Yellow and purple: a parable of sexism

Last update on Nov. 29, 2014.

Yellow and purple: a parable of sexism

A faraway planet is populated by a sentient species that comes in two genetic varieties, the Yellows and the Purples. These two varieties are more or less equal in their physical and intellectual abilities, with one glaring difference: the Yellows periodically have to go to the bathroom, and the Purples do not.

(You may ask ...

Continue reading

Tap, tap, tap

Last update on Nov. 16, 2014.

Is this thing still on?

They do not speak in my name, nor I in theirs

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

As the Midrash says, there are seventy faces of Torah. I have chosen to follow a certain path within Orthodox Judaism, but I’m willing to admit that other paths are also valid. In particular, if other Jewish men and women find spiritual benefit from practicing a higher level of gender segregation than I favor ...

Continue reading

Putting the financial system in the red

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

Yesterday, Fred Wilson, a prominent New York venture capitalist, had some kind words for Bitcoin, the crypto-currency that is “mined” by computers solving progressively harder math problems:

We are quite taken with the idea of a currency that is not controlled by governments and central bankers and that is based on faith in an algorithm ...

Continue reading

When Scalzi called it “Omelas State University” he was being generous

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

A columnist for The Nation quotes a Penn State student defending Joe Paterno, the football coach who allegedly shielded a child rapist from the law:

If not for Paterno…Pennsylvania State might still be an agriculture school and [the city of] State College might be lucky if there were a Wal-Mart within a 30-mile radius ...

Continue reading

Two cheers for government debt

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

If the Occupy Wall Street movement has done nothing else, it has pushed the mainstream media to actually talk about income inequality. Of course, now that the encampments have been rousted in New York, Oakland, and elsewhere, the punditocracy is free to return to its previous obsession, Teh Deficit. Better still, the Congressional deficit-busting “supercommittee ...

Continue reading

Some scrolls regarding proper treatment of scrolls

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

Mishnah Bava Metzia 2:8 (this is in the chapter discussing the laws of returning lost objects to their rightful owner; cf. Deuteronomy 22:1–3):

Someone who finds [lost] scrolls should read from them once every thirty days. And if he does not know how to read, he should roll them. But he should ...

Continue reading

Voice recognition technology? In a phone? In Scotland?

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

Siri, the virtual personal assistant that comes with the new iPhone 4S, is advertised to understand English as she is spoke in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Somebody forgot to tell Apple’s engineers that Scotland is part of the United Kingdom, so the poor electronic lass is mistaking “cheers” for “chairs”… ...

Continue reading

George W. Bush, untaxer of the poor

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

In response to the we are the 99% movement, a number of right-wingers have focused attention on the fact that only 53% of Americans pay Federal income taxes. (This statistic ignores all the other kinds of taxes that lower-income folks pay, but set that aside for a moment.) Who is responsible for this mass legalized ...

Continue reading

Milestones

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

About twenty years ago, I spent a month in Argentina, visiting a high-school friend, practicing my Spanish, and getting a socially inept gringo’s view of Buenos Aires. If I want to remember exactly which year I was there, I look up a biography of Rudolf Hess, the Nazi who had been second in line ...

Continue reading