Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Some AUT members aren't stupid

Some AUT members are against the obviously antisemitic boycott of Israeli universities. This is a heartening sign. I take back what I said in my previous post. The organization is not supporting the evils of terrorism and fascism, only some of their less-than-scholarly members support these evils.


Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Stupidity = Association of University Teachers

Melanie Phillips analyzes the situation and motivation of the latest anti-semitic resolution from the British Association of University Teachers. It's well worth reading.

And here are some of the medical innovations from Israel. So AUT members might want to avoid these life saving medical discoveries. This is only one area Israel has made contributions in. And from the Palestinians that the AUT supports we get . . .what? I don't even have to say it, do I?

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Monday, April 25, 2005

Rachel Corrie, A Life in Terrorist Acts

Rachel Corrie, "peace activist", terror supporter, useful idiot, tool of Palestinian terrorists, burning a paper drawing of the American flag. A play about her life written by fellow terror supporter and useful idiot, Alan Rickman currently graces a stage in London, England. I wonder which act this scene appears in? Posted by Hello


Friday, April 22, 2005

The Silence of the Grandfather

My grandfather was 85 when he died. That was about thirty years ago.

He came to the United States from Russia as a young man in the pre-revolution days. He escaped actually. He didn't see any future in being drafted into the Czar's army, especially as a Jew, so he left. He'd been arrested, as the story goes, for not showing up in response to his draft notice. He made the leap from the second floor of a police station and didn't stop running until he'd reached the new promised land, where milk and honey flowed and the streets were paved with gold. As far as I'm concerned dodging the draft in Czarist Russia was the best move he could have possibly made. Because of him, I got to grow up as an American, and you're damn right I appreciate it.

He met my grandmother here. They raised my father and his brother. After working for Ford for many years, he lost his job during the Depression and opened up a poultry store, which my grandparents ran until long after I was born. My parents used to take me there as a child. There were live chickens, ducks, and rabbits just waiting to be a part of your balanced dinner. The place smelled something awful, but I was always fascinated seeing the animals.

My grandmother died when I was around six or seven. My grandfather continued to live in the upper flat of the two-family house he'd owned for I-don't-know-how long. When he finally moved out, my father and I went over to help him pack and throw things out. I was probably eleven or twelve by this time. In the attic I scored an old Phantom Big-Little book, which has disappeared, and a 1917 edition of A PRINCESS OF MARS by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It's illustrated by Frank E. Schoonover. There are very moody, mysterious, black and white plates scattered throughout the book. I had to tape the cover on, so the book is being held together by masking tape thats almost 40 years old. I still treasure that book. The story is good too.

My grandfather moved in with my aunt and uncle and lived there for about ten years until he went into the hospital to die. Every Friday he came over to our house. My mother always made chicken and chicken soup and he always brought us (my siblings and me) Hershey Bars. We were little enough so that he played with us. I don't remember exactly what we played, but Fridays were always good because Grandpa was over. I still have old super-8 movies of my youngest sister at four years old riding and dancing around the basement on his shoulders. He must have been 80 years old at the time. On every visit he took a one mile walk to the local mall, hang out for a while and then walk back. One day my sister tried to go with him. I think she made it a few blocks before she turned back. He followed to make sure she got back OK. He still walked in the hospital as cancer was killing him. He'd stroll up and down the halls pushing his IV stand along. He was the talk of the ward.

My grandfather was a very quiet man. So is my father. So was my uncle. So am I. It's been remarked how we all married women who were the opposite.

As a teenager I still enjoyed his visits. We didn't talk much, but I still liked having him there. I paid less attention to him than I did when I was younger, but I always went with my father to take him home at night. The three of us all sat in the front seat with me in the middle, and that was fine with me.


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The New Pope

As a dedicated follower of the herd, I too, must weigh in on the new pope; Pope Benedict, the XVI. (I like using Roman numerals. There, my dirty little secret is out). At first, like everyone else, I wondered, a German pope? 78 years old? How old would he have been when . . . you know? And would he have been a member of . . . you know? He was, but he was young at the time. With so many adults willingly becoming Nazis, how could a youngster escape it? As I read more about this time in his life, it seems he wasn't as dedicated to the cause as some of the other young future sociopaths. I do have to give him the benefit of the doubt as he did drop out to become a priest.

Some doubters, Catholic and non-Catholics want him to follow their agenda and loosen things up a bit (or a lot), and will be satisfied with nothing less. I'm not Catholic so I have no say in the matter. If you're Catholic and not happy with the Pope, join another church. If you're not Catholic, shut up and deal with it.

I read that he's going to continue Pope John Paul's policy of reaching out to the Jews. I think that's a great idea. I also read that he's aware of the current Islamic threat to Europe and the world. I'm on his side there too. I'm not European, but it scares me that too many Europeans are willing to give up their Christian heritage in return for - for - for what? They damn the Jews who have contributed to the creation of their civilization, and kiss the feet of Muslims who want to establish an Islamic theocracy where Christians and Jews would be forced to accept second class status. I'm hoping Pope Benedict can help the Europeans get their heads out of their rear ends and begin to reclaim what their ancestors built and fought for over the last two thousand years. It isn't perfect, but it's better than being under the heel of an Islamo-fascist dictatorship.

Go Benedict!


Friday, April 15, 2005

Second Stop, Jupiter

A few birthdays ago my wife bought me a really nice telescope. It's programable. You can set it to find objects in space. Once you're on target, it follows the object as it moves across the heavens (or compensates for the rotation of the Earth if you wish to avoid romanticism). I use it every once in a while. Sometimes I'm even able to remember how to program it so I can view a planet for a good long time, usually until the head pain begins. A few weeks ago, I felt like Gallileo as I pondered the rings of Saturn. Tonight, my daughter and I spied Jupiter and some of its moons. We could also see faint differences in shading, like stripes, on the gas giant. The last time I watched Jupiter over a period of nights, I could see three or four of its moons at a time, and they were always on the same line stretched out across the sky (lens). This time two were close to each other, one off the line, higher than the other, with another wandering much further out. I also thought I saw, but my daughter says she didn't, a fourth moon seeming to hug the planet and not on the same line with the others. According to the software that came with the telescope, I didn't see the fourth one. But what does software know?

No matter how many moons we saw, I find it impossible not to be awed by Jupiter, so far out in the solar system, billions of miles away, and yet part of our tiny corner of the Universe.

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Sunday, April 10, 2005

Two Views on Raising Children

Last night I went to the opening night of the local high school production of The Music Man. Back when I was in high school, I sat through our thespians' production. This production was far better. My son was in it. He didn't have a big part, but he shined. Last year they did Fiddler on the Roof, and my then fourth-grade daughter was in it along with my son. It was a wonderful show, and wouldn't you know it, better than when my high school put it on back in the olden days. My daughter couldn't get a part this year, because, as it was explained to me, they wanted to give more of the little kids a chance. Had she been in it, of course, it would have been an even better production.

Why bring this up? Like other parents around the world, I want my children to be exposed to many different aspects of life. I want them to have choices, to "know what's out there". Over the years they've had after school activities like so many other kids: dance, piano, guitar, plays, karate, soccer, basketball, Hebrew School, art camp, and on and on and on . . .

As we can see from the photo, courtesy of Associated Press, some parents have other ideas of how to raise children and the kinds of extra-curricular activities they approve for their children.

Two Views of Raising Children Posted by Hello

For people who claim to want peace, the Palestinians have a strange way of raising their children. Lest you think this is an isolated case, check out this slideshow over at little green footballs. It makes one wonder if they really will be satisfied living side by side with Israel.

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Monday, April 04, 2005

Look at the little Palestinian toddler. Ain't he cute? What do you think his daddy is raising him to be? Doctor? Accountant? Businessman? Engineer? Teacher? So how are they going to run a country when this is how they're raising their children? And some people really believe they want peace. Posted by Hello

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Sunday, April 03, 2005

Robert D. Kaplan

Robert Kaplan, writer for Atlantic Monthly, and one of my favorite non-fiction authors was on BookTV today. The did an in-depth interview with him. I turned it on in the middle and watched about an hour of it. It made me want to reread all of his books along with Herodotus, Tacitus, Gibbon, and Runciman. If you are interested in the current political situation, read WARRIOR POLITICS and THE COMING ANARCHY. THE COMING ANARCHY was the first of his that I read, and I've picked up all of his books since then. Many of them are travel books, but they delve into the politics and history of the area he's visiting. He's a fascinating writer, and shrewd in his analysis. Stop staring at the screen, go to your local independent book store and buy some Robert D. Kaplan.

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Sin City

My wife and I saw Sin City last night. I have all of the comic books, and they are great comic books. If you haven't read them, I highly recommend them. Some things are better left on the comic book page though. Dialogue that works on the printed page can sound stupid, or vapid, or unbelievable coming from the movie screen. Things that look good as a static drawing may make you cringe as a moving picture.

I think a lot of critics were seduced by the production. It was for the most part, a visually stunning flick. We have never seen anything like it. For Frank Miller fans, it was slavishly faithful to the comic. If you look past that, you may notice one dimensional characters, if there's any characterization at all. Many were just "types" from film noirland, and comic noirland. In order to run all three of the stories in a reasonable amount of time, ploting was kept to a minimum. There was no feeling. The whole thing was a sterile visual exercise.

I did think the scantily clad women were a major plus. My wife disagreed.

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Saturday, April 02, 2005

Coffee, The Wonder Drug

I never wanted to be a coffee addict. Like millions of others, growing up, I loved the smell but hated the taste. In college I only drank it when I needed a boost. And that was rarely.

After college, I worked a lot of restaurant jobs, sometimes late mornings, but mostly at night. I developed a taste for cappuccino during a bartending stint, where I had to learn to make cappuccinos. They were exotic, visually appealling, and offered more sensory experience and layers of taste than a simple cup o' Joe. Learning the art of cappuccino (and it is an art when done correctly) helped me worm my way into the affections of a lovely coworker who is now my wife, but that's another post.

Years later we bought a little home cappuccino machine. I used it occasionally, but it was too time consuming for one or two cups. I got lazy. I don't even know if we still have it, but I may look for it.

Now, as a teacher, I'm up and going early in the morning. Instead of going to bed at sunrise, I'm getting up before sunrise. Even so, I rarely want coffee in the morning . . . until around February. That's when my energy level starts to wither. I still avoid it most mornings because those times when I've given in, I hated the headaches when I stopped.

In addition, my doctor has advised me to stay away from caffeine. I haven't had a cup of coffee in weeks, but my wife drinks it every morning. Other teachers come in with their cups from Dunkin' Donuts, 7-11, Caribou, Panera, Starbucks. There's coffee brewing in the office, the teacher's lounge, and in one or two classrooms around the building. I can taste it every time I look at it! I want some.

Tonight we switch our clocks ahead an hour for daylight savings time. Monday morning I will actually be getting up an hour earlier than I have been. It's going to be even harder because we're coming off of Spring Break, so I've been sleeping in for the past week.

That Monday morning cup of coffee is going to be so good. I drink it so rarely, I usually get a small buzz from it. And I might have one Tuesday. But no more after that. Really!

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Friday, April 01, 2005

Beckett and Joyce

Of all the legendary Irish gangs in the first half of the 20th century, none were more feard than the Beckett-Joyce Gang. Though they were well known to be the co-leaders, and many of their crimes well-known to both police and public, police were never able to bring charges against either one of them.

Samuel Beckett, aka Little Sammy Beckett, aka Quiet Sam, aka The Waiter, was the one who was most feared. He said very little, but his henchmen, Molloy, Malone, Murphy, Watt, and others always knew what to do to carry out his heinous orders. All he had to do was raise an eyebrow in a certain way, and his order was understood. Both Molloy and Malone were in and out of prison for years for their roles in the nefarious deeds ordered by Beckett. In fact all of the gang members spent a good portion of their lives being incarcerated for their crimes. While some were in jail, others were always out. There seemed to be no way to put the kibosh on the organization.

The two most feared members were the enforcers. Nobody ever knew the name of one of them. They just called him The Unnamable. A sigh of relief was heard throughout Ireland when he finally died. Whether of natural or unnatural causes, we'll never know. The other, the most feared member of either gang, was the one no one had ever even seen. Rumor has it Beckett had never even seen him. We know his name though; Godot. We don't even know if Godot still alive after all of these years. If he is, he's a very old man.

Joyce, aka Little Jimmy, aka Big Jim, aka The Patch, aka Singing Jim, aka Wandering Jim, aka Steve, had his own henchmen, scum of the earth, like Nosey Flynn, Corny Kelleher, and J. J. O'Malloy (who disappeared they say, at the order of Joyce. Why? We don't know) and their molls, Gertie MacDowell, Cissy Caffrey, and the mysterious Martha Clifford. Joyce also had his inner circle, the men closest to him, Buck Mulligan, aka The Doctor, and another character no one has ever seen and doesn't have a name. We know him only from his description; The Man in the Macintosh. Then there was his mouthpiece, Leopold.

Unlike Beckett, Joyce was afraid of dogs. One of Joyce's first orders upon rising to the top of the gang was the removal of a dog, Garryowen. When Joyce gave the order, "Throwaway", that's what happened to the poor innocent dog. That also happened to rival gang members, most notably Blazes Boylan, who was found thrown away down by the shore with a bar of soap stuffed into his mouth.

Beckett and Joyce both got their start in Oscar Wilde's Bunch, the most feared criminal organization before those two teamed up. Oscar, aka Ernest, and his partner, Dorian aka The Picture, were captured by some determined police work and were removed from the street. This of course only served to make room for the much more dangerous and despicable Beckett-Joyce Gang.

More about how they ran their gang will discussed in a later post.

Copyright 2005 the Garbanzo Press

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