Sunday, December 11, 2016

Ending Yom Kippur....

Top of the evening everyone...

Given that Hannukah is about to be upon us, I thought it high time to write about the way I calculate the ending to Yom Kippur.

Some background is in order.  First of all, the local va'ad in Toronto insists on using the strictest method of calculation possible, which is 72 minutes from the time of candle-lighting.  As well, I have seen methods that just require an hour from candle-lighting.  This was what most communities in New York did.

When I was at my pulpit in New York, my cantor insisted on fasting on Yom Kippur, despite being diabetic.  As well, he refused to use his CPAP machine.  Every year, we argued about it, and every year he did what he was going to do.

Upon reflection, it occurred to me that he was likely not the only person in the room fasting when he should not have been, when Jewish law would have told him that he should not.  On the one hand, this is good.  Rabbis everywhere want these basic observances of Jewish law to be so ingrained that it is hard to put them down even when we should.  On the other hand, there are times we should.

Shabbat and holidays can all end when there are three stars in the sky.  Many years back, someone wrote an article showing that three stars are always visible 25 minutes past sundown.  Candle-lighting is 18 minutes before sundown.  Thus, 43 minutes after candle-lighting is an acceptable time to end Shabbat and holidays.  That is when I shoot to get to the ending rituals.

What Jewish law requires, it requires.  When it comes to something like fasting, it is unreasonable for Jewish law to require even a minute more than it already does, especially since setting those times already involves a necessary stringency.  And that is for those who should fast.  When we get into the realm of those who should not fast, but do so anyway, I believe it obligatory to end as quickly as possible, absent stringencies, for the sake of their health.

Have a good evening everyone.


Category IV....

That is what it says on my military ID card.  It refers to my category in the Geneva Conventions.  I am not a combatant.  It means that in a war, the other side is not allowed to target me in any way.  If captured, I do not become a POW.  I become a detainee.  The difference is significant.  A detainee is allowed to continue with his/her assigned tasking.  Failure to support that requires releasing a detainee to go home.

In September 2001, my infantry battalion did an exercise with the Royal Marines.  One morning, they crept up on our perimeter, "killed" the guards, and then overran our camp.  I woke with a Royal Marine yelling "whar's yer weapon?"  I said "chaplain."  He turned and shot someone else.

I have every confidence that if the US ever gets into armed conflict with the British, my status will be respected and protected.

The challenge is that I do not expect us to get into a war with the British.  This is a good thing.  However, the folks with whom we get into armed conflict now have no respect whatsoever for such convention.  It is in that light that I have started working on my tan belt with the Marine Corps.  I have learned a couple of things while doing it.

The first is that I have most of the moves down at this point.

The second is that the Marines with whom I am working are half my age.  Maybe starting this at age 47 was not the brightest idea I have ever had.  Ouch.  It is the weekend right now.  I must tell you that I am happy about that.  My ribs are no longer tender.

On a separate, but related note, my dad took my brother and me to the range last night.  Dad can shoot.  My brother did okay as well.  With me...well...there is clear reason that chaplains do not carry.  My dad kept telling me to keep the muzzle up.  I finally said that there is a pill for that.

Have a good one everybody.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

To Good to Be True...

Top of the evening to all.

First of all, thank you to GS and to EKB for pointing out the spelling mistake in the title.  The mistake is intentional.

Why did I write such a mistake?  It is because of a headline I saw on MSNBC.

"Is Flynn to cozy with Putin to be national security advisor?"  There is an egregious error in that title. It has left me wondering: in order for Flynn to be the national security advisor, must he cozy with Putin?  Do you think they will have tea together while watching TV on the sofa?

I am willing to bet that the headline is supposed to be "Is Flynn too cozy with Putin to be national security advisor?"

The big 'O' is clearly missing a piece.

Have a good night, and to General Flynn and Mr. Putin, well, never mind.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

I Think I Saw Air Force 1...

Top of the evening to all...

I was at Andrews Air Force Base today.  That is where the President takes off and lands when traveling.

I had to get from one side of the base to the other after lunch.  So I started driving the perimeter road. It is impossible to go straight across, due to the fact that there is a big runway in the middle.

As I was getting ready to make the left turn that goes past the runway, there were several cars in front of me.  I could not figure out why no one was turning.  Cars lined up and lined up.  Apparently, there was an Airman holding up traffic.

We waited.  We waited some more.  More than two dozen cars had lined up behind me.  Then I saw it.

A big, beautiful 747 took off, winging gracefully towards the sky.  On its side was the American flag, as well as "United States of America."  It was clearly one of the 747's erroneously called Air Force 1. Why do I say that it is erroneously called that?  First of all, there are two of this aircraft.  Second, and far more importantly, it is only a plane.  It does not become Air Force 1 until the President is aboard.  As the White House is appropriately reluctant to announce the President's travel schedule, it could have been just a practice flight.  It turns out that he was headed to Florida.  I think I saw Air Force 1 today.

That was totally cool.

Have a good night.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The War on Cars...

Hi all...

Those of us who live in Toronto hear constantly about the so-called 'War on Cars.'  We are led to believe that cyclists want nothing more than the elimination of cars from the road.  It is nonsense.  We merely want to ride safely.  I suspect that cars want nothing more than that as well.  Sometimes, cyclists are dimwits.  There have been several I have wanted to run down.

Today, I was riding south on Bathurst St coming to my corner.  There was a car ahead of me signalling to turn onto my street.  He clearly saw me coming, and held off on making his turn until he knew exactly where I was.  I held my left hand up to signal my own turn.  He saw that, and realized that we were both going the same way.

He made the turn extra wide, giving me plenty of space to make my turn, or to avoid hitting me if he had misread.  We both made the turn safely.  He pulled into one of the parking lots to pick someone up.  I pulled up next to him.

Me: I want to thank you for making an extra effort not to kill me.
Him: I want to thank you for being responsible.  When you signalled your turn, I knew what you were going to do.

We shook hands.  I went home for lunch.

It can be that way.

Have a good evening everyone.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Throwing My Kippah into the Ring...

Top of the evening everyone...

Some of you may remember that I finally ran for President four years ago.  I was not pleased with President Obama.  Mitt Romney was less than impressive.  I wrote an entry about it.  Here it is: I Have a Problem.

It is now four years later.  We are all witness to the political spectacle that is this year's Presidential election.   Please allow me to add a couple of thoughts.

Donald Trump...oy.  Had you asked me, or anyone else for that matter, a year ago, I would have said that he did not stand a snowball's chance in hell of getting the nomination.  I also said then that he was saying things that needed to be discussed.  His utter lack of filter was putting serious concerns on the table.

That was then.  This is now.  Jennifer is absolutely right in her blog entry of this week about locker room talk.  My friends, please allow me to speak of men's locker rooms.  Whatever Jennifer has said is correct.  However, she simply does not have the experience of being in the men's locker room.  I do.

The men's locker room is not particularly noisy.  People tend to be quiet.  If there is a conversation, it is between two people, or maybe among three people.  It is not across the room.  As well, the general level of class that I have seen is more or less appropriate to daily society.  I flatly reject the insult of locker room talk in justifying Trump's statements.  Gentlemen, to be a gentleman is to be a gentleman at all times and in all places.  This includes the locker room.  A male President of the United States is always a gentleman.

That brings us to Secretary Clinton.  She is smart.  She is competent.  In theory, I could vote for her.  I have two problems.  One is mine, and it is not a political problem.  This e-mail 'scandal' is important.  For the record, she is not a criminal.  To call her that is horrendous.  However, the e-mail 'scandal' presents a question of leadership.  I have two .mil e-mail accounts.  'Mil' is short for 'military.'  All federal employees in the US are required by law to use government e-mail for all government business.  Having been on the receiving end of a tongue-lashing for violating that rule, I take umbrage at her getting away with it.  It is far worse when one realizes that her security clearance is far higher than mine.

That being said, a friend pointed out that there was no malice.  Folks, let it go.

The other issue is not so much a Secretary Clinton issue.  It is the minions that she brings with her.  During the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, protestors burned two flags outside the convention centre.  The two flags were the US flag and Israel's flag.  I absolutely support and defend the right to burn the flag.  Under no circumstances will I keep company with those who do so.  As people who would burn those two flags gain influence in the Democratic party, I cannot vote with that party anymore.

And so, I formally announce my candidacy for the Office of the President of the United States of America.  My platform is this: I am not the other two.

Unlike last time, I am hoping for actual votes.  If you believe in me, please tell a friend.  If you do not, I understand, and still like you.

BR - if you are reading my blog these days, please note that I will nominate you for AG.

Have a good evening everyone.


Monday, September 12, 2016

I Forgot to Give This a Title...

Top of the evening everyone...

For those of you who have not been out east, you should go.  We just got back from Prince Edward Island.  If you are familiar with the "Anne of Green Gables" books, they were all written out there.  L. M. Montgomery is buried in Cavendish.  We explored the cemetery.

I am forced to confess that PEI has the absolute best ice cream I have ever had.  I do not do dairy so well, but decided to risk it because of the reputation.  I think that my daughter found meaning in life at Cows ice cream.

I took the boys bicycle riding up and down the eastern shoreline.  There were all sorts of birds, including one comparatively small bird that walked up and down the red dunes.

We had a fair amount of debate as to how to get to PEI.  There is the bridge and the ferry.  We all very much wanted to take the ferry, because, you know, we believe in ferries.  We ended up doing both.

I went in up to my knees in the water up near Cavendish.  I was not going to be that far north and not get my feet wet.

We rented a cottage at Cavendish.  With cottages, we have front porches.  You talk to your neighbours.  I found it interesting that the men all wanted to sell everything and move out to PEI.  It seems so much calmer than life in all of the places from which we hail.

We also went to the potato museum.  PEI grows a lot of potatoes.  They fry quite well.

I am being stepped on, so I think I should help with the groceries.

Good night everyone.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Tisha b'Av

Top of the evening to all...

The saddest day on the Jewish calendar is Tisha b’Av.  The Mishnah teaches us that five calamities befell our ancestors on this day.  History has added many more.  We mourn these calamities collectively on this one day.

Because it is a sad day, it has become a day of fasting.  Jewish tradition (as well as practicality) teaches that we should have a seudah mafseket, a meal to lead into the fast.  We try not to overdo it.

Amongst the other things put on the table up here at camp, there was cereal.  A good carbohydrate load is important going into a fast.  I enjoyed a bowl of cereal with my dinner.  It was Rice Krispies, because…

It is fun to put snap, crackle, pop into your mourning.

Have a great evening everyone.


P.S.  You have no idea how much fun this was to write.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

That Is So Unfair!!

Top of the evening to all...

I often heard my mother say to me that life is unfair.  I learned to accept that.  She is right.  My lament on that is that I do not mind that life is unfair.  Every once in a while, I would like it to be unfair in my favour.  It does not seem like an unreasonable request.

Having said that, I try to make note of when life is unfair in my favour.  Three good things have happened over the last couple of weeks.

I am a member of Cycle Toronto, and have been for eight or nine years.  It is Toronto's cycling union.  During the month of June, there was a drawing for new and renewed memberships.  The winner of the drawing won a bicycle.  It is quite a comfortable ride.  I ended up upgrading it quite a bit, both in terms of speed capability and in terms of basic issues of comfort, so I ended up with about $1000 worth of bicycle for less than half of that amount.  Nice!!

That would have been sufficient.  I then purchased a $3 instant lottery ticket.  It won $100, and then I won another $15 the same day.  My friend David says that playing the lottery is mathematical illiteracy.  He is absolutely right.  Still, yet again, life was unfair in my favour.

Today was the kicker.  One of the local radio stations has a contest three times a day.  If you are the tenth caller, you get to answer increasingly difficult trivia questions.  A correct answer increases the amount of money won.  An incorrect answer loses everything.  You can quit at any time and take your winnings.  I elected to quit after having won $500.

At this time, I would like to note for the record that life has been unfair in my favour.  I do not expect it to continue, though I would not mind.

Have a good evening everyone.


Monday, July 4, 2016

Best Left Unsaid...

Top of the evening to all...

Many times, I have uttered some sort of wisecrack under my breath.  Those who hear something ask what it was.  I usually respond that it is not worth repeating.  Generally speaking, things not worth repeating are usually not worth saying in the first place.  That, however, is a different discussion.  Or maybe it is not.

Here are two things best left unsaid.

You may have heard in the news that a person dressed as Superman stole a truckload of capers (you know....the little brownish things that are used to decorate food plates).  This event will come to be known as the great caped caper caper.

And if you think that is bad...

There was a person holding two pears that he had peeled.  He thus had a pair of pared pears.

Have a good night.


If You Happen to Be in Altoona...

Top of the afternoon to all...

My medium child, bless his soul, is constantly coming home with hubcaps.  I do not know why.  One of my nicknames for him is "Hubcap."  Those who know him will agree that it fits.

Two of the hubcaps that he brought home fit on our car.  This was convenient.  We were missing two hubcaps.  These two hubcaps did not match each other.  They also did not match the two hubcaps that were already on the car.  I put them on anyway.

Yesterday, Jennifer and I were driving northbound on I-99, just north of Altoona, Pennsylvania.  There was something in the road, likely a piece of a blown-out tire.  For reasons that are lost on me, I ran it over instead of steering gently to avoid it.  I heard a clunk.  I saw this thing that had been in the road bouncing a little bit before coming to a rest.

And I saw a hubcap go rolling across the road.

When we got home, lo and behold, we were down a hubcap.  Luckily, the two that still match each other remain on the car.

If you happen to be passing through Altoona, Pennsylvania, and if you happen to see a hubcap on the side of I-99 north of Altoona, I do not expect you to stop and pick it up for us.  I hope that you will have a little chuckle though.

Have a great day everyone.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Bias in the Media....

Top of the afternoon everyone...

I have often had arguments with my father-in-law over where I get my news.  I usually read Fox news on line.  He says it is all lies.  I find it easier not to have the argument, so I remain silent.

He prefers CNN.  I stopped reading CNN regularly several years ago when I decided that their anti-Israel bias was way too evident.  My father-in-law has insisted that it has gotten better.

I respectfully differ.

There was an attack today in Tel Aviv.  Two Palestinians shot up Sorona complex.  For the record, there is nothing disputed about Tel Aviv.

The headline on CNN initially read: 9 shot in market area; 2 'terrorists' in custody.  If they were terrorists, why were the quotation marks necessary?  This is perplexing.

But wait!  There is more.

I tried to figure out a way to contact the nice folks at CNN to tell them to call a terrorist a terrorist.  It does not need quotation marks.  I was unable to find a way to contact them.

During the several minutes that I was trying to find the contact information, CNN changed the headline.  It now reads: 9 shot in market area; 2 attackers in custody.  The entire word is gone.

On April 28th, CNN's headline read: San Bernardino terrorist's brother arrested.  Clearly, when the attack takes place in the US, the word is acceptable.  Let's explore further.

On March 21st, CNN's headline read: Surviving Paris terrorist was planning new attacks.  So we can see that terrorism takes place in Paris.

On March 23rd, CNN invites us to "meet the victims of the Brussels terror attack."

CNN comfortably uses words like 'terrorism' and 'terror' in Europe and in the US.  They do so without the quotation marks.  What is the issue with Israel?  One wonders.

I will happily concede to my father-in-law that Fox might not get it right all the time.  However, lies exist beyond the distortion of facts.  It is a bald-faced lie to use words that deliberately distort facts.  It is also a lie to use words that deliberately conceal relevant facts.

CNN, I challenge you to use the word 'terrorism' in a headline that refers to Israel.


May the best of the day be yours.


Addendum: 9:02 PM - CNN's headline says that people were killed in a terror attack.  They were able to use the word.

Addendum: It is now Friday morning.  Since I wrote this, CNN has apologized for their vocabulary.  They have called this a terrorist attack.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Speech Development...

Top of the afternoon to all...

You are all aware of my dislike of earbuds.  I believe that the constant use of them is a danger.  A couple of weeks back, I was riding my bicycle on the trail along the Finch Hydro Corridor.  There was a young woman ahead of me.  I started ringing my bell to alert her of my presence.  There was no response.

I decided to stop the bicycle and talk to her.  She seemed to understand my concern about the danger of not being able to hear what is going on around her.  I wonder whether she changed her practice.

A related matter has piqued my interest.  When my children were still in the stroller, Jennifer and/or I would take them out for a walk.  We did not have cell phones.  We did not have text capability.  I used to narrate the walk to the kids.

I watch now.  People are out with the strollers.  One hand is pushing the stroller.  The other has the phone in hand and is doing whatever with the phone.  No one talks with the child in the stroller.

I wonder what the implications for speech development are in this regard.  Kids learn to speak by hearing what is going on around them.  If parents are reading texts and e-mail and not talking to their children, there is crucial developmental time that is lost.

Have a good evening.


Monday, May 23, 2016

The Cardinal's Pushke...

Top of the evening to all...

It has been a while since I have written.  I hope that all of you are doing well.

Jennifer and I are presently attending the Rabbinical Assembly in New York City.  We have discussed the future of the Rabbinical Assembly as rabbis take on roles well beyond the pulpit.  We have discussed the new, tour de force Shabbat siddur that has just come out.

We also had a plenary with His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan from the Archdiocese of New York City.  The Jewish community of New York City has always had a good relationship with the Archdiocese.  Some years back, John Cardinal O'Connor came to the installation ceremony of the New York Board of Rabbis.  He gave a gift of a red yarmulke to the incoming president.  Cardinal Dolan sits on the advisory panel for the Jewish Theological Seminary, where both Jennifer and I received our semikhah.  It was a wonderful discussion about religious leadership in a secular age.  Cardinal Dolan suggested to us that while we live in an age of secularism, that did not mean that all secularists were anti-religion.  His thoughts were further that on some level, way more people than not, even amongst the secularists, seek a language of spirituality.

As a gift, the Rabbinical Assembly gave him a pushke - a tzedakah box - a charity box for those with no Yiddish or Hebrew background.  It had an inscription.  It was lacking one thing.

My father-in-law has always said that a pushke should never be empty.  On the one hand, one might think that we should seek to empty it at every chance.  On the other hand, tzedakah should be a constant, never allowing us to rest on our laurels.  As such, the minute it is emptied, we should put money into it.  Knowing my father-in-law's thoughts (and agreeing with them), at the end of the plenary, I walked over to the Cardinal's pushke and put a dollar into it.  He appreciated it.

Have a good night everyone.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

You Should See the Other Guy.....

Top of the afternoon to all...

My medium child received a warning from the police the other day due to a traffic violation.  He was riding his bicycle in the crosswalk.  It happened here:

His citation was a warning as he was riding his bicycle in the crosswalk.

When his school called me and told me what was going on, I knew exactly where it had happened.

And now for the rest of the story.  First of all, the lad is just fine.  He has some bumps and bruises.  His the absolute least needs two new wheels, new pedals, and a new front gear system.  When the light turned green, he pedalled out into the crosswalk, with the idea of riding parallel to the crosswalk.  The person taking the left from Wilmington onto Finch either did not see him or thought that he could turn in front of him.  It was the wrong set of decisions on the car driver's part.  He hit the kid, pretty hard.

I met up with everyone at Humber River Hospital.  We hung out there for a few hours while the nice folks there checked him over.  He is fine.

There is no long-term damage.

The car, from what I understand, requires a new windshield.  Good!  It serves the driver right.  He should know better than to zip out of an intersection like that, and crossing in front of anyone in the crosswalk is illegal.  At least he stayed.

I always knew that the medium child would be the one with a police record.

May the best of the day be yours.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Response to Reader on Most Recent Posting...

Top of the day to all...

One of my loyal readers replied to my previous post that she thought cleanliness had something to do with kashrut.  Alas, it is not true.

Strictly speaking, the word only has to do with whether or not food is ritually fit.  While kosher food producers should adhere to higher standards in areas outside of food preparation, honest books, and proper working conditions, just for example, violating any of those presents no ritual issue in and of itself.

I would like to point to an amusing article on kosher oysters.  The oysters are clean, even pure, but they are not kosher.

I agree with the reader though on the basic issue.  The quality of chickens has dropped precipitously since Chai Poultry closed.  I understand that there will be kosher chickens again in Ontario in the not-too-distant future, but we are not there yet.

In the meantime, we are stuck with what we are getting, which is clearly a fowl foul.

Have a good day everyone.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Responsible Administration of Kashrut...

Top of the evening all...

Once upon a time, food production was largely cottage industries.  The local dairyman brought milk to town.  The local farmer brought chickens.  The local gardener brought rutabagas.  It was thus very easy to keep a kosher home.  People knew the producers personally, and therefore knew the product.

As the techniques for mass production developed after the industrial age, kashrut had to take on new dimensions.  Thus developed the concept of the hekhsher, kosher supervision.  Rabbis would go out and put their seal on a product.  We now see these marks on all manner of food.  Some foods have a long history (comparatively).  For example, Maxwell House coffee has been certified kosher since the 1920's.  Coca Cola has been certified since the 1930's.  Other products are more recent, such as M&M's and Oreos.

When we get to the Pesach time of year, the issues of supervision become a little more complex.  We have to deal with the extra foods that are otherwise permitted, but forbidden during the holiday of Pesach.  Within those foods, there is a category called kitniyot, which Sephardim eat but Ashkenazim do not.

In theory, this should be simple.  It gets complicated though, because custom was never monolithic.  It was subject to much interpretation depending on location, rabbi, product availability, and a whole bunch of other factors.  It is thus impossible to say that Ashkenazim did 'X,' and Sephardim did 'Y.'

Now here is the issue.  Some of those other issues have started to appear in ways that demand a new look at how products are supervised.  For example, I cannot eat wheat or dairy.  Other people are vegetarians.  The list of quirks in people's diets is quite astounding.

Kashrut should be administered with those quirks in mind.  If kashrut organizations do not wish to put all of the relevant information on the package, or if companies do not want to put all of the relevant information on the package, that is understandable.  It gets crowded.  It can still be put on the  company websites.  Oreos are certified as dairy, even though there is not a drop of milk in them.  Okay, but for someone who has anaphylactic reactions to dairy, it is nice to know that they should be safe.  The certification as dairy alone is not helpful.

Kashrut supervision at present takes only the kosher diet into consideration.  It needs to expand its mindset beyond, so that those who keep kosher can do so while also tending to individual dietary needs.

May the best of the evening be yours.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Poor Hamlet...

Top of the evening to all...

We are all aware of the hemming and hawing that Hamlet commits in Shakespeare's famous play.  The Bard, however, did not take note of the physical manifestations of Hamlet's stress.  We are, of course, all aware that stress can cause physical concerns.

For Hamlet, it was constant digestive issues.  It really drove him crazy.

This of course leads Polonius to say "though this be madness, yet there be methane in't."

I am clearly guilty of Polonius assault.

Good night to all.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Why Do I Do This to Myself?

Top of the evening everyone...

I read the news every day, without fail.  In the paper version (yes...I still get the paper version), I thoroughly enjoy not just the news, but also the letters to the editor and the op-ed page.  Sometimes, I go there first.

I also read on line.  On line, many of the articles will allow any and all readers to make comments on the article.  This is distressing, to say the least.

For starters, the grammar is awful.  It suggests a low level of either education or concern, neither of which are particularly palatable.  

Beyond that, the degree of racism, sexism, and extremism just makes these comments vile.  It is remarkably discomforting to read the rhetoric that is on these pages.  It makes it easy to see why the American political scene is so polarized and fragmented these days.

It has been very little time since my last post, but I must return to Bloom County.  The comments that have gone with the return of the comic strip have been delightful.  People have been kind and appreciative not just of the return of the comic, but of each other.  As well, the comments on the facebook page have had good spelling and grammar.  There is hope.

Welcome back, Bloom County.  We missed you in ways that never occurred to us.



Top of the evening to all...

Some of you might remember that I wrote a blog entry back in 2012.  The title of the entry was Books on a Desert Island.  We had been assigned to come back to class with three non-religious books that we would want with us if stranded on a desert island.

Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" was on my list.  I mentioned then that it was the only book I have ever read that I did not want to see come to an end.

I have always assumed that Scout is the narrator of the story, and that therefore Harper Lee was writing as Scout.  My favourite comic returned over the last few months.  Berkley Breathed had a connection with Ms. Lee.  His touching tribute to her in his comic last Sunday made me wonder though.  He suggests that Ms. Lee is actually Arthur "Boo" Radley.

The story obviously cannot happen without Boo Radley.  He maintains a sense of mystery to the story, leaving the children wondering who keeps placing gifts for them in the tree.  He would have had a front-row view of Atticus shooting the rabid dog.  He saves Scout and Jem's life as they crossed the school yard and past his own yard.

Having thought about it, I believe that Scout was the narrator.  It had never dawned on me though to consider Boo Radley as something other than an important but only peripheral character.  Considering that Ms. Lee might have been writing from that vantage point changes the story.  The next time I read it, I will be asking what Boo Radley sees at each point.

Nelle Harper Lee, rest in peace.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

That's His Job...

Top of the afternoon to all.

It has been a while since I have written.  I hope you have not forgotten about me.

You are all likely aware by now that US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has died.  He was a legal giant who sat on the Supreme Court for three decades.  For those of you who are to the more liberal side in your politics, I hope this is not how you would have wanted him to depart the bench.  That being said, he was the scion of conservative jurisprudence.  The US legal system will feel his absence.  Like him or dislike him, his influence on the Court will be felt for decades.

According to the US Constitution, the nomination of justices to the Supreme Court is the responsibility of the President, pending approval by the Senate.  Over the last 30 years, this has become an increasingly partisan issue, much to my chagrin.  With the partisan nature of Washington politics, a Democratic President will not be able to get a nomination past a Republican Senate, especially during a presidential election year.

As such, those on the political right are saying that the President should not nominate a justice, but rather let it wait until after January 20th, 2017, when there is a new POTUS.  Those on the left are saying he should nominate now, as the Supreme Court should not be without its full complement of justices for what will be over a year.

Those arguing both sides are doing a lousy job concealing the political rancour that has been the hallmark of US politics over the last several years.

My politics are somewhat right of centre, but not by much.  With the right candidate, perhaps Mayor Bloomberg, they are somewhat left of centre, but not by much.

My politics are irrelevant here.  I hold with those who are pushing for nomination now.  It is not because the President should be concerned about a full complement of justices.  It is not because of the elections in any way.

It is really very simple.  The Constitution also says that the President is elected for a term of four years.  By tradition, presidents held the office for two terms, until President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was elected four times.  After his death, the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, formally limiting presidents to two terms.  The Constitution does not say that s/he is elected for four years, except on certain matters.  Like him or not, President Obama's job continues until noon, January 20th, 2017.  Failure to nominate a justice for the Supreme Court is an abdication of the responsibility that the American people have emphatically placed in his hands.

Whether he picks a liberal or a conservative, I hope that he picks someone whose intellect matches that of Justice Scalia.

May Justice Antonin Scalia rest in peace, and may all people on both sides of the political spectrum recognize his life of service to the country as well as his devotion to the foundation of its legal system.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

A French-Canadian in Oxford...

Top of the evening to all...

After Justin Trudeau was sworn at...I mean sworn Prime Minister, I sent him a note of congratulations.  This is a right and proper courtesy, quite separate from how I might feel about his politics.  I assume he got thousands of such notes.

There was a letter from his office when I got back from vacation this last week.  Obviously, I opened it.  There was a letter thanking me for the note of congratulations.  After showing it to several people, we are all of the opinion that it is a signed letter.  It was not a stamp.  I am flattered.

I had a chuckle though.  After everything I wrote about the differences in grammatical styles here and in the US, I noted that the letter from the PM made use of the Oxford comma.

Have a good evening everyone.