Tree of Life Massacre

Going to services should be about connecting with those around you, and yet that simple right was taken away for many this Saturday. While it is easy to look around and point fingers, we must first think about this and grieve. Grieve for not only those who have lost their lives this weekend, but who have lost their lives simply trying to observe their respective religions.

Looking on this shooting, I can not help but think back to my time in Israel on birthright, and how that shaped how I view Judaism today. For a long period of time, I had struggled with reconciling my atheist beliefs with what was said in prayer, and I felt myself growing ever-distant to a community I once called my own. However, in Israel I learned that regardless of my level of religious observance, Judaism is a community I can always be apart of. This made me and still makes me incredibly proud of my Jewish identity, as I practice a religion that understands the importance of diversity of thought, and embraces it for the better.

After that realization, I have begun to realize what Judaism means to me, and how that can differ from others. While my belief in God is still lacking, I look to Judaism as a community, and one that I can share with so many others. Everyone, regardless of religious observance is apart of that community, and we all owe to each other the love and respect we deserve. For me, this is not just another mass shooting, these are family members and loved ones that I share a deep connection with.

There are those out there who would rather see Jewish people not live because of what religion they choose to practice, rather than who they are as a person.While there are many factors that may have contributed to this man choosing to act in such a manner, there is much that all of us can learn from Saturday’s events. It is easy to react with anger and contempt, whether that be toward the man who committed the atrocity or toward those in power. What I ask of you is to choose compassion instead. Think of someone you love, and let them know that you are here. Let others know, that you will not succumb to the hate and fear that surrounds us, rather you will unite in love, acceptance and understanding. If Judaism has taught me anything, it has shown me that love is and has always been more powerful than hate and fear, and that all of us are capable of forgiveness and acceptance. This man chose to act and prey on our anger and fear, and we must not let him win. We must show that in the face of anger, hate, and contempt, we are capable of more.

Private Life & Voter Registration

Private Life (Netflix) – I have been slow about watching Netflix movies, but this came as a recommendation from my favorite Movie podcast, Grierson & Leitch. They both gave this movie a very high score, and so I felt obligated to give it a shot. Directed and written by Tamara Jenkins, this movie finds incredible pacing and heart in what could have very easily fallen into a clichéd, sappy love story. Staring Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn, a couple struggles to conceive a child in their late 40s, and goes through numerous trials and tribulations in their quest to have a kid. The pain that this couple feels is not so much in what is said but what is unsaid, how they grimace, look, and sigh. This movie has something important to say about relationships, and is much better than I could have anticipated. If you have a Netflix account, do yourself a favor and watch this film. 9/10

Registering to vote is one of the most important things you can do. Voting is the one of the few times in our democracy where you get to have your voice heard. So I encourage all of you to register to vote, wherever you happen to be. It is easy to look at National Politics and be discouraged, but locally you can have a major impact. I will be writing a Michigan Voting Guide soon enough but until then please make sure to register. When I say I do not care about your affiliation I mean it, what matters is that your voice is heard not if your voice conforms to my own. Please, take the time to register.

Cristiano Ronaldo, LA Clippers, and Jamal Khashoggi

Cristiano Ronaldo has been accused of sexual assault, and while I do not like speculation do me a favor and indulge in my speculation for a little bit. This will once again be a case of he said she said, however if he is guilty it would not surprise me in the slightest.

He mentioned in the press conference that he “had everything,” and in a sense he does. This attitude could lead him to do exactly what he is being accused of, as he could feel that something that is not is he needs to take. While there is no doubt he faced a hard road to become one of the greats, now he is an incredible athlete who has been and is continually told that he is incredible. He is an incredible looking male, who is one of the greatest athletes ever. After a while, when people tell you that everything is yours, you start to believe it, for good or for ill. To me, he probably felt as though this is a woman he could take, because he was Cristiano Ronaldo. Again, innocence until proven guilty is crucial, and so at this time it is hard to say. However, it would not shock me if this is true.

In lighter news the LA Clippers are 2-2, which is a decent start for a very decent team. While many of you may be wondering whether or not Clippers fans even exist, I can tell you with confidence they do and I am a part of a small minority. My beloved Clippers traded away most of their best players, for assets. This team is full of assets, and it is going to be fascinating to see how not only they will perform but if they can attract a legitimate superstar.

The ceiling in my eyes for the Clippers is a 6th or 7th seed in the playoffs. Will they actually win anything? Probably not, but the team is still an exciting prospect nonetheless. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander looks to be a sensational rookie, with length, handles, and defense to match. I am hopeful for my Clippers but also willing to moderate my expectations in the hopes of a team that is incredibly successful in the future.

Also, I am shocked at the Jamal Khashoggi killings, and at the responses from both Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Both seem desperate to remind others of their importance, however both come off as hypocrites. President Erdogan wants to remind everyone that he is a pivotal ally who is against this kind of press brutality, but he has cracked down on his own people and officials for years, and is in charge of a country that has attempted to bully others into denying the Armenian Genocide. Meanwhile, the Crown Prince has tried to shape himself as a reformer, yet he cannot seem to stop himself from resorting to brutal tactics in order to take power.

This is a sad saga, and one that I hope gets resolved. But it is on all of us too hold both of these regimes accountable, and to make sure that justice in this case is served. Journalists and the press keep our leaders accountable, and it is our responsibility to make sure both countries understand this.

The Pain of a Migraine & Wayne Rooney

Migraines are painful I regret to inform you, and I found out in rather brutal fashion on Wednesday night. I was hosting an event for the AEI Executive Council with Reihan Salam (awesome guy by the way), when I noticed a large blurry spot in my vision. I could not make out a word on my phone screen and an hour later my hand hurt in some kind of way.

After arriving at the Urgent Care center in Ann Arbor, they treated me and dealt with me being I am sure less than pleasant. I was annoyed and in pain, and they reacted with stellar poise. If you have a migraine, get medication as soon as you can and do not let it sit for too long. Otherwise a flash can turn into a nightmare.

Also there was a brilliant profile on Wayne Rooney I highly encourage you to read. If there is any 30 for 30 material in the MLS, this run from DC United might very well be it. I think it just might be the best sports story we have seen in awhile.

 

A Star is Born, USWNT, & Another Michigan Review Article!

It is as good as you have heard. A Star is Born is incredibly moving, something I never could have expected from a film this year. Bradley Cooper acts and directs and is brilliant, using his body to act the pain and torture he goes through. Lady Gaga is absolutely incredible in this movie as well, her singing and acting are a force throughout. While I have never seen the other iterations of this movie, this movie does an absolutely terrific job of being moving while also understanding the current moment and living up to it. The second half is not as good as the first, and it does slow down at points. Regardless, this is a movie that must be seen in theaters, and may very well win award after award and it will be well deserved. 9/10

In other news, the US Women’s National Team qualified for the world cup, and I along with the rest of the soccer fans in this country could not be prouder. I will never take for granted the difficulty of qualifying for a world cup ever again. The women have qualified in dominating fashion, destroying nearly ever opponent in their wake. I wish them luck next summer and hope that they can bring another one home.

When recruits are scored based on questions regarding their trendiness or looks, it is pretty obvious that “sisterhood” is not the main calculation. National sorority bodies want girls who can market their image for them, and many do.

I have also written another article for The Michigan Review which I highly recommend you check out about Greek life at Michigan. With that happy Tuesday and enjoy the rest of Fall Break.

US Soccer

A year ago today, the US Men’s National Team was denied the opportunity to go to the World Cup. That created this article that I wrote and this epic rant from Taylor Twellman that is perfect. It also showed the newfound passion for Soccer in the US, and the expectations for our men’s team were set clear from here on out.

I have detailed at length what I think the problems are with US Soccer, but I cannot help but look at how incredible the Women’s team has been playing as of late and wonder why they do not get the same attention. If you care about US Soccer, go out and support the Women’s team this summer. They look absolutely incredible and are shaping up to be one of the best teams in France this Summer.

As a country, we have a long way to go before we can be a serious force in soccer. However, with players like Christian Pulisic and Tyler Adams the future certainly looks bright. Good luck to the women throughout qualifying and in France this summer.

BoJack Horseman Season 5 Review

BoJack Horseman ended season 4 with a commitment to being a changed man. BoJack Horseman has always been a show of twists and turns, and it never quite lets anyone off the hook. However, it finally began to seem like there might be some moments of redemption. However, just because BoJack is the hero of our story, does not mean he gets to be let off easy. If I were to boil down the lesson of this season it is that while we can make a commitment to becoming better and dealing with those around us in better and healthier ways, we have to hold ourselves accountable. Nobody else will do it for us.

This season wallows in sadness but is in many ways more subdued than years past. It does not focus so much on the glitz and glam but has stories that really try to see the characters take the next step. Princess Carolyn struggling with adoption, Dianne and Mr. Peanutbutter moving on, and BoJack dealing with the loss of his Mom and coming to terms with all of the things he has done. It once again defies convention and category, making Drama and Comedy work in ways that few shows can pull off.

My highlight of the season was the episode “Free Churro,” which constituted of BoJack giving his eulogy for his Mom. Painfully honest “Free Churro” is the best episode this series has seen since Season 3.  BoJack realizing how much of his relationship between himself and his mother has now gone to waste has some absolutely gut-punching lines that I will not spoil. Please, if you watch one episode of this show, watch “Free Churro”.

To me, BoJack Horseman is always in the 9-plus category because of its ability to stir emotions. However, my one complaint is that I felt this muted deconstruction was a very small step back from the highs of the last two seasons. Regardless, this show continues to be phenomenal. Watch it as soon as you can.

9/10

My Thoughts on Brett Kavanaugh

I am sure you have heard enough of the Brett Kavanaugh coverage, and frankly if you do not want to continue I do not blame you. We live in a moment where everyone agrees something went wrong but not on what. We live in a hyper-partisan moment, in which at any point, not conforming is disagreeing or endorsing. I have always been a bit of a renegade, conformity never suited me. At a very early age when kids were declaring markers as there coloring weapon of choice I said crayons. When everyone read Harry Potter I scorned while reading Alex Rider. All of that goes to say, that my opinion will almost assuredly please no one. I enjoy not fitting a mold, as being uncomfortable is all I know. So, if you do not mind, bare with me and maybe you will find something useful.

At the start of this process, I defended Kavanaugh. Republican presidents nominate conservative justices, and while we can be mad at his policy ideas we could not blindly accuse him of being a bad person. It felt that many were out to tarnish his reputation and I found myself agreeing with most conservatives. However, as the allegations came out my opinion changed but I will try to keep it as clean as possible and hopefully some may agree.

There were generally two sides, one saying that there was no evidence corroborating the attack, whilst others automatically believed Dr. Ford in spite of any evidence. To me, I would be shocked if something did not happen, and based on his drinking habits as described by his friends and others, it would not surprise me if he did not remember the event. Regardless, without evidence it is important to assume innocence and therefore while we can believe that Dr. Ford is credible, we can also take the time to investigate and make sure she is telling the truth.

That being said, the main reason I would not have given him my vote is due to his partisanship, as he established very clearly in his hearing that he felt victimized by Democrats and empowered by Republicans. He mentioned the Clintons, and Democrats as attempting to smear him and destroy his life. While I can never imagine having to be placed under that microscope, his performance showed me that he was lacking candor and too partisan to be on the nation’s highest court.

I am surprised that at the very least the nomination was not delayed further, as the senators who delayed it a week must have known that nothing would come out of it. If the FBI had time to investigate they could have credibly proven, disproven, or simply confirmed that there was no corroborating evidence. All of those conclusions help, and can make a better picture for the American people to understand whether or not Judge Kavanaugh is deserving of the position.

There is no doubt that getting rid of or destroying the confirmation on allegations alone would have set a bad precedent, which is why it makes no sense why the FBI was not allowed to fully confirm, deny, or not be able to know the answer. Everyone seemed to be playing politics rather than doing what was best for the country. He is innocent until proven guilty, and why we did not give the qualified members of our government the chance to do that despite his multiple story changes, whining under oath, and potential perjury, makes no sense.

Maybe Dianne Feinstein wanted to calculate the biggest possible political hit. I seriously doubt it, and while it is hard to understand why exactly she did not hand the information over to the FBI as soon as possible, I do feel she genuinely wanted to protect the confidentiality of Dr. Ford. Dr. Ford was, as any of us would be, terrified to be in front of senators answering questions on an assault that happened in high school. I can hardly blame her, and while Senator Feinstein could have acted in better faith, it comes from an understandable place.

My biggest worry coming out of this is that our courts are no longer institutions separate from partisanship. I feel that votes for Justices should be carried out by qualifications only, and that while we can agree or disagree on political stances, that the court is about ruling regardless of personal belief and defending the constitution. Many nominees, including Kavanaugh, echoed this very sentiment as they should, and yet the second nominee to be voted completely along party lines shows that we have come to a point where that is no longer the case.

I expect many to continue to point fingers and use their ultimate fears to justify why the other side of the aisle is despicable. Watching Lindsey Graham grandstand and attack was horrifying, watching Cory Booker attempt to vilify everyone who supports Kavanaugh was also cringe-worthy. This is the beginning of our end, when we cannot even look each other in the face and assume the best intentions. All everyone does, from those in power to those involved in politics, is assume the worst intentions in the other side, and continues to treat each other like villains. Try to assume humanity, even if you cannot understand it. I have been humbled throughout my time here at Michigan by how much I thought I knew and how much I still do not know.

For the record I think America is great, and will continue to remain that way. However, the coming apart is beginning, and if we want it to stop, we must assume the best in each other. Love thy neighbor, and if you really cannot, try to come to some understanding. I am a hypocrite as I am not even the best at it, but try. I promise you will not regret it.

I said awhile ago that this hearing was the political supernova that everything had been building towards. I had hoped as a country we were doing better, but I guess we are not. I hope we can do better.

 

Baking Sheets are Poorly Named

This year of college, I have no longer been able to rely on other people cooking. Learning how to cook as a 20 year old is a unique experience, as it gives you a naïvety and perspective that those who have cooked all their lives do not have.

When reading through a recipe on making Brussel Sprouts, I was trying to find a physical sheet to put them on, not realizing that a baking sheet was in fact not a sheet, but a metal flat surface where things can cook. This is a folly.

Sheets are defined as many things by Merriam-Webster, but a “baking sheet” makes no sense. If we were to refer to a “sheet of ice” or a “sheet of rain” that makes more sense because the content of rain or ice is all that is there. A sheet of ice is composed of only ice, while a sheet of rain is composed of only rain. However, a “baking sheet” is not a sheet of baking, it is a sheet of metal that can be put in an oven and can warm certain foods. To me it should be called a baking tray or an oven tray. Regardless people of the kitchen world the name “baking sheet” simply has to go.  If you have any suggestions for names please let me know!