Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The World is Too Much With Us

The day began with news of a bomb attack on the Askariya mosque in Samarra, Iraq, an impressive, gold-domed house of worship, beloved by Shiite Muslims. The attack, which destroyed the mosque, managed to completely destabilize the country, resulting in rampaging riots, demonstrations and gangland-style violence against Sunnis Muslims, causing the deaths of about 15 civilians, including several imams.

By mid-day, talk was about Iraq being on the "brink of civil war." I hate to quibble with language, but I would offer a different word to describe what seems to be going on in Iraq right now and it would be pandemonium. Complete and utter chaos. Civil War is simply too, well, civilized, kinda like a planned thing. And are things really on the "brink" right now?? I'd say that the pandemonium in Iraq has some real momentum behind it. It is a living, breathing organism, fueled by a vengeance-bent, enraged nihilism.

Not that things are much better here in the US of UAE. Today's installment of the US port management drama revealed at least two terrifying facts:

  • That Bush might not have known anything about this deal until it was fait accompli.
  • And that, surprise, surprise, even without Osama's cousins controlling six US ports, only 5% of all containers coming into this country through our ports are even inspected.

How this is possible in a post 9/11 world under the watch of an Administration that loves to brag about how we haven't been attacked since 2001 defies my comprehension. If anyone can explain the situation to me, please weigh in below by pressing the comments button.

These are the questions that keep me awake and blogging at 1 a.m.

So, you might be wondering what all of this has to do with the picture of the cute and fluffy little Pomeranian puppy at the top of this entry. I'll tell you. The more insane the world becomes, the more essential becomes the time-honored role played by man's best friend. I'm completely serious here. As I write this blog in my dining room (because HOBB kicked me outta the bedroom, like, two hours ago, claiming that he wanted to go to sleep), I am saved from sheer despair by the presence of Alfie the Pomeranian, who is worriedly watching me as I file my post.

The scarier the news becomes, the more dependent I become upon my pint-sized Pom nestling in my lap, presenting his belly for a vigorous scratching and licking my feet when I return home from the gym. The picture up top is, in fact, exactly what Alfie looked like 6 years ago when we acquired him from a breeder in Liberty, NY, for Middle Babe's Bat Mitzvah. When the world is too much with me, I abandon it and enter into Alfie's realm of canine imperviousness.

It seems completely redundant to use the word cute together with Pomeranian, however, if you want a mega-dose of cuteness to help you overcome your angst, visit

A note of clarification. Rereading the above, I wonder if I gave the wrong impression that I have spent the night fretting about current world events and doing nothing else. Not so!!! For one thing, I can happily report to having been a guest at the sumptuous residence of President Lee Bollinger of Columbia University to celebrate the creation of the Institute of Jewish and Israel Studies (see the resolution at

The event was quite lovely and moving, allowing the university's leadership to breathe a sigh of relief now that the horrible drama of last year involving certain members of the MEALAC department and student accusations against them is long past. Professor Yosef Yerushalmi spoke elegantly in gratitude for the university's decision of naming a chair after him and I had a thoroughly enjoyable time chatting with members of the Columbia faculty and Jewish community, some of whom are personal friends.

Yet as I stood talking with a Jewish Studies professor and author, he pointed out a puzzling detail in the carpet upon which we were standing. And that is the pattern of swastikas around the perimeter of the carpet, woven into the rug most innocently, no doubt hailing from some pre-Nazi dynasty, perhaps India, or even Iraq, land of the legendary flying carpets.

But I quickly forgot about those pre-Nazi swastikas when I returned home to cook dinner for the clan (hamburgers, sauteed green beans and walnuts, pasta and salad), hang out with Little and Middle Babe and HOBB. I didn't think about them as the Colbert Report was getting underway and Alfie ran barking to the front door to herald a surprise visit from Big Babe (aka Adam) who had come from his dorm on East Campus to pick up some dry cleaning and say hi.

I didn't think about the swastikas at all, actually, until now, when I was reminded of them while composing this post. I am certain that they bear no significance, only a hint of irony, appearing weirdly underfoot at an event that attests to the eternal nature of Jewish history.

1 comment:

Ari Goldman said...

Alfie gets his picture in and not me???? i guess he's your favorite and i'm in the doghouse (permanently). anyway, this is a very good posting, with some precious lines. i'm here to tell you that you will soon be able to expand your photo repertoire. my new digital camera has arrived! demonstration later tonight.