The 1931 gangster movies “The Public Enemy” and “Little Caesar” were just on TV (TCM), and that made me think of this week’s Torah portion. Really.
But first, what happens in this portion: Yitro sees his son-in-law Moses trying to manage all the Israelites’ disputes himself and teaches him about delegation and hierarchical judicial organization. The Lord has Moses transmit these soothing and encouraging words (19:4-6): ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Me. 5Now then, if you will obey Me faithfully and keep My covenant, you shall be My treasured possession among all the peoples. Indeed, all the earth is Mine, 6 but you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ The Lord is trying, gently, to prepare the people for what is about to happen. They’ve had several weeks now to absorb, and decompress from, the mind-blowing events surrounding the Exodus from Egypt, but what’s coming now is Revelation – the Lord will come down on the mountain. I don’t think Moses told them that part explicitly, nor about the accompanying ram’s horn blowing, thunder, lightning, and synesthesia. And so the people freaked out and very probably heard little or nothing of the Ten Commandments being presented to them, delegating that task to Moses.
Why all the fireworks? That brings me back to the aforementioned movies (see?). “The Public Enemy” made James Cagney a star as he pushes half a grapefruit into Mae Clarke’s face; who remembers who played his goody two-shoes brother Mike? “Little Caesar” is arguably Edward G. Robinson’s best known movie; I don’t remember who else was in it. Accompanying such movies was often a placard from Warner Brothers, saying that the movie wasn’t meant to glorify such thugs, but depict them and their fates honestly. But they are glorified. They’re endlessly clever, resourceful, daring, and fascinating. It is difficult to present Goodness in a compelling way (except maybe as a rescue from Evil). And so, when the Lord presents the Israelites with a contract of laws dictating how to be good, perhaps all the noise and lightning and cloud was necessary to get them to take this really, really seriously and never forget it. But, as we’ll see, it was probably too much for them, so they absorbed the noise but not the content.
Top 20 Management Terminologies
A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT APPROACHES ARE BEING TRIED – We are still p**sing in the wind.
EXTENSIVE REPORT IS BEING PREPARED ON A FRESH APPROACH TO THE PROBLEM – We just hired three kids fresh out of college.
CLOSE PROJECT COORDINATION – We know who to blame.
MAJOR TECHNOLOGICAL BREAKTHROUGH – It works OK, but looks very hi-tech.
CUSTOMER SATISFACTION IS DELIVERED ASSURED – We are so far behind schedule the customer is happy to get it delivered.
PRELIMINARY OPERATIONAL TESTS WERE INCONCLUSIVE – The darn thing blew up when we threw the switch.
TEST RESULTS WERE EXTREMELY GRATIFYING – We are so surprised that the stupid thing works.
THE ENTIRE CONCEPT WILL HAVE TO BE ABANDONED – The only person who understood the thing quit.
IT IS IN THE PROCESS – It is so wrapped up in red tape that the situation is about hopeless.
WE WILL LOOK INTO IT – Forget it! We have enough problems for now.
PLEASE NOTE AND INITIAL – Let’s spread the responsibility for the screw up.
GIVE US THE BENEFIT OF YOUR THINKING – We’ll listen to what you have to say as long as it doesn’t interfere with what we’ve already done.
GIVE US YOUR INTERPRETATION – I can’t wait to hear this bull!
SEE ME or LET’S DISCUSS – Come into my office, I’m lonely.
ALL NEW – Not interchangeable with the previous design.
YEARS OF DEVELOPMENT – It finally worked!
LOW MAINTENANCE – Impossible to fix if broken.
ITS IN TESTING RIGHT NOW- we have no idea how to do this.
WE ARE USING FOCUS GROUPS EXTENSIVELY- Maybe they know how it’s done.
OUR ONLY OPTION IS TO REENGINEER THE PROCESS- How else can we justify firing most of the existing staff without looking like complete idiots.
Mae Clarke (excerpts)
Feb. 7, 2010 — There are few actresses whose entire career is remembered by one scene, and fewer still who are so completely and forever linked to a citrus fruit. But say the word “grapefruit” to any film fan, and the name of only one actress will come to mind — Mae Clarke, who appeared in more than 100 films and TV shows, but who will always be best remembered as the woman who took a grapefruit in the face from James Cagney in “The Public Enemy” (1931).
That scene, and that film, made Cagney a star, and it followed both Cagney and Clarke for the rest of their lives. Whenever Cagney was in a restaurant, someone would invariably send a grapefruit to his table. “The Public Enemy” was a huge hit. At a theater in Times Square in New York City, it ran continuously, 24 hours a day. Clark’s ex-husband, Lewis Brice (brother of Fanny Brice), said he would go into the theater just to watch the grapefruit scene, then leave. In “Great Guy,” (1936) Cagney and Clarke filmed a scene in which they were pushing trays through a cafeteria. Cagney said to Clarke, “The grapefruit is good here.””No, thanks,” said Clarke. “I’ll take ice cream.” When the filming stopped, Clarke picked up a grapefruit and smashed it in Cagney’s face, laughing and saying, “That’s something I’ve been wanting to do for five years.” Laughing as he wiped off his face, Cagney replied, “OK, pal — we’re even.”
Posted by Steinn Sigurðsson on July 8, 2012
In which we remind people of the Ten Commandments of the God Particle.
Now with added footnotes.
I I am the Higgs. Thou shalt have no other Higgs before me.1
II Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the HIGGS thy God Particle am a jealous God Particle, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me. 2
III Thou shalt not take the name of the Higgs thy God Particle in vain3
IV Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.4
V Honour thy fermion and thy boson5
VI Thou shalt not annihilate.6
VII Thou shalt not two-time.7
VIII Thou shalt not steal.8
IX Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.9
X Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s mass nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.10
So mote it be.
1 Orthodox, or Standard Model, theosophers interpret this commandment literally; Reformists who believe in Grand Unification have a complex explanation for how this really means the Higgs is One in Three and the Singlet is really a Trinary; modern theosophers tend to consider this a subtle mistranslation referring to Unitarity, especially those who espouse the Landscape Interepretation of modern theophysics.
2 Modern theosophers tend to quietly ignore this, the most complex of the commandments, though the Schwingerites still insist it precludes the use of Feynman diagrams.
Modern theophysicists tend to think this is a revelation of the number of flavour generations; while ultra-orthodox theosophers have argued that this prohibits neutrino detectors and such like and argue that theosophy should return to pure theoretical contemplation.
3 I am doomed.
4 Modern theosophers forget that until just a generation ago physics experiments were shut down at beer o’clock on Fridays for the weekend. This is another of the commandments that is no longer observed except by the ultra-orthodox who refuse to even scribble on a lined notepad on their day off.
5 One word: Anyons?
O tempora, o mores.
6 The orthodox still use this commandment to continue to argue against the ILC; but most theosophers argue that this is meant to forbid private annihilation by civilians on a retail basis, unless of course necessary to prevent one’s own annihilation or that of others. Correspondingly most theosophers accept annihilation en masse, by professional theosophers only, of course, under the jurisdiction of a legitimate civil authority, if in a good cause, as rationalised by Lawrence in his classic tract on concept of the “Good Annihilation” and blessed by CERN.
7 This apparently superfluous prohibition on closed timelike curves has long puzzled theosophers. Some suggest it speaks to the tachyonic nature of the naked Higgs, others consider it a mere tautology.
8 Theft is of course absolutely prohibited, if it is of real massets. Modern theosophy has long appreciated the distinction between this and virtual theft, which is necessary to keep things normalized. Reformers feel that finanical theosophers have taken the concept to an excess.
9 Modern theosophy considers this a cryptic allusion to the so-called accidental symmetries and associated quantum number. Reformers of the GUT persuasion keep pushing the false decay heresy, which enjoyed brief popularity during the hedonistic era.
10 Many non-theosophers consider this commandment redundant, but advanced students of theosophy understand that this commandment is what underpins the hierarchy on which we depend and is the most inviolate of them all.
The final items are from 2001:
Moses made a third pilgrimage to Mount Sinai. After much climbing he arrived at the burning bush and removed his sandals. Kneeling down, he said a prayer of entreaty:
“Oh mighty God, your people have sent me back to ask you a question about the Ten Commandments.”
“What question do they have?” roared the deity above.
“They want to know, are they listed by priority?”
The Ten Commandments of E-mail
Thou shalt include a clear and specific subject line.
Thou shalt edit any quoted text down to the minimum thou needest.
Thou shalt read thine own message thrice before thou sendest it.
Thou shalt ponder how thy recipient might react to thy message.
Thou shalt check thy spelling and thy grammar.
Thou shalt not curse, flame, spam or USE ALL CAPS.
Thou shalt not forward any chain letter.
Thou shalt not use e-mail for any illegal or unethical purpose.
Thou shalt not rely on the privacy of e-mail, especially from work.
When in doubt, save thy message overnight and reread it in the light of the dawn.
And, here’s the “Golden Rule” of E-Mail:
That which thou findest hateful to receive, sendest thou not unto others.