Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Lucky ENoB 7

I think it's time to lighten up the ENoB discussion for a bit. Let's talk Christmas. ;-) Everyone celebrates it in one fashion or another. The religious go to church and rejoice in the birth of their savior. The secular spend time with family and celebrate their blessings. The pagans have Yule. The Jews get together and go out for Chinese food. Fact is, the country more or less closes down and so people take time out from their normal grind, even if it is just for a couple of days. So, which is your preferred method of observance? Do you like to stay local and enjoy friends and immediate family? Do you like to travel and see those distant from you? And by travel, I mean spend at least one night sleeping away from home. Or do you prefer a combination? Split your celebration time between remote and local? Either, neither, or both?

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Monday, December 19, 2005

The Most Famous Reindeer of All

So, we picked Josh up at school on Friday. He had some paper reindeer antlers on his head and his nose had some bright red face paint on it. "Who are you supposed to be?" I asked him, even though I knew the answer. He stuck his chin out proudly and told me. "I'm Redolph the rude nosed reindeer!"

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Friday, December 16, 2005

The Difference Between Christmas and Hanukkah

Disclaimer: This is not meant to be serious. I realize there are real and substantive differences between the two holidays and faiths. I also realize some people are sensitive about this sort of thing. If you are offended, I apologize. If you are mock-offended, I mock-apologize.

1. Christmas is one day, same day every year, December 25. Jews also love December 25th. It's another paid day off work. We go to movies and out for Chinese food and Israeli dancing.

Chanukah is 8 days. It starts the evening of the 24th of Kislev, whenever that falls. No one is ever sure. Jews never know until a non-Jewish friend asks when Chanukah starts, forcing us to consult the calendar so we don't look like idiots. We all have the same calendar, provided free with a donation from the World Jewish Congress, the kosher butcher, the local Sinai Memorial Chapel (especially in Florida) or other Jewish funeral home.

2. Christmas is a major holiday. It's easily in the top 5 in Christianity.

Chanukah is a minor holiday that probably wouldn't crack the top ten. It has the same theme as most Jewish holidays. They tried to kill us, we survived, let's eat.

3. Christians get wonderful presents such as jewelry, perfume, stereos.

Jews get practical presents such as underwear, socks, or the collected works of the Rambam, which looks impressive on the bookshelf.

4. There is only one way to spell Christmas.

No one can decide how to spell Chanukah, Chanukkah, Chanukka, Channukah, Hanukah, Hannukah, etc.

5. Christmas is a time of great pressure for husbands and boyfriends. Their partners expect special gifts.

Jewish men are relieved of that burden. No one expects a diamond ring on Chanukah.

6. Christmas brings enormous electric bills.

Candles are used for Chanukah. Not only are we spared enormous electric bills, but we get to feel good about not contributing to the energy crisis.

7. Christmas carols are beautiful...Silent Night, O Come All Ye Faithful.

Chanukah songs are about dreidels made from clay or having a party and dancing the hora. Of course, we are secretly pleased that many of the beautiful carols were composed and written by our tribal brethren. And don't Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond sing them beautifully?

8. A home preparing for Christmas smells wonderful. The sweet smell of cookies and cakes baking. Happy people are gathered around in festive moods.

A home preparing for Chanukah smells of oil, potatoes, and onions. The home, as always, is full of loud people all talking at once.

9. Christian women have fun baking Christmas cookies.

Jewish women burn their eyes and cut their hands grating potatoes and onions for latkas on Chanukah. Another reminder of our suffering through the ages.

10. The players in the Christmas story have easy to pronounce names such as Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.

The players in the Chanukah story are Antiochus, Judah Maccabee, and Matta whatever. No one can spell it or pronounce it. On the plus side, we can tell our friends anything and they believe we are wonderfully versed in our history.

11. Many Christians believe in the virgin birth.

Jews think, "Yossela, Bubela, snap out of it. Your woman is pregnant, you didn't sleep with her, and now you want to blame G-d? Here's the number of my shrink".

12. In recent years, Christmas has become more and more commercialized.

The same holds true for Chanukah, even though it is a minor holiday. It makes sense. How could we market a major holiday such as Yom Kippur? Forget about celebrating. Think observing. Come to synagogue, starve yourself for 27 hours, become one with your dehydrated soul, beat your chest, confess your sins, a guaranteed good time for you and your family. Tickets a mere $200 per person.

Better stick with Chanukah!

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Injustice Department

Courtesy of the Washington Post comes this story about more of the administration's political appointees at work. Apparently, they have been stripping dissent out of voting rights issues that have come before the DoJ. States with a history of discrimination have to get voting rights legislation precleared before they can even vote on it. The DoJ is supposed to look at it and determine if minorities would be disenfranchised. Under the DoJ's watchful eye, the
Texas redistricting was allowed to move forward, as was a Georgia law requiring voters to show driver's licenses to be allowed to vote. These were sharply criticized by many DoJ employees who investigated them. Their dissent was stripped out of the final report, and the appointees OKed them. Fortunately, the courts have declared the Georgia one unconstitutional. Let's hope the judiciary committee takes up the Texas redistricting.

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Back To The Front

I have returned from the wedding in Florida and caught up on work, e-mail, and blog reading. It was unseasonably cold and the wedding was outdoors, but a ood time was had by all! I'll write it up at some nebulous unspecified date. Which means you'll never see it. ;-) Now I can resume my personal War on Christmas. Sorry. I know I need to let it go. It's just become so pervasive. I'm tired of being told that I have some secret agenda to stomp out Jesus. Well, in another month, it'll all be over. Then we'll need a new reason why the Christian majority is being marginalized. Until then, Merry Christmas!

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Friday, December 09, 2005

ENoB VI - Six neithers laying

Well, I'm off for the weekend and may or may not have any posts until Tuesday. I'm going to Orlando for my good friend Allen's (Rabbi Moyshe) wedding. No, he's not really a rabbi, but we have been know in years past as "The Rappin' Rabbis", so it fits. Feel free to keep the comment threads going and I'll weigh in when I can.

In the meantime, here is this week's ENoB... It's inspired by a somewhat scary bumper decal that I saw on my way in to work this morning. It had the silhouette of a cross and the words "Pray. Obey. And Trust." surrounding it. I searched the web for an image to no avail. It didn't scare me because of the cross. I have no problem with people displaying their faith or beliefs. There's nothing wrong with being proud of who you are. This is different however. By putting this on their car, they are hoping you will read it and somehow be transformed to their way of thinking. And this particular sentiment is creepy. Pray to God, obey those with authority over you, and trust unquestioningly. It's mindless sloganeering and more of the whole dissent is treason pap.

Now, it's not scary to me because I think it will convince someone. I don't. As a good friend once said, "You can't convince anyone from the back of your bumper." If you see it and agree, you'll likely honk in support or at least have a warm feeling inside. If you disagree, it'll make you mad or disgusted or somesuch. It's just another easy way for the puppeteers to foment division and polarization.

So, the question this week (which is not as well formed as I'd like it to be) is: Bumper stickers and window decals; Divisive? Entertaining? Either. Neither. Or Both.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

More Toilet Humor

Quite literally this time. I did a major bathroom cleaning over the weekend. Josh's accuracy still leaves a bit to be desired so I find I have to clean more often. I decided to make things a little easier on myself and got one of those in-the-tank cleansing tablets. I plopped them in the tank right before we went out and forgot about it.

When we got home I heard a shout from the bathroom. Maya came running out. "What happened to the toilet?" she asked. She ran to the other bathroom and flushed. "What happened to our toilets!" She was a little panicked. "What do you mean?" I asked her, having forgotten my cleaning activities. "The water," she began, "is all blue!" I barely managed to keep a straight face. "It wasn't." I lied. "What did you do to it?" She was frantic. "I didn't do anything, Daddy!" Her mother likewise kept up the ruse. "Oh my goodness! It wasn't like that when we left."

Maya looked from one to the other of us with real concern on her face. The toilets were blue. "Wait a minute," she said. She walked over to the sink and slowly turned the handle, peering very closely at the spout. Clear water came out. "Whew!" she said. I couldn't hold it any more and laughed. "What's so funny?" I motioned her over to the toilet and took the lid off the tank. "I put that blue tablet in earlier. It helps keep it clean."

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Religious Conflicts Start Early

I used to have hope for the future. I used to believe that much of the intolerance and hate was from the older generation and that as the younger generation came into their own, it would star to go away. I am less certain of that nowadays. Children seem to be indoctrinated into intolerance at an early age. Perhaps it is just another part of children establishing social hierarchy. Dunno. I'm seeing it more now because Maya is in public school. When she was homeschooled, she tended to be around children whose parents had a somewhat different mindset. Some of the encounters with her schoolmates have been amusing. The latest one has been very upsetting to her, though...

She was at school last week when a girl named Lynnette asked her if she believed in God. She knew Maya was Jewish. Maya said that she did. Lynnette asked, "Well, do you believe in Jesus Christ?" Maya said no. "Then you don't believe in God." Lynnette replied smugly. Maya insisted that she did, but Lynnette just reiterated her points.

When Maya told me about it, she was practically in tears. Having been picked on for a variety of reasons including my faith when I was a child, my heart went out to her. She was upset because she didn't like how Lynnette was treating her, but also because she had nobody there to stick up for her and she didn't know what to say. I had a few suggestions. "Tell her 'I don't poke holes in your mythology. Don't criticize mine.' or how about 'You are using an unproven premise to support your conclusion. Circular reasoning is a very ineffective debate technique.' " My wife stepped in with a less antagonistic suggestion, "Just ignore her. You don't need her permission to believe in God."

I hope that works, but I was struck by how young the proselytizing can start. I have no problem with anyone believing in their religion. However, just because YOU believe it does not make it a fact. And trying to control other people based on religion is why the world is as screwed up as it is right now. I think that is why I'm so reactionary to majority religions displaying symbology on public property. It's just one more thing to make kids want to conform. Now, a Christmas tree is a far cry from a frieze of the crucifixion, but how do you define the line?

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

It's another silly meme quiz!

Sun King
You scored 26 shyness, 13 bitterness, 62 moral, and 37 eccentric!
You are the Sun King, from Abbey Road! You are probably very popular within your circle of friends. You are calm, collected, and wise, but you also have a tremendous sense of humor. You party and have fun, but you don't neglect your responsibilities.
"Here comes the sun king
Everybody's laughing
Everybody's happy
Here comes the sun king"
My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
You scored higher than 0% on shyness
You scored higher than 0% on bitterness
You scored higher than 99% on moral
You scored higher than 46% on eccentric
Link: The Beatles Song Character Test written by medical_cannoli.

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Chin up, lad

Just thought I'd post the latest in my health and fitness accomplishments. In addition to losing nearly 30 lbs, I am now able to do unaided chin-ups! In the past, I have needed to use a fitness machine that counters some of your weight so that you can do the exercise. I was only able to do three sets of two chin-ups, but I was able to do them. Never before in my life have I been able to do unaided chin-ups. So, woo hoo!

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Remember the time we...

I'm swiping this off Wombat's blog, but he told me to, so it's ok. Today's fun assignment is to post a memory of you and me. The catch is that this memory must be of something that never happened! :) So, yeah, it's a silly writing exercise and a lazy cop-out of a blog post, but that's what I feel like today. So there!

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Friday, December 02, 2005

ENoB V - One for the thumb

For this week's ENoB, we delve into that minefield that is the holiday season. We are living in a time when large groups of people are offended by the words "Merry Christmas" and an equal number feel oppressed by "Happy Holidays", yet both sides want to express good will and cheer. Quite a paradox. And it's pretty much everywhere. Check out this article in the Union Tribune. Now, in my mind, private businesses have the right to do whatever they want to do. The moment you bring government property or sponsorship into it, you are bound by the establishment clause. For example, my employer has a Christmas tree in the lobby of our offices. There is no menorah. No Kwanzaa symbols. And that is fine by me. It's his company. He can do as he sees fit. There is no law that says "wherever you find a Christian symbol, you must pair it with those of other religions". It does not harm me or my family in any tangible way. On the flip side, when the City of Encinitas holds a city parade, and calls it The Encinitas Christmas Parade, that is a problem. It suggests that Christianity has specific legal status over and above other religions. It uses public resources to celebrate a religious holiday. I think the problem is that we have two Christmases and they overlap. There is a secular one and a religious one, but it is impossible to separate them. But we need to narrow this phenomenon down to a single question. Tricky. I think secular, religious, or both is too easy. Let's go with the political angle. Are attempts to restrict the government's use of Christian religious symbology an "assault on Christianity"? A fair and reasonable enforcement of he separation of church and state? Either, neither, or both?

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

So, You Wanna...

It doesn't matter what you wannna do. Odds are there is some documentation somewhere on it. And that's kind of the motif of this site. It's like an abridged "For Dummies" collection that is free and online. The topics are all over the map. There are fitness related ones, such as SoYouWanna Tone and Flatten Your Abs and SoYouWanna Run a Marathon. There are bizarre ones like SoYouWanna Get a Ferret. There are even career practical ones, like SoYouWanna Get a Short Story Published In the ones I sampled, the advice was simplistic and straightforward. This is not a place to go if you have already read extensively on the subject. But it does look like a good jumping off point. It will get you mind going in the right direction and sometimes give you links to more.

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