Tuesday, May 30, 2006


According to mlb.com Albert Pujols is leading all other players by six lengths with over 700,000 All-Star votes. 25 home runs will do that.

Approaching Shavuot

Last year Rabbi Yair Kahn had charge of the yhe-parsha list for the Virtual Beis Midrash for Sefer Bamidbar and did a very nice series on which a political interpretation of that book can be built. One might be able to think that the arrangement of the tribes in Parsha Bamidbar is hierarchical, with east going first. However, we notice that each firstborn has a place of honor and each division has a tribe known for its skill in battle. Rabbi Kahn argues that the arrangement is really one of harmony between the tribes, with each tribe and each individual recognized and maintaining the distinctiveness of the tribes. The important separation is between the machaneh Yisrael, the camp of Israel, and the camp of the shechina in the center. The revolt of Korach and the concept of the nazir break down this distinction in their own way. Sefer Bamidbar also exploits the contrast between the ideal arrangement, set to conquer the Land of Israel, and the true arrangement who sent the spies and had not fully renounced the mentality of slavery. A contrast is made between the first generation who remembers the food they ate in Egypt for nothing and the second generation who complains, "Why did you take us to die in a land where there is no wheat, figs, or pomegranates?" (characteristic of the Land of Israel) The analysis of Balak is also original.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Desperately seeking post IV

All refundable fares to Anaheim are more than $1200. This is very bad.

Yom Yerushalayim

Today is Yom Yerushalayim at least in Israel, which commemorates the unification of Jerusalem. Evidently the religious camp has adopted Yom Yerushalayim and the secular camp Yom Haatzma'ut. This is sad considering that Israeli soldiers were involved in the liberation of Jerusalem, that we do not have the Temple Mount should mean nothing to a secular person, and the greatest problems involving going back to the 1967 borders (see post below) are Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The right of Jews to live in all of Jerusalem, our holiest city, is important in its own right and the day should not be considered a commemoration of the victory in the 6 Day War and the occupation of other territories.

Interesting PA story

I posted on Seraphic Secret last week that any legislation passed to isolate Hamas should be designed to isolate Hamas, not allow the people to have most of the suffering as happened with 10 years of sanctions on Iraq which did not punish Saddam Hussein one iota for all the evil that he did, although he may have had a full-fledged WMD program without them. Some obduracy from the West and Olmert's willingness to provide direct humanitarian aid seems to be giving Fatah more leverage in the PA government. This Haaretz story tells us that Abbas is pushing a referendum for a Palestinian state with the 1967 borders in order to have some basis for unity between Hamas and Fatah. If Hamas does not agree to the plan within 10 days, he will put it to the people. If the Palestinians will stand up and say they will settle for less than the destruction of Israel, besides being discomfiting to some right-wing bloggers it will be a small step towards trust. (What right-wing bloggers can say, and in fact Meryl Yourish, my steady JIB vote for Best Israel Advocacy, has implied: Palestinians know they cannot have the destruction of Israel now, but with a future stable state they may be able to. And the 1967 borders are unworkable.) Here is another bombshell, which Haaretz could not confirm by itself:

According to the radio, the London-based Al Hayat al Jadida daily newspaper reported that Hamas agreed for Abbas to hold negotiations with Israel based on the position of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Any agreement Abbas reaches with Israel, however, would have to be approved in a referendum, according to the report.

Hamas and Fatah also agreed that the responsibility over the PA's financial administration would be handed over to Abbas, in order to allow the international community to deliver humanitarian aid to the Palestinians.

The Jerusalem Post has also reported this.
This link
shows some of the points of the prisoner document which the Palestinians would be voting on. It says nothing about the border, but does talk about reorganizing the security forces and forming a unity government. If the Palestinians have a unity government and Abbas is who the outside world deals with, has Abbas won or has Hamas won because Abbas is covering them with a cloak of legitimacy?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Desperately seeking post III

My husband consented to book a room at the Anaheim Marriott for Worldcon and we are mulling over the flight.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Desperately seeking post II-Hugo Awards

Another summer routine tied to Gardner Dozois's Year's Best Science Fiction is to read the five Hugo nominees for Best Novel as atonement for not having read any SF the rest of the year. Here is the full nominee list from Worldcon. The five novels are
Ken McLeod, Learning the World
George R. R. Martin, A Feast For Crows (read this! Inspired continuation of story but too many loose ends to win)
John Scalzi, Old Man's War (And at Instapundit there was much rejoicing)
Charles Stross, Accelerando (must be favorite, because the Hugos snubbed almost every story in this book)
Robert Charles Wilson, Spin

In other news Doctor Who received three well-deserved nominations for Dramatic Presentation, Short Form, and Battlestar Galactica one for "Pegasus". IMHO, after I have seen precisely none of the movies nominated for long form, "Serenity" is a shoo-in. I may even be able to vote if my husband is sufficiently tempted by the 40th-anniversary Star Trek festivities.

Desperately seeking post I--political reading list

civil rights:
Autobiography of Malcolm X
A Stone of Hope
Covenant with Black America
TPM Cafe/FDL book group:
Rick Perlstein/Barry Goldwater
Glenn Greenwald, How Would a Patriot Act?
Michelle Goldberg, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism
Anthony Shadid/Larry Diamond/George Packer on Iraq
Fawaz Gerges, Journey of the Jihadist (this excerpt already gave some new information about how the Muslim Brotherhood developed over time which I was not clear about. But no one at TPMCafe really wanted to talk about this book. This is sad!) Bergen's "The Osama Bin Laden I Know" is a maybe.
David Sirota, Hostile Takeover (Kos recommended this book as "wonky")
Juliet Eilperin, Fight Club Politics: How Partisanship is Poisoning the House of Representatives
Todd Gitlin, The Intellectuals and the Flag
Gershom Gorenberg, The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977
Hacker and Pierson, Off Center
Gene Sperling, The Pro-Growth Progressive (this book will probably come in handy in debates with Ezzie and Co :))

I am glad that Goldberg has published her book based on intense reporting. The only reason I wanted to read Kevin Phillips's book was for the theocon aspect. According to my mom, who has read it, "it had its moments".
For several years I have allocated the 3 Weeks to Jewish history. I spent two years concentrating on the Holocaust but found that this was turning Tisha B'Av into an extension of Yom haShoah. Gorenberg's book looks as if it could fit right in. (I have Diner's "History of the Jews of the United States" in reserve. I am desperate to read Sarna's "American Judaism" but IMHO it does not fit in the 3 Weeks.) I am always happy to find a book in a mainstream bookstore actually about either Temple period. I have read Schiffman's "From Text to Tradition" and still find it an excellent reference, and have bought the Artscroll history of the Jews in the Second Temple period.
I was surprised to walk into Borders on Sunday and not see Glenn Greenwald's book displayed in the front. Maybe a) the publisher cannot pay for this kind of publicity or b) Borders is gearing up to sell beach books. Borders had a sale of 3 well-known fiction titles for the price of 2 which I almost bit at.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Posting renewed

Thanks to Ezzie I was able to visit jblogosphere.blogspot.com where the old Havel Havelims are collected. I thought to myself, "This sounds like fun to do". This was sufficient reason to try to post again. Since Douglas Brinkley's and Ivor van Heerden's books on Katrina have come out, I may be able to post on Katrina, Roberts, and Alito, the three topics which seemed so urgent that any other posts seemed dumb. This was OK; the last three posts were dumb. I was so ashamed of two of them I deleted them. A blogroll may also be coming.