News Chum Stew: Onesies and Twosies

Observation StewLast night, we had a Shabbabaque at Temple (“Shabbat” + “Barbeque”). There was a bunch of food leftover, and so I brought some home — the sliced tomatoes and roasted zucchini — and threw it into a crockpot. That’s a great thing to do with leftovers: make a stew (and I intend to suggest formalizing that next year*). Just like at the Shabbabaque, I’ve got loads of leftovers — onsies and twosies of news articles — that don’t make a coherent dish. Perhaps they’ll make a good stew. What do you think?

Jewish Summer Camp

Food and Eating

Local Returns and Departures

The Body


What’s Left



Life as a Theme Park

userpic=eticketAs we continue the process of cleaning out the links, today’s three-theme brings together articles related to current and former theme parks, although the term is used loosely:



Sunday Stew: A Day Late, and Appropriately Short

Observation StewIt’s Sunday again, and … what’s this? No stew on Saturday? We must remedy this, with this hastily thrown together pot of material collected during what was, again, a very busy week and an even busier weekend:

  • It’s Too Big. Here’s a call from a congressional candidate in Los Angeles to break up LA Unified. What’s interesting here is how he wants to do it: His bill would make school districts with more than 100,000 students ineligible for federal aid.  This would affect almost every major city school district, and result in lots of wasted money as many of the supporting school services — payroll, human resources, legal, and such… as well as school boards — get duplicated. The larger question, perhaps, is how much of LA Unified’s problem is LA Unified. After all, there are schools within the district that are excellent (many of them charters, such as Granada Hills or Pacific Palisades). There are lower performing schools, but these tend to be in lower performing neighborhoods. Often, the district’s hands are tied by state and federal requirements, as well as their own procedures. Breaking up the district doesn’t solve those problems. Decentralization (where appropriate) and local empowerment (when appropriate) does.
  • It’s Everywhere. One little snippet in the latest from Donald Sterling was not emphasized in the news — where he repeated Jewish stereotypes. You might have thought or hoped antisemitism would be dead … but you would be wrong. A new ADL survey shows that pnly 54 percent of people polled globally are aware of the Holocaust — and an alarming 32 percent of them believe the mass genocide of Jews was a myth or has been greatly exaggerated.  The survey found that 26 percent — more than one in four — of the 53,100 adults surveyed are “deeply infected” with anti-Semitic attitudes. Nine percent of Americans surveyed harbor at least six of the 11 anti-Semitic views. About 31 percent of respondents believe Jews “are more loyal to Israel” than the U.S.
  • It’s Scary. Antisemitism is really scary. The Disney comedy Frozen, edited into a horror movie trailer, is less so. Still, it is a great example of how the Frozen mania is continuing unabated. I think the last Disney film that got this deep into the social context was The Lion King.
  • It’s Dying. When they came out, CDs were touted as the perfect music medium. Crystal clear digital reproduction (as opposed to those scratchy vinyl records or tapes that wore out and broke), and they would last forever. Guess what? That was all a lie — CDs are degrading at an alarming rate. I have a large CD collection (and a large LP collection, and a large digital only collection … my iPod just crossed the 34,000 song mark). Of these, only the LPs have a long life — they degrade by scratches and stuff. All the tapes I made of records are long gone, and I rarely pull out the physical CDs anymore. Will they be there as backups, or will only the professionally made ones be readable. This, friends, is why people stick with analog data in the form of vinyl and paper.
  • It’s Dead. The death of the Fountainbleu in Las Vegas is closer: the construction crane has been removed. It is now less likely that this 80% finished mega-hotel will ever be completed. More than likely, it will be an expensive scrap recovery project, with loads of material destined for landfills. What a waste. How much dead landfill space in Las Vegas is taken up by the remains of hotels?
  • It’s, uhh, I forget. There might be some good news for those of you taking antidepressants. It turns out that certain antidepressants — particularly Celexa — is good a combatting memory loss. This may help combat Altzheimers Disease.
  • It’s Back. Lastly, those in the Bay Area can rest assured in the safety of the Bay Bridge. Sure, the bridge might fall down in an earthquake due to newly discovered flaws. But the protective troll is back, protecting drivers from his barely visible perch.



Saturday Clearing the Links: Time, Mistresses, Insurance, and Disney

userpic=observationsIt’s Saturday and we’re about to go out for dim sum. I guess that means I should clear out the links that didn’t really form into coherent themes of three or more articles:

P.S.: I’m beginning to think about a blog post about loss of trust in the government — that is, how we’ve gone from a society that trusted in the good of the government (in the WWII and post-war years) to a society that no longer trusts the government. How did happen, and what were the turning points. If you have something you want me to think about as the subject firms up in my head, please drop me a note.

Music: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968 Soundtrack) (Orchestra): “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Main Title) (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang & The Roses of Success)”


Life as a Theme Park

userpic=eticketToday’s news chum brings together a collection of stories related by… well, they all struck me as having some connection with a theme park or similar attraction:

Lastly, to continue yesterday’s post about the joke’s just writing themselves… Yesterday, I cited an article with the headline “Why Did The Chicken Lose Its Penis?” because the responses that came from the headline just seemed to write themselves. If you went to the link, the comments gave a lot of them (such as “Because its pecker is on the other end”). Here are three more headlines that caught my eye:

I expect to see most of these showing up on “Wait Wait” in the coming weeks.



Evolution in Action: TVs, Tumblr, Disney, and Cheese

userpic=masters-voiceToday’s lunchtime news chum theme is evolution. I’m not talking Darwinian evolution here, but the evolution of ideas, companies, and places. As with Darwinian evolution, sometimes this results in something better. Sometimes it doesn’t. I’ll leave it up to you to decide.

Music: Backstory (2011 Original London Cast): “Money”


News Chum Stew: Reusing Pens, Disney U, Rerecording Classics, and Herschel

userpic=observationsContinuing to catch up after vacation, I’ll take this morning to clear out the links of some miscellaneous articles. Still to come this weekend will be a sample ballot analysis, and (quite likely) a review of Fame at Nobel MS.

  • Disposable Pens. If you are like me, you accumulate pens from conferences and all those places that give them away as advertising promotions. Ever wonder what to do with them? A student at CSUN has an interesting use for them: he has created a non-profit organization called The Power of Pens that distributes writing utensils of any kind to developing countries where these are not easy to come by. The purpose of the organization is to provide utensils that will help educate children and adults who don’t have an exposure to pens or pencils. The organization relies on donors, varying from companies to people, who can spare a pen. Any type of writing utensil in any condition is accepted. They also look for volunteers to distribute the pens. This sounds like a great idea that needs more publicity. According to the article, those interested in donating or obtaining further information on the organization can send an email to; they also appear to have a Facebook page.
  • Disney U. Here’s an interesting waste of time: An artist has imagined animated Disney characters as university students. I have a number of quibbles with this, most notably that they all wrong to me. All the female characters have this “come hither” look (and the look is especially wrong for Belle), whereas the guys all look like surfers or slackers. What do you think? Do these look like college students to you, and do they look like the Disney characters would look if they went to college?
  • Under The Covers. A really interesting article from Slate looks at the practice of the original artists rerecording classic hits and passing them off as the original. Why is this done? Simple — royalties. In the original days, the artists earned nothing on royalties. Rerecording allows them to regain control of the royalties from the rerecording… which can be significant. This often happens on “Greatest Hits” albums, which I often thought were just cheap reassemblies of songs. Not always, it seems.
  • Seeing the Universe. The Herschel telescope is shutting down, and the Atlantic has posted five of their favorite images from Herschel. A lovely way to close out this post.

Music: Tintypes (1980 Original Broadway Cast): “Rich And Poor – Then I’d Be Satisfied With Life”


Theme Park News Chum: Universal Hollywood, Knotts, and Disney Chairs

userpic=eticketToday’s lunchtime news chum brings together some articles related, perhaps peripherally, to theme parks….

Music: Home Before Dark (Neil Diamond): “Act Like A Man”