Archives for February 2009

Exercise the Jedi Way

List of Star Wars air, aquatic, and ground veh...

List of Star Wars air, aquatic, and ground vehicles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Earlier this week I succumbed to the Dark Side of the force. I was tooling down the 101 when I was cut off by a Mercedes whose driver was more engrossed in her cellphone conversation than upon driving.

So I extended my arm and used the Force to take the entire car apart piece by piece. Ok, I didn’t really do that, but I thought about it. I thought about it the same way I wished that I could use the Jedi Mind Trick to get out of a jam.

Somewhere in the archives is a post in which I describe my love for Star Wars and how my son has come to love it as well. Throughout the week we have mock light saber fights. It is kind of fun, we chase each other through the house pretending to be powerful Jedis.

But the big difference is that he is a little bit older than eight and I am just a hair short of 40. His little sister thinks it is hysterical to see her old man do somersaults and all sorts of other crazy gymnastic moves. When I started doing handstand pushups against the wall she really thought I was nuts.

Anyhoo, who knew that someone had taken the time to turn the Jedi way into exercise classes:

Thanks to a “Star Wars” enthusiast who goes by the moniker “Master Flynn,” the Jedi workout is the new way to fight the battle of the bulge. And now gym-shy geeks everywhere can finally fulfill their dreams of getting droid-like rock-hard abs.

Flynn was on the set Wednesday sharing his moves — including the Rebound, Follow-through and the Lock — with the TODAY family, who were all cloaked and armed with lightsabers.

Flynn, 38, started New York Jedi in 2005 after staging a fight with lightsabers at a Halloween parade in New York’s Greenwich Village.

“I had the idea to do a fight scene with my friends on the parade route. People were so impressed when they saw what we were doing, and they wanted to know where they could learn to move the way we did,” said New York’s resident Yoda.

After putting up a forum on his Web site,, Flynn says people from all over the world were asking questions and sharing information to better their own lightsaber skills.

The Force for fitnessIn early 2006, Flynn decided to teach a class on the art of lightsaber
battling, incorporating storytelling and choreography. The class started out with just a handful of students, but now has 30 to 40 people attending twice a week for two-hour sessions in New York. Word of mouth made the class so popular that Flynn also started, and has partners teaching classes in Los Angeles.

“This was never meant to be a fitness thing,” said Flynn. “The class was about appreciating swordsmanship and performance.”

Israel On College Campuses

Many Jewish college students have been struggling with the way Israel is treated on campus. It is becoming more common for adversaries of the state to hold anti-Israel demonstrations and activities on campus.

Quite a few of these activities are not friendly gatherings of students handing out flowers and suggesting that we just give peace a chance. Many are populated by rampant antisemitic commentary and false accusations about the misdeeds of Israel. Counter demonstrators routinely tell stories of being threatened, intimidation is routine.

The demonstrations rarely are balanced. You don’t attend them to hear speakers present both sides. They are hate rallies in which the speakers do their best to whip the crowd into a frenzy. They are part of a movement that is doing its best to delegitimize Israel and make it untenable to voice dissent for fear of repurcussions.

UCLA professor Judea Pearl wrote an essay that is worth reading.

…when an e-mail from a colleague at Indiana University asked: “Being at UCLA, you must know about this symposium … pretty bad.” Attached to it was Roberta Seid’s report on the now famous “Human Rights and Gaza” symposium held a day earlier at UCLA (see “UCLA Symposium on Gaza Ignites Strong Criticism,” Jewish Journal, Feb. 11, 2009).

To refresh readers’ memory, this symposium, organized by UCLA’s Center for Near East Studies (CNES), was billed as a discussion of human rights in Gaza. Instead, the director of the center, Susan Slyomovics, invited four longtime demonizers of Israel for a panel that Seid describes as a reenactment of a “1920 Munich beer hall.” Not only did the panelists portray Hamas as a guiltless, peace-seeking, unjustly provoked organization, they also bashed Israel, her motives, her character, her birth and conception and led the excited audience into chanting “Zionism is Nazism,” “F—-, f—- Israel,” in the best tradition of rhino liturgy.

Point of information: In the late 90’s I worked on campus at UCLA and have a few stories of my own about what was happening then. I was confronted several times by male students who suggested that it wasn’t safe for me to disagree with them. Perhaps I’ll share more about this later.

Pearl continues on and suggests that Jewish faculty members should have anticipated this and done more to try and help to steer the conversation so that it wasn’t so one sided. He writes about the many dilemmas presented by a society that tries to protect rocket launching terrorists and decries self defense.

And he discusses how it has become harder to be an outspoken Zionist for fear of the repurcussions.

These are dilemmas that had not surfaced before the days of rockets and missiles, and we, the Jewish faculty, ought to have pioneered their study. Instead, we allowed Hamas’ sympathizers to frame the academic agenda. How can we face our students from the safety of our offices when they deal with anti-Israel abuse on a daily basis — in the cafeteria, the library and the classroom — and as alarming reports of mob violence are arriving from other campuses (San Jose State University, Spartan Daily, Feb. 9, and York University, Globe and Mail, Feb. 13)?

Burdened with guilt, I called some colleagues, but quickly realized that a few have already made the shift to a strange-sounding language, not unlike “Honk, Honk.” Some have entered the debate phase, arguing over the rhino way of life vs. the human way of life, and the majority, while still speaking in a familiar English vocabulary, are frightened beyond anything I have seen at UCLA in the 40 years that I have served on its faculty.

Colleagues told me about lecturers whose appointments were terminated, professors whose promotion committees received “incriminating” letters, and about the impossibility of revealing one’s pro-Israel convictions without losing grants, editorial board membership, or invitation to panels and conferences. And all, literally all, swore me into strict secrecy — we have entered the era of “the new Maranos.”

I am sad to say that I wasn’t surprised by any of this. It is not so long since I was producing daily updates about the War in Gaza. In return I was repeatedly attacked on the blog and via email with some of the most hateful speech I can think of. I was called a racist and a nazi. I was told that the world would be a better place if I died.

People did their best to try and intimidate me. Intimidation is a central part of their tactics. It is what they do best. If you don’t toe the party line, if you dare deviate then you are attacked from every angle. Physical threats combined with attempts to ostracize you socially and professionally.

I’ll continue to advocate fair and balanced of criticism of all countries. Israel can and should be criticized. But when the Anti-Israel crowd continues to include epithets suggesting that Jews should go to the gas chambers and similar hate speech it is impossible to accept their claims that their criticism is not antisemitic. These types of attacks are attacks on all of us and must be opposed.

Unless we take action we are going to read more stories about intimidation at the universities. It is past time to draw a line in the sand and hold the universities accountable for activities that take place under their purview.

Crossposted on Yourish.

P.S. for those who are interested here is a link to some resources you can use to help educate people.

Attacked By A Dragon- He Lives to Fight Another Day

Ok, this guy’s day officially qualifies as being worse than mine. But I will say that the beast is lucky he didn’t find me or I’d have sixteen new pairs of boots and a belt.

“A park ranger in Indonesia needed more than 30 stitches after he was attacked by a komodo dragon.

The giant reptile managed to climb into a hut where 46-year-old Main was sitting at his desk.

The attack happened on Rinca, one of three islands where the world’s largest lizard can be found in the wild.

Main, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, wrestled with the komodo dragon until it let go.

He fled out a window as colleagues rushed to his aid, using wooden sticks to drive the lizard out of the hut.”

Jack Rants

No one really wants to listen to me rant and rave, but I feel better.

My Internet Connection

I think that I am going to send a note to AT&T to remind them I pay for Broadband and not dial up Internet service.

That means that I am supposed to have a constant connection to the net that allows pages to load at a speed that exceeds 24.4 Baud or even 56k.