Thursday, June 30, 2005

Forhead pays for school

For $10,000 and a brighter future for her son, Kari Smith on Wednesday became a real life pop-up ad for a virtual casino.

Smith shows off the new ad site. She plans to use the $10,000 to send her son Brady, left, to a private school.
click here for full story

What does her son learn from this?

  • Gambling is good.

  • Selling your body (much like a prostitute) is good.

  • His mom says, laughing, "My brain is already numb"

  • His mom has a gigantic forehead.

  • Private school only costs $10,000

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

What goes to the next world?

Related
What actually goes to the next world?

Monday, June 27, 2005

What is a neshoma?

A post and conversation over at Godol Hador got me thinking about what a neshoma(soul) is.

What is a soul?

Let me know. k,thanks.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Walk of Fame

Are they running out of people to give stars to?!

Ebert Gets A Star

The Jewish Athiest Responds

I asked The Jewish Atheist what type of atheist he is. I thank him for taking the time to write a response for me.

I few things trouble me about his answers.

Before I continue, I don't know if The Jewish Atheist is male or female but I think I picked up someone on her blog that she is a she. So I am referring to her in feminine. If this is incorrect, I will edit this post to reflect.

Technically, I am a strong atheist

First she calls herself a strong atheist when the entire essay she wrote points to herself being a weak atheist. She questions about Judaism that were not answered satisfactorily, which lead her to question Gods existence. She even concludes "I can't prove that God doesn't exist". She doesn’t lend one argument to God not existing. To me, this makes her a weak atheist even though she believes herself to be a strong one.

The six days' account of creation seemed to contradict Evolution

No it doesn’t and if you still feel it does, the Rambam says you don’t need to believe it literally.

what the firmament was. He said, "I always thought of it as the stratosphere." Huh??

You got a bad answer and you questioned further. That is very commendable. Most of the religious people I meet refuse to think.

no mention of dinosaurs or of mass extinctions (pre-Flood)

It doesn’t record what Moses had for breakfast the day before he went up the mountain. Everything needs to be recorded?

Well, so, maybe it was metaphorical. Maybe it was just a pretty story. But then what about the rest of the Torah? Was the Flood just a story? How about Abraham? I was a big reader of fiction as well as science books and the stories in the Torah certainly read like fiction. Don't Adam and Eve, Cain and Able, Isaac and Ishmael, Isaac and Esau sound like fiction? Aren't they a little too pat to be historical record? Joseph and the multicolored coat? Come on, now. What about Egypt? How do I know that even happened?

We don’t know for sure that any story happened. I don’t think it changes my belief system at all. What if it is all a story and not factual? What if God made it up? So what? I don’t think it would change anything. The torah is used as a tool to get laws from. That’s really it. Who cares if we get the laws from truths or stories?

But if God wrote the Torah, or if God even talked to Moses, or talked to anyone, why didn't He take some easy steps to alleviate suffering? Couldn't he have just explained about tiny, invisible bugs that cause illness? If God exists at all, why does He allow such misery in the world? Why the earthquakes?

Some would say because the things we perceive as bad and good are just part of Gods reward and punishment system. I don't agree with that necessarily. I don't know if all the things you listed are really bad. They are just interpreted as bad. Maybe they are good. Maybe 'suffering' in this world leads to a better eternity after life? Who can say why good things and bad things happen. You ask the same question Moses asked. People tell me to look in Iyov(Job). I never have. I wont fib an answer to you like you have gotten from your Rabbis. I will straight out tell you that I don't know. But me not knowing doesn’t hinder my belief in God. God has reasons. I am not God. I don't know them.

If God exists at all, why does He allow such misery in the world...Why the holocaust and child slavery?

Are you asking why God didn’t create a Utopia? Why do your arguments stop at the holocaust; why not push is further and ask why did God make killers, why did God make people get mad, why did God make people disagree, why didn’t God make people all think the same, why didn’t God create a world of robots instead of people with the ability to choose... God wants us to choose our direction.

Why does the Torah hate gay people so much? Why does it allow slavery and condone genocide (e.g. of the Midionites and Amalek?) Even if it's not literal, even if the Torah is just allegory, and even if God inspired it rather than dictated it, shouldn't it be a better book? Shouldn't it be more moral?

The torah isn’t a moral book. Morals are determined by humans. The laws from the book aren’t based on Morals. What the heck is Kasharus about for goodness sake? Don’t know. Don’t care. It’s the law derived from the law book(not history book).

I read about other religions, past and present. I wondered, did the Greeks and Romans literally believe in their mythologies? How were my Rabbis so sure that the Torah is true but the New Testament is false? Why were the Muslims as confident that they're right as we were that we were? Wasn't it unlikely that I was just born into the right denomination of the one true religion? Didn't Muslims and Baptists and Catholics all think the same thing? Why hadn't all the smartest, best, and most learned people in the world converted to Orthodox Judaism if it's so obvious that we were right?

‘Cause it’s a belief. Its not knowledge. I can ask the same about atheism. “why aren’t all the top scholars atheists”?


Long ago before videorecorders and Richter scales, Moses supposedly split a sea. Before we knew that the Earth rotates, the Greeks believed a god pulled the sun around the earth each day. The Egyptians thought the sun was God. Jesus supposedly walked on water.

Also, Chazal thought the earth was flat. The rabbis can be wrong and they are. We only need follow them with regard to law. Nothing else. Not science, history, astrology. Nothing. Just law.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

100 Grand

If you had 100 Grand, what would you do?
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - A woman who won a radio contest that promised the winner "100 grand" sued after the station gave her a candy bar - a Nestle's 100 Grand - instead of $100,000....

...Before her family went to sleep that night, Gill says, she promised her children - ages 1, 5 and 11 - that they'd have a minivan, a shopping spree, a savings account and a home with a back yard....
This woman thinks 100,000 dollars is going to end her life woes for ever and make her one of the richest people in the world.

Minivan: $25,000
Shopping Spree: $10,000
A Home With A Back Yard: $450,000
Bankrupt Woman With A Candy Bar: Priceless.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

II. Life

Now that we have discovered there is a divine presence out there, the next step is to understand how that presence relates to us. Before picking a religion, we have to understand why we are here. For the sake of ease of writing, I will write "God" to mean "some divine presence out there", for we have not explored the possibility of "some divine presence out there" being multiple beings or other ideas. There are many different approaches to how God relates to us, how we view our purpose here, and which versions of history we agree with. All of these different ideas make up the different religions. Religion is a super hard topic to cover and has an extremely large breathe of information.

Ok, we’ve got a God. Now what? The next question someone should ask is what does He ‘want’ from me and why am I here? I don’t wish to use any sacred texts or emotion/spirituality. I will try to decipher this mystery by using my brain. As I emphasized in my first essay about God, using just the brain is very important.

God created the universe. Believing in evolution does not contradict Gods creation of the universe. The idea of just six days of creation versus billions of years of creation, is not being discussed here. Perhaps in a later essay I will address this topic. The point here is that God created the universe- in whichever fashion and a result is that humans exist. So God created humans. It was His intention. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be here(see the Ontological Argument in essay I). God gave humans certain brain capabilities. By the fact that it is God’s intention to limit our brains’ function, God doesn’t want us trying to comprehend things beyond our brains capability. We must understand the universe just using our God given ability.

God created humans with the ability to reason, make decisions and with emotions. God created humans with a higher intelligence then animals. It would appear that God created the universe for humans. Animals can’t comprehend more then their built in instincts let alone a God. What possible function could a human have in the universe in relation to God? Essentially, I am trying to figure out the meaning of life.

“Uh, try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations…” -Monty Python’s Meaning Of Life

No Meaning To Life
I couldn’t talk about this topic without talking about Nihilism. The Nihilist approach is to say there is no point to life and no reason. Existence has no reason. No plan. Nothing. Nada. (People on Spring Break usually use this philosophy party hardy!) This idea is very strong because it can not be disproved. The only thing I can think of to help our cause is that by the fact the we are here, there is reason, or else the Perfect Being (God) would have created something with out a cause and that is not perfect.

Worship
I think the first idea that people think of as our function in this world, is to worship God. We might say that God created us to worship Him. I don’t think this is true. I think worship is part of a mechanical feature within a religion. I don’t think it is the purpose of man. This will be explained in a later essay after we have already picked a religion.

Do Good
Another popular idea may be that man’s purpose here is to do good. I don’t fully understand why people think this is the meaning of life. Perhaps they feel that if they do good then they get credit points with God. This makes man’s purpose purely selfish. Good deeds help a person with self-growth, which is very close to the meaning of life. Doing good is a feature of a religion but it doesn’t explain the actually meaning of life.

Populate
There is an idea expressed (usually along with care for the earth and the environment) that states one of man’s purposes is to populate the earth. Why in the world would this be a goal of life? Have relations and lots of it! Lets churn out kids to make this world have lots and lots and lots of people. Maybe we could use them to form a stellar army and face off against other worlds in a galactic battle of the stars. OR to populate is another feature of a religion but not the purpose of life.

Do God’s Will
Man’s purpose here is to do the will of God. Of course we must do God’s will or else we wouldn’t be here. This could be an option. There is just one major defect with this idea. Because God is, well, God, He doesn’t need or want anything. To say He does, limits Him and being a God, He has no limits. More on this idea in a later essay.

Explore Man’s Purpose
The meaning of life is a trek to find the purpose of man. This is ludicrous. To spend your whole life searching for something you can’t possibly attain. God didn’t create a goal that is beyond human ability. God gave us our limited ability for a reason. To use it for what it is. Not to try and use it for something it can’t be used for. Enjoy this endless loop of reasoning if you want drive yourself mad.

The Mesilat Yesharim(Path Of The Just) Approach
There are Jews in the audience that will try and quote from “Path Of The Just” by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto(18th century philosopher) which says that mans duty in this world is to get to get a nice seat in the next world and by doing the commandments in this world, we can get a nice seat in the next world. The Ramchal (short for Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto) failed to explain HOW this works. What reason is there that by doing commandments we get better places in the next world? To me, it is outlined in the next paragraph.

Be Close To God
This is what I think the meaning of life is. It is man’s goal to be close to God. We are here. He is ‘there’. The only thing we have in connection to each other is the ability to move closer or farther apart from each other. God doesn’t need us to be closer to Him; We should try to be closer to God. Most of this idea is dependent on self-growth. How we go about getting closer to God and self-growth will be looked at in the exploration of religions.

Being close to God is what it is all about. In this world we try to get close to him so that we can spend eternity in the next world being close to him. In later essays we will explore what commandments are all about and further try to learn what the Ramchal is talking about correctly.

This is my outlook on the meaning of life and the purpose of human beings. I am sure there are plenty of people who will disagree with me. That is fine. This is my opinion. I just request that anyone who does have their own ideas, please be sure it was received by using your head, not your heart and I would love to read about it in the comments section.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Don't You Love Thai Food?

In the US, replace "Thai Food" for "Doughnuts".

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - Thai policemen with waistlines larger than 40 inches have been ordered to reduce their weight in order to look good when they direct traffic, the police department announced Tuesday.

Recent medical examinations of 4,150 police officers in Bangkok found that 49 percent have high cholesterol and are overweight, which is "an obstacle" in directing traffic, said a statement from the Metropolitan Police Bureau.

Eighty-eight of the overweight officers whose waistlines ranged between 40 and 49 inches were ordered to join the "Smart Police," a one-month weight-loss program.
Reminds me of Chief Wiggum.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Battlefield 2™

EA Games released the sequel to their popular Battlefield series last week. Following Battlefield 1942 and Battlefield Vietnam comes Battlefield 2. Unlike BF2’s predecessors, BF2 is not based on real life circumstances. BF42 takes place in WWII and uses the weapons, tanks, planes, etc of that time period. The playing field is also based on WWII map points that existed. BFV takes place during Vietnam and also includes the weapons, planes, tanks, jeeps, helicopters, etc. of that time period. The maps are all in Vietnam, most with lush over growth giving a jungle atmosphere. BF2 is in a fictional world. Many of the weapons, etc are similar to those that we have today and that maps look like places that could really exist but all are fictional. That might be the only un-realistic thing about BF2.

The graphics are extremely realistic in BF2. The EA team, along with DICE, have really done an outstanding job in making the fictional world become real. To optimally play you will need a strong graphics card. EA recommends one with 256MB on it. Mine has 128MB and I keep my graphics settings on medium. The world still looks amazing.

A big addition to BF2 is the Commander Mode feature and a squad structure. Basically this allows you to split your team in to squads, each having a squad leader. There is also one person who can be Commander. The commander can communicate with the squad leaders and the squad leaders can communicate with the commander and their own squad. The commander can assign tactical movements to the squad leaders and the squad leaders can then carry down those commands to their squads. Squad leaders can also communicate up the ladder requesting artillery strikes and other things from the commander. The person playing Commander can see the entire map, use scanners, spy drones, and artillery strikes. Each of these are timed and the commander must wait a small amount of time before he can use each item again. These three options- Scanner, UAV(which allows you team to see a small section of the map), and Artillery strikes are all dependent on structures on the battlefield. If an enemy were to destroy the Scanner room, the UAV Satellite or the Artillery silo, the commander can’t use them. The commander also has one more option which can not be destroyed. The ability to drop supply crates anywhere on the field. This leads me to the next big addition.

The battlefield has NO ammo boxes or health boxes at all. Usually games are unrealistic because the battlefield is littered with ammo supply boxes and health boxes to help people as they go around the map. BF2 makes people rely on two options to receive ammo or health. The first option is to rely on the Commander to parachute a supply crate down on the map somewhere for use. The second option is to have a Support unit and a Medic unit on your team.

If you are in close proximity to a Support or Medic they will replenish you in your ammo or health deficiency(respectively). These units can also drop packs for others to use when the Support or Medic has left the area. Another cool feature of the medic is the ability to revive people after death. The medic carries around shock paddles and could bring back critically wounded soldiers. Other units include snipers, engineers, assaults, etc. Each unit has its own specific role on the battlefield.

Incorporated into BF2 is VOIP. This is the first time anything like this has been seen in a video game. VOIP allows players in game to use voice communication without the need of 3rd party software. Not only that, but the game is set up to use VOIP in the command structure. Squads can only talk within a squad, Squad Leaders can talk to their own squad and the commander and the commander can talk to all squad leaders. This division makes communication clear and precise. No longer will team mates on the complete other side of the map interfere with you trying to relay something to a teammate next to you on the map. The commander can use voice to actually speak to squad leaders to let them get intelligence. Same for squad leaders to their squads. I have played a bunch of times using the demo version of the game in public servers. It is amazing to hear 32 random people you don’t know easily set up into a structure that is functional in milliseconds.

I give this game very high ratings.

To download the demo please go HERE. The retail version is to be released in the US on June 22.

See you on the battlefield.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Stir with a Straw

Why are coffee mixers little red straws? What is the purpose of that? Why not little pink spoons (like you get at the ice cream store to take tastes) or some other mixing tool?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

I. God

Even though, at this point, it may seem like I am begging the question because we have not yet proved that God exists, I must relate this to you: Judaism requires us to use our brains and not to have "[blind] faith" that Judaism is the correct religion. We must see, understand and conclude there IS a God.

Since there is no hard evidence that God does or does not exist, aethiest as well as those who believe in God are all on a level playing field. No one knows. Everyone only believes.

The burden of proof is in proving that God does exist. You will see that this can’t be done because humans have limited ability. There is no burden to prove he doesn’t exist; It is very easy to be an atheist.

I am human. As a human, I came into this world with limited brain function(insert joke here). All humans, because of their nature, cannot understand certain ideas. A sample question is: "If a God is all mighty, can He create an object that He cant lift?" On one hand- God is suppose to be able to do anything- including create the heaviest object. On the other hand- God can lift anything. As human beings, we can't answer such a question. We don't have the brain capacity to do it.

As humans, with our limited ability, we can't prove God's existence. God is something we can't see, hear or touch. God is infinite and we can't understand that either. What created God? Where did He come from? These are questions that are beyond the limits of human understanding. Proving God's existence cannot be done. What can be done, is to use our human ability to deduce reason a divine presence.

The Ontological Argument
I will start with the Ontological Argument. This argument does not use any evidence to prove Gods existence. First we understand the concept of God to include the trait of perfection. To be perfect includes to exist. By the fact that God is perfect, He must exist.

The Cosmological Argument
The only evidence we have for this argument is that we are here. Something caused the universe to be. The cause was/is around for infinite time. That initial cause is God.

Pascal’s Wager
I know this isn't usually found in regards to proving God, but I have seen some places that use it as an argument for God so I will include it here for whatever it is worth.
Blaise Pascal is credited with, if not the actual idea then the roots of the idea. Pascal’s Wager does not use evidence to prove Gods existence. It uses a persons' self interest. It is in our best interest to believe in God. If we believe in God and He exists, we gain reward. Whereas if He does not exist, we have lost nothing. If we don’t believe in God and He does exist, we are open for punishment. Whereas if He does not exist we have lost nothing. It is in our best interest to choose A)’getting reward or nothing’ and to pass on B)’getting punishment or nothing’.

The Teleological Argument (The Argument From Design)
This argument has much evidence. It is often used to prove God's existence more then other arguments because man can see it. The universe is very complex: how ecology works and how there is a symbiotic relationship in the world. The probability that the complex universe and the intricate earth happened by chance, is slim. This world has the exact condition to house life- the prefect mixture of gases, the weather systems, etc. The universe `evolved` into many systems including our solar system that has Earth orbiting at the exact distance to sustain life. Venus is too hot and Mars is too cold. Imagine someone has dropped their fruit in a scattered pattern and you come across it. You will assume it accidentally fell. Imagine now that you came across lots of fruit in a small area. You might assume someone spilled their container with out realizing it. Now imagine a detailed structure of towers and pyramids of fruit. You will assume someone placed it there very carefully. So is the universe created very carefully. To say the order of the universe is set out so precisely by chance would be absurd. It is much more probable that the universe was created by a divine being.

There is also what to be said about miracles. One can argue that if the Bible is true, then the miracles contained in it are proof of God's existence. I don’t want to use this argument because the prerequisite for it is to believe the bible is true. If anyone is at this point in the journey to find God, they haven’t accepted the bible as true yet (if at all).

God exists. There are many more proofs besides the few that I’ve outlined here. Notice that I am not relying on spiritual feeling or emotion to comprehend God. I am trying to use my brain to determine His existence.

Intro. God, Reiligion, Judasim

I would like to share with everyone my understanding of what Judaism is. Since it requires much introduction, I will split up my writings in to essays to be posted every so often.

This outline is subject to change, but I think I will start with God's existence. Whether or not God exists provides the basis that everything else stands on. I will explore the different philosophical schools of thought on this matter. After we prove that there is something divine out there, we will explore what religion means, what it is used for, and what each of the more popular religions have to offer. At this point, I will start to get into my understanding of what Judaism is and why following the G-d of the Israelites(as a Jew and a Non-Jew) is the correct path. I will then spend a few essays focusing on a few different aspects of Judaism. After that, I don't know where the writing will lead…

So please stop in and have a look at a few of my thoughts. I am sure there will be plenty to argue with at the beginning stages and much to ponder towards the middle. It will be a learning experience for me too.

You can keep up with all of the posts related to this topic on the side bar in the section titled: "God, Religion, & Judaism".

A quick jump guide to the essays:
  • Intro. Start Here (The post you are looking at right now)

  • I. God - Proofs

  • II. Life - The Meaning Of

  • III. Religion - Coming Soon!

  • IV.-Etc. - Coming Eventually!
  • Friday, June 10, 2005

    The Shavuos Post

    I looked in the Mishna Brurah for some practices to do on Shavuos. I found one minhag. To eat dairy. I did not see one mention of staying up all night. I believe it is a practice that people follow because the Zohar mentions that the sages did it.

    I don't follow the Zohar, nor am I a sage, so I am going to get a good nights rest which will allow me to pray in the morning without passing out during Krias Hatorah/Haftorah.

    Some Mt Sinai Pics(click to enlarge):

    Here is a question from DovBear.

    Jews and Food and The Dead

    There is something about Jews. They are always eating. Always.
    HOUSTON (AP) - Two daughters have sued a synagogue after they found a potato chip can in place of their mother's remains behind the locked, glass door of her niche in a mausoleum.

    When the women visited Vivian Shulman Lieberman's niche in a Houston mausoleum a year ago, they found the cedar chest containing her ashes missing and a can of sour-cream-and-onion potato chips in its place.

    1- Am I going to hell because I think this is hilarious?
    2- Sour-cream-and-onion is an excellent choice.

    Wednesday, June 08, 2005

    THE CAREFUL BUILDER

    I saw them tearing a building down - a gang of men, in my hometown.

    With a heave, and a ho, and a 'yes, yes!' yell They swung a beam, and a sidewall fell.

    I said to the foreman, "Are these men skilled? Like the ones you'd use if you had to build?"

    He laughed and said, "Oh, no! Indeed! The most common labor's all I need. Because I can destroy, in a day or two, what it takes a builder ten years to do."

    And I thought to myself, as I went my way - Which of these roles am I willing to play?

    Am I one, who's tearing down, as I carelessly make my way around?

    Or am I one who builds with care? So my family, my community, is just a little better, because I was there.


    Author unknown

    From Michael Ammars web site