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  • June 29, 2011

A designer knows he has achieved per­fec­tion not when there is noth­ing more to add, but when there is noth­ing left to take away.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, on his 111th birth­day
(orig­i­nally via Carmine Gallo)

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  • June 28, 2011

Arash Markazi sums up how a lot of us feel:

I know the ter­ri­ble thing that hap­pened to Brian Stow on open­ing day, I know what’s hap­pen­ing on the field, I know what’s not hap­pen­ing in the stands. And I know what’s hap­pen­ing in the court­room. I know all this but I still go to the games because real­ity has always found a way of sus­pend­ing itself when I’m at the sta­dium. I still have the same feel­ing enter­ing the park­ing lot off Sunset Boulevard I did when I was a child with my father…

…Feelings such as that are deep-rooted. I’ve loved the Dodgers for as long as I can remem­ber. It’s a fan­dom that was passed on to me by my father, and I’m not about to throw it away now over a time period I hope to tell my kids about when I take them to Dodger Stadium some day. That’s why I can’t allow McCourt to change my feel­ings about the Dodgers and why I refuse to let him chase me away from a place that has given me so much joy over the years.

There is noth­ing com­pli­cated or con­flicted about my feel­ings for McCourt. I don’t like him, what he’s done. It doesn’t take me very long to come to this con­clu­sion and move on with my life. The truth is I don’t even think about him when I’m at Dodger Stadium. Even when I’m sit­ting in an almost-empty sec­tion of the sta­dium. He is the fur­thest thing from my mind as I watch the game with a Dodger Dog in my hands and Vin Scully in my ears. Maybe I’m cling­ing to mem­o­ries that will never be recap­tured and set­ting myself up for more heart­break but I can’t help it.

The Dodgers and Dodger Stadium still rep­re­sent some­thing spe­cial to me, some­thing more impor­tant than court cases, divorce set­tle­ments and los­ing streaks. Judging from the empty seats around me, this puts me in the minor­ity. But I can live with that. I’ve lived with this team all my life.

Amen.

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  • June 7, 2011

In light of the Weiner scan­dal, Jeffrey Goldberg com­ments on Jewish women:

I’m not going near the ques­tion of what Jewish women do or don’t do in bed, but suf­fice it to say that Jewish women are ter­ri­bly, and con­tra­dic­to­rily, stereo­typed by soci­ety, and, often, by Jewish men them­selves. Either they’re dark, hot-blooded sluts (a com­mon Wasps fan­tasy, by the way — some of my best friends are Wasps with Jewish women-fixations) or they are, as Weiner would have it, the frozen cho­sen. The truth, of course, is that all women are dif­fer­ent, but I’ve noticed a cou­ple of things over the years: 1) A great num­ber of Jewish women pos­sess an irre­sistible com­bi­na­tion of sex­i­ness, intel­li­gence, ambi­tion, and a deep capac­ity for love; and 2) Many Jewish men, the less manly-men, in par­tic­u­lar, are intim­i­dated by these super­star Jewish women…

…I know this sounds as if I’m adver­tis­ing for a Jewish woman, but, thanks to the great philo-Semite Malcolm Gladwell, I found the best one, thank you very much.

Jeez.

Seeing as he and I both man­aged to over­come our eth­nic pre­dis­po­si­tion to being intim­i­dated by strong Jewesses (in other words, I get where he’s com­ing from, I guess), it sounds to me like he’s brag­ging. (“Congressman Weiner rep­re­sents a cliché stereo­type, but check me out. I can han­dle the Jewish ladies.”)

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  • May 28, 2011

(cross posted to my upgrd.com blog)

A part of me wants to write a long post analyzing the problems with CNNMoney's "Best Frequent Flyer Programs." I'm really tempted to go point-by-point in order to illustrate just how stupid their rankings are. Their criteria are inconsistent, their explanations for why certain programs are best ignore the fact that other airlines offer similar (or even better) perks, and they totally ignore the fact that the programs available from domestic-only* discount carriers don't allow for international and premium-class redemption.

But truth be told, I'm actually thankful for articles like CNNMoney's. For those of us who actually want to get the most out of our miles -- namely international premium-class awards -- it's probably better if people blow their miles on crappy domestic coach tickets. Sure... it breaks my heart that poor saps who don't know better are blowing valuable miles on tickets they probably could buy out-of-pocket when they could be using the same amount (or just a bit more) to fly in luxury to exotic locales. But with a limited quantity of high-value redemption opportunities, I'm just as happy to have less competition for the seats. Every business traveler who insists on flying Southwest (even though he could get better elite benefits and could use the miles to take better vacations if he flew United or American or whatever) is one less person I have to compete with for an upgrade, one less person to snap up that first class seat to Europe before me, one less person in the elite line at the airport.

(And I'll venture a guess that if everyone used frequent flyer programs to their full potential,  those programs would stop being so lucrative for the airlines and great redemption opportunities would get rarer.)

So sure... Southwest, Virgin America, and Jetblue have excellent FF programs. Sign up now. Fly those airlines exclusively. Enjoy your "A-list" status and your free coach flights from Oakland to Boise.


* Yes, I know that some of the "domestic-only" discount carriers fly to a handful of locations in Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean. Whatever.

Amy Pohler at Harvard’s grad­u­a­tion:

As you nav­i­gate through the rest of your life, be open to col­lab­o­ra­tion. Other peo­ple and other people’s ideas are often bet­ter than your own. Find a group of peo­ple who chal­lenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life. No one is here today because they did it on their own…You’re all here today because some­one gave you strength. Helped you. Held you in the palm of their hand. God, Allah, Buddha, Gaga—whomever you pray to.

(the video of the whole speech)

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  • May 19, 2011

Doug Mataconis on Scott Walker’s move to end a pro­gram that allows gay cou­ples hos­pi­tal vis­i­ta­tion rights (or, to be more spe­cific, his attempt to stop defend­ing the laws of his state and the rights of his cit­i­zens in court against extrem­ist anti-gay hate groups):

I really have to won­der what kind of per­son would seek to pre­vent two peo­ple who are in a rela­tion­ship from mak­ing what­ever arrange­ments they want to allow the other to visit them in the hos­pi­tal, and what right the state has to tell hos­pi­tals that they can­not honor those requests.

Is the GOP hatred for gays so per­va­sive that they could really be this cold and heart­less?

Yup. Apparently, it is.

Or as Jed Lewison puts it:

Gee, gay-bashing is just so fis­cal con­ser­v­a­tive, isn’t it?

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  • April 21, 2011

From Dahlia Lithwick’s excel­lent d’var torah arti­cle, “The Fifth Passover Question: Who’s going to lead the Seder?

Passover is really the only Jewish hol­i­day in which most house­holds tap some layper­son to be pro­fes­sional clergy for a night, and—as my friend Lisa observed yesterday—it’s thus apt that this hol­i­day cel­e­brates one of the most reluc­tant lead­ers in all of bib­li­cal his­tory. Here is poor Moses, beg­ging to be relieved of the respon­si­bil­ity of Sherpa-ing his peo­ple from one dusty place to another—pleading unfit­ness, a speech imped­i­ment, and the absence of mean­ing­ful lead­er­ship qual­i­ties. And here we all are, thou­sands of years later, plead­ing unfit­ness, per­for­mance anx­i­ety, and the absence of mean­ing­ful lead­er­ship qual­i­ties.

Stop me if this is start­ing to sound famil­iar.

Maybe the real les­son of Passover is that nobody—in any generation—feels fit to lead a bunch of other peo­ple, but they do it any­way, because in the end some­body has to. Maybe it’s not just the story of the Exodus we are pass­ing down from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion, but the trick of lead­ing, when all you ever wanted to do was fol­low.

Hmm.

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  • April 13, 2011

Dear flight atten­dant,

It’s called a “mixed drink” because it’s sup­posed to be served mixed. If I wanted bloody mary mix with a vodka floater, I would have ordered it that way.

Sincerely,

- josh

(cross-posted to my mostly-neglected upgrd​.com blog)

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  • April 3, 2011

...since before it was cool to be a Mac guy:

This is what we believe.
Technology alone is not enough.
Faster, thinner, lighter...
Those are all good things.
But when technology gets out of the way,
Everything becomes more delightful,
Even magical.
That's when you leap forward.
That's when you end up with something...
Like this.

That's an even better manifesto than this one.

Update: There's more.

If you ask a parent,
They might call it intuitive.
If you ask a musician,
They might call it inspiring.
To a doctor,
It's groundbreaking.
To a CEO,
It's powerful.
To a teacher,
It's the future.
If you ask a child,
She might call it magic.
And if you asked us...
We'd say it's just getting started.

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  • February 28, 2011

With no outs in the top of the 6th inning of Game 7 of the 1955 World Series, Duke Snider — who’d hit four home runs in the pre­vi­ous six games — laid down a sac bunt to move PeeWee Reese to sec­ond. After Snider reached on an error, the next bat­ter, Roy Campanella, laid down another bunt to move Reese to third.

So the record books say that Gil Hodges had both the Dodgers’ RBI in that game. But maybe they should also note that the Dodgers’ sec­ond run came as a result of the MVP (Campy) and the runner-up in MVP vot­ing (the Duke) bunting over a run­ner who Hodges drove in with a sac fly. Can you imag­ine such a thing in today’s game?

Let me put a fine point on it. For his career, Duke Snider had 11 HR, 26 RBI, and 21 runs in 36 World Series games. (He’s the fourth best in WS his­tory.) This was the final game of a sea­son in which he had 42 HR, 136 RBI, 126 runs, and an OPS of 1.046. And this is the guy you want bunting with no outs in the sixth?

Darn straight. RIP, Duke.

(By the way: There are seven mem­bers of that team in the Hall of Fame. Or eight if you’re like me and you count the radio announcer.)

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  • December 28, 2010

A recent arti­cle on Foward​.com high­lights a demo­graphic study by Leonard Saxe that offers some new insights on the national Jewish pop­u­la­tion and might even con­tra­dict some of the generally-accepted-as-gospel research on the mat­ter. In the Forward arti­cle, Saxe talks about the sticky prob­lem of “iden­ti­fi­ca­tion”:

Read More

Instead of writ­ing some fancy intro­duc­tion, I’m going to just start by telling you that the the­sis of this blog post is that the entire con­cept of the “December dilemma” is a myth. I’m going to explain why, and then I’m going to sug­gest what we (the Jewish com­mu­nity, and per­haps more specif­i­cally, those of us who serve in
lead­er­ship roles in the Jewish com­mu­nity) should do about it.

So with that totally trans­par­ent intro­duc­tion, you can click if you’re inter­ested in read­ing more.

Read More

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  • October 28, 2010

People seem to get all up-in-arms when they per­ceive that peace-loving, mod­er­ate Muslims don’t do enough to con­demn the acts of vio­lent extrem­ists with whom they hap­pen to share (kind-of) a reli­gion. When any­one tries to point out that the vast major­ity of Muslims abhor of vio­lence, and that vio­lent rad­i­cals are choos­ing to empha­size only those parts of the Quran which jus­tify their hatred (and that extrem­ists com­mit heinous acts in the name of other reli­gions, too), the response is that if Muslim mod­er­ates want peo­ple to see them as peace­ful, then they should stand up and con­demn their vio­lent co-religionists. The prob­lem is, peace-loving Muslims con­demn vio­lence all the time. Maybe we’re not lis­ten­ing. Or maybe we just bury their state­ments ten para­graphs down.

From the AP’s story about Farooque Ahmed, the guy who tried to help some under­cover FBI agents plant a “bomb” in the DC sub­way:

Born in Lahore, Pakistan, Ahmed arrived in the U.S. in 1993 and became a cit­i­zen in 2005, offi­cials said. He wor­shipped at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, which is known for its main­stream Islamic con­gre­ga­tion. Leaders there have decried vio­lence and were quick to call for Ahmed’s pros­e­cu­tion. He was not a mem­ber of the soci­ety, said board mem­ber Robert Marro.

He wor­shiped at the mosque. He never stuck around long enough for the reg­u­lars to get to know him. And when they found out that he’d been arrested for plot­ting vio­lence, the mem­bers of the mosque said he wasn’t a mem­berspoke out against vio­lence and called for him to be pun­ished. In other words, they said, “He’s not one of us, and we despise what he stands for.”

That’s con­dem­na­tion if I’ve ever heard it.

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  • October 24, 2010

1. I’ve flown over 200,000 miles (domes­tic) on air­planes in the last two years. Not once have I been scared because of “peo­ple who are in Muslim garb” or peo­ple who “are iden­ti­fy­ing them­selves first and fore­most as Muslims.” The only peo­ple who scare me on air­planes are the ones who are overly ner­vous, overtly anx­ious, or rude and obnox­ious. It seems to me, based on my expe­ri­ence, that none of these behav­iors are exclu­sive to a par­tic­u­lar reli­gion, eth­nic­ity, race, or creed.

2. It’s clear that the most of the peo­ple who loudly bashed NPR in the wake of Williams’ fir­ing weren’t par­tic­u­larly fond of pub­lic radio (that bas­tion of the elit­ist lib­eral media) to begin with. What’s ironic is that NPR (and the rest of pub­lic radio) is actu­ally the only main­stream media out­let that seems to have refused to be over­taken by blow-hard pun­ditry, sen­sa­tion­al­ism, or both.

3. NPR was right to fire Williams, and they shouldn’t hes­i­tate to tell it like it is: He wasn’t fired because the rules of “polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness” deemed his com­ments on O’Reilly’s show to be offen­sive. He got fired because real jour­nal­ists (and “news-analysts”) have to be fair and unbi­ased. That means they can’t behave like loud­mouth pun­dits. End of story. Williams can spout off say­ing that he got fired for “telling the truth” or “speak­ing his mind.” But that’s only half the story. He got fired because he wanted to get paid for being a jour­nal­ist, but then he also wanted to go on O’Reilly and spew what­ever “truth” he wanted. You can’t have both, buddy.

4. This week, I made a dona­tion to my local pub­lic radio sta­tion. You should too.