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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
When one nut tries to speak for the neighborhood
As we returned home from lunch Saturday afternoon (actually it was already evening), the first day of Rosh Hashanah, I noticed something on the front porch. My wife picked it up, and turned out to be two pieces of paper stapled together. The top piece was a typed (or printed, more likely) letter, from a neighbor whom we had never met, dated the current day. The letter was an apology for the noise the neighbor had made during the day repairing a major sewage break to the tune of about $5,000. He said that he did not intend to disturb the tranquility of the holy day, and that indeed he had moved into our neighborhood because he is Jewish, albeit non-observant.

This letter was a response to the second piece of paper, a photocopy of a hand-written, obscenity-laced tirade that was apparently delivered anonymously earlier in the day. This missive slammed the neighbor for using "jackhammers" on this "holiest day of the year" in our "Jewish neighborhood." After calling the homeowner a number of foul names, the author concluded, "Why don't you just move?"

Hopefully it should be obvious to anyone that the tone and language used in this letter is not what one would expect from a member of the orthodox Jewish community, which overwhelmingly gives our neighborhood its Jewish feel. In addition to that important point, I should note for the uninitiated that writing is forbidden by Jewish law on Rosh Hashanah and many other holidays, as well as on Shabbat. Saturday was both Shabbat and Rosh Hashanah. Lastly, if this nutjob had been in synagogue where he belonged, he wouldn't have heard a thing!

(For the record, no one in our household heard anything, synagogue or no synagogue.)

I was mortified when I read this - a true descecration of God's name, even though to me it was clear that it was not written by a Torah-observant Jew. The recipient wouldn't necessarily know that! I went by the house in question and found the owner sipping a glass of wine on his front porch. I profusely apologized - not that I had done anything wrong, but sort of for the neighborhood as a whole, though I suppose no one elected me to such a task. I tried to explain how this note was anti-Torah in the ways I described here above. He was very understanding, and actually apologetic if he had disturbed anyone. I told him that the letter was ridiculous and preposterous. That of course he is welcome in this neighborhood, even if he weren't Jewish (again, I hope this is obvious to you, Dear Reader). After a bit of small talk, he thanked me for coming by and I returned home.

On Monday there was a For Sale sign on his lawn.
Monday, September 18, 2006
Grisly, Man.
Mrs. R and I started watching Grizzly Man last night. This is a documentary about a man who lived every summer for 13 years in Alaska among Grizzly bears. 13 turned out to be his unlucky number, as he (and his girlfriend) got ate up.

One of the helicopter pilots who assisted in the post-mauling cleanup is interviewed on camera ("I must have hauled four bags of... people"). He said the obvious - that as much as some people feel a kinship with the bears, as much as they want to make them into something spiritual or something else that they are not, the bears remain bears. And they will eat you, no matter how much you like them or want to understand them.

I turned to Mrs. R and said, "That sounds exactly like a description of terrorist sympathizers*." She replied, "I was going to say the same thing." I love that woman.

On a very related note: When I was a kid, my favorite animal was the Giant Panda. I had a stuffed animal collection and several books about these animals (I didn't say I was a popular kid). And what any Panda expert could tell you back then was, Pandas aren't bears. They're actually a relative of the raccoon. We Panda lovers scoffed at the term "Panda Bear." They were nothing of the sort!

In the early 2000s, I took my own kids to the National Zoo in D.C. to see the pandas. A zookeeper stood outside the exhibit with some education items, such as a skull and some, um, panda poop. I asked the zookeeper, for the benefit of the kids, "Isn't it true that the panda is not a bear, and is actually related to the raccoon?" "Actually," she replied, "recent DNA analysis shows that they are bears, after all."

Imagine that! This big creature, that looked like a regular old bear except for its coloring... turns out to be a bear! I felt like quite an idiot. And then I thought, hey, sounds just like Arafat... the experts keep saying he's a statesman, he's a diplomat... but in the end he's still just a terrorist.

*Or, as I like to call them, the Terrorati
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Blood Libel
At the end of the article "Red Cross hit with $4.2 million blood fine," you'll find this sentence:

"The Red Cross provides nearly half the nation's blood supply, selling blood products to health facilities."

Am I the only one who thought that they just, uh, gave it to whomever needed it? As I recall, they don't pay for, um, donations.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Politics are National
According to Carl Cameron on Fox News, we could look forward to the following, should Democrats take control of the House of Representatives:

Speaker of the House: Nancy Pelosi
Chairman of the Government Reform Committee: Henry Waxman
Chairman of the Financial Services Committee: Barney Frank
Chairman of the Judiciary Committee: John Conyers
Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee: Charlie Rangel
Chairman of the Intelligence Committee: Alcee Hastings

Dear Mr. Indiana moderate, when you're alone in that booth, ready to pull the lever for your the favorite moderate Democrat, keep in mind how far to one end of the political spectrum the folks he or she is going to put in charge are.

Here's some more from the Wall Street Journal: Back to the Congressional Future

With a little more than two months to go before midterm elections, the polls show Democrats well positioned to win the House after 12 years out of power. So it's not too soon to consider who these Democrats are and how they would govern.

All the more so because we've seen most of these faces and their agenda before. While Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi would be a new Speaker of the House, the 19 primary committee chairmen who would dominate hearings, issue subpoenas and write legislation are agents of change only in the sense of going back to the future. They represent the same liberal priorities that bedeviled Bill Clinton's attempt to govern as a New Democrat from 1993-94, and before that Jimmy Carter in the 1970s. To pick one example, 13 of the 19 voted against the welfare reform that Mr. Clinton signed in 1996 and hailed this month as a triumph of "bipartisanship."...
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
More Hollywood Bravery
Clever stuff from Galley Slaves:

"How some people in Hollywood find the courage to stand up to the Christianists again and again is one of the great and beautiful mysteries of our culture. All across the globe, Christians are perpetrating terrible crimes right now: blowing up buildings, bombing hotels and markets, kidnapping and decapitating prisoners, stoning homosexuals and sexually active girls, forcing heathens to convert at the barrel of a gun. The fortitude it requires of our artists to take these people on . . . well, what more can you say?"

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