"We want to be able to land in grandma's backyard at night, in thick fog, without hitting the clothes line," says Jack Allison, an engineer on the project. What project?
(This question courtesy of Jill Pope.)
Send your answer by noon ET Thursday to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday's Question (No. 251)--"Now Even Reformier!":
Rabbi Gary Bretton Granatoor of New York's Stephen Wise Synagogue, at the forefront of today's Reform Judaism, says, "There is a group in the synagogue called Morei Derech, which means role models, and they are lay people taking on responsibilities that in the past many congregants felt professionals had to do." What responsibilities?
(This question courtesy of Beth Sherman.)
"Selling reconditioned hyperdrives to stranded Jedi knights."--Daniel Radosh
"I'm a huge anti-Semite, so I'd have to say they're celebrating the Eucharist."--Tim Rogers (Tim Carvell had a similar answer.)
"Molesting young boys? Oh, sorry, wrong church."--Chris "Pushing the Limits of Taste" Thomas
"Closed-captioning 700 Club broadcasts in Yiddish, so everybody laughs at the same time."--Al Petrosky
"Converting non-Jews by tapping them on the top of the head and proclaiming, 'Jew!' "--Morris Jackson (similarly, Leslie Goodman-Malamuth)
Click for more answers.
With subtle--Talmudic!--reasoning, Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman sees anti-Semites behind the movement to reform Reform Judaism: They're just not anti-Semitic enough. Bastards! The rabbi, president of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, our seminary, suggests that as anti-Semitism has declined in America, the larger society less frequently reminds Jews of their identity, so people embrace ritual to, as he puts it, "find themselves Jewishly."
When I worked at Late Night (oh, no, not another of his tedious stories about the old days!), I asked the writers' assistant to scan the viewer mail pile for correspondence I could use in my planned anthology, Kids' Anti-Semitic Letters to Dave. For a while there was a satisfying flow of vitriol beginning "Dear Jew Letterman ..." It seemed like Anti-Semitism Classic. But anyone who envisioned Dave's big, friendly, goyish head bent over the Torah needed not more tolerance, but more Prozac. It wasn't genuine hate mail; it was nut mail, and there wasn't enough of it to do a book. I felt like an Apache contemplating the last anti-Semitic buffalo, sad and scraggly and demented. But I still had a ham sandwich for lunch, he said Jewishly.
Mucho Mitzvah Answer
Some lay people want to visit the sick.
That's just part of the "remarkable transformation" going on at Stephen Wise, including more Hebrew in the service, more singing and chanting by the congregants, and a greater interest in religious education. These changes are typical of the new Reform Judaism.
Begun in Germany more than a century ago, the Reform movement emphasized ethics over ritual, abjuring the wearing of tallis and yarmulkes at services, for instance, and encouraging the use of local languages rather than Hebrew.
Last week, Reform Judaism's Central Conference of American Rabbis adopted the Pittsburgh Principles, reviving many of these customs in what supporters call a reclaiming of Jewish tradition, and critics call Conservative Judaism Lite, and even harsher critics call a retreat from rationalism.
Ayn Rand's Panties Extra
This past Sunday, Showtime presented The Passion of Ayn Rand, with the fierce and smoldering Helen Mirren as the dishy right-wing egomaniac, leaving many otherwise sensible people hungry for the forbidden passions of the libertarians. Satisfy these cravings at Laissez Faire Books, "The World's Largest Selection of Books on Liberty." Below, some items from its May catalog.
Those Dirty Rotten Taxes, by Charles Adams
"A lively chronicle of courageous, patriotic Americans who hated taxes and did something about it."
I believe he also wrote Those Dirty Rotten Prices, a lively chronicle of courageous shoplifters.
Hide Your Assets and Disappear, by Edmund Pankau
"A step-by-step guide to vanishing without a trace."
And yet, so few on the right actually do.
The Food and Drink Police, by James T. Bennett and Thomas J. DiLorenzo
"America's Nannies, Busybodies, and Petty Tyrants."
A heartfelt plea for the return of tainted meat.
That Every Man Be Armed, by Stephen R. Halbrook
"Halbrook shows that your right to bear arms isn't some crackpot notion."
I particularly enjoyed the chapter, "A Legal Theory From Those Screaming Voices in My Head."
Freedom in Chains, by James Bovard
"Shocking story about government gone wild."
Party down with those maniacs at Health and Human Services ... if you dare.
Myth of the Robber Barons, by Burton W. Folsom Jr.
Turns out, those steel strikes were staged with actors who were not killed by the Pinkertons, but retired to mansions on Fifth Avenue.
Hayek poster: $9.95
This month marks the centenary of Friedrich August von Hayek, the Austrian economist, anti-socialist, Nobel Prize winner, and dreamboat. There's only a cursory description of the poster, but I smell string bikini.
Video: Phil Donahue Interviews Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman, Part I and Part II
Oh, like I don't already own it on laserdisc.
Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life, by Michael Paxton
"Hundreds of revealing, never-before-published photos."
The perfect companion for my William Buckley vibrator.
Tim Carvell's Bloated Indulgence Extra
Participants are still invited to find a sentence in an actual publication that best conveys hideously conspicuous consumption in 1999. Submissions due by noon ET, Monday, June 7.
The Making of
A True Threat:
Artists in Love
And No Ale
Village Voice, June 1, 1999
It's a brisathon.