Friday, October 30, 2009

Truth, down to its innermost depths

Scales of different phenomena of the microworld here. Very-very cool representation.

I would, however, likes to see even smaller phenomena represented (such as nuclear particles), but perhaps because once you’re inside the atom, everything is pretty much empty space, and things are so small, it might be impossible.

Something which is very near and dear to my heart: “How to create a transgenic mouse”.

Something closer to my work: a video called “Epigenome at a glance” and an article “Epigenome learns from experience”.

And a hands-on exercise: interact with epigenome yourself.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Poetry slam in CH

Crown Heights have recently seen a poetry slam.

I don’t care about the slam itself, I am sorry to say. I am a lover of poetry, but find rhymeless English poetry lacking something. After you’ve eaten my grandaunt’s Napoleon, your generic version is not quite the same thing (but I do appreciate the effort). I do find the idea of self-expression, especially in CH (where one could say it is especially needed) wonderful.

I was, however, interested to read two posts about it, first describing the slammin’ crowd (“Wholly religious and yet wholly American and wholly secular — the sort of thing the Modern Orthodox seem to be striving for. Quite an accomplishment and hopefully a lesson to others as well.” — Very cool!), and the second describing a debate about the mixed sitting at the slam.

The posts:


Slam II

I found the second post quite very interesting, especially since I share many of the author’s personal experiences (replace an oversized tome of Talmud with an oversized science book) and questions about mingling among the genders — Halacha, Chassidus, community standards, normal social upbringing and all.

On the other hand, it’s interesting to consider the contents of this comment as well.

As I am reading the comments, it is getting better and better. For instance (abridged version).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How to lead

A really great video shared with me by my pianist friend about drawing lessons from conducting styles.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Some math

To go from one to two is difficult. To go from two to three can be even more difficult, especially if one of the two is more interested in it than the other. But then, the next step is one, and a greater one than from two.

But not everyone can see that. If someone is only thinking about him/herself, he/she will always remain one. Even when part of two.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bus stations

Artemiy Lebedev has been made the main designer in charge of revamping the image of Russian city Perm’ (Пермь).

For example, going from old bus stations (click on images to enlarge):

… to new ones:

(The red letter is П, first letter or Perm’. By the way, it’s practically the same letter as greek Pi… as in 3.14…)

People in the comments say: First suggestion is nice, but it can be hard to see approaching bus. So, maybe rotate it a bit:

[via Lebedev LJ blog — warning: R-rated]

Friday, October 9, 2009

Screen shot in a Mac store

Click on the image to enlarge. See the list of previous searches in the top right corner.


Anything done privately — without help of the government — is better done privately. Including charity. Especially charity.

People ask: “If the government doesn’t help poor people, who will?” What in the world does this mean? The same people who think they need to elect idiots to office in order to help poor people can help poor people themselves. Or through private companies, competing with each other for quality of service (in this case: charity… which is no different from, say, telephone or shoes).

Read my lips: Ignore the government. Do something yourself.

Libertarians are not heartless bastards. Libertarians believe that all the wonderful things liberals think the government should be doing can and should be done privately.

Think I am full of it? Watch this video. (The saddest thing is: this guy probably voted for Obama.)

Now tell me: whom do you want to take your charity money?
a) some pencil pusher in your state’s capital
b) Obama
c) this guy

A beard

Beard blog


Being happy

…means showing that you recognize that there is G-d in this world. Being unhappy means being a heretic. Or at least ungrateful.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cheap money

… and the shit we are in now.

Bottom line? Both Conservatives and Liberals are [censored]. Libertarians are the only that have any sense of what the fuck is going on.

Monday, October 5, 2009

About shirayim

I heard a story over Yom Kippur. Why am I telling it now? a) Because I started sinning again. b) I remembered it after reading the beard post on Basement Blogging (if you’re going to spend time reading it, read also the comments).

A little background [if not interested, skip to the story below]: In most Chassidic groups, the Rebbe eats a little bit from his plate, and then his Chassidim come and take a peace for each. The source of this comes from the idea that everything that a tzaddik owns becomes holy too, since tzaddikim serve Eibeshter on the level of b’chol meoidecho (“with all your might”), which means that ther serve Hashem with everything they do, own or touch — and impart the essence of themselves on this. (Which is why, incidentally, Yakov Avinu had to return for the little vessels.)

So, whatever the Rebbe partakes of becomes holy. And then his Chassidim partake of it to attach themselves to the Rebbe.

Well, for number of reasons, this is not a custom of Chabad Chassidim. In short, you attach yourselves to the Rebbe b’pnimiyus, not b’chitzoinius. By studying his teachings (which the Rebbe makes accessible for the Chassidim), not by holding on to his gartel. Even though elements of attaching oneself to the Rebbe through chitzoinius also exist in Chabad (after all, chitzoinius is part of the equation), pnimiyus is the ikkar.

Anyway, the story goes that a Jew from a different Chassidic background became a Lubavitch chossid, but did not know yet that in Chabad they don’t do shirayim. So, when he was in the presence of the Frierdiker Rebbe, as soon as the Rebbe started eating, he came over and attempted to take some food from the Rebbe’s plate. The Rebbe smiled at him and gave him the shirayim and then said: “By others, getting shirayim is a privilege. By us, getting shirayim is also a responsibility.”

* * *

Which brings me back to the topic of shaving. When my boss started wearing a beard (which he doesn’t wear anymore), one of my colleagues jokingly remarked that everybody else should shave. A similar idea exists, lehavdil, in certain communities. Only the rabbi wears a beard, since it is considered to be the honor, and everyone else shaves (with electric razor) or trims.

In Lubavitch, this idea is not considered to be appropriate for a few reasons:

Specifically about the beard —
1) Shaving or trimming down the beard is halachically forbidden due to a teshuva of Tzemach Tzedek, since shaving makes one to be like women. More about it here.
2) Since beard is a symbol and a counterpart (in human body, which is created “in the image of G-d”[’s spiritual “body” or “interface” in the upper worlds]) of Thirteen divine Attributes of Mercy, it does not make sense to cut the hairs of the beard. More about it here.
3) Beard is a sign of fear of Heaven (especially Lubavitch beard, which is clearly not worn for stylistic reasons). In the same famous teshuva, Tzemach Tzedek paskens that if a shochet moves from Russia to Germany and start removing his beard, one may not buy his meat (since he apparently experience a lowering of yiras shomayim), even though one may buy meat of the German shochet who had always shaved. More about it (and in general about the beard) here.

About the idea of setting the leader apart —
4) We honor the Rebbe by following his example. The Rebbe is set apart by the fact that we consider his opinion on Yiddishkeit and life in general a law and his teachings a recipe for bringing this world to its goal and purpose — revelation of G-dliness in this world with coming of Geula. Not by some external shtick.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

People who know how to have fun — 2

Chessed and gevurah

The most bizarre thing I’ve seen in a while. Well, today.

You know you want to watch this in HD.

My favorite characters were the dude in the hussar uniform in a hat with a feather (which matched his beard so well) and the people who kept walking around with chairs.