Friday, November 30, 2007

Ear Trumpets, Back in Style

Gizmodo makes me laugh.

This is Happening, Baby

Today my phone, which I am reasonably fond of, started giving me the message, "Insert Smart Chip". I'm reading this as a bad sign.

Today at lunch time I'm heading over to the Tice's Corner Apple Store and gettin' me an iPhone. Must be done.

I need me the pretty phone, and if mine doesn't work any more, I actually have an excuse to buy it.

Hell, I even remembered to sync my phone with my computer last week. It's a sign. Guess I'll listen to my 10 voice mails, now.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Is the Long Sleep Coming to an End?

Yesterday morning we had CNN on in the background, specifically, "This Week at War". I was half listening, and then I heard something that caught my attention - "accommodation without reconciliation". Or at least, something really similar to that. The exact phrase isn't as important as the idea that someone was actively trying to get warring neighbors to live together in something resembling harmony without making either side try to bend their philosophy to be more in line with the other's. It's the concept that maybe everyone has the right to their own ideas, and that we should coexist rather than conquer. It's, just so... reasonable.

It was the first time in a long time that I recall hearing on a news network an idea that was full of the shades of gray that make up reality. It wasn't the black-and-white, good-and-evil kind of cartoony talk that I've become used to and sickened by. It was as if intelligent people were having an intelligent discussion.

It made me think that the era of George W. Bush is finally over. I'm going to hope.

Don't even get me started on the part where a military guy was explaining that the same kind of military campaign doesn't work the same ways in different places, against different enemies on different terrain. I'm not ready to talk about how reasonable that is, yet.

November 26, 1968

Forget blogiversaries, it's my 39th birthday.

People tell me I don't look a day over 38 - and yet I am!

I have a political opinion to share, and maybe I'll get it up here later. Maybe I won't. I am whimsical on anniversaries.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

There's a Light...

Americans enter holidays in dark mood: Reuters poll
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans enter the holiday season in a dark mood, with economic worries, security fears and a lack of confidence in government fueling growing pessimism, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.
Geez, not me! I've spent the past week with rosy visions in my head of my aunt and I chopping herbs and watching the parade on TV while sipping diet-spritzer beverages. I see my family sitting in my dining room at an attractively set table, with me chatting with my cousin and my aunt laughing at my dad's jokes, so that I don't have to. I anticipate the pleasurable discussion of whether we should play a game, watch a movie in the house, or go out to a movie together.

I plan on having a lovely holiday, and I'm entering the season with a mood of anticipation and happy eagerness. I wish the same for all of you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Why do I have so much work to do when all I want to do is stay home and bake elaborate desserts?

Don't people know it's almost Thanksgiving?

Friday, November 16, 2007

As if you didn't get enough Jazz

(Yet another Jazz post... roll your eyes now.)

Yes, I write. Many of you might think I do it a bit much. I have opinions on everything - even things I know absolutely nothing about. (I can talk your ear off about artificial turf vs. real grass all day long and I've never even seen a piece of it.)

But if you're feeling like you still aren't getting enough of me, did you know that you can now listen to me and cut out all that bother of reading? That's right. I've been doing some background work on a couple of internet based radio shows, and starting today I will be cohosting, along with Ron Beasely of Middle Earth Journal) a regularly scheduled, one hour political discussion show at Blogtalk Radio! The show will run today starting at 1:00 pm Eastern time. (10:00 am pacific) Shortly beforehand, you can follow the link at the bottom of this post to tune in, listen, call in, or participate in the live web chat which accompanies the show. For that matter, take a tour of the site. There are shows on a wide variety of subjects running pretty much around the clock.

If you register at BTR (it's free and only takes a minute) you'll have your own user name in web chats and you can pick shows as "Favorites" (like ours! hint hint) which will allow the system to notify you by e-mail in advance of any of your favorites going on the air.

Today we'll be discussing the future of Israel (as we've been blogging about this week) as well as the "War On Thanksgiving" (insert spooky music) and last night's Democratic debates. Hope to see you there.

Listen to Jazz and Ron on internet talk radio

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Is Israel a Jewish State? (Part II)

(Part I)

Looks like Jazz is horning in on my angle of talking about Jews and Israel. No worries, there's plenty of room in the opinion lounge on this one.

As I am personally Jewish, I already have my opinions worked out on these subjects; I've had my whole life to think about them. I feel that Judaism is a religion, and that ethnicity is separate. I am an American woman of Russian descent. Actually, my family is from Belarus (father's side), Ukraine (maternal grandfather), and Lithuania (maternal grandmother), but I prefer to lump them in with the Russians because I'm callous about my own roots. Say bad things about me if you feel the need to.

Be that as it may, I also feel that Israel is a Jewish State. It was founded to be a (divided) homeland for Jews and "Palestinians" (I'm still not sure exactly what makes a Palestinian). The government is set up around Jewish and non-Jewish rights. Everybody gets all the Jewish holidays off. A whole bunch of the country closes down from sundown Friday night to sundown Saturday night. The official religion is Judaism. And it's not against some "rules of the world" that no one could have ever written.

Why in the world would Saeb Erekat, the senior Palestinian Authority negotiator, say, " is not acceptable for a country to link its national character to a specific religion."? Seriously? This guy believes that?

Most countries were not founded without religious identity, although we know that the U.S. was. Even then, it was only formed as a secular nation because the Puritans were persecuted in England for being weird and stodgy and way too harsh. I mean, seriously, these people were the ones who were "famous for banning from their New England colonies many secular entertainments, such as games of chance, maypoles, and drama, all of which were perceived as kinds of immorality." So they braved the Atlantic Ocean hoping to establish tolerance for their ways.

There are secular nations in the world today, such as Canada, France, Turkey, United States, but certainly even they were not all formed as secular nations. France particularly has had a strong Catholic identity during the years of its monarchy, and was recognized as Catholic country.

The phrase, again, was, " is not acceptable for a country to link its national character to a specific religion.". Let me see this guy say that to the Pope's face in Vatican City.

No, countries do not have to link their national character to a specific religion, but many of them absolutely DO. They do, and it is completely acceptable. It is, after all, their country.
The guise of religious tolerance from a man whose group affiliation has represented such blatant and obvious religious intolerance for so long is a giant hypocritical slap in the face.

Just go ahead and change your statement to " is not acceptable for a country to link its national character to Judaism." So we can see your real stripes, you anti-Jewish bastard.

Is Israel a Jewish State?

(Cross posted by Jazz from Middle Earth Journal)

Close on the heels of our recent question about Jewgenics, Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe ponders the question, Is Israel a Jewish State?

IN ADVANCE of the upcoming diplomatic conference in Annapolis, Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced the other day that he expects the Palestinian Authority to finally acknowledge Israel's existence as a Jewish state. A newly arrived visitor from Mars might wonder why this should even be an issue - after all, Israel is a Jewish state. If the more than 55 countries that make up the Organization of the Islamic Conference are entitled to recognition as Muslim states, and if the 22 members of the Arab League are universally accepted as Arab states, why should anyone balk at acknowledging Israel as the world's lone Jewish state?

Yet Olmert's demand was rebuffed. Saeb Erekat, the senior Palestinian Authority negotiator, said on Monday that Palestinians would refuse to recognize Israel's Jewish identity on the grounds that "it is not acceptable for a country to link its national character to a specific religion."

Rantings of Mr. Erekat aside, apparently, Jacoby decides to tackle the question on the basis of whether or not the dominant religion of a country can be considered the key element of that country's national identity.
In fact, there are many countries in which national identity and religion are linked. Argentinian law mandates government support for the Roman Catholic faith. Queen Elizabeth II is the supreme governor of the Church of England. In the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, the constitution proclaims Buddhism the nation's "spiritual heritage." The prevailing religion in Greece," declares Section II of the Greek Constitution, "is that of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ."

At this point in our discussions on the subject, I think we would be hard pressed to say that Israel is not a Jewish state. But, as discussed in the "Jewgenics" thread, is Israel a Jewish state because of the religion of most of its people or because of the ethnicity of its people? Jacoby's points sound a bit hollow to me in this regard. I had no idea Argentina mandated support of the Roman Catholic Church. Given the religious melting pot that England has become and the falling membership of the actual Church of England, it's hard to picture the Queen's place as the head of the church as anything more than a symbolic reminder of grander times past. I also find it hard to picture the Bhutanese kicking you out of their country for not being a Buddhist.

At this point in our consideration of the question, let's take a moment and consider the story of two families - the Hoffstetlers and the Koeppens. Both families lived in the Rhine Valley region of Germany, as had their ancestors as far back as anyone could remember. Like many of the people of that region, they had dark hair and deep, ruddy complexions. They were also very successful business operators, and one day both families decided to undertake a long and dangerous journey to the far off land of Ireland to expand their business horizons.

Upon arrival Mr. Hoffstetler went so far as to legally change his family name to McCoy (all the better to blend in socially and to enhance his business prospects with the locals) and soon both families were established and flourishing.

Time passed, and the children of both families grew to adulthood. Mr. Hoffstetler's son (now a McCoy) married one of the Koeppen daughters and they began a family of their own. By the time their children were grown, they were clearly Irish. They had an Irish name, spoke the local language as natives, and were born and bred in the land. And yet, they still had dark hair and olive complexions. They in no way resembled the predominantly red haired, light skinned neighbors. So were they Irish? Or were they Germans living in Ireland? Just as we have so many "hyphenated" people in the United States, (e.g. German-Americans, Polish-Americans) it might be fair to say they were "Irish of German descent."

Perhaps Jeff Jacoby could have made a more convincing argument if he asked what percentage of the current residents of Israel are actually genetically distinct descendants of the Tribe of Judah? Until recently I would have thought consideration of such a question to be impossible, but now I'm pretty much coming around 180 degrees and I suspect it's possible that recognizing Israel as a "Jewish State" is not only appropriate, but might be based more in ethnicity than some assumption about the religious beliefs of their people.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


(From Jazz)
OK, it's very weird that the non-Jew wrote this - Tami

While browsing Memeorandum this morning, I clicked on a link to read the answer to the question, Can teen sex prevent delinquency? because, well... it had the phrase "teen sex" in it. In case you're wondering, apparently people who lose their virginity earlier in life are less likely to wind up being delinquents. Who knew this would be the secret to my success?

As I was browsing the article, however, I came upon another link that drew me away from these titillating tidbits. It asked the questions, "Are Jews a race? Is Jewish intelligence genetic?"

This really caught my attention, because I had recently gotten into a fascinating discussion with a reader over at Middle Earth Journal on just this subject. I had opined that there was a distinct difference between being "Jewish" (as in a practitioner of one particular religion) and being an "Israeli" (as in a legal citizen of the country of Israel.) The comments section lit up a bit as one reader informed me that it wasn't quite so simple, as there were people who considered themselves to be "Jewish" by family history, but had never been a practitioner of the religion. The conversation really taught me a lot I didn't know about the history of the Jewish people, but at the same time, I told the reader that I'd never met nor heard of anyone else with that point of view, and I was confused as to how being "Jewish" could equate to a genetic lineage.

Apparently I was way off base.
The average IQ of Ashkenazi Jews is 107 to 115, well above the human average of 100. This gap and the genetic theories surrounding it stirred discomfort in the room. Zoloth, speaking for many liberals, recalled a family member's revulsion at the idea of a Jewish race. Judaism is about faith and values, she argued. To reduce it to biology is to make it exclusive, denying its openness to all. Worse, to suggest that Jews are genetically smart is to imply that non-Jews are inherently inferior, in violation of Jewish commitments to equality and compassion.

My friend Dana Milbank, who's a better (if I may use that word) Jew than I am, watched the discussion, went back to his office, and wrote a column in the Washington Post poking fun at all the talk of superior Jewish intellect. The column, as usual, was really smart.

But what if Judaism as a genetic inheritance is compatible with Judaism as a cultural inheritance? And what if the genes that make Jews smart also make them sick? If one kind of superiority comes at the price of another kind of inferiority, and if the transmission of Jewish values drives the transmission of Jewish genes, does that make the genetics and the superiority easier to swallow?

Apparently so.

So, at least in some schools of study, not only are Jews a different ethnicity, similar to Germans, Indians, Brits and Martians, but they are also smarter than everyone else. I guess if I were Jewish I'd have been smart enough to figure that out on my own. Damn you, Native American genetic code!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Free Rice!

Of course I'm an advocate of The Hunger Site, but sometimes, a gal gets a hankering for a word game.

I saw this on the site of someone I know, pointed out to her by someone else I know. Then, it was once again pointed out to me, in my comments by K (or soobee, depending on where you look). This obviously means that I should link to it here, too. If you like vocabulary quizes, then this is the word game for you!

Free rice for the hungry! Vocab quiz 4 U! Win!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Smelling the Roses

This morning, I drove up to the Mahwah office. I take 287 north to 202 north, and drive along Ramapo Ridge.

As I was coming in, the morning light was filtered through the trees, and I realized that there are few things in this world as lovely as fall foliage on a clear morning.

Really, it's very lovely.

Side note - the mayoral election in my town was decided by a margin of less than 500 votes. Yikes

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Isn't It About Time?

(From Jazz)

It's election day. In many areas, you may be experencing the odd syndrome known as "Off Year Don't Give A Shit" voting. If there's nobody on the ballot but two open town council seats (and you could never stand the pack of bitches running for them anyway) and a state justice seat, it can be rather hard to build up the motiviation to get out there and hit the old voting booth.

Not so in Kentucky. Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher has gotten himself into one scandal after another, and the Democrats are circling like rabid pomeranians at the scene of a meat wagon crash.
Democrats think they are about to steal the governor's mansion in the solidly red state of Kentucky. On Tuesday, voters will choose between Democrat Steve Beshear and incumbent Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher.

Apparently Mssr. Fletcher won election and immediately rewarded a lot of his political contributors with lucrative state jobs and contracts. This is not conducive to a long political life. If you're going to engage in corruption, that's fine. But you've got to make some effort to be a bit less obvious.

My point here is that you never know what might happen in an election, or afterward for that matter. So even if it's just for the local dog catcher, get out there and cast a vote. You might get to see somebody pouring liquid nitrogen on an opponent at the polling station.

And who in their right mind would want to miss that?

Too Bad Atrios Doesn't Read My Blog

I could have reminded him about Afghanistan a little sooner.

Another reminder: it's election day. I'd show you my purple finger to prove that I voted just before 7am today, but we don't do that, here. Good thing, too - a purple finger would freak me out if I was using that hand to eat a sandwich.

Friday, November 2, 2007

A Really Expensive Pussy (cat)

(Another post from Jazz)

House Cat Makes Scientific History
An Abyssinian cat from Missouri, named Cinnamon, has just made scientific history. Researchers have largely decoded her DNA, a step that may aid the search for treatments for both feline and human diseases.

Doctors at the institute are hailing this as "a significant breakthrough in the field of medicine which should allow us to advance the cause of preventative care for... Cinnamon the cat."

In the future, this research should allow doctors to decode your genome and provide fabulous medical assistance for roughly 2.1 billion dollars.

Is anyone else getting a little impatient with this process? Going back to the time when I was a child (and we're talking quite a while here) we were being told that we were decoding the human genetic structure. And once we were done, we would be able to do all sorts of amazing things. Nobody would get sick, we could turn off "switches" that caused bad things to happen to us, we would all live to be 200, be trim, beautiful, and have large penises and/or breasts.

Thus far the only "practical" application I've seen from all this work was some guys who made pigs glow green in the dark. Now don't get me wrong, here... I'm as big a fan of glowing green pigs as the next guy. God only knows that bacon gets pretty boring and florescent pork products could certainly perk up your next fabulous socialite brunch.

But as useful as that may be, is this all we have to look forward to? Will we next be seeing Cinnamon's name changed to Absinthe when she starts glowing green? Surely there's something more we can be doing with all of this DNA information.

Great. You've got a house cat covered for life without needing an HMO. But meanwhile I'm still sitting here hung like a badger! When will my porn star penis genetic injection be ready?? Couldn't you at least make my eyes blue? The head shots I had done for my soon to be launched radio show came out terrible, and I think sparkling blue eyes could really add to my market value. Get on the stick, you scientists!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Hot Pink!!

Funniest Hat Ever.

I love this and hate this so much! At the same time!
(thank you "You Knit What?")