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Archive for January, 2009

giant infatable rat

Friday, January 30th, 2009 by Ari

What is the world is this? (Seen on google maps by the corner of Pennsylvania and 27th).

Update: added a screenshot



Thursday, January 29th, 2009 by Ari



  1. Lacking social or economic distinctions of class: a classless society.
  2. Belonging to no particular social or economic class.
  3. Rod Blagojevich

Some people know when to quit. Some people don’t. When this whole fiasco blew up in his face, Blagojevich didn’t want to step down politely – he decided to fight it. Fine, if you think you have a chance at redemption, you should try to defend yourself. Except he didn’t. He refused to  present a defense, instead opting for the “outsider just wants to throw bombs and claim the system is biased against him” defense. Wonderful. That really shows us you’re innocent doesn’t it? This is the catch-all defense. Any person can use it at any time as a measure of last resort. Since Blagojevich had no other defense, I guess it was his first resort. Then there’s the sudden talk show circuit blitz where he tried to garner sympathy from the rest of the country. Except it didn’t work. Maybe people suspected him of slight hubris when he tried to compare himself to Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, and Martin Luther King. (Speaking of which, can we reanimate Ghandi’s corpse to go b****-slap him for that comment?) When pressed on how he was being taken out of context, all he could do was apologize for his use of foul language, and mention that he didn’t curse in front of women. (Waddaya know – he’s a pig too). That’s not what you’re being charged with! Having no better way to exonerate himself, his last resort was to beg. Except he managed to do it while still sounding like a pompous ass. (Seriously – don’t people know how to apologize anymore? Try saying “I’m sorry”). Then, after being impeached, removed from office, and barred from future office, he offers up this little gem:

“I’m not looking for any pity,” he told a large crowd of reporters, friendly neighbors and at least one heckler. “I’ll be just fine.”

Don’t worry Mr. Blagojevich – I don’t think you’ll be getting any.

best breakup line ever

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 by Ari

My new diversion of the day (thanks to the New York Times), is Dating a Banker Anonymous (or DABA for short). It’s a blog where spoiled rich New York women can complain about how the economy is affecting them through their banker-guy boyfriends, or FBF for short. In order to save you time reading the blog if you don’t want, let’s just say that I’m not calling the women unabashed gold diggers, I’m just saying that many of them have no desire to be involved with someone making less then 6 figures a year. There are many funny posts and anecdotes, but this is by far my favorite. A woman recounts how she was dumped by her ex-FBF.

“Princess, we need to talk. How do I explain this? You are a costly investment. During better economic times, I was happy to spend a little extra to buy American, but now we are all being forced to make tough decisions and, well, bottom line: I can quite literally get more bang for my buck if I invest with a foreign model instead. Do you understand what I’m trying to tell you?”

And that my fellow DABA girls is more or less how my girlfriend services were outsourced to an underage Russian model who was willing to provide services substantially equivalent to my own but at well-below market value and without the regulatory hassle.

That is, simply put, the funniest breakup story I’ve ever heard.

1800 year old action figure found

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 by Ari

an 1800 year old figurine, (sorry, it’s not a figurine, it’s an action figure), has been found in ir David.


Monday, January 26th, 2009 by Ari

I recently closed my Bank of America checking account. This is the first (and until recently only) checking account I’d ever had. I opened it in 1999 when I moved to St. Louis, and according to my records, my first check was check 300. I currently have check 612 on the top of my checkbook, which means I’ve written 312 checks over the course of 10 years. I have the feeling I’ll probably be writing even fewer checks over the next ten years.

Robert Byrd

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009 by Ari

Robert Byrd

Originally uploaded by bachrach44

I found this (but didn’t buy it) at a used book sale. It’s a record (yes, real vinyl), released by US senator Robert Byrd of his fiddle music. Apparently, Byrd was quite the fiddler, and he released this album in the 1970s.

house flipping

Friday, January 16th, 2009 by Ari

I thought the word was out already that people shouldn’t bother trying to flip houses given the current economic conditions, and yet, someone appears to be trying to. this house was purchased in November 2008 for $427,000. Now it’s selling for $449,000, and it’s been on the market more than 30 days, which means the owner had it for about a month before deciding to relist it. In related news, the house across the street from it is also for sale, which only drives down the price of both houses. The house flipper can’t be happy about that.

Obama and Spider man

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009 by Ari

In the name of full disclosure, an admission is necessary. When I applied for a scholarship to go to grad school, I mentioned in my essay that I wanted to be spider man. When I did the phone interview one of the professors started off the interview by saying “so you’re the guy who wanted to be spider-man, eh?” Apparently it worked though, because I got in. It turns out a certain president elect feels similarly.

During an Entertainment Weekly pop culture survey, Obama said Batman and Spider-Man were his top superheroes because of their “inner turmoil.”

Obama once collected Spider-Man comics. [Said Marvel editor in chief Joe Quesada] “Fantastic! We have a comic-book geek in the White House.”

So just how much of a comic book geek is he? They ain’t saying:

The White House transition team did not respond to a question about the extent of Obama’s comic-book geekiness.

Marvel though has decided to take this story and run with it – the special Obama/Spider-Man crossover is out today and the lines are long. There are two comic shops on 123 which I pass on my way home. I’m hoping one of them still has it in stock by the time I get out of work today. If they are I may just have to turn to ebay. (Seriously – I’m an Obama fanboy, a Spider-man fanboy, and I collect political paraphernalia – how could I not get this?)

update: I tried 2 comic stores in Vienna, 2 in Georgetown, 1 in DuPont, and 1 in McLean. I was absolutely sure that the ones in Vienna, being away from an urban area and in a red state would still have them in stock when I called at 4:30PM. No such luck. Most stores were sold out around 1PM. (Argghhhh – why didn’t I go during my lunch break?!?). Copies on ebay are selling for obscene prices. At this point I’m going to wait for the second printing – that should drive down the prices of the first printing by increasing the supply. If the price for the first edition remains absurdly high, then I’ll just have to make do with the second.

Sudden revelation of the evening

Monday, January 12th, 2009 by Ari

This idea hasn’t been completely thought through to its logical conclusion, so feel free to critique if you find it lacking.

Judaism does not really have a Satan1, which is to say that there is no evil force which opposes god. Instead we have the yetzer hatov and the yetzer harah – the good and evil inclinations which are present in all of us. Fundamentally we believe that god created everything – both the good and the evil.2 This is the reason that we are required to bless god both for the good and the bad. Christianity on the other hand has a very clearly defined Satan who functions as an independent force which is opposed to god.3 Since Judaism believes that god is the one source for all forces in the universe, evil had to stem from god too. Jewish theology would seem to oppose any force in the universe that was greater than, equal to, or not originating from god.

Why did Christianity redefine evil as stemming from an independent force rather than stemming from god? Perhaps the reason is that Christianity was trying to humanize god. (For obvious reasons). Christianity has a god that more people can relate to4. A more human god means a god which can be opposed, just as a human being can. In this case it means that (depending on your point of view) either god has been demoted to the same level as evil, or evil has been promoted to the same level as god, in order to make god more approachable by humans.

1 – Someone is going to bring up Iyov (Job in English) to show that there is a Satan. I’ll admit that Iyov would seem to throw a monkey wrench in my initial premise, but I think it’s evident that the theology of evil presented in Iyov is in a great minority when it comes to the biblical and post biblical literature. The talmud in fact (Bava Batra 15a) questions whether or not Iyov was actually a real person or just an allegory, a view which is supported by the Rambam. Whether or not it is literal, Satan has not developed as an independent force in Jewish thought. The majority of the talmudic literature which discusses bad occurrences refers to them as an occurrence of god and not Satan. Further, Satan, even in Iyov, does not appear capable of independent action without the permission of god. (See the Jewish Encyclopedia article for more).

2 – As a side note, the talmud goes so far to prove this point (very likely as a guard against dualism), that one who repeats the word modim (we thank you) twice during prayer is assumed to be a heretic and removed from the synagogue.

3 – I’m no expert on the NT, but the Jewish Encyclopedia tells me that Satan even tried to seduce Jesus/god. The idea that Satan could override or even corrupt god (even if he didn’t succeed) should show how different the two views are.

4 – http://www.jesusismyhomeboy.com/

Something nice about the opposition

Monday, January 12th, 2009 by Ari

I’m not the first person to point out that coming into the NFL playoffs this year, the field was wide open – much more so than in recent years. Almost any team in the playoffs had a good argument for why it would go all the way, and the favorites were not as heavily favored as they sometimes are. Even with that being said, I don’t think anyone predicted the Eagles and the Cardinals would be playing each other in the NFC championship game. The Cardinals being a weak pass-only team I think this will be an ideal matchup for the Eagles, and seems very much like a rematch of the 2001 NFC championship game. (The Eagles vs. a Kurt Warner led pass-only team with a good offense and poor defense).

I could go on of course, but if you wanted sports analysis you’d be reading ESPN. I have felt for a long time that Kurt Warner is one of the best role models and best people in professional sports. I lived in St. Louis from 1999-2003, when Warner was playing for the Rams. In 1999 the whole country loved him because his story was too good to be true. He was a former college QB who had been out of football and was working as a stockboy in an Iowa grocery store. One day he gets a call from a coach offering him the chance to be a backup. He accepts, and in training camp the starter breaks his ankle. Warner steps into the starting role for a team that had been 3-13 the year before and leads them to a super bowl while earning himself an MVP and super bowl MVP honors. If you wrote that in a movie script, people would dismiss it as unrealistic. Through it all Warner was humble, kind, and decent. He performed countless hours of community service, and set an exemplary model of both on the field and off the field behavior. Once the honeymoon period wore off he started taking heat- he was labeled a bible-thumper for his deeply religious convictions (he is a born again Christian, and repeatedly thanks god after a win). When his wife was shown on TV, the next week sports talk radio mentioned that she was “ugly”. You know what I say – good for him. I’m glad he isn’t a standard pompous athlete who thinks he is the greatest gift to mankind ever and marries a former playboy bunny. So what if he always thanks Jesus after a win – isn’t it nice to see an athlete who realizes he is not the highest power in the universe? In the Warner household, the Warner children are asked what color their guests eyes are – it’s how the parents ensure their children make eye contact. When they eat out at restaurants, they pick one other family to randomly and anonymously buy dinner for. Warner is a father of six children, he helps others, and most importantly, he has his priorities straight. He realizes football is not the ultimate goal in life, that there are larger and more important things out there (like family and religion). In today’s world, where perfection and complete dedication is demanded and expected of athletes who have done nothing other than play their sport for their entire lives, it’s nice to see one who understands the larger picture. While their are many other athletes who have many admirable traits, Warner is one of the few who I would actually want my children looking up to as a role model. I have the feeling he’ll retire soon (he is closing in on 40), and I will always remember him as one of the greatest men of his generation to play the game. This coming Sunday, he’s going down.

One more note – the Cardinals have Stephen Spach, (pronounced like Spock), who I blogged about once before when he was on the Eagles.

Books – half off

Sunday, January 11th, 2009 by Ari

As an update to my previous post, it looks like the guy has dropped his price to $500. Now is anyone interested?

Are you my mommy

Friday, January 9th, 2009 by Ari

There’s a boy who is in daycare with Aliza. He’s just starting to use words, and he calls me mommy.