Sunday, September 19, 2004

Maybe it's just me

I'm moving my address book from my old cell phone to my new one, and I'm listening to Friday's edition of the Sean Hannity show. Maybe it's just me, but whenever Hannity talks about the voting habits of "the American people" he sounds like he's excluded himself from that mass. "The American people" do this. "The American people" do that.

And I thought conservatives were supposed to be individualists.

And for the first time in a while, I was inspired

What a week! Rosh Hashanah, the two-day long observance of the new year, ran directly into Shabbos, so I was out of touch with the outside world for three days. The beginning and end of Sukkos will be the same way, so, if you happen to be an anonymous fan (yeah, whatever) be warned that I'll be out of touch in two weeks and the week after that.

There is a long standing tradition (I have no idea how old it actually is) that on the Shabbos between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (that was yesterday, in this case) the rabbi of a shul gives a speech. If I remember correctly, this is mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch, which makes this tradition at least five hundred years old.

Anyhow, my wife and I were in the neighborhood where we're in the process of moving, and so I davened at the shul which I love most in Brooklyn. The rabbi there conducted my wedding, and I've always felt most comfortable there of all the synagogues I've seen in Brooklyn, and I've been to a lot.

The rabbi gave a wonderful drasha (speech) that the one thing we should really daven for is fear of Heaven. If we achieve this, then all will follow. He also spoke about how when he has grandchildren some day, he doesn't want to be remembered for how he played with his grandchildren and bought them matchbox cars, but he wants to be remembered for things that have meaning, like involvement in Torah and its institutions. This made a very big impact on me, and I dread the realization that I'm not an eighteen year old any more. My father even laughed when I told him that I cringed when I called an eighteen year old who's been helping us with our move "a kid."

I'm not doing the rav's drasha any justice in my comments here, mostly because I'm so tired, and it's one in the mornnig as I write this.

But, for the first time in a while, I was inspired to try to be a better Yid. The past year, being religious was really feeling like a burden that I didn't want to shoulder, but with this move my wife and I are making, I feel like this might be a fresh start for the both of us.

Maybe I'll finally find a seder for myself.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Two sides of the spectrum

I haven't had the time to post, but I couldn't go without calling attention to two articles.

First, read this one by Rebecca Hagelin of WorldNetDaily.

Then, read this piece published the previous week on Lew Rockwell by Anthony Gregory.

The dichotomy is striking, I think.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Food Fight!

Via the Associated Press, an interesting incident occurred in NYC over the weekend -- a man was arrested for the high crime of not leaving a high enough tip at a restaurant.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen. In a city which is, as my buddy the Chainik Hocker puts it, "home of the meanest cockroaches and most violentest criminals in the world," the people of the city put people in jail if they are unsatisfied with the tip you leave at your table.

My first job was working as a waiter. I have nothing but sympathy for these hard working people and the job they do... until they give me bad service. :) I remember quite well the anguish of working my butt off and being stiffed for a tip. However, I went into the job knowing that some customers can and would do such things. That was part of the job.

It seems to me that it would be far more equitable for restaurants simply to inflate the menu prices of everything they serve by 15%, and let the customers know that they need not tip their waiters. The waiters will get 15% of whatever they serve, and everyone will be somewhat happy.

Arresting a guy for stiffing you on a tip? If this is a legitimate matter of law, then the problems in this humble city are far worse than I thought.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Perl and Moving

I've been taking a class in programming in Perl, and the homework is kicking my rear right now.

Also, my wife and I are... well, not exactly moving, but let's just say we're changing residences, and leave it at that. :)

Together with these two things, and the fact that I'm trying to find the time to get together with a friend who, G-d willing, is about to become a chosson (a California wedding if it works out -- I've never been to the left coast), I am absolutely swamped. Therefore, I'll likely not have much time for this blog until after Rosh Hashanah.

I made five trips yesterday from our old place to our new place. Today, I made one trip, and my wife made three with her mother. Tomorrow, her sister will take care of our daughter while my mother in law and my wife do some moving. No heavy lifting, of course -- she's incubating right now. :)

Anyhoo, I'll try to steal some time at work to put together a blog entry and keep my loyal readers up to speed on what's happening on my end. I have a whole thing on the Kuzari and politics that's been building in my head since I saw the Chainik Hocker on Shabbos.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Let's get real just for a second

I know the Chainik Hocker might get mad at me for writing this, and thus refuse to help me out with my forthcoming change of residence, but I really can't resist. I shall now impress all with my feats of strength. Just kidding.

Anyhoo, CH has a quote from another Republican/neo-conservative website. I feel the need to deflate this haughtiness by just a few degrees:

If you believe that government should be accountable to the people, not the people to the government, then you are a Republican.

In a word, this is narishkeit. Republicans believe the government should be accountable to the people? That must be why Republicans around the country have been fighting for more government power, all the way back to their genesis in the mid 19th century.

If you believe a person should be treated as an individual, not as a member of an interest group, then you are a Republican.

This is the fundamental reason why Bush seeks out the votes of specific demographics, because he believe people are individuals, not groups.

If you believe your family knows how to spend your money better than the government does, then you are a Republican.

Ahh, yes. The family knows how to spend our money better than the government does. That's why the president will not refuse unconstitutional taxpayer-funded matching funds, and that's why the president allowed his Republican convention to be paid for with taxpayer money.

If you believe our educational system should be held accountable for the progress of our children, then you are a Republican.

Judging by the grumblings about the education system nationwide, I would venture a guess that Republicans around the country disagree, and would prefer to be released from the beast called government education.

If you believe this country, not the United Nations, is the best hope for democracy, then you are a Republican.

Ahh, just the founders of our country, who despised democracy, envisioned.

If you have faith in free enterprise, faith in the resourcefulness of the American people and faith in the U.S. economy, then you are a Republican.

In the world of the Republicans, raising tariffs and other forms of protectionism represent "free enterprise."

And, ladies and gentlemen, if you believe that we must be fierce and relentless and terminate terrorism, then you are a Republican.

A government campaign against terrorism? Could it be like every other government program, a witless failure?

Pardon by cynicism, but take this as food for thought.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

I nearly split my gut laughing

This Shabbos, I had the pleasure of seeing the Chainik Hocker both for last night's meal, as well as lunch today. CH and I are buds, but we don't get to see each other so often. Today, a couple with whom my wife and are friends came over, and I found that the wife was talking about the politics, and asked me what the Democrats stand for. I replied by asking if she had been paying attention to this past week's Republican convention. She said she had. I told her that if she just listened to what the Republicans were saying, then she would know exactly what the Democrats stand for. She instantly lit up and said, "Yes! It's so confusing! They both sound the same!"

I gave CH and look, and, briefly, I think we both knew what the other was thinking.

CH is a neocon. He vehemently disagrees with the notion that there's no difference between a neocon and a liberal. Here we had a person not involved in our conversations, a lay-person, if you will, who was agreeing with me instead of him.

The irony was thick enough to cut with a knife. I busted out laughing.

In other news, CH and I had a wonderful political discussion where I defeated him with my feats of strength.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Chainik Hocker Inspired by Socialists: Shocking Firsthand Report

Sources reveal that the Chainik Hocker was inspired by the socialist drivel of the Emperor, George II. Last night, his Eminence took the stage in New York City, praising himself for the damage he has done to the economy through his expansions of government in areas of education, health care, and Social Security.

From his Highness' speech:

Another drag on our economy is the current tax code, which is a complicated mess — filled with special interest loopholes, saddling our people with more than six billion hours of paperwork and headache every year. The American people deserve — and our economic future demands — a simpler, fairer, pro-growth system. In a new term, I will lead a bipartisan effort to reform and simplify the federal tax code.

Libertarians and other people with two eyes and a brain questioned why it took the Republicans nearly one hundred years to decide that the tax code is eeeeeeevil. Libertarians were also thankful for the proposed additional 40% tax on all goods sold in the US.

Another priority in a new term will be to help workers take advantage of the expanding economy to find better, higher-paying jobs. In this time of change, many workers want to go back to school to learn different or higher-level skills. So we will double the number of people served by our principal job training program and increase funding for community colleges. I know that with the right skills, American workers can compete with anyone, anywhere in the world.

While fearing for his life, this correspondent would like to interject that if the emperor gives out money and helps more people go to school to get "marketable" skills, he will simply be raising the bar of necessary achievement to compete in the marketplace. Once, having a Bachelor's degree meant you could get a job with no problems. Then, the government got involved, and now so many people have Bachelor's degrees that they no longer have the meaning they once did, and now people must go further and get master's degrees. One must wonder how worthless a PhD will one day be because of government involvement in education.

Initial reports coming from the convention indicated that the Republicans' rhetoric, the Emperor's included, was becoming increasingly indistinguishable from the Democrats'. More on this as the reports are compiled.