Thursday, March 31, 2005

Cold Hearted?

For those of you that think I'm a heartless, uncaring robot, I nearly cry every time I read about this tragedy.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Two L'chaims

Get this - In Chicago, two simchas in one weekend! No flipping way, what are the odds? I had one Saturday night, and one Sunday afternoon - a full weekend of entertainment and friends. There weren't many young people at either, but hey that never stopped me from having a good time. There were plenty of balding men with pointy mustaches to slap on the back and pretend like we went way back.

I had a shot of whiskey. Well actually two, but who's counting? Right, but I actually was driving. I don't really get drunk, just tired. So I hung out awhile before going home. Boy, I could barely talk in full sentences. Anyway, I think both couples were glad somebody random showed up. Every good party needs a surprise third act!

Sunday, March 27, 2005


I saw this article online. It reminded me of my old Yeshiva University days. It seems every campus has to deal with foes of the student newspaper.

Student's rights?

According to this article, some kid caught his Principle smoking on school grounds. Oh yeah, and it's illegal to smoke within 25 feet of a school building wherever they are. So this smart kid takes an incriminating picture, tells all of his classmates about it...and subsequently finds himself on suspension.

Now, maybe the kid didn't attempt due process first, so his behavior could be construed as disrespectful, but this incident smacks of authoritarianism. Shut up your critic. The kid was right, the principal was wrong. Where do they get off punishing the student? Are they trying to silence him? Are they trying to get back at him? That's like if I were to report a cop for going through a red light, having him have all his friends follow me around and ticket me for the slightest infraction. You can't use your power to get back at somebody for catching you breaking your own rules. That principal should resign if he had any dignity, but obviously he has none, and finds himself above all rule of law. The next best thing will be for the school board to fire him, both for his original behavior, as well as his belligerent follow up.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Here it is Purim night...And I'm blogging. Loser? Maybe. Happy I'm far away from any drunk idiots? Definitely. I've never liked Purim. Well that's not exactly true. I used to love Purim growing up. The dressing up. The candy. The lack of class. It was great. That all changed my first year in Israel. The whole Purim was pretty bad, just a whole bunch of stumbling drunks that the day before had been my sober friends. And the turning point would definitely be the point where my roommate came back and puked all over our room. But don't worry he took pictures to remember it by. There he is, sitting in his own vomit, smiling at the camera. He still wistfully looks back at those days, his best. I'd rather shoot them than relive them. Since studying in a full time Yeshiva, and back at Yeshiva University in New York, I've learned how people have hijacked a holiday to camoflage their adolescent tempations in halachic (religious) parameters.

While the relationship between the Purim holiday and drinking is historical and religious in context, there is ample debate as to whether it is integral or tangential. In fact a careful reading of the Rema will point out that taking just a sip of wine and taking a nap is a form of "losing consciousness" on par with getting drunk. And a simple reading of the Mishnah Berurah shows that this method is fact preferred. (See the full, uncensored discussion in your local Mishnah Berurah, in the Siman of Hilchos Purim dealing with the Mitzvah of Seudas Purim.)

But it just never ceases to amaze me what my compatriots manage to do. They make absolute fools of themselves and embarass their religion through their drunken actions. And they have the chutzpah of couching their behavior in religious terms! They are merely finding an outlet for their rebellious, High School selves. The immature, irreligious youth that they bury deep within them comes out this one time of year, where anything goes.

One theme of this holiday is the concept of "V'Nahafochu," "Reversibility." The "turn of events" in the Purim story is supposed to serve as a lesson that we can let the bottled up spiritual feelings escape this one day of the year, without feeling encapsulated by the surrounding environmental factors. The idea of drinking is that it is supposed to enable this release by halting the rational inhibitions we place on our self. To borrow a term from the literary world, we assume a willing suspense of disbelief, and allow ourselves to be in another world, where we don't worry about the impression of others, and freely express our religious passions. However, from what I see, the only reversal occuring is people who have grown up religious for socio/cultural reasons revealing the true basis for their religious decisions. There is no religious passion being unleashed here. When I was in Yeshiva, IPurim made me regret being there . For once, I'm happy to be in Chicago.

Monday, March 21, 2005


It seems Skokie is being flooded with visiting Meshulachim from who knows where. There were a few at Mincha yesterday, Shacharis today, and mincha today. And I was at three different synagogues. Guess how much I contributed to the cause? Zero. Not that I don't want to give Tzedaka. Or that these collectors aren't worthy (They all had green cards). But I can't just give to everybody, just because they come up to me personally. People give them because they can't say no. But you can't be intimidated into giving charity. I'll just stick to my predetermined sources, and feel comfortable with that.

But what's with the whole Green Card phenomenon? Agudas Yisroel gives cards out to people that come from abroad to collect. This is supposed to give reassurance to the giver that these are not frauds. But doesn't it just further the problem? Now anyone who wants to collect is given the green light to circulate at hundreds of institutions around the country. Why work when you can collect $10,000 in a matter of a few weeks, and see the world while you're at it. Not that Schnorring is a picnic. But aren't these people just circumventing the communal institutions that are meant to deal with fundraising for communal needs? Don't they assume more than their fair share of collections? Donors give less to organizations after having contributed to these individuals, so these collectors are basically taking more than the next needy guy. Soon enough, they all have to come if they want to eat...

Sunday, March 20, 2005


Another Saturday night, another engagement party. Oh wait, in Chicago there are never any parties. Or for that matter, anything else to do on a Saturday night. Well, this time I had one. And not only did I behaved, I was helpful. I made sure to make my way through the heaping mounds of cookies. What mother wouldn't want me for her daughter? Unfortunately, while Chicago managed one party, there was a dearth of eligible bachelorettes...They just don't make 'em like they used to.

Monday, March 14, 2005

What else to do...

Just came back from New York. And what better thing to do on a weekend away from home than go snowboarding? How about bruising every part of your body?!? Go me. But of course practice makes perfect. If you don't die first.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Getting Somewhere...

So the letter I wrote to the Chicago Tribune last week (see my 3/3 post) apparently wasn't such a bust. It was published in yesterday's paper. If I get lucky, I'll pick up some reaction to my comment. Pretty much saying anything with the word "Hitler" in it is bound to get a reaction from friend and foe alike. Nothing like notoriety, at least for a guy like me.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Social Secuirity

Now to speak about something near and dear to my security. From the guy who has none. And I'm not even talking about my lack of a social life. Everyone's talking about Social Security reform. So I thought I'd weigh in. Because my opinion is more important than everyone's.

The system is broken. Not like there are problems. It is fatally, intrinsically flawed. Why anyone would think that a government sponsored pyramid scheme would have better chances of working then an efficient con artist's is the only news to me. So now that we're in agreement, what can be done? I'm not in favor of the President's solution. Too risky, thereby missing the point of social SECURITY.

Rather, I advocate private accounts, but with 100% of the funds invested in low risk investments through a government investment arm. Keep in mind that social security is not supposed to be your pension. It is a backup, a last ditch fund to assure that you have enough for the barest essentials after you can no longer work due to physical or mental incapacity. Otherwise, if you can still work, and you don't have the money to live, you can always get another job. Each citizen would have the funds accumulated throughout their own lifetime tracked independently, so in essence they are funding their own retirement, not allowing the government to dip into their savings to pay its budget. After reaching a certain amount, say $1,000,000, all excess funds contributed would go into a general pool to fund the social security of the lowest income brackets.

Most importantly, the government should do to encourage more 401k and IRA activity, which other than active investments, should be the primary source of retirement funds. These would be able to fund the lifestyle activities of retirees, who could invest them according to the risks and rewards they desire.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

A new low...

Spent all day today dying for something to do. This mainly took the form of sifting through Onlysimchas. What an interesting phenomenon. I have to better way to keep in touch with my friends in New York and other communities. On one website, I can read about the latest who's getting engaged, as well as see pictures of my friends. Of course, I'd be lying if I just said I was keeping up on my friends. A huge portion of my time is spent checking out the other options...namely the single female population. Sometimes a fool myself into thinking that I could theoretically find somebody interesting just from browsing, and I could ask somebody from that simcha to help set it up. But who am I kidding. It's just Kosher porn. Girls who spend way too much time primping themselves in anticipation of their half a picture online. There's definitely something wrong with the whole thing. But yet I have such precious little human contact without it.

So I finally caved. I went with a new Blog Template. The old one had its flair, but it just wasn't functional. All the lines were being cut off in funny places, and the comments were just too difficult to find. So I've updated. I lost some style, but hey, you've got to be flexible. It is actually one of the first major changes I've done since reawakening this blog from it's college incarnation. Hopefully, it'll prove a worthwhile change for what was lost in the process.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Chicago Tribune's article on the online response by Neo-Nazi's to Judge Lefkow's family's murder features an interesting juxtaposition of views. On one hand, the xenophobes praise the murderer and revel in his actions. At the sametime, they vehemently deny any involvement by followers of Matt Hale, theNeo-Nazi leader convicted of soliciting the Judge's murder, and decry any government insinuation that the two events are tied. What I don't understand is why they are so quick to distance themselves from claiming responsibility for the action they support. Then again, these are the same people that call for the death's of minorities and yet deny the holocaust. If they call Adolf Hitler their hero, and yet are the only ones to state that he utterly failedin his goal, then why should we be suprised that they declare that Matt Hale is likewise a failure? It makes no sense, but apparently denying truth is essential to these true bottom-crawlers of society.

Another away message..."When they say I'm looking for a very, very special girl that's a codeword for "Yachad" or "HASC"

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