellers disappeared.
And then to add insult to injury the greedy bastards added a fee to use their machines because everyone knows that it costs an exponential amount of money to provide an ATM.
For those of you keeping score you can see that the banks saved money by cutting personnel (no salary or benefits) and then padded their savings with the fee. Lovely people.
Another Reason Why I am Done With the French
""If these comments are true, they are unacceptable. I condemn them with the greatest firmness," French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said."What the hell is wrong with him. His suggestion that they may not be factual is reprehensible.
British Sensibilities or Lack Thereof
"A poem which praises the murder of Jews by the Nazis has been included in a book of children’s poetry to be distributed amongst schools in the UK.And then there is this little gem:
The publication, entitled Great Minds, features the work of school children aged 11 to 18 who won a nationwide literary competition.
But one poem has generated outrage amongst Jewish groups, politicians and Holocaust charities for its anti-Semitic content.
The entry by the 14-year-old Gideon Taylor is apparently written from the viewpoint of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
It includes the lines "Jews are here, Jews are there, Jews are almost everywhere, filling up the darkest places, evil looks upon their faces."
Another part reads: "Make them take many paces for being one of the worst races, on their way to a gas chamber, where they will sleep in their manger… I'll be happy Jews have died."
Publisher defends poem
The book was produced by Forward Press who ran the Great Minds competition through its youngwriters.co.uk website.
Wining entries were rewarded with cash prizes of up to 20ukp for pupils and 1,000ukp for schools.
According to the Jewish Telegraph newspaper, the poem was the only entry in the entire book not to include the writer’s school or location.
Young Writers editor Steve Twelvetree, who also edited the book, said the poem was included as it illustrated how the writer was able to empathise with the infamous Nazi Fuehrer.
Twelvetree told the Telegraph: "From Gideon's poem and my knowledge of the National Curriculum Key Stage 3 his poem shows a good use of technical writing and he has written his poem from the perspective of Adolf Hitler.” "
Piggy banks 'offend UK Muslims'
British banks are banning piggy banks because they may offend some Muslims.
Halifax and NatWest banks have led the move to scrap the time-honoured symbol of saving from being given to children or used in their advertising, the Daily Express/Daily Star group reports here.
Muslims do not eat pork, as Islamic culture deems the pig to be an impure animal.
Salim Mulla, secretary of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, backed the bank move.
"This is a sensitive issue and I think the banks are simply being courteous to their customers," he said.
However, the move brought accusations of political correctness gone mad from critics.
"The next thing we will be banning Christmas trees and cribs and the logical result of that process is a bland uniformity," the Dean of Blackburn, Reverend Christopher Armstrong, said.
"We should learn to celebrate our difference, not be fearful of them."
Am I the only one shaking my head over this. Something is not right.
Cell Phone Hell
Even though the auto accident was not my fault my insurance company has said that they will not cover the replacement cost of the cellphone. I contacted the other party's insurance carrier and have asked them to cover the cost of the replacement, but I have yet to hear back from them.
The adjuster who is handling things for them hasn't returned a telephone call in three days. She has until noon today and if I have not heard from her I will go over her head and make life less comfortable for her. I hate having to do things like that, a simple telephone call would have satisfied me but now all she has done is aggravate me unnecessarily.
In case you are wondering my cellphone provider will not provide a replacement phone unless I chose to pay for it. At the time that I acquired my last phone they offered me a monthly insurance plan of $5.99. In ten years of cellphone ownership I had never lost or broken a phone so I thought that it was silly to pay $72 more each year for that service.
All this brings me back to the topic of the post, cell phone hell. I say hell because it feels like I am one of the damned. I have grown so accustomed or should I say addicted to having a phone I cannot help but notice that I really miss it.
And all around me I see all of the various cell phone service providers offering free phones, but there is a catch. Those phones are only available to new customers. The existing customers don't get a free phone or any sort of free upgrade. They get the privilege of being able to purchase the phone at a discount and the discount is almost always tied into extending your contract for another year or more.
Somewhere I hear Satan laughing. I feel the heat of his breath and I know that he is taunting me because those new phones are better than what I had. They offer new features and bells and whistles that amaze and delight.
I cannot help but be irritated that T-Mobile wants me to pay $250 for a phone that they will give away as part of activation of a new line of service. Something in this relationship smells, it stinks. It is a rotten way of doing business and I have to admit that because of my frustration with it all I am tempted to pay the early termination fee and then just sign up with a new provider who will give me one of those free phones I see all around me.
Halloween is coming and instead of the thump thump of the tell-tale heart I hear the electronic ring of a phone. It haunts me yet.
Iran Stokes The Flames
"TEHRAN, Iran - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared Wednesday that Israel is a "disgraceful blot" that should be "wiped off the map" — fiery words that Washington said underscores its concern over Iran's nuclear program.
Ahmadinejad's speech to thousands of students at a "World without Zionism" conference set a hard-line foreign policy course sharply at odds with that of his moderate predecessor, echoing the sentiments of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of Iran's Islamic revolution.
The United States said Ahmadinejad's remarks show that Washington's fears about Iran's nuclear program are accurate.
"I think it reconfirms what we have been saying about the regime in Iran," White House press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters in Washington. "It underscores the concerns we have about Iran's nuclear intentions."
This is most troubling but sadly not surprising. There are so many little things that could be mentioned here. A conference called a World Without Zionism smacks of being more than Anti-Israel. How can I as a politically aware member of the world and a Jew not be concerned with this kind of rhetoric. How can I ignore it.
And consider that this takes place in light of the recent withdrawal from Gaza. After all of the pain and anguish there this is almost like salt in the wounds.
Did you notice his threat against countries that try to normalize relations with Israel.
"Ahmadinejad also condemned Iran's neighbors which seek to break new ground in their relations with Israel. "Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury," state-run television quoted him as saying.
Relations between Israel and several Persian Gulf states have been thawing amid Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Stripin September. Bahrain announced in September it was ending a decades-old law banning trade ties with Israel. In October, Qatar said it was donating $6 million to help build a soccer stadium for a mixed Arab-Jewish team, the first such financial assistance by an Arab state for any town inside Israel."
It is hard to be optimistic when you read/hear about things like this.
Add to this the recent report that Iran is allowing Al-Qaeda agents to roam freely and you can see the beginning of the next battle forming.
BERLIN (Reuters) - Iran is permitting around 25 high-ranking al Qaeda members to roam free in the country's capital, including three sons of Osama Bin Laden, a German monthly magazine reported on Wednesday.
Citing information from unnamed Western intelligence sources, the magazine Cicero said in a preview of an article appearing in its November edition that the individuals in question are from Egypt, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia and Europe.
They are living in houses belonging to Iran's Revolutionary Guards, the report said.
"This is not incarceration or house arrest," a Western intelligence agent was quoted as saying. "They can move around as they please."
If this is true then we may very well see military action taken against Iran. Personally I suspect that it is more likely to happen than not. I am not pleased by that, but sometimes circumstances force your hand.
Tags:News and politics,Israel, Iran
Values & Things I Think about
There are a few things in life that I just believe in. One of those is G-d. I believe in a higher power. I don't need a burning bush or time on a mountain top to make me believe that there is something more powerful out there.
But I don't need that belief to make me act ethically and morally. I don't need the threat of punishment to make me do the right thing. Actually those of you who know me understand that telling me to do something is the fastest way to make me do the opposite, I have been known to cut my nose to spite my face.
It makes perfect sense to me to do the best I can to be moral and ethical in my life because it improves the world around me. When I am good it makes the world a nicer place. Generally when you smile at people they smile back at you. When you treat people well they treat you well.
It doesn't translate this way 100% of the time. Some people will screw you every which way they can. Some people are going to take advantage of any situation. I recognize that and understand it.
The way I see things it doesn't really matter if there is an afterlife because I don't know any more than the next person if it exists. I suspect that it might and hope that it does, but in the end I live in the here and now and that makes somethings very clear.
One of those is that there is nothing lost by being good and much to be gained. If I die and that is the end of the story than what has happened? Nothing bad that I can see.
The most important task in my life is to make my children into good people of character and integrity and to teach them to make a difference in the world. Everything else is secondary to this.
Comments, questions, thoughts?
Sorted and Mute
The words that they really want to use are: sordid and moot. The following information was pulled from Answers.com.
- Filthy or dirty; foul.
- Depressingly squalid; wretched: sordid shantytowns.
- Morally degraded: “The sordid details of his orgies stank under his very nostrils” (James Joyce). See synonyms at mean2.
- Exceedingly mercenary; grasping.
[Middle English sordide, festering, purulent, from Latin sordidus, dirty, from sordēre, to be dirty.]
- Law. A hypothetical case argued by law students as an exercise.
- An ancient English meeting, especially a representative meeting of the freemen of a shire.
- To bring up as a subject for discussion or debate.
- To discuss or debate. See synonyms at broach1.
- Law. To plead or argue (a case) in a moot court.
- Subject to debate; arguable: a moot question.
- Law. Without legal significance, through having been previously decided or settled.
- Of no practical importance; irrelevant.
[Middle English, meeting, from Old English mōt, gemōt.]moot'ness n.
USAGE NOTE The adjective moot is originally a legal term going back to the mid-16th century. It derives from the noun moot, in its sense of a hypothetical case argued as an exercise by law students. Consequently, a moot question is one that is arguable or open to debate. But in the mid-19th century people also began to look at the hypothetical side of moot as its essential meaning, and they started to use the word to mean “of no significance or relevance.” Thus, a moot point, however debatable, is one that has no practical value. A number of critics have objected to this use, but 59 percent of the Usage Panel accepts it in the sentence The nominee himself chastised the White House for failing to do more to support him, but his concerns became moot when a number of Republicans announced that they, too, would oppose the nomination. When using moot one should be sure that the context makes clear which sense is meant.
Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire
(CNN) -- Rosa Parks, whose act of civil disobedience in 1955 inspired the modern civil rights movement, died Monday in Detroit, Michigan. She was 92.
Parks' moment in history began in December 1955 when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama.
Her arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system by blacks that was organized by a 26-year-old Baptist minister, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.The boycott led to a court ruling desegregating public transportation in Montgomery, but it wasn't until the 1964 Civil Rights Act that all public accommodations nationwide were desegregated.
Facing regular threats and having lost her department store job because of her activism, Parks moved from Alabama to Detroit in 1957. She later joined the staff of U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat.
Conyers, who first met Parks during the early days of the civil rights struggle, recalled Monday that she worked on his original congressional staff when he first was elected to the House of Representatives in 1964.
"I think that she, as the mother of the new civil rights movement, has left an impact not just on the nation, but on the world," he told CNN in a telephone interview. "She was a real apostle of the nonviolence movement."
He remembered her as someone who never raised her voice -- an eloquent voice of the civil rights movement.
"You treated her with deference because she was so quiet, so serene -- just a very special person," he said, adding that "there was only one" Rosa Parks."
I Have Been "Yanked"
The challenge is to get to the gym and get in as many games as possible before I have to run home because if I come home too late I miss having dinner with my children and it is important to me to eat as a family.
In order to save time I will occasionally skip showering at the gym and go straight home. Last night was one of those nights in which I chose to do so.
When I got home I shouted hello at everyone and immediately stepped into the shower. Three minutes later I was soapfree and on my way to the bedroom to change into my evening lounge attire and that is when it happened.
I had just taken off my towel when my 15 month old daughter reached up and found a new handlebar to hold on to. You'd think that after Trep's post on a somewhat similar incident I might have been prepared for it, but I wasn't.
That little girl ambushed me and then pulled with all her might so that she might swing like Tarzan on a vine. I don't know if I squawked, squealed or screamed, but I do know that whatever I did made her laugh, hard. And because I am a quick learner I made sure to remove her hand and move out of her reach because I knew that she would try to see if she could make her father make the funny noise again and I wasn't having any part of it.
All I know is that if I were made of the same material as Stretch Armstrong I would be able to wear that thing as a belt or necktie.
To add insult to injury my son saw the whole thing and also laughed with glee yelling "daddy got yanked." This commentary brought up other issues so I sat down with him that evening to discuss what happened and to hopefully make sure he doesn't run around telling everyone he sees that "daddy got yanked" because I can only imagine what kind of chaos that would cause.
Phrases You Used to Find My Blog
men and emotions
MEANING OF DNA
Ice cream and pickles
meaning of yahoo
meaning of sith
brad pit naked
meaning of darth vader
jack can love you better
tai kwon leap
Who achieved the longest guitar marathon by an individual, which lasted for 42 hours and included 800 songs in an assortment of 16 different musical styles
why men won't reveal their emotions
What I am Reading Now
The Jew in the Lotus : Poet's Re-Discovery of Jewish Identity in Buddhist India
I have found it to be very interesting and enjoyable. Here is a sample of what is waiting to be read by me:
GettysburgThat really is a partial list. I have more books than time but I do plan on getting through them. Prior to my kids being born I read voraciously, there were months in which I might consume 7 or 8 books, but these days I have slowed down exponentially.
Straken (High Druid of Shannara, Book 3)
A Game of Thrones
The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution
Unless it really grabs me I find that it takes me quite some time to finish a book, but I still very much enjoy it.
Delay's Foolish Grin
My Own Worst Enemy
My problem is that my archnemesis knows everything about me, how I think, how I move, my favorites. No one knows me better than this dude and because of his amazing insight he always is a problem.
And that problem is me. I am my own worst enemy. I have an overactive mind that absorbs and retains too much criticism. I am not good at letting things go. When bad or frustrating things happen they linger and the institutional memory of such events crops up at inopportune times and places.
Life is cyclical and so my internal battles with my own inner demons have had their ups and downs. But right now I am feeling beat up. I am searching for the edge of the clouds. I am looking for daylight and right now all I see is darkness.
From past history I know that this will change and that things will get better. But at the moment that offers little to no solace.
I am my own worst enemy.
Does Religion Matter Any More?
"I fear that humanity is innately too irrational to shake off the idea of God and I fear that it will be the end of us. We are a clever species but we are also an incredibly stupid one. We have developed the knowledge and reason to develop nuclear weapons yet we have retained the irrationality to use them against people who don’t believe as we do. I am coming to the opinion that belief in God is a Grand illusion – a Grand Delusion – that as a species we would be better off without."Ok, it is the argument that the world would be better off without religion. She is not the first person to voice this point of view but I am not sure that agree with it. In the comments I provided a very simplistic response.
"We could make an argument that religion is one of the worst things ever to happen to man and we could make the same argument that it is one of the best. All depends on your perspective."To which she said
"Really...? I'd like to hear the argument that it's one of the best things to happen to us...The purpose of this post is not to proselytize, it is to think so I am not going to focus too much on one specific religion. However I would be negligent not to mention that Judaism requires thought and discussion on what she calls the awkward questions. I am curious to hear your perspective here.
I tend to look at things quite simply. One of the things I ask is: Is this true? Other things I ask are: Is this useful? Is this harmful?
I'm afraid IMO that religion doesn't come out well when you ask these kind of questions. Actually religion doesn't do very well when you ask ANY questions. The more questions you ask the worse it gets.
That's a major reason why I just can't accept religion as part of my life. It would mean I'd have to stop asking awkward questions."
Is religion an anachronism or is it something that is still relevant?
Sex in Space and Other Stories
Out-of-this-world sex could jeopardise missions
"Sex and romantic entanglements among astronauts could derail missions to Mars and should therefore be studied by NASA, warns a top-level panel of US researchers.
NASA plans to return astronauts to the Moon by 2018 and later on to Mars. But a round-trip mission to the Red Planet would probably last at least 30 months and carry six to eight people. That would be a hotbed for intense crew relationships, says a report by the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS).
"With the prospect of a very long-term mission, it's hard to ignore the question of sexuality," says Lawrence Palinkas, a medical anthropologist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, an author of the report. It reviewed NASA's plans for research to keep astronauts safe and healthy in space – but the plans make no mention of sexual issues in spaceflight.
Palinkas says long-term space missions may be similar to extended periods in the isolated and confined environments of Antarctic research stations. He says crews in those stations often pair up in "bachelor marriages" that last the length of their stay – or less. "If there are instances of sexual conflict or infidelity, that may lead to a breakdown in crew functioning," he told New Scientist.
"Breakups can lead to violence and all kinds of things," agrees Carol Rinkleib Ellison, a psychologist specialising in sexuality and intimacy based in Oakland, California, US, who was not part of the NAS panel. "People are very primitive in their emotions around partnering and sex."
Sexual harassment may also endanger a mission. In an 8-month space station simulation on Earth in 2000, a Russian man twice tried to kiss a Canadian woman researcher just after two other Russians had gotten into a bloody brawl. As a result, locks were installed between the Russian and international crews' compartments."
Accidental Invention Points to End of Light Bulbs
Accidental Invention Points to End of Light Bulbs
The main light source of the future will almost surely not be a bulb. It might be a table, a wall, or even a fork.
An accidental discovery announced this week has taken LED lighting to a new level, suggesting it could soon offer a cheaper, longer-lasting alternative to the traditional light bulb. The miniature breakthrough adds to a growing trend that is likely to eventually make Thomas Edison's bright invention obsolete.
LEDs are already used in traffic lights, flashlights, and architectural lighting. They are flexible and operate less expensively than traditional lighting.
Michael Bowers, a graduate student at Vanderbilt University, was just trying to make really small quantum dots, which are crystals generally only a few nanometers big. That's less than 1/1000th the width of a human hair.
Quantum dots contain anywhere from 100 to 1,000 electrons. They're easily excited bundles of energy, and the smaller they are, the more excited they get. Each dot in Bower's particular batch was exceptionally small, containing only 33 or 34 pairs of atoms.
When you shine a light on quantum dots or apply electricity to them, they react by producing their own light, normally a bright, vibrant color. But when Bowers shined a laser on his batch of dots, something unexpected happened.
"I was surprised when a white glow covered the table," Bowers said. "The quantum dots were supposed to emit blue light, but instead they were giving off a beautiful white glow."
Then Bowers and another student got the idea to stir the dots into polyurethane and coat a blue LED light bulb with the mix. The lumpy bulb wasn't pretty, but it produced white light similar to a regular light bulb."
From Around The Blogosphere
Orthomom has the very disturbing story of the Nazi twins. It is Almost Supernatural has a good post regarding an op-ed piece that Dennis Ross wrote about the failed attempt by some to call Israel an apartheid state.
I am still mulling over a post in which Q discusses whether boxing is legalized murder and Gail links to a Victor David Hanson article that says How the Violence in Iraq Will End.
Tags: History,Politics, Israel
Jack is Going Mad
It is coming through garbled and distorted. It is similar to being forced to listen to the bass from the SUV that is located four cars away from you.
I love music, but this distortion is just noise. It doesn't have a rhythm or a beat. And although I am trying to ignore it I am finding it to be impossible. I am locked in on it, my radar has it and refuses to let go.
And so I am growing more agitated and irritable. Jack is going mad. Don't be surprised when you see me go running down the street laughing maniacally arms waving frantically. It is just me.
Another Snake In The Toilet Story
"The fear factor is high at one Florida home - the family is afraid of going to the bathroom, and for good reason. Alicia Bailey was bitten by, what appears to be, a large water moccasin hiding in the toilet bowl in the middle of the night. The poisonous snake bit her thigh after she lifted the lid sending her to the hospital for three days.
No one knows how the snake got there, or where it went after that, so the family is a little jumpy these days. Richard Bailey tells us, "We're not looking to take it alive - I just want it out of here." Alicia adds, "We're currently very uncomfortable in our home - and toilet-shy, I would say, and real anxious for closure."
The Bailey's eleven-year-old son is now staying with neighbors, because doctors say, he would die if he were bitten by a snake that size."
And now I offer you the following
"NORTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. -- A North Plainfield couple have their toilet back now that they removed the 6-foot snake that was blocking the drain. Peter and Debbie Bias said the red- and black-spotted Brazilian rainbow boa named "Freddy" was backing up their pipes for as long as a week until they saw it and called for help.
Police called Craig Ost, a local pet shop owner who rescued the reptile.The snake, which prefers warm climates, was at death's doorstep, Ost told The Star-Ledger of Newark.
Veterinary technician Jason Zayle is caring for it now. He said she's not a bad snake. What's not clear is how Freddy got into the toilet.
The homeowners think the snake slithered into the sewer system, but Zayle told the newspaper the reptile was probably abandoned and made its way into the home."
Some People Shouldn't Be Parents
"A 2-year-old was flown to a local hospital Wednesday after his arm got stuck in a meat grinder NewsChannel5 reported.
Westlake police are investigating the incident that happened inside a home on Stonehedge Drive.
Police said the grinder was on the floor and plugged in when the incident occurred.
The boy was taken to the hospital with his right arm still in the grinder. He is at MetroHealth Medical Center, and is now recovering, reported NewsChannel5.
Officers said the woman who called 911 had a hard time expressing herself because of a language barrier and being emotionally overcome.
The mother and other family members who live in the house have not cooperated with police or Children and Family Services investigating the accident, Capt. Guy Turner said.
Police said this is not the first time inadequate supervision has resulted in injury to children at this house. In 2001, a 1-year-old boy was struck and killed by a car after running out of the house and into the street.
In 2002, a 4-year-old also was struck by a car outside the house. Police said the family covered up the incident from police. In both cases, the family engaged in the same stonewalling technique with investigators, police said.
NewsChannel5 also learned that a registered sex offender is living in the home.
The Westlake city prosecutor will rule on the case after the investigation is complete. The parents could face possible child endangering charges."
Words fail me.
Feeling Out of Sorts
It Was Disconcerting- Whoa!
I know call me crazy, but the thought bothers me. What will my family tell people about how I died. How will my children live down the shame. Can you imagine the teasing on the schoolyard. I hate to think that my obituary might say that I was caught with my pants around my ankles. Think of the imagery here.
What if it was big enough to severely injure me. What if instead of dying I had to crawl to safety with my pants around my ankles and a piece of toilet paper stuck to my shoe. Oh the shame of it all. Not that any of this is likely, but you stranger things have happened.
Today was one of those surreal moments. I was doing my thing at the office when all of a sudden I noticed a head perched above the stall walls. It was attached to a neck and it was clear that he was not standing on stilts nor on a ladder.
For a brief moment I thought that perhaps the NBA had read my blog and sent a hit man to get me. Now I haven't any fear of a 7 foot tall man, provided that I am standing on my own two feet and not occupied in a closed space, like a bathroom stall.
I immediately looked for ways to defend myself and I am sad to say that the only idea was to engage in the age old Monkey Defense, which sadly was not a martial art but something far more base and primal. It sickened me to consider it, but frankly, violence of any sort sickens me and a man has got to do what a man has got to do.
So as I steeled my mind and prepared for battle I watched the giant head bobble from side to side and I could tell that he was ambling over to a stall down the way. I breathed a sigh of relief, disaster was averted.
A short time later we both exited our stalls and I was sad to see that the giant did not wash his hands. I don't know what he did in there, but I have my suspicions that he took those oversized and enormous paws and spread germs throughout the building.
And that ends this morning's potty story.
Time Mag's Top 100 Books
I read with great interest about your accident. Were you scared and what did you learn?
I wasn't scared, just angry and then thankful. As for what I learnedI would have to say that this is far too broad a question and being anatural smartass my inclination is to go off on a tangent about the manythings I have learned such as that you never know who you might encounteron the net. Check out the Gaming Grannies.
Is Chocolate the New Vanilla?
Are you ever serious. Really now.
You know this is one of those times that I wish that there was a toll freeAsk Jack hotline because then I might have a clue as to whether you arebeing insouciant or serious. Really.
What is with you and The Shmata Queen? I am really curious.
The Shmata Queen, what can I say about her. Did you ever see The Princess Bride? There is a great line in it when Inigo Montoya asks the Man In Black to identify himself and the Man responds by saying "Get Used to Disappointment." How is that for an answer. ;)
Personal Versus Political
Because the reality is that for so many of the use the bogeyman we fear the most is the one that resides inside our skulls. There is the person that we want to be, the person that we pretend to be and show to the world and then there is the person that we truly are. Maybe it is just me. Maybe I am the only one to ever feel this way, or maybe I am not.
What I know for certain is this. When there is a monster on the other side of the door I always end up looking. Even when I know that opening the door provides the opportunity to scare me silly, inevitably my curiosity gets the better of me and I look behind the curtain. I need to see if the wizard is a just a man or if there is something more.
So the blog really is a mix. It is a place to air out those thoughts and ruminate upon life.
Tonight I spoke with my father about many things, some important and some trivial. Tonight I looked and listened to his every word and watched his gestures with the intensity and ferocity of my childhood. I have spent most of my life thinking that there was no one tougher than my dad, but I learned last summer that even he has his weak moments.
Last summer when he lay in bed recovering from a triple bypass I watched from across the country and did what I could to help him. For a time he was depressed. For a time there was a role reversal and I had to be the one to do many things. When necessary I barked orders and when required I issued praise and support. At 35 I was the parent, briefly.
Now I see him in a far more complete and complex light. He is my father. He is still superman, but I have seen him showered in Kryptonite and watched him waver in battle and then return to form.
And though I have the greater and deeper understanding I find myself looking to his example and chuckling at his comments about how similar my son and I are. I still say that arguing with my father is like screaming at a mirror. I wonder if one day my son will say the same about me.
NBA Players Are Babies
"The Hawks' Josh Childress is one of the players who thinks the NBA is "taking this thing too far."
"I understand where they're coming from. We all need to be neat and professional. But to ask us to wear suits everywhere, even at a hotel at 2 a.m. I think that's a bit much," Childress told the Journal-Constitution.
Allen Iverson told The Philadelphia Daily News he will fight any new dress code.
"I dress to make myself comfortable," Iverson told the Philadelphia Daily News. "I really do have a problem with it. ... It's just not right. It's something I'll fight for."
Childress told the Journal-Constitution that a dress code is something that should be phased in gradually.
"Listen, if they wanted to do this thing gradually I could understand that," Childress told the newspaper. "Say you want us to wear slacks and a shirt this year, and then next year add jackets and whatever. But to do it all at once is just more than I think is necessary, to just jump up and say wear suits or you get fined is nuts."
Indiana Pacers guard Stephen Jackson, contending that a new ban on chains worn over clothing is "a racist statement" from the league, wore every long, diamond-studded chain in his collection Tuesday night as a protest.
Jackson voiced no opposition to the bulk of the "business casual" demands in the NBA's new dress code, but he described the jewelry ban as "attacking young black males."
"I think it's a racist statement because a lot of the guys who are wearing chains are my age and are black," said Jackson, 27. "I wore all my jewelry today to let it be known that I'm upset with it.
"I'll wear a suit every day. I think we do need to look more professional because it is a business. A lot of guys have gotten sloppy with the way they dress. But it's one thing to [enforce a] dress code and it's another thing if you're attacking cultures, and that's what I think they're doing."
"Denver's Marcus Camby said, "I don't see it happening unless every NBA player is given a stipend to buy clothes. Guys who haven't been wearing suits and don't own suits, it will be really hard to get them in time for the season."Unbelievable. I am busy trying to figure out how to support a family on one income, how to buy a car a year earlier than I intended and the poor players need a stipend to buy a suit. Well Marcus and company, as far as I am concerned you overgrown babies can quit and go back to the real world and make real world incomes and then talk to me about how hard it is.
Camby makes $9.3 million this season."
Go dig a ditch, clean a toilet or work behind a desk and tell me if you'd rather be playing basketball. This whining makes me sick. In case you are wondering about the big bad evil plan, here are details.
"On Monday, the National Basketball Association completed details of its new "business casual" dress code, which goes into effect Nov. 1, or opening night.
Though still vague in some areas, the final version of the dress code was toned down from an initial proposal that called for players to wear suits at all team functions, including games and flights.
The dress code, coupled with N.B.A. Commissioner David Stern's announcement yesterday that the league would start N.B.A. Cares, a vast public-service initiative, highlight the N.B.A.'s latest push to look a little less gangsta and a little more genteel.
Stern said that during the course of collective bargaining, "we decided that the reputation of our players was not as good as our players are, and we could do small things to improve that."
Stern added: "One has to do with signing autographs. Another has to do with, perhaps, how you present yourself at the national anthem. A third has to do with being available for season-ticket-holder events because we very much appreciate our fans and we very much want to become more sensitive to our ultimate consumer. And, finally, discussion turned to minimum dress code."
Players must adhere to the following requirements at all team or league functions: collared dress shirts or turtlenecks; dress slacks, khaki pants or dress jeans; and dress shoes or boots or "other presentable shoes" with socks, and no sneakers, sandals, flip-flops or work boots.
Players are prohibited from wearing headgear, T-shirts, team jerseys, chains, pendants or medallions. Sunglasses while indoors and headphones, except on the team bus, plane or in the locker room, are also banned.
Players who are on the bench during a game but not in uniform must wear a sports coat.
Both the player and his team will be fined for violating the rules, and repeat offenders could be suspended."
Too Close for Comfort
Chertoff Says FEMA Was 'Overwhelmed' by Katrina
"Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff acknowledged today that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was "overwhelmed" by Hurricane Katrina and called for a buildup of the government's "preparedness capability" to deal with major natural disasters and terrorist attacks.
Appearing before a special House committee investigating the government's response to the hurricane, Chertoff said his department must "retool FEMA . . . so that it can fulfill its historic and critical mission supporting response and recovery."
I am angry and appalled by this. Just reading this makes my blood boil.
"Calling Katrina "one of the worst natural disasters in our nation's history," Chertoff said it forced more than 1.5 million people to evacuate the Gulf Coast and has left an estimated 600,000 people requiring shelter.
"We now know that its [FEMA's] capabilities were overwhelmed by the magnitude of the storm," Chertoff told the committee.
"Although we had made significant progress in preparedness" before Katrina struck, "we were not where we needed to be," Chertoff said. He said the agency did not have "integrated capabilities," such as the ability to plan sufficiently with state and local agencies and the U.S. military.
The Homeland Security Department is working with federal, state and local officials to review emergency operations plans for every major American city, Chertoff said. Part of the review involves taking "a hard, realistic look" at planning for evacuations necessitated by everything from earthquakes to subway bombings, he said. He vowed to build up preparedness in the weeks and months ahead.
"It's not something that's going to be done overnight," he cautioned, but "there is nothing more urgent."
Even if 911 had never happened we never should have had to listen to our government acknowledge this kind of ineptitude, but especially in light of 911 and recent events this is just shameful and shocking. Terrible, terrible, terrible.
Tags: News and politics
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