Monday, August 29, 2005

Pained Parenthood

Dangnabit, but getting mature (or something) is a real bummer; we've been so busy preparing for the new arrival that we haven't had time to catch any shows or drop by our usual hangouts recently, which makes for a pretty boring blog. What that means is that we've gotta get political again. I've made my obligatory Israeli post, so I'll move on to local stuff (there are one or two people who do a much better job on the Israeli political sphere anyway).

There's been a recent ongoing anti-Iraq war protest spearheaded by Cindy Sheehan, whose son, Casey, was an Army specialist killed in Iraq in April. Immediately, she's become the darling of much of the leftist camp, and a nemesis of the right-wing. You'll find tons of analysis of her, her motivations, and her poltical allies online, and I'm not going to add to that pile. I am surprised, though, that, as far as I know, nobody's compared her with another recent politically-charged parent, Mary Shindler, the mother of Terri Schiavo.

It's probably no surprise to anyone who knows me that my politics tend to skew somewhat left-of-center. I would have thought, though, that sympathizing with parents who lost their children would be a universal thing. Not so. The bile spewing from several right wing sites about Sheehan's motives and lack of patriotism is coming from the same sources that wrapped the Shindlers in the mantle of wounded parenthood. Similarly, many of the people who are now praising Cindy Sheehan ranted about the Shindlers' joining forces with political "sharks" to advance their cause.

Folks, we are dealing with parents who lost or were losing children. Now, I'm not a parent just yet, but there's almost nothing I wouldn't do for my baby right now, when he/she is simply a large lump, occasionally making odd movements and keeping mommy awake at night. I can't imagine what kind of pain it must be for someone who has raised a child to lose him, and pray with every fiber of my being that I never find out. Shame on all those without the decency to sympathize with a mourning mother.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

"G-d Wins" Law

(Warning! Apparently, my irregular political thought and religious thought cycles synchronized today. Regular irreverent musings will continue in a later post)

There's an old (by internet standards) rule on internet discussions called Godwin's Law which, in its more general form, states that heated discussions will inevitably invoke a Nazi/Hitler comparison, and when this happens, the invoker shall automatically be deemed to have lost the argument.

This is one piece of internet lore that I personally adopt in my general life. Members of my synagogue have numbers tattooed on their arms, and I've seen/heard/read too much of the Shoah to allow that evil horror to be cheapened by comparison to anything other than other systematic genocidal campaigns. I've spit at one person in my adult life, and that was some anti-Iraqi-war fellow making a Bush/Hitler comparison on my way home from work.

Following the NY Times coverage of the Israeli pullout/disengagement/expulsion (choose your preferred term) from Gaza, I came across the following:

In one house, a settler who had thrown eggs at soldiers and journalists was one of the last to go. His door had a poster from the Nazi era, implying that Israel was making Gaza a "Jewish-free" zone. He wore an orange Star of David on his shirt, marked "Jude," German for Jew. When his wife finally agreed to leave the house, all her children left with their arms up, screaming in unison, all wearing an orange star, a piece of theater for the television cameras.

You are highly unlikely to ever read political commentary on internal Israeli politics on this blog for as long as I live in the US. I will not comment on whether or not I think Ariel Sharon's policy is generally good or bad (as if anyone cared what a political illiterate like me thought in the first place), but I think that anyone, no matter how angry at the State of Israel, who can compare the actions of the men and women of the IDF carrying out this difficult task to Nazis needs to be vocally taken down a peg. Not to belabor the point, but: The Nazis didn't come unarmed. The Nazis didn't negotiate. The Nazis didn't use female soldiers to move female residents out of respect for religious sensibilities. The Nazis didn't compensate families that they disposessed. You made the Nazi analogy, you lost the argument. Period.

Josh comments on the short film "A Stab in the Heart" as a needed reminder that the Jewish people are still in exile. While I disagree with his assessment of the film, I agree with his overall point. David's too, I should add. It's unity that the Jewish people need. It's tears for soldiers and for settlers.

I've been reading my Hirsch recently. Consistently, in his Nineteen Letters, in Horeb, and his Biblical commentary, he points out the critical point of the nation of Israel forging its identity not in a land, not in a state, not in political motivation, but in the Torah. For me, that's what I'll be trying to do; increase my observance of the Torah in word and action. I make no grandiose claims that my meager works will tilt the scales of the world for good, but it's my little start. I'm going to invoke a new law; call it the "G-d wins" law, where I remember Who's really in charge.

Monday, August 15, 2005

More Than You Wanted to Know

I'm not really sure what it says about me, but I broke my three week music-free stint by listening to the songs from Silence!, the musical adaptation of Silence of the Lambs currently playing at the New York City Fringe Festival. What's really weird is that I recognize one of the actors in the show. Buffalo Bill is being played by Stephen Bienskie, whom I know from the original off-b'way cast of The Last Session. Going from playing a young homophobic fundamentalist Baptist to a homicidal maniac who likes skinning fat women seems like a bit of a stretch to me, but then again, he was in Cats in between. Having to hear "Memory" eight times a week'll probably put you in just the right mood to murder anyone.

Y'know, The Lovely Wife(tm) didn't get pregnant to provide me with blogging material, but you'd think that while she was at it, she'd provide me with some amusing material to share with the rest of the world. I mean, Robin Williams and Bill Cosby have done hours of pregnancy-related standup material; I figured I'd get at least a post or two out of the whole situation. But no: this has been a ridiculously uneventful pregnancy (ptoo, ptoo, ptoo *assorted gestures to ward off the evil eye*), except that I find myself waking up in the middle of the night to throw on another blanket while TLW turns the AC level up to deep freeze and shrieks "it's ROASTING in here!"

The major syndrome that I've been unable to avoid, however, is the book-buying binge. Now, I'd be hypocritical to complain about anyone buying a lot of books (what with the Vertigo collection alone taking up more than a full shelf now), but TLW(tm) has purchased enough name dictionaries, "What to Expect" and "What to Buy"-type tomes, and "How to Raise a (Wonderful-Perfect-Respectful-Will-Come-Out-of-the-Womb-and-Start-Doing-YOUR-Work)Baby" manuals to fill a small room (remember, we live in a Manhattan apartment; EVERY room is a small room!). Of course, being a guy, I tend to go by the "get the manual when you need it" school of thought, which means that I'll skim the birth-six month book sometime when the kid's off in grade school, and check the "Toddler" series out while helping him/her out with his/her college application (we've really gotta come up with a gender-neutral noun other that "it," doncha think?), so I guess it balances out somewhat.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

On Muffins, Ovens, and Aging

A simple request to all ladies in the audience who are pregnant or might some day become pregnant. Could you please do your colleagues (particularly your male colleagues) a huge favor, and wear a big placard saying "Yes, I'm pregnant and you may offer your best wishes now" when you're ready for people to say something to you? A recently married co-worker of mine, for "medical reasons," suddenly could no longer lift heavy objects or be exposed to solvent fumes. While the reason for this was apparent to most of us, she said nothing, so we said nothing. Suddenly, out of the blue, she's been talking about her child to be, with no break in between. As a result, those of us who wanted to wish her well either missed our chance, or risked saying something too soon, which The Lovely Wife(tm) has informed me is a faux pas of such epic proportions that it would make a high school cafeteria food fight look like an evening at Martha Stewart's by comparison.

If impending fatherhood weren't enough to make me feel old, I just got an email from a friend who made aliyah back in my early college days. Her daughter, whom I remember as an infant, is now in the army. The picture of this girl who I remember picking up with one arm in uniform... Well, I'm gonna go buy some Geritol and yell at the kids on the front lawn now.