Friday, November 27, 2015

Turkey Hash

Monday, November 23, 2015
Yesterday's New York Times had an interesting letter from Thomas H. Wright, emeritus vice president and secretary of Princeton University, dealing with the value of education.  He wrote: "There is substantial evidence that the more exposure to higher education that people today have received, the less likely they are to be susceptible to demagogy and denial of evidence and proven facts; and they are more capable of changing their prejudice-based opinions, and in general better prepared to join in the long effort to make a better world out of the crooked timber of humanity"  He does not cite any evidence, but what comes to my mind are: Ted Cruz - Princeton University, Ben Carson - Yale University, Carly Fiorina - Stanford University.  As for really crooked timber, I'll skip you-know-who, University of Pennsylvania.

November 22nd was the 52nd anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, a day that remains vivid to me as it probably does to most of you who were adults at the time.  I imagine that the 9/11 will have the same staying power to younger generations.  The Kennedy assassination raised immediate short-lived fears of some sort of conspiracy that threatened other national leaders.  However, sitting in Ithaca, New York, I did not fear for the physical safety of the country, although its political future seemed muddy at the time.  9/11, the first time that foreign forces did measurable harm in the continental US, left the Home of the Brave in continuing fear and produced a legacy of oppressive measures, official and unofficial, that continue to diminish our quality of life.  Right now, it is too soon to measure the impact of the latest attack on Paris and related events, but I doubt that it will produce a flourish of liberty, equality and fraternity.

The Wehrmacht, the combined Nazi armed forces, had more that 12,000,000 people in service, at its peak in 1944.

Compare that to the 8 or 9 Paris attackers 10 days ago, probably backed up with an equal number of fanatics, and the 2 or 3 people who attacked the hotel in Mali.  Clearly, the power of modern personal weaponry and instantaneous worldwide communications have, at least temporarily, amplified the perceived threat to ordinary people to an irrational level.  I'm sure that the stiff upper lips of Londoners exposed to nightly bombings in WWII occasionally quivered.  We saw how Earl Warren, later a dignified and righteous figure in American jurisprudence, hastened to intern American citizens because of their Japanese ancestry.  Stress or threat may well cloud one's judgment.  Some of our politicians, no doubt in tune with their constituents, seem poised to reerect the stockades.  I notice that many of those who advocate limiting the freedom of both the general public and certain population subsets, are usually ready to carve out a large domain of freedom for gun bearers.  What a formula for chaos.

I was fortunate to have Alan Silverman, an original member of the All-Alan Chorus, join me for lunch.  I had not seen Alan for one whole granddaughter of his.  As you know, J. Alfred Prufrock measured his life out with coffee spoons.  Some of us are fortunate enough now to measure our lives out with grandchildren.  We went to Wok Wok Southeast Asian Kitchen, 11 Mott Street, now a regular stop on my Chinatown perambulations.  Since I wanted Alan to be pleased, I ordered some familiar things that I have enjoyed already, and a couple of new dishes, to wit: roti wrap chicken, roti wrap beef (those fat burritos stuffed with curry chicken and rendang beef served with that delicious buttery curry sauce), Thai beef salad (charcoal-grilled beef in a very spicy chili, mint, onion, lime dressing) and char keow teow (lo mein-like rice noodles cooked with chicken, eggs, chives, lap cheong [Chinese sausage] and bean sprouts).  As it turned out, both Alans were thoroughly pleased.   

Ted Cruz wants to limit the American acceptance of Syrian refugees to Christians.  Even as a Jew, I am willing to abide with this policy if properly administered.  Not all Christians are created equal, after all.  Significant bloodshed has accompanied intra-Christian rivalries from Martin Luther through the Irish Republican Army.  Therefore, let us limit our welcome to Methodists.  While I admittedly do not know or understand the doctrinal differences among Christians, I like the sound of Methodists, Methodism, Methodical.  Those are the sort of folk that we need to make this country great again, like it was 10 years ago.  Please note that I don’t expect this exclusionary policy to be retroactive, returning the Gotthelfs to downtown Zuromin, Poland, a town about 75 miles northwest of Warsaw, population 8,647 (2006).   

Speaking of getting it backwards, British movie theaters are rejecting a prayerful advertisement produced by the Church of England.  Now, if all those annoying ads that are shown while we await the start of a film could be eliminated, I would be delighted.  I am not going to drink $4 cups of watered-down Coca-Cola no matter how cute the polar bears are.  However, “campaigners for a secular society argued that if the advertisement were shown, other religious groups might by law gain the right to have their material distributed in the same way.”  Which is exactly the idea.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Don’t say that you weren’t warned.  “When we were young, you would never show your underwear,” the designer Tommy Hilfiger said recently, referring to an era when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president.  “Now, if you don’t show your underwear, you’re just not cool.”

Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Now, this is cool.

Examining Google flight searches, the New York Times graphically displays prospective Thanksgiving travel patterns.  While the prototypical Thanksgiving scene includes a blazing fire in an autumnal setting, in fact, favored destinations for holiday travelers are Orlando, Miami and Las Vegas.  Where are people leaving from?  Boston, Washington and Atlanta.  

Speaking of travelers, we welcomed America’s Loveliest Nephrologist and the Oakland Heartthrob to the Palazzo di Gotthelf late last night for a holiday visit.  

Jihadist violence has taken 28 lives in the United States since 9/11 (not counting the dead perps).  As illustrated by an article today, 9 of the perps were born in the USA, 5 were naturalized citizens, 2 had green cards, one had a tourist visa, and one, a British citizen, did not require a visa. 

Sorry to disappoint Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and other Freedom Fighters, but none of the bad guys was a refugee.  In all this posturing about the sanctity of our borders and the safety of our citizens, the same blowhards continue to ignore some facts (lots of facts actually) about the toll taken by domestic, white, Gentile terrorists, about twice as deadly as foreign and domestic Muslims since 9/11.  Note that, so far, all of our terrorists have been male, whatever their skin shade or religion.   

The worst omission by our bold patriots is the number of Americans killed by guns, homicides, suicides and accidents, at least 33,636 in 2013 (the latest year available).

If you libertarians wish to eliminate the remarkably high number of suicides from this tally (freedom of choice and all that), gun homicides and accidents killed 12,461 people in 2013.  What shall we do about it?  Repeat after me:  U-S-A!  U-S-A!  We’re #1! 

Friday, November 26, 2015
I think that everybody but you was here yesterday for Thanksgiving dinner, prepared with exquisite care and producing wonderful results by my young bride.  I have always enjoyed the turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes heaped on my plate.  As is widely known, I am a pulke person (pulke = drumstick in Yiddish), so our turkey came with 5 pulkes, 2 original equipment and 3 after-market accessories.

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