Thursday, January 26, 2006

Musings...just in general

Alright, this is going to be a pretentious college piece, about the sort of banal adolescent angst that everybody likes to pretend that they're unique in having, until they actually a) meet other people or b) read books. what? It's my blog, it gives me joy, so here goes.
I was sitting in class yesterday, listening the proffessor babble about Nietzsche, when I was suddenly and unexpectedly hit by a gushing wave of the thought: "Holy mackeroly, I'm surrounded by college students. What the heck am I doing here?" It was fascinating. I think that, at some level, I still think of myself as... eleventh grade. Tops. The whole college experience seems, at times, a joke, as if I am visiting an older sibling and sitting in on classes just for the thrill. As if everyone else there is somehow inexpressably older and wiser and more sophisticated. Their pretentions are adult pretentions, their vices are adult vices. I feel like some precocious kid, watching it all go by and wondering when I'm going to be all grown up too.
Which is crazy. I'm older than many of my acquaintances, including most of the people in my year (the year in Israel thing will do that). I am at least as intelligent as a good many of them, and I lack as many of their immaturities as I do their sophistications (I think the grammar of that sentence works. I have no patience to check it).
I put the whole thing down to my general method of dealing with reality. While everyone in my class was crying over leaving high school, I was shockingly blase. And the reason behind that is that it simply had not hit me. It did not even begin to hit me until a month into seminary. Seminary itself never started to become real, forget about getting over it. It was a glitch, a retreat, an anomaly. No wonder I can't come to terms with my being in college.
But at the same time, who says that's true? I mean, maybe I perceive reality just fine. Maybe I didn't get all het up over leaving high school 'cuz I just didn't care so very much. Maybe what I like to call glitches in my perceptions of reality are simply normal, and I just have to give them some name to account for the way they seem to clash with the way everyone else reacts. Maybe nothing ever hits anyone, or rather, was I have been feeling is hitting.
And the saddest thing about all of the above is that I have absolutely no patience for any of this sort of "look, I'm being deep" babble. I am, at heart, a pragmatist, which is why it annoys me so much to lapse into useless existential musings. But at the same time, I worry sometimes, because neither do I want to be one of those annoying people, who at forty still do not seem to have come to terms with what age they actually are.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Reflections on Nietzsche

Don't you wish that you were a philosopher? If your opinions are contradictory, then they are ironic; if they are evil, they are misinterpreted; if they are incoherent, illogical, or badly-written, then they are deep. This last is of the supreme importance- establish your work as the unique province of the intellectuals and they will trip over themselves justifying your genius. Do not be ashamed of your egotism nor your incoherence- the more you claim that your work can be understood only by the lofty few, the more your work will be lauded, loved and universally admired. Your semi-coherent babbling will become the gospel of the elite, because they know that very fact makes them elite; they will love your work not for itself, but for all of the wonderful things that it says about them, discuss it not because it is great, but because it makes them part of the class of people who discuss that sort of thing. Claim that you are perfect, and then you are, because any perceived imperfection would be an admission of incomplete understanding in an insufficiently deep reader. If you have any doubts of universal acceptance, do your best to insult the Institution, endorse hedonism, and massage your public's more ugly prejudices. Complete overthrow of Christianity is the minimum- see if you can do in all of morality at once. If your facts are wrong, people will admire your logic; if your logic is flawed, they will praise your perspective; if all else fails, they will turn to admiration of your style, celebrating every rhetorical trick as a triumph of literature.
The joy of liberal arts is that nothing is too meaningless to be profound, nothing too egotistical and subjective to be canonized, nothing too made-up to be Truth.

Friday, January 20, 2006


Robespierre rocks! In a paranoid, terroristic, spittle-frothing dictatorial, meglomaniac sort of way.
Today's Civ class was all about Robespierre and his... philosophy, I guess. It sort of boiled down to this: All you ought to care about is the public good. And there is only one Truth about what that is. Which you would know if you used your reason properly. So if you don't agree with me, then you are wrong. Which means you are corrupt and selfish. Which is counter-revolutionary. Die!
Awesome, isn't it? We were trying to figure out how he would deal with practical disagreements or mistakes. It's sort of like the scene at the end of Quest for the Holy Grail:

Robespierre: the best way to run the country?
Other person: I....don't know....Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! (as they drag him off the guillotine)
R: the best holiday?
Another: Um....wait, don't tell me... Easter?
R: No! The Festival of the Supreme Being!
Other: Aaaaaaaaaaaah!
R: WHAT...has eight wheels, but can only carry one person?
Another: Um....?
R: A pair of roller-skates!
Other: But that isn't even invented yet!
R: Are you saying I'm wrong?
Other: Aaaaaaaaaaaah!
R: I remind you of?
Another: Um...wait...God?
R: Right. Darn! Well....what number am I thinking of now?
Another: Oh, go shoot yourself in the chin

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Once again, proving the joy of nonsense. A site generates trivia, based on a name you put into it.

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Rashi!

  1. Rashi does not have toes.
  2. Two grams of Rashi provide enough energy to power a television for over twenty-three hours.
  3. Pound for pound, hamburgers cost more than Rashi!
  4. Rashi invented the wheel in the fourth millennium BC.
  5. Rashi can last longer without water than a camel can.
  6. Rashiicide is the killing of Rashi.
  7. Rashi was first discovered by Alexander the Great in India, and introduced to Europe on his return.
  8. Rashi can smell some things up to six miles away!
  9. Only one person in two billion will live to be Rashi.
  10. Rashi can't sweat.

The Signs of Campus

A man standing by the bookstore this afternoon, with a bushy white beard and a woolen hat. He carries a sign that says "Genital Integrity is a Human Right" (wha? you ask) and beneath it "Ethical Doctors say no to Circumcision."
Sometimes, all you can do is look away and bite your lip to keep from laughing. Just one question- I wonder if this man also holds that life is a Human Right and Ethical Doctors ought to say no to euthanasia.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Battle of Titans

A couple of days ago, heard on the radio (Forbes on Radio, actually) about the epic battle that is soon to take place between Google and Microsoft. Oooooh, it just makes me happy all over. I'm not even entirely sure why, except that I like competition, big corporations, and battles of wits, which this is definitely going to be. Much as I like Microsoft, I am glad that somebody is going to be beating them into shape. That is what capitalism is all about.
And even more so since all the people in Silicon Valley are whining about how this is going to inflate salaries and how google lures away the best people and everything. Such awesmosity. May the best man win.

Savage Goodness

Oh, that Michael Savage. Sometimes I wonder whether he exists for any purpose other than fueling blog posts. In the past hour, he issued forth a constant stream of silliness.
First, he berated somebody for not being enough in favor of national security stuff- "what, you want to wait until they blow up a baby store?" Yes, I also fear for the safety of the nation's baby stores.
Then there was various harrying of a movie producer. In addition to the normal leading, chatty questions, Savage inserted his own unique brand of hosting- five minute rants about how insane and annoying he (Savage) was. The poor producer. And then, with signature classiness, he cut him off in the middle of his answer to a caller's question- mid-sentence, in fact, to tell him that they only around thirty seconds left of the hour, which were all spent with Savage talking about him and the producer having dinner that evening. I mean, most hosts give a two-minute warning or ask them to just finish quickly. But Savage's secure little bubble wrap of ego keeps him above the petty niceties of the common man.
And then, best of all, he gave a short rant about Howard Stern's new radio show. How it was not radio, but garbage, how the man was a disgrace and stupid. It was almost too perfect to be true.

Monday, January 02, 2006

RCA Speech

The Lekutei Pshatim was advertising a speech about the Jewish perspective on international law, and, as I have little else to do with my time, I decided to go. So did Mother, Mike, and Dad, but this post is going to be mainly about me. For a change.
So what the ads neglected to say was that the thing was mainly a part of the RCA convention and therefore mostly for rabbis. As we walked in five minutes before it was supposed to begin, there were masses and masses of men in black suits (now that would make a great movie) sitting about listening to some telephone hook up thingy. There was one female, and thank goodness she was there or else I would not have realized that it was a mixed event. (I think she was the wife of one of the organizers). Later, more women trickled in and there was the actual speech. Very nice, good speech, very interesting actually. Then they announced a ten minute break followed by a speech about, and I quote, "Lighting the Menorah in the Shul". Grrrrrrr. There ought to be some sort of truth in advertising rule. Because if there had been maybe, just maybe, they would have mentioned the fact that it was a twenty minute speech followed by a chat about the role of the RCA for a shul rabbi. And therefore, maybe I would have guessed that all the WOMEN and actually, all of the laymen, were going to be leaving. And then maybe I wouldn't have been stuck all alone in the women's section, hoping that nobody would come along and yell at me. Which of course, they didn't, because they were all very nice people. The only -person who noticed me was one man who came over to offer source sheets. And then I had to sneak out of the speech after the shiur part, because I do not happen to be a shul rabbi or care all that much about the RCA. I don't think anyone noticed, even the speaker, who did not go to the effort of making eye contact with my half of the room, for which I was profoundly grateful, becuase that would have meant that he would be staring at me a lot.
But that is not the point of this rant, actually, inasmuch as it has a point. The point is that I wish that the organizers had made it clear exactly what each part of the process was going to involve, and exactly who was invited. I know that it might have been uncomfortable for them, but frankly, it's a lot more uncomfortable to cower on the women's section, hoping that you aren't accidently crashing an event that is not supposed to be mixed.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Fantasy Writing- Chapter 1

[I have just finished reading a certain fantasy book whose predictibility annoyed me so very much that it...inspired this novice's attempt at mockery. It is being composed extemporaneously, with little editing, so please give it a break.]

The morning was clear and blue, not unlike that fateful morning when he was four years old when his entire family, including the pets, had been brutally massacred by the evil, eeeeevil soldiers of the evil, eeeevil Lord Morduke, who had finished the brutal massacre by loudly commenting much fun it had been, just in case anyone might have been suspecting that they were only moderately evil or something like that. (It had run like this: "Duhhh....that was fun." "Yrk. Yuh." " killing." "...Yuh." "Huh, huh." "Snort." They may be evil, but they were not overly smart.)
As Captain Zerbu rose and began to dress, he cast his mind back to the way that he had escaped the massacre, spent years in the forest being brought up by mountain lions (geographically confused mountain lions) and discovering his uncanny magical abilities, before fleeing to the capital to offer his services to the new, extremely noble king in his fight against the evil, eeeeeevil Lord Morduke, following the massacre of the mountain lions.
"Urgent news, sir!" shouted his aide, running into the tent. "The evil ar-" "Evil, eeeeeevil armies, Ned. Always remember, two evils, the second one drawn out, like so: evil, eeeeeevil." "Yessir. The evil, eeeeeevil-" "Better." "-thank you, sir-armies of the enemy are quickly approaching. They outnumber us at least twenty to one and bear strange and fearsome weaponry." By then they could hear the first hissing of arrows around the command tent. "Don't despair, Ned." "Do you have a plan, sir?" "Well...yes, I do! Listen up..." But then an arrow slammed into his back, piercing a lung. He gasped and fought to maintain his balance. And then another one tore into his head and he died. Died. Not "badly wounded, but don't you worry, because he'll recover soon enough, with nothing more than a picturesque scar and a new-found determination." Not "And then he woke up in a clean white room with a beautiful nurse who will quickly become our love interest, since we have forgotten to give him one thus far, but hey, we didn't have all that much time, okay?" Not even "But not until he delivered some touching last words." Just died. And so did Ned, by the way. And everyone else in the camp, because frankly, that's what happens when you're massively outnumbered, out-gunned and led by people who think with the it's-crazy-but-it-might-just-work strategy. Which means that we will have to get a lot of new people if we ever decide to do a chapter two.