Monday, September 30, 2002

Running and Edible Pickles

I went running this morning again along the East River. I made it farther than I did last time. I was quite pleased with myself.

I had a good lunch at this diner on Madison between 32nd and 33rd. They are the first diner in a really long time that put edible pickles on the table. That is truly rare. The staff was really nice too.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

Muslim Day Parade

I was walking down 5th ave today, I passed by Madison Square Park (that's the one around 24th street) where they were holding the Muslim Day Parade. I spent about a half hour listening to people speak in half Arabic/half English trying to convince the media that Islam has is a religion of peace, though frankly they themselves didn't sound too convinced. I also listened to a bunch of Black Muslims who really looked like they were not sure what their relationship to the Arabic speakers was supposed to be.

Some representative of the Moonies spoke as well.

There was a lone person on a tiny cardboard makeshift table there with a small "Muslims Against Terrorism" sign. I assume that he was interviewed by all the members of the press earlier, but when I was standing next to his table, he looked pretty alone.

I was accosted by a psychotic Lyndon LaRouche groupie there. I guess they feel like a Muslim gathering is a safe place to be anti-semitic.

Saturday, September 28, 2002

Running along the East River

I went running this morning along the East River up the coast of Manhattan. It was really nice. I wish that they would jsut finish with all the construction and have the whole running lane all done with. It is great to run along the river, watching Brooklyn go by. I wish I had time to do it more often.

Past week

It has been a long week, and I feel bad that I have not been able to blog all this time. Life keeps me so busy. I walked in to Brooklyn from Manhattan last Saturday. Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the things I really like doing in New York. I wish I could do it more. Visited "Y" in Brooklyn on Sunday.

I met "J" in Jose Woods' Bar on Waverly. It was cooler when it was Boo Radley's and "J" worked there. Now he just drinks there a lot. It is still cool though. So is "J".

On Wed I went to hear "L" give a talk about his research in Brooklyn. After we ended up in the Jerusalem Steak House on Ave J. "A" complained about the food. He had legitimate complaints though. It was not the best. He tried to make it in to a kosher thing, but it was just bad.

On Friday I spent the whole day listening to logicians talk. Some of that was interesting, and some boring.

Friday, September 20, 2002

Explaining Orthodox Judaism

I was trying to explain the various details about Yom Kippur to "B" who is not Jewish, and has met few Jews in her life. I tried going through the details about muktzah and fasting, and all the other stuff, and was dumbfounded at the weirdness of the whole thing. I then met "L" and mentioned that "real thinking is the biggest impediment to taking orthodoxy seriously" and he seemed to find that interesting.

Yom Kippur

On Yom Kippur I went with "A" and one of his friends to the NYU Orthodox service for Ne'ela. It was nice, though the rabbi was a bit too friendly, I thought. We has Sushi right after it was over

Jackass - the movie

So this is a bit embarassing. I just saw the movie "Jackass" a little while ago. Somehow, I scored free early tickets. I laughed the whole time. It was so infantile, but it is really funny.

Sunday, September 15, 2002


The United States needs to redefine it's understanding of the nature of immigration. In the old days when there was a lot of space and a lot of optimism we were the land of the free and the home of the brave. People came here from far and wide seeking a better way of life. People came here to get the hell away from the places that were oppressing them, so that they can live free life, with others who came for the same reason.

There was a shared American dream. There was the vision of coming and making it. There was a vision that all was possible and there was security and anyone with a dollar and a dream, or even without a dollar, and just the willingness to work hard, would do well, or at the very least their children would.

Understanding immigration like this worked well for the US. We took in people who wanted to make the place better, and as Adam Smith would have put it, we all gained from some sort of invisible hand making sure that if we all try to work hard, we all do better. Everyone gained from most immigration. (This does not include those who came here to exploit our welfare system, but they are the minority).

Pat Buchanan and friends argue that unbridled immigration from outside will not change the US for the better anymore. He argues that if we allow people from other cultures to come in they will come with their culture, and their culture will overpower our own and will force a clash such that the US will start to look more like some Taliban nightmare, where women's rights are taken away, and Shariah law will take precedence over American law. This of course will only happen if we allow way more immigrants in, way too quickly. I am not overly concerned about such a possibility. We would need to let in millions each year for that to happen. We simply do not do that.

It is however somewhat of concern that most of our immigration is from countries that do not share our outlook, and the individuals who come do not share the same vision that most of out ancestors do.

What I am addressing though is asking the US to challenge the way it looks at immigration. Myself, as well as most people I know, as well as most Americans for that matter, are the benefactors of a wonderful and liberal immigration policy. This was the naive American policy that took in the poor, tired, and hungry, who simply yearned for the freedom to live without the tyrannous oppression that encumbered most of the rest of the world for most of human history.

The story is changing now. Can the US afford this? Can the US afford to be so naive? It is no longer people who want to make it. It is no longer people who are seeking a better life for them and their children. It is not people coming in to overturn our way of life and overthrow our country. We now have people who are here only to destroy America. Today we arrested five Arab-Americans who were aiding anti-American terrorism. How many have we missed. To their credit it was members of the Muslim American community who do share the an affinity for living and letting live that helped capture these people.

But we must be careful. The lessons of 9/11/01 should be clear. We cannot afford the naivete that we were blessed with till now.

Overweight apartments

Just like all people have an ideal weight, I tend to think of apartments in New York as also having an ideal weight. There is a certain amount of stuff that ought to be in each apartment, and not more, nor less. When something gets thrown out, I tend to think of the apartment as gaining weight, and when something gets brought in, I tend to think of it as gaining weight. In general when you have hit an ideal weight, you ought to strive to maintain that balance. If you bring in too many books, you ought to read some and store them somewhere. If you brought in a painting, you need to remove an old one. Clutter, is excess weight, and seems unhealthy.

Of Course the UN is not democratic

I would like to clear something up. There is nothing democratic about the UN. People seem to take it for granted that the UN represents all countries equally, and should therefore be heeded. That is the dumbest notion I have ever heard. The UN represents the leaders of most countries. The leaders, more often than not, are psychos. There is no reason to believe that they represent anyone but themselves. To that extent it is important to have a forum in which they are represented, because they do control armies and weapons and stuff. But they do not represent anyone. So they are not democratic except is some half-assed sense where we feel that all leaders of countries, no matter how illegitimate their reign is, should be given some say.

In addition, countries who refuse to heed some resolutions ought to have no say in how other get heeded. For example, the Saudi foreign minister was on TV this morning saying something like Iraq should not have to heed the UN resolution calling it for allowing weapons inspectors in to its country. Why? What was his reason? Because Israel has not heeded the resolutions calling for an end to its occupation of the Palestinian people.

This is a classic Arab ploy. Shift the focus of the problem to Israel. He is attempting to say that if only Israel would stop ruling the Palestinians then Saadam Heussain would not have chemical weapons. This is of course the clearest non sequitur that I have ever heard. Moreover, this fails to take in to account that most of the Palestinian problem stems from the Arab world's failure to take another of the UN's proclamations seriously: namely the creation of the state of Israel. Israel was created by the UN, and with the exception of Egypt and Jordan, is still not recognized by the Arab world. This lack of Israeli legitimacy is used as the justification for al their wars with Israel and support for anti-Israel and anti-Western terrorism.

But I digress. The UN is a bunch of dictators, and heads of democratic states who get together and have a place to scream at each other when wars happen. It is a convenient meeting place for everyone to tell everyone else what they think of each other. It is not a place where people make deals that they are bound by. People are bound by deals that they make when all parties act in good faith. The UN is not such a place.

Frankly it creeps me out that we have all these people coming in and out of New York. I wish it were someplace like Iran so that Americans have a good reason for not going there. The fact that all these people who represent some of the sickest genocidal people on earth walk the same streets as I do, only with diplomatic immunity, makes me very uncomfortable, and does nothing to make me feel like my city is host to a democratic institution.

The UN is not fair nor is it democratic. No matter how much it pretends to be it is not. When the security council, which contains China, Russia, and France, thinks it can have a say in how a democracy ought to behave we ought to just laugh.

When we look at the record of the UN on most things we really need to ask what the deal is. While I will not claim that they have committed many atrocities in the name of fairness and neutrality, I would certainly claim that they have done their share of unfair and unneutral stuff. The failure to hand over a videotape of an Israeli getting kidnapped, was just sick. I have this image in my head of some people in the UN sitting around at night watching and laughing about it, while these kidnap victims are being tortured by Hezbollah.

In 1991 when the Croats attacked the Serbs, the UN just hung around and watched. When in 1967 it was too inconvenient for the UN to do any peacekeeping in Egypt, it just left because Egypt did not want them to be there for the upcoming war. The UN sponsored a racist [sic] conference in Durban - naturally it was a fiasco, and it became a forum for anti-semitism. Just to remain neutral - they never thought it appropriate to condemn terrorism. That would offend the poor suicide bombers who died killing Israelis.

The whole UN makes me sick. Sometimes, in my own dark fantasies, I wish that the UN building would become infested with all the rats that live along the East River. Then I smile to myself and realise that whenever there is a general assembly, it is.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Last few days

I have been way to busy the past few days to post anything new, though so much has happened. On 9/10 I ended up downtown taking care of some legal stuff (it all went fine). I passed by a ceremony commerating the federal employees who had died almost a year before.

On 9/11, yesterday I started the day watching CNN and all the other channels that were showing the same thing. I was awake for the moments of silence and I watched the ceremony. As much as I had wanted to watch all the names being read, I finally had to give up.

I was feeling rather melancholy the whole day. Memories of last year came swelling back. I watched the towers fall from the roof of the apartment where I was staying. It was quite sad. I could do nothing the whole day. I had lunch with "B" in Maui Taco on 5th and 32nd. I met with "Y" for dinner. We went to Kosher Delight. I met "T" there. I ran in to "KN" on the street after leaving "Y" at the train. I had a late dinner (a cesar salad and coffee) at Cosi on broadway and 13th street. All were good, though KD still has a lot to learn about fast food, though they are one of the few games in town when it comes to kosher food.

Monday, September 09, 2002

Review of Paul Halmos' Naive Set Theory

Paul Halmos' Naive Set Theory is a classic in mathematics. Anyone who does any mathematics seriously should be familiar with the book. It outlines the basic results in set theory and the proofs for the major theorems. It is indispensable background knowledge for almost anything in pure mathematics.

Like most full-fledged mathematics books it is slow reading, but not impossibly so. He is remarkably clear, with manageable chapters. It is well suited for a course or to teach yourself the basics. I highly recommend it for the serious student of math or philosophy, or for someone who wants to understand the modern foundations of mathematics.

Monday, September 02, 2002


I spent last night in Williamsburg. It is a cool alternative to Manhattan.

I had breakfast in some place called the "Bagel Shop", lunch in Pongal, the Indian Resturant on Lexington and 27th, and Dinner in some nameless diner on Broadway off 72nd Street. All were good.