Tuesday, June 20, 2006


first came the walmart, then came the jews...

a fascinating effect of walmart's ever-expanding tentacles of growth is the integration of formally homogenous bentonville, arkansas:
BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Residents of Benton County, in the northwest corner of Arkansas, are proud citizens of the Bible Belt. At last count, they filled 39 Baptist, 27 United Methodist and 20 Assembly of God churches. For decades, a local hospital has begun meetings with a reading from the New Testament and the library has featured an elaborate Christmas display.

Then the Wal-Mart Jews arrived.

Recruited from around the country as workers for Wal-Mart or one of its suppliers, hundreds of which have opened offices near the retailer's headquarters here, a growing number of Jewish families have become increasingly vocal proponents of religious neutrality in the county. They have asked school principals to rename Christmas vacation as winter break (many have) and lobbied the mayor's office to put a menorah on the town square (it did).

Wal-Mart has transformed small towns across America, but perhaps its greatest impact has been on Bentonville, where the migration of executives from cities like New York, Boston and Atlanta has turned this sedate rural community into a teeming mini-metropolis populated by Hindus, Muslims and Jews.

It is the Jews of Benton County, however, who have asserted themselves most. Two years ago, they opened the county's first synagogue and, ever since, its roughly 100 members have become eager spokesmen and women for a religion that remains a mystery to most people here.

When the synagogue celebrated its first bar mitzvah, the boy's father — Scott Winchester, whose company sells propane tanks to Wal-Mart — invited two local radio D.J.'s, who broadcast the event across the county, even though, by their own admission, they had only a vague idea of what a bar mitzvah was.

"Jesus was Jewish," one D.J. noted in a dispatch from the reception at a local hotel. The other remarked, "I love Seinfeld."
especially interesting is that one of my classmates who was just ordained as a rabbi is going to be serving as rabbi at nearby fayetteville. will arkansas become the next brooklyn? only time will tell...

Thursday, June 15, 2006


on vacation!!!!!!

i just turned in my last final of the year, so i am now officially on vacation (from school at least) and am 1/3 (or 1/5 depending on your math) of the way done towards become a rabbi !!

next week i'm off to dc to teach high school students all about judaism and housing as they build a ramp for the home of someone with a disability.

then i'm off to california to a week-long industrial areas foundation (iaf) sponsored community organizing training. They're one of the groups that brings us the powerful mechanism of faith based community organizing (fbco):
Faith-based community organizing has emerged as one of the most important initiatives to rebuild inner city communities and revitalize democratic life in America. Thousands of congregations across the country have engaged their members in collaborative efforts to improve schools, promote economic development, fight crime and violence, and build affordable housing. Four major networks sponsor affiliates in over one hundred and twenty localities, with each affiliate encompassing from ten to sixty congregations. Affiliates in Texas, California and elsewhere work together on state-wide campaigns to improve public schools and raise the minimum wage. Meanwhile, new faith-based efforts emerge almost daily, including many unaffiliated with the major networks. Faith-based efforts have drawn tens of thousands of community leaders into political action in order to win important improvements in the lives of millions of poor and working people. This rapidly growing movement has brought new energy into our political system and brought new hope to devastated communities.
see also:
Faith-Based Community Organizing is a model of social change where members of faith institutions build the leadership and power to effect change on concerns that are broadly and deeply felt.

The foundation of faith-based community organizing lies in building relationships among congregants to allow people to identify their common values, concerns, and passions. These relationships are built through one-on-one intentional conversations between pairs of people as well as house meetings with larger groups. Faith-based community organizing focuses on developing leaders and supporting them in gaining the skills necessary to engage members of their congregations and ultimately in building the power to make change, both in their synagogues and in the larger community.
hopefully some exciting, inspiring blogging can't help but surely follow ...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


we are a part of the rhythm nation

With music by our side
To break the color lines -
Let's work together
To improve our way of life.
Join voices in protest
To social injustice.
A generation full of courage,
Come forth with me.

People of the world today
Are looking for a better way of life.
We are a part of the rhythm nation,
People of the world unite.
Strength in numbers, we can get it right.

Lend a hand to help.
Things are getting worse;
We have to make them better.
It's time to give a damn.
Let's work together.

- Janet Jackson

Monday, June 12, 2006


kerry won ohio !

via bob herbert in the nytimes...
Republicans, and even a surprising number of Democrats, have been anxious to leave the 2004 Ohio election debacle behind. But Kennedy, in his long, heavily footnoted article ("Was the 2004 Election Stolen?"), leaves no doubt that the democratic process was trampled and left for dead in the Buckeye State. Kerry almost certainly would have won Ohio if all of his votes had been counted, and if all of the eligible voters who tried to vote for him had been allowed to cast their ballots.

No one has been able to prove that the election in Ohio was hijacked. But whenever it is closely scrutinized, the range of problems and dirty tricks that come to light is shocking. What's not shocking, of course, is that every glitch and every foul-up in Ohio, every arbitrary new rule and regulation, somehow favored Bush.
could this mean that the rfk, jr. story in rolling stone is finally getting some legs? will people finally believe that kenneth blackwell is a dirty criminal who needs to be prosecuted for election fraud? that registered voters were actually disenfranchised? one can only hope...

for a relatively concise summary of robert kennedy's points, see this excellent diary from the daily kos archive.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


save big bird!

if the repubs have their way, big bird and mr. snuffleupagus could both become our future "imaginary friends."

the heads-up comes from our good friends at MoveOn.org:

Dear MoveOn member,

Everyone expected House Republicans to give up efforts to kill NPR and PBS after a massive public outcry stopped them last year. But they've just voted to eliminate funding for NPR and PBS—unbelievably, starting with programs like "Sesame Street."

Public broadcasting would lose nearly a quarter of its federal funding this year. Even worse, all funding would be eliminated in two years—threatening one of the last remaining sources of watchdog journalism.

Can you ask 3 friends to sign the petition telling Congress to save NPR and PBS again this year?

Last year, over 1 million of us signed the petition, and Congress listened. We can do it again if you pass this message along to any friends, neighbors, or co-workers who count on NPR and PBS for news or children's programming.

This would be the most severe cut in the history of public broadcasting. The Boston Globe reports the cuts "could force the elimination of some popular PBS and NPR programs." NPR's president expects rural public radio stations may be forced to shut down.

The lawmakers who proposed the cuts aren't just trying to save money in the budget—they're trying to decimate any news outlets willing to ask tough questions of those in power. Americans trust public broadcasting more than any corporate news media.3 This is an ideological attack on our free press.

President Bush's budget proposed cuts to NPR and PBS4, but Congress is going even further: slashing 23% of this year's public broadcasting budget—$115 million—and denying NPR and PBS any funding in two years. The cuts immediately terminate support for commercial-free children's shows like "Sesame Street," "Clifford," and "Maya and Miguel."

The House and Senate are deciding if public broadcasting will survive, and they need to hear from viewers like you.

–Noah, Eli, Adam G., Tom, Marika and the MoveOn.org Civic Action Team
Thursday, June 8th, 2006

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


diet coke + mentos = fountains of fun

even better than bellagio in las vegas ... as featured on npr. click on the image below to launch the quicktime video in a new page:


$7.15/hr, ready or not, here we come!

if only i wasn't subsumed in the throngs of finals, i would have been in harrisburg ... check out the coverage, with video.

from the trusty email inbox:
... Nearly 400 people from all over Pennsylvania joined together to demand a "VOTE...NOW" and "$7.15 - nothing in between." Speakers included bishops, labor leaders, community leaders, low wage workers, clergy and members of the senate and the Rendell administration. We heard a commitment from Republican Senator Stewart Greenleaf that a bill would be voted and passed in a bi-partisan manner in the near future. Let's hope that is true. If not we will continue until a fair minimum wage has been enacted in Pennsylvania ...
woo hoo! gotta love those pictures on the rotunda steps...

Monday, June 05, 2006


winning elections, or how i learned to love the googlebomb?

some supporters of ned lamont, who is challenging senator joe lieberman in the CT democratic primary, have come up with the idea of trying to influence what shows up when people search for either joe lieberman or ned lamont on google. this is me helping them out.

Ned Lamont Links

Ned Lamont - Official Campaign Website
Ned Lamont - Official Ned Lamont Resource Page
Ned Lamont - "Ned Lamont Forces Bush's Boy Into Primary" (Alternet)
Ned Lamont - Unofficial Ned Lamont Resource
Ned Lamont - Unofficial Lamont Blog
Ned Lamont - NOW PAC Endorses Ned Lamont for Senate
Ned Lamont - "Ned Lamont vs. Joe Lieberman" (The Nation)
Ned Lamont - NedHeads YouTube Group
Ned Lamont - "Democrats for Ned Lamont" (Taylor Marsh)
Ned Lamont - "Lamont Fires Up Naples" (New Haven Independent)

Joe Lieberman Links

Joe Lieberman - "Seasonal Memory Lapses" by Paul Bass (Hartford Courant)
Joe Lieberman - "Lieberman Wins Republican Friends, Democratic Enemies... (WaPo)
Joe Lieberman - "Joe Lieberman's Very Bad Year" (The Nation)
Joe Lieberman - "Joe Lieberman Disappoints Democrats" (Talk Left)
Joe Lieberman - "Joe Lieberman is a Big Oil Republican" (LamontBlog)
Joe Lieberman - "Joe Lieberman and the Hostile Takeover of Centrism" (Working Assets)
Joe Lieberman - "Joe Lieberman, an Embarassment to His Party & His Country"
Joe Lieberman - "Joe for President Parody -- A New Kind of Democrat, the Republican Kind"
Joe Lieberman - "Paul Krugman on Talk-Show Joe" (Brad DeLong)
Joe Lieberman - "How Joe Lieberman Tried to Kill Rock 'N Roll (Huffington Post)"


harry shearer and laurie david

are two actors/comedians/celebrities who i really admire. give 'em hell harry, one third of spinal tap, the voice of half the characters on the simpsons, creator of 'leshow' on npr, is also a resident of new orleans who has been bringing the media to task for the past year on their failure to adequately cover new orleans. recently, he has been all over the story of the army corps of engineers' culpability in design flaws of the levees and flood walls that were breached. see, for example, this exchange with/about brian williams of nbc news, or his recent exasperation that the msm isn't even really covering the corps' latest colossal mea culpa.

laurie david, for those who don't know her, has been a one-woman campaign against global warming. married to larry david of seinfeld fame, her becoming an environmentalist was a gradual affair. her activism has grown from encouraging her friends in hollywood to buy priuses, to now single-handedly convincing al gore to turn his global warming traveling slide show into a documentary, and then producing the film.
just imagine this sales pitch: Babe, it's a movie about global warming. Starring Al Gore. Doing a slide show. With charts. About "soil evaporation."
if she can make that sound exciting to the american public, she's got my vote. once i finish my papers, it's definitely on top of the to-do list.

i love it when celebrities use their powers for good and not for evil...

Thursday, June 01, 2006


yummy fish

here's a new eco-kosher, healthy fish list, from the new york times. their analysis takes into account human health factors (including the level of PCB / mercury / pesticide bio-accumulation in the fish, and the state of the fishing stock in the wild. all of these are also kosher in the traditional sense (with the obvious exception of the shelfish and catfish). but please correct me if i missed anything.

without further ado, here's the list:
These fish can be eaten once a week by adults, according to an assessment of contaminant levels by Environmental Defense. Those marked with an asterisk can be eaten more than once a week.

ARCTIC CHAR, color added
*BLACK COD (Sable, Butterfish on West Coast)
*BLACK SEA BASS Younger children no more than four times a month
*HAKE (white, silver and red)
HAKE (Chilean, Cape and Argentine)
*HALIBUT (Pacific only) Older children 3 times a month, younger children twice
*MACKEREL (Atlantic or Boston only)
MAHI-MAHI Younger children 3 times a month
*PACIFIC SAND DAB (yellowtail flounder)
*SALMON (Pacific)
*SOLE (gray, petrale, rex, yellowfin)
SOLE (Dover; English or lemon, older children 3 times a month, younger children twice)


CATFISH (domestic) (not Kosher)
STRIPED BASS (rockfish)
*TROUT (rainbow); TROUT (steelhead)

SHELLFISH (not Kosher)

*CLAMS (northern quahogs)
CLAMS (Atlantic surf, butter, Manila, ocean quahog, Pacific geoduck, Pacific littleneck and soft-shell)
*CRAB (Dungeness, snow) Dungeness: younger children once a week
CRAB (Florida stone, Jonah, king)
*CRAYFISH (United States)
*LOBSTER (American) Children 2 to 4 times a month
*MUSSELS (farmed blue; wild blue, children 2 to 3 times a month)
MUSSELS (New Zealand green, Mediterranean)
OYSTERS (farmed Eastern and Pacific)
*SCALLOPS (bay; Northeast, Canadian sea)
*SHRIMP (wild American pink, white, brown)
SHRIMP (spot prawns and northern shrimp)
*SPINY LOBSTER (Caribbean, United States, and Australia)


new orleans public housing residents plan to storm the barricades

Public housing residents, frustrated after nine months of waiting for a definitive plan to rebuild the complexes, said Wednesday they will take over at least one of the hurricane-shattered developments this weekend.

“I will go in and clean my house,” said Karen Downs, a former St. Bernard complex resident now living in Baton Rouge while her children and mother stay in Houston. “I can repair anything. I’ll put my hands together and work. I am tired. If it wasn’t for the grace of God, I’d probably be gone from stress.”

Enough is enough, she and other residents said Wednesday. They plan to take back their former homes at the 7th Ward complex this weekend, even if it means breaking through the razor-topped chain link fence that the Housing Authority of New Orleans installed post-Katrina.
power to the people!