Monday, May 31, 2010

A Sea of Stupidity

Please read this editorial from the Israeli newspaper HaAretz.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

I Am a Jew - אני יהודי

This is the best music video I've seen in quite some time. My thanks to Rachelle for sharing it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sinusoidal vs. Harmonic

My friend, Michel the chemist, understands enough physics to understand the chart above.

He offers the link below for those of us who need more practical explanations.

I Heart Physics.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pre-Blogging 101

A friend asked for some advice about blogging. The question focused on copyright. I think my answer might help others, so I'm reposting it here, with some edits and redactions.

Warning: this essay does not constitute legal advice. Relying on it creates no attorney-client relationship between the author and reader. Relying on it, alone, would actually be quite stupid. Don't.

But it might have a nugget or two of useful info. If anyone sees something that's obviously erroneous, please point it out in the comments. Thanks.

Dear ____:

Links are always better than posting things you did not yourself create, from an Intellectual Property (IP) point-of-view.

That having been said, if it’s hard to link to --- most WSJ articles or articles from WaPo that are older than 14 days old come to mind --- you’ll rarely have any trouble reposting the article, with fair attribution, so long as you’re not charging money for access to it. No one has ever sent me a cease-and-desist letter about anything I’ve posted directly. If I ever get one, I’ll take down the post in a New York minute.

But if you can link to it, do. Use a bit of quotation or paraphrasing on your page. Then add a link. Verifiability helps credibility.

With things like academic articles or books or content that’s not on the web, the usual IP “fair use” rules apply. You must provide a citation, and you must not quote more from the text of the article than is necessary to make your point. The longer your quotation is, the more suspect, from a fair use standpoint. I try to paraphrase when I can’t link directly. And to keep it short.

Pictures on Wikipedia are all open source/in the public domain, and are a good place to get illustrations.

Wikipedia is, or at least tries to be, entirely open source. One thing wikipedia editors spend a lot of time doing is deleting material that violates someone else’s copyright. So, you could, if you wanted, repost a wikipedia article. But it’s a better practice to link. That way, if the page is edited, which it will be, your link is to the most current wiki-article, rather than a reprint of a static version that no longer exists.

With other blogs, you should never quote more than a line or two, or the briefest of summaries. This is more an etiquette thing than an IP law thing.

Bloggers want links. Practically all not-for-profit bloggers are driven by the narcissism I've mentioned on our listserv today. Usually, if they notice your link, they’ll link to you some day. A comment, if the blog permits comments, saying that you've found the author's viewpoint interesting or challenging enough to link to it in one of your own posts can make you some blogger friends fairly easily.

Another way to facilitate that is to comment on other people's blogs without necessarily linking to them. If people find your comments interesting, they’ll come look to your blog for more. If the blogger you’re commenting on finds you interesting on his/her comments page, he/she may come over to comment on yours.

Do make sure your comments are more civil than those comments before and after yours. Otherwise, you can unknowingly come off as just one more random troll to ignore. See

An A+ Essay

And Michel gets an A+ for forwarding it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


My cousin, Micki, may soon be dancing in your living room. For the past 9 months, she's been working on a dance-based video game for Nintendo Wii. 'Dance on Broadway' will be released in the US on June 22nd and in the UK shortly thereafter.

Working with acclaimed choreographer, Chase Brock, Micki's been involved in the project since its inception. Below is a rough-cut commercial that's been "leaked" to YouTube. Micki plays quite a few characters in the actual game (although not in the commercial).

Check it out. You can even pre-order a copy at

Monday, May 17, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

Emergency Preparedness Tax Holiday - Virginia

From Tuesday, May 25 through Monday, May 31, the Commonwealth of Virginia is doing a startlingly sensible thing. Conservatives usually cry crocodile tears when government uses tax policy to advance social change. But when it's change of which they approve, it's best to stand aside or be run over.

Hypocrisy is an underated virtue. This tax holiday is a very good idea. Props to Virginia's new Governor, Bob McDonnell, no slave to doctrine.

(Ummm, by the way Bob, can we have a talk about this Confederacy Month Proclamation with zero mentions of slavery? It might be another good place to deploy tactical hypocrisy when the time rolls around next year.)

Virginia Tax Holiday on Purchase of Hurricane and Emergency Preparedness Equipment

May 25 -31, 2010

During the tax holiday, purchases of hurricane preparedness equipment designated by the Virginia Department of Taxation will be exempt from sales tax --- including portable generators. Portable generators must be priced at $1,000 or less, and other eligible items must be priced at $60 or less, per item. For details, click here.

These items qualify:
  • Artificial ice, blue ice, ice packs, and reusable ice

  • batteries (AAA, AA, C, D, 6 volt, 9 volt, cell phone batteries)

  • portable self-powered light sources (flashlights, lanterns, glow sticks)

  • portable self-powered radios (including self-powered radios with electrical power capability)

  • two-way radios

  • weather band radios and NOAA weather radios

  • tarpaulins, plastic sheeting, plastic drop cloths, and other flexible waterproof sheeting

  • bungee cords, rope

  • ground anchor systems or tie down kits

  • ratchet straps

  • duct tape

  • carbon monoxide detectors

  • smoke detectors

  • fire extinguishers

  • gas or diesel fuel tanks or containers

  • water storage containers

  • nonelectric food storage coolers

  • bottled water

  • manual can openers

  • storm shutter devices

  • cell phone chargers

  • First Aid kits

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

An Inspirational Story

This comes from a poster that once hung in the office of my friend Joel's father*.

One day I was feeling sad and blue and a cute little bluebird perched on my window and said:

"Cheer up, things could be worse."

In gratitude and appreciation I cheered up.

And sure enough, things got worse.

*Thanks, Joel.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Man Rules

My cousin Deb sent these to me. As a Mother''s Day gift to all wives and girlfriends everywhere, I'm passing it along.

Guys don't come with an instruction manual, but this comes pretty close.

Thanks, Deb. You rock.

The Man Rules
At last a guy has taken the time to write this all down. Finally , the guys' side of the story.

We always hear " the rules" from the female side. Now here are the rules from the male side.

Please note.. these are all numbered "1" ON PURPOSE!

1. Men are NOT mind readers.

1. Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down.
We sometimes need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

1. Sunday sports: It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides.
Let it be.

1. Crying is blackmail.

1. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one:

  • Subtle hints do not work!
  • Strong hints do not work!
  • Obvious hints do not work!
  • Just say it!

1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question..

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 Days.

1. If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one

1. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done. Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.

1. Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials..

1. Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions and neither do we.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

1. If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," We will act like nothing's wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle..

1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, expect an answer you don't want to hear.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine. Really.

1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as Football or Hockey.

1. You have enough clothes.

1. You have too many shoes.

1. I am in shape. Round IS a shape!

1. Thank you for reading this. Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight; But did you know men really don't mind that? It's like camping.

Please pass this to as many men as you can - to give them a laugh.

Please pass this to as many women as you can - to give them a bigger laugh.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

J Street and Tikkun

I last covered parts of this topic here, in a piece called American Zionism at a Crossroad.

This weekend, folks on my shul's e-mail list are discussing the merits (or not) of Rabbi Michael Lerner's Tikkun magazine and of the Zionist advocacy group J Street.

It's fair to say J Street and Tikkun are on the left hand side of Jewish and Zionist advocacy. It's not fair to say they are anti-Zionists and self-hating Jews.

The questions that started the discussion can be paraphrased thusly:

A) Are J Steeet and Tikkun good for the Jews and for Israel, or not?

B) Should J Street and Tikkun be "respected and loved" or "shunned and denounced"?

At first I was tempted to answer yes to both questions and be done with it.

My wise (and wise-guy) friend Barrett did exactly that. We are on opposite sides of the issue, but, as he pointed out, answering each question with a simple yes just states the tautology that a universe is made up of its elements.

Still, I got a little worked up. When I was done with my answer, I realized I had a blog post:

(A) Michael Lerner and the Tikkun community are surely part of the answer. Zionists in the peace camp will eventually win the day. We are not self-hating Jews, or traitors or dupes or fools. We are as ardent in our love for Eretz Yisrael as our brothers and sisters on Zionism's right wing. And as zealous.

Abba Eban was right. So far, the Palestinians have rarely missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

But the day will come. When it does, the Tikkun community will play a bigger role than AIPAC. AIPAC's lifeblood is a sea of greenbacks raised by scaring American Jews and spent to scare American politicians.

Tikkun treads a different path. Their approach strikes me as more effective, over the long haul.

With J Street, it's too soon to tell, but I'm impressed, so far.

(B) Both J Street and Tikkun merit a lot of respect. Let's hold off on love for the moment. Let's save that for a discussion of dark chocolate, lox or rare flank steak.

I'm not a big fan of shunning and denouncing. In retrospect, we look pretty silly on Spinoza.

The institutional Jewish community's Stalinist purge of any employee who dared support the Breira movement in the 70's wasn't our finest hour either.

As a matter of fact, in looking for background to provide on Breira, I'm struck by how little has changed. Mark Silk, of Trinity College's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life, says it better than I.

Shabbat Shalom,


Friday, May 7, 2010

Learning is Experiential*

The little boy was caught swearing by his teacher.

"Jeffrey Alan!" she said, "you shouldn't use that kind of language. Where did you hear it?"

"My daddy said it," he responded.

"Well, that doesn't matter," she explained, "you don't know what it means."

"I do, too," Jeffrey corrected. "It means the car won't start."

*Thanks, Michel, for this pre-Shabbat giggle

Monday, May 3, 2010

First Jewish Broadcast on Nazi Soil - 1944

Sometimes, my friend Michel forwards things that are more important than jokes.


Today's post is not written by me. It's the result of a stupid Facebook quiz. Nonetheless, it's unsettling.

David took the "What is your soul like?" quiz and the result is Tired.

You are a tired soul. Perhaps you're just tired from being so busy all the time, working hard. Maybe it's school, or supporting a family. Maybe you take too much on your shoulders, the whole weight of the world... Whatever the reason, you just crave some relaxation. At ...the moment, you could care less about whats going on right now. Well, maybe you care, but you're just getting tired of caring. You are just plain tired of having a bunch of junk dumped on your life and you feel like you deserve a break. And if you've been working hard, then heck yes. Take a break before you really begin to go numb and forget to care.

I doubt the damn app can pass the Turing test.

But one will, some day.