Thursday, April 23, 2009

Video of the Day: Texas Secession

My brother sent me this youtube clip about Texas' most recent plan to secede from the Union. A grateful nation thanks the dude who made this clip.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


The identity of the author of the Styx is a deep mystery, shrouded in intrigue, only barely discoverable by intellects who are able to type and have access to Google. Nonetheless, my anonymity is a legal fiction I intend to uphold for now.

That said, I cannot and will not admit that I have a brother specifically named Aaron Cypess, M.D., Ph.D., but were he my brother I would be incredibly proud that Aaron is the first author of a New England Journal of Medicine article about "brown fat" (Brown Adipose Tissue = B.A.T., hence the fat Batman). The article is so important that it was carried by every major newspaper as well as NPR and even the major network TV news: NBC with Brian Williams, the Today Show, and CBS News.

Some newspapers decided to break with scientific and journalistic tradition and they did not mention the first author's name. One paper in particular, whose name rhymes with Shnew Dork Shtimes, committed this calmnus fraud. Not sure why... I won't say it's because Aaron wore a yamulka to the interview; it's probably because the Shtimes is a rag.

Yet, because God has a sense of humor, this story broke on the first day of Pesach. Which meant that the entire frum community, who weren't able to listen to NPR or watch 2 of the major news networks on Chag, were stuck reading the Shtimes and thus did not know that the Cypess Family Name was being honored so greatly.

What follows is a list of the journalistic heroes, i.e. those that carried Aaron's name along with his revolutionary findings. Also are three video clips noted above (NBC, Today, CBS) - where Aaron is shown doing his research proudly wearing his keepah:

Visit for Breaking News, World News

Congratulations Aaron, if you were my brother, I'd be very proud of you.

Fat Batman pic from here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Daytime TV

While lying in bed, gently writhing in lumbar-exploded pain, I was able to catch up on about 5 or 6 years of back TV watching. When I was a child and sick on a weekday, I had to make do with either the weird stuff they put on PBS after 10 am, or, if I was lucky, the Price is Right (in fact, ask any gen-Xer, and we'll tell you that 2 things are synonymous with being sick: the Price is Right, and ginger-ale).

Anyway, this decade, I was able to relive my childhood not through bad TV but through VH1 - which is now strictly programmed for my age group. I was able to soothe my pain with 5 straight hours of the Top 50 One-Hit-Wonders of the 80s. Electric Avenue, indeed.

Back Blowout

So, there I was, minding my own business, right about to leave for hashkama minyan, grabbing my youngest son in an attempt to tickle and/or kiss him, when an almost audible muscular-explosion hit a whole bunch of my lumbars (see pic to the left of me in Terminator-o-Vision).

I've had back pains and problems before - a lovely paternal inheritance - but nothing like this. Holy macaroni.

I was able to struggle up the stairs from the basement and then collapsed on my living room couch where I stayed for 12 hours, almost totally incapacitated. To get to the bathroom I needed to crawl and a round-trip took about an hour. My wife was an indispensable help but since she's in her last trimester, we couldn't risk her supporting my weight (which usually requires two strong men or one small burro).

A fellow-congregant of my shul, a high-demand orthopedic specialist, even paid a house-call Motzei Shabbos. He gets a big bunch of Olam Ha-Ba for that.

It took 24 hours of immobility until I was strong enough to stand for a short period of time; 48 hours until I could sit for a minute or two and 72 hours until I felt half-way normal. Today I'm still in pain, but I can at least stand and sit for longer periods. Let's see if it can handle a three hour seminar today.

Oh, and what ran through my mind was the Wilfred Brimley line from one of my top-5 movies, Hard Target: when asked "can you get up?" he replies, in a weird Cajun accent, "I cannot dance, but I can get up."

It's in this clip below at 3:47 (to get there you need to sit through almost 4 minutes of straight gunfire, explosions and John-Woo-Style killing... see above for 'top 5.'):

Pic of my back pain from here.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Passover Coke

I am not the only one - by far - who is obsessed with true-sugar Passover Coke. NPR is on the case; so is USA Today; so is about 1000 other blogs and websites (e.g.).

My favorite Passover Coke story comes from my second year in college. My freshman year dorm had 4 guys and for sophomore year we added a fifth and were able to occupy one of the 2 "quints" in Mathey College. We lost out on Blair Arch (I was told that an elaborate and well-planned conspiracy managed to land it, year after year, to some beer-soaked frat), and we settled into Hamilton Hall.

Two of the original four were not Jewish and were well acquainted with the other two's Hebrew ways. The newest roommate was less so (he was a devout Catholic, an officer in the campus Aquinas Society, he's the one who told me that an Opus Dei dude considered his church "Bloody Protestant" compared to the 'Dei). In any case, this roommate - an Electrical Engineer - came into the room 'round this time of year and started waxing enthusiastic that the "P-Coke" was finally in the stores. When asked what he meant, he explained that if you looked at the can-o'-coke's lid, there was a "P" stamped on it. And it was his unadulterated opinion - he had no idea that it was a Passover thing - that it was the finest Coke you can buy.

He's right.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Birkat ha-Chama

The accompanying picture of Rabbi Samuels of Cong. Shaarei Tefillah leading the shul in Birkat ha-Chama #206 (5769) was taken by me with my palm Treo at 6:57am.

On one side, Birkat ha-Chama is a fun halakha; as we'd expect with astronomy, in good Halley's Comet form, it comes so infrequently to make it very special.

On the other side, for people like me - highly secular educated religious Jews - this halakha exemplifies the worst of the quasi-science that the anti-Rationalist Daas Torahniks like to inflict on the rest of us. The rabbinic cognoscenti know that everything declared to be a "fact" with Birkat ha-Chama is actually untrue (e.g. the calendar is according to Rav Ada, not Shmuel; we basically hold like Rebbe Eliezer for creation, not Rebbe Yehoshua... in fact, I'd claim that the rabbis are signaling us that this is a charade by davka paskening like Shmuel etc.) And don't get me started on how we add days for the Gregorian shift yet don't take into account the modifications of the Julian calendar.

So it's difficult to stand up and say 'we need to wait 28 years in order for the sun to be in the exact position at Creation' while using NONE of the Torah-True-Science that would give us the accurate day.

I mean, seriously, why don't we do this every year on the 29th of Elul? That would at least be honest in the sense that it says "this is a religious event, following Scripture, to acknowledge creation." Instead we use pseudo-science, and pseudo-logic. It's things like this - claiming false-science as true - that drive away the intelligentsia.

The Beatles - Here Comes The Sun
Found at bee mp3 search engine