Thursday, August 27, 2009

Russian problem — Russian solution.

Background: While driving along the road, sometimes a Russian driver wants to eat some peaches. To do so, he can stop and buy some from a local old lady selling them along the road (with regular intervals — not just pears, all kinds of stuff).

Problem: After sitting in the heat the whole day, the peaches become hot. A driver wants to eat cold peaches.

Solution: Put the pears in a plastic bag; hang the bag on the rear-view mirror, over the A/C vents. Turn the A/C on max. In a short while you’ll have cold peaches.



[via Artemiy Lebedev]

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Spanish vs. Russian

... guitars.

Beauty of the Periodic Table:



Beauty of a dancing fire (sorry for the crappy quality):

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

Why not?

I heard a question recently about eating Oreo cookies (made on dairy machinery) with meat. It had to do with a discussion of Modern Orthodox and “right-wing” perspective of Halacha. I won’t go into Halachic details, because that’s not the point. The point is that I wanted to re-post something I wrote some time ago:


(how some people see Judaism)

Interesting post on Circus Tent blog regarding two worlds of Orthodox Judaism:
Today in the US we have a whole range of people under 60, American born, whose knowledge of Judaism is based exclusively on books, and those books are the Shulchan Aruch and Gemora. Most of these people had parents whom I am sure were fine people but left behind the emotional attachment to echte Yiddishkayt in Europe. Here they belonged to Young Israel synagogues and became very acculturated and lost that special hergesh. In America, Judaism was reduced to learning and doing Mitzvos by rote. These people include most MO Jews, the so called Yeshiva community, and even some “Amerikane Chasidim”.

On the other side we have people whose view of Judaism was shaped by seeing how their parents acted, felt, laughed, cried, talked and walked. These people tended to have a genuine Mesorah. They saw Judaism as more than just book learning, and the book learning included Midrash, Chassidus, Sifrei Mussar vechulu. This people tend to be Chassidic and a few Misnagdim who come from European homes. And in the background of all of this loomed the Holocaust, not Coney Island! To the first category Rabbonim are “machinove”, automated people who act in a mathematical way, and have no emotions.
The second category knows that Judaism is more than the dry letter of the law.
And I cannot help myself but to bang on the kettle again — within the group that sees the spirit of the law in the letter, two approaches exist: 1) look at Judaism as a path, as a tradition, as a community-preserving/shaping force, 2) look at Judaism as a way of connecting to G-d.

What's in your telephone
(do we care about the phone because it connects us, or because we like it as a gadget?)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

String Theory and Chassidus

What does the concept of ten dimensions mean?



Now, these ideas are discussed in a number of Rebbe Rashab’s ma’amorim and hemsheichim. Plus, numerous ma’amorim by the Rebbe. Some of these are available on Rabbi Paltiel’s web-site.

This is the answer of Rabbi Paltiel to a question asked by someone to him two years ago. The question said:
From Mem-Gimel.

Madregois lifnei hatzimtzum:

1. Moer — Kadmon
2. Yechoilos — Kadmoin ki kadmusoi
3. Spherois ein ketz — Kmo kadmon haheder
4. Ratzon
5. Eser spherois hagnuzois — Mehudesh

[Levels before the Creation:
1. Luminary — Eternal
2. Potentials — Eternal as He is eternal
3. Infinite number of spherois — As if existing forever (see below)
4. His Will
5. Ten Hidden Spherois — Innovation]

So, about number 3 it is said, that “it ‘always’ existed, but if Eibeshter wanted to, it wouldn’t exist”. What about yechoilos (potentials)?

Also, because the level 2 is differentiated from the level 1, does this mean that on the level of Eibeshter Himself there is not even a potential for creation (in a positive sense — that Eibeshter is above and beyond even the level of being potentially the Primary Source)?
The unasked question is: how can there exist levels within G-d’s pure, singular Light? Rabbi Paltiel’s answer (when listening, if the terms of “anatomy” are unclear, don’t worry about it — keep listening to what he says later):



Now, my question is: How can a Jew wake up in the morning, say Moideh Ani, say Shmah, go about his business through life and not know these things?

The other thing is: what Rabbi Paltiel explains is difficult to understand. But if you know a bit of Math or physics or just watch the movie above (starting from the discussion of the fifth dimension), you can understand it a little better. What does that say about chochmas chitzoinius?

Who’s laughing now?

http://photos-g.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs199.snc1/6736_118908005145_686880145_2862086_6349064_n.jpg

[via Adam from New Orleans]

Be pure

Is a Jew allowed to go to a palm reader, a psychic, a stock brocker, a kabbalist or write into Igros Koidesh?

For the answer, listen to this shiur by Rabbi Paltiel.

Who knew...

...that Russian trolleybuses have cute little curtains in their windows?



[via Artemiy Lebedev]

Joe Biden, the court jester

Read here.

In general, the job of a republican vice president is to draw public’s attention at himself by showing himself to be an even bigger asshole than the president (hence the “vice” president). Cheney had to work double-hard. For a while the whole Haliburton ties “conspiracy” was working out well, but Bush proved to be such tough competition that Cheney eventually had to shoot a friend of his during a hunting “accident” just to look an even bigger jerk.

Of course, liberal vice president’s job is to show himself as an even bigger fool than the president. I think Biden so far is performing very admirably. Bidenisms are not big deal. Those are just mistakes and faux pas. The funnier things are the ones he says prepared and the ones he sincerely believes in.

One thing for sure: it’s a good thing the sweet couple are not republicans. I don’t know if Biden has enough intelligence to look an even bigger asshole than Obama. For instance:

Obama administration officials, fearing a battle with Congress that could stall plans to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, are crafting language for an executive order that would reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely, according to three senior government officials with knowledge of White House deliberations.

Woo-hoo! No putting of national security over terrorists’ human rights. I mean...

I see someone has been briefed by CIA and opened a few portfolios expecting to find innocent shepherds and taxi drivers snatched at a gun point to find instead…

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Workspace, annotated

Following the wishes of a certain stalker.


(click on the picture to enlarge)

The Great Cat Massacre

http://laughoutloud.us/wp-content/uploads/2007/11/garfield_hanged.jpg

From a book I read while waiting at the airport (when I wasn’t doing a comparative anthropology study):
THE FUNNIEST THING that ever happened in the printing shop of Jacques Vincent, according to a worker who witnessed it, was a riotous massacre of cats. The worker, Nicolas Contat, told the story in an account of his apprenticeship in the shop, rue Saint- Séverin, Paris, during the late 1730s. Life as an apprentice was hard, he explained. There were two of them: Jerome, the somewhat fictionalized version of Contat himself, and Léveillé. They slept in a filthy, freezing room, rose before dawn, ran errands all day while dodging insults from the journeymen and abuse from the master, and received nothing but slops to eat. They found the food especially galling. Instead of dining at the master's table, they had to eat scraps from his plate in the kitchen. Worse still, the cook secretly sold the leftovers and gave the boys cat food: old, rotten bits of meat that they could not stomach and so passed on to the cats, who refused it.

This last injustice brought Contat to the theme of cats. They occupied a special place in his narrative and in the household of the rue Saint-Séverin. The master's wife adored them, especially la grise (the gray), her favorite. A passion for cats seemed to have swept through the printing trade, at least at the level of the masters, or bourgeois as the workers called them. One bourgeois kept teenier cats. He had their portraits painted and fed them on roast fowl. Meanwhile, the apprentices were trying to cope with a profusion of alley cats who also thrived in the printing district and made the boys' lives miserable. The cats howled all night on the roof over the apprentices' dingy bedroom, making it impossible to get a full night's sleep. As Jerome and Léveillé had to stagger out of bed at four or five in the morning to open the gate for the earliest arrivals among the journeymen, they began the day in a state of exhaustion while the bourgeois slept late. The master did not even work with the men, just as he did not eat with them. He let the foreman run the shop and rarely appeared in it, except to vent his violent temper, usually at the expense of the apprentices.
Read on (I assume just from the name itself you can guess what happened next). From this book.

By the way, I know it comes as no surprise to anyone that the French have always been amongst the top five weirdest nations in the world (read on to see what I mean).

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Tiny URL

Use Tiny URL, oh you of blogging pursuasion.


Enter a long URL to make tiny:



From Tiny URL website:

Add TinyURL to your browser's toolbar

TinyURL Toolbar.

Click and drag the following link to your links toolbar.

TinyURL!
Once this is on your toolbar, you'll be able to make a TinyURL at the click of a button. By clicking on the toolbar button, a TinyURL will be created for the page you are currently at.

This is compatible with most web browsers and platforms as long as your bookmarks or favorites allow javascript. The links toolbar may not be visible in all setups and in most browsers, you can enable it in the View->Toolbars menu of your web browser. You can also put it in your bookmarks instead of the links toolbar.

Adding TinyURL to Favorites.

Can't drag and drop? For some users, such as some recent IE 6 installations, the clicking and dragging of links that contain javascript is no longer supported. To add this to your IE links toolbar, click the link with your right mouse button and select "Add to Favorites..." from the menu. Click OK if a security warning alert pops-up (this shows up since the link contains javscript). If a list of folders is not shown, click the "Create in >>>" button (see image at right). Now select the folder called "Links" and then click OK. You should now see the TinyURL on your links toolbar, if not, see the last paragraph above.

Now, I actually did not need all this circus previously, because I had an add-on for Firefox which allowed you to right-click on a web-site and select “Create TinyURL link” option, which copied the newly created tiny url into my buffer (requiring from me only to paste it into the required place). Alas, this feature is not supported in Firefox 3.5 — I hope not for long.

Vanya



In other news, for Modeh B’Miktsas (listen just to the story at beginning and the very short discussion following it): Rabbi Paltiel’s discussion about the layers in Torah and the relationship between nigleh and Chassidus. A similar discussion exists at the beginning of the first shiurim for Ranat and Samech Vov ma’amorim (which you’re welcome to locate at Rabbi Paltiel’s web-site), but this discussion is more straightforward, and he gets to the point quicker.

Friday, August 14, 2009

On Apple and French architecture

What’s the similarity between Apple products (in here I am talking specifically about iPhones, but Macs too) and medieval French bathrooms?

In theory the idea of multitasking (i.e., two programs or two people — on different floors — at the same time) exists, but in practice it’s difficult to implement.


(source)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

On Canadian healthcare

From an article about Canadian healthcare system compared to American one:
Canadians have a longer life expectancy, lower infant mortality rates and lower rates of obesity and diabetes than people in the United States. Canadians' primary care doctors get paid more and spend more time with their patients than doctors across the border to the south.

But Canadians also wait twice as long for non-emergency care and sometimes come to the U.S. for specialized treatment.

Plus, comparing to Americans, they are just lame. I mean, they are like a bad mix between French, Italians and those Brits who live on the border of England and Wales.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sand animation: WWII

One of the coolest things I have seen in a long time. No comments necessary… (The songs are from the WWII culture in the former Soviet Union countries.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Charlie Chaplin and Brahms

Dedicated to MA state police



One morning when I awakened
Oh beauty bye, beauty bye, beauty bye-bye-bye!
One morning when I awakened
I found invaders all around

Oh partisan, come take me with you
Oh beauty bye, beauty bye, beauty bye-bye-bye!
Oh partisan, come take me with you
Because I feel ready to die

If I die fighting as a partisan
Oh beauty bye, beauty bye, beauty bye-bye-bye!
If I die fighting as a partisan
You must come and bury me

Bury me there, up in the mountains
Oh beauty bye, beauty bye, beauty bye-bye-bye!
Bury me there, up in the mountains
Shade my grave with a lovely flower

So all the people who pass that way
Oh beauty bye, beauty bye, beauty bye-bye-bye!
So all the people who pass that way
Will say "Oh see that lovely flower! - "

"Ah that's the flower of the partisan fighter - "
Oh beauty bye, beauty bye, beauty bye-bye-bye!
"Ah that's the flower of the partisan fighter
who died for freedom's sake!"
Another version:



In the mountains and foothills bloom edelweisses.
In the valley corncrake’s voice was heard.
We will soon see each other, we will be together
The road to you carries my song
We will soon see each other, we will be together
The road to you carries my song

Oh, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao,
Oh, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao,
Oh, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao,
Oh, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao, Ciao, Ciao.

Where brothers fell asleep forever under the earth,
Already the first shoots appear,
Sensing the sky and the smell of freedom.
There, the sun to you carries my song.
Sensing the sky and the smell of freedom.
There, the sun to you carries my song.

Oh, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao,
Oh, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao,
Oh, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao,
Oh, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao, Ciao, Ciao.

In the provinces that are small, in the homes of straw,
Where mills wave their wings
And women wave with their hands after us.
Their tenderness to you carries my song.
And women wave with their hands after us.
Their tenderness to you carries my song.

Oh, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao,
Oh, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao,
Oh, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao,
Oh, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao, Ciao, Ciao.

Smelling as fire thunderous storms
Already rage, rage away,
But their lights are not terrible, they shine on the road
The road that to you carries my song.
But their lights are not terrible, they shine on the road
The road that to you carries my song.

Oh, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao,
Oh, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao,
Oh, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao,
Oh, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao, Ciao, Ciao.

So sleep, the brothers, under the black earth,
In the mountains bloom again, edelweisses!
And thunderstorms, burn! Knives, cut bread!
And women weep! And the sprouts shoot up!
Where tenderness and the sun, and the path and hope
All to you alone carry my song.

Oh, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao,
Oh, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao,
Oh, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao,
Oh, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao, Bella, Ciao, Ciao, Ciao.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A man and a cat



As always, it sounds better in Russian. And the song actually has a happy tune. Which I guess makes this a very Russian song — sad lyrics, happy tune…
“Chelovek i koshka” (Человек и кошка) — A man and a cat

A man and a cat are crying next to a window.
Grey rain is dripping right on the glass.
To the man and the cat an emergency van is driving,
Poor man has spasm of his brain.

Doctor is driving, driving through snowy plains.
He is bringing curing powder to people.
The man and the cat will take the powder,
And the sorrow will retreat; sadness will go away.

The man and the man cat are counting days with difficulty,
Instead of a blue sky — gray ceiling.
The man and the cat are flying at night;
Only the non-prophetic dream does not allow for wings.

Doctor is driving, driving through snowy plains.
He is bringing curing powder to people.
The man and the cat will take the powder,
And the sorrow will retreat; sadness will go away.

Where, where, where are you, white carriage?
In the walls of a bathroom, the man is screaming.
But the walls do not hear him; pipes like veins.
And the toilet is ticking madly like heart.

Doctor is driving, driving through snowy plains.
He is bringing curing powder to people.
The man and the cat will take the powder,
And the sorrow will retreat; sadness will go away.

(From repertoire of the band Nol’ [Zero])
Thanks to my friend Henry G. who works with baby humans and adult ferrets.

P.S. No, it’s not about popularization of drugs. It’s about loneliness. Yes, I know what “P.S.” means.

Your whisper and laugh



More by Sukachyov:

Great news from the front

Such fun:

President Obama may have to raise taxes to pay for public health care and the growing deficit [rrreealllly?.. who could have guessed?..], an eventuality that administration officials touched lightly on Sunday as they promoted an economy emerging from recession.

With an expected deficit next year of $1.8 trillion, and spending still being planned for a $1 trillion, 10-year health care reform, officials say something will have to be done to prevent further erosion of the economy.

"We will not get this economy back on track, recovery will be not strong and sustained, unless we ... can convince the American people that we're going to have the will to bring these deficits down once recovery is firmly established," Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said on ABC's "This Week."

Asked point blank whether it was right to suggest it is a matter of when, not if, taxes will be raised, Geithner responded, "It is absolutely right."

But the president's team circling the Sunday morning news shows was quick to note that there are signs the recession is easing despite a persistent decline in job losses in the past six months [no worries then; all signs of improving economy here].

Administration officials say they hope to see positive economic growth before the end of the year, and credit the $787 billion Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed in February with preventing recession from going into depression.

The legislation — opposed by all but three Republicans in the House and Senate — was intended to help save or create 3 million to 4 million jobs. But since that time, the jobless rate has grown to 9.5 percent, higher than the administration predicted even without a stimulus package. [But that’s not because the administration’s model of the market, its prediction abilities, presence of common sense and in general the view of the Universe the administration is living in are all shit. It’s because… err… well, it would be even worse without the stimulus package, wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t it?]

Of course, raising new taxes and increasing minimum wage will make it more likely for new jobs to appear… Rrrrright?.. I mean, if you are a business owner, and your profit becomes even lower because you need to pay new taxes and pay more to each worker than the market (i.e., competition between businesses for workers) allows, you are not going to cut jobs; you are going to hire even more people. Yep, yep…

Also, friends, in case you were wondering, this is an image of an asshole:
July 28, 2009: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner offers a toast during a dinner after the first meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington, D.C. (Reuters)

July 28, 2009: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner offers a toast during a dinner after the first meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington, D.C. (Reuters)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Results of a political spectrum quiz

From here:
My Political Views

I am a far-right social libertarian
Right: 8.97, Libertarian: 6.13



My Foreign Policy Views

On the left side are pacifists and anti-war activists. On the right side are those who want a strong military that intervenes around the world. You scored: 4.09

Score: 4.09


My Culture War Stance
Where are you in the culture war? On the liberal side, or the conservative side? This scale may apply more to the US than other countries. You scored: -2.28
Score: -2.28


(Don’t know how the culture war results happened. Must be because of my cultural laissez-faire views.)