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

Monday, August 28, 2006

Violation and Redemption

I had a lovely weekend. Since the Yankees were playing a three-game set out in Anaheim, I got to see three Angels games over the past three days. Most people cannot sit through an entire baseball game. Due to a variety of factors, I'm part of a dying breed in this country. Major League Baseball refuses to start its most important games before 8:15 eastern time, meaning that the majority of youngsters do not see entire playoff and all-star games. How can baseball continue to grow over the next generation if its target audience is not interested? Additionally, in the information age people (especially young people) have the attention span of roughly two and a half seconds. Baseball, a game devoid of continual movement, is antithetical to instant gratification. Though I'm part of a dwindling number I enjoyed the games, particularly since the Halos took two of three from the Bronx Bombers.

The weekend concluded late last night with all the New York sibs joining to watch the 58th annual primetime Emmy's. It turns out I don't watch all that many popular television programs.

Little did I know that while I was enjoying myself something we all dread was happening...

...I walked out this morning to find our car had been vandalized. I approached the driver side door and noticed that a stack of car repair receipts, kippot, and my EZ-pass were haphazzardly situated on my seat. I knew I didn't leave them there so when I peeked in further I saw the radio was missing. "Shit!" I thought to myself. How did this happen. I peered up and to the back seat and found the passenger side rear window was smashed and glass was all over the back seat -- so much for the secruity system!

I called Mrs. E and we decided that I would notify the police and she would call Geico. Luckily I was able to get a hold of the three colleagues I was scheduled to drive to work today and they found alternatives. Officers O'Donahoe and Litigua (or another Italian-sounding name like LaGuardia) from the 24th precinct (car #1848) arrived roughly fifteen minutes after I dialed 9-1-1. Just then, Mrs. E called to inform me that Geico didn't cover us for such an incident. Amazingly, we somehow are only covered if we do damage to someone else. We're not covered ourselves. I'm not sure how that's possible. Perhaps we accidentally signed up for this type of covereage and it wasn't properly explained to us because I never would have agreed to it. So it addition to feeling terribly violated I was pissed that I would have to pay for the repairs out of pocket.

I drove to the car shop on 54th Street and took the subway home. Today is the first day teachers return to campus and we spend the entire week in "Faculty Institute." So not only am I missing just any day of work, but it's a pretty important day, particularly since I am the new 12th Grade Dean. So I'm working from home.

I got a call from the shop saying that the rear window will cost just $300 to fix (not counting labor, of course). I was shocked. I would have been less surprised if they said $3000. Even if we did have coverage the deductable certainly would have been higher. So in a strange twist, it may have been a blessing in disguise that the car was broken into. Now I can call Geico and get the appropriate coverage in case of a real emergency.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Judy Feder for Congress!!

As many of you know, the Dean of my graduate program is running for a US House of Representatives seat in Fairfax County, Virginia, just outside Washington, DC. A Harvard-trained political scientist, Judy gained fame in the early Clinton years as his health care specialist. I never fully understood the need for health care reform -- until yesterday.

Mrs. E woke up yesterday with a migraine, the likes of which she had never encountered. A chronic migraine sufferer, Mrs. E was purging herself all morning and early afternoon. And when there was nothing left to purge, but the nausea remained, she decided to seek medical attention. We hopped in a cab and drove the twenty some odd blocks to St. Luke's Roosevelt Emergency room just south of Columbia University.

I can't say that anything really went wrong. But nothing was exactly right either. The doctor was pleasant, but we must have seen five different nurses in the two hours we were there and they all asked the same questions. It seems that had one nurse been on the case the entire time we wouldn't have had to repeat ourselves. And then there is the waiting...and waiting...and waiting. When people are in a hospital/emergency room/doctor's office, the last thing they want to do is wait. Even if there is nothing to report, somebody should come in and say, "hey, there's nothing to report."

Upon our arrival in the room we were asked if, since blood was being drawn anyway, we wanted a free HIV test. We agreed and were told before we left that Mrs. E is HIV-negative -- no surprise there. But we were given no other results from that blood. It was as if they tricked us into an HIV test -- even though we are married and have both been tested already. A urine sample was also taken, though no results were given from those analyses either.

The medication they gave Mrs. E had varying effects -- from none to slight. Finally she felt well enough to go home. We were sent home with two prescriptions. I went to the pharmacy this morning only to find out that one of them was filled out incorrectly. The doctor forgot to include the dosage!

All I can say is if this were a life-threatening situation I wouldn't feel too comfortable. I'm not sure this was a completely negative experience since I have had almost no contact with emergency rooms in my life I have almost no basis for comparison. But whether or not this was above or below the average emergency room experience I see need for improvement.

So here's to Judy!


Saturday, August 12, 2006

I Almost Spilled My Rice Chex

Mrs. E and I were watching CNN this morning and it was reported that President Bush called the Lebanese Prime Minister at 8:15 AM. Knowing President Bush's affinity for sleep, I figured they were joking. I mean, it's Saturday, for God's sake.


Friday, August 11, 2006

Olmert's Oration

This speech was not actually given by Israeli Prime Minister Olmert. Rather, it was published in an Israeli newspaper as a speech he SHOULD give. Nevertheless, the message is powerful. Please read so that you can take this message to those opposed to Israel's current policy in Lebanon.

July 31, 2006
"Ladies and gentlemen, leaders of the world. I, the Prime Minister of Israel, am speaking to you from Jerusalem in the face of the terrible pictures from Kfar Kana. Any human heart, wherever it is, must sicken and recoil at the sight of such pictures. There are no words of comfort that can mitigate the enormity of this tragedy. Still, I am looking you straight in the eye and telling you that the State of Israel will continue its military campaign in Lebanon.

The Israel Defense Forces will continue to attack targets from which missiles and Katyusha rockets are fired at hospitals, old age homes and kindergartens in Israel. I have instructed the security forces and the IDF to continue to hunt for the Katyusha stockpiles and launch sites from which these savages are bombarding the State of Israel.

We will not hesitate, we will not apologize and we will not back off. If they continue to launch missiles into Israel from Kfar Kana, we will continue to bomb KfarKana. Today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. Here, there and everywhere. The children of Kfar Kana could now be sleeping peacefully in their homes, unmolested, had the agents of the devil not taken over their land and turned the lives of our children into hell.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s timeyou understood: the Jewish state will no longer be trampled upon. We will no longer allow anyone to exploit population centers in order to bomb ourcitizens. No one will be able to hide anymore behind women and children in order to kill our women and children. This anarchy is over. You can condemn us, you can boycott us, you can stop visiting us and, if necessary, we will stop visiting you.

Today I am serving as the voice of six million bombarded Israeli citizens who serve as the voice of six million murdered Jews who were melted down to dust and ashes by savages in Europe. In both cases, those responsible for these evil acts were, and are, barbarians devoid of all humanity, who set themselves one simple goal: to wipe the Jewish raceoff the face of the earth, as Adolph Hitler said, or to wipe the State of Israel off the map, as Mahmoud Ahmedinjad proclaims.

And you - just as you did not take those words seriously then, you are ignoring them again now. And that, ladies and gentlemen, leaders of the world, will not happen again. Never again will we wait for bombs that never came to hit the gas chambers. Never again will we wait for salvation that never arrives. Now we have our own air force. The Jewish people are now capable of standing up to those who seek their destruction - those people will no longer be able to hide behind women and children. They will no longer be able to evade the irresponsibility.

Every place from which a Katyusha is fired into the State of Israel will be a legitimate target for us to attack. This must be stated clearly and publicly, once and for all. You are welcome to judge us, to ostracize us, to boycott us and to vilify us. But to kill us? Absolutely not.

Four months ago I was elected by hundreds of thousands of citizens to the office of Prime Minister of the government of Israel, on the basis of my plan for unilaterally withdrawing from 90 percent of the areas of Judea and Samaria, the birth place and cradle of the Jewish people; to end most of the occupation and to enable the Palestinian people to turn over a new leaf and to calm things down until conditions are ripe for attaining a permanent settlement between us.

The Prime Minister who preceded me, Ariel Sharon, made a full withdrawal from the Gaza Strip back to the international border, and gave the Palestinians there a chance to build a new reality for themselves. The Prime Minister who preceded him, Ehud Barak, ended the lengthy Israeli presence in Lebanon and pulled the IDF back to the international border, leaving the land of the cedars to flourish, develop and establish its democracy and its economy.

What did the State of Israel get in exchange for all of this? Did we win even one minute of quiet? Was our hand, outstretched in peace, met with a handshake of encouragement? Ehud Barak's peace initiative at Camp David let loose on us a wave of suicide bombers who smashed and blew to pieces over 1,000 citizens, men, women and children. I don't remember you being so enraged then. Maybe that happened because we did not allow TV close-ups of the dismembered body parts of the Israeli youngsters at the Dolphinarium? Or of the shattered lives of the people butchered while celebrating the Passover seder at the Park Hotel in Netanya? What can you do - that's the way we are. We don't wave body parts at the camera. We grieve quietly.

We do not dance on the roofs at the sight of the bodies of our enemy's children - we express genuine sorrow and regret. That is the monstrous behavior enemies. Now they have risen up against us. Tomorrow they will rise up against you. You are already familiar with the murderous taste of this terror. And you will taste more. And Ariel Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza. What did it get us? A barrage of Kassem missiles fired at peaceful settlements and the kidnapping of soldiers. Then too, I don't recall you reacting with such alarm. And for six years, the withdrawal from Lebanon has drawn the vituperation and crimes of a dangerous, extremist Iranian agent, who took over an entire country in the name of religious fanaticism and is trying to take Israel hostage on his way to Jerusalem - and from there to Paris and London.

An enormous terrorist infrastructure has been established by Iran on our border, threatening our citizens, growing stronger before our very eyes, awaiting the moment when the land of the Ayatollahs becomes a nuclear power in order to bring us to our knees. And make no mistake - we won't go down alone. You, the leaders of the free and enlightened world, will go down along with us.

So today, here and now, I am putting an end to this parade of hypocrisy. I don't recall such a wave of reaction in the face of the 100 citizens killed every single day in Iraq. Sunnis kill Shiites who kill Sunnis, and all of them kill Americans - and the world remains silent. And I am hard pressed to recall a similar reaction when the Russians destroyed entire villages and burned down large cities in order to repress the revolt in Chechnya. And when NATO bombed Kosovo for almost three months and crushed the civilian population - then you also kept silent. What is it about us, the Jews, the minority, the persecuted, that arouses this cosmic sense of justice in you? What do we have that all the others don't?

In a loud clear voice, looking you straight in the eye, I stand before you openly and I will not apologize. I will not capitulate. I will not whine. This is a battle for our freedom. For our humanity. For the right to lead normal lives within our recognized, legitimate borders. It is also your battle. I pray and I believe that now you will understand that. Because if you don't, you may regret it later, when it's too late."


Our Commander-in-Chief

I'm not one (usually) to complain about our leaders. Generally I give those in power the benefit of the doubt until something egregious occurs. I tend to think that they know a lot more than they're letting on to the public and that there may be reasons why they say or do certain things.

However, this morning I heard something crazy on the radio out of President Bush's mouth. He said -- and I'm paraphrasing -- "Make no mistake that there are people out there who want to harm us." Well gee whiz, who would have thought that? I mean really....who is making THAT mistake? I can see where reasonable minds can disagree on a variety of issues. But I don't know one person who believes we are immune from another attack. After yesterday's thwarted effort to wreak havoc on the US (incidentally, one of my students flew back from London yesterday), I am convinced that we are in a worse position to protect ourselves (especially given our military commitments abroad) than before 9/11/01.

So to whom, exactly, was that comment directed? This is prime example of Rovian politics. The conservative right is subtly, indirectly, painting liberals as soft on defense. That quote intimates that those who believe we have made the world less safe by entering Iraq are ill-equipped to lead our country. In essense, he is countering an argument that HAS NOT BEEN MADE. No Democrat has stated publicly (or privately, I'm sure) that we are safe from Islamic fundamentalism.

It is brilliant politics!

It is abhorant leadership!


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Beautifully Succinct

I received an email the other day from the father of one of my students. It was so accurate in its portrayal of the middle east crisis that I had to share it. I sometimes struggle to explain to people why Israel is justified in defending herself without sounding completely biased. I believe this solves the problem:

If Hezbollah (and you can substitute Hamas, the Palestinians, or any number of other groups) put down its guns there would be no more fighting. If Israel put down its guns there would be no more Israel.