Thursday, September 29, 2005

Role Models Gone Bad = Bad Role Models

Remember when Brandy Chastain after winning some soccer game took off her shirt in celebration and attracted criticism the world over? Well, now it's Kate Moss' turn to see the ugly side of being famous.

Now, let's get this straight: I don't think ripping your shirt off in celebration is a very good idea and I don't think snorting cocaine is a good idea. But I think what's interesting is that we as the public feel a need to condemn these people.

Partially, it's because these people are the ones in the public limelight; sure you could criticize some random druggie, but where would that get you? But underlying all the criticism is the fact that these are the people we look up to in society. These famous people - the athletes and the models - are our role models, so these are the people that have to do the right thing.

What's wrong with society, though, is not that our role models have gone bad, it's that we've picked the wrong role models. Why aren't our role models the smart people, the people who have gone out and changed the world, the people who are after more than fame and fortune?

Our role models should be people who deserve our respect. Surely some of them go off the deep end too, but picking the right role models might still be the a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I'm a Philosophy Major - I Can Think Deep Thoughts About Being Unemployed

"Perhaps, indeed, like Prince Hamlet, we are born to set things right, but we do that, or try to do it, by making arguments, not by summoning up armies."

I'm a political theory major, which means I'm one of the few who care to philosophize about politics - to study what should be as opposed to what is.

This opens me up for a lot of criticism by the more cynical of people. And maybe I am just a crazy liberal, but I think we all do ourselves injustice if we insist that the cynic is the one who sees the world for what it is.

Can we in fact set things right by making arguments? I don't know, but I do know that we will never set things right by summoning up armies. We can never have a better world if we refuse to dream it. The world won't change if we don't think it can.

The world might not be all rainbows and sunshine, but the cynic is not the one who sees it as such, he is the one who makes it so.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

Seriously, why do things like this happen? I mean, the foster system is so badly in need of repair, but you'd think somebody would notice that a child was dead for 11 months.

I have no words of blogger wisdom to offer in any of this, it's just so unbelievable and so sad. And it points to a system that is failing the children it was set up to protect, and that is a really big problem, a problem that should be fixed well before we start arguing about less consequential things or shoving blame. It shouldn't take the untimely deaths of children to urge us to reform the social services system.

And Eli7 is going to go into family law and make it all better, right?

[I will now step off my soapbox.]

Sunday, September 25, 2005

A Kvetch and a Slightly Early Shana Tova Card

Thoughts are a very dangerous thing. Thinking can make you crazy. You know when you have one of those moments when a billion thoughts are swirling through your head and you can't actually pinpoint any thought, so you don't even know what you're thinking, so you can't even figure out yourself how you feel?

Yeah, that's about how I feel right now: Yom Tov is coming and I hardly feel ready to beg God to give me a new year of life, a happy, sweet new year, to forgive me my sins from this past year. School is, well, school and I love it but am innundated with work and reading and hate the pressure. And I find myself running from internship to exctracurricular to class and back again in a dizzying trajectory of motion that even I cannot figure out. And I'm confused about everything and I don't know what I want or what I think or what I feel.

And this was a good day...

May Hashem bless us all with a happy new year filled with bracha and hatzlacha and all things good. (Well, at least I'm on top of things in the Shana Tova card department ;)

Garbage and Mold and Yuck, Oh My!

Voicemail message from a friend: It's not healthy to study all the time, you're going to start growing mold.

Which made me think of some other mold which once grew on the ceiling of a certain dira in seminary. Which made me think about how much I love all of my friends, and how strange it is that mold can remind me of them.

(Although, when my father was a child, he used to take out the garbage, and my grandmother once told him, "when I see you, I think of garbage." So, I guess this weird obsession with the people we love and yucky things runs in the family. I'm not sure that's a good thing.)

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Eli7's Deep - and Shallow - Thoughts

What I've been thinking about recently - nothing too earth-shattering...

Be careful what you say, you don't know who around you those words might affect.

Sometimes it's nicer to be surrounded by four people who you really like than by 20 people who you barely know.

Four hours of sleep is not enough.

Granola bars are not pre-wrapped meals.

Do what's right, not what makes you feel good, contrary to popular belief, those are not the same thing.

There is something wrong with a guy who wears a yarmulka dating a non-Jew.

Never underestimate the power of hearing "I love you" from a three-year-old.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, and Hummmm

Ok, so anyone who knows about Columbia's Core Curriculum, knows that we take a lot of "hums" - Lit Hum, Music Hum, Art Hum. The hum merely stands for humanities and it's basically become Columbia speak.

So, when I saw a link to this Web site - World Hum - I got really excited, convinced that the author must be a Columbia grad. Instead, the site explains the name like this:

"As for the name, “World Hum” is a phrase from Don DeLillo’s novel “The Names,” and it describes the rush we feel when we travel: a surge of adrenaline, electricity, glee and, sometimes, on this ever-shrinking planet, connection."

Ahh well. Not everyone can hum.

Monday, September 19, 2005

A Vapid Snot and Proud of It

So, I'm being bashed here for my post here. Well this whiny little idiot or vapid snot (take your pick) will not be intimidated, thank you very much.

All the News That's Fit to Print - But Only If You Pay

Ok, so despite the fact that Eli7 has far better things to do right now (like find a good topic for a human rights paper, any suggestions?), can we just take a moment out of the day to condemn the Times for their introduction of Times Select.

Though I still have access to the Times in paper and online (from a datatbase without pretty layout) through Columbia, everyone does not have these opportunities (which probably has something to do with the fact that everyone does not have a yearly tuition bill of $42,000), and the great thing about the Times online was that everybody could have access to the superior information in the paper of record.

And freedom of information is what allows people to become better informed, more active participants in society. The thought was that everyone cannot afford a subscription to the NY Times, but everyone deserves the information therein.

After all, isn't the way to rise above your class to have access to information? And if you don't have access to information because you can't afford it aren't you always stuck in a place where you won't be able to afford that information?

In The Times' defense, they are not limiting all their valuable information. They seem mostly to be limiting their op-ed columns, which some would say good riddance to anyway, but I think this decision was a poor choice that shows a commitment to profit over a value for what the newspaper produces, and I think that's a shame.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Eight Letters, Four Syllables, and Lots of Pride

Lady: Hi. What's your name?
Me: Elisheva
Lady: What was that?
Me: Elisheva
Lady: But what do people call you?
Me: Umm, Elisheva
Lady: But don't you have a shorter name?
Me: Noooo
Lady: But your name is so long!

Since when was eight letters and four syllables so long, lady?

That said, I love my name. And I love it even more in a secular setting where it's rare and unusual and slightly exotic. I like it because it automatically identifies me as Jewish and that's something I'm proud of, I like it because it makes me different.

I have spent a lot of time over the past two years trying to teach people how to pronounce my name - it's not that hard, people - but I really do love it, still.

At some point over the summer the concept of flipping out and changing to one's Hebrew name came up on my blog. I have no idea whether I would have at any point started going by my Hebrew name if I were Elizabeth to the world from birth. I think it's a really hard thing to do.

To re-identify yourself is a really brave thing. And maybe that's the point - just the re-identification, the acknowledgement that one is different is the motivation behind it.

But is it a bad thing to go by one's English name? I don't think so either. I think people choose to show their priorities in different ways, but that is not indicative of what their priorities are. Some of the holiest, shtarkest people I know go by their English names, and I know plenty of people who go by their Hebrew names who don't let what that means resonate.

Either way, I love my name because it reminds me every time someone uses it that I am a frum Jew and that that is my priority and that it is something I am proud of, something I do not feel a need to hide. It must mean so much more to the people who choose to use their Hebrew names later in life.

Roberts Banks on Good Looks, Not Past Decisions

A NY Times article reports that "Court Nominee Says Early Career Is No Guide." So, should the Senate affirm Roberts because of his boyish good looks? I mean, if his past decisions are no guide to what he will do in office, then what is?

(Disclaimer: this is what one would call sarcastic. I do understand what the judge was truly saying, and though Roberts is probably not who I'd nominate were I president - hey, I really like Judge Judy - I do think he should be affirmed.)

Curious George Is Jewish

Well, his authors were, at least. I think everyone should add the cute little monkey to their list of very cool Jewish people. (I found this while looking for a picture of Curious George, it's pretty funny.)

Monday, September 12, 2005

Let the Liberal University Brainwashing Begin

In a class I took freshman year here we read some studies that said that not only are universities bastions of liberalism but that they actually make their students more liberal.

Somewhere along the road between the bad housing and cafeteria food of the first year of college and the palatial dorms with kitchens of the senior year, there is a shift in values toward the left. Between required courses and major declaration and study abroad, the college student magically loses any conservative ideals he once had and becomes more liberal.

Well, I came into Columbia liberal, and I'm not sure whether I've changed politically or if I could quantify that change, but I just realized that I am taking a combination of very, very liberal classes this semester - music, writing, human rights, humanitarian intervention, First Amendment.

So, if I end this semester as a long-haired hippie, you'll know those studies were true, and college does in fact turn normally sound-minded people into raving liberal lunatics.

Let the brainwashing begin ;)

Just a Lil Note to Let You Know I'm Alive

I know I've been blog delinquent lately, so this is just a note to let y'all know I'm alive and will return soon.

Starting school has been just a little stressful and I haven't had time to think of anything really interesting to post. So unless you want this blog to turn into "Travails of Eli7 in Music Hum and Chinese Politics," I figured I might wait till I'm settled into school.

But the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter, and hopefully I will finalize my class schedule today, and I will return to enlightening you with my brilliant posts.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Be Enlightened in Class, not at a Bar

I've said this before and I'll say it again: I love college and I am deeply appreciative of many of the opppurunities it has afforded me. Being surrounded by drunk and drinking people, however, is not one of those oppurtunities that I savor. (Let's just say, last night was slightly traumatic.)

But I really don't get what people see in alcohol, and in being drunk. I mean, do people enjoy losing control and being confused and doing stupid things? Maybe I'm alone on this, but I actually like to know what I'm doing and to be in control of my own situation.

Somebody once tried to convince me that drugs were great because they allowed him to see everything on a deeper level, to understand more. I just don't buy the "enlightenment theory" on drugs and alcohol. If you want to be enlightened, go to class sober and learn something. Isn't that what you're here for anyway?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Dreaming of an iPod - Someday

Ok, I admit it, I've been living in the stone age. I do not own an iPod.

Now, all that was going to change today when I was going to buy one for myself cuz it's about time. I had my heart set on the iPod mini, but today Steve Jobs introduced the mini's replacement - the iPod nano. Now, I don't want the nano, I want the mini, but now I want to wait to see if the mini goes on sale since it's being phased out. So, no iPod for Eli7 yet.

(Sorry, this post had no purpose - it was just a kvetch, but hey, it's my blog and I can do what I want to.)

Astronomical Costs of Higher Education

Books are expensive. Very, very expensive.

My general strategy is to buy the books I need right away from the bookstore and use or Columbia's own version (Dogears) to buy the rest. Today I spent almost $200 on three books for two classes. They are not all the books for those classes either. And I'm taking three other classes too!! (Would that I knew which three other classes I'm taking.)

If you want to talk about how college is so expensive, how people cannot afford to raise themselves up and succeed. How the American Dream is unreachable. How the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. How hard it is to get a solid education. Well, then I suggest you start the discussion with the fact that I just spent close to $100 on a Constitutional Law textbook.

But seriously, thank God I can afford to buy my ridiculously expensive books and I try to save money where I can and I try to sell to others what I can, but not everyone has $500 lying around to spend on books every semester. (Which is not to say I just have $500 lying around either.)

Don't you think there is something wrong with the fact that every aspect of a good education costs an astronomical amount of money?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Happy First Day of School

Me: When do you start school?
My lil sis: (In a somewhat grumpy voice,) On Thursday.
Me: Oh, I start on Tuesday. Who's excited for school?
My lil sis: Well, you are.

School has officially begun. I have had my first cup of coffee and my first class (both of which were excellent), I have waved hello to good 'ol Alma Mater and unpacked most of my stuff, my walls are mostly decorated and my schedule (though tentative) is printed out. I look forward to an awesome semester of learning and education and all things good. Yay for school! (Ok, so I'm a lil weird that way...)

Monday, September 05, 2005

Short on Space and Sanity

What I have learned while moving into my dorm:

Things I have a lot of:
Flip flops
Junk food

Things I do not have a lot of:

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Eli7's Last Supper and Beautiful Harlem Dorm

My Dad: What do you want for your last supper? I mean, the last real meal you have before you move into your dorm... (Where I will be eating noodles and veggie burgers for an entire year.)

Packing is the bane of my existence. I'm moving into my dorm tomorrow and am about half packed. There is food and clothing and bedding and furniture all over my house which need to get to my dorm room on Harlem, ahem, Morningside Heights, and if my mother doesn't kill me for leaving stuff all over the place before tomorrow morning, it will miraculously - through the sweat and blood of my brother, mostly - be transplanted into my lovely dorm room.

Wish me luck, I'll need it.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Anyone Up for a Shiva Call for the Chief Justice?

Otherwise known as my father has a weird way of breaking important news to me.

My Dad: I just wanted to know if you were going to pay a shiva call?
Me: (a little panicked) Why? Who died?
My Dad: Rhenquist
Me: (in one of my more profound moments) Oh! Really?

And a second later upon realizing what that means politically, I added some choice words for our current president and the current political situation. Ahh well, I s'pose we all knew it was coming despite denial.

Baruch dayan emet.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Top 10 Yiddishisms

In William Safire's On Language column this week, he listed the top 10 Yiddishims in the English language:


An interestting list to be sure ... and interesting transliteration as well. Though, there really is no right way to spell Yiddish words in English. (I'm not even sure if there's a right way of spelling them to begin with.) But I can think of a few that should be on that list but aren't. Any suggestions?

I Won't Vote for Republican Relatives, I Won't!

My Republican sister: One day I want to run for public office.
Me: Well, if you do I'm not voting for you. You're a Republican.
My Republican Sister: HEY!
Me: Sorry, I don't vote for Republicans. Even ones who are related to me.

Good Grammar, Bad Political Ideology

Judge Roberts may not be a liberal's dream for Supreme Court Justice, but at least he knows his grammar. Now that's a relief. I can tolerate Conservatives (heck, most of my best friends are Republicans), but I cannot tolerate someone with bad grammar.

I guess you can only ask so much from a Supreme Court nominee, right? And good grammar is far more important than political ideology in my book.