Friday, June 29, 2007

Things That We Care About And Shouldn't

First up: Will Ferrell's The Landlord.
The Landlord
I thought that the video was hilarious. The Post-Chronicle, and others subtly, or in Bill O'Reilly's case, not so subtly, suggest that it's child abuse.

This seems a bit silly to me. After all, who hasn't played with a small child in ways that might be considered demeaning? I know that when my baby brother was an infant we moved his mouth to make him say all sorts of ridiculous things, all that we lacked was a video camera and youtube. Did this scar him for life? Probably not. We also dressed him up in silly ways, and took embarrassing photographs. In fact, a set of photos exist from when I was 2 or 3 where I am wearing a cowboy hat, my mother's boots (they are thigh-high on me), a handkerchief, and underwear. And I did that to MYSELF. Fortunately my parents did not follow through on their threat to show those photos to my prom date. Thank G-d.

Adam McKay (the director and father) says that Pearl is at an age where she will say whatever she's been directed to, but doesn't remember it. I remember when my youngest cousin was at this age. We were teaching him to talk and he'd repeat everything you said (example: My parents love me the least), unless he couldn't pronounce it, in which case he'd clap, as if to show appreciation for your amazing diction (example: flotation device). Were we abusing him? I'd say not. Was it really entertaining for the older cousins? Of course.

When someone calls this type of behavior "Child Abuse" it bothers me. By lumping the two together it cheapens the actual abuse that thousands of unprotected children in the United States alone are subject to every day; starvation, beatings, neglect, and the list goes on. It makes the term "child abuse" seem far less sinister and damaging than it actually is, and on the other side of the same coin is an easy way to heighten the severity of a seemingly harmless incident. Was the video in poor taste? Probably. But if you watch the outtakes you can see that Pearl was not harmed during the film, nor will she, in all likelihood, suffer any lasting negative effects.

So really, get over it.

Jews and Entertainment

Heather Ferreria left the following comment on my post about Spiderman 3 and it got me thinking:

As a Sephardic Jewish chick also in the film ind., I'd like to know for giggles why Ashkenazi guy directors always love casting Irish Gentiles who look like them as the impossible action lead who gets the unmistakably shiksa dame. Google a photo of Tobey Maguire. Then Google one of Sam Raimi. Place side by side and compare. Then edit in fact that Sam Raimi is hot into shiksa (oh surprise) redheads. Living vicariously, are we much?I'd like just once to see a hot studly Gentile guy director cast his Jewish doppelganger as the intelligent, nebbishly lead who gets the hot, raven-haired intelligent Jewish girl. Think it will ever happen? Ha!I'll take Ed Burns or Edward Norton any day over Woody Allen. I think most of us would. So all my lead actors from now on are going to be goyim! It's time for Jewish girl director revenge!

Now, yesterday I was home sick (I am a big mess without CJ) so I did what any intelligent, homebound person with internet access will do. I trawled the major networks for full episodes of their shows online. This lead me to watch old episodes of NCIS, a CBS show. In case you are unaware, NCIS stands for Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and as we know, I love all things Naval.

Now one of the characters on NCIS is called "Ziva Davide" and she is a former-Mossad agent working for NCIS. Now I'm pretty unclear about this for a number of reasons. Primary among them being that I thought you couldn't work for the US government if you had ever served in a foreign army. Maybe not, though. So, I've provided a picture of her below:

Now, this character is played by Cote de Pablo. That's right, an Israeli character is being played by a Chilean woman. Is Hollywood suffering from a lack of Israelis? That seems unlikely, no matter where I go I find Israelis, and I'm not even looking. Anyway, this absurdity came to a head during an episode where there is an ACTUAL Israeli who portrays a rogue Israeli arms dealer. Unsurprisingly "Ziva" was less than pleased with him, however, when she confronts him in Hebrew she can only say one line, and that with a bizarre accent. Seriously, they got a real Israeli for the bit part, but couldn't find a single one for the regular role? Seriously? Israel is a country full of beautiful women. Beautiful, deadly women! Perfect for this show.

It just seems absurd. Maxim knows that Israelis are attractive, if only we could get the rest of the industry on the bandwagon.

On Celebrity

This thought isn't fully developed, so pardon me if I'm a bit scattered.

We all profit others' misfortune. The cheap clothes, food, and toys we buy are mostly produced by underpaid foreign factory workers. I'm not saying this to make you feel guilty, but to point out that none of us are innocent of exploitation. As the Washington Post says, "It isn't easy to be an 'it' girl."

That said, can the media please leave Britney, Lindsay, and to a lesser extent Paris, alone? I'm not saying that they haven't made poor choices, or even that some of those choices aren't deserving of mockery, but at this point, watching the train wreck that is Britney's life is just painful. It seems to me that it would be in the media's best interest, at least in the long term, to leave these women alone, and let them get better. Being in the public eye certainly isn't helping Lindsay get into rehab, or Britney get her act together. And it has only cause Paris to become more and more of an attention whore.

Let's break this down: When JFK Jr. and Diana died it was a tragedy for the tabloids. These examples of American and British royalty were regular tabloid fodder, providing stories that people were interested in, and would read. By the same token, their regular sitings allowed paparazzos to make a fairly good living, selling exclusive pictures to tabloids for thousands of dollars each. Yet when they died (and forgive my crassness here) that cash cow stopped giving milk. It is clear that it is in the tabloids and paparazzos best interests to keep these celebrities alive, yet it is also clear that the American people are all too happy to read about the train wrecks that these girls have become. Yes, pictures of Britney wearing her shirt on her head sell magazines, but they also contributes to her unstable mental state, psychological downturn, and possible death of her career (or herself). Not that I am wishing/predicting her death, but for Lindsay at least, it seems unlikely that if she follows this current path that she'll live to 30.

If Britney's career stalls, then pictures of her will be worth nothing. And this constant media attention isn't helping her to get her act back together. Same with Lindsay, she is still making movies, but she's clearly not doing her best work, and has developed a reputation for being unprofessional on set.

I guess that the paparazzi feel that in the short term they can make money off of these women's pain, and in the long term, if they burn out someone else will take their place. If I thought that it would be in any way effective I'd try to organize a boycott of the major tabloid magazines, but I don't know enough people who purchase them anyway to make an economic dent.

*sigh* Next World Issue please...

UPDATE: US Weekly has banned coverage of Paris for the next week.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I Ain't No Hollaback Girl

A recent piece in Slate's Broadsheet (Single Women Eat Babies!) led me to a rather funny article in the New York Post on catcalling, which, in turn, directed me to the activist blog, Holla Back New York City, a blog devoted to empowering women to confront the men who catcall on the street. When I first read about Holla Back in the Post article, I'll admit that I was extremely skeptical. It seemed silly. I thought: what's up with these over-sensitive, uptight women who can't handle being catcalled; everyone gets catcalled; I get catcalled all day; they should just get over it.

But then I reflected a little bit on the course of my day. The truth of the matter is that, although periodically it's nice to hear, "You are so beautiful," or "Gorgeous," said with a sigh as I saunter past, I also often find myself walking hunched, with my head down, trying not to make eye contact, concentrating on ignoring the lewder and more suggestive comments. Prettyboy makes fun of me for dressing conservatively (although I disagree on that point), but what he doesn't realize is that if I dress provocatively in any way, I can't walk down the street without blushing at the aggressive attention I receive.

While there's little wrong with a head nod, and true compliments can be nice to hear from a friend, to be heard from a stranger or an acquaintance (yes, you, creepy men who work at the desk in my office building), they're threatening and embarrassing and I don't know how to respond to them. If I ignore the men I see every day, am I being rude? I don't want to make a hostile work environment, I have to walk into and out of the building several times a day. I don't want to be labeled "bitchy" and my instinct is to smile and say "Thank you," but that just welcomes further familiarity and remarks on the fit of my dresses (and, most recently, a growl as I walked past). As for strangers, I don't want to welcome any further familiarity. I've heard enough scare-stories to know that there's a fine line between safety and danger. I think that that's what men on the street don't realize. They think that saying what they do is harmless. They assume that it's a comment that goes out into the ether, whereas my response is to think: is this guy going to follow me? is he a threat? should I be worried?

I don't mind the looks of appraisal; it's a free country and people are free to leer all they want. In fact, they're free to say whatever they want, too. That's the beauty of free speech. But what recourse do I have? I've realized that it's not that catcalling doesn't bother me, but that I'm so used to it, it's like so much other white noise in this city. So is that it? My only recourse is to ignore the bullies on the streets? Or I could carry around a camera, like filmmaker Maggie Hadleigh-West :

Watching this video, I vacillated between feeling glad that she was putting these men under the spotlight, making them uncomfortable the way that they make me uncomfortable, and wondering if she was going too far. Or if she was just going to be marginalized and dismissed, the way I feel when I speak up and I'm brushed off, out of hand, as a "harpy" or "oversensitive." Just because I'm used to this behavior doesn't make it acceptable. And just because it's not as bad as other horrible and violent things going on, daily, against women world-wide, doesn't mean that we should have to ignore the intrusion on our personal space that occurs repeatedly throughout the day.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wishing They Could Rewind?

Speaking of wanting a rewind button, check out the lengths these identical twins went to in the vein of 'body art.'

I can't even post the picture, just visit the site, but not during lunch.

(Hat tip to Prettyboy's BFF)


Prettyboy often talks about how nice it would be to have a rewind button. He brings it up in the context of things he would do if he did, in fact, have such a button.

A SFW example:

"If I had a rewind button, I would throw this banana cream pie at the stuffy maitre d' to see his reaction." In this scenario, Prettyboy would then be able to hit rewind and the pie would never have been thrown, except in his memory of the event.

I often want a rewind button, as well, largely because I am a big, awkward doofus and I wish I could unsay half the things I've said, untrip all the falls I've made, and unspill all the bowls of cereal/cups of coffee/glasses of orange juice. It's in that reddened, uncomfortable, embarrassed moment immediately following whatever verbal gaffe I've made most recently that I wish against all hope that I could rewind and undo. As a teenager, I once playfully told my Daddio to "shut up," at the outset of the world's longest trip home from a party. He was angrily silent the entire time. Seething. Imagining my punishment. Becoming redder and angrier. And I sat there, helpless, stunned at the intensity of his reaction. So a rewind button, right? Would have been perfect.

What would you do with a rewind button?

In the Interest of Fairness

I was apparently severly mistaken about vanity-sizing. I'd like to apologize to the fashion industry for misreporting.

In the interest of fairness, I'm going to post the entire response to my post on vanity sizing (Downsizing), written by Kathleen, who has her own blog, the Fashion Incubator, which, sigh, I guess I'm going to have to read regularly, since it seems very well-written and it's about fasion (thanks, Kathleen, for the correction and extensive information):

Dear Consumer,

I notice you went to the bother of linking to wiki's vanity sizing entry which is pov questionable, error-rife and mis-cites their own source material. It's a pity you didn't read all their references, particularly the **only one** written BY the "fashion industry" called, _The Myth of Vanity Sizing_. I mean, if you're going to say that people like me think you're stupid, you should at least hear what I have to say for myself. If you had read just one of the articles I've written on vanity sizing, you'd know I don't think you're stupid at all. What amazes me is that you think sizing is about *you* -consumers- your head games that we're trying to make you feel better about yourselves. I don't know who started that myth but it's not! It has nothing to do with *you*. Rather, it has everything to do with internal material utilization processes within the limitations of the manufacturing industry. Iow, what we call "allocation" based on the derivation of sizes with regard to our respective markets.

In fact, I'm glad you're an honors grad because this is very complicated to explain which is why "we" can't explain it readily or easily to the average consumer. I'm glad you're bright because you'll understand what "normalizing to the population" means because that's what we're doing. I'm glad you're an honors grad because I'm assuming you're not intellectually lazy and will follow up with this. By the way, I'm a pattern maker. Not only have I NEVER "vanity sized" anything in my 27 year career, I don't know another pattern maker who has either.

Now, if sizing didn't normalize to the population, we'd still be making clothes designed for people in the 1800's. If manufacturers didn't adjust the sizing of their products (to include buildings, furniture etc) you wouldn't be able to get in the door without ducking. So, with everybody from architects to industrial engineers "vanity sizing" ("normalizing") products in your environment, how come you're not complaining to them that the size of their products haven't remained static? Rather, it's the opposite usually; one specific example is the size of airplane seats, those aren't big enough but guess what, they won't be "normalizing" seat sizes because they have to redesign the entire PLANE! No, I don't think you're stupid or an idiot and as such, I know you'll understand "normalizing to the population" to say nothing of understanding the sizing structure of lines in a designer's stable (explained in my series). Not that you'd know off hand how it's done. Why would you? It's arcane, it's complicated, nobody wants to listen to how the system works, it's easier to kvetch and blame, no heavy lifting involved! Believe me, it is all very very logical. I'm glad you're smart! Most consumers won't bother to read, process or understand. Hey, you'll have a leg up on everyone! You'll know something they don't.

What's stupid is to make the same complaints year after year. I got tired of hearing about it which is why I wrote The myth of vanity sizing series (10) because among other things, sizing evolves, just like people do. Sizing is not a fixed mathematical construct, but a social one (it used to be mathematical but meaning was wrested from pattern engineers before my time) -so there's even a social history component. And an economical one, and a buyer one. Sizing is even dependent upon how a manufacturer organizes and employs their product development system in accordance with the dictates of their retail partners. But most of all, sizing is related to efficient material utilization, which doesn't mean cutting smaller to save fabric when we're obviously discussing the opposite. I'll explain.

Consider: most manufacturers cut a size range of 6-14, nearly all do, if not, 8-16. Now, sales wise, the vast majority of orders are in the center of the size spread. Now, as the average person gets heavier, over time, sales begin to weigh in (excuse the pun) on the upper end of the size range so the size spread is off kilter. Now why does this matter? It matters because of marker design and allocation (arcane as I said). To make an efficient marker (keep fabric waste to a minimum) you need balance. For every size 6, you need a size 14. For every size 8, you need a size 12. The 6/14 and 8/12 balance each other in a marker. So, if you have orders for too many of the larger sizes and not enough of the smaller sizes because people are getting fatter, you don't have balance because now you need 3 size 12's for every size 8 or 2 size 14s for every size 6. So, you change the sizing structure. This way it rebalances. Otherwise, if they didn't do this and the given measures that constitute a given size remained static, the smaller sizes would drop out of the size range altogether. A manufacturer would be cutting lots of 12's and 14's -with pressures on the upper end of the size range, in sizes they don't even offer! If they added those sizes (dropping the smaller sizes, the sales of which are too few to cut in production), they'd end up in plus sizes which means a whole new market, whole new stores, whole new sales reps and even assuming that not "normalizing" to the population would work (in theory) it is just too costly to contemplate if you have established distribution.

Also consider retail. If a manufacturer didn't normalize to the population, their sizes would -over time- "run small". Retailers won't like that, buyers would have to know the line intimately and they just don't. They'd be putting static size 10's on a rack that were in effect, two sizes smaller than the competitor's size 10s. That confuses customers too. For better or worse, they want size 10's across manufacturers to bear some resemblance of consistency. Two sizes smaller isn't.

I don't think you're stupid or intellectually lazy, some of the more salient entries in my sizing series are:
Actually, any of the entries have links at the bottom to the other entries. Don't miss the history of women's sizes entries either (3).

Jews Loved By: Slate

From The State of the Ninja by Grady Hendrix:

The Israeli affinity for ninjas makes sense when you consider that ninjas are basically supercool Jews. Both practice esoteric traditions that must be kept pure or they'll lose their power, both wear black outfits, and both can destroy much larger and more numerous opponents. The main difference is that while observant Jews spend a lot of time praying, observant ninjas spend a lot of time hiding and killing people

This statement makes me want to go spend some quality time at Real Ultimate Power.

Apartment Hunting, Redux

The roommate and I have decided that since we like our apartment, and hunting sucks, that we'd try to find someone/s to fill our extra room. One of our roommates put up an ad on Craigslist for a one-month sublet that yielded some hilarious results:

I read your post on CraigsList and I am interested in your offering. I may not fit your desired roommate as I am male, BUT WAIT... I am a young design professional. I would not be any sort of burden for you I am sure! I am impeccably clean, and very busy. I design handbags @ COACH; working ten hour days, and night classes 3 nights weekly. I will be scarce to say the least. I eat out, so your kosher environment is safe with me! I have no pets. I will not be having any "overnights". I am not one to bring the party home. I spend my weekends in Long Beach Island, and have yet to spend a single weekend in Manhattan since May. I am basically a ghost- seemingly the ideal roommate. Hopefully my chromosome makeup, being what it is, will not be problematic. If I seem like a compatible fit, please respond to this email as I am eager to hear more!

I like that he tells us that he won't be "bringing the party home."

Now both the roommate and I put up ads for a SPECIFICALLY FEMALE roommate. And this is what I got (from a Jewish listserv):

[Redacted]: I am looking for sharing or subletting a furnished apartment in Manhattan. I am a canadian, french, sephardic Jew, kosher and shomer shabbat. I am in my 50's, have 3 married daughters and 3 grandchildren, and mind my own business (consulting engineer and businessman). I get along with most sincere people. It is OK halachicaly to share with two women, plus my girlfriend from Montreal will be with vacationing with me most of the period. I need the dimensions of the room and brightness, noise level and if it has A/C, as I work from home. Please send me pictures of room and kindly highlight your own profile? When can I visit? Great recent sharing references available. Please call ASAP > > [redacted] > > [phone number redacted]

(note: I like how he ASSURES me that it is ok halachically because we are two women. Thanks.)

Me :Hi [redacted], while you sound great, I'm not comfortable sharing with a man. Sorry, I hope that you can find what you're looking for. Best, Annie

[redacted]:I expect that this uncomfort may be quickly eliminated if we meet and prove the value of sincere friendship. I have very high ethics and religious values that I will not compromise! I understand how you feel (and I cannot blame you for being too careful) and will respect your ultimate decision. It does not engage you into anything unless we both want to share your apartment, nothing else! Please call me to discuss. Regards, [redacted], included phone number again

Me: I appreciate your enthusiasm, but aside from the halachic issues of living with a man, I am not comfortable with the day-to-day living situation. For instance, I dress with tzniut, and I would have to be fully dressed at all times in my home, even to go to the bathroom, and that just isn't a situation that I'm comfortable with. I'm sorry, and I wish you luck on your search.

[redacted]: I trust you know what you are doing and wish you to find the best match for you, regardless of how you dress. We only grow when we rise to the occasion, i.e. to make an accommodating changes when we have roomate(s). But we have to focus on what we gain, not what we loose. I do it all the time, considering it as a privilege well appreciated. This is how I stay positively focused. Hatzlaha, Sincerely, [redacted]

(what accomodating changes is he suggesting that I make? Also, can you imagine explaining to my mother that my roommate and I live with a 50-year-old, divorced, French Canadian, Sephardi guy?)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

One Last Quick Thing

So it's been a slow day, and I managed to flip through the new Heeb magazine, and I found possibly the most entertaining thing ever.

A "round-table" discussion on the future of the Jewish people by three small children aged 8, 6, and 3. Amazing. Worth reading if only for that.

Jews Love: Pregnancy

Last night I saw Knocked Up with the upstairs neighbor. It was fun, I laughed. I totally agree with all of the criticisms that I've heard about it, mainly that:

1) Those who are pro-choice (pro-abortion) in the movie treat it as a "quick fix" and don't deal at all with the serious nature of the procedure, or the emotional toll it can have on a woman. However, it is an option, and after considering it the main character (Allison) chooses to have the baby, so I would say the movie is overall pro-choice, if occasionally a bit too flip about abortion.


2) Jewish boy meets/impregnates non-Jewish, blonde goddess (I don't like to use the s-word when referring to non-Jews, as it is pejorative). I know that Seth Rogan is Jewish, he is sort of nebbishy, a bit chubby, curly hair, a slacker (if intelligent) but did he have to PLAY a Jewish guy? Couldn't we have a nebbishy non-Jew?

This afternoon Harley and I, and another friend met for lunch and went to H&M. Nothing too exciting. As we are checking out, the woman behind the counter looks at me and says: "You know, our store at 34th street has a maternity section." I said thanks, and walked away. SERIOUSLY? Again? I know that I'm wearing a loose dress, but HEY, it's summer, and it is light and airy. WTF.

Harley comforted me by pointing out that I'm generally very slender, so wearing an empire waist dress makes me look pregnant, instead of fat. Ok, fine, whatever, I got over it.

I get back to my desk to see Heeb's THE KIDS ISSUE.

I am going to kill someone.

Absurdities of Today

1) Cats in Things They're Not Supposed to Be in Are Amazing:

Yes, yes they are.

2)Best line ever, courtesy of Rottin' In Denmark's Vox:

"How the hell can I get work done when I'm sitting in front of an invention that only exists to distract me? It's like trying to handwrite an essay on a stripper."

Two Japan-Related Items

1) The US House of Representatives may pass a piece of legislation (with no teeth) that urges Japan to apologize for its use of comfort women during WWII. What's next, the inclusion of the Rape of Nanjing into Japanese history textbooks? Or a ban on major figures visits to Yasukuni?

2) In the post-war era Japan has become so demilitarized that it is currently a pacifist society. In fact, when Japan had, for the first time since WWII Japanese soldiers in Japanese uniforms (sent on a peacekeeping mission, I believe) there was a huge outcry. To combat this, the Japanese have created a kawaii (cute) cartoon version of a Japanese soldier called "Pickles." According to this piece from Reason Magazine:

"Japanese citizens have tended to be suspicious of the SDF, a fact that helps explain Pickles’ back story. A native of the peaceful Paprika Kingdom, he at first didn’t understand the need for his small country’s defense forces. It wasn’t until the neighboring Sesame Kingdom invaded that the prince learned the value of a military. Pickles went from wary skeptic to willing soldier."

Wow. First IDF in Maxim, now SDF in cartoon format. What's next, US Marine Corps in tutus?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Even Better

If Cab Calloway were still alive, I would write him endless fan mail.

Look how smoothly they tap:


I used to live right near the Cotton Club, so I watched the following nostalgically. (NB: Nostalgic for the music, but not the oppression, the rising threat of Naziism, or the Depression):

And one of my favorite songs of all time:

Imagin loving a man "though he was cokey." Cab, baby, you're missed.

Hello? Are You There, Readers? It's Me, Harley

Where is everyone today? Some days it feels like I'm encountering a great, echoing abyss, into which I'm throwing all my words. Hello hello hello.....?

I've had a killer headache for days now that just won't go away. I think I'll blame it on my sleep meds. Cloudy, groggy, cranky. What's going on over here? Allergies? It's so unlike me, lashing out out the fashion industry and bigots-- ok, that's very much like me, but I hate being cranky pants.

Combined with my brain sluggishness is the unending search for new employment, which can seem stultifying, sometimes. And by sometimes, I mean always. I have skills. I know that someone out there wants these skills. Where are they? Hello hello hello.....?

So, to cheer us all up (because I can feel that you, too, are feeling a little funky), some Leah Siegel and Jeff Taylor:

Be on the Lookout! Dangerous Lesbians Abound!

I'm really digging the letter conceit today. Please excuse me if it gets old.

Dear Nissim Ze'ev,

Other than these women, what is it that make homosexuals so frightening? Why are they dangerous? Because they're not procreating? Is that all? Because you think that they're going to spread their evil ways?

I guess that's it. That's what it seems like. You think that they are going to convert the others to their "way of life." Ugh. Some mornings, I just wish I'd stayed in bed.

And logic won't work on you, either, will it? Logic about "choice," about sexuality being predetermined, to a large extent, by factors beyond our control ("to a large extent" because I hate using absolutes and I'm sure you'd use it as an excuse to find and eradicate the "gay gene")? I cannot fathom you or your way of thinking. It hurts my brain.

Maybe if I speak slowly: Gay... people... not dangerous... do not care about you... or "converting" people.... care about... living freely... with full rights... care about normal things.... want nothing from you...

Damn it. I give up.

You are a poopface stupid head (yes, I have resorted to ad hominem attacks out of sheer exhaustion),

Jews Love: Music Videos

I discovered this by accident. It has actually changed my life:

Lip Gloss Song by Lil Mama

The message that "it wasn't the lipgloss, it was you all along" is probably my favorite part.

Another school-themed video: Pop, Lock, and Drop by Huey

I both love, and am disturbed by the teeny girl who does the "pop, lock, and drop it."

And a charming old-school video, courtesy of Slate: Aunt Jackie by Jason Fox

Sarkozy, already better than Chirac

Even if he does have a bizarro marriage.

Sarkozy calls for the world to be "tough on Darfur."


Dear Fashion Industry,

Stop treating me like an idiot. I am not an idiot. In fact, I graduated with honors from a prestigious and challenging university. Not only can I read and write, but I can also discern when someone is trying to pull the wool over my eyes or, in this case, the ruched chemise. Do you think that I didn't notice that you've started vanity sizing? Do you think that I care about the number attached to the little tag at the back of my dress? What am I going to do? Flash that around to everyone?

Yes, there's a brief moment when I think to myself, "A size 2? I must have lost weight!" But you and I both know that my body size has barely altered since I hit college. I am not a size 2!

Nor does the reduction in the apparent size of the garment improve my ability to find and wear clothing that fits me. In fact, I find that I now need to bring a broader range of sizes into the dressing room (in a most recent trip, from a size 0 to a 6) in order to approximate what my size must be. Seriously, I have some bulging biceps from carrying around all the frickin' hangers!

Not a size 2

Seriously, I cannot fathom how stupid you must think I am to care more about a little number on a tag than about the logic of dressing myself. Who cares if I'm a 2, 8, or 16, so long as the clothing fits and makes me look good? It makes no sense! I'm an adult. I'm an adult with a functioning brain.

So stop treating me like an idiot, designers and sizers. I know that size doesn't matter. Damn. Sometimes, you're worse than Congress.

No longer yours,

Know Your Jewish Community: Summer Camp

It seems like everyone is sending their kids to Summer camp from Treppenwitz to Marie Lyn Bernard who went to Jewish Summer Camp as a child.

Rabbi Paul Kipnes has a post on who the real constituents are of Summer camps, where he suggests that as great as the experience is for the campers, the staff are also benefitting from the camp experience. JSpot and both have pieces on the educational component of Jewish camps, something that "anonymous mother" on worries about. this particular woman is concerned that her child will be unduly influenced by less "frum" kids at camp, a worry that may cause her not to send the child at all.

Meanwhile, Camp Ramah in Wisconsin has a blog of its own (in addition to a summer Kollel*, if you were unaware). Apropos of that, Revuen M. Lerner of Altneuland posted a meditation on head coverings which started when he attended a Ramah camp.

Personally I am torn about Jewish summer camp. I think that it is a terrific institution, but for kids who also go to day school, it means that they rarely, if ever get to socialize with non-Jews in a formal setting pre-college. Again, I'm aware of the problems with sending one's child to a camp that isn't specifically Jewish (not shomer shabbat, shomer kashrut, etc), and the benefits of a different educational setting, but I'm bothered by the thought that I could potentially raise my (hypothetical) children to the age of 18 with few to no non-Jewish friends.

Jews Love: Restaurant Meme

I usually don't do these, but someone left Jacob DaJew in the lurch, so here goes:

Upper West Side, New York USA

List out your top 5 favorite places to eat at your location.

Ok, so I'm going to broadly interpret "your location" as Manhattan.

5) The sadly-defunct Makor

Kosher dairy, which was great for an early dinner, not too expensive, and really close to Lincoln Center. I guess now when I am going to the Met I'll have to eat at Levana. Which is really a much different experience.

4) Seamless Web: Not really a restaurant so much as a way to obtain food, amazing for lazy Sundays/ any day of the week that you want to sit at home and order in without ever talking to a human being. It would be even more awesome if you could order from Ali Baba.

3) Ali Baba: The best shwarma on the Upper West Side, which probably isn't saying much, but Ali Baba is great. It's at 84th and Amsterdam, and on weekends open until 3am. Unfortunately it's getting expensive ($12 for shwarma laffa, and $9.50 for shwarma pita), but unlike Chickpea the heksher* is ironclad. Also super-convenient for those of us on the UWS.

2)Chennai Garden: one of the (many) vegetarian Indian restaurants in the 27th and Lexington neighborhood, this one has a teudah* in the window so stringent, it's in Yiddish. Also the food is great, super-cheap, and I've never had trouble getting a table. The decor is fun too. Not so great for a date place, or anytime that you want a private conversation as the tables are really, really close together.

1) Buddha Bodai: my favorite Chinese restaurant. It's at the corner of Mott and Worth (on the edge of Chinatown), and I've actually had dinner there for $10/person including tip. For those who really love the standard Kosher Chinese food, this is not the place for you. It is traditional Buddhist Chinese, so no meat, and they use tofu to create fake meat. Their dimsum on Sunday mornings is amazing. You know that a Chinese place is good when a lot of the customers are Asian, or in this case, half Asian, half Jews.

And last, I know that it isn't a restaurant, but KosherNY is actually pretty great. I get email updates on kashrut news, and they list every restaurant that I've heard of, some I hadn't, and include information about the heksher. It's a better resource than any other list out there.

*A heksher is a certification of Kashrut, given by a Rabbi or group of Rabbis to a restaurant or product.

*Teudah literally means announcement, and is a poster or piece of paper in the window/door of a restaurant announcing it's kashrut, and whose supervision the restaurant is under.

Friday, June 22, 2007

I Missed It

Turns out that last night Rabbi Shmuely Boteach debated Dr. Michael Brown at the Society for Ethical Culture about, essentially, if Jews should just accept that Jesus died for our sins.

Wish that I had known earlier. Did anyone go?

Also, apparently he debated Christopher Hitchens too. To be honest, I can't think of anyone else that is quite as good of a representative of observant Judaism. He is significantly more cuddly than the average Rabbi; from what I can tell he is very learned, pious, and sincere. If we had to have a re-do of one of those famous debates between a Rabbi and theologists of another religion (like in the Old Country, Ramban did it once and there are a couple other examples) I'd choose Shmuley. Or maybe Adin Steinsaltz. That might be a difficult choice. Still, Shmuely is good PR for the Jews, and we for sure need it.

I Want to Live in Sin

This city would drive anyone to it. Seriously. I think that cohabitation pre (or instead of ) marriage is less an effect of declining morals (I saw a study not so long ago that said that the percent of people having premarital sex hasn't changed since 1920 or so), and more a conflation of several other factors:

-People get married later
-More people are going to college, and therefore live away from home from the time they are 19
-Not so many of those people want to move back in with their parents until they get married (later)
-It is expensive to live in NYC
-Living two people to one bedroom is cheaper than any other reasonable alternative (as Orthodox Jews in Washington Heights, and some parts of the UWS can tell you)
-Most people don't want a same-sex roommate, unless they swing that way

CJ and I had a conversation on this topic over the phone yesterday.
Me: The roommate and I haven't found an apartment yet.
CJ: Sorry sweetie.
Me: Yeah, it sucks. I tried to convince her that we should share a room, there is a beautiful apartment near us for $2600/month. In an elevator building. With a laundry room. Except that it would suck to split it. There's enough room technically, but it would leave us with a weird long, thin space.
CJ: Too bad that you don't have a boyfriend that you can move in with.
Me: I know, maybe I should go find one.
CJ: The roommate probably wouldn't like that.
Me: Lamesauce.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Jewbiquitous Outing: Make Music New York

So Harley wasn't actually with me this time, as I was out with a friend from camp, but still...

My friend and I met up at the best "kosher" Chinese restaurant in town, Buddha Bodai. It says that it is kosher, and has a teduah, but I don't really recognize the rabbi's name. At any point, that is off-topic. So we were wandering around downtown and we heard some electronic-style music. Thinking that it might be break dancers we headed down the street. First of all, we passed the Synagogue for the arts, which is a fascinating institution in its own right.

At any rate, we walked down to the end of the street, and at the corner (Church and White) we saw a group of people with a young man in the center, standing on a makeshift stage making music, somehow. We couldn't really tell what it was, but it looked like on the table were two gameboys, and around his neck on a strap was a keyboard. Like the kind that you type with. We watched in awe as the group of dancers (3 deep) danced totally without inhibition. There were the usual crop of downtown hipsters, lots of cigarette jeans, but in front of me was a teeny child wearing orange crocs, really going at it. The really interesting thing is that while the crowd was incredibly diverse the dancers were entirely male, young, and with one or two exceptions, white. It seemed that these were true fans of the artist's work and had come out specifically for this performance.

At one point the artist yelled out: "This song is about the best things in the world, Einstein, Women, Time Travelling and Super-String Theory." Ooook.

Wandering around were a couple people with clipboards that looked sort of official, so my friend walked up to ask one what was going on. Sure enough the concert was of several artists (we only saw Nullsleep) who are represented by the music lable 8bitpeoples. All of these artists make music with gameboys. No joke. And it is incredibly melodic, and totally fascinating. The organization sponsoring this concert (and other events) under the umbrella of "Make Music New York" is called The Tank.

The Tank is a 501(c)3 non-profit (that basically means that it is legit) which presents music and dance for very low prices, ranging from free to $10. The girl told me that they also have some "public affairs programming" but I see no sign of it on their website.

Basically it was a New York experience. Sometimes I love this city.

Pride History

I read this AP article about a new exhibit on the history of homosexuality in the American military, and was struck by it.

Not sure what to say about it, other than I expect that at some point soon we'll be seeing a Museum of the History of Civil Rights which includes African Americans, GLBTQ, and perhaps illegal immigrants. For the record, I fully expect this museum to be built with private funds, and maybe eventually taken under the umbrella of the Smithsonian Institution, or another similar group.

Know Your Jewish Community: Wedding Invitation SOPs

An SOP is a Standard Operating Procedure. I think that in the case of deciding who gets/doesn't get a wedding invitation, a couple needs to write down a set of guiding principles, otherwise cutting down the list seems arbitrary and unfair.

I've been thinking about this because one of my best friends from college (and actually camp, before that) is getting married, and she and her fiancee are having some difficulty over the guest list. Essentially: he wants to invite everyone that he's ever met, and she does not. When you have 70 guests to split between the two of you it gets a bit touchy. In order to mediate this, I have created a set of SOPs for guest invitations:

I. Required Guests (in descending order of importance)
A. Family
i. immediate, plus one level (a "removed" or "second") if you see them on a regular basis
ii. anyone that will give you an awesome present/remember you in the will
B. Friends
i. Best Friends
a. from childhood/high school, as long as you keep in touch regularly and have seen them within the last year (exception for those abroad)
b. College Friends-- keep these to a minimum, they probably don't have enough money to pay for a nice gift. Also, unclear how close to them you will be in five years.
C. People Who Will Be Really Angry If You Don't Invite them
i. in this case weigh the social discomfort of the lack of invitation against how much you actually want the person to be at your wedding

II. People About Whom You Are On The Fence*
A. More Distant Family
i. those who give great presents/are fun at a party are in
ii. also include those who will be REALLY insulted if they are not invited
iii. do not include those with whom you/your parents/relatives have had a 'falling out'
B. Not As Close Friends
i. You must have seen this person (in person) at least ONCE in the previous calendar year, preferably pre-engagement, you must speak to them no less than once every six months, and you have to actually enjoy their company
C. People Who Will Be Insulted, But You Care Less
i. same criteria as above

III. People Not To Invite
A. Family
i. Black sheep of the family, unless it will be really fun
ii. very distant relatives, except as a courtesy
B. Friends
i. former best friends that you haven't spoken to in forever
ii. anyone who doesn't return your calls/letters in at least a 2:1 (yours: theirs) ratio.
C. Those Who Will Be Insulted
i. people who you either don't care about, or who won't find out
D. Co-workers
i. with very few exceptions, these people are not your "real" friends.

*Appendix A: What to do about those on the fence
Make a list in descending order of those who you wish to invite but cannot due to space concerns. They are your second run. Alternate a person you wish to invite with one whom your fiancee wishes to invite, and when someone RSVPs in the negative (from one of your original guests, not those assigned to either your, or your fiance's parents) you may move someone up from the "bench" to the "field" and send them an invitation.

Disclaimer: this document is intended for humorous purposes only, and is not to be applied by real couples with actual weddings.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I Want A Pet

Sadly, the roommate does not. Conversations like this take place on a regular basis:

Me: Look at that kitten! It is so cute! Kitten!
The Roommate: It looks like a rat.
Me: But it is so teeny, and fluffy, and...
R: Rat-like.

The roomate does not like animals. Even cute ones like this:

My new scheme is that I need a trained monkey. I asked my supervisor if we had room in the budget for one. She just laughed. It was not a joke. I actually want a trained monkey. Any idea what one of those things run you these days?

Star Wars: Return of the Harley*

I know, I know. You're all, like, "Dude, Bonnaroo ended Sunday night, man. Where have you been?" And I'm all, like, "Chill out, man, I was driving back Monday (and by "I," I mean B and the Hottie, as I slept blissfully in the back seat for most of the 13 hour trip) and then I took yesterday off to recuperate." And you're all, like, "How was it? Was it sick?" And I'm all like, "It was so sick, it was in intensive care, man." And then I realize that I don't actually talk like that and wonder if the sun killed off all my brain cells.

More from me after I chip away at all this work that accumulated in my absence.

*That's a little shout out Star Wars reference for Prettyboy, our resident Star Wars geek. Dork ninja!

Jews Love: Facebook's "Causes"

Granted, this is just anecdotal, but almost every "socially conscious" Jew I know (who has a facebook account) has added the application for "causes."

For instance, Dan Sieradski (one of the most socially conscious Jews that I can think of) has four: Jewish Funds for Justice, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, End the British Boycott of Israeli Academics, and Brit Tzedek v'Shalom. For the record, the available causes are not exclusively Jewish; IRC is represented, so is Save Darfur, and the list goes on.

According to the facebook "about" page "Donations to causes can benefit over a million registered 501(c)(3) nonprofits." The way it works is that a facebook member puts a/several causes on their profile page. They then recruit others to do the same, and also to donate money. Money is donated via credit card (you get an electronic receipt). 95% goes to the non-profit, 3.5% to the credit card company, and 1.5% to Project Agape, which provides support for the application. (More information at MYDD)

Allan Benamer of Non-Profit Tech Blog points out that being a part of facebook, in whatever capacity, is a huge business advantage. In this specific capacity, as the facilitator of "causes" they have the ability to leverage the entire charitable giving of the facebook membership through the site. There is currently no other non-profit alternative. Ahhri of Ari Says points out that this facebook application is the "ultimate in positive peer pressure."

And here is where my pessimistic critique comes in. At first I saw the causes application and was really excited by the possibilities. Non-profits can raise money directly from young people, get out their message, and create a coalition, all with very little/no overhead. They can take the raw numbers of people who have added the cause, and be able to say that the represent a certain constituency. Unfortunately what I've seen is that the causes, by and large, have just become an extension of the "groups" function. A statement of belief, with very little action.

For instance, the Human Rights Campaign has over 12,000 members, yet only $712 has been donated to date. From what I can see (I haven't added any applications, I don't want their creators to have access to my personal information) the numbers are the same across the causes. Many people join, some recruit friends, very few actually donate/raise any money.

It seems again that my generation has proved to be (so far) all talk and no action. Even when we bring the mountain very close, we can't manage to take (much) action.

Last Dream, I Promise

At least for now.

In last night's dream CJ was called up for miluim (reserve army duty in Israel). As he got dressed in his uniform (apparently he's in Nahal) I was crying hysterically. This is suprising for two reasons, primarily that I am not a big crier, and secondly that CJ is not Israeli. One of his grandmothers is, so I guess that could have been confusing me.

Also, with the exception of it being located in Israel, this scene exactly replicates one from The Beautiful and the Damned, which I just finished reading. Clearly I need to stop reading right before bed.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

For Once I Disagree With Slate

According to Seth Stevenson of Slate, the alien anti-pot ads are the best anti-drug ads ever.

Now, I've seen these ads, and I agree that they don't commit either of the cardinal sins of drug ads:
1) no melodramatic scare tactics (accidentally shooting your friend, running someone over, etc)
2) teenagers aren't really worried that sitting on a couch for a long time will ruin their lives

However, nor do I believe that they are effective. He suggests that the ads "pick at the insecurities" of pot smokers, that pot makes them less interesting, and less desirable to be around. I disagree. I watched the ad and thought "only someone who is currently high can understand this" or "I am not sure that I'd leave my boyfriend for an alien, even if he smoked pot all the time."

I don't know that many kids who would be disappointed in their friends for smoking pot. I also don't know that many who smoke around their significant others, if that person has expressed a preference for a pot-free environment. Granted, these are anecdotal points, but the ads just seem silly and bizarre.

None of the pot-smokers that I know have been in any way affected by these ads. Except to say "wow, the creators must have been on pot."

Blog Apathy, More Dreams

After a few days of carrying this on my own I've been struck with blog apathy; also general apathy. I have zero desire to do anything other than sleep.

This is probably also related to the number of nightmares I've been having (two last night alone). Despite the fact that I own a stuffed tiger, he, unlike Hobbes, does not come alive when other people aren't looking, making him less useful for the fight against nightmares.

Of the two that I had last night, the first was pretty obviously an anxiety dream about my new job. I had to go to China on business and I forgot to bring any clothing. I was reminded by a group of major financial figures who were sitting at the airport on one of those bleachers that are provided at little league baseball games. I was really anxious, until I realized that I could probably buy clothes in China. Still, I was very nervous until I gave my ticket to the security personnel, then I woke up.

Like this, except not at Christmastime.

The second one was a bit stranger. (warning: and also graphic)I dreamt that I was fighting with some guy, whom I knew in the dream, but don't recognize in real life. We were physically fighting, joking at first, and then it became clear that he wished to do me harm, so I began to fight frantically. I am not a small person, but he was clearly winning. At some point I was about to scream, so he put his hand over my mouth, and I bit down on it. I somehow severed his thumb which stayed in my mouth. At that point I completely freaked out and woke up.

I briefly considered climbing into one of my roommates' beds, but as it was 6:30am it seemed like that might not go over so well for me. I can just imagine that conversation:

The Roommate: Um, Annie, what are you doing?
Me: I had a nightmare
R:Ok. That doesn't really explain why you are in my (twin) bed.
Me: I was scared.
R: Can you be scared in the living room?
Me: No, I'm allergic to our couch.
R: Oooook. How long are you planning to stay here?
Me: Just until it's time to get up.
R: (sighing) You are a bowl full of crazy.

Maybe my cousin will take me in.

Apartment Hunting, Part III

Last night the roommate and I visited two beautiful apartments. We worked with a broker (from the "no-fee" section of Craigslist) who was, of course, Israeli. We figured that out pretty early on, and he was a bit surprised when we understood his Hebrew phone conversations. Oops.

The landlord (and his staff, made up entirely of his relatives) was also an Israeli, and we even got to hear a negotiation between an Australian and the landlord. In Hebrew that was almost as good as ours (not a good sign). Turns out that both apartments were already spoken for, so now we're getting a little bit discouraged. Anyone own a building/apartment on the UWS that wants to provide housing for us? We are nice girls, and won't throw (too many) loud parties. We promise.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Jews Love: Father's Day

To start off, I did in fact call my Father, gave him a present (via my Mom), and sent him an inappropriate e-card which he loved. However, as my Father is currently South of the Mason-Dixon line and I am not, I celebrated it in the traditional way. By going to an Idan Raichel concert with all of the other unloved children.

Jack posted Haveil Havelim #121, a Father's Day edition, which I really cannot top (obviously). Rabbi Eric Eisenkramer, the Fly Fishing Rabbi shares memories of, what else, fly fishing with his father. The post is charming, and almost makes me wish that I knew how to fish. Almost. SM Schwartz of Seattle Jew posts a picture of his father. It made me consider doing the same, so here is my microsoft paint version of my dad:

My Father is going to kill me if he sees this.

On a less serious note, PhunkyMonkey has a list of "Top Ten Things Overheard in Jewish History Re: Father's Day," which is cute and amusing. And also taken directly from without attribution.

At any rate, I am tired of this post, so I hope that you all had a Happy Father's day.

Jewbiquitous Outing: Idan Raichel Concert

As Harley is still in Tennessee, I decided that I too should be seeing live music. Fortunately this Sunday's Concert in the Park's lineup included one of my favorite Israeli musical groups: The Idan Raichel Project. For those of you who are unaware of the Idan Raichel Project, I have provided a video of one of my favorite songs, Bo'i.

The Idan Raichel project is, according to their website, a compilation of about 70 artists from different ethnic and musical backgrounds (all Jewish/Israeli) whom Idan invited to perform with him. There is a strong Ethiopian and Middle-Eastern influence on many of the songs, for instance in Bo'i the male vocalist is singing in Amharic, the language of Ethiopia.

Anyway, the Concerts in the Park people put together a very interesting line-up. It was supposed to be Tiken Jah Fkoly, Idan Raichel Project, and hosted by DJ Kadafi. The theme being, I think, African music. According to what I think DJ Kadafi said (he was speaking in French a lot of the time) one of the acts was missing and replaced by some other Reggae artist. I think. There were also a few opening acts like Rashida Wallace, and a duo of African rappers who seemed to have their timing a bit off.

The scene was super-bizarre. DJ Kadafi kept trying to call out to his "African Brothers and Sisters" who I'd say made up about 5% of the audience. The rest appeared to be American or Israeli Jews. Although standing near me were three men who I think were Ethiopian Jews (they were doing the shoulder dances that are indigenous to Ethiopia, and chatting with a few Orthodox girls) who seemed to be having a great time. It makes me wonder what the non-Jewish demographic thought of the scene. At one point DJ Kadafi was calling out African nations to get people to respond (could he not see from the stage that he was facing out onto an almost entirely white crowd?) and when he called out "Rwanda" a group of three women in front of me went nuts. Otherwise the response was tepid, at best. Until, of course, he called out "Sudan" and exhorted the entire crowd to make some noise for Sudan. Not sure what that accomplished.

Unfortunately, due entirely to my own idiocy I spent a little too much time in the sun (read: six hours) so when Idan Raichel came on at 5:00, I wasn't feeling so well. By 5:30 I was actually ill and had to leave, which was sad for me. I did, however get to see Im Telech performed.

Naturally I called CJ and held the phone up so that he could hear it. All in all it was a great time, a picnic lunch, live music, friends, and some nice suntan. As I always say, if you haven't gotten heat stroke, you haven't been having enough fun. That isn't what I say at all.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Messianic Jews in Israel

Who knew? After watching the video (below) I'm not sure how I feel about it. I'm all for religious freedom, but after my personal encounters with Messianic Jews (and those of my friends) it is a bit uncomfortable for me to see that they have 15 congregations in Jerusalem.

I wonder if they try to evangelize, the report says that they don't, but it's a bit hard for me to believe.

Also, their practice looks just like that of the American Christians I know.

An Open Letter: Gawker

Dear Gawker,

I have been a fan of your for a long time, however, you have recently removed my favorite feature "Bloggorhea." I realize that the name was somewhat distasteful, and that the feature was probably very work-intensive, but how am I to find out about new, scandalous blogs?

You have brought great things into my life (and my Google Reader). I will list, but not link to them (because really, do I want strangers with scandalous lives to find my blog?):

-Irish and Jew
- Fake Jew (now defunct)
- Amish in the City
- Cajun Boy
- WaiterRant
- Barmaid Blog
- Dishalicious

Oh, Gawker, what am I to do?

Also, you've been really, really mean lately. And not so funny. You should probably work on that.

Warmest Regards,

Jews Love: The J-Blogosphere

Actually, not so much love today.

Two articles have been somewhat recently published about the J-Blogosphere: one in the Forward, and one, in April, in the International Herald Tribune. Both articles cast Richard Silverstein as an injured party, a victim of the mean, uncivil blogosphere. It seems clear to me that he was the victim of at least one troll, but hey, who hasn't been?

At any rate, these two articles have caused a great deal of discussion in the J-blogosphere. Mobius re-posted some parts of the Forward piece both on Jewschool and on Orthodox Anarchist. Two contributors to Jewlicious have posted responses, The Middle focuses on the Forward's piece, while CK's later post reminds readers about the Herald Tribune's article. Both Jewlicious pieces point out that Silverstein, and some other Jewish bloggers who claim to have been victimized have, if not engaged in the same type of behavior, then something like it. These behaviors include, but are not limited to: removing the comments of those with different opinions, uncivil comments to commenters on one's own site, uncivil comments on someone else's site, and changing the text of what a commenter has written.

I have several thoughts about this:

1) As POLJ said a few months back, the J-blogosphere shouldn't BE the news. While that's a bit meta, I agree. I understand that bloggers will always have disagreements, that it is easy to "type mad" and then make a comment that you can't erase, and that something, once said can't be taken back. Really, I get it. There are a number of individuals involved in this thing we call the blogosphere, and everyone has feelings. But really, when we're being written up in the press (mainstream AND Jewish) for incivility, it feels like a chillul Hashem. Anyone can wander into the J-blogosphere, and we put things up for everyone to see. We really are representing the Jewish community. It seems to me, then, that bloggers (especially those whose blogs have a Jewish-themed name) have a responsibility to think not just about their own feelings, but how their comments/posts will affect the perception of the Jewish community at large.

2) Comparatively, the sniping and other behavior recorded in these articles and the subsequent posts is rather mild. While it isn't nice, by any stretch of the imagination as bad as what happens in the general blogosphere. Brittany Gilbert, blogger for a Tennessee TV station, in her blog post of resignation gives some examples of the comments that made her feel like she could no longer continue to blog. And they are awful. Recently, another female blogger, Kathy Sierra (who wrote about the fairly inoffensive subject of technology) had to cancel a speaking engagement due to threats of death, and rape. Again, this seems to make the J-blogosphere's controversy pale by comparison.

3) I realize that I can't have it both ways (that it is bad, and isn't THAT bad), and that I have engaged in writing about the J-blogosphere, and that I sound somewhat preachy. I know. I don't mean to discount the hurt feelings that people have as a result of trolls, and I understand the desire to respond, but really, can't we be grown-ups? If someone leaves an awful comment, don't respond to it. Why engage with them? If someone on the streets of New York City said something awful to you would it make sense to confront them? No, you keep walking and try to put it out of your head. Or, complain ad nauseum to your "real" friends. But why do we need to air this dirty laundry on the blogosphere?

I Had a Dream

Which was in no way prophetic, I don't think.

Last night I dreamed that a whole bunch of bloggers from the j-blogosphere were all sitting together in a high school gymnasium. It may even have been my high school gymnasium, but I don't think so. I recognized a lot of people, either from their pictures, because I know them in person, or, in a few cases, inexplicably, but no one recognized me.

People were sitting on either side of the gym, and there was a clear path down the middle. As I was walking I passed Orieyenta, who was wearing a pink NYC sweatshirt and jeans and sitting with PhD. PhD, for the record, in my imagination looks a lot like POLJ. Anyway, Orieyenta didn't recognize me (for obvious reasons, we've never met) so I went over to talk to her. On her other side was a guy wearing a green polo shirt who looked vaguely Asian, was very friendly, and joined our conversation. Just as we started to chat, and I revealed my identity, I woke up.

Bizarre, right?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Idiot Move of the Day

I had to call an 1-800 number, so I did it from my work phone (figuring it wouldn't cost them anything, and I didn't want to use up my cell minutes).

I must have dialed incorrectly, because at first I was surprised by the enthusiasm of the male voice recording on the other end. Until he said " for hot one-on-one, man-on-man action call..." at that point I hung up. Blushing like crazy. I hope that I don't have to explain that one.

Needless to say, I will not be using my work phone for personal calls again anytime soon.

Apartment Hunting, Continued

Here's a little background.

The roommate and I have been trawling Craigslist's "no fee" apartment section, and came across an add that looked good. Actually it looked too good to be true. $1100/month for a two bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side with "marble bath." I figured why not, so I emailed the guy.

He responded saying that he is in London, and he needs $1100 (security deposit) to come back and show the apartment. Needless to say, the roommate and I were a little sketched out. I have tried to say that I'd love to see the place, but I can't wire money to London in good conscience without having "met a real human being, or seeing the apartment." In response I've had several strange emails from the guy.

The latest (my comments in italic):

Hello again,
This is 100% legit and true, there is no way for scam or something like that for God sake really? no way?, I do understand your concerns, and it's normal but it's notmy case. Imagine, only my flight back will cost me arround 900 usd, and I'm paying that from my own pocket. And that's why I need something on my hand... If you don't like it, then I will refund your money. But there is no way for you not to like this apt.

I don't need that money for my flight, I need them as a security deposit. I'm working here and I have to talk with my job manager to have a free time...I'm not dooing that without nothing on my hand...

UK Phone Number: [redacted] - anytime Thank you...[redacted]

My Concerns:
1) I checked Orbitz, and if you flew tomorrow, you could get a flight (round-trip) for as cheap as $660.
2) Wiring money to a foreign country is sketchy. Always.
3) Whenever someone has to tell you that something is "legit" it probably isn't. I firmly believe that if someone has to tell you some characteristic about themselves, they probably don't have it (ie, "I'm very funny").

The roommate suggested that we ask him to FedEx the keys to someone so that they can show us the apartment. I'm just about ready to write this off as a strange, if uniquely New York, experience.

Getting Ready for the Hate Mail

So, David Bogner of Treppenwitz posted the below video with the comment "I have no words."

And as unpopular as it will make me, I do have a couple of words. I'll try to keep my comments as short as possible so that those who wish to send me angry, angry messages can start doing so in the immediate future:

1) He says that "no Israelis are civilians" and gives a few reasons for that, one being that they "all" vote for a government which is oppressive. That is obviously false, not all Israelis vote any one way, and it is clear that many do not, in fact support their government's policies re: Palestinians. He does, however, make an interesting point that because all Israelis have done military service, they cannot qualify as civilians. Now, I know that a lot of Israelis do not, in fact do military service, but the argument is interesting nonetheless.

2) Joseph/Yussef traded one right-wing fanatical movement for another. We find this threatening because a) he discarded Judaism, and b) he discarded it for a movement with ties to terrorism. I understand both of those, but if you talked to some of the right-wing Ultra-Orthodox about their deeply held beliefs, I think that some of them would spout things that are just as threatening and horrifying.

2a) Yussef comments that his interviewer should convert to Islam so that he can die a Muslim and thereby be accepted into Heaven. The (Roman Catholic) interviewer seems concerned and a bit turned off by this, except that Roman Catholicism also has a tenet of faith that the unconverted/unbaptised go to Hell. True, it isn't the worst part of Hell, but still, Hell.

3) Did no one listen to his comment about how Arabs/Muslims don't ride Egged buses because they should know better, and that anyone who chooses to take that risk is taking his life into his own hands? It is an interesting insight into the idea of acceptable casualties, and teaches us that in the furthest right reaches of this movement, losses, of not just one, but many are acceptable and allowable to further religious and political goals. For someone who is so religious, this is a very businesslike model of acceptable loss.

All in all, while I find Yussef/Joseph to be bizarro and fanatical, I'm not sure that he would even be getting an interview if he hadn't grown up in Brooklyn. And, for the record, he mentions that he "was never very close" with his parents. Could that be a potential reason why he was so ready for conversion? So might the lesson be that we should develop close familial and community relationships with our offspring to keep them from fanaticism? Or, then again, maybe not.

Today's Absurdities

Thanks to the Pedant, this is absolutely bizarre.

I mean, it is bizarre without him, but he sent it to me.

For the record, I also love Obama (although not really in a physical way), but after a conversation with CJ I am seriously worried about his lack of experience. He's a junior senator who was elected when it came to light that Jack Ryan is a skeezy guy who forced his wife to go to strip clubs. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of his abilities. Although his name is significantly more awesome than that of any other candidate.


15 years ago my grandfather zl"t* bought me an Israel bond. I didn't realize this until a month or two ago when my mother sent me the matured bond, and suggested that I cash it.

I love the super pro-industrialist imagery across the top. A plane, a ship, a factory, and some cranes.

I actually had a lot of difficulty with this. I wrestled with the idea of re-investing it, but I wondered what my loan of $500 would do for Israel. I debated giving it to charity, but after reading We Wish to Inform You, and What is the What, I am dubious of the efficacy of international aid organizations, especially those who give microloans. For instance, Compartamos, a Mexican micro-lender started out as non-profit, complete with seed funds from philanthropists. In 2000 or so it went profit, and raised interest rates to 100%. It just went IPO, and now they stand to make a whole lot of money. From micro-lending. This just doesn't sit right with me.

At any rate, one of my friends' mother came up with the best option. Cash it out, and spend it either in Israel, or on Israeli products. I like this idea a lot, as I firmly believe that it is better to "teach a man to fish" than to give him charity. It does, however, present me with some difficulty. I'm not going to Israel anytime soon (stupid chag eating up my vacation days), so I am wondering what the best way would be to find Israeli products (or charities, some of them are great) where the money goes straight to Israel. Suggestions welcomed.

As an aside, part of the process of redeeming my bond required a copy of my birth certificate. I can't remember if I had ever seen it before, but it was kind of neat; a historical document of my life. The handwriting looks like my father's, but as it is a photocopy I'm not sure. Nothing deep to say about it, except that it is pretty neat.

*ZL"T stands for "zichron le'tov" or "may he/she be remembered for good." It is a suffix often added on to the name/mention of people who have passed away. Also, in this case "for good" does not mean "forever" but instead "in a good way."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

See You Next Week!

Dear Everyone,
I'm off to Bonnaroo!!!!!!! Annie will keep you aptly entertained for the next week, I'm sure. Think happy thoughts, damn the man, and don't forget to brush your teeth and eat plenty of chocolate.


Mea Culpa Update

You may recall that a few weeks ago, I posted about my own struggle with misogyny and my fear that I unfairly and disproportionately judge women. I want to clarify, however, that I do not hate women like the villainous Kathleen Parker does. I link to her to draw the distinction between someone whose work and way of thinking is dangerous to women and myself. I hope that, although I worry about my attitude toward women and I desperately want to ensure that I treat them respect and the same judgement that I treat men, I never ever explicitly dislike women as much as Parker's words implies she does.

A Public Service Announcement

For all of you who are going to Bonnaroo, my mother (DaMom) has provided the following public service announcement:

Okay, now you need to know that parts of Tennessee are bear country.
As a result, I've attached a link to dealing with bears, as in surviving an
evening of coexistence with the unruly beasts:

Black Bears are Indigenous to Tennessee

Also: Do you have our new home phone number tattooed on your tushie?
You need to write it down right now and stick it everywhere a search party might
look. And don't think that because The Police are headlining this gig that
I feel any more secure.

You've heard it from my mom, folks, watch out for bears in Tennessee and don't forget to tattoo your parents' phone number on your tushie. Other than that, have a good time and keep your nose clean.

A Gift for The Rooster

Hat tip: the Pedant
Original Source: The New York Times

Full Disclosure

The penultimate question: what should we tell our parents? I don't know about you, but I tell my parents everything, within reason. For example, they know about my blog (hi, DaMom and Daddio!), they know about Prettyboy (they met him last weekend), they know about my apartment (but they have no idea how messy it is, until now), and they know that I'm headed to Bonnaroo this weekend (which reminds me: I've been busy preparing to go and I will be gone until next week; try to hold it together, without me). They don't know what I had for breakfast this morning (half a bagel with non-fat cream cheese), what color nail polish I'm wearing (none), and the details of my love life (beyond having met my boyfriend).

Part of becoming an adult is learning where to draw the line between sharing (and developing a close, equal relationship), oversharing (which gets us into Portnoy's Complaint territory), and becoming a mute. They trust me to make good decisions for myself, in part because they trust that they've raised me to be a responsible, respectful, well-rounded human being. And that trust is also a vote of confidence in who I am as a person. I may not always make choices they understand, but they respect me enough to make a point (if they have a legit issue) or to let me be, so I can reap the repercussions of my decisions on my own. They also know that, as a separate person, I have different likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams, and desires and tastes than they. Given that, if I make choices they would never make (such as going to Bonnaroo, for example), they smile and allow me to live my life as I see fit (even if beneath that smile is a thinly masked look of horror that says, "Really? Four days camping outside in the mud with no showers and only Port-a-Potties? Where will she plug in her hair dryer?")

It's art!

What inspired me to wax poetic on the issue of disclosure and parental support? This piece of crap advice in today's Ask Amy. It's an unusual choice to pose nude on the internet, yes, but you've said, Confused and Grieving, that your daughter is a smart girl who graduated college with honors. Could it be that she knows the risks of posing nude and is doing it not for the money, but because she's an exhibitionist or sees it as self-expression? Or, if she is doing it for the money, is it possible that she made this choice understanding the repercussions of her actions and chose to do it regardless?

I understand that you're hurt that she didn't share this part of her life with you and that you feel rejected and scammed. I know that you are afraid for her future, given that once photos are up, they can never come down. Perhaps you're even afraid for her safety, given the increase in internet stalkers and the vitriol that sometimes accompanies internet interaction. Instead of going to her as if you've lost her or as if she's an idiot who cannot possible have considered the repercussions of this choice, how about you see it as a choice. Your daughter made a choice. If you're concerned for all the reasons you mentioned, talk to her, honestly, about how hurt you are that she thought she couldn't come to you (given your response here, though, are you surprised?). Recognize, also, that part of the intensity of your reaction is your realization that your daughter, as a full-grown adult, will make choices you don't understand and will not tell you everything. Nor do you have the right to know everything. So if you're worried about her, drop the overtone of judgement, the fire and brimstone, the "grieving" (!?), and talk to her like the intelligent adult she is.

Private to DaMom and Daddio: Don't worry, I'm not posing nude for internet pics. Although, according to Annie, even if I were, it wouldn't keep me out of the army. But I'm not. Nor am I applying for the army. I'm glad we cleared the air.

Update by Annie: check out this article in HuffPo (thanks Pedant) about athletes taking off their clothes for money.

Jews Love: Illegal Immigrants

Historically Jews have been immigrants. We've been expelled, and invited, and expelled, and invited, and expelled, and tolerated, for a long time. Maybe it's this long history, and the fact that a good portion of Jews worldwide (6 million or in America, and another 5 or 6 in Israel) are relatively new immigrants, that makes me extremely sympathetic to the plight of more recent immigrants.

Steven E. Landsburg has an article in Slate about the economic impact of immigration. Two years ago Mimi in New York wrote an article for the Village Voice on How To Become an Illegal Immigrant. Landsburg focuses on legal immigrants, but if you look at the economics alone, illegal immigrants* help our economy in numerable ways:

1) While NY Times claims that "affluent white families" are leading the baby boom, other sources (like the Immigration News Blog) point out that "The number of births to Mexican women increased 28 percent from 2000 to 2005, a time in which the city’s overall births were down." And we need to have a positive population growth rate. Despite issues in world overpopulation, societies that do not have positive growth rates are having a great deal of difficulty. Look at Japan (piece from UMW), for instance. Not enough doctors, an increasingly elderly-heavy society with few caregivers, and many other related issues.

2) There is a lot of talk about how illegal immigrants decrease wages by increasing competition. Thing is, a lot of the jobs they do are jobs that Americans don't want. In January of this year Daniel Gross wrote two pieces for Slate on jobs that Americans won't do. They include working as sailors on cargo ships, long-haul truckers, agricultural laborers, landscaping, entry-level construction, and the list goes on. Also, again, refer to Landsburg's article for a breakdown of how much impact they actually have on our society and earning power.

3) Myth: Immigrants take a lot of social services, and funding. Fact: Many illegal immigrants use stolen social security numbers at their place of work. This means that while they are paying payroll (and other) taxes, they don't get a refund. In many cases they cannot take advantage of Medicaid, Medicare, and other government entitlement programs, yet they contribute to the general coffers. An influx of immigrants, with their earning and tax potential, certainly helps move our stagnant social security system. Also: illegal immigrants are consumers, which means that they pay all regressive taxes, like sales tax, tolls, and more, once again contributing to systems whose services from which they disproportionately do not benefit.

4) Now I recognize that this point is pure rhetoric, but: we are a country based on immigration. Some of our greatest gains were made when our borders were either porous, or less restricted than they are now. With new immigrants come new blood, new ideas, and people with a hunger for success. Many American-born Americans have a sense of entitlement. We don't work as hard, aren't as ambitious, and, are generally spoiled. If we wish to continue our economic dominance we need to either regain the traits that made us great (hard work, entrepreneurship, etc) or we need to import people that have them.

Obviously there are some security and other concerns about opening our borders to illegal immigrants. I understand them. But right now for every immigrant who is caught at the border, two make it in. We clearly need to change our frame of reference, and while the new legislation granting amnesty is interesting, I think that it doesn't really address all of the issues.

* I have chosen to use the term "illegal immigrant" instead of "undocumented immigrant" because while a person can never be illegal, their immigration was, technically, outside the bounds of American law.