Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Cat and the Pumpkin

Image may contain: 1 personOctober 30th informs me that somethings in time are mutable, somethings are not.

By Gregorian reckoning, 42 years ago my mother died, four months and 27 days ago it was my father.

That tends to the immutable — why the dead get by with everything.

That October 30 once was the occasion for a small family jack-o’-lantern competition, a friend's birthday, or the date of a child’s Halloween concert seems rather more mutable.

Least mutable, there is no justice, just us.

I suppose the best we can hope for is a ride on Binky.

Friday, September 7, 2018

An outside view: Famous abusers seek easy forgiveness. Rosh Hashanah teaches us repentance is hard

It is often stated that diversity has particular values in addressing moral issues.

For this reason, Famous abusers seek easy forgiveness. Rosh Hashanah teaches us repentance is hard by Danya Ruttenberg may be enlightening.

Even before the precision of the article,  all four of us had been discussing this issue, as befits Jews, around the dinner table.

These discussions were prompted both by some rather diffuse and ill defined coverage in conventional media about attempts for offenders to rehabilitate themselves. 

Everyday, I try and remind myself that I have made a choice to live in a world different from most people.  Sometimes it is very pleasing.

L'Shana Tovah

Saturday, August 11, 2018

How not to do news: NPR Style

The following interview was conducted on NPR's Morning Edition, on Friday 10 August, 2018: Jason Kessler On His 'Unite The Right' Rally Move To D.C.

I cannot let this one pass.

As someone with parents who had some press experience, and who pointed to Edwin Newman as to how an interview ought to be done (particularly his work on Speaking Freely ) -- that is preparation, laying ground work for questions, and patience -- I have rarely heard such a bad interview.

This sort of poorly grounded gotcha interview is easy for the target to dance gleefully around, making the interviewer sound like an idiot.

It also seems to be the current NPR style.  Frank Mankiewicz should be rotating in his grave so fast your could generate electricity.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

J.K. Rowling is giving a master class in identifying anti-Semitism

J.K. Rowling is giving a master class in identifying anti-Semitism  (H/T to Elisa Triffleman)

This reminds of a conversation:

Moss Hart was working on the screen play for  "Gentlemen's Agreement", he asked George Kaufman if Kaufman had read the book.

"I don't need to spend $1.50 to know what it's like to be a damned Jew", he snarled back.

'Segregation's Constant Gardeners': How White Women Kept Jim Crow Alive - Pacific Standard | https://psmag.com/

'Segregation's Constant Gardeners': How White Women Kept Jim Crow Alive

Let that sink in for a moment.

My typical 'Jonathan Edwards' comment is that I find this re-assuring: black/white, men/women, gay/straight, we are all 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God'.

But there is a bit more to the issue than that. The issues are power and status of a group, and is hardly unique to these white women.

Before feeling morally superior, just think of asking house slave (all the way back to Marcus Tullius Tiro),  remember the last paragraph of Nineteen Eighty-Four, or read Darkness at Noon.  Or consider a bit of John Donne.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

From the Forward: Christian Passover Seders Are On The Rise

From the Forward: Christian Passover Seders Are On The Rise

The article's sub-title on Facebook was "Cultural Appropriation or Cultural Appreciation." 

I cannot say I feel appreciated by this.

For the record, the Last Supper could not have been a Seder.

Seders did not exist until after the Temple fell.

There is of course a Christian influence in the Seder itself; it is not as positive as the Roman and Greek influences.

The influence can be found in the practice of opening the door for Elijah and reciting Sh'foch Chamatcha (Psalm 79:6-7, Psalm 69:25, Lamentations 3:66).

Would a Christian Seder want appropriate/appreciate that memory of the times we two peoples shared.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Are we all Captain Renault?

Are we all Captain Renault?

Simple rule of thumb: If someone gives you a 'product' for free, you are the product.

So, I'm sorry, but I can't get too upset about what Facebook did/allowed to happen.  I always assumed they were doing this sort of thing.

That they just gave a master class in how not to handle a PR problem, should be an education to people in the business world. 

But it won't be.  But I expect a rush on NDAs.

That they showed the true meaning of their transparency policies (e.g. transparent as in you can't see it), just shows that they function like all businesses want to.
Back in the day of free over the air TV (and futzing with the horizontal control), I remember getting instruction from my father why it was free:  The networks are selling you to advertisers. You get back at them by knowing that all ads are lies.

A good principal with Facebook et al.  We know they are selling us. 

So, by all means, improve your  Facebook privacy setting (see How Change Your Facebook Settings to Opt-out of platform API sharing), but remember you should not be Shocked, schocked...

Sunday, January 28, 2018

From an Old Bear to a Young One

 Thoughts on the Parash Va'eira, 13 January 2018, 6 Tevet 5777.

Well, I looked, but there is not mention of soccer in the Bible.

The only mention of sports I could find in the bible is in the start of Genesis...and that's baseball.  So we won't go there.

<Oh no, in the Big Inning>

Now there are very few mentions of bears in the Bible either.

The most famous one is in Kings II, where she-bears devour wicked children who were mocking the bald head of the prophet Elisha.

That might please some please some of your relatives, but we won't go there either.

So I took a leaf out of your book, and looked at your Torah (Exodus 7:8-9:35) and Haftarah ( Ezekiel 28:25–29:21) to see if I could talk to you about anything there.

 And, what struck me is that they are both at some level about exiles. Ezekiel is in exile writing back home.

And as it often the case with exiles, writing back home.

As is often the case with exiles, he has perhaps more clarity than the folks back home.

He is in forced exile, hoping to prevent that from happening to the rest of his people.

He doesn't prevent that from happening.

Moses just returned from an exile.

He has returned to an Egypt where we're told no one knows him anymore.

So, it was a sort of an exile of both time and place.

And he is about to go out on exile again, and take his people out on an exile.

And be there for 40 years, and Moses will die in exile.

Exile is part of the heritage of the Jew; maybe it is one of the defining inheritances.

It's also part of life, from the very moment of birth.

Which is why, I think, newborns look so grumpy.

Exile is not a happy thing.

While it comes in many flavors, it generally is uncomfortable: an adversity.

Sweet are the uses of adversity
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And you thought you'd get through this without me quoting Shakespeare.

<No, I didn't>

So, you will go through life, and have already gone through, exiles.

The point of them is for us is how we deal with them going forward.

This will define an awful lot of about us.

I'd like to be there to help you with all your exiles, so would your mother.

But, by the very definition of exiles, I am not sure that we can be.

It reminds of a poem, actually a song that Claudia Schmidt used to sing beautifully.

It goes:
Farewell, my friends,
I’m bound for Canaan,
I’m trav’ling through the wilderness;
Your company has been delightful,
You do not leave my mind distressed.
I go away, behind to leave you,
Perhaps never to meet again,
But if we never have the pleasure,
I hope we’ll meet on Canaan’s land.

I hope that all your exiles are going forward.

I hope that they are as good for you as they can be.

And, as always:

That you should Grow and Be Strong and Do Justly.