Ethics of Star Wars

I was watching Empire Strikes Back the other day, and something one of the characters said struck me. Chewie is choking Lando, who’s trying to gasp out “Han! There’s still a chance to save Han!” Chewie finally lets him go, and off they go, running to save Han. While Lando crouches, trying to recover, Threepio (who is half assembled, and strapped onto Chewie’s back) shouts out “Don’t blame him! After all, he’s only a wookie!”

Only a wookie? It struck me as a little racist. Or, more accurately, speciesict. Who’s to say one species of aliens is preferred over another? Let’s say, for example, all the Star Wars characters were stranded on a desert island somewhere. Would it be wrong for them to kill Chewbacca and eat him? What makes him different than, say, a cow. How do people who live in a multi-species universe decide which ones are “people,” which ones are “food,” and which ones are lesser species; not food, but “only a wookie.” Even Luke used to bulls eye womp-rats in his T-16 back home. Why isn’t that murder?

Running for Her Life

There have been alot of videos floating around YouTube about the Katyusha attacks on Haifa and other cities in the north. Most of them are videos people took while looking out of their windows; you hear a siren, a bang, and sometimes see a pillar of smoke. This one is different, and I think the most powerful.

Katyusha’s Clear Song

Apple trees and pears were in blossom
On the river hung the morning mist
Young Katyusha stepped up on the high bank,
Of the river steep bank in the mist.

On the bank Katyusha started singing
Of a proud grey eagle of the steppe,
Of the one Katyusha loved so deeply,
Of the one whose letters she has kept

Oh, you song, you bright song of a maiden
Fly you by the sun, fly like a bird
To the soldier on faraway border
From Katyusha bring a greeting word.

Let him think of simple native maiden,
Let him hear Katyusha’s clear song
He will guard the land of dear homeland
And their love Katyusha will keep strong.

Apple trees and pears were in blossom
On the river hung the morning mist
Young Katyusha stepped up on the high bank,
Of the river steep bank in the mist

This song was written in 1938, and first sung by Lidiya Ruslanova for Russian soldiers on the front. Try listening to it; it sounds a lot like the old Israeli folk songs. It’s about a young girl, Catharine, nicknamed Katyusha. The song became so popular with the Russian soldiers who fought World War Two, that the Russians named their new missile (which had actually been around since 1936) the Katyusha. All Russian rocket artillery from then on carried the same nickname, including the ones we’re facing in Lebanon now.

Reading the English translation of the song, I really picture it not as a love song, but as an actual song about a missile. It really conjures up images – at least in my mind – of rockets flying through the air with “Fly you by the sun, fly like a bird To the soldier on the faraway border,” and of rockets screaming down with “Katyusha’s clear song.” It’s very prophetic, or I guess that’s just what the Russians had in mind when they named their rockets after this song.

Crappy Post

Hi! Miss me? I haven’t had internet in a while. I moved to Jerusalem, started a job, and have generally been very busy. I only just got internet in this apartment a few days ago. I even considered leaving that last post up as my last one, and closing down the blog. But… I decided against it. So here I am again, blogging better than usual! Well, maybe not better than usual, because this one kind of sucked, and it’s about to end. I’ll have a better one up in a few days, I promise.

To All Who Don’t Understand

When is the right time to make aliya? I guess you could say I’m paying for my decision to make aliya early. Already, I have friends who I thought I was leaving behind coming to make aliya. They’re mostly all better off than me, and have started with their lives. Most of my friends from high school (the 20% who aren’t in kollel), have one or two degrees, stable jobs, in some cases great jobs, houses, wives and children. I’m still in university, and will be for the better part of the next two years. And that’s just for a bachelor degree.

Needless to say, had I waited to make aliya, things would definitely be easier. In fact, I think that any person considering aliya, looking at his or her present situation, will always find evidence for pushing off aliya by another year or two (or ten). I don’t think there’s any stage in life where it wouldn’t be beneficial to wait. If you’re just out of high school, then it’s definitely advantageous to get a degree first. Making aliya with a degree is a whole new world over making one without, and roughing it in an Israeli university. If you already have a degree, why not wait until you have an MA, or an MBA? Israeli companies salivate over the prospect of an American MBA, and there’s always the option of telecommuting for an American company, an option much more feasible with a US degree. If you have an MA or an MBA, why not wait a couple of years to build up a nest egg? You can make more in a year in America than you can save in five in Israel. You might also want to get married in America. Why risk the Israeli singles scene? The American singles scene is something you understand, or even enjoy. What compares to the Upper West Side? Certainly not Katemon. On the UWS you can find a mate who compliments your American background, and who wants to make Aliya. After all, she told you so on the first date! You put together a five year plan, to save up money. Now you’re comfortable in Queens, you’re making money, you’re saving money, and you realize you can even start having kids and still save money. So why not? Have a kid or two.

At this point you’re thirty-two and you’ve got two kids. Maybe you’ve got another one on the way. Do you really think you’re still making aliya? (I mean, maybe you are. But you’re in the minority. Let’s not delude ourselves here.) To your horror (or perhaps bemused acknowledgement) everything you’ve accumulated in preparation for aliya has become an anchor to life in America. You love your job. You love your community. You love your wife, who’s beginning to have second thoughts about relocating. You love your kids, and you don’t relish the thought of them having to start school over in another language. You played all your cards right, and looked at the situation rationally at each and every stage, and decided every time that even though you definitely want to make aliya, it would simply be irresponsible to do so at this stage in your life, and you need another year or two of prep. And you were right every time! So where did you go wrong?

I’ll tell you were you went wrong. You went wrong because you simply want to make aliya. You don’t need to. It doesn’t hurt to stay in America. It doesn’t pain you when the plane takes off at the end of your yearly vacation in Israel. Living in America doesn’t make you feel like a fish out of water. And I don’t mean “fish out of water,” in the general, uneasy-feeling like you don’t belong sense. I mean the actual gasping for breath, dying because you’re in a hostile environment sense. If you did, you wouldn’t stay for a degree, you wouldn’t stay for money, and you wouldn’t even stay for love. After all, a fish can only love another fish. He doesn’t belong with the mammals. He doesn’t need to rationalize jumping back in the water. He simply has to, and damn the consequences.

Capital of Poland Before 1600

Looking for the answer? Read on…

I can’t curl my left fist into the gun shape. You know, the pointer finger extended outward, the thumb up? And every time you “shoot,” you push down the thumb even though that isn’t at all the way a gun shoots? So yeah, that. I can’t do it. I haven’t been able to do it, for as long as I can remember. For some reason, whenever I try, my pinkie finger sticks out, at a ninety degree angle from my hand. Just straight out there, as if without a care in the world. It looks stupid. (My right hand can do it with no problems). If I force the finger down, I can sort of wedge it under the ring finger and have it stay down, but I can’t accomplish it without manual assistance form the other hand.

I can’t think of any possible consequence this may have on my life.

SPECIAL NOTE – I notice that many people reach this post by way of google, because they’re looking for what the capital of poland in 1600 was. You must be dissapointed reaching this page and not getting the answer, so I’ll help you out – The capital of Poland until 1600 was Krakow, and the joke in Calvin and Hobbes is that Suzie asks Calvin during a test, Calvin clearly doesn’t know the answer, but is engrossed in a daydream and accidentally gives her the right answer. This post is about my inability to make the gun gestures that Calvin makes in that strip. Case closed. As thanks, you can click my ads, or buy this great complete collection of Calvin and Hobbes – a must for any fan.

Marlon Brando and Lag Ba’omer

A few years ago, I made a bet with a friend of mine over how long Marlon Brando was going to live. My friend said he wasn’t going to last out the year, and I had faith in the Godfather’s health. Brando lived, I won, and the twenty shekel was mine. I got greedy, though, and we went double or nothing for the next year. Sure enough, a couple of months before the end, good old Marlon kicked the bucket, and I lost my hard-earned twenty shekel.

I saw this friend again at a wedding tonight, and we decided to make another bet. This time the subject is me (though thankfully, not in death). I bet him that I could be engaged within a year, and he took that bet without hesitation (actually, his reaction was something like “a year? I’ll take that bet for any period of time…”). His faith in me was somewhat underwhelming. So here I am, without a girlfriend or even prospects on the horizon, with 364 days to go until next year, Lag Ba’omer. Wish me luck.

In other Menachem-related betting news, me and David are still neck and neck in our ongoing 50 shekel Omer-with-a-bracha bet.