A perfect sea urchin

My Evil Thoughts

Welcome to where I air my evil views, proud, uncowed, unbowed, and absolutely evil, superficial, and ignorant. Get used to it. To return to the main blog page, just click here.

Another Set of Views from the Bleachers

Several days ago a little, black kitten, was shot in the spine with a beebee, and lost all or some of the movement and sensation in his hind quarters, tail, bladder, and bowel. He is a paralyzed kitty. He is so young. He has smokey black fur and, intensely green eyes, that are going to change from blue to copper if he lives long enough. If he can eliminate he has hope for some kind of life. The rescue group brought the kitten, named Ray, to the Pet Supermarket in Toco Hills on Saturday because he was too injured to leave at home. He was in a cage on the table by the donation jars. Yes, he was a kitty poster child. Yes, he kneeded one footed at first and then he lay down and kneeded with two feet. He purred, and he made the kitten mew that asks for more affection. I kissed his tiny head. His fur was downy soft. I said I'd pray for a refuah shlema for him, rather than God's will be done. I nbelieve there is hope. I hope there is hope. Please God, this is one tiny life among oh so many, but he is a sweet, harmless (at least he will be now, even to vermin, but probably not flies) creature who deserves a second chance. Just a tiny bit of mercy to heal this kitty boy. I can not get the picture of little Ray's face or the feel of his downy, kitty fur against my lips out of my mind. I hope they stay there for a long time.

Friday I stood at the western end of the Kensington Station MARTA platform. MARTA staff do not go after people who stand there. Everyone who comes to the end of the platform has a good reason to be there, cell phone reception, a quiet argument etc... In my case, I was there to watch the clouds. You can not see all sorts of traffic at the Kensington station vanishing points, because bridges block the view. One bridge at the eastern end of the platform gets a lot of traffic because I think it crosses Memorial Drive or goes near there. On the western side, there is almost no traffic, but in the sky there is a show.

I had seen the storm on the radar. It was part of a big movement. It was taking its own time moving in a stately procession. I reasoned I could make it home before it opened up. It opened up just as I left the Decatur Station. There are still wet things hanging in the bathroom. Storms are routine. We haven't had a blackout on this street though other streets have suffered and there was one balckout at work this week. Blackouts are common. My neighborhood is just waiting its turn.

Eileen H. Kramer -- June 26, 2011

The View from the Bleachers

And yes, that's the fifty yard line, and even if it is preSeason or a scrimmage, it is still a good view. Even if it happened a few thousand years ago or the exact historical incident never orccured, it is still an excellent view offered by Parshas Korach in the Book of Bamidbar. A typical rabbinical sermon on Parshas Korach accuses of Korach, and sometimes Dathan and Abiram (if the speaker chooses not to marginalize them) of being power hungry, overreaching, or making the wrong kind of dissent. Maybe it was not nuanced enough. Maybe it was not for the sake of Heaven.

Dathan and Abiram's eloquent, nonviolent (at least in a literal reading), political stand vanishes. Had Datha, Abiram, and the women and children who sided with them (Today we'd call them human shields.) gone down in a hail of machine gun bullets, been trucked off to be interned and then shot, or blown to bits with an improvised, explosive device, they would not have died the deaths of ordinary men.

Sitting in comfy seats, in a house of worship created as a breakaway from another house of worship and to accomodating different but not dissenting views, in a country that gives most if not all varieities of religion, we have no business to complain of Dathan, Abiram, or Korach's dissent. In fact, by the standards of a moden, democratic society, they are the heroes. Heroes can die. That is when we call them martyrs. Yes, they felt Moses was incompetent. They were condemned to forty years of running around in circle. They had been promised fields and a place to sacrifice to God. Instead, they got a portable palace of gold and preciously dyed leather and cloth, with one tribe now parasitic upon others, and everyone else taxed to pay for this edifice which was now the ONE OFFICIAL PLACE to worship God. If this sounds a bit like the Egyptian temples, Moses had to learn his craft somewhere. Remember he was raised in Pharaoh's palace.

They also had what may have been a city, two million people and their herds living in nine square miles. That is going to require some urban architecture, but the Hebrews who had learned those trades building Pithom and Ramses, now built Kadesh Barnea. Did Dathan and Abiram have a case? I think without a doubt they did. Were they unarmed? If you red the Bible literally, it does not mention fists or knives, let alone swords and cudgels. It is the side of Moses and God that uses disproportionate force to crush dissent, and even then it does not die. The sympathizers who were not slain "complain," and it takes a plague and prayer (Where were the dotcors?) to avert even more catastrophe. Moreover, next week's parsha begins with an admonition against making souvenirs from the dead. I wonder why?

We who can vote with our feet and who have supported a fellow congregation, Sharei Torah of Syracuse, which voted with its feet out of economic necessity, should know whose side we are on, and what if there were weapons waiting under mattresses and behind dressers? The Egyptians in Tahir Square threw paving stones. And think of all the other bloody conflicts fought in the name of religion mixed with political power such as the Thirty Years War or the English Civil War. We don't have to wage conflicts like that in the United States because the government stays out of religion, we can vote with our feet, and we can just do what we please.

Of course there are exceptions to this rule. I'll give you the name of one Aron Rottenberg. He decided to vote with his feet for a whole bunch of mundane reasons and pray at a nursing home rather than at New Skver's main synagogue. The community harassed him. The civil government, such as this village has, did nothing to stop it, and on May 22, an alleged arsonist, Shaul Spitzer, tried to set fire to the Rottenberg home at four in the morning. Aron suffered burns over fifty percent of his body. He spent a long time recovering in Grasslands, and is sitll receiving physical therapy. Fortunately, because this is the United States, Aaron Rottenberg will be tried for attempted arson and attempted murder as well as assault, but even Jewish theocracies expletive deleted.

In short, Abiram, Dathan, and Korach and their sympathizers were on the wrong side of HaShem and Moses, but they were not on the wrong side of history and had the moral high ground. And when we are not in schul, I really do think most of us know whose side we are on.

Eileen H. Kramer -- June 26, 2011

The Old Lady in the MARTA Station

A while ago, I was waiting on the westbound platform at the Decatur MARTA station. There were half a dozen of it. It was a Sunday afternoon. An older lady was standing among us. The train was due in forty-five seconds. It hooted. People moved forward. The announcement board was slow which happens rarely, but it does happen.

The old lady asked me: "How does every body know the train is coming?" I answered that it made noise like "hoo-oo." She heard my noise, but she said she could not hear the whistle that had alerted everbody else. For some reason, the old lady reminds me of my mother.

One thing that bafffles me about older people is that while everyone demands you do something about your eyes, from bifocals and trifocals to cataract surgery lasix and prelix surgeries, nobody feels the same way about hearing. Only when people are nearly deaf do they resort to hearing aides. They walk around hearing impaired and insist that the world make itself understandable. I find this strange. Do hearing aides have a stigma attached to them that glasses once had?

I am not sure why I am thinking of the old lady this morning. I think it was because I had an unusually long wait for the MARTA train. I listened to my smart phone. I love my Droid. It's the ultimate transistor radio. I listen to a wider variety of genders than you can find on a conventional dial. I listen to DJ's as far away as Brazil and Russia.

My favorite station is Deepmix.ru. Their music is the sad, sweet brand of electronica that Iyoba and I used to enjoy at Pacha. Apparently Egyptians and Slavs have the same sensibilities. To call this music House or even Deep House, doesn't mean anything because House music can sound completely different. The Brazilian brand, which I sometimes often enjoy is lively and almost raucus. Deepmix.ru and the long gone Zizo's mixes, were nearly melancholy. I could close my eyes when I listened to them and invision myself in an open box car (You don't want to ever lock a box car because you get trapped in there until someone decides to open it.) riding the rails through lonely mountains on a night when the moon plays hide and seek with the clouds. It is usually a full moon, and the fact that I am moving makes it sweetly sad instead of deeply sad. I know that Russians take long rail and steamboat trips. Perhaps this is the origin for this brand of House.

I try to listen to Deepmix.ru when I want to feel good but not overly pumped up. I also listen to politically incorrect Broadway tunes, marches, Jewish music, regular Broadway, and a few oldies, but not so many that I live in the past. I suddenly am the world's most fantastic DJ. I don't think this is something my mother's generation can appreciate or even comprehend. I tried explaining about a DJ to my mother, but she doesn't even know what a party tape is. She watched both my brother and I make mixed-cut tapes from our LP's but never caught on to the whole world of musical curation.

To her our music just went thump. Yes, I need a beat. So what. It feels good. Dad used to find my choice of music sterile. I listened a lot ot Yes, Boston, Kansas, Pink Floyd, and Electric Light Orchestra when I was in high school. I liked the coolness and professionalism and amazing orchestration. Sometimes it is better that the vocals not get all that dramatic. Sometimes music is better with no vocals at all. It sets the mood. You supply the story. Sometimes it is better to make the mix without regard to genre. I own the music even if I did not create it, or maybe I own the mood I make with my music.

I'm glad I still have two good ears to appreciate the world that comes through my earbuds. Maybe me generation will be less shy about correcting failing hearing. Maybe the technology will improve to do it.

Eileen H. Kramer -- June 21, 2011

News from the Blind spot

We entered the book of Numbers (also called Bamidbar in Hebrew) several weeks ago. We move a few chapters a week. It is a dark story. Everybody back slides. It is not just the faithless, ungrateful generation that escaped slavery. They were nobody's fool. They watched the priests take the wealth for the Tabernacle. They built a palace. Whoever is in charge wants to rule, but not once does the Bible mention (at least not in the story thus far), foundaries for making swords, armories for making armor. Practice drilling. There are carts but not chariots.

So out goes the reconnaisance team and they find, fortified cities guarded by well armed troops. Uh oh.... It is one thing to stage a rebellion and run with lots of miracles to help. It is another to take fortified cities with only a marching order, a camping order, and a few banners...Besides, the Levites wouldn't be going out to war. Does this sound like our troops in Iraq and or Afghanistan a fwe years ago? OK, the spies were nobody's fools. They spoke the truth and died for it.

Some people say that the generation born into slavery was not ready to be conquerors. Given the story I know, I think that Moses and the Kohanim were more interested in ruling a desert kingdom of their own, modeled somewhat after Egypt with a powerful priestly class, than in moving to the promised land where we would either have to fight or else just become one more bunch of families in the neighborhood. The second option by the way becomes a non-option by the end of the Book of Numbers.

Numbers is the blueprint for a totalitarian dictatorship if it is to be anything other than an allegory. Every so often some smart ass Orthodox Jew, and it is usually an Orthodox Jew, because we read our scripture closely, says, how did you crowd so many people in nine square miles. How did you feed so many people at tiny oases in the desert.

Numbers may well be allegory, or some day they may find the ancient, lost city of Kadesh Barnea, the desert kingdom of a side tracked dream.

Eileen H. Kramer -- June 19, 2011

It's Me, BUT, It's Still Me

This one is not your fault. It's entirely my fault, but that doesn't exchange the outcome. You've been nice. You've been generous. Maybe you've even been accomodating, but as I learned long ago in Columbus, it's not enough. We share a belief in God. I'm alone. You are good at heart, but as I learned long ago in Columbus, it's not enough. This is not your fault. I can say it a thousand times. I want to find a graceful way to turn down a Shabbos lunch with you. Yes, I'd rather be by myself. As for the rest, we just don't share anything in common. That's the way people put it, and it's true!

Let's put it another way. I'm not desperate. You didn't say or think I was desperate. You didn't have to say it, and it wouldn't matter if you had. I'm just not desparate. That is all. I can't be bought with your hospitality. And, yes you're just trying to be nice, but see the above paragraph.

Put a third way, I have somewhere to go, my apartment. There is no such thing as a free lunch. I'm not entitled to one even if it exists somewhere. I also have the right to turn it down whether it exists or not. Sometimes it is better to be alone with a good book, then in a conversation where you'd really hate what I have to say. Yeah.... that's what happens when you spend too much time with people who don't share a lot with you.

If I spend a lot of time with you, I also wonder about all sorts of things about which I don't want to wonder. I don't want to write about those things on this blog. There's a good cure for all of this. I just have to figure out a way to say "no." My mom would lie in these cases. I'm just going to be vague. It's better for both of us. OK, it may not be better for you, but it is better for me. You can even say I took your lesson to heart. You know which one. OK, now where is my cell phone when I need it? I at least owe you some notice.

Eileen H. Kramer -- June 7, 2011