Saturday, March 31, 2007

Happy Birthday Rene Descartes

He was born 411 years ago on March 31, 1596. He stopped thinking on February 11, 1650.

There are a number of unthinking politicians (and their supporters) who seem to disprove his statement "Cogito ergo sum" (I think therefore I am) -- but that's another discussion entirely.

Go to his page to get the 411 on his impact on Philosophy and Math, including some good links to much more info.

Catching a Subcontinental Drift

This week's dining experience took us to Viceroy of India on Devon right here in Rogers Park. Maynard Krasne and I walked to the restaurant from our East Rogers Park stomping grounds, and there's no better way to see the diversity of our neighborhood than by strolling its streets and byways.

Viceroy of India Restaurant
I've been to a number of restaurants on Devon, but never to this particular establishment. It was a pretty typical lunch buffet, where for around $8 you can get a good sampling of Indian cuisine, try new dishes, and learn what you do and don't like.

Indian buffet sampling On this day, the entrees included Bhindi Masala (Okra sauteed with tomatoes and onions), Chana Masala (Chickpeas), Saag Paneer (Cottage Cheese cubes in creamed spinach), Butter Chicken (chicken on the bone in creamy tomato sauce), and Lamb Curry. The buffet also included three different types of appetizers (mixed vegetable pakoras and samosas), two kinds of Basmati Rice, and dessert (definitely try the mango ice cream). You also get Nan (Indian bread) and an order of Tandoori Chicken, which we polished off pretty quickly.

tandoori chicken I was most partial to the Bhindi Masala, Tandoori Chicken, and Saag Paneer. The food could have been spicier for my taste, but that's usually the case when dealing with buffet style dining. And that's why it's good to follow up with a future visit where you can put your new culinary knowledge to good use by ordering off the menu.

Francis Scudellari and Maynard Krasne dining at Viceroy of India Viceroy of India is located at 2518 W. Devon Ave (773.262.8787). Other very good Indian restaurants I've tried in the area are: Tiffin (2536 W Devon Ave - 773.338.2143) and Indian Garden (2546 W Devon Ave - 773.338.2929). Thanks as always to Tom Mannis for the photographs.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Happy Birthday Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh was born this day in 1853.

Learn more about Van Gogh on
See a virtual gallery of his works

Questioning Loyalty

The media and blogs are throwing the word "Treason" around now that Congress voted to impose a deadline for withdrawal from Iraq. Here's a recent, amusingly over-the-top article from the New York Post:


March 29, 2007 -- After the vote in the House of Representatives to pull the troops out of Iraq, can there be any doubt that the Democratic Party is the party of treason, surrender and retreat ("Nancy's Veto Bait," Editorial, March 24)?

According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats, betrayal of the troops is what the American people wanted.

People who voted Democratic wanted betrayal, and they got it. Now they have to live with it.

Read the full article
The rhetoric set me off to musing about treason, betrayal, and the meaning of loyalty.

First, I think it's important to remember that our country was actually founded through an act of treason -- in the eyes of Great Britain, we're a country of traitors. Take a look at some of the words that kick-started our revolution:

... whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the
Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

(Read the article on it for a lot more info)

The allegation of Treason and the questioning of loyalty is often made by those in power who have just lost some of it or are feeling their privileged position threatened.

Loyalty is a two-way street, and it should only be freely given to those who have earned our respect and proven they have our best interests at heart. To remain loyal to a government, religion, family member or friend who has lost your trust is self-defeating and foolish. It's the kind of blind allegiance one might expect of a dog, not a human being.

So, ask yourself what it is exactly you owe a goverment that has made a point to deny responsibility for your well being -- by cutting every social service put in place during the New Deal, by gutting environmental regulations, by undermining our Constitution and the protections against abuses of our liberties. Is that a government that has your "Safety and Happiness" at heart? It might not yet have met the standard of a "long train of abuses" to start a revolution, but it's certainly done enough to merit getting voted out.

Krzysztof Kieslowski's Double Life of Veronique

I finally watched The Double Life of Veronique, a Krzysztof Kieslowski film released in 1990 that I'd been meaning to see for quite some time.

It's a hauntingly beautiful film from the spiritually resonant musical score by Zbigniew Preisner to the ethereal lighting of cinematographer Slawomir Idziak.

The film is filled with images that will stick with me for a long time. As described in the commentary that accompanies the DVD, the film truly is a visual poem. In shots as simple as a teabag dancing in a glass of water to the more complicated compositions of a crowd swarming a stage, the film is filled with memorable moments.

I don't want to over-analyze the story, but thematically the film doesn't stray from Kieslowski's other works such as the Decalogue or Three Colors: Blue, White, Red. What struck me personally was the treatment of the human yearning for connection and meaning.

The story in simplest form is that of two women with twin souls, born on the same day to different mothers in different countries. They have similar experiences and intuit the existence of their counterpart. The Polish Veronica dies tragically young, and this creates an emptiness in the French Veronique that she feels deeply but can't explain to herself or those around her. It's a void that she tries to fill via romantic love, unsuccessfully if I interpret the ending correctly.

It does what every great film should -- leaves you with many questions, and touches you in ways you can't explain, just like Veronique.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Today in History: Final US Withdrawal from Vietnam

I learned from that on March 29, 1973 the last US soldiers withdrew from Vietnam ending our country's involvement in the war. They also have a lot of information on the war from a number of different sources (click here to read through it).

Coincidentally, perhaps, another withdrawal is in the news these days: the eventual withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

Here are two recent articles from the New York Times:

Senate Passes War-Spending Bill With Iraq Deadline
By David Stout

WASHINGTON, March 29 — The Senate narrowly approved a war-spending bill today that calls for most American combat troops to be out of Iraq by March 31, 2008, and in so doing defied a veto threat by President Bush.

The 51-to-47 vote endorsed a $122 billion spending package, most of which would go to the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns, although some domestic spending is included.

Read full article

Democrats Are Building on Unity Over Iraq Pullout
By Robin Toner

WASHINGTON, March 28 — No one has seemed more surprised by the Democrats’ success in pushing an exit strategy for Iraq than the Democrats.

Their aggressiveness and unity on a major foreign-policy challenge to the president is a striking change for a party that has, on many occasions over many years, seemed to be on the defensive on national security issues.

Read full article
I know it gets under certain conservative folks' collective skin to compare Iraq to Vietnam in any way, and that comparison didn't serve John Kerry very well in 2004, but there's a pretty obvious historical lesson that George Bush and his followers with ideologically impaired vision need to grasp: All wars come to an end, troops eventually need to come home, and when they do come home they need to be treated with the respect and gratitude that their service merits.

The Bushies have taken to villifying their opponents as traitors and perpetrators of treason for trying to impose a deadline for withdrawal. They should get a better grasp of the concept of Representative Democracy. Popular will against this war was expressed pretty clearly last November, but our self-appointed Dictator George ("L'Etat C'est Moi") believes that he answers only to God, so he has refused to engage any discussion of withdrawal. In fact, he's pushing for a troop escalation.

It might help their cause with the American people if Bush et al explained exactly why we are still in Iraq. They've given quite a few different explanations for their military adventurism, and the story tends to change as the specific illogic gets exposed.

If their record so far in supporting the troops who have come home from the war is an indicator, they're the ones who have betrayed the soldiers (see 'It Is Just Not Walter Reed' from the Washington Post). In addition to the lives it's taking and devastating through scars both physical and mental, the war is costing our country billions of dollars that could be better spent on the needs of Americans here at home. Obstinacy in continuing to decimate the nation's treasury and the lives of our citizens (not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed in our name to date) under false pretenses is the true treason.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Favorite Song of the Day (3.28.2007)

Unconventional Cup by Outlaw Family Band

Take a drink from the unconventional cup
Take a walk on the rougher side of town
Take the hand of the woman by your side
You're tired but it's time to take a stand

Stand up tall, you owe it to yourself
You must be strong, if you're ever to survive
Take some pride in being who you are
You're tired but it's time to take a stand

I have walked down a dark and dusty road
To this place, I've wandered here alone
And I am weary, I feel worn out to the bone
I'm tired but it's time to take a stand

Against the wind, against the rough and windy storm
Against the fire, and the smile the devil wore
Against the world, and the evil being born
I'm tired but it's time to take a stand

Welcome Death, he is your truest friend
And his depths, we cannot comprehend
Life is fragile, like a candle in the wind
If it don't blow out it'll burn up in the end

So take a drink from the unconventional cup
Take a walk on the rougher side of town
Take the hand of the woman by your side
You're tired but it's time to take a stand

Posthumous faith healing

While perusing headlines on Google News today, I found this curiosity courtesy of

Nun Claims Miracle By John Paul II

A French nun told Vatican officials she credited a miracle shortly after the death of Pope John Paul II for the cure of her Parkinson's disease.

The nun, whose name was not released, said her disease disappeared exactly two months after the death of the Roman Catholic leader, ANSA, the Italian news agency, reported Wednesday.

"I woke up at 4:30 in the morning, amazed that I had been able to sleep. I jumped straight out of bed, because my body was no longer rigid and painful. I was not the same as before," she said.

The alleged miracle would help John Paul on the road to sainthood. To qualify for the process, a candidate must be shown to have been responsible for two miracles after death.

Vatican officials are expected to inspect details and doctors' reports on the woman's condition.
I didn't realize the act of dying by a "saint" could precipitate miracles. If they deem it an actual miracle, you have to ask yourself, couldn't he have been more considerate and died sooner?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Fettered innovation: the more things change ...

My friend Agnes Varnum has a very interesting post on the Re:Sources blog today: More on Copyright: Protecting Innovation. She talks about Fair Use, and the corporate abuse of copyright law to squelch innovative media and technology. She links to the following Business Week article:

FAIR USE: Protecting Innovation
As lawsuits targeting new technologies in TV and music multiply, an industry executive supports a House bill to protect fair use rights
by Gary Shapiro

... when XM Satellite Radio made available to its subscribers an innovative satellite radio that allows listeners to time-shift their favorite music programs, the music industry sued. When Kaleidescape launched an innovative entertainment system that organizes and stores movies on a home server to be viewed in any room, the DVD industry sued.

Under a little-noticed change in law secured by record label lobbyists and the Recording Industry Association of America, the music industry trade association, such lawsuits can seek damages of $150,000 per copyrighted work infringed. Because a "work" can be defined as a single song, in the case of an audio device like an MP3 player that permits access to millions of songs, the potential risk is incalculable (see BW Online, 2/25/07, "Apple's International iTunes Controversy"). ...

Read the full article

I think this is a critical issue for people to understand, especially as technological innovation continues to butt up against legal structures put in place to protect an outdated economic order.

Unfortunately for us, the people who wield the most influence politically and hence legally are those with the most to lose from such change, so they resort to the most heavy-handed means possible to preserve the status quo.

Unfortunately for them, the more they try to contain these changes, the more the new forces chafe under their restrictions and work more aggressively to create a new social order where they control the laws.

Happy Birthday Robert Frost

Author of one of my favorite poems ...
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Nothing is forever, except postage stamps

In case you missed it, the Post Office unveiled a new design for its "forever stamp" that will remain valid no matter what the current postal rates are. Here's the AP story:

Post office unveils 'forever' stamp

WASHINGTON -- An image of the Liberty Bell, an icon of American freedom and independence, will adorn the Postal Service's new forever stamp. ...

The stamp, which will carry the word "Forever" instead of a price, will remain valid for sending a letter, no matter how much rates go up in the future.

Read the full article
Of course the "forever" part refers to the stamp's design, not the its cost. The concept, however, that the post office could create anything that would last "forever" is a bit silly. That presumes a lot, such as the US Post Office always being around. Hell, even the Roman Empire fell.

It brought to mind one of my favorite sonnets by Shakespeare (no. 50 -- see below), which boasts that his verse would outlive all other earthly things. My bet is, the poem will certainly surpass the "forever" stamp's lifespan.

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone, besmear'd with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword, nor war's quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
'Gainst death, and all oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till the judgment that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes.

Favorite Song of the Day (3.26.07)

Outsider by the Ramones

I am an outsider
Outside of everything
I am an outsider
Outside of everything
I am an outsider
Outside of everything
Everything you know
Everything you know
It disturbs me so

Everybody tried to push me
Push me around
Everybody tried to put me
Try to put me down

All messed up, hey everyone
I've already had all my fun
More troubles are gonna come
I've already had all my fun

Everybody tried to push me
Push me around
Everybody tried to put me
Try to put me down

I am an outsider
Outside of everything
I am an outsider
Outside of everything
I am an outsider
Outside of everything
Everything you know
Everything you know
It disturbs me so

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Today in History: Coxey's Army, the first march on DC

There have been a few marches on DC over the years, but I saw on that today is the anniversary of the "first significant popular protest march on Washington" (Wikipedia's words) -- a group of unemployed men led by Jacob Coxey back in 1894.

That website includes the following passage attributed to the Encyclopedia of American History:

During the depression following the panic of 1893, businessman and reformer Jacob Coxey of Massillon, Ohio, and his California associate Carl Browne designed a publicity march on Washington to support bills that would create new jobs. Coxey led a march of the unemployed, followed by reporters, from Ohio to the capitol, demanding large issues of legal-tender currency and money for roads and public improvements. Coxey left Massillon on Easter Sunday, 1894, with about five hundred men and arrived in Washington in time for a great demonstration on MAY DAY. His parade was cheered by an enormous crowd, but when he tried to speak from the Capitol steps he was arrested, fined, and sent to jail for carrying banners and walking on the grass on the Capitol grounds.
The Wikipedia article on the same subject includes a cultural tidbit that Frank Baum, author of the Wizard of Oz, witnessed the march, and there's some critical thought that the story is a Populist allegory.

To me, the interesting (and currently relevant) point of discussion is what makes for a successful protest march (or vote, or movement). It's easy to mobilize masses of people against a war or other negative situation. The more difficult political tactic is to organize people to achieve something new. People who are angry can be easily mislead, but people who are informed by a vision of something better are empowered to make real change.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Red Apple of My Eye Is Bigger than My Stomach

This week's restaurant outing took us (my trusty co-eaters Terry Feingold and Tom Mannis at my side) to the Red Apple Restaurant (Czerwone Jabluszko) on the city's Northwest side, for an astoundingly bountiful buffet of traditional Polish food (and some other items too).

For a very reasonable $8.49, you can stuff your gullet with all kinds of hearty stick-to-your-ribs (read fattening) foods. The decor is very homey, and has an appropriate central European feel. The waitstaff is very attentive and friendly, and you'll never have to worry about the dirty dishes stacking up on your table.

The meal starts with soup, and you have a choice of chicken noodle or sauerkraut -- I definitely recommend the latter -- then the free-for-all begins. There's a selection of salad bar items, if you want to fill up on vegetable matter (it also includes pickled herring, which Terry and Tom liked), but I went straight to the meat and potatoes.

The array of meat-related items available on the day we visited was impressive: pork shank, pork roast, pork schnitzel, polish sausage, chicken gizzards, veal stew, baked chicken, fried chicken, chicken roll, stuffed cabbage, fried fish, fried shrimp, fish cutlet. There's also mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes, blintzes, dumplings, pierogis, sauerkraut and creamed spinach as side complements (click on the image below to see an animated GIF that shows the variety). My favorites were the stuffed cabbage and the pork roast in dill gravy, but everything was good.

I was approaching a state of food coma within minutes. My eyes glass over again just recalling the vast quantities consumed. The buffet includes ice cream, and there's a dessert selection of cookies, cake and pudding, but if you can make it that far, you're a better man (or woman) than I (Tom was).

The Red Apple has two locations in Chicago:

3121 N. Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, IL 60618
Tel. 773.588.5781
6474 N. Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, IL 60646
Tel. 773.763.3407

Thanks as always to Tom Mannis for the fine photography, and we'll be back on the food trail next week exploring the nooks and crannies of Chicago dining.

Favorite Song of the Day (3.23.07)

I Bleed by Pixies

as loud as hell
a ringing bell
behind my smile
it shakes my teeth
and all the while
as vampires feed
i bleed

prithee my dear,
why are we here
nobody knows
we go to sleep
as breathing flows
my mind secedes
i bleed

there's a place
in the buried west
in a cave
with a house in it
in the clay
the holes of hands
you can place
a hand in hand
i bleed

Friday, March 23, 2007

Today's gleanings from Wikipedia: Bio of Erich Fromm

In my Internet wanderings today, I came across the informational tidbit that Psychologist Erich Fromm was born this day in 1900. I admit not knowing very much about Mr. Fromm, but found the description of his world view quite interesting.

Here's a long excerpt from the Wikipedia article on him:

The cornerstone of Fromm's humanistic philosophy is his interpretation of the biblical story of Adam and Eve's exile from the Garden of Eden. Drawing on his knowledge of the Talmud, Fromm pointed out that being able to distinguish between good and evil is generally considered to be a virtue, and that biblical scholars generally consider Adam and Eve to have sinned by disobeying God and eating from the Tree of Knowledge. However, departing from traditional religious orthodoxy, Fromm extolled the virtues of humans taking independent action and using reason to establish moral values rather than adhering to authoritarian moral values.

Beyond a simple condemnation of authoritarian value systems, Fromm used the story of Adam and Eve as an allegorical explanation for human biological evolution and existential angst, asserting that when Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge, they became aware of themselves as being separate from nature while still being part of it. This is why they felt "naked" and "ashamed": they had evolved into human beings, conscious of themselves, their own mortality, and their powerlessness before the forces of nature and society, and no longer united with the universe as they were in their instinctive, pre-human existence as animals. According to Fromm, the awareness of a disunited human existence is the source of all guilt and shame, and the solution to this existential dichotomy is found in the development of one's uniquely human powers of love and reason.
That interpretation of the Biblical story actually resonates quite well with my own. If you think of this and the other stories from the Bible on a metaphorical level, its significance as a historical document actually grows -- at least in my eyes. That our earliest ancestors were able to create and transmit through countless generations a story that symbolically captures the moment when humanity achieved consciousness is an amazing possibility to contemplate.

French Disclose Evidence of Unidentified Flying Woks

In case you've fallen into a false sense of security, here's news of the threat of flying cookware:

France's space agency puts its secret UFO archive on the Web
Associated Press

... the January 1981 case of the saucer-shaped object that a witness said he saw land in Trans-en-Provence, a village inland from the French Riviera.

Some 2.5 meters (8 feet) across, the zinc-colored object made a whistling noise as it landed. The witness later drew a picture: It resembled a wok with a lid and legs.

"The machine stayed a few seconds on the ground and then left very quickly but it left marks that were analyzed and allowed us to determine that the ground had been heated up, that the object must have weighed several hundred kilos (pounds), and that surrounding plants underwent biological changes," Patenet said.

"So something really happened. It really defies analysis." ...

Read the full article
No details on how the surrounding plant life was altered, but I'm hoping they were cooked until tender and had a nice ginger and garlic bite.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Favorite Song of the Day (3.22.07)

Don't Worry About the Government by Talking Heads

I see the clouds that move across the sky
I see the wind that moves the clouds away
It moves the clouds over by the building
I pick the building that I want to live in
I smell the pine trees and the peaches in the woods
I see the pinecones that fall by the highway
That's the highway that goes to the building
I pick the building that I want to live in
It's over there, it's over there
My building has every convenience
It's gonna make life easy for me
It's gonna be easy to get things done
I will relax alone with my loved ones
Loved ones, loved ones visit the building,
take the highway, park and come up and see me
I'll be working, working but if you come visit
I'll put down what I'm doing, my friends are important

Don't you worry 'bout me
I wouldn't worry about me
Don't you worry 'bout me
Don't you worry 'bout ME

I see the states, across this big nation
I see the laws made in Washington, D.C.
I think of the ones I consider my favorites
I think of the people that are working for me
Some civil servants are just like my loved ones
They work so hard and they try to be strong
I'm a lucky guy to live in my building
They all need buildings to help them along
It's over there, it's over there
My building has every convenience
It's gonna make life easy for me
It's gonna be easy to get things done
I will relax along with my loved ones
Loved ones, loved ones visit the building
Take the highway, park and come up and see me
I'll be working, working but if you come visit
I'll put down what I'm doing, my friends are important

I wouldn't worry 'bout me
I wouldn't worry about me
Don't you worry 'bout me
Don't you worry 'bout ME

We'll miss you Larry Bud Melman

Calvert DeForest, best known to TV fans as Larry Bud Mellman, died on March 19 at age 85 after a long illness.

He was a recurring character on Late Night with David Letterman, when the show traded more in the absurd and silly. I'll always be grateful to him for the laughs he created, especially at his own expense.

We need more like him who don't take themselves too seriously and realize laughter is usually the only way to get through this crazy world. I raise my toast on a stick in tribute.

Click here for the Wikipedia article on Calvert DeForest

Oh, the Calamari we could have had ...

Another missed opportunity for the furthering of culinary science:

Colossal squid may be headed for oven

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- A colossal half-ton squid, believed to be the largest ever caught, may be destined for the microwave oven.

But researchers say they don't want to cook the massive creature - just
defrost it so they can study it better.

Read the full article
But don't worry, I hear of big doings afoot in the neighborhood to explore the varied ways to prepare 17-year Cicadas.

Favorite Song of the Day (3.21.07)

Take Me Down To The Infirmary by Cracker

So, take me down to the infirmary
Lay me down on cotton sheets
Put a damp cloth on my forehead
Lay me down and let me sleep

I know the whiskey it won’t soothe my soul
And the morphine won’t heal my heart
But if you take me down to the infirmary
I won’t have to sleep or drink alone.

So, take me down to the infirmary
Walk a sound that's as blue as her eyes
Oh, sister magdelene won’t you fetch theDoctor’s flask.
He is going to need a steady, a steady hand

I know the whiskey it won’t soothe my soul
And the morphine won’t heal my heart
But if you take me down to the infirmary
I won’t have to sleep or drink alone.

So, take me down to the infirmary
Lay me down on cotton sheets
Put a damp cloth on my forehead
Lay me down let me sleep
Lay me down let me sleep

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Did Judas get a bum rap?

There is a new book out that tries to tell the Gospel story from Judas's perspective. In it, it's not Judas who betrays Jesus. Here are a couple excerpts from an article in today's Washington Post about it:

Unorthodox Pair Converts Judas Tale Into a Page-Turner
By Sarah Delaney

Lord Jeffrey Archer, author of best-selling thrillers, former member of the British Parliament and convicted perjurer, has written "The Gospel According to Judas" with the academic help of the Rev. Francis J. Moloney, a world-class biblical scholar and former theological adviser to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. ...

In the book, Judas does not mean to send Jesus to his death; rather, he
hopes to persuade him, with the aid of a scribe, to return to the safety of
Galilee. The scribe, however, betrays Judas and, consequently, Jesus.
Let's skip the juicy tidbit about one of the authors being a convicted perjurer and the concept of the true traitor being a scribe or writer (ancient version of a blogger?), and focus on Judas himself. I'm sure you thought that the story of Judas was pretty straight forward: betrays Jesus for 30 pieces of silver then hangs himself in shame. Well, nothing is ever that simple is it?

It turns out there's been a lot of pretty heavy theological discussion about his motivation, his actual actions, and even whether he's a villain or not. If Jesus needed to die on the cross in order to save Man, and Judas played the critical role of getting Jesus crucified, does that make him a hero? Was he just a victim of fate -- a pawn in God's plan? The interpretation may depend on your views of the importance of intention, or the existence of free will. But then again, what if Judas knowingly, or with divine encouragement, acted to fulfill prophecy? Can an act of betrayal be noble, if that act is committed for the greater good?

If you'd like to read more, check out the Wikipedia article on Judas Iscariot. In it there is a list of the following theological questions concerning Judas's role in the Biblical story:
  • Why did Jesus allow Judas to betray him?
  • Did Jesus fail to foresee the betrayal?
  • Was Jesus unable to prevent the betrayal?
  • Did Jesus willingly allow the betrayal to go ahead?
  • Did Jesus actively try to cause the betrayal to happen?
All of this brought to my mind the film "Last Temptation of Christ" (click here for the IMDB listing) directed by Martin Scorsese (it's also a novel written by Nikos Kazantzakis ). In it Judas (played by Harvey Keitel) recalls Jesus to his true mission -- sacrifice on the cross, salvation of Mankind -- after Jesus has given into the desire to pursue the life of an ordinary married man. That was the devil's last temptation of Christ, allowing him to see how his life would be if he accepted a different fate.

If you believe in a black and white world of pure good versus pure evil, all stories will have pretty simplistic interpretations (see any of George W Bush's speeches). If you live in the real world, and deal with real people and their conflicts and contradictions, you'll realize that there's always much more to the story.

In Fighting Is In Fashion

Video war erupts between Clinton and Obama
By Jeremy Pelofsky, Reuters
March 21, 2007
Ten months before the first 2008 U.S. presidential primary, a video war has erupted between supporters of Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, their opening skirmish on the new campaign battleground -- the Internet.
Read the article

Governor calls Limbaugh 'irrelevant'
Schwarzenegger's repudiation of the conservative talk show host comes as he is accused of betraying his party's values.
By Robert Salladay, LA Times
March 21, 2007
Read the article

Feingold calls Scudellari's Mom 'an amateur'
'What kind of Italian uses store bought pasta?', 'Noodles' Feingold snipes at 'Marinara' Marina.
By Pollo Con Pomodoro, RP Bulletin
March 21, 2007
Read the article

Spring has Sprung

  • One of the effects of equinoctial periods is their temporary disruptive effect on communications satellites. For most geostationary satellites, there is almost always a point when the sun is directly behind the satellite relative to Earth. The Sun's immense power and broad radiation spectrum overload the Earth station's reception circuits with noise and, depending on antenna size and other factors, temporarily disrupt or degrade the circuit. The duration of those effects varies but can range from an hour to a few minutes.
  • Folk tales from various European countries claim that only on the March equinox day (some may add the September equinox day or may explicitly not), one can balance an egg on its point. However you can balance an egg on its point any day of the year if you have the patience.
  • Although the word "equinox" implies equal length of day and night, as is noted elsewhere, this simply isn't true. For most locations on earth, there are two distinct identifiable days per year when the length of day and night are closest to being equal. Those days are commonly referred to as the "equiluxes" to distinguish them from the equinoxes. Equinoxes are points in time, but equiluxes are days. By convention, equiluxes are the days where sunrise and sunset are closest to being exactly 12 hours apart.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Favorite Song of the Day (3.20.2007)

Surgical Focus by Guided By Voices
(Click here to listen to a sample of the track on

With surgical focus
She stared at me and said
I'm willing to reach out
Get in to your head
And i will keep you
And cleanse you
She glared at me and wept
A change is not going to hurt you
Not this time

And i've been waiting in line for this
Now that it's taken forever
I insist
Until i get it, i can't breathe
Climbing high upon the rocky cliffs
She flies
With surgical focus

Commemorating the 4th Anniversary of the War RP Style

A pensive silence at a candle light vigil outside the Heartland Cafe ...

Followed by raucous rock 'n roll at Red Line Tap, with Young Professionals (Dan, James, and Brian from Outlaw Family Band) ...

And then Chemtrails (with Brian sitting in on pedal steel) ...

Monday, March 19, 2007

Shameless Promotion -- Time to eat saucy fowl

Click the image to see it in larger form. Join us for some good food, friends, and fun.

Favorite Song of the Day (Iraq War Anniversary)

Take Your Ticket by Old No. 8
(I think there are a couple mistakes, but ...)

Take your ticket to the station, get yourself up on that train.
Give your luggage to the porter, grab your seat 'n watch the rain.
Can't you hear that whistle blowin', don't it play a lonesome sound.
Leavin' all your love behind you, to your duty you are bound.

When your wife kissed you goodbye, you told her she shouldn't cry.
But deep inside you wonder how it's fair.
Told them that you would serve, in the Army Reserve.
You gave them all the weekends you could spare.

Put your finger on the trigger, feel the gun swing in your hand.
Look on out across the desert, taste the sweat and smell the sand.
Can't you hear those rounds discharging. Don't it make you miss your home.
Leavin' all your love behind you, oh if only you had known.

Thought that if there was a war,
Somethin' worth fighting for,
You'd proudly help your country stand up tall.
But Uncle Sam he's an oil man, with no respect for human life at all

Rest your hand upon the coffin, wipe the water from your eye.
Bend and kiss your fallen brother, say a prayer and say goodbye.
Can't you hear his widow wailin', don't it make life seem so sad.
Thinkin' of yourself as lucky, just to have back the things you had.

Back when you were a boy, and your life was a joy,
You never could conceive of so much pain.
But Uncle Sam turned you into a man,
And tell me whose the one that stands to gain.

And who says that war is a cause, greater than all our laws?
Whose the one who makes the final call?
And Uncle Sam he's an oil man,
With no respect for human life at all.

Favorite Song of the Day (3.18.2007)

The Man Who Sold the World by David Bowie

We passed upon the stair, we spoke of was and when
Although I wasn't there, he said I was his friend
Which came as some surprise I spoke into his eyes
I thought you died alone, a long long time ago

Oh no, not me
I never lost control
You're face to face
With the man who sold the world

I laughed and shook his hand, and made my way back home
I searched for form and land, for years and years I roamed
I gazed a gazely stare at all the millions here
We must have died alone, a long long time ago

Who knows? not me
We never lost control
You're face to face
With the man who sold the world

Who knows? not me
We never lost control
You're face to face
With the man who sold the world

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Marching for Immigrants' Rights on St. Pat's Day

My friend Rory (in the picture below with his daughter) called Terry Feingold on Friday to offer us an opportunity to march in Chicago's downtown St. Patrick's Day parade. Fresh off spectating at last week's Southside Irish Parade, we were pretty excited by the prospect of seeing things from the marchers' perspective.

When we arrived in the staging area, I was doubly excited to find out we'd be walking alongside the float of the Chicago Celts for Immigration Reform (CCIR). I marched in the downtown demonstration for Immigrants' Rights last May (click here to see one of the YouTube clips I took that day), and remember seeing their group among the many nationalities that filled the streets of Chicago.

Despite many Americans' miconception, the immigration debate affects much more than the Latino community. Chicago, international city that it is, is home to immigrants from all corners of the Globe. We in Rogers Park are well aware of this, as we live and work with immigrants from Europe, Asia, and Africa as well as Central and South America.

To further illustrate the cross-cultural nature of the issue, members of the Korean American Resource & Cultural Center (KRCC) joined CCIR at the parade. Their contingent included a percussion and dance ensemble that was a big crowd favorite. They connected with CCIR during last year's immigrants' rights demonstrations.

According to CCIR's website, there are 40,000 undocumented Irish in the United States. The contributions they and other hard-working immigrants have made to our economic and cultural life are numerous, and our society should offer them the easiest possible path toward full citizenship.

Here are some links to more information on CCIR, KRCC, and the fight for immigrants' rights:

Favorite Song of the Day (St. Patrick's Day)

If I Needed Someone by Van Morrison
(Click here to listen to a 30 sec. snippet of the song on

Lord, if I ever needed someone
I need You
Lord, if I ever needed someone
I need You

To see me through the daytime
And through the long, lonely night
To lead me through the darkness
And on into the light

To stand with me when I'm troubled
And help me through my strife
As times get so uncertain, I turn to You
Turn to You, in my young life

Lord, if I ever needed someone
I need You
Lord, if I ever needed someone
I need You

Someone to hold onto
And keep me from all fear
Someone to be my guiding light
And keep me ever dear

To keep me from my selfishness
To keep me from my sorrow
To lead me on to givingness
So I can see a new tomorrow

Lord, if I ever needed someone
I need You
Lord, if I ever needed someone
I need You

Someone to walk with
Whoa, someone to hold by the hand
Someone to talk with
Someone to understand

To call on when I need You
And I need You very much
To open up my arms to You
Feel your tender touch

To feel it and to keep it
To keep it right here in my soul
And care for it and keep it with me
Never to grow old

Lord, if I ever needed someone
I need You
Lord, if I ever needed someone
I need You

One more time, again
Lord, if I ever needed,
needed some one
I need You
Lord, oh
If I ever needed some one

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Go get yourself a Piece

Terry Feingold, Tom Mannis and I made our weekly excursion for culinary exploration today. Our goal: to sample the fabled New Haven style pizza. The purveyor of said fare is Piece, located at 1927 W. North Ave. in the funky (that's a complimentary adjective) Wicker Park neighborhood.

We got the "plain" variety (red sauce, parmesan, olive oil, and diced garlic -- no mozzarella) with clams. Here's a pic of said slices (credit to Tom Mannis for the excellent photography in this post):

They also offer a "white" style (no sauce, but mozzarella), and a traditional "red" (mozzarella included). The crust was crunchy and quite tasty. The sauce was very good, and the garlic and clams a very nice combo. The large was more than enough for we three hearty eaters. Tom and Terry were both quite taken by the friendly wait staff.

They also brew their own beer, and I washed down my slice with a pint of Dysfunction Ale, which was a nice hoppy pale ale. It's definitely worth a trip, if you're looking to get out of the 'hood.

Favorite Song of the Day (3.16.07)

The Glittering Prizes by Television Personalities
(Click here to hear a 30 sec. snippet from

In the past I always tried
But I never got amongst the glittering prizes
I put it down to confidence
Or something trendy like an emotional complex

But pretty soon I'm going to change
But pretty soon I'm going to change
But pretty soon I'm going to change
You won't recognize me

Glittering prizes for me
Glittering prizes for me

I wear a clean shirt every day
And I quite enjoy my job as an office boy
But the novelty begins to fade
'Cause I never get the chance
To play with the executive toys

But pretty soon I'm going to change
But pretty soon I'm going to change
But pretty soon I'm going to change
You won't recognize me

Glittering prizes for me
Glittering prizes for me