Thursday, May 31, 2012

Location, Location, Location

Some of you may have noticed by now the "location" tag on all my blogs.

They all come from a seemingly random place, but upon closer inspection, they all have a little something to do with the blog post itself. Be it a related word to the post, or a sarcastic joke of what it is.

For those of you who haven't noticed, or even those who have, I decided after a month of posts (now) to compile the complete list in one post, and give the reasoning to them all.

And yes, they are all real locations.

  • Big Beaver, PA - Because it's just funny.
  • Climax, GA - Yes, my first few locations were kinda was before I started getting cute with them.
  • Zigzag, OR - This was on my first poem, which went all over the place
  • Money Island Beach, NC - On a post about my sanity...
  • Niceville, FL - The schedule to my madness, which has mostly been followed til now - Go me!
  • Crackersport, PA - On my first sports post.
  • Cranberry Marsh, WI - The attention span there is probably not that large.
  • Looneyville, NY - While introducing the The Shomer Toucher...I apologize.
  • Funkhouser, IL - When I was in a funk about being used.
  • Interwebs - While creating a now non-used Twitter account.
  • Hotchkissville, CT - "Kiss" while talking about the choices of Shomer Negiah
  • Bacon, IN - A poem that ended with a quote on bacon.
  • Kiryas Joel, NY - On a post about Chassidim...if you don't get this one, I can't help you.
  • Fort Dick, CA - Another sports post, which is generally a manly thing.
  • Goose Egg, WY - On The Shomer Touchers first post. A goose egg amongst my golden eggs. Eh, who am I kidding, TSTs posts are brilliant.
  • Dumbell, WY - Talking about the Asifah....I think it was appropriate.
  • Hand, SD - On a post about handwriting.
  • Nunapitsinchak, AK - Don't ask. It was just an awesome name.
  • Mt Homa, Kenya - President Barack Hussein Obama's "Hometown"
  • Sao Paolo, Brazil - Another sports post, with multiple stories on soccer (futbol), so only appropriate to bring in Brazil.
  • Guide, Hainan, Qinghai, China - Because there was no correct place to stick this post.
  • Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL - Well, because it was Linkin Park lyrics...
  • Angerville, France - I was angry...
  • Bieber, CA - Poor city was named after that Canadian girl.
  • Fukita, Itano, Itano District, Tokushima Prefecture, Japan - It was a thought. I needed a longer location name then the thought.
  • Whatcom County Jail, 311 Grand St, Bellingham, WA 98225, USA - I was talking about petitions, including ones to get people out of jail.
  • Tomb of the Unknowns, VA - Was there any place more appropriate for Memorial Day?
  • San Andreas Fault, CA - Talking about peoples faults.
  • Nadi, Fiji - This post, since that's how many people will still be reading by this point. Nada.

Cheerio people. One month in :) how long can I last? (That's what you said last night, what a coincidence.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Healer, Heal Thyself

I'm lucky enough to have a very educated circle of friends, many of whom are practicing or pursuing specialized careers in providing for the well being of others.

Psychology seems to be an all-around favorite profession. For some reason it makes me proud to watch my friends and contemporaries become mental health counselors, social workers, psychologists and school psychologists. I imagine these curricula to be vast and hopefully taxing on the undertakers' critical reasoning skills.

Sometimes the reaction to all this material is to become alarmist and recognize yourself in the disorders, even though your tendencies are still within normal limits. Still at other times, you manage to completely miss the fact that you have intra/interpersonal issues that are quite obvious to even non-qualified people who know you. Or, you acknowledge your issues but fail to tackle them the same way that you would encourage your underlings to do.

It becomes unsettling to see said psychologist stamping their professional opinion on other people's behaviors when you experience firsthand how dysfunctionally they deal with you in a conflict. I know it's difficult to recognize your own faults, but your position becomes laughable to me if your techniques are not good enough to work on yourself. It makes me wonder why you went into the profession in the first place. Just like I doubt the abilities of the hairstylist whose hair is shapeless and highlights are in dire straits, I am doubting whether I would honestly feel confident in you managing my (theoretical) case or the case of anyone I care about. If you were anything but a hairstylist, your messy hair would go unnoticed, but in the role you chose that attribute is under scrutiny.

If you have a long-standing personality issue that needs to be fixed but cannot be changed easily, I suggest you stop procrastinating. Acknowledge, apologize, take responsibility for it and for heaven's sake get off your high horse. The accomplishments in your career do not cover up your personal shortcomings that your friends and family have to endure. It makes you look foolish.

It's instinctual to look for faults in those who put themselves out there as experts. As your friends, we know you are a normal person despite your intellectual authority, and we try not to hold you to a higher standard of mental integrity than a regular person. However when you fall below that bar even.... you fail. And some observations don't require your degree in order to be correct.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day Thoughts

I have mixed feelings on how Memorial Day is treated.

To me, it should be about taking the day out to remember all that everyone who died for this country, did.

It should be about waving the flag with pride, because truthfully, there is no greater country in the world then America.

I get a little annoyed at sales, and barbecues, and other things that are done specifically on Memorial Day, since this ruins the essence of what the day represents.

But then you have the other side of the coin. These things, the sales, BBQs, etc., are only made possible because these people died for our country.

So maybe that too is the right way to treat it.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Without Due Reasoning

I got that text/email again yesterday, you know which one I mean: "PLZ FWD TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS: Sign this petition for _____ ______ and send it to everyone you know!!!!"

So, I responded as I always do: "What is the petition for, and why should I sign it?"

And 99% of the time, they answer the same way: "Well, my friend sent it to me, so I clicked it, and then I sent it to you."

So you don't actually know what you are signing?

You are doing it simply because your friends are doing it?

This explains why so many people do drugs, drink and drive, have premarital sex, and eat Twinkies.

Because people are stupid and will do anything someone tells them to, without actually thinking about what they are doing.

Now, I'm sure that the petitions going around these days are for great causes. Whether they are to free prisoners in foreign countries or to save Trader Joe's Chocolate Chips, if you don't know what it is you are signing for, and what the reasoning behind the motion is, then I beg of you, don't sign it.

And sure as hell don't forward it to me unless you have all the details and are ready to tell me why I should be signing it too.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Not in the right place of mind to be doing a real blog post right now.

So I just have a question.

If you say something to someone, and you say you really mean it, but then publicly say the same thing to tens of other people, how can someone believe you are sincere?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

SNL Thoughts and Bieber (BARF)

Monday's post kind of became a Wondering Woman's Wednesday let's call it that, and today will be a Musing Monday.

Today I am thinking about Saturday Night Live, or SNL, and their digital shorts.

I'm sure you've seen some of them, such as "Dick in a Box", "I Just Had Sex", or the Grammy nominated song "I'm On a Boat".

They are created by a musical group known as Lonely Island, which is made up mostly of Jews, with the singers being Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone.

Two weeks ago they featured their 100th digital short, and to do so, they made a new song, featuring within it a montage of some of their other best works.

Personally, I loved it. I've loved the other work they've done before, and this was no different.

It had one difference, it was missing Akiva, and in his place was the Canadian-Ball-Of-Puke, Justin Bieber. And the song even referenced that Akiva was missing, with JB (can't even say the name) in his place.

Now, as usual, it was a filthy song, mostly featuring them talking about celebrating by, and I quote: "tonight, we are going to suck our own dicks".

And JB joking and saying "Wait, what?"...or was he being serious?

A few days later, a report came out saying JB was disgusted by the video. Is he serious?

Anyone who has ever seen any of the Lonely Island pieces clearly knew that it would feature at least one crazy feature. And if it is supposed to be a celebration of the best, then it is even more likely to feature the best of older clips.

Was this post-hating just more hype for the video, in which he feigned disgust? Or was it real?

And if JB didn't know that coming in...then I guess it really is true...he is just a teenage Canadian girl, and is too stupid for America, which frankly, is quite hard to be.

Video here for those that missed it...enjoy :) you can be sure I did!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

It's All In The Smile

So the people who know me in the real world, know that I am looking to date, yet it never ceases to amaze me the stupidity of some people.

I was hanging out with a friend a few weeks ago (let's call him Yisroel), and when he left, another married female friend came over, and asked me who he was.

I told her his name, and asked her "Why?"

Her response?

"Well, he has a great smile, I think I have a few girls to set him up with if he's looking."


Now, don't get me wrong, Yisroel happens to be one of the nicest guys I know, but you are trying to set him up, without knowing him at all, because of his smile?!

Ted Kaczynski had a beautiful smile...I doubt anyone would want to date him.

And on that note, this married friend, who I've known for 5+ years now, has NEVER, not once, tried setting me up with somebody.

So sure, set up my friends. But don't come to me, and ask me his name, because he has a nice smile. I too have a nice smile, especially after I vent my anger by punching you in the face.


It starts with one thing, I don't know why
It doesn't even matter how hard you try
Keep that in mind, I designed this rhyme
To explain in due time
All I know
Time is a valuable thing
Watch it fly by as the pendulum swings
Watch it count down to the end of the day
The clock ticks life away
It's so unreal
Didn't look out below
Watch the time go right out the window
Trying to hold on but didn't even know
Wasted it all just to
Watch you go
I kept everything inside and even though I tried, it all fell apart
What it meant to me will eventually be a memory of a time when I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn't even matter
I had to fall
To lose it all
But in the end
It doesn't even matter

One thing, I don't know why
It doesn't even matter how hard you try
Keep that in mind, I designed this rhyme
To remind myself how
I tried so hard
In spite of the way you were mocking me
Acting like I was part of your property
Remembering all the times you fought with me
I'm surprised it got so far
Things aren't the way they were before
You wouldn't even recognize me anymore
Not that you knew me back then
But it all comes back to me
In the end
You kept everything inside and even though I tried, it all fell apart
What it meant to me will eventually be a memory of a time when I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn't even matter
I had to fall
To lose it all
But in the end
It doesn't even matter

I've put my trust in you
Pushed as far as I can go
For all this
There's only one thing you should know
I've put my trust in you
Pushed as far as I can go
For all this
There's only one thing you should know
I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn't even matter
I had to fall
To lose it all
But in the end
It doesn't even matter

-M. Shinoda

Sorry, just needed to vent with this post.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Female Masturbation in Halacha - Guest Post

This post was emailed to me by a female reader, and asked for a place to post it. I complied. Here it is in its entirety.

Disclaimer: This is NOT a definitive halachic analysis or a 'psak' that applies to all cases - this is a very sensitive issue and each person must speak to their own Rav if they require halachic guidance. This is only research, advice and guidance given by some Rabbis that I asked. Note that this issue is NOT black on white - it is a very gray area!

Female masturbation (FM) – is it halachically permitted? There was a recent article in the YU Beacon that says that FM is completely permitted, but that women feel negatively towards masturbation because of the Issur of Hashchatat Zera Levatala. It goes on to say that they shouldn't feel this way because the obligation does not apply to women and that women feel guilty about this for no reason.
Frankly I have difficulty believing that there’s absolutely NO problem whatsoever with female masturbation (FM from now on) so I decided to do a bit of research and ask a few Rabbis, and these are the issues I came across.

I'd like to split the topic up into three seperate issues:
1. The halachic issues surrounding the technical act FM and sexual fantasy
2. Hashkafic and ethical issues relating to this kind of behaviour
3. Advice and guidance

Part 1: Halachic Analysis of FM
Specific Prohibition
The severe halachic prohibition concerning masturbation is focused on the wasting of semen involved in male masturbation. The main discussion of this is in the Gemara on Niddah 13a. It's pretty clear from there that the wasting of semen is the principal problem and other issurim (or a man touching parts of the penis, even when just urinating) are introduced as a way to avoid behaviour which may lead to full male masturbation. It seems from this that the actual act of FM is not subject to a specific prohibition.

‫תלמוד בבלי מסכת נדה דף יג עמוד א‬

דא"ר יוחנן: כל המוציא שכבת זרע לבטלה חייב מיתה

The act of male masturbation to the point of ejaculation is clearly prohibited and brought in halacha - see Rambam Issurei Biah 21:18 and Shulchan Aruch Even Haezer Siman 23. Again - no mention of women.

‫רמב"ם הלכות איסורי ביאה פרק כא הלכה יח‬

‫אסור להוציא שכבת זרע לבטלה, לפיכך לא יהיה אדם דש מבפנים וזורה מבחוץ, ולא ישא קטנהשאינה ראויה לילד, אבל אלו שמנאפין ביד ומוציאין שכבת זרע לא די להם שאיסור גדול הוא אלאשהעושה זה בנדוי הוא יושב ועליהם נאמר ידיכם דמים מלאו וכאילו הרג הנפש‬

‫שולחן ערוך אבן העזר הלכות אישות סימן כג‬

‫איסור הוצאת זרע לבטלה ודברים המביאים לכך, ובו ז' סעיפים‬

‫סעיף א‬

‫א (א) א] אסור להוציא שכבת זרע לבטלה ועון זה חמור מכל עבירות שבתורה. ב] לפיכך לא יהיהאדם דש מבפנים וזורה מבחוץ, ב (ב) ג] ולא ישא קטנה שאינה ראויה לילד‬

There is a reference in the sugya there to the severity of a man causing himself purposefuly to have an erection. The reason given is interestingly not 'in case he masturbates' but:

‫תלמוד בבלי מסכת נדה דף יג עמוד ב‬

‫מעטרה ולמעלה - אסור. אמר רב: המקשה עצמו לדעת יהא בנדוי, ולימא אסור! דקמגרי יצה"ראנפשיה. ורבי אמי אמר: נקרא עבריין, שכך אומנתו של יצר הרע, היום אומר לו עשה כך, ולמחראומר לו עשה כך, ולמחר אומר לו לך עבוד עבודת כוכבים - והולך ועובד. איכא דאמרי, אמר רביאמי: כל המביא עצמו לידי הרהור אין מכניסין אותו במחיצתו של הקב"ה, ‬

The Concern here is that a person is throwing himself into an act of 'ta'ava' and 'giving in' to the Yetser Hara which will then have a further hold on him - to the point of even inciting him to do avoda zara. This doesn't seem to have anything specifically to do with wasting semen but is a general issue of 'giving in to ta'ava' and it does not specifically mention a gender.

The prohibition of generating/giving in to ta'ava is also brought in the halacha in two places: Shulchan Aruch O.C. 240:4 states that a man may not look directly at his wife's private parts since this is 'megare yetser hara'. Even though this is directed at man, the concept could also apply to a woman. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 307:16 also prohibits (men and women) reading erotic literature for the same reason. It would make sense that FM in order to generate sexual stimulation would also fall under the same category - but see part 3 below. Lastly, giving in to ta'ava for the sake of ta'ava is not conducive to growth (see Avot, 4:21) where it says that jealousy, pleasure and honour take man out of this world.
‫שולחן ערוך אורח חיים הלכות ק"ש ותפלה של ערבית סימן רמ סעיף ד‬

* ‫אסור להסתכל באותו מקום, שכל המסתכל שם אין לו בושת פנים, ועובר על: והצנע לכת (מיכהו, ח), ומעביר הבושה מעל פניו, שכל המתבייש אינו חוטא, דכתיב: ובעבור תהיה יראתו על פניכם(שמות כ, כ) זו הבושה, לבלתי תחטאו (שמות כ, כ) ועוד דקא מגרה יצר הרע בנפשיה, * וכל שכןהנושק שם, שעובר על כל אלה ועוד, שעובר על: בל תשקצו את נפשותיכם‬.

‫שולחן ערוך אורח חיים הלכות שבת סימן שז סעיף טז‬

‫מליצות ומשלים של שיחת (נח) חולין ודברי חשק, כגון ספר עמנואל, וכן ספרי מלחמות, אסורלקרות בהם בשבת; ואף בחול אסור (נט) כב משום מושב לצים (תהילים א, א), * כג ועובר משוםאל תפנו אל האלילים (ויקרא יט, ד) לא תפנו (ס) אל מדעתכם; ובדברי חשק, איכא תו משום מגרהיצר הרע; ומי שחיברן ומי שהעתיקן, (סא) וא"צ לומר המדפיסן, * מחטיאים את הרבים. הגה:ונראה לדקדק הא דאסור (סב) לקרות בשיחת חולין וספורי מלחמות, היינו דוקא אם כתוביםבלשון לע"ז, (סג) <יג> אבל כד בלשון הקודש, (סד) שרי. (וכנ"ל מלשון שכתבו התוספות פרקכל כתבי, וכן נהגו להקל בזה‬). 

‫משנה מסכת אבות פרק ד משנה כא‬

[‫כג] רבי אליעזר הקפר אומר הקנאה והתאוה והכבוד מוציאין את האדם מן העולם‬:

Sexual Fantasy
This is an entirely seperate issur min hatorah of 'Lo Tatutu Acharei Levavchem Veacharei Eineichem'. This prohibition includes a) fantasizing about doing any aveira (not only sexual) - see Rambam Hilchot Avodah Zara 2:3; and b) looking at things which arouse one to sexual desire which is prohibited as erva - see Rambam Hilchot Teshuva 4:4. This would include reading erotica or looking at pornography - see Shulchan Aruch O.C. 307:16 (sourced above).
As such, fantasizing about sexual acts with a specific man (or woman) to whom one is prohibited in order to generate arousal would be prohibited (this also applies if you are fantasizing about kissing a boy or breaking shomer negia). This would include Jews and non-Jews. It may be that general fantasy about sex acts without a specific person in mind may not be the same, although the comments above about generating ta'ava would still apply.
Similarly, reading arotica or pornography to stimulate FM would be a problem of 'Lo Taturu'
A woman may not fantasize in any way about another man - a women may LOOK at another woman or man undressed (reiyah), but as soon as she starts having sexual intent (histaklut), she comes under lo taturu (men cannot even 'look' at women naked. Rashi on the passuk Lo Taturu in Bamidbar 16:39 seems relevant:-

הלב והעינים הם מרגלים לגוף ומסרסרים לו את העבירות, העין רואה והלב חומד והגוףעושה את העבירות

Part 2: Hashkafic Considerations

Excessive focusing on and stimulating Ta’ava is always going to be negative for personal growth and will also restrict general tikun hamidot. Tikun Hamidot itself is also a halachic obligation of ‘Vehalachta Bidrachaiv’, albeit a less defined and more subjective one. There are many references to the negativity of Ta’ava from Pirkei Avot 4:21 onwards

Part 3: Advice and Guidance

This is the hardest part of all. Everything above may be correct in principle but the question is how one can integrate that into their personal life, with all the issues that affect each person specifically. Sex drive can be extremely powerful and dominant and very difficult to subdue. This is of course a major challenge for many young men for whom life without masturbation is very difficult indeed.

It is critically important not to allow guilt feelings about this kind of thing to block religious growth and cause negative self-esteem. Whilst, for all the reasons above, I would not go so far as to say that FM is totally halachically permitted, it is certainly not something which should be central to one's cheshbon hanefesh. Many other areas of halachic and general Jewish life are much more central to growth as a Jew and these should be your focus.

When it comes to FM, one should certainly try to avoid the problems of Hirhurim/Lo Taturu and inappropriate reading material. One should also aim to try and masturbate less rather than more (with most people, the more they self-stimulate and engage in FM, the more they want to). If however one feels that pent up sexual energy is blocking her personal equilibrium and spiritual growth, and some masturbation is essential, this may be a necessary outlet at this stage.

Hope that was something to think about...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Triple Crown?, Futbol Championships, and more.

Here's your sports wrap-up for May 13-May 19.


- In the 137th running of the Preakness Stakes, "I'll Have Another" eked out a win down the final stretch and took the first two legs of the Triple Crown. As with the Derby, jockey Mario Gutierrez won his first time at the Preakness. The final leg, the Belmont Stakes, will be on June 9th. FULL STORY

- Man City needed a win to get the English title (over Man U) on Sunday, but were down 2-1 entering the 90' against the Queens Park Rangers. Scoring an incredible two goals in the stoppage time, they pulled out a 3-2 win. This was their first League Championship in 44 years. FULL STORY
- Chelsea defeated Bayern Munich for the UEFA Championship on Saturday. The needed full time, and overtime, and still went to extra kicks, with the score tied 1-1. Chelsea would take it in kicks, 4-3. FULL STORY

- 8th seeded Philadelphia and 4th Seeded Boston are tied 2-2 in a best-of-7 series. Also in the Eastern Conference, the 3rd seeded Indiana Pacers led the 2nd seeded Miami Heat, 2-1.
- In the Western Conference, both Los Angeles teams are still in play, with the Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs (down 3-0) and the Lakers facing the Oklahoma City Thunder (Down 3-1)

- The Los Angeles Kings have won 8 straight and lead the Phoenix Coyotes 3-0.
- Meanwhile in the East, the New York Rangers lead the New Jersey Devils, 2-1, after two 3-0 shutouts by Henrik Lundqvist.
The winners of each series face-off in the Stanley Cup Finals

- Suspended defense-man Jonathan Vilma, sued Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL, for defamation. FULL STORY

Friday, May 18, 2012

The First Gay President...Really?

For those that haven't yet heard, Newsweek named President Obama the "First Gay President" this week.

So let me get this straight (get it, "straight"), he comes out in favor of gay marriage, so this makes him a gay president?

Clay Aiken, he would be a gay president.

Rosy O'Donnell, gay president.

Perez Hilton, definitely a gay president.

Barack Hussein Obama, not a gay president.

Personally, I don't think gay's should be allowed to get married. The word "marriage" is for a man and a woman. Let them be called anything else they'd like.

Let them get all the same benefits (no pun intended) as married couples. Health care. Insurance. Etc.

Just save the technical term "marriage" for a man and woman.

How about you? Put aside religious reasons why they shouldn't be doing it, but for those that are, should they be allowed to get "married"?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Internet & Electronics For Kids?

An article in the Wall Street Journal last week, by David Gelernter (article here) talked about how children should spend their summers outside, and not pick up their phones, iStuff, or go online.

Now, he does have a point, and kids definitely need their fair share of Vitamin D
from the sun. But he concludes his article by saying:

"And so, yes to the Internet, yes to the cybersphere! Yes to modern iMachines and pads, pods, smartphones—and to liquor, fast cars and sleeping pills when you need them. But not for children."
And this I don't agree with.

While on most things I'll say that other companies are better, such as computers (Windows>MacOS) and TV's (Normal>Apple TV), I will however say that to use any other companies Tablet system, would just be silly.

A lot of the stuff I'll talk about here is probably available on other systems, but who are we kidding. The uniformity of iOS is much better for children to learn on, then the Android tablets.

And learn they can. From math (MathBoard and Math Bingo are the recommended starters), to geography (try out 123 World Geography).

Musically inclined children, can fool around with Garageband.

Artistic children, can doodle away on Drawing Pad.

I have seen children use most of the apps above. The learning time for them to learn how to use the apps, was next to nothing.

And the teaching values of some of them, phenomenal. They have a step up on other children when they advance in school.

So no Mr. Gelernter, the solution is not to take away technology from the children. The solution is to give it to them, in moderation. Both moderation of time, and moderation by adults, to make sure they only do child appropriate things with the technology.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Script: A Lost Art?

I have a lovely little note sitting in the piles of randomness on my desk. I go through phases from hoarding to cathartic trashing, but this note never seems to make the cut for garbage. The content is sweet but not exceptionally memorable. Yet the reason it brings a smile to my face is for the perfectly shaped cursive that its writer sports so casually. It's from a simple, well-mannered 60-something year old administrator... and when I received her handwritten script note of recognition last year, I saw her as a ladylike beacon from a previous era.

As I struggled to write several Mother's Day cards using my best script handwriting, it bothered me that I lack this feminine grace that both of my grandmothers and my aunts possess.  Nowadays my script looks more like a leafy scratch, while they each have these gorgeous, loopy signatures/handwritings (degree of loopiness varies between them but the precision does not) that just flow effortlessly. From what I understand they were strictly disciplined in public school for their script handwriting back in the day- to the extent that my grandfather who is a lefty was taught to write with his right hand- and the habits that they were taught stay with them until today.

I happen to love my handwriting; it's like a skinny print with a slant and a curve that resembles script. I am not a fan of the large, girly, rounded print that a few of my colleagues still tote. Most people I know do not come out of college or graduate school with their cursive unscathed (unless they always take notes on laptops I guess), but the extent to which we have collectively lost the skill and our value for it really is remarkable. I can still remember the declaration at the beginning of the SAT that had to be written word-for-word in script, and a smart-aleck boy sitting in front of me made the whole class wait for him to etch his way through that one sentence, one painful letter at a time, because he couldn't write in script for his life.

Remember how cool calligraphy used to be? Who even thinks about it anymore when hundreds of fonts are at our fingertips? Likewise I suppose that handwriting is not as important to stress nowadays since official documents are all typed up and we are not relying on penmanship for legibility of contracts anymore.

Times have changed. I wish the signature on my driver's license was more swoopy, but I do not regret my rigorous education and notetaking that vanquished it. Hopefully once I start digitizing my signature for official reports that I sign off on, I will have perfected it a bit.

Just something to think about: conversations have been reduced to messages, messages have been reduced to texts, and texts have been reduced to symbols ("The Language of Trust: Selling Ideas in a World of Skeptics" by Michael Maslansky). Similarly our beautiful penmanship system is slowly draining away as we replace it with more expedient orthography.

What do you think of your handwriting, script or print?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Internet Asifah

As Chicken Little once said: The Asifah is coming! The Asifah is coming!

So without further ado, let's talk about it.

The internet is a vicious creature, with many things on it that people shouldn't be looking at, such as: Porn, Gossip, and the Numa Numa Guy.

And because of this the Jews are uprising, and forming a Kosher Expo, followed by discussions on the topic, of how to keep people off the internet, and away from these sites.

As someone very familiar with computers, let me start by saying: There is no such thing as a filter. Every filter is breakable. And if you don't want your kids online looking at this stuff, then don't let them use the computer.

When I was a kid (a young teen, the age on when it all began, doesn't matter), first getting into trouble for looking at porn and the likes, my father installed the Internet Explorer Security Filter, and put a password on it. And then let me go on the computer...about three minutes later, thanks to a little help from some random site called Google, I had successfully found the file buried in the computer, that had the password in it, and deleted the file, allowing me to remove the filter.

Yes, at a nice young age, I was already disobeying authority, and hacking computers.

The expo is supposed to be showcasing "filters, various new products, methods and advice to help individuals, families and businesses to effectively filter all their internet connections". The only advice to successfully filter the internet: DON'T HAVE INTERNET.

Another problem I have with this whole Asifah, is that it is for men only...but woman will be able to watch it via satellite feeds at certain locations...I hate to say it, but unless they are securing an actual satellite feed (very expensive, trust me, I have experience in those matters), they are probably using THE INTERNET to run the feed. DAMN LIBERAL HIPPOCRATES. Don't hold a convention against using something and then use it, when it is necessary to your demands. On that note, don't have one of your RSVP options be via email...because that just encourages INTERNET!!!

Now, don't get me wrong, personally, I think every person in the world should have internet. And no, the filters should not be in place. It is everyone's responsibility to filter for themselves what they look at on there. As for minors, well, if you don't want them looking at that stuff online, then don't let them go online.

All of this just sounds to me like a typical #FirstWorldProblem.

BTW, for a more sane article on the topic, and further coverage of it (because, really, is it worth me going over it again?) try reading Thinking Jew Girl's first piece on it, found here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Under the Weight of a Name

Thank you, WM for the gracious invitation to become a contributing author to the Minds. I hope to indeed live up to the name I was bestowed and touch some of you with my thoughts, whether they happen to be sensuous or not.

In the cyberworld, one can choose a screen name to project any image they desire. Their name might truly reflect an ideal or identity of theirs, or it might be embellished with an attribute they wish they could claim. As all of us bloggers know, there's a thought process involved in forming a blog/ger name. There are so many options to control the biases through which our posts are received, and it can be a challenge to be fair to yourself in how you are framing your writing.

The debate of how well ones online persona predicts how they conduct themselves in real life fascinates me, but that discussion is for another time.

What is presently on my Mind are the names that we do not choose for ourselves. Having been exceptionally popular when I was younger, and less outwardly popular but more respected for intelligence as I matured, I thankfully was never the object of derogatory nicknames. But consistently though throughout grade school, I was taught that the prohibition of ona'as devarim (torturing someone through words) includes calling someone a nickname, particularly one that they do not like. I could recite the pasuk from which we extrapolate this prohibition for years. It always seemed like a nice way of being sensitive, perhaps going an extra mile to avoid something that isn't really that mean. But the depth and insight that went into forbidding this action under actual torture only became clear to me a few weeks ago.

I tend to Touch, but on occasion I wrongly take my audience's acceptance for granted and push the limit into saying something inconsiderate. A long time ago, in a half-attempt to flirt and half-attempt to tease with a particle of truth, I called a boy who had a crush on me by a nickname. It was not a mean name at all; it was just a nickname. There was nothing inherently flattering or derogatory to the name I chose, but he was very hurt and I did not understand why. I took it back and apologized to him... I had a theory of why it upset him so much, probably because it was supremely neutral and borderline immature, while he was rightfully hoping that I would view him with more of a sexual appeal. I could understand that, but never would have anticipated this train of thoughts in time to switch the nickname I had chosen to one that would not be offensive to him.

In a similar twist of events, a colleague that I had reason to believe respected me (if not more, but at least he is not religious so there is nothing up for discussion) recently publicly proclaimed me with a new nickname: Giggles. I had laughed a few seconds before that and tend to laugh more than my peers in order to make everyone less neurotic. I also tend to laugh incredulously at things my superiors do, or at inside jokes when a comment is way too arcane for anyone else to find funny but I can actually reference. But apparently he was perceiving all this as immature, girl-next-door who Giggles, and the playing field between us so low that saying it in public held no ramifications as far as his own shame. It really got to me, even though I know that the rest of my colleagues find me talented and valuable B"H.

Perhaps the name I was given is neutral, but when you hold yourself to a higher standard that you've earned, even neutral is derogatory. I wasn't able to explain all this to the colleague, but after ignoring him for a while (he missed my laughs!) I told him that giving me a nickname like that was flat out douchey. He claimed he didn't mean it and that I should know him better than to take him seriously. Of course he didn't mean it mean it, and I know he is in full-realization of my other good qualities besides for being easy going. But there is truth behind every joke, and when an all-encompassing nickname does not line up with how a person wants to be perceived, it is painful. It is painful to hear what first comes to mind when others think of you, and likewise there is no way to anticipate how your neutral nickname will resonate with another person. The Torah incorporates human psychology all-knowingly when it forbids us from doing just this. I finally understood and fully regretted what I did to that boy so long ago... and with that I swallowed my medicine.

~Shomer Toucher

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Reigning's Go Down, Records Explode, and the 2012 Olympics

The week in Sports, May 6 - May 12.

- The Los Angeles Kings advanced to the Western Conference Finals against the Phoenix Coyotes. The Kings are the first 8 seed ever to beat the #1 and #2 seeds. FULL STORY
- Meanwhile, on the day the Coyotes advanced, it was announced that they were bought by former San Jose Sharks CEO Greg Jamison. FULL STORY
- In the Eastern Conference, the New Jersey Devils advanced in 5 games, and the New York Rangers moved on in 7 games (for the second straight series), after Game 5 was tied by New York with 6.6 seconds left, and won 2 minutes later, in Overtime. FULL STORY

- Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton had an epic night Tuesday night. He went 5-for-5, with 4 Homeruns and a double, with 18 total bases. The 4 Homeruns in a game is the first in the majors since 2003. And the 18 total bases set an American League Single-Game Record. FULL STORY
- Guillermo Mota, San Francisco Giants pitcher, was tested positive for drug use. This is his second offense, and comes with a one hundred games suspension. FULL STORY

- After losing reigning MVP Derrick Rose, the #1 seed Chicago Bulls was upended by the Philadelphia 76ers, they face the 4th seed, Boston Celtics. #2 Miami Heat will face off against the #3 Indiana Pacers.
- In the Western Conference Reigning Champions Dallas Mavericks were upended by the Oklahoma City Thunder in a 4 game sweep. The Thunder face the Los Angeles Lakers, who needed 7 games to advance.
- Meanwhile the 1st seed San Antonio Spurs swept their series. They are waiting for the winners of Game 7 between the Clippers and Grizzlies, taking place Sunday afternoon.

- The Olympic Torch was lit this week, in Greece, and will proceed through the United Kingdom, with one stop in Scotland. The London 2012 Olympics begin July 27th. FULL STORY
- Michael Phelps announced that after the 2012 Olympics, he will be retiring. Phelps won 8 Gold Medals in 2008 at the Beijing Games, setting a record for most Golds in an Olympics. FULL STORY

- Following the indefinite suspension of Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams, the St. Louis Rams have opted for no official DC this upcoming season, and Head Coach Jeff Fisher will cover the duties. FULL STORY

And that's a wrap on sports.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Enough is Enough - Stop Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse happens. It's not a good thing, and those that do it, should be punished to the full extent of the law.

But then you have the Ultra-Orthodox community, where not only is it not punished, but if the one who was abused says anything to authorities, THEY ARE THROWN OUT OF THE COMMUNITY?!

Now, who are we kidding, we've known about it for years, but when it makes the front page of the New York Times as it did yesterday (article here, which this post is based on), even the Ultra-Orthodox need to realize the problems.

To them, there is nothing worse than making a Chillul Hashem (Desecration of the Name of God), one of the reasons they keep the sexual abuse cases quiet. But now, not only are they making a Chillul Hashem, but their dirty laundry is getting aired to the public.

And then the Agudath Israel of America had to open their mouths...Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zweibel, Executive VP, said: "You can destroy a person's life with a false report". Rabbi Zweibel also stated that observant Jews should not report allegations to the police unless permitted to do so by a rabbi.

For starters Rabbi Zweibel, what about the person whose life is being destroyed because they are getting molested week after week, but aren't allowed to say anything?

And second, I bet, if any of these things happened to you, or a family member (and God forbid that they should), you would NOT be asking a Rabbi what to do. You'd be on the phone to 9-1-1 without thinking twice about it.

I praise Justice Guston L. Reichbach, who after being presented with a case of a man abusing 14 year olds, was bombarded with letters saying that the abuser was a nice man, and not one letter about concern for the abused, stated: "“While the crimes the defendant stands convicted of are bad enough, what is even more troubling to the court is a communal attitude that seems to impose greater opprobrium on the victims than the perpetrator.”

Or what about when a 14 year old boy is given $20 to help move boxes, and then is taken to a motel, de-pants-ed, and masturbated. When the abuser was arrested, Rabbi Israel Hager, of Monsey NY, called the child's mother, and asked that she not press charges in court. And then they expelled the child from school, because she wouldn't drop the charges, and told her that if she protests the expulsion, they'd file false charges against her for child abuse.

Well Rabbi Hager, as I said before, I wouldn't wish this type of stuff on anyone, but if you were in the same situation, I can guarantee that you'd say something. And if you wouldn't say anything, and just let your child be masturbated by a stranger, well then, you don't deserve to have children, let alone the title of "Rabbi".

God bless Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg, a strong advocate in Williamsburg, Brooklyn who was shunned by his community, yet still stands for what is right. He has lectures, available by phone, telling victims to call 9-1-1 with these sorts of issues, and accuse the Rabbis of silencing these cases. Because of him standing up for what is right; he was thrown out of his shul (synagogue), and had a full group of Rabbis (32 in total) and a Beis Din (Jewish Court of Law) sign an order against him, ostracizing him.

On the same side, we have Rabbi Tzvi Gluck, a worker at Our Place, in Brooklyn NY, who helps victims of such incidents get proper court attention. He said, and I agree with him fully: "If a guy in our community gets diagnosed with cancer, the whole community will come running to help them. But if someone comes out and says they were a victim of abuse, as a whole, the community looks at them and says, ‘Go jump in a lake.’ ”

It's time we all took a stand. As the United States Homeland Security uses as their slogan: "If you see something, say something". Sexual abuse in the Jewish community must end.

These people should no longer be allowed to stand, hiding, behind their Rabbis. They should all be in jail, getting anally raped by a large man named Bubba, and when they complain, will be told "Bubba wouldn't do such a thing. He's a nice guy."

Thursday, May 10, 2012

With Emphasis This Time - Tanka Thursday

Last week I began
A quest to write poetry
But one thing it lacked
Was substance and character
And a voice of discussion

So when writing now
I think of something to voice
And again I can't
But maybe that's much better
To just spew randomness out

Thoughts are misleading
But random sayings say lots
About character
And what the mind thinks about
When forced to put things in words

I'll now hear comments
About needing more saying
And less of: Just words
So for that I say: Forgive
It's hard to write daily posts

I know I brought that
Upon myself to fulfill
But try it, I will
And poetry may die out
Like the Mayans and Incas

Counting syllables
Well, that is the easy part
Its substance that's hard
To put words together while
Still sticking to those limits

So maybe this ends
The fine tradition it was
That my readers know
Better as: Tanka Thursday
Two weeks of it was enough

On that note, I end with a poem I found online, and you'll probably like it better with the picture found here:
Roses are red,
Bacon is also red,
Poems are hard,

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Shomer Negiah = The Woman's Choice - Wondering Woman's Wednesday

Shomer Negiah is a woman’s choice. 100%. The guy should have no say in the matter.

Obviously he can say “No”, but it shouldn’t be up to him about when to approach that line and what is physically done.

Think about it. Everything that it entails has her doing something, and him not doing much at all. And because it is tilted so much towards her, HE SHOULD NOT HAVE A SAY IN IT! Every guy should be Shomer Negiah until she says it’s okay not to be.

Kissing, one of the simplest things covered, is probably the most simple of all, where they both give an equal amount up.

Hugging, not as simple. While you are both giving equal again, his hand placement during a hug can be a lot more awkward for her, with again, her giving up more.

We won’t go into more detail here, about other acts, but in all cases, SHE gives up a LOT MORE than he does. The man simply has to show up, and do whatever it is she’d like. Yes he may enjoy it all just as much as she does…but it should not be his decision.

Boy: May I hold your hand?
Girl: No thanks, it isn't heavy.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Blog Note

Follow the Wondering Minds on Twitter, @Wonder1ngM1nds for topics, and other programming notes!

Also, if you have a topic you would like discussed, or have issues with this blog that can not be discussed in public forums, feel free to email us!

Used or User? - Thoughtful Tuesday

Your phone vibrates, it may be a text, or it may be a call. Regardless, you look at who is contacting you, and you let out a sigh.

There is only one reason they are contacting you…they want a favor.

You are a nice person, so obviously you aren’t going to ignore them. And they are nice too.

But it just seems that every time they contact you, they want something.

Never messaging just to say “How are you?” or “What’s new?” or even a simple “Hi?”

But as usual, they’ll now start off with the small talk, the stuff you’d like from them more often, if they want to ask for favors.

In your mind, you are just saying “Cut the small talk, and get to what you really want from me”, because you know it’s coming, and just want to get it over with.

So think about it: Are you a user, who calls others just for favors, and not any other time. Or are you the used, constantly getting calls, just when they need something from you.

If you are a user: STOP DOING IT. Message people more often, and then when you need the favors, they’ll be a lot more likely to happily do it.

If you are the used: then you sympathize with me here, and help spread the word to the users, that they should just change their methods, and people may start liking them more.

And just remember, as I’ve said before, I never repeat myself.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Blog Note

The Wondering Minds are expanding!

We would like to welcome to the scene, The Shomer Toucher, who will do contributing and featured pieces, on this blog.

Attention Span of a Newt - Musings Monday

With a few blog posts in the books, I've discovered something about blog readers.

They have the attention span of a newt.

They'll read your blog for one post, maybe two or three, and disappear after that.

And unless you talk about specifically the right topic, they'll disappear.

My first few posts, talked about other people, their posts, and things that happen in their lives. And people flocked to them.

And then I went a little different, and wrote a random poem, and other thoughts, and just like that, they've lost interest.

And that's when I realized, the newt scenario.

So, consider Wondering Minds a marsh, and come flocking back, you silly newts!

Because silly newts, the presidency is for mitts!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Death, No-No's, & No More Mo? - Sports Sunday

With a late start in writing this week’s article (being that a week ago I didn't even have a blog), I may have missed one or two things in here...but these are your major sports events for the week of April 29-May 5.

- Los Angeles Angels starter, Jered Weaver threw a no-hitter this week. The second in the majors in a two week span. It was the 10th No-hitter in Angels history. FULLSTORY
- Future Hall-of-Famer Mariano Rivera tore his ACL on Thursday, after shagging fly balls during batting practice. This put him on the DL for the first time since 2003. Rivera says he WILL return, surgery scheduled for this upcoming Monday. FULLSTORY

- Longtime San Diego Charger Linebacker, Junior Seau, committed suicide this week. He was a 12-time Pro-Bowler and named to the NFL's 1990's All-Decade team. He was 43 years old. FULLSTORY
- The fallout from the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal continued, as Linebacker Jonathan Vilma was suspended for the entire 2012 season. He plans on appealing. FULLSTORY

- Washington Capitals and New York Rangers played a Triple Overtime Game on Wednesday night, with the Rangers winning in the 115th minute. The series is tied at 2-2. FULLSTORY
- The 8th seeded Los Angeles Kings continue to stun, after knocking out #1 Vancouver in the first round, they lead #2 St. Louis 3 games to none. FULLSTORY

- Miami Heat took a commanding 3-0 lead in the series with the New York Knicks. This after Knicks Power Forward, Amar'e Stoudemire punched a fire extinguisher, after a Game 2 loss. He will miss the rest of the series with a broken hand. FULLSTORY
- The Oklahoma City Thunder swept the Dallas Mavericks in the first round, knocking out the reigning champions. FULL STORY

Kentucky Derby
- In the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday "I'll Have Another" won at 12-1 odds. His jockey, Mario Gutierrez won his first time out. This was also the first time a horse starting from the 19th stall has won the derby. FULLSTORY

And that's a wrap for this week in sports.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Schedule - The Answer to all Chaos

The misspelled Wondering Mind has wandered around for a while, and finally wondered how to make this blog more successful.

Now, while readership may fluctuate, and views and comments may appear and disappear, a set schedule for posts and ideas became a brilliant idea.

And while this blog may last for years, months, weeks, or only days, this is the I hope to follow by.

And without much further ado, the highly anticipated, by no one but myself, names and themes:

Sunday - Sports Sundays - A wrap-up of some top sports stories from the previous week (Sun-Sat), with thoughts mixed in.

Monday - Musings Monday - Thoughts and other things that have popped up in my head. (I had to read 'popped' three times to make sure it was spelled correctly, and not written as 'pooped'.)

Tuesday - Thoughtful Tuesday - Really well thought out blog posts are saved for Tuesdays...or just other things to make you think and ask questions upon yourselves.

Wednesday - Wondering Woman's Wednesday - We'll try to go for woman appealing topics on Wednesdays, since Sunday has became a manly day...and it's the misspelled name of the blog. You think it wouldn't be incorporated into the Wednesday title?!

Thursday - Tanka Thursday - A post made up entirely using the Tanka form of poetry (5-7-5-7-7).

Friday - Forgetful Friday - Any last thoughts from the week that may have been forgotten from a post…or just a random topic, since we can forget about topics and themes for a day.

Saturday - Sleepy Saturday - AKA: No new posts. Because even God took off once in a while...that's how you can explain a platypus.

Hope you hang around long enough to experience them all!
(And I hope I hang around long enough to write them all...)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Crazy or Sane

As I look back on my first few posts, I started wondering to myself, how do the people reading this blog, view me?

Who do they think I am?

Do they think I am crazy? Or sane?

To answer that the easy way: I'm both.

I am completely sane, and can prove it. I was tested as a kid, and the tests all came out clean.

But at the same time I am crazy. I say stuff like ^^^ that.

And I do strange things, like deciding to write poetry on Thursdays?!

Whose brilliant idea was that?!
Either way, think about me whatever you'd like, because in my heart I know the truth. I am me. And I will never change that. And hope that one day; you'll all realize that I am just the same as every one of you.

And if I ever give you advice, take it. Because I don't use it anyways.

PS. That's how crazy I am...I'm the only one who'll read this, yet still referred to "you all".

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Tanka Thursday #1

So, for anyone who has spoken to me in the blogosphere since I started this blog, they know that my biggest issue is trying to think up something to talk about. The best solution, make at least one day a week, where I have a theme for the day, and just talk about that, one day a week.

With that, I introduce: Tanka Thursdays.

Let's first introduce Tanka - It is a form of poetry, made up of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables. Similar to a Haiku, which is 5-7-5.

Here goes nothing:

So I am a man
Who started a random blog
And now I am stuck
With lack of thoughts to ponder
So bear with me through it all

I'd thank those who read
And also commentators
For starting is hard
But continuing, harder
Again and again I'll try

I then had a thought
Why not do themes and topics?
So here it is now
Why this? I have no darn clue

But now it's started
With the first one being this
And I can't turn back
For I am not a quitter
Until I get bored that is

When it gets too old
Or I hear too much banter
I'll pick something new
And see if that goes further
For now, I'll just say: Hi Mom!