December 21, 2008

Link Liberation

I added falling snow [for a few hours on Sunday] in honor of the Winter Solstice, to go with the sparkly red date effect, the night sky, the Christmas tree in the corner and the odd ornament. I am trying to be tasteful here [sound of hysterical laughter], so there will probably be no Santa's sleigh crossing the blog, etc. Probably not.

Topic. In recognition of the solstice and the gift-giving season, here are some links. First things first: to give credit where credit is due, Janeen of Smartdogs is responsible for that fine Winter Solstice post [with its Cahiers du cinéma-worthy video].

The revolutionary border collie poster shown above left is from Obey the Pure Breed. [You'll note that some breeds are more equal than others.]

These Creatures of Seattle came up with a slick new idea for a raised feeder. [H/T: GrassrootsModern.] Easy to clean underneath, and the designs rock.

Over at the green-design-is-good-design blog Inhabitat, Cooper the border collie/Lab mix checks out Ruff Wear's eco-sensitive gear for dogs, and Bridgette Steffen kindly translates Cooper's review into English.

Carol of [beautifully designed] Frogdogs provides a most excellent video of gifts to avoid giving. Though I agree that the gift at 1:57 would make me very, very happy.

Heather at Raised by Wolves recently posted one of the best working-dog vids ever, and I'm not just saying that because a certain border collie of my acquaintance would snap at any stranger foolish enough to interrupt her when she was working. [I snap at people who interrupt me when I'm working.]

Kat Urbigkit has a wonderful post on LGDs at Querencia, with super photos.

Sam will turn 20 — 20! — in March. Read Maureen's beautiful post about her old dog at Raven's Nest, and enjoy [sniffle] the beautiful photo of Sam with his dear kind face and grey muzzle.

Further afield: in celebration of 25 years publishing great reads, 4th Estate [a division of HarperCollins] commissioned an animated video from Apt Studio. It's called This is Where We Live, and it's wonderful — absolute book city.


Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, which gives me an excuse to bring up the concept of tzedakah — often mistranslated as "charity." Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater writes:
Torah calls on us to "appoint judges and magistrates in all our gates, the places that God gives to you, and you shall judge the people with righteous justice (mishpat tzedek)" (Deuteronomy 16:18).

What does "righteous justice" mean?

Commenting on this verse, the great 19th century master, Chatam Sofer, says it relates to a verse from the prophet Hosea [...], a line about God betrothing us with justice (tzedek), law (mishpat), kindness (chesed) and compassion (rachamim), which we say while putting on tefillin in the morning. According to a midrash, God provides the world with kindness and compassion, and we provide justice and law, thereby creating a balanced and holy alliance. It's a tangible and beautiful way of conceptualizing the covenant between divinity and humanity. Chatam Sofer goes on to say that "God gives us space to create homes, societies and communities, out of love and compassion, and it is up to us to create them with justice and righteousness, by creating laws that are fair and just for all members."

This is the true meaning of tzedakah: not charity, but justice.

There may be no blessing greater than the opportunity to help feed a hungry child, and Menu for Hope, brainchild of the most excellent foodie Pim of the famous web site, feeds thousands:
Last year's Menu for Hope raised over $90K. In case you're wondering about what happened to that money, here's a little report from the World Food Program.

It bought 388,000 meals in Lesotho schools, which fed over 19,000 poor hungry children with school meals for a whole month. The children received food in primary schools across the remote mountainous areas of Lesotho, which are the poorest and hungriest parts of the country.

Some of the money was used to buy food from local small scale farmers practicing sustainable farming methods in remote areas, providing them with guaranteed market for their products. In 2007, the WFP bought 8 tons of maize from local farmers. In 2008, with the funds from Menu for Hope 4, we bought 36 tons of maize from small scale farmers, four times as much as the year before.
You have until December 24 to buy raffle tickets for these great items, including cookbooks, cooking lessons, food, wines, coffees, food tours of Florence and Milan and Nice, a vacation in Napa Valley, terrific meals in restaurants from Europe to Australia, and much more. Everything is donated, which means all the money raised can be used to buy meals for hungry children. Don't think of it as charity. Think of it as justice.

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