We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Saturday, December 8. 2012
The earlier written narrative of the Maccabean revolt against Hellenization and outlawing Jewish worship differs in emphasis from the later “official” Jewish take on the result.
The portion of the Apocrypha (biblical era writings not included in the Jewish Bible) dealing with the events does not mention a miracle of one day’s sanctified oil for the Menorah lasting 8 days. The Book of Maccabees speaks, instead, of eight days of rejoicing the victory to substitute for the eight days of the Torah requirement to celebrate Sukkot, which were missed due to the fighting. The eight days celebration of Chanukah (i.e., rededication) became a custom for every year.
Several centuries later, in the Babylonian Talmud (finalized approx. 5th century, Common Era) interpreting Jewish law and customs, the narrative takes on a new twist, emphasis on G-d’s “miracle” of the oil, which downplays the emphasis on the accomplishment of mens’ arms to retrieve the Temple and Judaism from Hellenistic extinction.
What had happened?: The fall of the Temple and the dispersal (Diaspora) of surviving Jews. No longer having a state, Jews had to survive through craft or accommodation (different than assimilation) to the religion and politics of the states they lived within and not by emphasizing their abilities to fight, not to mention win, when persecuted.
The rise of Zionism in the late 1800s and early 1900s emphasized Jews’ ability to fight and win, and to deserve and have a state to protect Jews from thousands of years of oppression, persecution, and murder, based on thousands of years of roots, presence, worship, investment, hard work, and unceasing yearning for Israel. The more secular Zionists’ pragmatic emphasis stood in stark contrast to the more pacifist or accomodationist teachings that had dominated for almost two millennia.
Today, although a small minority within Israel still cling to illusions of a “miracle” of Palestinians and Muslims transforming their hate into peace, a larger proportion of Jews in the US and Europe – less existentially threatened – cling to such illusions. In Israel and elsewhere, Jews light the eight lights of the Menorah with the extra “helper” light, but the emphasized meaning behind the ritual differs. Adherence to G-d may have given Jews the internal strength to fight and survive, but it was not (as during the Exodus) G-d who directly intervened.
Regardless of this difference, the overriding and more important thing that unites Jews is that regardless of how to get there, either way requires faith and hope. Without faith and hope, necessary for resilience, Jews would not have had reason, cohesion or the internal strength to survive the depredations and challenges to existence of the past two-thousand years since the fall of the Temple to the Romans. Hatikva, Israel's national anthem, means The Hope.
As long as the heart within
Our hope is not yet missing,
Chanukah starts tonight. Come celebrate the miracle of endurance and survival.
The Credo, by Zionist poet Saul Tchernichovsky:
Laugh at all my silly dreams!
Tuesday, December 4. 2012
Most of the most prominent in the West who claim to want peace in the Middle East are, instead, prime facilitators of hate.
By disdaining those Muslims who are closer to Western values, instead pandering to Islamist extremists, or one-sidedly denouncing the defensive measures of the only Western oriented nation in the Middle East, Israel, the claimants of upholding peace have consistently encouraged those who believe and act out of hate.
There are a host of reasons, actually excuses, proffered by those who cloak themselves in plastic doves. At root they shield self-hate for enjoying civilization’s comforts while others purportedly suffer. Their solutions all come down to the same end, take away what has been deservedly earned and give it to those who haven’t earned it. One may argue that many of those supporting this redistribution would also be affected, but in reality they usually shield themselves or are just too blind to realize that until the taker is at their door and their generosity has been squandered or stolen.
I haven’t the slightest care if the above offends anyone who is too effete to speak the truth or so befuddled as to not recognize it or so deceitful as to deny it or so quibbling as to host relative trivia against overriding facts.
There may never be peace in the Middle East so long as, as usual, Muslims hate each other and their rulers are primarily concerned with filling their foreign bank accounts. There certainly will not be peace in the Middle East as long as they use Israel as a distraction from their own fetid culture and politics. To now, the only periods of peace have been when Israel soundly thrashed its attacking enemies, and that has only been temporary as the despoiling hatred of the Arabs reblooms and is watered and nourished by the Western morons who confuse payoffs for hate with peace.
Sophistry that masks surrender with endless compromises that are unrequited by the haters is unacceptable.
Monday, December 3. 2012
Friday, November 30. 2012
"Building a better you is the first step to building a better America."
On Wednesday, Zig Ziglar died at 86. Zig Ziglar's many books carried the motivational message of hard work and faith will out, and doing so to fill others' needs is the path to success. I remember my father reading Zig Ziglar when he started a business from scratch in the early 1960's, and so was I when I started out in the '70s. Ziglar was correct, I think, because he wedded hope with effort with common sense that didn't make or tolerate excuses. Ziglar kept writing books until last year. Here's an obit. Here's another obit.
Here's more Zig Ziglar quotes.
Wednesday, November 28. 2012
Most days on the way home from school, I take the boys in to Jamba Juice. It's healthier than cookies for an after-school snack. And, I usually have twofer coupons. Another treat is that Bronson is a Jamba Juice Juggler as he prepares the healthy drinks. Jason used his iPod today to make a video of Bronson's performance.
Tuesday, November 27. 2012
For those of us who enjoy destructo videos, this one is a champ...for chumps.
According to 11foot8.com, this train trestle is 100 years old, so it was built at a time" when there were no standards for minimum clearance." They are not raising it because the Norfolk Southern Railroad doesn't care: it's their bridge and the only thing they want is to guarantee the safety of their trains. "As far as they are concerned, they solved that problem by installing the crash beam," 11foot8 says. Any potential solution ”like raising the bridge or loowering the road” is too expensive to be worth it. The city of Durham installed warning signs along the three blocks that precede the bridge, but imbeciles keep ramming into it on average once a month.
Monday, November 26. 2012
"Jamie Foxx calls Obama ‘Our Lord and Savior’ during Soul Train Awards"
This leads to twitter reactions.
My favorite "#If Obama was Jesus..." at Twitchy:
I am humbled to have as a good friend Del Vecchio. He writes in hopes you'll read and give. The Vietnam Healing Foundation gets needed prothetics, food and money to the wounded soldiers, sailors and airmen of South Vietnam, who are still maltreated by the conquerors from the North. If you haven't blown it all on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, please give.
This satirical video is intended to show that much of Western aid to Africa " is more about making donors look good than about doing good for the needy."
Thursday, November 22. 2012
There are apparently sharp differences among commentators on the Gaza ceasefire. Regardless, the Gaza thanksgiving lesson is that Israel and its supporters have far more to be thankful for, and hopeful for, than does Israel's enemies.
On the one hand are those who say that Israel accomplished its primary objectives: degrade Hamas’ rocket and terror capabilities, retain good will of the Western governments that are usually so offended by Israel’s defense measures, establish self-interested constructive relations with the Islamist rulers of Egypt and not undermine the frail not-attacking PA in the West Bank.
On the other hand are those who say that Israel should have launched the ground operation in to Gaza to further punish and eradicate the threats from there and further degrade Hamas’ capabilities, and that the ceasefire agreement is toothless at restraining future Hamas re-arming and attacks.
Emotionally and militarily I lean toward the second hand. As a practical matter I lean toward the first hand. Anyone who has participated in or observed house-to-house fighting knows its brutality and costs in lives, including our own. This time, I don’t think it was worth another Israeli soldier’s life, as little as I care for the surely much heavier Hamas toll or that on the Gazan civilians who back Hamas. Then, regardless of the public words of any ultimate ceasefire agreement, I don’t think that they would hold water unless Hamas were to actually commit to the actions, and non-actions, necessary to their fulfillment.
Meanwhile, we do not know whether Egypt has committed to or will increase its relatively minor blocking of tunnels into Gaza. We do know that President Obama has committed to increasing support to blocking arms imports to Gaza and to increase funding for more Iron Dome anti-rocket defenses. We do know that aside from bluster the Arab states and Turkey were inactive. They could really care less about Hamas, particularly as far as it is allied with Iran. Even Iran, aside from attempted new smuggled weapons, was inactive, as was its other cats paw in the area Hezbullah in Lebanon.
So, regardless of which side of the debate you take, or another, I think the lesson from Gaza is to give thanks for what we have accomplished.
Israel was not weakened but will continue on to successfully defend its right to exist. Since 1948, when Israel’s fate seemed more dire, to now, Israel has managed to survive and prosper. There’s little reason to believe that will change. The Arab states have not prospered nor advanced. As their oil wealth fades and is substituted from US, Israeli, alternative energy, and other sources, their influence or importance will fade. Hamas has created a stinkhole in Gaza, except for those at the top of the regime and its favors who live luxuriously and will pay the price eventually as impoverished Gazans take their measure.
As to those in the West, the decreasing number of dreamers, who propose trading land or rights for peace, their illusion is thinner than ever, at least until there is a miraculous transformation among Arabs. The necessity of strong security measures cannot be denied by any honest peace-hawks.
There’s much to give thanks for, far more than regrets, on this Thanksgiving.
Re-posted from last year. I add in 2012: No matter what the circumstances, whatever you have is to be given thanks for, and someone else always has less, and they may surprise you that they give thanks for that.
Wednesday night, my son Jason and I were greeters at our synagogue for the annual Interfaith Council Thanksgiving Service, which brings together ministers and congregants from many varying religions. A real eye-opener for Jason as he met people, US born and from all corners of the earth, all sharing thanks for our bounty and generosity. The service ended with all standing to sing "America the Beautiful." (I wish they'd also added Emma Lazarus' poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty.) I hadn't read all the words to "America the Beautiful" in many years. So, like me, as we celebrate Thanksgiving, you may want to refresh your memory.
America the Beautiful
Words by Katharine Lee Bates,
Melody by Samuel Ward
O beautiful for spacious skies,
Posted by Bruce Kesler in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 01:29 | Comments (4) | Trackback (1)
Wednesday, November 21. 2012
Anthony is the Reuters Social Media Editor, integrating the “ambient wire” that exists on social networks, where news now breaks before anywhere else, into Reuters platforms. He's also host of Reuters TV's "Tech Tonic" and a Reuters columnist.
This is the kind of media bias that must be exposed. In this case, with impact. Thanks to Honest Reporting. (free online subscription)
5:48 pm: At the beginning of the day, I noted an ugly tweet by Reuters’ Anthony De Rosa. One response to De Rosa was sufficiently embarrassing and, uh, viral enough to make the wire service’s social media editor remove his tweet.
A ceasefire is supposed to start tonight. There doesn't appear to be anything that will ensure a lasting peace. Whether and how long it lasts is really up to Hamas.
Hamas' celebration of today's terror bombing of a bus in Tel Aviv is not promising.
How come the 3% get all the media attention?
Poll: What Are Your 2012 Black Friday Plans?
Total Voters: 713
This artist just released an album using biblical instruments trying to re-create the music in the Temple in Jerusalem. Remember, the first pilgrims were Jews going there to give homage to G-d. Hence, "halleluja".
Rabbi Bill Berk, who retired from a large Reform congregation in Phoenix to lead educational cultural tours in Israel, is definitely a liberal -- by US or Israeli standards -- politically. Regardless of liberal or not, almost all Israelis are unified in supporting the Israeli actions in Gaza. That may come as a shock to many Western liberals who have become accustomed to taking positions negative toward Israel.
Below is Bill Berk's "Letter To My Old Friend" in the US who wrote to him criticizing Israel's actions against Hamas in Gaza. Berk's old friend wrote him (as Berk summarizes):
Below, Bill Berk demolishes those ignorant assertions. Berk's rebuttal is comprehensive, and provides better understanding than you'll see in most of the Western media.
Continue reading "Dispatch From Israel: Liberal Rabbi's Rebuttal To Criticism Of Israel"
Tuesday, November 20. 2012
I get a chuckle out of this one.
Israel is a democracy, with rights of free speech, petition, and protest. The tiny number of far left Israelis are vocal and often ally with radical Arab-Israelis. In this video today, they held a protest in Jerusalem against Israel bombing Gaza. Then, they scurried away as soon as the air raid siren went off that a rocket may come in from Gaza.
From the Comments to this Youtube video:
Couldn't have said it better myself.
To illustrate the credible range of debate or discussion within the Jewish community, excluding the left-fringe J Street's usual meowing for a mythical peace with those who adamantly and violently refuse peace, please read this short column by a professor and the reply by another. I favor the reply, because dire realities cannot be wished away.
Hamas fired off more Iranian rockets toward Jerusalem. One landed in a West Bank Palestinian village.
Hamas not only tries to kill Israeli civilians but doesn't care about killing fellow Palestinians.
Meanwhile, to continue the report linked above:
Hillary is on the way, to talk in Ramallah with the PLO. Gee, that will do a lot of good, since for Hamas and the PLO each other are enemies. She'll be in Jerusalem, presumably to muscle Israel into not launching a ground operation in Gaza to eliminate more rats. Then she'll visit Egypt, whose "mediation" sits on a table etched with anti-Israel statements. Soft diplomacy yields to soft-headedness. At least, one Associated Press reporter called out the State Dept. spokesperson on ignoring Turkey's calling Israel a "terrorist state" at the same time considering giving the faux-NATO partner US Patriot missiles along its Syrian border.
Reporters Without Borders accused Israel of a war crime, targeting innocent civilian journalists. The Reporters Without Borders, first, need to better understand the Geneva Conventions. The International Committee of the Red Cross is the authority on the Geneva Conventions.
That does not protect those masquerading as journalists nor does it protect terrorists hiding among journalists. Today, Israel killed five of them. Further, Reporters Without Borders has not protested Hamas directly denying journalists in Gaza their right to leave Gaza.
Reporters Without Borders are without the confining borders of journalistic ethics. Quelle surprise!
Monday, November 19. 2012
Instead of watching Anderson Cooper on CNN say "Wow! What a big blast"(*actual quote below, just as uninformative and inane), supposedly providing useful reporting from within Gaza (actually a "safe" location there), you'd get more info and quicker via the rapid postings from the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) blog. Israel has every interest in getting facts out there before the pro-Pals and enablers among the international media can distort and lie. Bookmark the site to keep up on what's happening. (Remember, Israel time is 7-hours later that NY and 10-hours than California.) Here's a sample of what's available:
* Actual quote: "Whoa!" he said, as he dove nearly out of the camera's frame. "Well, that was a rather large explosion," he added as he stood up straight again. "That was probably the largest explosion that we have heard just in the past -- really in the past hour."
Sunday, November 18. 2012
The below email just reached me. The Good People Fund is a nonprofit that operates with the highest transparency and lowest costs, to steer funding to small needs that may fall beneath the radar of the giant charities or governments. See the Guidestar review for its 5-star rating. If you can give, please do at the US address below. Make sure to mark your check or credit card contribution with "Package From Home." - Here's a description of the lady who started this program.
Dear Friends of A Package from Home,
It is now 6:30 PM Saturday night and we have just watched the TV pictures of our troops gathering at the Gaza border. A few minutes ago, I received a call from Lt. Col. Zvika Levy. You may remember that he is the Commander that I deal with concerning the needs and problems of Lone Soldiers and other needy soldiers. . He was on his way from his Northern Kibbutz down to the border at Gaza He told me that there is an immediate need to provide 1.000 packages containing a warm fleece jacket, long underwear, boxer shorts and anti-fungal stockings. The total cost of the packages will be $33,000. As always, I told him that I would do the best I could to fulfill the need.. The urgency is for the warm clothes to be distributed immediately to them while they are waiting, alongside the border, for orders to enter Gaza. The package will also include a washable hand knitted woolen ski cap that is sent to us from knitters around the world, even as far away as New Zealand.
If you are wondering why the Army is not providing these things automatically to each soldier, I will give you the answer that the Army gave me at the beginning of our project, 13 year s ago. I was told, “The Army has a budget and when they have to choose between ordering M-16s and fleece jackets, they buy the M-16s”.
Israel can no longer restrain itself in dealing with those who would indiscriminately kill our citizens. As a result our soldiers have been ordered to report to their units at the
Gaza border.. The weather in Gaza is very cold. The tanks are not insulated. The need to supply these packages at this time is evident. We need your support to enable us to provide some comfort for the soldiers who are putting their lives on the line in order to eliminate the firing of rockets against Israeli civilians. Once again, I turn to you for financial support. The current situation is an emergency which requires immediate action.
May Hashem protect our soldiers.
Tax deductible shekel or other currency contributions can be made to the AACi ,and mailed to POB 53349, Jerusalem 91533, Israel. Please make a notation that your gift is for A Package From Home.
Tax deductible dollar contributions can be made to Good People Fund 384 Wyoming Ave, Millburn, New Jersey, 07041 USA. (For a credit card donation, please see Good People Fund web site at www.goodpeoplefund.org and follow donate here prompt. Please make a notation that your gift is for to A Package from Home.