Your RDA of Irony

Happy New Year

And now, from the people who brought you monotheism, psychoanalysis and the atomic bomb (you must have noticed the similarities) it is the year 5772!

Of course, there is no scientific or historical justification for that number. The Jews have only been around for 3500 years, and the world is somewhat older than 5,772. Yet, that number is not a zany choice or an arbitrary guess. As Milton Friedman explained in his classic work “How Little To Tip a
Waitress Before She Spits in Your Food
“, the market will inevitably determine the correct value of everything. So it has to be 5772 if the Jews are willing to buy that.

But how did the Jews originally come up with such a paltry amount for the age of the world? When the chronology was first calculated–21 centuries ago–it seemed a reasonable sum. At the time, Rome only claimed to be 600 or so. Even Egypt couldn’t go back farther than 3,000 years. So, allowing for six days of creation, Methusaleh, 40 years in the desert, 4,000 years seemed a plausible total. (The Greeks had found the skeletons of very large reptiles but that only proved the existence of dragons.)

Even if the ancient Jews had known that the world actually was over 4 billion years old, they would have had trouble writing that large a number. The concept of zero did not yet exist. Yes, Jews did have a vague equivalent to the zero: the nebbish; but nebbish really was more of a metaphysical concept than a mathematical one.

So 21 centuries ago, our chronology was the best we could do. All right, now we know better. Happy 4,500,000,000th New Year might be precise, but 5772 has more eccentric charm.

As we look forward to a new year, let’s mingle nostalgia and nausea over the events of the last year.

We lost Amy Winehouse and can’t get rid of Eric Cantor.  With that smarmy personality, he probably still gets beaten up for his lunch money.  Of course, he would tell himself, “Wedgies are good for your posture.” While Eric was certainly was the most irritating Jew of the year, he actually was an improvement over the previous winner Ben Stein.  Two years ago, you couldn’t avoid the smug, smirking Stein on every television commercial.   “Hi, I’m Ben Stein, and I’m the reason that you’d want a good credit rating, clear refreshed eyes, and a $400 a month bill from Comcast.”  I am surprised that he didn’t foist himself on Jenny Craig:  “Hi, I’m the reason that Valerie Bertinelli left Eddie van Valen and wants to lose 40 pounds.”  Being surrounded by Republicans, Stein would have an exaggerated notion of his brilliance–any high school graduate would– but where did he get the idea that he was adorable?  Standing next to Eric Cantor?

The most embarrassing Jew of the past year was Anthony Weiner.  A congressman should keep in touch with his constituency, but where exactly does he want to be touched?  From a Jewish perspective, however, Weiner’s greatest outrage was waxing his chest.  For Jewish men, body hair is our claim to virility.  Even we Reform Jews still grow beards; they just happen to be on our backs. Sages study our ear hair for interpretations of the Kabala.  But that preening coxcomb Weiner has betrayed four thousand years of tradition and follicles. I hope that at least he waxed with a Yahrzeit candle.

As in any year, we won our usual 200 Emmys.  With categories like best agent for a make-up man, we never miss our quota.  This last year’s Nobel Prizes were a bit unnerving, however. Gentiles won in all the real categories–even medicine. We were about to take credit for one Jewish great-grandmother of physicist Andre Geim. Fortunately, we always have economics as a consolation prize. The winner–and our savior–was Peter A. Diamond. Diamond had the additional distinction of being rejected by Senate Republicans for a position on the Federal Reserve Board.  Apparently, having a Nobel Prize in Economics is not as impressive as having read the Cliffs Notes for “Atlas Shrugged”.

Finally, we end the year 5771  by thanking our cousin Jesus for-once again–not having a Second Coming. If He returned, three-quarters of the world would be proved wrong. But we might take it personally. Even worse, His Believers wouldn’t be too thrilled. The Protestants would be furious that He is a liberal. Furthermore, no one would be very happy that He looks more like Ben Stiller than Jude Law. And guess whom they would blame! We certainly can wait for that.

So, it is another year for Western Civilization’s Longest Running Road Show. Still under original management!

p.s.  Let’s not forget the this week’s historic significance–or at least my inventory of pedantics:

September 25:

September 27:

September 30:


  1. Peg Pruitt says:

    L’shanah tovah, Eugene!

    • Eugene Finerman says:

      I suppose that my year end summary of 5771 should have included Rachel Weisz abandoning Darren Aronowsky and running off with Daniel Craig. The irony is that I feel sorry for Craig. Weisz always seemed rather smug–a Jewish Anglican Princess. Is there an A-E-Phi house at Oxford?


  2. Meshuggenonny says:

    “The Greeks had found the skeletons of very large reptiles but that only proved the existence of dragons.”And the existence of truly larger than life “heroes”, whom they re-buried with the pomp befitting the circumstance whichever city/hamlet found itself in. They usually found themselves in need of more importance — You are a very shPEcial region! — among the competition, as well as more entertaining stories to nod off with. Sometimes relic hunters came upon sets of bones that didn’t quite make sense to their modern minds. These were, of course, the remains of Minotaur, Chimera, Manticore, Satyr, Sirens, and etc. The aforementioned dragons would thoughtfully leave their teeth behind should any prince find himself in need of an army, by the way. I recently took a look at a vase depicting Andromeda and she was facing this monster coming out of a cliff (a popular resting place for dem bones) by the sea, and the darned thing was nothing less than a meticulous rendering of a dino head, replete with sharp teeth.

    “The Protestants would be furious that He is a liberal.”
    Well, only a certain segment of the Protestants. Those that are too lazy to read or to think, and those that never did find much good in any fancy book-learnin’. If the Acts of the Apostles isn’t a chronicle of a socialist commune (eek!!!) then I am Hercules of the Mastodons. The majority of us Protestants would only be furious to find Him not as enthused as we’d like in conforming to the particular and singular version of Liberalism, or Progressive Credo (a mere “liberal” with a lowercase L … tsk tsk), that we’ve each worked out for our dictatorial selves. And thus He would prove Himself unworthy of our further attention and be dismissed as “out of touch” and “insufficiently caring”.

    Also, why do the Catholics (look into their voting record please!) get a free pass? I do protest … mildly. You should meet this Catholic friend of mine (who had traveled all the way to Rome to study his theology) who keeps referring to their equal opportunity pedophile priests as “the gay problem” within the Church. They’ve got themselves a moral crisis of biblical proportions and can see only the sundial indicating that it’s that time to flagellate The Gays, again. He is also furious that the first Christians were Jews, as was The Son of Man himself. I believe a certain Castilian Queen, of inevitability and viciousness, had felt much the same.

    — a reader stopping by to say her MAZEL!!!!!!!

    • Eugene Finerman says:

      Welcome Meshuggenonny. To what do we owe the pleasure of your erudite company? Let me guess: you were trying to google nude photos of David McCullough and somehow this website was mentioned.

      Regarding the earliest Christians, I was thinking of them recently when I stumbled upon a broadcast of “Quo Vadis”. At best, they really would have looked like Rachel Weisz rather than Deborah Kerr. And I doubt that Peter would have had Finley Currie’s Scottish burr. On the other hand, Paul was plausibly played by Abraham Sofaer.


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