Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Coin of the spirit
Today I was thinking about aphorisms, sayings, one-liners, observations, (coinages, if you will) and some of the ones I've come up with over the years. Here's a sampling thereof.
My take on Jewish cultural and religious conflict: There's no right and left; there's me and wrong.
The question plaguing daters of every stripe: Do you stop because there's no reason to keep going, or keep going because there's no reason to stop?
A book I'm going to write one of these years about tznius and relationships: The Parameters of Propriety.
I'll add more when I think of them. But in the meantime, to quote good ol' Kinky, "May the God of your choice bless you."
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Hamastan - ותמלא הארץ חמס
The people had enough. The people want to see government that actually has a sense of pride, purpose, and dedication to the public. That group, unfortunately, is Hamas.
Hamas is dedicated to principles of Islamic rule. Its leaders (for the most part) aren't looking for a payout; they're looking for a palestinian nation that will stretch from the Mediterranean to the Jordan. And they're happy to kill any and every Jew that gets in the way.
From an international standpoint, Hamas is a fundamentalist, terrorist group. No question about it. But on the ground, in the refugee camps and squalid palestinian towns, Hamas is the group that's giving out medicine, distributing food, educating the children (a frightening prospect), and offering any glimmer of hope. They're very clever, to be honest. Almost like the mafia don who carries out bloody killings on a daily basis, but who's beloved by his neighbors for being generous and affable.
So - it's important to remember that Hamas's victory doesn't necessarily mean that the majority of palestinians want to wipe Israel off the map. It just means that they're fed up with the corruption and cronyism that have kept them in squalor and poverty for the last 40 years.
It's equally important to remember that Hamas is dedicated to destroying Israel. Completely. Hamas has no qualms about admitting its intent to kill me. Specifically me. My wife and kids, too. So the US and Europe are absolutely correct in stating that they won't deal with terrorists, and they should keep Hamas isolated from the international community. Israel, too, should finish the security wall--encompassing any current West Bank yishuvim and leaving room for growth--and pull the heck out. Shut them away. Let Syria and Saudi Arabia provide them with aid. Give them a couple of years to establish a palestinian infrastructure that's free of corruption and graft (if such a thing is even possible), and then, let's see whether the majority of moderate citizens will elect a moderate government.
I think that in addition to stamping out corruption and establishing a Judenrein state, Hamas wants to swing the palestinian government from a secular parliament to an Islamic fundamentalist theocracy. If that's the case, the territory on the other side of the wall could become another Afghanistan, complete with Taliban-like religious police and a complete suppression of civil rights. Maybe then the US will step in and bomb them all to hell.
We'll have to see whether Hamas can carry out its 'good works' internally and then bow to the will of the people in terms of foreign relations. I honestly don't know. I do know, however, that Israel is in a very bad position right now. I recommend additional unilateral steps (without regard for dunams re-annexed), complete with plenty of targeted killings. Seal them off and then let's see how the bacteria in the petri dish propagate.
Monday, January 23, 2006
Don't Buy What They're Selling
They've all agreed to appear together on a televised special. "There's gonna be shocking revelations... I'm really excited," says Joey. Wow. Can you imagine, shamelessly hawking a TV show that showcases your most base and animalistic nature? He's excited?! Or he's got a deal whereby he gets a fee and then percentage points based on the ratings, more like. And between insurance fraud, his divorce, and his new wife, Joey needs all the money he can get.
Amy says, "you've seen everything else play out on TV, so why not this?" That sounds like a woman who has no pride left to salvage. Nor should she. She spent seven years in jail - not the best dignity-booster - and I'm sure she needs a payout just as badly as Joey does.
And then there's Mary Jo. Still partially paralyzed from being shot in the face. She's engaged, too. I don't know for certain, but I'd be willing to bet she was the last one to sign on. But why should she walk away from a deal where Joey and Amy, the two lowlives who victimized her so thoroughly, laugh all the way to the bank?
The kicker is, according to the Yahoo! story, the show hasn't been picked up by a network yet.
That's where I see some slight, small glimmer of hope for humanity.
David Krieff, the producer who decided this was a worthwhile project, is scum. But if some network rewards his efforts with a fat broadcast and distribution deal, then there's absolutely no hope, no excuse, no point to discussing the media any further.
I know that the very assumption that there's something worthwhile or redeeming about television is questionable. If not heretical. But if this 'special' gets picked up, then the deal is sealed, at least for me. We're in S'dom (Sodom). Nothing's going to get fixed, and nothing's going to improve. The end is very hopefully near.
Joe Heller (author of Catch-22) said it best: "It used to shock me and alarm me and discourage me that there was a general decline of everything of value. But it doesn't surprise me anymore. It seems inevitable and natural and there's no way to resist it." -- salon.com Dec. 13, 1999
I just wish things could be different.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
A Chanukah to Remember
Hello, friends. A lot has happened since my last post. My position at PC Magazine was 'eliminated.' I'm working now as a consultant, doing technical writing at a major accounting firm. I'm also keeping my eyes open for another high-profile, super-cool media gig. In the meantime, my only means of communication to the masses is this blog. And I've got plenty to report.
The first night of Chanukah, we had the unique privilege of hosting an intimate concert with R' BenZion Solomon. All credit goes to Michelle, for volunteering our home and preparing a sumptuous feast'ele for the guests, and of course, to the holiest neighbors in the world, Toby & David and Nachman & Miriam, for making it all happen.
It was a dark and stormy night. We called the concert for 8 o'clock, so people would have plenty of time to light menorah, eat, relax, and so on. By 8:30, only a handful of people had arrived. By 9:30, though, the room was packed.
BenZion and his holy wife, Dina, made everyone feel welcome and comfortable. The audience included teens, young couples, older families, FFBs, BTs, and everything in between. Strumming his guitar, BenZion started out with Shomer Yisrael, praying for Hashem to guard His children. He went on to sing various Shlomo niggunim, some of which appear on "Give Me Harmony."
The highlight of the evening, though, was the retelling of his personal miracle - his journey home to Yiddishkeit. BenZion's story is humorous and heartwarming, and it inspired everyone in the room.
It also made me very wistful. If only I had known Shlomo more closely, and for a longer time. If only I had spent some time in San Francisco, at the House of Love and Prayer. Or on the Moshav.
Granted, I was only 3 years old when the Moshav was founded, but the spiritual level and emotional connection these people have to one another and to Hashem is remarkable. I want to be a part of it. And thanks to my deepest friends and neighbors, and to Michelle, I had an opportunity to strengthen my ties to the chevra this yomtov.
Next year, we'll have a few thousand more people, and we'll celebrate the first night of Chanukah in Yerushalayim. If, G-d forbid, that doesn't happen, then everyone's invited to my house.