Archive for November, 2007

Longings and Self-deception

November 30, 2007

Thoughts from a frequently single guy.

In the shower this morning I recalled romantic break-ups from years past. Several produced irrationality on my part, others more mutual. Passionate reactions make sense when true connections are torn. Loss of love unbalances even the most stable of us.

Why, then, does the end of an unhealthy relationship diminish reasonableness too?

  • Do we mistake love for activities that lovers do?
  • Does a longing attach itself to an object regardless of the suitability? Do we give up measuring suitability too early?
  • When does the self-deception begin? Does it ever cease? What are the dynamics of this battle?
  • In the end, can another person ever satisfy our longings?

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Chris Rock on Giuliani

November 29, 2007

“He’s kind of like a pit bull. He’s great if you have a burglar, but if not, he might eat your kids.” Rolling Stone Magazine

Update: Caught my own spelling Error. Giuliani. Giuliani. Giuliani.

Jack in the Box and Other Wit

November 29, 2007

I am proud to promote the cuteness of my friend’s son John (aka Jack). The young man is blogging here. He takes after dad’s wit and mom’s strength and independence. I tried to check out his blog on Technorati but found, “there are no posts in English with some authority for jacksfirstblog.” Don’t tell the US DoJ daddy has no authority. Maybe this post will help.

Update: Authority Gained!

Latest, Greatest Erectile Dysfunction Marketing

November 29, 2007

No, it’s not salacious. But you gotta hear this Web 2.0 story.

Small-time bloggers like me always notice other blogs’ links to our site. There’s a simple feature that depicts this data on WordPress. A new link to my “3 Things about Annapolis” post from last night caught my eye. After clicking on a non-descript named blog, the name of a common Erectile Dysfunction (ED) brand appears at the top as the blog’s title. Nothing else in the blog promotes the product. The plain, text-only blog (which appears to use Blogspot as a platform) randomly trolls the internet and links to a few posts each day. The blog dates back only two weeks and averages one entry a day. Each entry contains 3-5 links to blogs like mine. The first few lines of my entry about Middle East peace talks appear and then a link reading, “Click here to read more.”

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3 Things About Annapolis Conference

November 29, 2007

In 1785 delegates from many of the newly formed states gathered in Annapolis to discuss a border dispute between Maryland and Virginia. During the talks, delegates agreed that issues surrounding the conflicts of states were great enough to warrant further discussion with more delegates and full representation. This second conversation is now known as the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

With the help of David Ignatius of the Washington Post, I will share 3 meaningful elements of the Annapolis Conference.

  1. All issues are on the table (possible division of Jerusalem, rights of Palestinian refugees, water, borders, settlements, etc)
  2. The Arab League has joined (strengthening Abbas’ hand and, according to Ignatius, showing Israel what it would feel like to have full acceptance)
  3. Ongoing talks have been promised through 2008. The US has been jointly authorized to monitor implementation of all agreements

Some see the exclusion of Iran as a way to isolate and weaken them. Iran is disappointed that Syria has joined. (more on  Iran policy soon)  Also, when I regain access to the Washington Post, I’ll post about the protest scene. However, Ignatius urges us to appreciate the value of having a positive agenda for the region.

My historical introduction was not to offer a parallel. Just a reminder that outcomes are rarely known beforehand. Off to a University of Maryland basketball game!

Muslim-Christian Dialogue: Courtship in Letters

November 28, 2007

If, like me, you missed the news of last month’s joint statement from 138 Muslim scholars to Christian leaders, don’t worry. This week, the response statement of 300 Christian scholars has made headlines and the obligatory ad in the NY Times.

Below the fold I include my favorite two scriptural references from the Muslim statement, A Common Word, the introduction to it, and part of a Jewish response from Prof. Peter Ochs, a leader of the 2000 Debru Emet Jewish statement to Christian leaders.

(Hat tip: Chronicles of Atlantis, which links to the Catholic response. The Pope, who started all this with his “controversial” Regensburg Lecture in October 2006, has not yet weighed in)

(Left) Dr Anas Sheikh-Ali officially delivering A Common Word to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt Rev. Dr Rowan Williams, in Lambeth Palace on October 11th, 2007.
(Right) Monday, November 26, 2007 at the Cultural Foundation of Abu Dhabi, Muslim Scholars invited and hosted Prof. Dr. Miroslav Volf of Yale’s Center for Faith and Culture in order to thank him and his colleagues for their embrace of the ‘A Common Word’ document issued last month by over 138 Muslim Scholars.

Update: Insight into Pope Benedict’s process of engaging Islam here.

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Correction of the Day from NY Times

November 27, 2007

“A headline last Sunday about a Muslim man and an Orthodox Jewish woman who are partners in two Dunkin’ Donuts stores described their religions incorrectly. The two faiths worship the same God — not different ones.”

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We’re glad that controversy has ended. Care for a donut? (via Powerline)

Caring Bureaucrats and the Homeless

November 27, 2007

Rabbi Bachman gives his usual smarts to the homeless services meeting he attended recently:

We began with a teaching from the morning blessings in our Siddur–”Praised be the Eternal God who clothes the naked; who lifts up the fallen; who frees the captive.” In our daily prayers, we fortify ourselves with the knowledge that caring for those who can’t fully care for themselves is our sacred responsibility.

And then the Deputy Commissioner spoke. He told us that under Mayor Bloomberg, the DHS has the perspective that if there’s a problem with homeless people, it’s their fault–they’re not getting the information to those who need it. And he proceeded to educate us so thoroughly and with such inspiration that within 90 minutes we had coalesced around a strategy for responding to the problem and challenge of the chronic homeless who sleep and relieve themselves on the steps of Old First.

We agreed on 4 basic principles.

1. Acknowledge with dignity those who are homeless. Look at them. Greet them.
2. Work for their dignity and safety.
3. Connect them to the variety of homeless services in the city.
4. Support the provision of services to these people.

Makes me think — how do governmental leaders create better functioning bureaucracy and what would politics look like if we didn’t curse government services? How can civic leaders, especially congregations, best work with government service providers without confusing the relationship between the two?

Jews, Views and Healthcare

November 27, 2007

Over at Virtual Talmud two columnists and commenters share. Here are my general thoughts on the topic. What am I missing?

  • What’s the proper way to bring values — religion — into public debate?
  • Is there a distinction between internal, intra-communal language and external, public language?
  • How successful are liberal voices when they try to use religious language? (given the Right’s confidence and the Left’s hesitance to use such language)
  • Is it confusing to adherents of Church-State separation for Jews to enter the public realm as Jews, or does it open space for other voices? How can Jews enter most effectively?
  • When the question is morality vs. efficiency, what happens? Do folks automatically side with one or the other? Is efficiency considered moral to some? Is the morality position’s policy proposal considered immoral to efficiency folks?

Below the fold I analyze three types of Jewish entries into public policy.
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Daily Dish Readers on 80s Videos

November 27, 2007

Andrew Sullivan’s popular website decided best, worst, and best-worst 80s Video.