Better Than Sex?

Brooke & Erin 2-6

Stephen Hawking, when asked during a lecture in Arizona at the Origins Project about the special joys of scientific discovery:

“I wouldn’t compare it to sex,” he said in his computerized voice, “but it lasts longer.” The audience roared.

The rest of the article and interview with Hawking is moderately interesting, not so much for what he says but for the fact that he says anything at all.  (Hawking is one of the longest ALS — Lou Gehrig’s Disease — survivors in the world.)


“We’re Sorry, Sort Of” Department

Regarding the doctored photo published by the orthodox Jewish newspaper that Photoshopped out Hillary Clinton, reader Dave sent in the following, posted by the newspaper:


The White House released a picture showing the President following “live” events of the apprehension of Osama Bin Laden, last week Sunday. Also present in the Situation Room were various high-ranking government and military officials including Secretary of State, the honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton and another female participant.

Our photo editor realizing the significance of this historic moment, published the picture, but in his haste, did not read the “fine print” that accompanied the picture, forbidding any changes and published a picture omitting the female participants in the room.

Because we wanted to honor the President and our armed forces for the historic significance of the moment, we opted to publish the photo, but without the women included, as is our long standing editorial policy. As a fact, Secretary of State Clinton WAS mentioned prominently in the main write-up of the Situation Room, right after President Obama.

Our editorial policies are guided by a Rabbinical Board and because of laws of modesty, does not allow for the publishing of photos of women. The readership of the Tzeitung believe that women should be appreciated for who they are and what they do, not for what they look like, and the Jewish laws of modesty are an expression of respect for women, not the opposite.

The allegations by some, that Orthodox Judaism denigrates women or do not respect women in public office,is a malicious slander and libel. The Jewish religion does not allow for discrimination based or gender, race, etc.

The current Secretary of State, the Honorable Hillary R. Clinton, was for eight years, a Senator representing New York State with great distinction. She won overwhelming majorities in the Orthodox Jewish communities in her initial campaign in ’00, and when she was re-elected in ’06 it was because the religious community, among others, appreciated her unique capabilities, talents and compassion for all.

We respect all government officials. We even have special prayers for the welfare of our Government and the government leaders.

In retrospect, we apologize for any misunderstanding that this might have caused. We should not have published the altered picture, and we have conveyed our regrets and apologies to the White House and to the State Department.

Yeah, I guess orthodox Judaism does not denigrate its own women, because they are used to it and have been since they were born.  Sorry, guys, that just doesn’t cut it for me.  (I’m biting my tongue and forbearing:  further affiant sayeth not.)


While We’re On the Subject … Department

… of religions and their oddities, the President of Peru has declared that the dead, not forgotten and now beatified John Paul II should receive credit for bin Laden’s death as the latest of his miracles.

And, oh yeah, then there’s this:

Well, I know where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing on May 21, and May 22, and May 23, and it won’t be worrying about the Rapture.


Two From the Backyard Department

They are two minor stories, and at least one of them has a sense of the absurd about it (I’ll let you guess which), but here are, in turn, the YouTube account by a 17-year-old vidiographer arrested merely for pointing a video camera at a small-town cop (you can take what the videographer says with whatever sized grain of salt you wish, but nothing excuses the cop’s behavior — absolutely nothing; North Dakota is a one-party consent state),

and then this account of a photograph taken in downtown Minneapolis and a typically clueless rentacop reaction: “Photographer hassled at Minneapolis Fed.”  No escalation or legal implications in the second, but for the first, the citizens of Wahpeton, ND, (just across the border from Minnesota) may get to pay some damages.


Sharia Panic Department

Good summary entry on the ACLU blog regarding the Oklahoma anti-Sharia initiative I first reported on here.  Especially disturbing are the number of individuals and organizations identified by the ACLU as involved in anti-Sharia mania.  The bottom line is that the ACLU and other plaintiffs are now seeking affirmation from the 11th Circuit of the District Court decision ruling the Oklahoma amendment unconstitutional.


Papers, Please! Department

Later this week Utah’s new anti-immigration law goes into effect, unless blocked by a court decision.  Here’s how the ACLU blog put it:

Imagine: your family takes a road trip to Zion National Park in Utah. You’re only an hour away and didn’t notice the speed limit was reduced to 65mph. You see the flashing lights of a police cruiser and realize your mistake. Embarrassed, but not concerned, you’ll explain to the officer you’re from out of town and hope the ticket doesn’t cost too much.

The officer approaches the car to collect your license and registration. As you wait with your family, you realize the officer has been in his car for an unusual amount of time. Finally, he comes over and says something about your license not being adequate proof of your immigration status and asks if you’re a citizen of the United States. “Born and raised,” you reply, this being the first time you’ve been asked that question by a policeman. Something about your response, or the way you look, or perhaps your license picture from 20 years ago when you had brown hair instead of gray, makes the officer tell you he has to run some checks on your ID – “standard procedure.” You start to protest, baffled at what you’ve possibly done wrong, as you wait on the side of the road to see what might happen next.

The ACLU blog explains just how draconian the law is, and if you see disturbing parallels to the Gestapo or the Stasi, you won’t be the first:

By imposing complex authorizations and mandates on law enforcement officers to demand documentation reflecting immigration status from individuals they stop, detain, or arrest, H.B. 497 creates an unprecedented burden upon every individual in Utah, citizens and non-citizens alike. During a stop, a person must be able to produce one of four types of identity documents to be presumed lawfully present in the country. However, even if an individual has a qualifying document proving his or her citizenship, an officer may use his or her own discretion to question the validity of an ID and even take a person down to the station for an investigation into the person’s citizenship status. If an individual cannot produce a qualifying identity document, law enforcement officers are authorized, and in many cases required, to detain the individual and attempt to verify his or her immigration status.

The four acceptable forms of identification?

  1. A valid Utah drivers license issued on or after January 10, 2010;
  2. Another special kind of Utah identification;
  3. A valid tribal enrollment card or other valid form of tribal membership identification that includes photo identification; or
  4. a valid identification document that (i) includes a photo or biometric identifier of the holder of the document; and (ii) is issued by a federal, state, or local governmental agency that requires proof or verification of legal presence in the United States as a condition of issuance of the document.

However, as mentioned in the blog, the officer can still use his own discretion.  So, a recommendation when traveling through Utah:  if stopped, overcome your temptation to use your best “Boris and Natasha” or “José Jiménez” accent.

The ACLU does not want our country to become a place where “show me your papers” is a common police call and racial profiling is sanctioned under the law. That is why last week we filed a class action law suit and preliminary injunction challenging H.B. 497. Today, the first hearing in the case to block the law will take place in Salt Lake City. ….  Unless we plan to live in a society where the police can ask us to “show our papers” at any moment, we must not open the door to welcome the sort of police power and disregard for individual rights that laws like Utah’s H.B. 497 would bring.



Coming to a Guthrie Near You Department

We received our Guthrie season ticket renewals yesterday.  Some new season’s offerings look to be real treats, including Much Ado About Nothing, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (that will make Dr. L envious), Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys, and a musical stage adaptation of the movie Roman Holiday, with music and lyrics by Cole Porter.  The latter will be lacking Gregory Peck and the delightful, then-ingénue Audrey Hepburn, but it should be delightful.


Eat! Department

A local chef, Isaac Becker, has been named Midwest Best Chef by the James Beard Foundation.  We’ve not yet visited Becker’s restaurant, 112 Eatery, but it’s now certainly on our list.  It’s the third consecutive year a Minneapolis chef has been chosen for the award, the other two being Tim McKee (of La Belle Vie, top of our own “favorites” list) and Alex Roberts (of Restaurant Alma, also among our favorites).  Perhaps chefs of our other two current favorites — Heidi’s and Piccolo — will garner awards in years to come.  I certainly think they would deserve it.


From that memorable afternoon.

This entry was posted in Civil Liberties, Food, Wine, Cooking & Restaurants, Religion, Uncategorized, War on Photography and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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