Saturday, January 26, 2008

Still striking, still need your support.

From BoingBoing: Striking writers for The Colbert Report and The Daily Show masterminded a brilliant comedy mock-hearing on the Hollywood writers' strike, including an arch (and brilliant) meta-moment where they disrupted their own hearing with nonsensical grandstanding from seeming participants.

Here's the link. By the way, that's my old friend Rob Kutner sitting on the far left of the leftmost table. Go Rob!

Also, an article in the LA times, worth a read, since apparently some of the funniest stuff didn't make the video....
ANd folks, don't forget, they're still striking. Lend your support!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

35 years...

Blog for Choice Day

Today is the 35th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.
These years have not been easy years, and certainly for many of them, we have had to spend our energy trying to fight those who would overturn it. But it is a struggle we must continue with. To go back to the days before Roe v. Wade would be a disaster: in the dark days in which abortions were outlawed in most states, women died, regularly, of botched abortions. I don't suppose it's news to anyone that that's the case, but just in case, let's review a current case: Nicaragua.
Since Nicaragua outlawed abortions once again in 2006, we know of - for certain- over 100 women who have died. Keep in mind those are the ones who were reported, who made news; we will probably never know how many women really.
Over at Human Rights Watch, check out their report, from which I quote:

A medical doctor at a large public hospital in Managua, however, testified to one case:

Here [at this hospital] we have had women who have died.… For example, [name withheld] came here and had an ultrasound. It was clear that she needed a therapeutic abortion. No one wanted to carry out the abortion because the fetus was still alive. The woman was here two days without treatment until she expulsed the fetus on her own. And by then she was already in septic shock and died five days later. That was in March 2007.

Monday, January 14, 2008

How to get people to consume less

Consumerist reports:
A Vermont judge sent his sheriff to the mall to round up a jury that could fairly try a child molester.

They stopped passers-by and asked if they were residents of Caledonia County; a "yes" answer won a summons to appear at the courthouse for jury duty immediately, right now, this minute. They rounded up 45 people that way in all, to join the 34 already at the courthouse...

Dredging malls for juries is a surprisingly common tactic for judges in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. Next time you see a sheriff in the mall, walk the other way unless you want an impromptu civics lesson.

Perhaps this will teach people not to hang out at the mall. Maybe they can go do something productive instead (of course, maybe all states should do this, then going to the mall could be a signal of civic responsibility for real, not in the Bushian anti-terrorist nonsensical sense).

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Remember Seinfeld?

OK, this isn't news. Not even close, being that Seinfeld is over and done and gone. And I have to admit: I've never watched an entire episode of Seinfeld.
Now, what kind of admission is that for someone writing for a hip cutting edge crew like this one (not that I ever claimed to be hip, mind you)? But why not? You may ask: why didn't you ever watch Seinfeld. Well, I suppose there are all kinds of reasons, but here's a couple: I've never aspired to live in New York City. Yes, yes, I know, please don't gasp so loudly, it knocks over the plant stand.
How could a Jew not want to live in New York? Heck, how could anyone not want to live in New York? I know that lots of cool stuff happens there, and I'm sorry to miss it, yes. And it's not that I don't like NYC: I'm happy to visit from time to time, buy a few sefarim, visit friends, get some good kosher food (although I'm just as happy to get my kosher on in LA or Jslm, if that's an option, in fact, preferred, really), see a show, but I do like you New York, really.
But Seinfeld, I just never really thought that it was all that. Maybe it's just me, alone. But I recently was zooming around looking at things and found this on, of all places, a sociology blog (see, I told you I wasn't hip), Danny Hoch talking about why he turned down a bit part of Seinfeld, and a little of the show as it actually happened.
so... reason number two: I just always felt that Seinfeld was somehow It seems to me that there's a large helping in Seinfeld of using humor not, as it ought to be, making fun of oneself, to mock power, and to make people's vision clearer about how the world really is, as opposed to how it believes it is, but more of a knowing wink wink, we're superior kind of feeling. And I don't love racism in my humor. Sarah Silverman, when she makes her jokes, gives a very different ta'am there: when she makes you laugh, (if you can laugh, or maybe gasp) you can't laugh without squirming, because inherent in her joke is that she's mocking the person who laughs, because they're laughing, but's not there. Jewish jokes, IMO aren't funny when they're racist, and they aren't funny when they're misogynist, and it's time certain folks stopped getting a free pass on "humor" because it was said with a New Yawk accent - to the best that I can tell, that's exactly what New York isn't about, so cut it out.

And just in case, I have to complete the admission: I don't like Woody Allen either. He's creepy, and he's married to his daughter. nyah.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Rebbe Smackdown

New York's supreme court ruled that two of the three main bodies of Chabad have the right to expel Congregation Lubavitch - the messianist faction- from the synagogue in the bottom of 770. Apparently this struggle has been going on for about 15 years (actually, this makes me feel much better - I hadn't known that there was much of anything going on opposed to the crazier factions of the movement, which, from all accounts now make up, at least half of Chabad) but the suit stems from when some member/s of the messianist group defaced a plaque that referred to the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson as "of blessed memory" because that's not what Congregation Lubavitch believed was the current state of said rebbe.

From JTA

New York State’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday in favor of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch and Agudas Chassidei Chabad, two of Chabad’s three main bodies, giving them the right to eject Congregation Lubavitch Inc. from the synagogue located in the basement of 770 and 784-788 Eastern Parkway, in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. The sites represent the worldwide headquarters of Chabad-Lubavitch.

In that first case, the court ruled in favor of Chabad’s leadership, declaring in June 2006 that Merkos and Agudas are the rightful owners of the entire property. The current suit was brought by Merkos and Agudas in order to give them the authority to physically remove the opposing congregation, and its four gabbais, or trustees, from the premises.

but wait, there's more:
Apparently this is their fifteen minutes. Or something.

In Israel, apparently it's just gotten out that there may be problems with the beliefs of some Lubavitchers regarding their former (or not) rebbe. The Jerusalem Post reports that a former FSU immigrant who was not Jewish , but was eligible under the law of return, had become interested in converting and studied in a meshichist Jerusalem ChABAD yeshiva.

About two weeks ago, he appeared before a beit din (rabbinic court) for his conversion. He had nearly finished, when one of the rabbis asked him if he believed that the rebbe was the messiah. He answered yes, that that was what he had been taught, and the court refused to convert him.
The JPost says, "

... a source in the State Conversion Authority said that at least two leading religious Zionist rabbis ruled that messianic Chabad was beyond the pale of normative Jewish belief.

"They [messianic Chabad Hassidim] attribute to him supernatural powers years after he passed away. That is not Judaism. It's something else."

Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar will be asked to decide this weighty theological question and in the process pass judgment on thousands of members of the messianic stream within Chabad Hassidism who believe that Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who passed away in 1994, is the messiah.

This according to the article; I have heard an (unsubstantiated as of yet) rumour that, in fact, Rabbi Amar has ruled against the conversion applicant, and thus, essentially declared meshichist Lubavitch treif. I am curious as to what effect will this have on ChABAD: Is this a recognition that some beliefs are outside the pale, even if the holder of said beliefs has the outer appearance of Orthodox praxis? What effect will this have on the yeshivot that are still er, offering this perspective, either in Israel or the USA?

By the way, speaking of treif, Rubashkin (who is owned by the ChABAD Lubavitch Rubashkin family just to be on topic), has apparently had its teudat kashrut yanked by KAJ (HT to Failedmessiah)

One last note:
First, England's Jewish Chronicle notes that England's Lubavitch movement is in some serious economic trouble: apparently because of pouring an enormous amount of money into a new club for young Jews that they opened this year. Apparently nearly all the donations they received this year went into said club, "including 'almost all' of this year’s £750,000 yield," leaving them £1.5 million (that's 2,959,951 dollars American) in debt - and of course, they've had to close the club, in addition to leaving their teachers unpaid since April (although donors have now stepped in to pay the teachers' wages).

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

To Start the Year off with

...if I said "bang," I wonder what the comments section would say. Let's just say, a great and startling pronouncement from Olmert: Reuters reports that on Tuesday Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, "The world that is friendly to Israel ... that really supports Israel, when it speaks of the future, it speaks of Israel in terms of the '67 borders. It speaks of the division of Jerusalem," in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. Thus, he's pretty much clear that a divided Jerusalem may be inevitable.

This is the second unusual source for such pronouncements in the last few months. Jewschool reported in November that Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky of B’nai David Judea in Los Angeles, an Orthodox rabbi in an Orthodox shul, also mentioned that he thought it would be impossible to pursue peace with Jerusalem off the table (a much lighter statement, but he still got creamed for it). Does this mean that it's possible that people are beginning to think more realistically about Israel's future?

Reuters continues:
Olmert's comments appeared to be another move by the prime minister to prepare Israeli public opinion for the possibility of a deal that would loosen Israel's control of all of Jerusalem.

His deputy and close confidant, Haim Ramon, has said Israel should in future negotiate creation of a "special regime" that would govern some of the sacred sites in Jerusalem's walled Old City.

Well, 2008 may be a very interesting year. May we see peace in it.

XP Jewschool