So, I’ve been sitting here in my backyard, sipping scotch, waiting for Shabbat to begin and pondering the interesting conflict we have this year between Shabbat and Tisha B’Av. You see, Shabbat is all about joy, yet Tisha B’Av is all about lamentation. On Shabbat we are not supposed to fast yet on Tisha B’Av we are mandated to fast. So, what do we do?

Not surprisingly, The rabbis have an answer to everything. Unlike most Shabbats, where it is a mitzvah to have sexual relations with your spouse, on this Shabbat you are not supposed to. You are also not supposed to read any parts of Torah on Saturday afternoon unless they are parts specifically permitted on Tisha B’Av. You’re supposed to do the Tisha B’Av stuff on Sunday. But, you’re not supposed to have a mournful separation meal before the fast that you begin on Saturday night.

I have a feeling that all of that means very little in the Reform Jewish movement. Still, it seems like you need to treat this Shabbat and Sunday in a special way.

Basically, one thing I think we can share is that Shabbat joy cannot be diminished. That is the number one holiday in the Jewish calendar. And, moving the mourning to Sunday is not an Earth-shattering proposition. So, that’s all you seem to really need to worry about.

But I have come up with one more thing that I think is important. We’re going to do our usual mourning by reading the book of Lamentations on Sunday. But one of the things we should focus on in the joy that we express during this Shabbat is the joy of knowing that after all the horrors we’ve been through and all the millennia when the Jews have been persecuted, expelled, tortured, hated, and murdered, we still exist! 

There has been plenty of evil in the world over thousands of years and there will continue to be evil over thousands more. But, despite the evil and despite the hatred, the Jewish people have continued to persevere even in the face of genocide and even in the face of the anti-Semitism that exists around the world today. 

If that’s not a reason for Sabbath joy then I don’t know what is.

Shabbat Shalom.

almostrational:

In case you think that the Pacific Northwest is any better than any other place when it comes to Jew hatred. Un-fucking-believable.

Originally posted on The Mike Report:

“I’m now the first to blow the whistle on Seattle’s Jewish Mafia… I know who the enemy is, and I’m not afraid to stick it to ’em.” -David Blomstrom: King County Voter’s Guide

Do you worry about the “Jewish Mafia”? David Blomstrom does, and he’s eager to tell you about it. The problem is that Blomstrom propagates his Jew hating obsession at taxpayer’s expense. As a candidate running in Seattle School District 1 for the office of Director of school position 3, Blomstrom, who describes himself as an “anti-anti-Semite“, shared his twisted platform in the King County Voter’s Guide (P.73) for the upcoming August 2015 primary.

While perusing the voter’s guide, David E. Behar of Seattle was jarred after stumbling across Blomstrom’s bizarre candidate statement. He immediately authored a letter to King County Councilmembers and the County Director of Elections. 

David E. Behar. Photo Credit: The Mike ReportDavid E. Behar. Photo Credit: The Mike Report

“I admittedly am not…

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Every year, as Tisha B’Av arrives, I write about all the Jewish tragedies that supposedly occurred in this very day,

Tisha B’Av used to be a time to mourn the destruction of the first, and then second, temple. But, a big problem arose with Reform Judaism because, in our faith, we have no wish to return to the days of ritual sacrifice. We also don’t necessarily believe that there is an actual dude called “the Messiah” so we don’t have a reason to want the temple back.

We believe that, through our actions, we can improve the world to the extent that one day a Messianic age will arrive through our efforts. We need no savior, like Christians do; no singular prophet; and no special guy from the lineage of David. What we DO need it to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. Each individual is tasked with doing their own little part until one day the sum of those parts is great enough to affect a global culture of holiness, respect, and love.

What we also need is the courage to press on no matter the obstacles. THAT is why I care so much about Tisha B’Av. Irrespective of mourning the Temple, we can use this day to realize that our people have survived countless instances of cruelty and hatred and yet we have remained.

Think about it. In this week’s Torah portion, the first of the book of Deuteronomy, Moses begins the first of his three great “sermons”.  He reminds us, through a perspective that is much more mature in its deutero-retelling than in the original tellings earlier in Torah, of all the things we have been through. He also reminds us of our failures and our lack of courage and persistence. In a rather timely sort of annual occurrence, it is said that one of the things that happened on Tisha B’Av was the failure of the “spies” to come back from reconnoitering the promise land with confidence in our success. Moses not only reminds the people of their lack of faith and their unwillingness to persevere and enter the land but he takes personal responsibility for it by reminding them that G-d is angry with him as well.

What I’m saying here is that, in his well seasoned maturity, Moses takes responsibility even for the things that he himself did not do. The buck stops with Moses. From this we learn that we, as a society, must have the forbearance to take action AND that we, as individuals, must have the integrity to accept responsibility for making those actions work or not work.

So, on this Tisha B’Av I am not suggesting we neglect the temple. Nor am I suggesting that we ignore the crusades, the inquisition, the expulsion from Spain, the expulsion from Portugal, the weak will of 10 out of 12 biblical spies, the mass transport of the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto to Auschwitz, or anything else that has tragically befallen the Jews throughout history. Rather, I suggest that, as we mourn the myriad terrors, we use that memory to notice that we yet remain a people.

Remember that much of the reason we persist is that we never give up, never give in, never allow humiliation to trump fortitude, and never act with complacency in the hope that all will be fine with a new temple, a Davidic Messiah, a second-coming of Christ, or anything else.

Don’t wait for the end of days to take responsibility for doing your part to bring about the world you hope to someday have.

B’Shalom.

Wilder Shores

Posted: July 21, 2015 in Uncategorized

almostrational:

Very proud of the Dickmans and even prouder to be part of Third Angle!

Originally posted on sanslartigue:

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Today I am extremely disappointed that the P5+1 chose to sign an agreement with Iran. This deal is in the interest of not a single nation except Iran. It is a negotiating coup for Iran and a tragedy for the world.

I predict that in the next 10 years, a real, honest to God arms race will begin between Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Israel, Lebanon and who knows who else. Seriously, does everyone realize how SHORT is the span of 10-20 years?

Of course, it may not take 10 years. For one thing, Israel will probably try to “solve the problem” itself now. I would not blame them but it could bring world war III about if they do.

Furthermore, when has Iran ever told the truth or met an obligation to which they agreed? In Iran’s mind, this is simply 6 nations negotiating with Allah. Breaking their word to make way for the Hidden Imam is probably considered as honorable as funding terrorists to blow up children and become martyrs.

As a condition of this deal, Iran need not disclose any of the previous military aspects of its nuclear development. Iran need not stop enriching uranium; not even at Natanz (where 1000s of centrifuges will continue spinning). The Arak heavy water reactor and the associated plutonium plant does not even need to be taken out of service, just “converted”. Fifteen years from now, even that heavy water restriction will expire. IR-8 and IR-6 centrifuges will continue to be developed and 8.5 years from now they be spinning up 30 more IR-6s. In the several-thousand year history of Iranian culture 8 1/2 years, 10 years, 15 years are but a minuscule flash. We’re removing sanctions now but in that “flash” of time they will be back and stronger than ever. Iran will not need to sneak into “Club Nuke”, they’ll get free tickets and a backstage pass!

We could not even get Iran to agree to stop financing Hezbollah, to agree to stop calling for the destruction of Israel, to cut back on executions by stoning, or to agree to unrestricted inspection access to the production sites.

So… I have to ask… What exactly did the P5+1 win in this negotiation?

I see nothing.What I see is 6 nations who simply gave up on negotiating and instead chose to immediately grow Iran’s $400B economy by like  25% by infusing it with $150B that is being unfrozen in foreign financial institutions.

And, in return, what did they get?

To me it looks like almost nothing.

I’ll make this relatively brief because all I really have to say is that I’m crazy-excited about today’s landmark SCOTUS decision insuring legal gay marriage throughout our land! I am one happy straight guy today. I emphasize that I’m straight because I want to make it clear that I’m not happy because this benefits me personally.

  • I’m happy because this benefits everyone.
  • I’m happy because this applies the 14th amendment to everyone. As JamesObergefell, the lead plaintiff, said this morning:
    • Today’s ruling from the Supreme Court affirms what millions across this country already know to be true in our hearts – our love is equal; that the four words etched onto the front of the Supreme Court – equal justice under law – apply to us, too.”
  • I’m happy because this furthers the cause of applying the concept that “all men are created equal” to an ever-widening notion of “ALL”.
  • I’m happy because this demonstrates that, in a country founded on liberty, LOVE between rational human beings can still trump religious dogma.
  • More than anything, I’m happy because now, throughout the United States, the sanctity of monogamous marital commitment can now be celebrated equally for all who wish to dedicate themselves to loving each other and creating traditional family units.

I’m always surprised when I see the most conservative people arguing against gay marriage. Conservatives, above all, should want two things that legal gay marriage provides:

  1. The need to keep the government out of our personal lives
  2. The want of people – regardless of sexual identity or gender orientation – to have traditional monogamous relationships

THEY should be the ones who WANT gay marriage!

Unfortunately…. the true small-government, traditional family conservatives have been completely overrun by the dogmatic, Bible-thumping, evangelical Conservatives. That piece of the Republican party has every right to their religious beliefs. It’s their desire that Christian religious views should have control over American jurisprudence that’s the problem. This is not even an issue of Conservatism. It’s an issue of religion. And religion must be separate from law in a country that celebrates diversity. That’s the ONLY way to avoid the “tyranny of the majority”.

I am a fan of traditional monogamous families and I’m especially a fan of those families who dedicate themselves to rearing well-adjusted children. To that point, Justice Kennedy nailed it when he wrote:

“Without the recognition, stability and predictability marriage offers, their children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser,” 

I want to give you my answer (as a non-lawyer) to the two things that Republicans say against this decision:

  1. They say that this is a “states rights” issue. -> WRONG. If we left marriage law purely up to the states, there would still be states where whites and blacks could not intermarry. In this particular case, democracy at the state level would, through the “tyranny of the majority” enshrine discrimination.
  2. They say that the court has “redefined an institution that has been in place for millennia” -> TRUE. But that’s NOT a bad thing. Slavery goes back as far as the Romans, the Hebrews, and the ancient Sumarians. It was in place for millennia too. Then, human culture evolved. Change is GOOD when it is in favor of respect, dignity, and cultural evolution!. The same people who (rightly!) call Sharia law medieval say we should not change an institution just because it’s thousands of years old. Not only is that hypocritical, it’s not even intellectually consistent. Institutions must adapt to evolving cultures. That’s my opinion.

So, in summary: Today I’m happy that families, kids, monogamy, and love have trumped dogma!

Originally posted on Homotopy Type Theory:

As discussed at length on the mailing list some time ago, there are several different things that one might mean by saying that a function $latex f:Ato B$ is “constant”. Here is my preferred terminology:

  • $latex f$ is constant if we have $latex b:B$ such that $latex f(a)=b$ for all $latex a:A$.
    This is equivalent to saying that $latex f$ factors through $latex mathbf{1}$.
  • $latex f$ is conditionally constant if it factors through $latex Vert A Vert$.
  • $latex f$ is weakly constant if for all $latex a_1,a_2:A$ we have $latex f(a_1)=f(a_2)$.

In particular, the identity function of $latex emptyset$ is conditionally constant, but not constant. I don’t have a problem with that; getting definitions right often means that they behave slightly oddly on the empty set (until we get used to it). The term “weakly constant” was introduced by Kraus, Escardo, Coquand, and Altenkirch, although they immediately dropped the…

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