Monday, July 30, 2007

On the abortion debate

The video below asks a simple question and reveals that the single-mindedness of some anti-abortion activists (these in Libertyville, IL) has prevented them from thinking beyond their immediate goals and considering the implications of their platform.

They demand that abortion be instituted an illegal act. The reporter asks them what should the penalty be for a woman who has an abortion under such a legal prohibition.

CAUTION: Visible in the video briefly are graphic pictures of aborted fetuses.

Well, the submitter of the video requested that embedding in blog posts be disabled, so here's a link.

Friday, July 27, 2007

I thought this only happened in email forwards...

So my university's IT people are upgrading some marginally important who-knows-what and had to shut down some systems to do it for a few days. One of these systems allows off-campus access to library databases, which I need to continue moving forward with my master's thesis and get articles for class, etc.

To accommodate people like me, they said we could ask for a temporary login and password that would permit off-campus access. I sent an email requesting these and got this reply:

Hello. The best way to obtain a password for remote access is to contact the computer service desk in S_____ Hall. The number is 3768. They may not be able to help today but they can on Monday. The computer systems are expected to be down until Monday.
I dunno, what do you call this? Technoratic idiocy? Institutional oblivion?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Location Location Location

A few weeks ago, my brother helped me install air conditioner support brackets to appease the landlord, who apparently didn't know (or didn't care to let me know) that it's a moot endeavor.

For a while, I've heard chirping from outside our kitchen window. We couldn't see where it was coming from because the AC unit blocked the view, but I thought a bird had built its nest on our sill. Indeed, when we removed the monstrous AC from the window, we found a bird's nest on the original wooden AC support. It was a struggle to extricate the AC from the nest from the support, but we managed to preserve the nest and its eggs (save for one unfortunate egg that was cracked). We installed the new AC support and gingerly placed the nest, eggs and all back on the windowsill (it had previously been on the wooden support, so it took more maneuvering to make sure it was steady) and put the AC back in the window.

Job well done!

Except for that one egg we missed, still on the kitchen floor. It was late and we were tired, so we had omelettes. Just kidding- we took out the AC unit, which is HEAVY, and put the egg back in the nest.

A few people told me that if you touch a hatchling in the nest, its parents will not return. I don't know the veracity of this phenomenon, but I wondered whether it applied to the eggs as well. A few days later, though, I heard chirping again, unmistakably adult. Score one for ornithology!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Sephardic Pirate (or, Oy Vey, Matey!)

I was at a sheva brachot a few months ago and the chattan's grandfather fascinated me with stories about the Jewish pirate, Jean Lafitte. I'm going to leave you to explore this one on your own and won't expound on it other than to provide some food for thought: How did Lafitte's family history in the Inquisition influence his dealings with the Spain?

P.S. I know the title is incorrect- Sephardim would say Wai Wai, but cut me some slack.