Fox News is Losing Their Shit Because Chelsea Handler is Happily Child Free

Becoming a parent is a blessing. It is also a 24/7/365 job from birth until the child is self-sufficient. And yet, it is still forced on women, whether we want it or not.

Two weeks ago, Chelsea Handler guest hosted The Daily Show. One of the segments was about her decision to not have children.

As expected, the right and Fox News couldn’t handle it. In their “outrage”, the obvious (as was discussed on WNYC‘s All of It last week) is apparent to anyone with a reasonable amount of intelligence. For all of human history, motherhood was foisted upon us. Adding insult to injury is the lack of free/affordable childcare, the extreme rise price of college tuition, and the uneven access to healthcare/parental leave.

Having a kid is not like playing with a baby doll that is thrown into the toy chest at the end of the day. It is an all-encompassing task that requires everything that the adult has to give.

Since last summer, I have been spending time with friends who have a toddler. She is at the age in which she goes for everything in sight and has to be watched like a hawk. The last time I was there, my friend had to step out for a minute. I was happy to distract the baby, but I can only imagine the finagling that would have had to be done if I was not there. Multiply that by a gazillion and that is what it is like to be responsible for a young life.

Which is why Fox News and the right can shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.

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Bad Jews: A History of American Jewish Politics and Identities Book Review

There is an old joke about Jews:

Two Jews, Three Opinions

Bad Jews: A History of American Jewish Politics and Identities, by Emily Tamkin, was published last fall. Basically, it is a sociological study of modern American Jews while looking back on our history. Using over 100 interviews, she dives into what it is to be an American Jew in the 21st century. Going into topics such as Israel/Zionism, antisemitism, politics, social justice, and the level of religious observance, she creates a micro and macro image of a people that is far from a monolith.

I enjoyed this book. It paints a picture that reveals the diversity and unique religious/cultural makeup of members of the Jewish faith who call America home. It also (I hope) breaks the stereotype of what a Jew is and what a Jew isn’t.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Bad Jews: A History of American Jewish Politics and Identities is available wherever books are sold.

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Looking for Jane: A Novel Book Review

Pregnancy and abortion have been part of the human experience for eons. Unfortunately, they have been turned into cultural, religious, or political pawns for those in power to mold society as they see fit.

Looking for Jane: A Novel, by Heather Marshall, was published this month. The story takes place in three timelines that eventually intertwine. In the early 1960s, Evelyn is an unwed pregnant teenage girl. She has been sent to a “home” to prepare for the birth of her child. Once she gives birth, she will return to her family as if nothing has happened. A decade later, she is a doctor and part of an underground network to provide safe abortions.

In 1980, Nancy makes two earth-shattering discoveries. The first is that she was adopted. The second is that she is pregnant and knows that she is not ready to be a parent. Without no one to turn to, she finds the Janes. After her procedure is done by Evelyn, she joins the group. But while is living a double life, her secrets weigh on her.

In 2017, Angela is a bookstore owner in Toronto. While she and her wife are desperately trying to get pregnant, she discovers a letter that opens the door to a decades-old mystery.

I loved this book. It was engaging, entertaining, and to be frank, it made me angry. Granted, drama makes for good fiction. But the real women’s stories behind the novel shouldn’t have occurred in the first place. It is a reminder that Roe v. Wade and other similar legalization is still a necessity.

Unlike last year’s Call Jane, the legal and medical danger in Evelyn and Nancy’s time is part and parcel of their experience. What the author does successfully ensure all of her protagonists have equal weight within the narrative. It is difficult to balance a tale of this kind with two storylines. Three is asking for trouble if it is not done properly. Thankfully, Marshall succeeds.

If nothing else, it is a reminder of how far we have come and how far we need to go.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Looking for Jane: A Novel is available wherever books are sold.

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Sanditon Character Review: Captain Declan Frasier

The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the book and the television show Sanditon. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

It’s hard to watch the one you love love someone else. There are only two things that can be done. The first is to try to move on. The second is to hope and wait that this person returns your affection. In Sanditon, Captain Declan Fraser (Frank Blake) is in love with Alison Heywood (Rosie Graham). But Alison only has eyes for another soldier, Captain William Carter (Maxim Ays).

Like Colonel Brandon before him, he is a stalwart to the end. Captain Fraser knows Captain Carter’s history, but remains silent. When he and Alison initially meet, he acts as if he doesn’t care. She thinks he is rude. Though he drops breadcrumbs about his feelings, Alison cannot see that he loves her. It is only after Alison nearly drowns and is saved by Captain Fraser (Captain Carter cannot swim), that truths are revealed. When we last see the Captain and Alison, they are married and looking forward to whatever life may bring.

To sum it up: Sometimes we have to get to know a person to truly know them. The slow revelation that is Captain Fraser reveals an honorable man who loves deeply and puts others first. This maturity and understanding mark him as a man worthy of Alison, but a husband (and future father) who knows where his priorities lie.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

I Agree With NJ’s Media Literacy Bill

Media literacy is defined as follows:

The ability or skills to critically analyze for accuracy, credibility, or evidence of bias the content created and consumed in various media, including radio and television, the internet, and social media.

Last month, New Jersey lawmakers passed a bill requiring media literacy as part of the K to 12 curricula. The statement from Governor Phil Murphy is as follows:

“Our democracy remains under sustained attack through the proliferation of disinformation that is eroding the role of truth in our political and civic discourse,” Murphy said in a statement. “It is our responsibility to ensure our nation’s future leaders are equipped with the tools necessary to identify fact from fiction.”

With misinformation (also known as fake news in some circles)becoming the standard over the last few years, it is easy to become consumed and question reality. While there are many Americans who are lost to these lies, we can still educate the next generation to prevent them from spreading even further.

In the Garden of the Righteous: The Heroes Who Risked Their Lives to Save Jews During the Holocaust Book Review

What is right and what is easy are two different things, specifically when it comes to making difficult decisions. Sometimes, you have to follow what you believe is right, even when it goes against the grain.

In the Garden of the Righteous: The Heroes Who Risked Their Lives to Save Jews During the Holocaust, by Richard Hurowitz, was published last month. The author tells the story of individuals who put their lives and the lives of their families in peril to save as many Jews as they could. Among the people profiled are Irena Sendler, Aristides de Sousa Mendes, and Gino Bartali.

Hurowitz did his homework. Each person is given the full workup. Their tales are told in human terms, revealing the person behind the story. Their bravery is one for the ages. They knew that the Nazis were bloodthirsty and barbaric. And yet, they put the lives of others before themselves. For that, they are true heroes and deserve the title Righteous Among the Nations.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

In the Garden of the Righteous: The Heroes Who Risked Their Lives to Save Jews During the Holocaust is available wherever books are sold.

The National Day of Hate is a Warning We Ignore at Our Own Peril

Red flags exist for a reason. They tell us that something is coming up that we need to pay attention to. If we choose to look away, we may not be able to prevent disaster.

Today, according to some Neo-Nazi groups, is supposed to be the National Day of Hate. As of last night, there were no specific locations or people named as targets. That does mean, however, that we should not be on our guard.

Across the country, Jewish institutions and law enforcement are on high alert.

If this is not the sign we need that antisemitism in the US (and the rest of the world in general) is right in front of our faces, then I don’t know what else needs to be said. I don’t want to be an alarmist unless it is necessary. But this is a necessity. It is akin to the Nazis burning books in the 1930s while the other nations remained silent.

Like many Americans, I was taught to believe in a nation of tolerance, equality, and understanding. While it is not all sunshine and roses, I still hold some hope that our ideals can still be achieved.

Today, that hope has faded a little. I don’t want to give in to the haters, but being afraid to go outside is a sure sign that they have won. The only way to stop them is to come together and say that they are not welcome in this country.

If they think that they have won and I will change to fit their perspective, they are wrong. I a Jew and I am proud of who I am. If you don’t like it, you know where you can go.

It’s Been a Year Since Russia Invaded Ukraine

The anniversary of the beginning of a war is nothing to celebrate. Lives have been lost, property has been destroyed, and people have been displaced.

This week is the one-year anniversary of Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine. To say that it has been a trying time is an understatement. Mainly for the citizens of Ukraine, but also for the rest of the world. Gas prices went up last year, forcing the price of everything else to go up. I know it sounds like a first-world problem and inconsequential compared to those who have been killed, but the world relies on gas for almost everything.

Vladimir Putin believed that he could take over the country and that would be that. He depended on the rest of the world looking away or just giving him what he wanted (a la the Germans being given a portion of Czechoslovakia in hopes of preventing World War II). Instead, the Ukrainians and their President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, have miraculously persevered, in spite of the odds.

One of the cliches about life is that our true character is revealed when times get tough. The Ukrainian people have proven to be stronger and more capable than I think many assumed they were. I fully believe that they will win. It is only a matter of time and the question of how many more will be slaughtered before peace occurs.

May the memory of those killed be a blessing. Z”l.

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Flashback Friday: A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

*I’m aware that we are well past the Christmas season. Helping our fellow human beings when life has handed them shit is not just limited to the end of December.

Human beings are capable of change. It is just a matter of whether or not they actively take on that change or they are forced to by unforeseen circumstances.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) is an adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol. Michael Caine plays the main character,Scrooge, a businessman whose only concern is profit. On Christmas Eve, he is visited by three spirits: one from the past, one from the present, and one from the future. By the end of the night, he has to make a decision. He will either embrace the spirit of the season and his fellow mortals or die as a lonely old man.

Caine was the perfect actor for this part. Though we all know the story, he brings the gravitas and life experience needed to fully play the role. Add in the muppets with their usual humor and it makes for a pretty good film.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Spare Book Review

Most, if not all families, have a black sheep. That person’s fate is sometimes sealed by the response from their loved ones. Hopefully, they are accepted and loved for who they are. But if they are, this person has a tough choice to make. They can either live their truth or hide who they are to fit in.

Spare is the memoir/autobiography by Prince Harry. Published at the beginning of the year, the narrative starts the day before his mother, Princess Diana, was killed in a car crash. Up to that point, he was a happy child who did not have the responsibilities of his elder brother, Prince William. That all changed on that fateful day in August 1997. Her death sent him on a difficult path of emotional discovery, growing up (and naturally making mistakes by extension), mental illness, and finally figuring life out on his terms.

Obviously, the book is solely from his perspective. Until we know the thoughts and feelings of the other parties, we can only go by the information we have.

It is telling that the book is dedicated to his wife, Meghan Markle, his children, and his late mother. What I took from it was that he was never truly allowed to grieve the loss of Princess Diana. Compounded over years and decades, this leads to behaviors that under other circumstances, would be thought twice about before proceeding. It didn’t help that he was growing up in the spotlight and every youthful mistake was tabloid fodder.

I admire Harry for having the courage to follow his heart, even if it means estrangement from his father, brother, and the rest of the Windsors. I’m sure that the decision was not easy. But if it meant the choice between being happy, so be it.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Spare is available wherever books are sold.

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