Southern Baptists Offensive & I Mean Offensive

CNN is just one of a number of news outlets that is carrying a story about yet another problem that the Southern Baptists are creating with Jews. The root of the problem lies in the arrogant and misguided belief that they have the sole line to G-d and that they are tasked with spreading the word.

In the latest outbreak they have decided that the best way to attack us is by trying to use Jews who have converted as their tools.
"Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman said the effort is offensive because the Southern Baptists are using Jews who have converted to Christianity "to go after other Jews."

"If people convert, that's their individual business," Foxman said. "But don't use them as a tool to convert other people."

At the heart of the ADL's complaint is a decision by the Southern Baptist Convention executive committee to ask its missionary boards to study the idea of recognizing the Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship as "an evangelistic mission to Jewish people."

The fellowship is made up of about a dozen congregations in the United States. Its Web site says its mission is "to encourage Jewish believers that their ethnic and historical heritage need NOT be lost upon their commitment to Yeshua [Jesus]."

The idea to use the fellowship was proposed at the national convention in Nashville in June. The SBC executive committee recommended last week that its International Mission Board and North American Mission Board study the possibility.

Jim Sibley, coordinator of Jewish Ministries for the SBC's North American Mission Board, said the ADL was overreacting. The committee was simply forwarding the proposal, he said.

"Personally, I don't really see this (recommendation) going anywhere," Sibley said Thursday."

Overreacting. I wonder how he would feel if we decided to make an effort to target Southern Baptists, if we used Xtians who had converted to try and convince other Xtians to become Jewish. What would they do if we went and spoke to their children and told them how sad we were that they they were missing out on so much fun. And considering the history well...
"The Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution in 1996 calling on its members to "direct our energies and resources toward the proclamation of the gospel to the Jewish people."

A 1999 prayer guide by the International Mission Board recommended conversion of Jews to Christianity during their High Holy Days, an effort labeled "offensive and disrespectful" by Jewish leaders.

As recently as 2003 Jewish leaders criticized a Southern Baptist seminary president for saying Christians have a mandate to evangelize Jews just as a surgeon has a responsibility to tell a patient about the presence of a "deadly tumor."

I really don't care what you believe as long as you don't try to force it down my throat. These guys have crossed the line and I am not willing to stand for it nor do I have to or anyone else.

Fire In The Sky- Ash is Raining Down

There is Fire In The Sky- Ash is Raining Down upon me andI have been thinking about my friends over at Toner Mishap. If I am not mistaken they are close to the fire. So boys here are my best wishes that you and yours are kept safe. Be well.

Blogrolling The Day Away

Life here at the shack has been anything but dull, if anything it has been far too busy. I don't like feeling this busy because I don't feel like I am being productive. I get a lot of things done, but too many of them feel like they are just getting done and not getting done well.

Lately I have been trying to find some new blogs to read. It is not that the old ones have gotten dull, ok a few have. Some of you are not holding my attention the way that you used to but I expect that the same could be said about me.

Anyway I find blogrolls to be interesting. It is somewhat similar to going to a person's home and inspecting their bookcase, movies and CDs. I am always curious to see what they have found because every now and then I find some real gems.

The mehitza- A Deterrent to Assimilation

I just finished reading an article in The Jerusalem Post that had me shaking my head. It is called The mehitza that made waves in New Orleans and it suggests that the presence of a mehitza is a strong deterrent to assimilation.

I strongly disagree with much of what was written in it. Let me share a couple sections. The opening of this opinion piece relates the story of a lawsuit in New Orleans that was brought when a shul removed the mehitza and implemented mixed seating.

"The New Orleans decision inspired many Orthodox Jews to go to court to stem the floodtide of assimilation, which often began with the elimination of the mehitza. Baruch Litvin, who galvanized American Jews to fight to maintain the mehitza, recorded his success in his 550-page tome Sanctity of the Synagogue. When his Orthodox shul instituted mixed seating, he obtained a 1959 ruling from the Michigan Supreme Court that returned the mehitza to the synagogue.

THE MEHITZA brouhaha had wider significance. Judaism is distinguished by its adherence to Jewish law, Halacha, and Litvin argued that such adherence is compromised by the radical change of mingling in synagogue. The issue of separation of the sexes for prayer was a test of the entire halachic system. Abandoning this principle, Jews would succumb to the centripetal forces of American modernity, jettison the rest of Halacha, and the dikes would burst.

The mehitza proponents have proved correct – the floodtide of assimilation by intermarriage for those Jews affiliated with mixed-seating congregations varies from 50 to 80 percent. Among the Orthodox it is barely 5 percent."

It is far too simplistic to sugges that separating men and women in the synagogue will prevent them from assimilation. For that matter one could just as easily argue that you are more likely to prevent assimilation by using mixed seating because it enhances the opportunity for nice Jewish boys and girls to meet each other.

The question of what causes more non-Orthodox Jews to assimilate ( I am trusting the authors figures here which have been provided without support) should have a broader framework and we should better define what we mean by assimilation. For the purpose of this discussion we'll say that assimilation refers to Jews who not only stop practicing Judaism but marry outside of the faith and allow the spouse's faith to become dominant within the household.

If we were truly to explore this I would want to know about belief in G-d and the belief in Torah. That is, do people believe in G-d and what is their opinion of Torah. Was it handed to us as the precise word of G-d or is it divinely inspired and perhaps subject to interpretation.

I would also wonder about how many Orthodox Jews would like to stop living as Orthodox Jews but refrain for fear of the problems it would create within their families.

These are just a few questions to be asked and I haven't even bothered to think hard about them which is part of why this gives me real pause as to the validity of this allegation. I have serious doubts that it really holds up. It really makes me shake my head because it is just narishkeit.

Here is another selection from the piece that irritates me.
"Prayer requires deep concentration, kavana. Women realize that men can be in a state of inner distraction by virtue of the presence of women at a time when it is essential for people to be as fully engaged as possible in their concentrated awareness of their conversation with God. The situation of men and women is not symmetrical; men are more easily stimulated by viewing women, as the advertising industry well knows."
I find this part to be offensive. Men are not animals and what this does is suggest is that we are unable to control ourselves. An attractive woman is not the reason why men sometimes have trouble davening.

A pretty face or nice legs are not going to interfere with saying the shemoneh esreh, or be the reason for a lack of focus. My davening has been interrupted by the whispered stories of what happened during last nights ballgame or conversation about what little Sammy is doing now.

And then the final part of this piece that made me shake my head is this:

"RABBI JOSEPH Soloveitchik, who established a Jewish day school with mixed classes and promoted teaching girls Talmud, surprised many with the stringency of his ruling on mehitza.

"A young man moved into a suburb of Boston where the only existing synagogue had men and women sitting together. He asked me what he should do on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. I answered him that it were better for him to pray at home and not cross the threshold of that synagogue. The young man practically implored me that I grant him permission to enter the edifice, at least that he might hear the shofar blasts. I hesitated not for a moment, but directed him to remain at home. It would be better not to hear the shofar than to enter a synagogue whose sanctity has been profaned."

This story is nothing more than a divisive device that pushes us away from each other. It does nothing to encourage inclusion, only exclusion and it will be seen by many as snobbery.

I was there at Har Sinai and I don't remember Hashem instructing us in this manner.

Letter to Palestinians

Robert Avrech deserves credit for tipping me off to Letter to Palestinians which was written by Yossi Klein Halevi. He is the author of a number of books. One of my favorites is called "At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew's Search for Hope With Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land"

In some ways I found his Letter to Palestinians to be quite sad because the hope and optimism I found in some of his earlier writings appears to be gone. I don't fault him or blame him for that and I suppose that the sadness I feel stems from my own evolution regarding hope for peace.

It is a long letter so I am going to quote just a few sections but highly recommend that you read it in its entirety.

"Once, before the Terror War, a time that seems now to belong not just technically but substantively to another millennium, I undertook a one-man pilgrimage into your mosques and churches, seeking to know you in your intimate spiritual moments.

I went as a believing Jew, praying and meditating with you wherever you allowed me to enter into your devotional life. My intention was to transcend, however briefly, the political abyss between us by experiencing together something of presence of God.

And I wanted to learn how to feel comfortable in the Middle East's religious cultures, because I believed that the Jewish homecoming would be complete only when the Jewish state were no longer in exile from the Middle East.

During my journey, which took me from Galilee to Gaza, I was privileged to be admitted into the Muslim prayer line. I learned to venerate its choreography of surrender, in which one becomes a particle in a great wave of devotion, a wave that preceded our arrival on this earth and that will continue long after we are gone.

I learned to appreciate the fearless heart of Islam, which knows how to impart in its believers a frank acceptance of their own mortality – something which Western culture too often tries to conceal, with diversions like black humor about death.

The dark side of the Muslim reconciliation with death, of course, are the suicide bombers. But I learned, too, that acceptance of mortality can be the basis for a religious language of reconciliation. Repeatedly, Palestinians would say to me, "Why are you and I arguing over who owns the land when in the end the land will own us both?" That wise ability to place our earthly claims and struggles in the context of our shared condition of mortality gave me hope that peace between us may some day be possible.

But I learned too, during numerous candid conversations with Palestinians at all levels of society, that, in practice, few within your nation are willing to concede that I have a legitimate claim to any part of this land. I will cite one telling example.

During my journey into Islam in Gaza, I met General Nasser Youssef (who at the time of our meeting was head of one of the Palestinian security forces and is now the PA Interior Minister). At one point during our conversation, I asked the general to describe his vision of the relations between a Jewish state and a Palestinian state after we signed a peace agreement.

Let's assume, I said, that Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, uproots the settlements and redivides Jerusalem: What then? He replied that, once the refugees begin returning to the area, so many would gravitate to those areas in Israel where their families once lived, that eventually we would realize there was no need for an artificial border between Israel and Palestine.

The next step, continued the general, was that the two states would merge. "And then we'll invite Jordan to join our federation. And Iraq and Syria. Why not? We'll show the whole world what a beautiful country Jews and Arabs can create together."

But, I asked the general, aren't we negotiating today over a two-state solution? Yes, he replied, as an interim step. And then he added, "You aren't separate from us; you are part of us. Just as there are Muslim Arabs and Christian Arabs, you are Jewish Arabs."

This story is particularly relevant because General Youssef is widely known as a moderate, deeply opposed to terror as counter-productive to the Palestinian cause. And so what I learned in my journeys into your society is that moderation means one thing on the Israeli side and quite another on the Palestinian side."

Sometimes the difference in pereceptions is so large that you cannot bridge the gap or even if you could the solutions just are not feasible.
"IN YOUR society's official embrace, through media and schools and mosques, of the culture of denial, you have tried to reinvent us, to redefine us out of our national existence.

We too once tried to define you out of national existence, insisting that you weren't a real people but an appendage to the Arab world. Today, though, only the Israeli hard Right repeats Golda Meir's insistence that there are no Palestinians.

Yet your political and spiritual leadership routinely insists that there is no Jewish people – only a Jewish faith, or an invented identity like General Yusuf's "Arab Jews," or an ersatz people descended from the Khazars. In so doing, you ignore how Jews have always defined themselves: as a people with a faith.

True, it's easier for the powerful than it is for the powerless to develop more nuanced attitudes toward the conflict. When you have an army and a thriving economy, you can afford to rethink your own history and even accommodate a competing narrative. Yet in truth you have never understood us, never understood that we aren't a modern version of the Crusaders but an indigenous people returning home.

Your inability to understand who we are has been a disaster not only for us but also for you, because it has repeatedly led you to underestimate our vitality and ability to persevere. And now, it seems, you are once again about to disastrously misread the Israeli public.

According to polls, a majority of Palestinians believe that the decision to withdraw from Gaza was prompted by terror. And that conclusion may well lead you to the next round of terror."

There is much more that I could include because this letter is solid, but due to space issues I am going to try and limit this to one or two more selections.

"The key to understanding the meaning of unilateral withdrawal – a point missed not only by your people but by the Israeli Right as well – is that "unilateral" is no less important than "withdrawal." Most Israelis have concluded that our Left was correct in its warnings against the moral and demographic dangers of occupation, and our Right was correct in its warnings that the Palestinian national movement had no intention of living in peace with a Jewish state in any borders. And so, if we cannot occupy you and we cannot make peace with you, the only option left to us is unilateral withdrawal and the fence – that is, determining our own borders in the absence of a negotiated peace.

The new Israeli determination to stop waiting for a nonexistent Palestinian partner and take our fate in our own hands is an Israeli, not a Palestinian, victory.

The Terror War has given Israeli society another crucial victory: a restored faith in the justness of our position. Aside from a vocal but fringe Left, most Israelis know that, at every crucial historic juncture in the last 70 years, when an offer to end the conflict was placed on the table, our side said yes and your side said no. That has given us the strength to withstand the current jihadist assault."

and a grain of hope.

"The tragedy of our conflict is that history gave each of us no choice. The logic of our history demanded our return here – and not just because we were persecuted in exile, but because exile from this land was always seen by Jews as an unnatural condition, a spiritual offense against Judaism's deepest sense of itself. Yet just as the logic of our history impelled us to return, so the logic of your history impelled you to resist our return.
The conflict between us is over intangibles and mutual perceptions, not over a precise point on the map.

When we look at each other, we see the embodiment of our worst historical traumas. When you look at us, you see an expansionist power that recalls your defeat and humiliation in recent centuries – a perception that was reinforced by our military victories against the Arab world and the subsequent expansion of our borders. When we look at you, we see the incarnation of the latest in a long line of genocidal enemies who have tried to destroy us – a perception reinforced by the suicide bombings, which are mini-preenactments of the genocidal impulse.

Just as you see in us colonialists and crusaders, we increasingly see in you Nazis.

Having been privileged to spend time among you, I know that most of you are not Nazis, just as I know that most of us are not colonialists. We are two traumatized peoples who, tragically, have projected their most demonic images onto the other.

In withdrawing from Gaza, we have begun our territorial contraction. Yet can your side stop actively dreaming of destroying us – through terror, demographics, the Muslim bomb? Can you accept the moral legitimacy – not just temporary political necessity – of a two-state solution?
I wrote above that your people has made "virtually no effort" to understand who we Jews are.

One remarkable exception was a pilgrimage of Palestinian Israelis to Auschwitz, two years ago. For Palestinian citizens of Israel to reach out to Jews at the height of the intifada was the deepest expression of the generosity of Arab culture. I was privileged to be among the Jewish participants in that Arab initiative. We stood at the crematorium, Arabs and Jews holding each other in silence, facing the abyss together. At that moment, anything seemed possible between us."

Jack Is Confronted

this is an audio post - click to play

Giant Squid Photos

I came across this National Geographic Story and found it be very interesting. The longest squid on record was 59 feet.
"Like something straight out of a Jules Verne novel, an enormous tentacled creature looms out of the inky blackness of the deep Pacific waters.

But this isn't science fiction. A set of extraordinary images captured by Japanese scientists marks the first-ever record of a live giant squid (Architeuthis) in the wild.

The animal—which measures roughly 25 feet (8 meters) long—was photographed 2,950 feet (900 meters) beneath the North Pacific Ocean. Japanese scientists attracted the squid toward cameras attached to a baited fishing line.

The scientists say they snapped more than 500 images of the massive cephalopod before it broke free after snagging itself on a hook. They also recovered one of the giant squid's two longest tentacles, which severed during its struggle.

The photo sequence, taken off Japan's Ogasawara Islands in September 2004, shows the squid homing in on the baited line and enveloping it in "a ball of tentacles."

Tsunemi Kubodera of the National Science Museum in Tokyo and Kyoichi Mori of the Ogasawara Whale Watching Association report their observations this week in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

"Architeuthis appears to be a much more active predator than previously suspected, using its elongated feeding tentacles to strike and tangle prey," the researchers write.

They add that the squid was found feeding at depths where no light penetrates even during the day."

A Singing Fool

I stumbled onto Singing Fool earlier today and decided to spend some time this evening screwing around. I found out that you can create your own video shows. So just for the hell of it I put this one together.

I think that it is fair, not great but not all that bad for something that was done quickly. If you want to get a sense of my taste in music this is a the barest indication of what I like. I have diverse taste in music and love so many different styles and artists, rock, country, rap, classical. Here is a quick look at some of what I have been listening to this evening.
  • Baby, Now That I've Found You Alison Krauss & Union Station
  • Time to Say Goodbye Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman
  • Why Annie Lennox
  • Something The Beatles
  • Whiskey Lullaby Brad Paisley
  • Somebody's Crying Chris Isaak
  • May It Be Enya
  • I Can Love You Like That John Michael Montgomery
  • Picture Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow
  • Hey Hey What Can I Do Led Zeppelin
  • Home Sweet Home Mötley Crüe
  • Who Wants to Live Forever Sarah Brightman
  • Sweet Thing Van Morrison
  • When We Dance Sting
  • What Is Pornography? Bill Hicks
  • In My Life The Beatles
  • Ain't That a Kick in the Head Dean Martin
  • Insomnia (Monster Mix) Faithless
  • A Kiss To Build A Dream On Louis Armstrong
  • The Coldest Winter EVER! Lewis Black
  • As Good As I Once Was- Toby Keith

Is Islam Influencing Your Life?

Daniel Pipes has an interesting opinion piece in which he discusses some of the things that have happened throughout the world as a result of the influence of Muslims. The article focuses on the recent decision in Canada to outlaw faith based arbitration which is a topic that was covered by Q last week in this post.

This was also touched upon by Miriam in two separate posts here and here.

I find this all troubling for a variety of reasons. Just for the heck of it let's start with Pipes and take a look at what he said. The piece begins by outlining what Canada's 1991 Arbitration act offered.
"Called the Arbitration Act, it stipulates that if two parties agree to engage a commercial, religious, or other arbitrator to settle a civil dispute, the provincial authorities will then enforce the verdict, so long as it is in accord with Canadian law.

"People can use any arbitrator they want and can use a religious framework if it is mutually acceptable," notes Brendan Crawley, spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. "If the award is not compatible with Canadian law, then the court will not enforce it. You can't agree to violate Canadian law."

Over the years, Jews, Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mennonites, and aboriginals, among others, made use of arbitration to settle family law questions without using Ontario's court system. The system quietly worked. "If there have been any problems flowing from any rabbinical court decisions, I'm not aware of them," observed the Ontario region chairman of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Joel Richler."

It appears that the program worked well and that there were no notable hangups until 2003 at which time a Muslim group proposed establishing a Muslim board that would use Sharia to make decisions.

According to Pipes this was met by opposition by Muslim women who feared that the use of Sharia to oppress Muslim women. In time the opposition was victorious and it was announced that the Canadian government was going to repeal the Arbitration act entirely so that there would not be any question of favoritism whatsoever.

Pipes maintains that this is one of a series of events created by the influence of Muslims.

"That Orthodox Jews and others might lose out points to an emerging pattern, whereby efforts to integrate Muslims into the West upset a benign status quo. Other recent examples:

  • French nuns for the first time must take off their cowls for identity card or passport pictures because of anti-hijab legislation. Likewise, French schoolchildren may not wear crosses or Stars of David to class.
  • Large populations – British underground riders, American airport passengers, Russian theater-goers – must undergo extensive security checks, thanks to Muslim terrorists.
  • Danes marrying foreigners face extensive restrictions to bring them into Denmark because of immigration abuses (the "human visa" problem) involving Muslims.
  • Santas, Nativity plays, Christmas carols, and Bibles are banned in Western countries so as not to offend Muslim sensitivities.

Unremarked upon by most Westerners, Islam's presence has started to change their way of life."

I am troubled by this for a variety of reasons. As a Jew I am part of a group that has been singled out and discriminated against. There is a history of oppression and it would be insensitive and uncaring of me not to be aware of this in relation to others.

However, it would be a kneejerk reaction to say that it is wrong to single out others strictly because they could be harmed by that. In my estimation it is important to consider all sides and then to make a decision that is based upon current and historical events and what you think may happen.

I'd like to return to the title of this post Is Islam influencing Your Life and answer that it is radical Islam that is influencing my life and that I am cautiously optimistic that we will see the emergence of the moderates as a much stronger influence on Muslims because right now we are engaged in an ideological battle with the fundamentalists and without help from the center we are not going to see real change.

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Minnie The Moocher- Cab Calloway

I recently introduced my children to Cab Calloway's rendition of Minnie The Moocher. It is one of my favorite songs and a heck of a lot of fun to act out with them. You can find another version over here.

Of course one of the more famous renditions in recent memory is the one he performed in The Blues Brothers.


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Who Is The Shmata Queen

Dear Readers,

Many of you have written me to ask about The Shmata Queen. It seems that there is a desire to get to know more about this lovely lady who was bringing up two very lovely girls of her own until she one day met this fellow and they knew that it was much more than a hunch. The two of them must get together and form a.........

Aw the hell with it, I am tired of channeling the Bradys.

Don't know about you, but I was sad to see that Don Adams died. I loved watching Get Smart. I have always wanted a shoe phone and my own cone of silence.

But I digress, back to The Shmata Queen. She is a lovely lass and I have a favor to ask. I need each and every one of you to go to her blog and post a short hello on the top entry. Let's see how many comments we can generate.

His Dying Wish

This story was hard to read, but it is reassuring to see things like this. It is a short tale of the dying wish of 10-year-old Montana Mazurkiewicz and his love of Notre Dame football. Charlie Weis is the head coach for Notre Dame. He met with Montana last week.

"The Notre Dame coach met last week with Montana, who had been told by doctors weeks earlier that there was nothing more they could do to stop the spread of his inoperable brain tumor.

"He was a big Notre Dame fan in general, but football especially," said his mother, Cathy Mazurkiewicz.

Weis showed up at the Mazurkiewicz home in Mishawaka, just east of South Bend, and talked with Montana about his tumor and about Weis' 10-year-old daughter, Hannah, who has global development delay, a rare disorder similar to autism.

He told Montana about some pranks he played on Joe Montana -- whom Montana was named after -- while they were roommates at Notre Dame.

"I gave him a chance to hammer me on the Michigan State loss, which he did very well. He reminded me of my son," said Weis, whose son, Charlie Jr., is 12 years old.

Weis said the meeting was touching.

"He told me about his love for Notre Dame football and how he just wanted to make it through this game this week," Weis said. "He just wanted to be able to live through this game because he knew he wasn't going to live very much longer."

As Weis talked to the boy, Cathy Mazurkiewicz rubbed her son's shoulder trying to ease his pain. Weis said he could tell the boy was trying not to show he was in pain.

His mother told Montana, who had just become paralyzed from the waist down a day earlier because of the tumor, to toss her a football Weis had given him. Montana tried to throw the football, put could barely lift it. So Weis climbed into the reclining chair with him and helped him complete the pass to his mother.

Before leaving, Weis signed the football.

"He wrote, 'Live for today for tomorrow is always another day,"' Mazurkiewicz said.

"He told him: 'You can't worry about tomorrow. Just live today for everything it has and everything you can appreciate," she said. "He said: 'If you're [in pain] today you might not necessarily be in pain tomorrow, or it might be worse. But there's always another day."

Weis asked Montana if there was something he could do for him. He agreed to let Montana call the first play against Washington on Saturday. He called "pass right."

Montana never got to see the play. He died Friday at his home."

Normally I might end the article there but this deserves a little more space.

Weis heard about the death and called Mazurkiewicz on Friday night to assure her he would still call Montana's play.

"He said, 'This game is for Montana, and the play still stands,"' she said.

Weis said he told the team about the visit. He said it wasn't a "Win one for the Gipper" speech, because he doesn't believe in using individuals as inspiration. He just wanted the team to know people like Montana are out there.

"That they represent a lot of people that they don't even realize they're representing," Weis said.

When the Irish started on their own 1-yard-line following a fumble recovery, Mazurkiewicz wasn't sure Notre Dame would be able to throw a pass. Weis was concerned about that, too. So was quarterback Brady Quinn.

"He said what are we going to do?" Weis said. "I said we have no choice. We're throwing it to the right."

Weis called a play where most of the Irish went left, Quinn ran right and looked for tight end Anthony Fasano on the right.

Mazurkiewicz watched with her family.

"I just closed my eyes. I thought, 'There's no way he's going to be able to make that pass. Not from where they're at. He's going to get sacked and Washington's going to get two points,"' she said.

Fasano caught the pass and leapt over a defender for a 13-yard gain.

"It's almost like Montana was willing him to beat that defender and take it to the house," Weis said.

Mazurkiewicz was happy.

"It was an amazing play. Montana would have been very pleased. I was very pleased," she said. "I was just so overwhelmed. I couldn't watch much more."

The Jewish Connection

For those who are interested there is a fair amount of new material on The Jewish Connection.

Altruistic Behavior and Public Service

Is it just me or are there others who wish that more people would decide to go into public service because of a feeling of altruism.

al·tru·ism (ăl'trū-ĭz'əm) pronunciation
n.
  1. Unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness.
  2. Zoology. Instinctive cooperative behavior that is detrimental to the individual but contributes to the survival of the species.
Really, I know that it sounds naive but I cannot help but wish that I saw more examples of altruism and less of the networking. This article in Time Magazine just irritates me. I ask that some of you set aside your partisan politics as you read the following.
"In presidential politics, the victor always gets the spoils, and chief among them is the vast warren of offices that make up the federal bureaucracy. Historically, the U.S. public has never paid much attention to the people the President chooses to sit behind those thousands of desks. A benign cronyism is more or less presumed, with old friends and big donors getting comfortable positions and impressive titles, and with few real consequences for the nation.

But then came Michael Brown. When President Bush's former point man on disasters was discovered to have more expertise about the rules of Arabian horse competition than about the management of a catastrophe, it was a reminder that the competence of government officials who are not household names can have a life or death impact. The Brown debacle has raised pointed questions about whether political connections, not qualifications, have helped an unusually high number of Bush appointees land vitally important jobs in the Federal Government.

The Bush Administration didn't invent cronyism; John F. Kennedy turned the Justice Department over to his brother, while Bill Clinton gave his most ambitious domestic policy initiative to his wife. Jimmy Carter made his old friend Bert Lance his budget director, only to see him hauled in front of the Senate to answer questions on his past banking practices in Georgia, and George H.W. Bush deposited so many friends at the Commerce Department that the agency was known internally as "Bush Gardens." The difference is that this Bush Administration had a plan from day one for remaking the bureaucracy, and has done so with greater success.

As far back as the Florida recount, soon-to-be Vice President Dick Cheney was poring over organizational charts of the government with an eye toward stocking it with people sympathetic to the incoming Administration. Clay Johnson III, Bush's former Yale roommate and the Administration's chief architect of personnel, recalls preparing for the inner circle's first trip from Austin, Texas, to Washington: "We were standing there getting ready to get on a plane, looking at each other like: Can you believe what we're getting ready to do?"

The Office of Personnel Management's Plum Book, published at the start of each presidential Administration, shows that there are more than 3,000 positions a President can fill without consideration for civil service rules. And Bush has gone further than most Presidents to put political stalwarts in some of the most important government jobs you've never heard of, and to give them genuine power over the bureaucracy. "These folks are really good at using the instruments of government to promote the President's political agenda," says Paul Light, a professor of public service at New York University and a well-known expert on the machinery of government. "And I think that takes you well into the gray zone where few Presidents have dared to go in the past. It's the coordination and centralization that's important here."

This just disgusts me. Read the abridged version about an appointment at the FDA.
"That is why many within the department, as well as in the broader scientific community, were startled when, in July, Scott Gottlieb was named deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs, one of three deputies in the agency's second-ranked post at FDA.

His official FDA biography notes that Gottlieb, 33, who got his medical degree at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, did a previous stint providing policy advice at the agency, as well as at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and was a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. What the bio omits is that his most recent job was as editor of a popular Wall Street newsletter, the Forbes/Gottlieb Medical Technology Investor, in which he offered such tips as "Three Biotech Stocks to Buy Now." In declaring Gottlieb a "noted authority" who had written more than 300 policy and medical articles, the biography neglects the fact that many of those articles criticized the FDA for being too slow to approve new drugs and too quick to issue warning letters when it suspects ones already on the market might be unsafe."

And then we see the following little ditty:
"Gottlieb's financial ties to the drug industry were at one time quite extensive. Upon taking his new job, he recused himself for up to a year from any deliberations involving nine companies that are regulated by the FDA and "where a reasonable person would question my impartiality in the matter." Among them are Eli Lilly, Roche and Proctor & Gamble, according to his Aug. 5 "Disqualification Statement Regarding Former Clients," a copy of which was obtained by TIME. Gottlieb, though, insists that his role at the agency is limited to shaping broad policies, such as improving communication between the FDA, doctors and patients, and developing a strategy for dealing with pandemics of such diseases as flu, West Nile virus and SARS.

Would he ever be involved in determining whether an individual drug should be on the market? "Of course not," Gottlieb told TIME. "Not only wouldn't I be involved in that ... But I would not be in a situation where I would be adjudicating the scientific or medical expertise of the [FDA] on a review matter. That's not my role. It's not my expertise. We defer to the career staff to make scientific and medical decisions."
It disgusts me, just disgusts me. There are other examples. Earlier I asked to set aside partisan politics for a moment because this post is not about bashing the current admin but about recognizing that this is a problem that is endemic to the system and is not limited to party lines.

We really need to find a way to try and prevent this nonsense. We need to demand accountability and do what we can to work on making sure that the people who are appointed have the background and experience for those positions because the reality is that in the long run we all suffer when they do not.

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A Test of Wills Between Father & Son

Among family and friends I am renown for being stubborn. It was once referred to as being legendary and I admit that there is a lot of truth to that. I have been known to fight to the death over things, some quite silly and trivial. Fortunately as I have grown older this has diminished and I find fewer and fewer moments in which I am engaged in such foolishness.

So it comes as no surprise to me that my children have this trait. To quote one grandfather they know their minds and to quote another you cannot screw an old head on young shoulders. I am working hard to help them learn when it is appropriate to maintain a stand when it is not and boy can it be tough.

My son is so much like me that it is frightening. If you offer consequences for his not listening he will sometimes smile at you and say that he wants to be punished and then he'll take the punishment all because he wants to do something other than what you want.

I have a few tricks that I use that will soften his stance. On days like yesterday I will intentionally argue about something that I really do not care about and then just give in because it makes him feel like he has won and allows him to feel like he has more control over his life.

This often mellows him out and puts in a place where he is more willing to compromise. Now I should also add that there are many areas in which compromise is not a word in my vocabulary. Safety issues are never a discussion, do it my way or pay the price. Usually it just takes a look and he'll back down in those areas, but in some others, oy.

Yesterday he and I battled over a few things, primarily food related. I won't let him eat junk food all day long and we are careful about how much he gets. I also do not let him dictate where we eat. We may ask him his opinion, but he is not the final voice on the matter.

Unfortunately at 4.5 it is also not unusual to see that his grip on logic and reason is not as tight as it could be so sometimes the battle is much harder then it need be, especially when dear old dad is tired too.

So yesterday had some real moments in which the two of us were butting heads like a couple of rams and it was less than pleasant in large part because neither one of us really enjoys it. In addition I know that there is something bothering him now but I really do not know what it is.

For around the past ten days or so it has been there just beneath the surface. I do not know if he is jealous because of the attention his little sister has been receiving or if this stems from a problem at school because he has been unable or unwilling to verbalize it.

Last night he told me that he hates school. In the morning he is slow to get ready and a little unsure about going in, but he comes home with a big smile and his teachers say that he plays well with the other kids.

All this does is leave me wondering if there really is anything significant or if it is just a momentary hiccup. I suppose that we shall see.

Matisyahu

I owe a number of bloggers thanks for turning me on to Matisyahu. I enjoy his music because I enjoy the music not because he is a novelty act.

Feeling Unsettled

I am feeling unsettled. I have some ideas why, but I'll save that discussion for a different day, I am too tired to do it now. Here are some thoughts to share. I see Ron Cey at the gym on a regular basis.

He is in great shape and I sometimes wonder why he doesn't tell the Dodgers that he is ready to play again. The salaries are much more interesting then when he played.

Some people have a hard time feeling the sunshine and seeing blue skies no matter what the world around them looks like and others never notice the grey. Why is that.

I ran into a bunch of people I grew up with this past weekend including a woman who was widowed at 25 or was it 26. I was happy to learn that she is engaged now. It must be almost 10 years since her husband died, wow.

Come to think of it I can name at least 15 people who have/had cancer of some kind or another who are of my generation. They grew up in different places and had different experiences but it still makes me wonder.

Curb Your Enthusiasm made me laugh today and I needed it but there is never a time in which I don't need to laugh. Laughter is like a friend, there can never be too many.

I look out at the bloggers I read consistently and I sometimes wonder if we would be friends in real life or if we would find little in common. I wonder how many near friendships I have had with people who I might have really gotten along well with if we had just taken the time to get to know each other better. If only there had been blogs then.

My football pool is killing me. Three weeks of coming in second place, so close and yet so far.

See you in the AM. Lailah tov from LA.

FCC To Cancel Desperate Housewives

In a stunning and unprecedented move the FCC has used the exception clause which states that when necessary the FCC may take exception to the programming on the public airwaves and unilaterally remove the offensive program.

Ok, how many of you believed that first paragraph. It sounds real, doesn't it. I have a very real concern that we are currently facing a time in which some people think that it is there place to legislate morality and I am quite concerned by that.

I think that it is reasonable to pay attention to the morality of society in general meaning that it is smart to keep an ear to the ground about what people are doing and thinking but that doesn't mean that I believe that the government should be heavily involved beyond a basic level.

I am especially concerned because we have so many issues that to me are far more pressing, healthcare, education and the war all take precedent and should be given priority over some of the other areas that the Feds are looking at.

Just my 2 cents.

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King Tut, Dual Identities and More

Twenty-six years ago I was privileged to go to LACMA to see the King Tut exhibit. I was 10 years-old and fascinated by it. I remember being amazed by the things I saw, even then I loved history and it just brought so much to life.

Did I mention that I told old Tut that my people had left his in the dust. I said it with a smirk but what do you expect from a smartass ten year-old boy and didn't the seder remind me every year about how we had overcome Egyptian slavery. But I have to hand to the king, he did have a song written in his honor.

In any case the exhibit has returned to LACMA and I am considering going again. I had been wavering because part of me is a little cash conscious now and I debated about whether it was worth it.

However LACMA in its infinite wisdom has just made me a special offer and I just might take them up on it. There is an upcoming exhibit on the Mayans as well as one on Cezanne and Pisarro that sound interesting.

I love “Curb your Enthusiasm.” The show returns tomorrow and I am really excited, can't wait.

Spent a few minutes watching The Bourne Supremacy tonight. I read the book years ago and saw the movie earlier this year. It was ok, not great, certainly not as good as the first movie, but I enjoyed it. I like action and and as stated so many times I often feel like I have multiple identities.

I am a father, a husband, son, brother and more. I am a student, a lover of life and someone who is forever restless. My soul is unfettered and free, but I am not and that is just how life is sometimes. When I can I let it roam and perhaps that is why I write.

My fercockteh digestive system has been acting up again. Not unlike so many things in life the problems here are cyclical and really seem to be more related to stress than anything else. Sometimes it doesn't matter what I eat because the problems show up. On the whole I feel like I deal with it all pretty well, there are people who refuse to leave the house and I must say that I understand it.

Bathroom issues can be very difficult to discuss and if you think about you are taught at an early age that if you do not follow social conventions and use the toilet there is something wrong with you. Now don't get me wrong, there are so many reasons why this is not just a good idea but a necessity, but when you are faced daily with the fear of not making it on time you begin to think differently.

A short time ago I was told by a colleague that they were amazed that a man my size could move so quickly. Apparently they saw me sprinting through the mall and even witnessed my vaulting over a bench the way OJ used to clear through the airport in those Hertz commercials.

They had no idea that I was hellbent on getting to a bathroom and short on time. Should I have been offended that they referred to me as a "man my size" or should I have written described me in that manner. Hmmm...I don't care.

I might add that one of the men that I play basketball with has said that he hates setting a pick or screen on me because he invariably remembers the game for the next three or four days. Can I tell you how much I love that. I really do. It is not because I want to hurt anyone but because I am a little boy and like so many other little boys I like to feel like I am the strongest man around.

Speaking of physical strength I am still engaging the little boys at the gym in various tests of strength, or as I said to one, It is always the First night of Festivus here at which point I found out that there are more differences between 20 and 36 then I had realized because he had no idea what I was talking about.

I also found out that he is just as dumb as I was at 20 in the respect that when I was that age I really thought that someone of my current age was really slowing down. What I didn't know was the slowing down meant that they couldn't go off and drink all night for weeks at a time and still function and had nothing to do with physical strength.

Anyway I talked him into two basic contests. The first was a simple military lift, the second was a basic curl and the the third was done on one of the rowing machines. I won each time because I set him up. I watched him lift on several different occasions and had a decent idea of what he could do.

Not that any of this means anything, but sometimes the simple things in life make me happy. Speaking of that, his girlfriend later approached me and wanted to know what my sign was. Being a student of Groucho I said open and then when she said that she didn't understand I said frequently, this too was met with a blank stare at which point I realized that the reader who said that I was neither funny nor witty might be right, or maybe not. Part of the joy of being me is that I am my own best audience. Call me a narcissist but don't call me late for dinner I like to eat.

BTW, I am a Taurus which according to her is why I won because he is a Pisces and everyone knows that the Bull beats the fish.

I am ready to write more but this post is getting a little wordy and some of you are probably bored and or starting to fall asleep which begs the questions of what are you doing here and why are you still reading me. You must really enjoy being punished.

Plenty more of this nonsense to be shared at a later date.

Some Interesting Tunes here

Check this link out. No really, there are lots of things like this or Milton Berle singing Yellow Submarine, or this.

A Simpson's Moment

I thought that you might enjoy watching Conan interview the Simpsons. Also provided for your viewing pleasure The Simpranos.



My Grandparents, Stress and Stuff

It has been a rough start to the day, things just haven't gone the way that I want them to and I am finding it difficult to improve my attitude. I am trying to, I really am. I am working hard to tear away the moody mindset and focus on the positive but I am having limited success.

Given the chance I'd love to go workout on my heavy bag for a while and then spend a couple of hours running up and down the court but those are not options right now. I can't ignore the things that I have to do at the office and yet at the moment I can't get them done.

A salesman with a bad attitude is unlikely to get any sales and that is not going to help improve his disposition so the goal of this post is to try and spew out as much of this crap as I can and push myself into that happier place I normally occupy.

Last night one of my grandfathers cried his way through a telephone call with me. I have written about my grandparents and concerns about them many times. You can find links here, here, and here.

I even wrote a post about putting it all in perspective here and for the most part I have, but there are moments when it is harder and yesterday set me off a bit. My grandfather cried because he is 91.5 and his ability to cope with stress is being beaten down by age and time.

His greatest fear is losing my grandmother or perhaps it is better to say that he fears dying first and leaving her. She is the same age as my grandfather and she is slowly beginning to lose it. There are little cracks in the dam, memory issues that used to be infrequent appear more often and she is showing some confusion about little things here and there.

I don't think that she is all that bad, but I agree with my grandfather that she is not as sharp as she used to be and neither is he. Part of the problem is that he knows it, he feels the edges getting duller and he is frustrated because his memory has always been outstanding and now it is getting harder for him to remember some things.

Physical ailments are taking their toll and though you can remind him of his age and how lucky he is those reminders are having less and less of an impact. More and more I find myself in role reversal mode. I prop him up. I promise him that he has no reason to fear being homeless or hungry and I tell him that if he dies I will see that my grandmother is taken care of. I make the promise as his eldest grandchild because I know that using those words will resonate with him.

And then when he tells me that every now and then he feels like giving up I stop in my tracks and consider the best response. I pause so that I can think for a moment about what I can do/say to keep his spirits up and to try and see that my mother has a father to look to for a little bit longer.

On the flip side of the fence I see my dad's father slowly fading. The final march approaches and I cannot do much other than to try and make it easy on him. It is more than 2 years since my grandmother died and I can see in his eyes that a piece of him is still gone and I feel his sadness.

The arms that held me as a baby and hugged me as a child have all become so frail. I have seen the the three of them argue with each other and I have seen them share the joy of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I have held both of my grandfathers as they cried over the deaths of children, spouses and siblings. I have seen a lot and learned far more than I can share.

But I am not ready to let them go. I will not let them give up and I will use the various tricks I have learned over the years to keep their attention. And I see that my children spend as much time with them as possible.

It makes me very sad to think that my daughter may not have any memories of them, but I know that my son will and we will all take whatever time we get be it months, years or millenia.

All I want for them is a good quality of life and for them to feel happy. If I can help to provide that then I will. It is not so much to ask.

My Toughest Critic

There is one person in my life who is harder on me about everything I do than anyone else. There is one person who is adept at pushing my buttons and making me as crazy as can be.

They drive me to drink and distraction. They are the reason my hair is falling out and my stomach aches. At times they have made me scream in frustration. I can't count the number of times that I have threatened to just walk out and end my relationship with them, but as much as I want to the reality is that this is simply impossible.

And the reason that I am unable to do this is because my toughest critic is.....me.

That is the truth. I am harder on myself than anyone. I read my blog and time and time again I cringe at what I read because I think that the topic is silly, the words are poorly selected and I wonder why I don't just scrap the whole thing

In my head I see myself as I was at 20. I have washboard abs, my body is chiseled from hours of working out and I still find time to read. I like that image and then I look at what 16 years of life has done and I see the same intensity in my eyes, broad shoulders, dark hair and a stomach that demonstrates a love for food. It is not horrible, but it is not what it could be.

So I flex and I see those abs reappear and I know that the Michelin Man is occupying my body and that if I took the time and made the effort I could evict him, but I don't because I apparently don't care. I care enough to be irritated, but not enough to change.

I look at the projects around my house and I see that I have managed to finish many of them but then I think about how hard my father worked and I feel like his work ethic exceeds my own by light years.

The list goes on and on. There are so many things that I could and can improve and I wonder how many I actually will. So I take a deep breath and consider what I have and where I am at and I have to admit that things are really pretty good, but sometimes I just have trouble accepting it.

And you know that in my reality the hardest person to please is myself. So my goal in the coming year is to try to relearn how to ease off on myself and to maintain some perspective.

I'd write more but it is far too late and I need to sleep now. Lailah tov from LA.

Soul Mates

I have received a ton of feedback regarding my story about Daniel and Anne, but I cannot say that I was surprised.

I think that there are a ton of people who are interested in determining what makes people soul mates and how in turn they can find their own because in a world that at times can seem dark and scary we often search for someone to hold our hand and keep us company in the dark.

If you were to ask me what my thoughts are about this I suppose that I could offer quite a bit, but then again I am not known for brevity. But in my limited experience I would offer a few comments to the men.

Women are far more simple then we make them out to be. Love them, love them, love them and you will get back more than you give. And a central part of that is figuring out how to get into her head. Figure out what makes her tick, what drives her and speak with her about it. Listen to her thoughts and share a few of your own and you can begin to build a foundation of trust.

I know that much of this sounds new agey and hokey and I am sure that some of you are rolling your eyes, we are all different and not everyone responds to the same thing, but some things do translate to larger percentages of people.

One is that as a group we men do not communicate as well with women as they would like. To quote my father I'll lay dollars to donuts (dad, that still makes no sense to me) that if you really make an effort to really speak with women you will find many to be very receptive and you can still do this in way that retains your masculinity.

The goal as I said is to get inside her head and to establish that deeper level of trust.

For women I would say that you have to remember that men are placed in a hard position. We receive so many different messages and one of the primary ones is that we must stuff our emotions down into a little box. If you can help him feel comfortable sharing those inner thoughts you will find that he speaks to you in the way that you are searching for.

Ok, so what have I really said about soul mates and how does this all relate. Well, I am not sure that I have really offered anything but I think that if you are going to find that person we all seek you have to place yourself in a position in which you are receptive to meeting him/her and the only way that I know to make that happen is to open the door to being hurt/rejected so that you can find that one person that makes your skin tingle.

Take it from Daniel and Anne:

"One kiss. One touch. One man and one woman and nothing will ever be the same. You know it and I know it and we live it."

I Want to Go to Ireland

I have a very strong interest in Ireland. I have never been there but would very much like to go there to visit. Not to mention that I have family there that no one has seen in quite some time.
How many Jews can there be in Ireland, I suspect that there should be some good stories to be had.

G is Getting On the Plane

I just finished speaking with my friend G. We officially said goodbye in person on Sunday, but I wanted to be certain to wish him well prior to his boarding the plane.

FWIW, I meant o mention in one of the earlier posts that he was working in the Cantor Fitzgerald office at the WTC until September 8. At one point in time I was supposed to have flown out for Manhattan for business so we had plans to eat at Windows on the World, but as it happened I had to cancel my trip.

The morning of 911 I spent a couple of anxious hours trying to locate him to confirm that he had returned to LA.

Plane Trouble

There are moments in your life when you feel as if you have narrowly avoided being part of or involved in something that is dangerous to your health. I have several of these stories each with varying degree of danger.

This post was prompted by the JetBlue incident that took place yesterday. I have been planning a business trip to New York for quite some time now. For a number of different reasons I have had to reschedule it three times, but at one point in time I had been looking at this week and had intended to fly JetBlue out of Burbank.

None of this really means that I would have been on that flight yesterday, but it is still closer to home than I like. Some of that is because I am not real fond of flying anymore. I used to love it, but now I simply tolerate it as a necessary evil in my life.

Along the lines of being a part of a dangerous situation there was an incident that took place a little more than four years ago. I remember it very well because of what happened and because it took place a week before September 11.

Here is the skinny on that. The family had flown out to Chicago for a family celebration. My son was just short of being nine months old and it was his first flight. If I close my eyes I can still see him looking around the plane, his face rapt with attention.

Due to limited vacation I had to come home a few days earlier than everyone else. And that is how I found myself on the Saturday night of Labor Day weekend waiting to pick everyone up at LAX and I do mean waiting because the flight was supposed to arrive at around 6 PM but didn't actually land until after 1 AM.

For several hours I paced through the terminal with limited information about what caused the delay. All I knew was that the plane had had some minor mechanical difficulty. Around 4 hours or so into the delay I found out more about what caused the delay.

The person sitting next to me answered a ringing cellphone where they learned from their son who was a passenger on the plane that they had almost been forced to make an emergency landing and that the minor mechanical difficulty was far more serious than United had told those of us waiting for the flight to arrive.

I was both somewhat relieved and more upset to learn that. The moment also taught me more about the incredible love and fear you can have as a parent.

On a side note that can be filed under weird happenings I can also relate that during the waiting at one point in time we were confined to a section of the terminal because the L.A.P.D. were trying to apprehend a suspicious person. I never found out why they wanted this person but I can tell you that in the aftermath of September 11 I wondered from time to time if there was any relationship to that incident or if it was just an odd moment.

I think that this it for now, back later.

Pallywood

If you want to see how thoughts, ideas and impressions can be manipulated by the media take a few minutes to watch Pallywood.

My Son 'The Killer'

My son is in his final year of preschool. In just a few months my little man will be heading off to a new place to hang his hat and we'll be faced with new challenges. We are still faced with the dilemma of where to send him, so I am glad that we have some time before we need to make the decision.

In the interim we have noticed that he learned new tricks at camp this summer, some good, some not as good. I am sure that my fellow parents are familiar with the changes that come from your child being exposed to older children.

One of the things that he has begun to do is talk about killing people. Most often this discussion is in the form of he and I being superheroes who are killing bad guys. The mother of one his classmates complained to me that her twin boys are having similar conversations and is quite concerned with what she calls violent talk.

Perhaps it is because I am a five-year-old trapped in a man's body, but I am not real concerned about this. I remember playing with squirt guns and army men, I remember playing cops and robbers and any number of games in which we killed each other.

I didn't grow up to become a killer. I don't own a gun and don't care much if I ever do, in part because if you break into my home I am far more interested in using a bat or mag light on you than shooting, but I digress.

The thing is that it is clear that the children do not really understand the significance of what they are saying. They don't understand permanence or the severity of their suggested actions so I cannot get real upset over this.

I plan on speaking with him about his language because I think that this can be a good life lesson, but I don't think that he is doing anything that is going to harm or scar him for life. There are important issues and lessons to discuss, but perspective should be maintained.

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A War On Pornography

My thanks to Jewish Atheist for tipping me off this story in the Washington Post.

"The FBI is joining the Bush administration's War on Porn. And it's looking for a few good agents.

Early last month, the bureau's Washington Field Office began recruiting for a new anti-obscenity squad. Attached to the job posting was a July 29 Electronic Communication from FBI headquarters to all 56 field offices, describing the initiative as "one of the top priorities" of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and, by extension, of "the Director." That would be FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III."

I am more than a little aggravated by this, but before I mention why let's take a look at some more of the story.
"The new squad will divert eight agents, a supervisor and assorted support staff to gather evidence against "manufacturers and purveyors" of pornography -- not the kind exploiting children, but the kind that depicts, and is marketed to, consenting adults."
Ok, now we are going after consenting adults because we have no other priorities, nothing else is going on. Fortunately I am not the only one who feels this way.

"I guess this means we've won the war on terror," said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. "We must not need any more resources for espionage."

Among friends and trusted colleagues, an experienced national security analyst said, "it's a running joke for us."

A few of the printable samples:

"Things I Don't Want On My Resume, Volume Four."

"I already gave at home."

"Honestly, most of the guys would have to recuse themselves."

Federal obscenity prosecutions, which have been out of style since Attorney General Edwin Meese III in the Reagan administration made pornography a signature issue in the 1980s, do "encounter many legal issues, including First Amendment claims," the FBI headquarters memo noted."

Some of you are probably looking for more details on what this means, allow me to share some more information with you.

"Applicants for the porn squad should therefore have a stomach for the kind of material that tends to be most offensive to local juries. Community standards -- along with a prurient purpose and absence of artistic merit -- define criminal obscenity under current Supreme Court doctrine.

"Based on a review of past successful cases in a variety of jurisdictions," the memo said, the best odds of conviction come with pornography that "includes bestiality, urination, defecation, as well as sadistic and masochistic behavior." No word on the universe of other kinks that helps make porn a multibillion-dollar industry."

I haven't seen anything here that makes me think that the gov't has any business looking at any of this. If consenting adults want to engage in this behavior then that is there perogative. I don't understand what is sexy about bestiality or some of these other categories, but I don't have to. Unless you can show me how this is hurting people there is no reason for the gov't to do this.

Here is another selection for your review in which you see that Gonzales subscribes to the Meese philosophy.

"But Gonzales endorses the rationale of predecessor Meese: that adult pornography is a threat to families and children. Christian conservatives, long skeptical of Gonzales, greeted the pornography initiative with what the Family Research Council called "a growing sense of confidence in our new attorney general."

Congress began funding the obscenity initiative in fiscal 2005 and specified that the FBI must devote 10 agents to adult pornography. The bureau decided to create a dedicated squad only in the Washington Field Office. "All other field offices may investigate obscenity cases pursuant to this initiative if resources are available," the directive from headquarters said. "Field offices should not, however, divert resources from higher priority matters, such as public corruption."

Public corruption, officially, is fourth on the FBI's priority list, after protecting the United States from terrorist attack, foreign espionage and cyber-based attacks. Just below those priorities are civil rights, organized crime, white-collar crime and "significant violent crime." The guidance from headquarters does not mention where pornography fits in."

This just makes me shake my head and if you forgive me for being crude some of these men are in desperate need of a blow job or some other release. In the midst of war there is no reason that I can see that warrants this kind of attention to pornography that is provided by consenting adults fo consenting adults.

How about focusing on the schools and healthcare.

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What Do You Hope To Accomplish

I received an email from someone who wants to know my goals/objectives are for this blog. Here they are in no particular order.

This is a place where I can air out my thoughts about life and the experiences I have had and will have. It is a place where I expect at some point in the future my children, grandchildren and beyond will be able to learn more about who I am/was and see that there is much more to me than the guy who put food on the table and played games with them.

The blog offers me an opportunity to continually practice my writing so that I can work upon honing my skills and take steps to try and improve them.

It also offers an opportunity to potentially be discovered, that is, maybe someone will love my writing and hire me to write a book. If this doesn't happen I will be fine because the initial goals/objectives are being met.

And in some respects the most important thing that this blog allows me to do is that it offers me the opportunity to interact with people I might not ever meet.

That is it for now.

A Story of Two Souls Searching to Merge

I began writing this on a whim this past August. If you haven't read the first part I recommend that you click here and then click here and you can rejoin us afterwards. FWIW, I am not real happy with the quality of this so it is entirely possible that I will junk it or rework it several times.
Baby, Now That I've Found You By Gary Jules

refrain:
"Baby, now that I've found you
I can't let you go
I'll build my world around you
I need you so
Baby, even though you don't need me
You don't need me.

refrain

Baby, baby, since first we met (doot-doot)
I knew in this heart of mine (I wanna tell you, doot-doot)
The love we had could not be bad (doot-doot)
Play it right and bide my time

Spent a lifetime looking for somebody
To give me love like you
Now you've told me that you wanna leave me
Darling, I just can't let you.

refrain
refrain

Spent a lifetime looking for somebody
To give me love like you
Now you've told me that you wanna leave me
Darling, I just can't let you."

She was a grown woman but falling for Daniel had been like falling in love for the first time again. Anne played the song over and over again. Her heart ached, there was no other way to put it. It was a physical pain, she missed Daniel so much that she couldn't breathe. Everywhere she went she looked for him, listened for his voice but he was never there.

At night she lay in bed fantasizing about him, wondering what building a life with him would be like. It was all consuming and she was easily lost in her reverie. For hours she would lie there making plans for the future and then her husband would reach for her and the reality of her situation would come crashing down upon her head.

She tried to be present, she tried to be attentive and to tend to his needs and for a while that effort was enough to assuage her guilt but she soon began to find that it was becoming harder and harder to fool herself into believing the tales she told.

So she spoke to Daniel and she talked about ending things. They agreed that they should focus on their current spouses and that if they worked on the relationships that they were in they could salvage them. It made so much more sense and so they tried several times to end it

I say that they tried to end it because they never quite managed to do so. Each time that they agreed to walk away was among the most heartwrenching experiences that they could imagine.
Daniel said that walking away from Anne was like trying to hold his breath for eternity. Daniel was a tough guy who was used to just sucking it up because sometimes that is just what you do but this was the kind of pain that he couldn't escape. There was no running away to be done because he couldn't get away from himself and he couldn't get drunk enough to forget her let alone he was unwilling to take that out.

He had too many responsibilities and whatever the cost he would suffer it to protect his children.

Anne lost 10 pounds the first time that they tried to split up. Her husband was oblivious to her suffering and so when he complimented her on how she looked it was sincere but without any understanding as to why she had stopped eating.

Neither one of them could say who called who or how they ended up speaking again they just knew that they had and if you had seen them the day that they had resumed communicating you would have thought that they had just won the lottery.

The feeling of joy that emanated from the two of them was palpable. What they had learned was the reality that sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants and logic and reason play no part in this.

There are souls that are connected on such a deep and intimate level that once they meet they cannot bear to be separated nor can they reach their full potential without each other. There is a need that they fill in each other in a way that cannot be explained nor understood, just accepted.

Dear SQ

 Figure this as a placeholder for a letter to SQ.