Friday, July 18, 2014

Ringo, George, Paul and Justin?

Monday, July 14, 2014
More than 20 years later, I can’t bring myself to repeat the stupidest thing that I ever said out loud; it was that stupid.  Not surprisingly, it came during a heated discussion of the Arab-Israeli conflict.  I won’t be surprised if the next time I get involved in that toxic topic I say something stupid again.  I am a Zionist and I support Israel tangibly and emotionally.  However, the legacy of the brilliant strategic and tactical victories of the Six Day War should not be the imprisonment of Israelis, by which I mean that obliging Israeli military and police forces to serve as wardens and keepers of an admittedly hostile Arab population imprisons the Israelis along with those they aim to control.  If Arab-Israeli relations is a zero-sum game, I have no hesitancy about how to tilt the playing field.  My primary concern is the safety, health and sanity of the Jews in Israel.  I simply don’t trust anyone else to protect them, and, by extension, Jews in any other land.  History has taught me, as a Jew, to be quite selfish in this regard.  Yet, our survival should incorporate our values as well as our physical well-being.
It is commonplace to speak of a failure of leadership in the Middle East, but let us not absolve the vaunted “man in the street” of responsibility.  It was that building block of democracy who assassinated Anwar Sadat, assassinated Yitzhak Rabin, murdered Naftali Fraenkel, murdered Gilad Shaer, murdered Eyal Yifrah, and murdered Mohammed Abu Khdeir.  Is it that the current leaders lack the will (or vision) to challenge those that they lead, or, having assessed the likelihood of failure, have retreated to the familiar paths of resentment and revenge?
This article examines, arguably America’s most popular on-line hate web site.  The author, with the telltale name of Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, analyzed tens of thousands of the site’s profiles, which get several hundred thousand “hits” each month.  The two most popular subsets for registered members are “Union of National Socialists” and “Fans and Supporters of Adolf Hitler.”  
Just a couple of extracts before you read about it yourself.  Members “often write about crimes committed by African-Americans against whites; they complain about an ‘invasion’ of Mexicans; and they love to mock gays and feminists.  But their main problem appears to be with Jewish people, who are often described as super-powerful and clever — the driving force, generally speaking, behind the societal changes they do not like.”  While the overall highest membership rates are in Montana, Alaska and Idaho, states that are almost as people-free as Jew-free, the author-with-a-very-Jewish-name makes a somewhat attenuated claim that there is otherwise a correlation between membership and Jewish population.  The hardest thing to explain, for him and me, is the high level of participation by young people; “76 percent of Americans on who identify their age are under 30.”  What’s up with that?   
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Here’s a fascinating headline that just came over the wire that will prove incomprehensible to many of you: “Wolves, Warriors Restart Love Talks.”
I made a big mistake last week by informing you that Whataburger (one of Consumer Reports’s best hamburger chains) has a local (New York City) presence.  Yes, they are in Manhattan – Manhattan, Kansas.  Forgive me.  However, it further underlines my conviction that one major reason, of many, to visit me here is to be able to eat in a real restaurant, owned by a real person.  At first, it may be scary to walk into a place that’s not the same as the one back home, but you’re here, not there.   
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
If, on the other hand, you want to lose your appetite, read Mark Bittman’s (New York Times food columnist) analysis of what everyone else pays for when you buy a cheeseburger, forgetting the loss of your soul for mixing meat and dairy.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
I mustered the courage to go into Sun In Bloom Takeaway, 165 Church Street, even though it wasn’t lunchtime and there is nothing faintly Asian about it.  Possibly a greater deterrent is its characterization as “Hand-crafted, Gluten-free, Organic, Vegan, Kosher.”  I thought that I might be arrested for just walking in the joint.  However, keeping a low profile, I went in and ordered a cup of coffee ($2.50 plus tax, 12 oz.), which I drank at my Khazak shoemaker’s shop, a few doors north, as he made some minor adjustments to my footwear.  Only the price distinguished the allegedly organic and fair trade coffee, although the server was very bright and cheery at 8:15 AM.  They also serve salads, sandwiches and baked goods, proclaiming that they “specialize in organic, vegan, raw food cuisine and macrobiotic dishes, along with gluten-free vegan baked goods and raw desserts.”  Proceed at your own risk.

Friday, July 18, 2014
My brother sends along an interesting article on technology’s effect on the contemporary spy novel, outlining the difficulties in outwitting digital detection.  Creating a false identity, for instance, now requires more than attention to clothing labels, passport photos and wallet contents in this age of Facebook, LinkedIn and Google.

Having recently commended the scallion pancake at Shanghai Gourmet, 23 Pell Street, I made that my destination at lunch.  Besides the ever-reliable scallion pancake ($2.25), I had Singapore rice noodles a/k/a vermicelli, mei fun, angel hair ($7.95).  The very large portion of noodles was cooked with green peppers, red peppers, shrimp, onions, egg, pork and bean sprouts spiced with an assertive curry powder.  The relative airiness of the fine noodles made me feel as if I was eating less than my usual chow fun, the wonderfully dense, wide noodle.  In fact, I could only plow through 2/3 of the dish, even after leaving over one slice of the scallion pancake cut into sixths.  

The British Open Golf Championship is being held in Liverpool, England this week and several of the world’s leading golfers demonstrated shocking ignorance about our life and times.  They could not name all four Beatles, who came from Liverpool, after all.;sport=6
I realize that achieving success in a competitive sport requires preternatural focus and dedication, but, come on now, they weren’t asked to name the Andrews sisters.


  1. Now I know why I have always preferrred a plan hamburger over a cheeseburger.