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Showing posts from 2006

In-Q-Tel: Spookily Responsible Investing

Year's end always makes people think of their investment portfolios, and that makes me think about the unique investment strategy of In-Q-Tel, the non-profit venture fund supported by the CIA.

While the In-Q-Tel name is horribly clunky, the corporate mandate is a big winner in any game of Buzzword Bingo:

In-Q-Tel was established in 1999 as an independent, private, not-for-profit company to help the CIA and the greater US Intelligence Community (IC) to identify, acquire, and deploy cutting-edge technologies. In-Q-Tel's open and entrepreneurial venture capital model gives it the agility - lacking within traditional government contracting approaches - to help the IC benefit from the rapid pace of change in information technology and other emerging technology fields.

In-Q-Tel's mission is to deliver leading-edge capabilities to the CIA and the IC by investing in the development of promising technologies. Because early-stage technologies are often unproven, In-Q-Tel takes the calc…

His Perspective: The Functional Value of Heartache

The following first appeared in JMag, the publication of JDate. The introduction said: If you’re an experienced dater, you’ve probably had your share of heartache. JDate member Van Wallach argues that opening up about painful lessons can show someone new that you’re looking for love, not just a good time. (But save the blow-by-blow of your last breakup for your mother.) After my divorce, I had to readjust to the dating world. The stability of a 12-year marriage vanished into the constant flux of new contacts and opportunities. I found that telling stories about myself—my history, interests, and hopes—was a recurring theme in this strange new land. Much as in a job interview, the stories we tell on dates are designed to make good first impressions. In fact, so much of this adult dating stuff seems like nothing more than the recitation of preset narratives. Two people make an acquaintance and, as they proceed, start talking. Initially, conversations rarely progress beyond the standard q…

Do You Have a Relationship Resume?

Most people on Jdate and other dating sties have a resume for their work life. Lately I've been thinking about the value of a resume for my love life. It makes sense: you go through phone screenings, initial conversations, more formal interviews ("dates") with the goal of getting something valuable in your life. We jump through similar hoops in the quest for finance and romance.

So we can all benefit from a "Romance Resume" to provide to targets here on Jdate. The profile does some of the work, but it doesn't go far enough. "What I've Learned from Past Relationships" can be overhauled to provide much more detail. Think of the great conversations that would start if we could exchange relationship Resumes with love interests here.

What would they look and sound like? Since I'm throwing out the idea, it's only fair that I go first. Here's disguised example:

2005-2006: YettaFromYonkers, New York
Overview: YfY and I formed a dynamic, mutual…

Rescuing the Littlest Angel

I've been silent for a while. On July 31 I got laid off from the job I had held since February 2002. The blow came unexpectedly for myself and over 30 colleagues. We learned in a four-minute listen-only conference call that our employer no longer needed our communications skills and we'd hear from HR.

The end.

So I haven't been in the mood to blog here, about personal matters. But with the fall, soon Rosh Hashanah, I'll start early on new behavior, including this.

In the aftermath of the lay-off, two collegues and I rushed back to our New York office from Boston, where we were for an assignment. Our other colleagues had already completed the doleful packing of personal items. I found boxes waiting by my office. I knocked some together, flipping flaps to make a tight cardboard fit, then began dumping in books, CDs, Jdate profiles I had printed out, insurance papers and anything else I wanted to get shipped to my home in Connecticut.

After two hours, I was done. I took fina…

"Rose Colored Glasses," Hitting Too Close to Home

Radio station WFDU played a country song this morning that hit a little too close too home emotionally. But some country songs do that. I had the presence of mine to jot down enough of the lyrics to find the song. You can hear part of the song on singer John Conlee's website, where you can hear part of the song, which is powerful:

Rose Colored Glasses

I don't know why I keep on believing you need me
When you prove so many times that it ain't true
And I can't find one good reason for staying
Maybe by leaving would be the best for you

But these rose colored glasses that I'm looking through
Show only the beauty cause they hide all the truth

And they let me hold on to the good times the good lines
The ones I used to hear when I held you
And they keep me from feeling so cheated defeated
When reflections in your eyes show me a fool

These rose colored glasses that I'm looking through
Show only the beauty cause they hide all the truth

So I just keep on hoping, believing…

That's So Random

One aspect of parenting I enjoy is to hear the trends and times reflected through my son. Just as I had my G.I. Joes and 007 gear, Shmoikel has his Magic: The Gathering cards and video game systems.

I pay attention to verbal trends, too. Lately the phrase I hear, in various versions, is "That's so random." His mother indicated that he says that to her, too.

Case in point: Last weekend we visited the fabulous Greenwich Library, where I scoop up CDs by the dozen every week. Outside the library stands a metal sculpture of that beloved indigenous Connecticut animal, the long-haired yak. Short, squat, and bronzish, the Greenwich yak mystified Shmoikel.

"Why a yak?" he mused. "That's so random."

This hints that "random" is a synonym for "unexplainable."

To reduce the level of randomness in the universe, I said we should do another sculpture for the library of a "generic animal." It would be non-random, indeed, non-specific en…

Newsweek Rethinks "The Marriage Crunch" -- But Whatever Happened to "Luscious and Looking"?

Digging into its archives, Newsweek magazine has re-examined the data and the daters in its notorious June 1986 cover article "The Marriage Crunch." The article spun statistics in a study called "Marriage Patterns in the United States." Women across America got hit with the "traumatic news" about the relationship of aging and marriage prospects:
According to the report, white, college-educated women born in the mid-'50s who are still single at 30 have only a 20 percent chance of marrying. By the age of 35 the odds drop to 5 percent. Forty-year-olds are more likely to be killed by a terrorist: they have a minuscule 2.6 percent probability of tying the knot.
Newsweek took a fresh look at the article and tracked down 11 of the 14 women interviewed in the 1986 piece, and found eight were married, three were singled, and none divorced. Overall, Newsweek found the marriage odds are much better now.

However, for all the rethinking and reinterviewing, Newsweek i…

I'm Turning Japanese

I've dabbled in many languages in my life, even an effort to teach myself ancient Greek before I started college in the fall of 1976. Not that I can speak anything besides English -- I'm more a dilettante waiting for the day when I can activate my meandering studies in a real-life situation (as in, get a job that requires me to actually understand, say, Portuguese).

Last week I moved farther afield than ever when I started a five-week Japanese Language and Culture class at my company. I don't know why the class is being offered. It has no bearing on my professional responsibilities. However, my linguistic spirit of adventure had me sign up.

The first week's language segment focused on greetings and the simplest one-stroke letters. Over the weekend son Shmoikel relentlessly drilled me so, incredibly, the polysyllabic words began to make sense. The cartoon pictures that serve as memory aides for learning letters -- "Mt. St. Helens is quiet today" for "he&quo…

Beneath the Planet of the Nutmeggers

I take great pleasure in life when I can think, "This is something I have never done before." That happened yesterday when Shmoikel and I went on a cave exploration trip sponsored by the Bruce Museum of Greenwich. Other than a 1971 visit to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico -- hardly rigorous, more a stroll along well-lit underground paths -- I have never entered a cave.

Two dozen of us, split between adults and kids on their spring break, boarded a bus in Greenwich for the 75 minute drive to Litchfield County's Tory's Cave. An instruction sheet told us to wear layers of clothes and bring our own food and water. We were ready, to some extent.

Once we arrived, we met three skilled guides who just returned from a cave trip to Belize. After historical and safety remarks, we donned hardhats with small flashlights taped to them and began the descent. Whatever Shmoikel and I expected, this wasn't it. Rather than a chilly but dry, dark but wide cave entrance, we slithered d…

When Retailers Give Up

Twice lately I've gone shopping for basic household items. My default retailer is a local hardware store here in Fairfield County, Connecticut. I always try to support the small guys. The results are sometimes discouraging.

First, I wanted an over-the-door towel rack from my bathroom. The plastic one I bought at this store snapped within five minutes. I took it back for a refund. Then I tried Home Depot. After circling the store and consulting a half-dozen orange-aproned associates, somebody told me to go to Wal-Mart. And this was Home Depot! Sure enough, I found a cheap plastic over-the-door at Wal-Mart. Which also broke. Finally, I found exactly what I wanted at Bed Bath & Beyond.

This week I needed a water bottle to take to a cave exploring trip with Shmoikel. Again I returned to my local store. Again, it stocked nothing I wanted. "Oh, the Rubbermaid company is having a lot of problems," a sales associate told me. "Try Wal-mart."

I don't want to try Wa…

Fatherhood on the Margin of Memory

My parents separated before I was three, and I have not a single memory of my family as an intact unit. Indeed, my father moved far away from my mother, brother and me before I was 5 years old, and I didn't see him for eight years.

Against this background of my parents' divorce and my divorce, my heart sank when my son, not quite a teen, told me he could not remember me living at home, with his mother and him. I moved out in 2002, when he was just past 8. Shmoikel knows me only at a distance, not the dad at home, but the dad on the phone, the dad with his other home.

Fortunately, I've worked hard to maintain a relationship. He may not remember me at the house, but he has a rich store of continual contact. I call every night, even if I'm on a date (what better way to show my solid parenting skills?), and maintain a clockwork-like visitation schedule.

Still, the sadness lingers, somewhere between a bruise and a shiv in my ribs. Surely my son benefits from growing up withou…

PARODY: Harvard, Yale Team Up to Produce Deluxe Edition of "Israel Lobby" Paper

[UPDATE: The April 12 New York Times carries an article titled, "Essay Stirs Debate About Influence of a Jewish Lobby." It's worth a look to see how brave Dr. Mearsheimer and stalwart Dr. Walt are holding up to the onslaught of attacks by "the Lobby." Why, they knew they were committing "career suicide in terms of getting a high-level administrative job in academia or a policy-making position," Mearsheimer said. What, provost of King Faisal University isn't good enough for you?]

Just in time for Passover, Harvard and Yale Universities are collaborating on a deluxe edition of the best-selling (in Saudi Arabia) scholastic paper "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy."

Announced at a press conference today in Cambridge, Mass., the book promises to bring the Harvard-published pathbreaking research of John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Joseph Walt of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government to a wider audience of readers.


Repentence, 26 Years Later

March 24 marked the 26th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero in San Salvador. Now, one man involved in the murder is speaking out and asking for forgiveness. Alvaro Saravia, an aide to death squad leader and politician Roberto D'Aubuisson, acknowledged his role in the killing. Speaking with El Nuevo Herald in Miami, Saravia used striking language to make his point. Note the response from the current Archbishop of El Salvador:
As to his request for forgiveness, ''that's a moral obligation I have, as a human being, to society, to the Church and myself,'' Saravia said in an interview recently in a Latin American country he asked not be identified for his personal security.

Saravia said he is willing to appear before the Archbishop of El Salvador, Msgr. Fernando Sáenz La Calle, to ask for forgiveness. Sáenz La Calle said the offer brought him surprise and joy.

''God always forgives when there is true repentance and a desire to make amen…

How Borders Ignores the Record of 9-11

People going to Borders book stores asking for the now-infamous banned Motoon issue of Free Inquiry magazine can also ask another question: "What books do you have on 9-11?"

Answer: you will find almost none. That was my conclusion after I visited a huge Borders location in New York, on 57th Street and Park Avenue. Just a few miles from Ground Zero, the store carried not a single book devoted to 9-11 in its first-floor section of New York books, "All Things Local." The ONLY fleeting reference to 9-11 was in FDNY: An Illustrated History.

I wanted to be fair to Borders, so I asked a sales associate where I could find 9-11 books.

She couldn't point me to a specific section, but she mentioned 102 Minutes by New York Times reporters Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn. She suggested I look in Modern U.S. History and the politics sections.

I spent at least 30 minutes scouring the shelves of history, politics, and even photography. Surely, I thought, a New York Borders would kee…

Cherchez La Femme: The Return of Adrienne Barbeau, My Most Dangerous Woman

I've known some dangerous women in my life. They combine killer looks with personalities that threaten to chew up any man who cross them. They have hard romantic histories, burdened by bad men that leave them vulnerable and hard-shelled at the same time. Relationships with them promise passion and ferocious high-decibel drama. Dangerous women can cause men to act in strange ways, perfectly captured in the French phrase cherchez la femme.

Growing up in the 1970s, I decided, in my murky adolescent mind, that the ultimate Dangerous Woman was Adrienne Barbeau, co-star of Maude and then featured in lots of b-movies. Something about her grabbed my imagination in a way no other actress of that era did. So imagine my delight to learn she's now starring in the play, "The Property Known as Judy Garland" at New York's Actors' Playhouse. I can now buy a ticket to enjoy my dangerous woman, seen at her most deadly, below.

On Maude, Barbeau played Maude's single-mom daugh…

News from the Near Future: Yale to Award Honorary Degree to Sirhan Sirhan

April 1, 2006: Yale University has announced it will award an honorary degree to Palestinian-American activist Sirhan Bishara Sirhan.

University president Richard Levin told a press conference, "Sirhan is an outstanding representative of the Palestinian people, a true fighter for the rights of Palestinians to live peacefully in their own homeland. Tragically, he has been a political prisoner of the U.S. government for almost 40 years, simply for acting on his beliefs. While we cannot give back to Sirhan those lost decades of his life, we can give him an honorary degree, suitable for framing."

Speaking via telephone from his home at the Federal penitentiary in Corcoran, Calif., Sirhan said, "This is a great day for the Arabs, the Palestinians, and everybody who ever donated money to Yale University. Their investment is paying off, as Yale extends the ivy branch to victims of political repression such as myself and my spiritual brother Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi." The d…

Suppress Without Mercy the New Trotskyites (in HR)

An article in HR Magazine last month, "Detecting Hidden Bias," is a most intriguing read. The subhead deftly captures the story's essence: "You may not see it, but it’s probably lurking among your managers—and perhaps even in you."

The article discusses the malign menace of unseen, nigh undetectable bias in human resource departments. Despite the lawsuits, training, online courses, seminars, conferences, and sensitivity efforts, the threat remains -- more dangerous than ever:
According to analysis conducted by a Harvard University-led research team, it is entirely possible that you and your manager are biased—and that you don’t even know it.

Such hidden biases can be disastrous for the employees who suffer as a result of them; they also can damage businesses by leading managers and employees to make flawed business decisions in a number of areas, including hiring, promotion, training opportunities and project assignments. For HR, the task is clear, but daunting: …

A Light Unto the Nations, Still

This is an amazing story. The text is not available via a link to the Independent in the UK, so I'm placing the text here. The message is that beyond the bickering, the intermarriage, the hyper-organization and sub-organization, Judaism has a message for the world that retains enormous, if understated, appeal.


Matthias Goering says: "I used to feel cursed by my name. Now I feel blessed."

The 49-year-old physiotherapist, a descendant of Hermann Goering, Adolf Hitler's right-hand man, is wearing a Jewish skullcap, with a Star of David pendant round his neck. After being brought up to despise Jews, he has embraced their faith. And although he has yet to formally convert to Judaism, he keeps kosher dietary rules, celebrates shabbat and is learning Hebrew.

In a Jewish restaurant in Basle, Mr Goering enthuses about Israel. "It feels like home," he says. "The Israelis are so friendly." Even when they hear his name? "Yes, they say they're …

"The Godfather" Video Game: The Search for Consequences

March must be Mob Month: the new season of "The Sopranos" begins tonight, and Electronic Arts (EA) is releasing a video-game version of "The Godfather" on March 19.

The game sticks close to the book and movies, using the real voices of some characters. Set in New York between 1945 and 1955, the game
will offer gamers countless choices for solving the family's problems with brutal violence, skillful diplomacy, or a cunning mixture of both. From mob hits and bank heists to drive-bys and extortion, step deep inside the world of The Godfather -- where intimidation and negotiation are your tickets to the top. Players will use their powers of loyalty and fear to earn respect through interactions with characters in the world. Decisions made by the player in the game will have lasting consequences, just as it was in the mob underworld featured in The Godfather fiction.
As the father of a game-playing adolescent, the game's point makes me queasy. Let's focus on the…

PARODY: MTV's "Spring Break Gitmo" Names Cindy Sheehan as Guest Bachelorette

MTV's smash new show, "Spring Break Gitmo," will feature Cindy Sheehan as its first bachelorette in its "Terrorist Dating Game" segment. In the first episode, three terrorist-bachelors will battle one another to win the affections of Cindy, along with valuable prizes.

Ashton Kutcher and Courtney Love host the program direct from balmy, palmy, party-down Guantanamo Bay. Each week the show will feature a sexy celebrity bachelorette. Here's the premise: After qualifying rounds, three contestants will compete in several events that measure their courage and stamina. For Sheehan's segment, the wacky challenges include:

-- Wearing Cindy's panties on their heads

-- Spending 24 hours straight logged on to Daily Kos and Democratic Underground

-- Playing the Roy Cohn role in humorous skits written by Tony Kusher

The highlight of the segment -- filmed before a boisturous crowd of detainees and drunken college students -- comes when Cindy lobs hilarious questions …

HUMOR: H'wood Homophobes Nix Dix Pix; Chix-Lix Flix Clix?

America reeled last night as the hidden homophobes of Hollywood denied "Brokeback Mountain" its rightful Oscar for Best Picture, instead giving the precious little statuette to "Crash," some movie about race relations in Los Angeles with a title that sounds more like a "Super Mario" racing game.

While Ang Lee got the Oscar for best director and somebody named Gustavo Santaolalla won an Oscar for best score for Brokeback Mountain, the film's supporters expressed outrage at the revenge of the heterosexists.

"The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences could have sent a very powerful message about the acceptance of gay cowpokes," asserted one observer. "Instead, the academy honored a picture about different ethnic groups getting on one another's nerves."

Director Lee, however, plans to leverage his Brokeback success into related projects. He's now developing a splashy musical comedy about gay mullahs in the Middle East, with …

Mullah's Version of "Get Up, I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine"

James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, performed the classic version of the song "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine," with the powerfully poetic lyrics
Fellas, I'm ready to get up and do my thing
I wanta get into it, man, you know...
Like a, like a sex machine, man,
Movin'... doin' it, you know
Can I count it off? (Go ahead)

But James Brown had better watch his back, 'cause this unidentified mullah looks likes he's ready to throw down and challenge for the crown of the New Godfather of Funky Moves. Check it out, oh kafirs.

I Love It When Psychiatrists Talk Dirty

Dr. Sanity puts a certain Venezuelan strongman on the couch for gentle probing under the headine: "Chavez: A Case of Castration Anxiety?" She writes,
It is striking, though, how Chavez perfectly embodies some of Freud's early concepts relating to paranoia and castration anxiety. He would make a good case discussion.

Katrina and Free Speech: Making the Connection

I just found this riveting counter-conventional wisdom discussion of the Katrina rescue efforts by Lou Dolinar. It illustrates what I call the "Flight 93" approach to problem-solving: Get off your tuchus and act, don't sit around waiting for some distant group to rescue you. As the story shows, this applies to members of the government themselves, who acted well on their own initiative. Dolinar writes:
Largely ignored by the agenda-driven national media, one of the largest rescue operations in history saved more than 50,000 people by boat and helicopter. In this Dunkirk on the Mississippi, Coast Guard and other military units, volunteers, and state and local first responders delivered thousands from death by drowning, dehydration, heatstroke, fire, starvation, and disease. The three goats of Katrina — FEMA’s Michael Brown, Gov. Kathleen Blanco, and Mayor Nagin — had little if any role; in fact, because local communication was wiped out by the storm, they may not even have…

Speaking Out for Free Speech in New York

About 100 stalwart supporters of Denmark and free speech gathered at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in New York today. Blasting the total lack of interest from mainstream media in an event in a city integral to the Terrorist War, the demonstrators drew approving honks from truck drivers and others on 2nd Avenue. The photos below give a flavor of the event.

One highlight of the event involved moving comments from Lisa Ramaci-Vincent, widow of murdered journalist Steve Vincent. "I came to warn you first-hand of the dangers of Islamic extremism," she said. Ramaci-Vincent is shown below.

In keeping with the country in the spotlight, the event featured some strong expressions of solidarity with Denmark and its culture of cheese and Vikings:

UPDATE: Mary's report contrasts our demo with the anti-cartoon Muslim demo from two weeks ago.

One of the many Protest Babes, Pamela of Atlas Shrugs, takes video that appeared on the Internet.

Excuse me, where might I find the Danish soccer fans?

Ah, h…

The Good, the Bad, and the Offensive: Ideas for Placards at a Pro-Danish Demonstration

I'll be attending a pro-Danish demonstration at UN Plaza tomorrow from 12 noon to 1 pm in New York, outside the Danish consulate. I hope to take lots of great photos of people -- thousands of people, I hope -- raising their voices in defense of Western values.

I've done my part by suggesting text for placards that my fellow Sons and Daughters of Liberty can wave around and, in need be, shove into the snouts of counter-demonstrators. Here you go:

What part of "freedom of the press" do you not understand?

1st Amendment + 2nd Amendment = Victory over Terrorists

Live Free or Die: Good for New Hampshire, Good for America

The Little Mermaid Does NOT Wear a Burkha! (great Photoshop possibility)

A Danish a day keeps Sharia away

Kufirs for Freedom

Hands off the Vikings

We're a Christian nation, but we won't turn the other cheek

The 7th century does not come after the 21st century

Free speech > Religious intolerance

Free speech rulez, repression droolz

Freedom is just another …

Solidarity, Then and Now

In 1979, Pope John Paul II returned to his native Poland and held mass before 250,000 people. He spoke words that challenged the atheist ideology of the Soviet Union and its ruling puppets in Poland. According to this report in CNN, the audience responded in a way that directly linked their faith to freedom:
"Therefore, Christ cannot be kept out of the history of man in any part of the globe, at any longitude or latitude of geography. ... Christ cannot be kept out of this part of the world. To try to do this is an act against man."

"Christ conquers, Christ rules," they sang, hundreds of thousands of triumphant voices. And from among the yellow and white papal flags in the crowd a banner was unfurled that read: "Freedom, independence, protection of human rights."

A year after the Pope's visit, Lech Walesa formed the independent trade union Solidarity, the wedge of opposition to Soviet rule that eventually swept communist governments and the USSR itself …

The West Finds Its Voice: Meet Scott Lo Baido, Creative Patriot

The easiest art in the world involves mixing and matching these themes: President Bush is an evil repressive moron. Christians are fascist simpletons. Laugh at Southerners. Race and gender issues rule. Corporations are scum. Israel is the source of evil in the universe. Throw in some naked bodies and you're on the cover of the Village Voice and other alternative publications in a jiffy -- 'cause you're fighting the power, man.

But the truly transgressive art looks askance at this conventional wisdom and feeds it back in a fun-house mirror reflection. The most visible, assertive practitioner of this kind of art is Scott Lo Baido, who had a New York show at the Tribute Gallery not far from Ground Zero in the weeks before the 2004 election. Here's one example of his 9-11 themed work, called "The New York Giants," featuring Rudy Guiliani and New York police and firefighters:

And in recent days Lo Baido, who calls himself "the Creative Patriot," started a…

You Ain't Nothin' But a Jihad Dog, Killin' All the Time

The West continues to find its voice, now singing through the Velvet Prophet:

With or without fluorescent paint, few things are as quintessentially kitschy as black velvet paintings. But many political leaders in Europe and the United States seem to agree with the Pope and the Islamic community that free speech is what's truly out of style. In response to this officially endorsed cultural intimidation, an international group of brave human rights activists have created the Velvet Muhammad to demonstrate that "free speech is never in poor taste."

The Prophet, who shares a remarkable likeness to the King, can be viewed in all his finery at - or soon, in the offices of several major Islamic organizations. The Velvet Prophet team is giving original, hand-painted Velvet Prophets to several of the groups inciting rage in Muslim communities. Gift recipients include Jamaía Islamiya, Arab European League, Muslim Council of Britain, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Islamic Defe…

Jews Against Israel:" March of the Self-Flagellators

Emanuelle Ottolenghi has a stellar piece in the Jerusalem Post with the pithily accurate title "Jews Against Israel." Ottolenghi, who teaches Israel Studies at Oxford, discusses the Jews who eagerly line up to trash Israel and all those other Zionazis who don't toe the correct line. He writes:
These self-flagellating Jews crave acceptance and recognition. Their views are moot inside the Jewish world, since they have, by and large, lost the argument against the Jewish mainstream and its commitment to Israel. Having been rejected by their fellow Jews, they put their venom to the service of Israel's enemies as a way of regaining a place in the sun.

Is it any wonder that they can win a debate about Jewish identity only when Israel's enemies define the terms of engagement, and have last say on the outcome?

Read the rest.

The West Begins to Find Its Voice Against the Orcs

In the battle of media imagery, the Islamists are the clear winners -- by default. Their demonstrations bristle with placards threatening bloody mayhem on the West. I take them seriously. By contrast, the West has remained mostly supine, relentlessly self-flagellating and fearful of being branded racists or imperialists for defending the truths we hold to be self-evident.

I've always wondered, when will the people of the West (and those who live by Western values) raise their voices to defend free speech, the rights of the individual, women, real tolerance, free enterprise, and other fruits of the past 250 years? Cartoons spoofing Mohammed, while a brave example of free expression, are not enough.

The West is beginning to find its voice and speak up against the Orcs. Evidence of a forceful, unapologetic Western response is becoming visible. Finally.

The first kudo goes to psychatrist Pat Santy, who blogs under the name Dr. Sanity. Santy created a simple placard, text against a yello…

JDate Opens the Kimono

JDate is the site subscribers love to hate -- creaky technology, lackluster customer service, and weak quality control that lets scammers from Ghana (or someplace) send out email after email. But if you're Jewish and not Orthodox, it's just about the only game in the electronic shtetl.

Still, there's another side to consider: JDate the business. It's part of Spark Networks, a company with a new listing on the American Stock Exchange (trading under the ticker symbol LOV) and public financial results. Spark released its fourth quarter and year-end results on Feb. 16, providing insights into the size and performance of both JDate and Sparks.

Let's take a look as JDate opens the kimono, as they say on Wall Street.

First, how big is JDate? Membership numbers in the press are impressive but vague. A sponsored link on Google by JDate refers to "500,000+ Singles." This article from the Los Angeles Times claims 600,000 members, or "one in 10 Jewish singles.&quo…

"Chinatown" Enchantment

When I saw Roman Polanski's "Chinatown" when it was released in 1974, the music haunted me as much as the story. "I Can't Get Started" and "The Way You Look Tonight" hinted at a world of music and emotion beyond the Top 40 sounds I heard on KRIO and other AM stations. In those pre-VCR, pre-Internet, and almost pre-FM days, I could only depend on fragmented memory to retain the shimmering music. I didn't even know the names of the songs.

I just knew I had to have the soundtrack.

As an adult in New York, I scoured record stores and could not find it, for any price. As great and honored as the movie was, the soundtrack simply did not exist.

As with my need for love, I never stopped searching. Finally, during a backpacking month in Europe in September 1984, I spied a Japanese import version at Virgin Records in London. I bought the album (back in those vinyl days) on September 29 for a king's ransom of 17.99 pounds and VERY carefully brought it b…