Orwell Lives

February 27, 2007

You may have heard about the Huffington Post’s thread
about the attempt on Cheney’s life. They originally had a huge discussion thread which was closed  with most of the comments deleted. Interestingly it took three hours to delete the comments, and they left in all the comments which didn’t bemoan the failure of the attempt. It says something about the commenters that over three hours only twelve comments were non-inflammatory enough to leave in. By contrast a story about Feingold attacking the Democrat’s Iraq plan ( a smaller story) got three pages of comments. An example of a non-inflammatory comment was.

I wonder if Cheney had the courage to actually go and look at the carnage that resulted from the blast? Chances are he claimed he was too important to be put at risk and had someone else go make a report for him. No doubt also asking that person to find evidence of Iranian involvement.
That of course would prove yet again that he is just a coward who, while more than willing to risk the lives of others, has no intention of ever risking his own.
By: rabidrightrebel on February 27, 2007 at 09:04am

They may not have shame about what their commenters say, but apparently they cared once they caught a bit of flack for it.

A couple of Christian related stories

February 27, 2007

The first story I saw illustrates to what extent the Anglicans have fallen. For their leader to dismiss a valid complaint about the church ignoring the Bible to fit into a politically correct agenda as an obsession with sex means that you don’t care. Because it isn’t about sex, its about the general mindset prevalent in the Christian Left that social justice (the Democrats’ proposals) is all that matters. It is an attempt to say that the Bible was a nice signpost, but hopelessly antiquated and that if we don’t like it we can ignore it. Maybe that’s the way they want Anglicism, but at least acknowledge that others have reason to disagree with you.

The other story is about Jesus’s supposed tomb. The finder who convienently has a documentary coming out, is basing it on a conjunction of 4 names Jesus, Joseph, Mary, and Mary Magdalene (yes what’s a documentary without a love interest) The claim that it is a couple million to one against it being anyone else seems extremely far fetched. For example if each name came up 1 in 20 times that would mean there were ten families with that conjunction making it 10 to 1 odds against it being the one he was looking for. I think this story demonstrates the mileage you can get from good PR, a interesting story, and finding something to support a book.

Update: I’m not exactly sure where some people are  getting the 600 to 1 number from. I think that it is really confusing conditional from general probability. So from the description it says that 1/190 tombs had Jesus son of Joseph on them. However the real question is what percentage of people were Jesus son of Joseph. It seems that he was saying how many tombs would we expect to have this conjunction, rather than how many families should have this conjunction a more appropriate standard. Other good points are made by Captain’s Quarters

The Bridge to Terabithia

February 19, 2007

    I saw  The Bridge to Tarabithia tonight and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. I had thought that it would be a kiddie movie without much plot and went mainly because it was somewhere to go and time together with family. I found that I really enjoyed the movie although there were some things I didn’t like and some nitpicks.

The plot was well done and from what I’ve heard of the book (I didn’t read it) it followed the story line extremely closely. This helped them avoid the fundamental mistake that moviemakers make. They try to contemporize a good book and ruin it in the process. To take an old example, the movie version of And Then There Were None they took out the last two people’s death and made them innocent rather than guilty so that they could have a happy love ending of the movie. This movie didn’t try to undercut its sad ending although they did have a happy postscript (I don’t know whether that was in the book although I believe it was). In addition the movie had a charm to it and properly understood how to use CGI (it should be safe, legal, and rare).
A major problem was the mediocre acting by both the kids and adults. It  isn’t easy to get good kid actors especially when you’re making kids movies. Another problem was that the theme of his father preferring his younger sister to him was very overplayed, solely to create an ending with a good contrast. Also they had one strange scene with the kids returning from church which had a really strange theology to it.

Two nitpicks are not singular to this movie, but to media in general. There is a scene where there is a race and then a girl lines up. Even before the boy tells her that she doesn’t belong you know she’s going to win. Once the insult is mentioned you know that the girl is going to win and beat the insulter in degrading circumstances. Really think back through your memory when on a tv show has a girl competed against men or boys and lost. They have a remarkable record. The second nitpick comes after a major character dies. It turns out that the character is not a believer. Then the cute girl asks if the dead character is going to hell. Then she is told that G-d (given that its from a christian perspectice I’m not sure how to capatilize) wouldn’t let the dead charachter go to hell. Really this annoys me. If you are professing to show Christian values and have your characters show that theology be consistent. If you think unbelievers are damnsed then it doesn’t matter how good a person they were it matters that they didn’t believe.

Hilchot relativity

February 9, 2007

A long time ago I had a blog, it was a good blog and before I left to go to Israel for 2 weeks I e-mailed my sister giving her posting privileges. She had a nice long post at the beginning and then stopped. I had hoped to return to a vibrant and alive blog discussing the issues which would come up in a century or two. This blog was beautiful it had comments and everything, but then Tobie killed it. So for once at least I’ll try to do something similar here (if you want more of these ask for a topic in the comments writing these is easy, coming up with ideas is hard).

The question I was considering was, what sort of effect special and general relativity would have on Halachah. Systematically I’m going to go through the issues and try to at least get some reasonable approach as to how the issues should be dealt with. The first and most obvious issue is how observing shabbas would change. Due to the large distances the orbit speed around the Earth would probably approach 24 hours in Earth time. However relativistically you would be compressing time at around a minute or two per hour at .99c (.99 speed of light). The standard issue for space is to use the time you came from. The question is, which time its perception of time, or your perception of time. For Yom Tov at least it seems like there is a requirement for the holidays to follow the seasons which would be a strong argument for the idea that you have to keep Shabbas every 15 minutes or so. However I nelieve there is a source for saying that you should keep what your time is and not base on what exists back on the rest of Earth. We know that in the time of Joshua the Sun and the Moon held still so that the Jews could defeat their enemies before Shabbat. However, assuming that this was a local miracle, the Jews should have gone with the regular clock. Instead they kept the ordinary clock and had Shabbat later. The argument could be made that the relativistic spaceship is in a similar scenario and therefore it should be it should be 24 hour days from space perspective which would mena nearly year long weeks on Earth. In addition there is a principle of Horaas Sha’ah. Therefore if you have these very long journeys with many years passing by, it may be necessary to change the definition of Shabbat in order to save it once you get to a star (which is a whole ‘nother can of worms). As for a bris it seems obvious that it is 8 days from the child’s perspective, but if you go with the Earth time shabbat idea then the Gemorah which says that we wait for one shabbas before the bris would support the idea of doing it as soon as possible

Another smaller issue is the issue of the shiurim for food. Relativity states that space is also compressed near light speed. Therefore the shiurim should be similarly compressed. The real issue is two fold. are these measurements from Earth or Space perspective and, secondly, if they are from Earth perspective, what is there reason. Is it a law from G-d with no reason in which case you would be able to drink a drop of wine for kiddush, or is it a shiur of satisfaction, in which case it would remain the same no matter what.

A third issue is (again assuming you use the Earth time Shabbas pshat) is what do you do when you pass near a star which deflects the Sun’s light. Do we say that you follow  the actual position of the sun, or do we go by our percieved position  of the sun.

The final issue is what to do in the case of a rapidly (9.000.0000 rph) kilometer wide spinning centrifuge. If you have food in there and drop treif food equal to 1/50 of the centrifuges contents, but on the relativistic edes, how is the food treated. In fact according to some opinions as long it was batul it is now considered kosher food completely even if could later combine to make more than 1/60 of the total contents. Therefore it is possible that you could eat something which is half treif, ( if the edges are spinnign rapidly enough)  and still be allowed to eat it (presuming the food doesn’t add taste).

That is all (Tobie, I expect a link, considering…..)

There’s an irony here somewhere.

February 9, 2007

As you may have heard Anna Nicole Smith, the highest paid prostitute ever, is dead.  I don’t particularly care about her dying, but it is hard on her son. Still I think it says something about the way the world works sometimes. A young woman marries a 90 year old for his money and then engages in a long court battle to get at it. Then after a long battle for the money she dies, young and not as immortal as she thought.  She may be a despicable woman, but this end seems too pathetic even for her. To sell yourself for miney and then die before you can get at it. That’s just sad.

Can you spell disingenous

February 6, 2007

A controversy is breaking out at MIT over a professor being denied tenure. The professor is black and MIT has less than a representative number of black professors. The automatic assumption is that the hunger strike is over racism in the hiring process, but the letter Noam Chomsky signed said that the professor had been in an “openly contentious” relationship with someone on the tenure board. Nothing to do with race. So why are they protesting? If he was white would there be these complaints? The next time you accuse racism actually accuse racism.

Try this game once and you’ll be hooked

February 1, 2007

This is a game which has cropped up in the computer lab of my school. Ideally you should have 5 or more players, but it can technically be played with 2 or more. The game is simple, but addictive.

To start one player calls out a word. Everyone playing hits the random article button on Wikipedia and trys to get to the word chosen while only using internal links to other wikipedia articles. This game can go very quickly or take awhile depending on the word and the article you start with. Nevertheless when every worthwhile site is blocked the game is addictive indeed.