Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Flatbush Eruv War

Recently a new pamphlet was put under the door of many Jewish homes in Flatbush. This was a pamphlet by a Rabbi Shia Director (who nicely left a comment on my earlier post on this subject.

This pamphlet follows the first two widely distributed pamphlets. The first was a rather professional solid halachic discussion of the matter in favor of the eruv, the second was a collection of pictures of rabbis with no halachic content. (I discuss that here.)

This latest blow in the eruv war looks like it will turn in to a friendly-fire incident. It is (and again I am doing this from memory) a 10 page collection of letters to a certain "Avi . . ." entitled "Letters from Woodburne". It is filled with rants and raves and vehemence against the anti-eruv group.

It was written by someone who clearly has never really written in English in his life, and has very little in terms of halachic content. There were a bunch of "many rabbis I spoke with agreed", "Brooklyn clearly has walls on all three sides and highways on the other" (which it does not), and vehemence. There are sentences of the form: This is the fault of Bic and other moral degenerates . . . (the reference is to Rav Bic OBM, no halachic or moral slouch.)

It was a rather sad piece of writing. I realize that there is well meaning attempt to support the eruv. I of course could care less whether it succeeds or not, though I guess I am rooting for the success, but pamphlets like this will not help matters. Pamphlets like this make people think that the biggest proponents of the eruv are people who cannot think or express themselves clearly.

However, this all shows that there is a lot of people who feel that there is a lot at stake here. I look forward to the next volley.

(This controversey is being covered a lot by bloggers on the web. kaspit is a good place to start, if you are interested.)

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Weekend update

This has been another hectic weekend, and I am so tired that there is no analysis, only a list. I spent a lot of the weekend hanging out with "P" and we did a ton of things.

We saw Oi Va Voi and the Balkan Beat Box perform at some show, and Michal Cohen and Sara Aroeste perform in Joe's Pub as part of the Jewish Heratige Festival. It was good fun all around.

We also saw the film The Death of Mr. Lazarescu at the New York Film Festival. It was pretty good. It made me really pause and think about health care in Eastern Europe, and I am greateful that I never needed it there.

We joined "L" and "S" for Proof, which was a pretty good adaptation of the play, which I saw with "S" a few years ago.

This morning I saw the Dalai Lama at Rutgers University. I am really impressed with how unpretentious he is. His style is remarkable. For a world leader, he said nothing too deep or unexpected, but it was a very eye-opening look at a world leader.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Need Sleep

After I finished my Sunday with my unit yesterday (in which much physical work was involved) I stopped for slurpees at 7-eleven with three buddies. When I got home, I quickly showered and changed and went off to a DVD launch party for this movie. It was a good documentary. There were lots of interesting people at the party too. I got home insanely late, and was up early today to run my customary 9.15 miles. I then worked and I am now ready to pass out, but I have to go learn with "A-" in a few hours. I totally need more sleeeeeeep.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Army and Katrina

I spent today in the Army doing reserve things, and I was talking to people there. It is always interesting to talk to soldiers from New York. They are a mixed bag of interesting people, each with their own take on the world, their own perspective, knowledge base, and background.

One sentiment that was floating around, and I have to admit that I shared it, was the government's poor response to Hurricane Katrina.

My unit, because of what we do and the experience we have, would probably be pretty useful right about now in helping Loiusiana. But yet no one has called. Many people would have been happy to go and help out.

Toward the end of the day my unit colleced names of people who would want to go down there if the Army calls looking for volunteers. Like many in my unit, I put my name on the list, but I suspect that the Army won't call. They never seem to call when you want them too.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Strategic Coffee Reserve

I have been telling people for years, warning them, and begging. But no one listened to me when I said that in case of emergency, akin to our strategic oil reserve, we need a strategic coffee reserve. It is for times like this that we need it. What would our country do without our coffee? I am glad I have a good personal stockpile.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

last 4 books I read

Unfortunately I do not have the time I would like to write more detailed reviews, but I wanted to say something quick about the last four books I read before I forget that I have actually read them.

First is Charles Bukowski's Play the Piano Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit. It is an interesting collection of peoms that were enjoyable, I presume for those who, unlike me, get poetry. The whole thing was a bit beyond me.

Second was Martin Gardner's The Numerology of Dr. Matrix. This is a collection of a few of his really old articles from the Mathematical Games column from Scientific American. They are all dated, though amusing. It is mostly a lot of these funny numerological thingies that dumb people find profound and smart people find cute, with real mathematical tidbits thrown in as questions that are pretty hard to figure out. He gives you all the answers in the back.

Third I read Douglas Adams' Last Chance to see. This is the story of Adams and Mark Carawdine's trip to some remote places to see some endangered animals. The story that is told is sentamental, as befitting an emotional tour through various places. Douglas Adams' style still comes out as clearly as in his other works, though less so. It is a quick read, and if you are a die-hard fan, it's a must.

Finally, I just finished Catherine Osborne's book Presocratic Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction. This is part of Oxford's Very Short Introduction series. The series is pretty good, though not always. This book really is good. I was pretty impressed. First I was impressed that Presocratic philosophy can be interesting, and second I was impressed that there is a solid methodological underpinning in this field of research that can be explained to simpletons like myself. And finally that someone actually did it. If you want a good introduction to the prsocratics, you would be well advised to start with this book.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Lakewood Rumor

So the latest rumor going around is about Lakewood and the kollel communities there. I am waiting for it to be verified.

Apparently the girl's schools upped the frum ante. Now in order to get in, in adition to whatever prior standard had to be met, you 1) cannot have a father who works, and 2) cannot have a mother who wears denim skirts. If you you cannot be admitted in to the Beis Yaakov there.

So this school year was slated to start with 150 frum girls who although they met all the other standards either had a mother whose skirt is made with cotton processed a certain way that the talmudic rabbis never envisioned, or has a father who, like almost all of our Amoraic sages, actually has a job.

But now they have no school to go to.

So, as the story goes, Rav Eliashev was consulted and he said that the school year could not start until the girls were all in schools.

Apparently their school year has not yet started.

Anyone know more about this story?

last week or so

OK, so things have been very busy with the starting of classes and all. I have had no time to do things like updae my blog.

I saw the movie Junebug, it was cute. I saw Wedding Crashers. It was OK. I wasn't thrilled. It was a cute idea, but there was nothing unpredictable in the movie.

I caught the last few minutes of Circus Amok in Prospect Park. I have really got to stop going to these lefty events. They bore me to tears with their rantings against the man. It is sad and pathetic.

I saw the 9/11 lights from the promenade.

I have been trying to have a life. Moderate success.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Flying Saucer is back

The Flying Saucer Cafe is now open again. It used to be an OK place to work, but yet, as I recall, everytime I got there it was about to close. If I got there at 2 PM, then they were closing at 2:30 or 3:00. If I got there at 5:30, they were closing at 6:00. It generally seemed arbitrary. It also used to have this stupid look of old crap thrown together.

Now however, they seemed to reopen. They also seem to have a new attitude. They claimed that they were open till 7:00, which is still pretty early, but not all that bad. They also went a bit more minimalist on the decor, which is a big plus. Their garden, which was pretty nice, is now upgraded in my book to very nice, since they threw out a lot of the garbage that was in it. I think they also got some better furniture.

Their staff also seems friendly.

It is on Atlantic Avenue between Nivens and Third in Brooklyn. The coffee is not bad, and I am told neither are the other things. Give them time to get the rest of their menu up and running.

Fact checking

This article in Friday's New York Times about Orthodox Jews in the mountains had me wondering. If you look at the caption under the last picture, there is a Moishe Kishmich pictured.

Look, I really don't know the guy, but "Kishmich" is usually Yiddish for "kiss my ass". How careful was the Times about getting this guy's name right? Were they had by some Orthodox Jew with a sense of humor?