RainbowCon 2.1 (our second convention, in our third year, thanks to a brief hiatus for moving) will be held on May 4-6, 2018! North American Guest of Honor is Cat Faber; Overseas Guest of Honor is Gwen Knighton Raftery. We are hoping there will be a toastmaster, but we don't have a name to announce for that yet.
Location is 4414 Skyline Drive, Freeland WA (on beautiful Whidbey Island), and there is information about local hotel options for people who want them. The new location has two acres of outdoor space in which we can spread out, hold our traditional maypole dance, and have outdoor song circles around the fire pit. Keep your eyes open for our neighborhood deer, who like to browse on the lawn.
We're still doing free membership but accepting donations to offset the out-of-pocket expenses of bringing our guests here and running this thing, for those who are able and willing to contribute. We welcome members who want to run events -- workshops, games, theme circles, or whatever. RainbowCon is a participatory event... everyone's welcome to take a turn at leading if they want to, but nobody is required to do more than show up and have fun!
Please contact email@example.com with membership requests, or questions about the convention. Ditto if you want to be part of the programming. It will be really helpful to us if we can get early memberships, because then we'll be able to block out hotel space nearby.
We look forward to seeing you here!
Smokey, however, is having none of that. When Ruth sits on the sofa, Smokey will get on with her, walk across her, sit next to her (if not quite ON her). When I do it? I get this look of horror and disgust. "UR DOIN IT RONG!" it shrieks. I've tried using the footrest, not using the footrest, knitting, not knitting, reading, watching TV ... nope. I'm sure part of the problem is that I'm a different shape from Ruth, and not as tall, so I'm inclined to slide. But still - "UR DOIN IT RONG!"
No, I don't know either.
Today she has been also disgusted that I didn't have steak, I had smoked haddock risotto, and didn't offer her any, and Felix Tuna flavour cat food with dentibits is no fit substitute. Hard cheddar, Smokey, my lass. She'll get a few more bits of *whisper* Thrive if she comes and asks nicely.
In other Far East news, I arrived this morning, dumped my bags, got my breath back, set the laptop up (for some arcane reason it had forgotten this wifi - probably something to do with the software upgrade earlier this year...), had coffee & a snack, and then went out to Westfield. I returned, somewhat knackered from stairs and a bit infuriated that the signs direct you to Central Line - Eastbound, and not till you GET there do they say 'step-free access via the other corridor' by which time you'd have to turn round and walk twice as far as you already have. So I struggled slowly up the steps, and by the time I'd got down the ones at Leytonstone, my knees were killing me. Also now my right ankle is sulking. However, I got what I went for - another backpack from Claire's, this time in plain beige fabric, a slightly different construction; it's got a stiffened top opening with free ends to the zip, and the front pocket is a full U-shaped opening rather than just a rounded-corner straight-across; also, no detachable pocket inside, just a padded internal pocket. £15, reduced from £35, which is OK. I've transferred everything over, and as far as I can tell, all the pockets are a bit larger, which is good - means I may be able to fit three knitting projects in instead of two! Also I got a bag of soft brown sugar, which is what I like on my morning cereal - I'd been meaning to bring a small jar of it from home, but forgot. That's OK, I'll open this carefully, seal it back into a ziplock bag to go home next week, and it can go off the shopping list for a while longer.
Yesterday Cloudflare, a service that increases reliability (and speed?) of web sites, shut down the Daily Stormer web site. Daily Stormer, if you haven't heard, is the site for the a hate group with broad impact in the US, most recently in the violence and murder in Charlottsville.
Their CEO's blog post announcing the termination isn't just a "they're evil and they're gone" announcement like you sometimes see. It's a thoughtful post that explains the dilemmas faced by the organizations that, by and large, make the Internet work, and what dangers this decision opens up.
Our team has been thorough and have had thoughtful discussions for years about what the right policy was on censoring. Like a lot of people, we’ve felt angry at these hateful people for a long time but we have followed the law and remained content neutral as a network. We could not remain neutral after these claims of secret support by Cloudflare.
Now, having made that decision, let me explain why it's so dangerous.
[...] Someone on our team asked after I announced we were going to terminate the Daily Stormer: "Is this the day the Internet dies?" He was half joking, but only half. He's no fan of the Daily Stormer or sites like it. But he does realize the risks of a company like Cloudflare getting into content policing.
I also found this tidbit interesting:
In fact, in the case of the Daily Stormer, the initial requests we received to terminate their service came from hackers who literally said: "Get out of the way so we can DDoS this site off the Internet."
After finding that post I found this post on Gizmodo that, among things, quotes from internal email he sent.
This was my decision. Our terms of service reserve the right for us to terminate users of our network at our sole discretion. My rationale for making this decision was simple: the people behind the Daily Stormer are assholes and I’d had enough.
Let me be clear: this was an arbitrary decision. It was different than what I’d talked talked with our senior team about yesterday. I woke up this morning in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the Internet. I called our legal team and told them what we were going to do. I called our Trust & Safety team and had them stop the service. It was a decision I could make because I’m the CEO of a major Internet infrastructure company. [...] No one should have that power.
I don't have a coherent opinion yet. On the one hand, policing content is a dangerous game and why I support net neutrality. On the other hand, private companies (and individuals) should be free to act (legally) in their own interests; companies have been refusing service to unacceptable customers on a case-by-case basis for years. On the third hand, there are differences between competitive markets and monopoly markets. (Within monopolies there are government-sponsored ones and we're-big-and-drove-everybody-out ones too.) Balancing all of that is hard.
There're lots of gorgeous photos & great snark.
There're lots of gorgeous photos & great snark.
The mishna begins a chapter with an overview of how civil and capital cases are conducted:
Both civil and capital cases require inquiry and examination of witnesses. (This is done by the judges; there are no lawyers.)
Civil cases are tried by a court of three; capital cases are tried by a court of 23.
When the judges deliberate on civil cases, they may begin with arguments for either acquittal or condemnation. When they deliberate on capital cases, they must begin with arguments for acquittal.
Civil cases may be decided by a majority of one; capital cases may be decided by a majority of one for acquittal, but require a majority of at least two for condemnation.
In civil cases the decision may be reversed in either direction (for example upon the discovery of an error). In capital cases the decision may be reversed from condemnation to acquittal but not the other way around.
In civil cases, all present (including the pupils who are observing) may argue for or against the defendant. In capital cases, anybody may argue for acquittal but only the judges may argue for condemnation.
In civil cases, one who has previously argued for either acquittal or condemnation may then argue for the other side (for example because he realized his argument was faulty). In capital cases, one who has argued for condemnation may then argue for acquittal but not the other way around.
Civil cases are tried by day and concluded by night if necessary.
Capital cases are tried by day and must be concluded by day. Civil cases can be concluded on the same day (either way); capital cases can be concluded on the same day for acquittal but not until the following day for condemnation. Therefore trials are not held on the eve of Shabbat or a festival.
In civil cases we begin with the opinion of the most eminent of the judges; in capital cases we begin with the opinion of the least ("those on the side benches").
All types of Jews (presumably they mean men) are eligible to try civil cases, but converts and bastards cannot judge capital cases.
(32a, which begins chapter 4)
Nine hours later and gums still bleeding.
Lost track of my medications schedule , especially since the dentist prescribed me a new antibiotic in place of the old one, so I have dosed myself much too close together.
Have not been able to think very straight for a number of hours.
Go kommer highbury hjem og som du og kommer strækninger man altid gæster karlekammer vores unikke kæmpe bølge
But there's something to be said for being home in time to read to Katie. :)
Monsters of Charlottesville, you have renounced any moral claim you might have ever had to the rights and privileges of American citizenship. The First Amendment protects your right to spew your hate. It also protects my right to say that you are vile, and have no place in a civilized society. The First Amendment also protects the right of citizens to *peaceably* assemble, but clearly you have no interest whatsoever in that.
You have no support from decent people, from good people, from moral people. If you bring your hate to my state, I will be there to tell you that you are not welcome. You disgust me, but you do not frighten me, and you do not intimidate me. The American Spirit is stronger than you. The Constitution is stronger than you.
You have allied yourselves with the most repulsive and murderous regime in human history. In the name of the six million, I shun you.
Meanwhile, I am just about to fix my last bug for this release (I hope!) unless someone finds something else that I should be working on. We'll see how that goes.
The torah portion begins with Moshe describing to the people the rewards they'll receive for following in God's ways -- people and flocks will be fruitful, crops will be bountiful, none will be barren, there'll be no sickness or plagues, and they'll be victorious over the other nations. This is one of several places where the torah describes rewards for doing mitzvot. This is hard to understand, though, because the world doesn't work this way -- we do have people who want children and are barren, we do have sickness, crops aren't always bountiful, and so on. The good sometimes suffer and the wicked sometimes flourish. So how are we supposed to understand this?
(Spoiler warning: I don't have deep answers to this age-old problem. I have some thoughts.)
One approach we could take is to place it in context. Moshe is speaking to the Israelites at the end of their 40-year trek to the promised land. They're standing on the shore of the Yarden, about to cross over and conquer the land after this speech. Perhaps Moshe is speaking to these people in this time. There's even an ambiguously-placed "in the land that He will give you" (in 7:13), so maybe this promise isn't for everybody forever.
That's not very satisfying, though. The torah is supposed to be eternal, for us and not just for them.
Another approach was taken by the rabbis at least as early as the mishna (in Pirke Avot): Olam HaBa, the world to come. If we aren't rewarded in this world, Olam HaZeh, then we will be later. There are even mitzvot for which we get rewarded in both; we list some of them in eilu d'varim in the morning service. We should still focus on this world, not obsess about an afterlife like some other religions do, but an afterlife gives another opportunity for reward. I'm not sure how satisfying this is to most people, either.
I'd like to propose two additional dimensions to what the torah says about rewards, two additional axes to consider.
The first is communal versus individual actions and rewards. Sometimes the torah addresses us in the singular and sometimes in the plural. Some rewards, like bountiful crops, are clearly communal -- it's pretty hard for me to have a good harvest with rain in its proper season and so on while my immediate neighbor has the opposite. Some rewards could be individual, like health. Obligations, too, come in individual and communal varieties; we all have individual obligations in the mitzvot, but the whole community together has some too, like setting up courts, bringing communal offerings, and conducting wars in particular ways. And sometimes individual obligations can bring communal rewards -- there's a rabbinic tradition that if every Jew in the world were to keep (the same) Shabbat once, we'd get the moshiach. Quite aside from the individual rewards for keeping Shabbat -- you get Shabbat, a day of rest -- there can be a big communal reward.
When looking for rewards for our actions, therefore, we should look to both our individual and our communal benefits. Even if you're not feeling personally rewarded for following torah, maybe you're helping your whole community live in safety, health, and comfort. That counts, too.
The second dimension is the question of whom we do mitzvot for.
The Reform movement is not a halachic movement. Ok, technically we do say that the ethical mitzvot are binding and it's only the ritual ones that are optional, but those ethical mitzvot align pretty well with values we already have anyway like not stealing, being honest in business, caring for the poor, and many others. Among the others, we choose -- sometimes as a community and sometimes individually -- which mitzvot have meaning to us and we do those. Many of us find meaning in Shabbat, in communal worship like our morning minyan, in study, in many social-justice pursuits, and more.
If our progressive values and halacha conflict, however, we reinterpret (occasionally) or set aside (usually) halacha. By and large, we do the mitzvot that we do for ourselves, for the good feelings they produce and the values they align with.
When we do mitzvot for ourselves, maybe that good feeling that we get is the reward for doing the mitzvah. That's fair -- we're rewarded here and now, in Olam HaZeh, for doing mitzvot. Isn't that what we wanted?
So we tend to do mitzvot for ourselves, but there's an alternative. If we believe that torah is mi Sinai, from God, then we should do mitzvot not for ourselves but for God. Even the goofy ones, the ones we don't understand and don't find personal meaning in. (I struggle with this, to be clear.) I don't know too many people who find spiritual fulfillment in sha'atnez, the law against combining linen and wool, but it's something God cares about. Last week a friend and I were talking about kitniyot, the additional foods that Ashkenazim don't eat during Pesach even though they're not chametz, forbidden grains. (A bunch of other foods got implicated by association.) My friend is a thoughtful, intelligent person who wrestles with torah and seeks to understand; he's not one to just say "tell me what to do and I'll do it". He told me that some of these decisions about kitniyot are clearly wrong -- but nonetheless the halachic system that God gave us produced this result, so he follows it. For God, not for himself.
The name of our portion, Eikev, comes from the same root as Ya'akov, heel-grabber. I don't remember where I heard this idea, but perhaps this word is meant to remind us not to trample on mitzvot just because we think they're minor or goofy. Who's to say which ones God most cares about?
What's the reward for doing mitzvot for God and not for us? Is there a reward for putting up with ridiculous-seeming food restrictions for Pesach, for waving greenery around on Sukkot, for checking fiber contents on our clothing, for separating meat and milk dishes, and many other things? When we're not doing mitzvot for our own benefit the rewards can be less clear, but if we have faith that God gave us the torah at all, why shouldn't we also have faith that God will deliver on His promises in some way at some time?
When looking at rewards for torah, either individual or communal, perhaps we should have less focus on specific rewards for specific deeds. Instead, let us do right and trust God to respond.
Please give a huge TK welcome to our latest Star Kit, Muffin. She is 1 years old from Abbottabad, Pakistan.
I was really excited when I was getting Muffin from my friend. Her mother had rejected her and I had to keep her. My dad was really mad at me and told me to leave her but I used to hide her from him so he wouldn’t notice her.
But she used to come out when I wasn’t home and used to play in my dad’s feet and he eventually started loving her and he’s always like “Bring her here so I can play with her.”