Sunday, December 22, 2019

Fake News....

Good afternoon everyone.

We have all been forced over the last couple of years to deal with the term 'fake news.' Anything the relevant parties do not wish to believe falls under that category.

Disclaimer: I read the news on Fox. Whatever else is going on in what masquerades as journalism in this day and age, at least Fox is biased towards Israel.

It was most disheartening to find significant fake news at Fox this morning. The video link is copied below.

Take note at about 26 seconds into the video. There, we see a picture of what is likely the pedestal of a hannukiyah. Next to it is a Torah scroll. What is wrong with this picture?

The Torah scroll is upside down.

I am sure that it is fake news.

Have a wonderful Hannukah everyone.


Saturday, December 21, 2019


Good evening Ladies, Gentlemen, and Non-binaries...

Today's news has an interesting article. Apparently, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-California) tweeted that if he is re-elected, President Trump is going to invite President Putin of Russia to the White House.

A leader visiting the White House is a big deal. The location of meetings says much about the importance of the relationship. Congresswoman Waters should perhaps check her history prior to mouthing off. President Putin visited the White House in 2001. He visited Camp David in 2003. He visited the Bush family home in Maine in 2007.

As well, we note further that President Xi Jinping was in the United States in 2015 for a state visit with President Obama. If Congresswoman Waters has been following the news of late, this is the same President Xi Jinping who has been trying to put down a pro-democracy rebellion in Hong Kong.

Congresswoman Waters should be aware the presidents conduct diplomacy. That is their job. Sometimes, they have to conduct said diplomacy with people who make most of us want to shower at the mere mention of their names. That too is their job. For the good congresswoman to raise this issue shows an utter lack of knowledge about the art of diplomacy. As well, it shows an utter lack of knowledge about the history of state visits.

Nothing to see here folks. Let's move on.

Good night.


Friday, November 1, 2019

The Deeper Questions of Life....

Top of the evening ladies, gentlemen, and non-binaries...

As a rabbi, people will often ask me the deeper questions of life. For example...

1. What happens after we die? (I do not know, but I want to rig my e-mail to send a note several months later complaining that something bit my toe.)
2. What is the meaning of life? 42
3. Is there an afterlife?
4. What is my purpose in life?
5. Does God really care about what I do?

These questions, as well as many others, are above my pay grade. They are also questions that do not cross my mind all that often. And what are the questions that cross my mind?

1. Why is it that when in a rush, it seems a requirement to hit every traffic light, sometimes being stuck for more than one cycle?
2. Why is it that I must look in the same spot four separate times, spread out over an hour, before finding the thing that fell there?

(Sigh) It has been a long day.

Good night.


Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Canadian Jobs...

Good evening to all.

Mr. Trudeau came to this evening's debate. When the Lavalin issue came up, he repeated his oft-stated priority of protecting Canadian jobs. It is a laudable goal, and should be on the lips of everyone running for any office. However, after my trip to the supermarket last week, I am unimpressed.

I went to the Superstore at Dufferin and Steeles. One of the purchases was garlic. We go through a fair amount. The garlic from China was $4.98/kilo. The garlic from Canada was $3.98/pound. To work from equal weights and measures, $4.98/kilo = $2.26/pound. This means that the garlic from Canada was over 50% more expensive than the garlic from China.

Mr. Trudeau, we all want you to fight for Canadian jobs. May we humbly suggest that you fight as well for Canadian farmers?



Saturday, September 28, 2019

At Alice's Restaurant, Yes, But Not in my Backyard!!

Good evening all....

Over a period of about 18 hours, we have had guests for various meals. One just dropped in for takeout. The other had a picnic on my deck, and did not even clean up. This is really for the birds.

Thursday afternoon, I was on the phone and staring out the back window. All of a sudden, a large brown blur zipped across the yard. The angle was off, but I think that the large brown blur was a hawk, plucking something from a tree branch.

We have a picture of another(?) hawk having breakfast on the railing of our deck. Judging by the remaining feathers (and the leg), it was a blue jay. We have a broom. We would have loaned it to the hawk if s/he had wanted to clean up.

It is kind of neat to watch natural selection in my own backyard. I am not going to grouse about this. I would hate to see these hawks run a-fowl of natural law.

Please forgive my poultry attempts at humour.

On a side note, other possible titles for this blog entry were "I Am Not Running a Cafeteria" and "Takedown...Hawk...Two Points."

Go to sleep.


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Another New Law....

Hi all...

The world of social media will not go away. And it should not. However, we have seen too much of what happens when a twitter war begins. Person A says something. Person B is offended, annoyed, or angry in some way. Person B fires back a nasty tweet, and then the entire world does a pile-on.

There has got to be a better way. There is a better way.

It is okay to be offended. It is okay to be annoyed. It is okay to get angry. There is nothing in the Bill of Rights or in the Charter that says you have an absolute right never to be angry or offended.

So be offended. Be annoyed. Be angry. I support you.

At this point, you are expecting me to tell you to count to ten before firing off what we always called a nasty-gram when I was in the Navy. Counting to ten is useless. Some count slowly. Some count quickly. I find it is better to have something more tangible than counting.

Here is my solution: before firing off the sharply-worded tweet, all offended, annoyed, and angry people must (must!!) eat a Hershey's kiss.

How can one be offended, annoyed, or angry after having consumed chocolate?

Have a good day everyone.


Monday, September 2, 2019

Mass Shootings...

Good evening everyone...

We are witness to yet another mass shooting in the United States. As such, we are also witness to yet another round of pontificating from both sides of the political spectrum.

In some manner of attempt to put an end to this mess, the President and the Department of Justice have decided to pursue capital charges in cases of mass shootings. I respectfully, but emphatically, disagree.

I wrote about this some years ago: My views have not changed.

With respect to the President, I commend this administration's attempts to put some element of regulation and law to the very deep, personal question of abortion. Bottom line is that with that question, no one will be completely satisfied with any answer. Finding a middle ground is a challenge on a good day.

That being said, those who oppose abortion, the President being among them, call themselves pro-life. Putting aside the fact that we are all pro-life, to be pro-life must mean that you are pro ALL life. Pro-life is not just about cute babies. Pro-life is also about the thug with a police record longer than my arm. If we are to say that we are only pro-life for certain people, then we are also pro-death for others. Sorry folks, but that is quite contradictory.

On the other side, to be anti-death penalty must mean that there should be no law allowing a live birth to die simply because that birth was intended to be an abortion. If one is anti-death, one must be anti-death in all cases. To limit our belief in life to the aforementioned thug but to exclude another living human being is also quite the contradiction.

I have a better idea all the way around. Let's find a way to talk to each other and figure out what the issues are. I do not think that it is the guns, but would love to talk to folks who think it is. I make no promise on being convinced, but I will share a promise to listen openly and politely.

Good night.


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Please Tell Me You Did Not Say That...

Top of the afternoon to all...

So there I was, reading the news on an unpopular news network. There was an article in the entertainment section recounting an interview with Alyssa Milano. For reasons that I cannot fathom, this is not the first time she has been mentioned in this blog. Please note at this time that this is not an honourable mention.

Here is the link:

She comments that she had had two (two!) abortions early on in her career.

She says at least three things in this article. "I would not have my career." We do not know that. She is quite talented. She might not have her career. She might have a different career. Or she might have said that kids are more important. We cannot know. When two roads diverge in a yellow wood, the best that we can do is keep one for another day. We cannot walk both simultaneously. Her flimsy reasoning though rules out the possibility that her life and yes, her career, might have turned out just as amazing had she not had the abortion. And it rules out the fact that we have no means of comparison, because our lives can only turn out in one way at any given moment.

"I would not have my children - my beautiful, perfect, loving, kind, and inquisitive children who have a mother who was so very, very ready for them." Perhaps, but instead Ms. Milano, you would have two different, beautiful, perfect, loving, kind, and inquisitive children. Or maybe you would have all four. And parent to parent, you would love them all. Again, there is no way of knowing what might have happened. We are human. We are not prophets or gods.

"I had done what I knew to do to prevent pregnancy." Clearly, not. But let us have an aside. Eating dairy often (but not always) causes digestive issues. The only foolproof way of avoiding those digestive issues is not to eat dairy. So I rarely eat dairy, and on those rare occasions that I do, even with a lactose pill, I am gambling. I know the risks, and I take my chances.

That might not have been so obvious to Ms. Milano. Folks, the act that brings about having children does not exist in and of itself. There are always results. That act can lead to children. If one does not know his or her partner, that act can bring about significant, long-term medical issues. It can bring about a closeness with the other person. If one does not want any of these results, there is only one foolproof way to avoid them - cease and desist.

My friends, that goes for everything. If you do not want the potential results of eating seven bags of potato chips while watching bad movies, then do not eat seven bags of potato chips while watching bad movies. If you do not want the potential results of consuming too much alcohol, do not consume too much alcohol. And if you know that you are not ready for children, it might be worth it to stick to the potato chips and the bad movies. This really is not rocket science.

Ms. Milano, whatever discussions we might wish to have about abortion, we will have to agree to disagree on this one. Sacrificing a potential life on the altar of a career is reprehensible.

So please tell me you did not say that.


Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Last Straw...

Top of the afternoon everyone...

I had trouble deciding on the title of this blog entry. It was either going to be the title I used, or something along the lines of "Still Trying Not to Become a Right Wing Zealot." "The Elephant in the Room" was also a possibility. It was a difficult choice.

We are all aware that plastic straws are the latest concern in the global war on climate change. Putting aside all of the questions that might develop from the sentence above, perhaps there is some merit. The use of non-biodegradable products with such limited usability is not good for the environment. It is also not good for the wallet. That being said, I do not believe for even an instant that banning plastic straws, which comprise 0.025% of the 8,000,000 tons of plastic that end up in our oceans, will have the tiniest effect on climate change (please note that I am not defining climate change in any way. There is no consensus on exactly what it is, let alone what causes it).

With such concern about this environmental scourge, many cities are banning the use of plastic straws. The Trudeau government wishes to ban them for Canada as of 2021. Here in Toronto, Yorkdale Mall will commence its ban in October.

Let us clarify some numbers. As mentioned, straws comprise 0.025% of the 8,000,000 metric tons of plastic that ends up in our oceans. 8,000,000 x 0.025% = 8,000,000 x 0.00025 = 2000. 2000 metric tons of plastic straws get into our oceans each year. I agree. This is a problem.

Again though, we ignore the elephant in the room. A study from the US National Institute of Health (NIH) reports that 4.5 trillion cigarette butts find their way into the world's waters per year. That works out to approximately 765436 metric tons.

765436/2000...that means that the gross tonnage of cigarette butts in our oceans outweighs the gross tonnage of plastic straws by a factor of more than 380. And the number of poisons in those cigarette butts is also not easily discounted. Here is the link to the NIH study: There were too many poisons to list in this blog entry.

Henceforth, I will avoid the use of plastic straws. Is there perhaps one smoker out there who will avoid the use of cigarettes in return? Henceforth, I will avoid the use of plastic straws. In return, is there one politician willing to consider and react to the environmental lethality of tobacco?

Have a good day folks.


A Spicy Pun...

Top of the evening Ladies and Gentlemen...

Jennifer went to the market yesterday. Amongst other things, she restocked our spice cabinet. We were low on several things, so this was a good idea.

With the garlic powder, the onion powder, and the chili powder, there were three packets of thyme. We do not use a huge amount of it, but it certainly belongs in the cabinet. Still, I had to ask why so much.

Three thymes m'lady?

Well...I thought it was funny.

Good night.


Monday, July 15, 2019

How About a Little Perspective Here Folks...

Top of the afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen (and non-binaries)...

A few times over the last several weeks, we have received amber alerts on our phones in the middle of the night. On the off chance that you do not know, amber alerts are a new system to track down children who have gone missing. They are named after a young lady named Amber Hagerman. She was kidnapped and murdered in Texas in 1996.

Every time I hear of one, I listen. I check the details on line. The reason is simple. If God forbid something happened to one of my kids, I would want the entire world to know and to be on the lookout. It is the least I can do to return that favour.

Some folks are complaining about these alerts going off on their cell phones at all sorts of odd hours. With (little) respect, I am unimpressed. First of all, as mentioned, I want them to know about it in China, forget about around the province. Second, best chances of finding a kidnapped child are in the first 24 hours. Third, The search radius increases by the speed limit. That means that an hour after a child is reported missing, that child could be 60 kilometres or more away. That is a large circle to search, over 2700 square kilometres.

So for those who are complaining about phones ringing in the middle of the night, get over it. Alternatively, try something radical. There is no law anywhere that says that your phone must be turned on 24/7. I turn mine off at night. It is not a bad idea for all of you.

On an aside, besides amber alerts, there are also silver alerts. People suffering from dementia will often wander off, with no destination in mind and not necessarily on a straight path. I would have no issue being aroused from slumber for that either.

Good day folks...


Sunday, June 30, 2019

And Now for a Surprise...

Top of the evening to all.

And it is not just going to be a surprise to you. It is a surprise to me.

Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) is one of the candidates presently running for President of the United States. Of all of the Democrats out there, she comes across as the most intelligent, the most articulate, and the quickest on her feet. If she ends up as the candidate, the President will have a real fight on his hands.

As the Democrats go more and more off the deep end, she said something that has stuck with me for several weeks now. She believes in the decriminalization of prostitution.

And here is the surprise: I agree with her. (Hang on...let me finish...)

So many of the women involved in prostitution were once little girls. They had toys. They played with their friends. They went to school. Perhaps they planned their weddings in late-night hushed chats. Prostitution is not a lifestyle many of them even considered a possibility, let alone chose.

How does it come to pass? So many of those women who end up in prostitution have at some point been the victim of serious sexual violence. Still others have been trafficked around the world. They are slaves, in the worst possible way. Prostitution is not a choice. It is a life (if you can call it that) that has been thrust on them.

As survivors of sexual violence, as slaves, they are victims. There is no other crime in the world in which we punish the victim. We punish the perpetrators.

This crime should be no different. It should be punished not just for soliciting a prostitute, but also for attempted slavery.

My agreement with Senator Harris ends there. She states further: “(b)ut when you are talking about consenting adults, I think that you know, yes, we should really consider that we can’t criminalize consensual behavior as long as no one is being harmed."

Here is a very thorough study from the University of Chicago:

Sorry Senator, you are wrong. People are being harmed. Slaves do not consent. Survivors of violence often lose sight of who they are. And there is no way that being forced to engage in the most intimate of activities with multiple people multiple times in an evening will not cause both physical and psychological harm.

Leave these women alone. However, pimps and johns should absolutely be prosecuted, aggressively and emphatically. Theirs is the crime. Theirs should be the punishment.

Have a good evening everyone.


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Disconcerting, to Say the Least....

Top of the evening everyone.

I want to thank DK and SC for their comments on my last two blog entries.

After all is said and done, it is not a problem to be called a right-wing zealot. What is disconcerting? Disconcerting is that I held off on writing those last two entries for a considerable amount of time. Why? I held off because due to the pounding that too many people suffer these days for considering things that are on the public radar in light of things that are not on the public radar.

In short, I was afraid (yes, you read it here) of the possible public excoriation I might have to endure for daring to question absolute reproductive freedom (for women). And yes, I was also afraid of that excoriation for daring to think that tobacco might be more of a health hazard than firearms. Cowards die many times before their deaths.

And it is a shame. The standard we should all be taught is that we can disagree, but we still recognize each other as human, worthy of compassion and respect. The standard these days..."you are wrong. You have always been wrong. It is a shame your parents ever met. I am putting your personal information on line."

Both sets of comments on my last two entries have been informative. With respect to both writers, there is still a piece missing in the answers. I ask the following questions:

1. Do men have reproductive freedom? What are the limitations?
2. Is tobacco more of a societal problem than firearms?

My gut feeling on #2 is that tobacco very much is more of a societal problem. I am still feeling out my thoughts on #1. Part of the reason I am still feeling those thoughts out is due to the remarkably different burden of pregnancy and childbirth on the mother. My sore thumbs after Jesse was born do not measure up to that burden. Still, regarding #1, deciding what male reproductive freedom is and deciding what the limits are also force a discussion on men's roles in the reproductive process. It is a necessary discussion.

And to those who disagree with points raised either here or in any other entry, please state your disagreement. This is friendly space.

Have a good evening everyone. I promise not to wait so long on something potentially controversial.


Friday, June 7, 2019

Trying Not to Become a Right-Wing Zealot, Part 2...

Good evening again everyone.

With the passing of remarkably strict laws in the United States regarding abortion, we have seen quite the outcry from the left. Within that outcry, we have heard the term 'reproductive rights.' That is interesting. What does it mean.

According to Merriam-Webster, reproductive rights means "a woman's right to choose whether or not she will have a baby."

Wow! I try not to have the reaction I am having on this. Still, I will ask the question: do men have reproductive rights? Let's be careful with the answer on this.

I get it. I really get it. No matter how loving and utterly awesome a father-to-be is, the bottom line is that the mother's body is far more involved in the pregnancy than the father's. I really get it.

Still, I am left with a question. Does Merriam-Webster's definition of reproductive rights relegate men to the role of stud? Do fathers have a part in the discussions? Is it an equal part? Is it a part only as long as mothers allow it to be? Are fathers there for the first few minutes, and then expected to show up 40 weeks later with groceries and diapers?

Do fathers have reproductive rights?

Let's complicate this. Ultimately, we all know that this question is about abortion. Looking at Merriam-Webster's definition, anyone has the right to choose whether or not to bring children into this world, biological challenges notwithstanding. No one in society is making any attempt to remove that right.

This abortion question is difficult. Why? Putting aside other things that I have written about this, society has accepted that rape victims may wish to abort a pregnancy, and that the possibility should be there. So here is the question: if the rapist wishes to abort the pregnancy, but the victim does not, should the pregnancy be allowed to continue? Sure, why not. Gotcha. Look back over the question. I was very careful to avoid gender pronouns. What if the rape victim is a father who wants to keep his offspring? What if the rapist is a woman who does not wish to carry this pregnancy to term? Does a man forced into being a father have no paternal rights due to Merriam-Webster's reproductive rights?

Before you jump at me, take note of this article from Scientific American:

Read the third paragraph of the article. "Men were equally likely to experience non-consensual sex." It happens, and pregnancy happens as a result. There was even a case in the United States in which a judge went so far as to require a rape victim to pay child support to the rapist mother.

Bottom line? Less than two percent of abortions are about rape. Like abortions in the third trimester, the societal uproar over this is much ado about next to nothing. This blog entry though has been on my mind for a while. Again, I get it that women's bodies are far more involved in this endeavour. But it is simply wrong to limit discussions of reproductive rights to women.

My friends, I really would like some input from you on this entry and the last entry. I may end up pulling the entries down. I really do not know. As mentioned, something is missing in my reasoning. Help me figure out what it is.

Thank you all.


Thursday, June 6, 2019

Trying Not to Become a Right-Wing Zealot, Part 1...

Hi everyone...

It has been a difficult year. The reason it has been difficult is because I have been asking questions about a couple of societal concerns. I have concluded that I am either missing a piece of the equation, or I am losing some sense of compassion. Both prospects are frightening.

Your thoughts are most welcome. If I am missing something, please tell me. Please note that this is a smattering of different issues, considered in ways that may well be the equivalent of comparing not apples and oranges, but passionfruit and dingos.

So what has been on my mind lately? I am so glad that you asked. The first thing is the outcry against the prevalence of personal firearms in the United States. It has been declared a health crisis by some running for higher office. Others running for higher office are threatening to make it virtually impossible to acquire a weapon. Those in higher office seem reluctant to respond in any meaningful way.

In the United States, approximately 393 million firearms are personally owned. That is enough for every citizen to have one, and for 60 million people to have a second. That is a huge amount. With those guns, there were approximately 41000 deaths in 2016. Of those deaths, only a third were homicides. This is not insignificant. You should not interpret in any way that this is not a problem. It is. Furthermore, suicide and accidental death can be limited, if not prevented.

Furthermore, the hated NRA, scourge of the country, spent 10 million dollars in 2017 in pursuit of its nefarious goals. And last, gun companies took in over $28 billion of revenue last year.

Are they horrible people? Could be. Let's examine the next set of facts.

The American Lung Association reports that secondhand smoke causes over 41000 deaths a year. There is no safe exposure. Only 7300 of those deaths were from cancer. The rest were from things like heart attack and stroke. Thus far, things are equal.

249 billion cigarettes are sold each year in the United States. That averages out to two cigarettes per person per day. The tobacco lobby spent over 21 million dollars in pursuit of its nefarious goals. Total revenue for tobacco last year was 125 billion. Oh, and one of the biggest pollutants is cigarette butts.

When comparing these two, we have two powerful lobbying groups. The similarities end there. It seems that tobacco is the far more urgent problem. I have often thought about learning to shoot. It is a great skill to develop as we age, requiring focus, balance, and hand-eye coordination. I have never even given a hint of considering smoking. It is dangerous to me and to others.

The dynamics of society are such that we cannot say that if we solve one particular social challenge, everything else will fall into place. However, that automatically means that no one issue gets sole blame for being an intractable problem given voice by intractable people.

One note on mass shootings: there have been approximately 100 mass shootings in the United States. Of that number, men were the sole perpetrators of all but two. A couple did one of them, and a woman did one of them. Is it at all possible that instead of having a conversation about limiting access to weapons, maybe we should talk about men's mental health? And if we can do so without the APA's guidelines mentioned in an earlier blog, that would be even better.

I still have another issue I wish to discuss. This has been a long entry. The other issue will appear shortly.

Good night.


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Updated Cliche...

Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen...

I write this blog entry from sunny, warm Naval Air Station Pensacola. It was amazing to watch the Blue Angels practice yesterday.

For reasons that continue to elude me, I read the comments after many articles on the news. Between the horrible attitudes and the horrible grammar, that I keep going back to those comments suggests that I would also wiggle a loose tooth, even though it hurts.

Why do I mention this? I mention this because one of the articles I read this evening is about an interview with one of the Duggar family (look it up...I am not going to bother to explain). Jill Duggar recommends that for marital health, wives (I do not like that term) should prepare for and hopefully have sex with their husbands (don't like that term either) three to four times a week.

It is good advice. Gentlemen, while not in her article, the advice is similar for us.

Husband...wife...I do not like these terms. They are not exactly human. They are animal terms. I like spouse. As well, when realistic, it is worth it to make the effort to avoid gender-specific language. When I speak publicly, which I do from time to time, such language can shut out half of the congregation. Now, when our world is suddenly, strangely, no longer binary, it can exclude even more people.

It is rather odd to say this, given that the PC culture that has yielded such shifts in language is generally abhorrent to me.

Anyway, what is my point? One of the comments in this article is an old but true cliche: happy wife, happy life. It is true. However, I have seen the effects in a home where the husband is not such a happy camper. Trust me. That unhappiness does not end with him. It will have an impact on everyone.

And so, off the top of my head one morning after minyan a few months back, I corrected someone. Our new cliche is more accurate and less gender-focused. It is nice to know that the men of the house can now receive some priority.

Happy spouse, happy house.

Have a good evening everyone.


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

They Are All Wrong...Every Single One of Them...

Top of the evening folks.

Over the years, we have all been had to contend with whether we believe in Creation or Evolution. Of late, I think that I hold by Evolution. The reason is simple. Look at the level of political discourse that we have all been blessed to witness over the last several months. The only word that comes to mind devolution. If every action has an equal and opposite reaction, devolution must mean Evolution.

Why do I call it devolution? Because we are unable to see the humanity in those who would disagree with us. Rather than accept that those who are pro-abortion at any point in a pregnancy have real concerns about the health of a mother, we hear that women are being denied reproductive freedom. Rather than accept that those who are against all abortion have genuine concerns about all life, including the mother and including life that has not yet seen the light of day, we hear that we are back in medieval times.

They are all wrong...every single one of them.

Why are they all wrong? They are all wrong because when we go to the extremes, when we talk about abortion in those latter months, we must realize that those abortions are 1.5% of the total number of abortions. I am going to put a thought out there to ponder. If such abortions, those that take place in the last trimester, are such a tiny number, it stands to reason that the mothers (and the fathers) are not being cavalier about it. This is a tragedy. This does not end with dinner and dancing to celebrate. This ends with tears, heartbreak, and shattered dreams. Those on the right need to realize that anyone who carries a pregnancy that far is most likely committed to that pregnancy. Something serious got in the way. Those on the left need to realize that the word 'choice' dehumanizes everyone. That fetus is not a choice. It is a potential life, or maybe even a life. It is not a coin toss.

So I have an interesting idea. Let's leave those late-term abortions out of the discussion. Abortions in the third trimester must be legal. Given that they are so rare, and given that such abortions are probably never simple decisions, I see little point in building a law around such extremities. Instead, let us come together and help a family through this, if by no other means then letting that family know that they will not become a cudgel for one side or the other. Let us help a grieving family while holding a hand and crying with them. Surely we can all do that.

Where the grey areas in the law might be found is in those first six months. I do not have the answers here. But I am willing to listen to people who might disagree with me. Maybe we can all learn from each other.

Go to sleep.


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Political Temper Tantrums...

Good evening to all.

I have just about reached my wit's end. I have also hesitated to write this blog entry. I have every expectation of receiving some sharply-worded responses to it.

What is on my mind this evening? On my mind this evening is the political temper tantrum emanating from Capitol Hill in the United States. This will be a difficult blog entry to write. The reason is that it could lead one to the conclusion that I either like or dislike certain people in Washington DC. While that is in fact the case, my politics are not the question here. I will continue to keep those thoughts personal.

For the record, President Obama got the following things right during his time in office:

1. He wore the office with dignity.
2. He made health care an indelible part of the national discourse.
3. Israel was a far stronger nation during after his tenure than it was before. While he made some serious mistakes in this regard, he got a great deal right also.

For the record, President Trump has thus far gotten the following right during his tenure:

1. The Koreas are talking to each other.
2. While clumsily, he is forcing a national conversation on how to handle borders.
3. ISIS no longer controls territory.

If you are unable to point to three things that either president got right, then you are frankly reacting with only emotion. Neither President Obama nor President Trump got everything wrong.

For the record, those who voted for Secretary Clinton were concerned about the following:

1. Environment and climate change.
2. Abortion rights.
3. Gun control.

For the record, those who voted for President Trump were concerned about the following:

1. Overextending abortion rights.
2. Their jobs.
3. Lower taxes.

You may agree or disagree with the concerns expressed by either side. If you are unwilling to consider those concerns as valid, it is no longer about POTUS. It is an utter lack of sensitivity to the concerns of others.

To the points at hand...

I am at a loss as to why the House wants the President's tax returns. Absent some compelling legislative issue, it seems out of their jurisdiction. Becoming the President does not mean that personal and business privacy are suddenly forfeit.

Bob Mueller concluded emphatically that there was no collusion. With a report that is less than 1% redacted, the House needs to let it go. It is illegal for the AG to put people who are named in the report and not guilty of anything in any sort of legal or personal jeopardy.

The President is responsible for the violence in San Diego. Really? Does this mean that President Obama was responsible for the shooting in Orlando or at Fort Hood? President Trump was not yet on the political map.

The Democrats seem to be after the President for anything they can conjure. Whether that statement is true is irrelevant. It is my perception, and very possibly the perception of others. It seems petulant. I want nothing to do with it. If this is all that they have to throw at the President, the Democrats may well find themselves losing big and ugly come 2020. I for one have no wish for their political temper tantrum to continue.

Good night everyone.


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Bleeding Hearts...

Good afternoon to all...

In the comments section of my last blog entry, someone asked if I intended to condemn the shooting in New Zealand, or if my compassion extended only as far as the Jewish community.

With respect, here is my answer.

The shooting in New Zealand happened very close to Shabbat. The result of that is that I spoke about it from the bimah without notes. If there is concern about my lack of words here in the blog, please check with my congregants who were there last Shabbat morning. Unlike Pittsburgh, when there was a week to prepare a sermon, this was very short notice. That there is nothing written does not mean there is nothing said.

Furthermore, I imagine that the prayer rugs in the mosques were damaged. With that concern in mind, Rav Jen and I ordered two prayer rugs to be sent to one of the mosques in New Zealand. At my urging, my congregation sent two more to the other mosque that was attacked. This was a three-day endeavour that involved late hours due to the time differences.

On Friday, I will be part of a group of people standing outside a mosque up Jane St near King City. Sadly, we have all come to learn about what is called a Ring of Peace. The Muslim community in Oslo formed one outside the main synagogue back in 2015 after a synagogue shooting in Copenhagen. Since then, the Jewish community did the same after the Quebec City shooting (and I took part). The Muslim community did the same for us after Pittsburgh. We do this to make the statement that the right to pray in peace is also a community obligation to make sure that we can in fact all do that. Please contact me at my office e-mail if you would like to join in.

The above two paragraphs are not in my blog simply because it feels like bragging.

So to the person who asked the question, no, my compassion is not limited. As well, and with great respect, we have also seen entirely too many times over the last couple of years in which newspapers have had to retract stories for failure to check all of the relevant facts. I am not perfect. No one is. Please ask first what I have done or failed to do before it becomes necessary to walk back comments.

Wishing everyone a Simchat Purim.


Monday, March 4, 2019

"Because it's 2015!"

Good evening everyone.

I have mentioned several times in this blog that my medium child once asked me if our senses grow dull as we age. I said that they do, with the exception of my sense of irony, which seems to grow more acute every day.

Speaking of irony, we are witness this week to a great deal of it. In November 2015, newly-minted PM Justin Trudeau introduced his cabinet. He made a point of noting that the cabinet was 50/50 men and women. When asked about it, his response was "because it's 2015."

It is a worthwhile debate as to whether a cabinet should be an equal split. One can make the case that it is the right way to do it, as women should be equally represented in government. One can make the case that gender is irrelevant. The most qualified people should be in government. They are responsible for the lives of millions. One can make the case that to be truly representative, there should be more women, as there is a slightly larger proportion of women in society.

Mr. Trudeau has brandished his feminist leanings and ideology on more than one occasion. This stance makes the spectacle taking place on Parliament Hill sadly ironic to watch. His government is in the middle of a major scandal right now. This scandal is connected to some questionable behaviour on the part of a large company with its headquarters in Quebec. The questionable behaviour became a legal case. The Justice Minister/Attorney General refused to yield to the Prime Minister's pressure on it. She resigned from the cabinet. The former AG testified on Parliament Hill last week, she was devastatingly brilliant and articulate.

Today, another woman resigned from his cabinet.

Irony....the ardently feminist PM is in charge of a government very much in turmoil due to two of the women in his cabinet calling his behaviour into question.

It is sad, but gosh the irony is rich.

Have a good evening.


Monday, February 4, 2019

Unpopular Me....

Top of the evening everyone.....

Over the last week, we have been privileged to see the APA's Practice Guidelines for Boys and Men.  These are from August, 2018.  The point is to guide psychologists in their practice for male patients.

Please note that I might not be so popular after writing what I am about to write.

I have glanced through the practice guidelines.  We can all see what is there.  Let us explore what is not there.

1.  The guidelines raise concerns about language.  Below is a quotation: 

"Normative male interpersonal behavior can, but does not always, involve an absence of strong affect, muted emotional displays, and minimal use of expressive language, making it difficult for primary care physicians and other health professionals to determine when men are actually experiencing depressive disorders."

I want to focus on expressive language.  When my kids were babies, I was often out with them in the stroller.  If nothing else, my kids heard a running narrative about where we were, what direction we were pointed, the bus going by, or whatever else was happening.  There was no way that there would have been a phone in my hand, with me reading the news or texting away.  Babies are alone with their parents these days.  How is it possible to develop expressive language when no one talks to you at the time you are supposed to learn language?  Why do the Guidelines not mention this?

2.  As long as we are dealing with language, the development of text-speak cannot be helpful.  UR GR8 (you are great) is not actual language.  

3.  The Guidelines mention nothing about social media.  Social media is a danger zone for cyber-bullying, both as a victim and as a perpetrator.  

4.  My iPad is kind enough to tell me how much screen time I take each week.  Screen time is an issue.  From Psychology Today:

"as a practitioner, I observe that many of the children I see suffer from sensory overload, lack of restorative sleep, and a hyperaroused nervous system, regardless of diagnosis—what I call electronic screen syndrome. These children are impulsive, moody, and can’t pay attention—"  

For the Guidelines to mention ADHD and fail to mention screen time neglects a known cause of the issue presented. 

5.  Yahoo reports that in 2018, 50% of Canadian web searches were for pornography.  The following is from Guideline #3:

Thus, male privilege often comes with a cost in the form of adherence to sexist ideologies designed to maintain male power that also restrict men’s ability to function adaptively.

If half of Canadian web searches are connected to porn, and if porn is related to power, why does pornography not receive any attention in the Guidelines from the APA?

*And on an aside, it is highly unlikely that only men searched for pornography.

6.  We must also consider that the issues might not be connected only to how men define masculinity.  It might be connected to women as well?  Really?  Well....let us examine some titles of articles.  "9 Steamy Shower Sex Positions that Actually Work," "13 Stupidly-Satisfying Things All Women Want in Bed," "5 Wild Sex Positions to Spice Up Even the Most Boring Bedroom" - these three articles are a small sampling of the titles in Cosmopolitan, a magazine that labels itself as "the best-selling young women's magazine in the U.S., a bible for fun, fearless females that reaches more than 17 million readers a month."  It is always at the supermarket checkout.  There is always an article about "ways to blow his mind" or something like that on the front cover of every edition.  GQ, a magazine for men, has nothing like this.  With due respect to all, it is simply not possible for men to see Cosmo time and again and not be affected by it.  It should be impossible for the APA to consider how men view sex without considering how a popular women's magazine portrays it.  I would likely have little problem with my sons reading GQ, certainly in its current form.  There is something in every edition of Cosmo that I do not want my sons or my daughter to see, and it is usually on the cover.

Most of what I have written also affects women.  The APA is remarkably disingenuous and sexist to both men and women in putting out these guidelines, stating that they will be updated in 10 years, but not doing the same for women.  The guidelines for women are now 12 years old.  They were supposed to expire in 2015.  Where are the new guidelines?

My friends, it is possible that men have all matter of problems.  For the APA to put these Guidelines and to lead practitioners away from some crucial concepts that have an impact on much of what is presented therein is not a recipe for therapeutic success.

Have a good evening.