8/03/2014

Some History On Gaza


With everything that’s going on, it’s easy to forget that Gaza has a long Jewish history. It’s an odd history, however. The fact is that Gaza has never sat right with the Jewish people. Isaac, one of the three Biblical forefathers, was born somewhere between Beer Sheba and Gaza, precisely in the area that is suffering the most rocket attacks from Hamas. Both Abraham and his son Isaac had problems with the local rulers. (Genesis 20:1-3,11-12, 26:1,7)

Biblically, the area was allotted to the tribe of Judah, but the Jews never quite secured it. It’s always been an area of conflict, an arena for confrontation between Jews and hostile neighbors.

After the Biblical Exodus, during the period of the Judges, the territory fell under Philistine control. The Philistines were an Aegean people, meaning they came from the area of modern Greece. In ancient Egyptian writings, they are described as one of the “Sea Peoples” that attempted to invade Egypt and conquer the whole area.

Even if you think you’ve never heard of the Philistines, you have. The most infamous Philistines are the warrior Goliath, who was famously defeated by King David as a youth and Delilah, the biblical hottie that seduced the Israelite strongman Samson and brought about his downfall.

The Philistines exited from history in 722 BCE, when they were taken into captivity by the Assyrians.

After the Philistines disappeared, the area came under the control of various empires, e.g. the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans. The only common denominator was the Jews. For example, in 145 BCE Gaza came under Maccabean control (you remember the Maccabees, their victories are still celebrated during Hanukkah). This is what the Book of Maccabees (1:15) has to say about Gaza:

"Not a strange land have we conquered, and not over the possessions of strangers have we ruled, but of the inheritance of our Fathers that was in the hands of the enemy and conquered by them unlawfully. And as for us, when we had the chance, we returned to ourselves the inheritance of our Fathers."

It might seem strange today to call Gaza the “inheritance of our [Jewish] fathers”, but there it is.

After the great Jewish revolts against the Roman empire in 67 CE and again in 132 CE, with the destruction of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel, Gaza again played a strange role in Jewish history: it served as the main marketplace for Jewish slaves into the Roman empire. Nonetheless, the Jews returned, and by the 4th century, the Jewish community flourished. Gaza was the main port for Jewish commerce in the Holy Land. More than this, over the next few centuries, Gaza served as a center of Talmudic and Kabbalistic (Jewish mysticism) studies. But even here, things went off track. In 1665 the Kabbalist Nathan of Gaza became a key “prophet” of the false messiah, Shabbatai Tzvi. Tzvi created a messianic stir in the Jewish world until he was forcibly converted to Islam. This sent shockwaves throughout the Jewish diaspora, which took decades to recover from “the messiah’s” apostasy.

By the time the Arabs arrived in the 7th century CE/AD, Jews had been in Gaza for over 2000 years. In 1929, when the area was under British control, after the Jews of Hebron were massacred by the local Arab population, British forces evacuated the entire Jewish community of Gaza for fear of a massive pogrom.

Archaeologically speaking, several important finds have been uncovered. First, a 6th century synagogue. More dramatically, in 1965 Egyptian archaeologists discovered a mosaic image of King David playing a harp. This mosaic had once graced this 6th century synagogue. What happened to the archaeology? When it came to King David, locals promptly gouged out his face for fear that it demonstrates a connection between Jews and Gaza. When the Israel Defense Forces conquered the area during the 1967 war, Israeli archaeologists removed what was left of the mosaic and, using a photograph, restored the face. It is now on permanent display at the Israel Museum.

The Great Mosque of Gaza was originally a Crusader church. But one of the upper columns in this magnificent structure originated in an ancient synagogue: Near the top of the column a menorah was engraved. The menorah was encircled by a wreath. On the right of it was a shofar, the ram’s horn sounded on Rosh Hashanah, and on its left was a lulav, a palm branch used during the fall festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles). The inscription below, in Hebrew and Greek, reads “Hananiah, Son of Jacob”. He probably sculpted this engraving, or it was dedicated to him.

The menorah remained there for all to see from the time of the Crusaders. Recently, it was destroyed by locals.

So it seems that Gaza has always been problematic for Israel. But the Bible does state that there was one period when Judah and Israel had peace. This is the way it describes it: “So Judah and Israel lived in safety, every man under his vine and his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba.” Meaning, there were no ancient missiles and no war. This period of bliss was during the reign of King Solomon. According to the book of Kings (1 Kings 4:24-5), the key to the peace was the fact that Solomon “had dominion over everything west of the River, from Tiphsah all the way to Gaza.”

Reprinted with author’s permission


7/26/2014

Dating Advice For Nerds Redux


My story is probably not that much different from anyone else's. I was married to the same woman for 23 years and later in the marriage I came to realize that she suffers from histrionic personality disorder ("Drama Queen"). She refused to get help and it became intolerable, and that is why we're divorced.

For nearly the first ten years after the divorce, I simply immersed myself in my work and didn't think much about dating. I'm a geek, a professional software developer; I have a 25 year old autistic son who lives with me at home, and so I really don't have a lot of time for the dating or bar scene.
But in the last year or so I kind of woke up and came to realize that I really would like to find a life partner. Somebody I can love and be positive with, somebody to wake up with in the morning and have coffee with, to travel with, and so on. Now if you are in a position like mine (and I know many of my friends, both men and women, are indeed) then you basically have two choices:

1) You can try to find somebody on social media
2) You can use one of the online dating sites.

I started out with the social media route and quickly found out what I was doing wrong: I was "falling in love" with women who lived many states away. One of them was even married, although I didn't find out until later. This long-distance stuff usually doesn't work at all. I do know a few people that have endured it and finally gotten together, but in general, economies of distance and cost, plus the amount of time you have to wait until you get to see your partner in person again, make it a very bad choice for finding a mate. It also consumes a lot of your precious time.

The other option, the dating sites, is actually a pretty good one. My view, having tried several, is that the "for pay" sites are no better than the "free" sites. Match.com never produced as good results for me as, say, Pof.com - which consistently produces. What you want to do is make sure that your search is restricted to "easy driving distance" - say 25 or 50 miles. If you have written a good profile with plenty of photos, and a clear description of your dating goals, you should have no difficulty finding more prospective customers than you can possible handle. In my case, I've never had any difficulty attracting women, most often they approach me. But I also send messages out to women that I think might be good candidates.

The key thing is only to use the dating site for one purpose: to meet with somebody and have a coffee. That's all it takes because if there is any kind of chemistry there you'll know in the first five minutes. Sometimes after a couple of dates you (or the other person) will conclude that this person isn't for you. Excuse yourself graciously, do not dally, and go on to someone new.

The second thing is to manage your expectations and be realistic. So many people talk about getting "swept off my feet by Prince Charming" Bulshit! If you want to find the love of your life you must actively engage and really look for him or her. They simply are not going to magically "fall into your lap". You also need to understand what love is. Most of us mistake infatuation or "limerence" or "passion" for love. It's not, and unless it is soon accompanied by the deeper stages of love, it can disappear in the blink of an eye.

Popular culture has done us a great disservice in our understanding of romantic love. From a young age, we watch movies and read books that form the scripts of our adult relationships. But popular culture usually gets it wrong, often in the name of entertainment, and ends up confusing love with limerence, which is precisely what most of us do.

I'm having great success in my dating endeavors. I'm a lot more mature now, and when something doesn't work out, I don't fret or dwell on it. Sooner or later, I'll find her. You can too.

7/23/2014

Why Most People Are Getting the Israel / Gaza Conflict Wrong

 The problem that many people arguing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have is that they have no idea who is who, and what are the historical forces behind the conflict.

Most people outside of the middle east think the violence in Gaza is a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But history shows us something different: At the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, the division of land to be agreed was that the Jews would receive Palestine from the Mediterranean Sea and including what is today Jordan, and the Arabs would receive the Arab Peninsular and what is today Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq.  This, in effect, converted the Balfour Declaration into a binding legal document. It was no longer the whim of a British Government with no rights but now incorporated into international law by the Supreme Council of the Principal Allied Powers. The Jewish people have the legal right to live and remain in every part of the territory which was part of the Mandated territory of Palestine, which is now Israel. There was never a "Palestinian arab state" - until 1967 when Yasir Arafat declared an intifada, so-called "Palestinian" arabs always considered themselves a part of Syria in accordance with the Paris accords.

The violence today has cultural and ideological underpinnings that are detached from the dispute between the two parties. The Nazis hated the Jews and established a mechanism for their destruction, not because of some religious or national controversy, but because the Jews were in fact part of a larger goal: the destruction of non-Aryan culture. The Holocaust was born out of a twisted moral code, not out of a conflict that could have been resolved through negotiation and compromise. One only needs to read about Neville Chamberlain who returned from a meeting with Hitler declaring to the British that peace was at hand.

The west fails to see Hamas's cultural war; it tends to ignore the common denominator between Hamas’s organizational and ideological fundamentalism and global Islamic fundamentalism. As they see it, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations are local, with local goals and not a global branch of the network of Islamic fundamentalist terror organizations. The blindness of the west is so great that it completely ignores the Hamas Covenant, that does not hide its racist goals, in which the west, and Israel as an extension of the west, do not exist on the global map. In fact, both Hamas and the Fatah (Palestinian Authority) still have written in their charters the TOTAL DESTRUCTION OF ISRAEL.


In this current conflict Hamas demonstrates its non-rational precepts. The hundreds of millions of dollars donated by Persian gulf and western states are used, instead of to improve the population’s quality of life, to stockpile a huge arsenal of rockets, build bunkers and offensive tunnels under the Gazan-Israeli border (tunnels leading into Israeli towns, and equipped with weapons, explosives and narcotics). All the Palestinian Authority’s attempts to work together with Hamas for the benefit of the Palestinian population have failed miserably. Moreover, Hamas’s terms for ceasefire do not include any clause regarding peace negotiations or permanent settlement. This recent conflict pushed the boundaries so far that the Palestinian Authority itself does not actively blame Israel for the conflict, following Israel's acceptance of the Egyptian cease fire proposal and Hamas' refusal. The conflict actually has pushed Israel and the Palestinian Authority to the same side.

As horrific as it may sound, a cease fire now could be the biggest mistake of this conflict. Letting Israel finish off Hamas will finally let the Palestinian Authority regain control of Gaza, and negotiations for permanent peace over all the territories can commence and be fruitful. In the meantime accusations about "Israeli war crimes" and "killing women and children" will probably go on, fueled by misguided, biased, uninformed people who have never taken the time to really examine the facts.

Sources:
Barry Shaw: http://goo.gl/W713F1
Wikipedia:   http://goo.gl/hi4w
David Phillips: http://goo.gl/oYoEGB
Kate Savage: http://goo.gl/AgyCc

7/21/2014

What is Limerence?


In lay terms limerence is romantic love, crazy love, lovesick, mad love, amour fort. You see a theme in the words crazy, sick, and mad. In this condition, one's body drugs itself mightily with hormones that create a feeling of joy. The rapture is balanced with the panic and dread that it could end. And it will. Limerence has a shelf life. By most estimates, you're lucky to get 12 months. 

Dorothy Tennov, PhD, author of the groundbreaking 1979 book Love and Limerence, is the woman who originated the term.  Popular culture has done us a great disservice in our understanding of romantic love. From a young age, we watch movies and read books that form the scripts of our adult relationships. But popular culture usually gets it wrong, often in the name of entertainment, and ends up confusing love with limerence, which is precisely what most of us do.

Limerence has been described as "an involuntary interpersonal state that involves an acute longing for emotional reciprocation, obsessive-compulsive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and emotional dependence on another person." Some call limerence infatuation, lovesickness, or romantic love, while others relate it to love addiction. Some have humorously called it "affection deficit disorder".

But the bottom line is that limerence is absolutely not love. According to psychologist Robert Sternberg, who has invested some $20 million in research grants studying the subjects of love and hate, there are actually three stages to love: Passionate or romantic love (limerence), Companionate love, and finally, Committed love. Without the progression to the last two stages, a relationship based on infatuation, passion or limerence is subject to disappear very suddenly. 

So, the next time you find yourself saying "I love him" or "I love her" - think again. It might only be the very first stage, limerence.

7/10/2014

Something Different

6/23/2014

Reminders in Google Now


Create reminders for tasks, places to visit, events, and more. You're notified of your reminders in Google Now.
You can set reminders from the main Google Now screen on an Android or iOS device, or you can create them in a Chrome browser window.
This feature is currently available in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Brazilian Portuguese.

Create a reminder

  • Touch the microphone icon Microphone icon, say “Remind me to,” and say what you want to be reminded about. Then touchSet reminder.
  • Touch the  Reminders icon.
Google Now displays the reminder as a card on the main Google Now screen. You can swipe away the card when you're finished with it.
You will receive a notification for a reminder at the top of your screen. To view or snooze the notification, swipe down from the top of the screen.

View & manage reminders

To view and manage all of your upcoming and past reminders, touch the  Reminders icon.

Time reminders

To receive a reminder at a particular time, follow these steps:
  1. Open Google Now.
  2. Touch the microphone icon Microphone icon.
  3. Say “Remind me to,” and say what you want to do and the exact or approximate time.
For example:
  • Remind me to go to band practice every Tuesday and Thursday at 6pm. (English only)
  • Remind me to buy milk this evening.
When you finish, touch Set reminder.
Alternatively, you can do the following:
  1. Touch the  Reminders icon at the bottom of the Google Now screen.
  2. Touch the  Add icon, type the reminder, and choose When.
  3. Select the date and time, and how often you want to be reminded, then touch Remind me at this time.
When the time you specified is approaching, Google Now displays the reminder as a card.

Location reminders

To remind yourself to do something at a location the next time you’re nearby, follow these steps:
  1. Open Google Now and touch the microphone icon Microphone icon.
  2. Say what you want to be reminded about and the location, and touch Set reminder.
For example:
  • Remind me to pay my utility bill when I get home.
  • Remind me to try the Belgian chocolate at Ghirardelli Square.
Alternatively, you can do the following:
  1. Touch the  Reminders icon at the bottom of the Google Now screen.
  2. Touch the  Add icon, type the reminder, and choose Where.
  3. Select your home or work address, or choose Set location and type the address.
  4. Touch Remind me at this place.

Event reminders

If you’re searching Google for certain events while signed in to your Google Account, you can have Google Now remind you about that event. When the search results are displayed, you may see Remind me on Google Now. Select that option, and you’ll see a confirmation that Google Now will remind you about this event on your phone or tablet.
To cancel the reminder, click Cancel on the knowledge card.

Delete a reminder

  1. Touch the  Reminders icon.
  2. Touch any reminder, then touch OK to delete it.
You can create reminders for tasks, places to visit, and events. Reminders are currently only available in English on newer iPhones and iPads.

Create & delete reminders

See the reminders you've created

You’ll see your reminder as a Google Now card at the time or place you asked to be reminded. If you don’t need the reminder anymore, swipe the reminder away.
To see all your upcoming and past reminders, touch the gear icon  in the top left corner of the home screen >Reminders. (If you’re in Google Now, scroll down to get back to the homepage.)

Types of reminders

You can easily create reminders in Chrome and manage them in Google Now. Setting a reminder in Chrome is currently available in English only. 
To create a reminder, follow these steps:
  1. Make sure Google Now is turned on for your Android device or an iPhone or iPad.
  2. Open Google or a new Chrome browser window, and sign in to your Google Account. For example, you can sign in to Chrome or Gmail.
  3. Type "Remind me" followed by what you want to be reminded about in the search box, such as "Remind me to buy milk this evening."
  4. Click the magnifying glass. You'll see the details you can edit for your reminder.
  5. Click Remind me on Google Now to create your reminder.
You'll be notified of your reminder in Google Now on your Android or iOS device. Select the "Android" or "iOS" categories above to learn about managing or deleting reminders in Google Now.
(Adapted from Google Help)

3/05/2014

Relationships, Love and Expectations


Many people drift through life hoping that love will "find them" like some sort of gift from God. It rarely works out that way. One must be actively engaged with new people and actively looking, and eventually, there will be some chemistry that tells us "I really like this person". And, we'll see that the chemistry is present in the partner as well. When that happens, we need to be very careful to manage our expectations.

Then, we need to work to develop that relationship and if things work out well and we are communicating properly, love can develop.
One of the biggest relationship impediments is the communications part, and that means managing expectations. We frequently expect a little too much, a little too soon. And that can spell relationship disaster.

First of all, you must know what it is that you want in a partner, and manage your expectations so that they are realistic. Otherwise, you may end up going through a whole series of encounters that simply don't work out for one reason or another. If you are divorced or have been in a relationship where you have been hurt by another, you have to be able to get past those hurt feelings, open your heart, and learn not to have unrealistic expectations for a new relationship.

While the early weeks and months of a relationship can feel effortless and exciting, successful long-term relationships involve ongoing effort and compromise by both partners. Building healthy patterns early in your relationship can establish a solid foundation for the long run. Many times,  one partner simply doesn't want to move that fast. So, tossing away someone simply because they want to take it slow could turn out to be a big mistake. It's important to keep communicating as expectations can and will change over time - but only if you are communicating and listening.

2/07/2014

Blocking an ex online lover as an act of kindness

I strongly recommend taking the step of blocking somebody on Google+ (or another social network) with whom you had an online relationship with, that didn't work out, for whatever reason. Here are the benefits:

1) It establishes to both parties that  you have a sense of self - worth and confidence. If the other person really cared about you, they would have contacted you by now. Since they have not, it shows that they aren't dealing with the situation in a mature, adult manner, or that they really didn't care about you as much as you thought. Either way, it's time to say goodbye and the way you do that is to *cut off all contact*.

2) Often, people who are involved in online relationships that fail attempt to relegate the relationship to the "let's just be friends" level. They will follow you around like a puppy, making you emotionally miserable because they still think "you are a friend". They simply won't "get the message". Make no mistake - if you've been romantically involved with someone and it blows up like this, you've been FRIENDZONED.  Blocking in cases like this is an act of kindness - both to yourself and to them.

3) It's just good business practice. When the offending party has been blocked, you don't have to worry about them reading your content and you are free to move on with an open heart. It may hurt for a while, but it will go away.

Been jilted by someone? Try my solution. You'll thank me later!

2/05/2014

Nye vs Ham, Evolution, Creationism, and Intelligent Design

The widely publicized debate between "science" (Bill Nye) and "religion" (Ken Ham) led me to make sure I understand my terms. I have no issue understanding the scientific basis for evolution; there is an extensive fossil record. But the "religion" side may be a bit murkier. You really have
Creationism vs Intelligent Design here.

Creationism comes in different varieties, from the strictest biblical literalism, which says the Earth is only a few thousand years old, to the theistic evolutionism of the Catholic Church, which accepts evidence that the Earth is millions of years old, and that evolution can explain much of its history—but not the creation of the human soul. Between those, there are the "Young-Earth" and the "Old-Earth" creationists, who differ over the age of the planet and the details of how God created life.

The limited scope of Intelligent Design theory actually makes it compatible with a wide range of views. Some ID theorists do believe in evolution — or at least that different species can change over time — and many believe that the Earth was created more than 10,000 years ago. But there are also ID theorists who believe in a 100 percent literal reading of Genesis and stick to it.

Young-Earth creationists criticize the Intelligent Design people for encouraging a "loose" reading of the Bible, and the design theorists say that ID represents at least the "partial truth" and that it is, at the least, the best available tool for dislodging what they see as evolutionist dogma.

When all this is said and done - and I found this debate really boring and designed mostly for publicity - I think the real question we should be asking ourselves is whether we are teaching our chilldren the critical thinking skills they need to be mature adults in a changing world. If we can say that we've done that, they should be perfectly capable of making up their own minds.

1/29/2014

Some Facts About the Minimum Wage That You Probably Didn't Know

1) Only 1 Percent Of The U.S. Labor Force Earns The Minimum Wage
2) Teenagers Comprise The Single Largest Age Group Of Minimum Wage Workers
3) Most Minimum Wage Workers Are Under The Age Of 25
4) A Majority Of Those Who Earn The Minimum Wage Work In Food Preparation Or Sales
5) Less Than 5 Percent Of People Who Earn The Minimum Wage Work In Construction Or Manufacturing
6) A Majority Of Them Also Worked Less Than 30 Hours Per Week
7) Less Than One-Third Worked Full-Time
8) A Full-Time Minimum Wage Worker In 2014 Will Make 24 Percent More Than The Federal Poverty Limit
9) One-Third Of Minimum Wage Workers Either Dropped Out Of Or Never Attended High School
10) There Are Nearly Six Times More Minimum Wage Workers Today Than In 2007
11) A Change In The Minimum Wage Often Triggers Union Wage Hikes And Benefit Renegotiations

In truth, there is only one way to regard a minimum wage law: it is compulsory unemployment. The law says: it is illegal, and therefore criminal, for anyone to hire anyone else below the level of X dollars an hour. This means that a large number of free and voluntary wage contracts are now outlawed and hence that there will be a large amount of unemployment. Remember that the minimum wage law does not provide any jobs; it only outlaws them; and outlawed jobs are the inevitable result.

Sources: The Federalist http://goo.gl/c85z33 , Thomas Sowell

1/28/2014

Getting Over a Failed Relationship

The best way to get over a failed relationship is to be completely honest with yourself.  The worst thing you can do is spend time imagining how things “could have been” or what “might have happened.”  The relationship failed, and that’s all there is to it.


Maybe it failed because your partner wasn’t faithful, maybe your personalities just didn't "click", or maybe you both got bored with each other.  There are plenty of reasons why relationships fail.

The first thing to do is give your old relationship the funeral it deserves.  This goes for a lot of things in life outside of relationships.  You have to move past the hurt feelings and the disappointment.  The better your relationship was, the worse this process may be. A lot of it also depends on how long the relationship lasted. The old adage of "well, we can just be friends"  is very difficult to make work; it's better to just make a clean break and forget everything - the sooner, the better.

The best way to get over these feelings is to put your mind on something else.  You are not a robot, so you can’t turn your feelings off and on like a faucet.  What you can do, however, is introduce yourself to activities that help you feel good and get your mind off the relationship.  Volunteering is one of the best ways of doing this, or sinking yourself into one of your creative pursuits such as art or photography.

If you feel overpowered by your circumstances and don’t know where to turn, then now might be the time to learn about meditation.  You cannot stop strong emotions, but what you can do is learn how to control them.  Meditation is the act of bringing your mind and thoughts under control.  This might seem weird and "new age", but I come from a family of meditators -  it works for me and it can work for you.

Find a quiet spot, undisturbed and away from any cluttered areas in your house.  Get into a comfortable position. Then, concentrate on your breathing. Think of nothing else.  If a stray thought wanders into your mind, simply objectively throw it away and go back and concentrate on your breathing.

Knowing how to get over a failed relationship is knowing how to master yourself.  It’s knowing how to remove pain and fear from your life.  It’s a hard road, no doubt, but it can be done and time heals all.