Wednesday, August 26, 2009


He's Back ...

... and nobody gave me the memo. Anyway, check out the blogger formerly known as olvlzl's new digs (link at left).

Friday, August 21, 2009



I may not be a troll, but sometimes I am a Niebelung (c.f. earlier posts). But it appears that my efforts are for in the comments here. Evidently, in order for lefties to have a sane discussion about Israel, a right wingnut (*) needs to call Israelis Nazis and thus remind the left that Zionism is a form of socialism not racism.

I wonder when so-called "Zionist" righties will realize what kind of country Israel is and I also wonder when anti-Zionist lefties will realize what kind of liberal polity they can't abide. I guess the desire to force a narrative of colonialism (loved by the right and loathed by the left) where it really doesn't belong (as well as old fashioned anti-Semitism) blinds people to who are their friends and who are their enemies.

OTOH, do we as Jews really want to get into bed politically with people who are quick to "heil Hitler" simply because they support Israel and even wear IDF t-shirts?
Are we that blind too?

* it doesn't work when one of us Jews reminds left-wing anti-Zionists of this sort of thing -- they just clam up and say "sure Israel is good for Israeli Jews but it's not very good toward Palestinians" with no regards to how or why the Palestinians are in the (non) state they are in other than "if Israel didn't exist, they wouldn't be occupying Palestinian territory -- not even any regards to the fact that someone else would be oppressing Palestinians anyway ... as if that's an argument, though


Finally: A Peterson Tobacco in my Peterson Pipe

As you may recall, about a year ago, I received, from a very dear friend of half Irish ancestry who had come back from a trip to Ireland bearing gifts as a belated birthday, in the midst of moving and early starting a new job as a perfessor present, a new Peterson pipe. Well, now I have finally decided to get something other than my beloved C&D "kitchen sink" tobacco and finally smoke a Peterson tobacco. Irish Oak, to be exact. It was between that and Old Dublin: Irish Oak is aromatic and lacks Latakia and Old Dublin lacks perique, and perique won out over non-aromaticity and Latakia. I just hope this mildly aromatic (aromatic in this case meaning seemingly only aged in sherry oak) doesn't foul up my pipe for smoking my usual non-aromatic blends.

In any case, in spite of mixed reviews, I am so far impressed with this tobacco. It has a very nice tin aroma with oak and sherry nicely complementing the fig and musty odors of the perique. It looked like the meta-blend that attracted me to kitchen-sink tobaccos in the first place -- my blend of RLP-6 and Revelation. And it kind of tastes like that too. It was sure strong on the match, having an initial nicotine kick rivaling Missassippi Mud. But as I sit in Rufus King Park (yes, I am writing this blog entry in Notepad in the park, so pardon the spelling errors) smoking it whilst my mechanic desparately tries to find a new tire for me (I ran over a curb Wed. and busted a tire ... and my wife's car has the hardest to find tires evah, evidently), it has a coolness (again similar to Mississippi Mud --albeit without the smokiness of the Latakia containing Mississippi Mud -- or possibly even a hookah -- that must be the Cavendish talking) together with cigar notes including an almost unidentifiable spiciness (remaniscent of Onyx Reserve cigars), presumably a combination of the perique, "exotic" Virginias and the sherry oak aging, of the sort that goes well in coffee (it sure is a nice after coffee smoke, which is how, luckily, I am having it) or with nuts. It would be wonderful to bottle this in syrup format and use it in everything one has with breakfast. It's indeed a good morning smoke.

We'll have to see, though, how well it works in the afternoon and evening and whether I can still smoke non-aromatic kitchen sink blends in my pipe after this. But, while I had been thinking "maybe I should have gone with Old Dublin" and not worried about my pipe, I'm now very glad I got this. Kitchen sink blends with a little sherry note won't be bad at all, anyway.

Update: the tobacco has now had a chance to settle in a bit in the tin (drying out, getting re-humidified, etc.) and now the Perique is really strong (and I am also getting more herbal cigar notes). Just opening the tin now, you can really smell the musty and fig like odors of the Perique and the nicotine, while not noticeable in terms of pepperiness, really has a kick ... it's hard to walk up stairs after smoking this! This tobacco is good! I do miss the Latakia ... but only a little.

Monday, August 17, 2009


If Profits are High, Ur Doin' It Wrong

Overhead the morning C[orporate] NBC financial talking heads while smoking an Oliva G maduro cigar(*) and writing code at Barklay-Rex (I took the bus in today, and stopped in the city to hang out and code for a bit): they were a bit confused about what it meant that the GDP and corporate profits were approaching pre-reccession levels (cue GOoPers claiming that the media has a liberal bias for claiming Obama fixed the recession ... indeed, the reporters were squarely --citing Reuters -- blaming Bush & CO for the ression, which will just add fuel to the liberal media meme without actually helping the progressive cause ... how is it that media types consistently say just the right things to "betray" their "liberal bias" all while, when all is said an done, putting forward a very GOP friendly message, so that "even the liberal media supports the GOP"?).

Of course, we can't expect much from so-called financial reporters not understanding how a stronger dollar isn't being well received by the stock market (lower exports anyone? -- who's educating the financial correspondents around here? I'm a biophysical chemist, and I know more about finance than these yahoos!). But still, do they not understand that if corporate profits are high yet we are still feeling a bad recession that means there is something wrong with our recovery? Maybe the reason why big business and even big finance are happy but we aren't has something to do with who's on Team Obama? Perhaps things would be better if Obama had people on his team who actually were right about the recession rather than people who helped cause it (and cause economic problems world wide for the benefit of the economic powers that be as part of the World Bank/IMF), things would be different? Maybe we should have listened to the K-man about Obama? After all, the K-man didn't get a Nobel Prize for nothin' ...

Anyway, this isn't the only thing Team Obama just doesn't get. Why the hell are they dropping the public option? Let's go to the tape: GOP (via the tea baggers) push against a public option with scare tactics, Dems. cave, due to a lack of public options, everything the GOP 'warned' us would happen does, so the GOP rides to victory. How is this any different than the GOP's tried and true strategy of push Mayor Quimby to release Side Show Bob from jail then run against Mayor Quimby for being soft on crime and even releasing Side Show Bob? Why is Obama still playing 10 dimensional chess in a football game? As I keep saying, the Dems. need to just catch the football rather than fumbling it and breaking their fingers in the process. Of course it doesn't help that any time some Dems. try to catch the football, "even the liberal media" tars and feathers "extremist Dems" even as they have a record of ignoring or treating as marginal ("of course the liberal media would declare the GOP base to be marginal") similar movements amonst the GOoPers?

BTW -- doesn't the title reflect the free market in general? If the free market really worked as advertised, so to speak, if a company was making a lot of profit, a competitor would emerge and be able to sell the same product/service for cheaper (i.e. with lower profits) and drive the price and profits down? Don't high profits indicate a lack of efficiency in the market? Or am I thinking too much like a physical chemist here in how I conceptualize efficiency? I guess the question is "efficient at what?" ...


* you'll have to pardon how nicotine addled this post is. I did write it whilst smoking. Anyway, here are the tasting notes:

Oliva Serie G maduro (robusto?)

Cigar a bit dry
Initial taste on wetting tip: spicy
Bland on match building up slowly with woody, grassy and sharp tannic notes
Changing about half-way through to alcoholic and tarragon
Nettle flavor comes in about 2/3rds way through in addition to (slightly faded) tarragon and alcohol
Approaching nub, tarragon and alcohol notes fade away under the nettle flavor
At very end, slight kumquat-tar and astringent grainy and nutty notes appear along with nettle flavor

This cigar certainly was a much appreciated change of pace from what I usually smoke, but it hardly is a "new favorite". It does leave a nice, almost fruity (and certainly complementary to sun lotion) smell on my clothes. I wonder if anyone'll notice?

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Maybe I Should Read This? ...

... or maybe I shouldn't since, given this book review, the book in question seems like it reflect my views on the subject matter, so why bother reading it?

Monday, August 03, 2009


Questions Occasioned by Lingering News

Some questions in my mind as the Gates' arrest story, the Kirchik (sp?) hit piece and Obama-care sink in:

(1) Where is the right on the Gates' arrest story? In particular why aren't they concerned that, whatever the context, someone was effectively arrested because he did not immediately comply with an order to produce his ID card? Indeed, many on the right are saying he should have produced such a card ...

Why is this a kasha? Because not so long ago (i.e. before "9/11 changed everything"(TM)) one of the big fears of the right (that even trumped fear of immigrants) was the issue of ID cards, etc. Anti-communists and right-libertarians feared us turning into a Yurpean-style police state in which anyone anywhere could be asked "where are your papers?". Pre-millennialists feared that an ID card would be a "sign of the beast". And yet these groups are now so silent about the issue of having to produce an ID everywhere and for everything? Why? Because "9/11 changed everything"(TM)? Do they not see that if some Commie or Satan (or the Monsters due of Maple Street) wanted to take over then all they would need to do is engineer a 9/11 style plot (Hashem forbid) and then they have their way? Hofstadter (sp?) warned of the paranoid style of American politics -- but now we see that sometimes the most paranoid suddenly also develop blind-spots and become the most easily duped (c.f. how certain Jews paranoid about anti-Semitism thus get into bed politically with theological anti-Semites because said anti-Semites "support" Israel)

(2) Speaking of issues in re. Israel (and thus the Kirchick piece): from a Zionist perspective why should American Jews be any more supportive of Israel than say American Greek Orthodox of Greek extraction should be particularly supportive of Greece? If an American Greek Orthodox Christian of Greek extraction spoke out against some action of Greece, would that make said person a self-hating Greek? If a WASP spoke out about something the Brits did, would such a person be a self-hating WASP?

Isn't the whole point of Zionism that we Jews should be just another nation? We should have a state like all the goyisher ethnic groups were supposed to get as well? Nu? So why should, from a strictly Zionist point of view, any American Jew be any more supportive of Israel than any other ethnic American (belonging to an "ethnic religion") be supportive of his/her ancestral homeland? Can't one argue that people like Kirchick, far from "supporting" Israel are in fact "objectively anti-Zionist" to use a phrase that Commies and their spiritual descendants on the right, the neo-cons would use?

OTOH, of course we Jews do have an obligation to our fellow Jews (although I suspect those quoting Gemarah to say that Jews shouldn't turn in other Jews to secular authorities are missing some important context, e.g. the difference between Rome and Parthia on the one hand and the US on the other!). Thus we have an obligation to support measures that maintain the security of the people of Israel (and also Jewish access to our holy sites). At this point, this means "supporting" the state of Israel (and also a resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that places Jews in harm's way -- including opposition to counter-productive Israeli activities like booting out Palestinians from homes even if "we purchased those apartments fair and square" -- such arguments merely strengthen anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews and money that we should be trying to break, not strengthen). But support for some abstract state of Israel, whose founding ideology directly opposes the central Jewish notion of being an "am ha-kodesh", is hardly a Jewish thing to do -- although you wouldn't know it stepping into a synagogue nowadays.

BTW -- one issue about Jewish "support" from Israel is that it does blind our eyes to the specter of the religious right, which is hardly really supportive of Judaism in a real sense (as opposed to their "support" of Israel) ... c.f. my comments on a semi-recent thread on Pandagon where I otherwise am concerned primarily with the "New Atheists".

(3) Obama-care: it looks like the Dems. are going to push through a bill that regulates health insurance companies, but in a way (especially if the public option is limited access) that will raise health insurance premiums and cause people to be dropped from health insurance. Is this really what we want to have identified as our "health care reform plan"? Even if the worst fears I mention don't come to pass, given the "compromises" Dems. seem to be willing to make, this is how the health care plan can and will be demagogued. Note to the Democrats: if you want health care reform you need to either catch it like a football or get out of the way. Too many Democrats, as I keep saying, seem like people who've never played catch with a football: if you try to catch the football in a half-assed manner with the tip of your fingers, you'll drop the ball and break your fingers. You either have to catch the ball or get out of the way.

Similarly with health care (and so many things): the Dems. need to either push for real reform or just get out of the way and stop this fight. If they push through some compromise which doesn't go far enough, all that will happen is health insurance companies will start raising premiums, health care will be even less affordable and it will be blamed on the Democrats for pushing through the regulations they did push through. And even the specter of this happening is enough (as it has been in the past) for the GOP to make political hay of the situation.

Anything else I should be questioning while I'm at it?

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