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Showing posts from September, 2008

The power of a single word could sway a shidduch

Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behaviorby Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman (Hardcover - Jun 3, 2008) touches on a number of studies where planting a bias -- a label of a person fabricated for the sake of the psychological research -- determines how that subject will be assessed, whether for attractiveness, intelligence, liveliness, or amiability.

In one example, students were given a bio of a substitute before he entered their class. There were 2 versions of this bio; the only difference, though, was that one described him as "warm" and the other as "cold." After the class, students wrote up an assessment. All the ones who had been given the "warm" bio gave a positive review and all the ones with the "cold" bio gave a negative one -- two opposing views from students in the same class resulted from the bias that was planted. The authors mention the same type of dynamics could work for someone on a blind date. A certain remark might be…

Going Against the Sway in School

A really interesting and easy-to-read book my husband picked out is:
Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behaviorby Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman (Hardcover - Jun 3, 2008)
BTW the authors grew up in Israel and draw on studies in Israel for a few of their illustrations of the principle of sway. Among their examples is giving what one must know is the wrong answer in an experimental research study that purports to check for visual acuity but really tests the psychological or social sway phenomenon. In this experiment, people are hired to give the answer on a multiple choice that is obviously wrong. The results are that the real subjects of the experiment in that circumstances in most cases give the same wrong answer. These are not subjective questions but things like which of these 3 lines (all very different lengths) match the other line. Most people will second-guess their own judgments and follow the crowd even in something as objectively obvious as this.

Now for my own surpr…

Betsy is not Understood

A few years ago I checked the children's classic, Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher, out of the library for my girls to read. I read it myself and was struck by the educational component. One of the advantages Betsy gains by her country move is the education of a one-room schoolhouse. In the city, she was just given the books according to her grade level (she is 9 in the book) even though she is far advanced in English and somewhat behind in math. In the one-room schoolhouse, on the other hand, she is allowed to take the books that match her level. She is no longer forced into the mold of what is expected in fourth grade, but is free to do English above grade level and math below it without having to go through a process to label her learning disabled. It is, in other words, a Montessori approach. I didn't know that the author was familiar with that educational system. But according to the Amazon review: "Fisher is a wise, personable storyteller, steepe…

Money Matters and Marriage

See Sephardi Lady's post and the article she links to here:
http://orthonomics.blogspot.com/2008/09/love-marriage-and-money-hat-tip-larry.html
It is this very issue that underlies the Money Matters article paired with "Popping the Questions" in the latest issue of Kallah Magazine. To read it, see the previous post to link the pdf.

Fall issue of Kallah Magazine

It was printed and distributed in the 5 Towns, Queens, Brooklyn, Baltimore, and Teaneck. You can also see it online here: http://kallahmagazine.com/fall2008.pdf

Peyos perms

That's what a sign above a barber shop in Borough Park said. I guess it eliminates the hassle of daily curlers.

Carnival of Overdue Thanks

Unqualified statements and magazines' claims

First off, here's some news about Kallah Magazine. The fall issue was just printed and distributed. So you can pick up your free copy in the 5 Towns and Queens. It should be in Brooklyn and possibly Teaneck by the beginning of next week iy"H. Note the qualifier "should." I don't like to make absolute statements unless I can be absolutely -- that is 100% -- sure of the fact. That is why I didn't give the actual date for the magazine to come out until it actually was delivered. But such is not the thinking of others. Another magazine was also just distributed --its premier issue. That's right the very first issue of C----Magazine. Actually, based on the cover, I felt quite secure that it is intended for people, for whom, shall we say, finding an appropriately modest wedding gown is not a concern. It also has a website which extols the virtues of this new publication with the following:
C ---Magazine is the definitive guide to events, living, so…

Attacking with Restraint

The Abarbanel in his commentary on Parshas Shoftim offers two reasons for the ban on cutting down fruit trees during a siege. The first one is an optimistic one -- the tree can bear fruit for you in future, so you would not want to cut it down now. The second reason is more of an ethical lesson. He explains the words veoso lo tichros ki ha'adam etz hasade as signifying that it is not fitting to wage war against trees -- only against people. He elaborates that is not worthy for a hero to act mighty in fighting against a weak one. That is what it mean not to cut down the tree, which has no arms with which to fight. The tree also has no capability to seek refuge [lehikanes mifanecha bematzor] as a person can. See another post that reflects the Abarbanel's sense of the one in an advantageous position taking unfair advantage of the one in a weak position here: http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2008/05/torah-true-market-value.html

Helping someone avert a prison sentence =pidyon shvuyim?

I'm not sure the equation is correct. Has anyone tried to make the argument for the man who was in the news a lot and was just sentenced more harshly by the judge than he had to be? The following was posted on a shul list. I removed some phrases with names and put in bold the quote I find most striking. So what do you think?

I hope this e-mail finds you well.

I know everyone is beseiged with requests for Tzedaka, but this one
should not be ignored. Please act TODAY !!

A person I know has been caught up in "the net of the Manhattan D. A"
and was facing a plea bargain of 3-6 years in prison.

Because of his financial situation he felt helpless and all alone and
was willing to accept a prison sentence he did not deserve because he
lacked the funds to defend himself. I found out about this 2 weeks ago,
a week before he was going to sign the plea bargain.

B"H we now have an extremely competent attorney, __________, a
partner in_____________, who is handling the case and
has alrea…

Got the T shirt

Back around 1995 YU decided to demonstrate some holiday spirit by giving out T-shirts emblazoned with the university logo to the rebbeim, professors, and staff. From what I heard, rebbeim and perhaps some others were affronted by the gesture that put them in the same class as the janitors. So the gesture was never repeated -- at least not in the years that I remained on staff as an instructor of English at YU. But I still have the T-shirts, which has not seen much use until recently when I started wearing it to the gym. I throw a cardigan over as I make the 2 block walk over to get sleeve coverage but the logo can still be seen.

Today someone in the area whom I've been in business contact with remarked, "I didn't know you went to YU." When I explained that I taught composition and rhetoric, he said, "I respect you more now." Ah, beforehand I was regarded as just an airhead, I suppose.

Really, I don't even introduce myself as Dr. Brown, let alon…

Priorities and cleaning help

Sephardi lady did a frugality post that brings up the question of hiring cleaning help. See Orthonomics
Actually that is one of the considerations that was included in Popping the Questions that will be paired with the Money Matters feature "Saver or Spender, What's Your Score?" in the fall issue of Kallah Magazine. However, the questions for saver or spender did not include hiring cleaning help because there really is not a correct answer for this in total terms. It depends on one's situation. If both a husband and wife work as lawyers for 60 hours a week, let's say, there really may be no option but to hire cleaning help. The same is true for a family blessed with triplets. Even if not much money is coming in, there is so much required for the care of the babies that it may be impossible to cope with the housework. So there is certainly not a one-size-fits-all answer. Yet there can be an attitude that can be determined ahead of time. And, yes, should a …

first day of school, third day of school, & orientation

Today was my second grader's first day. It was my ninth grader's third day. And it was orientation day for my sixth and seventh graders. For me it was chauffeur and mom on home duty day. There was regular bus service for the elementary school. However, as I was driving in the junior high girls for their orientation, I also drove in my younger daughter. I also got to drive in my son because, though today was already the third day, no one seems to have told the buses to start. Apparently, whenever they are not on regular schedule, they do not contact the bus office about it. But, though they are getting dismissed earlier this week, they are still starting regular time. And as school has started nearly everywhere by today, there really was no reason not to activate the busing for the high school.
Anyway I knew I had to go out again to the school at 11 to pick up the girls from orientation. I also got to pick up a classmate of one of my daughters whose mother was tied up …

There are some smart young couples out there

On Sunday, we visited in New Rochelle. I noticed a wedding invitation out and remarked on the fact that it like the last several ones I've received was as plain as can be. It was just printed in Hebrew and English on basic ivory stock with no color, extra lining or even a monogram. Elaborate invitations can be beautiful but usually cost $5 a piece or even more. On a large run, the plain ones would cost less than $1 a piece. That translates into hundreds of dollars in savings. Another thing that shows smart thinking is where the young couple registered. I was told that in that area they no longer register at places like William Sonoma or Tiffany's but at Bed Bath and Beyond, where they pick out the most mundane of practical items like trash cans. Ms. Maven would be most pleased, as that is what the column in the summer issue of Kallah Magazine advised -- don't register at overpriced stores and select from stores like Bed Bath and Beyond that are more fairly priced an…