Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Moving blues

well, I suppose I have officially settled in (Don't go back to...) Rockville. (See also)It's not that it's all that bad as suburbs go; it's just that it's a suburb. I really liked being able to walk to the corner and hop on the metro - here I have to walk minimum half an hour to get there. I've never really understood why anyone would want to move to the burbs. What the hell was wrong with people in the 50's, anyway?
SO, to be specific: we didn't have aback yard living in DC. But we did have two public parks within walking distance (more, really, but there were two that we used alot). One was about he same distance that the metro is now for us, and the other was about five or so blocks away. The parks were almost always full of kids - obviously there were ebbs and flows at naptime hours, but by and large, there were always a few kids at either of them, and often there were lots of kids.
Here in Rockville, there are - oh, I don't know, 10 parks within walking distance of our house, and there are no kids in any of them. Once I went to a park and there were three or four kids from a cooperative preschool playing there (it was the church parking lot, but they didn't mind my son's joining in) and once my spouse took the babe to a park and there was one child there, who was leaving as he arrived. And once we went to a neighborhood park and there were three kidsplaying there, desultorily. All significantly older. I'm guessing this is more of that overscheduing, playgroup sickness. move to the burbs, and you have to join a playgroup, because people no longer just take their kids to go play. Apprently, in the burbs, even the nannies don't do this.
Okay, well, that sucks, but whatver, we can walk half an hour to metro, then ride another half hour, then wlak to the parks at the other end, where boychik's little friends are. Butthen there's the grocery store dilemma. It isn't really just grocery stores. It's just that there isn't really anything around. A fifteen minute walk (not too bad) will bring me to the library and a grocery store. But to actually do anything else, it's really pretty necessary to get into your car and drive.
And the library! OK, this is too weird. In DC, all you ever hear about are how little money DC has, and how all its public facilities stink. but the Cleveland park library - run by the DC government- has a prettyt okay selection of books. It's kids section is actually decent. And it has several very pleasant librarians, who know my son by name, and like to hang out with him - more or less.
The Twinbrook library, has.. not much. It's a very nice building. Much newer and nicer than Cleveland Park's, but uh, there seems to be a lack of soemthing. Something one usually finds in libraries, something. . . it's on the tip of my tongue, uh, uh, uh.. books!
The kids section is sparse, the adults section is...streamlined. There are computers, but not all that many. The audio section... I don't even know how to say this. They have a box of CDs. They do seem to have some more stuff if you want to learn languages, that's good. But - I'm sorry, libraries are supposed to have books.
I'm feeling very whiny about all this, but it's just too much to have alibrary close by, relatively speaking, and have it be so... disappointing.

I know we're spending less money to get twice as much space here, but can someone please remind me why I agreed to this?
I just keep chanting to myself: One year lease, one year lease, one year lease, one year lease.

it's actually a very nice house, but... it's in the burbs.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The New IDF

My chaver sent me to this website, I share with you the newest inductees to Israel's military service:

The New IDF

A recent Israeli Supreme Court decision ruled that the deferment presently
available to the Charedi community is no longer valid. In response to this
decision, in an unprecedented show of solidarity, three hundred and fifty
thousand members of the Charedi community gathered in Jerusalem.

In what is now being called a minor slip up, one of the leaders of the rally
inadvertently read the part of the court ruling that repeated the Oath used
to induct soldiers into the army. The entire gathering, assuming it was part
of a new Sephardic tefilla, answered Amen and were duly sworn in as members
of the IDF.


In keeping with the harmonious nature of Israeli politics, the IDF agreed
that there will have to be a few accommodations made to incorporate this new
fighting force into the army. The following is a list of proposed changes.

Because some of the new soldiers are used to davening at a later minyan,
wake up time will need to be changed from 5:00 am until 9:00 am on Mondays
and Thursdays and 9:15 on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays when
there is no laining. Rosh Chodesh and Yom Tov reveille will be left to the
discretion of the division commanders.

Black velvet steel reinforced yarmulkas will be standard issue. (White
yarmulkas for Yerushalmis are available but without the tassle.) Chasidic
soldiers will be required to wear olive green bekashas for dress conditions
and camouflage bekashas under battle conditions. Kevlar tzizis are presently
under development and will be made available when the engineers have resolved
how many black stripes are required. Payos protectors are obtainable upon
request and all soldiers will be issued the new light weight Borcelino combat
helmet with flak protecting brim.

All new inductees will have the rank of captain. Rebbes with less than
10,000 chasidim will be Majors. Rebbes with more than 20,000 chasidim will
be one star generals. Rebbes with 30,000 chasidim will be two star generals.
Rebbes with 40,000 or more chasicism will be three star generals and get
their own mikvah (a specially adapted humvee with a shvitz and a mikvah).
Only live rebbes will be granted any rank.

Every soldier will be equipped with an M16 rifle with detachable compartments
for both Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam tefillin. The standard issue gun belt with
three hundred rounds of ammunition and two grenades can also double as a
gartel. No soldier will be allowed his own tank until he passes the test,
which consists of driving through Meah Shearim, stopping for a falafel,
parking near Kikar Shabbat, all without hitting a stroller or the #1 bus.
Nuclear weapons will be available on a first come first served basis.

Traning will begin every midmorning after the Daf Yomi shiur depending on how
hard the blatt is (members of the Chofetz Chaim division will still not be
required to learn more than two lines a day). Training will consist of the
proper use of military equipment and tactics and will be taught in a mixture
of Yiddish, Hebrew, and Aramaic (commonly referred to as Yeshivish). The
instructors will be highly qualified personnel from Hesder Yeshivos who will
attempt by Talmudic logic to teach the soldiers proper military procedures.
Because most of the inductees never had to take any tests, all exams will be
open book and the instructors will encourage the soldiers to discuss the
questions with their chavrusas and come up with a consensus opinion. After
minchah and an afternoon nap, soldiers will be required to perform twenty
minutes of strenuous exercise consisting of precision shukaling, bais medrash
pacing, and minyan hopping. No smoking will be allowed during exercise periods.

All provisions will be required to have at least six reliable hechsharim and
the star K. There will be separate kitchens for each different chasidish sect
and every chicken will be walked around the camp and then schechted
simultaneously by a minimim of three different schochtim. All the vegetables
will be checked for bugs by an electron microscope, the milk will be yoshon,
and the bread will be baked by a bas yisroel. Arbos and beer will be
available every Shabbos and the division with the poorest performance record
each week will be required to sponsor a cholent kiddush for the entire camp.
Because most of the provisions are acquired from Sheva Mile Makolet, no
chometz will be available from a week before Purim until after Pesach.

Leave Policy:
All non-married personnel will be entitled to the standard yeshiva leave
policy consisting of two days before the date to prepare, one day for the date,
and one day to recover and be debriefed by his parents. All other soldiers will
have regular leave every sixth Shabbos unless there is a tish that Friday night.
Solders will be entitled to switch their weekend passes upon proof of severe
hardship, or if their in-laws are visiting that Shabbos.

The barracks will be inspected every erev Shabbos and showers are required even
if it is not Rosh Chodesh. A very comprehensive inspection will take place on
the thirteenth of Nisan.

New recruits:
New recruits will be allowed to have their mothers assist in cleaning the
barracks and with the laundry, but soldiers will still be required to field
strip and maintain their own weapons.

Military police:
Once the troops have completed their training a special police force will be
established, preferable from the Gur division. It will be their job to protect
the Friday night cholent pot from marauding troops and to deal with rioting
left-wingers who are protesting the charedi takeover of the army and the closing
of theaters on Shabbos.

Tour of duty:
Soldiers will be expected to complete at least eight Mesechtas with Rashi and
Tosefos and to fire six rounds of ammunition without injuring themselves.
Officer training will require a working knowledge of Yoreh Daya, Choshen
Mishpat, and the F16 Split Wing attack fighter. After active duty soldiers
will have the option to report to the reserves for the two weeks prior to
Pesach for refresher courses. In a further concession to the charedi community,
Chief Justice Barak and the other justices have agreed to take up their Jewish
education where they left off and are now attending third grade at a Chinuch
Atzmoi school.

Moshiach will need an army. Come take your place among the few, the proud,
the all Charedi army!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Just go watch it

Okay, it's completely puerile. That didn't stop me from laughing out loud. Thankfully, I wasn't in a library at the time. Hilarious short movie

Sex matters

In this article from Neva Chonin in the San Francisco Chronicle the author says what many have said before, butstill doesn't seem to be getting the message to us. I think she says it quite nicely for herself, so I include the article below. The only comment: I keep reading in supposedly hip - even feminist- magazines all about sex positive movements - pro-prostitution, pro-stripping, etc. And every time, I can't help but think, "what is wrong with you people?"
It's not liberating or positive to take off your clothes for men. That isn't power - it's the lack of power. These are only positive choices in a society where other positive choices are lacking. If you want power, storm the Bastille: insist on equal pay for equal work, demand that womnen be hired for high level, high paying jobs, elect more women legislators, and make sure there are more women on high-court benches. And make sure that we have the power to control our own reproduction. Put abusers in jail. Make sure laws are enforced,and where lacking, pass them. That's power. Taking off your clothes isn't power, it's pathetic.

Oh, yeah, and Claire, what he did was assault. Press charges.

He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Dis)
- Neva Chonin
Sunday, August 20, 2006

A few weeks ago, the Los Angeles Times published a profile of "Girls Gone Wild" creator Joe Francis ("Baby, Give Me a Kiss") that dropped jaws from Poughkeepsie to Chino. Oh, the clatter. It started with a line that applied to a specific act of physical intimidation by Francis against Times writer Claire Hoffman, but I suspect it resonated for many women who long for an invisibility cloak or chador in an era of "show us your tits" sexploitation. Hoffman began her piece by saying, "Joe Francis, the founder of the 'Girls Gone Wild' empire, is humiliating me."

I felt her pain. Not the physical pain of being slammed against a car by a cable-TV honcho gone wild, but the mental ache of channel surfing into "Girls Gone Wild" and suddenly feeling embarrassed to be female. Heck, "Girls Gone Wild" makes me embarrassed to be human. The show is a carnival staffed with exploitation freaks, from the guys behind the cameras to the women struggling out of their tiny T's to the viewers who gobble it up with an order of stupid on the side.

It's not the program's sexuality that bothers me but the fact that, in a country rife with vestigial puritanism, it views sexuality through a leering lens. Continental Europeans see far more nudity on their televisions and in their daily lives than we do. They don't bat an eye because, you know, human bodies. We all have them. Ah, but America. Marked by repression on the one hand (magazines condemned for cover images of breast-feeding babies and nude expectant mothers) and masturbatory excess on the other ("Girls Gone Wild" and any men's magazine that isn't GQ or Esquire), we are forever looping between scolding and ogling. We are never at peace.

Contemplating the hoopla about showing breast feeding and pregnant mamas in magazines, I begin to suspect that a simple principle might be at play: A woman's body has no right being bared unless it is for the purpose of arousing a man. I'd bet lunch at Chez Panisse that many of the guys who like strip clubs and read Maxim would be appalled to see a woman nursing in a restaurant. I'd throw in dinner at the French Laundry if the doods who so enjoy watching girl-on-girl action in porn flicks didn't find real lesbians -- the ones whose sex lives aren't simply warm-up acts for straight men -- disgusting and, yeah, threatening.

In last week's column, I suggested that, in today's cult of the leer, "girls have actually grown tamer rather than wilder. Sure, they flash their breasts more readily, just like monkeys perform tricks for peanuts at the San Francisco Zoo. But neither act symbolizes freedom." To those who think it does, and that these budding sexbots are liberated while I'm oh-so-old-school, I can only offer this: America might be the land of liberty, but it's also the land where freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose. And when he's done molesting journalists, Joe Francis is laughing all the way to the bank, your dough in one hand and your freewheelin' girl's mammary in the other. Oh, America, my America. We truly enjoy an embarrassment of riches.

While Joe Francis was abusing Claire Hoffman in Los Angeles, Britain's Daily Mail was running an article by Nirpal Dhaliwal titled "How Feminism Destroyed Real Men." In it, he bemoans the "feminization of men" instigated by the women's movement. He laments that women are now "lumped with flabby he invertebrates, little more than doormats, whom they secretly despise." Deep down, he adds, women want "men who will look them in the eye and tell them to shut up when their hormonal bickering has become too much."

It gets better. Dhaliwal writes, "People might call me a sexist pig, but I am the opposite. I love women." Let us now hopscotch across the Atlantic to the L.A. Times, where Hoffman observes that the "Girls Gone Wild" creator destined to physically assault her "says he loves women, is crazy about them. But sometimes it doesn't sound as though he is."

A warning sound should be going off in the reader's head about now, and the reader should listen. Because at the close of his Daily Mail editorial, Dhaliwal starts preparing an assault of his own. "The female orgasm is the natural mechanism by which men assert dominion over women," he writes, before going on to relate, fairly graphically, how he asserted dominion over his wife after she discovered he was cheating. In sum, he "made strong, passionate love to her," giving "a manful bravura performance" that culminated with the demand, "Who's the boss?"

Dhaliwal's wife happens to be Daily Mail columnist Liz Jones. His essay is illustrated by a picture of the happy couple, looking happy. By the way? The same day her husband's essay ran, Jones offered her own little self-assessment in her regular column: "I am a middle-aged anorexic. I don't know which of those two epithets I found harder to say -- that I am middle-aged, or that I still suffer from an eating disorder. The two, for me, are inextricably linked. I have a fear of growing old, and a fear of growing fat."

Forgive me, America! Stupidity is indeed universal. OK, yes, I'll say it, baby, stop pulling my hair: You're the boss.

Tell Neva to shut up with her hormonal bickering at

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