In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review December 25, 2013/ 22 Teves, 5774

'Her' and the fairy tale of technology

By Richard Cohen

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Samantha is her name, and she is truly, indescribably beautiful. Her voice is both lustrous and lusty. She is smart and insightful and so sweetly tempered that when her lover tells her that he’s sleepy, she pleasantly ends the conversation. She doesn’t demand to know what he did that day or insist that he dig deep for some unexpressed feeling or, more than likely, one not even felt. Samantha is the perfect woman, and when you meet her, you’ll agree. If you don’t, call the help desk.

Samantha — the voice and nothing more of Scarlett Johansson — is a star of the Spike Jonze movie “Her.” It is the story of Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), who falls for an OS (operating system) who (that?) over time adapts, learns and gets close to the man who summons her from the ether. This is a romantic tale — a man, a device and, after a while, an entranced audience.

I have seen an astounding number of movies in the past month. I can recommend many of them — “American Hustle,” “12 Years a Slave,” “All Is Lost,” “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Nebraska,” “Gravity” — but “Her” is in a category of its own. It is not about someone special up there on the screen — someone crazy or larcenous or brave, someone in outer space or alone on a boat — but you and me, especially if you’re a man. (I confess to not knowing if a “Samuel” is possible for a woman.)

Ever since the French sociologist Émile Durkheim introduced the concept of anomie in 1893, social scientists and their knockoffs, columnists, have been writing about the atomized society. We have seen the alienated man in countless movies, and he either goes on a killing spree or discovers the joys of a loving relationship. “Her” is different in that it recognizes that the cure for loneliness is technology — not social media, which are merely an extension of the suburbs, but the individual device, the one that’s uniquely yours, never mind that it was programmed offshore. This device will bring us closer not to other people but to ourselves. It is a vehicle for channeling narcissism.

The Narcissist Nation is all around us. You can see it in the ubiquitous selfie, an immodest photo of the self, or even in the cellphone picture in which the real subject of the photo is not the image in it but the person taking it: Look where I was. Look at what I did. This is also why people take pictures of celebrities. Gotcha! It makes them important. Once, people asked for an autograph. Now, they take a picture. Even-steven.

The Narcissistic Nation watches Fox News or MSNBC. This way it gets nothing but affirmation and is never challenged. It has its own blogs and tweets to the like-minded, is followed and friended by virtual clones, denounces and dismisses those of different opinions and demands that they be fired. The need is for a world much like themselves. How comforting. How gratingly bland.

The Narcissistic Nation has about 70 million dogs and 74 million cats and, while some of them are for helping — guard dogs, etc. — most offer the service of uncomplicated affection. They love you. They miss you. They listen to you and never criticize. I say all this as a dog lover. I have always loved my dogs and I expected them to love me. Wisely, they always have. (Smart doggie.)

“Her” does not have the feel of science fiction. Theodore is a believably lonely guy, separated from his wife, and, like most men, he lacks friends. He enters into the relationship with Samantha by degrees, and the sex is an organic part of their connection. Like us, he already spends much time interacting with devices, and so Samantha is not some giant leap into the fantastical — time travel, etc. — but the next, inevitable step. She’s a wonderful gal. She doesn’t care that the toilet seat has been left up.

Samantha is never seen. She will never age. She does not challenge Theodore. She listens to him and responds with a sultry version of himself. She is his mirror. The mythological Narcissus peered into a pool. The cinematic Theodore does it with an earbud.

I am about to get voice-recognition software for my computer. I talk to Siri and to my car, so I do not find it inconceivable that soon a Samantha is possible. The other day, after all, I got an e-mail from the Uber app that was signed “Love.” In the (near) future, they’d better be careful. My Samantha, like me, will be the jealous type.

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