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Sunday, September 30

1 Hour, 47 Minutes of Hell: Second-by-Second Terror Revealed in Calls to 911 (New York Daily News)
“The date was Sept. 11 and incident No. 0727 was flashing onto the screen before the citywide dispatcher for the Fire Department's Emergency Medical Service in downtown Brooklyn.”

Thursday, September 27

Yizkor: From the NYC Perl Programmer's List:
Folks,


I used to work at Cantor Fitzgerald 
(as a perl programmer)
on 103 floor of WTC-1 (right under antena).


Just wanted to share this with you:
It is one thing to hear about 6,000 killed.


Another thing is to hear about 700 killed in 
the organization where you worked.


Yet another is to see the list, recognize names
and remember faces:


     http://www.cantorusa.com/memorial.php


Timely : God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule (The Onion)
“NEW YORK--Responding to recent events on Earth, God, the omniscient creator-deity worshipped by billions of followers of various faiths for more than 6,000 years, angrily clarified His longtime stance against humans killing each other Monday.

“Look, I don't know, maybe I haven't made myself completely clear, so for the record, here it is again," said the Lord, His divine face betraying visible emotion during a press conference near the site of the fallen Twin Towers. "Somehow, people keep coming up with the idea that I want them to kill their neighbor. Well, I don't. And to be honest, I'm really getting sick and tired of it. Get it straight. Not only do I not want anybody to kill anyone, but I specifically commanded you not to, in really simple terms that anybody ought to be able to understand."

“Worshipped by Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike, God said His name has been invoked countless times over the centuries as a reason to kill in what He called "an unending cycle of violence."

“I don't care how holy somebody claims to be," God said. "If a person tells you it's My will that they kill someone, they're wrong. Got it? I don't care what religion you are, or who you think your enemy is, here it is one more time: No killing, in My name or anyone else's, ever again."

Click for more

Thursday, September 20

Who Did It? Israeli Sources Finger Iraq (Jane's Security / Foreign Report)
“Israel’s military intelligence service, Aman, suspects that Iraq is the state that sponsored the suicide attacks on the New York Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington. Directing the mission, Aman officers believe, were two of the world’s foremost terrorist masterminds: the Lebanese Imad Mughniyeh, head of the special overseas operations for Hizbullah, and the Egyptian Dr Ayman Al Zawahiri, senior member of Al-Qaeda and possible successor of the ailing Osama Bin Laden.”
Political Science: It's Really War Against The Islamic Axis (Zev Chafets, NY Daily News)
“If there isn't time, if one or more of the Axis regimes seems capable of attacking with nukes or germs before U.S. forces get there, these regimes and their infrastructure, arsenals and leadership will have to be destroyed by whatever means necessary: the Japanese model....

“Okay, let's say the U.S. defeats the Islamic Axis, then what? Can America occupy the entire Islamic Middle East?

“Yes, it can. After the war the U.S. and its allies will be obliged to run the Middle East for a while in the same way they occupied and governed Germany and Japan after World War II. That occupation can end when the Islamic Axis countries accept, as Germany and Japan accepted, the basic rules of democratic government and international behavior. ”

Arab Americans Have to Choose (Zev Chafets)
“The undeniable fact is that until Tuesday, at least, a great many American Arabs and non-Arab Muslims openly associated themselves with groups and countries that engage in and support terrorism.

“It is also an undeniable fact that many of Osama Bin Laden's kamikazes lived in the United States, disguised as peaceable, law-abiding residents. Some of the suspects, it is already emerging, were American citizens — a Yemeni-American was arrested in Hamburg, Germany, on Thursday — and more will certainly be caught.

“No one who has paid any attention to the Arab-American community can be surprised by this. Many mosques, here in New York and beyond, are hotbeds of anti-American sentiment. "Respectable" Arab community organizations across the country raise money for Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups. This sort of affinity for the worst elements in the Middle East has been a hallmark of Arab-American political discourse for years....

“Only a simpleton could look at the Middle East and conclude that wild-eyed hatred of America is a marginal phenomenon or that it is caused primarily by U.S. support for Israel. Even Bin Laden himself says the real issue is the American presence in Saudi Arabia. And yet Arab spokesmen have tried since Tuesday to place the blame on our alliance with Israel.”

Yudel's Line: The day after the bombing, I found myself behind a wheelchair-transport van. The sign on the back said, "Yaseen Medical Transport Service." Something clicked. Yes, Hamas Founder Sheik Yaseen is in a wheelchair. And the non-profit medical service company that runs the van consorts with the enemy....

Sunday, September 16

Restore the Skyline, but Do It the New York Way (John Tierney, NYTimes)

“But whatever is designed, it would be lovely to see at least one graceful new tower, preferably two, rising even higher than 110 stories — an unfamiliar sight with a familiar feel. To make the skyline whole again, make a whole new skyline.”
Voting for Rebuilding: Freedom Towers
“Dedicated to those murdered on September 11, 2001.

“To honor their memory and stand athwart those who threaten our way of life, we ask you to sign a petition of support advocating that the towers be rebuilt and named Freedom Towers. ”

Though for another point of view...

Roger Ebert says, Make it Green

“If there is to be a memorial, let it not be of stone and steel. Fly no flag above it, for it is not the possession of a nation but a sorrow sharsed with the world.”

Bill Clinton for Rebuilder-in-Chief (Dan Gillmor)

“The U.S. government and the state and city of New York should put Bill Clinton to work -- in a mission to help rebuild the city, the financial district and, most important, the lives of survivors. It would be an ideal role for a relatively young and obviously still-vigorous ex-president.”

Well WorthThe Read: The Saudi Connection (InstaPundit)
“The Saudis are quietly trying to pressure the U.S. into making this a law-enforcement matter , rather than something more like what President Bush wants. Some additional perspective on the Saudis is provided by this email from a reader who prefers to remain anonymous. It's a bit long, but worth reproducing in full because I haven't seen these points made together anywhere else:

By and large Americans have a grossely oversimplified image of Islam -- unaware of the huge doctrinal divisions that exist among the religion's dozens of sects and wide range of perspectives on the world. Strangely enough, when most Americans think of what a Muslim looks like, they think of the Saudis (perhaps these images result in part from the high media profile fueled by the Saudis' oil wealth). Similarly, most Americans would probably list the Saudis as among the "good" Muslims. Aside from bin Laden, there is a general absence of Saudi's in stock terrorist footage, and Americans also recall the role played by Saudis as American Allies in the Gulf War.

“Nonetheless, the Saudis have in the past and continue today to play a central role in the development of fundamentalist Islam. This role has largely been overlooked by American media and, perhaps, policy makers. The Saudi ruling family rose to power as proponents of both Wahabi Islam and the Hanbali school of Islamic Jurisprudence, a system of thought which stresses an extremely literalist interpretation of the Qur'an and Sunna (sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad) as the only guide for human action. While most Muslims think of "Hard" Shari'a (including punishments such as amputation for petty theft) as primative and barbaric, the Saudis have made it standard practice. In recent decades the Saudi's have used their newfound oil wealth to fund huge campaigns not only to convert non-Muslims to Islam, but also to convert other Muslims to Wahabi thought. Further, control over the Pilgrimage to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina has aided the Saudi's in spreading their extremely puritanical ideology throughout the Muslim World. Not only does the Pilgrimage bring millions of Muslims to Saudi Arabia every year, but the Saudi's wealth is interpreted by some as a reward for piety. Imagine poor Muslims from Indonesia or Nigeria traveling to Mecca and seeing Saudi wealth for the first time. Because the Pilgrimage is often subsidized, for millions of Muslims a trip to Saudi Arabia is the only international experience they will ever have.

“In many other ways, the Saudis have been a major force in spreading conservative Islam. Harsh restrictions on Women's roles and behavior are characteristic of Wahabi Islam and were previously atypical elsewhere. Similarly, it has been the Saudi's who have encouraged Muslims to implement a harsher form of the Shari'a. For example, the move to implement "Hard" shari'a in Nigeria's north -- resulting in the much publicized caning of a 17-year old girl for premaritual sex and numerous clashes with Nigerian Christians this past year -- has been backed by the Saudi's, who offered "training" for new Islamic judges. Remarkably, there has been little commentary on these first steps to replace West Africa's centuries-old (and rather liberal) Maliki system of Islamic law with harsher Hanbali jurisprudence.

“Ironically, one reason the Saudi's helped aid the US against Saddam Hussain in the Gulf War was precisely because the Saudis consider the Baath party in Iraq to be secularist and un-Islamic. Saddam is no Muslim Fundamentalist, and in the Islamic world his calls for "Holy War" against the West were a joke.

“Obviously, the US cannot attack the Saudis merely for what they think and believe. Terrorism is not a "thought crime", and we must make it clear that it is the actions, not beliefs, of certain fanatical Muslims that are unacceptable. Our actions must be tempered, however, by the political reality that fundamentalists are not always the enemies, sometimes they are aleady our allies.

The Coming Anarchy: The Lawless Frontier (Robert Kaplan in The Atlantic Monthly)

“Pakistan, in fact, could be a Yugoslavia in the making, but with nuclear weapons....

“And as was true of Yugoslavia, it is the bewildering complexity of ethnic and religious divisions that makes Pakistan so fragile. My comparison to 1980s Yugoslavia, a place that I also saw firsthand, is not casual. In both cases it was the very accumulation of disorder and irrationality that was so striking and that must be described in detail -- not merely stated -- to be understood...

“Here the religious extremism and disorder begot by two decades of war in Afghanistan merge with the troubles in Pakistan. With 148 million people, Pakistan is the world's seventh largest nation, and its annual population-growth rate of 2.6 percent will make it the third most populous nation by 2050, behind India and China -- if it still exists.

“Afghanistan and Pakistan should be seen as one political unit. This is a result of Pakistan's heavy involvement in the Afghan guerrilla struggle against Soviet occupation forces in the 1980s and in the rise of Afghanistan's Taliban extremists afterward. But geography and British colonial history are factors too....”

The Coming Together: Brother, if you don’t mind (e46fanatics.com)

“I was on my back, facing this massive cloud that was approaching, it must have been 600 feet off, everything was already dark. I normally wear a pendant around my neck, inscribed with an Arabic prayer for safety; similar to the cross.

“A hasidic Jewish man came up to me and held the pendant in his hand, and looked at it. He read the Arabic out loud for a second. What he said next, I will never forget. With a deep Brooklyn accent he said “Brother, if you don’t mind, there is a cloud of glass coming at us, grab my hand, lets get the hell out of here”

Backgrounder: Inside the Jihad (The Atlantic Monthly)

“The Taliban are completely averse to discussing anything about Islam or Islamic law with outsiders, even with fellow Muslims like myself. They think they know it all and have the truth and anyone raising other points, even from an Islamic point of view, is their enemy.

“Unfortunately, they do not accept even the basis of Islam -- which is about discussion, debate, and relating religion to modern-day realities. They want to recreate the situation that existed in Arabia in the seventh century. Their religious police are very intimidating and don't like foreign journalists wandering around.”

Backgrounder: Blowback (The Atlantic Monthly)

“When I asked Hosni Mubarak about Bin Laden, he winced. "He wants to take over the world," he said. "He's a megalomaniac." Mubarak then expressed both annoyance and concern about what he saw as the passive attitude of Western governments, particularly those of Britain, Germany, and the United States, in permitting militant Egyptian Islamic groups to operate freely from their soil. But he voiced his greatest concern -- rage, really -- about Peshawar and the veterans of the jihad.

“He told me about a meeting he had had in Bonn, in April of 1993, with Benazir Bhutto's predecessor, Nawaz Sharif. "It was a tough meeting," he said. "And I couldn't believe my ears: this man was the leader of Pakistan and he told me, quite frankly, 'We cannot control Peshawar. We cannot prevent these people from running loose.' I asked him then if he wanted me to send the Egyptian armed forces to Peshawar to clean up the mess." ”

Lest We Forget: God Gave U.S. 'What We Deserve,' Falwell Says (Washington Post)

Television evangelists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, two of the most prominent voices of the religious right, said liberal civil liberties groups, feminists, homosexuals and abortion rights supporters bear partial responsibility for Tuesday's terrorist attacks because their actions have turned God's anger against America.

"God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve," said Falwell, appearing yesterday on the Christian Broadcasting Network's "700 Club," hosted by Robertson.

"Jerry, that's my feeling," Robertson responded. "I think we've just seen the antechamber to terror. We haven't even begun to see what they can do to the major population."

“Falwell said the American Civil Liberties Union has "got to take a lot of blame for this," again winning Robertson's agreement: "Well, yes. ”

Some Therapists Caution That Trauma Services Could Backfire (NYTimes)
“In an open letter to their colleagues distributed this weekend, a group of psychologists questioned whether the ministrations of a therapist are what all people want or need now, at a time when stress, fear, upset, uncertainty and grief are entirely normal, and when the full impact of what has happened has not yet sunk in. And they cautioned that thrusting help on people instead of letting them seek it themselves might in some cases do more harm than good.”
One Escapee's Tale
“The doors to Trinity Church were open so I stepped inside. A priest was leading a prayer service; I knelt to say a quick prayer and minutes later the first building fell.s”
Paying the Price (Paul Krugman, NYTimes)
“I hope that once the rage has died down, Americans will be willing to learn one of the key lessons of last week's horror: there are some things on which the government must spend money, and not all of them involve soldiers. If we refuse to learn that lesson, if we continue to nickel-and-dime crucial public services, we may find — as we did last week — that we have nickel-and-dimed ourselves to death.”
Don't Sacrifice Freedom (Glenn H. Reynolds, Fox News)
“I have no doubt, even as I write this, that longstanding bureaucratic wish lists are being transformed into "essential" anti-terrorist precautions. I also have no doubt that most of them won't do any more good than the dumb "are you a terrorist?" questions immigration officials have been asking embarking passengers for years.

“Worse, this sort of overreaction is exactly what terrorists want. Make no mistake. They hate us not because of what we do but for what we are: rich, free, and happy. To the extent that we give away our freedom in the vain hope that its sacrifice will purchase us a little security, we are playing into their hands. And, as Benjamin Franklin famously predicted, in making that sacrifice we will in fact wind up with neither freedom nor security. ”

Thursday, September 6

In the Rabbi's Debt: Prozbol (ArtScroll via Teaneck Shuls mailing list)
Shmita year coming to an end. If you want to collect your debts, it's time for a Prozbol. Thank you, Hillel!
Surely You're Joking, Mr. Levenson: Jewish Travel to Rochester (New York Jewish Week)
Coincidence that the New York Times featured Rochester just last month?

You be the judge!

Liked by Rolling Stone: Five Stars for Dylan's Love and Theft (Rolling Stone)

“I don't like to think of myself in the highfalutin area," Bob Dylan said a few years ago. "I'm in the burlesque area."

“The man isn't kidding.

“Ever since 1969's Nashville Skyline, he's been scandalizing the faithful with fantasies of shedding all his poetic skins to be reborn as a song-and-dance man.

“On Love and Theft, his forty-third album, he turns this fantasy into a stone-cold Dylan classic. Love and Theft takes us on a full-blown tour of American song in all its burlesque splendor, which includes, of course, Dylan's own psychedelic mutations of the blues.

“Talk about bringing it all back home: Dylan veers into country, ragtime, vaudeville, deep blues, cocktail-lounge corn, the minstrel show and the kind of rockabilly he must have bashed out with his high school band more than forty years ago. ”

Yudel's Line: Yes, it's that good. It's the kind of album that, in my wife's words, make you wonder how we lived without its songs.

Monday, September 3

Later the Next Month: Honey I Crashed the Hard Drive!
Serves me right for running Norton unfrag without disabling GoBack.

Or does it?

Anyway, with that computer catastrophe now more or less behind me, it's time to go forward....

Stay tuned for new surprises.

Flipping His Wig: W Makes Fun of a Bald Guy (consortiumnews.com)
“A presidential milestone passed almost unnoticed Friday. For the first time in the history of televised news conferences, a president of the United States made fun of a bald person.”

Wednesday, August 8

News Jews Can Use: Leining Advice
“Our Website is called TorahLein. It includes constructive ideas which may be beneficial to other leiners.

“We've already posted some some sample information in the website. You can read it now if you like. Additional information is posted on a regular basis by the subscribers to the Leining Forum.”

Tuesday, August 7

Minor Key: Harmonica player Larry Adler has died aged 87 (Sun, via USAJewish)
“Adler, who was in showbiz for 73 years, died last night at St Thomas’s Hospital in London surrounded by his family, after a fight with cancer.

“Adler, who was born in the U.S. moved to London in the 1940s.

“He was forced to quit America after being hounded for his alleged pro-Communist sympathies which fell foul of the McCarthy witchhunt.”

When the Legend Lived: Interview With Larry Adler, 1997 (The Free-Reed Journal)
CFR: What advice do you have for young players of the instrument?

Adler: I would tell them: learn some Bach. I think all of the Baroque composers like Bach, Vivaldi, Scarlatti, Marcello, etc., they're very good for the aspiring mouth organ player because they write beautiful melodic lines. What I don't like is a mouth organ player who tries to be as clever as he can be. Try to make music; to hell with being clever!

“And I don't like the blues harmonica at all; I think they all sound alike except for Bob Dylan -- who sounds worse!

CFR: Is that something that I can quote?

Adler: Oh, absolutely! I've said that if I were dictator of the world my first act would be to forbid Bob Dylan from playing the mouth organ! God, I think he's bad!”

Speaking of Which: Klezmer Harmonica, Blues, and Larry Adler (Baltimore Sun, 1999)
“Jerry Lapides plays a few bars of the old klezmer wedding dance "Frailach Fun Der Chuppa," "happiness of the nuptial canopy," his harmonica infusing the festive song with an undertone of nostalgic sadness....

“Lapides was inspired as a kid by Larry Adler, whom he saw playing at the Hippodrome. About a dozen years older than Lapides, Baltimore-born Adler, the world's leading concert harmonica virtuoso, was playing the Hipp when he was 9 or 10.

“But Lapides only began playing serious harmonica about 20 years ago. He has played virtually every joint in Fells Point, from sitting in at the Cat's Eye Pub to the blues jam at the Full Moon Saloon. He has played standards with the late and much-lamented El Duke-O, a more or less legendary pianist, and he improvised with the brilliant jazz guitarist, Paul Wingo, at Bertha's.

“Lapides reckons he's not very religious.

“"I guess, if you mean by religious orthodox in practice and theology, I would say no. But I feel the fervor, I guess like Larry Adler, of my culture." ”

Monday, August 6

Takes One to Know One: Are You a Left-Wing Wacko? (Tom Tomorrow in Salon)

Take this simple test and find out!

Annals of Retailing: For the Love of God, Don't Turn Your Brain Off (Comic Book Resources)

So I stride in purposefully, first thing in the morning, nobody in the store, and the functionary behind the first cash register says, "Sir, I need your backpack."

Never having had been asked for my backpack in this place before, which I've been going to to pick up the damn xerox paper for the previous four years, I say, "Why?"

The guy says, "because it's our policy."

"What's your policy?"

"I gotta take your backpack."

"No," I say.

"Get out," he says.

Sunday, Av 9

State of Despair: A tour of Israel under siege (Yossi Klein Halevi in The New Republic)

“Not since the time before the Six Day War, when Israel faced seemingly insurmountable security and economic crises, have Israelis questioned the long-term viability of the Jewish state....

“In conversations in recent weeks with Israelis across the country, especially in border areas, the phrase I heard most often was "We're losing the state."

“...Few Jews have penetrated Arab society as intimately as has Avraham, as I'll call him, an old veteran of Labor Israel. He lived among the Bedouin and was trusted as a mediator for blood feuds among the Palestinians.

“Jews and Arabs, he says, cannot live together; if Israel chose not to expel the Palestinians from the West Bank after the Six Day War, it has no choice but to now expel itself. And then we must make clear to the Arabs the price they'll pay if they attack us. To survive in the Middle East, he continues, you must speak Arabic, not Yiddish.

“The answer to a suicide bomber--and the way to deter the next bomber--is to destroy the homes of all his relatives. If we respect Arab culture on its own terms, and most of all if we respect ourselves, we'll survive.

“In 1948, he recalls, Israel lacked weapons and soldiers but won the war. We can win again, he insists. It's just a question of learning to speak Arabic.

“...It is a season of self-imposed disasters. After the Versailles wedding-hall collapse in Jerusalem in May--which claimed more fatalities than any terrorist attack--we discovered that buildings all over the country have been shoddily built and are at risk of collapse.

“Then ammonia seeped into Tel Aviv's water supply, and residents were instructed not to drink even boiled tap water.

“The Sea of Galilee, Israel's main water supply, sinks lower and lower, and water may soon be rationed. A people that turned itself from a polyglot collection of refugees into a high-tech superpower no longer trusts its capacity for the miraculous. Increasingly, it questions even its most minimal competence.

“"I feel like I'm part of a losing team," says Jon Saperstein, a former American living in Kibbutz Sasa near the Lebanon border. "No one plans ahead. We deal with the emergency of the day, and then it's over until the next time. No one realized we were running out of water? Did anyone in government think through the implications of settling the West Bank? And Oslo too: Where was Plan B in case it didn't work out? For eighteen years we sat in Lebanon, and in all that time no one thought of building a fence. Do you know what kind of fences they can make in this hostile world? Versailles didn't just happen. Everyone cuts corners. There are no principles, only interests." Saperstein's living room is only three kilometers from the border, but his anxieties are not about Hezbollah and Syria, they are about Israel. ”

Yudel's Line: "The answer to a suicide bomber--and the way to deter the next bomber--is to destroy the homes of all his relatives. " Seems to me that's the win-win solution everyone's looking for: If you believe that martyrdom guarantees you a seat in heaven, well, why shouldn't we oblige you?

Monday, July 23

Glass Houses: Condit’s Zone of Privacy -- And Ours (Reason)
“Condit may have forfeited his own claim to privacy by his legislative record, which for seven House terms has demonstrated a consistent disregard for everyone else’s privacy. What the press has been doing to his life is what he has long been voting to do to ours. ”

Friday, July 20

More Monotheistic Madness: Taliban Bans Neckties, Lipstick, Chess (Reuters)
“Afghanistan's ruling Taliban movement on Wednesday banned the import of 30 items it said were un-Islamic, including playing cards, neckties, lipsticks, nail polish and chessboards.

“Other items listed as banned for being "against the Sharia," or Islamic law, include fireworks, statues, fashion catalogs and greeting cards featuring pictures of people, musical instruments and cassettes.

“Also banned were computer discs, movies, satellite TV dishes, pig fat products and anything made of human hair.”

Wednesday, July 18

From Moses, to Joshua, to the Men of the Great Assembly, to...: A Postcard from Oprah (O)
Because I care about you all!

The Last Battle: Holy War in the Shadowlands (Chronicle of Higher Education)

“A new book revives old allegations and the struggle for the intellectual legacy of C.S. Lewis”

“...All this conflict might leave a mere reader wondering just what C.S. Lewis himself would think. As it happens, a conversation he had with two other writers suggests that he might not have been that surprised.

“"Matthew Arnold made the horrible prophecy that literature would increasingly replace religion," the Christian traditionalist remarked. "It has, and it's taken on all the features of bitter persecution, great intolerance, and traffic in relics. All literature becomes a sacred text. And a sacred text is always exposed to the most monstrous exegesis. ... It's the discovery of the mare's nest by the pursuit of the red herring."

“The transcript shows that the other writers laughed at the comment. Perhaps they were unaware that Lewis had become, at just that moment, a true prophet. "This is going to go on long after my lifetime," he told them -- adding, "You may be able to see the end of it. I shan't."”

A long, but fascinating, read.

Monday, July 16

Love and Theft: New Dylan Album Scheduled (BobDylan.com)
“Columbia Records will release Bob Dylan's first new album in four years, "Love and Theft", on September 11. The album, the artist's 43rd, features 12 brand-new Bob Dylan compositions recorded this spring with Bob Dylan's touring band, augmented with other musicians including legendary Texas keyboard player Auggie Myers.

Dylan & harmonica“Song titles on "Love and Theft" include "Tweedle Dee And Tweedle Dum," "Mississippi," "Summer Days," "Bye And Bye," "Lonesome Day Blues," "Floater," "Highwater (For Charlie Patton)," "Moonlight," "Honest With Me," "Po' Boy," "Cry Awhile," and "Sugar Baby."

“Bob Dylan commented about the new album exclusively to U.S.A. Today, "All the songs are variations on the 12-bar theme and blues-based melodies. The music here is an electronic grid, the lyrics being the sub-structure that holds it all together.

“"The songs themselves don't have any genetic history. Is it like Time Out Of Mind, or Oh Mercy, or Blood On The Tracks, or whatever? Probably not. I think of it more as a greatest hits album, Volume 1 or Volume 2. Without the hits; not yet, anyway."

“Columbia Records President Don Ienner believes the timing is perfect for a new Bob Dylan album, "'Love and Theft' is an album for the masses, not just for the core Bob Dylan fans. There are a lot of people who aren't being served by much of the music that they hear today, and this is the kind of record that people are hungry for. Bob Dylan is a one-of-a-kind artist making one-of-a-kind music and "Love and Theft" proves it again."”

First Review: Dylan's melodies always are a-changin' (Edna Gundersen, USA TODAY)

“Things have changed again. Love and Theft finds pop's inscrutable iconoclast breaking new ground while simultaneously mining gloried traditions in American song, from Delta blues to Appalachian strains to lovesick croons. The result is contemporary yet rootsy, and an unexpected left turn from the million-selling Time. Dylan could be assessing that risk in the lounge-geared Bye and Bye: "I'm walking on briars; I'm not even acquainted with my old desires."

“Dylan roams from the rockabilly-fueled Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and upbeat Western swing of Summer Days to the hymnlike Sugar Baby, twangy Floater and hard-rocking Honest with Me. He tests his upper register on Moonlight, evokes Ralph Stanley in the moody Highwater (For Charlie Patton) and experiments with shifting tempos in Cry Awhile. In Lonesome Day Blues, he strains to decipher the wind's whispers. In the earthy Po' Boy, a soulful standout, he's feeding swine and washing dishes. All tunes were composed recently except for his rerecorded Mississippi, cut from Time and later covered by Sheryl Crow. ”

Tuesday, July 10

The Sudsbury Rebbe Speaks: A Conversation With Lawrence Kushner (Kerem: Creative Explorations in Judaism)
“Plaques bring the Jewish community down. We have no fundraising at all--no car washes, no ad books, no Bingo, no cupcakes in the parking lot. All the money comes from people taking on their fair share of the expenses.

Q:So the dues must be high.

“Very high, up to $2500, although nobody is turned away for lack of money. If it were up to me there'd be no ceiling on dues, because people at the high end don't really pay their fair share. I'd like to see dues as a percentage of your taxes. Tell us how much you're paying the I.R.S., and we'll take your word for it. ....

Q:One last question. In The Book of Words, you advise people to buy a cemetery plot--and to visit it. That struck me for some reason, and I wanted to ask, Why?

“If you go to your plot, and stand there, you're forced to confront the fact that you won't live forever. There are two ways to deal with that reality. It can be debilitating and depressing, or you can say, "Yes, I'm going to die, but I'm not dead yet." That's one of the great religious insights of all time. Going to your cemetery plot can be an important spiritual experience. The amazing thing about being a rabbi is that you go to the cemetery and the next day you're doing a wedding, and a hospital visit, and a baby-naming, and then it's back to the cemetery. Being a rabbi forces you to confront the important moments of life, like a brick in your face every single day. ”

Natalie Angier's Wild Kingdom: Mating Dances Go On and On (NYTimes)
“Fairy tales never reveal exactly what happens once the prince and princess have shaken the rice from their hair, but here's a sample of how other coupled creatures interpret the phrase, "And they lived happily ever after":

“... a report in a recent issue of the journal Animal Behaviour argues that researchers have been remiss when it comes to exploring and explaining the many ritualized behaviors that animals engage in once they have chosen their mates. ”

Monday, July 9

The Way We Were: Remembering Murray Kahn, 1928-1996 (Stuyvesant High School Alumni Association - Remembering Great Teachers)
“My parents were the personification of all that was best about life in the shtetl. My father met my mother when he was 14 and she 10 years old when her parents hired him to be her Talmud teacher for most girls then were taught Talmud through private tutors. They told us that whenever a book came to one person in the town, the book was passed from one to another until all the inhabitants read it. They had a singing society, took regular group hikes in the woods surrounding the town, participated in all the great movements of the time -- socialist, Zionist and secularism.”

Satuday, July 7

R-rated Torah: The Talmud's teaching on Pinchas, God and zealotry (Larry Yudelson)
“The Talmud then begins a curious line of discussion:

"R. Nahman said in Rav's name: What is the meaning of the verse "`A greyhound, and a he-goat, and a king, against whom there is no rising up (Prov. 30: 31)?'"

“Using a series of bad puns and gematria, Rabbi Nahman interprets the verse as follows: Zimri went at it 424 times with Cozbi, until he finally tired out and Pinchas sneaked up on him. Imagine: 424 times!

“And the Gemara proceeds to add even more graphic detail:

"60 times, until he became like an addled egg., while she became like a furrow filled with water. R. Kahane said: And her seat was a beth seah -- a field requiring a seah of seed. R. Joseph learned: Her womb opening was a cubit."

“Why is the Talmud telling us this? Did we really need all this detail?”

Good News for our Universe: Antimatter Not As Tough As Matter -- Thus We Exist (Reuters)
“After bashing a stream of antimatter particles against a stream of matter particles in mile-long tubes near Silicon Valley, scientists found themselves with some left over matter that the uninitiated would not have expected.

“Matter and antimatter blow each other up when they meet, as any Star Trek fan knows, which has left physicists working hard to explain how our universe, made up of matter, could exist, since around the Big Bang which started things there apparently were equal amounts of matter and antimatter.

“The answer is that matter is a bit tougher than antimatter, at least as far as the recent experiments on a particle called a B meson are concerned, the team working at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in Palo Alto, California, announced.

“That confirmed results of another experiment on a similar particle that has haunted physicists for decades.”

Thursday, July 5

Zero GravityZero Gravity Report: Learning to Fly, Strip, and Vomit on a 727 (Penn Jillette)
“Right now, the only way you can feel weightless for more than a couple rollercoaster seconds is by getting far enough away from Earth, or taking the Vomit Comet. The Vomit Comet is how NASA trains astronauts (the Russians must do it too, right?). They take a big old airplane and they go up and down really fast. When they go up, you weight 1.8 times your weight, and when they go down, you weigh around 0....

“...After 6 years of grueling cheerleading, I got be be weightless. Only about 600 people in the world have felt the feeling. And as I sit here in my office at home, my body knows something it never knew before. It knows how it feels to be weightless for more than a second or two. And I feel it. I feel it every now and again. Just sitting here, I have the feeling in my whole body, that I might be able to just float away. I might be able to just take off. My Zero G buddies tell me that now my body knows, I'll have astronaut dreams. I will dream of floating and flying. I'm a different person. I'm old and huge and I have very bad eyes, it's unlikely I'll get into space for real -- but, I've been weightless, and now my body knows something it didn't know. I know what it feels like to weigh nothing, and I know that all the way through.

“... And we were weightless again. Billy and I were laughing, hugging, and floating. I did all the stuff I remembered seeing astronauts doing. I got myself spinning in one place in a little ball. Up and down didn't matter. ”

Thoughts on the International Space Station: They Should Name This Module Travesty (Slashdot)
“When I started working on Station in the mid-80s, the dreams were high. We were going to provide ultra-pure water, on-orbit X-ray machines to analyze fragile protein crystals grown in zero-G that would never survive reentry, animal cages and discection capabilities (imagine handling mouse litter and blood drops in orbit!), freezers and microscopes and video links, centrifuges to grow wheat in lunar gravity levels and corn in Martian gravity levels - plus all the solar cells and heat radiators to run all of this stuff - run by astronauts living off of a closed life support system that would be a dress rehersal for a Mars mission.

“Well, the ugly reality of $10,000 per pound to orbit reared it's ugly head, the Cold War ended and the project had to include the Russians, the mission orbit was changed to let Russian rockets barely get there at the expense of halving what a US Shuttle could get there from a Florida launch, the life support system is basically scuba tanks of air and there's no lab equipment to speak of or crew time to run it if there was any. I guess the only thing left to do is turn a module into a film backdrop for recording fantasy dreams.... ”

Speaking of the 4th of July: Logging company's attack on critics is how corporations silence dissent (Molly Ivins)
“The Boise Cascade Corp. is targeting Rainforest Action Network, the environmental group that has gotten Home Depot, Lowe's and other major companies to stop buying wood from the remaining old-growth forests.

“Since the RAN folks have been targeting Boise Cascade to get the company to stop logging in old-growth forests, this may seem to be a case of turnabout-is-fair-play. Actually, it's another corporate campaign --- like SLAPP suits (strategic lawsuits against public participation) --- designed to silence critics of corporate practice. Boise Cascade is working with two industry-supported front groups, trying to get the IRS to cancel Rainforest's tax-exempt status and to pressure its funders to cut off the group's money.”

We The People: Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (poclad.org)
“We invite you to engage us in this idea: giant corporations govern. In the Constitution of the United States, they are delegated no authority to make our laws and define our culture. Corporations have no constitutions, no bills of rights. So when corporations govern, democracy flies out the door.

“This may be a depressing idea. But it is not a new idea. Or a complicated one. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, among many others, spelled it out: "The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic State itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group or any controlling private power."

“There is something else: when people live within a culture of privatized power, common sense scrambles out the window. People cease to trust their own eyes and ears, to rely upon their own experiences. Their minds become colonized. We invite you to work with us to change this. ”

Tuesday, July 3

Monopolist Points, Shoots at Rochester: Kodak tangles with Microsoft over Win XP (Wall Street Journal)
“When Kodak cameras were plugged into a PC loaded with Kodak software, it was Microsoft's own photo software that popped up--not Kodak's. Camera customers would have to go through a cumbersome process to get Kodak's software to pop up every time, and most would probably just use Microsoft's.

“More troubling, the Kodak team found that the new program steered orders for picture prints to companies that would have to pay to be listed in Windows, and that these companies also would be asked to pay Microsoft a fee on every photo sent through Windows.

“The Kodak team felt double-crossed. They had worked with Microsoft and the camera industry for a year on a new photo-transfer standard that allowed Windows to recognize when a camera was plugged in. Now, Kodak felt, the standard was being used against Kodak and other digital-camera makers, because it favored Microsoft's competing camera software, embedded in the planned new version of Windows.

“"We were being frozen out," says Mr. Gerskovich, a 44-year-old Kodak vice president. "Consumers were effectively being denied a choice of which photo software they could use. More important, they should be able to send photos to any Internet printing service they choose--without paying a tax to Microsoft."

 

Sunday, July 1

Big Brother is Watching: Police cameras go spy-tech (St Petersburg (Fl.) Times)
“ Here's how it works: The software can instantly capture the images of up to four people (it is programmed for four, but capable of capturing eight at a time) and compares those images to a computer database based on 80 points of the person's face, in an area encompassing their eyes and nose.

“The database consists of those wanted on active warrants from the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office and a list of sexual offenders from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Todd said. A larger pool can be added later if desired.

“If there is a resemblance, the computer will rate it from 1 to 10, giving out an audible "whoop whoop!" alarm for 8.5 and above.

“The software, called Face-It, is linked to 36 cameras throughout the Centro Ybor entertainment complex and along E Seventh Avenue.”

Mongolian Candidates: MI5 records reveal gerbil spycatcher plan (BBC)
“Security Serivce MI5 once planned to recruit a team of specially-trained gerbils as a secret weapon to sniff out spies, it has been revealed.

“The animals were to help interrogate suspects because they could use their acute sense of smell to detect a rise in adrenalin - the chemical released in sweat when people feel under stress.

“Research for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had uncovered the gerbil's skill and the Israelis had first put it to the test, he said.

“They had kept the rodents in cages next to security check areas in Tel Aviv airport.

“Carefully placed fans wafted the smell of a suspect's hands towards the animals' nostrils.”

Great Moments in Jewish Baseball Comics: The Golem's Mighty Swing (Comics Newsarama)
“The Golem's Mighty Swing follows the barnstorming Jewish baseball team, The Stars of David as they travel throughout the Midwest in the 1920s. Common in those times, teams such as The Stars of David would travel from town to town, earning a modest living by playing local teams.

&147;While it sounds as if you did a quick google search, you could come up with a cracked, dog-eared, black and white photo of The Stars of David, the team isn't 100% factual. "There were Jewish minor league baseball teams, and everything that happened in the book is historically plausible," Sturm said. "When I write all these stories, I really try to make the research happen so I get that question of, 'Did this really happen?' When I get that, I feel like I've done my job because it's credible.

“ "Basically, The Stars of David are a motley crew of players, from an ex-Negro League player who's posing as a Jew, to the player-manager named Noah Strauss who goes by the name The Zion Lion. Noah used to play for the Boston Red Sox until his knees went. The entire team sport beards to attract patrons, so in a sense, they're kind of like the Harlem Globetrotters - they go around and have the beards to attract attention, and then they play a baseball game. It works, especially in midwestern towns of that era, because some had never seen Jews before." ”

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