Friday, December 30, 2005

Shabbat Miketz and Chag Samach Day5/6 5766


See you on the other side of the weekend.
Peace. Shalom. Shabbat, rest, relaxation, enjoy.

How Does This Sit With You?

I have made several statements involving the legality of the wire tapping in the last week. Now we have information that the NSA is using 'illegal' cookies to monitor the web usage of individual.


Hope there is a good explination for this one.

CNN Article

What If It Was The Israeli's?

I find the attached CNN article to be very strange. Not in what happened, I mean the Palestinians seem to be protesting everything lately. Because of the protest the Palestinians closed the Rafiah Crossing with Egypt. Here is what I think is very strange, the articles tone seems almost understanding, and we all know that if this closing had been done by Israelis in control of the border crossing everyone would have been up in arms about how horrible it was.

I also find it strange that a 'toss-away' fact in the article is that a 14-yr-old Palestinian boy was killed by Palestinian gunmen who were attacking a Palestinian Police Station in order to free family members who had been arrested. (Again, if the situation were involving Israelis, we all know the response of the press and international community would be very different.

I Am Not Sure I Get Kids

Okay, it isn't just kids, but both of the stories have kids involved.

First was yesterday. The story about the 2 year old that was taken to the hospital drunk. It seems that the parents of this child, and one other, left him in the charge of someone while they went to the hospital for the birth of another child. The very responsible person who was left in charge of the child got drunk and passed out. I am not clear, as I don't have the story in front of me, how exactly the police got involved but it seems when they arrived the 2 year old had had so much alcohol to drink he was unable to stand up straight or wake straight and was showing other signs of being drunk.

The other story, which is here linked, deals with 3 10-year-olds who decided to go and play football at their middle school. They crawled under a fence, and somewhere along the way found that one of the school doors was unlocked. (First question, why was a school door unlocked.) They then went into the school. They, at first, tried to hide their identities from the cameras, but quickly (15 minutes) gave up on that. They spent 5 hours roaming the halls and doing damage to the school. (i.e. They did $4,000 damage to the gymnasium floor. The floor had recently been redone.)

Now here is the part I am not sure of why it happened, but have a feeling that a double dog dare was involved somewhere. Two of the boys were seen on tape running down one of the halls completely naked. I don't think at that age I would have ever considered that.

I just don't get how kids today get involved in running naked in a school. (Other in the common nightmare.)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

An Educational Experience

I decided to do something I had never before tried today. I work in an enviroment that is, predominately, Christian. (I do have 3 Jewish co-workers.)

I brought a box of a dozen jelly donuts to work today and put it in the 'kitchen' area of the offices. I also put a little note with the donuts as to why I had brought them in today. (I do love a religion that makes food in to religious symbols, the only problem is that my body is beginning to show signs of that.) I have gotten a number of verbal comments from people who were very interested in the 'sufganiyot story' and how it relates to Hanukah. I also had a written note on my computer generated note thanking me for both the donuts and the information.

I have enjoyed the experience of doing something a little different to educate my co-workers on something they probably have never thought about before. You never know when or where that will come in handy down the road.

Al Qaeda claims missile attack on Israel

I think that the title says it all. This is the claim is being made by Al Qa'eda In Iraq. This hasn't been verified by anyone, but the statement is on the website that Al Qa'eda In Iraq generally makes it's claims on.

Basically what this comes down to is, the US has been providing the field training for Al Qa'eda terrorists who are now starting to use those skills for rocket attacks on Israel out of Southern Lebanon.

The following quotes are from the article on Ynet:The lion sons of al Qaeda launched ... A new attack on the Jewish state by launching 10 missiles ... From the Muslims' lands in Lebanon on selected targets in the north of the Jewish state,"This auspicious attack was a response by the mujahideen (holy fighters) to the oath by the mujahid sheikh Osama bin Laden, leader of al Qaeda ... Which the (Jews) and idolaters’ servants in Muslim countries failed to grasp. The future shall be more bitter and more harsh

If this is true, and not just some type of bravado, it could spell the beginning in the next phase in the Muslim extremist attacks on Israel.

Chag Sama'ach Hanukah (Day 4)

Sorry we havent posted previously we will attempt to keep this up through the end of the festival.

Everything's Relative - Spread the Cheer?

From The List Of Things I Just Don't Understand

This picture of a stunning looking calico cat, is not the thing I don't understand. It was what was done to that beautiful little cat that lead to this picture.

The cat, now named Lucky, was placed in a cage which had a rock tied to it. The cage and rock were thrown off a bridge in Montana, in an apparent attempt to drown the cat. The attempt failed when the rock bounced on ice and came to rest in a slushy puddle in the river. The puddle was not deep enough for the cat to be injured in. Some people saw the cat in this situation and called the local fire department who came out and rescued Lucky. The man holding the cat is one of the firemen who rescued Lucky, and since adopted her as a pet for his 12 year old daughter.

I just don't understand how someone can do such a thing to a beautiful animal like that. If hell doth truly exist, there must be a special ring for those who abuse and harm helpless animals. Thankfully, Lucky was not particularly harmed by this crime against her, and is said to be a sweet and loving animal.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A Question of Importance

While I posted a short time earlier about the 'truly important story' of Michael "Time to make the donuts" Vale passing away, I have to question the true importance of this story. CNN today had that story and a story about Tori Spelling becoming engaged in it's breaking news section.

Does anyone think that either of these stories are truly breaking news that needs that level of importance?

This Is An Irony

While reading news earlier today on, this story about Michael Vale having died. Why was is this ironic, well he was bet known, as the above picture shows, as the "Time to make the Donuts" ad man for Duncan Donuts. I would add that Mr. Vale died on Satuday December 24, 2005 at the before the start of Hanukah. Mr. Vale was 83 years old and died from complications from Diabetes.

Why Do They All Wear Masks?

Why do all the Muslims with guns in public, out side of the various state's military, go into public with masks on? If they had the true conviction in what they were doing, and truly believed in the concept of being a martyr for the cause they would go out of the way to let the world know exactly who they were.

Today a group of 60 Palestinian gunmen took over Gaza office to protest the fact that they were not included in the Palestinian Parlimentary elections lists for the Fatah party.

You must enjoy the wonder of democracy spreading around the world.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Shabbot Vayeshev 5766

I had intended other posts today, but time is running short.

Hope you have a Great Shabbot. Hope you a Restorative and Restive Shabbot.

If I am not around on the weekend, Have a happy 1st candle of Hanukah.


FISA And Wire Tapping

"[The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] says it's the exclusive law to authorize wiretaps," Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin said. "This administration is playing fast and loose with the law in national security. The issue here is whether the president of the United States is putting himself above the law, and I believe he has done so."

Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, said the president could have gone back to a FISA court after the wiretaps if he was concerned about speed.

"I'm just stunned by the president's rationales with respect to the illegal wiretapping," Reed said. "There are two points that have to be emphasized with respect to the FISA procedure: They're secret, and they're retroactive. "

"There is no situation where time is of such an essence they can't use the FISA proceedings. And so the president's justification, I think, is without merit."

This is the Democratic line on the wire tappings that are be perpetrated by the Bush Administration.

"FISA could not have provided the speed and agility required for the early warning detection system," the Justice Department letter argued.

"Nevertheless I want to stress that the United States makes full use of FISA to address the terrorist threat, and FISA has proven to be a very important tool, especially in longer-term investigations," it said.

There is undeniably an important and legitimate privacy interest at stake," the letter said. "That must be balanced, however, against the government's compelling interest in the security of the nation."

This information came from the letter sent by the Justice Department to Congressional Intellegence leadership. (Assuming that is not a complete oxymoron.)

Of the two arguments I definitely find the former the more compelling. If the CNN article is correct in it's quotes from the letter. Now the letter is a 5-page letter and I haven't seen the entire letter as yet, so I am rather hog-tied by that fact, but I find the basic argument to be the one I have been putting forward over in the discussion we have been having at DovBear.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Where Is Heshy And His House When We Need Him?

I find that I am missing the recently departed Heshy's House blog. Not only was Heshy's post odd and entertaining, I really miss reading them. (Who could forget the reason our nose is above our mouth.)

One of the things that his 'mission statement' said was that he was opposed to alien life, or life anywhere else in the universe. That having been said, I have to wonder what his reaction to this little gem would have been.

Life's ingredients circle Sun-like star is an interesting little article that discusses a newly forming star (designated IRS 46) that has several of 'life's building blocks' in the gaseous cloud, and that those chemicals 'appear' to be in the same part of the developing solar system as our dear Earth is in our solar system. I found it to be a facinating article. Hopefully we won't be missing Heshy for ever, I really hope he comes back.

Sometimes That Corny Joke Just Writes Itself

On CNN's Science page they are reporting that the Hubble Telescope has discovered additional rings and moon around Uranus. The jokes that could be made here are very hard to resist, but I will let you add them for yourself.

The discoveries include 3 new moons and a new set of rings that are all inside of the previously established rings and moons. The 3 moons are very small with the largest being 16 miles across. The scientist quoted in the CNN article speculates that due to the unstable system that the moons and rings create, the moons will colide and destroy themselves at somepoint.

What's In A Name?

I have been trying to think of the correct name for the picture.
Santa Benedict the Impaler
Santa Benedict the Bloody
Vladamir Claus

Whant do you think?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Thoughts, They Are Cheaper In Bunches

1. I found this odd little story on the internet today about David Letterman having a restraining order put on him by a woman in Santa Fe. She claims that Mr. Letterman has been communicating with her for years in code and with secret hand gestures and facial expressions.
Two things came to mind. 1. The woman is obviously mentally ill, my guess is probably schitzophrenic (not sure of the spelling there). 2. I am not sure that the judge involved isn't also mentally ill. It is possible that he was issuing the ruling hoping to calm the woman down and really didn't think much of it. Another possibility is that he is just as mentally ill as the woman is.

2. I have been watching the episodes of Wanted on TNT since I mentioned it 3 weeks ago. The final episode of the first season (as there were additional episode that aired in the late summer) will be next monday, I have enjoyed the new episodes but I really wish they would have done more episodes. Hopefully there will be more episodes next summer.

3. The Closer (another summer series that aired on TNT) will be returning on Tuesday the December 27. I have been looking forward to new episodes of this series as well. It is very interesting as it deals with a master police interviewer who 'breaks' her suspects. It is almost a updated version of Columbo in many ways. The central character is played by Kyra Sedgewick.

4. The only summer series that hasn't had new episodes yet is USA networks 4400.

5. I was watching old episodes of Law & Order last night, and cutting back to catch parts of the Cavaliers game as well, and TNT ran the series premiere (?) episode of Law & Order: Trial by Jury from last year. I had enjoyed the series but had forgotten how good it was until last night.

6. I am looking forward to seeing the following movies (hopefully in the next two weeks or so):
In no specific order: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Rent, The Producers, and King Kong. There are also three that interest me that I am probably going to see on DVD when they are released: Syriana, Aeon Flux, and Pride & Prejudice.

7. In my post Wire Tapping Defense I discussed the brewing scandal. CWY responded with the following:
"My guess is, since the Administration is trying to avoid going to court and they tried to talk the NY Times out of running the story, they know the activitiy is illegal.
Or maybe their trying to limit the damage to their inteligence operations. Trying to hush up someone doesn't mean the activity is illegal.

I had responed in the comments, but wished to do so here:
My thinking on this is that since the administration has the ability to place a wire tap and then go to the court with in 72 hours to get the proper court order ( and from a court that has only turned down 5 wire taps in 5 years) that there is something else going on. I would agree with CWY except for one that one problem. Also, if what they are doing isn't questionable, why were so many members of the Senate and House, who are supposed to be advised as to what is going on, so surprised by this. It would not be hurting there intellegence operations to inform Congress. Unless you are saying there is a good chance that a number of members of Congress may be part of the Al Qa'eda. I also feel the same way about going to the court. Is it the administrations contention that Federal Judges are possibly part of Al Qa'eda. Since these both seem like they would be absurd conclusions I have to say that damage to intellegence operations are not the reason.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Creation, Intellegent Design, Evolution & The Constitution

First off let's eliminate on issue right off - Creation and Intellegent Design are the same thing.

Good, that was easy. I will discuss the three issues now. Evolution has a certain amount, substancial, proof that supports it. Does the Theory of Evolution as it exists right now explain the whole of the Evolutionary process, NO. But it is flexible enough to be able to be adapted as new information is revealed.

Creationism is a different approach, generally that a Supreme Being (SB) created the world in some form close to what it is today.

For what ever reason many people see these as being mutually exclusive. I do not, but I also don't support the teaching of 'intelligent design' or 'creationist' ideas in school. If I want my children to be educated in the basis of the religious doctrine I will send them to a parocial school that will teach them what we believe in.

My personal opinion is that what is commonly called evolution is actually the process of creation. I really have never been comfortable with the concept of creation being a minutia creation. I really think that evolution, and therefore creation, is an ongoing process. An example of this is from a familial explination. The most likely next step in human development is the elimination of the third molar's we have. (Commonly called wisdom teeth.) My mother never developed her third molar set, and it is becoming more common that people are not developing the third molars. My father, to the best of my knowledge, developed a full set of 3rd molars. I developed only two 3rd molars. This would tend to lead to the idea that our jaws are becoming less pronounced, and that our heads are continuing to change.

Do I believe that the SB is 'meddling' in our genetic structure, I really don't have the answer. I do know that we continue to evolve.

The Constitutional issue involved in this discussion is the commonly called "Separation of Church and State." First off this is not really what the constitution is taking about, it only prevents the establishment of a state religion. (Commonly called the establishment clause.) This is not the same thing as a total separation of church and state. Having said that, I do believe that the two are, or at least should be, mutually exclusive. A likely reason that the Constitution doesn't say Separation of Church and State is that it was probably thought likely that a religious person would be using there religious philosophy as a basis of the decision making basis automatically, but not to a point of it being unconstitition.

The Dover Area School District, where the most recently tried case on 'intellegent design' was concluded with the judges decision. The Judge has decided that the forced teaching of intellegent design was unConstitutional.

I guess the Ayotollah Patrick ibn Roberts (hence forth Ayotollah Pat) will be threating a judge who was appointed by President Bush with some act of G-D, just as he did the people of Dover after they replaced 8/9ths of the on election day.

Wire Tapping Defense

The fine American who is currently serving as our President has defended the 'illegal' wire tapping that he has authorized.

Why am I putting the world illegal in quotations? Easy answer, since he refuses to discuss anything to do with the program it is hard to say that they are doing illegal. My guess is, since the Administration is trying to avoid going to court and they tried to talk the NY Times out of running the story, they know the activitiy is illegal.

Georgie said "I swore to uphold the laws. Do I have the legal authority to do this? And the answer is, absolutely." He is saying I swore to uphold the law, apparently violating the Constitutional prohibition against illegal search and seizure is now a way to uphold the law. Isn't this a little like saying I will protect your life by killing you?

In the same speech the president said "senators who are filibustering the Patriot Act must stop their delaying tactics, and the Senate must vote to reauthorize the Patriot Act." and "In the war on terror, we cannot afford to be without this law for a single moment." With everything else the President is arguing, and since he feels he has the legal authority to do what ever he needs to, why does he need the law to be passed by Congress, he should just continue to go forward with all activities as he currently involved in and let the 'chips' fall where they may. He was given the option of having the Patriot Act, in it's current form, for an additional 3 months but this wasn't good enough, he wanted it his way.

I am getting very tired of the this administration and it's ridiculous that they are as corrupt as they are and they continue to defend themselves.

The final thing I want to add here is that while listen to the radio I heard that Secretary Rice made a comment to a Congressional Committee that it was with in the President's power to invade Syria if he so deemed it necessary to fight the 'War on Terror(tm)', and that he wouldn't need to get the consent of Congress to do so. I have to say that I am sort of split on this statement, Constitutionally the President is the head of the military and has the right to dictate where's and whens, with in the powers granted him, that the military is employed. But with the ridiculousness of this Administration, I almost feel that power should be stripped from him. (Bush not the presidency.)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Shabbat Shalom Vayishlach 5766

Patriot Act Provisions In Trouble

If the Patriot Act provisions expire, Republicans say they will place the blame on Democrats in next year's midterm elections. "In the war on terror, we cannot afford to be without these vital tools for a single moment," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said. "The time for Democrats to stop standing in the way has come."

I find this to be a very lame threat. If the White House and any Republican running for re-election or against a Democrat who is running for re-election who even mentions this should be asked why the NSA was, at President Paranoid's 'secret' direction, was spying on US citizens and how they feel that renewing the Patiot Act in it's present form would prevent that in the future.

To Best statements on the Patriot Act issue:
"I don't want to hear again from the attorney general or anyone on this floor that this government has shown it can be trusted to use the power we give it with restraint and care," said Feingold, the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act in 2001."

"It is time to have some checks and balances in this country," shouted Sen. Patrick Leahy, ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. "We are more American for doing that."

In addition to the Democrats that supported the filibuster to prevent this silliness from being past without further consideration was the following 5 Republicans: Chuck Hagel, Lisa Murkowski, John Sununu, Bill Frist, and Larry Craig. Two things should be noted here 1. Bill Frist changed his vote at the last minute in order to be able to bring this bill back up for a vote when ever he feels like it, and 2. Tim Johnson and Ben Nelson, two Democrats, did vote in favor of breaking the filibuster and sending this bill through. The vote was 57-42.

In addition to this is the story that broke today that we refered to earlier in the post about the NSA investigating (covertly) US citizens. This type of thing always makes me more paranoid. It seems to me that violating the Constitution and Federal Law is quickly becoming the hallmark of this Administration.

Some of the reactions to this breaking story that I think are vary telling:

Neither Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice nor White House press secretary Scott McClellan, asked about the story earlier Friday, would confirm or deny that the super-secret NSA had spied on as many as 500 people at any given time since 2002.
Why would either of them basically refuse to comment on this story, could it be that they are getting sick of being caught lying to cover up for the Administration.

"This is Big Brother run amok," declared Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. "We cannot protect our borders if we cannot protect our ideals." Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wisconsin, called it a "shocking revelation" that he said "ought to send a chill down the spine of every senator and every American."
Um, . . . do you think it might be Big Brother run amok, do you think it should send a chill down the spine of everyone in this country.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania a., said he would make oversight hearings by his panel next year "a very, very high priority."

"There is no doubt that this is inappropriate," said Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican and chairman of the Judiciary Committee. I find Arlen's response to this very telling, and though I haven't copied it Senator McCain's response as well. You want proof of problems with the Administration, the Republican's in Congress (Senate more so than house) are beginning to rebel against the insanity.

Some final thoughts on this situation:

1. Why is this administration so paranoid and secretive? I think part of it may be that several of the high ranking people in the administration were members of the Nixon administration.

2. Why does this administration assume that the citizen's of this country are complete moron's and will believe what ever it is that they do and say? I think there are two answers here: a. they have the whole G-D Complex thing going on, and second they have twisted so much information that I think they don't even know when they are telling the truth any more.

3. It seems that the White House has a major problem internally. Someone is leaking information that is both embaressing and damaging to the administration. I am wondering both who and why? What does the person who is leaking all of these recent stories have to gain by leaking stories about the administration that they are part of, and what will happen if we ever find out who it is?

4. How is it that a group of people as corrupt as the administration and Republican congressional leadership is appearing to be, can continue to convince the smoes in this country that they are 'just ordinary folks?' (I will admit that I am a smoes as of November 2004.)

5. Why is the President so anxiety riden about signing a 3 month extension that he wouldn't sign it in favor of potentially bad legislation?

A Year End Review

JibJab has released a new video that is a review of the last year. Very well done as usual.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

For You A Little Humor

I enjoy this comic, hope you do to. (copied from Jewish World Review)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Will They Change Their Name?

While looking for a news story that I heard a short bit ago on the radio, I came across this story about a 3 day test of the Air Marshals patroling train and bus stations to increase security in those locations.

CNN Story

Several things in this article jumped out at me and I felt a need, nearly overwhealming, to discuss it.

The 'ground' teams will be called "Visible Intermodal Protection and Response" teams -- or VIPER teams. The teams will consist of two air marshals, one TSA bomb-sniffing canine team, one or two transportation security inspectors and a local law enforcement officer.
I always find the governmental need to come up with neat acronyms for everything to be rather silly. My real interest here is, how much do you suppose the Department of Homeland Security spent of our hard earned money to come up with the designation.

The VIPER teams will patrol Amtrak's Northeast Corridor and Los Angeles rail lines; bus stations in Houston; and mass transit systems in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Washington and Baltimore. This is important because everyone knows that no one else is likely to be attacked. (Say Chicago, Dallas, Miami. Not to mention my own Cleveland.)

The TSA is trying to expand the role of air marshals, who have been eager to conduct surveillance activities beyond the aircraft, and tighten security at public transit stations over the holiday. The Air Marshals are eager to do this surveillance, that seems moderately distrubing to me, but is probably just my paranoia unfurling. (The 'War On Christmas (tm) has been stiring it up just a little to begin with.)

Air marshals stepped outside of their usual role of flying undercover on airliners after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. They were sent to keep order at Louis Armstrong International Airport, where thousands of evacuees converged after the levees were breached. This basically tells me this was something that was in the works before Katrina hit but they found a great excuse for the emergency services that the Air Marshals provided at that time to 'cover' this fact. (Okay enough paranoia for one day.)

Something on my mind.

Over the weekend Richard Pryor passed away. While I was not a huge fan of Mr. Pryor, I did admire the talent the man obviously had. I did enjoy the movies he was in that I have seen. (Though I didn't realize how many movies the man had acted in, in his career.)

Also over the weekend Gene McCarthy passed away. As with many polititians he has had influence on the US, but I find few memories of the man that I can identify as I write this.

A little personal background on the subject at hand. As I have stated before, my father died when I was 7, not exactly the time of life we should be worrying about these kinds of things. To add to this my Grandfather died just 3 days before my 11th birthday, again not exactly the kind of thing that makes for a happy year. My stepfather died when I was 17, and a stepsister when I was 23. And my Grandmother when I was 28. (This doesn't include various other relatives that have also passed away.) Not exactly the happiest of subjects, or lives.

Why all of this discussion of death? (No I am not terminally ill for anyone who might possibly be worried about it.) 2 other things have occured in the last week that have effected my thoughts in this area. One is the situation with Shifra's brother, and his surgery/near death situation. Having a sibling that is serious ill is very difficult and I have been thinking and praying for Shifra, her brother, and their entire family. I have been reading the daily updates that Orthomom has been posting on Shifra's blog, with both great interest and a high amount of worry.

Now the situation that actually prompted this morbid trip through my mind. (And this will require just a quick bit of background.) I recently attended a Comic Book/Sci Fi convention in Columbus Ohio. (Mid-Ohio Con) One of the things that the convention also does it brings in a number of models and also former Playboy bunnies. My sister-in-law's husband and I usually go to this convention, and this year they had a discussion panel with the models on the business and how they got involved. One of the young ladies that they had brought in was a very attractive young lady who described herself as an 'internet model.' I did check out her website on several occasions just to try and get a idea of what the young lady was like. She was from a community about 45 minutes from where I live. (Actually she lived not very far from my sister-in-law.) While checking several things on-line last night, I decided to check they young lady's website just before I got off line. I was stunned to see that she was killed over the weekend in an auto accident. (I don't know that much beyond that about the circumstances.)

So why did this young lady, who I have never spoken with, cause me to write such a rambling depressing post? I am really not sure. I really don't believe that she was the only spark for this. After all I have posted about stars who have died, and would likely have reported about Mr. Pryor and Mr. McCarthy before much longer. I am not always 'distressed' by the death of a 23 year old woman, no matter who they are. And I really didn't know this woman. Having just seen the young woman a couple of weeks ago with here big glowing smile, bright and happy and most definitely alive has got me thinking about a lot of things. (This all has the effect of being reinforced by the fact that when ever I see one of my medical specialists and he makes a change in my meds my wife always makes a statement about being worried that I will die young.)
Her website, linked below, has some information about this young woman. I can only hope that her family and friends will be comforted by the knowledge that many people who didn't actually know her are saddened by her shocking death.
Jasmine Grey

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Death Penalty

The situation with 'Tookie' Williams in California has me thinking about the death penalty in a general way. I don't really know enough about Mr. Williams situation and the circumstances of the crime to really feel like I can address those specific circumstances.

The following is just an off-the-cuff discussion of things on my mind about it.

1. I am not sure that the death penalty as applied in the US doesn't seem to be, on the surface, fairly applied.
2. I am not against the state sactioned 'revenge' against a person who can be 'firmly' established as having commited the most extreme crimes. ( I am not sure how to establish something firmly or what the standard would/should be.)
3. I am not sure that not executing a criminal who, using what little I know about Mr. Williams case, has done good works after he has spent time in jail is necessarily a 'mitigating' circumstance in the decision to grant clemency.
4. I do believe that there are people who should be put to death. (Gacy, Bundy come to mind.) I have some question about a person who is not a mass murderer.
5. While not strictly related the death penalty I am not sure how one can rehabilitate people who have pathelogical psychosis? (The prime example is the sex offenders and more specifically those whose sexual offenses involve children.)
6. I would like to think that society, over time, mitigates the type of problems that produce those with the psychosis that can drive them to commit the types of crimes that I am discussing. Dispite my hope, I have no illusions that the hope is the case. I actually think that large social systems tend to make those with various psychoses much more likely to be able to function, and function with out detection for a period of time.
7. I do not believe the death penatly serves as a deterent to others from committing a crime.
8. I believe that many murders are commit with no planning at the time they are committed.
9. I have a problem with people with a mental illness or mental defect, if they are legitimate, being put to death. (I really dislike the idea of the execution of, for instance, the mentally retarded.)
10. I have a problem, and again this is not really directly related to the death penalty, with the current of people being found 'Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity.' I would much rather see all states adopt the Guilty, but insane option. They would first go to a psychiatric facility, then (if deamed 'cured') they would finish a normal sentence out at a prison facility. (This would accomplish 2 things, 1 it would get them off the streets and into a proper medical care, and 2, it would still punish them for the period they have 'recovered.)

I am really out of things to right. Please let me know what you thing, anyone who makes comments helps me figure things out.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Attack on Christmas (Hypocracy Edition)

In the last week or two the resurgency of the discussion of the 'secular attack on Christmas' has begun.

Our friend DovBear has discussed it several times, and I addressed as on of the discussion topics in Some Random Thoughts. While doing my reading of various sites today I came across a link for this the following story Commercialize Christmas, or else that was printed in the International Hearld Tribune.

The article discusses the 'history' of Christmas in the US. There are two things I really liked about the article that really are not on the topic of the history of Christmas are 1. that it is written by Adam Cohen (if that isn't likely to cause some problem) and 2. the article also ends the discussion by pointing out that Fox News (the Defense against the attacks on Christmas Central) had been promoting holiday items to be put under holiday trees or, in the case of the inane and ignorant Bill O'Reilly, they also advertised the O'Reilly Factor Holiday Tree Ornament. In addition, the 'Christmas Cards' sent out by the NeoCon Emperor of America's Emperor Jr. wished it's recipients a Happy Holiday's.

Getting back to the whole idea of History of Christmas in America. I think that the idea that the Puritans (arguably some of the first Americans) were very opposed to Christmas because there was no mention of December 25 in the bible. And, while I haven't independently confirmed this, I have heard repeatedly that Congress was in session on December 25 the first year it existed after the founding of this country. The article had several other references.

Some Humor For Your Daily Laugh

The Following arrived in several emails I received either yesterday or today.

Messages posted in Synagogues
Under the same management for over 5,765 years.

It was mealtime during a flight on El-Al.
'Would you like dinner?,' the flight attendant asked Moshe, seated in front.
'What are my choices?,' Moshe asked.
'Yes or no,' she replied.

Sign over the urinal in a bathroom at Hebrew University :
'The future of the Jewish people is in your hands.'

A rabbi was opening his mail one morning.
Taking a single sheet of paper from an envelope he found written on it only one word: 'shmuck.' At the next Friday night service, the Rabbi announced, ' I have known many people who have written letters and forgot to sign their names, but this week I received a letter from someone who signed his name.... and forgot to write a letter.

A waiter comes over to a table full of Jewish wo! men and asks, 'Is anything all right?'


'This you call a smile, after all the money your father and I spent on braces?'

'I don't care what you've discovered, you still should have written.

'Why can't you paint on walls like other children? Do you know how hard it is to get that schmutz off of the ceiling?

'All right, if your're not hiding your report card inside your jacket, take your hand out of there and show me!'

'Again with the hat! Why can't you wear a baseball cap like the other kids?'

GEORGE WASHINGTON'S JEWISH MOTHER: ' Next time I catch you throwing money across the Potomac, you can kiss your allowance good-bye!'

'Of course I'm proud that you invented the electric light bulb. Now turn it off and go to sleep!'

'I don't care where you think you have to go, young man, midnight is long past your bed-time!'

'But it's your senior photograph! Couldn't you have done something with your hair?

'That's a good story! Now tell me where you've really been for the last forty years!'

'At least Monica was a nice Jewish girl!'

Do you have any to add to the Jewish Mother statements?

A different View of A Christmas Tale

What would have happened if three wise Jewish women had
gone to Bethlehem instead of three wise men? They would
- asked directions.
- arrived on time.
- helped deliver the baby.
- hired someone to clean the stable.
- made a brisket.
- and brought practical gifts.

And what would they have said to each other after they left?

"Did you see the sandals Mary was wearing with that shmatta?"
"That baby doesn't look anything like Joseph!"
"Can you believe they let all of those disgusting animals in there?"
"I heard that Joseph doesn't have a job."
"And that donkey they are riding has seen better days!"
"We'll just see how long it will take to get your brisket dish back."

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Does Anyone Else Think This Is Strange?

I was looking at several news sites and came across the reporting on Fox News that:
1. Mel Gibson is producing a TV miniseries about Flory Van Beek and how she survived the Holocaust.
2. Steven Spielberg discussing the soon to be released Munich.

I didn't see 'The Passion of The Christ.' I do have some desire to see this movie to evaluate the 'level' or existence of Anti-Semetism in the movie, but I also find it strange that the son a man who has a strong reputation for denial of the Holocaust is producing a movie about the Holocaust.

I also have not read the article about Munich, but I am looking forward to seeing this movie because I think that the subject is important. (I also think that it is interesting it is coming out in the way and time that it is.) I have also, when it comes to this movie, been rather amused by the 'Palestinian' reaction to the Munich Olympic murders and the depiction of them, that the PLO perpetrated.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The 'War' President and Homeland Security

First off, I am tired of the President ( and his media contingent) referring to him as a 'War-time President.' This country is not at war. The only way we would be at war is if Congress had declared war. Yes, the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the military, and the military has been deployed in to combat situations, but the country is not at war.

Second is the ridiculous statement that is constantly being made about 'fighting them there so we don't have to fight 'em here.' I guess this will be the justifications for why the money for Homeland Security is being wasted. (This is based on the report by the 9/11 commission.)

I really am tired of the propaganda mill that we call an administration. This administration seems to think that the American people are sheep. They also don't seem to want to believe that the majority of this country could actually disagree with them less than a year after winning the 'stunning' victory that gave them the mandate they claim they have.

Yes, Jr. did poll better than 50% of the votes cast, but 51% or 52% really doesn't qualify as a mandate.

I think it is time for this administration to wake up and realize that they work for us, that we don't exist for them to minipulate. This will not likely happen, because this administration is convinced it can make no mistakes and that it is always right.

The President, and his staff, seem to only make speeches to Republican audiences. Why? More than likely because they are afraid of not speaking to those who they know agree with them.

Oh, Well. The election is only 11 months away. Hopefully the Democrats will get their act together and win at least one of the Houses of Congress. If nothing else that should shake this administrations sense of strenghth and moral outrage when people disagree with them. It will likely also weaken the religious rights control on the party and begin to normalize the dialog in this country.

Well time to go for the day. Have a good evening and stay safe.

Some Random Thoughts

1. The President running around the country making the same basic speech over and over is almost humorous, the main reason it isn't is because he is really (at least to me) beginning to look a little ridiculous.

2. The attack on the Mall in Netanya really irks me. It seems that part of the idea behind the disengagement was that this would make stopping these attacks would be easier as the IDF would have less area to divide it's forces. It seems that the Palestinians missed that memo, and also the one that said they would be less likely to attack and kill Jews in these random acts of 'peaceful co-existence' that I am greatly surprised.

3. The recent discussion of what should be said at this time of the year, and what a silly plant should be called, is just plain annoying.
I do not care what they call the tree that was stolen from a Germanic Pagan Celebration and then called a Christmas Tree. (It should be a Christmas Tree any thing else is silly.)
I really am not 'annoyed' by people wishing me a 'Merry Christmas.' I just ignore it, after all with out a kippah on my head, I guess I don't look all that Jewish after all.
I am also not annoyed by the use of the phrase 'Happy Holiday's.' I know that some people, both Christian and Jewish seem to find this phrase to be some how offensive, but let me explain my thinking on this issue. 1. There is more than one holiday during the holiday season. In fact, the holiday consist of 3 Federal holidays. (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.) It also consists of a number of other holidays. (Chanukah, Kwanzaa, New Year's Eve, Christmas Eve.) Interestingly the religious holidays, (Christmas Eve, (does anyone else ever want to call it eruv Christmas) Christmas, and Chanukah) are out numbered by thouse that are not religious. (Thankgiving, Kwanzaa, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day.) 2. The whole 'attack on Christmas' (as trademarked by Fox News) is only a propaganda stunt. 3. I really think that one of the reasons for the whole issue surrounding the 'Happy Holiday's is a subtle attack on those of us who are not Christians in an attempt to convert us to Christianity. (yes I am paranoid, but that doesn't me they aren't out to get us.) My full theory here is that they are trying to get us so used to hearing the 'normal' greetings of the season that we will somehow forget that we are Jews and decide to participate. (I also, from some family members, believe that it works because some of us are just to set on becoming secular.)

4. I saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire this past weekend. I rather enjoyed it. It did a good job of adapting a particulaly difficult, multiple story line book and presented the core story very well. (On of my favorite scenes in the move is Harry in the bath with the egg, and of course Moaning Myrtle. Harry's discomfort with Myrtle and her flirting was just priceless.)

5. I am confused by the number of good movies that are coming out right now. I would like to see Rent, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Aeon Flux, Pride and Prejudice and Chicken Little. ( I know I am forgetting something, but I can't figure out what it is.)

6. I am looking forward to the return of Wanted (on TNT) to the air ways with new episodes starting tonight.

7. I am looking forward to the return of new episodes of Battlestar Galactica and Closer early in January.

There Are Reasons

I am sorry about the slow down in posting. There are a series of reasons for this.
1. I have been sort of pre-occupied with things at work ( yes, I know I shouldn't let work interfere with more important things like blogging, but well...)
2. I have been moderately (well maybe more than moderately) addicted to Sudoku.

Ah well at least it is quite a bit less expensive than drugs.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Don't Panic and Don't Forget Your Towel

Over the holiday weekend I had an opportunity, finally, to see the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Movie.

Was the movie perfect? No, but it was quite enjoyable and at least kept the tone and humor of the books intact.

It truly reminds me of what an absolute shame it was that Douglas Adam's past when he did. It is also truly sad that he didn't get to see the vision he had for the movie finished and on the screen.

As the movie follows the basic story of the book, at least as far I can remember as it has been a while since I read the book, I really won't get in to the plot.

A couple of things that I disliked:
  1. Zaphod's '2nd head' in the movie just wasn't all that normal.
  2. The fact that the doors only sigh as they open and close and don't seem to talk otherwise.

Things that I did like:

  1. I really like the way the actors interpreted their charaters.
  2. I like the look of the Vogons (though it should be surprising as they were Henson Studio products.)
  3. I loved the voice of the ship and the images that came out of the improbability drive.
  4. Marvin was great and I further enjoyed the voice casting of Alan Rickman.


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