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Archive for May, 2011

He’s A He

It is a good thing that our family is moving to France as I won’t have to do something unpleasant. I won’t have to tell the rabbi of our congregation that we are leaving the temple because of the rabbi.

Now, with less than two months to go until we board a plane for Paris, I can simply tell our rabbi that we are severing our ties with the temple because the commute will be a bitch.

Yes, it would be more satisfying to tell our rabbi that we are leaving the temple because of the new ways of thinking the rabbi has put in place since becoming our rabbi a year ago, but with my eldest son’s Bar Mitzvah coming up in less than a month, I find it more prudent not to rock the boat.

So what has my fringed tallit in a twist?

To start off with, our rabbi, during Shabbat services, has started to introduce mysticism (Kabbalah, numerology, and even astrology) into the sermons. Sorry, I was raised in a Conservative temple and shamanistic beliefs do not fly with my understanding of Judaism.

Secondly, during one of our family’s conversations with the rabbi for Christopher’s Bar Mitzvah, my son asked the rabbi if the Exodus actually happened. The rabbi said “No, it probably didn’t, but it makes for a good story”.

WHAT !?!

It’s one thing for my no-goodnik of an ex-college roommate to espouse such utter nonsense, but it is quite another when the head of a Jewish congregation expresses doubt about the veracity of one of the tenets of the whole Jewish faith – that of the freeing of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt by the Almighty.

The last straw came during another of our meetings with the rabbi about Chris’s Bar Mitzvah. Chris had written his speech and had used the male pronoun (He, Him) when refering to the Lord. The rabbi actually suggested that all the male references be replaced with more gender-neutral language.

He is a He. Our prayers speak of the Lord as Father and Sheild. He is a He.

So, I’m done with the rabbi. Consider me old-fashioned and hanging on to tradition, but as a wise man once sung, “Without tradition, we would be like a fiddler on the roof”

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This week, in anticipation of our family’s move to France, I attended a workshop put on by the non-profit agency that my wife is going to work for to help me (as the dutiful spouse) learn all about living in France.

After three days, my mind is numb, but all I can remember is this – in a tip of the arrow to that great comedian, Steve Martin

It’s like they speak a whole different language over there

[insert rimshot here]

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When, back in January, I first wrote about the followers of Harold Camping and the prediction that the end of the world was coming on May 21, I posed the following question…

Who will laugh harder? Those who don’t believe when the event doesn’t happen or those who do believe when it does happen?

While it is obvious now that the non-believers are having a good laugh, recent events show me that I neglected to include a third class of person who could be laughing.

I neglected to allow for the possibility that Harold Camping himself would be laughing at all of us come May 23.

In fact, he’s laughing all the way to the bank and he’s not giving any of it back.

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A new word for the English language as we enter the End of Days….

Dupesday n, the day predicted as the end of the world so that frightened people can send the predictor all their money; word usually used after predictor has predicted the end of the world multiple times and keeps coming up with excuses as to why the wold continues to be.

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Oh happy day!

The news came out today that Steve Martin will be bringing his banjo-playing goodness to the National Mall to perform at the annual A Capitol Fourth concert for Independence Day.

O happy day for those of who live in the Old Free Colony area!

Being able to watch Mr. Martin pluck his strings in person more than makes up for the blizzards and sweltering heat.

Play on, Mr. Martin, play on!

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Here’s an easy way to determine what type of person you are.

Read the snippet below from this article

A Leesburg, Virginia couple was charged April 29, after a Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office investigation revealed the two were conducting unlicensed dentistry from their home.

During the course of a separate investigation by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office Gang Intelligence Unit investigators learned of the operation that apparently catered to the Latino community. A search warrant conducted on April 29 at their home…revealed what appeared to be a full-service dental office and examination room in the basement of the home. The area included a receptionist desk, a waiting room, and a dental chair that was situated in a separate room.

If your reaction to reading this was:

a) “Good for the authorities. All law-breakers must be punished” – - you are a law-and-order type.

b) “How horrible that because it was a Latino couple, the authorities assumed they needed the Gang Intelligence Unit” – - you are a politically correct, diversity-loving person.

c) “I wonder what type of out-of-date magazine they had in their faux-waiting room?” – - you are a comedian.

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I have spoken before about The Gallant Gallstone Effect, which is when, suddenly, a theme (person, place, or thing) begins to appear in separate media outlets.

I am bringing back this concept to comment on the following string of events.

Two separate magazines that I subscribe to, Harper’s Magazine (June 2011) and WIRED (May 2011), both published articles on the same theme with the same two subjects.

The subject was the 25th anniversary of the nuclear reactor accident at Chernobyl. That in and of itself is no big coincidence as anniversary stories are a staple of journalism.

However, the stories in those articles highlighted the scientific work being done by Tim Mousseau, professor of biological sciences at the University of South Carolina, and Anders Moller, research director at the National Center for Scientific Research, Paris – Sud University.

These scientists, to simplify their research to an incredible degree, are of the mind that the exclusion zone around the reactor that has been contaminated with radiation is not a boon to the wildlife, which contradicts stories such as here and here and here.

There have been earlier stories that have said the same thing (here and here and here), but I found it intriguing that two publications would take the same tack.

Good on them for getting their word out.

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I have written before about May 21 and the coming of “Judgement Day” and the Rapture before (here and here), but any irony or satire that I could conjure up pales in comparison to the words of the man himself, Harold Camping, who started this latest iteration of “The End is Nigh!”.

Camping did this interview that was posted on CNN. Here are some highlights:

Based on your study of the Bible, you have determined that May 21, 2011 is Judgment Day–that God will completely destroy the Earth. What do you predict will happen as clocks turn to 6 pm?

We cannot say emphatically that it’s 6 pm. There’s a lot of information that looks at the probability of 6 pm in any city in the world–when that great earthquake will occur. It could be that it might be just one great earthquake, but there is enough evidence in the Bible that says it will begin at one point in the world, and it could be at 6 pm—that’s a great possibility. Then as it gets to be May 21 in any other country—there will be a great earthquake there.

So don’t make any dinner plans for Saturday.

His comment about how the disaster will start at one point and move across the world does the answer the question I posed in an earlier posting.

I’m curious. What information is Camping looking at that says that 6:00pm is the time of doom. Is this in the Book of Revelation somewhere? (And, lo, I dreamt I saw the little hand on the VI and the big hand on the XII)

How are you feeling right now?

Well, I am trembling. I have never been at this place before.

Actually, Camping has been at this place before when in 1994 when he predicted that the world would end. For those who missed it, he was wrong.

[After the Rapture],…the rest of the world’s population becomes unconscious?

All of the remains of carcasses—the bones–will be thrown out of the grave and the way the Bible describes it, be like dung or manure—because they will be shamed in the eyes of God as a final of consequence of the wrath of God.

Ewww….I’ve heard of spitting on a person’s grave, but I’ve never heard of a grave spitting someone out.

And finally….

You have no doubt that all of this will happen?

Right! I have no doubt at all, because I trust implicitly. I don’t trust me or any man, but I trust the Bible implicitly.

I wonder what part of the Bible Camping will rely on come May 22 when the world does not end and he has to provide excuses to all of the folk who fell for his blarney.

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Veridiction is my term for the practice of verifying predictions. I may be a bit early in calling this one, but here goes…

On the April 13, 2011, edition of the The Economist podcast (entitled “A New Contender in Finnish Politics”), Sixten Korkman of the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy made the following predicition concerning the recent elections in Finland:

I don’t believe the True Finns party will be part of the new government

Now I realize that it is not a done deal but I figure now is as good a time as any to say a hearty skoal to Mr. Korkman for his prediction because based on this news from the Associated Press, the True Finns will not be part of the six-party government being propsed.

Sorry, True Finn, but congrats to Sixten.

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A task I have done a million times got away from me (as happens on occassion) and as I was clearing the plates and bowls from a lovely dinner prepared by my even lovlier wife, I dropped a small bowl onto a larger bowl in the sink cracking the bigger bowl and this was the result…

Oops

I had a few options open to me as I mulled over the broken tableware.

I could curse like an episode of South Park and introduce my three children to words that were heavy on the “k” sound.

I could quietly clean up my mess and hope no one saw it.

…Or…

I could do what I did and since my middle child, Jared, was having some difficulty in school recently concerning fractions, I took the opportunity provided to me by the broken bowl and we discussed 1/4 and 3/4 (sort of like how the bowl was broken) and other fractions and ratios.

As the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

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