Friday, July 20, 2007

Hello again

So, here we are. I've been, thank God, extremely busy with work. And the best part is that I'm doing it. I mean, I'm doing it in a disciplined way which involves making to-do lists, setting aside time for tasks, and crossing everything off the list by the end of the day. Boy does that feel good. And it also explains why I'm not blogging much these days; the writing for which I am paid must take precedence. Still, I'm sure you are curious to know these thoughts which have been circling through my head:

1) A new article by Noah Feldman is scheduled to appear in Sunday's NY Times (it is available now to members of Times Select) in which he has some very nasty (technically accurate, but overblown) things to say about the Modern Orthodox community in which he grew up. Noah and I attended the same Jewish Day School -- he was 2 years ahead of me, and his brother was in my class -- and he describes his experience there in some detail. It's amazing how he and I attended the same school and yet perceive it, and the world, and the way the school sees the world, so differently. Not completely differently -- like I said, his complaints are technically accurate, and his descriptions of teachers and classes brought back many memories -- but ultimately, his understanding of the Jewish Day School experience is effected (not affected, but effected) by his own personal hangups. (Just as mine is, I'm sure.)

As I just said to a fellow alumna who also read the article, "Noah is right. He's right, and he's an a**hole." I say this not because he has "aired dirty laundry" to the non-Jewish world -- he has, but often that has a place -- but because he's a hypocrite in his application of liberalism. This is the same man who says that moderate Islam should not be judged by racist or jihadist passages in the Koran, because a people should be judged by what they do, not by the texts they study.

He's also an a**hole because he spends hundreds of words talking about Baruch Goldstein, without fully addressing the shock and horror that most of the modern Orthodox world (at least in America) felt after Goldstein did what he did. In other words -- again -- it's technically accurate, and he does mention that not all Orthodox Jews liked what Goldstein did, but the nasty bits are discussed out of proportion to the values that, in my experience, most modern Orthodox Jews in America act on. And ultimately, actions speak much louder about our values than words do.

Anyhow, I can't wait to see the letters that will appear in response to his latest piece. This is going to get very heated. Fasten your seatbelts.

2) My copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has been pre-ordered, paid for, and confirmed, and will, if all goes as planned, be ready for pickup exactly 66 minutes after Shabbat ends tomorrow night. Meanwhile I am avoiding any and all media articles or websites that even hint of spoilers.

For the record, here are my predictions of what will happen, based on my knowledge of Books 1-6 (slight spoilers of Book 6 to follow, but nothing major):

a) Harry will vanquish Voldemort
b) In the process, Ron will die
c) Snape will be revealed to have been on the side of Good all along (loathsome in personality, but acting on the side of Good)
d) Harry will quietly retire into the Muggle world, coming back now and then to the magical one to visit the Weasleys, Neville, Luna etc. I'm thinking maybe he'll become a detective or a policeman.
e) I think Ginny will go with him
f) Draco will redeem himself in some way, leading us to the conclusion that he will become the new Snape: loathsome, but, having done teshuva, acting now on the side of Good
g) In Book 7, Hogwarts will re-open on a small scale, but Harry, Ron, and Hermione won't return to it - they'll be busy looking for Horcruxes
h) On, there has been a suggestion that Hermione will end up with Draco. I find the idea intriguing, and theoretically possible IF Ron dies and IF Draco does teshuva . . . after all, Lilly Potter thought that James was a pompous jerk for years, as Hermione thinks of Draco. However, I'm not sure that Hermione would go for a guy who ever was in with Death Eaters, even if he DID lower his want before doing that evil thing in Book 6 that he'd been assigned to do. Still . . . do you think perhaps some of the animosity between Draco and Hermione is caused by sexual tension? A point to ponder . . .
i) RAB is indeed Regulus Black, and Harry will have to find Mundungus and Mundungus' clients in order to complete his quest for Horcruxes.
j) Dudley Dursley will suddenly show the ability to perform magic, sending himself, Petunia, and Vernon into a tizzy
k) Percy Weasley will still be insufferable at the end of the series
l) Bill Weasley is basically all right - no MAJOR harm done.
m) Bellatrix will be sent back to Azkaban
o) We will find out what is behind the veil
p) Harry will have one more magical encounter with the spirits of his parents

That's all I can think of for now. We'll see on Sunday how many of these predictions are correct.

Please, if you've read any of the newspaper reviews of the new book, or seen the contraband images which were posted online, do NOT put spoilers in the comments.

3) Shimmy was in town! My old friend! We've been friends for 19 years, longer by far than the amount of time we didn't know each other yet. It was great to see him, like old times.

4) I have been studiously ignoring politics because I can't handle it. However, I very much enjoyed the report from Beirut by my friend and colleague, Lisa Goldman. Let's see now.
Lisa: goes into hostile territory on her own, is accused of espionage by the Arab press, and earns international attention.
Sarah: producing good writing from the safety of Tal's Bagels.
Hm. I wonder which of us is more likely to win the Pulitzer Prize someday? :-)

5) UYO follow-up meeting on Monday night (a chance for people to "check in" and talk) was very special. It was very uplifting for me to see that something I worked on really helped people.

6) Process of looking for a new apartment (to buy, not rent) has begun. I've seen two so far, one of which was horrible and the other of which was OK but not for me. Apparently finding an apartment is like dating, you just keep looking until you find the one that's right. However, unlike men, apartments can be changed. With apartments, when one envisions what it COULD be like, what POTENTIAL it has, and how it could be CHANGED to be more like what one wants, then one is being smart, not unrealistic.

Ciao for now, and have a happy Saturday.

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