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Posts Tagged ‘game’

When Governments Elect Another People

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/when-governments-elect-another-people.html

Elections are won by demographics. No soup company blindly dumps cans of its newest “Turkey Coconut Bouillon with Nutmeg and Omega 3″ in Aisle 6 of the supermarket without testing to see what demographics such a hideous concoction might appeal to. Will the product appeal to lesbian single mothers, divorced Asian firefighters or eccentric Latvian millionaires? Politics is no different.

A political party has its base, definable groups who groove to its message, who eat up the red meat that its candidates toss their way. It has the demographic groups which will always vote for it and those who might swing its way. It knows them by race, gender, age, class, sexuality, home ownership and a thousand other statistical slices of the pie. It has those numbers broken down by states, cities and neighborhoods so that it has a good estimate of its chances in a given place and time based on the demographics of the people who live there.

This kind of information is helpful for winning elections– but showing up to play the electoral hand you’re dealt is for suckers. And by suckers, I mean conservative parties.

Breaking down the demographics is like looking at the cards in your hand. Once you’ve done that, the only remaining variable in a static game are your opponent’s cards. With election demographics, players can see all the cards everyone has. That makes the game static. Hands will inevitably be won or lost… unless you can draw some new cards.

The most obvious way to play the demographic game of thrones is with gerrymandered districts. A gerrymandered district is shaped to include a majority of the winning demographic leading to a nearly automatic victory for the party. It’s the political equivalent of stacking the deck.

Gerrymandered districts are of dubious legality, except when shaped to create a majority minority district, in which case it becomes an obligation under civil rights laws. This stacks the deck, creating permanent sinecures for some horribly incompetent politicians and permanent seats for the Democratic Party.

But that is just a matter of rearranging the cards in the deck. What if you could bring in cards from outside the deck? What if you could change the value of some cards? Then you would be on the way to being the best card sharp in Washington D.C. or London or Paris.

Sure you could win elections by creating a few gerrymandered districts, but you couldn’t win a country that way. To do that, you have to change the national demographics.

Suppose you were running our fictional soup company and you discovered that “Turkey Coconut Bouillon with Nutmeg and Omega 3″ isn’t popular with key demographics. The only people who like it are unemployed Pakistani immigrants, lesbian single mothers and divorced Asian firefighters.

Sure you could take a shot at putting out another flavor, but damn it, you like this one. And you also spent your entire advertising budget for the next three years promoting it, and thanks to your ad campaign, everyone now associates your company with “Turkey Coconut Bouillon with Nutmeg and Omega 3″. And if people don’t like it, then your company is doomed.

You could try to change people’s minds, or you could try to change the demographics to ones that favor your soup. To do that, you would have to bring in a lot of Pakistani immigrants, create a poor economic climate, promote divorce and homosexuality, and create some public sector jobs.

Luckily, no soup company can do that sort of thing. But governments can.

That’s the neat thing about governments, if they want to change national demographics, bring in more immigrants, create more single-parent families and more unemployment; they can do all those things easily.

Suppose, for example, that instead of running a soup company, you are a UK Labour politician. They say you’re bright, and while that may be debatable and some time later the very people who said it will spit in disgust at the idea, but you are young and you can see the writing on the wall. After Thatcher, there’s no future for the kind of cheap labor radical who threatens to take the workers into the streets at every opportunity. The working-class vote that your party identified with is on the way out. And even if it wasn’t, it won’t survive the leftward drift of your party.

Haredim Offer to Purchase Jerusalem Soccer Team, Impose Weekday Only Schedule

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Chairman of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer club Itzik Kornfein said in an interview with Israel TV’s sports channel that a number of Haredi businessmen from “Belgium, London and Russia” have expressed their desire to invest money in his team, on one condition: that Beitar would not play on Shabbat.

Kornfein also mentioned Israeli maverick millionaire Rami Levy, who also wants to buy the team if it would not play on Shabbat. He said: “I have no problem not playing on Shabbat, on the contrary, [I'm all for it]. I sent letters to [league president] Avi Luzon and [media content company] Charlton on the matter. We have many traditional-Jewish fans and itr comes down to five games a year altogether.”

Kornfein envisions combining a deal with Rami Levy and the Haredi investors. “Ramy is an honest and fair businessman. We’ll have to put things on the table from our side and see what happens.”

In his interview with the sports channel, Kornfein spoke openly about the mental fatigue he felt at what had been his vain attempts to recruit buyers for the Jerusalem team and save it from bankruptcy.

In January, Beitar Jerusalem was the target of angry criticism by religious season ticket holders who missed part of a crucial game with the team’s arch-rivals, the Arab team from Beit Sichnin. The original game time was set for 5:15 PM, but out of consideration for religious fans game time was postponed to 5:40. Except the Shabbat ended only at 5:45.

The fans accused Charlton of scheduling an early start to make room for their later, popular feed from the English soccer leagues.

Time Out

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

South Florida has received quite a boost from the newly crowned National Basketball Association champion Miami Heat. It’s difficult to describe the frenzy of Heat fans in their quest for victory. It is truly compelling that in this time of economic downturn, the Heat sold out every home game. Apparently, the thrill of experiencing this type of event is quite powerful.

Sports is the quintessential bonding experience for diverse members of a community. CEOs and janitors, professors and school dropouts, men and women, youngsters and grandparents all get caught up in the euphoria.

Hotels were filled with tourists. Many visitors came from out of town. Some were fans of the opposing team. Some took advantage of the party-like atmosphere to take vacations. There were sportscasters and “wannabes,” family, friends and entourages of the players, and individuals who just wanted to be part of the exciting mix.

One visitor, however, was so unlikely that his presence was almost surreal. Former prisoner of Hamas Gilad Shalit was in town to launch his new career as a sportswriter. He watched the NBA finals and visited the Miami Dolphins training camp and the University of Miami football team.

Shalit was a 19-year-old Israeli soldier when he was kidnapped in a raid by Hamas terrorists in 2006. He was held hostage for over five years. His photo showed a bespectacled sweet-faced kid. He could have been anyone’s brother, son, neighbor or grandchild. In all that time his whereabouts where unknown. His captors denied him visits from the International Red Cross. Jews everywhere were haunted by his wrenching story.

Prime Minister Netanyahu ultimately did the unthinkable to save this one Israeli soldier. On October 17, 2011, Shalit was released in exchange for more than 1,000 Arab prisoners.

Gilad has kept out the spotlight since his return. He came to Florida with his newfound mentor, Arik Henig, a popular Israeli media figure who writes for newspapers and television. Henig, a seasoned reporter, was showing the ropes to his young protegé.

The question, of course, is how was it possible? Shalit is painfully shy and soft-spoken. How did this young man survive his ordeal? He was a kid alone. How did he muster the strength?

Shalit is a very private person. He does not like to be interviewed. He usually shuns discussion about his time in captivity. However, he shared some insights while in Miami. His revelations were poignant.

He told of his saving grace: he was given a radio by his jailers and was allowed to listen to sport broadcasts. Sometimes he even watched a televised soccer game with his guards. He had a distraction; a way to avoid dealing with his terrible predicament. He had a way to survive.

There are many who have great disdain for sports. They dismiss it as nahrishkeit (nonsense). They look down on those who play and those who watch.

The Rambam advised pleasurable distraction as a way of refreshing oneself and going on in one’s life. He suggested walks in a beautiful garden. Obviously he never heard of the NBA.

Life is often difficult. It is always terminal. One does not have to be a prisoner of terrorists to become overwhelmed by it all. Torah study, prayer, work and obligations are important. Sometimes there is a great need for a time out to refresh and revive.

Netanyahu’s Leg Put in a Cast – Could Be First Divine Warning…

Monday, June 11th, 2012

During a soccer game on Monday afternoon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slipped on the grass, got up, went on to score a goal, and at some point stressed a leg tendon.

It was a soccer game that included Jewish and Arab youths in Jerusalem, as part of the international project to promote tourism to Israel.

Orthopedic specialist Dr. Leon Kaplan, following a CT scan of Netanyahu’s leg at Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus, said the test verified his concern that there may be tendon rupture.

Following the exam, the Prime Minister’s left leg was put in a cast for a few weeks. Netanyahu returned home and tomorrow will be back at work his office.

The crucial question is whether Bibi will be able to recognize the possible divine warning that was delivered with his injury. His predecessor in the office of Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, suffered a debilitating stroke after the uprooting of Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip. As Netanyahu last week torpedoed legislation to secure Jewish settlers in Judea and Samaria from nuisance lawsuits by Arabs, he may want to stay indoors more and avoid heavy lifting…

Making Peace With Your Mother-In-Law

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Dear Dr. Respler:

I have a problem with my mother-in-law.

My in-laws and I have always had a good relationship, so this unexpected problem is really bothering me. Let me explain. Recently, my in-laws invited my husband to a baseball game; they had an extra ticket. My husband wanted to go, and it was our understanding that he would be going with my father-in-law. So I gathered the children, thinking that we were going to spend time with my mother-in-law while the men went to the ballgame. But upon arriving at my in-laws’ house, I saw that my mother-in-law was dressed to go to the game. Feeling silly staying alone in their house, I told my husband that I did not want him to go with them, but rather wanted us all to just go home. My husband agreed, and that’s what we did.

The next day my mother-in-law called my husband and insinuated that I am a very controlling wife. That evening my husband stopped by at his parents’ house and they invited him to go out with them for dinner. He called to invite me to join them. Even though I had supper prepared, I gladly accepted the invitation.

My mother-in-law screamed in the background that the invitation was meant for her son, not for me. I told my husband to go, but I was very hurt.

As I have always had a close relationship with my mother-in-law, I do not understand why she is acting this way toward me. Further, my husband and I have a very loving relationship. So why is she trying to divide us? Why would my in-laws invite only my husband to the baseball game and then invite only him to eat out with them?

I have not said anything to my in-laws about this, and we are speaking with each other as if nothing happened. But the pain in my heart is so great. I always loved my mother-in-law and was very close to her. We shared a loving relationship before all this happened. Please help me handle this situation.

Heartbroken Daughter-in-Law

Dear Heartbroken:

I feel your pain and understand your feeling of being upset with your in-laws’ actions. But if they have always been good to you, it would be prudent to think about this situation from another perspective, namely that perhaps the baseball game incident was all a big misunderstanding. Maybe your in-laws thought that you understood that they only had one extra ticket and thus invited your husband. While it may not be the nicest thing to do, it is not terrible for your in-laws to want to spend time with their son.

In-laws should certainly treat their in-law children like their own children, with love and respect. After you and your husband went home, perhaps your in-laws felt hurt by what they perceived as a slap in the face – after offering your husband a “gift.” Maybe they did not see things from your perspective and did not understand why you were so upset that you made your husband go home. This may have led them to believe that you were controlling him.

It appears that your in-laws’ behavior was inappropriate, but we must always try to see things from the viewpoint of others and be dan l’kaf zechus (giving people the benefit of the doubt). Since you are obviously still upset about the situation, it would be best to ask your in-laws when it would be convenient for all of you to talk about what happened. When you meet, calmly tell them that you love them very much and want to have a good relationship with them. Explain to them that you felt hurt when you got to their house and realized that they were going to the game without you. Explain that maybe it was a misunderstanding, but you expected to have some company and not be left alone all day with the children. If you are really courageous you might even apologize for leaving, but clarify that you were reacting to feeling hurt and upset. You can also tell them that you felt hurt when they excluded you from joining them and your husband for dinner.

It’s My Opinion: Tantrums

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

The recent loss by the Knicks in game two of their playoff series with the Miami Heat resulted in more than the loss of a basketball game. In an explosive postgame meltdown, Knicks star Amare Stoudemire lost control and punched the glass case of a fire extinguisher. His outburst led to 15 stitches in his hand. Stoudemire left Miami bandaged up and wearing an arm sling.

Tantrums, unfortunately, are not just the behavior of frustrated toddlers. Many adults give themselves permission to act out their anger. An explosive tantrum is always a terrible way to deal with a vexing situation.

During a tantrum the thinking part of the brain simply shuts down and the primitive reactionary component kicks in. Psychologists agree that neither promises of incredible gifts nor threats of dire punishments are effective once a child is in the throes of a frenzy. This shutdown occurs in tantrum throwers of all ages. The trick to averting this occurrence is, of course, not to allow one’s anger to rage out of control. Anger management skills are essential.

Jewish tradition treats the results of acting on anger in a very serious way. Rambam warns of the consequences of this phenomenon in a letter of counsel to his son. He writes of the importance of controlling rage. Our sages admonish, “If one becomes angry, if he is a prophet, his spirit of prophecy will be removed from him.” It is common sense to understand that if an individual’s mind is not letting him see the present clearly, it would be impossible for him to have the clarity to see the future.

Amare Stoudemire wound up with a bloody hand and as a derided target for tabloid headline writers. He said, “I am so mad at myself right now. I want to apologize to the fans and my team….”

It’s normal for human beings of all ages to experience a full range of emotions. Anger is one of them. People are “wired” differently and can respond differently to the same provocation. Our job is to harness our reactions and attain mastery of our own behavior.

NCFJE’s Toys For Children: Bringing Cheer To Those Who Need It Most

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Huge plush teddy bears greet me as soon as I walk through the door. Puzzles line the shelves along with boxes of Lego and dress-up clothes. Every few inches another toy. Another game. Another child’s dream.

I finger a strand of colorful beads and imagine a little girl, whose hair has fallen out due to medical treatments, putting the necklace over her head with the brightest smile. The Battleship game my friends and I have fond memories of playing with as children – perhaps it will go to a paralyzed boy to play with when his classmates come to visit him at the hospital.

While walking through FAO Schwarz makes anyone’s heart beat a bit faster, walking among the toys carefully selected by director Rabbi Shloma Leib Abramowitz and coordinator Mrs. Baila Hecht of Toys for Hospitalized Children makes one’s heart beat with a powerful purpose. These toys will put smiles on the faces of so many children who presently have few reminders in their lives of what it means to be happy.

For so many youngsters, hospitals and rehabilitation centers all around the country have unfortunately become their reality. It is for these residents that such toys will bring some light and cheer.

Since its founding in 1954 as a project of National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education, Toys for Hospitalized Children has grown tremendously in its services and offerings. This year, during the holiday season extending from November through January, approximately 15,000 toys were distributed in the U.S. In addition to providing children in hospitals with toys, Toys for Hospitalized Children (THC) has expanded to cater to seniors, individuals living in shelters, all aged people with autism and special needs, infants and their destitute families, and others.

* * * * *

It’s holiday season when a group of girls arrives at the pediatric wing of Beth Israel Hospital in New York City. Arms laden with boxes of toys, the girls’ excitement is infectious.

In the main waiting room, Mrs. Hecht goes down the list of names with the girls and begins handing toys to them with personalized instructions. “This teddy bear is for 4-year-old Rachel in the corner room. You can give her this necklace too – the beads are large enough that she won’t hurt herself.

“Here, you will visit Bobby – wear this mask because his room must be germ-free – and give him this remote-operated helicopter. He will like it because his father is a pilot, and since he is bed-bound he can watch it soar around the room.

“And, give these to Stacy, please, in the second room down there on the left. She will love the princess stickers and dress-up gloves because she’s a girlie-girl, and since she has acute asthma this is better for her than the stuffed animals.”

Standing off to the side in the waiting room, sipping from a juice box, is a 10-year-old boy whose brother is sitting in a wheelchair before a television set, an IV bag hanging by his side. The big brother eyes the group with widening eyes – he’s never seen anything happy when visiting his sick brother here before. Suddenly spotting him, one of the students, at Mrs. Hecht’s encouragement, hands the boy a book he might enjoy. A smile quickly spreads across his face and he asks if he could have another that he can read to his brother. Then, armed with the two books, he wheels his wheelchair-bound brother to a quiet corner of the room and flips open one of the books to begin reading aloud.

Time and again Toys for Hospitalized Children brings sparkle and sunshine to the lives of people of all ages. While the allocation of goods is non-denominational, Mrs. Hecht ensures that those who need them the most receive them right away.

(In addition to distributing toys to hospitalized kids, THC makes discrete handouts to needy families. Items are offered to seniors as well. While distributing gifts and jelly doughnuts on Chanukah this year to residents at Belle Harbor Manor, an assisted living facility in New York, a volunteer named Esther says she felt immense joy from seeing the recipients’ happy faces and warm handshakes.)

Children in hospitals all over the country can benefit from these gifts. All toy donations are altruistic in nature, but due to various limitations associated with distributing goods to ill patients in these facilities, new toys are the only kind that can be used.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/potpourri/ncfjes-toys-for-children-bringing-cheer-to-those-who-need-it-most/2012/05/09/

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