April 22, 2005

Just a Humongous Bucket of Eggs and Meat

Click "Extended Entry" for an even more random post than usual. Unifying thought: People who write the columns that appear on page B-1 of the paper have been using this format for ages. Blogs just let you do it a bit at a time. Yet another reason against blogosphere triumphalism.

--From the allegedly factual Onion A.V. Club's review of the game NARC:

When it was announced that the new NARC would feature characters using street drugs, people naturally wondered whether the game would send the wrong message.

So people are worried about whether a game that basically appears to be a first-person shooter will send the wrong message because it depicts drug use? Whatevs.

--So, on the second night of Passover, Bill Frist is participating in a telecast about how opposition to Bush's most extreme judicial nominees is part of an attack on "people of faith." Well, it's nice to have it out there: "People of faith" doesn't include Jews, or most Christians. (And, for those of you keeping track, Orthodox Judaism is not the only brand of Jewish faith.)

But that's not what bugs me. What bugs me is that both Jon Langford's The Executioner's Last Songs and the John Scofield/Brad Mehldau concert are on the first night of Passover, when I will be otherwise engaged. Drat.

--Speaking of Passover--and to my surprise vaguely relevant to the post title--my official policy is that I follow some of the Passover rules, but none of the non-Passover rules of Kashrut that I don't follow the rest of the year. I think this makes perfect sense. So: bacon cheeseburgers are OK, so long as I don't eat the bun. This strikes me as perfectly consistent.

I used to be fairly strict about the Passover rules: no rice, no legumes, no grain-based booze. (But non-diet products involving corn syrup were always OK. Diet pop is an abomination that the Lord never intended us to drink. You could argue that the Lord intended us to have sugar rather than corn syrup in our pop, but in a country dominated by Big Corn that's not an option.) But since that rules out pretty much everything I ordinarily eat, I would wind up consuming ridiculous amounts of eggs, and one year I found myself pretty light-headed by the end of the week. So rice and legumes are back in, probably. But no blatant bread, pasta, or beer. Fortunately hard cider passes my tests.

So if you see me at the APA eating funny and drinking Woodchuck, there's a reason.

--At Adam Kotsko's Weblog, Doug Johnson has an interesting post about the new Pope's theology. (But this is bothersome.)

--One reader won't like this.

--Possibly relevant to the epistemology of testimony, this story about how PR works. (via Unfogged)

But this bit verges on online triumphalism:

Whatever its flaws, the writing you find online is authentic. It's not mystery meat cooked up out of scraps of pitch letters and press releases, and pressed into molds of zippy journalese. It's people writing what they think.

And sometimes it's undisclosed paid operatives of a Senate campaign engaging in pure hackery. If you don't know about the astroturf blogging in the 2004 South Dakota Senate race (Daschle v. Thune), read this, this, and this. (I'm unfamiliar with the writer and site in the last link, but it seems well sourced.)

[LATE ADDITION: In a book called The World Is Flat, Thomas Friedman says "We're not in Kansas anymore?" Sheesh.

Posted by Matt Weiner at April 22, 2005 10:13 AM

Just call yourself Sephardic and the rice & lentils are back in (for precisely the reason that you experienced). Also, why no grain-based booze? Does wheat expand appreciably during fermentation? I know some hardcore people don't even eat matzo ball soup because the absorption of broth by the matzo is suspiciously like rising.

Posted by: ben wolfson at April 22, 2005 02:04 PM

It's more accurate to call me "Unwilling to endure that much convenience to avoid hometz" than to call me Sephardic, so as a lover of truth that's what I do. I'm not really sure why grain-based booze is out--I don't know if it's essential or contingent, like non-diet pop. As I remember the standard is something like you have to start cooking within 18 minutes of when the grain hits the water--maybe grain-based booze is out because you never start cooking.

Denying yourself matzo ball soup is just sick.

Posted by: Matt Weiner at April 22, 2005 02:21 PM

These same people deny themselves matzoh brei.

Posted by: ben wolfson at April 22, 2005 05:24 PM

Your rules seem consistent to me--basically they're about not being a hypocrite.

And I agree that not eating matzo balls b/c they appear to "rise" is not only ridiculously sad, but also actually very illogical and silly.

Posted by: bitchphd at April 26, 2005 01:36 PM

I wouldn't go for illogical and silly--a lot of the laws are derived from the text in similar ways. (All that two-sets-of-dishes business comes from an injunction not to boil the calf in the mother's milk, for instance. IIRC.) So if that's the way you want to follow the rules, that's the way you want to follow them. I have a hardish time explaining why I bother even as much as I do, anyway.

Posted by: Matt Weiner at April 26, 2005 02:18 PM