chaos and adventure.

We're in friggin' Redondo Beach, of all places. We left Santa Barbara for Avalon, on Catalina, and since there was no wind, we started motoring, and the water pump on the diesel broke (with a lovely bit of foul-smelling steam). So we limped 27 miles in 24 hours to make it here, making much headway by towing Scirocco (a 41-foot, 16-ton not-maneuverable sailboat) with our dinghy (a 9-foot inflatable massively overpowered by a 25-horsepower outboard).

I learned the other day that a nautical mile (which is what I mean when I say "miles") is precisely one minute of latitude or longitude. It made so much sense I almost keeled over.

I've been trying to keep up on the news a bit. I wonder why they're using anthrax--my impression has been that it's rather difficult to work with. The only thing I can come up with is that somehow, it was what was available, as opposed to smallpox or any of the other wonders of modern science. If I were Big Brother, I would look at all the intelligence I'm supposed to have on biological weapon stockpiles, and see what's easiest to get, rather than concentrating on the delivered letters and trying to trace them backwards. Someone, somewhere must think this way; but I don't know if they're in charge.

I hear occasional clips on NPR of President Dumbshit and his Band of Merry Morons. I hope history judges this nonsense appropriately, instead of whitewashing it as being, well, competent. I hope historians stand up and say "This President was an absolute idiot, and presided over one of the more turbulent periods of American history, and probably made it worse." I hope they stand up and say "In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, America continued to refuse to look at its own policies and how they affect the rest of the world, instead focusing on more bullying tactics." I hope they write the truth.

I'm reading a large tome called Essential Judaism, by George Robinson. It's highly recommended for anyone like me who has lacked a real understanding of the depth and scope of Judaism, what the rituals are like, what the texts are, why Orthodox men don't touch women, what the hell are those fringes on the prayer shawls, and why are the kosher rules as they are. I just finished the section on the origins and history of rabbinic Judaism (the rabbis who codified the law and developed ways of making legal and religious judgements out of Torah), and god damn, the rabbis make every Christian Bible commentator I've ever seen, from Augustine and Jerome on down, look like absolute amateurs. The intellects of these men--Maimonides, Akiba, Rashi--make Christian commentators look like narrowminded academic lightweights.

This week's fun Bible verse is Leviticus 23:39-43, the origin of the Jewish festival of Sukkot:

39 "On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall keep the feast of the LORD seven days; on the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest.
40 And you shall take on the first day the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.
41 You shall keep it as a feast to the LORD seven days in the year; it is a statute for ever throughout your generations; you shall keep it in the seventh month.
42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days; all that are native in Israel shall dwell in booths,
43 that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God."

In other words: "You shall dwell in booths so that your generations will know that I made you dwell in booths." Really, what's not to enjoy there?

Time to go--time's running out at the library. Hopefull we can actually going to San Diego this time. :-)