Thursday, January 10, 2008

Not sure what is going on when a Ghandi writes things like this...

Gandhi's grandson blasts Israel, Jews | Jerusalem Post


"Apparently, in the modern world, so determined to live by the bomb, this is an alien concept," he wrote, concluding: "You don't befriend anyone, you dominate them. We have created a culture of violence (Israel and the Jews are the biggest players) and that culture of violence is eventually going to destroy humanity."

Later on this clarification/retraction/ass covering...

"I am writing to correct some regrettable misimpressions I have given in my comments on my blog this week. While I stand behind my criticisms of the use of violence by recent Israeli governments - and I have criticized the governments of the US, India and China in much the same way - I want to correct statements that I made with insufficient care, and that have inflicted unnecessary hurt and caused anger," he wrote.

I think part of the problem is that Ghandi and company don't understand the situation which goes back well over a thousand years. How can they? Modern Israelis and Jews at large have precious little understanding themselves, but they're closer to the problem and more in a position to feel their way through. It's sort of like my own town. We haven't got a clue how to fix our town, but we still have more relevance than the state much less federal government.

One parallel however is that the modern state of Israel has whether they like it or not become as occupational a government as the apartheid government of South Africa was, even though they were all native to that land as much as those who were oppressed. It matters not at all that the Israeli people have a long-standing claim to the land predating the Arab peoples there now, but you could also say that the Italians via their Roman predecessors have a claim as well. They were also occupiers too even if they were there long enough for citizens of the empire to be born, raised, and serve there. It didn't matter. The fact is, you have a government making a claim to rightful dominion and a very large number of governed people in opposition.

Some might wonder what my view are of the whole place and the solutions. I'll tell you.

First, I am for a one state solution with a constitution protecting the freedom of religious practices of all who live there within reason of doing no harm. Human sacrifice for instance would be right out. I am inherently against religious states be they Islamic, Christian, Jewish, etc. It is not a matter of the dominant religious affiliation of the citizenry. Anyone can by simple choice separate their religious beliefs from their secular beliefs. I see people do it without even trying every single day in the USA. We're not some strange mutant variety of people here. If we can do it, any humans can.

Second, while I believe on a religious basis in the right of Israel to exist, I am more concerned with the rights of collectives* in most cases needing to be earned. Otherwise they are privileges at best, and onerous burdens to the rest of the planet's population at worst. Does Israel deserve another chance at existing? I believe that the answer is most surely yes. No one else who has governed the area has done very much with it if anything, treating it as an afterthought on a day to day basis while holding on to it for dear life at the cost of much bloodshed in the name of religion. Vatican City for instance is ornate and well taken care of. Jerusalem under it's emissaries never was. Mecca is well maintained by Muslims. Jerusalem under them never was.

Who has bothered to install proper water, sewer, gas, and electrical infrastructure? Who has bothered to put in multilingual schools? Who has bothered to build an economic system with international ties of long term and deep substance? You know that answer and it wasn't Great Britain, Turkey, Egypt, etc.

I therefore would leave the current Israeli system largely intact, but with a reformed constitution and system to absorb and embrace the Muslims, Christians, and others. Some will say that Jews exclusively by prophecy have a right to the land, but G-d has put to us that charity, piety, love, and compassion are important to Him. How can we deny anyone their home, which they under various rulers have lived in for centuries, and say we cannot be denied a home? G-d so loved us that He gave us a whole world to our selves with no other intelligent creatures on it. He spoiled us by not making us right up front learn sharing with an entirely other intelligent race. Perhaps He believed we'd sooner or later learn to share amongst ourselves, but sadly we seem ill able to figure it out. Our ability to relate to others and have empathy for them seems running out and all of us taking inflexible positions.

Do I expect the Palestinians to go along with it? No. I only wish they'd see that as much as the returning Jews coming back from centuries in other places, everyone there has a right to live in peace. Nor do I expect Israel in reflexive defensive position to embrace the Palestinians either. Yet... If they do not all learn to get along soon, the rest of the world may involve itself to death.


*As opposed to the rights of individuals which I feel are far more important to us as religiously, I feel that G-d's first relation to us is personal and individual, not collective, when He allots for us to be in His universe

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

WordPress MultiUser test verdict: Fail

I've been tossing around in my head an idea for a Jewish blogger site that gathered multiple blogs together in a better community format.

My first attempt at studying the structures and software out there was to install XAMPP from Apache Friends on my machine and try WordPress MU on it. The bugs and problems were many but thanks to relatively good Google-Fu, I managed to fight my way to what I found to be a common problem of such things: blind spot in smtp linkage.

No plugin I could find would allow external SMTP server usage for it, all were apparently written for regular WP.

Also, it creates subdomain blogs as in user.domain.topdomain and has no system to properly tie them together that doesn't involve immense geekery and I spend enough time entering things of the sort, ip route, all day long. I don't want to have to master PHP programming on top of everything else I do to make something as simple as WP on Apache work.

So, fail. Big time fail, WP. On to phpBB version whatever.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

My brain just exploded...

Frum Satire - The Rantings of A Frum Yid With A Warped Perspective

underground world of Hasidic pubic hair customs.

Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow...

Must people say phrases like that?!

Monday, January 7, 2008

A little of what The Prophecy trilogy means to me

I like to imagine how a movie story can be explained, rationalized, etc. as a creative exercise of my own. So The Prophecy trilogy for me was a good one to work on.

How can G-d let an angel of all things go loose messing up His creation like that? Assumption: even angels have free will without which the whole fallen angel legend falls apart. They can disobey. They know right from wrong deep down, and do something in accordance or against it.

How can G-d let an angel who's done that come back? Assumption: G-d is endlessly forgiving and we all assume or hope for that in fear of what if he isn't. All that is needed is the true repentance that comes with knowing the truth, and then accepting it. It's a horribly short and insufficient way of putting it but I think you get what I'm saying.

Okay, so Gabriel does all that killing, and then comes back at the end to grace. In between is the lesson of how. He becomes arrogant as Lucifer says, and that's evil, and that's the devil's. He is punished in the usual way but is spat out because well, you've got two devils and that's one too many in Hell.

I learn from this that punishment does not bring the recognition of the truth, merely a desire to avoid punishment. Your actions may not violate, but your spirit does. If your spirit be right, then you need fear nothing for nothing would you do deserving of punishment.

His lesson is learned amongst humans after Michael takes away Gabriel's mark of G-d and this tells me symbolically that G-d can indeed remove your elevated status whatever you've achieved. Even an angel can be humbled. You too can, and it isn't actually that G-d does it, YOU do it to yourself by virtue of your actions having (somewhat predictable) outcomes.

(G-d's world is not perfect nor can it be for it to have meaning. There must be the simple adversity of unpredictability. In other words, bad shit happens to good people.  However, if you knock over a vase onto the floor, it will probably hit the floor and break. Insult someone, and they will most likely be upset with you. Some things are deterministic. However, the interplay of deterministic events on a suitable scale is beyond computation and amounts to probabilistic chaos at best and this is where you have to try to follow the simple rules, pay attention to the little things, and feel your way through. If you need to hear this from me, you really didn't pay attention to Star Trek. It does point up though the saying in Hagakure that things of large importance should be taken lightly and things of small importance taken seriously.)

Among humans, he sees how they live and sees the desperation and hope they still manage to have despite that desperation. Like a child being taught to swim and being dared by an adult to strike out into the water and trust they won't be allowed to drown, G-d talks to us and we hear Him somewhere deep inside us across what seems like a vast gulf, and we strike out from the material everyday world of what we can hold on to and fearfully reach for G-d... who seems just out of reach. It's frightening. As Lucifer says, it's so hard to have faith...

Yet... we do. In some small way it is an act of hope to fill your car's gas tank because it implies you think you will be going somewhere. Not that you might, but that your estimation is that you are so likely to go somewhere as makes no difference between that and definitely going somewhere.

People rarely consider these things.

When I can get it together right, I will do a take on The Matrix trilogy.

Prayer is not a team sport or...

...why minyans and full synagogues are as irrelevant as born-again revival tent gatherings if you don't actually believe.

No, that's not a link because the article is right here. I'm writing it here and now.

Since starting down the road to conversion I've mixed in online amongst other Jews, both born and by choice, and witnessed a wide variety of ideas, concepts, beliefs, and temperaments and personalities. From the outside any group seems very insular and homogenous for two reasons.

Firstly, if there's anything about a grouping of people to differentiate them into that group and not that group, it must have been long enough for someone to notice and that gives the appearance of it being insular to some degree. Insularity also results from the following behavior of the group.

Secondly, if you're not part of that group then it is likely you don't spend significant time within that group and hence have as much familiarity with it as you do the sights outside your car as you are driving. You might drive past the same places every day, but you drive. You don't walk and stumble over them. You see a coarse-grained picture repeatedly enough to get the coarse points down. You make inferences based on sane logic as to some of the finer points between. For instance, you see a fence between two houses and it registers that it is a picket fence and your mind can fill in the structural details most likely to be involved.

Having dove into Judaism and looked it over from a wide variety of angles I have a better understanding. Re-read that sentence. First, I said I have "a" understanding. Most emphatically I do not claim to have "the" understanding. That's G-d's own realm and He cannot tell me that which I cannot reasonably already know. Unless He has some weird purpose He doesn't act like a spiritual source does for clairvoyants. Second, I said "better". As in preferable to some previous state in time. Since it wasn't "best" it infers if only weakly that even better than that is possible. Put them together and you see that I have more ahead of me. Do I need to explain this? Well, in a world where people worry that using the word "ladies" in an Orthodox organization's output is sexist or otherwise demeaning, yes I damn well do have to explain it.

What have I learned? I have learned that Jews are much like Catholics and Protestants of today in that they are similarly torn between centralized hierarchical orthodoxy and their own personal interpretations with a great stress of lack of relevance whether real or imagined, most likely imagined, sitting on that span between.

I've never been one for formal shows of faith. When they don't come from the heart, even when they seem to be on the part of the participants to be great efforts for that purpose of G-d's, whatever it is conceived to be at the time, they are inevitably for some other reason. It may be a good one. It just isn't the one we want it to be. On the other hand, when you realize exactly the reason truthfully you're doing it and that reason is a good one, it can be a powerful thing.

Bad reason: because others expect it and you've gotten some idea that maybe it will make you a better person. You need help psychologically and by this I don't mean professional help but a deep self-analysis of your ideas and world views and paring away of your inherent bullshit. This takes honesty to you which is tantamount to honesty before G-d since when you die like when you are born, you're alone but for G-d. He knows when you're full of it and you need to get down to that with him. Trust me, he's not a sadistic bastard. He'll laugh about it and hug you spiritually. You need to stop fearing damnation and punishment.

Good reason: because others expect it and you know now that you are a better person and want to share it with other people. What makes you a better person is that you have faith in what is right and want to help others out of despair towards shining true faith of their own, but have the recognition that you cannot create it for them, only cut back any bullshit from your quarter that might obfuscate it for them. Enable faith in other words by not disabling it first.

I've seen revivals and whatnot. If you do it for the idea that somehow you need saving, well no one else will do it. I guarantee you if you want to see moshiach you need only go look in the mirror, and then accept it. G-d works through us for our betterment, and just as when you ache for someone fucked up on drugs, even He can't help you if you won't let Him.

This is the furthering of the bad in the bad reason. If you hold on to the bad idea like a talisman, it provides a security blanket against the cold hard reality that you need to be honest with you about you. After a while, you have ever harder a time trying to see outside that blanket and when the snap comes, the worse it is.

So my advice is don't worry about minyan so much as your own faith. If you are truly faithful and believe, then worry about minyan, but more for the help you provide others just by praying with them than what you get out of it. If you aren't, work on finding out why.

Me? I spent years being so afraid G-d didn't like me that I spent those years not liking me for Him. I'm still shy and embarrassed and do not wish to soil the experience of others with my self-doubts and possible insincerity. When I speak the words, I want to have their meaning to others but more importantly to me down pat, accepted, part of me.

I need time. Of course with my current job hours, I have that.