Wednesday, July 18, 2012


          I have not written a post in almost a year. A lot has happened since my nineteenth birthday. One thing is that I took that English class over again because the first professor was not a match. The second professor was a true inspiration. I officially declared myself as an Economics major. I have delved further into my skepticism as well. I have had plenty of hard times and some humorous times. I have met new people that I find interesting. I have learned some new philosophy including Maimonides.  Maimonides was a truly one of a kind, it is a shame that there are very few religious people who are as rational as Maimonides, now I know why he was accused of heresy and was so controversial.

       Another update is that I have convinced my parents to let me study abroad in Paris. I have never thought of going to France. I was always scared to venture to France for many reasons. One reason may be, because I am Jewish and I learned about their role in my History of the Holocaust. Another reason may be because I found the whole fancy French stereotype to be overrated. However, I decided that I need to get away from my home for a bit and I always wanted to go to Europe in general, so this is an amazing opportunity. I always imagined going to Italy or Greece, but France is warming up to me. I have read up on some of the mannerisms of the French. I already had a French neighbor, so I knew that not all French people are rude. Going to Paris as a person who barely knows ten words of French is pretty awkward, I imagine that I am a quick learner and I am very determined. I am determined to do all the touristy things, including going to the Louvre Museum. I am determined to avoid Starbucks, and sit in those corner cafes. I am determined to prove to myself that I am capable of independence. I am determined to learn how to socialize better with other people. So many opportunities for me are coming that I can hardly breathe. 

    I am anxious, excited, elated and curious all at once. Meanwhile I will continue to post about random things including the journal assignments I have to do for class. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Older I Get, The More Skeptical I Become

    Today, (27 July, 2011) is my nineteenth birthday. Yes that's right the last birthday of my teenage years. Another thing that is significant about this birthday is that your secular and Jewish birthday are on the same day on your nineteenth birthday. However I woke up today just like every other day. I did not feel special and I was in a bad mood for most of the day.

  One thing that annoyed me was that the the nineteenth birthday is a very insignificant birthday especially since you can do everything at nineteen that you could do at eighteen such as, vote, buy a cigarette, get married etc. I hate when people get a birthday high, when in fact to everybody else your birthday is just another day. I am awaiting my twenty-first birthday, just so that I can throw a party in a bar, not because I am a social person or, because I enjoy drinking (which I occasionally do.) I will throw that party just to show that I as a person have gained another right.

  However, one thing that offends me most are the people who pretend that they actually care that it is my birthday. Most of the people who wished my happy birthday on Facebook only knew that it was my birthday because, Facebook told them so. I do not mind it as long as these are people are people whom I encounter on a regular basis and/or actually give me a birthday wish that is not as cliche as the stereotypical "Happy Birthday' wish. Those two words take less than 30 seconds to type. One person put in the effort and actually posted this amazing video where people sing For He is a Jolly Good Fellow in Klingon. I find having my BlackBerry vibrate throughout the day just so that I can see "Happy birthday", or "Happy bday" to be quite irksome.

   I like Facebook because, otherwise I would be ignorant of my surroundings and upcoming events and is a useful tool for school, but I really hate getting those insincere happy birthday wishes especially when I have not had any contact whatsoever with that individual for years or months to be very hurtful. If that makes me in South Park terms a "cynical asshole", then so be it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

My Social Life, or Lack Thereof

   I was always socially awkward, and many people took advantage of that. I normally try to cover it with sarcasm or jokes that many take offense to. The reason I do this is because I have noticed from observing people, sarcasm is highly prevalent in conversations among average people. Although I have noticed that it is more damaging than helpful.

   One such example was this week, when I bumped into two acquaintances at school. One of them asked which course I was taking. I told her that I was taking core math. She asked if I was late to class, to which I responded that I just got out. I was then informed that she was late to class. Then I said the joke that was the equivalent of strike one at a baseball game, I jokingly said that I thought that she was an "OCD freak", which was my term of endearment to describe someone who was very meticulous. I did explain that it was a joke. I then took notice of the other acquaintance's makeup. I pulled the nerve together to ask why she was wearing so much makeup. Her response was that she was not wearing a lot of makeup, but that she had tanned. With all the health problems that suntanning brings I assume that anyone can figure out what my response was. If you assumed that I jokingly asked if she wanted to age quickly and get skin cancer, then you are absolutely correct. The second acquaintance then told the first acquaintance what I said. I then said that I had to go and the first acquaintance was headed my way. I said that it was nice talking to her (even though that was the furthest from the truth that I could go) and asked her which class she was taking. Her response was that the feeling was mutual. She then gave me social advice as in not to call people OCD freaks and not to make jokes about skin cancer. I then told her that I admired how meticulous she was, which was true. What someone can say about me is that I stumble over every single sentence if I get beyond my comfort zone, which is true.

   Although what one can see from my retelling of the conversation is that I am socially awkward, yet I desire a social life, I do not think that the second part of the statement is true. I have been told by my father, and countless other people that I need to learn how to make friends. When I am told this hackneyed statement, a few responses come to mind. One of them is that my social life is none of their business. Another response is to stop trying to take a cheap shot at my self-esteem, which would be mostly for my father since we have a complicated love/hate relationship (although, I do not really believe in love, I do believe in mutually beneficial relationships). And then, to sum it all up my final argument would be that a social life is overrated,  especially if you are different and have to make new friends and you always have the feeling that you do not fit in and will eventually be used and/or dumped.

    I do not mind reading all day. When I make friends in school I tend to keep them at a distance. I do not spend time with them on weekends and I do not tell them too much about my personal life. My main purpose for these friends is to have people to ask if I ever need any help, or if I have a feeling that I could use some advice when it comes to the class. I started college in Fall of 2010, and I soon came to realize that I was the laughingstock. Most people kept clear of me, although I did find two people with whom I acquainted myself with. I did not really care about a social life then, because I decided to focus on my school work. I did eat lunch with people, but I did not establish an emotional connection with them. I simply sat with them so I could talk about my favorite show, South Park, maybe even study together for the Classical Cultures quiz, since we had the same instructor.

  The reason I find a social life to be overrated is because, unless I find the right people for my personality type it will never happen. I do have acquaintances and one friend who I keep in touch with, but I am not the type of person who likes to go shopping with friends, going to the movies, etc every single weekend with a friends, or friends. I find these things annoying, because if you do them with the wrong person  they can be annoying, especially shopping. When I was younger the only reason that I used to wish that I had an active social life, was because I was taught that it was good to have friends, my sister was also a social butterfly, and I was bored every Friday night and Saturday because I could not watch TV because of the Jewish Sabbath. Every time I thought that I had a group of friends in my neighborhood, they managed to either demean me, or use me in some way. Let's just say that these "friendships" never worked out. I also find small talk to be very boring and tedious.

   On weekdays I do not care that my social life is lacking, as long as I have some way to entertain myself. I tend to hang out in the same places a lot, which does not bother me. However, what does bother me is when I go to a place so often that when I order a drink they remember my usual order, and what name to write on the cup of my drink. I guess that I like to keep myself at a distance. I am naive, and therefore I have to keep my guard up.

  I am not  like that with everybody. I do occasionally become somewhat friendly with a person, just that I do not trust him/her right away. I will not count Facebook as a social life, so therefore I virtually have no social life, and guess what? I am perfectly fine with it.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Applying Philosophical Theory to the New Square Arson Attempt

   John Locke an Enlightenment philosopher whose philosophy influenced the American Declaration of Independence said that a person is entitled to "life liberty and property." However from reading about the New Square arson attempt, John Locke does not apply to them. Aron Rottenberg decided to pray in a synagogue outside the village along with a few friend, the Rebbe, David Twersky, the ultimate religious authority of the town in Rockland County, New York that is predominantly part of the Skver Hasidut, reacted by making a decree that nobody could pray outside his synagogue. Rottenberg was constantly harassed, his children were kicked out of school, his property was damaged, he even received threatening phone calls. Ultimately this ended when, the Rebbe's butler, Shaul Spitzer decided to take a rag doused in gasoline and attempt to burn down Rottenberg's home. Rottenberg confronted Spitzer which led to over 50% of Rottenberg's body being covered in third degree burns and Spitzer with burns on his hands and arms and is out on bail being treated for his burns at Cornell's burn unit.

  Obviously most people would say that New Square sounds like a horrible place to live and that this was a horrible occurrence, and that what Spitzer and the Rebbe did was outrageous. I would probably say that I agree with that, but let's take a more objective view at this. Rottenberg simply chose a synagogue that fit his preference which is part of personal freedom, he decided that the going to pray outside the village was better for him. The Rebbe then decided to use his power and influence as in most religious societies to make a declaration that the residents were forbidden to pray outside his synagogue, I assume to maintain the monopoly that he had over his synagogue. People who view the Rebbe as the supreme authority decided that the Rebbe's word trumped a person's basic freedom. You can see it in the video above when the  asked if he lives in America the follower of the Rebbe, the follower replies the he lives in "Jewland." 

    Rottenberg was denied the right of choosing where to pray, but that was not the only right that was denied. He clearly was denied the right to property seeing how people threw rocks at his widow and smashed the windows of his car, and ultimately the arson attempt. Also another thing that a person should know about New Square is that there is probably one school for boys and girls each and people who do not dress according to the standards of the town are shunned. Also Rottenberg's life was threatened through the phone calls and the attempted arson, thus denying him and his family the right to life.

  Many will ask why Rottenberg did not just leave if he did not like the conditions that he was living under. Well, that question can be answered by this article. This article says that Rottenberg tried to sell his house for what it was worth, $600K, but those who tried to buy it for that price were threatened, thus denying Rottenberg's personal freedom along with the perspective buyers' freedom, I mean if it is true. Those responsible for the threats said that he could sell the house for only $300K, because they did not want him to make a profit off of leaving New Square. He was denied his personal freedom in many respects.

  The burn victim hires Michael Sussman as his lawyer, who calls for federal investigation into the events surrounding Rottenberg's attack, and whether the town violated his civil liberties. This supposedly outrages the residents of the village. Since when was it outrageous to hire a lawyer and ask for a government investigation after something of this magnitude happens? I am not a proponent for big government, but I feel that the government has a right to intervene when a person's rights were violated. Well, one can look past civil rights, but this was not just about civil rights, but also violated all his natural rights. I am sure that John Locke would agree with me in this case.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

When Are We Liable?

When I found out that Barnes and Noble was releasing a new NOOK I knew that that was what I wanted. For the past few occasions that warranted presents I did not know what I wanted and my birthday is coming in two months. Now I know that the new NOOK is what I want with its touch screen and EInk, I do not have the NOOK yet, however I did download the NOOK for PC app along with a few ebooks.

   I am one who is interested in Christian culture and the supernatural so I typed "The Book of Revelations" into the B&N search engine. One of the results that came up was a book by that name, but had a picture of a Jewish Star and a Swastika on the cover and it was free. I went to click on the cover to see what it was about, because I knew that this had nothing to do with the biblical book that went by the same name. I read the synopsis to see what it was about, and I found it to be interesting. 
  The book was about a psychiatrist,Dr. Simon Panalewicz who was sent to jail for attacking  a girl for apparently no reason. From his California jail cell the psychiatrist requests that certain clergy visit him despite the fact that he is an atheist. Among the clergy of whom he requests a visit is a prestigious rabbi  by the name of, Rabbi Max Gutterman, from New York. At first Rabbi Gutterman is not sure whether he should visit the psychiatrist. In the end the rabbi decides to do so. He enters the jail cell of the psychiatrist who then begins to ask him about whether he believes in past lives. The rabbi says that he does not believe so to which the doctor responds that there have been regressions into past livesdue to hypnosis and that he attacked the girl for who she was in a past life. The rabbi and the doctor continue to their verbal exchange that ends when the psychiatrist asks offers to tell the rabbi who he was in a past life. This offends the rabbi to the point that he storms out of the jail and says that he will not come back to visit him. The rabbi, however does come back only to hear the psychiatrist tell him that he was Adolf Hitler in a past life. You can imagine how a rabbi of any denomination would take that. Obviously, Hitler the leader of the Nazi Part and the Third Reich, and is known to be responsible for the death 6,000,000 is not someone that any Jew, let alone a rabbi would have wanted to have been in a past life.

   The rabbi finally hits the boiling point and flies back to New York. He was hoping to deal with the situation on his own. However, that is not what happens. He tells his father and friends who do not believe it. The rabbi then starts finding Swastikas on their door and a threatening letter addressed to him that says that they will kill Hitler. Rabbi Gutterman soon finds out that there are two sides vying for him, the Jurors who want him dead and the Nazis who want to bring out the Hitler in him. The Nazis want Gutterman alive despite the fact that he is a Jew and is not genetically part of "The Master Race" and they think of using him as a double agent among the Jews. The Jurors meanwhile do not go according to what their names imply, instead they kill first and ask questions later, which I find to be extremely ironic. The Jurors end up taking over everything including the government and continue killing people for who they were in past lives.

   The question I have is whether Rabbi Gutterman is responsible for the actions of his past life. Rabbi Gutterman was a kind and caring man who was open-minded and gave second chances. One would never expect that the rabbi could have been Hitler in a past life. In fact I believe this shows how a person is molded by his environment, although I do not believe that it excuses Hitler of all that he did. I also think that if the rabbi was Hitler in a past life then I admire him for how he was able to keep the bad characteristics under control and use them for good, which makes me view him as a stronger person than Hitler.

   This also brings the question of whether extra-legal activities of vigilantes should be allowed. Like the Death Note manga series, it deals with vigilantes trying to bring "justice" to the world. In Death Note there is a boy who decides to bring justice to the world and kill criminals by writing their name in a notebook which causes them to die. The boy's actions are assumed to be by a death god by the name of Kira. He soon obtains a strong support base and everyone depends on him to kill all the criminals to make the world a better place. However he ends up killing innocent people and everyone who gets in his way. He soon thinks that he is God and can do whatever he wants. The Jurors are similar in that they think that it is up to them to bring "justice" to the world in ways that are not legal and they eventually gain the support of governments to do so.

   I view a new life as an escape from a past life to prove who you can be, I mean if there are new lives. Also if there are past lives and we would be judged based on them, something tells me that half of us would be dead.

Friday, May 20, 2011

My (Attempted) Review of Cannibal!: The Musical

   Last night a friend and I got on to the subject of the South Park movie, South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut. My friend told me that I had to watch Cannibal!: The Musical. Cannibal: The Musical was made as a college class assignment by the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. As my friend told me, it covers many of the themes that were later drafted into the making of South Park, which is one of my favorite shows.

   It is set in the late 1800s loosely based on the true story of Alfred Packer, who was accused of cannibalism.  The first scene of the movie is a portrayal of how the cannibalism supposedly took place.Alfred Packer (Trey Parker) the leader a group of Mormon miners from Utah, supposedly headed towards Breckenridge, Colorado to find their fortune in mining gold and, is accuse of cannibalism. Alfred Packer is portrayed to the jury as randomly ripping off body parts of the members of his crew. The goriness in this scene is not too different than the scenes that one would see in Monty Python's The Holy Grail. A female reporter from the Denver Post decides to interview him. He at first is reluctant to tell her, but after flirting with him her becomes an open book. The reporter mentions Leanne, who we find out was Packer's horse. Packer had an unnatural attachment to Leanne, almost as one would have with a longtime girl friend or a spouse. This is understandable, seeing as Leanne was named after Trey Parker's ex-girlfriend, this name is given to Cartman's mother on South Park. The verdict of the trial was that Packer was guilty and is sentenced to death. As Packer is waiting to die he tells her more.

   After the original guide of the expedition to Colorado was shot Packer reluctantly becomes the leader of the expedition where he, and the rest of the crew, including Leanne travel on foot. However, he changes his direction after his horse leaves him.for his rivals, the trappers. The cannibalism starts after one of the crew members sings about one of the crew members sings about making a snowman as everybody is freezing to death. He annoyed the crew so badly that one of the crew members shot him. As the crew was starving to death they decided to consume the flesh. Then Bell decides to kill the crew when Packer is away claiming that it was out of self defense. He was so freaked out by what Bell had done that Packer felt the urge to kill Bell.What was hilarious was how long it took to kill Bell, he had to be stabbed and shot multiple times. Ultimately Bell stops moving and is assumed dead. Packer goes to the town where the trappers are to find out that Leanne was not stolen but actually left him. What was probably a reference, to Parker's ex was when one of the Trappers said that everyone in town has ridden his horse, probably to reference that his girlfriend was a harlot, similar to how Cartman's mother, who as I said before has the same name is portrayed. Eventually the town's people find the crew members and Packer runs to Wyoming, where he is ultimately caught. Everyone is so excited on the day of his execution that they make a musical number about it. Ultimately Packer is relieved of his death sentence, thanks to the reporter, because of ex post facto law, it was before Colorado was a state and is released in 1901. He and the reporter fall in love he gets over the rejection he suffered by Leanne and all is well until Bell with an ax and gun in his head is actually alive and sneaks up on Packer and his girlfriend. This is similar to the unexpected ending of Monty Python's The Holy Grail, when the knights were arrested by the police in 20th century police cars in the medieval setting.

   The musical numbers including the "Snowman" song were hilarious, if you like satirical, immature humor, which is what I love.The music numbers were very similar to those on South Park, in that the singing is not random and unnoticed and is supposed to be a mockery of a musical. I loved the songs although I am just not one to enjoy a song that gives a detailed description of how someone dies when hung. It says in the introduction it originally came out around the same time Oklahoma came out, but it was forgotten because it was upstage by its rival. What was interesting is how many references it had to South Park, from the Monty Pythonesque gory humor, to the red Jewfro that is similar to South Park's Kyle, on Humphrey's, one of crew member's head, to the portrayal of his horse Leanne as a harlot like how Cartman's mother is portrayed. Many of these concepts are those that South Park fans will enjoy and be familiar with.

   To end this attempted review I will say I enjoyed this movie immensely and that those who like Monty Python will also. Another thing that I would like to say is that those who are queasy should not watch it seeing as it has plenty of violence and gore. However I love it and I give this two thumbs up.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Heaven, or Hell?

People from The Family Radio have been going around New York City saying that Judgement Day, as in the day that God judges whether you are worthy of being redeemed when the Messiah comes will be on May 21, 2011. Even if I actually believed that that was true I would still not repent for my sins and be subservient to Jesus. I would first like to know where they got that date from. I have  also decided to use my own logic into defining what Heaven and Hell would be like according to how it is portrayed by religion. Heaven is a place where all the people who follow God's way go. Despite the fact that many argue what the right way is to follow God there, I have come to conclusion that, if there is a God only one way that is the correct way to follow him. Heaven can be a place where only Catholics, Jews, Orthodox Christians, etc only have access to. If only one way is right then Heaven is not a diverse place and if one was to go to Heaven then they would be bored out of their minds, because it would be a place where there would be no intelligent thought, everyone would not question God's judgement and everything would be provided for them so there would be nothing for them to do. To conclude this thought, I have decided that Hell would be a place where there is diversity, intelligent thought and, hard work. From here I have decided that Heaven is actually Hell, and Hell is actually Heaven.