Sunday, December 25, 2005


Have a Happy Hannukah, Merry Christmas, Kwonderful Kwanza, Festive Festivus, Scintillating Solstice and a Happy New Year

especially during the winter holiday season i love this quote...
"All the darkness cannot extinguish the light of a single candle,
yet one candle can illuminate all the darkness."
when i was googling it to find out who really wrote it, i discovered that it has moved beyond its original context, has been paraphrased all over the place and has been attributed to hannah senesh, the talmud, a wise man, someone, and unknown ... and occurs in many different variations.

i guess that means it really resonantes with people. if it was written by senseh in her diary, it would have been written originally in hebrew - so any english version is by definition an interpretive translation. and she could have been quoting or alluding to an earlier quotation, even if she didn't realize it. so interesting...

Thursday, December 15, 2005


jim wallis is my hero

well, at least one of them. yesterday in dc, there were also 114 others:

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Capitol Police arrested 115 religious activists who were protesting a House Republican budget plan's cuts in social programs when they refused to clear the entrance to a congressional office building Wednesday.

"These are political choices being made that are hurting low-income people," said Jim Wallis, the event's organizer and founder of the Christian ministry group Sojourners. "Don't make them the brunt of your deficit reduction and fiscal responsibility."

Outside in the frigid cold for several hours, more than 200 demonstrators sang religious and holiday songs, prayed aloud and chanted, "Stop the cuts." Those who were peacefully arrested and led away from the steps of the Cannon House Office Building faced booking and a $50 fine, said Sgt. Kimberly O'Brien, a Capitol Police spokeswoman.

Wallis refused to consider the vigil a partisan affair, saying the religious and political spectrum was widely represented. "The media seems to think only abortion and gay marriage are religious issues," Wallis said. "Poverty is a moral issue, it's a faith issue, it's a religious issue.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


clang clang clang goes the trolley

woo hoo! the streetcars are rolling again in new orleans. but right now, just on the tourist riverfront line. apparently they're trying things out there first, followed by the newer canal street line, with the st. charles line further down the road. it was so exciting hearing the clang on npr this evening - makes me almost forget that a third of the city is still without electricity. gotta take the silver linings where you can find them.


the great mr softee compromise of 2005

thank goodness that bloomberg and the mr softee people have found common ground:

"The Bloomberg administration will allow the ice cream trucks to continue playing the sprightly ditty while trolling for young customers. But under a compromise with the City Council, the jingle must be halted when the trucks are not moving"
now, if only similar solomonic wisdom can be applied to the mta, before i arrive in the big apple on friday...

Monday, December 12, 2005


bar mitzvah ... on speed ...

i don't know whether to be impressed by the creativity, appalled from the materialism run amok... or just upset that i never had oompa loompas at my bar mitzvah.

from the washington post:
"We had a kid who was really into Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," James recalls, "so we had a purple suit made for him, and we hired these people to be Oompa Loompas and they came out and danced. We had these trees with candy all over them, with signs that said 'Do not eat.' It was fantastic."
"We had this one kid who was really into the Yankees and we sent him to Tampa, where the Yankees were in spring training," he says. "And we filmed him in a Yankees uniform, around the park, pretending to play with the team. We even had a couple Yankees say, 'Happy bar mitzvah,' I think. Then you saw him waking up in his bed, realizing it was all a dream. And he looks at his clock and sees that he's late for his bar mitzvah party."
and last, but certainly not least,
A couple Saturday nights ago, James orchestrates the bar mitzvah of Stephen Serota, an affair held in ornate Garden City Hotel on Long Island. He describes the event as one of the glitzier of his recent confections. Sure enough, at 8:30 p.m. the place is buzzing.

Stephen is a fan of spy flicks, so the theme here is espionage. An Austin Powers impersonator works the room. Two performers stand frozen atop a table in the cocktail room, covered in gold paint, like victims in the Bond movie Goldfinger. There are round magnifying glasses at each place setting -- vaguely spy-like -- and a few tables have Tiffany-style jewel cases in the middle, filled with fake diamonds.

Spies, jewel thieves, whatever. Stephen makes his entrance, which happens in the hotel's huge rococo-style grand dining room. An MC who looks a bit like Kid Rock, only much taller and far raspier, introduces the Serotas, while a 13-piece band vamps to the theme from The Pink Panther.

"This is the coolest family ever," the MC shouts into a microphone. Stephen's parents are introduced. A round dining table, covered by a white cloth, is then wheeled into the middle of the dance floor. "Did somebody order room service?" yells the MC. An actor playing a cat burglar suddenly runs into the room and pretends to snatch someone's purse. "That man is a thief!" howls the MC. "Don't let him get away! Somebody stop him!"

That somebody is "Special Agent Stephen," who emerges from under the table and, after pantomiming some act of derring-do, collars the villain. The MC promptly hoists him on top of his shoulders, as if he had just won some flyweight boxing title. Everyone claps, the band turns up the volume. Strobe lights flicker. Stephen is later seen walking around during the dinner course, pretend-puffing on the wrong end of a candy cigarette.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


and here's the kicker....

he never even said the word "bomb". from
At least one passenger aboard American Airlines Flight 924 maintains the federal air marshals were a little too quick on the draw when they shot and killed Rigoberto Alpizar as he frantically attempted to run off the airplane shortly before take-off.

"I don't think they needed to use deadly force with the guy," says John McAlhany, a 44-year-old construction worker from Sebastian, Fla. "He was getting off the plane." McAlhany also maintains that Alpizar never mentioned having a bomb.

"I never heard the word 'bomb' on the plane," McAlhany told TIME in a telephone interview. "I never heard the word bomb until the FBI asked me did you hear the word bomb. That is ridiculous." Even the authorities didn't come out and say bomb, McAlhany says. "They asked, 'Did you hear anything about the b-word?'" he says. "That's what they called it."

When the incident began McAlhany was in seat 24C, in the middle of the plane. "[Alpizar] was in the back," McAlhany says, "a few seats from the back bathroom. He sat down." Then, McAlhany says, "I heard an argument with his wife. He was saying 'I have to get off the plane.' She said, 'Calm down.'"

Alpizar took off running down the aisle, with his wife close behind him. "She was running behind him saying, 'He's sick. He's sick. He's ill. He's got a disorder," McAlhany recalls. "I don't know if she said bipolar disorder [as one witness has alleged]. She was trying to explain to the marshals that he was ill. He just wanted to get off the plane."

McAlhany described Alpizar as carrying a big backpack and wearing a fanny pack in front. He says it would have been impossible for Alpizar to lie flat on the floor of the plane, as marshals ordered him to do, with the fanny pack on. "You can't get on the ground with a fanny pack," he says. "You have to move it to the side."

By the time Alpizar made it to the front of the airplane, the crew had ordered the rest of the passengers to get down between the seats. "I didn't see him get shot," he says. "They kept telling me to get down. I heard about five shots."

McAlhany says he tried to see what was happening just in case he needed to take evasive action. "I wanted to make sure if anything was coming toward me and they were killing passengers I would have a chance to break somebody's neck," he says. "I was looking through the seats because I wanted to see what was coming.

"I was on the phone with my brother. Somebody came down the aisle and put a shotgun to the back of my head and said put your hands on the seat in front of you. I got my cell phone karate chopped out of my hand. Then I realized it was an official."

In the ensuing events, many of the passengers began crying in fear, he recalls. "They were pointing the guns directly at us instead of pointing them to the ground," he says "One little girl was crying. There was a lady crying all the way to the hotel."

McAlhany said he saw Alpizar before the flight and is absolutely stunned by what unfolded on the airplane. He says he saw Alpizar eating a sandwich in the boarding area before getting on the plane. He looked normal at that time, McAlhany says. He thinks the whole thing was a mistake: "I don't believe he should be dead right now."


is singing off-key that big of a crime?

it would almost be comic if it wasn't true:
MIAMI - The passenger shot to death by air marshals in Miami had been agitated before boarding the plane and was singing "Go Down Moses" as his wife tried to calm him, a fellow passenger said Thursday.

"The wife was telling him, 'Calm down. Let other people get on the plane. It will be all right,'" said Alan Tirpak.

"I thought maybe he's afraid of flying," Tirpak said


shoot first, ask questions never?

this is awful. at the same time that the congress has announced an agreement to renew the patriot act, thereby expanding the unchecked power of law enforcement, more and more details are emerging from the shooting in cold blood at the miami airport, of a man suffering from bi-polar disorder.

no matter what the white house says (c'mon it's the white house, what do you expect them to say), this does not look justified at all.

One passenger on the flight, Mary Gardner, told a local television station that Mr. Alpizar's wife had said he was bipolar and had not taken his medication. Ms. Gardner told WTVJ-TV in Miami that Mr. Alpizar had suddenly run down the aisle from the back of the plane toward first class and that his wife had followed. "She ran after him, and all of a sudden there were four or five shots," Ms. Gardner said
this reminds me so much of the gidone busch incident in Brooklyn a few years ago. not to mention amadou diallo. what is this country coming to? at least we still have russ feingold willing to fight the good fight...