Friday, September 29

So this is New Year: Renewing the Year, Renewing Ourselves (JCN)

The year was 1995. The season was Rosh Hashanah. The browswer was Netscape 1. The Internet was very, very young:

"In the ancient Jewish calendar, every New Moon was important, but one New Moon in every year was singled out..."

King of the Jews? Hoenlein: U.S. Jews must fight deal on Mount (Ha'aretz)

"In an unprecedented development in the relationship between Israel and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the body's executive vice chairman Malcolm Hoenlein called on American Jewry to intervene in the peace process....

"Hoenlein was critical of efforts "to take away or compromise Jewish sovereignty over the Temple Mount and turn it over to the jurisdiction of the United Nations or the Palestinian Authority."

"In response, a senior diplomatic source in Jerusalem said that it is expected from the leadership of the Jewish Community to rely on the government to protect the real interests of the state of Israel and the Jewish people.

"Speaking with Ha'aretz yesterday, Hoenlein confirmed that he criticized the idea for breaking the deadlock in the negotiations with the Palestinians by placing the Temple Mount under the control of the UN Security Council or any other foreign sovereign.

"Hoenlein said that the Conference of Presidents' representatives met with Likud Chairman Ariel Sharon, and Yisrael b'Aliyah chairman, Natan Sharansky, to discuss the issue and are also planning to meet with Jerusalem mayor Ehud Olmert."

Thursday, September 28

Framing the Lieberman Debate: A month ago, before the controversial Imus interview, I wrote for the Forward about Lieberman's religious position. Belatedly, here's a link

"As an American Jew in the 1950s, Mr. Lieberman was heroic as one of a handful of shomer Shabbat high school students living outside of New York City. As an American Jew in the year 2000, he is heroic for illustrating that Sabbath observance is a virtue for Americans and the heritage of Jews, a heritage that doesn't demand swallowing Orthodox dogma whole."

Wednesday, September 27

Update: Will a newly installed DSL line make for more frequent updates? Stay tuned!

Monday, August 14

Senators, Congressmen, Please Heed my Call: Lieberman on Zimmerman, May 24, 1991 (Thanks to Martin Grossman)

"Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, 25 or 30 years ago, I would have had a very difficult time imagining Bob Dylan, whose music was so much a part of my life at the time, being 50 years old, an age he attains today, his birthday. I would have had even greater difficulty imagining me taking note of his achievements in remarks in the Senate of the United States...

"For me and so many others of my generation, Bob Dylan--together with John F. Kennedy--signalled a great change in our world, heralding a new frontier, while the old order is rapidly fadin'. President Kennedy's death may have cut short our advance to that frontier, but Dylan played on as society erupted in great social ferment, matching the power of words with the power of music. "

Friday, August 4

Too young, too young, too soon, too soon: Jewish Journalism Pioneer Dies (Ron Kampeas, AP)

"Charles Hoffman, whose reporting for the English-language newspaper The Jerusalem Post pioneered critical coverage of major Jewish organizations, has died. He was 54. Hoffman, died Sunday in Jerusalem after a seven-month battle with cancer, The Jerusalem Post reported.

"He covered relations between Israel and Jews elsewhere around the world in the late 1980s for the Post. He broke with a tradition of bland, cheery coverage of Jewish organizations, and aimed a critical eye at Jewish philanthropy - most notably the Jewish Agency, the massive body run jointly by Israeli political parties and diaspora Jews.

"In dry, incisive language, he exposed mismanagement and waste at the agency, and many of his articles led to reforms. They also inspired other reporters, including those working for Jewish newspapers outside of Israel, to end their own tradition of uncritical coverage of Jewish charity."

Monday, July 24

Why we don't trust the FBI: The Privacy Snatchers (Declan McCullagh, Time's Digital Daily)

"Government agencies have subjected hundreds of thousands of law-abiding Americans to unjust surveillance, illegal wiretaps and warrantless searches. Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., feminists, gay rights leaders and Catholic priests were spied on. The FBI used secret files and hidden microphones to blackmail the Kennedy brothers, sway the Supreme Court and influence presidential elections."

Friday, July 7

Observing the observant: A 21st century posek takes the helm (Yair Sheleg in Ha'aretz)

"The new head of the Conservative movement's Jewish Law Committee, Rabbi Prof. David Golinkin, wants to combine halakha and modern life. Even those who fiercely object to his decisions cannot ignore the vast store of knowledge that goes into them....

"Golinkin has drawn up six principles for the Conservative outlook on halakha which emphasize the movement's loyalty to tradition.

"On the other hand, there are another five which clearly differentiate between the Conservative and Orthodox approaches:


Wednesday, March 29

Sorry (Leon Wieseltier in the New Republic on the Pope's apology)

"I do not feel that it is right, I do not even know what it means, to accept an apology on my ancestors' behalf."
L.A. Law stars link up with Internet (Reuters)

"GenerationA.com, a U.S.-Israeli Internet start-up targeting the over-50 crowd, has signed up Eikenberry and Tucker to act as celebrity hosts for their web site."

Meanwhile, they also signed up YudelLine star Larry Yudelson to run the GenerationA.com Web site. Any connection to YudelLine's sporadic publication schedule? No comment.

Early Withdrawal? Barak's Children (Yossi Klein Halevi in The New Republic)

One Last Oscar Scandal: Only one Jewish film takes an Oscar (JTA)

Get this, folks! No fewer that two Jewish-themed films failed to win an Oscar! And did you notice how goyish American Beauty was?

Let's hear it for the brave Jewish Telgraphic Agency, able to take on those in power on behalf of the Jewish people.

Sunday, February 12

Haredim Against (Sephardi-Ashekenazi) Intermarriage: If you wrong us, shall we not avenge? (Ha'aretz)

A telling reminder that the threat to "Jewish unity" is not non-Orthodox schism, but the ultra-Orthodox insistence that it's their way or the highway.

"There are virtually no mixed marriages, no joint worship, and eating together is a major problem because of different forms of ritual slaughter and kashrut. A report on the sharpening power struggle between the two ultra-Orthodox communities, Sephardi and Ashkenazi"

Magical Mystery Tour: Witch hunt (Ha'aretz)

A 57-year-old housewife and grandmother of seven is about to stand trial in Haifa on charges of witchcraft. The case is opening a cultural Pandora's box. Under a broad interpretation of the law, thousands of astrologers, readers of coffee grounds and Tarot cards, holistic healers, amulet-sellers and rabbis who deal in "practical" Kabbala could be accused of practicing witchcraft

Brit rockers Bush offer Jewish prayer at Austrian show (Reuters)

"Against a wall of guitar feedback during the encore, Gavin Rossdale sang the Hammotzi, a prayer for the breaking of the bread, for about 2,000 people attending the band's show in Graz"

Thursday, February 3

In the Beginning: What We All Spoke When the World Was Young (NYTimes)

"Dr. Joseph H. Greenberg of Stanford University has classified most of the world's languages into just a handful of major groups.

"Born in Brooklyn in 1915, he was interested in language almost from birth. His father spoke Yiddish and his mother's family German. "I was brought up to believe Yiddish was an inferior language because my father's relatives got invited to the house as seldom as possible," he said. Hebrew school exposed him to a fourth language.

"At first sight it may seem hard to believe that languages as different as English and Japanese, say, share any commonalities. But in his new book on the grammar of Eurasiatic (a second volume on vocabulary is in progress), Dr. Greenberg has found many elements that he argues knit the major Eurasian language families into a single group.

"Words beginning in 'm,' for example, are found in every Eurasiatic family to designate the first person (English: me; Finnish: mina; proto-Altaic: min; Old Japanese: mi). Every branch of Eurasiatic, Dr. Greenberg says, uses n-words to designate a negative, from the no/not of English to the -nai ending that makes Japanese verbs negative."

A week without YudelLine...

... has been occasioned in part by the launching of Shmooze.com . Drop by to join the discussions, ask to host your own, and even keep an eye out for YudelLine's next update.

Tuesday, January 25

Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road: JCN Buys the Farm

Well, it finally happened. I'm not surprised, but I'm sad: JCN18.com is shutting down their server. Those of us involved at the beginning have been expecting this for years, but had come to assume that the site would remain up because, well, it doesn't cost anything to keep alive an old site as a public service. We forgot that public service and the owner of JCN have very little to do with each other.

Hello, Again: Shmooze.com Launches Interactive Message Boards

With the curtain closing on one chapter of Jewish Internet history, I'm launching another. If you liked the JCN message boards, you'll love Shmooze.com, which allows our moderators to actually moderate and will, hopefully, result in few flame wars. And if you've always wanted to host a message board, now's your chance: Email the Shmooze community manager today!

Our Town: Police face trial over workplace (Bergen Record)

"A sexual harassment case against the Teaneck Police Department will go to trial after a judge dismissed some -- but not all -- of the allegations by two women employees that their careers have been marred by years of harassment and retaliation on the force."

Odd Politics is Local: Race-Baiting Microsoft Nut Plans Run (The Stranger)

"Will Seatle's Loopies perennial candidate -- former Microsoft exec and male-to-female transsexual lesbian Janice Van Cleve -- challenge Washington state's only openly gay state representative, Ed Murray, in the 43rd District Democratic primary this fall?"

Monday, January 10

Law and Order: Boy Handcuffed During Helmet Spat (AP)
"A 9-year-old boy was handcuffed by a sheriff's deputy who spotted him riding his bicycle without a helmet after officials say the deputy told him to wear one."

Celebrating Personal Computers (1) Knocking up a revolution (Sidney Morning Herald)

"With the world anxiously counting down the hours to the millennium, few people probably realised that it was also the 25th anniversary of one of the most important technological developments of the 20th century: the launch of the world's first personal computer, the Altair 8800.

"Sold in kit form from December 1974, the $US397 Altair used a primitive Intel 8080 processor (first launched in 1974) running at just 2 megahertz. It featured just 256 bytes of RAM and came with no data storage capability."

I remember those first Altair ads on the back cover of Creative Computing magazine. Wow!

Celebrating Personal Computers (2) The Illustrated Guide to Breaking Your Computer

"When you work in a job where you are constantly using computers for long enough, you develop a certain anxious feeling which can pretty much only be cured by beating the hell out of an old computer or two.

"However, since this can be extremely frustrating and nerve-wracking if done incorrectly, I am providing for fellow techies and interested persons an illustrated step-by-step guide for Satisfying Computer Destruction."

Saturday, January 8

The Return of Robert Kaplan: Israel Now (Robert D. Kaplan in The Atlantic)

"In the 1970s, when I was in my twenties, I traveled throughout Islamic North Africa and the Middle East, settling in Israel, where I served in the military. In Israel, finding life among people of my faith claustrophobic, I rediscovered my Americanness. What I took away from Israel was not Zionism so much as realism: whereas Israel's phobias about security might seem extreme to outsiders, life in Israel taught me that the liberal humanist tendency to see politics predominantly in moral terms was equally so."

Robert Kaplan is the author of Balkan Ghosts, the eminently readable account of Balkan history that reportedly disuaded Clinton from intervening in Bosnia. He's been writing since then on the disolution of the Cold War order -- "The Coming Anarchy" is the title of his forthcoming work. Leave it to him to spend a week or two in Israel and accurately capture a decade's worth of trends.

BioCentury, Day 8: New Clones Bid Goodbye, Dolly (Wired News)

"Animal scientists took cells from the ear of a prize Japanese beef bull, froze them, then cultured the cells over several months. Four calves were born from cells cultured for two months. One died at birth and another died from a viral infection. Two more clones were born from cells cultured for three months"

Sit down Jim, he's dead: Shatner does Shiva? (Mania Buzz)

"William Shatner, TV's Captain Kirk, is keeping himself busy. Not only is the 68-year-old actor serving as the Priceline spokesman, he's working on a wrestling sitcom called Down for the Count and a comedy film entitled The Shiva Club.

"Variety reports that the 68-year-old actor got the idea for The Shiva Club a reference to the Jewish pracice of sitting shiva after a funeral - following the recent death of his wife Nerine. "I came up with a comedic idea," he said.

"In Down For the Count, Shatner suggested that might wrestle and sing."

What were they thinking? U.N.'s loss may be her $700,000 gain (Bergen Record)

A woman gets nearly a million dollars wired into her account from the governments of Italy, Spain, etc. Now there's a jury trial to determine whether she gets to keep the money. The kindhearted, trustworthy accidential beneficiary has already quit her job in celebration.

Now, can anyone tell me why she might be allowed to keep the accidental windfall? The Bergen Record neglects to explain.

Update: Our readers write

"Lawyer said because they had 90 days to claim the money and didn't, for what it's worth (about $700,000, I guess...)" -- unis

All of which goes to show that my study of Baba Metzia has blinded me to the nuances of American law.

Tuesday, January 4, 2000

What was it like to be young (not yet 23) in San Francisco on the eve of the new century?

That's a question we never thought to ask Granny Edna, born on this date in 1878, and our family's connection to the 19th century. "If I was younger," she told us once not that long before she died at age 103, "I would learn something about these newfangled computers."

Happy birthday, Granny!

Pondering Pandering: Assembly speaker, colleagues visit jailed Israel spy (Bergen Record)

Actually, it's quite frightening to think of the security of either the U.S. or Israel in the hands of someone who bears a third of the responsibility for the trainwreck that is New York State government.

Getting the Scoop: Memories from Journalism's Golden Age (Washington Monthly)

A review of Jack Anderson's new memoir, in which "the surviving granddaddy of muckraking takes one last ride around the Washington merry-go-round in an engaging, often hilarious look back on a lifetime devoted to poking the eye of the powerful and the pompous. Anderson's memoir is also a light and entertaining survey of scandal in post-World War II Washington, and a history of two Beltway reporters who weren't afraid to get their hands sullied as long as they felt it was on behalf of the public. Indeed, they spirited off classified documents, eavesdropped on private conversations, and crusaded openly and joyously without regard for more conventional notions of journalistic objectivity."

Home Free: Rudy's right and Rosie's wrong (Salon)

"New York's feisty mayor is the best thing that ever happened to the city's homeless."

He's Back! 3 stolen Jesus figures back in their cradles (Bergen Record)

"Police suspect teens are responsible for taking the statues, which turned up Dec. 18 outside a Willow Avenue home less than 100 feet from the entrance to River Dell High School."

Annals of Stupid Government: OSHA Covers At-Home Workers (Washington Post)

"Many workers were so surrounded by piles of paper and books that it would be difficult to evacuate quickly if a fire broke out."

Time to Sell Your Cola Stocks: New Respect for the Nap, a Pause That Refreshes (NYTimes)

"You must sleep sometime between lunch and dinner, and no halfway measures. Take off your clothes and get into bed. That's what I always do. Don't think you will be doing less work because you sleep during the day. That's a foolish notion held by people who have no imaginations. You will be able to accomplish more. You get two days in one -- well, at least one and a half."

Y2K Blues

Last week I finally got around to testing my 1995 computer for Y2K compliance. First I ran a McAfee program that warned of some weird acronymnal danger -- and recommended I rush over to the McAfee Web site to see what it means. Then I ran a simpler test, which explained that the computer wouldn't be able to handle the midnight rollover. It advised that I turn the computer off before midnight and then restart it after the Y2K rollover.

So of course I left it on over Shabbos and you know what happened -- nothing. Sigh.

Meanwhile, if you noticed weird dates on Web sites over the weekend, yes, there's a nifty little Y2K bug stemming from the late 20th century Microsoft vs. Netscape battle. The former's javascript has a routine that, after returning a two-digit year, has begun returning a four-digit year (2000). Netscape, however, returns the more standard number of years since 1900 -- now returning 100. Since the program runs in the browser, someone debugging her Web sites only with Netscape wouldn't notice the error.