La Fin des Jours

Yep. That’s about it.


Ah Randy Newman, just up and saying it. Here are lyrics and a bit more. I got this via my friend Lynn. Thanks again!



Chaos on Bullshit Mountain. [x]

“If they have success, they built it.

If they fail, the government ruined it for them.

If they get a break, they deserve it.

If you get a break, it’s a handout and an entitlement.”


The Jewish version of Willie Horton.


Anyone who follows my online antics knows, for reasons pertaining mostly to his record on civil liberties, state secrecy, extrajudicial assassination and capitulation to the GOP, that I’m no fan of President Obama. However, when it comes to smears from the Right branding him as anti-Israel, I simply won’t abide. This isn’t because I favor Obama’s Israel policies, which have dramatically failed to advance the peace process, but because I disfavor dishonest, bigoted scumbags.

Case in point, above is the latest attack ad from the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI), arch neoconservative William Kristol’s PAC, which is channeling anonymous “pro-Israel” money into defeating President Obama. The ad claims that Obama is no friend of Israel because he has not visited the country once since assuming the Presidency.

What the ad isn’t telling you? That Israel’s Best Friend in the White House Ever™, George W. Bush, did not visit Israel in his first term either, but rather waited until the very last of his eight years in office to do so.

In yet another attack ad released today, ECI blasts Obama for not recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, despite being U.S. policy for over 40 years, and, again one shared by George W. Bush.

Apparently not visiting Israel nor recognizing Jerusalem is fine, unless you’re a shvartzer. As Jonathan Chait wrote last year in New York:

Republican Jews tend to have an overdeveloped sense of black anti-Semitism. Indeed, they generally regard traditional (i.e., white) anti-Semitism as having disappeared long ago, replaced by black anti-Semitism, which they consider largely pervasive. Their unstated assumption is that any left-of-center black politician is an anti-Semite unless proven otherwise — and proving otherwise is essentially impossible, as any statement or action will be considered a facade hiding a militant anti-Zionist interior.

ECI knows this to be true and they unashamedly prey upon it. Which is why, when right-wing Jewish voters hold Obama to a standard to which they never held Bush, it’s not merely hypocrisy and partisanship: It’s racism.

So let’s call these ads what they really are: The Jewish version of Willie Horton.

Transparent solar cells let windows generate electricity
We should be applying this to car bodies. Of course, we could have been making them out of flexible photovoltaic matrix for over a decade, if the oil companies didn’t have such a stranglehold on civilization.



Transparent Solar Cells: Clearly Amazing

Imagine a skyscraper, gleaming with polished glass, that was generating electricity with every square inch of window space. Thanks to these UCLA nanochemists, that is a pretty realistic image.

By impregnating plastic with silver nanowires (atomic-scale conductors) that are small enough to be invisible, and absorbing infrared light while allowing visible light to pass through, these solar cells (right, above) are 70% transparent.

They take a slight hit in efficiency compared to traditional solar, but can be deployed almost anywhere. Within a decade, we could have buildings supplying their own electricity via building materials! 


This sort of thing gives me hope. Can we fund this instead of all that other horrible and depleting crap please?

Adin Steinsaltz is being showcased lately as several volumes of his translation of the Talmud are about to be released. I really don’t care for Steinsaltz; I never have. I find him arrogant and condescending, a chore to plod through re: his written works and a terrible public speaker (to be fair, he himself admits the latter). He’s dismissive of Liberal Jews and nonbelievers, and although he’s touted as an intellectual, he’s never subjected his own beliefs to any sort of critical analysis, as evidenced in this Religion & Ethics Newsweekly segment on him that aired this weekend:

Ironically, they show by way of illustration a clip of students at Avi Weiss’ Yeshiva Chovevei Torah learning Talmud. Weiss and YCT stand at the leftmost fringe of Orthodoxy, and most Orthodox people don’t even consider them to *be* Orthodox. In addition to their emphasis on social justice issues (almost unheard of in the Orthodox world), Weiss recently ordained a young woman, Sara Hurwitz. Steinsaltz, from his Haredi, Hasidic, largely Lubavitcher perspective, would never approve of them, their activities or their hashkafah (worldview).

The Liberal Jews and the Modern Orthodox are suffering from a bad case of “Fiddler on the Roof” nostalgia. They’ve allowed the Haredim to convince them they are the sole remaining representatives of “authentic” Judaism. The Modern Orthodox, with their basic insecurity regarding the compromises they seem to feel they’ve made with the tradition, are particularly guilty in this regard. This obsession with Steinsaltz is one of its manifestations.
“The idea of the Talmud is that you are allowed to ask questions about everything,” says Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. He calls the Talmud “the central pillar Jewish culture” and “a vast book encouraging you to ask questions.”
Modern Orthodox Denial
A comment I just left in this thread on Failed Messiah:

The “Modern Orthodox” really piss me off - and I put it in quotation marks because there is no more Modern Orthodoxy. Authentic, pre-War Modern Orthodoxy - the Modern Orthodoxy of Rav Soloveitchik - is dead. The Haredim killed it, and the Modern Orthodox helped them to dig the grave. Apart from the occasional fringe group (such as Avi Weiss’), all that is left is Haredism and Haredism lite.

"Orthodoxy was an entirely different creature before the War - before these lunatics commandeered it.

"It’s the Modern Orthodox who make me the angriest. They’re educated enough and conversant enough with consensual reality to see the problems - but they ignore them. They don’t want to face the reality of what the Haredim have done and continue to do to their subculture and belief system. They prefer to be left alone to gather together on Shabbat and smachot, wallowing in nostaliga. They sing their niggunim, tell Hasidic tales they learned from Buber and Shlomo Carlebach and keep their heads in the sand. Funny; I thought ostriches were treif.

"The MO rabbi I often mention is one of the worst offenders. He thinks they were and are all tzaddiks (actually, everyone is a tzaddik except for me, because I tell him what he doesn’t want to hear). He’s a scholar of Hasidism and has been in the foreground of those who romanticize and whitewash that world, inventing a past that never really existed - rosy-cheeked yeshiva bocherim and kindly, crinkly-eyed rebbaim. I sometimes call it "The Shtetl that Time Forgot". He and his wife used to laugh at me when I told them the Haredim were destroying everything they hold dear. Recently, though, they came back from visiting their kids in Israel. I think they all live in or around Nachlaot, and one of their daughters had been to a rally protesting the fact that the police hadn’t been doing enough to break up the pedophile ring there.

"Bottom line: they aren’t laughing any longer."

Standing up for the Farm Bill

By Ruth Messinger and Rabbi Steve Gutow - 02/29/12 09:43 AM ET

One might wonder why two heads of Jewish organizations are writing about the Farm Bill. After all, most American Jews do not live on farms.  But this legislation touches almost every aspect of our food system and is as important to communities in New York and Miami as it is to those in Lincoln and Dubuque. In ancient times, our ancestors were commanded to leave the gleanings of their fields for the poor and the stranger. Today, we have an obligation to step up to the plate and make a difference in the debate over our national food and agriculture policies.

In an effort to achieve our values-inspired vision of food justice, American Jewish World Service and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs have come together with four other national Jewish organizations – the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, Hazon, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, and the Union for Reform Judaism - to form the Jewish Farm Bill Working Group. These organizations are joined by several others in endorsing a statement of principles called the “Jewish Platform for a Just Farm Bill.” 

We are united in the belief that as people of faith we cannot stand idly by when millions go hungry at home and abroad. The link between food and faith obligates our community to challenge the injustice of hunger, to champion the rights of all for nutritious food, and to steward the land on which our sustenance depends.The reauthorization of the Farm Bill is an opportunity to put these principles into practice.

How can we support programs that work and reform those that don’t so that our tax dollars do more to reverse hunger within the United States and beyond our borders?

First, we must expand access to critical federal nutrition programs, particularly the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP works effectively to improve the nutritional status and well-being of America’s most vulnerable, including significant numbers of children, older Americans, and disabled populations. In November of last year, SNAP put healthy food on the tables of 46.3 million low-income families and in 2010 it kept 3.9 million Americans from falling into poverty. SNAP’s benefits are one of the most effective forms of economic stimulus by maintaining demand for food and getting money quickly back into local economies. Moody’s Analytics estimated that every $1 increase in SNAP benefits generates $1.72 in economic activity. Current calls by some in Congress to reduce funding would actually undermine efforts to strengthen our economy.

Additionally, there is a pressing need to create incentives for small U.S. farmers to make their products more accessible to all Americans. The 2008 Farm Bill’s provisions included subsidies for agricultural commodities such as corn and soybeans, but virtually excluded farms that grow less-industrialized fruits and vegetables for consumers. Subsidies for smaller farms could help reduce the cost of produce at neighborhood grocery stores — an improvement that would help families stretch their dollars to purchase more nutritious food.

Another area ripe for change is international food aid policy. The U.S. supplies more than half of all food aid worldwide. Current requirements that aid be bought, processed and shipped from here to areas in need hamstring our ability to do the greatest good. More than half of every dollar for food aid grains is spent on agribusiness and shipping subsidies instead of food for hungry people. We have a one-size-fits-all approach for an increasingly complex world. What we need are more tools to address the triple threat of high food prices, natural disasters and humanitarian emergencies. The local and regional procurement pilot program authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill shows enormous promise. Locally-procured food arrived in communities 14 weeks faster than aid shipped from the U.S. This is critically important for vulnerable populations including pregnant women, lactating mothers and children. More emphasis on local procurement would stretch taxpayer dollars further toward reversing hunger.

Our Jewish values call upon us as Americans to take a stand on these issues. These important programs, along with many others, must be improved and protected to reach our goal of a just Farm Bill.

The reauthorization of the farm bill comes only once every five years. The hungry shouldn’t have to wait another day. As winter turns to spring, Jews will begin preparations for celebrating Passover. If Congress does not act now, we will lose our chance to create the world envisioned in our Seder ritual when we open our doors and ask to “let all who are hungry come and eat.”

Messinger is the president of American Jewish World Service, and Rabbi Gutow is president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

The most honest, accurate and insightful explication of our current state of affairs and its link to our collective character and level of intelligence that I have ever come across.

FINALLY, someone with academic chops who’s willing to admit, publicly, that we’re screwed.

Between Haredi subsidies and negative PR from crap like this, Israel is digging its own grave - and I’m finding it increasingly difficult to care.

First, Atlas shrugged. Then he scratched his head in puzzlement.