The Bow-Tied Blogger

The life and adventures of one soldier and his various journeys.

  Thursday, June 28, 2007

Time for a Two-fer book review

Today I review two books: Choosing a Jewish Life: A Handbook for People Converting to Judaism and for Their Family and Friends (Paperback) and Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All of Its Moods (P.S.) (Paperback)

Now, these books are very different. Antia Diamant talks about how one converts to Judaism as the wife of a Jew by choice, she has a certain insight. Michael Wex offers a fun book about Yiddish, a fun language that has loads of insults :)

Both aspects are important in being religious. To choose a faith, you need to make a plan and know the rules, but you also have to have fun and joke with Hashem (joking with Elokim may prove risky). Yiddish is also a language of Ashkenazic Jews, like my wonderful Sara (or Suri as her name is pronounced in Yiddish).

Both books have very different goals, but both are informative and worth the read.

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  Saturday, June 16, 2007

Time for Book Review!!!

Now, I have been slacking on my reviews, but today's book is Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and the shortest summary I can give is: wow!

This is a truly remarkable woman. She was born in Somalia to a basically feudal culture, but one that made an attempt at modernization and failed. She describes her ordeals and traveling through various nations and the Islamic indoctrination she received, as well as her ability to overcome it and to flee to the Netherlands to escape an arranged marriage.

Once in the Netherlands as a refugee, she has the strength to avoid the trap of the welfare state and get a job, as well as go to College and even get elected to Parliament. Unfortunately, she has some mishaps along the way, as she loses a friend and her citizenship, but she does not yield to the pressure as she moves to the United States and joins a think tank.

Her tale is still told as she speaks and will not be silenced. And since she speaks at risk to herself, I heavily encourage you to listen. I feel that I put on a uniform and risk my life for defenders of liberty like Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She understands being an American far more than Michael Moore, Noam Chomksy, or Jimmy Carter ever could.

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  Thursday, June 14, 2007

What is the greatest gift to man? Is it his ability to reason, the sole factor that distinguishes him (human) from animal? Or is it his intellect, allowing him to conquer all that exists around him? Some say life in itself is a gift, but many would beg to differ. Especially when the giver 'will take' that 'gift' back from you whenever HE chooses. A child may receive a gift on his birthday, but if he has no appreciation or desire for the gift, the purpose of 'giving' is defeated. Is it truly a gift if we never wanted it in the first place?

Is it the lessons we learn through our hardships, trials, and tribulations? I doubt it, for a lesson is merely an awareness that previously did not exist, and the ignorance it killed could be viewed as 'spoiling the fun'. History also says otherwise, showing men repeat the same hardships, trials, and tribulations over and over and over.

Is it a certain event/circumstance that we encounter in life, whether it be positive or negative? In the latter, some events are like bruises that put a swelling on the soul for a short period of time and eventually disappear. Others are like scars in which the pain may minimize over time, but the mark it leaves on you will be visible to the soul forever. And if the former occurs after the soul has already been scarred, does it really even matter?

Is the gift to discover the purpose of life? What is the purpose? To which many say Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc.. Yet those same people cannot agree on one consensus for the purpose of each of those faiths! Is the purpose of religion to guide or abide?

Is it the gift of companionship from the rest of humanity (men and women)? In a world that spits on you when you are at your lowest level and reaches out to you when you are most high - intellect, reason, and this particular stance should tell you the overall nature of man is cowardice, and you're ability to 'identify' this distinguishes you from the likes of many them. Dealings with them should be perceived as tolerance, not as a gift.

The qualities I see that are needed to make something a gift are the following:

Faith - Faith is key! When man loses faith, he is a living mind walking with a dead soul. Faith goes hand in hand with hope. Man's faith alone can get him to the next world; but when another soul has faith in him, it will help him get through this world.

Forgiveness - Forgiveness is 'key'! When man comes to the realization that he is just that, man, he realizes that perfection died in the days of the prophets and he must be able to rebound from his mistakes. Forgiveness from the Almighty will help him rebound for the next world, but forgiveness from a fellow soul will help him rebound in this world.

Respect - Respect is 'key'! It is a natural desire within man to be respected by the rest of mankind. Disrespect can cause man to lose his reasonable ways of thinking and stray towards more animalistic ways of dealing with others. When one is respected, it allows the true nature of his soul to reflect, as the gatekeeper of his soul, anger, steps down.

Acceptance - Acceptance is 'key'! Societies have man made standards that approve/disapprove, label, and stereotype individuals into perceptions that prevent those that are different from the majority to be perceived as better or equal to the majority. Man should know his Lord and Creator will accept him as he is, but acceptance in this world based on individuality rather than affiliation is unlikely. For one to be accepted for who he truly is also allows the soul to reflect its true nature as the other gatekeeper of the soul, hate, steps down.

Unconditional love - Unconditional love is 'key'! To love based on actions towards an individual is the norm. And we all know people, circumstances, and actions change. So with this, the love changes. To love unconditionally is eternal, regardless of changes in circumstances, individuality, or actions. Our creator loves us unconditionally, yet the worldly love is truly conditional. To receive unconditional love in this world is a true gift to the soul.

Loyalty - Loyalty is 'key'! Loyalty goes hand in hand with trust. When man is unswerving in allegiance and faithful to those he considers true to himself, that is loyalty! This is a true characteristic of a real man, and to receive it in return is a true gift to his soul.

All these characteristics should be combined to work together - like chemicals in black seed oil - to bring about happiness, peace, and mental well being. Integrating all these things together, creating an output of well being would be nearly impossible to get in this horrific world we live in. However, I have learned that all of this does exist, and I have been blessed with it throughout my life. Understanding this has brought peace to my mind and has eased off the anger and hatred that exists within my soul.

I was long overdue for a post here, so surprise! Here it is.


  Sunday, June 10, 2007

My project is complete!! Now, most of you are wondering what the Hell I am talking about. Well, it is a project inspired by the daily parsha portions and Psalms readings done by Chabad. Now, I decided to break down the Prophetic and Writing books of the Tanach (sans Psalms which is already in a good order) by chapter and verse so they can be read over the course of a year, starting with Rosh Hashana, but excluding the leap month of Adar I.

Now, for daily portions of Torah and Psalms, click here. The rest is on an excel spreadsheet that I will email to interested parties, but I don't know how to upload it, myself.

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  Sunday, June 03, 2007

Today is World Capitalism Day.

What is that, you ask?

Most simply put, it is a day to celebrate capitalism :)

In fact, the Celebrate Capitalism website discusses various ways to celebrate capitalism, including learning just what capitalism is, and that it's not just for the rich.

In one part is a study of seven philosophers that are credited for capitalism, first being Aristotle, but also Adam Smith, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Ayn Rand, Frederic Bastiat, and Ludwig von Mises, an interesting mix of philosophers, economists, and a statesman.

The PRODOS Institute also offers information on celebrating capitalism, along with their flag, SARA.

In other news, I can offer a book review to go along with today:

The Early Ayn Rand: Revised Edition: A Selection From Her Unpublished Fiction

This book is special to me not just for who wrote it, but who gave it to me. For those of you who read a past post, I am in a relationship with Sara with no H, and she introduced herself to me by giving me this book. Little did I know how she felt about me fully, but I only wished I started chatting with her sooner, as her paypal has her email address, but I am not always as good at doing the obvious. This book I will treasure just because she gave it to me <3

Now, the stories inside are also interesting. They show a trend in Ayn Rand's writing from the late 20s to the late 30s. Her first one is about a woman who ends a marriage and lives by herself in seclusion, which is pretty radical a concept in the 20s. The second one is about a reporter who kidnaps a debutante to make it into a story only to have a real gangster take over, but the kidnapped girl outsmarts everyone involved.

The next ones involve her story We the Living, including an excerpt and a love triangle that is later refashioned in We the Living. In addition to two plays is a story that is similar to The Fountainhead in characters as well as the latter stories which are parts of the Fountainhead that wound up on the cutting room floor.

Overall, this is an excellent book if you like Ayn Rand's writing,a s it gives insight into her evolution as a writer and it's fun to read the "director's cut" of The Fountainhead :)

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