o .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Lamrot Hakol (Despite Everything)

Musings and kvetchings and Torah thoughts from an unconventional Orthodox Jew.

My Photo

"I blog, therefore I am". Clearly not true, or I wouldn't exist except every now and then.

Friday, May 12, 2006

My Endings for Alias

Possible Spoiler Alert

If you're a fan of Alias, and you don't want to hear my ideas for endings for the series (two episodes left, btw), don't continue reading.


Fine, don't blame me.

Ending One

Carrie and Marshall have a fight, because Carrie gets tired of the crush Marshall has on Sydney. He goes out and, uncharacteristically, gets drunk as a skunk.

Stumbling back into APO, he falls against the big Rambaldi thingumie that they've just managed to get away from Prophet Five, and sparks fly. When they clear, Marshall is gone...

...and appears back in the 16th century, where he gets completely disoriented as a result of travelling in time while drunk. Remember, folks. Drinking and time travelling don't mix. He remembers bits and pieces of his life, and winds up becoming Milos Rambaldi.

Ending Two

More time travel, but different. The head of Prophet Five is a genius who wants to travel back in time to meet Rambaldi. And in fact, that's what Rambaldi's endgame is: a time machine.

Sydney figures out that this guy actually is Rambaldi, even if he doesn't realize it yet, and they lead a mission to stop him. In the middle of the worst of the fighting, Sydney and Rambaldi-to-be face each other. Sydney shoots him, and...

...we cut back to Sydney and Danny Hecht, from the pilot, living happily ever after, and the whole damned series never happened.

I can't decide which one I'd prefer.

Omnipotence, Trolling, and Dividing by Zero

When I was in high school, someone brought in a proof that 1 = 0. Some of you have seen this before:

  1. Set x = 1
  2. multiply both sides by x: x2 = x
  3. Subtract one from both sides: x2-1 = x-1
  4. Factor x2-1: (x+1)(x-1) = x-1
  5. Divide both sides by (x-1): x+1 = 1
  6. Subtract 1 from both sides: x = 0

We sat around trying to figure out what was wrong with it, since everything worked out great. In the end, it turned out that since we'd started by defining x as 1, that made (x-1) equal to 0. And we divided by it. You can't divide by zero, because it's meaningless.

So the other day, a 19 year old kid on some forum raised the age-old question "If God is omnipotent, can He make a rock that's so heavy that He can't lift it?" God save me from 19 year olds generally, but this one was apparently quite pleased with himself.

It made me think about that proof for 1 = 0. Because, you see, there's nothing wrong, generally speaking, with dividing by (x-1). It's only because we started by defining x as equal to 1 that it causes a problem. And the same exact thing is true of his question.

When we speak, or write, words have to have meanings. Otherwise, we're not really speaking at all. We're just bibbling our lips. So in that question, the word "God" has to be defined. And it can either be defined as something with limits or something without limits. That should be clear. So consider:

If the word "God" means something without limits, then the last four words of the question "He can't lift it" have no meaning. And the question containing that sentence fragment also has no meaning. If we didn't start by defining God as having no limits, this wouldn't be the case, just like it's fine to divide by (x-1), provided you haven't already set x = 1. But we did, so the sentence becomes gibberish.

That means that for the sentence to make any sense, we have to start from the assumption that the word "God" means something that does have limits. But the question starts out by asking what the case is if God is omnipotent. So it's asking a question about something that it has already ruled out.

And in fact, it turned out that this 19 year old had come to the forum, and posted his question in a new topic, entitled "Can God be omnipotent", despite the fact that he himself doesn't believe in God. What he did by creating that thread was precisely what the question itself does, at its best.


Trolling is about trying to stir things up. Trying to tweak people by pretending that you're interested in a particular subject, when all you're really interested in is eliciting a reaction. Why? I don't know. Maybe because it's fun to watch. Throw a piece of raw meat into a group of sharks and watch the feeding frenzy. It's the same dynamic. And some of us are as clueless as those sharks when a troll stops by. Sometimes we bite because we think the question is being asked honestly. I'm going to try and bear in mind one of the Rules of the Internet:

Do Not Feed The Troll.

Wish me luck.

New Rule re Comments

When someone has to institute a rule like this, it's pretty sad.

Some people think it's valid to respond to blog entries by posting ad hominem comments about my sexual orientation. For those of you who don't know what an ad hominem argument is, it's when you ignore the substance of what a person says, and attack the person instead. An example might be where Reuven says, "Capitalism rocks." Then Shimon says, "Reuven is ugly. Don't listen to what he says about capitalism."

Stupid, yes? But common.

So my new rule here is simply that if you want to attack me on the basis of my being gay, this is is where the comments go. If they're rude enough, I may just delete them. But if you post them to a blog entry that has nothing whatsoever to do with my being gay, I'll just delete them.

And because I know that it's not clear to some people, my mentioning my partner is not about my being gay any more than someone else mentioning their husband or wife is about their being heterosexual. So don't be cute. My blog, my rules.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Dog Owners Suck

Pardon me. I suppose not all dog owners do, but I find it interesting that so many dog owners think that just because they've chosen to adopt an animal, other people need to be afflicted by that choice.

Yesterday, I went with my partner and our daughter to a beach. Turns out that there was a pilot "dog beach" next to this one, fence and all. A place where dogs could be let off their leashes without incurring a fine.

Is that enough for the dog owners? Of course not. There were dogs all over the human beach, mostly unleashed. At one point, we were trying to shoo a large dog away, and the "human" who owned it came up and called the dog away, saying, "Come on away from those mean people."

Mean people. He doesn't know the half of it.

Animals belong in the wild, in a zoo, or on my table, well seasoned. And while I have a hard time understanding the pet-owner mentality, dog owners are far and a way the worst. People who have to be forced by law not to let their animals take dumps on public sidewalks. They're like smokers, who think they have some God given right to drop their cigarette butts wherever they like.