Nationalism had been, before the war, a claim pressed by minorities against large multiethnic empires, but after Versailles it became a claim that minority groups asserted against one another.

– Yehuda Mirsky

Books of 2022: Night Passage

All meat and no pulp make a banal reader, and caviar always tastes better when you’ve reset your palette with a tuna salad sandwich every now and again. I keep a secret stash of self-indulgent and politically-incorrect reads by the likes of W.E.B. Griffin, Craig Johnson, and Robert Parker. These writers and many others like them remind us that sometimes a trashy novel is better than an arty film.

Think me lowbrow? Believe yourself the better person because because you would never be caught dead with a formula procedural or bodice-ripper? To you, then, say I: faithless is the holy man who ignores the divine within the profane, and benighted are the literati who are blind to the virtues of the meanest scribe.

Now excuse me while I, literary taste-buds thoroughly cleansed, dive into James Joyce’s Dublliners.

Achievement unlocked: Lose 130 lbs.

July 2016 starting weight: 355 lbs (161.4kg)

Goal weight: 220 lbs (100kg)

July 2019 weight: 219 lbs (99.6 kg)


Total weight lost: 136 lbs (61.8 kg)

Thank G-d for small miracles and for helping me keep all of that extra poundage off for the past 3.5 years. For the record, appetite control and physical activity are a lot easier on the system than a banded stomach or a foreshortened intestine.

Sorry, Apple

In early December, I ordered an Apple Mac Studio desktop. I loaded it up with a top-end processor, tons of memory and storage, and even though it would take a month to get it, I ordered it anyway. $6k all in.

Right in the middle of Chanukah, I got a note from Apple saying sorry, your order is being delayed for another month. No explanation was provided. A year after launching the device, it was still taking months to produce.

So I spent just a little time digging into the issue. While I found no official announcements, I was led to suspect that Apple was facing one or both of two issues:

• The COVID-19 outbreak in China hammered the Apple supply chain, and the company could not get the product out of the factories.
• There were undisclosed production or performance issues at the upper end of Apple’s homegrown silicon, the M1 Ultra chip.

So I thought about it for two days, went online, and canceled the order. This was not the right time to get a high-end Mac.

I skipped my mid-life crisis: I was too busy at work.

Or, as it now seems, perhaps I was just postponing it for retirement.

What’s Your Sign?

When we get together with a group of friends, often the conversation turns to the Chinese Zodiac and who is what sign. We talk about how Aaron is a Horse, like his grandfather, and how Sunny is a Goat, though also a bit of a Monkey. When it gets to me, I modestly note that I am a Dragon.

The last time we had this discussion, one of Sunny’s friends asked, “what kind of dragon: fire, wood, earth, water…” Sunny felt compelled to look over at me disparagingly and volunteer, “he is a Gas Dragon.”

Given how my digestive tendencies have evolved of late, I find myself unable to contest this.

Later, looking through my Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Monster Manual, I found one. Picture appended.

The good news is that the next time I run a D&D adventure, I have the perfect beast or NPC to drop in at level 12.

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