The Jew News Review – November 13, 2021 – The Metaverse is lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep

Shabbat shalom to you all! Quick shout out to new member, Steve Holtzman, who will be my partner in a new enterprise we will be launching soon, “Mensches with Wrenches”. More to come on this exciting new chapter in my career!

But today, I want to talk about the metaverse. You have probably been reading a bit about it, especially after Facebook’s Zucker-moron announced Meta as their new name. To his credit, Zuck-for-brains legitimately wants to dominate the virtual and augmented reality space, a frontier where he can push his own branded VR headgear and thereby own and dominate the channel. Immediately following Zucker-jerk’s announcement, Nike followed with one of their own. The Oregon-based company has filed several new trademarks this week that indicate its intent to make and sell virtual Nike-branded sneakers and apparel. For the elderly among us still trying to master Zoom, what this means is that in online gaming, shopping, and anywhere else you can go with your virtual “self” (think of it as a 3-D emoji, or “Bitmoji”) in virtual/digital worlds, you can now buy digital versions of Nike sneakers, clothing and other branded accessories to dress up your Bitmoji. In the video gaming world, it’s called buying skins. There are other more interesting applications, but the digital shopping space will surely be the first with large venture capital and entrepreneurs rushing to make their millions. Does your bitmoji need a new Gucci handbag?

Why am I raising this “nerdy” topic? As a technologist, I am more than a bit worried that we are already too immersed in screens, and two dimensional digital realities. The latest stats show that Americans spend over seven hours per day on screens of some form or another. And most are spending 2-3 hours on social media, which we all know is designed to appeal to our “lizard brain” as Jaron Lanier, one of the early founders of Virtual Reality stated on Kara Swishers “Sway” podcast the other day. (Click here for Sway podcast) Lanier posited that the goodness that can come from VR technology is that no matter how close to reality it may become, you will appreciate reality even more. So, put down those game controllers, delete your social media accounts, and take a walk in the woods today. According to Japanese scientists, a walk in the woods, or ‘shinrin-yoku’, provides preventive medical effects by relieving stress and recovering the immune system diminished by stress. You can’t get those effects in the virtual world.

The future according to Zuck-face. That’s me in the middle, before my shinrin-yoku therapy.

Speaking of reality, how great was it to hear the DOJ indicting one of the leading a-holes in the country, Steve Bannon? I would love to see that traitor behind bars, but you know he will become a martyr for the right as soon as that happens. But, let’s talk Jew News for the week. Chanukah is quickly approaching, and this year our themed party is “Chanukah on the Chai Seas”. Really looking forward to donning my pirate costume and downing several latkes. But, back to the news, here are some stories for the week:

  1. Shiva call: Colin Powell was not the only famous Shabbas Goy – My sister pointed this one out to me, and I missed posting it in last week’s JNR. This is a great piece and lesson about interfaith understanding. Colin Powell, who was buried a few weeks ago, grew up in a Jewish community in the Bronx, and in addition to other duties forbidden to observant Jews on Shabbat , he was given a quarter for each night he shut off the lights in the neighboring temple. The really interesting part of the article is the revelation that Chief Justice Thurgood Marshall also was a Shabbas Goy! And his writings reflect the learnings from that interesting history. For more, click here
  2. 770 Eastern Parkway: The most copied building in the world – Around the world, construction is underway on at least six more replicas of 770 Eastern Parkway, the Brooklyn-based headquarters of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement. And, when the building in Abuja, Nigeria, is finished, there will be at least one on every continent except Antarctica. Why, you may be asking, is this building so popular?  Click here to read more and find out!
  3. David Halbestram on the greatest Jewish Broadcasters of all time – A great retrospective and historical piece on the emergence of specialists in the sports broadcasting world. From the early days to post war television, Halbestram covers them all, and there are surprisingly so many, including Howard Cohen, aka Howard Cosell. “He described himself as, “arrogant, pompous, vain, verbose, a showoff.” Cosell was hardly an observant Jew, but he didn’t hide his ancestry. Many loathed him and others, particularly younger viewers, loved him no matter their faiths.” He also covers the emergence of Jewish women broadcasters as well.  For more, click here.
  4. Trust your therapist? You might think twice after watching this just released movie – Marty Markowitz thought he was just going to see a psychiatrist for a routine appointment. Was he ever wrong. Over 30 years, the doctor inserted himself into every aspect of Markowitz’s life. The story is so wild that it became the basis for a true-crime podcast and, now, a TV series starring Will Ferrell as Markowitz. And his psychiatrist is played by none other than the world’s most sexiest male (passed me over again) Paul Rudd.  For more, click here.
  5. Pelicans stopping by Israel for a quick brunch are biting into fishery profits – 🇮🇱  When Israeli officials opened their borders after a 19-month pandemic shutdown, I’m not sure this is what they had in mind: Thousands of pelicans are making a pit stop in the country. Apparently, Jews are not the only animal with a genetic pre-disposition to salty fish!  Read more here.
Where can you get a decent bagel and schmear around here?

That’s all I’ve got this week gang. Remember to take a walk in the woods, and whether you do or don’t, let’s be careful out there!

Brad out. 

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