Originally posted on The Mike Report:



As Hamas Rockets continued to rain down on Israeli population centers, a large anti-Israel rally took place in Seattle’s Westlake Center this Saturday, July 12. Protesters screamed anti-Israel slogans calling for the destruction of the Jewish state while waving signs and marching through the downtown sidewalks. But this was more than a rally in opposition to Israel or her defensive operations.   The signs being waved and the chants hollered  constituted a shocking public display of shameless Jew hatred right  in the heart of Seattle.

Signs comparing Jews to Nazis were commonplace (see below).


Comparing Jews to Nazis was a common theme.


This sign (below) compares Jews defending themselves to the Nazi slaughter of Jews. “It would be my greatest sadness to see Zionist Jews do to Palestinian Arabs much of what the Nazis did to Jews“.


More comparing…

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If you know me then you know that I am a huge supporter of Israel. I am deeply saddened by the recent murder of 3 Jewish teenagers in Israel. I have spoken up about that anger as best I can. I have also spoken out against the ridiculous conspiracy theories that invariably emerge from such tragedies. I stand up for the cause of Israel to the very best of my ability.

Now a young Palestinian boy has been murdered, supposedly in retribution for the 3 other murders. I’m sad to have to say this, but it’s necessary to speak out even when I will always stand by my position on Israel in general. Let me just say this: The murder of a Palestinian boy to avenge the earlier killings does not help the cause of Israel. It is vile; criminal; perhaps worse than the killings that came before it; and, perhaps more presciently, in no way even remotely condoned by Judaism.

Deuteronomy 32:35 specifically says: “Vengeance is Mine, and recompense…”. It does NOT say that vengeance is in the domain of we humans. In fact, in Leviticus 19:18 we are specifically taught that it is NOT for us to avenge, specifically:  “You shall not avenge” . Maimonides discusses this further in his code of Jewish law, saying: “Taking revenge is an extremely bad trait. A person should be accustomed to rise above his feelings about all worldly matters…” R. Schneur Zalman of Liadi says similar things in his code of Jewish law: “One should erase any feelings of revenge from one’s heart and never remind oneself of it.” Vengeance is prohibited by Jewish law.

Let’s say that you disagree with my simple quotations and still think the murder of 3 young Jews is worthy of revenge. Try this.

Close your eyes and imagine yourself when you were 14 years old. A group of people abduct you while you are minding your own business. You have not hurt them. They grab you and, in a way that no ethical system could possibly condone, set you on fire. As you are dying in excruciating pain your lungs are charred while you inhale the flames. Now, open your eyes and try to imagine any scenario in which those who abducted you would have been justified, ethically or morally, in bringing upon you such a horrific death. NO ONE could possibly be justified in doing that to you!!! NO ONE COULD POSSIBLY BE JUSTIFIED IN DOING THAT TO ANYONE!

This whole idea of taking revenge, especially this way, is completely abhorrent to me. If someone killed the kids who killed the other kids, I would still be disgusted; but at least I might understand. But this is far, far worse because a poor Palestinian youth was painfully and terrifyingly murdered just because he was young and Palestinian. THERE IS NO EXCUSE. There is NOTHING that permits this to be a viable act of retribution. This is part of a group-think mentality that ignores the innate value of the individual. It makes NO sense!

Israeli officials and the Israeli government have spoken out against this crime. They have already arrested 6 people. Today, I strongly urge the government of Israel to do what they say they will do and to bring these criminals to justice. Israel has all the right words; now I pray that they will take the right actions.

My friend and teacher, Rabbi Michael Z. Cahana said some things (as is always the case) better than I could. Rabbi Cahana said this:  “Israel is a nation of laws. Judaism is a people of law. Those who are responsible for this terrible murder must be brought to justice. And if it should be found that the murder of this young teen, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, was perpetrated as an act of revenge – then we all bear the shame.” It may be hard to hear this, especially for me the individualist,  but Judaism is firmly grounded in communitarianism and for our people, Cahana is absolutely right.

Revenge is always wrong.

Hate crimes are always wrong.

Inflicting suffering on another individual is always wrong.

All we can do now is to work ever more diligently to stop this horrible violence. Jews murdering Palestinian children out of vengeance is utterly antithetical to Judaism. Something tells me that most Muslims would agree but would also condemn the horrible murders of Israelis that started it. Let us all mourn all of these deaths and may it be that Jews mourn the death of Abu Khdeir as deeply as they mourn the death of their own. Whatever one thinks God is, I hope that he or she does.



I am completely beside myself with a combination of rage and sorrow. Of those two emotions the latter massively  predominates. This week I stand firmly with the citizens of Israel in mourning the loss of the three blameless young men who were brutally murdered by the blatantly evil, completely repulsive, animals who have no respect whatsoever for the sanctity of human life.

In the mature societies of the 21st century, both Americans and Israelis,  Jews and Gentile,  believers and atheists, and millions of loving, mainstream, Muslims must stand together against the seemingly endless, barbaric terrorism that engulfs the Middle East. To anyone with even a drop of rationality such incendiary crimes must not be tolerated. I will state my believe as succinctly as I can: Hamas is an adversary of peace, harmony, humanity, honor, individual human dignity, and respect. To my mind, anyone who takes a position counter to that is simply exacerbating the problem.

In Jewish law, the preservation of human life takes precedence over all other commandments. This is a Talmudic teaching with roots in Leviticus 18:5 where it says:

אֶת-מִשְׁפָּטַי תַּעֲשׂוּ וְאֶת-חֻקֹּתַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ, לָלֶכֶת בָּהֶם:  אֲנִי, יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם. (“You shall therefore keep my statutes and ordinances, which if a man do, he shall live by them.”)

In the Babylonian Talmud (Tractate Yoma 85b) the rabbis added this: “That he shall live by them, and not that he shall die by them.” Accompanying this is a corollary teaching in Tractate Sanhedrin 37a - Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:9 that says: Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world. In other words, every time you destroy human life it is as significant as if you have destroyed the entire world! Our sages have much to say on this and I am certainly not educated enough to be qualified to discuss most of it. Still, I want to share my own opinion.

Every human being has not only his or her own potential but also the potential to procreate. Procreation has the potential to continue לדור ודור (L’dor VaDor), from generation to generation, ad infinitum.  Every human being also has the potential to save other lives and to enhance the lives of those around them. Between procreation and the general promotion of life, every single individual human being is a link in a potentially infinite series of generations. Thus, if you destroy a single life you have destroyed infinite potential and have destroyed an infinite succession of futures. You have destroyed an infinitely large potential population, or, the whole world!

 Thrice, with these despicable murders, Hamas has destroyed entire worlds! Worse still, through the murders of Eyal Yifrah (19), Gilad Shaar (16), and Naftali Fraenkel (16) Hamas has thrice destroyed the most precious subset of all human life YOUTH! All humans have the infinite potential I described above. Young people, though, have the greatest potential to contribute to the world in THIS LIFE. The senseless murder of 3 teenagers is arguably the most heinous of all murders. What is not arguable, but indisputable, is that such murders are surely the saddest.

At the memorial for Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali, the finance minister of Israel said what I said above in a yet more poignant way when he remarked:

“We are burying a child today; a child who could have been the child of any one of us. Therefore, he is indeed the child of each and every one of us.”

So, why am I enraged? Because this is the 21st century and once again some excruciatingly evil people have acted like it was the 10th century and have destroyed infinite human potential.

And my sorrow? If you have to ask that, then read this over and over again until you get it. How can one not weep uncontrollably over the irreverent disregard for dignity and the senseless destruction of infinite potential?




In responding to Pope Francis’ statement with respect to homosexuality, Oklahoma House District 91 candidate for state representative Scott Esk has made one of the most vile assertions possible. Mr Esk quoted the Hebrew Bible as condoning the stoning to death of homosexuals. When asked to clarify his position he stated:

“I think we would be totally in the right to do it… That goes against some parts of libertarianism, I realize, and I’m largely libertarian, but ignoring as a nation things that are worthy of death is very remiss.” “If men wink at such perversions, God may have no choice than to judge such nations with calamities.”

This is a very direct statement and we should acknowledge Mr. Esk for being honest about his position – all be that position inhumane, despicable, and morally reprehensible. He was honest and, because of that, it’s crystal clear that he should not get a single vote, should not be representing anything within the United Stated government, and should surely not EVER use the word “libertarian” in speaking about himself.

To be clear: The 1978 Libertarian Party platform clearly states the libertarian position on governmental sex discrimination: “No individual rights should be denied or abridged by the laws of the United States or any state or locality on account of sex, race, color, creed, age, national origin, or sexual preference.”

If one can’t discriminate due to sexual preference then how the hell could one possibly murder someone for it!!! This may be some horrible fringe view from the bowels of the Tea Party. But is certainly is not only against “some parts of Libertarianism” but it forsakes the very foundation of Libertarianism by removing it’s cornerstone of INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY.

How dare this man call himself “largely Libertarian” when he takes the most vile, liberty-averse, position that any sentient being could possibly take! Being willing to kill people for behaviors that have no effect on you cancels out every other Libertarian value. Saying that we would “be totally in the right” to stone gays is not only an abhorrent interpretation of the Hebrew bible but it is as evil as you can be. To a Libertarian, there are NO acts between consenting adults that constitute “things that are worthy of death“.

Mr. Esk: In the US constitution LIFE comes even before liberty and the pursuit of happiness. You should be deeply ashamed for holding such a mind-numblingly intolerant view, especially while having the balls to call yourself “pro-life”. This is 2014 not 4000 BCE and if you are pro-death when it comes to people who happen to differ in sexual preference from yourself then you are surely not pro-life. You are simply a bible thumping fringe hypocrite who has no place in American government.

If you know anyone in Oklahoma House District 91, I strongly urge you to encourage them to avoid Scott Esk. He does not represent American, he does not represent the fine tradition of Libertarian discourse, he should NOT represent Oklahoma.


I have to start by saying that I would never, ever, encourage a singer to do anything that risks vocal cord damage. So, if a singer has strep throat and even a sore throat, canceling a show could be the most professional thing you can do. But, Monday night I saw that as long as your throat is not affected, you can do a damn good gig with a head cold. It seems that one of the keys to doing that effectively is to embrace the limits that illness imposes and to work within your constraints.

I have seen Suzanne Vega in concert for at least 20 – 25 years. Her performance on Monday night was not the highest quality singing I’ve heard from her. But, you know what? It was a great show and it certainly was memorable. I have a lot of respect for Suzanne, in general. But, I had extra respect for her on Monday night. With a head cold in full force, and what was either water or a cup of tea on stage,  Suzanne took the stage, knew she had some limitations, and gave her audience a really wonderful performance. Monday’s show in Portland was not the makings of her next live album. What it was, was a demonstration of how beautiful a performer can be when she respects her fans enough to get on stage and admit that she might have some limitations, to sing with all she can muster, to accept her limitations with a great sense of humor, and to perform well by not trying to perform perfectly. It was a great show and I want to say thank you to Suzanne Vega for being there for we, her fans, even when all is not perfect.

Speaking of giving thanks, I also want to thank Scott Docherty at http://www.redhare.com for taking this photo for me:

With Suzanne Vega at the Aladdin Theater-3

I have waited since the mid-80′s to actually get a photo of me and Suzanne. I hope she’ll be happy to know that this is as cool to me as are my photos of me with the likes of Eric Owens, Dawn Upshaw, Chris Rothko, Jennifer Larmore, Stephanie Blythe, and Morris Dees. So, thank you Scott!

Of course, the real thank you goes to Suzanne Vega. Next time I think of taking a day off of work when I have a cold, I’ll remember that there is a precedent set by someone I respect a lot, for just pushing through and kicking ass!

Come on back anytime; and get well soon!!!


Originally posted on Why Evolution Is True:

Brunei, a small country (about 6000 square km) on the north coast of Borneo, is the fifth richest country in the world—from oil, of course. It’s also an “Islamic republic,” and up to now hasn’t been nearly as oppressive as Muslim countries in the Middle East about issues like women’s rights.

That’s just changed, for the imposition of new sharia-based laws, drawn up last fall, has just begun. According to articles in the April 30 Guardian and the May 1 Los Angeles Times, the Islamic hammer is about to come down on Brunei’s residents. From the Guardian: 

The sultan of oil-rich Brunei has announced the introduction of tough Islamic criminal punishments, pushing ahead with plans that have sparked international condemnation and rare domestic criticism of the fabulously wealthy ruler.

“With faith and gratitude to Allah the almighty, I declare that tomorrow, Thursday 1 May 2014, will see the enforcement of sharia law…

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Dartmouth, May 1964 – The original BASIC computer programming language turns 50 years old this month! It’s hard to believe that it was only 16 when I wrote my first program on punch tape for a Data General Eclipse. I’m feeling old but, in the spirit of history, here’s a summary of the life of BASIC and a little bit on my relationship to it (yeah, yeah, yeah… I know that only I care about the latter but, hey, it’s my blog :-) )

1964 – Dartmouth BASIC by J.G Kemeney & T. E. Kurtz @ Dartmouth College

1969 – Dartmouth BASIC fifth version by J.G Kemeney & T. E. Kurtz @ Dartmouth College

1970 – General Electric ships the fifth version of (Dartmouth) BASIC with their systems.

1971 -BASIC the Sixth by J.G Kemeney & T. E. Kurtz @ Dartmouth College

1974 – ANSI committees form to standardize both minimal BASIC and Standard BASIC.

1975 – TinyBASIC by B. Albrecht & D. Allison (takes only 2K of memory and is loaded from a punch tape and Altair BASIC is introduced by Bill Gates and Paul Allen

1976 – Bill Gates writes “An Open Letter to Hobbyists” complaining that Altair BASIC was being copied all over the place before Microsoft even made it available. This is the first ever case of software piracy!

1977 – Commodore BASIC was developed by Microsoft for the Commodore PET computer. This was my first computer!

1978 – ANSI issued the Minimal BASIC specification (ANSI  X3.60-1978)

1981 - I wrote my first BASIC program on a Data General Eclipse I found in a storeroom at CalArts. It was called “RMUSIC” for “Recursive Music” (hence my license plate on my Volvo). The program resulted in a sadly un-singable vocal piece of the same name for my friend Liz Lindenfeld, MS-DOS 1.0 ships with BASICA on August 12th and GW-BASIC is introduced.

1982 IBM releases BASCOM 1.0 and I wrote my first BASIC program to profile the Acoustics is a theater space on my Commodore PET.

1983 –  J.G Kemeney & T. E. Kurtz release TrueBASIC based on Dartmouth BASIC 7.0 and Microsoft releases the BASIC Compiler v5.35 for MS-DOS

1984 – Microsoft BASIC Compiler 5.36 is released and the ISO issues ISO 6373-1984 for the Minimal BASIC and Microsoft releases BASIC  for the Apple Macintosh

1985 – Microsoft releases QuickBASIC 1.0, IBM releases BASCOM 2.0, and Commodore BASIC is introduced on the Commodore 128

1986 Microsoft QuickBASIC has 3 releases for the Mac

1987 Microsoft QuickBASIC has 3 more releases for the Mac and releases Microsoft BASIC 6.0, ANSI issues the Standard BASIC specification (X3.113-1987), and Borland releases Turbo BASIC.

1988 – Microsoft QuickBASIC has 4 more releases for the Mac

1989 – Microsoft BASIC Professional 7.0 is released

1990 – Microsoft BASIC Professional 7.1 is released and PowerBASIC Inc. forms fro the development of Borland Turbo BASIC

1991 – Microsoft ships QBasic 1.0 with MS-DOS 5.0; the ISO issues ISO 10279-1991 for Full BASIC; Microsoft ships QuickBASIC 1.0e for the Mac; Microsoft ships Visual Basic 1.0 for Windows

1992 – Microsoft Visual Basic 2.0 and VB version 2.0 for Windows

1993 – Microsoft ships VB 3, VB 1.0 for Project and Excel, and QBasic for DOS

1995 – Microsoft ships Visual Basic 4.0

1997 – Microsoft ships Visual Basic 5.0

1998 – Microsoft ships Visual Basic 6.0

2002 – Microsoft ships Visual Basic .NET 7.0 and DarkBASIC - brings DirectX 9 into the BASIC world

PLEASE post comments on this post if you find errors or omissions.