The World According to Me

The World According to Me is a play on one of my favorite novels, "The World According to Garp," by one of my favorite authors, John Irving. While I am not nearly the writer Irving is, I hope that my musings will offer a unique perspective on life. If nothing else, I have something to look back on when dementia kicks in.

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Location: Dallas, Texas, United States

Thursday, March 30, 2006


My sister-in-law "woke" me from my working slumber by 'IM'ing me a few minutes ago. Instant messenging is another in a long line of forms of communication that it can be argued either binds us closer or forces us further apart. I choose to believe that e-mail, IM, text messeges, etc. are ways that I can connect with people whom I otherwise might ignore. Of course I'm always about half a generation behind the technology, but that's another issue altogether.

People were saying the same thing about telephones or letters, I suppose. "Why don't you go down the street and say hello to your friend in person?", a woman might have asked her son sixty or seventy years ago. It's all relative.

I do get letters on a consistent basis from one person. No emails, texts, IM's -- just letters. And it comes once a year. You've seen this type of letter, I'm sure. It's that "I had another baby this year and the son number one had his first trip to Disneyland and my husband had elective knee surgery, yada, yada, yada" update letter that annoys the crap out of me. Do I really need to read three pages of how much you love the fact that it's sunny 329 days out of the year? It truly is the most indulgent expression known to man.

I probably shouldn't complain. I'm really awful at staying in touch with people. In fact, would anyone like to volunteer to write my self-involved annual update?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The World is Flat

Have you ever read something that made you stop in your tracks? I mean literally pick your head up and think to yourself, "Did I just read that correctly?" I'm in the middle of Tom Friedman's latest masterpiece, The World is Flat, a fascinating look at how interconnected our global society is. I came across a passage that struck me to the point where I did something I never do -- write in the margins. I try to keep books I read in good condition so that others can enjoy the words just as I have. But I was too affected.

Friedman was discussing the fall of Communism in the late 80's/early 90's and how that shifted the balance of power. As Americans, we're taught to believe that we won the Cold War and everyone lived happily ever after. But the story we are taught is but one account of that series of events. History is different, depending upon who you ask. As Friedman says, "But a world away, in Muslim lands, many thought bin Laden and his comrades brought down the Soviet Empire and the wall with religious zeal, and millions of them were inspired to upload the past." In other words, it wasn't that the Soviet defeat opened the door for fundamental Islam; Radical Muslims actually caused the fall of the Soviet regime. That blew my mind.

It is no wonder that Palestinians are so eager to blow themselves up for their Jihad. They are taught -- in textbooks -- from a young age not only that Israelis and the entire western world are the aggressors and that life isn't valuable, but it is a mitzvah (for lack of a better word) to destroy your human form and your enemies for that struggle. How do you fight that mentality?

From now on when I read a history book I am going to try to keep in mind that this is one person's, one country's or one philosphy's worldview.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Modesty is the best policy

Okay I'll admit it. I'm hooked on reality television. Not everything, mind you. Just a few of the delectably intrusive shows. Due to the snow in the New York City area school was cancelled. Interestingly, alternate side parking rules were in effect so I had to get up to move my car anyway which meant no late napping. As a result of my windfall day off, I had time to read a little of Harlan Coben's latest novel and catch up on the episodes of American Idol, Project Runway, and The Bachelor I had so missed on my trip to Israel.

One "character" in particular struck me. Brenna, a mid-twenties vocalist on American Idol, is just about the most obnoxious person to hit the airwaves since Omorosa on Donald Trump's debut season of The Apprentice. Not only is she cocky, but she seems to have this unnecessary step-on-others-to-get-to-the-top attitude. Do people realize how insane they seem on television? Initially you can chalk up her behavior to editing. After all, Fox can make her appear any way they want. But when her brashness and ever-increasing strangeness filter their way into the live broadcasts, the editing argument goes out the window a bit. Furthermore, my wife had classes with her in college and confirms that the way she is on TV is no exageration.

Watching these shows is, as they say, like watching a train wreck -- you can't turn away. I'd like to think that if I were on TV I'd try extra hard to make myself into a really nice guy. When I was younger I had a healthy amount of bravado, and while my ego is still solid that's toned down through the years.

Brenna's kids are going to watch tapes of her someday and probably be ashamed. Or, if attitude is hereditary, be very proud. I'm glad we don't swim in the same gene pool.