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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Just wondering...

... if it's really a good thing that they punish Holocaust deniers.

You may be thinking I'm a creep right now. But when reading in the news about recent Holocaust denial sentences, it occurred to me that there are pretty serious punishments being handed down for denying something that the government thinks you should believe.

Don't get me wrong; I think it's terrible that people deny the Holocaust and I think these people are dangerous. But the thought of otherwise-democratic governments punishing people for promoting their beliefs also seems dangerous. It seems like the kind of thing the legal system should stay away from if you ask me.

Granted, the situation is different if the person is doing it in a deliberately agitating way, threatening people, or whatever. But my issue is with the simple fact that someone can be considered criminal based on what they choose to believe or not to believe. As a member of a nation that has often throughout history been persecuted for our beliefs, this seems like a worrisome breach of personal boundaries.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Purim Fever -- Cured!

This was so well done, it begs to be shared. Of course, there are a few problems with it, so if you find yourself enjoying it, don't thank me. ;-)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Dark Mark?

Less than one week after reading this post by Scraps, I found myself in Brooklyn. And hungry. So I strolled into the nearest familiar food purveyor and found the store empty (one of the advantages of keeping odd hours) but for two individuals embroiled in a heated conversation across the takeout counter. This was definitely a good time to mind one's own business, so I patiently skimmed the menu, mentally debating the relative appeal of various entrees, until the fellow behind the counter paused to ask what I wanted.

When I had successfully completed my transaction without becoming entangled in anyone else's affairs, I thanked the cashier and was about to beat a hasty retreat when the woman on my side of the counter pointed right at me and said, "See? She has manners, and I bet she's from In Town!" At which point, of course, I became inescapably involved in the skirmish, which at least I now understood.
"Oh yeah?" the cashier retorted, turning towards me. "Where are you from?"
"Uh, actually I'm from Near Town," I offered, inching towards the exit.
"SEE?!" exclaimed both combatants simultaneously, launching phase two of the battle to determine whether Near Town qualified as In or Out-of Town.
Patting myself on the back for successfully saving the face of Near Town, I ducked out of the line of fire once more.

And if you are still wondering who has better manners and where, in fact, Near Town falls, I leave you with the following maxims to guide your ruminations:
Town is in the eyes of the beholder.
Out-of-Town is as Out-of-Town does.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Reclaiming Youth

During my unscheduled hiatus from blogging, I had the opportunity (or rather, coercion) to do some paper reading. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that some of my required course readings are actually enjoyable. Of course, those are the ones that I finished first, and now I have to get back to the drudge. But first, I thought I'd share the joy with y'all.

My number one reccommended book of the semester is Reclaiming Youth at Risk (pictured at left) by Brendtro, Brokenleg, and Van Bockern (who graciously help uphold my tradition of reading works by people who belong in the performing arts.) This small, slim volume gets right to the point, completely bypassing current mainstream behavior management practices and presenting a strength-based model that actually makes sense. It's largely based on a Native American "Circle of Courage" which outlines four basic elements that a person needs in order to be well-adjusted (belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity). The idealized waxing about Native American society has to be taken with a grain of salt, but a little common sense will reveal that there is a lot of wisdom between these lines. The CoC model may seem impractical at first just because of its differentness, but I suggest reading it a second time with some specific individuals in mind -- you may be surprised to find how simple it is to create positive, respectful interventions for kids who have been failed by the system. Whether you're a teacher, parent, or just a friend -- Read it. (I'm done with my copy for now...)

Stay tuned for more reviews... but first, I need to do some more reading...

Monday, March 2, 2009


Single looks
like a mismatched sock
forgotten at the bottom of the heap.

Single tastes
like the salty tear
that slips out as I fall asleep.

Single smells
like the burning scorch
as I blow-dry my uncovered hair.

Single sounds
like the ringing phone
when I call to remind you I'm here.

Single feels
like the jagged edge
of another friend's broken plate.

Single means
I take on the world
with only G-d as my mate.