Thursday, March 30, 2006
Some Sanity Restored
In other words, the Massachusetts Supreme Court doesn't get to dictate social policy for the rest of the Union; just their own state.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Gotta Love Him
This story is so funny, I'm just going to plagerize the whole thing.
Scalia: Reporter misread hand gesture
BOSTON, Massachusetts (AP) -- Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in a scathing letter to the editor of the Boston Herald, accused the newspaper's staff of watching "too many episodes of 'The Sopranos'" for interpreting a hand gesture he made at a cathedral as obscene.
The Boston Herald reported Monday the justice made "an obscene gesture, flicking his hand under his chin" in response to a question about whether lawyers might question his impartiality in matters of church and state.
The incident occurred after Scalia attended Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. (Full story)
But Scalia said in his letter the gesture is not obscene at all, but dismissive. Scalia said he had explained the gesture's meaning to no avail to the reporter, whom he referred to as "an up-and-coming 'gotcha' star."
To back his interpretation of the gesture, Scalia in his letter quoted from Luigi Barzini's book, "The Italians:" "The extended fingers of one hand moving slowly back and forth under the raised chin means 'I couldn't care less. It's no business of mine. Count me out."'
Scalia said in the letter, written to Executive Editor Kenneth Chandler, that the reporter leapt to conclusions that it was offensive because he initially explained his gesture by saying, 'That's Sicilian."'
"From watching too many episodes of the Sopranos, your staff seems to have acquired the belief that any Sicilian gesture is obscene -- especially when made by an 'Italian jurist.' (I am, by the way, an American jurist.)," he wrote, referring to the American television series about a fictional mob boss and his family.
The Herald had referred to him as an "Italian-American jurist."
Well Maybe It's No So Clear Cut
Maybe Feingold should hold off the all his censure talk.
Stop What You're Doing...
Katyusha Rockets In Gaza
So what’s Israel going to do? Air strikes are of limited use. Invading Gaza isn’t going to be pretty.
Let’s hope they speed up the production of the THEL system. If it works, it would effectively neutralize the threat, without the risk of military casualties.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
So today, I found myself in the area and went to check it out. I couldn't believe my eyes: there was a line to get in. A line to get into a supermarket! A supermarket! Seems it's so popular that they have to restrict access to keep the store from overcrowding. Unbelievable.
In case you don't believe me, I whipped out my phone and took a few pictures.
Hell Hath No Fury Like A Neocon Scorned
I've got nothing against someone who changes their mind, hey, I used to be a liberal!
I read the article about Fukuyama in the NY Times magazine, and it talks about the moment when he decided that he had enough. He's at an event where the speaker refers to the Iraq war as an "a "virtually unqualified success." Everyone cheers. He thinks everyone around him is nuts.
But as Charles Krauthammer explains, that's not what happened. Not even close. The speech wasn't about Iraq. The only mention about the war was "it may be a bridge too far. Realists have been warning against the hubris of thinking we can transform an alien culture because of some postulated natural and universal human will to freedom. And they may yet be right."
And he should know, as he was the speaker at the event.
Please read Krauthhammer's take on the whole thing. It's pretty eye-opening.
When Did It Begin?
I'm standing on the subway platform, playing with my new cell phone/PDA when a creepy old guy walks up to me and says- "You probably know. How many years ago did the Jewish religion start"?
Startled, I mumbled "about 4000 years ago", and then quickly walked away.
Which made me wonder- what exactly did he mean? The time when Avraham discovered God? Matan Torah? Bais Hamikdash?
It's an interesting question but does it even really matter?
Monday, March 27, 2006
Someone's Got Issues
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Living In The Holy Land
Every so often, I ask myself if I could see myself making aliyah. I worry about finding a job, separating from my friends and family, and wondering if I could find the right neighborhood where I would fit in.
But then I read a story like this, and I realize that maybe it is better here in the triefia medina. We don't have to deal with garbage like this.
Rabbi Natan Weinfeld, a Viznitz Hassid and popular teacher of the daily Talmud page (daf yomi) in Rehovot, said the changes, which he helped initiate, were aimed at eliminating certain severe halachic prohibitions. He refused to elaborate, saying there was a halachic prohibition against publicizing the story because it was slander and would cause a desecration of God's name. Wienfeld also hinted that petitioning the secular district court was prohibited according to Jewish law.
I’m so flummoxed by that statement that I don’t know where to begin. It’s assur to go to a secular court to get Egged to change the bus lines? Huh? Should they be taken to a Din Torah instead?
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Monday, March 20, 2006
Judges Are No Different Than You Or Me.
I'm attending a lecture right now on digital piracy. The speaker put up on the screen a quote from Justice Breyer'’s concurring opinion in MGM v. Grokster.
“Judges have no specialized technical ability to answer questions about present or future technological feasibilility or commercial viability where technology professionals, engineers, and venture capitalists themselves may radically disagree and where answers may differ depending upon whether one focuses upon the time of product development or the time of distribution."
I'’d like to add that judges have no specialized technical ability to answer questions about morality or social policy where ordinary citizens may radically disagree and where answers may differ based upon a multitude of factors.
After taking federal income tax last semester I became a flat tax convert, so I eagerly listened to what he had to say.
Here were some of his basic arguments:
- The code is unbelievably complex and gets worse and worse every day. He pointed out that the Gettysburg Address was 200 words, the Declaration of Independence; 600 words, the Constitution; a few thousand words, the Bible; 700,000 words, and the tax code; 9 million words. A few years ago it was only 6 million words.
- Since the code is so complex, the costs of complying with it are enormous. And no one really knows what they are taking about, even the so called “experts”. If you ask 45 experts about the same situation, you will get 45 different answers.
- The tax code corrupts. Half of Washington exists just to get your company a tax break. Everyone wants to get ahead of their competition, so they try to influence tax policy to help themselves, often with absurd results. He gave a great example: A few years ago Congress passed some tax breaks for manufactures to help them out. It seemed like a good idea, to try to help out General Motors and other manufactures. But somehow Starbucks got into the tax breaks. Buried in the amendment was a 300 word footnote that defined “manufacturing” to include the “crushing of coffee beans”. That’s insane.
- A flat tax will end up bringing in more money. Lower taxes in the end mean more growth which means more tax receipts. He cited examples where countries instituted a flat tax scheme and saw receipts skyrocket. Countries that have flat taxes include many Eastern European counties like Russia, Poland, Slovakia, as well as Ireland, which has gone from the worst economy in Western Europe to the best since they reformed their tax code.
- He demolished the argument that a flat tax code with no deductions would reduce charitable donations. He said that it’s been proved time and time again that people give more money when they have more money, and give less when they have less. The tax code has hardly any effect.
The best part of the speech was watching my tax professor’s reactions to what Forbes said. Needles to say, she wasn’t smiling as he trashed her very existence for working.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Who Knows God's Intentions?
Sorry Baruch, but I'm not buying it.
Orthomom has some thoughts on the subject.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
The Megilah Meme
- Oh No! Not this Ba'al Koreh again! He's got a really high pitch voice and is tone deaf. But on the other hand, he actually knows how to read Hebrew and he doesn't try to quickly run through the later Hamans like the prior Ba'al Koreh.
- Why am I using this tiny Megilah? 4 inches too short for a Megilah. But it gets me lots of attention during Maariv. "Is that thing real"? Yup! "How old is it"? Don't know, but it predates the Holocaust. "Is it Kosher"? Probably not. (I'll post some pictures of it later).
- Why exactly couldn't Achashveyrosh reverse his decree?
- I understand graggers, noisemakers, cap guns and small explosives. But can someone explain to me why kids bring Silly String to shul? It doesn't make any noise!
- If that kids sprays Silly String at me one more time I'm going get him back good.
- I got that kid back good- with Silly String!
- Poor Haman, his begging for mercy actually looked like he was trying to hit on the Queen. Bad move Haman!
- I could sure use a danish right about now
- No wait, I'm supposed to be listening to every word! Doh!
Friday, March 10, 2006
The WSJ has an excellent editorial about the
What's especially dangerous here is that we're seeing the re-emergence of the "national security" protectionists. They were last seen in the late 1980s, when
in particular was the target of a political foreign-investment panic. The Japanese were buying Japan Pebble Beachand Rockefeller Center, and so Americawas soon going to be a colony of . A Japanese bid for Fairchild Semiconductor of Silicon Valley was seen as a threat to American defense. Those fears seem laughable now. But here we go again, with new targets of anxiety. Tokyo
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
But now I'm really, really seething, courtesy of this story from the Jerusalem Post.
A delegation from the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta sect is currently visiting Teheran to meet with senior officials and express their support for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his calls to eliminate Israel.
In a statement to Iran's official IRIB radio, the group called for "the disintegration of the Zionist regime" and defended the Iranian president, saying that it "is a dangerous deviation to pretend that the Iranian president is an anti-Jewish or anti-Semitic personality."
...At the meeting, according to the Iranian news agency IRNA, Weiss "praised the 'enlightening' statements of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about the Holocaust and said the establishment of a Zionist government and occupation of Palestine are contrary to the injunctions of Judaism."
So now the Neturei Karta deny the Holocaust?
Monday, March 06, 2006
What's Wrong With South Dakota
While I support a State’s right to regulate abortion as they see fit, this is just a dumb move.
At best, there are four votes to overturn Roe: Thomas and Scalia who are on the record as opposing Roe in Casey, and Roberts and Alito who are Bush appointees and can therefore be characterized as ant-Roe.
The Supreme Court would have no choice to take up an appeal of this case, and then Roe will then be reaffirmed 5-4.
Unless Governor Rounds has some inside information that Ginsburg or Stevens is about to retire, this is really dumb.