Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Collateral Casualties

Seems that three British women (apparently of the Muslim faith) who were en route to join another planned flotilla to Gaza were raped and beaten by Libyan soldiers in Benghazi.  Two of them are sisters, and the attack occurred in the presence of their father.

Unfortunately, the women and their father and their traveling companions are probably more concerned with demonizing Israel than with the barbarity of the people from whom Israel also must defend itself.

It has been said that if there were no State of Israel, the Muslims would be killing each other.  Apparently, even Israel's existence does not protect the Muslims from internecine warfare.

In a few hours, the last days of the Festival of Passover will be upon us.  My wife and I will be doing it all relatively simply, perhaps with a few guests for one or more of the meals.  Knowing how unstable, disorganized and lawless the enemies of Israel and the Jewish people are, I have complete faith that G-d will protect us as we celebrate our holiday.

[And to our friends who are celebrating their Easter holiday today, our best wishes.].

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Our Pesach Seders, 5773

I would say that our Passover Seders this year were uneventful, EXCEPT ...

Except that EVERY Passover seder that is, was or ever will be is a major league, big time event.  This is true of the 30+ guests my mother-in-law used to have each night, back when she still was up to doing it (and of course I was tasked with moving and setting up the furniture, etc.).  And it is true of the little seder, just me and my wife, the first night (we had another couple over the second night).

The story of our redemption from slavery in Egypt is a key event in world history, to be told over and over again each year from the older generation to the younger generation.  G-d commanded us to tell and retell the story, and to remember it all the days or our lives (which, as the Rabbis of the Talmud explained, means night-time and day-time alike).  If there are no children, then we read the Haggadah to one another.  And, if one finds himself or herself alone for the seder night, then one reads it aloud to oneself.

Maybe one of these years we will do a seder with more guests (including a few who have not yet heard all of my seder jokes, clean and otherwise -- after almost 30 years, my wife already knows them so they are not that fun to tell anymore).  But until then, the twosome seder will just have to do.

But whether a twosome, a solo, or a rent some tables and chairs production, EVERY Pesach seder is a big time affair and a noteworthy event.

And, as we say at the very end of each seder:

L'Shana HaBaah B'Yerushalayim!   Next Year in the Holy City of Jerusalem!

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Chag Sameach Pesach, 5773

Been extraordinarily occupied, and in a few hours the sun will set and the Festival of Passover will be upon us.

Nothing fancy planned, but my wife and I, individually and collectively, are looking forward to some time away from the demands of our respective professions.  Obviously, I have been quite busy with my usual holiday preparations, including going up into the attic to get the Pesach dishes; my wife has likewise been very preoccupied with the rearrangement of the kitchen, cooking and setting the table.  Even when we keep it simple it is very involved.

But we enjoy it.

And we will have a few guests.

I have nothing profound to post which has not been expressed by others elsewhere.  I have lots of papers to grade, and a few deadlines coming up.  And so, I will wish all a Chag Sameach Pesach, and L'Shanah HaBaah B'Yerushalayim  -- A happy Passover festival, and Next Year in the Holy City of Jerusalem!

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Doing the Drill with Gun Control:

Apparently, that power drill from your toolbox may be illegal to carry under New York City's firearm restriction ordinance:

If drills are made illegal, then only criminals will have drills!

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Annotating Serrano the Sycophant

The publication City & State is not noted for being too far to the right on the political spectrum (and in fact, it was introduced to me by a liberal Democrat, Henry J. Stern, who had served as a New York City Councilman and as the NYC Parks Commissioner).

But City & State often is able to rise above politics and call things as they are.  Accordingly, the leftward slant of many associated with C & S is largely irrelevant.

Congressman Jose Serrano, on the other hand, is a fawning, sycophant "Hate America First" dhimmi who was so quick to kiss the toochas on Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez's dead body with a press release praising Chavez's supposed good works.  City & State has annotated Serrano's press release.

Here it is.

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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

A Good Mobster

 Grave robbers and vandalizers rank quite low on the scale of criminals.  As the late Justice Michael Musmanno noted, in Kotal v. Goldberg, 375 Pa. 397, 405, 100 A.2d 630, 634 (1953):

" Those who have no respect for the dead can have but little appreciation of the dignity of man, either living or dead."

There are many who have quipped that a good Mafia mobster is a dead one.  Perhaps such a good mobster is exemplified by the late Fat Tony Salerno, former front boss of the Genovese crime family.

Fat Tony, though dead more than 20 years, helped the New York City Police Department get a confession -- and further cooperation -- from grave robber and vandal Louis Peduto.

Read the story here and enjoy!

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Tuesday, March 05, 2013

What's the Retribution About This Time?

The news media and the blogs are all awash about a tragic automobile crash in Brooklyn which claimed the lives of an expectant couple, and, ultimately, the baby.  The couple, Nachman and Raizel Glauber, were members of the insular Satmar Jewish community.  I did not know them, but am most empathetic with the families and the community, notwithstanding my considerable differences with the Satmars.  It was a horrible tragedy.

It has become fashionable amongst the insular Chassidic Jewish communities for various individuals, groups and/or rabbis to proclaim, whenever tragedy strikes, that it was Divine Retribution for some sort of failing within the community.  The shortcoming that seems to be popular these days is tznius, or modesty.  Various pronouncements, which will not now be stoked by a hyperlink from this posting, have been read and heard that such and such a tragedy occurred because the women of the Jewish community are not fully covering their bodies, wearing provocative clothing, and/or talking with a less than modest demeanor.

But if the principle of "Mida K'Neged Mida" (English equivalents:  Measure for measure, every action has an opposite reaction, et cetera) is truly to apply, I can think of a few issues with an even closer connection than the dress and demeanor of the women.

First of all, according to the news reports, Raizel Glauber was thrown from the vehicle by the impact.  Whenever I see a report of someone being thrown from a vehicle in a crash situation, I think "Seatbelt" (or rather, the non-use thereof); and my hunches prove correct a goodly majority of the time.  There seems to be a disproportionate incidence of seat belt non-usage among the insular Jewish communities; indeed, I have had more than one past occasion to threaten some rabbis and children of rabbis with expulsion from my car for their obstinate balking at my orders to buckle up.

My Dad, whose profession required him to know and apply the laws of physics, regularly educated all of his children about various common phenomena from a physics standpoint, not the least of such being the acceleration of an automobile and the effects upon the objects therein, inanimate and otherwise.  And he would not put the car into gear until everyone was buckled up.  I acquired that habit from him.

But there is another "Mida K'Neged Mida" connection here.  Takia Walker, the owner of the speeding BMW that crashed into the livery cab in which the Glaubers were riding, has been arrested on insurance fraud charges in connection with her acquisition of the vehicle.  Insurance fraud is known to occur amongst the Satmar community, and it is condoned by the communal norms and attitudes a bit too much.

No human being truly knows G-d's plans, and how He runs this world.  It is possible (and, I believe, quite likely) that every action or inaction by a human being has its consequences in a system of what ultimately amounts to perfect justice.  So if you tell me that such and such a tragedy occurred because a woman's hemline was four inches above her ankle instead of the standard three, please consider that there are other possible causes, including but not limited to noncompliance with the law.

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